June 29, 2012

George Michael is, well done him, alive!


Somehow, a zebra figures in the White Light video.

George Michael's finally released White Light, a song he's been teasing on twitter for awhile now. A literal thank you to fans for their support during his illness last year, it's not at all the expected weepie. Rather, it's a dancefloor track in the vein of Amazing. Fortunately for all of us, the opening auto-tuned vocal is a red herring - he actually sings the song, albeit with a kind of woozy delivery. White Light is not Fastlove, no, but it's a solid addition to George's - err - amazing "canon." The "tomorrow is mine" middle eight is typically sublime. He may be two tokes over the line, but he can still deliver.



White Light is out on August 12 - why so long? There's also a new b-side, this one a cover of Tim Buckley's Song To The Siren.

June 27, 2012

The Remarkable Return Of Gwendolyn Stefani



Bitchin' Gwen turning into Daphne Guinness before our eyes!
See this and more more more on my tumblr,
kicky&fresh. Gwen Stefani

June 26, 2012

Will Young: I Just Want A Lover remix!



Wee Willy's final single from the epic Echoes era?



I just want a lover
Nothing that is complicated
I don't want to know you
We don't have to talk about it
Let us both discover
There is nothing better than just
Lying here together
Staring out the bedroom window

Preach! Note t
here's also an extended mix due out on Friday, June 29. I should add that I am not a huge fan of the video for this song. Yes, it's clever/cute/etc, but I think it would have been more unique for Will to move beyond his common man vibe and give us a sexy video.

June 25, 2012

I was a total devastator, baby.


LOVE Stars! Year after year, they've released great, underrated pop tunes (my favorite being the perfect single Elevator Love Letter). To celebrate their new album, The North, out September 4, they're giving away the opening track, The Theory of Relativity, for free. Stream it below or get in on their website. They've always played with electronica, but do you detect a certain Robyn influence here?



North tracklist:

01 The Theory of Relativity
02 Backlines
03 The North
04 Hold on When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It
05 Through the Mines
06 Do You Want to Die Together?
07 Lights Changing Colour
08 The Loose Ends Will Make Knots
09 A Song Is a Weapon
10 Progress
11 The 400
12 Walls

June 24, 2012

Some videos from Middle Earth...

There's been a recent spate of videos with fantastical themes...

Sound of Arrows Conquest:



Conquest is one of my favorites tracks off SoA's brilliant 2011 debut, Voyage. This video is a surprise since I'd thought they'd stopped promoting the record. How they pull off these mini movies, I don't know. Are they from money?! This is like one of those very expensive, long commercials for Chanel or sports cars...

Alpines Empire:



Give love to Alpines. Empire is total grandeur and a worthy followup to their monolithic fall 2011 single, Cocoon. Let's hope we get an album from these two soon. They're giving us what Bjork no longer does - grand emotion mixed with edgy visuals. Catherine has a great blog, where she posted a behind the scenes on the making of the video.

Apollo Rope:



Apollo is a friend of mine who put together a solid, stylish video for his first official song, the string-laden Rope. He's working a sullen, punked-out water nymph slash waif thing. My fave bit is when his head seems to have burned off and all that's left is blue smoke... I'll bet I'm the first (and last?) person to connect him to Natalie Imbruglia. [xo's to the young man himself]

June 22, 2012

Fiona Apple: I Just Want to Feel Everything



Last night I finished one of the finest artist profiles I've ever read. A New York Magazine piece on Fiona Apple. It was hard to come back to the real world...

In this section, the writer, Dan P. Lee, describes the two year limbo period when her new album was completed but not released...
This is how, at least partially, she’d come about a year ago to some dense California woods, to a cabin beside a very tall hill. She’d planned to spend a week in total silence among strangers, mostly meditating, which she does from time to time, she told me, “to become myself as a child.” Soon, however, she found herself drawn to the hill, which she began climbing and did not stop, eight hours every day. In her head, she heard: Do it, do it, till you’re satisfied. She also heard the rhythm, of the bones and cartilage and sinews of her knee, clicking and rubbing against itself, and though she knew she was injuring herself, she kept going, the rhythm — the click, click, whoosh from her knee — bringing inexplicable satisfaction.
In the piece, there are references to her new (unnerving) video, Every Single Night:



and Elvis Costello's cover of her amazing heartbreak song, I Know.

June 21, 2012

When all else fails and you long to be...

The world is filled with bad news. But then there's THIS...



Kindergarteners from Mr. Avina's class perform Vogue

June 19, 2012

Sam Sparro v London



Two vair vair things I like in one video: 1) Sam Sparro, promoting his (very good) new album Return To Paradise and 2) London, especially Soho. "We" love Soho for people watching. And watch buying, haha.

Sam's LP is out in the UK now, by the way, so easier for everyone to get. It hits US iTunes next week.

June 18, 2012

Jessie Ware does it again



Wildest Moments is the single that will launch her debut album, Devotion. And it's gorgeous.

