Monday, February 27, 2006

If you're so keen on South By Southwest why don't you just move to Austin, eh?

Well, we can dream. And listen to BBC Radios 1, 2 and 6 Music, all of which will be covering it in detail come mid-March. And download their mightily sized torrents of sample mp3s, of course.

So, how are we going to justify an aimless lengthy list of band names? Well, by claiming there's something for all the family in torrent 1's 2.5Gb : Alien Ant Farm, Aerial Pink, Battle, Beans, Blackalicious, Blackbud, Brakes, Busdriver, Cadence Weapon, Centro-Matic, Chris Mills, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, Daedelus, Damien Jurado, dEUS, Dressy Bessy, Duels, Duke Special, Editors, Envelopes, ¡Forward, Russia!, Gemma Hayes, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, Gogol Bordello, Goldrush, Grand National, Great Lake Swimmers, Hard-Fi, Head Automatica, Her Space Holiday, Islands, Isobel Campbell, Juliette and the Licks, KT Tunstall, Ladytron, Laura Veirs, Levy, Little Barrie, Magnolia Electric Company, Mary Lou Lord, Mazarin, Merz, Midlake, Morningwood, Moving Units, Mystery Jets, Of Montreal, Okkervil River, Piney Gir, Polytechnic, RJD2, Richard Hawley, Serena Maneesh, Shearwater, Sia, Talib Kweli, Tapes'n'Tapes, Taylor Hawkins and the Coattails (drummer's side project from drummer's side project), Th'Faith Healers, the Bellrays, the Cloud Room, the Cribs, the Dresden Dolls, The Eighteenth Day Of May, the Electric Soft Parade, The Gossip, the Grates, The Juan Maclean, The Like, The Longcut, The Minus 5, the Morning After Girls, The Organ, the Rakes, the Secret Machines, The Spinto Band, the Young Knives, Why?, We Are Scientists, Willy Mason, Xiu Xiu and several hundredweight of acts you've never heard of and probably never will again. And that's without Torrent 2, starring Billy Bragg (A New England!), Bullet For My Valentine, Corinne Bailey Rae, David Ford, Drive-By Truckers, Elf Power, Gomez, Guillemots, Harrisons, Ian McLagan, Jad Fair, Jamie Cullum, Jim Noir, Jose Gonzalez, Lady Sovereign, MC Lars, Metric, Neko Case, Nickel Creek, Nine Black Alps, Noisettes, OK Go, People In Planes, Plan B, Rumble Strips, Some By Sea, Teddy Thompson, The Boy Least Likely To, the Duke Spirit, The Feeling, The Magic Numbers, The Mighty Wah!, the Presets, the Rifles, Two Gallants and everyone else, including a band called The Brakes who we hope find room to have a proper fight with Eamon and co.

Weekender : in association with Halls Soothers

CHART OF DARKNESS: And so Madonna slips clear of Spices both Ginger and Sporty to rack up her twelth number one and retake a solo lead as the female singer with most UK number ones, her twelth bringing her one behind Westlife (who enter at 4, their twentieth single and thus twentieth top five hit. What do you mean you thought they were dead?) She didn't even have to perform at the Brits to take a lot of headlines the day after the event. By contrast Leeds soulstress Corinne Bailey Rae has gone the old fashioned route to stardom, that is to say a K2-worth of press cuttings, leading to Put Your Records On charting at 2. Somehow The Darkness sneak into the top ten at 8. Simon Webbe and Morning Runner are in the top 20, Maximo Park and Delays just outside, but we want to highlight instead the opening salvo in BMG's bright idea to recreate the Elvis number one run of last year by reissuing twenty Michael Jackson singles in nineteen weeks, one coming with a box. We're not actually sure they're limited edition, in fact, as there were loads of Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enoughs left in stores in midweek, whether through lack of publicity, lack of public trust in Jacko produce, the Jackson/Sony squabbles or just nobody being that arsed. The result - that single at 17, Thriller plus box selling just 6,000, and we all left wondering what the figures will be like when they get to Jam. At least Jose And His Amazing Technicolor Overcoat, the Irish radio Mourinho 'tribute' message boards LOL!!!!!11'd over towards the end of last year, has only managed 45. Albums wise Jack Johnson climbs five to topple the Monkeys (746,000 or so now sold, which would have put them 20th on the overall 2005 list) by less than a thousand copies despite both winning the same number of Brits. Post-awards spikes are pretty much the story of the chart apart from James Blunt falling to 7 and Neil Diamond's back to basics set entering at 5, which we have doubts about despite the positive reviews. It is, after all, Neil Diamond songs.

FREE MUSIC: American bands will keep doing this, won't they? Keeping their new UK single online free after the release date, we mean. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - In This Home On Ice

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: Kapowski, Northampton Jimmy Eat World-meets-Posies doomed romantics. Some people on the comments section are claiming they've split up a mere two weeks after their debut single release, but there's nothing on their label site (Small Town America, Jetplane Landing's own) so we'll run with it.

