October 30, 2006
So I went to the see The Feeling at Borders. We got there early to avoid the "crowds," so I hung in the travel section while they played Sewn on a loop over and over again. Bored with that section, I decided to go over to the music mags. I'm in that aisle and a guy is crouching down near me... you know where this is going. Yes, trolls, it is Dan Gillespie Sells! So I stand there for a second - what to do? what to do? -and as I'm passing back by him, I say, "Ah! I'm here to see you!" He graciously stands up to talk with me. In person he is very petite - maybe 5'6", bird-weight - I think wrapped in a scarf like me (green stripes, Paul) and wearing that red wristband and vest he has on in every picture and performance. Does he have more than one change of clothes?
Celebrities are tricky for me. I like to think of myself as calm and cool, but I am not. Synchronous chat does not work. I often don't even hear what they are saying as I am mentally trying to formulate what I will say next, so as not to sound maniacal and TAKEMEBACKTOENGLANDWITHU crazy. Still we had a little chat after I said, "I just have to say that this is an ugly part of Virginia- you are not seeing the nice part" and he said that he wasn't really aware because they had just woken up on the bus from Philly. He told me that the Philly show was good, but he said the NYC people were.. rather than say it, he folded his arms over each other to show me. Stiff? Withholding? The Feeling lack a layer of irony that NY'ers expect in their stars.
Aside from being famous and talented, Dan is quite striking in person, so that was distracting too. He has absolutely no bags or circles under his eyes - his face is very pure and angelic and his eyes are very wide apart. Do any of my readers have eyes this far apart? I trust they can see well out of them? I digress...
I asked him how the in-stores were going and he said they enjoyed places where the English came out for them, like Toronto. Yeah, I thought, Northern VA ain't no England. Little did I know...
Chartrigger saw them in Hell-Lay and D'luv told me he was worried no one would show, but then people appeared at the last minute. No so in the Hate State! Only about 7 people there to see them specifically. Two rows of seats for just 7 people (some arrived later), so I made a point to clap really loudly after each song. At some point a few young kids studying in chairs who came over to sit and watch - just sat their with blank faces. Kind of cute. The band was very good about it all - Dan said,"This will be a private performance!" I actually tried to sing along with the end of Never Be Lonley, but everyone could hear me so I shut up.
The performance: They did Fill My Little World (hello Paul!), Never Be Lonely (SWOON) and Dan wanted to end with Rose (he said the title with an exagerrated British accent), but the sickly Mr. Richard Sophie Ellis Bextor Jones nixed it. One audience member called out for Love It When You Call, but Dan said they couldn't do it because Richard felt so ill.
The big surprise for me was that they all sing harmonies together. I had no idea! I thought it was all Dan multi-tracked. They sounded PERFECT. I was amused by a few things: 1) they were all nicely dressed, especially the drummer who had a shirt with a matching tie. 2) They come from the Land Of The Tiny. Only said drummer was of "Amurrrrrican" size. They all have that super narrow rock look, but in nice, fitted clothes. Sadly, my camera was fucky and I did not get the great pics that Chartrigger did. My battery kept dying! gahhh!
The band reported to the few of us having CDs signed that they'll release the album in America in March and come back for a tour then. Let's hope they play at a proper club next time out...
October 29, 2006
Memo to Sophie: Dahling, your husband is ill. I encountered him sprawled on a couch in a bookstore yesterday afternoon, looking quite still, clutching a bottle of water. Though he was sullen, he soldiered on and warbled a tune for me. Please, text him immediately. The last I saw him, he was sat at a table saying "take me home, take me home..."
PS: Dear Jimmy (MP3 snippet) is mahvelous, but do get out the new single now!
PPS: I see you've lost weight. In fact you look quite small in that chair.
Picture of La Bex by Dave H, fan in Sophie's forum. More on my encounter with The Feeling tomorrow.
