October 30, 2008
I've just discovered a new Sara Bareilles track called Winter Song that she's done for a Christmas album. It's a duet with Ingrid Michaelson and it's truly beautiful - the kind of song that doesn't leap out at first, but soon overtakes you. I was just thinking how, if Sarah had been on American Idol, she might have won, and they would have destroyed her in the studio. Instead she made her album on her terms and was lucky to build a slow, steady fanbase. And it comes down to sheer talent.
I didn't know until today that Sara just released a live DVD / CD called Between The Lines: Live At The Fillmore. A bit unnecessary at this point, with just one album out, but whatever. Her website says it was filmed in summer 2007, but I doubt that is correct, as she was just being launched then and would not have been headlining the Fillmore. The show is presented along with behind-the-scenes footage from what may or not be Sausalito. Anyone* know?
I've written a lot about Sara, including this review of her debut album, Little Voice. I recommend, in particular, the Fillmore version of City.
Sara Bareilles /Ingrid Michaelson Winter Song trailer:
Sara Bareilles Live At The Fillmore trailer:
*Ron Woloshun where the hell are you!? Why-oh-why am I blogging without you?
October 28, 2008
She's really funny and not as menacing as one would expect. But then she's also sober.
I don't think Jonathan Ross gets the come-on when she says, "How many languages do you know? Would you like to learn another?" He takes it literally.
Following the recent Guardian article is another killer in The Sunday Times. One amusing line:
She dotes on her son, Paolo, 28, who lives in Paris and whose sports days and parent-teacher meetings she religiously attended, albeit in a series of Thierry Mugler jump suits.
UPDATE: Grace performing new song Williams Blood on Jools Holland...
I love whole "got the Williams blood in me" bit - though the live version cuts off the Amazing Grace ending.
October 27, 2008
It's Halloweenie, but this weekend I ate much of the candy we had. Oops. And yesterday I almost got kicked out of the Cosmos Club, an old-school member's club in DC. I was there to pick up a Chinese colleague and I had on jeans and tennis shoes. The doorman let me in (it's a swank mansion) and then stared disapprovingly at me for about 3 minutes with looks that said, "This young man is here to rob us of our cuff links." Finally, he comes over, leans down and whispers, "We have a strict dress policy here and you need to wait outside." I was like, "Really? Outside? I am picking up a guest here in a matter of moments." Maybe they need a holding area for cattle like myself? Fortunately, my friend arrived just in time and we left to go sightseeing. May I also add that everyone in the place was well over 65? These people do not relax. What if I had been picking up some millionaire member - I wasn't - who said, "Stop treating my friend like a vagrant!"? Whatever, Obama is going to win and the middle class is gonna rise back up.
I defended Leon Jackson on PopJustice this week. Leon is a product of a reality show, so if you liked him for his crooner style, then the album is not really a failure. One of the problems with reality show stars is that they build their success on TV doing covers and then release albums that are nothing like their TV personas (see Fantasia or the big guy who beat Clay). I mean, can you imagine Leon doing Timberlake white soul? blech. He knows what his talent is. Which is being Leon Buble!
Bjork's new song Nattura sucks. Really badly. Such a non-event. I know there are people who still like her music, but I am not one of them.
Is it just me or does using Firefox interact badly with Blogger's dashboard/posting?
Which reminds me, there was a surprising amount of love for the new Oasis CD on one of my recent posts. Hell's bells!
I am getting the distinct impression from early leaks that the Nov. 19 Coldplay EP pretentiously titled Prospekt's March, will serve to make Viva La Vida better. For instance, the Osaka Sun Mix of Lovers In Japan lops off the slow ending. The EP also includes the actual proper song (with lyrics) for Life In Technicolor, but sadly does not have their Kylie collaboration.
I love Chartrigger's post on Take That. I was on Xanax when I commented and kept making typos. Pardon moi.
The Sound of The Smiths collection is coming out November 10. I am "well chuffed"as they say. But I am sad to hear that Marianne Faithfull's new cover of Dear God Please Help Me is utter shit. I've loved Marianne for years, but it seems that she's shot her voice. I could not even get through the whole song.
