November 30, 2007

2008: First listen to Duffy

Torr has a post that mentions a new Welsh girl singer named Duffy. She looks like a healthier Kate Bosworth and her single Rockferry (video) is very Gerry and the Pacemakers meets Lucky Soul. Definitely someone to watch in 2008 and, I think, more successful at this style than Candi Payne, probably because (Aimee) Duffy is a real belter. Listen also to her Van Morrison-esque song Warwick Avenue on her myspace page. I love artists who write songs about places!

Update Dec 1: Sarah Nixey's partner (beau) Jimmy Hogarth produced Warwick Avenue (a good thing!) and James Banbury, who co-wrote Sarah's songs, plays cello on it. England is a small island.

Note also that this is a Bernard Butler production - her voice would sound great with David McAlmont's! Here is a sample:


Note that is a particularly wailing part of the song. Some might find it shrill, but the rest of the song is not.

Watch her interviewed on Jools Holland now. Major dimples on that chick!

November 28, 2007

Review: Girls Aloud's Tangled Up

Though Tangled Up is truly the best Girls Aloud album, I've been stymied by it for about 10 days. What's my angle? How do I feel? What are the names of the damned songs? I cannot remember them. Listening to Kylie at the same time it occurred to me: When Kylie's bad, she flames out spectacularly. With Girls Aloud, they buff up a sleek metallic meh. And that's my issue with their new album. Only the first 7 songs are wicked cool, when every single one should devour you [actually it did swallow up Adem!].

Opener Call The Shots is the classic GA midtempo [reference point Singapore], while Sexy! No No No... is the "slightly insane club track" [see Biology, Something Kinda Oooh]. Fortunately these new songs are fierce, as is disco rampager Close To Love, about men with terrible hair. Really! It has a great, great line: "You'll never lay my animals here." Well... that's not really it, but "your manner made my animal kick" is still good, right?

I continue to fizz over the androidy part :50 seconds into Sexy! No No No... but the big druggie club track here is Girl Overboard, with that cheap Eurotrashy sound done by BWO and rarely understood by the high class likes of me. Black Jacks is stunning! That I don't know what the fuck it means is a Xenomania hallmark. Don't ask questions because "black jacks running down my back" sounds bitchin' hot and the shoutout [see 1:40] is brilliantly GoGo-esque.

There are a few sleeper hits. The continental Can't Speak French doesn't jump or zing, it just sways beautifully. I particularly like the "I've got to let you know" bits [see 1:56] and the Style Council-ish guitar just after. Control Of The Knife, which seems to have started before it begins (got that?), has a fantastic horn solo at 1:16 that lifts the song into the stratosphere, as do the vocodered vocals that follow.

For me, Tangled Up starts to go tearshaped with Fling. A firm favo(u)rite on PopJustice, it grates on me. Who knew they'd rhyme fling with bling? Tired. I could not tell you what comes after. The album becomes mired in a sea of greyness. What song is what? At the moment when the girls need their own White Diamond, they just keep hammering us with those mid-to-uptempo "Girls Aloud Songs" they favor on some recent shitty b-sides. Crocodile Tears wants to be a ballad, but isn't committed, and Damn is nothing more than a brazen rewrite of Real Life.

To be honest, Girls Aloud albums really are made on the Xenomania assembly line. On charitable days, I think Brian Higgins and Miranda Cooper are really the 6th and 7th members of this band. At some point though, Xenomania can only write so many decent songs, much less zingers these girls deserve.

I do have a bit of a relationship late in the record with What You Crying For, which is hyper and zippy, but has very smooth vocals placed high up in the mix. I love how they just toss off an au courant moment with the pronunciation of "umb-er-ella." That sums up what I like about Girls Aloud - they stumble in from a night of drinking hard liquor (or in the case of Kimba, watching Love Actually or something), and they just sing the words while checking their manicures. They don't seem to question it because they kind of live it, you know? No angst here. When the songs are worthy, it's magic.

Yes, I was on sugar when I wrote this review. Mwah!

November 27, 2007

Apple is trying to ruin my life

Did any of you download iTunes 7.whatever? Have you dealt with this gapless playback bull? I figured out how to disable it, but iTunes won't save that information, so I have to disable it every single time I enter iTunes! It's absurd and, from what I can tell, it has been going on for over a year.

Can I actually go back to an old version of iTunes?

Update: I let it run through the library and it appears it's a one-time thing, except for new stuff I add, I guess. How useless. Funny thing is, I only found one message board that said, "Just let it run and it will stop."

Introducing Clare & The Reasons

I've been concentrating on pure, frothy pop for weeks. Pop shakes my world, but doesn't always offer much for the soul. Here is some new music that works particularly well in the march to winter.

Clare & The Reasons are from New York City and they have a jazzy, night time feel. Their debut album is called The Movie and it's out now.

How I describe their sound:

Picture yourself on 5th Avenue, in... November dusk. In the rain. You are trying to hail a cab and then you just give up and walk. The rain is only spitting, so you don't bother with an umbrella. You walk by a dark club and hear this...

