Okay, I know, alright? Yes, this was meant to be a weekly newsletter, tut, tut and all that. This has been one hell of a trying month; the kind of month that has me unwittingly trying to don two pairs of glasses at the same time whilst staring vacantly at online job-sites for non-existent ‘creative writer’ job vacancies, through the smeared screen of my overheating laptop. Selling words, anyone buying?
Anyway, on the Mr. Brightside, voila newsletter numéro deux, (you can read vol1 here), which we’ll fire up with word that The Killers have nailed the coveted title of most-streamed song of the 2000s. Of all the tracks released within the period 2000/2009 inclusive, Mr. Brightside ratcheted 26 million streams in 2016 alone, 9 million ahead of its nearest rival (from the ’90s), Mariah Carey‘s All I Want Is Christmas.
Released in 2004, the song has been by far The Killer’s most popular track, and eagle eyed readers among you will notice that their accompanying video has notched up more than 217 million views, a staggering 191 million more plays than its digital counterpart.
Worth USD$150,000 in 2016 royalties alone the song has proved to be a solid earner for the band, although that figure pales in comparison with that earned by Drake whose song One Dance, the most-streamed song overall, banked him a cool USD$800k+ in exchange for a whopping 141 million streams! Nice work if you can get it.
THE GOOD, THE GREAT, AND THE BLOODY BRILLIANT!
“William by the windowsill was longing for the big blue pill that will make it go away”
Baltimore born Sophia Kennedy has spent the past few years cutting her songwriting teeth at the heart of Hamburg’s eclectic music scene. A former film student, her involvement with various music projects in addition to her own solo work, has helped Kennedy to form the niche artist/industry network that resulted in her releasing her Mense Reents co-produced debut album through Pampa Records. A label normally associated with German techno, it’s run by “weird guy” Markus Fink and hip hop deck manipulator DJ Koze.
It’s probably fair to say that Sophia Kennedy has a female voice unlike any I’ve heard before, with the possible exception of Alison Moyet. That voice, which can dig lower than a shovel, can similarly sweep its legs above its own head. In fact Kennedy’s eponymous album possibly hosts the most 3D vocal performance I’ve ever come across.
Lyrically, her imagery and vernacular are cut so precisely and tailored so sharply as to leave no cloth to spare on this perfect form-fitting creation. The central themes are of home, anxiety and loneliness, yet the overall effect is one of elation and animation. There are a myriad ingredients in the mix – Afro beats, groovy bass, Jools Holland style attention-seeking jazz piano, chant, vocal harmony and orchestral electronica. Kimono Hill is a particularly choice cut if you’re looking for a sample taster.
“There’s nothing that I’d rather like to do, than stick my head into the gutter of the roof and whistle all the saddest tunes I couldn’t stand before but now I yearn for more”
However, if I was to do any ‘comparing’ I would say this. My honest, first reaction to this album was, in two words. Victoria Wood. Life keenly observed and conveyed through dynamic witticisms and razor sharp satire set against an animated backdrop of colourful, idiosyncratic soundscapes. DerVerdict – BUY BUY BUY!
Rumour has it that Frida Sundemo is close to releasing her debut album and the recent flurries of activity coming from the Swede would appear to suggest as much. Following on from her last single We Are Dreamers is the very melodramatic It’s OK.
The track opens on such a sombre and grandiose orchestral scale that one could almost be forgiven for thinking this was the theme to some widescreen film adaptation of a Booker prize winning novel. Sedate strings tenderly wrap themselves around Sundemo’s china-light vocal and together they float through an elegant, electro-classical soundscape that builds to a deliciously evocative blaze. DerVerdict – OMG YES!
A band who are fast approaching the top of their game, Picture This have carved out a deep and comfy niche for themselves in the emosh-easy rock department. You know, the type that used to involve lighters, scorched thumbs and arm fatigue (back in the good old days when people conversed and had a bit of interactive human fun) but these days it’s all about waving your latest Samsung Node X til your battery conks out.
The band have just kicked off their sold out UK&I tour (any room for a little ‘un lads?) so while they spend their mid-May days in transit across England’s green and pleasant lands, new single Let’s Be Young has dropped into the universe and it’s a diamond. With all the ingredients for ‘Youth Anthem 2017’ (if the youth of today are anything the youth of my past) this is a call to action to live life and enjoy.
But it’s not without its bittersweet tang – misspent youth, broken dreams, getting drunk to forget the hopelessness of … ? Ireland is still dragging itself through the remnants of recession and Let’s Be Young represents a slice of the no-hoper pie which has been apportioned to our so-called Gen Snowflake! DerVerdict – Hell Yeah.
