Sunday, November 30, 2008

Weekender : cosmic dullness

- Frank Turner - is he human, or is he dancer? He's certainly restless, playing, we believe, somewhere in Europe as you read this. Something that's probably true whenever you read that sentence, come to think of it. The First Three Years collects early and rare songs from his EPs, vinyl singles, digital only releases, tour CDs and the back of the drawer, including covers of Abba, the Lemonheads, the Postal Service, Black Flag, Bad Brains and whoever you want to credit You Are My Sunshine to. Among the singles we'd recommend this week are the latest from the estimable Moshi Moshi Singles Club, fifteen-piece San Francisco psych-poppers Still Flyin' with Good Thing It's A Ghost Town Around Here, and a big old pounding song with a big old pounding vocal from Florence And The Machine. Although she's had a few Sweep entries we have no end of reservations about WACKY! Florence Welch, what with being an airy, affected WACKY! sarf Lahndener who's mates with Daisy Lowe, Nick Grimshaw and that appalling lot and is, fucking hell, managed by the WACKY! Queens Of Noize. But yeah, we'll see. It's called Dog Days, by the way. Or possibly Dog Days Are Over, nobody seems entirely sure. WACKY! Look, there's far more amenable things being released on far smaller labels with far, far smaller Guardian Guide-friendly WACKY! profiles. For example, good to see a debut 7" on Bronzerat from Joe Gideon and the Shark, the brother/sister duo who trade in dark bluesy malevolence and song stories that make the musical touches sound positively twee. Nick Cave's choice of European tour support, and you can see why he'd admire this stuff, the hypnotic intensity of DOL is a fine starter. Also in non-recorded media: it's been out for a few weeks, but Turned Out Nice Again: The Story of British Light Entertainment by Louis Barfe comes with our seal of approval. Barfe, who previously wrote the record industry history Where Have All The Good Times Gone?, charts the history of LE from vaudeville to telly and all points inbetween, including assorted musical spectaculars. Also, the first part of Phonogram: The Singles Club, the second story in Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's music-is-magic comic fantasia, is published by Image on the 7th. You see that The Line Of Best Fit link over there, yeah? Keep an eye on that over the next couple of weeks for Gillen facing up to our daunting *cough* questioning.

The rest of December
- You know, as good as it is for Matador to embark on this Pavement reissue programme, you'd think they'd put some effort in. Brighten The Corners: Nicene Creedence Ed. restrains itself to just an extra disc and a half of B-sides, two unreleased versions of 7" B-sides, Peel, Evening Session and KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic sessions, for unreleased tracks, a contribution to a The Clean tribute album, a live version of Type Slowly from a Free Tibet fundraiser and their two Space Ghost Coast To Coast themes. Did we mention the 62 page booklet? Anyway, this is the album with Stereo and Shady Lane on, where they calmed down and matured a bit but retained their off-message oddities and compelling complexities. Meanwhile the latest product in the latent Smiths cash cow is a vinyl box set, twelve 7"s of their first ten UK singles plus the promo of the withdrawn Still Ill and the Dutch issue of The Headmaster Ritual. Unusually, there's a fresh new album out for the full week before Christmas, 15th December, Meursault's Pissing On Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues. We'll be telling you more about this soon.

- Two EPs also catch our eye, one looking forward, one very much looking back. Three Trapped Tigers, who've eponymised their debut EP, are an instrumental trio produced by Gordon 'Strokes' Raphael and led by Tom Rogerson, inventive keyboard scion to Jeremy Warmsley and Emmy The Great. These are five tracks, numbered one to five for unease of use, who've channelled their improvised past into a meld of skewed electronics, Battles/Trans Am ambient to noise invention and post-rock dynamics. It's like Warp set up in the middle of Washington DC's hardcore scene, and it's terrifyingly great. The retrospectives are the work of Cat Power, who's found a six track EP's worth of unreleased covers from the Jukebox sessions - Otis, Aretha, Sandy Denny, The Pogues, Creedence Clearwater Revival, James Carr - down the back of the chaise longue and has put them out as the Dark End Of The Street EP. Proper new album soon-ish, reputedly called Sun, but she said that last autumn.

- The two constituent parts of The Darkness formed ironic hard rock bands; ex-Towers Of London members either went on to heavy rock futures or joined Jimmy Pursey's post-Sham 69 band. Clearly, if you're part of a gimmick-laden band it's something that doesn't leave you easily... unless you're Rose Elinor Dougall, nee Rosay Pipette. True, Julia Indelicate has already proved you can shed that band's manifesto and choreography-heavy polka dotted skin, but the peppy psych-pop of Another Version Of Pop Song, essentially a less gravelly and more vocally likeable Amy MacDonald fronting The Sundays were they produced by Tim Gane, would stand out whatever its protagonist had previously done, which is all you can ask of a debut 7". As is the debut by Dinosaur Pile-Up, the trio we featured as a Myspace undiscovered discovery a while ago. My Rock'n'Roll is actually quite a deceptive record, built on a crunchingly meaty riff and a heap of Weezerish power-pop moves, while their earlier demos promised much more of the Pavement/Guided By Voices school of oddly configured awkward guitar anti-anthemry. With these, Sky Larkin's debut album, Napoleon IIIrd's second, Grammatics, The Rosie Taylor Project, i concur, The Manhattan Love Suicides, Pulled Apart By Horses, ultCult, The Seven Inches, The Chiara L's (whatever's happening to them given their Facebook group is referring to their next gig as "Last gig as The Chiara L's") and the now moved there Her Name Is Calla, Leeds is poised for a huge 2009. Let's all move there. As for next week, the only Christmas single you need is Silvery's cover of You Give A Little Love from Bugsy Malone. And that'll do.

MYSPACE INVADERS: Last new band of the year, so let's make it one who are already creating some attention. David Cronenberg's Wife would probably be surprised to be described as famous on any level, but they've had radio sessions and a few decent bookings. You can probably make a reasonably accurate guess to their musical direction from their name - they've been listed among the London anti-folkers quite often but theirs is a sound less easy to pin down, probably most of all The Fall with slightly straighter but ultimately more worrying lyrical content (and clearer singing), sometimes the Birthday Party becalmed and vaguely in tune, sometimes Brakes forcibly having their their country side removed down a dark alley (My Best Friend's Going Out With A Girl I Like is only ever a few inches away from I Can't Stand To Stand Beside You off Give Blood), sometimes Nuggets bands with electrodes added. Darker than dark and without any ideal of getting on playlists and labels, this is where pure alternative music should stand in 2008.

VISUAL AID: Right, somehow we've never got round to covering Christmas songs on here, and there's videos and performances online for all the classics - We Wish You A Wombling Merry Christmas, What Are We Gonna Get For 'Er Indoors, Merry Christmas Santa Claus by Max Headroom... On terra firma, there's only home made videos for Low's Just Like Christmas but someone recorded Snow Patrol's cover at the Union Chapel, plus a snatch of Two-Step off Secret Name as an intro. Say what you like about them, you don't get that from Chris Martin. Also, you don't see or hear I Was Born On Christmas Day by Saint Etienne and Tim Burgess much nor, despite its reputation, Stop The Cavalry. But really, for the true spirit of Christmas we must look to the traditional religious outlet of Joseph Spence.

* Andrew WK - don't ask how we know this, by the way - chose one of his own songs for first dance at his wedding reception. Ever wondered what plebs pick? Timely as it is, if you found your first dance was to be to Fairytale Of New York we'd be thinking long and hard. Let's Stay Together doesn't bode well either, and as for Eurythmics' Thorn In My Side...

* Aaaaand that's where we wrap the weekend features up for 2008. Where we wrap Weekender up, in fact. Thing is, we kind of feel the impact upon yourselves, the readers, of finding new bands/records/videos/links is somewhat dulled by restricting them to this little space, so instead of spending half the week working towards this splurge we'll be picking only the finest fruits as and when we find them, and hopefully in greater detail for more impact. As such the Weekly Sweep, which stays because we like it, moves to Sundays as a better full stop to a week's lazy blogging. Tomorrow, as previously advertised, the end of the year begins. In the meantime, Rock Paparazzi.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Weekly Sweep

Last one of the year:

  • Clinic - Tomorrow [YouTube]
  • The Crookes - Backstreet Lovers [Myspace]
  • David Holmes - The Holy Pictures [Myspace]
  • Dinosaur Pile-Up - My Rock'n'Roll [Myspace]
  • Eagleowl - Blanket [Myspace] (Song By Toad Records have put out their five track EP/mini-album For The Thoughts You Never Had, as well as the Meursault album of which more shortly. We're thinking Low, Tindersticks, Red House Painters, the Delgados a bit)
  • Everything Everything - Suffragette Suffragette [Myspace]
  • Florence And The Machine - Dog Days [YouTube]
  • Franz Ferdinand - Ulysses [Myspace]
  • Grammatics - The Vague Archive [YouTube]
  • Hello Saferide - I Wonder Who Is Like This One [Myspace]
  • The Hold Steady - Stay Positive [Myspace video]
  • Joe Gideon And The Shark - DOL [YouTube]
  • Johnny Foreigner - Lea Room [Myspace]
  • Meursault - The Dirt & The Roots [Myspace] (It may not out until 15th December, but this album cannot be ignored. And we won't.)
  • Picture Books In Winter - Open Heart Surgery [Myspace]
  • Sky Larkin - Beeline [Myspace video]
  • Slow Club - Christmas TV [Myspace] (Out on download 8th December, seeing as we forgot to mention it in Weekender)
  • Stars And Sons - In The Ocean [Myspace]
  • Three Trapped Tigers - 1 [Myspace]
  • TV On The Radio - Dancing Choose [YouTube]
  • Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    Look to the future now, it's only just begun

    A quick note to say we've reuploaded A Very Sweeping Christmas, the four CDR's worth of festive songs we've compiled over the last two years. Enjoy.

    The last good month of the year

    As longtime readers - yeah, right - will know, it's about time for normal service to be suspended on Sweeping The Nation as from December 1st we go into end of year mode. The first part of this procedure is in the post immediately above this one; then from tomorrow we commence our annual rundown in detail of the albums of the year, which we've now extended to a top 50, although still only the top thirty get full write-ups. There'll be mp3s and embeds about, as usual. No STN favourite polling this year, it'd just be the same people again and we don't want to piss on our chips. Even Warmsley, y'know, we think he likes us and he sends us links to his online filmed work and stuff, but secretly we know he desires a greater range of awareness than just answering our requests for content twice a week or whatever it must feel like.

