missing comma, not missing excitement

Elbow delivered an early Christmas present today by sharing on their Facebook that their fifth album will be titled 'build a rocket boys!' - LOVE the exclamation point! - and will be released in the UK on March 7th. (A bit earlier than I thought it would be, so bonus surprise!) The artwork is over there and the tracklist, thanks to play.com, follows:

01: Lippy Kids
02: The Birds
03: With Love
04: Neat Little Rows
05: Jesus Is A Rochdale Girl
06: The Night Will Always Win
07: High Ideals
08: The River
09: Open Arms
10: The Birds (Reprise)
11: Dear Friends

No word on a vinyl release or first single yet, but I'm sure we'll know soon. They mention a surprise to come on Boxing Day - perhaps we'll have a new Elbow track to ring in the new year with?

2011 Q1 is shaping up quite nicely.


girl panic

The new Duran Duran is "out there", a good week before its official iTunes release on December 21.

Having spent the past day with it on pretty constant repeat, I can say that it truly is the return to the sound of the first three LPs it was rumored to be.

In fact, I'd say a few of the songs were recently unearthed out-takes from the 1981-1983 period if I didn't know any better. Album closer "Before The Rain" could have been rejected for 'Seven and the Ragged Tiger' for sounding too close to "The Chauffeur", "Being Followed" is a dead ringer for a follow up to that albums' "Shadows On Your Side" and "The Man Who Stole A Leopard" takes the creepy synths from "Tel Aviv" and develops them over a sprawling 6 1/4 minute suite. While it doesn't have a direct reference like others, "Blame The Machines" is such a mid-80's concept and even comes complete with a robotic female vocal breakdown at the end.

Best of all is "Girl Panic", a total throwback to those early Night Versions:

A. Maze. Ing.

Now, I'm a fan of 'Astronaut' - which I didn't realize was so unpopular with the Duran Duran fanbase until reading the anticipation for this album - which I thought was a good representation of what the core Duran Duran sound would be updated for the 2000's. 'All You Need Is Now' tops it by being an aural time machine back to the early-80's and would not have sounded out of place as the follow-up to 'Seven and the Ragged Tiger' had the band not splintered as it did. (We then, of course, wouldn't have gotten 'Notorious' and 'Big Thing' - both of which I love - so this way we've ended up getting the best of both worlds.) I only hope that the 12-track physical version doesn't spoil it by being too long, which was 'Astronaut''s downfall. I suppose we shall see in February. One runs the risk of early excitement leading to hyperbole - me? never! - but I think it's safe to say that this is (backhanded compliment alert!) the best album they've made in 20 years and is truly worthy of the Duran Duran name.

Bring on the tour.

i get excited (you get excited too)

OMG, y'all - new music from the Boxer Rebellion!

Previewed on their US tour last fall, "Step Out Of The Car" is the first full taste we have of their third full-length, 'The Cold Still', which is due in February. It's a nice mix of the indie-scrappery of debut 'Exits' plus the majestic sweep of 2009's 'Union' and bodes very well for the album. (Not that there were really any doubts, but still.)

As of now, only Juno appears to have the track for sale and even then it's region blocked so we in the US are out of luck for the time being. The video is up on their YouTube channel, so that will have to suffice for now:

Lovely. Bring on February.


who didn't see this coming?

Together we'll go all the way...

...to #58. Certainly it deserved better, but I suppose one would have to actually promote a single - and release it at a logical time, not weeks after it first becomes available - to achieve chart success.

Wonder what happens next.


surrender with us

Dean and I were talking: there's an album hidden in 'Surrender' and 'Come With Us' to equal the first two Chemical Brothers LP. Find it.

Challenge accepted!

This is my tracklist, show me yours:

4:54 [a1] Come With Us
7:18 [a2] Out Of Control
8:35 [b1] It Began In Afrika (Electronic Battle Weapon Version)
4:49 [b2] Hey Boy Hey Girl
4:46 [b3] Galaxy Bounce (Tomb Raider Version)
5:20 [c1] Music: Response
4:16 [c2] Under The Influence
6:23 [c3] Star Guitar
6:32 [d1] Hoops
8:39 [d2] The Sunshine Underground

Most importantly, this allows "The Sunshine Underground" to shine as the epic,"Private Psychedelic Reel"-esque album-ender it truly is rather than stifling it in the middle of an awkwardly sequenced LP. Also: it puts the full version of "Galaxy Bounce" - surely the best track from the 'Come With Us' period - on an album rather than a too short, anti-climactic edit. Win/win.

(Sadly, despite a handful of amazing tracks, there's not a full LP to salvage from the messes that are 'Push The Button' and 'We Are The Night'...or is there?)

(There isn't.)


Duran Duran Duran Duran Duranduran

Going on thirty years ago, if someone had told you that not only would Duran Duran still be around but that EMI would be issuing lavishly packaged (and fittingly period-appropriate) deluxe editions of their first five albums - first five! they survive past the first? - there's no way you'd believe them.

However, here we are in October 2010 and that's exactly what has happened. Rolled out in waves over the course of the past year, we have now been treated to multi-disc and -format editions of the five albums that Duran Duran - and, later, Duranduran - put out during the 1980's. In a very pleasant surprise, they were - for the most part - put together by someone who clearly did their research and offer plenty of bang for your buck...especially when you take the digitally available supplementary material. That's right - 2 CDs and a DVD a piece can't hold all the Duran-ness. Nerd alert!

The first to show its face was a 2-disc set of 'Rio' last Fall, which I've been over before. Pretty much everything about the set was perfect and gave high hopes for the rest.

Unfortunately, it was a bit of two steps forward, one step back from then on out. The first self-titled LP and 'Seven and the Ragged Tiger' joined us in the Spring and the cracks were already starting to show. First, the bad: the sound quality on these things is pretty wretched. Now, I'm no hardcore audiophile, though I am less than pleased with the so-called "loudness wars" and these things suffer big time. Forget taking it to 11 - this is taking it to about 15. And on top of that, there's the small matter of an audio glitch at the beginning of "Girls on Film" that causes a very noticeable stutter and false start to the track - something that would've taken about 15 seconds for QC to trim off with an audio editor. (Hell, I did it myself.) Even worse is EMI's knowledge of the error and refusal to fix it as it isn't part of the music or something like that. I beg to differ.

