November 30, 2011

Up in '12: Beatrice Eli

Popjustice recently made Beatrice Eli's debut track The Conqueror their Song Of The Day. Out of the blue, she is really strong. From what I can tell, she's quite young, but has one of those cracked wise-beyond-my-years voices. It's just one song so far, but: 1) I think she's Swedish - which means she is born superior! - 2) her first song sounds ready for the big time, 3) she has the goods acoustically - here is the proof and 4) hey, it's pop... she's visually striking too.

Beatrice Eli - The Conqueror

Follow Beatrice on Twitter. The Conqueror is out January 16, but she's going to light up the blogs this week, no doubt.

The Nicola: Bringing me up, bring me down

I feel like a yo yo yo yo...

Of all the clothes she tries on in this video, she chooses the purple velvet dress?

Had she chosen the black dress, the video would've had a happy ending. Trust!

If Vevo messes with the embed, click here to watch the clip. Nicola Roberts

November 25, 2011

Mary Jane shuts it down

For all the bitches who say La Blige can't sing live, watch this and repent.

Need Someone To Love You, live on Jools Holland

Commuter Love

Having just gotten back from a trip to London that involved what I calculate to be about 20 trips on the tube in five days, I am impressed by I Am A Camera's new single, Commuter Love. That city is filled with people I'd gladly drag down a tube tunnel for some "commuter love." Style and beauty moving fast through London town...

I'd love to tell you more about this band, also Londoners, but there is virtually nothing available on them. They're a duo and they create electronic music, s'all I know. The single is out December 4. They don't yet have a finished album - that's coming in 2012 - with some of it produced by Cameron McVey, aka Mr Neneh Cherry.

I Am A Camera - Commuter Love

Don't be thrown by the opening seconds of this video. The music, reminiscent of Human League, finally arrives 24 seconds in.

Follow I Am A Camera on Twitter

November 22, 2011

Patrick Wolf's bearing gifts

New EP! Brumalia. Out December 4.


(alternate mix)
Time Of Year

Hear samples at Amazon UK.

November 20, 2011

Rihanna, The Hottest Girl In The World

Today Rihanna releases Talk That Talk, her umpteenth album in 6 years, this one just as rushed as her last opus, Loud. To celebrate, Riri has been adding photo albums chock full of personal snaps from her vacations, recording, tours etc. They are actually quite amazing and tell an alternate story of who she is. Be sure to catch them on her Facebook page.

Here are a few to wet your... appetite.

*Note, my hard drive/iTunes is DEAD, so I have not yet heard her new album, though
Where Have You Been sounds beyond.

November 18, 2011

What London gave me

I am in London today. My first solo visit in many years. I've been coming here since 1995, when BritPop exploded. England has always been about music; there is always a soundtrack associated with each trip. Here are some songs that will forever be London and me.

Dubstar Stars | Memory: Sitting on my bed in a cute b'nb on Ladbroke Terrace in Notting Hill playing Stars over and over, having never heard it before that moment. That song has to be in my top twenty of LIFE.

The Divine Comedy Something For The Weekend | Memory: The CD cover catching my eye during a three hour spree in the Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street - my idea of heaven, long since lost. I'd not heard of the band, but this song and the album cover were all I needed. I'd end up seeing Neil at an afternoon show in a TINY club in Virgina over ten years later.

Coldplay Yellow | Memory: Coldplay's debut single Yellow had just come out in July of 2000, the first time I was in London alone. The single cost like 1.99, so I thought "why not?" and ended up buying the album on that trip too. I still think this is their best song. Chris Martin looks like a 13 year old beggar in this video.

Keane Your Eyes Open | Memory: Another song that has never worn out on me, it's so beautiful. We had this moment with Keane, where male vocals were 80s style swoony and lush. I first heard this song lying on a hotel bed near Paddington. I remember it was a hot May and my traveling companions were napping while I played my new CDs on a Walkman. I also remember sitting by the lake in Hyde Park for hours, watching people. The best.

November 17, 2011

Yasmin tokes up in Cuba

I've spent much of 2011 getting all torqued over Yasmin, a new pop diva who has the potential to go far. Her first two singles On My Own and Finish Line were blazing. She's also one of the most beautiful girls to hit pop in many years. And now we have her third single, Light Up (The World), out in January.

And it's terrible.

This is barely a tune propped on a rickety reggae beat. It showcases... what? The cleverest thing about the song is its punny title, placing "The World" in parentheses to emphasize...well, the toot toot.

That said, the video, filmed in Cuba, is gorgeous. She can't look bad and she actually smiles a lot, a rare thing in pop. Big money was spent on this, but its reliance on Ms Dynamite makes me wonder if Yasmin's route is more cliched than I'd hoped. Not even Freemasons can really save this one, and that's saying something...

Light Up (The World) (Freemasons Edit)


Let's just go back to the 'Masons mix of Finish Line, which is BLINDING.

Finish Line (Freemasons Pegasus Club Mix)


November 15, 2011

Mixtape: When we see London, we see...