October 28, 2006
Some bitchin' tunes on the web:
Shawn Colvin's new CD is out! Stream tracks from These Four Walls
Freemasons save Beyonce again at Le Jukeblog de Benzen
Ride Like The Wind dance cover by Peyton at Tremble Clef
Patrick Wolf's live The Magic Position at Hi-Fi Popcorn
George Michael & Mutya's track This Is Not Real Love at PopMuse
The Halloween Theme (the piano one) at BrooklynVegan
October 27, 2006
October 25, 2006
The spoken word bit of the performance above reminds me very much of Rickie Lee Jones, for those who know her. The Rakamonie E.P. is released in the UK on November 20th and has these tracks:
1. Konichiwa Bitches MP3
2. Cobrastyle (aka Girliestyle)
3. List Of Demands (live, feat. Jenny Wilson)
4. Be Mine (ballad version)
5. Jack U Off (kooky Prince cover)
Robyn Oh Baby MP3 I fucking love this ballad expired
Robyn Handle Me video
Robyn Be Mine (original) video
Mama-donna kicked ass on Oprah, albeit nervously and with patrician accent in place. It was interesting to hear how many of the rumors are bullshit: she's never met Angelina Jolie, she's never considered adopting a child from LA, and the child had been very sick (malaria, TB and pneumonia!) in an orphanage for 13 months with no visits from his family. I'm not sure how anyone goes to visit orphans in Africa and doesn't leave with one.
Not everyone will have paprazzi at their door, but she is right that people will now be self-concious about doing this because pop culture has branded it the same as getting a Vuitton bag: Oh, are you doing that to be like Brangelina? Yeah, right. because everybody wants to take on a sickly child for 20 years just for kicks and status. Oy. Chalk it up to negative human nature.
October 24, 2006
Prior to September, I knew nothing of Amy Winehouse except that she’d released a track called, cleverly, Fuck Me Pumps (watch the video). Then I heard Rehab and realized that this British/Jewish/anorexic rock chick is potentially a major new artist. Amy's new CD Back To Black is one of those "stars-aligned" efforts. So much so that when Christina Aguilera hears it, she will cry out and careen around the room, her fake boobs finally tipping her over.
Winehouse takes the listener on a very authentic tour through the history of soul music. BTB has everything a record needs: strong melodies, whipsmart lyrics, master-class singing, great arrangements and ultimately, a unique personality...fucked up and self-medicated as it may be [I’ll touch on that later].
You too have probably heard Rehab (watch the video), which may be the hookiest single this fall, with its chorus of "Tryin' to make me go to rehab, but I said No No No!" That phrase is starting to seep into popular culture. A Popjustice message board comment this week: They're trying to knock Lily Allen down, but I say No no no.
Me And Mr. Jones references the similarly-titled soul classic and features retro girl backup vocals and tootin’ horns. Just Friends, which works an early 70’s smooth vibe, depicts a woman who cannot control herself in an affair with married man (“the guilt will kill you if she don’t first”).
My first listen to the title track Back To Black (watch the video) was the moment when I realized this is one of the best albums of the year. This song is the finest Shirley Bassey moment that legend never recorded. It has such a big sound, with booming drums, chiming percussion and strings, even a bit of surf guitar. Just when you get into the sway of the song, it delivers a surprise at 2:43: a bridge that changes the tempo into an eerie dirge as Amy gives in to her darkest motions, chanting black over and over.
Love Is A Losing Game has a Dusty-meets-Bacharach coolness that is more vulnerable than most of the album. It's heartbreaking and erotic, really: "For you I was a flame / Love is a losing game / Five story fire as you came / Love is a losing game." Tears Dry On Their Own has a cool urgency: check the clicking noise running through it. It's hard to be articulate about a song that gives me chills and makes me wanna run around screaming about the fabulousness (no tipping over).
This album is wine soaked, pot-smoked and cheatin' obsessed. It is constant in its reference to addictive behaviors. Check out these lines from album closer, the hilarious Addicted (watch a live video):
Tell your boyfriend next time he around
To buy his own weed and
Don’t wear my shit down…
When you smoke all my weed, man,
Ya gots ta call the green man,
So I can get mine
And you get yours
Unfortunately, Amy Winehouse appears to be imploding. At the point her artistry reaches a new peak, she seems out of control with weight issues (too thin at times), drinking, assaulting fans and - worse for her career - disastrous public performances, where she is so sloshed she cannot adequately perform. I hope she keeps this in check because, as we saw with Whitney Houston, an artist does not own their talent. They manage it. And if they fail to manage it, that talent will depart them as fast as the buzz wears off.
