Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The forseeable future

Well, that's the first half of the year done. Onwards - as for the next quarter, July to September, what should we be waiting up for?

Mystery Jets - Serotonin: 5th July
Produced by industry veteran Chris Thomas, you can currently hear it for yourself on their Myspace (we'd advise you to pause the auto-starting video right at the top of the page first) Synth-pop, big soft rock and ELO English hugeness are 'promised'.

Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse - Dark Night Of The Soul: 12th July
You might already have this, it's the David Lynch collaboration that EMI held back a year ago and got released as a blank CD, Danger Mouse suggesting we track down the leak and burn that instead. It's got a load of guests on and is all over the place.

MIA - /\/\ /\ Y /\ : 12th July
Worst typograpic title ever, worst cover ever, lots of noise (Sleigh Bells produce one track), track called Teqkilla. It's a long way up from here if it's going anywhere fast.

Mitchell Museum - The Peters Port Memorial Service: 12th July
Looking to take the Scot-alt initative back from Edinburgh, the Glaswegians' self-produced debut album will surely burst with as many abstract ideas wrapped inside and around odd pop structures as their EPs did.

Tender Trap - Dansette Dansette: 12th July
In a just world newspapers would be running admiring pieces about Amelia Fletcher's 25 year near unbroken service to the cause of jangle-pop. Hey, they've got a couple of weeks yet. Although it's their third album the introduction of Elizabeth from Allo Darlin' and a stand-up drummer has aided a return to joyful C86 via girl group values.

Love Ends Disaster! - City Of Glass: 26th July
Look, we covered this ages ago

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs: 2nd August
You may know about this one. Sixteen tracks, eight changeable covers a la Pulp's Different Class, and a whole lot of expectation.

Shoes And Socks Off - Robin Hood Waiter Champion Have-Not: 9th August
Seem to be writing about this in every other post at the moment, so once more round the block for now; Tobias Hayes, a guitar and a lot of things to get off his mind. Fourth album in a fairly short space of time, issued by lovely Big Scary Monsters.

Silvery - Railway Architecture: 9th August
2008's Thunderer & Excelsior was a quiet marvel of a debut album, all whirring organ-led English psychedelia and eccentric songsmithery. No idea what this will be like. Much the same, at a guess.

Sky Larkin - Kaleide: 9th August

Recorded in Botswana and produced by former Eldorado favourite Jesse Birdsall, which seems a brave decision.


Ho-honly joking. In Seattle with John Goodmanson, of course. Verdict upon hearing a few songs live recently: much the same, only far more so.

!!! - Strange Weather, Isn't It?: 23rd August
We doubt Nic Offer and co have ever come across Ron Manager, so stop that. Some of it was recorded in Berlin, a lot of it was apparently influenced by such.

Klaxons - Surfing The Void: 23rd August
LOLcat cover, lots of space-noise-prog and the thought that Polydor having rejected their first go maybe there's something really interesting lurking in someone's vaults.

Everything Everything - Man Alive: 30th August
David Kosten, who's done loads, has had the job of trying to corral a fluid album from some very jerky, falsetto, oddly vocally arranged, synthy, bleepy songs. The Sunday Times printed that they could be the British band most likely to produce the great debut album stunner of 2010. No pressure.

Rose Elinor Dougall - Without Why: 30th August
A second release on this date by someone who put out a debut single in December 2008 and has released loads of material since without an album until now. This is on her own Scarlett Music, running a hell of a gamut from retro-futurism to power pop to orchestrated airiness. Oddly, some might say suspiciously, the all new Pipettes' second LP, Earth Versus The Pipettes, is out a week later.

Interpol - Interpol: 6th September
Grr, eponymous albums that aren't debuts. Some say it's back to the first two albums in terms of dense post-punk sound, which would be very welcome.

Blonde Redhead - Penny Sparkle: 13th September
Suspicions raised that this date in particular might be a trifle oversubscribed. Some Swedish people called Van Rivers and The Subliminal Kid, who've worked with Fever Ray, produce. The advance track Here Sometimes musically sounds like Beach House playing at being Depeche Mode. Maybe it'll make more sense in context.

Edwyn Collins - Losing Sleep: 13th September
His first album to be recorded after recovering from his double brain haemorrhage, writers and players include Johnny Marr, Roddy Frame, Alex Kapranos and Nick McCarthy, Ryan Jarman, Magic Number Romeo Stodart and assorted Drums.

Grinderman - Grinderman 2: 13th September

Well, clearly no further questions necessary. Warren Ellis says it's different from the first album and the last Bad Seeds work, to be as precise as Ellis ever gets "stoner rock meets Sly Stone via Amon Duul".

Les Savy Fav - Root For Ruin: 13th September
This'll be good. Claimed influence from Superchunk and Dischord Records, and also songs that are intended as a more effective soundtrack to Tim Harrington half-dressed as an 18th century pirate hanging off a balcony.

The Vaselines - Sex With An X: 13th September
Only their second proper album, their previous in 1989. Produced by the same person, Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee are now backed by Belle & Sebastian’s Stevie Jackson and Bob Kildea and Michael McGaughrin from the 1990s. That title seems made for them.

The Walkmen - Lisbon: 13th September
Produced by John Congleton; "Congleton's production is usually notable by a signature dark sound and a rhythm section that is very large and enveloping". Sounds about right.

David Thomas Broughton - Outbreeding: TBA
The inscrutable loop pedal loon of Otley is about to play what he advertises as 'my last gig... for a while', without he or new label Static Caravan having yet issued a street date (AFAIK) for the album he's been selling at shows for a while.

Panda Bear - Tomboy: TBA
Tricky to tell with Noah Lennox. Person Pitch was a glorious cut, paste and loop patchwork, Young Prayer a mantra-like simple lamentation. Dance beats have been talked about now. Reputedly you've never seen anything like the charge away from the tent at Primavera where he debuted some of this.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Needing a certain song

Presenting a new feature for the next four weeks of the medium that is in no way cheap, populist filler designed to hitch a ride on the occasional playlist absurdities of Pick Of The Pops on Radio 2 (played both 1985 FA Cup final songs the other week, it did). We'll be looking at the dark, and seemingly now dead, art of the holiday hit single, the sort of thing that the cliched Spanish holidaymakers listening intently to music in bars bring back with them to chart, just one of the great chart traditions (firework-like chart runs by old-type indie bands, single deletion, the idea that singles chart placings are a reliable judge of how big an artist is) brought to an end by download culture. This first one may stretch the elasticity of the concept as far as it'll go, given it's from the 29th October 1977, but as far as unlikely Euro-pop goes it's a cracker.

40 Barry White - It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me
The young Barrence Carter was involved in the South Central LA gang wars in his teens, losing his elder brother to rivals and being jailed for four months for stealing 300 Cadillac tyres. Bearing in mind he must have had the voice and some of the bulk by then it's a shame he missed out on The Wire.

39 Rose Royce - Do Your Dance
Make your love, get yourself down tonight.

38 The Commodores - Brick House
The British public being what they are, it's Easy, Three Times A Lady and Nightshift that Britain shamefully knows of Lionel Richie's band and not hard funk workouts such as this.

37 Peter Mac Junior/Godiego - The Water Margin
Japanese import BBC2 favourite of the time, up there with Til The Boat Comes In and The Onedin Line - there's a theme here - as themes that were hits from shows that failed to pass into the long term collective conscious.

36 The Bee Gees - How Deep Is Your Love
Wandering past neon video superceded by that of the Take That version, and more precisely an excitable Caitlin 'that bloke's a nutter' Moran detailing it to Collins and Maconie - "And at the end she throws Gary into a great big pit, and he dies!"

35 Space - Magic Fly
French, helmet wearing French electro-disco, perhaps the last set of circumstances you'd expect to be replicated by another successful act. Funny the things pop throws up.

34 Tina Charles - Love Bug
Please bear in mind throughout that had we had just two tracks down this bottom end sell a little less, we'd have had a top 40 including the Barron Knights' Live In Trouble, and then you'd never have heard the end of it.

33 Meri Wilson - Telephone Man
Not Mari Wilson, of Just What I Always Wanted semi-fame, but a semi-novelty one hit wonder of whom there is nothing to say.

32 Pratt And McClain - Happy Days
Theme from, in fact. B-side: Cruisin' With the Fonz.

31 Deep Purple - New Live And Rare EP
A live version of Black Night and two unreleased tracks from old albums. Wonder what this sold for.

30 George Benson - The Greatest Love Of All
Visual image of Kevin Rowland at Reading may have stained this song forever.

29 Santana - She's Not There
Memory stirred for very little reason recently of The Magnets, a kind of post-Flying Pickets/King's Singers vocal harmony troupe who would have been all over Seaside Special and 3-2-1 had both shows not been long axed by the time they formed and had this as their calling card.

