June 30, 2006

Primer: Eddi Reader

Do you know Eddi Reader? If you don't, you should because your life will be the better for it. Eddi (wiki here) is most known in America for one song, recorded in 1989 with Fairground Attraction, called Perfect - you know: I don't want half hearted love affairs. It's an 80's classic. Since then she has recorded 6 solo albums of original folk pop material and released an acclaimed album of Robert Burns songs. She's Scottish and spunky and red-haired. The music is many things - folk, pop, standards, etc. Her voice is crystalline, but it has an edge that slices through words in a very pleasing way. If you count yourself a fan of 1) songwriters, 2) women, or 3) humans, then there is no excuse not to listen to Eddi Reader...

What Eddi reminds me of...

Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh on a cold, sunny, windy March day, rainy beaches in Brighton, 1994 - when I lived alone, unrequited love, hearing voices through hotel walls and wondering who those people are, blue glass, a kite, a 50's photograph.

Eddi bits'bobs...

Her brother is a fucking amazing singer as well. You know him as
Frank - or Francis - Reader, lead singer for Trashcan Sinatras.

Her current release is a double live CD called
St. Clare's Night Out and her next album of original tunes is expected before the year's end.

Janet Jackson's current iTunes playlist includes Eddi's ballad Wings On My Heels, which the late Kevyn Aucoin introduced to her.

Eddi Songs...

Saturday Night
Eddi's b-side cover of the Blue Nile classic is better than their version because it's stripped to voice and melody. This is one of my all-time favorite songs.

Fragile Thing
Eddi's 1999 collaboration with Big Country (yes, them!). A perfect song made more moving by the fact that Stuart Adamson proved to be so fragile himself. A bit of a rarity, this one. I spend a lot of cold nights missing you... BUY IT

The Right Place
The first Eddi song to grab me, it's a bit of a manifesto. The lyrics are very strong and her vocals lift them higher: Five or ten lifetimes ago / There lived a girl that you don't know / She walked about and answered to my name..." I also love how she sings the word wind in the first verse, somewhere between the noun and the verb. Amazing middle eight... BUY IT

Eddi Videos...

Perfect with Fairground Attraction via

Joke (I'm Laughing) via
YouTube (great performance from Eddi!)

My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose for all you folkies, on
YouTube. She looks very Bonnie Raittish in this video.

1982: Rip it up and start again! (Hi BRIDGET!)

Orange Juice Rip It Up

One of the greatest songs of the eighties (in this case, 1982), but not very well known in America. What's surprising is how totally unrecognizable Edwyn ("A Girl Like You") Collins is! I would never have known it was him. I discovered this song on my first trip to England in 1995. The actual video, which was just taken down from Youtube has some shots of Regent Street and Oxford Street. Le sigh! This is the Top Of The Pops lip sync.

Cher: Got somethin' I like

I forgot to do my big Gay Pride Month post for the kids, so here it is... Cher stumbling into a 70's gay porn film in "Hell On Wheels"

no trolls, this is not really porn. it is safe for all viewers.

June 28, 2006

Just go ahead and smile

Click on the pic of Lily Allen to get an official album teaser (with some weird added noises) for Alright, Still. Lily's new website is lush!

thanks to Gorilla vs. Bear

June 27, 2006

As promised

Scene: 10:30 pm on a rainy night, home.

[ring ring ring]

Xolondon: Helluh?
Tori Amos: XO, this is Myra Ellen, calling from Cornwall.
Xolondon: Tori? I'm chanting as we speak darling!
Tori Amos: Whatever. Are you exploiting my girls, motherfucker?
Xolondon: Posting your bees? But Tori, I am an Ear With Feet!
Tori Amos: Listen bitch, music is the purest form. That’s where the message is unadulterated, clear and knows who it is. I don't want you to cloud or pervert what the sonic realm is doing. You got that?
Xolondon: But Tori, these girls need to live-
Tori Amos: DO AS I SAY, pussy man! Or I'm gonna have to cut ya!

[click. dial tone.]

Operator expired
Jim Croce cover, circa 2005, recorded for radio broadcast.

Garlands expired
also known as "Washington Square" - a long piece left off most versions of Beekeeper. Harkens back to the early days, especially because it is over 8 minutes.
Siren expired
From the movie Great Expectations (Paltrow version). This predates Choirgirl. Excellent song with an urgent chorus of indecipherable lyrics: "Never was one for a prissy girl /coquette call in for an ambulance/ reach high/ doesn't mean she's holy / just means she's got a cellular handy / almost brave / almost pregnant / almost in love /Vanilla"

The Happy Worker expired
From the movie Toys. Verrrry different.

Spark (live) expired
Excellent live version recorded for Westwood 1 from the Park West in Chicago, 1996.

You don't want to cross Tori Amos. If you didn't see it before, read this post from June 2005.

Fascist little panties

Tori Amos Box Set (5 discs)
A Piano: The Collection
due September 28, 2006

Full details

* = previously unreleased

Disc 1
(note this is full Earthquake CD in alt form)
1. “Leather” (Alternate Mix) 2. “Precious Things” (Alternate Mix) 3. “Silent All These Years” 4. “Upside Down” 5. “Crucify” (Unedited Single Version)* 6. “Happy Phantom” 7. “Me And A Gun” 8. “Flying Dutchman” (Alternate Mix) 9. “Girl” 10. “Winter” 11. “Take To The Sky (Russia)” 12. “Tear In Your Hand” 13. “China” 14. “Sweet Dreams” 15. “Mother” (Alternate Mix) 16. “Little Earthquakes”

