February 27, 2011

When the kidz come out

[Fecking Vevo does not allow embedding for this, so click on the image to watch Kidz]

We wondered where Take That have been. Clearly making a very, very expensive music High Concept video.

Taking bets that this is the opening song on their upcoming tour?

Yes, that is GARY singing on the chorus. #toldyouso

The end devolves into a Superbowl Coke commercial with a pointless extension of the mix.

Howard? As Elizabeth Taylor once shrieked, GLADIATOR!

fast-forward to 2:00

February 26, 2011


Echoes is a new synth band out of London. I first discovered them via the always great Kulpop. If you are fan of Bright Light Bright Light, Lorraine/Black Room or the great pop bands of the 80's, they are worth your attention. The music is melodic, layered and not at all lo-fi. They are so new that their first show will be at the Garage, in London, opening for Matt & Kim and my fave, Penguin Prison. It's on Wednesday, March 23rd and you can buy tickets.

Here are some tracks - note they dared to remix Kate Bush's This Woman's Work and it works! You can download all of these via their Soundcloud.

Kate Bush - This Woman's Work (Echoes Remix)

Echoes - Footprints

Echoes - It Goes On

You can follow Echoes, as one does, on Le Twitter

February 22, 2011

Adele's album is finally available in America

Adele's new album, 21, is finally released in the US today. This is the first great album of 2011 and solid all the way through - no bad tracks. If you missed it, here are 10 Musical Thoughts on Adele's 21.

And yes, Adele did beat the juggernaut that is Lady Gaga to hit #1 on the UK charts! I am currently obsessed with what may be the second single, Set Fire To The Rain.

February 21, 2011

Until everything is fireworks, everything is love

How To Make A Heart from Bright Light Bright Light .

Rod Thomas, aka Bright Light Bright Light - is launching a series of videos for songs from his upcoming album, Make Me Believe In Hope. How To Make A Heart is a shimmering beauty. I love how Rod's particularly honest voice is always right up front in the mix. The middle eight (bada bing) is really stunning.

Though the song is not available for download,
you can can download the video, which is the next best thing. The lonely robot film - it's quite sad! - was created by Gavin Leisfeld, who also did the gorgeous Sailor Song for The Gadsdens.

February 18, 2011

If you're the chosen one

Nice smoke rings.

We're inching closer to a Wolf Gang album. Their last single was the gorgeous Lions In Cages (video below). The new track, Dancing With The Devil, is rockier, but just as melodic, with a fantastic, Elton John-ny middle eight (especially at 2:40). The video, above, reminds me of Keanu Reeves' scenes in Coppola's Dracula, when the horny vampire chicks crawl into his bed. What indie band doesn't need models hungry for blood and sex? Kind of cliched, but I love the band and the track. The album, out in May, is called
Suego Faults.

Wolf Gang - Dancing With The Devil

The previous single, Lions In Cages:

February 17, 2011


Beth Ditto I Wrote The Book.

Thank you, Beth Ditto, for a proper, lush homage to Madonna's Justify My Love. I love everything about this track, the sound of which is reminiscent of two club classics: Good Life by Inner City (thanks Zen!) and the Ben Watt/Estelle collaboration Pop A Cap In Yo Ass. And the lyric!

Revenge, regret
I wrote the book
Forgive and forget
I wrote the book

Heartbreak and then some

Tell me, where is a friend when you need one?
Before you take a second look
Remember I know every trick in the book

Beth always takes it a beat beyond fierce. She's not that simple. Forgive and forget.

February 16, 2011

There'll be trouble when the old men come out

After a long hiatus for the holidays, Take That are back into their album promotion with their hammering new single, Kidz, my favorite song off their superb new album. The group appeared on The Brits a few nights back, but I felt there was something off.

First, naysayers, it is GARY on the chorus, not Robbie. 17 Days confirmed this and he has reason to know...

Torr pointed out that, lyrically, the song is uncannily reminiscent of the student protests in the UK this fall, but the performance has shades of the Middle East uprising. Being the philistine that I am, I did not get any of that from it myself, but I can see why Torr did.

There are too many people on stage for this performance. The boys can barely be seen in the chaos happening up there. At least put them in lighter-colored costumes. Worse than the clothes, though, is the strange lack of exuberance from a band opening the Brit awards with such a fierce song. With the exception of occasional moments of Robbie mugging and waving his arms, there is literally no connection with the audience or any sense of fun.

Back to the clothes. The boys look... ghastly. The pants! And why have the dancers strip down in an All The Lovers liberation homage? Why not have TAKE THAT strip down? That 's all anyone wanted to see. RIGHT?

