June 30, 2007

2007 "Q2": The extraordinary

In alphabetical order, the Top 20 songs of the second quarter of 2007. Rules: Do not have to be singles, but one song by each artist only and the songs must be officially released (or released to me as a promo). The colored link will take you to a place you can hear/see the song...

Marc Almond Redeem Me
Antigone Life Without You
Sara Bareilles Gravity
Siobhan Donaghey So You Say
Sophie Ellis-Bextor Can't Have It All
Leslie Feist 1234
A Fine Frenzy Rangers
Garbage Tell Me Where It Hurts
Ghosts Stop
GoodBooks Passchendaele
Laura Michelle Kelly Jesus Was A Crossmaker
Mancini Up Country
Mandy Moore Extraordinary
Maroon 5 Makes Me Wonder
Mr. Hudson and The Library Upon The Heath
Pink Martini Hey Eugene
The Revelations I'm A Lover
Rihanna Umbrella
Tough Alliance First Class Riot
Rufus Wainwright Between My Legs

There are some notable absences here. What did I forget? Can you figure out who I wish was on this list, but didn't make it? Two women in particular.

Special Award Given Early for Worst Song of 2007: Madonna's Hey You (or, as I call it, Hey Poo) - a nadir in her career. We don't cut Madonna slack, okay?

Worthy albums, April to June: Ghosts, Rufus Wainwright, The Revelations (digital), M5, Mandy Moore, Feist, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Marc Almond, Siobhan Donaghey

What's coming in Q3: Dragonette, Antigone, Darren Hayes, Sara Bareilles, Suzanne Vega, A Fine Frenzy, Goodbooks, Crowded House, Richard Hawley (!), Hard Fi, Turin Brakes, and, it'll probably suck, but Prince.

Read my Q1 list here

photo, as usual, by Hedi Slimane from his blog

June 29, 2007

Songs Of Mass Destruction

If you've heard about various people dueting on Annie Lennox's new album, well, how about like 20 on one song? Supposedly - and this is unconfirmed - she has a new charity track called Sing that will feature 23 female vocalists, including Madonna, Celine, Gladys Knight, Joss Stone, Shakira, Fergie, Pink, Faith Hill, Melissa Etheridge and k.d. lang. (Which one of those is not like the other?)

This news was sent to me by PoolParty, so I am not sure of its veracity.

What is true is that her album is called Songs Of Mass Destruction and is out in September. Anne had this funny comment about the album:

As you can tell, it's going to be light weight, easy listening, coffee house kinda stuff... NOT!

The Queen And Her Ex Subject

Madonner went jogging with babydaddy Carlos Leon yesterday in Central Park. MILF is starting to look a little hard, no? She needs to chill on the body obsession a bit.

June 28, 2007

I saw you, you saw me

Antigone meets the Style Scout in London.

Isn't Antigone a sweet peach? She posted this message on her myspace blog as if I was Rolling Fucking Stone or something. Bless, as my cousin British Bridget would say.

Her song Life Without You continues to please me. Antigone has a 7-song player you can stream now. The track Funky Dancers has adhered to me - that huge, rubbery bass will make Cadillacs bounce. And the take a chance with me bit at minute 3 reminds me so much of Vanity 6 ...I mean that in the most almighty way. In fact, I think Antigone would be the perfect Prince protege. She has the same kind of vibe that Jill Jones had back in the day. And if you don't know Jill "JJ" Jones, get educated.

My other Antigone favorite is Mirror, which is the musical equivalent of a DVF wrap dress. Antigone alluded to having a Diana Ross moment with it, but I've also noticed it celebrates a bit of Stevie Wonder's higher ground vibe. She is very good at a mood, isn't she?

Pretty little gamine.

The Return of The Revelations

The Revelations, purveyors of one of this year's finest retro-pop anthems, If I Called You On The Telephone, have finally released their debut album on iTunes US and UK. There are 12 tracks, including new single Baby I Want You To Know. Other gems include You're The Loser, uber-dramatic breakup ballad Last Night and the absolutely killer I'm A Lover, which I recommend all my favorite trolls rush click to buy. Seriously, the last 30 seconds of that song make me run around like a fizzing maniac.

I wish these girls would get a CD release. They deserve it.

June 27, 2007

Sarah Nixey will be your guide...

The Lady Sarah Nixey, above, rocks some killer red heels in her gracious drawing room. Her new single is a cover of Human League's The Black Hit Of Space. It's out on July 9 and is backed with a remix and a lovely new version of Strangelove that is a sort of Felt Mountain-esque take on that track.

Feeling Anglophilic and maybe a bit fanatical, I laid ten roses at Lady Sarah's London doorstep one recent rainy night, each with a question tied to it. In turn, a black Rolls pulled up outside my hotel one evening later. As I gazed from behind a lace curtain in my window, I saw a figure in a wide brim black hat, dark glasses and blood red lips reach into her valise to slowly remove... a flashlight (torch). In Morse Code I received the following answers.

That is how I remember this exchange anyway...

XO: There are an infinite number of possible cover songs. What brought you to The Black Hit Of Space?

SN: The song drew me in, like it takes everything in. I could barely breathe by the time I came to record it.

XO: Your new video is horror influenced and, well, England is a very old place! Do you enjoy cemeteries?