Starsailor, for anyone who cares, escaped from EMI and are now on Virgin. Their album All The Plans is out in March, with a single called Tell Me It's Not Over due in February. Watch a live acoustic version of a new song here. I once met James and he was a bit of a twat. :)
Bon voyage to "Yuri" and DanUS who are headed to see Madonna in Chicago... Give her a slap on the rump for me.
I have warned Paul that listening to too much Same Difference will make his penis fall right off. They literally have a portion of their site dedicated to "grownups."
This will only mean something to crazy Stevie Nicks fans: Stevie and Jimmy Iovine photographer together a few weeks back. They look great!
And for Eddi Reader fans: Love Is The Way, a new album via Rough Trade in early March. Hear a bit of one new track, New York City, on her myspazz.
In a restaurant today, I heard a Spandau Ballet song I did not know! Round And Round. Seriously, I have never heard that song. I was disappointed in myself, but at least I recognized it was them.
Robbie Daw, congratulations on your work with The Daily Beast. I am not sure if Mr. Chartrigger will say it, but he is now in the writing company of Bill Clinton, Mo Rocca and Harvey Weinstein. A major achievement.
I am obsessed with the long clip of Girls Aloud's new song The Loving Kind. This is the Neil Tennant collaboration and it sounds majestic. When I finally hear the full version, I may have a Gay Moment and burst into flames. Or tears. UPDATE: I heard it and had to be hosed down.
Speaking of the loving kind, congratulations to PopMuse on his wedding. FUCK Sarah Palin and Cali Prop 8. Viva love.
This is good, yes? Their hair reminds me of ice cream cones... Alphabeat What Is Happening:
Picture of Linda Evangelista by Steven Klein via Design Scene
October 25, 2008
Free single download here. It includes the album mix of Clowns, which you probably don't need, and a terrific choral version of Happiness. You can also download a free live version of Clowns recorded at Cecil Sharp House for BBC Electric Proms.
Update: Here is a great live choral version of Caravan Girl at Electric Proms. This remains one of THE songs of 2008...
October 24, 2008
The full effect of the tiara, veil and dress is odd. Almost severe. What does it remind me of? It's very Lord Of The Rings or something.
October 23, 2008
October 22, 2008
Leon Jackson. NOW:
Leon Jackson. THEN:
I have to admit I have a soft spot for Leon's debut album, Right Now. Sometimes it's my prerogative to feature a little cheesewhizz.
Download: Closer, Single, So You Can Cry, What 's The Matter
Dig Out Your Ass would be a better title. While Q gives them the special issue treatment - as if they are U2 - Noel and Liam remind us that they still cannot pull out a decent album 13 years after the epic (What's The Story) Morning Glory. In the press, they still slam everyone, most tellingly Noel hating on Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys because he knows that Alex is brilliant. So transparent. Lyrically, embarrassing and gunked up with turgid 60's/70's ripoff arrangements, this album is just shit. There is one brilliant song that sounds nothing like Oasis (Falling Down) and 2 bearable tracks that fit okay into a mix filled with songs from their first two albums.
Download: Falling Down, The Turning, I'm Outta Here
October 20, 2008
In January 2008, I did a post titled If It Were Up To Me... and wrote this:
Dubstar would reform and create a perfect album called Twilight. I just came up with that title as I typed it.Dubstar have reformed! The trio, featuring lead singer Sarah Blackwood (recently of Client) are recording an album with Stephen Hague. It has the working title of United States Of Being.
Dubstar was a personal favorite of the 90's. The sound is sort of post-PSB electropop. Hugely melodic. Their albums Disgraceful (1995, with a naughty cover image) and Goodbye (1997) are superb. A third record, Make It Better, signaled their end. It was much weaker, but there is a solid Best Of CD available.
If forced to compile a "Top 20 Songs of the 1990's" it would be hard for me to ignore the lush Stars. I first heard it on a CD walkman in a B'nB room in Notting Hill. I must've played it 10 times in a row and it has never worn out. It is, as you'd expect from the title, stately and celestial, sort of like a feminine counterpart to Depeche Mode's glorious Never Let Me Down Again. The kind of tune you want to blast in the car at night.
