February 28, 2007

Tracey Thorn



Tracey Thorn's album is released next week in the UK. As far as I - and many others- are concerned, this is probably the biggest musical event of 2007. My life would so much less if EBTG had not existed. This week Tracey gave a great interview with The Telegraph. Did you know, for instance, that the new single, It's All True, is her first attempt at an unabashed love song for partner Ben Watt? Or that her children are named Jean, Alfie and Blake? I urge you to read all of it, but below is a quote that stood out to me.

Tracey Thorn on her relationship with Ben Watt:


There is no magic fairy dust that you can sprinkle,’ Thorn says when I ask their secret. ‘The longer you’ve been together, the more you learn that the bad bits go around, and the good bits come back again. But if you give up too quickly, you don’t get back to the good point again. Replacing a person with someone new is great for six months, but after that I suspect it’s not that different. Everyone has their faults. There will be things that you clash about, they’re just different things. So you give up one set of problems for a different set.’


Wise woman. One thing to note: at the end of the article Tracey says she will record another record. This one is not a fluke!

More reading: 1) The blog on her myspace, which is usually pretty funny. She's also streaming a few more album tracks there now. 2) A Q&A at Monsters and Critics.

February 27, 2007

Look over there: It's Fantasia!



It's Jennifer Hudson's week and I am not above saying I called it when she was on Idol. I was so obsessed with her she became my imaginary wife (I am also married to Rachel Bilson and divorced from Angie Jolie). Anyway, I love that Jennifer gave Andre Leon Talley a smackdown by admiting on TV this morning that she did not like the dress she wore to the Oscars. Actually the dress was fine, if dull. It was the LaBelle-esque winged shrug that made me... shrug (bada bing!).

In case you missed it, Fantasia Barrino had a beautiful moment last week on American Idol when she gave a master class in singing on I'm Here from The Color Purple Broadway show. Could a wise man please get this version on iTunes. It reminded me and many others what I liked about Fantasia: that perhaps more than any other Idol, you believe her when she sings. She is living the song as it comes out of her mouth. Watching this, I had a flashback to constantly telling my roommate to be quiet while Fantasia was singing.

The Youtube video is a shiteous quality but at least you can see it. The song starts a minute in. Here is a version from Daily Motion that you can play.

Seven Songs



Okay Dan Man, you get the 7 songs per your request, but you do not get the chain mail effect wherein I ask 7 other people to do it. I have always had better luck breaking those chains! So, 7 songs I am into right now:

Out Of Love: Pleasure I already talked about this and the next song on the video post below. I want the CD and am not sure how to get it!?

Golden Skans: Klaxons From what I can tell, this song is a deviation for them. You saw what I said yesterday about it, makes me feel cool. Hype Machine links

Last Night I Nearly Died: Duke Special I haven't done a big Duke Special post yet, but I am quite taken by him. You hear him and think, "Well, you've been around forever, haven't you?" Hype Machine links

Time Machine: Boy George & Amanda Ghost
The return of El Boy? I thought he'd totally lost his voice - have you noticed he sounded like a gasping, old black woman on recent vocals? This is closer to what I liked about his voice before and clearly the lyrics are total O'Dowd. Find it via Google Blog.

Don't Look The Other Way: Pleasure
Pleasure again, with vocals by Justine Frischman, 90's Elastica gamine. 3 minutes of electropoprock of the Mirwais variety. Indie pop verses about pretty things with a big, synthy chorus. Makes me want to buy skinny jeans that my bits don't fit into.

And I Am Telling You (Dance Mix): Jennifer Hudson A killer 6 minute remix that's a combo of tacky club beats and electro moments with J Hud's vocals at the center. Wouldn't it be a hoot if I'd put up a dub instead? I'm stayin, stayin' and you and you, you're gonna love meeeeeeeeooohhhhhoohh!

Who Am I Kidding? WinterKids Another song that takes me back to playing the Best Of Britain or Graham Deane's Rock Over London on the radio circa 1983. Sweet, sweet song. Hunt it down on Hype Machine.

Not too folky this week am I?! Anyhoo, the awesome art is by Yoko Ikeno.

February 26, 2007

XOvision 4.0: All plans are golden in your hand

Klaxons Golden Skans



An amazing new song - the audio version is 2:48! - that may pass by the pop set wihout the right exposure. This song intersects pop, disco, Beach Boys and Britrock. It is urgent and sexy, as is the video. Find the MP3 here.

Pleasure Out Of Love



Cowbell lust. You've heard this song on many blogs, so here's the video. Gus Gus singer Heidrun Bjornsdottir does the vocals, but wouldn't it rock if one of these producers would grab a cute girl from J-pop and make her a star in Sweden? Harajuku via Stockholm. Anyway, I fucking love the "darling darling" vamp that begins as a background vocal at 3:15 and runs through to the abrupt end. The MP3 for this song is at Homoeclectic among others.

Melody Club Fever Fever



Did the Melody Club album Scream ever come out? I found this via - I don't know who? Alien Hits? - last Fall and the video is out now. There is something very Stuart Price-y about this song, but with a glam element. If a (Swedish) hair metal band went pop, they'd be Melody Club. And I have to say, this song is superior to what The Ark is doing now. Sorry Ola.

Esther Ritchie cleans up well



Wow. When's the last time she made this much effort with the hair and makeup?

February 25, 2007

80's Music: Hey young London!



On March 19, Bananarama re-release all their albums. Yay! Below you can watch all their videos in ten minutes...




Every pop fan should know the first three Bananarama albums and the original line-up: Keren (the one who married Andrew Ridgeley), Sarah (the one with the tall face) and - my fave - Siobhan (the one who left!). The self-titled debut came out in 1983 and has the same kind of spirit as Lily Allen's record does today, albeit even more DIY. This was the era of no budgets, at the very start of MTV and the beginning of an incredibly fertile period in British pop music, when groups out of London would soon be exported into homes all over America. I stopped following them, frankly, in about 1987, but I still play their tunes.

