Friday, March 31, 2006

A Friendly Chat With... Jeremy Warmsley

Image hosting by Photobucket To launch A Friendly Chat With, our irregular (ie we may do more but don't hold your breath for one every week) interview feature, the wide-ranging, occasionally electronically enhanced Transgressive Records singer-songwriter rapidly building a richly deserved reputation, as you'll know from our highlighing him on this week's Weekender or from hearing Phill Jupitus play Dirty Blue Jeans, the lead track from his forthcoming EP Other People's Secrets, as his 6 Music Breakfast single of the week a couple of weeks ago.

STN: How did the evolution into guitar plus electronics come about? Do you see a great deal of kinship with the recent wave of singer-songwriters wielding laptops (Patrick Wolf, Tunng, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly)?
JW: I've never used a laptop in my life, actually. I like Patrick Wolf, well the first album anyway. Not really heard anything by the other guys. I think my new record will surprise people - it's a lot less electronic and a lot more, erm, production-y, I think. The first record, I was very constrained by what I was able to do, and I think that lead to me expressing stuff in very particular ways; lots of electro beats and spiky guitars because that's all I had to hand. The new one, I had a lot more options, I used a lot of other musicians, there's loads more textures and sounds and stuff. (And better songs, too). There's still lots of synths and drum machine sounds and weird impossible noises but they're more integrated into the song, and there's other things going on.

STN: Is there a particular way you construct the songs? How important is the lyrical content in the great scheme of things?
JW: They come out different every time, really, but generally I'll have a lyrical idea and a musical idea and I'll put the two together and they'll develop together. Quite often both the original ideas will disappear in the evolution of the song. I'm very interested in lyrics, I like to tell stories or express things that I think are important, and obviously you have to have a certain level of literal meaning in your lyrics for that to be possible. And of course the sound of the words is very important musically.

STN: Name three albums that were crucial in your development and three recent ones that you've been listening to.
JW: Three important records: Radiohead - Kid A, Rain Dogs - Tom Waits, Kate Bush - Hounds Of Love.
Three recent records: 7 New Songs Of Mount Eerie - Mount Eerie, Everything Ecstatic - Four Tet and Campfire Songs - Animal Collective.

STN: What can we expect from the forthcoming tour, bearing in mind you've talked in the past about not wanting to sound like the records?
JW: It'll be me and a piano player, and I'll be switching between various instruments. Don't want to sound like the records, also can't, without resorting to backing tracks. (Backing tracks are rubbish). Anyone who saw me with Regina Spektor: it'll be a bit like that.

STN: What were the Mystery Jets' already fabled Eel Pie Island gigs like from the performer's perspective?
JW: A bit like a cross between an open mike night and the best club in London. They had some pretty dodgy bands on, and also some of the best bands around. And the atmosphere was incredible. Everyone knew the Jets were going places. Blaine & co are amongst the friendliest people I know; open to anything and possessed with a joy for life that infects everything they do. Also it was an enormous piss-up.

STN: There's been three very good videos so far - is that something you've had input with?
JW: Thank you. The first video was conceived jointly with my brother; the idea was to get four different directors to make four films that would segue perfectly into each other, and that was reflect the lyrical content of what was happening into the song at the time. It's a bit shambolic but quite endearing, I hope; I'm quite proud of it. The other videos were directed by Ben Rollason, who is an unbelievably talented man, and the ideas were all his, although we did talk them back and forth quite a lot.

STN: Is the talked about early EP compilation still on the way? What else have you got planned for the next few months?
JW: Yep, "The Art Of Fiction" should appear something in late summer, although it's not really an EP compilation any more - it has eight tracks off my first few releases and three new recordings. Everything's been remixed and edited a bit and played with, which will probably really fuck certain people off, but it was stuff I wanted to change so they'll just have to deal with it. Apart from that I'm on tour all of April which will be fun, I hope. Then I have my first proper single in June, a few festivals... I'm playing this weird arty festival in Denmark called Nova Forma that looks amazing. I'm also starting a label to put out some recordings by my piano player, Tom Rogerson, who is an inconceivably good piano player. So it's all looking good.

Many thanks to Jeremy, whose homepage is here and Myspace is here, both of which feature his April tour dates. Other People's Secrets is out in a run of 500 10"s on April 10th, available to pre-order through Transgressive. A couple more mp3s from his site while we're about it: After The Fact and I Keep The City Burning.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Zane low

According to Broadcast, Simon Amstell's replacement on Popworld will be Alex Zane. Good news, then, we won't have to keep getting up early on a Saturday.

Sorry to return to an old topic, but these really are odd times for music on terrestrial television. Not just because there are three weeks left of imperial phase Popworld, but TOTP Reloaded finished last weekend not with a bang but with its now usual belief that comedic sketches are more important to a music show than music, while its father programme has just been shunted to another day entirely by coverage of Crufts. This Saturday meanwhile sees the end of CD:UK, axed despite rising audience figures - Blaze are trying to sell it to Sky, we hear, with which we wish them good luck because they'll need it - and adding yet another to the list of TV Lauren Laverne vehicles that crash and burn on impact. It's not her fault, we're sure. More people seem to be going to the Album Chart Show than watching it, unsurprisingly at that time, and it doesn't help that presenter Joe Mace is also series producer of that new BBC Saturday morning programme. Jools is back in May, but that's not the same. Yet within the next three months you'll hear of at least two seperate attempts to put on a prime-time pop programme, one of which will pride itself on being based on Hit 40 UK's chart even though the former Network Chart has been mined several times to miniscule levels of success. Given how most of Saturday evening telly seems to work off music at a base level, why can't anyone make a consistent go of broadcasting it as a standalone option any more?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Update: William Shatner upgraded to 'ironically brilliant'

The problem we have with Worst Of All Time polls in the music press is how they're even more reductive than the canon that commands what appears at the top of Best Of polls. A couple of celebrity efforts, a couple of covers albums, something that can be dismissed with the phrase 'hasn't dated', something knowingly controversial, never mind the quality, feel the column inches. With that in mind, let's see what Q magazine has this week named as the ten worst albums ever:

1 Duran Duran - Thank You
These days any band with a keyboard and a jacket is instantly deemed to have been heavily influenced by Duran Duran, even if, like most of them, it's Duran Duran as heard through polystyrene with the treble turned off. This was their celebrated, if not in the positive sense, covers album, featuring versions of 911 Is A Joke - and exactly how did this influence prime Duran Duran? - and White Lines that became standing national jokes for about three months as well as a cover that you or I could knock up a better version of in Paint in five minutes. It also apparently includes a retitled cover of their own The Chauffeur. The whole of musical history to go at and that's where they end up? All the same, you can't knock the feeling that this is only at number one to see how many irate letters they get. Amazon: "Customers who bought music by Duran Duran also bought music by these artists: Arcadia, Power Station, Spandau Ballet, John Taylor, Human League." What wide ranging tastes those grown-up Durannies have.

2 Spice Girls - Any of their solo albums
Right. Stop right the fuck there. Apart from a set of well-meaning cover versions, the worst music ever collected into a 40 minute or so package, according to the opinion of trained musical experts, has been made by former Spice Girls. Mel B's Timbaland-produced I Want You Back, which made number one despite sounding like a loop of a zombie playing the Addams Family theme? Unworthy of the term 'music', it says here. Mel C's Ga Ga, off her first album, which is a better Garbage song than anything Garbage have recorded since 1998? Not worth the effort. That last Emma Bunton album of knowing 60s soundalikes that included an Astrud Gilberto track and generally sounded like it had actually had a budget put to good use? Paste pearls. Are Victoria Beckham records ("one of her many attempts at career resurrection" reckons the Independent report on this, because of course nobody would ever have heard of her otherwise) in any way bad? Well, no, they're guilty by association, but we could name plenty of more actively offensive records before we get to any of hers. Including Geri Halliwell's, but there's only so far they can go. Of course they've put this in with an eye on the forthcoming tenth anniversary and alleged reformation, which constantly seem to be reported as "the Spice Girls are reforming - oh no, they'll be shit again!", followed by "the Spice Girls aren't reforming any more - what idiots they are for not wanting to revive the Spice magic, eh?" without grasping the irony. Still, more fool those periodicals that put solo Spices on their covers, eh? You know, like Q did with Mel C in 1999.