Anyways, if you're looking solely for an audio upgrade of these two, save your money. If you're looking for bonus material, boy are you in luck...for the first album, anyways. Disc one collects the period b-sides - all excellent, all readily available on the 'Singles 81-85' box and/or 3CD set, but all nice to have in one place. CD2 collections two sets of pre-album demos - no previously unreleased songs, but the demo of "Tel Aviv" is very, very different from the moody instrumental that we know and love - a BBC Radio Session with an early version of "Like An Angel" as a highlight, and a pair of extended mixes a piece for the album's two biggest singles. If you spring for the 3-disc edition, you also get a DVD with - *deepbreath* - the album's videos (including DVD debuts for "Careless Memories" - SO DATED - and "Night Boat"), a fluff day in the life featurette, and - best of all - a whole slew of period TV performances. Seriously, the Top of the Pops performance of "Planet Earth" makes the whole set worth it. The hair! The miming! Did I mention the hair! I mean, really, Simon has one little strand of his bangs crimped - amazing. It has to be seen to be believed. (I can say with all honesty that despite the pretty terrible sound and completely unforgivable audio glitch, that one performance made the whole purchase worth it.) On top of all of that, the whole thing comes packaged with five 5x5 postcards - one for each band member, obviously - and a replica of the poster that apparently came with the original Japanese LP, all packaged in a nice lift top box.

I really, really wish I could lavish similar praise upon 'Seven and the Ragged Tiger', my favorite Duran Duran album. (Yeah, what of it?) While there are no obvious audio glitches on the main album, it still suffers from insane brickwalling so an audio upgrade is out. It doesn't, however, have the bonus material to make it a must-have. There's a second disc, of course, but it is made up almost entirely of tracks available in the previously mentioned singles box - the only new to CD material are a pair of live tracks from the US "Reflex" 12". No demos, no newly unearthed alternate mixes, nothing previously unreleased at all. Rumors of a set of demos for this album have floated around for years and this would have been the perfect time to roll some of those out. Boo!

The DVD is also not nearly as exciting. Similar to the first DVD, it contains the album's videos (all of which were on 'Greatest') and a pair of Top of the Pops performances for "Is There Something I Should Know" and "The Reflex". By this point, though, the fame machine has obviously taken its toll on the boys and these performances are nowhere nearly as fun to watch - you can very clearly see they're just going through the motion because they've made the charts yet again. Rounding out the DVD is the digital debut of 'As The Lights Go Down', the concert-only version of the "Arena" movie. I'm personally not a big fan of watching concert films so my enjoyment of this one was limited - I watched it for a bit before ripping the audio and adding it as a third disc to the playlist on my iPod. It does come in a similarly nice box to the first album, so that's a plus, but I can't really recommend this one.

Both of the sets are supplemented in the digital world with a period concert. Sadly, the 'Seven and the Ragged Tiger'-era choice was merely an audio version of 'As The Lights Go Down'. However, I would highly recommend the BBC concert chosen to represent the debut - "Late Bar" and "Khanada" both get airings, as well as an early version of "Last Chance On The Stairway". Well worth the $10 for the download.

If 'Seven and the Ragged Tiger' is my favorite Duran Duran album, 'Notorious' is a close second and it received the deluxe treatment a few weeks ago. It was rumored a few years back for its 20th anniversary, so we've - or, I've - been waiting for this one for a while. Similar to the 'Seven and the Ragged Tiger' set, the audio portion of the release offers nothing in the way of previously unavailable material. It does, however, provide the CD release of the main mixes from the "Mastermixes" 12", which is nice to have. (The dubs are available digitally - more on that later.) DVD-wise, there's the period videos (DVD debut for "Meet El Presidente"), a TOTP performance of the title track (which is more fun than the 'Seven'-era performances but still not up to those around the debut) and the 'Working For The Skin Trade' concert film. A pair of group shots replace the departed Taylors on the postcards in the box - thank you for some level of consistency, even if everything doesn't match up - and you've got a very nice package for an underrated album.

There is a bit of a bright spot - and I mean a bit. The sound quality has been fixed...kind of. They're still brickwalled, but the kind folks at EMI have very nicely dropped the maximum level a few dBs so they're not as loud. Well, it's a start, though still not a worthwhile audio upgrade.

Finally, 'Big Thing' joined the group along with 'Notorious'. I can't lie - I love this record as well. It's a total mess and doesn't really accomplish what the band set out to do - to be taken more seriously, I suppose - but it's all the better for it. Also, they've restored the original version of "Drug" to the running order, however it was apparently always available as a bonus track on most previous CD editions as the Marshall Jefferson Mix. I think. The wording on exactly what they did here - included in a personal note from John Taylor on one of the sets post cards - is a bit confusing and I'm not entirely sure I got that right.

The bonus material is a bit hit and miss. The good: a new-to-us 7" and 12" mix of "Big Thing" (which, it seems, was going to be a single at one point) and a 6+ minute version of the sole original b-side for the period, the lovely "I Believe / All I Need To Know". The not so good: the tracks that aren't extended mixes of the singles are just edits of album tracks and/or terrible spoken word pieces used in the tour, and they were all in the second singles box. Not a 'Seven and the Ragged Tiger'-esque failure and, to be fair, they were merely collecting what was released at the time, but it is kind of disappointing to be reminded of these things.

The DVD once again collects the videos (DVD debut for "Do you believe in shame?", which was the wrong third single choice if ever there was one) and a new to home video live concert filmed in Milan.

