December 30, 2005
Looking glam Shawn! Shawn Colvin has been missing in action since about 2001, when she released her only weak record, Whole New You. Now she is poised, as they say, to make a return on the Nonesuch label in the first half of this year.
If you don't know Shawn, she is a folk/pop singer/ songwriter that I and many of my trolls have loved for many years - seen her in concert a zillion times, each one special. Her Greatest Hits record is an excellent starting point and includes a nice, moody version of the The Beatles "I'll Be Back" (you know, it's one of those Beatles songs you don't know you know: "If you break my heart, I'll go, but I'll be back again..."). Her version reminds us that the Beatles wrote timeless melodies and lyrics, but her performance really makes it a Shawn song.
Aside from her beautiful voice and distinctive guitar playing, I am drawn to Shawn Colvin for her lyrics and melodies. Some of her tracks are story songs, like her most famous, "Sunny Came Home" about a wronged woman who burns down her house.
Others are deeply personal. Shawn is particularly good at nailing sadness with complete economy of words:.every one is perfectly placed. She has suffered from depression on and off for many years and even went on Oprah to talk about the moment she dropped to the brink of suicide, but found a tiny vice inside herself that told her she needed to get help. She had done what so many people do - gone off her meds, thinking that maybe this time she didn't really need them. She did. I personally feel her songs are not depressing, but comforting, because they ackowledge the truth of living - that it can be really fucking shitty, but you gotta keep slogging through.
The upcoming CD, as yet untitled, features such titles as "Summer Dress," "These Four Walls" and "Cinnamon Road" (the latter is inspired by Iron and Wine!). I really hope this is the Shawn we came to love in college. Below I will include one of my favorite lyrics, "Trouble," from 1996's masterpiece, A Few Small Repairs.
As for my Top 10 (plus 1!) favorite Shawn Colvin tracks? Here they are:
Steady On Listen
Shotgun Down The Avalanche Listen
Round Of Blues Listen
I Don't Know Why Listen
Sunny Came Home Listen
I'll Be Back Listen
Climb On (A Back That's Strong) Listen
One Cool Remove (with Mary Chapin Carpenter) Listen
Suicide Alley Listen
Read more about Shawn in a new Rolling Stone article.
Baby let me set you down
You look so troubled and I think I know
Just when you think you've come around
There you go
Now I know the business of the heart
And it'll get you anyway it can
You need someone to walk with in the dark, well
I'm your man
I go to the trouble like a magnet
That's where I'll be
Trouble is just a place to sing
It's what you need
I swear you look like you're in jail
And all at once you're halfway out the door
One foot dancing, one foot nailed
To the floor
Chasing those circles in the ground
The same old shit is still the same old lie
Just when you think you've got it down
Watch it fly
I go to the trouble like a light
Or like a dare
Trouble is just a friend to me, I know
It'll always be there
It's really hard to make your peace
So give me some credit for the hell I've paid
This world's a blessing and a beast
So come on baby let me show you how
The less you know the more I comprehend
You don't have to drag me down:
I go to the trouble and I like it
That's where I'll be
Trouble is just like love, if it's half the way
It's all I can see
And it's just what you need
December 29, 2005
Yep, that’s Rufus Wainwright with “Patsy” from Ab Fab. Lucky man.
Rufus has released an excellent documentary on DVD called All I Want – it’s essentially his story up to now, with tons of home movies from his geeky youth and interviews with his Mom, sister (who looks just like his Mom) and family friends. You even see the beautiful house he grew up in Montreal, where it apparently snows 24/7. His father, the infamous Loudon Wainwright III is not to be found on the DVD, though he is much discussed.
Rufus talks at length about his drug use; they even interview one of his best friends and partners in crime from that era. Did you know that Rufus was a meth-head even during the making of Poses or that he went blind at one point from too many drugs? Maybe that explains his penchant for striped pants in bright colors…
We also learn that – actually I had read about this - that Rufus is a bit of a slut – that he trolled for sex at a very young age. In fact, his first album, which took years to make, is all about his unrequited relationship with an emaciated guy named Danny. Nothing wrong with getting it on, he's just being honest about it.
Tom Chaplin, lead singer of Keane, gives his own endearing dissection The Art Teacher (and yes, Tom is right that it is told from the perspective of an adult woman). Also featured are the ubiquitous Elton John, Sting (who looks like The Cryptkeeper!), the Scissor Sisters, producer Pierre Marchand (inarticulate though he is), the rarely interviewed Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys and, inexplicably, some British actor who looks familiar, but I don’t really know.
Bonus bits include a section where Rufus and Marius Devries, the producer of Want, describes how they made some of the songs. They also show Rufus recording The Maker Makes – the song that ended up on the Brokeback Mountain soundtrack. His videos are also included, but the only one of note is Sophie Muller’s brilliant April Fools which features his sister, Melissa Auf der Mur and, in a quickie cameo, Bitchin’ Gwen.
The DVD has not actually been released in the US, so you would need to order it from Amazon.ca – those will play in America with no problems. All I Want is a must for any fan.
Also note that Rufus appears in the new Keane documentary dueting on a new track called Try Again. He's rockin' some godawful Jesus sandals in that video.
