Bit of a vintage special at Singles Club this week with the three frontmen involved boasting a combined age of 167. Have they still got it? Read on to find out…
Dr Dre – Gunfire
No matter what your musical preference, there is no denying the status of the Dr Dre album 2001 as an absolute stone cold classic. The long awaited follow up to that album never really materialised, although the legendary rapper did release an album’s worth of new material to accompany the NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton.
The problem with Dre’s later material is that it sounds nothing like the Dre that we all know and love. New song ‘Gunfire’ is no different. It would be difficult to identify the rapper in the song as Dr Dre, his voice having become lighter and less harsh and therefore, less recognisable. Having said that, the brutal, quickfire ‘Gunfire’ is still a decent listen but that simply isn’t enough for one of the greatest innovators in musical history. There hasn’t been much evidence in recent years that Dre still has some of the old magic.
Gogol Bordello – Walking on the Burning Coal
Gogol Bordello are a band that I have dipped in and out of since the release of their gypsy punk classic ‘Start Wearing Purple’. The New York band have always been more than a one hit wonder but I haven’t checked in with them since 2007’s Super Taranta! For all I know they could have been releasing their best work in the intervening years. If new single ‘Walking on the Burning Coal’ is anything to go by then I have unfairly cast the band aside.
Their best songs have always been the most melodic and and while their new song is certainly that, it is also insistent, wacky and memorable. If it doesn’t have you tapping your feet within the first 30 seconds then you’re basically not a human.
Neil Young – Children of Destiny
It’s a weird one when beloved musicians keep releasing music into old age. Apparently some of Bob Dylan’s later stuff is supposed to be pretty good but have you ever met anyone that has actually listened to any of it? There are exceptions to this of course, Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen to name two, but Neil Young would not normally fall into this category for me. ‘Children of Destiny’ is actually pretty good however. Sure, the verse sounds like a 1980s bar band but the string led chorus is pleasant and stirring. The Canadian songwriter’s voice also sounds in good shape. Obviously, it doesn’t come close to any of his earlier output but he is 71 for chrissakes. If I am still contributing anything other than drinking beer whilst sat in a comfy chair at 71, I will be stunned.
Protomartyr are a band that have achieved almost universal critical acclaim without making much of a splash in terms of fanbase. In my humble opinion this is largely due to their inability to write that one break out song. There is no doubting their punk rock credentials but they do suffer from a tendency for all their songs to sound similar. ‘A Private Understanding’ is another step forward for the Detroit band however, with frontman Joe Casey doing his best Nick Cave impression as he snarls through the almost spoken vocals. The song bursts into life for the chorus to create a sound that transcends anything they have previously released. A minor triumph.
It’s a risky business reviewing a track from a band you have never heard before but here goes… Sundara Karma are in the process of re-releasing their first album and ‘Lakhey’ is the lead single. I have often seen the band’s name at festivals and so forth but they have passed me by until now. ‘Lakhey’ recalls the Maccabees without ever quite capturing their raw energy. That isn’t to say that ‘Lakhey’ isn’t an enjoyable slice of indie weirdness, enough to make me want to listen to a few more tracks at least. The outro also has elements of The Crookes, there can be, of course, no greater praise.