That's it for 2008.
Thank you to everyone that's read Musick over the first 8(!) months, it's been special.
Here's to a very musickal 2009.
Let's look into the future shall we?
Here are Musick's top 5 predictions for big things in 2009. Actually, let's call them the 'top 5 new acts that deserve to be big in 2009' because, let's be honest, it would be pretty easy to predict who will be big in 2009; Alexandra Burke, JLS, Eogchxen Qiuigigig, some choir from some TV show, a reformed S Club 7.
2). Stricken City
3). La Roux
4). Brigadier Ambrose
5). Little Boots
Let's fill some space with a random list (in no particular order) of Musick's favourite tracks of 2008 (by 'tracks' we mean 'singles', but they don't really exist anymore).
In no way am I running out of ideas. No way. Not even close. Lists do not signify a dearth of great ideas. Oh no.
'Nattura' Bjork feat. Thom Yorke
'Dream On' Robyn & Christian Falk
'Two Doors Down' Mystery Jets
'Run, Run' Those Dancing Days
'Paris Is Burning' Ladyhawke
'LES Artistes' Santogold
'Ready For The Floor' Hot Chip
'Paper Planes' MIA
'The Loving Kind' Girls Aloud
'Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)' Beyonce
'Sandcastle Disco' Solange
'The Rip' Portishead
'Another World' Antony & The Johnsons
'House Of Cards' Radiohead
'Quicksand' La Roux
'I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You' Black Kids
'Womanizer' Britney Spears
'Machine Gun' Portishead
'Love Lockdown' Kanye West
'The Race' Cajun Dance Party
'Tell Me What It's Worth' Lightspeed Champion
'We Almost Had A Baby' Emmy The Great
'The Boy Does Nothing' Alesha Dixon
'Red Sock Pugie' Foals
'Little Bit' Lykke Li
'Oxford Comma' Vampire Weekend
'Green Light' John Legend (feat. Andre 3000) Diplo remix
'I Know Your Girlfriend Hates Me' Annie
'On My Own Again' thecocknbullkid
'No Air' Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown
'Universal Mind Control' Common feat. Pharrell
'Crying Blood' VV Brown
'Superstar' Lupe Fiasco
'Divine' Sebastien Tellier
'Meddle' Little Boots
'Run' Gnarls Barkley
'White Winter Hymnal' Fleet Foxes
Er, that's it.
I've always found Beyoncé strangely fascinating. There's something about that steely-eyed determination, that get-there-at-all-costs smile and those claws that have no doubt grazed the face of some poor Destiny's Child reject. Plus, if you happened to see her on X Factor then you'll know that her performance basically won the whole show for Alexandra Burke, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your views on JLS/Xmas/Jeff Buckley, etc.
One thing Beyoncé has always lacked though is a certain humility, as if she is literally superhuman, some kind of pop superstar robot that was manufactured in China. She needs the Cheryl Cole factor, some kind of tragic event that can be spun into a life-defining moment for her to re-emerge from, Phoenix-like and with Platinum sales. For the time being, however, she's releasing two more singles from her increasingly confusing double-album scenario, I Am...Sasha Fierce.
This is the slow jam. It's called 'Halo' and was apparently written with Leona Lewis in mind but Beyoncé basically stamped her stiletto heal until they gave it to her.
It's like a Tampax advert or something.
Then there's the Sasha Fierce side of Beyoncé, one that's all ghetto and bling and in your face 'n shizzle. This is 'Diva' and it's pretty awful.
So, there you have it. Great pop star x one great song + lots of filler + brilliant live performances at award shows/reality TV shows = Beyoncé.
OK, so every other music blog worth it's salt on the internet mentioned this album about three months ago, but here at Musick we like to take our time and make sure the product we're pushing is up to scratch. Of all the albums coming out in the first quarter of 2009, few will generate as much excitement (not to mention music press) as The Spirit Of Apollo by N.A.S.A. (aka producers Sam "Squeak E. Clean" Spiegel and Ze "DJ Zegon" Gonzales), which is out in February.
The album features a roll-call of musical talent so huge and varied that it may in fact be Pitchfork's wet dream in musical form. The combinations of artists is quite something - Karen O and Ol' Dirty Bastard, anyone? One of those people is dead, right? Here's the full list of contributors:
Lovefoxxx (from CSS)
Nick Zinner (from Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
One True Voice*
The short one from MN8*
* still unconfirmed
The reason Musick was holding back can be summed up in two words; Psyence Fiction. Back in 1999 UNKLE released their very own guest-filled opus, with James Laville (one half of UNKLE, along with DJ Shadow) talking it up to be the best thing since Vivaldi. Unfortunately, bar Thom Yorke, all the guests thought the same and the whole thing collapsed under the weight of its own importance.
