Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sweeping The Nation Covermount 5: Borrowed Nostalgia For The Unremembered Eighties

A day earlier then we promised the other day, welcome to number five in our series of downloadable ZIP files full of mp3 greatness. It's on Sendspace again (and do tell us this time when it goes offline), and it's another double - we didn't envisage it as one, we just couldn't bear to cut the forty tracks selected in half.

It's an unorthodox Covermount, not to mention slightly complicated to explain the anchoring idea behind, but here goes. Everyone posts the accepted canon of eighties hipness, which is fair enough - we're as into that as the next blogger. But... we have a long held theory that, for all their popular image now of the gaudy, peacock feathered launch of the video age and thus style over content, it was that decade that gave rise to the greatest sustained period in pop history. And we don't mean pop as a concept, we mean pop as a unifying chart force, where around the New Romantics-novelty-power ballad-start of the hard sell era-rave culture right at the end template we have come to see the decade in British music as, all sorts of extraordinary stuff was happening, possibly because of the rate technology was expanding at and its almost naive uses and because nostalgia-fuelled sounds were just coming in. In our opinion, hardly any of the acts you see below would have made a massive impact in the 17-27 years since, and yet they were all top twenty hits in their day. The charts went mad, popular culture got pulled all over the place, and big numbers were achieved by songs that wouldn't get a band signed nowadays. And here's a crucial point - some of these acts came from punk/post-punk/nascent indie backgrounds, but for the most part they all wanted to be pop stars, and not in the desperate reaching modern sense either. Paul Morley would approve. He's in one of them, for a kickoff. Here is a selection of just what we mean, compiled with some help from the staffers at masters of their retro domain TV Cream.

As we say, all forty were top twenty singles, which meant some pain during the compilation process as we were forced to lose cast iron choices due to just missing out (Propaganda, whose Duel is quintessential ZTT, and Stiff's last stand Furniture, both of whom stalled at 21) or being just the wrong choice (Captain Sensible's number one Happy Talk no, Captain Sensible's number 26 Wot yes). We won't lie to you - two tracks weren't our preferred choices by the acts in question, but one was substituted to get its compilation under 74 minutes and the other we couldn't find. None of these are novelty hits in the strict sense of the term, and where you might think otherwise we've taken pains to justify their selection. A lot of genuinely interesting sustained hitmakers who emerged from the period have been left out because in our opinion most of us know their back catalogue so well we couldn't really surprise you with a lesser regarded hit in the way some are represented below. Don't think just because of this that we don't recommend harking back independently to the early hitmaking years of, say Adam And The Ants, Madness, Bananarama, the Cure, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, ABC, Kim Wilde, Depeche Mode, the Specials... all very relevant to the cause, and even those first few Wham! moments are unlike anything they, and especially George, would ever countenance again, but this isn't Wow! Greatest Eighties Hits on BMG, and nor should it be confused for such. In our opinion, which here is the one that matters, everything here is to varying degrees and sliding scales great. Yes, your favourites given the criteria have probably been left off (Japan - there, have that one for free). We're not suggesting this was in any way easy to compile.

We've put you right off it already, haven't we? Ah well, here's your left click, bottom of page download links...

Borrowed Nostalgia For The Unremembered Eighties 1

Borrowed Nostalgia For The Unremembered Eighties 2

Borrowed Nostalgia For The Unremembered Eighties 1

Trio - Da Da Da (no.2, 1982)
See, this is the sort of thing we mean. Kraftwerk had had their number one eight months before this entered so clearly the country was in the mood for Allemagne programmable keyboard development phases. He does sound a bit like a Teutonic Ian Dury, doesn't he?

The Associates - Club Country (no.13, 1982)
One of them wrote a response record to the Smiths' William It Was Really Nothing called Stephen You're Still Really Something, the other ran the college course that helped Belle & Sebastian form and release Tigermilk, together they made extraordinary glam cabaret new wave.

Scritti Politti - The Word Girl (no.6, 1985)
Italian for 'political writing', as Smash Hits found space for every fortnight for about three years. Not as solid on wipe-clean lover's rock as on the previous early New Pop flowerings, but don't overlook that this is actually a song about the word 'girl'.

Malcolm McLaren - Double Dutch (no.3, 1983)
Rubbish agent provocateur who Lydon blames for the Pistols not having an earlier, greater national impact and who went on to see more of a future in Bow Wow Wow than Adam Ant. Then he stumbled upon hip-hop culture and Soweto township vibes, still insisting on singing over them.

Modern Romance - Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey (no.10, 1981)
There was something of a revival of Latin sounds at the time, with Matt Bianco and Kid Creole And The Coconuts. Fronted by future Birds Of A Feather writer Geoff Deane, these were so out of place and time that these days they'd get a Victor Lewis-Smith produced documentary.

Pigbag - Papa's Got A Brand New Pigbag (no.3, 1982)
And while we're talking jazz fusion going bad-meaning-good, Cheltenham fanfare freak-out collective whose founding member left when this became a massive indie chart hit a year earlier on the basis he was "losing control" of the band. Something Johnny Borrell will never feel.

Haysi Fantayzee - John Wayne Is Big Leggy (no.11, 1982)
Good lord, this was a decade for ideas. Pre-Ibiza Jeremy Healy and pre-Vogue photography Kate Garner wore dreadlocks and dressed in tatty garb that resembled Bob Cratchit at the Notting Hill Carnival, sounding like pop with the shiny bits heavily sandpapered.

Stephen 'Tin Tin' Duffy - Kiss Me (no.4, 1985)
Leave it, apart from the cover of this he's got one writing credit on Rudebox, as has Antony Genn and you're not instantly calling The Hours into account, are you? Difficult to find a version that isn't the sanitised US mix, but you need to hear that truck driver gearchange in full.

Grace Jones - Slave To The Rhythm (no.12, 1985)
A Studio 54 diva long before she was actress, muse, Harty slapper etc, going from obtuse disco to New Wave covers act. Only here did it become all pencil rubber hair, square shouldered suits and androgynous looks but in a way that would make Steve Strange shit himself.

The Human League - The Sound Of The Crowd (no.12, 1981)
The really strange Being Boiled made #6 in 1982 but on a re-release from 1978, although you have to say that cheeky sericulture isn't seen around here often these days. In fact, most of their imperial phase puts that nonsense about cocktail bars well in the shade.

Landscape - Einstein A Go-Go (no.5, 1981)
Play that electronic flute, synth futurist boy! Takes ages to get going then lurches into the final straight far too early, but you need not look any further for how far pop was willing to stretch its odd new black boxes, when even jazz fusionists could get involved.

Thomas Dolby - Hyperactive (no.17, 1984)
He created polyphonic ringtones, y'know. He also created this melange of horns, varispeed vocals and trombone. We wanted She Blinded Me With Science but it stalled at 49 in Britain, the US instead taking Magnus Pyke to their top five hearts.

Belouis Some - Imagination (no. 17, 1986)
NSFW, that video. Prime factory-reared electrodoominess, sounding like the point at which the new wave met the new technology and hence setting the bar from everyone from Blancmange to Yello as well, as inventing the look of Andy Bell from Erasure.

Dollar - Mirror Mirror (no. 4, 1981)
Paul Morley: "There was a whole movement of wonderfully creative pop music, but it was started by Dollar so we don't really mention it much." Important, this, as it was Trevor Horn's first big production success, bringing multi-layered megaproduction and Fairlight sampling to the masses.

Soft Cell - Bedsitter (no.4, 1981)
Oh, you know the Soft Cell iconography and the stories, but Tainted Love and possibly Say Hello Wave Goodbye aside their back catalogue of low life anti-glamour, the morning after the night out with the sex dwarves, often gets sidelined.

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Maid Of Orleans (no.4, 1982)
Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys were previously in a band called Hitlerz Underpantz. Yes they were. A lot of hits but few actively remembered, this chosen because a) it's an airy synth waltz and b) it was going to be called Joan Of Arc but that had been the title of their previous single.

Toto Coelo - I Eat Cannibals Part 1 (no.8, 1982)
Why have Bow Wow Wow when you can have Toto Coelo? We've picked this because it comes under the bracket of songs that are pure shots of lunatic memorableness that you just don't envisage any more. Note that this is merely 'Part 1', as if it could potentially go anywhere else.

Jona Lewie - You'll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties (no.16, 1980)
Even on the freaks, geeks and weirdos' house label Stiff Records Lewie was the class oddball, fated to spend his life on Robinson and Riviera's endless concept label package tours. Stop The Cavalry is fine enough but never overlook this lesson in pitch control on analogue keyboards.

Karel Fialka - Hey Matthew (no.9, 1987)
We know the No Novelty rule is bending horribly under the strain, but Fialka was a legitimate singer, if very much under the quirky banner, releasing this on IRS in America. It just happened to have his nephew on co-vocals, that's all. Note the insistence on captaincy of "a big boat".

Fun Boy Three - The Lunatics (Have Taken Over The Asylum) (no.20, 1981)
Terry Hall, Neville Staples and Lynval Golding escaped the Specials to to craft two albums of skewiff pop, invent Bananarama and fail to crack Hall's expression. Neville Staples' Specials are touring with a partly reformed Beat in April. It'll happen to us all eventually.

Borrowed Nostalgia For The Unremembered Eighties 2

Laurie Anderson - O Superman (no.2, 1981)
Seriously, what? We're aware it became a massive Peel favourite, but even in 1981 massive Peel favourites didn't tend to translate to the proper charts, especially not eight minute electronic vocal layering tone poems by avant-garde multimedia performance artists.