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: The next time Billy Corgan starts his cod-mystical theorising arseness, have this URL to hand - Corgan performs for defunct wrestling organisation ECW, not at all smoothly

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: We linked to a load of rare Madness TV performances the other day, which got us in a wondering mood and led us to a page of The Beat videos. We recommend Too Nice To Talk To, which attempts to tell the tale of a single from studio to shop.

HOW THE OTHER HALF LIVE: Fyfe Dangerfield of the Guillemots attempts to buy a new stereo. (Hear their music while you're round there, why not)

IN OTHER NEWS: We will keep banging on about Victorian English Gentlemens Club and their sparky Wire/Breeders/Magic Band collision, won't we? Luckily Fantastic Plastic have taken the lead in helping you actually hear them and put the video for new single Amateur Man on YouTube. Billie Piper's a fan, allegedly.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

In shops tomorrow: 27/2


The UK hype around Clap Your Hands Say Yeah seemed to die down the moment the album was released, which seems odd given it went top 30 and, as we remarked at the time, outdid Funeral at a stroke as far as the Guinness Book compilers are concerned. A similar new lack of interest seems to be busy blighting the chances of In This Home On Ice, not that Alec Ounsworth's vocal stylings were ever going to help it make a Radio 1 daytime breakthrough or anything. Henry Dartnall's hardly blessed with tones that would make Carrie and/or David Grant give up in disgust either, but at least the mix allows you to hear the words of Young Knives songs, which is the best way where Here Comes The Rumour Mill is concerned. Taking your time over an album, aren't you, by the way? Maybe they could drag the mainstream towards themselves as the Mystery Jets did by appearing on TOTP last week, an event made all the more out of place by the fact that the intro, back-announcement and caption all failed to mention how come the bloke on the left looked very much older than the rest of them, something covered in today's Sunday Times magazine Relative Values section ahead of said single The Boy Who Ran Away. The Rakes still can't find a commercial breakthrough inlet, although All Too Human gives it a good go, Jim Noir probably isn't overly bothered about acceptance from the kids if he's writing songs like Key Of C, and the decidedly odd Gogol Bordello were the subject of a bet between Moyles and Whiley about where Start Wearing Purple would chart. Buy it, send it top ten and watch Moyles lose a lot of money. You know it makes sense.


Looked back two posts for our considered opinion on the one release you must buy this week? Good. That just leaves Belle & Sebastian's curious stylistic mishmash of a contribution to the Late Night Tales series, proper indie revivalists The Research's Breaking Up and the harrowed more than harrowing return of Dan Treacy and The Television Personalities with My Dark Places.

The Weekly Sweep

McLusky - Fuck This Band
Battle - Tendency
Young Knives - Here Comes The Rumour Mill
Witness - Audition
Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers - She Cracked
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - In This Home On Ice
The Pipettes - Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me
Polytechnic - Pep
Rakes - All Too Human
Clinic - Tusk

Saturday, February 25, 2006

No New Wave No Fun *

We know we're a day ahead of usual new releases procedure, but we need to make you, the trustworthy STN reader, aware well in advance of the fact that McLusky, the greatest single British underground rock band of the 21st century and surely a future influence on a phalanx of bands, are releasing their hits compilation McLuskyism on the 27th, both in the forms of a beginner's singles collection and a three CD set incorporating B-sides, rarities, live versions and the like. Andy Falkous is typically, um, forthright:

I have more of a problem with the B-sides disc, even considering that the gaps between the songs are top fucking notch. Although I won't name them (It would be like pointing at a crippled son and shouting 'HE'S SO MUCH WEAKER THAN THE OTHER BOYS!'), some of the songs stunk the place out so much that I actually started crying at one point during mastering. Still, it gets better as it goes on, with occasional stage-managed lulls to keep things interesting.

The C-sides disc of demos, live songs and session tracks was a great idea, but you didn't have to compile it. You didn't have to shiftily sift through boxes upon boxes of unmarked CDRS, inlays helpfully marked with messages such as 'Song 3 has AIDS', or try to justify the time spent on it to yourself and the people who surround it. Certainly, I could have used those 6 or so hours more constructively, like for sleeping or petting a cat. To those who emailed and/or confronted me in the street demanding the inclusion of particular songs I say this - compile your own damn album.

Which pretty much sums up their songwriting approach, actually. As further proof:

McLusky - To Hell With Good Intentions
McLusky - Undress For Success
McLusky - That Man Will Not Hang

* We considered Fuck This Band strongly, but people may be reading this at work.

Brand awareness

It's just like the Brits nowadays, or so says popular opinion. Well, only the NME Awards winners' identities will be the judges of that...

Best British band - Arctic Monkeys
Best new band - Arctic Monkeys
They even give their own speeches now, getting to slag off Russell Brand, a deserved recurring theme throughout the night. Alex Turner suggested "who else was going to be Best British Band? You can't write about something that much and not be Best British Band", perhaps giving away too much.