December 28, 2005
Favorite Group: Goldfrapp (duh)
Favorite Female Artist: Imogen Heap
Favorite Male Artist: Patrick Wolf
Favorite New Artists: First and foremost, Patrick Wolf, whose second album Wind In The Wires was made for me, with my rabid Anglophilia and Cornish heritage. Somebody make this kid a worldwide indie star, please! He is in it for long haul. Others newbies or folks who realized their full potential were: Antony and the Johnsons, Richard Hawley, Mozez, Lorraine (debut coming in 2006), Rachel Stevens, Sufjan Stevens, The Music Lovers (new CD coming in 2006), and Kubb (Harry Collier).
Album Cover Of The Year: Goldfrapp’s Supernature. No one even came close. See image below.
Cover Song Of The Year: Mary J Blige, on the strength of her voice and interpretation, takes U2’s “One” into new realms. Amazing.
Favorite Oldie Of The Year: Scott Walker, “It’s Raining Again” – I heard this on a booming sound system at the late great Let It Be record store in Minneapolis. Bought it on the spot.
Best Scott Walker Imitation: Richard Hawley for his wonderful Cole’s Corner CD. I had no idea how well Hawley could sing! We at Xolondon Towers like all songs that sound like Scott Walker music. ’04 was Divine Comedy, so who will it be next year? I have an idea…
Guilty Pleasure Album: A tie between Bodies Without Organs’ Protoype and Mariah’s Mimi CD. Fly like a bird, Mimi!
Best Lyrics Of The Year: Fiona Apple wins this for her whole Extraordinary Machine CD – you don’t even need to hear the music to love it. Sufjan Stevens gets special mention for his wrenching “Casimir Pulaski Day,” as does Martha Wainwright for her manifesto “Bloody Motherfucking Asshole,” which was more frustrated than angry. In a category by itself is Kate Bush’s soothing “Nocturn.”
Best Song Title: The winner is The Cardigans “I Need Some Fine Wine and You, You Need To Be Nicer” but we’ll also cheer for Martha W’s “Bloody Motherfucking Asshole” and Copeland’s “Choose The One Who Loves You More”
Coffeehouse Music Of The Year: Mozez, for his lovely So Still CD. I don’t mean that as snarkily as it reads. I like that album a lot… with hot tea (cream/sugar) and a pumpkin scone.
Decade Of The Year: the 1980’s (duh) It took awhile for artists to get this right. Among those who did were Lorraine, Nightmare Of You, and Rachel Stevens.
Bimbo Of The Year: Stiletto-tottering, top-heavy Mariah Carey, for dressing like a 16 yr old ghetto sluttress, despite getting more bloated on anti-depressants each week. One boob faces east, one boob faces west. Tally ho!
Himbo Of The Year: Martin, blondie lead singer of Bodies Without Organs. Look for him singing into a pillow on his tour of saunas and “gyms” across Europe. But wait, he’s married!
Biggest Ripoff Award: Jose Gonzalez, whose lovely song “Crosses” is a complete theft of the sound of Kings Of Convenience. I like it, but please, he’s even Norwegian! Runner-up is Copeland for sounding exactly like The Postal Service on some of their tracks (namely “Sleep”), which is not a bad thing really.
Grinch Of The Year: A tie between Mutya of Sugababes, for quitting the group just as the new CD was really topping the charts. Selfish cunt! Meanwhile, frosty Alison Goldfrapp proved she takes journalists’ bait every time. She had nothing but negative things to say about most of her female peers. I LOVE her music, but she needs learn that there is a difference between being candid and being unkind.
Most Welcome Disappearance: J-Ho, thank God. Her creepy little cadaver of a husband must have her doing dishes.
The New J-Lo Award: goes to Bitchin' Gwen Stefani for her I-am-a-chola-girl / I-am-15-and-talk-like-it delusions. Grow up Gwendolyn.
Genre I Used To Love That Finally Went Poop: R’n’B is a disaster zone that even John Legend couldn’t save.
Worst Song Title: Tori Amos, “The Power Of Orange Knickers” – that title is so fucking self-conscious (though the song is not as bad as the title).
Scapegoat for Trendiness I Hate: [duh, trolls!] Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!
Worst Lyrics Of The Year: Gee, anything by Coldplay or maybe Madonna. That does not mean I hate the music or the artists, but let’s call it like it is.
Most Hated Song: Wow. There really is only one answer: Jessica Simpson’s atrocious cover of “These Boots Were Made For Walkin’”
Favorite Remix of The Year: Without a doubt, Stuart Price’s Thin White Duke mix of Killer’s “Mr. Brightside” – phenomenal!
Producer Of The Year: Stuart Price for Madonna's CD, made in his attic, along with tracks by New Order and several remixes.
Wundkerkind Of The Year: A tie between Imogen Heap and Patrick Wolf for making their albums almost entirely by themselves. Two geniuses working from the heart. Runner-up to Sufjan, of course.
Worst Haircut: Paul Weller. How he manages to look 65 and 25 at the same time is beyond me, but he does it.
Favorite Clubby Track: Not a remix per se, but a true club track would be the incredible collaboration between Estelle and Ben Watt on “Pop A Cap In Yo Ass” – a perfectly written spoken-word track about small-time London thugs, told from the perspective of one of their baby mamas.
Favorite Video: Goldfrapp’s sweet and funny dog-filled “Number 1” was terrific. Finally a sense of humo(u)r…
Worst Video: Anything starring Mariah Scarey, who needs to fire Every. Single. Person. around. her.
