Kick Up The Fire – Money Men (ep review)

Kick Up The Fire Money Men unsigned bandTwo years ago, when Kick Up The Fire released their self-titled debut ep, I boldly suggested that they could take 2011 by storm.

Well it’s 2012 and they’ve only just got round to releasing their follow-up effort. Can’t win them all, eh?

Happily, the band’s sophomore effort is more than worth the wait. ‘Money Men’ is a tightly honed record, with each track as well produced and catchy as the last. Much like on their debut ep, the band still retain a slow-burning style, which may not knock your socks off at first, but gradually worms its way into your mind.

Lead singer Kenny Wastell’s lyrics are a big reason for this, with clever turns of phrase as he poetically skewers lad-mag culture on opening track ‘Loaded’. The more rhythmic guitars help to create a danceable tempo, and the lead guitar licks on ‘Spiders’ add plenty of flair.

‘Takeover’ is possibly the best of the bunch, acting as a passionate call-to-arms for disenchanted commuters and office drones, while ‘White Cube’ draws proceedings to a close with quirky rhythms and incongruous brass, much in the vein of Biffy Clyro (circa ‘Infinity Land’).

The only real criticism to be made is that the band don’t make as much of the call and response vocals that worked so well on their last record, which is a shame.

But it must be said ‘Money Men’ feels like a more coherent and polished effort, it proves their worth as one of the UK’s most exciting prospects, and at just 12 minutes long it will leave you crying out for more.

You can read more about Kick Up The Fire on their hilariously foul-mouthed blog, and if you head to their Bandcamp page before Monday 30 July, you can download their debut ep for free.

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UK Election 2010: Sorry seems to be the easiest word to say

Gordon Brown is a glutton for punishment. This is the only explanation I can give for his flagellant display yesterday after the so-called bigotgate blunder. After spending 45 minutes of valuable campaign time at Gillian Duffy’s terraced Rochdale home to apologise for calling her a bigot behind her back, I can only conclude that he is a masochist. To make matters worse, he even cracked out that smile. Gordon Brown smiles outside Gillian Duffy's Rochdale house after bigotgate
What does he have to smile about at this point?

He (or rather his aides) made a grave error in not switching off the microphone on his lapel after he climbed into a waiting car, but this is the kind of thing that could be swept under the rug easily. Move on, pick a new topic (say, the economy, which you are meant to be debating tonight), and distract the public. Instead, Brown castigated himself over and over again, issuing six apologies in six hours and branding himself ‘a penitent sinner’. What does this achieve?

One conclusion to be drawn from this is that we, as a nation, have become over-reliant on the power of ‘sorry’, as if saying it enough could erase our mistakes and bring instant, total forgiveness and atonement. But ‘sorry’ is a word which suffers from the law of diminishing returns. The more often you say it, the less powerful it becomes. It is often the most stubborn characters who can issue the most effective apologies; all the more effective because of their rarity.

Gordon Brown, Radio two, Gillian Duffy, bigot, bigotgate, microphone
There goes the election...

Before the election campaign started, Brown was 10-1 to apologise for anything during the televised leaders debates. This is because the public views Brown as a stubborn ox, unwilling to concede an inch to Cameron in PMQs. This is at once his greatest strength and biggest weakness. However it could have got him out of jail yesterday – simply apologise once and move on. The apology would have been all the more striking in isolation.

Where now for Labour? Can they resurrect their wounded prize-fighter before tonight’s crucial final debate?
I’m sorry, but I haven’t a clue.

UK Election 2010: First Televised Leaders’ Debate brings ‘Presidential Politics’ to UK

“Presidential Politics arrive in Britain tonight” yells the cover story in The Times today. It’s hard not to get excited about the first televised leaders’ debate on ITV tonight, but this description is indicative of a general confusion amongst the electorate.

UK Election Debate Graphic
Tonight's Line-Up (graphic by timesonline.co.uk)

After the last election, I asked a close relative who she voted for. “I voted Labour,” she told me “because I like Tony Blair.” As sound as that sentiment is, it was largely pointless in a consituency where Labour came a distant third with less than 10% of the vote. The glamorisation of the leaders, their wives, their houses etc. only serves to add to this general impression that we vote for the leader who we like/trust/admire the most. But in fact, depending on your constituency, you may be unable to effectively support the party of your choice.

I am a natural Lib Dem, but in my constituency of Poplar and Limehouse they lie a distant 4th. A vote for them would be nothing but symbolic. But, to come full circle, that makes tonight’s debate even more interesting. For my vote to count, I need to decide in my mind between Labour and The Tories. Oh the joys of being a floating voter in a swing constituency…