Track Reviews

Track Reviews: 27 June – 3 July 2011

The way we see it, there are two types of revellers to emerge from Glastonbury: the poor sods who experienced the weekend of a lifetime only to crash back to earth with the realisation that the next Glasto is 362 days of slog away, and the even poorer sods who spent 200 for the privilege of spending three days wandering blindly past their favourite bands and trudging through indescribable squalor, their tent neighbours intent on transmitting German techno at the very limit of aural endurance.

We feel your pain, we really do. When Friday night brought ominous skies and then raindrops the size of marbles, we had to turn the telly right up to hear whatever it was Jo Whiley was rasping on about. We even had to throw another log on the fire, its hearty crackling subsequently all but ruining the surround sound magnificence of our high definition, multi-screen coverage. It was nothing less than a living hell.

There remains, however, life after Glasto, and the tracks column is here to help you through that difficult transition. Who knows – the acts featured here may just headline the Pyramid Stage next year, propelled violently into the ether by our magnanimous musings. Or perhaps not.

Apparat – Black Water

Like German electro-giant (not literally) Apparat – AKA Sascha Ring – we too prefer to “design sounds” than simply build beats: a spine-tingling snort of derision here, an otherworldly sigh of resignation there. We’re a smorgasbord of ambience.

What we haven’t yet mastered is Apparat’s ability to channel such God-given gifts of gab into something people would actually willingly listen to, and Black Water is the proof of his latest pudding: a majestic-yet-slightly-menacing slow-burner taken from his forthcoming The Devil’s Walk LP, it pervades patiently into the palette like a schadenfreude sorbet. Just imagine what that tastes like.

New Look – The Ballad

To be young, gifted and Canuck; a heady combination that has seen the likes of Michael Buble and, um, Bill Shatner leave their mark on pop like a body check into the boards, onlookers flinging their Big Gulps into the air at the sheer thrill of the sight.

But Canadian musos are about so much more than chart strangleholds, and Hamilton, Ontario-based boy-girl duo New Look seem to be on the verge of something with The Ballad.

A stunning, stirring spectacular, it builds effortlessly into a keys crescendo pay-off so beautiful that the term “highly anticipated” barely seems to capture the promise implied of the imminent New Look long player. Besides, the deal is sealed with liberal use of cloud-sized dry ice plumes. What’s not to like?

Beastie Boys featuring Santigold – Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win

We love Beastie Boys. We love Santigold. Ergo, we love it when the two get together for city breaks, romantic dinners and long walks on the beach; as long as they remain in range of our powerful night vision goggles.

But we especially love Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win, an orchestral, Louie Walsh-produced pop-rock ballad written by Brian McFadden and that bloke with the posh name from The Feeling.

…Psyche! Oh, we are such cads. It’s a filthy cut of Caribbean dub befitting of both parties’ eminent styles, and most definitely one to at least set your toes a-tappin’ and probably more.

Washed Out – Eyes Be Closed

A touch of reverb is a useful tool for synthpoppers the world over, endowing the most flaccid of tracks with a sense of mystique, but Eyes Be Closed cannot be explained away so easily: it is a genuinely glorious, its composition, constitution and execution as beautiful as anything you’re likely to hear this year.

Taken from debut LP Within And Without – produced by Ben Allen, whose track record reads Animal Collective‘s Merriweather Post Pavilion, Deerhunter‘s Halcyon Digest and Gnarls Barkley‘s St Elsewhere – one would be well advised to keep the feelers out for Washed Out (Ernest Greene to his pals).

JLS – She Makes Me Wanna

JLS are our absolute favourites. There’s Aston, and… er… Martin? And the other two. They make us wanna oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, as they so eloquently state on their latest bombast-heavy dance-pop powerhouse.

We are concerned, however, that the lads dropped the ball in allowing this Dev character a guest spot: when they sing their oh-ohs, it sounds sweet, like they’re holding hands with a girl for the first time, but when she oh-ohs she may as well be fondly – and graphically – recalling heinous acts of dogging with a Mondeo full of soap star has-beens. Mary Whitehouse must be spinning in her grave.

Axel Loughrey – Love Thing

There’s a fine line between “young Joe Strummer” and Jimmy Ray (who wants to know?), but we think young Parisian Axel Loughrey has just about landed on the right side.

The boyish good looks and stylish promo certainly help, but there’s a certain something about the whole affair that lends Love Thing a baton-sized lump of cool credibility. Thing is, we’re not exactly sure what that certain something is; to our Saxon senses it is no more than a fleeting frisson of I don’t know what.

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