    Can we just take a moment of your valuable if pointless time to discuss the list for this year? Being the sorts who get paranoid about misrepresentation to our nearly twelve readers, not to mention liability to get embarrassed by what we've written in retrospect, it might be worth noting that we've been chopping and changing this list for the last few weeks virtually daily, only coming up with a final order of merit when we started having to write the thing and stop mucking about. A number of albums that extends down into the chart's twenties could have been in the top ten had the wind changed, records we could write a lot more about superceded eventually by those that had more to impress us with, which is all partly why we’ve extended the full countdown to highlight those records which just missed out and might not get much attention elsewhere. Also, three other factors had to be brought into play:

    - No Half Man Half Biscuit - CSI Ambleside
    As you know we yield to few in worshipping at the altar of Blackwell, and finally seeing them live last month was properly among the best nights out we had all year. Nevertheless, it feels wrong to put their records in competition with others - they work on an entirely different plane, one which we never feel can be compared easily with others. So, to be on the safe side, they're sidelined.

    - No Los Campesinos! - We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
    Less justifiable, this one. Firstly, they say it isn’t a proper album despite being ten tracks and comfortably over half an hour long. Moreover, it makes things easier for us, as it’d take us another year to work out which of their two records is the more accomplished. We’ll cover this in brief when we get round to Hold On Now, Youngster…, but leaving it out of the countdown makes an already tricky job that much more straightforward.

    - No Anathallo – Canopy Glow
    For the simple reason that despite a good year’s worth of fevered anticipation on these pages (alright, page) we still haven’t heard it despite it apparently being released on Monday. No shop we can find stocks it, there’s no sign of our pre-order, we wouldn’t know how to go about scrounging promos off Anticon, the likes of Norman Records and Puregroove aren’t listing accurate release dates, and even the leaked torrent is different to the release version according to the band. As we have to get our top 50 sorted by the weekend for obvious reasons, even if it landed tomorrow we wouldn’t be able to give it the listening time amongst sorting out what else we’re writing about to justify any sort of decision about its worthiness compared to the rest of the year’s output. We'll write something about it in the new year, touch wood. (There's something to look forward to.)

    What else is coming up? Dissection of further Christmas top forties of yore, a good list of songs that also entertained, Weekender and Weekly Sweep round-ups, a festive television guide, and then once the whole personal listing shebang is done our mighty review of the year on New Year's Eve and the fourth annual UK Blogger Albums Of The Year Poll on New Year's Day, followed two days later by the Class Of '09 covermount ahead of the resumption of musical hostilities. Cool yule!

    Sunday, November 23, 2008

    Weekender : booking early

    WHAT CD?
    - We've talked at uneasy length about the lateness of big album releases this year, and even at this late stage the odd one is creeping through the cracks in the skirting to launch itself upon us. We've spent a decent period this week listening to Meursault's damn strong album, released on December 15th (!), and we'll talk about that nearer the time. An album we've really been anticipating for a good year or so is released this Monday, though, and as we haven't heard it yet it's really buggering up our end of year countdown preparation plans. Anathallo are longtime favourites of STN's - in fact, we interviewed since departed member Andrew Dost back in June 2006 - after picking up last album Floating World, never released in Britain, on import. That was an extraordinarily ambitious record, picking up all sorts of freak-folk and post-Sufjan batons and running with them as far as Japan, where the album's central conceit originated, conceiving a tidal wave of online hype... except for on Pitchfork, whose 2.7 - 2.7! - killed all that at a stroke. Canopy Glow is their follow-up, recorded in a church in Chicago and given international prominence thanks to the band signing to Anticon apparently at Yoni Wolf of Why?'s insistence. Essentially what they do is place delicate storytelling at the centre and then land hordes of percussion, strings, horns and choral sections atop. God, we're just reading reviews of it and we're wondering how high in said countdown we can get away with placing it.

    - In the singles world Norman Cook's The BPA's Seattle is a mere extra chalk mark on the wall for Emmy The Great guest vocals, while Clinic follow their Planetarium Of The Soul music plus animation tour, which finishes tonight at the London Scala, with Tomorrow. So there's the bands you've heard of. One you won't have are Minnaars, bringing the mathrock Kinsellacore/Minus The Bear guitars to dancepunk (yeah, a bit like Foals, but they make that remark themselves) from Britain's post-rock boom town Leicester (Kyte, Her Name Is Calla, Maybeshewill). Says here they've labelled themselves "mop", a cross between math and pop, and they can stop that nonsense at once. Their self-titled debut EP, with ¡Forward, Russia!'s Tom Woodhead at the controls, is out. Meanwhile, iLiKETRAiNS have always been irritatingly named from a Shift key point of view, but stylistically we're not sure I LIKE TRAINS is much of an improvement. Still, I LIKE TRAINS it is now, and their first single in a cornetless existence is The Christmas Tree Ship EP, a five track instrumental single piece based on the story of a ship that delivered its cargo of trees to the people of Chicago for many years until being sunk in storms in November 1912. Packaged with it is a DVD which credits a dancer. That's iLiK...I LIKE TRAINS alright.

    - Meanwhile, Chris Morris and the future The Day Today team plus Lee and Herring's Radio 4 magnificence On The Hour is released by Warp as two box sets, unedited for the first time. Nothing to do with much, but we're excited.

    MYSPACE INVADERS: In November 2006 we ran a feature called Songs To Learn And Sing, in which we invited bloggers, musicians and passers by to nominate the one song they'd like everyone to hear. You may remember it. As we always do when we're short of numbers, we asked Jeremy Warmsley to pitch his oar in, and he picked a song by a Glasgow band called Afterchristmas, comparing them to Animal Collective. That band split in March and leader Cammy and drummer Raindeer (mm) have moved on to Mitchell Museum, where everything they promised back then has for us become that crucial little bit clearer. There's echoes of a cleaned up Avey Tare and co still at work, and also like the earlier band there's a large portion of Flaming Lips wired psychedelics in there, along with Midlake back before they discovered MOR and Mercury Rev when they still had David Baker. Whacked out but somehow still oddly melodicism retaining, basically. Anyone interested in the back issues of Spencer Krug should also be tipping an ear towards this; having just released a single, the world, or at least an increasingly active Scottish scene, seems their oyster.

    VISUAL AID: It's Lee Hazlewood being introduced and interviewed by Rolf Harris! And Splodgenessabounds, of Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps Please fame, covering Two Little Boys! Meanwhile, Sandie Shaw with the JoBoxers and Steve Nieve! Be easy on us, it's near the end of the year and we've got loads of these in reserve. Some undignified Style Council miming for Dutch TV, for instance.

    * As the more astute may be aware, we're fans of quintessential British Northern Soul-indie dreamers Spearmint, which is why we're gladly noting frontman Shirley Lee has started his own site up. This is to tie in with his eponymous debut solo album, to which all of Spearmint have contributed but apparently the songs are too personal. And there'll be a diary and all that.

    * Wichita Recordings have got their vodcasts back up and running, and the latest is with one of the longest running obsessions in STN's lifespan, the three fine people of Leeds that are Sky Larkin. They talk! They play a new song acoustically while Katie sits on a car bonnet! Katie looks like Liz Barker who used to present Blue Peter even more than usual! Also recently videoed: Les Savy Fav, Conor Oberst, Those Dancing Days, Her Space Holiday and Peter 'Bjorn & John' Moren.

    * Intriguing celebrations of little regarded, or maybe little connected, trends always fascinates us, which is why we've spent some time this week reading A Trip To Toytown, a listing and explanation of 'Toytown Pop'. As the site says: "Toytown Pop is English and is derived from aspects of British lifestyle and culture. Influences include: Edward Lear, Alice in Wonderland, Listen With Mother (and later, of course, Watch With Mother), George Formby, Flanders & Swann, The Goons, The Wind in the Willows, Enid Blyton, Beatrix Potter, English fairytales, Lord Kitchener and his pals, Oscar Wilde and Victoriana in general." There's quite a few names you'd recognise - Laughing Gnome mode Bowie, the Kinks, the Bonzos, the Bee Gees, Spencer Davis Group, the Hollies, Manfred Mann, Freddie and the Dreamers, Kenny Everett, Marty Wilde, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Mike Batt - but it's the songs that'll pull in (alright, and possibly repulse. There's a lot about toys and fairytales, let's just say that.

    * And a quick bit of self-promotion, after a fashion - on The Art Of Noise now is the second 5x5, a feature we curated whereby five volunteers review five unmarked mp3s of songs by bands high on the next big thing radar. When we/TAoN last did this in May we predicted the subsequent rises of the Ting Tings, Laura Marling, Joe Lean And That and Does It Offend You, Yeah?, so there's a lot, or perhaps very little, to live up to.

    Saturday, November 22, 2008

    The Weekly Sweep

  • Alessi's Ark - The Horse [YouTube]
  • Clinic - Tomorrow [YouTube]
  • Dinosaur Pile-Up - My Rock'n'Roll [Myspace]
  • Everything Everything - Suffragette Suffragette [Myspace]
  • Final Fantasy - Blue Imelda [YouTube]
  • Findo Gask - One Eight Zero [Myspace]
  • Florence And The Machine - Dog Days Are Over [YouTube]
  • Franz Ferdinand - Ulysses [Myspace]
  • Grammatics - The Vague Archive [YouTube]
  • Johnny Foreigner - Lea Room [Myspace] (And we're off again! This is going to be a double A-side with, slightly oddly, DJ's Get Doubts. We were working on a Leicester City rewrite of that the other day. Didn't get past the first line, obviously.)
  • The Leisure Society - The Last Of The Melting Snow [Myspace]
  • Minnaars - Busy Hands [Myspace video]
  • Picture Books In Winter - Open Heart Surgery [Myspace]
  • Rose Elinor Dougall - Another Version Of Pop Song [Myspace]
  • Run Toto Run - Your Face [Myspace] (Came out in September, we got round to listening to the promo on Wednesday. That's how we roll.)
  • Seeland - Library [Myspace] (Ex-members of Plone and Broadcast - the latter of whom are still going, although it feels like a long time since they were last around, apparently they did some live stuff with Atlas Sound earlier in the year - do Eno things)
  • Stars And Sons - In The Ocean [Myspace]
  • Televised Crimewave - Listen And Repeat [Myspace] (Featuring a couple of what used to be Black Wire. Better than Black Wire ever were)
  • Three Trapped Tigers - 1 [Myspace]
  • TV On The Radio - Dancing Choose [YouTube]
  • Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    An Illustrated Guide To... Belle And Sebastian

    Truth be told, we were initially going to do an Illustrated Guide on the Smiths, given this new compilation is out, but... well, it's a well worn path, isn't it? So many books, papers, articles, thinkpieces, conference minutes and scrawled notes have been penned on the whole story from New York Dolls letters to Severed Alliance and beyond that by now you can probably come up with a decent explanation yourselves that references working class mores, prosthlytising, English poetry, gender roles, kitchen sink dramas and the significance of daffodils.

