Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The most craven thing we will ever post

If an appeal we should have made ages ago - as we've never had the kind of scope that includes doing record reviews and the like, we're open for offers (we don't mean 'listen to our mp3s' spam) if any properly run online or otherwise magazines want to take us on for such. We won't insist on payment, you understand. See the email address on the sidebar.

And to make sure this post isn't wasted, Specials reforming! Er, if they want to at any stage in the future, possibly. Simon Jordan's plans evidently didn't come to fruition, then.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Weekender : finding it could more than likely have actually got to Dot To Dot yesterday after all

A QUICK WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS BEFORE WE BEGIN: If it's a little quiet over here over the next month and a bit, it's because we're running a World Cup blog called Finals Fantasy, which launches today. Tell your family/friends/readers/strangers!

CHART OF DARKNESS: Crazy is apparently being deleted today, which has been taken as a sign that the label and band think nine weeks is enough. Clearly someone's not been paying attention to the download rules that got them there in the first place. In the old days there would have been five top ten new entries but instead we get one, Matt Willis' warmed over 'punk' and his Shockwaves advert-haired guitarist at 7, and four logically unlikely sales spikes, Sandi bleedin' Thom leading the pack at 2, the Internet hype-aided major label signing lamenting computers and major label influence, followed by Primal Scream's chart high of 5, 9 To 5 doing 27 places better than it did for Lady Sovereign on her own and the Feeling at 10. Keane's attempt to take on the entire U2 back catalogue at once lands at 15 on downloads, the same route Pink's really rubbish new single - either rock or don't! - has to 19. However Robbie Williams at 22 is a proper entry, and although there doesn't seem to have been any direct promotion for it or even sustained radio play it's still surprising to see it so far down. Maybe all the fans were too busy daydreaming about the Take That reunion. The Futureheads, who radio clearly don't want to know about if it's not someone else's song, are only two places short. Taking Back Sunday, one of the many emo-achieving bands that make Jo Whiley's show such a trying listen these days, are at 36, Paul Oakenfold and Brittany Murphy's tribute to 1997 electronica is a download entry at 37, the Darkness, who've always had decent positions even as the publicity machine moved on, have the luck run out at 39 and post-Arctics young social commentators Little Man Tate squeeze into the top 40 ahead of the Mystery Jets, You Can't Fool Me Dennis having improved on re-release from 44 to 41. Two intriguing notes from the top 75 as Breaks Co-Op, top ten in the airplay charts last week, enter at 43 in what can only be either the absence of sun or extreme Zane Lowe suspicion, and Paul Simon is at 71 on downloads. Paul Simon! Hail this brave new world!
Albums? Chili Peppers still top, Feeder show staying power for once by climbing one to two, what we thought had been a quiet launch for Zero 7's new material actually gives them a number four album, one ahead of the Pet Shop Boys and two above Angels And Airwaves - can you see anyone claiming to be a big fan of theirs without substantial caveats? - Boy Kill Boy's almost universally ripped right into album manages 16, the Kaiser Chiefs climb up to 25 for seemingly no reason (unless people did genuinely think "Ricky's been hit by a car! We must pay for his medical bills by buying Employment again!") and Hot Chip get a very decent 34. And that's that.

FREE MUSIC: Hurrah for the Summer Of Shoegazing! Viewers of MTV2's 120 Minutes might well be aware of Citizens Here And Abroad, or at least one of their videos for a song that appears never to have even sniffed UK release. They're a San Francisco outfit who resemble Kevin Shields joining Lush playing at being Bloc Party, Appearances fitting that whole dreampop idea rather well.

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: Just when you think you can safely rule out the north eastern artrock brigade, along comes a second wave led by Dartz!, who blend the jerky guitars of standard with elements of original flavour emo and math-rock. God knows what's happened to Kubichek!, but their crown as Tyne & Wear's most promising has just been stolen.

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: As mentioned yesterday, Can's I Want More is being reissued on vinyl this week, which is a good enough excuse to stick up this extraordinary mimed version from a German TV show that far outpaces the more legendary Top Of The Pops Edmonds-introduced version. Watch the dancers go.
VISUAL REPRESENTATION EXTRA: There are many things you can do in the uploaded video comments box. You can overexplain, make a fanboy comment or just leave it to the bare essentials. Or you could just state that this is "The video for my 1997 song, 'Your Woman.'" in the reasonable belief that nobody will prove you wrong. Seriously, isn't this something of an oversight in Channel 4's recent greatest one hit wonders list?

FALLING OFF A BLOG: It's building a reputation to be proud of without our help, but we've been drawn more and more to Skatterbrain in recent weeks, what with its new Xiu Xiu, The Most Serene Republic and the Paper Chase (all bands we really must check out fully at some stage), a couple of rare Animal Collective tracks that are rare because they contain elements that would never get cleared and, back in the May archives and we think still downloadable, the summer mixtape project and some Pipettes acoustic radio gubbins.

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: Speaking of whom, they're on the cover of the currently available third issue of women in music magazine Wears The Trousers, PDF downloadable from that link, and Rose is interviewed inside alongside Neko Case, Bic Runga, Debra from The Organ, the Chalets, the Rogers Sisters and Terri Walker. We say current issue but number four is very much on the way, previewed by a chat with Isobel Campbell.

IN OTHER NEWS: Art Brut are currently taking on that most unlikely of regions for their worldview, America, having just played Coachella and earning many a blog's love. What this means is the Art Brut franchise scheme is gaining momentum. American public radio is now taking an interest, specifically in Rock n Roll In The Real World's Art Brut 3.14.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

In shops tomorrow: 29/5 (if they're open, obviously)


Standing against the torrent of World Cup records comes a motley crew : attempting to hitch a ride on the back of Dangermouse's later project Old School Rules gets lifted from Dangerdoom's The Mouse And The Mask, last year's best hip-hop album (hello, pale indie boy here), Ed Harcourt digs a Sunday morning vibe, apparently with Graham Coxon turning up somewhere, on Visit From The Dead Dog, Rufus Wainwright sideling and occasional Johnson to Antony Joan As Police Woman similarly lays back and enjoys The Ride, Boards Of Canada provide a similar service only for extreme OCD sufferers on the typically deceptively active Trans Canada Highway EP and Nottingham's slow burning Love Ends Disaster! do nothing of the sort with an EP of stunning ambition somewhere between the Psychedelic Furs, Sonic Youth and Hope Of The States, at guesses, called Faster Faster. A band who actually did change the landscape also get a release this week, as thirty years on from its top 30 entry and Top Of The Pops performance Mute reissue Can's mutant disco stormer I Want More on limited edition vinyl.


The Futureheads' News And Tributes has had what we'll politely call a mixed response and 679 seem to have forgotten to promote it until tonight's Channel 4 4 Music Presents..., but really they needed to further their sound to stop them falling into the growing in size pigeonhole being created for them of all-out angular monsters. It doesn't all work, but when it does it's something quite special and can properly be labelled under 'grower'. Similarly, Green Gartside's retreat to his bedroom with a set of keyboards to produce Scritti Politti's White Bread Black Beer, a stripped down version of the melted plastic soul that made his name commercially plus the offbeat lyrical concerns of his earlier work. We're fans of Elvis Costello but have never really warmed to his extra-curricular (ie not making rock'n'roll records with at least Steve Nieve) activities. Always worth a shot, though, and Costello and Allen Toussaint's The River In Reverse is their tribute to then recently flooded New Orleans, half Toussaint classics and half new songs, essentially Costello and the Imposters versus Toussaint's piano and Memphis horns. If Costello's modern vocal style takes some getting used to, what about Stuart A Staples down the years? The erstwhile Tinderstick takes time off from trying to get Vic Reeves beaten up for ensuring every review contains a 'club singer' jibe to tread much the same lush musical path as before on Leaving Songs. Finally, it says it was out last week on this link, we know, but his own website reckons it's out on the 29th, so fair enough - Grandmaster Gareth found a cult following for his Minute Melodies through Peel's patronage when his last solo album came out in 2002, and while Misty's Big Adenture has taken his time since the analogue keyboards, odd electrical devices and jumbled samples have come back out for The Party Sounds Of Grandmaster Gareth.


