12.29.2008

my 20 favorite singles of 2008

I love me some list making. So here's the first of many...well, a few. OK, at least two.

My 20 favorite singles of the year...with videos!

[20] Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!


[19] The B-52's - Juliet of the Spirits


[18] Pop Levi - Dita Dimone


[17] Neon Neon - I Lust U


[16] The Saturdays - Up

[can't embed the official video, but it's out there]

[15] Hercules & Love Affair - Blind


[14] The Music - Strength In Numbers

[again, no official version embedding but here's a live version]

[13] Van She - Changes


[12] Ladyhawke - Dusk Till Dawn


[11] The Breeders - We're Gonna Rise

[there wasn't an official video, but here's a nice fan one]

[10] The Whip - Blackout


[09] The Ting Tings - Great DJ


[08] Hot Chip - Ready For The Floor


[07] Elbow - The Bones Of You

[once again, no official embedding etc, but trust me you should go watch it because it's beautiful...but here's the Abbey Road version anyways because it is also pretty fantastic]

[06] The Kills - Cheap and Cheerful


[05] Kaiser Chiefs - Never Miss A Beat

[lots of embedding disabled this year...so here's a live version on Later...]

[04] Annie - Songs Remind Me Of You / Song Reminds Me Of You

[technically not a single, but SO FUCKING GOOD. Shame the album is in limbo...]

[03] Lorraine - When I Return To The World
[umm...so this one isn't on youtube anymore. :( So umm...here's the video for 'Transatlantic Flight', which is 2 years old and not quite as good but it apparently will have to do.]


[02] Parralox - We Believe In Electric Love
[grrr, another one not there...so here's a live version of the almost as good 'I Fell In Love With A Drum Machine' instead - what a title! - instead]


[01] Alphabeat - Boyfriend

[hands fucking down]

Albums to come.

12.28.2008

thank goodness for small favors

I just wanted to take a moment to say how thankful I am that those stupid slidy case thingys that made a brief appearance in the early 00's as a "neat" alternative to your slimline single case - I first came across them with Suede's 'Positivity' DVD single, and later again during the singles campaign for the first Kasabian record - have seemingly disappeared. A fine idea, sure, but horrible execution that generally ended with the slipcase being too tight around the [incredibly cheap] plastic disc holder, that usually ended up with at least minor damage to the sleeve/case/etc. [My 'LSF' single case is now entirely unuseable. :(] So hooray!

I also wanted to take a moment to reflect on what a piece of shit "A New Morning" is. CHRIST it's bad, isn't it?


'Positivity', in case you've forgotten :



I mean, really. Even the artwork was shockingly horrible.

12.18.2008

music is my boyfriend

It's hard to believe that it has been five years since the Hidden Cameras came into my life.

I remember the moment distinctly -it was April 2003 and I was working as the program director at WCVF, the more traditional college radio station - if you will - of the two stations that were housed under the Fredonia Radio Systems umbrella at SUNY Fredonia. My friend Jay was the music director and - knowing my love for absorbing all the new music I could - generally gave me second dibs [after himself, of course] at the new music that came into the station each week. This particular week, two 7"s from Rough Trade caught my eye. One was a white label 7" for the Kills new single 'Fuck The People', which I thought was an AMAZING name for a band and a song and I was prepared to have my mind blown by it. The other was the Hidden Cameras' 'Ban Marriage' backed with 'Fear of 'Zine Failure' - my friend Melissa in London had been raving non stop about these guys for weeks and, since our musical tastes tended to overlap quite a bit, I was curious to see what all the fuss was about.

I got back to my apartment that afternoon and put on the Kills record first. Now, over time I've come to realize I made a hasty judgement but I was massively disappointed. Here was a band called the Kills with a single called 'Fuck The People' for christsakes, and the best they could come up with was some poorly-recorded 2-minute country-rock romp? Talk about not living up to your name. Due to that one listen, I refused to give the Kills a chance - even when I couldn't stop hearing good things about debut album "Keep On Your Mean Side", even when I was told no, I was wrong. I didn't want to hear it - they had disappointed me, and I wouldn't reverse my opinion on them until a curiosity listen of 2005's "No Wow" changed my mind. I still think the song itself is a bit of a disappointment and "Keep On Your Mean Side" remains my least listened to - and least favorite - Kills record, but that's neither here nor there.

So I then put on 'Ban Marriage' and instantly I am blown away. AMAZING! I couldn't believe the musical euphoria that was coming out of my speakers. Fully entranced for four minutes and enjoying every second of it, I couldn't wait to see what amazingness was hiding away on the b-side. Well, as great as it is, 'Fear of 'Zine Failure' was a bit of a let down after the revelation that was 'Ban Marriage', so it put the a-side on again. And again. And a fourth time. Incredible. I e-mailed Melissa to let her know, however I also regretfully said that as brilliant as 'Ban Marriage' was and considering my reservations about the b-side I wasn't sure I could stomach a whole album of it. Trust me, she said, the album is incredible.

My best friend at school and main musical companion was Jennie May, whom also worked at the radio station. [Which reminds me, I need to return her call.] Anyways, I had her over after she got out of class to play this amazing piece of vinyl for her and she also falls in love. We can't wait for the full length.

So maybe the next week it was "The Smell of Our Own" lands on our desk and we instantly put it on. We love it, but aren't blown away by it. 'Ban Marriage' is the best thing here, we think, though we're also drawn to 'Smells Like Happiness' and 'Breathe On It'. Then there was the artwork! Bums, bums and more bums! Amazing! And the slightly shit-stained sheet ghost with a boner. Incredible! And is that a penis-topped dagger? So good.
After the first listen, I think perhaps they blew their wad too soon - so to speak - with 'Ban Marriage' and clearly there's no way the album can live up to it. Jennie May is infatuated with it, however, so she takes it home and listens to it a zillion times I'm sure.

That next week during all of my calls to the promoters, I'm talking with Justin at AAM whom is promoting this particular record. Having already gushed about how much I loved the single to him, he asks how I like the full length. Eh, it's OK I say. Really he asks, because he was sure I would love it. It's not that I don't, I say, it just doesn't quite live up to my expectations - which I admit were unnaturally high. I comment on how much I love the artwork, though, and he tells me he'll send me a few copies of the LP - on gold vinyl, no less. BRILLIANT! I'm sold and am willing to give the album another chance. He also tells me they're touring that summer and that he'll hook me up with tickets to whatever show I can make it to as he hears they put on quite the live show.

