January 31, 2010

Playlist: This is a honeytrap...



Groove Armada w/Will Young
History
Will has already told the press his next LP will be a big gay - my words, not his - dance record. I Won't Give Up, his Freemasons collab from Let It Go, suggested he comes alive with this kind of music and History is further proof. History has a balls out falsetto vocal (filtered through effects) that suggests something Will doesn't usually serve up: sex. Which, of course, is the great irony, since a large number of his fans want nothing more than to hit it hard. hear it via youtube

We Have Band Honeytrap
I'm always cruising for new British rock, and We Have Band has great potential. On some level they are mining the same danceable groove that Courteeners do on their new single (You Overdid It Doll) - which is just the Hot Chippy spike that rock needs right now. The jury's out on the unique element: a female vocalist who "raps" her way in and out of the song. All will be revealed when their 12-track debut, WHB, comes out April 5. Until then, watch the video and download this song at WHB's site.

Sade In Another Time
We can only hope that Sade's new album brings songs that age into classics. In Another Time is perfect. Yes, it could have been recorded for her first album, but that's part of her genius: she's completely anachronistic. This one has a lovely, melancholy piano threaded through it and, at the end, a violin dances with a sax.. and it works. hear it via youtube

Fyfe Dangerfield
High On The Tide
If the phrase Aztec Camera is relevant to you, listen up. This song is sooooo Roddy Frame. Fyfe's debut solo album, Fly Yellow Moon, is pristine. There are varied arrangements, from sweeping orchestrals to acoustic-based songs, like this one, but it's not jarring in the way his band's albums (The Guillemots) could be. Tide is in the tradition great intelligent British folkpop, all focused on pure vocals, lyrics and melody. It communicates a thought and a feeling. The whistling is an acquired taste. hear it via youtube

Alex Gardner I'm Not Mad
I'd heard the live version of this before hearing the studio track and Alex wails all over the last third. The song, which is classic Xenomania, somehow falls a bit short because that wailing never occurs, even on the Frankmusik-y middle eight. That said, I keep playing it over and over. Will Alex make it? All bets are off until the video. hear a sample at his myspace

Groove Armada w/Nick Littlemore Cards To Your Heart
Littlemore is not my favorite vocalist, but holy God, this song is monolithic. Really heavy and grand and passionate. The spoken vocals on the verses are oddly appealing, but it goes all Modern English on the chorus and the world is suddenly gorgeous and shimmery again. hear it via youtube

wicked cool dolls via
thepop

Sade: “This bitch sings when she wants to"



There is an amazing, loaded piece on Sade in the Times today. A must-read since she never gives interviews. Here is a quote about the English press that leaps out...

It can be very hostile, England. Not just to me, to everybody. England’s like a sour old auntie. You go and stay with her although she criticises you all the time and doesn’t treat you right, even when you’re doing your best. But you keep on loving her, in a certain way. And then you die.” She laughs. “Those bitches always outlive you!”
She's such a rare case of a performer that is an admirable human being, one who doesn't really care to tend to living her life as a persona. That said, she is in remarkable shape - watch this video for evidence

January 30, 2010

I'm going out, I'm gonna drink myself to death

Florence + The Machine Hurricane Drunk



What a strange video. The parts with lighting effects and layered images are fine, but the bits where she's overlit and shot "flat" are surprisingly amateur. For those of you familiar with the imagery for Tori Amos' Under The Pink, this video reminds me of that. Hurricane is not my favorite choice for a single, but it works in terms of showing her range. Cosmic Love or Howl should have been next...

Good shoes though!

January 27, 2010

The 50 Best Albums of the 1980s...



I am a child of the 80s. It is the period when I came of musical age, so to speak. The pop albums of this era are - I am quite serious - a defining influence on my taste in almost everything.

It so happens that my favorite album of the 1980s is also perhaps the most influential and loved British album of the post-Beatles era. Note that the titles in blue were made in the United Kingdom, so this could be called the beginning of my awakening to my own heritage.

