Tag Archives: o’shea

Festive 15 for ’15

Award winning music journalist, Dr Jonathan O’Shea, kindly agreed to share his top 15 tracks of 2015 with Kureen – let us know your thoughts in the comment section below the article. 

Chemical Brothers

The Festive Fifteen, my favourite tracks of the year, has become an accidental annual tradition (I think this is the seventh one) and was initially inspired by John Peel’s Festive 50. Like pointless paper crowns, turkey incineration and being derisive about sprouts, this is one seasonal routine which is set to continue ad infinitum.

Between Christmas and the New Year, I like to pore over the music that’s been pumped into the ether over the past twelve months and somehow make sense of it all by pointlessly ranking it. Then I present it to the world in classic chart countdown style: 15 to 1 (not to be confused with William G Stewart’s bad-ass 90s game show).

So here’s the Festive Fifteen ’15;

15. What Went Down – Foals

Pulsing, persistent beat and increasingly frenzied lyrics from the inappropriately-named indie rockers.

14. Leaving the City – Joanna Newsom

The planet’s most unique and oblique pop-harpist takes a leap into new, questing territory, with a less sparse, more densely developed sound than usual.

13. Mr Noah – Panda Bear

Some pretty weird-ass stuff here, about a dog being bitten on his leg…? Sounds like it was recorded on a demonically distorted hurdy-gurdy in 2048 and sent back in time through a subterranean vortex.

12. Go – Chemical Brothers ft. Q-Tip

Begins amid frantic bongos and slashing light-sabres (honestly); Q-Tip’s muscular rap provides the backbone for a Daft Punk-style synth-a-thon.

11. Go Out Blur

The kind of swaggering anthem Damon & co relentlessly pumped out in their prime.

10. Singularity – New Order

One of the darker tracks from Music Complete focuses on dissatisfaction with everyday inertia and mourns the loss of ex-bandmate Ian Curtis.

9. Tutti Frutti – New Order ft. Elly Jackson

Could easily be filed under ‘90s nostalgia, but a beguiling duet with La Roux’s Elly Jackson elevates this playful track to something more airily uplifting.

8. Detroit – Gaz Coombes

Probably the finest moment of the ex-Supergrass frontman’s solo career. A tale of longing for home while in a distant land: effortlessly melodic, with a soul-stirring arrangement.

7. City – Spring King

Breathless stomper; designed to thrash about in the dark to. Repeat: “Who am I? What does it matter?”

6. Strange Combinations Teleman

Gently insistent and mildly hypnotic stuff. Perhaps the strangest combination here is the electro beat and mild-mannered vocal style, but it works wonderfully.

5. Borders – M.I.A

Controversial subject matter – the refugee crisis and a ‘f*ck the system’ message – delivered in typically laconic style. Sure, it’s a little lyrically banal, but at least she seems to stand for something.

4. Bodies – Farao

Totally irresistible combination of plaintive Scandinavian vocalist and inexorable rhythms.

3. Swords (Matahdatah Scroll 01 “Broader Than A Border”) – M.I.A.

Opens with the rhythmic clashing of swords and a pulsing beat which underpins a culture-clash classic. Check out the genuinely awesome M.I.A-directed double video for this new track and 2013’s ‘Warriors’.

2. Dreams – Beck

Reminiscent of his upbeat ‘Guero’-era danceable demi-anthems, this track – devoted to the restorative power of dreams – is thickly layered with catchy aural confections…it’s surely the funksome highpoint of Beck’s meandering later career.

1. Don’t Breathe Out – Roots Manuva.

soul-stirring sample of portly baritone Barry White’s ‘Honey Please, Can’t Ya See’ forms the unlikely bedrock of this gloriously gospel-tinged track. The Walrus of Love’s slightly sickly love letter morphs into something altogether more mystical and compelling under the spell of Stockwell’s philosophical wordsmith.

Fin.

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

November Playlist: Music Reviews

Jonathan O’Shea continues his pursuit of musical perfection with November’s instalment of his ever expanding playlist – this one features Weezer, but there isn’t an inhaler in sight…

Don’t Breathe Out – Roots Manuva

A soul-stirring sample of portly baritone Barry White’s ‘Honey Please, Can’t Ya See’ forms the unlikely bedrock of this gloriously gospel-tinged track. The orchestral intro to the Walrus of Love’s slightly sickly love letter morphs into something altogether more mystical and compelling under the spell of Stockwell’s philosophical wordsmith, Roots Manuva.