Art Of Noise - Close (To The Edit) (no.8, 1984)
And here's more for the time avant-garde boundary stretching, this time from a fundamentally overintelligent, supposedly faceless collective including Paul Morley as ideas man. The "hey!" is sampled on Firestarter, which must have made everyone involved rich beyond avarice.

Men Without Hats - The Safety Dance (no.6, 1983)
Mark Radcliffe reckons this is the worst song of all time, but it has a strident, rustic contemporary charm. Especially that pointless "and sing!" bit. Do check out that video for a Canadian representation of British medieval partying, including telegraph poles.

Sly And Robbie - Boops (Here To Go) (no.12, 1987)
They're no Sly Fox, certainly. Dunbar and Shakespeare, rhythm section to the Jamaican gentry, tap up Shinehead, and apparently Bootsy Collins is on - but of course! - guitar, for the schoolboy sniggering title of an age. Ignore Rudebox, this is unmatchable.

The Lotus Eaters - The First Picture Of You (no.15, 1983)
A prime choice from the area marked 'Post-New Wave New Pop', which stretched from the Icicle Works and the commercial end of Talk Talk to the Housemartins to the Angora jumper pop of Haircut 100, whose limnophobic (look it up) Love Plus One very nearly made the cut.

Strawberry Switchblade - Since Yesterday (no.4, 1984)
The original polka dot princesses, assuming anyone called them that in the first place, Rose McDowell and Jill Bryson got their name from a fanzine run by Orange Juice guitarist James Kirk and open this bittersweet pop gem by cribbing Sibelius' Symphony No.5.

The Dream Academy - Life In A Northern Town (no.15, 1985)
A tribute to Nick Drake before hardly anyone had heard of Nick Drake, produced by David Gilmour and a number 7 on the Billboard chart. Now, come on, how else does it need to qualify? Sullied by Dario G, its post-Fairlight nostalgic folk really needs revisiting.

The Teardrop Explodes - Treason (no.18, 1981)
We as a nation once made Julian Cope a pop star, and that is what is heartwarming about what we hold dear in 80s chart pop. The genuinely fabulous Reward and bendy mike stand-tastic World Shut Your Mouth everyone knows, so here's the other of his three top twenties.

Thompson Twins - We Are Detective (no.7, 1983)
Like Scritti, they moved from squats and DIY angularity to cleaned up synthy but still peculiar pop kids. With a fly-swatting xylophone style. Not even graduated yet to the status of a Wasn't Eighties Pop Naff, Eh? Eh? Eh? punchline, which says something for them.

Red Box - For America (no.10, 1986)
Their label asked them for a song for American radio, this is what they came up with. And now you understand one of the jokes, such as they are, from our last set of Christmas chart countdowns. Interested? Sign the album reissue petition.

Prefab Sprout - The King Of Rock'n'Roll (no.7, 1988)
Tough on Paddy McAloon, of course, that in many years of intelligent, oblique, critically acclaimed songwriting it's his atypical pisstake of ageing rockers and its nonsense chorus that became the commercial breakthrough. Tough, but great for our purposes.

Tenpole Tudor - Wunderbar (no.16, 1981)
Gangly oddball Edward Tudor-Pole became the Sex Pistols' frontman for The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle and presented The Crystal Maze for a bit, but it's for lunatic rock'n'roll he'll be remembered. That TOTP clip there - we're not sure he's actually playing that violin.

The Maisonettes - Heartache Avenue (no.7, 1982)
We mentioned that this was the launch of the retro period of pop, and this mod-Motown one hit piece is a fair summation of what this meant. Head honco Lol Mason hired two models to replicate the studio singers' backing vocals, then too late found neither could harmonise.

Dexys Midnight Runners - Show Me (no.16, 1981)
The fiddle/dungarees era everyone knows, the horns/Mean Streets lineup almost as much. The year in the middle, centring on ponytails, training gear and "communiques", is less celebrated but produced three tremendous Stax-powered singles, of which this was the only hit.

JoBoxers - Boxerbeat (no.3, 1983)
Dexys' success led to a brief revival in brass-led soul-pop and, in the case of these former members of underrated nearly-punks the Subway Sect, wholesale cribbing of the image. Their next single Just Got Lucky gave its name to a Lindsay Lohan film and the guitarist ended up in Earl Brutus.

The Piranhas - Tom Hark (no.6, 1982)
And the next one! Boring Bob Grover and co were originally a Brighton punk outfit who went ska when everyone else did and hit big with a rewritten South African kwela song. This happened a lot at about this time (see also the Belle Stars' Clapping Song), so screw you, Paul Simon.

The Creatures - Right Now (no.14, 1983)
Siouxsie and the Banshees became fairly unlikely hitmakers themselves in the decade (Happy House, the Dear Prudence cover, Peek-A-Boo) but her and Budgie's side project took off with a big band cover of a Mel Torme song, as only Siouxsie and Budgie would approach big band.

Bad Manners - Lip Up Fatty (no.15, 1980)
We could bore you for hours if we so chose about 2-Tone, but let's eschew the Specials for once. Bad Manners. It's a cliche, and a line we keep using in this, but you wouldn't get anything like this today. Nobody would countenance the waste of lager, for one. Still touring, obviously.

The Beat - Mirror In The Bathroom (no.4, 1980)
And as mentioned earlier some of these are doing the national rounds soon. Jonathan Ross joke source Ranking Roger (that's his son on Boys Will Be Boys), two future Fine Young Cannibals and ex-Desmond Dekker saxophonist Saxa (and a couple of others) offer a chirpy examination of schizophrenia.

The Stray Cats - Stray Cat Strut (no.11, 1981)
And finally, the rockabilly revival. Well, at least it's better than leader Brian Setzer's later career as a big band swing revivalist. They did it properly too, with quiffs, mild creepiness, double bass and stand-up drummer to go, and only Thriller held their album off US number one.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

This Is Not An mp3 Blog #1

Well, that was what we promised at the outset, but now we seem to be giving them away like confetti we might as well follow the herd make an irregular feature out of it with three things, summarily YouSendIt'd, that have been tantalising us this week:

The Early Years - On Fire
If ever a band was unmatched for a festival slot it was the Early Years at midday in a packed out tent at Truck 2006. Hypnotic, woozy, shoegazey/Krautrocky/space-rocky slow burners in the heat of a blazing summer's day? Mmm-mmmm. Although we do hear Brian Eno was at the front seeming appreciative. We didn't see him, we were at the periphery. Their album didn't quite make it for us but The Great Awakening EP, released February 19th on Beggars Banquet, progresses them into interesting new territories akin to Secret Machines and, on this track, more than a hint of Electrelane.
Pre-order The Great Awakening on Amazon

Theoretical Girl - Dancehall Deceit
Judging by the photos, Southend-on-Sea emigre Theoretical Girl can really pull off a sixties-style fringe. Judging by the sound, she's fairly au fait with the eighties too, or at least the idiosyncratic period during which people had this new keyboard technology and wanted to mess about with it. A one woman operation, inevitably she's been tarred with the nu-rave brush but this mix of deceptively sugary vocals, fuzzy guitar and retro-futurist electro is a winner under its own steam.

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - House Fire
There's a name you won't forget in a hurry. With the post-Shins revival on the US indie scene of melodic, hook-filled sophisticated pop, perhaps now's the time to highlight a band and an mp3 we've had on our C: drive since November 2005 but whose album Broom has only just received a full US reissue. Missouri's SSLYBY (there you go) have an ability to front up the requisite influences - Elliott Smith, Ben Kweller, Elephant 6, of course the good captain Mercer - and make them sound fresh and affecting.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Recurring Shockwaves

As we always ask rhetorically when the NME Shockwaves Awards nominations roll round, did the Brits committee change to suit their wares or did the NME fall into line with more commercial thinking? Whatever, here's this year's categories, with the added bonus of an interactive game of trying to spot the moments when we really stopped being arsed:

Best British Band: Arctic Monkeys, Babyshambles, Kasabian, Muse, Oasis
Oasis, there, in their glorious year of a greatest hits album. Their fans will always, always have enough sway to get them a nomination in this sort of thing. In fact you could say the same for all five bands, pretty much.

Best International Band: CSS, The Killers, My Chemical Romance, The Strokes, We Are Scientists
Whereas over here things are much more confused. We Are Scientists' popularity in Britain seems to be alien with all logic, and indeed we'd suggest their profile outside a microsection of NME target market is still somewhere akin to negligible. CSS? Clerical error, surely. The Strokes are the only international band most seem to have heard of. This one's MCR's, because it's where their fans will be at their most vociferous.

Best Solo Artist: Lily Allen, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Jarvis Cocker, Jamie T, Thom Yorke
See, they don't need the token rapper this year with Jamie T about. This could go anywhere, really, although Sam's surely in because a combination of hype, goodwill and being Thom Yorke split 95% of the vote.

Best New Band: The Fratellis, The Horrors, Klaxons, The Kooks, The View
Doesn't the future look promising? Even the most, for which read only, exciting band there are taking a different bit of early 80s inspiration from everyone else while pretending it's early 90s inspiration. Sponsored by Radio 1, which explains that.

Best Live Band: Arctic Monkeys, Babyshambles, Kasabian, Muse, My Chemical Romance
Note to steering committee: you might actually need to turn up to gigs occasionally to claim to be a great live band. Surely this is Muse's to lose. They have lasers.

