July 31, 2004

The Great Living Actor Alive Is Still Living!

One of the most anticipated pieces of entertainment this fall is not a CD. It is the book and mniniseries of Long Way Round, the literary and film documentary of Ewan McGregor's motorcycle trip around the world. He got hit by a car, crashed his bike into a Mongolian river and turned into a mountain man, but he is ALIVE 3 mos after starting the journey.

This fansite also has some information. Also a funny section on fan encounters with Ewan. May the force be with you!

Quote Of The Week

Jessica Simpson's metrosexual father speaking to Vanity Fair about her appeal:

“Yes, she is beautiful. Yes, she can sing. But they are not in love with her boobs. They are not in love with her hair. Those things are secondary. America has fallen in love with an imperfect girl who has gas, who stumbles, who makes mistakes. And for the first time they are hearing her sing through new glasses – through the eyes of ‘I love her heart.’”

Who are The Honeymoon?

The Honeymoon. Pretend that The Sundays had twins: a boy and a girl. The boy grew up liking French bands like Air and Phoenix. The girl claimed to idolize Nina Persson of The Cardigans, but secretly played Avril Lavingne and Hillary Duff in her room at night. One day these two pretty teens sneaked into the basement to record an album called Dialogue.

A few weeks ago
I alluded to Sophia Coppola when describing The Honeymoon. Boyohboy was I wrong when I heard the full CD. They are way too poppy to be called indie. Sophia would not copy this CD for Marc Jacobs! Their new single Truth Hurts is a fine pop song, but the sickly sweet vocals, crunchy chords and the techno sheen over the music suggest that they've read the Matrix (producers of Lavigne and Duff) rule book and used every trick in one song. Regardless of anything I've just said, I love this record!

Passive Aggressive remains a favorite of the year for me - the title reveals itself in the fucked up romance of the lyrics. I Don't Know What To Say merges verses reminiscent of Corey Hart with a chorus straight from Enya (yep!). The beautiful soft ballad Come Undone plays like an homage to their "parents", The Sundays, but with trippier production.

I am not sure these two have a big future; methinks Dialogue will be their only CD. Still, I heartily recommend it. They are neither indie enough or pop enough to fare well in this black and white world, so maybe they can produce better songs for the tweenyboppers on the radio.

Samples can be found on the music page of the duo's website.

July 30, 2004

Finn Brothers new website!

Up now. I tried to post a photo, but it wouldn't let me. Beware: this site may be clunky on old computers or slow connections.

July 29, 2004

Review: kd lang's "Hymns Of The 49th Parallel"

kd lang's Hymn of The 49th Parallel is her best record since Ingenue. It's a covers album of Canadian songwriters. When you find a singer as good as kd, you need to also find songs worthy of her voice. She does that consistently on this album (samples here).

kd's Joni Mitchell covers here are very faithful. On Jericho, a song about maintaining a relationship, kd sounds as if she'd stepped into the 1970's to use Joni's arranger. This is a good choice, because it has perfect lyrics, but not everyone knows the song because it was on Joni's obscure Don Juan... album. My favorite bit:

Let these walls come tumbling down now
Let them fall right on the ground
Let all these dogs go running free
The wild and the gentle dogs
Kenneled in me

The revelations for me are the lesser known songs, such as both Jane Siberry compositions, in particular The Valley - she nails the little vocal yodel ("you will wa-a-a-alk") of the chorus perfectly! I used to buy Jane's CDs and then...not. This makes me miss her. I knew both of the Siberry songs on this record, but both seem much better, clearer to me when kd does them. It's true that kd emphasizes the pop in folk/pop, but on Jane's record The Valley is a bit meandering and here it is concise. The hook is elegant because it's used so sparingly in both versions.

Likewise, Siberry's Love Is Everything is a majestic breakup song - I don't quite like the way kd changes the words in the bridge (see lyric booklet and compare), but her voice was made to belt this song.

My favorites on this record remain the Neil Young songs, like the elegant, strummy new version of Helpless. If I was kd's agent, I would get her into the studio to record a new one each week.

A very moving album - should be in my top ten of the year.

