Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Crushed by the wheels of industry

Obviously, hope he recovers, but how precisely did Troubled Ex-East 17 Singer Brian Harvey fall out of his car while reversing, assuming it wasn't a suicide attempt as it sounds too detailed a plan to be one? Clearly seatbelt use didn't play a part but he wasn't driving a DeLorean, so he couldn't lean on where he thought the window opener would be. Mind you he is small, so he could have gone out the window.

Dealing days

Gorillaz action figures! How did it take them so long? More to the point, how did the rip-off angle take so long to formulate?

Spice reformation party latest

Oh, still not 'confirmed'. Luckily other bands have - bear in mind these are free after all, presumably so long as all the acts wear white wristbands. The Killers look set to be the millennial Thompson Twins with Keith Urban filling the Hooters' role - and hang on, the Kaiser Chiefs in Philly? Even getting in on the act are Placebo in Paris, which is understandable, and Tim McGraw at Circus Maximus (surely where Muse should be playing), which isn't.

Meanwhile the BBC, almost as if they knew, have already announced their plans. Bad luck, Richard Skinner.

Mercy paradise

STONE ROSES REFORM! STONE ROSES REFORM! What's actually happened is Mani and Reni have revealed they're mates. You know, like they were when they contributed to Rose The Lesser Aziz Ibrahim's 2000 solo album together. Nice of the rhythm section to join in, anyway - now, any further on getting Brown and Squire to so much as affect to remember what each other's names were? No? Thought not.

By the way, with every other maker of a half-classic album suddenly reforming, shouldn't there be rumours of a Verve reunion by now?

Late result: Band Aid 20 Live 8

So now we're all aware BBC2's going to be cleared for a day, or possibly a couple of hours after 7.30pm, let's try and get our heads around the purpose of Live 8. Firstly, it's not a fundraiser, which means David Hepworth can sleep easier, but to "raise awareness of Make Poverty History". Erm, cheers. Everyone knows what Make Poverty History is now. We're all aware of the special weeks, the Martin/Yorke axis' previous efforts, Blair's gladhanding of the African situation last week, that advert which suggests every time you click your fingers a child dies like a macabre version of Peter Pan or something. Either you're preaching to the converted or raising money to support the cause, and I'm sorry, St Bob, but everyone's going to call it Live Aid II nevertheless if that's the case. Also, what logic is there in an event in London with offshoots around the world to coincide with an event in Scotland? If this turns out to be Dominic Mohan's idea again I'll despair.

Plus it appears to have become for the moment nothing more than a handy hook on which to hang the latest Spice Girls Reunite stories. Never mind Madonna, Sir Paul, the Stones and U2, everyone, a disposable pop band you probably grew sick of in 1997 might be playing!

UPDATE: No, it's not like Live Aid at all, it's just the logo is also based on a guitar shape. Geldof has stressed that Live 8 is about awareness and "political justice" rather than money - er, cheers, then - but the proceeds from the ticket competition text line will go to charity. There's 10,000 tickets at £1.50 a text, and oddly £15,000 is about the amount they'll be going for on eBay by the last week in June. Geldof also suggests this is the first stage of a campaign that may lead to a march on the G8 summit the following week by up to a million people, which the head of the local police has said is impractical for all concerned and potentially dangerous. So well done on that score.

Of course the Spice reunion is mentioned about five paragraphs into the BBC News report!

Monday, May 30, 2005


Is there anything on the whole of BBC radio more deceptive than Counterpoint? It's half an hour of Ned Sherrin reeling through questions about Delius, Rimsky-Korsakov and mid-ranking musicals, then every so often there's a question about a massively famous current pop act and none of the Brain Of Britain-esque contestants has a clue, so people like me think you'll be able to piss it if you entered.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The state they are in

Really, how are you meant to understand the title without seeing the cover art?

You know, I kind of miss the old Belle And Sebastian. There was a period, possibly around their Brit win or Legal Man's chart success, plausibly when Isobel Campbell became more interested in the Gentle Waves, when they changed from underground heroes to just another independent label overachiever. It was fun for a while, though, owning If You're Feeling Sinister and wondering whether the bloke doing the ironing in that publicity photo was really Stevie Jackson. This compilation, which debuted in this week's album chart, compiles their Jeepster EPs, which in itself reeks of Peel-sized aspirations, when bands were allowed to release tracks just as singles without a Special Edition of their last album with that one extra track and a cardboard box around the CD being rushed out within a fortnight.

What does come across is how they have always been far more than the fey Felt fanciers of legend, variously invoking Love, the Velvets, northern soul, psychedelic film soundtracks and Lee Hazlewood yet maintaining a house sound they took from the base materials of others yet still made their own. I've said it before and I'll say it again - why can't we have a band who people are genuinely interested in (I remain unconvinced despite supposed physical evidence that The Glitterati really exist) and have an impact outside the fanzine set but don't care about needing to be top 30 by the third single any more?

Single File: w/c 29/5/05

If we just ignore it it'll go away.

