April 30, 2007

The Return of Tommy Chaplin

That's a baby fresh, healthy looking Tom Chaplin doing a radio broadcast with Keane in Chile on April 15. Three years ago at this time, his creamy voice was all I could listen to: Your Eyes Only was my favorite song of 2004.

You may (or may not) know I didn't feel Under The Iron Sea lived up to the promise. If you've ever seen the Keane documentary, Tim Rice-Oxley was a kind of sullen... twat!... in some of the scenes. Now that we know Tom was a coking it up, Tim's moodiness is more understandable, along with the lyrics on the second album.

There've been signs that the band is pulling it back together and Tom's appearance above is yet another clue. I hope they won't take years to record a new album and I hope that music will not shy away from the sublime silvery-ness of their debut. I don't need to them to be U2, I need them to be Keane.

Below is a pretty live track from last week's Santiago broadcast - a song we know well that seems to have become more delicate with time...

Keane Everybody's Changing (acoustic '07) expired

Clark Kent aka Tim R-O isn't looking too shabby.

Tommy celebrates his 15th birthday in the studio.

Bjork returns from Camp Crystal Lake.

Bjork talks to The Guardian

Bjork talks to the The New York Times

Bjork doesn't talk to meeeee!

Her interviews are interesting because it's hard to reconcile how she sounds and looks with her words as they appear in print. They often read as very normal, frank and clever in a way I don't quite associate her. Not that she isn't those things... Take this quote from the NYT story:

It would be too easy to walk away and say, ‘Oh, I’m just going to do these ornate objects that only a few people, blah blah blah,’ ” she said. “That’s just pretentious and snobbish.
See what I mean? Do you imagine Bjork saying blah blah blah? The cool thing is that the NYT piece has audio of her talking, along with song clips. That, my f(r)iends, is the wave of the future!

Note also that Bjork has a tour blog. She doesn't write it, but it's worth reading.

April 29, 2007

XOvision: Baby look at me

Possums, La Bex duets with Dame Edna on Fame. Nice underlying Charlotte whatsername referencing here.

April 28, 2007

New music: Huski will be adored.

I do believe the singer of electropop band Huski actually has a head. Huski are a duo consisting of a dude named Pike Galloway and a doe-eyed female vocalist named Maple Bee - yes, you read that right - who is also a member of Mediaeval Baebes, where she is known as Melanie Garside.

Huski's debut album, Love Peace Pain, is quite diverse - there are synthy pop delights mixd with organic songs like the ballad Everything Changes. Urtica channels Pet Shop Boys with its love peace pain chant and squizzy noises. Other reference points are Goldfrapp on the stompy Make Me Your Picture (is she singing "rape me" at one point?!) and Pleasure (especially that band's Out Of Love). I am quite impressed so far..

The album is available on iTunes US and UK. Note they have an MP3 available for download on their myspace page.

Huski Undatow video
Huski myspace page / Maple Bee's website

Thanks to Martian Cowboy (aka David) for the tip!

Tori's Posse Power

Take a sneak peak at the special edition of Tori's new CD, out Monday.

Cover Story v.5

Awesome. Love the album title and the art. Especially the girl with the hulahoop.

Chris Cornell as... Glen Campbell? Errr, what is the style of his solo album?

Like all CH covers, this is done by band member Nick Seymour, but it doesn't really look like their other covers. Not my favorite so much... I don't like snakes swallowing people. I have not recovered from "Anaconda."

Will the album live up to the perfect single? Sleek cover, if a bit boring.

Amerie isn't afraid of the Pop, but she's breaking a lot of fashion rules here. She looks good though, even if this is purely a reenactment of a store window in Manhattan. Gwen beat her to the stripes.

Sarah's new single cover. She never tries too hard. It's always cool in an effortless way.

Suzanne's back! The album is all about New York, so that may explain the Dashiell Hammett look.

April 27, 2007

Patrick Wolf explains it all

...sort of, in this Pitchfork interview. He's quitting the treadmill of release/tour/release, taking some time off and then doing some sort of mega double album project that will be part orchestral gorgeousness and part death metal!