Wildest Moments is out on August 13th, with the album following on August 20th. Hear more Jessie on Soundcloud or on the tag below this post.

Meanwhile, the tracklisting for Devotion:

Devotion
Wildest Moments
Running
Still Love Me
No To Love
Night Light
Swan Song
Sweet Talk
110%
Taking in Water
Something Inside

June 17, 2012

I always was your girl...



One of my all-time favorite bands, Everything But The Girl, have lovingly remastered and repackaged their first four albums for re-release on the Edsel label. If you have the records already, pony up for them again: the remastered sound is superb, as are the bonus tracks and packaging. Not a surprise given that Ben and Tracey participated so heavily in the process of archiving their early history. They discussed the project, which actually was not their idea, in The Guardian this weekend.

These albums are, of course, very different sonically from their last two albums (the mega Amplified Heart was somewhere in between). For me, the remasters capture an amazing period in British pop: one in which vulnerability, intelligence, wit and DIY spunk were celebrated. With that, here are a few album cuts and rarities worth getting if you decide to pick and choose tracks online. For a far more comprehensive review, read Joe Marchese's at Second Disc.

Eden

Ben and Tracey launched their band with some utterly perfect songs, especially the single, Each And Every One. No drunken party jams for EBTG, these tracks are as smart as anything they've done in their 40's.

Each And Every One
Bittersweet
Fascination
Flawless. Why this song, about a woman plagued by insecurity as she ponders her boyfriend's ex, has not been covered a thousand times, I don't know. Adele, are you listening?
Tender Blue
Gun Cupboard Love
Great b-side




Love Not Money

When All's Well
Something so utterly British about this. Or maybe it's just the line "my love is like cathedral bells."
This Love Not For Sale
Kid
Yes! A cover of The Pretenders song
Charmless Callous Ways
The recording of Tracey's voice with a nice bit of airy reverb is lovely. 1:55 gem.
Easy As Sin
B-side that appears in two versions on the remasters: this is the rare Ben Watt vocal.







Baby The Stars Shine Bright

Come On Home
Appears in multiple versions, all great. Big strings launch a much grander sound for the group. And a new retro bob haircut for Tracey.
Don't Leave Me Behind
Cross My Heart
Alfie
B-side of Bacharach classic. Tracey's voice changed over the course of their first 4 records. On this she sounds much as she does today.



Idlewild

My favorite of the early albums is Idlewild, the one which inaugurated my love the for the band when I was in college. This jazz-folk-pop hybrid is solid all the way through, but if forced to pick some of the best, I'd choose:

Love Is Here Where I Live
The first song I ever loved by EBTG, about not quite tempted to cheat on her lover
These Early Days
There's also a subtle remix of this on the album as well
The Night I Heard Caruso Sing
Ben Watt's finest moment and one of the EBTG's most moving ballads
Lonesome For A Place I Know
Tears All Over Town
Living On Honeycomb
A b-side that's in my top ten fave EBTG songs.
How About Me
forlorn b-side
Dyed In The Grain
How did this not make the album?
Hang Out The Flags
Sleek jazz precursor to their follow-up LP, Language of Love.



These re-masters set a standard for a slew of upcoming remasters by the likes of Jimmy Somerville/Bronksi Beat, Breathe and Kirsty MacColl. Tracey's next project comes this fall: A Christmas album.

Image source

RXolondon: #SavingPop [updated!]



Last Friday night I got a bee in my bonnet and started tweeting ideas for saving pop music. Here are ten... please give me some more in the comments and I'll post them.

Saving Pop Idea #1: Massive Attack returns in August with a 6 minute single sung by... Tina Turner.

Saving Pop Idea #2: Imogen Heap ditches the electro fingerpads bla bla bla (Ted Talk!) and records a new Frou Frou album with Guy Sigsworth

Saving Pop Idea #3: Dan Merriweather records an album that will be as big as 21 and takes his rightful place next to Adele on the the throne.

Saving Pop Idea #4: Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn reunite as Everything But The Girl. 10 songs, 50 minutes. From slamming dance to quiet piano.

Saving Pop Idea #5: Janet Jackson goes back to Jimmy and Terry. 10 songs, 50 minutes, no interludes. Jermaine Dupree locked in a closet.

Saving Pop Idea #6: Lily Allen vs Greg Kurstin one more time. Silly to serious. ONE. MORE. TIME. [ed: this one IS happening]

Saving Pop Idea #7: 2013, Madonna records an album with Paul Epworth producing. Includes the largest orchestra ever recorded for pop song.

Saving Pop #8: Remaster and re-release Grace Jones' Slave To The Rhythm LP, Vanity 6 and all of Prince 1979 - 1992

Saving Pop Idea #9: Do I need to say it? Just two words needed: Roisin Murphy

Saving Pop Idea #10: (last one, unlikely) God realizes His mistake with Michael Hutchence, Jeff Buckley and Kirsty MacColl. And dear old Amy.

