For the love of men and music

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Keith Anderson - Five Stories

With his bluesy drawl and emo boy looks, Keith Anderson is a bit of a contradiction in terms. After ages of putting it off (I must admit, I was convinced it would be so damn sincere), I finally listened to his debut album EP Five Stories.

The first thing that struck me (apart from the maturity in his voice – he’s got a sort of youthful Tom Waits thing going on) was how funny he actually is. With lines such as; “Everybody’s looking for a carbon copy of themselves – maybe with better hair” and titles such as Wank Fodder (singing about how it feels to break up with someone but not be able to forget them completely – so they become..well..wank fodder) – I couldn’t help but smile whilst listening to the album. The songs themselves are folksy (not used as a pejorative!) songs dealing with love, heartache, memories and loss.

Whilst the comparisons to artists such as Ani diFranco and Eric Himan are to a certain extend inevitable, this is no bad thing, as they have themselves defined the contemporary queer-folk voice.

Visit Keith’s Myspace to listen to more tracks off his EP.

MP3: Keith Anderson – This Changes Everything (Expired)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Boys Are Live

The Pet Shop Boys. Rufus Wainwright singing a Pet Shop Boys track. Robbie Williams singing a PSB track. Francis Barber (from the original cast of Closer to Heaven) dueting with Neil Tennant.

Sounds good doesn’t it? And it is! If you didn’t listen to Radio 2 this weekend, you will have missed the fantastic PSB concert for the BBC. On stage with Neil and Chris were the 60 (approx) members of the BBC Concert Orchestra with music direction by the legendary Trevor Horn.

Featuring classic PSB tracks and tracks from Fundamental, the concert was a wonderful showcase for the songwriting talents of the boys.

You can still listen to the concert at the BBC Radio 2 site.

MP3: Rufus Wainwright – Casanova in Hell (live) (Expired)
MP3: Frances Barber – Friendly Fire (live) (Expired)
MP3: Robbie Williams – Jealousy (live) (Expired)

Pet Shop Boys – Fundamental

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Cleaning Up The Y2K Vaults

I was doing a bit of cleaning up (for those who know me well, you will appreciate this is a feat in itself), and came across (keep it clean kids, this is a family audience) a computer backup CD from 2000. Apart from the usual crap I deemed important to backup (CV, porn etc) there was a folder of ‘current music’ – which I listened proceeded to whilst pottering about the house and cleaning up.

I hadn’t heard quite a few of the tracks for a while, so, whilst I’m continuing to work through all my crap – I give you a taster of my Y2K.

MP3: Precious – Rewind (Expired)
MP3: Diana Ross – Not Over You Yet (Expired)
MP3: Wamdue Project – King Of My Castle (Expired)
MP3: Salt ‘n’ Pepa – The Brick Track vs. Giddy Up (Expired)
MP3: Planet Perfecto – Bullet In The Gun (Expired)
MP3: Les Nubians – Taboo (Expired)
MP3: Lulu – Where The Poor Boys Dance (Expired)
MP3: Dream Teem vs. Neneh Cherry – Buddy X ‘99 (Expired)
MP3: Danny Tenaglia – Music Is The Answer (Expired)
MP3: Divine – Lately (Stargate Rmx) (Expired)
MP3: Sweet Female Attitude– Flowers (Expired)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friends from Barcelona

It's pissing it down outside – it’s nearly June, and I’m still wearing my winter coat and dreaming of more tropical climes.

Instead of finishing off my powerpoint for the project closure, I’m listening to yet another fantastic swedish band I’m From Barcelona. Reminding me of Magnetic Fields, Guillemots and The Magic Numbers and sounding like none of them (which only really goes to prove that I’m crap at comparing music), Let Me Introduce You To My Friends is a joyful album full of infectious quirky tunes reminiscent of summer holidays and sunnier times.

Have a listen whilst I hurriedly try to finish the presentation.