Best Comeback(s): If Madonna counts as a comeback, then it’s her. Kate Bush released some of her finest songs ever, even if the full album was not perfect. Also surprising me were a-ha, Depeche Mode, Andy Bell / Erasure, Saint Etienne and New Order. On the radio, the divas Mariah and Mary J. turned out some of the best songs of their careers, after total turkeys last time around.
Biggest Disappointments: Take a seat and get a coffee…what a pooper of a year! My number one disappointment was early in ‘05: Tori Amos's The Beekeeper – a meandering, midtempo mess. Tori has completely lost any energy or spark in her work. The “Sleeps With Butterflies” single is actually beautiful, but the album falls flat. She’s too comfortable. And the rest? I know there will be plenty of disagreement here, but this is my opinion, trolls. Each of these records has something good on it and I didn’t sell all of them, but I don’t play them either: Paul Weller, Ryan Adams (the 2 CDs after “Cold Roses”), Robbie Williams, Jimmy Somerville, Athlete, Aimee Mann, Craig David, Starsailor (I didn’t even buy it!), Tracey Thorn single (hugely dull! God bless her!), Alfie “Crying At Teatime” (they broke up when I didn’t like this album!)
Live Show Of The Year: Arena: Depeche Mode / Club: Ryan Adams (I didn’t see very many live acts this year though).
December 27, 2005
Madonna “Get Together”
Massive club sound. She should open or close the 06 tour with this track. USA.. or is it UK?
Girls Aloud “Biology”
3 songs in 1! Chrous kicks at minute 2. Will become a legend, this song, especially because a lot of people hated it when it came out. So THERE bitches. UK
Rachel Stevens “So Good”
Oooh Ooh Ooh Oooooohhhhh. The most dissed artist of 2005, who deserves nothing but praise. UK
Bodies Without Organs “Sunshine In The Rain”
London, Berlin, Rome... we love songs that namecheck European cities.
Lisa Loeb “Fools Like Me”
'04 leftover. All about the backing vocals in the last 30 seconds. USA
Sugababes “2 Hearts”
Viva la Mutya, who just quit the 'Babes. To paraphrase, everything about (this) makes me glow, I thought you should know. UK
Rachel Stevens “Nothing Good About This Goodbye”
Insanely catchy chorus on this Alexis Strum-written midtempo. UK
Kubb “Wicked Soul”
Blow Monkeys-esque homage from Hottie McHottie singer with a dirty mind. UK
Lorraine “I Feel It”
Indie pop from Norway. The Keane of 2006? Stay tuned! All 2 of their songs are perfect and there are more to come momentarily. Norway
Will Young “Who Am I”
Elegant, smart breakup ballad. UK
Alexis Strum “Bad Haircut”
Alexis herself creates a worthy, melancholy mid-tempo ballad. Should've been a hit. Album in Feb. UK
Simon Webbe “No Worries”
Uplifting in a VH1 way, this song is made by the female backing voice. Your mamas will love this. UK
Mariah Carey “We Belong Together”
Intricate lyrics - you have to actively learn it to sing along with it. Song of Summer '05? USA
Classic Madge track, with nice spoken word bits. Expect this on the radio in '06. USA/UK
Smart dance pop. The final minutes of this thrill me, trill me, drill me...or whatever the fuck she is saying! Norway
September “Cry For You”
Hard to buy! Looks like Sienna Miller, music like Madonna circa 1986. Europop heaven... Sweden
Girls Aloud “Whole Lotta History”
GA create a classic (retro) megapop ballad. Will it be their swan song? UK
Rachel Stevens “I Will Be There’
Heavenly chorus is what makes this tune. I used to play this like 10 times in a row on the way to work. UK
December 26, 2005
I spent the holiday with Cassie (above) again this year; the Loofah Dog toy I bought was a big hit. It's just a skinny stuffed animal that squeaks. I took to calling it Felafel Dog in honor of Bill Assho'Reilly. Anyhoo, here is Cassie, in her domain, being fucking cute (her toy is with her in both pics if you notice). I'll spare you the drama about her eating the head of the chocolate Santa, tinfoil included. In fact, this is the extent of my "Xmas coverage" except to say that the big hit for me was a round JBL iPod speaker. It's bitchin'!
PS: Oh yes, I did eat too much. By 12:30 I had consumed vast amounts of cashews, coffee ring and many, many Esther Price Chocolates I like them dark, like my men...
Back to the la musica momentarily, trolls.
December 24, 2005
This is the music I will be playing in the next 24 hours. My favorite Christmas album for about 20 years now. God bless Dolly Parton. Anyway, I hope all my trolls and blog friends have a great holiday. Some will be with their families (for better or worse, heh heh!), some will be on their own and some are starting new traditions for themselves. I hope everybody eats too much, so I won't feel alone in that regard... xoxo
December 23, 2005
Let's just get it out of the way now, right? Moz fuels the fire for his new album with the declaration "my most beautiful album" on the cover of the new NME. There is actually some news associated with this cover:
The first single Morrissey releases from Ringleader Of The Tormentors is called "You Have Killed Me" - written by Moz and Jesse Tobias- out at the beginning of March.
B-sides (which I'll buy!) are:
"Good Looking Man About Town" (written by Moz and Alain Whyte)
"Human Being" (written by David Johansen and Johnny Thunders)
"I Knew I Was Next" (written by Moz and Jesse Tobias)
I. Want. It. Now.
Meanwhile, the answer to my question below was Pet Shop Boys. More news on them soon.
Imogen Heap “Goodnight And Go” SONG OF THE YEAR!