XO's Bananarama Picks:

Fave 'nana: Siobhan Fahey watch a profile
Fave Single: Robert DeNiro's Waiting watch it
Fave Album Track: What A Shambles
Fave Rarity: Cairo
Fave Video: Cheers Then watch it
Fave Album: Bananarama buy remaster
Didn't Like: Wow album (or anything after!)

Top Ten Songs: Cruel Summer, Robert DeNiro's Waiting, Trick of The Night, What A Shambles, Wild Life, Young At Heart, Rough Justice, Look On The Floor, Cairo, More Than Physical.

February 24, 2007

90's music: I've been around for quite some time



Jody Watley I'm The One You Need expired, sorry!

The success of last week's Dare Me post made me think about some other tracks that linger with me years later. Jody Watley's I'm The One You Need is a classic. In the late fall of '91, just as the weather was changing, Jody released the slightly tepid I Want You as the first single from her 3rd album, Affairs Of The Heart. The cassingle, which I remember buying around the same time as MJ's Black Or White, had three song snippets on the b-side, including this one. I have a vivid memory of driving by the Lincoln Memorial late one night with that cassette playing on a boom box on the floor of my Cutlass. (!) It starts as a keyboard ballad, and then the bass starts to thump and it melds into a subtle house anthem. And what about the New Kids woah part!? This song is one of Jody's best - it has an elegance that makes it kick even now. It came out at one of the happiest times of my life and I'm very aware of that whenever I play it. Get this great track on iTunes US now...
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Please note that this represents the first case where I find that Viacom and Google have teamed up to needlessly destroy the music video value of Youtube. To what end? Also note that if you didn't get Jody's cover of Madonna's Borderline last year, do it NOW. It's beautiful.

February 23, 2007

Review: Patrick Wolf's The Magic Position



Joy, passion, fireworks and fucking. And worms too. All in the face of adversity. That's my simple take on Patrick Wolf's new CD The Magic Position. The record is a melding of Patrick's previous two albums - the DIY electronica of the debut and the raw woodwind-iness of the second album. The songs here are not only more confident than anything he's done before, but even more epic, if possible. He's 23 and he's managed to get Marianne Faithfull into the studio with him. That should say something.

I've decided, after listening to the album for two months, to do a track by track review...

Overture: A favorite of many fans, it begins with tribal drums followed by all the sounds you're used to from Patrick - percussion, violins, some inevitable unidentified instruments that no one uses anymore. There's something about the title of the song that has made it hard for me to grasp it though.

Unintentionally funny line: "Look back at that boy back on his way to school / With such a heavy heart, such a heavy jewel..." (it sounds like heavy tool)

The Magic Position: Classic. I've described this before as Patrick's version of True Blue, but this literal stomper is so much more than that. The most joyous song he's done yet, you hear it and understand the crazy technicolor album cover. Pay attention to the complex layers of fiddles of and organic beats in the final minute. He's very good at doing cacophony, while maintaining melody and structure. First appearance of bluebirds on the record, by the way.

Fave line: "So let the people talk / this Monday morning walk / Right past the fabulous mess we're in."

Accident And Emergency: Close in style to songs from his first record, this one hammers one of the albums themes - that the unexpected, even painful, makes you stronger. I should note that the wintry French horns on the bridge are like beautiful birds... in the rafters at a rock concert! video

The whole point of the song comes down to the bridge: "If you never lose, how are you gonna know when you've won? / If it's never dark, well how you gonna know the sun when it shines?"

Bluebell: The first of several interlude/songlets. This one works well enough as a set change from the last "scene" and an intro to the recent single called...

Bluebells: A grower. It seemed out of focus the first few times I played it, but now I hear the detail, especially the way the fireworks whizzing noise ends with the bang of a drum - the same drums that end up giving the song its backbone. There is also a sense of menace about this song that reminds me very much of Kate Bush. video

Favorite lines: "Deep in a dream, I set the compass to spinning / Your love has come too late / Away from the garden gate / Wake me up when the bluebells are ringing."

Magpie: Hushed and almost classical, this song sounds like it could have been recorded back when Van Morrison was in his imperial period. You have to accept that Patrick will often go for the highest drama in a song: he's very Heathcliff and Cathy in that sense, wailing across the moors. Given that context, Marianne Faithfull's vocals are perfect for this song. I love the little moment at minute 3 when the voices say, multi-tracked, "We will sing."

The Kiss: Patrick throws away the potential of that title on a minute long interlude of little violin noises. Who cares, because the next song is...

Augustine: Holy shit! The finest song, I think, that Patrick has ever done. It pisses all over everything else on the record, lyrically and vocally. The usual detail is here: the visuals of worms, weeds, and wooden beams, the rolling pianos at 3:21, the impassioned way he wails the oh-oh's on the second line of the chorus (1:45) and the way he places the emphasis in the "t" in got (3:46) and hot (3:51). The way he stops the song at 2:47 with a quizzical "is it?"

I can't pick a favorite line, so the the post below will have the full lyric. I do think the ending is incredibly seductive though:"Be my loving nurse / as we fall back / into the / impossible dream."

Secret Garden: Useless interlude, probably designed to bridge the heavy mood of the previous song with the jauntiness of the next one. A lot of white noise and feedback here.

Get Lost: Another track that begins with what sounds like an alarm. It's taken me a long to to wrm up to this song. It's very youthful with references to bikes and cinema and being bored. I guess I find it a little forced, though I hear what he was trying to do.

Enchanted: It is. A piano bar song, unlike anything Patrick has done before. The lyrics are sweet, if a wee bit overdone, perhaps intentionally. It's like an aural version of shabby chic!

