Sunday, September 21, 2008

Weekender : Tony Cascarino circa 1995

- This is the week when the autumnal burst of massive releases kicks off, but never mind your Kings Of Leons and your Katy Perrys, because there's an album that we have a real sense of excitement and foreboding about. TV On The Radio, see, have made two proper albums and they've both been our album of their respective years (Desperate Youth Bloodthirsty Babes predating STN, obviously, but we have notebooks). Now comes Dear Science, universally described as "their most accessible record to date/fulfilling their potential" as if those first two works were noise projects. Although they often weren't very comfortable listening, we'll grant you. The whole thing's currently streaming on their Myspace, which is handy as like the puffs we are we haven't actually brought ourselves round to listening to it yet. You know, "just in case". Lot of fucking help we are, we know. Look, it's TVOTR with a Princely pop edge, what more do you need? See you at the end of year list.

- They never come up in conversations about favourite British independent labels - come on, you all have them - but the self contained Memphis Industries' roster has always been a byword for interest beyond the "will this do?", and it's telling that their two big hitters, the Go! Team and the Pipettes, have both returned after dalliances with major labels, as did the Brewis brothers for their projects after the last days of Field Music contained what seemed to us to be some none too subtle hints in interviews about the label's leading role in their putting the band on ice. Absentee, despite being lured away into more glamorous pastures by a place on the recent Transgressive tour through that label controlling their publishing, are a typical MI band, getting on with the job at hand irrespective of which way the pop world is leaning. With Dan Michaelson's Cohen baritone to lean on they're only ever going to sound one way, and on second album Victory Shorts they repeat the trick of matching buoyant dark pop to Michaelson's Smog-recalling doom and damnation. Also out this week a couple of slightly disappointing sophomore albums, Cold War Kids' Loyalty To Loyalty and the Spinto Band's Moonwink.

- And in singles.... you know the theory that every artist has one good song in them? Crystal Castles' isn't even theirs, it's HEALTH's, but still the 8-bit mutant disco of Crimewave has to come from somewhere. Guillemots' spectacularly underwhelming Red at least gives up its best track Kriss Kross, while east London power (tools) trio Popular Workshop's claustrophobic anxiety of Reptilians previews next month's debut album.

MYSPACE INVADERS: Fancy something all gothic and dark folkie? Euchrid Eucrow is, well, the mysterious Euchrid, plus Caroline Weeks from Bat For Lashes' band and Abi Fry of same plus British Sea Power. That he/they are named after the lead character from Nick Cave's novel And The Ass Saw The Angel is some indication of just how desolate it is, but in there are echoes of the accordion-led Balkan music appropriated by A Hawk And A Hacksaw and, if even just in Eucrow's keening voice, of some place you wouldn't dare go on a misty night, or at any time.

VISUAL AID: "Hop around, lose all your junk!" Reginald Bosanquet was main ITN anchor between 1974 and 1976, famous for his slurred delivery and alleged drinking habit. His Wikipedia entry contains the line "He also reached the headlines for breaking into his ex-wife's flat, an offence which got him thrown off the judging panel for Dustman of the Year 1975." In 1980, he made this... would 'song' be too kind? It's called Dance With Me, it was voted 'top' of Kenny Everett's Bottom 30 after its 1980 release and it makes you wonder if the Disco Demolition people at Comiskey Park had a point. It's not even ironic in the illfated way of the Jim Bowen Rap, more in the lineage of Larry Grayson's Shut That Door or John Inman's similarly catchphrase heavy and similarly enlightened effort, and especially Rising Damp, wherein over similar wine bar disco funk Leonard Rossiter freestyles a set of Rigsby one-liners. Even Frank Carson was guided studiowards in the 1970s, slipping into a transatlantic accent on the chorus. And then there's Tiswas' Four Bucketeers...

* Inevitably, while we've been away essentially everything has changed, not least that we're now contributing long form reviews for The Line Of Best Fit. Do have a look.

* After a hiatus Welcome To Our TV Show! is back. No Warmsley in this one, being on tour and that, but Fay takes up the slack with Ontario-originating nut Mayor McCA, the burlesque Etta James of Paloma Faith and three songs in five minutes from Jay Reatard. Full band, too. The next TV Show, in what is unlikely to be an unconnected development, has been recorded elsewhere.

* So Los Campesinos! are going on this frankly ridiculous tour with No Age and Times New Viking, and fair to say they're well prepared for an online run on it. That it has its own site is a good start. That it has a Twitter - well, it's the modern age. Brilliantly, it's also having a YouTube account dedicated to it, at the moment harbouring merely an introduction from... well... it's a Los Campesinos! event. Take a wild guess. (Note the expertly placed At The Club poster) We'd be happier if they were playing somewhere we could easily get to and back from on a weekend, but you can't always get what you want.

* Remember the run of band specific blogs from a while back? One such, the REM-centric Pop Songs 07-08, finished a little while ago... until Michael Stipe came across it and expressed an interest, so much so that he's now taking questions about the lyrics and related issues.

* Label news, and Wichita want your email address. In return, they'll allow you access to a fifteen track compilation including Los Campesinos!, Sky Larkin, Les Savy Fav, Those Dancing Days, Conor Oberst, Peter Bjorn & John, Euros Childs, the Dodos, Her Space Holiday and Simian Mobile Disco. Meanwhile Smalltown America, a label you'll be hearing more about on here later in the week, have gone into podcasting, the first three 'casts featuring songs variously by such young shavers as 4 Or 5 Magicians, Superman Revenge Squad, the Chiara L's, Ice Sea Dead People, Applicants, Tubelord, This Town Needs Guns, Calories, The Kabeedies, Alan MX, Brontosaurus Chorus, The Retro Spankees, The Light Sleepers and Lovvers.

* And some updates on bands previously covered on STN: the ace one-man band Superman Revenge Squad has an eleven track CD which can be ordered for £3 through his Myspace; and The Wonderland Project write after our coverage of their CD dissemination plan to say that records have already made their way to Nova Scotia and Bridlington (which is namechecked in one of the songs), and you can keep track of their progress on this map. Meanwhile the first issue of Phonogram: The Singles Club, as mentioned a couple of weeks back, has a landing date of December 10th and therefore can now be pre-ordered from your local comic stockist. "Penny B wrestles with the big questions: Will she get the boy? Will the DJ play her record? Why was her gin and tonic so expensive? In a world where music is magic, she’ll discover just how deep shallow actually gets." Apparently.

* Who wants to go see some television being filmed in Manchester? No, scrub that: who wants to see Johnny Foreigner for free in Manchester this Wednesday? They're recording a live session for Channel M at 2pm, and if you email they'll let you know if there's any spaces left. If you prefer Fujiya & Miyagi you're mad, but if you want to see them a day later under the same circumstances go through the same procedure.

* Finally, a note to bring to wider attention the fact that the B-side to Cliff Richard's new single is called Mobile Alabama School Leaving Hullabaloo. Mobile Alabama School Leaving Hullabaloo!

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