June 29, 2005
When I started this blog I was doing it for myself: I wrote it for about 6 weeks before I told anyone it even existed! I named it off the cuff, just to get a name in there. I have NEVER liked Musicquarium - it's uberdorky and a wee bit Stevie Wonder.
So I'm changin' the name. Why Middle Eight? Because I've noticed a tendency in myself to be drawn to the bridges of songs - a bridge is also known as the middle eight. They're like songs within the songs. If you read my reviews, I'll frequently fawn over them. A great song will almost always have a strong middle eight. And no, trolls, it is not my shoe size.
By the way, the signature "I was brought up to the sound of the synthesizer" comes from the chorus of Black Box Recorder's brilliant song "Andrew Ridgeley."
I reserve the right to change it back if I decide I don't like it. I'm fickle that way.
What the trolls are saying:
Whackoff, NJ Correspondent: Riffy, infectious, pared down, and kinda guitar-dancey.
Utility Fish Shed: Amazingly different and very classy.
London: Annie Lennox, Bob Geldof, Coldplay, Dido, Elton John, Joss Stone (barf), Keane, Killers, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Ms. Dynamite, Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, Razorlight, REM, Robbie Williams, Scissor Sisters, Snoop Dogg, Snow Patrol, Stereophonics, Sting, Travis, U2, UB40, Velvet Revolver
Edinburgh: Annie Lennox, Snow Patrol, Travis, The Sugababes, Ronan Keating, Beverly Knight, The Corrs, Natasha Bedingfield, Proclaimers, Texas, Youssou N’Dour, McFly, Bob Geldof, Midge Ure
Philly: Will Smith, Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews Band, Destiny's Child, Jay-Z, Kaiser Chiefs, Keith Urban, Linkin Park, Maroon 5, P Diddy, Rob Thomas, Sarah McLachlan, Stevie Wonder
Paris: The Cure, Craig David, Palcebo, Muse, Youssou N'Dour, Shakira, Sheryl Crow, Dildo - I mean Dido.
Berlin: A-ha, Roxy Music, Brian Wilson, CSN, Audioslave, Green Day, Tokyo: Bjork, Moscow: Pet Shop Boys
sadly Bryan Adams IS performing in Canada, so that will be a good potty break
June 28, 2005
Garbage has several new videos out and Shirley Manson is hawt in each of them. I particularly like the night nurse fantasy in Bleed Like Me (pics above and below). Watch for her waist cinched into that tight corset! Why does this woman complain about her looks?! She is perfect in this video, despite it being a strange choice for a single. Watch it
Other Garbage videos from the new CD:
(see them at the first red link below)
Why Do You Love Me: Watch for the moment at 1:35 with the chocolates.
Sex Is Not The Enemy: The arrest part shot at 9:30 Club here in DC.
Great Garbage Fansite with videos and pics:
Official Garbage site media stuff:
Below is a recent live shot of Shirl. Don't you love her? I am not totally sold on the new album, but I think she is a dream frontperson - a combination of smart, tough, uncensored, playful and goodlooking in an unique, uncompromising way.
On Saturday night I saw the excellent play Lady Windermere's Fan - starring kick-ass Dixie Carter- at the Shakespeare Theatre here in Washington. I'll spare the details here, but I met Dixie Carter after the show and she lived up to every expectation! What I didn't know before I saw the play is that many of Oscar Wilde's best lines come from its text. Here are some favorites:
"I can resist everything but temptation"
"In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. The last is much the worst."
"Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes."
"Nowadays to be intelligible is to be found out."
"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go."
"'What is a cynic?' A man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing."
and my favorite:
"Scandal is gossip made tedious by morality."
Some details about seeing the show, which runs until July 31st. If you live here, GO. If you want to meet Dixie, send some flowers down with a note before the show and they will put you on a list. Why do I think no readers of this blog will be going?