The king of – as he says in the song’s opening throes – ‘twist and adapt’, Roots uses his undimmed gift for vivid imagery to full effect. From his self-proclaimed ‘pulpit’ he delivers a flowing sermon about holding onto a ‘golden breath’ and uplifting invocations of the ‘new black Jesus’. It’s a return to familiar (but fertile) ground for an artist more concerned with espousing his idiosyncratic version of spirituality than figuring out his current place in the UK hip-hop firmament. But Rodney Smith’s trademark humour isn’t entirely absent: with talk of ‘hide the salami’ and ‘flopping it out’ prompting an adolescent grin.

One of his most lyrically potent moments of recent years, ‘Don’t Breathe Out’ is the third single release from Roots Manuva’s sixth studio album, Bleeds, which saw the light of day just last week.

 –

Thank God for Girls – Weezer

Already this new Weezer track has been interpreted by some imaginative souls as a ‘feminist anthem’, which might be pushing it a bit seeing as the major female role in Rivers Cuomo’s latest verbose rock anthem is a cannoli-maker. Instead, it’s less Taylor Swift girl-power-pop, more middle-aged rock-band paean to women from a particularly male perspective.

God grinding up and microwaving Adam’s rib ‘on the popcorn setting’ is just one of many offbeat images from a song packed with reasons to bow before the fairer sex, while the middle verse focuses on the desperate protagonist’s longing for a deliciously distant femme from an underwear catalogue.

Some of the indie veterans’ more recent output has been bordering on the execrable, so the zippy, infectious ‘Thank God For Girls’ indicates a promising return to form, coming in the slipstream of last year’s ‘Everything Will Be Alright In The End’ LP. The single’s cover art, featuring Pope Francis sharing convivialities with adoring female fans, is an instant classic-in-the-making too.

 –

Persephone Dreams – NCZA Lines 

Undeniable under (and over) tones of south coast synth-stars Metronomy should come as no surprise on ‘Persephone Dreams’, given that NCZA Lines provided the support on their UK tour last year. Singer and lyricist Michael Lovett is also a self-declared fan of R&B royalty Aaliyah, Ciara and Bajan bottom-barer, Rihanna; though those influences are felt very distantly here.

His electro-pop stylings first caused a stir when an eponymous debut album arrived in 2012, full of silky falsettos and sophisticated sci-fi imagery. Since then, one-time indie band bassist Lovett has been joined by ex-Ash guitarist Charlotte Hatherley and Hot Chip collaborator Sarah Jones. Their influence has evidently brought about some subtle changes which can be heard on this new single. Intriguingly, the slinky six-minute semi-epic breaks into a sort of steel drums vs synths battle half way through, but carries such implausible sonic adventures off in rare style.

NCZA Lines will be on the bill at the Moshi Moshi label’s new By The Sea festival at Dreamland theme park in Margate, on Nov 13th. An eagerly awaited new album, ‘Infinite Summer’, follows on January 22.

– 

Also recommended this month


Breaker
– Deerhunter
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCVWrqxyt3Y

In My Eyes – Best Coast https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhGwARswL_o

Machine – Euros Childs http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/records/n3cjm9

Like what you’ve heard? Infuriated by it? Just want to troll? Leave a comment below! Follow Jonathan O’Shea on Twitter by clicking here.

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

September Playlist: Music Reviews

Jonathan O’Shea serves up his monthly musical musings for Kureen readers to consume in the September playlist – make sure to let us know your opinions in the comment section below!

Sapokanikan – Joanna Newsom

Airfix-light, playfully plinking piano opens a wrought tale about the colonisation of a Native American settlement that preceded Manhattan. The accompanying video, evocatively directed by Hollywood hot-property Paul Thomas Anderson (‘There Will Be Blood’, ‘Boogie Nights’, ‘Magnolia’) follows Newsom as she strides purposefully across New York, a little like the rootless wanderer played by Greta Gerwig in ‘Frances Ha’; her long skirt billowing along to the parping brass flourishes.