Disc 2

1. “Cornflake Girl” 2. “Honey” 3. “Take Me With You”* 4. “Baker Baker” (Alternate Mix) 5. “The Waitress” (Alternate Mix) 6. “Pretty Good Year” 7. “God” 8. “Cloud On My Tongue” 9. “Past The Mission” (Alternate Mix) 10. “Bells For Her” 11. “Yes, Anastasia” (Alternate Mix) 12. “Blood Roses” 13. “Mr. Zebra” 14. “Caught A Lite Sneeze” (Alternate Mix) 15. “Professional Widow” (Merry Widow Version – Live) 16. “Beauty Queen/Horses” 17. “Father Lucifer” 18. “Marianne”

Disc 3
1. “Walk To Dublin” (Sucker Reprise)* 2. “Hey Jupiter” (Dakota Version) 3. “Professional Widow” (Armand’s Star Trunk Funkin’ Mix) 4. “Putting The Damage On” 5. “Bliss” (Remixed Version) 6. “Suede” 7. “Glory Of The 80’s” 8. “1000 Oceans”9. “Concertina” (Single Remix Version) 10. “Lust”1 1. “Datura” 12. “Sugar” (Live from sound check) 13. “The Waitress” (Live) 14. “Snow Cherries From France” 15. “Doughnut Song” (Remixed Version)

Disc 4
1. “A Sorta Fairytale” 2. “Not David Bowie”* 3. “Amber Waves” 4. “Iieee” (Remixed Version) 5. “Playboy Mommy” (Remixed Version) 6. “The Beekeeper” 7. “Jackie’s Strength” 8. “Zero Point”* 9. “Sweet The Sting” 10. “Ode To My Clothes”* 11. “Spark” 12. “Intro Jam”* and “Marys Of The Sea” 13. “Cruel” (Remixed Version) 14. “Dolphin Song”* 15. “Gold Dust”

Disc 5
1. “The Pool” 2. “Never Seen Blue” 3. “Daisy Dead Petals” 4. “Beulah Land” 5. “Sugar” 6. “Cooling” 7. “Bachelorette” 8. “Black Swan” 9. “Mary” (Tales Version) 10. “Peeping Tommi”* 11. “Toodles Mr. Jim” Demo Medley: 12. “Fire-Eater’s Wife/Beauty Queen” (Demo)* 13. “Playboy Mommy” (Demo)* 14. “A Sorta Fairytale” (Demo)* 15. “This Old Man” 16. “Purple People” 17. “Here. In My Head” 18. “Hungarian Wedding Song” 19. “Merman” 20. “Sister Janet” 21. “Home On The Range” (Cherokee Edition) 22. “Frog On My Toe”

Some songs missing: "Happy Worker" and "Song For Eric" and "Siren" and "Butterfly" etc etc. I expect major packaging to compensate! Will update tonight with a few MP3s- maybe some I just mentioned!

Wonders of nature

Torr notes that Chris Isaak is FIFTY today. Good Lord. What is his secret? That's a new pic above, but you can see some new video where he looks a little older. Like, say, 40? Hear the new Hits CD, which I bought and sold in one week (don't ask).

Jessica Simpson's new song

Holiday Affair? Expect a proper mashup soon - this one is more of a comparison. Wonder what the legal issues are for Jessica on this song?

June 25, 2006

Review: Keane's Under The Iron Sea

I so wanted Keane's new album Under The Iron Sea to elicit a big collective orgasm, but really it's just a pleasant sigh. There are indeed some very good songs added to the Keane canon. There's the angry "Leaving So Soon," with an operatic chorus [...and a lyric I dedicate to a complete dickhead in my real life!]. The catchy, but disillusioned "Crystal Ball" is exciting: a stadium armwaver for sure, with a really bad lyric on the chorus and a good one on the bridge. "The Frog Prince" has a sweet fable lyric and the put-a-spell-on-you bit is really beautiful.

Despite all this, the record is not really a transcendant masterpiece. Were my expectations too high? Sure! Did Coldplay live up to expectations after their first CD? Yes, they blew everyone out of the water! As did Travis with The Invisible Band. Take Keane's nice new ballad "Hamburg Song." Why give it such a lame title? Becuase they didn't know what the song was about? It could've been "The Rotterdam Song" if Beautiful South hadn't taken that.

The band have (annoyingly) made much of the fact they were unravelling under the pressures of touring and fame when they made the CD and, to me, you can hear it. "Atlantic" is just such effort to get through - I don't get it! Pretentious! The ecstacy so prominent on their debut is not here, so just go back to "Your Eyes Open." They do try some new sounds, especially on a slow-grower like "Broken Toy." It is to Keane's credit that this and a few other songs (especially the ballads) do not leap out immediately. You have to play them again and again, which has meant the album's come into focus for me after about a month of listening to it.

The identity crisis that "Is It Any Wonder" led me to anticipate is not so bad. That song is overrated, though it's probably strong live. It sounds like u2, which translates to me as a blatant bid for chart success (not even touching that shitty video).

I still say Under The Iron Sea is at its best with the cover art! I'd agree with
Paul that UTIS is not as bad as it seemed at first. I don't know if this album will place in my Top 10 of the year... and that orgasm I mentioned up top? Are Keane lovers who don't try hard enough the second time...or am I just so angsty that I killed the moment?

A good blog called The Test Pilot has a post with some MP3s.

That's what gets results

Fun Boy Three and Bananarama Ain't What You Do

This is older than the hills, but it's actually a good video. Some thought went into it. Also another video that make me feel very old. I would've loved to have been a 20 yr old in the London music scene at this time. So much was happening!

