Saturday, October 31, 2009

Noughties By Nature

So this is where normal Sweeping The Nation service is put on hold for the rest of 2009. Throughout December there'll be our usual drawn out end of year orgy of list making and essay writing, but between then and now we're going to put some level of order into this decade just finishing 2000 to 2009 inclusive.

Over the next thirty days and 180 120 posts (give or take the odd one to formalise other business) we've invited readers, friends and countrymen to write about what they believe to be the best songs released during the last 118 months, whether international hits or unreleased gems. One will be posted every six hours starting at the crack of November 1st. You are invited to pass comment as you see fit.

Inevitably, at the moment of writing this there are a lot of gaps still to be filled - get in touch as a matter of the utmost instance. This houses all you need to know about contributing. We're hoping to corral some music people to pop in briefly for suggestions too.

In the meantime - enjoy.

The Weekly Sweep

  • The Blanche Hudson Weekend - Crying Shame [Myspace] (The second band to emerge from the smoking yet still feeding back rubble of the Manhattan Love Suicides - the main two, singer Caroline and guitarist Darren, this time, heading on a fuzzy retro girl pop 'tip')
  • The Bitter Springs - And Even Now [YouTube]
  • Cant - Ghosts [mp3 via Stereogum]
  • Camera Obscura - The Sweetest Thing [YouTube]
  • Chapel Club - Surfacing [Myspace]
  • The Dead Weather - I Cut Like A Buffalo [YouTube]
  • Felix - Death To Everyone But Us [Myspace]
  • Field Music - Measure [mp3 from Stereogum]
  • Fyfe Dangerfield - When You Walk In The Room [mp3 from Neon Gold]
  • Grizzly Bear - While You Wait For The Others [YouTube]
  • The Kiara Elles - Odio [YouTube]
  • The Lovely Eggs - Haunt Me Out [Myspace video]
  • Mew - Repeaterbeater [YouTube]
  • The Moi Non Plus - Ha Ha Ha [Myspace]
  • Noah & The Whale - Love Of An Orchestra [Myspace]
  • Nosferatu D2 - Flying Things And Pests
  • The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Higher Than The Stars [Myspace]
  • Piano Magic - On Edge [YouTube]
  • Rose Elinor Dougall - Fallen Over [Myspace]
  • The XX - Islands [live YouTube]
  • Friday, October 30, 2009

    How we became

    If you weren't in Leicester for our Jeremy Warmsley soiree on Wednesday night, here's an idea of how it visually transpired. Plenty thanks to Jennifer Anne Simpson for these.

    And one of support Peter Wyeth in full concentration:

    We have a signed copy of J-Wo's 5 Versions tour EP, and soon we'll work out what to do with it. Our next night out stars 4 Or 5 Magicians and will be on 3rd December, and in a couple of weeks we'll tell you which two recent big favourites round here we're putting on in January.

    Spotify's dark secrets

    More of these, in other words. Firstly, though, a complaint. In an update last week Van Morrison's The Complete Bang Sessions was uploaded. What value to this feature is mentioning a selection of Van's work between Them and Astral Weeks? Because, in a bold and magnificent move, the second half is what is commonly referred to as The Contractual Obligation Album. Morrison hated the Bang Records label but still owed them a album session, so, with much fortification, he went into the studio one afternoon and cut 31 improvised songs on a rapidly detuning guitar, including such classics as You Say France and I Whistle, Want A Danish and The Big Royalty Check, plus the smash hit:

    But it's not available in the UK. Fools.

    What we can recommend is, as described by Broken TV, Bruce Forsyth Presents..., an odd Not Live At The Palladium variety show with full I'm-in-charge Bruce aforefront. Also, these:

    Roger Whittaker - Now And Then: 1964-2004
    Our early childhood seemed blighted by Roger Whittaker, the sort of post-Val Doonican easy listening singer that you don't get any more now that even opera singers and lively jazz musicians are marketed in the same vein as Timberlake or Spears. Although born in 1936, by the mid-80s he seemed wizened enough to have seen it all and played it traditional folk songs throughout. It seems this collection has partly been re-recorded, as is the wont of veteran acts on budget labels - the production values are the giveaway - but here you'll find his surprise 1986 top ten re-entry with Des O'Connor and three of his other four top 20 singles, all made for Sunday afternoons with a mug of cocoa and the Sunday papers hidden away just in case. Oh, and then there's the whistling. Whittaker's proper skill, if one not often exhibited on his biggest hits, was his virtuoso whistling ability. The Mexican Whistler is highly recommended for the way it heads right around the scale without pausing for proper singing. And yes, there's still an audience - this reached number 21 in 2004 and back in January he came one away from cracking the top ten with a fifty year retrospective.

    John Arlott Talks Cricket
    An Evening With Johnners
    Cricket commentators more than most like a good Evening With or after dinner speaking role, especially as when they can get into the terminology. Recorded in 1982 Arlott, voice rich as gravy browning, gloriously weaving the natural rhythms of speech, seems to have just stuck a C90 in and talked into a mike in his house until it ran out about his memories from earliest exposure to his favourite personalities, reserving understandable pride for CB Fry. He probably should have hidden the clock before about the two minute mark, though. While Arlott's reminiscences are very much on-field, Brian Johnston, 80 when he recorded this in front of a studio audience in 1993, very much utilises his love of music hall jokes and the sort of public school injokery that led to sundry cakes and nicknaming. At 109 minutes he's got plenty of his life experiences to go round, even if you suspect some might be citation required. He doesn't play the 'leg over' incident. No, that's here. (That's from British & American Comedy Legends, which is well worth your time)

    Dating And Seduction Secrets: Seduction Guide For Bachelors
    Track one is called You Just Had Great Sex - What to Do the Next Morning. Given it's advertising itself as a guide to initial pulling, that's forward. Maybe you should take the cover's advice and buy her some big shoes.

    Russ Abbot's Madhouse
    Bear in mind how long the Mighty Boosh have been promising an album for. Abbot had been in a signed variety band but only became famous upon stepping up once Freddie Starr had walked out on his ITV series. Such was the way of comedy sketch shows then that every show had its own song based on a style (early rock'n'roll and rockabilly, usually) or existing song - hello to such triumphs of the imagination as Julio Doubleglazias, The Bleach Boys' Upper Norwood Girls and Daftness, for which Abbot seems to invent Billy Bragg's vocal style. There's a lot of musical care and attention been put in. Lyrically, less so.

    Sunday, October 25, 2009

    John Peel is not enough

    Five years ago today, John Peel died.

    This year's main contribution to the memorial is Kats Karavan - The History Of John Peel On The Radio, a four CD set cross-section of his average playlists released tomorrow, star and underground side by side. The full booklet in digital form is on its official site.

    And this? This is the 2006 documentary about what was in his record box when he died:

    Sound check

    We're approaching the end of the year. You might have noticed. But more pertinently, it means we're approaching the end/of beginning of musical punditry beanfeast, where no sooner have the lists of greatness left the collective maw then Tips For, in this case, 2010 pieces start being filed. What that now means is it's about this time of year that the labels start priming their big shots for the following year with next level gigs, limited edition 7"s and well placed tie-ins with on paper independent labels.

    Ellie Goulding is all over this. Signed to Polydor and teamed up with hip production and remix name Starsmith, she's got a single coming out in November on Neon Gold... which by, ooh, sheer coincidence put out two 7"s by Marina & The Diamonds (think Break Glass In Case Of Florence Welch Emergency) ahead of her being inked to Atlantic. She's just been on the NME new bands tour with among others Yes Giantess, who help bolster the electropop side along with Delphic ahead of the facile 'bands are back!' angle that'll land on The Drums, Sound Of Guns, Dinosaur Pile-Up, Everything Everything and, to an extent, Music Go Music. It's October and yet you can already see how the BBC Sound Of 2010 poll will end up. And we know that whatever gains exposure from the industry pundits and vested interest merchants that way will we transmitted by print and osmosis onto the record buying public.

    Or will it? Breaking More Waves posted in the week about Little Boots' dealing with the hype that accompanied the pressure on her to perform back in January when she won the BBC poll, how a single didn't come out until May and possibly as a result the album has stuttered towards some sort of achievement - nine weeks in the top 40 at the time of writing (it's just left the top 75) but after entering at number 5 it completely crashed to number 40 as if it were Placebo or something, an artist whose days of wine and roses with the music media were long gone but still had a following, not the debut by a critically adored singer. New In Town was a duff choice of single, true, but even when Remedy started picking up steam the album only recovered as far as number 23 and has to date only just topped 100,000 sales, number 90 on the sales list of the year. Bearing in mind Florence & The Machine would have had the number one album for five weeks were it not for Michael Jackson it suggests she hasn't quite lived up to expectations... but then who does? There have been eight Sound Of... top tens, and in the interests of a warning from history we've checked out how the powers of perception have waxed and waned over the years.

