August 31, 2006

Music gets the best of me

Sorry trolls, La Bex has postponed her new record until January,
despite having the video and artwork ready. Le sigh. Until it gets
cold she'll be posing in her panties for Monsoon! So no Bex, but
here are some random tracks to mull over while we await the return
of Paul in 3 days...

Simply Red Oh What a Girl

Dangeous Muse The Break Up

Bertine Zetlitz Midnight

Cut Copy Saturdays

Javine Don't Let The Morning Come

Not pop: Wonderful song alert

All you need to hear is this one song. The band is Hem, the song
is "He Came To Meet Me" from their new album Funnel Cloud,
out on September 5. This is the kind of spine-tingling song that
goes straight through you, if you are a mushy "bloke" like me. It's
of a mood, the wat a movie like The Station Agent was of a mood,
you know what I mean? Everyone is blogging about Hem right now because they're really, really good. Folk-altpop-country, or country-
politan as they've described themselves. If you are a cheap pop tart
or disco slut, you should still listen. Everything converges in the right
way on this song.

He Came To Meet Me (Steve Curtis)

He came to meet me
On some July morning
He said he missed me
He came without warning
We walked for half a day
Got lost in my neighborhood
Came back another way
Just like I knew we would

And he came to meet me
He had some stories
He knew a few of mine
I had not heard his voice
For such a long time
My mind would race a bit
Come back to where we stood
I could not keep hold of it
Although I knew I should
And he came to meet me

I'd seen this whole day
Like it was drawing near
Sometimes I'd pray for it
Sometimes I'd shake with fear
Sometimes the only thought
That kept me in the night
Was one that I'd forgot
In summer's blinding light
And he came to meet me

I wrote myself a song
I could not speak what I'd done
He could've been here all along
He could've been anyone
But there is no one who
Could wake my heart like this
Could break my world in two
I felt a suddenness
I felt a suddenness
The day fell completely still
The dream was a lot like this
But I never knew until
He came to meet me

If don't want to or can't download, stream the song on Hem's myspace. Thanks Torr for the CD with this track.

August 30, 2006

Patrick and Kelly

A new photo of a very young-looking Patrick Wolf with the infamous
Kelly Osborne. His boards always mention that she goes to his shows,
but I didn't need to see it! I am glad that Spawn d'Ozzy has some good sense!

80s videos: Missing Persons

Today's videos are by one of my favorite 80's bands, Missing Persons. If you don't know them, be sure to check out their CDs, Spring Session M (1982) and Rhyme & Reason (1984), especially if you are into The Modern or any of the 80s revival bands. If the videos below fail, try this...

Destination Unknown
is their pièce de résistance and their first pop hit. I love all the 80's clichés in this video, especially how the guys sing their backing parts as if they're frozen and the way they all run around in the night a la Duran Duran. Warren Cuccurullo, who went on to be in Duran (!) looks great in this video. I assume it was shot in England, but I think of this band as so very Los Angeles.

Right Now is a boppy, lesser-known single from their second album. Be sure to check out Dale's homemade outfits, the inexplicable Playboy-esque shots of her smiling (with her big open mouth!), and the waves made of plastic sheets. Real fans should see this slightly scary recent TV appearance. I love their thick Jersey accents.

Finally, check out this previous post connecting Dale and Gwen Stefani.

August 28, 2006

Charlotte est le meilleur

Clic sur l'image to hear the title track of her magnifique CD, 5:55.
Full review soon of one of the finest albums this year.

Read her: No pain, no gain
Learn her: myspace
Admire her: Charlotte's web

XO, you've changed your hair!

Quickly: I never liked the old template: it had nothing to do with my style or personality. I hated the light text on dark background. This new look is going to take while to fix, so don't dig around, it's a mess! Whole posts will be white on white, or look "naff" - but it had to happen. There are still problems, like the way this text is too close to the nav on the right. I can't figure out how to pad that, but it'll get fixed. Anyhoo, I think of autumn like a new year, so this change rings it in!

I'll explain the banner later. xo

August 27, 2006

Review: Kelis puts the shimmy in your cocoa pop.

The Kelis album is out now and its damn good. Period. Kelis has enough personality /smarts to work with a Humvee-full of producers and still sound like herself (unlike some other artists I have complaint with at the moment - hear me JT and JJ?). Yes, it is too long, but I just deleted about six songs from my iPod; someone else can have those and I'll stick with these favorites...

What's That Right There? What's this right here? Oh. This ain't nuthin' but a little sumtin' dat I got. This song should be titled "Hiding My Candy." It could easily be about tranny hooker who has picked up a john who -wink wink- likes a pretty lady. You know, with tiny lady testicles. Seriously, what exactly is she singing about ? An extremely large clitoris? A piercing? Big ol' badonkadonk? Whatever, it's damned catchy.

