Saturday, September 30, 2006

All is still

We'd hoped to get a new chart, a new Friendly Chat or a new featurette up for tonight, but nothing came of any of them for the time being. That's us right there. Meanwhile we're focus grouping (with no focus group as yet) an idea for a new feature over on our Myspace blog. If you're our friend, do tell us what we think, or just reprimand us on how badly we've worded it.

Meanwhile our continued watching over Lauren Laverne's every move saw her pitch up on The Culture Show earlier, and while you could tell there was some of the old joi de vivre poised ready to burst out of the Pop Culture Presenter Blonde #6538 she seems to have slotted herself into it was to little avail. Is this really eight years ago?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

We know, being UK-based music bloggers...

...that we're supposed to fall head over heels for every Girls Aloud single, but isn't Something Kinda Ooh just a poor retread of Wake Me Up? Good to see they've kept with the tradition of spending a tenner on the video, though.

In other maxi-POP news, Ian points out Johnny Boy are supporting James Dean Bradfield on three dates of his forthcoming tour. Still no sign of the album getting a UK release, leaving their hitrate currently at one number 50 single. Ever seen the You Are The Generation... video, then?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Weekender : we believe that it's called al fresco

CHART OF DARKNESS: Going to try and start cutting these down in length now, as chart idiosyncracy only gets you so far. So, the Scissor Sisters remain supreme and take over both top spots as the Killers prove that Americana only gets you so far in Britain. Relatively. Janet Jackson has the next proper new entry, from an album that for some reason is called 20 Year Old, and she adds to her recent collection of hits you'll never remember in a few months time. Lil' Chris, of all people, is the highest download entry of ten in the top 75, even though we don't know anyone who remembers Rock School or him. Jet stay out of serious harm's reach at 23, the Zutons at 24 is only worth mentioning for the semi-disgusted way Lauren Laverne says the title on the TV advert, the Automatic run out of road at 25 and Keisha White, the soulstress whose singles get blanket music TV and Radio 2 play in lieu of anyone else noticing, limps to 63. Elton John's late follow-up to Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy is at 6 in the albums - it's back to basics, donchaknow - while DJ Shadow debuts outside the top 20 (24) for the first time, perhaps not uncoincidentally the first of his three sets not to be entirely comprised of obscure samples. Get Cape Wear Cape Fly makes a not unwelcome surprise top 30 debut, one ahead of the big budgeted Fergie, while Bonnie Prince Billy gives Will Oldham a Guinness Book debut (we think) at 70.

FREE MUSIC: At pencil sketch level Brazil could be said to be a musically diverse place, what with its main musical corner posts being samba, Sepultura, Astrud Gilberto and, um, MC Lord Magrao. Postal Blue prove they can do Belle & Sebastian-type indie too, the vocals sounding remarkably Murdochesque, plus more than a hint of June Brides jangle and Teenage Fanclub ambition. The World Doesn't Need You would fit perfectly onto our mythical C06.

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: Barbados-born, Edinburgh-raised Kat Flint, it's fair to say, likes a good typing session. Her extensive blog and lengthy self-descriptions on her corner of Murdochsound ("I write lyrics about junkyard prostitutes, life in the fearsome crowd and the fact that your lover is 72.8% water. I was told once that I'm pretty good on guitar "for a girl". I wasn't sure if that was a compliment. I am an active campaigner against teenage angst and histrionics in music") are one attraction, but by no means the main one. That'll be the indiscrimintaly intimate folk-pop, reminiscent of the Thea Gilmore end of nu-folk or a stripped back Julianne Regan, or kind of what you'd think KT Tunstall would sound like if all you knew was that she'd been on the periphery of the Fence Collective. We haven't got a clue what Channel 4's New Lyric Award is when it's at home, but she won it last year, which sounds good.

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: We mentioned Pancake Mountain, Washington-based children's cable access show with a much greater guest list than most children's shows, on here last July, but now we can all share in proof of its special kind of madness. A sheep interviews a bemused Ricky Wilson and saturnine Nick Hodgson, Metric's Emily Haines finds a tough crowd to crack and almost certainly the only broadcast of the sentence "one day on Pancake Mountain Captain Perfect didn't show up, so Billy Lunn of the Subways tried to fill in".

FALLING OFF A BLOG: As spotted by Keep Hope Inside, Kilroy's Chinos is run by the gutarist from Shake My Hand (nee Yossarian). It's beginning to sound like we're on comission from them, isn't it? Three posts old at the moment, but it's looking good already.