Is it really (Guinness Book Of) British Hit Singles And Albums time again? You know the drill by now, up to number nineteen with that mid-90s one with all the stupid mistakes consigned to those with good memories. The biggest ever, as they always say, with a number ones timeline to celebrate it hitting the thousand chart toppers. Less exalted but by no means any more useless, John Lydon's Metal Box - The Story of Public Image Ltd (Phil Strongman) is the awkwardly titled story of PIL apparently featuring interviews with many big players. Not Lydon, though, we'd guess.

The Weekly Sweep

Futureheads - Back To The Sea
The 1900s - Bring The Good Boys Home
The Pipettes - Judy
Dexys Midnight Runners - Plan B
The Gossip - Listen Up
Guillemots - Made Up Love Song #43
Love Ends Disaster - Cut Your Hair
Proton Proton - Plates
Absentee - We Should Never Have Children
Jim Noir - My Patch

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Bad news Friday

Desmond Dekker dies - still working, as most of the original reggae legends are/were, having been set back on the live trail around the end of the 70s. Here's the video for the classic Israelites.

Gorky's Zygotic Mynci confirm split. Four top 50 singles, two Radio 1 breakfast show records of the week, all sorts of amazingness, and still never broached the top 40.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The covers project

A word before we forget for My Old Kentucky Blog, which is bringing together collections of cover versions of single songs. Currently up, reading backwards: Hallelujah, Where Is My Mind?, Suspicious Minds, (Don't Fear) The Reaper, God Only Knows (Petra Haydn's version particularly recommended there, as all Petra Haydn acapella multitracked covers are), In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (!), There Is A Light That Never Goes Out and Love Will Tear Us Apart.

Bloody Guardian

We were winding ourselves up for a lengthy post about this very subject, as well, although we were also going to make the point that huge download sales of Crazy hardly make it an Internet sensation (and it had been played to death on Radio 1 and their much shown trailer in advance too). We wonder what the proportion is of people who found out about Lily Allen on the net and people who found out about her through articles about Lily Allen Off The Net really is. Funny how Arcade Fire - built from the ground up by bloggers, mp3'd all over the place, given a massive push by Pitchfork - are never referred to as Internet sensations, isn't it?

This would seem to be an appropriate juncture, however, to remind casual visitors of our own Myspace and its weekly (apart from this week, because we forgot) shadow blog. Come on, we've only got 32 friends, and we cravenly added most of those ourselves.

EDIT: As someone has pointed out to us, Sandi Thom's I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker... is a re-release, and the original got to 55 on a tiny indie last October after saturation play from Johnnie Walker on Radio 2 drivetime, five months before the webcam gigs started and almost a year after her first Daily Record feature as an up and coming singer. Oh, and according to online sources Thom's manager did much the same Walker-promoting trick with Gordon Haskell, who nearly had the Christmas number one in 2001, and Thom's first first webcammed gigs took place before the date the idea occurred to her that is now listed in her publicity.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It's probably right across the music blog landscape by now...

...but If Pixies Ruled The World, offering Pixies songs done in the styles of other artists, is either a stroke of genius or extreme foolishness. Prince doing Hey is especially recommended.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Weekender : is Big Leggy

CHART OF DARKNESS: Gnarls Barkley makes it eight out of eight, and with not much of note coming out in the forthcoming weeks and Smiley Faces down for a July release we're beginning to forsee a Bryan Adams situation where Can't Stop This Thing We Started had its entire top 40 run while Everything I Do was still number one. Infernal somehow still continue a steady climb as they take second place, perhaps more on overall low sales this week than any growing interest - see also the number of download entries, spearheaded by the, shall we say, opinion dividing Sandi Thom at 15. Who's playing this record? It's not on Radio 1's playlist, Radio 2 have it only C-listed, and frankly we're suspecting a Look At Our New Star From The Internet Like The Arctic Monkeys And That scam of sorts. Don't sue us, it's just amusing comment. An odd selection of download entries all in all, actually, as Primal Scream, the Feeling, Nerina Pallot and the Ordinary Boys make early breaks. Certainly a lot more possessing than the actual top ten entries for Christina Milian, Busta Rhymes and Sunblock, Orson bringing down adult pop at 11 and the hopelessly unmemorable Blink 182 diaspora Angels & Airwaves at 20. Towers Of London are at 32, but nobody said the nation ever had taste. Did you know Morning Runner had a new single out, much less one that charts on downloads at 56?
Slightly more stability albums wise, as the Chili Peppers hold off the Raconteurs and Feeder's singles collection. The Beautiful South find their audience again at 6, Neil Young's anti-war diatribe pitches in at 14 and ironically right next to Bruce Springsteen's similarly quickly turned around Pete Seeger album, Grandaddy bow out as underwhelmingly sales-wise as ever at 50 and ¡Forward, Russia! surprisingly only manage 53 - two ahead of Shack - as the rock kids fail to catch on. The songs won't have numbers for titles after this album, apparently. Shame, we'd like to have seen how far they could stretch it. We'd have stuck some in right out of order by now.

FREE MUSIC: Looks like this one's picking up speed at the moment, not least because it's Phill Jupitus' record of the week on 6 Music this week - we noted it down before he played it, honest. Austin, Texas sextet Sound Team deal in that kind of alt-psych stew that stirred the likes of the Walkmen and ...Trail Of Dead. The Fastest Man Alive goes up ahead of the June album release and there's a video too.

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: Further to last weekend's ruminations on the Summer Of Spector, a band we've known about for a while but kept forgetting to plug. Lucky Soul are from Deptford Fun City, have had a couple of small scale 7"s out and are blessed with a frontwoman in Ali Howard who sounds like Stina Nordenstam in the Supremes. We can't help thinking Bob Stanley is in hog heaven with all these bands emerging.

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: Right, that's enough subtlety for the week. Here's Sonic Youth and Iggy Pop laying waste to I Wanna Be Your Dog at London's Town & Country Club in 1987.

FALLING OFF A BLOG: We have a favourites folder here just for mp3 blogs, and it occasionally occurs to us that some of our favourites are taken for granted so much that we never get round to highlighting them properly. For example Moistworks, guaranteed to produce between two and ten often extraordinary mp3s from across pop, rock, R&B and so on history a day.

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: Finally, a way for those band cheerleaders you get on general music forums to be really irritating! Band Madness is an enormous popularity playoff between 512 bands where all you have to do is nominate your favourite from two often quite distinct acts. Jay-Z v Brian Eno seems to have been a close one.

IN OTHER NEWS: A couple of new editions of label podcasts have come to our attention - Transgressive have Ladyfuzz talking us through their album as well as live Young Knives and Rumble Strips from SXSW, plenty of new and recent goodness and the revelation that the Young Knives' album credits call Tim and Toby "the Ant & Dec of the indie world". The Bella Union podcast from earlier in the year is similarly well worth the effort, Gill Mills and Simon Raymonde introducing the Dears, Mazarin, Howling Bells, My Latest Novel, Midlake, the Dirty Three and so forth.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

In shops tomorrow: 22/5


So much for the break from the post-punk revival ghetto, then, as the Futureheads' Skip To The End seems to have gone politely ignored by the nation's mainstream radio. It's the track on News And Tributes that most resembles the debut's breaks for the border while still seperate enough from that template to resemble actual progress, but if the kids want their Boy Kill Boy, that's what they shall have. Similarly the Mystery Jets can only have re-released You Can't Fool Me Dennis with promises of airplay ringing in their ears, but no such luck. There's plenty about that Jo Whiley wouldn't touch with a bargepole, luckily, chiefly Midlake's superbly understated Young Bride, the Spinto Band's edging further into the section though roped off when Pavement split on Did I Tell You and Domino underdogs the Archie Bronson Outfit's 7" only slab of swamp punk Dead Funny.