Clare & The Reasons Alphabet City expired

Buy The Movie via iTunes US or iTunes UK

Kylie X: Heart Beat Rock / Nu-Di-Ty

Nu-Di-Ty and Heart Beat Rock are great! And by "great" I mean absolute shit. So let's re-group and pretend they didn't happen. Just watch the video above, which really goes with yesterday's breathless (Mahoney!) post.

Thanks for the video tip Richard!

November 26, 2007

Kylie X: White Diamond

Kylie sings to XO, "Understand, I will be there for you." XO sheds a tear and whispers, "Yesss! I know!"

The live, "up" version of this Scissters collaboration didn't come close to touching its older sister, the real diamond, I Believe In You. Now this baby's taken off her makeup and brought it down nice and low. The ballad version of White Diamond is about as close to perfection as Kylie gives it.

Someone needs to write a James Bond film just to go with the song. This is the stuff that starry dreams are made of. Kylie can iconically warble this one in a single spotlight, wrapped in white fur, on her 60th birthday tour. You know she'll do it. Jake Shears, giver that he is, handed her that future moment.

Before I slip into something more comfortable, I must remind you this lyric has one of the great misheard lines of the year: "Like a bun in a radio..." - I still don't know what the real words are. Do I really need to?

Kylie X: No More Rain

The one where Kylie gives birth to the baby of Beautiful Stranger. I mean, everything about this song is a William Orbit pastiche: the 60's beat, the squizzy spaced out bits, the layered vocals, the sweetness to the sound. Music for a lunar hippie commune, this is the kind of pop that the mercenary 00's seem hellbent on killing: pure kissy kissy la la la.

One thing's for sure: Kylie does not do spoken vocals as well as Mrs. Ritchie. In fact, this spoken middle eight is so drippy they mixed it wayyyy low. You can barely hear her! And is that Kylie's secret teenage love child, Hutchence Minogue, doing the impossibly high rai-ai-ain bits? Now there's a rumor to spread on the interwebs...

Did you get X?

And check out this great picture from El Pais...

November 25, 2007

Mixtape: Live baby live

Michael Hutchence died on November 22, 1997. Ten years! What a waste of a great talent and potentially long term superstar. He would have been 47 years old now.

Yes, Goldfrapp leaked. 3 months early. I am laying low about it on the blog for now, but I've been carrying on via email about this brilliant new album, which swerves away from the discopop of Supernature. It seems based in the acoustic guitar, but is not folk. There are lots of electronic flourishes and strings and harmonies. It's a very emotional record too, in the same subtle way Tracey Thorn's was.

New Kate Bush song Lyra from The Golden Compass. I keep calling it Lycra. Oops.

Have you noticed that Mary J Blige's songs all sound the same? The good news is that Mary J Blige has a style all her own. The bad news is that Mary J. Blige's songs all sound the same. See iPod commercial evidence.

Does anyone know anything about Remi Nicole? Should I be paying attention? I doubt it. Likewise, is Palladium the next hot Brit band (albeit in a poppy way)? I like the songs, but am not sure about the vocals.

Darren Hayes has a 2008 calendar? Yep! AND he "got a facial" over the holiday. I gave one. joke!

Here is kd lang's new song I Dream Of Spring performed on Parkinson. Strangely, it's available in the UK via iTunes, but not in the US. ?? The song is a bit bluesier than her usual style, I think.

Here is Ewan McGregor on the same show. Part 1 and Part 2. The usual wide-eyed, toothy delight. Two points leap out at me: 1) He says he's found that the poorest people in the world are often the most generous and 2) that city life is becoming restrictive and less "free" with CCTV cameras watching you everywhere and signs that say "don't do this and don't do that." He feels a nanny state has been created where none of us are relying on our common sense anymore.

Okay, whippersnappers, it's 80's redux from here on out...

Billy Bragg has a new CD called Mr. Love & Justice out in the new year. His first in 6 years. Billy recently performed onstage with Kate Nash, which I think is a wonderful pairing.

Grace Jones has an album called Corporate Cannibal coming out in 2008! Brian Eno is somehow involved. She should pull a page from Marianne Faithfull's book and work with younger artists like Massive Attack and Goldfrapp. And more Trevor Horn please. She's not perfect, but she's perfect for me.

The Blow Monkeys just announced they've reformed. As Shakespeare said, I shit you not. The catch? You have to buy the CD before they record it.

Marc Almond is releasing two more extra tracks from his great Stardom Road sessions. They'll be on iTunes soon. They are covers of Johnny Ray's Cry and an orchestral version of Antony Hegerty's River of Sorrow. If you don't have Stardom Road, get Redeem Me at the very least. It is spine tingling.

Poor Dave Gahan's album has come and gone in a vaporous cloud. He did actually perform the only good song from it, Saw Something, on but other than that, I think there has been minimal promotion. I wonder if that is his choosing? The whole Hourglass project has been devoid of any energy.