3 Various Artists - Urban Renewal: the Songs of Phil Collins
Urban Renewal? No idea on that front. This is the R&B reappropriation compilation from 2001 that when this piece is written up will contain many smirking references to Fur-Q from The Day Today, a series never broadcast in America. Actually Collins, who's always been partial to the jazz, funk and sometimes both together backing, has always been well sampled in the urban community, and who doesn't want to hear Ol' Dirty Bastard doing Sussudio? There's many worse covers albums on record store shelves, usually released on Scandinavian labels, it's just none of them allow smug writers to go "baldy!"

4 Lou Reed - Metal Machine Music
Well, obviously it is. It's not exactly meant to be great pop by its nature. Strangely, there appears to be no sign of anything else from the burgeoning in its own field noise music scene or the experimental sound wave likes of Pan Sonic. Or, for that matter, Neil Young's Arc, which is pretty much the same thing as this.

5 Billy Idol - Cyberpunk
It's called Cyberpunk, which is a bad start, and it's by Billy Idol, which is worse. There were a fair share of people blending heavy riffing, technological buzzwords and basic synths and sequencers around for a good six to eight years up to this album's 1993 release, and it's a bit rich to start accusing Billy Idol of being a cariacature of a nouveau future punk. The ironic revival can only be months away.

6 Naomi Campbell - Babywoman
House! Again, you'd be able to write the blurb for this one without mentioning the music at all - you didn't buy the book or so much as see it on sale, so why do you care who wrote it so much? - and while we don't like to think what she did with Ride A White Swan, we recall single Love And Tears (co-produced by Tim Simenon) being a swooning Massive Attack-like thing with very much passable smoky vocals, remembering that this was in the days before Autotune was prevalent and thus surely no worse than the treated seriously pop careers of Lopez, Duff, Lohan etc. Bizarrely, a lot of the US Amazon reviews include variants on the line "buy Sade instead", as if some misguided street team was let loose around 2001.

7 Kevin Rowland - My Beauty
As Dexys officially become an influence, it's been interesting to watch critical opinion on his Creation Records sinker change. At the time, while nobody enjoyed the infamous dress-wearing cover - oh, but you've all got The Man Who Sold The World - and when the sales figures were released the laughter could be heard as far as the Reading Festival, the reviews were unanimously positive, Uncut's man calling it "one of the best albums I'll hear in my life". Again, you're calling out Kevin Rowland for overemoting his vocals?

8 Mick Jagger - Primitive Cool
We'd never heard of this before but it turns out to be the one with Let's Work on it, which surely has to place it higher in the critical spectrum if only for that Top Of The Pops of it performance where he utilised every stage in the studio, a load of kids following most of his moves.

9 Westlife - Allow Us To Be Frank
As Word once pointed out, one of the single worst album titles of all time, and they didn't even have the good grace to go with a recreation of the celebrated Rat Pack Sands Hotel shot on the cover. (In fact there were two covers, the other suggesting Christopher Dean had joined the band) The whole jazz-lite revival that spurred this on was one of the most hateful moments in modern music, surely only superceded by the current thought that the vast tenets and strictures of opera can be represented by Russell Watson and the fat lad out of G4, and given Robbie Williams, who probably had the cheek to think he could sound like Holmby Hills was his spiritual home after all, didn't manage it four balladeers in artfully unknotted bow ties were never going to. But who was the Joey Bishop of the group?

10 Tin Machine - Tin Machine II
"So which one of you is Dave?" It's possible from this distance to see what Bowie was up to here, just about, as this period bridged the pseudy, overreaching Glass Spider tour and the rediscovery of musical satisfaction and experimentation over his 80s commercialities. (This doesn't fit easily with ChangesBowie, the legend re-establishing hits compilation that was the second album we ever bought, and the accompanying hits tour, but never mind). Bowie apparently wasn't overly keen on the project by now and this was released independently, but it introduced him to drum'n'bass era cohort Reeves Gabrels and, you imagine, surely can't be all that bad. Never Let Me Down, on the other hand...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Weekender : the hymn for the things we didn't do

CHART OF DARKNESS: Bit rushed this week, so you might have to make up some of your own barely hidden invective. The useless Ne-Yo is somehow number one, up 17, ahead of Embrace with what they used to call stadium power balladry. Maybe Danny and/or Richard should buff up their hair a bit. Pink's satire - it's better than anything Bremner's done for years - is at four. New York watchers will note the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at 18 and the Strokes at 25, and oddly Kooks, of all slightly whiney bands, are the only download-only top 40 entry. It's not worth bothering with the albums, not in this Mother's Day week.

FREE MUSIC: Jeremy Warmsley's laptop singer-songwriter thrown through a plate glass window style is winning him friends all the time, and a hookup with England's newest hitmakers Transgressive Records (where is that Good Books EP, by the way?) can't hinder. 5 Verses pitches its tent somewhere between the distinct fields of Jarvis Cocker, early solo Brian Eno and Four Tet's more accessible moments.

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: 3hostwomexicansandatinofspanners. Mmm. Not a superb start, and anyone who describes themselves purely in terms of what they aren't is off to a bad start with us. Luckily, any band that sounds like McLusky, but more furious after a Dischord Records fashion, is alright by our dark side.

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: They never do visual promotion, you know. Half Man Half Biscuit live in Liverpool last year, doing The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Is The Light Of An Oncoming Train and Back In The DHSS family favourite Fuckin' 'Ell It's Fred Titmuss. If you don't understand this bit, get off this site at once.

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: For a limited time only, Sound Of The Suburb reviews Davey Henderson's back catalogue

IN OTHER NEWS: We were going to do that new Q Worst Albums Of All Time list here, but that deserves a proper thorough rant later in the week. Instead, RIP Nikki Sudden of notoriously shambolic but hugely influential to the US underground Swell Maps.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

In shops tomorrow: 27/3


We know it's a show currently doing a decent impression of a cartoon fish suddenly deprived of a tank to swim in, but Top Of The Pops' guest booking continues to surprise us, especially last week when right out of the pack they picked out the Secret Machines' Lightning Blue Eyes, not as capable of swallowing cities whole as their first album singles but still propelling itself neatly. Morrissey's on tonight doing You Have Killed Me, the first single from an album that finds his stock caught between mid-90s post-Madstock public ennui and the critical hosannahs of his return two years ago. See, we've all moved on, to bands like Editors, who stop re-releasing all their old singles for a moment to bring out All Sparks. They're making an impact in America at the moment in the old fashioned touring their arse off way, perhaps not realising that there's a new approach to breaking into hipster collections, namely getting your name heard around mp3 blogs. Such is the route foisted upon Guillemots, whose early singles compilation From The Cliffs is out here on import only this week in the same week their scope grows ever wider on We're Here. There's a possible thesis, isn't there, in how UK hype targets are straight ahead four men with guitars outfits such as Arctic Monkeys, the Libertines adn their bubbles and indeed Editors, while those who decide what constitutes a buzz band in North America prefer their six string wielders to take it further out, hence the growing reputation of the Go! Team and, to an extent, Art Brut stateside alongside the likes of Wolf Parade, the Decemberists and, most notably, Broken Social Scene, whose 7/4 (Shoreline) should have had a lot more attention than it has given the controlled mess of an album nearly breached the top 75. It's one of our favourites of 2006, in any case, so it should be one of yours. Also to keep an eye out for if not to buy via an easy link, the 60s R&B-flavoured full frontal charge of Keep Dancing by Six Nation State.