    Number one: Not actually in order, just a list of ten.
    Number of artists featured with a top twenty single that year: Four: Ms Dynamite, The Coral, The Music, POD (Alive, anyone?)
    Complete misses: Custom, who we suppose was the ersatz number one given he had the longest write-up in the piece. "This man is a ready-made star... Custom's catchy, 80s-tinged rap-rock tunes Streets and Hey Mister could be the Teenage Dirtbags of 2002" it was said of the New Yorker. They weren't, and he seems to have completely disappeared. Also special mention to singer-songwriter Peppercorn, whose album was withdrawn after a week.

    Number one: 50 Cent, who seemed to think his business was largely done after a couple of singles and he could, ahem, diversify the brand enough.
    Top twenties: Eight, and bearing in mind one of the other two were Interpol that's not too bad.
    Complete misses: The Datsuns, who'd already had a top thirty single, but that turned out to be their height.

    Number one: Keane
    Top twenties: Seven
    Complete misses: Gemma Fox crept into the top 40 come April but was barely heard of again. Such is the way of post-MC Dynamite UK urban female singers.

    Number one: The Bravery. They did release a second album but the Coldplayesque first single and presumably similar album completely failed to register on anyone's radar in Britain, whereas in America it was the song that launched them onto modern rock radio. Funny the way things turn out.
    Top twenties: Six
    Complete misses: Where oh where is Tom Vek? Neither hide nor hair for four years now.

    Number one: Corinne Bailey Rae. Second album out in February.
    Top twenties: Five
    Complete misses: Number two - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! With that voice! And that production! And that opening track! Had someone just discovered blogging, perhaps? Sway, having presumably given up on making it in his own terms, has made various failed attempts to make it on everyone else's: "In May 2009, Sway performed "The Phatso Dance" with Soccer AM's Tubes, and a cameo from Chris Kamara - it is unclear whether this will be released as a single." Oh, do you not think? However the real sinker - at least CYHSY reached number 26 with their album - was Marcos Hernandez. "In a bad year for pop, which saw Smash Hits magazine close and Top of the Pops cancelled, it was always going to be hard for this former boy-band singer to make an impact" said the end of year roundup. Yeah, that'll be it. Especially in the year of Lily Allen.

    Number one: Mika
    Top twenties: Three! The top three, as it happens.
    Complete misses: The last call of the Coldplayites saw off Air Traffic and Ghosts, but our anti-champion is Sadie Ama. "After a whirlwind few months of MD & A&R meetings, radio interviews, magazine articles and photo shoots, Sadie decided to hold back, build on her style & sound and wait until the time was right for her to enter into a career in music. A couple of underground smashes later, she's ready. The press have been super quick in spotting the potential of this future superstar.... please make way for Sadie in 2007. As we speak she is in the studio, building on her signature sound and preparing her assault on the mainstream." That is still on her Myspace. What actually happened was her first proper single stalled at 67 and she was never heard of again.

    Number one: Adele. Every single newspaper and magazine ran with either Adele or Duffy as their top choice, and at the time it was hard to split the difference as to who'd be the successful one. In retrospect and being aware of the modern sales pitch, the Alison Moyet-esque one versus the bubby blonde was no contest at all.
    Top twenties: Six
    Complete misses: There's a full page interview with Joe Lean in the current NME, which is the sort of thing successful and popular singers usually get but no matter. In it he reveals that, after a second attempt at recording an album after either they or their label cancelled the first two weeks before release, his Jing Jang Jong have been dropped and he wants to sign to ATP Records. Good luck!

    Number one: Little Boots, as stated.
    Top twenties: Seven
    Complete misses: You could say VV Brown, still being treated as pop royalty by the papers despite never coming near actual sales. You could plump for Passion Pit, comprehensively lapped by the two bands we keep confusing them with, The Big Pink and Temper Trap. But no, the garlands go to Dan Black for not even managing a top 75 entry, the first Sound Of nominee to manage that since the proper top ten was introduced. See, one he'd had to change the Notorious BIG cover nobody really cared.

    Saturday, October 24, 2009

    The Weekly Sweep

  • Acres, Acres - Diamonds From Coal [mp3]
  • Camera Obscura - The Sweetest Thing [YouTube]
  • Cant - Ghosts [mp3 from Stereogum] (Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear (and Dirty Projectors production)'s solo debut. Thus, unmissable)
  • Cats & Cats & Cats - A Boy Called Haunts [Myspace]
  • The Chapman Family - Virgins [YouTube]
  • Grizzly Bear - While You Wait For The Others [YouTube]
  • I Concur - Sobotka [YouTube]
  • Johnny Foreigner - Security To The Promenade
  • The Kiara Elles - Odio [YouTube]
  • Local Natives - Camera Talk [YouTube]
  • Los Campesinos! - There Are Listed Buildings [Vimeo]
  • Mew - Repeaterbeater [YouTube]
  • Piano Magic - On Edge [Myspace video]
  • Rose Elinor Dougall - Fallen Over [Myspace]
  • Seeland - Captured [Vimeo]
  • Slow Club - Trophy Room [YouTube]
  • Spiral Stairs - Stolen Pills [YouTube]
  • Taken By Trees - My Boys [YouTube]
  • Volcano Choir - Island, IS [YouTube]
  • The XX - Islands [live YouTube]

    The Joe Gideon & The Shark story continues. Two weeks ago Bronzerat had a making of the video for Civilisation up, as they had done for about a month without a video. Last Friday, the video appeared and we linked to it on here, not getting to mention that the making of had disappeared. Tuesday: video gone private, making of back. Today: neither in evidence. Something up?
  • Friday, October 23, 2009

    One week, and a bit, to go

    We've got a few more in, but not enough to cover the full first week by some chalk. And if we don't by the 31st, we'll delete all these messages and make out that Noughties By Nature as an idea never existed, and anyway end of decade pieces are for fools. Oceania is at war with Eastasia. It has always been at war with Eastasia.

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Hold on to your genre

    If music has seen one growth area outside the digital over the course of this decade, it's the launch and appellation of new genres. Obviously this is something that has long been with us, Steve Lamacq famous in his NME days for coming up with three new specious groupings and a name before lunch, but this decade with the rush to promote to the charts and compartmenalise has come all manner of filing away of eager young bucks. Mostly started by the NME, yes. And in some cases never getting beyond that point. Here's sixteen examples.

    WOSSAT?: Largely European invention fusing electro house, art installations and lots of panstick. Advice for girls: kohl eyeshadow, blank looks. The reason Ministry Of Sound records doesn't really do artist albums any more. Happened about eight years too early for charge of the light Tenori-Ons.
    UNDOING: Bespoke 'anti-fashion' clothing designers don't come cheap.
    SEE UNDER: Fischerspooner, Peaches, Felix da Housecat, Chicks On Speed, Miss Kittin and The Hacker, Tiga

    The New Rock Revolution
    WOSSAT?: Leading the charge away from... whatever 2000 was like, Travis possibly, a gang of artfully dishevelled retrogressive garage rockers emerged pretty much simultaneously, power chords loaded and ready for prime time. Commonly referred to as 'The bands' after their often common nominature. The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones not pictured.
    UNDOING: Not that much room for manoevure, unless you're Detriot's own Machiavelli Jack White or not really garage rock at all (YYYs). The NME's covermounted New Rock Revolution CD included The Thrills. For pete's sake.
    SEE UNDER: The Strokes, The White Stripes, The Vines, The Hives, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Von Bondies, The Datsuns, The D4

    WOSSAT?: In 2004 a legal loophole in new anti-drug legislation meant magic mushrooms could be legally sold in Britain. At about the same time a handful of bands were playing around with psychedelic influences. Juxtaposition! Hello, I'm Conor McNicholas.
    UNDOING: The loophole was closed a few months later. So was Dave McCabe's mind. Not really psychedelic at all, actually, often more like the La's than Gong.
    SEE UNDER: The Coral, The Zutons, The Bees, Delays, Hal, Razorlight (so the Telegraph claimed)

    New Acoustic Movement
    WOSSAT?: A new movement of acoustic acts. Somewhat egalitarian. Quiet Is The New Loud is an excellent debut album title, you have to admit.
    UNDOING: Unlike the folky types of recent past, actually just for the most part songs played acoustically.
    SEE UNDER: Turin Brakes, Damien Rice, Kings of Convenience, I Am Kloot, Alfie, Matthew Jay

    The Brit Pack
    WOSSAT?: For no specific reason, in October 2003 the NME grouped together ten new British bands at random and slapped them together under a specious title, then sent out a package tour under that name on which only one of the ten (the Ordinary Boys) actually played.
    UNDOING: Nobody else at all used the title.
    SEE UNDER: We can tell you exactly: Keane, Kasbaian, The Ordinary Boys, yourcodenameis:milo, Hal, Eastern Lane, My Red Cell, The Glitterati, The Open, Kid Symphony