On the digital side, there are once again period concerts available - fortunately, neither of them duplicate what's on the DVD this time. Even better, each contains at least one song from at least one of the side projects done Duran-style - the 'Notorious'-era show features Arcadia's "Election Day" and Power Station's "Some Like It Hot" and 'Big Thing' rolls out the latter's cover of "Bang A Gong (Get It On)". Also available this time are remix EPs to collect the mixes that didn't fit on the physical sets. The 'Notorious' EP gets an alternate mix or dub for each of the three singles as well as "American Science" and "Vertigo (Do The Demolition)", while the 'Big Thing' EP collects the dub of "I Don't Want Your Love' (why, why, WHY wasn't this called "I Don't Want Your Dub"?) and a trio of "All She Wants Is" dubs. They're both borderline overkill - OK, three dub mixes of "All She Wants Is" is totally overkill - but they're nice to have available if you want them.

(It's worth noting that Arcadia's "So Red The Rose" received a similar 2CD/1DVD reissue after the first three but before the last two - chronological correctness! - but it was packaged in a standard fat-boy case rather than a lavish box. Regardless, it collects pretty much everything you could want related to the Arcadia project - I'm not entirely sure there's anything not included but I'm sure someone could prove me wrong - and is worth tracking down as well.)

So overall, a far nicer treatment of the Duran Duran back catalog than could have been reasonably expected and - despite a few issues - a very lovingly and well-put-together set of reissues. I highly recommend all but 'Seven and the Ragged Tiger' - if you're even thinking you want them, you probably do - though can you really have that gap in the middle where it should be? (They're starting to pop up second hand, so that might be your best bet for that one.)

I don't normally say this, but please stop the campaign now. I really don't want to feel pressured into buying a 3-disc set for 'Liberty'.


why stop now?

As I mentioned earlier, These New Puritans have a campaign-summarizing EP coming out in November entitled 'Hidden Remixes'. They announced the track list today and it looks something like this:

A1. Introduction
A2. We Want War (SBTRKT Remix)
A3. Main Attrakionz 3000
B1. Hologram (Salem Remix)
B2. We Want War (Ghost Hunter Remix)

Suckfest. We already bought the - admittedly excellent - SBTRKT Remix on the 'Hidden' bonus EP, though it will be nice to have a physical release of the also pretty good Ghost Hunter remix. That Salem remix appeared on RCRDLBL a few months back and is a total pile, which leaves that Main Attrakionz 3000 thing the only unknown.

Except it's not, as you can listen to it thanks you the wonders of YouTube. I warn you, it's not for the feint of heart:

Garbage. So much for saving the singles campaign at the end with an excellent catch all release. Thanks for nothing.

On a related note, two mixes of "White Chords" have shown up kind of randomly. There's the Forest Swords Remix on RCRDLBL and FACT has a Mordant Music Remix. Neither are amazing but both are perfectly listenable - and loads better than either of the non-"We Want War" mixes we're getting on the proper release.

Better luck next time.


hott new Robyn album art alert

I really wish the music was as good as the art because that's fucking hott. (See also: Yeah Yeah Yeahs 'It's Blitz'.)

Can someone explain the formatting for this project to me, though? It doesn't make any sense.


hott new Pet Shop Boys single art alert


mpfree - Gruff Rhys & A Sunny Day In Glasgow

(Not together, but how amazing would that be.)

Some free music to start the week off right. First, kind of out of nowhere Gruff Rhys made a new single available for the cost of an e-mail from his website. Entitled "Shark Ridden Waters", it sounds a bit like 'Candylion' visiting the set of a 60's beach party movie and is a vast improvement over SFA's 'Dark Days/Light Years' but still a bit underwhelming. There's supposedly an album coming early next year, but until then you can also pre-order the 12" directly from him - though no mention of a track list yet. I'm curious to see how this surprise develops.

Also seemingly out of nowhere, A Sunny Day In Glasgow have made their third full-length album, entitled 'Autumn, Again', available for a free download. You can also donate money towards the cause via a Paypal link and/or order an LP version.

And that, as they say, is that. Have at it.


dirty birthday

It was thirty years ago yesterday - THIRTY years.

He made many a masterpiece, but for my money he never topped this one.

Give it a celebratory spin.


you need this

School of Seven Bells broke my heart this weekend.

I'll go into this in more details later - once I can stop crying every time I think about it - but let's just say what was supposed to be the tour of the year/decade/lifetime has turned into FAR less. Boo.

However, there's still the matter of that split 7" with Active Child to contend with, and in that regard they pass with flying colors. If you haven't been paying attention, they're each taking a stab at the one of the others' singles - they're remixing his "I'm In Your Church At Night" and he's going all choral over "Heart Is Strange". Both remixes have now appeared in the internet-ether, and they are both as incredible as you might imagine. Each has basically transplanted their single onto the others - "I'm In Your Church At Night" is now a "Heart Is Strange"-esque club banger, and "Heart Is Strange" is now a gorgeous "I'm In Your Church At Night" chill-fest. (Watch for that coda - A-mazing.) You can grab an mp3 of the Active Child remix of "Heart Is Strange" at the Lefse Records site - where you can also pre-order the 7" for a very reasonable $7 - and the Walrus Music Blog (among others, I'm sure) as the School of Seven Bells remix of "I'm In Your Church At Night".

This almost makes up for the tour. Almost. (No offense to Active Child - you were amazing. Or SVIIB, for that matter. Part circumstance - get well soon, Claudia - and part poor decision making - lose the live drummer and find a new sound guy, and quick.)



After pretty much completely botching what should have been the most satisfying album singles campaign in years, These New Puritans and the Angular Recording Company are attempting to redeem themselves with a final, catchall release. Entitled 'Hidden Remixes' - that's the pretty gorgeous sleeve over there - this 10" will "hit the shelves" (as they used to say) on October 25th. No word yet on a track list, but an e-mail sent out by ARC declared it will contain "previous remixes from the like of SBTRKT and SALEM, as well as some exciting new remixes". So that's one a piece of "We Want War" and "Hologram" at least - but the "Hologram" one was a steaming pile and we've already got the SBTRKT one on the bonus EP, so hopefully the new ones will be worthwhile. You can watch the label's site for more info because I'll probably forget about it until it's gone out of print and I have to pay a fortune to get one. *sigh*


i wanted to tell her

I gained new appreciation for Ministry's 'With Sympathy' after hearing this in a bar in Seattle this past weekend:

However, this still remains my favorite Ministry track:

I heard that at a different bar on Friday night, where the DJ played it just for me. Heart, Aaron.