So May comes, and the album is released on my 23rd birthday. Since I can't tear the station's copy away from Jennie May and the vinyl hasn't arrived yet I go out, purchase a copy and give it a good, solid listen at home alone. This time, more sinks in. 'Golden Streams' - I get it! It's not about the pee, it's about what the pee symbolizes. 'A Miracle', 'The Man That I Am With My Man' and especially 'Boys of Melody' - I get them! That feeling of totally giving yourself over to someone - or someones.

Now I tend to be hyperbollic anyways [really?], but I will say in all honesty that this particular listen of "The Smell of Our Own" did something to me. At the end I still thought it was missing something - it didn't quite all fit together yet - but I really felt like it was speaking to me. It was written to me. Maybe because I was going through a lot of shit at the time, that could be part of/a lot of it. Maybe I was really looking for that next band to really, truly love and I was making it into something it wasn't, that could be it to. But after that listen, I felt like - for the first time in a long time - I had made a connection with this album. And this is all terribly cheesy and cliche and all that bull shit, but fuck it. I'm not afraid to say it, I fell in love - like really, truly in love with this album, and I needed it in my life. It was, if you will, the album I had been waiting for. Jennie May thinks I'm crazy - it's just a really amazing album she argues - but to me at that time, it was way more than that.

Ahem.

So. The two of us together and I alone played the hell out of that album for the next two months. Come July the tour hits Cleveland, which is 2 hours away from Fredonia. Would I like to go, wonders Justin? Why, of course say I! Even better, would you like to interview Joel Gibb, head Cameras? Hell yeah! So Jennie and I pack our DAT and microphones and head to Cleveland. I reviewed the show for Excellent Online and I don't think I can say it any better than I did the first time, so I send you here (webpage gone - sorry!) for that part of the story.

So now I've had my mind blown not once, but twice by this band in a three month span. There's something to this. I spend the rest of the year sucking up any and everything related to the band I can find. In December, I find out they're playing a special Boxing Day show at Lee's Palace - "The Union of Wine" show it is dubbed - so I meet up with my friend Jason in Toronto and off we go. Equally incredible, this show, especially because they play no less than 8 new songs for their already forthcoming second album - all of which [except for 'I Want Another Enema' which I don't totally get after only one listen] are ridiculously great. My favorite is a number called 'No Gay Goth Scene' and I can't wait for the album so I can have a hard copy of it.

Over the course of 2004, I lived and breathed the band. I saw them six times I think, including: once with the Toronto Dance Troupe for their "We Are The Same"/"Skin & Leather" show, where they unveiled 'Men: Vous Etes Les Memes'; the "Mississauga Goddam" launch party where they played in a church; the Toronto Harbourfest where they debuted the songs 'Awoo' and [I think] 'Why I Understand' and the heavens opened upon us during 'Ban Marriage' in one of the most perfect concert moments ever; and opening for the then relatively then unknown Arcade Fire at SUNY Ithaca where they played 'No Gay Goth Scene' at my request and I heard newie 'Lollipop' for the first time. Knowing nothing about the Arcade Fire except that there's no way they can top the Hidden Cameras, we leave - a move people have called crazy over the years but one I stick by. [The Arcade Fire are shit. Seriously.] There were more shows in there, but those were the most memorable.

[Side track - at the Harbourfest show, the band on before them - and I have NO idea who they were but they weren't very good - did have a moment that trumped the Hidden Cameras. So they're playing and they're pretty boring. Then they announce it's their last song - hooray, my bands on soon. And they want to invite out a very special guest for their last song. Joel Gibb perhaps? No, they announce please welcome...

...

...

...

{Are you ready for this? People flat out refuse to believe me when I tell this story but I swear on everything I hold near and dear this actually happened.}

...

...

Margaret Atwood to the stage! WHAT!?!? And Margaret fucking Atwood walks out on stage and stands there in the middle of the stage. What on earth is going on? So they start, and there's a part of the song where each member takes turns singing and don't they include Margaret Atwood in this. She can't really sing very well, by the way. Oh, did I mention that she's PLAYING THE THEREMIN THE WHOLE TIME?!?!?!? It was ridiculous.]

Anyways.

My anticipation for "Mississauga Goddam" for the first half of the year is intense. I simply cannot wait. First, we get the "Play the CBC" sessions EP so we get a version of 'Music is my Boyfriend' to listen to on repeat for a while...but I'm holding out for the big one, 'No Gay Goth Scene'. Finally, Melissa manages to get her hands on a copy of the album and shares it with me. Track by track, she sends it to me. 'Fear is On' - alright! 'Builds the Bone' - fantastic! 'In the Union of Wine' - hooray! 11 tracks I get, and each one I'm already pretty intimately familiar with from seeing them so many times, yet there are still 2 new ones - 'That's When The Ceremony Starts' which I love, and 'Mississauga Goddam' itself which I knew of but had never managed to hear live.

What's this, though? Where's 'No Gay Goth Scene'? That's right, IT'S NOT THERE. :( *Sigh* Maybe on a b-side or EP or something. So we get the 'I Believe In The Good Of Life' single - two new songs in 'I Burn My Seed' and 'Divide' - nice, but not what I wanted. Full versions of 'High Upon The Church Grounds' and 'Steal All You Can, Motherfuckers' - again, incredible [particularly the latter] and Joel did say they were coming at some point, but again not what I want. Obviously, I'm still waiting for this one to appear - and amazingly, I've never been able to find a bootleg of it even. [If anyone out there can help me at all, you'd be my favorite person in the whole wide world.]

