July 31, 2007
July 30, 2007
I've been uninspired to write anything lately. Busy with life, which is good right? But I need good music to inspire something.
If you've not read Tricky Richard's review of the Barbra Streisand concert, do it now. He did such a great job of understanding and then describing what it is like to be a fan of an artist for many, many years - a lifetime - as both the fan and the artist age. He is not a longtime Barbra fan, but he gets it because music means so much to him. My sweet friend Rebecca also went to see this Barbra tour last year and agreed with his review - she wrote that to me in her pretty script in the package I received today, Barbra's recent double live CD.
I have to admit that when I put the album on, I was taken aback by the changes in Barbra's voice. The crystalline quality is not there and her range is much lower, deeper. It's actually husky. Eww. Who is this singer? For a few minutes it was like meeting someone from your distant past. You're briefly thrown by the changes in their face: the way their mouth doesn't look as young anymore, new lines on the face, grey hair. But soon these things start to blend into their personality and become invisible. You start to see the person you always knew.
My favorite Barbara Streisand song may be Michel Legrand's What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life. More than the lyric, I am drawn to the melody and the performance. It's incredibly beautiful. Do you know the experience of hearing a song for the first time and feeling deja vu? It sounds so trite, but some of you will understand that. It's chemical, the way the music just seeps into and under your skin.
For all of my life I've been tapped into some source of melancholy, but it's not something I often express. I tend to it through music, as I've written before. You know how it goes: the one who doesn't cry in real life, but always cries in movies or at concerts.
I discovered this song, though I'd known Barbra's music for years, in 1990, when I was briefly out of school and working. It was the heighth of Fall and I'd drive around with this boom box on the floor of my old car, playing cassettes. I'd bought this cheap Babs tape and started playing this song a lot. I kept nearly wrecking the car as I reached down to rewind the tape (God, what a pain cassettes were). Everything was crisp outside and this song is nothing if not autumnal.
So I wanted to include Barbra's recent live version of What Are You Doing here on this blog. While the original vocal was this "bravura" performance that climbed all over the scales, and yet remained very seductive, the new version is wiser. Rebecca brought this up, that Barbra's more burnished voice gives the lyric a more reflective feeling. The final lines, "All I ever will recall of my life is all of my life with you" wreck me every time. They read terribly, but when you hear them sung... oy vey esmir.
Barbra Streisand What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life EXPIRED
There are so many music fans who will never approach Barbra because, you know, she may not be too cool. Maybe her music meant something to their parents or even their grandparents. I know this is true for Rebecca. Maybe one day you will play a song your mother liked and you'll get it, finally, and you will not have the luxury of calling her to tell her. That is melancholy. This song might not mean anything to you now, but when you are 60 or 70 years old, who knows? Think that far ahead, do it now.
Side note, the opening comments she makes ("I feel it, I feel it") she sounds exactly like the comedian Sandra Bernhard imitating a diva. It's uncanny.
July 29, 2007
On the Popjustice Forums, commenter Poppin Fresh talks about reports that Her Highness Dion is working with NeYo and Timbaland on her new album:
Yawn yawn yawn. Everyone's working with Timbaland. I'm half expecting my next phone conversation with my Nana to contain her saying 'I'm off to the studio later to lay down some beats with Timba.'LOL. I doubt Timbaland is really working with Celine, but I appreciate the truth of the comment above!
La Bex at T4
A treasure trove of Sophie Ellis Bextor remixes can be found here. What I recommend:
Take Me Home (Jewels And Stone Mix)
Much better than the original, it adds the string samples from Cher's original version - Sophie mentioned it as a fave this week.
Catch You (Moto Blanco Club Mix)
They are always reliable. This 8 min mix makes the song more sleekly clubby and shimmering - it drops the punky Blondie spirit.
Music Gets The Best Of Me (Flip'n'Fill Remix)
One of my all time favorite pop songs, this mix strips the original melody - gasp! - but it comes up with somthing decent in its place. 5 hyperfast minutes.
July 28, 2007
Here is Legs Ellis Bextor singing Murder On The Dancefloor:
and doing a good job of it!
Girls Aloud did Sexy! No, No, No but I wasn't that impr-pr-pressed:
you cahn't even see them very well.
July 26, 2007
I've had the Aqualung album Memory Man since perhaps January and I was a bit disappointed in it. Aqualung is basically a nice "bloke" named Matt Hales (above) with attendant collaborators. They've had a couple of minor hits including the truly classic Strange And Beautiful (watch it). Memory Man's lead single Pressure Suit (a bit of a joke there, given the band's name) was a nice pop/rock track with some intensity to it, but the album did not leap out at me, so I failed to notice that there is an amazing piece of music at track 10.
