January 30, 2009

January 28, 2009

Review: Saint Etienne's Method Of Modern Love

Reasons to love
Saint Etienne and their new single Method Of Modern Love:

1. On their
myspace blog they recently said, "The BBC are rather fond of us at the mo." Yes, and so am I, at the mo.

2. The song is suitably bleepy and tinkly, but most notably it's driving - the beat has real movement to it

3. Breathy oh oh oh oh backing vocals you can sing along with

4. The second stanza of verse 1: "There's no sense or reason / Why we're shot with a bolt of blue / And there's no path for the heart to follow / No one side that you have to choose."

5. Who in 2009 will top this chorus chorus chorus? Low-ow-ow-ow-ow-ve

6. The airy fairy climbing b-chorus, "You know there's more to modern love"

7. The subtle telephone synth in the second verse. I keep pausing my iPod to get the phone.

8. Love Love L-O-V-E in the middle eight. Spell-outs always go down well. As has been noted by numerous like-minded bloggers.

9. The dueling vocodered vocals at the end of the radio mix are BEYOND. They ping back and forth from ear to ear.

10. The best remix is grandiose. Huge. Monolithic. And done by the song's producer, the now legendary Richard X.

This is the first post of 2009 with the Best 09 tag... Thanks to Andrew

PSB Yes Yes Yes

Maybe the CD cover will be textured or something?

In other news, Love etc will be played on Ken Bruce's Radio 2 show on February 9. That's, like, yearsss!

Neil Tennant / Chris Lowe, I want to review your album. I've done it before. xoxo

January 27, 2009

Baby LaFleur

LOVE the coat and shirt. See The Killers Q minisite

Thanks Red Radio


Starsailor Tell Me It's Not Over:

A few comments about Starsailor and lead singer James Walsh:

1) This is the first decent Britpop song in ages. In fact, it's banging. I love a good "you cheated!" song.

2) The band had two great albums - Love Is Here (2001) and the poppier Silence Is Easy (2003) - but the third was a ball of phlegm. Not one good song on the whole affair, so March's All The Plans is an important comeback.

3) Their best song has this chorus: Daddy was an alcoholic.

4) The only time I have ever been backstage was at a Starsailor show on their first US headlining tour. Walsh could have cared less and was totally unresponsive. The drummer, Ben, was lovely and chatty.

5) Per #4, it does not bother me to point out that James is not featuring "hot" anymore (see evidence of previous looks below.) That said, I love this band and I love his voice. I'm sure I'll regret the looks comment soon enough.

Starsailor Lullaby (2001):

check him out at 2:58.

January 26, 2009

We celebrate by drinking poison

Some bright spark should compile a book of Grace Jones's press encounters as she promotes Hurricane. Here is an excellent piece by Sophie Heawood published last week in The Times. A few highlights:

1 She is still working on new music with Ivor Guest and hopes to release another record in the next two years.

2 In her current stage show, she hula-hoops for ten minutes during Slave To The Rhythm.

3 She tells her audience that her p*ssy is still tight and she needs sex.

4 You read #3 correctly.

January 25, 2009

Mixtape: If you think I'm dreaming

First, the REAL Sasha Fierce:

What a week! This captures it all and made me cry all over again!

I am obsessed all over again with Jennifer Hudson's warm'n'lovely single, If This Isn't Love. [Hear it now - not sure what the male voice is on the rip] The long bridge, from about 2:15 to 2:45, is one of the most uplifting pieces of music I've heard in ages. There are remixes floating around the Internets.

I've come to the conclusion that Vincent Frank - Frankmusik - is the male equivalent of Imgoen Heap. He streamed the title track to his debut album, Complete Me, and it's another wonder. This one has a more serious elegance to it (play it now). The details at the edges of the song, the piano and the pretty vocal scale in the final moment (which reminds me of Tori Amos's Cooling) suggest that he's far deeper than a club boy. Like Imogen, this is a DIY guy and we're watching his imperial moment. One brilliant song after another. I cannot wait for the album.

U2's new song. Garage band music. Why do they always insist of proving something with their music - that they are edgy and youthful. They are not edgy and youthful They are a mega conglomerate world power. What I want from U2 is grandeur, not rat-a-tat-tat.