It now sounds a bit like quite a lot else, just a superior version, but in 1981 David Byrne and Brian Eno's My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, now remastered with the Koran-quoting track dropped just to annoy 'censorship! Everywhere is censored!' reactionary fools (we hope), sounded like nothing on earth. Conceived as a set of fake tribal field recordings, what emerged was a melange of found sounds and early sampling, the polyrhythmic post-punk-funk the recent Talking Heads album Fear Of Music (although it became delayed until after the pair's further adventures into effect-laden funk Remain In Light) had mined under Eno's guidance and the point in the musical Venn diagram where processed instruments, early hip hop beats and transcendental tribalism interlock. A small area, as you can imagine. We'd guess Massive Attack's 3D listened to it a bit in his musical apprenticeship, as his love of the dark side of post-punk has come to the fore at times during the band's lifespan, usually just before a major schism emerges. (Fact: during the Mezzanine sessions they intended to cover the Clash's Straight To Hell with Horace Andy singing, only to find Andy is so religious he refused to sing the word 'hell'.) It's the soul sides the kids go for, though, and everything is represented on stop-gap best of Collected. What did happen to Mushroom? There's no easy way of getting from this to the eponymous debut by be your own PET, so let's not try and make one. At least it's easier to play the ballsy frontwoman card when connecting their 14 tracks in 29 minutes rocket power to the less immediate but with fresh gold emerging over listens Show Your Bones by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Finally, the one we really have been waiting for, as The Best Of Hefner 1996-2002 showcases the Peel favoured Proper Indie standard bearers from their stripped back first two albums, forensically examining love under recording budgetary constraints, the full figured We Love The City and punter confusing electropop of Dead Media, all shot through with Darren Hayman's if not black then certainly grey humour and insight. Get the lot, or just this if it's easier. Hayman's spiritual father Elvis Costello's Very Best Of...And The Attractions is meanwhile being reissued, having originally come out in 1994. We have no idea why, but it's as good an intro to his finest work as you'll find.


You wouldn't think much could come of a Gorillaz live show, but Albarn, Hewlett and co managed it by virtually sidelining the cartoons, and hence characters, themselves and just putting on a big show, recorded for posterity on Demon Days Live. Passing over the inevitably easy link into the week's, nay, year's, least likely live DVD release, The Higsons - I Don't Want To Live With Monkeys Live, we find the Skatalites, still nearly at full strength despite well advanced years and still capable of getting an audience moving. Live At The Lokerse Feesten 1997 And 2002 demonstrates their craft.


What do you suppose The Eight Legged Atomic Dustbin Will Eat Itself by Martin Roach is about? Yes, it's a now fully updated reissue of the 1992 history of the Stourbridge scene, just as all three main players have reformed to a more selective audience.

The Weekly Sweep

Futureheads - Skip To The End
Mew - The Zookeeper's Boy
Hope Of The States - Blood Meridian
Fratellis - Creepin' Up The Backstairs
Hefner - Love Will Destroy Us In The End
Sigur Ros - Hoppipolla
Larrikin Love - Edwould
Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
The Crimea - White Russian Galaxy
Voom Blooms - Politics And Cigarettes

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Field music

As we've been dropping in thoughts about summer events recently, we thought we'd go back to our festival preview post from the other week and update it with what's going on. As clearly there are too many events masquerading themselves as festivals these days we're only listing proper multi-day events, not those spread over a number of gigging venues or one day affairs in parks. Leave the latter to local commercial radio.

Wychwood, Cheltenham racecourse
Dates: 2nd-4th June
Tickets: £85, but you can take your car on site. Paperless ticketing, though, the bane of the site entrants' life.
Bands: We kick off with the second appearance of an Oxfam sponsored festival that seems to have one of those come one come all booking policies that includes Billy Bragg, Dreadzone, Seth Lakeman and Martha Wainwright on Friday, the Saw Doctors, Guillemots, The Feeling, Polar Bear, Chris Difford, Mr Scruff, the Handsome Family and Aberfeldy on Saturday, and on Sunday Eliza Carthy, Amadou & Mariam, The Bays, Field Music, Banco de Gaia and the Broken Family Band.

Download Festival, Donington Park
Dates: 9th-11th June
Tickets: £115
Bands: Tool, Metallica and Guns'n'Roses (Chinese Democracy might actually be out this year! Who's left to care?) headline, plus Alice In Chains - yes, they've got a new singer - the Prodigy, Korn, the Deftones, Funeral For A Friend, Cradle Of Filth, Avenged Sevenfold, Bullet For My Valentine, InMe, Soulfly, Stone Sour and Trivium, with plenty more to be confirmed, supposedly including Motley Crue, Bowling For Soup and Fightstar.

Isle Of Wight Festival, Seaclose Park, Newport
Dates: 9th-11th June
Tickets: sold out
Bands: Always strong bills for an underappreciated festival, the Friday features the Prodigy, Placebo, Goldfrapp, the Rakes and Morning Runner, Saturday has the Foo Fighters, Primal Scream, Editors, Dirty Pretty Things, the Kooks and the Proclaimers (!), while Sunday reunites Coldplay and Richard Ashcroft, kind of, ahead of Lou Reed, Maximo Park, Kubb and, um, Procul Harum. If it's any help, we could add that Justin Lee Collins is usually main stage compere and watch hordes of ticketholders head for the eBay sales page.

T In The Park, Balado, near Kinross
Dates: 8th-9th July
Tickets: sold out
Bands: This doesn't sound half completed yet, but we do know Saturday is headlined by the Chili Peppers and also features Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs, Placebo, Paul Weller, Goldfrapp, Pharrell, the Feeling, the Charlatans, Damien Marley, the Ordinary Boys, Sigur Ros, the Kooks, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and the Orb, while Sunday is led by the Who ahead of the Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, Magic Numbers, Hard-Fi, the Proclaimers, Richard Ashcroft, Editors, Primal Scream, the Go! Team and Eels, with rumoured additions including Scissor Sisters, Snow Patrol, Starsailor, KT Tunstall, Maximo Park, Jamie Cullum, Feeder, We Are Scientists and Boy Kill Boy.

Oxegen, Punchestown Racecourse
Dates: 8th-9th July
Tickets: sold out
Bands: See above, pretty much, adding James Brown and the Streets.

Wakestock, Pwllheli Inner Marina and Abersoch Beach, Abersoch, Pwllheli, Gwynedd
Dates: 14th-15th July
Tickets: £45 from 3rd April plus £20 camping per person. You'll have to supply your own wetsuit.
Bands: The largest wakeboarding festival in Europe does have its own cachet, as proved by Delays, The Crimea, Freestylers, The Cuban Brothers, DJ Yoda and The Upper Room, with many more to come.

Guilfest, Stoke Park, Guildford
Dates: 14th-16th July
Tickets: Not even on sale yet, £75 last year
Bands: The first of the set of mid-season festivals that are usually coupled with the epithets 'laid-back' and 'friendly', no bands will be announced until tickets come out in April, but A-Ha have confirmed themselves. Bear in mind last year's main attractions were the Pogues, Paul Weller, Status Quo, Daniel Bedingfield, Lulu, Echo And The Bunnymen, Alabama 3, the Subways, the Others, the Proclaimers, Marillion, Chas & Dave, the Hothouse Flowers and Thunder, and then try and scratch some sort of connection between any of that lot.

Truck, Steventon, Oxfordshire
Dates: 22nd-23rd July
Tickets: sold out, remarkably
Bands: None officially announced yet for the most lo-fi of the main set, which means we're stuck with strong rumours including Young Knives, ¡Forward Russia!, Brakes, The Research, 65daysofstatic, Jetplane Landing and the usual phalanx of Truck Records alumni. More on this nearer the time.

Cambridge Folk Festival, Cherry Hinton Hall grounds
Dates: 27th-30th July
Tickets: on sale from 30th April for £86
Bands: Emmylou Harris, The Chieftains, Richard Thompson, Amadou & Mariam, Cerys Matthews, Eddi Reader, Nickel Creek, Chumbawamba, Cara Dillon, Seth Lakeman, Nizlopi, Rodrigo y Gabriel, The Broken Family get the picture.

WOMAD, Richfield Avenue, Rivermead, Reading
Dates: 28th-30th July
Tickets: £100 for the first 3,000, a tenner more afterwards.
Bands: Mung beans and lentils! Er...Anoushka Shankar, Bellowhead, Femi Kuti, Gotan Project, Los De Abajo, Nanci Griffith, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and Ska Cubano are among the first set declared.

