Monday, November 20, 2006

Weekender : the dancing outlaw

CHART OF DARKNESS: Odd profile, has Akon. Not that he's amusing in any way, but he's pretty much failed to become a big name in 'the game' despite starting with three ground-up top five singles. Now, following a number 77, he's hitched a lift on what remains of Eminem's mystique - he's on there, we assure you - and has gained a second number one out of it without having to speed anything up like Scooter might. That keeps Justin off number one and sends Westlife to their inevitable fate - being placed next to Take That, who enter at 4 on downloads with a song that as far as we can think is slushier than anything they made first time around. Robbie is at 8, which won't cause any comment whatsoever. A Wainwright gets a top 20 hit, if piggybacking on Snow Patrol's success at 18. Emma Bunton's video attempt to reposition Downtown into a song about cunnilingus gets her to 24, Little Man Tate sum it up for us with Man I Hate Your Band (tip to all new bands - never, ever tempt fate in such way) at 26 and the Maccabees, the band with the greatest current ratio of excellent names, make a pleasingly surprising entry at 40. The Charlatans, having tasted top 40 failure once, can't get enough at 56, 365, the band who were championed in the Grauniad as the eventual saviours of the boy band format, enter at 60, which they'll argue was where Take That started but that was at a time when major labels were happy to continue plugging away at such things, and chart time runs out for now on Captain, Boy Kill Boy and the barely chartable in the first place ¡Forward Russia!, also all in the 60s.
Nobody needs another George Michael retrospective but how great the stock of getting your name back in the papers as Twenty Five, which has discs categorised For Living and For Loving, enters at number one, his recent duet partner's old band the Sugababes two back. The battle of the new face of commercial choristry sees All Angels enter at 9, still four back on Angelis' second chart week. All Angels are the four-piece, if you're keeping notes, it says here "the world's first all-female super-group", perhaps misunderstanding what exactly a supergroup is. The Amazon reviewer claims they "have diverse modern listening tastes that span Ella Fitzgerald, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, Billie Holiday, Alicia Keys and Coldplay". Between four of them it's hardly the most diverse range we've seen, but that's pop-classical for you. Tenacious D annoy a nation at 10, Simon Webbe sneaks into 11, Depeche Mode's famously eager fanbase finds another hits compilation a step too far at 18, Yusuf Islam manages 20 on the basis of whatever he's supposed to sound like now, training shoe salesman The Game is at 21, Jarvis surprisingly only manages 37 but that's three ahead of the more publicised if less eagerly discussed comeback of All Saints and +44, the post-Blink 182 project that seems to primarily be about Blink 182's split, rounds off the top 50.

FREE MUSIC: Kevin Barnes, AKA Of Montreal, has been a longtime adjunct to the famous/infamous Elephant Six Collective (Neutral Milk Hotel, Olivia Tremor Control, Apples in Stereo). Since the band have evolved into a solo project in all but name over the last couple of years the Of Montreal sound has evolved into an electro-psychedelic sound that has an awkward, sideways relationship with clever indiepop melody. Tremendous titles, too - from January's Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, the in-more-than-one-way-if-you-see-what-we-mean pure rush of Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse.

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: We've been talking up Sky Larkin's angular female fronted indiepop for a lot of this year, and Oxford's Foxes! remind us of a more stripped back version of the same. There's evidence of plays from the Amelia Fletcher handbook, but there's also a great deal of nearly straightforward old fashioned indiepop with secretly disquieting moments, reminding us of lo-fi early Modest Mouse or The Popguns-era subtle jangle. And hats off to the perfect fit voice of Kayla Bell, at least partly because she's also their drummer. Don't see that much any more, do you?

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: It's ten years this month since Hutter and Schneider got Kraftwerk back underway, which is a coincidental enough reason to look back at their history in vision. Famously they made their UK TV debut on Tomorrow's World with Autobahn in loving close-up, and that's about as much of a live spectacle on their own as they ever were, unless they rocked out on Pocket Calculator or brought The Robots into it. Thank goodness, then, for the age of projections and big screens, which lit up the 2003 MTV EMAs with Aerodynamique after Kylie's fulsome introduction and allows even Numbers to get a big cheer live. And no, we couldn't leave it without Bill Bailey and friends paying tribute.

FALLING OFF A BLOG: With a Recommended Listening sidebar including Aphex Twin, the Boo Radleys, Ride, Public Enemy, Adam And The Ants and Roxanne Shante The White Noise Revisited can't help but be endlessly intriguing. At the moment it's offering Kool G Rap, Third Eye Foundation, live Magazine, the Ruby Suns, CJ Bolland and tracks ejected at a late stage from Modern Life Is Rubbish and Going Blank Again.

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: Minifigs/Minipops? So yesterday. Say hello to musicians rendered in Lego. We're not quite sure which the ginger member of Sleater-Kinney is supposed to be but the Decemberists, REM and three different U2s are nigh-on unwhackable. (from

IN OTHER NEWS: Christmas comes but once a year, and when it does it brings good indie label festive compilations. Leading the way this year is It's Not Like Christmas, Izumi Records' Shelter fundraiser including the first CD/download release of last year's North-Eastern supergroup the Joseph And Mary Chain plus Emmy The Great featuring Lightspeed Champion, El Perro Del Mar, Amusement Parks On Fire with Leila Moss, Duke Special with David Ford, Duels, Electric Soft Parade, Iain Archer, Matt Harding, Minuteman and so forth. It's released to download on the 6th, physically a week later and for streaming, well, now.

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