Two of my friends went to the RIAA party for the Inauguration. Cher, my spiritual mother, was there and I was not! Anyway, my friend reported one droll scene at the party. RIAA staffer: "You look like Josh Groban." Shaggy-headed man: "I AM Josh Groban." Miaow.
Rihanna only performed 3 songs before technical problems ended her set. Also heard that J-Lo and her horrible troll stayed at the Helix, which is a fun hotel, but not even close to grand.

The piece that YoYo Ma et al played the Inauguration was lovely. And it was mimed!

Sufjan Stevens released a whack new song - or maybe it's like 5 songs in 1 - this week called You Are The Blood. 10 minutes! It's a combination of classic Sufjan mixed with a new electronic blippiness. It's very martial at moment. When It comes to esoteric pop, I have tried to like the new Antony And The Johnsons material with no luck - it's just too somnabulant [how many scrabble points?] Sufjan is more my speed, even when he's this arcane.

For those who like indie folk pop, do do DO play Maria Taylor's Time Lapse Lifeline. Superb new single - to listen to it at her myspace.

Just Jack is back! His new song is a string-laden, almost choral epic called Embers. Wow! Thanks to Discopop Directory for the news. I LOVED Jack's last CD, but never did find out the words to Disco Friends. Anybody know them? The hook on the new song is fantastic and timely: "We are all embers of the same fire."

Oldies of the Week: Haunt Me by Sade. For some reason I've never hear Sade's third album, Stronger Than Pride. This song is a smooth gem with a pretty, almost flamenco guitar. It sounds very Brazilian, but not bossa nova. Also played Eve Gallagher's slinky 1991-ish song Love Come Down a lot.

Speaking of Eve Gallagher, she has a great line: "Some damn fool is trying to read me." A psycho on PopJustice - one of the webbies who wants to provoke and fight - likened me to a racist this week for calling Katy Perry a "skank." This apparently means all sorts of horrible. To me it means a sleaze. I find her completely unoriginal, banal and worse, disingenuous. I don't see my comment as hypocritical at all - I think she's a flamethrower.

What is the deal with Americans not being able to buy the CD format of Saint Etienne's Method Of Modern Love? Did anyone successfully get it in the US? Word is that if you put it in your shopping cart and then put in a US address, it will get knocked out of the cart. The band is promising an international version soon. Wot? An industry is tanking and simultaneously saying, "Oh, you want this product? Sorry, no."

For those interested in the music business, check out this Billboard interview with Don Ienner. He talks about the CD being a blessing and a curse: a blessing as new technology (and a way to get people to repurchase their collections) and a curse in the way it ruined the album format. The album-as-filler perception grew when artists had only 5 good songs on a 16 song album. And we all know what happened at that point...

Finally, in a shocking "Lazarus" moment, Tremble Clef, a great pop blog, reappeared in December for one post. Brittle Lemon, the writer, listed his top 60 songs for 2008. Definitely worth your time, though I'll believe this blog is back when it IS back.

source for picture

January 24, 2009

Tragic news: Lamya has died

the amazing Omanian singer, has died of unknown causes. I first noticed Lamya when she performed with Duran Duran on their 1994 Unplugged and stole the show during Come Undone (see below). Years later, in 2002, she released a truly brilliant album, Learning From Falling, produced by Nellee Hooper and a very young Mark Ronson.

Read my review of Learning From Falling here.

I'd always hoped she'd release another record. She had actually recorded a new CD, Hiding In Plain Sight, that was due this year. I hope it gets released. You can buy her music cheaply all over the place. Get the album or just try Black Mona Lisa first - it's really moving. She was, I believe, one of the early signings to Clive Davis' J Records, but she was too clever to fit a mold for radio. Her music was too intelligent and far too vast.

Read what Simon LeBon says about Lamya and her passing

Lamya Empires:

A kooky, ingenious song with a video in which Lamya looms over city boys.

Lamya with Duran Duran Come Undone

I could not find the Unplugged on youtube, but please watch the version above - she comes in at around 4:30. This is 1994 - she was a major, major singer. I am really upset by this news.

I am not afraid
To be a lone bohemian
I can paint a portrait of myself
I will call me a black Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa

Bless you, Lamya.