So let's start at number two, where Coldplay reside for the second time, although whether it's more embarrassing now than it was when they debuted behind Darius is questionable. You have to feel that's nearly that for their chances of a chart topping single - assuming there's nothing else on X&Y as anthemic, they'll be doing well if they're in this pre-eminent position come the single before the next album. Seriously, whatever you think of Chris Martin and his startled eyes, it isn't actually funny if you think about what it means for us all, is it? Something even more surprising at 4, which is that Amerie's One Thing, a record so perky and gold plated in summer hitness that even the British weather changed for it at the sales-crucial end of the week, still failed to outsell not just the big two but also Akon. (Actually, here's something for our small number of commenters that's come from elsewhere - we know why guitar bands' sales tend to spike on Mondays, so how come R&B and rap records tend to sell more later in the week, irrespective of Saturday TV promotion?)

Gwen Stefani picking up the marching band baton from Destiny's Child gets her to 8 and Audio Bullys' hijacking of Nancy Sinatra's Bang Bang is at 9 - come on, bootleggers, mix it with BA Robertson's Bang Bang, we dare you. The Magic Numbers' own post-Thrills take on East Coast harmonies is picking up speed well, first proper single Forever Lost making number 15, the sort of success you don't actually see of hyped debut singles that often. Pointless goth point-missers My Chemical Romance are at 20. For god knows what reason, especially as the OST's been out for a couple of weeks, a bit of the Star Wars theme - John Williams, LSO, you know the drill - enters at 25, one ahead of Arcade Fire, which itself is 25 places short of where it will end up in my singles of the year list. The video seems to have been taken offline, but if you've not seen it do track it down as it's a work of magnificence to complement the song.

Nine Black Alps are at 31, British Sea Power failed to tempt the Chelsea Flower Show denizens to send their latest single any further than 34 and Sons And Daughters make a surprise entry at 40, but the real hilarity comes around these - Brian McFadden, whose idea of a clean break from Westlife is a load of string-laden ballads, at 28 is excellent enough, but even that's rivalled by The Bravery at 43, the sort of place bands with their self-made profile just don't enter, and sandpaper faced Daniel Bedingfield at 41. If the Jamster HQ is burnt down tomorrow we have a suspect.

Reeling in the years

Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter, once of the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan, is now a leading counterterrorism expert. All resultant jokes or legitimate points about the move from herbal-flavoured psychedelic jazz-rock (and he played on Joni Mitchell's The Hissing Of Summer Lawns too, it says here) to neocon association, surely wither on reading this, with its drawing in lieu of a photo of this well-known man, the idea he "peppers his speech with casual profanity", the revelation of his anti-illness preparations and, um, oil-eating bacteria.

Lost your love of life? Cut down on apple pie

Strange the things the mind throws up in moments of life pause - I'd forgotten about David Gedge being interrogated by an 'anti-ageing expert' - a little late in his case, possibly - in 2002. He's the third one down, said quack's apparent suggestion being to give up music.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Lauren Laverne: a case study

2000: Aforementioned then solo career embarking Laverne speculates on possibility of cheap'n'cheerful TV career, and summises "I would fucking kill myself".

May 29th 2005: Lauren Laverne co-presents CD:UK.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The third coming

Bad enough the idea that The Killers might already be the last Pyramid Stage headliners for two years at Glastonbury, but Michael Eavis seems to have had a change of heart only insomuch as he thinks he can reform the Stone Roses, just because Noel Gallagher said they might one day. Well, he's got two months to personally set up ACAS-style talks between Brown and Squire, minus rehearsal time - and is it really wise after all that for the Roses to be headlining the Sunday main stage at a British festival again after the last time? (People seemed to like it at the time, mind.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Gorillaz in the midst

A couple of years ago there was quite a bit of excited industry talk about the possibilities in interactive videos being the next technological step forward. All this actually amounted to in the end was a Hell Is For Heroes video that incorporated a red button option to view, um, a live photo gallery. Even then the signal in the video to show the option was now available didn't work for most of the time.

Now, with seemingly no hype, it seems Gorillaz' Feel Good Inc has suddenly decided to go all interactive on us viewers. Coming across the video last night, it seems it's been augmented with a big strip at the bottom of the screen promising 'interaction'. What this amounts to is: 'band' biographies - this is Gorillaz, remember - an interview and, almost excitingly, a band commentary. Even people who really like the concept aren't keen on the concept extensions which are just excuses forAlbarn and Hewlett to put on stupid voices, so whoever's bright idea that was is thinking along the right lines but in the wrong context. Still, nice of Parlophone to think of us.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

So don't yell... Help! Help! Here comes...

Phil Spector!

Official - music not worth bothering with any more*

Forty. Thousand. Copies.

(* Obviously this will continue, but you get the sentiment)

Tabloid showbiz journalism in action

GirlS Aloud apparently play to an audience of blown-up London Punks postcards

Ah, the cultural divide

Goldie Lookin' Chain are releasing their album in America! To bafflement, obviously, although when the Pitchfork reviewer wonders whether they've got it, I'd suggest they've got what passes for the gag all too well.

