August 30, 2007

I'm in love WOOH! I'm in love WOOH!

Hurry up, Kylie. Tricky Richard is melting down in Majorca with anticipation. We're all waiting to see if your new single is a cover of this song, because the chorus sounds like a potential hit. Wooooh!

Two Hearts Kish Mauve sample

Titney's song. Hmph. On Perez and everywhere else. What kind of a day is it when Titney releases a song that is better than Madonna's latest offering? It's still ghetto, but I do like the synth bed underneath the gimme chorus. I was expecting far worse. This song is almost pop music. She's still a crazy-doomed-basket-case.

Tremble Clef is back on. Daily! He disappeared for about 6 weeks and I was worried. Mainly cuz tha bitch needs to find me some new music! He does have seven inches... of the new PSB mix of Integral.

Calvin Harris is overrated. The evidence stacks up that he is a one trick pony. I do like his song for Kylie, but I'm on Team Roisin when it comes to Mr. Harris.

Eskimo Joe. Do any of my Aussie bums (geddit?) know this band? What is their story? I am a bit torn on whether I like them or not.

The Just Jack / Kylie collab is old. The song was already on my version of the album, he just squeezed her voice into it. I guess it leaves me cold for this reason. ? If you want to hear a great Just Jack song, download the moody, robotic Disco Friends (killer live version!).

Mika. I sold his CD for 7 dollars. I like three songs, but I'm over it.

Damian Leith. I think his new CD is a disappointment. He does a nice cover of Eva Cassidy's cover of Fleetwood Mac's Songbird, but the record does not live up to the lovely Night Of My Life (video).

Del Amitri! Remember those Brits? The Scottish lead singer Justin Currie has a new record I'm "investigating." He has a song called No Surrender that starts out all gorgeous and then has these whack lyrics about Japanese snacks. Odd innit? Try If I Ever Loved You instead. UPDATE: I love this album and the above-noted No Surrender is a frickin' masterpiece of a rant.

Lucas Mire has a sleek high rise apartment. Wouldn't you like to know how I know? Actually you can see it too... LM, if you get, like, robbed, don't blame me, okay?

Roisin Murphy's next single, Let Me Know. as I have said before, is going to save pop music. Wongie has a better quality version. The album edit is the real masterpiece. Bring on the album.

Jordin Sparks is deeply unimpressive. Her song somehow manages to be a combination of McPhee and Underwood. No small feat, but it still lacks distinction. It sounds like something a team of writers came up with - the whole thing reeks of extreme marketing.

That Madonna / Cate Blanchett Bust I did traveled the Interwebs last week, most times credited! Toot toot! Speaking of busts...

Madonna's shiteous The Beat Goes On got remixed by web fanaticists and ya know what? It still tastes like warm dingleberry pie.

August 29, 2007

Lost classic: Tanita Tikaram

38 year old Tanita Tikaram is most famous for her auspicious early single, 1988's classic Twist In My Sobriety (watch it), covered a year later by Liza Minelli on her PSB-produced project. Radically beautiful, she is British, born of a Malyasian mother and "Indo-Fijian" father. Tanita appeared in the era of Samantha Fox, offering something really different: intelligent lyrics and a distinctive, androgynous voice. After her debut, which everybody and their brother had on cassette, Tanita contined to make albums on and off (5!) for the next ten years. The music was never bad, but it certainly did not sell.

In 1998, she released The Cappuccino Songs. Its debut single, Stop Listening, is a compelling piece of serious pop music. I love songs that blend acoustic instrumentation (woodwinds, guitar, piano) with complicated string arrangements and backing vocals. I particularly like the piano line at the end of each chorus, right after the lyric, "keep holding meeee." Then there is Tanita's deep, dried-parchment voice, which sometimes veers close to going off pitch, but. doesn't. quite.

Tanita continues to record music and in 2005 she released an elegant, jazzy album called Sentimental, available on itunes. See an EPK here and try the sweet Nick Lowe duet, Everyday Is New. She's still gorgeous!

Stop Listening lives in the pantheon with 90's classics like Milla's Gentlemen Who Fell and Sophie B. Hawkin's Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover. Dig it!

What is Tanita's connection to the hit/cult 90's British TV show This Life? Clue: it involves a full frontal.

The Stop Listening video, which I'd never seen until compiling this post:

Which FOXO (Friend of XO, of course) has at various times resembled Tanita (or vice versa, of course), especially in the College Years?
Answer / Evidence.

The prettiest girls you've ever met

So the The Pipettes decided to do a new cover for the US release of their CD (Oct 2). Why? The first one was just fine! But here's the bigger news: they've added two new songs: Dance And Boogie and Baby, Just Be Yourself. Both are streaming on their MySpace page. It also appears the album has been remixed by producer Greg Wells. Hmmmm. Will I have to get this version too? Waste not, want not.

August 28, 2007

The crazy little things that you do are magical

Goldfrapp is in the studio, in the "West Country" of England, working on their new album. Want a teaser of their new music? Go to their homepage and the music will automatically play (or go to the myspace page and click/play the song Loop). It's just a sample, but it sounds gorge!


