Sunday, 18 March 2012

Chiddy Bang - Breakfast

How Chiddy Bang ever got to the stage of releasing an album is beyond me. Mildly famous due to their cover of MGMT’s ‘Kids’ entitled ‘Opposite of Adults’ (see what they did there?) they probably should have faded away by now. But still they hang on.

I wouldn’t worry too much though as their main demographic is probably pre-schoolers if title track ‘Breakfast’ is anything to go by. Helpfully instructing listeners to ‘get your plate, get your fork, get your spoon -Yeah, it's time to have breakfast!’ Fun and informative! It’s actually neither. Furthermore, if that wasn’t enough, we are even enlightened to the fact it ‘goes well with OJ’ – presumably the juice not the American football player.

Overall, this album seems to sort of exist without actually performing any function. Of course there is a place for fun music, not everything has to be groundbreaking, but unfortunately this is neither, to the extent where they sound like they’d rather just be doing something else. And so would I.

Their cry of: ‘I’m Ray Charles’, the lead single, apart from triggering an involuntary ‘no you’re not’ in a similarly repetitive tone, does little to further their cause. Nonetheless, it is undeniably catchy, but so are lots of things, like flu.

‘Does she love me?’ sees one of our little pop princes worried that a girl doesn’t love him because he has leprosy, no matter how many times he cries: ‘I aint got leprosy!’ – or something like that. My advice? Get yourself to a doctor and give her some proof!

This pattern of irritating pop continues, with ‘This Is Happening’ - imagine a Cher Lloyd song which even she rejected - unfortunately reminding me that I genuinely am listening to this.

Generally every song sounds almost exactly the same and follows the same format of: nauseating synth introduction, mildly inoffensive rap, instantly forgettable chorus, some more generally off putting keyboards, another chorus and then if you’re lucky, the end, which overall results in a shallow album that you probably wouldn’t want to listen to more than once.

The Civil Wars - Live at HMV Institute Birmingham 13/03/12

In their first gig of their first headlining tour outside of America, The Civil Wars are visibly struck by the reception they receive: a standing ovation before they even start; but one that is ultimately deserved. Fresh from the release of their excellent debut album, ‘Barton Hollow’, the sheer musicianship of vocalist Joy Williams and guitarist/vocalist John Paul White is genuinely astounding. In a world where a larger emphasis is placed upon the album itself, with touring acting as a sideshow, The Civil Wars really inject something extra special into the album, making it come alive, inviting everyone to enjoy a little taste of southern America.

This is helped extensively by the chemistry between the two performers; Joy, the ever excitable smiling face of the band; and John Paul, interjecting with the occasionally witty observation in a deep southern drawl. The set up of just one guitar and two voices is both fresh and completely successful, leading some audience members to raise their hands or rock as if in some spiritual environment, the emphatic lead single ‘Barton Hollow’ an example of this. There is a distinct delicacy to their music, both a necessity due to the instrumental set up, but also one utilised to maximum effect, resulting in a precision I consider to be unmatched by anything I have seen in a long time.

Thoroughly deserving of the two Grammys they won this year, an event in which they also performed, they remain criminally underrated, especially in this country, where indeed most forms of music influenced by ‘country’ are largely ignored, or left to stagnate in the doldrums of a Radio 2 playlist.

However, this is all set to change. Having recorded the soundtrack to the new film’ The Hunger Games’, featuring the highest earner in pop music for 2011, Taylor Swift, there is going to be a lot more attention given to this band, which may lead to a more deserved recognition. And with this new admiration and appreciation, surely The Civil Wars are on the brink of a musical revolution.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

R U Mine - Arctic Monkeys

Fresh from trying to fool the American population into thinking he is in fact John Lennon, bequiffed Alex Turner and co have made their first cowboy boot-step away from 2011’s populist compromise ‘Suck it and See’. Borrowing a Black Keys’ shuffle and a Queen’s of the Stone Age sneer, ‘R U Mine’, is a full on rock and roll tune, bound to tease a ‘yee-ha’ from even the most reserved indie fan. This of course, despite the fact the title wouldn’t be out of place on the back of a Ke$ha album.