June 27, 2005
June 23, 2005
Noel Gallagher on what he sees as the futility of Live 8: "Are they hoping that one of these guys from the G8 is on a quick 15 minute breakat Gleneagles [in Scotland] and sees Annie Lennox singing 'Sweet Dreams'and thinks, 'F**k me, she might have a point there, you know?' Keanedoing 'Somewhere Only We Know' and some Japanese businessman going, 'Aw, look at him... we should really f**king drop that debt, you know.' It's not going to happen, is it?" (Contactmusic.com)
Thanks to Erika for catching this one!
UPDATE: An additional great story abour Liam G thinking Spinal Tap were a real band. Read it at Stereogum.
I've been loving this euphoric new song by Sufjan Stevens (pronounced Sufyan) song called "Chicago" from his new CD Illinoise. Perhaps he should have Christopher Guest do Guffman style video?
Previously I had confused Sufjan with Devendra Banheart, who is a bit of freak, IMO. Sufjan, who seems to be the Walt Whitman of pop (check out the song titles on the new record), is like a cleaned-up hippie pied piper of all things Americana. Eg: One track is called "Out of Egypt, into the Great Laugh of Mankind, and I shake the dirt from my sandals as I run."
Hear "Chicago" by going to this BBC 6 link and moving ahead to 19:10 (you may need to sit through a Coldplay track!) OOPS -It is now dead.
Download "All Good Naysayers" from his last CD Michigan. More on Sufjan here.
June 22, 2005
"A Fist Called Wanda" and "Annie Get Your Cum".
Shock the Ass
Don't Give Ass
Games Without Ass
Blood of Ass
Washing Of The Ass
Shaking The Ass
Here Comes the Ass
In Your Ass
and my personal favorite:
Digging in the Ass
June 21, 2005
Bananarama, 1983, 12 inch single. Still own this.
Culture Club, 1983. Artsy.
Eurythmics, 1983. One of my favorite songs to this day.
The Motels - aren't they going to be on that Hit Me Baby show?
June 20, 2005
The days roll by like thunder
like a storm that's never breaking
all my time and space compressed
in the low pressure of proceedings
and they beat against the sides of my life
like fists against the sides of my life
and the roads all lead behind me,
so I wrap the wheel around me
and I go out.
- Everything But The Girl, Five Fathoms
Picture courtesy of The Tears, who will probably send me a nasty cease and desist note for using it.
It ain't 1992 anymore, but Brett Anderson still cares about trashy kids in rainslicked Hounslow streets, sniffing glue and looking glam in a heroin-addled way. The Tears is a spinoff of the fabulous 90's band Suede, a group for whom the term diminishing returns could have been invented. Bernard Butler, second from left, walked out of Suede just prior to the promotion of their second CD Dogmanstar - he seems like kind of a dick, but talented! Suede then released their best album (IMO b/c fans won't agree) Coming Up in 1997 and had a string of hits including the perfect "Trash" and "Beautiful Ones." It's the best Bowie album since the early 70's! Meanwhile, Bernard hooked up with David McAlmont to do a few brilliant singles like "Yes" before he pissed off David, or vice versa. So Bernard was stuck doing some slightly wan solo albums, again with a few good singles, and Suede devolved into, well...unlistenable crap. Now Brett and Bernard have wised up, loved up and made up The Tears.
That is a nice build up to this simple point: the songs I have heard thus far from their new CD are PURE UNADULTERATED SHITE. I refuse to delve further. Maybe I can get it for 99 cents in a few months on Amazon? Loving The Tears would be an exercise in nostalgia really. If you have an alternative view, please share it in the comments, but you'd better give me song titles and reasons. If you are some dillweed from their label, I would be happy to remove the picture and leave up the comments!
The Tears website
June 19, 2005
Torr caught it first, that the brilliant Cardigans have finished their new CD called Super Extra Gravity, (which I can already tell I will be calling Super Extra Gravy) and it is due out in October. I love the single title: "I Need Some Fine Wine and You, You Need to Be Nicer."
Let's hope that the stupid American labels don't take a year to release it here, like they did with 2003's Long Gone Before Daylight, which was one fucking great record that everyone should be forced to purchase. For those who only remember them as cutesy retro pop from the 90's, they made a great stylistic leap into something more organic and rootsy. Check out "For What It's Worth" or "You're The Storm" or, for a weepie, "Communication" on the Amazon samples. [Joanna's assignment: go back and play them on the '03 mixes!]