The 6-minute Garden Of Love would be a pretty ballad even if it ended at 3:35. Instead, something beautiful happens: the song comes to a dead stop and takes a turn into an extended coda that's sung so passionately by Paul Buchanan. Paul is the lead singer of The Blue Nile, one of my all-time favorite groups. The way he sings, it's like the sound of crying. Paul has said he writes at the speed of one song per year, so his presence illustrates that Hales would be quite capable of working with him... I'd rawther it not be 2014 when we get the next Blue Nile album.
Paul's piece is a good lyric:
There's only so much that a heart can grow
Then everything else starts to overflow
You're young and in love,
Back then there was no way of knowing
So we pushed and we pulled
With our nerves of steel
You had the pedals and I had the wheel
And the terrible truth is
We never knew where we going
Aqualung Garden Of Love featuring Paul Buchanan EXPIRED
Matt Hales says the song was musically inspired by a David Sylvian album and the lyrics were an homage to William Blake and Beckett. Okay. ? Hales is actually sort of like a less obtuse Thom Yorke (of Radiohead). I am sure he cringes at the comparisons, but it has to be said, primarily of the vocals. You can watch videos for two more Memory Man songs, Pressure Suit and Cinderella.
It may literally be a high school scene. I suspect this board is filled with teenagers, bless them, which means a certain ratio of immaturity mixed in with the sharp kids. Krissy and I were talking about how the problem with the Internet is not really about predators - it's about bad behavior with no consequences. People behaving toward each other in a way that they should/could not in real life. Doing it because they can or because bullying makes them feel better. Have you noticed that meanest commenters are sometimes the most frequent? The "person" who called me a cunt has posted 3,656 times since August 2006. ???!
What's more interesting are people who follow suit. I ignored the offending post and answered one I felt was a bit more fair and that was the last of my comments. Still, there was a comment after mine that was sort of like beating a dead horse. I suppose this person thought I was already metaphorically slaughtered, so why not lay it on further? It's one thing to say something stupid. It's another thing to be transparent in your ass-kissing/ need to conform. I'm sure I've done it, but I never want to be so craven.
I write this not for sympathy or lectures about how I should know better about fan boards. Of course I should! That doesn't mean I am not intrigued by that culture or not interested in artist minutiae. What it does mean is I need to remove all emotion and sort of dumb it down if I post on those boards, lest the greasers get their tire irons. If I am going to be upset, let it be by someone that is standing in front of me - not a bunch of wires and light.
July 24, 2007
The Advocate published one of the best Madonna interviews ever done way back in May 1991 when she was promoting Truth Or Dare. If you've never read it, do, as it's one of those interviews that combines juicy bits with something a little more intelligent - it's not the same old shit. The writer, Don Shewey, deserves all praise for getting something unique out of one of the most written-about celebrities.
Note that it ends with Madonna reciting one of Anne Sexton's best poems. Madonna has always been self-educated about art and literature. While the sad paparazzi girls of today waste their lives doing drugs and Fred Segal, Madonna seemed - and seems - to want to actually learn.
Madonna The X-Rated Interview Part I spread over 3 pages
Madonna The X-Rated Interview Part II spread over 3 pages
That photo above was taken by Steven Meisel when she was doing her 1991 Vanity Fair shoot. That's makeup artist Francois Nars with her.
I did used to say he had a certain rentboy quality! There's nothing wrong with a little - or a lot of - skin, but the irony of this, after his recent public slam on Mika (Patty called him a twat) is boringly au courant. Celebs doing silly shit to get attention. Patty needs to go to his little Cornwall house on a cliff before he slips all the way into media whoredom with his friend Peaches Geldof.
He's made it so easy to forget there is a truly amazing album he's touring for.
Let's move on. Nothing to see here, heh heh! Patrique just did a tender review of Lily Allen for the Times.
July 22, 2007
I don't need to tell you what I think of Our Girl Shirl: it's all over this blog.
Be sure to catch the August issue of Instinct Magazine for my review of the new hits record. I have to be forthright and say that it's one of my favorite things I've written! It's very short, but super kawai. I believe though, that it will not end up online (I'll check with my Lou Grant-esque editor!).
July 21, 2007
Beyonce who? Janet who? Above is a shitty youtube rip for Rihanna's new video Don't Stop The Music. This is the next best song on the album after theotheroneyouknow. If you haven't heard it yet, the final minute (at about 3:45) is a fucking killer or, to quote Mariah Carey, a stone groove.
Another fantastic summer song, I like the way she do's it.
From DaddyCool, on the Popjustice Forums talking about the new Girls Aloud single Sexy! No, No, No...