    The Scene With No Name
    WOSSAT?: Oh, thanks a lot for that one. The umbrella title for a lot of newly emergent bands in 2002 who... well, Simon Williams of Fierce Panda laid it out thus: "You know a band are No Name when...They swear frequently and for no apparent reason, they wear dark clothes (they don't look so dirty after you've rolled around onstage for 25 minutes), they play at least one song which sounds like New Rose by The Damned, and that's it - The Scene With No Name has no other rules."
    UNDOING: They all turned out to be spectacularly uncommercial.
    SEE UNDER: Ikara Colt, 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster, McLusky, The Parkinsons, Miss Black America, Hoggboy, thisGIRL

    WOSSAT?: Broadsheets getting excited about the number of under-18 gigs and sixteen year olds in bands.
    UNDOING: The perils of writing about a band for reasons other than their music. They have to balance rehearsals with homework! Yes, and they sound like the Kooks.
    SEE UNDER: Cajun Dance Party, Bombay Bicycle Club, Pull In Emergency, Lo-Fi Culture Scene, Kitty Daisy & Lewis (who don't sound like the Kooks, but you know what we mean)

    Freak Folk/New Weird Americana
    WOSSAT?: American folkies, often with beards, following their own strange trip through psychedelica, Pentangle and woodland cabins. You don't have to collaborate with Vashti Bunyan to work here, but it helps. Coined by The Wire, uniquely.
    UNDOING: Patience testing gigs.
    SEE UNDER: Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Animal Collective, CocoRosie, Six Organs of Admittance, Vetiver, Akron/Family, Danielson

    WOSSAT?: Folk... and electronica. Do you see? Not strictly electronica, in truth, more anything not immediately associated with folkish tropes. The rather good singer-songwriter Matt Eaton claims to have accidentally coined it. The Wikipedia page claims MGMT are folktronica. If you like.
    UNDOING: The ongoing erosion of folkishness in most of it.
    SEE UNDER: Four Tet/Fridge/Adem, Tunng, Animal Collective, Múm, CocoRosie, Caribou, Gravenhurst, The Books, Psapp, The Notwist

    WOSSAT?: Oh god. You'd think people would be content with grime as Britain's own underground hip hop-derived movement, but in a last ditch attempt to make it appeal to whitey some of its leading lights started teaming up with indie bands. And not the inventive ones.
    UNDOING: Well, just think about it.
    SEE UNDER: Hadouken!, Marvin the Martian, Statik, Lethal Bizzle's collaborations with Babyshambles, Gallows and the Rakes (how can one man get it wrong so often?)

    New Rave
    WOSSAT?: Flourescence, east London warehouses, ketamine and not sounding like rave at all. Please say Bono Must Die was a collective hallucination.
    UNDOING: Klaxons' Mercury winning speech, the point at which the nation realised that giving these people publicity really wasn't wise.
    SEE UNDER: Klaxons, New Young Pony Club, Late Of The Pier, Test Icicles, Shitdisco

    WOSSAT?: Ragged, odd, bookish, from around south-west London, some of whom played the famed Eel Pie Island parties.
    UNDOING: Perhaps too raggle-taggle for its own good. Although we miss Blaine Harrison's pots and pans percussion kit.
    SEE UNDER: Mystery Jets, Larrikin Love, Jamie T, Good Shoes, The Holloways, Dustin's Bar Mitzvah

    New Cross scene
    WOSSAT?: Angular Records-related grouping of post-punks with smarts.
    UNDOING: Kele Okereke and Eddie Argos' publicised fight. Who picks a fight over musical oneupmanship with Eddie Argos? Ian McCulloch never started on Nigel Blackwell.
    SEE UNDER: Bloc Party, Art Brut, The Violets, Ladyfuzz, Luxembourg

    New Yorkshire
    WOSSAT?: The NME decide that the north east is the place. They get lucky and catch the early stirrings of Arctic Monkeys.
    UNDOING: That band go on to dwarf everything else, leading some of these bands on like bowl-haired pied pipers.
    SEE UNDER: Arctic Monkeys, The Cribs, The Long Blondes, Milburn, Bromheads Jacket, Little Man Tate, ¡Forward, Russia!, The Sunshine Underground, The Research, Black Wire

    Best Midlands
    WOSSAT?: They still tried again for a little while, mind.
    UNDOING: But didn't really carry it on any further. And they missed Johnny Foreigner, who'd just released a split 7" with SCC, one of whom has for full marks written their name on his T-shirt in the introductory photo.
    SEE UNDER: The bands featured in the actual launch spread: The Enemy, The Twang (who look appalling), Sunset Cinema Club, Untitled Musical Project, Envy & Other Sins, Deluka, The Big Bang, The Gravity Crisis, Vijay Kishore, The Ripps, Ripchord, Murdoch

    Not that in our quest to become proper journalists we're entirely innocent, as over the years we've brought you these four of our own invention/volition. Why not start using them yourselves?

    Nu-folk: Our attempt to second guess what the Marling/Flynn/Mumford/The Great axis would be called. Actually got picked up on very briefly towards the end of last year. Laura's got one unnerving smile, hasn't she?
    Nu-new wave: The New Wave Of New Wave Of New Wave, possibly. Can't quite recall who exactly kicked this one off. Maybe some Shoreditchite post-Joe Lean type.
    Math-folk: Melton Mowbray's finest, Project Notion, actually use this on their biography after we coined it for their mix of tappy guitars and folky expansive arrangements. You still active, PN?
    Guardian Pop: Actually coined by our friend Steve W, part-majordomo over at TV Cream, for those, usually Scandinavian, who are endlessly praised by proper music writers and ILX (and formerly Popjustice) as great modern pop music and never sell any records. Lorraine, Lykke Li, all those. Robyn having a number one ruined it, but scene leader Annie's still flying that particular flag high.

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Player's anthem

    So England are through to the World Cup, and the biannual beanfeast begins as the papers name every male guitar band they can think of as being in the running to record England's official song. Football and music. There's two uncomfortable bedfellows, whether through personnel - we'll get back to that - or audio. Or, for all in one, Chris Evans' Rock'n'Roll Football during his Virgin Radio days. Ever hear that? There actually is such a thing as too little excitement.

    See, since the turn of the decade there's been plenty of talk, and plenty of jostling for position, about football songs but little reward. For Euro 2000 the FA, having seen Vindaloo wreck their best laid plans, picked up on the Groucho allstars for... go on, I'll have to hurry you... no? It was a cover of Jerusalem featuring four male voice choirs and it reached number 10, with only the England Supporters' Band joining them in the top 40. Two years later it was Ant & Dec's We're On The Ball, only notable as a) it was adapted from a 1970 record Chris Evans had been plugging four years earlier - ah, the zeitgeist, it moves so fast and so far - b) one of the promo items was a T-shirt sloganed "TORD GRIP SAYS RELAX", and c) it now transpires Ant & Dec thought as much of it as the rest of us. These, readers, were the days of Bell & Spurling.

    2002, incidentally, was also the year World In Motion got re-released, surfing that tidal wave of nationalistic emotion and Italian memories to, erm, number 43. In a week when Spunge entered the top 40 (as did a debuting Libertines, actually). It was also the first year when Peter Hook would claim they were just about to re-record it, as he already has this year despite the band being inactive.

    2004 was soundtracked by a great pub singalong anthem. Of 1990. A remixed version of the Farm's All Together Now, in fact, which fell victim to the Eamon/Frankee wars and the inexorable force of Peter Andre's Insania in getting no further than number 5. This was the golden age of the cash-in. Three places above the Farm was Come On England by 4-4-2, a cover of Come On Eileen with some TalkSport DJs on alleged backing vocals. Four below was Born in England by Twisted X, XFM's official song featuring the Libertines, Delays, Supergrass, Bernard Butler and that well known Englishman James Nesbitt. Think things can't get more desperate? In 2006 speculation was as rife as speculation ever can be but Embrace got the FA's nod with World At Your Feet, such an unlikely choice that you could, for perhaps the only time ever, sympathise with the Daily Mail and their winner of a headline 'Band chosen for England's World Cup song'. Their career's never recovered, but then neither did the image of the unofficial song - thousands, it seems, were released but the only ones to make a chart dent were Tony Christie's (Is This The Way To) The World Cup, the in no way cliched Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Jurgen Klinsmann? by Tonedef Allstars (featuring, god spare them, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters along with Frank Bruno), Talksport Allstars' We're England (Tom Hark), Sham 69's Hurry Up England and - our heart turns to pumice just considering these words, original tune for once or no - Stan's World Cup Song by Stan Boardman. This is why we can't believe the Cribs. You can't ignore the ignorant, because without guidance they'll buy World Cup singles by Stan Boardman.

    Do you think the players properly appreciate this effort? There's a long standing truism about footballers' musical tastes, which was only embossed by the Steven Gerrard assault case where it turned out the row was facilitated by the DJ's refusal to put on Phil Collins. All footballers, the motto goes, are into Luther Vandross, Simply Red and Phil Collins, the younger ones split by racial profile into Oasis/Coldplay and Ja Rule/Akon. Naturally they are. Footballers are of the undereducated working class, blessed with a drive and self-belief that doesn't match the anti-mainstream alienation inherent in the music us priggish snobs like.