Whatever the truth - and it should be noted that she is only 23 - I urge to spend your hard earned money on Back To Black and buy it for all your soul-lovin' family and friends. Not since Shelby Lynne have I heard an artist doing this sort of music with such elan. Amy Winehouse, God bless her, is the real deal.
Recipe: Gwen Stefani Song
2 cups famous tune from Broadway musical or film
2 cups marching band beat
1 cup rapper feature
1 cup drum majorette sylin'
1 cup Cali Valley girl rapping
2 tablespoons references to candy or bright colors
1 tablespoon namecheck to artist clothing line
½ teapsoon references to entourage / girl dancer posse / ladeez in waiting
I hope that Wind It Up is not the actual single but just a buzz track. First Fiddler On The Roof, now Sound Of Music? Oy vey esmir! I know that some readers are enamored with this song, but I am not. Listen to it at the usual places. Thanks Wongie!
October 22, 2006
NOW: Jamelia Beware Of The Dog
THEN: Jody Watley Real Love
On this tip, I thought I'd post some fantastic 80's/90's pop-soul diva tracks. If these were released today, I bet Popjustice folks would clamor for them.
Jody Watley Real Love
Karyn White Hungah
Miki Howard Ain't Nobody Like You
Pebble Mercedes Boy a classic!
Cherrelle Everything I Miss At Home
Brownstone If You Love Me
Coming next: A review of Amy Winehouse's new CD
October 21, 2006
My favorite Buffy The Vampire Slayer scene (or really just one of them). Season 1, episode 11: Out of Mind, Out of Sight. Shown on May 19, 1997. "An invisible force is attacking the students and teachers at Sunnydale High." For some reason, the moment when she stops and sort of centers herself (at about 1:10)has always stuck with me. There's a metaphor there, chillins! Some Buffy wisdom for life! This show always used silence in a good way, particularly on the Mom dies episode, which was as good as any episode of ER or The Sopranos.
October 20, 2006
Ugh! The Starbucks gave me Passion Fruit tea instead of iced black tea. Blech! Wretch! Upchuck! On that note, some news and commentary...
Robyn is back! Catchy Tunes Of Sweden has the great new Robyn / Christian Falk collaboration, CCC (or Calm, Cool, Collected). Meanwhile Don't Stop The Pop has her electro-baroque ballad With Every Heartbeat. Robyn is fast becoming the real heroine of cool pop music. When will Madonna move to Sweden?
Robbie Robbie Robbie. Yet another artist who vomits up an enormous 17 song album that needs about 6 songs cut to take it from curiousity to collectable. There are some fine tunes on Rudebox, but many are lost in the sea of drivel. Worthy cuts: Lovelight, She's Madonna, Kiss Me, The 90's, The Actor, Summertime and the Lily Allenesque Good Doctor. The Guardian dislikes it and The Independent is equally confused
Janet Jackson continues to cause huge debate on The Velvet Rope, where the rumor is that Jermaine Dupri will step down as the head of Virgin's weak urban unit. My take? Janet should not rely on one person to be her lover, hitmaker and label exec. Those should be check-and-balance roles. She will recover, but if they don't release Enjoy fast, this album is already kaput.
Want to read about Xolondon's pick for the next President Of The United States? Check here (yes, you have to click to find out who will save the world from itself).
Jimmy Somerville has a new song I Was Born This Way, with this chorus: "I'm happy, I'm happy that I'm gay / I was born this way" heh heh! You can buy it or hear it.
And did you notice how truly shit most of the Hits packages are this year. In many cases, they are by artists who have already released their hits numerous times. This indicates that 1) the industry is in a bad place and 2) some artists may be trying to end contracts. Why in the age of itunes would an artist keep releasing hits CDs? U2, Depeche I am taling to you!
Only a passive denial of a future split from Girls Aloud in The Times. Hmmm.
I was very disappointed with the Project Runway finale. Jeffrey was a huge mistake. I would have picked Ule, which is strange because she was never my favorite. Everyone agrees that Michael choked on the pressure, but whaddya bet tons of celebs ask him to design for them. Read this good New York Magazine piece about the show.
