Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Santa down the chimney Sweep

Christmas comes but once a year, but when it does it brings good reminiscing, or something. And that retrospective starts tomorrow with our Advent Calendar Of Music, 24 really quite good tracks from the year that you might have missed, be they great single shot right across the collective bows, offcuts from underwhelming albums or the like. Then on Monday 11th December we begin our big countdown, which we won't give away the USP of yet suffice to say that the more astute of you will notice that date is twenty days off New Year's Day, which is the day we'll list our top 50 singles of the year. Oh, and there'll be the usual gubbins alongside it all as we go. All here on your festive Sweeping The Nation!

In the meantime, some outlinking: Jamie's Runout Groove reminds us of Serum's bass and harmonies oddity Know How, Mr Red Penguin pays tribute to Sultans Of Ping and the 2006 Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame - the proper one - nominees are announced. "Let's face it, Black Sabbath has never been media darlings" quoth Ozzy the first time they were nominated. Sharon presumably forgot to have a word with him in time.

EDIT: Oh, hold up, it appears The Art Of Noise's A-Z Of Music has had to get to C before we've remembered to link to it.

Singles barred

1 Madonna - Hung Up
Presumably scheduled to be in advance of the Kaballah Centre's paid for advertorial, we caught Truth Or Dare, some say In Bed With, on satellite over the weekend. Does she just forget she's being filmed despite being right next to the camera?

4 Simon Webbe - No Worries
Up three! Who decided this was the week to buy this? Who decided any week was the week to buy this?

6 Gorillaz - Dirty Harry
One of our favourite memories of the year is someone claiming that their advance copy of Demon Days had been spoilt by what was obviously a Christian fundamentalist overlaying choirs on certain tracks. So much for foisting creativity on the masses.

10 Tom Novy - Your Body
Formerly half of Novy vs Eniac - Eniac is currently appearing in Run For Your Wife at the Savoy Theatre, Burnham - it's a big welcome back to the top ten for handbag house, with vocals by the bloke who sang on Luniz' I Got 5 On It. A slow sales week, by any chance?

11 50 Cent - Window Shopper
Evidently not slow enough.

17 Stereophonics - Rewind
By the way, Kelly, was it not enough of a hint that everyone seemed to like Dakota more than your usual fare?

22 Paul McCartney - Jenny Wren
As you may know this is the very Blackbird-esque plucked acoustic track off his new album, which makes us wonder if it was conscientiously thus after the roots revisiting of his previous LP, or whether this is his natural state having returned to playing all the instruments himself. A fine decision, unfortunately about to be swamped by the Yoko-led tide of Lennon anniversary mourning.

26 Goldie Lookin' Chain - R'n'B
A musical target about three years out of date, which at least makes it one of their more contemporary targets.

28 Various Artists - Ever Fallen In Love...
The Peel tribute record, which Radio 1 decided not to playlist. Actually, this is pretty much the most Peel-like thing they could have done.

36 Freefaller - She's My Everything/Basket Case
Bye, then. Yes, that's the Green Day Basket Case, and you can imagine how that makes the transfer to a major label-led skatepop outfit featuring one of Point Break.

42 Antony & The Johnsons - You Are My Sister
Presumably this had a late week spike after the fine performance on Jonathan Ross off the telly's show, as everyone outside our little music sphere has done their best to forget the Mercury result. American!

44 Lady Sovereign - Hoodie
More a victim of timing, the Bluewater thing - couldn't we just ban Bluewater Shopping Centre? - having long passed into the back of the And Finally file for the year. As with MIA her British mix'n'matching is paying off better in America, where she's just signed to Def Jam, than here, where she's corralled onto CD:UK to give Myleene Klass rapping tips.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

In shops tomorrow: 28/10


  • We should be grateful of the Futureheads' Area for many reasons - it's a new track released as a single that isn't being followed by a reissuing of the album, the extra tracks feature Ross and Jaff on lead vocals, there are few who would write a song around home security. Oh, and that it's great.

  • We could have seen King Creosote earlier in the year but ended up having other things to do, which by all accounts is unfortunate. Bootprints comes off the KC Rules OK album and is backed by the Earlies on more immediate form than usual. Must check if this is one of the tracks with KT Tunstall on backing vocals.

  • Can't find links for these, but the Spinto Band's Lipsish double A-side Mountains/Brown Boxes is on vinyl only, while the mighty Young Knives are probably as perplexed as us by the two reviews that compare The Decision to the Darkness. The big one, though, is the giant-sized 'here comes 2006!' sign that is Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's 7" only Is This Love?


  • To start this section, an album you may have already - Want One + Want Two equals Rufus Wainwright's double album Want, apparently the way he wanted it all along, although why he didn't just release it that way is unclear.

  • Back earlier in the year, before all this Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! nonsense, the smart money for the first band to be declared The New Arcade Fire was on Thunderbirds Are Now!, a Detriot collective with Byrnesian vocals, plenty of synths and disco-punk stylings pickpocketed from Andy Gill. Justamustache finally gets a proper British release this week, as does another long-released in America favourite of the art-jerk cognescenti, Les Savy Fav's final album Inches.

  • Ah, Th' Faith Healers. The first band signed to Too Pure, their discordant yelping akin to inventing lo-fi a couple of years too early and compensating by dumping all the distortion and feedback possible on top like Wile E Coyote with his new bag of Acme Quick Drying Cement, god knows what their Peel Sessions sound like.

  • On a very different tack, there must have been hundreds of Very Best of Slades released down the years, but this double set with a cover seemingly developed in Microsoft Paint presents their hard boogie as something to be admired in itself rather than a means to a Christmas song pension plan end.

  • Inevitably, NME Presents The Essential Bands is if anything safer than those Best Bands Ever compilations, only The Automatic - ah, the buy-in - and Test sodding Icicles likely to scare the kids. For the wider picture we must look at Children Of Nuggets - Original Artyfacts From The Second Psychedelic Era 1976-1995, which transcends its attempt at lineage from the original Lenny Kaye curated compilation classic and the idea everyone was mad about it for 19 years. A few names you might recognise creep in - early Bangles, XTC's own Dukes Of Stratosphear, the Cramps, Revillos, Teenage Fanclub, the inevitable Julian Cope, Inspiral Carpets, early Primals and even the La's There She Goes - but there's plenty of retro-flavoured powerpop goodness to newly mint.