Favorite line: "From all of the maddening crowds/ The orchard is leaning her boughs / To hear our laughter / and we roll in the ardor."

The Stars: Before I heard the full album, I assumed this would be the standout track, as it's totally new for Patrick, almost drum and bass with its ticky rhythm. Lyrically, it leaves the earth and goes into the night sky, with the constellations described. The first half of the song is really a prelude to its heart, starting at 2:33. The final minute is a chill inducing climb into heaven. One of the prettiest musical moments of 2007, without a doubt.

Favorite lines: "So now, to the one with the never-ending, invisible scars: Look up! Look up! The stars!"

It just makes me want to cry cry cry.

Needlessly, Patrick tracks on a vague instrumental postlude called, durrr, Finale. He could have just faded out The Stars, but instead he has this droney end that sort of dulls the final minute I described above. Whatever, I just cut it right off my playlist for this album.

As predicted, the reviewers are not being kind to Patrique. The Independent, which I shall not link to, is predictably cunty and smug, managing to flay Tori Amos at the same time. This isn't a perfect album, as I've said, but it's a beautiful and totally original step forward, especially given the pop music we're offered these days. The visuals he's using for the record - the merry-go-round, the Peter Pan clothes and orange hair - I do not see this album breaking him much bigger. The music is worthy, but it's going to take listeners as he brave as he is to join him now. Whatever, The Magic Position is, without a doubt, a gift for his fans.

Patrick Wolf: Augustine



Stream this song on the player at the top of this page (5th song)

As the belltower blocks the summer light
All the seeds in our garden fight
To break and blossom, all to be adored
And look your skirt is torn
And there's blood on our sheets
As comes the long arm of the law
Fist tight, banging on the door
And knocking me down
On its way in
And I let him in

As I pass out into a dream
Of whooping cranes and wooden breams
Great white wings beating
In an attic, in a house,
In the dead of night
Singing

Oh! My Augustine, Augustine!
Oh! Is this forever, ever?
Oh, oh!
Sweet Augustine, Augustine
What does this mean
For us?

Does it mean that
I can never change my ways
And that's why, love, you shouldn't stay
Still you will and love me
Like a mother or a maid
Bringing you down, down, down on your brazen knees
Watering the worms and the weeds
Thinking, why does love leave me so damn cold?
Now I'm getting old
And is this what it should be?
Well...
Is it?

Oh! My Augustine, Augustine!
Oh! Is this forever, ever?
Oh, oh
Sweet Augustine, Augustine
Or do we kill this one tonight?

And now come the tears, heavy and hot
As it comes clear, this is all we got
As I hold you to my bed
Like a cancer or a curse
Now
Be my loving nurse
As we fall back into
the impossible dream

February 22, 2007

SEB meets PJ



Be sure to check out Sophie Ellis-Bextor's podcast on Popjustice (click on that last link for a cute pic of her the PJ office). There are a lot of good bits, but my favorite is what she used to say to baby Sonny when he started to crawl:

I love it when you crawl
But you never crawl at all

Listen to the Popjustice SEB podcast

Links: Read how Richard De Tricky met Sophie at the Nelly Furtado show. He wants you to know she put her arm around him Or you could just watch Sophie eat, fold a towel, make a sandwich and ya like a puppy here. God, she is a good sport. Better still, watch this Q&A session on C4. She is quite enigmatic. If I'd known her as a teen, I would have followed her around.

3 mos. until the album? Jeebus. The fire is burning now!

February 21, 2007

Cover story: Lucky Soul



Lucky Soul rocks the most deluxe artwork. It all looks so pretty on this blog, doesn't it?Above is the cover for the full-length album and below is the forthcoming single. I like the use of the tie shape logo and the way the guys always wear their natty bankrobber suits, while Ali features various vintage dresses in bright colors. The backdrop is always faded glamour. Now they just need to whip up some cool cocktail napkins to hand out as souvenirs at the shows...



The Great Unwanted album is due on April 9, with this 13 song tracklist: Add Your Light to Mine, Baby; One Kiss Don’t Make a Summer; Struck Dumb; Lips are Unhappy; My Darling, Anything; Get Outta Town!; The Great Unwanted; Baby I’m Broke; My Brittle Heart; Ain’t Never Been Cool; The Towering Inferno; It’s Yours; The Last Song.

For more on the band, read this interview. The new single is Add Your Light to Mine, Baby (video), due March 19. But first, the phenomenal title track...

Lucky Soul The Great Unwanted expired

Mixtape: From blown speakers



Big news on PopJustice regarding Lorraine. Hurrah! I agree with everything he says about fixing them.

Reviews coming up soon of Just Jack and Patrick Wolf...git yer Patrique icons here.

That new remix of Yoko Ono on Arjan is really quite marvy. Loooove how he says he "had the pleasure of meeting Yoko Ono for the second time a few weeks ago." Yeah, bitch? Well I fucked her! Just to see the apartment, of course. If you get that obscure reference, you get a prize.

The Jam are reuniting, minus Paul Weller! That makes sense, considering he wrote and sang the songs. Expect a turnout of 10.

Britpop Brunch:

The parade of post-Arctic Monkeys spawn marches on with a zillion new grim BritPop bands full of vaguely educated boys who cannot play their instruments or clean their faces.
Snowfight In The City Centre is one of the few I have liked.

WinterKids are a bunch of teenagers from Peaslake,wherever that is. I'd like them even more if they'd let the little sister sing everything. Who Am I Kidding? makes me want to sway in a laundrette. And yes, they have lush art direction.

Follwing this, note that I have a Britpop tag, but it'll take awhile to populate it. I also have a Norway/Sweden tag!

Back to Europop, the new Jay Jay Johanson is blah. Sorry! And I don't want to hear Belinda Carlisle warble shoddy chansons du merde.

