Monday, May 28, 2007

Jukebox Juicebox #30

The Wombats “Backfire At The Disco” (2007)
I’ve never heard of The Wombats and rarely buy NME these days, but I’d hazard a guess that reviews of this song will inevitably include the phrases “live favourite”, “quirky indie pop” and “the next Arctic Monkeys”. I’m not sure how many of these actually apply, but Backfire At The Disco is a breezy number that underpins a tale of woe about a date gone wrong. Some frenetic guitar, timely whoops and a singalong chorus ensures that indie kids tanked up on cider or Newkie Brown will be chugging along to this on the dancefloor even now. However, it’s the remix by KGB (another new one to me) that really cuts the mustard, with a grimy bass, cow horns and a pulsing beat that come across like The DFA, which can only be a good thing. The lyrics and vocals sit extremely comfortably with the funkier, club-oriented sound and this one’s guaranteed to get the shake the bones.

Tracklisting: 1. Backfire At The Disco (original version) /
2. (kgb remix)

The Wombats MySpace page

The Maccabees “Precious Time” (2007)
An indie-on-a-major five piece from Brighton comprising Orlando, Robert, Rupert, Felix and Hugo? Suggests a bunch of rich kids trying to get down with the proletariat, doesn’t it? Relax, it’s not as bad as all that, but there is an inescapable sense of contrivance about the band and their music. Precious Time ticks all the right boxes, with it’s narrative focus on adolescent first love, a squalling guitar chorus and lots of chanting. However, frontman Orlando’s vocals are definitely an acquired taste; sounding like he’s literally got a frog in his throat, Antony (of …& The Johnsons fame) seems to be the obvious reference point. I can understand the appeal of this track, but it’s actually my least favourite of the three included here. The Real Thing kicks off with a handclap rhythm and acoustic guitar, building up to a real campfire rouser. The lyrics again focus on the obvious – trying to get over an ex-girlfriend – and the vocalists’ almost identical delivery to the previous song suggest a limited range. Still, it comes in at just under a minute and a half and, as such, doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. The best is saved ‘til last, with a great remix of X-Ray by South Central that pumps up the beat and distorts the vocals, producing a behemoth of a track that sounds like Franz Ferdinand on speed. Needless to say, the lyrics remain pretty by-the-numbers, but the infectious rhythm means that you’ll be too busy moving to give a damn. More remixes like this and I’ll remain interested in the band.

Tracklisting: 1. Precious Time / 2. The Real Thing / 3. X-Ray (south central x-ray vision ‘for those with eyes to see’ remix)

The Maccabees' MySpace page

Mark Ronson “Stop Me” (2007)
This is an inspired cover version, taking The Smiths’ Stop Me If You Thing You’ve Heard This One Before, adding epic strings, a heavy rhythm and a reprise of Diana Ross & The Supremes’ You Keep Me Hanging On. It recalls both the Now Voyager remix of You Got The Love by The Source featuring Candi Staton and the track that inspired it, Massive Attack’s seminal Unfinished Sympathy. The main differences here are the horn section, providing a counterpoint to the downtempo strings, and vocalist Daniel Merriweather. I’ve no idea who he is, but he takes the song to another level and adds a new dimension to Morrissey’s original lyric. Cover versions as they should be, enabling the listener to appreciate the song in a whole new way. Chicken Lips do not disappoint on the remix front, providing a pulsing electro beat and bassline that complements Merriweather’s performance. I’m less enamoured by the Dirty South remix – sounds a bit like Junior Vasquez on a bad day in parts and probably would have benefited from ditching the vocals at the risk of losing it’s most recognisable hook. A non-album track rounds off the EP: I don't know what the original of Queens Of The Stone Age’s No One Knows sounds like, but it’s a safe guess that this is yet another fairly radical reworking. Vocalist Domino comes across like a cross between Beyoncé and Amy Winehouse, whilst a funky guitar break, hip hop beats and saxophone provide a suitably jazzy backdrop.

Tracklisting: 1. Stop Me (featuring Daniel Merriweather) (album version) / 2. (a chicken lips malfunction) / 3. (dirty south remix) / 4. No One Knows (featuring Domino)

Mark Ronson's MySpace page

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