28 Leo Sayer - Thunder In My Heart
Irony would later eat itself, shortly before throwing up all over Celebrity Big Brother.

27 Mary Mason - Angel Of The Morning/Any Way You Want Me
The main song's second of three (four if you count Shaggy's Angel) UK chart appearances, and apparently there's a version on Thunderbugs' unreleased album. Ah, Thunderbugs. Whenever the subject of overhyped flops comes up everyone immediately reaches for Terris and Joe Lean etc, but the pop world's flops are far more interesting, whether it be 21st Century Girls, Girl Thing, Frank, Upside Down or the bands - Thunderbugs, Hepburn, Next Of Kin and someone else we can't remember - in the celebrated (if you're us) CD:UK feature about "a new type of band who play their own instruments".

26 Dorothy Moore - I Believe You
Thousands didn't.

25 David Bowie - Heroes
Given its stature, and that of its creator, somewhat surprising to learn it only peaked at 24. Bowie always said that it was inspired by seeing two young lovers kissing by the Berlin Wall, visible from the studio, but Tony Visconti admitted many years later that it was the then-married him and a backing singer. Reverberations from Kasabian's cover for ITV's 2006 World Cup coverage are still being felt.

24 Giorgio - From Here To Eternity
Moroder invents the disco mix. A decade later, he co-invented a supercar.

23 Patsy Gallant - From New York To LA

22 Yvonne Elliman - I Can't Get You Out Of My Mind
More transient disco, this one by the originator of If I Can't Have You.

21 Nazareth - Hot Tracks EP
Not disco. Once subject to a bemusing Jeff Stelling running gag one Soccer Saturday.

20 Roxy Music - Virginia Plain
As close as pop ever came to recreating the sound of a guitar solo attacking a cow.

19 Elvis Presley - Way Down
On its, erm, way down from being the posthumous number one, as it was the current single - ah, pre-download and cynicism days, how good you feel in retrospect - though it only made number 18 in America. The bass vocal is gospel legend J.D. Sumner, and the Guinness Book reckons it's the lowest recorded note ever produced by the human voice.

18 Yes - Wonderous Stories
Vindaloo for one!

17 Smokie - Needles And Pins
Originally a hit for the Searchers, written by Sonny Bono and Jack Nitzsche. Smokie covering it just feels beneath it.

16 Donna Summer - I Remember Yesterday
The theory being it combined today, that is to say Summer's disco, with the big band sound, the same titled album ending with a track to represent 'the future', I Feel Love. Performed on TOTP in a white suit with dickie bow and matching topper.

15 Tom Robinson Band - 2-4-6-8 Motorway
Now uncrowned scion of new music, Ashes To Ashes touchstone and man of six decades as of a couple of weeks ago, this was he and they's first single. Some sources suggest a gay undertow, but it's an oblique one.

14 The Emotions - Best Of My Love

13 Queen - We Are The Champions
Redolent of play-off finals to this day.

12 The Stranglers - No More Heroes
Do you ever suspect that there was a late rewrite of the opening couplet, given the lack of even half-rhyme between 'Trotsky' and 'burn'?

11 The Carpenters - Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft
The Recognised Anthem of World Contact Day! There was no actual tie-in event, and it was a cover of Canadian prog band Klaatu anyway. Probably part of a Karen conspiracy theory now.

10 Meco - Star Wars Theme
This is that disco version you hear quite often now. Obviously it's no Star Wars Holiday Special. Or Bill Murray.

9 Danny Mirror - I Remember Elvis Presley
Well, you would, he'd only died 74 days earlier and this had already been in the charts for seven weeks.

8 The Sex Pistols - Holidays In The Sun
The last single from Never Mind The Bollocks and indeed their last proper single. Not banned by the BBC, but the point had been made by then.

7 Ram Jam - Black Betty
Bloke on the left - what's his story?

6 Status Quo - Rockin' All Over The World
Written by John Fogerty, reversioned for Sport Aid, subject of much Live 8 silliness. Also: see We Are The Champions.

5 ABBA - The Name Of The Game
Inspired by Stevie Wonder, apparently. Oh, to see Benny behind a clavinet. A deleted scene from the Mamma Mia film, as all of the rest of them should have been.

4 David Soul - Silver Lady
Now a British citizen, and doing some sort of poetry reading at Latitude Festival this year. He took a curious attitude to his early career image.

3 Rod Stewart - You're In My Heart
"You're Celtic, United, but baby I've decided you're the best team I've ever seen". He likes football, y'know.

2 La Belle Epoque - Black Is Black
A poor man's Labelle.

1 Baccara - Yes Sir I Can Boogie
See, here we go! Mayte Mateos and María Mendiola by name, one in black, one in white, playing some sort of flamenco disco (there's something for Hurts to aspire to on the second album), with askew accent to go. They represented Luxembourg at Eurovision a year later and by ten years later were both touring as Baccara, as they still do. Kind of Bucks Fizz before their time without the blokes, skirts, bus crash, more than two hits etc.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Not much to go with this week, unless you share our baffled love for the 100 Essential... series which expands this week. 100 Essential Pop starts with Westlife and Kelly Clarkson, and by CD4 it's onto Halo James and Modern Talking. What we can point you in the direction of is The Rise & Fall, the latest in the series of Madness album remasters, reissues and expansions. Their idea of a concept album, about their collective youths in north London, they took influence from Sgt Pepper and The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society. Oddly for such a parochial album, it featured the track that made them one hit wonders in America, Our House. The extra disc here is all 12" mixes, B-sides and Tomorrow's (Just Another Day) with Elvis Costello on vocals.

The Serpentine Sessions in Hyde Park are a fine attempt to put independently promoted bands in a luxurious location over three nights. One can only imagine what Grizzly Bear could do on Monday given the surroundings, with Efterklang main support. Patti Smith pops in on Tuesday, while Thursday has Laura Marling backed up by Fanfarlo, Peggy Sue, Smoke Fairies and Alessi's Ark.

We may keep up to date with the latest churn of musical hipsterism, but we have our favourites. Illness are Smalltown America's latest hopes, an instrumental duo from Brighton who claim major influence from Pavement, which you can see if you take their Perfume V-like everything at once moments as foreground, Hella and Shield Your Eyes (who they're about to tour with) They also say they're essentially a pop hooks kinda band, which, as with all bands who go on about their pop hooks, is some other pop to the type everyone else knows. Abrasive without being full frontally sonic terrorist about it, tappy Don Caballero math-rock sifted until only the bare bones are left.

With Glastonbury having fired the starting gun on festival season 2010 this is the first big weekend, especially with Europe getting some of its bigger events in early - Roskilde, Hove, Rock Werchter (where Faithless are headlining over Muse) and Eurockeennes (Saturday headliner: The Hives). Can we manage with so many bands over for European fun? Not really. Wireless (Friday-Sunday, Hyde Park) is exclusively put on for T4's benefit and thus can be comfortably ignored. Hop Farm (Friday-Saturday, Tonbridge), basically Vince Power's big old two fingers at Festival Republic, has Bob Dylan on Saturday, his first UK festival since Suede refused to go on before him at Phoenix Festival 1995. Wonder if he remembers it. Ray of sweetness and light Van Morrison on Friday, with a fine undercard including Peter Green And Friends. Hopefully nobody will go to it eagerly only to be disappointed by the lack of Pocketbooks and the Parallelograms. Cornbury (weekend, Cornbury Park, Charlbury, Oxon) may never get over the fact David Cameron was spotted there a couple of years ago. Ten years ago's David Gray headlines.

Wakestock (Friday-Sunday, Pwllheli Inner Marina and Abersoch Beach), an event next to a large wakeboarding event, is always something you feel slightly unclean about by association of people you like playing it to what you can't with much honesty imagine is a receptive audience. Ting Tings, Eric Prydz and Maximo Park seem to be your headliners even though loads of proper chart and radio big shots are on the bill. Los Campesinos!, presumbly with an overworked drum machine, are on before Band Of Skulls, who you've never heard of, and after an RAF Falcons parachute display. The sea is a good place to think of the 'chuter. Also amusing: Blood Red Shoes on between Plan B and Hurts. Also an odd occasion, Coventry's Godiva Festival, whose range and potential reach seems to be so scattershot it's bemusing. It's free, for starters, although you still have to register before they'll let you into Memorial Park. And their local unsigned band competition finalists were more than half made up of bands from Birmingham. Friday night is 80s night, with the Christians and their one original member, Martin Fry (but not the rest of them), Kid Creole and the Coconuts - they headlined Camp Bestival last year! - and Hazel O'Connor. Saturday's Rock Day is headlined by Ash and that notorious decibel risker Badly Drawn Boy, and if anyone can explain why the Primitives, who lest we forget are a Coventry band, are playing before Senser and Detroit Social Club we'd be glad to hear from you. Beat Herder - "the most heart-on-sleeve northern festival we’ve been to" said Drowned In Sound, which could be read any number of ways - takes over Gisburn, Lancashire from Friday to Sunday. The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican are on. Blissfields (Friday-Sunday, Alresford, Hampshire) is the sort of small and ultimately likeable event you know would book Chris T-T, Imperial Leisure and half a dozen Sound Systems. As indeed they have.

