Friday, September 30, 2005

You Say France And I Whistle

Been waiting ages for someone to pick up on this - WFMU's Beware Of The Blog collates Van Morrison's Bang Masters, 31 knocked off songs to fulfil his early contract with a hated label. Danny Baker used to play Ring Worm occasionally to much hilarity, but there's equal goodness in such standards as Want A Danish and The Big Royalty Check. It's most surreal if you keep in mind throughout that this really is the famously grouchy Van Morrison.

In more appropriate, if no less nuts, album news, the Danger Mouse/MF Doom collaboration Danger Doom does that whole streaming thing

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

And are there any more Others albums in the pipeline?

It's been hanging around for about a month now, but the full horror has just been alerted to us of Rock'n'Roll Promz, a title so desperately straining to be 'punk' and 'unconventional' (Promz, you see? Like the Proms... but off the wall like, um, Bratz!) you'll not be surprised to learn it's the brainchild of Alan McGee. PR?

"The idea for Rock N Roll Promz came to Alan whilst onstage DJing at Glastonbury. Alan was the last person onsite playing music and with the tent bursting at the seams the organisers decided it was time to turn the volume down for safety reasons. But when the volume went down the crowds started a euphoric mass-sing-along, creating an amazing atmosphere which Alan instantly picked up on, and, in keeping with the mood reached into his box for more classic and iconic tunes: Stones, Verve, Beatles, Oasis, Kinks, all taking the crowd higher and higher. The buzz in the tent was amazing with more and more people joining the celebratory mood. Alan immediately thought why not create that same atmosphere around the UK?"

Right. So basically it's a DJ set of the most famous songs Alan McGee knows in the style that about twelve people on the Internet and nowhere else call 'rockist', that is to say records that pissed lads in rugby shirts bellow while placing hands on each other's shoulder blades. You'd never guess that he hangs around with Oasis, would you? And he's properly touring with it! No wonder those The Bands compilations sell so well.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Turning into themselves

Of course, we all know by now that mashups don't work - the vocals are always pitched wrongly, the chorus never matches up, it's just an excuse for the label to put acapellas on CD singles. Mind you, the odd one sneaks through - for example, Indie mp3's find of a Don't Cha/Banquet collective effort, the text for which also reveals the Indie mp3 'team' have never heard of the Pussycat Dolls. What a strange and beautiful musical landscape they must inhabit.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

In shops tomorrow - 26/9/05

Yes, we're jumping on this bandwagon every Sunday from now on:

  • Going from New Younger Younger 28s to saviours of Irish pop in one bound, the Chalets' No Style
  • Editors re-release Bullets in what we've eventually decided is a superior form
  • This is how we introduce them one at a time - the Go! Team rejig Bottle Rocket to avoid those sampling bills piling up
  • Back at Summer Sundae we noted the Infadels, who release Jagger 67, finally blending Radio 4 punk-funk with UK dance culture, plus the singer's relentless energy and the guitarist's hat. At least one of these facets is on show here
  • LCD Soundsystem's Tribulations probably won't get Murphy back into the top 20, but it's closer than Black Dice will manage
  • Points to Levy's Rotten Love just for adding itself to the list of songs where the singer namechecks himself

  • The Dead 60s' debut finishes its three months on the release schedule sidelines, which has allowed them to add a limited edition dub mix second CD to their underachieving but high aiming Clash-ska
  • As previously reviewed, Help: A Day In The Life comes to CD minus two of the best download tracks
  • Piss-poor title, appalling cover, weak ending, but Mew And The Glass Handed Kites at least proves they're still approaching indie-prog-dreampop like nobody else

  • A critically acclaimed retrospective 25 years of steel city blues in Made In Sheffield, oddly released in America before Britain. If you're not that arsed about the Human League, get Curb Your Enthusiasm Series 4 instead.
  • The Weekly Sweep

    Half Man Half Biscuit - Upon Westminster Bridge
    dEUS - Bad Timing
    Metric - Monster Hospital
    Okkervil River - Black
    Tilly And The Wall - You And I Misbehaving
    Emmanuel Jal - Gua
    Maximo Park - Wasteland
    Belle and Sebastian - The Eighth Station of the Cross Kebab House
    David Bowie & Arcade Fire - Wake Up (Fashion Rocks performance)
    Stars - Your Ex-Lover Is Dead

