singles column for the skinny october 2009
Believe it or not, the Dirty Dozen isn't the dregs of the promo pile – some singles don't even earn a casual dismissal. Unfortunately, Stirling's Vegas Nights just squeeze in. They're apparently gaining support in the Far East, which is presumably why their warbling harmony vocalist seems to be trying to sing in a tonal language. Touch And Feel / It Came As No Surprise (*) suffers from more problems than I've got space to mention. It's difficult to find much right in Alley Cat (*) by overdrive-heavy power-poppers Monocle Rose either. Their boring singer requests a less-boring person to lead her astray, and its need is apparent. Meanwhile, Kid Harpoon's Back From Beyond (*) boasts all the edge and charm of a boiled potato. Despite his claim to be "still singing tunes about you", there's no discernible tune about anywhere.
Finally we hit a second star, and it's for – gulp – Airdrie screamo. Flood Of Red's Home Run (**) makes a ridiculous melodrama out of driech skies, but at least there's some energy and good drumming in it. The Xcerts' drummer is having a ball on Nightschool (**) too, but their epically earnest pop is hard to distinguish from a clutch of other tear duct-teasing bands. Irish quintet The Brothers Movement combine BRMC's sleazy swagger, the Verve's woozy swagger, and Oasis's boozy swagger, into one swaggeriffic package. Standing Still (**) has caused this band to miss the boat by a good 7 or 8 years.
Stirling returns in the form of Jack Butler's Surgery 1984 (***), which steps the competition up a level via the simple method of slowly building towards a climactic explosion. It's the first great moment of the D12 so far, and herky-jerky b-side This Soul Accelerates is pretty good too. The name Bonobo rings a bell – Wikipedia says they are also known as Pygmy Chimpanzees – disambiguation fail! Apparently, this ape-like Ninja Tune producer specialises in the kind of lounge grooves that got stuffed onto a billion chillout compilations around about the time The Brothers Movement are familiar with. An album's worth might be tiresome, but The Keeper (***) is pretty smooth on its own. Wild Beasts are doing rather well for themselves, despite their singer shrieking throughout All The King's Men (***). But he hits the notes, so like in Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights, the agile vocal melody becomes a big part of the appeal.
Take It (****) by Auld Reekie's Action Group is a real low rider, built of rhythm upon rhythm upon riff upon rhythm. It's moody and dark, and almost danceable, and while it never fully takes flight there's a lot to appreciate in their approach to songcraft. The Nextmen's Round of Applause (****) is the only hip-hop track in this month's D12 – a laid-back party jam based on a couple of New Orleans funk samples. It's flippant, but fun. Same same but different is Virgil Howe's Someday (****), which uses soft hip-hop beats and a brief vocal sample with trippy guitar lines and atmospherics to construct an enchanting single of the month.