We haven't actually been able to find the last two issues of Britpop-flavoured, previously advertised by us Phonogram near us, which with issue 5 of 6 now out means we've missed quite a bit of plot development. We are however led to believe that in this issue David Kohl gains a spirit guide who bears a not dissimilar resemblance to Luke Haines. Not dissimilar in that we're sure he had longer hair in 1993, but never mind. The actual but no less worth following Haines has an EP out this week led by Leeds United, and it's alleged that the club asked him if he'd mind performing it at half time at Elland Road some time, which suggests someone hasn't been listening properly, or indeed ever heard of Haines and his reputation before. No less mordant but somewhat less misanthropic, Bill Callahan has dropped the Smog monicker but not the alt-folk-country wry noir on Diamond Dancer. As a former paramour of Chan Marshall and current squeeze of Joanna Newsom we're guessing he appreciated an offbeat, mildly mystical female singer, so someone should post him Bat For Lashes' album post haste. The single version of Prescilla, now with added horns, isn't nearly as bad as we intimated the other week but we still prefer the album and live versions. The hype machine's gone all quiet around I Was A Cub Scout, the Nottinghamshire teenage duo who were exciting plenty at the end of last year, despite the continued New Order meets digital Bright Eyes aura of I Hate Nightclubs. David Francolini, formerly of Levitation and Dark Star, forms half of quietly doomy electro outfit Dragons, who debut with Here Are The Roses; this year's Mylo, Calvin Harris, shows up with the quietly infectious, Bowie vocal style-cribbing Acceptable In The 80s, and on 7" Electrelane preview April's atypically upbeat fourth album No Shouts, No Calls with To The East. In mail order news Darren Hayman has two EPs out, Table For One: The Dessert Menu being out-takes from his album sessions and Eastbourne Lights "the third in a series of EPs documenting Darren's British Holidays. Recorded on a Fostex 4-track tape machine at the Seabeach House Hotel, Eastbourne over two days during May 2006".
"I recently saw this album chart from the early '70s - every record in the Top 10 was of total merit: Hendrix, Lennon, Dylan, Neil Young, Zeppelin... Our problem is we just don't have high expectations anymore. The mean musical IQ hasn't gone down since Ziggy, but slowly we've had little bits of opportunity to flex our minds taken away: a little bit more market research into what will be a hit, a little more centralisation of music outlets - we're slowly getting, not dumber, but more ignorant."
If James Murphy, speaking there to the Scotsman, painted himself into a corner with Losing My Edge, consigning himself to years of being accused of pandering to his neatly laid out influences no matter how much he made it out to be mere self-deprecation getting the first blow in on himself first, at least he has the wit and foresight to do something with them. Sound Of Silver, taking the electro-punk-funk influences that shaped the eponymous first album (which is concurrently back out at mid-price and isn't "a bit beige" as Murphy is wont to quote at the moment) and pulls them out of elastic whack. More self-aware, swaggering and cohesive, machine-turned rhythmic beyond average yet invested with a beating heart and at times a core of wistfulness for New York gone, this is clearly an album Hadouken! will never make. Yes, it's a clever album, but with brains hotwired to somewhere other than offputting uberhipster cleverness. You'll be hearing more of this, most likely round about the second half of December when we all get bogged down in clever list making. The Mules' Save Your Face, namechecked to us by Emmy The Great (they headlined the Drowned In Sound gig she curated in October), resembles a schizophrenic Young Knives taking in spaghetti-polka-folk and is well worth investigating, actually came out last August and is getting a properly distributed bells and whistles re-release this week, but we missed it at the time too so it's not worth worrying about integrity that much. Les Incompetents didn't make a lot more linear sense but then surely they were never meant to, their uber-DIY self-effacing approach derailed by real life and to some extent reflected in End Of An Error: 2004-2006. The Frank And Walters pre-empted the current mid-table indie reformation craze by doing so in 1997 - Indian Ocean was on one of The Vault channel's Chart Show repeats the other week - and they continue their new seriousness on A Renewed Interest In Happiness. Reissues? No question of where to start, as one of our very favourite new wave bands, Magazine, are re-releasing their first three, for which read only three really good, albums, the full on artpunk of Real Life, the icy keyboard-led Secondhand Daylight and the dynamic irkedness of Martin Hannett produced The Correct Use Of Soap. Folk-rock's almost supergroup Pentangle have been heavily re-evaluated since earnest young fingerpickers re-emerged a few years ago, although we're guessing casual fans might want to start elsewhere given The Time Has Come is a 4 CD set. And after the comprehensive mess we made of last week's busy schedule we're not surprised we missed one, although given it's an album we'd previously featured there's every reason for a heavy self-kicking spree - Ballads of the Book, the collaborative effort between Scottish poets and bands (see here for more details - the mp3 doesn't work any more, but we've posted a couple over at Corporate Anthems as recompense)
There's a few Blondie DVDs out in the next few weeks for some reason, led by Blondie: Live. Never the best regarded of live bands, this is at least from a period when they were all speaking to each other, namely after their 1999 comeback.