Link: kd's new website

Four Seasons in One Night

Last night was the Finn Brothers show and it was, not surprisingly, brilliant. They did "Six Months In A Leaky Boat," a rousing "There Goes God" and - thank God - "Four Seasons In One Day." One of the new songs, "Gentle Hum," gave me chills because they stopped the music and the audience hummed. It was a new song, but people seemed to get it.

Lisa and I were discussing Neil Finn's voice recently. It's always so amazingly strong live - it doesn't wear out, even though it seems like the kind of voice that would. I think he does get credit as one of the best modern songwriters, but people never mention what a great vocalist he is. 

Tim Finn was a crazy-man dancer and told a funny story about how he met a woman at the YMCA here (just around the corner from my work!) and promised he'd put her on the list, but uncharacteristically forgot to do it.  "Is Valentina here? Did you have to pay? Valentina?!" It was a good segue moment because Neil quipped, "I am sure she will suffer never" and then they played "Suffer Never," which turned into a Sonic Youth Moment.  They had a breakdown bit with all this weird feedback - they were all kneeling in front of their monitors fiddling to get the noise!

Here is (most of?) the set list, in no order, from Frenz.com . I will correct it when someone posts the proper one.
Anything Can Happen, Weather With You, History Never Repeats, A Life Between Us, All God's Children, Gentle Hum,  Won't Give In,  Luckiest Man Alive, Edible Flowers,  Nothing Wrong With You, All The Colors, Suffer Never, Angel's Heap, There Goes God, It's Only Natural, Weather With You, Four Seasons In One Day,  I Got You,  I See Red,  Six Months In A Leaky Boat/Pioneer.

July 28, 2004

Shatner covers Cocker

William Shatner has teamed up with Joe Jackson to do a cover of "Common People" by Pulp.  Captain Kirk was meant to sing this song! Here is an excerpt.

July 27, 2004

Off topic sweetness

This may be the greatest blog ever.  Take a look at the sweetness of Shelby...

Boys on film

A new website for Duranies.  These pictures were taken pre-fame in 1981.  There are about 10 screens worth.

For Julie, Joanna and girls the world over...

John Taylor, 1981 (you can click to enlarge, so to speak...as it were)

July 26, 2004

First Apple, now Puma?

Erykah Badu idiotically named her new child Puma! I prefer the name of her first: Seven (and is that Seven 3000, after Baby Daddy?)

Very unrelated reminder:  buy kd lang's album tomorrow!

July 23, 2004

I could be here having tea...

With all the recent British music I have been getting in the mail, I yearn to go have some tea at the Orangery, where I went with my friends a couple of times in May. It's in Hyde Park and you should go...

Our table set for morning tea...
yes, I took these pictures - click on them for a larger view

Grand National

You know what's annoying? Retro for retro's sake. Trying to make throwback seem like creative style. Besides the obvious Lenny Kravitz example, another is The Strokes. I'm not even talking about a lack of songs (see Fischerspooner!) b/c the Strokes had a few good songs. But that didn't stop the second record from being totally stale in its production. What I heard sounded lazy. What's more interesting is to take elements of the past and mix them up with current styles/techniques. Would you wear all vintage clothes or would you mix in something new? The same applies to music. Which brings me, longwindedly, to Grand National.

This is a great new group I discovered courtesy of one little mention by Arjan. Grand National is a super-modern merging of au courant dance/ambient music with traditional songwriting (does this mean I seek traditional songwriting values? Yes.). Reference points might be Phoenix, Air and Rhinoceros. The killer track for me is "Talk Amongst Yourselves" and the CD is called Kicking The National Habit (sorry Etats Unis, it's UK only).

Sadly, as of this writing, the website is under contruction at a crucial moment - they just released their CD two months ago this week- why close the site now? Here is another site with some information about them. When I find some samples, I will post them. Stay tuned.