  • From the file marked 'well, of course they would': Noble from British Sea Power, Eamon and Marc of Brakes, Matt Eaton and Darren from The Tenderfoot have collaborated on a World Cup record based on a calypso tribute to the opening of Maurice Bishop International Airport in Grenada. It's called Football (Kick It In The Goal).
  • Saturday, June 26, 2010

    Playlist additions 26/6/10

  • Cold Seeds - King [stream via No Modest Bear]
    A lo-fi collaborative record between Kenny 'King Creosote' Anderson, Neil and Pete off Meursault and handling most of the vocal duties the so far little regarded but that won't last long Frances Donnelly AKA Animal Magic Tricks, who also hauntingly covers Meursault's Crank Resolutions. Buy the album, why don't you.

  • Coltrane Motion - Only Again [YouTube]
    Album blogged about here. Just realised we didn't mention the surface similarly between a lot of this and MGMT's Congratulations.

  • Maximum Balloon - Tiger [Myspace] [Spotify]
    David Sitek goes disco! A nasty, bass-y, block party kind of alt-disco which proves the gap between them (this) and us (Kele). Also the music off that Daisy Lowe video. YOU KNOW WHICH ONE.

  • Moscow Youth Cult - Girls Of Boredom [Myspace] [YouTube live]
    Album blogged about here, which looks suspiciously familiar

  • Pet Milk - Cherry Outline [mp3 via Skatterbrain]
    This week's star retro fuzzbomb indiepop comes from some Philadelphians whose six-track demo you can download for free from Bandcamp. More than a little hint towards The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, granted, but also the kind of lo-fi compressed stretch we've seen half-heartedly grasped at too often to know that they do it just right. Now, if only unlike other bands in this sphere they can make a go of it in a studio at a fuller length.

  • Shoes And Socks Off - Psychological Tinnitus [YouTube]
    Tracks from Tobias Hayes' fourth album are being made into various video forms and posted to Big Scary Monsters' YouTube presence weekly. Sounds intriguing so far, as SASO's home-made acoustic intimately rumbustuous works tend to.

  • Spencer McGarry Season - Great Enemies [Myspace] [Vimeo]
    From what sounds like a tremendously idiosyncratic second album, styled as a big baroque musical production. It sounds like Field Music and late period XTC and Sparks and everything else in the world, perhaps.

  • Stop Eject - I Am A Social Network [Myspace] [YouTube]
    They're close to fellow Nottingham dwellers Love Ends Disaster! (they're playing together at Spanky Van Dykes on 6th August), which figures as there's something similar going on here - clearly it's just brooding post-punk, but it feels like something else, something more fulfilling than a stopover on the journey to White Lies valhalla is going on

  • This Many Boyfriends - I Should Be A Communist [Myspace] [YouTube (live)]
    Just as we were writing this we discovered their drummer has left, which is the sort of reverse midas touch only our support can usually bring about on a young band. Anyway, file under jangly. Debut EP out July 5th.

  • The Vaselines - I Hate The 80s [YouTube] [Soundcloud]
    They, by which we mean Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee plus two Belle & Sebastians and one of the 1990s, are releasing a second proper album, Sex With An X, on September 13th. Oh, only the same day as new albums by Interpol, Les Savy Fav, Grinderman, The Walkmen and Edwyn Collins, then. Anyway, it sounds like they never left off, except somehow more so.
  • Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    No more need for dreaming

    As last week's was relatively successful, by which we mean it didn't kill anyone, here's another World Cup-related old chart, logically centring on Three Lions. It's not worth doing 1996 as we've covered a chart featuring the original already, so here's 4th July 1998's movers/shakers:

    40 The Corrs - Dreams
    Both simple and difficult to imagine how big the sisters and brother briefly were before moving off into ignored solo albums, theatre work and conspiracy theorising. Course, nothing cooler twelve years on than covering Fleetwood Mac.

    39 Eric Clapton - Circus
    One solo career never, ever set for hipster appropriation.

    38 Public Announcement - Body Bumpin' (Yippie-Yi-Yo)
    A poor man's 3T.

    37 Savage Garden - Truly Madly Deeply
    Commercial radio support meant this will sapping balladry stayed on the chart for what seemed like forever, this being its final week, although they had it worse in America, where it remains the only one-sided single ever to spend a full year in the top 30 of the Billboard Hot 100. Darren Hayes now spends his time being a post-modern pop star, so much so he never has any huge hits.

    36 Bamboo - The Strutt
    There's a Will Mellor single at 47.

    35 All Saints - Under The Bridge/Lady Marmalade
    Bastardised ("city of cities" indeed) upbeat cover of downbeat song featuring post-Longpigs pre-Pulp Richard Hawley on session guitar, backed by unsexy version of sexy song. Although by no means the least sexy cover to be released, eh, "X"tina?

    34 Steps - Last Thing On My Mind
    Their second single, which is already notable given they were supposed to be a one single affair to cash in on the brief but devastating line dancing craze. From here: Thank ABBA For The Music, Steps To The Stars, that palms-out-by-side-of-head move, Pete Waterman as a DJ in the Tragedy video, the "raunchy relaunch" (the girls wore leather outfits in a video), splitting on Boxing Day, H & Claire reportedly being signed for £4m.

    33 Tina Arena - Whistle Down The Wind
    Because pop law states a new Australian MOR singer must come around every few years.

    32 DJ Rap - Bad Girl
    Overambitious 'British Madonna' notices were made around the sometime drum'n'bass DJ (and glamour model) turned accidental Sonique inventor. And then she went straight back to the decks and to running labels.

    31 Metallica - Fuel
    Quite difficult to take them seriously in this mood and at this time, isn't it?

    30 The Tamperer feat. Maya - Feel It
    The one with "what's she gonna do with a chimney on her?", lifted from Urban Discharge's Wanna Drop A House (On That Bitch) and later covered by Mulligan & O'Hare.

    29 Janet Jackson - Go Deep

    28 Mariah Carey - My All

    27 LCD - Zorba's Dance
    Greek techno by an allegedly all-computerised group, of the type every label and svengali failed to get off the ground despite much effort in 1999-2000.

    26 Wimbledon Choral Society - Pavane By Faure
    The BBC theme for the occasion, presaging a month's worth of Des' verandah, Jimmy Hill's England bow tie, Ally McCoist with blonde hair and of course...

    This was really the first big year for football songs, seeing Del Amitri via Scotland's self-defeating Don't Come Home Too Soon at 53, a recording of the England Supporters' Band's The Great Escape - picked up at the crucial qualifier in Rome the previous November, which as Bob Mills pointed out you don't need to play all the way through a game because logically you're not escaping from anything - at 60, and at 54 Rise Up by Jamaica United, the inevitable collaborative reggae effort including Ziggy Marley, Buju Banton, Diana King, Shaggy, Maxi Priest, Ini Kamoze and Toots Hibbert.

    25 Bus Stop Featuring Carl Douglas - Kung Fu Fighting
    All Around The World Records is the biggest label you've never heard of, responsible for four number ones and 30 top ten singles in the last fifteen years, almost all in the chancer dance category. Including N-Dubz.

    24 Dana International - Diva
    Not especially hilarious transvestite winner of Eurovision, possibly not set for a long and fulfilling career and last really seen the following year pretending to collapse under the weight of the Eurovision trophy before promptly actually doing so.

    23 Hanson - Thinking Of You
    One of them's a girl, you know. Nowadays they peddle AM radio arena blues-rock and Taylor's in a side project with ex-Smashing Pumpkin James Iha and Fountains Of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger. Funny the things that happen to pop kids.

    22 Blue Pearl - Naked In The Rain '98
    House classic, and essentially Youth and 808 State's Graham Massey in disguise. That's in its original form. Why it needed a reboot is uncertain.

    21 Space - Begin Again
    The overchirpy Scousers whose label just decided not to release their next album's penultimate charting single, and if you recall Bad Days then you're better than us.

    20 Leann Rimes - How Do I Live
    Alongside Shania Twain that decade's attempts to pop-popularise country in the UK, last seen with Taylor Swift.

