Friday, 20 July 2012

INTERVIEW: Babybird's Stephen Jones reviews the singles



While looking through some old copies of Melody Maker a while ago, one particular regular feature that I enjoyed was the singles review pages. Each week different indie stars were invited to review the week's releases, often making for entertaining and interesting reading. One particular issue featured BabyBird's Stephen Jones reviewing a number of songs, with receiving top marks, and one of Geri Halliwell's hideous singles being named the stinker of the week. 

So 12 years later it is with great pleasure that I introduce very special guest reviewer Stephen Jones, the creative force behind BabyBird and writer of classics such as 'Bad Old Man', 'Back Together', 'Goodnight' and 'Unloveable'. Stephen has recently confirmed that Babybird are no longer active as a band, and is currently working on a new musical project. He is also writing his third novel as well as planning a musical. Mr Jones has very kindly took some time out from doing these things (as well as being weird and hilarious on Twitter) to share his opinions on some of the latest releases...

THE CROOKES - Maybe In The Dark - New single from Sheffield indie types The Crookes. Taken from their second album 'Hold Fast', released this week and funded via fans through PledgeMusic... 

"First off i should say that no one gives a monkeys what i think and so they shouldn't, so on that understanding i can proceed...
Having started off in Sheffield and lived there for 2 years it's nice to see there's more to it than Joe Cocker. I'd better be nice. Well, I like the chorus and the flamenco clapping midway through. A quick cheap video i imagine. Nice black and white. Reminds of Franz Turdinand in it's choppyness." 5/10


THE VACCINES - No Hope - The first taster from 'The Vaccines Come Of Age', the second and hotly anticipated album from one of the very few successful new guitar bands of the last few years... 

"Its alright, but what's with the cut-off denim ? Big change from the first album. Watched them at a festival and the guitarist looked like a Barbie Ken cliche. He looks like a stockbroker from 'American Psycho'. Hope it's deliberate. The song's OK. But it's not 'Post Breakup Sex', which was wonderful. Makes me mourn for The Strokes - album one and 'Reptilia'. The Vaccines are just one of those bands you can feel that have the record company all over them and dripping out of the songs. Sorry." 5/10


JIMMY CLIFF - One More - The reggae legend returns with 'Rebirth', an album produced by Rancid's Tim Armstrong... 

"No idea what to say about this, or how to score it. It feels very commercialised. I'm more prone towards Trojan (not the condoms), The Ethiopians, The Specials and Barrington Levy ('Money Move' is a great song). I eagerly await Vanilla Ice's crossover reggae funk fusion album, with Jedward on the steel drums, tied up and covered in honey and fire ants..." 5/10


THE KING BLUES - Wasted Words - They began life as a ska-punk band with a fondness for dub reggae, but gradually morphed into some sort of hip hop/rock crossover. A few months ago they announced they were splitting up. This new single is taken from their fourth album 'Long Live The Struggle', which has just been released and is the band's final album...

"Oucho. At first i thought 100 out of 10 but then I rounded it off to 0, so i left it. Don't people like this stumble across these reviews then vow to hunt you down and kill you? Ah well.
Did Brian Harvey's East 17 and So Solid die for nothing? Innit. That singer's look reminds me of those hats JoBoxers and Haircut 100 used to wear. It's the Querelle down by the docks look. Quite Topman as well." 0/10 



BOBBY WOMACK - The Bravest Man In The Universe - The 'last soul man' has returned with his first album in 18 years. It's a great piece of work too, produced by Damon Albarn and Richard Russell of XL Records. Here is the sparse, confessional title track...

"I met Damon Albarn once. He had a massive head and he told me not to wear my 'chart music' glasses. He said "you are being too clever for pop music". He was right. For me this track doesn't gel, voice and music clash, unlike, for example 'Spartacus' by Terry Callier/Zero 7 which does. One of my favourite all time songs is 'Harry Hippie' by Bobby Womack, as is 'Across 110th St'. Wonderful, but this feels like a project." 5/10 


JAKE BUGG - Taste It - Hotly tipped new talent from Nottingham. His last single 'Lightning Bolt' received plenty of airplay on 6Music, XFM and even Radio One (although his appearances were mainly confined to Zane Lowe's piss-awful evening show) and now he releases another single taken from his self-titled debut album due for release in October...
  