How come I can't find this at home?


this has the potential to be the best thing ever

Going back and forth on Facebook posts with Mr. Active Child himself, it has come to light that there is indeed a split 7" single in the works with himself and tour mates School of Seven Bells.

(Side note: best tour pairing ever.)

It will feature each artist remixing a track from the other. SVIIB are tackling 'Curtis Lane' highlight "I'm In Your Church At Night" - for which there is a new video in the works, I imagine using the original EP version - while forthcoming single and 'Disconnect From Desire' highlight "Heart Is Strange" is getting an Active Child overhaul.

I cannot think of a way this could be any better.


please don't buy my single, part 2

In a related note to the Annie issue of last post, Underworld released a (pretty well-loaded) digital single for "Always Loved A Film" yesterday. (In a nice change of pace, eMusic has 2 mixes that iTunes doesn't. Score.)

Did they want to tell someone? Thanks.


please don't buy my single

Apparently, Annie's "Songs Remind Me Of You" got an iTunes remix single release back in July - a full year on from the one-track digital single that came out back in 2009 - but they decided to not tell anyone. I don't claim to be the most thorough of readers and/or researchers, but I am generally tuned in to what is going on in the world of artists that I follow, and this is something I have been waiting for for a very long time - since we first got the song back in 2008 - so I'd like to think that if it was announced anywhere, I would have read about it. Thanks for the heads up, Team Annie - though given the release history for this entire campaign, I suppose it's not surprising. In a perfect world, this song has been #1 for years and years, but it's never going to get there if the people who want it don't even know about it. Boo.

The whole she-bang can be had for $1.99, however if iTunes isn't your friend - and I can't really blame you on that one - you can head over to the fantastic RCRDLBL for a free grab of the Swiss remix.

It's probably too much to ask for a 12", yes? I thought so. Anyways, I'm fairly certain we can put the 'Don't Stop'-era to rest now.


five albums from 2010

So, here we are - halfway through 2010. Time to look back and see what its given us in music so far.

Truthfully, I was expecting to be a bit underwhelmed looking back. In all the excitement over These New Puritans' 'Hidden', Active Child and School of Seven Bells' 'Disconnect From Desire' - which doesn't really count as it technically didn't come out in the first half of the year - I remembered the year giving us little else. Turns out I was wrong as there were about 10 other albums I quite enjoyed plus an ever growing queue of albums to dedicate more listening time to. Good thing I'm disappearing into the mountains of Vermont next week with lots of quality listening time to fill.

Anyways, here are my five favorites so far:

Erykah Badu - Return of the Ankh
05: Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part Two [Return of the Ankh]

The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night
04: The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today
03: Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today

Active Child - Curtis Lane
02: Active Child - Curtis Lane EP

These New Puritans - Hidden
01: These New Puritans - Hidden

With an honorable mention, as always, to:

Ash - A-Z
Ash - The A-Z Series

It has, predictably, gotten a bit less exciting as the weeks have gone on, but it's still a fantastic project and I'm very excited to see that they're going to carry it through to the end. [It totally had "abandon half-way through" written all over it - hooray for being wrong.] The five-star songs have gotten fewer and further between, but every other week we still get a solid track with a few surprises thrown in for good measure. [Who expected single "Q" to be one of the best?]

It's also been a great year for reissues, with the long-awaited 'Disintegration' set finally making an appearance, the first and third Duran Duran albums getting the box treatment with 'Notorious' and 'Big Thing' imminent, and a nicer-than-it-needed-to-be Rhino Handmade edition of 'The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees' leading the back. Of course, we've also got the deluxe 'Fables of the Reconstruction' and first two a-ha albums to come in the very near future.

Oh, and did I mention Jagz Kooner is producing the new Whip album? Incredible.


'Hidden', you have some competition

After what seems like an eternity of waiting, School of Seven Bells are streaming the whole of forthcoming album 'Disconnect From Desire' from their website.

Now, this may be the overexcited thirteen year old this album has turned me into talking, but holy shit amazing. My first impression is that it is as 'Alpinisms' but in its own way. The drum machines really stick out on this one - they sound so crisp and harsh [in a good way] and are wonderfully offset/complimented by the Deheza's harmonies, which are in top form throughout.

'Alpinisms' flaw was its flow - the run of "For Kalaja Mari" through "Sempiternal/Amaranth" [so the middle third] sound like they belong to another album. 'Disconnect From Desire' suffers no such issue - each song ebbs and flows into each other, creating a very cohesive whole. You could argue that the LP is a bit front-loaded with the "up" moments and the second half showcasing a more subdued side of the band, but it totally works. And Christ, the studio version of "Heart Is Strange"? Ri-dic-u-lous.

I see no reason why this won't be competing with These New Puritans' 'Hidden' for my LP of the year - and I certainly don't see anything on the horizon that has the potential to come close, especially with The Whip's LP not coming out until 2011. [Boo!]


it's a mess

With distance, is 'Sweet 7' as bad as we remember it being?

In a word: worse.

Oh well.


i could be dancing

I realize this is way old news at this point, but I don't think it can be overstated how amazing the video for Alphabeat's "DJ" is:

Ridiculous. They may be screwing up the single formatting left and right lately, but they can still make a fantastic video.



So, like, Jagz Kooner is producing the new Whip album.


Jagz Kooner. Producing. New Whip album.



'1999', the short version

There is little doubt of the genius of Prince's output between the years of 1980 and 198? - the end point is where it gets fuzzy, but I tend to be of the belief that his last thoroughly great and classic album was 1988's 'Lovesexy', though I suppose you could argue one in either direction. There are, of course, varying degrees of genius within genius and 1982's '1999' LP is a perfect example of this.