What is the definition of cool?

this woman

July 22, 2004

Review: Badly Drawn Boy's "One Plus One Is One"

When I avoid reviewing a CD, it's usually because a) it is too good and my comments will be  overly laden with "gorgeous" OR b) I don't want to admit I don't like it. At 14 tracks, the new Badly Drawn Boy CD, One Plus One Is One, is about 4 too long.  And I don't like it. Damon Gough's songs wind around like a slow, drunken drivers who have no home or destination. Perhaps the genius About A Boy soundtrack (AAB) succeeded because he had such a specific assignment? Write about A, B and C and intersperse it with sweet little instrumentals.

"Easy Love" sounds like it could have been on AAB - it's plaintive and honest. Likewise, "The Year Of The Rat" is a worthy first single. It' s classic BDB. He even manages to pull off a children's choir, which usually makes a song sound cloying. In this case, the kiddies sibilant "everybody needsh to know itsh the year of the rat" is endearing. Maybe he should do an alternate mix with Liza Minelli?

"Four Leaf Clover" sounds like it has been running for 10 mins when you're only 3 minutes in. The man needs an editor (see this website page for a visual example). Toward the end, all the songs blend and you can't even tell where one begins or ends. There is flute, piano, bass, guitar, backwards vocals and more kiddies. Too much!  Sadly this is BDB's second dud CD - I didn't like the last one either.  How many chances does one get before it adds up to zero?

I say this lovingly...

Okay, this morning I found a very recent picture of kd, taken June 9, and she has turned into Tony Bennett!

July 21, 2004

"Elvis is alive and she's beautiful!"

The title of this post is a quote about kd lang. Can you guess who said it, in a moment of cleverness?

kd lang is about to release her new CD called Hymns Of The 49th Parallel on July 27th. It's a covers album of songs by Canadian songwriters, including Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Ron Sexsmith (who is still in his prime). You can already sample her brilliant cover of Neil Young's Helpless on itunes (or just get
snippets of a few songs on Amazon). I played it over and over yesterday.

I don't have a recent picture of kd, but the last time I saw her I realized that
Clay Aiken has stolen her look!

Jimmy Somerville

Jimmy Somerville's new single sampled here!!  His German website (in English) here!!

Quote of the Week No. 2

From Michael Musto (I saw it before gawker!)

BRITNEY SPEARS has been engaged for at least 20 minutes, and I just want to say, bravo, girl! (Oh, I'm sure it won't last through the year, but at least Brit's doing what she wants for a change, complete with Kirstie-style ballooning and dangerous nips of ginseng. Practically from birth, she's been squeezed dry by the people around her, who've never turned down a single appearance, tour, video, endorsement, or any other chance to make change pop out of her vagina. They've almost worked the girl to death and now she's finally breaking free, learning the hard way via her own rotten decisions.)

July 20, 2004

Trash Can Sinatras on KCRW

The Trash Can Sinatras have a new CD called Weightlifting coming out later in the summer.  They made an appearance on KCRW on my birthday in March (in honour - sp! - of me?).  You can hear some of the new songs if you play it.

The Book Of Esther

If you didn't go to the show or could not shell out a million bucks for the program, here is Madonna's Tour Program online. It's very arty..

July 19, 2004

Quote of the Week

From a Velvet Rope poster, in reference to Minnie Driver's head: "It's like an orange on top of a toothpick. She'll cry herself to sleep tonight on her huge pillow."

Anne reports that the VR poster was quoting the movie "So I Married An Axe Murderer" and that the above quote is best read in a Scottish accent.

Music Is My Boyfriend

The Hidden Cameras sound so sweet but they are not for the faint of heart. Lisa introduced me to them and their first CD, called The Smell Of Our Own and now they have a new record out in England called Mississauga Goddam (a clever play on "Mississippi Goddamn" by Nina Simone).  It's due out here in September. They're Canadian and sound is folky and very choral - kind of like Belle And Sebastian with harmonies (am I right?). They have also been called the Gay Polyphonic Spree, which is apt. But children beware: the sweet voices mask rannnnndy lyrics. A sample of "Golden Streams" here:
The golden stone builds the golden road to heaven
Held up high by golden streams of ice
My golden bone meets the golden buns
Buns held high in our dreams of men
And that is minor compared to the lyrics of "The Man That I Am With My Man"!! It all reads as crackpot, yet they are amusing on record. The new record has titles like "Music Is My Boyfriend," "I Want Another Enema" and  "Builds The Bone," but somehow this group adds up to more than novelty and they are getting good reviews
Note that Amazon has them linked with The Shins, Postal Service, Broken Social Scene and Death Cab for Cutie, among others.  Just to give you a reference point or four! I don't have the new record, but if I hear it, I will comment on the blog. It's a big hit on Popjustice, my new fave site.

