Monday, 29 March 2010

Linda Sundblad - Manifest

Another blog that thinks it has a clue about sarcasm, another blonde Swedish girl who thinks she has a 'crew' and that the solution for anything is to 'get her boys'. So with absolutely nothing in common with Robyn then, it is a clean slate to review the adorable Manifest album by Linda Sundblad. She's the Louise Nurding with a nasty side. And this blog doesn't know any better to say 'no' to her mechanical glamour and appealing verbal sting.

Creamy opener Choice is an odd cork to pop for the launch of the album - you might need a cleansing wipe as it's more of a dribble than an explosion. It shows confidence, for Sundblad's honey-like slither is sultry and assured, and if anything suggests the shame of Oh Father has been completely wiped out of her. Smokey synths like the first 2 seconds of Depeche Mode's Policy of Truth swirl coldly, but the track stays in the bedroom. Husky sexy cool.

The tougher Making Out is a bigger slice of pop steak to chew. A total re-write of Kelly Clarkson's I Do Not Hook Up (more like I'm Too Fat To Un-Zip My 501s), but with a saltier juice and no sanitary towel drama overkill. Sunblad is the pop star of 2010 and 'fabulous and rich together / we could not look any better' keeps her end of the bargain, even if I can't quite imagine this one dating anyone who wasn't some kind of an unknowingly bissexual cage fighter as opposed to Scandinavia's answer to Justin Timberlake.

The pseudo-Soft Cell grinder Let's Dance has a thumping chorus. Competing with a tense sense of euphoric debris, it jumps out and slaps you like a bitch who is too out of it to put up a fight.

The thirst-quenching mid-tempo burst of It's Alright is pure Cherish era Madonna. The very essense of air-kiss pop and side-glair electro. The sound of stardom or else care less responsibilities.

Contemplative Perfect Nobody is more pensive. An out of tune piano conveys the perfect cutesy-but-damaged setting for the intimacy of that lush and velvety voice. I could do without the snaps, but will give her props. She is determined to make everything funky, and the chorus narrowly avoids sounding strained but genuinely evokes a lovely-abeit-actressy emotion as opposed to enacting one. I hate to put it out there, but it's kind of perfect.

The Louise-meets-Margaret-Berger explosion of 2 All My Girls is an instant winner. The inexhaustibly blasting chorus might be spiked with with too many e's, but I think she's got the judgement spot on.

Italo-piano keys are splashed everywhere on Serotonin, a K-Klass worthy stream of concious without the repercussions of sounding anonymous. The pale beauty is a natural disco dolly. Both the gripping chorus and touching flourishes that follow it fly high. Add on her regular smarty-pants lyrical taunts and it gets more thrilling with every spin.

Album highlight Suicide Girl sprinkles a little crazy over her cornflakes, proving she's a first rate pedigree of show-tune pop. The beats have power and so do her lyrics: 'took too many pills and dialled 911 and now I'm playing cute in an ambulence'. I would like to see Gaga come up with fakery as sweet as this. Her quirkiness never dillutes or sounds flakey - calling an ambulence just for an audience flaunts her enduring artistic originality and importance for sure. Judge for yourself.

The stodgy peak Pick Up The Peices is her new flutterrier Lose You. A clenched fist bruised-and-used chorus sounds like it has been with you forever: the could-be-huge Swede makes sounding sad impossibly pretty and reassuring. She hits a home run with the crashing chorus, driving in the same lane as Dragonette's Easy. Her gloriously understated presence is showcased without even pretending to be cheap - who else is managing that in 2010?

With keyboard sounds remeniscent of M People's Don't Look Any Further, Damage has a strong case for commercial compensation. Surely she doesn't rhyme 'damage' with 'cabbage' though...

Her sulky Kleerup collab History is more of a bonus track and is solid enough to deserve a place. A neon river of ennui, Sundblad stays afloat to whimper like a trouper and still manages to sound wise and beyond emotion.

Less robotically disabled, Feels So Good intitially sounds like it's going to be a ballad version of My Humps, but instead has a dreaminess in common with the singer's own Keeper. Not to sound all Kara Diogardo, but Linda Sundblad's artistry is never pestering but remains full-on from start to finish as her sign out states: 'I just wanna know where this fucking show is'.