Lily Allen and Common Drivin' Me Wild:

This is the video she was recently shooting. Could she be any cuter? I adore her, you hear me D'luvly?! "She on the treadmill like OK Go"

Turin Brakes Stalker:

A small film, very well done. Not in love with the song itself, but I admire the effort done on the promo.

Amy Winehouse Tears Dry On Their Own:

There is something very Streisand about how they film her in profile. She looks great and I love how absurd her hair is. [XO sighs] I wish her well. I think her husband may be a Bobby Brown type. She clearly worships him, but maybe in an unhealthy way. I mean, Sid loved Nancy and Nancy loved Sid; that didn't mean it was good. She should be her own best friend, not fuck herself in the head with stupid men.

Marc Almond Stardom Road promo:

This is funny, like a tacky TV commercial for a standards album by Rod Stewart. Except that it's Marc Almond and he's not tacky. Note that Marc does not have a wonky tooth, though it looks like it in one shot. Also, his mouth reminds me a bit of Cher when he sings. Does anyone see what I mean? All he has to do is lick his lips and it's Mrs. Bono-Allman!

August 27, 2007

Quote of the Week: Sandy B

From Sandra Bernhard's great new concert album Everything Bad And Beautiful:

People have been sending me these incredible bodywashes recently, these gorgeous scented botanical bodywashes... they're fabulous. Why, the other day I got a waft of chai latte that came up from my pussy and I thought, 'Could that be me?!'

I have not written much on her, but I've been obsessed with Sandra for like 18 years. The new CD is worth your money, but if you want to specific buy tracks on iTunes, I most recommend these: Sara (a classic!), Kerry/Lynne Cheney/Laura Bush, Mariah Carey/Britney Spears and I Hate Golf/Mock The Poor.

She'll be in the UK in late October and she is well worth your British pounds!

Dazzer Musicology

Chartrigger reports that Darren Hayes has gone in at #14 on the British charts - quite good for an independent double album.

A good double album can keep you entertained for ages. You find something new each time you play it. Here are my Top Ten (Plus One) Musical Moments on the new Darren Hayes record, which was released one week ago. In no order, except for #1, which is #1. Can you hear these on the album?

11. The synths at 2:30 on Neverland.

10. The butt-slapping giddyup! on The Future Holds A Lion's Heart. I am less enamored by his pronunciation of "craft" as "croft" - haha!

9. Who Would Have Thought?'s chiming wedding bells (around 3:17).

8. The pulsing, Laurie Anderson-esque intro and phone-line vocal treatment on The Only One. What an elegant song.

7. Sing To Me's pretty choral middle eight at 3:25.

8. The chill-inducing backing vocals from 2:57 to 3:12 on The Tuning Of Violins.

7. The lyric "A shimmering diamond within a ring that was worn through two world wars" on The Sun Is Always Blinding Me. This song should be the next single, not Me Myself And I.

6. The Kate Bushisms throughout the album (references, intentional or not, to Lionheart, The Ninth Wave suite and the opening bars of A Coral Room)

5. The British locations name-checked on the album: Notting Hill, York, (bluebells over) Blackheath.

4. The final minute of Future Holds A Lion's Heart, with the drawn out hellowwwwwwws.

3. The classic Giorgio Moroder turbo synths on Step Into The Light, a specific reference to Donna Summer's I Feel Love. which all great discopop divas feel compelled to rip. It's a rite of passage.

2. Words/images Darren manages to squeeze into the album's lyrics: atypical, velocity, origami, "sheets and pillowcases seem to overtake your head", reference to Wilde's The Picture Of Dorian Gray, prototype, "bite into the onion" references to 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, the imagery of "my hands fly off the steering wheel", A/C that does not work, bowler hats, "Paris in a new sports bra", violins tuned a little sharp, "little black rocks make televisions work", helicopter blades, peaches and cream, "I forgot to moisturize."

1. The spine-tingling moment in Casey (3:25) when beat comes in much stronger. The song sort of opens up at that moment. And the pretty synth piece at 4:43.

Check out Arjan's interview with Darren...
This Delicate Thing We've Made

From Xtuna to Exotic

You have to give it to the girl. Christina Aguilera went to image rehab in '06/'07 and came out victorious. She went from skank to classique. Yeah, she still dollops on the makeup with a trowel, but she looks great. Will her next incarnation be Earth Mother, hmmm?

Aguilera, post-style-rehab:

Xtuna, during the downfall:

click to enlarge. heh heh.
This post is here for no specific reason. Xtina is not releasing anything new, nor am I much of a fan.

August 25, 2007

Review: Lucky Soul's The Great Unwanted

Isn’t that photo gorgeous? It’s Lucky Soul’s vocalist, Ali Howard, on the cover of their newest single, the wickedly titled One Kiss Don’t Make A Summer (out on September 3).