  • But what are we going to get the kids this Christmas? Probably more early twentysomethings than six year olds have been awaiting Dick & Dom In Da Bungalow: The Album - featuring The Stoke-On-Trent Song! - but you don't need to go all Daily Mail to appreciate Hello Children Everywhere, three CDs of Junior Choice favourites from the 1920s to early 1970s incorporating everyone from Rolf Harris to Max Bygraves (Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellenbogen By The Sea) via the Kingston Trio, Bernard Cribbins' Right Said Fred, Scaffold's plain scary Lily The Pink and Peter Sellers doing Any Old Iron. What child of the modern age would get any enjoyment from this is a moot point, but we would.


  • Franz Ferdinand's DVD debut will be assured to have smart menus if nothing else. Luckily there is something else - two full gigs plus a full set of offcuts, two documentaries, one inevitably titled Tour De Franz, and, ulp, karaoke tracks.

  • You can't help feeling, though, that that whole artschool schtick and design awareness might have led to something with more side to it like, say, Kaiser Chiefs - Enjoyment, also built around two full gigs but also a 90 minute documentary voiced by Bill Nighy which tells their story from Parva's inception to 2020.

  • Speaking of art school, Radiohead - Live At The Astoria does what it says on the tin, assuming you'd written 'recorded in 1994' on the tin in magic marker first. One final quick sidenote - Guided By Voices - The Electrifying Conclusion is actually out this week.
  • The Weekly Sweep

    Futureheads - Area
    Nizlopi - JCB
    The Decemberists - Los Angeles, I'm Yours
    Breeders - Divine Hammer
    Guillemots - Trains To Brazil
    Semi Finalists - Show The Way
    ¡Forward, Russia! - Twelve
    Kirsty Maccoll - Walking Down Madison
    The Crimea - Lottery Winners On Acid
    Broken Social Scene - Windsurfing Nation

    Saturday, November 26, 2005

    David Hasselhoff not pictured, thank god

    Onwards with our international countdowns, and in the days when MTV's leftfield teletext service would list all the continent's top tens Germany was always the most entertaining, so let's see if they've kept it up...

    20 Anastacia - Pieces Of A Dream
    The eighth biggest selling albums artist in Britain this century, which can only be achieved by SAS levels of stealth. Nobody even noticed when she stopped wearing glasses.

    19 Juanes - La Camisa Negra
    Colombian singer-songwriter, very much a Shakira-meets-James Blunt, who is set to be the lead entertainment at the World Cup draw. A former number one, the title translates as The Black Shirt, which has lead to some worrying about precisely why this has taken off in this country of Mussolini. Looks like Justin Currie out of Del Amitri.

    18 Depeche Mode - Precious
    There's a case for saying they're the biggest fanbase led band in Britain, as radio doesn't seem interested any more yet their first single from each album is guaranteed a high position.

    17 Sean Paul - We Be Burnin'
    Music to shake ass to.

    16 Kelly Clarkson - Behind These Hazel Eyes
    Not as many 'brown eyes' jokes as expected after this came out.

    15 Christina Sturmer - Mama (Ana Ahabak)
    Pinched, shorter haired Lisa Scott-Lee-alike who was a runner-up in Austria's Starmania 2003. More Clarkson than Lemar, it seems.

    14 Mattafix - Big City Life
    Still not popular in Britain, though.

    13 Tokio Hotel - Durch den Monsun
    Four teenagers with their debut single, and we know you can't judge every act on what they look like, but we already hate them on the evidence of...

    12 Banaroo - Coming Home For Christmas
    It's the new Alcazar! Albeit going for it a little early if you ask us.

    11 Fettes Brot - An Tagen Wie Diesen
    Here's a name from our teletext-based past - Mr President must be recording - a Hamburg hip-hop outfit, as worrying a concept as that sounds.

    10 Shakira - Don't Bother
    And the reviews write themselves.

    9 Robbie Williams - Trippin'
    Nobody seems to have noticed that Gary Barlow opened today's reformation press conference with a switch on his opening words for the band's last press conference, "unfortunately the rumours are true..." Wonder if they'll do Smells Like Teen Spirit again.

    8 Tatu - All About Us
    They're lesbians, I heard.

    7 US5 - Just Because Of You
    This is Lou Pearlman's new TV-created charges, following in the footsteps of LFO (one hit) and O-Town (two hits - come on, Liquid Dreams?) Like the Backstreet Boys and N'SYNC Pearlman appears to be launching them on the continent first; unlike the Backstreet Boys and N'SYNC they've not started sueing him yet.

    6 Pussycat Dolls - Don't Cha
    Nicole, Ashley, Kim, Meryl, Maureen and Lemony, or something, are soon to launch their own clothing range. Ann Summers are already planning the design copyright injunction.

    5 James Blunt - You're Beautiful
    Guaranteed never to sound the same after Jeremy Hardy had a go at it in Pick Up Song on Monday's I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue.

    4 Sugababes - Push The Button
    Always remember one of these people can bear to spend large amounts of time with Dave Berry.

    3 Melanie C - First Day Of My Life
    Blimey. This one doesn't even appear to have been released in Britain, which perhaps says a lot about what she thinks of her chances. Maybe she's laying low so nobody can throw quotes back at her round about the Spice reunion tour.

    2 Xavier Naidoo - Dieser Weg
    Manheim's soul boy veteran, the other name we always recall, even if just for that double o at the end.

    1 Madonna - Hung Up
    Tch. Have some variety.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2005

    Awards season

    As kind of promised yesterday, Take Your Medicine hold up the UK side of the intra-blog national polling trend, and once you learn the Arctic Monkeys are down at 13 and it's a load of British music bloggers voting you've probably guessed the winner.

    Meanwhile Popjustice are doing their annual reader's poll their own way, while coming in with proper official organisation and everything, the Plug Independent Music Awards.