I think I have played it too much. I always do it and I always regret it. I need to leave it alone for a few days now. It's like masturbation. Girls Aloud are like a wank. Biology being a ''Oh my god, I came in my eye!'' kind of wank and Long Hot Summer being a ''Was that it?'' type.
Hear the jizz-inducing song here. Official video not out yet.
photo from Irish Times, 2007. Click to make it huge.
July 20, 2007
July 19, 2007
This week was the release of Suzanne Vega's amazing new album called Beauty & Crime. Note that it was produced by Jimmy Hogarth, Sarah Nixey's man-about-the-house. Read my review here.
Alison Sudol just released her debut album, One Cell In The Sea, under the "band" moniker A Fine Frenzy. It's a great album, but if you just want to sample some tracks, try Lifesize (very Keane-like), Come On Come Out, Rangers and Almost Lover.
Hard Fi's new single Suburban Knights is a big-ass disappointment. Watch the video here. The album better make up for this one.
I've heard Sexy! No, No, No... by the now-royal Girls Aloud and it's a fine track, if not groundbreaking. I am sure it will grow on me. Fuck, even Something Kinda Ooh grew on me.
Did you see how well Sara Bareilles's album did on iTunes for 6.99? Read it here in the WSJ. Record companies take note! I am writing my review of the album right now, but let me just say it's a debut fantastique.
I agree with Zeon that Aussie band Sneaky Sound System has potential. He has their song UFO and the album is on iTunes.
Tonight I heard some decent Alexis Strum songs (from the unreleased Cocoon) I'd never heard before. A reminder to all peeps that Alexis has a new band called Bo Pepper that has potential to have the same kind of crossover indiepop impact as Dragonette. They have a great tune called Buses.
Speaking of which, where is the Dragonette album?
Delayed albums. That reminds me: I can't wait for everyone to hear this song by Amerie called Crush. On the one hand it's a great Madonna-circa-1985 pastiche. On the other hand, it has one of the most shiteous vocals I've ever heard on record. Girlfriend cannot sang. Amerie must've spilled some Dom on the autotune that day.
Forthcoming albums I am currently frothing for: the Verve's forthcoming reunion, Roisin Murphy, Richard Hawley, Darren Hayes, Alicia Keys and Kate Nash. The last one is a wild card. I detest her first single and love her second.
I am recently wandering back to Bedingfeld. Natasha's NB album has some tracks that might have passed you by before. Smell The Roses is my current fave - go back and check it out.
Homeclectic introduced me to Amy MacDonald, an earnest 19yo Scottish girl (let's hook her up with lippy Paolo Nutini for a Live Lounge duet of Endless Love!). See his post about Amy - various other bloggers I read have covered her too. I love all the songs Homo posted and recommend her new single, Mr. Rock'n'Roll, which you can watch here. Album out in like 2 weeks.
As per usual, I changed my mind about the Prince album being potentially good. Will do a mini-review soon. I do love the rap/funk song Chelsea Rodgers, though. It sounds like it could have been on the stamen-as-cock covered Lovesexy.
In the end, only one thing really matters. And it's not love. It's the news that there is a $240 box set for Captain & Tennille coming out soon!
July 18, 2007
Songs Of Mass Destruction, out October 2nd. Producer Glen Ballard. Here is the press release:
Songs Of Mass Destruction showcases an artist who is unafraid of pushing boundaries and challenging herself. Annie delivers thought provoking and intelligent lyrics matched with her distinctive pop sound. She says that this album is the closest she’s been so far to that authentically raw and emotional place, infused with the contrasts of beauty, yearning and sadness. The result, from the haunting introductory song, Dark Road (the single) to the closing epic, Fingernail Moon, is a sumptuous musical soundscape within which Annie's soulful voice shines and soars.Meanwhile, it is TRUE that the song called Sing has Madonna, Sarah McLachlan, Celine Dion, Fergie (eww), Faith Hill, Pink, Dido, Gladys Knight, kd Lang, Angelique Kidjo, Bonnie Raitt, Shakira, Melissa Etheridge, Anastasia (eh), Joss Stone (eww), KT Tunstall, etc on it!
Dan and Richard in Richard and Sophie's house (the "shoe room") tinkering on the new Feeling album, which sounds like it will not be out in 2007. Anyhoo, the caption on the blog says, "In vests." Is that what the Brits call wifebeater t-shirts? We would not want to call them wifebeaters in this case, since we know who Mrs. Richard Jones is. Speaking of...
Sonny, Sophie and Richard Jones in London. How cute. However, Sophie's whole ensemble is a bit questionable. The coat with the dress, the nurse's shoes. We'll let her off the hook because she has solid fashion karma.