Always charismatic and idiosyncratic in equal measure, the Californian harpist here showcases her imaginative take on events that have shaped NY’s Greenwich Village across the years. A distinctly (inevitable comparison alert!) Kate Bush-esque manic crescendo brings this typically unorthodox, but vivid ballad to its conclusion. Though it follows a familiar formula, the bouncy lightness and engaging lyricism of ‘Sapokanikan’ whets the appetite for Newsom’s upcoming new material.

‘Divers’– a double album – is her much-anticipated fourth LP, which follows in the autumn.

 

One Thing – Roots Manuva

As befitting a man named Rodney, Roots Manuva is unafraid to use prosaic and everyday imagery to illustrate his complex, thought-provoking rhymes.  Following his past declaration of affection for cheese on toast (‘Witness’); scrambled eggs and Walkers crisps are name-checked in this potent latest track.

Money is the ‘one thing’ on Roots’ mind here. A veteran of social commentary from his South London stronghold, he pointedly comments on the obscenity of the social welfare situation while paradoxically dreaming the consumer dream (of Lamborghinis and snakeskin bikinis). Dark, hypnotic production by Switch lends a sense of urgency to the message from the genre-defying instigator.

Fresh from the festival scene and supporting Blur at Hyde Park this summer, a re-energised Roots Manuva releases new album ‘Bleeds’ in October.

 

Snakeskin Deerhunter

Self-styled U.S. indie darling, Bradford Cox, has recently been dabbling in acting (‘Dallas Buyers Club’) and his ongoing solo project, Atlas Sound. But his most revered work comes as part of the fluid 4/5-piece band, Deerhunter. They return with new album ‘Fading Frontier’, concocted in the group’s hometown of Atlanta this year.

“I was born already nailed to the cross” is a killer opening line, if one which is hardly indicative of a sprightly clap-along tune such as this. The sinuously-delivered lyrics to ‘Snakeskin’ appear to be autobiographical – perhaps referencing the lead singer’s unusual adolescence (illness and isolation) and/or his recent unfortunate collision with a car. Funky, melodic and highly accessible; this track offers a good entry-point into Cox’s weird and wonderful world for those who are yet to experience its munificent pleasures.

Deerhunter will return to these shores in October/November; with gigs in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Brighton and London.

– 

Also recommended this month

 

Gratitude – Talib Kweli.
Hip-hop mastery; inciting us to ‘Fuck The Money’ (but not literally, that’d end messily).

Bodies – Farao.
Soaring and strident stuff from the “Scandi indie-folk goddess”.

Woman’s Work – U.S. Girls.
Like a demented Santigold. Sample YouTube comment: “This is some next level shit!”

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

The Festive 15. Part 3: 5-1

2015 is upon us, and despite Marty McFly and Doc Brown’s claims to the contrary, we’re still not floating around on hover boards and there hasn’t been a peep yet about the production of Jaws 19

Something that can be relied upon is Jonathan O’Shea’s Festive 15. In the first editions we counted down from 15th  to 6th, now witness the top five singles of 2014 in all of their glory! 

5. Love Letters – Metronomy

Surely a day never goes by without this group seeing the word ‘retro’ written about them, but this is an authentic old-time hip-shaker of a tune. Video by Michel Gondry.

4. La Vérité – Frànçois & the Atlas Mountains

French is my second language of choice, so I can confidently decode at least 38% of this. But that matters not a jot, ‘cause it’s catchy as f*ck!

3. Sisters – Cate Le Bon

Perfectly demented. What an outro!

2. Rule Number One – Telegram

Swirling, controlled chaos. Sounds a little bit like a futuristic Status Quo fronted by Stephen Hawking’s voice box, but don’t let that put you off.

1. Europa Geht Durch Mich – Manic Street Preachers

Such a succinct, politically acute and inexorable blast of polemic. Killer cowbell too.

What do you think of Jonathan’s Festive 15? Not a whiff of Justin Bieber, Wand Erection or Union J! Let us know which tracks you would have selected in the comments section below, and, as always, please share the article and invite friends to ‘like’ the Kureen Facebook page!

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

The Festive 15. Part 2: 10-6

Guess who’s back, back again; Jon O’s back, tell a friend… Seriously – tell a friend and let’s get some new viewers for Kureen! In this second edition of the Festive 15 Jonathan O’Shea reveals the tracks that make up the first half of his top 10, narrowly missing out on a slot amongst the elite quintet.