Best Track - I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
As covered on the night by the Sugababes, which might qualify as the exact opposite of irony (it sounds like the original, only with slick session men run through ProTools) and opens up a mighty black hole in the time-cover version continuum. We're willing to bet at least one of them had never heard it before.

Best album - Employment
From what we've seen of the NME they appear to have turned their backs on the whole knock 'em down ethos and decided to completely ignore the Kaisers over the last few months.

Best solo artist - Kanye West
Conor McNicholas cares about black people. How he's still in the country given his promo and tour finished last week must have taken a Herculean effort in explanation by his PR, and we wonder just how much of it he understood.

John Peel music innovation award - Gorillaz
The Archies and Jive Bunny prepare sternly worded letters, although the explanatory film suggested it was more to do with the development of the live show, in which case fair enough. And before you argue further, consider this - last year, this award went to The Others.

Best live band - Franz Ferdinand
Yes, Ryan Jarman's back, but let's not overlook Iggy Pop, charged with handing the award over in Australia where both he and Franz are on Big Day Out duty, redesigning the award with the use of an apple, a biro and half a ciggie.

Best video - The Importance Of Being Idle
We don't see them as having turned up, somehow.

Best international band - The Strokes
As we recall, the first voting forms were in the last proper NME before Christmas, meaning a whole year of development was wiped out by the realisation their then new single led with a bass riff this time.

Radar award - Long Blondes
We're fairly cool on ver Blondes, in actual fact - Appropriation was decent enough, but Seperated By Motorways spent its span attempting to find out what a tune is. Good omens, though, as the last four winners of this award were the Coral, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Franz and Kaisers.

Best music DVD - Live 8
This was the lead-in for the Geldof/Brand/"cunt" rapier wit exchange that led to a good seventy hits to this very blog off Google in the 36 hours after the E4 broadcast. To be fair, Brand was rotten, as if on a bet to cram sordid sexual referencing into every award introduction, and Geldof did seem to be sticking to the party line that somehow all those votes counted as a reminder to world governments. We know Tony likes guitar music, but he's probably got other matters to hand than keeping an eye on this.

Best Event - Carling Weekend
Geldof went spare after the awards, by all accounts, claiming this one had been rigged in favour of part-award sponsors Carling. We have heard that Reading And Leeds did have a good year, in fact, but it seemed odd that this massive event would get an award for its selling as consumer goods but not for its actuality. There's something for Mean Fiddler to consider for this year.

Best TV show - Gonzo
Pfffft! At the fifth time of asking, and just as it has two fifths of its weekly time allowance cut, MTV2's supposed flagship beats all manner of higher profile shows to the award.

Best radio show - Zane Lowe
This was inevitable, however, although it is notable that nobody seems to particularly like his style other than industry professionals.

Best film - Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire
What demographic are they aiming at again? Do they really want to admit this in public?

Best Website - NME.COM
Oh for lord's sake. Who really votes for this every year?

Best Venue - Brixton Carling Academy

Hero Of The Year - Bob Geldof
Villain Of The Year - George Bush
Controversial villainy choice there, although it does at least disprove the theory that the NME is now just like Smash Hits as had that been the case Bush would have come second to spiders. Geldof has now, with its own sense of inevitability, been put forward for Nobel honours - bit early, aren't they? - even though not all of Make Poverty History openly see his side of the argument any more.

Best Dressed - Ricky Wilson
Worst Dressed - Justin Hawkins
And with all the work Christian Dior put in for his own favourite bands too.

Worst Album - Back To Bedlam

Worst Band - Son Of Dork
Because it's ex-Busted, or because they play guitars like only punks should do? You might as well give it to Fall Out Boy.

Sexiest Man - Pete Doherty
Fuck, we've been going the smart suit/urbanity route all these years. If we'd known it's a pork pie hat, pallid complexion and general air of car boot sale pro sleeping in his car combination that does it for the ladies...

Sexiest Woman - Madonna
Who in god's name were the other nominees? Kelly Osbourne? Grotbags? Presumably the voting numbers suffered a serious decline when it was realised Lucy Pinder has yet to record any music.

Godlike genius award - Ian Brown
Sweet of him to try and dedicate it to everybody in the world, less welcoming for him to then perform a version of I Wanna Be Adored featuring an intro that lasted about half an hour with a guitar part essayed by someone perhaps under heavy sedition.

