Monday, April 30, 2007

Weekender : the damned uniting

FREE MUSIC: More Swedes in the shape of The Mary Onettes. No, not a great name, in truth. After dalliances with major labels they've ended up on Labrador, home of most of the Scandindiepop (ah!) revolution, to recreate New Order's Power Corruption & Lies album as if it itself were inspired by the Cure. Lost is right out of the Age Of Consent sessions.

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: Slow Down Tallahassee have a slight approach resemblance to more celebrated female-fronted Sheffield bretheren (they're on Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation, which said bretheren released early 7"s on) and as they have three girls up front who like a good harmony will be compared to more celebrated Brighton bretheren, but there's more to them than our quick and easy gender correlations. A good fuzzy home brew sound always works for us, the keyboards suggest lo-fi disco of the ten years ago type we were discussing the other week, and there's something about it that sees them knowingly underplay their influences for pop hook sport without ever fully disguising them. If they're not careful, a cult following could ensue.

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: With promotion starting for the new Paul McCartney album now all that nasty marriage business has eased off a bit, plus Jeff Lynne's dire promise of more discovered John Lennon demos, what better time to watch Macca making mashed potatoes. This, should you really want to know, was part of a live vodcast, as they'd be called now, to promote Linda's posthumous album in 1998. Coming Up - that was a great McCartney song, wasn't it?

VIRAL MARKETING: Interpol's third album details were released in the week - Our Love To Admire, July 10th stateside. A slightly ropey but still worthwhile live recording of Mammoth suggests a more muscular take on the usual formula, and at least this way you can't clearly make out Paul Banks' lyrics yet.

FALLING OFF A BLOG: We've been far too long in getting to this one, as we've long admired Armagideon Time for its basic juxtaposition in a way that makes more sense than we're about to make it sound of dense, pop culture riffing explanations of life and mp3s of songs idiots call 'old skool'.

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: Rilo Kiley's on the spot reaction to Paris Hilton's sex tape

IN OTHER NEWS: Follow Jack White's example on Icky Thump and get to know the stylophone.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

In shops tomorrow: 30/4


Slim pickings this week, led by the much vaunted James Chapman, AKA Maps. He's been getting a lot of attention for his bedroom electronic warmth, It Will Find You somewhere in the room vacated by the Postal Service, Spiritualized and nu-shoegaze, if that really exists as a genre yet. We really thought Sondre Lerche would gain more attention for his recent fourth album Phantom Punch, a rawer take on his Scandi-Costello boundary brushing. That may not have come to pass, but The Tape/Face The Blood is as worthy a 7" of this sort of thing as any. Tilly And The Wall have recently popped by Britain again on a European tour with CSS, so The Freest Man makes a belated limited 7" appearance.


Maybe Lou Barlow's been to see a therapist. After 2005's official solo debut and before that the ever evolving line-up of Folk Implosion, over the last twelve months he's not only reunited with original Sebadoh compadres Jason Loewenstein and Eric Gaffney but, mercy upon mercies, he's also fallen back in with J Mascis and Murph. He's not adapted The Freed Pig, we're guessing. What we've heard of Dinosaur Jr's first album in ten years, J Mascis' first proper release in five (we're not counting J And Friends Sing And Chant For Amma, right?) and the original three's first in 19, Beyond, suggests it carries on from where the last pre-Barlow sacking album Bug left off, still spotwelding loud and heavy but non-shredded solos to servient introspection. With longstanding rumours that the Pixies are back in the studio, you wonder where it's all going to stop. For example, this is Krist Novoselic, apparently. Difficult to know what to make of Electrelane's fourth album No Shouts No Calls - their first album since relocating to Berlin, it's a return to the vocal stylings of their high water mark The Power Out and has been described as their most joyful to date, none of which explains the ship on the cover that is redolent less of high seas openness and more like a beermat design. Does joyfulness in openness really suit Electrelane? Let's call it a grower. Loads of interesting stuff around this week, so a brief runthrough: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club return to loud amps and become far less interesting on Baby 81; Robert Pollard releases Silverfish Trivia, the second of three promised solo albums in 2007 alongside a Fading Captain Series anthology, a Circus Devils album, work by The Takeovers and the Keene Brothers and the promised Brown Submarine project (this constitutes a quiet period for Pollard, obviously); 65daysofstatic's third LP The Destruction Of Small Ideas continues on the piano/very loud guitar/Aphexesque beats path; nu-shoegaze finds its Kitchens Of Distinction in Brooklyn's Dirty On Purpose and Hallelujah Sirens; avant-garde collective Githead, led by Wire's Colin Newman, does what it says on the tin, to an extent, on Art Pop, mixing pop choruses and abstract electronics and then putting a Stuckist-esque cover on the CD case; and Spiderman 3: Music From & Inspired By - who gets inspired by a brand new film to write a song, score composers aside? - shrugs off a gaseous nuisance of a song even by Snow Patrol's standards to get new songs out of The Flaming Lips, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Walkmen. Every home should certainly have one, but Essential Squeeze has really got to stop their back catalogue story here, being their tenth compilation not counting the box set. We're aware Difford and Tilbrook are reforming, or at least regenerating the name together, later in the year for a prohibitively expensive UK tour but this seems to have been put on the slate before that was announced, as was a concurrent release of Glenn Tilbrook demos from 1981, The Past Has Been Bottled. At least James have only had one previous Best Of before Fresh As A Daisy: The Singles, and they've reformed too. As have Orchestral Manoevures In The Dark, although they're sticking with a reissue of commercial highpoint Architecture and Morality for now.


Inevitably, both Essential Squeeze and James: Fresh As A Daisy get video retrospectives. The latter's visual work got quite interesting as time went on, while the former, apart from the Daliesque Hourglass, never got much of a budget (although check the bomber jacket/red leggings combination on the girls in the Cool For Cats video) which might be why a 1982 concert is also included. Those are of course British bands for the ages, but what to make of Art Brut: Talking To The Kids? Of course the cult following, and Eddie Argos is very much a leader of men and post-modern wit in this regard, but curious success in Germany aside there's surely only a limited scope for this sort of product on sell-through. Regardless here's a compilation of European tour highlights, interviews, telly performances, videos and suchlike.


We've always been a little cold towards Simon Reynolds' journalism, not for his stance on things but for his sometimes overwhelming critical theory polemic. Never trust a writer who uses the word 'discourse' in everything, that's what we say, although we sense this is actually our fault more than anything. His historical pieces and books, not least Rip It Up And Start Again, are excellent, though, which is why we're very interested in Bring The Noise, part anthlogy of twenty years of musical progression through his criticisms and thinkpieces, part new commentary sewing the timeline together. Down the inkies corridor, at least at the turn of the 90s, but tonally several light years away worked Andrew Collins, whose third book of reminiscence That's Me In The Corner tackles his time at the NME and Q and through to radio and much later television lowbrow classiness. Patrick Humphries is another who came through the music press ranks to make a name for himself, mostly as a biographer. The Many Lives Of Tom Waits should be fun given Waits himself often can't get much of a handle on his own backstory, birth supposedly in the back of a New York cab onwards. Mind you, you should see Alex Harvey's biog, from being named "Scotland's answer to Tommy Steele" to becoming a Brel-glam-cabaret star of the early to mid 70s, all essayed in John Neil Munro's The Sensational Alex Harvey. Meanwhile this week's local elections and the weekend after next's Eurovision Song Contest make for timely reprints for Billy Bragg's The Progressive Patriot and Tim 'Mr Hairs' Moore's investigation of the Eurovision ideal Nul Points.