My favorite gym tracks, not that I went this week, are:
Luther Vandross Shine (Freemasons Mix) MP3
Natasha Bedingfeld These Words (I Love You) iTunes 6:47 mix
Brit soul girl Keisha White's song Don't Mistake Me is this week's Grey's Anatomy standout track. Watch the video
John Legend fails blandly - thus grandly - on his second album. God, what a snoozer. There are really only two worthy tracks: PDA (hear here) and Coming Home
Bitchin' Gwen Stefani has been working with Tim Rice Oxley of Keane. Hear that? And that her upcoming song Sweet Emotion is girlgroup tasty? That Wind It Up sucks ugly hole? All true. What's not true are all the fake tracklistings sliding around the web.
October 19, 2006
Last weekend I came jetting back, literally, to DC for what I knew was the Ground Zero of Pop Music at that moment in time. The Pet Shop Boys tour!
I was a bit nervous about this concert. Most real pop shows I've seen are more like Broadway. How would PSB translate live? After a slightly shaky opening with Psychological (which would turn out to be the weakest monent of the show) they quickly won the crowd with a quintessential PSB song, Left To My Own Devices. Needless to say, it lifted everyone to their feet, especially us Back Row Bitches. I'd avoided spoilers, so it was all a surprise to me, but there were some unexpected tracks Sunday night, including Suburbia (still love the bridge on that song), Shopping (followed Minimal for s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g theme!) and a wistful Dreaming of the Queen.
The staging: a cube made up of three pieces dominated the set. Throughout the show, men dressed in white (who looked like sperm) would move pieces of the cube around to create a different effect for each song. At one point Neil even sat inside the cube behind the scrim, illuminated by light. It was really clever and as the evening wore on you wondered what configurations were left.
Neil Tennant, looking natty on tails and the occasional hat, sounded and looked great. Chris Lowe never did a thing except stand in front of the keyboard, which is nothing but expected. No interaction at all. The Boys had two dancers and three backing vocalists including the fab Sylvia Mason James, who has appeared with PSB many times before. She’s a full-on diva and I wish she’d been able to do Dusty, but alas What Have I Done... was not included. She did get to carry her purse during Shopping, a detail I liked.
If you read my review earlier this year, you’ll now how much I love Integral. They did an electric performance of it, complete with blasts of white light during the Sterile! Immaculate! Rational! bits. And yes, the music dropped out at the end of the song for Neil’s upper-crusteloquent “puhhfect.”
After an intermission came the best performances: the arrangements seemed looser and more likely to deviate from the recorded versions. Set 2 opened with a beautiful Numb, using video projections and then came the Latin bit with Se A Vida É (That’s The Way Life Is) and Domino Dancing, followed by a kooky covers section with Where The Streets Have No Name (I Can't Take My Eyes Off You) (watch the dancing!) and Always On My Mind... big applause for that one.
I could not tell you how Heart was presented because we were distracted by a bearish Andrew Sullivan sitting two rows in front of us, wrapping his arm around his very tall, swarthy boyfriend. [For those who don’t know him, he’s a famous expat Brit who edited the New Republic magazine, uses a CPAP and is now a blogger (and occasional guest on The Colbert Report].
Of all the songs performed, two exceeded their recorded versions: Flamboyant, a bit flat on disc, was elevated by the backing singers adding great flourishes to the chorus. It seemed so much more soulful. I wanted to have a big ol’ cry during the fucking gorgeous Home And Dry, one of my favorite PSB songs, presented acoustically with Neil sitting on stage strumming guitar (who knew?!) surrounded by the backing vocalists. Beautiful. Anne and I joked that Andrew Sullivan wasn’t petting his boyfriend, but sure enough he was by the end of the song. Here's a snippet:
PSB have so many great songs that many seemed like the finale tracks. Their debut single West End Girls was monolithic live and the 90’s dancing was amusing. The Sodom And Gomorrah Show was presented with video images of a guy (white dancer boy) in uniform who slowly started to cut loose. The dancers onstage also started with uniforms and marching, but it quickly devolved as their “gayisms” broke through and they were flouncing around like runway queens. Cheeky.