    Belle & Sebastian, though... well, they're another matter. Their initial cross-sectioned core audience, the sort of people who'll snap up the newly issued The BBC Sessions compilation covering 1996 to 2001, are much the same people Steven and Johnny spoke to ten, fifteen years earlier, but they went about it in a markedly different way. Theirs is a land bred, like the Smiths, on paperbacks and filmic realism but also a certain other sub-coolness, one very much Scottish in its musical appropriation of Postcard and the first six years of Creation, of adolescent confusion and emotions often rather than sexual awakening. That, of course, it what makes manly male men hate their guts and write long thinkpieces about infantilisation, just before saying yes to carrying out a seperate piece that would embarrass Smash Hits' editorial staff, but at the same time enfranchises large groups of people searching for lyrical identification. In many ways, they were - maybe are, but definitely were - a knowing throwback to an earlier, less column inch grasping age. It's not as straightforward as all that, but that's how it often appears.

    Stuart Murdoch was born in 1968 in Ayrshire, second son of a merchant navy officer and a nurse. A bookish sort from a young age, his first musical loves were, unrepossessingly, AC/DC and Thin Lizzy before a detour into Yes. A college amateur boxer and athlete, he fitfully studied physics at Glasgow University, where he discovered the local music scene of years earlier as well as the Smiths and Felt, before falling victim in his third year to an extended bout of M.E. and being forced to drop out. While housebound he started tinkering with the piano his parents had earlier pushed him into learning, and shorn of outside communication in his own words "I started writing songs because I had to".

    Even those early songs rang like poems for the lonely, we suppose understandably, Murdoch's aim being to write intimate songs that touched people in the way those of Morrissey and Lawrence Hayward had touched him. When in recovery Murdoch formed a duo called Lisa Helps The Blind for open mike spots and in 1994 enrolled on a Training For Work unemployment course called Beatbox, designed to help budding musicians become familiar with the business, with the carrot of studio time at the end. It was here that he met Stuart David Black, a Tom Waits, Bowie and Japan fan who dropped his surname for pop nominature glamour reasons, and the pair bonded over music and Catcher In The Rye. The pair formed another band, Rhode Island, with David's flatmate Richard Colburn, a drummer and failed snooker semi-pro, and another member of Beatbox, trumpeter Mick Cooke. Colburn was enrolled on a seperate course that would change everything.

    Stow College, Glasgow is traditionally an engineering seat of learning, but also runs a HNC (the Scottish equivalent of a university HND) in Music Industry Management. The central task sees the students run every aspect of the Electric Honey label, leading up to a single or EP, under the tutelage of the Associates' Alan Rankine. The label has a more than decent hit rate - the year after the album we're coming to the triumphant release was Starfighter Pilot by Polarbear, who after legal advice on signing a proper deal changed their name to Snow Patrol, while in 2000 the label put out the thekidswhopoptodaywillrocktomorrow EP by students students Ben and James Johnston's band Biffy Clyro. (Wake The President, who we've featured on STN in the past, have put out two 7"s through the label, the first band to be invited back for more) Colburn took in a Rhode Island demo, although Rankine had already come across Murdoch and David through Beatbox, and everyone was smitten with the results. The trio were summarily invited to a full recording session in 1996, although Murdoch decided they needed a proper name and chose Belle & Sebastian, a name he'd been toying with for a while and had had demos played on BBC Radio Scotland's alternative show under (Cecile Aubrey, who wrote the books the cartoon series was named after, only found out circa The Boy With The Arab Strap and according to Murdoch took some convincing to let them carry on with the name)

    As 1995 drew towards its close devout Christian and former choir singer Murdoch took a flat above a church hall on condition that he also become church officer, cleaning, gardening and doing odd jobs, a position he held until able to become a full time musician in 2001. He also went about getting a full band together, the first person asked being guitarist Stevie Jackson, previously of the Moondials, a country outfit who had been earlier Electric Honey beneficiaries, and MC at open mic nights Rhode Island/Lisa Helps The Blind had played. Keyboard player Chris Geddes came on loan from local legends and briefly nationally lauded V-Twin, trumpeter Mick Cooke was hired (although he couldn't be named as an official member until The Boy With The Arab Strap as his other band Hardbody were signed to Epic) and on New Year's Day 1996 Murdoch was introduced by another V-Twin member to cellist Isobel Campbell, known as Bel to everyone. As he'd just written a story called Belle & Sebastian, with the Sebastian character loosely based on himself, and was toying with renaming his band after it you can't help feeling planets were suddenly aligning in strange ways.

    Electric Honey was only set up to release EPs at most, but Rankine was so impressed by Murdoch's songs that he suggested a full album if they could record it in five days. Belle & Sebastian, as in a Murdoch/Jackson/David/Campbell/Colburn formation, played their first show at a house party in January, witnessed by Mark Jones of Jeepster Records, a young indie label whose A&R man was a Stow enrollee. What became Tigermilk, named after its cover photo starring an ex-flatmate of Murdoch's and a toy tiger, was recorded in March almost entirely as live and completed inside three days. A thousand vinyl copies were printed up - the most expensive eBay sale years later would clock in at £810 - as well as a good number of promotional issues, which attracted interest from a horde of labels as well as, at Murdoch's careful insistence, Morrissey and Lawrence, the latter replying and turning up to their first London gig. John Peel and Mark Radcliffe also received promos and were instantly smitten, Radcliffe inviting them down to Manchester for two sessions that year. Especially for the time, it reopened ideas and ideals nobody else seemed to be foraging at the time - Nick Drake arrangements on a budget, character studies more nuanced than Albarn's, dark humour, a delicately imaginative world arriving fully formed. From this blogged and torrented distance, it's hard to imagine an album, no matter how small its release, gaining such a fervour around what it might sound like.

    The State I Am In (BBC session version)

    Sarah Martin arrived along the way on violin through mutual friends in - a-ha! - V-Twin. Second being nowhere, Murdoch opened negotiations with Jeepster ahead of many a more revered and powerful label and by the summer of that year had a new set of songs ready. In August everyone reconvened at Ca Va Studios in Glasgow under the producer/engineer eye of Tony Doogan (also Mogwai, Delgados, Malcolm Middleton, Young Knives, Dirty Pretty Things) for If You're Feeling Sinister, nearly titled Falling Sentry Blades or, erm, Cock Fun (a title he reported to both Jeepster and Peel in correspondence). Treading much the same stylistic ground as Tigermilk, it feels more at home and of a piece, lyrically suggesting courtship confusion, religious anxieties and a general ambience again out of specific time and place. Although an audience favourite, it's never been popular with the band, most of whom consider it musically underdeveloped in relation to the quality of the songs (a 2005 iTunes only release, If You're Feeling Sinister: Live At The Barbican, went some way towards rectification) Q, who put it in their 50 greatest albums of the year, and Rolling Stone, who found room in their half-century of the decade list, felt otherwise. American college radio also slowly but surely picked up on it, necessitating a band trip to New York to sort out international distribution.

    Like Dylan In The Movies (live at the Barbican)

    At this time the band were famously operating a closed door policy to all press, Murdoch having felt he'd been misquoted early on and shutting off interview requests, deciding simultaneously to have fun with their publicity shots, never incorporating every member of the band. Or, on occasion, any. (Alex Kapranos, then of The Karelia, stars in one.) As they'd dragged themselves into this position without the weekly inklies' help, they reasoned, they didn't need them to come knocking now. The myth of the band, of course, only grew, aided by the rarity of gigs at this point - twenty in total by the end of 1997, and those were long put down as patience testing semi-shambles, although the band now claim this was more to do with the lack of rehearsal opportunities.

    There was no album in 1997 but instead a series of EPs. The first was a red herring, the Dog On Wheels EP a Rhode Island semi-demo, featuring The State I Am In, recorded at Beatbox including only Murdoch, David and Cooke of the band. The second, which stalled at number 41, was led by Lazy Line Painter Jane, one of Murdoch's oldest songs given a Spectorish soulful power and a guest vocal by country-soul locals Thrum's Monica Queen, and included Stuart David's spoken word A Century Of Elvis. The backing for that was reused on A Century Of Fakers, lead track from the 3...6...9 Seconds Of Light EP and the one that finally cracked the singles top 40. All came with fine backup songs.

    The Boy With The Arab Strap (live at Bowlie Weekender)

    By the time the band convened for album three, Murdoch had seen a creative rut approaching and decided that as this was now a proper group rather than his songs and his musician friends he should encourage the others to get involved more. It was fraught getting there, nearly a year from beginning to end (unlike now Murdoch had entered the previous sessions with a tracklisting in mind, never mind a set of songs) and dividing band members. The Boy With The Arab Strap remains their biggest selling album; Pitchfork famously gave it 0.8 but clearly it's not a writeoff as that would suggest, more songs about love, celebration, anxieties and growing pains given a wider load berth. No, it doesn't all work - Jackson, its writer, now calls Chickfactor "atrocious" - and it's less cohesive and successful, but it's by no means ignorable.

    Slow Graffiti

    An EP headed by the seven minute partly self-referential This Is Just A Modern Rock Song EP came out in December 1998, arguably the last time they sounded so brittle on record. Afterwards came the side projects - Stuart David and his wife Karn's lo-fi loops and samples project Looper's debut album Up A Tree (on Sub Pop in the US) in March 1999, followed a month later by The Green Fields Of Foreverland by The Gentle Waves, Isobel's own dark, icy folk-pop songs with her bandmates on uncredited backing.