Ivor the engineered

Radio 2 listeners forget to vote any Beatles into their Ivor Novello songs of the decades type thing poll. Surely, rather than You Really Got Me "not just on a par with Lennon and McCartney, but out in front in their contribution to and influence on British music", which is surely baseless as without the Beatles' influence on the way songs are written not to order but for themselves Ray and Dave Davies might not have so much as been allowed to put their own song out as a single, it's surely more likely the Beatles fans were split between the two qualifying songs. As for the rest, I'm inured against Angels appearing in these things by now - speaking of which, Guy Chambers seems to think Brian McFadden and Jamie Cullum are the only artists in Britain with full artistic control - but nice to see West End Girls - the first proper Londoner rap, Neil Tennant maintains - in there.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Single File : w/c 22/5/05

Now there's a shock - Oasis at number one. Lyla is taken from Don't Believe The Truth, hailed in reviews as a return to form. You know, like the last two albums were. I'm slightly confused by the video - are they suggesting it's better to live in run-down housing than briefly experience technicolour glamour, such as Oasis give off such a thing?

Black Eyed Peas failed to make it a proper number one standoff by entering behind Akon at 3 with their not quite swearing. Jennifer Lopez enters at 6, and we all slag her off all we like but this comes a week after her similarly panned new film entered the UK box office list at number two. Max Graham vs Yes - oh god, Jon Anderson on TOTP, does this mean? - is at nine, proving there's life yet in the MOR sample/girls in bikinis market, while Kaiser Chiefs continue to press their claim as the first true British singles band in a while by entering at 10.

Rob Thomas, far better known than his band, is at 11, Mylo comes third in the Star To Fall race at 13, Javine actually charts lower than Jemini did at 18, although to be fair how were we to know virtually every other country would also enter a song that ripped off Ruslana, Stevie Wonder gets the old clavichord out at 19 and New Order and Ana Matronic, who've made a pretty double act on TV these last couple of weeks with Ana's bubbly excitement next to the singularly dour looking Barney, at 20.

Lower down, dance lot Gadjo are at 22, Turin Brakes - they had a top five single once! How? - 32, Hot Hot Heat 36, Stonebridge use the advantage of their promotional vido at 37 and bloody hell, Ian McNabb makes his first solo top 40 appearance and only second ever, the Icicle Works only breaking into the chart once in 1983, at 38. It was outside the midweek 40, so lord knows where that's come from. It would have been great to see Antony & The Johnsons have a proper chart entry but they'll be satisfied with 44. For everyone, and there's quite a few, who found the site via Google searches this week, The Gaff did not enter the top 75 at all.

Next week, Coldplay vs Amerie vs Crazy Frog. Place your bets!

Every day they loved it less and less

It's fairly well known that the Kaiser Chiefs were a garage rock bandwagon jumping outfit called Parva before Ricky Wilson had so much as seen a stripy blazer, but to what degree did they think they "weren't always being true to ourselves", as they've since intimated? Well, seems Parva's label site is still operational, unfortunately with the band still sporting much the same hairstyles but with videos for two of their singles. I see their point now.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Well, they did say Viva Forever

SPICE GIRLS REFORMING! SPICE GIRLS REFORMING! Yes, time again for the same story that's been run every couple of weeks since the girls 'split'. What's actually happened this time is Mel B, perhaps aware nobody's arsed about the new single of her own she's promoting, has been asked for the thousandth time, this time on GMTV, and replied "yeah, maybe, I'd like to - next year, y'know, if everyone's interested, possibly" or similar. Note here also a classic example of the showbiz column 'insider' quote. A Spice Girls reunion show would be popular, you say? Well I never. You know, it's good they've got an insider in the Spice camp there who's easygoing enough not to want themselves named for cheap publicity, because otherwise they'd have had to make a quote up for filler. "None of the girls have had much success in their solo careers", obviously apart from four of them having number one singles.

Come to think of it, the Backstreet Boys have new material on the way, N-Sync members have been reminding all that they never really split, 911 were flogging their wares not long ago... someone keep a watchful eye on ex-members of E-Male, would they?

If you didn't get Glastonbury tickets...

Ladies and gentlemen, the least glamorous sounding summer festival of all. Mr Gubbins Bicycle are not thought to be in contention to replace Kylie in the Pyramid Stage headlining slot.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Eurovision Song Contest - an announcement

Sweeping The Nation regrets to inform the UK music blogging community that, unlike all the other blogs, it will not be providing minute by minute updates of events on the night. This is because It's Up For Grabs Now (look, up and right a bit) will be doing the same for the BBC Cup Final coverage earlier in the day, and thus will be knackered.

Luckily, Popjustice is once again doing the dirty work gladly.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Christian virtue

A week after slagging off the BBC and Capital Group in his magnaminous Sony Awards winning speech, Christian O'Connell escapes to Virgin for the start of next year, which is some advance warning. XFM do have a habit of losing their DJs the moment they properly hit the national conscious, don't they? Paul Jackson, head of Virgin and possibly the bloke who oversaw BBC comedy for ages, gushed "this signing positions the station at the top of the radio game in London and across the country", which makes no sense whatsoever. You're on medium wave outside London and DAB owners, and your DAB signal's not that strong anyway! You've lost more than a million listeners in three years! Bringing that bloke who wins those awards but not many actually listen to doesn't immediately make you the biggest station in Britain.