    19 Lutricia McNeal - Stranded
    The American Shola Ama.

    18 Aaron Carter - Surfin' USA
    The Mark Wahlberg of the late 90s, only without the successful career change.

    17 The Mavericks - Dance The Night Away
    More country, heavily supported by Radio 2 and TOTP2 and fronted by one Raul Malo, who Phill Jupitus used to claim he was often confused with.

    16 Ultra - Say It Once
    Instrument playing boy band who proved why boy bands had to die, until JLS revived them.

    15 Fatboy Slim - The Rockafeller Skank
    Lord Finesse bootleg plus Northern Soul rarity Sliced Tomatoes by the Just Brothers and a bit of Beat Girl by John Barry means... well, means Norman gets no royalties at all from its backing music ubiquity, let alone PRS from when Frank Black covers it.

    14 Des'ree - Life
    But what if the toaster was somehow haunted?

    13 Lighthouse Family - Lost In Space
    The Power Of Love-style activity around the title Lost In Space was remarkable, three charting singles with that title within three months. And suspicious, given the film version of the TV series also came out around this time.

    12 Dario G - Carnaval De Paris
    Named after Dario Gradi - that's not a joke, they were from Crewe - this is the one that adds a keyboard/MIDI's worth of electronic instruments to the same tune as that you'll find at number two.

    11 Brandy And Monica - The Boy Is Mine
    Two teen prodigy R&B singers, both still going, produce a song there's really not much of wryness to impart about.

    10 911 - How Do You Want Me To Love You?
    Lee Brennan was on Soccer AM as a Carlisle fan last season. One way of getting back towards the limelight, we suppose.

    9 Karen Ramirez - Looking For Love
    One hit late 90s dance-pop, and what it sounds like you can probably guess.

    8 Five - Got The Feelin'
    Undisputed most hilarious reunion of all time holders - they held a major press conference, recorded an album with Guy Chambers, won an MTV series, then failed to get a deal and split again eight months later. According to one fansite, dated 10th June, "Fiona spotted Abz at a "Band of Horses" gig."

    7 Mousse T Vs Hot 'N' Juicy - Horny
    Instant punchline material and subject of one of the best Mark & Lard pastiches

    6 Eagle-Eye Cherry - Save Tonight
    Former Big World Cafe host, sister of Neneh and peddler of drivetime smoothness that, while no New Radicals, we quite liked at the time.

    5 Beastie Boys - Intergalactic
    Video spot: at the end of the line "when it comes to envy y'all is green" the green screen behind them returns very briefly to normal.

    4 Pras Michel Featuring ODB And Mya - Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)

    3 B*Witched - C'est La Vie
    Irish dancing, denim, accented aphorisms and penny whistle soloing. Simpler days.

    2 Fat Les - Vindaloo
    After he'd reached career bottom with The Big Big Talent Show Jonathan Ross kind of retreated from front line showbiz for a few years, content for a while with a Sunday morning Virgin Radio show in the days when Evans ran the station. Actually it was great, far more freewheeling then anything he subsequently did on the Beeb, and one week Rowland Rivron popped in with a Keith Allen-fronted World Cup song he'd drummed on and that they were going to record the video that afternoon with a load of Max Wall impersonators. We thought it was a convoluted joke. Well, knowing nothing else and with Rivron's reputation you would, wouldn't you. It's loosely based on what was known in football circles as the Utrecht song, after the Dutch club the rhythm had been picked up from, and which Allen first heard played by drummers at a Fulham game. Latter day Pink Floyd bassist Guy Pratt is on it and a thirteen year old Lily is both on backing vocals and in the video (we reckon 0:57-0:59 in the light blue top). A seventeen year old Lily is definitely in their 2002 flop Who Invented Fish And Chips? (the uploader's added her presence to the title and description since we first mentioned this on Twitter, we note), presumably the source of the deal her dad got her with London Records that she wheedled her way out of before recording anything and musically took a couple of years getting over.

    1 Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds - Three Lions '98
    "We can dance Nobby's dance, we can dance it in France!" Quick, what was the official England song in 1998? No? England United, it was, the then current iteration of Echo and the Bunnymen with him from Space, him from Ocean Colour Scene and the Spice Girls on backing vocals. As he is wont to do about most music Ian McCulloch reckoned it was better than everything else because it had "soul". Nobody agreed, least of all those who only sent it to number nine, and some sort of campaign pressed Frank and David to rewrite the lyrics to, we dunno, gee up the nation. Skinner now says they should never have done this. He says that, but he was still perfectly happy with allowing Horn, Brand and Williams to re-record it. Broudie doesn't tend to dwell on the song these days but on special occasions, like two weeks ago at Wychwood Festival...

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    We shall remember him. You know we will. We really will.

    RIP Chris Sievey.

    Short music for the longest day

    Formerly Edinburgh based Fuzzystar is friends with our old, currently in semi-hiatus, favourite Kat Flint and follows a not dissimilar path of very clean and clear yet not quite straightforward indie-folk - those who downloaded the couple of My First Tooth mp3s we've had up on the site in the past will be across what's going on, or fans of It Hugs Back or the Candle Thieves; others, on a grander scale, have mentioned Sufjan, Lou Barlow, Elliott Smith and the Lemonheads. This is from their self-released debut EP Late Night Radio.

    Fuzzystar - Even At My Worst

    If you're of much rougher stock, Alright The Captain (“heat fuzzed out surf to twisted funk to stylised angular heaviness. Something for everyone who likes having their cerebral cortexes turned inside out while they wait!” - Sweeping The Nation) have put their 123.EP up for free Bandcamp download.

    Sunday, June 20, 2010


    Pulled Apart By Horses' self-titled debut, full of fire and reckless abandon, bludgeoning faux-dumb post-grunge riffola and full commitment, as essayed in their bloodletting live shows, taking it down a Jesus Lizard/Refused route. Backstory of track called I've Got Guestlist To Rory O'Hara's Suicide (he being Grammatics' bassist) unknown, and we doubt we want to know.

    Not a lot going on as festival season pulls out of neutral gear, but Elvis Costello is around for a solo tour, basically a chance to show off his impressive lung power, delve into the thickest of back catalogues and finally determine that he's not as good with the words as he used to be. It starts tonight at Royal Festival Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall on Monday, Oxford New Theatre Wednesday, Cardiff St Davids Hall Thursday, then next week his current Nashville bluegrass veterans band the Sugarcanes join him in Liverpool, Gateshead, Dublin and Glasgow.

    Cop On The Edge are from New Cross, as if it were 2004, not that they have much in comparison with that awkward scene. Would it make sense to say they resemble XTC without actually being XTC revivalists? They know their staccato post-punk but can shape it into infectious pop with a cracked edge, nodding to Devo and The Chap in their reconstructions of new wave pop from the ground up.

    Glastonbury, obviously. The only serious, non-parochial competition is Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park, for those who mourn the original Virgin 1215. It's not entirely possessing, with Pearl Jam headlining the Friday and Stevie Wonder popping over for Saturday. Paul McCartney goes through the now-the-girls-now-the-boys-oh-yeah-I-like-it routine headlining the Sunday over CS&N, Crowded House and Elvis Costello, who said four years ago that he never wanted to play a UK festival again. The place to be, however, is always going to be the Bella Union sponsored Bandstand, which on Saturday hosts Summer Camp, Lone Wolf, Mountain Man, My Sad Captains and, remarkably given alternate entertainment centres on Jamiroquai and Melissa Etheridge, Zun Zun Egui. Sunday has Beach House de facto headlining.

    Saturday, June 19, 2010

    Playlist additions 19/6/10

  • Bear Driver - Wolves [Myspace] [YouTube (live)]
    British bands always do different things with cool American influences, so while you can tell this Leeds set have been listening hard to Broken Social Scene, Neutral Milk Hotel and Wolf Parade but they bring their own exuberance, call and response shout-outs and stickability

  • Dirty Projectors - Stillness Is The Move [Myspace] [YouTube] [Spotify]
    Being re-released next month for some reason. Hey, who are we to question? We do query, having heard Amber Coffman's guest vocal with Rusko, whether that vocalising style works so well outside the Longstreth matrix of avant-tropicalia, because against his beats it just sounds like a minor Carey

  • Everything Everything — Schoolin' [Myspace] [YouTube]
    Didn't get into this as immediately as their first three singles, but this first take from their August-due album proved nagging away, more falsetto art-pop stomp with R&B rhythms and cryptic lyrics the video animation tries its best to keep up with. Not going to be as big as some reckon, but that was evident from the kickoff

  • Fanfarlo - Fire Escape [YouTube] [Spotify]
    If they keep releasing singles every few months maybe one of them will take off. Here's hoping

  • Islet - Iris [Spotify]
    And, at one mini-album track's remove, the video to We Shall Visit, also from Celebrate This Place and colloquially known as "the one they do at the end of the set where they're all drumming". They're all over the net, these

  • Pulled Apart By Horses - Back To The Fuck Yeah [Myspace] [YouTube] [Spotify]
    As Refused fanboys, they'll appreciate that is surely that actual shape of punk to come. Playing End Of The Road Festival in September. What?