Duran Duran's bonus track Cry Baby Cry is very good - like a long lost Notorious cut. Much better than at least 3 of the album cuts.

November 23, 2007

Kylie X: Cosmic

From the Coldplay-ish opening, "I wanted to write a song called Cosmic," it's clear this will not be the usual let's-fall-in-love Kylie Minogue track.
Tricky's review touched on the expectations for X and I admit my own concern that the album would not acknowledge what's happened in her life over the past 2 years. That she'd skip gaily over any pain. Multipled optimism/happiness can be tedious, especially in an artist of her longevity.

A pretty ballad with flourishing strings, Cosmic is anything but rough. It does plainly acknowledge her year with cancer without exploiting it, especially on the bridge which concludes, "I wanted to know what I was worth." This is all any fan needed, a relatively unadorned moment of reflection. Ironically, it's steely Madonna, not sweet Kylie, who has mastered the ballad over the years. In Cosmic, Kylie has found a worthy song which manages to be both grand and intimate.

November 22, 2007

Cover Story: New Rufus CD

Okay. I say this with love: This cover is a disaster. What is that look on his face? Either he's shitting his pants, coming down off a night of Special K or making googly eyes at his "proportioned" boyfriend. Whatever, it is not hot. N-O. The cover should've been a blowup of the orange poster.

Rufus told journalists in May that he expects this CD to be a big seller. I don't. I think the rebel prince lives inside his own head when it comes to record sales. I do know someone who will be buying this no matter what...

Ny album fra Bertine Zetlitz!

Bertine Zetlitz's In My Mind, 1997-2007 Best Of is streaming. Ashamed and Bubble Bursts are the 2 new songs. There will be a second CD with rarities, probably impossible for most of us to buy. I hope she puts it on 7 Digital in MP3 - it's out on "3 Desember."

Bonus CD tracklist: Fate (Hell Sessions), Islands In The Stream (feat. Thom Hell), Girl Like You (DataROCK mix by Yngve Sætre), Snow On A Hot Day (Erot. Remix), Getting Out (Bjørn Torske Remix), Fake Your Beauty (Pleasure Remix), Apples And Diamonds (Tee Prod. Remix), Ah Ah (Deeper Love Remix), Get What You Deserve (Bjorn Kaarud & John Moss Big Room Mix), Fake Your Beauty (Gaute Drevdal Remix), Girl Like You (Bertine vs Fred), Fake Your Beauty feat. Ken Ring (Sidelake Remix), Girl Like You (Lucky Music Remix)
The cover, which is good:

Bertine Zetlitz Ashamed WMA stream

Today is a big holiday in America - Thanksgiving. So have a good one if you are an American stuffing your face...

pic courtesy of NRK / Lise Åserud/Scanpix

November 20, 2007

Keep your head up!

I probably didn't mention Sweet Dreams when I spoke about the Annie Lennox show in late October. It's not my favorite song and I've heard it 200 too many times, so it was a testament to Annie's rousing brand of tenaciousness that the live performance excited me so much.

Now you can see it too: she just performed it in the UK on Children In Need. Although TV never captures the expansive sound of a live show, this is pretty much as it was, though I think the guitar may have been more prominent when I saw her. She's even got the outfit. I love the new backing vocal lines and the final 30 seconds were ecstatic live.

Thanks to the National Society for the Prevention of Joss Stone

November 19, 2007

Kylie X: The One

The One is spiritual disco. More contemporary than many of the songs on X, it's a mid-to-uptempo, but has a reflective quality signaled by the New Order-ish guitar that launches the song 14 seconds in.

Apparently mixed by The Freemasons, this doesn't really sound like their work, which bodes well for their future. The track is really simple: the chorus is "I'm the one. Love me, love me, love me." That's it! The first time you hear it, it may seem repetitive, but the song's ultimate effect is gossamer, even soaring.

At 4 minutes, The One is actually among the longest songs on Kylie X. The middle eight at 2:49 is really the emotional heart of the song, with it's Tommyisms: "Can you hear me, can you feel me?" There are some pretty background ad-libs at the end too - listen close - before the song literally dissolves into a mist, the same way Kylie does when you turn the music off.

Side note: The photo above is from 2007. She looks a lot younger with the darker roots. Just sayin'.

We don't have to go far

On Popjustice this weekend, some clueless doof pronounced Darren Hayes "humorless." In response, a quick-witted poster linked to these two videos, part 1 and 2 of a recent radio interview in Australia.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Bonus Stuff:
Chartrigger met Darren in LA last week and here is a
clip of him singing Casey [err, Darren, not D'luv!]. Pay attention for a brief "interpolation" of Fleetwood Mac's Dreams. Here also is an interview with Darren about his sexuality and music.

Now, Mister Hayes has spoken to a healthy number of bloggers and yet. not. me. O pop music gods and goddesses, when will that happen?