By the way, I didn't see all of Stalking Pete Doherty last night, so let's get this straight. Max Carlish was brought in to make a documentary about Babyshambles. Then he put himself in the picture. Then he made a film around that about how he was part of the story. And then others were brought in to comment on this. Stalking Pete Doherty - a documentary about a documentary about a documentary about a documentary. Maybe this is this meta-pop business Simon Reynolds always goes on about in action.

Whatever happened to The Cartel?

The OFT sees no reason to suspect independent labels are being disenfranchised by the relaunched singles chart. Well, of course most of them aren't, as most of them have major label distribution and as a result can get onto iTunes and the like, which as I recall was the actual issue over which AIM took the OCC to the OFT as opposed to now how "few key retail outlets sold indie music", which nobody will be able to do a lot about. Nobody's doubting it's "accurate" (ahem). But is it a fair weighting? Well, let's ask the great Fierce Panda, who put out the recent Art Brut single that charted at 41 in the proper combined chart but made 31 on the sales standalone list. No download sales or capacity to shift their own, obviously, so no first top 40 single for the label. As we know from this week's chart consumers would still by and large prefer CD singles to downloads when both become available, Feel Good Inc managing nearly a six-time increase from week on week download units shifted. At the other end of the scale, what is Phantom Planet's California climbing a place to 38 mostly on downloads proving?

Mind you, radio programmers probably have Phantom Planet down as 'indie', so horses for courses.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Calling Pulp!

As with everyone, best wishes are extended to Kylie Minogue, who's cancelled Glastonbury as well as the last leg of her tour. The message 'be careful what you wish for' is extended to Ian Brown and the Zutons.

(Why is there a BBC Have Your Say on this? What range of opinions are they expecting?)

Radio 1 Fun Days In?

Wonderful One FM ordered to cut costs (link to the Independent, so it'll probably be subscription only by tomorrow), as if it doesn't sound cheap enough. For some reason the Indy speculates this could mean an end to the top 40, because of course nobody needs a guideline to who's popular as The Downloading Takes Over (as shown by Gorillaz shifting almost twice as many CD singles in a week than downloads in the previous six). The contract with the Official Charts Company - crazy name, crazy guys - is hardly £2m a year, is it?

You're advised, by the way, not to read the same paper's interview with Andy Parfitt, as it includes the breathtaking line "Colin and Edith have got that intelligence and wit and sense of humour. It's in the same country as Mark and Lard." This "intelligence" and "wit" was of course illustrated in the Sunday Times a few months ago when Colin Murray commented that nobody would remember who they'd taken over from by now as Mark and Lard fans "are closer to drawing their pension than to their eighteenth birthday".

Monday, May 16, 2005

Wham!'s efforts not all in vain

Remember the plans to set up a US office to market British bands, a folly of the times if ever you heard one and seemingly floated just to get Robbie Williams to sell records? Now that appears to be achieving some success, albeit latterly through Il Divo selling quite a bit, there are other markets to crack, which is why the Association of Independent Music is setting up a Chinese branch. Why this is illustrated by a picture of Britney, who is not British, looking like a pissed Juliette Lewis I'm not sure.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Singles File : w/c 15/5/05

Akon, who sold surprisingly huge amounts last week, stays at number one as expected, with the main challenge being Gorillaz' eighteen place climb. Ah, I remember when records did that sort of thing as a matter of course. De La Soul's biggest hit too, of course, and it didn't even need a bizarre junglist remix this time. The Game enters at 4, which is something of a surprise given it's from an album that's already been top ten and still nobody thinks of him without connecting him with 50 Cent. Having him on all his singles won't help that, of course.

The Coral enter at 6, Kelly Osbourne's sparkling wit and repartee on CD:UK last week means an entry at 9 - seriously, who's buying Kelly Osbourne singles? - and just outside comes KT Tunstall's label's attempt to prove she really is a New Dido at 13 and at 12, Cliff Richard. This has had some good write-ups, being from his Nashville album from last October and, as your dad might say, something of a rocker. Maybe he got the hint from that poll the other year that voted Move It, his first single, as his own fans' favourite ever. Or maybe people bought it on impulse after seeing sleeves on which Cliff pulls these poses:

...and thought they couldn't resist. I nearly couldn't.

Doves at 17, the return of piano house with Praise Cats at 24, the Futureheads' Decent Days And Nights peaks at exactly the same position, 26, as it did before - well done, 679, lots of point in re-releasing that one rather than the four non-charting previous singles on the album - the Stands are in at 28, Ludacris' sampling of a buffering RealAudio of Soul Bossa Nova gets him to 30 and Juliette & The Licks' normally makeweight glam-Stooges act is in at 35.

Meanwhile any good feeling personally engendered towards the album buying public sending Arcade Fire's mighty Funeral back in at 65 is wiped out as Steve Brookstein goes straight to the top. Seriously, who is his audience? Jane McDonald fans expanding their horizons?

Saturday, May 14, 2005

At least there's no Ping Pong Bitches

So Poptones releases its first compilation on Monday, accompanied by the sort of laughably breathless McGee communique it wouldn't seem right without. "Sometimes you doubt whether people even care, then you hear The Paddingtons or The Others and you realise none of that matters." That's handy, Alan.