  • Screaming Maldini - Secret Sounds [Myspace] [YouTube]
    Another late video for a single release, although we duly praised the mini-album it's plucked from at the time - stop/start, all over the place pace-wise, guitar pop as Mobius strip

  • Shuttleworth feat. Mark E Smith - England's Heartbeat [YouTube]
    Being lauded as the alternative classic World Cup song for this year, although actually not even Mark E's most direct song about football. Somewhat bouncy, though, and Smith's put aside that worryingly gurgly voice he's adopted of late and is back spitting non-sequiturs against the rhythm. Stoke fans don't like it, especially not the really confused one

  • Spring Offensive - Abacus Rex [Spotify]
    The EP this is on first came out in March, but it's being reissued (physical copies bound by rope) and we've only just got hold of the record by this intriguing Oxfordshire band. It's not a greatly inventive or individual album but it's something insidious, tense and dramatic in scope a la a less dizzy Youthmovies, intriguing in its storytelling - this song is loosely about Alan Turing

  • The Strange Death Of Liberal England - Flagships [Myspace] [YouTube]
    More post-coital and less post-rock. More Fanfarlo and Talking Heads, at any rate. Maybe more Arcade Fire, but everyone gets that these days. September is ETA for what the description calls "the long awaited debut album", which will be a shock to anyone with Forward March

  • Thomas Tantrum - The Last Kiss [Myspace] [Soundcloud] [YouTube (live)]
    Back! Megan Thomas much less yelpy than before and sounding quite at home amid sliced to the bone Long Blondes-when-they-weren't-down-the-disco nu-new wave

  • Tokyo Police Club - Bambi [Myspace] [YouTube]
    New album Champ doesn't quite keep up with its own razor melody new wave ambitions apart from short stretches, most of all the insistent coming once and again of the melody with more pronounced electronics that prove more welcoming than most of their attempts at decoration

  • We Are The World - Foot Follows Foot [Spotify]
    Lady Gaga's a fan, apparently, of LA's dystopian synth-beat collective, taking on The Knife, as many have noted, but also something of the clanking raggedness of MIA productions plus metallic background and fully Dreijer-ed computer-affected vocal

  • Wild Beasts - Hooting And Howling [Myspace] [YouTube] [Spotify]
    See Dirty Projectors. Apart from the bit about Amber Coffman and Rusko, because we'd kill to hear Hayden Thorpe on an electro record, especially if he gets to do the lyrics too

  • The Wind Up Birds - Tyre Fire [Vimeo] [Spotify]
    When we wrote about them before we mentioned the Fall and Animals That Swim. Who else can we mention? Well, this makes us think of Eddie Argos' kitchen sink pathos melded to now defunct art-noise Bristolian eccentrics The Playwrights; mostly it makes us think of some unstable men from Leeds
  • Thursday, June 17, 2010

    Join our Cult

    Given their debut album's still not properly released until 26th July - a state which hasn't stopped them starting to record its follow-up this week - we don't need to write about Love Ends Disaster! again quite yet just as much as you don't want to read us trying to think of a new way of describing them. Luckily for us all there is a side project. One with very different ambitions of its own, too - Moscow Youth Cult is LED! guitar wrangler Jon Dix plus Dan from Leicester's currently dormant psych-pop youths Actionforce. 8-bit is their domain, second hand keyboards and woozy noisemakers allied to psychedelic layered beats and nods to Mute Records-issue electro and shoegazing's manicured noise combining to give the impression of Boards Of Canada out-takes, Fuck Buttons demos (less eager to fill every single space) and mooted last tracks on Chemical Brothers albums all copied off a dusty Betamax tape. Or as they put it, "loosely themed around fuzzy old VHS tapes of strange 70s sci-fi films, and badly acted 80s horror films which you occasionally find yourself watching at 4am, all alone and confused". They play Leicester Phoenix Square for free on the 26th. The album is merely being passed around like secret documents of THE FUTURE at the moment while they work out who to approach for a deal; in the meantime four of its tracks are here.

    Moscow Youth Cult - happiness machines by MYC

    While we're talking beats plus guitars, Chicago duo Coltrane Motion are a band we've praised on here before, taken as we were by their 2007 album Songs About Music and its "noisy retro-futurist psychedelic synths being deliberately overheated by the ghost of shoegazing". They describe new record Hello Ambition! as "somewhere between Yo La Tengo and LCD Soundsystem". The former we can definitely see, their guitars being set to stun over broken college rock. Their beats, though, are foggy and heavy, decorating songs that range from baroque Sixties suggestions to fuzzy dreampop without the necessarily low fidelity, covered where required in organ, distortion and drone like Stereolab attempting to play Nuggets garage psychedelia. Still no news of any UK activity - hope they're not waiting for us to utilise any influence - but they have a handful of Illinois gigs coming up and a slot at Pop Montreal at the end of September. Stream and/or buy from Bandcamp; get direct from the band's own datawaslost label.

    Coltrane Motion - Please Call It A Comeback

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    Electronic performers

    As much as they've impinged themseles upon the rising Edinburgh scene and earned critical kudos, even if most of it is still north of the border, Meursault seem to be a band who work entirely within their own head space. Their dark angst and "big music" divisions of grandeur may have a modern Scottish lineage, whether Glasvegas, Frightened Rabbit or Broken Records to name obvious contenders, but few could hope to marry it anything like as successfully to both laptop electronica and Fence Collective folk (although sometimes it sounds more like a field recording) frameworks. Their new second album, All Creatures Will Make Merry (order direct from Song By Toad), was recorded in their label boss' front room, and if the fidelity sometimes wavers the commitment underneath doesn't, making it more Microphones/Mountain Goats atmosphere capturing than some Brooklynite adding cassette hiss to their ProTools. It's heartaching and defiant, bleak and optimistic, welcoming the world and weary of the way it drags you down. Neil Pennycook's grazing, howling into the void voice sound ready to take the world on single handed on the acoustic songs, driving towards it when the dirty machine tooled beats kick in - Pennycook apparently labelled it "epic lo-fi". It sounds warm, but it's prepared to be harsh.

    Meursault tour the UK in October, and before then play Glastonbury's BBC Introducing stage, End Of The Road and Truck. Oi! Truck! Now we're committed elsewhere that weekend, will you stop suddenly adding loads and loads of fantastic bands? As well as Meursault there's, to take a cross-section, Los Campesinos!, Future Of The Left, Mew, Teenage Fanclub, Islet, Blood Red Shoes, Summer Camp, Thomas Truax, Dog Is Dead, even, we understand, Ace Bushy Striptease. You're seriously taking the piss in our absentia.

    Meursault - Crank Resolutions

    Pagan Wanderer Lu isn't as yet playing any festivals this summer - in fact he played in London with Stairs To Korea last night, sorry, didn't realise in time - but he does have a full band together. What Andy Regan and occasional friends are promoting is European Monsoon (order direct from Brainlove), his fifth album in all but third of wider note. "How can I banish negative thoughts when everything's so unbearably awful?" asks the first track, which about sets the tone. Well, not quite, it's less directly angry then Fight My Battles For Me and is genuinely optimistic and loving at times, but the overall air of wry pessimism is hard to shift. It's also more electronic than his previous full-lengths, less bedroom recorded and with greater sonic depth while still sounding made up of knackered analogue keyboards, second hand grooveboxes and things that make odd noises round the edges, often with a proper pop (ie no sort of pop people buy) undercurrent. Regan's quest to force scattershot ambition into its own vaguely accessible shape of warped electronic song trickery continues on a fine course.

    Pagan Wanderer Lu - Banish Negative Thoughts by brainlove

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    It is a very good year

    Introducing, to be updated throughout 2010, our playlist of the best stuff that's come out this year and is on Spotify. Why not subscribe?

    We'd like to be sent stuff too - our handle is sweepingthenation, through which you might like to inform us of anything we've generally missed.

    Sunday, June 13, 2010

    Weekender - the augmented return

    This is a little cagey for a relaunch for this section as we didn't end up with much time to write it in. We mean every word, though, and we'll try and keep it up for every Sunday.

    Pagan Wanderer Lu's album European Monsoon, which we'll write about at greater length in the week. Otherwise you really have to seek out Islet's no wave motorik noise and confusion on mini-album Celebrate This Place, which we reviewed for The Line Of Best Fit. Look around and you can find three tracks for streaming or download.