Firstly, discerning reader, ignore The Bands 06 (yeah, we know we've linked to a site you can buy it from, but you know what we mean) because while most 'indie' cash-in compilations at least leaven the tone with quite a few bands the ABC1 punters won't have heard of, the closest this comes is the rubbish Union Of Knives and pop manque Hot Chip, whose own delivery of nuts white boy funk The Warning is also on shelves. Shooting At Unarmed Men may be on indefinate hiatus as Jon Chapple buggers off to Australia but the excellently titled Yes! Tinnitus is a good enough valediction of his post-McLusky sludge hardcore direction. He's still got the knack of song titles, though, as on Pathos Ate Bathos, Put Yourself On The Proverbial and In Flight Instructions Are A Joke Say I. On the other side of the coin come Tunng, out of time freak-folk for the post-electronicas and a title to match the musical surroundings, Comments Of The Inner Chorus. Actual compilation of the week? John Peel And Sheila: The Pig's Big 78s: A Beginner's Guide, a collection from the latterday regular feature apparently in the works well before John's passing and proof if it be needed that music was always weirder long ago.


New horizons in sound now, as Roger plays a solo on the electric shirt collar. In January the surviving Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band members celebrated forty years since their first release with a reunion one-off at the London Astoria, fans Stephen Fry, Adrian Edmondson, Phill Jupitus and Paul Merton pitching up to fill in for the long missed Vivian Stanshall. Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band: 40th Anniversary Celebrations keeps it for posterity.

The Weekly Sweep

Camera Obscura - Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken
Klaxons - Atlantis To Interzone
Midlake - Young Bride
Wire - Eardrum Buzz
Tapes'N Tapes - Insistor
Archie Bronson Outfit - Dead Funny
Animal Collective - Grass
Citizens Here & Abroad - You Drive And We'll Listen To Music
Sound Team - The Fastest Man Alive
ILiKETRAiNS - Terra Nova

Thursday, May 18, 2006

C30 C60 C86 Go!

Some of you may have seen this piece on the monthly mailout of a well respected UK pop culture website last month. We have had the full permission of the original writer to reprint it, largely because the original writer was us (apart from the bits TJ Worthington added, and his pop culture thoughts are all over the Net place so he barely needs more credit. Hello, TJ) Please, we're signing nothing. And yes, we did write it before Mocking Music's excellent two part chronicle of the same, with mp3s that still work. No call for that Half Man Half Biscuit judgement, though.

Nowadays, of course, an 'indie' band is a guitar outfit who have heard the Smiths and Television, whose lead singer sports a fringe and will be immediately dropped by their major label if by the second week of album release they've failed to go double platinum or clock up 3,000 Myspace 'friends'. The sort of situation, in fact, that makes the discerning fan want to look back at simpler days of mail order cassette compilations, badges on backpacks and the idea you'd made it big if Janice Long played you.

Twenty years ago this week the NME made available via mail order a cassette known as C86. This was the follow-up to C81, released five years earlier to celebrate indie Mecca the Rough Trade shop's fifth birthday and featuring a scope wide enough to encompass Scritti Politti, John Cooper Clarke, the Beat, Ian Dury and Aztec Camera. We may cover it one day. It was however C86 that made its way from title to scene, defining in cliche a certain kind of band - jangly guitars, bowl haircuts, a set of influences majoring on the Velvets, the Byrds, Syd Barrett, the Fall and the earlier Sound Of Young Scotland scene. Bob Stanley, a man whose opinions we implicity trust and who is reportedly planning an anniversary series of gigs, claims it invented the whole concept of 'indie', making him just about the only person there at the beginning who now doesn't pretend they hated it all along. Was it a principled stand against the slick production values of the mid-80s Radio 1 mainstream by means of refreshing punk's come one come all door policy or just overgrown students ignoring hip hop, misunderstanding their influences and deliberately set on underachievement? That's a socio-political argument for someone else, we're here to celebrate an odd but sizeable detour in UK alternative music, as well as ensuring mailbag bit gets filled thoroughly - completists should note Talulah Gosh, the June Brides and the back catalogue of Sarah records all came later. Now excuse us, we're off to get 500 7"s pressed up and dropped off at Rough Trade for Cartel distribution.

PRIMAL SCREAM - Velocity Girl
Fey vocals and guitars that sound a bit like Roger McGuinn's. Thus was a template for a genre set out in 81 seconds, as the Stone Roses supposedly realised while writing Made Of Stone. Still ahead: Andrew Wetherall, Luton Airport not being rock'n'roll, Rolling Stones cribbing, dark glasses, military-industrial conspiracy theorising. Bobby Gillespie's hair remains floppy, to an extent. Better than Country Girl, obviously.

Fondly remembered Wulfrunians not a million miles yet from Echo & The Bunnymen territory and gained US college radio support a few years afterwards. It turns out they were once on a label called Watchdog Video And Records, which sounds like the indie aesthetic of being run out of small local shops taken to its natural conclusion.

THE SOUP DRAGONS - Pleasantly Surprised
The same Soup Dragons who would later decide during baggy that what a Stones B-side really needed was a pro-am ragga toasting break ("these are the words me hear from my grandaddy!") were then on the way to something called The Bellshill Sound (members: the Soup Dragons) with a soaring Buzzcocks takeoff that pre-empts Ash.

THE WOLFHOUNDS - Feeling So Strange Again
A band that devote a large part of their own website to claiming they were never C86 and it was all nebulous nonsense anyway, which given they were willing to put forward upbeat Merseybeat-influenced jangle strongly suggests they doth protest too much. Influenced by the Pixies two years before they formed, were you?

Glossop's contribution to rock were much touted around mid-1987, largely on the back of this Smiths/Bunnymen/Teardrop Explodes crossover, and were supposed to be Creation Records' breakout act until Alan McGee seemingly forgot about them. We'd mention how Therese now reminds us of Kitchens Of Distinction, but this bit's already lost enough readers.

Dance music! Well, funk bass and guitar that could pass for an Afrobeat offcut if in the background, which is as near as anyone was going to get on this side of the NME office's Hip Hop Wars. In fact they might as well have been Orange Juice, the vocals in particular, although one site is keen to stress their "current phenomenal success in Japan". Yeah, we've all heard that one before.

STUMP - Buffalo
"Big bottom swing!" Just to prove it wasn't all as the template would have it, and it'd be difficult to fit Ireland's Stump into any sort of template, although 'Captain Beefheart recorded in a centrifuge with a man shouting nonsense over the top' nearly covers it. EMF's keyboard player duly told Smash Hits he was a fan. Charlton Heston was yet to put his vest on.

BOGSHED - Run To The Temple
Now shorthand for old school indie wilfil underachievement recorded for 50p, although being called Bogshed and hailing from Hebden Bridge will hardly help them shrug that off any time soon. In fact they sound not unlike early Fall on the cheap and were indie chart regulars for most of their three years together. Shambling, essentially.

A WITNESS - Sharpened Sticks
One of quite a few bands on the compilation who recorded for Ron Johnson Records. There's indie, and then there's giving your label a self-definingly wanton name like that. More northerners with Beefheart records, just as they later found their feet inventive guitarist Rick Aitken was killed in a climbing accident. Album I Am John's Pancreas has just come back out to small scale hosannahs. Tip for new bands: don't call a single I Love You Mr Disposable Razors.