BUT things are looking good for this project. Here's why...
'Gifted' features Kanye, Lykke Li AND Santogold, which in all fairness is Musick's wet dream right now. The song is - to use the parlance of the young - fuckin' bangin' ya hear?
You can download it for free right here and listen to 'Money' here.
As you may or may not know by now, it's nearly Jesus' 25,000th birthday and to celebrate lots of mediocre singers are booking studio time to hurt us aurally for sinning this past year. Everyone from The Killers, to Peter Kay, to Terry bloody Wogan are queuing up to massacre some old shit or come up with their own brand of Christmas cheer. Plus, you've got old favourites like that Mariah Carey one or the one by those drunks that's mildly amusing when you too are drunk. A more recent phenomenon has resulted in the 'race for Christmas number 1' now being contested by just one person, and this year it's the turn of Alexandra Burke who came out on top last Saturday via lots of tears and a roof-raising, ear-splitting, sugar-overdose-inducing duet with Beyonce. Her version of that song from Shrek, 'Hallelujah', is a dead cert for number 1 on Sunday, but what else is about for those seeking something less, well, 'polished'?
Sufjan Stevens has released a rather lovely 5-disc boxset of Christmas songs, which features covers of old standards as well as brand new recordings. It's probably only about a tenner these days and that's pretty good value for about 40 songs, even if you will only listen to it for a few days each year (that's more then that copy of Leftism that everyone said was a classic but you've never really got).
Here's a lovely sad song called 'That Was The Worst Christmas Ever!':
And another heartbreakingly lovely one called 'Sister Winter':
Not to be outdone, Bright Eyes has also taken a slice of the yuletide cheer with his Christmas album. Here's a skeletal, nay anorexic, version of 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas':
God, who knew Christmas was so depressing? Here's something to cheer us all up...
Aw, shucks Dad.
OK, confession time...I steal from work. Now, I'm not talking pens, pads or blank CDs (though some of these do find their way into my bag) but albums. People sometimes leave them lying around on desks or hidden away on shelves and miraculously they kind of end up coming home with me. More often then not they're by bands I've not heard of, which makes it all the more exciting. The rubbish ones go in the bin or sometimes I take them back, just to be nice. Sometimes, however, a real gem is discovered and now I have this blog so I get to share this gem with you, dear reader.
The album in question is called Superioryouareinferior and it's by Rae Spoon, a Canadian who, according to his myspace page, was one of the first transgendered country singers. Who dares say Musick is one-dimensional in the acts it features?
Superioryouareinferior mixes elements of folk with some very basic electronica, all battered synths and rudimentary violin. Plus, Spoon's voice is utterly arresting, although it can sometimes sound like one of the more mental X Factor auditionees, you know the ones that sound like sheep bleating. But the album has an undeniable charm and honesty that usually comes from artists making music they think no-one is listening to.
Listen to some of it here
An acoustic version of album highlight, 'Come On Forest Fire, Burn The Disco Down' can be seen and heard here:
It looks like he's mixed his whites with his colours too...
Now, I like Patrick Wolf, but I can definitely see why a lot of people would find him incredibly annoying. It's the way he dresses like an Edwardian Shoreditch twat, or that mannerism of tilting his head to one side when he's talking about something, you know, really deep and meaningful, or the way he's such a tortured, gender-ambiguous elfin creature that prowls the dark recesses of his own mind so that we don't have to. BUT he also makes some very brilliant music, things like 'The Magic Position', 'Tristan', 'The Libertine' or 'Bloodbeat'.
Anywho, Patrick's back with a brand new album called Battle, which will be out at some point next Spring. The album features music made with Alec Empire from Atari Teenage Riot, so expect something quite visceral and bordering on the unlistenable (that does rhyme, yes). The album is to be released in a very unique way (yeah, cheers Radiohead!), in that it will be partly funded by the fans who can donate money to the project through Bandstocks, who will then in turn give you money back if the album sells well. In this time of economic uncertainty, will you be investing in an album by an artist who has never cracked the top 40? Give what you can people.
You can watch a little video from Patrick here. Please don't watch it if you dislike Patrick Wolf. It will lead you to enact violent acts upon your person and those around you.
Well, that was nice wasn't it?
I hope you enjoyed / endured our little countdown of the top 20 albums of 2008. It's funny because it was such an original idea and so far I haven't read any other album countdowns anywhere else. I genuinely believe that we've touched on something pretty unique in the world of music, so that's always nice...