So much has been happening. I'm sick as a mouse in an icy gutter, my hard drive with itunes on it died this week (so my iPod is suspended in time, no new music), and imma bout to hop a plane to London! I wanted to be there when it's lit up for Christmas, which reminds me of...

Every year there is one whackadoodle Christmas album - this year it's Weiland (good GOD!). I am excited about the She & Him Christmas LP (and yes, I will listen to Buble... why not?)

The Nicola was flipping the switch for the Christmas lights in Manchester this week. She looked super fetch.

Kate Bush is in Word. I have to admit I am nervous about this album - the kind of thing I may never play? One track, Misty, is 13 minutes long and the whole thing is slowwwwww.

Would you like to see Simon LeBon's doggies? Here they are.

An actual quote from Seal in The Guardian: "Contrary to popular belief, when my wife first saw me – in my cycling shorts – it wasn't my front bottom she liked, it was my bottom!" Whevs, Seal, your new album is another cheapass soul covers affair. Rod Stewart much?

Michael Stipe was never a "nice guy", always willfully odd. And he is so clearly over REM in this Guardian interview. I've decided that he almost ruins their gorge new song We All Go Back To Where We Belong by wailing in the last 20 seconds in a most grating way. Hear it for yourself.

The Guardian also interviewed Wee Willy Young a few weeks back and the gist was that's he's got it all figured out at 32. Right. Words of wisdom? "A low V neck is a no-no." he warns, wrongly I think. And then there's this bon mot: "There are still lots of people who don't want to think about" – he pauses and laughs – "anal sex, to be honest. And I don't have a problem with that." It's actually a really good interview that manages to include clothing advice and anal sex in one piece!

And then there is Laura Marling, interview by The independent. She is only 21, 11 years Will's junior and she is already over the music business! "In some ways, I'm just passing time until I can have children. I love music and I will make music always, but this lifestyle is already getting to me." Oy vey Laura! I should add that I saw her perform this fall in a synagogue in DC and it was literally amazing. Her voice was even better live than on record, the band was tight, the arrangements varied and she's really funny. See her live this time around - she has a major future in music.

If Marling decides to go AWOL, Beth Jeans Houghton is waiting in the wings. She's almost too much of the Marling Mumford ilk, but the new single Liliputt is solid.

I hope ya'll have seen in his new incarnation, Fingersnap, doing Amy Winehouse while he's signing CDs. I sound JUST LIKE THIS while paying bills...

I doubt I will ever play that Bjork album again. Seriously. Where are the songs. I know some will disagree, but I think it's her worst album.

Foxx On Fire is a new London band I am digging. Their single March Into The Sun is shimmering and harmony laden.

Have you seen how cute Nick Heyward is at 50? CHECK HIM OUT. He's recording a new album with Haircut 100, no joke.

My friend Doron interviewed Nerina Pallot for Notion Magazine. Nerina got up to some trouble this week when she basically tweeted that Little Boots new track, Shake, is shit. Whoops. I actually like Nerina more now!

Still loving my tumblr and still tweeting wayyyy too much... catch me there or on the streets of Londontown.

November 14, 2011

This Isn't Everything You Are

Didn't see this coming, but I like the Snow Patrol single, This Isn't Everything You Are, and I LOVE the video. It deftly moves from gritty to gorgeous in seconds (and back again).

If the Vevo embed bungs up, watch it here.

November 13, 2011

Pet Shop Boys, formatted

Pet Shop Boys just announced via the Cambridge student newspaper ,Varsity that in February they are releasing a new bsides collection covering the years 1996 to 2009. It will be called Format.

We’re putting out another B-sides album in February, like an ‘Alternative’ part two. But we’re calling it Format,” says Neil, referring to their classic B-sides collection from 1995.

Chris sounds a little concerned, “We’re not announcing that yet, are we?”

“Well why not - these things are usually leaked through some Japanese website anyway. I’d rather it came out here,” insists Neil. “It’s all our B-sides from 1996 to 2009, starting with The Truck Driver and His Mate”.

“Oh I like that song,” Chris pipes up, “It’s just our little tribute to Oasis. In fact Jon Savage pointed out that it’s the chord change from Some Might Say. Though he’d better not put that in the sleeve notes when he writes them.”

“Actually I think some of our best songs are B-sides,” declares Neil, “Because on a B-side you can do what you like”.
I don't have strong memories or favorites from the b-sides of that era, as I do earlier tracks like Miserablism or Decadence. A few that do leap out:

The Truck Driver and His Mate

The Boy Who Couldn't Keep His Clothes On
We're the Pet Shop Boys
Delusions Of Grandeur
The Resurrectionist
We're All Criminals Now
My Girl

Which ones are the best of those years? Remind me!

November 9, 2011

Tell me I’m the only one, though it’s not the same

As was the case with Uh Huh Her's debut single, Not A Love Song, three years ago, their new one, Another Case, is SEX. Love it. Rock'n'roll on a highwire.

Sometimes you hear a song and think "this is ME" - and no one would ever know.
I like that.

November 8, 2011

Duran: No supermodels were harmed during the making of...

Girl Panic!

