For the love of men and music

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Beautiful Calm

Fancy having you art work captured for posterity? Sia is offering you the chance to contribute to the artwork for her new album, Some People Have Real Problems. The theme is 'computer art' - submissions need to be in-keeping with Sia's album cover design below.

To enter, you need to create a design based around one of the track titles – in Sia's words - "The less time you spend on it, the more likely I am to use it. Discipline! One minute to draw it - and unleash your inner four year old!".

For those who need some aural inspiration; a couple of album tracks for your enjoyment. Additionally, I’ve posted my favourite Sia remix of Drink To Get Drunk (from the 2002 album, Healing Is Difficult).

Full competition details here.

MP3: Sia – Academia (expired)
MP3: Sia – I Go To Sleep (album version) (expired)
MP3: Sia – Electric Bird (expired)
MP3: Different Gear vs. Sia - Drink To Get Drunk (expired)

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Thing Of Beauty

When you combine the voices of Linda Thompson, Antony and the songwriting craft of Rufus Wainwright, you know you’re probably onto a very good thing; and Beauty from Linda’s first album – Versatile Heart – in five years is a small treasure.

A string driven lament/commentary which is just exquisite in it’s production and in the vocal interplay with Antony providing a bluesy undercurrent to the song. The album also features Martha Wainwright provinding backing vocals on The Way I Love You.

MP3: Linda Thompson feat Antony – Beauty (expired)
MP3: Linda Thompson feat Martha Wainwright – The Way I Love You (expired)

Jason Tonight

Clearly, a party in a box, the new album entitled Tonight from quirky folk-popster Jason Anderson is a rousing sing-along (really – a number if songs actually feature a rousing sing-along). Sounding a bit like Springsteen – Anderson is in a similar vein – an American storyteller who’s in it not for the glory, but the joy of it all (listen to live recordings on his myspace).

And, if that wasnt enough, he’s posted a recipie for guacamole on his myspace:

"mash up four avocados in a medium sized bowl.
do this with an awesome fork.
next, cut up half a big tomato into small chunks and mix those in.
throw some sea salt on there and mash it all around!
then cut a lime in two and squeeze in the juice from one part.
mix it up some more!! then squeeze in the *other* half of that lime!
oh man, it's getting so good!! wowee!"

Fair enough. The album is out on August 5th.

MP3: Jason Anderson – Tonight (expired)
MP3: Jason Anderson – So Long (expired)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ms Ross Is Alive

One of my favourite performances by Diana Ross has to be Rhythm of Life (from the musical Sweet Charity), with The Temptations from the 1969 G.I.T. on Broadway TV special. Ms Ross looks fierce with her black power afro, and inspite of the fact that she can't dance for nuts, there's something quite endearing about the whole trippy affair.

MP3: Diana Ross & The Temptations - Rhythm of Life (expired)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Still Crazy

The best cover versions are the ones that get under a song’s skin, and pull something new out – Shawn Colvin delivers something special with her cover of the Gnarls Barkley monster; Crazy.

MP3: Shawn Colvin – Crazy (expired)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Urban Troubador

I for one had not heard about Eugene McGuiness until just a few days ago, and ever since I've been seeing his name all over the blogosphere. (Well done to his PR people).

McGuinness has the razor-sharp kitchen-sink observation of Jamie T, the peppiness of Jack Penate and the madcap instrumentation (carousel and xylophone, anyone?) of a Patrick Wolf. Englishness permeates his lyrics , namechecking "endless English rain" and mindless daytime TV on his first single Monsters Under The Bed, or telling a cautionary tale of one of Liverpool's less salubrious thoroughfares on the Myrtle Parade and suburban life on Bold Street.

This close to becoming mainstream (though the swearing probably doesn’t make him that radio friendly), Eugene unleashes first full-length album, The Early Learnings Of Eugene McGuinness next month.

MP3: Eugene McGuiness – Monsters Under The Bed (expired)
MP3: Eugene McGuiness – A Child Lost In Tesco (expired)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Superstar Disco

Ah Disco. One of the loves of my life. The magic beat, the seduction of the strings and the drum machine. This was music to dance to on a Saturday night, with sex in the air and the desire to really be free. And then you get WTF (what-the-fuck?) disco.