As a way of apologising for the lack of posts recently (I think we all needed a little break, right?), here's the new video by Lily Allen. The song is called 'The Fear' and is a nice little ditty about being famous and being a young lady who is famous and who sees other young ladies who want to be famous but aren't and gets all sarcastic as young ladies can be sometimes, especially famous ones:
She does look a bit like Bjork in the 'It's Oh So Quiet' video, you're right.
2008 was the year of patience being rewarded. Balding fans of guitar heavyweights AC/DC, Metallica and Guns ‘N Roses all saw their beloved bands release hugely underwhelming albums, a fact that lead fans of the latter to wonder, “what the fuck were you doing for the past fifteen years?” Bristol’s Portishead were guilty of the same tardiness, the difference being that they managed to not only avoid a stale re-hash of former glories, but also expand on a template that had seen a myriad of imitators in their absence. Being the oblique group of people they are, the band chose the industrial, nearly-unlistenable (but still amazing) ‘Machine Gun’ as the first single, a clever way of weeding out anyone expecting to pop Third on at a dinner party. Over the clattering, jackhammer melody sits the band’s true trump card, Beth Gibbon’s unsettling, elastic voice, an instrument so fragile it can feel intrusive just listening to it. Elsewhere, ‘The Rip’ is one of their best songs, transforming from a quiet, folksy intro into a Kraftwerk-esque electronic drone, Gibbon’s voice a thing of unimaginable beauty. Musically, Third acts as a new year zero, trying its hand at everything from prog to acoustic folk to psychedelica. It’s an abrasive, sometimes aggressive album that demands repeated listens, but once you’re hooked that’s it I’m afraid. Game Over.
Key track: 'The Rip'
Back home in New Zealand Ladyhawke is known by her human name, Pip Brown. Here in Musicsville, Ladyhawke has only gone and made one of the best debut albums in recent years, a collection of songs so deliriously enjoyable the album should come with a free copy of The Bell Jar to bring you back down after it’s finished. It also contains one of the best opening tracks of all time - or at least since Off The Wall – in the shape of ‘Magic’, a song so stupendous that listening to it makes you a better person (even you Rob). Elsewhere, it delivers the synthetic guitar rush of new single ‘My Delirium’, the John Hughes-soundtrack-escapee ‘Back of the Van’ and the synth-heavy ‘Paris Is Burning’, a song so catchy it’s practically illegal (“do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, doo”). In many ways, Ladyhawke is the perfect pop star; an enigmatic youngster with oodles of talent that manages to take from the past (the odd Stevie Nicks steal here, a homage to the 80s there) and simultaneously hint at the future. Prepare to have your gob well and truly smacked.
Key track: 'Magic'
03. TV On The Radio
For many, TV On The Radio were always going to struggle to eclipse 2006’s dense, prickly Return To Cookie Mountain, an album so good not even David Bowie could ruin it. What they didn’t realise, however, was that the band were only just getting started, Dear Science taking their art rock template and throwing in everything from Prince-esque funk (‘Golden Age’) to stadium rock balladry (well, relatively speaking) on ‘Family Tree’. Ubiquitous producer (and full-time band member) David Sitek buries surprises at every turn, be it the delicious handclaps that pepper the angry ‘Dancing Choose’, or the way Antibalas’ horn parts drive each song to new heights. Though the album appears more accessible on the surface, beneath lies an angry, pissed off core, with duel lead singers Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone taking it in turns to rail against everything from bad leaders to bad women. Too clever by half, Dear Science is an album by a band at the height of their powers, a true testament to what can happen when you question everything.
Key track: 'Dancing Choose'
04. Laura Marling
Alas, I Cannot Swim
Much was made of Laura Marling’s age when she first emerged, Bambi-like, onto the music scene this year, as if anyone under the age of twenty making good music was some kind of freak. She also caught people’s attention because unlike many young female singers she didn’t sing in a mockney accent, or wear ball gowns with trainers, or pretend she was from Dalston and not a country pile in Berkshire. At the heart of Alas, I Cannot Swim’s success (it was nominated for this years Mercury Prize don’t you know) is Marling’s voice, an instrument that flits between vulnerability and steely emotion in the blink of an eye. Lyrically, she’s not afraid to deal with big topics, from imminent death on the deceptively jaunty ‘Cross Your Fingers’ to mental illness on ‘My Manic and I’, whilst musically it’s all swooping violins, rollicking drums and on ‘Crawled Out Of The Sea’ a drunken sea-shanty choir. ‘Night Terror’ perhaps sums the album up best, a fragile tail of nightmares that starts at a whisper before gaining in strength and confronting the demons.