Another grammar issue noted on The Feeling blog: the newly bearded Richard refers to an event he took Sonny to as "family orientated."
British English: Family orientated.
American English: Family oriented.
Now I suppose British English is the Mother Tongue and we should follow it, but in this case I am with Los Americanos.
July 16, 2007
Courtney Love is a walking cadaver. A zombie. A Keith Richards. She is now so emaciated that whatever she is doing to keep the weight off is creating the same kind of facial wasting (of fat) that HIV drugs cause. Watch part of the incoherent interview above, from London on July 7, and look at her sunken cheeks and maybe you'll see what I mean.
Now, I am a huge Courtney fan, but she needs to eat. It is pointless to do a diet (or whatever) like that because it cannot be sustained. She also needs to run to the dentist and get rid of those awful veneers. They're what's creating the weird toothy/horsey look. Hillary Duff had them for awhile and got them fixed. Last I saw, that country girl Leann Rimes had them too. Horrid.
Let's look at Court in her prime...
Still can't wait for her record. Courtney needs to keep the focus on the music. If she'd chill on the obsessive body drama, people like me would not be commenting on her weight. I'd say she's ready to star in a bio about Janice from The Muppets, but that would be a slam on Janice.
I sheepishly admit I saw this video on Perez.
July 15, 2007
July 14, 2007
On September 3, Girls Aloud release their new single, Sexy! No, No, No
New album in November. Music is saved.
UPDATE: An interview last night with my favorite (by far) Girl, Nadine Coyle, on Irish TV's Saturday Night With Miriam. Pt 1 is below and pt 2 is here. She's really gracious given what this Miriam woman puts her through and she has the most insane accent... she's in Gayrls Alod, finishing her turr and she loves Ayreland. At the end of the piece she sings a few bars of Fields Of Gold. The original video of that, from 2001, is further down - if I had seen it live on TV at the time, I would have cried like a baby for an hour afterward. When she finally releases that song as a single, she will be rich rich rich.
Fields Of Gold:
July 13, 2007
I recently had a proposition for spooning. Specifically. Spooning. And I was thinking later that so much of what's really going on with dating, hooking up, or the variations on that theme, has more to do with human contact than it does with anything more... prurient. It may be subconcious. I've witnessed people stay in bad relationships because of the things that no one sees. So much of a relationship is completely private - cuddling, whispering, lying around, resting a chin on a shoulder. People find it hard to walk away from that. In the end, what's more real? The arguments or the sweetness?
This is what Kate Nash's hit UK single Foundations is about - certainly the video makes that point. For a long while I was bovvered by Kate's similarities to Lily Allen, but this song is undeniably strong. Lyrically, melodically - and the video is an actual piece of filmmaking. It has some great, fleeting details, like when she's decorating the cake and he's taking off the raspberries. The way she looks at the goldfish when she sings "in front our friends." Or the spooning watches.
My favorite lyric? Isn't it obvious?
You said I must eat so many lemons, coz I am so bittah.
I said I'd rawther be with your friends, mate, coz they are much fit-tahh.
Oh yes, she is 19 years old.
Popjustice has a great interview today with the new Donny & Marie, expat D'luv-lookalike Mark & Britwhippersnapper Lily. How much weed do you think passes through their fingers? Whatever, I love love love both their albums and all their songs together.
Be sure to watch the video below of their new Oh My God collaboration.
Mark and Lily as they really are...
July 12, 2007
What a beautiful day it is here in DC. Sunny and blue and almost chilly. I am not the first one to notice that if you just allow yourself to be still, you see things you would not normally notice. Precipitously, I have the day off. I decided to walk over to the Starbucks in this square across the street - it is actually quiet in the morning. I sat under these pretty fuschia trees with my tea and I actually got cold from the wind. I saw the most beautiful tall dog (not sure what kind, something exotic) walking with a man. A woman with a toddler stopped to talk with the man about the dog and her little boy was quite pleased.
Normally it's just a place to get through on the way home. Not so pretty. This morning it seemed a little nicer than that. Anyway, today is a wordy post. A mix of personal commentary and musings on artists and "current affairs" in music.
A year ago this time I was in Boulder. You can read about my trip here (I added more to these posts). After much nervousness before the trip, that experience turned out to be really wonderful. I LOVED Boulder and the people I met there and yearn to go back. Le sigh, as they say. It's memories of that trip that compelled me to go outside and sit this morning.
Can I (too) admit I don't really care about the Spice Girls reunion? Nor do I give a shit about Titney releasing (or not) a new CD. I think I am a little too old for her or something. It's like a language I don't speak.