The song of all of these that veers closest to my life. I'll leave it at that!
Goldfrapp “Number 1”
80's electropop number - this is a Perfect. Pop. Song. Great video too.
Mark Owen “Believe In The Boogie”
Former Take That-er creates one of the catchiest indie-pop-rock songs in '05
Depeche Mode “Precious”
Silvery, gorgeous, sad sad sad. One of their Top 10 songs. Ever.
Another sad one about children - in this case a sick baby in a hospital.
Kubb “Wicked Soul”
Dirtiest song of the year, yet not vulgar. I'm the weirdo in your bedroom.
Patrick Wolf “The Libertine”
This track the The Shit! In a right world it would be a rampaging hit.
Martha Wainwright “Bloody Motherfucking Asshole”
Poetry has no place for a heart that's a whore. Sister brings it!
Sufjan Stevens “Chicago”
All things Soof-yon in one song. Accessible to the masses, in my opinion.
Sia “Breathe Me”
The final minutes of this song are fucking epic. Drive on Claire Fisher.
Michael Buble “Home”
A cheesy ballad that makes me so happy to sing along. LOVE it.
Mariah Carey “We Belong Together”
This is totally worthy. Another great singalong and the song o' Summer 05
Madonna “Get Together”
Surely it's Holiday '05. Madonna fully realized in one song.
Gary Numan meets Kate Bush and makes sweet love to her.
Imogen Heap “Closing In”
For the "what are you like" part and that drum attack in the middle eight.
Kate Bush “Nocturn”
Kate fully realized in one song. The epic we have been waiting for.
Rachel Stevens “I Will be There"
Awwww, this song is so fucking pretty on the chorus. Rachel, be my BFF!
Eurythmics “I’ve Got A Life”
Eurythmics fully realized in one song! The disco strings make me insane!
Please note, bitches, that this list is devoid of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Kanye West and Bloc Party.
American audiences should note that Saint Etienne's excellent Tales From Turnpike House is finally to be released in America on January 24 in a new edition. It reconfigures the track list, eliminating "Relocate" and "Bird Man of EC1" - no loss. Just wish they had knocked off the atrocious "Last Orders For Gary Stead."
There are 3 new songs: The first is Dream Lover, which sounds like it is built on a very familiar mellow sample, but I can't place it. Excellent ambient song. Oh My is slightly jarring with heavy glammish riff, but has a shimmery chorus. I'm Falling is a pretty, vaguely Kylie-esque tune that goes nowhere but sounds nice.
You can hear the album in FULL at their new label Savoy
Here is the offical US tracklist: Side Streets, A Good Thing, Sun In My Morning, Milk Bottle Symphony, Dream Lover, Lightning Strikes Twice, Slow Down At The Castle, Oh My,,Last Orders For Gary Stead, I'm Falling, Stars Above Us, Teenage Winter, Goodnight
December 22, 2005
In no order, except the first 4 are the top 4... a very POP year.
Madonna Confessions On A Dance Floor what I said
Rachel Stevens Come And Get It what I said
Imogen Heap Speak For Yourself what I said
Goldfrapp Supernature what I said
Patrick Wolf Wind In The Wires what I said
Josh Rouse Nashville what I said
Sufjan Stevens Come On Feel The Illinoise concert review
Kate Bush Aerial didn't review this yet!
Mozez So Still what I said
Girls Aloud Chemistry what I said
Honorable mentions to Depeche Mode, New Order, Kubb, Fiona Apple, David Gray, Mariah Carey (!), Ben Folds, Mary J. Blige, St. Etienne, Coldplay
December 21, 2005
The holidays and work stuff have crushed my free time.
I doubt I am alone in this phenomenon. Stay tuned!
She played the British detective Kit McGraw (cough cough) on Nip/Tuck this season. I love her steely quality and her truly expressionless line readings. She has this deep, raspy upper crust accent that is a joy to listen to and I love all peoples with dimples. In short, Rhona rocks my world; maybe she should record an album so she can take the place of Bitchin' Gwen?
Rhona Mitra's imdb bio
"Rhona Mitra, Rhona Mitra men have named you..."
December 19, 2005
Duncan Sheik has a new CD out on January 24 called White Limousine. Tracks include Hey Casanova and Fantastic Toys and Corduroys - if you read his blog you'll know that he clearly has enough money to record strings for the album, so it's all good news. I like more produced than spare.
What's unusual about this CD is that you can mix it yourself! In addition to the standard version of the album, the listener can use software to remix White Limousine. You will have access to the entire contents of the album, instrument by instrument. One would suspect this will eventually lead to the release of what are the best remixes.
This week you can preview the new song Shopping on his website. Just go to this link and click on the White Limousine cover. The track changes week by week.
XO's favorite Duncan songs...
Barely Breathing (the first big hit)
On A High
That Says It All
Varying Degrees of Con-Artistry
Songbird (yes, his Fleetwood Mac cover)
Wishful Thinking (from the modern Dickens movie with Paltrow)
BIG NEWS! In February 2006 EMI will re-release older DM albums as special remastered collector's editions. Finally. Save your pennies!
Meanwhile, the third single will be "Suffer Well," a Dave composition, with a video by Anton Corbjin. I would have chosen "John The Revelator" or "Nothing's Impossible" if I were in charge. Sadly for you, I am not.
