Reviews - Week 33


Carina Round

Into My Blood

Yes, that's the word, intriguing.

I've seen Carina's name before - footing the bill at the Birmingham Songwriter's Festival, the odd breathless review on the internet - but I've never encountered her properly. As first dates go, this wasn't bad at all.

This single comes out ahead of 'The Disconnection', Carina's second album, released later this month. It may be too offbeat to catapult her to mainstream success, which is a shame because its really rather fine.

'Into My Blood' begins like so many rock songs - a guitar and Carina's voice, cool, insouciant, echoing Patti Smith or Chrissie Hynde - but then it builds - the guitar picks up, in come the drums and the peculiar background noises and off goes Carina's voice - somewhere else. The guitars screech and she wails: 'I wait all my life just for the rush/ The passing of fire into my blood'. The whole thing soars into the air around you, and you can't help but stop to look as it heads for the sky.

'Hookah' is less fascinating, despite being a song about opium-induced hallucinations. The slow drums and trumpet accompany Carina as she sings like Suzanne Vega - 'I am the Digger Of Eyes. Let me in'. Not your usual chat-up line, or your typical song.. but for all its eccentric charm its the weakest track here.

'Body Shaped Bruise' is a different proposition again. A sprawling, jazz-influenced number, with echoes of Moloko - this wiggles itself around your brain and before long you're gyrating your arse - slowly, in time. Then, in come the ghostly whistles and distorted voices in the background. These, and the slow clattering cymbals create a discordant, unsettling end to the whole affair. I think that's a man screaming 'Jesus' and a woman sobbing at the end.

There isn't a definitive sense of what Carina is about here, but the overall impression is of an artist original enough to be interesting, passionate enough to hold the attention and talented enough to be successful.

If the album is anything like this, she deserves to make that breakthrough. I'll have to get myself a copy.

Like I said, then, intriguing...


The Kills

Pull A U

'The Kills have been wowing and unsettling audiences in equal measures over the last 12 months'

So says the publicity, and its not too hard to see why. 'Pull A U' is a straightforward rock tune: the female vocalist sounds cool, the guitars evoke Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love' and the lyrics refer to familiar rock images - black magic and fast cars. It clocks in at just over three minutes and its not bad, but not ecstasy-inducing.
The stand-out track here is 'The Search For Cherry Red'. That's the sound of a police helicopter or a car engine over the guitar, whilt the lyrics tell of the search for a lost brother - 'In every car that passes me on the street, I search for a particular face'... The 'cherry red' of the title refers, I think, to the colour of the lost brother's lipstick. There's an unexpected twist, then. Together with this, the guitar creeps along, sneakily infectious, insinuating itself into your mind. If you aren't tapping at least one part of your body at the end of this, I reckon you're as far gone as the subject of the song.

Yeah, they're cool. Yeah, some of it is hype. But Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, its not completely unjustified. I'd need to hear more to be wowed, but I'm definitely unsettled.


The Fiery Furnaces

Rough Trade

Don't Dance Her Down

What a strange delight this is.
'Don't Dance Her Down' opens with a disco-tinged electronic refrain, but this swiftly vanishes underneath piano and guitars as the track takes in blues, rock and pop influences and then, abruptly, cuts out to a piano solo after two minutes.
Just as suddenly, it comes back: 'Don't dance her down boys, her man's in town'. If this doesn't really mean anything, it doesn't matter. Really, it doesn't.

If you're looking for more sensible subject matter from the next couple of tracks, you're going to be disappointed but please, please don't let that put you off. 'Asthma Attack' ('I would have had an asthma attack, if I'd seen the shark bite back') is enjoyable if not outstanding blues-influenced pop. 'My Dog Was Lost But Now He's Found' ('nuff said..) is rock, blues and gospel combined and its about...err...looking for a lost dog and finding him at...well, I won't give away the end, but Jesus Is The Way, it seems.
Oh, and its great. Really. 'Up In The North' is about...well, being sang to, from what I can tell. Not quite so glorious, but still not at all bad.

I don't know what to call them, you'll notice I've name-checked a few genres, but none of them say it on their own. Its some bizarre, uplifting, entertaining combination of them all.
No musical comparisons spring to mind - they're just not like anyone else around right now. Perhaps - if I had to - the strangeness and the fusion of musical styles might warrant a comparison to Sparks. Certainly, the title track, in its own way, has all the originality and uniqueness of 'This Town Aint Big Enough For The Both Of Us', complete with its own array of elephants and tacky tigers.

It won't make any more sense with repeated plays but, hey, why would you want it to? The weirdness is part of the charm - and there's plenty of both.

'Don't dance her down boys, her man's in town'. Don't worry, I wouldn't dream of it. I don't think I've ever danced anyone down in my life (although how can one tell?).

Now, I'll have some of whatever you're on, please.

Ian Anscombe



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