    But not all of them. Inspired by Simon Raymonde's interview guest at In The City in Manchester yesterday, we threw together, with a little Twitter help, a feasible, if overly defensive, XI of players who don't mind a musical sortie into darker waters. John Barnes will not be acknowledged.

    Marcus Hahnemann
    Metalhead. Loves Mastodon and Disturbed, but mostly Tool. Good friends with bassist Justin Chancellor, he invited the band to the Reading v West Ham game in September 2007. One can only imagine Maynard James Keenan in the pie queue. Also, collects handguns.

    Slaven Bilic
    Plays rhythm guitar in anthemic rockers Rawbau, with whom he wrote and recorded Croatia's Euro 2008 anthem Vatreno Ludilo.

    Alexei Lalas
    Played with The Gypsies, who made two albums and opened for Hootie and the Blowfish in Europe. Went on to make a creditable power-pop solo record with the inevitable title Ginger. Beard lol.

    Leighton Baines
    Acknowledged Hot Club de Paris fan. Alright, maybe we're stretching it a little.

    Graeme Le Saux
    Reads the Guardian, we hear. Asked for tapes of the Evening Session to be sent out while at the 1998 World Cup.

    Stuart Pearce
    Everyone knows he's a Sex Pistols fan. Fewer know that he's among the pogoing crowd pictured on the inner sleeve of the Lurkers' 1978 live album Fulham Fallout, and he wrote the foreword for a biography of the band. Was spotted at a Stiff Little Fingers gig in April.

    Gaizka Mendieta
    According to Kingsley out of the Chapman Family his favourite song is Rock And Roll by the Velvet Underground. Some light Googling also brings up penchants for Mercury Rev, Wilco, Yo La Tengo and Pavement. He'll do.

    Frank Rijkaard
    Lists his musical heroes as Pixies and the Smiths. Favourite Smiths song: Half A Person.

    Mehmet Scholl
    Has put his name to two compilations of alt-rock. Never mind that, though, for his final game, a Bayern Munich v Barcelona friendly in August 2007, he flew the Hidden Cameras over to perform pitchside during the warm-up. Joel Gibb describes his band's sound as "gay folk church music". You wonder whether that would pass without comment in Britain.

    Pat Nevin

    Our captain. Our don. The aforementioned chat partner of good friend Raymonde. Chelsea team mates used to dig through his kit bag weekly and rip up his newly purchased copy of the NME. He eventually got round the problem by buying two. Has DJ'd for a good 25 years, including a night at indiepop hangout How Does It Feel To Be Loved? Often namechecks Camera Obscura. And he was trusted enough to be made PFA chairman for four years.

    Paul McGregor
    A slightly weak link right up front in our team, were it real. (And we were worrying about the 5-4-1 formation earlier too. Because we're managing them against Rooney's Stereophonics Select next week, you know.) McGregor was a promising youngster at Nottingham Forest before fitful spells at Plymouth and Northampton and an early retirement in 2003. Almost as famous was his spell as The Britpop Footballer, fronting a little heard but much discussed band called Merc. And that was that... except about eighteen months ago he was outed as the frontman with Spacemen 3/Suicide-ish confrontational types Ulterior. Supposedly once talked up Godspeed You! Black Emperor in the Plymouth programme.

    Manager: John Gregory
    Badger haired ex-Villa boss. Obligatory at one point to mention in interviews his adoration for Bruce Springsteen. Once appeared on Ian Wright's chat show performing a self-written song with own acoustic accompaniment.

    And to round this all off, with 'credit' to Nick Dunkeyson for passing it on, here's a tribute to Roque Santa Cruz during his spell at Bayern Munich. The man looks mildly baffled, as well he might.

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    Resonance FM

    For another day's easy filler, behold the psychedelic oddness of Helmholtz Resonators, an instrumental trio with a wrecked garagey edge led by a battered organ, are in the grand tradition of tactile analogue keyboard abusers forged by Add N To (X), Pram, Zongamin and Plone, all pseudonyms and costumes. "Magnus Pike meets Keith Emerson" says Marc Riley, and certainly little seems better suited to stabbing keyboards in a blast lab. Album The Crystal Submarine is out today. We think.

    Helmholtz Resonators - Oompah

    Sunday, October 18, 2009

    Doesn't your balloon ever land?

    Just realised that title betrays a coincidental topicality, but it's there for a thematic reason. What's happened is in the last few weeks two different people have got in touch with us about promoting a new Spearmint reissue. Can't think why they'd single this blog out.

    The reissue in question is in fact the album that track comes from, their proper debut A Week Away, reissued on iTunes and through their online store tomorrow with a CD release on either 26th October or 16th November, depending on which outlet you believe. Not only do they get a hefty namecheck in 500 Days Of Summer - a Garden State/Shins-style profile spike hasn't happened yet, but give it time - but the album itself has just passed its ten year anniversary and so comes repackaged with eleven extra tracks, including the EP song cycle Life In Reverse. Apart from that certain other song, it's also worth noting the one that made the Radio 1 playlist (and featuring the self same sample that underpinned David Morales' Needin' U as it became a top ten single four months later) has now been reinstated to its full glory:

    Spearmint - A Trip Into Space (full length version)

    Spearmint - Outside The Roundhouse (from Life In Reverse EP)

    And while it's currently only on Facebook, we're very delighted to see the A Trip Into Space video because we saw it on MTV's Alternative Nation one week at about 1.30am, possibly while pissed, and have never seen so much as a snippet since, and it's bugged us for a decade. The sop to the non-Facebooked is We're Going Out, only ever shown on the late UK Play channel and featuring celebrated dandy about town Dickon Edwards during his brief spell as second guitarist:

    By coincidence this all follows in the wake of This Is A Souvenir: The Songs Of Spearmint & Shirley Lee, in which Image Comics commissioned a subset of comic writers and artists to reinterpret songs from the back catalogue in their own image. For the record, Phonogram's Gillen & McKelvie got Sweeping The Nation. Of course they did.

    Saturday, October 17, 2009

    The Weekly Sweep

  • 4 Or 5 Magicians - Nice Little Earner [YouTube]
  • Acres, Acres - Diamonds From Coal [mp3]
  • Camera Obscura - The Sweetest Thing [YouTube]
  • Copy Haho - Wrong Direction [Myspace]
  • The Decemberists - The Rake's Song [YouTube]
  • Fanfarlo - The Walls Are Coming Down [YouTube]
  • Grammatics - Double Negative [live YouTube]
  • Grizzly Bear - While You Wait For The Others [YouTube]
  • I Concur - Sobotka [YouTube]
  • I Was A King - Norman Bleik [Myspace] (So work this one out. A Norwegian band write a song with more than shades of Teenage Fanclub circa Grand Prix, in particular Neil Jung. Then just to make sure, they give it that title.)
  • Internet Forever - Cover The Walls [acoustic live YouTube, if you can imagine Internet Forever in acoustic mode] (May we also recommend their noisy attack on Dire Straits' Walk Of Life. Note Chris' throat turning on him at 0:43)
  • Joe Gideon & The Shark - Civilisation [YouTube]
  • Johnny Foreigner - Criminals [YouTube]
  • The Kiara Elles - Odio [YouTube]
  • Kill It Kid - Heaven Never Seemed So Close [YouTube]
  • Local Natives - Camera Talk [YouTube]
  • Los Campesinos! - There Are Listed Buildings [Vimeo]
  • The Lovely Eggs - Haunt Me Out [Myspace]
  • Mew - Repeaterbeater [YouTube]
  • The Phantom Band - Throwing Bones [Myspace]
  • Piano Magic - On Edge [Myspace video]
  • Rose Elinor Dougall - Fallen Over [Myspace]
  • Slow Club - Trophy Room [YouTube]
  • Stairs To Korea - Boy Bear It In Mind [YouTube]
  • Swanton Bombs - Doom [Myspace]
  • Taken By Trees - My Boys [YouTube] (Victoria Bergsman airily covers Animal Collective, with your actual Noah Lennox on backing vocals)
  • Tubelord - Propeller [Vimeo]
  • The Voluntary Butler Scheme - Trading Things In [YouTube]
  • Wild Beasts - All The King's Men [YouTube]
  • Wonderswan - Furrpile [Myspace]
  • Friday, October 16, 2009

    Here for duration

    Nosferatu D2 - Springsteen

    Audio Antihero are reissuing Nosferatu D2's sole album We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise. Nosferatu D2 is - well, was - the people's genius Ben Parker, before his anger turned to disenchantment and he summarily became Superman Revenge Squad, and his brother Adam on drums. We'll probably write more about it when our copy comes through.

    What we should also add is there's a kinda new SRS record, only kind of because it's been on for a little bit and it's almost all re-recorded previously released songs with a cellist. It's called Hmmmmm... Meet The 'All-New' Superman Revenge Squad, includes a Judas Priest cover and is trading for three of your English.

