If you read this in time you'll be able to catch The Crimea on - and who'd have thought this when Davey McManus was culminating barely controlled gigs by swallow-diving into audiences in the Crocketts - Top Of The Pops. Although before now there's not been a lot of attention for White Russian Galaxy this was the second single first time round, Lottery Winners On Acid having been the first, that convinced us that there was something quietly special afoot. The inevitable major label reissue remix isn't as good, but we'll be glad to see him up there. Also veterans of their field are Peter and David Brewis, whose Field Music is the first of their many projects to gain national attention largely as a consequence of most of their ex-bandmates going off to form successful bands of their own. The corking You're Not Supposed To, from a forthcoming album that rounds up much of their life's work starts with some close harmony Gregorian, well, humming before launching into equal parts pop-psych Beatles and XTC about seven years on from everyone else's idea of XTC influence. Top handclaps too. Whirlwind Heat are a trio less likely to employ a string section, although they've developed from being Jack White's garage-Devo mates four years ago to the Reagan EP's not unwholly unwelcome diversion into Cake territory. Passing quickly over possibly the final Gorillaz single, the double A of Kids With Guns and El Manana, we come to this week's output from Transgressive Records. We have tended to go big on them a lot over recent months, but they will keep putting out excellent records, damn them. Get to their online shop and attempt to quickly snap up two new limited edition singles, our showbiz mate Jeremy Warmsley's second EP Other People's Secrets and the debut from ultrapromising Hot Chip-meets-The Rapture-meets-British Sea Power coves (and current STN Myspace soundtrack) Goodbooks, Walk With Me.
It's always difficult to second guess what any Fiery Furnaces album will sound like, but Matthew Freidburger's own description of Bitter Tea as "sissy psychedelic Satanism" will do for us. Not dissimilar, in fact, to how we'd describe the self-titled debut by Semifinalists, who took their time to grow on us but eventually open out their gorgeous, lo-fi Flaming Lips-esque soundscapes, mixing odd synth washes and direct riffage to winning effect. Solo singers all the way otherwise, whether BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner Karine Polwart's powerful folk roots voice on Scribbled In Chalk, Ronnie Spector remaining in full voice with the aid of Patti Smith and Keith Richards amongst others on the wryly titled The Last Of The Rock Stars, her first album of new material in nineteen years, or Robyn Hitchcock's pecularily English oddball worldview in 1990s radio session form on This Is The BBC. Hitchcock and occasional backing band Minus 3 (Scott McCaughey, Bill Rieflin and Peter Buck) is playing a day of the Hyde Park version of the Wireless Festival in June, bottom of a bill that's headed by David Gray, KT Tunstall and the Fun Lovin' Criminals. The world is destined never to 'get' him, are they? Oh, reissue of the week - Lambchop have an out-takes compilation out which by all accounts is barely worth the effort but much of their back catalogue is coming back out to coincide, most notably How I Quit Smoking.
One each of these last two - despite the Morrissey ill business the first Madness Finsbury Park reunion Madstock in 1992 provided a party atmosphere all round, famously measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale. They kind of spoiled it by doing several more over the next few years, but never mind. Madness: At Madstock is out on mid-price DVD, and of course Lee Thompson gets flown on a wire during Baggy Trousers.
You'd be surprised at how many bands, whatever their outward opinion to publicity, seem to have a photographer in quasi-residence - it seems any band worth its iconic salt has an exhibition ready to go whenever they're ready. The Kaiser Chiefs aren't up to that stage quite yet, but A Record Of Employment seems a good way of rounding off a year of madness, being a fully annotated scrapbook of photos and memorabilia compiled by the band, their associates and fans but not a straight biography. Were we Q, we'd pointlessly mention Parva at this stage. But we aren't.