THE PASTELS - Breaking Lines
There are Peel listeners of a certain age who believe Stephen Pastel to be one of British pop's leftfield geniuses. Everyone else thinks he's too twee, knowingly naive and can't sing properly, but never mind. Now officially 'an influence' they're still going, and signed to newly affluent Domino Records to boot.

THE AGE OF CHANCE - From Now On, This Will Be Your God
Groovy, doomy post-goth with more than a hint of the Jesus & Mary Chain, in all their guises at once, possibly recorded in a tunnel from Leeds types most notable for a) their Festive 50 number two cover of Prince's Kiss, which Andrew Collins will still play given half a chance, b) their attempt to make cycling gear a fashion statement

Side B kicks off in a much more delicate vein with the Pastels cohorts written up at the time as Jim and William Reid's fellow travellers, what with being Scottish too and that, but here sounding as if they'd heard the pejorative term 'twee-pop', as well as the Velvet Underground and were determined to make it stick.

CLOSE LOBSTERS - Firestation Towers
Hang on, who calls a band Close Lobsters and expects a long and fulfilling pop career? More Scots, this was their first released song, not to put too much pressure on their shoulders straight away, prior to a small impact the following year. Almost setting the gold standard for shambling, they still managed a decent US college following.

MIAOW - Sport Most Royal
Shuffling, melodic jangle pop with hat tipped in the Smiths' general direction, one of the few tracks that listeners might want to attempt a drunken sway to. Singer Cath Caroll, who was not at all suspiciously writing for the NME as a sideline at the time, went on to a solo career that was critically acclaimed while draining Factory Records' resources heavily.

HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT - I Hate Nerys Hughes (From The Heart)
Yes, in context this does look like a huge anomaly, not least as while most of the sound's never changed that much, just got smarter, they were producing funnier, more musically adept songs even then, the Bath-promoting break notwithstanding. Still producing high quality produce pretty much annually, still being tainted by association as 'that band who sing about hating people off the telly'.

THE SERVANTS - Transparent
David Westlake wanted to be one of the great poetic song crafters of the 80s but times meant it was bound never to come off despite the almost prettiness of this offering, followed by his splitting the band for a stalling solo career one EP later. D'oh. Bassist Phil King was later in Lush, while curmudgeonly future Auteur Luke Haines was in a later incarnation.

THE MACKENZIES - Big Jim (There's No Pubs In Heaven)
Back to Ron Johnson's mates, this one a right mess, starting with random, possibly untuned guitars and shouting, then turning into A Certain Ratio, then attempting both at the same time with the success rate that suggests. We've been unable to find anything else about them, so presumably after this it was goodbye Mr Mackenzies. Oh, suit yourselves.

BIG FLAME - New Way (Quick Wash And Brush Up With Liberation Theology)
Mmm. And the band name was actually typographically bIG*fLAME and the singer had a mohican, in which he wasn't alone even on this set but it's still unbecoming for 1986. More Johnsonists, this could charitably be described as a complete mess, full of atonal, freeform guitars and shouting. It was claimed that two of them were in Wham!'s original backing band. Right.

Well before Pink Sunshine, matching jackets, the hiring of truckloads of balloons for videos and the shortening of the name, they were scrappy post-feminists who boasted about not being able to play properly yet sounding not unlike Elastica. Most of their pre-pop videos, with hair maintenance bills higher than cost, are on YouTube, if you're at all interested. Which you are.

MCCARTHY - Celestial City
The political wing, although their views, as stridently expressed as their guitars were soaring elsewhere (best known song: Should The Bible Be Banned?), are lost in hazy production and stridency here which doesn't help place their highly regarded position in the mid to late 80s scene very well, and there's not much crossover to guitarist Tim Gane's future band Stereolab.

THE SHRUBS - Bullfighter's Bones
Another really bad band name and another band valuing dissonance over the melodic cliche, heavily indebted to the Fall, only with an even more guttural Mark E Smith. It's by this point that we have to say that maybe that entry list for C86 has proved unkind to many here, as while most of them showed up their influences free from soul or dance elements they weren't necessarily of a piece that genre definitions might suggest. Whither that jangle now, though?

Ah, here it is. We saw them live last year and can report they're still fiery and loud, and David Gedge still possesses the hair of a much younger man. The guitars attempt to overtake the rhythm section for pace, Gedge bemoans his lot in love, the works. In the twenty years since they've often been more subtle but with the same core standards, which might finally constitute some sort of actual C86 legacy.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Weekender : follow our lead on the 1-2-3

CHART OF DARKNESS: Gnarls Barkley clocks up a seventh week, and with nothing else really closing in for next week it could well become the first eight weeker since Wet Wet Wet's Love Is All Around. Worried yet, Bryan Adams? A slightly odd chart this week as LL Cool J's ultimately forgettable Jennifer Lopez 'duet' is at 2, Infernal climb back to 3, Shayne Ward and Kooks both suddenly get a second wind and climb within and back into the top ten respectively and the Pet Shop Boys do the usual at number 8. Daz Sampson lies in wait at 13, the scary eyed, Worzel Gummidged hair bloke and his Boy Kill Boy mates are at a quietly impressive 17 and Christina Milian appears from nowhere at 18 on downloads. Now, what are we to make of The Upper Room? They've been around for a while, playing Truck in 2004, yet suddenly they've had a promo push this year which sees adverts for their album all over the place and a number 22 single this week that as far as we can tell has had very little radio support, specialist or otherwise. Busta Rhymes' Daft Punk cribbing is a download entry at 23, five ahead of Orson (it's not a re-release, we assure you), with Hot Chip still not quite paying back the interest at 40 and the Beautiful South missing out by one. It's just not their time any more.
The Chili Peppers make the inevitable number one entry in the albums, Dirty Pretty Things at 3. Corinne Bailey Rae climbs back to eight for no good reason, Panic! At The Disco make an unwanted top 20 debut, Hayley Westenra makes a decent climb for no good reason to 20, while failing to repay the various bits of serious media that have banged on about them are Scott Walker at 51 and Matisyahu at, ahem, 156. Yeah, you're Hasidic, great. Well, we're halkaline.

FREE MUSIC: Parasol Records, vintage Illinois indie most notable for releasing the original version of White Town's number one EP, like their maxi-indiepop and it seems they might have struck gold again with The 1900s, a Chicago lo-fi sixsome of apparent eclecticism. 60s psych-garage, Stuart Murdoch's pop pen and the Velvets' abandoned organ all show up on Bring The Good Boys Home.

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: We should do more delicate stuff sometime, but for the meantime Echo Is Your Love are five Finns onto their fourth album attuned to Blonde Redhead, Sonic Youth's Goo and all that.

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: A real double whammy this week, as it's not just an excellent video off someone's old E180, it's from the original Channel 4 version of the Chart Show! With the original H.U.D.! And for the set, it's from the indie chart and it's Marc Riley up front with his post-Fall band the Creepers doing Eno's Baby's On Fire. We don't think it's deliberately meant to be out of sync in places.

FALLING OFF A BLOG: Another video blog with perfect sense of the rare and interesting stuff this week in the form of Bedazzled! As we type, see the Sweet, Bow Wow Wow, Haysi Fantayzee, Scritti Politti, Sly & The Family Stone, the Clash (on Channel 4 in 1979?), 1973 Devo, Astrud Gilberto...

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: Quick, this is only up for twelve days until the 27th May, but Sheffield's pummelling post-rockers 65daysofstatic have a free download single of Drove Through Ghosts To Get Here available to knock you square backwards.