UPDATED below with ideas from Countpopula (he posted in the comments). I LOVE THESE:

Saving Pop Idea #11: George Michael with Groove Armada: I think they would have just the right amount of hip soul, beats, and textures as their last record suggests. [XO says: at least work with Andy Cato of Groove. He did amazing work with Roisin and Will Young.]

Saving Pop Idea #12: Annie Lennox with William Orbit: She would definitely bring more soul power to his textures, and might just be nicer to work with than Lady M. [XO says: LOL the Madonna dig, but for sure a good pairing. Those songs on her Hits LP were shit].

Saving Pop Idea #13: La Roux with Stuart Price seems like a marriage made in electro heaven. [XO says: This is not bad, but I think LaRoux is going to pull it off on their own. We should know by the end of the year!]

Saving Pop Idea #14: Dido with Greg Kurstin: He would bring enough umph to her sound to give her a current update and temper her more sleepy side. His production techniques would mesh nicely with her voice.

Saving Pop Idea #15: Hurts with Trevor Horn: Epic epic epic. Let's start a campaign! [XO says: a sly nod to their mentors, Pet Shop Boys!]

Saving Pop Idea #16: Florence with Xenomania: While Paul Epworth has done an admirable job, I think Xeno could make her sound more fun and less bombastic--see the new Gossip LP.

Saving Pop Idea #17: Siouxsie Sioux with Richard X: He could bring enough dark and sinister tones to her edgier stuff while popping up the more accessible material (and the entire Siouxsie catalog finally remastered. This is supposedly happening in a box set; we shall see).

Saving Pop Idea #18: Sia with Emile Haynie. This seems like the perfect marriage, matching her incredible soulful voice to Lana del Rey's producer/arranger. It would bring back some of her serious side.

Saving Pop Idea #19: In a perfect world, I would also love to see Alan Wilder rejoin Depeche Mode and get Flood producing the next record (already being done by Ben Hillier again)

Saving Pop Idea #20: And Bjork reunite with Mark Bell and Nellee Hooper

June 8, 2012

Quote Of The Week: Moz on Madonna



This doesn't need much of set up. It's Morrissey talking in Israel about Madonna, who just played Tel Aviv.

I saw Madonna in concert a few years ago in L.A. and the wasteful distribution of everything extravagant meant to distract you from the fact that she has no talent whatsoever. No one from the crowd wanted to hug her. No one in the crowd wanted to come closer to her. She's the most successful scam in the history of music and she never got a single complement from a person with an actual integrity.... She's not funny, she has no personality. You look at the stage and sometimes you forget that she's even there... But she has an expensive PR machine, so she was probably heavily promoted in Israel, while I would be found in the gutter with my face down, for identification purposes.
My response to Moz, who 1) hates everyone, but mostly himself and 2) whom I have loved most of my life: Please DO retire, you sexless fetid ol' cunt.

Friday's Jam: Jamaica by Van She



Jamaica is
the second single from Van She's new album Idea of Happiness,
out July 6.



A summer jam if there ever was one. Margarita time.

June 7, 2012

All I Wanna Do Is Talk Talk Talk To You


A recent photo of Fiona Apple

For your summer reading/listening, here are five worthy links on five worthy topics

1 The New York Times did a fantastic piece - Jon Pareles, as usual - with Fiona Apple. "Even when now there have been times that I’ve just felt so, so bad,” she said, “I can take myself out of it for a moment and go: "You watch, you’ve felt this way before, you’re going to feel great again. And then you’re going to feel terrible again, and then you’re going to feel great again."

2 Pitchfork interviews the potentially amazing Jessie Ware about her new music. "I started as a backing singer, where you had to let rip live, but SBTRKT taught me about "less is more" and he celebrated a softer delivery. I was really aware that I wanted the record to be listened to and enjoyed, and then I could push it more during the live show."

3 Shawn Colvin talked to the NY Daily News about her new album and book. "I’m a loving person, but I’m a lousy girlfriend. Obviously, it’s not my forte."

4 Gideon Coe interviewed Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn for BBC Radio 6. Fast forward to 2:10 (hrs). Tracey has some amusing comments about the inspiration for her forthcoming Christmas album - her fave pop Christmas tune is mine too: Wham's Last Christmas.

5 Popjustice did a long-ass piece with Cheryl Cole / Tweedy /just Cheryl who seems to not know what her songs or about (or even why anyone would care). "I don’t care that I didn’t write it, I just appreciate other people’s talents. I didn’t grow up listening to songs thinking, 'well they didn’t write it.' I loved those songs because they were great songs, and that’s still how I feel when I’m making my music."

June 6, 2012

Keep calm and MDNA





My apologies for being so sparse in posting lately. I've either been working for other pubs/sites or not had the time to think. New stuff coming soon! You can also follow me on twitter, my awesome tumblr, or you can spy on what I'm listening to via LastFM. xo

June 1, 2012

Jessie Ware's Devotion



Riveting is a word for this. And the album cover too...


Jessie Ware Devotion