Dubstar Stars sample
XO's Top Ten Plus One Dubstar Songs
St Swithin's Day (Billy Bragg cover)
The Day I See You Again
Week In Week Out
No More Talk
I Will Be Your Girlfriend
I (Friday Night)
Captured in amber, The Dubstar Web Garden is a website that is as it was in 1998. I am beyond eager for this album - I'll report when I know more.
Sam's done two other tracks with PSB, both covers under the name Kiki Kokova: Je T'aime Moi Non Plus (1999) and Love To Love You Baby (2003). Last year I saw a video Sam shot of a sleeping David Beckham (idea ripped from Warhol) and the promo clip below is even less thrilling. It's a shame, because the song is pretty heavenly.
Normally Sam does not look a movie star: she looks like this.
October 19, 2008
Some details on In The Music: Unexpectedly, the band got Carly Simon to record backing vocals. One song is called Down And Out In New York City, another is I Hung My Harp On The Willows and the band have also covered lead singer Frank's sister Eddi Reader's gorgeous song Should I Pray?
There is also a plan to re-release their back catalog, with the first three albums released in early 2009. Weightlifting will follow around March and then the new album. They report that all the re-releases will have b-sides/bonus tracks.
Top Ten Plus One TCS songs:
Twisted And Bent
Should I embrace you or embalm you?
How Can I Apply
here's your busfare / somewhere elsewhere you can spend your days
hello, I'm Harry / I've had women, I've had germs
you will find a great weight lifting, easing your mind
The Genius I Was
we are the tufted race and we just graze
Send For Henny
you led me headlong to the place where I belong / dealing big blows to what my heart knows
murder in a lovely place / I'll make the tea and the sandwiches
on the grass behind the goal / I trace your constellation of moles
so long afternoons would go up in balloons
I've Seen Everything
believe in everything, we're leaving everything
snug as a thug in a mugshot pose, a foul-mouthed rogue
Oranges and Apples video:
October 18, 2008
Sure as there is a moon in the sky, I will post on Roisin Murphy. I'm more than a little wrecked that I won't be able to attend her performance in Manhattan on Friday night, so if any of you go, please report how it is! Other notes: Movie Star remixes are on iTunes US now. The only one that sounds worthy - the 10 minute Kid Gloves Mix - is not available as a single track download (fuckers!). There is another slick one called The Sam and Di Angelis She Is Beautiful Mix floating around. Roisin's chat with OMG is also up now. She says she isn't even sure what her status is with EMI (fuckers!).
Thanks Hopeless Optimist!
October 15, 2008
October 13, 2008
On his encounter with Muhammad Ali in the 80's: He goes, 'You a boy? You a very pretty boy.'
On other 80's bands: Duran and Spandau were like groups of men on a stag night wearing their mother's curtains.
On religious nuts: I can deal with those Christians. They are fat, miserable cunts with nothing going for them.
On smoking in front of Brooke Shields: She said, 'You shouldn't smoke. It's bad for you.' I answered, 'I get fucked up the arse every night, too, and that's never done my any harm.'
On showing John Taylor gay porn: John Taylor's not giving me much attention. How can I unnerve him? I know, a video of a man eating a fat cock.
On Amy Winehouse: She doesn't think she's living out a disaster. She thinks it's fine.
On Hare Krishna: Krishna was blue, which I liked. So it was pretty shallow to start with. Now I'm a Hindu Buddhist Catholic nun who has sex five times a night. I believe it all.
On the name of his own dance label, More Protein: I was living off a diet of tofu and sperm.
On his career from the vantage point of today: I love music and belatedly I realize how lucky I am to do what I do.
You should also read the lengthy new interviews with George in The Times and The Independent. Also check out the videos at his new website. Among the surprises is a Culture Club performance of Love Is Love/War Song in which he sports a beard and also a live performance with Dolly Parton.