MP3: I’m From Barcelona – We’re From Barcelona (Expired)
MP3: I’m From Barcelona – This Boy (Feat Lonely, Dear) (Expired)
MP3: I’m From Barcelona – Collection Of Stamps (Expired)

WTF Disco Part 2 - Ethel Puts On A Show

If Disco Mickey is the Ford of WTF Disco, then the Merc of the genre has to be The Ethel Merman Disco Album.

This is the disco album "the Merm" recorded in 1979, a few years before her death. Rumour has it that Merman couldn't stand the disco craze that was sweeping the nation in the late '70s, recording her vocals before the instrumental tracks were laid down.

Truly one of those WTF were they thinking moments, to coin a phrase from the liner notes, Ethel is “hot as a pistol!”

MP3: Ethel Merman – There’s No Business Like Show Business (Disco version) (Expired)
MP3: Everythings Coming Up Roses (Disco Version) (Expired)

Ethel Merman - The Ethel Merman Disco Album

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Even More Invincible

Whilst I’m still reeling from the foil trousers and blue cape combination sported by Carola at this year’s Eurovision, I can’t help feeling that she would have garnered more of the pink votes, had she sung the Soundfactory Remix.

MP3: Carola – Invincible (Soundfactory Radio Edit) (Expired)

A Whiter Sound

Isn’t it odd that regardless of where in the english speaking world a singer comes from these days, the minute they start to get any commercial success, they start to sing in that odd faux-american accent? It’s one of the things that really annoys me – especially when done by boybands – as if it wasn’t irritating enough that for boys from essex would use slang they think the folks on the streets of new york are using.

Anyway, I digress – the reason for bringing up the whole accent thing, is that on the way down to London, I was suddenly reminded (player on random) of the only singer I’ve heard for a while (Rolf Harrison aside) who sings with a strong Australian accent: Missy Higgins is an australian folk singer who sings the most wonderful lovelorn ballads. Whilst critics may dismiss her as yet another Norah Jones type in a sea of piano driven songwriters, what Missy has that sets her aside for me is a real ear for a tune, as well as wonderful turn of phrase e.g. "We'll make friends with the milkman and the butcher Mr. Timms will give us discounts when he can,".

There are times in life where you just want to sit back, and give into the soppier side of yourself (without trying to find a Norah or worse yet Celine record) – for those times in your life, I recommend The Sound Of White as a good starting point.

MP3: Missy Higgins – Special Two (Expired)
Missy Higgins – Don’t Ever (Expired)
Missy Higgins – Ten Days (Expired)

Buy: Missy Higgins - The Sound Of White

I Think I Love Her

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

WTF Disco - Mickey Mouse Disco

My first post on this blog (almost a month ago) started off with a disco track. As I said then, my formative years were spent listening to disco records, playing with my parents’ glitter ball and wrecking their strobe machine. There’s something about the funky bass, the the noodley synths and the general decadence I associate with the ‘disco life’.

That said, the popularity of disco led to the recording of what are essentially disco pastiches (I’m being generous here) which sound like disco records, but the mind boggles as to the rationale behind them. I lovingly refer to this sub-genre of disco as WTF Disco.

My favourite WTF Disco record has to be Mickey Mouse Disco. Released by Walt Disney Records in 1979, MMD includes disco-fied versions of Disney classics and Disney-fied versions of disco classics.

Currently the recording is out of print, and is fetching up to $65 for a CD copy.

The quality is a bit scratchy as it’s ripped from the original vinyl, but I like to believe it gives it that extra retro feel.

For lovers of novelty disco or Disney, this is a must have – for everyone else…erm..stay clear. .

MP3: Disco Mickey Mouse (Expired)
MP3: Welcome To Rio (Expired)
MP3: The Greatest Band (Expired)
MP3: Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah (Expired)
MP3: Macho Duck (Expired)
MP3: Mousetrap (Expired)
MP3: Watch Out For Goofy! (Expired)
MP3: It's A Small World (Expired)
MP3: Chim Chim Cher-ee (Expired)

Zip File: Download zip file (Expired)

Buy: Mickey Mouse Disco

Monday, May 22, 2006

Baby I've Been Here Before

In season one of the O.C. we had "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley. In season two we had "Hide & Seek" by Imogen Heap. Since it's the last year for all four main characters together, Josh Schwartz gave us something that mixes a little bit of both; the season 1 & 2 finale. Sung by Imogen Heap, it’s an a-capella version of Hallelujah.

