Monday, May 01, 2006

Jukebox Juicebox #16

Hard-Fi “Better Do Better”
The Hard-Fi phenomenon has pretty much passed me by, not helped by the rather crap name and uninspiring sleeve designs. Yes, I know, never judge a book by it’s cover and all that… Anyway, this single caught my attention and it’s melody has been nagging at the back of my mind ever since. A slower number than the snippets of their “Stars Of CCTV” album I’ve heard so far, the song focuses on the return of an adulterous ex-girlfriend. Richard Archer’s lyrics are refreshingly direct - ‘Can you see me again? / Yeah right, you’ve been kicked out / Do you think that I’m that stupid?’ - and emotionally frank - ‘I cried so much / My face has never been the same’ - as the narrator realises that the wounds are still open, but steels his resolve to reject the girl he once loved. The flipside offers a dub by Wrongtom and The Stoneleigh Mountain Rockers, which strips both song and lyrics down to the basics – ‘You’re back, sitting on my doorstep / Your face makes me want to be sick / …it's a physical reaction...’ – making “Better Do Better” even more raw, in every sense of the word. All this, and gorgeous flourescent yellow seven-inch vinyl too. A great single that will undoubtedly repeat Hard-Fi’s success to date. Slow dance to this with your ex at the local disco and they'll get the message.

Tracklisting: 1. Better Do Better (original) / 2. (wrongtom wild inna 81 version)

Visit the
official Hard-Fi website

Tiga “(Far From) Home”
The Canadian retro-futurist pop star is back with another slice from his “Sexor” album, featuring the seemingly unstoppable Soulwax. The original version sounds like the Human League fronted by Stephen ‘Tin Tin’ Duffy, whilst veteran producer Dave Bascombe beefs up the rhythm and melody for the ‘radio mix’ on the CD single. A clutch of remixes wisely retain the vocals, but take the song in wonderfully different directions. Chicken Lips deliver a downtempo but extremely funky take. French duo Digitalism kick off with an intro not unlike Toni Basil’s “Mickey”, but rapidly entering dancesloor-shredding Chemical Brothers/DFA territory. Speaking of the latter, the DFA provide a further trademark mix (which is no bad thing, of course). What really pushes this take over the edge is a keyboard hook that sounds naggingly like Abba’s “Gimme Gimme Gimme”, as recently used in Madonna’s “Hung Up”. Four words: It. Works. Better Here. A version of “Move My Body”, the original of which was an exclusive on Erol Alkan’s “Bugged Out” mix compilation, maintains the quality for the dancefloor, with vocodered vocals and a nagging electro rhythm. The 12” vinyl versions offer the full ten-minute DFA remix plus a further ‘Sexor Reprise’ by Tiga himself. A catchy song, offered in a variety of tempting formats. What are you waiting for? Indulge yourself!

Tracklisting [7”]: 1. (Far From) Home (original) / 2. (chicken lips remix)
[CD5]: 1. (Far From) Home (bascombe radio mix) / 2. (digitalism remix) / 3. (dfa remix (joakim edit)) / 4. Move My Body (version 2)

Discogs profiles:
Chicken Lips

King Biscuit Time “Kwangchow”
A quick Google search revealed that Kwangchow is “a city on the Zhu Jiangi delta in southern China; the capital of Guangdong province and a major deep-water port”. My knowledge of world geography and history is pretty poor, so I’m not really much the wiser. As King Biscuit Time is the solo project of former Beta Band frontman Steve Mason, I didn’t expect the lyrics to enlighten me either. Opening chorus ‘How do you find a head when you got no fluid? / How do you find your heart when you feel no love?’, confirmed that expection. It may sound like faint praise but, if you’re a fan of the Beta Band or The Flaming Lips, then you’ll love this unconditionally. For the unconvinced, it’s difficult to know how to sell "Kwangchow" – and bonus track “Tears Dry” – other than to say that Mason is producing a more concise, coherent and generally more enjoyable version of his former band’s sound. If you remain unconvinced, then check out the remixes. The Doctors Of Love (no, never heard of them either) beef up the drum, ‘teardrop’ keyboard and piano parts to create a song that Primal Scream would kill to inlcude on their forthcoming album. Meanwhile, the Suicide Dogz remix creates a naggingly familiar Eastern-sounding beat, frequently looping the vocals to hypnotic effect. An exclusive Suicide D.o.g.z. remix on the Poptones website cranks up the rhythm and dubs the vocals to birth a sweaty floorfiller. A promising taster for forthcoming King Biscuit Time album “Black Gold” and an introduction to a couple of remixers to watch.

Tracklisting: 1. Kwangchow (original) / 2. Tears Dry / 3. Kwangchow (doctors of love remix) / 4. Kwangchow (suicide d.o.g.z. – faudels hash den remix)

Watch the “Kwangchow” video on the
official King Biscuit Time website

Listen to the exclusive ‘let there be more light’ remix of “Kwangchow” by Suicide D.o.g.z. on the
Poptones website

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Blogger Atom Boy said...

I was pleasantly surprised by the Hard-Fi album, to be honest. I, too, might have passed them by because of the awful moniker but I'm glad I gave them a listen. I think when I reviewed the album I also mentioned the honesty of the lyrics. The Japanese music press has been talking about a British revival recently. I think that's a fair comment. It's refreshing to see real bands making real albums again, and selling them to boot. It certainly makes a change from manufactured boy/girl groups butchering great songs and/or getting hits from bland tripe written by hacks.

Like a lot of people I was eagerly anticipating Tiga's debut album but, in the end, it was hardly worth the wait. Much of the new material was comprised of cover versions and I felt that most of the tracks were unnecessarily short. I did like the Speed of Sexor version of (Far from) Home, though.

I guess the KBT album has been put on hold, for some reason, because he seems to have cancelled the planned UK tour. Haven't heard this track but I'll try to get hold of it, despite not being much of a Beta Band fan.

12:54 am  
Blogger Khayem said...

Yeah, there has been the typical mid-decade 'proper songs' revival - Oasis/Blur/Pulp/Britpop in the 90s, The Smiths & indie music in the 80s, punk in the 70s, etc - to the extent that the manufactured pop acts are jumping on the bandwagon. The Sugababes recently covered Artic Monkeys' "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor" and kiddie/fluff 'rock' band McFly took on The Killers' "Mr Brightside". To paraphrase a popular early 90s saying, "There's always been a rock element to their pop music" :-) Neither are particularly recommended!

I haven't heard Tiga's album - or the 'Speed Of Sexor' version, but the reviews of the former echoed your own comments and I was slightly put off. Loved his cover of "Hot In Herrre", however, and the boy has done some great remixes in the past.

As for KBT, by all accounts, Steve Mason appears to have 'quit music' and gone AWOL. The album's still coming out as planned, but may well be an unexpected swansong. If this is true, then it's a shame, because he deserved better.

6:36 am  

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