So in 2005, my Hidden Cameras live affair started to cool down, but I did still manage to see them 2 1/2 times I think. Once in Boston with my best friend from high school Brent [who totally loved it, by the way], where I got to speak at length with Maggie from the band. I requested they play 'No Gay Goth Scene' if they would be so kind, and she said she'd love to and would run it by Joel but wasn't sure if they'd get to it - they had had trouble crossing the border and barely made it to the show on time, so tensions were running pretty high and the setlist had already been written. We didn't get it, but we did get a very nice full-band version of 'Worms Cannot Swim Nor Can They Walk' to open the show and a few new preview songs from the still in the works "Awoo". She did say that the band love the song and it should come out some time soon. [Still waiting....] I reviewed that one too, and it is right here. (gone again - damn this internet) This was also the show where the guy in front of me kept turning around and hitting on me even though I made it very clear I wasn't interested - I wanted to DANCE, muthafucka! This year also included the final time - so far - that I've gotten to see the band, at the "In The Graveyard" collaboration with the Toronto Dance Troupe that November. Sadly, my last Hidden Cameras live experience was a bit of a disappointment as I didn't realize they were only playing new material - outside an encore of 'In the Union of Wine' - and I honestly didn't really think the new material was as compelling as the older stuff.

Before the album comes out, another mega-fan by the name of Mark emails me - having come across my review of the Boston show. We share stories and love for the band via emails for the next few months.

Flash forward to 2006 and "Awoo" finally comes out - all not having 'No Gay Goth Scene' on it and everything - and the magic has started to fade. It's a solid record, don't get me wrong, it just doesn't do it for me like the others do. It's missing something - besides the holy grail of Hidden Cameras songs, of course. To this day I can't put my finger on exactly what it is. Mark and I reconvene our emails to each other, and we both agree that "Awoo" is a bit of a disappointment.

And here we are today. The last I knew, they toured Europe in the Spring and shot a short film that was shown at a Calgary [I think] film festival that has yet to be released outside of that. The film is supposedly tied in with an album to come in 2009, but is it a Hidden Cameras record? There are no details. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

So that's my walk down memory lane. Over the past five years, "The Smell of Our Own" has only become more special to me - I can't think of an album as important to me as it. My initial fascination with "Mississauga Goddam" - the indie-pop "Very", I say - has faded to appreciation for a really solid pop record. I can't remember the last time I had the urge to listen to "Awoo" - sad, really, as there are some really classic songs on it. I'd love to see the band again in a club setting, though I'm a little afraid all this time away will make the experience less special.

Tour again and prove me wrong. Please.

A live version of the song that started it all:


Single of the decade right there, no doubt.

12.16.2008

from the horse's mouth

Charlottehatherley.com has this wonderful news to report:
--
Charlotte Hatherley’s new record CINNABAR CITY is the second solo album to be released on her pet label Little Sister Records. Never one for aligning herself to some spurious musical trend, Charlotte makes a virtue of having a true independent spirit that allows such an adventurous and eccentric approach to song writing to flourish in an increasingly unadventurous and compromised world full of safe landfill indie, bandwagon followers and weak-kneed solo artists. Cinnabar flits between prog-pop, pop-punk and electro-junk whilst still standing as an original, highly melodic and cohesive body of work, one that truly delivers the goods in these credit-crunched times. Recorded in a focused and frenzied week in South London with Luke Smith (ex-Clor) conducting, the tracks were thrown down live, Charlotte taking care of all guitar heroics, TV Gary on bass and Rob Ellis on drums. With a light dusting of Rundgren and Roxy keyboards sprinkled on top of the thick guitar filling and added sparkle provided by Alan Moulder (Arctic Monkeys, Smashing Pumpkins)the album now stands as a tasty slab of visceral thrills ready to be unleashed to the world in 2009.
--

Hooray! The 2009 list starts growing...

'Kim Wilde' - one of my Top 10 singles of the '00's - from 2005's "Grey Will Fade":



'Behave' from 2007's "The Deep Blue":

12.11.2008

who knew?

OK, so earlier this year Oasis did something shocking. Release an amazing album? Not quite. They did something I thought they'd never do - something they've probably said they'd never do, actually, I'm sure someone could dig that quote up somewhere. Anyways, they released a remix for a single b-side. Not only that, but the only b-side to their comeback single 'The Shock of the Lightning' was a Chemical Brothers remix of album track 'Falling Down'. Gasps were heard throughout the Oasis community.

Come single #2 - 'I'm Outta Time', released last week - not only are there more remixes for b-sides, but there were 2 separate 7"s released as well. [I'm sure someone could dig up a quote about no CD1/CD2 ever somehwere too, and with the death of the CD2 format this is essentially the same thing.] Anyways, this time there was a trio of remixes - one of the title track by Twiggy Ramirez [which is shit, as the a-side is kind of shit], the Jagz Kooner 'Shock of the Lightning' [which is AMAZING as Jagz Kooner generally has that effect on things] and - best of all - a Neon Neon remix of album track 'To Be Where There's Life' which, I must say, is hands down the best thing Oasis have put their name on since, oh, 'Step Out' on the b-side to 'Don't Look Back In Anger'...which was 13 years ago. I hate that turn of phrase, but it's true - everything between then and now [except 'One Way Road', I suppose, as it's pretty fantastic] could not exist and it wouldn't matter.

Who knew that what Oasis really needed was a dance makeover? Because seriously, this shit works. Bring on the full length Oasis remix record and it could be the best thing they've ever done.

Sadly, I can't find clips of any of that on the internets, and the original versions would just ruin it. So head on over to iTunes US where you can buy them for 99 cents each. Trust me, it is well worth it.

Update: I did find the Jagz Kooner mix on YouTube. Enjoy:


12.10.2008

pardon me if I'm not bursting at the seams with excitement

According to an article on NME.com, the long talked about second collaborative album between PJ Harvey and John Parish will be called "A Woman A Man Walked By" and will be released on March 30th - presumably in the UK, who knows about a US release.

No disrespect to Ms. Harvey, but especially after the slightly underwhelming "White Chalk" this news doesn't exactly thrill me. I mean, "Dance Hall At Louse Point" isn't exactly her finest work now is it?

Personally I'm still waiting for that swamp-rock record that was suggested by 'Crawl Home', though I suppose that is unlikely to happen.

Oh well - it will be interesting at least.

A live version of 'Taut' from "Dance Hall" :

12.09.2008

I still recall your banking details

I just use my 100th post to take the opportunity to remind everyone how freaking amazing last year's "Hey Venus!" was. I haven't listened to it in a bit - possibly even since catching the tour back in January - and it still sounds amazing. So there.

