August 31, 2008

Review: Uh Huh Her's Common Reaction

Awhile back, I mentioned loving Uh Huh Her's killer debut single Not A Love Song - and what a travesty it was that there was no video. Finally, they've done a clip. AND IT CONTAINS A UNICORN. How hot is that?

Is it just me or does the duo evoke Shakespears Sister in that video?

Uh Huh Her, named after a PJ Harvey record, is Leisha Hailey (of The Murmurs and The L Word) and Camila Grey (she's the lead singer). They rock. The debut album is called Common Reaction and it's a solid effort. To call it LA pop sounds vaguely demeaning, but that's the sound: guitars and synths, with high multi-tracked vocals. Not A Love Song, above, is totally slick - a driving song and a true summer radio "earworm."

Wait Another Day sounds a bit like Sugagbabes' Denial, which is a good thing, though it might be even better with the BPMs amped up on a dance mix. Explode, one my favorites, verges on electropop. It's sleek and sexy, but with a line like "So won't you pay / If you wanna go down," is it about hookers? (Great, in LA hookers are as hot as unicorns!) Say So has a beat ripped out of 1983 Cali new wave, with a vocal that reminds me of Martha Wainwright.

The ballads are less successful, but the heart of the record is its more propulsive arrangements. In the age of too many producers and "cowrites" on pop records, I appreciate how Common Reaction manages to have a cohesive sound, yet doesn't get too repetitive. There really isn't a duff track here. Sample a little, why don't you?

Uh Huh Her Explode stream
Uh Huh Her Not A Love Song stream
Uh Huh Her Say So stream

August 28, 2008

The start of something

I am so over summer. It's just not who I am, or think I am. I like moving all around the city, eating outside, wearing shorts, and, this year, taking care of flowers. But I can’t run fast enough from summer now.

When I left work, there was some sort of fire burning and it smelled like fall, randomly, in an alley in Dupont. At lunch, lovely Mary and I talked about how the cool rainy day – the first rain in like 8 weeks - seemed like the beginning of the change in seasons. In England, it starts much sooner. We were wishing for days when you want to eat something warm. Chili, soup, hot tea again.

Tonight I took a walk and it's very cool outside. Certain tree leaves have started to fall on Capitol Hill, though we're at least six weeks from the leaves really changing. At night, this neighborhood is astonishing, especially when I walk by these old houses and look in the windows. I love that. Cap Hill has streetlights that are pleasingly orange, not harsh, and tonight there was enough humidity that you could smell the plants, especially lavender.

I also smelled English Boxwood, which is probably my favorite scent. It is the smell of Virginia. It takes years to grow, so when I see a lot of it, I assume it is well older than me, and maybe even my parents.

Scott Simons has a lovely new song called Start Of Something that I played on my iPod tonight. Fall should really be the end of something, yes? But it isn’t – it’s the beginning of everything, at least in my mind’s calendar.

So when I go by these houses, I say, “How did I end up here?” I just think this whole year had to happen. I had to change. None of that goes into this blog. Weird. So much happens that never ends up here. But I hate it when people always pretend everything is Just. So. Great.

As I type this, there is a woman on TV (at the Democratic Convention) who reminds me of my aunt who was so great to me when I was a kid. She died two years ago at this very time. Parkinson's was horrible to her. Horrible. And I try to keep that fact from some friends who have family with Parkinson’s. But she did not take care of herself – she cared about everyone else. When she died, I kept playing Sophia by Nerina Pallot over and over. Not that it’s appropriate, but the mood was right. And my aunt’s name was on a loop in my head for days. Lynne. Lynne. Lynne. Has that ever happened to you?

Tonight I also played the beautiful Kate Nash b-side called Don't You Want to Share The Guilt? It has a wonderful line: "I say 'Have you been crying?' and you say 'Shut up,' so we sit in the garden and touch grass with our hands." I love that. Kate Nash is a great writer who clearly spends a lot of time shutting up and watching. I think she's an only child, like me. Only childen recognize each other.

I have a memory of fall in Georgia. I used to wear overalls every Friday. And I remember being on this big hill at a battlefield in Marietta. Lots of leaves. And some kids running down the hill, picking up speed and being so pleased by that. Why these memories? What is the pattern the brain takes to bring this stuff back up? There must be a trigger.

I’ve just gone back to Justin Currie’s album – another very quiet record. He’s Scottish, so by "quiet" I mean melancholy! This week it’s Still In Love.

In the fall, I can play the music that is really another version me. This isn't disco music - it's quieter. Like the beautiful instrumental guitar ballad called El Noi de la Maire by Jean Felix Lallane, which is on iTunes. It sounds like a Christmas song.

When you get older, some things get a little harder, I think. Some people go back to church, which I have considered, but really just because the church here looks like it was dropped in from an English village (and there is a parking sign that says, “Thou shalt not park here”). But, also, I am becoming more aware of who I love most. This whole year has been like that. So then I think that maybe, as I get older, I will go back to those people. Is that unrealistic? Things change, yes, but I hope you know what I mean.