See, my problem with modern Poptones is how McGee's forgotten what being in charge of an actual properly distributed independent record label is all about. Creation may well have started as amateur jangle central and ended up standing in the shadows on the shoulders of giants, but along the way at least you could guarantee their roster would be varied and of largely high quality, your MBVs, Fannies and Furries down to assorted Pete Astor and Edward Ball projects. Fast foward to And The Cassette Played Poptones (yes, we see), which seems to have developed a similar 'buy one, buy the lot' fanbase but here is represented by the lame post-Libertines schmindie of Special Needs, the lame post-Libertines schmindie of The Paddingtons, the lame post-Libertines schmindie of Thee Unstrung... you get the idea, bar the lame post-Pink Floyd schmindie of Pure Reason Revolution (their first single's 12 minutes long! It's truly like punk never happened!) Ooh, some of them have electronics, you say? There's a song on here about the fun Dominic Masters had smoking crack with Pete Doherty, something those 16 year olds in Northumberland will really be able to relate to. And it wasn't even always thus. Let us instead celebrate four years of the Queen's own label with possibly the actual five greatest records on Poptones and definitely five ignored by McGee now:

Beachbuggy - Sport Fury: surf-Pixies meets nascent Cramps punk with an Americanised Mark E Smith singing. Odd, that, as they're from Doncaster. Steve Albini was listening. So exuberant they even survived later support by Tim Lovejoy, who used their Killer Bee for the title music of his Sky One series.

The Hives - Your New Favourite Band: Oh, come on. Still sounds last-gasp rock'n'roll thrilling today, and a salutory lesson to those who would style New Found Glory and the like as punk. How many were issued in cardboard sleeves with the accompanying videos actually as QuickTime files like the copy I have, then?

Montgolfier Brothers - Seventeen Stars: one of the first album releases on the label, and a hugely affecting thing, somewhere between the Tindersticks and what would become the New Acoustic Movement. Wouldn't fit in at all now, obviously.

Sing-Sing - The Joy Of Sing-Sing: Emma Anderson off of Lush and friend go Garbage meets the Cardigans, but less affected than either. Attempting to finance themselves, last I heard.

Ken Stringfellow - Touched: REM's fifth (fourth?) man's been all over the place since the Posies, and most of his delicately constructed power-pop is worth the effort. Curious hair, as I recall.


Have I just not been looking hard enough, or has nobody yet made the connection regarding the new album by Gorillaz, the animated band, being produced by DJ Danger Mouse?

Friday, May 13, 2005

Land Of Make Believe

Who knew Bucks Fizz would have been riven with internal rivalries? Surely one Abba is more than enough, despite - oh, hurrah - a Edinburgh Fringe stage show about Jay Aston, but lest we forget the titular synth-pomp hit was written by one of King Crimson.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

It's on the market, you're on the price list

The Gang Of Four remixed and re-recorded project draws closer. After hearing the echo chamber-friendly new version of To Hell With Poverty, I'm not hugely sure about Andy Gill's thought that Entertainment! sounds too weedy - surely its cold funk is appropriate to the subject matters?

Video stars

A quick and simple new video selection from the Telegraph. Despite what it says there the Stevie Wonder video is a bit lame, mind.

B4 anyone notices

I don't know if anyone else catches B4 at 7am Monday to Friday on Channel 4, but whoever programs the six new videos in each show is either schizophrenic or hugely sly. This morning Geri, J-Lo, Jo Jo and Javine were put alongside Alabama 3, but that was as nothing compared to yesterday's diet of Bryan McFadden, Daniel Bedingfield, Black Eyed Peas, Amerie and, naturally, LCD Soundsystem.

An album of albums

Surely I'm not alone in, when in a major record store that doesn't have instore radio, trying to find out what they're playing and then sticking around for want of anything better to do if the next track or two is any good? Today, for instance, I was in HMV for lack of better options (you may spot a theme developing here) and came in on the Jam's Down In The Tube Station At Midnight playing. A process of elimination and guesswork drew me to The Best Album Tracks... Ever!, which I consequently checked out the tracklisting of and decided there and then to just wander about the store looking inconspicuous to Sweet Gene Vincent and Night Boat To Cairo - two songs I own on albums, by the way, so I can listen to them any time I choose to. Such is the way my brain works.

Coincidentally, I was going to mention this compilation on here anyway just for its sheer incongruity in the Various Artists market. Firstly, what's the criteria - best tracks, best albums, what? If it's the best albums picked, why pick those specific tracks, or in many artist's cases that album? Well, obviousness, largely, looking at it, but then great albums aren't solely great on the back of one track. And then you have to sequence the thing. Look at disc 3! Who's going to put that on all the way through by choice? OK, apart from Mark Radcliffe?

Let's all pack up and go home

Steve Brookstein is number one in the midweek album chart.