Not sure who knows I am a librarian by profession. NYT just did a piece on why it's now considered a cool job. I knew that all along!
In an earlier post, I expressed disappointment over two artists I have usually loved. One was Tori Amos and the other was Bjork. I should say that in the feedback, I heard people praise the Tori CD, but not one defense for the Bjork record.
I have a new baby. In my life, I mean. Not my own baby. Although, when she is ready to be taken from her mother's arms (in the picture above), I will probably parade Sophie around as if she is my own. I did that with my godson, but he is now 16 and much bigger than me. No carrying him anymore. Viva la Sophie (and Michael!).
On the indie music front, I sold my Voxtrot CD. Didn't love it, bar Steven. I decided to keep my The National CD though. Very good.
Something I cannot live without: Pied de Pepper foot lotion from LUSH. Have you tried it? Your feet smell like cloves and other spices. You might want to eat my feet if you could smell them.
I am struggling a bit with the new Crowded House CD. It has some great songs, but it's essentially quite dark and I when I try to play it, I tend to go, "Ummm, let's play Freemasons now!"
I have wheels again. I went to buy the iTrip car thingy and was aghast that the little fucking thing cost $50! I have yet to fork over the cash, so I've been driving around with CDs and CDRs.
If I can gather my pennies, I may come to England in November. I hope. It is unclear what my itinerary will be, though it will include a chunk of time in the Lake District. I cannot go to the UK without going to London, my favorite city in the world.
The new Prince record is a mixed bag but probably has more decent songs than has last few. I think I'll do a Prince CD tracklist that covers the last few albums and makes one solid album. Stay tuned.
Imogen Heap is deep into her new album. See her iBlog at her site. Song titles include Tidal, Little Bird and Body Double . Not sure if it will make it out this year, but I am excited for it and I am thrilled her last CD did so well.
Last weekend my father saw the original picture of me that is colorized in my profile for this blog. He said, "When was that taken?" I said, "February 1st." He said, "What year?" I said, "THIS year!" and he said, "Oh. You look thinner there." So this week my big snack has been sugar free popsicles. And some cookies. And a shared piece of cake yesterday. Oy.
Did you hear the Verve are back together? This is big news. It'll be interesting to see what they come up with and how it differs from Ashcroft's solo work.
I am so terribly sick of all things George W. Bush. It's actually hurtful. He is relentless in his desire to damage not only America, but vast portions of the world. That said, it is looking more and more like the 2008 election is the Democrats to lose. We may have a female president by default! I am not a huge Hillary fan, but I'll go there if need be.
I am particularly angered by the cavalier way that Chertoff, the Homeland Security head (who looks like Nosferatu), blithely said he has a gut feeling Al Qaeda is going to launch a terrible attack here. And what is being done about this, sir? And didn't the Bush adminisitarion crow last week about how safe we are and how they are the reason there has been no US attack since 9/11? Urgh. This is spoiling my reflective mood.
My new, wildly speculative Madonna theory: I am now in the she'll-release-in-2007 camp. I predict an album that is largely Justin Timberlake collabs (OY) mixed with a few Stuart Price ditties (YAY). We'll see. I worry that Esther is trying too hard to be a chart-topper when she really needs to run off and do some writing with Patrick Leonard and Joe Henry and then have Stuart produce and maybe Air arrange something ambient around a few songs. Hey Poo is so dire. Sorry. Live Earth did not improve my opinion. Those lyrics. GACK!
More importantly, Sophie's feet (below), which will one day march into the world. I think her mother will fondly remember them as they are in this picture. No matter how you old grow, there is comfort in the fact that you will always be someone's baby.
July 11, 2007
Siouxsie Sioux Into A Swan
How to make a video with no budget. Just some effects, a lot of slap and much star power. This song should do well for Siouxsie, who - like her goth pop compatriot Marc Almond - just turned 50.
Sophie Ellis Bextor Today The Sun's On Us
Wow. Not my favorite from Soph. It sort of squanders the location (unlike her Catch You video) and she looks creepy in the shower scene. The effect is of an ill person forced into a shower. This single is a mistake IMO. It is not a summer song and If You Go could have had some great mixes launched on the web.
Mark Ronson & Lily Allen Oh My God
I've recommended this video to so many people that I decided to post it here. A cute Jessica Rabbit moment. The best bit is obvious, when Lily slinks over to the table and slurps the drink out of the glass with a straw.
Alicia Keys Love (live at Live Earth)
Alicia performed this new song from her Oct '07 album (I think called As I Am). Word is that this song is a collaboration with Linda Perry and the chorus does suggest that. Alicia looks great! If you don't have her Diaries album, it is near perfect. The kind of album Annie Lennox should make.