    Oh, and according to the print version of the NME (which changes some of the top 20 round, which is hardly fair on us) the Who got into their Fool List for their "15 minute prog-wankery at Live 8". Yes. We all remember that, and all the critical oppobrium heaped upon them afterwards.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    Is this cool?

    Over, then, to this year's NME Cool List, which yet again declaims the notion of 'cool' itself until it refers to people who wear nice tops. Almost a reverse of the FHM list, now we come to think of it. Anyway:

    20 Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance)
    Oh, sod off. The British music press have never quite got emo, or indeed chosen not to get it, perhaps thinking of the Great Goth Wars of 1984. Clearly if it sounds like a rapless nu-metal group it's worth the effort, though.

    19 Henry Harrison (Mystery Jets)
    The senior one, of course, and if we're remembering correctly he seems to own a decent amount of Eel Pie Island too. If he'd finished much higher the papers that picked up on this would have had to explain who he is, which we'd have liked to have seen.

    18 Tom Atkin (The Paddingtons)
    Ugh. Redolent of those uncomfortable weeks when we were told Hedi Slimane should be influencing our music choices - is the pop/fashion tradeoff not normally the other way around?

    17 Billie Joe Armstrong
    And don't the kids just love it!

    16 Paul Epworth
    Was about here in the list last year, since when he appears to have spent his time refining his way of making guitars sound a bit tauter and done some rubbish remixes. Seven months ago it was decided that connecting his name with the word 'ubiquitous' would lead to the word flashing on big black screens behind the speaker while Stephen Fry mock-despairs.

    15 Ninja (Go! Team)
    She's paying for all those cheerleaders, you know.

    14 Julian Casablancas
    This is what's known as application of the advanced coolness factor, given nobody seems all that won over by the new material yet. This is a good time to remember that on their breakthrough UK tour of 2001 they were supported by Mull Historical Society. Whither Colin?

    13 Ryan Jarman (The Cribs)
    Mmm. So of the three singers on the recent NME tour the top 20 finds no room for the very successful and interesting Ricky Wilson or the mildly successful and interesting Paul Smith, but this bloke gets in. This is what passes for intrigue.

    12 Damon Albarn
    About as far from cool as humanly possible during and after the UK Music Hall Of Fame ceremony, which might explain why he's been spending time being lightboxes of late.

    11 Ian Brown
    Surely he's not done that much cool recently? Yes, nostalgia, but if that's the case you might as well put Fruitbat from Carter USM in.

    10 Carl Barat
    Not that he's done anything of note in 2005, but he still wears dark jackets which seems to be the dividing line.

    9 Bob Dylan
    Someone got the DVD set early.

    8 Jemima Pearl (Be Your Own Pet)
    For a band who seem to be making less and less impact since their first single, it's difficult to see why the NME editorial team have chosen the excitable cute blonde 17 year old... oh, wait up.

    7 Pete Doherty
    When he was named top of last year's chart Conor McNicholas defended the decision on the grounds that, whatever you thought of his habits, his story was the NME world story of the year. This year we're not totally sure he's in control of his story.

    6 Devendra Banhart
    Freak folk, a genre that increasingly appears to encompass every solo artist that isn't Phil Collins, is surely no better encapsulated than by Banhart's hirsuteness, self-indulgent gigs and lyrical obsession with mammals. Nobody seems to have bothered trying to describe him.

    5 Brandon Flowers
    Although a pink jacket will do just as well.

    4 Antony Hegarty
    In these days where we know Boy George's gender and every Old R&B singer's colour it's hard to think of anyone who exhibits more disparity between look and sound. In the Mercury-winning photos it looked like he was permanently puffing his cheeks out.

    3 Kanye West
    Just like Michael Moore, he is. We might think more of him if he hadn't spent months before his first record going on about how everyone in rap owed him a living. And if he stopped making bloody awful records, obviously.

    2 Liam Gallagher
    A pejorative question when it comes to this list, of course, but cool in what sense?

    1 Alex Turner
    It's a measure of their rise, if not a particularly saleable one, that most probably wouldn't know this is the Arctic Monkeys singer, much less recognise the distracted-during-pudding-bowl haircut yet. Only a matter of time, of course. While we're about it, Take Your Medicine collates their available mp3s (and their answer to the US Top 40 Bands and 33 Hottest Canadians is on the way)

    They've also done the inevitable Fool List, which looks like this:

    1 Richard Bacon
    2 David Cameron
    3 Prince Harry
    4 Michael Jackson’s Jury
    5 The Who
    6 George Bush
    7 Coca Cola
    8 James Mullord
    9 Tim Westwood
    10 James Blunt
    Bacon has always been a twat, of course, but he's here for his making friends and influencing Magic Numbers, which of course complements Romeo Stodart's place high up in the Cool Li...ah. Not entirely sure what the Who have done to deserve such hatred - nearly taken Zak Starkey away from Oasis? Made people read that supposed Pete Townshend blog? Coca Cola's download service is the only one the NME haven't run an advertising feature on. James Mullord is Pete Doherty's ex-manager, who ought to be on danger money rather than a Fool List. On second thoughts his label were first to sign Towers Of London, which should place him much, much higher.

    Monday, November 21, 2005

    Confessions on a chartfloor

    1 Madonna - Hung Up
    Put it away, luv. If nothing else, and in this case it's nearly literally so, she's stayed true to the spirit of small gigs by big names - most huge acts who announce 'intimate club gigs' book Brixton Academy or Shepherd's Bush Empire. If you're counting, this is Number One #1022, which puts it just outside the spectrum of How To Have 1000 Number Ones The Easy Way.

    3 Black Eyed Peas - My Humps
    Imagine if this became all they were remembered for.

    4 Girls Aloud - Biology
    An intro possibly inspired by a Nokia preset ringtone leads into the usual freeze-dried layered pop, this time so layered they help you see the joins too. Nadine definitely messed up the vocal cue at the Poll Winners' yesterday.

    5 Will Young - Switch It On
    Of "bloody hell, this is Will Young?" fame. A nation of middle aged mothers says "bring back the light jazz!"