I should note that I LOVED the soul disco version of So Hard the backing singers did. This was actually the Morales Mix (watch it) which is much better than the original. The actual encore was a brilliant It’s A Sin, a song that makes more sense to me as I age (ahem!). The finale: can you guess? Go West. I like their version, but it’s not what I would have picked for a finale, if only because it’s a cover. It does make for an upbeat ending to the show. The actual final moments onstage were the backing vocalists doing a sort of We’re The Pet Shop Boys epilogue, with bits an pieces of many of the songs used in the show.
I only wanted something else to do but hang around on Sunday night. Neil and Chris kicked ass all over DC. My friend Anne and I danced and sang and danced and sang the whole time. It was a great...release! Who knew when we started 2006 that Pet Shop Boys would have such an amazing impact this year. God save PSB!
October 18, 2006
October 16, 2006
October 15, 2006
October 13, 2006
October 12, 2006
Kate Havnevik is - ta-dah! - a lovely Norwegian singer songwriter. Cut to the chase: If you like Imogen Heap, Frou Frou, Bjork, Mozez and Sia, you should listen. The music is lush, symphonic and strong on melody. Kate's debut CD is called Melankton (which means black rose) and is out in the UK on Oct. 16, but available now on iTunes. She recently gained a small following after her song Unlike Me was in an episode of... you guessed it, Grey's Anatomy (note it's also been used on Veronica Mars and The OC). The music is very new to me, so I don't have a huge amount to say yet, except try it!
Note that Guy Sigsworth, one of my favorite musicians, produced three songs for the CD: Unlike Me, Not Fair and You Again. Kate really is a natural extension of the type of music Imogen Heap is making, so I highly suggest you listen to her.
click on cover to buy the CD
Lupe Fiasco, the rapper, in GQ, August 2006:
I wear the $50 gold Casio to spit in the face of the ridiculous, overpriced jewelry. But I had a meeting with Pharrell recently and he was like, “Yo that’s what I’m talking about – I’m doing one of those for (my line with) Louis Vuitton!” I was like, “Please don’t! Just leave me be!”
Bravo Fiasco! (ed: that phrase sounds good!). Bling is bull and does not represent the lifestyle of most fans. Even Madonna did a cheap H&M warm-up suit. If you are rich enough to buy a Louis Vuitton watch, would you get one that was produced by...Pharrell? What happened to Mr. Neptune? He’s so predictable now - where he was once anti-establishment, he has now joined the ranks. Anyway, the Lupe Fiasco song with Jill Scott, called Daydreamin', is pretty good. See the video above. I also like his video for I Gotcha.
October 10, 2006
Two weeks ago I went to a movie screening of Depeche Mode's new concert film Touring The Angel. The movie (trailer) brought back the night I saw them live last December. Fantastic Milan show captured in a very electric film. Both create unique visuals for each song - the film using video tricks that mostly add to the ambience. Dave Gahan is, of course, incredibly charismatic live. Funny, a force of hyper energy and a force of sexual energy. Martin, well, he looks really scary in this film until he takes off his stupid hat and poor Fletch looks a bit like Elton John. Here are a few specific comments, some with links to the DVD video...
The director throws away the clever Enjoy The Silence king cartoons, so dominant in the live show. You barely see them in the background. Boo!
Precious is more muscular live, so it loses some of its softness (ed: redundantly redundant sentence). It does NOT lose the emotion, which is represented by a weird effect where the frames break into pieces at varying intervals. You know, like a marriage breaking into pieces...geddit?
I like the still-shot effects on Suffer Well though some will find that annoying.
Home is a favorite Depeche song and I love how Martin sings it here- his voice is deeper live. Thank God he rips off the annoying hat during his performance. Strangely, it's gauzily shot through as if through a Vaseline coated lens. One reviewer called it an acid trip, which it sort of is, veering close to intrusiveness, but the director nailed the final minute of the song when Martin stand there, messianic, with his arms open wide. It was also nice to see Dave's reaction, watching and dancing by himself in the wings.
There is a shot toward the end (perhaps on arm-waver Never Let Me Down Again?) of a guy bopping along in the audience, wearing the Enjoy The Silence robe and crown. Hilarious!
The performance of Just Can't Get Enough is amusing. Martin's facial expressions veer between bemusement and eyerolling disdain. Dave remains cheery and hammy throughout…this track is so pop it could be a Madonna cover.
The 2-disc DVD, out now, comes with a CD of live Angel tracks, all culled from the newest album.
