Monday, March 31, 2008

It started with a mix - how did it come to this?

This week's Web 2.0 app of choice, literally so as it only went live last Tuesday, is a doozy as far as we're concerned - Muxtape, a probably highly illegal but when did that stop you before mixtape compilation program. All you have to do is sign up using the incredibly simple but effective GUI, upload up to twelve songs and once sorted into order you have a reflection of your particular musical snobbishness for all to enjoy. Or of course just listen to the multifarious other selections from the front page, finding new music as you go.

We've thrown together one of our own; now you have a go if you wish, posting the resultant URL in the comments.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Weekender : our content is sweet

- The last few weeks has seen an inordinate number of enthralling releases, a trend that continues throughout in April and on into May. This week, then, must be where the labels have a quick breather. Oh yeah, we mean once upon a time we would have gone overboard here about the prospect of REM album fourteen Accelerate, but we just can't get excited by it for many good reasons - the endless "return to form" party line parroting, the rarely lived up to "return to raw roots" sell, the rote nature of Supernatural Superserious, Jacknife Lee generally. Back to Life's Rich Pageant again, then. What else? Since we last heard from McLusky bass botherer Jon Chapple's Shooting At Unarmed Men he's split the group, moved to Australia and formed a new band, by sheer coincidence a gritty, angry trio called Shooting At Unarmed Men. Triptych comes on three four-track CDs, a Minutemen nod apparently, and still sounds like the sort of noise the rhythmic frontispiece of McLusky would sound like on its own. Mark Kozelek's third album as Sun Kil Moon, April features perennial indie cred collaborators Will Oldham and Ben Gibbard but for the most part remains on the track Kozelek has marked out since Red House Painters of minimal slowly unfolding narratives. This week's Nice An'All But There's No Reason For This, Is There? issue of the week - The Best Of The Specials, their fourth compilation, including a DVD of all the videos in case you didn't buy the DVD with all the videos on last week.

- Even the single schedule is muted this week, which leaves us to alight on little releases by two underappreciated talents, one new, one long established in a very quiet way, of what we'll call the indiepopfolk underground just to annoy people. The Rosie Taylor Project have been going for hardly any time but have already carved out a niche as a alt-country cousin to Camera Obscura - indeed despite being from Leeds they have the hallmarks of a certain Scottish popness. Second single A Good Café On George Street may have, as we've said before, one of the most unprepossessing titles we've seen but it has an undeniable shuffle and trumpet-aided joy overcoming tears that makes it completely unsuitable for these days of icy rainstorms. Meanwhile there's a new download single by Leicester's resident caustic songwriting genius MJ Hibbett and his band The Validators. It's Do The Indie Kid, which in the style of his own blog is GRATE, containing as it does a) dance steps; b) a namecheck for Linux; and c) a section which anyone who's seen him do it live will know represents the music of the future.

COMING SOON: After what seems like far too long Blood Red Shoes finally have an album ready, Box Of Secrets released on 14th April. Their protracted gestation and incessant touring means there's loads of it on YouTube, including album tracks Doesn't Matter Much - filmed at the Leicester Charlotte, so now you can see the stage we've spent far too many hours squinting at - Try Harder followed by Say Something Say Anything and a crackly This Is Not For You.

MYSPACE INVADERS: A band named after an Orange Juice song with a manifesto, a song dedicated to Daniel Kitson and David Kohl top of their Top Friends? It's like Falling And Laughing are trying too hard to attract our wandering schmindie eye. So here come the Field Mice, Postcard and Sarah Records namechecks and the wry bedroom diarist lyrics, but there's a strength to the writing that marks them aside from many suddenly on the same stylistic journey.

VISUAL AID: From our previous efforts you'll know we know what we mean when we talk about bad interviews, but even we'd be hard pushed to match this cub reporter's efforts in 1985 when faced with Black Flag's Henry Rollins and gets spectacularly pwned (note to ed. - pls check if this still in common usage with young), much in the same way, if now slightly more controlled, Rollins has recently to David Beckham and Woody Allen. In the broadcast media game you rarely get this, so even when someone like Luke Pritchard will come up against someone like Simon Amstell or someone like Pete Doherty ditto the entertainment is tempered by the fact that you know exactly what roads the host is leading his prey down; similarly you know that when running into Thom Yorke it might well be a difficult afternoon's work, but not as difficult as, say, Mark E Smith, here leaving Lauren Laverne grasping for oxygen. If he's made an art out of stonewalling in the face of diffidence, Sigur Ros deserve some sort of Dry Stone Marketing Board award for their awkwardness in the company of Luke Burbank of NPR. If you've ever read Andrew Collins' account of his live radio interview with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, this must have been much what it was like actually in the studio. Our favourite from UK telly, though, also involves Laverne, but this time only tangentially as she introduces Zane Lowe's run in with Nick Cave and Grinderman on the Culture Show. Watch at about the two thirds mark for where Cave visually realises he really is going to have to spend the entire interview disagreeing with Lowe's angle.

* A month has passed, so it's time for a new Welcome To Our TV Show! Jeremy and Fay's house guests this month are Ed Harcourt, female singer-songwriter One Little Plane (aided by Four Tet/Kieran Hebden) and performance poet Niall Spooner-Harvey. Part one leads into part two, the latter particularly entertaining from the extensive and, well, mixed reaction in the comments.

* It's roughly two and a half years, and they were at the end of the album cycle then, since we last saw the indie country disco of The Boy Least Likely To, during their ill-fated and, we're fairly sure, long since severed partnership with Simon Fuller's 19 Recordings. Their second album is on its way, preceded by a free download of I Box Up All The Butterflies (you have to concurrently sign up to their mailing list, but usually now you have to confirm your membership before they start sending you everything they can think of), which isn't a particularly huge move in any direction but is good to hear regardless. Jof occasionally blogs as well.

* We hadn't realised To Hell With online magazine was closing until we chanced across its final reviews in the week, and from there we found some audio time with Future Of The Left that despite the fuzzy sonic nature is well worth the effort, which being a Falkous enterprise runs the gamut from detailed explanation of the songs and sound to stuff about Colchester United.

* We don't usually do gig previews, because all the decent one-offs are, unlike us, in London, and besides we barely get out of the house and it'd be embarrassing. We're more than willing to flag up anything interesting coming up, though, which is why we were pleased to receive a communique regarding Ruffa Lane Records' The Ruffa Revue on April 17th at London's Astoria 2. Postponed from just before Christmas, it marks the return to gigging action of the label boss' band Lucky Soul, after a 2007 apparently including going top ten in Japan. Bet that was one of the Western Artists charts, anyone with a bit of glam and femininity can get into that. New album before the end of the year, apparently, some of which will be previewed here, with labelmates The Band-ish Grantura and Jens Lekman associate Montt Mardié supporting.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Weekly Sweep

And because there is just so much high quality stuff around at the moment it's a one-off rollover double Weekender, on the understanding that we'll never get to mention some of it again so might as well alert you to it in one great big lump.

  • 4 Or 5 Magicians - Change The Record [Myspace]
  • Anathallo - Noni's Field [Myspace] (Preview track from their forthcoming album Canopy Glow, and yes, this one is set for UK release. Word from their British label Big Scary Monsters' majordomo Kev is it's in his top three on the album)
  • Arthur And Martha - Autovia [Myspace] (He was in Saloon, she was in the Duloks, together they are early OMD versus Ladytron)
  • Blood Red Shoes - Say Something Say Anything [Myspace]
  • British Sea Power - No Lucifer [YouTube]
  • Broken Records - If The News Makes You Sad, Don't Watch It [Myspace] (For all that's good and proper, if you haven't already go and listen to and watch a bit of the Broken Records Toad Session, including a version of this song)
  • Clinic - The Witch (Made To Measure) [YouTube]
  • Death To Anders - Ghost Rock [Myspace]
  • dEUS - Slow [YouTube]
  • El Perro Del Mar - Jubilee [Myspace] (Not the single from second album From The Valley To The Stars - that's How Did We Forget?, also there - but better, we say)
  • Elbow - An Audience With The Pope [mp3 from A Plague Of Angels]
  • Fighting With Wire - Everyone Needs A Nemesis [Myspace]
  • ¡Forward, Russia! - Breaking Standing [Myspace]
  • Future Of The Left - Manchasm [YouTube]
  • Grammatics - D.I.L.E.M.M.A. [Myspace]
  • The Indelicates - America [YouTube]
  • Ipso Facto - Harmonise [Myspace] (Actually, despite having a Farfisa-ish organ, the singer being from Southend and the two bands being compared in every single piece of press, they don't really sound much like the Horrors. Stand yourself down)
  • Joan As Police Woman - To Be Loved [Myspace] (Again, a preview track from a second album, To Survive. She's just sold out the Roundhouse!)
  • Johnny Foreigner - Eyes Wide Terrified [Myspace]
  • Jonquil - The Weight Of Lying On Your Back [Myspace] (A new EP this time, led by a re-recorded version of Lions track Whistle Low, but again this is its superior)
  • Laura Marling - Cross Your Fingers
  • Lightspeed Champion - Galaxy Of The Lost [YouTube]
  • The Long Blondes - Century [Myspace]
  • Los Campesinos! - My Year In Lists [mp3 from JP's Blog, as well as details of their latest triumph of the free will concept single]
  • Make Model - The LSB [YouTube]
  • Minnaars - Spelt With A K Not A C [Myspace]
  • The Mystery Jets - Half In Love With Elizabeth [live YouTube] (Eleven studios and eight engineers on the album? Has Kevin Shields joined on the quiet?)
  • Noah & The Whale - Shape Of My Heart [Myspace]
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - We Call Upon The Author [Myspace] (Not the next single, unfortunately, although More News From Nowhere is no more likely to make playlists)
  • Portishead - Machine Gun [YouTube]
  • The Rosie Taylor Project - A Good Café On George Street [Myspace]
  • The School - All I Wanna Do [YouTube]
  • The Shortwave Set - No Social [Myspace]
  • Superman Revenge Squad - Idiot Food [Myspace]
  • Tokyo Police Club - Tesselate [Myspace]
  • The Voluntary Butler Scheme - Trading Things In [Myspace] (See, we've been meaning to get this in for weeks, and finally we find an excuse for the shoehorn)
  • Wake The President - You Can't Change That Boy [Myspace]
  • White Williams - New Violence [Myspace]
  • Why? - Song Of The Sad Assassin [YouTube]
  • Young Knives - Turn Tail [Myspace]
  • Thursday, March 27, 2008

    The Nation Favourites: 4 Or 5 Magicians

    Call us reckless, but we think there's a future in asking questions of some of our favourite bands, so that's what we're going to try and do more of. As opposed to our earlier attempts this item will be more regular, albeit shorter (we like to think 'snappier') and not with as many really famous but no less talented people. All the same, they will all be with artists we like and have supported in our own very small way and we thus want to get to know and share in their world and vision.