SN: Cemeteries are beautiful places. I have friends who live next to one and we often go around reading the gravestones. There are three cemeteries worth a visit in London if you’re ever in the neighbourhood – Kensal Rise, Highgate and Hampstead. My five-year-old daughter has a fascination. This morning one of our cats brought a bird into the house. Ava buried it and wrote on a makeshift gravestone ‘Dead Bird’.

XO: Am I right that you are from Dorset? Dorset is the land of...

SN: Dorset is my birthplace. I left when I became a woman. It is the land of Thomas Hardy; Enid Blyton’s Famous Five stories; brownies and scouts; flower and produce shows; car boot sales; pirates and hidden treasure; Jurassic beaches; church fairs; creams teas; stately homes; fisherman’s cottages; end of pier music halls; and naughty seaside postcards.

XO: What is your favorite London neighborhood?

SN: I love where I live now - North West London. The beautiful Hampstead Heath is a stones throw away and the city centre is a fifteen minute ride. People still steal things off your car and take your scooter for a ride around the block without asking, but you can’t have everything.

XO: Do you have a faraway place that you consider an escape? What makes it special?

SN: My boyfriend comes form Orkney – the islands off the north coast of Scotland. I love going to stay there in his family’s old farmhouse. With sea views all around, complete silence at night and vast amounts of space, London can seem like hell on earth, but I always want to come home.

XO: Name 3 fantasy dinner party guests, 1 from the music world and 2 not....

SN: Leonard Cohen – I’d ask him to sing a duet with me. Ken Dodd – the veteran English comedian who has made me laugh since I was a child and is the last of his kind. Ian McEwan – I’ve really enjoyed his books, particularly The Cement Garden and Enduring Love.

XO: If you were not a musician / mother, what might you do for a living, knowing your own particular skills?

SN: I’d be a radio broadcaster, probably for the BBC World Service.

XO: Has Andrew Ridgeley responded to your Black Box Recorder song about him?

SN: Much to my surprise, he has never responded. Neither has George Michael. He could have used the opportunity to make a wonderful come back. I’m still waiting.

XO: If you were a teenager today, is there a current artist you think you'd be following in that obsessive teen way?

SN: Art Brut who are just breaking through in the UK. Lovely boys. Also, The Arcade Fire - ‘Keep The Car Running’ is a fine pop song. [ed: Watch Emily Kane by Art Brut]

XO: This is primarily a pop music blog. Could you recommend a not-so-well-known pop song (ballad, mid or up-tempo) that you think I and my readers should hear? This is with a very wide definition of pop...

SN: Klaus Nomi’s Total Eclipse.
Nomi was born in Germany and moved to New York where he became known as a very theatrical live performer. He had an unusual vocal style, that’s perhaps not to everyone’s liking, but a true artist nonetheless. He was one of the first celebrities to die of AIDS (1983).

A happy note to end on.

XO: The end, as it were. Thank you, Sarah.

Links: Sarah's myspace / Sarah's website / Sarah's new video

Off-topic: Goodbye Tony

Remember (or maybe not) when Tony Blair and Bill Clinton were the new face of world politics, with young families and big ideas for change? It elicits one big cosmic sigh. All good things come to an end. I'm not sure how I feel about Blair as a Mid East envoy. Sort of seems like more of the same, doesn't it?

Lost songs: Adam Ant's Wonderful

In 1995, a good 12 years after his last decent hit, Adam Ant made a return to pop with a beautiful song called Wonderful. I've never really tired of this song over the years - I love how pure the vocal is on much of it (mixed with his more classic yelpy voice). It's such a sweet track and yet kind of dysfunctional, with references to domestic violence and shrink-speak ("tired of packaging the anger").

While Adam was known more for his face, fashion sense, humor and cocky sexuality - is that enough attributes? - he actually has a fantastic singing voice that he could do almost anything with. At about 3:20 on the Wonderful MP3 (below), the song starts to ramp up into layers of prettiness - the deep vocals on the "Did I tell you you're wonderful?" bit at 3:38 are swoon inducing.

The album of the same name is also quite good and can be bought for a song on Amazon Marketplace UK and US. You can get the it on iTunes as well. If you want just a track or two, I also recommend the epic power ballad Angel.

Adam, who is now 53 years old (!), has not recorded in years, which is sad. His biography, Stand And Deliver, is out in paperback on September 7 in the UK. Around the same date last fall, Adam signed the hardcover in London and here are some pics. He looked pretty good! His album Friend Or Foe beats down most of the pop/indie pop music being produced today. Sometimes I get snotty with myself and think, "Today kids have Fall Out Boy..we had Adam And The Ants."

...and of course, Adam has a myspace

Adam Gallery

Young Adam

Prince Charming

The sultry Strip picture disc.

June 25, 2007

Bring it on home

Tracey Thorn is streaming, as promised, her new b-sides and remxies via her myspace page. The b-sides are both Stephen Merritt songs and I particularly like The Book Of Love: "The book of love is long and boring / No one can lift the damn thing."

The Beyond The Wizards mix of Raise The Roof is quite sleek. The other mixes by Caged Baby (aka producer Tom Gandey) are not as good because they remove the best part of the song, the "Why did I wait?" bit. UK fans can buy the new tracks now at iTunes UK.