Till The Wheels Fall Off I love the whole I'm serious I'm serious refrain which I find myself repeating in my head. This is more of a groove than a song, but it encapsulates Kelis' weird merging of guitar rock, hip hop and old school soul horns.

Living Proof Kelis fans know that there is always something sweet on her records - she comes across as a wise city girl (in fuck-me pumps) who would be there for you in a pinch. Don't be fooled by her bravado or her grillz, she is an honest chick. Actually, I have no fucking clue, I'm just extrapolating from her music. Kelis, call me!

Lil Star Ms. Jones collaboration with Cee-Lo Green, the voice/soul of Gnarles Barkley is some fantastic shit. A big Camberwell carrot of a song! A soul classic that marches through its verses (carrying the star metaphor all the way) to a lovely caramel chorus supplied by Cee-Lo. I love the end of those choruses: Cause in the dark of night night you're all I can see and you sure look like a star to me. Instant pleasure.

Blindfold Me A bit hardcore for me, but I like this ode to bedroom tricks. Should I get in my Benz and go bounce it up and down at Haines Point (holla Krissy!). Love the bad grammar in the chanted chorus: when he wanted he blindfold me, then I get sexy on!

Circus K's manifesto about her career and the state of the biz. Listen close, Cassie. I like the merry-go-roundish feel to it. Which reminds me, this album does not have any circus barkers inviting you in to the greatest show on Earth - the most trite trick of the year.

I Don't Think So Oh ma gawwww. Like Kelis goes girl on girl with Joan Jett and Pink. Max Martin produced this soon-to-be-radio classic with a phenomenal multi-tracked b-chorus (or is it a middle eight?): you can drive, you can flyyyyy... Just because they want doesn't mean they can have you.

I could go but I will stop there. Please buy
Kelis Was Here and support our girl's Louboutin fetish.

Bertine is keeping your cool after midnight

Bertine Zetlitz returns with her new single called Midnight - it's the second teaser for her CD My Italian Greyhound, out in Norway on September 18. Other tracks on the record include the chic epic 500, Dragging Me Down, Get What You Deserve, This Time and Obsession.

August 24, 2006

Hold onto your kite, just don't let me down

Yes, darklings, that is an official new portrait of Patrick Wolf in anticipation of his upcoming single "Accident And Emergency." As always, he brings it with the artwork.

Depeche Mode's unnecessary new hits CD (cash cow!) looks kind of ugly and has only one new track, "Martyr". Look at the
mini-site for it.

SONG: Kelis
Lil Star with Cee Lo of Gnarles Barkley

"Headlock" will be Imogen Heap's new release on October 2nd with artwork by
Ryan Obermeyer. The radio edit will be backed with "Mic Check" (a new vocal-only song) and the vide. There's also going to be one of those U-Myx thingys which enables you to mix your own version.

Ever wonder what happened to
this band? Their last CD sucked, so it seems like I haven't heard them sing sinng sinnng since 2001.

Goldfrapp You can hear the fantastic Flaming Lips remix of "Satin Chic" - called Satin Boys Flaming Chic or something at
Goldfrapp's myspace page. It's short, sweet and lush. Meanwhile the Homo is back with the MP3.

SONG: The Divine Comedy Absolute Power fantastic new b-side

Jay Jay Johanson has already finished his new album The Long Term Physical Effects Are Not Yet Known and it's not a dance record.

Have you seen the
Tori Amos boxset? It is quite deluxious. Tori turned 43 on Tuesday!

I will definitely be seeing The History Boys. This is the same cast that has been perfoming the play onstage. For those of you who know Alan Bennett's work, you should be sure to read his very short novella called The Clothes They Stood Up In - you can get in it on
Amazon Marketplace for less than a dollar.

SONG: Frank
Never Left A Girl Rachelesque

The new BWO video for "Will My Arms Be Strong Enough" is fucking mental.

Albums I will not be buying: Bouncey Knowles, Justine Timberrod, Jessica Simpson, Parisian Hilton. Je suis desole, I've heard it all before, heard it all before.

August 23, 2006

I believe that is called al fresco.

Our Girl Lily Allen's new video for "LDN":
nice reggae parrot!

and the old one as well (I think I prefer this one):

M: Can we get together? But first, SHUT. UP!

First, the whole basis of this post comes from fan site Madonnalicious, so "props" to them. The recent Madonna-meets-Germany story makes me smile. She is a such a ballbuster and I say that with love and respect. Here's the story: Madonna goes to Germany where the police are shilling to the press about how they want to arrest her for the crucifixion scene in her show. Madonna spends, or so she says, a day fighting with the police and her soundcheck gets delayed. As showtime approaches, the crowd is let into the arena and what do they find? A makeup-less Madonna doing the sound check!