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: SFX, which Google turns up very little about, was an attempt at launching a fortnightly music magazine on cassette in 1981 and doesn't seem to have made it past the end of 1982. Here's four of them ripe for the downloading. (Finder's credit: Indie mp3)

IN OTHER NEWS: Online magazines start up every day, but we must support them all just in case. So, Neu! Magazine interview worthwhile bands, as well as the Horrors, do reviews, link to free mp3s and all that jazz, and is in summary quite the diversion.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

In shops tomorrow: 25/9


A hefty week for releases all round, just the singles featuring quite a few big shots and a few we had to sieve out to keep this bit manageable. Let's start with three former Friendly Chatters, as they're the ones most likely to remember us, and going on both alphabetical order and sheer affectingness - is that a word? Whatever - we'll kick off with Jeremy Warmsley. In fact, we'd be so bold as to state here in the public domain that you won't hear many more affecting singles all year than I Believe In The Way You Move, which as well as being that rarity, a reworking of a previous single that's better than the original, weaves together many disprite elements in his self-production, from brass crescendos to electronics to Tom Rogerson's sparkling piano runs (oh, and yet another ex-Chatter, Emmy The Great, on backing vocals), yet the effect adds to the atmosphere rather than overwhelms it, with a disarming heartfeltness at its heart. That he's not being shouted from national rooftops, something that's not for the want of Transgressive Records trying, is indicative of something very wrong at the heart of pop media of late. Imagine what he'd be like putting that short story you've been cradling for years to music, eh? Well, that's exactly what could happen if you win a competition he's running, the results of which will be on the next single's vinyl B-side. Next up, a song that first appeared on an EP Transgressive put out a year and a bit ago when the Pipettes were a mere support act curio. For many Judy was the song that demonstrated that they just might have substance behind the schtick, and now they're a growing cult indiepop outfit (stick their name through YouTube for evidence), which given their oft quoted desire to be seen as a pure pop band must be both a blessing and a curse, its morally confused sway gets a proper release. Our Trying Too Hard? Department would like us to mention that one of the vinyl B-sides is called The Burning Ambition Of Early Diuretics. We weren't even trying to find extra connections between these in any other way than showing off how great we are at questions, but Gareth Parton (actually, we've Chatted with him too, haven't we? We hope everyone involved is making note of this), co-producer of the above, went on to weave studio spells around the jagged Wire/Pixies/all points west edges and turbo-realism of the Victorian English Gentlemens Club. Impossible Sightings Over Shelton, a 6 Music breakfast record of the week, looks to finally be getting them somewhere. It's about Adam observing the patients at the Shelton mental hospital near Shrewsbury where he worked as a cleaner, constantly looking out of the windows at the skies, which we mention as an apology for our badly worded question about their lyrics. Quickly through the best of the rest as we've got plenty to get through - Texas buzz band Voxtrot go staccato jangle on very promising opening shot EP Mothers Sisters Daughters And Wives, Franz-approved The Blood Arm start turning into their seniors on Suspicious Character and James Dean Bradfield, recently sighted on The Sharon Osbourne Show, pays tribute to the Manics' late publicist Philip Hall on album standout An English Gentleman, backed by a cover of Sinatra standard Summer Wind. 7"s of note are the return of Canada's most perverse the Hidden Cameras with album title track Awoo and the return of Simple Kid on double A side Serotonin/The Ballad Of Elton John.