    In early 1999 the band were nominated for the Best British Newcomer Brit Award (for their third album, yes), facing up against Five, Another Level, Billie, Cleopatra, Hinda Hicks and Steps, not to mention Gomez, the Propellerheads and Cornershop, the latter also on their third album. The vote was carried out through Radio 1's website, to which end Jeepster and the celebrated Sinister mailing list mobilised troops towards block voting which led to a surprise victory on the night, Richard and Mick the only band representatives picking the statuette up as two members was all Jeepster could afford to send. Sidelined in most of the reports by Robbie Williams and the Manics' multiple trophies, Kate Thornton on the following morning's This Morning surely unwittingly voiced the main set of the industry's feelings when asked for her view of events: "Belle and Sebastian won Best Newcomer, but other than that it was a good night." A day later the Sun realised what had happened and got quotes from Pete Waterman alleging the vote on the mainstream industry's big night had been fixed against Steps. It was borderline ludicrous. Even the band will admit so, although their idea of throwing the award back through a window of the BPI head office never came to pass.

    But they had to follow it up somehow. Along with promoter friend Barry Hogan the band cooked up The Bowlie Weekender, at Pontin's holiday camp in Camber Sands in April ('bowlie' being a approving term invented by a friend of Murdoch's), which the band headlined along with a handpicked bill of available and affordable favourites - The Flaming Lips (the first show of their Soft Bulletin spectaculars, about which Stuart David was moved to ask on stage "did anybody have their lives changed by the Flaming Lips last night?"), Sleater-Kinney, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Teenage Fanclub, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mercury Rev, Mogwai, Cornelius, the Divine Comedy, the Delgados, Broadcast and so forth. The sold out weekender was a massive success, so much so that Hogan took the idea for both bill, curation and staging on and patented All Tomorrow's Parties.

    Stuart Murdoch now admits there are "two periods of this band: everything up to Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant and everything after that." Murdoch's intention had been to record that album within two weeks; when that failed everything was scrapped, the spark and inter-band communication comprehensively dulled, culminating when Stuart David walked out, his own Looper taking off (they were about to embark on a two month US tour, and released The Geometrid in 2000) Murdoch admits to coming close to a nervous breakdown over the finished product and has called the album, again named after some graffiti, "a salvage job", band members admitting that they like the songs but not recorded and arranged like that as an album; Stevie Jackson reckons he thought the band was ending. And yes, it doesn't work as well as even The Boy With The Arab Strap, but it's still identifiably Belle & Sebastian for all the good or ill that brings.

    Don't Leave The Light On, Baby

    In its wake, the band decided they might as well record a hit single. May saw Legal Man, inspired by Al Green and Jeepster's lawyer (and officially credited to Belle And Sebastian Featuring The Maisonettes, not the Heartache Avenue one hit wonders but a scratch vocal chorus of Isobel, Sarah and a friend), couches love in legalese and reached number 15, earning them a much desired Top Of The Pops slot, during which Murdoch was surprised to be attacked by Tony Doogan in a gorilla suit. Plans were made to capitalise, but Murdoch fell ill again and had to take time off, during which Richard and Mick joined Gary Lightbody's The Reindeer Section.

    Stuart David was replaced by another Sectioneer, Bobby Kildea of - yay! - V-Twin, and the band did the previously unthinkable by committing to periods of touring, the first coinciding with June 2001 single Jonathan David, which Murdoch once claimed was the closest the band had come to their ideal sound since Tigermilk. The second single of the year was potentially more interesting. I'm Waking Up To Us, partly recorded by Mike Hurst, the producer and songwriter who discovered Cat Stevens, was a kissoff to an ex which arrived, although nobody knew at the time, just as Murdoch and Campbell's relationship was breaking up. Murdoch denies that it's flat out about Campbell - there is a version in which Campbell gets a spoken word right to reply - but that's not stopped most people. As for the tour, many noted a far tighter performance and a far more outgoing Murdoch, elements of fun injected by either pulling fans up on stage, unleashing unlikely covers or just in Murdoch's 'dancing'.

    The next Belle And Sebastian full-length was a special commission. Todd Solondz, best known for the black comedy Happiness, asked the group to record the soundtrack to part of his next film Storytelling. When they got to New York for recording in early 2002, however, they learnt that the film had been severely cut and Solondz didn't have the same vision as the band did for what was required. Only about six minutes ended up being used in the film, apparently also to the horror of the film's distributor, but on getting back to Glasgow, Ca Va and Doogan they decided to re-record what they'd come up with in NY as a seperate entity with vague filmic connections, a mostly instrumental record featuring clips of dialogue and only six vocal tracks, two less than ninety seconds long. The band promoted it with a Royal Albert Hall gig, hiring two friends to dress as Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets and locate themselves in the royal box to insult the band between songs. A North American tour followed with Jonathan Richman in support. After two years or so of being uncomfortable with band business, wanting to continue with her solo projects and of course after the love split, Campbell finally threw in her chips in May 2002, departing during a North American tour. She'd released an even lower-key second Gentle Waves album, Swansong For You in 2000, and followed it with Amorino in 2003, before teaming up with Mark Lanegan for the Mercury nominated Ballad of the Broken Seas in 2006, followed the same year by her own gossamer folky Milkwhite Sheets and this year's Lanegan redux Sunday At Devil Dirt.

    At 2002's Coachella, the group met the housekeeper of Trevor Horn, apparently a fan, who later got in touch himself to offer them studio time. Having been dropped by Jeepster, reputedly over a lack of co-operation, Rough Trade were now behind them and could afford to pack them off for a proper pop album on their own terms. Breaking only for a celebrated extended Christmas Peel Acres session and for the videos and odds'n'sods DVD Fans Only, they spent quite some time working on Dear Catastrophe Waitress. A Technicolour pop journey, it's far more eclectic than before (not a Pyrrhic statement - think of Electronic Renaissance or A Space Boy Dream, even though nothing here would be that outre) touching on everything from ELO and 70s radio rock to SMiLE to The Left Banke to soul to Dylan. Nominated for both the Mercury Music Prize and an Ivor Novello, it might well under the circumstances of birth be the most surprising success of their career.

    If You Find Yourself Caught In Love (John Peel Christmas session 2002)

    In January 2005 Belle and Sebastian were voted Scotland's greatest band in a poll by The List magazine. Murdoch, you imagine, can't have been overwhelmingly joyous at the accolade. A little later Jeepster put together the singles and EPs released on the label on Push Barman To Open Old Wounds. As for forward motion the band shrugged off the adventures of the last time they went to America to record and this time headed off to California to work with Tony Hoffer (Beck, Air, Supergrass, Turin Brakes, Idlewild, Fratellis, Kooks) on what was nearly a double album and was clearly something that they felt needed a radio sheen. Released in February 2006 (oddly only three weeks before the band's Late Night Tales DJ mix album), The Life Pursuit indeed turned out to be a more AM radio friendly collection that took inspiration from all over pop and rock's past, chiefly fascinations with soul, glam and rhythm'n'blues. Reactions were either ecstatic or... shall we settle on 'mixed'?, but it ecaume their highest charting album on both sides of the Atlantic, single Funny Little Frog also the highest charting single, at 13. The tour to support it led them to the Hollywood Bowl, where they played with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, leading to a sound close to common touchstones Love and Bacharach.

    Discounting Electric Picnic festival, a T On The Fringe gig at Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh on 26th August 2006 is the band's last gig to date. In October members put together a various artists CD of new songs for children, Colours Are Brighter, while over the last two years Murdoch, who this year got married and turned 40 (he looks good on it), has been working on God Help The Girl, the soundtrack to a mooted musical film of the same name which also involves members of other bands, including the Divine Comedy and Smoosh, as well as female singers auditioned over the last year. Whatever that turns out like, it'll doubtless prove fascinating.

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Defeat Rose

    From the press release for ex G4 member and pop-opera type Jonathan Ansell's new album:

    "Jonathan shows he can sing operatic repertoire with precision, emotion and power in numbers such as Canto Della Terra and Nessun Dorma; but he also proves that his grasp of popular songs is as strong as ever, laying down extraordinary renditions of Who Wants to Live Forever, and If You’re Not the One.

    Other highlights are a haunting version of Sigur Ros’ Hoppipolla, and a beautiful Panis Angelicus, in which Jonathan is backed by the Crouch End Festival Choir. This second album proves that Jonathan Ansell is not only a top flight singer of classical and popular songs, but a fully fledged star in his own right, who has a glittering career ahead of him."


    And does it?

    Well, did you think it would? Emote that Hopelandic, sir!

    In other news about the world moving on and leaving us behind, it is of course fantastic to see Edwyn Collins back singing on live television. The circumstances, however, leave a little to be desired.

    Sunday, November 16, 2008

    Weekender : sounding like Leadbelly at the depot

    WHAT CD?
    - This may be the season for repackaging old stuff and racing out the Christmas hits but there's still a couple of albums of our speciality interest to come. The first is the eleventh album, two of those being odds and sods collections, from Melbourne's jangly storytellers the Lucksmiths, now up to a quartet and expanded songwriting duties for all four. First Frost, again picked up by Fortuna Pop! for the UK, works a lot better in that regard than, say, Weezer ever have, largely because Marty Donald still gets to submit the best songs. It's still one for the the Smiths, Belle & Sebastian and the Go-Betweens fans, and the summery heartbreak overview hasn't been that affected by it being recorded in a cabin in Tasmania in the depths of winter (July, obviously) It's doesn't scale the stylistic heights of previous studio album Warmer Corners but not much does, and at least they're trying subtle new things with choirs, strings and fuzzboxes alongside the jangly electrics and wistful acoustics. More bundles of joy from the lively Antipodean indie quarter.