Also high in suckage is the new Brett Anderson CD. I am sad to say that, I hoped the messageboards would be wrong.

My new lamp!

Matinee Club. Jeebus. More mistakes being made there than Jet Blue (in-joke for the 5 Americans who read this blog). I am not laying down $24 for a box that has the CD single, video and a vinyl set of mixes. Please.

M: The thing is: I'm the fucking boss

Later Wednesday, a sneak peek at the new Lucky Soul artwork and a new MP3 from them...

February 20, 2007

American Doll Posse



is the name of Tori's album. Oh. my. Due May 1.
Early summer tour info

The photo has some clues: Bible, word shame written on her hand, blood dripping... Maybe the old provocative Tori is indeed back.

February 19, 2007

The new Harry Potter?



Now that Danny Radcliffe is wagging his whippet at audiences in London, I nominate my we-met-in-October friend Richard Jones-Ellis-Bextor of The Feeling for the role of Harry Potter. That's a picture of him at the Brits (stolen from their blog) - he seems to be getting younger, yes? I actually like the hairstyle - it's like a mod combover. The slickness keeps it from being emo hair. Whatever, please read Paulie G's review of their latest show and be sure to admire Richard's wee ginger baybay, Sonny, here.
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PS: Any dishy comments on his arched brows?

PPS: I just had a Lion Bar, my fave, and some new tea - Republic Of Tea's decaf black vanilla-almond and it was shit. Tasted like fake vanilla. My fave tea is
Vanilla Comoro by Harney & Sons, who make most of XO's tea.

PPPS: Maria, Valentines was last week honey. Walk your ass to the mailbox in a more timely fashion. My love has come and gone! xosa

The new JT Leroy?

Is it just me or does the new Britney have potential to be the latest chick to portray writer JT Leroy in public?



Review Sarah Nixey's Sing, Memory



Sarah Nixey has it mastered. Her debut solo album Sing, Memory is a true surprise: an elegant, diverse pop record that steers Sarah toward the mainstream while maintaining intelligence and a sense of ice-cool style. I'd actually been worried it might end up a bit too... esoteric. It is cerebral, but not pretentious. Avant without being offputting. A woman who cites (indeed namechecks) Into The Groove as one of her favorite songs, Sarah Nixey cares as much about dance and pop music as she does about artiness.

I called a recent post This is Sarah Nixey Talking and voila, those are the first words on the record, a reference to her previous great moment on Black Box Recorder's Andrew Ridgeley. That's the song in which she spoke about Our Man From Wham being just a like a real live human being, a line that characterizes her subtlety and wit. Sarah did a lot of spoken vocals with BBR and there's less of that here. This is Sarah Nixey singing.

Sing, Memory is buoyed by two spoken interludes which Amurrrricans will eat up. God bless her crisp English diction. The interludes separate the album into two halves, like two sides of a vinyl disc.

Sarah wisely knows that in order to ask for an hour of our time she has to bring many colors. When I'm Here With You offers a retro-ish Felt Mountain sound, while last year's single The Collector is luxe, with its blossoming, catchy chorus. If you haven't seen the video, she rocks an iconic yellow dress as she's running away from... a man with the net, I suppose? The video furthers my theory that Sarah Nixey is the cool Francesca Annis of the electropop set. [ Lillie Langtry era, for those who geddit]

The dancepop gem on the album is Strangelove. In its original form, it was a bit wan, but the song came to life when Sarah and Co. commissioned a set of blazing remixes. My favorite is Mark Lodge's, far superior to any other version. I'd worried a bit that the CD would feature the original version - it doesn't. Instead we get the new "Sing" version, a squeegy dance edit with some pleasing hey heys and twist it inside outs.

The heart of the record is Sarah's masterpiece, the wintry Endless Circles. It's the most seductive kind of pop, revealing itself subtly after several listens. I reviewed this song in more depth here, with a sample you can play.

Other highlights include Hotel Room, which could be T Rex - if he were a beautiful woman, while Nothing On Earth channels early Depeche. Masquerade is also a standout: pop noir, building layer upon layer, until it eventually comes unbound in an epic final minute worthy of Bond credits. [again, details and sample here.]

If the album has any problem, it may be that it's a bit long, with 13 proper songs and 2 interludes. If I were to cut anything, I think it would have to be The Man I Knew and Nightshift, which are not bad, but don't necessarily pop or add a lot.

For her album closer, it might be expected that Sarah would turn it down. Instead, she blasts a wicked Human League cover, The Black Hit of Space, which closes the album on an arty electro high. Listen closely though, the song fits right into the post-mod now, with funny lines like "It had a futuristic cover that was straight from Buck Rogers."

Sing, Memory (cover) deserves your time. It's not an album that leaps out immediately... it gives you a little bit more each time you play it. It's a good sign that my favorite song keeps changing. I urge fans of Goldfrapp, Madonna and Imogen Heap to try Sarah's music. You won't be displeased.

Sing, Memory is out now on iTunes US/ UK, online shops and whatever decent brick'n'mortar record stores still stand.

February 18, 2007

New interview with Madonna



Madonna has given an interview to Sirius Radio and it's all music focused (yeah!). Listen to it here.

- She "underestimated" how hard the tour would be and how it would affect her life. The Confessions Tour was her favorite - she liked how physically close she was to the fans during this show.

- Bad news: She is clearly working with Pharrell Williams now. Don't even get me started.

- Right now she is listening to Gnarles Barkley and Justin Timberlake's CD, but she didn't like it when she first heard it and now she works out to it all the time.

- She says the word "whack" and that she's a "top" not a bottom. "Don't tell that to my husband."

- She is not a vegetarian. She has a "terrible sweet tooth."

- The interviewer comes out as a 43 yo queen!

- Sirius is so alterna that they end the interview playing Fighting Spirit.

The hot new Madonna fansite, btw, is Madonna Connexion. There you can see strange pics like this, which must date from around 2001.