NB. Craziness quotient of frog may settle in transit

The modern equivalent of Blur v Oasis has been averted, as the latest single release schedule update shows the Axel F mix featuring the one-time Annoying Thing as advertised on a ringtone advert near you has been pushed back to the 23rd, out of the way of a similarly sampling record by one Pond Life, one of whom is Wes who used to do the Radio 1 top 40 and some wish he still did on account of being neither JK nor Joel, although now he appears to be part of the millennial Arnee And The Terminators many will be changing their minds. You can tell this is a novelty hit brainwave as its moment of critical mass (as in people massing to critique it) has long passed, if Jamster adverts are anything to go by supplanted by men doing poor impressions of Little Britain catchphrases in the ringtone that makes you want to punch people stakes.

Learning to love the bootboy

Luke Haines has a new website, which gives news of an EMI 3CD box set of Auteurs/Baader Meinhof/solo offcuts set for July, which is excellent news.

I keep seeing the DVD of Christie Malry's Own Double Entry in stores. Is it any good?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Sales Pitch Extra

I don't have a FOPP branch nearby, but I'm led to believe they currently have Rough Trade Shops Indiepop 1 for a fiver. The Popguns, jangly My Bloody Valentine, Preposterous Tales (Of Ken McKenzie), this site's own title track - what's not to love?

Alternately, I popped by WH Smith, which everyone has a branch nearby of, yesterday and their current and seemingly everlasting half-price offer includes good old Parklife, which you forget among the Cockernee classics is full of melancholia and rainy day nostalgia. And all there for £3.99.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

X slated

Christian O'Connell, best known nationally for his series on BBC Radio 5 Live, has slagged off the BBC, claiming "you don't believe in live radio or the music". Right, mind if we have a look at XFM's daytime A-list? Ah, about four songs. Don't mind us, Christian, but we're off to examine Zane Lowe's music broadcaster of the year and general specialist music trophies.

Monday, May 09, 2005

It's on

I can understand why some bands reform. The House Of Love, for instance. The Pixies, obviously. Then there are those like the Happy Mondays, who seem to split at the end of every gig. But certainly reformations of bands from just 15 years ago or so really are suddenly big business. However, it can go too far.

Flowered Up?!

Electronic performer

Does the new Kelly Osbourne single sound more like Visage's Fade To Grey or Ladytron's Seventeen? Vote now! (er, or just leave a comment)

The Gaff-er

Looking down this week's new single releases, there's a certain stagnant quality to it all. The Coral, yes. The Game surely doesn't need another single featuring 50 Cent. Ludacris has sampled Soul Bossa Nova, which had to happen eventually. And look, kids, it's KT Tunstall.

And then there's The Gaff. Whether that name means anything to you depends on whether you watch music TV or not. See, their first single Hey Weirdo has been all over The Box and B4 - think of Rooster playing the Libertines, complete with Dominic Masters-esque singer, complete with busty woman in the video and carefully styled shambolicness that immediately turns off national radio (although Jonathan Ross has allegedly played it) and the NME-sponsored bandwagoning. So, a major label post-Busted cash-in, like a Noise Next Door with even less chance of finding the point?

Actually, no. They're on a label called Endeavour, whose only other notable act is the hardly CD:UK troubling Cousteau. What's going on here I'm not sure, but it doesn't half make you wonder whatever became of Trucks.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Single File: w/c 8/5/05

We eventually have a new number one, Akon's Lonely. The rise and rise of Akon has been little documented and has seemingly happened under the radar for much of the way but he's back at number one in the album charts as well having, uncommonly for any album now, never mind a lite-rap effort, taken its time climbing the top 75. And all with that technical innovation, sped-up voices. Did Pinky & Perky die for this?

Better than Ja Rule, though.

Eminem just being soppy enters at 4 while there's a row of four entrants starting Weezer wetter than ever at 9 - a big hand for Peter Frampton! The fact nobody outside R&B really understands what crunk is supposed to be hasn't stopped its producer du jour Lil Jon at 10, the Killers' real big stadium singalong chorus single comes out right at the end of the campaign but still makes 11 and Faith Evans Who Doesn't Just Want To Be Known As The Widow Of Notorious BIG is at 12. It's pleasing to see Maximo Park's second top 20 single, Graffiti at 15 - little radio play, Geordie accented vocals, what press they do get seemingly about Paul Smith's parting. Who knew Warp would end up like this in the days of LFO and Tricky Disco?

The Chemical Brothers are in at 18, Kele Okereke going top 20 for the second consecutive week at which Banquet falls right out of the 40. Gorillaz, properly released tomorrow, crawl to 20 - what a Pepsi Chart-like chart graph that will have - beating Freefaller, the band for girls who think Rooster are too hard. Like The Noise Next Door, can you see anyone professing undying love to Freefaller alone? One of them was in Point Break! Dogs are this week's Raucous But Unschooled London Band at 29, Idlewild drift unnoticed to 32, the Duke Spirit suffer from 'actually, now you can see her face Liela's not all that great looking' syndrome and peak at 33, A - christ! Is it 2000? - are at 35, El Presidente are the first New Scissor Sisters (they say: "He has no passport, no fingerprints and no record of a birth certificate exists in any known country and yet he has been on the FBI's Most Wanted list for close to a decade now. Counter-terrorism officers have described him as the most dangerous musician in the world and the lyrics to his music have been banned in forty-seven countries, including Lithuania and Mexico." Our survey says: used to be in Gun) at 37 and Lucie Silvas, after two top ten singles and nearly an album following suit, actually does some promotion for her new single and accordingly makes, um, 38. A word too for Art Brut, breaking their own record for Fierce Panda's biggest hit at 41. They'll never make Top Of The Pops like that.