In April of this year, Greenwich's Lucky Soul released an album of pure unadulterated joy. There is nothing angsty or dour about The Great Unwanted. It has some beautiful moments that play to the perpetually forlorn (me), but the broader effect is fizzy pop.

It was the band’s early single Ain’t Never Been Cool that attracted me. The song is a distillation of the band’s trademark sound: cooing female vocals mixed with dapper horns, strings, smashing drums, an iron clad melody. All elements build to mantra-like finales that can be shouted by a crowd of partygoers, leaving them in a heaping mass of sweaty bliss when the song ends. If the final 30 seconds of Never Been Cool don’t get you revved, nothing will. Phenomenal.

Title track The Great Unwanted is, without doubt, one of the finest songs of 2007. The band wisely gave this one away to bloggers in the early part of the year. If you’re forever on a first date – doomed, like me - there’s something just about this song. Especially the booming finale (that starts at 3:10):
“Look for us, we were the casualties, forever paying a price for a life less boring / Look for us 'cause when the tables turn, you’ll be saying a prayer to the great unwanted... we will not be ignored.”

If song titles are like book covers, how can you go wrong with this album: Get Outta Town!, Add Your Light To Mine Baby, My Darling Anything. The awesome Lips Are Unhappy (video) has this brilliant 90-second coda consisting of these lyrics: shake shimmy shimmy. Repeated over and over. If this played in a bar I was drinking in, I’d be bouncing like a pogo stick, drinking sloshing onto the floor.

My Darling Anything is a tear-soaked 50’s ballad, with one of those sad guitars that cries down the scales (listen at :10 seconds in). Cleverly, the beat matches the lyric: “I’ve got a heart condition / Just listen closer / Every fourth beat is missing” (I think it was Lucas who caught that?) The ending is pretty and chill inducing, with Ali repeating,
“I’ll do anything you want, I’ll do anything it takes.”

Great lyrics abound on The Great Unwanted. Lucky Soul knows how to wring a metaphor: “The towering inferno inside me / May one day consume me and devour me / Well I say, 'Let it burn! Let it burn!'" (guess the song title) or this gem from My Brittle Heart:
“I need you more than a life raft needs the shore / Wave come lapping at my door/ A sadness never felt before.”

While Add Your Light is not my favorite song – and, in hindsight, perhaps the wrong one to launch the album back in April - it’s a fine example of the band’s use of horns. This is sound I think Paul Weller was honoring in the early days of The Style Council. Just listen to his oldie Speak Like A Child for evidence.

Strings also play a big part in the Lucky Soul sound. I am not sure how they approximate them live, but My Brittle Heart (watch the video) is a great example. They seesaw and swoop, guiding the mood like movie music. I suspect Lucky Soul’s sound is actually quite massive live. Theirs is the kind of music that leaves you in a heart-racing sweat at the end of their set. It’s a great follow-up to last year’s Spector revival with The Pipettes. [No small miracle, since I can’t stand most 50’s/60’s music] What Lucky Soul brings with The Great Unwanted is a kind of adult elegance, sophistication and a lot of passion.

Finally, I need to note again, the album has the best band photos / design of this year. I love the tie logo and photos of Ali and the boys looking retro-cool in decidedly faded settings (see more artwork here). Like Brighton in the Brittle Heart video, where a ghost pier is crumbling into the sea, there’s respect in letting the past go on its own terms. Don’t tear it down; just revel in what made it great and bring your own glamour.

Lucky Soul My Brittle Heart video
Lucky Soul Add Your Light To Mine Baby video

Buy it in the UK on CD or online / in the US online
/ See more Lucky Soul posts

Thanks to Seb for all the art

August 24, 2007

The queerest of the queer

For those who did not get to see it, here is my review of Absolute Garbage from the August issue of Instinct. Click to enlarge it. I was quite pleased with this one. Forced conciseness (is that a word?!) is a good thing for writers!

August 23, 2007

The comeback kids

This morning's lost post is back! A recap of the recent new singles by pop royalty...

Girls Aloud Sexy No No No
A by-the-boobies number for the Aloud, but it really works. The opening minute is fucking thrilling, especially the second set of no no no's ("hell no!") at 0:51 seconds. I know one hot chick who will be driving around LA, in her bitchin' Camaro, with this song blasting.
Watch the video. Grade: A

Annie Lennox Dark Road
I now quite love this song, but for one flaw: the screeching heyaheyaheya middle eight which disrupts its "stoic elegance" (Annie has that genre licked). Word is that the album is a rollicking blast, so why they chose to launch with this song, I don't know. By the way, to clear up confusion, I am a Bare fan. I love that record, though not as much as the previous two. Watch the video. Grade: B+

Duran Duran Falling Down
I intially liked this song, but now I find it a weak choice for a single, especially since I've crinkled my nose, squinted my eyes and admitted that Nite Runner pops. This one goes nowhere: it's not bad and it's not great. The chorus has a horrifying lyric: "Because I'm falling down / With people standing 'round / But before I hit the ground..." Simon, you can do better, though I'm glad you didn't do worse. Grade: B-

