September 30, 2010

2010: Q3: Summer's end

NOTE: This post turned into a nightmare of constant Take-Down Notice emails that never made clear what the problem was. I've removed a lot of links to youtube clips in order to try and keep the post visible.

In no order, my Top Songs for the third quarter - SUMMER! - 2010.
One song by each artist and for this list all of the songs are actually released.
You can hear/see them on myspace or youtube by clicking on the title...

Kylie Minogue Get Outta My Way

Sophie Ellis Bextor /Armin Van Buuren Not Giving Up On Love (album mix)
Dragonette Volcano

Katy Perry Teenage Dream

Robyn Hang With Me

Hurts
The Water
Bim Head Over Heels
Bright Light Bright Light Cry At Films
Hoosiers
Who Said Anything (About Falling In Love?)
One Night Only Say You Don't Want It
Samuel Still Here
Brendan James The Fall

Judie Tzuke
If (When You Go)
Rumer
Long Long Day
Sara Bareilles Basket Case
Ben Folds and Nick Hornby Picture Window

The Hundred In The Hands Young Aren't Young
The Good Natured Your Body Is A Machine


What did I forget?

_____________________________

Worthy recent albums:
Kylie Minogue, Scissor Sisters, Bim, Robyn, Hurts, The Pipettes, The Hundred In The Hands, Ben Folds/Nick Hornby

What's coming:
Rumer
, Rihanna, Bryan Ferry, new Pet Shop Boys single, Adele, Frankmusik, Take That, Sufjan Stevens, Joe McElderry, Belle and Sebastian, Wolf Gang

Disappointments:
Sara Bareilles, Seal, The Script, Mark Ronson (everyone else will love this one), Sarah McLachlan. I am waffling on Brandon Flowers.

This is really serious



That tweet went to 3 MILLION 376,000 people. Following a rash of gay people committing suicide, this is 50cent's response. He has survived NINE bullets in his body, gone onto extreme wealth and fame, but nothing can save that soul. A miserable person taking it out on the world.

The cynic in me thinks that if this makes the national news, it will be be mulled over and "debated" by media pundits, as if there is a right side to this argument.

At the end of the day, what this is about is fear. The world is changing and, for some reason, gay people get to this asshole. Meanwhile, some white-hooded bigot is blathering on about the demise of white America. Who knew the rapper and the Klansmen would be simpatico?

Update 10/1 from Huffington Post on Fiddy's bullshitty non-apology

September 28, 2010

Cover Story: Rihanna



Rihanna's new album cover. And papped below. Beautiful girl.



Not a fan of the new single though. Vocals either too auto-tuned or shouty. Judge for yourself

Fall cannot come too soon

We've had a bit of Indian summer here and it's been most unpleasant. Everything kind of goes... fetid. Cool nights are like this song by Pete Lawrie...



This is Pete, who is like a scruffy, unwashed version of Cheyenne Jackson



Please note that if you do not reside in the UK, Pete's label do not want you to know about him. His videos on youtube are often unviewable and his music is not for purchase online. Such is the state of the music business, which has recently prided itself on international variations of the word "No."

September 27, 2010

A post that needs no text (but has some)



In this age of grand illusion, you walked into my life out of my dreams
I don't need another change, still you forced a way into my scheme of things
You say we're growing, growing heart and soul
In this age of grand delusion, you walked into my life out of my dreams
Sweet name, you're born once again for me

September 26, 2010

Mini-reviews: Fall music



The Hundred In The Hands The Hundred In The Hands

Slick electropop with a ribbon of indie cool, partially produced by the legendary Richard X. Opening with Young Aren't Young, a pulsing night-driving anthem, this debut album is a cross between Uh Huh Her and Miike Snow, more consistent than the former, but lacking the sublime highs of the latter. There are some surprisingly tough tracks like Gold Blood and Dressed In Dresden that betray their New York roots. This debut is pleasingly unshowy and grows with repeated plays.