Kate Bush Hounds Of Love 1985 my favorite
Prefab Sprout Two Wheels Good (aka Steve McQueen) 1985
Culture Club Colour By Numbers 1983
Stevie Nicks The Wild Heart 1983
Alison Moyet Alf 1984
Madonna Like A Prayer 1989
Prince Sign O'The Times 1987
Madonna Like A Virgin 1984
Sting Nothing Like The Sun 1987
Prince Purple Rain 1984
Sade Promise 1985

and the remaining 39 gems, in no order:

Eurythmics Savage 1987
Stevie Nicks Bella Donna 1981
Toni Childs Union 1989
Lloyd Cole And The Commotions Mainstream 1987
Bananarama Bananarama 1984
Missing Persons
Rhyme & Reason 1984
Rickie Lee Jones The Magazine 1984
10,000 Maniacs In My Tribe 1987
Kate Bush The Sensual World 1989
REM Lifes Rich Pageant 1986
The Smiths The Queen Is Dead 1986
Sting The Dream Of The Blue Turtles 1985
10000 Maniacs Blind Man's Zoo 1989
Prince Parade 1986
Arcadia So Red The Rose 1986
Duran Duran Rio 1982
Tina Turner Private Dancer 1984
Sinead O'Connor The Lion and The Cobra 1987
Everything But The Girl Idlewild 1988
'Til Tuesday Everything's Different Now 1989
Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation 1989
Danny Wilson Meet Danny Wilson 1987
Depeche Mode Music For The Masses 1987
Elton John Too Low For Zero 1983
U2 The Joshua Tree 1987
The Blue Nile Hats 1989
Morrissey Viva Hate 1987
Soundtrack Pretty In Pink 1986
Suzanne Vega Solitude Standing 1987
Suzanne Vega Suzanne Vega 1985
Cyndi Lauper She's So Unusual 1983
The Style Council Cafe Bleu 1984
ABC The Lexicon Of Love 1982
Neneh Cherry Raw Like Sushi 1989
Dream Academy Dream Academy 1985
Indigo Girls Indigo Girls 1988
Tracy Chapman Tracy Chapman 1988
Deacon Blue Raintown 1987
Diana Ross diana 1980

What did I forget?!

January 25, 2010

You're a space cadet dressed in fiberglass




The Courteeners*, one of Morrissey's favorite groups, have taken a big leap with the first single from their upcoming album Falcon. Everything works here: the lyrics admonishing a woman burning the candle at both ends, the pop melody, the disco/rock hybrid arrangement, and a video that is both beautiful and creepy. And then there's the clever title/chorus and the best bit...

I load it, I shoot it like a Tommy gun
For you will carry on until the day you are done

The album, out on February 22nd in the UK, was produced by Ed Buller of Suede, Pulp and White Lies fame.

*Important detail: This band is called The CourTEENers, not the CourTENeers

January 24, 2010

Ellie's new Starry mix goes... Whoa oh oh ah ah


Elie and collaborator Starsmith by
Camilla Treharne

I am obsessed - OBSESSED - with Russ Chimes' earthshaking remix of Ellie Goulding's new single Starry Eyed, which you can download for free at Neon Gold. The
part about three minutes in, where it builds after a delish keyboard break - that section whips me into a maniacal frenzy. It's a gorgeous sonic assault.

January 22, 2010

Michael Hutchence, 50



If you were around when Michael Hutchence ruled the world, you should stop and read today's tribute on INXS.com. Each of the band members wrote a note in honor of Michael's 50th birthday. Tim Farriss' is really sad.

One of my favorite INXS songs is the beautiful The Stairs

Sade: Behind the scenes of "Soldier"



I never realized her speaking voice is so deep!

Sade is streaming songs from her new album all over the web. Here are a few...

People.com premiere of Babyfather

SheKnows.com premiere of Bring Me Home

BarnesAndNoble.com premiere of Be That Easy

Starkbucks premiere of Long Hard Road

Mixtape: A wintry mix


A winter night on my street

I took a little mini-break from my blog this week. Enigmatically, it involved a lot of glue in my hair. Long story! Anyway, I want to start by bitching about Kelis, who I think went a little too far with her crass, look-at-me reaction to PETA's complaint about her use of fur. Read her crazy pro-fur pro-Kelis press release. A big publicity stunt. I don't care of she wants to wear fur and PETA can be antagonistic; I just think Kelis came across as silly.
Wow us with a song next time babe.