June 24, 2006

The Diva Commentary

Which bubbleheaded blond's new song do I like? Which same song makes me want to throw myself off a bridge for liking? Which same song again interpolates the grandest moment of the grandest song of Miss Ross?...Meanwhile, I still don't care for Janet Jacksonifyou'renasty's lameass new "Call On Me" song which features a pathetic rapper feature with Nelly trying to sing. Big letdown from Janet...I have now heard three new tracks by Xtuna Aguilera and I couldn't give a shit. I commend her for being brave and doing something different that she believes in, but would you realllly want to listen to these songs in your car over and over?...Bouncey, turn your million-dolla badonkadonk right back 'round and start over cuz the screechy "Deja Vu" is and no one cares about Jay Z's lame battle with Cristal. He needs to pick a worthy cause and she needs to stop yelling her way through her own songs.

(can you tell I am a bit cunty today?)

More 83: Peter Godwin

Peter Godwin Baby's In The Mountains

Obscure, m'kay? I used to watch this video on Channel 69 in Atlanta, 1983. They would play track this a lot, along with Golden Earring, Bowie, Altered Images, Adam Ant and an LA show called MV3 that was American/Cali new wave.

June 23, 2006

Lily Allen will make you smyyyle

My post on the JoBoxers was not really out of the blue. I would call them skapop and the same term could be applied to some of the songs by ubercute/edgy Lily "I bin poppin my collar' Allen, who has been the Chloe Sevigny of the blogger set (minus bad clothes / weirdness) for a few months. Her first single was LDN (that's pronounced London, trolls!) and featured a brilliant cycling-through-London video. From that video alone - did you watch it, trolls? - how can you not like her?

Now Lily has a whole album coming out. Think of it as an orgy of influences: the Specials, Madness, JoBoxers, Neneh Cherry, the Kinks, a little Blur, The Jam and The Style Council (whenever I type that, I hear it in an accent that sounds like "Stoile Cownseeel"). All this is filtered through Lily's own off-kilter views of modern Brit life, city culture and people. It would sound great blasting out a car; it's the type of CD that has bits of dialog and hooksallover and layers of stuff going on.
Her lyrics dig much deeper than the tunes, so listen close.

That sharp-as-a-tack
Tremble Clef - who is within miles of me right now, I think!? - did a post on Everything's Wonderful that has mysteriously disappeared. RIAA troubles? I'd love to hear Lily collaborate with last years soul diva/rapper Estelle because they have a similar sensibilty that is basically sunny, but acknowledges the dark edges of life today.

The album is called
Alright...Still and is out July 17, same day as The Pipettes! Christmas in July for the New Pop. I should note that Lily is a sweet girl too: read this post about her bad night on stage. Love. Her. She makes we want to go down to the chippie in my street, eexcept that we don't have a chippie here and we don't say "in my street" in America. ..So it goes!

Must-see link:
Music Like Dirt's page of all thing Lily Allen
Must-see video: Smile below

Blow Madonner, blow.

The best of the extras on Madonna's new DVD is her birthday party. I like it when she molests party guests with the blow-up doll, perhaps because I want to be molested with a blow-up doll. Uh... anyway, I doubt they were really dancing to her own rare 1994 song, Your Honesty! Not sure why it was left off Bedtime Stories. Take a look at Arjan's post on the same topic...

June 22, 2006

Pipettes to XO: Rest yer pretty head

Click on the just-released photo of the Pipettes album cover to get a new track called "Sex"

A-Z affectionately

ABC "All Of My Heart"

MP3 - A good quality capture of one of their most beautiful songs. This album, Lexicon Of Love, is one of the finest of the 80's. Own it now! Anybody clever enough to get the reference in the title of this post? Who broke my heart? You did, you did.

BONUS MP3: ABC's orchestral "Overture"

June 21, 2006

Housekeeping: My new email is xolondon[at]gmail[dot]com (Verizon email sucks hole!). Also, the video posts below now have MP3s attached as well. I am nothing if not value added.
Ultravox "Reap The Wild Wind"

MP3 - Another of my favorite records of the 80's. This was the song I thought of when I first heard "Your Eyes Open" by Keane. Both songs are, in a word, soaring. Strangely, this seems to be a slight remix that adds something funky I don't like. Regardless, love the epic video they did for this...it reminds me a bit of Flambards, for those who are hardcore on their PBS lore.

A 1983 moment

JoBoxers "Just Got Lucky"

MP3 - Love the ludicrous skip-dancing, the dog in the cap, and the whole vibe. Pipettes should do a cover. Makes me happy, this song...

Blogging is boring

If I am going to be sitting around in heat, why can't it be here?

Note: I had a big youtube video post here today, but it fucked up every post on this page for some reason. I had to kill it.

June 19, 2006

The Boy Kate Bush

Patrick Wolf just posted an update on his myspace site. He is in London mixing his new album. He says he is "extremely super turned on for release" but does that mean the album or sexual release? Bring on The Magic Position...

In case you haven't seen it, here is a 4 minute film about Patrick...

And here he is performing a perfect rendition of his song Souvenirs in a lift /elevator.

Just doing my bit to get everyone ready for release...
Lorraine is streaming a very grand (and faithful) version of Psychedelic Furs' classic Heaven on myspace. Will it be included on a new single or album?

I like shoes.

I don't know WHO or WHAT this is, but it's funny. Don't crank it too loud at work as the f-bomb is dropped a few times.

Out today: The Divine Comedy

I sometimes think the age of the album is really over. It only happens for me once or twice a year, that I can say "Wow that is great!" Most albums to me are now just collections of songs, which is fine in the iPod age. Neil Hannon and Divine Comedy delivered a solid record in 2004 with Absent Friends, but it was marred by a few marginal, silly songs. The follow-up Victory For The Comic Muse is in many ways a more complete album, if not perfect.

