Blood Red Shoes don't mess around.
Live, the band are all swear and riffs, pummelling each chord into the ground until holes begin to appear onstage. So when ClashMusic asked Steven Ansell to take charge of the Singles Round Up we sort of knew what to expect...
Featuring new material from The Courteeners, Calvin Harris, Devlin, Sinead O'Connor and more, this is not one for the faint hearted.
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The Courteeners - Lose Control
As if we needed any more 80s throwback bullshit in the world, Courteeners have steered themselves even further away from their Libertines rip-off roots and decided instead to make a kind of sub-White Lies self-consciously constructed "radio single" which recalls Simple Minds at their blandest. I have no idea who produced it, but instead of sounding like it's an 80s-referencing piece of pop, it simply sounds so horrifically out of date I thought for a minute my life had all been a dream and I’d suddenly been woken up to find I’m actually in 1986.
Devlin – Rewind
This song is basically following the formula that Eminem established all those years ago with Dido, it's essentially a hip-hop ballad. Minor key piano chords and a decidedly un-bombastic drum loop are the backdrop for a song which see-saws between Devlin's verse rapping and a faux-introspective melodic chorus courtesy of guest singer Diane Birch, replete with pointless high notes sticking out all over the place in the vocal line to trick you into thinking it's actually interesting, when in fact, it's totally forgettable.
The Getaway Plan – Phantoms
Funnily enough I’m writing these reviews from a hotel room in Australia, where these guys are from, although you can scarcely detect any sense of Aussie rock history in them - their sound is entirely a modern American one. I think it's supposed to be rock music but it doesn't actually rock at all, it's a pretty slow, introspective-sounding tune with fist-clench cliché lyrics and single-note lead guitar noodles covered in effects like 90% of guitar music has been doing ever since the edge got a delay pedal. That being said, it's still less shitty than the Courteeners’ song.
Calvin Harris - Drinking From The Bottle
This is a collaboration between Tinie Tempah and Calvin Harris, it's an all out club banger party tune peppered with references to modern Hollywood and reality TV bullshit (like the Kardashians). Not sure whether it's making a sly diss at them or not really, given that Tinie Tempah is incapable of doing anything without a pair of sunnies on. This song is nothing new but at least it sounds like it'd be fun to jump up and down to if you're off yr face in a club when the chorus drop hits and the that Big Synth Line (tm) sound kicks in. Not anywhere near as fun as "Pass Out" though, I really liked that song.
Sinead O'Connor - 4th & Vine
This is a very traditional song, with folksy acoustic guitars, a classic shuffling folk-rock rhythm and a staple chord progression, all of which serve as a perfect backdrop to let Sinead do her thing vocally. And the vocals are damn impressive, I forgot what a great voice she has, and she weaves some interesting vocal melodies around - it's by far the most impressive song of all these singles and the only one where you feel the singer is a genuine talent. At first I hoped the lyrics were taking a shot at the institution of marriage because they're so sickly sweet I couldn't believe they'd be genuine: "I’m going down to the church/ I’m gonna dress real nice/ I’m gonna marry my love/ We'll be happy for all time". But then I realised Sinead O Connor is a Catholic priest so I reckon it's probably totally honest and I’m just a black-hearted post modern scumbag that can't understand something straight-up optimistic.
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'Red River' EP is out now.