    Should we include We're Here For Duration...We Hope! in our end of year list? (Because it would be, trust us) We excluded This Is My Own Personal Way Of Dealing With It All last year because it wasn't available in the shops, but is that unfair?

    C'est Bon

    The Bon Bon Club comprises, it says here, Sushi Quatro, Chapatti Smith and Boozie Sioux. Mmm. Behind such guises lie ex-Long Blondes bassist Reenie Hollis, Claire Hill of Slow Down Tallahassee and Navvy, and Kim... Kim. Dunno more. Their raison d'etre is menacingly minimal, pumped up bass and drum-led covers - on their first EP they took on the Cure, Pulp and Death From Above 1979. Come their second, a 3” mini-CD released through Rare Breed Discs, they've hired prolific Sheffield producer Alan Smyth to helm covers of Sex On Fire, Dubstar's The Day I See You Again and...

    The Bon Bon Club - Dreams

    Thursday, October 15, 2009

    Jeremy baits

    "Lay aside the electronic crooner side and think Shins, Beach Boys, Beulah" is what we wrote the other day about Diamonds From Coal by Acres, Acres, the new band project of Jeremy Warmsley. Well, see for yourself as it's free to download for all. Coming up for the band: a few London gigs, an album next year and possibly a fist fight with Acres And Acres.

    Coming up for Warmsley, a solo acoustic tour:

    21 Free instore at Pure Groove, Farringdon
    22 Reading Oakford Social Club
    23 Brighton New Hero
    24 Bristol Louisiana
    25 Oxford Wheatsheaf
    26 Derby Royal
    27 Birmingham Hare & Hound (free)
    28 Leicester Firebug (expensive. Rather pleasingly, J-Wo's Myspace refers to this date as 'Sweeping The Nation @ The Firebug', as if it's a proper venture)
    29 Norwich Birdcage
    30 Winchester Railway
    1 Manchester Kro Bar
    2 Aberdeen Tunnels
    3 Inverness Hootananny
    4 Nowhere yet, but he's looking - get in touch (with him, not us) if you're Scottish and have a place free
    5 Glasgow Brel
    6 Wakefield Escobar

    At those gigs you'll be able to buy an acoustic EP of four old favourites plus a cover. Or you can download it, if you really don't want Warmsley to get hold of your money. It's via Cashmusic, of whom Jeremy also reveals:
    "CASH is a not-for-profit organisation based in Rhode Island, Florida, USA. They are very fine people who help bands develop the tools to get their music heard by more people. They made that lovely site for the 5 Versions EP above. Anyway they're having a fancy raffle to raise a bit of money for their operation and I've donated a prize. You can buy a ticket for $15 and if you win, you can have me record a cover song of your choice (within reason and subject to discussion - and by this I mean I'm not going to do any Atomic Kitten songs - S Club yes, Atomic Kitten no). More at There's some other great prizes there, too."

    Stream/upload revolutionaries

    Channel 4 is slowly establishing a YouTube presence for performances from The Word, a show whose chief music booker was Jo Whiley. Hard to credit these days, isn't it? As you can tell from the caption, the Manics weren't supposed to be doing this one:

    Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    Buzz band

    Quick one for today - Buzz Aldrin are yet another band from Bologna (the fourth we've covered, we reckon) and indeed their details were passed on to us by Jonathan from A Classic Education. Their debut EP, released through Secret Furry Hole on cassette next Monday, is a threatening drone of garagey electronic fuzz that nods to Suicide and Silver Apples most notably, through DAF and Cabaret Voltaire and out through Liars.

    Buzz Aldrin - Giant Rabbits Are Looking At The Sun

    Monday, October 12, 2009

    Noughties By Nature: an official reminder

    The above is the title of our feature running throughout November in which we list the people's songs of the decade. By which we mean we want you, the reader, to nominate your favourite songs released over the last 118 months and then write a paragraph or two of praise about them. Let us know ASAP registering your interest: email, or drop off a message on Myspace or Twitter.

    How many can I do?
    As many as you want, within reason. We're going to run 180 in total, six posts a day, hopefully six different people a day.

    When do you want it by?
    ASAP. Before the end of October would be very good indeed.

    Can I choose anything?
    No, it's one per artist - let us know first off what you want to write about and we'll tell you if it's gone. Also be aware that five people have so far asked to cover You Are the Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve.

    I've seen your previous attempts at crowdsourcing content. This isn't going to work, is it?
    Yes. Yes it will. But only with your help.

    Sunday, October 11, 2009

    The Music That Made... The Kiara Elles

    A couple of years ago at the first Indietracks we chanced across a band called the Chiara L's with no prior knowledge and were immediately taken in by their lively Popguns-meets-K Records fuzztoned pop. A couple of years and a slight name alteration later The Kiara Elles are ready to break out of whichever Leeds lair they've been working up their sound from, a modern-day Altered Images for the post-Long Blondes kids to fall in love with. They have an album set for spring 2010, and before that a 7", limited edition with home made and hand stamped sleeves, out tomorrow. "Odio will go blog > indie disco > charts > car advert in a matter of months. Enjoy it while you can bear it" advised the Guardian blog. Well, we can easily start that procedure. All five of them responded, so concentrate.

    First single bought
    Chiara (vocals): Honestly can’t remember
    Jonny (guitar): Angel Interceptor by Ash, though I nearly bought Gangsta's Paradise by Coolio but they were restocking the shelves in HMV so it wasn't there, I like to think of it as a happy piece of fate. The Ash track had a really strange vocoder cover of John Lennon's Gimme Some Truth on it too which was quite eye opening to a thirteen/fourteen (cant quite remember) year old
    Emma (bass): Something gay
    Amy (synth): Aqua, Doctor Jones or Barbie Girl on cassette.
    Dan (drums): Think it was Soundgarden - Black Hole Sun (on tape)

    First album bought
    Chiara: When I was 6 I asked for True Blue by Madonna as a present
    Jonny: The first one that was bought for me at my request as a child was Bad by Michael Jackson, my uncle bought me it as well as a collection of his old Motown singles, obviously back then I never knew that Dirty Diana was about the backstage tendencies of Miss Ross but it had some slick music on! The first one I actually paid money for was Nevermind by Nirvana, still love every track on that album (Incesticide is my favorite of theirs though) swiftly followed by Bleach then a delve into Britpop for a while before coming out the other side and buying OK Computer.
    Emma: KLF - Chill Out
    Amy: I really don't remember buying my 'first'. I didn't have a CD player until I was 15 so it could have been anything.
    Dan: Oasis - Definitely Maybe

    First gig voluntarily attended
    Chiara: Possibly Green Day when I was 16 (I know – bad!)
    Jonny: Catatonia at Leeds Met University 1998. I was a fan of their Way Beyond Blue album at the time and was keen to hear their new material plus I had a bit of a thing for Cerys. Then she was still at the stage where she would play a gig in Cardiff and throw a TV out of her own house window because there was no hotel. Made her seem like a proper indie queen at the time before she went jungle hopping with people from Eastenders.
    Amy: Travis with Kings of Leon, Christmas 2003, my ticket out of Bedford.
    Dan: Cast at De Montfort Hall, Leicester

    The record that most made you want to get into music
    Chiara: Gets worse: Green Day – Dookie
    Jonny: Again that would be Nevermind, I think as that album had the first songs that me and my mates from school learnt, we formed a little band and had a go at it. I think it made a noisy refreshing sound to hear Teen Spirit or Breed belting out from the music room window at lunchtime instead of the endless bingo hall keyboard and drum versions of Every Breath You Take that people had inflicted upon us previously. Our teacher was great, he even let us do a parents' open day where we got to annoy the hell out of them with our very ramshackle version of About A Girl from Bleach. A year later he played piano with us during a cover of Karma Police. Ah, memories.
    Emma: Nirvana – Bleach
    Amy: House of the Rising Sun, The Animals, and a couple of songs by Booker T and the MGs. I must have been quite young at the time, 5 or 6, I remember those songs being played on my Mum and Dad's favourite radio station Classic Gold Amber and wanted to play an organ like that.
    Dan: Would have to be something from my dad's record collection, either Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here, something by Queen, The Beatles or The Travelling Wilburys

    The three headliners at a festival you were curating
    Chiara: Le Tigre, Crystal Castles, Cure
    Emma: Arcade Fire, Sonic Youth, Brian Jonestown Massacre
    Dan: Stevie Wonder, The Smiths, The Clash

    A song not enough people know about but everyone should hear
    Chiara: I Close My Eyes To Think Of God by Comet Gain
    Jonny: All Flowers In Time, a rare duet by Liz Fraser from The Cocteau Twins and Jeff Buckley. It's one of the most beautiful yet fragile songs ever made. Hits you in the head and the heart hard yet you come out the other side of it feeling ten feet taller that before you put it on.
    Emma: The Past Is A Grotesque Animal by Of Montreal
    Amy: Anything by Isobel Campbell
    Dan: The Kiara Elles - Odio