Summer Sundae, De Montfort Hall and Gardens, Leicester
Dates: 11th-13th August
Tickets: £65 until Friday, £75 thereafter
Bands: Go back and have a look at the Weekender just gone for the first announcement. Yes, we will be there again.

Green Man, Glanusk Park, Usk Valley, Powys (new venue)
Dates: 18th-20th August
Tickets: £98
Bands: It's Jo And Danny, at a guess. Also, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, King Creosote, Aiden Smith, James Yorkston, Gruff Rhys, Kieran 'Four Tet' Hebden with Steven Reid, the Television Personalities, Alasdair Roberts, Tunng, Adem, Archie Bronson Outfit, Circulus, Chris T-T, Euros Childs, the Aliens (two former Betas) and The Eighteenth Day of May.

Secret Garden Party, somewhere in Cambridgeshire (it's secret, you see?)
Dates: 18th-20th August
Tickets: announced around Easter, but roughly £65
Bands: Winner of Best Small Festival in the 2005 UK Festival Awards, the most nuts event on the circuit, which last year saw the Super Furries and Hard-Fi among others play in the middle of a landscaped garden on a private estate based on an Alice In Wonderland-style assault on the imagined senses, is pending.

V Festival, Chelmsford and Weston Park, Staffs
Dates: 19th-20th August
Tickets: sold out
Bands: Already famously, Radiohead have put aside their Naomi Klein set texts and are playing under the 'soulless' behemoth booze banner along with Sunday (at Chelmsford) headliner Morrissey, Beck, Keane, Bloc Party, the Magic Numbers, Faithless, Paul Weller, Hard-Fi, Razorlight, Kasabian, Fatboy Slim, Editors, the Ordinary Boys (by which time someone will have written a review of them which doesn't feature the line "but there was no sign of Chantelle", as if they go to Coldplay gigs expecting Gwyneth to appear in a cage), the Go! Team, Groove Armada, the Charlatans, Starsailor, Orson, James Dean Bradfield on his tod, the Sugababes, The Feeling, Daniel Powter, Delays and Rufus Wainwright with more to come.

Reading, Little Johns Farm, Richfield Avenue, and Leeds, Bramham Park
Dates: 25th-27th August
Tickets: from a week on Monday, £125 last year but that will go up
Bands: Taking over by proxy as 2006's big one, the official announcement comes on 3rd April at 7pm, but if the whispers are true expect Kaiser Chiefs, Franz Ferdinand, the Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Feeder, Alice Cooper, Placebo, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Raconteurs, Rakes, Maximo Park, Audioslave, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Dirty Pretty Things.

Electric Picnic, Stradbally Hall Estate, Stradbally, Co. Laois, Eire
Dates: 1st-3rd September
Tickets: 175 euros, just over £120 at current rates
Bands: Which isn't great value considering, but the bill's neat enough - Basement Jaxx, Massive Attack, New Order, Pet Shop Boys, Groove Armada, Antony and The Johnsons, DJ Shadow, Damien Rice, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Frames, Devendra Banhart, Super Furry Animals, Belle & Sebastian, Rufus Wainwright, Bloc Party, Alabama 3, The Rapture, Saul Williams, Tom Vek, Gang of Four, David Kitt, The Boy Least Likely To, Elbow, Graham Coxon, dEUS, the Blue Nile and, even more unlikely, Gary Numan.

Bestival, Robin Hill Countryside Adventure Park, Downend, Nr Arreton, Isle of Wight
Dates: 8th-10th September
Tickets: £95. Funny how an event this late on's willing enough to get a move on, isn't it?
Bands: The Pet Shop Boys provide intriguing Saturday headliners, while also confirmed is the complete stylistic mish-mash of the unfunny Cuban Brothers, Devendra Banhart, The Stranglers, The Fall, King Creosote, Jamie T, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Amadou & Mariam, Young Knives, Kanda Bongo Man, The Boy Least Likely To, The Fence Collective, The Aliens, Kitty Daisy & Lewis, Tunng, Jegsy Dodd, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly and DJ sets from DJ Yoda, Annie Mac, Cosmic Fury (Tom Middleton and Lemon Jelly's Fred Deakin), Erol Alkan, Justin Robertson, Mary Anne Hobbs, Touche, Rob Da Bank, Chris Coco and the like. But not The Like.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Classical ARIAs

Back to our occasional looks at singles charts from across the world, and in the week that the album by Zane Lowe's side project Breaks Co-Op comes out to a few meaningful glances and not much else, which is probably how he'd have wanted it if not Parlophone - the band were recently given a government funded grant as part of a New Zealand culture drive to aid their relocation to the UK, which given one of the three has worked here for eight years and another is actually British hardly makes it Arts Council material - we decided to have a look at what's selling down Wellington way. But it was a bit dull, so we shifted west instead and analysed the Australian top 20:

20 Eminem - When I'm Gone
He really has dropped off the music landscape very recently, hasn't he, just as was suggested? He'll be back, D12 have to eat somehow.

19 Nickelback - Far Away
Yes, there are still places where their success hasn't now been written off as a post-Limp Bizkit gut reaction to snap up anything that moved in a hard rock style.

18 Santana - Just Feel Better
Speaking of which, Carlos has gone back into semi-ignoration here since Supernatural, much like Rob Thomas in fact, but he'll still squealingly blues soloing away out there.

17 Notorious BIG - Nasty Girl
Surely before long there'll be a Biggie single that features nothing of Biggie himself?

16 Bow Wow - Like You
Again, since he stopped being so lil' he seems to have disappeared from the British radar. Even so, we think we can guess what this is like.

15 Daddy Yankee - Gasolina
Reggaeton - that disappeared quickly, didn't it?

14 Rihanna - If It's Lovin' That You Want
Her new single has New Crazy In Love potential, although surely Marc Almond is already fending off telephone query after telephone query with "I dunno, maybe they asked Gloria Jones' publishers..."

13 Kate Alexa - All I Hear
The daughter of Mushroom Records' founder, kind of a solo The Like, who rose to fame through singing on a trailer for Home And Away. One of her promotional photos features her in a parka, which given she looks like a prospective daughter of Carol Thatcher is probably wise.

12 Kate DeAraugo - Faded
Last year's Australian Idol winner, her second single peaking at number 8 after a McManus style.

11 Rogue Traders - Watching You
Izzy from Neighbours' band! Well, Natalie Bassingthwaighte's band to be exact, but let's not split hairs, especially when their other gimmick is re-recording (with credit) old new wave riffs, here My Sharona, as the basis of new songs, which makes them perfect All Around The World Records signings in waiting. And they're named after the Ewan McGregor Is Nick Leeson flop too. The role of Izzy is now apparently being played by a mutant crossbreed of Alison Goldfrapp and Avril Lavigne:

10 James Blunt - Goodbye My Lover
Apparently Guy Chambers is credited with 'guitar feedback' on one track on Back To Bedlam. Good to see hose years at the London Guildhall School of Music didn't go to waste.

9 Ashlee Simpson - L.O.V.E.
Ashlee Simpson records seem to us to be like terrorist scares - you're aware through osmosis that they should be happening, sometimes information leaks out, but when they do happen you barely notice.

8 Madonna - Sorry
We've just realised we've never heard this. We don't intend to start now.

7 Black Eyed Peas - Pump It
We've heard this, though, on many occasions over the last ten years. They might as well have made a dance track out of it.

6 Chris Brown - Run It
Keeping an eye on the caller display in case Usher finds his number.

5 Westlife - You Raise Me Up
It's Mother's Day across the world! Given we all know how pop longevity works, how come nobody predicts they're ever splitting up?

4 Pink - Stupid Girls
Of course, a still of the Paris car wash advert spoof bit from the video - a takeoff of an advert nobody in Britain has seen, of course - is on the cover of the single for irony reasons. And nothing more. Yes.

3 Bob Sinclar - Love Generation
Is he still running with the 70s international playboy style theme?

2 Youth Group - Forever Young
Ah, now we're getting somewhere. We think they had a single out in the UK last year after ex-Vine Patrick Matthews joined, but this was on the OC and is a cover of one of Alphaville's singles after Big in Japan. Presumably they've had the big push after that, as we see no Death Cab For Cutie here.