Recorded live in the studio on analogue equipment, the album opens with a whopping potential hit, "To Die A Virgin" - one wonders if the pussy label execs will even allow that song to actually be a single. The song is a galloping tribute to teen boys trying to get laid. It encapsulates all that is great about DC: witty lyrics that lock together like a puzzle, a sense of humor, a galloping orchestra (nice horns!) and really expressive vocals. Neil should go into acting - he manages to describe a horny boy reading porn under his bed covers, but it comes across as endearing !

Nothing else on the record quite lives up to the promise of "To Die A Virgin," but there are a handful of great tunes. The bonbon of a single, "Diva Lady," is brutally underrated by fans. Spend some time with it and you'll pick up the great lyrics, ripped right out of today's tabloids: "She makes him look hetero / He helps her profile." All the details are here: the shouted backing vocals on the middle eight, the reference to contract riders and special needs, the way he calls the woman Diva, as if it's her name.

"The Light Of Day" is one of those beautiful, chill-inducing Neil mid-tempos (think of "Tonight We Fly"). The oboes and woodwinds are perfect. This one manages to make the end of a relationship sound lovely and optimistic. It's totally wistful in a Frank Sinatra kind of way: "Why must the summer always turn into the fall? / Why must we lose love to ever know love at all?"

"A Lady Of A Certain Age" is a 6-minute narrative in the vein of the epic "Our Mutual Friend." This one is more mellow because the topic is more complex: a rich woman of international stature who is finally aging. She's got young male suitors she's keeping as she jet sets around the world: "And if a nice young man would buy you a drink/ You'd say with a conspiratorial wink / 'You wouldn't think that I was 70?" / And he'd say 'No, you couldn't be!" Throughout the song, the age keeps lowering - a great detail that is typical of Neil's writing. The whole song begs for a video starring Charlotte Rampling or Jane Birkin!

There are a few songs that push too far: "The Plough" features Neil's most arch, theatrical voice, not to my liking. It's pretentious Broadway music, though a lot of fans have raved about it. Similarly, "Count DeGrassi's Passage Over Piedmont" is a too enigmatic, with it's deep intonations about the Adriatic Sea, Catalonia and Fabergé eggs. I think Neil just likes the sound of the words, but it's more a curio than a song.

The album concludes with a poetic image: "Snowball In Negative." The song, a sort of aural version of Merchant Ivory films, is a tinkly slow-burn, delicate and beautiful, with vocals practically whispered. The spiraling piano in the final minute is chill-inducing. I couldn't tell you what the song is about, it's just so brief and pretty. Songs like these make me think we'll see Neil Hannon accepting an Oscar for Best Song or Score in the next 30 years. I heartily recommend Victory For The Comic Muse. Listen to it with hot tea, poured into a bone china teacup so delicate you can see light through it.

June 17, 2006

The Dannii Minogue Songbook?

Dannii Minogue - or is that Daaannnii? - releases her Hits And Beyond CD on Monday. What I want to say about this event:

1) Dannii is not sister Kylie, but she is a good surrogate for Kylie when K's on sabbatical. Her voice is virtually the same, just not as good. Her songs are virtually the same, just not as good.
2) Why would anyone want to buy a full Dannii CD? This record pulls together the best stuff. I loves me some "You Won't Forget About Me." Love it. Got that?
Love. It.
I am drunk on white wine sangria as I type this, so Dannii is lookin' mighty good.
Hear one minute samples of all the songs. Of the new tracks, other than the excellent single, "Love Fight" and "Good Times" seem best.
5) Dannii once had Nip/Tuck's Julian McMahon's dick inside of her. She was married to him, in fact.
6) Dannii is Australian but she spends mucho time in England and England is kicking ass and balls at World Cup.

7) They should have included the Madonna-esque "On The Loop" in my studied opinion. D'ya know it?

"Love Fight" (new track, lots of web chatter about this)
"Who Do You Love Now" (MP3 - stellar dance collab with Riva. A+)
"So Under Pressure"
(better-than-the-video TV performance on YouTube)
Watch Sandra Bernhard do battle against Star Jones and the little rightwing Elizabeth Hassleback on The View. This is funny!

New Lorraine!

Lorraine are inching their way to an album release. Their website has a sign-up for an album sampler, which includes one totally new song, Beautiful Thing. The track is one pea in a pod, if you know what I mean, but it grows on you after a few listens. The chorus is decent, though I agree with one fan who said he hopes they mix it up a bit on the album - they seem locked into a certain tempo. Having said that, their recent b-side Italian Girlfriend is a moody electronic masterpiece. It reminds me of Duran Duran for some reason - it's exactly the type of song that would open side 2 of a vinyl album.

Note also that the stunning, massive Saved is up for listening too, with a slight tweak on the mix. That song has American radio all over it. This was a fave of '05 and it still is..

Hear Beautiful Thing
here and now (click on the Time For New Music link on the right).
You can buy Italian Girlfriend on the I Feel It single.

June 16, 2006

Martha Wainwright brings it.

Look at her! My God! She looks amazing because she IS. Read what the great blog Red Black Window said about her performance of "Stormy Weather" at the Rufus Carnegie show:

"...Tall and oh so sexy... Martha sells this number with a contagious madness. Her hand hovers over the side of her face as though she is about to go mad, I’m reminded a bit of David Byrne’s “same as it ever was…” scene in STOP MAKING SENSE. The timbre of her voice is so compact, full of information, and powerful, I was thrillingly exhausted at the end. The audience lept to their feet. You did it Martha."

Wow. And I missed it. It's really nice to see her finally getting her due. I'll say it again - and I know some of you feel the same - big things are coming for Martha. She is a gem.

Thanks to Roger Bourland for all the reports on his blog!

Long overdue! Click on the image...