    Get on with it, you tosser.

    Anyway, the first Nation Favourite is Dan Ormsby, who is somewhere between vocalist/guitarist and 'everything' in Brighton's artfully disenchanted, Huw Stephens-approved, Los Campesinos! and Johnny Foreigner-supporting post-Pavementeers 4 Or 5 Magicians.

    So, what makes you so special then?

    In the current climate, the fact that we don't sound like The Human League? I don't know, this is probably just a question geared towards highlighting my arrogance and self-righteousness, which I'm not going to humour (unless I already did, whoops!) Don't worry though, I'm answering this question last, and I definitely do a bit of that later!

    Who inspired you to get into music/songwriting?

    It's always been nabbing away at me to write songs since I was a kid. When I was about twelve I wrote a song called "Pink Elephants" which was a straight Lightning Seeds rip. I still like The Lightning Seeds to this day, actually. I'd like to think I'd find the cassette of me tapping the desk and singing that song someday when my parents retire to Cornwall and make me empty out my room. For now I'll content myself with the casette of Like You Do... Best of The Lightning Seeds that is resident in the glovebox of my dad's car/our "tour bus". More specifically, when I first started a band in my teens, I was loving all the intelligent britpop (if that isn't an oxymoron) around at the time - Mansun, Supergrass, The Longpigs, Blur... I guess there's unintentional bits of them in my songs now. But yeah, my main influences are, sadly, mainly American bands from fifteen odd years ago who just said "fuck it" and wrote, in the main, great, simple, standard songs - REM, Nirvana, Sebadoh, Dinosaur Jr, and Guided By Voices mainly. But there are so many influences crammed into what I do. If there weren't, 4 or 5 Magicians would probably be crap, or just wouldn't exist. I guess that's why there are so many terrible bands in the world - because the songwriter only listens to about six bands, none of which are Guided By Voices.

    Are your lyrics purposefully cynical?

    Probably. I mean I don't do it on purpose, and I'd like to think they are at least equally as positive as cynical, if not more, but I do accept that I'm not exactly about to write the next "Walking On Sunshine" here. I could sit here analysing myself all night (literally, I really could) but I think people, if they care about this sort of thing, should work out what I'm getting at for themselves. But then most people don't even care about the lyrics as long as it has a whistlable tune, right?

    Is slacker rock overdue a proper revival, and are you the part of it some claim?

    We aren't slacker rock I don't think. I'm too meticulous for that to be right, even if it sounds like it should be. I think we may sound a little bit "slacker rock" to some people as I can't really play any instruments very well. But the others are all very good players - I've somehow amassed a band of virtual virtuosos. Then I get them to play four chords in 4/4 for four minutes. Sorry guys. I think "alternative guitar rock" or whatever you want to call it is due a revival, for enitrely selfish reasons - it's the sort of music I like, so it would be good to have loads of cool guitar bands around to listen to. We never really did the alt-rock thing properly over here, so it would be good for it to happen now. Other people like other stuff. That's cool. But you've had you're fun.

    What's the last decent thing you heard?

    I've just been flipping through the MTV channels with the rest of the band, and we just saw a video by a chap named Soulja Boy. That was good. Affable rap. I think we share a similar sense of humour. In real life I'm currently very excited by the prospect of Laura Hocking, or Laura Sings Liver to give her her stage name - simply a one in a million (or billion) talent. I'm very much looking forward to hearing what she comes out with over the coming months, I know she's recording some songs right now in fact. She reminds me a lot of dearly departed fellow northern troubadour Jake Thackray, but a pretty girl version. She has a turn of phrase though that takes on Thackray at his best. Not that it's a competition! But I guess with her, there is no competition. This is turning into a review, I'll shut up.

    What next?

    We're doing a tour starting tomorrow if we can find someone to drive us around - I actually can't believe the bad luck we've had over the past few days on that front. I suppose there was also an element of slack organisation about it too, but what do you expect? My dad is going to bale us out in the second week if we need him to, so that's alright. My dad is cool, he likes to get involved. We'll soldier through the first week somehow. How long would it take to cycle to Swindon from South London do you reckon?

    We're hoping to do some festivals in the summer, but we probably aren't well known (or well backed) enough for this to happen, but I'll keep an open mind. We were chosen to play The Great Escape without even asking which, even to cynical old me, is quite a nice, and unexpected thing to happen. It means we get to see Times New Viking for free as well so that's cool.

    We're releasing a single on April 21st through This Is Fake DIY - its a double a-side of Change The Record/Ideal Man, possibly the greatest such single since Bionic/The Law by King Adora. We have another single ready to go for summertime as well from the same session we did with Ian Button (the nicest man ever), Out Of My Hands/Behind Each Other's Backs, so maybe if this current one goes well then Fake DIY will release that too, or maybe by then we'll have signed a multi-trillion dollar deal with Myspace/BMG or whatever. Hopefully someone with enough money to send us out to Seattle to record with Guy Picciotto will come along before long, at least. I'd quite like to go to some other countries and play to the people there too at some point. The furthest I've ever been from home is Belgium. Or Newcastle, that's probably further. Maybe we're doing some recording with Jason Loewenstein from Sebadoh in May, I need to talk to him more about this. That would be good I think!

    But in a wider sense, I really have no idea what is next for 4 or 5 Magicians. It isn't really up to me, is it?

    4 Or 5 Magicians - Orderly Queue

    4 Or 5 Magicians are touring for most of April ahead of said single.

    Wednesday, March 26, 2008

    Democracy in action

    Just go and do something for us, would you?

    London den of iniquity the Camden Crawl is currently canvassing its Indie Idle (see?) competition. Out of the twenty shortlisted bands, ten will play the festival itself, and if we've taught you anything, it's that a vote or several hundred not given to the Dirty Backbeats, Ice Sea Dead People and/or Love Ends Disaster! is a vote wasted.

    In less bacchinalian surroundings, our old favourite Indietracks is four months away and they too are polling for two bands to join the ever growing bill. We've already had our say via the forum link, but help us get A Classic Education a slot, won't you?

    Tuesday, March 25, 2008

    Songs of love

    We get a lot of emails and CDs through the in/letterbox these days, and with everything else emerging, leaking or just coming to mind some of it can slip by the wayside if we're not careful. We really, for example, should have talked up New Yorker Dawn Landes' album Fireproof. To be fair we greatly admired the single Bodyguard, and hopefully you who follow the Weekly Sweep with a jeweller's eyepiece did too, but the full record is much like what Feist would sound like if she were less jazz-pop and more country-folk, or a more together Cat Power who went to Tennessee rather than Alabama, while also leaving enough room to suggest the next album could be the critical and commercial breakthrough proper. A sometime Earlies collaborator who's sound engineered for Ryan Adams and Philip Glass, she's currently supporting Josh Ritter on a UK tour, should you be interested.

    Dawn Landes - Twilight

    Meanwhile we've had the new album by self-releasing LA outfit Death To Anders, Fictitious Business, for a few weeks now but only got around to listening to it yesterday, and it turned out to be a very strong collection of literate American alt-rock, if a very 90s focused one. See, there's quite a bit of Pavement there, as seems to be with 80% of young American bands, which is no bad thing provided they can work that band's ever changing textural moods as well as this, but they're clearly not afraid of Sonic Youth's squally dynamics or Moon And Antarctica Modest Mouse's questing angularities either. It really is an album we could have uploaded anything from, so we've fairly randomly gone for...

    Death To Anders - Mooney Stegg

    In other breaking news:

    * TOP RECOMMENDATION: Matthew over at Song, By Toad has launched the first Toad Session with the magnificent Broken Records, featuring four acoustic live mp3s including forthcoming debut single If the News Makes You Sad Don’t Watch It, videos and a podcast also featuring chat and band selections.

    * URGENT REQUEST: Another of our favourite new British bands 4 Or 5 Magicians are heading around the country for the next couple of weeks but their driver can't get the necessary insurance. So, are you 21 or over with a licence, able to get to Brighton this week and don't have a lot planned between 30th March (3rd April at the latest) and 12th April? Contact the band through that link there.

    * EMBED NONSENSE: And finally, and with a certain inevitability, British Sea Power on Countryfile:

    Monday, March 24, 2008

    More diversification for brand awareness

    Presenting our own YouTube video log, which we'll be updating on a semi-regular basis not according to theme or newnesss or anything like that but just as stuff we get stupidly entertained by occurs to us. Feel very free to suggest clips to look at, there's a comment leaving capacity somewhere on there.

    Sunday, March 23, 2008

    Weekender : got offered a Steve Winwood interview this week

    WHAT CD?
    - If you pay more attention than we do to our collected opinion, you'll know we have much love for early 80s pop, kind of what has become known as New Pop but expanding its reach to the general air at the time that with punk's ideals learnt and improved and the style press not caring about anything that didn't happen in two or three London clubs the possibilities seemed endless. Our problem with a lot of this 80s Revival hype package is that those involved have always zeroed in, most likely in a post-ironic sense, on one aspect of the time at the expense of celebrating the liberation that actually made those bands what they were, which is where you get idiocy like Chromeo from. Maybe in retrospect the Mystery Jets' Making Dens reflected as much from that as they did from the prog pinpoints that littered its press, but 21 is where the connection becomes explicit. You'll hear in here the Associates' synth dramas, Squeeze's structures and kitchen sink concerns, Japan's stripping down of melody, uncoiled bass-driven pop imported from The Sound Of Young Scotland, ABC's modernism and on Two Doors Down a proper sax solo. Alright, maybe that last one isn't so welcome, but the point is that with all this absorbed it still finds a way to sound like a 2008 off-kilter indiepop band, doubtless with Erol Alkan's guidance, rather than a wholly retro exercise. Wonder what Paul Morley thinks of it.

