Sunday, July 16, 2006

In shops tomorrow: 17/7


Maybe it's a tax loss period, but there's a few singles from otherwise high profile bands sneaking out without so much as a by-your-leave this week, whether the big rock shapes of the Flaming Lips' The W.A.N.D. or the semi-acoustic attempted classicism of Franz Ferdinand's Eleanor Put Your Boots On - we trust you're aware of who Eleanor is by now. There's an Avalanches remix of Fade Together on the CD. Finish that bloody new album! Meanwhile Graham Coxon is bringing out a 2x7" of I Can't Look At Your Skin and What's He Got. Well, he's the label boss, he can do what he wants. Gnarls Barkley are not going to be allowed a low profile release, not after the ubiquity of Crazy, but it's hard to tell precisely where Smiley Faces fits into any scheme of things other than their own curious eclectic agenda. Good to see the rest hasn't changed Luke Steele of The Sleepy Jackson, either in terms of producing psychedelic/George Harrison-influenced woozy grandiose pop or giving bizarre interviews and live performances. God Lead Your Soul is another widescreen mini-symphonic triumph. While the surely soon-come Sir Luke Haines declares that the first single from his new album, finally out in October, has been produced by Richard X his former Black Box Recorder compadre Sarah Nixey continues on her own Goldfrapp in the undergrowth path on second solo single Strangelove, produced by ex-Auteurs cellist and now Paul Morley sidekick in Infantjoy James Banbury. A good week for the girls, in fact, as the inarguable presence of Beth Ditto makes the glorious minimal-post-punk-funk-soul stew of The Gossip's Listen Up nigh on unignorable, while there's five of them on Canadian new wavers The Organ's Memorize The City.


Have a heart for Towers Of London. They've spent a couple of years now behaving knowingly badly, giving the finger literally and metaphorically to all and sundry and releasing the most craftedly obnoxious metal they can muster in an all out attempt to split the indie kid nation, and after the dust has cleared and the Bravo TV deal inked they find the actual most fervently argued about, battle line drawing band on message boards and blog comments boxes nationwide are three easygoing girls in Brighton doing retro-laced girl grouperia. What's a Donny Tourette to do, eh? Why the Pipettes, an unashamed pop outfit in the old-fashioned sense of that word, of all current bands stir up such fevered 'debate' is a curious anomoly - indeed, when putting all the links for this together we noticed We Are The Pipettes had had four customer reviews, the first two of which were five stars out of five, yet the average mark is 3.5. You'll have spotted if you've been paying attention recently which side of this divide we're resolutely on, and this is a unabashed, summery, more clever then it's letting on feelgood experience. Fourteen songs/potential singles, 33 minutes, it's all you want. However, and we're going to have to be really careful how we tread here after recent revelations made to us, they've waited until the album cover to unleash the worst picture of the not normally unremarkable looking Rose Pipette we've seen. Frankly, however good she is on an Etch-A-Sketch (you have to wait until about 1:11 for her and then to 1:35 for the actual results, but it's worth it), here she looks not unlike a transvestite. Now, it'll probably be easier to reverse out of that line should she ever need to question us about it then it is to make a free-flowing connection between that record and Lupen Crook's Accidents Occur Whilst Sleeping - we thought he was also from Brighton at first, but apparently not - but we cover all bases here, and this is a tremendously unsettling record, pitched as a kind of acid-folk British Devendra Banhart but in fact pitching out his own area right on the edges of that movement, such as it is one. Anti-folk might begin to cover it, we suppose, if sometimes he didn't have the tendency to make it sound as massive as possible, with brass and strings making surprise appearances and disappearances, alongside intimate acoustic moments. Think Syd Barrett (RIP) if he'd continued recording, late Nick Drake on uppers rather than downers, Patrick Wolf after heavy sedition had worn off, Daniel Johnston with more but by no means all mental faculties intact... oh, just give it a go if you're at all interested in frazzled, more than slightly disturbed/disturbing singer-songwriter moves that, unlike Dan Sartain (you remember? Supposed acoustic rebel briefly NME-hyped last year? No?), matches up to the write-ups. There's a lot of this about, using folk as a starting point for all sorts of madness, and the estimable Rob Da Bank has compiled it into two CDs called Folk Off - yeah, alright - starting with Tunng's spectral cover of Bloc Party's The Pioneers and progressing through Sufjan, Animal Collective, Vashti Bunyan, Laura Cantrell, James Yorkston, Clayhill, The Eighteenth Day Of May, Espers and so forth. And left turn again: Lupe Fiasco's Kick Push is the track that made us believe that someone somewhere in the mainstream end of US rap still cares. Album on the way, but in the meantime mixtape Touch The Sky, which you'll notice he's named after the far more famous Kanye track he guests on, has won itself a proper release. A band full of stylistic quirks over the years have been Moloko, who get their career wrapped up on Catalogue - the Pet Shop Boys must be kicking themselves for not snapping that title up - which gets the always lost on us big two hits out of the way so free rein can be given to their largely inventive adventures in genre and sound.


A cursory mention first for Glastonbury's attempt at catching the spirit of said festival and its changes over time and social movement, even though Julien Temple didn't get it exactly right and it was on BBC2 yesterday for some reason. Unlikely to be on BBC2 just yet but it won't be kept off it eventually is The Proposition, which takes outback grittiness to whole new levels and, as you might expect of something penned by Nick Cave, is grimly poetic and leaves very few holds barred. His own soundtrack sets the atmosphere beautifully too, and Cave and director John Hillcoat do a commentary on this DVD. Fatboy Slim and his assorted co-conspirators know their way round unusual imagery too, as collated on Why Make Videos - The Greatest Hits, even if it isn't in chronological order. That makes even less sense on a retrospective DVD then it does on a singles collection.

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