January 20, 2009

Review: Lily Allen's It's Not Me, It's You

Lily Allen's It's Not Me, It’s You kicks the asses of pop culture haters who are waiting to see her fall musically after so many literal stumbles out of members' clubs in London. Rather than take the usual multi-producer track, Lily did this old school, recording the whole album at one time in Los Angeles with the brilliant Greg Kurstin. 12 diverse songs that represent real growth beyond her mad brilliant debut, Alright, Still.

Everyone's At It, the single-worthy opener, is the perfect bridge between Lily's previous sound and her new. less retro pop, with a fuzzy electro vibe and typically wry Lily lyrics : "So your daughter's depressed / We'll get her straight on the Prozac / But little do you know / She already takes crack."

The Fear, the actual first single (video below), has jaunty verses with a lush multi-tracked vocal on the chorus. Lyrically, she takes on the worldwide recession in 7 seconds: "I am a weapon of massive consumption / And It's not my fault, it's how I'm programmed to function."

Not Fair has a hilarious "rockabilly goes Grand O'l Opry" arrangement that needs to be on pop radio and probably won't. It also has the album's best verbal slam: “I look into your eyes / I want to get to know ya / And then you make this noise and it’s apparent it's all over.”

I Could Say is a defiant breakup song, but it's also more melancholy than anything she's ever done. Her finest ballad, this is a wall of beautiful sound. Chill inducing.

Back To The Start pings! The electric guitar is wicked and the high-speed chorus should have made this the first single. It's by far the best song on the album. The vocals are airy with reverb and the lyrics are a sweet apology for being a bitch to a friend: "Believe me when I say that I cannot apologize enough... and if it's not too late/ Could you please find deep within your heart / To try and go back / Go back to the start."

Who'd Have Known. Another relationship ditty, midtempo. This has changed a bit since she leaked it last summer. It's the one that reminds me most of producer Greg Kurstin's work in The Bird And The Bee.

Him waffles between folkie guitar midtempo and proper syncopated pop. It's about God, but manages to slide along the fine edge of humor without blasphemy. The music on the instrumental bridge at 2:25 is a dream.

The album is not perfect. Fuck You, the opening of which reminds me of The Carpenters, is meant to be an attack on Bush, but the chorus burns nothin' down. The final track, He Wasn't There - one assumes it's about her father - is both random and slight.

Second albums are always a big moment. After a year of topless sunbathing and slagging popstars, Lily Allen proves that she takes her music seriously. I'll quote the girl herself: she's killin' em all on her own little mission.

Lily Allen The Fear:

Stream The Fear remixes here.

The Greatest Day

All I hear from my house is sirens! We're not attempting the Mall - it's like 15 degress with wind chill, but we will walk down to the east side of The Capitol, which is about 10 blocks from here. Crowd predictions for DC have been correct and it's all sorts of crazy, but everyone is happy. Wonder if Mr. Cool above is so cool right now. Can you imagine!?

Update, 5:15 pm: AMAZING DAY. I got as close as I could, felt the vibe, and then ran home so I could watch it on TV.

January 19, 2009

MLK Day and the Inauguration

Yesterday, I allowed my toes to basically freeze so I could stand by the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall watching the Inaugural Concert. It was my first time in an audience for the real live Barack Obama. The Reflecting Pool stretches in front of the Lincoln Memorial where MLK gave his "I have a dream" speech, arguably the most famous and quoted speech in American history. And finally history has caught up. I cannot even believe I am living in this amazing time and place. This week is such a validation for anyone who believes not only in civil - and human- rights, but the notion that intelligence, empathy and calmness are virtues that define America as much as any other place on Earth. Here is a better explanation of why I am so elated this week:
Obama’s election has the additional virtue of being a good deed in itself—that is, last Tuesday, we spectacularly narrowed the distance between American ideals and American reality. We acted true to the original Puritan vision of America “as a City upon a hill,” as opposed to the self-satisfied, we’re-Number-One-no-matter-what revisionism of the last few decades.

Even before he takes office, there is one large, low-hanging fruit that Obama is harvesting already: The rebranding of America in the rest of the world is under way. Intolerant, ignorant, bellicose cowboy-America is suddenly … not. And thanks to overwhelmingly white America, as Tunku Varadarajan wrote on Forbes.com, “a black man will be the most powerful person on earth” and “the most powerful black man in the history of mankind.” Also? His father was actually African. Foreigners are even more astonished than we are.

But the election happily overturned another set of conventional wisdoms that were not specifically racial: Reason and intelligence made a comeback against the heretofore ascendant forces of the idiocracy. For the moment, America is reality-based once again.