The Weekly Sweep

  • Amy Winehouse - Back To Black (Rumble Strips remix) [mp3 from Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before]
  • Battles - Atlas [YouTube]
  • Cajun Dance Party - The Next Untouchable [Myspace]
  • Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip - Development [live session mp3 on The Daily Growl]
  • Dinosaur Jr - Been There All The Time [YouTube]
  • Emma Pollock - Adrenaline
  • Feist - My Moon, My Man [YouTube]
  • Foals - Hummer [YouTube]
  • Friends Of The Bride - Buckle Up, Sunshine! [YouTube]
  • Frank Turner - The Real Damage [YouTube]
  • Goodbooks - The Illness [YouTube]
  • Jamie T - Sheila [YouTube]
  • Jeffrey Lewis - Don't Let the Record Label Take You Out to Lunch
  • Los Campesinos! - You! Me! Dancing! [Myspace]
  • The Maccabees - Precious Time [YouTube]
  • Modest Mouse - Dashboard [YouTube]
  • Napoleon IIIrd - This Is My Call To Arms [Myspace]
  • The Sex Patels - Once In A Lifetime [YouTube] (Yorkshire bhangra punk/new wave covers! Fantastic!)
  • Suburban Kids With Biblical Names - Loop Duplicate My Heart [YouTube]
  • Yo La Tengo - From A Motel 6 [YouTube]
  • Friday, April 27, 2007

    Worms of the week what, it now occurs, Mark Radcliffe's Radio 1 breakfast show record of the week slot was called. Earworms of the week, however, are what our blogosphere neighbour Swiss Toni does, and this week we're supplying them for him. Don't think there's anything you won't have seen us mention before on here, but in more detail (jokes about Battles! That'll run with the cultural cross-section) and with a podcast accompaniment when it's ready.

    Thursday, April 26, 2007

    An Illustrated Guide To With Jeffrey Lewis

    Our most recent mini-obsession Jeffrey Lewis is coming over to Britain in September, not least for a slot at the End Of The Road Festival. The decidedly singular wordsmith antifolkist/comic sketcher/beatnik pop culture poet/former Cribs support (how did that happen, then? *) is, as you'll have worked out, quite difficult to pigeonhole, and these won't help either but you can't deny they're informative and entertaining - A History Of Punk On The Lower East Side 1950-1975 and Illustrated History Of Communist China:

    * Note to Ryan Jarman: you're thinking of Adam Green there)

    Wednesday, April 25, 2007

    Compare and contrast

    One thing you'll notice we do do a lot when previewing releases by new bands is try to make some sort of connection with existing bands or genres. It's a well worn journalistic trick that while being helpful up to a point in determining whether this is something you really have to investigate tells you nothing except to reinforce the notion that modern guitar music has settled into comfy self-referencing. Ah well.

    Thing is, it's got to be done right. Quite clearly Klaxons have very little in common with proper original rave music but they called themselves nu-rave to see who'd go with it, and from that we have our airwaves and minds polluted by the likes of Shitdisco, who three years ago would have been termed post-Franz post-punk revivalists and left hung out to dry. This is why we secretly love it when a review goes off on such a comparative tangent that you wonder whether someone didn't get their white label promo CDs mixed up. We've spotted a couple of top examples over the last week to demonstrate what we mean.

    For a start, there's the usually great Popmatters' take on the much-better-live blues-rock'n'roll-fronted-by-Diamanda Galas'-soul-sista Noisettes album. Apparently:

    The Noisettes' debut effort shouldn’t be dismissed as a turbo-charged Pipettes or a female-vocal Fratellis.

    No, it shouldn't. Because they sound nothing like either. The reasoning is apparently "growled ferocity and girl-group melodies", which doesn't work either as the Fratellis don't generally do growled ferocity and the Noisettes don't do girl group melodies.

    But they're North Americans attempting to get a handle on British modern indiepop culture. How very different is our own Teletext Planet Sound. Or so you'd think. This is a verbatim quote of their review of one of our favourite singles of the year so far, Foals' Hummer. Before you read on go and listen to it if it's not already bedding in as an earworm as much as it is with us, either on their Myspace or via YouTube. Done that? Right, keep all that in mind:

    Getting hyped as a British take on Arcade Fire, they may share a love of heightened drama, but there's a more playful spirit here. It's as if, yeah, sure, we COULD make a song as moving as Lies, but we'd rather try to fit in some loved-up pop vibes in first, thanks.

    What, Earls? WHAT? As we said at the weekend, from what we've seen Foals have been getting hyped as a British take on Battles or The Rapture (not these, then? Come on, this formed a semi-key moment in a major British music film). Heightened drama? Loved-up pop vibes? Shouldn't an Arcade Fire-esque band have some sort of strings, for a start?

    Right, nobody's commented recently, so the floor is open to you. What's the most offbeam comparison you've seen in a proper printed review?

    Monday, April 23, 2007

    Weekender : the excitement never ends

    FREE MUSIC: Another low grade download this week - all of 56kbps - but it's an insight into one of this year's most interesting leftfield releases so far. From Animal Collective quarter Panda Bear's Brian Wilsonian Person Pitch, the barn-sized Comfy In Nautica.

    HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: After the discovery of Pete Gofton's doings last week, another scion of the North-Eastern scene now. Round about 2004 there were four Tyne & Wear bands everyone knew were going to be big and do interesting stuff, but while Maximo Park, the Futureheads and Field Music went on either sell out big venues or produce music that should have done the Golden Virgins fell apart after a solitary album that passed most by. Singer Lucas Renney has now set off on his own with a set of melancholic acoustic demos largely recorded by Peter Brewis of Field Music (apart from one overseen by that man Gofton) that might just do it for him at the second time of asking.

    VISUAL REPRESENTATION: Nuggets alumni and garage rock of the same era this week, because YouTube is full of grainy mimed rarities of the very top drawer. Watch the girls go wild by the pool for Count Five's Psychotic Reaction and the 13th Floor Elevators' You're Gonna Miss Me (no wonder Roky Eriksson went mad), wonder where the organist went for the Kingsmen's Louie Louie who couldn't look less subversive if they tried, admire the Arabian-themed magician get-up of Sam The Sham as he sings Woolly Bully, note the arty direction frames the Seeds' Pushin' Too Hard and see the Electric Prunes sock it to The Man on The Mike Douglas Show.

    VIRAL MARKETING: We saw the Maccabees at the weekend, making sure to keep as far at the back as possible while still being able to see what was going on. The kids go mad for them alright. Colour It In is out on May 14th and the 4 Music strand put out a JD Set live performance and interview at the weekend, archived here and here.

    FALLING OFF A BLOG: reallyrather isn't an mp3 blog, but it does get wordily excited about new music in a way we only like to think we do.

    EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: We've never been totally convinced by Simon Reynolds' print journalism but his books hit the nub of his themes squarely on the head, so we're intrigued by forthcoming polemicism prose Bring the Noise: Twenty Years Of Writing About Hip Rock And Hip Hop, published 3rd May and advertised by Reynolds talking to Fact magazine about where both themes are heading.

    IN OTHER NEWS: We've not forgotten More Songs To Learn And Sing, but given we've not had any volunteers outside the list of people we were going to contact anyway we feel we have to remind you subtly every so often. So: do you want to write a few words about the song that everyone should hear for publication in June? You do? Well, contact us, then.

    Sunday, April 22, 2007

    In shops tomorrow: 23/4


    Releases moved back for a start: Camera Obscura's Tears For Affairs was written up well last week and then got pushed back seven days, which is nothing compared to Friends Of The Bride's suave post-Britbeat debut 7" Buckle Up, Sunshine!, originally due out on March 19th through some aegis of the great Young & Lost Club but moved back to tomorrow due to the entire stock being impounded by customs for a fortnight. First there was one grandiose Danish outfit with epic indie-prog ambitions, now there is another one of it. While Mew regroup and plan their next dimensional explorations The Kissaway Trail have arrived on Bella Union with the euphorically galactical Mercury Rev-esque sound of Smother + Evil = Hurt. Even the awkward song titles are in common. Orange Juice have been thoroughly excavated these last four years but there was always a pop element at their core that has only really ever been hinted at, so Wild Beasts have taken up the slack and added love/hate high-pitched vocals on Through Dark Night, their last independent single before taking up residence on Domino. Some really strong stuff vinyl-wise, not least the band already experiencing something of a backlash despite not really having had the build up bit yet. Foals are currently going through the 'but they're just ripping off Battles/The Rapture' (or, according to one online review, "a slightly less energetic Sunshine Underground", which would actually be going backwards in our view) period, which suggests a) nobody remembers A Certain Ratio and b) this comparison thing has really got to stop. Double A side Hummer/Astronauts And All lays bare a mastery of precise polyrhythmic groove, both mathrocky in its preciseness and spazz-out in its danceability. Apparently they're much better live, too. Much louder live, we'd guess, are Dinosaur Jr, J Mascis putting his underwhelming ...& The Fog project on hold to reunite with Lou and Murph. Actually Been There All The Time sounds like it could have come from post-Barlow album Green Mind most of all, but no worry. It's not even the best of their new material.


