The Kills – Last Goodbye
Ten years into their existence, The Kills have unplugged the buzzsaw guitars and turned instead to hypnotic, break up ballad piano. Alison Mossheart delivers Last Goodbye with the bitter rasp of a rock n roll Edith Piaf, and maye, just maybe she’s talking about the band itself when she sings “I can’t rely on a dime a day love that don’t go anywhere.” Whatever the case, this is a simple, classic piece of songwriting- bare, heartfelt and true.
Pixie Lott – Kiss the Stars
Really fucking bad. I know, I know it’s a pop song, it’s not meant to be The Mars Volta or anything, but this sounds like someone covering a Venga Boys B side in a Margate fun pub. The video is horrible, the bass line is horrible, but for my money the nastiest, crassest element of a song packed with nasty, crass elements is the bit where Pixie ‘sings’ “put your plug in my socket and give me your power// when you turn me on I can go for hours” like some gruesome Duracell powered latex bangbot. Pop deserves better than this cynical tuneless shite, and I hope whoever produced it gets fired, now, permanently.
Metallica – Beyond Magnetic EP
Having alienated 97.45% of their fanbase with the widely panned Lulu project, Metallica have got some serious catch up to do to win back hearts and minds before their forthcoming world tour. This EP represents a step in the right direction. The four songs on Beyond Magnetic were outtakes from the Death Magnetic album, originally released as one offs to celebrate the bands 30th anniversary. Now bundled as a four track package they represent a return to the head banging vicious riffing Metallica of Master of Puppets. Well, OK, not that level, but if you can put aside your prejudices – and for some reason Metallica fans have got to be amongst the toughest to please- Beyond Magnetic is pretty good. Hetfield’s voice is maybe sounding a lil knackered, but the guitars properly shred, and all four tracks are built around bolshy menace filled monster riffs. Apparently they didn’t bother taking these tracks through the complete mastering process, but if anything a little grizzle round the edges is welcome. What they could have used is a touch of editing- do all four tracks really need to weigh in at more than 6 minutes..? Still, minor quibbles aside this is the best material from the biggest metal band in the world for quite some time, and certainly deserving of attention.
Cloud Nothings – Stay Useless
Much has been made of Cloud Nothings taking on a harder thrash edge under the steely gaze of Steve ‘In Utero’ Albini, but really the new single from the band sounds pretty much like the older material, only recorded better. Considering the first set of Cloud Nothings tracks were recorded in a basement on a home computer, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. It would have been wilful, reductive lo-fi-ness for Albini to have maintained the same bit crushed vocals that made Hey! Cool Kid a minor internet sensation, and Stay Useless feels like a natural progression.
There’s still the same ramshackle college rock whine to Dylan Baldi’s vocals – think classic Green Day – and he’s not moved on from slightly predictable slacker concerns- ‘I need time to stay useless’ goes the nasal chorus. Luckily Baldi also has a great way with a chiming punky riff, and his guitar work carries the song above banality into indie disco anthem territory. Really, there’s only so long he can mine this I’m-such-a-loser buzz without it turning into a parody, but until that time, this is fine music for high school drop outs of whatever age.