- Obamaism, New York Magazine, Kurt Andersen, November 9, 2008

There is a prevailing mood in DC this weekend of shock and awe, to hijack a Bush term. No one can quite believe this is happening. I keep thinking of all the civil rights leaders who did not live to see this, but were driven by the belief that would happen. Surely they can see it now! I will try and comment on my next "mixtape" about the concert performances, but one surprise for me was Josh Groban and Heather Headley back by the... Gay Men's Chorus of DC!

photo from DCist. That's about where I stood.

January 17, 2009

Lady Of A Certain Age

When Madonna was in Rio last month, she did a photo shoot with Steven Klein for an upcoming issue of W. Apparently the theme is true to life: Madonna As Cougar!

This is how the Gay Divorcee looked on her day off... a bit granola, eh?

And this is how she appears in the W spread:

Thanks to Boy Culture and Madonna Superstar

Brilliant Blog: Music On Vinyl

I've been obsessed with Music On Vinyl for a few weeks. Since getting a new iPod Classic, I've wanted to add the proper album covers to my iTunes library. Not just album covers, but proper single covers too... I'm very nutsyfaganbooboookitty about this. Anyway, I discovered Music On Vinyl when looking for the single cover to a China Crisis' Black Man Ray. The site is updated everyday with several new posts. Take a look now!

Some gems I've found at Music On Vinyl:

Sade: Never As Good As The First Time - 12" version

Stewart Copeland & Stan Ridgway: Don't Box Me In

Peter Godwin: Baby's In The Mountains

The Lover Speaks: No More I Love You's

Diana Ross: Eaten Alive- 12" version

Note that the blogger, Marcel, also tells you where and when he bought the vinyl and how much he paid!

January 15, 2009

Really? That's it?

The new U2 album cover for No Line On The Horizon. I see a line.

M-i-n-i-m-a-l. They also announced the track list. The album, out the first week of March, will apparently have 5 versions. FIVE, not 6. I believe the most expensive "Box" format comes with a ticket for dinner with Kofi Annan. And if you don't know who Kofi Annan is, it's the Standard Jewel Case for you, philistine.

Note that the CD contains a song called I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight. I wonder how Bono goes crazy? Perhaps it's new eye makeup he is featuring...

Oldie (sorta): I forgot about this

U2 and Mary J. Blige One

I forgot about this. Perfect. I have always loved the lines, "Love is a temple - love the higher law / You ask me to enter - then you make me crawl / And I can't keep holding on to what you got / When all you got is hurt." Bono does not always nail it, but he did with those lines.

MJB looks amazing.

Neko Case, bodacious hood ornament

Neko Case is a babe. A righteous babe! I've had the pleasure of seeing her live and her voice is just as amazing in person as it is on record. People Got a Lotta Nerve (free and legal below) is the first single from her March 3 album, Middle Cyclone. 15 new songs. For those unfamiliar, Neko is kind of alt-country-pop-retro-folk. Not sure who I'd compare her with, but look at how cool she is on that car. Try her!

She's also really funny- at the time I saw her, she was obsessed with R Kelly's Trapped In The Closet series and kept speaking about it between songs. I mean, this is a woman who made these lines the chorus of her new single: "I'm a man-man-man-man-man-maneater, still you're surprised-prised-prised, when I eat ya."

Neko Case People Got a Lotta Nerve

My favorite Neko Case songs? Hold On Hold On, Star Witness, The Needle Has Landed and Deep Red Bells.

Middle Cyclone EPK:

January 14, 2009

RED ALERT: Depeche Mode album details!

Sounds Of The Universe

out April 21. The details...

Recorded in Santa Barbara and New York, Depeche Mode returned to using a lot of vintage gear, from analogue synthesizers to drum machines, in order to conjure up the retro-futuristic arrangements featured on the album. Lyrically the release contains many of the group's enduring obsessions plus more overt black humor than any of their previous collections.