February 17, 2007

New music: Anneli Drecker



First he brought me Bertine Zetlitz and Margaret Berger. Now he's brought me Anneli Drecker. The erudite Brittle Lemon of Tremble Clef has exquisite taste. What does he do? I think he flies his silver seaplane to a secret ice island where these women wear white DVF wrap dresses and play ambient disco pop. This post has two fantastic Anneli songs - my most favored is You Don't Have To Change.

Anneli's first solo CD, 2001's Tundra, was recorded with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and members of Cocteau Twins and Röyksopp. It's Bjorkian in its grand scope. One of the prettiest songs from that release, the Frozen-like All I Know, is included below. Celine Dion would do well to record this song. Her follow up, 2005's Frolic, featured a more pop-based sound that fans Bertine Zetlitz, Kate Havnevik et al will enjoy. It was recorded with Gareth Jones of Erasure and Depeche Mode fame. You can also hear her on Röyksopp's Melody AM album (singing Sparks).

And of course she had a band called Bel Canto for most of the 90's. You can buy her solo albums via CDON. They are a fortune on Amazon Marketplace. If anyone has any other retail sources or Scan/Nordic pop girls they want to spring on me, I am an open vessel...

Anneli Drecker You Don't Have To Change video

She Whose Name Must Not Be Said

I don't even want to put the new pictures on my blog. It will sully it. But if you have not seen what Miss Redneck Superstar has done to herself now, well it's kind of creepy. I don't think there is even one post on this blog that features her actual name. I am not a fan, never will be, and I do not want her crazies coming to comment. I do like some of the songs. What is worth dicussing is the mutually dysfunctional relationship she has with the tabloid media. She's the first star to grow up (cough) in this new age and now we are seeing the results of that. It took a village to create this mess.

People are still wailing and gnashing over Anna Nicole, a woman who, at her low times was viewed as a kaching cash pot rather than someone who needed help. True also of Whitney. "She's a trainwwreck! Film it!" Both, along with C-Love, helped to engineer their own downfall by surrounding themselves with dangerous people who did not have their best interests at heart. I feel guilty for ever watching their TV shows. Both Whitney and Anna have/had similar traits - you got the idea that they could be sweet if nurtured properly, but you also got the idea that they were manipulative junkies. The TV shows blurred or edited the reality of how difficult it can be to be in the presence of an addict and how many people suffer tangentially.

A few things about Miss Redneck - she seems to have entered freefall this past week and one would hope someone just kidnaps her and tries to save her. Sure, her ex-assistant is very right that you cannot save another person but maybe you can put them into a situation where they really have to save themselves and they have professional help doing it? I don't know what I would do to help her. I guess I don't understand how to weigh the risk of letting another person hit "rock bottom" - she's got two children and rock bottom could be death, so is that a risk worth taking? My instinct is to run for the hills in fear, I am afraid.

Many have survived before: Whitney (knock wood, it's early days), La Love, Robert Downey Jr., even Weiland! It can be done. So fans can carry on about her next album, but there is serious work to be done before that. Maybe music wll be a part of her therapy, but really, get this girl out of the camera's eye and into a safe place. That's all I have to say on this topic. I am trying to ignore Miss Redneck on this blog until she is healthy and has some pop song I can declare genius or shit.

Now, back to regular posts! Will try to do a review of the brilliant, sweet Lily Allen show asap.

The dirtiest clean I know



It's lunchtime and I am in l'office devouring the new Feist song, My Moon, My Man. She is truly brill. This 3-minute song is a whirling collage of jazz, pop, folk, banging cymbals. Fuck there's even some chiming surf guitar in there.
For those who don't know her magic, be sure to watch Mushaboom. I can't wait for the new album, due May 1... Leslie Feist makes me feel so urbane and together. So... erudite! I strut when I have her on my iPod.

You can find it via...

February 16, 2007

Tonight tonight


TONIGHT: XO GOES TO SEE LILY ALLEN.
Full report this weekend...

February 15, 2007

80's music: I want to take you on



Apparently it can take 20 years for a song to click. That’s called a grower, right? For some reason, I've become obsessed with the Pointer Sisters 1985 minor hit Dare Me. Not as good as Jump and certainly better than Neutron Dance, Dare Me is pop music played with Rick James-ian flair. I've listened to it non-stop on my iPod the last few days, but it took until today for me to realize that the song is a virtual blueprint for Tracey Thorn's new single It's All True. It has the same drum machine, the same squeegee synth flourishes that come and go in seconds, even the same fantastic live drums tumbling down through certain moments of the track. Yes, it’s a little tacky, but it’s also a killer pop tune that suddenly sounds really fresh, at least to my ears.

You can get Dare Me on iTunes US

Duran2: Not there man, it's no go



Duran Duran's new single sounds like it will be either dreck or dream. The title is old school Duran: Nite Runner. The drawback? It features Justin Timberlake. Ewwww.

That's a new photo of the band in the studio in January 2007. Bon, Simon Le Bon, has morphed into Rhys Ifans.

Cover story


Stevie Nicks' Crystal Visions is a hits CD/DVD. Love the old, pouty lipped photo. Is it any wonder she was famous for hoovering male (rock) golden gods of the 70's?



Oooh, supreme elegance from Leslie Feist. The whole thing reminds me of A&E's Agatha Christie Mysteries.

John Barrowman, now famous for his Doctor Who role and spinoff, but previously famous for an Internet photo of his cock in a hotdog bun. But what is going on here? Maybe a kneeling Stevie Nicks is just outside of the frame!? Turn it on its side and it looks like the famous Maxell ad.

February 14, 2007

Happy VD trolls.



We are having a big ice storm here in Washington. Fitting, no?