Richard Ashcroft
is coming back. Again. Urban Hymns was on my fave albums of the 90s and his solo debut, Alone With Everybody. was on my fave list for the 00s, Since then, he's had two middling solo albums and, most recently, a reunion record with The Verve. NME has the video for his new single Are You Ready. The album is called Redemption and, after the weak Verve reunion record in 2008, he's going to need some of that. Seriously, he is a brilliant singer/songwriter; I just think he needs a strong collaborator to edit his ideas.

All of which reminds of me of another reunion- Suede (Coming Up-era, without Bernard Butler) is getting back together for shows.

In the eyebrow-raised department, Hole is releasing an album without any original members but Courtney Love, She Who Does Everything She Can To Sabotage Herself. Melissa Auf der Mur, who said last year, "A
ll I can tell you is that I like singing ooos, ahs and la-la-las behind [Courtney's] voice," says she has not been included, nor has Eric Erlandson and that a real reunion is looking less likely due to Love's behavior. Sadly typical news from Loveland.\

A tweep sent me this fantastic uncut interview with Eg White about songwriting. Worth your time.

Bad news (f0r me) regarding Erik Hassle. The new version of his CD omits my favorite song, Make It In Time.

Delphic. I heard the record and need to play it more, but I don't really think it re-invents anything, as Pete Paphides says in The Times. That article is worth reading. So far, my favorite song is the album closer, a 6-min+ track called Remain.

The Boyzone video is painful in a way not intended. I believe the emotion (lots of tears rolling down cheeks) is genuine, of course, but I question the decision to stage it for cameras. By "stage" I mean rig up lighting and sets. If the footage is from a documentary, it does not completely come off that way. The song itself is okay, barring that awful schmeggae lite coming in midway.

Have you downloaded Alicia Keys booming Unthinkable yet? Hear it now.

What does Thomas Dolby think of Prefab Sprout?. Read this post at Tin Can Pot.

Kate Nash
has cute new hair AND is putting her lost masterpiece Don't You Wanna Share the Guilt (play the original) on her new album.
I am worried about how her sound will gel with producer Bernard Butler's. Apparently it's girl group-y, but I like her best when she is folky.

Which reminds me of something gossipy: Duffy has supposedly parted ways with her management, band and co-writers. Why am I not surprised?

Ke$sha was on NPR in America this week and irritated me more. This is the music that a girl with a near-perfect SAT score decided to create? "I just wanted to have fun."

Paul Epworth has been twittering about being in the studio with Florence + The Machine, making what he calls "kind of Siouxsie's dreamhouse" music.

Sad news that Rufus and Martha Wainwright's mother, Kate McGarrigal, died of cancer this week. Any fan of either artist knows about Kate- she was and will be a huge force for both of them.

Did you know that Nile Rodgers produced an album in 1981 for Johnny Mathis? He did and it - I Love My Lady -was never released! I learned this from Alexis Petridis on Twitter this week. More info via Disco Delivery, where you can download the title track.

An unreleased Madonna song appeared this week - Across The Sky, one of the collaborations with Justin Timberlake and Timbaland. My assessment: it needs to be re-recorded. The song has glimmers of hope, but like all recent Timbaland productions, it's junked up with the non-singing producer ranting and pointless tikka tikka noises.

I've actually been playing a lot of old music while awaiting something new. This week it's been...

Scritti Politt's Oh Patti - the one with the gorgeous Miles Davis solo. Jay Jay Johnanson's music from Rush, including the title track, The Last Of The Boys To Know and Teachers. He's working on a new record for 2010 and my guess is that it will be a return to uptempos.

I have decided I want to write a song lyric. Anyone got a song with a melody?

Finally, anyone know of any good shows in London between March 12 and 22nd?

January 21, 2010

Goldfrapp never does anything wrong.



Goldrapp returns with a happy, up song. Total summer radio fodder. To my ears, it's what happens when you mash up Christopher Cross's All Right with something like, as others have said, Van Halen.

