With guest reviewer Marina And The Diamonds...
Marina and the Diamonds

When offered time with the rapidly rising belle of the quirk-pop ball, Marina (of And The Diamonds probably-soon-to-be fame), Clash leapt at the opportunity. After all, it’s not every day one gets the chance to shoot the shit with an artist with all the promise of a younger Regina Spektor (or - dare we say? - Kate Bush) – every bit as accessible as the chart-bothering likes of La Roux and Little Boots, but with considerably more subtlety and longevity appeal in her piano-led arrangements.

Marina’s new ‘The Crown Jewels’ EP is out next Monday, June 22. Of it the singer told us:

“Well, it’s released on Neon Gold/679, and it’s basically a precursor to the album, which will be called ‘The Family Jewels’. (Looks at EP cover) This is actually the old artwork, I’m not sure why they’ve used it. But, anyway, it’s got the track ‘I Am Not A Robot’ on it, which is the lead single I guess. The aim isn’t to get radio play or anything, but really to give people something they could buy which wasn’t called (previous single) ‘Obsessions’ (laughs). Hopefully the album will be out in January.”

Over to Marina (pictured) for her thoughts on this week’s best, and worst, singles…

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Single of the Week

Jack Penate – ‘Be The One’
The previously maligned (in many a quarter) songsmith proves that his perky comeback effort ‘Tonight’s Today’ was no fluke of excellence, with a second single – from forthcoming album ‘Everything Is New’ – of equal rhythmic exuberance…
“I actually think this is really good… a really, really good song. The only thing I do not really like is that his singing voice isn’t the best in the world – it’s okay, and it’s fine for this sort of song, but I do think he’s got more to give sometimes. But, that aside, I really like this, and it’s an obvious progression from his previous stuff – it’s good songwriting, and the chord changes are really good. It’s the sort of thing I can imagine hanging around on the radio for a while – it doesn’t sound throw-away.”

Jack Penate – ‘Be The One’

Read an in-depth feature with Jack in the current issue of Clash Magazine, on sale now.

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Also out today…

Gossip – ‘Heavy Cross’
Comeback single from boisterous disco-punks. Itchy and insistent, it’s nearly enough to have you asking: ‘Standing in the way of what?’
“I’m actually pleasantly surprised by their new stuff, as before it did feel like they just had the one song. Lyrically this is good, too – she’s (Beth Ditto) retained the good stuff that she exhibited on the last record, and I think melodically it’s actually quite original, and it’s fairly addictive. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this, and it does stick in your head. It doesn’t feel fake, you know what I mean? They could have just written that same song again and again, and they’ve not done that.”

We Have Band – ‘You Came Out’
Swift-rising electro-indie trio, with a nice array of friends in high places: they’ve appeared on Puregroove and Kitsune compilations, and this single is released via Kill Em All, Filthy Dukes’ label…
“I don’t think these guys are going to change the world, but this song would be quite good to listen to at the end of a night, when you’re coming home and you’re really drunk, or pre-getting ready – it’s not quite ‘getting ready to go out’ music; it’s not pumping enough. It’s not particularly my cup of tea as I do like songs with enough lyrics to tell a story, but I definitely would listen to this when I was (begins laughing) coming back absolutely drunk.
Clash: It sounds, to me, like a mid-DJ-set song, building up to the ‘hits’ in the final hour.
“Yeah! Exactly. It is a build-up track.”

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We Have Band – ‘You Came Out’

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Depeche Mode – ‘Peace’
Oh, you know the drill by now: it sounds like Depeche Mode. Only, in this case, slower. And without any noticeable dynamic shift across its run time…
Clash: Believe it or not, that was the single edit, too.
“Really? I really like the production on this – I think that’s brilliant – and lyrically it sounds pretty interesting, but it’s quite chuggy, instrumentally. It’s a bit clunky in its rhythms, but it might connect best with someone when they’re on their own, in their bedroom.”
Clash: I don’t think they’re particularly looking to attract new fans at this stage of their career.
“No. I think it’s clear they don’t give a shit about that.”

Golden Silvers – ‘Arrows Of Eros’
From winning a Glastonbury Unsigned competition to sticking out a celebrated debut in under 12 months – it’s been a rollercoaster year for this London trio recently, and their new single looks to build on the success of ‘True Romance’…
“Um, I think this is brilliant, actually.”
Clash: You’re being a lot more positive than a lot of the guest reviewers we’ve had in the past.
“Oh, really? Is that a good thing? Oh, good! But you have given me good stuff so far. But this single… I wish its production was a little bit bigger, but I think they’re a band well worth following. Their album’s out, isn’t it? Yes, it’s probably worth picking up, and they’ve clearly got their own identity going on… in a world where nobody is unique! I do like them – it’s not my favourite song I’ve heard today, but it’s probably my third favourite.” (That’ll be after Jack Penate and Gossip – Ed.)

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Golden Silvers – ‘Arrows Of Eros’

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Kid Harpoon – ‘Stealing Cars’
Off the scene for some time, the Kid’s back after working in LA with producer Trevor Horn; results are rather glossier than remembered…
“I feel a bit disappointed – I loved his older stuff so much, and while his voice is still incredible, and there are some beautiful melodies in there, this song really doesn’t hit me in the same way as before; it doesn’t make me think: ‘Oh my, this is touching my soul’.”
Clash: It sounds a bit ‘safe’ to me, you know?
“Yeah, I’d agree – it doesn’t have any balls to it. It’s not him saying: ‘This is me, this is what I’m about’; it’s just a little ditty. But I am a big fan of his, it’s just that I don’t think this single showcases the best side of him, and his real talent.”
Clash: Any worry that he could be one of those acts that…
“…Just sort of slips away? Yes. I don’t think he’s a commercial character, and if he was pushed into writing those sort of songs it just wouldn’t work – this industry isn’t good at accepting people who are singularly talented. This… really, it has no balls to it at all. And his older stuff is so good! Make sure that you write that I do love his old stuff!”

Dinosaur Jr. – ‘Over It’
Grunge legends stubbornly refuse to evolve, despite 20 years in the game – hardcore fans smile contentedly, while fair-weather sorts wonder why J Mascis can’t write another ‘Freak Scene’. This is taken from new album ‘Farm’ (REVIEW)…
“I do actually like music like this, but this feels a bit lame… it’s getting me down a bit. They’ve not changed their formula, really, and while I do like this rough-edged music, I prefer it to be a little edgier, a little risky and experimental. I mean, bless them for all they’ve done, but maybe now they should rest in peace.”

Steel Panther – ‘Death To All But Metal’
Piss-take hair metal from the Sunset Strip, full of curse words and references to dodgy sexual actions involving recently deceased (in this song, anyway) pop stars. In short: one joke spun out to a massive, massive waste of time…
Clash: Single of the week, I’m assuming?
“Errrm, no. (Laughs) This will probably be a cheap, five-minute craze on the internet, enjoyed by guys who’re 40 years old and still live with their mums, and 15-year-old boys… and that’s it. It’s not actually bad on a songwriting front, if I’m being serious – there’s nothing original about it, and it’s obviously a rip-off of a great many other bands, but it’s executed well enough. It’s a joke, though, so I’m really not going to take it seriously!”

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Steel Panther – ‘Death To All But Metal’

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Find Marina And The Diamonds on MySpace HERE; ‘The Crown Jewels’ is released via 679/Neon Gold on June 22.


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