On her latest blog post, Tracey says that Rufus Wainwright gorge new song Nobody's Off The Hook is a current favorite and she says this about a recent night of dancing to her husband's dj'ing:

...it's usually embarassing as hell when he plays "me" while i'm out there dancing, but he threw on the new king unique mix of grand canyon, and it was just a truly euphoric moment, all of us our hands in the air - go on, it really was good wasn't it? by the time we went home at around 4.30 am, i'd been up for 28 hours..

The bad news underlying this thread is what the Raise The Roof release symbolizes. It's coming out in digital format only, so unless it's released on US iTunes, Americans can't get the new songs. They can use 7 Digital, which sucks ass when it's in Windows format. Is this what the future looks like for us Anglophiles?

The GOOD NEWS for US fans: Tracey's 7 Digital tracks are offered as MP3s (rare for 7 Digital), meaning you can buy them right now and save yourself the conversion-from-Windows-drama.

Picture Of The Week

Grannie Lennox!

June 24, 2007

Lift Up Your Skirt And Fly

Summer playlist recommendations - all new songs by talented female musicians. These choices will meet the standards of some of the people who read this blog, so please take a moment and see what you think. Note that all are links, so you can't "right click" - sorry!

Bebel Gilberto Momento
I'm going to ask you to spend some money on this song. If you've read interviews with Bebel, she isn't the sweetest peach on the tree, but this song is a collaboration with "sonic maestro" Guy Sigsworth and it's worth your 99 cents. Yes, it's in Portuguese, but the sound is what counts. It evokes something like flowing, then rushing, water. It's just a beautiful, uptempo 5 minutes. Buy the song on iTunes US or UK and probably other countries as well.

Antigone Life Without You
Get ready for the gorgeousness. I hope this is released this summer - I don't have an MP3 of it yet - because it's the kind of track that seems cooling in the heat. Madonna and Alison Goldfrapp will cry in their tea when they hear this beautiful new "non-ballad." Listening to Antigone's cooing vocal on this track will make you feel more elegant than you actually are... Probably one of my top ten songs of the year (seriously), you can hear it and worship it at Antigone's myspace player.

Feist 1234 (Vanshe Technologic Remix)
How hard is it to take a near perfect indiepop gem and remix it without utterly flaying the song? This remix works. Sure, it bends the perfect melody a wee bit, but it morphs into something equally joyous, a bit tougher and sort of... squizzy. The final 30 seconds is a like a cherry on top. Featured on Arjanwrites and other blogs.

A Fine Frenzy Rangers / Lifesize
I am obsessed with Alison Sudol. I expect her debut album One Cell To The Sea to be on my Top 10 list. These two songs have a certain airy, chugging quality that Keane's best songs have. Rangers is at Fabulist and Lifesize is at You Can Take The Boy Outta Brooklyn. Act fast on the latter. Thanks to Countpopula for the recommendation.

Mandy Moore Wild Hope
I'm quite serious. This is the wistful title track from Mandy's new CD, released this week... and worth buying! It has one of the prettiest - and saddest - bridges you'll hear this year. Musical question: Is this song in the minor chord? Featured at a really good music blog called The Late Greats
Vanessa Carlton Nolita Fairytale
Surely the most ridiculous song title of the year, with lyrics that play like a musical version of Kelly Clarkson's recent interviews. Against all geeky odds, this rhythmic song works. It has her usual dominant piano, but adds some kickin' tribal drums and an almost Rastafarian "hey!" popping from the mix at 2:30. Get it from Mixtape Maestro.

Don't forget Sara Bareilles' Love Song because you need one kiss-off song on your playlist.

Illustration by Yoko Ikeno

June 22, 2007

Diva Deb: Embrasser c'est Francais

picture by CordedSeven from his Flicker page. Thank you!

Debbie Harry has taken a lot of stick for her performance on the True Colors tour. I have a few comments about her set - I know, I owe a fuller review, but I's been sick, trolls!

1) Her outfit at Merriweather was not too bad. White culottes, heels and a fitted white shirt, with a low slung black belt (see above). It was the white head band that caused all the... anal leakage... with fans. My friend Wayne said she looked like Physical-era Olivia Newton John's mother. Since that night, she's gone back to blond, which is a good thing.

2) She sang French Kissin' (In The USA), which made me so happy. Her vocals were quite strong throughout her set. She did not sing I Want That Man, to which I say, "Boo you whores!"

3) She did The Jam Was Moving too! A post I did on Debbie's KooKoo album really jump-started this blog a few years ago; fans get fizzy over that record.

4) She did far too many (5?) unreleased - not just new, but unreleased - songs. Period. It was just not the appropriate venue for that type of set, especially when you saw how the crowd reacted to Erasure doing Oh L'amour or to Cyndi's songs. You want to uplift the crowd and you want to acknowledge in some way that there were people who spent $125 for that show. It's just how I feel, being disappointed to see Debbie not reach her potential emotional connection with the audience. Those old songs go deep - people have lived their lives to her music - she would have felt the love returned to her.

5) Is it just me or does Debbie's guitarist have a little Lucas Miré hawtness going on?

6) Debbie was not stoned. She always looks like that. She's totally louche.