10. Ghost Rider – Anna Calvi

Breathy vocals and discordant pangs of guitar knitted together by an insistent beat. The dark queen of alt-rock smothered this Suicide cover with characteristic high drama.

9. Would You Fight For My Love? – Jack White

It’s all laid out on the line by a mildly hysterical Jack White, beseeching his beloved to show him his/her balls (metaphorically speaking).

8. Luke Warm – Brockley Spears


Luke Warm – Brockley Spears on MUZU.TV.

You can never be sure exactly where this slinky, hypnotic track will wander next. A genre-spanning aural confection: try not dancing to it.

7. Blue Moon – Beck

Touches again on Beck’s classic ‘Sea Change’ era (as does the lovely recent ‘Say Goodbye’). Heartfelt and melancholic, yet strangely uplifting.

6. Verano – Linda Gulilala

Builds into something equally melodic and euphoric with a little early-Ash feel. Lyrics about a plasticine sea lion’s trip to the roller disco (I’m guessing, it’s all in Spanish innit.)

Tune in again tomorrow, when the make up of top five shall be removed from lock and key, and just who the heck will gain the coveted award for the best release of 2014 (a packet of lima beans and the charred remains of a 1989 UB40 goodie bag received from Going Live.)

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

Premier Predictions. Week Five

Another sticky week for Dom Kureen saw him defeated 6-4 by actor/muso Kelvin West. Surely the current rut can’t last for much longer, with a packed Christmas Premier League schedule allowing ample opportunity for a renaissance.

Pink Ganesh

In this Boxing Day instalment of Premier Predictions, Dom takes on the might of music journalist, youth educator and former Irish footballer Jonathan O’Shea, a man who speaks 14 languages fluently, three of them Flemish.

*All Boxing Day fixtures kick off at 3pm unless stated.

Chelsea vs West Ham United
Kick Off: 12.45pm

John Terry

Dom: 2-1
Chelsea were effortlessly impressive at Stoke during a 2-0 victory last weekend, with evergreen John Terry scooping man of the match honours. West Ham should provide a more arduous proposition, with main man Andy Carroll at last finding his feet (and fitness). The lanky sick note should give Terry and Cahill a headache, but the Hammers will exit empty handed.

Jon: 2-1
A blood-and-thunder East v West clash of cultures is on the cards at the Bridge. Big Fat Sam may have ‘diversified the brand’ this season, but will primarily concentrate on using his multiple big units to go toe-to-toe with Chelsea’s own beasts (Ivanovic, Matic, Diego Costa, et al). A win will keep Chelsea clear at the top and (come May) the Hammers can clinch a Europa League spot.

Burnley vs Liverpool

Dom: 1-2
Martin Skrtel’s 97th minute point salvager against Arsenal felt significant for the Reds. Unfortunate not to win on the day, Brendan Rodgers will view Burnley as the match where his team can place short-term crisis talks to bed. Clarets’ star man Danny Ings is always lively; the young striker could conceivably trade Turf Moor for Anfield next month.

Jon:  1-1
Will Danny Ings still be around by the end of January? Will Brendan Rodgers? I reckon the former will net a late equaliser to once again undermine the latter’s floundering attempts to rescue Liverpool’s stalled season. A vitally important transfer window awaits both sides.

Crystal Palace vs Southampton

Dom: 2-2
The Eagles are among a crop of unpredictable teams in the top-flight this term. On one hand they have bucket loads of flair in wide positions, on the other they lack any form of legit front man (Fraizer Campbell doesn’t count.) Saints were back to their best with a 3-0 slaying of Everton last week, but they’re never as penetrating on their travels. A point apiece.

Jon: 0-2
Palace, as their curiously-coiffed gaffer freely admits, are desperately short up front. The Saints, meanwhile, have many expensively-acquired forward options and can also cherry- pick fresh prospects, such as the impressive Harrison Reed, from their fantastic academy as and when they wish. Ronald Koeman is notoriously level-headed and will stay patient while his side grind out the win.

Everton vs Stoke City

Lego Robot Dance

Dom: 2-1
The Europa League has clearly affected Everton, with half of their summer acquisitions loan deals made permanent, inevitably that policy can promote stagnation. Worse still, key duo Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry have been far less effective since becoming full-time Toffees. Stoke are destined for a lower-mid table finish, remaining adjacent to the bottom feeders after this narrow defeat.