    A song you'd play to get people dancing
    Chiara: Trash by The Whip
    Jonny: It depends. If I wanted them swing about like an embarrassing uncle then I would put on Let's Dance by David Bowie, if it was more of a summer afternoon it would be Master Blaster by Stevie Wonder, but if I want to have something a bit more punchy and brutal I would probably go with Shoot Speed Kill Light by Primal Scream and coincide it with copious amounts of turbo shandy.
    Emma: Untrust Us by Crystal Castles
    Amy: Raveonettes - Sleepwalking
    Dan: The Undisputed Truth - You + Me = Love

    The last great thing you heard
    Chiara: Male Bonding by KASMS
    Jonny: Seen a few great bands the last couple of weeks I can't really choose between, three bands live that have really taken me that spring to mind are Bellini, Jeniferever and Vessels. Recording wise I really like the new Chapman Family single called Virgins. I think it shows people they have some depth to the songwriting to go with the noise.
    Emma: Sea Within A Sea by the Horrors
    Amy: Linda Keel - Apple Pie, played by Rob, the DJ boyfriend
    Dan: High Contrast - Confidential

    Your key non-musical influences
    Chiara: Just to name a few: The Wasp Factory, surrealism, David Lynch, Lain, Harold And Maude, Irvine Welsh, Dino Buzzati, Paolo Villaggio, Peep Show, Bruno Bozzetto, Ballard, Basquiat, my friend Mari, my friend Emma, my grandma, independent fashion designers, Being John Malkovich, etc etc...
    Jonny: Ethically Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, they always did and said the right things and stood by their actions, though if I am in a bad mood I tend to lean more towards Michael Douglas' character D-FENS in the film Falling Down. Sportswise Gordon Strachan and John Charles, but I won't elaborate. I hate it when people use football as a promotional tool to sell their bands, what's wrong with using your music instead? I also admire AP McCoy, anyone who can get thrown off a horse twice a day and still ride 3000 winners with injuries every day is made out of granite, plus he helps my bank balance occasionally. Visually - Francis Ford Coppola, Francis Bacon and David Hockney.
    Emma: Spongebob Squarepants
    Amy: Charles Schulz
    Dan: Adidas trainers and expensive jackets

    Your favourite new artist
    Chiara: Heartsrevolution
    Jonny: In terms of right this second it would be a guy called Pictureplane who supported Health at a gig I went to last night, simply because I had never heard him before in my life and he was coming from somewhere totally different musically. He is a one man electro-breaks-techno crossover with him singing, programming and mixing at the same time. I thought he was the roadie at first but then he just burst into his set. I love suprises like that, thank heavens for the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, it's great for bringing in new interesting artists in that way.
    Emma: Heartsrevolution
    Amy: Jack of Heart
    Dan: The XX

    Saturday, October 10, 2009

    The Weekly Sweep

    Another sprawling beyond its usual means selection this week, and we've still got plenty of stuff to listen to:

  • 4 Or 5 Magicians - Nice Little Earner [YouTube]
  • Acres, Acres - Diamonds From Coal [Myspace] (This is what our Jeremy, as we like to think of him, is doing once he's got this upcoming solo tour out of his system - lay aside the electronic crooner side and think Shins, Beach Boys, Beulah. An album is coming next year)
  • The Broken Family Band — Cinema Vs House [live YouTube]
  • Colourmusic - Yes! [YouTube] (Alright, you can stop sending us the link now, Memphis Industries. From Oklahoma, some via North Yorkshire, they by all accounts have odd live shows and sound like mid-90s Flaming Lips drowning)
  • Copy Haho - Wrong Direction [Myspace]
  • Everything Everything - MY KZ, UR BF [YouTube]
  • Fanfarlo - The Walls Are Coming Down [YouTube]
  • Grammatics - Double Negative [live YouTube]
  • I Concur - Sobotka [YouTube]
  • Joe Gideon & The Shark - Civilisation [Myspace] (There's been a making of the video clip up for more than a month now, but no sign of the video. What gives?)
  • Johnny Foreigner - Criminals [YouTube] (And now, to prove you don't get what you don't pitch for, we have a promo of G&TBP. Thank you, press people. Sometimes you're even useful.)
  • The Kabeedies - Petits Filous [Myspace]
  • The Kiara Elles - Odio [YouTube]
  • Kill It Kid - Heaven Never Seemed So Close [YouTube]
  • Los Campesinos! - There Are Listed Buildings [Vimeo]
  • Mew - Repeaterbeater [YouTube]
  • The Phantom Band - Throwing Bones [Myspace]
  • Piano Magic - On Edge [Myspace video]
  • Revere - As The Radars Sleep [Myspace]
  • Rose Elinor Dougall - Fallen Over [Myspace]
  • Slow Club - Trophy Room [YouTube]
  • Stairs To Korea - Boy Bear It In Mind [YouTube]
  • Swanton Bombs - Doom [Myspace]
  • This City - We Move [YouTube]
  • Tubelord - Propeller [Vimeo]
  • Vampire Weekend - Horchata [Official stream/download/something] (Who knew that in 2010, which is when this will be properly released, early Cockney Rebel would be such a hipster influence?)
  • The Voluntary Butler Scheme - Trading Things In [YouTube]
  • The Wave Pictures - Strawberry Cables [YouTube]
  • Wild Beasts - All The King's Men [YouTube]
  • Wonderswan - Furrpile [Myspace]
  • Friday, October 09, 2009

    Why don't you just change your name to Sweeping The Johnny Foreigner and have done with it?

    Johnny Foreigner - IllChooseMySideAndShutUpAlright (Sky Larkin remix)

    Kind of glitchy and electro and not what you'd expect from either party, even if it's for a song that most of you shouldn't legally have heard yet. But because we're special, we have the album. It is very good. Obviously.

    Thursday, October 08, 2009

    The Music That Made... Stairs To Korea

    In a moment of impudence last week we declared on Twitter that Stairs To Korea's Boy Bear It In Mind, released on good old Brainlove last week, is our favourite debut single of the year. And do you know, it might just be that. This is the working name of Will Vaughan, part-Icelandic chronicler of the human condition via DIY electronics and good smart guitar pop. We had to ask him where it came from:

    First single bought: Dub Be Good To Me by Beats International, 7" vinyl from Woolworths in Borehamwood. I had some shrapnel left over with which to buy I'm Not Satisfied by the Fine Young Cannibals, which was in the bargain bin. Who'd have thought?

    First album bought: Boss Drum by The Shamen. I was a little too into The Shamen at that age. I learned a lot of the words.

    First gig voluntarily attended: Therapy?, Shepherds Bush Empire. Support came from Joyrider and Rub Ultra.

    The record that most made you want to get into music: Not the least obvious choice but Nevermind... yup, along with everyone else in my peer group back then.

    The three headliners at a festival you were curating: Smog, The Jesus Lizard and Cyndi Lauper, complete with a Last Waltz ending.

    A song not enough people know about but everyone should hear: Nor Weigh Me Lek Dat (Woman To Woman) by S.E Rogie. Stone cold classic. Honorable mention to To Unleash The Horses Now by Centro-Matic.

    A song you'd play to get people dancing: Which Song by Max Tundra

    The last great thing you heard: A young band from Yorkshire called Imp who played with me and Internet Forever recently. People should check them out.

    Your key non-musical influences: George Orwell, Mark Rothko, Julio Cortazar, Christopher Hitchens, Rimbaud, Come Dine With Me, Strongbow, Google Maps, Pesto.

    Your favourite new artist: It's a toss up between Internet Forever and Cage Of Consent. Both from London. Both smashing.

    Stairs To Korea - Boy Bear It In Mind: Download Sep 2009 from Stairs To Korea on Vimeo.

    Wednesday, October 07, 2009

    Summer ends

    Been ages since we did a retro chart, so here's the top 40 from 8th October 1994, because a) fifteen years ago was a very odd time for music and b) the top end demonstrates something that's quietly died off in the last few years.

    40 China Black - Searching
    Twas the summer of reggae, for one thing. Or heavily studio-processed reggae, at least. Big Mountain's pension plans never got far.

    39 All-4-One - I Swear
    The chart this week lost lost Shampoo, Suede and Saint Etienne but hung onto this former number two sappy R&B before the term was recontextualised, only really notable because everyone thinks it was by Boyz II Men.

    38 Wayne Marshall - Ooh Aah (G-Spot)
    Subtlety, always subtlety. Britain couldn't quite 'do' lover's soul yet.

    37 Bruce Dickinson - Shoot All The Clowns
    Yeah, bastards.

    36 Warren G And Nate Dogg - Regulate
    Not often, even now, that radio gets colonised by songs in which the protagonists shoot dead a group of attempted muggers before making off with some prozzies like a Death Row Records Grand Theft Auto, but maybe we were all that bit less knowledgeable then.

    35 Red Dragon With Brian And Tony Gold - Compliments On Your Kiss
    You started to sympathise with Paul Nicholas, really.

