October 31, 2009

Note to Pet Shop Boys: Hurry it up

photo by

One of the highlights of the
current Pet Shop Boys tour is their grand version of Coldplay's Viva La Vida. It turns out Viva lends itself well to Pet Shop Boys natural inclination toward grandeur. They give good anthem! And it doesn't hurt that several of the Boys' bestselling songs are covers.

So where are they with their long rumored single version that may or may not be out in December? Swedish popstar Darin - it all comes back to Sweden, doesn't it? - who was a Swedish Idol runner-up back in 2004, has just released his version and I've heard he's launching his music in the UK. Hello, Boys? Announce it and release it or it's going to be an awkward moment!

I don't think Darin has done a video yet, so you can "hear" his version below

Darin Viva La Vida:

Factoid: For those that care, I should note that Darin was working with Moroccan producer
RedOne long before that newly famous blond woman.

October 30, 2009

Shakira's bedroom stories

As has been said by others, Shakira's new single, Did It Again, is not that great. It should have been Men In This Town. But the video is superb. Why hasn't this been done before? A whole love affair metaphorically danced on a bed. In this case, the male lover is played by Madonna's former favorite dancer, Daniel Cloud Campos.

If you don't remember him, check out the wanky fan video of him below. He appeared with Madonna on both the Reinvention and Confessions tours, as well as Live 8. He also famously made his boss a tribute video for her birthday. Had she not been married to Guy Ritchie at the time, Cloud might have been the "Jesus" of that time period (see bottom clip).

Robbie: Don't call it a comeback.

Robbie Williams is now doing video podcasts on iTunes - yes, even for the Americans. The third one is below, and here are #1 and #2.

His performance this week at Electric Proms was quite a return to form after years of hiding under a Unabomber beard, roaming American deserts looking for UFOs... and American desserts. You'd also never know from this performance that he increasingly suffers from stage fright.

Robbie's new album Reality Killed The Video Star (the title is witty nod to his producer Trevor Horn) is his best in ten years. I've heard some comments that it is a bit "adult contemporary," but Robbie is a bit adult himself, finally, at 35. The album has a string of great discopop tunes (Starstruck, Last Days Of Disco and Difficult For Weirdos), some lush ballads (Deceptacon and the Elton-y Blasphemy) and some swaying pop (next single You Know Me and Morning Sun). I highly recommend it - someone needs to hold up the mantle for solo male pop stars, an endangered species.

October 29, 2009

Heaven can wait and hell's too far to go

Beck vs. Charlotte Gainsbourg Heaven Can Wait:

and I can't say I'm captivé, though it's a poor radio rip. Filles Sourires has heard the album and gives a track by track preview.

October 27, 2009

Decade's end: The Year 2001

Paris photo by Stuck In Customs

We know 2001 as a demode Michael Bay movie come to life. Literally, a few hours when we thought civilization was ending, or at least that is what it seemed like here in Washington. I don't like documentaries about that day because they always begin with how pretty the weather was and how la dee da... and then you know what is coming and you can't do anything about it. You know that, in the space of one hour, wars will be spawned and there will be years of pain and tears. It's just beyond depressing, even now.

The nice thing about 2001 was that I spent Christmas in Paris [ed: this is not a normal occurrence]. One night I went out in a misty rain, alone, and walked the length of Île Saint-Louis, peeking in the windows of those tiny, dark restaurants with wood beams and little lamps on the tables. When I got near the end of the road, there was suddenly a choir singing - the voices filling the street from a Christmas concert inside the Saint-Louis-en-l'Île Church - and I literally started to cry. One of those rare moments when you know you're truly happy and that you will always remember this place at this time.

A bit more introspection and less pop on the music list for this year.

Top Songs Of 2001

Shelby Lynne Killin’ Kind
Alison Moorer No Next Time
Dar Williams After All
Mark Kozalek Up To My Neck In You
Rufus Wainwright Grey Gardens (or Tower Of Learning?)
Teddy and Richard Thompson Persuasion
Kings Of Convenience Winning The Battle…
Maxwell Lifetime
Mary J. Blige No More Drama
Kylie Minogue Love At First Sight
Lamb Gabriel
Mercury Rev Nite And Fog
Ewan MacGregor and Nicole Kidman Come What May
Pulp Trees
Ronan Keating Lovin’ Each Day
Prefab Sprout Blue Roses
Travis Side

Stevie Nicks Planets Of The Universe
Bjork Unison

I left a lot off this list!