Like with their 2005 studio album, Playing The Angel, Sounds Of The Universe features writing credits for both Martin Gore, the group's primary songwriter, and Dave Gahan who after honing his talents on two solo albums, has earned his place as Depeche Mode's second writer. The release also marks a reunion between the band and producer Ben Hillier (Blur, Doves, Elbow), who worked with the band to help give their new album its timeless sound. The first single from the release, Wrong, grabs the listener's attention from its first stack-heeled, staccato shriek. Over stomping beats, screeching synthesizers, and Dave's overlord chant, Wrong already feels like a Depeche Mode classic. Other standout tracks include Martin's velvet-lined Scott Walker croon on the sensual lounge-music ballad Jezebel, to the sci-fi gospel-blues hymn In Chains and Hole To Feed, which marries modern electronics to a floor-shaking, bone-rattling Bo Diddley beat.

I follow depechemode.com for DM news

Pet Shop Boys for boys and girls all over the world


One thing seems clear - Peter Robinson is not in love with Love, Etc., the new single, but he does like the album. I love it when he says that Fundamental's production veered toward "THE ELDERLY" which must be peoples my age who heard references to Madonna and New Order in it.

Yes, yes, yes that is a new pic above. The boys have their hats again.

Remember, 3 places to read about PSB:

1. PSB Official Site
2. Very, a PSB Fan Blog
3. Euphoria, PSB Fansite

Keep you looking so brand new.

1/10/09. Deluxe. Just sayin'...

January 13, 2009

A token of her love

Winter is so tedious, but when Lily Allen launches her new CD on February 9/10, the sun will shine and the birds will sing. She's interviewed this week in Billboard and, not surprisingly, is quotable...

She calls Perez Hilton "an irritating wasp in the beautiful rose garden that is my life."

On EMI tightening the money pot, she says, "When you've gone from nothing to selling 2.5 million, you want to be staying at nicer hotels and going out for nicer dinners . . . that's not happening."

And, typically, she waffles between vilifying and adoring the media and paparazzi: "What's surreal now is when it's not there. To be honest, I start to slightly panic when people don't write about me for a couple of weeks."

Did you check out the Lily Allen widget?The songs I most want to hear are Back To The Start and Not Fair, the "heehaw" one about a man who can't or won't make her come.

January 12, 2009

A message

In the music blog spheres, there seems to be some confusion of hubris and humility. The recent blog awards / rankings have done nothing but massage egos and create a divisive mood among bloggers. For me, these awards and rankings mean little when placed aside the topic I write about: inspiring music. That's not a haughty comment - I'm not creating a CV, I'm writing about pop!

Validation is not getting hordes to vote for you via links or message board requests. What matters is the community you create with your blog. One in which you truly participate, not preside above. One that leads a reader to send you a random note saying that you rock and that they totally agree on the new Girls Aloud single. What matters is the thoughtfulness that you put into your writing. Do you rush to be The First, or do you write to be clear and expressive? What matters is that you have something unique to say.

I suppose there is some arrogance in me presenting what may be perceived as a "finger wag" here. It's often a laugh to gape at the cravenness of some bloggers. I have been dismayed recently by how easily artists themselves are won over by smooth talk. Sycophants win the battle, not the war, and their presence doesn't really help musicians, does it? What matters is that your opinion is not tainted by sidling up to fame - and I use that term loosely - or confusing criticism with PR.

I do not believe that bloggers are the new leaders of the industry. I would never ascribe that kind of position or power to myself. That's a golden calf. They/we may perhaps be the new community organizers - and we see how well those guys can turn out! - but not the new Establishment. When you can financially front the recording of an album, distribute it and promote it successfully, please get back to me and I'll revise these comments.

What goes up must come down and I am wise enough to know that. To paraphrase a friend many of you know/read, just do what do you do, for yourself, and don't worry about the rest.

We each have our own values and these are mine. Said with love. XO


Don't think I have not forgotten The Method Of Modern Love. Still waiting, but now there's a full 75 seconds on SE's myspace. How can I even leave the house before this is released?

January 11, 2009

The breath before the kiss

I kind of glossed over this Pink song at the end of the year, but it's a beautiful, romantic ballad and one of her finest songs. Just wanted to be sure you didn't miss it, should you be a moon-eyed romantic.

Pink Glitter In The Air*

I love the bridge (2:29), about the moment when you realize that you are not so cynical or jaded. That you too are thrilled to be called "baby" or "sugar" by someone you're in love with.

There you are, sitting in the garden
Clutching my coffee
Calling me sugar,
You called me sugar

Well, it doesn't read that well, but it sounds great when she sings those lines!

*clearly not an official video!