Last week was one of the most dispiriting ever in American politics. I cannot keep my tongue, so I will veer off pop music for a moment. And really, my opinions should not be a surprise to anyone who reads this blog. There are three things I want to either comment on or quote...
First is scholar Gary Sick of Columbia University talking about the McCain campaign. He sums up the problem very succinctly:
No one can deny McCain's personal courage during his horrendous experience as a POW in Vietnam. But that does not equal good strategic judgment as commander in chief. His chief characteristic running a national campaign for the first time has been a series of high-stakes gambles -- the Sarah Palin gambit, withdrawing from the campaign to deal with the financial crisis and then un-withdrawing (a Rose Garden Strategy without a Rose Garden), surrendering in Michigan (without, incidentally, even informing, let alone consulting his VP candidate), and resorting to a campaign of smears after he had bitterly denounced similar tactics that the Bush campaign had used (successfully) against him. Maybe these will pay off, but I think they speak volumes about the quality of his decision-making under pressure. It is not reassuring.Next is a piece of a commentary on Sarah Palin by Michelle Goldberg of The Guardian. Here she speaks of Palin's performance in the VP debate:
It was an appalling display. The only reason it was not widely described as such is that too many American pundits don't even try to judge the truth, wisdom or reasonableness of the political rhetoric they are paid to pronounce upon. Instead, they imagine themselves as interpreters of a mythical mass of "average Americans" who they both venerate and despise.Yes. There was shark-jumping moment on CNN's post-debate coverage when a commentator pronounced that Palin had "won by not losing." Really? Is that what we've come to? We've seen American fall for her type before, haven't we? I am so worn out by conservatives decrying intellectual curiosity as shady and un-American. We just had 8 years of glorifying "plain-spoken" (read ill-spoken) blather from Bush II and look where we are now. John McCain could have picked a accomplished female running mate who would have elevated his status. But he didn't and that is that.
Update: Sarah Palin today (10/13) is continuing with her usual claptrap. She lives in the binary world of George W. Bush, where you either with us or against us, good guys or bad guys.
Finally, there is John McCain's Obama-as-terrorist "other" message last week, which was really sad. What has happened to McCain?! He loaded his commentary with coded language about not knowing who Obama is or where he came from. Right. Sarah Palin is responsible for making it far worse by talking about Obama "palling" around with terrorists. This created a very angry mood at the rallies. The old school Republican guard must be wondering how this got away from them... watch this scene from Friday, where McCain finally had to do damage control. Note that the audio drops out, but the woman calls Obama an "Arab" (which itself impugns all Arabs!):
I'd like to think that John McCain is troubled by how he is now perceived. That he wants to salvage his dignity.
In the end, I think Gary Sick's quote on the top of this post is most important in terms of why McCain is the Wrong Man. It is Barack Obama who has the intelligence, heart and vision to pull this country back up where it belongs. He will, I believe, begin to restore the middle class in America (that will take many years) and also bring back to the world a more positive image of America. Read a great piece on Obama from the editorial team of the New Yorker.
Okay, that's enough of that until November, I hope. Back to the music!
October 11, 2008
If you do anything this weekend, read this interview with Grace Jones in the Guardian. The best thing I've read in ages. And read it all the way through to the end or you won't get the full effect.
It's almost Saturday night and I must prepare to go stalk my prey...
Five songs I highly recommend from recent albums:
Helicopter Girl Ghosts In The Machine
I've never liked a full HG album, but there is always some hidden gem. Jackie Joyce's last album, Voodoo Chic, has an outright masterpiece, Umbrellas in The Rain, that's a melding of Bjork and Goldfrapp. From her latest release, the chicly titled Metropolitan, it's this urgent track with seesaw strings cutting through and references to the Tardis! Le sigh... "Donna Noble has left the library."
Stars 14 Forever
From their lovely new EP with a great title, Sad Robots. The new music is closer in spirit to the early work on Nightsongs and this tune is pure tinkly gorgeousness. It has the signature tradeoff vocals between Torquil Campbell and Amy Milian and a very subtle beat. I suppose I could rename this blog 14 Forever and, given my taste, it would be accurate. Is XO actually a sophisticated 14 year old? I mean, how many times have you seen me in photos, hmmm? Well, maybe 19 Forever is a better name. That's a Joe Jackson song.