FCUK not forever

As is always likely when Trevor Beattie's involved, the inevitable manufactured controversy is brewing about French Connection's new TV advert in which two women fight for ages and then - oh look - kiss. FCUK are of course slapping themselves on the back for their daringness in a way that didn't happen, as we recall, last March when the very same footage was put on top of Groove Cutters' dance version of Go West's We Close Our Eyes and only helped it to number 33. Not only are the advertising tactics second hand, then, so is the iconography.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


We're ill. Go and have a look at the South By South West showcase list instead, and perhaps let them know that they've put the wrong Battle track title up.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Excellent spot via Last Sound Of Summer, where Hampstead residents have found an unlikely supporter against a local bar's loud music (about three fifths of the way through)

Weekender : secretly written by Carter USM

CHART OF DARKNESS: The singles top four are as you were in a chart largely affected by the Brits - Kaiser Chiefs, James Blunt and Kanye West back in the top 40 - but also by plain old befuddlement, Will Young back in the top ten just because while Liz McClarnon, whose venture under her own name we thought had been about as warmly received as Davina McCall's, has the highest new entry at 5. She's not dating Fran Cosgrave again, is she? Friday Hill, Goldfrapp and the thought long passed by the national conscious Magic Numbers are also top 20 entries, Boy Kill Boy refuse just yet to pay back on the energy put into them at 26, Rhymefest fail(s) to gain too much from Kanye's input at 32, OK Go do the dance at 43 and The Research gain probably the most lo-fi top 50 entry in some time. The album chart has, as expected, an even more pronounced effect from the midweek exertions, actual Best Album winner X&Y up 13 at 8 but not outselling climbers Employment (not a great deal short of Whatever People...), Eye To The Telescope, In Between Dreams and Demon Days. Paul Weller's entire back catalogue is boosted but it's still good to see the Jam's no longer merely compact Snap, which does feature the proper versions of everything, entering at 10. We can't work out whether Beth Orton at 24 or Panic! At The Disco (seriously, don't overdo those titles) at 25 is more surprising.

FREE MUSIC: Sing-Sing's second album Sing-Sing And I was made with the help of fans' bank balances, not that you'd tell from Emma Anderson and Lisa O'Neill's development of their 60s girl group sound into something resembling, well, a less fuzzy Lush. Come Sing Me A Song demonstrates what we mean.

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: We're surprised more haven't picked up on Some By Sea. Pitched somewhere between the Decemberists and folky REM, debut album On Fire is released this week in America. Your turn, Pitchfork.

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: There's plenty of Tom Waits to go round, including an excellently shot live concert from Amsterdam in 2004, from which we pick the Muddy Waters-meets-Seven Dwarves of Don't Go Into That Barn.

BLOG ROLLING: Assistant Blog isn't purely musical, but it makes a lot of sense throughout.

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: We do tend to mention our review of Summer Sundae from last August quite a bit, largely because we think it's one of the best things we've ever done. We've got our ticket for this August's three days already, and we suggest you do too. In the meantime, part one of CanTV's long delayed documentary is now downloadable, featuring KT Tunstall, Ist, the Dirty Backbeats and, you'll be glad to know, no sign of us.

SECRET LIVES: Given we were talking to someone the other day about how we bought a Contempo single off eBay for 50p long before their singer Richard Archer came back with Hard-Fi, we thought we'd let everyone share the joys. From 1999, produced by Mick Jones, Contempo - U B Naughty

IN OTHER NEWS: If you're like us, you'll be spending much of these long winter months sitting back in an appreciably well stuffed favourite armchair, drawing heavily on something suckable and wondering "y'know, whatever did happen to Peter Brame?" You remember Peter Brame - he was the bloke from the second series of Fame Academy who seemed to believe he was actually Pete Doherty, all red military vintage jackets and wistful mumbling and later appropriately scaled down versions of famous woman squiring (Fearne 'Fearne Cotton tattoos' Cotton) and crack smoking. In fact, in the week we chanced across aninterview he gave Now! last July - regretful but getting on with a new band, you get the idea. Then... we found his Myspace page. Suffice to say his solo material sounds like what it is, that is to say co-written by members of Republica and Gay Dad.

UPDATE! UPDATE!: Silence Is A Rhythm Too has that Maximo Park/Field Music/J Xaverre remix referred to yesterday

Sunday, February 19, 2006

In shops tomorrow: 20/2


There's no real need for another single off A Certain Trigger, especially as all the reviews of the NME tour have run along the lines of "yay for the Arctic Monkeys! They're the best! Oh, and some new wave band headlined" (the same tour also acts as a reason for We Are Scientists to seperate It's A Hit from its parent With Love And Squalour), but Maximo Park have gone for I Want You To Stay anyway, with a Field Music/J Xaverre meeting of north east traditional powerhouses remix that turns it into a stately dirge. Not something that can be said about Celebration, whose War was linked here as a free mp3 a couple of weeks back, so you may well know about its Hammond organ-powered no wave madness already. We've not heard Wish I Never Loved You by the Buzzcocks, in all honesty, but as one of the few who have made a consistently good go of this reforming malarkey we feel confident in it.


Moshi Moshi is one of those labels that you always feel deserves to be among those indies currently surfing a wave of success beyond their means. Certainly they can make the stars, Bloc Party, the Go! Team and the Rakes all having debuted on the label and the first and last of those sanctioning tracks for nigh on unmissable five quid label sampler Can You Hear Me Clearly?. The Liars' days as post-punk revival first wavers has long since passed in favour of art school inhibitions, explored further on Drum's Not Dead, a mystical concept album (no, not like that) with an accompanying DVD featuring three videos for each track. A slightly bigger budget and a lot more linear sense awaits on Eels With Strings: Live At Town Hall, E's first live album and also out on DVD.