Download C
ommotion, Pigeons, Young Aren't Young, Lovesick (Once Again), Dead Ending


Ben Folds & Nick Hornby Lonely Avenue

At its best, this is like classic 70s AM pop, lush and clever and full of harmonies. Lyrics by Nick - usually narratives, appropriately - with music and vocals by Ben. A total singalong.

Download Belinda, Picture Window, From Above and the hilarious Levi Johnston's Blues



The Pipettes Earth Vs. The Pipettes

The loss of vocalist Rose Elinor Dougall – aka Rosay - could have been catastrophic for these polka dot obsessives, but this album is salvaged by solid, relentlessly melodic tunes. Stop The Music is characteristic of Earth’s tracks, many of which feature multiple choruses. I Just Need A Little Time is wowsers, with the section from 2:00 to 2:53 one of the most thrilling minutes in pop music this year. But is it really The Pipettes? Doesn’t matter when you’re dancing...

Download: Stop The Music, I Just Need A Little Time, Thank You, the Blondie-esque I Always Planned To Stay



Badly Drawn Boy It's What I'm Thinking (Photographing Snowflakes)

My first impression was "Hurrah! A beautiful fall record." It's very adult this one, and the vocals have a lush reverb that adds to the moodiness. I Saw You Walk Away is one of Damon's most romantic moments... "I've seen the rain coming down and snow fall on your eyes / Seen the sun pouring shapes through your window a thousand times." After a few plays of the album, however, one yearns for an All Possibilities or some other uptempo to break the flat pace of the record. And try as I may, I cannot remember the album title, which cannot bode well.

Download Too Many Miracles, This Electric, I Saw You Walk Away

September 24, 2010

Has there ever been a more smiley popstar than Joe McElderry?



The new Joe McElderry video (which is hard to see if you are not in UK, but may be here) is a record label doing everything right, with old school money spent. We've seen reality stars - Joe won the X Factor - fail so many times because the label doesn't showcase what made them popular on TV. In this case, Joe smiles giddily throughout the video and that is his gold. It's also a buoyant, happy tune, even if it's ripped from another group* who released THIS song THIS year! Joe's version adds an orchestral sweep to the chorus that makes it prettier, but I don't get the auto-tuning on the verses; it seems to be the industry standard now.

As for this "making of" clip above, it's fascinating to see Nigel Dick, who directed some of the most famous videos of all time, from Tears For Fears in their imperial phase all the way to Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears. And I've said it before: I could listen to Joe talk all day.

Last fact: His name is really pronounced Joe Mackle-derry but he professionally changed it.

*The Donkeyboy kids will be rich

September 22, 2010

Red Alert: NEW Goldfrapp, October 11



Alison and Will have surprised everyone by lending a new song, We Radiate, to the forthcoming Vampire Diaries soundtrack, out in the US on October 11 via Capitol Records. Hear a 30-second sample on iTunes US. Sounds very much like a good outtake from the superb (and overlooked) Head First.

That's amore



Looking good.

September 20, 2010

The Case of Ed Drewett.

Ed Drewett's debut single is blindingly good simply for my favorite line: "It's a dilemmatic situation..." It's called Champagne Lemonade. But, in every silver lining there is a cloud. First watch this:



and now the actual recording...



Hmph. I like the first one so much better. The Tim (Xenomania) Powell production on the studio version obscures, for me, the fantastic melody and lyric. He also reminds me on the studio mix more of Just Jack, whom I love, but we don't need another version of. To be sure, the chorus soars. It'll be interesting to see if this takes off. He has the same kind of spark, at least from what we've seen, as Lily Allen had back when she was not a seamstress heavy with child.

If Ed Drewett is not a pop star by this time in 2011, then the fifth horseman of the apocalypse is surely taking a piss around the corner.

Must-watch: Nuhdeen Coyle interviewed by Scott Mills



A year in LA and she sounds like this? As I have said before, I could listen to Nadine Coyle talk all day. She is a glittery patchwork of LA trophy girl glamour and, as we say in America, hick.