October 25, 2009

10 Musical Thoughts, v.?

First, wishing Morrissey well. Don't leave us now!

Much of the Spandau Ballet redux album is quite good, including Only When You Leave, Gold and To Cut a Long Story Short.

Robbie Williams seems wiser now - matured in to a real person at 35. The Body Double remix of Bodies is tremendous (I really dislike the single version) - and it's on US iTunes too - a rare treat.

Sting believes we choose our parents. This pleases me. That interview is one of the best he's done, by he way, because the writer is fearless. "You're confrontational!" he tells her.

The Right Thing, the closing track of the new Alphabeat album is like crack. Total 90's joy. It reminds me of the summer I had to teach a 30-min aerobics class (just one time) for a grade. One track I recall using was Crystal Waters' Gypsy Woman.

The Rihanna song is not bad, it's just not something I want to play again and again. Simple as that.

If I were Frankmusik, I would actually tone down on the next record and put the voice out front more forcefully. I really feel like not releasing Vacant Heart was a mistake in that sense. Vince, you have a fantastic, emotional singing voice... so bring it!

Cheryl Cole's song 3 Words with Will.I.Am - is superb. Really dark and unexpected. What I hear in it is the beginning of a love affair you know is going to end in total drama. It's a shame one gets the sense her album was rushed. But again, Nicola is the Girl I really want to hear do a solo record.

I cannot tell you how sick I am of this Ryan Tedder rock ballad/epic sound - like what Jordin Sparks does. That trend needs to end NOW because I tune it out the moment i hear it. Faux emotion with no personality. I think Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke need to be realistic that they are going to be compared. There are many people - Simon Fucking Cowell? - who want the latter to be a new version of the former.

Meanwhile, Adele - who Simon would have made snotty comments about - is doing her new disc with Rick Rubin, which I think sets her up for the long haul. Go straight to the top sweetheart.

Nerina Pallot has a new ballad called It Was Me. Please note that it's the piano version of the song (on the bonus disc version) that's literally a classic standard from the moment you hear it. Not the watered down LP version.

October 23, 2009

Ellie Plus Eight

Ellie Goulding's new video for Under The Sheets. Pleasingly free of big label interference regarding her "persona" which seems not to need any massaging or - cough - "direction," as we've seen with other good artists this year. My favorite part? The drumming bits in the final minute. The only thing missing? A group bicycle routine at the end.

The song itself is, a few weeks in, just as buoyant and kicky as when I first played it 20 times in a row. A perfect launch.

October 22, 2009

Florence maximizes the magic

It's probably not going to rock anyone to their core when they see the tops of my various 2009 lists in December. It's going to be Florence + The Machine in a sweep. I'd been waiting for years for an album like this.

The finest song left off the Lungs album is finally available to Americans on iTunes. It's called
Swimming and its grand orchestrals recall Kate Bush's classic Cloudbusting. If you're unsure about Florence, this song is an excellent way in - it's melodic, anthemic and big big big. The US iTunes special edition also has another previously unreleased rarity, Are You Hurting The One You Love (sounds kind of raw). Finally, the new UK CD single for You've Got The Love has another new track called Addicted To Love. It's out November 16.

Florence + The Machine You've Got The Love:

The most absurd piece of news: Unlike U2, who waited 25 years to release a special box set edition their albums, Florence's team has decided Lungs is so classic on arrival that it warrants "a new limited edition" 4 disc - yes, four - box set version, released on November 30th.

Disc 1 is the standard album and disc 3 is a new set of bonus tracks, including her lush cover of Beyonce's Halo. Strangely, that disc omits some of the best bonus tracks on the digital deluxes (including the gorgeous Falling and Hardest Of Hearts). But it's disc 2 that's superb: the audio of their recent live gig at Abbey Road in London, including a cover of The Beatles' Oh Darling. See a live clip below - this set changed up the songs with unique arrangements. Despite the lack of strings, the grandeur is actually enhanced.