IN OTHER NEWS: Indie MP3 has pointed out that that in this week of the twentieth anniversary of C86, of which more soon, German magazine Soundmag is releasing what could count as C06 were our music media so inclined, entitled New British Invasion. Yes, like the antecedent a lot of the bands fit a profile of the day's indie music all too rigidly, there's hardly any women and there's a couple of truly terrible band names, but who wouldn't take a chance?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

In shops tomorrow: 15/5


It's a summer of Spectorisms ahead, which is probably for the best given his trial date's been moved back to next January. Get in while you can, we say. Among the leaders in the race to take a small budget and turn it into a Wall Of Sound are Glasgow veterans Camera Obscura, whose album we raved about on the last Weekender and of which you can get the first proper taste of with the release of perhaps too late Lloyd Cole and the Commotions answer record Lloyd I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken. Lovely for the turn of the weather. Conversely, in case we get a wet one after all, it's also being lined up as the summer of glacial post-shoegazing of the type picked out by Oxfordshire's Fell City Girl, whose Swim is dramatic and darkly poetic in the manner of a far less overwrought Muse or Doves' most windswept moments. It's also going to be worth keeping an eye on their label Lavolta, currently edging Liam Frost towards a breakthrough. Frank Turner was not so long ago leader of Million Dead, a cut'n'shut of post-hardcore dynamics and politically motivated polemic that burned for two albums before extinguishing while still rising. His debut solo EP has the near-perfect title Campfire Punkrock, being blues-Braggian acoustic guitar social commentary of the highest order. The Like's What I Say And What I Mean is neither of those things but it's very much fair enough power-pop of a type nobody seems to do since Fountains Of Wayne's video director found out Rachel Hunter's agent's number.


If we have a problem with ¡Forward, Russia!'s Give Me A Wall, it's that the mask of impersonality has been allowed to slip. Call us silly, but we quite admired the fact that they were Tom, Whiskas, Rob and Katie, and that was just it, all we needed to know. Suddenly we find in the liner notes 'All songs Woodhead/Nicholls/Canning/Nicholls' and it's become all familial. Almost certainly just us, that. Anyway it's a mighty work of emo-while-not-actually-being-emo, less post-punk template than most have shepherded them into, propulsive and secretly melodic. There's a documentary on Radio 1's Lamacq Live tomorrow to tie in with it, but you can hear it in advance here. Spiritual fathers of a kind Dinosaur Jr have remastered and expanded Green Mind and Where You Been from their post-Lou Barlow, major label phase, full of J Mascis soloing and temporal changes aplenty. If you're here for the post-punk, may we highly recommend Rip It Up And Start Again: Post-punk 1978-1984, the spinoff of Simon Reynolds' excellent book which has just come out in paperback, a primer that doesn't take the easy options and mixes up the family favourites (Fall, Specials, early Human League), cult heroes (Associates, Cabaret Voltaire, Raincoats) and those to whom this may act as a jolt into wider notability (Fatal Microbes, Thomas Leer). It's fair to assume David Gedge listened to a lot of this growing up, and that knife-edge intensity pervades to this day in the Wedding Present's work no matter what prevailing trends, as recent roundup Search For Paradise: Singles 2004-5 shows. And for calming influences, Grandaddy perhaps get out at the right time but not without giving things a long, hard think on Just Like The Fambly Cat - now there's a band who'll require re-evaluation in a few years, as The Sophtware Slump seems not to have delivered on its deserved promises of greatness - and Shack retake their melodies for the ages territory on Noel Gallagher label-issued On The Corner Of Miles And Gil. Yes, 60s counter-culture, we get it.

The Weekly Sweep

Pipettes - Pull Shapes
Anathallo - Hoodwink
¡Forward, Russia! - Eighteen
Go-Betweens - Bachelor Kisses
Final Fantasy - Arctic Circle
TV On The Radio - Province
REM - Exhuming McCarthy
The 1900s - Bring The Good Boys Home
Gnarls Barkley - Gone Daddy Gone
Lily Allen - LDN

Saturday, May 13, 2006

An Illustrated Guide To... The Go-Betweens

"The Go-Betweens have made their final album. They have played their final show. We let it rest at that, being very proud of what we have done". Thus did Robert Forster bring the curtain down on a trailblazing 29-year partnership with Grant McLennan curtailed by the latter's death last Saturday in his sleep at his Brisbane home, their final show having been a private party three days earlier at Cate Blanchett's home. The Australian Senate raised a motion heralding "the contribution made to music by McLennan as a songwriter and performer over nearly three decades", while Luke Haines, Lloyd Cole, Edwyn Collins and Norman Blake were among those leaving messages in the book of condolence on the band's label's website. Three few months ago Forster told an interviewer that the songs McLennan was writing were among his best ever.

Forster and McLennan met as art students at the University of Queensland in 1977, bonding over films, literature and New York punk, and it was Robert who took the lead in forming a band, teaching McLennan the bass and the pair of them plus drummer Dennis Cantwell recording and pressing 500 copies of the primitive sunny garage of Lee Remick. Released on their own Able Label in September 1978, the liner notes dedicated it to Creedence Clearwater Revival's John Fogerty, Natalie Wood, protest singer Phil Ochs, Michael Cole (US actor from The Mod Squad celebrated in Australia for drunkenly swearing on a live awards show) and "that Striped Sunlight Sound". In the DVD of the same title released earlier this year Forster explains this was a term the pair of them had kicked around at the time to explain the feeling they were aiming for on their records. More ears were pricked up by the similarly self-financed second single.

People Say

Fans of the emerging Postcard Records, they jumped at Alan Horne's invitation to record and release I Need Two Heads for them a year later, featuring Orange Juice's Steven Daly. A couple of line-up experiments later Lindy Morrison arrived on drums and they relocated to Melbourne to sign with indie Missing Link and record first album Send Me A Lullaby (a title Morrison rescued from being Two Wimps And A Witch), picked up by Rough Trade in Europe. Recalling Jonathan Richman, to whose Bezerkley label they nearly signed, neither Grant nor Robert would talk highly of it later on, a rough hewn affair perhaps too much in thrall to its CBGBs and angular early UK new wave influences, although there's plenty of ideas and the NME weren't far wrong or prescient in describing it as "a record of tremendous depth, a mystery to be fathomed". A friendship with the Birthday Party led to many a UK tour and the band settled in London before recording the superior second effort Before Hollywood in Eastbourne with John Brand, whose previous clients included Aztec Camera, Magazine and, um, Kiss. It was here that McLennan graduated to sharing the tracklisting with Forster (whose favourite album this is), producing tributes to his father in Dusty In Here and the song that will outlive him the longest, Cattle And Cane, Grant's astonishingly humanist evocation of growing up on a cattle station in Queensland written on Nick Cave's acoustic guitar and voted by the Australasian Performing Right Association in 2001 as one of the ten greatest songs the continent has ever produced (Friday on My Mind by the Easybeats was number one, if you must know) and by Bono as one of his top three ever. Forster would later write about being woken up by his flatmates because Radio 1 was playing it, the DJ (unrecorded) appealing for any information about the band as he didn't have anything other than the name. As Robert ruminated, what sort of label sends records out without any extra details?

That Way
Cattle And Cane video

Robert Vickers took over McLennan's bass so he could move to guitar for Spring Hill Fair, named after the Brisbane suburb where all four members once lived, which followed in 1984 on Sire Records. Another step forward, this is their first really consistent album, recorded in Cannes in a studio Wham! moved into straight after they left. A wider ranging effort, from Part Company, one of pop's very few unsentimental break-up songs, to the strange spoken word frenzy River Of Money, while McLennan described Unkind And Unwise as the more cynical grown-up version of Cattle And Cane. The NME's Mat Snow compared it to Blood On The Tracks for emotional punch; Forster would claim it was his shot at a proper MOR album. If so, he got it very wrong.

