Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Weekly Sweep

  • The Bookhouse Boys - Dead [Myspace]
  • Dananananaykroyd - The Greater Than Symbol And The Hash [Myspace]
  • Elbow - One Day Like This [YouTube]
  • Gemma Hayes - Home [Myspace]
  • Gossamer Albatross - Elizabeth Queen Of The Sea [Myspace] (This the first uploaded track from recent sessions with Hugo from Jonquil. No bad can come of this.)
  • The Helmholtz Resonators - Lala [Myspace]
  • Jeremy Warmsley - The Boat Song [YouTube]
  • Johnny Foreigner - Sometimes, In The Bullring
  • Jonquil - Lions [Myspace]
  • Laura Marling - Cross Your Fingers/Crawled Out Of The Sea [YouTube]
  • Mystery Jets - Two Doors Down [YouTube]
  • Okkervil River - A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene [Myspace]
  • Operator Please - Just A Song About Ping Pong [YouTube]
  • Port O'Brien - I Woke Up Today [Myspace]
  • Restlesslist - Butlin Breaks [Myspace]
  • The School - Let It Slip [Myspace]
  • Sunset Cinema Club - Hardcore [Myspace]
  • Those Dancing Days - Run Run [YouTube] (The great thing about this new video is that it follows Hitten, which must have been filmed a good year ago, and yet it looks like it could have been knocked off the same afternoon)
  • The Week That Was - [Myspace]
  • Young Knives - Turn Tail [YouTube]
  • Friday, May 30, 2008

    Just out of interest

    Does anyone reading this fancy blogging about the forthcoming European Championships? (Er, in football/soccer, maybe we should qualify) Two years ago we organised a World Cup group blog and we're going to do the same again from a week today (well, hopefully the blog will be up and running before then, but you know what we mean) but we need assistance. If you're up for adding pithy, knowledgeable comments for three weeks email dressingroom{at) over this weekend, replacing with a @ where necessary.

    Thursday, May 29, 2008

    Forward thinking

    Time to see what forthcoming music's come in recently, we think.

    Glasgow's Q Without U claim on their press release that we have received their songs as "you either play/put out records by, book shows for, say nice things about or manage bands that we love. Either that or you are in the possession of a really great haircut". Let's call it misdirected mail. They quote the Super Furries as an influence and it's not hard to imagine them being Scottish cousins to those SFA moments when warped power-pop is given a thorough going over. Their album, Shut Up! I Invented You, will be available to buy or download from their Myspace account from Monday.

    Q Without U - Licking Batteries

    Aptly named So So Modern are from Wellington, New Zealand, so already exotic. Their first UK release, The Collected Works: Friends And Fires + 0000EP's, is as it suggests a compilation of two mini-albums, and even by the standards of albums compiled from two seperate releases it's all over the place, sometimes direct shouty nu-rave, sometimes krautrock workouts filtered through Foals, sometimes Deerhoof down the No Wave disco. Quality control is similarly scattered across the graph, but we commend to the house this.

    So So Modern - Contracts

    And finally A Classic Education, the Bologna based band whose glorious string-laden mini-epics showed up on our radar just in time for featuring in our Class Of '08 Covermount. In just under a year and a half of operation they've already played with Arcade Fire, Modest Mouse and Lightspeed Champion and worked with Jeremy Warmsley and Fanfaro. They're now self-releasing a 12" EP rounding up everything made available to date, the cunningly titled First EP, limited to 300 copies available to order through their website and released on June 6th. They're coming back over to play Indietracks festival, which we'd put down as yet another reason for a weekend out at the Midland Railway Centre.

    A Classic Education - Victories At Night

    Wednesday, May 28, 2008

    Monday, May 26, 2008

    The Muxtape Challenge update

    After the previously mentioned Muxtape backup crash it's probably best to repost all the details so far so we all know where we are, as well as maybe encouraging more people to plug the remaining gaps. If you're late to this, we're compiling a twelve track Muxtape for the last forty years inclusive, each by a different person, and this is how it's going so far.

    Completed years:
    1968 (23 Daves)
    1969 (Chris Brown)
    1971 (Jez)
    1972 (Raki
    1973 (douchebag)
    1976 (Ben)
    1977 (poptimusgrime)
    1978 (James)
    1979 (Koen Fillet)
    1982 (Dave)
    1983 (Daniel Saunders)
    1984 (Jamie Summers)
    1986 (Mike)
    1988 (Jim Waterson)
    1989 (Mark}
    1990 (Matt Gaynor)
    1992 (us)
    1994 (JohnM)
    1995 (David Pott-Negrine)
    1998 (Matt Sullivan)
    1999 (Tom Alvarez)
    2000 (Ben Hall)
    2001 (lemonbrickcombo)
    2004 (Adas)
    2005 (yes_)
    2006 (Tom Whyman)
    2007 (TheWildSon)

    Years deleted in the crash:
    1993 (Dan)
    1997 (James)
    2002 (Paulo)
    (The linked pages are where the compilers have listed their choices, if anyone else wants to put them back together for us. The rest of the people listed will have to get in touch to let us know whether they want to reconstruct their Muxtapes or hand them off to others)

    Years reserved:
    (No, we're not naming and shaming. Yet.)

    Years still available:

    Sunday, May 25, 2008

    Weekender : thinks it stood behind Linda from Prolapse at a gig the other night

    WHAT CD?
    - We don't often lead on a reissue but back out this week, apparently just because Try Harder records had run out of stock, is Jonquil's glorious Lions, one of the most widely underrated albums of the last year. If you missed our countdown of the best albums of 2007, we placed it a possibly too low sixteenth and wrote it up thus. If you missed our countdown and are too bone idle to find out how to open a link in a new browser, it's an English pastoral psych-folk record which aims straight past daytime radio's clutches, a heartwarmingly expansive touch from a gloriously solitary figure in the Oxfordshire countryside, full of sonic detail and adventurousness (the opening track sounds like an Akron/Family sea shanty) topped by Hugo Manuel's bravura croon. Some, including Foals, are tipping them for big things, and while it may not sell a lot plenty need to become acquainted with it. And those people may get the chance as they're heading right across the country throughout June, are 'doing' Latitude and have already got the follow-up EP ready in the wings. It's their time alright.

    - Reviewing Johnny Flynn at End Of The Road last year we labelled him a star of "the British nu-folk scene, as some arse will eventually christen it so it might as well be us". And whaddaya know, the NME has started in the last couple of months to refer to this whole Marlingised phalanx as the British nu-folk scene. Arses. Anyway, Flynn stands well aside of most of his contemporaries and indeed virtually all of current British music's CV - attended Bedales and Winchester College, hung around the anti-folkers of New York, was a member of the all-male touring Shakespearian acting collective Propeller under whose auspices he acted at the Old Vic and afterwards dragged Kevin Spacey to a gig, and Jerome Flynn is his half-brother. With the exception of housewife's choice versions of Unchained Melody all this kind of informs A Larum, a record in which characters from all walks of life find their voices, stop off around the world and take on a heady mix of Alan Lomax blues, traditional and otherwise English folk, hoedowns, ragas and sea shanties - Flynn has mentioned in an interview taking inspiration from how Fairport Convention heard The Band's Music From Big Pink and realised they could do the same for British folk traditions, lyrics at once intentionally dated and somehow contemporary. The Sussex Wit are still around, by the way, but their name seems to have dropped back off joint billing.