The Weekly Sweep

The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - Amateur Man
Vic Goddard & The Subway Sect - Ambition
Flaming Lips - The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
Jens Lekman - Pocketful Of Money
Arab Strap - Speed Date
Dream Academy - Life In A Northern Town
Neko Case - Star Witness
Be Your Own Pet - Adventure
Broken Social Scene - 7/4 (Shoreline)
Sing Sing - Sing Me A Song

Friday, February 17, 2006

Hang on a moment...

...Elbow are coercing more than a hundred children to chorus "we still believe in love, so fuck you?"

Meanwhile, bloody hell, reformation season continues apace with Marion and Midget. Nobody ever did come through with that request for an mp3 of the latter's Artwork, you know. Doesn't matter now.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Blunt and not the point

Contrary to previous reports, we won't be blogging the Brits coverage tonight as we're off out. No doubt all UK points west will be doing so instead, including No Rock'n'Roll Fun, Talent In A Previous Life and Delete As Appropriate (look right). While you're waiting, why not read early live reviews for both the Kaiser Chiefs and Runston Parva and Mantra Recordings' Parva page with videos. Or: Stylus' Go-Betweens interview, Billy Bragg's Amazon advice, an Auteurs video on Jamie's Runout Groove and a shedload of rare Madness videos.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Doherty Liberation Front

This is what those few recent Google searchers were looking for - The KLF, or whatever Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty are calling themselves now, issue a press release claiming to have invented the character of Pete Doherty. (By coincidence, the latest The Art Of Noise A-Z covers Drummond and Cauty's own backstory, while Bill's Soup Line and similar gubbins are dealt with under the umbrella title Penkiln Burn. Edelweiss are on holiday.)

Monday, February 13, 2006

A million love songs later...

Today is the tenth anniversary of Take That announcing their split. We'd have something to tie in with this but that would involve elements of advance preparation on our part. Anyway, here's a transcript of that press conference, which we recall MTV Europe showing live with John Kearns at whatever hotel it was at and Davina McCall linking from the studio. Looking serious, Jason?


Weekender : it's all Sean Rowley's fault this week

CHART OF DARKNESS: So yeah, Meck Featuring Leo Sayer goes to number one and suddenly it's seen as a big comeback for the bepermed funk-disco pariah. Nobody claimed there was a Steve Winwood revival going on last year but sure enough, here comes the repromoted Best Of. Gilbert O'Sullivan must be frantically calling his publishers day and night at the moment. BIG two, Ordinarys three, You Got The Love seems to attract new listeners with every release at 7, Fall Out Boy finally get the big hit over and done with at 8, Kubb prove the Travis-Coldplay-Keane-Athlete declining funnel of indie-MOR can bottom out yet at 18 and Antony Costa finds his reality show thunder long stolen at 19. The Alarm, now The Alarm MMVI doubtless for legal reasons, enter at 24, a position that puts that Poppyfields nonsense from a couple of years back into perspective, Bullet For My Valentine inevitably have a single out this week but not even the commercial track can lift them above 29, the quite decent for deep south crunk crips Three 6 Mafia are at 33 and the quite rubbish for everything El Presidente steal in at 39. Tatu pay the price for having Sting and Dave Stewart on one song and enter at 48, the Ying Yang Twins continue to find the country politely looking the other way at 49 and Mew's 12 track single somehow doesn't prohibit them from racking up a number 53. Stasis is the album chart watchword with Blunt back at 2 behind you know who while Clarkson returns to the top ten and Mathis keeps a'climbing, while Belle & Sebastian's extended tribute to Guilty Pleasures production values is the highest new entry at 8. Johnny Cash unsurprisingly still climbs, this week at 11, while also entering are Chris Brown at 29 (one below a prematurely accelerating Take That), another Elvis compilation at 39, Sway's giveaway This Is My Demo at 45, Ashlee Simpson - who knew Clarkson would have copyists so quickly? - at 50, a heartening appearance for Sparks at 66 and, remarkably, a third Jack Johnson album. Imagine how he'll sell when someone notices.

FREE MUSIC: Coldcut's new album Sound Mirrors still finds them plotting no course but their own through glitch techno, laptop acoustics and, on True Skool, Roots Manuva-helped party hip hop.

BARGAIN HUNT: Clearly loathe to give up on a good thing just yet, the HMV sale has regenerated into a just slightly different form, one that's giving REM's two best major label albums, Green and Out Of Time, away for £4.99.

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: You may know J Xaverre's backstory already, the drummer off Kenickie and brother of her off CD:UK making laptop Sparklehorse-meets-Manitoba/Caribou-meets-LA psychedelia on corking 2003 debut These Acid Stars. There's previews of his next album, ETA late spring, up now and properly downloadable, which throw the Shins and nu-folk into the mix.