Jenny Lewis Tryin' My Best
Jenny whips out the falsetto and it's perfect. Totally... gossamer. This is a country soul ballad set to a chamber quartet. There are choral effects and references to angel's wings - it's very fluttery. The chorus reminds me of the great Laura Nyro, but she's another story for another day.
If any of you remember my post last year about Aqualung's masterpiece, Garden Of Love (the one he does with Blue Nile's Paul Buchanan), then you should download this new ballad from his Words And Music record. This album came out of the blue and seems a bit underproduced at times. Not this song, which starts with a 1:25 intro that sounds like a mix of violin and - what is it? - bagpipe and then morphs into a lovely piano lullaby. The lyric "get me, get me over the ocean to find you" GETS me. A spine-tingler, this song.
The Saturdays Why Me Why Now?
I've not liked anything this Xenomania group has produced thus far, but this one should've gone to Sugababes, because it's a complete ripoff of their sound. I'd classify it midtempo pop with elements of soulfulness. I like the bubbly synths and harmonies, again very Babesy. The Amazon UK description for this band says they're "named after everyone's favourite day of the week." No, that's already taken by The Sundays.
Go hunting: iTunes US | iTunes UK | Hype Machine | Google Blog Search
Photo by Hedi Slimane
October 9, 2008
How many videos for how many singles? Bless Robyn for imbibing all that paint. I am not allowed to spit mine out when I drink it... I have to swallow.
Leon Jackson Don't Call It Love:
The kids who like Michael Buble will lap Leon up. So to speak. It's been labeled dreck by quite a few cads, but this tune reminds me of the AM radio I used to hear while belted into the backseat of my mom's Cutlass Supreme in the early 70's.
Alesha Dixon The Boy Does Nothing:
Someone recently asked me about guilty pleasures (I mean musical ones, you slags). This falls into that category. It's insanely catchy- Xenomania of course - but the part where she sing/talks the title is just embarrassing. And is it just me or wouldn't this video work better if the girls were in some sort of period costumes?
Did you want to be in love? What's great about this cover is that, by stripping out the Bowie-isms, you can hear how strong the song truly is. Strong melody, great lyrics and slightly less wonky spoken-word section.
October 8, 2008
Update: Robyn tells Perez Hilton she did meet Madonna. Not sure why her first interview came out the way it did, but here is her follow-up.
Remember last year when Sophie Ellis Bextor revealed that she had never met George Michael despite being his opening act on tour? Robyn reveals the same nasty truth in a Swedish newspaper interview.
I can't read Swedish, trolls, but Youknowho Hilton has pulled quotes that reveal:
Robyn and her crew were told not to approach Madonna, not to speak to her and not to take pictures. He quotes Robyn as saying, "I hadn't expected any glamour, but it's strange that they assume that the first thing you're gonna do is run after Madonna and ask for an autograph."
My theory? Madonna is threatened by Robyn. She's 20 years younger and just starting to hit her stride. She clearly knows Robyn is good enough to open for her, but she cannot be bothered to thank Robyn once in person for being the first opening act she's had in almost 20 years? Tosh!
October 7, 2008
Vince Frank is fit. He is also Frankmusik. 21, from Thornton Heath in Croydon, which means South London. Like Ladyhawke, he transcends indie and pop factions with a song like 3 Little Words (video below). Check out Popjustice's piece on Frankmusik's new music/k produced with the most recent Refugee Of Madonna, the ubiquitous Stuart Price. Frank's full album, Complete Me, is due early next year.
Frankmusik 3 Little Words:
Watch the video - the song is totally kicky and fresh. Be forewarned that your eyes may melt when you see the costume that suburban mall chick on the left is wearing. Straight Outta WalMart, but with less style!
See also: Frankmusik's Youtube channel & MuuMuse's li'l review.