June 15, 2006

Titney's complaint

So I got all ready to go to the gym and then I started watching this trainwreck. My God, she makes Jessica Simpson look life Margaret Thatcher. She is literally about as dumb as they come - or just incredibly immature with her pouty lip, tilted head, weak vocabulary (niche, not knack, sweetie), her awwws and ohhhs and gum smacking. Just horrific all around. The worst bit was on the lawn when she was talking about watching home makeover shows. I almost had to cover my ears. Actually, I'll stop: this livejournal post says it best. Who is in charge of her PR? This girl is her own worst enemy.

PS: Like my clever post title? Geddit?

PSB: Always a new day in heaven.

The 2005 movie Syriana * (trailer) tells the story of how young men become jihadists. What is it that makes a teenager turn himself in to a human bomb? The movie follows Wasim (above), a poor migrant worker from Pakistan who working in a Gulf oil field. When the boy and his father are laid off after some shady oil business dealings, Wasim drifts towards a “blue eyed” cleric in a madrassa. After some skepticism, he becomes indoctrinated into Islamic fanaticism, ending with… well, that’s where Pet Shop Boys new song “Fugitive” picks up.

You could read this song several ways, but the conventional, wisdom is that it is about a suicide bomber preparing to die. On my iPod, "Fugitive" is the first song on Fundamental. With its faux orchestral opening abruptly cut by the sound of plane overhead, it's a perfect introduction to an album that’s politics are clear, yet layered in metaphors and imagery. These are not protest songs, but they have an agenda.

Fans, in my opinion, overplay producer Richard X’s golden touch. Ultimately it’s the Boys that are the common denominator in amazing song after amazing song. This is still very much a dark PSB dance song.

The chorus, if you don’t listen to the song too closely, could be about many things: brotherhood, maybe even a gay relationship: "You are my brother / I’m gonna take me with you." It's littered with references to heaven, "the fight" and unity.

Some other thoughts on "Fugitive:"
  • At 6 minutes, the song has a nice stretched out intro, which is another reason I think it would have made a great opening track.
  • The razorish synths chopping through the mix - you can hear these really well in the second minute.
  • The farty synths that sound like a machine dying at about 3:49
Have you bought the CD yet? It is on iTunes in America now and out on disc next Tuesday. The res of the world has been playing it for weeks!

*My little side note about Syriana is that they filmed for several days on my friend's street in DC. I went down to see what was happening, but the stars had gone. They took several days to film Jeffrey Wright's character (the lawyer) going in and out of his row house, sitting on a stoop etc. Huge amounts of equipment, tents, tarps, lights, trucks, etc, it's no wonder movies cost so much to make.
Hmmph. For some reason Blogger is not sending all my comments to my new xolondon@verizon.net address. Some of them get through (all of my own and all of D'luvs), but virtually none of the others do. Caca! Anybody have any ideas?

Rufus Wainwright's continuing education in how to be a legend

Last night at Carnegie Hall, Rufus Wainwright did an artistically brave thing, performing Judy Garland's 1961 Carnegie concert, song by song. I am really happy I get Rufus (some don't), because I think he is such a tenacious artiste. No resting on laurels, always challenging himself. He is building a really solid career. I really would've gone to this, but I just cannot stand most of Garland's songs! Especially that damned clang clang clang went the trolley song.

Read the New York Times review and Reuter's review of last night's show.

A few tidbits, just gleaned:

  • Martha Wainwright sang "Stormy Weather" and his mom performed the quiet encore with him.
  • There were numerous standing ovations.
  • He had a 40 piece orchestra with him. Sheesh!
  • Liza did not appear, but her blond sister Lorna Luft sang onstage with him.
  • Sam Mendes (aka Mr. Kate Winslet) not only filmed this show, but is also doing a documentary on the making of his album, which Rufus says will be "more intimate, and a little starker."

Recent pre-show press from the Philly Inquirer and the New York Post. Rufus also did tons of photo shoots for the publicity - above and below - and he is back in shape after getting a bit paunchy for awhile! I really need me some pants that fit as well as his in the picture above.

Click on the photo for a bonus MP3 that I love, Rufus singing "Chelsea Hotel No. 2"

June 14, 2006

XO's sour patch post.

So much to be disappointed in lately. Let's have a D-List, shall we?

1. The promotion of Goldfrapp in America. Mute failed. Period. The Golden Moment was here and now the Golden Moment is gone.

2. The British music industry's toe-in-the-water approach to artists like Lorraine, The Modern and Alexis Strum. The albums are done, from what we know, so just release them. RThis endless round of singles is silly! Releasing a CD after the third single (hello my beloved Rachel Stevens!) is not a good idea because excitement for the music is gone by the time the CD hits the store. Not to mention all the bloody leaks.

3. Morrissey's... year. There are some very good songs on the record, but so far the b-sides are not really all that. Love him, but it is a bit of a comedown. Having said that, I still want albums from him every other year. See great pics below.

4 Bits of tracks I have heard by Beyonce and Outkast suggest that their lights may be dimming. Bouncey in particular is just way to overexposed. She needs to go away for awhile. Keane, meanwhile, is just sort of there. More on that soon.

5. A certain blog for describing readers/lurkers as leeches and chastising them for not posting comments. Leeches? For music that none of us have a right to post in the first place? I have a number of friends who read this blog and never post, ever. That's just not their style and it's nothing personal against me. I am thankful that anyone gives it their precious time at all.

6. All these celebs, including my own Bitchin' Gwen, selling their baby pictures to tabloids. That is tacky ass shit. I hope they at least give the proceeds to charity.

7. Madonna's utterly lame new video for Get Together. What a waste.

Enough negativity for now. Back to some happy news (like the Pipettes!) soon...