Not that Sweden was ever exactly lacking in sugary-sour guitar bands, but there's been an extraordinary upsurge in classy Anglophilic Scandinavian indiepop with the last three letters capitalised over the last couple of years, from the twee carnivals of Suburban Kids With Biblical Names to the Radio Dept's lo-fi to Jens Lekman's lamentations to Peter Bjorn & John's top 40 gatecrashing. It was really only a matter of time before someone declared that hey, let's do the show right here, which is where I'm From Barcelona step in. As with obvious hydra-headed goodtime antecedents the Polyphonic Spree you'd probably wear of them much quicker over time, but Let Me Introduce My Friends's literal DIY ethic, all 29 members playing, shaking, chorusing and doing whatever else feels necessary, makes for a sunny experience. Emanuel Lundgren does look like Kevin Eldon as Rod Hull with a moustache, though. Back in Blighty, it seems that our own current hub of at least highly publicised creativity is out in south west London, not too far from Eel Pie Island where you could make a case that all this started. Larrikin Love are currently one of those bands who you're sure could make a breakthrough were anyone listening, and sales of The Freedom Spark might surprise a few people in the way the Young Knives album being a smidgeon away from top 20 status did. Edward Larrikin hijacks the good ship Albion on its way to Arcadia, bringing with it gypsy-ska-Smiths-skiffle-reggae-Pogues-punk - ask for it by name - and, still whisper it, a concept. Beguiling. As, in a different way, are The Early Years, whose eponymous debut merges guitar dronescapes, Krautrock rhythms and shoegazing rushes, like Secret Machines getting somewhere. Brian Eno was apparently watching on rapt at Truck this year. We didn't see him, but we saw them there at completely the wrong time of day (the midday sun) and were awed. It's been five years since we've heard from Mark Linkous AKA Sparklehorse, since when he's been producing Nina Persson's A Camp project, moving to North Carolina, playing bass on the Danger Doom album, working on Daniel Johnson projects and battling mental problems. Somewhere in the middle he's been working on the next step in his psychedelic alt-country path, Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain, part produced by Danger Mouse and perhaps not uncoincidentally sounding not unlike the White Album. Lots of returning heroes this week, as Evan Dando resurrects the Lemonheads name for a self-titled jaunt that sounds as much like they always did as he looks unchanged, Lloyd Cole's craftsmanlike songsmithery returns for the first time in three years on Anti Depressant, Stephen Jones' decision to work under his own name didn't last long as Babybird partly reform for Between My Ears There's Nothing But Music which is still his first proper album in six years, and Momus who hasn't been away at all but it's always heartening to see he's still following no path but his own on Ocky Milk. Meanwhile Andy Partridge has opened another old box and found two more volumes of XTC demos, out-takes, instrumentals, studio pissing about etc, Fuzzy Warbles Volume 7 and Volume 8. Finally, doesn't time fly - it's ten years since the first Placebo album, so here it comes again with demos, B-sides and a DVD of videos, live and TV performances.


Wasn't it just the other week that we were referring to the Monochrome Set's gilded place at the heart of turn of the 80s jangly indiepop? They may not be the most obvious band to be awarded a retrospective DVD, but Monochrome Set: Destiny Always Calls Twice collects videos and live material originally found on VHS in the early 90s plus bonus live tracks.


Some of these release dates given on Amazon are all over the place, but pressing on... there's an unmissable anthology of Morrissey press interviews coming in a couple of months, but the other half of the severed alliance gets paid their due in Richard Carman's Johnny Marr: The Smiths And The Art Of Gun-Slinging, featuring an excellently pensive cover shot. The political wing of the songwriting fraternity gets a good runout on shelves this week, Billy Bragg leading the charge with a book we suspect you're going to be hearing a lot about, The Progressive Patriot being a personal examination of what being British means in an age of religious fundamentalism and nationalism, while Michael Franti puts his thoughts on visiting war zones down in I Know I'm Not Alone: A Musician's Journey Through War and Occupation In Iraq, Palestine, And Israel and collects his words in Food For The Masses: Lyrics And Portraits. If you want something lighter as your next bathroom read, The Rough Guide Book Of Playlists appeals to the invenerate pointless listmaker in us, from themed songs to recommendations from artists.

The Weekly Sweep

Yes, we've got bored with the extended write-up format already.

Adam & The Ants - Kings Of The Wild Frontier [YouTube]
British Sea Power - The Lonely (from The Decline Of...)
Clinic - Harvest [YouTube]
Dawn Of The Replicants - Lisa Box (from new singles compilation Bust The Trunk)
Goodbooks - Turn It Back [mp3]
The Gossip - Standing In The Way Of Control [YouTube]
Grizzly Bear - Knife [live YouTube] from the album Yellow House
Hidden Cameras - Awoo [mp3 from Good Hodgkins]
Jeremy Warmsley - I Believe In The Way You Move [YouTube] Also, the Daily Growl has his XFM John Kennedy session, including a tremendous reworking of One Armed Scissor and a one-off backing band with a magnificent injoke of a name
Joan As Policewoman - Christabel from Real Life
Klaxons - Magick Oh, the promo must have leaked by now
Los Campesinos! - You! Me! Dancing! [Myspace]
The Lucksmiths - A Hiccup In Your Happiness [live YouTube]
Luke Haines - Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop [YouTube]
Neosupervital - Rachel [mp3 from The Torture Garden]
Simple Kid - Average Man [YouTube] Yes, we know he has a new album out, but we're being perverse
Thunderbirds Are Now! - We Win (Ha Ha) [mp3 from Spin]
The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - Impossible Sightings Over Shelton [YouTube]
Voxtrot - Mothers, Sisters, Daughters And Wives [mp3 from Heartache With Hard Work]
Wreckless Eric - Whole Wide World [YouTube] Might the interest in the documentary be an opportunity for a proper, all inclusive Stiff compilation, Virgin?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

How much do you love us, then?