    34 Let Loose - Crazy For You
    Sold as a boy band at the time, but history reveals them as more a smoothed over soft pop-rock proposition. Which is the lesser of two evils?

    33 The Prodigy - Voodoo People

    32 The Time Frequency - Dreamscape '94

    31 REM - What's The Frequency, Kenneth?
    In 1986 CBS News anchorman Dan Rather was assaulted in a Manhattan street by a man who continually yelled at him "Kenneth, what's the frequency?" Hence the title, hence this:

    30 Heavy D And The Boyz - This Is Your Night

    29 Sophie B Hawkins - Right Beside You

    28 Body Count - Born Dead
    Paving the way for rappers to say they like rock. Admittedly the rock they like is Coldplay or, at a pinch, Nirvana.

    27 2wo Third3 - I Want The World
    You don't hear much from Tom Watkins any more, the impresario who managed Bros, East 17 and the Pet Shop Boys for a bit and was last heard of attempting to promote an entirely virtual pop star for the new millennium. That worked. These were his doings too, a vaguely PSB-ish trio plus non-performing member and cartoon mascot. And, yes, a horrible, horrible name. You can't write that on your pencil case in a hurry, you'd accidentally put the end s in.

    26 Kylie Minogue - Confide In Me
    Now, was this Indie Kylie or Sex Kylie? It was on an independent label but overtly sexual in video tone. Like Kylie videos aren't.

    25 Youssou N'Dour Featuring Neneh Cherry - 7 Seconds
    Pop pub quiz winner: the first verse is in Wolof.

    24 Radiohead - My Iron Lung
    "Creep! Radiohead! Dickhead!"

    23 The Rolling Stones - You Got Me Rocking
    There was an obsession for most of the late 80s/early 90s with making out the Stones were making music as good as anything in their heyday. Then the same people gave up and started taking the piss out of Mick instead.

    22 Kym Mazelle And Jocelyn Brown - Gimme All Your Lovin'

    21 2 Unlimited - No One
    Ray and Anita have recently reunited, proving there really are no depths low enough.

    20 Snap! Featuring Summer - Welcome To Tomorrow

    19 Reel 2 Real Featuring The Mad Stuntman - Can You Feel It?

    18 PJ And Duncan - If I Give You My Number
    Ant & Dec's new autobiography is worth a furtive flick in the shop if only because they slag off about 90% of their life's output, entire musical career inclusive. Can't think why.

    17 Jamiroquai - Space Cowboy
    Millionaire playboy makes record about how great is. World subsequently has issues with feeling his pain.

    16 Wet Wet Wet - Love Is All Around
    Previously a live favourite cover of REM's, and the video concept partly ripped off their own for Radio Song. Who does all that reflect worse on?

    15 M-Beat Featuring General Levy - Incredible
    Junglist massive. And it was supposed to be, but this was its moment in the sun, at least in a vaguely crossover sense, and it ended up inspiring Ali G catchphrases.

    14 The Cranberries - Zombie
    Tanks, bombs, bombs, guns. Funny thing, cogent political statements.

    13 CJ Lewis - Best Of My Love
    More reggae! And a cover at that. It's like that summer of ska we're supposed to have every few years suddenly reared up in the opposite direction.

    12 Boyz II Men - I'll Make Love To You

    11 Elton John - Circle Of Life
    From The Lion King, of course, and arguably, weave notwithstanding, the moment where Pinner Elton finally becomes Vegas Elton.

    10 Luther Vandross And Mariah Carey - Endless Love

    9 Michelle Gayle - Sweetness
    For the soap actress cliche, surprisingly useful as a pop-soul vocalist. No longer married to Mark Bright, or doing much at all, really. Has a best of coming out soon, apparently.

    8 Lisa Loeb And Nine Stories - Stay (I Missed You)
    Mouskori-glassed one hit wonder and imaginary band. Would be all over One Tree Hill if she emerged today.

    7 East 17 - Steam
    Subtlety hasn't been this top 40's strong point.

    6 Pato Banton - Baby Come Back
    With Ali and Robin Campbell, of course. CD collection of Bob Marley whereabouts presently unknown.

    5 Madonna - Secret

    4 Cyndi Lauper - Hey Now (Girls Just Want To Have Fun)
    Entirely pointless half speed reworking that failed to supplant the original in hen night status.

    3 Corona - The Rhythm Of The Night
    The Basshunter of their day, masterminded, splendidly, by a Francesco Bontempi.

    2 Bon Jovi - Always
    Keeping lighter salesmen in business to this day.

    1 Whigfield - Saturday Night
    So here's the rub - when was it that post-holiday hits dried out? It wasn't a passing phase either - number one this week five years ago was Eric Prydz, ten Eiffel 65, twenty Black Box. Even taking Crazy Frog into account, at this time of year Prydz was probably the last to come out of the Spanish clubs and into the charts, and even that had a heavy visual helping hand. As for Sannie Carlson, she's still not dead and she still won't do the dance.

    Tuesday, October 06, 2009

    The Music That Made... Tubelord

    Kingston Trio were a Californian triumverate who helped to launch the American folk boom in the late 50s and were a major influence on Dylan and ABBA. Oh. Hang on.

    Kingston trio Tubelord, however, make post-hardcore fun! Well, not exactly, but their math-ish, jaggedly melodic thumping noise-pop is spectacular live and will doubtless be so on debut album Our First American Friends, out 12th October on Hassle (why not preorder it?) The member that answered these didn't actually specify which one they were. It barely matters.

    First single bought: Before I became a young connoisseur of pirate radio stations illegally pumping the freshest jungle and garage through our airwaves, I was
    into buying music for kicks.
    CD - Meja - All 'bout the Money
    Having incrediblly large amounts of difficulty with arithmetics of mathematics lesson in year five of primary school, I related to Meja's problems and solved all queries by being all about the money.
    TAPE - LL Cool J (sic) Gangster's Paradise
    Perform the whole song in vocal style of Ace Ventura.
    VINYL - a split by the Phil Collins 3 and Hey Colossus. Video is them being well Brighton on a Brighton.

    First album bought: Who was the first person buy an album? Do you think at that point in time they were aware of such a vast milestone they were
    laying down into the construction of cultural industry?
    First gig voluntarily attended: The Corrs with 5 girls from my class and their mums. I remember having an argument with one of them about the Labour Party whilst on train on way to Wembley Arena.
    The record that most made you want to get into music: I'm unsure as to whether the wanting of getting into music came to fruition through musical content of a certain record or mythology surrounding the band which made me want to pursue playing...bass...guitar.
    The three headliners at a festival you were curating: Ornette Coleman, Serge Gainsbourg, Albert Camus. All three being dead this would have to be an imaginary event, where 10,000 minds gather in one spot and together internally stimulate how they would imagine each performer to be playing in front of them on stage built from bamboo of Japan, gold of Iran and the lights of Icelandic winter caught in a bag and lowered in to crowd level by millions of miniature silver zeppelins.
    A song not enough people know about but everyone should hear: Sunny Day In Saginomiya by Shuta Hasunuma. Brilliant and intelligent Japanese composer. Concept for the album OK Bamboo was to aurally portray the versatility of Bamboo. After nuclear explosions the erosion of landscape and materials are utterly destroyed. Bamboo however, with its intertwining component of wood and grass, appears contented with survival in its compounded state of strength. 'Nature' survives. (See below)
    A song you'd play to get people dancing: Any song sung by man in tweed jacket.
    The last great thing you heard: "You can't be gay and wear a wedding dress, it's just bloody ridiculous!" A friend and myself overheard the above between two women on district line returning home from Notting Hill Carnival steel drum competition in Hyde Park.
    Your key non-musical influences: Bear Gami.
    Your favourite new artist: Per Kirkeby, although an acclaimed Danish artist, I only 'found' him a few weeks ago and was completely mesmerized.

    Shuta Hasunuma - Sunny Day In Saginomiya

    Tubelord-Propeller Music Video from Nicos Livesey on Vimeo.

