Monday 26 September 2011

'i' Really Like This Nicola Roberts Song

Everyone loves a good rant, don't they? A chance to vent, get all your frustrations out. Especially on the internet, where you can shout 'screw you!' at anything or anyone into the overcrowded din before it disappears into the world wide void forever.

In fact, while we're here, I might take the chance to do a few myself:

Screw you David Guetta for releasing the same shit song hundreds of times without anyone noticing and making tonnes of cash!
Screw you Michael Bay for wasting £5 and two and a half of my life with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen!
Screw you Michael Bay again for making me think Transformers: Dark of the Moon would be any better! It was equally shit!
Screw you Blink-182 for a thoroughly mediocre return!
Screw you Facebook for changing your layout into an even more inscrutable version every few weeks!

That feels better now. Except for the fact that none of what I've said is going to change anything.

Another person who it seems likes to have a good old inconsequential yell at the world is Nicola Roberts. Transforming from 'The Ginger One in Girls Aloud' to 'The Ginger One from Girls Aloud Who Writes Good Solo Pop Songs', Nicola's shy-and-awkward-but-quite-sweet-and-feisty persona may have won over fans on the internet ('Beat Of My Drum' was a great first single), she didn't really make much of an impact on the charts. It remains to be seen how well her debut album Cinderella's Eyes (released today) does in the charts come Sunday, but what's certain is that there's actually some really great pop songs on there.

"I'm scared to think about the Devil 'case he takes my soul"

The one that immediately leaps out is 'i', a big old moan which sees Roberts pretty much list a load of stuff that really annoys or scares her. Despite the odd dodgy couplet (and a bit that sounds like she says 'I don't like Batman', which worried me for a while), it actually makes for a pretty successful set of honest lyrics which never come across as too much of a try-hard attempt to be all 'dark' and 'mysterious'. After years of being 'The Ginger One in Girls Aloud', it's clear that she's got plenty of pent-up frustrations and a desire to speak for herself away from the safe and restrained world of PR and marketing people.

"I don’t like that you won’t let me speak controversially/Because you think that it won’t sit well universally"

Underneath all of the angsty vocals lies a brilliantly doomy funk riff courtesy of Mr. Metronomy himself, Joe Mount. In fact, anyone who's found a lot to love in The English Riviera will probably find much to praise about 'i' - without Roberts' vocals, it would fit fairly easily into Metronomy's latest, with tight drumming, bursts of fuzzed-out synths, a rigid guitar riff and fretboard-wandering bassline.

"I don’t like the people that leave comments on the internet/They preach they’re perfect while they’re killing you with intellect"

'i' is a remarkably assured pop song which will hopefully prove to listeners that Nicola Roberts is a notable musical talent. Give it a listen, and if you're intrigued then go and pick up a copy of Cinderella's Eyes - we should be praising great inventive pop music like this, and the best way to do that is to pay a few quid to the artist and show it's also commercially viable. Screw you David Guetta!

Oh, and check out this live version of the 'i' where Roberts drops an F-bomb!

Saturday 17 September 2011

Friday 16 September 2011

Is That A Docket In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Pleased To See Me?

*EDIT* Just wanted to bring you the following quick Twitter update:

That is all.

We love a bit of Caitlin Rose here at Quiff Pro 'Fro. So much so, in fact, that her brilliant debut album Own Side Now made it into the Quiff Pro 'Fro Albums of the Year 2010 list. If you never got around to hearing that album, then it really is worth checking out, particularly if you're partial to a bit of folky country acoustic brilliance.

For now though I shall divert your attention to a track from Rose's Dead Flowers EP - released as an appetiser to Own Side Now's main event. It's an altogether more idiosyncratic affair, a distillation of Caitlin's razor-sharp wit and world-weary sarcasm (though she's only 24), though steeped in traditional country themes - namely heartbreak and drinking. As ever, her voice is absolutely astonishing, capable of transforming from a soft whisper to an almighty belt in seconds - just see her cover of Patsy Cline's 'Three Cigarettes In An Ashtray'.

"To Ben, Love Caitlin"... *Swoon*
I only got round to picking up a copy of Dead Flowers a few months ago when I went to Caitlin's gig at the Musician pub in Leicester - she was as brilliant as the previous time I'd seen her in Newcastle, with a fantastic collection of musicians as her backing band (I was again transfixed by slide guitarist Spencer Cullum Jr), an easy onstage presence and - THAT VOICE. Coming back for a double-encore, she finished with a counfounding rendition of Dead Flowers closer 'T-Shirt' - just her and a tambourine. No guitar. It was an amazingly brave performance, and an absolute stunner leaving the entire audience with their spines tingling and neck-hair (ew) standing on end.