    6 Liberty X - A Night To Remember
    The Children In Need single, seemingly picked out of a hat as it's hardly memorable otherwise. At one point on the night they were corralled into the BBC car park to sign a car to be given away, all donning massive coats, apart from Jessica, who was wearing hot pants. There's exuding sexiness, and then there's looking stupid.

    8 The Darkness - One Way Ticket
    Apt that they should come back in the same week as Little Britain, as it's one joke spread out for far too long. We never did quite work out how many people were claiming irony two years ago.

    10 White Stripes - The Denial Twist
    Aided by the live download offer/chart scam. Is there some ulterior reason why this has come out straight after the similarly blues piano/cymbal/tambourine-indebted My Doorbell?

    13 Son Of Dork - Ticket Outta Loserville
    You're not from New York City, you're from Southend. James Bourne, perhaps the last man in the country who believes Busted could have continued along the same path for a while longer yet, makes so much like the wing of US pop-punk that doesn't sell here that he's had a New Found Glory t-shirt soldered to his skin. (NB. Wikipedia claims Charlie Simpson's guitar style is "reminiscent of Tom Verlaine")

    17 Green Day - Jesus Of Suburbia
    In which they realise they've become popular with the kids and release the nine minute track with five phases. Doesn't work, but then we doubt the kids are noticing the political aspirations therein either.

    29 Arcade Fire - Wake Up
    John Harris in the Guardian becomes the only person in Britain not to notice Funeral's already getting plenty of Album Of The Year notices.

    30 Towers Of London - How Rude She Was
    Are you still here?

    35 The Modern - Jane Falls Down
    An electropop outfit, which is handy as if there was an artrock band with that name we'd all be obliged to beat them to death with tyre irons.

    46 Cream vs The Hoxtons - Sunshine Of Your Love
    See, when you're wholesale sampling a record for dance hit purposes, make it one the ironic 80s kids remember!

    Sunday, November 20, 2005

    The ten best moments of the Smash Hits/T4 Poll Winners Party

    ...AKA Where's Fruitbat When You Really Need Him?

    * Keisha Sugababes waving at the camera and getting the biggest roar of their 'set'

    * Billie Joe Armstrong getting a nomination for Most Fanciable Male

    * Every one of Vernon Kay's lines making lead balloon-like

    * Miquita Oliver declaring of Rachel Stevens "you just can't get enough of her", something her record company wish was true

    * Steve Jones introducing Maggot from Goldie Lookin' Chain as what sounded like "Rhys"

    * Miquita's "can I get a boo?", trying to channel UK garage hopefully ironically given nobody knew what that was

    * Oliver referring to Back To The Future as "a 90s movie". We know she was barely born by the start of the 90s, but surely someone should have picked up on that one

    * The sheer incongruity of Son Of Dork taking Hot New Talent ahead of bands who have actually released records

    * The Boy Least Likely To clearly feeling horribly awkward, both for realising they'd been beaten in a popularity contest by the Lidl Thirteen Senses, Kubb, and just because they were there

    * Ashley Cole looking like the most embarrassed man ever as he fulfilled his new role in life on Cheryl Tweedy's coat-tails

    In shops tomorrow: 21/11


  • Antony & The Johnsons seem to have dropped back below the radar they/he briefly vaulted with the Mercury win, meaning you could easily miss this week's release of You Are My Sister. Maybe they really were too off-kilter to be taken in a pop context, or maybe it was all frightened off by the 'but he's American!' backlash. None of those people complained about American acts in the UK Music Hall Of Fame, we bet. Antony is supposedly in the video to Devendra Banhart's Heard Somebody Say too. What would the Star make of him?

  • Hard to tell what more the Dead 60s can do without following supposed bretheren Hard-Fi into the top end of the charts. It's not as if Ghostfaced Killer isn't an immediately obvious slice of ska greatness. A dancer, perhaps?

  • We've yielded to few people in our admiration of the Decemberists' Picaresque album, which really should have picked up more than a small cult following by now. It's all those long words! 16 Military Wives has a shot at becoming the big pop hit, coupled with perhaps the video of the year.

  • Pitchfork recently fell into the good old North Eastern trap of placing all emergent artists from the same town, coupling Field Music, the Futureheads and Dave Stewart in with Newcastle's Maximo Park and Washington's Bryan Ferry. It's the former, in at least their third recorded incarnation, who are active this week with If Only The Moon Were Up.

  • That Gorillaz 3D hologram performance at the EMAs was a bit of a letdown, wasn't it? We wanted them to appear in the middle of the stage and be viewed from all angles around, not images that looked like balloon animals on a screen. Dirty Harry, anyway.

  • Even Peelites such as ourselves are beginning to feel this is all being overplayed a bit, and it seems the public agree if Margrave Of The Marshes' 22nd place in last week's Waterstones chart - behind Jeremy Clarkson and Sharon Osbourne, for lord's sake - is anything to go by. Do get it, it's great. This week's addition to the proto-legacy is the Ever Fallen In Love tribute single. How come people are more willing to question the appearance of the Datsuns, who Peel played incessantly during their summer of mild success, than Elton John's?

  • We're getting worried about Lady Sovereign, who seems to be being pitched as a one-woman sidebar to GLC as the comedy rapper with the clothing stance to match, even if it does get her places...

    Image hosted by

    But Basement Jaxx don't just choose to produce anybody, their hands being behind Hoodie, but the attendant Save The Hoodie campaign is getting us nowhere.

  • Paul McCartney will always be our foremost melodysmith, as Blackbird part two manque Jenny Wren proves.

  • We're sure Schwab were briefly around a couple of years ago, but this is the time if any that DJ's In A Row's soul breaks cop show mix should be successful.


  • We'd wondered the other day if there was going to be a proper Johnny Cash single disc retrospective covering his whole career soon, and of course if we missed this one there'll be another one along by Christmas 2008. Beat the rush with The Legend of Johnny Cash, excellently including the live San Quentin version of, well, San Quentin.

  • Speaking of overanthologised bands, this year's Madness Best Of is actually a remaster of Divine Madness with the video compilation DVD tacked on. Waiter!