Key track: 'Night Terror'
05. Fleet Foxes
Something tells me this isn’t the only album list Fleet Floxes will be appearing in this December. But sometimes an album’s quality is so undeniable – even at Musick, where beards are hugely distrusted - that you have to go with the pack. Fleet Foxes arrived as if from nowhere in 2008 (actually, it was Seattle), fully formed and with little fuss or bluster. So hot was their winning streak that they could afford to dump songs as good as ‘Mykonos’ onto an EP that prefaced their debut album. Not that it mattered, especially with songs as good as ‘White Winter Hymnal’, ‘He Doesn’t Know Why’ and the keening, dramatic ‘Ragged Wood’. Fleet Foxes, the album, is that rare thing; an album that carries with it a knowledge of the musical past (those Beach Boys-esque close harmonies, that autumnal, almost rustic feel), but with an unnerving sense of the present. It’s an album that creates memories, be they imagined or real, of a time spent sat around a campfire with your friends, toasting marshmallows and drinking beer. Whilst other bands tie themselves in knots trying to create genuine emotion and ‘vibe’- hello Arcade Fire – Fleet Foxes manage it first time.
Key track: 'White Winter Hymnal'
Santi White, aka Santogold, has been one of the biggest discoveries of 2008. Not only does she have the songs, she also has the look, coming on like a drunk in a fancy dress shop. Much has also been made of her friendship with fellow sartorial experimenter M.I.A, with many dismissing Santogold as a mere copycat. These people are idiots. Despite the presence of producers Diplo and Switch (both of whom have worked with M.I.A), Santogold is its own beast, an album brimming with pop hooks that uses genres in a way most would call cavalier. Everything from dub, to new wave, to punk, to aggressive-electro-pop-type-stuff is thrown into the mix. Debut single ‘L.E.S. Artistes’ is one of the best songs of the year, a brilliant example of effortless cool mixed with an almighty chorus, whilst the likes of ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Say Aha’ are proof this was no fluke. Unlike M.I.A, Santogold isn’t afraid to let the melodies shine, creating songs that are innovative yet immediate and in doing so has made an album that sounds as fresh the fiftieth time as it did the first.
Key track: 'L.E.S. Artistes'
If the last two Beck albums have seen Mr Hansen at his most meandering, then Modern Guilt shows what can happen when he keeps things tight. At just over half an hour long Modern Guilt never outstays it’s welcome, with producer Danger Mouse keeping a tight lid on any funk solos or jazz interludes. That’s not to say it’s not an inventive record; ‘Gamma Ray’ is his best single in years, a dirty, swampy jam that makes you dance while contemplating nuclear holocaust. In fact most of Modern Guilt is wracked with…er…well, guilt, but guilt that makes you shake your moneymaker. You’re never quite sure what it is Beck is trying to communicate, but each song is imbued with a palatable fear, be it in the psych-freak-out ‘Chemtrails’ or the funky ‘Youthless’. He may not be at the tip of the cultural zeitgeist anymore, but he’s settled into a rhythm of consistency that few can match.
Key track: 'Modern Guilt'
08. Cut Copy
In Ghost Colours
Cut Copy could easily have been dismissed as too cool for school; signed to Modular records, produced by one half of DFA Records, loved by Pitchfork. Luckily, in the shape of In Ghost Colours, they’ve made one of the best dance records in recent years. Despite being Australian, their sound has a certain je ne c’est pas, reminiscent of the French electro sound loved by the likes of Daft Punk and Justice, but unlike their gallic counterparts there’s no hint of irony, everything is played with a straight face and with a relaxed mood. Songs unfurl slowly but purposefully, opener ‘Feel The Love’ morphing from acoustic strum to trippin’ off your tits ending complete with a gorgeous electronic coda. Elsewhere, ‘Hearts On Fire’ and ‘Far Away’ are two of the best singles never to chart. The album closes with the gorgeous ‘Eternity One Night Only’, a loping, repetitive mantra that sends the listener to sleep…in a good way.