Singing a hymn to the great unwanted

Dig it! Lucky Soul return this week with two new tracks. One is a video for their forthcoming single Add Your Light To Mine, Baby and the other is the gorge title track of the forthcoming long-player opus The Great Unwanted.

Not so sure why they didn't do a full release for Ain't Never Been Cool because it is superior to the new track (watch below). The good news is the title track is fabulous, pounding pop music. By my estimation, the album, due in a few more months, will include...

I Ain't Never Been Cool
Lips Are Unhappy
My Brittle Heart
The Great Unwanted
One Kiss Don't Make A Summer

and this one... Add Your Light To Mine, Baby



Happy Valentines Day to all great unwanted single folk like me. You will not be ignored!

February 13, 2007

r'n'b Tuesday

For years I loved r'n'b music because deep inside I am... a phenomenal black woman. There was a lot of it to like in the early 90's, but slowly that well has dried up. This week I've been playing more r'n'b than I have in ages...



MARY

HRH M. J. Blige looked great and tore it up at the Grammy's. You can now download a beautiful version of Be Without You at iTunes US. This is a studio recording of the performance she gave Sunday night. It's both more organic and more orchestral and it climbs to an OTT ending.



MAXWELL

Major news! Today Maxwell releases his new single, Fistfull of Tears, from his new album Black Summer's Night. Checkout his myspace to hear it [at some point today]... 10:40 pm - thanks for nada Max!



KATHARINE

D'luvly got me into an amazing new Katharine McPhee / Babyface collaboration called Everywhere I Go that harkens back to the best of the Toni Braxton. This is what her whole CD should have been. Get it on iTunes US.



ELLIOTT

Go to AOL First Listen to hear the single and 3 clips

Elliott Yamin was my favorite of last year's Idol contestants. His debut/album is Movin' On and it's white choccie soul by way of John Legend and Craig David. I can't stand Legend anymore, so I hope Elliott will steal his fans and become rich, rich, rich. He's just ordinary people...

PS: This new version of Blogger has issues up the poonani.

February 12, 2007

Tasty like a French bon-bon

Robyn Konichiwa Bitches



A masterpiece from start to finish. Thanks to Robpop at Don't Stop The Pop, the number one fans of (and resource for) Robyn. My fave bit of the video is the French bon-bon part (which is also quite dirtaaay) and my fave part of the song has always been the last few seconds...

Bitchen Gwen's on TV



I see that Bitchen Gwen has once again co-opted Madonna's look, this time on Jimmy Kimmel this week (see below). Of course, Madonna stole it from Marilyn, so what comes around...

I considered getting tickets for the Gwen tour - infantile as it will probably be - but she's playing a shed here (outdoor) and I try to avoid those at all costs, if only for the clusterfuck of a traffic jam afterward. Anyway, I love how Gwen is a total girly girl and yet also kind of not girlish, like she might have played girls field hockey in highschool. This interview with Valley Girl Gwen is worth a moment....



Yes, I just switched the new Blogger. It was a hairraising moment, but I don't see any flaws yet.

February 10, 2007

Sophie Ellis-Bextor update



I was watching Sophie's Catch You video again, as I am wont to do, and decided to cruise around and see what's new avec Soph. She did Popworld this week, so expect a Youtube video shortly. In the meantime, we can gaze upon SEB [above] in Venice, in the maneater look. Below is her recent appearance at GAY with Dan and The Feeling. And below that is SEB and Sonny. Need I tell you who Sonny is and how unbelievably cute he is? I want a child NOW...a British one in patent leather shoes would be best.

May is too long to wait...for the album and my babaaay.



Sophie's collab with Fred Schneider (?! who knew?) is a song about "intergalactic love" called Supersonic. She says she doesn't really care about the recent leaks and is happy the fans like the songs. Hmmm...



PS: SEB sang Radio Gaga, a XO fave, on TV in England last week. Anyone have it?

XOvision v.3

Mark Ronson Recording the album Version



Not sure which track they are doing the strings for, but it sounds great. Mark is la bombe and this record is going to be huge. Especially on this blog.

Brett Anderson Love Is Dead



Finally, the official video. Two comments: 1) Brett needs to eat more food. He looks like Michael Jackson in the opening sihouette. 2) The vocals are too flat on the mix. It sounds like they've have been slapped on top - they need more air. That said, nice song.

The Duke Special Freewheel



Happy bears! My favorite song of the moment: an instant classic. Stick with it until the soaring chorus and you'll see what I mean. Actually,, this might be a slightly quieter mix - it sounds bigger on the MP3. Duke Special reminds me of Badly Drawn Boy and Mull Historical Society. A one-man show. More on him soon - he is all I play right now.

Tracey Thorn It's All True



Clever but I'd rather see her a wee bit more. Music in my ears and everything.

February 9, 2007

Written in the stars



Thanks to D'luv for sending me the info on Rufus Wainwright's new album, Release the Stars, coming out on May 15. Neil Tennant "executive produced" the album, but it's actually self-produced by Rufus. Want producer Marius DeVries mixed it (good!) Guests are Richard Thompson, Joan Wasser (isn't she Joan As Police Woman?) and the actress Siân Phillips.

Rufus is a great artist to be a fan of because he incredibly prolific. There are constantly little tracks being released for special projects, live tracks leaking, etc. But his album are gems. I firmly believe that Want One will be on all the lists in 2011 as one of the finest records of this decade. It is certainly one of my desert island discs and has never worn out.

Tracklist:

1 Do I Disappoint You

2 Going To A Town

3 Tiergarten

Tiergarten is a park in Berlin, though one wonders if there are layers of puns in that title.