1 TV Rock - Flaunt It
Sounds like a Dutch music show, is a dance duo who look like they're auditioning to take over Brandon Block's position as most cliched man in international dance DJing. Pete Tong's a fan, apparently. Be scared.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Weekender : stone cold on Austin

CHART OF DARKNESS: As if it wasn't distressing enough that Orson have climbed to number one, it's become the first number one to sell less than 20,000 copies. That's physical (roughly 6,000!) and downloads together totalling 17,694. So much for the digital inclusion improving the lot of the singles chart, eh? Oddly, or not, this doesn't appear to have had any publicity anywhere, and it makes the fact the top three were seperated by 334 less taut than it looks. At 3 are the Black Eyed Peas, climbing 16 on the basis that last week was the first that the Official Charts Company started counting downloads a week before physical release, which also applies in the cases of 'new' entries Girls Aloud (80 to 6), Joey Negro (47 to 11) and James Blunt (54 to, um, 23) and will come into force for Pink (49), Sean Paul (53), Nelly (59) and Yeah Yeah Yeahs (80) next week. Isn't this early iTunes release schedule affecting the high chart entry positions the major labels want? The proper highest entry is piss-poor R&B balladeer Ray J at 13, with Jacko's Beat It at 15, Massive Attack at 17, the still little actually cared about Hilary Duff at 20 and Kelly Clarkson at 21, with Ne-Yo (cf Ray J) at 18 on those pesky advance sales. That still corking Battle single enters at 37, lovely Transgressive Records' second top 40 score after the Young Knives last month, with Be Your Own Pet also making a top 40 debut one higher. Mark Ronson's much debated cover of Just only manages number 48, KT Tunstall finds the album bled dry with an entry at 52 and the Foo Fighters just forget to tell people about No Way Back which peaks at 64.
It's the album charts that make the news this week as three housewives' favourite tenors - Watson, Bocelli and Grigolo - make the top ten at the same time for the first time ever. Luckily none are number one, Corinne Bailey Rae instead climbing to the summit now the TV ads have kicked in. Placebo enter at 7, Barry Manilow's ominous sounding Greatest Songs Of The Fifties is at 14, Graham Coxon fails by four to follow his last album's top twenty success, Fightstar do well enough at 28, Donald Fagen finds his niche audience at 35, Mike Oldfield's Platinum Collection baffles most of us as to what might constitute a compilation of Oldfield hits at 36, two albums called Gold: Greatest Hits are in at 41 (Righteous Brothers) and 42 (Carpenters), Cyndi Lauper's irritable presence on several TV shows over the last week is explained by her singing The Body Acoustic at 55 and Numanoids must be dwindling in number as Gary's new one only manages 59.

FREE MUSIC: So let's take advantage of these SXSW mp3s while they're still up. Do you remember folktronica? An idea of what it should have sounded like is provided by Sam Duckworth of Southend, better known as Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. Supposedly with a trail of A&R stretching the length of that road full of venues in Austin after his shows there, Whitewash Is Brainwash shows the intelligent singer-songwriter brought up to date approach off. He's about to support OK Go. We don't know, you ask him.

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: Aberdeen City prove how much of an influence Interpol's Turn On The Bright Lights has been sure enough, but less gloomy, more vulnerable vocally and more expansive musically. Weird support slot number two: they're currently hanging around parts of America with the Go! Team.

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: Up to date, that's us - Billy Bragg does A New England on Conan last week.

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: Man with HTML awareness realises Arctic Monkeys are from north of England, acts accordingly

IN OTHER NEWS: Since we were talking about the Summer Sundae bill last week, we might as well mention the first set of confirmed bands: Belle & Sebastian, Elbow, Jose Gonzalez, ¡Forward, Russia!, Long Blondes, Brakes, Young Knives, DJ Format, Vashti Bunyan, Seth Lakeman, Blockheads, Baxter Dury (might those two be playing on the same day, perhaps?), Delays, the Buzzcocks, Adem and Absentee. Later in the week, if we remember, we'll go back to our full festival list from a few weekends ago and update what we know about who's playing everywhere else.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

In shops tomorrow: 20/3


Want to feel like it's the New Rock Revolution all over again? The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs have new singles out, the former lifting Heart In A Cage from the album seemingly already forgotten about, the latter back with Gold Lion, which takes its time to grow on you, as does Show Your Bones, the album getting advance mixed reviews. That's 'mixed' in the some love, some hate sense, not 'mixed' the kindly way of saying everyone hates it. Our London art division have called to mention Good Shoes' much vaunted debut We Are Not The Same, which does have a tune not a great deal away from Art Brut's back pages, and Les Incompetents' How It All Went Wrong, bringing back the scrappy sound of C96. Not unreasonably most will prefer the French art school, although Nouvelle Vague have taken their time over releasing a single from 2004's loungepunk oddity, but now that pretty much every track is on an advert here comes a double A side of Nouvelle Vague - I Melt With You and Teenage Kicks just ahead of a projected Volume 2 possibly including Ever Fallen In Love (fair enough), Bela Lugosi's Dead (whu?), A Certain Ratio's Shack Up (really want to know how that translates) and Blue Monday (there's the radio hit!) The Canadian collective tendency meanwhile throws up The Organ's Brother. If we're allowing EPs in this section, let's doff the cap to Glen Johnson (not the Chelsea one) and his now ten years to the good pan-European revolving door atmospheric synth-pop outfit Piano Magic, who produce four new tracks on Incurable. Finally, touted Loughborough Interpol the Voom Blooms are releasing a limited edition 7" of Politics And Cigarettes seemingly only available via that site there. Get to it, they're going to be big.


One of the most notable issues thrown into the wider musical world by the recent BBC4 Folk Britannia documentary series was the schism opening up in the modern folk scene between the traditional English dance/balladry size - Eliza Carthy, Kate Rusby - and those who want to take it elsewhere - Jim Moray, Adem, the Fence Collective. The argument laid down by the former camp is that you can't call yourself a proper English folkie unless you have somehow lived with folk's source material rather than take its core and throw it into a mixing pot. It's 'can white men sing the blues?' all over again! Skipping gaily over the boundary over the last 18 months or so has been Seth Lakeman, who writes songs about the myths and legends of Dartmoor and then places their arrangements squarely in the modern day. It earned him a Token Mercury nomination, and Freedom Fields continues fighting the good fight. Another boundary-hopping singer, this time between punk hip hop and not being shit, is Californian and recent English at Oxford graduate MC Lars, laptop-based joker with a literary bent and a regular spot at the Truck Festival, whose The Graduate doesn't even suffer for having a guest spot for Bowling For Soup's singer. On the reissues front Ankst are re-releasing Gorky's Zygotic Mynci's three Welsh language career openers, of which Bwyd Time is the best to look out for. We're about a month late with this one, meanwhile, but we've only just found out that the gloriously gritted teeth trad-indie of the Bitter Springs has been reactivated with That Sentimental Slush. Every home should have one.


Will Hodgkinson's Guitar Man sees the Guardian writer attempt to learn guitar with recourse only to his own six string heroes, including Johnny Marr, Bert Jansch and Roger McGuinn. If that all seems recherche, the mighty Popjustice - named in Observer Music Monthly's top 25 music websites today, a list which we're not bitter about at all, honest - is bringing out the first in what is promised to be a series of Popjustice Idols pictorial books, starting with A Girl Called Madonna, A Boy Called Marshall and A Boy Called Robbie. Presumably you'll be able to guess the attitude therein.

The Weekly Sweep

Broken Social Scene - 7/4 (Shoreline)
Good Books - Passchendaele
The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - Amateur Man
Morrissey - Dear God Please Help Me
Field Music - You're Not Supposed To
Brakes - All Night Disco Party (Graham Sutton remix)
¡Forward, Russia! - Nine
Tapes'n'Tapes - Insistor
Aberdeen City - Another Seven Years
Broken Family Band - I'm Thirsty

Friday, March 17, 2006

Partly because we're looking forward to the album...

...News And Tributes, May 22nd, by the way - we're particularly keen to link, even though we have a sneaking suspicion it might not be up for too much longer, to the Futureheads at last year's Leeds festival. We had a look for good live videos to pad this out a bit but only found Hounds Of Love, which we suppose will do - LA, you sing along with Ross, Colchester, you sing along with Jaff.

