31 January 2010


The first of 2010's best prospects turns out a bit of a mixed bag.

Yes, that's right. They've got some great singles, they've got good potential, they've... very obviously borrowed a lot of ideas. Not that it stopped me naming them my pick of the year's new crop - but let me just point out that it was before I bought their debut album "Acolyte".

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad album by any means but if you looked at the success rate of each of its tracks, there would be a distinct mountain range dipping between the brilliant and the simply okay.

It's probably not right to go track by track since including opener "Clarion Call" would be a bit unfair considering its only really a short introductory pathway through to their killer track "Doubt". The layers of "Doubt" can only truly be heard through the magic of headphones when all the little nuances reveal themselves (much better than say, a scratchy CD player or a muffly laptop with teeny little speakers). "This Momentary" is a slow burner that shows that they can do gentler tracks. This is possibly my favourite of all the tracks on "Acolyte". It's just a shame that "This Momentary" has been out so long as a Kitsune single and yet they haven't truly developed these ideas across a whole album.

"Red Light", for instance, is at first a promising follow up to "This Momentary" but last so long. So very long. So much longer than a track like this truly should. It erodes you like sandstone in a hurricane after about two and a half minutes and only continues for what seems like hours, the repetitive lyrics that make "This Momentary" seem good weigh "Red Light" down like so many lead balloons. Its not easy going. This is luckily followed by a couple of good tracks, the first being entirely instrumental (and oddly enough a thousand times more engaging and captivating than "Red Light" ever could be) and the second being "Counterpoint", their very first single. It's a mix of both "Doubt" and "This Momentary", and Delphic manage to get the balance right between more hushed electro and straightforward pop. Here they show what they can do and that you can have a six-minute-odd track that doesn't become overly repetitive or soul sapping (there are plenty of them out there of course, but many others fail to stop the formula becoming cloying).

"Submission", too, has elements of this balance but cannot reach the giddy heights of any of the singles - after four minutes the invention seems to fade away a little and it's hard to tell where this track ends and the next one begins. Maybe I spaced out at this point, wondering when the next big single was coming along. It doesn't.

It is very possible that this will be Delphic's problem. They have the potential to make good songs, but meld this idea with trying to be dancey resulting in a mish-mash of brilliant electro moments and fairly generic six-minute trudges. It is also possible that their obsession with making long tracks (few on "Acolyte" are less than five minutes long) is hampering their capability to be truly captivating. This is such a shame considering the initial promise they gave us. Use the scissors next time boys.

Star Power

I feel like I am the only person on the planet who is actually excited about the new Gorillaz album coming out soon - sooner rather than later, in fact, as "Plastic Beach" was apparently going to be released in September but now it's slated for a March release. Perhaps people have just plain forgotten about them. It has been a good five years since they released any original material (curse you, er, older projects!) and a lot can happen in that space of time.

But they're back, you know! Really, seriously. And with some heavy star power behind them too - Bobby Womack feaures on their first single "Stylo" (link above just click the post title, wasn't allowed to embed it unfortunately) and numerous others will appear alongside the regulars on "Plastic Beach" (such as -gasp- Snoop Dogg, Kano, Mos Def, Gruff Rhys, De La Soul, Little Dragon, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Mark E Smith, Lou Reed...); it could be just as eclectic as "Demon Days" and then some.

I could be jumping the gun by saying that they've been sort of forgotten about. I'm sure in a few months the mania will start again and they'll be everywhere, just as they were with "Feel Good Inc", "Dare" and earlier hits like "19-2000" and "Clint Eastwood". Surely no band could contain that many star names and brilliant talent and not be recognised.

It could be their year. Again.

06 January 2010

Top 5 Tips For 2010

I did this last year and was quite pleased to find that I predicted 60% of my tips correctly. This year I would like to think that my predictions are a little more accurate still, but because I don't always stick to what I know will be popular and go for bands which I hope will gain success, I'm not holding my breath! Here they are anyway:

5. The Drums

Summery surf-pop from New York: it's almost impossible to not like at least one of the songs from their "Summertime" EP but if all that joyous smiling and happiness isn't your cup of tea then the band themselves have said that their full debut will be much darker, like a winter of discontent. Ooh err... But they do know how to put a very good pop tune together, and this one is my favourite:

4. Marina And The Diamonds

Marina doesn't actually have a band called The Diamonds, she just derived that from her surname Diamandis. She does quirky tunes in a voice that stands apart from other girls on the pop circuit and being more distinctive should give her a little advantage against some others. Still, her tunes are accessible, despite the cuckoo noises you can hear here!

3. Ellie Goulding

Well, she's won the Critics' Choice Award at the Brits already - considering what happened to Florence and the Machine last year after their win, surely Welsh songstress Ellie can't go wrong? We'll have to wait and see if she can enjoy the success of iron-lunged Florence but for now we can enjoy the light-as-air pop that's reminiscent of Imogen Heap and Frou Frou. Ellie's influences are also very folky, so we could expect an album that swingss from sparkly to sombre soon.

2. Chew Lips

Female-fronted electronic acts are seemingly everywhere nowadays - is it actually possible to tell each of them apart? Well Chew Lips are just that little bit different. They don't try too hard to be popular and they're bubbling under the surface with slow-burning songs and soulful singing. Their debut "Unicorn" is out soon but hopefully this cut will be enough to keep you interested in the meantime.

1. Delphic

It's hard not to fall in love with either one of Delphic's two faces. On the one side we have a slightly more steely, brash, in-your-face band and on the other there are tunes that are obviously dance-inspired but that seem to float away like a feather and transport you in to another world. Today they reached No. 3 of the Beeb's Sound of 2010 list but a huge chunk of me hopes they do much better than that. Underneath it all they're well-formed and lovable.

03 January 2010

Worst of 2009: A Hideous Lookback

Well I had to do this - there are just some songs that I dislike so much that I have to "honour" them. By that I mean that I am going to name them, shame them, and post their videos so that everyone will know of their horribleness. Hopefully then we can exorcise them and never again have to be exposed to these awful tunes. Hopefully. Luckily I'm only going to list three of the worst, so you don't get too bogged down in the marshes of unspeakable horror. Er, enjoy?

30 Seconds To Mars - Kings and Queens

This was so overblown that you could just see that singer guy punching the air when he sings "we are the kings and queens". Yuck. I thought emo was dead? No? Well can I have a gun to finish it off now?

LMFAO - I'm In Miami Trick

No-one needs to be exposed to this kind of rubbish and prancing around. Some guys trying to be dance-rap stars and failing miserably. So they think if you wear shiny clothes and sunglasses indoors that makes you cool? No. That just makes you a laughable idiot. What madman decided it would be a good idea to give these a record deal... it's sickening.

Eminem - We Made You

White rap... It should never have been born, let aloe allowed to survive. At least when Eminem, the poster boy of this abomination, disappeared a few years ago it might have signalled the end. So when he came back, that was hard. I hoped, in vain, that the time off would have given him some good ideas - but I was sorely mistaken. That little intro is practically the same as the one he's been using for years, the video is weird and disturbing, the melody is infuriating, and all this time I'm trying to contain my uncontrollable rage and not throw the remote at the TV. Will the real Slim Shady please sit down and shut up?