“Oh, it’s easy to be free, if you really want to be … Let’s go out and leave our phones at home, for tonight”
RAPID ROUND UP!
HEY HEY HEY !!! 1Der Liam ‘Chezza’ Payne has confirmed that fatherhood is his greatest achievement. Just as well cos his hot-drop solo debut, Strip That Down most certainly ain’t! A bit Craig David lite, it’s not bad as 1D solo debuts go. Featuring growing hip hop influencer Quavo, it’s a fun size, mini-me Trousersnake-track which the Payne co-wrote with Ed Sheeran (sounds like, yes?). At least that’s what this reviewer hears.
Natty little easy on the ear rap mid-centre, catchy hooks, good infectious beat, attention grabbing finger clicks, dreamy ‘come love me I’m the nice guy’ vocals – it’s decent hip-hop-pop that will neither set the world ablaze nor reduce it to an ash pit.
Be that as it may, it’s still a helluva lot better than the Harry Styles offering.
Dublin-based quartet, Come On Live Long have just released a new album, In the Still and The Irish Times like it … so if it’s good enough for them etc. ‘At the time of going to print’ as they say, the album isn’t on Spotify and as I’m not on their PR’s mailing list (hint hint) I can only offer an opinion on the title track.
Meditative, transcendent, mindful, peaceful, gentle and captivating. A gentle flow comprising slow-hand bass, ripples of keys and flecks of percussion adorned with a dreamy vocal … that’s before the twist. Check it out. It’s clever, VERY.
Meanwhile, Irish legend Mary Black was feted on this week’s Late Late Show … anyone who hasn’t heard the perfection that is her voice, lie in blissful ignorance no more. Mary is currently on tour and anyone wishing to see her live, should check out her FB page.
And finally, I’m getting around to featuring a band I’ve been promising to write about for er, months! The Trusted, a four-piece from Southend (where all credit cards used to be embossed – useless trivia!) – visuals for their track Good to Bad here.
With a shady bassline at its heart, this plain-speaking (if a little one-sided) observation of the seedier side of life is a meld of raw and polished as the band cleverly juxtapose grizzly guitar and urgent drumming with lead man Tom’s rather dreamy and seductive vocal.
Conversely, latest single Sunlight is everything Good to Bad is not, and would be this reviewer’s preferred choice of the two. Leaning heavily on a gorgeous slide motif, this laid-back, sensual instrumental is interspersed with gently nuanced piano notes played with the lightest of touches, and some particularly strong guitar sequences.
Like a blurry montage where the picture moves in and out of focus, Sunlight dazzles and soothes in equal measure. Throughout, Tom’s soporific vocal blows through the song’s golden rays like a warm mellow breeze. This is the track I have been hoping, waiting, and praying for from The Trusted and boy does it deliver!
I won’t labour the point. Chris Cornell died this week at the young age of 52. Former frontman of American rock band Soundgarden, he was the voice behind such huge hits as Black Hole Sun. I’ve chosen this acoustic version as a mark of respect for his amazing talent. #RIP.
GOOD NEWS STORY OF THE WEEK
One of the best young rock bands to scorch their way onto the airwaves, Irish four-piece Otherkin (you can read up on them here) have dropped a BOMB (without the shell) ahead of their upcoming UK tour which kicks off on Monday 22nd May at Stealth, Nottingham (and oh look @Dayflower, they’re playing The Cookie on 24th! Go Go!). Tour details here.
Otherkin are fast going from strength to strength, taking their sound up a level track on track. Latest and so far greatest, Enabler is classic American rock replete with gravel shot Cobain-esque vocals and stringent ass-kickin’ guitar lines. Woven out of poker-hot strands lifted straight from the fires of hell, Enabler has Green Day top notes with Nirvana grit and spit from its heart right down to the belly of its bass notes.
This is the type of track that if you listened too loud for too long your skin would start to blister – it is that ear-splittingly, heart-rippingly good.
I actually can’t stress enough how F**kin good this band is … miss the ‘back-to-real-rock’ zeitgeist at your peril, but don’t say you weren’t warned. Otherkin – FB – here/now.
Check out our newest Voyage of Discovery Playlist – Do help a small blog out and give us a follow on Spotify and Facebook – it’s nice to be nice! 🙂 . Oh and PS – check out my YT channel – where you can view me losing my video virginity. All 4 minutes of poorly shot, ad libbed, really crappy visual – unfiltered, unedited honesty!