    - You can see why people dislike Foals. There's the hype, for a start, coming for a band whose quoting of Afrobeat and Steve Reich doesn't tend to square with a lot of those who court the press. Then there's Yannis Phillipakis' baiting of scenesters, claims not to know how to play a straightforward open E chord (which might explain why the acoustic sessions they've done for BBC radio have been rotten) and that cameo in the special Skins edition. And then there's a lot of what's claimed around them ("one of the most astonishingly original records of the past decade" - Independent). So what is Antidotes if not the record that's going to change the face of all music forever? Well, it's a curious beast - it likes to dance with its shifting dancepunk organic DFA beats and early 80s A Certain Ratio percussiveness, but it's capable of going for long atmospheric walks to stretch its math-rock legs, although calling this math really bears about as much core similarity to Kinsellacore as rave does to scrappy guitar bands with a synth. Basically, Antidotes is how The Rapture should have turned out and is all the better for it.

    - Guillemots' Through The Window Pane was our number two album of 2006, a slow working entreaty of cracked balladry and jazzpop triumph through adversity. What came through is that Fyfe Dangerfield, who had previously been equally at home with writing choral mini-concertos and "Cure-meets-Manics" (label description) rock for a Fierce Panda EP, is no dilettante. The accepted line on Red is that it's "all R&B", as though widening what was already quite a wide scope is automatically a bad thing. It's less carefully orchestrated and more about creating beats and steering electronics parallel to the Xenomania path, true, but Dangerfield still knows his way around both an enclosing ballad and a pop shape. You'll either discard it in a week or see it creep up the end of year list.

    - Our album of the year for 2007 was Okkervil River's The Stage Names, and you've not stopped thanking us since. Not about The Stage Names, mind you, just generally so. The album before that made it into our 2005 top 20, Black Sheep Boy moving decisively away from their country folk-rock origins to open up its heart of dark glass with passion and careful craft while Will Sheff tells involved, rhythmic tales like people think Conor Oberst does. This release is the Definitive Edition, appending the original album with its Black Sheep Boy Appendix mini-album follow-up.

    - When not alerting a newly won over public to back catalogue charms, reissues generally these days come for anniversaries. Beck's Odelay, the album that launched him from slacker one hit wonder to eclectic joker, celebrates its tenth birthday, albeit a year and a half late - maybe he had stuff to do - in a Deluxe package which for some reason re-edits and remixes a couple of the original tracks as well as the B-sides, remixes (Aphex Twin and UNKLE included) and previously unreleased songs plus Thurston Moore and Dave Eggers booklet contributions. Meanwhile, why do we need a Joy Division Best Of? Don't ask us, we're mere punters. We do know that there's a second disc of BBC sessions, though, in case Heart And Soul and The Complete BBC Sessions aren't on eBay.

    - Zavvi may not believe in singles any more but we do, and two singles out this week believe in the political messaging nature of the single more than most. In the middle of a set of blogs about their South By South West experience - not, it's safe to say, slanted in the same way as MGMT's might be - Simon Indelicate describes his band's new single America as being about "the European left's willingness to find accommodation with religio-fascists as a consequence of their dogmatic anti-American position". Well, that and everything else it touches on about right-wing definition and societal nature. And all that in four and a bit minutes of low-budget bombast. Across the political spectrum we find M.I.A.'s base camp as best thing on Kala Paper Planes comes out about three months later than originally planned on 12". Maya? "Really the worst thing that anyone can say [to someone these days] is some shit like: ”What I wanna do is come and get your money.” People don’t really feel like immigrants or refugees contribute to culture in any way. That they’re just leeches that suck from whatever. So in the song I say all I wanna do is [sound of gun shooting and reloading, cash register opening] and take your money. I did it in sound effects. It’s up to you how you want to interpret. America is so obsessed with money, I’m sure they’ll get it." Right you are, then.

    - Then again, you could just make a record to dance to. (Which you can to Paper Planes, but bear with us). Erol Alkan's other production clients of late are the Long Blondes, turning them into the hip-swivellers that was probably always going to be their destiny. In fact Century's Moroder Blondie dark disco is something of a red herring as to how "Couples" (the quotation marks are important, apparently) comes across, and the album version is far better at getting itself across than the single edit. Clinic also launch a new album with a 7", but being Clinic you pretty much know what The Witch (Made To Measure) sounds like already.

    - With all the caveats that the phrase "narrated by Tim Lovejoy" bring, The Specials: Too Much, Too Young is an attempt to get down on film the legendary cross-cultural party of one of the great British bands of, well, the last thirty years, we say. All the videos, including those of the Special AKA era, plus actual documentary footage of two New York gigs of 1980, which gives away its origins - not even anything bought in from Dance Craze or the Specials Rock Goes To College which is floating about the etherweb?

    COMING SOON: This biannual period's REM Return To Form is called Accelerate, and as a tie-in the band and Vincent Moon, the man behind the Take Away Shows, have launched an open source site named after the single Supernatural Superserious on which are twelve videos of the recording and arseing about processes for your own re-editing purposes; opening track Living Well is The Best Revenge uses more of the footage. Meanwhile, Stipe has an important announcement to make.

    MYSPACE INVADERS: A slight apology required here, as the label arm of God Is In The TV sent us links to some Superman Revenge Squad mp3s a couple of weeks ago and we completely forgot to post them when we were last scouting for tracks to post, which is very wrong of us as we should have been talking this up long ago. If that name sounds like the name of an anti-folk and electronic inspired solo artist, you'd be nearly entirely right in that it's not electronic but it's very much one to one acoustic heart rending. What Croydonite Ben Park does have is a very smart, pop culture and cynicism referencing self-critically lyrical bent like a South London Jeffrey Lewis, although he claims greater influence from Will Oldham. Those mp3s? Oh, they're still there - this one's Idiot Food, this one Everyone's Dead. Yeah, the titles do kind of speak a lot for their content, although the acapella inserts on New Order's legacy and the shitness of Jack Kerouac respectively are nice surprises, as much as their content is 'nice'.

    VISUAL AID: In the latest of our occasional series of Telly Music Shows From The Past, we alight on So It Goes, Tony Wilson's 1976-77 Granada TV series often credited with helping launch punk outside its London enclaves. And yes, it famously showcased the Sex Pistols first, and later the Fall, but at least in its first series you were equally likely to see the tail end of prog and what that strain led to - Kevin Ayers, Be Bop Deluxe and on the very same show as the Pistols someone called Gentlemen (see the comments for further information). Clive James contributed regular monologues to that first series, here disrespecting Charles Shaar Murray and interviewing Peter Cook to promote Derek & Clive. We've linked to this before but it's not got any less excellent, Ian Dury reading his poetry on the final show at Christmas '77.

    * The estimable Matador Records are giving away their annual Intended Play label sampler for free this year, featuring spanking new Shearwater, Jay Reatard, Matmos and Jaguar Love (former Blood Brothers and Pretty Girls Make Graves members) plus Cat Power, Mission Of Burma, Stephen Malkmus, the New Pornographers, the Cave Singers, Times New Viking, Dead Meadow and 'others'.

    * This Town Sounds is another of the growing number of blogs/sites that make a few phone calls and take a video camera to capture artists in performance and/or conversation. Currently available are the likes of Lightspeed Champion, Noah & The Whale, Laura Marling, Laura Groves, Vincent Vincent, Peggy Sue & The Pirates and Jay Jay Pistolet, with conversation pieces by Mystery Jets, Friendly Fires and so forth. Coming soon, they promise, is an even more stellar cast, if only from an STN perspective but then that's most important, including Los Campesinos!, British Sea Power, Black Kids, Those Dancing Days, Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit, Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, Kid Harpoon, Operator Please, Youthmovies, Ipso Facto, Modernaire...

    * Every so often we bring you an intriguingly pitched music documentary film, give a big long list of exciting contributors, breathlessly link to the trailer and then never hear of it again. What did become of that Joe Meek film? Better luck hopefully follows for We Dreamed America, a look at "the inspirations behind a new breed of British musicians, fascinated by the most American of genres, whilst examining the relationship and ongoing exchange between British and American roots music." This means footage and contributions from The Broken Family Band, Alabama 3, Kitty Daisy & Lewis, The Barker Band, Hey Negrita and Matthew Ord, plus input from the likes of Bob Harris, Guy Clark, Tom McRae, BJ Cole, Sid Griffin, Robert Fisher of the Willard Grant Conspiracy and some of Little Feat. And yes, there's a trailer.

    * Finally, something fantastic we picked up while doing the rounds of favourite blogs. In 1991 Tottenham beat Arsenal in the FA Cup semi final, and to celebrate fanzine The Spur commissioned the Cocteaus' Simon Raymonde, Lush's Miki Berenyi and Chris Acland, and Russell and Kevin from Moose to record a flexidisc for the next issue. The result was And David Seaman Will Be Very Disappointed About That by The Lillies, and Because Midway Still Aren't Coming Back has encoded and uploaded it. The best thing is it sounds almost precisely like you'd imagine the Cocteaus, Lush and Moose coming together would sound, only with Barry Davies samples and for some reason a When The Saints Go Marching In quote.

    Saturday, March 22, 2008

    The Weekly Sweep

  • 4 Or 5 Magicians - Change The Record [Myspace]
  • British Sea Power - No Lucifer [YouTube]
  • Broken Records - If The News Makes You Sad, Don't Watch It [Myspace]
  • Clinic - The Witch [YouTube]
  • dEUS - Slow [YouTube]
  • Elbow - Mirrorball
  • Foals - Two Steps Twice [mp3 from The Finest Kiss]
  • Future Of The Left - Manchasm [YouTube]
  • The Futureheads - The Beginning Of The Twist [YouTube]
  • Gindrinker - Work It Out [Myspace]
  • The Indelicates - America [YouTube]
  • Johnny Foreigner - Our Bipolar Friends [Myspace]
  • The Mystery Jets - Young Love [YouTube]
  • Portishead - Machine Gun [YouTube]
  • The Rosie Taylor Project - A Good Café On George Street [Myspace] (Not to take anything away from a fine song, but is this the most unrepossessing song title we've ever featured?)
  • The Shortwave Set - No Social [Myspace]
  • Wake The President - You Can't Change That Boy [Myspace]
  • White Williams - New Violence [Myspace]
  • Why? - Song Of The Sad Assassin (Sorry for not telling you earlier, but Alopecia came out last week and is already creeping up our metaphorical list of favourites for the year so far. Briefly, then, it's pretty unclassifiable, as it goes, main man Yoni Wolf a leading member of the Anticon collective that started off on an avant-garde hip-hop footing but seems to change style constantly - folk, North American indie, electronica, soul, poetry rap - while always remaining of a piece)
  • Young Knives - Turn Tail [Myspace]
  • Tuesday, March 18, 2008

    Caution: lists ahead

    Firstly, what's inevitably happened since yesterday is the stats for the week have updated, so for full disclosure here's the most played top tens for w/e 16/3/08. Do your own cogent analysis.