  • We're sure 4AD were talking about fans being able to put their own label compilations together to celebrate their 25th anniversary, but 1980 Forward - 25 Years Of 4AD is fine enough for the time being, from Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares to the Mountain Goats. This Mortal Coil are being revived next year, we hear.


  • The final Guided By Voices show last New Year's Eve didn't scrimp much - 63 songs in four hours, an onstage bar, assorted ex and wannabe members onstage, Robert Pollard writing another two solo albums (not visible, but can't be ruled out). Guided By Voices : The Electrifying Conclusion is just that, and you might want to also pick up the retrospective book Guided by Voices: A Brief History: Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Roll, complete with foreword by Steven Soderbergh.

  • If that's not long enough for your rock demands, the three volumes of Old Grey Whistle Test DVDs have been boxed up into one nine-hour set of everything from the Edgar Winter Group to the Jesus & Mary Chain.
  • Another sucker falls for phone company's ambient marketing

    We were reminded flicking through Schott's Almanac the other day of the Naomis, those acts for the alleged worst acts of the year that are pitched somewhere between the Razzies and a supposed comedian you've never heard of in a Channel 4 Top 100 going "yeah, I remember he had really stupid hair!" Seriously, who apart from three admin staff at whichever rundown cable channel organises it would have taken a look at Rachel Stevens' 2004 output - we're thinking Some Girls rather than More More More, obviously - and decided it was the worst of the worst? "Worst British attempt at rock"?

    We were reminded of the sheer futility of lists about the worst things in popular culture upon the release of OneTel's top ten of talentless tossers (it says here, if not, we'd suggest, in the press release) to tie in with their UK Music Hall Of Fame sponsorship. And the winners are:

    1 Milli Vaniilli
    2 Steps
    3 Babyshambles
    4 Right Said Fred
    5 Hear'Say
    6 Bros
    7 Westlife
    8 B*Witched
    9 Black Lace
    10 Motorhead

    Motorhead? Were they just thrown in for the sake of it? Does Philthy 'Animal' Taylor owe OneTel's MD money? Of course it's a waste of breath suggesting Babyshambles are the third worst band of all time as most of the voters, if there were voters (we didn't get a form), have probably never heard of them, and they wouldn't be the only entrants in there for reasons not connected to their musical output - even Milli Vanilli's sound wasn't that wide of the mainstream of the time, and haven't we all got over the levels to which the nation sunk during the Hear'Say backlash? We're surprised more than anything not to see Chico there.

    The Weekly Sweep

    Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! - Is This Love?
    New Pornographers - Sing Me Spanish Techno
    Kubichek! - Taxi
    Kathryn Williams - Spit On A Stranger
    Bloc Party - Tulips
    Roxy Music - Virginia Plain
    Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Ramblin' Man
    Young Knives - The Decision
    Field Music - If Only The Moon Were Up
    Amerie - One Thing

    Saturday, November 19, 2005

    Tieing up a loose end-ah

    From the ever worthwhile Fall Multimedia Project, Mark E Smith reads the scores, appraises Ray Stubbs' haircut, fails to walk out or swear

    Don't hold your breath

    The Star is excitedly reporting today that Little Britain's Daffyd could have the Christmas number one. See, all Matt and David have to do is find time in their touring and promotion schedule to pad out the existing song, professionally record it, sign a record deal, get a publisher and then find a gap in the release schedule. Five weeks and counting, lads!

    Incidentally, it's a song we like a lot, but how on earth can William Hill justify making Nizlopi second favourite for the festive top spot when it's had all of two daytime Radio 1 plays, none off Radio 2 and as far as we know nothing else apart from being a record of the week on local station XFM?

    Friday, November 18, 2005

    Norway men

    As part of our international music blog community spirit, and because we mentioned the chart the other week, the Norwegian singles top 20:

    20 Katie Melua - Nine Million Bicycles
    They've never heard of Simon Singh out there. We were watching Fizz, that odd Sky music selection channel between U and The Amp, the other day for the first time in a while and this was on twice in three videos.

    19 Crazy Frog - Axel F
    Note those new Jamster Frog adverts which feature a great big 'NO SUBSCRIPTION' graphic. It's not making anyone like it better.

    18 Westlife - You Raise Me Up
    Not even the popists will go as far as supporting this.

    17 Paperboys - Keep It Cool
    It's Atari's house band! They wear matching yellow caps and blue tops and throw rolled up newspapers into the fans! Not really, it's some sort of Norwegian R&B act.

    16 McKompis - Internatet
    A song about interns using the Internet. Possibly.

    15 t.A.t.U - All About Us
    Maybe a faux-lesbian angle would prop up their sales.

    14 Alejandro Fuentes - Stars
    It's not so easy, this trans-continental sarcasm lark. We found the lyrics to this on a blog and started wondering if David Sneddon's lyrics were all that bad.

    13 Amy Diamond - What's In It For Me
    This meanwhile must surely be an old Mary J Blige out-take. Although home grown she was born in England, which explains the name. She'll being aimed at the international market sooner rather than later, which explains the title. Voice identity ahoy!

    12 Hurra Torpedo - Total Eclipse Of The Heart
    Billed as "the world's leading kitchen appliance rock group" - put that in your pipes and smoke it, Einsturzende Neubauten - a Nowegian viral hit incorporating stove abuse, matching tracksuits and, you'd hope, irony.

    11 Daisy - Weird
    Insert fact-starved reference to Daisy Chainsaw here.

    10 A-Ha - Celice
    We did think it was about time for their irregular comebacks, always well-meaning but always foundering on the rocks of Morten's cheekbones.

    9 Robbie Williams - Tripping
    Rare is the documentary where all five central participants end up coming out of it looking bad.

    8 Mattafix - Big City Life
    Ah, that's where they're big names! Really, the press must stop going on about them until someone shows signs of proper interest.

    7 Rihanna - Pon De Replay
    That's what Chasetown were missing.

    6 Baracuda - Ass Up EP
    This can only spell trouble. Some dance thing, FWIW.

    5 Bratz Rock Angels - So Good
    Clearly Scandinavians are more susceptible to singing dolls than we are.

    4 Sugababes - Push The Button
    See, how many ways can you be taller in without getting comparative?

    3 Kent - The Hjärta & Smärta EP
    The Swedish Coldplay, even before Coldplay existed - some may remember their hard working but failing attempts to crack Britain throughout much of the late 90s.