The heart feels free

Some snapshots from my Roman holiday with Moz. The rumors that the new album are about me? A gentleman is too discreet to discuss it...

June 12, 2006

The future of pop music is PIP music.

The Pipettes are so fucking great it makes me want to cry cry cry. They bring the life back to my bruised pop heart. Their website has a biography that is more of a manifesto, which reads as if it was written by the Cappuccino Kid (and if you get that reference, you get a handjob - no google cheats!). Writing about pop music history they say, it “snakes and twists and turns back on itself, a history of ruptures and wrong-turnings. But let us not start with The Beatles. Let us not speak their name.” They are, however, clearly obsessed with Phil Spector and all things girl group, but they also sound like they were born of the sperm of Paul Weller (The Jam, The Style Council). Their debut album We Are The Pipettes, due July 17, is exactly the type of music he was producing in the early eighties for artists like Tracie Young. There is also a heavy dose of early Kirsty MacColl.

What you need to know: They are British, based in Brighton, with 3 girls (Becki, Rose, and Gwenno - who is actually from Cardiff) and 4 guys (The Cassettes, who like to hide). The great indie blog Torture Garden has been their biggest champion.

Girls Aloud are built on all sorts of pop music references: surf music, girl group, electro – they mixed all that with clever lyrics and a certain vim, verve and vigor. The Pipettes are an indie-pop extension of that idea. I’ve noticed one thing is true of many of their songs: they are great pop melodies lifted into transcendence by amazing wallofsound strings and beautiful singing. Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me is a great example: it starts like a Gogo’s track, but then the chorus vocals take it to an unexpected gorgeous place - it gives me chills.

I was playing the lead single
Pull Shapes (see post below) over and over this weekend and my roommate was like, "What is that horrible sound? Get it off now!" I'll convert her yet! Pull Shapes exemplifies what happens when a worthy group gets a good budget and good production. The Internet is leaking with “live on Radio” versions of this song, but the final production is a Technicolor masterpiece. It even has its own crowd noise on the middle eight!

The album may very well be The Album of 2006. ??? 14 songs, the longest at 3:03! It boasts great titles like It Hurts to See You Dance So Well and Because It's Not Love (But It's Still A Feeling). There are uptempos such as ABC (with its chorus lyrics: “ABC, 123…he don’t care about XTC..it ain’t in any of his categories”) and beautiful midtempos like the swoony A Winter’s Sky. Spread the word if you like them…
Viva pip music!

Hear more Pipettes on their
myspace page

Call it a delayed reaction

I just didn't bother to find out about The Pipettes. And then DirrrtyPop (who is onto everything first) posted this fucking brilliant video - a complete rip of a scene in Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls. Girls Aloud must be shitting themselves, especially because the blond looks just like Sarah Harding from a distance. First the Pipettes new video, Pull Shapes:

and now, its source, directed by Russ Meyer:

More on The Pipettes very soon. If you like The Gogo's, The Jam/ Style Council, Girls Aloud, and old Bananarama or girl groups, they are for you.

June 11, 2006

Coolah than the red dress.

A solid rock remix of Madonna's "Hung Up" by Archigram. Good for the gym, but it gets a bit droney (her official "Get Together" mixes all have edits on itunes, by the way). The new Hung Up mix is courtesy of Rocco's Mom via Madonna.com. She must have someone new handling that site because it has vastly improved in the past 8 months.

Britpop Brunch

4 new tracks and a bonus for my trolls...

The Feeling "Never Be Lonely"
Insanely catchy, this is one of those perfect summer songs. It will be in my Top 20 songs of 2006, no doubt. Like Pablo Cruise and The Bellamy Brothers mixed with Elton John and a dash of ELO. Love the harmonies at the end. Get the CD!

The Upper Room "Kill Kill Kill"
Lovely track from their new album every Britpop fan should own.

Keane "Let It Slide"
New b-side that is superior to several album tracks.

Delays "Waste Of Space"
Lovely ballad from their newest record. The middle eight on this one is gorgeous with all that octave climbing from the lead singer.

And an oldie "chaser" that is very American...

Pablo Cruise "Love Will Find A Way"
A major 70's favorite, this reminds me of my permanently barefoot Southern babysitter, Daphne.

June 10, 2006

Message to Paul from Mrs. De Vere

Congratulations, dahling, on your mariage! CHAMPAGNE! ...and call me Bubbles, dahling, everyone does...

June 9, 2006

One of the funniest things I have seen in ages

Watch it through to the end (about 2 mins)

Booboo got jealous

Want to give the cats equal time. This is Jasper, soulful cat extraordinaire. He just got a haircut a month ago. I am not sure which are the legs vs tail in this pic!

When your cat is a bit wired...

Just give her some weed. But watch out or she might develop George Michael syndrome...

What a stoner Lucinda is. She has a little "ball" of weed *in these pics with her and she will not leave it alone. * by weed I mean catnip, silly hos!

June 8, 2006

Friday newsy bits

Rufus Wainwright /
is doing his big Judy Garland show at Carnegie Hall in a week. It is being filmed by Sam Mendes, and one would assume a soundtrack is to follow. He says, “When I am up there singing ‘The Trolley Song,’ it is going to be the gayest moment of my life.”

