YouTube recently suggested these things I hadn’t heard of because YouTube thinks it knows what I like…

This project feels terribly thin (and fairly insincere) with its boilerplate tunes and “sharp suits”. I’ve heard better pastiches in German deodorant commercials. It sounds as though Jack White took Harding (who toured with White singing back-up) aside one day and had an avuncular word with him about money-making. I suppose the twist in this fourth-or-fifth re-resurrection of ’60sish-’70sish soul is in the fact that the singer is actually Black, for a change. What’s really striking: is the US economy tanking so badly that American, non-Hasselhoff acts are targeting European markets specifically, now? The further from the Anglophone sphere this travels, the more likely it is to work. Leon Bridges, another young Black retronaut, feels a little (a little) less contrived. Harding does have a nice enough voice. And I applaud his attempt to cross genres (despite the fact that the second genre he’s nudging was even bland when it was “new”). But a more personal, less calculated effort would end up being so much more rewarding for the non-German audience. Let’s hope that the side-parting in Harding’s Afro wasn’t the manager’s idea

One of those songs I liked the first three times I listened to it, performed by a band I was interested in until I’d seen the second video (shades of Alt J). Very professional; very well-rehearsed (North American musicians know how to rehearse); the lead said something, somewhere in an interview to the effect that the band aren’t friends and I thought: yup. Not a rough edge, weird angle, trace of sweat or quirky little titbit of deviation to sustain one’s interest. One of those artefacts/performances interesting primarily because it isn’t super-easy to do (observe that drummer!)… like a low-risk version of juggling lit candles or something.

I’m sure Andre Breton would enjoy this. A lot. But so would Strom Thurmond.

What can we suppose Smokey Robinson made of the detuned singing, gratuitously bowdlerized melody, tinny sax antagonisms and cringe-inducing tastelessness of the visuals here? Did he make a mildly racist quip or shrug/smile and buy a motorcycle with the Japanese royalty cheques? Only Mick Karn’s presence prevents this many-pronged atrocity from being sealed in concrete in its rightful place, at the bottom of the Shit Pit of Ages, between Flock of Seagulls and Kevin Rowland’s stiff old kerchief pile.

Lucky guess, algorithm…!

Okay, fine. 2 out of 6.


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