I'll let the fans from
Madonnalicious finish this story:

Jean-Baptiste: When we came in the LTU Arena around 6 p.m, Madonna was standing there, without any make-up or wardrobe, rehearsing! Of course, when we saw her, we started applauding her, but she asked us (very politely) to be quiet (several times in fact): 'I said be quiet please, this is very technical, this is not the show. Thank you' she said, point her sparkling riding crop at us! Then she explained that there was a problem with local police and that's why the rehearsals were late.

Ken: ...we came in and the mirrorball was down and open and nobody else than the Queen herself was on the end of the catwalk; no make up, but looking not happy! Of course we couldn't believe our eyes! She spoke to the audience;
I had a terrible fight with the police all day so I didn't had time to do my rehearsals, so I am going to do that now so I am not happy that you are already here so consider it as a huge privilege and I appreciate your silence!

I love her when she is severe - and what better place to be severe than Germany?

The Upper Room in mistreatment shocker!

Perhaps you read my growling post about Radio 1's treatment of The Upper Room. So did Jim, guitarist from The Upper Room, so he sent me this note:

Hey, thanks for the attention on your site and your kind support. Here's a copy of a reply I posted on our forum today. Please don't feel as if if you should use it, although there was honestly no intention to give the impression we were tailoring our new sound for any kind of mass market!

It seems there's been a bit of a misunderstanding...We were planning our new sound a long time before we found out Radio 1 wouldn't play us! We actually found out just as we were putting the finaltouches to the new song. "Tailoring" a sound for Radio 1 would be nigh on impossible anyway. The main intention of the new recordings is to make them sound as live as we can, playing a take from start to finish with minimal editing and punching, focusing on the mood of the performance over the slickness of the production. This makes far more sense musically to us and will hopefully carry our music through the fickle and myopic fashion trends (to which certain radio stations are quite definitely party to...) which can date music as quickly as they can make it popular. We hope you like it!
Cheers, Jim
The Upper Room

I'll say it if he won't: Radio 1's programmers are a bunch of fucktards. Here is their playlist with some good stuff and some crap. Guillemots over TUR? I don't think so!

August 22, 2006

Gazing into my crystal balls

While everybody freaks out about how godawful the latest Robbie Williams track is, I am looking forward to "Lovelight," the next single from 1974. Mark my words, the PopJustice boards will be singing the praises of this song very soon. Tonight I heard Robbie's version and it's fucking brilliant, perhaps the best thing he's ever done, barring "No Regrets."

Click on the picture to get Lewis Taylor's excellent original of "Lovelight" but know that Robbie brings it to the next level!

August 21, 2006

XO in love: I want you to be the champion.

St. Albans, above, is just north of London. It's a pretty little town where my cousin (British Bridget!) used to live. The first few times I went to the UK, I used St. Alban's as my base. The picture above is just below the cathedral there. I am posting a few tracks from the heighth of Britpop ('95/'96), some well-known and some more osbcure...

Pulp Mis-shapes video
Classic! Expect a huge post soon about the album this is pulled from, Different Class. We need more heroes like Jarvis in the 21st century.

McAlmont and Butler You Do video
What train station was the video done in? Mc&B did a couple of perfect songs about relationships. Listen to how gorge it is at 2:30ish... and I love the first line: "I want you to be the strong one."

Supergrass Alright video
Can you think of a happier song? It should be noted that this band has produced a farrr more consistent catalog than the Gallagher Bros.

Reef Place Your Hands video
Place your hands on my hole. Run your fingers through my soul. Ummm hmmm.

Suggs Camden Town video
I think this was his first solo outing, post-Madness. Cute video. Camden is stinky, but fun.

Strangelove Beautiful Alone
No video for this lovely song that perhaps only Torr will recognize (or maybe not!)

Cast Walkaway
This album was just out when I first went to England. It had a great cover and this was the pretty ballad. I am surprised John Power did not stay in the limelight.

Bluetones Slight Return video
Wistful song - I think Paul posted this recently. I'm not sure they ever matched this moment though.

Manic Street Preachers A Design For Life video
Monolithic. I am not overstating it to say this song belongs in the top 20 songs to come out of England. Ever. Libraries gave us power. Librarians too!

Dodgy Good Enough
There should be a video for this but I couldn't find it. Dodgy are trashed by critics now, but I like this song! Lead singer ended up working in Tesco at some point. Such is a pop life.

The image below is Bridget and I in St. Albans in May 1996. Yes, that is ME, xolondon, and no, it's not current, but that's what you get! In fact, a co-worker saw that pic today and said, "That's you?!" incredulously. What can I say, 10 years of drugs, streetcorner hooking, chainsmoking and... answering reference questions... has taken it's toll.

Arjan streaming NEW(er) Dangerous Muse.

click on the image to hear Arjan's Muse exlusive

A post for Samuel

George The Revelator?

A mysterious person sent me this today and I liked it!

