If you are still not feeling Christmas at this point you may as well give up and, well, 10 Rapid just might help you forget all about the festivities. Following up on the rather infectious single 'Minor Riot' that we covered earlier this year comes 10 Rapid's new track 'It's Not Right'.
And it's a boisterous affair. If 'Minor Riot' reminded BlackPlastic of Justice then this latest track is Boys Noize, which is to say it's harder and totally uncompromising. Its five-and-a-half-minute length is a harsh lesson in wobbly basslines and tweaking acid but it certainly does the job and would get the floor moving. It lacks the defining structure that makes some of 10 Rapid's contemporaries, or even previous single 'Minor Riot', as ideal for home listening as dancefloor fodder but it is certainly likely to get a dancefloor moving.
Pollyn's follow-up to debut single 'Give It Up' (which BlackPlastic featured here) somehow manages to further up the melancholy angst even more, and if you have heard that previous track you know that's a bit of an achievement in itself.
File this under ice-cold mechanical soul, then, for that's what it is. The may be angst and pain here but it is the kind painted over with a coat of lead - the emotion buried beneath a protective suit of cold electronics. If anything this exceeds the quality Pollyn demonstrated on their debut single and is an encouraging taster of the album, although if the current trend continues they might end up making Ian Curtis look like an optimist - here's hoping their is a little more emotional variety on that album itself.
As with 'Give It Up' the remixes shine. Hip-hop producers Sid Roams (who have previously worked with Jean Grae and Dilated Peoples) turn in distortion heavy affair that sits somewhere between hip-hop and industrial-soul, suiting the track perfectly and probably providing the highlight out of the remixes. French beatmaster dEbruit turns in a stuttering broken-beat effort that ditches the vocal but keeps the atmosphere. Finally Blue Daisy envelope the whole track in a disorienting, dubby sound that gradually fractures under the emotional weight of the track, giving a climax reminiscent of Four Tet.
With snow covering the ground in England at present reviewing Lindstrøm's latest album, a collaboration with vocalist Christabelle, feels a little incongruous. Yet at the same time it's a perfect fit, and that is because more than anything else Lindstrøm has done, even his laid back cosmic disco collaborations with Prins Thomas, Real Life Is No Cool feels like the warmth of the sun shining on your face.
Once past the slightly uncomfortable entrance of looping, reversed vocals Real Life Is No Cool quickly settles into a groove of tropical sounding beach vibes. It is quickly apparent that this is Lindstrøm's most straight-up house album yet. Opening track 'Looking For What' boasts a soulful piano refrain and waddling bassline that wouldn't sound out of place in a modern deep house track but it is the playfulness between the music and Christabelle's vocals that really lift things up, as on the break three minutes into this opening track.
There are traces of disco, Moroder and 80s experimentation throughout, as on the thick, heavy bassline of 'Lovesick', the sheer camp-celebration of 'Baby Can't Stop' or the acidic synthesizers of 'Let's Practice'. But more than anything this album is simply a relaxed lie down in the sun. At its best the result is utterly sublime - the repeated vocal refrain from the shimmering 'Keep It Up' feels like a dip in a pool whilst the impeccable stop-start timing of 'High & Low' ends things on a high note.
By basing the album around Christabelle's performance Lindstrøm has given Real Life Is No Cool a greater emotional depth that makes this album more than just excellent, it also makes it interesting and beautiful.
It may be cold outside but Real Life Is No Cool will undoubtedly chase away the chill.
Whilst the CD version doesn't see a full release for more than a month it is currently available at Rough Trade, where it comes packaged with two bonus CDs, one featuring remixes (including the ace Aeroplane mix of 'Baby Can't Stop') and another featuring an exclusive 43-minute cover of the Christmas classic 'Little Drummer Boy'. The latter proves a highlight provided you are prepared to ride its utterly bonkers journey to completion. Based around the song's trademark marching-band rhythm it gradually drills itself into you skull. In the closing minutes it begins to sound like a bizarre sci-fi epic space-war battle march, only one which culminates not in laser fire and trench-runs but in a battle where the weapons are snowballs and mince pies. It's totally ridiculous, and frankly essential Christmas listening as a result.
Real Life Is No Cool is available now from Amazon.co.uk on MP3 and released on January 25 on CD and LP [affiliate links].
In constrast to Dragonette's Fixin' To Thrill, Annie's looooong awaited second album takes a bit longer to love. Perhaps it's fitting, since it has taken years to get released, with false starts and internet leaks and at times it felt like it never would see the light of day.