November 18, 2007

Mixtape: Let the funky music do the talking, talking

That's the Ewan MacGregor above, whose new Long Way Down biker/travel series is currently running on BBC2 in the UK. I love the first one (and own it on DVD) because Ewan is My Favorite Person On Earth.

I love the little colored iPods on Adem's new website, Adem With An E, which is kind of Liza With A Z, isn't it? With hope, Adem will not end up a drug-addled highkicker with hip problems and Michael Jackson as his maid of honor... Anyway, his first review is of his beloved Girls Aloud.

Speaking of, let's look at Sarah Girls Aloud's sexy nip. And what are "black jacks running down my back"?

The self-destruction of Amy Winehouse is really tragic. Once again, a celebrity who is not being looked after. Why is her label not pulling the plug on her tour? Is it their effort to suck every dime they can out of her? Why not protect the brand?

Apparently Roisin has Madonna's superhuman ability to recover quickly from an accident. It's all very Heroes. Check out this new pic from the great Roisin Murphy Blog.

kd lang, who I love, has a new album out in February called Watershed. Her first original songwriting since 2000! She produced the album herself...

I've been obsessed with Saturday Night Fever all week due to a lengthy Vanity Fair article about the making of it. I've never seen it, though I had the singles on those RSO 45's with the little red cow. The DVD was rereleased in September, but no stores sell it. Increasingly it is hard to buy music or movies in a store, have you noticed this? That record store culture is this close to dead. I shiver every time I walk by the empty Tower Records store. It's like remembering someone who died.

Alicia Keys album is wallpaper. The songs are not there and the arrangements are overdone. Too bad, her last one was a keeper.

Did you catch the Pet Shop Boys post by Worrapolava? I would not have known about that otherwise.

Will Richard review Kylie? It's logical. [Edit: he did!]

I wanted to write a song called Cosmic...

Melanie C actually looks great in these pics at Design Scene. I think the Spice Girls reunion is a bit of a bust. Hope they pull out the stops on the tour, because their new tunes are dismal. Do not let me speak about Geri's abs ever again.

My car repairs this week cost $1150! I don't have that kind of money, so it's back to the street corners for me. I thought I'd given up that life...

Not sure what happened to my Dannii Minogue post. Stay tuned for that and an introduction to the hot new girl of 2008. We have to start thinking ahead.

Finally, what I hope never to be: A reviewer who places him/herself far above the artist s/he is contemplating. I've done it a few times with Janet, but that's because she used to be brilliant and then sold her soul. Anyway, read this opening line of a recent review of Annie Lennox's new album: "Few thoughts are less worth contemplating than Annie Lennox as a woman with feelings and such." I assume this is supposed to be a polemic - that the reviewer doesn't really mean it, but he never really convinces me he doesn't. It would be logical and fair of me to link to the review so you could read it in context, but, you know, I really don't think this swaggering wanker needs my support. You can google it if you so desire.

November 17, 2007

Kylie X: All I See

All I See is one of the new album's good surprises. It's clear that Kylie's tried to be more current on both X and Body Language, with mixed results. Mixed in the sense that when she fails (on X's Nudity, for example), it's embarrassing.

All I See is about as Janet Jackson-y as one can get (hear the line about "going to our favorite spot" at :36). This also recalls Aaliyah at her most delicate. The verses have that ghettoish high speed vocalizing that will sound dated in ten years, but the chorus has layers of treated vocals that take it to the pretty spot.

As for the lyrics, do I believe Kylie picks up lovers in clubs slash discos and carries on about her body, etc? Errr, no. The song is so soft, though, that you absorb the scenario on repeated listens. Suspension of disbelief? Keep an eye out for me in the corner of da club, quietly sipping on a drink, watching you looking hot.

Kylie X: Wow

Tis the season of song titles like Amazing and Wow. The usual trajectory is disappointment. Neither Madonna nor Seal's Amazings are. Happily Kylie Minogue's Wow - surely a forthcoming single? - is worthy of its title. Evrey longstanding artist needs a song like this, one that reminds you of their very best work. It encapsulates all that is "right and good and joyful" about the much-loved Kylie.

If you follow the blog/board commentary, you'll know that Wow blends the best elements of Love At First Sight and old "SAW" Kylie. 3 very tight minutes of pure pop.

The lovely details: The opening keyboard, the 90's chunkiness of the arrangement, the moments that "zap" (hear :07 - :10), the way the song hinges on layers of vocals (yeahyeahyeah), the sweet high-end parts (the way you walk...) and of course, the very high-def effect of the Wowwowwowwow. The middle eight is, thank God, a nice bit of poperatic trilling, just before the song wraps up with that underwater effect straight out of Ibiza, where it was written with Greg Kurstin.

A Kylie classic.

For Kylie X, I will be reviewing certain songs in individual posts, as I did with Madonna and Goldfrapp. You can read them all with the KylieX tag.

November 16, 2007

XOvision: Looks like an early Christmas

Ask and ye shall receive, yadda yadda...