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: Devo do Jocko Homo on Saturday Night Live in 1979, with Booji Boy and General Boy 'explaining' all at the start.

BLOG ROLLING: The Polyphonic Spree have wedged back into the studio, The Fragile Army following their progress through various members' own words, including guest pianist and longtime Bowie associate Mike Garson.

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: WFMU's Beware Of The Blog is the gift that keeps on giving. Giving in this case, Shut Up and Play Volume One - Forgettable Moments on Stage, a collection of live banter of a slightly disturbing stripe, including the fabled Fall onstage fight in New York (speaking of which, they were on Radio 3's Mixing It the other night - get it while it's still on Listen Again) and assorted 'distracted' musings of Morrison, Love, Presley etc.

IN SHOPS TOMORROW ADDENDUM: A forthcoming Hefner compilation might just earn Darren Hayman the songwriting credit he deserves, but until then there's his debut commercially available album Table For One.

IN OTHER NEWS: The final Smash Hits is out now, and if it's the same one we saw in WH Smith today it comes with a free notebook and polka dot design pen, promises 'Secret Celeb Snogs!' as the main cover feature and makes a big thing of McFly's pecs. And EMAP wonder how it all went so wrong.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

In shops tomorrow: 13/2


OK Go's A Million Ways is fine clipped New Wave surfing a post-Ricky Gervais zeitgeist of 'doing the dance', Levy provide understated thrills on On The Dancefloor, Sparks continue to danc to nobody's tune but their own on Perfume, Boy Kill Boy fulfil the British Killers But With Scary Eyed Frontman gap with Back Again, and the spirit of proper indie returns with The Research's Lonely Hearts Still Beat The Same, an anti-Valentine's song released in Valentine's week, as would have been inevitable.


Galashiels' Dawn Of The Replicants, now up to a decade's service, are still throwing everything at an amplified wall and seeing what sticks on Fangs, while from across oceans Tilly And The Wall do their Rilo Kiley/Bright Eyes/Ronettes with a tap dancer thing on Wild Like Children - good work to pick that one up, Moshi Moshi. Otherwise it's mostly repackaging old songs, what with The Bands 06 and the like. Our tiny minds are fascinated by Pop Jr 2, a curious melange of pop hits and kids' show themes (the Pants Dance!); the musical explorer in us really needs to fill the knowledge hole catered for by Tropicalia: A Brasilian Revolution In Sound, while our rockist tendencies draw us towards the doubled in length The Jam best of Snap. We won't hear of it, however, if like the original Compact Snap it retains the fully electrified demo version of That's Entertainment, passing it off as having "a certain quality that was never captured again". No, the later versions are good.

The Weekly Sweep

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - In This Home On Ice
Young Knives - Here Comes The Rumour Mill
Morrissey - Dear God, Please Help Me
Clinic - Tusk
Felt - Ballad Of The Band
Battle - Tendency
Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly - Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager Part 1
XTC - This Is Pop
OK Go - A Million Ways
His Name Is Alive - Your Bones

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Roman holiday

For no particular reason, for another in our occasional series of international singles charts we alight in Italy:

20 Bob Sinclar feat. Gary Nesta Pine - Love Generation
Elsewhere KT Tunstall and Antony & The Johnsons both enter the singles top 40 and, perhaps in the only chart in the world where this will be the case, in the album chart top 40 Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan have entered higher than the Arctic Monkeys.

19 Sugababes - Push The Button
Amelle didn't really sound that committed to picking up on their success on CD:UK this morning, but we're hoping she fits in if only because we want to see her and Heidi push Keisha out in a couple of years and replace her to instigate a Menudo by democracy-esque circle of pop life.

18 Pharrell - Angel
His album's just been moved back a month. Evidently the whole Skateboard P line's not quite selling itself yet.

17 Depeche Mode - A Pain That I’m Used To
See, they really are still huge in Europe.

16 Black Eyed Peas - My Humps
It's lucky they've already had Where Is The Love? as otherwise this might have become their career calling card. Revelation in the new Word: Fergie is a big Fawlty Towers fan.

15 Chris Brown - Run It
Tappahannock in the house! His second single's called Yo!, which surely he won't be allowed to get away with here.

14 Lee Ryan - Turn Your Car Around
Because you applied the brakes too late and allowed him time to get out of the way on the first run.

13 Finley - Tutto E’ Possibile
Everything Is Possible, we think, from what suggests is an Italian Son Of Dork.

12 Prince - Te Amo Corazon
You've not missed something, it's from his new album and isn't currently scheduled for single release here. Who still trusts new Prince records is another matter entirely.

11 Antonino - Ce La Faro
The Italian Pop Idol winner with a song written by a Swede. We think we can guess what it's like.

10 Elisa - Swan
You just know that a song called Swan will be a female singer emoting about the worth of self-betterment, and so it proves. It's in English too, so we can all enjoy lines like "and now you’re looking at the sky talking to your angel/Could he turn this dirty street into a flying carpet?"