Listen for how she says Guy Chambers name ("Gie Chamberrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrs") or how a mental asylum becomes a
"mantle asylum" and her friends are "all me freeeyunds."
Nadine is apparently not a friend to the soft "i" - hence...
"He came to me lovin' rooom..." and "Me mommy and daddy, the love over theyurrr."

I'm eager to her hear do more interviews for this record. As for the single, Insatiable? I hope never to heyurrrr it again.

Thanks to Phil for the clip!

Ronson and The Boy

Mark Ronson has always appreciated singers with character: Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse (who supposedly is not speaking to him), Rose Elinor Dougall, and now Boy George. Ronson teamed up with BG for Somebody To Love Me, which sounds like it may be Boy's best song in years. Mark has always exhibited integrity - he is, in fact, one of the few pop stars to stand up to Perez Hilton- so he gets a pass on that platinum hair!



The other singer is equally brilliant: Andrew Wyatt of Miike Snow, who released one of the finest albums of 2009. The album this song is from, Record Collection, is out on September 27.

September 15, 2010

2009 redux: New old Paloma Faith



...but a brilliant surprise it is: a video for Paloma Faith's Smoke And Mirrors, the one with a big, glittery bauble of a chorus. The show's not quite over either. Paloma has been recording a new album for the past month.

Click on the image above to watch the video.

September 14, 2010

The Case of Willow Smith



That is Willow Smith, scion of the Will Smith-Jada Pinkett-We're-Almost-Scientologists "dynasty." She is soon to release her debut single, Whip My Hair, the first attempt by her parents (in collusion with Jay Z) to launch her pop music career. A few nights ago I listened to the song and was suddenly overcome with a case of the Adult. You see, fierce though Willow may be, SHE IS NINE YEARS OLD.

Here are my tweets and a few responses:

_____________________________

How old is Willow Smith? 9? I am not sure I approve of a kid this young being set up in a career. #callmeoldfashioned Let a kid be a kid

There are lots of child actors but pop music is a different game altogether. Song is clever, but...

I know everyone will want to say they are "whipping their hair" etc.- it's sassy - but what are the odds for child pop stars surviving it?

Jay Z on Willow: "She has a child's innocence but she has a clear vision of who she is and who she wants to be" Please. He sees $tar$

@varnfiesh to @xolondon: I agree. No child is that focused. I'm going to be 20 soon and I don't even have a clear vision of I am/want to be :|

@xolondon to @varnfiesh In these times, I think it takes many people much longer to grow up b/c they have so many options. Not just get married/have kids

@alphableat to @xolondon It's too much for someone so young. Jadyn Smith may be taking on temporary characters, but this is a full-time persona for Willow.

Another good point from @Alphableat never doubt the Intelligence of the Tweep
_____________________________

The whole saga will play out this fall and in 2011. It's sure to be a hot mess, so sit back at watch the child labor. What do you think? Is Willow too young? Jay Z has compared her, presumptuously and tellingly, to Michael Jackson. It's ONE SONG, Hov!

As for the song? Warning: it is an earworm



Clearly, lil Willow has been listening to some Rihanna.

September 13, 2010

Happiness hit her like a train on a track...



Florence And The Machine's performance on the MTV Awards wasn't just good, it was - or will soon be - legendary. Literally the best performance of the night. She was vocally perfect, visually stunning and, this is the important thing, clearly in the moment, occasionally smiling as if she too was blown away by what was happening. It must have been interesting in the auditorium, where you can bet a large number of the crowd had no idea who she was. What Florence does is unlike anything out there right now, not just because she can really belt a tune. She is one of the best and brightest stars to come along in many years.

Click on the photo to watch the performance and also check out this report and video on the rehearsals. UK fans can watch the performance here.

