Plenty to go round this week, although most of the really interesting stuff is vinyl only and you'll probably already have it on download. In that case, screw you. There are some CDs holding up the fort, most notably a record that shouldn't by rights be any good at all, not least because it's the first single from a second album that "expands their sound", it's about meeting industry types backstage and very much not least because it's called Brianstorm. But, yes, there's something about this new Arctic Monkeys (for it is they) single that appeals, if only its clattering double-dipped intro that would have had the NME calling them nu-rave were they a new band. Camera Obscura seem determined to wring every last drop of Let's Get Out Of This Country dry, fourth single Tears For Affairs being no lesser for the experience, but if you don't already have the album you're missing out. A quick check for the return of Herman Dune, whose I Wish That I Could See You Soon has got him/them onto The Box, and to the delights vinyl racks. Frustrating delights, in a way, as despite our mentioning all three in past In Shops having been assured they'd be out then, the elastic release schedule means it's not until tomorrow that the 7"s from Electric Soft Parade (If That's The Case Then I Don't Know), Peter Bjorn & John (Objects Of My Affection) and The Strange Death Of Liberal England (A Day Another Day) are actually released. And you don't want to know what's happening with Friends Of The Bride. Because too much has been invested in it already we're fairly positive it's from tomorrow that you can finally pick up Thou Shalt Always Kill, only as a limited edition 7", so clearly they're not expecting much of a chart boost the natural way. Dinosaur Jr's album is getting rave reviews across the board, whether through actual achievement or relief of a return that isn't as bad as the Stooges one we can't yet say, but Been There All The Time is like Lou never went away. Apologies for coming across like a broadsheet hack stunned by the concept of teenagers making music but we've been plugging away at Cajun Dance Party for a while on the Weekly Sweep and while we remain partly unconvinced that they're not going to be one of those bands who have one spectacular single and then watch the spark fizzle away like a Roman Candle, The Next Untouchable, compared to the Kooks by fucking idiots, brings Marresque janglepop into our post-Libertines world and lets it wreak havoc. The single mix is all wrong, mind. Field Music very rarely get the mix wrong, such is the precision craft with which Tones Of Town was made. Still one of our absolute favourites of the year, and do ignore columnists going "ooh, 10cc!" at all costs. She Can Do What She Wants is its third single and supposedly the last before a hiatus on account of having used up Memphis Industries' advance, or so they told the Times and Pitchfork, although they've just announced a date supporting, of all bands, Deerhoof in June, so who knows what's going on. Joan As Police Woman's album of last year Real Life was a slow burning but not much less accomplished effort, Flushed Chest supporting a tour. We'd never clocked Monkey Swallows The Universe before but they're onto their second album, previewed by the shimmering tweecore of Little Polveir (named after a Grand National winner, topicality fans).
We don't mind admitting we're late to Blonde Redhead, picking up on 2004's Misery Is A Butterfly and thus missing all the noisepop stuff. Whatever, 23 posits them as a superior dreampop band, smoother than the last album but still driven by MBV-esque washes, obscure half-heard lyrics and inventive twists and background instrumentation. Their most engaging work, and a triumph. It hardly needs repeating again that this is a real boom period for Anglophiliac summery Swedish pop - witness our recent support for Peter Bjorn & John, I'm From Barcelona, Suburban Kids With Biblical Names and Hello Saferide, plus a couple of new bands to us that we'll be posting tracks by over on Corporate Anthems this week. Primary among the invading fleet is I'm From Barcelona associate Emil Svanängen, better known as Loney, Dear. Newly signed to Sub Pop in the States and picked up by Regal in the UK, fourth album Loney, Noir flirts with cutesiness but always remains well within a bittersweet indiepop sensibility that owes as much to the Shins and Belle & Sebastian. Like one of our breakout favourites of 2006, Owen 'Final Fantasy' Pallett, Andrew Bird is a violin proficient, loop pedal owning multi-instrumentalist of singular chamber folk talent. Armchair Apocrypha features more guitars than usual but no fewer offbeat melodics. Ignore the point-missing Stop Me, there's much daring to like about Mark Ronson's Version. OK, maybe not Robbie Williams doing The Only One I Know, but the Motown and psychedelic baggy touches throughout often come off better than you might think, and we have a definite yen for Amy Winehouse resuscitating Valerie as Wigan Casino nothern soul. There's no mention of it on Smalltown America's website but Jetplane Landing's 2004 single There Is No Real Courage Unless There Is Real Danger is in the release listings for this week, so let's run with it. We say 'single'; in fact it features 23 tracks, comprising three proper B-sides, a student radio session and an entire live set from May 2004 recorded at the Islington Academy. At least it's stopped us going on about their forthcoming album ad infinitum. Now that the Decemberists are finally taking off every last bit of their back catalogue is receiving UK issue, culminating (we think) with 2003 EP 5 Songs, their first release in America on the small Hush Records label.
Also in album releases this week is a whole wodge of Slade remasters from across their career, if not any of the most fondly remembered just yet. More interesting is Slade In Flame, their 1974 film satire on the music industry. Initially commissioned on the basis that it'd be a seventies A Hard Day's Night, it actually ended up more inspired by gangster movies, ending up as a kind of working man's club Spinal Tap. The same production company made Performance and Bugsy Malone, which figures. There's something likeable about Ben Folds' approach in the way he gets people onside ("his concerts are charismatic, yet calm. Folds varies on whims between many consecutive songs and fragmentation by spurts of comedic banter with the crowd" says Wikipedia), and he does have something of a committed fanbase, some of whom turn up on Ben Folds: Live At Myspace, a one-off gig to promote last year's Supersunnyspeedgraphic album rather than a gig round Tom's house. He covers the Postal Service's Such Great Heights therein, which we'd like to hear. Finally, although it's not on Amazon, some sites are reporting a debut on Region 2 this week for R Kelly's Trapped In The Closet. Spatula!
The Phil Spector trial finally seems to be lurching into life at just about the same time that his name and methods are being invoked by a host of new artists. Timely, then, that Mick Brown has produced an extensive biography, Tearing Down The Wall Of Sound: The Rise And Fall Of Phil Spector, attempting both to put him in his position as an auteur of the decade that changed everything in pop and establish the person from the myths and legends. Brown even got to speak to Spector at the outset of writing. After the indie circuit success of The Devil And Daniel Johnston someone had to follow up with a biography just to make sense of it all, and Don Goede and Tarssa Yazdani step up to the challenge with Hi, How Are You?, chronicling his life and art through rare photos, exclusive artwork and extensive interviews. Jon Savage has long been one of our music writing heroes, as evidenced both by England's Dreaming and his writing anthology Time Travel, so his social history of youth culture Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875-1945 should be worth a look. More so, you suspect, than My Word, Terry Christian's memoirs of his time in television, which we include as a cautionary tale.