Jon: 2-1
It’s been a tough term on both sides of Stanley Park. Despite bringing the old gang back together (loanees Barry and Lukaku signing permanent deals in the summer), Everton have regressed. The Toffees real strength, as anyone will tell you though, lies in the wide areas – one of their flying full-backs will spring to the rescue here with a characteristic late penalty-box surge.

Leicester City vs Tottenham Hotspur

Dom: 1-3
Nigel Pearson currently resembles a toddler padding through quick sand, resorting to the same stale tactics and clichéd post-match diatribe week after week. His is a glorified Championship team, who despite early season promise are, by a distance, the puniest collective in the division. The Foxes will be totally overrun by an improving Spurs side – for whom Christian Eriksen has been a revelation.

Jon: 0-0
Freakish free-for-alls apart (the dreamlike 5-3 thumping of United) Leicester have struggled to create and score. Consistency, for Spurs, continues to be more elusive than Twitter fiend Joey Barton’s sense of hypocrisy. Erik Lamela brings to mind early-United era Cristiano Ronaldo: all slickness but little substance, while Christian Eriksen is the real deal and Harry Kane shows promise, but they still lack a killer instinct.

Manchester United vs Newcastle United

Newcastle Manchester United

Dom: 3-0
If this fixture had been played a month ago Newcastle might have fancied their chances. Since then Louis Van Gaal’s side have stumbled upon some consistency, in no small part aided by the return of Michael Carrick. The Toon have an injury crisis that threatens to suck them back into trouble – they should be fine once a few of the better players return, but until then it could be onerous for fans.

Jon: 4-2
Falcao’s Villa Park equaliser last week should be an ominous sign for the other Champions League chasers – with RVP back in full flow, United now possess the most deadly striking unit in the PL. Newcastle left the (Gallow)gate open while chasing an overdue derby win last week and suffered another bitter defeat by the merciless Mackems. Defensive frailties abound here, so expect six goals as a minimum.

Sunderland vs Hull City

Dom: 0-0
The Mackems won the Tyne-Wear derby in the dying throes on Sunday, as their Geordie hosts overplayed gung-ho when seeking a late winner, that was only Sunderland’s third league victory in 17 matches thus far. With both teams averaging less than one goal per game this has the potential to have all the hard hitting action of Pip Schofield interrogating Pudsey Bear.

Jon: 1-0
Having grown tired of ties, Sunderland finally seized the day against their reviled rivals and the sublimely talented Adam Johnson was the hero once more. Top scorer Stephen Fletcher will be the difference in this hugely important game for ex-Mackem manager Steve Bruce. Hull will have to get busy in the January window if they want to stay afloat (for evidence that Tigers can float, check out ‘Life of Pi’)

Swansea City vs Aston Villa

Wilfried Bony

Dom: 3-2
The overturning of slack jawed speed merchant Gabby Agbonlahor’s unwarranted red card against Manchester United provides a boost for Paul Lambert, who must envisage the former England forward’s presence alongside Christian Benteke as a key component of the Villains’ blueprint. Swansea love playing on their own ground and Wilfried Bony will fancy his chances against a ponderous Villa defence.

Jon: 0-6 1-1
Big boys Bony and Benteke will share the spoils here, after Villa customarily cede 79% of possession and hope to nick 0.4 of a goal on the break. Delph and Sanchez will provide some serious steel in midfield. By contrast, the Swans’ Gary Monk sets out to play keep-ball in every eventuality and has been richly rewarded by a high-flying start to the season.

West Bromwich Albion vs Manchester City

Dom: 0-2
The Baggies don’t often suffer heavy defeats, but have the stodgiest midfield in the top-tier, burdened by unimaginative workhorses. In the absence of Sergio Aguero the likes of David Silva and Jesus Navas have come to the party for City, who will leave the Hawthorns with three more precious points.

Jon: 2-3
Striker-less City were a joy to behold once they took the upper hand last week; with David Silva, Jesus Navas and Yaya Toure sparking off their unlikely foil, the ever-versatile James Milner. They’ll score again in the absence of Aguero & co, because West Brom are flakier than filo. Saido Berahino can edge back to form with another eye-catching display against a PL big gun, but alas no post-Chrimbo cigar.