Enough to vote for us in this? Click on the banner, vote early and vote often. Voting closes October 3rd, by the looks of it.

Vote for this site in the DMA06 Awards

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Pure pop for now people

Been meaning to mention this, but how great was BBC4's Stiff Records two-part documentary over the weekend? BBC2 are repeating a series of the BBC4 Originals music documentaries at the moment - The Wonderful And Frightening World Of Mark E Smith this Friday at 11.35pm, Mose Allison and Solomon Burke over the next couple of weeks, Ivor Cutler to come - and even though this was timelocked, even though it was a month late, to the thirtieth anniversary of its first release we hope it gets a wider airing soon. So much to enjoy, from Dave Robinson on his boat to an uncredited Derek The Draw standing at the back while Chas Jankel and Norman Watt-Roy reminisced to Tracy Ullman actually looking fondly back at her shot at pop for once to Wreckless Eric's typically forthright wordy views to Captain Sensible recalling setting fire to Elvis Costello's trousers while he was fast asleep...Get it off UKNova, if you can. Or borrow it from someone who taped it.

There really isn't another label like Stiff, is there? Plenty of indies have tried to foster a gang mentality at the right end of the charts - 4AD, ZTT, Factory, Creation - but Stiff really did see themselves as a pop hit factory, getting the well off radar likes of Tenpole Tudor and Jona Lewie, those just the less obvious stars the majors had passed on, into the top ten and pressing ahead with a third Live Stiffs tour despite the first one losing a shedload of money and the second being watched by nobody. As heartening as we find the mini-renaissance of labels that win support for everything they release and build up slowly under the foundation of people you can actually put names to, nobody could have that musical and social chart/pop impact today. We grew up with Stiff through our older sister's love of everything they put out, and to see this almost anomolaic moment in British pop put into such context sent shivers down our spine as much as it brightened those two evenings.

Technology, of course, moves on, but if you know where to look it also drags our collective nostalgia points back towards us. YouTube's full of Stiff releases, so in chronological order here's some of Today's Hits Today:

* Where else to start? Well, So It Goes/Heart Of The City, ideally, but after that and four other slices of pub rock life came the commonly regarded First Punk Single, the basic but effective New Rose.

* That attempt to surf a new wave, as it were, continued with Richard Hell and Motorhead, of all bands. Then came Elvis' first three, Max Wall's Dury co-penned England's Glory (and if anyone does have this on mp3, please let us know) and Wreckless Eric, the barroom philosopher hitting big with Whole Wide World - note Ian Dury on drums.

* The Adverts had debuted by this point with One Chord Wonders and actually released Gary Gilmore's Eyes on something called Anchor Records, but it's an unmissable slab of mock-horror three chord punk. Plus, Gaye Advert. Lives with TV Smith now, apparently.

* My Aim Is True and Damned Damned Damned, yes, but surely the early Stiff album with the greatest impact was New Boots And Panties, released in October 1977. From the Concert for Kampuchea two years later, Blockheads.

* My Aim Is True was recorded with the US country outfit Clover, who later formed Huey Lewis' News. The Attractions were formed for the Live Stiffs tour and stuck around for a bit longer, starting with Watching The Detectives, here from the famous Saturday Night Live performance the other half of which we covered two days ago. Seriously, that bit where Elvis sidles up to the camera is creepy, isn't it?

* Nick 'whose birthday it is today' Lowe was house producer for much of the above, so let's not overlook I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass.

* You know The Contest episode of Seinfeld? Yes, you do. Well, you know when George's cousin visits him in hospital while he's otherwise engaged watching the silhouetted bed bath behind the screen? That's Rachel Sweet, that is, and in 1978 she was master of her teenage new wave country domain with B-A-B-Y.

* Lene Lovich first released Lucky Number on the back of a cover of I Think We're Alone Now, but it was that piece of lateral thinking that ended up being reworked by the Barron Knights. We bet plenty were slightly scared by guitarist and co-writer Les Chappell.

* Jona Lewie had the financial foresight to write a successful Christmas single even if it wasn't intended as one, but his laconic delivery fit right in with their peculiar view of the job of the singer-songwriter. You'll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties is indicative of that early style of electropop with the emphasis on the latter, and while this isn't the TOTP performance with Kirsty Maccoll on backing vocals it is the one in a mock kitchen, plus Blockhead Norman Watt-Roy on bass.

* Can't go any further without some Madness, so we've arbritarily gone for our favourite of their more overlooked singles, and here with the intro from the Complete Madness video too, Grey Day.