6) I'm done. Watch this:

The Logo special on the True Colors Tour will air:

Sat 06/23 4:00 PM
Sun 06/24 11:30 AM
Sun 06/24 11:30 PM
Tue 06/26 12:30 AM
Thu 06/28 11:00 AM
Sat 06/30 1:30 AM

PS: Really good musical recommendations post coming on Sunday morning!

Sophie's scrapbook

Fresh faced on Radio Guerilla

Sophie Ellis Bextor has been keeping her website alive with weekly interviews and photos. Above and below are a few of the best. She's really unique looking. If you don't have her album, get it! It's one of the best albums of 2007.

In concert, obviously

Before one of her gigs opening for George Michae. Sparkly!

Her boy Sonny, incognito at the empty Dublin venue

June 21, 2007

You want a love song cuz you need one?

iTunes must've ripped the idea from me, eh? Sara Bareilles' Love Song is the iTunes (US) Free Single Of The Week. That is a big deal, so three yays! to Sara. I can't wait to hear the full album Little Voice, which is released on July 3.

If you're a fan of Nerina Pallot, Shawn Colvin, Sarah McLachlan, Billy Joel, Josh Rouse, Lucas Mire, etc etc, you need to pay attention to Sara. Now all we need is a video!

Isn't that a nice photo above? She's lovely. You can read my original Sara post here (for those not in America, you can get the free single on that post).

Close your eyes and think of England

In the case of Nick Heyward, I refer you this post from May of 2006. He's a pop artist I've really missed. After success with Haircut 100 in the early 80's and a solid solo career through the late 90's, he's slipped from view over the last 10 years. Intriguingly, his myspace page has come to life recently.

Nick, who blogs on myspace frequently, is clearly happy with nature and gardening - look the his pics on myspace and you'll see photos of the flora and fauna he tends to. He's streaming a lovely new version of his early hit Love Plus One that you must listen to. There is a also a beautiful snippet of a string-laden pop song called Getting Clearer and he is working on a new album. Hurrah! It makes sense that a gardener is making pastoral music.

Below are some of the solo videos and I cannot resist putting up one song, a longtime favorite I discovered on my first trip to England many years ago. Sorry Nick. Everybody buy his records on Amazon Marketplace in the US and UK, especially the one called Tangled.

Nick Heyward Whistle Down The Wind 1984 video

I bought this single when it came out! The video is very atmospheric, no?

Nick Heyward Kite 1993 video

What a perfect song. Don't you think Nick looks like he stumbled out of a Merchant Ivory film or an episode of Mystery on PBS? He is the iconic British manchild. I am surprised he didn't become a headmaster or something...

June 19, 2007

Vivek Shraya: He's "a greedy motherf*cker!"

I suspect Vivek Shraya grew up to the sound of the synthesizer just like me. Only he actually twiddled with synths and guitars while I laid around on my shaggy rug with big headphones on. Like me, he daydreams about Christmas in June and majored in English. Unlike me, he is a daddy (in the literal sense). Do DILF's exist, by the way?

A Torontan, - err, is that right? Or Torontoan? - Vivek comes from the Imogen Heap school of intelligent electropop. The song below, Chemistry, hooked me with a very specific piece of the chorus that comes spilling out of his mouth: "Cause you and me, we got chemistry, it flows and grows and so it go-goes yeah." It's perfect for driving in the hot summer sun; there's something kind of fucked up and impatient about it.

His album is called If We're Not Talking - I have not heard it yet, but I'll report back when I do. It is not on iTunes (yet?), but can be purchased from him directly.

Hear more at Vivek's myspace. If you live in Los Angeles you can go out and support him at Outfest in late July.

Vivek Shraya Chemistry expired

Look up, look up, the stars!

Patrick Wolf is one of the stars of the fall Burberry campaign. Click on the picture to see more from the campaign, shot by Mario Testino. Patrique is as much a fashion icon as Lily Allen, so I think it's cool.

June 18, 2007

XOvision: Dresden Dolls

So I should be reviewing the very brill True Colors show I attended on Sunday night, but I'm in one of the most brain-bending periods of work in a long while - tonight I crashed at 9 pm. SO, in the meantime, check out the new Dresden Dolls video for Shores of California:

It's a shot by shot recreation of the mystery video below, with a cameo by Maragaret Cho. Watch a short making-of too. The video is missing Brian, the other half of the band. If he's in there, I don't see him. And the song, sighhhhh. It was positively booming live, so I disappointed to hear the studio version is much more quiet and tentative. It's missing the assertiveness and it never takes off like it should, given it's catchy chorus. I should say that Dresden Dolls were incredibly muscular (err, literally!) in live performance. They have incredible talent, originality and... hormones.

The inspiration, from Msr. DLR...

The rar! factor

Photo by Ray & Wendy from Dresden Dolls myspace

June 17, 2007

XO Reviews: Little bit of diss, little bit of dat.

There are so many albums that I want to review, but either don't have the time or just cannot find extensive/decent words to describe them. Reviews need a hook or they get dull. To dance around this mess, I've decided to do some wee capsule reviews for you.

