Sunday, May 18, 2008

Weekender : we can dye our hair and you can call us Tracy Tracy

- A couple of big weeks are approaching, but when we looked at this week's schedule we found little of real note. New Sparks album, Scarlett Johanssen's thing with David Sitek and some Tom Waits songs that aren't Sixteen Shells In A Thirty-Ought-Six - damn you! - the Ting Tingssssss... El Perro Del Mar might be worth a shot, 2006's self-titled dark Spectorisms a slow burning triumph, From The Valley To The Stars widening to take in a Brian Wilson Smile kaleidoscope and reflects the title's melancholy wonderment.

- There's nothing more disappointingly disconcerting than a hype band who have everything except hype. If you've read anything about Johnny Foreigner it's that everyone's talking about them (they aren't), they're creating an enormous nationwide stir (we counted eighteen people when we last saw them, and that included the support acts and their famed driver Lea - Alexei tried to take a register mid-set) and they're bound for the very top, because god knows there's nothing Heart FM love more than songs about rubbish nightclubs in Birmingham set to the sound of Tim Kinsella throwing Gareth Campesinos! at a wall at a Urusei Yatsura barbeque. The outcome is it might mean you've already decided you want nothing to do with them. For our part we've been as pumped up about them as anyone, and we apologise, but some people on the Internet adoring them is not the same as every media outlet suggesting you do likewise. Remember that. On the other hand, if they keep producing singles like Eyes Wide Terrified we're going to keep salivating and reddening in the face over their glorious images.

- More on them when their album comes out in two weeks' time, inevitably. Two artists have singles out one week ahead of new LPs, and while the Futureheads rally against the tyranny of major label commercial expectations by, um, releasing their most commercial single to date (Hounds Of Love inclusive), Radio Heart, more interesting is Johnny Flynn's Tickle Me Pink. This appeared on our Class Of '07 covermount in demo form when it was an understated, violin-led gem; now, with the Sussex Wit on board, it's a banjo-fronted fully committed quasi-hoedown. Actually, we reckon both versions are as good as each other now. Young Knives do the decent thing and put Turn Tail out, while Feist finds the other single-worthy indie-soul nugget on The Reminder and releases I Feel It All on download only. Also out tomorrow: My Year In Lists! At last. Come on, LC!, you're never going to take over the world with this sort of flexible release schedule.

- Now the only live music show on television not sponsored by a hair care company, and we refuse to count Sound before anyone says because it keeps going on about sixteen year olds going to gigs as if it's a new development in life, Later With Jools Holland sticks out The First Fifteen Years. On this volume are more delights than you'd imagine, as long as they haven't been on one of the previous Jools DVDs: the celebrated audience confusing Scott Walker performance of Rosary, John Cale taking back Hallelujah, Love with Arthur Lee doing Alone Again Or, Radiohead, Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello, REM, Blur, Beck, Arcade Fire, Battles, Nick Cave,, Al Green, LCD Soundsystem, Kirsty Maccoll, The Who, the Flaming Lips, PJ Harvey, Martha Wainwright, Warren Zevon, Massive Attack, the Foo Fighters, Feist solo with a proper brass section...

COMING SOON: Slow Down Tallahassee are one of those bands who could earn themselves a mighty cult following no matter how much radio and press coverage they did. Doubtless they already have in their native Sheffield, and doubtless those people will lap up The Beautiful Light, out on the 26th. They're a dual female vocalist outfit who cite Henry Darger and early Madonna as equal influences and make pure lo-fi harmony indiepop wondrousness with ageing synths and a drum machine. Let's say the Breeders reworking Dolly Mixture, save a bit for next week's proper preview and instead serve up tracks offered by their label as an aperitif, single manque The Beautiful Light and piano-led Limbs.

The fine people putting this out, by the by, are Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation, longtime supporters of the local underground scene who put out a couple of Long Blondes singles way back when. Also on their books are The Bon Bon Club, a vox, bass and drum-only covers band apparently made up of Sushi Quatro, Thirsty Moore and Chapatti Smith, and if you're looking at their photo and thinking "but that's just Reenie and Screech out of the aforementioned Long Blondes and Claire from Navvy and moreover Slow Down Tallahassee, who this bit is supposed to be about!", then we're impressed that you recognised the latter.

MYSPACE INVADERS: London based Anglo-German outfit Kaputt were formed by one-time Go! Teamer Silke Steidinger. That band like the odd Sonic Youth noise moment and so do these, although it's the streamlined moments of their early major label days that it's most reminiscent of, given a Peter Hook bassline, the records Interpol had by the studio CD player when they were making Turn On The Bright Lights and working knowledge of Electrelane-style femme-cool motorik. They'll get well under your skin.

VISUAL AID: Look at the tableau at the start of this German telly clip. A probably self-consciously 'wacky' gentleman, some curious greenery on the table, the general air of a mid-afternoon talk-in. When the female presenter introduces some music, you half expect Donny Osmond or some sub-Parkinson nu-jazz. No. It's McLusky, doing She Will Only Bring You Happiness. To make them seem even more out of place, watch the onscreen DOG's scrolling display of musical guests on some other forthcoming show, including Avril Lavigne and a couple of German popettes. They've amused the girl on the left at 4:19, in any case, perhaps because unlike her disinterested mate she's aware of what they're singing at the end. It's questionable how much Andy Falkous actually wants the host to take their photo afterwards too, although bear in mind we now know the unwitting irony of the question posed by her at 4:35. Regular readers will know McLusky's other great TV appearance and b3ta fans will know their Joel Veitch history, but here's a thing. Falco has always sought to divorce Future Of The Left from McLusky to an extent, but apparently because the latter never toured Australia, when FOTL went there in March he made it up to them. They've come up with a workable method of finising a set too.

* Apparently we have featured the Black Cab Sessions before, which we'd expect as the first two people to be stuffed in the back of a cab driven round London and told to play for the bloke in the front with the digicam were Johnny Flynn and Emmy The Great, but we can't find it now. Don't worry, though, they've got on fine without us, the scope and depth in no way fully represented by a list of Okkervil River, the Futureheads, Spoon, Noah And The Whale plus Laura Marling, Daniel Johnston, Jeffrey Lewis, Death Cab For Cutie, The National, Bill Callahan, Lightspeed Champion, Scout Niblett, the New Pornographers, Seasick Steve, the Raveonettes, Lykke Li and the Felice Brothers. And the Kooks. Doesn't say how they slipped through.

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