Category: Reviews - England Swings - The BEST music from the UK
Playlist, Top 5, and Album Review : April 26, 2010Aww, crud. Lost the whole blog when I did the wrong sort of click. So I'll summarize.

Here's the playilst from last night's show : 

Bullet For My Valentine - The Last Fight (Fever)
These New Puritans - Attack Music (Hidden)

Stranglers - No More Heroes (No More Heroes)

Fenech Soler - Stop and Stare

Ting Tings - We Walk (We Started Nothing)
Marina & the Diamonds - I Am Not a Robot (The Family Jewels)

Jeff Beck Group - Rice Pudding (Beck-Ola)

The Fab Four Freakout : 

Beatles - Cry For a Shadow
Beatles - Blackbird (The Beatles)
Beatles - I've Just Seen a Face (Help!)

Foals - This Orient
Biffy Clyro - Bubbles (Only Revolutions)

Crazy World Of Arthur Brown - Fire

Rolling Stones - Plundered My Soul

Inna - Hot
Alma Cogan - Dreamboat

...and this week's top 5 in England : 

5). Scouting For Girls - This Ain't a Love Song (-3)
4). Plan B - She Said (non-mover)
3). Chipmunk ft. Esmee Denters - Until You Were Gone (new)
2). Usher - OMG (-1)
1). Diana Vickers - Once (new0


I was about halfway through this when the dreaded wrong click happened. I'll summarize the first three : 

Scouting For Girls - Still a strong song, even all these weeks in. It's an 8 on the England Swings scale of 1-10.

Plan B - more infectious as time goes by. 8.5

Chipmunk - Okay, Esmee is good. Chippy sounds like Tinchy sounds like Chippy. Not adding to the international advancement of mainstream grime. Bleah. 6.

Usher drops from the number one slot to 2 this week with "OMG". I've got a kind of bell curve going here with the song. I didn't much like it, then I liked it, now I'm on the downslope. Two things that are cool : The stadium-crowd background vocals, and the slippery sliding strings. It gets a 7.

Oh, Diana! Fourth-place X Factor contestant Diana Vickers scores a bullseye the first time out with "Once" coming in at number 1. Seeing as she's a mere 18 years old, I'm guessing that she lucked out with good production and a fair song. It's a kinda bloopy techno thing that goes on, until the Kelly Clarkson guitars crash in, and the song becomes a scream-along anthem. Diana's vocals are sweet and liquid, sounding like Alanis Morrissette one moment, and Ellie Goulding the next. It's not a bad song at all, but I have my doubts as to what Diana actually had to do with it. I'll go with a 7.5.


Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame

Some background, because I'm guessing that most readers won't be terribly familiar with this particular dog : 

Dr. Dog is a five-piece band from Philadelphia. They came together in 1999, and have released five albums before this latest. They had been pegged in the past as a band which paid homage to the 1960s, including the Beatles and the Beach Boys. There was a heavy taint of psychedelia there, also, and most of the time it was enough to keep them out of the mainstream. They've developed a cult following over the years, which has become more prominent in the last few years.

The Dog is ready to step out of the shadows and into the limelight. Step forward, Dr. Dog!

"Shame, Shame" is a lunge for the mainstream, and - whether purposeful or not - the group's accessibility has increased by leaps with this release. At times, this new record sounds like an American Kooks with a bit more LSD added. 

Opening track "Stranger" is bright and poppy. We've got those Beach Boys harmonies going right away, and the song is anchored by a double snare beat that holds the whole thing together. Imagine a cross between pop and indie, paying tribute to the past but decidedly in the present. 

First single "Shadow People" is a bit reminiscent of Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush", but, y'know, happy. We've got some country slide, some strummed acoustic, and a bouncy chorus. It's all a bit stoned, but that adds to the charm.

The references to the band's heroes continue to abound : "Jackie Wants a Black Eye" has a tinge of the Beatles' "Your Mother Should Know" to it. "Station" is a buzzed-out country rock tune. "Where'd All the Time Go" has (it HAS to be on purpose) a megaphone-echo beginning that sounds like the Monkee's "Tapioca Tundra", which - contrary to all reason - is one of my favorite PreFab Four tracks. 

Nearly every track on the album is pleasantly listenable. There are a lot of moods that the group covers : "Unbearable Why" is staccato and mellow at the same time, and "Later" is indie-pop personified while being a little silly. "Someday" has wind-tunnel drones, Leslie filtered vocals, and a hooked chorus that begins to stick in your head around the third listening. 

The title track is one of the best tracks : "Shame, Shame" is laconic and wry, with more slide guitars. It finally changes into a rocker with heartfelt vocals before slipping back into the lazy drift of its initial tune. 

This Dog has a bark and a bite. I'm giving it an 8.5 on the England Swings scale of 1-10.