Monday, June 19, 2006

Weekender : all we ever wanted to do was play chess with you

CHART OF DARKNESS: The major detail this week is, due to the same rules that ensures Angels and I Predict A Riot aren't still in the top 40, Crazy has exited the entire chart from number 5. Someone needs to keep an eye on those downloads just to see how slowly it would have properly left our field of chart vision. No change in the top two, Shakira enters at three, Bon Jovi had challenged in the midweeks but dropped back to 5 - seriously, who cares any more? - Embrace fall to 8 but still head a train of Three Lions, Hurry Up England (gnh) and Is This The Way To The World Cup (quadruple gnh), Armand Van Helden gives My My My another go at 12, something called Solu Music which probably involves pretend singers in bikinis is at 18, the Fratellis and their smug top hat are at 19 and Dannii Minogue, who managed to outdo herself at her greatest hits launch and in one go sum up the problem she's had throughout her career, is at 20. That TI stuck at 22 is reassuring, as is Tonedef Allstars cutting the download price to a single penny and consequently falling 14 to 27. The Black Eyed Peas rapping and 'la-la-la'ing - we're sure Fergie used to do some other things in the band - over Mas Que Nada at 29 on downloads, less so. We're very pleased to see the nadir of 80s dance reappropriations, John Parr vs Tommyknockers, has stalled at 43, while Neil Hannon can be quietly pleased that the Divine Comedy, despite a declining profile, can still manage 52. Clea? Are they still alive? Apparently so, and at 55, five ahead of Battle, who as far as we can tell followed top 40 success with Tendency with next to no publicity and very little airplay at all for Children. Sort it out, Transgressive. The only reason we're pleased India Arie's I Am Not My Hair is down at 65 is we can't imagine what JK & Joel would have done with it.
Keane were outselling Sandi Thom by 5 to 1 at one stage in the week, and while it's apparently not ended that high at least it gets her off number one. Nelly Furtado enters at 5 while that obvious Father's Day present The Eagles' Complete Greatest Hits climbs 19 to 9. The Dixie Chicks, who some of you may recall were once a country act with little UK profile, are now a faux-country act to all intents and purposes and manage number 12. Three other top 20 entries for Paul Weller's millionth live collection, Busta Rhymes off the advert and... Level 42's Definitive Collection? We've been going the aftershave and smart shirts route all these years, never realising it was slap bass dads really want. The no less smug but somewhat more unlikely gift The Very Best Of The Stranglers is at 28 - yes, it's got Duchess on it, and Hanging Around, and the All Day And All Of The Night cover by which time Jean-Jacques Burnel was a ringer for Paul Merton, and nothing from the Paul Roberts era. It must be the season, as there's a Dusty Springfield re-compilation at 31 and the latest Lightning Seeds best of at 33. Duncan James, who barely seems bothered with his old pop constituency, slumbers at 55. Simon Webbe must be pissing himself.

FREE MUSIC: On reflection maybe 19 was too low in the STN album list of 2005 for Okkervil River's still powerful and astonishing Black Sheep Boy album, only recently made properly available in the UK. Much the same descriptive words could be used for Will Sheff's side project Shearwater, on which he helps out singer and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Meiburg. Seventy Four/Seventy Five (not to be confused with odd mid-90s radio hit '74/'75 by the Connells) pours the same amount of bleak emotion in as Sheff does in the day job but rounds it out with hammering piano in the foreground. It reminds us of plenty of things, from Talk Talk to the Arcade Fire, but seems mostly to exist in its own haunted but potentially explosive vacuum.

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: Is it always a bad thing when you can list primary influences on a band? Norwich's The Neutrinos sound superficially so indebted to PJ Harvey - vocal cadences, blues inflections, crashing guitars - that it can't be ignored, but they still need the vocalist to carry it off and Karen Reilly has a voice and range that can't be ignored. You'll also think of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but their new stuff wishes it was as committed and thought out as this. Bet they're a hell of a live band.

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: If you ever see that version of Transmission Joy Division did for the BBC's Something Else in 1979 you may notice the very start and end usually gets cut off. As it's one of our favourite ever TV performances here's the whole thing - watch for the immobile student types in front of Ian Curtis, and just watch Stephen Morris go - complete with the reason for that edit, John Cooper Clarke's self-edited rendition of his own Chicken Town on an escalator. And, as we love the bard of Salford, here's Health Fanatic. Also: it's Tummy Time! And here's here's the original version to download. Whose idea was it to take off Tiswas with a punk poet fronting the campaign as late as 1988?

FALLING OFF A BLOG: The Sad Pandas - Good News For People Who Love Bad Music has a cumbersome title and a very uncumbersome way with mp3s and general musical goodness. Full album downloads, sample mp3s, live bootlegs, Myspace lead-ons, string quartet band tribute albums, the works.

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: Stokesound sounds on the face of it an unlikely candidate for potential national acclaim, but we're suckers for a website full of mp3s of interviews, and when subjects include ¡Forward, Russia!, Young Knives, We Are Scientists, Brakes, Spinto Band, Howling Bells, Infadels, Hundred Reasons, MC Lars, Robots In Disguise, Jim Noir, the Blood Arm and so on (oh, and the Automatic) you have to at least feign interest. Which we're not doing.

IN OTHER NEWS: No! Stop all that! Remember we mentioned right at the start of the year that the godlike genius Andy Falkous, latterly of McLusky, was forming a band with Jack off of McLusky and one or more of Jarcrew? Turns out they're called Future Of The Left and they're up and running! Er, tell us what they're like, we've not got time today. Ooh, he's growing his hair too.

IN OTHER OTHER NEWS: Should it ever come up in a pub quiz or something, you might want to memorise the original of Simian's Never Be Alone (AKA We Are Your Friends)


Anonymous said...

Gnarls would be no7 if eligible.

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