I reckon Sufjan (soofyawn) Stevens is the Parker Posie of the indie rock pop scene. This year's darling. I posted a lot about him in 2005 because he really is one of the most gifted musicians to come along in years. I think his next record will be important because, baby-genius though he is, his work has the potential to become same-y if he relies on the same bag of tricks/ influences. I do love his whispery vocals, rah rah cheers and conplex chamberpop arrangements. The live show was one of the best I saw this year (although I barely saw any shows in '05).
Some of my fave Sujan songs included:
The Great God Bird (mp3)
Casimir Pulaski Day (lyrics)
John Wayne Gacy (hear it)
SixEyes is offering a Sujan mix that you should act fast on. Get yer Sufjan Wallpaper too.
December 17, 2005
The Music Lovers “The Former Miss Ontario” (’04)
Rascal Flatts “Bless This Broken Road” (‘04)
Lisa Loeb “Fools Like Me” (‘04)
Rilo Kiley “Portions For Foxes” (’04)
Sia “Breathe Me” (‘04) used in the finale of Six Feet Under
Scott Walker “It’s Raining Today” (oldie, ‘69)
Neil Halstead “Seasons”
Neil Halstead ”See You On Rooftops”
December 16, 2005
Black nails, white skin, satin, Marlene, Baudelaire, T-Rex, animals, broken fuckme pumps. These are some of the images informing Goldfrapp's 3rd CD. Alison and Will went for elegant big time pop on this record and they pissed all over the chart competition, while retaining their quirkiness. It's loaded with references to other music and all over the map stylistically, but it's by far their best album. Released in Feb in the States. (Madonna's pick for best album of 2005, by the way.)
My original review was spread out over several posts from Sept 8ish - 18th
Imogen Heap: Speak For Yourself
If you thought she was a product of her Frou Frou mate Guy Sigsworth, this will dispel that. Of my 4 top albums, this one is by far the most emotional, in lyrics, voice and arrangements. Sonically dense, it moves from ethereal to angry to sweet to bitter and bittersweet. I'll be playing this for years to come, just like I still play Frou Frou's CD.
Read my full review
Madonna: Confessions On A Dance Floor (aka COAD)
The comeback everyone hoped would happen, sounding like fans dreamed it would. Kids, adults, gymrats, aging queens, jaded chola girls, they all love it. The first 8 songs are the best solid run of tracks I've heard in years. Gwen Stefani is coughing up her flaxseed drinks.
My original review was spread out over several posts from Nov. 9 -14
Rachel Stevens: Come And Get It
The pop music that Brooklyn hipsters are allowed to like, it's a more complete pop record than Madonna's in that it covers a large number of styles, most filtered through a very 80's electronic sound. In a perfect world this record contains 6 singles and they are all hits. What can I say? It's not a perfect world.
Listen to a sampler of Come And Get It and read my full review
My Top Ten albums (or the remaining six) to follow shortly!
December 15, 2005
December 14, 2005
In an act of brilliant idiocy, the Village Voice has a huge picture (above) of a person they claim is the the inimitable Sinead O'Connor when it is actually the inimitable Natalie Portman! Check it out before they catch it and fix it.
Meanwhile, the much-imitated Prince has a new single on itunes that is yet another piece of doo doo.
Gawker Stalker reports that Billy Joel is a line-cutting dickhead, which I believe contradicts info I had received from one of my trolls about Mr. Joel. (BI??)
December 13, 2005
As I am compiling my various Best Of lists for the year (isn't every blogger?), a song has galloped into the final stretch. Mary J. Blige's new release, her duet with Bono on One, is MASSIVE. I am obsessed with it. Her voice pushes a great song into new levels of emotion.
On the original, which is a favorite of mine, I tended to focus on the more "globalized" chorus that seems to be mostly about unity, though the line "we are one, but we're not the same" has always leapt out. On the new version, it's the more intimate verses that carry the power - Mary really focuses on the dysfunctional relationship aspect of the song:
Did I disappoint you
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth?
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without
Strong lyrics, aren't they? Be sure to listen for the way she sings the line, "You gave me nothing / Now it's all I got." There's blues in those notes!
I was afraid the studio version of this song would end up being soul-ified in a smarmy Sting-like way (I love Sting, but he panders). Mary does none of that - she brings it, on her own album, as a rock song. Her vocals are mellisma-free; there are very few moments where she crams to many syllables into a word. Bono is smart enough to just let her go in the last half. Remember when he was the diva in a duet (like In A Lifetime by Clannad). He seems comfortable being the straight man on this song.
Since last night I must have played this song 20 times. It's just so amazing. Her album The Breakthrough is released in the UK now and you can buy the single track on 7 Digital. Next week it should hit the US on iTunes. By the way, I love Mary's new Swiss girl look, so more on that soon!
December 12, 2005
Fluxblog has a very nice post today about Fiona Apple. I really agree with this quote:
It's so unfortunate that the critical reaction to Extraordinary Machine ended up getting so badly muddled by a debate over the relative merits of the Jon Brion and Mike Elizondo versions. I maintain that the final product is better by far, but in any case, the basic quality of these songs remains the same, and the best record of 2005 ends up getting screwed over by vote-splitting. I'm sure that in the future, this album will earn the reputation that it deserves, but it absolutely vexes me to see it get passed over by many of my peers in favor of flimsy hackwork in the meantime. I suspect part of it is due to Apple's subject matter. Writing brilliantly on the topic of love is hardly a fashionable thing - lord knows Stephin Merritt has to wrap up his projects in novelty just to get any serious attention at all.I agree, Fluxblog, but I DO think more people are now aware that Fiona Apple is a major artist and that she is, indeed, here to stay. This episode got us over the "I yelled on MTV at 20" stuff that has haunted her over the years. Please be sure to read the Fiona lyrics I posted recently - there is such wisdom in what she has to say.