MP3: Imogen Heap – Hallelujah (A-capella) (Expired)

It's a Hardcore Life

How is it possible that Sweden can produce so much great music from a country so small? With a population smaller than that of London, every week I’m coming across fantastic pop music from a Swedish band.

There’s something suspicious going on – my keen instincts tell me there is a clearly a government sponsored programme to only allow those Swedes capable of producing a pop album to breed therefore increasing the PPC (pop-per-capita) count.

This is a round-up of the Swedish artists that have been getting repeated play:

First up, we have Lo-Fi-Fnk who have just released their debut album Boylife. The album is full of classic 1980’s new wave synths layered under vocal harmonies. The album has a very personal feel to it, covering topics such as coming out (Steppin’ Out), not feeling like you fit in rural surroundings (City) and learning from your mistakes (System).

Continuing on the 80’s influenced theme, Le Sport say their aim is to create “beautiful melodies that make every human feet turn in the direction of a dance floor”. With songs that remind you of Pet Shop Boys, Human League and Saint Etienne, as well as a sprinkling of italo-disco piano riffs, Euro Deluxe Dance Party pretends (successfully) that 1985 is being kept well and truely alive in Stockholm.

One of my favourite discoveries of last year was BWO (then known as Bodies Without Organs) which was formed by Alexander Bard of Army of Lovers fame . Not to be outdone by her former bandmate, Dominika Peczynski started a new project (which she has since left) Nouveau Riche. Fans of AOL will instantly recognise the big bold euro-pop which continues in the well worn (but nonetheless) enjoyable path trodden by the likes of BWO, AOL and pretty much every Swedish eurovision entry.

MP3: Lo-Fi-Fnk – Adore (Expired)
Mp3: Lo-Fi-Fnk – City (Expired)

Mp3: Le Sport – Your Brother Is My Only Hope (Expired)
Mp3: Le Sport – Tell No-one About Tonight (Expired)

Mp3: Nouveau Riche – Hardcore Life (Expired)
MP3: Nouveau Riche – Oh Lord (Expired)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

It's Off to Helsinki

It was clear from a mile off, but Finland won the song contest in an otherwise dull contest. Frankly, the deserved the prize for being one of the few bands NOT to be dressed in white.

MP3: Lordi - Hard Rock Hallelujah (Finland) (Expired)
Mp3: Dima Bilan - Never Let You Go (Russia) (Expired)
Mp3: Hari Mata Hari - Lejla (Bosnien & Herzegovina) (Expired)
MP3: Elena Paparizou - Mambo (Interval Act) (Expired)

Buy: Eurovision 2006 Album

Friday, May 19, 2006

God does not love Silvia

So, inspite of all the hype and noise, Silvia Night did not make it through to the Eurovison finals. And (gasp!) Lithuania did. In the UK, we’ve long joked about the block voting that seems to occur within Eastern Europe, and this is clearly a result, as frankly, the song is crap.

I watched Silvia’s performance and I don’t think she did herself any favours; it was a bit too camp and she came across as a bit pretentious and squeaky. I few less Aqua impressions and a bit more vocal training (oh, and no slagging off the host country – even in jest – humour does not travel well) and we could have been seeing on her Saturday. 


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Different Drum

One of my favourite songs of all time (judged by whether I sing it in the shower or not) has to be PP Arnold’s cover of the Mike Nesmith classic Different Drum.

Produced by Steve Craddock of Ocean Colour Scene (she sings on a couple of OCS tracks), this song is 2.28 of pure perfection to me. From the wonderful roughness of PP’s voice which has weathered the storms to the wonderful retro production giving it mod feel. As a self confessed commitment-phobe (wow– I’m revealing things about myself – this is like a real blog), the I find the lyrics spot on the mark too.