Best Album: Black Holes And Revelations, Empire, Sam's Town, The Black Parade, Whatever People Say I Am That's What I'm Not
Or Whatever You Say I Am..., as the NME's own website lists it, which certainly demonstrates something. They'll have to get that one right on the night, as it's the only thing here that really set pulses racing nationwide. We mean, Muse are alright but we fear the brow of the hill is approaching fast.

Best Track: Atlantis To Interzone, Bang Bang You're Dead, Supermassive Black Hole, Wasted Little DJs, When You Were Young
Dirty Pretty Things' impact seems to have evaporated - the album didn't pull up end of year review trees, Carl's gone to ground (presumably writing the next album, but y'know) and it's basically Can't Stand Me Now without the right to reply. Wasted Little DJs's presence should remind him of happier times, at least. Essentially, how will they like their sounds - Killers wide or Muse wider?

Best Video: Bones, Empire, Here It Goes Again, I Write Sins Not Tragedies, Sheena Is A Parasite
It's worth wondering how much of those few weeks of Horrors hype before the NME cottoned on to how nobody was actually arsed about them was driven by the Sheena Is A Parasite video which came a month or two earlier and was very much of a piece at the time. Obviously this is the first and last UK award OK Go will ever pick up.

Best Music DVD: Arctic Monkeys - Scummy Man, Dirty Pretty Things - Puffing On A Coffin Nail, Foo Fighters - Skin And Bones, Maximo Park - Found On Film, My Chemical Romance - Life On The Murder Scene
Bloody hell, look at those titles. Do you care?

Best Live Event: Carling Weekend, Download, Oxegen, T In The Park, V2006
So much for Glastoless sharing the love around the place a bit.

Best Film: Borat, Casino Royale, The Departed, Little Miss Sunshine, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
We were amused by the BBC website's concept that current US number one film Epic Movie "lampoons movies including The Da Vinci Code and Borat". Yeah, that Borat comes across so seriously, he needs taking down a peg or two by some people who co-wrote Police Academy of the Noughties Scary Movie. We don't do films, so you pick one.

Best TV Show: Extras, Gonzo, Lost, The Mighty Boosh, Never Mind The Buzzcocks
Bad luck, Simon Schama. Buzzcocks has become immeasurably better since Lamarr decided to stop pretending he was arsed, but let's get a sense of perspective here. Gonzo won last year, which surely was a fix given nobody outside this sphere of reference has heard of it.

Best Radio Show: Lauren Laverne, Zane Lowe, Chris Moyles, Colin Murray, Jo Whiley
Same as last year (bar the uncoupling of Colin from Edith) but with Whiley replacing Lamacq. Progress, it says here. Lauren for us, if only because XFM breakfast is the first piece of media she's done that hasn't almost immediately collapsed in on itself.

Hero Of The Year: Carl Barat, Pete Doherty, Faris Rotter, Alex Turner, Gerard Way
Not quite sure how any of these entirely qualify as heroes, or indeed who they're supposed to be heroes to. At least you could make a case for Geldof last year.

Villain Of The Year: Tony Blair, Johnny Borrell, George Bush, Pete Doherty, Gerard Way
Not that it was ever not going to be Blair, Bush and Doherty plus two, but why is Borrell singled out among his many loathsome contemporaries? Are there that many Luke Pritchard admirers?

Sexiest Man: Carl Barat, Matt Bellamy, Pete Doherty, Brandon Flowers, Gerard Way
They dropped these last year, and being completely unworkable and never quite managing to make sense of its own existence, even for irony purposes, when held under our sort of microscope we were all the better for it. Now they're back and trying to convince us that Doherty, an exact cross between Jack Wild and Baron Greenback, is quantifiably sexy. Carl, surely, given the rest of the contenders are a hard scaring sci-fi loon, the year's most ill advised moustache wearer and the emo Alan Smith, when he was at Leeds. When Alan Smith was at Leeds, not Gerard Way. Although who really knows?

Sexiest Woman: Lily Allen, Beth Ditto, Kate Jackson, Kate Moss, Karen O
So Kate Moss now qualifies, which would only make sense were Scarlett Johanssen also nominated, and surely that's a brazen attempt to get back in Lily and Beth's good books. Of course, being a) male and b) catastrophically indie, most of our own favourites, as well as being more suitable for 'Cutest Fringe On A Woman' than 'Sexiest Woman', never stood a chance of being within a metric mile of nomination by dint of being mad (Chan Marshall), deliberately obtuse and possibly made of fragile porcelain for all we know (Joanna Newsom), liable to rip your head off at two hundred paces, and probably might when stagediving (Emily Haines), next to unheard of outside North America despite being in a million projects (Neko Case) or pretending they don't have a name more suited to a veteran actress in an ITV Sunday 9pm light comedy drama (Rose Pipette - look it up).

Best Dressed: Carl Barat, Russell Brand, Pete Doherty, Brandon Flowers, Faris Rotter
Worst Dressed: Lily Allen, Johnny Borrell, Russell Brand, Pete Doherty, Faris Rotter
We're sure this says something profound about the pudding end of the awards, besides proving again that nobody has the first clue how to approach this one on the voting form. Someone taking fashion advice from both Brand and Rotter, who appears to have given up rights to the surname Badwan that he's, well, used right up until the NME Cool List, would fear for their lives every time they crossed at a pelican crossing after dark, however good they'd be as a Stars In Their Eyes Robert Smith. Brandon best, because we like a man in a well cut waistcoat, Borrell for worst, because the album cover proves he's the fourth best dressed man in his own band. Are we wrong to feel better about Andy Burrows since we noticed he's wearing a Stiff Records T-shirt on the cover? Please don't tell us they sell them in Top Shop, we may not be able to take the heartbreak.

Worst Album: Alright Still, Razorlight, Rudebox, The Black Parade, Twelve Stops And Home
Actually, what's with the turning against Razorlight? Sure, they're popular now and that, but they were doing Parkinson two years ago and nobody minded then.

Worst Band: The Feeling, The Horrors, The Kooks, Panic! At The Disco, Razorlight
Now that Girls Aloud and Sugababes are cool this one's seemingly constructed from a lucky dip. Babyshambles got nominated last year, and it's not as if Pete's 2006 was that much of a PR improvement.

Best Venue: Brixton Academy, Glasgow Barrowlands, London KOKO, London Astoria, Manchester Apollo

Best Website Not Including DrownedinSound, Last.FM, Myspace, Pitchfork, YouTube
Zonino! NME take the subtle advice after winning this one year after year after year to heart, and as a result it'd be something akin to an open field were it not clear how far Myspace is going to piss it. Note the American interloper in there, which again tells you something about the way we're all heading in this thing called sarcastic music news.

Weekender : a straight talking shipwright

FREE MUSIC: It's been a while since we've heard from the High Llamas, orchestrator to the minor stars Sean O'Hagan's long-running attempt to fuse idealistic Brian Wilson chamber pop and Stereolab explorations. Can Cladders, his/their eighth album released next month, is previewed by Winter's Day, which throws an element of Bacharach into the Van Dyke Parks mix - marimbas, tack pianos, multitracking, the works. And now with female backing vocalists!

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: We've said it before, and we'll say it again - who knew St Etienne would be so influential? Whether fututist twee, retro-modernist girl vocals or affected retro keyboards, the sound they perfected in between bouts of electrohouse is being reflected more and more of late, and to further prove the point here come Charming. You can tell for a start that they're not British, choosing that name - in fact they're from New York, and just to complete the picture their bassist used his spare time to form the Dansettes, who are essentially the American Pipettes (three harmonising girls, Spectoresque influences, four man backing band using a seperate name). But we're not technically here for them, we're here for Charming's very fine version of summery sixties pop, not unlike St Etienne spinoff Birdie or a slightly less grandiose Lucky Soul mixed with Cardigans-like Swedish melodic charm and grimy lyrical heart.

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: Continuing with our shortlived theme of unlikely appearences on children's TV of the early 80s, and also because there's a loose tie-in here with our next Covermount which will be uploaded on Thursday and we reckon really is the one that'll get us in the Guardian Film & Music music blog column, former Smash Hits cover stars and one semi-hit wonders Department S perform the tremendous doomy new wave of Is Vic There? on Cheggers Plays Pop. Note the sideways on mike holding stance as if Vaughan Toulouse (oh yes?) were Alvin Stardust himself.

VIRAL MARKETING: A week away from A Weekend In The City and Bloc Party have pulled the old different-singles-for-different-markets switcheroo on us. Here's the video for I Still Remember.

FALLING OFF A BLOG: We've been lacking themed music blogs for a while, and randomising is as good a theme as ever. The Side Room is filing through a large pile of old largely independent 7" singles in a set of podcasts, the latest featuring the Primitives, Orange Juice, the Box Tops, the Go-Betweens and Brilliant Corners.

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: Pandora FM: listen to stuff on Pandora, have it scrobbled by Last FM. Don't ask us, we just do typing.

IN OTHER NEWS: Touch And Go Records celebrated its 25th anniversary last year with a 31-band birthday blowout in Chicago, and every Monday they're uploading live and interview footage from at least most of them, no small beer when you consider the list includes the reformed Big Black, Shellac, Calexico, Quasi, !!!, Man...or Astroman?, Girls Against Boys, CocoRosie, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, The Black Heart Procession, Pinback and more.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Learnt yet?