    Radio 1

    1 The Futureheads 23
    2 Leona Lewis 21
    3 We Are Scientists 20
    3 The Kooks 20
    5 Guillemots 19
    5 Girls Aloud 19
    5 Utah Saints 19
    8 Alphabeat 18
    8 Gnarls Barkley 18
    10 Panic! At the Disco 17

    Radio 2

    1 Van Morrison 22
    2 Gabriella Cilmi 17
    2 Bryan Adams 17
    4 Amy Macdonald 14
    4 Duffy 14
    4 R.E.M. 14
    7 James Blunt 13
    8 OneRepublic 12
    9 Scouting for Girls 11
    9 Leona Lewis 11

    But we thought this could be taken much further. The two stations' profiles were both installed on 26th April 2006, so taking into account scrobbling failures, incorrect tags ('By Red Hot Chilli Peppers' has registered a total of 56) and the station maybe not registering every play of everything, here's firstly the most played from nearly two years of Radio 2:

    1 KT Tunstall 316
    2 Bruce Springsteen 294
    3 Amy Winehouse 285
    4 The Beatles 283
    5 Amy Macdonald 279
    6 David Bowie 272
    7 The Feeling 270
    8 Madonna 259
    9 The Rolling Stones 251
    10 Eagles 244
    11 Stevie Wonder 239
    12 Elvis Presley 233
    13 Mika 232
    14 James Blunt 230
    15 Elton John 225
    16 Keane 224
    17 Kylie Minogue 220
    18 Take That 212
    19 Scissor Sisters 199
    20 ABBA 195
    21 Queen 188
    21 Razorlight 188
    23 U2 186
    24 Fleetwood Mac 179
    25 The Beach Boys 178
    26 Pet Shop Boys 177
    26 Kaiser Chiefs 177
    28 Maroon 5 174
    29 James Morrison 172
    29 Electric Light Orchestra 172

    Dunno about you, but the one that leaps out there is Amy Macdonald, whose first single only came out last May. There's an odd disparity here, isn't there, in between those who've been most active in the last two years and those that have the back catalogue, although we're surprised Stevie Wonder is so high up. Obviously a better value of where Radio 2 has contemporarily centred recently comes from the most played tracks chart:

    1 KT Tunstall – Hold On 105
    2 Razorlight – America 100
    3 Scissor Sisters – I Don't Feel Like Dancin' 95
    3 James Blunt – 1973 95
    5 Duffy – Mercy 94
    6 Amy Macdonald – This Is The Life 93
    7 Amy Winehouse – Tears Dry On Their Own 90
    8 Leona Lewis – Bleeding Love 84
    8 Bruce Springsteen – Girls In Their Summer Clothes 84
    10 Lily Allen – Smile 82
    11 KT Tunstall – Saving My Face 78
    12 Tom Baxter – Better 75
    13 Richard Hawley – Tonight The Streets Are Ours 73
    14 Beth Rowley – Oh My Life 71
    14 The Kooks – She Moves In Her Own Way 71
    16 Gabrielle – Every Little Teardrop 69
    17 Feist – 1234 68
    17 Amy Macdonald – Run 68
    17 Mika – Grace Kelly 68
    17 Kylie Minogue – Wow 68
    21 Amy Macdonald – Mr Rock & Roll 67
    21 Amy Winehouse – Rehab 67
    23 Mika – Relax, Take It Easy 66
    23 The Feeling – I Thought It Was Over 66
    23 The Zutons – Valerie 66
    26 Plain White T's – Hey There Delilah 65
    27 Ben's Brother – Let Me Out 64
    27 Kylie Minogue – 2 Hearts 64
    29 Rihanna / Ne-Yo – Hate That I Love You 63
    29 Amy Winehouse – Love Is A Losing Game 63

    Where's your youth culture now, Borrell? Obviously this is an ongoing event with Mercy's closeness to the summit, although Tom Baxter, Ben's Brother, Beth Rowley and to an extent Richard Hawley might lament that that much Radio 2 play doesn't translate as much as you might imagine into sales. Smile seems out of place somewhat in that company, especially factoring in her Hip! Now! Yoof! sales pitch. Obviously the numbers will be lower due to the lesser concentration on the new and all that stuff they waste Sundays with. Semi-shockingly, the joint most played songs more than two years old are Hey Ya! and A Little Less Conversation.

    As for 23 months of Radio 1:

    1 Arctic Monkeys 751
    2 The Killers 650
    3 Rihanna 592
    4 Razorlight 587
    5 Justin Timberlake 579
    6 Sugababes 526
    7 Fall Out Boy 507
    8 The Feeling 506
    9 The Kooks 491
    10 Muse 489
    11 The Fratellis 485
    11 Foo Fighters 485
    13 Kaiser Chiefs 484
    14 My Chemical Romance 473
    15 Mika 458
    16 The Enemy 449
    17 Hard-Fi 444
    18 The Pigeon Detectives 442
    19 Klaxons 423
    20 Scissor Sisters 407
    20 Girls Aloud 407
    22 Kanye West 397
    22 Nelly Furtado 397
    24 Robyn 396
    25 Bloc Party 393
    26 Red Hot Chili Peppers 389
    27 Gnarls Barkley 386
    28 Snow Patrol 380
    29 Booty Luv 364
    30 The White Stripes 362

    Booty Luv?! Now, these are going to be skewed towards guitar bands because they're most likely to be hammered by their specialist shows (and in the full list by the skewing of time which means the Ting Tings are only three plays behind Arcade Fire), but a couple of interesting things raise their head when we see the tracks list:

    1 Fedde le Grand – Put Your Hands Up For Detroit 220
    2 Kanye West – Stronger 211
    3 The Fratellis – Chelsea Dagger 206
    4 The Holloways – Generator 191
    5 Supermode – Tell Me Why 187
    5 Girls Aloud – Call the Shots 187
    7 My Chemical Romance – Welcome to the Black Parade 184
    8 My Chemical Romance – Teenagers 182
    9 Robyn – With Every Heartbeat 181
    10 The Automatic – Monster 180
    10 Christina Aguilera – Ain't No Other Man 180
    12 Hard-Fi – Suburban Knights 178
    13 The Wombats – Moving To New York 176
    13 Arctic Monkeys – Fluorescent Adolescent 176
    15 Rogue Traders – Voodoo Child 175
    16 Bloc Party – Flux 174
    17 Gnarls Barkley – Smiley Faces 173
    18 Kaiser Chiefs – The Angry Mob 172
    19 The Killers – When You Were Young 168
    19 Gym Class Heroes – Cupid's Chokehold 168
    21 Nelly Furtado – Maneater 167
    22 Muse – Starlight 165
    23 Razorlight – In The Morning 164
    23 Razorlight – America 164
    25 Lily Allen – Smile 163
    26 Klaxons – It's Not Over Yet 162
    27 The Kooks – She Moves in Her Own Way 161
    28 Justin Timberlake – SexyBack 160
    29 The Pigeon Detectives – I Found Out 159
    29 Scouting for Girls – Elvis Ain't Dead 159

    Now, there's some great big one hit wonder rickets in there, most obviously Fedde (total plays 241) and Supermode (192) but most startlingly Generator, which may have been reissued several hundred times, or so it felt, but never got above number 18. Has someone been using it for a competition or something? The rest of their by no means that limited number of singles have only earned them 41 more plays. You'll also notice the lack of Rihanna, the main stormer of the guitar citadels in the earlier list but clearly someone who prefers consolidating her many radio-friendly singles into one lump number (SOS 117, Umbrella 115, Don't Stop The Music 115, Shut Up And Drive 79, Unfaithful 59) And Crazy is on merely 114 despite being released in the same month as these charts began.

    Any further thoughts will be gladly received. In the meantime, let's have a go at 6 Music's stats, which like the supposedly forward thinking nature of the station itself are more thorough, starting on 12th August 2004:

    1 Bloc Party 698
    2 Interpol 671
    3 R.E.M. 667
    4 David Bowie 647
    5 Beck 646
    6 Manic Street Preachers 645
    7 The White Stripes 628
    8 U2 620
    9 Editors 611
    10 Super Furry Animals 607
    11 Kaiser Chiefs 606
    12 Oasis 602
    13 Primal Scream 567
    14 Supergrass 563
    15 Foo Fighters 559
    16 The Cure 553
    17 Radiohead 552
    18 The Clash 549
    19 Killers 548
    20 The Rolling Stones 546
    21 The Chemical Brothers 532
    22 Arctic Monkeys 530
    23 Morrissey 507
    23 New Order 507
    25 The Futureheads 500
    25 Razorlight 500
    27 The Who 496
    28 Doves 493
    29 Kings of Leon 488
    30 The Stranglers 486

    1 Peter Bjorn and John – Young Folks 165 (total plays 180)
    2 We Are Scientists – Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt 155
    3 Interpol – Slow Hands 154
    4 Pixies – Debaser 142 (where has this come from? The band as a whole are on 380)
    5 Ladytron – Sugar 141 (total 213)
    6 Beck – Girl 137
    7 Pigeon Detectives – I Found Out 136
    8 Guillemots – Made Up Love Song #43 134
    9 Kaiser Chiefs – Oh My God 130
    9 Bloc Party – Flux 130 (we bet the band are delighted this is their most played track on 1 and 6)
    11 Kate Nash – Foundations 118
    12 Holloways – Generator 116 (again! Total 125)
    12 Kate Nash – Pumpkin Soup 116
    12 CSS – Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above 116
    15 Jamie T – Sheila 115
    16 British Sea Power – Please Stand Up 112
    17 Hard-Fi – Hard to Beat 110
    18 Editors – The Racing Rats 109
    19 I Was A Cub Scout – Pink Squares 108 (total 130)
    19 LCD Soundsystem – Daft Punk Is Playing at My House 108
    19 The Bravery – Unconditional 108
    22 The Raveonettes – Love in A Trashcan 107
    23 Hot Chip – Over and Over 106
    23 Feist – 1234 106
    23 The Duke Spirit – Cuts Across the Land 106 (only just outside the artist top 30)
    26 Cajun Dance Party – Amylase 105 (total 113)
    26 Radiohead – Jigsaw Falling Into Place 105
    26 Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams 105
    26 Sons and Daughters – Gilt Complex 105
    30 Interpol – C'mere 104
    30 Razorlight – Somewhere Else 104
    30 The Arcade Fire – Neighborhood #2 (Laika) 104