It's interesting. Patrick Wolf is such an artiste - he presents himself as if he's not taken one day off in 7 years, which is unlikely. As if he's worked harder than anyone else. Maybe he has, but you wonder what artists would say if they had to work 40-hour weeks. You're tired Patrick?! It's just a different cycle - intensive work followed by periods of downtime, versus 5 days working / 2 days off. And we all have to do things we don't want to do in our jobs.

I think what he really means is that when you make a living off of what is your passion, then that passion can be corrupted by the job part, because it's relentless. 24/7, your music is your life. What should be a joy becomes a slog. There is no time to have a real life, which is so crucial for artists.

I'm going to try and swallow my comments on his recent behavior (some of which is not highly reported and pretty obnoxious) and his naivete in the Pitchfork interview. Clearly he has a slightly rose-colored view of how life/work/fame/media should be. Whatever - he's not quitting.

Picture from earlier this year above and new one below...

April 26, 2007

XOvision: Rihanna

I am knocked out. Gobsmacked even. Killer song, killer video. And notice she's en pointe? There's something very Madonna about the quality level of this production.

making a big leap with this one.

April 24, 2007

The Queen's Silver Jubilee

1997, Mario Testino

Today is the anniversary of Madonna's 25th year in the music business. Her first single, Everybody was released on April 24, 1982. To celebrate, I'm posting some rare photos I've saved from all over the web. Madonna is one of the most photographed living people and a lot of her pics, well, you've seen them enough. I can guarantee you that some of these will be a surprise. I think that's my favorite above.

1994, Peter Lindburgh

1989, Helmut Newton

1989, Helmut Newton

1985, Herb Ritts

1985, Bruce Weber

1976, ?

1984, Steven Meisel

1980, ?

1985, Herb Ritts

1998 candid

1984, Tony Frank

1985, ?

1989, Herb Ritts

2000, Jean Baptiste Mondino

April 23, 2007

Whoever shouts the loudest gets the most attention

Yeah, so Patrick Wolf stirred the shit on his messageboard* yesterday by announcing his retirement from live performing and interacting with fans. He seems to be living out the final verse of his song The Libertine. There is a thread of blame placed on his fans in the post. I'll ponder this a bit and comment later. Suffice it to say, I do not share the "Oh, we are to blame!" emotions of many of his fans. I also don't really believe that November will be his last show. Wonder what his American label thinks? They launch his CD in America on May 1.

Love those glasses though.

*I don't even feel like linking to it, honestly.

April 22, 2007

Scream if you wanna go faster

What a beautiful spring weekend. As you may have guessed, I just walked in from the christening of Bluebell Halliwell. I held Harry The Shih Tzu during the ceremony, while that bitch Posh ate laxatives in the back row...

Bitchin' Gwen's new video for 4 In The Morning? Sophie Muller and Gwen are kind of running out of steam. The video treatment for this one seems to be "Dude! What blond looks can I do that I have not, like, already done?"

Chartrigger's tête-à-tête (exclusif!) with Dan Gillespie Sells of The Feeling: Did you notice the piece of massive news about Trevor Horn in that piece? Pay attention pop fans! I hope someone in their camp has the good sense to link that interview on The Feeling's blog. PS: D'luv did forget to ask DGS how aflutter he was meeting me, "XOlondon", in October. Maybe next time.

Tori Amos. Well, it's too soon to leap on the shit or genius bandwagon, but it's clear: 1) that caravan is too damn long and 2) the album cover is absolutely shiteous. That said, Teenage Hustling is pretty kickass, as is Secret Spell.

Professor Daz Hayes' video in a large version.

Casey Stratton's song Rising Sun (at iTunes) has some beautiful producton - the intro is gorge. Tori fans should listen! The lyric is a wee bit clunky, but refreshingly straightforward at the same time. Thanks Dan for the review.

Tracey Thorn answers reader questions here and here at Arjanwrites. She's much more earthy in the press this time around. Her album is so worthy of review, of course, but I can't think of what to say yet. Buy it though!

Fans. Crazy fans of musicians (eg: Janet), stay away. One reason I don't really want the hit count on this blog to get too big (not that it is) is the attention of humorless fans who lack any shades of grey. I will never be the type of person who loves every song an artist does or calls each new album "the best!" This is not directed at any recent comments - in my email, I see comments from people on posts that are 2 years old.