    Saturday, October 03, 2009

    The Weekly Sweep

  • 4 Or 5 Magicians - Nice Little Earner [YouTube]
  • Charlotte Hatherley - Alexander [YouTube]
  • Everything Everything - MY KZ, UR BF [YouTube]
  • Fanfarlo - The Walls Are Coming Down [YouTube]
  • Grammatics - Double Negative [live YouTube]
  • I Concur - Sobotka [YouTube]
  • Joe Gideon & The Shark - Civilisation [Myspace]
  • Johnny Foreigner - Criminals [YouTube]
  • The Kiara Elles - Odio [YouTube]
  • Los Campesinos! - There Are Listed Buildings [proper stream]
  • Mew - Repeaterbeater [YouTube]
  • Rose Elinor Dougall - Fallen Over [Myspace]
  • The Scaramanga Six - Misadventure [YouTube]
  • Seeland - Library [Myspace]
  • Sky Larkin - Smarts [free mp3]
  • Slow Club - Trophy Room [YouTube]
  • Stairs To Korea - Boy Bear It In Mind [YouTube]
  • Tubelord - Propeller [Vimeo]
  • The Wave Pictures - Strawberry Cables [YouTube]
  • Wild Beasts - All The King's Men [YouTube]

    By the way, look how bloody ridiculously great this month is for new album releases:

    Hefner - We Love The City (2 CD reissue)
    12 track album, the one that nearly made them proper hit makers, is swelled to 39
    Kill It Kid - Kill It Kid
    Lou Barlow - Goodnight Unknown
    Might he have been involved in two spectacular returns to form this year?
    The Mountain Goats - The Life Of The World To Come
    All the tracks are named after bible verses, but apparently John Darnielle reckons this is a personal odyssey. Then again, that's what his last three albums were too
    Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
    Why? - Eskimo Snow
    Yoni Wolf recants the hip-hop for an album recorded simultaneously with Alopecia

    The Flaming Lips – Embryonic
    Justin Timberlake won't be playing bass on any of this on telly any time soon
    The Hidden Cameras - Origin: Orphan
    Mission Of Burma - The Sound The Speed The Light
    Piano Magic - Ovations
    Gareth Parton produces; the label says it "swings wildly between Marrakesh, Eastern Europe, Sevilla and early 80s Manchester"
    Tubelord - Our First American Friends
    Pig masks, scaring Michael Azerrad (and getting slagged on Idolator as a result) and being post-hardcore's new poster boys - plenty to live up to

    Charlotte Hatherley – New Worlds
    I Concur - Able Archer
    Nat Johnson and the Figureheads - Roman Radio
    'and the' - the new 'the'. Johnson ex-Monkey Swallows The Universe, for the uninitiated
    Saint Etienne – Foxbase Beta
    Foxbase Alpha, but remixed by Richard X. Worth of this scheme mixed. Still haven't got a Foxbase Alpha sign
    Spiral Stairs - The Real Feel
    Scott Kannberg places the Preston School Of Industry into liquidation for a third solo album
    Sufjan Stevens - The BQE
    The audial end of Stevens' Brooklyn audio-visual presentation from a couple of years ago. Does this count for New York towards his 50 States plan?

    4 Or 5 Magicians - Empty, Derivative Pop Songs
    Did we mention...
    Broadcast And The Focus Group - Broadcast And The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age
    A proper Broadcast album is out next year; until then a collaborative 'mini-album' (despite being 50 minutes long) of haunted library music manque
    Johnny Foreigner - Grace And The Bigger Picture
    Sounds like this, apparently. OI, BEST BEFORE, PROMO NOW PLZ
    Luke Haines – 21st Century Man/Achtung Mutha
    The latter is a limited edition second CD. The former is "more experimental", he claims.
    Left With Pictures - Beyond Our Means
    Maybeshewill - Not For Want Of Trying +4
    Stellar post-rock post-hardcore debut album reissued with a contemporary EP attached
    Spearmint - A Week Away (Special Edition)
    Reissue with a few extra EP/B-side tracks. We might be interviewing Shirley Lee soon. Um, LOL?
  • Friday, October 02, 2009

    The new top ten

    Not actually an ordered or definitive top ten of anything as such, just ten new bands we wanted to give some blog time to.

    Saw these supporting fellow Leodensians Sky Larkin the other night, and they've got a couple more days out with the guys/girl in the days ahead before a debut single, Furrpile, out on limited 7" the 5th. Ploughing through 'alternative' Myspaces at the rate we do, you get overused to seeing 'Influences: Sonic Youth, Pavement', but Wonderswan actually do sound like Daydream Nation played in the manner of Crooked Rain Crooked Rain, a not quite shabby enough pedal-happy post-slacker ball of contained scuzz. All of which makes their election into all the Dinosaur Pile-Up influenced articles about the 'Leeds grunge revival' scene the more puzzling. Hell, as any discerning STN reader will know there's plenty more than that going on in the fine city, with just this year excellent albums from ver Larkin and Grammatics, a forthcoming fine effort from I Concur, Napoleon IIIrd's still progressive EP and...

    The Medusa Snare
    In the wake of being namechecked as The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart's favourite British band The Manhattan Love Suicides went and split in July. The band's rhythm section Adam Miller and Rachel Barker immediately formed this band, and debut album Cinderella has already come out just this week. For the most part the MLS' J&MC feedback headlong charge is locked in a cupboard in favour of a more streamlined, almost but not quite approachable sound that retains the sprinting rhythmic pace but allies it to a swirling propulsiveness. They mention The Clean as an influence, we also hear Flying Nun colleagues The Chills, the Velvets and Yo La Tengo. And a whole load of potential greatness.

    Kidnapper Bell
    That these part-American Brummies have dates coming up with Therapy? and This Town Needs Guns demonstrates the duality of their sound, something they hold dearly in common with other STN pin-ups the beloved JoFo and the late Sunset Cinema Club. On the one hand, an unstable post-hardcore charge borrowing from emo - the proper emo, the emo of Sunny Day Real Estate and Braid, on the other a sound liable to change tack sharply on intricate guitar lines a la Minus The Bear or the Kinsellites. The Way It Goes even finds room for some rhythm track beatboxing. For the STN favoured full house, Tom Woodhead's producing their next single.

    Tom from Mascot Fight - a band you'll be reminded about a lot on this blog over the next two months - reminded us of this band at the weekend, out of Derby's curiously crowded Cap'n Jazz acolyte scene (These Waves, You Animals, Beyond This Point Are Monsters). People who flee from the word 'angular' will need to tread carefully around these, as their popping guitars, lo-fi post-hardcore and jutting angles (think Tubelord or, really, half the Big Scary Monsters roster) are what that descriptive term was actually invented for. And they're tremendously young, it seems.

    The Hi-Life Companion
    Sound like: the latest Afrobeat bandwagoners. Are: a Bristol band including a couple of longstanding indiepop types. While there's a held back cleanness and almost sweetness to a lot of their approach, the harmonies and fizzy guitars suggest Felt's wrong-pop, while they're also comfortable with a porch country swoon. Aberfeldy, the Magnetic Fields and early Camera Obscura comes to mind. Oddly for a band with such an attitude they sound least comfortable in their most bubblegum moments, but time will kick that out of them.

    Detox Cute & The Beauty Junkies
    Enough of twee pop, let's talk about the duo of Paisley Play-Doh and Charlie Darling. (Oh, wait.) We've had plenty of offers down the months and years for gigs and events, sometimes even in Britain and outside London (rare, though), but these were the first band to offer us a visit to their video shoot. (We were otherwise engaged) It's been a long time, probably since Lamacq was on the Evening Session, that we've heard bedroom keyboard pop done like this. This, which they call E-Pop (like J-Pop, but very English) is their idea of pure pop, which Cowell would never understand, and with fragments in view of Helen Love, Saint Etienne and the Pet Shop Boys, not to mention the founding days of synth pop without going anywhere near La Roux misunderstanding, all dialogue samples and lovely, loving melody and melancholy. They're playing a packed night at the 100 Club on 22nd October with among others Gwenno, Theoretical Girl and...

    The Understudies
    Our good friends in Leicester promotions Twesta have put this London via Scotland outfit on twice now, so enamoured are they. Plenty of sophisticated not quite jangle going on here, from Felt's hidden depths to Postcard Records' understated pop with delusions of grandeur plus a Morrissey-esque literary diarising. Now we notice it, they're the first band we can recall to mention Jack as an influence, and while the the strings or textures have been swapped for something more direct and basic in set-up the sentiments are similar.

    Pope Joan
    Enough of wistfulness. Remember Tired Irie? They started really well then kind of gradually turned into Duran Duran and split a couple of months ago. Their early releases are what this Brighton outfit immediately remind us of, all scratchily agitated punk-funk very much in the Les Savy Fav mode with synth undertow and pop hooks. Full of danceable nervous energy and an elastic rhythm section, like how Bloc Party should have ended up, drive they could just reinstate the good name of art rock.

    Further adventures into math-rock come from these instrumentalists of rock hub Wrexham who plough the middle furrow on one side of which lies jagged No Waveries and the other Battles/Pivot arrythmic guitar/gizom trickery, all served on a bed of synth bass and post-rock structures. If this all sounds like no fun, well, you're wrong. Post-Foals, most will say as they do with their European touring partners Minnaars, but that's to take them down to the very lowest level - it's an intriguing, eardrum-burrowing mixture and one that you could well be hearing plenty about come the settling in period of 2010.

    Something grand to finish on, a London octet who extract the little man behind the Emerald City curtain from Muse's sound and ally it to a grandly theatrical string-soaked sweep, intricately arranged and if we have to say post-Arcade Fire then a post-Arcade Fire that understand epic soundscapes. Maybe a little Waterboys too, but our best go is their being like a Wilkommen Collective band teaming with Grammatics to take on a Hollywood score overture. It'll divide opinion with its sonic ambition, we reckon, but at its best it builds and overwhelms with a very un-English controlled anthemic ambition.