Draining The Pool For You
Bachelor Kisses video

Unfortunately it didn't sell and Sire dropped them, Beggars Banquet picking them up for 1986's Liberty Belle And The Black Diamond Express after a deal with Elektra went up in smoke when the label did. This was a more reflective, almost commercial effort that nearly gave them a radio hit in Spring Rain. The sound, somewhat bogged down by that album's production values, expanded with the addition of multi-instrumentalist (keyboards, violin, clarinet, oboe) Amanda Brown, with whom McLennan would embark upon a relationship at much the same time Forster and Morrison were. Reportedly the band discovered her playing Draining The Pool for You in a coffee bar. Tallulah was a poppier, glossier album that gave them a top 100 UK album chart debut but was no great shakes, following which Vickers left to move to New York, being replaced by John Willsteed, just as the rest of the band were moving back to Australia. 1988's 16 Lovers Lane. Later referred to as "the indie Rumours", as in Fleetwood Mac, suffused with depth melancholy referring to the two songwriters' band internal love affairs, Forster writing in the same bedroom he penned Lee Remick in. More acoustic and thoughtful, it nearly provided an actual hit in Streets Of Your Town and did lead to an REM support slot and a number 81 position.

Streets Of Your Town (live in 2005)
Was There Anything I Could Do?

However tensions, not just between lovers but between songwriters increasingly uncomfortable with having to share albums, led to a break up in December 1989. Morrison and Brown briefly made up Cleopatra Wong (Morrison now does community music work and artistic direction in Sydney, Brown writes soundtracks, does session work and turns up on the new Vines album), while Forster moved to Bavaria and released four solo albums, the darker, more narrative Danger Of The Past (1990 - anyone who has the Harvey's Rabbit cover of Is This What You Call Change? available, do get in touch), self-produced folky experiment Calling From A Country Phone (1993), countrified covers collection I Had A New York Girlfriend, which featured Bad Seeds/Dirty Three violinist Warren Ellis (1994) and Edwyn Collins-produced Warm Nights (1997). McLennan collaborated briefly with The Church's Steve Kilbey in Jack Frost and made four low-key, literate and very much cult solo offerings, Watershed (1991), Fireboy (1994), Horsebreaker Star (1995) and In Your Bright Ray (1997). In 1992, the same year as Go-Betweens best of Bellavista Terrace, he went on a major joint headlining tour. With Robert Forster.

Grant McLennan - From My Lips

In fact, despite assurances that they didn't really want to get back together permanently, in 1996 French magazine Les Inrockuptibles invited them to play a reunion gig for their tenth anniversary, having judged 16 Lovers Lane to be one of the three best albums of that decade. A few other dates, with Forster's live backing duo of Adele Pickvance on bass and Glenn Thompson on drums, followed, and in 2000 the inevitable happened. The Friends Of Rachel Worth was produced by the Quasi duo of Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss, the latter bringing her Sleater-Kinney bandmates along, and apparently Elliott Smith and Stephen Malkmus popped by the studio at some stage. While not their most fully charged album the hosannahs were meaningful, a Later With Jools Holland appearance theirs, and a couple of years' touring were followed by Bright Yellow Bright Orange, a 2003 release less fixated with catching up with modern rock and settling into their acoustic folk side, and last year's Oceans Apart, an underrated return to the mid-80s stripped down indie-AOR sound and winner of the Adult Contemporary Album award at that year's ARIAs.

Here Comes A City (yes, we know we uploaded this at Christmas, but so what, it's great)

In the wake of McLennan's passing Forster described him as "the happiest I had ever known him" and Morrison revealed she, Brown and the songwriters had met earlier this year to finally resolve their personal differences. McLennan was more often than not the writer more attuned to his feelings and reminiscences, lighter but subtler and more expansive, while Forster was edgier, more the sociologist and more romantically inclined. For eight albums the combination worked beautifully.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

We're still here

Just working on some other stuff for other people. We'll try and get something up tomorrow.

What we can say is that almost despite our best qualitative efforts we must report that We Are The Pipettes (out July 19th, yes, Memphis Industries, we will properly buy it at the time) is superb, a totally summery, fun record that defies most attempts to be cynical about it through sheer force of nature. However, this new photo that seems to have appeared on their Myspace today...

What is going on here? Isn't it a bit early in the career to be playing with the dress colour scheme? Why does Gwenno look like she's auditioning for Blake's 7? Were this a cartoon, would Rose's eyes be spinning in concentric circles as if she'd been hypnotised? Is that Becki or a heavily made up Edith Bowman? Are these actual people or shop dummies given wigs and realistic make-up?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Weekender : known knowns

CHART OF DARKNESS: The Soul Machine and, erm, The Mouse hang on in there singles wise for a sixth week, the longest for a debut since Wannabe, which managed seven. You'd imagine it'd be a new entry that's going to knock it off unless LL Cool J's relatively low-key release with Jennifer Lopez, and there's two artists who rack up the top ten singles without many noticing or indeed caring, climbs from its download position of 15 or the Chili Peppers or Beatfreakz make up their one and two positions respectively. Notably we've hit the sticky patch of the Michael Jackson campaign as Remember The Time only makes 22 - and this is with In The Closet and Jam up next - one behind We Are Scientists. Sigur Ros make number 24, probably quite some way down on where it could have been had their label been quicker off the mark when the Planet Earth adverts were on. Captain, whose Broke everyone except us seems to love - it sounds like Deacon Blue! - is at 34, six ahead of ¡Forward, Russia! Entries further down of note are Big Brovaz' comeback stalling at 57, with what we chart scientists call the Mark Morrison Comeback Effect, and Jim Noir at 65 with a song that isn't the one briefly featured on the Adidas advert.
Snow Patrol cement their position as the people's Travis as Eyes Open hits number one, and we're campaigning for the track that namechecks Sufjan Stevens to be the next single. A big hurrah for the rock fanbases as Tool land at 4 and Pearl Jam, apparently now led by Justin Lee Collins, at 5. Nina Simone's new best of finds the least welcome of hooks to be released on but still manages 20, while at 24 UMTV go for a spectacularly facile spoiling tactic by bringing out a new Best Of Scott Walker And The Walker Brothers a week before Walker's latest industrial magnum opus. Nothing from Tilt on it, no. You know, by the way, how Kanye West's greatness has been laid out by the press as being proved by his live show? Late Orchestration, the string section Abbey Road gig much dreamy-eyed over, snuck out as an album last week and lands at 59.

FREE MUSIC: To us the first few months of the year has been lacking one of those albums that comes out of nowhere full of goodness and picks up praise as the year goes along and word of mouth spreads. On June 5th it seems that one might just be delivered in the shape of seasoned Glaswegian indie dreamers Camera Obscura's Let's Get Out Of This Country. Like a Spectorised Belle & Sebastian or a downbeat Concretes it's perfect for those lazy sunny days like the two we had last week. D'oh! See what you think with I Need All The Friends I Can Get and the title track.

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: Last year at Summer Sundae one of our great self-kicking moments was arriving at the Rising Stage just in time to see Leicstrians Redcarsgofaster's last song. Luckily they've been put on the main stage this year so we've got less excuse. Not that we'd have missed them in any case on the evidence of the new songs they've put up, melding the melodic post-emo of a Jetplane Landing with the dark post-punk of the Interpolites and a very obvious sense of why they were picked for the last Dance To The Radio compilation. We've just noticed the singer has the same name as Jamie of Runout Groove fame. That'd be too much of a coincidence, wouldn't it? Wouldn't it?

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: Sometimes these videos defy even our attempts to explain or categorise. The Road To Oranges & Lemons History Of XTC Puppet Show, for instance, Andy Partridge, Colin Moulding and Dave Gregory themselves in 1989 pissing about with dolls and potatoes for almost ten glorious minutes.