Disc 4 is a DVD with all the videos and various acoustic and live performances.

Disc 1: Lungs

1. Dog Days Are Over
2. Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
3. I’m Not Calling You A Liar
4. Howl
5. Kiss With A Fist
6. Girl With One Eye
7. Drumming Song
8. Between Two Lungs
9. Cosmic Love
10. My Boy Builds Coffins
11. Hurricane Drunk
12. Blinding
13. You’ve Got The Love

DISC 2: Live At Abbey Road

1. Between Two Lungs
2. Kiss With A Fist
3. Hurricane Drunk
4. Cosmic Love
5. Oh! Darling
6. Dog Days Are Over
7. Drumming Song
8. You’ve Got The Love
9. Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)

DISC 3: Remixes, Covers and Rarities

1. Halo
2. Hurricane Drunk (Acoustic)
3. You Got The Love (Fraser T Smith mix)
4. Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) (P.E.S.T Remix)
5. Drumming Song (Boy 8 Bit Remix)
6. Flakes
7. An Offering (Rabbit Heart demo)
8. You Got The Love (Pitron & Sanna Remix)
9. Cosmic Love (Acoustic Version)
10. Are You Hurting The One You Love
11. Swimming


Live from Rivoli Ballroom:
1. Between Two Lungs
2. My Boy Builds Coffins
3. Kiss With A Fist
4. Hurricane Drunk
5. Cosmic Love
6. Drumming Song
7. Howl
8. Blinding
9. Dog Days Are Over
10. Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
11. You’ve Got The Love

Acoustic Sessions:
12. Cosmic Love, 13. Between Two Lungs, 14. Dog Days Are Over, 15. Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)

16. Dog Days Are Over, 17. Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up), 18. Drumming Song, 19. You’ve Got The Love

Florence + The Machine Rabbit Heart (Live From Abbey Road):

Pre-order the special edition at Florence's "Flotique"

October 20, 2009

Decade's end: The Year 2000

"Let's all meet up in the year 2000 / Won't it be strange when we're all fully grown?"

Remember that line from Pulp's Disco 2000? I loved that song, actually from 1995, because it was so true to life when we were young. We all used to calculate how old we'd be in the year 2000 and what our lives would be like. For most of us, it did not end up as we'd expected and that's fine.

You may not have noticed the decade is ending. This is the first in a series of posts on my favorite songs from each year of the "oughties" - a silly name I never called this decade. Starting with 2000 - remember the Y2k? - and working forward to 2009, I've done a mix-length list for each year.

2000 was loaded. I finished grad school and became a "professional." They shipped me off to China almost immediately (hmmm?), where I remember being alone and awake at 3am in a hotel room in Hong Kong, seeing/hearing Kylie's Spinning Around for the very first time. A month later, I was in England and Wales for a family reunion, traveling solo for parts of the trip. It was then, in Londinium, that I bought Coldplay's Yellow, having never heard them. Look at Chris in that video, like a baby, pre-millions and movie stars. During that trip I also became obsessed with Samantha Mumba's Gotta Tell You. Poor Samantha, she fell off the face of the pop earth.

The first track listed below (Ashcroft) is my favorite song of that year (I've written frankly - and vaguely! - about it before). The rest are in no order...

XO's Top Songs of 2000

Richard Ashcroft A Song For The Lovers
Shack Comedy
Travis Driftwood
Coldplay Yellow
David Gray Babylon
Sade King Of Sorrow
PJ Harvey Good Fortune
Samantha Mumba Gotta Tell You
N'Sync Bye Bye Bye
Craig David Walking Away
All Saints Pure Shores
Kylie Minogue Spinning Around
Madonna What It Feels Like For A Girl
George Michael First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
a-ha Summer Moved On
Ronan Keating Life Is A Rollercoaster
Craid David Booty Man
Kirsty MacColl In These Shoes
David Gray Please Forgive Me

What did I forget?

XO in mainland China, summer 2000...

October 19, 2009

Wait. your. turn.

Click on the image above to hear what sounds like a sample of a new Rihanna track. She's working Grace as her new style icon. You wanna talk about who the next Madonna is? I've said it before...

Update: The song, Russian Roulette, is surprisingly mid-tempo and subtle on melody. It's a bit of a wailer. Not what I expected (and as of now, I don't mean that in a good way).