Fields Everything Last Winter
A truly strange record. Equal parts raging wall-of-guitars, strong melodies and wintry folk music in the great British tradition. Some songs, like Song For The Fields and the single, Charming The Flames, combine both elements and it's this stew that makes Fields unique. I don't play this enough, but come Fall I will.
Hear more Fields at myspace

Just Jack Overtones
Jack Allsopp's first album, The Outer Marker, was brilliant trip-pop. The follow-up, which actually got press and play, does not quite live up to the promise. It boasts one of my top 20 songs of the year, the woozy, robotic Disco Friends, but it also has a lot of filler. Still, No Time is epic disco and Spectacular Failures is a suitably grand ballad. Starz In Their Eyes, a skewering of American/Pop Idol, is surely a zeitgeist record for 2007. The album is worth your precious dollars; it's just not quite the full-on monolith I wanted it to be.
Hear more Jack at myspace

Maroon 5 It Won't Be Soon Before Long
Years and millions of dollars in the making, the M5 album is worth the wait. Oversexed Adam Levine toiled away in his Chateau Marmont bungalow, whipping up the best pop/rock/soul this side of Jamiroquai. Typically, the bad stuff is faux Prince (Kiwi with its ...drippy.. lyrics), but there are enough great tracks here to justify purchase. Among them are the strutting single Makes Me Wonder. Fantastic summer single! Other faves include Better That We Break and Not Falling Apart. I hope everybody read Paul's great interview with Adam Levine in Instinct. Hear more M5 at myspace

Mika Life In Cartoon Motion
A fun pop album, no doubt, but one of the more derivative collections of the year. Love Today shamelessly rips off Scissor Sisters, while Grace Kelly, fab though it is, is just a clusterfuck of other songs by other people. Nothing approaches the brilliance of early single Relax (Take It Easy), which actually sounds like it was recorded in 2006. Lollipop- a sort of update of Jean Knight's Mr. Big Stuff (remember that?) - is the sickest ear candy in years, with children singing, "Sucking too hard on your lollipop, love's gonna let you down." Wot!? Honestly, Mika's extreme success baffles me and makes me wonder what is afoot in the starmaker machinery. He's likeable, but why him over any other good artist?
Hear more Mika, if you must, at myspace

Mr. Hudson and The Library A Tale Of Two Cities
Fans of Captain, Ghosts, Upper Room - all the Britpop faves- take note! This band has seriously slid in beneath the radar. I would have never known about them, but for The Zapping. The sound is a moody mix of dubby pop and jazz - pazz'n'jop, as The Village Voice might say. Upon The Heath, Picture Of You and Tale Of Two Cities (the title track is a hidden track!) are all lovely and lowkey, while Take Us Somewhere New has more oomph. They even do a song from My Fair Lady, though my roommate had to point this out to me. My own favorite is the piano-based Upon The Heath, with its image of the singer smoking weed on Hampstead Heath.
Hear more Mr. Hudson at myspace

Mutya Buena Real Girl
The first warning of a dud was the bland album title and impossibly dull artwork. Debut solo single Rea Girl is shamelessly built on a Lenny Kravitz sample that it takes awhile to hear through. It's a decent track, but not a "wower" like her collab with Groove Armada, Song For Mutya. There are few other decent songs, including Breakdown Motel, Paperbag, and the lovely, Sugababes-y It's Not Easy. Still, too many tracks are simply atrocious. B-Boy Baby with Amy Winehouse is the most criminal, an attempt to co-opt another artist's sound in the cheapest way possible, by again ripping off an old song. Don't get me started on the poor grammar on Wonderful. Oy! Am I being too hard on My Beloved Mutya? No. She is one of the best voices out of England today, but that's not enough. You need good songs and Real Girl is bereft of them.
Hear more Mutya at myspace

Feist The Reminder
Leslie Feist deserves her own post, but I am not sure how to write about The Reminder. It's a really strong collection, if not quite perfect. 1234 and My Moon My Man are some of the finest, most joyous pop songs of the year [yes, pop, indie charmers!]. Just click on her name in the labels below to watch the videos, which make the songs even better. Feist also tackles jazzier sounds with Honey Honey and makes loneliness sound gorge on How My Heart Behaves. There are a few songs I willfully don't like, but the number of beauties here makes up for that.
Hear more Feist at myspace

Travis The Boy With No Name
While the new album is better than 2003's weak 12 Memories, it's baffling to me that the band took 4 years to come up with such a meandering set. Closer is lovely, as are Colder and Underneath The Moonlight with KT Tunstall. Still, the album lacks a driver like Turn, perhaps because they have been away from live performance for so long. Hear more Travis at myspace

Coming soon, I hope: Full reviews of Ghosts, Tracey Thorn, and Siobhan Donaghey.

June 14, 2007

I can turn emotion and off

It's Gay Pride season, so let's do some celebratin' with a little Miss One. Someone posted this in the Popjustice Forums awhile back... Diana Ross' opening for her 1981 diana [that is a llittle "d", bitches'] TV special.


1.The rooftop opening is megalomaniacal brilliance. Breathtaking! When will
Bouncey Knowles steal the idea?

2. "With Special Guest Larry Hagman?"

3. A pretty coat of dead white Persian kitten tails.

4. In the round. ooooh!

5. The Boss is sounding really current to me. I am so putting that on my iPod right now.

6. The album this special promoted came out in May 1981 and is pretty class. I had a copy at a... very young age. 8 brilliant songs on in a cover that opened up (and had nipples!). It included Upside Down, I'm Coming Out, My Old Piano, Tenderness.