    - It's easy to forget that News And Tributes, now a routine pinata on which to hang everything around the Futureheads from 679 departure to current 'embarrassing the record industry' call to arms, reached number 12, one place lower than the self-titled debut, and is by no means a bad album. A little uncertain at times, sure, but it works through ideas and hangs together in a way that would embarrass many a more lauded album. Now on their own Nul Records, conversely they're enjoying the biggest fruits in terms of press and radio in their history since leaving the major label. No, This Is Not The World is no hark back to the glorious debut album, if anything more one-paced and stinting on the barbershop harmonies so as to come across like a 1979 new wave band with an understandable right cob on throughout. They're still committed and energetic, though, and that's what forces its way through the morass once more.

    - While we're talking melodically inclined fast paced indie stalwarts, The Wedding Present have gone down in the annals of rock's wider world as a meat and potatoes style band, singing love songs over jangly guitars. There's an element of truth in there. Of course there is. The Beatles, by the same reasoning, were a fun little band of jovial Scousers with their two and a half minute songs about liking girls. The Weddoes crashed into Peel playlists and 12" racks with warp speed jangles and David Gedge not getting the girl 23 years ago now, during which time they were recorded by Steve Albini, covered Pavement, went Balkan and had big theories about singles when all of these were deeply unfashionable or just unknown. They're back with Albini for the first time since 1991's Seamonsters for album eight El Rey. Gedge calls it his Californian album, perhaps with tongue deeply embedded in cheek, but some of the old vituperativeness is there, although as with the Cinerama time-out Gedge can still do restrained when he wants. He's still got it.

    - Stroud-via-Brighton's Drift Collective is a little psych-folk colony we've got a lot of time for, especially if they keep pulling things out of the hat like Matt Eaton's Finish Your Chips. Great title, if nothing else. According to the label Eaton "holds a special place in British music, not only as a songwriter, but also as manager, tour manager, session guitarist, runner of venues and booker", which doesn't sound that special to us considering. He's marginally better known as leader of long serving Brighton power poppers Actress Hands but here devolves into West Coast-ish acoustic country folk, the sort of thing that restores Americana's good name. Johny Lamb and Sally Megee of Drift's foremost members Thirty Pounds Of Bone pop by, as does Rose Elinor Dougall of being blogged about the other day fame, but this is very much his melancholy worldview at work. Have a listen for yourselves with the ungrammatical Everyone’s Got To Fallen Into Line.

    - They used to call bands like Slow Down Tallahassee pure pop, before the marketing people got their hands on the words. They say: "Thunder and gasoline. An explosion of harmony and handclaps at times, sparse and elegant at others." We say: classic post-C86 bubblegum indie - fizzing guitars fill one half of the spectrum, analogue synths the other, and up front two female singers harmonise on what seem to be featherbeds of vocals but lyrically go a much darker place full of panic, direct appeals and heavy foreboding. The Beautiful Light wouldn't be half as good as it is without.

    - You'll have no money for singles after that lot, but regardless they keep coming out: Vampire Weekend's Oxford Comma, Foals' Red Socks Pugie and the Long Blondes' Guilt were dealt with at album time. Conversely Blue Hands, the second Hot Puppies album first previewed late last summer, is slowly attaining a very miniscule type of mythical status. Following months of label issues Becky Newman has recently announced her pregnancy, expecting on Hallowe'en, and with Somewhere only on a single deal with Bristol club-based label Purr (home of the celebrated Panther Girls) we wouldn't put a pre-order in yet.

    COMING SOON: There was a story in the local press this week that the Liberty of Norton Folgate, a 19th century independent borough status for the North London area that now links Bishopsgate and Shoreditch, may never have actually been rescinded. By no doubt sheer coincidence, North Londoners Madness release an album tenatively scheduled on June 30th called The Liberty Of Norton Folgate. Funny, that. It's said to be in the Kinks/music hall/reminiscence style of their Rise & Fall album, a semi-concept album telling "a tale of a city born in blood, mud and immigrant, which grew through adventure, betrayal and treason – fought to breathe the dirt, muck and scum of survival – raged through the pains of passion – threw thee before greed and bankruptcy of emotion and thought, struggled for freedom, rights and the welfare of all, danced, skanked and bogled for the cause of man and woman’s need to be – and express happiness – we give you the working man’s mozart – a bright shining virus of joy therapy for the masses and a belter of a good night." Mmm. The title track bears that out anyway. They're introducing the album with two dates at the Hackney Empire on 24th and 25th June.

    MYSPACE INVADERS: We really think we've got out of our system our insistence on promoting bands on the basis Los Campesinos! like them. No, now it's promoting bands Johnny Foreigner like. Study their current press photos and note that upon Kelly's upper body is the merchandise of Brummie compatriots Sunset Cinema Club. Yes, JoFo's noise and confusion is a good pointer - and why, here's the gents and lady covering SCC - but file these under melodic post-hardcore, sharing the stop-start tautness of Fugazi, the fat-free funk fuckups of the Minutemen and the funk-punk of Jetplane Landing's Backlash Cop album of last year (you remember it, we went on about it enough). EP available through mail order now, album in autumn, apparently. Seeing Hot Club De Paris over the next couple of weeks? Get there early. Especially if it's one of the dates where the previously featured Copy Haho are also supporting.

    VISUAL AID: Adam Buxton has recently uploaded an overliteral fan video for Spoon's Don't Make Me A Target, intended for a BBC3 pilot. Buxton is a huge fan of the band and last year filmed Britt Daniel performing Black Like Me solo, but others do Spoon, we're here to dig out Adam & Joe clips. Course, back in the Channel 4 days putting clips to their own songs was second nature, but how harder it is to get something out of actual pop stars, especially when taking it upon themselves to enter their property and rifle through their records in the name of Vinyl Justice, whether the recipient be as intriguing as Gary Numan or as potentially violent as Mark E Smith. Another victim was "king of shouting" Frank Black, who seemed to like what he got himself into so much he invited the pair to direct the video for little remembered 1998 single Dog Gone, starring Nigel Buxton AKA BaaadDad. That itself followed Gorky's Zygotic Mynci's Sweet Johnny (Chart Show clip!) in the style of the Toymovies. More recently Buxton got involved with Radiohead's Thumbs Down webcast, our favourite bit being the somehow still on YouTube Se7en reworking. And when he wasn't doing that, he was fronting sketches about NWA for easily forgotten BBC3 pilots. Why was that last bit written in the plural?

    * If you've been keeping an eye on the south-east's ska-punk-pop supremos SixNationState's online doings recently you might have seen a lot of videos popping up over the last couple of months. The sum total of such work is a video album, available from their official site as of tomorrow, a series of low budget band-directed clips for every track on last year's self-titled debut album

    * Never ones to do things the straightforward way, folk-stadium rock satirists the Indelicates have put a load of bonus material online relating to their American Demo album, chiefly an alternative version of New Art For The People featuring Eddie Argos and a load of other people, an album commentary track, a cover of Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty's country song title email circular favourite You're The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly, alternate versions, remixes and "a MOST HAUNTED INDELICATES SPECIAL with Simon as DEREK ACORAH and Julia as YVETTE FIELDING" which is so low budget they've not even bothered with wigs and costumes. The instructions are on their website. Go the long way round. We dare you.

    * Seems a while since we heard much from Leeds power trio Sky Larkin; in fact last week they flew out to Seattle to record their album with John Goodmanson, whose CV includes two Sleater-Kinney albums, Bikini Kill, Blonde Redhead and The Blood Brothers. So, pretty much safe hands for a band with their ambitions. As is the way of modern communications, they're documenting their time away on Flickr. Not many of the band so far, though.

    * You're right, this last bit wasn't here before, but just up over at Keep Hope Inside we've helped it celebrate its second birthday by writing about Hold On Now, Youngster...