Mr Hudson, kicking and screaming

Mr Hudson drops the And The Library from his moniker and releases his second album this week. It's called Straight No Chaser and, for anyone who remembers his debut, this one is much more commercial and beefy. Kanye West produced it and the goal was, as Mr Hudson says in the interview below, to "kick 'em in the nuts."

I've not heard the whole album, but my early thoughts are that the West influence is too strong, For example, Hudson frequently and needlessly employs a vocoder to his voice. Now, if you're Kanye Ima Let You Finish West, this makes sense, but if you can sing as well as Ben Hudson, it becomes quickly irritating. The clearest example is the otherwise achingly pretty There Will Be Tears - I can overlook on that song - but it's sprinkled throughout the album. Hudson also seems a bit more hellbent on "kicking 'em in the nuts" with his vocals, which have become more shouty since the arrival of West as an influence.

For an example of what happens when West grabs hold of a Hudson song, check out the video below. In this case, Anyone But Him, may actually end up better - it sounds grand, even with Kanye all over it (can you tell I don't love him so much?).

The album's lead single Supernova, featuring West of course, was a relative hit, but the new track White Lies just flat out grates. I can't even define what I don't like about it (not to mention the fact Hudson looks terrible with black hair in the video).

Of the remaining five or so songs I've heard, there are some solid tracks, including Central Park, which sounds more like Hudson's debut, A Tale Of Two Cities..

Another quality song is the ballad Time

Jury's out until I hear the album from start to finish. It's got staggered release dates, so the US won't get it until Dec 1. Mr Hudson is opening for equally fit Calvin Harris on his current UK tour (see the Live section of Hudson's site). Kanye West is apparently in hiding.

October 17, 2009

Stephen Gately

For some reason, I've really been following the news surrounding the death of Stephen Gately. I'm not a huge fan, though I have some of bandmate Ronan Keating's solo music (a guilty pleasure). I thought these clips were worth seeing if you count yourself among those who've been moved by this story.

SkyNews report on the funeral:

Ronan sang
The Blue Nile's seriously epic Happiness at the funeral. You can hear part of that song on this old EPK...

October 16, 2009

Aviv Geffen, from Tel Aviv to Belsize Park

An October surprise: A totally new artist who does polished, lush pop. His name is Aviv Geffen and he's from Israel, where he's already been a huge star since the 90s. Trevor Horn and Ken Nelson (Coldplay) are among the producers who've worked on his first English language album, titled Aviv Geffen naturally, which has been two years in the making.

Musically and vocally he reminds me of a variety of people
. It Was Meant To Be A Love Song veers between Jay Jay Johanson and Depeche Mode, Black And White and Silence remind me of Martin Rossiter from Gene, and the free song below, It's Alright, is a more obscure reference, reminding me of The Honeymoon's superb first and last album Dialog.

For a bit more on Aviv, check out this Times piece, which is where I discovered him. I love how they describe as combination of Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Maximilian Schell and... Fonzie!

Download It's Alright by Aviv Geffen

Note that there are some solid remixes of that song (The Thrillers mix among them) on iTunes US and UK. Don't get me wrong, this is very commercial pop, but it's good - shimmery and romantic. The album is due out on October 19.

Aviv Geffen It's Alright:

Aviv Geffen It Was Meant To Be A Love Song:

If you live in London, Aviv a will be at The Borderlone on November 15.

October 14, 2009

Mixtape: This is it?

Who should Nicola Roberts make an album with? She deserves one more than Cheryl Cole, yes? Which sort of avant garde pop genius is worthy of her? Maybe the guy who did Siobhan Donaghy's Ghosts... or maybe Kleerup? Starsmith?

Speaking of Cheryl "The Hair" Cole, Talia put up her listening party notes. It sounds like test marketed crap, but well see. I do like the title track Three Words, though it has too much of that man's voice on it.

Microfilm have released a new EP, Blips Don't Lie, that features contributions from Sarah Nixey and Del Marquis! I should be clear that those tracks are not really like those artists' solo work. Their voices are transformed for the most part. Matt are very clued in to modern electronic music and worth your investigation. Here are a list of places to buy it.