Her stiffest album yet, Manifest is an enormous accomplishment, much stronger product than the debut and doesn't rely on a clutch of standouts to stay upright - the consistensy is on target for pop album of the year contender. I won't hear any accusations Sundblad is the ersatz Robyn, it's clearly the other way around. Previously too cold to be cool, the ex-Lambretta starlet now radiates pop princess ebullience: with superstar style-swallowing, she robs from the 80s, rips off the 90s, kidnaps the future and constructs the ultimate Eurodisco of March 2010 whatever else Gabriella Cilmi's defenders might have to say about it.

Vanessa Amarosi - Mr Mysterious

No it's not Belinda Carlisle, it's not Khloé Kardashian either, it's Vanessa Amarosi starring in her 3rd Hazardous single Mr Mysterious.

Baby's On Ice next please.

Read my Hazarous review here.

Livin' Joy - Don't Stop Moving (the album review)

Front-loaded with 2 alpha divas as lead singers, this is the Tameka show despite Livin' Joy's first signiture song Dreamer owing everything to the sultry roar of Janice Robinson's inmitable vocals as well as her writing credit - sadly Ms Robinson's original version, which became a global number 1 smash, only appears as a hidden track. Tameka's gutsy go-for-broke style immediately responds with the act's second mega hit Don't Stop Moving, another full-pelt anthem - her lightening bolt vocals are not for the faint hearted but like her predecessor she fleshes out the song in a way that defines it beyond mere lyric and melody. Both singers trigger a unique rocket fuel with miraculous neo-camp sassiness (Pick Up The Phone is high class trash as far as I am concerned - you'll want to hear it again).

The air wooshes through your patience on the albums final modest hit single Deep In You (sadly there were no decent remixes). Tameka is more than the apprentice diva, but her lack of composure almost strips the rampant italo-house predator Where Can I Find Love of it's superb blizzard of desperation (although I do think 'am I looking for love on all the wrong websites' would have been the better lyric - missed a trick, girl).

She's pleasingly virtually anonymous on the soothing dancefloor throb Whenever You're Loney. Always insisting on getting her props, her much raggedier, much quirkier and much more wayward diagnosis' can be seen as symptoms of a somewhat awful nervous disorder if one is to be kind.

The fully engaged Follow The Rules establishes such versatile slogans as 'don't stop climbing till you reach the top'. Even self-made sex bombs have feelings: bedroom feelings of course; and Let Me Love You breaks it down if there were any doubt. Once again her careful message is loud and clear on Be Original and Don't Cha Wanna, both solid handbag swingers.

Before Dreamer the guys produced two Janice Robinson solo singles: the Dannii Minogue Gone-ish-but-good Children (seek it out and its anthemic pianotastic Explorer remix), and the Kelly Llorenna classic Sweetest Day of May (also a thrilling remix package).

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Nelly Furtado - Girlfriend In This City

Maneater and Promisuous Girl were both great singles. Hell, Say It Right and All Good Things were even good songs. Yet beyond a few more tracks, Loose wasn't filled with first-rate material. It was Toronto's answer to Cher and hip hop's version of a fat black man coming up with an album that looked towards Gwen Stefani, Madonna and even Britney. It was decent: irresistable in places, dull as Rachel Stevens leaving a voicemail in others. So thank fuck Nelly Furtado has ditched so-2006 Timbaland (that man is Bandy's concern these days apparantly). Able to cherry pick her best identities from 3 previous English-language studio albums and beyond, proof of the no-brainer decision below:

Above: with tan lines Kelly Llorenna would be proud of, Nelly's who-is-she nasal grimacing bodes well for new album Lifestyle.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

La Bouche

Okay I'll get my bush jokes out of the way (you don't need to trim much to get to the good stuff with these guys, etc). La Bouche were capable of some of the fastest 90s disco. Culpable to many limp dick ballads, one can only guess it was a compromise to singer Melanie Thorntons ambitions to launch a solo career. Many larger-than-life diva's did settle with dance music in order to have a career. Sad but true. However, with Melanie I do get the sense she enjoyed every sweaty moment that came with being part of such an act whoring out 5 song set lists in front of eager gays like there was no tomorrow.