Sugababes Change:

Beautiful song, but clearly an art school student directed this on peyote. Wot are these looks!? One is a bird (pun!), another a flower arrangement, and then Heidi looks like she has a horrible skin disease eating her neck and face. Not to mention the chorus with her in blackface. Or, you know, black glittery face. Then it all goes Nymph Christmassy. Geddit? Seasons change, etc etc. A watch-it-only-once clusterfuck of imagery and styles.

Gwen Stefani Early Winter:

As if to say, "I'm still here dudes!", Bitchin' Gwen throws a curveball by releasing a new video from her ancient and forgotten Sweet Escape record. This one for her pretty Keane song, which should have come out last Christmas. Was this shot in Budapeshhht? It's nice enough, but it's all been done hasn't it? Couture, flailing, falling, twirling, angst, all in slo-mo. Just when you think she's ditched the Marilyn look for what Krissy calls the smokey eye, voila, there is the red lippy all over again. Second video this week (see above) with transparent use of snow - this time indoors - screaming "Make me a Christmas #1!"

November 14, 2007

Hurry up, I just can't wait

Could this week in music be any more tedious? A crap album from Alicia Keys, an album from Seal with weak songs all dressed up. A decent album from Duran Duran, but not electrifying by any means. No Kylie or GA leaks. No new videos to get excited about. It's all gone wintry grey.

Did any of you have the iced gingerbread cookie - the mitten - at Starbucks? Well I did because I gravitate toward anything iced ("He liked icing." will be my epitaph). My verdict? It is very weird. The icing is more like plastic fondant with an unidentified flavor. Somethng kind of eww.

But there is Darren Hayes gossiping that he saw Mark "Spike" Stent mixing Madonna's new album in London. Better be good, Lady! All of that leads me to an old video that makes me smile. How "ye olde quaint" is the opening bit where she puts the peace necklaces on her (2!) dancers?

Madonna Over And Over (Virgin Tour 1985):

Madonna Over And Over (live MP3)

Patty Wolf: The slippery slope

New Patrick Wolf press photos...

Really, Patrique is just moments away from this...

Jay Jay Johanson

or this, a little more rock'n'roll...

Lord God King Bowie

It's very sad. Eventually, uncontrolled makeup fetishes end up here:

Peter Gabriel in Genesis

An intervention must happen! Confiscate his makeup kit.

November 12, 2007

Review: Duran's Red Carpet Massacre

In the summer of 2000, I was walking down King’s Road in London with my cousin, British Bridget, when there was a sudden fracas ahead of us: a tall man in a fake fur coat was running down the sidewalk, screaming and leaping, dragging with him a very skinny, overly tanned woman. It was seeing her – Yasmin - that made me realize this hyper banshee was actually LeBon, Simon Le Bon. I gripped Bridget’s arm, hissed Ssssssimon! and dragged her several blocks, following our man. I mean, he didn’t want privacy, did he? The bastard escaped and now he’s back, seeking attention for his new album, the well-titled Red Carpet Massacre.

Duran Duran’s last album Astronaut was one of those half ‘n’half affairs I always write about: 5 really solid additions to their catalog and a lot of filler. Whatever. It was nice to have them back and sounding Duranish. In fact, I shed a tear, just like Simon did, at the end of their live DVD. After all, Duran Duran was really the start of my interest in finding the newest thing. There are an inordinate number of Duran stories among my friends and I.

Now comes the long-awaited new album, recorded in a fit of creativity after they trashed Astronaut’s intended follow-up, a dour rock album called Reportage. Duran has the dubious distinction of having a lot to lose, in terms of embarrassment, yet they’re unlikely to score a big hit. On Red Carpet, they don’t come anywhere near shame.

Everybody knows about Timbaland’s involvement on this album and if you read this blog, you probably know that I am not a fan of Timba. Color me taken aback, then, that his tracks are the best on here, by far. Nite Runner and Skin Divers both turned me off the first time I heard them and now they’re locked in, a great modernization of the band’s sound with a nod to the Notorious days. Skin Divers survives its “b chorus” spoken by Timbaland, and is worthy just for Simon’s use / pronunciation of the phrase hoi polloi.

The highly rhythmic opener, The Valley, sounds the most like the Duran of Rio to me, especially the strong instrumental break at 2:30 that seems to have fleeting elements of their whole catalog crammed into 90 seconds. Tempted is a crunchy disco number with the great line “Give thanks to London” (I do!). The final minute verges on something Roisin could have recorded for her new album. Likewise, the third Timberland track, Zoom In, is quite catchy, if not terribly compelling, with it’s zooming in and zooming out chorus. Car music.

I am less impressed by Falling Down, the Justine Timberlake contribution. A chugging, slightly bluesy midtempo, it’s no Ordinary World, as it’s been endlessly touted in the press. The version here is 6 minutes long and very crisp – a good song for autumn. But it’s a shitty choice for first single and the video captures the problem Duran faces: they are too old to attract 15 year old girls without coming off creepy and yet they alienate their fans on the cusp of 40 by cavorting with emaciated models in the video.