Status Quo, Adam Ant, David Hepworth put their diaries away again

"Why would I possibly repeat something I did 20 years ago?" says the man who co-wrote Band Aid 20. Is that ITV Teletext's TV Plus the BBC are quoting?

Go on, guess what Smiths song they've used for the headline

Admirable attempt to put local interest into a report on a book regarding the most depressing songs ever, stating "not a single known Scottish band, surprising for a country whose art often explores the darker side of life". Never mind the suggestion several unknown Scottish bands are included, why should they be? You're thinking of that Travis song about rain, aren't you?

I like how only the writer's editor is quoted, as if this were a new JD Salinger work.

So you've never come across eBay before, yes?

The Scotsman On Sunday has found its exclusive Teenage Fanclub CD from last week has turned up for auction. Given the paper was giving them away free last week (ring 0131 620 8400 within office hours while stocks last - go on, might be worth a shot), what kind of false economy is this?

Friday, May 06, 2005

The blogs united

...as the Futureheads play the Stadium Of Light.

Not sure it's worth doing a proper Sales Pitch for this, but might as well given I checked : MVC have a mini-sale on at the moment, and your best bet for a fiver is Idlewild's underrated The Remote Part for just £4. It's not been the same since they dropped the card discount, anyway.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Collins update

Awkward developments in Edwyn Collins' medical problems, as two and a half months after his brain haemorrhage his progress has been hit by MRSA. Best wishes to Grace and the family as ever.

By coincidence, Domino are bringing out The Glasgow School, a compilation of their Postcard Records material, in July.

Sales Pitch

Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison : £4.99 in HMV

Thom Yorke cites this as a big inspiration for Radiohead circa OK Computer, and it's pretty much as wracked and intense as any of his own work. Cash's tales of the wrong side of tracks backed by the almost hypnotic location of the country/rock'n'roll intersection have surely never been received so heartily, or indeed so scarily, the atmosphere at times virtually overwhelming the musicianship. Live music at its most raw, Cash at his most fluid. Isn't it about time for a full, American Recordings-inclusive Cash Best Of, by the way?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Why can’t it just be cool and leave us?

Hugely exciting, if slightly baffling, news that Dinosaur Jr's Freak Scene is being re-released on June 6th in the shape of 3,000 CDs and 2,000 7"s. It invented the slacker generation single handedly, it featured guitars burrowing their way to the earth's core and came with a video shot in someone's back yard with J Mascis and Lou Barlow half-arsed in front of a graffiti'd cross. Further listening comes in the first three albums, recently remastered and re-released: Dinosaur, You're Living All Over Me and Bug.

Totally wicked and equally ace

Given I mentioned them at the weekend, I gave British Sea Power's Open Season only its second proper full listen yesterday (well, I've been busy.)

The notable thing is, whereas most bands with their off-kilter approach would build on the wildest elements of the previous album, the touchstones from The Decline Of... are Carrion and Blackout. So there's no Gregorian chanting and, apart from a couple of occasions, the Joey Santiago guitar explosions are flattened out, and while old favourites can still be invoked, namely the Psychedelic Furs and Bunnymen (supposedly bands they didn't actually know much about on formulating their sound, but then they always say that), there's also more than a hint of XTC's periodic pastoral phases (English Settlement, Skylarking) in the way it invokes open spaces and the countryside, sound effects inclusive. More than on Decline, it actually sounds like a band into ornithology and fell walking rather than one who talk the talk, drape the stage accordingly but play the studio tan redolent angularity card sonically. Notably recent live reports suggest the branches and great bear have been cut back on, which may be symbolic of a self-adhered requirement to at least look more serious about being big players. Commercial resources still aren't interested in the slightest, naturally, but all BSP have really done is refocus their dead-eyed intensity from angularity onto something more solveable but no less gripping.

Sales Pitch

A megastore clearout buyer's guide

See, now that they have competition from the Internet's stores and downloads, the major record/multimedia shops now seem to have cut price sales on permanently, which is good for us all as often this means a stone cold classic or three gets hugely reduced for a couple of weeks. What will happen in this irregular feature, although there's going to be at least one more instalment this week, is an album will be highlighted that you can buy for a fiver or less in one of these sales whenever they're on and will, I think, provide far more in enjoyment value than it will in outlay. All while stocks last and stock available may vary between stores, obviously. So, to kick us off:

Dexys Midnight Runners - Searching For The Young Soul Rebels : £4.99 in Virgin (not HMV as stated yesterday. Although come to think of it, it might have been about the same in the last HMV sale, and thus plausibly the current one too. I'll check.)