Their many rampant highlights include the streoppy (Romy & Michelle featured) Be My Lover, my favourite Falling In Love (make sure you don't confuse it with the ballad), I Love To Love, Sweet Dreams, the aptly titled You Won't Forget Me and soaring In Your Life, which was the final Melanie led vocal to be released as a single as it was originally a solo track. Many, many, many unreleased gems are 'out there' and youtube is your friend if you want to hear some of them.

Lonnie Gordon

Bleached belter Lonnie Gordon's manically furious vocals are in a league of their own. I don't know much about this diva, but what I do know is that she likes it large. Even God can dance in her world. She can sing exquisite ballads (Wait), really shit ones (I won't air the names of her dry skidmarks - dance divas need all the work they can get) and even second-hand PWL ones (Beyond Your Wildest Dreams). However, her real calling card, which brings her to Diva Incarnate in the first place, is her gut-wrenching dance hits sung so angrily they sound more like arguments than 90s gay club fodder.

Happening All Over Again is her glitziest jam and biggest hit. Remixed into a more subdued house slice for the cautious American audience, I vastly prefer the PWL original (of which Dame Donna Summer flared her nostrils at - it was 'too gay' for her).

That's No Reason is another jittery intake of adrenaline-generating Hi-NRG pomp. This is probably my favourite - the chorus doesn't give you the full-facial effect of her 'believe me' torrent, but I love the electric sounds that flash and point. Once again Lonnie is sore about something (she likes it large remember), and I for one suggest an ice-pack. Poor Lonnie faints at the sight of a 6 pack these days, and that's just her reaction to most lesbians.

Hi-NRG hurricane A God That Can Dance is a hysterical performance, so much so Lonnie is lost for words and actually spits on record. Glazed with superior production that enables the craziest middle-8 to topple down like Mary Kiani jumping out of her high rise.

Like Girls Aloud's Biology meets Dolly Parton, No Regret isn't really a stomper but owes a little to the Northern Soul genre that identifies the British girl group's best single. More than a little solid.

I won't rattle on anymore - go check her out yourself!

Lonnie's previously unreleased PWL album If I Had To Stand Alone can be bought here.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Gala's Got A New Record Deal!

Italian visionary pop legend Gala has scored herself a contract with Plantet Works. Me neither. Plans are underway for some 'mediterranean' shows in the summer. A new REMIX of her 2009 smash Tough Love has been included on a forthcoming Amnesty International compilation album entitled PEACE, and her anthem Freed From Desire has been covered by Spanish scoundrels Mendetz (memo to Mendetz: in the words of RuPaul, 'don't fuck it up!'

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Monica - Still Flopping

Lil' Mo's latest sporadic long player is out now and Brandy doesn't even have an album out for her to leach free publicity from. I guess that's the risk that she's taking Halo-style. When Monica's first British (hit) solo single was released, The First Night, I was all set to whorship this artist. Sadly Monica just never caught on over here.

Incredibly, she has the all-important killer single in the form of a song that's been around from when Brandy's own then-comeback single Right Here (Departed) first leaked, the title track. That's right, it is 2 years old. Say goodbye to selling records, Mon, you've failed to crack the Billboard Hot 100 with your best cut on offer here. Gutsy vocal gumphing and cloud-bursting dark synths provide the necessary voltage completely lacking elswhere.

Helping others avoid her mistakes, tinkling piano keys skim the surface on One In A Lifetime, evoking the singer onto something of a pensive streak. MOR just ain't what I want from Monica. Stay Or Go is another piano ballad, but completely stripped down, and she even sighs in agreement - 'this is so annoying'. She finds a beat, even sounding like a forlon Whitney I Look To You album cut, and thankfully her thick, honey treacle tones really save this. Squeezing your heart like a sponge, the singer's technique remains in extreme good taste. Gentile and gorgeous.

Teaming up with 'hit-maker' Missy Elliot, Everything To Me doesn't know where it's going - stop-starting as if in two minds about which Alicia Keys song about diamond rings to rip off. The jittery flexigroover If You Were My Man is several tinsel glistens in the way of the Pointer Sisters, but it is most likely the Jackson 5 she has her sights set on. Monica specializes in worn-down-but-wise narratives, but sadly this fails to kick any doors down.