Key track: 'Far Away'
09. Lykke Li
Whether you’ll like Youth Novels or not depends greatly on your reaction to what I’m about to write; ‘coochy coo’. That phrase perhaps best describes Lykke Li’s vocal style and if the thought of that makes you want to repeatedly bash your own face in then this album probably isn’t for you. Produced by Bjorn Yttling (from Peter, Bjorn and John), Youth Novels sidesteps the electropop sheen of Li’s Swedish contemporaries for a simpler, more organic feel. The economy of the songs are their main strengths, with the bare bones of vocals and bass fleshed out beautifully with lashings of piano, percussion, muted electronic beats and on highlight ‘Little Bit’, what sounds like steel drums. Elsewhere, ‘I’m Good, I’m Gone’ ditches any arty pretence and goes directly for the pop jugular, whilst the delicate ‘Time Flies’ sounds like it might break at any time. She might be a bit too knowingly cute for some, but as an album Youth Novels works wonders.
Key track: 'Little Bit'
10. Bonnie “Prince” Billy
Lie Down In The Light
Lie Down In The Light? That’s a bit of a cheery title for a Bonnie “Prince” Billy album isn’t it? Well, yes, it is. On songs like ‘I’ll Be Glad’ and ‘For Every Field There’s A Mole’, you get a genuine sense of joy from hearing Will Oldham (for it is he!) wrap that creaking, croaking voice of his round lyrics such as “There’s a lap for resting head/ There’s the only nesting bed”. But don’t get too comfortable, in the same song he ends with this cheery couplet; “…hand to hold your throat/ To stifle that crying choke”. A rare talent, one that seems to flourish the more prolific he becomes and with a new album due next March, expect to see him on this list in 2009. His best, most consistent album since I See A Darkness.
Key track: 'Easy Does It'
* I know there's a formatting issue with the Bonnie "Prince" Billy bit. I can only apologise. Blame the tools, not the craftsmen.
from all those pesky lists.
Interesting pop fact here, my Mum's dog is called Hudson, right, and this here band are called Mr Hudson & The Library...coincidence? Yes, probably. Anyways, confession time, when I first saw a picture of this band I thought "do I not like that".
They look like they've all been given some Burtons vouchers for Xmas and decided to buy almost identical clothes (minus points for wearing a sleeveless cardigan you on the right). Unless you're in JLS, you can't get away with this sort of thing. No, wait, EVEN if you're in JLS you can't get away with this sort of thing.
But anyway, I digress, Mr Hudson & The Library are about to release a brand new single, 'There Will Be Tears', produced by none other than current auto-tune addict Kanye West. And guess what? It's got auto-tune all over it! Now, I'm not knocking Mr West's production skills but once he gets hold of a good idea (or bad idea for that matter) he likes to run with it until the only place left to go is a musical cul-de-sac. Luckily, 'There Will Be Tears' works rather well. Mr Hudson (who also appears on the brilliant 808s & Heartbreak album) and friends have created a delicate, lovelorn ditty complete with mournful piano, weird hissing sounds and some (just about) bearable cockney talk.
11. Cat Power
It’s been a bumper last few years for Cat Power (or Chan Marshall to her parents). She got rid of those pesky demons – drugs and drink and all that malarkey – and Jukebox was the first album she recorded clean. Her new found sobriety makes for an enthralling collection of ten cover versions, plus one original and a re-imagining of an old Cat Power song (the epic ‘Metal Heart’). ‘New York’ is unrecognisable from the Sinatra standard, with backing band Dirty Delta Blues creating a dramatic blues swamp, whilst the fantastic ‘Aretha, Sing One For Me’ keeps the soul of George Jackson’s original firmly in tact. Those yearning for the desolate sound of old will find solace in James Brown’s ‘Lost Someone’ and Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’. With a new album of original songs due next year, Jukebox acts as the perfect stop-gap between the Cat Power of old and the Chan Marshall of the future.
Key track: 'Aretha, Sing One For Me'
12. Neon Neon
For the uninitiated Neon Neon are Gruff Rhys from Super Furry Animals and producer Boom Bip. Stainless Style - their debut and perhaps final album - is a concept album loosely based on the life of John De Lorean, founder of the De Lorean Motor Company (if you’ve seen Back To The Future you’ll know what the cars look like). As with all concept albums it’s best not to get too hung up on the finer details and instead just listen to the music, and luckily Stainless Style allows you to do just that. ‘Raquel’ is a delicious electro lament, all sharp shoulder-pads and bouncing synths, whilst ‘I Lust U’ is robot love with a heart. Featuring Spank Rock, Har Mar Superstar, Yo Majesty, The Magic Numbers and one of The Strokes, it’s an album that shouldn’t work, but is somehow close to perfection.