With a tracklist that has seen more changes than the line-up for the Sugababes there are four producers (and that is on top of Annie herself) in Xenomania, Paul Epworth and previous collaborators Richard X and Timo Kaukolampi. With a few tracks (the Epworth efforts) being added at a later date and at least three producers well known for their distinctive styles it is unsurprising that Don't Stop feels a little like a taster menu.
Yet with a but of time invested it becomes clear that Annie still got it. Whist it isn't strong in the traditional sense Annie's voice remains distinctively irresistible - the auditory equivalent of some sort of candy floss / ice cream / chocolate combo that feels sweet, fun and sexy all at once.
Admittedly the album may not flow as well as it would under one (or indeed two, or even three) producers, the individual tunes themselves more than make up for it. 'Songs Remind Me Of You' still feels like perfect Richard X - a re-imagining of the Human League and synth pop for our times. Whilst at least some of the Xenomania tracks shine - 'My Love Is Better' for example - it is Epworth's work that defines the album. Opener 'Hey Annie' breezes with confidence and self-assurance and boasts a depth of sound and detail that sparkles whilst 'I Don't Like Your Band' is the most fantastic put-down record, delivered in a cool and condescending way that just makes Annie seem even cooler:
"Don't get me wrong, I like you - but I don't like your band, your style, your sound"
From Annie's lips it's a pretty cutting line. As we approach the tenth anniversary of Annie's breakthrough single 'Greatest Hit' it seems a shame that we have had to wait so long for new material. It also seems frankly ridiculous that earlier singles 'I Know Ur Girlfriend Hates Me' and 'Anthonio' got cut from this album in an effort to make things fresh since they would comfortably provide highlights here and are hardly over-exposed.
Ultimately though? Annie oozes so much class you can't help but simply revel in her return. BlackPlastic just hopes the next album comes quicker and has Epworth and Richard X at the helm.
Check out 'Songs Remind Me of You' below:
Out now, available on CD, LP and MP3 from Amazon.co.uk [affiliate links].
BlackPlastic doesn't cover as much pop as we would like but there are two recent releases that deserve a mention. Both of these releases have been out for a little bit - one for quite some time, albeit in another form - yet they are both too interesting to skip over. BlackPlastic will tackle one now and the other in a few days.
Dragonette's sophomore album Fixin' To Thrill is a bag o' nails pop record that jostles along at a pace that makes it quite evident that it doesn't much care what you think. BlackPlastic first warmed to the Aussie four-piece after hearing their snarky cover of Calvin Harris' 'Girls' (re-titled 'Boys') and the killer track 'I Get Around' (the Van She Tech remix of which remains BlackPlastic's favourite Van She remix).
And Fixin' To Thrill easily live up to those expectations. This is pop music turbo charged. Keep Madonna. Keep La Roux. Keep Boots. Keep Gaga. Dragonette manage to outshine them all, particularly on the muted but slinky 'Easy' or the perfectly infectious 'Pick Up The Phone'.
This is a taste of pop music not as it often is (insipid, watered-down) and not the mass-produced, stamped-out from a cut-out template type affair. In the UK we now have a famous Facebook group campaigning to get Rage Against The Machine to number one for Christmas in an attempt to disrupt the usual dominance of the charts that 'talent' show juggernaut X Factor holds at this time of year. BlackPlastic says forget that - vote for pop at Christmas, just make sure it's good: Vote for Dragonette.
Fixin' To Thrill is out now, available on MP3 at Amazon.co.uk [affiliate link].
Judging by FabricLive 49 Burakama Som Sistema are a goddamn cussing noisy bunch. Make no mistake, this album feels like being tied to the front of Alton Tower's biggest rollercoaster (is that still the Oblivion?) for an hour or so with an emotionally epic hangover.
To be honest BlackPlastic was ready to slate it but instead we will say this - you will like FabricLive49 if:
You like the sound that several travelling fair grounds would make if you put then all in the same place at once and told them to SCREAM IF YOU WANNA GO FAAAAAASTTAAAAAA!
You hate your own head.
You have some incredibly persistent guilty voice inside your soul constantly reminding you that you butchered your mother.
You are on more drugs than BlackPlastic has ever tried.
There are a few better moments but, in all honesty, they are not good - they just gave BlackPlastic a bit of a breather because they didn't sound like a baby screaming.
It might be built to sound like a soundclash but to BlackPlastic it just IS a soundclash.