Monday, January 29, 2007

Weekender : a straight talking shipwright

FREE MUSIC: It's been a while since we've heard from the High Llamas, orchestrator to the minor stars Sean O'Hagan's long-running attempt to fuse idealistic Brian Wilson chamber pop and Stereolab explorations. Can Cladders, his/their eighth album released next month, is previewed by Winter's Day, which throws an element of Bacharach into the Van Dyke Parks mix - marimbas, tack pianos, multitracking, the works. And now with female backing vocalists!

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: We've said it before, and we'll say it again - who knew St Etienne would be so influential? Whether fututist twee, retro-modernist girl vocals or affected retro keyboards, the sound they perfected in between bouts of electrohouse is being reflected more and more of late, and to further prove the point here come Charming. You can tell for a start that they're not British, choosing that name - in fact they're from New York, and just to complete the picture their bassist used his spare time to form the Dansettes, who are essentially the American Pipettes (three harmonising girls, Spectoresque influences, four man backing band using a seperate name). But we're not technically here for them, we're here for Charming's very fine version of summery sixties pop, not unlike St Etienne spinoff Birdie or a slightly less grandiose Lucky Soul mixed with Cardigans-like Swedish melodic charm and grimy lyrical heart.

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: Continuing with our shortlived theme of unlikely appearences on children's TV of the early 80s, and also because there's a loose tie-in here with our next Covermount which will be uploaded on Thursday and we reckon really is the one that'll get us in the Guardian Film & Music music blog column, former Smash Hits cover stars and one semi-hit wonders Department S perform the tremendous doomy new wave of Is Vic There? on Cheggers Plays Pop. Note the sideways on mike holding stance as if Vaughan Toulouse (oh yes?) were Alvin Stardust himself.

VIRAL MARKETING: A week away from A Weekend In The City and Bloc Party have pulled the old different-singles-for-different-markets switcheroo on us. Here's the video for I Still Remember.

FALLING OFF A BLOG: We've been lacking themed music blogs for a while, and randomising is as good a theme as ever. The Side Room is filing through a large pile of old largely independent 7" singles in a set of podcasts, the latest featuring the Primitives, Orange Juice, the Box Tops, the Go-Betweens and Brilliant Corners.

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: Pandora FM: listen to stuff on Pandora, have it scrobbled by Last FM. Don't ask us, we just do typing.

IN OTHER NEWS: Touch And Go Records celebrated its 25th anniversary last year with a 31-band birthday blowout in Chicago, and every Monday they're uploading live and interview footage from at least most of them, no small beer when you consider the list includes the reformed Big Black, Shellac, Calexico, Quasi, !!!, Man...or Astroman?, Girls Against Boys, CocoRosie, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, The Black Heart Procession, Pinback and more.

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