Above is a very recent picture of them in the studio. It's interesting to watch a pretty band age.
June 18, 2005
I have been hemming and hawing about reviewing this new Coldplay CD because 1) I didn’t feel like playing it enough to learn it and 2) I increasingly found myself surrounded by their hype and backlash in way that makes it hard to have a pure opinion on X&Y.
X&Y is an okay album; catchy, good in the car, but not great and certainly not better than U2, as Chris Martin would like or need us to believe. His interviews are clues to the fundamental flaws of this record. One is a desire to be the best arena band in the world, which means that all the songs are manufactured for bigness, so they lose intimacy. It’s a Hollywood summer blockbuster version of emotion. The arrangements all end up at the same point: blazingly anthemic. This is a complete betrayal of what they did on their first CD, Parachutes, on songs like “Trouble” where Chris sounded as if he was whispering in my ear.
The second problem? X&Y is totally overbaked. In fact, it’s burnt! These songs have been recorded and rerecorded so many times there is no spontaneity. You frequently know exactly where the songs will go because they have used every rule in the book. I know you've read where bands say they could have remade their hit record, but wanted to go down a different road? Not Coldplay! This record really is a weak sequel to A Rush Of Blood To The Head. Like, a rush of cash to the bank.
The best song is “Fix You,” a Coldplay ballad that follows all the Coldplay rules, but manages to be pretty and emotional. The midpoint “tears stream down” choir of Chris Martins gives me chills, as does the really pure, unadorned vocal at the very end. The album needs more of that. The “ignite your bones” chorus is actually worth quoting, whereas most of the songs on this record are embarrassing in their predictable rhyme schemes (“What If” makes me cringe: song-wrong-belong?) or vague “wellness” lyrics.
When “Speed Of Sound” came out it sounded pretty, but a little tepid. It ages well considering the bland claptrap that follows it. If you have the single, you may know that Martin removed a good song from the record (“Things I Don’t Understand”) in favor of the pokey “A Message” - that one is supposed to be in his words a “simple song” and it starts that way, but devolves into more Staples Center mush. "My song is love"? More like "my song is meh"!!
The whole first “side” of the record is quite good: I particularly like “White Shadows” and the spirally “X&Y”, but it really falls apart in the second half when the sameiness of the arena rock sets in. I don’t even want to give songs like “Swallowed By The Sea” or “Twisted Logic" a chance. "The Hardest Part" at least channels REM and 10,000 Maniacs, rather than some Dublin band. Still, don’t get me started on the transparently craven attempt to write a song (‘Til Kingdom Come”) for Johnny Cash, a la Bono and Edge. With more truly bad rhymes, it’s nothing special, but you just know Chris worked so hard on it! Well, boo hoo. There’s too much music out there to waste my time with overwrought layers of nothingness.
June 17, 2005
Be sure to also check out their piece on Chris Noth riding the subway in slippers, looking like shit.
Finally, read their most recent Gawker Stalker, a bit I love to read for restaurant recommendations! A few tidbits: Sarah Jessica Paker is nice, Clive Owen has serious "man boobies" (manmarries?), Joan Rivers drops off a urine sample at the gyno, and Rufus Wainwright wears Jackie O sunglasses. I would like to add that I saw mega supermodel Gemma Ward coming out of Other Music when I was in NYC a few weeks ago. I am gooood at spotting celebs out of their normal habitats.
June 15, 2005
Imogen Heap has put together a bitchin' flash teaser for her upcoming Speak For Yourself CD, which is fucking brilliant (review soon)! There is a cartoon Immi on the site, plus a video for her new a capella song Hide And Seek . You can also hear three great songs in full. Check it out, because this is Immi's year...
If you are wondering what Bjork has been up to since her last esoteric offering (Medulla), you can find out on this special website. She's working with her hottie husband Matthew Barney (above) on his new movie Drawing Restraint 9 . Usually his movies are complete freakfests (see Cremaster), so I doubt this one is different. Bjork has done the music for the project, no doubt a further dip into the arcane. Just give me a fucking dance song, baby!