The Brits version of Kidz is on iTunes now, and the single is out on February 21 with a new b-side called Rocket Ship

February 15, 2011

This week's obsession: Burn

We continue to wait patiently for Clare Maguire's debut album (February 28th). Despite working with a lot of producers, all of the tracks on Light After Dark were produced by Fraser T Smith because she wanted it to sound cohesive. Intriguingly, she has been in the studio doing new stuff recently with Starsmith. The track below, a pre-order bonus on UK iTunes, is the first of that collab to be heard. CANNOT WAIT.

We still have time to burn, you and I.

February 14, 2011

Ye Olde Vampyre vs Overblown Media Hypemistress

Madge in Berlin, yesterday

Nothing pleases me more about the Twatter than sparring with
@ChartRigger. Robbie has honed his many of years of Madonna loathing into a fine, spiked art form. Now comes the news that aging discolette Robbie actually likes Lady G's meh new single, Born This Way. Slag. This has given him vicious new material about THE QUEEN (Madonna), whom he likes to call a vampire. Here is a short slice of our tweets on Friday night...

and this time, I slumped away, defeated. There will be other battles...

If you enjoy this smut and want to read more, follow us both (XO / ChartRigger) on Twitter and hope for kismet.

In the meantime, while Robbie's Lady is trolling the Staples Center stage in a large condom, lopsided hat and cheap prosthetics, THE QUEEN - 75 singles and 37 Top 10 songs - is in Berlin, showing the movie she directed. Who's a vampire? How will Gaga look at 53? Worse than this, for sure.

Preemptive strike: The movie, W.E., may end up being shit, but she looks damn fine. Madonna is set to record a new album this year.

All the lovers

Happy Valentines Day! XO I will be back tonight...

In the meantime, a crazy fanboy - that is not me - made this tribute to Belinda Carlisle, singing a fave of mine from the 80s, Valentine

February 11, 2011

Beautiful music, beautiful woman

Some amazing new photos of Adele. Her album has not worn out on me. My current obsession is Set Fire To The Rain.

February 9, 2011

XO SAY: Move with me over the thrill of the 12 inch

In 1983, the music journalist Paul Morley, record producer Trevor Horn, and a lady name Jill Sinclair created ZTT Records - or Zang Tumb Tuum. In their 80's prime, the label was home to an amazing collection of artists, notably Art of Noise, Propaganda, Grace Jones, Anne Pigalle and a group intrinsically connected to the label, Frankie Goes To Hollywood. The music was unlike anything on the charts, taking chances in and fraying the edges of pop music. ZTT also excelled at visuals - incredible album packages with weird slogans and order forms for badges and bags.

Over the past few years, ZTT has remastered many of their great albums. Anyone who wants to understand 80's British pop needs to own the insanely gorgeous Welcome To The Pleasuredome, Frankie Goes To Hollywood's opus. That package is worth it alone for the 9 minute 12" version of The Power Of Love, one of the finest British ballads of the era and a landmark song for producer Trevor Horn.

Last week, I received a really wicked package in the mail containing several new ZTT releases. All three were released this week in the UK at budget prices:

A deluxe package for Frankie Goes To Hollywood's second (and final) album, Liverpool. It has the original record, plus b-sides and out-takes. Also included are the 20-minute cassette single mixes of Watching The Wildlife and Warriors of the Wasteland. The packaging is opulent, though we need to face it: the album was not that great. The liner notes joke about how electro bands at the time all went rock. And it failed.

Update: Due to legal issues, this FGTH remaster was never released and has since been pulled from ZTT's schedule. Second update: It's out now!

Also in the package is a new 2-CD, 150 minute collection of rarities called The Art of the 12", which includes mixes and rarities by Propaganda, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Art of Noise, 808 State, Glenn Gregory (Heaven 17), Andrew Poppy, Anne Pigalle, etc. The title of this post comes from my favorite track on the collection, another Frankie remix, this one the 12-minute Rage Hard mix with its suggestive narration ("an essential part of the 12" is the climax...").

The most notable CD is a collection of hits by Claudia Brücken, former lead singer of Propaganda. It has that group's hit singles (Dr Mabuse, p:Machinery and Duel - video), along with a collection of solo singles and new tracks, including Night School and Thank You, both co-written with and produced by Stephen Hague (Pet Shop Boys, Blur, New Order). Cloud 9ine was written with Depeche Mode's Martin Gore. My favorite of the new songs is a cover of Bowie's 1984 classic This is Not America, done with Frankie's Paul Rutherford.

If you are an 80's aficionado, you need to check these out and keep up with the ZTT releases. I am really waiting for Anne Pigalle's album, Everything Could Be So Perfect. It passed me by as a kid, but now I find it fascinating.