I missed having an SFA album this year - "Stainless Style" had its moments but it certainly couldn't compare to the real thing - and I look forward to whatever 2009 brings us.

Last year's SFA Holiday card - the hysterical 'The Gift That Keeps Giving' video:



Merry Christmas indeed!

[2008 wrap up forthcoming.
]

12.07.2008

when you've seen how big the world is how can you make do with this?

Let's talk "This Is Hardcore" for a minute, shall we?

I haven't always liked this album. In fact, when it first came out I hated it with a firey passion. Pulp had never been my cup of tea, but this one was so full of itself, had such an air of pretension, was just so over the top I couldn't deal with it. A few friends of mine at school turned it into one of our many music related long running jokes. "This is hardcore." "No, THIS is hardcore." "No, no, no - THIS! IS! HARDCORE!". And so on.

A few years later - while waiting in line to see Robbie Williams I believe - the conversation turned to Pulp and, specifically, this album. I was with a group of Pulp fans and they were arguing its merits against "Different Class", and the conversation had me fascinated. The album they were describing and the album I remember were not the same. I wanted to hear their "This Is Hardcore", because it sounded amazing.

The next day, one of said friends lent me her copy and I rushed home to put it on and fall in love. Except, I didn't. Sure, I liked it more than I remembered, but I still didn't hear what they heard. "It's a grower," they said. Sure, I guess...I mean, over the course of a few years I had gone from despising it to not minding it if it was on in the background, but I certainly couldn't see myself reaching for it, needing to hear it like they did.

Gradually, though, that's exactly what happened. A few months later I came across a used copy - with "This Is Glastonbury" bonus disc - relatively cheap and figured what the hell. At least if I decided to get rid of it, it probably wouldn't be too difficult and I might end up making some money on it. [Taking a minute to check eBay, a copy just sold for a whopping 99 cents so I guess that was a poor investment...was it to turn monetary, that is.] Anyways, I put it on again and liked it a little more.

Over the years, it has grown on me more and more until a few years ago, I had that magic listen. You know the one - the one where everything clicks and you finally get it. The one where you get why an album is so special, where it reveals enough of itself and allows you to love it. Whatever I was missing before made itself known, and I fell in love. Hard [core, sorry]. Mostly, that is. I wasn't sure about the last third of the album - 'Seductive Barry' on, and now typing that I didn't get 'Seductive Barry' seems absolutely silly since it's so FUCKING FANTASTIC.

Ahem.

Anyways, I got most of it. Tonight, I finally got the rest. 'Seductive Barry' had revealed itself to me a while ago, but I was still missing the point of the final trio. "They just don't fit," I'd think, and go back to the beginning...or pretend that 'This Is Hardcore' CD1 the single was the last part of the album, because the flow of 'Ladies' Man'/'The Professional'/'This Is Hardcore [End of the Line Remix]' made a better end in my head.

Now I get it, though. "This Is Hardcore" is an album of three parts. 'The Fear' through 'Help the Aged' is the call to the party, if you will. 'This Is Hardcore' through the first half of 'Seductive Barry' is the party itself, with the long meandering last half being the come down. The album ends with the part I didn't get - the attempt to save yourself from what you've become in 'Sylvia', the acceptance of what you've become with 'Glory Days' and 'The Day After The Revolution' takes stock of what's left of you now.

Or something like that. It's late and I'm tired, but that's what I took away this time. I can't wait for my next listen to see what jumps out at me then.

"Different Class" may have been the era-defining album for many, but more importantly it's the album that allowed Pulp to make this: their masterpiece and one of the greatest albums - in the sense of a true album, something that is missing more and more these days - of the '90s.

Then you get to the deluxe edition, with a solid set of b-sides and a fascinating set of demos. This is where there's a piece missing, though - the demos sound like they're getting ready to record a completely different album. Many could've been on a "Different Class II", which they clearly decided not to make. So I'm not sure how they got from there to what ended up on the album. Maybe demos of some of the album tracks would help fill that in or maybe there's another set of demos out there that didn't make it, I have no idea. As great as the deluxe edition is - and it's pretty friggin great - I'd love something like a Rhino Handmade edition of this one. [Yeah, right.]

As for everything else they've ever done, I could take it or leave it. It is how it is.

12.04.2008

hooray for legal free downloads!

Modular has very nicely made the Fan Death remix of Ladyhawke's forthcoming third - and best yet - single 'My Delirium' available for download - for free. You don't even need to enter a fake e-mail address or anything of the sort - simply click here and download away. It won't be on the physical release - in stores on Monday in the UK, we never get anything good in the US - so grab it while you can.

It's pretty darn good - perhaps not as good as, say, the Chicken Lips take on 'Paris Is Burning' but a hell of a lot better than the pretty dull 'Dusk Till Dawn' remixes. What a missed opportunity those were.

Hooray for free stuff!

there's nothing wrong with me that can't be cured by photography

Whale are/were one of the greatest underrated bands in the whole wide world, and "All Disco Dance Must End In Broken Bones" is one of my favorite albums ever. Full fucking stop. I say that a lot, I realize, but if I had to pick my 10 favorite albums, this would be one of them. Perhaps even top 5.

To this day, I still cannot track down a copy on vinyl. It has to exist - Hut put everything out on vinyl back in the day. I've the 12"s for all three singles - and they're three of my most loved 12"s - but I cannot put my hands on the album itself. Of all the music related things in this world I covet, this is also possibly in the top 5. Scratch that - it's number one. There's not a day that goes by that not having it doesn't haunt me. :(

An AMAZING live version of 'Four Big Speakers':



[How is the proper video not up on You Tube? Poor Whale never get the respect they deserve.]

Umm..that's all the related video I can find. It's a crime, I tell ya.


Just in case we're not clear: I. Love. Whale.

12.02.2008

squeal

Posted on petshopboys.co.uk a few days back:

--

Mixes of all twelve tracks for the new Pet Shop Boys album were finished today. (See Pet Text right.) As previously announced, the album has a provisional release date of March 23rd.

--

Date is on the calendar. In pencil, as they tend to be particularly finicky about final release dates and such.