A little bit of housekeeping - if you want to listen to the songs written about in the feature we ran throughout November, Songs To Learn And Sing, then be quick about it as the mp3s are being taken down on Wednesday evening. You have three days in which to hear as well as see the songs that deserve a wider airing in the opinion of a group of respectable musicians, bloggers and randoms. What convinced Gareth from Los Campesinos! that he didn't want to be in an all-male band? Which song would Phonogram/Plan B's Kieron Gillen recommend you listen to, but perhaps only ever once? Which song, chosen by Jamie from The Runout Groove, is about Winchester Cathedral but isn't a novelty trad-jazz number? How many singer-songwriters asked for their choices picked songs by their mates?

And if you didn't take part and find all this effort fascinating, drop us a comment, email or Myspace message, because we may soon be embarking on something very similar...

In shops tomorrow: 29/1


We've been waiting for the release schedule to kick into gear for 2007, but we didn't think it'd happen this thoroughly, with a massive pile of recommended releases to wade through. The single of the week isn't even out on CD or linked on Amazon, as finally Future Of The Left arrive to deliver the knockout blow to legions of McLuskyites (on their old label Too Pure too, 7" only) on Fingers Become Thumbs! Even accounting for second album cynicism, we're surprised at the questioning reception the new Bloc Party album is getting - we've been listening to it a lot lately and it seems not only less commercial than Silent Alarm, despite the bigger soundscape and Jacknife Lee's presence, but more intricate and likely to really click a few listens in. There's more than a feeling of TV On The Radio about preview single The Prayer, which is of course no bad thing at all. Camera Obscura release the most straightforward bittersweet retropoppy thing on Let's Get Out Of This Country, If Looks Could Kill, which is being heralded by a tour of, erm, America. The website promises UK dates in the spring, but really that's stable door/bolted horse distance at this juncture. Annuals, the nom de indie of North Carolina's Adam Baker (nineteen when he recorded all this, the bastard), is/are being talked up as the latest New Arcade Fire but EP Big Zeus reminds us more of The Soft Bulletin duking it out with Grizzly Bear and Broken Social Scene. A highly promising talent, whatever. The rest of the best in alphabetical order, briefly: the less cocksure second Cold War Kids single, Hang Me Up To Dry; Dartz! relay itchy post-punk on Once Twice Again!; Hot Club De Paris finally make sense of the Merseyside Futureheads tag on Shipwreck; Lady Sovereign, having taken America, attempts to take Britain again with Love Me Or Hate Me; much vaunted Shins-esque Californians The Little Ones debut with Oh MJ!; the Noisettes attempt to distil their stunning live show on Sister Rosetta (Capture The Spirit); Boo Radleys singer Sice is back exploring his old band's poppier side with Paperlung on Do What Thou Will; and Black Box Recorder chanteuse Sarah Nixey continues as the personification of Sophie Ellis-Bextor's darker, more literate elder sister with When I’m Here With You.


Album of the week would for most be the Decemberists' Crane Wife, but never mind what Rough Trade say about release dates as there's been non-import copies of it on the shelves since last October so it doesn't count. Anyway, it's fantastic. So, what is the Klaxons album Myths Of The Near Future really? Not rave, as everyone's now aware apart from the Guardian reviewer who seemed offended that there was little sign of 606 beats on the album. One of them quoted John Foxx as a major influence in the week, and it's that dystopian 80s electro-futurism that colours a lot of the album, as well as the artier end of art-rock, leftfield pop (As Above So Below is pure Berlin Bowie) and the prophecy-lit grab-bag suggested by the title and lyrics of the singles. Throw in the mischief angle and we have our Noughties KLF. Give it time and it might just crystallise into something that'll stick around long after the last glowstick factory has been razed to the ground by angry mobs. Outside the realms of the on-beat but no less easy to decipher we find former band of the here and now Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, experiencing a bad case of post-hype pissing in the wind as Some Loud Thunder approaches. It's far less of an easy listen too, burying the first track in distortion and layering everything else in layer on layer of whirling dervish basslines, subtle guitars and electro touches. We have a love/hate relationship with Jamie T - very keen on Salvador and Sheila, not at all on the two more recent singles - and Panic Prevention hasn't exactly helped tip the balance, but what's evident is the wealth of ideas at his command. A band with rather too many ideas, the Earlies, are still split over two continents as they return with the neo-psychedelic orchestral bleeps of The Enemy Chorus; the Shins' literate Anglophilic power-pop reaches a commercial pass on Wincing The Night Away and Kristin Hersh puts aside the disappointing 50 Foot Wave for a moment for her first album of impassioned dysfunctional singer-songwriting in four years, Learn To Sing Like A Star. This year's Rough Trade Shops: Counter Culture 06 compilation is out and the usual contrary collection it is too, not least when five tracks into the first CD, after Various Productions, The Last Town Chorus, Campbell & Lanegan and Beirut, it drops in, of all bloody songs, LDN, followed by the two 2006 singles you'd hope in a more just world would have had the pop exposure LDN had, Lloyd I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken and Young Folks. From there it's Yo La Tengo, Cold War Kids, Bricolage, Broken Social Scene, Burial, Scritti Politti, Uffie, Crystal Castles, Envelopes, CSS, Metronomy, Xerox Teens, Bromheads Jacket and Gossip all the way home, along with the usual pile of stuff you've never heard before. And Ripchord, who are appalling. To celebrate the shop's thirtieth birthday there's also Rough Trade Shops: Counter Culture 1976 which is equally confusing, kicking off with Joe Strummer's The 101ers, then X-Offender, So It Goes, New Rose and The Saints' I'm Stranded before lurching into Dennis Brown, the McGarrigles, Patti Smith, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Ivor Cutler, the Upsetters, the Flaming' Groovies, the Ramones, Aswad, the Residents' version of Satisfaction, Candi Staton's Young Hearts Run Free, Tom Waits and Yabby U. From one celebrated label to a more cult affair, Oxford's Shifty Disco, celebrating ten years of indie jangle and oddball singledom with a 3CD set Shifty Disco 10. The aforementioned Paperlung and highly rated The Race are highlights of the current roster only CD1 and we've never heard of anyone on CD3, but it's the middle disc that provides the standouts of early Young Knives, Beulah (it's not the track chosen but we have a Shifty Disco limited edition CD of Score From Augusta), the ace Murry The Hump, Thom's brother Andy Yorke's nearly big The Unbelievable Truth, AM60, Elf Power, Dustball, Schwab, Nought and Jack Drag. We mentioned last week that Dexys Midnight Runners are again a going concern, which makes it a good time to bring out The Projected Passion Revue. This is a document of what's become known as Dexys Mk II, between Mean Streets brass (most of whom had just walked out to form The Bureau) and Emerald Express fiddle, when the look was ponytails and trainee boxing kit, the sound was intense Stax, the press were only connected with in the form of full page NME adverts and the offstage business involved puritanical lifestyles and training regimes. Kevin Rowland reckons this was the best version of the band, never making it to an album but producing three extraordinary singles in Plan B, Show Me and Liars A To E, here with B-sides, BBC sessions and live tracks. We can't imagine, from his Brighton somgwriting office, that Nick Cave is quite so puritanical about the way the Bad Seeds carry on, but he can carry a live act too, as The Abattoir Blues Tour should prove (also available on DVD) Lee 'Scratch' Perry is famously eccentric - worshipping bananas, eating money, wearing a toaster on his head, burning his own studio down - but he did completely revolutionise reggae and dub production so we can just about let him off. The Upsetter Selection: A Lee Perry Jukebox collects the best of what he did with the Upsetters, the Wailers, U-Roy and Max Romeo among others. Forward a generation, Efil4Seitlayor, it's The Best Of N.W.A: The Strength Of Street Knowledge. The brutal Pacific Northwest American garage rock of the Sonics rarely gets considered among the great garage groups of the mid-60s, but 1965 debut Here Are The Sonics makes a case for them as inventors of the cruder end of the spectrum. Go and download The Witch, Boss Hoss and Strychnine and see what we mean. Tricky to get from there to the "purveyors of fine radiophonic sounds" Piano Magic, the literal spectral collective headed by Glen Johnson who reissue 2003's The Troubled Sleep Of Piano Magic and 2005's Disaffected. Given there's already a Greatest Hits available, which we only know because of that carry-on with pre-Koopa chart baiting a few years ago, is there a need for The Ultimate & Pen-ultimate - The Best And Second Best of John Otway? Who can really say.

The Weekly Sweep

  • Bloc Party - Waiting For The 7:18 [live YouTube]
  • Brakes - Cease And Desist
  • Camera Obscura - If Looks Could Kill [YouTube]
  • Example - You Can't Rap [YouTube]
  • Field Music - She Can Do What She Wants [mp3 from Noise For Toaster]
  • Future Of The Left - Fingers Become Thumbs! [Myspace]
  • Gwenno - St Petersburg [Myspace] (Two new songs up in the last week, the tracks taken off download - with her band's UK first album campaign presumably now over is something afoot?)
  • Hot Club de Paris - Shipwreck [YouTube]
  • The Human League - Being Boiled [live on Granada's Something Else in 1978 YouTube]
  • Johnny Flynn - Tickle Me Pink [YouTube]
  • Klaxons - Isle Of Her
  • Larrikin Love - Well, Love Does Furnish A Life (Fyfe Dangerfield remix) [Myspace - left hand side]
  • Los Campesinos! - We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives [live YouTube]
  • The Noisettes - Don't Give Up [YouTube] (Although far better live than on record, as this clueless hack reckons)
  • Panda Bear - Bro's [mp3 from Muzak For Cybernetics] (Animal Collective solo project after a modernist Brian Wilson fashion)
  • Paperlung - A Cautionary Vision [Myspace] (Sice from the Boo Radleys' new band)
  • Patrick Wolf - Bluebells [YouTube]
  • The Procession - Don't Hesitate [YouTube]
  • Sky Larkin - One Of Two [YouTube]
  • Untitled Musical Project - Beards And Drugs [Myspace] (Good lord, these are good - Brummies with the ghost of McLusky hovering along with a phalanx of American noiseniks. Who the hell booked them a Bloodhound Gang support slot?)
  • Saturday, January 27, 2007

    We know what you're thinking

    You saw the phrase "an early rap novelty record (in which a) man does (an) Alan Whicker impression" in the last post and choked up every meal you've had over the last 24 hours.