Honeymoon, Part 2

Last week I mentioned my interest in a new group, Honeymoon. Here is what they look like. Anyway, they have updated their website.  They got some terrible reviews, but damn them all, I heart Honeymoon!

New music: Minnie Driver

Yes, how many Minnie Drivers can there be? Not sure her voice is really original enough to make an impact, but I have heard worse. The problem is the songs. The title track and "Down" are okay, IMO, but her music is really lifeless and slowwwwwww.  There are four songs to sample from Everything In My Pocket on her site.

Listen to the Finn Brothers NOW

The Finns played on KCRW last Friday - thanks to Krissy for alerting me via email!  No shocker, it was brilliant.  Take a listen here.  The new songs are genius. Just about 10 days until I see them live.

July 18, 2004

Bjork's ta-tas now online!

Bjork's forthcoming Medulla cover.
Also: check out this link for more CD info.

July 14, 2004

Medulla tracklist revealed!

So, Bjork is not using musicians on her CD, but she IS using a human beatbox. Justine Timberod must be crushed that he was not asked to assume that role. Anyhoo, here is the artsy fartsy sounding tracklisting:

1. Pleasure Is All Mine
2. Show Me Forgiveness
3. Where Is the Line?
4. Vokuro
5. Oll Birtan
6. Who Is It (Carry My Joy on the Left, Carry My Pain on the Right)
7. Submarine
8. Desired Constellation
9. Oceania
10. Sonnets/Unrealities XI
11. Piano II
12. Mouths Cradle
13. Wednesday (Midvikudags)
14. Triumph of a Heart

Lance Bass gets seriously pulled

This is too funny - a website called Awful Plastic Surgery. The top part is George Michael, but the really notable one is Lance Bass toward the bottom of the page. That is some insane shit! Totally new face.

For all you 80's hags there are some scary pictures of Marilyn - the Boy George protege, who now looks like an old crone.

July 13, 2004

July 12, 2004

The Oh Dear Dept: Bjork eliminates the beeetz

Her new CD Medulla will be voices only, no instruments. OMG! Here is what she tells W Mag:

I just got really bored with instruments. I started doing everything with my voice. Then suddenly I didn't want to work with any musicians, which is a bit weird. I only wanted to work with vocalists." She was inspired, she says, by paganism, and the rather esoteric idea of returning to a universe that is entirely human -- without tools or religion or nationalities. "I wanted the record to be like muscle, blood, flesh," she says, pumping her fist. "We could be in a cave somewhere and one person would start singing, and another person would sing a beat and then the next person sing a melody, and you could just kind of be really happy in your cave. It's quite rootsy," she adds, rolling the "r" for emphasis in her native fashion.

July 11, 2004

The Desperation of Liz Phair

She's jumped the shark and become a sex columnist on Nerve (that is not a link for the workplace, FYI). Who does she think she is fooling? Does her new Avril-aged fanbase read Nerve? Regardless, thin Lizzy is no Dan Savage - her column tends toward this kind of statement:

One more thing: I didn't hear you say you loved him. If he's not doing it for you, get a different boyfriend. Find someone you can love, and the sex will be better

Yawwwwn. Someone on the Velvet Rope cleverly suggested that "the responses to two of the five questions on this link were actually written by The Matrix." (a bit of an industry joke)

July 9, 2004

This week's obsession: Honeymoon

A duo. He British. She Icelandic. Both sing and aren't they cute? To me this group is, to quote the articulate Neil Sedaka (then speaking of Clay Aiken), "ear delicious." The Honeymoon describe it this way:

"The songs are gentle because they're like a one on one dialogue. You wouldn't scream into someone's ear if you're sitting close to them...It's like sexy, Sunday music."