And the artwork? Can you imagine Alison's brief to the artist? "I'm thinking Xanadu, The Cars, Dr Who, jumpsuits, laser beams, the great American highways... and that American Idol creature, Adam."

F*%k WWII, the 80's kids are The Greatest Generation.

Tracey Thorn: Love And Its Opposite



Tracey Thorn just announced her album on Facebook. It's called Love and Its Opposite and will be out in "mid-May" - in the UK it's on husband Ben Watt's Strange Feeling label and in the US on Merge. It was produced by Ewan Pearson (who did much of her last album) in London and Berlin and is a succinct ten songs ("the PERFECT album length!" sayeth Tracey). Eight of the songs are originals, plus a cover of Come On Home To Me by Lee Hazlewood and The Unbending Trees' You Are A Lover (hear their version).

Tracey's been tweeting for awhile. She's very dry, funny and frank - worth following.

Thanks Richard!

January 20, 2010

Marina: First listen to Jewel samples



You can finally hear samples from
Marina And The Diamonds debut album, The Family Jewels, via iTunes UK. Shampain still sounds like the [cough] gem.

You look at me, it's like you hit me with lightning



I'd love to know where Elle Goulding's new video was shot? The rooms are amazing, as are the colors and effects. And Ellie's electro jazz hands, of course. No matter what they do with her, she retains a unique girl-next-door quality.

At the end of the day, though, Ellie's videos and performances always go back the Farrah hair.

From the wee bits of information we know, I've already moved ahead of the pack to This Love Will Be Your Downfall as THE song on her debut album.

January 17, 2010

30 Essential Albums From the 1990s



I enjoyed putting together a list of my Top 20 favorite CDs from the 00's, so I thought I'd go backward (after all, the 90s are starting to seep into new music). This list was much harder to narrow down to even 30, and there are so many amazing artists left off because I had limited room and I could not quite put a particular album on as a whole piece.

Update: I had to change this list when I realized some MAJOR albums I forgot

The Top Ten
-Plus One- Albums of the 1990s

Everything But The Girl Walking Wounded my favorite
Annie Lennox Diva
REM Automatic For The People
Madonna Ray of Light
Tori Amos Under The Pink
Bjork Homogenic
Phil Campbell Fresh New Life
Oleta Adams Circle Of One
Eddi Reader Candyfloss And Medicine
George Michael Listen Without Prejudice, Vol 1
Everything But The Girl Amplified Heart

And the Rest of the Top 30

Tori Amos Little Earthquakes
Jonatha Brooke Plumb
10000 Maniacs Our Time In Eden
The Beautiful South Miaow
Brian Kennedy A Better Man
Suede Coming Up
Mary J Blige What's The 411
Bjork Post
The Verve Urban Hymns
Seal Seal (I)
Oasis (What's The Story) Morning Glory?
Paul Weller Stanley Road
Hole Live Through This
Jeff Buckley Grace
Janet Jackson janet.
Pet Shop Boys Very
Madonna Erotica
Depeche Mode Violator
Sting The Soul Cages

What got knocked off when I updated the list:

Maura O'Connell Blue Is The Colour Of Hope
kd lang Ingénue
Tori Amos From The Choirgirl Hotel
Crowded House Together Alone

January 16, 2010

Pack up the stars before you come for me

Wolf Gang The King And All Of His Men:



When Torr mentioned Wolf Gang recently, I realized I'd never put up this post, which lay in draft since November...

Another brilliant new
Neon Gold act, Wolf Gang is Max McElligott, who claims to "love drama and abhor mediocrity." Indeed. This single is very past-referencing while still sounding au courant. Click here for the free Joe Goddard Remix. I also recommend Nightflying on his myspazz and an earlier single, Pieces Of You, is free at Neon Gold.

There is very little information about Wolf Gang out there right now, but it looks as if he has not begun recording his debut, which isn't due until Fall 2010.

January 15, 2010

kd lang and... us



kd lang is releasing a retrospective of her career, recollection - lower case! - on February 2nd. Strangely, this is her first hits collection. The expanded version is spread out over three CDs with a DVD, though the CDs oddly have only 11 songs. I could easily have put 20 on each.