Anyway, I digress - I picked up a lovely 10" vinyl of Dead Flowers which I was lucky enough to have Caitlin sign. I'd like to pretend I played it cool, but I definitely stuttered out something along the lines of "OMG THAT WAS SO GOOD THANKS SO MUCH OH WOW THAT'S AMAZING THANKYOU THAT WAS REALLY INCREDIBLE THANKS". When I listened to it, the song 'Docket' immediately jumped out at me and has been on repeat (along with the rest of the EP, which, if you like Own Side Now is definitely worth a purchase) ever since. It's got a slightly Kimya Dawson feel with a sing-song 'woah-oh-oh' refrain, and a humourously rebellious youthful obnoxiousness to it. Give it a listen, pick up the album and EP, and then whatever you do make sure you see Caitlin Rose live.

Buy a copy of Own Side Now here, and Dead Flowers here. DO IT.

    Monday 5 September 2011

    Surfer Blood Are In My Veins

    Did you think the Summer was over? It's September already, and it's a grey evening out there, so I don't blame you if you think it is. Well, you thought WRONG. Don't feel bad about it though.

    I'm going to keep this short and sweet. Partly because the track that this post is about will pretty much speak for itself if you, as I will implore you to later, turn it on and crank it up as loud as physically possible (or at least as socially acceptable), and also because the sooner you hear it the better.

    Astro Coast: THAT'S A BIG SHARK.
    I love Surfer Blood. First album? Ace melodies, Weezery nerd-rock stylings with liberal sprinklings of surfy summer goodness, Beach Boys harmonies and an angsty undercurrent. It also had a phenomenally cool album cover with a big shark on it. If you missed out on Astro Coast last year, get it, stick it on repeat and rock the heck out.

    But before you do that, check out 'Miranda' off the bands forthcoming EP, the brilliantly titled Tarot Classics. It's more addictive than crack (not that I've ever tried crack), catchier than the England cricket team at this year's Ashes (topical sports reference!) and if I could inject it intravenously, I probably would (total lie, headphones are more than sufficient).

    It's a blast of pure foamy surf goodness, weirdly super upbeat and chilled at exactly the same time. The verse sounds like a chorus, the pre-chorus sounds like a chorus, the middle 8 sounds like a chorus, and the chorus IS a chorus. It's that damn catchy. The closest comparison I can make (call me lazy or whatever) is to Bossanova-era Pixies, when Frank Black got all obsessed with aliens and surf-rock. Also, that album had four awesome tracks each named after women ('Cecilia Ann', 'Velouria', 'Allison' and 'Ana'), and this one's called 'Miranda', so there's that too. Now I'm gonna shut up, and implore you to give this a listen and TURN IT UP REALLY REALLY REALLY LOUD. I also implore you to listen with good headphones. And I implore you to put this and Mausi's latest single on a 'Summer Isn't Over Yet' playlist. I hope you feel implored.

      Surfer Blood - Miranda by Too Good For Radio

    Tarot Classics is out on October 25th, and not a minute too soon. 

    Friday 2 September 2011

    Mausi Are Back! And This Time, They're Coming After Your Retinas...

    sol. by mausi

    Back in February, a music video caught my eye. Poking around into Newcastle's local scene on YouTube brought up the then-unreleased debut single from Mausi, a spectacularly catchy guitar-based pop-rock ditty with a sweet video filmed on the North-East Metro line. 'Follow Me Home', as its title might suggest, refused to leave me alone, and so I headed along to the single launch gig at the Cluny and was genuinely blown away by the knack for big melodies that this little four-piece seemed to be able to knock out at will.

    After a quiet few months (despite the odd hint appearing on their Twitter feed and a brilliant set at Evolution Emerging), Mausi are back with their next single, and fair to say they've seriously stepped up their game. Available to download now for free at, 'Sol.' presents a different side of Mausi's sound, with gleaming synths taking centre stage. Where 'Follow Me Home' was Phoenix-meets-Sky Larkin, 'Sol.' is more Phoenix-meets-Justice. Yep. The sun-kissed synths and choruses of kids chanting 'DANCE!' brings to mind Justice's monster hit, erm, 'D.A.N.C.E', while the chorus sticks to Phoenix's laid back, ridiculously cool melodic pop.

    'Sol.' is a dizzying concoction of handclaps, funky basslines and disco strings with spot-on production. There's a lot going on within three minutes, but it never feels crowded or forced. Beneath all of the studio trickery lies a simply brilliant, catchy summery pop song full of youthful hedonism, blue-skied optimism and an unwavering, unmistakable dazzle of warm, bright sunshine; all of which sounds a bit ridiculous and OTT until you actually hear the track. If possible, it's even more catchy than 'Follow Me Home'.

    I really, sincerely hope that this little band from Newcastle reach the audience they deserve when they make massive, astonishingly catchy pop music like this. With some exposure, this could be the big hit it totally has the potential to be. In the space of just two singles, Mausi have already become the brightest hope for the increasingly impressive North-East music scene, and I honestly can't give it enough praise. Mausi, we 'Sol'-ute you!

    To regain hope in humanity after that frankly terrible pun, check out the rather spectacular video to 'Sol.' below in all its summer-drenched glory, and believe the hype.

    M A U S I - sol. from wearemausi on Vimeo.