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Danielle Spencer ‘Calling All Magicians’ LP/Cosmo Jarvis ‘Crazy Screwed Up Lady’ Single/ Niyi ‘Jungle Fever’ EP Review

February 15, 2010

Danielle Spencer- Calling All Musicians (LP)

The first two tracks of this album filled me with dread, here comes a 40 minute chunk of ‘kooky’ (for kooky read I don’t like wearing socks they’re just so restrictive dude) piano poop pop. Looking at the sleeve, of Danielle crouching on a piano stool under a full moon with ruffled hair by the side of a pond, I am already beginning to get angry.

Track 3, The Broken Ones, gets more interesting as Spencer’s voice becomes possessed by a smidgeon of individuality and manic melodies occasionally emerge from the piano.

The only memorable thing about the fourth track is the appearance of some cheeky maracas. I find my musical memory with this is akin to a goldfish’s general memory. It washes, no dribbles over me, in drips of mediocrity.

By Track 5, Wish I’d Been There, I have decided Spencer is like Bat for Lashes, but had she shopped in Millets for her outfits and not taught primary school kids but put the foil tops on milk bottles in a dairy farm factory. I note the album’s title is rather apt ‘Calling All Magicians’. She’s going to need to summon everyone from Gandalf to Dumbledore to make this album good.

There is some good humming on ‘Ghost’. She sings ‘a ghost in the night won’t scare me no/I just want to bring you back to life’. Thanks Danielle, can you bring me back to life too?

By this stage, the best I can come up with is that she does have a ‘nice’ voice. Where nice means alright to listen to but mind-numbingly dull.

I decide to do a little research and discover the album is produced by Tony Visconti. He’s worked with a few minor league players, like T-Rex, Thin Lizzy and that David Bowie. And Morrissey and Anti-Flag. I smell a rat.

Further research reveals Spencer is none other than Russell Crowe’s wife. Call me cynical, but do you reckon Russell said to Tony, “Hey Tony! Did you know my wife sings and plays the piano? I’ll send you a demo. And a nice little cheque for you to buy an island in the Caribbean with.”?

Track 11 is called Man Into Wolf. It features recorders. So that’s OK I guess. But then you hear this, “you’d swallow fire if you could/ cos when I’m looking at you there’s a moment when you disappear/ and when you can be seen through it’s the moment it becomes clear”. So old Crowedog’s a bit of an enigma is he? Wow how interesting. Or not.

Russell if you’re reading this, you probably want to beat me up. Bring it. But I do like Gladiator.

*

Cosmo Jarvis-Crazy Screwed Up Lady (Single)

The title put me off a bit. Sounds like something The Kooks might put on a B-side. But as the tune begins in a whirr of distortion, my ears prick up. It’s a jaunty little number, telling the tale of an unhinged Medusa wreaking havoc wherever she goes. Cosmo clearly has a way with words and as the track builds up to a euphoric ending, the song title sorta fits.

***

Niyi- Jungle Fever (EP)

The opening tune, Dirty Dirty Girl has a synth hook reminiscent of Kid Cudi’s Day and Night. The production is basic and the lyrics are boring. In fact, it sounds like Kevin and Perry are doing the backing vocals. At least there’s no autotune.

The next song, Bump Back, is OK actually. Niyi’s flow doesn’t sound natural. However, at 2.30, the beat drops and the track picks up. Wonky and bassy, I shake a leg to this.

Title track Jungle Fever is the stand-out track on the EP. Niyi raps of fake messiahs, fake careers and fake pariahs. Its good, squelchy fun. The beat drops at 2.30 again and there’s a wicked distorted vocal over the top of the beat.

The Bump Back remix by Raven is tasty, and I actually pay attention to Niyi asking for his New Era and Reeboks back.

Niyi’s MySpace shows him dressed as a fried egg. It seems like he was a big player on the Nu Rave scene, and photos can be seen of him hobnobbing with Uffie and him dressed like Mr.Motivator with a KFC bucket round his neck. Probably not ironically though.

Rough Trade  has described him as an ‘enfant terrible’. Well he does dress like a terrible child. But I guess is music is passable.

**

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