    Most of this week's attention will be understandably taken by Arctic Monkeys' Favourite Worst Nightmare, especially if it sells less than 300,000 over the next seven days and the papers self-consciously delight in telling us how far downhill they've gone. Haven't heard it yet, but if they've sorted the wheat from the less thought out chaffish half that meant Whatever People Say I Am... never ascended the heights it could have it could take off in a completely different way to how that first album did. Or something. Alright, we quite like the Arctic Monkeys at times, is it such a crime? Of more immediate cred points is Feist, who we've never really got on with before but The Reminder takes her into Cat Power territory without ever being a straight replica of the Marshall plan. The range of styles and confidence in taking them on points to an album that's most likely only to grow over time, and recorded in less than a week with as few overdubs as possible with her touring band and usual array of collaborators it's as fine a way as any of taking lo-fi stylistic experiments some way towards the mainstream. The Electric Soft Parade have majored in a similar sort of thing in terms of fuzzily melancholic, psychedelically influenced power-pop and all it earned them was a cancellation of their major label deal. Now with Truck Records and working on a purely DIY basis, the White brothers have put Brakes and the many Brighton outfits they've leant a hand to aside for a moment and produced the spectrally efficient slow-burner No Need To Be Downhearted. The Kissaway Trail's self-titled debut is also out this week - see single passim. There's a presumably not Mark E-endorsed digipack reissue of The Fall's Hex Enduction Hour out. How did we describe it? "An astounding work, difficult to get into but impossible to leave be, such is the intensity and the tightly wound lyricism. The first Fall album to break the top 75, many have this down as the masterwork, if probably not the place to start your Fall collection." Oh, buy it anyway. South London duo I Ludicrous were inspired by and weren't/aren't a million miles from the Fall's acutely angled observations, albeit in a C86 jangly vein. 20 Years In Show Business, starring the glorious Peel favourite Preposterous Tales, also betrays a very Nigel Blackwell-like outlook at least in terms of song titling: Pop Fan's Dream (Sunday Lunch With The Geldofs), My Baby's Got Jet Lag, Are You Turning Round And Telling Me, Hats Off To Eldorado, Stuck In A Lift With Noel Edmonds, Carter They're Unstoppable, When The Computer Engineer Comes, I've Never Been Hit By Mark E Smith, We're The Support Band, Valediction (Like A Moron).

    The Weekly Sweep

  • Andrew Bird - Fake Palindromes [live YouTube]
  • Arcade Fire - Black Mirror [live YouTube]
  • Battles - Atlas [YouTube]
  • The Be Be See - Disney Eyes [Myspace]
  • Cajun Dance Party - The Next Untouchable [Myspace]
  • The Decemberists - The Sporting Life [live YouTube]
  • Dinosaur Jr - Been There All The Time [YouTube] (Who does J Mascis now look like? The obvious pick is Kurt Cobain when he came onstage at Reading in a wheelchair and a long blonde wig, with more than a hint of outgrown Jimmy Saville)
  • Feist - My Moon, My Man [YouTube]
  • Foals - Hummer [YouTube]
  • Friends Of The Bride - Buckle Up, Sunshine! [YouTube]
  • Goodbooks - The Illness [YouTube]
  • The (International) Noise Conspiracy - The Reproduction Of Death [YouTube]
  • Jamie T - Sheila [YouTube]
  • Jetplane Landing - Backlash Cop
  • John Cooper Clarke - Evidently Chickentown [mp3 from I Guess I'm Floating] (Somewhat bizarrely this was played over the credits of last week's Sopranos on HBO. By necessity you wouldn't imagine JCC had a great US following, but that's how this shrinking media world can surprise us nowadays
  • Los Campesinos! - You! Me! Dancing! [Myspace] (Their next single, out June 4th, almost a year after we first raved about its wondrousness. And they've just signed to Arts & Crafts in the US, home of Broken Social Scene and similar, and they're on the Lollapalooza bill. This is none of our indirect work at all, of course, but we're happy to take any residual credit)
  • The Maccabees - Precious Time [YouTube]
  • Modest Mouse - Dashboard [YouTube]
  • Tom Waits - Singapore [YouTube]
  • The Young Playthings - Hot Sex With A Girl I Love [Myspace]
  • Saturday, April 21, 2007

    A random thought for a slow afternoon

    What do Jacqui and Carrie of Shampoo do these days?

    How to ruin a viral hit

    So everyone is now aware of the Zimmers, the forty-strong OAP outfit brought together for a BBC2 documentary to record - do you see? - My Generation (and it's rumoured the backing band are some of Fields, presumably this not being what they had in mind when they signed that major label contract). What can stop this heartwarming tale of fighting back against ideas of ageing in its tracks?

    Well, you could put the press release on the Myspace.

    Ever thought that Take That were too old to still be called a Boyband? Do you think the Rolling Stones should retire? Well if you answered Yes to both of these questions then you are gonna LOVE this...welcome to the wonderful world of THE ZIMMERS!

    Formed in early 2007, The Zimmers are not only the oldest gigging band in the world (with an average age of 78), they are also the most celebrated, having recorded their debut album at the famous Abbey Road Studios, under the watchful eye of Acclaimed Producer Mike Hedges.

    Oh and by the way, don't tell them you think this is funny, with more aggression than Nirvana and more talent than The Beatles, these OAP's are here to stay. Their first single 'My Generation' is released on May 14th. Expect it to climb faster than a Stenna Stair Lift!

    Other songs in THE ZIMMERS repertoire include 'Firestarter' by The Prodigy, 'When I'm (one hundred and)64' by The Beatles and the live favorite (Jermain Stewarts worldwide hit) 'We Don't have to take our clothes off (to have a good time)'.

    Our skin physically crawled on nine seperate occasions during those four sentences. Still, surely singer Alf Carretta and his recruited friends have the best intentions at heart.

    This group of people met at the Mecca bingo hall on Essex Road and have been friends ever since. Some of them were there the day it opened, but sadly, after 30 odd years they’ve played their final game – according to Rank, who own Mecca, the double taxation on bingo gives them no choice but to shut it down. Alf says these are the only friends he has and he’s worried he’ll lose touch. Their efforts to keep the hall open have fallen on deaf ears and they’re hoping a bit of music might be what’s needed to grab people’s attention.

    Ah, who says they don't make protest songs any more.

    Also, maybe we've missed the reference, but is this record actually not for charity at all?

    Wednesday, April 18, 2007

    Pulp it

    Just this morning we were considering actually going out and buying a copy of the new Popworld Pulp magazine for reviewing on here. Unfortunately it appears everyone else did the same, minus the review bit - it's closed two issues in. The second Popworld magazine to do so, in fact. Go and say hello while you still can.

    Flicking through issue one last week, and it did have decent shelf space where we looked, the problem was abundantly clear - it hadn't a clue what it was. It aimed itself at the TV Hits/Sneak kids, yet led with Klaxons. The TV show has a passing interest in the alternative sector but will still lead on Lemar and think Matt Willis still matters. Pop fans won't buy it because of the established face value competition. Girls won't buy it because the design seemed to be somewhere akin to Zoo. NME readers won't buy it because it looks like something for girls. Twentysomethings won't buy it because it looks like it aims under them. Most won't buy it because of the taint of Alex Zane. There's another element as to why a basic magazine won't work, and unless you're reading this offline you're currently dialled in to it.