The songs that you sing, do they mean anything?

Oui, that is ma cher Charlotte Gainsbourg in the video above, singing her new song. J'adore her completely and will be her faithful servant. Le sigh as they say en Francais...Paul has returned with a full report from the V Festival. A must-read...The always good Music Like Dirt has a piece on Neil Hannon. Love this blog...PopJustice has the complete deets on Robbie Williams new CD that has too many songs and too many covers and one shit lead single...Speaking of which, I got a smackdown by some idiot on PopJustice last week for saying that MTV star Fergie is slutty. Well, just what does "London Bridge" mean?... Arjan is linking to the very first Dangerous Muse video. It sacrifices any sense of style for what looks like guaranteed airplay. Not what I was expecting, but the song is still a worthy hit. How can you not want me? I'm hawt... NME does yet another track-by-track of The Killers CD...This post actually used to have many more goodies, but Blogger ate them like a greedy fucktard, so this will end here.

August 19, 2006

XO Music Lesson: Debbie Harry's KooKoo

While listening to the new Kelis album - Kelis Was Here - this week, I also had need to get out my old turntable. It occurred to me there's an album that's really a template for what Kelis is now doing in the 21st century. It's also a record that most kids today will have never heard: Debbie Harry's KooKoo.

Released 25 years ago this fall, this album was way ahead of its time. Produced by Nile Rodgers between his productions of Diana Ross's Diana (the one with Upside Down ) and David Bowie's Let's Dance, it featured a scary HR Giger cover image (above): Debbie skewered by huge nails/needles through her face. No one really knew what to think of the image or what lay inside the sleeve: a fusion of rap, pop, rock and slinky Chic disco that somehow pushed ahead of Blondie's own version of that musical mash-up.

Debbie recorded the album with Chic as her backing band, along with partner Chris Stein. On the bouncey album opener Jump Jump, with typically weird lyrics, Debbie's vocal sounds so young you could almost mistake her for the not-yet-discovered Madonna. Only 2 tracks are easily available today* (via iTunes): “Backfired” and “The Jam Was Moving.” The former is straightforward rock-pop and the latter, about the "hidden power in the groove," has a wicked clicky rhythm on the chorus and slightly processed guitar.

Now I Know You Know is a lazy, gorgeous ballad that reminds me how amazing Debbie's range was. Just when you think the song is going to languish into a dull groove, it has a twist: in the 4th minute she delivers a brief spoken manifesto before the song becomes a jazzy sort of fern bar samba.

The album also includes "Whip It"-inspired rap music (Military Rap) that predates Timbaland and Missy by 15 years and Under Arrest, a pop-punk track. Surrender is what might happen if Chrissie Hynde had recorded Like A Virgin. Remember, Debbie was Madonna before Madonna was Madonna. She did it with seemingly no effort - in fact she was frequently almost louche and non-committal in her performances. She was - and is - cool, while others (including M) seek to acquire coolness.

*2012 update: A remaster of KooKoo is now available via Gold Legion. It is also more widely available on iTunes.

August 18, 2006

As promised: "When You Were Young"

pretty good!

There is a God and her name is Tracey

Tracey Thorn reports that her solo CD is done! She says, "After years of making records with Ben, it just seemed time to take a break, and do something fresh.. I've got together with a few different producers/ collaborators, and we've come up with a record that (I hope) is a true reflection of who I am right now and what I love right now."

The album, out on Virgin Records in March, includes:
  • Raise The Roof: a "shimmery piece of Scritti Politti-style pop"
  • What TT calls "some serene techno emptiness" with Martin Wheeler of Vector Lovers
  • A song that is "a bit of modernist heartbreak house" with ambient DJ Alex Santos
  • King's Cross: yes, the Pet Shop Boys song (!) done with harmonium and a brass band..
  • "An amazing pastoral arrangement of flutes and flugels" by Charles Webster
  • A-Z: about gay teenagers getting bullied at school
  • 7 new tracks done with collaborator/producer Ewan Pearson
  • Get Around To It: a cover of Arthur Russell's song that has "wonky freakout sax"
  • It's All True: The first single, described by Tracey as "pure early 80's New York dance pop," co-written with Sasse and Darshan Jesrani (aka Metro Area)
  • A piano ballad that sounds like "The Carpenters on acid"

A Valentine better than a chocolate box. To tide us over, some extraordinary tracks by Tracey and the original PSB track...

EBTG Mirrorball (DJ Jazzy Jeff Soul Full ReMix) exp

EBTG Miss You Any Further (EBTG vs. Dennis Edwards) exp

EBTG Two Star exp

Pet Shop Boys King's Cross exp

August 17, 2006

Well, maybe ONE post...

The Killers preview. What, did Oliver Stone do a two-hour movie
for this video? A bit pretentious, but one has to admit it
looks faaaaahbulousssss

I cannot wait for this album. I will surely morph into
a teenager waiting for it.

