Franz Ferdinand, Beady Eye, Blue
Blue – ‘I Can’
Ah, Eurovision. That annual atrocity of laser-white teeth and tactical voting that so revels in strapping music to a seatless chair, drilling out its eyeballs with cheesy Balearic pop choruses, burning off its fingernails with the oxyacetylene torch of whining Turkish torch-song balladry and whipping its gonads into a bloody, pulverised mulch with the flailing bows of novelty flying violinists.
Into the fray this year step Blue, certain that their place at the top table of UK pop will be regained forever by an appearance at Eurovision – hey, it worked so well for Sonia and Katrina & The Waves, right?
Okay, so they can’t be any worse than last year’s entry Josh, whose performance emerging from a large white box would’ve been immeasurably improved if someone had come on at the start with a large sheet of plasterboard and nailed him into it, but really lads, take your air-punching, chorus-honking, auto-tuned, piss-poor pap and fuck off back to the mimed PAs in Deptford, huh? Because surely our best chance this year would’ve been Wills’n’Kate – performing, perhaps, as Kill.I.Am – doing a knees-up grime cover of ‘Get Me To The Church On Time’.
Franz Ferdinand – ‘Covers’ EP
Twists within twists. This five-track Record Store Day release (now getting the full and proper release it deserves) in which Franz Ferdinand have compiled other acts’ covers of their songs, features the magnificent Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields – a man who has himself compiled two albums of indie luminaries singing his songs as The 6ths, whose ‘Book Of Love’ was covered by Peter Gabriel as part of his cap-doffing ‘Scratch My Back’ project and who covered Gabriel’s ‘Not One Of Us’ in a Kreftwerk-shagging-Munchkins style in return.
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Backslapocalypse! Merritt’s similarly cranky industrial take on ‘Dream Again’ is a highlight of FF’s EP, alongside LCD Soundsystem’s seven-minute ketamine-warped jazztronic funk-out through ‘Live Alone’ and Peaches giving ‘Turn It On’ the full Berlin bunker rave treatment.
Less memorable are ESG’s unsurprisingly faithful go at ‘What She Came For’ (if it’d been sung by Zelda from Terrorhawks) and Franz themselves wheeling a frail-sounding Debbie Harry through ‘Live Alone’, but the whole thing is an inventive experiment nonetheless. Just don’t get any ideas, The Script.
Chase & Status feat. Delilah – ‘Time’
Like Shaun Williamson singing and chest waxing, sometimes two unpleasant elements can combine into a rather rewarding experience. So it is with the souped-up boy-racer beats of Chase & Status and the Adele-ish warble of Delilah.
Individually, they’re just cause for enforced chemical castration but, in some twist of cosmic balance that only Brian Cox could grasp, each seems to counteract the cheese and mawkishness of the other to produce a chart dance hit with a modicum of humanity and heart. Whatever next, a heartwarming episode of Campus?
Marianne Faithful – ‘No Reason’
Sounds like someone’s still partying hard down the Villa Nellcote. As if the hangers-on were dragging out the sessions for ‘Exile On Main Street’ forty years past the last Cease & Desist notice, Marianne Faithful’s dragging us through some classic blues boogie that means well but can’t muster the Stones’ spark.
Beady Eye – ‘Millionaire’
Good to hear the Cast reunion’s gathering steam… sorry? It’s who? Christ! Then I’m actually impressed – there’s a liveliness and brightness to this that suggests Liam’s inner light has been doused by his brother’s thundercloud guitars all these years. Tasty.
Smith Westerns – ‘Weekend’
Don’t fear the fuzz, children. Many a tepid Beach Boys rip-off has been rendered an immaculate no-fi miracle just by recording it in a binful of bees. Not least by Smith Westerns, whose fuzztastic first releases sounded so much lamer and ordinary when they came over and played them, live and virtually buzzless, to crowds expecting to have their heads sonically excavated by guitars made out of strimmers.
A bit of a mid-point, ‘Weekend’ eases us gradually out of the tinnitus fug, exposing SW’s melodic foundations beneath a thin sprinkle of hiss. It’s great, but let’s hope they stop right here before someone mentions the dreaded words ‘Mark Ronson’.
In Fear Of Olive – ‘All We Can Do Is Wonder’ EP
Take to the bunkers! Batten the hatches! Fight to the death over the last tin of Waitrose baked beans! Doncaster has just conducted a test explosion of its first thermo-folkular device in the form of In Fear Of Olive, who might make a reasonably moving folk strumble on ‘Led Me Astray’, but whose ‘I’m Sure They’ll Fall’ is terrifying proof that the Mumford army of waistcoated agri-folk yokels are coming, and they’re here to rape our children and plough our charts to ruin.
To laugh through our torment though, check out this video – where the bassist’s lip piercings clearly belie the fact that they were probably an emo band until last Tuesday, and the singer strains out his vocals as if shitting a watermelon.