    Saturday, September 24, 2005

    Warchild of our time

    The Help: A Day In The Life album is released in physical form - you know, the media nobody cares about any more - on Monday after some remarkably quick online selling for something not actually given all that much mass media publicity. What this means is we can legally tell you what the tracks are like before you spend money on the good cause. The tracks by the Zutons - Hello Conscience, pots and pans percussion giving way to their standard issue warped pop shapes replete with rasping guitars and a touch too long running time to get to the enormous pounding finish - and Belle And Sebastian - The Eighth Station of the Cross Kebab House, a surprisingly skanking effort referencing the Israel situation Stuart Murdoch recently saw first hand - are held back from the CD apparently for a future EP release, which leaves this new tracklisting:

    Coldplay - How You See The World No.2: On the surface, much like you'd expect as a piano meanders and builds to an arena sized finish, but there's a certain passion in Chris' voice to go with the sort of politicised lyricism he's still tiptoeing towards and drive in the band that seemed to have gone missing in the X&Y sessions. Mixed by Mark 'Spike' Stent, which probably explains it.

    Razorlight - Kirby's House: Starts oddly like an anaemic Magic Numbers before developing into a slightly more developed campfire strumalong, Borrell even letting the others have backing vocals. Then it disappears for twenty seconds and re-emerges with a shiny gospel edge added, as all Razorlight songs are sure to have now. This is the track radio seems to have decided is the only one on the album worth bothering with, which demonstrates all sorts.

    Radiohead - I Want None Of This: Much of this new song-erama is Radiohead's doing, of course, having seen a proper version of Lucky stand out in a morass of demos and scraps. This was first track on the download version and you can see why it got moved back, as your pop consumer's going to be put off by something pitched not far from Amnesiac's You And Whose Army, or at least Ed O'Brien's description of that song as like a modern Inkspots. Like that track, it sounds intriguing in the context of an album but tells you nothing taken on its own. They've said they're looking at a full band version for their next album, which might be interesting.

    Keane & Faultline - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: Not entirely sure what David Kosten's added to this, given the burbling electronic undercurrent he adds to a lot of guest production spots was on much of Hopes And Fears too. It's a delicate late night vocal in any case with a notably audible ride cymbal, for what that's worth.

    Emmanuel Jal - Gua: Ah, tokenism! Fast rising Sudanese rapper and, as no doubt everything ever written about him suffixes his name with, former child soldier multilingualises intelligently about peace over electro-reggae and a female choir. Oddly affecting.

    Gorillaz - Hong Kong: Speaking of world music... more like a Think Tank sketch than anything done under 2D and co's name, essentially it's Damon refinding his longing, faraway voice while people mess about with various stringed instruments, someone lets a small child loose on a piano at various intervals and the rhythm section work around the theme of Lambchop's Up With People. It's be perfect for sunlit mountain roads.

    Manic Street Preachers - Leviathan: Flagged up by Nicky Wire as the punkiest thing they've ever - ever! - done, but it's no more balls out than the rawer bits of Know Your Enemy, complete with short twiddly solo. No idea what it's about, namechecks for Patty Hearst and Baader Meinhof (FX: Luke Haines spitting feathers) implying something of great significance but not much more than that. Also seems to fade out accidentally.

    Kaiser Chiefs - I Heard It Through The Grapevine: Yes, we've heard the Slits version too. It's not quite as dubby as that, not least as they've copied the original bassline and stuck an inappropriate guitar solo in, but it's clear where the influence has come from. It was cobbled together in three hours' recording time, and it shows.

    Damien Rice - Cross Eyed Bear: Presumably after hearing James Blunt, Rice has noticeably dropped his voice an octave or two but not done anything about the sparse acoustic. Just as you begin to wonder when something's going to happen Lisa Hannigan arrives - wasn't she supposed to be getting joint billing these days? - sounding oddly like an Irish Chan Marshall, or alternately like she's just got up. It doesn't help the song much.

    The Magic Numbers - Gone Are The Days: It sounds like the Lovin' Spoonful, of course, albeit with more of a country swing. Is it also so wrong to mention the Coral's Pass It On at this juncture? What they need at this juncture is something that works on their grittier live sound; what they've provided is almost the opposite.

    Tinariwen - Cler Achel: "Tinariwen formed in Colonel Ghadaffi's rebel camps having been violently forced from their Touareg nomadic life by Malian government forces", it says here. According to their Wikipedia entry their style is known as Tishoumaren, or "music of the unemployed", which perhaps makes them a kind of New Deal For Touareg Musicians. Political, then, and clearly there's some theme of regret tinged with anger going on in their funny foreign language and their Jeff Beck style solo, but to the English ear it could as easily be a song for the harvest. The sort of thing Andy Kershaw sticks on immediately before Loudon Wainwright III session tracks.