That picture is actually from Israel, taken by a man name Assaf.

You've mistaken choreography for love

French & Saunders (boppalooeyoooh) do Winehouse & Spears. There are layers of jokes in here. It goes deep!

If you liked that, check out their take on The Two Madonnas. Sorry it's been a video kind of weak week here. I wrote a lot for the blog last week and needed to cool off.

Thank you Jim!

August 27, 2008

Pillars of salt and pillars of sand

Coldplay has done the first video cover that I can remember. After admiring Depeche Mode's Enjoy The Silence (like we all do), the band decided to their own version set to their new song. Anton Corbijn directed both. What do you think?

Coldplay Viva La Vida:

Depeche Mode Enjoy The Silence:

August 24, 2008

Mixtape: Read the sign

That's my new mantra and a new poster I just got for my house. I need to frame it - it's British, of course. If you want one, I got mine at reformschoolrules.

I agree with D'luv that Keane's new Lovers Are Losing single is d'luxe. This time it references 70's Bowie with a Heroes synth. I love the double-tracked vocals: Tom is back to those luscious romantic tones that were so prominent on the debut album. God Save The Keane.

Roisin news: Movie Star has a suitcase full of remixes coming. Full deets from the Hopeless Optimist. I am sad to report that I don't like what I've heard of her Slave To Love cover, but I'll hold final judgment.

Imogen Heap has postponed her new album until next year. She says her deadlines were too stressful. BUT she has a new song with Nitin Sawhney out on October 13. The album is cleverly called London Undersound.

Missing in action: Deepest Blue had a great single, Miracle, out last May and then... nothing. And what happened to the new West End Girls CD?

The Sugababes song still does not thrill me, but it sounds better in high quality. It's not your average radio fodder, I'll give them that.

EMI seems to be in freefall. As much as everyone hates Guy Hands, this is not good news for music fans. Captain's release date has come and gone. The band has stopped updating their site, so one assumes vair vair bad news. Label-mate Lily Allen recently made a comment on her blog that may she some light: "The record industry is a very political place at the moment and I am on EMI records , lots of people have been fired or have taken redundancy recently as the company was taken over by a private equity firm called Terra Firma . Many of these people were people assigned to my projects and now i don't quite know whats going on."

Kate Havnevik is recording her next album with Guy Sigsworth in Krakow (?!) right now.

Discotrax 80 has the original 12" version of Bronski Beat's landmark song Smalltown Boy.

A week ago last Friday, I had a very nice time talking music, etc, with El Marveloso, who is As His Name.

Yes, I too love Marit Larsen's brilliantly titled new song If A Song Could Get Me You. The bridge on this song (I guess it counts as the bridge?) is stunning, from like 1:23 to 2:08 ish. A PJ Forum person pointed out that she sounds like Dolly Parton and it's true.

Nineties: Following up on my Sarah McLachlan comments a few weeks back, I noticed this gem of a sentence in her recent PR: "U Want Me 2 will impact your radio waves and digital retailers instantly. Be the first to own this piece of the abiding Sarah McLachlan legacy on August 12th by purchasing U Want Me 2..." Abiding? Oy. Truth is, I like Sarah's music.

Eighties: Boy George's next single is indeed the Barack Obama-inspired Yes We Can and it's lovely. Listen to a clip now via More on George this week.

August 23, 2008

You're only triggering your senses

Why aren't I in Cardiff? Shee-it. My sources for spoilers are Madonna Connexion and Absolument Madonna. Fuck it, I just bought an Afghani runner (rug) for less than it would have cost me to attend this tour.
As for the tourbook, it looks hot/haute, but is Courtney Love a new inspiration?

Ne-Yangel and The Reckless Driving Dreams

After producing the exhilirating Closer, Ne-Yo disappoints with his new single Miss Independent - it's typical r'n'b radio fodder, but his upcoming album has some potential gems, including the one above. So You Can Cry, which leaked in early summer, sounds like a companion to Solange Knowles' new tunes... it's a juicy peach. The rhyming of pity party and calamari is particularly droll, if a bit overdone. With eyebrows raised, do note the product placement for Vaseline on Ne-Yo's stage.

On a related note, Maxwell is touring this fall, so it looks as if there's finally some action there. Mark my words, unless he deviates a great deal from his sound, that record will be huge. Lover boy's absence has only intensified his reputation.

August 22, 2008

Tiger beat

Maybe Gavin should have named the baby Zuma Marilyn Rossdale? Just sayin'...

August 21, 2008

Ten (+1) Musical Thoughts

Sonny Ellis-Bextor-Jones is like 4 and way cooler than me. That's him with Daddy and Uncle Dan. Anyway, some trainspotting:

The Script CD is fantastic in an easily listenable, singalong way. It's slick as an oil spill and essentially Maroon 5 without that quintet's wearisome spectre of pussy-on-demand. Standout tracks for me are Before The Worst, Talk You Down, and Breakeven. This album is worth your shillings.

