At least the singles market remains active as we approach, although this week it's almost all bands with shiny new contracts and big things ahead. Not least the Rumble Strips, who kicked off in the traditional way with two ear-pricking slabs of undeniably Dexys-esque but with their own very parochially British approach on Transgressive. Snapped up by Island, they bring us the Cardboard Coloured Dreams EP - ah, Bonzos reference! - led by the melodic career to date highlight Oh Creole. They'll be in the 2007 books, as will the 1990s, the band who've supported everyone these last six months and who aren't all that reminiscent of members' former bands the Yummy Fur and V-Twin's angular eclecticism, instead trading in big glam licks and enormous choruses as in Bernard Butler-produced You're Supposed To Be My Friend. Fields will be much talked about in early January too as people are falling for their airy post-shoegaze dreampop across the land. If If You Fail We All Fail is mildly reminiscent of Mew it's probably because producer Michael Beinhorn did And The Glass Handed Kites. After a year in America Art Brut find themselves in a very unusual position - hailed as college heroes and festival highlights Stateside, little regarded outside their cult core in Britain. A move to Mute may pay dividends, although there's not been a lot of interest in standalone single Nag Nag Nag Nag yet. As with our recent discussions of Danananaykroyd, we really couldn't tell you whether The Be Be See is a great or poor band name, although the fact they call their hugely promising Squeeze-glam songs things like You K Gold (B-side: Discover E) is perhaps a step too far. At least we again have a reason not to be immediately suspicious of bands signed by majors after, in their case, three gigs. Lots of goodness in the 7" racks - the hugely exciting Strokes-meets-Smiths-meets-Pretty Girls Make Graves racket of Tokyo Police Club make a debut on permanently reliable Memphis Industries with Nature Of The Experiment; all the support slots that haven't been given to the 1990s have been handed to Blood Red Shoes recently, the noisy duo (female singer/guitarist, male drummer - we see) finding possibly post-punk's last drop of excitability on You Bring Me Down; Tilly And The Wall bring the party once more with the first single from the excitable and exciting in equal measure Bottoms Of Barrels, Sing Songs Along; and Prinzhorn Dance School sound like the Fall produced by James Murphy on You Are The Space Invader, which given they're on DFA, who signed them when in single figures for gigs, isn't that unsurprising. They're based in Brighton, but then who isn't these days?
An enormous week for albums, not least with three bloody enormous releases. Here's everything you need to know - U2 were only really good before 1983 with a few exceptions (the Zoo TV business, the fact Elevation sounded like a beefier Departure), Morning Glory is highly inconsistent on reflection so all you need of Oasis is three quarters of Definitely Maybe and half of The Masterplan, and nobody in the world needs to hear another microsecond of Beatles rejiggery. Thank you for listening. Actually, it's mostly repackaging and resweepings in this week's selections : Tom Waits' Orphans comes with the none more Waitsian sub-title Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards, and even for a load of out-takes and rarities (his cover of Heigh Ho from Snow White And The Seven Dwarves is once heard never forgotten) you know exactly what it sounds like but that's no bad thing; for a band who only released one proper album Josef K have been well done for by compilers, Young And Stupid, Endless Soul and the double pack of that album, The Only Fun In Town, and its aborted predecessor Sorry For Laughing doing quite well on the shelves without needing Entomology too; Sufjan Stevens' desire to release everything he's ever done means he's converted his annual festive present to friends and family into commerce with the 5 CD set Songs For Christmas; Billy Bragg's Box Set Vol.1: Utility is a rejigging of the first of his lavish (seven CDs, this one) career retrospectives; a late entrant to the Two Years Since Peel rummage sale is John Peel's Dandelion: The Complete Dandelion Records Singles Collection 1969-1972, the full story of his label featuring myriad wonders including Gene Vincent, perennially cultish folkie Bridget St John, Wogan favourite Clifford T Ward, Bill Oddie doing On Ilkla Moor Baht'at and Stackwaddy, who we've never heard but John had a stack of anecdotes about. The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society invented the concept of British pastoral psychedelia and has reached deluxe status, the Velvets-aping proto-punk of The Modern Lovers' debut hasn't but is always worth a mention at mid-price. Roadrunner, She Cracked, Pablo Picasso, Abstract Plane - it resonates through the years. As do the Ramones, if not Brats On The Beat: Ramones For Kids, a concept surely thought up after the title. Nick Oliveri's involved, oddly. A couple of actual new releases do sneak out, chiefly Swan Lake, a sort-of-supergroup of Dan Bejar (Destroyer, New Pornographers), Spencer Krug (Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, Frog Eyes) and Carey Mercer (Frog Eyes) taking things easier if not without reward on Beast Moans, while Houston's Yppah melds hip hop grooves and idyllic soundscapes on You Are Beautiful At All Times, one for Caribou or Prefuse 73 fans.
On our Myspace at the moment are details of but a few of the ridiculously involved, and indeed ridiculous, set-pieces that made the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band concert/experience one of the greatest we've probably ever seen. It's not that there'll be never be another, it's that it's impossible to think there was one in the first place. The band themselves give explaining it all a go on Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band: The Complete Nutter History Of..., a three disc set including rare live footage. We want physical thought bubbles like Roger Ruskin Spear's.
The Best Of Smash Hits book includes two Morrissey set pieces, one plugging the ideas behind Meat Is Murder, the other the infamous Pete Burns meet-up that both have since claimed was mostly made up. Nobody tells the story of Morrissey quite like the man himself, which is where quote anthology Morrissey In Conversation comes in, going from the early days to Ringleader Of The Tormentors and barely sparing the horses inbetween.