My ears bleed when I hear the new Kelly Clarkson song. Screeching noise.

Did you see Bjork on SNL? I won't bother to link since the NBC Royal Militia will block the youtube video soon. Earth Intruders was even more tribal, but with gorgeous horns. Wanderlust sounded really good, like Venus As A Boy mixed with the crunchy bits of Joga. And the barefoot Bjork looked very... normal.

Remember Goldfrapp? The band that blew off America and kicked me off their message board for calling a kid jailbait after he posted semi-nude photos of himself on the board? (I was being mean apparently, which is a violation there, because Alison Goldfrapp sets such a gold standard for sweetness!) Anyway, I don't believe for one hot minute that Goldfrapp and Kylie are teaming up.

Titney. What to believe, what to not believe? It seems as if she's still not back with the people who want her healthy, but we don't know the full story, do we? Somebody needs to move her to NYC or Europe for awhile. Get her outta Hollywood and take her some place that will, errr, educate her.

The new Chantal Krezviuak song All I Can Do sounds just like Keane! Except not sung by Tom Chaplin. The jury is out on this one, but it is a bit of a grower. Suggestion to CK: Rearrange your myspace so that the enormous merch ad is not the first thing you see. It's a bit tacky. I say that with love.

I am still recovering from the perfectness of this childhood photo of Tricky Richard. Such a continental child. Everything is right - the zippy suit, the shoes, the location, the pose.

Does the sudden death of Pulp Magazine signal the slowly fading impact of print media or the barely beating pulse of pop music? Probably a little of both- plus, the generation that magazine was marketed toward does not read magazines. It may still be possible to launch a mag aimed at an older audience. You know, people who read big swatches of text.

Take a good song, make it better.

The Killers doing When You Were Young live at Abbey Rd. Yes, this appeared awhile back, but I never bothered to comment on it. I love it. In fact, it just makes me want to cry. Who in my life does it make me think of? Someone specific, but I'm not sayin'! If you never caught this version, do watch it.

Heroes of The Week: Sheryl Crow and Laurie David

Am going off topic now! Last night at the White House Correspondents Dinner, here in DC, Sheryl Crow and Laurie David (wife of Larry, OMG!) spoke to Karl Rove about global warming and to say it didn't go well is mild. Here is one scene:

In his attempt to dismiss us, Mr. Rove turned to head toward his table, but as soon as he did so, Sheryl reached out to touch his arm. Karl swung around and spat, "Don't touch me." How hardened and removed from reality must a person be to refuse to be touched by Sheryl Crow? Unphased, Sheryl abruptly responded, "You can't speak to us like that, you work for us." Karl then quipped, "I don't work for you, I work for the American people." To which Sheryl promptly reminded him, "We are the American people."

Read the full story from them at The Huffington Post.

If these two women can make Rove that tense at a function like this, then he is a heart attack waiting to happen. He clearly doesn't encounter enough opposition in his daily life to know how to handle something relatively benign. He really is one of the most destructive individuals ever to see foot in the White House. Mark my words, the presence of Sanjaya Malaki will be the story the media reports, not this moment.

Picture from Self Magazine's blog

April 21, 2007

Darren Hayes, Man of Many Faces

Darren Hayes is a man of many looks isn't he? He's had jet black hair, blond hair and now red -or ginger, as our friends on the Small Island say. I actually like this older, more mature style he's workin' for his new record.

This is Dr. Hayes, young comp lit professor. He's taking office hours this afternoon, so you can seek advice about your Derrida /deconstruction paper. By appointment only. Don't lose your cool by asking him out for coffee - he has to draw the line somewhere.

Here he's dressed as Sherlock Holmes' Irish assistant. Mr. Hayes has been trying to get his mentor off opium, so if he looks suspicious, it may be that pipe you're carrying.

I have too much time on my hands, don't I?

HRH Visits Africa

This week the Queen is in Malawi, accessorized by an ugly t-shirt and a cute baby. Nice red string!

April 20, 2007

Review: Rufus Wainwright's Release The Stars

I had planned to hold this review until next week, but then the record leaked, so here are my thoughts...