"Fucking crap thats scary. Right lets make a music cake. Put in Alex Turner, Oasis, in fact all bands with moptop haircuts, stick them in there. He's a record companies desperate wet dream. I wonder how many back-handers were used in getting this on the radio? Bankers, politicians, radio stations all work the same way operating above the law. I'll shut up now..." 5/10 


CHELSEA LIGHT MOVING - Burroughs - So Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon have separated after many years of marriage, casting doubts over the future of this influential band. So with Sonic Youth on hiatus it's good to see that Thurston is keeping himself busy with a new band. 'Burroughs' is their first single and is out now on Matador Records... 

"Great to see the video, just to watch William Burroughs. 'Junkie' is a wonderful book. This is a silly song banged out in an afternoon i guess. There's shitloads of this stuff everywhere. It's not Godspeed You Black Emperor is it? I could leave it or leave it. Do some washing up instead. Sonic Youth - bit overrated." 5/10 


MUSE - Survival - You've probably heard this one already. It will impossible to avoid over the coming weeks, since it has been chosen as the official anthem of the London 2012 Olympics. It's big, loud, dramatic and very pompous indeed. What do you think Mr Jones?

"Its been said a thousand times before but it's Queen rehashed. When i've been in America Muse are on every station, so the theory that 99% of the public there are stupid is correct. I was in a cafe in North London a while back and Bellendamy and Kate Hudson came in with her kid and they seemed very nice and quiet. You half expect his Freddie Mercury pants to explode and for him to jump on the table and finger fuck his axe, but no. Quite disappointing. The government should put Muse on top of East End highrises and play - that would scare the shit out of terrorists..." Minus 0/10


LEVELLERS - After The Hurricane - Yes they're still going after many years, and remain a hugely popular live act. This new single is the second to be taken from their new album 'Static On The Airwaves' and was written about 2005's devastatingly destructive Hurricane Katrina... 

"In the video, I love the typewriter and 'Day Of The Dead' dolls but then you realise a crusty is typing, so I kind of switch off. Then it goes a bit whirlygig and i fall off my chair. Now I need to go up stairs to get a plaster, so i miss the end. What happens to the soap dodger? I can't bear it. If anyone knows please write in. I'm guessing that after the hurricane there's a massive clean-up operation and people try to get on with their lives. So that's quite positive." 5/10 


THE VIEW - How Long - New single from indie popsters The View, attempting to revive their fortunes following a bit of a career decline. Now on their fourth album entitled 'Cheeky For A Reason'. The album is out this week on Cooking Vinyl... 

"They are cheeky little scamps aren't they? But when i listen to song and look at the static photo advertising their new album on YouTube there's no cheeks, just a ladies pair of leopard skin pants. Wouldn't it have been better if she'd turned round for the photo? Surely? It's definitely a song. Not sure what sort. At first i thought Rain by the Beatles, then i thought don't be ridiculous. When i see The View i always think of Hannibal Lecter. Maybe this is more suited to the likes of serial killers than me. They're locked away, and they need a view or indeed The View more than i do. Mental. 5/10 

ALBUMS: Stephen has also recommended some albums that he has been listening to recently...


Saeen Zahoor Ahmed - 'The Best of Saeen Zahoor Ahmed' - "He is a peasant Sufi singer. Without sounding like a ponce, I can understand the meaning of music that induces spirituality. I don't like religion, so it's interesting, listening to its meditative effect . I love hypnotic trance like Tinawaren etc.
Trawling through all the shit on YouTube then finding this makes it worth it." 10/10 

Hammock - 'Chasing After Shadows' - "Big epic mostly instrumentals in the vein of 'Explosions In The Sky'." 10/10 

Anything by Olafur Arnalds - 10/10 

The last BabyBird album 'The Pleasures Of Self Destruction' is available HERE and you can buy a copy of Stephen's latest book 'Amplified Silence' by contacting him at his Twitter page HERE.


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