Firmly rooted in the WTF camp is this lost treasure from 1978 by one Phylicia Rashad aka as Clair Huxtable on the Cosby Show: Josephine Superstar was a concept album was a concept album telling Josephine Baker's life story through disco songs. At the time, Phylicia was married to Victor Willis (the original lead singer of the Village People) and somehow was convinced to do the album – produced by the VIllage People producers Jacques Morali & Henri Belolo. Naturally Morali used both the Village People and the Ritchie Family for backgrounds and enlisted Willis to arrange and co-write most of the material

The album starts off quite dignified, with Allen speaking softly and sincerely about the honor of paying tribute to "the first black female international star," within a few seconds it all descends into some some classic WTF disco –instead if covering Josephine’s songs as you might expect from this sort of endevour, the album instead tells her story with original tracks – predominantly in the first person – that said, they do manage to cover at least one of Josephine's original hits with a disco version of her hit J'ai deux amours (which I’m told is considered to be an all-time cult disco classic – specially in the gay-disco scene – though thankfully I have yet to hear it at any disco I frequent).

Somone in blogland metioned reading recently on the message boards about an interviewer who once asked Ms. Rashad about this album. You'd probably expect her to be a bit embarrassed and to maybe shrug it off, but instead she outright denied it's existence (or at least denied that she'd actually done it) and promptly ended the interview. Who says you need talent to be a diva?

MP3: Phylicia Rashad – Medley: St Louis, Broadway, Star Of Paris (expired)
MP3: Phylicia Rashad – Around The World
MP3: Phylicia Rashad – Medley: J'ai deux amours, Josephine Superstar (expired)
MP3: Phylicia Rashad – Colors (expired)
MP3: Phylicia Rashad – Don’t Cry Mommy (expired)

ZIP: Phylicia Rashad – Josephine Superstar (expired)

The Sound Of Weegie

Apparently Fran Healy of Travis is partially responsible for inspiring young Amy Macdonald (for she’s only 19) picking up her father guitar and unleashing a precocious talent. (She adds that she’s also influenced by Pete Doherty – which proves that he’s not a complete waste of space – and that youth can be foolish.)

After spending her teens playing a few shows around Glasgow and Edinburgh and receiving a good reaction, Amy sent off some demos, recorded on eight-track in her bedroom. She was quickly picked up by Melodramatic Records, a London based production and management company. Within a few months, she’d secured a publishing deal with Warner Chappell and a record deal with Vertigo, home of Razorlight and The Killers.

In a similar vein to KT Tunstall or Janis Ian (check out ‘Between The Lines’ to see what I mean), Amy’s debut album This Is The Life is brimming with great tunes sung in her rich, bell-clear, gutsy vocal and possessing a compelling rhythmic punch and a choruses that swiftly get stuck in your head. Like those who came before her, Amy’s songs are her vehicle to show how see the world; she doesn’t go in for the easy love-lorn ballads, instead choosing to sing about the vacuous nature of celebrity and the hypocrisy of relationships. At times gauche, and others mature, the album is nonetheless a strong indicator that she is someone to watch.

MP3: Amy Macdonald – This Is The Life (expired)
MP3: Amy Macdonald – Let’s Start A Band (expired)
MP3: Amy Macdonald – Footballer’s Wife (expired)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Revolution Starts

I posted a couple of tracks by (swoon!) Ivri Lider a few months back, and am very excited that Jesse has finally been released on the Columbia Record’s gay label compilation: Music With A Twist: Revolutions. The album is a bit hit ‘n’ miss, collecting queer artists that have been hanging around the gay music scene for a few years now (e.g. Levi Kreis, Dylan rice), but still serves as an interesting intro into the queer music scene. Other tracks worth checking out is the white boy soul of Adam Joseph, the Levi Kreis ballad from ‘The Apprentice’.

MP3: Ivri Lider – Jesse (expired)

Shot Of Brandi

One of the standout tracks from the soundtrack of Grey’s Anatomy for me has to be The Story by Brandi Carlile if only for the opening lines; “All of these lines across my face, tell you the story of who I am” – the track is taken from Brandi superb sophmore offering, also called The Story. With a voice that reminds me at times of Patsy Cline, Janis Joplin and Jeff Buckley; Brandi is a seriously talented young woman.

The Story (the album), mixes folk, country and pop to create an album that smacks of authenticity – party down to Brandi’s voice which has the capacity to sound sweet and innocent at one point and then stricken with grief and intense emotion the next. Lyrically, the album is full of poetic lines such as "I started losing sleep and gaining weight, and wishing I was ten again, so I could be your friend again”, that make me smile inspite of the rather depressing content.