It would be wrong of me not to say that kd lang’s music is an important common interest that I shared with my friend Sheryl, who died last March. Sheryl particularly loved kd in her early sort of "lesbo rodeo girl" phase, but followed her throughout her career. Sheryl and I had already become friends when kd released her mega album Ingénue, which we played incessantly for months and months (along with Annie Lennox’s Diva).

kd is a brilliant, giving songwriter. Her most well known song, Constant Craving (watch it), proves that, but I think her greatest strength is interpreting lyrics in a way that you truly believe what she is saying. Tonight I played kd’s amazing Hymns Of The 49th Parallel album. Probably the best covers record ever made. In particular, her versions of songs by Jane Siberry, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young are – to my ears - definitive. Music that feeds the soul.

On kd’s cover of Neil Young’s Helpless (watch it) she sings, “In my mind, I still need a place to go. All my changes were there,” and I think of one particular year with Sheryl, in Fredericksburg, our college town. That period of time is, in my mind, “the hanging out years,” because I remember just hanging out in friends’ apartments rather than actually doing anything productive. Years later I really cherish that time and it doesn’t seem wasted at all.

Her cover of Joni Mitchell’s lesser known song Jericho (hear it) is a touchstone: “Anyone will tell you just how hard it is to make and keep a friend.” Especially a lifelong one.

So. Being very personal on this blog is really not my most comfortable thing. But I’ll share this with anyone who has to go through a loss like this, especially losing a peer so young or anyone taken too soon. Someone you grew up with in the true, emotional sense of reacting to life’s constant challenges and supporting one another. The next album kd lang releases, I'll be on my own, no Sheryl. Almost a year on, I realize that one of the hardest things for me about losing someone I loved is that I also lost someone who loved me.

"and though you trust the light towards which you wend your way
sometimes it feels all that you wanted has been taken away

you will walk,
you will walk in good company

I love the best in you
you love the best in me
though it's not always easy
lovely... lonely

we will walk,
we will walk in good company
the shepherd upright and flowing
you see... "

from Jane Siberry's The Valley, sung by kd on Hymns Of The 49th Parallel and the new hits collection

January 12, 2010

Erik Hassle: Video #FOUR!



Erik Hassle's new video: A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind and water. It is cold enough to crack stones, and, when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. They have nothing: just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless cannibalistic bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a rusting shopping cart of scavenged food--and each other.

Oh wait, that's The Road! Sorreee. This is Hurtful by Erik Hassle and it's the fourth video for this song. FOURTH. This one is for America:

Cross on ear
New York City
Quick flashes of sex sex sex
Violence (exploding, gun shot-ty things)
Red white and blue smoke
Love in the midst of destruction

...all ending with the rapture/ascension to heaven

The good news is that Pieces, Erik's album, will be released in America this spring. The single is available for download NOW at iTunes US.

January 11, 2010

Ten Ideas for 2010



1 Greg (Lily Allen / Little Boots) Kurstin collaborates on songwriting for a new Human League album. Little Boots joins Joanna and Susan for vocals on one track.

2 The record industry finally gets off its ass and deals with trade issues surrounding digital purchases across borders. Charge me a small tax per song so I can buy from iTunes around the world.

3 Lucky Soul covers (for a b-side) a Kirsty MacColl song like Free World, A New England (well, that's Billy Bragg) or maybe even the later Angel.

4 The United States government calls a halt to the merger of LiveNation and Ticketmaster.

5 When Rihanna releases the inevitable Christmastime deluxe Rated R, she makes it a Gaga affair with no less than 6 new songs.

6 Vanity 6 is released on CD and The Sundays RETURN.

7 With the gradually improving economy, record labels begin to fund proper music videos once more. doubtful

8 Britain produces two good Britpop bands.

9 Madonna knocks Gaga on her ass with a monolithic ballad.

10 I hit London and meet up with my friends in a pub for an evening. In turn, some of them finally meet for the first time as well.

photo via londonstation.com

Sade, with lasso and sequins.



Sade Solider Of Love label deleted it, surprise surprise.