Have a listen and feel free to imagine me in the shower.

MP3: PP Arnold – Different Drum (Expired)
PP Arnold – Different Drum

All Over Blogging Town

Xolondon has been getting very excited about The Upper Room recently, and I can see what he’s on about.

Borrowing from the likes of Morrissey, Coldplay, We Are Scientists et al, they’ve come up with a strong debut album (or techically a repackaging and shifting about of their debut album), that sees a release on May 29th at a record shop near you.

Stand out tracks for me are; All Over This Town, Black and White, Portrait and Combination.

MP3: The Upper Room – Girl (Expired)
MP3: The Upper Room – Portrait (Expired)

MP3: The Upper Room – It Began On Radio (Expired)

Buy: The Upper Room - Other People's Problems

Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh My!

Probably my favourite pastime in the world (well, that isn’t R rated) is going going through bargain bins at record shops trying to find a rare (as in unknown to me, as opposed to collector) in there for under a fiver.

A few months ago on one of my discovery jaunts, I picked up Lions and Tigers and Bears by Victor Malloy.

The album blurb gives us the self-effacing measure of this Scots duo, neither of whom is called Victor Malloy: "Recorded in Russ's bedroom using one Minidisc mic, an Apple Mac computer and loads of instruments". The instruments include the definitive tools of tweeness - melodica, ukulele and banjo - and they come across as lo-fi/electro cousins of the template of tweeness; Belle and Sebastian.

Tracks such as 'Girl In The Hood' and 'Love The Rain' are gentle everyday observations of life around them. Layered harmonies and sometimes complex rhythms create something fresh and romantic. "Elephants", "Different Time" and "Could have been Anything" show the more abstract directions of the band - here they twist harmonies similar to The Beatles and The Beach Boys to convey child like fantasies, all quite surrealist and completely unique.

If you’re looking for a rainy sunday afternoon, you’d do worse than checking out Victor Malloy.

MP3: Victor Malloy – The Girl In The Hood (Expired)
MP3: Victor Malloy – Love The Rain (Expired)
MP3: Victor Malloy - A Night In Vegas (Expired)

Buy: Victor Malloy – Lions And Tigers And Bears

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

It's Showtime Synergy!

Looking back at my childhood, I realise I never really had a chance – as if it wasn’t bad enough to be brought up on a steady diet of musicals and disco, one of my favourite cartoons as a kid was Jem.

Jem was an American cartoon series about a singer, Jem, her band the Holograms, and their adventures. Catch phrases from the show included "Showtime, Synergy!" and "Outrageous!" (the latter usually associated with supporting character Kimber).

We loved her so much in our house, that my sister had a Jem doll, and at the tender age of 9, I choreographed a routine to ‘Twilight in Paris’ for her and her friend to perform at the school talent show.

Looking back (once I’ve gotten over the sheer horror of how I displayed camp tendencies at such a young age), my preference has shifted from the clearly frigid Holograms to the wild Misfits (clearly those girls knew how to have a good time) – and can’t help noticing more than a passing musical resemblance between Girls Aloud songs and those of the Misfits.

I’ve done a trawl round the net and have a few gems (geddit? gediit? groan.) to share with you – the quality is not great, but the original tracks were on cassette.

If there’s a bring Jem back campaign anywhere round the internet – let me know where to sign.

Jem & The Holograms

MP3: Gettin’ Down To Business (Expired)
MP3: Glitter ‘n’ Gold (Expired)
MP3: Music is Magic (Expired)
MP3: Only The Beginning (Expired)
MP3: Truly Outrageous (Expired)
MP3: Twilight in Paris (Expired)

The Misfits

MP3: Makin’ Mischief (Expired)
MP3: Outta My Way (Expired)
MP3: Takin’ It All (Expired)
MP3: Winning Is Everything (Expired)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Dream On - Christian Falk feat Robyn & Ola Salo


MP3: Dream On (Expired)
bonus MP3: Dream On (Live at P3
Guld Galan) (Expired)

Lovesong for a cowboy

I’m not sure what it is about gayers and pop music, but half the blogs I visit on a regular basis seem to be run by gay men (and one a couple of women I’m convinced are gay men e.g Poptastic)– but apart from the odd mention of Scissor Sisters or Rufus, there aren’t a lot of entries about music by LGBT artists.

