Friday, 20 May 2011

Three songs - The good, bad and seriously OTT

Three songs to mention today.

DJ Fresh Ft. Sian Evans "Louder"
Right, nothing from Kosheen yet – the two guys are obviously busy on their Techno/House stuff – but Sian has managed, along with DJ Fresh, to make a song that actually makes me appreciate what Dubstep is for. “Louder”, which annoyingly I can't actually buy until July, is more powerful than the arrival on Earth of a thousand dragons and absolutely kicks arse.  The radio edit can be heard in crappy YouTube compress-o-scope here. I want this song. Also I want the D'n'B version. With any luck Kosheen will be returning to D'n'B at some point, because they're the reason I got into the genre in the first place, and Sian's voice suits this sort of thing perfectly.


Magnetic Man "Anthemic"
Magnetic Man's album is ok so far, and nothing on it sticks out as horrible, but this song deserves a special mention.  It's ok, you could not fault it for being offensive to the ears like some dubstep, but it's just so boring. Unlike the aforementioned "Louder", in which the fairly simplistic music is carried to new heights by the vocals, this instrumental is forced to stand up on its own merits, and fails to. On the album it follows two much better songs, "Fire" and "I Need Air" - both vocal songs - and as such it just feels like a bit of an interlude. There are three main elements to this track, the ploddy wub-wub baseline, the trancey synth stabs, and the digital-sounding eighties chords. All of these elements are useful in their own right, but when all used together it sounds like a bit of a contrivance. The actual melodies present are pretty simplistic too, nothing much happening at all. Hey, this is an album track, maybe I'm right in thinking it's just an interlude, but this is the sort of thinking that makes for iffy dance albums, like the many I've owned (and couldn't be bothered to replace) over the years : a great album really shouldn't have limp bits. Stylistic changes, yes, but not glaring weak spots. These three guys will be at risk of falling into the traps of artists from former hot new genres of ages past who couldn't outlive the hype if they do this sort of thing. I'll review the entire disc when I've reached the end, so I'll see if I think they're going the way of Wookie or *gulp* Artful Dodger.

Lady Gaga "Judas"
Ok, I can't make up my mind about this one. I'm still looking forward to hearing her new album, but this has confused me a bit. What does it do right? Well, Gaga and RedOne once again have managed to put together a fairly catchy song, with an interesting sound that avoids the generic flaccid pop feel, and a big chorus. They've proven that they're good at this, and RedOne is clearly the best of the Gaga's collaborators throughout her still short career at defining her signature sound and turning it into big pots of money. However, this doesn't come anywhere near "Bad Romance" or "Alejandro" in terms of appeal. The two of them have been so excited by shoe-horning elements of electro-house, bassline house and dubstep into the song (which to be fair does work really well) that they've forgotten to write a half-decent song to go with it. I'm not claiming that her earlier songs are lyrical masterpieces but there's something to the lyrics as well as the music which makes them catchy. Here, the chorus partially succeeds here, but the rest of it doesn't. In fact, the tonal shift from the monotone verses to the glissando-filled and stuttered prechoruses, and even more so to the big catchy upbeat choruses, should build up to an epic climax but it just flops - the chorus instead takes you by surprise. Why does the chorus sound like it lives in 1980's America or 1990's Sweden when the rest of the song is trying so damn hard to be modern? Yes, it's well produced, but it's not a great song. I have a feeling that I'm going to warm to this, because Gaga and RedOne's songs are the stand outs from both of her albums while most of her other songs have not lasted well, yet it starts from a pretty low base. Also - and I'm not sure if YouTube or VEVO are responsible for this - the song's dynamic range is absolutely bugger all. It's not painful to listen to like some tracks and there's definitely no clipping, so good job there, but there's no dynamic shifting at all and this is a big contributing factor to the song's failure to peak in the chorus. Obviously you can't judge this sort of thing from the mastering on the music video even if it's not on YouTube in lovely compressed Flash video format, but I hope the album's not like that or it's going to be blandness city. "Born this Way" certainly didn't feel this lifeless - there's still hope.

Not quite enough to make up for the silence, you say? I guess not. Enough about that wub-wub-wub music? Yeah, probably, I'll keep that quiet for a few posts or so. 

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