Passive Aggressive is the kind of gorgeous modern music I picture Sofia Coppola listening to while sipping a Tazo Peach tea in her backyard. I Don't Know What To Say is a little airier and reminds me of something from the 70's, but I cannot pinpoint.

What's really amusing is that the 3AM Girls - gossip queens in London - chatted them up in their column last week. The record, which will most likely make my Top Ten of 2004, is called Dialog and came out out on July 12 in the UK only. Pffft.

Songs Of The Week

Getting UK Poppy this week, but all of these tracks have balls.

Javine "Surrender" Although she is channeling Whitney and Jennifer Garner in the video, it's Beyonce that should be on the defensive. She's got the legs, the hair, the horns. LOVE this.
Girls Aloud "The Show" Wall of sound electropop, Bananarama as sluts. Can;t find a working link to the song yet. Sorreeeee.
Kelis "Trick Me" Yes, it's vaguely reggae, but not enough to irritate. She is cute and FUN and the album is solid.
Fried "Get Out Of Jail" Horrible band name, good modern soul. Created by one of Fine Young Cannibals. They stole the premise of the song from an Alicia Keys video, so jail it may be...

July 7, 2004

The French get it right with Phoenix

You'd never know Phoneix is French and I suspect they don't care! I first got interested in them with "Too Young" an 80's sounding pop song used briefly in "Lost In Translation." Now they have a new CD called Alphabetical (out here on 7/27)which I do not yet own. Take a look at the Roman Coppola-directed video for their new song "Everything Is Everything" - the band is more clever aurally than visually, that is for sure. I'll review the CD when I get it, really I will.

July 5, 2004

80's Redux

BLUE NILE finally has a new CD ready! It's been ten years since the last. The new one is called High and is due out on August 30 on Sanctuary Records. Read a Scottish newspaper article about it here. If you don't know Blue Nile, do your research.

ALISON MOYET is also releasing a new CD called Voice in September, on Sanctuary Records, which my doppleganger must be running! I suspect it will be a stringy CD because it's being produced by Anne Dudley, who has done strings for everyone. This record mixes oldies (including "Cry Me A River" and recent Bacharach/Costello song "God Give Me Strength") with new songs. Her last record was her first in like 10 years and was really lovely. A good fansite.

PAUL WELLER has a new single in August that's a cover of "Wishing On A Star" by Rose Royce. It's form his new covers CD called Studio 150. His new website is clunky, FYI.

ERASURE (this is for Jason!) have a new CD called Nightbird (hello Stevie Nicks) and a new single called "Breathe" (haven't they already released a single called "Breathe"? Doesn't everyone at some point?). Anyhoo, the whole shebang has been delayed until January 2005.

I guess I should note that DURAN DURAN finally signed with Epic (not Sanctuary, who are wise to avoid this money pit). They trashed much of what they had been working on and are now working with Rich Harrison and Dallas Austin, which means this new record (due in October?) may be a pukey hiphop record. Attempts toward the trendy will fail, old men.

Finn Brothers CD cover

Neil and Tim's album cover. Tim is looking old, but Neil always manages to look the same! I purchased their new EP from iTunes and I am relieved to say the songs are good. All 3 are strong in melody and lyric - and none have the airy Maori sound of Neil's solo work over the last few years.

July 4, 2004

Songs Of The Week

Rufus Wainwright "Waiting On A Dream"
Rufus Wainwright "This Love Affair"
Finn Brothers "Gentle Hum"
Patti Scialfa "You Can't Go Back"
Brandy "I Tried" (for the Coldplay reference and snippet of "Sparks" lyrics!)

July 2, 2004

Trashcan Sinatras get off their asses

Trash Can Sinatras have a new CD called Weightlifting coming out on August 31. You can download the first song Welcome Back now. It reminds me of something but I cannot think what?! It's very crunchy...

PJ Harvey online

You can hear songs from the new PJ Harvey album here. The album as a whole is much harder than her last (which was fucking brilliant). It's a bit too much for me, but I do like "No Child Of Mine" (a wee song), "The Darker Days Of Me And Him," "Shame" and (the single) "The Letter." PS: The first song isn't bad either.