Friday, June 6th, 2008

We Started Nothing

Photo via

Oh the iPod ad, that modern-day golden ticket to fame and fortune, at least for the length of the campaign. The latest act to ride the dancing silhouette to glory is Manchester duo The Ting Tings, though they were hardly pulled out of obscurity into the spotlight. They were one of the much buzzed-about acts at SxSW this year and while signing a deal with Columbia just before the fest may have diminished some of the feeding frenzy around the band, they still ended up playing something like a dozen shows over the four days.

But it’s one thing to have a song edited down to 30-seconds of maximum effectiveness, and quite another to remain as impactful over the course of an entire album. Or at least it should be. The Ting Tings’ full-length debut We Started Nothing actually manages to contradict this by essentially building each song around a single strong hook or melodic line (usually surrounded by remarkably simple and generic musical accompaniment) and repeating it ad nauseum until it’s approximately song-length. In fact, almost every track feels like a commercial soundtrack caught in an endless loop, though if they’re courting the indie-dance crowd then that’s surely by design.

One highlight is the sweet and strummy “Traffic Light”, which offers a respite from the breakneck pace as well as showcases Katie White’s vocals, which are stronger and more versatile than their shouty singles would imply. Otherwise, Nothing‘s jackhammer repetition is perfectly suited to the nano-second attention span of the MySpace generation but for those accustomed to more immersive and attentive listening, it gets a bit maddening before the record’s sub-40 minute running time is up. But obviously there’s more of the former than the latter out there, since the record went straight in at #1 on the UK charts. Nothing is an unabashedly slight but effectively catchy soundtrack for Summer. Put it on your iPod mix, turn up loud and don’t pay too close attention.

The Ting Tings are coming to town for a show at the Mod Club on June 16 and courtesy of Sony BMG Canada, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show. And, to sweeten the deal and add a healthy dose of irony, each winner will also receive a copy of We Started Nothing on un-iPod-rippable vinyl. And if you don’t have a turntable… well, you can get one. They’re fun. To enter, email me at contests AT with “Shut up and let me go to the Ting Tings” in the subject line and your full mailing address in the body. Contest closes at midnight June 11.

There are features on the band at USA Today, The Georgia Straight, Rolling Stone and The Daily Star.

Video: The Ting Tings – “Great DJ”
Video: The Ting Tings – “That’s Not My Name”
MySpace: The Ting Tings

Drowned In Sound asks Kele from Bloc Party some questions. Kele answers them. Everybody wins. Bloc Party are playing day one of V Fest on September 6 at the Toronto Islands.

JAM (twice) and Beatroute talk to Islands.

John Roderick gives Spin a heads-up on The Long Winters’ return to the studio for the follow-up to 2006’s Putting The Days To Bed.

The Secret Machines will be at Lee’s Palace on July 12.

Crawdaddy and Beatroute talk to Drive-By Trucker Patterson Hood.

Mac McCaughan talks Portastatic with Beatroute.

Chart chats with Aimee Mann. She’s at the Kool Haus on August 28.

Topless Robot lists off the top 10 worst superheroes to ever appear on TV. Given the video evidence, it’s difficult to argue with any of the choices but I feel compelled to add Manimal (YouTube), Automan (YouTube) and the so-bad-it-makes-Ben-Affleck-look-less-bad Daredevil from Trial Of The Incredible Hulk (pic) to the list of atrocities. And yes, as a child I watched all of these religiously and without prejudice. What of it.

By : Frank Yang at 8:35 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Michelle says:

    The vinyl comes with a digital download card too ! :)

  2. distopian_dreamer says:

    Blasphemy! I had fond memories of Manimal and Automan as a youth. Does anyone remember The Flash the early 90’s? Loved that show…

  3. Thierry says:

    I loved Automan! It was part of my regular TV schedule along with Hardcastle & McCormick and the Greatest American Hero…