    We do think there's a gap in the market for a Smash Hits referencing (as Popworld Pulp tried to do very much at second hand) regular magazine that offers something of its own and lands between the 15 year olds the NME now openly aims at and the blog band-friendly Plan B types. Based loosely on the way Heat was when it launched as opposed to how it is now, as the surfeit of photos helps nobody. Oh, and not launching it as it's seen by the marketing department as an ideal multimedia cross-branding opportunity would help.

    Monday, April 16, 2007

    Weekender : overtaken by initiative

    FREE MUSIC: Chicago's The Metasciences do delicate storytelling lo-fi folk/antifolk (who really knows what the difference is any more?) with male/female variating vocals, and they're giving away the whole of their 2005 album Pencils Down. We'd recommend starting with comic-inspired Four-Color Love Story.

    HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: It almost seems too perfect, this, but after a week accidentally devoted to the likes of Kenickie we've discovered Pete 'Johnny X/J Xaverre/Meet Eric Roberts' Gofton's new project, George Washington Brown. It pretty much picks up where J Xaverre's excellent 2003 These Acid Stars album left off - quirkily anthemic home brew lo-fi symphonics, full of surprises and neat tricks, sounding simple and intricately worked at the same time, like Jonathan Donahue holding Damon Gough at gunpoint in the Shins' studio.

    VISUAL REPRESENTATION: As you'd expect from such a fervently followed singer, Kate Bush is all over YouTube. Here's three at random - the stuff of Alison Goldfrapp's dreams/nightmares enacted for Ran Tan Waltz on her celebrated 1979 Christmas special, The Wedding List at the 1982 Prince's Trust Gala Concert featuring Pete Townshend, Midge Ure Phil Collins and Gary Brooker (and nearly a costume-related surprise for all concerned) and the woman herself making a rare TV appearance on Swap Shop in 1978 and royally embarrassing the camera crew.

    VIRAL MARKETING: It feels like the build-up to new material from MIA has been going on for years, such has been the weight of hints and purposeful leaks. One such of the latter is supposed first single Bird Flu, so called because, according to Maya's Myspace blog, "THIS BEAT GON KILL EVERYONE!" It's certainly bringing the tribal drums to her avant riot-baile ahead of Kala, released in America at least on June 26th or August 21st, depending on who you believe.

    FALLING OFF A BLOG: See, the problem we have is while there are many great blogs we want to bring to your attention, very few of them ever really work to a theme so the best you can say is 'great music, great writing, inventive choices - go on, then, and we won't rest until their referrer stats URL turns up in our referrer stats'. At least Pretending Life Is Like A Song has the foresight to leaven the, well, great music with comedy and spoken word, currently including Pete & Dud, Mark Thomas and the inevitable Kurt Vonnegut.

    And while we think about it, Skatterbrain has interviewed Ali Howard of Lucky Soul, The Torture Garden having already taken care of Andrew Laidlaw.

    EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: Writer mostly on computer games and often of greatness Stuart Campbell may have got his Songs To Learn And Sing contribution in several days late (he uploaded it to his own site instead), but we still fully endorse his work. Even when he points out to us that he trumped our last Covermount effort in retrospect when he managed to get 100 songs into a CDR length compilation, Big Songs For Little Attention Spans. And not once, but twice.

    IN OTHER NEWS: So Truck sold out in three days (yes, we did, thanks), but by no means is that it for independently minded leftfield festival action. The fine people of Indie Tracks have two events coming up. On Saturday 28th April they've hired a steam train on the Midland Railway Centre, Ripley, Derbyshire and they're putting on DJs, a disco carriage and bands Pocketbooks, Slow Down Tallahassee and Tottie, at least one of whom we'll be covering in a Myspace fashion in the near future. Then on the weekend of 28th-29th July the same location is being used as transport to the site of the Indie Tracks festival, 24 bands on two stages including Bearsuit, The Orchids, The Bobby McGees, MJ Hibbett & The Validators, Persil and Rose McDowall (of Strawberry Switchblade, then associate of assorted avant-garde ne'er do wells, now solo psych-folker). £40 until the end of this month, £45 hence.

    Sunday, April 15, 2007

    In shops tomorrow: 16/4


    Plenty to go round this week, although most of the really interesting stuff is vinyl only and you'll probably already have it on download. In that case, screw you. There are some CDs holding up the fort, most notably a record that shouldn't by rights be any good at all, not least because it's the first single from a second album that "expands their sound", it's about meeting industry types backstage and very much not least because it's called Brianstorm. But, yes, there's something about this new Arctic Monkeys (for it is they) single that appeals, if only its clattering double-dipped intro that would have had the NME calling them nu-rave were they a new band. Camera Obscura seem determined to wring every last drop of Let's Get Out Of This Country dry, fourth single Tears For Affairs being no lesser for the experience, but if you don't already have the album you're missing out. A quick check for the return of Herman Dune, whose I Wish That I Could See You Soon has got him/them onto The Box, and to the delights vinyl racks. Frustrating delights, in a way, as despite our mentioning all three in past In Shops having been assured they'd be out then, the elastic release schedule means it's not until tomorrow that the 7"s from Electric Soft Parade (If That's The Case Then I Don't Know), Peter Bjorn & John (Objects Of My Affection) and The Strange Death Of Liberal England (A Day Another Day) are actually released. And you don't want to know what's happening with Friends Of The Bride. Because too much has been invested in it already we're fairly positive it's from tomorrow that you can finally pick up Thou Shalt Always Kill, only as a limited edition 7", so clearly they're not expecting much of a chart boost the natural way. Dinosaur Jr's album is getting rave reviews across the board, whether through actual achievement or relief of a return that isn't as bad as the Stooges one we can't yet say, but Been There All The Time is like Lou never went away. Apologies for coming across like a broadsheet hack stunned by the concept of teenagers making music but we've been plugging away at Cajun Dance Party for a while on the Weekly Sweep and while we remain partly unconvinced that they're not going to be one of those bands who have one spectacular single and then watch the spark fizzle away like a Roman Candle, The Next Untouchable, compared to the Kooks by fucking idiots, brings Marresque janglepop into our post-Libertines world and lets it wreak havoc. The single mix is all wrong, mind. Field Music very rarely get the mix wrong, such is the precision craft with which Tones Of Town was made. Still one of our absolute favourites of the year, and do ignore columnists going "ooh, 10cc!" at all costs. She Can Do What She Wants is its third single and supposedly the last before a hiatus on account of having used up Memphis Industries' advance, or so they told the Times and Pitchfork, although they've just announced a date supporting, of all bands, Deerhoof in June, so who knows what's going on. Joan As Police Woman's album of last year Real Life was a slow burning but not much less accomplished effort, Flushed Chest supporting a tour. We'd never clocked Monkey Swallows The Universe before but they're onto their second album, previewed by the shimmering tweecore of Little Polveir (named after a Grand National winner, topicality fans).