7. Have a nice vacation, Tricky Richard. This post might make you a little wet.

8. Does the Forum still exist in LA or did they blow it up?

9. You can bet my debut album- out the same week as Lorraine's and Matinee Club's - will have a massive drum intro lifted right from I'm Coming Out.

10."I want to thank you for the love."

Note there is a lot of Diana on Youtube, like Home (pretty,wasn't she?) and this.

It's long overdue

Go to iPop to hear Roisin Murphy's Overpowered (Kris Menace Mix). I finally heard her next song Movie Star and it is better.

UPDATE! The better mix is the Seamus Haji mix currently posted via Mastermix

June 13, 2007

Chatting with Rufus: The unseen bits

Rufus in Attitude. That's me in the pink.

Before I begin: Listen to NPR's recording Rufus Wainwright's FULL live concert in Manhattan on June 9. Just play the first two mins (it's Release The Stars) and you'll be wishing you could see him live. Note that at 42:30 he performs Between My Legs with his swarthy boyfriend Jorn doing the Sian Phillips part in German. Watch it!

And now, the post proper:

I believe in giving 'til it hurts. Thus, I gave the finest moments of my Rufus Wainwright interview to Instinct Magazine (read it now if you fancy). Still, there are some quotes and bits of information the fans might like to know.

Note that when you read a QandA for a magazine, it is often heavily edited. The questions you see in the mag are not really the transcript of what I actually said. His answers have been shortened a bit too, but are all his words in context. The red quotes you see below from me or Rufus are exactly what we said on the phone...

Tidbit: Rufus confirms that the picture on his messageboard of the plump male fan is indeed the boy depicted as “fat kid in the green t-shirt" in his new song Tulsa.

Tidbit: Regarding the antique store that makes an appearance in the same song, Rufus says, "I haven’t been back yet. I’m waiting and I’m going to announce my arrival 'cause they better get me a deal over there."

Here is a bit on the forthcoming Garland show CD/DVD package (out in September '07):

XO: Is there going to be a film of it?
RW: "We filmed the show at the Palladium, the London show, and the album is going to be of the Carnegie Hall (NYC) show and there’ll be one more show at the Hollywood Bowl in September."

XO: Is there a documentary happening? [note: Sam Mendes was shooting footage for last summer]

RW: "There was possibly going to be one, but that didn’t happen."

One more thing he said to me during our discussion of the actress Sian Phillips:RW: "I met Sian Phillips at a party about a year ago. I’m longtime 'I Claudius' fanatic - you must know that, since you’re a librarian and you know about 'I Claudius' "

A bit more on why there are so few club mixes of Rufus songs:RW: "If anybody wanted to try, that’d be fine. I don’t know how much my voice is really attuned to that kind of music. I tend to demand too much attention of the audience."

A funny unused bit on his current obsession with wearing lederhosen:

XO: Are you going to have your band wear lederhosen? Would you ask them to do that?
RW: No. I wouldn’t have them. Are there are Jews in my band? I think its weird for Jewish people to wear lederhosen. I want all the attention on my bussy.

During the lederhosen discussion, this is what Rufus said about the desire for youth:
RW: "We all really want to look twelve. That's the way things are – that’s the age group that’s becoming most popular on television."

Rufus shooting his new video, Rules And Regulations

Click on the tag below to read more about Rufus or my review of his new album

June 12, 2007

GoodBooks go to war

When Kent's GoodBooks (that's a big G, big B) launched their single Leni in late December, I wanted to like them because I needed a new BritPop band, but I found them to not quite pop the way I'd hoped. Things have changed: just a few weeks ago I featured the video for second single The Illness, which was a vast improvement over Leni.

One month later they have another new single, a narrative song called Passchendaele (I know, wot?! It's the scene of a great battle in WWI) about a father and son who die in consecutive wars. It's very Masterpiece Theater, this blazing pop song that welds indie-sounding verses to a melodic history lesson of a chorus: "He carried English bayonets in an English way / He smoked Java cigarettes on Christmas Day / He never made it past 25 / He died on Passchendaele / Fighting for a cause / In a war to end all wars."

There's something about the track that reminds me of Talking Heads. Well, Heads if they'd been sung by dewy young Brits with jangly guitars. The details are so spot-on: the moment after the second verse when Max Cooke sings "never again...now" (1:47), the ping ponging noise you hear after the 2nd chorus (2:20), and the horns that lead into the cacophonous ending.

GoodBooks Passchendaele:

Their debut album is finally ready - it's out on July 30. I'm glad they took their time. It's called Control and here is the tracklist: Beautiful To Watch / The Illness / Passchendaele / The Curse Of Saul /Alice / Good Life Salesman / Violent Man Lovesong / The Last Day / Walk With Me (new version) / Leni / Turn It Back (new version) / Start/Stop

Hear other songs at Goodbooks mypsace page

June 11, 2007

Mixtape: From lame suits right down to tennis shoes

That is world famous bottom George Michael at "new look" Wembley this weekend. More on that in a moment.