August 16, 2006

Happy Birthday To The Queen

I remember going to someone's house to watch this commercial - this was the first time anyone had heard this song. No leaks in those days. I thought then, as I do now, that it was idiotic for Pepsi to pull the commercial because it's very innocent. Love the platinum skunk stripe. Love the song more.

August 15, 2006

England didn't want them...

Xolondon can exclusively reveal that The Modern are poised to
take America. They're releasing an EP (on disc) called The Dirty
Blonde EP, including these tracks: Suburban Culture, Industry,
Modern Love. No date yet, but sometime in early fall. Here's a
sample that may or may not be on the EP...

The Modern Discotheque Francais expired

Divas downhillin'

Yes, I've been ignoring the old school divas Janet DJ Dupree and Bouncey Knowles. Why? Because Janet's single sucks caca and Bee's is a rewrite of "Crazy In Love." Note that Bee's next single is ass and Janet leaks a new one late this week. Here then are some remixes that better the original first singles...

Deja Vu (Freemasons Radio Mix) expired

yes, it would be better without Jay Z

Janita Ho Call On Me (Moran And Rigg Radio Mix) expired

it's better, but you can really tell how weak her vocals are

oohooh, that's my baby's shit

Some might say I used to be just a tad obsessed with Bitchin' Gwen (look on the blog around mid-2004 and you'll see what I mean). Well, she is off my radar until there is some new music. In the meantime, I like how rastababy Kingston dresses just like Gwendolyn. Do you think Mommy is spending her time plotting a new look now that Xtuna stole hers?

August 14, 2006

Goldfrapp mixes coming soon

Click on the scary picture to hear 2 samples. "Boys Will Be Boys" is actually a studio version, not the live version (yeah!) and the collab with Flaming Lips sounds delish. Love how they multi-tracked the word lipgloss.

August 13, 2006

Sangria Sorbet Mix

I had a very nice weekend, especially because I discovered an amazing and not-fattening treat: sangria sorbet. A woman in quaint Del Ray makes it and now I want to go all the time. I have no idea how it was made, but it tastes just like red wine and has little shavings of orange and lemon zest in it! Sangria is one of my top 5 drinks, so I kept saying My God! as I ate it. Speaking of which, I spent this afternoon in the Bishop's Garden at the National Cathedral. Pretending I was in England, of course. Here is my Sunday evening mix...

Frank Silence
Whether or not the CD is a collection of Girls Aloud castoffs, this song is just as smooth as that sangria sorbet. Sad no one will hear it (except you!).

Brand New Heavies Love Is
I know that I claim not to like their new CD, yet here is another creamy track from N'dea et al. I was not in a fast mood this weekend, as you can hear.

Captain Build A Life
An it's-going-to-be-alright sort of tune, soothing on a Sunday night. This one presents a more mellow arrangement than much of the CD, which is released tomorrow. I think Paul and Maria would like this one a lot. Am I right?

Roddy Woomble If I Could Name Any Name
My new favorite from his excellent folk CD, this one featuring a guest appearance by folky Kate Rusby. A real grower, this song - I love his voice and am happy to hear it so clearly in this new context.

Feist Now At Last
This is not pop, but a lovely, woozy standard performed by indie gamine Leslie Feist on her '05 CD (she channels early Rickie Lee Jones here). The kind of song played in a dimly lit room at the end of the night...
In my Captain CD review below, I referenced several 80's acts... these are groups everyone who loves British music should know! Here they are:

Prefab Sprout Cars And Girls
Single from their 1988 album From Langley Park To Memphis
Prefab Sprout Bonny
Beautiful album track from 1985's seminal Steve McQueen (aka Two Wheels Good)
Deacon Blue Love And Regret
Swoon! My fave song by them, from 1988's When The World Knows Your Name
Deacon Blue Loaded
Single from their perfect 1987 debut, Raintown
XTC King For A Day
Late, poppy XTC from 1989's Oranges And Lemons

Music links

There is now a blogroll on the right! Don't be insulted if you
aren't there. It is very specific to the blogs I tend to use the most
for music info and it will evolve. One reason I have never had one
before is that I didn't want to get into the politics of that: to link
or not link. This list certainly does not reflect all the blogs I love
and/or read often.

August 12, 2006

Radio 1 to The Upper Room: Go fuck yourselves!

