Sunday, February 04, 2007

In shops tomorrow: 5/2

Singles

Oh alright, you got us. Over the last few weeks we've finally, as some would have it, fallen increasingly for the Long Blondes' Giddy Stratospheres, their big shot tune and fulsome replica of New Wave disco exactly like Blondie doing Franz. The best thing we've seen in ages was their Rolling Stone magazine new band recommendation about a month ago, more precisely the group photo caption which, albeit possibly not in this order but definitely in this style, read 'The Long Blondes (from left): Chaplin, Cox, Jackson, Louder, Hollis'. Taking the name of Screech Louder at face value, there. While we're about girl-fronted dramatists we've not mentioned the Hot Puppies on here before as far as we can remember, so we should - sporting the glam slam of Blondie, the attitude of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the girl groupy sass of the Shangri-Las, they're growing on us at an almost alarming rate. Plus the drummer's called Bert, which is inessential information but somehow pleasing. How Come You Don't Hold Me No More? is reissued on 7". Clinic - always changing, always the same - seem to have dropped right off the radar, even Domino's now they've got a quid or two to spend. At least the promo budget stretches to a reliably frazzled second single from Visitations, If You Could Read Your Mind. Still in two minds about Kate Nash (she's this year's Lily Allen, you may have read), as indeed is her new double A-sided 7" instantly becoming the most publicised release on Moshi Moshi's excellent vinyl singles club - Caroline's A Victim is skin-crawling toytown electrothud, Birds gorgeous and quietly sophisticated folk-pop. Meanwhile over on Memphis Industries it's time to wheel out Tokyo Police Club on full blast, Cheer It On preceding the mini-album debut of raw fuzzy Buzzcockian moves.

Albums

Just so you don't get confused, slagging off Klaxons for no good reason is last week's thing. It's all slagging off Bloc Party for no good reason now. Keep up. Let us step forward, then, and say that while we're still not sure it's as consistently great as Silent Alarm A Weekend In The City is a very strong album. We've heard it said it's veering into populist Coldplay/U2 territory, through hiring Jacknife Lee, but actually we'd go the other way - if the delayed, flanged guitars are edging towards The Edge territory they're still fundamentally exciting, even if Matt Tong seems to have been locked in a shed at points, and Kele's lyrics have openly gone from cryptic to openly honest, examining the London around him and where and how he fits into British society. It's not as concept album as such but clearly it's themed around not finding a happy time in the city, expressed through anger, vulnerability and towards the end a unique strain of wistful reminiscence. SXRT does turn into Snow Patrol, but we can just about forgive that. Kele's mates the Noisettes also release an album this week, What's The Time Mr Wolf making a valiant attempt at capturing their extraordinarily hyperkinetic blues-punk live show in a mixing desk bottle. Rose Kemp takes up the Polly Harvey end of the new spectrum of female singer-songwriters, not afraid to let ferocity eke through A Hand Full Of Hurricanes' brooding soundscapes while working the folk influences of her Steeleye Span parentage into her personal darkness. Really worth keeping an ear out for, this one. We've been waiting a long time - notably a lot less long than America - for a Lady Sovereign album, which does give Public Warning the air of a London grime/rap renaissance boat being missed. And they've stuck the Pretty Vacant cover on the end just to seal its fate. Now that Britain is finally coming round to the Decemberists' way of thinking someone has decided it's time to launch 2004 EP The Tain officially on us. A single eighteen-minute track split into five sections (and based, inevitably, on historical mythology, in this case the Ulster Cycle tale Táin Bó Cúailnge) doesn't seem that daunting now we've had an album track of the same length in three movements, but in that time it progresses through a hell of a lot. We've never quite got on so well with Deerhoof's art-prog no-wave, but Friend Opportunity is the closest we've got so far. Cold War Kids give us the affecting if uneven Robbers And Cowards, Funeral For A Friend frontman Matt Davies has evidently always had a rootsy alt-country side to his work so he's called it The Secret Show and put out Impressionist Road Map Of The West, while Frank Black's Christmass is apparently only named as his father always wanted him to put out a festive album - in fact it's a collection of live and acoustic lo-fi recordings, from new songs to, well, Wave Of Mutilation, Where Is My Mind and Cactus. Sorry, Frank, but when you have a watertight legacy... Speaking of which yesterday, as in Saturday, was the fortieth anniversary of Joe Meek's death. While there's not been that much fuss made about it in the press, the documentary film mentioned in Weekender some time last year is close to release and there's a handful of tie-in compilations coming out this month, leading with Vampires Cowboys Spacemen and Spooks: The Very Best Of Joe Meek's Instrumentals. Obviously you've never heard of anyone on it bar the Tornadoes but it mostly pushes the sonic envelope for the late 50s well back. A couple of tracks are credited to the Joe Meek Orchestra. A full one? How would they have all fit into the flat he built his studio in? Were the neighbours unable to get up the stairs for all the brass and timpani in the way for an afternoon? Late Night Tales: Compiled By Nouvelle Vague is pretty much as you'd expect, all new wave and chanson, and very unlike Mint Royale, whose best of Pop Is... features that rubbish Singin' In The Rain cover after one of the duo had left, that one that sampled Prince Buster onstage banter (from his live album with the Selecter, in fact) and that one that had Noel Fielding in the video but opens as all albums ever should do, or at least provide an equivalent of, the still something special Don't Falter. Laverne, we know you're enjoying yourself these days, we know you're winning awards and that, but... recording studio? At least just once more?

Books

Don't worry, we'll keep it brief now. Billy Bragg: Still Suitable for Miners is onto its second revision since its 1998 release, Andrew Collins off the radio's official biography adding, according to the official blurb, "Billy's thoughts on the London bombings and the BNP's success in his hometown of Barking in May 2006, both of which lead to debates on multiculturalism and Englishness, subjects increasingly close to Billy's heart." Hasn't he just written a book himself about all this?

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