Box Full Of Honey, which I presumed to be some raunchy sex number before I heard it – see where my mind lays? – is a folky, organic ballad that follows Falling Down. It’s not as good as their best hidden ballads (Michael You’ve Got A lot To Answer For, Serious, etc), but it’s a nice respite on a very produced album.

Mistakes have been made. The title track is a shrill example of an artist “dressing too young” - Simon shrieks like an Avril wannabe on the chorus. The album’s final third is weighed down by leaden midtempos like She’s Too Much and Dirty Great Monster that go nowhere. Fortunately, the album closes on a higher note, Last Man Standing, which is notable for some nice Nick Rhodes synths and a strong wailing vocal from Simon.

There’s only so long this can go on. I mean, Roger Taylor is morphing into Ron Wood! I finally had to pitch my old Latin textbook, the cover of which my friend Joanna had defaced with I love John Taylor. I love John Taylor. For now though I’ll take what I can get, mixing the old with the new, because the music is what counts.

Speaking of the old, check out this baby picture:

Will be eager to see what my Duranie fannie friends think this album. That means you, Old Hooker. and Krissy, who is not an old hooker... yet!

November 11, 2007

She looks like Jordan!

Kylie Wow

She looks better here...

Just cuz you're raising the bets

If you are a Girls Aloud fan, you should take some time to read today's well-done new profile in The Observer. I had not heard that Julie Burchill calls them pantyliner punk!

Their appearance on Jonathan Ross last week is mentioned and you can watch it here:
Part 1 /Part 2. I could listen to these girls talk all day. Jonathan keeps ripping on Nadine's accent - she's so Irish that she sounds like she's from the Deep South in the US.

The pic above is from a product launch/performance mentioned in the piece.

Old Spice Holiday

A Spice Girls commercial for Tesco? WOT? I have to admit, it's amusing. The Posh and Baby parts are particularly good. I wonder when Mrs. Beckham was last in a Tesco, hmmm?

November 10, 2007

Cover Story: No No No!

In the category of wasted album art, we have this unforgiveable mistake from Girls Aloud:

Then we have the brilliant Fan Edition of the album. Gahhhh! No clue how to buy this online...

Then we have the new single cover. Tied-up kitty cats, the usual Aloud:

If you're wanton enough, you can play 30 seconds samples of the new album. Have at it, darklings... I bet Franz Ferdinand are creaming their skinny pants. Early picks? Girl Overboard, Can't Speak French, Black Jack, Control Of The Knife, What You Crying For... the whole album sounds fizzy. Though the last two samples sound like The Chipmunks?

November 9, 2007

Goldfrapp: Clowns and wigwams?

And owls! Here is Goldfrapp's official Seventh Tree tracklist:

1. Clowns 2. Little Birds 3. Happiness 4. Road To Somewhere 5. Eat Yourself 6. Some People 7. A&E 8. Cologne Cerrone Houdini 9. Caravan Girl 10. Monster Love

The single is A&E (as in Accident and Emergency) and it's out on February 12. If you're wondering what I thought of their last album, check out this Supernature thread.

Sources here and here.

November 8, 2007

XOvision: Koop

Koop's luscious new video Koop Island Blues. Can it be Parisian noir with so many colors? Koop is actually a duo of two Swedish men, but the vocalist for this particular song is Ane Brun.

You might want a cigarette and some absinthe while you watch this.

November 7, 2007


Perhaps sensing the polarized response to her new single, Kylie Minogue is bringing out the big guns for her forthcoming album launch: wigs! The Kylie Show will feature the impossible princess in a whole bunch of guises, including the two above. It's very Cher of her, ce n'est pas?

There was some good and bad news in the Kyliesphere today. First, new b-side I Don't Know What It Is is sadly not a Rufus Wainwright cover (joke!), but it is a rotten egg, tedious at best. The good news is that the iTunes bonus tracks will be a "much anticipated" studio version of White Diamond and a new thing called Magnetic Electric.

If you'd like to hear a Kylie X clip preview (all songs) clicky here dear.

I got these pics from Kylie Brasil.

That's Armistead, not Amistad

You can read the 2/3 of my interview with author Armistead Maupin in the online version of Instinct. The full version, along with a picture de moi (you've seen it before - it's not a Testino shot), is now on American newsstands. I know Borders sells it in many markets.

Next up? A Vanity Fair story on Bill Clinton. ...well, not really.

November 6, 2007

We look at life as a free ride

Okay. I'm dusting myself off, tightening my booty and joining the Lorraine parade. That's the Norwegian indie pop group's new logo above (bye bye trees) - reminiscent of Travis' font isn't it? Here are are some actual details regarding the grand return:

Their new single is a redone Saved with a b-side called The Mess That We Are, plus remixes of Saved by Dave Armstrong & Redroche and MHC. No specific release date yet.