    The Evasions - Wikka Wrap

    Come on, everyone reading (and we know there's more of you than are letting on), completely skew those stats by downloading this and playing it as much as you can stand over the next week. And no, it's not a great impression, but the phrasing's spot on.

    Last to know That's an inherently weird place, isn't it? Not the concept - the whole scrobbling deal is fair enough if you want to keep track or show off, or indeed surprise yourself. Trouble is, you're after a fashion letting everyone else know...and it's all searchable. Everything you list is logged, registered and charted. Big Brother is listening to you. Kind of.

    This occurred to us while looking through some of the artist pages the other day out of interest at what the cognescenti believe through repeated plays is the most popular song by various acts. They can ostensibly end any arguments about the most popular tracks from great back catalogues : Beatles - Let It Be edging away from Eleanor Rigby; Stones - Paint It Black; Bowie - Ziggy Stardust; Led Zep - Stairway, obviously; Queen - Bo Rap, clearly, although someone may have to explain Fat Bottomed Girls in the top ten; Neil Young - Heart Of Gold, but a very good showing by Old Man; Elvis Costello - Alison, with a majority of his top ten from My Aim Is True) They can show the progress of modernism - Hurt is a mile ahead of I Walk The Line in Johnny Cash's list, while A Weekend In The City, which has been leaked for a while, is only making very slow progress, all three tracks in Bloc Party's top 100 having previously been paraded as popular live version blog mp3s. Such lists can surprise you, as with Pixies fans only putting Gigantic at 8 (Where Is My Mind? is top) or Fight Test topping the Flaming Lips list.

    But most of all, it can be slightly scary, knowing how a flame still burns for certain also-ran bands. Last week the New Fast Automatic Daffodils racked up more than 200 plays on players - less than, say, You! Me! Dancing (223 and proud), but still unlikely here in late January 2007, if not quite as unlikely as the fact they're not far ahead of Bogshed and behind Menswear. 911? 115 plays. Paris Angels? 25. Joe Dolce's 69 plays can be put down to irony or somesuch, but what about the 52 afforded to Haysi Fantayzee? We were certain nobody else remembered Nut, a female singer who had a couple of mid-90s minor hits, but 19 players do. The Evasions' Wikka Rap, an early rap novelty record (man does Alan Whicker impression over Funkin' For Jamaica Good Times) has had eleven plays in the last six months. Where this all leaves us we're not quite sure, except to assume that in this electronic day and age it literally is the case that nobody gets forgotten.

    Wednesday, January 24, 2007

    Mika bomb

    Introducing the sound of 2007: Mika. The man, the myth, the music

    Good start. So we all know who Mika is now, and we've all gritted our teeth to varying extents at that "a little Freddie - mmmmmm-mmmmmm!" bit. There are lies, damned lies and statistics, perhaps even those that read "Views: 145,807 Comments: 401 Favorited: 1721 times" 401?! What can there be to say about him? Actually, plenty, if the article in yesterday's Independent is to be taken as gospel. In it "Guy Adams goes in search of the maverick behind 'Grace Kelly'" and seemingly doesn't find him, but does lose his way a little along the way, so bear in mind here that we're as much taking the piss out of journalism as we are Mika. So he starts:

    Take Freddie Mercury without the handlebar moustache; throw in equal dollops of Elton John, Robbie Williams, and Scissor Sisters; garnish with matinee-idol looks and the lyrical dexterity of a young David Bowie.

    Insert own Laughing Gnome line here. But...

    if you believe the hype, he's the biggest thing to hit pop for a generation

    Yeah, we'd quite imagine Robbie Williams and the Scissor Sisters are perhaps bigger things to hit pop during the last twenty years by dint of what you've just written. Not to mention the Spice Girls, Take That, R&B, rap's evolvement into the mainstream, rave culture, Britpop, Simon Fuller, production advances, the mums market... anyway.

    He's just clocked up 22,000 friends on MySpace

    25,448 in eight months, in fact, but surely we're not still banging the "OMG look at his friends count!" drum, are we? Especially when half of them have only added to post comments advertising trackers and club nights.

    and was yesterday in New York attempting to crack America.

    Well, at least he got in ahead of SXSW, where there'll be loads attempting to crack America. Then it goes all self-effacing on our asses:

    Like any new pop sensation, he is about to enter the international celebrity stratosphere. He is, ladies and gentlemen, the official biggest thing since ... well, since the last big thing.

    That's right, Allen might still be looking.

    Yet, for all the praise now being heaped upon the track, its curly-haired singer is no ordinary plastic pop-poppet. He was trained at the Royal College of Music, plays piano like an angel, and writes and produces all his own songs. In an era of mass-market bubblegum pop, the boy is like a sore thumb.

    What era of mass-market bubblegum pop is that, then? Yeah, the top 40's crowded out by Waterman-managed Hi-NRG bands these days. Not sure how him being "no ordinary plastic pop-poppet" fits in either, as every chart act now is immediately labelled extraordinary, just in case. Angels don't play piano, by the way. Their wings, and sentinency, get in the way.

    "In the past four or five years, we've been force-fed a strict diet of stars who don't write their own material, can't play instruments and hardly ever play live," said Mika's manager Iain Watt.

    No we haven't, Iain. NO WE SODDING HAVEN'T. Only people who believe Duncan James is a sellable act still think this is the case, albeit in the more positive.

    "As this number one shows, he's different, the real deal."

    But the writer just said he's Freddie Mercury without the handlebar moustache, with equal dollops of Elton John, Robbie Williams and Sci...forget it.

    One interviewer said: "A lot of up and coming singers are excited about being interviewed, but with Mika I got the impression that he's been planning this his whole life. He's incredibly precocious."

    This is just another way of writing 'overtly ambitious and steely eyed', but then he'd sound like an ordinary plastic pop-poppet. Then, quotes arrive! Not from a fresh interview, obviously.

    "I was the unconventional kid in school," he said. "I used to dress in bright red trousers, with a matching bow tie and shirt. Looking back, I was asking for it, and I had a pretty horrific time."

    You don't say. And there's arguments now about the strictness of uniform regulations.

    He developed into a child singing prodigy, performing at the Royal Opera House and singing advertising jingles as a teenager... He went on to Westminster school, gained a place aged 19 at the Royal College of Music, then dropped out in an attempt to launch a solo pop career.

    As a method of demonstrating that this is a unique home-brewed talent, it makes Lily Allen look altruistic.

    "We never ever wanted this project to be hyped and forced on people, because if you want a long-term career it's better if people just discover your work," Watt said. "He's intelligent and eloquent and like great pop stars there's an enduring quality to him, so we didn't want to suddenly ram him down people's throats."

    This snarkiness section has been left open for you to add your own rejoiner. Just remember, his debut full scale single is out next week. Can we not talk about enduring qualities when they've got more than one hit under their belts?

    George Ergatoudis (Radio 1 playlist committee): "We were the first station in the world to play and playlist him," he said. "In the first week of hearing stuff, we thought this guy is really going to go. The timing is just right. There's still a place in the market for a dynamic solo male pop star, and he's got that. Songs in that niche between Scissor Sisters and Queen work in public consciousness, and nobody else is doing that right now."


    Mika's interviews often touch upon his disdain for the record industry that ignored him during the early stages of his career. "I was scorned by the alternative crowd, because of my obsession with good melodies," he once said. "And I was rejected by the commercial crowd, the big record companies, because they thought I was too weird."

    When was this when the Mika sound was deemed unsellable, 1992?

    Yesterday, the pop magazine NME went so far as to announce that it would not be featuring the star because his music appeals to a broad cross-section, from teenage girls to foot-tapping grannies. "He's too mainstream," says a spokesman. "It would be like us featuring Take That. He's very pop, and although he's slightly to the left of mainstream, he's not something our target audience would filter into."

    In a roundabout way, with "Grace Kelly" sitting pretty at number one, there could hardly be a greater endorsement.

    It's probably worth mentioning that number one act My Chemical Romance are on the front of this week's NME. That stuff never usually stops them.

    Monday, January 22, 2007

    Weekender : listening to such music is necrophilia

    FREE MUSIC: You can probably guess the one city A Sunny Day In Glasgow aren't from. Philadelphian siblings Ben, Lauren and Robin Daniels provide a continuation of the grand revival of My Bloody Valentine shoegazing over melodic tweepop. The Best Summer Ever is as decent a summation as you'll find, wherein airy seasonal vocals get buried by waves of distortion and layers of off-beats and contra-melodic keys.

    HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: The latest from the hot right now Modular label (Avalanches, Wolfmother, MSTRKRFT, New Young Pony Club, Cut Copy - alright, maybe that's not the most stable A&R policy), The SoftLightes have been described as "wonder pop", whatever that means. The Californians have the West Coast melody bug about them, but refracted through prisms of Of Montreal-style pulling out of shape, and we can hear something of the nursery slope Flaming Lips in there too. Seek out the extraordinarily detailed video for Heart Made Of Sound too.

    VISUAL REPRESENTATION: As promised, more Tiswas: assorted members of Motorhead, Status Quo and the Polecats plus Toyah and Rick Wakeman play Pass The Pie, Clare Grogan and, oh, someone else from Altered Images, the Jam apparently recorded on Edison's own brand and Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford getting what's coming to them, which is also worth it for the extraordinary list of guests the following week, especially the way Chris seems more surprised by the presence of Ian Page of Secret Affair than that of John Bonham.

    VIRAL MARKETING: Back to Neon Bible, we know, but every tiny piece of information is making us all the more excited. You might have seen the live version of Intervention in a school cafeteria by now, but what about the version recorded for KCRW's influential Morning Becomes Eclectic all of two years ago?

    FALLING OFF A BLOG: We keep forgetting to mention the deliciously semi-random nature of Mars Needs Guitars. Shoegazing, the Go-Betweens, a hell-themed set of mp3s...a blogger after our own heart.

    IN OTHER NEWS: There is none. Not much time this week. Although if you want to mosey on over to The Art Of Noise (see sidebar) in a couple of days' time the second in our occasional series of gig reviews for them will be up.

    Sunday, January 21, 2007

    In shops tomorrow: 22/1


    See, this is the sort of thing that gets us all confused. Through the magic of midweek lists being issued nearly every day of the week we know the hi-fi sci-fi Hard-Fi (without the overbearingness but with a whole truckload of cod-mysticism) of Klaxons' Golden Skans was number 16 last week and will more than likely be top ten tonight in a chart headed by Mika, whose single isn't even out properly until the 29th. Doing neither so far are the Shins, who in a country that didn't much care for Garden State have mere cult status to go on for the swirling Beach Boyisms of Phantom Limb, and Larrikin Love, who in a slightly complex move are releasing Well Love Does Furnish A Life from their album as a single but calling the package A Day In The Life. As mentioned just down there, the download remixes are where it's really at. These are bands you know about, of course, but from our POV the great thing about such sustained blogging is that you can pick up on bands early on and watch them slowly but surely break the nationwide interest surface and get product into the shops. Such is the case of the ever wonderful Sky Larkin, whose scratchy, charging debut 7" One Of Two emerges on Dance To The Radio.


    The thing that's always struck us about Field Music is the way their songs are constructed always seems to be at odds with the way they're produced - both (well, all three) of their albums sound very middly and soft-rocky, but the content takes far too many tightly wound twists and stylistic bounds to be pinned down to Rowleycore (where are people getting the recent Steely Dan comparison from?) Suffice to say that if your finer instincts are appealed to by harmonic inventiveness and properly melodic elegant dislocation, Tones Of Town is a godsend, and we stand by our previous statement that it's the album of the three weeks of 2007 so far. Apart from the underwhelming so far at this end attempt to mash up Blur parochialism and Gorillaz atmospheres that is The Good The Bad And The Queen, it's the reissuing business that's taking up most space this week. While the remastering teams have been working overtime with yet another issue of pickings from the back catalogues of David Bowie (chiefly The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars) and Joni Mitchell (chiefly Court And Spark), we're excited that John Cooper Clarke's 1982 album Zip Style Method is getting a CD release. Produced by Martin Hannett, this is the bard of Salford's last release to date, chiefly harbouring The Day My Pad Went Mad and I Wanna Be Yours, and a Peel session of the time has been appended to the end. Less sociologically inclined, at least on the surface, Bob Kerr And His Whoopee Band were a surreal jazz offshoot from the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Kerr having split from Stanshall, Innes and co when they took a rockier direction. There's a DVD too. Pulling apart the multi-layered indiepop lunacy of Architecture In Helsinki's In Case We Die must have left it in quite a mess, but the likes of Hot Chip and New Buffalo give it a fair go on We Died, They Remixed, reinventing as it goes along. The 22nd best album of 2006 Cansei De Ser Sexy is also on the release schedules this week, having made the step up from Sub Pop to Warners. Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above is scheduled for a reissue in a couple of months, which given it's pretty much the only thing most know them for seems self-defeating. As we forgot to mention it a couple of weeks ago we must also hold high Pop Culture Presents...We're Stupid But We're Happy, a compilation available from PopCult zine featuring the band that give it its title, Los Campesinos!, plus Sky Larkin, redcarsgofaster, Shut Your Eyes And You'll Burst Into Flames, The Answering Machine, Former Bullies and many other reasons to be excited about the new wave of British bands.


    You never quite know how to pitch seemingly unofficial DVDs in this bit. Are they going to be the usual flog 'em cheap waste of time or have they actually managed to licence more than ten seconds at a time of proper performance footage? A guarded mention, therefore, for Kurt Cobain: All Apologies, which promises live footage and interviews with Chad Channing, Steve Sutherland, Keith Cameron, UK PR Anton Brookes and, um, Terry Christian. We're fairly sure Blackalicious: 4/20 Live In Seattle features properly edited live footage of the much respected high speed funk hip-hop trailblazers, though.

    The Weekly Sweep

  • Bloc Party - Uniform
  • The Boy Least Likely To - Faith [stream from offical site; live YouTube (from Summer Sundae, and we were about a third of the length of the hall back)]
  • Camera Obscura - If Looks Could Kill [YouTube]
  • Charlotte Hatherley - I Want You To Know [radio rip mp3 from Bon Ton]
  • Dartz! - Once, Twice, Again [YouTube]
  • Example - You Can't Rap [YouTube]
  • Field Music - A Gap Has Appeared
  • Future Of The Left - Fingers Become Thumbs! [Myspace]
  • Johnny Flynn - Tickle Me Pink [YouTube]
  • Klaxons - Golden Skans [YouTube]
  • Larrikin Love - Well, Love Does Furnish A Life (Fyfe Dangerfield remix) [Myspace - left hand side] (Also on the digital version, remixes by Jeremy Warmsley and Goodbooks. We were unaware that Edward and co were taking pointers from us now, but it's an honour)
  • Los Campesinos! - We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives [live YouTube]
  • Lucky Soul - Ain't Never Been Cool [Myspace]
  • The Maccabees - About Your Dress [YouTube]
  • Mo Solid Gold - David's Soul (Right, hands up who remembers this post-These Animal Men soul power project? We barely did until rifling through some old CD singles in the week)
  • Nas - Hip Hop Is Dead [YouTube]
  • Patrick Wolf - Bluebells [YouTube]
  • The Shortwave Set - Casual Use [Myspace]
  • Sky Larkin - One Of Two [Myspace]
  • We've Got A Fuzzbox And We're Gonna Use It - Rules And Regulations [YouTube]
  • Friday, January 19, 2007

    The Projected Posting Revue

    Freed from the need to buy up a page of NME at a time, Kevin Rowland opens up his own Myspace to deliver thoughts on Blair, Big Brother etc. Oh, and drop off a demo of a new song. Not sure why Because Of You has been chosen as one of the three uploaded classics, though. Maybe he feels with the Flash adverts there's a dollar in Karl Howman.

    Tuesday, January 16, 2007

    Brit pack

    To the annual bonfire of the vanities that is the Brit Awards, this year promising to be more outlandish, unpredictable and entertaining than ever, in the same way Stalin promised civil liberties and free elections across the wartime Eastern Bloc. Let's have a look at this year's marketing opportunities:

    British Male Solo Artist: James Morrison, Jarvis Cocker, Lemar, Paolo Nutini, Thom Yorke
    Radiohead have never won a Brit, but Lemar's got two. Read into that what you will. Thom and Jarvis' presences seem a little like a sop to divide up the Heart FM audience pleasers. The idea Lemar might have three Brit awards seems a trifle silly, so put the house on it being taken home by Nutini, Del Monte's new Nutini.

    Just us?

    British Female Solo Artist: Amy Winehouse, Corinne Bailey Rae, Jamelia, Lily Allen, Nerina Pallot
    No outright makeweights in there at all, unlike usual, even if Bailey Rae didn't become the globe straddling megastar everyone assumed she'd be this time last year. We don't mind Pallot, who penned a lengthy critique of Polydor's A&R man on an industry message board just before they dropped her, and we quite liked the original mix of Everybody's Gone To War. The winner will depend on how coherent they want the speech to be, and thus may depend on how far into the night this award is placed. It'll be Lily, just so the papers have something to write about. It's a social networking site that new acts can upload music to, we hear.

    British Group: Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Muse, Razorlight, Snow Patrol
    Oh, so Snow Patrol do technically count, then, what with essentially being Irish and that. Hard to muster much excitement about this, in all honesty, as nobody's going to sweep the board from this sort of position. Will the Arctics be there, as every two-bob reporter will query?

    British Album: Back To Black, Whatever People Say I Am That's What I'm Not, Alright Still, Black Holes And Revelations, Eyes Open
    Of course the Monkeys won an award last year on the back of their album, such is the way of radio block voting, of which more shortly. Prediction: whoever wins the above won't win this. More helpful prediction: see first sentence.