I would actually love to see them collaborate on some sort of short film for her pop music. That would be cool. The Cremaster movies have a lot of really gorgeous imagery and it looks from the DR9 website that he knows how to take advantage of Bjork's beauty on film.
Check it out!
June 14, 2005
this picture seems like a joke doesn't it?
Reasons to like the new Star Wars movie:
1) All things Obi Wan Kenobi / Ewan M.
2) That General Grievous thing that hacked a lot
3) Hayden finally getting it good on the lava planet
4) Well done scenes where Order 66 is executed
5) Nathalie's momentary elevation of the movie to intelligent with this rare gem of a line: "So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause." Ummm-hmmmm.
6) Leaping from #5, the Bush Admin/Iraq parallels in the movie
7) Yoda/Sidious battle - Kenobi/Anakin battle (but shouldn't they have been sweating more?)
8) How Yoda looked like Jasper in moments of that battle scene.
Reasons to dislike/be ambivalent about the new Star Wars movie:
1) Hayden Christiansen
2) Whatsisname Ian McD going from serious actor as Palpatine to freakish b-movie monster as Darth Sidious
3) The general misuse of Nathalie Portman, including horrible marriage dialog and constant staring out of windows
4) I thought it could have used one more space battle
5) Hayden Christiansen
June 10, 2005
Tracey Thorn has spent the past 6 years being a mom to 3 kids. In summer '05 we'll get to hear her first new vocal in ages when she sings the lyrics to Tiefschwarz's new song Damage. In fact, she wrote the melody and lyrics. Cannot. Wait. To. Hear. It. The album is called Eat Books (more info) and it's out in many places on July 4. And yes, the picture above is new, taken this Spring to promote the EBTG remix CD Adapt Or Die. Get it.
June 9, 2005
There's a bit of a hullabaloo on the Morrissey sites this week because of a comment Tori Amos made at her show in Manchester a few nights ago. A fan asked her to play a Smiths song and this is what she said, apparently with some humor (or should I say humour?):
"...and it's not The Smiths. Piss off... It's not Morrissey because he pissed me off. I'll tell you why. (audience: He's a fuckhead!) That's right. Let me tell you why... fuck off! Great band... I can't believe I'm having this conversation with you people. I'm coming out of a tv show, right, it's forever ago, and he's walking past me, this little short guy, and I'm walking past and I have heels on, so I can say that. And I look back and I just said, 'Hey man, you've written great songs.' He said, 'What the fuck do you know?
'What the fuck do I know, motherfucker, who are you trying to sell records to in america you small-dick motherfucker? We never spoke again. So I'm not doing his song. But I like the band and I listen to the songs, but this is somebody else..."
She went on to play "Don't Look Back In Anger" by Oasis, with the steaming irony unintended, I should think! She did alter one key line to "You ain't ever gonna burn my heart out, MORRISSEY." There is some speculation about the story - that she was mistaken that it was Moz she was speaking to, because she describe him as short, which he isn't. Whatever. She really said this! LOL. Read about it in the Manchester Online . See more on the setlist / fan comments at the Dent. I am glad I missed it because the set was filled with Tori tracks I do not like!
June 8, 2005
Maybe she should become a kindergarten teacher?
Anne Bancroft is the star of one of my favorite films of all time, 84 Charing Cross Road. If you have never seen it, rent it or buy it here (note cheap Marketplace copies!).
Stereogum celebrates this kick-ass woman, who was married for 40 years to Mel Brooks, with an MP3 of George Michael's "Too Funky"- check it out.
Krissy, isn't Anne a favorite of yours?
June 7, 2005
Turin Brakes have never, in my opinion, been an album band. They've had two previous releases and I kept neither one. The last CD was preceded by a truly perfect song "Painkiller (Summer Rain)" (watch the video) and then the album was just not up to it. The opposite is true of their new release Jackinabox, out today. The lead single "Fishing For A Dream" is nice LA fantasy, but it didn't leap out at me.