July 10, 2007
New Siouxsie! Brilliant cover! Rocking song. Do you like her new look? Video here.
Evidence as to why I called Vol 1 a cash cow! Do we need this? Yet another great picture... and more old school shit with the song titles listed on the cover.
July 8, 2007
Looking At Them recently did a post on Arcadia, my fave Duran Duran spinoff group. Their CD So Red The Rose, released for Christmas 1985, was better than many Duran albums; I actually play that album more than any "D2" disc. I love Election Day, the wintry Goodbye Is Forever, and The Promise in particular.
Nick and Simon originally intended to do an album of cover songs while John and Andy tinkered with the meh Power Station, but it grew into something more and Roger joined them for the recording. I'm not entirely sure what musically separates So Red from a Duran album, bar the lack of John Taylor and the extreme amount black hair dye doused on Simon and Nick's 20-something heads. The sound is lush, but ultimately cut from the same cloth as 1984's clangy Wild Boys. Some of it sounds a bit dated now, but there were some risks, like the serious and arty The Promise, which featured Sting on backing vocals.
So Red The Rose is available on CD for a good price at Amazon Marketplace - and it has gorge cover art - but it's also at iTunes US and UK.
The group did a lot of videos for the project, three of which are at Looking At Them. I think Simon looks very Rufus Wainwright-y in the completely wrong video for Goodbye Is Forever. Below is a special Making Of they did for that one...
After recording, Roger Taylor dropped away (to the loony bin?) and Nick and Simon were left to promote the album alone, as they did below, performing Goodbye Is Forever on Terry Wogan:
You can watch numerous Arcadia videos at marcmassive's youtube space, like this interview with Paula Yates. in which Nick seems to be paying homage to Simon's Hungry Like The Wolf look.
Meanwhile, back to the future, Duran Duran ...
First, they have a new song out - a version of Instant Karma (at iTunes US) on the new John Lennon charity record. More importantly, their album is due out in Fall and has a good title: Red Carpet Massacre. Clever boys.
They played potentially meh new single Nite Runner (click that to hear it) at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York a few weeks ago, but not (as rumoured) at Live Earth. By now most trolls know that Justine Timberrod and Timbaland worked on the CD - oh dear - as did Nate 'Danja' Hills. Sounds like an R'n'b Massacre to me. Whatevah, cuz Simon looked good in the studio (at almost 50 years old!):
Their frequently updated website lists some of the other new songs: Skin Divers (with, barf, Timbaland), Red Carpet Massacre, Box Full o' Honey (ewww!), Last Man Standing, The Valley and Falling Down. I'm nervous, but I'll give it a fair shake as their last one Astronaut had some fine moments.
Finally, a bit of D2 trivia: Think we're all getting old? Catch this... the Duran children:
Queeny old (45) Nick has a 21 year old daughter named Tatjana. Simon, unexpectedly the oldest Duranie at 48, has 3 daughters, ages 14-18 (damn, Yasmin looks good!). 47 yo Roger has 3 kids. 47 yo John has no kids, though creepy Andy - who no one cares about anymore - has 4 spawn.
July 7, 2007
Much like her Live 8 performance two years ago this week, Madonna rocked Live Earth. She never does anything half-assed. Hey Poo was pootiful, true, but she did the best she could with such a weak song and I think she was the only performer to create original material just for the event. The rest of her set was great. I liked the Courtney Love-ish guitar in heels on Ray Of Light, especially the feedback spasm at the end (with Stuart Price!). Still under some sort of Borat-ian influence, her version of La Isla Bonita was the highlight. I especially liked the (Russian?) dancing they did while crouched low. Nice hat too. Hung Up, although it was the same performance she always does, continues to be a better live performance song than something you'd randomly play on your iPod. Do you think the Gogol Bordello guy's appearance at the end was a surprise to her? Could've been.
Most typical 00's moment: Madonna singing up close to the audience near the catwalk. She's less than ten feet from them and they are all looking at her face via a tiny a camera screen. Put the goddamned digital down and have a moment! Somebody else will post a picture. Everyone is so worried about capturing the event that they forget to experience it.
UPDATE: Louboutin in the title refers to her red-heeled shoes. If you want to read a good post about this performance, check out Adem's at IAR. I agree that this La Isla Bonita (watch it!) goes into the pantheon of great Madonna live performances, though I'd still call the DWT version definitive, if only because it was the first time I ever really believe she was happy on stage.
The colored links go to youtube videos of the performance.