Unlikely things you hear that you desperately hope are true

Ricky Wilson's father wrote for and produced Chucklevision, anyone?

EDIT: no, it's not true, we were following the wrong money. Wikipedia does claim that Wilson Sr directed The Grand Knockout Tournament (It's A Royal Knockout as you'd know it), mind.

News, News, News (Sport, Weather, And Finally)

Unlike most of the music blog network, our lack of updates this week is to do with laziness rather than wandering around that street in Austin where the whole of South By Southwest takes place. Someone's really let the cat out of the bag this year with the British reportage contingent increasing in size, and with the Arctic Monkeys in town that can only mean one thing - lopsided reporting. The BBC website reckons they were given a "lukewarm reception", which seems to translate as four reviews only one of which actually thought the gig wasn't up to scratch. So they didn't believe they're the greatest band in the world? Oh, string them all up immediately. Even Victoria Newton's pretending to be there reporting back for the Sun's Bizarre column, rating everyone she's seen out of ten, although evidently she hasn't quite got it yet, not just for giving Towers Of London 7/10 or the reference to Editors' "lead singer TOM SMITH who dates EDITH BOWMAN" - yeah, cheers, for that, we were wondering who he was again but now it's crystal clear - but for just going to see all the British bands, which we could do for ourselves, and saying of a couple of presumably local bands "can't understand why either of them even bothered to come". It doesn't take that much to work out why, by the way. You may also like to know she "couldn't stop laughing" at "overweight accountants" the Young Knives, as if they were Goldie Lookin' Chain or something, and slammed Tapes 'N Tapes thus: "Everyone was talking them up as the big new thing. But they were just another a bunch of middle class college graduates who looked good and sounded terrible." A job on a hipster-wannabe blog is hers for the taking. (The more discerning, by the way, can pick up live tracks recorded for KEXP radio at San Diego Serenade.) Like fuck she thinks Get Cape Wear Cape Fly's going to be huge! She can't even get the name right!

However, just this evening on BBC1 an even more bizarre cross-cultural exchange that left all sides looking awkward took place. It came in the Six O'Clock News' nightly midway Special Report, usually four minutes about African famine or wonder drug development but tonight following the herd to SXSW on the hook that James Blunt's been number one there so why can't every other British band. And who did they pick out as being at the vanguard of the new Brit boom?

The Rakes. On the 6 O'Clock News.

Not much of them, obviously - them entering the stage, five seconds of All Too Human, five seconds of Work Work Work, brief chat with Matthew, brief chat with Jamie. The odd thing was, though, that it didn't even seem to register who they were or in what context they deserved to be playing at such a major event, which just made them look like chancers to go with their status as the most stereotypically Proper British Indie band in existance...

...rather than a band picking up small but sure amounts of US blog hype, which is what they are, and they looked to be playing to a full and not tiny venue too. What was it supposed to tell us about British bands' chances in America? Without a fuller look, very little, but at least it got a film crew out of the house.

Anyway, don't listen to us, listen to people who are there, like Minnesota Public Radio's live streams, and Drowned In Sound's blog (when they update it).

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sundae, Sundae here again

For those who are interested, 148 days to go and it's all looking quite exciting on the Summer Sundae front, with whispers about bands ekeing out ahead of next Monday's official announcement of the first to step forward to the plate. The Long Blondes have confirmed themselves, but more excitingly are (much respected, not least by us, Northerners)) dropping it into an interview and (celebrated Scotpop architects) apparently slipping it secretly onto their website. Plenty of tickets available and with a tenner off before the end of this month.

In the meantime, another of those links we've got nothing better to do with that we found while clearing out our RealPlayer history - Charlotte Church makes her TV debut in 1997 on long overlooked Jonathan Ross at career lowest vehicle The Big Big Talent Show.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Weekender : as much a true story as When You Wasn't Famous is

CHART OF DARKNESS: Chico's still number one, then, and come on, someone must be buying it, but it's all a bit strange underneath as with the Sugababes rooted to 4 second spot is taken by Orson, up three. All you need to know about them are a) the singer wears a trilby and b) he describes their music as songs "that girls can dance to". Alex Kapranos should sue, as well as Sugar Ray. Kanye West fails to back up his genius epithet with an obvious Move On Up sample at 6, still nobody's buying those DualDiscs as Billie Jean hits 11, Shapeshifters get to 12 somehow, Placebo have enough fans sticking around to take their new single to 13, Black Eyed Peas and Craig David start swallowing something hard and jagged at 16 and 18, the Rifles ride that Jam revival/Soccer AM constituency at 26, Fightstar are real at 29 and notably Jose Gonzalez's Heartbeats rearrives at 40 as the Sony Bravia advert reappears on TV. Hundred Reasons at 45? Are they still alive? The Like fail to pay back Polydor's investment at 75, eight behind Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me). Yeah, the Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel song. How many times has that come back out now, to the nearest hundred?
Albums wise, Dave 'David' Gilmour finds enough people willing to ignore the constant Pink Floyd reunion rumours, seemingly kyboshed by interview references to him now having fallen out with the rest of them, and takes his first solo album in 22 years On An Island top. His previous solo high was 17, which must demonstrate something profound. Why not leave him your congratulatory message? Mother's Day must be upon us, Andrea Bocelli has an album out called Amore which is at 4. Van Morrison, who seems to release albums with the regularity that the rest of us write letters, is at 8, one behind this baffling continued climb for Simon Webbe's album - he's not even got a single on the way as far as we know. Surely it can't be David Essex's first Greatest Hits at 14, Shakira only makes 22 despite the fervent support of half the contributors to pop message boards, the Delays outdo Morning Runner in the top 30, Mogwai (31) and Mystery Jets (32) both fall surprisingly short, or at least short of Leo Sayer's latest compilation (30) and the Little Willies are at 41. How many are buying that because it's Norah Jones with a country backing band, and how many are being sold as comedy 17th birthday presents?

FREE MUSIC: Difficult to know what the best thing about East River Pipe is, whether it be the man behind it being called FM Cornog, the idea that he was discovered sleeping rough by a good samaritan who gave him a porta-studio which he continues to use fifteen years later or just that he continues to churn out fractured, eccentric DIY songsmithery for album after album. The new one's called What Are You On?, from which comes Crystal Queen.

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: People In Planes, literate Cardiff based outfit once known as Tetra Splendour (very much their Parva phase) pitched somewhere between Teenage Fanclub and Doves. Having both the Cooper Temple Clause and Jamie Cullum on your support CV is one thing. Having a video directed by Joaquin Phoenix is quite another.

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: "You got the stick!" In the week Nick Cave gets to show his awkward Zapata tache off in interviews to promote The Proposition, here he is in oddly restrained form performing Release The Bats with the Birthday Party in 1982.

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: To tie up our two blog-centric obsessions, a news report on how AS Roma have taken up Seven Nation Army. Sing that bassline, Totti!

IN OTHER NEWS: The latest part of our short series of People Whose Blogs Are Written In A Syntax Much As You'd Imagine They Would Be, Kelis.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Making their mind up

This year's Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Athens on 20th May, which means this year's local news filler pieces featuring men who laboriously collect every entrant from every year of the competition, which turns 50 this year, and regimentally claim "it's taken seriously everywhere else in Europe, it's just Wogan who makes it a laughing stock" will take place on 19th May. This year it seems to have become a must-watch in a nuts sense, not just in seeing Daz Sampson's post-irony on an international stage or even because last year's whole tribal drum dance phase will have passed, but because we have to see how Terry Wogan reacts to Finland choosing metallers Lordi as their entry. In fact they'll have to go through the semi-final on the 18th, so Paddy O'Connell and Lorraine Kelly will be first to react to men who insist on dressing thus:

In fact, this year's Eurosong appears to be mired in controversy the like of which we'd rarely imagine - a website has been set up to get Sampson thrown out on a technicality, which suggests not everyone gets the thought that it might be a gag, while Serbia & Montenegro have refused to ratify the official winner, the three acts that tied for first place in Moldova have refused to take part in the re-run and two of Spain's nominees claimed they hadn't entered the competition, leaving Las Ketchup - the very same, yes - as their representative. Meanwhile Germany are to have their name upheld by a seemingly ironic country band - where is Guildo Horn now? - and the centrepiece of the Netherlands qualification show was the allegedly symbolic burning of a former entrant's stage dress. Aren't there easier methods of cutting their Eurovision past adrift?