* As we say, who would form a band like Tenpole Tudor today? Admittedly there was more than one rockabilly revivalist in 1981, but none quite as, well, energetic or completely at odds with anyone's idea of charting pop music. Where the hell is Wunderbar, which in YouTubeVision almost appears well mimed, from exactly?

* Tracey Ullman's Stiff span is also worth looking at, as it seems to come from a place where a feminised early rock'n'roll meets 60s girl group meets Minnie Mouse. Apart from Maccoll's They Don't Know, which we were heartened to learn from the documentary was entirely Ullman's idea given Stiff only wanted her to do covers.

* Hit that tin whistle for The Pogues' Sally MacLennane.

* Stiff fell apart in 1986, their last release being Girl To The Power Of 6 by Mint Juleps. Us neither. Dr Feelgood released a few singles at the end, but their real last hurrah, in qualitative terms as much as chart ones, were future Mojo hack Jim Irvin's Furniture and the still glorious Brilliant Mind.

...except that, bizarrely, the label has been reactivated, if seemingly in name only, for the forthcoming debut by Coventry teen pop-punks The Enemy, whose Dancing All Night is decent enough but, well, not immensely Stiff-esque. For further reading, then, visit the official website, fan site Be Stiff and this hugely comprehensive discography.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Weekender : please do not read whilst listening to the recordings

CHART OF DARKNESS: Call us facile, but we suspect someone's putting some money into Scissor Sisters promotion. I Don't Feel Like Dancin' is approaching Abu Ghraib noise torture levels and so it continues at number one ahead of robot Justin, whose Futuresex/Lovesounds becomes the least appetisingly titled album number one ever. Fergie fools some of the people some of the time at 3 while the Killers' grandiose Thunder Road? We Shit It single download enters at 5 and Jamelia climbs only to 10. Never underestimate the grey market is the message of Daniel O'Donnell at 21, beating Lostprophets by two. You may remember us noting the video for their previous single demonstrating how they seemed to be wanting us to think they were AFI or someone. No danger this time around, it's fair to say, although surely someone should have pointed out the anomoly of the London namecheck at the start. Lupe Fiasco we thought would do far better than 25, Embrace were supposedly top five in the initial midweeks but land at 29 instead, Larrikin Love continue to suffer from the big hole where their crossover should be at 32, the record buying public remain idiots as Trains To Brazil stalls at 36 and Lego-haired Sam Duckworth earns himself, or rather Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, a good enough entry at 38. Bedouin Soundclash off the advert re-enter at 40 on downloads, with the single reissued properly in four weeks' time. So much for deletions. Katie Melua's the one who misses out at 41, anyway, so it's hardly snatching food from the starved. Her videos are just becoming mad now, although you can't help feeling the hand of Bush, K is tapping at her shoulder after wrap. The Stranglers at 57?
The whole top three of the album chart is new, with Justin followed by the incredibly important Fratellis, who have said Costello Music is so named because when run together with their name it looks a bit like Elvis Costello. Mmm. Lemar serenades the mums at 3, at least those who didn't buy Lionel Richie (28) instead. Diana Krall takes care of the MOR overflow at 29. Kelis starts badly at 41, beaten at 39 by the Adam & The Ants Best Of. Echo and the Bunnymen's is even more unfortunately placed, at 47 one behind metallers much like any other metallers Mastodon. Both beat the Mars Volta, who surely can't afford a soft launch as they follow a top 20 place with a 49. Despite Stipe being over to promote it, the REM Best Of limps in at 70. What gives, nation?

FREE MUSIC: We won't keep telling you. Go and listen to On A Neck, On A Spit by Grizzly Bear, as mentioned yesterday. When that's done, go and read their blog, full of curious tour stories and other people's mp3s.

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: If anything's held the Liverpool scene back over the years it's the way it always seems to eventually come back to meat and potatoes guitar pop. You'd think all local musical efforts were overshadowed by one enormous band, perhaps from the 60s, or something. The Wombats could well fall into the same trap but expertly avoid it through harmonic guitars, crisp janglepop and trace elements of Lee Mavers' retro vision. You'll be hearing a lot more of them if they're not careful.

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: Every so often YouTube do a complete sweep of their mighty archive and wipe it of clips from the talk shows and, most pertinently in this case, Saturday Night Live. Less cowbell: inspired by the BBC4 Stiff Weekend to find the clip of Elvis Costello and the Attractions U-turning on Less Than Zero and launch into a biting Radio Radio, we moved onto Devo completely confusing the audience with Jocko Homo and its Booji Boy intro, the Replacements just about making it through Bastards Of Young in one piece, the B-52s pretty much inventing New Wave on the spot and Radiohead nearly making sense of Idioteque.