New Order is about to go down Remaster Road. Here is some info on the bonus discs. My fave New Order songs are not deep cuts, but quite secular: Shellshock, Regret, Ruined In A Day and Krafty.

I am still not getting the love for Lady Gaga. It's something to do with the level of (crass) urban-ness in it and her overtly self-aware presentation. She seems to me like someone who wants to be a big star. I know mine is not a popular opinion, but word is that she's a bitty, so who cares. I dig real people, not Star People.

The love for Sugababes new track Girls (listen) also baffles me. Is it all that? I think not. Having said this, I've rediscovered Undignified from album 5 (listen).

I think Van She's song Changes (video) is similar in style to the group Tigercity, who produced the sublime Powerstripe earlier this year.

Good Gravy Marie! Solange's album is a shocker. My favorite song now is Cosmic Journey (hear it), which is the type of thing Hard Mandy should have done this year. I'll try to review the whole Hadleyangel Blablabla soon. One issue: on some songs Lil Sis tends toward a shrillness I cannot tolerate. You can hear it on I Decided (watch it), but Sandcastle Disco (watch it) is superb.

The newest free Pretenders song, Last Ride, is better than the others (most are dire), but oh howthemightyfall. It's like Chrissie is trying to prove she is not old - and she is old. That does not have to matter. Remember the days of Hymn To Her and thoughtful production? This new CD was recorded in two weeks and it shows.

I am recently obsessed with two "oldie" songs by toothy 80's gamine Pat Benatar. Two grandiose ballads: Run Between The Raindrops and Le Bel Age. Both from her 1986 CD Seven The Hard Way. A title I did not get when I was 15. I love these songs... come back to the five and dime, Patty B, Patty B.

Do a youtube search for the new Oasis single Shock Of The Lightning (video) and it will say "Did you mean: oasis shop of the lightning?" This is not a proper song, people, it's a bloody loop. Weak weak weak, especially given the brilliance of new album track Falling Down (listen), which is exactly the type of lush, rhythmic beauty this group should be creating. The fact that the good song is sung by Noel is not lost on me. He's a far more expressive singer at this point. He needs to ditch Our Kid.

In the BritPop world, I sampled a new act called Theoretical Girl and found her wanton wanting. Songs not fully formed. The School, however, is better and closer to the Lucky Soul slash Camera Obscura vein. Sounds like a great debut will soon hit us. Their new single is the sweet Let It Slip (video).

Finally, the new Glen Campbell album (72, with some well done plastic surgery!) has a faithful cover of Sing by Travis. Please note that everyone on Earth should be forced to own Glen's gorgeous song Hey Little One. My GOD that song is epic. His new covers of U2's All I Want Is You and Green Day's Good Riddance are also lovely. Explore the album's microsite.

One last pic of Wee Sonny with MamalaBex. Have you heard he is the new singer for Radiohead?

Thanx La Doss!

August 20, 2008

Review: George Michael, Live in Philly and DC, July '08

George Michael keeps retiring. It's such a cliche. He retires from live performance this weekend in London with The Final at Wembley. Then he's got a final Final lined up for Denmark next week. And then he'll tour the US again in a few years.

A few weeks ago I went to see Jorge's show here in DC. Countpopula (yes, his real name) attended the Philly date. Now, the Count and I go way back: I used to sing/dance and he used to stand next to me and look cute. But now I am finally letting him speak. For. One. Last. Time.

Countpopula: All I can say is, what a cathartic experience. Here I am finally getting to see somebody who I have been listening to for 26 years, and it was great. It may seem silly, but I cannot remember when I have gotten so emotional with the tears at any other show, including the reunion of the 5 original Duran members.

XO: I went to his Cover To Cover tour on Halloween in 1991. That arena was torn down, but GM - and you and I - are still standing! The surprise for me is that it took me back to the 90’s more than the 80’s. Although he has been a part of pop music since the early 80’s, I most associate him with college, when his two best albums came out. You saw him in Philadelphia right?

Right. The venue was full except for the top balcony, all empty.

Yes! We had nosebleed seats and they “relocated” us, so were only about 5 rows from the floor. Brilliant. Our section was filled with cheap-seat people. Les miserables who’d been brought down. It was an odd crowd.

George's voice was beautiful, and some of his performances were stunning. Praying for Time (SO much better than when on American Idol), Kissing a Fool, Father Figure and One More Try were particular highlights in the ballad category.

I don’t think he did Praying For Time in DC? Maybe I am forgetting it. He did a few things I was “meh” about.

Roxanne wasn't much, but he sang the shit out of it, as was Feeling Good, which you and I both seem to loathe, but it did have a sexy Dita von Teese video to accompany it.

He said that was for all the husbands who’d been dragged to the show. There was a young boy near us and I was like, “Well, I hope he enjoyed Dita’s titties…”

I was glad to hear he hasn't ditched all the Wham stuff, although a little Wake Me Up, Freedom 83 or Edge of Heaven would have been nice. Still, hearing things like I'm Your Man, Everything She Wants, Faith, Too Funky, Fastlove, Careless Whisper, and Freedom 90 for the first time were SO nostalgic, and in a good way.