Mirror is a haunting mid-temp skidmark. Here I Am is a sad borderline-decent booty call plea. Girl needs to get herself some self service tips. Superman drips from the same tap. Love All Over Me certainly announces itself, but we're not changing direction at this point - girl's been listening to Toni Braxton ballads a bit to vulnerably. Believing In Me ('I apologise for what I have done').

Still Standing is certainly full of grace and grit from the singer herself, it's just a shame the pop hits have been sucked right out of her. She doesn't completely sink to the bottom, but there's nothing here that will rocket her to the top of the Rn'B charts nevermind cross over to the summit of the Billboard like it were 1998 again. Spritually superior to Whitney's soggy spliff spittings, but that is about it for now. I just hope she doesn't need yet another 2-4 years for her next chance to assert herself with better inspiration.

Christina Delivers A Bogey

So Christina Aguilera's next film is not going to be Burlesque after all. Instead the 40 year old 90s/2002s has-been stars in Hallmark's up and coming TV movie Lauren Bacall: Behind The Surgery. I did state I wouldn't be pandering to her countdown cuntery but I couldn't resist.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Just in case no one in blogspot has noticed, C'Aggy finally unvieled her plans to neversoundorlooklikeanyoneelseeveragain via the artwork for planned single Not Myself Tonight. No kidding. Who gives a shit - I like the look and hope it spells some much needed thunderstorms for her 8 year dry spell of no decent music. More news to follow on her official website - I don't think I'll be writing about her again until it is review time (who needs every blog under the sun to purge the same bile - it's not like this one ever lands any exclusives apart from the odd personal message from Sophie Ellis-Bextor...)

Sabrina Washington - OMG

After re-inventing her persona from aloof Mac-painted glamazon from Mistique to some sort of hybrid of every airhead female reality TV contestant of all time on her incredulous-at-everything stint on ITV's I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Sabrina Washington puts any worries at ease with her new novelty solo single OMG (frankly I wish it were titled OMFG (LMAO), but there is always next time). In the meantime, Alesha Dixon's more talented ex-band mate has decided to pay trubute to Dannii Minogue's infamous series of roadkill artwork with the hopes of achieving number 1 dance hits or even just becoming the new Jenny Frost.

As her Get Me Out of Here appearance shows, Sabs isn't afraid to make a tit of herself, even wearing Kylie's hand me downs in the video to prove it. Despite never truly flaring up into a proper breakdown, the track is teasingly addictive in the sense that if Vanilla were goodlooking black girls with better voices they would sound only slightly more rubbish than this.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Eurythmics - Savage

Beneathe minimal socialization, above humid and vacuous affairs, in bed with dirty aligators and cuckholding poor Japanese boys, even at its hookiest, Dave and Annie's carefully designed emotions are extreme yet incisively recogniseably. Conjuring beauty from bruises (I Need You), redemption from diamonds (the title track) or chronic fondness for assholes (I Need A Man), Annie's kitchen sink is glued to the notion of love as punishment, performance, power or just mere preferance. It's soaring highlights score so high that even the disparate moments merely bring it down to perfection. The unnatural setting of Savage is the Eurythmics' epochal era of spellbinding glamour and sonic youth.

When it begins you don't know where to look. The stabbing asphyixiating vogueing-throb Beethoven (I Love To Listen) is a choking Hi-NRG lasceration. Annie's demented housewife pulls her hair out and finds an immaculate wig, supposing boys like that are looking for trouble with girls after something extreme. The disgust and desire of a repressed housewife beyond breaking point, flares her nostrils in furious approval. Dave's beats tremor and quake with razorblaid intensity, causing commotion to sound like a hall of mirrors fragmenting into split personalities. The effect is vicious and hostile, and yet more exhilirating than Britney stringing a sentence together.

The weightless I've Got A Lover (Back In Japan) filters tranquil synths with Annie's sleek Elvis crooning accessorising her fame with a young Japanese boy one can only imagine she has selected specifically for his lack of speaking English. The cloudy extravagance is wrapped up with thorny guitars crashing into the chorus. Speaking with seducing clarity, 'I was bitter when I met you, I was eloquent with rage' has found a little closure. Her finest Aretha impersonation shows off her pipes even if it's undeniably phoney.