    Another album we've just covered for TLOBF with much recommendation is Allo Darlin's self titled effort, glorious summery indiepop for the Go-Betweens/Magnetic Fields/Jens Lekman in your soul. Their album launch is on Tuesday at London Lexington, supported by the equally wonderful Standard Fare (The Noyelle Beat is another must-listen in the same sphere) and The Middle Ones, a lo-fi folk collective sometimes involving Mat Riviere.

    Son Capson - the maniacal vision of one Liam Percy George of Aberystwyth, the sort of community that seems so far from anywhere else you can imagine this sort of thing growing in splendid isolation that bit easier - belongs in that ever welcome category, the bloody odd. Acid rock sea shanties? 8 bit garage rock Swordfishtrombones? Bonzo Dog anti-folk? What we can settle on is hyperactive chanted ridiculousness hurtling downhill fast with a glint in its eye and a self-assurance that this is perfectly reasonable behaviour. Somehow at one point we managed to set one track playing three times not quite simultaneously and didn't immediately notice. At Swn last year he/they supported Marina And The Diamonds. How the hell did that work?

    Macmillan Cancer Support take over Brick Lane on Thursday for a £20 multi-venue alldayer including Allo Darlin', Kill It Kid, Tubelord, Three Trapped Tigers, DJ Format, Erland and the Carnival, Midfield General, Tim and Sam's etc, Clock Opera and Little Comets. Leicester becomes the centre of the folk land Friday-Sunday with Big Session at De Montfort Hall (same as Summer Sundae); headliners are the Proclaimers, Kate Rusby and Oysterband, with appearances also by Stornoway, Chumbawamba, Cara Dillon, Miles Hunt & Erica Nockalls and Dreadzone. Winterwell (Friday-Sunday) essentially runs on a need to know basis, at a secret location in Gloucestershire with a tiny number of tickets and a Roald Dahl fancy dress theme. Music comes from DJ Yoda, the Crookes, We Have Band, Lulu & the Lampshades and Norman Jay. Or there's Southside near Munich (Friday-Sunday), with the Strokes, Vampire Weekend, LCD Soundsystem, the Prodigy, Stone Temple Pilots and Massive Attack at the top end and The Specials, The XX, the Hold Steady and Local Natives lurking in the small print.

    -In the same way as Chinese Democracy became such a cause celebre partly because we knew its title so far in advance - people aren't on constant whisper and notion tenterhooks about the Avalanches' second album, after all - we've been maybe a little hasty in making a couple of jokes in the past about Rose Elinor Dougall's Without Why, first reported to be ready for late spring 2009. After all, picking out a name, Everything Everything have more of an alternative radio profile and yet they have four singles out while still topping up their studio time. Regardless, Dougall's folk timbre and psych musical heart are now ready for wider consultation - August 30th is the release date, through Scarlett Records, which we believe is at least partly her own venture. To commemorate she's put out three tracks - not album tracks per se, but two in different versions and one that didn't make the cut. And she's already playing brand new songs live. Sod the album, the career box set is going to be something.

    -Brought to you by the same person as A New Band A Day, Bad Cover Versions seems self-explanatory enough.

    Corden off

    Time to pass off another lot of Wikipedia searching as original research in the name of an old chart, and as the World Cup is underway we might as well prove that not so long ago we had proper football songs. This is what was going on this week in 1990:

    40 Diana Brown And Barrie K Sharpe - The Masterplan
    Barrie K Sharpe! There's a pop name. Their Wiki - yes, they do - claims they were founding father and mother of acid jazz offshoot 'groundbeat', a term we expect Hipster Runoff to reallocate within weeks.

    39 Dusty Springfield - Reputation
    Mary O'Brien's last top 40 single, from her Pet Shop Boys-supported phase, although they didn't touch this track and almost half of the corresponding album was overseen by Dan 'Instant Replay' Hartman.

    38 Maureen - Thinking Of You
    Maureen! There's a pop name. Maureen Walsh, in fact, and unless it's the same one who now presents on BBC Radio Merseyside, which we very much doubt, the net has nothing about her. Very much post-Soul II Soul, though.

    37 NWA - Express Yourself
    "I don't smoke weed or assess cos it's known to give a brother brain damage" rapped Dr Dre, later to release The Chronic (cover based on rolling paper design) and 2001 (marijuana leaf design on cover)

    36 Maxi Priest - Close To You

    35 Beats International - Won't Talk About It
    A song Norman Cook had recorded under his own name with old Housemartins-era mate Billy Bragg, perhaps halted at the time by the style Bragg chose to sing it in, re-recorded with dependable Lindy Layton. Still lost a shitload of money for Norm that he didn't recover until Levi's happened by four years later.

    34 Gary Moore - Still Got The Blues (For You)

    33 Paula Abdul With The Wild Pair - Opposites Attract
    More commonly referred to as Abdul and MC Skat Kat, of course. Despite the longstanding rumour that this was MC Hammer it was the titular guest vocal duo, whose actual liking a smoke capacity remains unstated.

    32 Guru Josh - Whose Law (Is It Anyway)
    Criminal justice - no justice!

    31 49ers - Girl To Girl

    30 Sam Brown - Kissing Gate

    29 New Kids On The Block - Cover Girl
    Not quoted on Tonight.

    28 Pop Will Eat Itself - Touched By The Hand Of Cicciolina
    Ah, now. As you'd expect there was plenty of football action lower down the list, including forgotten official songs - Scotland's Say It With Pride at 45, the Republic Of Ireland's Put 'Em Under Pressure at 94 - and a Pogues/Dubliners effort called Jack's Heroes at 64. But in 1990 we knew the value of a proper unofficial song, especially one from reformed grebos demanding the celebrated porn MP present the World Cup trophy, with postcard addressed to FIFA included to press their case.

    27 Madonna - Vogue
    Bananarama had done vogueing as the centrepiece of a video nearly two years earlier and the world didn't go mad then.

    26 Michael Bolton - How Can We Be Lovers
    The 41-100 portion of this chart is a fascinating slice of 1990 pop, containing as it does Northside, Frazier Chorus (and anyone who saw Martin Freeman's Who Do You Think You Are? will have been tickled to see their singer and his brother Tim's dream kitchen), the Darling Buds, Railway Children and World Party. And ...And That's Before Me Tea by Mr Food, whatever the hell that is. And at 53 one of our favourite ever single versions, the Karl Denver mix of Happy Mondays' Lazyitis, in which Shaun Ryder and the yodeller of yore appear to be singing to different tunes. Denver, just to put a tin lid on it, contracted pneumonia while making the video under a rain machine.

    25 The B-52s - Roam

    24 Jane Child - Don't Wanna Fall In Love
    Sole hit from Canadian dance-pop singer with gothed up look and habit of connecting nose ring to earring via chain. That'd be classed as fetish wear now.

    23 Black Box - Everybody Everybody
    Martha Wash on vocals. No idea who 'sang' them on TOTP.

    22 Bobby Brown - The Free Style Mega-Mix
    The last days of the megamix were upon us.

    21 Luciano Pavarotti - Nessun Dorma
    A new entry this week, which is why we've chosen this week, and quickly up to number two. For full effect see this clip of the introduction to England v Colombia, the anticipatory atmosphere somewhat spoilt by Des spectacularly messing up his intro - in fact he says in his autobiography that he thought he'd be sacked for it, only to find out nobody back in Britain had commented on it.

    20 D-Shake - Yaaah/Techno Trance

    19 The Chimes - I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
    Bono's supposed to be quite particular about covers of his songs, and especially dance covers - the Pet Shop Boys doing Where The Streets Have No Name was essentially a pisstake - but the given quote here is "at last someone's come along to sing it properly". Someone should have.

    18 MC Tunes Vs 808 State - The Only Rhyme That Bites
    Techno unit du jour and Mancunian scenester sample the theme from The Big Country for frantic moment of minor greatness. Later 808 State remix of UB40's One In Ten a real tester for those who compile themed song title lists.

    17 Was (Not Was) - Papa Was A Rollin' Stone
    Don and David only had four UK top 40 singles and three were tainted by the feel of novelty (this, Walk The Dinosaur and the Kim Basinger starring Shake Your Head), not exactly a fair return for the funk-disco beat poetry one-offs.

    16 Talk Talk - It's My Life
    The main criticism most had of the No Doubt cover was that it was a carbon copy. No it wasn't. Mark Hollis didn't slather this in instantly dated synth, for one thing. He's not female, for another.