January 10, 2009

Learning Moment: Jesus Loves You

January is such a dry month for music, so there's time to go back. If you don't know the work of Boy George as Jesus Loves You, it is time to get with the program. This was a "collective" George launched in 1990 for his new label and the music remains, in my opinion, his most sophisticated work. At heart, it was a sort of "world dance" project, made in a good period for George, as he'd discovered Hare Krishna and seemed calm, though it was also the high point of ecstasy so who knows? Watch this interview:

Given George's recent problems, this video is poignant. He is about 30 in this clip and looking as classically male - or British schoolboy!- as he ever looked. Listen to the message behind what he's saying about the music industry. He is RIGHT ON. This could have been filmed last week, the ideas are still so relevant. He reminds me of someone in this clip that I cannot put my finger on - his facial mannerisms as he speaks, especially his mouth. Can you figure it out?

After The Love
(below) was the first single. I remember reading a review in something like Melody Maker that said this song was so lush, that when you played it, rain would pour from your ceiling. I loved that.

Jesus Loves You After The Love:

That label was called More Protein and I don't need to tell you how it got its name. Let's just say George has a salty sense of humor. The next single, Generations Of Love (video), was a political statement, smooth and bass heavy, with a warm, sweet accordion ribboned through it. An album, credited to Boy George, was called Martyr Mantras. It also featured what would become a true house classic, I Specialize In Loneliness (hear it) and a Krishna-loving folk tune, Bow Down Mister, that morphed into an Indian dancepop classic. I love it.

Boy George Bow Down Mister:

Fast forward to 2002 and George's musical Taboo. Few know this tune, Out Of Fashion. I have a longer (and better) acoustic version from U Can Never B 2 Straight, but below is a full studio arrangement. The lyrics are prescient.

Boy George Out Of Fashion:

You're out of fashion
Your moment's over
And yes, I loved you
But you wore me out

You're out of fashion
So just forget it now
A living tragedy
Fits you like a glove.

Finally, Phil reports that you really should check on BG's youtube channel

January 8, 2009

If I'm ugly then so are you

Let me be clear: I'll try to always be fair. I LOVE Mutya Buena's voice and the emotion she seems to effortlessly vocalize. She sings like an old soul. When she does well, I will always leap to praise her. I'm effusive that way. When she lets me down, it's because I hold her to a higher standard. Should her appearance on Big Brother correct an incorrect perception of her, then it will be a wise move.

Along those lines, British Peoples: Do I need amend my
Mutya-on-Big-Brother-post and strike the harsh assessment? It drew some strong responses that made me wonder what I don't know about Mutya and how much I'd fallen for some vaporous pop-culture conversation about what kind of woman she is. Please report on how she's doing on the show - wot's she like, anyway? I cannot watch the show, but first word comes from Phil of Worrapolava:

She's not the hard-faced chav everyone paints her to be. I'm sure that her and Keisha together could be vicious when they were younger, but she's a mother and she's seen a lot and achieved a lot. She's very sweet and caring. I like her. She holds herself well in the house and is far more mature than 45 year old father-of-four Coolio. What a knob.
Watch a Big Brother profile on Mutya (yes, it is Moo-tee-uh).

Watch Mutya be lowkey and nice to some chick I don't know. (embedding disabled sorry)

Phil and I exchanged comments on how she looks on the show. This is one of my things about her. If she celebrated her unusual look with a bit more panache and upkeep, she would be the embodiment of the (society-deemed) ugly girl who made herself beautiful by highlighting her quote unquote flaws. Maybe that is actually the wrong thing to say, since the definition of beauty is coming from me, not her. Or maybe if I could really watch her on Big Brother and like her, I would not see this hard, tough creature. I really loved her for singing Ugly. Remember that? I just thought that song was so brilliant and loving, even if I am not a tender teenage girl. Or maybe I am? Hmmm?

Sugababes Ugly:

MGMT: Pretty boys pretty boys

just sayin'

January 5, 2009

Mixtape: I'm throwing my arms around Obama.

More Hard Mandy and her not-so-warm lil oven. I don't like this image - it's like she's trying so hard to taunt us. I do, however, like the pic that highlights her chicken cutlet cheekbones.