More hacking drums embark upon Do You Want To Break-Up's miraculously determinded separation pitch with statuesque glimmering traces of Grace Jones' I'm Perfect. Risidual synths are rinsed away leaving the scaffolding of Dave's daft drumming architecture to cleverly creak like doors closing or opening.

Annie's icy vocals sting with arctic pathos on Hi-NRG ballad You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart, endorsing love's bankruptcy to 'get it on credit if you need some more'. 'I just want someone to hold' is expressed so humanly her roleplay is undeniable. Nursing yet more wounds, Shame is tinged with the remorse of a materialistic lifestyle.

The seethingly lush post-debauchery masochism of Savage is a pre-Cribs 80s airvent circulating cold and world-weary conclusions. The Aberdeen songstress grimaces 'these are my guns' and despite her lesbian icon status I don't think Annie is the weightlifting type. Her voice could bleach the air such is the narcassictis numbness styfled into hardened regret.

Crazy for cock? Sarcastic I Need A Man went over the heads of many (probably) male critics who dismissed the anthem as 'desperate', further fueling the song's irony. The blood-boiling middle-8 hits home with more than a clenched fist. 'Hey you want me to sing now - is this my turn? Okay - wooooaaaaaaaaaahhhw!' has been paid tribute to by none other than Dana International. A million drag acts just found their big entrance.

Migrating from Mick Jagger's groin to blood-soaked tampax disco, the taut treacle-funk Put The Blame On Me blushes in distress. An uber feminine camp fetale pleads with the willfully flimsy 'why did you close your eyes when I'm the one who's blind?' proving that lyrically it's an aesthetic completely justified. Fflirtatious ebullience.

The rich and lustrous Heaven pleads euphoria. Think Dannii Minogue's Girl meets Donna Summer with some of Kylie's GBI thrown in for seasoning. Sampled by the legendary Curve on their own disco fix of I Feel Love.

Annie's neat Elvis trick is quiffed up again on Wide Eyed Girl, immersing her rythmic strategy into an arena-ready James Brown snare, rousing hers testosterone levels to match the big bad beat.

Deadpan violence vaccuum I Need You: 'some of them want to abuse you, some of them want to be abused' but who is wanting what remains debatable. Starting like some sort of Roxette demo, the cynical arrangement vaporizes her bruises into 'ecastasy' whether it is faked or not. Uncannily evocative.

The near-acapella Brand New Day is candidly perfectionist for the sake of it. When the near-psychedelic chandelier intrumentation catches up to the beats it is a happy, kind relief.

Fanatical and undaunted, Annie dissects domesticity the way Madonna once claimed to dissect sex. Both shared an inexhaustible pleasure during the 80s for exploring their themes, but Savage 23 years on is still a hot fresh masterpeice - to deny it is to be deaf or just lying.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Who You Gonna Call?

No comment on the music (yet), but doesn't Alison Goldfrapp strike a sweetly endearing resemblance to the Marshmallow Man?


Gabriella Cilmi - Ten

I actually had Gabriella Cilmi down as more of a UK size 12, but Ten it is then - I am not particularly bothered. On her breathtaking sophomore spike, Gabs wants it all and gets plenty.

On On A Mission I am not exactly going to argue with her - a low-key affair airbrishing together a grinding bass trigger, jittery Pointer Sisters dance twitches and epic drums on the slalom ride chorus. Just like the hanus rap on Black Jacks by Girls Aloud, Gabriella is tricked into one of Miranda Cooper's delluded soggy tampon chanting crusades whether it was Mirando Cooper behind it or not I still blame the ex Gina G backing dancer for anything wrong in pop (starting and ending with Cheryl Cole of course).

Like a Freemasons remix with less 'poof', disco fodder Hearts Don't Lie shifts into She Wolf Shakira. It's embarassing when young people try and act their age and still sound like their granny - her soul-mamma thing is like a 5 year old walking in their Mother's heals. Lacking a chorus, it's effects galore - shifting gears from her lower register to the falsetto that suggests her balls are being grabbed by Lolleatta Holloway. The dribbling bass is pretty engrossing, as is the singers hurried 'hubba bubba' discretion for sex predictions - I probably like this better than the first description might suggest.