Key track: 'I Lust U'
13. Girls Aloud
Out Of Control
I know, Girls Aloud! But they’re women! They don’t play any instruments! OK, so they don’t actually write too many of the songs and mainly it’s down to the genius of Brian Higgins and Xenomania, but hey, who cares? Are you honestly telling me you’d rather listen to Razorlight or Snow Patrol then this? Maybe you think the arty posturing of Crystal Castles is better then something you can actually hum? Damning with faint praise aside, Out Of Control contains one of the songs of the year in the shape of ‘Untouchable’, an electropop behemoth that wastes none of it’s near seven minute duration and includes a heart-stoppingly brilliant middle eight/bridge type thing. Other highlights include the Pet Shop Boys-penned ‘The Loving Kind’, the harmonica-driven ‘Love Is The Key’ and the bonkers ‘Live In The Country’. Perfect.
Key track: 'Untouchable'
14. Late Of The Pier
Fantasy Black Channel
There’s much to dislike about Late Of The Pier. Firstly, they utilize some of the same ‘arty’ tropes of forebears Klaxons; their lyrics are usually nonsense, they make bad videos, their artwork is amateurish but probably cost a fair bit and despite your best efforts you end up really liking the music they make. Curse them! Produced by Erol Alkan, Fantasy Black Channel is a brilliantly restless amalgam of electro, glam rock, punk, grime, R&B and Gregorian chanting. Usually this happens in just one song, for example the seven-minute ‘The Enemy Are The Future’, but they can keep it concise too as on highlight ‘VW’.
Key track: 'The Enemy Are The Future'
15. Joan As Policewoman
Joan As Policewoman, aka Joan Wasser, is someone that has always had pain and sadness projected onto her work by those seeking to feed off the fact Wasser was Jeff Buckley’s girlfriend. Yet, melancholia seems to suit her, with the majority of To Survive dealing with the loss of love and hope. Elsewhere, ‘To Be Lonely’ addresses a new relationship in a touchingly cynical way (“This is the one I will try to be lonely with”), whilst ‘Furious’ and the Rufus Wainwright assisted ‘To America’ deal with the frustration of politics.
Key track: 'To Be Lonely'
16. The Walkmen
You & Me
There was a time, in the not so distant musical past, when every guitar band hailing from New York was contractually obliged to wear a suit jacket, battered jeans and converse. The music they made was of no real consequence. The Walkmen, thankfully, never cared for fashion and have seemingly never cared for chart success either. You & Me, their fourth album, is littered with wonky, brilliantly skewed tales of love and loss, careening guitars clashing with drunken keyboard riffs (‘In The New Year’ a perfect example). A brilliant mess in other words.
Key track: 'In The New Year'
Blood, Looms and Blooms
Leila is perhaps best known - if known at all - for appearing in Bjork’s backing band on her recent tour (she also supplied the support, but was usually booed and generally ignored). Blood, Looms and Blooms is her third album and continues the trend for mixing the minimal (‘Lush Dolphins’) with the aggressive (‘Mollie’, ‘Mettle’). Elsewhere, ‘Time To Blow’ and ‘Little Acorns’ are Leila at her most accessible (with help from Terry Hall on the former) and the Martina Topley-Bird assisted ‘Deflect’ is oddly uplifting and naggingly infectious (“I’ll understand you like a baby”).
Key track: 'Time To Blow'
Who remembers Franz Ferdinand? Come on, it's only been about three years since their last album. What do you mean, they're kind of irrelevant now? I know we all got a bit caught up in the hype and the clothes, but they had some good tunes. 'Take Me Out'...that other one...the one called 'Michael' that was a little bit gay...the last one. Well, they're back after what's felt like an age, with the first single from their third album, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand.
(I'd just like to make it clear I didn't make the above on photoshop. It's the actual album cover).
The single is entitled 'Ulysses' and it isn't a huge departure from what we've heard from them in the past. Having said that it's definitely an improvement on anything from their second album, and is fairly catchy from the off. In fact, I have to admit to quite liking it, which for a band I've never been a huge fan of is saying something. It certainly has 'Radio 1 Smash' written all over it. I very much like the squelchy keyboard sounds and Alex Kapranos' voice sounds brilliant...for a forty year old (come on Alex, we all know you lied).
18. Jenny Lewis
Jenny Lewis is many things - former child actor, current front woman of indie darlings Rilo Kiley, solo star, incredibly hot. What she is not, however, is short of friends as the roll call of talent on Acid Tongue suggests; Elvis Costello, M. Ward, Zooey Deschanel, Jonathan Rice, Chris Robinson, etc, etc. Ironically, it’s the least adorned tracks that work best, not least the gorgeous sing-around-the-campfire title track and the delicate ‘Trying My Best To Love You’.