Zavvi, the UK record chain, is dead. Will one store remain next Christmastime and, if so, will that store flourish due to the lack of brick-and-mortar competition? SHOP LOCALLY IN 2009! I have been recently, when possible, at the lone DC record store, Melody, and will continue to pay a bit more so I have that option. I am, well, freaked by the death of music stores, but thankful for the online communities of music geeks we have today.

Speaking of the industry, Tori Amos is talking and saying she refused to sign a 360 deal because it basically gave over too much control to others. She will take shorter tours in the future because her daughter is in elementary school and she does not want to disrupt her life. Take that, Madonna.

Torr is most unhappy with the new Morrissey album. I am still processing what I've heard, but I love the song that has the line "It's not your birthday anymore /There's no need to be kind to you."* Also recommend the single I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris, which sounds to me like a Bona Drag song and that is a good thing. It won't set your world on fire, but it's pleasing. But Torr! Torr's love has died - will Morrissey win it back?

*Update: That song It's Not Your Birthday Anymore is MAJOR. The vocals are better than any he has done in years.

For the darklings who dig a heavy singer/songwriter, check out Karima Francis. It's true that she sounds like Joan Armatrading, except more... warbly. Joan Armatrading meets Snow Patrol?

The new Bruce Springsteen song, Life Itself, is beautiful and sad. Watch it. Yes, you read that correctly. For the past few years, Bruce has been doing more melodic songs with complex arrangements. More importantly, he seems to be dropping the faux country twang he had taken to using. The man is from the Jersey shore! You can get the song for free on Amazon.

Did you know Paddy Boom (aka The Straight One) officially left Scissor Sisters? I just found out. Damned homos chased him out. joke

Week after week, day in, day out, Frankmusik delivers genius pop to myspazz. This time it's Questionable Times. So I am bit perplexed to find that his forthcoming single is Better Off As Two, a b-side from his current single. It's not a bad song, but I'm not sure it's the devastating breakthrough he needs. Side note, I finally got his EP in the mail and the packaging is so deluxe that it worries me how much money was spent on that launch. Prudence, Vincent!

A Camp's new album is called Colonia, which sounds too much like "colonic." The debut single, Stronger Than Jesus, left me a wee bit cold. Remember, this is the side project of Cardigans singer Nina Perrson and her husband, Nathan Larsson. See the video now.

RuPaul has the good taste to read PopMuse.

Tracey Thorn is done with her album. It's not a "beats" record, but more acoustic (like half of Out Of The Woods), though her band does consist of members of Hot Chip. I have no fears - she's sublime and actually has integrity. No word yet on titles or when it's out.

The Time has recorded a new album with all the original members. Seriously. Will it be good? B
aby, if the Kid can't make you come, nobody can.

Sheryl Crow turned down Fleetwood Mac, NOT the reverse, says Stevie Nicks. So THERE, Lindsey.

I love
Q's Track Of The Day.

Poor Boy George. The live review in The Times perfectly captures that sad cloud that lingers over him. I hope he can pull it all together again. I should add that there appear to be errors in the piece. Vote For Love? Is that Yes We Can?

Don't you think the powers that be are using Alexandra Burke to recreate the success of Leona Lewis? We only need so many baby Whitneys.

I enjoyed reading Kitty Empire subtly swipe Duffy in the Observer as an "M&S version of soul." Note that Adele, who was trashed by many, I think, for not being a blond sexything, has raked in a load of Grammy nominations and is selling quite well in the US. I plan to see her in early 2009.

Oldie Of The Week: Can't stop playing the 5:05 extended mix of Sade's Never As Good As The First Time. Get it here. I like how the male vocalist does this low bum bum bum thing with his voice, like he's part of the
rhythm section. Hear it running throughout the video. The 45/12" versions are re-recorded, but if you do not own 1984's Promise, it is truly one of the top 20 albums of the 1980's. It never ages.

The next time you read one of these mixtapes (if you want to, that is) Barack Obama will have taken office as the new President. Now, Barack has already made a few confounding decisions, but I am letting that stuff go and hoping he can restore America to the place it belongs, as a GOOD neighbor in the world. Viva Barack. Viva Michelle. Viva Morrissey too.