    And for 1Xtra, from 14th June 2005:

    1 Kanye West 454
    2 Dizzee Rascal 442
    3 Jay-Z 419
    4 Ne-Yo 392
    5 Wiley 357
    6 Lupe Fiasco 349
    7 Mary J. Blige 330
    8 Roll Deep 312
    9 Nathan 307
    10 Taio Cruz 301
    11 Justin Timberlake 296
    12 Damian Marley 294
    13 Cassie 282
    14 Tony Matterhorn 277 (the current pre-eminent reggae selector, in case you don't know)
    15 Nas 274
    16 Kano 272
    17 Beyoncé 268
    18 Amerie 266
    19 The Game 261
    20 Snoop Dogg 254
    21 T.I. 252
    22 Sean Paul 234
    23 Beenie Man 231
    24 Timbaland / Keri Hilson / D.O.E 209
    25 T2 / Jodie Aysha 207
    25 Mr. Vegas 207
    27 Omarion 205
    28 Collie Buddz 204
    29 Akala 202
    30 Kano / Craig David 190

    1 Timbaland / Keri Hilson / D.O.E – The Way I Are 209
    2 T2 / Jodie Aysha – Heartbroken 199 (no, we don't know where the other eight went)
    3 Kano / Craig David – This Is The Girl 183 (or these other seven)
    4 Kanye West – Stronger 181
    5 Lloyd – Get It Shawty 170
    6 Tony Matterhorn – dutty wine 163
    7 Ny – Willow 160
    8 Nelly Furtado / Timbaland – Promiscuous Girl 156
    8 Charlean Dance / Gappy Ranks – Mr DJ 156
    10 Collie Buddz – Come Around 153
    11 Kelly Rowland – Work 150
    12 Snoop Dogg – Sensual Seduction 142
    13 T.I. – Why You Wanna 133
    13 Justin Timberlake / T.I. – My Love 133
    15 Lupe Fiasco – Superstar 129
    16 Nathan – Cold As Ice 127
    16 Dizzee Rascal – Flex 127
    18 Cassie – Long Way 2 Go 125
    19 Mims / Junior Reid / Cham – This Is Why I'm Hot (Remix) 122
    19 Tinchy Stryder / Cyleena – Something About Your Smile 122
    21 Mr. Vegas – Tek Weh Yourself 121
    22 Ear Dis – Hey Girl 120
    22 Cassie – Me & U 120
    24 Beyonce / Jay-Z – Deja Vu 119
    25 Chamillionaire / Krayzie Bone – Ridin' (Original) 117
    26 Dizzee Rascal – Old Skool 115
    27 Mary J. Blige – Just Fine 113
    27 Taio Cruz – I Just Wanna Know 113
    29 Munga – bad from mi born 111
    29 Common / Lily Allen – Drivin' Me Wild 111

    Finished now.

    Monday, March 17, 2008

    All the records on the radio are shite?

    Last year you may recall our logging everything said and played on one normal day of daytime Radio 1, and we were planning to spend the four non-Bank Holiday days of this week doing the same for 6 Music. It was all going well until we realised it'd mean listening to George Lamb again, and we only have a finite amount of time left on this planet.

    Luckily a different angle suggested itself through this post on Troubled Diva the purpose of which was to demonstrate how little margin for error there is in the current Duffy push and the cigarette paper gap that appears as a result of such a crossover artist between three of the BBC's music radio stations (leaving 1Xtra out of it for the moment) - Tom Ewing has commented on it as well.

    Now, clearly this isn't going to happen every week - apart from Duffy and her stylistic forebears Adele and Winehouse you're not going to find many who would fit equally onto all three A lists. In fact, there's a lot more to be said than that from looking at the three sets of stats. Let's take it on a week, for example, and see what we can find from the following week's most played lists, w/e 9/3/08:

    Radio 1

    1 The Futureheads 21
    1 Utah Saints 21
    3 We Are Scientists 20
    4 The Kooks 19
    5 Sugababes 18
    6 Panic! At the Disco 17
    6 Gnarls Barkley 17
    6 Guillemots 17
    6 The Feeling 17
    10 Duffy 16

    Right, well there's a surprise at the off. The Futureheads were hardly Radio 1 darlings when they made their first impact and The Beginning Of The Twist is hardly a massive commercial advance, but they are now seen, we think, as elder statesmen of the current Commercial Indie scene not so much by what they do as who they came in just ahead of, emerging as they did just after the Libertines had started falling apart and just before Franz Ferdinand ran with similar influences. It also throws into some relief their current angle to sticking it to 679 and by extension the major label industry, seeing as Radio 1 now trusts them enough, or Big Life Management has enough clout, to give them this much play. Alongside them, just to show how while the music scene is fast moving really nothing changes or deviates, a new mix of Something Good, for the kids who have no hope of remembering not only the original but who the U-U-U-Utah Saints were to begin with (in fact Pete Tong and Zane Lowe picked up on it as a white label from the remix arm of Van She last autumn) What we do determine from this list is the caught between two stools nature of the station, which not so long ago was a R&B and dance haven, then got caught up in the Guitars Are Back! press and now finds it difficult to strike an easy balance. It was commented of the previous week's figures that there was no black music about - not strictly fair, as Gnarls Barkley, David Jordan, Leona Lewis and, should they count, the Sugababes were within positions 11-16 - but this is a station that has recalibrated for a text-friendly 16-24 year old audience, the student population if you will. Has 1Xtra ghettoised black music, as some claim (Jordan had to have a big label push and an eventual big hit for Radio 1 to notice, and of course Gnarls Barkley are coming off the back of one of the biggest hits of the decade), or is this just an unrepresentative time of the year, the big R&B and hip hop crossovers of recent years largely coming through in the summer once the labels have got their band campaigns sorted out? Or do black 16-24 year olds just not bother with the station any more? Hmm.

    NB. The current UK number two and bassline crossover hit appears in the scrobbled list as both H 'two' o and H 'two' O/Platinum, and combined the two got 21 plays as well.

    Radio 2

    1 Duffy 17
    2 Bryan Adams 14
    2 Amy Macdonald 14
    2 Gabriella Cilmi 14
    5 OneRepublic 13
    5 KT Tunstall 13
    5 Alphabeat 13
    8 The Kooks 12
    8 James Blunt 12
    8 Leona Lewis 12

    Maybe you'd expect it to, but Radio 2 has gone a bundle on the re-emergence to an extent of the soul/girl group sound even immediately before the Winehouse era - the Pipettes' Pull Shapes was A-listed and, rather more unlikely, so was the last Revelations single before they hitched an unsuccessful ride on the Eurovision bandwagon, which was a self-financed download only as well (and failed to make the top 200). All Duffy has really done is found an up to date production enough and as much post-Winehouse wind as she can really grab onto without entirely seeming a copyist. Notice Alphabeat there, who are also joint tenth on the Radio 1 list and have clearly found a formula close enough to the modern pop whirligig to appeal to young (it's pop, dammit!) and old (but with a certain beat), and the Kooks, who presumably represent something watered down of what Commercial Indie likes to think is raucousness enough for Radio 2 tastes. When did we give Bryan Adams carte blanche to return?

    We can't really add that much to it, so here's 6 Music's top ten:

    1 Operator Please 19
    2 Elbow 18
    2 R.E.M. 18
    2 Duffy 18
    5 Vampire Weekend 16
    5 Gnarls Barkley 16
    5 Mystery Jets / Laura Marling 16
    8 MGMT 15
    8 Goldfrapp 15
    10 Siouxsie Sioux 14

    ...and 1Xtra's own does indeed for the most part look like you might have imagined Radio 1's would when Ja Rule was in his pomp:

    1 Flo Rida / T-Pain 13
    2 Chris Brown 12
    3 Usher / Young Jeezy 11
    4 Snoop Dogg 10
    5 Wiley 9
    5 Delinquent / K-Cat 9
    5 Erup 9
    5 Estelle / Kanye West 9
    9 Lupe Fiasco 8
    9 Mariah Carey 8

    Tomorrow we'll get onto the all time lists, but let us draw some more figures from Radios 1 and 2 w/e 9th March:

    * 11 artists received more than ten plays on Radio 2, 28 on Radio 1, yet Radio 2 (459) played more different artists than Radio 1 (421), although this might be partly because Radio 1 doesn't scrobble between midnight and 7am.

    * Unlikely artists played on Radio 2: The Libertines (twice! The same number as Radio 1! And Tell The King was one of those), Jethro Tull (four times?), Shakin' Stevens (in 2008!), Space, Klaxons, Doctor & The Medics, The View, Noel Coward, Toni Basil, Falco, Hear'Say, Cornershop, Leftfield, AC/DC and Neil (yes, Hole In My Shoe). Not all of those can be from Radcliffe and/or Maconie.

    * Unlikely artists played on Radio 1: Cameo, Chris T-T, Otis Redding, the B-52s, MC Hammer, Survivor, Gerry and The Pacemakers, USA For Africa, Go west, Johnny Hates Jazz, Stealers Wheel. Not all of those can be from Scott Mills. (We'd like to think Riff Raff was a newly discovered recording of Billy Bragg's punk band, but it probably isn't all told)

    Sunday, March 16, 2008

    Weekender : what do you think about the chicken with its big leathery skin?

    WHAT CD?
    - Last year Guy Garvey, as a 6 Music representative, did some of the main stage announcing at Summer Sundae (and we later saw him at the barrier engrossed by Vetiver, but that's not important right now) Clearly he hadn't really been briefed on what to say but knew he had a court holding image to maintain so couldn't just take the piss, leading to his declaration that "I can't think of anyone better to continue the music here at Summer Sundae", followed by his finishing and turning away from the mike wearing the sort of half-bemused half-embarrassed to practically soiling self levels that a man can only achieve when his neuro-linguistic reflexes have told him to tell the best part of 6,000 people that the next band on (the Rumble Strips, for what it's worth) are at the moment his personal apex of musical endeavour. But, see, that's Guy Garvey, and he can get away with that, in light of which Lancastrian booze-and-fags hail-fellow-well-met bonhomie, the bearing of which makes him seem older than 34, it's easy to take Elbow for granted. Then you remember that they've produced three outstanding albums, all slow burners aware of time and space, often downbeat but never weighed down by the darkness of their tales. And so it is with number four The Seldom Seen Kid, perhaps their slowest to grow but eventually revealing perhaps their fullest range and production (courtesy of keyboard player Craig Potter) It's elegaic, smart and while it appears their fanbase trajectory is levelling off just below the huge venues there's no thinning out of small scale wonderment.