    - Speaking of one of those named influences, while Stuart Murdoch continues work on his God Help The Girl musical, Belle & Sebastian are officially on temporary hiatus. They're not going to be the sort of band to put out a stopgap best of, although apparently Jeepster did sneak out an EP of older songs to complete indifference earlier in the year, but The BBC Sessions is a more rewarding way of looking back all told. Only pickings from Radcliffe, Evening Session and Peel rather than a complete overview - the vocal tradeoff version of Seeing Other People is absent, for instance, as is anything from the celebrated sprawling Peel Christmas session - but there's pre-redevelopment versions of Lazy Line Painter Jane and The Wrong Girl and the long bootlegged 2001 Peel set of otherwise unreleased songs, the final recordings with Isobel Campbell and all the equal at least of what ended up on Dear Catastrophe Waitress. Initial copies come with a second CD recorded in Belfast in December 2001, featuring guest vocalists from the audience and covers of Here Comes The Sun, The Boys Are Back In Town and I'm Waiting For The Man. More Ink Polaroids than Hollywood Bowl, and all the better for it.

    - The Robert Wyatt reissue campaign continues, as much as the second of two parts constitutes a continuation. Last time we left him coagulating in 1981; four years later, the other side of Shipbuilding, Old Rottenhat, an album of songs Wyatt claimed were specifically written so the American right couldn't appropriate them. Whether he'd had problems with this in the past is not stated. 1991's jazzily minimalist Dondestan is the album most commonly associated with the practice that has come to be known as Wyatting, where patrons of pub jukeboxes connected to a massive online mainframe put on the weirdest, most punter-repelling tracks possible. 1997's Shleep is on firmer territory, Brian Eno, Paul Weller and Phil Manzanera all brought in, and 2003's further forays into world music Cuckooland got him a Mercury nomination and with it the further honour of having the piss taken out of him all night on Radio 1 by Colin Murray. We haven't forgotten, Murray. EPs is a combination of assorted, well, EPs released during the entire span of these reissues, including Shipbuilding and his celebrated, TOTP invite garnering cover of I'm A Believer.

    - Stand back, it's a week for fiercely independently minded singles. After pleasing the denizens of Derby and environs with their multi-handed, everything that comes to hand, scrappy but ultimately likeable live shows, as if (and we're semi-quoting a friend here) those bands bedecked in glitter and lumious feather boas who made upstairs at The Garage their personal fiefdoms in 1998-99 had been transplanted to a post-Bearsuit age, The Deirdres get someone else to release one of their songs, Cherryade Records (Bobby McGees, Kabeedies, Lovely Eggs) putting out a 7" that teams the mighty, You! Me! Dancing! led down a dark alleyway Milk Is Politics with the indescribable Sir Michael Of Aspel, which is about what it says it's about. How are the Deirdres commemorating? By going on hiatus until a point somewhere between next spring and eternity while three members go off on world travels. Typical tweepop students. Meanwhile, lovely lovely Alcopop Records, previously responsible for singles we've openly admired by 4 Or 5 Magicians and This City, are putting out a limited edition 7" from an outfit that we had a homemade EP from ages ago and have since had quite a bit of specialist radio play and even praise off evil Jonathan Ross. We talk up so many new bands that by the law of averages eventually one of them had to take off. Stars And Sons are Mike Lord, once of the aforementioned 4 Or 5 Magicians (although at current rates half of Brighton will be able to describe themselves as such by the end of 2009) and now making delicious hand-crafted optimistic indiepop nuggets. In The Ocean is one of those songs that's at once naggingly familiar and freshly minted, and Alcopop have also sent us a piano version of the song which we've summarily stuck on YouSendIt for those of you who do actually take in every word of Weekender every week. Good work all round. Going one up the indie label evolutionary scale, Dance To The Radio are cursed with having a truckload of fine but uncommercial bands and the Pigeon Detectives to offset the lot. One such of the former are the epically swooping melodramas of Grammatics, who ahead of next spring's debut album issue The Vague Archive.

    - The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash seems to be reissued on a regular basis, but this is the thirtieth anniversary box with a making of documentary for both film and music and Eric Idle on commentary trying to disguise how he and Neil Innes fell out conclusively a few years ago. Spinal Tap may have superceded it as the go-to musical spoof film, but for affectionate and otherwise pisstakery it still can't be beaten.

    MYSPACE INVADERS: Proper melodic modern indie-pop (as opposed to indiepop) is a tricky thing to pull off - you can have all the chops you want but you need to get your character over in the song or else you're just another Pete & The Pirates. The Late Greats are a band that pull this equation off with plenty to spare; hailing from Eastbourne, they've found a middle ground between Lamacq-attracting hooks and awkward angularities, having quoted Neutral Milk Hotel and Pavement as influences. They've been around for a few years but still sound like they have room to grow into themselves, and when that happens they'll be unstoppable. (On this evidence they've also got an overeager street team. We're watching you.)

    VISUAL AID: There's a charity record currently at number one, but given it's some kids playing karaoke with a song of their collective vocal role model Mariah Carey's you can't even say that musically it's as well meaning as the golden age of the charity record, the late 80s, when artists would at least pay lip service to the Mammon of creativity by changing one word in their song title to produce, say, Everybody Wants To Run The World or Running All Over The World. The rule was, if you're going to cover something, don't go all Ferry Aid, get someone unusual to do it - Billy Bragg's Childline Wet Wet Wet reversing She's Leaving Home, for instance, here presented in its celebrated Top Of The Pops incarnation where he had the words taped to the floor only to see them obscured by dry ice. Or (I Want To Be) Elected by Bruce Dickinson one-off Smear Campaign plus Mr Bean, released for Comic Relief to coincide with the 1992 general election. Or, god help us, Smoke On The Water by Rock Aid Armenia, a 1989 hard rock coming together to raise funds for the area hit by a massive earthquake killing upwards of 25,000 the previous December featuring Bryan Adams, Ritchie Blackmore, Bruce Dickinson, Keith Emerson, Ian Gillan, David Gilmour, Tony Iommi, Brian May, Paul Rodgers, Roger Taylor and John Paul Jones among others. And if all else fails there's always Hale & Pace's The Stonk, evidently uploaded by someone who'd left it on a radiator too long. For the most interesting of all, though, we thank TJ for finding 1987 Great Ormond Street benefit The Wishing Well, written by Boy George and featuring tradeoff vocals also by Go West's Peter Cox, Hazel O'Connor, Grace Kennedy (remind us, someone), Dollar and Noddy Holder, plus a Band Aid-styled chorus including Sylvester McCoy, Bonnie Langford, Jimmy Nail, Showaddywaddy, The Sweet, Hot Chocolate, assorted EastEnders stars and Spitting Image puppets, Grange Hill's cast, Caron Keating, Andy Crane, Mickey Mouse, a monumental Roland Rat and Shriekback. Shriekback?!

    * Jeremy Warmsley has a new thing. It's called Jeremy Warmsley's New Thing. What he's gone and done is filmed three favourite artists - Mechanical Bride, Jay Jay Pistolet and Peggy Sue - plus himself on the light up dancefloor at a club in Hoxton and presented it as a companion piece to the currently resting TV Show. mp3s of the performances are on Warmsley's Myspace.

    * The Daytrotter sessions are more often than not worthwhile, especially so this week with Wire dropping by. Being Wire there's no concessions to family favourites here, with two tracks from A Bell Is A Cup Until It Is Struck, one from Send and one from Object 47.

    * See, here's what we meant when we said everyone else has their own spin on the artist's own playlist idea - My Secret Playlist. Exhibiting among many others are Les Savy Fav, Death Cab For Cutie, the B52s, Fujiya & Miyagi, Midlake, Smash Mouth (!), Supergrass, Calexico, Tilly and the Wall (as also seen on Sesame Street, Cold War Kids, Donna Summer (!!), Moby, Katy Perry (!!!), The Dandy Warhols and Ed Harcourt. Elsewhere, on their own blogging agenda are Post War Years.

    * Right, what's the one factual link we can end this week with that will get the most Google hits from curious/desperate indie kids? Ah, here it is - Emmy The Great "used to get naked for nine year old boys". (It was found in all good faith, we assure you - it's in the 'Indie Is Having A Crappy Job' entry)

    Saturday, November 15, 2008

    The Weekly Sweep

  • The BPA feat. Emmy The Great - Seattle [YouTube]
  • Clinic - Tomorrow [YouTube]
  • The Deirdres - Milk Is Politics [YouTube]
  • Die! Die! Die! - Sideways Here We Come [Myspace]
  • Dinosaur Pile-Up - My Rock'n'Roll [Myspace]
  • Eagle And Talon - Hot Caught [Myspace] (It's Sleater-Kinney! Alright, maybe not exactly, but there's something very Portland post-Riot Grrrl going on with this duo)
  • Florence And The Machine - Dog Days Are Over [YouTube]
  • Into Cinders - Have You Ever [Myspace] (In the week *another* Pipette fucks off, another ex-Pipette fucks back on - Rebecca Stephens, once RiotBecki and also for the record now of the Raspberriesalike Electric Blue)
  • The Lucksmiths - Up With The Sun [free mp3]
  • Minnaars - Essay Essay Essay [Myspace] (So, y'know, you can find out what the song we posted the remix of on Monday is supposed to sound like)
  • The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Everything With You [Myspace]
  • Rolo Tomassi - I Love Turbulence [YouTube] (Yes, we're a UK hipster blog alright!)
  • Rose Elinor Dougall - Another Version Of Pop Song [Myspace]
  • The Sexual Objects - Here Come The Rubber Cops [label Myspace]
  • Stars And Sons - In The Ocean [Myspace]
  • Silvery - You Give A Little Love [Myspace] (Yes. Yes. The inscrutable Sparks/XTC/Syd Barrettesque Lamacq favourites have for a Christmas single covered the closing song from Bugsy Malone. We already know it's better than whatever the Wombats have come up with)
  • Still Flyin' - Good Thing It's A Ghost Town Round Here [Myspace]
  • Thomas Tantrum - Rage Against The Tantrum [Myspace]
  • TV On The Radio - Dancing Choose [YouTube]
  • The Walkmen - The Blue Route [live YouTube]
  • Friday, November 14, 2008

    Getting involved

    Not that this sudden PR attempt to adjudge how much of our audience actually cares is in any way connected to our missing out on a nomination in Record Of The Day's industry awards' Best Blog category - three of the nominees don't exist any more! - but...