    Saturday, May 24, 2008

    The Weekly Sweep

  • Bon Iver - Skinny Love [Myspace]
  • Dananananaykroyd - The Greater Than Symbol And The Hash [Myspace]
  • Elbow - One Day Like This [YouTube]
  • The Futureheads - This Is Not The World
  • Jeremy Warmsley - The Boat Song [YouTube]
  • Johnny Flynn - Tickle Me Pink [YouTube]
  • Johnny Foreigner - Cranes And Cranes And Cranes And Cranes [mp3 from funfunfun]
  • Kaputt - Family Tree [YouTube]
  • Laura Marling - Cross Your Fingers/Crawled Out Of The Sea [YouTube]
  • The Mai 68s - Froth On The Daydream [Myspace] (We've never featured these on STN before, but one support set two days ago and they've bypassed Weekender Myspace hell straight into the Sweep. They sound like the murky side of C86, have a shit-hot bassist and a stand-up drummer with a two-piece kit, and like all the bands that matter they've playing Indietracks.)
  • Matt Eaton - Everyone's Got To Falling Into Line [Myspace]
  • Napoleon IIIrd - The Strong Nuclear Force [Myspace] (And now he sounds like Prince! Well, as much as Napoleon IIIrd can sound like Prince, s'pose. It's appearing on a mini-album called Hideki Yukawa, out on trusty Brainlove, er, soon.)
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - More News From Nowhere [YouTube]
  • Okkervil River - A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene [Myspace]
  • Restlesslist - Butlin Breaks [Myspace]
  • The School - Let It Slip [Myspace]
  • Slow Down Tallahassee - The Beautiful Light [free mp3]
  • Vampire Weekend - Oxford Comma [live acoustic YouTube]
  • The Wedding Present - The Thing I Like Best About Him Is His Girlfriend [Myspace]
  • Young Knives - Turn Tail [YouTube]
  • Friday, May 23, 2008

    Muxtape Challenge - urgent message

    Muxtape arsed up their backlogs after a software crash and so a number of entries have been deleted. The years affected are:

    1969 (Chris Brown)
    1971 (Jez)
    1977 (poptimusgrime)
    1979 (Koen Fillet)
    1986 (Mike)
    1988 (Jim Waterson)
    1990 (Matthew Gaynor)
    1993 (-dan-)
    1997 (James)
    2000 (Ben Hall)
    2002 (Paulo)
    2004 (Adas)

    Not making your mind up

    Isn't it time the whole Eurovision thing was put to bed? Not necessarily the contest, although the Wogan-promoted idea of an Eastern Europe block vote is extraordinarily tiresome especially since it was found the top five would have been the same had the eastern bloc voting been taken out. Just this whole idea of Eurovision parties and people genuinely analysing the songs, the sort of thing that was the preserve of final stories on regional news bulletins when we were growing up, where the And Finally reporter would gently mock someone who collected the records while making jokes about Sandie Shaw's feet and Bucks Fizz's dresses. Now we're all supposed to be like it. The irony has come full circle and now nobody's sure whether we should mean it or not. Eurovision is the only event left that the mass media tell us is cool, or rather (oh god) "so uncool it's cool", and everyone believes it.

    We think part of it is because of the British attitude to the ongoing contest. We're told only Britain doesn't take it seriously, yet Andy Abraham's song is just about the tritest and most Route One commercially attuned there. And Wogan's no fun any more since he spent two thirds of the show moaning. We'd suggest you went out, except there's parties in pubs now. In five years' time imagining that Bosnia's entry is reflective of their entire music scene even though nobody would claim the same for the UK will be enforced by law, you mark our words.

    Thursday, May 22, 2008

    Rose bloom

    We like a good side project, and checking back we seem to particularly enjoy those connected with bands on the Memphis Industries label. Following our recent promotion for School Of Language (David from Field Music), The Week That Was (Peter from Field Music), Kaputt (Silke ex-Go! Team), Wet Paint (three of Absentee) and George Washington Brown (who recorded for MI as J Xaverre), not to mention Andy 'Blue States' Dragazis' production sidelines, comes a Pipettes spinoff to file alongside those by Gwenno and Monster Bobby. Matt and Ollie from the label need to work their charges harder if they're just going to go off and do other stuff besides.

    Actually, it's not technically a side project at all. Rose Elinor Dougall is the fully named solo side of the young woman you'll know as Rosay Pipette, or at least would have known as that until about a month ago when she left. Known during her band tenure to have been a closet folkie, and possibly alone even on Myspace for citing influence from both Julie London and Spank Rock*, she's responsible for what on the basis of one track is after-hours electronic lo-fi of a type so far stripped down due to bedroom recording materials necessity. No idea what she's planning to do with it beyond "I'm hoping to get some more fully formed material together in the not too distant future", but we'll keep 'em peeled.

    (* To be honest we've just checked this and it's not true, but the other likeminded soul is a piano jazz singer so doesn't count in our cloistered world)

    Monday, May 19, 2008

    It's not laziness

    We're working on a hush-hush side project, which all being well we should be able to unveil by the end of the month.

    In the meantime, there's still nine years available and nine pending in our Muxtape Challenge, so get on with it.

    Sunday, May 18, 2008

    Weekender : we can dye our hair and you can call us Tracy Tracy

    WHAT CD?
    - A couple of big weeks are approaching, but when we looked at this week's schedule we found little of real note. New Sparks album, Scarlett Johanssen's thing with David Sitek and some Tom Waits songs that aren't Sixteen Shells In A Thirty-Ought-Six - damn you! - the Ting Tingssssss... El Perro Del Mar might be worth a shot, 2006's self-titled dark Spectorisms a slow burning triumph, From The Valley To The Stars widening to take in a Brian Wilson Smile kaleidoscope and reflects the title's melancholy wonderment.

    - There's nothing more disappointingly disconcerting than a hype band who have everything except hype. If you've read anything about Johnny Foreigner it's that everyone's talking about them (they aren't), they're creating an enormous nationwide stir (we counted eighteen people when we last saw them, and that included the support acts and their famed driver Lea - Alexei tried to take a register mid-set) and they're bound for the very top, because god knows there's nothing Heart FM love more than songs about rubbish nightclubs in Birmingham set to the sound of Tim Kinsella throwing Gareth Campesinos! at a wall at a Urusei Yatsura barbeque. The outcome is it might mean you've already decided you want nothing to do with them. For our part we've been as pumped up about them as anyone, and we apologise, but some people on the Internet adoring them is not the same as every media outlet suggesting you do likewise. Remember that. On the other hand, if they keep producing singles like Eyes Wide Terrified we're going to keep salivating and reddening in the face over their glorious images.

    - More on them when their album comes out in two weeks' time, inevitably. Two artists have singles out one week ahead of new LPs, and while the Futureheads rally against the tyranny of major label commercial expectations by, um, releasing their most commercial single to date (Hounds Of Love inclusive), Radio Heart, more interesting is Johnny Flynn's Tickle Me Pink. This appeared on our Class Of '07 covermount in demo form when it was an understated, violin-led gem; now, with the Sussex Wit on board, it's a banjo-fronted fully committed quasi-hoedown. Actually, we reckon both versions are as good as each other now. Young Knives do the decent thing and put Turn Tail out, while Feist finds the other single-worthy indie-soul nugget on The Reminder and releases I Feel It All on download only. Also out tomorrow: My Year In Lists! At last. Come on, LC!, you're never going to take over the world with this sort of flexible release schedule.

    - Now the only live music show on television not sponsored by a hair care company, and we refuse to count Sound before anyone says because it keeps going on about sixteen year olds going to gigs as if it's a new development in life, Later With Jools Holland sticks out The First Fifteen Years. On this volume are more delights than you'd imagine, as long as they haven't been on one of the previous Jools DVDs: the celebrated audience confusing Scott Walker performance of Rosary, John Cale taking back Hallelujah, Love with Arthur Lee doing Alone Again Or, Radiohead, Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello, REM, Blur, Beck, Arcade Fire, Battles, Nick Cave,, Al Green, LCD Soundsystem, Kirsty Maccoll, The Who, the Flaming Lips, PJ Harvey, Martha Wainwright, Warren Zevon, Massive Attack, the Foo Fighters, Feist solo with a proper brass section...