    - On the other hand, there's Be Your Own Pet. There's always Be Your Own Pet, and Get Awkward makes no apologies for not changing matters. Jemina Pearl has hit her twenties but still sounds like an alcopop-charged teen, and while maturity's melodies peek their heads around the door occasionally they don't stick around. At the other end of the scale we find Chris T-T, freed to some if by no means all extent from the 9 Red Songs solo political weight he's been carrying for the last two or three years and finally finishing the London trilogy started in 2001 with Capital, finding a home on Xtra Mile (Frank Turner, Dartz!, My Vitriol allegedly) for his skilled, observationally charged and no little angrily literate songs. Occasional guest Andy Burrows must dream his day job Razorlight was as good as this.

    A very different type of well read and well spoken poet is Ivor Cutler, who worked as a teacher in a youth you can't quite imagine him ever having had given his bearing, despite a worldview that suggests a certain wide eyed wonderment. A Flat Man was his final album, released on Creation in 1998 and the first in hopefully a long line of reissues of long deleted corners of his work by Hoorgi House, established by Cutler's family "to maintain the availability of his recordings, and to extend the range of material available". Long overdue, we say.

    - Singles? Guillemots, by all accounts set to unleash the kind of genre pigeonhole career underminer you thought had gone out of fashion circa Don't Stand Me Down, preview it with the tribal glam of Get Over It; We Are Rockstars is a career best great big jackhammer of modern dance that finally puts the name Does It Offend You, Yeah? in unwieldy lights; Bricolage bring the funk back to the Orange Juice influences with Footsteps (another single for Creeping Bent despite having signed for Memphis Industries a year ago - we know you don't care but we do, and too much at that); or why not partake in the fifth and final part of the Brainlove 7" Singles Club? As with the first four it's a four track, two band split, one side featuring the so-called 'swingdie' smarts of Friends of the Bride's You Can't Take Him Anywhere and Hey Buddy, the other Mancunian dark electropoppers Modernaire's Faites Vos Jeux and Taste.

    COMING SOON: You'd wonder where Jonathan Meiburg finds the time. Having spent 2007 on manoeuvures with Okkervil River and Bill Callahan, June 2nd sees the release on Matador of Rook, the fifth album from main project Shearwater. The follow-up to the disarmingly good Palo Santo, it's previewed by Rooks' spooked Hitchcockian apocalypism, the dramatics matching the lyrical mood as well as they ever did on that last record.

    MYSPACE INVADERS: Leeds' Dinosaur Pile-Up feature someone who used to be in Mother Vulpine, who had a reputation but not one we know a lot about, it's just all their press mentions it. The Young Knives like them and there's something of that carefully thought out fuzzpop about them, somewhere between them and Weezerish geekpop in a more lo-fi sense. They're playing the very good The Rosie Taylor Project's album launch on 16th April at Leeds' Brudenell Social Club and as part of Notting Hill Arts Club's RoTa free Saturday afternoon session on 24th May alongside Sky Larkin and Let's Wrestle, a Drowned In Sound-curated bill which makes us tempted to get on the train down for the afternoon ourselves.

    VISUAL AID: Last weekend on American Idol a dreadlocked arse called Jason Castro 'did' Hallelujah to much praise from Simon Cowell, instantly sending Jeff Buckley's version, which Cowell carefully namechecked rather than any version not on BMG, to the top of the US digital download chart and even into the UK midweek top 60. Like New York New York, Halleujah is a song that has so transcended its origins that it's surprising how old it actually is. 1984, in fact, when Leonard Cohen, here nonchalantly performed on a European show of unknown provenance with a backing choir apparently arranged as a Sunday school version of Elvis' Trouble off the '68 Comeback Special, put it on his album Various Positions. The most famous version of all is Buckley' skyscraper from 1994's Grace, itself inspired by John Cale's live cover arrangement, as featured on Shrek - but not on the album, apparently due to label issues, which led to Rufus Wainwright's not dissimilar recording. Bob Dylan's had a go, as have Bono, kd lang, Regina Spektor, Damien Rice, Beirut's Zach Condon and even Starsailor. We've all heard that bloody secret chord now. Then Alistair Griffin off Fame Academy rewrote it for Mark Viduka - he does it live to audiences who clearly don't know what it's based on too, although he can do it straight as well - and that was the game well and truly up.

    * Not a lot this week, only to mention that perhaps the most pointless release of all has come to our attention. At the end of this month, Warners are releasing The Darkness Platinum Collection. Even aside from the idea of releasing a Best Of for a band who released two albums, the tracklisting is 21 songs long. That's the whole of Permission To Land, the whole of One Way Ticket To Hell And Back and their Christmas single. Both albums, by the way, are seperately in stock on for a tenner apiece.

    * Something more important and worthwhile that we've forgotten to mention since its inception a fortnight ago is an idea by The Vinyl Villain, especially for anyone who's been meaning these last few years to get into Orange Juice. Until the end of March he's offering a handmade personalised compilation CD of their work for £6, a fiver going to the Scottish care charity Quarriers.

    Saturday, March 15, 2008

    The Weekly Sweep

  • Blood Red Shoes - Say Something Say Anything [Myspace]
  • British Sea Power - No Lucifer [YouTube]
  • Broken Records - If The News Makes You Sad, Don't Watch It [Myspace]
  • Clinic - The Witch [YouTube]
  • dEUS - Slow [YouTube]
  • Fighting With Wire - Everyone Needs A Nemesis [Myspace]
  • Foals - Cassius [YouTube]
  • Future Of The Left - Manchasm [YouTube]
  • The Futureheads - The Beginning Of The Twist [YouTube]
  • Gindrinker - Work It Out [Myspace]
  • Holy Fuck - Lovely Allen [Myspace]
  • The Indelicates - America [YouTube]
  • Johnny Foreigner - Our Bipolar Friends [Myspace]
  • Lightspeed Champion - Galaxy Of The Lost
  • Make Model - The LSB [YouTube]
  • The Mystery Jets - Young Love [YouTube]
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - We Call Upon The Author
  • Wake The President - You Can't Change That Boy [Myspace]
  • The Wave Pictures - I Love You Like A Madman [YouTube]
  • Why? - The Hollows [mp3]
  • Thursday, March 13, 2008

    Sweeping The Nation Covermount 11: Dancing About Architecture Part 2

    So in our last post we investigated those who love this musical life. But as we should know - we do read comment boxes, after all - not all music is equally celebrated. Here's another 21 songs of varying levels of scorn and satire, these less enamoured with other artists, other scenes or indeed the whole of pop culture.

    Dancing About Architecture Part 2

    Mitch Benn & The Distractions - Everything Sounds Like Coldplay Now
    Surely the only song to explore the scansion possibilities of the name Thirteen Senses, the prolific musical comedian and Radio 4 stalwart manque hits satirical soundalike nail firmly on post-Barron Knights head.

    Misty's Big Adventure - Fashion Parade
    Meanwhile the Birmingham jazz-pop-madness octet trained their sights in 2006 on the new guitar bands. Might have been better timed had they or someone tackled the new guitar bands now, you have to think in the back of your mind.

    The Fall - A Past Gone Mad (Peel session)
    "Why is Pete Gabriel always following us?" Of course, Mark E is an old hand at such carpet bombing ways. What Ian McShane did to upset him remains unclear, but the disdain for retro shines through as much as it ever does with mid-90s Fall/Smith.

    XTC - Funk Pop A Roll
    Here's what Andy Partridge does - he writes a song about disposable pop and the management thereof that does nothing except infect your inner ear, and then puts it in the casing of a hook-laden pop earworm.

    Denim - Middle Of The Road
    The ever inscrutable Lawrence constructs glam as a method by which to critique all other music in the negative, interpolating Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep as he goes.

    The Arctic Monkeys - Fake Tales Of San Francisco (original version from Five Minutes With Arctic Monkeys EP)
    Yeah, the Arctic Monkeys. Got a problem with that? Certainly Alex Turner had a problem with the Sheffield scenesters in the New Rock Revolution age. Have a look at its entry on SongMeanings should you ever find yourself in too good a mood.

    Television Personalities - Part Time Punks
    The Guardian printed a slightly bizarre story in 2005 alleging without actually coming up with evidence or reasoning that Dan Treacy of the TVPs secretly wrote the Arctics' songs. At the time he was barely able to control his own affairs, let alone a number one band's.

    The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - Can Blue Men Sing The Whites?
    Another taking on the enemy's sound from the pen of Vivian Stanshall, according to the first reissue's sleevenotes "about the horrors of rich white singers, having to dress down to sing the blues".

    The Kinks - The Moneygoround
    From 1970's cumbersomely titled Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround Part One, at a time when Ray Davies had issues with what he was getting and how he'd been treated by the industry.

    Frank Zappa - Who Needs The Peace Corps?
    From Zappa's Sgt Pepper society skewering We're Only In It For The Money, the iconoclastic hero to Vaclav Havel takes on the hippie ideal, the stress on the latter word.

    John Lennon - How Do You Sleep?
    And so we reach inexorably for Lennon's 1971 attack on his former writing partner (which also features George Harrison's slide guitar), although Lennon would later claim that much of it is about himself as much as Paul.

    Syd Barrett - Bob Dylan Blues
    Barrett, especially in his condition, was a man rarely given to public outbursts, but this long lost track only unearthed this decade for a reissue project seems to take a poke at Dylan's activism and pretensions, although apparently Barrett was a fan.

    The Indelicates - We Hate The Kids
    Brighton really-a-quintet-but-essentially-just-a-duo are mates of but also the mirror image in a way of Art Brut - they've got tons of literate culture-cauterising songs like this, albeit none so directly titled.

    The Smiths - Paint A Vulgar Picture
    There's a song on the Indelicates' forthcoming album called If Jeff Buckley Had Lived, and this from Strangeways Here We Come is kind of related, being Morrissey's swipe at posthumous repackaging and profiting.