Arsenal vs Queens Park Rangers
Kick Off: 17.30

Mathieu Debuchy

Dom: 3-1
Matthieu Debuchy turned from hero to villain last week, the right-back cum centre-half scoring his first Gunners goal to level matters at Anfield, followed by ludicrous marking that allowed Martin Skrtel to bullet home the latest of late equalisers. In 11-goal Charlie Austin Rangers boast a striker with the ability to disturb any makeshift defence, although without a single point on their travels and with the ancient Clint Hill/Richard Dunne in situ they’ll concede a few too.

Jon: 3-1
Expect: Arsenal to revert to swashbuckling type back at home, after travails on their travels. Wenger’s boys barely deserved to return with a point from Anfield but nearly snatched all three – QPR always shrivel away from Loftus Road’s tight confines though. Don’t expect: Sky’s Thierry Henry to make a brief cameo with a last minute handballed winner for the Gunners.

After four editions of Premier Predictions DJ Rees remains the front runner, with Dom just ahead of Kelvin West, despite him suffering 6-4 loss in their head-to-head!

1. DJ Rees: 11 points

2. Just Mike: 9

3. True Geordie: 8

4. Dom: 7.25 (average points scored)

5. Kelvin West: 6

 

Think that you can do better? Get in touch and you could be part of Premier Predictions in 2015!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Cate Le Bon: ‘Sisters’ (Single review)

Our chief music man, Jonathan O’Shea, has been busy taking in the new sounds recently. This time he turns his attention to folky Welsh singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon’s latest release ‘Sisters.’

12931103894_00e46e1d16_z

An ever-more sleek and sinuous stage presence, Welsh troubadour-ess Cate Le Bon returned from a recent US sojourn with a new look and refined sound; evidenced on her third album, ‘Mug Museum’, where the beguiling ‘Me Oh My’ ploughed fertile folksy terrain and ‘Cyrk’ took a tender step towards a new direction. Released on the Wichita label – this was a tighter, more coherent set.

‘Sisters’ is both recognisably inventive and comfortingly strange, but Le Bon’s signature sound has certainly matured and is more satisfyingly direct here. Her renowned vocals – often erroneously likened to those of the Velvet Underground’s Nico – are as sumptuously enunciated and dexterously delivered as ever, while H. Hawkline’s frantic, insistent keys drive the track through to a thrillingly demented climax.

‘I won’t die, I’m a sister; I won’t die!’ is the immortal resolution declared throughout, as Manics collaborator Le Bon laconically unfurls lines like: ‘She will set my hands on fire/ hands on fire over again/ her to me and me to them’.

That swirly, hooky keyboard input and a punchy, pulsing drumbeat underpins four minutes of delightfully off-kilter lyricism from the pencil of an underrated songwriter.

Stepping out of the shadows: Cate Le Bon is destined for big things.
Stepping out of the shadows: Cate Le Bon is destined for big things.

All the while, it’s impossible not to consider the influence of one-time tour-mate St Vincent on this ascendant ‘alternative’ star-in-the-making, as she journeys from her early career of melancholic folk meanderings to today’s peppy psych-pop gems.

‘Ah-ooh’-ing all over the crazily kaleidoscopic outro in typical fashion, Cate Le Bon presents a fully-formed potential hit, which could raise her profile far above and beyond her sterling work with the Manics and Welsh alt-doyen Gruff Rhys. It’s an attention-grabbing paean to sisterhood, which should insinuate itself into any self-respecting indie summer playlist.

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

Kelis: Rumble (Single review)

Jonathan O’Shea returns with a review of the latest cut from Neo-Soul, hip-hop Diva Kelis, Rumble, the second helping from recently released album ‘Food.’ 

4800265073_9acec8b215_z

Black. Keys.

Immediately, those are the two words which leap out from the speakers as the intro to this Kelis comeback slides incongruously ear-wards. Only when she hits us with the opening line does it become apparent that this tune isn’t another from the non-stop hit factory of the boys from Akron, Ohio.

Incidentally, Kelis will share the stage with the authors of ‘Next Girl’, to which ‘Rumble’s intro bears at least a passing resemblance, at the much-awaited Latitude festival this summer.