Princess YumYum turned me onto them first and now Arjan is also featuring them (and free MP3!) on his blog. The music is very 80's - several influnces - with a voice that veers between the usual modern teen punk male vocal (you know what I mean - they all sound like the guy from Green Day) and something more. It's fun stuff!
Nightmare Of You website
Nightmare Of You media player
December 10, 2005
I had planned to muse on this review for a few days, but I can’t. My head is swimming with thoughts about the Depeche Mode show I saw last night in Fairfax. This was my first Depeche show and I feel awash in the afterglow…. ummmmmmm.
DM opened with a new song “A Pain That I’m Used To” that sort of grew in stature because of the performance. Dave pranced out (to deafening screams) in a great black suit- very natty! He had on these really good heeled boots that were probably what allowed to him make his ASS the star of the evening. This tour should have been called Touring Dave’s Ass, not Touring The Angel. The clothes, as you can imagine, didn’t last long – he started shedding pieces pretty quickly and most of the show was his naked chest and some very fitted black pants.
They followed that with a performance of “John The Revelator” that was very good, but misplaced. I think they should have actually done this one during an encore and really milked the drama of it. It’s made for live performance, with the call-and-response chorus (which DM did not take advantage of for this song). It was great, but too soon in the show. Maybe next time they will make it more of a highlight.
They did a lot of songs from Violator, which they clearly realize is like their “legacy” album. Dave has incredible energy on stage, constantly running or dancing or shimmying. He’s got a lot of Mick Jagger in him – he’s a strutter and I was concerned that he would be molested whenever he went out on to the little platform where fans surrounded him. He was constantly thrusting his cock at them – very funny.
I had been thinking, since I first heard it, that recent single “Precious” is perhaps one of their top 5 or top 10 classics. It’s so melancholy and loving. The arrangement for the live show was like a remix, with more beat and guitar. It sacrificed a bit of the studio version’s… silvery-ness…but Dave hit all the notes and the emotion was still there. I just LOVE LOVE LOVE the lyrics to this song. Again, I think they maybe could’ve played this later in the show, but it reminded me that this song has to be in the very top of my 2005 fave list.
The set was kind of a busy affair with spaceshippy keyboard consoles and a huge orb that had words run across it on LED (see belwo). I kept expecting someone to like… pop out of it or something? It was odd. The lighting was terrific though, with the exception of these weird lights – I called them the ballad lights - that would come down every so often. They were like hanging lamps you’d see in a gym or maybe even an Outback Steakhouse! Most hung still but one was sort of rickety and swung around a bit. It just looked cheap! Annie Lennox had this same idea on her solo tour, but she used a simple string of white Christmas lights and it worked better.
“Enjoy The Silence” was epic- it also had the best visuals of the night, with a stick figure cartoon of Dave (complete with schnozz, crown and folding chair; see pic above). That was, in fact, the first clue of what the song would be and the crowd clearly got it. This song really is one of the defining songs of the 1990’s, so it was thrilling too see them perform it in a way that did it justice and gave it firther life.
“World In My Eyes” - Jesus God! Wait till they release the DVD! This was presented as the Sex Song with the whole thrust (heh) of the performance being Dave’s body. The cameras never strayed above the neck for this one, with close-ups of his nipples, naked torso and ass. His dancing was truly stipper-esque and the crowd went insane. How does he have that body at his age, after all he drugs he’s imbibed? I’m really surprised no one tried to rip his pants off. One of my trolls said that he could probably have anyone in that room, male or female, at that moment and she was probably right. The best bit of this was actually toward the end of the song when he went to center stage (backlit), bent over forward, with his legs crossed, and did this swanlike arm fluttering as he rose – sort of a cross between a curtsy and a ballet move. It was extremely feminine and I think that is his power: he gives you a version of sexuality that you are not used to seeing in men, where he makes himself - with no inhibition - into a sex object. Strangely, I got my first goose bumps of the night from this performance, I guess because it was so extraordinary. Or that I want to be fucked by Dave Gahan? You decide, trolls!
On another song, while we’re on it, maybe “I Feel You”, Dave blew a kiss at the end that just topped the whole performance like a cherry. It was a very quick gesture. The camera frequently caught him with a big grin - he has a very nice smile. I think at this point in time people just love him like a favored family member. I know that I admire him for being better than ever after a period of being a complete fuckup druggie. He’s a walking redemption song and such a STAR. – so in-the-moment and giving all of his energy and soul. Why doesn’t the whole world see this? I guess they’d rawwwther focus on that whiny bitch-boy Chris Martin (God bless ‘im).
“I Feel You” was the highlight of the show, the crest, for me. This has never been a song I felt any connection with, but it had the most amazing staging of the night, with the appearance of lights that look liked little fireworks, big blasts of white light and general guitar mayhem. It was surely as hard as any Metallica performance, but they maintained the melody. Loved the audience's participation on this is the dawning of our love. Spine-tingling!