Radio 1 have told The Upper Room to give up on their debut album - they refuse to play it. Read this note from bandmember Jim:

As for the new single.....basically Radio 1 won't play anything of ours off the album. We plugged Kill Kill Kill and Never Come Back and they won't touch them so it's left us in a bit of a quandry! (I guess they'd rather stick with the Feeling and Orson).... so anyway we've written a brand new track called "Bad News". It's quite a diversion from our usual stuff and we're hoping you guys will get it. If not don't worry, there'll be plenty of stuff coming along in the months to come. Try checking out some of the B-sides on iTunes if you haven't already (shameless plug!!).
Not sure if the slam against those other bands was warranted, but what a shitty world we live in. Terrorism and Upper Room bannings! Recently, I think on the PopJustice podcast, Neil Tennant lashed out at radio and TV programmers who think they are taste arbiters. Bravo Neil! The Upper Room deserve to be heard. This taste arbiter says FUCK RADIO 1!

Anyway, it does make me wonder if they are changing their style in order to appease Radio 1. Do they have a guarantee the new song will be played? The whole thing smacks of Clear Channel in America - a thuggish, payola driven corporate entity which supports moralist conservatives while shoving Pussycat juice down our throats.

So, for your pleasure and instruction, two beautiful pop songs you will not be hearing on the radio...

The Upper Room Kill Kill Kill expired
The Upper Room Never Come Back expired.. .just like this band

August 11, 2006

Review: Captain's "This Is Hazelville"

Captain release their debut album This is Hazelville on Monday in the UK. Produced by the maestro Trevor Horn, this album captures a crisp sound that was prevalent in the mid-to-late 80’s via bands like Prefab Sprout and Scotland’s Deacon Blue. This is not cool or edgy music – it’s sweet and melodic and glossily arranged. Immaculate is a good descriptor. I’d be surprised if Hazelville ever sees a release in the cynical US, though it is shockingly polished for a debut. Captain, like The Feeling and The Upper Room, wears its heart on its sleeve with no shame.

The record opens with “Hazelville” a song that begins as the aural equivalent of a swimming pool glowing at night. Tinkling piano, acoustic guitar, layers of muted pop rock guitar layering on, as if the band is walking onstage one by one. At 1:24 a soft, high male vocal arrives, just before a palatable squeal of electric guitar launches the drums and arena bass. In the last two minutes minute the song moves into arena rock anthem territory and you realize this band has fully arrived, literally.

New single “Glorious” represents the album perfectly. It opens with a shimmering guitar line that adds bass and a slightly Asian set of synth notes. Lead singer Rik Flynn has an elastic voice that he manipulates into several variations over the course of the album. At times he has the breathy quality of Prefab’s Paddy McAloon (Paddy Mac remains at the top of the heap as the most empathetic singer in pop). On “Glorious,” his voice has a choppy, gurgling quality that recalls Andy Partridge of XTC. Female co-lead Clare Szembek flutters in and out around him to supply a sweet alternate. This kitchen sink of a production pulls out all the pop stops: massive middle eight, choral effects and the same plucked strings (hear 3:14) found on Horn’s recent PSB productions.

Previous single “Broke” is a personal favorite, with its distinctive Trevor Horn production that amps up until it explodes into a pop… fantasia (how's that?!) after the middle eight. This literally chiming track could easily been recorded in 1986 and I mean that in the best way! I love the male/female harmonies and the bubbly lyric, “You’re the best champagne to cure my lows…” (see what I did there Paul?).

Other standouts include “Build A Life” a subtle, almost acoustic midtempo. It reminds me of another song I cannot quite place (any thoughts?). “Wax” is pure Prefab goodness a la Steve McQueen, while the vocals on the strummy “Summer Rain” sound a bit like Chris Martin. My only complaint? They left off the perfect “Spring Park Hotel”how did this happen?! Buy the two track “Glorious” single to get it.

I can’t quote you a lyric from Hazelville, but like Deacon Blue’s or The Sundays’ tunes, these songs have a strong sense of place and time: “It’s a glor-or-orious town” has been stuck in my head for weeks. Ultimately it’s the sound of the songs as a whole, more than their parts, that make the record glow. It’s also a grower: I don’t think anyone who hears it would proclaim to instantly get it. I played it in my office constantly over the past 10 days and have come to love it.

Please buy Captain. It’s made me so happy and is truly one of the top 10 pop albums of 2006.

Captain's website and myspace / stream the full CD on NME's site / hear an interview with the band on the BBC / download these (up short-term only)... (note that I'll add a post this weekend with songs by some of the other groups mentioned above)

Captain Glorious expired
Captain This Is Hazelville expired

August 10, 2006

1986: Model Turned Singer

Nick Kamen ft. Madonna "Each Time You Break My Heart"

MP3 [expired] Written and produced by Madonna & Pat Leonard. The video is pretty good, except for the fact he dances like Boy George and looks at the microphone like he wants to suck it. What is he wearing, you ask? It's the 80's, I say back. The video is actually filled with Y-list 80's faces like Talisa Soto and the little boy Felix Howard, who also appeared in Madonna's Open Your Heart video, numerous spreads in The Face and grew up to be a songwriter. Nick is now 44, FYI (see Nick in 2002). Here also is a recent Attitude piece on him and some more MP3s. The comments on this post should be amusing!