FALLING OFF A BLOG: Another blogging band, and one we've featured before on many an occasion. Lucky Soul, purveyors of fine Dusty In Gold Star Studios retro-modernity cool, are recording their debut album, and between them they're going to photograph and tell you every last thing about it. Of course tambourine overdubs!

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: Struggling for a way out of a particularly tiresome piece of writing? No, composition, we mean, not writing. Why not, then, go the Oblique Strategies way? In 1975 Brian Eno and artist Peter Schmidt worked up a set of cards on which were printed reminders of their most productive working principles for when everything goes off kilter. As Eno put it, "these cards evolved from our separate observations on the principles underlying what we were doing. Sometimes they were recognized in retrospect (intellect catching up with intuition), sometimes they were identified as they were happening, sometimes they were formulated." Inevitably, they're online. So, cards, what say you as we approach the end of another head-hurting Weekender? "Spectrum analysis". Wonderful.

IN OTHER NEWS: Did you know there was a Welsh specific top 40? Not a great amount of Welsh language in it, interestingly, although last week it did find room for Richard Hawley and The Boy Least Likely To.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

In shops tomorrow: 18/9


An absolute slew of top tuneage is eligible for this section next week, but for now there's very slim pickings. As in one linkable single. And that's a band who we've not entirely been won over by yet, although we do want to hear the Howling Bells album given how many people we trust like it and the promise of Setting Sun.


Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly is quite often thrown in with the emo brigade despite quite clearly being a) able to sound like he's singing through his mouth and not his nose, b) act upon relatively genuine emotion rather than anxiety flashcards and c) not shit. The Chronicles Of A Bohemian Teenager does follow in the footsteps of a horde of British post-Bragg singer-songwriters with hearts on sleeves but there's something else going on here with the glitch/laptop influences with a pronounced political folk leaning. Apparently the title's meant to sound self-indulgent. In other albums of new material we find the slow burn funk of The Rapture's Pieces Of The People We Love, Salford/Sheffield electropop loon Kings Have Long Arms' I Rock Eye Pop - featuring the unmissable mixture of Phil Oakey, Andy Rourke, Mike Joyce, Denise Johnson and Ray Dorsett of Mungo Jerry - and hurrah for 1997 as The Vessel from David Devant And His Spirit Wife goes solo as, um, Mr Solo on All Will Be Revealed. Just fourteen weeks ahead of Christmas the Best Ofs are ekeing out, from Get The Message: The Best Of Electronic to Legacy: the Best Of Mansun. Come on, they had some decent singles. Can we however particularly recommend one that's very much operating below the double page spread interview radar, Dawn Of The Replicants' Bust The Trunk: The Singles. DOTR were one of our favourite bands back in 1998 and anyone investing in this tenth anniversary retrospective, especially those who can get hold of the limited edition DVD pack, will be treated to 22 pieces of skewered pop magnificence from one of our most singular bands. Now, a £4.99 compilation of a 1940s bandleader. Not just any bandleader, of course, but Spike Jones & His City Slickers' The Essential Collection. Jones, an influence on the Goons, Zappa and Bonzos, specialised in spectacularly outre arrangements and complete deconstructions of the classics utilising pots and pans, foghorns, telephones, glasses, pistols... you get the picture. What in god's name is going on here? Back in tangible music there's BBC session compilations from The La's and The Housemartins, the Adam And The Ants back catalogue has been remastered, including Kings Of The Wild Frontier, and as we missed them before can we take a moment to recommend the deluxe reissues of Pulp's three imperial phase albums, now each with an extra disc of rarities and sleevenotes, His'n'Hers, Different Class and This Is Hardcore.


And while we're about it, a couple more things that slipped through the net while we were away. The REM IRS Best Of, which contrary to our cynicism is clearly superior to the earlier version, has been joined by When the Light is Mine, collating material from the same period including tracks from The Tube, rare videos and interviews.


And while we can't guarantee it won't just be Amanda Donohoe and belaunched alternators in far too much detail, Adam Ant's Stand and Deliver: The Autobiography will have to gloss over a lot to be a sub-standard tale.