    A little while ago we came up with the idea of Celebrity Muxtape, basically a bog standard 'compile us a mixtape, oh really good musician type' feature but with the additional extra that we'd then slave away and compile a proper streaming Muxtape with their suggestions on. Then after we'd published four the RIAA shut Muxtape down, and while we attempted to continue with Celebrity Playlist the truth finally caught up with us. We've kept a log of everyone we've kindly asked via email or Myspace message to compile us a playlist/Muxtape - and not huge names by any means - and the number we've had no response to is now exactly treble the number that we've actually managed to publish. One band leader promised us a list imminently and then presumably got overtaken by other things, having been constantly on tour since. One manager told us his client would jump at the chance and would pass on our request when they were back from holiday, and we never heard from either again. One really exciting possibility we still have fingers crossed for having recently been back in touch with their label (hi, Annette). The rest just never responded.

    Bar the pending nature of this latter case, Celebrity Playlist is therefore dead.

    But what musical guest feature to replace it with? Interviews... well, you've seen what we're like at them, and besides there's a thousand and one competing publications on that score. Our initial thought was one of those musical upbringing questionnaires (first single bought, song for a rainy day, that sort of thing), but the other site we write for is also planning a regular feature along those lines and they have better contacts and far, far more readers, so we're helping out on that instead. Attempts to resurrect Songs To Learn And Sing have all failed, as tempting as it is just to go back to that - after all, writing about one song is easier than writing about twelve. So we're throwing the floor open - any suggestions for something to pitch to artists we like from the new year onwards?

    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Funny the things you remember

    And how fantastic a resource YouTube really is. We had this BBC 1990 Formula One season review on a VHS and spent years, in that pre-Internet, pre-back catalogue revisioning, pre-heritage media period, trying to figure out what the song was.

    And for god knows what reason we've had this somewhat less accomplished and celebrated song in our head ever since the self same Corporation gave it heavy rotation for a couple of years in the mid to late 80s:

    Tom Verlaine has done and seen a lot of things in his life, but even he would have to admit that judged against everything else TV snooker is, indeed, a hell of a game.

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    Music for nations

    Somehow, we've been added to the Hype Machine. Everybody get well.

    Let's start what we think might be our last roundup of mp3s passed on to us in good faith of 2008 with what we think may be an exclusive, in that it's not due to go online officially until this weekend but the band's management have said they don't mind us blogging it. Said band are SixNationState, a favourite of ours for a couple of years now on the back of their full throttle exuberant live show and their infectiously ragged indie-punk/ska/dub/transplanted Merseybeat carnival records. This summer they've done the festival circuit, headlined a touring show based on a barge up the Thames and supported the Maccabees, The Wombats, Pete & The Pirates, Laura Marling and Mumford & Sons. Can't help wondering how they came across to a Marling/Mumford audience, but we must press on. Having cleared 500 shows in two years, they've been writing their second album for spring release and ahead of White Denim support dates starting on Sunday are releasing a twangy demo apparently inspired by that whole McCartney/Mills business.

    SixNationState - Your Money Or Your Life

    Another band we've consistently supported (and another band whose frontman has told us they're a reader - see, well known record label intern who mailed us last week asking about our rate card, some things are more prestigious to us than sidebar adverts) are the grandiose Bologna collective A Classic Education. We're still waiting on the fruits of their Jeremy Warmsley production sessions, and indeed anything else to come out when someone sees sense and gives them a label deal, but in the meantime they've issued a new song about, it says here, "the banal misunderstandings that come between two lovers and the usual notion that escapism can be a solution".

    A Classic Education - We Can Always Run To Hawaii

    What news from the shires? Leicestershire, to be exact, where paupers feel like princes, the streets are lined with rosy cheeked youngsters proffering gifts and this blog calls home. What that means is we know all about both Minnaars, electronically charged post-dance-punks taking Q And Not U and Minus The Bear as starting points (oh alright, and Foals) and Love Ends Disaster!, wiry post-post-punk Nottingham emigres. One has now remixed the other ahead of the former's November 24th debut EP.

    Minnaars - Essay Essay Essay (Love Ends Disaster! remix)

    And a band completely new to STN! Ace Bushy Striptease (they have a proper site too, with more free mp3s) are a slippery, slithery female fronted Birmingham unit who specialise in rusty, ramshackle indie-pop songs, diverting from glorious pop melodies to complete splashdown at the drop of a hat. The recently shuttered - lightweight - Death To Music put us onto them, as did a showing on Brainlove's Two Thousand And Ace compilation. A year and fourteen gigs old at time of writing they've already gone through three permanent singers and six guests. This, one of the few current songs they have of an appreciable length, have a song named after Alexei JoFo's previous band. Result.

    Ace Bushy Striptease - Panda Love Unit

    Sunday, November 09, 2008

    Weekender : a media company think we're an American called Steve

    WHAT CD?
    - So now Chinese Democracy is ready for release we must realign which bands are taking longer than average to get new songs out. MBV, obviously, and the Avalanches... but not the Flaming Lips, who first talked about Christmas On Mars in 2001 and finally have it ready for deluxe DVD issue, as well as a series of "unconventional" cinema screenings including three nights at the Barbican with Wayne Coyne giving talks around each, December 12th-14th. Coyne describes it as "maybe Eraserhead or Dead Man crossed with some kind of fantasy and space aspects, like The Wizard of Oz and maybe A Space Odyssey, except done without real actors or money, and set at Christmas-time". We've read Coyne's various precises (precii?) several times and still can't begin to condense the plot into shorter form so it might make sense, and bear in mind here that while we are sober, seperated onlookers, Steven Drozd takes the lead role, filming a lot of scenes while either on or in withdrawl from heroin addiction. You have to take your hat off to Warner Bros for financing this sort of thing in the current industry climate if nothing else.

    - "Reissue, repackage, repackage/Re-evaluate the songs/Double-pack with a photograph/Extra track and a tacky badge". No, Paint A Vulgar Picture isn't on The Sound Of The Smiths, unsurprisingly. There seems to be a new Smiths compilation every year, and indeed there may well be, but the hook for this 2CD set is a CD of straight up singles and classics and one of a seemingly random assortment of album tracks, some presented in live or alternate version formats. It also claims Morrissey and Johnny Marr oversaw its development, although on further investigation this turns out to mean Morrissey chose the title and Marr ("it wasn’t going to be done right unless I got involved") supervised the remastering. Well, it gets the marketing department off their backs. The music? Well, it's the Smiths. There's some sort of limited edition 7" promotion happening too, but we'll get back to that when they're all presented in a nice box in a month's time.

    - The singles are still holding up - Gossamer Albatross' glorious The Ground Will Take Us Down/Elizabeth Queen Of The Sea 7" is out after a delay. Here's what we put a line through for no apparent reason two Weekenders ago: "About a month ago we confidently stated to a friend that if Hereford's teenage chamber English folkists Gossamer Albatross's debut 7" The Ground Will Take Us Down, produced by Jonquil's Hugo Manuel, got airplay and attention from the right people the classical ambition on show could properly help them take off, such is the evident ambition and ability in these days when much lighter folk is given a far easier ride. We sit here on the eve of said 7"'s release with it being given bugger all coverage. It's us, isn't it? It's always us. Anyway, it's wonderful, and so are they." And so is Emmy The Great, who like the above has worked with Jeremy Warmsley and like the above has been supported by STN since long before signing. Except that she co-owns her label, but you know what we mean. We Almost Had A Baby is the first single from the album now expected in February. Thomas Tantrum also run their own affairs release wise, and they've probably heard of Warmsley. Rage Against The Tantrum is the tremendous 7" from their really worth your while self-titled debut album.

    - The Pitchfork 500: Our Guide to the Greatest Songs From Punk To The Present is the hipster's site of divisive choice's rundown of the five hundred greatest songs in their opinion since the cultural Year Zero. In no way is this to be confused with This Is Uncool by Garry Mulholland, subtitled "The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk and Disco". Just saying. As a preview, someone has diligently typed out the full list (Johnny Boy!) Our copy, curiously, arrived from Amazon on Friday, and even odder, if solving one Christmas present issue in the process, came with a copy of Allan Ahlberg's Burglar Bill inside. Maybe it was satirical comment on the standard of the contents' insight.

    - Talking Heads: Live In Rome is billed as capturing the band "at the height of their creative powers". Which is arguably true, recorded as it is in 1980 after Fear Of Music and Remain In Light. Only thing is, we already have a documentation of the extended band at their live peak, albeit from three years later, and Stop Making Sense is going to be hard for anyone to beat, let alone a rival Talking Heads live video director to Jonathan Demme. Worth a look, anyway.

    COMING SOON: Although they seem to have spent the whole of 2008 either in the studio or playing just one last gig before completing the mix for good, Camera Obscura are finally approaching resolution on album four. News of a release date is expected soon, but videos have emerged from a recent Singapore gig of the two new songs they've been showcasing live this year, French Navy, which sounds like vintage Postcard Records, and Swans, which sounds like classic Camera Obscura.

    MYSPACE INVADERS: Continuing our theme here of clearly uncommercial but clearly exciting bands, Songs From The Shows are one of that select group with more than their fair share of bassists - Tortoise, Billy Mahonie, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Girls Against Boys, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, Showaddywaddy. Like the first four, and sadly retaining no elements of the latter (come on, would a set of brothel creepers and floor-length colour coded drape coats kill you?), they concoct walls of undulating guitar noise, almost entirely wordless backed by shifting rhythms and a whole heap of undertow. Slightly mathy, noisecore without the loudness - this does make sense - and post-rock and current rock simultaneously, they fit not so comfortably between The Rock Of Travolta, if they're still going, and Maybeshewill in the realms of instrumental attack mode.

    VISUAL AID: So looking for an angle relating to this Smiths set we went back through all our old favourite Morrissey and sometimes Marr clips - Charlie's Bus, yes, Datarun, yes, and of course Morrissey looking uncomfortable in the presence of Coia. Pebble Mill, then. It was a magazine of its day, a time that will surely never come again in this heavy major label promotion roundel where nobody would book a band like Aztec Camera, who got to play both Oblivious and Walk Out To Winter to the housewives of the land. Home of Owen Paul's questionable playback, and while there's plenty of family entertainers and variety circuit crooners archived (and Hank Marvin Sings!) there

    was always room for Terry Hall's The Colourfield or Westworld and their shovel shaped guitar, although Sonic Boom Boy fans please note with a heavy heart that this was the slower one off the album. Best of all, though, was last of all, or the last Pebble Mill At One at any rate, which opened (3:14) with Five Star showing us round the building to the tune of Can't Wait Another Minute. And by round the building, we include corridors, offices, canteen, scene dock, switchboard and gallery. The glamour of BBC Birmingham.