    The Coral - It Was Nothing: A jarring change, I'll give them that. Very much in the recent Coral style, that is to say James Skelly sounding all wistful over mid-paced mod-Merseybeat and making it hard to tell what producers Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley actually did, or indeed why they seem to be regressing stylistically as time passes.

    Mylo - Mars Needs Women: Starts off with a squelching bass akin to Flat Beat being played on speakers someone's left an old mobile phone too close to before dissolving into something suspiciously 808 State-esque, all one step up from ambient synths and 303s that sound a bit like birds. Would segue nicely into Drop The Pressure in his live set.

    Maximo Park - Wasteland: It's taken us a long time to realise the greatness of A Certain Trigger and this would fit neatly into the closing stages of that album, which is praise actually, full of hidden hooks and false choruses before suddenly stopping at precisely the right moment. "The devil in me made a pact with naivety" Paul Smith relays, possibly while grimacing and leaning to one side gripping the top of the mike stand.

    Elbow - Snowball: It could have been risky to come to after Guy Garvey telling anyone who'll listen about this song's political content but it works well, moving over five graceful minutes from an acoustic stripped down form to controlled intensity and an accordion popping briefly by. It might be the closest they've come to Radiohead, the nearest comparison to Garvey's voice being the aforementioned resigned bitterness of Yorke transplanted into a wounded bear of a man.

    Bloc Party - The Present: We'd heard a live version of this before which seemed to suggest their new songs were progressing in a more linear fashion, but clearly they've had a bit of a think about this themselves between, well, recording Two More Years (a real grower, but still not staking out the same territory as their earlier singles) and now. Some glacial synths arrive towards the end to root it right in the Cure-like 80s, but otherwise it builds cleverly through the reliable old delay pedal and Kele keeping the histrionics down while Matt Tong does his usual cyclical thing in the background.

    Hard-Fi - Help Me Please: Well, this is different. Accompanied by acoustic guitar, the occasional backing melodica and basic drum machine setting, Richard Archer yearns for something better, as usual, and sounds too much like Oasis for that much comfort.

    The Go! Team - Phantom Broadcast: You'd be entitled to wonder how a 'band' whose album is carefully made up of many years' worth of sampled beats could get a track together in a day, and it's a challenge they rise to with something approximating a lounge spaghetti Western theme, utilising the live band set-up well (no Ninja, mind). It'll be soundtracking something on the telly in no time.

    Babyshambles - From Bollywood to Battersea: The face of modern evil incarnate turns in... well, he turns in a track within a day, which is a start. He doesn't seem to have finished writing proper lyrics in time, admittedly, but as a development to the Libertines' jaunty acoustic side it passes the time and it actually sounds like he wanted to be there and was fully conscious.

    George & Antony - Happy Christmas War Is Over: O'Dowd and Hegarty, Boy and Johnsons, to be exact. Doing this song makes a kind of sense, we suppose, if not this version in which George starts off trying to outdo Antony for effort, Antony proves he's conclusively failing by just trying harder and most of the emotional approach of the lyrics gets lost, despite the lovely string arrangement. Still, at least they had fun.

    Friday, September 23, 2005

    I've been to a post-punk postcard fair

    I think we can stop this Peel memoriam business being added to now, can't we? There's going to be a supergroup cover of Ever Fallen In Love curated by Tom Ravenscroft featuring Dave Gilmour, Robert Plant, Roger Daltrey, Pete Shelley, Peter Hook, Jeff Beck, The Datsuns, The Futureheads and, for god knows what reason, El Presidente. Oh, and that Virgin compilation album previously mentioned here was apparently put together by a DJ friend and the tracks were given the nod by his family. Presumably they weren't as keen on the African influence, Dutch techno, early hip hop, drum'n'bass, Ivor Cutler...

    In related news, in that nobody now appears arsed about this excellent new Half Man Half Biscuit album (literally - we couldn't find it in any local shops), good to see the page of radio session tracks has been extended backwards, now including DJ chat including Johnnie Walker. See, there's someone who should be playing them now.

    Thursday, September 22, 2005

    It's so ridiculous it might just be true

    Mark E Smith to read the classified football results on the BBC? Not quite accurate, this, as he'll be doing the repeat reading on the interactive Score service rather than making Tim Gudgin stay at home for the day.

    Did these people not see him on Newsnight?

    Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    New year starts earlier every year

    Rolling Stone are first out of the blocks with their predictions for the Ten To Watch in 2006, although at least one of them could well be well watched by New Year's Day anyway. If you're at all worried about the possibility of Blunt going global and thus are wondering about how well their expert seer's eye works, on the basis of their Ten To Watch For 2005... not greatly.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2005

    The nation needs you

    The Peel festivities are heading towards us, with a compilation - but it should all be new bands!!!! - and according to the Radio 1 Peel Day page a soon come extensive site including tracklistings from every session, audio, video and pictorials. Radio Rewind has various 70s rarities up now too.

    Cliff notes

    Cliff Richard is threatening to stop releasing records apparently due to some sort of unofficial radio boycott. Yeah, the Cliff Richard whose last single was A-listed by Radio 2 and who can probably afford to keep himself in the manner to which he has become accustomed on Gold station plays alone. That Cliff Richard, apparently started when Chris Evans decided a modern rock radio station that didn't play his records shouldn't be playing his records. We know in our heart of hearts that this will lead to a post-ironic 'campaign' by a tabloid, and if it does, someone will die.

    Never mind that, though. While we were checking this, we found out This Is London, the online wing of the Evening Standard, run their own downloads service, and this at the time of posting is their top ten:

    1 Echo And The Bunnymen - Stormy Weather
    2 M People - Search For The Hero - Smith & Mighty Remix
    3 Franz Ferdinand - Do You Want To
    4 Jem - Wish I
    5 Daniel Powter - Bad Day
    6 James Blunt - You're Beautiful
    7 The White Stripes - My Doorbell
    8 Republic Of Ireland Squad 1990 - Put 'Em Under Pressure
    9 Foo Fighters - DOA
    10 Republic Of Ireland Squad 1998 - The Boys In Green

    Us neither.

    Sunday, September 18, 2005

    The Weekly Sweep

    Franz Ferdinand - The Fallen
    Mew - The Zookeeper's Boy
    Danger Doom -
    Devendra Banhart - I Feel Just Like A Child
    Infadels - Jagger 67
    Seth Lakeman - Kitty Jay
    Gwen Stefani - Hollaback Girl (Diplo remix)
    TV On The Radio - Dry Drunk Emperor
    Brakes - Ring A Ding Ding
    Elvis Costello - Possession

    And if you must ask, it wasn't problems at our end this time so much as laziness. (And the new Mew album and Elvis Costello DVD, yes.)

    Thursday, September 15, 2005

    CD player

    We've covered the CD:UK revamp before, and they're doing an introductory webchat so you can ask Lauren what the hell she's playing at yourself, but it's a hats off to the viewer's chart on BBC1 Saturday morning makeweight proto-interactive Anthea-immolating series UP2U with Mitracks, in which viewers are invited to vote for their favourite songs of the day using a curious weighting mechanism. There's fifty to choose from, including some apparently chosen by the presenters - LCD Soundsystem up against Tatu! - and they say the top ten will be incorporated into the show. We give it three months, but nice idea.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2005

    We did think we'd dreamt this...

    ...but no, Baddiel and Skinner really did end last week's Unplanned with How I Wrote Elastic Man. See the audience go wild!

    Did we miss much?

    Nothing, it seems, that Take Your Medicine didn't, with its covers mp3 album and seperate post of the Subways doing TV On The Radio.

    Elsewhere, as Mitch Benn himself mentioned in the comments box, Everything Sounds Like Coldplay Now has a video which will also be showing as filler on Paramount. Meanwhile, this is Digiguide's description of this Saturday's Top Of The Pops Reloaded:

    "Fearne Cotton, Sam Nixon and Mark Rhodes introduce live performances, music videos and exclusive interviews. Performances come from Sugababes, Franz Ferdinand and Jo O'Meara. Fearne hangs out with Ms Dynamite, Sam goes backstage with Arcade Fire, and JK and Joel give us the latest gossip from their Radio 1 week."

    No, not the bit where JK & Joel are made out to have any worth. but the idea that one of Sam & Mark is following up Arcade Fire's TOTP triumph by introducing them to the kids, against the new CD:UK. Our heads are already spinning.

    Thursday, September 01, 2005

    The 'Weekly' Sweep

    The Fall - Bingo Master's Breakout
    Guillemots - Made Up Love Song #43
    Rilo Kiley - Portions For Foxes
    Chalets - No Style
    International Noise Conspiracy - Capitalism Stole My Virginity
    Luke Haines - Meet Me At The Airport
    Shooting at Unarmed Men - Pink Ink
    Elbow - Mexican Standoff
    We Are Scientists - The Great Escape
    Go-Betweens - Here Comes A City

    And that's it from here for a bit while this PC goes off for an upgrade. All being well, we'll be back a week on Monday.