Related, even though the song they co-wrote for the Girls Aloud album is the next single from said album, it sadly doesn't seem that there will be a PSB maxi-mix this time. :(

11.12.2008

i'm not in love with this packaging

This is the packaging for the CD format of the new Pet Shop Boys produced Sam Taylor-Wood sung cover of 'I'm In Love With A German Film Star'.

In case you can't tell, it comes in one of those...half slimline cases, for lack of a better term, that were introduced a few years back to save space on shelves. I myself never cared for them, but they were nice to keep burned discs of files, or if you were making a mix - say- that way you only had to design one piece of artwork instead of two. Or whatever. They have their uses.

HOWEVER

As the final product from a record label that someone is going to spend their hard-earned on, that is going to become a piece in a collection - NOT OK. At the very least, there's no spine information so now it looks silly on the shelf.

Overall, it is a very cheap packaging schematic and had I known this was what was going to show up in my mail box, I would've either ordered the 12" or skipped the release altogether on principle.

However, now I'm stuck with it, so maybe I'll rip it and re-sell it. Actually, not a bad idea. Hrm.

Record labels, are you listening? You need to retain the physical format purchasing segment of the music consumer population - a segment that is quickly diminishing.
We want something that looks nice - this does not.

11.07.2008

chasing out of control spotlights

So.

The past three weeks have brought us new albums from two of the biggest names in UK pop this decade and the debut from [yet another] girl group fighting for your pop dollar. How'd we, as the pop consumers, fare? Let's take a look, shall we. In ascending order of quality:

[03] Girls Aloud - Out of Control

First off, horrible artwork. Yikes.

Second, a song written by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, produced by Xenomania, and sung by Girls Aloud should be WAY more impressive than "The Loving Kind" turns out to be. Shame. [Hopefully this isn't a sign of things to come for the tenth PSB album next year.]

Third, coming off of their strongest album yet - last year's fantastic 'Tangled Up' - I was hoping for a bit more. The whole thing comes off a bit underwhelming. Bland, actually, which they shouldn't be. They've been mind blowingly amazing ["Sound of the Underground", "The Show", "Love Machine", "Close To Love", etc.], they've been painfully shit ["I'll Stand By You", "See The Day", about half of the album tracks from the first two albums], but they've rarely been dull. Shame.

Fourth...well, there's some shocking stuff here. Girls Aloud go reggae! ["Revolution in the Head".]
Girls Aloud go jungle! ["Live in the Country" - though, actually, this is one of the few OMG AMAZING moments here, but it is also quite laughable.] Most of it, though, is just generic Girls Aloud. Sad. :(

[02] Sugababes - Catfights and Spotlights

We are in serious need of quality control for Sugababes mk III. If you don't want to be the electro princesses you once were, fine, but stop putting out shit. I hoped 'Change' was a misstep and they'd get it back on track this time, but I guess not.

That said, there are a pair of AMAZING ballads hiding in the middle of the album "Unbreakable Heart" and especially "Sunday Rain" are possibly the two greatest slowies they've ever recorded - but it is saying something when the ballads are the highlight of a Sugababes album. Again, sad. :(

[01] The Saturdays - Chasing Lights

A-MAZING. Nothing less than passable here - well, "Issues" would be MUCH better if the lyric was actually "can't decide if I should stab you or kiss you" instead of "slap", but what can you do? - and much of this is knock you over the head brilliant pop. Including the most "if they don't make this a single they're certifiably insane" moment of 2008, "Keep Her". Seriously, listen to this shit:



That's what the Sugababes should be putting out at this point in time, not terrible Jackson 5 knock offs. For those three minutes alone, "Chasing Lights" wins the Pop Throwdown of October 2008. Well done, ladies.

11.06.2008

shock horror

OH. MY. GOD.



Fast forward to about the 2:30 mark to see what I mean. I don't even care much for the song they're butchering, but Jesus Christ - why?

:(

10.22.2008

hmm

I'm undecided on this new Björk single that's suddenly been thrust upon us. [Well, perhaps thrust is too strong a word...]

On one hand, it's a bit like one of those old Elgar Sisters songs that were used as "Debut" b-sides taken to the next level - in other words, pretty fantastic.

On the other hand, there's not much to it. Some big drums, Björk yelling things in [presumably] Iceland, Thom Yorke moaning in the background...and then after almost 4 minutes, it fades out.

I just don't know.

10.15.2008

are you fucking serious?

So : apparently Hum have reunited for a one-off show on New Year's Eve at the Double Door in Chicago.

Which is within walking distance from my brother's apartment. [Or was before he moved, and he didn't move far, so it possibly still is.]

I can't go and am insanely jealous of anyone who can, lucky bastards.

:(

10.14.2008

it's cool to know nothing

Now that I've a proper copy of it, I cannot stop listening to the new Kaiser Chiefs single. I try, I really do, but I keep getting drawn back to it.

Nice move, boys.

In case you've forgotten, this is how brilliant it is :



My excitement has been re-ignited - bring on the album!

10.10.2008

two things

One : This is the new Depeche Mode logo. What do you think?

I must say I quite like it. It reminds me a bit of "A Broken Frame" for some reason - perhaps because the "D" is framing the "M". While that is by no means my favorite Depeche Mode album, this new logo makes me feel happy for no real reason. Album 12 could be a good one...though I'm basing that solely on the logo. [That said, I was also a big fan of the font used during the "Exciter" campaign and we all know how that turned out.] We shall find out in April 2009, apparently, if good logo = good album.

Two : After much deliberation, I've decided that The Saturdays are quite good. A bit sample happy, perhaps, but 'Up' might win the BIG POP SHOWDOWN of October 2008 with themselves, Sugababes, and Girls Aloud all releasing new singles staggered over the course of three consecutive weeks. The video is quite snappy too :



The b-side - fittingly entitled 'Crashing Down' - is also storming :



I like when pop acts put out b-sides. I also like when said b-sides are quality. So yay. I just wish everyone hadn't gone all anti-CD2 all of a sudden, leaving us with no commercial remix release. Poo.

10.09.2008

let's play a round of hooray!/boo!/hooray!


Hooray!