Key track: 'Acid Tongue'
19. Gang Gang Dance
Saint Dymphna is the kind of album that at first can seem purposefully difficult and obtuse, as if the band decided to take some pretty straight sounding songs and put them in a food blender, mix without the lid on and then scrape the results off the ceiling in no particular order. So on ‘Princes’ you get UK grime MC Tinchy Stryder waxing lyrical over plinky plonk piano and tumbling drums, like two different songs glued together. They can’t hide the tunes for long though, with ‘House Jam’ and ‘First Communion’ definite highlights.
Key track: 'Bebey'
20. Tilly & The Wall
Nebraska’s Tilly & The Wall have been accused by some of being a bit of a gimmick, namely because their drummer literally taps out the rhythms, but on third album O, the songs are finally strong enough to do all the talking. First single, the bitchy ‘Pot Kettle Black’, even appeared on a recent episode of Beverly Hills 90210, like, how rad is that? Elsewhere, ‘Falling Without Knowing’ marries an unforgettable chorus with brilliant no-wave keyboards, whilst ‘Beat Control’ was nearly an actual hit single. Madness.
Key track: 'Beat Control'
Belle and Sebastian: The BBC Sessions
Och, no, I'm too shy and awkward to look at the camera. I'd rather be out in a park drawing pictures of birds in my notebook and fiddling distractedly with the end of my coat sleeve. But here I am, in sepia, sat in a studio giggling constantly at Marcus whose wearing his duffel coat indoors and going on about some beat poet or other. Sometimes I want to just angrily ruffle his hair and stomp about in my childlike pumps, barely concealing my sexual frustration. But, I can't because I'm sensible and repressed and brown is my favourite colour and sex is something that only happens behind dirty net curtains and other such kitchen-sink imagery. The best thing is I'm sat in a kid's paddling pool, because the unkept hair and shapeless dress weren't enough to anchor the fact that I'm childlike and innocent and they bring back wonderful memories of a time where we could leave our doors unlocked and reading books instead of talking to other people was the same as interacting. The pool hasn't got any water in it because it's only a prop and really it's hiding all the cocaine and sex toys that litter the studio floor. If it did have water in it I would have drowned by now because I never did swimming at school, I always had a verruca or my sinuses were playing up. Plus, I was never sure if I liked girls or boys until recently, so it would have been too embarrassing. I used to just write in my journal and dream about corduroy. Now I'm on the front of a Belle and Sebastian album and I'm not looking at the camera because I'm sharing an in-joke with someone and you're not invited. I might look like a child but really I'm a complete bitch. Magnetic Fields forever, x
Kanye West's new songs aren't so much leaking as hemorrhaging all over the internet. If you look hard enough you can probably hear his new album, 808s & Heartbreak, in its entirety, over a week before it's official release. I prefer not to listen to songs from an album I will probably buy (I mean, receive for free because I'm that important) on crappy speakers so I will wait, but if you are so inclined then I suggest youtube as a good place to start. Also, The Guardian have a blog about how he's the new Phil Collins or something.
An official video for second single 'Heartless' has appeared and it's very good. Directed by famed Hip Hop video director Hype Williams, it looks like a cartoon but is probably more sophisticated then that. Kanye was probably filmed doing all that stuff and then someone coloured it all in, taking great care to stay within the lines. Well done them.
Here it is:
Is it just me or was anyone else really surprised to see the cartoon version of Kanye smoking? It just looks odd.
Leona Lewis has covered Snow Patrol's 'Run' on the new version of her debut album, Spirit. This album came out less than a year ago and is now being repackaged as a 'Deluxe Edition', complete with a soft velvet cover, the warm scent of autumn and a free After Eight mint.
Here's 'our Leona' getting her vocal chords around one of the most over-played songs in recent memory.
WARNING: Do NOT have this on full volume or play it near any young children, small pets or elderly relatives. They will literally explode from the sheer force of it all. Oh and there's a choir, obviously.
Who wants music that's immediate and easy to digest? No, you want difficult, complex sounds that are hard to decipher and sound really odd to the people sat next to you on the tube. Leila first came to Musick's attention as part of Bjork's backing band and has since released three gorgeous solo albums. Her latest, Blood, Looms and Blooms, is her best yet, all crunching beats, delicate melodies and vocals from the likes of Terry Hall and Martina Topley Bird.
This is what the album looks like:
Some audio examples too (aren't we good to you):
If you don't like the songs it just means you don't understand them.