What becomes a legend most? Rufus Wainwright had an idea when he recently said, “This is as strong and magnificent and young as I’m ever gonna be all at one time.” In a typically Bartlett’s-worthy fashion, Rufus is promising that his fifth album, Release The Stars, is nothing less than mega. The aural equivalent of a Fabergé egg. I actually think the above comment better fits 2001’s Want One, my choice for his magnum opus. That album was a swirling storm of thousand-overdub vocals, strings and horns and its quirky twin (Want Two) was a weird collision of avant garde (Old Whore’s Diet) and radio pop (The One I Love).

What keeps Release The Stars from achieving Want One legend status? Not much except for the fact that 1) you cannot ever truly relive a Moment and 2) Stars is a slightly quieter affair than I'd imagined from his own descriptions. The opening track, Do I Disappoint You? bears the chorus, “Why does it always have to be fire? Brimstone?” The answer is that it doesn't, though over-the-top, grandiose pop music has always been Wainwright’s forte. Stars is more subdued. It is buttressed by a trio of gorgeously over-the-top numbers, including that first song, but it’s also his most chilled out, calm record since his 1998 debut.

Debut single Going To A Town is a fine example of restraint: a quiet, disappointed protest song that sounds like early Elton John. It has a classic melody and a simplicity that is actually present in many Rufus songs, but not something he's noted for. To call the track anti-American would be simplistic. It's about trying to live through a time in which things you once counted on as good are no longer that.

Nobody’s Off The Hook might slip by on first listen. A beautiful string quartet piece, it’s dedicated to his longtime friend and guitarist Teddy Thompson, who’s apparently “become the one desire in every woman’s heart” while “hanging with a homo and hairdresser.” For me, the arrangement evokes 1950’s New York on a damp Sunday afternoon. That’s Rufusian skill. Many will read my description and say, “Err, what?” but his songs often connote something very specific to the listener.

The album’s centerpiece, Between My Legs, begins as a jaunty pop/rock number (fans, think The One I Love), but at 2:42 comes a middle eight that never actually ends. The song transforms into something entirely new as Rufus sings about an underground river escape, with I Claudius actress Siân Phillips reciting the lyrics in a recitation so dramatic it makes Lady Macbeth seem like Florence Henderson. It’s a testament to Wainwright’s comfort level as an artist that he gladly hands over one of the most glorious moments in his musical career to another vocalist, the same way he might cede to a French horn or chamber quartet. He’s still the star of his show, but he’s sharing. If fans are going to have a Big Gay Moment on this record, where they finally lose their shit and start running around screaming, the last 90 seconds of this song - complete with Phantom Of The Opera crescendos - are sooo it.

Each Rufus album has a piece of pure theatricality: last time it was Little Sister and here it’s Tulsa. In two short minutes Rufus remembers an evening spent in rock star mode with The Killers' Brandon Flowers, a human mix of eyeliner and conflicted Morman values. This is the kind of song that will make fans shake in ecstasy and bystanders plug their ears. It's hardcore Wainwright, complete with cutting wit and nasal vocals.

The much anticipated Sanssouci is one that disappoints. After all, the song is embodied in this lyrical gem: Cupid’s rings have cobwebs rings. Had I written that line, I’d have taken all my friends out for drinks [in Paris], but the musical arrangement just doesn’t touch the imagery

Other tracks, like Tiergarten or Rules And Regulations may grow over time. The only moment that pushes too hard comes toward the end of Slideshow, when Rufus invites in guitarist Richard Thompson for an ambling, electric guitar solo that Rufus proceeds to slash with sharp jabbing strings. Vocally though, Rufus has never been better. Slideshow has a chill-inducing ending where he quietly sings "Do I love you? Yes I do” with no sense of drama, just honesty. Likewise, Leaving For Paris is all hushed vocals against classical piano. It’s a delicate green leaf of a song. There’s more vocal subtlety on this record than ever before.

The blowsy, horn-laden finale, Release The Stars, does just what its title promises. He’s done nothing quite like it. With its "Old Hollywood" setting, the song sounds like something Mae West might have played on her iPod as she flounced around her boudoir, securing her mammoth bosom for an evening out. It’s celebrity skin at its best and as big as Rufus gets, with great details, like the gorgeous July 4th moment at 2:26 where the orchestra sounds like a swirl of stars / fireworks falling to the ground.