Martin Gore. Now let’s talk about Martin. What a kook! For much of the show he worked a black-feathered helmet hat – sort of like a feathered Mohawk, but the hat looked stupid and uncomfortable because it had a chinstrap and covered his ears. He looked sort of Norma Desmond-like on the screen, with his Kohl lined deep-set eyes, so it was a relief when he took the hat off later. His solo performances were some of the highlights; notably a great version of a personal favorite “Home” (only track from Ultra), replete with major notes at the end, which I can imitate very well if I rattle my throat while I sing them. He also did a solo version of our college fave “Somebody” (I said to Maria, “20 years later and we’re still alone!”). I should also mention that Martin had on some nice black feathered wings throughout the show. When we were coming in, I saw a goth girl who had them on too. I want them for New Year’s Eve…very Angel of Death!
Geeky fan dislikes? I feel meh about a few of the new songs they played, like “I Want It All” (what does the end of that song remind me of? It is blatantly ripped from an oldie) or “Damaged People.” I would’ve preferred an oldie like “Blasphemous Rumours” or even “Freelove.” They ignored “Nothing’s Impossible” from the new CD, which is one of the better songs on that record (and one of the most old-school electronic).
The encore had classics “Just Can’t Get Enough” and “Everything Counts” which the audience participated in (the latter has new meaning to me as an adult, in the Bush era). These songs were all about the communal power of a live show, where everyone sings together and does hand gestures, etc. The penultimate song was one of my favorites, “Never Let Me Down Again,” and the performance was terrific – replete with the major arm waving I think they do at each concert. You could tell that Dave was finally getting tired, but it reminded me that he could have milked the audience more than he did. All DM has to do is go out and let the audience sing every song, but they do give much more than that.
The closer was Martin and Dave out on the little platform (a la Bono and Edge?) doing a sort of unplugged version “Goodnight Lovers,” the only song present from Exciter. I never would’ve thought of, but was lovely with the “souls sisters and soul brothers” chorus. A real lullaby.
If this show comes your way, it is worth every fucking penny. Give to Depeche Mode and give generously. I want them to be even richer than they are now. They deserve it.
FREEBIES: Watch some of the rehearsals for this tour. Also check out the EPK (elec. press kit) for their new CD, Playing The Angel.
December 9, 2005
Kofi's Hat is hosting the pretty new Imogen Heap track from the Narnia movie - the song is called Can't Take It In. Act fast because this is not available, as of now, for individual online purchase. I hope that will change... (edit, 2007: it has not changed.)
That's Annie Lennox on the Today show 2 weeks ago. She also recently showed her smarts by writing a piece for the Times Online (London) about the promises made by G8 leaders regarding HIV/Aids. She is one eloquent cookie. The more interviews I read with her, the more I respect her. She has talked recently about how affected her daughters were by their trip to Africa (mentioned in the Times piece) and how she believes that children need to see that sort of thing - it makes them kinder, more compassionate human beings. I agree Annie.
December 8, 2005
December 7, 2005
So I missed Goldfrapp in NYC at the Nokia Theater on the 5th, but here are two reviews (one and two). My troll Jason went and said it "ruled!" Le sigh. Maybe I can see them this Spring when they come back to the US to promote the American release of Supernature.
Did you know that Bono and Alicia Keys (now just "Alicia" - oy!) have recorded a cover of Peter Gabriel /Kate Bush duet "Don't Give Up." It's okay, if a bit phoned in, but it's for charity, so you can buy it because you are a caring individual.
Hear and see it for free
Buy it from iTunes
December 5, 2005
Howard Stern is taking over satellite radio and Dunkin Donuts is taking over New York. Both stories in New York Magazine.
We are about to get our first snowstorm of the year, so I came to work in clashing brown pants and brown shoes I think of as my snowshoes. (update: it was LAME)
If you live in DC, you should go to Busboys and Poets at 14th and V. It's HUGE and busy and the patrons are hot hot hot. I went with my friend Laura for brunch Sunday and it was very nice - the manager even sat down to chat with us. It's created by the team that did Luna Grill, where I have spent my money every week for the past 8 years or so. Note that the website plays Billie Holiday singing "The Very Thought Of You"!
Anjelina Jolie was recently looking at a house just 8 blocks from where I am sitting! Do you think she is moving here to be nearer to me? I heard Brad Pitt is adopting her children. What s stupid premature move on both their parts. This will be a Renee and Kenny story, not a Paul and Joanne story.
Belle & Sebastian have a new CD coming out called The Life Pursuit. It's due out on February 6/7. I love love loved the first single from their 2003 CD - that song was called "Step Into My Office Baby" and it was just what you'd expect from a title like that. The blog explosion occurred in the interim, so everybody has been posting MP3s from this record. Here's a rundown:
Torr has 2 tracks at his site, "Act Of The Apostle" and "The Blue Are Still Blue"
Matador Records has "Another Sunny Day"
Daily Refill has "Sukie In The Graveyard"
Don't you just love their song titles?
