Sunday, February 03, 2008

Weekender : taking more water with it

- Feeling ideologically compromised, creatively stifled and financially bereft, Field Music went on hiatus last April. Not in the Sleater-Kinney sense of the term, as they played two local gigs just before Christmas and have said they may well produce more work under that name eventually, but for the time being it's an organisational umbrella in name only. While we wait for Peter and Andrew to get moving - former in the summer, we hear - David Brewis is first off the blocks with School Of Language's Sea From Shore. If the updated 70s AOR pop radio arrangements and general air is still prevalent from both Field Music albums, this time it's been sliced up and given an experimentally playful edge, given help by Barry and Jaff from the Futureheads and Kenickie's divine Marie du Santiago (apparently so, we can't make any female vocals out). It's essentially a continuation from Tones Of Town, but in such a way that you couldn't imagine it coming out of that band's framework, which was surely the point all along.

- The thing with that piece about female singer-songwriters we did a couple of weeks ago is that the vast majority of those around at the moment cannot by any means be dismissed as a New Lily/Kate/Amy on terms of having ovaries and melodic sense. And while lissom girls in the 18-21 bracket bred on their parents' Joni Mitchell albums are a good subset in themselves it will always be so, especially if they're like Laura Marling. Talked up early on as a female Jamie T, mostly by people thinking promoting someone as a female Jamie T might be a profitable thing, collaborating with the Rakes and featured somewhere on that Babyshambles fronted Janie Jones cover, she's evolved into quite the delicate post-Skins Laura Nyro via Kristen Hersh on Alas I Cannot Swim. Now concentrate: out this wee is the Song Box, a limited run of 5,000 boxes which contains the album, mementoes to tie in with each song on the album and a free ticket, cashed in online at, to one of her dates in March (Glasgow, Birmingham, London, Bristol and Manchester - so if you get one and you're in Wales, Yorkshire or East Anglia, you're fucked). The proper version is released next Monday. Clear?

- The power of Sweeping The Nation: just a year and a half after we fell unconditionally for the chamber choral avant-garde post-Sufjan/BSS outfit Anathallo they release a single in the UK. It's a 7" of Hanasakajijii (Four: A Great Wind More Ash) from Floating World, their 2006 album which isn't being concurrently released. New one on the way, see, and they're doing debut UK dates supporting Manchester Orchestra starting on the 9th - damn those too early last trains! - as well as a headliner of their own at London Water Rats on the 19th. Big Scary Monsters, building a certain reputation with Meet Me In St Louis, House of Brothers, Yndi Halda, This Town Needs Guns (supporting on that London date) and Cats And Cats And Cats, is the label, tremendous is the record. But you knew that two years ago, right?

- The 33 1/3 series, the little books of anything but calm, have reached volume 52, with Carl Wilson (not the drowned one, a writer for Canada's Globe And Mail) writing about Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love. Now, says the reflex reaction, stop right there. The previous two books in the series were on If You're Feeling Sinister and Pink Moon, so obviously adding to the canon with a 31 million worldwide selling album that features My Heart Will Go On is some flavour of arch hipster post-modern irony, yes? No. Subtitled A Journey To The End of Taste, Wilson instead holds court on why Celine has never made it to anything like positive reappropriation and how it reflects the notion of musical taste and natural bias. Oh, just read his own words on the matter.

COMING SOON: Tindersticks, Nottingham through-a-glass-darkly lush realists, are back after a five year break. Stripped back to the original three members and largely relocated to the Limousin region of France for The Hungry Saw, released 28th April. Their new official Myspace has a downloadable track, The Flicker Of A Little Girl, which suggests business as unusual.

MYSPACE INVADERS: Dýrðin - there's a name made for copying and posting - may be from Reykjavik and sing a lot in their native language but they're hotwired into a very British and latterly Swedish twee indiepop mentality. They formed in 1994, when Heavenly were at their uncommercial peak, and that's the name you're most likely to reach for in comparison as well as Bearsuit's costumed exuberance and the light/dark balance of the best of Sarah Records. This stuff's coming back into fashion, y'know. Or maybe we're just hoping it will. Whatever.

VISUAL AID: Writing regarding Pop Britannia the week before last, we were intrigued by how television got to grips with this new world of rock'n'roll and how it balanced precariously between light entertainment and the stuff that made the girls scream. Oh Boy! was the ITV show Jack Good set up to showcase the best of the day's talent, and the entire last show from May 1959 is online. As well as the snappy editing from performance to performance, also enjoy:
Part One: The TV Hop, Lord Rockingham's XI with the far superior to Hoots Man (and previously featured, yes) Ra Ra Rockingham, a song called Let's Rock While The Rockin's Good and a mad piece of role playing in song from the good Lord's organist Cherry Wainer;
Part Two: the oil-haired Dickie Pride, When the Saints Go Marching In of all youth touchstones, Dirty Old Town and the none more 1950s Vernons Girls, one of whom later went on to Joe Meek's mad idea of a girl group The Sharades;
Part Three: Cliff demonstrating the Advanced Elvis lessons he got from Good, he, Marty Wilde and Pride singing Three Cool Cats while looking anything but and a shout-out to the lighting director. Wonder what happened between then and September 12th?

* Clinic release their sixth album proper, Do It!, on April 7th, and we're already fairly confident we know what it'll sound like. Or are we? Their website is giving away a free track, inevitably the one called Free Not Free, as a download along with fresh song Thor. The former is a fine slice of distorted lounge psychedelia, and although Ade Blackburn plus surgical mask still produces unintelligible words it actually doesn't sound a lot like their previous work.

* Blog of the week, or at least it would be had we not stopped doing that, is Fun And Heartbreak, in which a phalanx of bloggers, some of whom we've covered here before, post on the topic of, well, "fun and heartbreak, the essentials of life". Mostly the latter, if we're honest.

* Bands get into this whole blogging business too, and we enjoy this as well. How Many Burritos Can Jeff Eat? collects the innermost thoughts of the Spinto Band, while any attempt at lingering mystique about the maintainers of Camera Obscura is instantly rendered non-existent. Recent STN favourites Gossamer Albatross have fired up a Blogspot account as well, bringing news of recording sessions with Hugo Manuel of Jonquil, which makes complete sense.

* How would you like to name a song? Monster Bobby, Cassette head and near-impenetrable sample-driven singer-songwriter behind our 28th favourite album of 2007, has written this track but can't think of a decent title for it. If you can, message his Myspace, the winner receiving some sort of prize. As a guide, his forthcoming second album is called Forty Winks. It's forty songs, all a minute long (even though that one's 1:50), about sleeping. As we said, near-impenetrable.

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