I wonder if Andrew Ridgeley will show up at the final shows at Wembley? It would be nice. If it does not happen then, I don‘t think it ever will. I suppose Andrew is wondering what he would do on stage? I think all he has to do is clap hands and bend over a lot. No need to sing.

I know some have said George doesn't hit all the high notes anymore, but really, there are not that many who do in the live setting, just to save their voices. There was a short moment where he asked the venue to turn the AC down a bit because it was drying his throat out.

How Madonna of him. Did he do all your favorites?

He didn’t do my favorite--A Different Corner--but he did so many great things, it didn't really matter, although I think the audience wanted I Want Your Sex.

My favorite was the first song, Waiting. He did so many hits that I was trying to anticipate the encore and I’d guessed I Want Your Sex, forgetting about Freedom 90 – how could I forget that?

Hard Day was a nice little treat too. Surprising as many people knew the words to Outside and Spinning the Wheel that did!

Don’t get me started on the woman behind us. A redneck type who kept emitting high-pitched squeals and then would not only sing along, but riff. She kept ad-libbing to Hard Day with her horrible singing voice. Maybe it was Britney! I never looked at her. I have a longstanding joke with friends that I add ‘Woah! Yeah!” to the end of every song lyric and this woman literally did that. I kept praying her voice would wear out – it didn’t, but she was such a nutty fan that she moved down closer. I wonder what she thought of how George looked? We thought, “Oh, he looks great!” until we saw him on the big screens. He is 45 and looks like a 55-year-old Greek shipping magnate who’s been spending too much time on his yacht. The awful glasses, the medallions and chains. Wow.

He may look older, but the voice is still in good shape, even after all the joints. I'll be surprised if Whitney will be able to pull off what he did. Of course, he was never addicted to CRACK.

I was thrilled by Kissing A Fool. He sounded better on that now that he is older. He did change the notes on the bridge (“When you need the hand of another man…”), but it worked fine. He still has a basic set of like two dance moves that only he knows how to do though – that was pleasing! I thought the staging would be dull – all video-based, but it worked.

The screens were kind of cool, but nowhere near what I think Darren Hayes did on his last tour. I don't know how he didn't fall over with all those lights rushing under his feet!

I loved the staging for Flawless, where the lights crawled up the stage. I also like how he used the backing vocalists in various permutations. I think it was One More Try where they sort of surrounded him.

He seemed truly humbled with America's response. He got down on his knees and bowed to us, and kept talking about how hard it must be to be a George Michael fan. He was really trying to put forth some real energy.

Which is good, because the last time I saw him, at the Equality Rocks show in the 90’s, he was a really bitter pill. I wonder if this tour will affect how he approaches his career? He does like to talk about retiring, which I find tedious. Probably to smoke ganja!

If I never see him again, it was worth it…the more I think about the show, the more impressed I am at his ability to unite such a large crowd in an intimate way. I'm not sure even Bono can make such a big venue feel so tiny.

True. And I realized how accomplished he is at such a young age. This was one of those “soundtrack of our lives” shows, which tend to be very life-affirming. And then you think, “This man is stinking rich!”

August 19, 2008

Tracey Thorn : I just wanted you to hear

Tracey Thorn has updated her myspace page with a new song called Overture that she's done with Hungarian group Unbending Trees. She says it will be released as a digital single on September 29. The track, a duet with Trees singer Kristof Hajos, starts as an elegant piano piece and slowly blossoms with delicate strings. It will be a lovely piece for autumn. Music for adults.

Tracey also says this of her recent recording:

Progress on my new album consists of me having had dinner with Ewan Pearson! Hurrah! We did manage to at least have a conversation about the next bit of recording, which will happen in the autumn, and by then things will be really taking shape... this week I am meeting up with Jens Lekman, to do something or other. There will be a guitar, and a mic, and Jens with his laptop, and who knows what may come of it. a number one single possibly. Or an obscure b-side. You don't really have b-sides nowadays do you. Pity really, they were always our best tracks.

The great drawing of her above is done by her daughter. How do I love thee, Tracey? Let me count the ways.

August 18, 2008

We won't have to wait: Lorraine finally speaks

When I discovered the trio Lorraine in late 2005, I didn't even know they were Norwegian. They had released two songs, I Feel It and Saved (video), via the indie Genepool label. These were five-star tunes, with strong melodies, beautiful vocals and a kind of surging, kids-in-the-streets grandeur. Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant pricked up his ears, as did journalist Peter Robinson of PopJustice. If you've followed the band, you know what happened - and did not happen - next. A series of false starts and marketing mistakes ended Lorraine's UK record deal before it really began. Since that time, there has been the odd single, like a lush cover Psych Furs' Heaven, but no album and, frustratingly, very little news from the band. I have given up numerous times.