Madonna in Rolling Stone.

Perhaps an unpopular opinion: I am glad that the tracks Roisin Murphy performed at the Viktor and Rolf show were primarily remixes. I found them to be more groove-based than I'd want. I need a little more melody, a little less thump. It sounds like her next official release will be called... Orally Fixated. Whatever, she looked great and I used this as the iTunes image for the live rip.

I saw two shows this month: 1) U2 - Their amazing "Claw" set turned the stadium (with 80,000+ people) into a sort of cyberpunk cathedral. Just beyond. I forgot that Bono could sing and entertain. He is a master at what he does, so see them live once. Interestingly, my favorite performance of the night is also their worst single, I'll Go Crazy... they did a brilliant remix of it that was urgent and inspiring (see below).

The other show I saw was Maxwell. What is it with soul singers riffing on the nasty?! In this case, he did a bit about getting down with your lady no matter what time of the month it is. "We can lay down some towels." Oh. my. new. levels. of. girl. power.

Where is the
Charlotte Gainsbourg / Beck single? It's weeks late! The free track (see earlier post) is not a tune that begs to played over and over.

Which reminds me, Me'shell Ndegeocello has a new record out - Devil's Halo- that's pretty cool, sort of like Joan Armatrading produced by Air. She does a cover of Ready For The World's Love You Down that reminds me of her sexy, accessible early work. Me'shell's first and third albums are required music. Period. I will never recover from her ballads Sweet Love and Outside Your Door. She is Maverick Records greatest signing.

The Divine Comedy is recording a new album and... on Twitter!

Erik Hassle's monolithic Hurtful has been remixed by - haha- Penguin Prison - it's proper brilliant. Here. Can now be played in Brooklyn fair trade coffee houses.

My own twitter comment of the week: The music business is like a big one night stand. You hook up with an act for 2 albums and then you say "I've done you. Next!"

Guilty pleasure: The lovely new song Bigger, produced by Max Martin for Backstreet Boys.

Everything that is screwy with Madonna's new hits collection has been cataloged by music wonk @vinnyvero Tech geeks will like this

Bad Lieutenant is New Order singer Bernard Sumner's new band. It's just more of the same, but it's not New Order, you know? Not special enough.

Catherine AD (album out in 2010) gave away some early demos - pretty piano tunes.

If you ran into Kylie on her US tour, she looked like a very small, normal person

Sorry, I just want to tie Mika to a merry-go-round and leave him there, spinning endlessly into oblivion. http://bit.ly/10WsF2 (Mika's new vid). He is relentlessly shiny happy people isn't he?

The Cure has not aged well for me, sadly. Except for a few songs (like Love Song) from Disintegration. They're releasing a whopping 3-disc version next year!

An album I recommend everyone going back to or discovering: Sting's Nothing Like The sun. He was not exactly hungry when he made this, but the fire/passion was still very much there. It's a near perfect double LP and the less-known album tracks sound particularly sterling 22 years on - Straight To My Heart, The Lazarus Heart, Little Wing among them. 'Tis a shame his head is now wedged so deeply up his own rear end.

Gwenno of The Pipettes. Stuck Records did an excellent interview from one of pop's most MIA groups.

Coming out this week, my review of Annie's finally-released Don't Stop. It'll be on American newsstands in the November issue of Instinct, (which now makes you get a free account to see actual online content).

U2 I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight (live):

image from Hedi Slimane

October 12, 2009

Frankie Say Cash Cow! Hide Yourself

It is hard to believe it now, but there was a period of time in 1984 when Frankie Goes To Hollywood was so huge that even The Washington Post did a 1200 word piece (long for a newspaper) on the front page of their Show section in November 1984. Here's an excerpt:

The demand is unreal, said Sheldon Michaelson, buyer at Washington's Record and Tape Ltd. Michaelson said the Georgetown store alone is moving 100 copies a week of both the "Relax" and "Two Tribes" 12-inche records, and even the standard 7-inch single is selling fast. "People come in off the streets and ask, 'When is the album coming?' -- that's wild...

want to be on top of what they think may be the Next Big Thing."They appeal to rockers and disco people, straights and gays," Michaelson says. "They have no form and no substance -- they never do the same thing twice. So people see in them what they want. They're only as controversial as you see it. And the sound is infectious. When they first put it on in the store, I had to come out of my office and ask what it was -- never heard anything like it." Michaelson says he has ordered 2,000 copies of the new album, the biggest order the store has made in a long time -- surpassing even Prince's "Purple Rain."
Frankie's third single, The Power Of Love, is one of my favorites songs of all time (video). It was also their third number one in the UK, though they were knocked off the top after one week by Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas.