Depeche Mode Precious (live in Milan)
Depeche Mode Home (live in Nimes)
Depeche Mode Martyr via Hype Machine or YouTube NEW SONG
Last, watch the lovely finale Goodnight Lovers below - I LOVE this song so much. Notice how Dave kisses Martin on the cheek at the end (4:35ish), yet bitchy Martin can barely wrap his arm around Dave's shoulder! Almost, but not quite...
October 9, 2006
I start with this because I love her and the CD has been cancelled.
This picture is bigger because this will be my Cover Of The Year!
Love it, love it, love it. Travis did something similar, but this is better.
He's just ordinary music, but I love the 70's NYC vibe.
Wow. Can the sounds live up to this? Maybe yes!
October 8, 2006
Geek post, as promised. Let's pretend the last 3 years never happened. Janet Jackson never showed her tata on TV, etc etc. Here is the album she should have released. Let's call it Enjoy Janet. This would be the interlude-free tracklist:
2 All Nite (Don't Stop)
3 Get It Out Me
4 R'n'B Junkie
5 Put Your Hands On
6 With U
7 I Want You
8 Do It 2 Me
10 Days Go By
11 Take Care
Girlfriend should hire me for A&R
Himbo Martin photo courtesy of BWO.ru
Just in case you didn't hear it: BWO is releasing a remix album on December 27 (huh?) called Halcyon Nights. Please! I still haven't found a way to buy Halcyon Days without dipping into retirement money! Note that all the pop bloggers can also chill: their demands have been met and Chariots of Fire (higher and higher!) is the next single.
October 7, 2006
Fantastic photos by ditajane
The Patrick Wolf parade has begun...
Patrick podcast #1 filmed at Patrick's flat! Starts with new song Blue Bells. As I suspected, the freaky man is really not freaky at all, sitting there in his absurd getup, talking like a normal person. Really likeable. And not as rentboy skinny as he used to be.
Patrick performs The Magic Position in Manchester on October 2. The song I compared recently to Madonna's True Blue. His clothing is ridiculous, but it's a good song. He's got a lot of balls - he doesn't give a shit what people think. It reminds me of the kid in Dazed And Confused who says "I want to dance!"
Bonus: The video for Wind In The Wires. Dark, druggy sexually provocative film that looks great, but probably cost nothing to make. He puts himself out there as a sexual object in a way you don't see males usually do, so it's a little disturbing. The unit of family bit (in the song) at about 2:01 still gives me chills.
Honestly, I think he is the first artist to come close to Bjork and Kate Bush in his fearless use of music and visuals.
A cautionary PS: Watch out for the liquidation sales. They are bogus. The liquidators will jack the prices up to list and start cutting by 10%, meaning that much of what goes on sale at Tower will be more expensive than it was the week before. By the time the sales prices drop low enough, all the major product will be sold and you'll be left with cutouts you've never heard of... or maybe Cranberries CDs, bless!
October 6, 2006
AbstractBoy's review of Patrick Wolf
Zeon for his Lily Allen Does Keane coup.
A must-see post for Robbie and PSB fans over at Kofi's Hat.
Tremble Clef for his review of Bertine Zetlitz's album.
Sugababes attempt at vogueing. Wicked tune.
Fields new song title: Charming The Flames
The unbearableness of Sting's vocals on his lute CD made me giddy
Robbie's cover of Kiss Me is better than the original
Madonna mixing with mortals the middle of nowhere
Jefitoblog's post on Crowded House
Jefitoblog's use of the word audiogalaxy. Le sigh!
The title of Lorraine's forthcoming album, Pop Noir
Exclusive track: Patrick Wolf Blue Bells
oh, and my hair is fantastic this week. perfect. figures it's due to be cut next week.
October 5, 2006
October 4, 2006
You can hear Robbie Williams' cover of Stephen Duffy's 1985 track Kiss Me at Zappin'. Duffy is now known as the man who produced Robbie William's most bland album, Intensive Care, but he has been a recording artist for over 20 years, with at least 12 albums under his belt. I would say that Robbie should've had someone else produce the songs he wrote with Stephen; that night have worked better.