In shops tomorrow: 13/3


The demo recording turned up in our Advent Calendar Of Music back in December, which must have been the tipping point towards the single release of Battle's Tendency, right? People who downloaded that should be aware that it's not changed that much, perhaps tightened up a bit, slightly more obviously ProTooled but that's inevitable these days and still hasn't garnered that much attention. Oddly, despite pushing many, many buttons - pop-punk, instantaneousness, NME interest, smart videos, blonde female singer - Be Your Own Pet haven't really taken off across the land yet either, which is a shame in that Adventure would sound right at home on daytime Radio 1.


Graham Coxon's fifth solo album Love Travels At Illegal Speeds continues in much the same vein as the previous couple - well executed punk-pop with melodies and noise hand in hand, subtly tricksy playing, a few off-kilter single contenders and a rubbish artist-painted cover. The Concretes In Colour perhaps isn't as strong as the original - why dump the indie wall of sound they became respected for? - but we suspect would win out on sunnier days than these, especially as Romeo Stodart's in tow on one track. Very much not meant for picnics in parks are the Archie Bronson Outfit, refugees from the days when Lawrence Bell would sign bands to Domino (he spotted these playing one lunchtime in his local, apparently) and not expect them to go gold instantly. They're still on Domino, we should stress, which is a filip in this of all weeks when Mishka has a new record out, and their garage-soul-blues gets a second outing on appropriately titled Derdang Derdang. On the other side of the musical spectrum we find Stephin Merritt, who while it was inevitable would one day release an album called Showtunes it's perhaps less obvious that it would be actual tunes from shows, and scores from three works by Chinese opera writer Chen Shi-Zheng at that. Reissue of the week? That'll be the 2CD set of the Fall's Middle Class Revolt from 1994, not one of their more highly regarded records but it does have Hey Student! and Behind The Counter on. Compilation of the week? By a mile, The Trip curated by Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackey, where Bobby Bare is followed by Alan Vega, Johnny Wakelin's In Zaire ("in Za-ere!") is just along from Lee Hazlewood and the whole thing closes with Dion, Neil Sedaka and the Shipping Forecast theme.

The Weekly Sweep

Fratellis - Creepin' Up The Backstairs
The Pipettes - Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me
Voom Blooms - Politics And Cigarettes
Franz Ferdinand - The Fallen
The Crimea - White Russian Galaxy
Battle - Tendency
Sky Larkin - Shipwreck
Goodshoes - We Are Not The Same
Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
Six Nation State - Keep Dancing

Friday, March 10, 2006

And you thought Adam Rickett MP was a disturbing thought

News reaches us that one time Romo, foppish man about town and millennial equivalent of The Shend Dickon Edwards is standing for the Green Party in the Highgate Ward of Haringey Council in May's local elections, apparently mostly to generate publicity for the votes and party alike, although try as we might we can't see Edwards as a stereotypical Green man. Quote he: I promise to refrain from ever using the words ‘inappropriate’ or ‘error of judgement’ in official statements. That alone makes me pretty unique.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

No vote no voice

While we prevaricate over proper updates, specious poll city awaits with Channel 4's 50 Greatest One Hit Wonders polling and MTV's Nation's Favourite Lyrics. Yeah, the Arctic Monkeys are supposedly winning that one. Some of these songs may have turned up in Yo La Tengo's WFMU covers set. More Cutler memories, while we're about it, as WFMU are finding time to pay tribute, as is Locust St., and someone's put a Whistle Test performance of Shop Lifters on YouTube.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Oh bloody hell

Unconfirmed as yet, but we've just heard that Ivor Cutler may have died at the weekend. UPDATE: Times obituary

"Come, lads, what shall we play at today?" whispered Grandpa, busily dandling us.

"The seaside! The seaside!" we shouted.

"Down the River Clyde," I added, for which impertinence I received a mighty buffet, bleeding my tender nose with his vast white knuckle. How was I to know that I was mouthing obscenity?

But the blood soon dried and I had the pleasure of picking the clots.

He rose and we slid over the edge of his kilt. Out the cupboard came the tin lid of Troon sand, sadly depleted, and two milk jugs with decent spouts.

We stood in a rough quadrant, holding forth our left hands according to custom. But I didn't mind, as I was left-handed, even though my co-ordination was poor, owing to the Myelin shortage.

Grandpa moved round, placing a grain of sand in every hand. Then he started a second round. And a third. And I held the big quartz grain, almost twice the size. He spotted the envy on other faces.

"I bled his neb," he grunted.

We went off the play.

Each girl chose a boy to sit cross-legged before as she knitted. Her job was to blow into his face and hair like a breeze. Grandma came round with a lump of coarse sand and scraped a few grains onto every girl's tongue. If a fleck of spit hit you, the illusion was complete.

Then she filled a milk jug with treacle and poured it back and forward from jug to jug, spilling barely a dribble. It sounded like estuary waves, which was the only kind we knew.

There are many sorts of games to play with three grains of sand. Juggling, building castles, digging holes, making faces, reflecting light to dazzle Grandpa as he sat muttering and picking at his sporran, knocking them together to see if they would fetch the stone chap from his bush in the garden. I used to be able to sniff them up one nostril, tilt my head, and catch them out the other.

When it was too dark to see, the sand was collected in. Grandpa never counted. We were "on our honour." The first to hand in his sand got sucking spilled treacle out the tufts of the carpet. I am convinced the girls enjoyed the day's outing as much as we did, in a placid way.

Then we had tea.

(from Life In A Scotch Sitting Room Vol.II)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Weekender : feelgood by numbers

CHART OF DARKNESS: Welcome, then, to National Irony In Music Week. We thought the wells had run dry of late, what with Leo Sayer, that Sunblock record (they're talking about a follow-up! What with?) and that beyond comedy overreaction news that John Barnes is going to appear on Christian O'Connell's World Cup record, but on Saturday someone who used to be in Bus Stop and was half responsible for that Rikki & Daz Rhinestone Cowboy cover of a couple of years back became our Eurovision entry - to be fair, it can't do much worse than the fourth grade identikit dancepop the UK has sent to die for the last few years - and now sodding Chico has a number one single. One day we'll look back and laugh, which makes it all the more galling that we're having to live through it first. Yet somehow even that ire is not enough for the other top ten new entries (apart from Shakira, who is beyond categorisation), namely the played out gag of the Pussycat Dolls with a played out gag centring on bleep effects featuring the once politically motivated Will I Am, Orson's attempt to take what The Darkness do and extend it, and The Feeling. Their press release describe them thus: "The Feeling are the new gods of cool M.O.R. Five twentysomethings from Sussex and London, they have come to make easy-listening hip. It's time to get out your Guilty Pleasures and rejoice! The Feeling are rehabilitating soft-rock." Right, so not only do they rejoice in being unoriginal, but they pleasure in invoking the horrible idea of Guilty Pleasures, that nebulous concept based on the idea that anyone is at all ashamed of liking music and driven by someone whose career was previously based on being Noel Gallagher's mate, which is now so widespread there are more than likely people who bought the Arctic Monkeys album as a 'guilty pleasure' to file alongside 10cc and Pilot. Guilty Pleasures is a term only invoked by people in theme pubs talking about 'cheese' as if their life depends on it or by those who genuinely believe in musical 'integrity'. And you know what the ultimate irony is? Sewn sounds like Kubb. Or Thirteen Senses. Or quite a bit of the last Athlete album. Or quite a few bands who, because they don't go "ooh, Breakfast In America, I've got that on vinyl!" in every interview, get proper write-ups without irony being hinted at.

Sod Ellis-Bextor, the drummer's going out with Sinead Quinn off Fame Academy. Now there's something.