As a holiday bonus, empme has their Peel session recording of "The Twelve Days Of Christmas"
December 4, 2005
The Recording Industry Association of America announced Tuesday that it will be taking legal action against anyone discovered telling friends, acquaintances, or associates about new songs, artists, or albums. "We are merely exercising our right to defend our intellectual properties from unauthorized peer-to-peer notification of the existence of copyrighted material," a press release signed by RIAA anti-piracy director Brad Buckles read. "We will aggressively prosecute those individuals who attempt to pirate our property by generating 'buzz' about any proprietary music, movies, or software, or enjoy same in the company of anyone other than themselves." RIAA attorneys said they were also looking into the legality of word-of-mouth "favorites-sharing" sites, such as coffee shops, universities, and living rooms.
ha de ha de ha from The Onion
December 3, 2005
Rachel Stevens: Come And Get It
A better pop album than Madonna’s. Period. It has a much wider scope. Rachel nails virtually everything she tries on this (lamely named) album. So Good is a perfect opener: it’s music for the masses, but also one of my most played songs of the year. This song is made, in my opinion, by the ooooh oooh oooh backing vocals…Nothing Good About This Goodbye is really melodic midtempo pop, strong on the melancholy chorus.... I Said Never Again (But Here We Are), a song notorious for the line, "Ooh! I let you in my back door!" has verses reminiscent of Adam Ant, while the chorus recalls Joan Jett. This is Rachel's rockier side and it works. Great at the gym too! …The album’s lone ballad, I Will Be There, was described by Stylus as a Pet Shop Boys lawsuit waiting to happen – indeed it starts like a PSB demo, until the black and white verse is followed by a Technicolor chorus that fucking blooms right out of your earphones... on of the prettiest chourses of the year.... Crazy Boys: The esteemed Richard X produced 2 tracks for Rachel, including this one, with massive timpani drums on the chorus and a cabaret style... Some girls think Some Girls sounds like a Goldfrapp song. The siren-like chorus will attach itself to your brain like a barnacle, particularly because of the cheeky line “Champagne makes it taste better.” Does it?... Negotiate With Love is like a lost Waitresses hit. Total 80’s Cali girlband pop, complete with surf guitar and a great accent on the little spoken “turn it up” bit. I love the sentence sung as one word: whatisityoudon'tundertsandrespectisallthatIdemand... Funny How: You have to love a song that features the line, “It’s half past three, get these fools away from me.”
This pop story has a sad ending: Despite great reviews- even the cunty indie press loved it - CAGI tanked on the charts in grand style. Was it because the record leaked months early? I got the album in sets of three songs, which I kind of liked. Buy this record and save Rachel's career!
Hear samples of Come and Get It at 7 Digital
Girls Aloud: Chemistry
Girls Aloud have released their bestCD, Chemistry. There are some top tunes on this record, previewed by the groundbreaking, buttshaking single Biology, which I creamed over weeks ago. Three songs in one, Biology’s got TWO slamming choruses... Swinging London Town is built on an interpolation of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love that doesn’t overwhelm the song’s own character. Minute two dissolves into a shimmery breakdown about “choking on sushi” and “drinking white wine spritzers” whilst driving down King’s Road in “Daddy’s Bentley.” Cheeky... Wild Horses, which opens with a sharply enunciated choral bit, is built on a galloping acoustic guitar and putdowns like “Get out of town and take your lazy dog with you.” Those “whoo whoo!” train noises send it over the top. It’s fizzy cowgirl pop that captures everything that makes the Girls cool enough for the Fluxblog crowd....Models: Why hadn’t the Girls tackled models and modelizers before? Love the lines, “You get your kicks, like to flies to shit” and the nice “girls girls girls” refrain. The song is a bit annoying – I hope it’s not a radio hit.
The ballads on Chemistry are bloody brilliant, the best being Whole Lotta History, the most elegant song they’ve ever done. This one is like Bacharach at his best and the vocals are sugary icing... See The Day is a cover of the old Dee C Lee (yes, Paul Weller’s bird) English radio classic. The girls do it better, I have to say, especially on the chorus with big kettle drums and a sharpie synth that whizzes around after escaping from a Stevie Wonder record. It's their Christmas single and it really does sound like glittery snowflakes.... Even the weakest ballad, No Regrets, has an island smoothie feel that will keep well on my iPod.
This is supposedly the Girls final full-length record (their 3rd in 4 years). That sucks, but at least they’ll go out with bangs and whispers… in the position they like best: on top!
Hear samples of Chemistry at 7 Digital
Sugababes: Taller In More Ways
Sugababes are like Girls Aloud’s older, wiser sisters. They are the moderation to the Girls extremity. Truth is they're the same age, but the ‘Babes are infinitely more introspective. Their previous album, Three, will end up as one of the top 20 pop albums of the 00’s, so this new one comes with Expectations attached. They chose to try something new by going to Atlanta to record with Dallas Austin, who ended up doing some of the best tracks on the record, like first single Push The Button or the next one, Ugly, which is a baby sister to TLC’s Unpretty. It’s geared toward young girls with body image problems. Like me, right?
Taller is by no means perfect, but it does add some great songs to the Babes setlist. The missteps include a cover of the brainless Animotion hit Obsession, which no one but Goldfrapp could have saved. They also try crunky American r’n’b and sound terrible doing it. I just don’t want to see them sink into Ashanti territory, which they do once or twice. Austin is responsible for some of the shit here, but at least he’s trying to keep it interesting.
Red Dress is a Xenomania production that slams along nicely, as does the super-Babesy Ace Reject. My favorite track is an extension of the emotionalism of their Three album: 2 Hearts, produced by Johnny Dollar sticks with me primarily because of the sad lyric "Everything about your makes me glow, but how could you know?” which reads sillier than it sounds. It’s a sugary pop ballad with blues in the notes.
Maybe I’m nothing but a fucking trashy pop tart with cheap daydreams to fill my days…whatever, stupid and happy.
Hear samples of Taller In More Ways at 7 Digital