Thursday, September 22, 2005

More pop, two updates in one month, whatever next.

Skyrabin - Xaj Bude Tak Yak Xochesh Ty

Interesting conversation with Chris of SoS fame about why the Ukrainian charts are so great. I still don't know why, but apparently Alexander Bard thinks it, and that's a man you can trust, isn't it? Anyway, I spotted Skryabin in their top 10, liked the single, and thought I'd sample the album, and buried toward the end of it, found this absolute gem.

I'm not entire sure if it's folk-rock, a Ukrainian New Order, but I love those keyboard wails, and the way that the female backing vocals become louder and more prominent throughout as the track goes on. And listen a few times, because the voice that sounds annoying at first really gets under your skin. I am actually going to say something more about this in a bit and update the entry, so consider this a work in progress (though not Work In Progress, as they're not good.).

Hind - Give Me A Sign

Listen to it and try not to think about Eurovision 2005 with all those blend-of-east-and-west songs. For Hind have been doing this for a while, indeed, their 2003 hit "Summer All Over Again" was almost great - the arrogantly lush production nearly made up for a relatively slight tune, but on this, they've absolutely blown Javine, Helena, that Albanian lass, and everyone else out of the water with this dense, exciting song. It's belted out diva-style, the very last line of the chorus would be worthy of Beyonce - it's absolutely a snip to think of this as a fabulous Euro-R&B song given fabulous pop heft with the Arabic and Eastern European lilt without once seeming forced.

And the emotion. Pure and believable! A final chorus that explodes out of the tinny speakers on my work computer. And yet, a kind of inner deadness, like none of it matters after it's over - "Shout out the words with no fear!", and there is none, even though the drama suggest that's all it should be. I've said many times that great pop should be great theatre too, and you can almost visualise elephants, bastard princes, hot sand, sword-fights and betrayal while this plays. A hodge-podge in the absolute best way.

And, lastly, my favourite song of the month:

Simone Cristicchi - Studentessa Universitaria

The point being that you should always listen to Dom Passantino, who was completely right about Simone's first single, which I only liked at the time, but now love. But I'm getting in first on his magnificent second. Acoustic bubblegum in feel, but with some variety of beating heart to provide emotional affect.

Does anyone know that quote that goes something like French being a language to do business in, Italian to cook in, and Spanish to make love in? Or something like that? I read it somewhere. Because I've decided that Italian is officially the language to be slightly rueful and lamenting in. Well, unless you're Gabry Ponte or Caparezza.

Apparently about being in love with a depressed university student, and certainly the only pop single in recent memory to feature the word "jurisprudence", the language is, as ever, no impediment to the sheer degree of felt-ness that Simone crams into this story. It's not as light-hearted as "Vorrei Cantare Come Biagio" - even in another language wit and whimsy can come across loud and clear - was, in fact, the strummed, lolling guitars are perilously close to beanie-wearing tosser buskers, but the sheer euphony of the half-Italo-rap in the verses (Caparezza is a vague reference point, if only because they both have black curly hair), and the enunciation on the syllables in the chorus place the exact right amount of emotional hit on the subject. And that chorus melody, god, something about it tears me up ever so slightly inside. She's pathetic, and he loves her. His portrait of her sounds both sympathetic but ever so slightly damning at the same time. She waits for her philosophy class, her father sends her money, she takes photocopies, she mopes, you identify ever so slightly with both narrator and subject.

I mean, it's practically folk rap isn't it? That's an accordion, isn't it? That's your heart breaking ever so slightly now, isn't it? Caparezza's wordplay, Tyler James' strut, only successul, and the attraction to doomed girls worthy of Jarvis Cocker. Officially my new favourite pop star on the entire planet.

Later, my thoughts on Shelley Poole and some Pay-TV album tracks.

Monday, September 12, 2005

On the stereo in Casa Umlauts at the moment.

Since I no longer care about being up-to-date, or with it, these are simply the last three songs I listened to.

Linda Bengtzing - Diamanter

Thankyou, Patrick, for forcing me to listen to this, though of course I only had to be forced to do so once. It gains immediate points for the intriguing string beginning which hints that it might be a ballad, but a good one, before completely shattering that illusion with the requisite big Swedish beats and the big Swedish hooks. Certainly it helps if you've already surrendered to the gigantic collective charms of Shirley Clamp, Lena Ph and company. Oh, and it's in Swedish, but it doesn't matter. Love the 80s pop-rock (that is to say, female singers in the 80s whose producers said "Let's give this a bit of a rock feel, rather than actually making a rock song) touches in the verses, and the shamelessly expansive choruses with the supremely confident, infatuated delivery Linda musters to take it into the stratosphere. Basically, listen to it and be stupidly happy.

Texas - Can't Resist

Oh, it wouldn't be exaggerating the matter to say that I've disagreed with Popjustice quite a bit recently (i.e. "Don't Play Nice" > "Wake Me Up", the Goldfrapp album isn't all that, and the Kaiser Chiefs, REALLY NOW!), but for all of you who snickered when he said that this track from their forthcoming album, pencilled in as the third single, was a Xenomania classic, commence eating your words NOW, because liking, or at least grudgingly respecting Texas is now mandatory, or will be soon. If "Summer Son" had had the guiding hand of Brian Higgins to take it exactly where you wanted it to go, basically. Sharleen Spiteri is actually rubbish at conveying desire or recklessness or passion, but she's pretty good at doing resignedly helpless, and when the song's called "Can't Resist", that's what it's all about.

I love the chorus's repetitious verbosity. I love the breakdown in the middle where some comparatively less treated guitars provide a ghostly backdrop for the narrative's tender-trapped lament. I like the chorus which is nimble without the slightly ill-fitting attempts to "break free" that Texas tried on still-quite-good single "Getaway".

T & F vs Moltosugo featuring Moony - De Fact

Well, it's just gone into spring here, so I'm finally properly in the mood for this. Moony, you'd of course remember from DB Boulevarde's "Point of View" and her own minor classic "Dove", and every sound out of her mouth basically is pure Venetian disco heaven emanating from the down-top of a car down the coast. I mean, in essence, it doesn't matter that lyrically, it's half rubbish about a DJ who can spin all night, and half generic love, her voice soars over both incongruous halves with most of the same effect, bringing a sun-kissed romanticism that is often left out of this kind of thing. In essence, if it sounds like love when she sings about the coolest track, why not stuff that into the mix too?

Sonically, this is a bit fantastic, too, the purest kind of ear confection - crisp, danceable beats, nothing jarring or squalling to kill the feelgood and that voice, I've gone on about it before, though never on a blog, but the way she holds those notes with this amazing degree of warmth - it's a magic thing. I just wish she'd get more regularly fantastic material to do it on - surely this woman will make the next great disco single, maybe the last.