Read about it in Time Out New York

Depeche Mode /
I got one of the remasters (Music For The Masses) and am disappointed by both the packaging and the way the bonus tracks are on DVD only. Also, the DVD made the blue screen of death appear on my computer! Having said that, the documentary on the DVD is excellent and includes interviews from everyone associated with the band at that time (including Alan Wilder).
Watch the new DM video, "John The Revelator" filmed live in Milan.
Watch official concert footage from the show I went to in December

The Modern /
New songs now online in full: "Seven Oceans" and a potential single called "Questions" on which the lead singer sounds like Tom Bailey of Thompson Twins. Album due in fall.
Hear The Modern now at myspace

Tori Amos /
is recording her new album as we speak! Tori told Rolling Stone recently that the angry Tori will reappear on this record, thank Gawd. Enough of this ribbons and little girls shit!
Read more here, all you Ears With Feet
Check out Martian, the very cool studio she built in Cornwall

Madonna /
is muchly hated by avant garde musician and Bjork disciple Matthew Herbert. The interviewer does make one very salient point: "The whole American Life project was just one wishy-washy statement after another. And during that time, she also started decrying materialism. Two months later, she was in a Gap commercial." True dat!
Read mean Matthew's comments...

Keane /
gets the review they probably deserve in The Independent. One thing I disagree with: Tom Chaplin does not sound like Jon Anderson.
Read the Keane UTIS review
Hear 3 new songs at Noise For Toaster

Finally, what the hell happened to Travis?
It seemed like they would be releasing an album this summer but their website has been dormant for 3 months.

June 7, 2006

Not much time to blog today...

Everybody's got all these cover versions on their blogs, but I don't remember this one being posted recently (maybe I'm wrong). It's the very beautiful Jamelia doing a passionate version of "Numb" by Linkin Park...this is a must-have.
"All I want to do is be more like me and be less like you"

June 6, 2006

Given the various responses to my political post below, I am turning this blog into all politics, all the time. For our first meeting we will gather at midnight in a vaguely Eastern European town with our manifestos, logos and frosted mullets. Some will arrive on motorbike, some by horse-drawn buggy. We will light our torches and wave them... We'll stay the cold day with a lonely satellite. Whatever the fuck that means, we're doin' it bitches!

A slap in the face

UPDATE: Music Slut has my fave new Keane song, "Leaving So Soon" - the one that I did the post for that most of you did not get to see (I hacked out all the good personal bits!). You know, the one where I basically slagged off someone who had been really awful to me a few weeks ago. This song is for that fucker! A slap in the face/ In the face for you now / Just might do now

La semilla del diablo

To celebrate 06-06-06 like very other blogger, I will put up a song. I thought about a song created by the devil ("Muskrat Love" by Captain & Tennille), but decided to go a bit more esoteric and subtle.

The short clip above is from one of the creepiest movies ever made, Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby, released in late 1968. Set in The Dakota, it stars Mia Farrow as a lonely new bride who gets pregnant... and then the weirdness begins. I should note that my mother was pregnant with me during the whole time this movie was all the rage; it won some Oscars the month I was born! God knows what sort of psychological seed this planted in both of us...

Anyway, one of the most notable elements of the film is the eerie music by Krystof Komeda. A few years back, Goldfrapp did a b-side called "Gone To Earth" that is essentially an homage to Komeda. Take a look at the clip above to hear the source music and then listen to the Mp3 below. It's one of Goldfrapp's finest moments and always goes on mixes I make for friends.

Goldfrapp "Gone To Earth"

As a wee bonus, check out this hilarious fake trailer for Rosemary's Baby that make it look like a happy date movie about a woman having her first baby. Love the Enya touch!

June 5, 2006

Keane gets to xolondon

Keane's new album is not a terrible record, but it's no Hope and Fears, not even close. They do nail it on some songs, but there are more than a few meh tracks. I urge you to get the single as the two b-sides are superior to some of the lesser CD tracks.

Full review of Under the Iron Sea coming soon!

Off topic: This IS a political moment

This post will be a bit of a preach to the converted, I know, but indulge me, I've been writing this all weekend .
A quote from George W. Bush in his weekend address:

Ages of experience have taught us that the commitment of a husband and wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society. Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all.

All? All who? Americans? Bush and the Repulican vultures have decided that gay marriage needs to be banned with an amendment. Discussed in Congress this week. Now. Not the economy, not Haditha and other Iraq issues, not slowly collapsing Afghanistan, not Iran's nuclear program, not the crazy-ass Korean leader we've been ignoring all year, not the safety of those in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast, not the billowing environment problems.

Does Bush even believe what he is saying? Questionable. Still, he has proven over and over again that he is a weak man. Americans have mistaken his blind ignorance for "plain-spokenness," his stubborness and hubris for loyalty and steadfastness. You can't even mistake his utter disdain for those who are not "like" him.

I've been thinking a lot this week about my little friends Gaby and Noah, pictured above. They are the children of "two mommies" who are married in the state of Massachussetts. You may remember that the Republicans used to stand for smaller (cough) government and shifting power to the individual States, thus allowing pockets of liberal thought, like... the upper East Coast! No more. I post the childrens' picture not to politicize my friends, but to make a point about the how this affects real people in the real world: Attacking gay unions is a direct assault on the family and so called family values.

Children need parents whose unions are protected to the full extent of the law. How can my friends wanting to commit their lives to each other be anything but a positive development in the state of the American family? It's hard not to worry about these kids when state laws are yo-yo'ing all around them.

Meanwhile, in Birmingham, England, my blogger friend Paul is marrying his boyfriend of six years in a ceremony this coming weekend. He is very happy, as anyone who can maintain a relationship for that long should be! Today he wrote, "Saturday can't come quick enough.." which I thought was really touching. Congratulations to both of them...