On the occasion of yet another Hits collection for the group, Paul Lester of The Times just did a great new piece on the band that's definitely worth your time. Via the same link, you can also see a new video for Relax - one that's depressingly lame until the arrival midway through of a fantastically preserved Holly Johnson.

Frankie, ten blocks from my house and next to some other slightly famous place.

Frankie article quoted above by Joe Brown, Washington Post, Nov 4 1984

For those who want to read something from the era, check out The Road To The Pleasure Dome from The Face's December 1984 issue.

October 10, 2009

In our house made of paper

Still obsessed with Ellie Goulding (and Starsmith and their friend Charlie). Under The Sheets is a great song for autumn. It shimmers.

Follow them on Twitter @starsmiff and @elliegoulding

October 9, 2009

Caught in a bad romance.

My problem with Lady Gaga has always been about the music: I don't like it. It's catchy pop; she does have a handle, for sure, on melody, but she relies on a lot of gimmickry. It's all surface with Gaga, no depth. Aggressive bravado in a bad wig.

But I've also said that if she ever released a song I liked, I'd tell you. Her new single, the Bon Jovi-in-Ibiza raver Bad Romance is - for the most part - Gaga/RedOne by numbers.


The chorus is beautiful. When she actually sings in a full, throaty voice she transforms into a sort of Eurodisco Joan Baez. That voice first appears about one minute in and you instinctively want to hum along with the (anthemic) ohhhhhhs. The moment is ruined when she reverts back to her trademark ba ba oh la la ca ca and it gets even worse when she channels a drunken lounge singer on the verses.

The sound of Bad Romance may be a conscious attempt to close out The Fame "cycle" by sticking to the sound of the debut. I would not be surprised if she follows this up with a completely new set of collaborators. If she's as smart as she seems to be, that's what will happen.

So this is where I stand music-wise. I do admire her forthrightness in urging fans to attend this weekend's Equality March in DC. She'll be here for the HRC dinner with Obama, so her commitment is genuine.

Hear Bad Romance via youtube

The Return Of Charlotte Gainsbourg

Download the title track of her new album IRM now at charlottegainsbourg.com

Not sure what to think of this... it's not much of a song. It was inspired by the sound of the MRIs she had when she suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 2007. It's probably one of those tracks that works better in the context of a full album.

October 8, 2009

WOW: Ellie Goulding's arrival

If you've been tiptoeing around the edges of Ellie Goulding, this song, Under The Sheets, will literally suck you into her cosmos. Absolutely amazing, modern pop music.

Get Under The Sheets free at Neon Gold Music.

Don't you love it when a new artist slams up against your sense this way? BOOM. She's here.

October 6, 2009

Quote of the Week: David McAlmont

Michael Nyman and David McAlmont

First, the quote:
Aging homosexuals standing around in tight muscle t-shirts, talking about the latest DJs, need to go be given a copy of “Death In Venice”
And now the news:

David McAlmont and the composer Michael Nyman have recorded an album together. Like a bolt out of the blue, it's released on October 26 and is called The Glare (which comes from a song on the record about Susan Boyle). McAlmont took Nyman compositions and wrote lyrics for them based on news stories. The first single Take The Money and Run is below. David's myspace also has a sampler for the album.

I have such respect for McAlmont. He has one of the most beautiful voices of our time and he has always remained true to his muse, only doing work he believes in. He is most known for one of the top ten best songs of the 90's, Yes, which he did with Bernard Butler (watch the video here), but he had several good solo albums. If you don't have his Craig Armstrong collaboration, a ballad called Snow, you simply must get it. Ask no questions, just trust.

McAlmont and Nyman Take The Money And Run:

McAlmont and David Arnold Diamonds Are Forever:

Brilliant! And yes, Rufus Wainwright, David did it first.