4 Nobody's Off The Hook

5 Between My Legs
live video

When the rocket ships all fall, and the bridges, they all buckle
And everybody's packing up their station wagons
There's a number you can call, like a breast that you can suckle
And we quietly will exit as it all is happening again
'Cause there's a river running underground, underneath the town
Towards the sea,
That only I know all about
On which from this city we can flee
full lyric from live version

6 Rules And Regulations

7 I'm Not Ready To Love

8 Slideshow

9 Tulsa

10 Leaving For Paris
This song has actually already had an official live release...

I pray you won't follow through the crooked streets behind me
full lyric from live version

11 Sanssouci
Who will be at Sanssouci tonight?
The boys that made me lose the blues tonight, and then my eyesight
All together, playing games of cards
Gambling the tiny shards of brass, once my heart
full lyric from live version

12 Release The Stars

I don't shine if you don't shine



Watch The Killers new video!

I don't need to tell you that Read My Mind is how the whole Killers album should have sounded (ie: not like Springsteen). The video they've done for the new single is probably their best. Totally unpretentious, cool and funny. Hey, it's Japan! And what Madonna should have done with Jump.

To hear samples of the new Pet Shop Boys mixes or the song, go to Euphoric, the fab PSB fansite. The photo above is coutesy of Killers fansite Kill Me Now.

February 8, 2007

New York City lights


xo's new hat!

I love New York for its surprises. It's never dull - something unexpected always happens. I did my Paul Weller review, but I had some questions about the trip itself, so here is a point-by-point of my 24 hours in NYC last week and the things I remember...

The train ride that I have not taken for many years. Played
The Hours CD and new Tracey Thorn all the way there as I sat twisted around in my seat so I faced the window.

"Running into" a certain darlin' UK blogger in Starbucks and hanging with him (and the droll Darren-not-Daz!) for an hour. As so often happens with -err- celebs, he is taller than expected. I forgot to get an autograph...we did pose for a pic, which was good of Paul and truly shiteous of me. SO tough noogies, no pic of the "summit."

The amazing surprise snowstorm that showered down on us after the show as we walked to get a black-and-white-cookie before going to our hotel. NYC was silent and totally white. Snow falling so thick I could not see the taller floors of buildings we were passing.

Breakfast / hot tea at the new location of Alice's Teacup on the UES. 

S-h-o-p-p-i-n-g at the huge Strand Bookstore, amazing new Japanese clothing store Uniqlo and the Paul Wellerish mod store Ben Sherman, where I bought the fantastic XOish houndstooth cap above (on massive sale). 

Running into the Olsen Twins in Soho, looking very tiny, very overdressed for a weekday afternoon and very, very rich. 

The usual pilgrimage to Magnolia Bakery, though I have to say that, after carefully taking a box of 4 cupcakes home, they sucked. Something was off in this batch. 






Rockstar makeovers, volume 1

Mick Hucknall, recent live show:



Mick Hucknall, international playboy pop star:



I would laugh more if 1) I hadn't already been chastising my own trolls for making fun of a pop singer's looks and 2) if the worst picture ever taken of me had not turned up in my email last week. Or maybe I am a big ol' hyprocrite because bwwwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah like Yoda he looks, but cute not as!

February 7, 2007

Next listen: Sarah Nixey



My first favorite from the promo for Sarah Nixey's new Sing, Memory album - and perhaps the most accessible track she has ever done - is the panoramic Endless Circles. The song has an interesting structure with three components: the narrative verses, a slowly building "pre-chorus" (you cahn't win, you cahn't lose) and the swirly, uplifting actual chorus. You'll hear all the parts on the sample below.

Endless Circles is laden with gorgeous details: the backing vocals on the aforementioned "pre-"chorus, the live drums that briefly lead into each chorus proper, the crickety synth that comes in at 2:51, the warmth with which she sings the chorus. Sometimes Sarah does a chilled talk/sing thing, but she jettisons that on the chorus of Endless Circles for fully emotional singing and her vocal seems more honest for it.

It sounds hyperbolic to say it, but the whole song is monumentally beautiful. A tiny glass of Port raised to Sarah and James.

Sarah Nixey Endless Circles



Note that Sarah's album is available now on iTunes UK and US. My review will be up on Valentine's Day and the CD will be out on Feb. 19.

Who puts me in the magic position darling?



Patrique seems to have switched from riding a taupe deer to riding a bucktoothed yellow giraffe. Bless. Meanwhile, for some mystical reason, Patrick Wolf's new CD is already on iTunes UK. If you dwell in the UK, you can also buy a new hidden track called The Marriage - this comes as a surprise to everyone - which is 2:46 of dense folk layers and beats.

The Magic Position is out on February 27 in the UK and May 1 in the US. Expect much online creaming as we approach.


PS: I was sickly today, so home. Hence the extra posts.

Tracey: Right here once more



Less than a month until Tracey Thorn releases for her first new music in a 8 years (and her first solo album in about 25!). Her video is out now - it's clever, if a little disappointing because Tracey is so tiny in it that you can't see her. Whatever, she has maintained herself in spite - or because - of 3 children. See the evidence below.

Meanwhile, Tracey has a very funny post on her myspace page. Check out the best bit here...


Ben and I have a new game, which should be called Competitive Airplay, or something. His first release on his new alt-rock label, strange feeling, is a track by the Figurines called Silver Ponds. It's going very well so far, so we have these conversations at dinner, which are very polite and mutually supportive, but with a subtle, and hilarious, edge, only detectable to each other.

Ben: So we got 3 plays on Steve Lamacq this week.
Me: Wow, that's fantastic. (Pause)
Me: My video is going down very well at MTV
Ben: Great news! (Pause)
Ben: So. Did I tell you? The band are doing a session for xfm?
Me: Fantastic. (Pause)
Me: Dixon is really playing the Martin Buttrich remix of It's All True apparently!
Ben: That's excellent.

And so on, and so on.....We need a pencil and paper to keep score really. You can play too, all you need is a partner or friend who does the same, or similar, job that you do, and you compare recent successes! Good luck to you. May the best man win.

