We know it's a show currently doing a decent impression of a cartoon fish suddenly deprived of a tank to swim in, but Top Of The Pops' guest booking continues to surprise us, especially last week when right out of the pack they picked out the Secret Machines' Lightning Blue Eyes, not as capable of swallowing cities whole as their first album singles but still propelling itself neatly. Morrissey's on tonight doing You Have Killed Me, the first single from an album that finds his stock caught between mid-90s post-Madstock public ennui and the critical hosannahs of his return two years ago. See, we've all moved on, to bands like Editors, who stop re-releasing all their old singles for a moment to bring out All Sparks. They're making an impact in America at the moment in the old fashioned touring their arse off way, perhaps not realising that there's a new approach to breaking into hipster collections, namely getting your name heard around mp3 blogs. Such is the route foisted upon Guillemots, whose early singles compilation From The Cliffs is out here on import only this week in the same week their scope grows ever wider on We're Here. There's a possible thesis, isn't there, in how UK hype targets are straight ahead four men with guitars outfits such as Arctic Monkeys, the Libertines adn their bubbles and indeed Editors, while those who decide what constitutes a buzz band in North America prefer their six string wielders to take it further out, hence the growing reputation of the Go! Team and, to an extent, Art Brut stateside alongside the likes of Wolf Parade, the Decemberists and, most notably, Broken Social Scene, whose 7/4 (Shoreline) should have had a lot more attention than it has given the controlled mess of an album nearly breached the top 75. It's one of our favourites of 2006, in any case, so it should be one of yours. Also to keep an eye out for if not to buy via an easy link, the 60s R&B-flavoured full frontal charge of Keep Dancing by Six Nation State.
It now sounds a bit like quite a lot else, just a superior version, but in 1981 David Byrne and Brian Eno's My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, now remastered with the Koran-quoting track dropped just to annoy 'censorship! Everywhere is censored!' reactionary fools (we hope), sounded like nothing on earth. Conceived as a set of fake tribal field recordings, what emerged was a melange of found sounds and early sampling, the polyrhythmic post-punk-funk the recent Talking Heads album Fear Of Music (although it became delayed until after the pair's further adventures into effect-laden funk Remain In Light) had mined under Eno's guidance and the point in the musical Venn diagram where processed instruments, early hip hop beats and transcendental tribalism interlock. A small area, as you can imagine. We'd guess Massive Attack's 3D listened to it a bit in his musical apprenticeship, as his love of the dark side of post-punk has come to the fore at times during the band's lifespan, usually just before a major schism emerges. (Fact: during the Mezzanine sessions they intended to cover the Clash's Straight To Hell with Horace Andy singing, only to find Andy is so religious he refused to sing the word 'hell'.) It's the soul sides the kids go for, though, and everything is represented on stop-gap best of Collected. What did happen to Mushroom? There's no easy way of getting from this to the eponymous debut by be your own PET, so let's not try and make one. At least it's easier to play the ballsy frontwoman card when connecting their 14 tracks in 29 minutes rocket power to the less immediate but with fresh gold emerging over listens Show Your Bones by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Finally, the one we really have been waiting for, as The Best Of Hefner 1996-2002 showcases the Peel favoured Proper Indie standard bearers from their stripped back first two albums, forensically examining love under recording budgetary constraints, the full figured We Love The City and punter confusing electropop of Dead Media, all shot through with Darren Hayman's if not black then certainly grey humour and insight. Get the lot, or just this if it's easier. Hayman's spiritual father Elvis Costello's Very Best Of...And The Attractions is meanwhile being reissued, having originally come out in 1994. We have no idea why, but it's as good an intro to his finest work as you'll find.
You wouldn't think much could come of a Gorillaz live show, but Albarn, Hewlett and co managed it by virtually sidelining the cartoons, and hence characters, themselves and just putting on a big show, recorded for posterity on Demon Days Live. Passing over the inevitably easy link into the week's, nay, year's, least likely live DVD release, The Higsons - I Don't Want To Live With Monkeys Live, we find the Skatalites, still nearly at full strength despite well advanced years and still capable of getting an audience moving. Live At The Lokerse Feesten 1997 And 2002 demonstrates their craft.
What do you suppose The Eight Legged Atomic Dustbin Will Eat Itself by Martin Roach is about? Yes, it's a now fully updated reissue of the 1992 history of the Stourbridge scene, just as all three main players have reformed to a more selective audience.