The 11 songs that make up the album, for the most part, are incredible. The album is frontloaded with a trio of killer pop singles, followed by a set of dirty extended funk jams. The second half is a bit weird - I understand that "Lady Cab Driver" was shocking at the time but I find it a bit silly now, and "Free" is a bit sappy for my likings. My biggest complaint with the album, though, is that the songs go on for far too long and just don't know when to quit. [Which is odd because as a rule I love Prince's 12" mixes and think even some of the longer ones could use a few extra minutes or so.] However, he hasn't quite figured out how to do that yet, and they tend to repeat the same idea over and over again for minutes on end, not really doing anything. [Example: it's a fantastic song, but does "Automatic" need to be 9 minutes? No. And a full minute-long introduction of a simple drum pattern for "Let's Pretend We're Married" is a bit much.]

So Joe and I were talking about the need for an edit of "D.M.S.R." in particular, and I knew I had read about one somewhere. Sure enough, it was on the soundtrack to "Risky Business" of all places, and investigating that led me to a fantastic bootleg from a few years ago called '7 Inch In The Computer'. It collects, as you might guess, a good chunk of Prince's 7" mixes from his first LP through to the 'Parade'-era. It misses some - the 7"s for the 'Around the World In A Day' singles were the same as the album versions so they're not there, but their b-sides are - and stops short of finishing the 'Parade'-era, leaving off "Girls and Boys". [Which might have been the same as the album version, I'm not sure.] Anyways, the intriguing part of the set for me is that it contains official edits of 9 of the 11 '1999' album tracks - no "Something In The Water [Does Not Compute]" or "International Lover", but the former is only 4 minutes to begin with and it makes sense to end the album with an extended number.

With this set - which you can find without too much work on the internet - you can create a lean, mean, 45-minute funk machine, leaving the [sometimes needlessly] overlong versions for the 12"s, where they belong. Huzzah. [I just wish the scream was at the end of "D.M.S.R." instead of a fade out, but I guess you can't have it all.]

side a:
01 1999 [edit] [3:38]
02 Little Red Corvette [edit] [3:09]
03 Delirious [edit] [2:39]
04 Let's Pretend We're Married [edit] [3:39]
05 D.M.S.R. [edit] [5:06]
06 Automatic [edit] [3:38]

side b:
01 Something In The Water [Does Not Compute] [LP version] [4:03]
02 Free [edit] [4:30]
03 Lady Cab Driver [edit] [4:59]
04 All The Critics Love U In New York [edit] [3:12]
05 International Lover [LP Version] [6:38]


begin the windstorm

First of all, holy crap it's June.

Secondly, this first day of June finds two highly anticipated releases for your listening pleasure.

Alphabetically leading the way is the debut EP proper from Active Child, available in the US on iTunes or as a limited colored 12". [It comes out via other digital retailers on July 1, but you really shouldn't wait.] I first posted about him a few months back when my friend Joe shared his track "I'm In Your Church At Night" with me and I fell in love. Since then, he's been slowly leaking out tracks to the internet and depending on how much you've been paying attention, there might only be one or two "new" tracks here for you. That said, it's nice to have the tracks properly released all in one place - and there's more going on in the background of this version of "I'm In Your Church At Night", be it because it's a new version or a much higher fidelity file I'm not sure but I'm guessing the latter - and there are worse ways to spend $4, yes? Despite only having heard most of these songs a few months ago at most, the EP already feels fantastically lived-in, like it's been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. It's probably greedy to say this since it was just released this morning, but I want more.

Also out today is the first single from School of Seven Bells' second LP. Entitled "Windstorm", it was previewed at Pitchfork a few weeks ago but is now available for your scrobbling pleasure at all good digital retailers. It comes backed with a lovely new track "Crescent Gold" and a not-as-noisy-as-I-was-expecting-it remix of the a-side by A Place To Bury Strangers. [Can we expect SVIIB to return the favor? Hmm...] While this helps with the wait for the album, July 13 can't come fast enough.


May/June/July shopping list

05/17 & 05/18:
LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening - CD
The Depreciation Guild - Spirit Youth - LP

05/24 & 05/25:
[week off] - whew!

05/31 & 06/01:
Boo Radleys - Giant Steps & Wake Up [Deluxe Editions] - 3xCD x2
The Bluetones - A New Athens - CD
To My Boy - The Habitable Zone - CD
Active Child - Curtis Lane EP - CDS/10"/12" &/or digital [take your pick]

06/07 & 06/08:
Mansun - Attack of the Grey Lantern [Deluxe Edition] 3xCD
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today - LP
The Chemical Brothers - Further - CD
Christina Aguilera - Bionic - CD
The Cure - Disintegration - 2xCD/DVD [maybe?]

The Golden Filter - Voluspa - 2xLP [US release - vinyl is Insound exclusive, and also contains "The Hardest Button To Button" as a bonus track]

06/21 & 06/22:
Delays - Star Tiger Star Ariel - CD
Helmet - Seeing Eye Dog - CD

06/28 & 06/29:
[week off]

07/05 & 07/06:
Duran Duran - Notorious & Big Thing [Deluxe Editions] - 2xCD/DVD x 2

07/12 & 07/13:
School of Seven Bells - Disconnect From Desire - LP

!!! - LP4
Battles - LP2
Duran Duran - new LP
Atari Teenage Riot - reunion LP & "Activate" single

Whew! It ain't getting any cheaper, that's for sure.

mpfree - To My Boy

On May 31, To My Boy have a new album coming out. It is called 'The Habitable Zone' and you can see the [very busy] artwork to the left and - for the price of an e-mail address - can get a free mp3 of album track "Antarctica" at their website - which is not, as I initially mis-read it - tommyboy.co.uk, though that would be a completely different type of interesting. While there, you can also pre-order the album for a very reasonable price range of £8 - £10, depending on your delivery zone. [See what I did there?] They're apparently doing it on their own this time and their debut was a favorite around here, so I'd highly encourage supporting them if you like the freebie. Which you will because it's fantastic.

If you need more convincing, here's the video for "Hello Horizon", which is the first "single" [whatever that means these days]:



mpfree - Atari Teenage Riot

Wait...Atari Teenage Riot are back?