    2 Pussycat Dolls - Don't Cha
    Straight onto the ballad with the second single? What's going on?

    1 Madonna - Hung Up
    A bona fide what they used to call international hit, then, still looking unbecoming of her. Meanwhile Wall Of Sound are shoving as much Les Rhythmes Digitales stuff out as possible, which maybe they should have thought more about at the time.

    Taking drugs to listen to music to take drugs to

    "These albums were once the property of Pete Doherty", apparently. Big Country, Blow Monkeys, Church, Dave Stewart And The Spiritual Cowboys, Deacon Blue, Dread Zeppelin, Edie Brickell, Fish, Flash And The Pan, Paul Hardcastle, Human League, Midnight Oil, Pete Murphy, Hazel O'Connor, Sinead O'Connor, OMD, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Shamen, Sisters Of Mercy, Skid Row, Toyah, Judie Tzuke, Yazoo... no wonder he shipped them off.

    We do think the music nostalgia market has its limits, mind.

    Did we ever doubt it wasn't a hoax?

    Well, yes, frankly. But indeed, Mark E Smith will be reading the BBC classified football results tomorrow

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    The architecture tango

    News from the music press this week that bloggers have started writing about music. Inevitably most are making a mess of it, Alexis Petridis getting it reliably wrong for starters, scouring the Internet far and wide for new music, if you mean as far and wide as the Arctic Monkeys' forum, Pitchfork and Myspace, akin to an amateur astrologer trying to discover solar systems outside our own by ringing Heather Couper (her that used to be on Going Live every so often) and looking through back issues of The Astronomer and that column that used to be in the Telegraph. The Observer then stepped in with its cutting observation that, well, some US websites use odd language sometimes, especially Pitchfork (them again), apparently on the basis of their unfollowable Lady Sovereign single review from the other week. We've always been able to make both head and tail of it, but never mind. Pitchfork, being a regularly updated website, is obviously now a blog despite predating the word itself, as are, seemingly, Village Voice, the New Yorker and Playlouder (the Playlouder that is several years old, employs proper journalists and runs its own Singles Club and gig nights, yes. You might as well say is a blog.) "Write a 50-word 'Bloglish' review of your favourite recent album or track; the funniest will win our next four Albums of the Week" it states. On the other hand, don't, it'll be shit. The BBC's go is better, even if it does suggest early on that you should steer clear of any site writing about new music. So much for development, and indeed the guiding principle behind the very root of this sudden interest in Internet music writing. We wonder how many casual browsers escaped from the ILM links with their faculties intact.

    While we're about it - Information Leafblower's Top 40 Bands In America Today (Okkervil River 24 - excellent! Kelly Clarkson 16 - uh?) which has inevitably given us an idea we'll have to think about, and a word for the closure of Last Night An mp3 Saved My Wife, one of the superior UK mp3 blogs.

    Sunday, November 13, 2005

    In shops tomorrow : 14/11


  • Vinyl first - Annie seems to accept that she won't sell records and so The Wedding is 12" only, while Arcade Fire's spectacular year ends with Wake Up, on 7" and special live version with David Bowie on iTunes download only. Or just watch the video.

  • Yes, you might well be suspicious of The Like and their debut What I Say And What I Mean - they're a female pop-punkish three piece on a major label, plus they're the daughters of A&R bigwig and sometime producer Tony Berg, producer Mitchell Froom (mention Elvis Costello, Richard Thompson and Suzanne Vega rather than Sheryl Crow, the Corrs and Daniel Powter) and Attractions drummer Pete Thomas. But sod it, it's great.

  • If there's any suspicion around The Pipettes, debuting properly with Dirty Mind, it's all self-perpetuating from a band whose mission statement is to "turn back the clock to a time before The Beatles ruined everything", which we won't counter with the fact that stated main influence the Shangri-Las emerged in 1964. We're right in thinking bandleader Monster Bobby has a connection to the Add N To (X) song of that name, yes?

  • The White Stripes' Denial Twist seems to be a single released because Michel Gondry made a video that doesn't quite work for it. Readers from the future may prefer the download live versions.


  • Conor Oberst live shows are notoriously inconsistent, but Bright Eyes' Motion Sickness seems to have caught him on a good night. It's a good week for live albums by American acts whose image is radically different here from in their native land, as Wilco issue Kicking Television. Alt-country or Chicago Radiohead? The Pogues' Streams Of Whiskey is back out while we're about it, and public opinion of them depends on how much you know about Shane McGowan.

  • Oh look, a 'New Edition' version of Martha Wainwright's album. Drowned In Sound must owe their website redesigner a lot of money.

  • Another feature of the week is slightly bizarre compilations. The OC Mix 5 compilation mentioned last week got moved forward to tomorrow, someone called Patrick Doyle prepares to accept the royalties boosted by Jarvis and some of Radiohead's contributions to the soundtrack album of Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, while even Top Gear - The Ultimate Driving Experience seems to go mad on CD2 with Nightmares On Wax, a Primal Scream dub mix and Dusted. You still wouldn't want to put it in a place where it's too visible, mind.

  • Which isn't something you can say for the 3CD Benicassim festival tie-in, which heads from the Kaisers to Tarwater via bands with unlikely names (Love Of Lesbian), reputations (Mouse On Mars) and likelihood of actually being asked to do Benicassim (Daniel Johnston).


  • Not before time Dig! makes it to DVD, albeit with not a lot of extras. Dammit, we wanted Anton Newcombe on commentary!

  • Someone should tell the Hives that Tussels in Brussels isn't spelt correctly. Part-surreal documentary, part-live concert and a few TV appearances, it's as linear as Howlin' Pelle's attitude.
  • The Weekly Sweep

    The Crimea - Lottery Winners On Acid
    Cat Power - Islands
    Roxy Music - Virginia Plain
    ¡Forward, Russia! - Twelve
    The Decemberists - 16 Military Wives
    José Gonzàlez - Heartbeats
    Futureheads - Area
    Nizlopi - JCB
    Freeland - Heel And Toe (Evil Nine remix)
    Felt - Ballad Of The Band

    Thursday, November 10, 2005

    And also...