Throughout all of this drama, there's never been a question about the music, so it's appropriate that when the band launched a soaring new song, Tell It All, on myspace, my love for them was completely renewed. Instead of musing on what happens next, I went straight to vocalist Ole Gundersen, which is a pleasure, because he has one of the best male singing voices today. This is short, but it does answer some questions.

XO: Where are you now? Norway? I see that you have shows coming up in the fall?

Ole: We are in Bergen, Norway right now. We’ll do a tour in Norway in about a month, but we’re hoping to manage a few more tours in other countries.

There has been a certain amount of frustration being a Lorraine fan because there’s not been an album and there’s been no real news. And then - boom! - this new song, Tell It All...

We’ve actually recorded that song several times, but we kept coming back to the original recording demo we made in April last year. But we recorded some new vocals and guitars on it early this year, and yes, I think it will be a single.

Have you recorded consistently over the past two years? Can you share any specific song titles?

We are always recording new stuff. We’ve had a studio in Bergen for some years now, but the building was recently torn down. So at the moment there’s a lot of living room recording. And some titles would be: Frances, We’re Gonna Last A Long Time, Can’t Stop Being Without You, etc…. There are quite a few…

Have your influences evolved during that time? You seem to have remained true to your sound.

We are what we are, and I think everyone in the band agrees on what Lorraine is all about. It's not like we ever sat down and said we’re gonna sound like this and that, the sound of a group is a very magical thing and it just happens, I think. We all listen to a lot of different stuff all the time and whether that affects our music or not, I can’t say… probably…

Am I right that Neil Tennant has been supportive of you?

Yes, and he’s become more and more of a friend actually. The Pet Shop Boys were some of the first to pick up on us in the UK you know, talk about us to the press and writing about us on their web site and fan magazine. He’s even helped me buy clothes.

Okay, the big question: Will we hear an album? I’ve been worried by fake track lists and thinking, “Oh, I know all these songs.” Tell It All has sort of renewed my faith that there is good material we have not heard.

Of course the album is coming! And there will be a lot of good stuff that nobody has heard before!

Is it really called Pop Noir or is that just made up fan jive?

Oh no, that’s no made up fan jive. Pop Noir is the title of the album at the moment…

Thanks so much, Ole. This new single really has lit me up about your music all over again.

Thank you for doing this!

Lorraine will be playing dates in Norway this September. Details on myspace. Bring on the pop, the noir and everything in between.

Lorraine I Feel It:

UPDATE: Lorraine's studio burned down after I did this interview, so they started fresh with a new name inspired by the fire: Black Room. The album Pop Noir was released online in March 2009. See Black Room tage below for more info.

August 17, 2008

XOvision: I've seen fire and I've seen rain.

Wee Willy Young Changes:

Still think the song is only "decent" - and the video is a bit of pretentious wank. Though it does have a topless scene.

Kylie Flower:

From her London O2 concert broadcast last week. Her inexplicable new ballad, which for a moment sounds like it's about to be a cover of Where The Streets Have No Name. But it's not. And when will this be released, trolls?

Solange Sandcastle Disco:

Crazyass Sol-angel seems to share her sister Bouncey's Diana Ross fetish, but to me she actually comes across as Jody Watley lite. This album is going to be tremendous though! Can you believe I just said that? THAT may be the fifth horseman of the apocolypse.

August 15, 2008

Hard Mandy at 50

When posed the question "Which Madonna is your most favored Madonna?"
I go with this iconic video:

UPDATE: Warners has broken the embed. Click on the image above to watch the video

Top Ten - plus one - Reasons To Love Borderline.
11. Gloss magazine cover.
10. That HAT! (refer to the best shot at 3:10)
9. Bucktoothed Latino boyfriend.
8. Madonna learning to play pool at the end.
7. Fingerless lace gloves, Keith Haring painted skirt, nude lippy, Ray Bans, rags.
6. The part at 1:33 where she sinks down out of the frame.
5. The youthful fleshiness of her body. There's a whole generation that does not undertand she was seriously fuckable.
4. Insouciantly spraypainting the statue's crotch (0ff camera) and the sports car.
3. The prominence of her Roman nose in this video, with the great flared nostrils.
2. The song, the song, the song, so pleasing in its subtlety.
and, of course...
1. At 2:19, when a spurned Madonna kicks the telephone pole with her fluorescent pump.

I may dislike Madonna recent look and album, but I'll still fizz over some rare-ish photos...

Hank Steuver of the Washington Post wrote a great piece last Sunday on the evolution of Madonna. My friends and I kept emailing each other our favorite lines from it...
She's like those women you run into at play groups and the farmers market, only she is worth $600 million. We paid $200 to see Madonna in concert a few years ago. She came out and sang a lot of her hits -- "Vogue," "Like a Prayer." Then she sang "Imagine" by John Lennon, almost atonally. "Please listen to the words of this song," she ordered us. "We have to change the world." She said this as if the audience had never before heard "Imagine" or thought about the lyrics. When you give Madonna your money now, what you're buying is a thrilling opportunity to bask in her audacity: You must love me. We must change the planet, together, each one of us. I have to get on my jet now.