Anyway, I thought I would complement Paul's post with the original Duffy MP3 and video. This song is known to many Brits, but Duffy has virtually NO profile in America. I should say that I don't like Kiss Me much, though it has a great first line:
In my young life I have received
Callers as though they were Christmas Eve.
Stephen Duffy Kiss Me
I quite like Duffy's band The Lilac Time and will someday do a post on them. It's essential that lovers of modern British pop know about Stephen Duffy!
Thanks to the great Duffypedia for the picture!
October 3, 2006
Imogen Heap, bless her, went to Tanzania this summer to gather sounds for a soundtrack to a new film about flamingos. She has a very detailed post about on her iblog. Looks great in the pics, doesn't she? I imagine that I would not photograph so well in the wilds of Africa. Wilted and frizzed would be my look.
Meanwhile, her next single is due out October 16. It's Headlock and there will be a new all-vocal song, Mic Change on the b-side. Check out Homoeclectic for her other new song, Glittering Clouds, a pop song about a plague of locusts, though you'd never know it from the general Immi-ness of it. You can buy it in stores now as part of the Margate Exodus art project. Also note that Zeon has a Heaptastic post this week too.
The Headlock video is below. Someone at PopJustice said it reminded them of early Tori Amos videos - this is true. You know, back when Tori was, as she once said, exploring the energy of the cube.
October 1, 2006
The Guardian has it right. I am happy to give The Killers a generally favorable review for their CD, but there is another side to this story. Recorded in a casino, Sam's Town is loaded with hooks. Some take longer to appear in the crashing muddle of guitars the band decided to use for the album - clearly influenced by what works in a stadium. My roommate, who tuned them on to me, heard this album once and said "Ugh! Dirges! Where is the fun?"
Roommate Julie has a point, but there are some real gems here. I think that "Bones" stands among their best, with it's winky choral "Come with meee!" intro followed by those fabulous synth bell sounds that are so 80's. It even has horns and a fab spoken word bit. When done well, we love spoken word bits! "Read My Mind" has a bit of synthy atmosphere pawned from U2 and "Bling" has a chorus reminiscient of something from The Cure's Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me.
In a Janet Jackson Twist, one of the best songs is not on the album. "All The Pretty Faces" has Iron Maiden metal chords, decent wailing from Brandon and a killer (heh) melody. Just replace that crappy "Uncle Johnny" with this one on your iTunes playlist!
Need I say again how brilliant "When You Were Young" is? Aye! Fantastic! The song is an over-the-top Springsteen pastiche, but it's so urgent, melodic and well crafted that it succeeds on its own. Totally thrilling and I (just me, from what I've read in reviews) love the "burning down...on the back of a hurricane" line. Add to that a wonderfully pretentious video and it's all just peachy. Sort of...
There are indeed many problems with Sam's Town that are leaving reviewers wide berth to slam it it: 1) The lyrics are sometimes horrifically trite. In some cases ("When You Were Young") the Springsteen homage works fine, but there is a spoken word bit at the end of "The River Is Wild" about fairgrounds that is ripped right from Born To Run and is truly embarrassing. Why not replace those lines with Brandon screaming "Brooooooce!"- it would be more subtle. 2) The vocals on the aforementioned "River" are strained, to put it nicely. Brandon is trying hard to push his voice, but let's leave the uncontrolled singing to Sinead O'Connor - she has the pipes for it. Brandon just sounds like a Robert Smith/Cure fanatic. 3) The album has an Embrace problem going on. It needs more of a balance between big stadium thumpers/dirges and lighter like tracks "Read My Mind". Thought I find the "Enterlude" and "Exitlude" kind of infantile in title and sound (a circus theme!? How new!) I like the use of piano on the "Exitlude" - the CD needs more of that. Finally, 4) the band member with the big face needs a haircut. Now. That brassy, frizzed-out mane just adds to the bigness of his head. I say that with love, as someone whose hair is often too big.
Let's just summarize by listing the tracks I think are keepers: "Bones", "Read My Mind", "When You Were Young", "Bling" and of course, the neglected metal-chord fiesta "All The Pretty Faces". This is the age of iTunes and track by track buying. Take advantage of that!
Sorry Killers fans. If you're looking for the next "All The Things That I've Done" it's not here, but it's probably on that Delays album you ignored in January.