Spectacular show last night featuring the following : 

Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster - Love Turns To Hate (Blood and Fire)
Muse - Uprising (The Resistance)

Katie Melua - The Flood
Who - Behind Blue Eyes (Who's Next)
King Blues - Headbutt

Eric Clapton - Wonderful Tonight (Slowhand)

Nat King Cole - Sweet Lorraine 

Russ Ballard - Voices (Russ Ballard)

The Fab Four Freakout : 

Wu Tang Clan Vs. the Beatles - C.R.E.A.M.
Beatles - You Like Me Too Much (Help!)
Beatles - I'm Only Sleeping (Revolver)

Kele Okereke - Tenderoni
Madness - It Must Be Love

Stornoway - Zorbing
Procol Harum - Broken Barricades (Broken Barricades)

Fugative - Crush
Keane - Looking Back (Night Train)

...and this week's top 5 tunes in the UK : 

5). Aggro Santos ft. Kimberly Wyatt - Candy (non-mover)
4). Edward Maya ft. Vika Jigulina - Stereo Love (new)
3). Usher - OMG (-1)
2). Jason DeRulo - Ridin' Solo (new)
1). Roll Deep - Good Times


See, this is what I love about the British charts. You really never know what might happen. 

Who'd have thought Roll Deep would stay at number one for three weeks? And look at the new songs in the top 5 : one is perhaps expected, but the other? It's odd, odd, odd. Let's take a look at all the songs :

Kimberly Wyatt is the highlight in "Candy", the Aggro Santos tune that stays at number 5 for another week. She sings her part as nearly one note : "Ooh-come-and-get-you-some", while synths run rampant around her. Aggro is not of the whiny Grime variety, and has a propensity for breaking into Portuguese, which is charming. The song is processed to the max, but it all works together and becomes irresistable. I'm giving thie song an 8 on the England Swings scale of 1-10.

Now here we go : the oddity of the week surely goes to Edward Maya and Vika Jigulina, who manage to take the decidedly Eastern European flavored "Stereo Love" to number 4. 

With an accordion as the main instrument. 

That's kinda ballsy, and it's ineffably cool. It's run through just enough filters to set off the organic main tune. 

I'm guessing that there's some sort of musical revolution going on in Romania right now, where Maya hails from. First we had Inna earlier this year, and now this piece of sublimity. We're probably only seeing the surface of this, and I'm thinking there will be more to come. 


I'm giving "Stereo Love" an 8.5.

Usher finally slips a place to number three, but that doesn't disguise the fact that this has been one of the biggest British hits of the year. I still think there's a vaguely creepy vibe to Ush nowadays, but the song isn't horrible. It's got killer production. I just wish he wouldn't use the word "boobies" in it. 

Notably, the song has slipped from the top in America as well this week, as the new Eminem track debuts at number one. Usher and Eminem, both heroes from the late 1990s and early 2000s : it's all so last decade. I'd like to see a breakdown of the buyers; I'm thinking that the 20s-to-30s age group is holding both of the performers, undoubtedly reliving their youth.

Usher gets a 6.

Now here's at least a modern performer, as Jason DeRulo ends up with a third huge British hit this year with "Ridin' Solo". Both of his former songs - "Whatcha Say" and "In My Head" have done well in the USA as well, but so far this track is hanging around the lower reaches of the top 40. That may change, but here's the thing : DeRulo is doing a very British kind of R&B, jacked up with techno beats and smooth as butter. That's why he's doing so well there. As for here, I'm thinking that America is finally ready for this kind of stuff. 

The song is catchy and more than competent. The original version actually sampled the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony", but that was an uncleared sample, so it was replaced with bloops and blips in the studio. Both versions are good. I'll give the song a 7.5.

Roll Deep manages to hang on a third week at number one with "Good Times", and I can't quite figure out why. There's not a lot of innovation here; the track is nearly interchangeable with a few dozen other grime crossover hits. I'm still convinced that Tinie Tempah set the bar for truly crossing over with "Pass Out", and now all the rest have a challenge to top it. This song doesn't do it. I give it a 6.

What will next week bring?!


Beach House - Teen Dream

Let me start with background for those of you who haven't managed to run across this astounding album.

Beach House is a duo from Baltimore, Maryland who do what is best described as "Dream Pop". If you're British, think Belle and Sebastian. If American, a reference point might be the Flaming Lips or Galaxie 500. 

The thing is, Beach House have made the definitive album in the genre with "Teen Dream". 

The group consists of French-born Victoria LeGrand and Bawlamer fella Alex Scally. They have voices that perfectly blend, with a similar range, so it's occasionally hard to tell who's singing what. It's like cinnamon and sugar; one flavor complements the other. 

If you have any affinity for this kind of music, I challenge you to listen to the first two tracks on the album and try not to fall in love with it. "Zebra" is fairly simple, pastoral, and effective. "Silver Soul" is liquid and twangy. Both are gorgeous. 

The album continues just as good, if not better. "Norway" is a bit more electronic, anchored by a strong guitar riff and breathy wordless intonations. There's a lovely slowed down woozy effect throughout the song that provides some interesting tension, but it's all brilliantly controlled.

"Walk In the Park" and "Used To Be" are similar; both begin with a distinctive drumbeat and slide into majesty. By the second or third listen to these tunes, you realize that they're growing on you. 

None of this could be called rock, so if that's what you're looking for, perhaps this won't work for you. If you appreciate pop, though - dreamy or otherwise - you'll be richly rewarded. There are a lot of keyboards here, usually with the reverb turned to eleven. 

"Lover Of Mine" is a case in point. Somnolent organs lead into a killer hook, and by the end of the song, crossing vocals add a master touch. These guys. Are. Good. 

"Better Times" continues the swoon. Remember that period of time when Pink Floyd was doing echoey, rarefied stuff like "Obscured By Clouds" and "Meddle"? At times this is similar, but comes across as more complex and organic. 

I could tell you more about the rest of the songs, but I'll leave some of it to your imagination, and hopefully, to your delight when you listen to it. Suffice to say, this is dream pop at its best, absorbing its influences and coming up with something rare and beautiful. 

Having spent time at several beach houses in the state of Maryland, I wish I'd had this to listen to while I was there. 

I give "Teen Dream" a 9.5 on the England Swings scale of 1-10. 

Leave a Reply.