Oh yes. In fact, RCRD LBL has their comeback single - or what qualifies as a comeback single in this day and age, I suppose - as a free download. Excellent. You can grab it here.

[If you're not subscribed to the RCRD LBL daily mail out, you really should be. You never know what you're going to find in your inbox - case in point.]

'Burn, Berlin, Burn!' was a cornerstone album for me back in the day - yes, I realize it's a compilation album, but it was our introduction to ATR and, quite frankly, still works as their strongest full-length - and seeing them as part of a Digital Hardcore revue the day before Thanksgiving in 1997 remains one of the most surreal and amazing shows I've ever seen. It's good to hear they've lost none of their edge in this track. Hooray!


mpfree - Ash live

This is a busy weekend for free downloads, apparently.

Ash is smack-dab in the middle of their 'A-Z' single series, and to celebrate they're releasing a CD compilation, appropriately titled 'A-Z Vol. 1'. It contains the first thirteen singles plus four bonus tracks.

There are also a pair of digital EPs to go with the release. The first - which is not free - is a 7-track acoustic EP featuring songs from the first half of the project. The second - which is free - is a pair of live tracks, project highlights 'Arcadia' and 'Space Shot'. Those can be grabbed here for the cost of an e-mail address, and while you're there check out the other bonus material they've got on the site - some free, some for a nominal fee, all fantastic and well worth your time.

For those keeping track, a Japanese edition of the CD was released a few weeks back and features two additional bonus tracks - so far only available on that set though bound to appear on something else eventually - along with a bonus disc that contains selections from the three digital EPs released in support of the project so far as well as an exclusive remix of "Neon".

I initially thought this project would be easy to keep track of and relatively inexpensive to complete. I apparently thought wrong, though I can't deny that I'm having a bunch of fun trying.

mpfree - Blur's "Fool's Day"

In a wise and very welcome move, Blur have made their new single "Fool's Day" available for download from their website for the cost of an e-mail address.


Truth be told, the song is more memorable for being the first new Blur material in seven years than for being a great Blur song, but it's nice to have a high quality version available - though who uses wav format anymore?

Now, if the Pet Shop Boys would take note and do something similar for their Record Store Day single, we'd be all set.


prepare to disconnect

After what has felt like a million years but, in actuality, has probably been barely six months, the wheels are starting to turn on the new School of Seven Bells album. To the left, you can see the album artwork as posted on the official site recently - accompanied only by a cryptic "Coming Soon". No track list, no solid release date, no mention of first single, just: "Coming Soon". Well, it's a start.

The band has also lined up two shows in NYC on June 9th and 10th - I leave town from a 5 day visit on the 8th, of course. Perhaps these will act as a release celebration? At the very least, expect to hear lots from the forthcoming/recently released/whatever status it has at the time LP on those two nights.

A live version of "Heart Is Strange" from last fall:

I'd say expect to see that one on the album, but after waiting 7+ fruitless years for the Hidden Cameras to release live staple "No Gay Goth Scene", I've come to learn there are no track list guarantees.




In the mail.

"Judy Staring At The Sun" with "Capacity to Change".



time [to go]

Yesterday, the news broke that Supergrass are calling it quits after a run of summer shows. In typical Supergrass fashion, it was barely a blip on most news sites, crammed between mentions of a new Arcade Fire video and Adam Green EP on NME and barely making headline status on Pitchfork, though oddly I first read about it on PopJustice's Facebook feed.

In any case, this is pretty sad news. Even though they never quite reached the heights of the classic one-two punch of 'I Should Coco' and 'In It For The Money' - both unquestionably five-star, must have albums - they were always reliable for a solid album with a few incredible singles. The word was they were working on LP7 to be released later this year, but now it is unknown if it will ever see the light of day.

I saw the boys back in 2000 in support of the self-titled record and it was a highly enjoyable show. I always wanted to catch them again, but my only real opportunity came when they were opening for the Foo Fighters in a gigantic arena around the time of 'Diamond Hoo Ha'. I passed, not thinking their show would translate well in such a venue, and now I kind of wish I hadn't. Oh well.

Boo for disabled embedding on YouTube, but dig out your copy of 'Supergrass is 10' and remember how incredible their singles run was.

You will be missed.


formatting fail: Attack Music

That's the artwork for the "Attack Music" single, thanks to the Angular website...

...wait, what's this? According to the same site, the format for "Attack Music" is download and...nope, just download.


It upsets me that - outside of the initial single announcement - every thing about this single is turning out all sorts of wrong.

[Maybe they forgot to list it and there will be a 10" as well, but I'm not holding my breath.]


the "Attack Music" video is terrible

The first mis-step in an otherwise fantastically executed campaign. *sigh*


new obsession alert: Active Child

Good music friend Joe passed along a video for the new Active Child single "I'm In Your Church At Night".

Simply put: stunning. Gorgeous and haunting and four minutes of music to totally lose yourself in. It hasn't got a "proper" release yet - whatever that constitutes in this day and age - however you can find it and two other tracks on his/their page at the excellent RCRD LBL site. Alternately, you can purchase the "She Was A Vision" / "Voice Of An Old Friend" digital single at Amazon/iTunes/whatever your digital retailer of choice may be.

Keep your eyes and ears peeled. I've got a feeling this is going to develop nicely.

"I'm In Your Church At Night":



good omens

There's an album cover. The official site has a countdown - timing to the millisecond, even - and is streaming part of a new track. A couple of other new songs were "leaked" to radio a week or so ago.

We might actually be getting this on March 30th. Fingers crossed.

we're repeating it again, again, and again

Thanks to Dean for reminding me - and Seattle - of Pay TV's amazing "Refrain Refrain":

There's a free download of later single "Fashion Report" on last.fm if that's your thing, and you can find various singles from various digital retailers.

And that's that.