Jeppe - aka Senior of Junior Senior - has solo material in the works...and has for some time, I'm just a bit slow on all of this.

Boo!

He's being talked about as "Jeppe, formerly of Junior Senior". Are the mighty Junior Senior no more? That would make me very sad. Like this -> :(

Hooray!

He's got a clip going around of his new single 'Big Boy'. It looks and sounds like this:



A-mazing.

10.08.2008

we can make him sing

Do you remember how brilliant this album is? Like, really and truly remember how flat out amazing "Adam and Eve" actually is?

You might think you do, but if you haven't listened to it in a while I'm willing to bet you don't fully remember it.

Put it on and you'll see.

How I miss this band. *sigh*

'Delicious' :



[Is that really the video for that song? I suppose I'd never seen it, but I thought the stills from the promo single for the song were from the video. I guess I assumed wrong.]

10.02.2008

dig out your wallet

Full disclosure - I'm not exactly what you'd call a gigantic Oasis fan. "Definitely Maybe" has its moments, and you can make an amazing album by putting together a carefully selected tracklist from "[What's The Story] Morning Glory" and its b-sides...most of which are stronger than the album tracks. I haven't bought an Oasis album since "Standing on the Shoulder of Giants" [which, along with "Be Here Now", I sold back to the record store years ago]...between the two album campaigns, there was a grand total of four songs I thought were great - 'The Fame' from the 'All Around the World' single, and then 'Fuckin' In The Bushes' and 'Go Let It Out' from "Shoulder" proper along with - the best of the four, I think - 'One Way Road' from the 'Who Feels Love?' single. [I only know about the b-sides because my old roommate Steve was a huge Oasis fan and bought all the singles, allowing me to cherry pick the ones I wanted.]

Second point - I've been having a lot of discussion lately with people about how the "digital revolution" has caused quite a bit of damage to the packaging market. Singles aren't released in the elaborate foramts they once were - both good and bad, I suppose - and physical releases are slowly but surely becoming an afterthought. However, on the flip to that, there are those artists that realize that and are making up for it by offering increasingly [and unnecessarilly] elaborate limited editions for both albums and singles, seemingly to attract the crowd - such as myself - that laments the slow death of the physical music formats. That said, most of them are taking it way to far. From Radiohead's "In Rainbows" discbox - I'm all for buying multiple formats of an album but I want a choice, and making purchasing an $80 box set the only way to get a bonus disc of otherwise unavailable material totally turns me off...especially since it's entirely redundant with both CD and LP versions of the same material - to Bjork's ridiculous singles boxes, I'm starting to wonder if they're not having a hand in killing the format. [Whoa run on sentence. Sorry about that.]

The points merge - I'm very interested in the new Oasis album...but not for the album itself as much as the bonus disc material. Two Jagz Kooner remixes! That said, the only way to get it is - you guessed it - a super pricey, overly elaborate deluxe edition. There is a "standard" deluxe edition - if you will - coming out as well, but it only has a DVD with a 20 minute EPK on making the album and the first video. Boring.

So basically, by trying to appeal to a long lost fan and format whore, they've totally turned me off and now I don't care how good the Oasis album is - and supposedly it's quite good - I refuse to buy it because [amazingly, considering how many of them there are] I can't get it in the format I want. So fuck 'em.

album number 2? hooray!

According to various people on the PopJustice boards who caught Dragonette on their [very] mini tour of the US in September:

1 - "Galore" is finally getting a US release in October. Pop on over to amazon.com and they've got a pre-release up for October 24th. There's nothing new or different on it - come on, give us a disc of those "Competition" remixes, I want a nice clean copy of The Whip one! - but considering it is also only list price $12.99, I shall be buying a [second] copy to support em. Huzzah!

2 - Even more exciting, they're working out international label details and hope to have album #2 out in January. I honestly thought we had another of those bands who put out an amazing debut then disappeared due to disinterest [there's a lot of them littering the 2000's], but it looks like that is not the case. Double huzzah!

Their fantastic take on Calvin Harris' 'The Girls', 'The Boys' [put this on as a bonus track or something, it's a-mazing!] :


9.25.2008

three word album review : "Ladyhwake" by Ladyhawke

Pretty fucking fantastic.

[Next single : 'My Delirium' - the best one yet.] :


9.23.2008

fun with promo blurbs

The following is taken from the little promo blurb sticker on the back of the 'The Bones Of You' 1-track CD promo - the only physical format of the single "available" :

'Elbow's fourth album is their masterpiece' SUNDAY TELEGRAM
[correct!]

New Single - Physical 29th Sept / Digital Available Now
[incorrect!]
TAKEN FROM THE MERCURY MUSIC PRIZE NOMINATED ALBUM 'THE SELDOM SEEN KID'
[correct - but now we know they won. hurrah!]

Elbow contine the most successful year of their career with a new single on 29th September. 'The Bones Of You' follows the massive success [???] of 'One Day Like This' and has been a live highlight through the band's sold out UK tour in April and their highly praised sets at Glastonbury, Delamere Forest and Latitude. The band make their final festival appearance of the summer at Scotland's Connect Festival on 31st August. Elbow's fourth studio album, 'The Seldom Seen Kid', from which the single is taken, has been one of the critical hits of 2008 and nominated for the Nationwide Mercury Music Prize, the second time the band have been nominated during their career. [I thought all four albums got nominated, but apparently I was incorrect.] The band embark on a full UK tour in October, including three shows in London and two in their native Manchester due to an overwhelming demand for tickets.

Then there are tour dates. So what have we learned?

- At one point, there were plans for a physical release of 'The Bones Of You', but apparently actually winning the Mercury Music Prize means "CANCEL ALL FURTHER PROMOTION FOR SAID ALBUM!". Yuck. [PJ Harvey got a third single when "Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea" won - beating Elbow's "Asleep in the Back", actually - so why can't the boys?]
- Barely scraping into the Top 40 for a band that generally hits it with no problem is apparently "massive success" - such success that they CANCEL ALL FURTHER PROMOTION FOR THE ALBUM. Grr.
- I'm 100% positive that "Asleep in the Back" was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize as I remember being torn that year as it, the aforementioned PJ Harvey album, and SFA's "Rings Around the World" were all up and I couldn't decide which one I wanted to win. But I swore that at least "Cast of Thousands" was nominated as well.