On Friday I decided to do one of my favorite solo jaunts... to get tacos at this place I like in Foggy Bottom (yeah, Foggy Bottom, the part of DC where the State Dept and The Watergate are). I used to make a little habit of going to this place, The Burro, and then hitting Tower Records in the same complex. It closed, of course, in late December and I've not been over there since. Last night I walked by the big empty space and there was still a note on the door that said We were honored to serve you for 24 years or something to that effect. Sighhhhh. I shopped there when I was like 15 and the implosion of that chain still bugs me to this day.

Anyway... some random bits:

First HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAN THE MAN. I hope you have an exhilirating year!

That new da-di-da-di-da Paul McCartney song Ever Present Past sounds just like Wings! Hello 1977! Not sure where you can stream it though...

Sophie Ellis-Bextor
says she reads her reviews so I hope she read mine... I wish she would do an email interview with me [La Bex have "your people" call "mine"]. Sophie is currently doing a few weeks of shows with George Michael of all people...

Did any London readers see George at Wembley? He opened with a cover of Tim (late-father of late-Jeff) Buckley's Song To The Siren (watch the show intro). Watch him do Freedom 90 and a version of Elton John's somewhat obscure track Idol (professional footage)! That's the Elton song that goes "But his face has changed, he's not the same no more..." heh. What is up with those shit-tastic glasses? I think he's had more work done, the Surgery Queen. Whatever, he still has the voice and immaculate taste in covers. Here also is an interview Chris Evans did with him 2 weeks ago, along with a recent soundcheck.

The new Ghosts b-side Hate The Music is fantastic. Hear it on myspace and buy the new single on itunes or here.

My Lorraine source (Karen!) reports their album is almost done. I'll say no more until there are specifics.

The Matinee Club is recording their second album? Where did I read that? They might try releasing their first. And on something other than white fucking vinyl.

Voxtrot is very good despite their indie haute status... go here and stream Steven.

Note to Countpopula: New Stephen Duffy / Lilac Time abum out this year.

I suddenly couldn't care less about Kelly Clarkson. Screamer! Over her! Other (better) artists I seem to be out of love with include Tori Amos, Bjork, Travis (sorry!) and the Candie Payne record was not for me. I liked the style of it but felt the songs were lacking. Like a Lenny Kravitz record: nice clothes, slack body. I know some will disagree. None of those records are terrible, I just have no will to play them.

It's been two years now since Rachel Stevens released Negotiate With Love, the first song I loved by her. Come back to the five and dime, Rachel Stevens, Rachel Stevens.

Mixed Up In Glitter has Jamiroquai's Don't Give Hate A Chance (Freemasons Edit). There are also loads of good mixes on this post.

Hollyoaks has just started showing on BBC America. Not sure what year this series is from. We're also geting MI-5 (aka Spooks) which freaked my shit out the other night when some villian fried the hand of one of the characters in a vat of burning oil and then fried her head off too! Nice. It haunts me a bit, but I have the final season of Footballers Wives to distract me. Bring on Tanya Turner vs Joan Collins!

Finally, The Sopranos. The ending annoyed me Sunday night, but now I've mellowed to it. This was not an outstanding episode, but once you got over the trick of the last second, it made sense to go out as they did. My mother and friend really did call to ask if their cable had gone out. Here is the scene if you missed it.

An average 10 seconds

...in Madonna's life is a big thrill / pub discussion for these London firemen:

June 10, 2007

XOvision: Summer Sunday

This mega video post took forever, with much teeth-gnashing as Blogger f*cked me over again and again. In other actual news, I got a car this weekend! Onward/tally ho:

Steven Lindsay Monkey Gone To Heaven:

This reminds me of when Tori covered Nirvana and you discovered the songcraft beneath the original performance. This song was a favorite in college and Pixie cultists are sure to slash it to bits. Clearly Steven Lindsay is not a girl with a pixie cut [groan!].

Enrique Iglesias singing to the gayers:

How sweet. I mean it, how sweet. It gets really good at the end when Lil' Rique wraps his arms around the dumbstruck Asian boy - and note there is a kiss at the very end. The man is clearly safe in his sexuality. (X-rated comment: You just know Iglesias is the type who says a mouth is a mouth.) PS: Tricky has more commentary on this evening since he was there. I don't think Enrisque kissed Tricky though.

A Fine Frenzy Rangers:

A Countpopula and Wongie recommendation, here is the video for Alison Sudol's first single. Yes, she is a redhead at the piano (who actually looks a bit like Anne Hathaway crossed with Keira Knightly). She's got her own thing though and the song has a pleasingly big, propulsive sound. As for the imagery, I think Patrick Wolf has stumbled through these woods in many a video... and who is the pervy old man? And is Alison one of those poetic redheaded girls who wear in appropriare clothing to a hike?

Roisin Murphy Overpowered:

Overrated more like it. I will say that I enjoy Overpowered more now that I have seen the video, but I don't think it's the second coming. This video debuted on Popjustice and it's really amusing. Roisin has the whole droll /mundane thing down pat. I love the details in the video: the drunk on the bus, the chippie, especially the weird doll in her bedroom. One should not brush one's teeth while sitting on the toilet though. Rumor has it her next single Movie Star is a total killer. Stay tuned.