September 11, 2010

Florence in America: The dog days are not over


pic: John Shearer/ Wireimage.com

Florence and The Machine will perform on Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards and apparently Flo is turning it out big time. This is what MTV's Buzzworthy blog says about her rehearsals:
Her VMA performance is an expression of color, music, dance, movement and momentum and pure joy. It was like a little piece of heaven caught fire and fell to earth. From her remarkable modern dancers to a live choir, dancers live drumming, and a digital montage of graphics that range from an enchanted forest to psychedelic swirls. During a dramatic pause during "Dog Days Are Over," the entire VMA production crew, watching Florence from the floor of the Nokia Theater where the VMAs will take place, burst into applause after Florence exploded into song.
Cannot wait to see this. The other night on Twitter, I was wishing for new amazing artists and she is certainly one of a few we have right now. Her music and visuals are so unique, especially in these days of processed pop puppets, and her live show was literally one of the best I have ever seen. In the US, you hear her songs everywhere, licensed for movie trailers and TV shows. Which is good, because she needs big $$ to make her next CD- I actually wish she'd disappear to work on that.

More photos of Florence rehearsing over at MTV. Thanks to Chartrigger for the info.

September 8, 2010

Retro Post: She Who Had The Last Laugh.



Tonight on twitter I was wishing for some new female singers who would shake up the industry like Tori Amos did back in the 1990s. To say I am disenchanted by the rut she-poppers are in this year is an understatement. Tori has a rep as a spacey "fairy," but if you want to hear the other side, buy her live version of Don't Look Back In Anger on iTunes and you will hear a story about Morrissey that's a total jaw-dropper. It's wicked funny and shows her no-bullshit rock'n'roll chick side. Worth a sweaty penny.

Or read this post, I first put up on January 26, 2006:

So I've been reading the Tori Amos book, Piece By Piece, and there is some amazing stuff in there, especially about the music industry and some of the shit that went down following the release of her Choirgirl CD. She had a honcho at Atlantic stand up and literally pound on his desk, screaming "I OWN you, Tori Amos! I own you!" Like a bad movie. I will be sending excerpts to my trolls, but I wanted to quote this little bit for you now...

Tori Amos on the topic of dressing rooms:
We'll often get into a venue and there's nothing on the walls but dingy, chipping paint - this isn't a place where you want to be licking or even touching the walls. It's just a crash pad, and the night before it might have been the crash pad for a metal band - love you guys, but they will have left the place stinking of vomit and stale semen and pussy oil, still pungent on the couch and floor from the human sardines who had a fuckfest. Yum.

September 7, 2010

XO's 10 Cent Music Prize

After the appalling travesty that was Example's win of the PopJustice Twenty Quid Music Prize, I have decided to do the Right Thing and name my own winner.

It is not Hurts in their slim cut suits
It is not Marina with her banshee wail
It can't be Sophie with the legs for miles
And it's certainly not Example in an epic #FAIL

No No No. It's Mini Viva. The legendary she-pop duo whose album may never see the light of day. For these 3 songs alone, I exalt them:




embedding disabled for a shelved band? Here is the Legotastic video



To be fair to PopJustice, all three of these songs were in the Twenty Quid pool - it was STACKED with Mini Viva.

Review: Brandon Flowers' Flamingo


nice jeans

Sweet Baby Brandon Flowers - aka LaFleur - has recorded a solo album. That it may be a pointless endeavor is beside the point. Is it any good? I am ready to pounce...

Flamingo launches with the inevitably titled Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas. I've long complained about Killers relentless use of Las Vegas imagery in their songs and visuals (how many years are they going to keep those damned neon letters on stage?). So Brandon starting his solo album with Tired Las Vegas Theme #1000 is expected, but... the track begins promisingly with synths and a ribbon of slide guitar before unfolding into the most anthemic song he's done in years. There is an unintentionally campy subtext in hearing Brandon sing, "Welcome to fabulousssssssss, fabulous...." Whatever, straight boy, the song is mega.