Ultimately, Rufus Wainwright is so gifted that he’s able to toss off genius moments without exploiting them or dragging them into tedium. Where his previous two albums seemed to be perpetually climbing the ladder [gasp] to the mountain peak of the silvery cloud [gasp] of the impossible dream [gasp], Release The Stars is more subtle. If Rufus doesn’t always make it pop like I want it too, he’s not gilding any lilies either. Legends don’t need to, do they?
Perhaps I haven't told you 1,000 times to watch out on May 15 for my Instinct Magazine interview with Rufus?

April 19, 2007

Necessary voodoo

Some new Bjork stuff I want to share: First, blogger Brooklyn Vegan scored an interview with Bjork that is quite good. Second, that picture above rocks my planet (Planet d'XO?), third Rolling Stone likes the album, and fourth is a new podcast you can watch on Youtube right now.

April 18, 2007

Give me give me more

Did you trolls notice that Bitchin' Gwen's new single, 4 In The Morning, has been remixed by Stuart Price (as Jacques Lu Cont) and you can get it at NoDoubtWeb or Mixed Up In Glitter? It's about 7 minutes long and creates a new melody. It's not bad, but it's not Stuart's best work. Let's hope he's distracted by another blond.

That's an alternate Bazaar cover above. Check out the luxe shoes.

Sneak peek

Here's a sneak peek at my review for the new Rufus album. What song am I talking about? Stay tuned for the greatness...

If fans are going to have a Big Gay Moment on this record, where they finally lose their shit and start running around screaming, the last 90 seconds of this song - complete with Phantom Of The Opera crescendos - are sooo it.

I'll post my review after the UK listening parties, so sometime next week (unless other reviewers beat me to it!)

April 17, 2007

Everything went from wrong to right

Kylie has turned into a wax figure! She doesn't look real there, does she? That is her in the flesh in Shanghai. That's nice, but shouldn't she be shooting a video or something? Bring on a summer single baby!

Looks like The Feeling has just not gone over in the US. Last fall I thought there was hope, but the CD launch here was rickety (see the awful new cover). I really think record companies need to rethink how they launch albums in a globalised, high-tech marketplace. Although artists cannot be in more than one place at a time, worldwide release dates are optimal.

I also think international (music) trade laws need to be dealt with. We are fast headed to an Internet only age and labels/publishers have GOT to make it possible for me to buy music from iTunes US, UK and.... Sweden. Yes, I know 7 Digital is an option, but I don't want to mess with WM formats (and lowqual at that).

Full Rufus Wainwright dates for the next 2 months. I want a proper DC show! Not a True Colors walk-on! My review will be up in the next two weeks.

KulPop highlights an amusing mashup of Kelly Clarkson and Howard Jones.

Do we call White Stripes Pearly Kings on their CD cover? It looks like that.

I've been digging the final season of The Sopranos. My favorites eps? The whole first season (and yes, the Meadow-and-Tony-look-at-colleges ep!) and more recently the one where Carmella and her friend went to Paris and did what everyone does in Paris: be overwhelmed by (manmade) beauty and end up ruminating on the choices one has made in life. By the way, my Mob Nickname is The Merciless.

So Madonna is working with Justine Timberod. Do I even need to say what I think of this? I've said it before, I like the Justin of LoveStoned/I Think She Knows, but not his other songs. I really doubt her album will be hip hop though.

Off topic: Did you know that from October 2006 to March 2007, 532 American soldiers were killed in Iraq and that it was the deadliest six months in since the war began? Anthony Zinni was great on Meet The Press this weekend. Take five minutes to watch his excellent performance.

Owch. American Idol was so painful tonight. Melinda sounded and looked great though - much younger and more chilled than before. Blake - When The Stars Go Blue should be attributed to Ryan Adams, not Tim McGraw!

Popjustice got a makeover. Did you see it?

April 16, 2007

Da da da da da dee da da da da

Much better than the album cover, but if you squint, it looks like she's being attacked by bugs.

April 15, 2007

April 14, 2007

Once You've Tasted Take That

Take That. The Brits were just shown on American TV last night (how timely), and I have a few comments on the above performance... and remember, most Americans have no idea who this band is, bar one song.