She ignites What If You Knew as her own Sex Is On Fire, with an unassuming chorus swirling glorious synth currents. Gabs laments the embarassing attention from an unwanted admirer into a sublime unselfish utopia. I hate to go there, but it usurps the best feelings of the Sugababes About You Now (that would be the Keisha bits then).

Speed ballad Love Me Cos You Want To is just as euphoric - a fainting Moroder bassline, crestfallen shimmery guitar twinkles and wounded vocals bruise into the melting grooves. 'The rest is up to you' couldn't be more apt, scoring her second perfect song in a row. Imagine the Autumnal 80s pop of Fleetwood Mac circa Tusk soldered onto Depeche Mode penning a Disney tune. Whomever peddles production duties deserves credit for the sumptuous escapism.

Carrying both torch and tune, Defender is a stunning stargazing ballad, sung as if enchanted by a gorgeous ennui. It's a touching lyric: 'remember I am your defender'. Quaking stronger with every chorus, the middle 8 absorbs all one's grief as if she were a true pop missionary as she vows on the first single - who knew she was meaning every word?

I am blown away by Robots - the ability for seemingly every female electro-pop princess going to sing devastatingly beautiful ballads about machines is hypnotic. There is a midtempo pulse, ebs and flowing and a syngeing vocal job. Dribbling synths flow into the 'we can' chorus - 'we see the world through electric windows'. World-weary, startled and singing with stoic intent, this song will soften the blows even for Rihanna. Her vocal is like air conditioning for the ears and soul - a minature disco opera.

Giving me chills, Superhot isn't about to fail - the Antipodean also-was now firmly a contender, she finds herself the 7th single-worthy song out of 7. Overlapping tolerable vocal techniques with borrowing from Moroder and Kylie, the impressive shooting-star synth flashes dazzle to make it her own Light Years, floating into the horizon of either Minogue's vast triangular nostrils.

Chiming bells sell the lumpish Boys as permission for her boy to sleep with his boys - whether she knows he is bissexual is besides the point, that's what you get for dating emo's Gabby (her succintly modern relationship predicament would scare the shit out of Avril Lavigne who still sings as if her emo boy is actually hetro). Aided immeasurably with teetering production squidges, it doesn't chaff nor grate. The steady hooks all shine and it's just a glow to hear this woman sing full stop.

Gabs grabs herself a verse stolen from any other PCD single on Invinsible Girl, the most contrived song here. The production tricks continue to stick so it's hardly a nuissance that it sounds like Rachel Stevens' I Said Never Again (But Here We Are). A bit too much proof that she can sing as well.

The sturdy heart-collapse Glue is a welcome deviation with proper stuck-up velvety ballad strings. It's great to hear the singer stretch her vocal chords a bit, even if the beat amusingly sounds as if one is being spat at (perhaps that's her inner Glaswegian coming through). Grief-stricken and utterly proud, her stupendously croaky voice simulates passion with a velvety flair.

The gospel clamp Let Me Know makes me screw my face up and pray for botox - a duet between Annie Lennox and Beverly Knight about womankind would be less icky and bullimia-inducing. Gabba's torment to sound like Amy Whinehouse could only be suppressed for so long - I hate this one like an ugly biological child. As if things couldn't get any worse, an invisible gang of black people start clapping (one can only assume anyway as I get the distinct whiff on a church choir). Just eugh, if this one becomes a single expect a fiesty rapper employed for shits n' giggles.

Thank heavens ('boy you ain't no') Superman has a clean-cut guitar structure - rinsing away all the techno gimics, Gabs has a gorgeous tone to her voice when she stays clear of her lolita gurning. She's craving 'hands all over me' - but this ain't no Put The Needle On It, it's more suited to her debut which she has bravely turned her back on up until now. A crisp and sultry closer.

Finally, Sweet About Me is shoved on at the end for a last resort selling-point. It's the Twenty Ten dance remix (I'd prefer the orginal and this played one after the other as one track - but nevermind).

Well fuck me with a kitchen knife and clean it afterwards for seconds, I never expected this would be decent nevermind being an absolute bulletproof classic. Gabby denies low standards ourtight, unhinging herself from the MOR pastiche expectations and propells herself into the stratosphere of Kylie's Light Years and Rachel's I Will Be There, but rips her lungs out with undiminished traces of actual singing talent and a uniform of robust sensation and electro-pop take-offs.