Sugababes About You Now
I know how I feel: If I wanted Avril circa 2004 or Pink circa 2006, I'd play them (well, only the latter - Avril and I will never be). I count on the 'babes for more depth than this slice of American pie. The middle eight, as noted by zillions, is quite nice, but other than that, why would you play this more than once? I should also note that the new sophisticated image does not work with the song. Hear it on Youtube. Grade: C

Madonna The Beat Goes On
Where to begin on this sibling of meh 1994 b-sides Let Down Your Guard and Up Down Suite? Pharrell Williams is all hot on himself because he is chillin' in Dade County with the Queen. He fills every moment she's not warbling with his own non-singer vocals. Timbaland is usually guilty of this too; it harkens back to the days of Rodney Jerkins, when every song had him intoning "Darkchild" at the beginning. Note the song is neither "something to think about" or "something other than the same old thing." Don't even get me started on the shrill section posing as a chorus. Hear it free at any corner bodega! Grade: D

Yes, I know I reviewed some of these songs already, but a guy likes to change his mind... which reminds me, you maynot have noticed that I edited the Darren Hayes review. I added a bit about Future Holds...

As ever, photo by Hedi Slimane

My morning post was eaten...

by Blogger. Fully consumed. It was little graded reviews of new songs. May it rest in peace. Let's just look at the always intense Annie Lennox instead...

August 22, 2007

Kylie imminent

To quote another female icon, "It's in the trees! It's coming!"

That's Kylie in London on 8/21/07. This post is dedicated to a very impatient Man of La Mancha...

Do not be taken, ye good people

UPDATE! I am bouncing this post. See comments field for my first-listen opinion of the new leaked song, The Beat Goes On. What do you think? you can probably find it here.

This is not the new Madonna album cover:

It is a very clever Photoshop of this:

Bravo to whoever keeps doing these fake promos. They're fairly realistic and stylish enough to be real. Madonna should hire this person. I am tired of Steven Klein photos anyway.

As for the new music leak: trite. insipid. drivel.

Cate pic found here.

August 21, 2007

Quote of the week

Sometimes the most inappropriate comments are the funniest...

Will she have a new way of covering up her bad eye? So far we've had eye patch, hair and glasses - surely it's time for something new?

That's from jimbob1311 on the Popjustice forums, talking about popstar Gabrielle.

On a less cruel note, Gabrielle has a new CD called Always coming out in the fall. You can hear a bit of her new single Why - she sounds like Macy Gray on it! Note that song is built around Paul Weller's track Wildwood, which is a personal favorite of mine. That track is like a prayer to me, maudlin as that sounds. Weller plays and sings on the new Gabrielle version.

Popjustice also did a frontpage piece on the new CD.

Here is the Weller original:

I want you all over me

Bitchin Gwen's new fragrance ad. Seems to have a few rips of other famous perfume ads. And her New Orderish song, Wonderful Life.

I am more amused by her Sims video, with its sepia-toned flashbacks:

August 19, 2007

"A right lady of the manor"

Wondering what's up with Imogen Heap? She has taken over the home she grew up in - The Oval House - and is renovating it and installing her studio for the recording of her new record. One little tidbit in her blog is that she was recently saddened to find someone she was sweet on did not return her affection in that way. Why would you not want to be Immi's boyfriend? If a talented and unique upcoming star like Imogen is not a catch, who is?

These new video blogs are very endearing - they appear to be as much for her own firends and family as any sort of promotional device. Notice that Imogen has removed the various bird's nests, eggs and sparkly things from her hair...

Video blog #1:

She has a fake snake around her neck that she explains

Video blog #2:

Hear about Immi painting her toilet. Woohoo! :) Could she be any cuter?

From Imogen's youtube site.

August 18, 2007

Cover story

I think this album cover is EPIC! Sadly, this group has devolved into making ten cent tunes. Really, really cheap music, recycled beats. Blech.

Meh! Athlete started out so promisingly and have kind of morphed into Coldplay-lite. If you want to hear them at their best, seek out two songs: You've Got The Style and Wires.

Don't know who Mr. Scott is, but he has a nice place to sit and have a think. Good album title too.

This band is not my cuppa, though their new single Girls And Boys In Love is classic British pop music. And this album cover is iconic! I LOVE it... would be great to have this in a 33 LP sleeve. The only flaw is the lame way they display the title in the upper left corner.

So-so CD cover, but this is my way of telling you Stephen has a new CD out Oct 15! Check his myspace for the a song, Desert Shore, which is comforting and classic Lilac Time. As for the cover, Stephen looks good in a dress.

August 17, 2007

Roisin loves London too

The new cover of London mag Boyz is quite the deluxious, isn't it? Roisin Murphy's workin' it for her new album (anyone know the release date?)Los Americanos can buy MP3s of her songs at 7 Digital by the way.