The Bluetones' official site is reporting that their sixth album is ready to roll this summer. Entitled 'A New Athens', the artwork is to the left and the track list is as follows:

01 The Notes Between The Notes Between The Notes
02 Firefly
03 A New Athens
04 Culling Song
05 Into The Red
06 Golden Soul
07 The Day That Never Was
08 Carry Me Home
09 Half The Size Of Nothing
10 Haunted By You
11 Pranchestonelle

I imagine 10 is not a Gene cover, but you never know...

No single or confirmed release date yet but this is certainly something to look forward to. I was wondering just the other day when we'd get a new album from them...

And I'll just take this opportunity to say that I still don't understand all the hatred - well, perhaps that's a bit strong of a word...intense dislike, perhaps - that gets directed at the band and their last few albums. 'Science & Nature' was clearly their high point, but 'Luxembourg' is a snappy and enjoyable little record and the self-titled definitely has its moments. No, neither are 'Expecting To Fly II' but both are better for it. [Personally I prefer LPs 4 & 5 to 1 & 2 but I'm sure I'm in the minority on that one.]

In any case, add another one to the list of albums to look forward to in 2010.


mpfree - The Whip mixtape

In anticipation of their forthcoming second LP - which can't get here fast enough as far as I'm concerned - The Whip have set up a fancy new web site. At said web site, you can stream and/or exchange your e-mail address for an mp3 download of a DJ Mixtape by members Bruce and Fee.

A nice way to start the spring as far as I'm concerned, though it is a bit sad they didn't sneak in a preview of new material in the set. Oh well.


random seven-inch saturday

"I Want To Touch You" is probably my favorite single off of Catherine Wheel's 'Ferment'. Not only is the a-side fantastic but it also featured a slew of incredibly strong b-sides across the formats - two of which would be re-recorded for the following year's 'Chrome' and it had the best of a string of amazing sleeves featuring Alastair Thain's photography. The 7" features an exclusive edit of the single remix on the a-side and the omnipresent "Ursa Major Space Station" on the flip. Even though it lacks the "let's take a rocket ship to Mars" tag, I think this version trumps the more familiar 'Chrome' recording.

I do not understand the appeal of the Manic Street Preachers. That said, I've always found myself strangely drawn to 'Know Your Enemy', their 2001 album generally regarded as their low point. [I generally don't believe in music as a guilty pleasure but had I to pick something, it would be this album.] There's no doubt it's a total mess and at least half of the many styles they try on over the course of its 16 tracks totally blow up in their face, yet I find myself returning to it again and again, completely mesmerized by the whole thing. Its best moment is its lead track, "Found That Soul", also chosen as one of two lead singles - another completely ridiculous and half-assed marketing ploy in a career full of them. The 7" - their first in years, I believe - featured a live recording of previous "return to their roots" single "The Masses Against The Classes", which was also the UK millennium #1 if I remember correctly. Nonsense. A total musical car crash.


properly picked singles: These New Puritans

On Sunday, the preceding image was posted on the These New Puritans website and Facebook page with the comment: "shooting the attack music video..."

A date of April 12th has been thrown around, though not from any official sources.


[Glad to see someone get their single choices right.


you need to give me more substance

Of all the bands that are no longer with us, I would have to say I miss Catherine Wheel the most. [Yeah, I've gone on about this before...no wait, come back!] Similarly, with all this reissue/repackage madness going on the past few years, the one band I would love a thorough catalogue overhaul of is - you guessed it - Catherine Wheel.

So imagine my excitement last fall when I get a text from my friend Joe that Cherry Red is working on a re-issue of 'Ferment'. "Hooray!", I think, even though I know the finished product will certainly fall far short of the ideal package I've created in my head. [Imagine it: disc one is a DualDisc with the original album on one side and a sparkling new 5.1 mix on the other. Yeah, I know, that's so totally 2006, but imagine a well done one, something along the lines of the 5.1 mix of 'Black Celebration' - specifically "Fly on the Windscreen - Final". Amazing. Throw the period promo videos on there while you're at it. Anyways, disc two could go a few ways. You can't fit all the b-sides onto one disc, so you can either stick some at the end of CD1 and put the rest on CD2, but that doesn't leave much room for unreleased material. You could cherry pick the best, but then you aren't really getting a complete picture AND without a doubt you're going to miss someone's favorite, however this leaves more room so it's probably the best bet. There are confirmed to be unreleased masters sitting in the vaults, so let's dig those out, and there's probably more demos where those on the second "I Want To Touch You" 12" came from so unearth them as well. Actually, scratch that - let's make it a THREE disc set with all of the b-sides at the end of disc one and taking up disc two and dedicate disc three to demos and live stuff and "new to us" material. See how out of hand this can get, and fast?]

Anyways, so I've been waiting quite impatiently for some info to come out. And then, all of a sudden, there's a track listing. And what are we getting? A one disc set - boo! - with six bonus tracks: "Balloon" [not a bonus to us in the US, folks], "Intravenous", and the whole of the "30 Century Man" EP.


Not only are both of the EPs those bonus tracks are sourced from relatively easy to track down in this day and age - two "30 Century Man"'s recently sold for under $10 each on eBay, I had no idea it had gotten that inexpensive - but anyone who is interested in buying this re-issue more likely than not already has them, perhaps multiple times over. [Hello "Balloon" CDS/12"/7", nice to see you.] The promise of "extensive liner notes" doesn't a worthwhile re-issue make.

Perhaps those who needed to be involved weren't playing nice - watching from a far as a fan, it wouldn't totally surprise me - but if you're going to put together a [relatively] niche re-issue, you really need to make it worthwhile for those it's aimed at to purchase again. If there was a vinyl edition coming out, I'd be a little more forgiving - good luck tracking an original down for less than $50. But there's not, so I'm not. Talk about a crushing disappointment.



ash: a-j

Seeing as we're a little over a third of the way through Ash's "A-Z Series" project - one of the most exciting and fun music releases in ages, isn't it? - I thought it might be a good time to take a look at where we've been so far.

iTunes! Come here please:

ash: a-j

So what's the score? Going by iTunes' very rough star ratings, about 4.25 stars. Not shabby, and even better that there's been no flat out duds yet. [It is not surprising, though, that the two weakest singles so far are 'Twilight of the Innocents' leftovers. Blech.] As a whole, though, the project has made every other Monday the day to look forward to.