News: Beware Of The Dog!

My sister Cassie The Dog is my blogstar today (see Jamelia news below). Doesn't she look, uh, intense here? ha!...This morning, once again, terrorists whip massive fear into our world to ludicrous degrees. Live your lives and don't think about it!...Euphoric reports that Neil Tennant is consulting with Rufus Wainwright on Rufus' self-produced 2007 album...Listen to The Boy Least Likely To's version of "Faith" ...Hotstuff Files interviews Alexis Strum, who promises upcoming suprises and looks v. pretty in the piccie...As hoped, gone-to-the-dark-side Joe Lieberman, who Laurie and I encountered on a sidewalk last fall, is on his way out. Good riddance!...Anyone heard the new Javine song? How is it?...How about a podcast with Pedro Almodóvar and Penélope Cruz. That's art!...Popjustice bets that The Song Of 2006 will be "Beware Of The Dog" the next one from Jamelia. Her current single (on a good music blog) is fine, but overrated, which happens in August...Paul has the new Dangerous Muse single! Act fast...Finally, the cunt that is Victoria Newton (and that's being nice: this woman has a place next to Ann Coulter in hell) does a track by track review of the new Killers CD.
Terror Note: Clear, milky substances are now being used as bombs.
Next time you join the Mile High Club and have a little spillage, beware, you could die.

August 9, 2006

The Modern Sims

I love how geeks are creating new videos using the Sims in place of
the artists... I bet the Sims' house has CDs by The Modern, Lorraine
and Alexis Strum. Fock, they probably even have a Lisa Scott Lee
album (in their to-sell pile) and Rachel Stevens' all-Richard X follow-
up to Come And Get It...

August 8, 2006

The Sound of an Album Cover

It's time to comment on some early autumn album covers. For me, an album cover should reflect the contents, but should also have an iconic image that could carry over for years. Please comment! Babs Nelson, I know you like this feature!

Disco ball stolen from Lady Ritchie. Well-cut suit, but the facial expression is skank.

Beautiful, gravity-utilizing photo that doesn't reveal the unkind person she is.

Awesome. This cover captures Kelis, who is kicky and fresh. It's so very Sammy Davis Jr! Red shoe bottoms an epic touch.

The picture itself is dynamic, but there are far better. They were not a punk band. They were not The Who.

Fantastic. It almost makes me want his music (snark, yes). God lives in those 70's/deco fonts!

Ludicrous. Bee's been wearing this stupid hair everywhere lately. That must be the theme that ties it all together.

Do you see the old crone or lady with a feather in her cap? Actually, I really like this and their fonts are deluxe.

This made me cum. Violently.

Your sheets are dirty, the streets are dirty too...

Torr sent me this nice piccie of Razorlight. If you click on it you can hear an audio stream (WM) of their new popcockrock single "In The Morning." I think that the Razorguy to the left of J-J-Johnny looks like Virginia Woolfe or maybe Roberta from Garp. I mean that with the utmost love.

Uh, anyway, Torr is a Los Angeleno now. I really need to come to Southern California. One of my closest friends is there, as are more than a few fabulous bloggers, artistes, editors and sluts (not to mention the
Dog Whisperer, who I'm obsessed by lately). If I come to LA, where should I gather my illustrious e-friends? Or should I just go out with each of them, one by one, until I am positively spent?

Unrelated PS: GO AWAY JOE LIEBERMAN. The love is gone.

Madonna takes Roma...


August 7, 2006

Wolfiness and Swede-ocity

One of my favorite new blogs is Lycanthropy, the title of which refers to Patrick Wolf (searching on his name is how I found the blog). From what I can tell, the writer is from Canada and he is visiting his friend Jesse, who has moved to Japan for a period of time. It's a really fun read, the pictures are very good, and it makes me want to go to Japan even more than I did before. There is MANIC pop culture there. I have been to Narita airport and I love Japanese candy, but that doesn't count, does it?

This is as good a time as any to bring you another delightful slice summer indiepop-ness. This is Peter Bjorn & John (three Swedes because everyone cool is Swedish or Norwegian!) singing "Young Folks" / MP3

Side note - does EZArchive cost money? I tried it and it said I could not have an URL. Bastards!

August 6, 2006

Shawn came home

On September 12, Shawn Colvin releases her new album These Four Walls. If you listen to the Amazon sampler, it appears that she is really back, recovering from the darkness of her last CD. Standout tracks appear to be "Tuff Kid" (in the "Get Out Of This House" mode), the elegant "Venetian Blue," "The Bird" and "I'm Gone," which has some nice guitar work. One great bit of news - she is finally covering Paul Westerberg's "Even Here We Are" on this CD. I saw her sing this live over 10 years ago.