Kevin Rowland, direct from a minor role in the punk wars, hit upon a genius thought when forming Dexys - if the 1976 Year Zero rethink meant anyone with the requisite vocal passion could become a singer, why not apply the same rule to the Stax, Otis, Geno and Reverend Al he was listening to after becoming disillusioned with three chord thrashing? Springing out of the traps with a declaration of laying waste to all working class music surrounding them, it's a hugely confident, swaggering, subtly political due in part to Rowland's Irish roots, staccato yet full-on 'new soul vision' from a self-styled last gang in town that played as hard as they talked the talk. "Where have you hidden them?" Rowland asked after the Young Soul Rebels. Oh, well they'll be crouching in the cupboard, won't they?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Bit of politics there

Wednesday's Daily Mail is advertising a full guide to tactical voting, under the front page banner headline 'Want to give Blair a bloody nose?'

I haven't seen it, but do you suspect that will cover the same aim of the tactical voting patterns Billy Bragg has been plugging these last two elections at all?

I spoke too soon

Dotmusic's own James Masterson calls Bloc Party 'Britpackers' in his latest chart commentary. He does then compare Banquet to the Stranglers and Duran Duran, though, so allow him some curious comparative leeway.

Monday, May 02, 2005

If you work it out, tell me what you find

Actually, yes, next Monday I may well buy this:

...because I do love them so, but also because the expensive version of the single has something called u-myx, which supposedly allows the user to remix the track in a basic form. Even if my usual hamfisted attempts to work music software result in it turning into a clashing mess, it may well still be better than the new Radio Mix.

Why do bands - well, labels - commission single mixes? Even if the casual listener can't tell much difference they're bound to not be as lively or immediate as the original, compressed horribly to take up less airtime and making the band look like ass-kissing radio whores as a result. This case is even worse, as whoever mixed it has copied a random piece of the riff onto the start, not even mixing it back into where Barry's vocal comes in on the original properly so it seems to cut off mid-note and completely ruining the subtle build of the guitars as a result. Furthermore the whole drum pattern seems to have been completely changed so it sounds more like a Strokes part in texture - even Dave's vocal has been amplified for no discernable or comfortable sounding reason. Ally that to the horrible new video, which seems to have been created with a Fisher Price My First Video Editing Suite such are the number of supposedly flashy effects, and just the fact they've followed up the big breakthrough hit with their only previous single to breach the top 40 when more than half the album could easily be single material in its own right, and the whole thing's not turned out well for anyone.

Actually, Blur's single reworking of MOR comprehensively outdid the eponymous album version. But that's a full re-recording, I think.

Singles File: w/c 1/5/05

Tony Christie's still at number one, and the fact so many people are going "how much longer do we have to have this for?" proves that we really do have short attention spans. It took until week nine at least in Bryan Adams' day for anyone to start really moaning, and that wasn't even for charity.

Snoop Dogg seemed decent odds to dethrone him, but just having Timberlake on your record (and someone called Uncle Charlie Wilson - anyone?) and a more expansive production is hardly enough, so that's at 2, one ahead of the final Elvis re-release, A Little Less Conversation. What has this series of releases actually achieveed? If it's reinstating the good work of Presley it's just ended up boring people and exposing the paucity of the singles chart, downloads or no, which for a label like RCA/BMG is hardly helpful. In the record books it'll be regarded as a cynical ploy and it's given the likes of Pete Waterman in today's Observer the chance to say "ah, this proves all songwriters are shit, ha ha ha!" when all it's really proved is the fanaticism of Elvis fans. Hope they store their commemorative gift boxes safely and rush out on Tuesday for Elvis By The Presleys, a compilation of Priscilla and Lisa-Marie's favourite Elvis songs. Thus the money keeps rolling in.

Will Smith's still hanging around the top 5 with his inconsequential Switch, keeping a particularly dull Destiny's Child track out. We doubt they've really noticed. The Tears enter at 9, a position a new Suede single would have got nowhere near despite sounding exactly like one. You don't get the feeling this was always meant to be, more that this is a flag of convenience for label-less, bandless, far too proud Butler and sitting on a solo album without much interest Anderson. They seem to be doing interviews apart already. Don't call the album Here Come The Tears!

Bloc Party's Banquet, which sounds far more like a breakthrough single than So Here We Are, enters strongly at 13, the pop kids Reef that is Rooster at 14 and Athlete at 17, but then Snow Patrol singles didn't chart highly after Run either. Gorillaz fall back a place at 22 - surely if all the limited edition 7"s have now sold out this is no longer chart eligible?. There's more proof that South London is bigger than all of us as the Paddingtons enter at 25. Lindsay Lohan, whom I believe to be an actress in youth films, m'lud, extends her brand only as far as 27, which proves this was a waste of time in a country that cares little for her. Her two US singles form the A-side and B-side of this single, which suggests the label know this as well. Robert Plant enters the top 40 for the first time since 1993 at 32 and Black Rock get their single line Guinness Book entry at 36. Quite a few records hang around due to downloads, which while defeating the purpose of the hype about how these being included would help the rock kids' favourites get better positions - they haven't - does at least mean Thee Unstrung enter at 41. Ha ha ha ha ha.

Charity ends at home

Random thought - what happened to Sharon Osbourne's tsunami relief single? Is it coming out on the same day as Michael Jackson's 9/11 charity record?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

It ended on a returning officer's stage

Surely British Sea Power have enough of a problem getting their serious side through to the populace - go on, playlist Please Stand Up, someone - without the Monster Raving Loony Party getting involved?