If you’re looking for an album that’s comforting as a glass of wine on a winter’s evening, you could do worse than checking The Story out. Whilst not as strong as The Story, Brandi’s self titled debut album is also worth investigating.

MP3: Brandi Carlile – The Story (expired)
MP3: Brandi Carlile – Turpentine (expired)
MP3: Brandi Carlile – What Can I Say (from self titled debut) (expired)

Life Is A Cabaret

The effortlessly gorgeous Billie Ray Martin is back with her latest offering; a modern take on the Moroder sound: Undisco Me.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, Glasgow’s Soma Record have dug through their vaults to release a restrospecive of their releases entitled Soma Coma – full of excellent downtempo electronica, one of my favourite tracks from the album is Bright Lights Fading, a neon-lit cyborg soul missive, augmented by the lush larynx of Billie Ray Martin.

Listening to the two tracks back to back and you truly have the non stop electric cabaret of Ms Ray Martin.

MP3: Billie Ray Martin – Undisco Me (Radio Edit) (expired)
MP3: Slam feat. Billie Ray Martin – Bright Lights Fading (expired)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Step Back In Time

Thinking back to my days at University, I was reminded of two songs that instantly take me back to my first year. As mentioned, the gay clubs in Brighton were one of two options; those playing house or those playing hi-nrg Club Revenge was the venue of choice for those wanting to dance around their actual or proverbial handbags on a Friday night.

Way back then, most single releases didn’t automatically come with a whole host of club remixes (and certainly not always ones that would fit into the rest of a hi-nrg set list, so it was left up to the likes of Almighty and Klone to provide cover versions of whatever was in the charts at the time (which they are still doing, although fewer releases from what I can see.)

The two songs that take me back to the winter of 1996 are Jamie Watson’s cover of the Alison Moyet classic All Cried Out and Newton’s cover of the Dan Hill sobfest Sometimes When We Touch. Neither track is terribly great at what they do, but the fact that they were repeated ad infinitum at the club and a whole host of embarrassing encounters means that listening to these songs take me back to more innocent times. I shudder when I think back to a time when I actually made up dance moves for these songs…

…I guess I should be grateful that neither version has gone down as a classic, and so the memories can be contained (most of the time).

MP3: Jamie Watson – All Cried Out (expired)
MP3: Newton – Sometimes When We Touch (expired)

Clap! Clap!

And we're back. I'd like to pretend that my absence was due to something exciting/tragic, but in reality work was…well…too much work, and I had too many balls in the proverbial air to juggle, so something had to give. But fret not, I have returned (question is, do I have the stamina to keep it up – as it were?)

(This is probably a really good time to say that I am single and still seeking a rich ageing millionaire with a dodgy heart).

Moving on from the attempt to get laid/wealthy, way back in time when I was a student in Brighton, the Thursday night place to go was a great little underground (literally) club to a night called Dynamite Boogaloo – when most other clubs were playing house or hi-nrg on the gay scene, the club light was a breath of fresh air, and very in keeping with the ‘student mentality’.

The club was hosted by Boogaloo Stu, a cabaret artist, and featured a sound track that mixed pop, indie, northern soul and a good healthy helping of cheese. Before the likes of youtube, he would also show mash-ups of forgotten TV gems from the 70s and 80s.

Whilst I had heard most of the stuff that he played, the real eye openers for me were the random selection of 60s pop that he threw in; making the likes of Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones something that seemed perfectly in place next to Pulp and S Club 7.

My favourite song of the night was a toss up between House of Bamboo (frustratingly, I think it was his version rather than the Earl Grant or Andy Williams version) or the simple, but catchy The Clapping Song by Shirley Ellis.

I recency came across a remix of TCS by Player One which turns it into a big beat monster – original and remix shared below.

On the similar note of taking a classic track and giving it a tweak is Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons with 'Beggin (Pilooski Re-Edit). I hadn’t actually heard the original till recently – but with a few edits, he’s taken the original and given it something special. The record company had probably hoped that this would go down the same road as Elton John’s remix of Are You Ready For Love – but today’s chart entry of #32 means it’ll probably disappear by next week.

Now where’s the talcum powder for the floor?

MP3: Shirley Ellis – The Clapping Song (Player One ReThink) (expired)
MP3: Shirley Ellis – The Clapping Song (Original) (expired)
MP3: Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons – Beggin' (Pilooski Re-Edit) (expired)
MP3: Frankie Valli & the Four Season – Beggin' (Original) (expired)