What a masterstroke. Duran Duran produces one of its best videos ever for its finest song since 1993's Ordinary World. In fact, Girl Panic! is essential Duran: tribal percussion, a fizzy rhythm section and synth lines as exhilarating as anything on their classic, Rio. The jagged final minute of this song is pure class.

Girl Panic!, the video epic, has London, champagne and Polaroid cameras [the older, cooler version of a cell phone snap?] and loads of Sexy. Tons of girls in skimpy leather, licking each other groupie style. Naomi probably does the best job, playing Simon, but Yasmin LeBon has the best moment as the side-man guitarist with no name ("As you know, we tend to change guitarist players a lot" quips as Cindy Crawford as John.).

John interviews Cindy playing John

Funny how the supermodels have aged better than the men (bar John Taylor, of course). Imagine that.

Should the Vevo embed not work for you,
click here.

November 7, 2011

This little bird

Birdy's debut album is out today - an all-covers affair, bar one original, Without A Word. Check out the sampler below - I particularly like her redo of The National's Terrible Love. It's a bit more uptempo, with a full band and geetahrs. I'll Never Forget You, originally recorded by Francis And The Lights, is a weepie, while her Phoenix cover, 1901, is actually rougher than the original.

Birdy -
Jasmine Van den Bogaerde - is only 15, so this album is apparently a way to "soft launch" her career as a proper singer/songwriter. She's giving away the gorge Fleet Foxes cover now:

Birdy White Winter Hymnal FREE download

Note that the iTunes special edition adds covers of Mew and Smashing Pumpkins.

November 4, 2011

Cover Story: Kate Havnevik

A graphic MOMENT from The Havnevik. Her album, You, is out soon. Here is a teaser, Castaway:

November 3, 2011

Review: The Sound of Arrows' Voyage

In the game of pop music referencing, Sweden's The Sound of Arrows might be "Pet Shop Boys seated with Vangelis and a children's choir in a cathedral pew." Whether that sounds epic or dire is down to you, but there's no doubt that Voyage is a strong debut. Aside from the vehemently Neil Tennant-y Ruins Of Rome, it only takes a few plays to forget those other artists and hear The Sound of Arrows on their own merits.

In the age of building a group's presence on the Internet, independent bands like Arrows often shoot their glitter gun before the album is ever released, bringing out multiple singles and leaked tracks. What we'd already known of Voyage, like the gauzy Into The Clouds (watch it) and Nova (watch it) is here, but they've saved some of their best work for long-player. The eight-minute There Is Still Hope epitomizes synthpop grandeur, while tracks like the jaunty Conquest, in which vocalist Stefan Storm seems to channel a young Green Gartside of Scritti Politti, are concise and melodic.

There have been numerous electropop duos over the past few years - Visitor, Monarchy, etc - most sliding into oblivion, but there's something warmer about The Sound Of Arrows. For some, the music on Voyage will take them back to the 80's, when pop stars actually tried to make cohesive albums. Today's bedsit electro noodlers will recognize an expensive sounding model. Either way,
the disco storming Wonder (watch it) implies that, surely, there exists a sexy planet with magenta skies where these tunes rules the airwaves.

Voyage teaser, set to There Is Still Hope:

Voyage, out November 7, comes with a second disc - an instrumental version of the album.

November 2, 2011

Quote Of The Week: William Orbit

William Orbit
on completing Madonna's album:
Feeling like that we’ve [been a] part of a special moment in all of our careers. Including M’s. Who, I have to say has amazed me anew in unexpected ways during the last few months.

It's never too late for Ghosts

WHO: Simon Pettigrew of Ghosts, the excellent Britpop band that released one underrated pop gem of an album, The World Is Outside, in 2007 before getting caught up in a nasty legal battle with, you guessed it, their music label, Atlantic. Among their greatest songs were Stay The Night and my favorite, Stop.

WHAT: Never Too Late is a powerpop epic culled from sessions for Ghosts' unfinished second album. Say You're Mine is more of a midtempo from the same period.

WHEN: You can buy it right now for 99p but it's not clear when or if Ghosts' next album will emerge. If you like that band, you'll love this song. Try it, it's cheap! You can also still buy their debut on iTunes or for a UNDER a pound on Amazon Marketplace.

You Need This Song: Everybody's On The Run

One of rock's great disappointments has been the inability of Oasis to live up to its first two albums. Their second disc, (What The Story) Morning Glory was the soundtrack to my first trip to England, so it now resides in a golden hue, pretty untouchable. There've been a few random gems since then, like 2008's Falling Down, but over the years the band have always sounded like they were trying too hard to make hits. Coupled with that was the fact that Liam's voice began to wear pretty quickly as he barreled his way through tracks.

Everybody's On The Run is the lead song on Noel Gallagher's long overdue debut solo album. And it's fucking stunning. A top tune. Aside from the anthemic "you gotta hold on" Britpop hook, Noel goes where he hasn't since the early days. He delivers actual beauty in the final two minutes of the song, in the form of a heartbreaking string break. This is lighters in the air, arms aloft stuff. Well done.