FALLING OFF A BLOG: Always good to see a newish blog that, like ourselves, eschews the quick and easy pleasures/getout clause of the advance mp3, so hello to Music Like Dirt - reviews, conjecture, rantage and, most vitally, a Pipettes piece featuring three photos of Rose. Those are going on the spare room wall for sure.

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: Again, words are turning to ashes in our mind. For a few days more, You Ain't No Picasso houses We Are Scientists covering Sigur Ros

IN OTHER NEWS: And special news now for everyone finding the site via that Fyfe Dangerfield interview we did. That's you, last.fm forum. As we kind of expected everything Guillemots-wise has been moved backwards, with Made Up Love Song now out at the end of June and the album currently slated for 10th July. MC Lord Magrao's managed to get a trademark guitar-plus-drill onto the single reworking, inevitably. Plus they've covered the Streets' Never Went To Church for the B-side of that single.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

In shops tomorrow: 8/5


This won't take long this week. Often skronky lowlanders once with massive reputations whose current albums seem to have passed most people by take up most of our single interest this week in the shape of dEUS' What We Talk About When We Talk About Love and the Radio Dept's The Worst Taste In Music. If you're that way inclined, the Hornised retro synths have returned to the Pet Shop Boys sound on I'm With Stupid


Scott Walker's The Drift? Don't expect us to be able to decode what's going on, as what we've heard makes Tilt seem like a four to the floor dance record that samples 80s MOR. Still, at least he's well and giving interviews again. One curio that's slipping out this week is Gold Digging: As Sampled By Kanye West, probably not artist endorsed unlike those Fatboy Slim sample compilations from his imperial phase but still a repository of his anthology of everything from the obvious Mayfield and Bassey to Etta James' version of My Funny Valentine, Gil Scott Heron, Al Green and the Chi-Lites.


They will sneak these out when we're not concentrating, but really we should have spotted PJ Harvey On Tour - Please Leave Quietly last week. Although recorded in 2004 on the Uh Huh Her tour the main 16-song set is a grab-bag from across her career edited together from any number of camera angles and incorporating backstage and rehearsal business, video diaries and general rough-hewn gubbins, somewhere between concert document and arty documentary.

The Weekly Sweep

Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out Of This Country
Futureheads - Skip To The End
Billy Bragg - The Price I Pay
Flaming Stars - You Don't Always Want What You Get
Young Knives - She's Attracted To
Controller.Controller - Poison/Safe
Midlake - Young Bride
Maccabees - Latchmere
Proton Proton - Plates
Tapes'N Tapes - Cowbell

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Grant McLennan

...of the Go-Betweens has died, three months after Robert Forster declared he was writing "his strongest batch of songs ever". Given his back catalogue includes Cattle and Cane, one of Bono's favourite ever songs, this must have been some collection. We'll expand on all this with an Illustrated Guide some time next week but in the meantime a quick video inventory: Bachelor Kisses from 1984's Spring Hill fair, Spring Rain from 1986's Liberty Belle And The Black Diamond Express, Right Here from the following year's Tallulah and from last year's Oceans Apart Here Comes A City (smaller version of same)

Low Country's low numbers

Back into the world's singles charts as we alight on what the good folk of Holland have been listening to. Is it all still mindless house?

20 The Opposites - Slaap
Something Europeans do very well is forceful male rapping over a light groove, except not a lot of those appear to be duetting with a child. This must be Will Smith territory.

19 Bo & Monica - Gonna Be A Star
A song about being a star. This must be that self-aware Europop Alcazar fans are always going on about.

18 The Source feat. Candi Staton - You Got The Love
Even they must have had this several times before the latest go round.

17 Sugababes - Red Dress
Fated never to be reviewed again without the piece ending on a rhetorical query as to when they're going to have a big fight again. Maybe eventually they'll become a kind of Britgirl Menudo.

16 Corinne Bailey Rae - Put Your Records On
And so the expansion plan begins. A couple of years ago she'd have been lumped in with th nu-jazz fraternity, we bet.

15 Rihanna - SOS
'Features sample from TAINTED LOVE' says a sticker on the single, just in case Rihanna thought it might have sold on its own rhythmic qualities.

14 Andrea Bocelli & Marco Borsato - Because We Believe
The Russell Watson of Holland, except with more years on the clock and less of an air of preening self-importance, joins the perennial Des O'Connor favourite.

13 James Blunt - Wisemen
Would be the most unwelcome in equal measure export here were it not for The Feeling at 26.

12 Sean Paul - Temperature
Desperately searching for more 'featuring' credits to back his faltering career path up a bit.

11 Pink - Stupid Girls
As we've said before, she can write it as ironically as she likes but the cover is a spoof of a Paris Hilton advert we've never seen in Britain and thus is just Pink In A Bikini to all of us.

10 Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
The new Hey Ya, or something. Again, as with the days when a project produced by Dan The Automator and featuring contributions from Damon Albarn and one of Cibo Matto sold a million, we must wonder why this has been allowed to happen while being very glad that it has.

9 Meck featuring Leo Sayer - Thunder In My Heart Again
"Father?" Do they even know who Leo Sayer is/was in Holland?

8 Skin - Just Let The Sun
Skunk Anansie Skin rather than hard rock Skin, Ms Dyer having always been far more popular on the continent solo. Co-writer: Paul Draper formerly of Mansun! So that's where he is!

7 Pussycat Dolls - Beep
It must be a pisser to the other girls that the only one anywhere near FHM's latest list (and by the way, who the sod is Keeley Hazell?) is Nicole, the one brought in as the singing counterpoint.

6 Simon Webbe - No Worries
Curious sleeper success of album still unaccounted for, unless someone was selling it for a few pence somewhere.

5 Red Hot Chili Peppers - Dani California
Note in the video the section where they're dressed as the Misfits. Again with the cross-cultural overhead-clearing!

4 Mary J Blige & U2 - One
Amount of point of this: less than one.

3 Juanes - La Camisra Negra
Didn't achieve the international crossover its label had hoped for here, ignoring the golden tenet of British record buyers - unless it's an end of summer holiday hit, it can get outta here if it's not in English.

2 Raffaela - Right Here Right Now
Not the Europop bikini-friendly video'd Jesus Jones cover you might have hoped for but the Dutch Idol winner sounding like 1993 Mariah Carey.

1 Shakira - Hips Don't Lie
They don't tend to tell the truth much either, but clearly this is being overlooked for internal political manoevurings of some stripe. Featuring Wyclef Jean, which has killed any idea this might be up to her occasional nuts standards straight off.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Post some bills

An update on some of the less Mean Fiddlised (apart from one) festivals we're either going to or would love to go to (hint hint, press pass suppliers):

Guilfest: With Radio 2 sponsorship, which we don't recall seeing before. Headliners are Embrace on the Friday after the World Cup final, A-Ha on Saturday and, crumbs, Billy Idol on the Sunday, with reactivated Wonder Stuff and Lightning Seeds among the other bands confirmed, who are the as usual eclectic mix of Gary Numan, the Stranglers, Sparks, Stereo MCs, Morning Runner, Nizlopi, Blue Oyster Cult, the Waterboys and the Levellers.

Latitude: We've not covered this before because co-creator Melvin Benn was being very secretive about its origins, but now it can be told. It's at Henham Park Estate, Beccles from 14th to 16th July, £95 the three days, and it's kind of a cross between those European arts festivals and something like Hay-On-Wye, promising art both performance and standable, comedy (Rob Newman, Robin Ince's Book Club, Guilty Pleasures DJs), cabaret, film and theatre and the like along with music, with only headliners Snow Patrol, Mogwai and Antony And The Johnsons so far announced. Proof of the pudding and all that.