    ...Wichita Recordings' own podcast, mostly featuring Euros Childs' debut solo material outside Gorky's and assorted Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! tracks. They're the next Arcade Fire, y'know.

    Other sites that are much better than this one

    The inevitably titled Blog Party features two far more than half-arsed comic strips and Final Fantasy covering This Modern Love; Channel 4 report on the science behind last week's Gorillaz gigs; Stereogum has links to Michel Gondry's White Stripes video and reports from an extra; Mr Red Penguin reports the full inspired madness of British Sea Power and the Wurzels - together!

    Search engine hits you'd love to see happen

    'kele bloc party dick and dom'

    Come on, who wouldn't like to see Okereke, K doing the Pants Dance?

    Explanation corner

    The title of the new Darkness album, One Way Ticket To Hell... And Back, is a knowing joke. Please stop sending letters and comments emails to music outlets going "surely they'd need a return ticket?"

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    Running jokes ahoy

    We'll float on, good news is on the way - yes, Kidz Bop 9's tracklisting is out, everybody. This time the stage school screamers will be marking their own path through Pon De Replay, Stefani's Cool, These Words (blimey, she is making an impact) and We Belong Together, but also Beverly Hills, Wake Me Up When September Ends and, most incongruously, Feel Good Inc. Most incongruous, that is, if you discount Axel F. Yes, the Crazy Frog one (don't worry too much, it 'only' peaked at 50 on Billboard). As sung by a bunch of kids. Hide your eardrums.

    You think you can trust a radio station...

    ...and then it gives shows to Russell Brand and the Queens Of Noize and suddenly you want to raze it to the ground. (Stevie Van Zandt's garage rock show special, though)

    Monday, November 07, 2005

    Perhaps the scariest record of the year

    You could guess that Unchained Melody, Amarillo and Imagine are on here, but after that they appear to have gone mad. Eye Level! This Ole House! Side Saddle! My Ding A Ling! Just the thought of them tackling that last one's making us nauseous. Imagine what the rehearsals were like when they were cutting down the possibilities. "Foster! What accordion key do you think You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) is in?" "Don't interrupt me now, Allen, it's difficult enough making Doop scan this minor chord acoustic arrangement as it is"

    The Top 40 is not a cold, dead place

    1 Westlife - You Raise Me Up
    Thirteen number ones. Thirteen. And how many can you name? Go on, hum Queen Of My Heart. Of course, they're pretty much as much a fanbase band as more credible acts now, albeit a much bigger fanbase, maybe one more aware than most that Daniel O'Donnell took it to number 22 in 2003 - it's six and a half years since their Keating-propelled launch, a generation or two in pop terms, but they're still plugging away at the pop shows, looking as out of place as an artrock band might have done five years ago. Stand up for the key change!

    2 Arctic Monkeys - I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
    On the other hand, this story remains remarkable purely because the so-called rabid fanbase spike band is still up here three weeks in. Their first New York gig's just been upgraded too - watch those mp3 blogs, now!

    3 Pharrell feat. Gwen Stefani - Can I Have It Like That
    Well, even his supporters seemed to write this one off, and it was barely worth officially splitting N*E*R*D if all he's going to do is pedestrian beats. What did happen to the Great Sounding Like An Autechre Offcut Beats Revolution? And his restyling of himself as Skateboard P can fuck off too.

    4 Craig David - Don't Love You No More
    Welcomes Careful Hostages To Fortune. It can't be coincidental that his placings have improved as Leigh Francis has moved on.

    9 Goldfrapp - Number 1
    The Pac-Man style game on their website is fun, the Moroder stylings so now, the end product... well, with most of radio and advertising breaks still plugging away at Ooh La La it's hardly a surprise people have got summarily confused.

    11 Rosetta Life feat. Billy Bragg - We Laughed
    Not that this is about Bragg at all - if nothing else he's only on co-writing and guitar - but let the record state it's his eighth top 40 entry, his highest if you discount his contribution to the Childline single. He was good on Breakfast this morning too, talking about finding shared ground with the patients in Dolly Parton. Wonder how JK & Joel introduced this.

    12 Bob Sinclar feat. Gary Nesta Pine - Love Generation
    Still hanging around four weeks in as the label realise that they really did leave it too late.

    14 Texas - Can't Resist
    Must... resist... urge... This seems to have largely come out of the blue, as once the media have realised Sharleen hasn't been horribly disfigured they tend now to forget that other little thing in the equation. Much better position than the Corrs managed last week, though.

    15 Eurythmics - I've Got A Life
    Now, what was this? Lennox puts on a suit, Stewart cranks up the synths, the world wonders if they've got a repeat Greatest Hits out this week too (yes). As if to prove it's a losing battle, Sweet Dreams is the B-side.

    16 Darren Hayes - So Beautiful
    What did happen to the other one out of Savage Garden?

    20 Fightstar - Grand Unification (part 1)
    Part 1 in a Listen Without Prejudice or Trapped In The Closet sense? Referred to on last night's biggest selling artists of the millennium clutter as Charlie Simpson's solo project, which must have delighted all four of them, they're still badly treading that Busted fan/suspicious scenester line. Who'd dare drop them, though?

    23 Kray Twinz - What We Do
    Subtle name. Twista and Lethal Bizzle, two men with a history of reinterpreting everyone else's ideas, help join a party that's long blown out.

    29 Status Quo - All That Counts Is Love
    Which is odd given their recent publicity push - they've even got their own teleshopping advert now - and the traditional fanbase rush. Who'd really want to hear a Status Quo record called that?

    36 Backstreet Boys - Just Want You To Know
    Number eight last week!

    39 Rakes - 22 Grand Job
    Well, that was worth it. The idea behind this proper release must have been that this would finally be the record to take them to radio. No such luck.

    58 Bob Marley & The Wailers - No Woman No Cry
    That seems a baffling enough place to draw a veil over this week.

    Not a lame appeal at all, oh no

    Has anyone still got the live acoustic version of the Futureheads' Hounds Of Love that was up on Mr Red Penguin a couple of months ago? (We only realised the other week that we've met the curator of said blog, actually. There is no punchline to this anecdote. In fact, it's barely an anecdote.)