9 Richard Ashcroft - Break The Night With Colour
It's still a more incisive couplet than most of this, of course. Look out for the TV advert and its preposterously overblown laudatory adjectives.

8 Haiducii - More’n’More (I Love You)
Not a Japanese Il Duce but a female Romanian who did the original of Dragostea Din Tei. You know, O Zone's baffling summer mini-hit from last year and future inspiration for sodding Numa Numa.

7 Mattafix - Big City Life
Are you still here? We may never do an international top 20 without this being in there somewhere.

6 Robbie Williams - Advertising Space
Apparently Robbie described his new songs to Stephen Duffy as "depressive New Wave folk". Well, one out of three.

5 Studio 3 - Solo Te
Not to be confused with Studio B (I See Girls) or Studio 3 (AKA Shy FX), although we imagine it's not dissimilar to the former.

4 Povia - I Bambini Fanno Oh
Hirsute acoustic guitar playing gentlemen, not unlike him out of Reef, who played at the Rome Live 8, described on AOL's commentary as a song that "barely keeps the tired crowd energized". We see.

3 Hilary Duff - Wake Up
Is it her that has the PR stunt rivalry with Lindsay Lohan, or Ashlee Simpson? They all merge into one eventually if you stop caring at the outset.

2 Mondo Marcio - Dentro Alla Scatola
That most distressing of ideas, Italian hip hop. Italian-American rappers are bad enough.

1 Madonna - Hung Up
It's probable that somewhere in the world a gossip magazine, website or column has been running Madonna And Guy Split stories since the day after their wedding, just in case. How much of her time do you actually think she spends in the London she expends so much time and effort on extolling?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Reg "Reg" Snipton too choked up to comment

"sarah connor was gunna be a huuggee star then smash hits did a feature and shes the biggest selling german ever, wow, all down to smash hits, sarah connor u thank smash hits" Um, yeah. Luckily there's more lucid stuff on Popjustice's Smash Hits Forever site, which closes for new messages tonight. A message from Mark Ellen's on page five as we type.

Meanwhile, Mark Lamarr's Buzzcocks stand-ins are announced, most of which were inevitable really. Dale Winton? Oh lord.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Messrs Amstell and Oliver are to leave T4's only vaguely watchable output in April, just like they said they would. So obviously that's going to join the unwatchability pile to complement the ending of CD:UK and the pinball scheduling of TOTP. We'll say it again - why is TV constantly trying to create markets for pop stars when at the same time potential output sources are being finished?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

mp3ing With Thee

It's the sort of announcement that we say should be greeted with joy unconfined on the streets of the nation, yet actually seems to have passed by unnoticed - not only have Liverpool's foremost Velvets-Wire-garage-surf-psychs Clinic got a new single out, but it's entirely gratis on mp3 from their website. If that's too complicated for you, it's Tusk 'backed' with Jigsaw Man, but pop into the main site nevertheless for an archive full of rare videos, radio sessions and their performance on Letterman. Oh, they did alright...

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While we're on the subject of American chat shows, Vinyl Is Sin have Broken Social Scene's dangerously overmanned Conan O'Brien guest spot.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Weekender : watch out, here it comes

CHART OF DARKNESS: Stasis at the top of both lists, which allows the line to develop that the singles chart news of the week is the pre-eminence of Celebrity Big Brother over everything ever ever ever as proven, with Boys Will Be Boys up six to three and You Spin Me Round in at five ("Pete Burns must be the only person in the country who isn't happy (about it)" - Teletext; "Bollocks!" - the country). Lidl Usher Chris Brown enters between Biggie and Preston at 2, Ashlee Simpson goes the blogger-pleasing screechy pop-rock route at 12, the decline of interest in 50 Cent's self-appointed machismo continues as his single charts six below where his film got to in the UK box office at 7, professional babe magnet Lee Ryan's sideline gets him to 15, someone called Jesse McCartney is at 17, Bon Jovi find enough fans from somewhere to land at 19, the Go! Team's combination of be-crash helmeted TOTP prancing and TV soundtrack domination gets them to 26 and Mogwai make a top 40 debut at 38. Blunt, Young and, um, Chiefs all climb the album charts on the back of Brits mentions, Brassbound continues its own rise at 11 (how come GLC haven't had a noticeable sales spike?), Johnny Mathis actually climbs for some reason to 12 - god, not another easy listening revival - a Rod Stewart album appears from nowhere at 16, fellow housewife's favourite Michael Buble can only manage 25, Johnny Cash enters the top 30 for only the ninth time and most of those were compilations (At San Quentin got to number two, mind) and Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan make a truly surprising entry at 38. The Go! Team and Richard Hawley both make top 50 debuts while the post-ironic ELO revival only takes their latest Best Of to 55.

FREE MUSIC: There are those who say Neko Case is wasted on New Pornographers duties, a line of thought unlikely to be derailed by the gorgeous Star Witness from new album Fox Confessor Brings The Flood.