    COMING SOON: Slow Down Tallahassee are one of those bands who could earn themselves a mighty cult following no matter how much radio and press coverage they did. Doubtless they already have in their native Sheffield, and doubtless those people will lap up The Beautiful Light, out on the 26th. They're a dual female vocalist outfit who cite Henry Darger and early Madonna as equal influences and make pure lo-fi harmony indiepop wondrousness with ageing synths and a drum machine. Let's say the Breeders reworking Dolly Mixture, save a bit for next week's proper preview and instead serve up tracks offered by their label as an aperitif, single manque The Beautiful Light and piano-led Limbs.

    The fine people putting this out, by the by, are Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation, longtime supporters of the local underground scene who put out a couple of Long Blondes singles way back when. Also on their books are The Bon Bon Club, a vox, bass and drum-only covers band apparently made up of Sushi Quatro, Thirsty Moore and Chapatti Smith, and if you're looking at their photo and thinking "but that's just Reenie and Screech out of the aforementioned Long Blondes and Claire from Navvy and moreover Slow Down Tallahassee, who this bit is supposed to be about!", then we're impressed that you recognised the latter.

    MYSPACE INVADERS: London based Anglo-German outfit Kaputt were formed by one-time Go! Teamer Silke Steidinger. That band like the odd Sonic Youth noise moment and so do these, although it's the streamlined moments of their early major label days that it's most reminiscent of, given a Peter Hook bassline, the records Interpol had by the studio CD player when they were making Turn On The Bright Lights and working knowledge of Electrelane-style femme-cool motorik. They'll get well under your skin.

    VISUAL AID: Look at the tableau at the start of this German telly clip. A probably self-consciously 'wacky' gentleman, some curious greenery on the table, the general air of a mid-afternoon talk-in. When the female presenter introduces some music, you half expect Donny Osmond or some sub-Parkinson nu-jazz. No. It's McLusky, doing She Will Only Bring You Happiness. To make them seem even more out of place, watch the onscreen DOG's scrolling display of musical guests on some other forthcoming show, including Avril Lavigne and a couple of German popettes. They've amused the girl on the left at 4:19, in any case, perhaps because unlike her disinterested mate she's aware of what they're singing at the end. It's questionable how much Andy Falkous actually wants the host to take their photo afterwards too, although bear in mind we now know the unwitting irony of the question posed by her at 4:35. Regular readers will know McLusky's other great TV appearance and b3ta fans will know their Joel Veitch history, but here's a thing. Falco has always sought to divorce Future Of The Left from McLusky to an extent, but apparently because the latter never toured Australia, when FOTL went there in March he made it up to them. They've come up with a workable method of finising a set too.

    * Apparently we have featured the Black Cab Sessions before, which we'd expect as the first two people to be stuffed in the back of a cab driven round London and told to play for the bloke in the front with the digicam were Johnny Flynn and Emmy The Great, but we can't find it now. Don't worry, though, they've got on fine without us, the scope and depth in no way fully represented by a list of Okkervil River, the Futureheads, Spoon, Noah And The Whale plus Laura Marling, Daniel Johnston, Jeffrey Lewis, Death Cab For Cutie, The National, Bill Callahan, Lightspeed Champion, Scout Niblett, the New Pornographers, Seasick Steve, the Raveonettes, Lykke Li and the Felice Brothers. And the Kooks. Doesn't say how they slipped through.

    Saturday, May 17, 2008

    The Weekly Sweep

  • Dananananaykroyd - The Greater Than Symbol And The Hash [Myspace]
  • Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Possess Your Heart [YouTube]
  • Foals - Red Socks Pugie [YouTube]
  • George Washington Brown - A Guess Rewind [Myspace] (As well as involvement in Peter Brewis' new outfit The Week That Was Pete Gofton is working towards a new EP, from which two tracks are up. After that, it says here, an album that's "most likely going to be uptempo dance pop". Crivens.)
  • Jeremy Warmsley - The Boat Song [YouTube]
  • Johnny Flynn - Tickle Me Pink [YouTube]
  • Johnny Foreigner - Eyes Wide Terrified [YouTube] (And next week we start listing tracks from the album. That process could last some time.)
  • Laura Marling - Cross Your Fingers/Crawled Out Of The Sea [Myspace video]
  • Los Campesinos! - My Year In Lists [YouTube]
  • Mystery Jets - Two Doors Down [YouTube]
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - More News From Nowhere [live YouTube]
  • No Age - Cappo [mp3 from Pop Tarts Suck Toasted]
  • Okkervil River - A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene [Myspace]
  • The Research - I Would Like To Be Forgiven [Myspace] (Unsurprisingly dropped by EMI at the start of the year, although their relationship seems to be fractious enough as it was, trying to record album two at the end of 2006 and still not getting to complete it now. Anyway, they're self-releasing a second album soon and have put some demos up. Gary Jarman of the Cribs is on this somewhere.)
  • Restlesslist - Butlin Breaks [Myspace]
  • UltCult - Tickitaboo [Myspace]
  • Vampire Weekend - Oxford Comma [live acoustic YouTube]
  • The Wave Pictures - Instant Coffee Baby (Regular readers will know that we like music criticism one-liners that make absolutely no sense, and this year will surely not see a more baffling comparison tha "The Wave Pictures come across like a particularly dull, second-rate version of The Enemy")
  • The Wedding Present - The Thing I Like Best About Him Is His Girlfriend [Myspace]
  • Young Knives - Turn Tail [YouTube]
  • Thursday, May 15, 2008

    Sweeping The Nation Covermount 12: This Sporting Life

    There's a big summer of sport coming up, what with the Olympics and European Championships alongside all the usual summer sport hoopla, as well as in two days' time the most unlikely of FA Cup finals and in thirteen days' time the most inevitable of Champions League finals. Time, then to dust off a long pencilled in Covermount on songs to do with the many and varied methods and angles of sport. We gave ourselves a strict rule - the songs have to be about or reference sport, but they can't be by sportspeople, which we have to point out because we fear hundreds of people posting "ahhhh! Snooker Loopy!" in the comment box or suggesting Dreadlock Holiday. Yes. It mentions cricket. Well spotted. We think we've done well enough in avoiding a lot of the obvious and hackneyed, although ultimately you'll be the judges of that.

    This Sporting Life

    The Hold Steady - Take Me Out To The Ball Game
    A Tin Pan Alley staple written a full hundred years ago and commonly held to be the third most often played song in the US after The Star Spangled Banner and Happy Birthday. Craig Finn adapted a second verse for play at his local team the Minnesota Twins from last year onwards.

    Warren Zevon - Hit Somebody (The Hockey Song)
    Americana songwriter's Americanasongwriter Zevon had a habit of morbidity well before being diagnosed with terminal cancer; from 2000's Life'll Kill Ya, a darkly ending song about an ice hockey enforcer. Longtime Zevon fan David Letterman does the chorus spoken bit.

    Therapy? - Joey
    Five time world motorcycling champion Joey Dunlop, once voted the fifth greatest motorcycling icon in history, was killed in a race crash in 2000. A year later Andy Cairns penned this tribute to him on the album Shameless.

    The Hitchers - Strachan
    Fellow Irishmen the Hitchers' singer was called Niall Quinn, which is a good start. Their 1997 football-as-art squally tribute, from It's All Fun And Games 'Til Someone Loses An Eye, apparently led Gordon to see them live at Reading Festival and send an appreciatory note.

