Sunday, July 02, 2006

In shops tomorrow: 3/7


As if to taunt the fact that sales decrease during very hot weeks, just about every record you've heard on the radio in the last few weeks is out this week. Many of them come with PR 'sound of the summer' epithets, which if so pre-judged do tend to leave us, ironically, cold. By which we mean cursory passovers for Razorlight's mash-up of This Is Radio Clash and 2-4-6-8 Motorway, Fall Out Boy's latest rewrite of the same song and, yes, even you, Lily Allen The Famous Myspace Singer, because you've taken the cheek and sass that got you noticed and used it to turn into an ersatz Corinne Bailey Rae. However, this week does see an actual Yes, This Reminds Us Of The Long Hot Summer 2006 candidate from a band who, even in this age of Boy Kill Boy and The Automatic, seem to have found themselves the most contentiously argued over outfit on pretty much every UK music forum. However, we for one are quite willing to draw ourselves up to our full height in polite company and state that we love the Pipettes, and we love Pull Shapes. It's a shame all their interviews turn into lengthy defensively minded theorising about people misunderstanding what they're trying to do because it's always felt from the off that there's far more to them than the straight girl group revival progenitors of easy summation, and here's a song built on a mountain of pop hooks with breezy abandon and no message or much subtle cleverness (they've left that for the album) beyond giving the punters something to dance to, even if it turns out we're not the only people to languor in the "whole floppy forest just for you and me" chorus mishearing. Of course, like Annie, Johnny Boy, MIA and sundry others it's what us pale indie kids think of as A Classic Pop Record and actual record buying pop kids don't give a shit about (A-listed on Radio 2, though, remarkably, even if every other TV and radio outlet has looked the other way) but who cares, this is what we build these monuments on, and if nothing else, despite their prevalence on US mp3 blogs of late, they seem to have gained an ever growing following through touring and approach as opposed to sticking a couple of downloadable tracks on a site and hoping for the best. People who don't fall so easily for this sort of thing are still well catered for in the likely summer hit category, as Justice, whose other remix work we've never been completely won over by, and Simian, who were always hit and miss, come together to classy effect on We Are Your Friends. This follows the advert aided re-release of La Breeze, which was originally the follow-up single to the original version of this, and we now wonder who's going to now pick up on One Dimension or The Wisp. We're still not 100% convinced about Jamie T, especially if he continues to sing in that accent, but with the toybox hip-hop ragga, Betjemen sample and skewed storytelling of Sheila, kid's got a future. Y'know, we're very rarely surprised any more by who gets a TV push, but we were particularly heartened last week when both Transmission and the Album Chart Show decided seemingly from nowhere that the blues post-punk of The Archie Bronson Outfit deserved a push. Domino's first signings post-Franz, as we recall, release the pummelling Dead Funny. Meanwhile just nine months after the album Feels got a UK release psych-noise-folkers Animal Collective release the monumental Grass and a couple of acoustic troubadours get a go, King Creosote lifting 678 from the re-recorded major label version of KC Rules OK and Jose Gonzalez not getting as much press as you'd think for his go at Hand On Your Heart.


It's getting increasingly difficult to find anything in the NME that you'd term a 'highlight' as such, but one landed fair and square in the review of Love Is All's Nine Times That Same Song, which starts "Springing from the wreckage of Girlfriendo..." A tossed off reference to Girlfriendo! A couple of pages later it's decreed readers have to have explained to them who Kate Bush is! Pitchfork/mp3 blogger favourites from Sweden, they're pretty much that old concept of ours, Proper Indie, as you'd almost come to expect from much of Sweden's alternative output these days. There's some element of that country's standard twee/hard setting, but the approach is very much throw everything lo-fi at the wall and see how much of it sticks, at one moment an inverted post-punk with Josephine Olausson sounding like Karen O, the next Bjork being run over by the Pop Group, always just seeming a heartbeat away from being fully broken down. It's near impossible to easily categorise, and such is its beauty. While we're talking skronky post-lo-fi, who's this sneaking back through the revivalist door? Why, it's the Scroggins', now three aunts and two nieces, collectively ESG, who actually never really stopped but post-Rip It Up And Start Again have gained a little momentum into Keep On Moving, still sounding like disco beats colliding with post-punk rhythms and skinny funk. It's that kind of sound's progeny that Nouvelle Vague stripped back in 2004 for their remarkable covers album, so of course there's a law of diminishing returns follow-up, Bande A Part. In the compilations folder there's a real genre inventor and boundary crossing pioneer being given a Best Of - that's right, The Best Of The Frank And Walters! Oh yeah, and The Best Of Gil Scott-Heron, the heavily politicised spoken word/jazz invigorator often credited as a founding father of rap. His father played for Celtic, y'know.


We've waxed lyrical many times before about the great Ivor Cutler, and finally the two BBC4 presentations from last year have made a sell-through format. Looking For Truth With A Pin/Cutler's Last Stand is respectively an extraordinary insight into an extraordinary man including Paul McCartney, Billy Connolly, Ned Sherrin, Neil Innes, Robert Wyatt, Andy Kershaw and Alex Kapranos and his final ever concert, at London Queen Elizabeth Hall in February 2004.

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