What more can we expect? She looks as always and the video is probably one her best. Starts out a bit slow and and builds gradually. We've wondered where Sade has been since 2000. Turns out, as suspected, she's been smoking out - or lassoing, as it were - Al Qaeda affiliates in the Middle East. She dances, though she never gets into that line dance at the end, so don't be disappointed. She just stares it down.

This clip will probably disappear, so watch it now or try this.

January 10, 2010

I interrupt this blog for Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks Backstage, Wild Heart:



We all know that a lot the great male rock stars of the 70s fucked Stevie Nicks. If you wonder why, it's all right here in this video. There's something about that level of beauty and talent that is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Let me paraphrase from an email I sent Dan last night about Stevie:

She is an enigma. We don't have stars like this anymore. So original and smart and ARTISTIC. We have a few new ones. Florence Welch being the obvious one from last year. You just know Florence reads all sorts of weird books and likes pre-Raphaelite paintings, etc. Rufus Wainwright grew up loving opera! Little Boots? What the hell moves her soul? Sometimes I feel like, as time goes on, we idolize people who don't have any curiosity. They don't have influences other than really shallow ones like, sorry, Madonna. And it's a vague kind of influence. Nothing MOVES them emotionally. Really, what moves Ke$ha? Drugs, Jack Daniels and cock?
Back to 2010...

January 9, 2010

Marc Almond, back in 2010



Marc Almond is one of those rare career artists that I have a sense of respect for (and pride about). He's consistently done incredible, inventive work for 30 years. His website now reports that he's signed a deal with Cherry Red Records, who will re-issue three albums: Open All Night, Stranger Things and Heart On Snow. They'll be remastered with "relevant extras and existing demos." Open All Night is the first, out in March.

Most importantly, in June Marc is also releasing Variety, his first album of self-written songs since 1999's Open All Night.

XO's Top Ten Plus One Marc Almond Songs

My Hand Over My Heart
Say Hello Wave Goodbye (Almighty Mix or original)
Tears Run Rings video
Glorious
Redeem Me
Happy Heart
Child Star
Jacky
The Days Of Pearly Spencer
Meet Me In My Dreams
I've Never Seen Your Face

yes, not so much Soft Cell. I have some gaps there!

Cover Story: Goldfrapp's Head First



As revealed by Alison on the Goldfrapp blog.

January 8, 2010

Ellie: This love will be your downfall



Preview of new album track This Love (Will Be Your Downfall). Amazing, as PopJustice is fond of saying. And yes, geeks WIN.

UPDATE: I just found a clip of my favorite Ellie demo, Swimming Pool. Stunning. Two months before release, this is already on my 2010 list.

January 7, 2010

Decade's End: The 20 Finest Albums of the 00's



I admit it. I totally burned out on all those bleeding lists at the end of 2009. So I skipped a few I had drafted. Why not whip 'em out now, during these cold snowy days? While we await the February onslaught of new music, the best of the oughties.

The Top 2:

1 Rufus Wainwright Want One 2003
2 Frou Frou Details 2002

and the rest in no order...

Richard Ashcroft Alone With Everybody 2000
Kylie Minogue Fever 2001
Goldfrapp Supernature 2005
Keane Hopes And Fears 2004
Morrissey You Are The Quarry 2004
The Pipettes We Are The Pipettes 2007
Madonna Confessions On A Dancefloor 2005
Pet Shop Boys Fundamental 2006
Will Young
Let It Go 2008
Ladyhawke Ladyhawke 2008
Siobhan Donaghy Ghosts 2005
Tracey Thorn Out Of The Woods 2007
Patrick Wolf Wind In The Wires 2005
Florence And The Machine Lungs 2009
Goldfrapp The Seventh Tree 2008
Sia Some People Have Problems 2008
Rachel Stevens Come And Get It 2005
Imogen Heap Speak For Yourself 2005

Here are more of my favorites of the 00's





Elllie Goulding's arrived



Ellie Goulding has just announced her debut album, Lights, will be out on March 1. I personally think this is THE album to listen for in 2010. Why? Aside from the brilliant Under The Sheets (video) and her forthcoming single, Starry Eyed, Ellie has a lot of great songs waiting in the wings. Wish I Stayed, Guns And Horses, Every Time You Go and the gorgeous ballad The Writer are on the tracklist, with fingers crossed for Swimming. The demo version I've heard is sublime. These songs have the more "mass appeal" than perhaps any of Ellie's peers in recent years. They are folky at heart, very emotional and melodically beautiful.