    Half Man Half Biscuit - Friday Night And The Gates Are Low
    Were we just going on references we could have had our choice from about a hundred HMHB songs, but as far as we can think only this, from Some Call It Godcore, is the only song directly about football in their mighty canon. Bob Wilson Anchorman is about the person Bob Wilson, see.

    I, Ludicrous - The Highland League
    Similarly the Crystal Palace-associated long serving duo have their fair share of football references. This is from February's Dirty Washing EP and, as they so rarely say on Wikipedia, features original research.

    Oh, yeah, The Referee's Alphabet. As you were.

    The Long Blondes - Darts
    Some will hear this B-side to the original Giddy Stratospheres release and admire its quasi-shambling charm, others will suggest this is why Kate leaves most of the lyrics to Dorian. Still others will note that the LBs do tend to appear on Covermounts more than most bands.

    The Pogues - Bottle Of Smoke
    Found on nearly high water mark If I Should Fall From Grace With God. Shane MacGowan puts a shitload (unspecified) of money on the titular horse which comes in at "twenty-fucking-five to one". Outcome is pleasing for all.

    Jackie Leven - Museum Of Childhood
    In a more general treatise on reminiscence on 2005's Elegy For Johnny Cash album Scottish folk singer and former Doll By Doll singer Leven alights on the events of November 25th 1980 in the Louisiana Superdome, Sugar Ray Leonard v Roberto Duran II, the "no mas" fight, a phrase nobody has decisively said they heard Duran say but which has passed into pop culture regardless.

    Loudon Wainwright III - Tonya's Twirls
    Around the turn of the decade Loudon, taking time out from writing about his family, was employed by NPR to pen the occasional topically slanted song, in much the same way he did for Carrott Confidential, all later collected on Social Studies. Here he tackles the Tonya Harding supported attack on Nancy Kerrigan.

    The Mountain Goats - Fall Of The Star High School Running Back
    From the last great Mountain Goats lo-fi record, 2002's All Hail West Texas (track 2, in fact, track 1 having been on the last Covermount - limited scope, us?), John Darnielle's college gridiron peer blows out his knee and heads downwards from there.

    Billy Bragg - God's Footballer
    Subject Peter Knowles was a free scoring striker for Wolves who was heavily touted as a future England regular before suddenly retiring in 1969 ages 23 after experiencing religious revelations and becoming a Jehovah's Witness. Bragg tells his story on Don't Try This At Home.

    The Pioneers - Long Shot Kick De Bucket
    In 1967 the rocksteady vocal trio had a Jamaican number one with Long Shot, a tribute to their favourite racehorse and an underperforming race. Two years later the horse was killed in an accident at Caymanas Park racetrack, leading to a necessary follow-up and an unlikely for the subject big international hit. Let Your Yeah Be Yeah: Anthology 1966-1986 has both on, as well as pretty much everything else.

    Lord Beginner - Victory Test Match
    More reportage. Egbert Moore, along with his more famous calypso mate Lord Kitchener, was in the stands at Lords when the West Indies beat England for the first time in 1950. Having led musical celebrations from the ground to Piccadilly that night, he went home and wrote it up.

    Johnny Wakelin - Black Superman (Muhammad Ali)
    And now, white reggae. Wakelin was a Brighton cabaret artist drawn to record about Ali in 1974. The follow-up In Zaire was about the Rumble In The Jungle. When he started recording about other people and things, his career faltered. A salutory lesson.

    Erlend Oye - The Athlete
    Between Kings Of Convenience and The Whitest Boy Alive Oye made an eclectic retro-electro solo album, Unrest, here teaming up and partly adopting the language of French electro duo Minizza.

    Barcelona - Kasey Keller
    In 1998 the US beat Brazil 1-0 largely thanks to the former Millwall, Leicester and Spurs keeper making a series of great saves. Now defunct Washington new wave pop outfit Barcelona document events, adding "we don't blame you for that fiasco in France in '98". That's a relief.

    Kraftwerk - Tour de France
    Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider are famously cycling obsessives, Karl Bartos once claiming their constant talk about their bikes rather than their music was the reason he left. Utilising the synthesised sounds of chains, gear changes and breaths, it's been remixed and re-recorded several times, but we'd be here all day if we got into that.

    Saint Etienne - Conchita Martinez
    Spain's most successful female tennis player ever, Wimbledon title winner in 1994 and once number two in the world. The song doesn't really have any further connection with the person, but never mind. Found on So Tough.

    Von Sudenfed - Slow Down Ronnie
    As with HMHB the Fall's back catalogue has touched upon football (Kicker Conspiracy, Final Score's Theme From Sparta FC, Ray Stubbs banter) but as we're being mildly perverse we've gone for Mark E and Mouse On Mars' collaborative effort (not actually on Tromatic Reflexxions, by the by) on the subject of Ronnie O'Sullivan. You'd fancy yourself against Smith at pool for a tenner, wouldn't you?

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Let the games begin

    We don't usually trail Covermounts like this, but this Thursday ahead of the FA Cup final we'll be bringing you a collection of songs about sport. Got that? No suggestions, it's all ready to go, but, only online until Friday, we're sharing a few Covermount near misses, left out whether because they were too general:

    The Decemberists - The Sporting Life

    Sportique - Sport For All (Olympic 2000 version)

    Because we have to acknowledge not everyone is overly keen on the beautiful games:

    The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - Sport (The Odd Boy)

    Because we weren't sure whether chess counts as a sport per se:

    iLiKETRAiNS - A Rook House for Bobby

    Because we don't want to just make a mockery of such a serious business, although you don't hear this often - Rory Bremner catalogues the England cricket team's West Indian collapse of 1984 on the theme of (and secretly produced by) Paul Hardcastle:

    The Commentators - N-N-N-Nineteen Not Out

    And because we didn't want to include songs by sportspeople, but some just demand to get a word in:

    Cassius Clay - I Am The Greatest!

    Sunday, May 11, 2008

    Weekender : thinking it'll never last

    WHAT CD?
    - As much as we like to believe otherwise, the way to get ahead if you're a hip thrusting new American band is if you have a backstory, whether through origin, taste or anecdote. If there weren't documentary evidence you'd be tempted to wonder about the details that come with Bon Iver, reciting how he, by which we mean Justin Vernon, recorded For Emma, Forever Ago with a minimum of equipment while spending three months finding himself in a log cabin in Wisconsin mid-winter living off the land. While there's something of the sub-zero woodland about its atmosphere, its spectral sound, Vernon's falsetto not unlike Tunde Adebimpe of TV On The Radio's, and insertion of soul in the genuine sense puts it in the folk Americana lineage exhibited by the likes of Iron & Wine. It's not Jose Gonzalez, essentially, and is well worth a listen, if completely inappropriate for this heatwave.

    - A quiet week all round, really. Mark Lanegan's keeping himself busy, the last two years seeing releases by his own Band, his Greg Dulli teamup The Gutter Twins and the Mercury-nominated Isobel Campbell duets of Ballad Of The Broken Seas. That's now followed up by Sunday At Devil Dirt, a more grittily countrified take on the Lee'n'Nancy redux diagnostic. Death Cab For Cutie, no longer bound to the OC demographic, use sixth album Narrow Stairs to stretch their wings, venturing into motorik and ambient areas while still mostly allowing Ben Gibbard to retain their yen for collegiate empathy. It'll be a grower. Hayman Watkins Trout And Lee (actually Hayman, Watkins, Mayfield and Tattersall) are Darren Hayman's kitchen bluegrass project, and although all four - Dave Tattersall fronts the Wave Pictures, Dan Mayfield and Dave Watkins are in Hayman's Secondary Modern - write it's still Hayman's Londonite bedroom melodramas that come to the lyrical fore in their new musical surroundings.