    British Single: Put Your Records On, Fill My Little World, You Give Me Something, She Moves In Her Own Way, A Moment Like This, Smile, America, I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker, Chasing Cars, Patience, All Time Love
    Not sure if this is the usual selection of the year's best UK-based sellers but we do know commercial radio listeners are doing the initial voting, followed by a live vote on the night (it's modern television, remember, so it must be interactive. Media, do your own work occasionally!) so that'll be Gary Lightbody trying to look humbled.

    British Breakthrough Act: Corinne Bailey Rae, The Fratellis, James Morrison, The Kooks, Lily Allen
    The reason for the 'breakthrough' soubriquet (rather than 'new' tag, which was still applicable when Belle & Sebastian won with their third album) was that the nominated acts were adding something new to the music scene. That's at the very least three of those ruled out, then. Chosen by Radio 1 listeners, and a check of that station's silly Top 40 Bands Of 2006 list reveals it's the Fratellis' to lose.

    British Live Act: George Michael, Guillemots, Kasabian, Muse, Robbie Williams
    Hark, the sound of token gestures. Just because they've played live gigs doesn't mean they're necessarily a great live act. Good to see Guillemots, but no chance. You'd think Muse would piss it, but it's been left to Radio 2 voters just to make sure Robbie gets something. Don't bother, BPI, he won't turn up.

    International Male Solo Artist: Beck, Bob Dylan, Damien Rice, Jack Johnson, Justin Timberlake
    Well, this is clearly a wide open field and in no way a hot tabloid favourite plus four for ballast. One of our favourite moments of televised Brits was when Dylan was last nominated and every nominee in this category got screamed at by the overexcitable crowd... except for what was quite clearly mass nervous shuffling when Zimmerman's features appeared on the big screen. And if that seems like an odd name to throw into the middle of a set of nominees...

    International Female Solo Artist: Beyonce, Cat Power, Christina Aguilera, Nelly Furtado, Pink
    Best not to prepare a speech, Chan. Really, what the hell is Dane Bowers going to do when asked to comment on her on the preview shows? Well, we know what he'll do, he'll go "what, Cat Deeley's got a record out? Eh? Eh?" Oh, it's Nelly's to lose.

    International Group: The Flaming Lips, Gnarls Barkley, The Killers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Scissor Sisters
    Tricky to call, apart from that it won't be ver Lips as they've not been nominated elsewhere. The Chilis won't be there, the Scissors have already had the Brit plaudits, the Killers could be seen as too Americana and Gnarls Barkley as too unpredictable. A score draw, everybody goes home unhappy.

    International Album: Modern Times, St Elsewhere, FutureSex/LoveSounds, Sam's Town, Ta-Dah
    Again, there's a very real chance that of the four that aren't Dylan at least two will take the speech opportunity to praise him. Take that, Brits School kids. Obviously Sam's Town will take it, as the Killers are performing.

    International Breakthrough Act: Gnarls Barkley, Orson, The Raconteurs, Ray Lamontagne, Wolfmother
    You'd imagine only Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse have a chance here, but this is the Brits. If anyone's going to show Britain up with a vote for Lamontagne, it'll be the Brits committee, which is why it's lucky it's voted for by MTV viewers. Yeah, apparently MTV still has a music ethos as opposed to a "laugh at the teenage American girls, go on!" ethos.

    Outstanding Contribution To Music: Oasis
    Great, we can all watch something else at the end. Maybe Guigsy and Bonehead will come back, like a Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame induction.

    Monday, January 15, 2007

    Weekender : eating Too Pure's Fruit Salads

    FREE MUSIC: Emily Haines & The Soft Skeletons' album Knives Don't Have Your Back is despite the backing band setting a solo outing for Metric's energetic frontwoman du jour, stripping away the fuzztone guitars and acrobatic synths of her band for intimate piano and string-led setting in which her heartrending voice and introspective, vulnerable lyrics thrive. It's going to be one worth watching out for, this. Despite a September home issue it's not out in Britain until April, but Spin is sharing the feminist state confused The Lottery.

    HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: There are two things everyone knows about (yes, score yet another Weekender selection down for the cultural hub of East Sussex) Brighton's The Indelicates: the title of the song about overeager press interest in a certain "rock bad boy", and the band female half (actually they're a five-piece, but only two of them do press and take the Indelicate surname so let's press on) Julia was a founder member of. Far more entertaining is the detail that male 'half' Simon has written and staged a musical about the book of Job. And more entertaining still is their music, kamikaze cabaret indiepop like the Dresden Dolls if they were svengali'd by Luke Haines and Jim Reid. Fans of Johnny Boy, Art Brut and great British curmudgeonliness, step this way.

    VISUAL REPRESENTATION: Hot on the heels of that mammoth Swap Shop retrospective over Christmas, it seems a one night only revival of Tiswas is on the cards for very soon indeed, seemingly in some sort of ill-advised Audience With form. Well, it is ITV. Indeed, The Bucket Of Water Song was on TOTP2 last week, and while that performance isn't on YouTube the video is, with Bob Carolgees in the comments. Do your own smirking references to Sally James covered in water, we're more interested in the appearance of Ian 'Sludge' Lees, who we've seen doing cabaret, at 1:55 and the Barron Knights at 2:08. We'll delve further into the 'Was back catalogue next week but for now enjoy an openly infatuated Adam Ant and some commenters who seem to be taking his inevitable flanning as a personal affront. And, because we were trying to explain the act to someone the other day without much success, 'Was regular Bob Blackman's once seen never forgotten tea tray-aided version of Mule Train.

    VIRAL MARKETING: So this is the section where we play up anything that's leaked out into public consumption ahead of much anticipated proper release, and we don't mean in the iTunes way (good to see Daniel Powter finding a way back into the public eye, by the way, having decided to change the name, ditch the hat for big retro hair and become a combination of Robbie and ELO) For example we know Modest Mouse have an album on the way featuring Johnny Marr, from which the first single will be a hopefully unobstructed by hands and whooping Dashboard.

    FALLING OFF A BLOG: We thought we put a lot of intrinsic effort into our end of year list, then we see In League With Paton did a top 100 album list and feel slightly faint. Like us this one clearly prefers almost random writing to chasing the Hype Machine dragon, based around regular readable, sense-filled regular reviews. And it covers jazz.

    EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: At last, an answer to the age old question: what book was Art Garfunkel reading at various points of the last thirty years?

    IN OTHER NEWS: Crossing our fingers that it's not been cleaned up since we chanced across it (it'll all be in the history in any case), how much of Lovefoxx's Wikipedia profile do you suspect is genuine? We're beginning to doubt the "is singer in CSS" bit ourselves.

    Sunday, January 14, 2007

    In shops tomorrow: 15/1


    Maybe Guillemots are just too odd for widespread acceptance. If Trains To Brazil can only peak at 36 then maybe the gap between the position at the top table many a critic perceived would naturally be theirs and the reaction of your average Snow Patrol latecomer on seeing a band with a kaftan-clad drummer, double bassist, guitar played with a drill attachment and at the centre a ball of bespoke suited energy and flyaway hair may never be breached. Annie, Let's Not Wait has been reworked from the album into something approaching leftfield soul revue, and if that doesn't work, well, at least the rest of us are being moved by it. Joan As Police Woman supported them on their breakthrough tour, and she slings out The Ride on limited edition seemingly in connection with nothing other than reminding people that they missed a quiet gem of an album in the end of year lists. Two quiet gems that we suspect people will forget about when 2007's retrospectives are written are meanwhile being flagged up in advance, one heard by us, one not for a while yet: Field Music's Tones Of Town we've praised to high heaven before and will again in a couple of weeks, but A House Is Not A Home, relocating a Beethoven piano figure to the sort of classically pastoral layered offbeat nowhere-but-England pop Brewis, Brewis and Moore probably deliver in their sleep. Similarly the heartbroken/heartbreaking retro charm written by Andrew Laidlaw, sung by Ali Howard and played by Laidlaw and four other people in the name of Lucky Soul, whose influences list on Myspace pointedly includes "nothing with the words 'chill out' in it". Third single Ain't Never Been Cool does it again, coming up slowly to sweep you off your feet from behind in a sweep of strings and what can, and we do apologise in advance for this, only be labelled indie-soul. We must say, we're admiring this run over the last year or so of bands who can trace lineage to St Etienne.


    The album market is still trying to rouse itself for the year's longeurs ahead, so Frank Turner's getting in ahead of most of the pack with Sleep Is For The Week. The hard gigging ex-Million Dead frontman's wordy acoustic alt-folk protest songs and often ire-filled social and emotional commentary deserves far better than the inevitable clueless journos labelling him merely as "an antidote to James Blunt". Alec Empire is an antidote to James Blunt, but that doesn't make him any more listenable. In compilation news we have the latest of Andy Votel's trips into the obscure and necessarily weird. What's happened to Votel and Damon Gough's Twisted Nerve Records now Badly Drawn Boy has switched labels from the one that bought a part-share in them, by the way? Has it folded? A right bugger if it has, we say. And while we think about it, what became of Dave Tyack of their Dakota Oak Trio, who was reported missing a few years ago? Anyway, Folk Is Not a Four Letter Word Vol. 2 is a second dip into little known (bar Pentangle and Alexis Korner) acid hippy fusion folk-pop-rock-things.