The Weekly Sweep

  • Anathallo - Hoodwink (Myspace)
    Still no news of international activity for Floating World, which means it'll have to become a ghost member of whenever we do our albums of the year countdown. Still a marvellous, sprawling album that we heartily recommend on import
  • Clinic - Harvest (mp3 on blogsarefordogs)
    What we love about Clinic is that all their albums sound much the same but they still sound like nobody else. Fourth album Visitations is just spookier than Winchester Cathedral in a Wicker Man soundtrack sense (the original one, you know what we mean)
  • The Delgados - Everything Goes Around the Water (YouTube)
    Peloton still gets the occasional play here, but we're technically referring to the mildly rawer, definitely equalling the recorded effort version on the consistently excellent BBC Sessions album
  • Field Music - In Context (YouTube)
    As close as they've come to the Wire-meets-Beach Boys description printed prominently on their Myspace, if we're accepting that to mean Beach Boy melodies rather than expansiveness and Wire insistence as opposed to dissonance
  • Future Of The Left - Real Men Hunt In Packs (Myspace)
    The most anticipated new band in Britain? So received opinion is they essentially sound like a heavier if vaguely more controlled McLusky, which only makes them several hundred times more exciting than the rest of British rock's contenders
  • Goodbooks - Turn It Back (mp3)
    Bear in mind this is the sort of thing they're giving away for free. Warms the cockles of your anticipatory heart, doesn't it? Not only the proper sort of anthemic pop, but with a pulse and an ending that comes a chorus too early
  • Grizzly Bear - On A Neck, On A Spit (mp3)
    Making up most of our listening over the last week has been Yellow House, the new album by these Brooklyn-based psych-folkers who here sound like the midpoint between Animal Collective, Jim O'Rourke and Devendra Banhart. People will go mad about this soon enough
  • Guillemots - Trains To Brazil (Mercury Prize performance YouTube)
    Glorious, but obviously not going to be the massive hit it deserves to be. Maybe it's from watching that excellent Stiff Records documentary on BBC4 over the last couple of nights, but we kind of feel that way about a lot of the really good stuff around at the moment
  • Jeremy Warmsley - I Believe In The Way You Move (YouTube)
    Stop now and go and have a look at that video if you haven't already seen it, because it's one of the best you'll see all year
  • Klaxons - Magick
    Completely contradicting what we said up there, we're detecting a Clinic influence alongside the usual No, Really, What The Fuck Links Any Of These New Rave Bands Together? on this new one from The NME's Most Hyped Apart From The Horrors But At Least Klaxons Are Listenable
  • Larrikin Love - Happy As Annie (YouTube)
    Coloured with a radio edit that excises the word 'flocking', the official invention - well, reinvention technically as it's a re-release, but never mind - of Romany punk. Banjo solo!
  • Los Campesinos! - It Started With A Mixx (Myspace)
    It's ironic, of course, that the whole internet is now wondering whether they shouldn't be given time to develop more of such nuggets of greatness, given all the hype so far has been message board driven
  • Luke Haines - Leeds United (live YouTube)
    Half of the forthcoming double A-side, Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop is still great in its own right (video) but its Yorkshire Ripper-themed twin returns Haines to his themes of malleable anger and anti-nostalgia
  • The Pipettes - Judy (YouTube)
    Although evidently we share little of said anti-nostalgia, ho ho. There's something of a black heart behind the gleaming pop exterior here too, mind, not least in the best ever delivery of the line "are you still looking for a fight?"
  • Scritti Politti - Dr Abernathy
    It finally struck us last week that White Bread Black Beer will be high in the aforementioned end of year list, one of the main reasons being this big epic that switches from homespun reflectiveness to big psychedelic guitars in the blink of an eye. All made in Green's bedroom
  • Tapes N Tapes - Cowbell (mp3 from The Yellow Stereo)
    Rumbustuousness from the hype band that steadfastly refuse to properly take off anywhere else
  • The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - Impossible Sightings Over Shelton (YouTube)
    Zane Lowe played this as part of Fresh Meat the week before last and afterwards had to make a special plea to the show's chatroom to actually be positive in their comments. The chatroom went on to pick some fourth rate Razorlightism as their favourite. There's a thesis in that
  • Vincent Vincent And The Villains - Johnny Two Bands
    On EMI now and apparently playing on the soon to be revived TOTP2 at the end of October, which must mean there's an audience on its way after a prolonged period of buzz around their modernist take on early rock'n'roll. Shut up about crepe soles already
  • Voxtrot - Mothers, Sisters, Daughters And Wives (live YouTube)
    This has been hanging around the mp3 clique for ages but is only just getting a UK release. Best not to get in the way of it either and its propulsive link-making between early REM, mid-80s British indie (evening, Mr Marr) and Interpol
  • The Young Knives - Another Hollow Line
    Best last four tracks of any album this year? Still right near the top of our listening pile, this is the one that starts Voices Of Animals And Men's closing run, showing off their folkpop influences as well as a soupcon of Blur's more low-key moments
  • Saturday, September 16, 2006

    Flemish fancies

    It's a long time since we've done one of our nearly popular idle looks at a current international singles top 20, so let's do one. This time around, dull old Belgium.