July 6, 2007
July 5, 2007
Ghosts have a number of songs vying for my top songs of the year, but this one is in the lead now. All that's missing from Stop is an exclamation point on the title. Not yet chosen as a single, this has an 80's London fizziness. There's something so very pleasing about the jagged bassline working against those bells that chime out the singsong melody - one that vaguely recalls Tenderness by General Public. And the stop stop stop echos at the end? How I've missed the echo effect...
Get it via iTunes UK or hear it on their myspace
Arctic Monkeys Diamonds Are Forever
Alex Turner is fast becoming one of my favorite people in rock. He's sort of the Harry Potter of Britrock/pop. I love how he sings, looks, his lyrics, and his essential Britishness. This week his band did a fine cover of this James Bond tune at Glastonbury. It was worth it just to hear him sing the words kiss it, stroke it and undress it. These boys need to get a covers EP out pronto. Watch a high quality video of it.
Bryan Ferry All Along The Watchtower
I know!? I had this idea that Ferry's Dylan covers would be faithful-yet-sleepy versions of the craggly man's songs. I was wrong. Positively 4th Street is redone as a crooner smooth classic from Avalon-era Roxy Music (hear it here) and Watchtower has some great guitar work. It's not groundbreaking, but it's about as incendiary as the dandy Mr. Ferry gets these days. Or is he a Sir at this point?
Get it via iTunes UK or iTunes US or maybe Hype Machine
July 4, 2007
In 2005, Richard Hawley released a superb album of crooner tunes called Coles Corner. Hawley had been around for years, but he seemed to literally find his voice with that record of Scott Walker-esque 60's orchestral pop. It also referenced Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Phil Spector, etc.
Hear some of Richard's songs at his myspace page or watch the video above for Coles Corner. Isn't it just the most beautiful song? Almost like a Christmas tune, it's so tinkly and perfect for twilight. Something in it takes me back to childhood, riding in my parent's car, though I was born long after the 50's! I've often said that if I could be reborn as a teen in another era it would be either early 1980's London or post WWII Manhattan.
Richard is back on August 20 with a new album called Lady's Bridge - I guess still mining locales in his hometown of Sheffield. I expect this album to cool me down during the worst part of the summer swamp that is DC. Song titles are great as usual: The Sea Calls, Tonight The Streets Are Ours (first single, August 6), I'm Looking For Someone To Find Me, and The Sun Refused to Shine (a nod to Scott Walker?). Read this preview review at Uncut and froth. Pitchfork has also covered the new record.
Richard Hawley Tonight The Streets Are Ours streaming at myspace
For readers who hear the name Scott Walker invoked a lot and wonder who he is, the song you'd most likely know by him is The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore, which has been covered by everyone, including strong versions by Cher (watch) and Keane (hear).
That's Sophie Ellis Bextor shooting her new Bonnie And Clyde Go Icelandic video for Today The Sun's On Us. Not my favorite song on the CD, but a different style for her. One can hope for more good b-sides.
In another bit of Sophie trivia, she just finished a string of dates opening for George Michael and never met the man. What does that say about him? He was probably running 1) to his stash of weed or 2) into a gay garden at midnight to have it off with a random 60 yr old lorry driver...
Yay Soph, Boo George!
pic from Sophie's site
July 3, 2007
Sara Bareilles is blowing up! On LastFM, she was the top Artist Mover for last week - up 908%. On Google Blog, she yields new results everyday with lots of people commenting on their blogs or livejournals. I can already say the album is very, very good. It's one of those records you can just play and play and sing along with (or, in my case, choke along with as you try to belt out the lyrics and strain too hard).
The album, Little Voice, is on iTunes US now for only $6.99. Expect a full review very soon.
Sorry this post seems like a press release. I really like her and hope she does well - she seems quite accessible without being too watered down.
Prince is offering his new single Guitar for FREE on 7 Digital for one week. I didn't have to log in or any of that shit. Go here now.
I am not sure what to say about the song. It seems kind of pedestrian. You may know what I mean when you hear the first verse: it's kind of da-da-da. His music tends to fall into 2 categories these days: 1) James Brown funk jams that are very simple and 2) tracks were he's clearly trying to go for his 80's guitar sound, but the new songs lack the gorge complexity of old songs. I just cannot imagine him doing something as strong as Alphabet Street or The Question Of U or even I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man these days. He just seems stuck. The last song I really loved by him was ten years ago, Holy River. That was the genius Prince.
July 2, 2007
Would you like some fries with that shake? Has anyone ever said that to you? It's been said to me, but trust me, there is not enough junk in the trunk to warrant it. Beyonce is another story. She even likes to crawl on all fours.