The best of the bunch? "Arcadia" gets the slight edge for its exuberance:


Still not entirely sure what the "A-Z" assignments have to do with anything, though I suppose it's more an easy way to organize them than anything else.


formatting fail

Back in January, the Discodust blog posted a remix of Alphabeat's forthcoming single "Hole In My Heart" by the excellent Sound of Arrows, officially getting my excited for the single - despite it being the wrong choice. [Hello "The Beat Is" or "DJ".] I couldn't wait for the official release to hold a copy in my hands.

Well. Fast forward a bit and here we are, a week before release. A quick gander at the formats tell me that not only have they left off the Sound of Arrows remix in favor of dull club mixes by Wideboys [really?] and Chew Fu [who?], but also that they've put the radio edits of said mixes on the CD single. For no reason, really - they'd comfortably both fit and still be under running time for chart rules. On top of that, it lists at an astonishingly high £3.99.

In discussion with my friend Dean about the situation, he had this to say:
"The music industry seems to want to destroy their own CD sales to prove how much illegal downloads are hurting them."
Time and time again, it seems. Remember the Little Boots CD single fiasco? The only comfort I take is that the digital release is getting the same middle finger stuck up at them. Thanks for nothing.


this is attack music

After spending a few weeks with it, I've come to the conclusion that These New Puritans' 'Hidden' succeeds in every possible way. It delivers on the promise of single "We Want War" - and there was plenty of promise in "We Want War" - and then some in ways that I couldn't even have imagined. We're only a few weeks into 2010 but so far this is the album to beat - and it's going to take quite a bit to beat it.

And then.

Today in the mail: the UK vinyl pressing. Good lord, this thing is gorgeous: 180 gram virgin vinyl, textured outer sleeve with a thick PVC sleeve over that, printed inner sleeve, free digital download accessible even in the US - a win all around.

Now, I like listening to vinyl. I find it very aesthetically appealing and love the occasional bursts of surface noise. That said, I've never really bought in to the whole "vinyl sounds warmer/purer/truer/better" argument - I get where that line of thinking comes from but I've never really personally seen it. Perhaps it's because my hearing is pretty much shot to hell and/or the use of not exactly top of the line equipment, who knows. However - HOWEVER - the second I put the needle on this one, I totally got it.

Not to get all audiophile wankerish on you, but this. sounds. AMAZING. The beats really do sound like they're going to make your head explode. It really does have a more - ugh - full sound to it and is bringing out sounds in the mix I hadn't heard before - obviously compared to the mp3s, but even to the CD pressing.

I apologize, but damn. I can't recommend this one enough.

Oh, and "Attack Music" had better be the second single:



wait, what?


In trying to see if the b-sides to the These New Puritans "We Want War" 10" were available digitally in the US - hint: they're not - I came across something...not really interesting, just something.

On February 15th, No Bra will release a new single featuring a TNP remix on the b-side.

Wait. No Bra? That No Bra? Yes, that No Bra - who apparently never went anywhere.

It was shit the first time around and is still shit, but good for her for hanging on. I'm not going to lie, I'm curious as to what this is all about...sort of.

As a reminder, the "big single" "Munchausen" - completely unsuitable for mixed company and, really, human consumption:



the dream factory

It's been a long time coming but Rhino is finally ready to release a deluxe edition of The Monkees' fifth LP - 'The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees' - to go along with the first four they gave us a few years back. Perhaps to make up for the wait - or, perhaps, so they could justify the expense - it's coming out on the Rhino Handmade imprint, which means it is really, really nice. Excessively nice, you could say.

The sessions for the album famously went on for ages and provided the group with the beginnings of many songs that would be used to fill up albums throughout the rest of their career. I'm no great Monkee historian but looking at the 88-strong track listing spread over the three discs of this thing, it appears they've covered pretty much everything worthwhile from the sessions. More importantly, we are also finally getting the long-elusive mono mix of the album - we've been told for years that it is noticeably different from the stereo mix and now we get to hear for ourselves. [Judging by the 30-second sample on the Rhino Handmade website, "Auntie's Municipal Court" - supposedly the song with the biggest differences in the mix - features more prominent percussion throughout.] You can check out the full track list there - there's a ton of good stuff. Acoustic versions of "Magnolia Simms" and "Tapioca Tundra"? A Mike vocal version of "Auntie's Municipal Court"? The 1968 versions of "Through The Looking Glass" and "Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again" so we can re-create the initial proposed running order?

I can't wait to dig into this one.


2010 Q1 shopping list

These New Puritans - Hidden - 2xCD & LP [UK release - US in March]

Hadouken! - For The Masses - CD [UK release - US probably never]

[week off]

02/09 [first super Tuesday of the year]:
Massive Attack - Heligoland - CD [no LP release? weak.]
Sade - Soldier of Love - CD
Arcadia - So Red The Rose [Deluxe Edition] - 2xCD&DVD
Hot Chip - One Life Stand - CD/DVD

Pet Shop Boys - Pandemonium On Tour - DVD/CD [UK release - US release unknown]
Blur - No Distance Left To Run [Documentary] & Live at Hyde Park - 2xDVD [UK release - US release unknown]

Alphabeat - Hole In My Heart - single [Sound of Arrows remix!]
Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh [I'll believe it when I see it]
La Roux - Fascination - German only single [is this still happening?]

Alphabeat - The Spell - CD [UK release - US release probably never]

Christina Aguilera - Bionic - CD [Aggie + Ladytron? I'm curious.]

The Cure - Disintegration - 2xCD/DVD [we can finally lay these Cure remasters to rest]

Duran Duran - Duran Duran & Seven and the Ragged Tiger 2xCD/DVD re-issues in March

Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
Battles - LP2
!!! - LP4
LCD Soundsystem - LP3

all supposedly coming in Q1.

Later on:

School of Seven Bells!
Duran Duran album whatever number we're on!
Sound of Arrows debut!

2010 is shaping up to be an expensive year.