    We don't mind admitting we're late to Blonde Redhead, picking up on 2004's Misery Is A Butterfly and thus missing all the noisepop stuff. Whatever, 23 posits them as a superior dreampop band, smoother than the last album but still driven by MBV-esque washes, obscure half-heard lyrics and inventive twists and background instrumentation. Their most engaging work, and a triumph. It hardly needs repeating again that this is a real boom period for Anglophiliac summery Swedish pop - witness our recent support for Peter Bjorn & John, I'm From Barcelona, Suburban Kids With Biblical Names and Hello Saferide, plus a couple of new bands to us that we'll be posting tracks by over on Corporate Anthems this week. Primary among the invading fleet is I'm From Barcelona associate Emil Svanängen, better known as Loney, Dear. Newly signed to Sub Pop in the States and picked up by Regal in the UK, fourth album Loney, Noir flirts with cutesiness but always remains well within a bittersweet indiepop sensibility that owes as much to the Shins and Belle & Sebastian. Like one of our breakout favourites of 2006, Owen 'Final Fantasy' Pallett, Andrew Bird is a violin proficient, loop pedal owning multi-instrumentalist of singular chamber folk talent. Armchair Apocrypha features more guitars than usual but no fewer offbeat melodics. Ignore the point-missing Stop Me, there's much daring to like about Mark Ronson's Version. OK, maybe not Robbie Williams doing The Only One I Know, but the Motown and psychedelic baggy touches throughout often come off better than you might think, and we have a definite yen for Amy Winehouse resuscitating Valerie as Wigan Casino nothern soul. There's no mention of it on Smalltown America's website but Jetplane Landing's 2004 single There Is No Real Courage Unless There Is Real Danger is in the release listings for this week, so let's run with it. We say 'single'; in fact it features 23 tracks, comprising three proper B-sides, a student radio session and an entire live set from May 2004 recorded at the Islington Academy. At least it's stopped us going on about their forthcoming album ad infinitum. Now that the Decemberists are finally taking off every last bit of their back catalogue is receiving UK issue, culminating (we think) with 2003 EP 5 Songs, their first release in America on the small Hush Records label.


    Also in album releases this week is a whole wodge of Slade remasters from across their career, if not any of the most fondly remembered just yet. More interesting is Slade In Flame, their 1974 film satire on the music industry. Initially commissioned on the basis that it'd be a seventies A Hard Day's Night, it actually ended up more inspired by gangster movies, ending up as a kind of working man's club Spinal Tap. The same production company made Performance and Bugsy Malone, which figures. There's something likeable about Ben Folds' approach in the way he gets people onside ("his concerts are charismatic, yet calm. Folds varies on whims between many consecutive songs and fragmentation by spurts of comedic banter with the crowd" says Wikipedia), and he does have something of a committed fanbase, some of whom turn up on Ben Folds: Live At Myspace, a one-off gig to promote last year's Supersunnyspeedgraphic album rather than a gig round Tom's house. He covers the Postal Service's Such Great Heights therein, which we'd like to hear. Finally, although it's not on Amazon, some sites are reporting a debut on Region 2 this week for R Kelly's Trapped In The Closet. Spatula!


    The Phil Spector trial finally seems to be lurching into life at just about the same time that his name and methods are being invoked by a host of new artists. Timely, then, that Mick Brown has produced an extensive biography, Tearing Down The Wall Of Sound: The Rise And Fall Of Phil Spector, attempting both to put him in his position as an auteur of the decade that changed everything in pop and establish the person from the myths and legends. Brown even got to speak to Spector at the outset of writing. After the indie circuit success of The Devil And Daniel Johnston someone had to follow up with a biography just to make sense of it all, and Don Goede and Tarssa Yazdani step up to the challenge with Hi, How Are You?, chronicling his life and art through rare photos, exclusive artwork and extensive interviews. Jon Savage has long been one of our music writing heroes, as evidenced both by England's Dreaming and his writing anthology Time Travel, so his social history of youth culture Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875-1945 should be worth a look. More so, you suspect, than My Word, Terry Christian's memoirs of his time in television, which we include as a cautionary tale.

    The Weekly Sweep

  • Arcade Fire - No Cars Go [mp3 from Song By Toad]
  • Battles - Atlas [YouTube]
  • Blonde Redhead - Spring And By Summer Fall [mp3 from The Yellow Stereo]
  • Brian Eno - Backwater
  • Cajun Dance Party - The Next Untouchable [Myspace]
  • Camera Obscura - Tears For Affairs
  • The Delgados - The Arcane Model
  • Dinosaur Jr - Been There All The Time [mp3 from]
  • Feist - My Moon, My Man [YouTube]
  • Foals - Hummer [YouTube]
  • Frank Turner - The Real Damage [YouTube]
  • Jamie T - Sheila [mp3 from Watercooler Gossip]
  • Kenickie - Come Out 2Nite
  • Lucky Soul - My Brittle Heart [YouTube - can't remember offhand if this is the same as the album version]
  • The Maccabees - Precious Time [YouTube]
  • Napoleon IIIrd - This Is My Call To Arms [Myspace]
  • Remi Nicole - Fed Up [Myspace]
  • Talking Heads - Mind
  • TV On The Radio - I Was A Lover [live YouTube]
  • Wild Beasts - Through Dark Night [YouTube]
  • Saturday, April 14, 2007

    While we're in the realm of the essence of Laverne...

    We think it was Ian Pointer (see Songs To Learn And Sing passim) who dredged this up originally, but we're happy to bring it to a wider audience. In grainy MOV, from the best thing Lauren ever did on the telly, her six month stint in 1999 on Channel 4's Planet Pop:

    Lauren's Lingo - Purists

    On Lauren's final observation*, bear in mind that this was immediately followed by a feature on Westlife.

    * Which turned out to be genuine, by the way. Whatever did happen to Chicks? Elvis Costello was a fan, remarkably


    Yeah, we know. Even by our standards we've been tardy since Tuesday, waiting for inspiration to strike. Have some embeds to back up the last post while we wait further.

    Tuesday, April 10, 2007

    This is pop?

    Reading various accounts of Bis' New Transistor Heroes ten year anniversary reunion gigs at the weekend made us think of our own apprenticeship in the ranks of what they so pleasingly call schmindie. (And proud, us.) See, we were in our A-level years when Bis broke through and to us they formed part of something that went on away from the very heart of the mainstream to just a few nationally notable bands, something that only emerges every so often. We were experiencing a wave of indie cult bands.

    This might take some explaining. There are cult bands and there are cult bands. The technical explanation is that these are bands with the most die-hard fans, ever keen to spread the message and form a community. Oasis fans were and are like this, and that spirit is continued now in the Kasabian/Fratellis/View lineage, but you'd be doing well to file any of them as 'cult'. Similarly you have the fervent metallers, but while this is definitely a cult these are clearly not adjacent to that much maligned but in this case most appropriate word, 'indie'. And they have to be British. That's important. Of course there are cult foreign bands (the Calvin Johnson junta and Riot Grrrl are perfectly good American examples) but their cult doesn't work in the same way. They seem strange anyway, coming in with their fancy accents and their weird noises. The British cult concerns have that veneer of DIY attitude, spawning lookalikes, fanzines and a Venn diagram of fandom where the middle section is determined as much by the trappings around the music as the limited edition vinyl EPs.

    No, the indie cult band is one that grows from the ground up, tours relentlessly and picks up a sub-genre of the existing alternative music scenester. Pre-Bill Grundy punk is the most obvious example, followed by 1979 punk/post-punk crossover, the tape traders of 1981, the C86 twee badge kids, the Richey Manics followers. In 1997, as David McNamee's excellent memorial piece for last month's Plan B helped lay out, it happened with the weeklies only able to scratch the surface of what was going on. It was a blizzard of glitter and amateurishly applied makeup, something for the 15 to 20 year olds to cling on to while everyone else got lost in the Britpop/Dadrock forest. There were three bands at the molten cultish core: Bis, Kenickie and Belle & Sebastian. They were the first people to attempt to reclaim the word 'pop' milliseconds after it was commandeered by Simon Fuller on a ten year lease, but the pop mainstream saw them as outsiders with their funny ways.