The laid-back, tumbling brass refrain also recalls Mark Ronson’s mid-noughties output, as the ex-Mrs Nas (or Ms Rogers, or whatever she puts on her library card application form these days) departs markedly from the floor fillers of previous release ‘Flesh Tone’.

On the second release from new album, ‘Food’, Kelis grudgingly ‘welcomes’ a spurned lover back into her life: ‘I’d just got used to my space’, she laments before regretfully documenting their troubled joint history.

Naturally, she then dredges up the requisite melodrama we expect from one of pop’s most eccentric spirits, conflictingly belting out: ‘Baby, don’t go!’ in her trademark raspy soulful holler.

Kelis has never had a no.1 UK single, can 'Rumble' remedy that?
Kelis has never had a no.1 UK single, can ‘Rumble’ remedy that?

She eventually resolves: ‘I’m so glad you gave back the keys’, but it’s all a little underwhelming lyrically and lacks the innovative bite we’ve come to expect from this relative veteran of the R&B-pop scene.

It’s a long old time since Kelis so compellingly yelled “I hate you so much right now!” into the waiting abyss, so it’s natural that her style should progress, if not exactly mellow.

The reviews for ‘Food’ are predominantly positive – the strutting ‘Jerk Ribs’  is a more promising taster for what’s to come – so it’s far too early to fear that the milkshake has soured.

Those whose appetites are not satiated by this new direction should seek out the Breach remix, which more resembles her earlier output and tellingly has more YouTube hits than the original mix.

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

Lana Del Rey: West Coast (single review)

Jonathan O’Shea gives his verdict on sultry trip-hop singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey’s newest single, West Coast, set for UK release on May 18th.

7459943752_dd684ce89b_z

Worthless, tuneless scenester junk? That’s the predetermined tag many cynical pop pundits have readied for Lana Del Rey’s return to the fold. In truth, expectations are divided – some imagine the release of forthcoming album ‘Ultraviolence’ will herald a genuine and concerted push at establishing Ms Del Rey as a credible pop queen for the foreseeable future. Others confidently predict the unravelling of sumptuous style over sonic substance.

It doesn’t help to refute the naysayers when a generic-sounding song title such as ‘West Coast’ pops its head above the parapet. And, naturally, the track was written by previous collaborator Rick Nowels (whose past clients include: Stevie Nicks, Dido, Lykke Li, Belinda Carlisle, and, erm, Ronan Keating) rather than by Lana herself. So far, so what?

Yet the stir created by ‘Born To Die’s release and subsequent mega-success left open the latent possibility that the idyllic package of style and substance could be within her command. And as the first single from the imminent second album (recorded in Nashville; produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach), radio-waves have long been primed for the opening tumbling drum intro of Lana’s latest ‘joint’.

Upcoming album: Lana Del Rey's 'Ultraviolence' is set for UK release this summer
Upcoming album: Lana Del Rey’s ‘Ultraviolence’ is set for UK release this summer

There are faint echoes of both Tori Amos and Feist in the delivery of Nowels’ languid lyrics. She’s even brazenly nicked a bit of The Beatles’ masterful ‘And I Love Her’ riff. And the intermittent ‘You got the music in you’ refrain unfortunately brings to mind the New Radicals late-90s slagging of Courtney Love, Beck and Hanson.

Fortunately for the pouting princess of murk-pop, it all hangs together quite wonderfully. Typically atmospheric, with Del Rey’s trademark breathy vocals, ‘West Coast’ is capable of woozily insinuating itself with even the most jaded listener. ‘Ooh baby’s are ten-a-penny across the vast and all-encompassing tides of music history, but can still sweetly enrapture when delivered with such lushness. Mentions for west coast movies and rock ‘n’ roll groupies inevitably ensue, before curious cadence changes and swooning guitar solos bring the track to a crescendo, with Del Rey crooning devotion to her ‘boy blue’.

Derivative? Naturally. A mind-blowing musical metamorphosis? No. Still, the essence of what intrigues and entices listeners into Lana Del Rey’s harmonious honey-trap remains intact. An air of mysterious otherworldliness underpins a perfect pop sensibility, honed by years of vain endeavour as plain old Lizzie Grant. The release of ‘West Coast’ only intensifies the intrigue.

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.