The first single, not that there will be a real single, is "Fill Me Up" - a classic Shawn Colvin acoustic jaunt. It's been a long time coming, this record.
Listen to it AOL and read an amusing review of her recent zoo show (it's all the rage, performing at zoos). Read 2 earlier posts about Shawn here and here.

Shawn Colvin Even Here We Are older version live exp
Shawn Colvin Four Seasons In One Day live Crowded House cover exp
Shawn Colvin Amelia
live Joni cover exp

More details on the CD at / Note that a week after Shawn, Indigo Girls release a new disc (see 2 new songs here).

August 5, 2006

Two arty new videos

1. Keane's "Crystal Ball" What a strange video. Giovani Ribisi stars in this mini-film. I find the ending a bit disatisfying.

alternate link

2. Arctic Monkeys "Leave Before The Lights Come On" Better than the Keane! Filmed in Sheffield, starring Paddy Considine and Kate Ashfield ("Shaun Of The Dead") as a woman saved from jumping off a building. Watch it on youtube (they won't allow embedding). The song is not all that, by the way.

Mini Mix Saturday Night

This week I started going to the swimming pool every night! That's a blurry night image of our pool from my window. The heat was so intense this week that I had no choice: out came my non-speedo bathing suit.

Now, I am not one to be running around semi-nude in public. If you see me at a beach with no shirt on, I will probably be shielding my person with a floatation device or something. I go down to the pool at 8:30 pm, dusk. The Tinkerbelle effect is in full mode, as my pale torso practically glows in the night. By the time I get in, there are usually less than 10 people in the whole pool area, so I have the deep end (lower left in pic) all to myself. I just paddle around, pondering my life, or do my granny swim, which is going the length of the pool with my head above water, kicking like a frog. You kow that stroke that mothers do? I do it too!

Here are some tunes I have been playing this week. Now, if I could only figuire out how to wear my iPod into the pool, the whole experience would be so much better!

Brand New Heavies "Music"
The only song I like from their new CD. I have nothing to say about this because I am distracted by a pussy battle going on near my feet. That's my cats fighting. Anyway, BNH kick out the jams with da lovely N'dea Davenport on vox.

Charlotte Gainsbourg "AF 607105"
I assume that is Air France with a flight number? Ma cheri Charlotte: meet moi at C deGaulle at 23:01. I'll be on one of those escalators in a clear tube, in black, with v. good shoes.

Luke Haines: "Off My Rocker At The Art School"
A collaboration with Richard X, so it is sure to hailed as Single Of The Year before anyone hears it (hey, the Jamelia song was Single Of the Year 2 days ago, so that's expired now). Good electrodisco stomper, yes!? Any trolls catch how Luke is connected with this blog?

Pet Shop Boys "Minimal (Telex Heaven Mix)"

A mix built upon the swooniest elements of perhaps what is realllly the Song Of The Year. It's positively tinkly.

Pink: "U And U'r Hand (Bimbo Jones Clean Edit)"
Was it Popjustice that popped over this? I fucking love this fucking album and this fucking song is fucking brilliant. Watch the fucking bitchin' video below. (Who was it that told me fuck should be used sparingly, so it has more impact? I thought they were talking about the act.)

August 4, 2006

OK Go: Here It Goes Again

The first video this year to challenge The Pipettes for video of the year. Note that it's ONE TAKE.

Don't feel like dancin' dancin'

Strange video! Like segments of a film we have not seen. There is a subtle moment at 0:30 where Jakes Shears is imitating Prince and he does it very well. Here is the Paper Faces Mix by Stuart Price, which is disappointing. Paul has the better mix, the Linus Love Vox Mix.

The only antidote is you...

Newsy bits: Madonna, pictured above - or wait! is that Agnetha from Abba!? hmmmm...anyway, Esther Richie is going to Africa. She's been hanging out with economist Jeffrey Sachs (who XO has met!) and Bill Clinton...I desperately wanted to see Pretenders live recently, but could not afford it. Kenneth In The 212 did and reviews it. Chrissie looks great!...Rufus Wainwright is in the studio. 2007 will be his year, but until then we have a new song in a Viktor And Rolf commercial...Diana Krall is sort of a bitch but does this surprise anyone?...The Kooks get treated with disdain by c*nty Simon on Popworld...Cerys Matthews reflects, with much humor, on living in America...I am willing to admit that sometimes I get stuck on Cute Richard Coyle of Coupling a swine?...sweet Elliott Yamin is free of 19 Recordings, which is a good thing...Rupaul meets Depeche Mode meets Zombie Prom and it's a video...Have you read Gawker Stalker this week? It's brill, as usual...Coming Saturday to XO, the return of 90's lovely Shawn Colvin...Lloyd Cole's Antidpressant get sa Sept 25 UK release date...and sorry, I will never play that Robbie Williams song again, but I will play this...

Rufus Wainwright "Ode To Antidote"