    To add to yesterday's mini-moan about labels deciding it's more economical on the R&D to put out a new Best Of rather than repromote the old one - there's a new Elvis compilation out! Surely everyone who wants his hits now has them in triplicate at least?

    Not that we'd want to labour a point, Bloc Party, but...

    This new US market video for Helicopter - are you assuming nobody's seen the Pioneers video?

    Any Road up

    We've never been to Roadmender's in Northampton, but it's always good shorthand for the kind of small clubs where stars of tomorrow are often bred. Being a small club venue, of course, Northamptonshire County Council want to close it down via removing their funding. Signing the petition is the least you can really do (note to 'josh': "if u close roadmender ill slit my wrists NO JOKE!!" probably won't help in the long run)

    Sunday, November 06, 2005

    In shops tomorrow : 7/11


  • Elbow's Leaders Of The Free World really should have been the big single, but everybody seems to have ignored it and its remarkable video. More fool them. Not so much looking the other way, as expected, for the Kaiser Chiefs' Modern Way


  • According to BBC Online Kate Bush's Aerial, her first album since the Bronze Age or thereabouts, has been getting "mixed reviews" in the press. What this seems to mean is some papers gave it four stars out of five, some five out of five. Songs about Pi, washing machines and Rolf Harris paintings never seemed so good.

  • Always worth reminding yourself of the power of Patti Smith's Horses, now with a live recreation disc which apparently makes it a 'Legacy Edition'. The cover inspired KT Tunstall's Suddenly I See, apparently. Not sure that's mentioned in the sleeve notes. It's worth viewing this kind of care and attention in the light of the release of Blondie's first Greatest Hits in three years (not counting last year's live version), David Bowie compiled also three years after the last compilation and a Stock Aitken & Waterman Best Of, which we mention for a) the three of them, long thought to have been at loggerheads, reforming for promo just coincidentally at the same time all their major projects have fallen through and b) the curious tracklisting that includes the Zeebrugge and Hillsborough charity covers, Boy Krazy, Divine, Mandy Smith, Pat & Mick, their own Roadblock (insert white label scam anecdote here) and of course I'd Rather Jack. We'd rather sing along with Yazz.

  • Bod: Words And Music? Isn't that too far in the past for modern day students who might otherwise be fingering the new Bullseye board game with post-ironic love? Hey, it keeps Derek Griffiths off the breadline.

  • The OC Mix 5 provides further evidence that you can enjoy this stuff and never have to watch the actual show. Taking it to the suburban kids this time are LCD Soundsystem, Gorillaz, Kaiser Chiefs, Stars the Shout Out Louds, Of Montreal and Youth Group.

  • And taking it to the lazy teenagers is Going Underground: Teenage Kicks Vol.2, a fairly obvious cherrypicking of vaguely alternative hits of the 70s and early 80s. The Lambrettas?
  • The Weekly Sweep

    New Pornographers - Sing Me Spanish Techno
    Arcade Fire - Wake Up
    Young Knives - The Decision
    Field Music - If Only The Moon Were Up
    XTC - Spiral
    Quannum - I Changed My Mind (Stereo MC'S remix)
    Nina Nastasia - Bird Of Cuzco
    Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! - Is This Love?
    Elbow - Leaders Of The Free World
    Go-Betweens - Bachelor Kisses

    Saturday, November 05, 2005

    Cookies working overtime

    It must be hard work being an XTC completist, what with all the out-takes and demos Andy Partridge puts out in box sets every so often and how he seems to release a Peter Blevgad collaboration every month. The last two proper XTC albums and their sidelong demo compilations are now out together in Apple Box, complete with - hurrah! - two new tracks. Luckily Partridge, not a man known for technological impulses, has put these two tracks online, as long as you join the mailing list. If that seems like too much hard work, the really rather good Spiral is downloadable here. (link via Large Hearted Boy)

    Friday, November 04, 2005

    EMA leaden *

    As usual, we ignored the MTV Europe Music Awards show - Borat's not even that famous in his proper country of origin! - to admire the build up. We do this every year for two reasons: a) it proves all European what-used-to-be-called-VJs are still obliged to speak broken English (Enrico's still there!), and b) you get an idea of the glamour gap between the proper VMAs and the European version. The first guests Trevor Nelson, 'doing' the red carpet that was actually blue, was presented with were Bloc Party, Matt seemingly in a cricket jumper. Robbie Williams, a man who can afford a stylist, complained about his scuffed shoes. As with their record, only a couple of the Pussycat Dolls piped up. The whole thing actually managed to overrun badly, Trevor and guest John Legend breaking new boundaries in desperate filling, nobody explaining why exactly we'd passed what zero would have been on the countdown clock (and we believe there were more technical holdups throughout the night). The tradition of launching the station's new trailers during the warm-up seemed to have been abandoned, though.

    For us, the main point of note from the main event is that along with all the proper awards - the Chemical Brothers won Best Video for Believe, not that it's mentioned here or as spectacular as last year's Sigur Ros triumph which left the audience static - virtually every country got its own Best Act. These were pre-recorded and pasted in to each country's feed, although who says the already long enough ceremony wouldn't have been better without seeing them all. On second thoughts, despite Mew's Best Danish Act triumph, nobody needs to see triumphs of Rammstein, Turbonegro, The Rasmus and Anouk. Congratulations to MTV Adria's Siddharta, though!

    * Puns about little remembered ex-Live & Kicking presenters - yeah, that'll make us the toast of the blogosphere

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005


    There's a longstanding rock rumour that Lemmy, unarguably the last man to walk it like he talks it for the whole duration, has been told by various doctors that his vital organs will malfunction if he stops taking speed (seems unlikely to us too, but let's just run with it). You would, therefore, maybe stop and think before inviting him to share the platform at an anti-drugs event with a Tory spokesman (bet David Cameron steers clear). An anti-heroin meeting, yes, but the point remains. If nothing else, can you imagine him giving a cogent sociological speech?