    "It just seems so unconnected; the way The Smiths used to make me feel, the unconquerable way I used to feel about them, and the everyday nuts and bolts of the job I have now. It’s like I went through the beautiful waterfall only to find a rather musty cave lying behind, not a promised land of dreams. There would be nothing I would hope for more if our music made someone feel like I felt about The Smiths. I just can’t feel it myself." - Stuart Murdoch, Poptones website

    Even among these, Belle & Sebastian were outsiders - this was when they didn't appear in their own promotional pictures, their liner notes were short stories, their very presence a cipher. The Sinister mailing list at the time was the hub of cult member activity, at one stage attempting to make a list of where all 1500 copies of the original pressing of Tigermilk went. Tigermilk! Now you can buy it for a tenner on Amazon and own it by the end of the week, but from 1996 to 1999 it was only spoken about in hushed tones, vague memories of the first time The State I Am In touched you when Mark Radcliffe played it and introduced it as the work of a duo tutored by the Associates' Alan Rankine. Even when Dog On Wheels was given Radio 1 breakfast play by the same man during early 1997, the band apparently making the journey down to Manchester just to hand it over, it seemed like a transmission from an alien world where popularity was a nice idea but purposefully unobtainable sounding like this. It was music as a novella-sized mirror of youthful frailness, and it's no wonder that since Belle & Sebastian left Jeepster and started doing proper interviews and having top twenty singles they've not nearly been the same.

    "People always say, 'Oh Kenickie, the bargain bins, why were they never successful?' - no one fucking says that about Mogwai or Arab Strap. We were only judged that way because we were girls. We had a Top Ten album, all our singles went in the charts, we recouped - but it was like, 'You're girls, you're like the Honeyz, you've got to be Number Three.' And if you're girls you're 'pop!' That's what you enter into." - Lauren Laverne, The Face

    Kenickie were different. The press of the time depicted them as good time minxes, like Debbie Harry meets Courtney Love on a Russ Meyer set. They were, of course, far too smart for the association - Lauren Laverne gave up one of five offered Oxbridge places studying medieval history to follow the glam dream. Labelled indie resolutes, Punka was about lo-fi's purposefully lowered ambitions, a kissoff to Slampt Records, who put out the legendary Catsuit City EP, as they disappeared EMI-wards. Effortlessly funny in interviews and onstage, producing branded makeup bags and compact cases, lathered in eyeshadow and facial glitter, they were the connectable, smart girls on the pull. At The Club, which also hits ten years old this year, was far cleverer than most gave it credit for. Yes, there were songs about going out, but there was also the clinical self-deprecation and heavy duty melancholy and elements of positive desperation. We were right there at the time, on the Kenickie Fried Chicken message board and the unofficial mailing list (and how that concept has been devalued in these readily available Internet and Myspace blog days - members of the band would post every so often to the message board and we'd never seen such interaction. We'll tell you the story of us, Lauren and Chris Addison one day) They meant something to people around our age, and to those people there's part of their heart that will forever be theirs. We just cough and look away during Transmission.

    And Bis! They divided opinion like nobody's business. The music press only just stopped short of guerilla warfare while the Teen-C brigade constructed altars and followed them everywhere. Teen-C was their own tag for what they did and what their followers believed in, based on Riot Grrrl credentials that you too could do this - form a band, write a fanzine, draw an anime-inspired cartoon, buy a hairclip and Hello Kitty merchandise. The scuzzy guitars melded with cutesy lyrics and image acted as a signpost that this is where the youth are. Teen-C didn't take off bar two or three other bands, most notably the never especially loved but Radio 1 playlisted Dweeb, but much of it was 1995-97 fanzine culture writ large. If nothing else there were no teenagers in notable bands while Bis were about, whereas now you're almost doing well to find a new hyped band that are older than 21. Amanda McKinnon - oh, alright, Manda Rin - turned thirty two weeks ago. Manda Rin. Thirty. It doesn't compute.

    It was the singularity of the scene that appealed at its core. These were the early days of the Internet, where 28.8kbps was the best you could expect, and thus these were arguably the last set of savvy teenage indie kids who had to take it where they could find it. Although these three bands were pop stars in their own peculiar universes they would never, or at least not in that form, become actual pop stars, not given the high concept glamour and immediacy of the proper pop mainstream. The fanzine movement was at its height for the first time since the post-Sniffin' Glue explosion. John Peel moved back to weeknights for his best slot in ages while Steve Lamacq acted as the avatar for this stuff. Behind the big three there was a melange of bands who had fervent, if smaller, fanbases - Symposium, Urusei Yatsura, Helen Love, Quickspace, Marine Research (anything connected with Heavenly did well). Ash and Placebo started out as huge cults before connecting with the increasingly available mainstream; Angelica and Chicks were a couple of years too late. White Town's Your Woman was a de facto cult indie number one single, if elastic logic allows.

    More durable logic insists that you just couldn't have the same thing today. The music world is much smaller and more wide-ranging and arguably experimental, more music is available than ever before, from heavily rooted back catalogues to bedroom four track demos on Myspace. And yet... there's definitely something stirring in the indie cult scene. The Research, Misty's Big Adventure, Los Campesinos!, the Hot Puppies, My Latest Novel, Lucky Soul, Bearsuit, Help She Can't Swim, the Priscillas, Ciccone, Kaito, Tender Trap (ah, Amelia)... all with necessarily limited outlooks, all with a white hot kernel of diehard fanbase, all able to trace some sort of lineage to the previous movements outlined above. And again, there's three bands at the peak of the modern cult era. The Long Blondes have had an impact that clearly outstrips their album sales, having had a trail of be-neckerchiefed girls following them well before the NME started giving them trinkets, endlessly quotable lyrically and low-maintenance Rimmel-glamorous visually. Art Brut are the 1979 Television Personalities manque, sporting charisma to burn and a singular, smart take on pop culture mores, plus in an odd plot twist US notoreity that gets them onto late night talk shows and decent festival bills while dismissed as a hipster joke in their home country. And then there's the three girls plus deliberately elusive bloke(s) at the back, smart in interviews and great between songs onstage, drawing heavily on past influences but still parked in today, proclaiming themselves pop even as they remain rooted in the alt sphere, rewarded with a young, female-heavy dressalike fanbase and a substantial internet support presence that belies both record sales and the fact there seems absolutely no middle ground with them... when did you last see the Pipettes and Kenickie in the same room? (Indeed, a lot of the people we know from the Kenickie Fried Chicken days are big Pips fans) As in 1996-97, while a lazy new 'indie' orthodoxy is settling in at the top of the charts, the most exciting things are happening in places that want to be mainstream but dynamically could never be, looking to subtly change things nevertheless through the door potentially opened by those elders and lessers.

    According to reports, the majority of the Bis audience at the weekend were 25 at most. Who knew that the band that recorded Icky Poo Air Raid could be at the foundation of something so teenager empowering?

    Monday, April 09, 2007

    Weekender : a backflipping pirate

    FREE MUSIC: No messing about this week, just an 80kbps version of one of the greatest songs ever to come from the American indie underground - Neutral Milk Hotel, Holland 1945.

    HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: Were you aware of Bikini Atoll? They released two albums on Bella Union, one recorded by Steve Albini, of darkly brooding circular guitar swarms. Frontman Joe Gideon and his sister Viva (a former Olympic rhythmic gymnast, which really is one to remember for future reference) are now Joe Gideon & The Shark, currently supporting the Archie Bronson Outfit in Europe, along some of the same lines. Put it down as Pavement taking on Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen in Sonic Youth's studio.

    VISUAL REPRESENTATION: Despite what Russell Brand's acolytes would have you believe, comedy and rock'n'roll have long shared an attitude. Well, comedy and bedsitter quasi-goth alternative, at any rate. Rob Newman, when he was with David Baddiel as opposed to his current political novelist status, developed a thing on the TV version of The Mary Whitehouse Experience for reimagining Robert Smith of the Cure: once, twice, again, that one on the Wembley-straddling Newman & Baddiel tour. Eventually he ended up doing a not totally convincing atypical turn on Newman & Baddiel In Pieces, forming a dream partnership with Mariella Frostrup and Garth Crooks. Presumably there were no hard feelings as Newman, and Sean Hughes, later guested in the video to The 13th. And while we're covering the Cure, here's A Forest just for the hell of it.