BARGAIN HUNT: Not a bargain at all, but an album that slipped past our In Shops radar undeservedly : The Gossip - Standing In The Way Of Control, Arkansas female-fronted soul-discopunk produced to an unbuffed shine by Fugazi's Guy Picciotto. Hear the title track and see what we mean.

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: Early Autumn Break - passed on by our friends at The Laboratory Of Adult Rock, delicate harmonic new-folk from, almost implausibly, Dusseldorf.

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: Broken Social Scene on Conan via YouTube

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: Haven't heard much from Irish DIY melodic post-hardcore heroes Jetplane Landing for a while but apparently they're studio bound, so get acquainted in advance from their well stocked download/audio index.

IN OTHER NEWS: We got linked on ILM. Do we get a medal for that?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

In shops tomorrow: 6/2


The decidedly odd Television Personalities return single All The Young Children On Crack, All The Young Children On Smack (we gather Top Of The Pops Reloaded won't be shifted on their booking decision) is 7" only, so the only linkable single of note this week is the mighty roar of Mew featuring J Mascis' Why Are You Looking Grave?, a twelve track CD featuring assorted skeletal versions, remixes and live cuts of the best song on last year's Top 10 Of 2005 album. It's virtually a box set of itself!


If you only buy one new album this week... you should save more. Otherwise, The Minus 5's The Gun Album (although technically it's self titled) is Scott McCaughey's best excursion yet into 60s roots power-pop, like the Beach Boys with a hangover. Fresh from being Robyn Hitchcock's backing band, McCaughey's usual sidemen of Peter Buck and Bill Rieflin are here joined by Jeff Tweedy (as usual), Colin Meloy, Ken Stringfellow from the Posies and many, many others. Elsewhere, Belle & Sebastian's The Life Pursuit is scrappy but well intentioned, Robert Pollard won't let the erosion of Guided By Voices stop him putting anything and everything written and recorded out, it's just now under his own name with 'debut' album From A Compound Eye, Sparks still sound like every conceivable style of music pounded together on Hello Young Lovers, Prefuse 73 sees Scott Herren return to his instrumental cut-up glitch-hop on the 17 track 'mini-album' Security Screenings, the Spinto Band revive Pavement on Nice And Nicely Done and a heap of Ride reissues are led by OX4 - The Best Of.

The Weekly Sweep

Neko Case - Star Witness
Minus 5 - Rifle Called Goodbye
Shortwave Set - Repeat To Fade
Tilly and The Wall - Reckless
Sing Sing - Sing Me A Song
Flaming Lips - The W.A.N.D.
Raconteurs - Store Bought Blues
The Boy Least Likely To - Be Gentle With Me
Arab Strap - Speed Date
The Like - June Bloom

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Black Type black armband

Not back, back, back any more, as Smash Hits is closing - not that anyone over 14 can have read it for a good five years or so (we've heard the last consumer report had its average reader age at 10, which is older than when we first saw it but at least we expected most of its readers to be much older), but those of us between, let's say, 22 and 36 are entitled to feel shocked and not a little saddened that that masthead won't be on the shelves from the middle of the month. Anything launched by Nick Logan and driven by David Hepworth and Mark Ellen must have something going for it, and what it did have was finding the niche market through remembering what pop music is supposed to be and selling it to kids disenfranchised by a 'proper' music press caught between the punk devil and the post-Paul Morley seriousness deep blue sea, bringing lyrics and posters to the masses. To quote from The New Republic: "In 1981, Smash Hits editor David Hepworth sent a memo to record company press departments that read: "It is my intention to reverse the entire direction of [popular music publishing] in favor of entirely trivia.... We want to know the colour of your artists' socks." And he succeeded. In the first six months of 1979, Smash Hits drew an audience of 166,000 to NME's 202,000; but by the end of 1984 Smash Hits' readership had swelled to over half a million, while NME's had dwindled to 123,000", a number which famously included Antony Hegarty via airmail in California. May we put our name down for the funeral march to 52-55 Carnaby Street, and hope we're joined by Fab Macca Wackythumbsaloft, Dame David Bowie, Ken, Dick Spatsley, Ver Spands, Ben Vol-Au-Vent Parrot and all points west.

Morten Harket's Purple Right Sock, Leicestershire

Surely a portent of something major

Aren't guitar bands meant to ironically cover pop acts?

Anyhow, neither appear in the Village Voice Pazz & Jop '05 results, which prove if nothing else that Robert Christgau and friends are the opposite of George Bush. In other news, The Onion AV Club claim Johnny Marr is writing for the next Modest Mouse album, You Ain't No Picasso have both sides of the Raconteurs 7", Spoilt Victorian Child chats to Martin Carr, Stereogum reports on The Indie Rock Cookbook which actually isn't as distressing a prospect as it sounds, and links to Cat Power videos new and old/curious, and KCRW thought to take some cameras into the studio to record an Arctic Monkeys session.

Also: we have our ticket for Summer Sundae (well, reserved one), on sale as of today. Last year we were there nearly all Friday, Saturday and Sunday.