    15 Kylie Minogue - Better The Devil You Know
    Approaching the end of Kylie's first imperial phase, a number two but only the weak cover of Give Me Just A Little More Time would do that for her while on PWL's books. More importantly it was while under the influence of Hutchence and thus the start of SexKylie. From here, a short but careful step to Bobby Gillespie and that video inspired by Barbarella.

    14 En Vogue - Hold On
    Still exist in their original line-up. See, can be done.

    13 Snap! - Oops Up
    Turbo B and everyone else take a very loose interpretation of the Gap Band's dancefloor rowing motion favourite.

    12 Erasure - Star
    Mute signatories, meaning a perennial, slightly annoying for such presence - they'd always get played - on the Chart Show Indie Chart.

    11 The Adventures Of Stevie V - Dirty Cash
    The 'band''s Wiki entry features one paragraph on them and seven on Dizzee Rascal. Despite the Bobby McGee's' surprise cameo in Dizzee's video we'd still take Stevie Vincent's original, mind.

    10 Wilson Phillips - Hold On
    Brian Wilson's daughters and that of John and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas prove the old maxim about the not always beneficial filtering down of talent through a generation. "The trio performed at the 79th General Meeting of the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors in San Antonio, TX on May 5, 2010."

    9 The Charlatans - The Only One I Know
    Currently flogging chocolate, which makes you wonder how broke Tim Burgess is.

    8 Don Pablo's Animals - Venus
    Glorious one-hit wonder for the ages from Holland's own Shocking Blue given 1990 requisite house beats and James Brown Payback samples - yes, including that one - and loses the vocal. No purposing whatsoever.

    7 Betty Boo - Doin' The Do
    Ah, now we're getting somewhere. You'd be surprised how many people think Betty Boo is the title as well. Having been a Yazz to the Beatmasters to this point, it transpired the path to femme-rap notability ran with bobs and hotpants. Ahead: inspiring the Spice Girls' creation, marriage to Echo and the Bunnymen's manager, the better than its flop status and indeed very idea suggests WigWam project with Alex James and currently writing gigs for just about every British pop act of note.

    6 Roxette - It Must Have Been Love
    A song set on "a hard winter's day" is a hit in June. It's no Joyride.

    5 Elton John - Sacrifice/Healing Hands
    Elt's first proper solo number one, and a re-release at that. Between this and his next fresh release he got over his drug, alcohol and eating problems and had his new hair fitted.

    4 Adamski - Killer
    You can pretty much only get this now credited to Seal. Never mind that McCartney/Lennon business, this is what they should have been looking at.

    3 Chad Jackson - Hear The Drummer (Get Wicked)
    Let's groove on, cos it's time to move on. British DJ with mountain of samples, as per, and we recall this being used on a montage of the following summer's Ashes series, one of our three favourite BBC Sport montage musical selections ever along with the Sven-Goran Eriksson farewell set during the last World Cup to Broadcast's Come On Let's Go (like this one, never turned up on YouTube) and the 1991 Formula One review to Television's See No Evil (which did, but WMG had it muted)

    2 New Kids On The Block - Step By Step
    NKOTB's biggest selling single worldwide, featuring one of pop's standout "ooh baby"s.

    1 Englandneworder - World In Motion

    Apparently John Barnes did a couple of other things in his career too. For fullness, "The Squad: Peter Beardsley, John Barnes, Paul Gascoigne, Steve McMahon, Chris Waddle, Des Walker." According to all concerned, what they basically did, with a little prodding from former football song supremo Craig Johnston, is turn up with a couple of crates of finest ale, shout "express yourself!" and have a go at the bit that required a rap. Peter Beardsley rapping. Can you imagine? The B-side was, as these things occasionally are, called The B-Side and featured Keith Allen impersonating Barnes ("Apologies to the real footballer, David Bloomfield of the FA.") What nobody points out, as it's credited as a sample, is Kenneth Wolstenholme re-recorded his famous commentary for the intro and not only did it with all the wrong emphasis but got the words wrong - "some of the crowd are on the pitch" indeed. Shoot! magazine went to the recording of FAC293, when it was still called E For England, and because they didn't know better with the past history of such songs labelled it the worst football song ever.

    Saturday, June 12, 2010

    Playlist additions 12/6/10

  • Ace Bushy Striptease - It's A Race [Myspace] [YouTube (live)]
    They occasionally sound like the Deirdres taken over by Sebadoh, elsewhere as if Bearsuit were playing at one of those Pavement covers nights. They call themselves 'cuddlecore' and the online music press love them except, as far as we can tell, that based in their native Birmingham. Their new album, the first to be given a proper release (through Odd Box Records), is called A Little More Suspicion In Our Fairytales Plz and were it not for some pissing about at the end would be 22 minutes long. Attaboy/girl!

  • The Acorn - Restoration [Myspace] [YouTube] [Spotify]

  • Allo Darlin' - Dreaming [Myspace] [YouTube] [Spotify]
    A single quite a little time ago now, we know, but we never properly wrote about it at the time and now we have the opportunity. So... it's really, really great

  • The Declining Winter - Official World Cup Theme 2010 [YouTube]
    Has about as much to do with the World Cup at heart as Colourbox's Official World Cup Theme - even the sampled commentary is from a non-World Cup game, being of John Barnes' famous goal in the Maracana - but the Hood side project do good things marrying the influence of striped sunset sound of the Go-Betweens, Lucksmiths etc to pre-Ibiza New Order

  • Elephants - Strong Arms [Myspace] [YouTube]
    Another winner from Alcopop! Records, and another touched by the decayed comforting hand of Grimshaw, Folkestone's own have the cheek to smuggle a proper radio-friendly chorus into math-ish stop-start verses

  • Fair Ohs - Eden Rock [Soundcloud]
    Beachfront Afropop takes a hit of purest adrenaline and refuses to sit still. The whole "eh eh!" bit towards the end is as close as they've got to essence of Koenig, the rest vibrates like sonic boom

  • Holy Fuck - Silva & Grimes [Myspace] [YouTube] [Spotify]
    Another standout from a fascinating album, traversing from Eno to Neu! in the blink of an eye

  • Johnny Flynn - Lost And Found [YouTube (live)] [Spotify]
    Been Listening rewards repeated listening as the reflections of Flynn's listening over the last year and a half or so becomes more nuanced. That said this is fairly close to A Larum, a fingerpicked travel through life

  • Johnny Foreigner - With Who, Who And What I've Got [mp3 via official site]
    A kind of black sheep of the JoFo catalogue in that it's something they knocked off with a South African producer while there for a few gigs earlier in the year and apparently bears little continuity with what they're currently writing.

  • The Loves - Bubblegum [YouTube]
    The amazing self-classifying single. Another simple but effective winner from the Fortuna Pop! stable, the longstanding Cardiff cult collective are calling it a day after their autumnal fourth album. What happened, knowing retro get too easy for them?

  • Meursault - Crank Resolutions [Myspace] [YouTube (live)] [Spotify] [mp3 via Another Form Of Relief]
    We'll write more about their new album next week

  • Mumford & Sons - Roll Away Your Stone [Myspace] [YouTube] [Spotify]
    Now what? We liked it when it was originally released in late 2008, and we're not going to stop liking its rustic, rousing charm because you vaguely heard the album, saw the audience gigs, noted the fashion effect and said so.

  • Pagan Wanderer Lu - European Monsoon [Myspace]
    See Meursault.

  • Projectionists - I Never Wanted Anything [Myspace]
    As pointed to on Lucky Soul's Twitter - so what do you think a Pipettes/Earlies/Alfie/Liam Frost's Slowdown Family supergroup would sound like? Classy, and classic, and of course slightly retro, pop. Of course.

  • Rolo Tomassi - Sakia [YouTube] [Spotify]
    What makes Cosmology so fascinating ahead of its implausible math-prog shapeshifting reputation. The time signature changes all over the place, Eva does her Sheffield Exorcist thing to excelsis... then it turns into tinglingly ambient cooing for a bit before the power chords return as if there was nothing wrong with such stylistic hurdling. And they look like they should be a Field Mice-behoven indiepop outfit from Stockholm.

  • Standard Fare - Philadelphia [Myspace] [YouTube] [Spotify]
    From one of the year's very best albums, and we do mean that, Mr Hipster Oh I Only Listen To Complicated Brooklynites, a queruously voiced admission of temporary loss and yearning and a video that proves special effects aren't what they used to be now everyone can afford them.

  • Tigercats – Konny Huck [Myspace] [Soundcloud] [Vimeo] [mp3 via Another Form Of Relief]
    Accidentally topical Pete Shelley-voiced awkward old school Television Personalities-ish indie featuring (former?) members of Esiotrot. That's it, now go away.