Now the whole idea of an LGBT artists seems to raise eyebrows whenever I mention the lack of visible artists in the press – but I think that it is important that as a community (contention continues) that we support and raise the visibility of LGBT artists who not only have the courage to be out in their personal lives, but more importantly to sing songs with an unambiguous queer voice (e.g actually using ‘he’ rather than the more vague ‘you’).

If ever there was a genre suited to the ‘gay voice’ – torch songs aside (we’re so tragic dontcha know?) – country and western probably has to be it. Men talking about being men, spending time out on the frontier in the company of other men, an outfit that comes with accessories (hat? check. spurs? check. chaps? check.) – surely it didn’t take Brokeback Mountain to make the obvious connections?

The most popular gay C&W/folk artist around now has to be Mark Weigle. His songs are simple, mainly acoustic country-folk sung in a smooth baritone. He takes on subjects such as bears, living with AIDS and even watersports with a gentle humour and simplicity.

His songs may not rate that highly on the ‘cool’ meter, but I have to admit that I get a tingle when I hear him sing love songs to another man, or sing about an older gay men looking back at his life and his loves. It isn’t often that those emotions are expressed musically and certainly not with the clarity and conviction that Mark Weigle brings to the songs.

Whilst I recognise the mixture of folk, country and queer lyrics may not be for everyone, if artists like Garth Brooks, Joan Baez or even at times Ani Difranco ever appear on your playlist, then I would definitely recommend giving Mark Weigle a go.

MP3: Mark Weigle – Jo and Libby (Expired)
MP3: Mark Weigle – Love Song to a Stranger (Expired)
MP3: Mark Weigle – Cody (Expired)
MP3: Mark Weigle – Out (Expired)
MP3: Mark Weigle – Hidden Live Track (Expired)
bonus MP3: Willie Nelson – Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly (Fond Of Each Other) (Expired)

buy: Mark Weigle Albums

Monday, May 15, 2006

On the turntable

Sometimes you just want to dance. You just wanna fuckin' dance.

Now you can. These are the tracks that have had me dancing round the living room this week.

MP3: Bloc Party - Banquet (Boys Noize Vox Mix) – Marvellous dance remix of classic track!
Buy: Kitsune Maison Vol.2 (Contains the Bloc Party Remix)

MP3: Fujiya & Miyagi - Ankle Injuries – They’re not Japanese you know. (Expired)
Buy: Fujiya & Miyagi - Transparent Things

MP3: Brakes – All Night Disco Party (Graham Sutton Mix) – Great new remix from the Bark Psychosis/Boymerang legend (Expired)
Buy: Brakes - All Night Disco Party (original version)

MP3: Tigarah – Japanese Queen – She is Japanese - and destined to be this year’s M.I.A. (Expired)
Buy: Visit Tigarah’s site to buy her fantastic EP

MP3: Coburn – Give Me Love (Original Mix) – It’s like I Feel Love all over again (Expired)

Remember kids – keep the curtains drawn – dancing in your underwear is not a pretty sight.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

They Are The Pipettes!

We' ve had to wait too long for this! The Pipettes are finally releasing their debut album of glorious 60s inspired girl group harmonies. We Are The Pipettes is released on 17th July on Memphis Industries.

The album continues where tracks like Judy and Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me left off. Reminiscent of 60s girls groups like the Shangri-las or The Shirelles, the album is full of potential singles covering the topics that we can all relate to ; one night stands, crushes and trying to get someone into bed.

I'm really struggling to choose the best tracks off the album to share, as they're all great in their own special way (and none of them outstay their welcome, with the longest track at 3.03).

The first single off the album; Pull Shapes is released on the 7th July. Must buy!