1) Why did they do this song when it might as well be Gary Barlow solo? I'd have preferred Shine, which came out as a single just after this performance.
2) I just found out tonight which one is Howard and which one is Jason.
3) There is clearly one member that is the best looking. By, like, farrr.
4) Two of them look like meth-heads (which does not cancel out looking good). One of them is pushing 40, so stealing Gary's donuts might help fill in some lines.
5) Little Marky Owen seems to be using a Springsteenian level of energy to simply go ahhhhh. See 1:05 and 3:00. He wiggles a lot!
6) Gary Barlow has an American accent, I swear. [when he sings, I mean]
7) Don't doctors do teeth whitening in the UK? These boys are rich. Get thee meth-head boys to a dentist.
8) Keep Robbie away from Take That. Does anyone else agree with this?
9) Yes, I know this post should have gone up on February 15.
10) One member is clearly destined to play Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. Which one, can you guess?
11) Kate Middleton will not be the next Queen Of England.
12) Barlow looks the same now as he did then: like a big ten year old.
13) Little Marky Owen has a very big mouth. But he looks less like an old crone here -he'd briefly lost his looks a bit last year.
14) Watch Howard in a speedo hosing himself down.
15) The guys, bar Gary, look better than they did here. Gary always looks the same to me.
16) Next single is I'd Wait For Life. Snooze. Make it the title track.
17) Russell Brand's "bio" intro is classic. Wish I'd written it myself.
18) I had a lovely dinner tonight and a lovely bout of food poisoning. I hope my 92 yr old nana does not experience the same.

Ready to love Rufus

There have been lots of quotes swirling around the Interwebs about Brandon Flowers' effect on Rufus Wainwright. You have not heard the end of that subject. The quotes I got from Rufus about LaFleur are better than those, but - cruel tease! - you have to wait until mid-May to read them in the June issue of Instinct Magazine. Something to live for. Oh, I've become a media whore...

Pretty lush picture of Rufus above. The new Guardian Weekend interview is a juicy read. Rufus announces that he's monogomous "at the moment" to his boyfriend, Jorn, who is German, 6'7" - and "everything is proportionate." Listen faintly in the distance and you can hear the Guardian editor orgasming. Much of what Rufus says comes with a twinkle in his eye, but you also have to note that he often says things about himself in public that most people would not - like how unsafe he was sexually in his drug years. He tells a story of having sex with a straight(ish) Irishman who would go for a round and then "deck" him before they'd have sex again. Healthy! This was in 2000, pre-rehab.

I am such a fan, but sometimes there are things he says that I find... tiresome or in bad taste. Not hurtful, but very self-involved. His candor is refreshing in an age where celebs are trained to say nothing. If he feels the freedom to say them, everyone else should be able to say, "Oh. please, Rufus."

Whatever, I do love his message for George Bush in this article: "Get that fucking smirk off your face."

You can sample 3 new Rufus tracks - or parts of them - on this e-card.

April 13, 2007

Another fluorescent night

Bitchin' Gwen does Harper's Bazaar. Not bad! She is also working on her new tour, which starts shortly. You can watch her shoot video projections with Sophie Muller on her webisodes (click on media).


April 12, 2007

I could watch this all night.

For about a month I have been playing (Leslie) Feist's song 1 2 3 4 on a loop. I can't believe I didn't put it on my playlist a few days ago. It's the most exuberant song on her kickass new album The Reminder, which is out May 1.

Now Feist has done one of the best music videos I have seen in ages. I didn't think she'd ever top her video for Mushaboom (watch it) and now she has. It makes me want to sing and dance and be a pop star rather than write about them. We need more artists who - like Leslie Feist - mainline joy.

I love that you hear what's happening live as they film the video. Notice that it appears to be one take - that is until a sly twist at the very end. How did they do that?! Watch below...

Be sure to read this new piece on her in the Times Online. Did you know that Feist was Peaches' roommate for many years? Peaches is actually in the Mushaboom video, dressed like Stockard Channing in Grease!

Feist 1234 get it via Shameless Complacency

my apologies to Pitchfork for totally ripping them off!

oh. my.

First the news of a Madonna and Justine Timberod collab. And now the image of her going into the studio (Ladbroke Grove) looking like a Haight Ashbury refugee. Click to see the full horror.