    20 Juanes - La Camisa Negra
    This was the single behind the attempt to relaunch the Latin Heartthrob sub-genre, stymied by the continued blind eye turning of the British public to foreign language records.
    19 The Kooks - Naive
    Oh god, they're going international.
    18 Tiesto feat. Maxi Jazz - Dance4Life
    On Rough Trade, apparently, so they're spending their chunk of the advances for all the anniversary tie-in books already. Trance.
    17 Belle Perez - Ave Maria
    More latino pop, this time home grown, if you can imagine such a thing. Apparently presents a music show in Holland. No, Thornton, no!
    16 Groove Cats - Once In A Lifetime Groove
    It's alright, it doesn't sample Talking Heads. In fact it samples a lesser known New Edition single
    15 Sergio Mendes feat. Black Eyed Peas - Mas Que Nada
    14 Christina Aguilera - Ain't No Other Man
    "Have you heard this new music called jazz?"
    13 Willy Sommers - Laat De Zon In Je Hart
    Presumably never going to be launched in Britain. He seems to be some sort of crooner in any case, so it's a moot point.
    12 Pirates Of The Caribbean - He's A Pirate (Tiesto remix)
    Our hopes that this might go "he's a pirate! He's a pirate! He's a piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirate!" in a Gilbert & Sullivan style overlaying trance beats may not be entirely fruitful.
    11 Shakira - Hips Don't Lie
    10 Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
    9 Beyonce - Deja Vu
    8 Kaye Styles & Johnny Logan - Don't Cry/I Love To Party
    You may want to sit down for this. Styles is a Belgian R&B singer. Logan won Eurovision thrice for Ireland. Don't Cry is a duet. I Love To Party is a new version of What's Another Year. Good lord.
    7 Pussycat Dolls - Buttons
    6 K3 - Ya Ya Yippee
    Dutch girl trio with a song that sounds made for people to mime to in bedrooms and stick onto YouTube
    5 Kate Ryan - Alive
    Seemingly a sort of Belgian Lucie Silvas, albeit one that made her name by covering mad French superstar Mylene Farmer, Ryan was Belgium's Eurovision entry this year - Belgium is enormous on Eurovision entrants - but got knocked out in the semis.
    4 Rihanna - Unfaithful
    3 Bob Sinclar - Rock This Party
    How come his videos always get playlisted by the requisite channels about three months ahead of release?
    2 Marco Borsato - Rood
    Another Dutchman hopping across the border, this might be the most toothgrindingly overproduced thing you've ever heard. It's Eurodance and power balladry in one go, but with a Celtic jig in the middle!
    1 Henke - Lief Klein Konijntje
    And what's holding it off the top? A sexagenarian with an acoustic guitar. Europe, there.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    Turn on the news

    A few months back we marvelled at the Rakes' appearance on the BBC 6 O'Clock News, and similar gogglage was in evidence last night when Newsnight, in reporting on the new iPod in a very "have you heard this new thing called mp3?" style, solicited the opinions of Becki Pipette. Little were we to realise that not only would this not be the most out of place pop interference in BBC news this week, but her band wouldn't even qualify as the most unlikely female harmony-based indiepop group to appear on the Beeb in a nine hour timespan. For, at 7:45 this morning, on BBC Breakfast, to illustrate the potential reach of bands via the Internet... Shimura Curves! (Big old ambient marketing push for their label, the highly rated Brainlove Records, too)

    Now, debate. We marvel at unlikely pop entries onto modern British telly, and would commend to the house the Polyphonic Spree on Today With Des & Mel, Ruth on the National Lottery Live, the Wedding Present on Esther, Goldblade on CD:UK, Super Furry Animals on the shortlived Tonight With Richard And Judy advertised as Take That's natural successors, Preston when that Celebrity Big Brother started and, of those actually on YouTube, Morrissey and Marr on S.P.L.A.T.! and Gold Against The Soul-era Manics on Gimme 5. Any more suggestions?

    Sunday, September 10, 2006

    Quite refreshed, thanks

    While we regain our bearings, can we say that the Delgados' BBC Sessions album is excellent and was often aired throughout the last week, and we really should listen to more Ken Bruce when we get the chance.

    Hey! Add us! We'll try and do something with that now we're raring to go once more, but in the meantime we have mere vanity to uphold.