    Pet Shop Boys - How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously?
    Oh, they may look innocent with their hats and YBA associates, but they wound Bono up something rotten with both their When The Streets Had No Name cover and its single flipside, a comment on world saving pop stars.

    Black Box Recorder - Being Number One
    Well, it's a lucky dip as far as Luke Haines' career is concerned but the Haines-Moore-Nixey triumverate slipped the lead into the velvet glove, not least on this sarcastic view from inside the Pop Idol malestrom.

    Helen Love - Long Live The UK Music Scene
    Steadfastly refusing to be swept away by Cool Britannia, the Ramones obsessed postmodern popette utilised among others the name of Steven Wells, who with his image might have professed to like this kind of thing were he not trying so hard.

    Mikrofisch - The Kids Are All Shite
    And bringing that song's sentiments right up to date, a Hamburg/London duo with a bass, a keyboard, a drum machine and an opinion.

    Teen Anthems - I Hate Oasis (And I Hate The Beatles)
    And taking that song's sentiments back ten years to Porthcawl bouncy pop nihilist John William Davies, who somehow got this to become a Radio 1 breakfast show record of the week (under Mark & Lard's stewardship, inevitably)

    Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine - Lenny And Terrence
    Jim Bob produced the Indelicates track back there, and here he and Fruitbat adopt an industrial fodderstompf taking Messrs Kravitz and Trent D'Arby as AOR wicker men, the latter an odd choice for 1993.

    The Jesus & Mary Chain - I Hate Rock 'N' Roll
    And where better to finish than Jim and William Reid, rock icons in their heads who took hating everyone else to fresh heights by hating each other and everyone else in their band at any one time.

    Tuesday, March 11, 2008

    Something hugely unlikely by 2008 standards has just happened

    We weren't going to post between the two Covermount parts for continuity purposes, but we must mention for the record that Colin Murray, on national Radio 1, broadcasting largely to an audience of hormonal seventeen year olds ready to send a million texts demanding he play more Ting Tings, has just played Jake Thackray's On Again! On Again! Which, for the uninitiated, is this:

    As you can imagine, even with hours of preceding caveats about what female listeners might think of it, not to mention Murray continually calling him Jack, slotted in among everything else it sounded so alien as to sound like a timeslip from another music radio dimension. Readers/comment box contributors? Out of place songs you recall hearing apropos of little on the radio, go!

    (This, by the way, is not to be confused with out of place musical references in other media, the bar for which was set high last night by Corrie's David being excited about seeing Foals.)

    Sweeping The Nation Covermount 11: Dancing About Architecture Part 1

    This again. Thanks to the people who gave us suggestions to fill out this ambitious double-header - you know who you are.

    They're the two immunable rules of songwriting according to Those Who Know - write about what you know and don't write about what you know of life spent on the road. That's why they call it Second Album Syndrome, because you've had roughly twenty years to write your first album and six months in a striplit rehearsal studio to pen your second. By the law of averages, though, among all the shit about hotel rooms and easy blondes every so often a song is bound to turn up that gets to the nub of why we're all here, why they're making music, why we're listening to it and reading about it. This is a Covermount of songs about music - the industry, the process, the life, the fandom, the greatness and perfection.

    Dancing About Architecture Part 1
    (NB. This is slightly more than 100Mb and thus can't be stored on Rapidshare, so hopefully for one upload only it's being stored on MegaUpload. Let us know if you have any problems with this and we'll try and do something about it. Part 2 will be back on Rapidshare, don't fret.)

    We thought long and hard about what track would open this Covermount. What song can possibly get across the joy and possibilities of finding yourself caught up in this entertainment maelstrom.

    Art Brut - Formed A Band (original single version)
    No, of course we didn't.

    BARR - The Song Is The Single
    And this is its American cousin, the musical ego of Brendan Fowler, part-diary (he/they really did cancel shows in Northampton and Glasgow through illness), part self-questioning analysis, all-meta.

    Minutemen - History Lesson Part II
    D Boon chronicles his and Mike Watt's journey from schoolkids learning instruments together to being in a musically unpredictable hardcore trio ready to take on the world. The first line gave its name to Michael Azerrad's excellent American alternative set text.

    The Mountain Goats - The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton
    John Darnielle and friends form a band but don't follow the dream until it's too late. Regarding the three band names they came up with, there is now a band called Satan's Fingers And The Hospital Bombers. The other name is also taken.

    Frank Turner - Back In The Day
    Hardcore bluegrass! Along the same lines, the former Million Dead singer turned perma-touring opinionated odds-shouter grows up among the punks. Turner is one of the surely scarce people to have covered live a song by...

    Half Man Half Biscuit - Running Order Squabble Fest
    Because for these purposes it's obligatory.

    Pavement - Range Life
    Slacker lo-fi, they called it in the day, but Malkmus and Kannberg were far too smart for all that, here documenting the ageing hippy watching the Lollapalooza hordes with some disquiet.

    Loudon Wainwright III - Talking New Bob Dylan
    Father of him and her, but in the mid-70s Loudon was, yes, a New Bob Dylan manque. Which, going on this, he'd gladly admit to.

    Dire Straits - Sultans Of Swing
    This is the Heart FM section of the Covermount, right here, but rarely has the idea of the pub band as escape, and indeed as What We Do, been better expressed. And let's not overlook that they made their TV debut on Peter Cook-helmed punk show Revolver.

    The Wrens - This Boy Is Exhausted
    One time next big things, this is on the album that emerged seven years after the one that was supposed to make them big after record company difficulties, hence the resigned tone bolstered by the thought that "once a while We'll play a show (that) makes it worthwhile"

    Okkervil River - Unless It's Kicks
    Will Sheff's extended treatise on entertainment and fandom, here about the pure obsession of music. Hell, it's why we do this.

    Mos Def - Rock N Roll
    Alright, the nu-metal outro's hard to stomach from this distance, but cross-pollination rarely worked out this way where the hip-hopper acknowledges "When I get down in my zone I be rockin Bad Brains and Fishbone" but points out that none of this rock'n'roll fad is whitey's anyway.

    Cursive - Art Is Hard
    Emo, in a good way, Tim Kasher attempting to personify emotional catharsis in showbiz. Oberst, eat shit.

    Jawbreaker - Tour Song
    A touring song, but one about the bus breaking down rather than the tyranny of the New York chain hotel.

    Sleater-Kinney - Words And Guitar
    Which is what Corin and Carrie specialised in, and it's what you, the Sleater-Kinney listener, want.

    Let's Wrestle - I Wish I Was In Husker Du
    Which starts "I wish I was in Part Chimp". Inscrutable, these North London lo-fi types. They're the new Pooh Sticks!

    The Wannadies - Might Be Stars
    Less involved than most in its subject, but Swedish melodica rock is likeable however you slice it.

    Bow Wow Wow - C30 C60 C90 Go!
    Even in this brand-extension era nobody's recorded a tribute to the means of the mp3 player. Malcolm McLaren's Machiavellian meanderings, of course.

    Suburban Kids With Biblical Names - Rent A Wreck
    They've been around the indie world but they can't find their, erm, Frosties, apparently.

    M - Pop Muzik
    Robin Scott says: "I was looking to make a fusion of various styles which somehow would summarize the last 25 years of pop music. It was a deliberate point I was trying to make. Whereas rock and roll had created a generation gap, disco was bringing people together on an enormous scale. That's why I really wanted to make a simple, bland statement, which was, 'All we're talking about basically (is) pop music'".

    Mott The Hoople - Saturday Gigs
    "I was ready to quit, but then we went to Croydon!" Ian Hunter's farewell to the not actually one hit wonders but may as well be, although oddly not meant as such as Hunter didn't decide to leave until after its release. Imagine if they'd continued for another couple of albums after this career coda.

    And in part two later this week, songs about hating it all.

    Monday, March 10, 2008

    Good housekeeping

    A reminder that if you haven't tried the free mp3s from our top 30 of 2007 they'll be taken down next Monday, so if at all interested get to it.

    Elsewhere, here's where Brit-soul and Twin Peaks conjoin.

    Sunday, March 09, 2008

    Weekender : wondering what's happened to that Hot Puppies album

    WHAT CD?
    - We're not ones to gossip, but when a couple of months ago the NME ran a feature in which assorted glitterati were invited to pose a question to Tim Harrington, one singer who clearly knew more about the subject than Kyle from the View, who asked "why do you never play in Dundee?", submitted several questions for the writer to pick from. One was "after being around for over a decade, why do you think it's taken the forward thinking NME so long to bother about you?" They didn't use it, no. Should you wish to catch up after last year's sort of breakthrough Let's Stay Friends, being given its first proper UK release this week is Inches, a compilation of their 7" single only releases from 1995 to 2004, and if any band emerged with a fully formed sound, head-on to spare and their own sense of place, it's LSF. Most of the band's pre-2007 set texts are here - The Sweat Descends, Yawn Yawn Yawn, Hold On To Your Genre, Knowing How The World Works, Meet Me In The Dollar Bin, We'll Make a Lover of You... you can probably survive without Reformat (Dramatic Reading), in all honesty, but if you have any interest in that whole skipping art rock thing you'll need to know where they all got it from.

    - It shouldn't be the most interesting thing about it, but in this day and age even the best major label minds haven't managed it, and besides the facts are there - as far as we know, it's the weekend ahead of the release of the second Young Knives album Superabundance and it hasn't leaked. How have Transgressive managed it? Voodoo? Payola? Another interesting thing this album's build-up has confirmed is that the now definite article-less trio may be able to write a three minute song with hooks and a chantalong line or two in the chorus but they're actually less good at singles than albums - She's Attracted To told you nothing about Voices Of Animals And Men, and Up All Night won't be much of a lead-on to the overall effect of this one, said to be more stripped back and exploring the Wicker Man-with-amps side of that first album but also with a right cob on. Tony Doogan (Belle & Sebastian, Mogwai, Mountain Goats, Delgados, Teenage Fanclub, Hefner) produces, a good sign in itself.

