FREE MUSIC: Chicago's Office started off as a spinoff of a conceptual art project of frontman and producer Scott Masson on the subject of office and city life and working/enjoyment environments. Luckily little of this is in evidence on his band's debut album proper A Night At The Ritz, released two weeks ago in the US on Scratchie Records, the label co-owned by ex-Smashing Pumpkin James Iha and Fountains Of Wayne's Adam Schlessinger. Think the latter rather than the former, with a good deal of danceable new wave and power pop of the XTC/Posies type, like a less Curey Editors. The Ritz is, according to Masson, "loosely based on a dream I had in the summer of 2006. I was stuck at some fancy party at The Ritz... I was making out with my lover near the fountain, and diamonds were raining down upon us in slow motion from the chandeliers. All the men in tuxedos, and all the women wearing frocks vanished into thin air around my lover and I as we embraced, and this nightmare quickly became a wonderful dream. The goal was to create this experience within the confines of a pop song."
HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: Sheffield's Navvy came to our attention as their drummer is also in the lo-fi Long Blondes (who they've supported) disco party of formerly Myspaced Slow Down Tallahassee. Their sound tells you very little about Navvy's stripped back garage punk-funk, heavy on the rhythm section and not sounding so much like all the other obvious jerky influences of today but the more leftfield falling apart at the seams likes of Swell Maps, the Fire Engines, Stump and the Yummy Fur.
VISUAL REPRESENTATION: Bow down and kiss the cake icing, as it was Tim Westwood's fiftieth birthday last Wednesday. We've always thought that, as opposed to what any number of loosely aware pundits will tell you, he's fully aware of what he says and how he comes across, and certainly although there were plenty of explosions and shouting going on ten years ago when he started at Radio 1 it's only as his profile has increased that he's ramped all that up. None of which has much to do with this clip from August 1987 of BBC2's open access series Open Space and the self-produced documentary on early UK hip-hop culture Bad Meaning Good, featuring not only a handful of old-skool British scene faces but also Trevor Nelson seemingly popping into the then pirate Kiss FM on his way back from auditioning for Musical Youth.
VIRAL MARKETING: Darren Hayman has his second proper solo album, The Secondary Modern, coming out on 5th November, but this isn't that at all. In fact this is something you may recall we saw at End Of The Road Festival, a semi-secret outing for his bluegrass project Hayman Watkins Trout & Lee featuring two of Hayman's band plus Dave Tattersall of the Wave Pictures. A couple of their own (at least we think they are) were followed by a trio of covers, only two of which are recorded in full here, and no, you can't see us in any of the crowd panning shots.
FALLING OFF A BLOG: And Please, No Techno is primarily a dance blog, but not with the head-screwing technical talk many fall into regardless of who might be reading. They're also pleasingly cavalier with where their beats originate from, recently featuring uploads of Sparks, a Pointer Sisters remix, the Hellacopters, Etienne De Crecy's Super Discount work and XTC.
EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: Because presumably it seemed like a good idea at the time, critically acclaimed poet and former Mark Radcliffe regular Simon Armitage, 44, has formed a band. Not just a covers band with mates, though, but a proper studio band with a mate, The Scaremongers. "The Sound of Mature Huddersfield" have released a double A side of more than passing Orange Juice acquaintance but not a bad thing for that, and both sides are downloadable from the Myspace. Also, do have a look at their last.fm page, where somebody has taken it upon themselves to offer a critical overview and detailed career advice.
IN OTHER NEWS: In case you haven't seen it, play around with your own Win Butler.
IN OTHER OTHER NEWS: Michael Parkinson was bellyaching to the press the other week about how he has to fight tooth and nail to get Jamie Cullum and Diana Krall on his show because the massive selling artists aren't popular enough, so he says. With that in mind, why not watch Animal Collective on Late Night With Conan O'Brien.