The interview that goes with this cover is a stitch. She is very funny. At one point she tells the writer how her art collaborator put her on the cover of Sleaze Nation magazine "in the back of a van being shagged by a roadie." The writer says, "Blimey. Actually shagging?" to which she responds, "No it didn't go in."

August 16, 2007

New Britpop: Passenger

Passenger is my Brit band du jour. There have been several this year, but this is the first one to match Ghosts in songcraft and production. They're from beachy Brighton and their sound is grounded in a soft, folksiness (is that a word?), but it's still very much pop. The extraordinary lead singer is a 22 year old named Mike Rosenberg.

They've received support from Jo Whiley (a good thing!) and are soon to release a 10-song debut album - September 10 - called Wicked Man's Rest. Today, Arjanwrites has a post with a free live MP3 that's quite good. Arjan has been championing this band for a few months now.

Passenger Wicked Man's Rest:

Oh, how I adore this song. The lyrics are quite intricate and the piano is just so delicate. This is the title track to their forthcoming album and anyone can buy a DRM-free MP3 of this tune from 7 Digital. By the way, that's the late beat poet Allen Ginsburg in the vocal clips.

Passenger Walk You Home:

Jaunty new single. Check out Mike's vocal at the start of the song. Sounds like a Lilliputan man, doesn't he? Not sure about his dancing, but he is very earnest. You believe him when he sings.

Passenger Do What You Like:

Here Mike reminds me a bit of Sinead and Dolores - the way his voice does that yodel-y crack.

HRH's Natal Day

It's Madonna's 49th birthday. What does that mean? It means you are fucking old! The photo above is quite rare - it's by Paolo Reversi, 1994. Warner Bros rejected these for the Bedtime Stories album cover.

The video below: As one would guess, I am somewhere in party scene. See me? Hint: I am wearing a nice watch.

How about a tune?

Madonna v. Cassius Toop Toop Groove link
Solid mashup of French group and Madge.

The best Madonna birthday tribute this year - by farrrr - was Adem's at IAR. I saw clips there that I'd never seen before.

August 14, 2007

XO's Playlist: I'm in for a ride

Roisin Murphy Let Me Know
Holy crap! Like Lisa Stansfield meets Diana Ross circa Upside Down. The catchiest thing Roisin has ever done, this sounds like a fantastic night at Studio 54. And a potential comer to my "top" lists for 2007. All that's missing is the coke spoon and the cum on the ultrasuede...
Hear a preview at RM's myspace and watch above

Duran Duran Nite Runner
Color me taken aback (color me peach and black)! This blogger reserves the right to change his mind. When I first heard this track, all I could focus on was the smug Timbaland beat. Since then, my ear has registered the simplicity of the whole affair, not to mention the cowbell! Like Notorious v.07. Nite runner, I think I'm fallin' for ya.
Hear it now at EW Online

Sugababes About You Now
How exciting! Avril, Kelly C. and Pink have teamed up for a new song by Max Martin protogee Dr. Luke! Really, dawgs! This shizz is burning hawt like a Nascar on fire - what? This is Sugababes? It's not bad at all - quite catchy with enough electrosheen to keep it from going too Fall Out Boy - but hey, this is 2007, not 2005. Probably a big hit, though it lacks the hilarious lyrics of Push The Button or Easy.
Hear it now at the Babes myspace

Ari Gold Where The Music Takes You
Poor gymboy Ari, everybody must confuse him with a TV character. If Roisin is doing the 70's, Ari is paying homage to the early 90's - Mariah Carey specifically. Although he has highly questionable sartorial taste, Ari has spunked out his finest single and the first one that's caught my ear.
Hear it now at Ari's myspace.

Girls Aloud Sexy! No No No
One part Standard Issue Aloud, one part chanty brilliance. My Hell-Lay Tastemaker tells me this will hit the spot in her convertible Camaro. Xenomania achieves a sublime state: minimal input = maximum output.
Hear it by watching the video


Guilty secret: I love the ungrammatical new Jennifer Lopez song, Do It Well. Gack! Haven't felt this shamed since I like Fergie's Glamourous. It sould have been given to Jennifer Hudson though.

August 13, 2007

From the high to the meh with Annie

Picture makes me go ahhh, song does not. Dark Road was played on British Radio today and I was a bit disappointed to find it's as the title suggests - a sort of midtempo, therapy thang. Much like the music on Bare, an album I liked but don't need more of. I am still "chuffed" for the album and I imagine the song will sound good in context.

Judge for yourself, right now:

Annie Lennox Dark Road WM stream

August 12, 2007

Review: Darren Hayes' This Delicate Thing We've Made

It's increasingly rare in these mercenary days of the music business to find an artist who comes to full fruition years into his/her career. Most artists are not allowed to develop; some are even dropped after their first single flops. The career artist has it in him or her to disappear, live a real life, regroup and express it all through new music. Darren Hayes has done just that with his third solo album, the beautifully titled This Delicate Thing We've Made.