January 3, 2009

Sad Times: 2009, The End Of Mutya's career

My Beloved Mutya in happier times (cool chola - tattooed tit and hoops)

I was crazy to love her, but I've reconnected my mind. Needless to say, I am shocked to find out that Mutya Buena - the EX- Mrs. XO, My Beloved Mutya - has entered the Celebrity Big Brother House with the likes of LaToya Jackson and Minifucking Me. Really? Who manages her? Has she lost her record deal? Could it not have been that celebrity jungle thing where you at least get to see them have moments of small triumph after eating a bug?

You'll remember - or, conversely, you won't - that I had great hopes for Mutya when she left Sugababes. This girl is one of the best singers of our generation. Unique, emotional, beautiful. But the sad fact must be acknowledged here and now: Mutya is a chav! A chola girl! There, I found the strength to finally say it. On her myspace page (find it yourself), she declares "My passion is music!" Really? Seems to me, Buena, from the "personal" photos displayed on the site, you most enjoy hangin' in da club. Where is your baby? Where is your band?

We all know now that her debut album, Real Girl, was a flaming turd, bar like 4 great songs.* And now this travesty. She is sure to cause drama in the house. Catfights and spotlights. Best case scenario, she's not the flaming bitch we suspect she is. I have little hope: this is the kind of girl who constantly demands respect while never earning it. Let me be wrong.

Mutya, it was great while it lasted, but you need to stomp your totally mint condition [cough] tattooed thighs back to the chippie in Kingsbury, or wherever it is you "hang." I'll take my whiskey sour and play Ace Reject and the beautiful, sad Maya (for your sister) over and over. Now the conversation's over and there's nothing more to say. I had time with you, so hear me now: I won't stay. It's my turn to walk away!

The Real Mutya, today:

* Real Girl, Song 4 Mutya, the lovely It's Not Easy, Strung Out

Update: See my January 7 post following this up.

January 2, 2009

Red alert: Yes yes YES, PSB tracklist

Pet Shop Boys' Yes tracklist!

1. Love etc. first single
2. All over the world
3. Beautiful people
4. Did you see me coming?
5. Vulnerable
6. More than a dream
7. Building a wall
8. King of Rome
9. Pandemonium
10. The way it used to be
11. Legacy

From their site:
The album has a running time of approximately 48 minutes. Tracks 1, 6 and 10 are Pet Shop Boys/Xenomania co-writes. All other songs are written by Pet Shop Boys (track 2 with a little help from Tchaikovsky). As we have previously reported, the album was produced by Brian Higgins/Xenomania and has a provisional release date of March 23rd.
In other PSB news, they've hired Angela Becker to represent them. Their site says this, "Angela is based in London and co-managed Madonna from 2004 to the beginning of 2008 when she left work to have a baby." That last bit has been the source of much rumor over the past year - namely that it was Stuart Price's baby, which seemed a bit unexpected. Not sure what the truth is, but the story went that she left Madonna on bad terms. Hard Mandy did make reference in 2008 to finding out that people she thought she trusted were not her friends. Whatever, I hope Becker is happy to have an actual life now. I am sure it is fascinating inside the Madonna hurricane, but I imagine getting away from that is as joyous as entering into it.

Empire of the Sun: Walking on a Dream

As PopJustice would say: Amazing.

And here is the Preview For All Audiences of their whack new video, We Are The People:

What you need to know:

Empire Of The Sun
is part of the new Australian invasion - they are based in New South Wales. The singer is
Luke Steele from the meh band The Sleepy Jackson. He's in disguise with the bad dye job. I think he inadvertently looks like Jon Heder (you know, Napoleon Dynamite). The other dude, Nick Littlemore (of ubercool Pnau! Here he is looking worse for wear with Pip from Ladyhawke) seems to be channeling Chris Martin after a bender. They're not quite the promising lays that MGMT are... which is probably a good thing.

The Dream video above was shot in Shanghai, along the Bund (been there!) and you can watch it in high def movievision here.Their debut album, also called Walking On A Dream, is smooth electropop - occasionally referencing Prince- with killer Star Wars homage artwork. I like how these new bands have assimilated 80's new wave in such a way that it's no longer pastiche - it sounds fresh.

Miraculously, "EOTS" is on the dreaded EMI label (the kiss of death), but seem to be doing just fine, perhaps because everyone else has been dropped, haha. It's not clear to me when they will launch in the UK or US, but it will happen. They've been covered by PopMuse, but strangely not Adem, so I suspect there's a rock'n'roll tale to be told...

Empire Of The Sun's myspace page