The Smiths On Charlie's Bus:

The Smiths and Sandie Shaw on UK kids' show Charlie's Bus in April 1984. This recommendation comes from Krissy who points out this exchange:

Child: Where are we going?
Morrissey: We're all going mad.
Child: I thought we were going to Kew Gardens?

Patrick Wolf Magic Position on Jimmy Kimmel:

A straightforward live TV reading of Patty's new single, though it seems to me there is some pre-recorded stuff happening. He actually looks like a Boy Scout! He's wearing the shirt I like, though I want it in a sapphire blue color... but I digress. I love how he's holding the ukelele up vertically as if it's an electric guitar. Patty is so likeable when he's not having an angry breakdown. Vid courtesy of Lycanthropy

June 9, 2007

Ali G In Da House

Look who was spotted in London at the Institute of Contemporary Art on May 30? Alison Goldfrapp! Does this mean she is re-emerging? I predict new Goldfrapp music by the end of 2007. However, there is bogus news floating that they'll be at Glastonbury in two weeks. Don't believe it.

Remixers Project K have done a new 9-minute mix of Goldfrapp's ballad Time Out From The World, described by them as "commercial trance style, full vocal, but hopefully on the atmospheric side" Hear it on their myspace page, along with lots of Kylie mixes. Get the MP3 by right clicking on the image below.

Note that all of this is courtesy of Goldfrapp.fr - truly the best Goldfrapp fan site, where I got most of the info for this post. Be sure to visit/bookmark them!

8:45am: In an unrelated note, I am eating iced yellow layer cake as I type this post.
8:50 am: I am entering sugar coma.

Review: Lily Allen, live in DC, 2/16/07

Somehow this post lingered in drafts for 4 months?! Let me give it the gift of life now.

So, I went to see Lily Allen at the 9:30 Club on Feb 16 and didn't blog it as I was lazing about in post-Lily euphoria. This was her first tour in America, 7 dates only and she kicked ass.

It was a freezing night here in DC, with snow and ice all over the streets. I had a ticket to sell outside the theatre and ended up giving it away (free) to some persistently sassy queen and his supposedly moneyless little girl friend. It was fekking cold and I am not into selling on the street. Anymore. bada bing!

Lily had a cracking band with three horn players. Two of them stood next to me in the balcony and danced to Wham before the show. I didn't know they were with Lily until she came out and stood there too. Gahh. I chose to play it cool, dudes.

Don't listen to that ol' slag Chartrigger! All the bullshit swirling around Lily is white noise. She is a great live peformer and if you don't believe me listen to her complete live performance at the 9:30 Club from April 8, 2007. It's near perfect. She had one of those little sound effect machines on a stand that she would randomly launch as she bounced around the stage. Machines guns, crowd noise, etc.

She wore a very lowcut black Lily Allen-ish dress (duh) and large white "trainers." She had her hair long and kept pulling it around her shoulder on one side.

That's Lily above (clips from my DC show) talking about the things that annoy her. Let's get something clear: she is anything but a bitch. She had a great sense of humor only hours after losing the Brit Awards and she only got slightly tipsy. Watch the clip below where she questions a fan who keeps screaming "A-T-L!"

On the slower tunes, she sang her little heart out (see top pic from another show). Her voice was so sweet on all the songs, actually, including her Keane and Kooks covers. Not that her songs require vocal acrobatics, but she was very good. This last clip is from a different show, her singing Naive with a "fag" in her hand. Listen to her singing that one on the pink link below, at about 33 (and a half) minutes in. It is goddamned precious.

just smile. I go ahead and smile.

June 7, 2007

New voice: Sara Bareilles

Last last year, I received an email from a friend suggesting I check out this girl singer's website. Okay. The first song I played, Gravity, was a full-on singer/songwriter piano classic. I read the bio and found out that singer, Sara Bareilles, had been having a rough time of it. She'd signed to a "major" and then found herslef in the position of defending her music as she tried to produce it the way she thought it should be done. I looked into buying her previous indie CD, but it was a fortune on Amazon Marketplace. And so I gave up. She'd appeared on very few blogs and certainly not on Hype Machine. Another music industry corpse, I thought.

So that was it... until a few days ago when a PR person emailed me out of the blue and said Sara Bareilles (Bar-rell-is) is finally bringing out her debut album. That record is called Little Voice and the single is the titled Love Song, perhaps because it's anything but a love song...

Sara Bareilles Love Song expired

She's very good. It would be easy to hear her once and say "derivative", but Sara brings it on the songs I've heard so far. I'd liken her to a young Sarah McLachlan, but with a more sturdy Billy Joel quality. The sound is very much in keeping with the female singer/songwriters of the 70's. Piano, bass, guitar and strings. Come fall, Grey's Anatomy will devour Sara Bareilles!

Go to Sara's myspace page and stream the epic Gravity - it's really pretty and the vocal performance is pretty stunning, especially near minute 3. The album is out in July, but you can buy a three-song EP for $1.99 at iTunes US now! It has Love Song, Bottle It Up and Gravity, which you can also watch live below. Pay attention sensitive kids, this girl is the real deal.
UPDATE (6/9/07): These songs were produced and mixed by Eric Rosse, who did Tori Amos's first two albums. This detail alone will stir interest among Amos kids.

PS: Not only do I like her music, I like her font. See EP cover at the top.