October 6, 2008
Grace Jones has teamed up with Chris Cunningham, a photographer suitable to her menacing side, for the new issue of Dazed And Confused.
More disturbing photos via Nicola Formichetti's ubercool style blog (NSFW)
You can stream remixes of the Corporate Cannibal track at her myspace. Grace's new album Hurricane is out in just 3 weeks. So far I like all 3 songs I've heard, but we have yet to see the cover image. Bring it, Grace!
October 5, 2008
I've been out of blogging action a bit this week because work has busted my chops. I suppose this is a good thing at heart, but I don't like it when work takes so much that I have no energy left. That combined with barely sleeping has left me a haggard tramp! But not so out of it that I can't give some thoughts for this week:
The new Razorlight song is kind of corny. I love the opening when Johnny sings in a very unadorned, subtle way, but then he goes on about how "she lives on Disillusion Road" and I wince. Watch the video here. Is it just me or are music videos for major artists getting weaker and weaker as the industry leaks money? The best videos are coming from artists used to no money.
A friend gave me the Christopher Ciccone book and I cannot put it down. It has a few dishy things no one had mentioned to me or written about, so maybe I'll put them in post. For instance, Chris claims that Seymour Stein (the mogul who discovered Madonna) came onto him in a big way in the 80's, trying to interview Christopher for a job while he (Stein) was wearing nothing but a bathrobe. Seymour even wanted to do the interview in his bedroom. Oy vey... Chris didn't do it. I still would love to interview Christopher - it would be a really good discussion.
Sugababes new b-side Don't Look Back is not terrible, but really slight. Following up on my Jennifer Hudson review, I should say I a bonus track called Stand Up that is starts like a nice 980's ballad and devolves into shrieking. Disappointing.
What happened to the new Bouncey singles? We heard she was coming back, saw the video shoot and then...the lady vanishes.
A certain blogger tells me the Keane record is very good. Oasis doesn't think so. Meanwhile, they have not released a solid album since 1995. Suck it hard, Noel. Regardless, The Times gives Oasis 4 stars. Meanwhile Keane streams their CD in full on LastFM starting Monday the 6th, though it will probably link momentarily.
The October issue of Instinct includes two pieces by me: a quick writeup on Darren Hayes's Live DVD (yes, it's a little late, but Instinct and I like Darren) and my "US review" of Roisin's Overpowered album. I call her erudite in it... I quite like that review.
Rumor has it Chinese Democracy is out on November 25. Does anyone actually think it will be good? The man has been locked in his house since 1991. Time has marched on. Axl Rose is more known for featuring Crazy at this point.
What about a team-up between Missspears and Greg Kurstin? I could deal with that. She is back to looking good.
Public note to Adem: I love your blog and hope next week is glorious for you. Thanks again for pointing me to Ladyhawke. I am still obsessed with it.
Last week here in Washington (DC), one of the older local record/book stores closed its doors after a year of troubles. For 36 years, Olsson's was the place where DC "intelligentsia" did their book and music shopping. I loved the rickety, packed Georgetown store, which closed several years back and is now some chain store. There is now one record store left, the great Melody Records in Dupont Circle. So I want to suggest something: that everybody go out in the next few weeks and purchase a disc at a record store they value. Just spend the extra money as a sign that you value them. I will do the same!
October 3, 2008
Madonna has released some new photos (by Steven Klein) for the American leg of her Sticky & Sweet Tour. I suppose I am should call these "striking new images," but I prefer the geeked out* one at the bottom of the page. I am sitting out this show, but many of my friends are going and will report back (and I need to ask one of them to get me a tour book!). Here's what I said about her 2005 show at MSG.
The NY Daily News talked to costume designer Arianne Phillips, show director Jamie King and programme photographer Tom Munroe about the tour. Read it here.
She starts her American leg in Jersey on Saturday night, so she's been photographed around Manhattan this week with a suddenly grown David Banda. And he's a bit Kabbalah'dup, isn't he?
* Did you know that there is a sex term called gooning? Correct me if I am wrong children, but I think it has something to do with going "into the zone" sexually, perhaps in the onanistic way, hmmm?