    - Better late than never - and by the way, regarding that recent and spectacularly hesitant podcast, where exactly is Aleks' speaking accent planted? - Los Campesinos!, who've just announced they're headlining Indietracks (woo!), have another concept single for us. The lead track of the 7" is the 109 second jerky charge of My Year In Lists. As they (alright, probably Gareth) explain: "It's a celebration of brevity and transience in pop music: all the best pop songs are short, or short-lived. As are most pop bands' careers. Probably ours too. Damn this ever-hungry web 2.0 generation... Never mind, no-one really wants to waste time with longevity and patience; this is for those of short attention span that won't sit still." So the B-sides are three covers that together add up to roughly 1:49 - Deerhoof's The Eyebright Bugler, Casiotone For The Painfully Alone's Yr Boyfriend and, as previously touched upon on these very pages, Bikini Kill's In Accordance To Natural Law. If you feel its quality needs further elucidation, welcome to your first visit to this blog. Also out this week, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds almost literally halve the album version of More News From Nowhere, and Lightspeed Champion's Galaxy Of The Lost, for which see last week.

    COMING SOON: With their quicker than most turnover of material, if only for compilations, it's easy to overlook that July's Chemical Chords is Stereolab's first proper album in four years. Three Women sees Gane, Sadier etc. continue to rejig the sunshine synths and awry chords fitting in with the groove they settled into around the turn of the decade.

    MYSPACE INVADERS: Yeah, we're late to Eux Autres, who released their second album late last year. So sue us. This is the next in our occasional series STN Reccomends Bands So Shambling That They'd Make Simon Reynolds Eat His Own Head, a brother/sister duo originally from Omaha, now of Portland, who've been recorded by Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney, Quasi, now sidewoman to Bright Eyes and Stephen Malkmus) and occasionally sing their lovelorn barbs in French. Anyone who holds the Vaselines or early Delgados to their hearts should be here, and you can tell they've worked carefully through the Elephant 6 back catalogue too. Also: handclaps.

    VISUAL AID: Actual history this week. The performance is fairly remark worthy as it is, being long forgotten post-Sam & Dave duo Buddy & Stacey performing the even less well known Shotgun on the Nashville WLAC-TV Channel 5 show Night Train in 1965. But get past the frontmen's all-action effort and and the great syncopated swaying of the backing band, and notice its guitarist on the left, swooping with the best of them. That'll be the then pick-up man for hire Jimi Hendrix, this the oldest known film footage of him.

    * We like a "Personal Pop Odyssey" as much as the next man, so we fully recommend Young And Foolish by Alistair Fitchett, which is subtitled as such. Issued in 1998, it's a collection of fanzine articles and extended essays on the pop that shaped his formative years and how it and the people making it manage it, taking in a path from the Blue Aeroplanes and Felt via club culture and The Cult Of Richey to Belle & Sebastian (including an appendix purely for documenting posts to Sinister) and Arab Strap. The best detail is to celebrate its tenth anniversary Fitchett has stuck the whole thing on his blog as a downloadable PDF.

    * Those My Bloody Valentine dates are getting ever closer with still no idea of how they'll approach it or even what they look like these days. This archive at least gives those going something to weigh it up against, being an archive of live and Peel recordings.

    * We delved into film a couple of weeks ago with an overdubbed pubescent Johnny Flynn, and now we do so again with semi-surreal Brazilian short film Handmade. "The film TELLS a STORY of love, using symbols and images to translate abstract feelings" (capitalisation synopsis writer's own), and it also TELLS how good Lovefoxxx, for it is she as female lead and half the cast, is at multitasking.

    Saturday, May 10, 2008

    The Weekly Sweep

  • A Place To Bury Strangers - To Fix The Gash In Your Head [Myspace] (It's the Bauhaus of feedback pop! Pretty insistent; also, pretty eardrum piercing)
  • Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Possess Your Heart [YouTube]
  • Elvis Costello and the Imposters - Stella Hurt [mp3 from The World Of Wingrove] (So no, it's not the new This Year's Model some hyperventilating US reviewers - no British reviews online as far we can tell, oddly - reckon it is, but, and we're aware that given some of what this period covers it sounds like damning with faint praise, it's in the top three or so since the last genuinely brilliant Costello album, 1986's Blood And Chocolate. Improves in the second half, by and large.)
  • Florence & The Machine - Kiss With A Fist [Myspace]
  • Foals - Red Socks Pugie [YouTube]
  • The Futureheads - Radio Heart [YouTube]
  • Jeremy Warmsley - The Boat Song [YouTube]
  • Johnny Flynn - Tickle Me Pink [YouTube] (We've covered the whole acting sideline before, but discovering he really is half-brother of Jerome Flynn is mildly alarming, actually)
  • Johnny Foreigner - Eyes Wide Terrified [YouTube]
  • Laura Marling - Cross Your Fingers/Crawled Out Of The Sea [Myspace video]
  • Lightspeed Champion - Galaxy Of The Lost [YouTube]
  • Los Campesinos! - My Year In Lists [YouTube]
  • Mystery Jets - Two Doors Down [YouTube]
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - More News From Nowhere [live YouTube]
  • Okkervil River - A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene [Myspace]
  • Picture Books In Winter - Hyphens And Commas [Myspace] (Fresh from participating in the flatter-fest on our Myspace comments they've put some new songs up)
  • Restlesslist - Butlin Breaks [Myspace] (We know we seem borderline obsessed with the White brothers' workloads, but we have to get this straight in our own head. Thomas' Restlesslist have this out soon, followed next month by their album. His own solo album is out in July, preceded by a tour with Chris T-T. Alex meanwhile seems to have become the Pipettes' drummer, if the references to him and the lack of references to their actual known drummer in their latest Myspace blog are anything to go by. What a weird way that band are conducting their business in now. Anyway, from about July onwards Brakes are playing a few festivals, and Electric Soft Parade are planning an autumn EP release ahead of recording their next album. Alex might still be with Actress Hands too, we're not totally sure. We'll definitely do the interconnected Brighton scene diagram one day.)
  • The Strange Death of Liberal England - Angelou [Myspace video]
  • The Wave Pictures - Friday Night In Loughborough (And neatly it's followed by...)
  • Young Knives - Turn Tail [YouTube] (Why make two videos for the same single? How confident are you in getting your advance back?)
  • Thursday, May 08, 2008

    Why things were far better in the mid-90s

    God knows what the source of this is, but it's Tom Cullinan of Th' Faith Healers and later Quickspace posing a question to assorted minor mid-90s indie faces. Nigel Blackwell's in there, as are half of Heavenly, Peel-admired sci-fi surf types Man... Or Astroman? and the thinking pale boy's pin-up Linda Steelyard of Prolapse.

    We'll have to write Prolapse up properly one day as they made a glorious racket, but for now Steelyard was also lead actress in Chez Lester, a five minute soap opera of sorts that ran on local community station Cable 7 between 1994 and 1996 and featured assorted local personnel. This episode simultaneously explains everything and nothing about the venture.

    Wednesday, May 07, 2008

    Books > Music > Rock & Pop > Curmudgeon

    No sooner has Renegade landed then news appears of a book by... Luke Haines! Not until next year, unfortunately, but... a book! By Luke Haines!