    The Weekly Sweep

  • Bloc Party - The Prayer [YouTube]
  • Charlotte Hatherley - Be Thankful
  • Dartz! - Once, Twice, Again [YouTube]
  • The Decemberists - The Soldiering Life [YouTube]
  • Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton - Doctor Blind [Myspace]
  • Field Music - A House Is Not A Home [YouTube]
  • Fun Boy Three - Tunnel Of Love (Thought this was on YouTube, but apparently not. Not all lost, though, as we did find Terry, Lynval and Neville doing Gangsters for German telly in 1983)
  • Future Of The Left - Fingers Become Thumbs! [Myspace]
  • Johnny Flynn - Tickle Me Pink [YouTube]
  • Klaxons - Golden Skans [YouTube]
  • LCD Soundsystem - North American Scum
  • Lucky Soul - Ain't Never Been Cool [Myspace] (Is it our imagination, or does the release date of the album keep slipping back? April, it now says)
  • Los Campesinos! - We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives [live YouTube]
  • M Ward - To Go Home [mp3 from Interpr├ętations Diverses]
  • Patrick Wolf - Bluebells [YouTube]
  • The Rumble Strips - Alarm Clock [Myspace]
  • Sarah Nixey - When I'm Here With You [YouTube]
  • The Shortwave Set - Casual Use [Myspace]
  • Sky Larkin - One Of Two [Myspace]
  • Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Catch You [mp3 from Into The Groove]
  • Saturday, January 13, 2007

    Everybody live for the music-go-round

    We mentioned the return of Kim Wilde not long ago in passing, but there's something about it that deserves a proper airing. Wilde, who lest we forget for long periods of her first time round was as great a sultress of pop as you could get and still carried off the whole earth mother thing during her gardening phase, has reached the stage of her career where she can afford to put out a 'new' album that is half re-recordings of hits from when she was much younger. Never Say Never, released across Europe on EMI but not in Britain, is an odd affair, promoted as a return to her pop-rock roots but full of just outmoded synth swooshes that don't work. Family favourites reappearing include You Keep Me Hangin' On as a duet with, of all people, Nena, a big guitar treadover of You Came and View From A Bridge rendered as hi-NRG. Not pretty so far, but what to do with the song that perhaps most of all has earned her a place in pop's pantheon, covered by among others Atomic Kitten, the Bloodhound Gang, Len, the Muffs and the Young Knives? What level of international crossover act can Wilde bring in to augment it and prove to the wary that this was an artistic gamble worth taking?

    Kim Wilde feat. Charlotte Hatherley - Kids In America

    Let's get it straight - Hatherley's forthcoming album The Deep Blue is tremendous sophisticated, airy alt-pop that may well earn her the wider kudos she's always deserved, and of course her first album Grey Will Fade features a track called Kim Wilde so it's all fair and square. What isn't is that whoever produced this seems to think that instead of the Eighties poutcore gem original they're working on an Olsen Twins record.

    Friday, January 12, 2007

    Ah, that'll be it

    Quite Good PR client Sandi Thom: rose to fame on the back of nebulous Internet Stardom hype.

    Quite Good PR client Koopa: please refer to a previous post.

    (And, as Chris has pointed out, we have crossed paths with the latter before)

    Wednesday, January 10, 2007

    Back to the Future

    So you know we've spent much of 2006 on tenterhooks eagerly grabbing every little piece of information on McLusky/Jarcrew merged company Future Of The Left, and on the 29th we get something tangible (discounting the already available download version, obviously) in the form of a 7" on Too Pure, Fingers Become Thumbs on one side and on the other a 'proper' version of...

    Future Of The Left - The Lord Hates A Coward (demo)

    Because it never ceases to amaze us that this actually happened, McLusky doing To Hell With Good Intentions on HTV's The Pop Factory is always worth relinking to. The other third of FotL, as nobody abbreviates their name quite yet, Kelson gives it plenty on the extraordinarily good Jarcrew might-pass-for-a-hit-in-a-strong-wind Paris And The New Math.

    At number 150 this week, I Ain't The One by Lynyrd Skynyrd

    See, this is a good demonstration of why we can't get a hold of the singles chart any more. Three stories have emerged in the last three days that reflect The Way Things Are Changing (or, if you're the Independent, "The day music-lovers took control of the pop charts". Right you are, then. You're never usually that kind to Snow Patrol, Indy), and while HMV replacing the official chart with own brand was kind of inevitable, if not so quickly - HMV already do their own album chart display, and if you've got great big gaps in your singles line-up it's not going to help much - we weren't quite aware of the scale of the issue until we heard that, of about 8,000 sales to take it to number nine, Chasing Cars sold 26 physical copies. Twenty six. Firstly, can you imagine if that had been top 20 for six months? Secondly, doesn't this kind of make a mockery of the idea that it's beneficial for everyone?

    Moreover, news today that at 17 in the midweeks, the highest new entry, is Koopa's download only single. Now, we like to think we're across all modern music, through a result of the Net, assorted media outlets, listening widely and, well, chancing it a lot of the time, but we've genuinely never come across Koopa before, not their supposed huge live support, not their Colchester-based groundswell - a chart search engine reveals they had a number 71 smash capitalising on the Christmas week sales slowdown in 2005. Checking their Myspace, and the quote next to the band picture is so banally cliched it would put off many less stout-hearted men, we don't particularly care for coming across them again. Of course it won't be up there by Sunday, but bearing in mind number 40 this week sold around 3,000, where is this all coming from? We're aware they have 32,000+ Myspace friends, but that sort of thing never usually translates to a great impact on the charts. Well, because the new rules "give hope for genuine talent", says Koopa's singer, but he would. And the charts, you never hear anything but manufactured singers from talent shows, do you, eh, Eh? Eh? Yes, of course it's the flexibility of the download rules, not so much that it makes a level playing field, because that hasn't happened before now in nearly nine months of downloads being incorporated - in fact, Fierce Panda and Moshi Moshi would have had top 40 successes by now on physical sales alone, and as we've mentioned before even the Internet's famous Arctic Monkeys' last single was a physical number one by some distance and a Guinness Book number four - but because the way these things are added up can give rise to such an anomoly, in the same way nothing has come remotely close to following Crazy (also the year's best selling physical single, FWIW) to download number one.

    Time for a little experiment into the effect of our exciting digital sales age, which we won't lace with smartarse comments just so you can interpret the data as you wish. Here's the top 20 announced on the randomly chosen day of 15/10/06:

    1 My Chemical Romance - Welcome To The Black Parade (new entry)
    2 Razorlight - America
    3 Scissor Sisters - I Don't Feel Like Dancin'
    4 Bob Sinclar - Rock This Party
    5 P Diddy feat. Nicole Scherzinger - Come To Me
    6 Lil Chris - Checkin' It Out
    7 Beatfreakz - Superfreak
    8 Killers - When You Were Young
    9 Justin Timberlake - Sexyback
    10 David Hasselhoff - Jump In My Car
    11 Lily Allen - LDN
    12 Nelly Furtado - Promiscuous
    13 Shakira - Hips Don't Lie
    14 Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars
    15 Cascada - Everytime We Touch
    16 Evanescence - Call Me When You're Sober
    17 High School Musical - Breaking Free
    18 Pussycat Dolls - I Don't Need A Man
    19 Fratellis - Chelsea Dagger
    20 James Morrison - Wonderful World

    Here's the download top 20:

    01 Razorlight
    02 My Chemical Romance
    03 Scissor Sisters
    04 Bob Sinclar
    05 Snow Patrol (remember, this came out at the start of July)
    06 Killers
    07 James Morrison
    08 Amy Winehouse - Rehab (released 23rd)
    09 P Diddy
    10 Lil’ Chris
    11 Lily Allen
    12 Justin Timberlake
    13 Damien Rice - 9 Crimes (released 29th November! Charted at 29)
    14 Fratellis
    15 Nelly Furtado
    16 David Hasselhoff
    17 Paolo Nutini (21 in the big chart)
    18 Beyonce - Irreplaceable (released 23rd)
    19 Shakira
    20 Cascada

    And here's the physical sales top 20:

    01 My Chemical Romance
    02 P Diddy (down from number one)
    03 Razorlight (interestingly, up from an entry position of 5)
    04 Scissor Sisters
    05 Bob Sinclar
    06 Beatfreakz
    07 Lil'Chris
    08 David Hasselhoff
    09 Justin Timberlake
    10 High School Musical
    11 Shakira
    12 Lily Allen
    13 Evanescence
    14 Nelly Furtado
    15 Cascada
    16 Pussycat Dolls
    17 Placebo feat Alison Mosshart - Meds (in at 35)
    18 Lemar - It's Not That Easy (down to 26)
    19 Jamelia - Somehting About You (down to 22)
    20 Hot Chip - Over and Over (in at 27)

    Out of interest, who'd like to see the same week's airplay top 20?

    1 Razorlight
    2 Scissor Sisters
    3 James Morrison
    4 The Magic Numbers - Take A Chance (out 23rd)
    5 Lily Allen
    6 Amy Winehouse
    7 The Kooks - Ooh La (23rd)
    8 Nelly Furtado
    9 Lemar
    10 Simon Webbe - Coming Around Again (30th)
    11 Fratellis
    12 Snow Patrol
    13 Jamelia
    14 Fedde Le Grand - Put Your Hands Up For Detroit (30th)
    15 Muse - Starlight (down to 33)
    16 Kooks - She Moves In Her Own Way (at 37 after 17 weeks)
    17 The Feeling - Never Be Lonely (down to 25)
    18 My Chemical Romance
    19 Corinne Bailey Rae - Like A Star (in at 32)
    20 All Saints - Rock Steady (6th November)