pet-shop-boys-yesThe Pet Shop Boys are an English electronic dance two-some who have been together since 1981 and are still going strong today. They have enjoyed world wide fame with hits such as ‘West End Girls,’ ‘Always on My Mind’ and ‘Heart.’ Their tenth album ‘Yes,’ produced by Xenomania, was released on 23rd March in UK stores, and reached an impressive number 4 in the UK album charts.

‘Love etc,’ the first track on the album and coincidentally the first track to be released, does not disappoint. Familiar funky electro beats, and the trademark lead singer Neil Tennant’s airy, breathless voice, with a chanting crowd over the top ensure that ‘Love etc’ is catchy, repetitive, and mesmerising. I’m not sure I could imagine it being an instant hit, but it’s good enough to catch on after a while, especially with the cool chorus “Don’t have to be a big bucks Hollywood star, don’t have to drive a super car to get far, don’t have to live a life of power and wealth, don’t have to be beautiful buy cheap viagra online but it helps” and drumming keyboard beat. Read more

garygo-albumGary Go hit the music press headlines when he was confirmed as the official opening act for Take That’s UK tour this June – a dream opportunity for any new artist (at least one who doesn’t mind Take That).  And now, with perfect timing, comes his self-titled debut album.

I feel bad about knocking it – it’s a good first album, but not much more than that.  It’s very commercial, the comparisons made by Q magazine calling Gary Go ‘a one man Coldplay’ are justified, and I thought I detected a hint of Snow Patrol in there as well. 

The first half of the album has a fairly routine selection of songs with slow build-ups to punchier choruses, the second half  seems a little more downbeat, but then after “Wonderful” little else could be more upbeat.  I was able to catch some intelligent lyrics in there, but generally the whole album is not a long laster.

Self-taught, self-produced – you’ve got to hand it to him, he’s made it a long way through his own persistence.  Fingers crossed he can get to a more interesting second album.  It’s an assured first album, and hints at great potential.

morrissey_skullThe press release accompanying this single is interesting;  the single itself barely gets a mention while the latest tour and all of the well-known Smiths tracks used as additional tracks on the various versions all get heavy coverage.  So what’s that all about then?

What it’s all about is that the single just isn’t very good and none of the attempts to polish it with rare tracks are going to make it any better.  Although I was never a Smiths fetishist in the ‘80s, I always thought there were loads of good songs and a few great songs in there.  Even with Morrissey’s solo material I’ve heard songs that I thought were truly outstanding; and then this came along. Read more

stonegods_startofsomethingEach and every day I exist on this planet, my musical scepticism is being slowly whittled away by bands who I have never heard of showing me that there is reason to have faith in newly released music; Stone Gods are one of those bands. There I was, slipping the CD into my stereo ready for another Guns N’ Roses disappointment, and before I know it my socks are clear across the other side of the room and my brain is leaking out of my right ear.

The single “Start Of Something” off their latest album “Silver Spoons and Broken Bones” consists of one truly inspiring classic rock and roll track (“Start Of Something”) and three classic rock and roll tracks with an acoustic tang oozing out of every strum (“Don’t Drink The Water”, “Things Could Be Worse”, and “Where You Comin’ From?”); this four track CD alone has already out played 90 percent of albums currently topping the charts for me. My favourite was definitely “Don’t Drink the Water”, plenty of sweet, meaty acoustic goodness, and even better was totally unrelated to The Dave Matthews Band. Read more

ladygaga-pokerfaceI suppose it’s a bit late to say that this is great pop tune which should sell really well and might even make a Number One for a few weeks although, on first hearing the album at the beginning of 2009, it was one of the 2 tracks (along with “Just Dance”) which stood out as an obvious single. Both songs are good examples of how to make great pop singles with squeaky-clean radio-friendly production, perfect hooks, a voice which is good and just a little bit different and some fairly sleazy lyrics (gambling as a metaphor for sex). It’s a formula which has worked for decades, so why not make the most of it?

The marketing strategy for Lady Gaga is interesting, portraying her as the glamorous but obviously contrived bad girl while setting up appearances at the BRITs, G.A.Y. and a support slot on the Pussycat Dolls Doll Domination tour. All of this combined with the UK tour set up for June and July looks suspiciously like trying to cash in on a current phenomenon with a very limited shelf life (not new in the music business but becoming increasingly cynical, particularly with female artistes). Read more

filthy-dukes-nonsenseAlbums by DJs; you just don’t know what you’re going to get.  It can be the same idea recycled a dozen times or no ideas spread across a dozen genres.  Happily, this collection defies the stereotypes by giving us a really eclectic bunch of tunes absolutely packed with great ideas.  The concept is really simple – throw in every analogue synth you can get your hands on, use the mixing desk used by legendary Kraftwerk producer Conny Plank in the 70s and use every singer who ever went  near the “Kill ‘Em All” club night.

As you would expect, there are obvious Kraftwerk influences but there are also references to early ‘80s pre-New Romantic British synth pop.  You can pick out early Human League, the melancholy side of Japan (remember them?) and the pop sensibility of Orchestral Manoeuvres  in the Dark as well as many others too obscure to mention. Read more