    Sunday, May 04, 2008

    Weekender : still not quite believing the Macy Gray booking

    WHAT CD?
    - We love Elvis Costello, as we've said often in the past. He has a new album out this week, Momofuku, with The Imposters (the Attractions with a different bassist, you may recall) which features Jenny Lewis on harmony vocals and co-writes with Rosanne Cash and Loretta Lynn, and is rumoured to be a return to his guilt and revenge angry guitar man days that's still the recommended first port of call for the Costello newbie with the latterly requisite soul and country influences. Thing is, we can't tell you any more than that because it's initially being released on vinyl only and without a leak to crib from every review we've seen consequently spends paragraph after paragraph talking about its inability to be transferred onto iPod and having to get up to turn the record over, with a sentence that reads "it's great, it's a bit like My Aim Is True" in the middle if you're lucky. We know this album's has been marketed to an extent to take advantage of the element of mystery and surprise, but we didn't think it'd be like this.

    - There is, as you'll doubtless be aware as regular Weekender readers *cough*, a corner of a domestic field that will forever be lo-fi. There's just not the money or commitment for studio sheen, but they always say it's the chances and mistakes that don't get ProToolsed out that make a record. The Wave Pictures recorded Instant Coffee Baby (and not Instant Coffee Morning as Amazon thinks) in the basement of the Duke Of Uke music shop on Hanbury Road, East London, and it's got twice the heart and soul of the vast majority of other British bands. You know already where they're coming from, Dave Tattersall bearing a certain Darren Hayman (an occasional onstage colleague) quality to his vocal stylings and the band often making like an electrified Herman Dune (yes, them too) with an occasional flashy solo and a lyrical intrigue that matches up to a British take on, say, the Mountain Goats' John Darnielle (oh, this is getting silly now), the overall feeling being a hats off to Jonathan Richman (not yet, but give it time) from some people born in Wymeswold, near Loughborough - there's a song called Friday Night In Loughborough that's more specific about its location than the Young Knives' Loughborough Suicide - latterly based in Cardiff for a bit and now residing under the yoke of Johnson. People will fall headlong for this band, and we aren't planning to stop them.

    - But even this is a record we'd been anticipating as a great step forward from when we came across their limited release last album Sophie. How great the power of music still to surprise this jaded amateur hack, though. See, if we were to make a list of British bands caught up in music press bandwagons of a couple of years ago who we'd never expect to see again Duels would have figured fairly highly, very much New Yorkshire types caught up in the post-Kaisers wave with a yen for glampop, critically acclaimed by quite a few but never catching on round here. If we were to make a list of bands least likely to make a second album full of dark brooding stratospheres they might have figured somewhere too. And yet The Barbarians Move In is that sinister a record, somewhere close but not too close to Matt Bellamy bombast at times and fairly in thrall to Nick Cave's dark ages but still knowing its way around a dramatic melody, a deployment of a modish choral vocal and a sky-reaching guitar figure. They're now not going to be the next big thing and more and they know it, and even if an illness has metaphorically pervaded their homes such euphoric starkness on the road to Valhalla suits them to a T.

    - Leeds-based Bad Sneakers records are getting a decent reputation at the moment, giving us Wild Beasts and The Lodger, but their ace in the pack may well be The Rosie Taylor Project, whose eight track mini-album This City Draws Maps arrives just in time for the warming up process of the year. Wistful without being twee, intricate and delicately played without being too folky, these songs uplift like an introvert staying out for the summer. Both well accomplished and massively promising.

    - Singles. Fresh from turning up on stupid fashionista blog Face Hunter, which we only mention because they clearly don't know who he is and it's reassuring to know he always wears that Davy Crockett hat, Lightspeed Champion throws out Galaxy Of The Lost again; now The OC's over Death Cab For Cutie are justified in completely wrongfooting the kids with an eight minute part-motorik unrequited paen which Ben Gibbard doesn't appear on for half its length in I Will Possess Your Heart; Fighting With Wire kick a hole right through ten years of Foo Fighters ennui and drag out the entrails with the huge sounding Everyone Needs A Nemesis; and Noah And The Whale consolidate their advance with Shape Of My Heart.

    COMING SOON: What do you want from news of a commercially released Les Savy Fav show? Visuals, obviously. You want to be able to sit a safe distance away at home and watch Tim Harrington in a cape, riding boots, briefs and facepaint molest everyone within reach while hanging off the balcony. That'd be great, wouldn't it? Unfortunately After The Balls Drop is CD only, recorded at a 3am show at New York's Bowery Ballroom on New Year's Eve/Day just gone. In mitigation it does feature covers of Pixies, Nirvana, Misfits, Love and Creedence Clearwater Revival and the rest is still LSF songs like The Sweat Descends. It came out last week in America, no word of a UK release as far as we know.

    MYSPACE INVADERS: Vengeful alt-countryites Absentee return next month with a new EP, the press release for which has to state that they haven't actually split up. Well, clearly they haven't, they've got a new EP out, but the reason for the doubt is a number of side projects emerging of late from their members. The most notable are Wet Paint, featuring that band's guitarist, bassist and keyboard player plus one of psychedelic surf outfit Economy Wolf. They have connections too, their first single featuring a Lightspeed Champion B-side on the cover and recent work commenced with Andy Dragazis of Blue States. They say it sounds like "PIXIES-DINOSAUR JR-PAVEMENT or other bands that sound a bit like them"; we say more the latter of those three with a streamlined hint of the second, and certainly fitting well next to whichever player from the mid-90s American 'scene' you might wish to play alongside.

    VISUAL AID: Just the one this week, and it's here because while it's nothing outlandish there's something about the setting and the performance that appeals to us. It's Mike Scott of the Waterboys doing a solo Whole Of The Moon in 1987 to an Irish school assembly. It may be an effect dulled by aeons of listless rote emotion at boy bands, but when the kids scream upon recognition of the song it's warming. Is Scott wearing a visor or a jockey cap?

    * Charity news first, and Doing It For The Kids is a 66 (SIXTY SIX) track compilation album for £6.49 sterling in aid of Yorkhill Children's Hospital in Glasgow. An intriguing tracklisting includes Ballboy, Ed Harcourt, Wake The President, Edward Ball, Slow Down Tallahasse, David Ford, The Coal Porters, Alex Lowe (ex-Hurricane #1), Daniel Wylie (ex-Cosmic Rough Riders) and David Westlake, all providing new or rare tracks.

    * Meanwhile, Lucky Soul chanteuse Ali Howard is running the Cancer Research Race For Life on 7th May. As of Friday night she was only a tenner short of her fundraising target, but every donation helps.

    * Charity... charity beginning at home... stuff recorded at someone's home... Welcome To Our TV Show! As another month turns up so does another soiree round Jeremy and Fay's, this month with Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit, frYars, Matthew Saunders (we hadn't either, but his booking for this is proof of worthiness enough) and mein host Warmsley himself. Part one; part two.

    * "For the first-time ever, Manchester’s music blogging community unites to play the sound of their blog to a local and global audience simultaneously. The world will look in as we broadcast the event live to the planet. A live feed will deliver the sound of Manchester globally, inviting real-time participation from all corners of Earth." Yeah, alright, you've bought a webcam and put on a DJ event, calm down. It's called Bloggerpalooza; it's happening on 4th May THAT'S TONIGHT from 6pm at Contact Theatre, Oxford Road, Manchester, and those taking part include the STN-approved Yer Mam!, The Indie Credential and Black Country Grammar.