Hrm. Oh well. Here's a[n old] picture of Guy waving:

Photobucket

*swoon*

9.16.2008

infinity's not as fast as me

I'm having a bit of a love affair with this album at the moment.

It might sneak up and be a surprise spoiler when the 2008 list comes around. We'll see.

"Swords of Truth":


9.13.2008

the kids on the street

After being a bit underwhelmed with "Yours Truly, Angry Mob" - it's no "Employment", is it? - I was having a hard time drumming up excitement for yet another Kaiser Chiefs album in 2008.

First single 'Never Miss A Beat' is out there, and at first I wasn't impressed...however by the end of the video - complete with a group dance routine! - I'm feeling cautiously optimistic.



We'll see. The album is out October 28th in the US, the week prior in the UK....of course.

9.12.2008

I hate myself and want to die

So I was thinking the other day: "Hey, isn't it about time for another Rogers Sisters album?" Then I promptly forgot that thought and went on my merry way.

About 2 minutes ago, I had the same thought. So I popped on over to their myspace, only to find the headline reading "BYE BYE" and a blog entitled "FINI" dated June 25th stating that they had retired.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK. :( All the good ones die young.

In their honor:

'Why Won't You' from 2006's "The Invisible Deck" :


A live version of 'Song For Freddie' [the song that made me fall in love with them] from 2002's "Purely Evil":


I never got to see them live. :(

9.11.2008

maybe I should have been more specific with my wish

Three pieces of Elbow:

1 - Old news now, but they [finally!] won the Mercury Music Prize for "The Seldom Seen Kid". Huzzah!

2 - To celebrate, 'The Bones Of You' is getting a single release. Huzz...wait, what's that? It's a UK iTunes only release with merely a live version as the b-side? Boo! This is the one that should've been the single all along, and all we get is a piddly digital release? I want another proper single. :(

3 - To ease those wounds, their recent appearance on Live from Abbey Road has shown up on YouTube. Since there's no US airing in the foreseeable future, check em out:

'The Bones Of You':


'One Day Like This':


'Grounds for Divorce':


The official 'The Bones Of You' video is also out there, but they've disengaged embedding at YouTube. Just do a search and it's the first thing that pops up. It is - of course - wonderful....although, I'll take any excuse to stare at Guy Garvey, so there you have it.

guy garvey

Drool. Have I mentioned how much I fucking love this band?

By the way, it's September now and still no word on the b-sides album. :(

9.02.2008

should I still love you?

Let's talk about "Pablo Honey".

It is one of those albums that's been essentially disowned by not only the band who created it but also the core of said band's following. But oh, how wrong they are!

True, it is not a very accurate representation of the band - even as soon after its release as "The Bends", it was very clear that the newer album was more what Radiohead was all about. That said, it is probably their most honest record, the one where they wear their hearts on their sleeves and embrace them, warts and all. There's a lot here to be embarrassed by - blatant hero worship, half formed ideas as lyrics, etcetera - but for me, that's why the album is so easy to love.

On a basic level, it's such an honest record, and maybe because if brings me back to a place and time so well, but I just love how it sounds when I put it on.

I'll just come out and say it - it is my third favorite Radiohead record behind "The Bends" and "OK Computer". It does way more for me than the purposely difficult "Kid A" and "Amnesiac", the snorefest of "Hail to the Thief" [talk about a band sounding like they're trying too hard!], and whatever the hell "In Rainbows" was supposed to be but clearly isn't. Accuse me of not moving on with the band - fine. This is the Radiohead I fell in love with, and this is where I want to stay.

'Creep' [of course] :



'Anyone Can Play Guitar' :



*sigh*


9.01.2008

yes, but where's the techno album?

According to this nme.com article - which itself is sourced from a BBC 6music interview - the next Super Furry Animals album is going to be instrumental. I'm intrigued, though am hoping for more along the lines of '[A] Touch Sensitive' than 'Cowbird'.

No idea when it's going to come out - I swear I read somewhere they are contractually obliged to put out an album a year for the three years from 2007-2009 for Rough Trade, but I might have made that up - but I think it would send 2008 out in lovely fashion.

The aforementioned '[A] Touch Sensitive', one of my favorite Furry tunes and videos - and a song I wish they'd reintroduce to the setlist:


8.28.2008

good deal

The Ladyhawke album is up for pre-order at amazon.co.uk for a ridiculous £5.98. No idea why it's so low, but with VAT discount and shipping it comes to around $16. If the singles are anything to go by - and PopJustice's raving about it - then that's the deal of the year.

'Dusk Til Dawn':


electrical is the way to go

[Thanks to Joe and Dingo for both passing this along to me - you boys know me too well. ;)]

We'll just get down to it - Parralox are fucking hott. Apparently they formed back in February, are from Australia, and are responsible for 'We Believe In Electric Love' which is one of the most amazing pop songs of 2008 so far. [What's up with all the pop love from Australia lately? Speaking of, I really need to get the Van She album.]

There's no YouTube videos to post that I could find, but pop on over to their myspace to check it out. Avoid 'Black Jeans' while you're there because it's a bit shit - sample lyric: 'I wear black jeans on my ass'...seriously? - but also check out 'I Fell In Love With A Drum Machine' [amazing title] and the megamix. Lots of megamix love lately...I'm glad to see it return as an artform. :)


So thank you California boys. I am in your pop debt once again.

8.26.2008

I was hoping they'd do this

There have been a ton of fantastic remixes to come out of the Whip's "X Marks Destination" singles so far. Being the fan of remix and repackage that I am, more than once I thought "wouldn't it be nice if they put together a remix album?"

Apparently they read my mind because such a thing hit iTunes today. While the tracklisting leaves a little to be desired - and no vinyl release makes me very sad - it's another fantastic way to enjoy possibly my favorite album of 2008.