I know that I love you... Especially when you do all the things I want you to

Congratulations to Lucas Miré on his new album, out now on iTunes and bandcamp, where you can hear the songs. He's a folky, yes, but manages to be the cheekiest loverboy on the troubadour circuit. I suspect many people meet Lucas and think he's going to drag them into the cloakroom for a go-round. I mean, the man put a picture of his pillowcase on his CD... he's got that vibe. He's also a great lyricist... Flat Earth Theory (hear it) is terrific. If you date Lucas, you just might ended up immortalized in song, so be nice and be hot!

Lucas lives in my old hometown, Atlanta, where he has a sexy bachelor pad. That I have never been in.

Look who's having a baby

Will Young.

October 5, 2009

Robbie: Don't call it a comeback

This promo includes a minute-long snippet of Robbie Williams' new song The Last Days Of Disco, which sounds A LOT like a Pet Shop Boys track. Sexy. I may not have said it, but I'm not really a fan of current single Bodies, a song I think tries too hard to be too many things to too many people.

Thanks to Music Fascination

October 4, 2009

2009, The Year of Del Marquis

In other years, you've perhaps known Del Marquis as the cute, quiet Scissor Sisters guitarist in tight pants and suspenders. Over the past 12 months, Del has stepped out on his own, releasing four solo digital EPs - totally DIY - of varied styles. Just released, the final one is a gem, leading with the sterling sing-along Runaround and the more ambient, but accessible Each Time I Reach The Sun. Also look out for his earlier track, Remember Me Young, which revives the sweet, earnest vocal jazzpop styles of late 80’s UK.

You can buy the EP at iTunes US. I jokingly tweeted that Del, who is 32, is the "dignified Scissor Sister," but there is some truth to it. His persona in the band is kind of sly or impish, but I feel like he's emerged as a really thoughtful, versatile musician with his solo work. Del's done this whole project himself, even much of the PR; he even contacted me with a nice note. Here is a little chat that I pulled together with bits of a few email exchanges during the last month.

XO: Your solo work broke apart preconceived notions for me about the actual level of talent in a successful group. I didn't even know you could sing and then you bring out all this music!

Del: I had to understand what I was capable of. That role, as a guitar player, visual performer, occasional studio contributor and live musical contributor, felt empty after two rounds; and I couldn't go through another album cycle unless I created music that was mine alone. These songs gave me perspective.

It seems like you swing between, not avant garde exactly, but a more New York indie-art kind of dance /pop, and then you wheel out these melodic pop anthems, like the new single. Did you begin with the intention of being less pop? Do you feel more comfortable or intrigued with a certain style after doing all this solo music?

Most of the process was new to me, being in charge of the bulk of songwriting, lyrics, piano, bass lines, etc. So there was a naivety to where the song would end up. I’d grab onto an atmosphere or hook and follow that until its conclusion, building the lyrics/story for the song around the how the music felt. I made an effort to combine as many things that I loved: R&B, Rock, Blue Eyed Soul, Folk, Shoegaze with everything sitting comfortably under a Pop umbrella (well, a Pop umbrella from the 80’s). There were a couple main directions that continue to influence me more and more; Blue-eyed soul and R&B. I loved how those white boys from England mixed elements of soul with rock, punk, electro and balladeering. A lot of this music informs the way I sing (Style Council, Prefab Sprout, ABC). With R&B, it was undeniable if you grew up in or around a big urban city in the 80’s and 90’s. It is probably the strongest direction I have in terms of the music I’m writing now, but only interesting to me when put through a blender of my other musical interests.

This "year of living solo," so to speak, has emboldened you to continue with that in the future?

Sometime after the Scissor Sisters tour/album, I'll be at it again.

I am intrigued by how the solo music affects how you feel about your role in Scissor Sisters.
What about the group's new record in 2010?

Thankfully, I can't wait to get back to being 'just' a lead guitar player... my ideas and sound are more a part of these new Scissor Sisters songs than before, I can't believe how good we sound on record with Stuart Price in the mix. I think I've helped to make some of the songs great, and others, I just can't wait to play live.

Hear more of Del Marquis at his myspace and website and check him on the new Microfilm EP out now on iTunes US.