Thursday, April 05, 2007

Jack, Jamie and the over-enthusiastic blogger

For the record, Jack is Jack Penate, Jamie is Jamie T, and let’s say the over-enthusiastic blogger is me. Just for example. This story starts a month or so ago with an interesting piece in February’s Observer Music Monthly by ubiquitous commentator Paul Morley, in which he went on about the disappointment that can so often occur when a much-hyped band turns out to be a lot less good than first appeared. Here’s a sample:

“A new album or group is talked about in a certain tantalising way, but it turns out to be not anything like what the music is actually like. It's as if there is a fantasising about a kind of music that should exist, a hoped-for sound that is described at length even though it is not necessarily anything like what is going on….

…You hear [lists a heap of bands], and you think, I wish I hadn't been expecting the greatest thing ever, because compared to being the greatest thing ever, this is just one those things.”

He’s right you know, and Lord knows that I’ve been guilty. And if you’re a music blogger, can you hold your head up and say you’ve never been guilty of over-hyping a band? One of the potential pitfalls of being a music blogger is that unlike paid critics, we don’t tend to write about stuff we don’t like. We write about stuff that we love, in order to share our enthusiasm with others.

But so often, in the cold light of day, we look back and wonder what fuss is all about. My first case in point is Jamie T. I’m thinking already that I was probably a bit too hasty in acclaiming him like I did last year. Sure, the singles were all pretty good, with plenty of sparkle and promise. But I bought the album when it came out in January and was distinctly underwhelmed. The warning signs were there already though. After hearing Calm Down Dearest a few times live in his distinctive acoustic style, I was a bit disappointed to hear it swamped with over-production when it was released as a single. Who knows, maybe the lad will come good. He’s certainly got a load of good ideas, and he could make something great in the future. Just not yet.

Here’s Calm Down Dearest, as it was meant to be:

Download: Jamie T – Calm Down Dearest (acoustic)

The second case is one that I’m probably not guilty of over-hyping, just jumping on the bandwagon. When I posted a few live radio tracks by Jack Penate at the end of last year, I did admit that I wasn’t very impressed with him when I saw him in a support slot last summer. However, I did really quite like his perky debut single Second, Minute and Hour so I’ve been hoping for better things from the bloke that some are calling “the nicest man in pop”. His songs so far are a bit of a mixed bag though. The b-side to Second… was nowhere near as good as the a-side, and now with the arrival of his new Spit at Stars EP I’ve got the chance to assess him a bit more. The verdict again is a bit of a mixed bag.

I can’t help but like the title track, which is every bit as perky and catchy as his previous release. There’s something beautifully simple in the scratchy punk-pop, and although it sounds like a dead ringer for Kenicke’s Punka, in my book that’s a good thing. Second track My Yvonne is a fairly sappy ballad, but one which oddly I’ve got a bit of a liking for. It features XL’s other hot new talent Adele on backing vox, and is, well, just nice. He even shows off his soul chops and makes a decent fist of covering Darondo’s Didn’t I on the third track. I love the original, and covering it is a risky business, but Jack really hasn’t done it a dis-service at all. So I say, well done lad. The last two tracks are a bit more average. One more up-tempo rocker and one more ballad. Nothing much to report there.

So all in, the jury’s still out. Like Jamie, there’s definite promise. I particularly like his soul angle, and hope he pursues that line a bit more. Who knows, maybe he could deliver a decent album. I’ll wait and see.

Download: Jack Penate – My Yvonne

You can get a live version of Spit at Stars on my previous post.

Mind you, I don’t think he needs bloggers like me to hype him. The Kids will do that well enough. With added screaming. In my previous post, someone dared diss Jack in the comments, only to receive furious responses from a few loyal fans. Plus Second, Minute and Hour sold out in a flash, so there must be a whole heap of fans out there to propel him to the top of the charts.

Just for comparison:

Download: Darondo – Didn’t I
Download: Kenicke – Punka

Pre-order Spit at Stars.
Buy Panic Prevention


Matthew said...

I remember wondering what you were one about when I downloaded the Jack Penate tracks last year actually.

Glad you've come to your senses ;-)

Mr k said...

I think Jamie T deserved all the plaudits he received and to be honest, it's not surprising people are getting bored of material he's been playing for a good couple of years. I don't think Jack is quite in the same league but he has some mainstream appeal and could well make a reasonably successful album.

Matheus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Please please please can you upload the acoustic version of calm down dearest somewhere else so I can download it? It is a wicked song absolutly fantastic.