In a Jungian feat of self-realization, Darren fulfills a promise that I think has only been hinted at in his earlier work. By now most Europop fans know that Darren was the lead singer in Savage Garden, a 90's band from the naive era when we still thought Rosie O'Donnell was straight. Darren was straight them too, sort of! Since that time, he has released two solo albums and, notably, fallen in love and married a man in that hazy golden moment in San Franscisco when same sex marriage was sanctioned.

There are 25 songs on Delicate. 25! Prince once said that in order to build a double album that won't cave in on itself, a musician must be willing to take risks, mix it up. Delicate succeeds not only because Darren does that, but because the songwriting and production (by Justin Shave) are so precise.

The album's centerpiece, Casey, makes me a teen all over again. A paean to the pivotal relationships of youth, Casey exemplifies the pleasures of a double album: Darren has the time to allow the 6 minute+ track to slowly blossom with longer instrumental passages. The bass beat doesn't really come in until minute 3. The song is divided into sections and when you think it's about to end at 4:43, alongs comes a beautiful synth coda that adds to the grandeur.

The popera How To Build A Time Machine, with its Kate Bush-like chants ("They're running down the halllll!"), emphasizes the album's theme of time travel. Listen close: a wooden ship keeps appearing in the lyrics, floating above London and the oceans, at various points during the album. Perhaps a metaphor for breaking free?

A theme of escape is all over this album, particularly in the aforementioned Casey and the slamming opener for Disc 2, The Future Holds A Lion's Heart. One of the best up-tempos on the album, it's chaotic but maintains the melody. I'm not sure what to make of the voice screaming "giddyup!" followed by the sound of a naying horse?! That crazy bit is made up for by the final minute with the drawn out hellowwwwwwws... fantastic.

Delicate is sustained by numerous high points: the achingly romantic Who Would Have Thought's chiming wedding bells (3:17), the classic Giorgio Moroder turbo synths on Step Into The Light, Darren channeling a butch trucker on the vocals for the growling, electro Setting Sun, the phone-line vocal treatment on The Only Ones, and Sing To Me's choral middle eight at 3:25.

I Just Want You To Love Me
is the kind of ballad Prince is no longer able to write. Again the theme is self-epiphany: "I don't want to have to lie about what's inside." Fans should take note, though, that the live version on the Verge single is actually a more passionate vocal.

Conversation With God is smart and sleek. If you pay attention, you'll notice that the underwater album photos reference this song's lyrics and sound. There's a bubbling synth and the reappearance of that "mighty ship." It's songs like this that show Darren's evolution from Savage Garden's Top 40 climber to the league of pop musicians who weld together commerce and art.

With 25 tracks, a few of the experiments fall flat for me (Bombs In Our Faces and Waking The Monster) and occasionally there is a duff lyric ("Adam and Eve are tryin' to split up"). For the most part, Darren avoids anything that shuts the record down. He did mysteriously leave off one of the best songs from these sessions, Falling Angel, a new b-side that is the definition of taut. That track continues the travel theme: "They say that man wasn't meant to fly, but I built you wings and pointed you at the sky." Seek it out.

It's to Darren's credit that he's been able to write an album based in happiness. Not an easy task for most artists, who seem to thrive on - and manufacture pain for - their music. His last album, The Tension And The Spark, seemed based in darkness. Delicate's final track, Tuning Of Violins, is one of the happiest songs of 2007. It reminds me, in spirit, of Kate Bush's The Morning Fog, music for a beautiful day and the sound of achievement.

Delicate will be released throughout the world on August 20 and 21.

Maybe we could make it happen

I will join the chorus of hurrahs (and more) for Robyn's beautiful electro-baroque song With Every Heartbeat going to #1 in the UK. I hope the major labels - who did not release or promote this song! - take notice. Another blogger said this to me in an email:

Proof that new marketing models for getting music out there (including deliberate leaks) are working. Blogs to the rescue.

This song was on my Top Songs Of 2006 ironically. Bloggers on the frontier? Independent artists creating a new paradigm? I think so. Click on the tag below to see my other comments on Robyn.

August 11, 2007

Summer Saturday: Wishing I was in England

After Worrapalova posted a pretty Lotus Eaters track last week, I was listening to the playlist on Julia's Club Eighties and discovered a song I'd never heard before, but it seemed tres me. It's called Lady and it's by super-obscure 80's duo Jimmy Jimmy. I trolled around and managed to find their long-out-of-print album online (ask if you want to know where).

They only released this one album, Here in the Light, in 1986, in the U.K. That All Music link says it's a "dentist's worst nightmare" (as in sweet), but they seem to like it anyway. The music is very languid and folky. They had two singles, I Met Her In Paris and Silence, but it's Lady that stands out in hindsight. Below is the only picture I could find of the album cover... it's got that 80's look doesn't it? Very Johnny Hates Jazz or something.

Jimmy Jimmy Lady expired

Play it! It'll take you right back in time, even if you've never heard of them. If you like hearing obscure 80's Brit pop songs, let me know and I'll post more of them. Most are wayyyy out-of-print.