It comes from an album due out in early 2008. There is a free download of Beautiful Thing (MHC Remix) on the myspace player (see little download link below title).

Lorraine are playing in London soon and everyone needs to go since I cannot: They'll be at Water Rats on Tuesday, November 27 (doors at 7) - it's 18 and over. Tickets are £6.00.

Before I close, did anyone catch the obscure reference in this post to a famous late-80's Scottish group? Also. be sure to see what I've said about Lorraine in the past by clicking on the label below.

Thanks muchly to Karen for doing all the work to keep people updated, including creating a Lorraine Facebook group.

November 5, 2007

Heather Mills did this to me

Oooaiyyyeeee! Heather Mills needs to tell America that she made me sick. It is entirely her fault and she needs to protect me by telling the people the truth. I've had some messed up flu that's given me an endless fever since Thursday. Does that make me all kinds of hot?! Couple it with a seriously ragged throat and I assumed it was strep. "Wrong, you stupid whore!" said the doctor. I'm not better yet, but the nasty fever has gone down.

Being stuck in my [now tedious] apartment at a lovely time of year is not pleasing to me. I've not even had a chance to see if Paul's red Starbucks cups have come to North America yet. That said, there have been a few things musical and non to ponder...

First, Roisin Murphy is back on tour! She only had one week off after smashing her lovely eye socket. And I whine about a 102 degree fever.

Lorraine is back. Color me excited when there is a record release date.

While feverish I became obsessed with Kim Woodburn, the blond cleaning matron who calls everyone "my love" on How Clean Is Your House? She kills me. I love it when she does something like wow some grotty old biker by scrubbing away his grout with mayonnaise - she always says something like "I'm not just a pretty face, my love." She's very imposing with that Madonna Blonde Ambition hairdo and bullet bra, but she's also softspoken - something I admire because I am so not softspoken. If you don't know who she is, watch the youtube clip that made me cry!

Someone sent me this streaming link for Early Bird, the duet between Erasure and Cyndi Lauper. Honestly? It sounds like a bunch of old people warbling on top of a Casio (though I quite like the synth strings at 1:47!).

Sophie Ellis Bextor's double CD Hits record (with two new songs, one being the Roisin/Calvin castoff) is now due in March. In her new website interview, she disses George Michael for not bothering to meet her at all when she supported him on his tour. Don't feel bad, La Bex, George was probably in a pot haze, getting a gum job from a lorry driver who'd been loitering behind the arena.

Am loving Mrs. Pritchard on Masterpiece Theatre. So much so that I am rewatching the House Of Cards trilogy. Soon HBO will have a movie called The Deal, done by the makers of The Queen, about the early friendship between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Guess who is playing Tony? Michael Sheen - again! He did it in The Queen and now he'll be playing a much younger Blair.

Tracey Thorn has been in Berlin writing new songs with her collaborator Ewan Pearson! This is very good news. She said on her blog, "I am currently up to my ears in a more acoustic mood than I have been in for, oh probably around 25 years."

Not loving that Spice Girls music. That's the best they could come up with? Have the music songwriters gone on strike too? (ooh, wouldn't that be a drama?)

Big post on Dannniiii Minogue, of all people, coming soonish.

Finally, about that creature on the top of this post. This is the time of year when Paulie Z starts figuring out his Christmas lists and I just know that he will love the Madame Alexander Wizard Of Oz Munchkin Solider Doll, a bargain at only $78. Or is the Lollipop Kid better?

November 4, 2007

Smiley Kylie?

We're getting closer to the new Kylie CD, so here's an update. First, if you have not heard the clips, Arjan found them at 7Digital. Go and play them.

Here are some geeky fan comments I made in an email:
Aside from the songs we know, I think the ones that sound best are Speakerphone (well, an odd one that could be Britney), The One of course, maybe No More Rain, Wow (like early Kylie), and maybe Cosmic.

The negatives: All I See sounds ghetto-ish, but may be okay. Still hate the wooh on Sensititized. Heart Beat Rock sounds like a castoff from Body Language - how I hate Calvin Harris! Nudity is an outright disaster. Very Blacklight.

I am not sure how the reviews will be. One review (Q) already said that at the moment she should be notching it up, she's not. Should be a decent pop CD, but I'd tend to agree that it's no big leap for Kylie. Maybe once I hear the real thing, I will change my mind. Also looks like extra tracks will come out from bsides and Japanese versions, so maybe I can do an Xolondon edit? I did that with Body Language!

The photo above, by William Baker, is a scan from the new Q with the controversial cover. Full scans of the article (and the probably fair Q review) can be found at the exhaustively archival Kylie Brasil. At one point in the interview, Kylie says, "I had to fight to get that on the album, emails flying back and forth," which makes me wonder what kind of control she has 20 years in, having sold millions of records.

I predict X's classics will be Wow, Stars and The One. I won't be able to describe the latter after reading Q's comment that it's "a frictionless techno-pop starship dusted with traces of Blondie and the Pet Shop Boys." Brillo.