MP3: The Pipettes - Pull Shapes (Expired)
MP3: The Pipettes - Judy (Expired)
MP3: The Pipettes - One Night Stand (Expired)
MP3: The Pipettes - I Love You (Expired)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

X like a Fugitive (New Richard X & Pet Shop Boys collaboration)

It should have been a match made in heaven – Richard X producing a Pet Shop Boys track – but whilst I love the sound effects used on Fugitive (i see the PSB’s chasing villains in a space shuttle), the actual tune is fairly mediocre. Richard X brings his trade mark 80s synth sound, which ironically makes the track sound more up-to-date than the album tracks on Fundamental, and suggests that with better tunes, Richard X could produce a fantastic PSB album.

The Fundamentalism cd features remixes from Alter Ego, Lobe, Trentmoller & Stuart Crichton.

MP3: Pet Shop Boys – Fugitive (Richard X Extended Mix) (Expired)
MP3: Pet Shop Boys – Psychological (Alter Ego Remix) (Expired)
Buy: Pet Shop Boys – Fundamental/Fundamentalism

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

My Life Story

I discovered the joys of Indie-pop in 1996. At school I’d been aware of the whole Oasis vs Blur thing, but it hadn’t really registered as something that would resonate with me. Brit pop seemed too abrasive and guitar based at school, but starting university, it all suddenly made so much more sense.

It all came to a head on my first visit to Dynamite Boogaloo – this was the place to go to on a Thursday night in Brighton. A tiny basement club off one of the high streets, it was (is?) a mad mix of pop, indie, easy listening and whatever else the DJs had bought that week. With a scary cabaret (you didn’t want to be near the front incase you were picked by Boogaloo Stu) and glamorous (in an indie/student chic kind of way) crowd, this was definitely my favourite night out.

The song that defines that moment in time has to be My Life Story’s Sparkle. For fan’s of Divine Comedy, Morrissey, Marc Almond etc, MLF were a band who created fantastic orchestral indie songs.

In March 2006 the band announced that they would be reforming to play some shows in support of their forthcoming "Best Of" album.

MP3: My Life Story – Sparkle (Expired)
MP3: My Life Story – Strumpet (Expired)
My Life Story - Golden Mile

Eurotrash Freak

It probably won’t come to folks, that as a gay man living in the UK, I have a soft spot for the Eurovision Song Contest. It’s cliche I know, but there’s just something so damn entertaining about mediocre pop, over the top histrionics and the general cheesiness of it all. This year’s entries are the usual mix of love-lorn ballads (yawn), ethno beats (that’ll be the Eastern European contingency) and MOR pop-by-numbers.

There’s a disappointing lack of the fantastic euro-pop that ESC is renowned for – over the past few years, everyone seems to be taking it way too seriously – and it seems that the idea is to be as boring (and dare I say straight) as possible.

Thank god for Iceland. With a cross between Britney and Lene from Aqua, Sylvia Night is the true Eurovision star – in a similar vein to Dana International – a song with a great hook, looks like she’s coked up to the high heavens and has an appreciation for gay men.

An honorary mention must also go to the Slovenian entry for being..well..a gay superhero. It’s tacky, it’s tragic and I’ve just played it three times in a row.

The nulle points prize must to Lithuania, who have given a whole new meaning to thinking positive by writing a song about how they’re going to win. Except they’re not. Not a chance in hell. None. Sorry. (And on a pedantic point – you can’t claim to be the winners and then ask people to vote for the winners.)

So remember kids. Vote for Iceland – or Silvia will come and kick your ass.

MP3: Silvia Night – Congratulations (Expired)
MP3: Anzej Dezan - Mr.Nobody (Expired)
MP3: LT United - We Are The Winners (Expired)

Buy: Eurovision 2006 Album

Monday, May 08, 2006

Presence - All Systems Gone

Ahh….the summer of 1999 – I remember it well. I’d graduated, was chilling in London, in between degrees – the weather was fantastic and I’d just come back from Barcelona and Brighton. This was the summer for all summers to beat. Listening to All Systems Gone, and it all comes back to me.