Oh, yeah, charts. The attempt to make anyone care about DualDiscs fails again as Michael Jackson's Rock With You peaks at 15, the Freemasons somehow make the top 20 without anyone having heard it, Graham Coxon, the Rakes and Mystery Jets form the usual mid-40 guitar cluster, Jack Johnson slips in at 28 and hurrah for the Young Knives' chart debut at 36, while Love Bites go the Noise Next Door route at 48 and for who knows what reason Blue Monday sneaks in at 73. Wonder if they're still losing money on it. Corinne Bailey Rae, not yet called the British Macy Gray but give it time, tops the albums with Simon Webbe climbing into the top ten as if by stealth, or at least Stealth Bomber. That's not quite as bemusing, however, as how unheralded Ne-Yo has bucked the rap debut album trend and got to 14, or what Whitney Houston's Greatest Hits is doing at 58. Ahead of Friday Hill!

FREE MUSIC: It looks like Tapes'n Tapes are about to take off from their Minnesota hub and go as global as music that sounds like a less warbly Conor Oberst singing with Wolf Parade in the Pixies' collective garden can. Insistor demonstrates that big crossover potential, and yes, they're on MySpace.

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: Dragonflies Draw Flame, Derby romantics invoking Seafood - where they now, by the way? - at their most folky crossover point, Bloc Party at their most morose, Idlewild's recent Americana swerve but with their old pedals reinstated and the listenable end of emo. When, and we mean when, they get signed and get a studio budget they could go on to be something quietly special.

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: "It just so happens that Johnny's bought his guitar!" We've covered 'Paul Moressey' and Marr on Datarun before, but we're glad to see, no matter how slightly dodgy the worn out VHS copy is, that their later role on shortlived TV-AM kids' service S.P.L.A.T.! has shown up online. Here's Mozza and Marr on Charlie's Bus, complete with the very embodiment of day-glo in theme song, eventually joined by, just to confuse the cast of kids even further, Sandie Shaw for an acoustic performance of Jeane. Watch for a noticeably chipper Stephen delivering the best side look to camera you'll see for many a day.

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: We've had this on our list for ages so long that you probably knew about them by osmosis anyway, but so what, they're great - DFA radio mixes from 2005.

IN OTHER NEWS: They say the era of the big name DJ is coming to an end, and the desperation for those behind the once virtuous decks to get noticed is no more demonstrably apparent than by a look at SheJay's top 100 female DJs poll results. DJ Rap is number one, apparently a much respected name in what's left of drum'n'bass but one you may better recall from an attempt in 1999 to hop on the Ray Of Light bandwagon with limited success. There's a few other recognisable names -Miss Kittin, Anne Savage, Ellen Allien, Lottie, Sister Bliss, Annie Mac, even good old Annie Nightingale - but the picture chosen to represent Lisa Lashes ("a stunning combination of personality, good looks and cool clothing", as she's promoted foremost on her booking agency's website - er, aren't you missing something?) at 2 is perhaps indicative of something wider in the scene. If b3ta are passing by this way, may we suggest a which-is-which game in which a decent proportion of pictures from this page are mixed up with pictures from Suicide Girls?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

From A Phoneline 6

Quick advance notice of highly regarded NY/NJ independent station WMFU's annual fundraising drive, and in particular Tuesday March 7th at 8pm EST (3pm GMT) when Yo La Tengo do their annual covers for pledges challenge programme. Last year their impromptu set included the Pixies, Neil Young, Build Me Up Buttercup, Velvet Underground, Surfin' Bird, Count Five, Gary Numan's Cars, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Sam & Dave, Rod Stewart, Jonathan Richman, the Beatles, Hey Ya, the Cure, the Clash and Billy Joel, as Mocking Music has archived.

In shops tomorrow: 6/3


A story of distribution this week. Difficult to know where June Gloom by fatherly connected, trouser shunning power-popstrels The Like is heading, but it's not for the label's want of trying, getting the video onto everything imaginable. Compare and contrast with Jamie T's Betty And The Selfish Sons EP, still being released on his own label despite growing hectares of NME newsprint. We're also leading with these two as we'd like to see Like frontwoman Z Berg marry Jamie T just to see what happens. We have no inclination to wonder about a union between Victoria Bergsman and Thomas Hughes, but their bands have notable singles out too, Bergsman's The Concretes remaining glam-pop with Chosen One, Hughes' Spinto Band remaining Pavement-power-pop on Direct To Helmet.

Billy Bragg

Hear us out, goddamn you! We've always held a candle for the Bard Of Barking's ability to put his point across straight down the line with true conviction, and like all Bragg snobs we much prefer his writing on the whys and wherefores of love, a view he seems to share when explaining why he called his best of set from a couple of years back Must I Paint You A Picture? Of course his regularly published thoughts on second house reform, or tactical voting, or Ken Livingstone, do little to shrug off that image of Friedrich Engels reincarnated in Joe Strummer's form, nor the busker we recently heard doing To Have And Have Not, so we're going to have to trust those with open ears. A good place to start is Billy Bragg - Box Set Volume 1, seven CDs and two DVDs featuring extended versions of his first four albums, a documentary following Billy to East Berlin, Nicaragua and Lithuania in the 80s and a South Bank Show profile from March 1985. The albums have also been remastered and added to with rarities, B-sides and live cuts - scene-setting mini-album Billy Bragg - Life's A Riot With Spy vs Spy and the Between The Wars EP have been fused together, Brewing Up With Billy Bragg saw him at both his most caustic and lovelorn and drags Johnny Marr in for a version of his band's Back To The Old House, Talking with the Taxman About Poetry nearly made him a proper pop star and socialist anthem collection The Internationale can get wearisome but is here augmented with 1988 live album Live'n'Dubious. He's touring from mid-April too, with Small Faces organist Ian McLagan by his side and Seth Lakeman in support, sponsored by the four major unions and in aid of Love Music Hate Racism and two other anti-fascism organisations. We're going. You might want to too.


There is another set of reissues we can't go any further without hyping to the gills, and that's the Harvest label being reactivated seemingly just to reissue the first three albums by their most outre signees, Wire. That's Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154, and if we get the inclination we may do a proper post that covers the early Wire story in the week. We've got quite a few new releases to be cracking on with, so let's reduce several more years' worth of toil into five or so dismissive words surrounding a link : in alphabetical order we have the indie-prog-folk-Dexys mixer of the Mystery Jets' Making Dens, Neko Case escaping the clutches of the New Pornographers again - her last solo album featured a Festive 50 number one, you know - for more bravura alt-country on Fox Confessor Brings The Flood, Nick Cave, not content with writing the screenplay, drags Warren Ellis along to score the soundtrack to The Proposition - hope it's better than And The Ass Saw The Angel - the Rakes' underwhelming to us but you might go for it more readily Capture/Release gets the inevitable extra track treatment, Nottingham noiseniks Six. By Seven follow some surprise dates, surprise in that they only announced their split last June, with late period offcut compilation Club Sandwich At The Peveril Hotel and Stereolab soldier on in their retro-futurism bubble with Fab Four Suture.

The Weekly Sweep

Good Books - Passchendaele
Field Music - You're Not Supposed To
We Start Fires - Hot Metal
Broken Social Scene - 7/4 (Shoreline)
Coldcut featuring Roots Manuva - True Skool
The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - Amateur Man
Wigwam - Wigwam
Tapes'n'Tapes - Insistor
Neko Case - Star Witness
Be Your Own Pet - Adventure

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Energy domes aloft!

Difficult to know which is more disturbing - Devo 2.0, a project apparently suggested by Disney for god knows what reason, or Gerald Casale beturbaned for Jihad Jerry and the Evildoers, with inevitable nuts 'history'. As ever, when seeking to illustrate how neither is actually that outlandish in context, YouTube is our friend - the Jocko Homo video, That's Good on Letterman in 1982 and Mongoloid essayed for Don Kirschner in 1980, in a very blocky form.

Oh, and while we're here and with URLs to hand, here's the new Field Music video featuring guest appearances by pretty much everyone from Sunderland who's ever released any music (is that Marie Du Santiago we see there?), and here's Take Your Medicine's salute to Dance To The Radio's excellent latest compilation.