I'm not sure I have mentioned The Freemasons' work with Beyonce. They are singlehandedly 1) bringing back the disco and 2) taking Bee's songs away from their shiteous birthplace to somewhere much more... sparkly. Put their remixes of Deja Vu, Ring The Alarm and Beautiful Liar on in a gym (click on titles for the remix vids) and it becomes Studio 54.
This video is one of her better ones, despite the tired Robert Palmer references. I particularly like those big letters, though they should really say BOUNCEY, shouldn't they?
July 1, 2007
If you're of a certain age and sensitivity, you probably know the music of Suzanne Vega. I first discovered her when she did the amazing Left Of Center on the Pretty In Pink soundtrack (watch it). That song has the power to speak to, like, every emotional teenager in one way or another.
I was with my parents, about 16 years old, when I bought the cassette of her eponymous debut album at the Tower in DC (RIP) and I can still picture that day, because we were downtown for an Easter meal and I remember constantly quoting, aloud, one line: "It's a one time thing, it just happens a lot." I was like a child with a new word and I'm sure it got annoying. I wasn't aware then that those words, from the first song, Cracking, would have more meaning as I grew up. It's sort of a dangerous line isn't it? "It's a one time thing, it just happens a lot."
That debut album had so many great songs for a poetry-obsessed teen and its follow-up, 1987's Solitude Standing, was even more perfect. Most cities at that time in the mid-eighties had an indie or college station. In Washington, it was WHFS. They would actually play Suzanne rarities during the normal rush hour! It's hard to imagine this happening now, but there was point in time when her child-abuse song Luka [video] was a huge international hit. Now the charts are more about non-singers who do T&A and the music is incidental. At the time, people considered Madonna to be the downfall of art, but we didn't know how the popular music would become a case of diminishing returns in regard not only to vocal talent, but to a point of view beyond one's booty. In fact, I'm not sure the the word "booty" existed in 1985.
Suzanne is soon to release (or has already in the UK) her 7th album of original material and the good news is that, in 2007, she still has the same combination of qualities that made her so refreshing in 1985. The album, Beauty & Crime, is produced by Jimmy Hogarth (who also produced Sia, Corinne Bailey Rae et al) and is all about New York City. The Beauty is just that, with great string arrangements, and the Crime is represented by grittier tales.Blue Note has a long PR piece on the record. Suzanne says this:
It seemed natural to write a bunch of songs that were about New York or little stories that had New York as a character... I feel like I really stretched my limits. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone—to sing in keys I wouldn’t have sung in before, to work with different textures, to be unafraid of doing whatever sounded good to me. I wanted to make a modern classic.Watch 2 mins of the Making Of EPK:
Beauty & Crime is Suzanne's best record since Solitude Standing twenty years ago. The 11 songs - not 15, thank you - are concise, tightly arranged and highly melodic. And her voice! At 48, it has not aged.
My favorite, Pornographer's Dream, references Betty Page and poses a question: what really is a pornographer's dream when it all comes true in front of him? "Wouldn't he dream of the thing that he never could quite get the touch of?" Mixing bossa nova verses with a sort of climbing orchestral chorus, the song is chill-inducingly pretty.
An elegy for her late brother, the wistful Ludlow Street is about the evolution of Manhattan neighborhoods. You go back years later and the buildings may or may not be there, but if your people are gone, then something has changed. "I find each stoop and doorway's incomplete without you there." The track's mix of acoustics, synths and strings is more lush and complex than anything Suzanne has ever done. She is paying as much attention to atmospherics as she is to lyrics and the songs are better for it.
Anniversary could sit next to any of the songs on that great 1985 debut, and it's one of the few September 11 songs I can stomach: "Clear the way for all your private memories as they greet you on each corner... make the time for all your possibilities. They live on every street."
The lyrics for Angel's Doorway read as a classic Vega narrative, but the arrangement is like nothing like she's ever produced, with subtle electronic instrumentation (I love the ping-ing on the chorus), double-tracked vocals and, like much of the record, an aura of urgency.
What a thrill to hear this album. This happens with artists who've maintained quality over the long haul: Listening to Suzanne nail it with Beauty & Crime is like meeting an old friend you've not seen for years. After a moment of trepidation, you realize that, despite distance or neglect, the spark remains and the conversation picks right up where you left it long ago.
If you don't know Suzanne's music, here are my (up to now) Top Ten +1 Suzanne Vega songs....
Marlene On The Wall
Left Of Center
Book Of Dreams
Soap And Water
Suzanne Vega Myspace
Suzanne Vega Book And A Cover rare video
Suzanne Vega on The Hype Machine
Suzanne Vega talks about her 13 yo daughter you see a pic of her at the end