November 3, 2007

Review: Sara Bareilles's Little Voice

Sara, imitating her album cover

If loneliness, unrequited love and other matters of the heart were meant to be easy, most art would not exist. Songwriters would sing about... what? Artists like Stevie Nicks have long written about how hard it is to be a travelin' woman of rock and roll. When Sara Bareilles sings "It’s clear this conversation ain’t doing a thing / Cause these boys only listen to me when I sing / And I don’t feel like singing tonight" on the melancholy City, she harkens back to several artist "forebears." In 1992, Shawn Colvin described the double edge of songwriting on Monopoly: "I hate that shit / When people say ‘Well, you know, you got a song out of it.” A few years later Sarah McLachlan wrote about being alone on the road, drunk in a hotel room in Angel.

Sara’s Little Voice is the most accomplished debut album of 2007. She’s arrived on the music scene with no eggshell in her hair. Sometimes there is some divine industry power that anoints someone a Star immediately, as happened with Corinne Bailey Rae and Mika recently. Both produced worthy, if not perfect, debut albums and both will suffer a backlash for their fame. Neither is as good or bad as their rep.

The slow build-up for Bareilles (bar-ell-iss) over the last 6 months has been one of proper, old school artist development. iTunes made her single, Love Song, the free Download Of The Week this summer and her PR group pursued bloggers as well as regular media. The same tune - get it on my blog - was a Starbucks' Free Song Of The Day this week. Strangely, Sony did not produce a proper video for Love Song, which also finally happened last week (see it here). She’s adorable and needs to be seen and heard. Thus I've just finished a review I started on July 30...

I've said it before, but I think that Sara has more 70's Billy Joel in her style than any other reference I can come up with. There's something about the witty way Love Song - which is not a love song - rolls along to it's kiss-off conclusion: “I’ll walk the seven seas / When I believe that there is a reason / To write you a love song.”

Little Voice
is shockingly consistent. It’s weird to hear an album in this age that can be played from start to finish. Many of the songs, based around her piano, along with traditional percussion and bass, are jaunty singalong tracks. Love On The Rocks has a sort of syncopated beat and a fucked up love theme. You know, the couple that wears you out because they cannot break up: “My friends said I look better without you.” The chorus is gorgeous and breezy, the lyric caustic.

One Sweet Love is a Grey’s Anatomy episode closer if there ever was one. A midtempo, the song’s theme is classic: what if you’ve already had your chance for love? “The time that I’ve taken, I pray is not wasted.”

Sara has a particular gift for the epic ballad. Between The Lines is a massive, emotional song about a woman in denial over her collapsing (or already dead) relationship. The couple has clearly always had a communication problem, which reaches a fever pitch on the bridge:

I tell myself all the words he surely meant to say
I'll talk until the conversation doesn't stay on
Wait for me I’m almost ready
When he meant let go

Album closer Gravity is a classic piano ballad with one of the most impressive vocal performances in any song this year. The note Sara hits at 2:53 makes me want to run around screaming and crying like a maniac. Not that I’m overly emotional or anything like that (!) … it’s just that she manages to elicit as much emotion from the listener as she is giving, without being maudlin or showy. It’s a beautiful song.

I drove around town this summer with Little Voice playing, singing along, even when my voice couldn’t hit the notes. One night I was stopped at a light, wailing away with the car window open, when I realized some dude was staring at me as he crossed the street. It was decidedly not an "oh, the talent!" kind of stare. Whatever dude, Little Voice makes me happy.

Little Voice is only 7.99 on iTunes US
. Folks outside the US will need to import the disc. Note that my mention of Colvin and McLachlan is intentional - if you like those artists, you will like Sara Bareilles.

November 1, 2007

Mary on Mary

Love the new album cover. It's very iconic, which is what diva album art should be: a specific image that sticks in the mind and tells you something about The Woman at this point in her glamorous, tortured life. This time she giving regal. Still don't love that logo, but font whores can't have everything.

Ya gotta love Mary J. Blige. Every. single. damned. album. is about The Real Mary. How she's finally being honest and accepting herself. Anyhoo, check out this interview from MTV in which Mary incomprehensibly discusses herself and the concept for her album.

I'm just a mess like every other person that's a mess out there. And it's going to take probably a lifetime to get to a point in my life where I'm like, 'Oh, I'm perfect.' I don't think that will ever happen. So as long as I'm a human being and I'm not perfect, I'm able to say I'm having some growing pains. Because in order to sustain where you are once you made such a breakthrough that everyone is looking at you, now everyone is like, 'Ooh, is she gonna make a mistake?' Yes, I'm going to make a mistake. Yes, I'm still gonna do things. And that's what Growing Pains is about, it's about finally not whining about the pain, Mary J. Blige, and accepting the pain that comes with growing.

Be sure to check out her poppin' fresh new video Just Fine. It is whack. It's kind of cute to see her dancing, but there's something uber geeky about it too. Check out what else I've said about Mary here.