Amazingly, Jimmy Jimmy has a myspace page, though I suspect a fan built it. God bless the Internets. I'll close by saying they actually had a song called The Kettle's Boiling, which was made for this blogger, was it not? Yummm. I am getting some tea right now. Maybe it will be revealed that Camera Obscura are actually their children.

Lily on location

Lily Allen was in LA this week shooting a new video (no one knows which song it's for). I love these on-set pics. Surely that hair is a wig? Whatevah. Love her, love her, love her. Lily I am on your bus.

August 10, 2007

Duran Duran's Dry Hump

Who knew that Timberod and Timbaland would do a song for Duran Duran that was a mirror image of their own music? What a shocker! It is typical Timba: a repetitive, thumping groove. One that will make dudes who don't know Duran exclaim, "This shizz is hawt!" as they pick up a stripper in a club called Platinum or Bed.

It might grow on me, but for now Nite Runner is the sound of me getting old. There is a point at which we'll be so saturated in Timbaland's sound that the music will become dated very quickly. I feel like he is the most popular kid in school and I am a geek staring at him from behind my notebook.

Hear Nite Runner streaming at EW Online.

Meanwhile, back at the Converse All Star store, Sugababes are turning into Avril/ Kelly Clarkson

August 9, 2007

Like a satellite, like a radio wave, a meteorite

Artist of the year? Album of the year? Not sure yet, but I believe Darren Hayes will take on all challengers (Tracey Thorn, Siobhan Donaghy, Patrick Wolf, La Bex, etc) in that battle. This Delicate Thing We've Made is everything I hoped it would be. And it has what will be the finest album cut of 2007 in Casey. Wait and listen, everyone will be talking about this song [ed: oh it's started!]. I got teary and chilled the first time I played it and I am no drama queen.

Full review coming this weekend!

Off topic: The man invades my space

No, not myspace, my space. I have two Starbucks across the street from my apartment; one is in the shopping mall. Look who was getting his drink on yesterday. Becks. I hope he told them to bring back the pumpkin scone.

My guess is that he's shacked up in the Ritz Carlton attached to the mall (where XO does his tea, I hear!). I'd never have known were it not for Pink Is The New Blog.

August 7, 2007

Cover Story: Roisin returns

Do I even need to say anything? Fucking genius. And even better than the last single cover...

Big Roisin post coming soon...

Don't get excited. IT'S FAKE!

Not bad is it? She should just go ahead and run with it. One fan suggested it's her head stuck on Dita Von Teese's body. It looks kind of like the pics she did for Vanity Fair a few years back, but I don't think it's from that set. Hmmm. Fans are clevuh with their Photoshopping skillz.

What the sugar's all about

Debbie Harry got off to a bad launch for her upcoming album, which may or may not be released this fall. First there was the True Colors debacle and then I've hated most of the new pictures of Debbie. Except this one above. It's cute.

Fortunately the single, Two Times Blue, is good and that's what matters. It fits right into her tidy collection of solo singles like I Want That Man and French Kissin', though I like the remix better than the original. All this makes me think that women like Deb and Siouxsie need to welcome back the pop. I recently read someone floating an idea that Pat Benatar should do an album of operatic dance songs and I thought, "How true!"

Go to Dan's blog for the new Two Times Blue video

Check out my new Debbie tag below for more stuff I've written about the queen of pop/rock - for awhile I was posting photos of Debbie a lot and I've updated those posts so they look better.

August 6, 2007

I give you nothing 'til you show me something

A sneak peek at Nicola (don't like her) and Nadine's (my fave) looks for the Sexy! No No No video. Did Nadine actually get The Haircut Rihanna Launched And Keisha Homaged (see Sugababes pic below)?

If I were in charge...

Look, it's me, Xolondon Simpson. Gorgeous, eh?

Anyway, if I were in charge...

Courtney Love would have a cupcake. She seems to be trading one obsession for another. The early leaks of her new songs (on her own website) do not suggest an epic, but maybe she is saving the best stuff. I also would release her version of Rhiannon.

At the very mention of Timbaland, Madonna would make dismissive swiping motions with her arm while trilling, "Hello and goodbye!"

I would not let Hard Fi release their album with this lame cover.

Janet Jackson would work with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and not do "club bangers." I mean really, Barack Obama may become president, so could she get her fingers out of her... and do something with a higher level of social conciousness?

Rachel Stevens would be on the verge of releasing a new album to compete with all the diva pop this fall. She would come close to winning too. Le sigh.

Iri Lider's video for Jesse would be a hit on MTV because it needs to be seen by lots of teenagers. You can buy the song here.

Annie Lennox would do a killer video for her new single. You know, one with lots of costumes and characters.

I would stop confusing Shiny Toy Guns with Chungking with New Young Pony Club with A Kiss Could Be Deadly. I would give them each more than one good song too.

I would jail Pete Doherty for at least 6 months. Enforced rehab. I do not understand the London courts!

Lorraine would get off their Norwegian wood and at least tell their fans they still exist or don't exist. Their messageboard is shuttered and their myspace has been stagnant for 8 months.