    * First up, a good old fashioned indie label compilation full of good old fashioned indie always does the trick, so hello to Be True To Your School, a 25 tracker pulled together by the estimable and comparatively veteran (thirteen years, and all sorted by one man) Fortuna Pop label which has been out for about a month but we've only just found out about it. Stand by for a list: The Lucksmiths, Comet Gain, MJ Hibbett, Fanfarlo, Bearsuit, Sodastream, The Butterflies Of Love, Spraydog, Tender Trap, others.

    * Running a respected indie takes time and patience, so much so that coupled with the day job and bank meetings about credit card abuse that finance the 7" lifestyle you'd think you wouldn't get time for much else. Clearly John Brainlove believes in the Thatcher approach of two hours' sleep a night, as he's opened up Amusia - with a forum! - chiefly as an archive for the stuff he writes for assorted online magazines.

    * Don't think, of course, that just because Lesley Douglas has left that 6 Music will suddenly lose all its recent, depressing incumbents behind the sofa and get some decent people with good taste in. Not with the figures still going up. Yes, including his. Still, we've always got Phill and Phil's Perfect Ten, a half hour weekly podcast in which Jupitus and Wilding extemporise wildly much as they used to do on the breakfast show, only with more swearing and gay sex references.

    Saturday, November 08, 2008

    The Weekly Sweep

  • A Classic Education - We Can Always Run To Hawaii [Myspace]
  • The Bookhouse Boys - I Can't Help Myself [YouTube]
  • The BPA feat. Emmy The Great - Seattle [YouTube]
  • Clinic - Tomorrow [YouTube]
  • deaTH of LONdon - exheavyweightChampionoftheworld [Myspace] (See, if we keep telling you about all the great bands currently springing up in and around Leicester you'll believe us eventually. Welcome, then, the East Midlands Shellac)
  • The Deirdres - Milk Is Politics [YouTube]
  • Everything Everything - Suffragette Suffragette [YouTube]
  • The Great Shakes - It Won't Stop [YouTube]
  • Hello Saferide - Anna [YouTube]
  • The Housewives - Getaway [Myspace] (Not just appealingly awkward art-something, but proof that even if we take three weeks to act on it a nice email is sometimes all it takes to grab our attention. Not all at once, though, please.)
  • Jay Jay Pistolet - Happy Birthday You [Myspace] (One of the nu-folk set, oddly about to support Katie Melua at the O2)
  • Los Campesinos! - Heart Swells/Pacific Daylight Time
  • Love Ends Disaster! - Killer BOMBS [Myspace] (From, at last, the forthcoming album, and they've also just sent us a Minnaars remix that we may post at a later date)
  • Montt Mardie - Modesty Blaise [Myspace] (Next cab off the rank from Lucky Soul's cottage industry Ruffa Lane Records, who we're assured a young Stockholm multi-instrumentalist mate of Jens Lekman and not, as you may reasonably assume, Prefab Sprout in disguise. Seriously, the song's a ringer in virtually every sense)
  • Rose Elinor Dougall - Another Version Of Pop Song [Myspace]
  • Simon Bookish - Dumb Terminal [Myspace]
  • The Sexual Objects - Here Come The Rubber Cops [label Myspace]
  • Thomas Tantrum - Rage Against The Tantrum [Myspace]
  • The Walkmen - The Blue Route [live YouTube]
  • The Week That Was - Learn To Learn [YouTube]
  • Friday, November 07, 2008

    Radio songs

    Back in April we did a little analysis to find what the four BBC music stations had been hammering for the last two years, coming up with some surprising results (Interpol second on 6 Music's all time list, Razorlight's America being all over Radio 2, whatever quirk the Holloways have taken advantage of to mean Generator is fourth in Radio 1's list) and some less so (Put Your Hands Up For Detroit, KT Tunstall).

    We were going to go back six months later and see how things had progressed but only realised this week, about six weeks after the date. Still, waste not want not - here's what the same stations have been shovelling out for the six months up to midnight Monday:

    Radio 1

    1 Coldplay 422
    2 Pendulum 397
    3 The Ting Tings 386
    4 Ne-Yo 341
    5 Kings of Leon 298
    6 The Kooks 296
    7 Oasis 294
    8 Rihanna 283
    9 The Killers 256
    9 Scouting for Girls 256
    11 The Wombats 254
    12 Vampire Weekend 244
    13 Biffy Clyro 243
    13 Eric Prydz 243
    15 Duffy 241
    16 Alphabeat 239
    17 The Verve 238
    18 Kaiser Chiefs 237
    18 The Pigeon Detectives 237
    20 Fall Out Boy 235
    21 Katy Perry 228
    22 MGMT 215
    23 Black Kids 212
    24 Gabriella Cilmi 210
    25 Adele 207
    25 McFly 207
    25 The Automatic 207
    25 Bloc Party 207
    29 The Script 206
    30 Madonna 205

    1 Eric Prydz – Pjanoo 209
    2 Ne-Yo – Closer 207
    2 Biffy Clyro – Mountains 207
    4 Oasis – The Shock Of The Lightning 201
    5 The Ting Tings – Shut Up and Let Me Go 200
    6 The Verve – Love Is Noise 193
    7 Coldplay – Viva la Vida 185
    8 The Automatic – Steve McQueen 181
    9 Madcon – Beggin' 178
    10 Kings of Leon – Sex on Fire 177
    11 Sarah Bareilles – Love Song 170
    12 Ida Maria – I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked 167
    12 The Kooks – Shine On 167
    14 Kaiser Chiefs – Never Miss a Beat 166
    14 Gabriella Cilmi – Sweet About Me 166
    16 Noah & The Whale – 5 Years Time 164
    17 The Script – The Man Who Can't Be Moved 163
    18 Pink – So What 156
    18 Duffy – Warwick Avenue 156
    20 Rihanna – Disturbia 153
    21 Pendulum – Propane Nightmares 147
    21 Madonna – Give It 2 Me 147
    23 Iglu & Hartly – In This City 146
    24 Coldplay – Violet Hill 144
    25 Wiley – Wearing My Rolex 142
    25 Pussycat Dolls – When I Grow Up 142
    27 Katy Perry – I Kissed a Girl 141
    28 Flobots – Handlebars 139
    29 Sam Sparro – Black and Gold 135
    30 James Morrison – You Make It Real 132

    God, Pendulum. All the specialist DJs have started shovelling out drum'n'bass in the wake of this shit, which is like if they only got into rock music through Fightstar. Pink, by the way, is at 31, all the other Noah & The Whale songs have received 24 plays and if you can find anyone else still grimly hanging on to The Automatic then you're better people than us.

    Radio 2

    1 Coldplay 221
    2 Sharleen Spiteri 181
    3 Duffy 178
    4 The Feeling 168
    5 The Beatles 156
    6 Sara Bareilles 155
    7 Dolly Parton 135
    8 Elbow 134
    9 David Bowie 123
    10 Snow Patrol 116
    11 Kid Rock 113
    11 Neil Diamond 113
    13 Stevie Wonder 112
    14 The Rolling Stones 109
    15 Sugababes 105
    15 Paul Weller 105
    17 Madonna 102
    18 The Kooks 97
    19 Will Young 96
    20 Adele 95
    21 Keane 94
    21 Bruce Springsteen 94
    23 Razorlight 93
    24 Bryn Christopher 86
    24 The Beach Boys 86
    24 ABBA 86
    27 James Morrison 85
    27 Tom Baxter 85
    29 Kaiser Chiefs 84
    30 Glen Campbell 83

    1 Sara Bareilles – Love Song 146
    2 Elbow – One Day Like This 118
    3 Dolly Parton – Better Get to Livin' 112
    4 Kid Rock – All Summer Long 104
    5 Sharleen Spiteri – All The Times I Cried 99
    6 Paul Weller – Have You Made Up Your Mind 96
    7 Sugababes – Girls 94
    7 Coldplay – Violet Hill 94
    9 The Feeling – Turn It Up 91
    9 Duffy – Warwick Avenue 91
    11 Snow Patrol – Take Back The City 84
    12 Bryn Christopher – The Quest 83
    13 Tom Baxter – Miracle 81
    14 Girls Aloud – The Promise 78
    14 Will Young – Changes 78
    16 Sharleen Spiteri – Stop I Don't Love You Anymore 76
    17 Boyzone – Love You Anyway 75
    18 Craig David – Officially Yours 74
    19 Julian Velard – Jimmy Dean & Steve McQueen 73
    20 The Kooks – Shine On 72
    21 The Ting Tings – Be The One 70
    22 Razorlight – Wire To Wire 69
    23 James Morrison – You Make It Real 65
    24 Leon Jackson – Don't Call This Love 64
    25 The Killers – Human 62
    26 Mêlée – Built to Last 61
    26 Anthoney Wright – Reset to zero 61
    28 Paul Carrack – Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City (City Mix) 59
    29 Idina Menzel – Gorgeous 58
    30 Dido – Don't Believe in Love 55

    Kid Rock. Kid sodding Rock. Even as recently as five months ago you'd have been sectionable to even suggest it. Mind you, Sharleen Spiteri's solo project is doing more than its share up there, even if there's a blatantly obvious runaway leader. Actually, the top of the songs list is really interesting in total, with Elbow's due and Dolly Parton proving curiously resilient. The most bizarre track specific entries are in fact just below the 30 - Laura Critchley has a song at number 48, and we've genuinely never heard of her before*, while Ne-Yo is at 41 and at 55 we find those standard bearers for housewives' choice MOR AOR... AC/DC!

    (* Literally within a day we'd had an response email from what we assume to be Critchley's management. So yeah, we've heard of her now.)