    Saturday, May 03, 2008

    The Weekly Sweep

  • Cats In Paris – Foxes [Myspace]
  • Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Possess Your Heart [YouTube]
  • Duels - Wolvesland
  • The Fall - Fifty Year Old Man [mp3 from Burning World]
  • Fighting With Wire - Everyone Needs A Nemesis [YouTube]
  • The Futureheads - Radio Heart [YouTube]
  • Grizzly Bear - While You Wait For The Others [live YouTube]
  • Hush The Many (Heed The Few) - Revolve [Myspace]
  • Jeremy Warmsley - The Boat Song [Myspace video]
  • Johnny Flynn - Tickle Me Pink [YouTube]
  • Johnny Foreigner - Eyes Wide Terrified [YouTube]
  • Jonquil - So Far So Good [Myspace] (This is the third track to surface from their impending Whistle LoW EP, which as far as we know doesn't so much as have a confirmed release date yet. Oh, but the industry can find all the release lead-in it wants for Cage The Elephant)
  • Los Campesinos! - My Year In Lists [YouTube]
  • Mystery Jets - Two Doors Down [YouTube]
  • Napoleon IIIrd - The Strong Nuclear Force [Myspace] (Completists! This is on On The Bone Volume 2 from the label of the same name, which for five quid features this exclusive track plus the likes of the Twilight Sad, Grammatics, The Lodger, Dinosaur Pile-up, Benjamin Wetherill and This Et Al)
  • Okkervil River - A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene [Myspace] (Along with the rest of the album!)
  • Restlesslist - Butlin Breaks [Myspace] (Alright, it's not actually out yet, as we suggested last weekend. But keep 'em peeled)
  • Thomas white - The Runaround [YouTube]
  • The Wave Pictures - Strange Fruit For David [Myspace]
  • Young Knives - Turn Tail [YouTube]
  • Friday, May 02, 2008

    The alphabet of new music Part II

    Nancy: none of them are called Nancy, but you could have guessed that. Camila Zamith and friends compose a Feist-esque joyous soul sound meeting Camera Obscura on a long day at the beach. Well, they are Brazilian.

    Orphan Boy: everyone thinks they're the Jam these days and most of the time it goes horribly, Dogs-like wrong. This Grimsby-born outfit do it much better and smarter than most. Their fans already have a collective name, Orphanites, which is never a good sign this early on.

    Pocus Whiteface: Good thing one: they're on that Giant Isopod compilation album of posts past (still happening, we're assured). Good thing two: they sound like Ikara Colt and McLusky at the same time, plus yelping vocal.

    Q Without U: Glaswegian melodic skewering is getting something of a leg-up at the moment, and these deliver a deceptively perky take on Lemonheads power-pop. They're probably well aware of Q And Not U by now.

    Rotary Ten: Sheffield outfit about to release their debut album head down the jerky post-punk route of millions, but in a direction parallel to Dartz! or Hot Club De Paris, sounding like Cajun Dance Party would had they heard the Minus The Bear/Q And Not U mathesque school.

    Santa Dog: "heartfelt guitar pop with a melodic twist"? Yeah, none of those about. But there's something likeable about the Bristolians' pristine wistfulness that those who remember Marine Research or the Darling Buds should investigate.

    Tandy Hard: Another one from the Drift Collective, Andrew Willis makes dark folk-pop, expansive and darkly joyous where many fall into the introspective trap. A British Josh Rouse? If you like.

    UltCult: Counting the dream couple of Edith Bowman and Gareth Campesinos as fans, the twisted Yorkshire types sound variously like Love Is All taking to Patrick Wolf's latter day playground or Life Without Buildings reconstructing Electrelane in their bath. And they're 17!

    The Voluntary Butler Scheme: Rob Jones drummed for The Boy Least Likely To and The School but on his own is a one-man orchestra veering from faux-soul to twee glam. Soon to support, inevitably, Darren Hayman and, somewhat less so, Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong.

    We Were Promised Jetpacks: the Glasgow/Edinburgh axis strikes again - on the face of it it's another post-punk disco drum accelerated drive to oblivion, but they do do that Orange Juice soul-inflected jangly punk-funk thing far better than most. Great name too.

    The XYZ Affair: Ha! We have a suspicion the Brooklynites were named to attract attention in this kind of feature but they aren't half bad either, wordy, hook-laden We Are Scientists-recalling fun disjointedness.

    Yppah: A Texan otherwise known as Joe Corrales, who produces shoegaze influenced downtempo IDM through sticking real instruments through multitudinous effects and loops. Were he British he'd be on Sonic Cathedral; as it is he's on Ninja Tune.

    Zookeeper: And finally one Chris Simpson finds a rubbery rootsy route between Josh Ritter, Ben Folds and in his acoustic moments Chuck Prophet, as heartrending as the emo scene he was previously in only makes out it is.

    Thursday, May 01, 2008

    The alphabet of new music Part I

    We like discovering new bands. You're probably aware of that by now. Every week we try and bring a new-to-us band to you via Weekender, whether they come to us by hearing one of their songs, recommendation, blind Myspace stumbling, add request or whatever. Clearly we can't cover them all, but we can have a go, so here's an alphabetised 26 artists from our big list, all of which come with the STN seal of approval:

    Abe Vigoda: not the American TV actor but an outfit who come from the same underground LA scene as No Age, HEALTH and the Mae Shi, a jerky No Wave-influenced crash of African-style percussion and angular riffage. 'Influences: Vampire Weekend' their sidebar waspishly states.

    Boca Chica: the nom de stage of Pittsburgh's Hallie Pritts, coming across like a female Sam Beam/Iron & Wine or a back porch Laura Veirs, although she claims greater influence from Gillian Welch.

    Cause Co-Motion!: like Black Lips meeting the Pastels, the Brooklyn outfit are signed to What's Your Rupture? (Love Is All) and make bite-sized no-fi scrappy jangle pop with an edge. In the mid-80s they'd have been on Creation.

    Double Dan: chalk one up to the Swedes. Two men called Dan, oddly, plus Joakim from the celebrated Acid House Kings, and you know already what they do - chiming, thoughtful post-twee for a summer meadow or really pissing off Steven Wells.

    The Elephants: Across to Denmark but not a great stylistic move on, minor chord Sarah Records with a power pop kick, a studio full of strummed instruments and a knowledge of surf licks.

    Fighting With Wire: you may have heard of these as Zane Lowe is caning their new single, but anything associated with Smalltown America is fine by us, especially a band led by Jetplane Landing riffmeister Cahir O’Doherty. Think Therapy? showing Biffy Clyro where they're going wrong.

    Gifthorse: Lucky Soul in the top friends and Luke Haines one of the top influences? That'll do for us! South Londoners with a romantic axe or two to grind make like early solo Morrissey with a hint of Gallon Drunk's seedy glamour.

    Heartbeeps: They've deleted their band name, which is helpful. Times New Viking fans should look this way, as there's much the same no budget ideas overflow in miniatures going on here, only with a cheap-sounding keyboard. For the clincher, he/they also do an mp3 blog.

    Indigo Moss: this bluegrass-tinged Americana collective, whose album was produced by Simon Tong (The Verve, The Good The Bad And The Queen) at Damon Albarn's studio, have already gained something of a reputation but frankly we were short of I inspiration and didn't think we could get away with Ipso Facto or Ice Sea Dead People again.

    Jeremy Jay: he's on K Records, for a start. The Californian has something of the Lekmans and Richmans, or perhaps Lou Reed, around him, knows his way around a ukelele and a broken heart and sounds like some sort of lo-fi chanson singer.

    Kerowack: Enough of the fey, STN is supposed to be a broad musical church. So here's some glitchy electronica with dirty basslines and echoes of Felix Da Housecat when he was good, approved by Simian Mobile Disco and at Miami.

    Landerim: Running back to the arms of wistful acoustic guitars we find more Brooklynites whose psychedelically tinged folk is one for the other sort of late nights. They take their name from a Robert Wyatt lyric, which makes sense.

    Muddy Suzuki: And back to London we go for the project of Damo Waters, making a living as Electric Soft Parade's drummer (and same for several billion others) but on his own doing shifting Andy Partridge-inflected compact prog-pop

    N-Z tomorrow.