One of the seminal deep house albums, ASG features the vocals of Shara Nelson and Sara Jay (both who have also featured on a number of Massive Attack tracks.). A stunning album, it evokes the lazy summers on the beach (or the pebbles that make up Brighton Beach).

If you are a fan of Everything But The Girl’s Temperamental or Rae & Christian’s Northern Sulphuric Soul, this is one album you have to check out.

MP3: Presence – Future Love
MP3: Presence – Sense of Danger
MP3: Presence – Far Far Away From My Heart
Presence - All Systems Gone

Saturday, May 06, 2006

B side boys

The Pet Shop Boy’s latest single, I’m with Stupid, hits the stores– whilst I’m not the biggest fan of the single (there are definitely stronger tracks on the album), the B side track Girls Don’t Cry is a beautiful PSB mid-tempo ballad.

MP3: Pet Shop Boys – Girls Don’t Cry (Expired)
MP3: Pet Shop Boys – I’m With Stupid (Max Tundra Remix)
MP3: Pet Shop Boys – I’m With Stupid (Melnyk Heavy Petting Mix) (Expired)
Buy: Pet Shop Boys – Fundamental

Smoosh and run

I really wanted to like this one; I’ve been listening to a copy of Smoosh’s latest album Free to Stay this morning, and I have to say that its…well…ok. That’s kinda it.

Yes, it is amazing that two girls under 15 can come up with songs that sound (even if they’re not sung) mature, and not the ‘pop’ you would normally expect from kid bands, but I’m not feeling it. Yes, there are a couple of strong tracks on the album that elevate themselves from the sort of stuff they play in the background in the O.C. But there’s something in the emotionless, child-like (heck – they are kids) delivery and the cheap keyboards that leaves me cold.

Have a listen and let me know what you think.

Free To Stay is out on the 20th June on Barsuk.

MP3: Free To Stay (Expired)
MP3: Slower Than Gold (Expired)
MP3: Find A Way (Expired)

MP3: Waiting for Something (Expired)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Musing the Divine

I was introduced to The Divine Comedy by guy I had an enormous crush whilst I was at university – I bumped into him on campus and saw that he’d been shopping for CDs. (Cue: conversation opportunity.) The rest as they say his history – the guy turned out to be painfully dull, but I’ve been a fan of TDC ever since then.

June sees the release of the latest TDC offering; Victory For The Comic Muse, and I’m glad to say it doesn’t disappoint. One of Neil Hannon’s strength has always been his ability to make a record that sounds both modern and old fashioned (in a historical rather than modish sense), and this continues with VFTCM which goes from the (relative to the rest of the album) MOR The Light Of Day to the cinematic The Plough.

The album’s lyrics continue to show off Hannon’s way with words – his ability to capture those twisted little moments in a couple of phrases; “hollow heart gave out one Christmas, he left the villa to his mistress in Barcay”.

On the first few listens, the album has proven to be a welcome return, and one of the delights of the year so far.

The lead single off the album Diva Lady will be released on the 12th June.

MP3: A Lady Of A Certain Age (Expired)
MP3: The Light Of Day (Expired)
MP3: Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World (Expired)
The Divine Comedy - Victory for the Comic Muse

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Set adrift on a PJ Tips - 27th April

I've been meaning to post this since Popjustice did their 27 April tips, but what with Camera Obscura and Lily getting in the way, this kinda slipped down the posting ladder.

So, here we are - better late than never. Your chance to listen to the tracks recommended by PJ's friends and foes:

Alexa Chung, host, Popworld: Ordinary Boys Vs Lady Sovereign - '9 To 5' "It's not a combination I'd expect to like and probably for that reason it's really taken me by surprise - I love the hooks and it's very catchy."

Isabelle Erkendal, singer, West End Girls: Depeche Mode - 'Lilian' "I really really like Depeche mode. On every record there is always a favourite, which you love from the very first play. On Playing The Angel, that song was Lilian. The kind of pop song that only DM are able to do."

Helen Lawrence, Editor, Paul Oakenfold feat Brittany Murphy - 'Faster Kill Pussycat' "Perfect for those times in the office when the danceheads won't let me listen to any more Girls Aloud."

