We have a longstanding and if not totally complete then certainly getting towards that way antipathy towards re-recordings of previous singles. They hardly ever improve on the original and they're more often than not just an excuse to rile the completists and make a new video that's not as good as the original. See under: Klaxons' Gravity's Rainbow, now with less affable scrappiness, bloopy inserts where unbroken riffage used to be (we see, you're rave influenced, yeah?) and a hiding of that speeding up trick near the end. All bands please note, there's a reason why the phrase "it's not as immediate as the demos" is in increasing use. In fact, everyone's going the commercial route this week that can afford to, Bloc Party with the Snow Patrol-if-they-were-still-influenced-by-Lou Barlow I Still Remember, Patrick Wolf with the title track from The Magic Position. The marketing of this has been very odd, appearances on T4, Popworld and most notoriously The Charlotte Church Show ("what is it??? i thought patrick is talented like david bowie but not Prince and Charlotte is awfull...((( reminds Evrouvision song contest in bad sense") being presented without explanation of who this red-topped gypsy beanpole actually is and what he should mean to the pop kids, this single not exactly colonising radio in its spare time. We appreciate he's said this is where he's wanted to be all along (and he's remixed the new Mika single, remembering to make mincemeat of it along the way), but something's still not quite right. Of course, the pop firmament isn't for everyone. Mark E Smith would scare the Charlotte Church audience, for instance - Reformation crawls out from the latest album. And there's no way 65daysofstatic could ever make a proper crossover, which is fair enough when moments of delicate glitch like Don't Go Down To Sorrow are around. The Shins are a top ten album band now but always likely to be more critically revered than socially so, Australia heralding a tour. The 7" only section welcomes Peter Bjorn & John giving free rein to Objects Of My Affection, one of the highlights of a slow building wonderful album in Writer's Block.
While it's not like we've been wanting over the last eighteen months or so for new music inspired by 60s soul and girl group sounds (stop calling it doo-wop, journalists, it isn't), or indeed as we've mentioned on many occasions bands that owe a stylistic debt to St Etienne's retro-modernist heights, the eventual arrival this week of Lucky Soul's debut album is a beacon in itself for joyous Motown/Memphis/Spector/Shirelles majestic soul-pop. The Great Unwanted simply takes the promise of their four singles and runs with it to new heights. They really are fulfilling the promise of becoming one of those rare bands to treasure and take to your heart, air-punchingly wondrous and heartrending in equal measure, both revelling in the highs and seeing through the melancholic lows while asserting their outsider status from Cool Lists and the like. But then the NME will never 'get' this, not with this many caution to the wind hooks, melodies and daydream melodramas, led by Ali Howard's exquisite voice. How they've got this full sound from a home brewed operation - it's on their own Ruffa Lane records - is beyond us, but that's the possibilities of modern music for you. As British Summer Time kicks in and we enjoy the first proper decent spell of weather of the year, this is the album that could make your summer. In terms of artist albums it's singular Americana wherever you look elsewhere, from Conor Oberst's lapse back into philosophically politicised, alt-countrified Dylanologist, reviewer long word spouting territory, featuring M Ward, Gillian Welch and Sleater-Kinney/Quasi/Malkmus skinbeater Janet Weiss, on Bright Eyes' Cassadaga; the latest confusing outpourings from the Casady sisters' faux-naive scratchy folk-hip hop minds on CocoRosie's The Adventures of Ghosthorse And Stillborn; and Bill Callahan no longer trading as Smog but still on the path of baritone part-confessional blues-folk gospel on Woke On A Whaleheart, an album which provides Klaxons' only serious contender so far for the title of worst cover art of 2007. Dance To The Radio are making a habit of occasional round tables of exciting new acts, this one titled Something I Learned Today and featuring Sky Larkin, I Was A Cub Scout, This Et Al, Black Wire, Laura Groves, Foreign Born, :( and Read Yellow, who have marked the occasion by splitting up. On the reissue front the entire Sly & The Family Stone back catalogue has been cleaned, expanded and stuck back out, five albums of paranoid political party frazzled acid casualty psychedelic soul funk in total, the two that changed things being Stand! - Everyday People, I Want To Take You Higher, Woodstock set - and There's A Riot Goin' On - Family Affair, drug haze paranoia, no amount of remastering able to improve the murky sound resulting from Stone's continual overdubbing and track wiping. The Pop Group could be frazzled politicised dub sonic engineers too, although in a very different Bristolian wiry post-punk area, Y their 1979 debut. Okkervil River's last album, only released in mid-2005, has been out in so many forms in Britain it's getting ridiculous, but this one is apparently Black Sheep Boy (Definitive Edition) including EP tracks and the mini-album Appendix filler, so that's alright then. It's still a superb example of the new American underground wordiness and well worth tracking down should you be of the Decemberists/Sparklehorse/Mountain Goats/old Modest Mouse persuasion.