Finally, there is a superb interview with Christopher Ciccone in the UK's Gay Times. Christopher actually seems thoughtful and kind in this one. Of her current projects, he says, "I do wish she would experiment in her career at this point. She doesn't need the money. She doesn't need to repeat the things she did in the past. Yet she's going back and doing this sex thing. It doesn't work now, it's kind of creepy... when she's on it and when she's connected to her audience, she's brilliant."

August 13, 2008

Kick down the door and throw away the key

Following up my post last week, some news on the Annie Lennox Collection DVD. It includes 14 videos and... I . AM. PISSED! It's missing my favorite video, Money Can't Buy It. Give the woman a towel, some belles fleurs, a mirror and voila, genius:

DVD craplist tracklist:

Little Bird finally
Walking On Broken Glass appearance by Dr. House
No More I Love You's
A Whiter Shade Of Pale
A Thousand Beautiful Things (collage video) wot's that?
Pavement Cracks (collage video)
Love Song For A Vampire
Dark Road dull
Something So Right
Waiting in Vain

Never seen Something So Right? It's pretty rare. Watch it now...

The good always win in the end.

Rush rush rush to 8-1 and listen to the songs by Reuben Butchart (Boo-shárt). They are lovely, classic and make me yearn for fall leaves and bonfires. They just kind of glow. Come & Play and Golden Boy are initial favorites, arranged with some mighty orchestrals. The full album, which contains a duet with Antony Hegarty, is available on iTunes, etc. I feel as if I let Reuben pass me by awhile back - if this is true, Reuben, please forgive me. You sound like an old soul.

Here is a Butchart player for the Golden Boy album...

Thanks once again to Tacim for his good taste.

August 12, 2008

Hold on to your friends

When Morrissey made his comeback in 2004, I was skeptical. The pre-release hype was intense. Then I heard the album - and its b-sides - and was stunned. You Are The Quarry ranks in the top 3 Moz albums. It's a major achievement.

That album's producer, Jerry Finn, suffered a brain hemorrhage last month that left him in a coma. His family has taken him off life support. This is tragic news and I just felt I had to mention it. Some of you know that the forthcoming Morrissey album, Years of Refusal, was also produced by Finn (it's been bumped to Feb. 2, 2009). Jerry Finn was only 38 years old and I'm sure he's left a large wake of survivors and friends who must be in shock, so my thoughts are with them.

Holy smokes Chrissie!

Chrissie looking great in London last week. She turns 57 on Sept 7.

August 11, 2008

Jem shines

Jem and I share at least one thing in common: She often mentions that she is from Penarth, a wonderful little cliff town near the bay in Cardiff, Wales. This is where my great grandmother emigrated to from Ireland (the other side's from Cornwall). My cousin (aka British Bridget) used to live there in the sweetest terraced house, where I spent some time in the summer of 2000, racing around town looking for Welsh cakes. I like that Jem has not forgotten her hometown and how it influenced/s her.

On that oh-so-relevant note, a free and legal MP3* from Jem, who finally has a new CD, Down To Earth, out in a month. This is the album's elegant final track, one for the grown-ups...

Jem On Top Of The World

*No offense to anyone, but this is not an "exclusive." Every blogger in the free world got it today.

August 10, 2008

Cover story: Will Young

It doesn't tell a story, but it looks... electric. Boogie woogie woogie. AND it goes well with my template colors!

Thanks to PJ Forums

August 8, 2008

XOvision: My video of the week...

I'm going all Stereogum on you for a moment. This video is fresh and witty... although Stereodumb might say it's "on point" or something. You have to watch the whole thing to get it, though. It builds to an amusing ending that's the opposite of the usual transformations in teen movies.

Vampire Weekend Cap Cod Kwassa Kwassa

I assume I'm not the only one that thinks this sounds like a subversive outtake from Paul Simon's Graceland. ???

Leave me on my own to live the pattern of my life

My intrepid friend Jim reports to me that Annie Lennox's new song Pattern Of My Life is a cover of a rare Keane song called Closer Now. Play it above.

Free MP3 from new band Paper Route

A few weeks back I wrote about a group called Paper Route. They're from Nashville and have recently released an EP called Are We All Forgotten (iTunes US). Below is a free'n'legal MP3...

Paper Route Empty House MP3

I'm assuming that, in great Big Country fashion, they've got a guitar tweaked to bagpipe "mode" on that chorus.

I don't tend to cover new bands like this so much, but I find these guys pretty solid. If you like Keane, Crowded House, or even Lindsey Buckingham, you should try them. They're on tour in the US right now and, as per fecking usual, skipping DC.

August 6, 2008

Dear Mr. President, Pink will be here when you are gone

I hunted around my "archives" trying to find what I'd written about Pink and it's strangely little. But here's the deal: she's a "popular" star, but I think she's going to be around for a long time. The main reason: much of her talent and depth has not even been touched yet.