Then I started hearing tracks leaked via various websites. "Among the Fireflies" is fucking brilliant. It reminds me of Jimi Hendrix, though I don't think it's supposed to. This song - the whole record really - has a bit of a Fleetwood Mac vibe to it. Great bass, guitar and harmonies. It's one of several fun uptempos, another being the next single "Over And Over" with it's stompy sing-song chorus. "Red Moon" is an amazing we're-finally-free song that has handclaps, harmonies and tambourines - it's a crunchy stomper of a song, supposedly based on "Hey Ya" by Outkast.
My favorite track is the wispiest: a gorgeous guitar/violin ballad called "Above The Clouds." Another downtempo, the twangy "Buildings Wrap Around Me," has a beautifully written chorus: "With the world before me to break my fall / When this wind behind me won't / The streetlights embrace me, see I close my eyes / The building wraps around me"
Turin Brakes is composed of two Brits: Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian (note that Olly, the primary singer, has lost a lot of weight and grown his hair to a sultry length). Making a third album this good cannot be easy, especially after the relative failure of their last record. You can tell TB allowed Jackinabox to bake for awhile. The details are all here, such as the strange noise on the chorus of "Above The Clouds" and the aforementioned ghetto fabulous/rubbery chorus of "Fireflies." It's great and you should consider trying them out.
Key tracks: Among The Butterflies, Above The Clouds, Buildings Wrap Around Me
Song samples at this website (click on Audio)
Great British fansite with lots of freebies
The funniest thing I have read in days comes from Pink Is The New Blog's bit about Madonna's new photoshoot... check it out here (scroll down past the Ashanti pics). BTW, she is on The View tomorrow. I suppose she'll be nice to Star Jones now that she is a proper kaballahmommy, but I'd rawwwwther see her be cunty to Bridezilla.
June 6, 2005
My weekend trip to NYC was really great!
Among the highlights:
Stumbling into preparations for Alexa Somebody's bat mitzvah, with a pink Hollywood theme, at the Waldorf Astoria. A total OTT event - they had even overtaken the lobby with decorations. How much did this cost? Did the Torah tell them to do this?!
Listening to Killers play live in Central Park without having to pay. We just stayed right outside the summer stage and grooved to my faves, "Mr Brightside" and "All The Things I've Done."
A really delicious pasta lunch at Isabella's on Columbus and 77th Street. The trick is to go to nice places for lunch, thus saving money!
Gazing down at dirty, nasty stag films projected onto the floor of the Museum of Sex. I really didn't expect to be watching 1950's sploob shots with strangers in the middle of the day in Manhattan. Not for the faint of heart. This museum should really be called the Museum of Porn. Pictured below.
Black and white cookies from Zabar's, bagels from H&H and cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery and Eleni's.
Visiting the beautiful Bethesda Fountain in Central Park (picture above), which played such a prominent and symbolic role in Angels In America.
What I could do without:
The incredible nastiness of extreme humidity and heat mixed with the exhaust-filled NYC air. You need a shower within the first ten minutes of stepping outside. I tell ya it is not good for the pores!
The fact that it's not too damn easy to make a crosstown trip on the subway. If you are on the Lower East Side (the LES to the natives!), it's a pain to get back to the Upper West Side - in my humble opinion.
Changes in the music industry killing off the great 9th Ave bootleg stores like Revolver Records (I liked buying Prince boots there in the late 80's). Not just this, but the general loss of grittiness that appealed to a certain side of me when I was 22.
Not finding the CD of my favorite big-only-in-Russia Swedish band, Bodiess Without Organs. Why the hell can't you get it in NYC? You should be able to get everything in NYC.
The sense that NYC, like so many worldclass cities, is now for the extremely wealthy. I was reading an interview with Jennifer Connolly in the shallow/fab magazine Gotham and she said that she could not afford to buy in Greenwich Village. Huh? An Oscar winning movie star (with a movie star husband) cannot afford it!? Pathetic. What will the proletariat do?!
So we had a terrific time, especially thanks to the Whackoff "Home Of Tara Reid" NJ correspondent who joined us for MoSex and everything else on Saturday. Chin chin!