Review: The Hours' Narcissus Road



Sprung fresh from absolutely nowhere, The Hours arrive with a sterling pop-rock debut. Who are they? Where did they come from? It’s just so unexpected to find a group this good with so little buzz. [ed: That sounds more backhanded than intended!]

Being a lazy fuck, I recently wrote to Torr and said, "Who should I be paying attention to?" and he sent back a link to The Hours myspace page, telling me to listen to the gorge Back When You Were Good. I did and - in one of those crazed music fan moments - I scurried to find the full-length CD. It was released Monday in finer UK stores.

The Hours are Antony "Ant" Genn and Martin Slattery. They have a musical "pedigree" that includes working with Pulp, Elastica and the late Joe Strummer, among others. They're far from newbies and you can hear that in these 11 songs. What a joy to play a record that has been properly "cooked." The songs are loaded with moments that elicit “Oh I love this bit!” comments. Bridges slip into different tempos or beats, swooning codas and chants come and go.

Genn's lyrics are this band’s strong suit. Take this line from Love You More, a song that channels a stew of Bernard Sumner and Babybird vocalisms in its grimy verse: “I love you more than Tony Soprano / For those who do not know / that’s a fuck of a lot!” None of it is namby pamby - they have a love of the word fuck, sometimes pronounced fok and sometimes featuring the word flying added in front.

Standout tracks – there is not a duff one in the bunch – include previous single Ali In The Jungle, a passionate "empowerment" tune. If you read about Antony Genn's background, it's clear that he's of the dust-yourself-off variety. This album opener provides the first of many roaring choruses that practically taunt you to sing along: "Like Ludwig, Van - how I loved that man, well the guy went deaf and didn't give a fuck, no."

Against a syncopated beat and some nice oooh ooohs, the energetic title track describes a woman caught up in her own drama. You know the type, “...so unaware of the things she does / She reminds me of that replicant that did not know what she was.” Sounds like a single. In fact, one hopes The Hours will get a seal of approval via a diss from a jealous Noel Gallagher.

Anthemic new single Back When You Were Good is what Keane should be doing but aren’t. Just the type of song that housewives might sing - it's fucking catchy - not noticing how the lyric whips between wistfulness and resentfulness. After all, the songwriter just called his mother a cunt in The Guardian.

The piano based Icarus is redolent of most of the tracks– relatively clutter-free verses alternating with massive choruses. Ballad I Miss You is Elton-worthy and sentimental: no sarcasm in this love song.

Upper Room fans should pay attention to Murder Or Suicide – it’s the type of song they sadly never graduated to. Dig the tempo change about 4 minutes in – it’s a tease that leads you into a literally pounding 2-minute finale. Must be amazing live.

Note that the CD single of Ali In The Jungle has a shiveringly dramatic orchestral version of Ali called The Greatest Comeback. No lyrics, just flying strings. Bravo to Stop Me If You Think... for being the first to notice that song back in November 2006.

If you like bands such as Keane, Gene and Travis, I urge you to get this album. Shy yours eyes from the ill-fitting Damien Hirst skull artwork (though he did help pay for the album to be made!), there is a beautiful record inside the sleeve that is one of the most consistent and playable pop/rock albums of the past few years.
________________________________

Listen to 4 songs mentioned above at The Hours on myspace.

Read about their drug addled youth in The Guardian

The Hours tour the UK in March and Narcissus Road is out now

February 5, 2007

Review: Paul Weller live in NYC, Jan 30, 2007



So, Tuesday's Paul Weller show at Irving Plaza was amazing. The crowd was filled with Brits (xo xo!) and natty looking people. I defy anyone to say the eight song Style Council set he opened with was nothing less than phenomenal. Shout To The Top, Speak Like A Child, My Ever Changing Moods, even a piano-based It's A Very Deep Sea. Quality songs that sound even better now, set against the piteous British charts of 2007.

The bulk of the show was a career retrospective, all great, especially The Jam songs. Tremendous audience participation on those. The reaction to That's Entertainment clearly thrilled Paul, who exclaimed "Fucking awesome!" at the end. I was happy to hear Above The Clouds and realized the new songs, From The Floorboards Up particularly, sound like old classics live.

There was a great moment at the end of the show, as I jumped up and down like a pogo stick to A Town Called Malice: a cute girl in front of me spun herself around and scanned the crowd immediately around her, taking in the moment. She looked right at me with a sort of beatific smile. I love you cute girl! It was very music-brings-the-people-together, as good shows often are.

Wee Paolo Nutini came onstage for Thinking About You and I have never seen a performer look so deeply uncomfortable onstage. Arms crossed, hair over face, no visual contact with Weller or the audience. He's only like 20, though, and it was a 35+ crowd. I credit him a decent live voice...

I am sad to say that Weller fans are not above bad behavior. There was a clutch of bottle blonds who barged in front of me, drinks in gesticulating hands, over from England and thinking they owned Weller. Making fools of themselves fighting with New York women and stepping all over me. I didn't crack, but if those tired bitches are reading this, I have one thing to say: piss off back to Camden you skanky old slappers.

The full set list: It's A Very Deep Sea, Headstart For Happiness, Speak Like A Child, Down In The Seine, Man Of Great Promise, My Ever Changing Moods, Long Hot Summer, Shout To The Top, Peacock Suit, Out Of The Sinking, From The Floorboards Up, Into Tomorrow, Above The Clouds, Amongst Butterflies, Porcelain God / Walk on Gilded Splinters, Butterfly Collector, Thinking of You (w/Paolo Nutini), That's Entertainment (with a false start!), Here's The Good News, Broken Stones, The Changingman, Foot of the Mountain. Encore: Come On Let's Go, I Wanna Make It Allright, Town Called Malice

Soon, more details on what else happened in New York, including my celebrity run-in...


Photo courtesy of this fine fan.