It's just been announced that Ellie won the top spot on The BBC's Sound of 2010. I predict we will not be let down by Lights...

Quote Of The Week: Morrissey



Blogs like this revolve around the minutiae of pop music. As armchair enthusiasts, we speculate endlessly on how we could run the music business. A favorite topic on blogs and message boards is the "botched" campaign. How we know more than the suits who run the labels.

Morrissey had this to say about the state of popular music:

As we all now know, the world of music is purely market-driven – not even youth-driven anymore. Talent or merit or songs do not enter the equation for a split second; the campaign is the thing, the campaign is what is discussed amongst the public, the campaign is what impresses the press, and the songs are never a factor. The labels will only push the "artists" that they themselves have discovered, and have no interest in the self-made, blah, blah.

I should note that Moz, who this week parted with his management company after a rough year, started the above paragraph with this line:
Even though you see the death of culture all around you, you also want to raise whatever it is you do to a higher plane, yet there is no one, it seems, who can inch the Morrissey thing forwards.
So, we find ourselves in 2010 right back where were in 2000, with Morrissey lacking in a music label or management support. What should he do? I think it is safe to say he does still have some great albums left in him (so to speak!).

January 6, 2010

Lucky Soul: Call Me. I'm Alive!


Filmed in Berlin. It's pleasing to see the band avoid the cliche of that city rendered in black and white. That's so Cold War. This is NOW! From their new album, A Coming Of Age.

Single on iTunes - not sure about the US yet - Jan 11.

UPDATE: Lucky Soul's done a blog post about the video shoot.

January 5, 2010

Waiting for HURTS: Don't let go



HURTS have given a short interview to the BBC for their Sound of 2010 Top 5. Still no clear word on when Theo and Adam, who live in black and white, will release their music officially. We do know that they have dates scheduled for Europe in late February. In the meantime, HURTS are a lovely wallpaper.



This video supposedly cost £20 to make. Well done HURTS.

January 4, 2010

Shiny happy birthday for Michael Stipe



Happy 50th Birthday to the enigmatic Michael Stipe, the man who Casey Spooner (of Fischerspooner) once said "could fuck the chrome off a bumper." It's probably hard for anyone under a certain age to understand that R.E.M. was at U2 levels of fame in the early 1990s. A friend of mine once encountered him backstage and asked him to sign something. This is back in the 80's. He looked at her, looked at a line on the paper she was holding and said "This is the river of the world." That's it. Just "This is the river of the world."

Do you like the dewy fresh airbrushed pre-R.E.M. Michael above? Check out his current daddy look. Nice handlebar mustache! I think this is a more representative depiction of Stipe today.

XO's Top Ten Plus One REM Songs

Nightswimming my favorite
Fall On Me
Losing My Religion
Perfect Circle
Turn You Inside Out
These Days
Sweetness Follows
Drive
The One I Love
Country Feedback
Cuyahoga

Here is a bigger post on R.E.M. from 2007. My Top Ten has changed since then!

January 3, 2010

You give me the tweetest taboo



I started using Twitter in April of 2009 and have since become a bit of a tweeting tramp. I use it only for music related tweets, but I find myself in a lot of mini-conversations with great people all over the world. Thanks to everyone who I talk to there - some of whom are reluctant to post comments here, but are less shy about twittering and I'm very happy about that. xx

My Celebrity Direct Message of the Year - doesn't that sound inane? - is the one above from Maxwell. He was responding to me agreeing with him on the brilliance of Alicia Keys' new song Unthinkable (I'm Ready). Sadly, I did not parlay this tweet into a music-geek friendship... [makes "Maxwellcallme" hand motion]

Which reminds me, I only just noticed, 15 years into his career, that Maxwell has never revealed his real name! All we know is that Maxwell is his middle name and that his father was Puerto Rican so, perhaps, his name could actually be something like Alejandro Maxwell Rivera. We may never know the truth!

Follow me on Twitter!