01 Frustration [Van She Remix]
02 Trash [Crookers Remix]
03 Muzzle No. 1 [Bloody Beetroots Remix]
04 Frustration [Hadouken! Remix]
05 Trash [South Central Remix]
06 Blackout [Ashley Beedle's Next Generation Edit]
07 Frustration [Black Affair Instrumental]
08 Muzzle No. 1 [The Black Ghosts Remix]
09 Sister Siam [Bitchee Bitchee Ya Ya Ya Remix]
10 Frustration [Hearts Revolution Remix]

4 remixes of 'Frustration' out of 10 tracks seems a bit much - especially since one of them was just released on the 'Blackout' pacakge. Personally, I was hoping more for the "Telegram" route where each album track was represented but what can you do? A bit of a missed opportunity, but I'm glad to see it. [Though it seems to imply that there won't be any more singles from the album, since this is essentially a single for 'Frustration'. Oh well. No 'Fire' remixes after all. :( ]

8.20.2008

this makes things more interesting

Apparently, a Fred Falke remix going to be part of the Sugababes' 'Girls' package. That makes me very excited.

On an unrelated - outside of being about another brilliant pop band - note, a video for Dragonette's 'Competition' finally surfaced. Will we get a single after all? Probably not, but here it is in super low quality [the fidelity, not the video itself - it's awfully fantastic and fantastically awful]:


8.19.2008

...For me today, I really see this as the gateway Smashing Pumpkins album - there's still parts of the old band I loved peeking through, but there's also glimpses of what they band would become in there messing everything up. Mostly, I find it hard to listen to because it signifies the end of a very special band at the beginning of an insufferable one.

8.18.2008

i've been waiting for you to belong to me

So apparently there's a new Emiliana Torrini single and album coming out next month. They're both called 'Me and Armini' and the the single sounds something like this:



Someone's decided to use a sound that's been working lately, haven't they?

In actuality, it's nowhere near as dull as the awful "Fisherman's Woman" but not quite as good as the charming "Love in the Time of Science". So I guess the moral is I don't really care anymore. Oh well.

[How has absolutely everything that GusGus has splintered off into turned into complete shit? Outside of the stunning Daníel album, of course. The Blake/DDD/whatever Mangnus is calling himself these days tracks are quite fun too I suppose. OK, so not everything is shit, but the stuff that is is shit enough to make up for the good stuff. Right?]

8.16.2008

he's not your boyfriend, he's mine

So I've been on the fence about Alphabeat - it took me a while to get into it, but 'Fascination' grew on me. Follow up single '10,000 Nights of Thunder' was more of the same, but it kind of bored me.

Third single 'Boyfriend', however, is brilliant. That amazing pop single they seemed capable of making but hadn't quite found yet.



Even better is the Alex Metric remix.


It's quite Daft Punk, isn't it?

Of course, they're not putting out a proper remix single release - only a 2-tracker with a cover of 'Black and Gold'. The remixes are only available digitally in the UK, or if you go promo hunting...which I am more than happy to do, of course.


8.13.2008

that's heavy, man

My copy of the new Supergrass single 'Rebel In You' - only available through Supergrass records and only on 7" - just came in the mail. It's gorgeous.

Numbered edition [I got 226], hand signed by the band [only the first 200 were supposed to be signed, but hey I'm not complaining], super duper heavyweight white vinyl. [I thought there were like 3 7"s in the package it was so heavy.] Hooray boys!

Off to give it a spin and see if the b-side 'Car Crash' is any good. [I'm not exactly holding my breath - Supergrass b-sides tend to be hit or miss - but maybe they'll surprise me. "Diamond Hoo Ha" is way better than I thought it would be.]

8.12.2008

is that all there is?



I can't help but feel a bit disappointed.

That said, I didn't like 'Push the Button' much at first either, and now I think it's one of the greatest singles of the '00s, so perhaps it'll grow on me.

Here's hoping.

8.11.2008

is it album six already?

According to the ever fantastic PopJustice - from whom this picture was nabbed - the also ever fantastic Sugababes have a new single out in September entitled 'Girls'. It's the first single from the as yet untitled sixth [!!!] album, due out in October.

They assure us it is brilliant, and I'm generally one to trust their opinion. So bring it.

Let's hope the album as a whole is better than "Change" - a bit of a step down, wasn't it?

8.07.2008

happy birthday Siamese Dream

I'm about 10 days late on this, but can you friggin believe that "Siamese Dream" came out 15 years ago on July 27th? FIFTEEN years old. Christ, we're getting up there, aren't we?

For whatever reason - maybe subconsciously I knew it was its birthday - I've been listening to it a lot lately. Like, a lot a lot. And somehow, it has only gotten better with age...which is pretty amazing considering how fucking fantastic it sounded back then.

Forget what came after it, be selective about what you remember from before it, but always keep in mind that it is one of the greatest albums of all time. Full stop.

'Cherub Rock' : [album openers rarely get better than this]



'Rocket' : [videos rarely get better than this]



'Disarm' : [via "Vieuphoria" - I've always LOVED this version]



I could go on and on. *sigh*

7.28.2008

everything you do

Previously, I was mostly aware of Van She from their remix work - specifically, their wonderful overhaul of Dragonette's 'I Get Around'.

Well, they've an album entitled "V" coming out in a few weeks, and the single is called 'Changes'. It is similarly wonderful - in a way that rarely happens when you investigate a remixer. Usually, you find out their original work isn't quite up to snuff. [Hello Timo Maas, for example, or Chicken Lips as Dingo tells me and I'm taking his word for.]

I'd post the video, but there's no audio for some reason. So go to their myspace to listen to it. It's worth the click, I promise.

7.23.2008

dream attack, part 2

So on the way home from work this afternoon, I decided to do a little record shopping...

...OK, so I totally went to track down a used copy of Technotronic's "Pump Up The Jam - The Album" after the whole Binghamton incident...

...But anyways, especially after the dream I had I figured today was as good as any to go track a copy down. No, I didn't run into Fred Schneider [though how fucking cool would that have been], but I did run into my friend Steve whom I used to live with many years ago and haven't seen since I kinda abruptly moved out on him back in the Spring of 2004. Whoops.

Obviously, the dream was a sign. He's in town from NYC for a few days because his mother - who is awesome and was my date to see "Velvet Goldmine" back in the day because Steve didn't want to go see it a second time and she did - had surgery on her shoulder and he came back to help her out - and we're having dinner tomorrow before he flies back home on Saturday. The end.