    VIRAL MARKETING: Mark Ronson's not as bad as feared from Stop Me - there's glowing praise - covers album Versions is out on the 16th, and being of the modern idiom he's been talked into a video podcast, here and here.

    FALLING OFF A BLOG: We've just realised we've never properly inducted funfunfun into the blog list even though we've been reading it for a while now. Their last post was about STN favourite Kat Flint, the one before that about Jetplane Landing (see Weekender passim), with Bright Eyes, The Wave Pictures and Tilly And The Wall before those.

    EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: From Matthew Perpetua of the ever useful Fluxblog comes Pop Songs 07, a sprawling attempt to put pretty much every REM song into context and explanatory prose. We're waiting to see what he makes of Up's Hope.

    IN OTHER NEWS: Second call for More Songs To Learn And Sing, our project for the first twenty days of June in which people who didn't get a go the first time around are invited to pitch for a slot telling us about the song everyone must hear. We said last week we'd contact some regular correspondents/confidantes off-blog. We forgot. We will this month, though.

    Sunday, April 08, 2007

    In shops tomorrow: 9/4 (bank holiday permitting)


    We have a longstanding and if not totally complete then certainly getting towards that way antipathy towards re-recordings of previous singles. They hardly ever improve on the original and they're more often than not just an excuse to rile the completists and make a new video that's not as good as the original. See under: Klaxons' Gravity's Rainbow, now with less affable scrappiness, bloopy inserts where unbroken riffage used to be (we see, you're rave influenced, yeah?) and a hiding of that speeding up trick near the end. All bands please note, there's a reason why the phrase "it's not as immediate as the demos" is in increasing use. In fact, everyone's going the commercial route this week that can afford to, Bloc Party with the Snow Patrol-if-they-were-still-influenced-by-Lou Barlow I Still Remember, Patrick Wolf with the title track from The Magic Position. The marketing of this has been very odd, appearances on T4, Popworld and most notoriously The Charlotte Church Show ("what is it??? i thought patrick is talented like david bowie but not Prince and Charlotte is awfull...((( reminds Evrouvision song contest in bad sense") being presented without explanation of who this red-topped gypsy beanpole actually is and what he should mean to the pop kids, this single not exactly colonising radio in its spare time. We appreciate he's said this is where he's wanted to be all along (and he's remixed the new Mika single, remembering to make mincemeat of it along the way), but something's still not quite right. Of course, the pop firmament isn't for everyone. Mark E Smith would scare the Charlotte Church audience, for instance - Reformation crawls out from the latest album. And there's no way 65daysofstatic could ever make a proper crossover, which is fair enough when moments of delicate glitch like Don't Go Down To Sorrow are around. The Shins are a top ten album band now but always likely to be more critically revered than socially so, Australia heralding a tour. The 7" only section welcomes Peter Bjorn & John giving free rein to Objects Of My Affection, one of the highlights of a slow building wonderful album in Writer's Block.


    While it's not like we've been wanting over the last eighteen months or so for new music inspired by 60s soul and girl group sounds (stop calling it doo-wop, journalists, it isn't), or indeed as we've mentioned on many occasions bands that owe a stylistic debt to St Etienne's retro-modernist heights, the eventual arrival this week of Lucky Soul's debut album is a beacon in itself for joyous Motown/Memphis/Spector/Shirelles majestic soul-pop. The Great Unwanted simply takes the promise of their four singles and runs with it to new heights. They really are fulfilling the promise of becoming one of those rare bands to treasure and take to your heart, air-punchingly wondrous and heartrending in equal measure, both revelling in the highs and seeing through the melancholic lows while asserting their outsider status from Cool Lists and the like. But then the NME will never 'get' this, not with this many caution to the wind hooks, melodies and daydream melodramas, led by Ali Howard's exquisite voice. How they've got this full sound from a home brewed operation - it's on their own Ruffa Lane records - is beyond us, but that's the possibilities of modern music for you. As British Summer Time kicks in and we enjoy the first proper decent spell of weather of the year, this is the album that could make your summer. In terms of artist albums it's singular Americana wherever you look elsewhere, from Conor Oberst's lapse back into philosophically politicised, alt-countrified Dylanologist, reviewer long word spouting territory, featuring M Ward, Gillian Welch and Sleater-Kinney/Quasi/Malkmus skinbeater Janet Weiss, on Bright Eyes' Cassadaga; the latest confusing outpourings from the Casady sisters' faux-naive scratchy folk-hip hop minds on CocoRosie's The Adventures of Ghosthorse And Stillborn; and Bill Callahan no longer trading as Smog but still on the path of baritone part-confessional blues-folk gospel on Woke On A Whaleheart, an album which provides Klaxons' only serious contender so far for the title of worst cover art of 2007. Dance To The Radio are making a habit of occasional round tables of exciting new acts, this one titled Something I Learned Today and featuring Sky Larkin, I Was A Cub Scout, This Et Al, Black Wire, Laura Groves, Foreign Born, :( and Read Yellow, who have marked the occasion by splitting up. On the reissue front the entire Sly & The Family Stone back catalogue has been cleaned, expanded and stuck back out, five albums of paranoid political party frazzled acid casualty psychedelic soul funk in total, the two that changed things being Stand! - Everyday People, I Want To Take You Higher, Woodstock set - and There's A Riot Goin' On - Family Affair, drug haze paranoia, no amount of remastering able to improve the murky sound resulting from Stone's continual overdubbing and track wiping. The Pop Group could be frazzled politicised dub sonic engineers too, although in a very different Bristolian wiry post-punk area, Y their 1979 debut. Okkervil River's last album, only released in mid-2005, has been out in so many forms in Britain it's getting ridiculous, but this one is apparently Black Sheep Boy (Definitive Edition) including EP tracks and the mini-album Appendix filler, so that's alright then. It's still a superb example of the new American underground wordiness and well worth tracking down should you be of the Decemberists/Sparklehorse/Mountain Goats/old Modest Mouse persuasion.

    The Weekly Sweep

  • Arcade Fire - Black Mirror [mp3 from KEXP Blog]
  • Arctic Monkeys - Brianstorm [YouTube]
  • Battles - Atlas [YouTube]
  • Cajun Dance Party - The Next Untouchable [Myspace]
  • Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip - Thou Shalt Always Kill [YouTube] (311,000 or so YouTube hits for the two versions of the video when we checked last night. That'll be a Web 2.0 hit, then)
  • Electric Soft Parade - If That's The Case Then I Don't Know [YouTube]
  • Feist - My Moon, My Man [YouTube]
  • Field Music - She Can Do What She Wants [YouTube]
  • Foals - Hummer [YouTube]
  • The Flaming Stars - Ten Feet Tall [YouTube]
  • Franz Ferdinand - Jacqueline [live YouTube]
  • The Hussy's - Tiger [Myspace]
  • Jetplane Landing - Lungs Of Punk [Myspace]
  • Loney, Dear - The City, The Airport [mp3]
  • Love Ends Disaster! - Ladders [Myspace]
  • Lucky Soul - My Brittle Heart [YouTube]
  • Mark Ronson feat. Amy Winehouse - Valerie [mp3 from PopTart]
  • Maximo Park - Books From Boxes [Myspace]
  • Modest Mouse - Dashboard [YouTube]
  • The Rapture - Pieces Of The People We Love [YouTube]
  • Saturday, April 07, 2007

    Well, you think of something, then

    Although if you want a reprise of those festival preview pieces we did last year we've knocked one up for The Art Of Noise. Same title as last year's, too. We might as well tell you now we've got tickets for Summer Sundae (natch) and End Of The Road and are down for priority on Truck, and if anyone's got a day pass for either weekend day of Green Man or the Sunday of Latitude going spare that'd be welcomed too.

    Just one other quick thing - everyone knows a good charity shop for music except us? A couple of weeks ago Jamie off the famed Runout Groove was going on about finding a load of rare punk 7"s in one too. Apart from a Tom McRae album for £1.99 a week after release we don't think we've ever found anything of proper interest in one. Tell us about what's stopped you in your tracks amid the second hand gear.