    - As tweed, city wear, Ashby De La Zouch, XTC references and bassists who act as a second chamber vetoing all their bandmates' ideas who are renamed accordingly are to Young Knives, so Spacemen 3-inspired 15 minute jams, The Mayan Prophecies, clothing optional dorms, misleading iTunes previews and LSD are to postmodern Brooklynites MGMT - nice to know for the press release, but not really indicative of the sound. Actually, the LSD might be, the hopelessly titled Oracular Spectacular taking leaps within the modern glam sphere from Scissor Sisters to Of Montreal to Sparks to even early Mew. Produced by Dave Fridmann, it suggests they're already at a point his more famous clients the Flaming Lips took three or four albums to reach, and then who knows where it could lead to.

    - The Kills enter album three Midnight Boom in a for them rarefired atmosphere of being on the paparazzi list, which we'll skip by except to mention that Jamie Hince was described in initial Mirror reports that failed to otherwise identify him as "a Pete Doherty lookalike". In that he looks like he's had a lot of late nights, true. As well as more live reviewers writing "the magnetism is such you wonder if Kate is here looking on in disgust" - actually, no, Alison's probably met her - What that also means is more attention on their music, which makes a timely move from fashionista Suicide scuzz to the grimiest of pop, overseen by Spank Rock producer Alex Epton, who trades under the none more Dazed & Confused soubriquet Armani XXXchange, and inspired by Pizza Pizza Daddy-O, a 1960s documentary charting the hand-clapping singing games played in Afro-American school playgrounds (Hince: "what I loved was that the hand clapping rhythms were so upbeat and yet the lyrics were so, so dark, about alcoholism and domestic violence and abortion and stuff like that - it was like Edgar Allen Poe or something". If you say so.)

    - It'd be remiss of us not to mention that Squeeze's Frank is back out for its twentieth anniversary shindig. Their last album with Jools Holland, in our Illustrated Guide we described as "artistically successful, Difford back to lyrical sharpness, Tilbrook ever improving as an arranger, Holland and Lavis on form. Of course, it sank without trace commercially." Also on the skilfully rearranged tip, intangibly scrappy self-referential poets the Monochrome Set put out The Independent Singles Collection.

    - Singles? God, we've got singles this week. It's lucky we're not still just listing every half-decent single out every week because you'd never reach the end of this week's selection, featuring as it does more superb records than seems fair for one Monday's worth. For the first few we'll just keep it to the top ten of the year contenders, and the first one not making it easy for themselves as it's limited as it is to 300 7"s, or at least it was until Best Before Records lost two-thirds of them in transit. After seeing them live last weekend we've decided Johnny Foreigner are, go on, let's say it, the most exciting new band we've discovered in the last six months, and Our Bipolar Friends is one of the reasons why. It cuts out the middlemen who've threatened to drag the good name of indie-punk down, pretends Cap'n Jazz are as influential as Pixies and proceeds to charge hell for leather from start, or at least once the simmering intro has exploded into life, to finish. If Waited Up Til It Was Light is half as special as this it'll still be high up in the end of year list.

    - But, in their own way, bands who've been around a bit and have the tatty bear costume to prove it can make an impact entirely apart from supposed peers. People who get paid for this stuff always tell us that British Sea Power should be massive. Well, obviously they should be in a fair and just world, but they're never really going to be, they're far too angular, too prolix, too offputting for those unwilling to put the effort in. No Lucifer is out on 10", the song which beds on a chanted tribute to "an obscure wrestler" - yes, Pitchfork, just the most famous wrestler BSP's home country has ever produced - and comes accompanied by a video that in the field of cross-media entertainment makes the Judder Man seem as scary as Holly Willoughby. For further reading, this thread on their forum tries to make sense of the politi-MC Escher nature of its lyrics.

    - A sentence, we can guarantee, we will never use about Foals. Now, the Foals backlash is in full swing at the moment, whether it be fans sticking to the trusted guns of the filesharing age about how The Demos Were Better or just people put off by their big claims of sticking it to the post-rock fascists and journeying to the stars with music, or something like that. All this is mere decolletage next to the music, and Cassius pings about, their most streamlined single yet but still math-poppy enough to stick out like a sore thumb on daytime Radio 1 like closing time at the geek club disco.

    - In these days of The Metros getting a record deal, we need bands like Gindrinker as a British music equilibrium balance. Gindrinker are Graf on guitar like Steve Albini dragged through the national forest backwards and DC Gates on ripping both the art of character study and the art of singing to shreds. Plus, a drum machine. That they are still only Cardiff's best kept cult secret - they're supporting the Fall tonight, which is surely the least they could do - and not heroes of the nation is unfortunate, but give it time, letter from God to man Work It Out (b/w Ayn Rand Sez) is only their first single, on Spencer McGarry's label Businessman Records.

    - The Futureheads are virtually old warhorses now, but in the sense that they will remain the underachieving megalith of the fleet. It's worth remembering that many commentators who saw them on the 2005 NME tour predicted they would remain a big noise long after fellow travellers the Killers, Kaiser Chiefs and Bloc Party had been washed away by the ebb of fad. The Beginning Of The Twist takes something of both previous albums, the liveliness and determination of the self-titled debut and the taught/taut conciseness of News And Tributes' louder moments. More of this and Broke Up The Time reflected on This Is Not The World and post-punk will finally be able to receive its prolonged last rites in peace.

    - In the first chapter of bands whose press would put the unwary off you'll find the Mystery Jets. Talk of prog namechecks, community shows on a man-made island in Twickenham, pot and pan percussion and having the singer's dad in the band are not the stuff Coldplay are made of, but Making Dens had a three minute pop heart beyond its Jethro Tull stylings. They return, sans (at least in the touring version) Henry Harrison, as an actual three minute pop band of sorts, Young Love boasting a memorable hook, and a jangle, and a clearly defined chorus, and some 'way-oh' backing vocals. Interestingly it's guitarist Will Rees on vocals alongside Laura Marling. Keeping us on our toes to the last.

    - After a decent length build-up things finally seem to be happening for Dave Tattersall, the Wymeswold Jonathan Richman, and his band The Wave Pictures. They've signed to home of the minor hits Moshi Moshi, have just done a fine Take Away Show and release another scrappily poetic Hefnerish effort, I Love You Like A Madman. You'll go a long way to find another song that namechecks chutney.

    - Also, Johnny Flynn's Leftovers isn't his strongest hand but reinforces the notion that A Larum could be a slow burning favourite, and the suspicion that Universal/Mercury subsidiary Vertigo don't really know what to do with him, while Elbow come on like a Northern Tom Waits with the jazz beaten out of him on Grounds For Divorce.

    COMING SOON: The Last Shadow Puppets is the title of the collaboration between Alex Turner and the Rascals' Miles Kane, the latter presumably the Brendan Benson of the project. The Age Of The Understatement, released on 21st April, is produced by James Ford and with strings arranged by Owen Pallett, giving it an orchestral sheen very much taking after the galloping melodrama of Scott Walker's Jackie. Yes, there's an enigmatic trailer, and a video for the title track.

    MYSPACE INVADERS: We were going to cover The Low Edges this week, but as they played their final gig on Tuesday there's probably not much point keeping an eye out for them. When in doubt, then, pick a Leicester band, so here's Minnaars, very much at base camp having played their first gig in January but have already landed a Young Knives support and forthcoming studio time with Tom Woodhead off of ¡Forward, Russia! They've got that disco-punk math-tappy Tim/Mike Kinsella thing going on that half of Britain seems to be getting into these days and Foals represent the commercial end of - it's not surprising to learn at least one of them used to be in Tired Irie - which suggests that if it doesn't all blow over in the wake of Antidotes there's a foothold here to potentially really good things.

    VISUAL AID: There's a busy couple of weeks ahead on STN, but we're going to try and find room to review a televisual document of an age past in the next two or three weeks with a heavy Manchester connection. In looking that up, we found Madchester - The Sound Of The North, a May 1990 Granada production, surely with Anthony H Wilson's fingerprints all over it given it's found room for Northside. Taking the Hacienda as an understandable Mecca, it also features the Mondays, the Inspirals, A Guy Called Gerald, 808 State with MC Tunes, Freaky Dancing fanzine, Joe Bloggs clothing and Central Station designers, so is pretty much a primary source for any sociological work you may have planned on the place and era. It's in eight parts on YouTube, so stand back: one two three four five six seven eight.

    * News reaches us from the mighty Anathallo, of and to whom we have spoken at great length in the past, that if you like what you've heard of them so far but are going without their unreleased in the UK back catalogue, until this Wednesday they're offering a special Britain only deal of $12 for Floating World or $16 for that plus early rarity compilation Anathallogy.

    * Many years ago full length videos incorporating every song on an album were talked about as a serious proposition before getting overtaken by the brainwave of just making a film instead, like It Couldn't Happen Here or that ABC one. In the modern era a few bands, most famously Super Furry Animals, are taking advantage of reduced technology costs and increased multimedia free thinking to resuscitate the idea on their own scale. Landing on our doormat yesterday morning was a promo of SixNationState's download and USB only video album due on May 26th, and before then iLiKETRAiNS are having a go. And let's face it, if you were to make a list of bands likely to make their own video-incorporating effort iLiKETRAiNS, with their historical touchstones and in-house animation unit Broken Pixel, the project of cornet player Ashley Dean, would be high up on your list. The DVD of Elegies To Lessons Learnt is released on 21st April, described as "a beautiful and disturbing observation, which follows a bewildered soul as he travels through a series of historical events, depicted in the subject matters of the band’s album. Self-produced, the film adds another dimension to the cacophonic experience of the album and is a wonderful companion for it." Have a butchers at the trailer.

    * What lacks in a proper title it makes up for in invention - you put your profile username in and it creates a YouTube constantly streaming playlist of whatever's out there. If you need to know, our first five clips were Sandie Shaw on Whistle Test, Those Dancing Days live on Swedish telly, the Future Of The Left video, some Monkey Swallows The Universe live footage and Jens Lekman playing You Are The Light on a ukelele.

    * And yet more musicians blogging. Let's face it, Eddie Argos may be the least surprising musical blog maintainer in the land, and it keeps the working man constantly on the go in 24/7 touch with Argos' myriad projects, the latest one in which he and Keith TOTP pick a favourite song and record a cover of it in a living room. Also catching our eye is MSN's own music blog throwing light on the inner world of the industry, The Insider. And what level are we talking here? Why, Kevin Hendrick, the former Seafood bassist now in noiseniks PRE! Not that it's pointless him doing it or he hasn't got writing skills or insight, but if you're MSN barking up your Insider music blog that's a lot of Britney rubberneckers you're potentially disapponting.