Recently Air America (via
Left In The West) gave a list of 6 actions that would actually strengthen marriage. These are not my ideas, but I agree with them:

  1. If you want to do something that actually helps marriages, then raise the public’s consciousness of the dignity and importance of women in our still deeply patriarchal society.
  2. Provide every couple with a guarantee of health insurance that spares them the relational strains inflicted by devastating illness and an inability to pay for medical care.
  3. Increase the minimum wage and offer tax breaks to the working poor so that spouses can see each other for more quality length of time, rather than briefly passing eachother on their way to two jobs.
  4. Cover mental healthcare in medical insurance policies so that serious emotional difficulties can be prevented from tearing marriages apart.
  5. Encourage family planning.
  6. Set aside resources for dealing with domestic abuse.
So read it again:

This week George Bush is launching an assault upon the American family. His attempt to shred both the Constitution and the values this country was built upon (diversity, inclusion, etc) will be remembered as a marker in one of the worst periods of American history.

Fuck him.

June 4, 2006

All these blogs have the same template: coincidence or conspiracy?

One of my all-time favorite songs is up at Invasion Of The Reverb Snacthers: It's The Go Betweens "Rock And Roll Friend" of which I have many! I didn't know this track until I heard Everything But The Girl sing it at a live acoustic show in about 1993ish.

Pop A Go-Go has a fucking last supper of 80's pop: Among them, personal faves "Shout To The Top" by The Style Council and ABC's "Look Of Love" (yippeky yippykyayyyye!). He's even got Haysi Fantaysee, Blancmange, and that fab JoBoxers song.

Looking At Them has the song I long ago chose to be played at my funeral, "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" by Crystal Gayle. I will always have a moment for this track. You can take the boy out of Georgia... Note that I am still recovering from her fab post of Franki Valli's version of "A Day In The Life" which to me sounds eerily like The Beautiful South.

June 3, 2006

Lean over on the bookcase if you really wanna get straight.

On Tuesday a very good CD will be released: Let's Get Out Of This Country by Camera Obscura. I am expecting that this one will end up in my Top 10 based on what I've heard. The title track is sublime and the first single namechecks one of my all-time favorite artists, Lloyd Cole. The song is called Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken - it's an answer to Lloyd's own classic song Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken? which is only one of the finest songs ever written.

Check out the sweet, kicky Camera Obscura video here:

And a bonus Lloyd Cole video (circa 1987) for the amazing Jennifer She Said. The final da-da-da-da-duh-duh bit is one of those pop moments that always sweeps me up.

For those who read the Martha Wainwright post below, click here for major goodies from the show I attended. Her hair doesn't look like it did from the floor.

"Liquid Love"

No, sorry, I am not posting it. Not sure what the ramifications of that would be, but it has leaked everywhere and it sounds more like a completed song than a demo. This is an unreleased collaboration between, as J'ason D'luv would say, The Old Hooker and William Orbit for Music, so it has his distinct sound and very pretty, clear vocals. Not bad really, certainly better than the lesser songs on her new album.

There have been a lot of interesting little Madonna freebies since the album release: Superpop, Fighting Spirit (which sucks), Erotica/You Thrill Me and now this, which I would rank just below the new Erotica.

This week amuses me: First Bouncey announces her next album and Xtuna tries to knock her off the blogs by leaking her new single. Then Madonna squashes both the bitches with a pretty album leftover.

June 2, 2006

I'm living for the weekend, trolls!

Do you like that picture of The Dancing Kids? I think they look like they are on the Madonna tour. If you want to see more, look at Krissy's cultish Dancing Kids pictures. Actually, the kids are here with me now in my office, but I don't have a camera. Will rectify that soon.

Xtuna has a new single out called "Ain't No Other Man" This jury's out on whether it's good or not, but it does sound different and for that I am thankful. Hear it at Popbytes.

Erlend Øye, late of Kings Of Convenience, has a new group called Whitest Boy Alive. Deets at Stereogum. Let me tell ya they are the Dullest Boys Alive. Erlend sounds great in a sqizzy electronic atmosphere on his solo CD and KoC's songs are positively gorgeous. This, however, sounds like unbaked demo tracks, bland and lifeless. There may be decent songs in there, but Øye surely has the money to record them properly. Boo hiss!

Mojave 3 have released the single of the year, according to Torr, and it's called "Breaking The Ice" Hear this jaunty track at Plague Of Angels. Gosh, dont' they sound Amurrrican now? I think it sounds like Neil Halstead is singing "breaking the eyes again"!

Keane's upcoming single "Crystal Ball" has some of the worst lyrics I have heard since... Coldplay! Take a gander at the chorus lines: "Oh crystal ball, crystal ball, save us all, tell me life is beautiful, mirror, mirror on the wall..." Jebus GAWD, that is shit!

Vaginal rejuvenation is all the rage in New York City. Here is the urogynics ad: If your vaginal laxity is severe, or your labia are assymetric or large or bothersome, you may benefit from miminally invasive scar free vaginal reconstructive surgery. I say what about the guys? Does one ball hang lower than the other? How about a ball-lift or dermabrasion of the scrotal sac? Electrolysis of the perineum? Who is doing that, hmmm? What about the dying or plucking grey pubic hairs? Hmmm? Equal rights for men damnit!

Which brings me to my feet. (heh heh, see what I did there?!) I have been using Lush's Pied de Pepper foot cream for like six months and I swear it really works. Product placement = lifetime supply? I put it on every morning and most nights. If you run into me on the street (in some of my bitchin' shoes) you can sniff and lick my feet and you will like it! You. will. like. it. gimp.

30 billion people watch the World Cup, or something like that. So I am thinking I should start writing a them for next year's Cup, don't you? That would surley mean I'd never have to work again. No wonder Embrace sold out.

Finally, this is an Eraser-free zone. The most overrated album is due to be released soon, but why bother buying it when every fucking blog has 3 songs up? Emo-haircutted indolent girlyboys worldwide are sat in front of their monitors wiping the cum out of their underpants. To me it sounds like whining set to blips and bleeps. Open your throat Thom Yorke, and I don't mean that rudely. Really, no surprises here.