Her new single So What leaked today, with its bitched out chorus of
"So what I'm still a rock star, I've got my rock moves and I don't need you." There was a comment on PopJustice about how some rock fans might challenge her assertion that she's a "rock star" Here is what I said:

What a brilliant first line: "I guess I just lost my husband, I don't know where he went."

I take her lyrics as being kind of ironic. I don't think she means what she's saying- being a rock star is not going to save her and she knows that. But it's a breakup/I-will-survive song.

I challenge any small-dicked rock snob to say Pink is not a rocker in her heart. She could belt the Zep catalog while tearing the balls off of every drunk asshole in the arena.

Top 10 plus 1 reasons Pink IS a rock star:

1. She stood up for herself early in her career and refused to do what the suits wanted - and she won.

2. She pulled her shit together after years of rebellion.

3. She's beautiful, but she never trades on that as her Thing. She does sexy, but has no need to rely on it because...

4. Her vocals are the real deal - she is a passionate singer.

5. Her I'm Not Dead album was genre-popping and loaded with great songs, escpecially the 70's-Elton-esque Nobody Knows (video)

6. That album's b-sides (like Heartbreaker) were as good as some of the album tracks.

7. She recorded the best Prince song that Prince never wrote, Catch Me While I'm Sleeping - a classic (fanmade video).

8. Her Stupid Girls video. Pink seems committed to providing an alternative role model to girls who have a limited array of minge-flashing jailbait Celebrity chicks from which to choose their icons.

9. The spirit of rock is about fearlessness and self expression. Pink wrote the song below, Dear Mr. President, and released it on a major label, at the risk of alienating conservative fans.

10. Live performances of that song featured images of George Bush on screens behind her as she sang, "You've come a long way from whiskey and cocaine." I should add that the Indigo Girls sang this with her on the album.

11. I hope that in 15 years, she'll be one of those artists that plays sheds in the summer, year after year, bringing in fans with a long list of hits.

Pink Dear Mr. President:

In this version from Wembley, I love her facial expressions at 2:45 when she sings about gay children...

Pink has all my respect: she's whipsmart rock'n'roll in the best sense.
Her album is out in October.

August 5, 2008

The REAL Annie

Out September 15. Only 14 songs? Here is the tracklist:

1. Little Bird
2. Walking On Broken Glass
3. Why
4. No More I Love You’s
5. Precious
6. A Whiter Shade of Pale
7. A Thousand Beautiful Things
8. Sing
9. Pavement Cracks
10. Love Song for a Vampire
11. Cold
12. Dark Road
13. Pattern of My Life (written by Tom Chaplin of Keane)
14. Shining Light (cover of Ash song)

If I were doing this collection, this is what it would be (my changes in red):

1. Little Bird
2. Walking On Broken Glass
3. Why
4. No More I Love You’s
5. Precious
6. Wonderful
7. Money Can't Buy It
8. Cold
9. Pavement Cracks
10. Love Song for a Vampire
11. Hush Hush Hush (with Herbie Hancock) buy this!
12. Step By Step ('92 b-side)
13. Heaven (Psych Furs cover; '92 b-side)
14. Dark Road
15. Pattern of My Life
16. Shining Light

Clearly, there are some non-singles on my version. Did I forget anything?

Read my review of Annie's last CD - and my other Annie posts via the tag below.

Annie vs. Sparro

A wicked version of one of the top songs of this year, Black And Gold. Annie's never looked better, but I still want to burn his clothes. Take that as you will, my fierce trolls...

August 4, 2008

I fashioned you from jewels and stone

color coordination is key to Keane

Keane's site crashed of course, but I've heard Spiralling and it's quite a surprise. It reminds me of 1983 David Bowie, like Let's Dance meets China Girl. Not sure quite how I feel about the vocals, but it is insanely catchy and dance oriented. Warning though: Tom Chaplin sounds just like Bono when he says "Did you wanna be famous?!" on the middle eight at 2:15.

This is not the single - that's called Lovers Are Losing. Tom said to Jo Whiley today that the song is influenced by the 80's and Talking Heads. He also said that Stuart Price worked on the album for a "couple of days." The general consensus seems to be positive on their "rejuvenated" sound, but Whiley says there are songs on the album that sound like the Keane we already know.

Thanks to Kulpop / Torr / FizzyPop

August 3, 2008

Lorraine puts on something pretty

That's Ole from Lorraine looking like he's about to jump off a Manhattan rooftop. Perhaps because I've pissed all over them for not releasing an album, which isn't their fault, though they could have issued some statement. Now all is forgiven, because their new song, Tell It All, is one of the most anthemic songs of 2008. It's built on what sounds like an interpolation of Pet Shop Boys melancholy classic Home And Dry, but it flies off into something bigger. Have you ever noticed the most arm-waving tunes often have lyrics about motion and places?

"We can jump back straight to the promised land / We can live like poets and I can write in your hand / We can live to tell it all."

Is it hyperbole to say that when you hear this song you will, like, levitate? Nah...

Hear Tell It All on Lorraine's myspace now.