The second track, Only The Young, is the most Stuart Price-y/"Human" of the bunch, which is a good thing. The vocal has nice reverb and the song chugs on bass and techno-blips. Again, there is more slide guitar, one of the distinctive elements of this album. Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley and, err Jenny Lewis fame) collaborates on Hard Enough. The verses are liquid, with Lewis on vocal harmony - she's mixed high and adds some twang, but the song is built on pop, not country, and it works. Three for three.

Then it goes horribly wrong.
Jilted Lovers & Broken Hearts begins with a gorgeous bass and beat, but it doesn't hold. This one, catchy though it is, fades into a rawk quickly, with tired Vegas card metaphors and "unkind" city imagery. Springsteen is clearly still an influence. I'm actually surprised that hoary old Rick Rubin didn't try to glom onto this project and make Brandon into a rootsy Baby Cash.

Likewise, Playing With Fire also starts nicely, before a chorus that sounds like cats a'wailing. Lyrically, Brandon's cramming the words in, blathering about "rolling rivers" and "charcoal veins," he just sounds like a rube when he tries to go for Big Themes. I always like timpani drums booming, but here they're overshadowed by teensy, tailored LaFluer singing about tilling the fucking ground. When has this pocket diva ever picked up a hoe?

Was It Something I Said - surely there is a Killers song with this title? - is so jaunty, it could be from the Austin Powers soundtrack. Despite dippy lyrics about late night restaurants, it's catchy. Then we're back in Sam's town with the chanty Magdalena. Again, this is a Killers song. Why is he doing a solo record if it's all Killers songs? And somebody needs to circulate Brandon a little; he's done enough of the West. "As a two time beggar..." he wails. Right. The song still works and it needs to be a single.

Crossfire (video) comes on like Christmas with tinkly bells. Sort of tepid as a single, it works well in the context of the album because it's subtle and mature. The "lay your body down" bit on the chorus is one of Flowers' prettiest moments on record. And then
he kills the mood with a corny yokel ballad, On The Floor. My consistent problem is that Flowers sings below or above his station: it's all hobos or heavenly grandeur. And don't get me started on the gospel choir, it makes me cringe.

The final track is the lousy new single, Swallow It. OH, the entendres. What will Rufus Wainwright say when he hears this? For me, the song would be unbearable but for the unintentionally amusing
moment at the end, when he talk sings, "It's gonna be alright. You're a PERFORRRRRMER!"

"Be an advocate of joy" squeals LaFluer.
Fabulous.


Brandon Springsteen in the darkness on the edge of town...

September 3, 2010

A post that needs no text: Kylie



Click on the image to watch the full splendor (embedding disabled)

Madonna rarity leaks



Suddenly there are a clutch of unreleased Madonna songs hitting the net. The latest is a simple piano ballad called If You Go Away, supposedly recorded around 2004. It has been mentioned as being a part of her abandoned Hello Suckers musical, but that seems odd given that it was written by Jacques Brel in 1959. Tidbit: the English lyric was translated by Rod McKuen, the man whose voice you hear at the very beginning of Madonna's Drowned World. She sampled a snippet of his track Why I Follow The Tigers.

Get it from the lovely Camille at Hard Candy...

Madonna If You Go Away

September 1, 2010

Cover Story: Heartbeak on vinyl



The resurgence of vinyl LPs is what I classify as a luxury problem: I find myself wanting to buy albums that I don't need on vinyl just so I can have the cover art and fondle the packaging. The 80's had such iconic cover images. Today's artwork seems driven by the idea that stupid non-music fans will not understand whose album they are looking at without a close-up headshot and the artist's name plastered across the top. And God forbid it doesn't look good on an iPod. Even good acts suffer from this now. Bands used to turn it out with styling, staging, and logos. I am whore for a good font. Here are a few albums and singles to behold in wonderment.









If you want to update your iTunes artwork, check out this Top Singles site. Sleevage is a great blog devoted to album art, and you can also find some gems at Burning The Ground.