    6 Music

    1 Coldplay 264
    1 MGMT 264
    3 Vampire Weekend 253
    4 Kings of Leon 241
    5 Oasis 240
    6 Elbow 227
    7 CSS 225
    8 Ladyhawke 211
    9 Glasvegas 205
    10 The Ting Tings 202
    11 Kaiser Chiefs 197
    12 Black Kids 194
    13 The Cure 190
    13 The Verve 190
    15 Bloc Party 189
    16 Mystery Jets 187
    16 Santogold 187
    18 R.E.M. 180
    19 Paul Weller 179
    20 Primal Scream 177
    21 Lykke Li 172
    22 The Last Shadow Puppets 171
    23 Radiohead 170
    24 Keane 167
    25 Friendly Fires 163
    26 David Bowie 161
    27 Beck 160
    27 Ida Maria 160
    29 Sigur Rós 157
    30 Foals 155

    1 The Verve – Love Is Noise 152
    2 MGMT – Kids 130
    2 Kaiser Chiefs – Never Miss a Beat 130
    4 Ida Maria – I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked 120
    5 Elbow – One Day Like This 116
    6 Coldplay – Viva la Vida 115
    6 Oasis – The Shock Of The Lightning 115
    8 Ladyhawke – Dusk Till Dawn 114
    8 MGMT – Electric Feel 114
    10 Neon Neon – I Told Her On Alderaan 113
    10 The Ting Tings – Be The One 113
    12 Mystery Jets – Two Doors Down 107
    12 Kings of Leon – Sex on Fire 107
    14 CSS – Move 96
    14 Glasvegas – Daddy's Gone 96
    16 Bloc Party – Mercury 95
    16 M.I.A. – Paper Planes 95
    18 The Last Shadow Puppets – Standing Next To Me 94
    19 Friendly Fires – Jump In The Pool 93
    20 Santogold – Lights Out 92
    21 Florence and The Machine – A Kiss With A Fist 90
    21 The Hold Steady – Sequestered in Memphis 90
    23 Ladyhawke – Paris Is Burning 89
    24 Black Kids – Look At Me (When I Rock Wichoo) 88
    24 David Holmes – i heard wonders 88
    26 The Ting Tings – Shut Up and Let Me Go 87
    27 Vampire Weekend – A-Punk 86
    27 Glasvegas – Geraldine. 86
    29 Black Kids – Hurricane Jane 85
    29 Lykke Li – Breaking It Up 85

    Meh. The Cure are going well. Incidentally A-Punk has recently taken over as the all-time 6 Music track leader, which demonstrates...erm...


    1 Ne-Yo 776
    2 Jay-Z 729
    3 Kanye West 597
    4 Wiley 578
    5 Dizzee Rascal 552
    6 Taio Cruz 548
    7 Lupe Fiasco 483
    8 Mary J. Blige 458
    9 Kano 452
    10 John Legend 429
    11 Jay Sean 423
    12 Chris Brown 394
    13 Tony Matterhorn 392
    14 Snoop Dogg 384
    15 Cassie 382
    16 Alicia Keys 376
    17 Mariah Carey 366
    18 Donae'o 361
    19 T.I. 358
    20 Beyoncé 357
    21 Roll Deep 353
    22 Mavado 344
    23 Beenie Man 339
    24 Nas 334
    24 Justin Timberlake 334
    26 Nathan 325
    27 Damian Marley 324
    28 Elephant Man 316
    29 Amerie 313
    30 Rihanna 310

    1 DJ Paleface – Do You Mind (Crazy Cousins Mix) 188
    2 N*E*R*D – Everyone Nose 165
    2 John Legend – Green Light 165
    4 Jazmine Sullivan – I Need You Bad 160
    5 Ne-Yo – Miss Independent 158
    6 Tinchy Stryder – Stryderman 157
    6 Sway / Lemar – Saturday Hustle 157
    8 Nas / Keri Hilson – Hero 154
    9 Skepta – Rolex Sweep 146
    10 Dizzee Rascal / Calvin Harris / Chrome – Dance With Me 141
    10 Donae'o – Devil In A Blue Dress (1Xtra Edit) 141
    12 Common / Pharrell – Universal Mind Control 140
    13 Tinie Tempah / Cleo Soul – Tears 132
    14 Rick Ross / Nelly / Avery Storm – Here I Am 131
    15 Ne-Yo – Closer 129
    16 Wookie / Ny – Falling Again 127
    16 Mavado – So Special 127
    18 Wiley / Kenna – In The Summertime 126
    18 DJ Perempay & Dee / Katie Pearl – In The Air 126
    20 Madcon – Beggin' 124
    20 Lil Wayne / Babyface – Comfortable 124
    22 Kano – Hustler 123
    22 Mariah Carey / T.I. – I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time (Remix) 123
    24 Taio Cruz / Busta Rhymes / Sugababes – She's Like A Star (Remix) 118
    25 Chris Brown – Forever 117
    26 Lil Wayne / Static Major – Lollipop 116
    27 Rick Ross / T-Pain – The Boss 114
    27 Roll Deep ft Janay – Do Me Wrong 114
    29 Robin Thicke – Magic 113
    30 DJ Ironik – Stay With Me 107

    DJ Paleface? We've missed something here. What did happen to all that Rolex Sweep Craze business?

    Absolute Radio, of pitiful advertising fame (qv), added its stations on 1st September, so while we're here we might as well have a two and a bit month progress report:

    1 Snow Patrol 315
    2 Kaiser Chiefs 295
    3 Coldplay 283
    4 Oasis 263
    5 Razorlight 251
    6 Kings of Leon 243
    7 U2 239
    8 Keane 226
    9 The Killers 223
    10 Queen 220
    11 The Verve 211
    12 Elbow 194
    13 R.E.M. 190
    14 The Rolling Stones 179
    15 David Bowie 177
    16 Nickelback 173
    17 The Beatles 163
    18 Red Hot Chili Peppers 160
    19 The Police 153
    20 Stereophonics 138
    21 Bon Jovi 127
    22 Duffy 125
    23 The Kooks 123
    24 Bruce Springsteen 117
    24 The Jam 117
    26 Blur 112
    26 Guns N' Roses 112
    28 The Cure 103
    29 Simple Minds 101
    30 Blondie 100

    They've given Bernard Cribbens two plays!

    1 Snow Patrol – Take Back The City 279
    2 Kaiser Chiefs – Never Miss a Beat 261
    3 Razorlight – Wire To Wire 201
    4 Elbow – One Day Like This 191
    5 Kings of Leon – Sex on Fire 184
    6 Oasis – The Shock Of The Lightning 142
    7 Coldplay – Viva la Vida 123
    8 Keane – The Lovers Are Losing 112
    9 The Killers – Human 103
    10 Kid Rock – All Summer Long 92
    11 Nickelback – Gotta Be Somebody 84
    12 Coldplay – Lost! 81
    13 Biffy Clyro – Mountains 80
    14 The Verve – Rather Be 78
    14 Keane – Spiralling 78
    16 The Verve – Love Is Noise 77
    16 The Kooks – Sway 77
    18 The Ting Tings – Be The One 71
    19 AC/DC – Rock and Roll Train 66
    20 Nickelback – Far Away 59
    21 Noah and the Whale – 5 Years Time 54
    22 Vampire Weekend – A-Punk 48
    23 Duffy – Rain On Your Parade 45
    24 Kings of Leon – Use Somebody 44
    25 The Last Shadow Puppets – My Mistakes Were Made For You 42
    26 Stereophonics – You're My Star 41
    27 Katy Perry – I Kissed a Girl 40
    28 The Zutons – Valerie 36
    28 Duffy – Mercy 36
    30 The Automatic – Monster 34

    Only slightly less white bread than its parent station, AbsoluteXtreme (formerly Virgin Xtreme - it's on Sky Digital, honest):

    1 Bloc Party 617
    2 Kaiser Chiefs 610
    3 Razorlight 511
    4 Kings of Leon 503
    5 The Killers 495
    6 Coldplay 487
    7 The Pigeon Detectives 453
    8 Oasis 452
    9 The View 437
    10 MGMT 436
    11 The Ting Tings 434
    12 The Kooks 419
    13 Biffy Clyro 418
    14 Elbow 410
    14 Vampire Weekend 410
    16 The Verve 366
    17 Primal Scream 354
    18 Noah and the Whale 340
    19 Flobots 331
    20 Pendulum 306
    21 The Streets 292
    22 M.I.A. 291
    23 The Courteeners 287
    24 Kasabian 286
    25 The Last Shadow Puppets 281
    26 Muse 269
    26 Laura Branigan 269
    28 Iglu and Hartly 256
    29 Arctic Monkeys 231
    30 Foo Fighters 224

    Yeah, 1980s soft rock singer Laura Branigan. The mystery becomes clearer, as does Absolute/Virgin's lax tagging, in the tracks list:

    1 Razorlight – Wire To Wire 425
    2 Kaiser Chiefs – Never Miss a Beat 419
    3 Biffy Clyro – Mountains 418
    4 Flobots – Handlebars 331
    5 The Ting Tings – Be The One 330
    6 The Kooks – Sway 328
    7 Oasis – The Shock Of The Lightning 327
    8 The View – 5 Rebeccas 312
    9 MGMT – Kids 307
    10 Pendulum – Granite 306
    11 The Killers – Human 303
    12 Vampire Weekend – A-Punk 289
    13 The Courteeners – That Kiss 287
    14 M.I.A. – Paper Planes 282
    15 Laura Branigan – Bathroom gurgle 269
    16 The Streets – Everything Is Borrowed 265
    17 Iglu and Hartly – In This City 256
    18 Primal Scream – Uptown 251
    19 Elbow – The Bones of You 242
    20 The Last Shadow Puppets – My Mistakes Were Made For You 233
    21 The Pigeon Detectives – Sat it like you mean it 232
    22 The Verve – Love Is Noise 220
    23 Coldplay – Lost! 219
    24 Kings of Leon – Sex on Fire 206
    25 Bloc Party – Talons 202
    26 CSS – Move 193
    27 Cage the Elephant – In One Ear 180
    28 Noah and the Whale – Shape of My Heart 175
    29 Foals – Olympic Airways 166
    30 Noah and the Whale – 5 Years Time 165

    Never mind such stellar names as Hot Melts and The King Blues being in the track top 50, that's equal 22nd place (adding Heartbeat's 22 plays) she's deprived Late Of The Pier of there. Can't say it's entirely unfair, mind.