Dragonette would put their Calvin Harris cover, Boys (watch a fanmade video), on their very good Galore album, along with a killer ballad and one more pop gem before they release the final CD. I'm not convinced it will ever see release in the US, there have been so many delays. Plus, the American music biz does not get this kind of pop.

Sara Bareilles would sit atop the Billboard Charts in CD sales. I also wish she'd get a budget for a proper video. Watch this recent live recording for Gravity. Wow.

Antigone would do a layout for Vogue Italia to promote her album. She reports the record is complete and we should hear it mid-fall.

Turin Brakes would have another song as good as Painkiller. (Tall order, but they do have a new album coming out Sept 17)

Emmy Rossum would not do an album photo that looks like a cropped Playboy Centerfold (see it here). I would also stop confusing her with Anne Hathaway. Emmy's music is Imogen Heap meets Enya meets Sarah Brightman. Very ethereal.

Joni Mitchell would not need to release her new Shine CD via Starbucks. BUT she has no choice - people will hear her music there and that is what counts. It's out on Sept. 25, by the way.

Vanessa Williams would make a really great, jazzy adult contemporary album. Her '94 CD The Sweetest Days is a lost classic. Solid album all the way through.

Queen Latifah, likewise, would do another jazzy album. Oh wait, she has!

Josh Rouse would stop bragging about recording his records in less than a week. Yes, it sounds like it, Josh. Two strikes you're out.

Marianne Faithfull would record an album of spoken word Shakespearean sonnets with backing by varous composers. I'm quite serious!

Titney, Nicole R, Lindsay and Paris would all move to Saudi Arabia for a year, where there would be a restraining order against cameras being within 200 yards of them.

I am on vacation now. YAY! Just for 9 days. It has been a crazy three weeks by my standards (which are usually not so busy), so I'm not overscheduling my break.

Anything that you want boy

If you don't read PopJustice normally, then you need to get there now to see what they have to say about the new Sugababes single called...

Looks like Fall '07 will have a showdown/dance-off between the 'babes and the "Aloud." I'm still recovering from the brilliance of Easy:

August 4, 2007


That's the enigmatic Darren Hayes yukking it up with Justin Shave, his producer (who also did Antigone's forthcoming debut). It's only a matter of weeks until Darren's double CD is released. While Madonna is running around chasing trends with Timbaland, Darren and Antigone are doing what The Queen used to do best: collaborating with a talented newcomer.

Darren is also blazin' trails with his promotion, being creative and risky with the way he "births" this album. He basically leaked two single-worthy tracks earlier this year (I love that!) and he's been using myspace, youtube and bloggers to get the word out. He did an early interview with Instinct and recently one with the EQ blog. just did a big chat as well.

Darren's new single On The Verge... has a live version of a beautiful new ballad called I Just Want You To Love Me. MAJOR vocal on that one. It's very gay pride-ish and still very personal.

So, do the math: four good tracks from the CD with 21 more to go and word from my Deep Throat is that the album is very, very good. For the unaware, it has one the prettiest titles of 2007: This Delicate Thing We've Made.

Below is a video of Darren showing off his big package in what looks to be an airport... Hmmmm. Who would have thought it could be that amazing?

Last word: Play this to hear the new music for the tour version of older song that's sort of like therapy set to a beat and synths. Watch the original. This new version sounds like Fergie's Glamorous, doesn't it? D'luvly noted this in his concert review a few weeks ago.

August 2, 2007

Mini review: Kate Nash's Made Of Bricks

Kate Nash releases her debut album on Monday and there is pleasant surprise: No Caroline Is A Victim! That was her first loathesome single (watch it), but it's ovah, the past. Here is the tracklist for Made Of Bricks :

1. Play 2. Foundations 3. Mouthwash 4. Dickhead 5. Birds 6. We Get On 7. Mariella 8. Shit Song 9. Pumpkin Soup 10. Skeleton Soup 11. Nicest Thing 12. Merry Happy/Little Red

A few quick musings: The album is GOOD! After a false start with the useless Play, the album bounces through a strong set of numbers that are neither too sweet nor too caustic. Aside from the zeitgeisty Foundations (get it here), I am immediately thrilled by the chorus of the gorgeous, summery Mouthwash (watch a simple live version) and We Get On, the latter of which has some surprisingly strong vocals on the chorus. Criticism that she's not a "real singer" is bunk; both songs gave me chills for some reason I cannot pinpoint, but it may be because there is something about her musical persona that reminds me of the beloved Kirsty MacColl - a comment that angered a Kirsty fan on the PJ boards. I think Kate Hate rings hollow: she is too new to sweepingly diss with any objectivity. It's almost as if the trendy Lily Allen Hate has transferred onto Kate because some folks think she's Lily Lite. Bull.

Kate appeared on Jools Holland 2 months ago and the performance moved me because she seemed really nervous, as one would be, yet she pulled it off. It's so nice to catch a new artist at this moment, when you know they really want it and they're working really hard. No taking it for granted.