Claudia Brucken Thank You (2011):

Frankie Goes To Hollywood Rage Hard (1986):

February 7, 2011

Cover Story: Clare Maguire

Gorgeous. Gothic Revlon? This album is going to be brilliant. I assume


Are You Ready?
Shield and Sword live in studio
The Last Dance video
I Surrender hear it here
Happiest Pretenders
Sweet Lie
Break These Chains
You’re Electric
Ain’t Nobody video
Light After Dark
This Is Not The End below

Stream samples of all the tracks via Amazon UK and 7 Digital.

Roisin Murphy: I'm ready to be redeemed!

Today - even in the US! - Tony Christie and Roisin Murphy release their AMAZING new duet, 7 Hills. It's like a lost swinging 60's classic with massive horns and lyrics all about jazzed up sinning and pleas for redemption.

Get it today on iTunes US or UK from Tony's new album, Now's The Time

Follow news on Roisin from the Roisin Murphy Blog

February 5, 2011

Cover Story...

The Telegraph has launched a Lego Album Covers Quiz. They were created by a 21-year-old British artist named Aaron Savage. As a former Lego obsessive, I LOVE this.

The image above is obviously the wicked Blondie cover for Parallel Lines. Below is Lily Allen's cover. Tots adorbs, as one says...

February 1, 2011

George Michael re-releases Faith TODAY

Today George Michael releases multiple deluxe editions of his 1987 debut solo album, Faith. My favorite GM album may still be Listen Without Prejudice, but Faith is like his Thriller. Virtually all hits. Here is George, below, at his most "iconic," with the hair, sunglasses, and The Stubble...

I got into a nerdy fracas with someone on the Popjustice Forums last week. They implied that George didn't really have any depth. And I popped off:

Woah! So he follows up his huge-selling Faith with a properly introspective 70's singer/songwriter album that has a number of very personal manifestos on it (Freedom, Waiting, Something To Save), follows that with Older, an album immersed in grief and then follows that with an album including songs like My Mother Had A Brother and Round Here - and you say he did not dig into his psyche? Throughout his career he consistently upped the ante. I would agree that pot has dulled his senses, but to see him cast a "just" a pop star to Annie Lennox's deep artistry is kind of flat out totally wrong.
Jonathan Ross reports that he's heard new GM material and that it's very good. I think most George Michael fans can agree that he should cut the cannabis and lucidly record a new record. He certainly has enough emotional material to work with, yes?

Xolondon's Top Ten Plus One George Michael Songs*

Fastlove my favorite, without a doubt.
Everything is perfect. The casual sex theme is unrepentant and refreshing, really. I love the bit at 3:25 where the song breaks down and shifts into an amazing middle eight: "In the absence of security.." when you realize that the whole tramping around behavior is a reaction to the loss of his lover: "I miss my baby tonight" One of the best uses of a sample (Patrice Rushen) ever.

followed by, in no order:

Freedom '90
Perfect encapsulation of its era. He did a great version of this for MTV's Anniversary too. Anyone have that?
Something To Save
It's the songs that don't try too hard that are often the finest. This song stands up to the great pop artists of the 70's that George idolized: Elton and Stevie Wonder.
Jesus To A Child
This came out around the time of my first trip to England. A bold choice for a single: a pristine 7-minute ballad. The part at 5:17- "for every single memory has become a part of me" - always gets me. Heartbreaking.
Do You Really Want To Know
This was released at the height of AIDS paranoia and media coverage. He could have done a great video for it.
Kissing A Fool

Jazzy, smooth George. If you are a pop fan, you have probably attempted to belt along with this song. And failed.
Precious Box
Just a few years old, this song returns to the elegant disco of his earlier records.
Too Funky
A strutting dance track. I have a memory of this song that I cannot share on this blog. Everybody wants a lover like that...
Round Here
There is often a of love in George's lyrics. This is a sweet memory of Wham/Andrew - a take on Elton's Captain Fantastic, autobiography as pop tune. "Let me show you where I lived... music felt like rain to the streets."
This Is Not Real Love
I think I am the only person who loves this song. Mutya is brilliant and GM was sharp as a tack to choose her.
Waiting (Reprise)
This is here for the final lines: "Here I ammmmm" - I'm pretty sure he opened the Cover to Cover Tour with this, but he sang it - ironically - from behind the curtain.

My favorite covers - he does a lot of them - are: If You Were My Woman, I Believe When I Fall In Love, I Can't Make You Love Me, Killer/Papa Was A Rollin' Stone, Edith And The Kingpin, As, First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, and These Were The Days Of Our Lives.

*solo only.
Secretly , my favorite GM track is dippy: Last Christmas.