Ralph Moore, senior music editor, Mixmag: Nelly Furtado - 'Promiscuous' “I've been trying to find something to WHOLEHEARTEDLY recommend for your fine website, and since only half the new Pet Shop Boys album is doing it for me, it falls to Nelly Furtado's new album 'Loose' to get our recommendation this week. Coming on like mid-eighties Madonna trying to out-Vogue late-nineties Missy, there's not a duff track in sight. 'Promiscuous' is our favourite track this week."

Ste Ackroyd, Editor, Thisisfakediy: The Lodger - 'Let Her Go' "Because, quite simply, there isn't a better 'we're indie, but in a good way, don't you know' pop band in the world right now than The Lodger. Wonderfully bitter but a little bit sweet too, they've got this flippin' ace knack for writing the best tunes imaginable. This one fumbles about with the heart strings a while before pulling out of nowhere a Bloody Good Chorus that makes everyone smile. Everyone. And they're bloody nice people too."

There we go - quite a nice collection to get your teeth into.

MP3: Ordinary Boys Vs Lady Sovereign - 9 To 5 (Expired)
Buy: Ordinary Boys Vs Lady Sovereign - 9 To 5
MP3: Depeche Mode - Lilian (Expired)
Buy: Depeche Mode - Playing the Angel
MP3: Paul Oakenfold feat Brittany Murphy - Faster Kill Pussycat (Expired)
Paul Oakenfold feat. Brittany Murphy – Faster Kill Pussycat
MP3: Nelly Furtado – Promiscuous
Buy: Nelly Furtado – Loose
: The Lodger – Let Her Go (Expired)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Annie's got a brand new Crush

In 2004, the undisputed queen of blogsphere had to be Annie. With her northern europe electro house single Heartbeat, I think it’s fair to say she had the boys and girls quivering at their knees (and sticking her on the top of more than one ‘best of 2004’ lists.)

With the exception of DJ Kicks, it’s been fairly quiet from Annie for the past couple of years – I’ve regularity been trawling the usual haunts trying to get my hands on copies of her supposed new Richard X collaborations, without much avail.

I have however managed to get my hands on a copy of her next single release Crush, which, to be honest, was not at all what I was expecting. Based upon Anniemal, I was expecting more of the twitchy, synthy electropop we’ve heard before. Instead what we get is punk-pop and guitars(?!?). The ice princess has melted to reveal someone who’s been listening to the Ramones.

Released on Dim Mak recordings in June, the 12” is produced by Timo Kaukolampi (who produced half the tracks on Anniemal) and will feature a Richard X remix.

MP3:Annie – Crush (Expired)
Buy: Annie - Anniemal

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Goldfrapp does the boys

Oh, this is just fab! It’s all Marlene Dietrich with 1920’s trombones and a slow Kurt Weilian feel – it’s Goldfrapp’s cover of the Ordinary Boys’ Boys will be boys.

MP3: Goldfrapp – Boys will be boys (Expired)

Razzle Dazzle Camera Obscura

It’s the 2nd of May and the jury is still out as to whether we will get any sun today. I’ve been up since 5:30 a.m. having had to trudge myself all the way up to north-east england for a god forsaken job. I can only thank my lucky stars that I had Camera Obscura’s new album Let’s Get Out Of This Country to hand.

At times heart broken, and at times jubilant, LGOTC is a little treasure. With country licks (I think Dory Previn sample a snippet of Stand by your man), touches of the 50’s, 60’s and and a continuing nod to fellow scots B&S, LGOTC proved the perfect soundtrack to an otherwise grey journey.

MP3: Camera Obscura – Come Back Margaret (Expired)
MP3: Camera Obscura – Country Mile (Expired)
MP3: Camera Obscura – If Looks Could Kill (Expired)
Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out Of This Country

Clearly not so EZ

EZArchive seems to be having a hissy fit and isn’t working – if you are not able to download files, come back later when hopefully normal service shall be resumed.