  • The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - A Biting Wind Followed By An Occasional Drift Of Snow (Was No Way To Cure A Hangover) [Soundcloud]
    To think they once sounded like Pixies. Now they sound like Liars rubbing up against sheet metal until it leaves an imprint. This is a taster while they get on with writing and recording their third album.
  • Tuesday, June 08, 2010

    Foot loose

    Shoes And Socks Off is Tobias Hayes, once of post-hardcore lordships Meet Me In St Louis, but for some years now trading as an intimate lo-fi singer-songwriter. His first three recordings are being issued as a box set called 'Don't Blame Yourself, It's In Your Blood', available only from gigs or made to order from the Big Scary Monsters shop and with a load of bonus content including videos, demos, covers and anything else he found lying about.

    Shoes And Socks Off - Protect Your PC

    Album four is called Robin Hood Waiter Champion Have-Not and is out on 9th August. Every week up to then a video for each track is being released, such as this one.

    Saturday, June 05, 2010

    Playlist additions 5/6

    Long time readers - because let's face it, there's very unlikely to be any brand new readers of STN - will recall that the very anchors, pivots some say, of the blog came at weekends with a double header of new music excavation. Then we dropped them to freshen the whole approach up, and it soon enough turned unread and went un-updated for weeks at a time. So they're being brought back. It's a challenge to you as much as to us.

    On Sundays was Weekender, a guide to new bands, new songs, new releases and general newness - that will be back from next week with a wholly refreshed look. On Saturdays, though, came The Weekly Sweep, twenty songs we were in admiration for at the time. The problem with that a lot of the time though was some of the selection never changed, so it'd get clogged up with the same old links. Playlist Additions, as the name suggests, is different, and not just because there were 200 Weekly Sweeps posted and that seems a good number to retire the tag on. No song will, unless something interesting/major occurs, be written about twice, which means we can equally highlight different album tracks and bring a broader sweep (sic) of new songs to the reader's attention.

    Because it's been so hectic with new posts recently there's a lot of new music we're not totally up to speed with, so a full suggestion of what to look for will be unveiled over the next couple of weeks. These twenty (old habits die hard, but it won't be twenty every week) will more than do for now, though:

  • Allo Darlin' - Let's Go Swimming [Myspace]
    It's looking like a banner year for indiepop, and ukelele-touting Aussie Elizabeth Morris and co have put one out of the ballpark with their self-titled debut, out on the 14th. Singles aside, the centrepiece is this yearningly subdued, beautifully imagery-laden ode, with slide guitar, to hanging around Swedish lakes.

  • The Chap - Nevertheless, The Chap
    The single from their fourth album of "Dadaist pop", more beatific and Balearic than the last couple but still from some other place entirely, is We Work In Bars, which is on their Myspace. Our favourite off Well Done Europe is this, unspooling tight wound grooves with a set of disconnected self-referential aphorisms and the least party-like "let's party!" maybe in recorded history.

  • Chapel Club — Five Trees [Myspace] [YouTube] [Spotify]
    Their live set brings whole new dimensions to hit and miss, drifting from heights to stages past even White Lies and towards The Departure. However as far as first-album-Editors-with-Isn't Anything-by-the-stereo goes this is pretty promising.

  • Club 8 - Western Hospitality [Myspace] [YouTube] [Spotify]
    Everyone, and we include Daniel O'Donnell in this, is doing Afrobeat these days. What Club 8, one of the many bands of Swedish scene scion Johan Angergård, assign it to is the swirling retro-modern organ and still small voice not of calm of a Camera Obscura (whose producer Jari Haapalainen is behind the desk here)

  • Dog Is Dead - Glockenspiel Song [Myspace] [Soundcloud]
    Amazing. It's got a children's choir *and* a sax solo on, and yet it still sounds great in a Mystery Jets-do-Hot Club de Paris with huge harmonies way. They're from Nottingham and this debut single is out on Monday.

  • Field Music - Let's Write A Book [Myspace] [YouTube] [Spotify]
    Wherein the brothers Brewis put aside their usual studied poise and make like a Mackem digi-Prince, to some degree, plus a vibraphone solo.

  • Holy Fuck - Latin America [Myspace] [YouTube] [Spotify]
    Still no vocals, still plenty of idea what they're doing even if it just sounds like a bunch of electronic sounds. The build is quite something, the electronics pulse like rarely, the drumbeat at the start is borrowed from LCD Soundsystem.

  • Islet - Jasmine [YouTube (live)] [Soundcloud]
    Yes, there is. Talking of instrumental terrors, also dual-drumkitted also-celebrated for their live set also-quartet not-also-Cardiffians Islet's Celebrate This Place EP, out a week on Monday, has been rarely off our mp3 player. A primally motorik No Wave statement of purposefully awry intent, it's music to weave through a crowd smashing a small tambourine to.

  • Johnny Flynn - Kentucky Pill [Myspace] [YouTube] [Spotify]
    Maybe it's connected to the recent success of his longtime running mates Mumford and Marling, but voice and lyrics aside (which are quite important as far as a song goes, we appreciate) there's something less rustically English about this first taster from Been Listening, out on Monday, than A Larum (a title drawn from Shakespeare, but one that's only just been pointed out in our presence is also an anagram of 'Laura M') Still warmly very much his own man, though.

  • Karen Elson - The Ghost Who Walks [Myspace] [YouTube (live)] [Spotify]
    You don't really need to be told who brought this project into being, do you? Even looking at the band's attire in that live clip would give you a hefty clue. Sonically, it's a Nashvillian cousin to She & Him, vocal timbre inclusive. You'd never guess she's from Oldham, let's just say that.

  • Male Bonding - Crooked Scene [YouTube]
    More fuzz-Buzzcockian than the Dalston noise-pop scene they emerged from, Nothing Hurts certainly doesn't give you time to get weary of their melody under glass approach. This one nods to the Minutemen and sounds nasty under the rim.

  • Mitchell Museum - Warning Bells [Myspace] [YouTube]
    Go and download it.

  • Roky Erickson & Okkervil River - Goodbye Sweet Dreams [YouTube] [Spotify]
    In the case study of Erickson you hate to use words like 'cracked', but his first album in fourteen years is rutted, occasionally distorted and purposefully noisy country rock of excellence and no little emotion.

  • Rolo Tomassi - Party Wounds [Myspace] [YouTube] [Spotify]
    We've talked before about this, but it's always worth revisiting the cover of the February 2009 edition of Rock Sound publicising the Shred Yr Face II tour, given that Rolo Tomassi were third on the bill. Yet strangely the designers weren't overly keen on giving priority to the frontmen of Fucked Up or The Bronx. Cosomology, while still very much of the baffling post-screamo genre, is a very difficult beast to pin down, virtually turning into sci-fi prog (and giving Eva Spence's secondary cooing vocal style a fair airing) while never actually being The Mars Volta.

  • Rose Elinor Dougall - Find Me Out [Myspace] [YouTube] [Spotify]
    Been out for a few weeks but the video to the Cocteaus-meets-Bernard Hermann-meets-narrator urgently in need of assertiveness course has just appeared, which is why it's in here. Cuts off just as the expansive coda really gets going, though.

  • The School - Shoulder [Myspace] [YouTube (live)]
    From someone leaving girl group sounds behind to eight people taking them on with gusto. Could have picked most of Loveless Unbeliever in truth, but this one gets the nod as a) it was a proper lightbulb moment when we found out the title, b) judging by the size of the home town crowd in the live clip they need a quick leg up and c) it swoons like nobody's business.

  • Stairs To Korea - Paul, Is This How You Wanted It? [Myspace] [Vimeo] [Soundcloud]
    Third single from pedal-friendly beardy iconoclast Will Vaughan is the most pop he's been, which obviously is pop by few other counts, especially against such desperate lyrical reassurance/critique. Apparently Frank Skinner has played his work.

  • Steve Mason - Lost and Found [Myspace] [YouTube] [Spotify]
    Contains welcoming hints of all of his previous projects - the warped acoustic-led songcraft of the Beta Band, King Biscuit Time's languid beats, Black Affair's rhythmic vocal mantras. At least he's in apparent good health and definite good form now anyway.

  • Tender Trap - Girls With Guns [Myspace] [YouTube]
    Elizabeth Morris' second appearance, as a newly hired hand as Amelia Fletcher's previous attempts at broadening the Talulah Gosh-Heavenly-Marine Research lineage end up back where she started, that is to say indiepop girl group joy, only far more so. Also: stand up drumming.

  • The Wave Pictures - Sweetheart [Myspace] [YouTube] [Spotify]
    This month's Wave Pictures release is an EP version of their European album, along the acoustic lines of If You Leave It Alone rather than another opportunity for Dave Tatte
    rsall (whose solo album we're still awaiting) to go off on a postmodern soloing frenzy.