    Tuesday, April 03, 2007

    Sweeping The Nation Covermount 7: This Won't Last Long

    Alright, we lied about it being up tomorrow.

    So another Covermount rolls round, and again we go through the spiel about Sendspace and how the download link is near the bottom and will be up for as long as you're downloading it. OK? Right. Again we put the poll feelers out, and two thirds of our representative sample wanted a compilation of songs that don't make the 120 second barrier. We outdid ourselves on the compiling, though, so here's two of them, again fit for CDR burning should you so desire. We've tried to cover a lot of bases and genres, although inevitably it's still chock full of our usual obsessions and biases. They're not playlisted this time because there's 49 tracks on each one (fifty would have been too professional) and, well, you try ordering all those. Leave your thoughts, link to it yourselves and all that.

    This Won't Last Long 1
    This Won't Last Long 2

    Average song length: 1:30

    Be Your Own Pet - Let's Get Sandy (Big Problem) [Be Your Own Pet]
    bIG fLAME - New Way (Quick Wash And Brush Up With Liberation Theology) [Rigour]
    Bikini Kill - Alien She [Pussy Whipped]
    Blur - We've Got A File On You [Think Tank]
    Brakes - Cheney [Give Blood]
    Buddy Holly - Rave On [The Best Of Buddy Holly]
    Buzzcocks - Love You More [Singles Going Steady]
    Eddie Cochran - C'mon Everybody [The Best Of Eddie Cochran]
    Elastica - Annie [Elastica]
    Elvis Costello and the Attractions - The Imposter [Get Happy]
    Fugazi - Greed [Repeater]
    Gorillaz - Punk [Gorillaz]
    Guided By Voices - To Remake The Young Flyer [Under The Bushes Under The Stars]
    Helen Love - We Love You [Radio Hits Vol.2]
    His Name Is Alive - Mescalina [Home Is In Your Head]
    Idlewild - Last Night I Missed All The Fireworks [Captain]
    Ivor Cutler - I'm Happy [Ludo]
    Kenickie - Come Out 2Nite [At The Club]
    Liam Lynch - United States Of Whatever [Fake Songs]
    Los Campesinos! - It Started With A Mixx
    Madness - Benny Bullfrog [7]
    McLusky - Gareth Brown Says [McLusky Do Dallas]
    Midget - Wendyhouse [Alco-Pop]
    Minor Threat - Straight Edge [Complete Discography]
    Pixies - Broken Face [Surfer Rosa]
    PJ Harvey - Snake [Rid Of Me]
    Queens Of The Stone Age - Quick And To The Pointless [Rated R]
    Ramones - Judy Is A Punk [The Ramones]
    Rocket From The Crypt - Middle [Scream Dracula Scream]
    Sleater-Kinney - The Professional [All Hands On The Bad One]
    Spoon - You Gotta Feel It [Kill The Moonlight]
    Super Furry Animals - God! Show Me Magic [Fuzzy Logic]
    Swell Maps - Read About Seymour [Train Out Of It]
    The Clash - What's My Name [The Clash]
    The Fall - Industrial Estate [Live At The Witch Trials]
    The Futureheads - Park Inn (From the Nul Book Standard EP, when Field Music's Peter Brewis was still their drummer)
    The Jesus And Mary Chain - Taste Of Cindy [Psychocandy]
    The Minutemen - Theatre Is The Life of You [Double Nickels On The Dime]
    The Pooh Sticks - I Know Someone Who Knows Someone Who Knows Alan McGee Quite Well [Various Artists - Rough Trade Shops Indiepop Vol. 1]
    The Rakes - 22 Grand Job [Capture/Release]
    The Shop Assistants - All Day Long [Will Anything Happen]
    The Slits - Shoplifting [Cut]
    The Undertones - Here Comes The Summer [The Undertones]
    The Vaselines - Molly's Lips [Way Of The Vaselines]
    The Vines - Highly Evolved [Highly Evolved]
    The Von Bondies - Tell Me What You See (Goodmanson Version) [Pawn Shoppe Heart]
    The Wedding Present - Getting Nowhere Fast [George Best]
    Wire - Field Day For The Sundays [Pink Flag]
    Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Man [Fever To Tell]

    Average song length: 1:29

    And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Up From Redemption [Madonna]
    Art Brut & Friends - Top Of The Pops [Rip Off Your Labels: More Angular Product] (An Angular Recordings spectacular in which ver Brut rework their famed anthem in the company of the Long Blondes, Ciccone, the Violets, The Boyfriends, The Swear and assorted others)
    Ballboy - I Lost You, But I Found Country Music [A Guide For The Daylight Hours]
    Belle And Sebastian - I Don't Want To Play Football [Storytelling]
    Billy Bragg - Lovers Town Revisited [Life's A Riot With Spy Vs Spy]
    Clinic - C.Q. [Internal Wrangler]
    Coldplay - Parachutes [Parachutes]
    Divine Comedy - My Lovely Horse ("We have to lose that sax solo!" Neil eventually relented to public opinion and put it on the B-side of Gin Soaked Boy)
    Dusty Springfield - Stay Awhile [Hits Collection]
    Elbow - Puncture Repair [Leaders Of The Free World]
    Elvis Presley - Surrender [Elv1s: 30 #1 Hits]
    Emmy The Great - Big Water
    Final Fantasy - -> [He Poos Clouds]
    Half Man Half Biscuit - Vatican Broadside [Editor's Recommendation]
    Husker Du - Never Talking To You Again [Zen Arcade]
    Jerry Lee Lewis - Matchbox [The Essential Jerry Lee Lewis]
    Joao Gilberto - Samba De Una Nota So [Desafinado]
    Johnny Cash - The Wall [At Folsom Prison]
    Laura Nyro - I Met Him On A Sunday [Gonna Take A Miracle]
    Loudon Wainwright III - The Birthday Present [The BBC Sessions]
    Low - Dark [The Curtain Hits The Cast]
    Mission of Burma - This Is Not A Photograph [Signals Calls And Marches]
    Napalm Death - You Suffer [Scum] (But of course!)
    Neutral Milk Hotel - Communist Daughter [In The Aeroplane Over The Sea]
    Nick Drake - Harvest Breed [Pink Moon]
    Pavement - Zürich Is Stained [Slanted And Enchanted]
    Primal Scream - Velocity Girl [Various Artists - CD86]
    Syd Barrett - Golden Hair [The Madcap Laughs]
    The Beach Boys - Meant For You [Friends]
    The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - Cool Britannia [Gorilla]
    The Box Tops - The Letter [Soul Deep: The Best Of The Box Tops]
    The Boy Least Likely To - Warm Panda Cola [The Best Party Ever]
    The Castaways - Liar, Liar [Various Artists - Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968]
    The Go! Team - Feelgood By Numbers [Thunder Lightning Strike]
    The Jam - All Mod Cons [All Mod Cons]
    The La's - Feelin' [The La's]
    The Magnetic Fields - Absolutely Cuckoo [69 Love Songs]
    The Mountain Goats - Dance Music [The Sunset Tree]
    The Rolling Stones - Not Fade Away [Forty Licks]
    The Shangri-Las - Hate To Say I Told You So [Greatest Hits]
    The Shirelles - Look-A-Here Baby [The Best Of The Shirelles]
    The Small Faces - What'cha Gonnna Do About It [Ultimate Collection]
    The Smiths - Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want [Hatful Of Hollow]
    The Stone Roses - Elizabeth My Dear [The Stone Roses]
    The White Stripes - You're Pretty Good Looking [De Stijl]
    They Might Be Giants - Particle Man [Flood]
    Tim Hardin - Misty Roses [Hang On To A Dream: The Verve Recordings]
    Tom Waits - Frank's Wild Years [Swordfishtrombones]
    Young Marble Giants - Final Day [Colossal Youth]