Truck: Mystery Jets have been confirmed as one headliner, with the other yet to be announced. Until the Futureheads announced it in this month's The Fly magazine, obviously. Elsewhere we find ¡Forward, Russia!, Chicks On Speed, the Young Knives, Hundred Reasons, Jetplane Landing, The Organ, 65daysofstatic, The Research, Chris T-T, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, Regina Spektor, Seth Lakeman and Anathallo.

Cambridge Folk Festival: Folk by the skin of its teeth, of course. The shebang starts on Thursday 27th July with Chumbawamba and Nizlopi, Friday features Richard Thompson, Amadou & Mariam, Seth Lakeman and the Broken Family Band, Saturday stars the Chieftans, Cerys Matthews, Nickel Creek, Cara Dillon and Teddy Thompson, with Emmylou Harris, Eddi Reader and Rodrigo Y Gabriela rounding the thing off.

Summer Sundae: Just about everyone who's ever read this blog will be there. Oh, you mean performing? A superb value bill sees Elbow headline the Friday over Delays, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Richard Hawley, DJ Format, Seth Lakeman, Baxter Dury and the Blockheads with Phill Jupitus; Saturday is headed by, um, Gomez ahead of Calexico, the Proclaimers, Martha Wainwright, Nouvelle Vague, Vashti Bunyan, Isobel Campbell, Brakes, ¡Forward, Russia! and the Young Knives, while Belle & Sebastian cap it all off with the aid of Jose Gonzalez, Coldcut, Morning Runner, the Buzzcocks, Guillemots, The Boy Least Likely To, Long Blondes and Larrikin Love.

Green Man: A new venue and a refreshment of the facilities including a later licence aid a vastly improved bill. Donovan, Jose Gonzalez and Calexico headline while Bert Jansch, King Creosote, James Yorkston, Martha Wainwright, Teddy Thompson, Gruff Rhys, Kieran Hebden with Steven Reid, the Television Personalities, Tunng, Archie Bronson Outfit, Euros Childs, The Aliens, Chris T-T and Brave Captain swell the bill out among many others.

Secret Garden Party: Keep your eyes open around Huntingdon, that's all they'll say. The first lot of acts were announced this very day, being Graham Coxon, Prince Buster, Larrikin Love, the Long Blondes, Lily Allen The Latest Myspace Star (to give her her full name), OK Go, The Real Tuesday Weld, a reunion Utah Saints set, the Dub Pistols, the Chalets, Dawn Penn, Seal Club Clubbing Club, Infadels and the Rumble Strips.

Bestival: Fancy dress shops as far away as Dorchester will be out of stock. Corking headliners in the Pet Shop Boys and Scissor Sisters, both on their only festival shows of the summer, plus the usual remarkable and eclectic line-up encompassing Devendra Banhart, the Stranglers, The Fall, King Creosote, Jamie T, Kid Creole and the Coconuts (!), the Young Knives, Kanda Bongo Man, The Boy Least Likely To, James Yorkston and the Fence Collective in general, The Aliens, Jeremy Warmsley, Klaxons, Tunng, Jegsy Dodd, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Breaks Co-op, Hot Chip, John Martyn, Mystery Jets, Nizlopi, Son Of Dave and a cartel of international DJs.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Weekender : with flowers in our hair

CHART OF DARKNESS: Gnarls Barkley now top both trees, meaning a) the immediate end of two burgeoning cult underground careers (Danger Mouse was hardly the main selling point of the Gorillaz album), b) more money than Gordon Gano has seen in his life as the Violent Femmes' Gone Daddy Gone is on the album and c) a rapid curtailment approaching of Crazy's shelf life as a hit everybody seems to like. The Noughties alt-trailblazer footnote race is won by Raconteurs at 4, one ahead of Dirty Pretty Things, with Snow Patrol, who, by the way reviewers, haven't always sounded like that no matter what your glib 'same path' line states, at 7 and the not as popular as they think he is Tom Jones with Chicane at 8. Inevitably the highest download entry is the Chili Peppers' "will this do?" at 12, notably outside the top ten despite that Top Of The Pops special and a mountain of press, ahead of Beatfreakz going straight to square one and sampling Michael Jackson (albeit through Rockwell, although the video forgets and spoofs Thriller instead) at 21. Despite TOTP interest the golden age of Finnish pop-metal is over as HIM only manage 26, which means those unheady days of MTV2 texters declaring they should play more of them as Ville Valo is like sooooo fit are surely over.
As mentioned not even his Woolworths adverts could keep Shayne Ward at the top for two weeks, and he nearly gets taken by Bruce Springsteen's low-key Pete Seeger covers album too. Rihanna surprisingly converts her singles success to number 6, with other top ten entries for Emmylou Harris' unwise duets album with Mark Knopfler and self appointed loverman, which we can't be alone in thinking is more than slightly unbefitting a man solely famous for impersonating Ray Charles, Jamie Foxx. Taking Back Sunday continue the march of the emo-lites at 18 with Panic! At The Disco also making their top twenty debut. Slightly better them than Led Zep cribbers Wolfmother, the band who make the Datsuns seem forward thinking, who are at 25. The Nerina Pallot push, which helpfully obscures how last year she'd have been labelled The New Dido and left to rot, didn't work as Fires enters at 41.

FREE MUSIC: They're actually New Yorkers, but Group Sounds have an air of that kind of Swedish power-punk that aided the Hives to briefly straddle the globe. We're not quite sure what Belly Up most sounds like - XTC's Mayor Of Simpleton? Joe Jackson's Is She Really Going Out With Him? Costello's Lip Service? - but it's barely complicated quick fix new wave revival goodness in any case.

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: Still in the mood for expansive outfits that utilise a full range of instruments and have their own semi-dreamy lyrical world? Meet Anathallo, a Michigan septet who've been around for quite a few years mixing the Modest Arcade Social signature expansive, sharply turning indie sound with subtle horn sections, Sufjan-esque delicacy, complex, shifting arrangements and a range of oddly deployed instruments including chains, bells and anything that makes a noise when hit. Their album's out here in July and they're touring to promote it, including popping by Truck Festival. Round about then we suspect you'll be hearing a lot more from them, if anyone can get their head around them.

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: Just to celebrate May Day, a double helping of appropriate anti-capitalism from prime Gang Of Four, a propulsive To Hell With Poverty on the Old Grey Whistle Test and Damaged Goods for Germany's semi-legendary Rockpalast in 1983.

FALLING OFF A BLOG: This is how the blog community works. We're fans of Jamie's Runout Groove, which has recently housed an ongoing Pulp retrospective, Chris Cunningham videos for the Auteurs, Neil Young, Sparks, the Specials, the Manics and suchlike. From there we learnt about Tower Of Song, a site that tries to put the music it loves into context without really veering into that overanalytical Pseud's Corner candidature that blights so many writers who attempt to focus on just the music nowadays.

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: Surely there's no way that Graham Fellows could have claimed in the mid-90s that John Shuttleworth and his extended family were real people seeking a proper label contract, but the ever alert WMFU has got the best out what they supposed to be a hoax by posting their 'demo tape'.

IN OTHER NEWS: PETA have launched a World's Sexiest Vegetarian online poll for god knows what reason, other than perhaps to prove that all the accepted pin-ups of the day might as well be gnawing straight from a live cow. Behold a Sexiest Man poll that includes Ian Parton from the Go! Team, Jamie/Hotel from the Kills, Jason Trachtenberg of the titular Slideshow Players, We Are Scientists' Keith Murray, Russell from Bloc Party and, magnificently, Barney from Napalm Death. We suspect Chrissie Hynde, for all her work, might not quite win the Sexiest Female section, although at least she's more likely a candidate than two members of Tilly And The Wall.