- Not a great deal to write home about this week, shown up mostly by how the big single of the week we covered two weeks ago having only then found out it'd been helpfully moved back. It's not like Hitten has got any worse in the last fortnigt, fortunately. Otherwise it's off to your friendly local download store for Feist's reissuing of My Moon My Man and, on the somewhat inevitable Valentine's Day digital release, the Hot Sex EP from perhaps the only band you'd trust with something called the Hot Sex EP, the Young Playthings. And for a curveball, seek out Tennessean singer-songwriter-arranger Nitasha Jackson, who's done a piano and vocal alone close-miked Tori Amos-ish cover of the Maccabees' First Love. And it works too, as the increasingly busy Weekender Records have found it amenable enough to put out on 7".
- Despite what you're told, there is no real hard and fast way of getting up to speed with the whole of the sprawling alternative scene. But there are ways of trying, few better than Rough Trade's annual Counter Culture series, now up to Counter Culture 07. The mighty Atlas is on it, and also featuring this year: Vampire Weekend, Julian Cope, Jeffrey Lewis, Holy Fuck, Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, Von Sudenfed, Panda Bear, Of Montreal, the Fire Engines, Dirty Projectors, the Manhattan Love Suicides, Glasvegas, Soulsavers, Peggy Sue & The Pirates, Justice and Let's Wrestle.
- Let's Wrestle? Who they? Well, they a scrappy London trio, associates of the bafflingly overrated Pete & The Pirates, who claim audible influence from Vic Godard and the Subway Sect, Felt, Art Brut, Pavement, The Clean, Swell Maps and Television Personalities and inaudible influence from quite a few others, which is never a bad thing. Scuzzy post-C86 ahoy, then, on mini-album In Loving Memory Of... They have a song, not on this, called I Wish I Was In Husker Du, for the love of the usual non-specific deities!
COMING SOON: Husker Du, you say? (This is all working out terrifyingly well. We're almost approaching semi-professional writing standards) Bob Mould - a former pro wrestling writer, to stretch the chain well beyond snapping point, and for extra pointless trivia marks the writer of the Daily Show theme - has a new album out tomorrow, District Line by name. Mould has just about reached the point where every single new album of his is widely referred to as his return to form collection, when the truth is he's never really had a dip in ability. Yes, we're standing up for Modulate. How d'you like them apples? Anyway, the album is a cross-section of his post-Husker Du career styles while the single is a Sugar-gone-FM big old slab of heavy riffing called The Silence Between Us.
MYSPACE INVADERS: It's a wonder there's not already pockets of cult camps across the country to Southampton's Thomas Tantrum. They wear their unpretty poppy influences on their sleeves - Shake It Shake It is a facsimile of Life Without Buildings if Sue Tompkins had got round to singing in proper phrases occasionally - they come across as unpretentious proper indie goodness, a bit like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs doing Heavenly.
VISUAL AID: You! You like Arcade Fire, the Decemberists, the Mountain Goats, Of Montreal, Okkervil River, Broken Social Scene and/or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, do you? In that case you're experiencing the children of a cast-iron touchstone that in America hits ten years old today. Neutral Milk Hotel's In The Aeroplane Over The Sea - 18 out of 21 UK Amazon reviews five star - is an extended rewrite as an outsider of the Anne Frank story and the work of a spectacularly singular writing and arrangement talent in Jeff Magnum. The band broke up after the tour to support the album and Magnum has rarely been seen since (although he guests on In The Aeroplane... producer Robert Schneider's band Apples In Stereo's last album) so clips aren't that commonplace, but even so variously with the band and Magnum solo we have versions of The King of Carrot Flowers Pts. Two & Three, In the Aeroplane Over The Sea, Two-Headed Boy, Holland 1945, Oh Comely and Ghost.
* More YouTube! "Post-Punk Junk is a new weekly half-hour of music videos and live performances from the bands in the late 1970s and early 1980s who dedicated themselves to fulfilling punk's unfinished musical revolution (The Stranglers, Gang of Four, Joy Division, PiL, The Fall, Cabaret Voltaire, The Slits et al)" And there's eighteen clips' worth of it on their videos page, featuring videos and rare live clips and television performances.
* We dunno, you can't keep Miki Berenyi down now. Lush, yes, then, as everyone's mate knew in the late 90s, subediting for TV Times, followed by years of silence and suddenly you can't keep her away from the spotlight. Actually, that's a complete overstatement, but after all that period away tending to life, and just as former bandmate Emma Anderson's Sing Sing break up, she's just given her second interview in about four months. This time, not only has she opened her heart to The Von Pip Musical Express, she's opened her photo album too. She's also making her first appearance on record in eight years (she contributed to a record by Cocteau Twins associate Mitsuo Tate in 2000) with Seinking Ships, a collaboration between one Christopher Seink and Eric Matthews, once of Cardinal and later of Mark Radcliffe-adored Fanfare fame.
* After last week, more people with the inclination to put every thought to monitor. That man Mould has long run Boblog, a mix of news updates and a catalogue of his weekends out ("Been slumming in Soho, tonkering in Vauxhall, big clubbing at the Arches, and a quick trip to Paris as well"). While we're not overly keen on the music he makes with Mick Jones as Carbon/Silicon Tony James' blog is an involving and entertaining read, while at the opposite end of the career scale Dananananaykroyd bring much the same distilled noise and confusion to their writing as they do their music. Let us know about any non-Myspace musician blogs we've not covered before, because it fills the space. Oh, Hadouken! as well, yeah.
* In 1981 one Robert Mackie briefly became pen pals with a young author of a book about the New York Dolls. A year later the other end of the correspondence met a bloke calling himself Johnny Marr and formed a band and songwriting partnership with him. The letters survive, were published in a fanzine and were recently typed up by Torr - curt, sarcastic, funny, in lover's turmoil and music fan's abeyance.