Mixtape: Staycation

That's my front garden I've been obsessing over when not sat at my computer typing this blog. I plant stuff, move it around, take stuff out, water, weed, give the ivy a "haircut," pluck hard green peaches off that bonsai-like peach tree. I do a lot of staring at it. In fact, whenever I work on it in the evening, I tend to go outside several times and look at it from various angles. I'm one of those neighbors. Who knew?

I am off work again this week and slinking around in the vaporous DC heat, trolling for new tunes and noting the sudden amount of surprise F08 albums being announced. Hurrah for new music. Hurrah for staycations. Onward...

Sarah McLachlan has drunk the KoolAid: She's titled an upcoming single - get this - U Want Me 2. Grammar, Miss Sarah. That track and Don't Give Up On Us are the two new songs she did with Pierre Marchand for her hits CD Closer, due out October 7. I have two problems with this: 1) the tracklist omits Steaming and 2) could "O Canandienne" stop releasing cash-cow collections and do a proper album?

Imogen Heap will soon release a new droning version of Hide And Seek that was done with a "strutti box." She says she changed the middle eight (!) so it sounds like a chant.
Hear a bit of it around minute 4 of her latest vblog. Immi's due to finish her CD in October. So far, the song Tidal (also in the vblog) sounds like a leap forward - or maybe a leap back to Frou Frou - with some basis in guitar. Perhaps a top tune for 2009?

The Imogen remake is for a collection Rupert Hine is doing called
Songs for Tibet - The Art of Peace out this week. Also included are Sting, Dave Matthews, Alanis Morissette, John Mayer, Suzanne Vega, Regina Spektor, Garbage, Damien Rice, Moby, Duncan Sheik, etc.

Lucky Soul is in the studio making a grand new album that evokes Scott Walker etc etc. If you don't know about Lucky Soul, their 2007 debut The Great Unwanted was totally majestic (my review). Check out their blog for progress on the new disc.

So far the new Pretenders music sucks. I have a hot Cougar Chrissie pic to post though, seriously. Stay tuned.

Madonna looked less vulture-like at her documentary premiere in Michigan Saturday PM. She was working the oh-so-makeshift "proper lady" look she favors for these events. We're onto that, Hard Mandy. Bring back your fired stylist. In these pics there is one of a dressed-down Lourdes mingling with her grandparents (sorry, Fan Moment, as if you care). Meanwhile, Dlisted took "Vadge" to task for only eating "seeds and grass."

I agree with Brad at MuuMuse that OceanLab sounds promising. I recommend If I Could Fly, which is not a Boy George cover.

Xtuna Aguilera astounds me. The nerve. The nerve! She parades around thinking she is a high-fashion model, yet she trowels the makeup on like a pre-op tranny. These photos are the equivalent of what would happen if I truly believed I was as hot as Brad Pitt and started cavorting in Vanity Fair. She is delusional that she's truly glamorous. Gives "puts on airs" new meaning.

This week's choice oldie is Life's Too Short by Lightning Seeds - a very New Orderish disco affair. Watch it and celebrate 1999.

Speaking of BritPop, the new Delays single Keep It Simple (video) seems like an ode to head oral pleasure, yes? "Move your head from side to side / Don't look down, take your time... all I see is you on your knees tonight."

80's album must-have: The Dream Academy's eponymous 1985 debut. Close to perfect. Find it at
Rock For The Masses. Best tracks: Life In A Northern Town, The Love Parade, The Edge Of Forever, but the whole thing is solid.

album Years Of Refusal now appears to be delayed until early 2009. There is an unconfirmed rumor that the producer, Jerry Finn, is gravely ill, but I've not seen an actual press report. Meanwhile, I love that Paul Weller recently dissed Moz as "a quintessential Englishman but lives in L.A."

Hmmph. Can someone send me the new Sam Sparro/Richard X b-side, No End In Sight? I cannot buy it or find it anywhere!

"Love is a game to you now / Watch just to see how long." I love that lyric. So cool. But why does Uh Huh Her not have a video ready for the phenomenal Not A Love Song? Sheesh. Their CD, Common Reaction, is out on August 19 and still no clip. You can get Not A Love Song and an equally elegant, plucked strings affair called Explode here.

Finally, on the indie tip, look at the amazing clip for Fleet Foxes lovely song White Winter Hymnal. If the video creeps you out, just close your eyes and listen to the music. Goldfrapp need to cover this one in their current folkie incarnation.

Remember, tomorrow is the release of Keane's Spiralling...

August 2, 2008

Quote Of The Week: Róisín Murphy

Róisín Murphy on her notoriously tight white top:

My father doesn't like it, let's put it that way... I really haven't got very much in the breast department, so I'm not afraid of showing them off.

Lots of news via ArjanWrite's Róisín interview:

1) New video coming for Movie Star
2) New single will include her cover of Bryan Ferry's Slave To Love
3) Róisín will be the voice of a new Gucci campaign in Europe
4) Overpowered will be released in America and there will be a fall tour.