As you may or may not be aware a huge injustice was carried out on Saturday night in front of an audience of millions.
Who remembers eight years ago when George W. Bush was elected President despite not winning enough votes and some dodgy recounts went in his favour? Yeah, well it's bigger then that. MP's have been discussing it, the 'mouth piece for today's youth' aka Lily Allen has blogged about it (she was "a little shocked", "quite upset" and referred to Daniel as "the pool man") and The Daily Mirror have set up an online petition that so far 12,000 people have signed. So what actually happened I hear the uninitiated cry? Well, basically, The X Factor uses a pretty radical system of democratic voting wherein people can ring certain numbers to vote for certain people and those with the fewest votes are then asked to sing again before one final vote. That's right, there's two levels of voting. Obviously, certain elements of propaganda are used (things like dead relatives, 'illness' and reverse psychology) and somehow this turns formerly sensible people into blithering idiots.
The 'victim' of all this was Laura White, one of the favourites to win this years show. She found herself in the bottom two on Saturday against the Spanish senorita (I'm contractually obliged to refer to her as such) Ruth, who was saved whilst Laura was booted out. IT'S A TRAVESTY cried the same people who protested when Deirdre Rasheed was 'jailed' in Corrie. People are very upset, some have called for Louis Walsh to be garroted on next weeks show whilst Dannii and Cheryl cheer passively.
Here at Musick, we like to get to the heart of the matter. We had an exclusive chat with Laura earlier today over a blueberry muffin. This is what she had to say:
"I'm just so lucky that I even had the chance to appear on such an amazing show. I'm blessed to have been a part of it really. I have nothing bad to say about it, because before this I was just a nobody from Bolton and now I'll always be remembered as the girl who didn't make it but caused a minor kerfuffle that the public will somehow blame on me once the novelty wears off. Also, Louis Walsh is gay" *
I know, pretty aggressive stuff. Let's hope we can all move on and enjoy next week's show, which sees the contestants singing the songs of Slipknot. Backed by an orchestra.
Here's what all the fuss was about (this is one of Laura's own songs, recorded before the show):
* Laura's comments were voiced by an actress and in no way can we confirm or deny Louis' sexuality. Leave him alone, you homophobes.
Here at Musick we feel a bit sorry for Craig David. It's difficult to remember now just how big he once was, what with all that Bo' Selecta nonsense and the sneaking suspicion that he was being Americanified. As with Joss Stone, it seems that UK pop fans can immediately go off someone who appears to have lost their roots and started using lingo that sits uncomfortably with their Southampton upbringing (his second album was called Slicker Than Your Average for example).
David's record company would obviously like to remind people of those early hits, songs like 'Seven Days' and 'Rewind', songs that were hits on both sides of the Atlantic. As with Daniel Bedingfield - who also scored huge hits in America back in the day - Craig David suffered a second album slump that he never really recovered from (i.e. 'What's Your Flava?' was dog shit). If you need reminding of his hits (and the other songs), here's the track listing for the simply titled, Greatest Hits:
1. Fill Me In
2. 7 Days
3. Rise & Fall (featuring Sting)
5. What's Your Flava?
6. Walking Away
7. Where's Your Love (feat Tinchy Stryder)
8. You Don't Miss Your Water ('Til The Well Runs Dry)
11. All The Way
12. Just My Imagination
13. World Filled With Love
14. Don't Love You No More (I'm Sorry)
15. 6 of 1 Thing
16. Hidden Agenda
17. This Is The Girl
19. Hot Stuff
Nineteen songs!!! Nineteen!!!?? Prizes for anyone who can hum '6 of 1 Thing' or 'Spanish'.
As with all hits packages there are some new songs on there. 'Insomnia' is the new single and it's actually pretty good. It would have been better if Ne-Yo hadn't made it already and called it 'Closer', which this song shares more then a passing similarity to.
M.I.A has teamed up with Blaqstarr to cover the theme tune to everyones favourite TV show...that's right, she's done a killer version of Anita Dobson's 'Anyone Can Fall In Love' from EastEnders.
Not really. It's 'Way Down In The Hole' originally by Tom Waits and it's from The Wire.
Moody. Not amazing, but nice nonetheless.
If you haven't watched The Wire yet you really should, as a white guy from Kent it really speaks to me about my struggles.
People who describe themselves as 'kooky' or 'zany' are possibly the most annoying people you're ever likely to meet. Fact. It usually means they're incredibly dull but in order to make themselves more interesting they draw on their faces and wear clothes made of hemp. Devendra Banhart doesn't describe himself as kooky, but will forever be labelled as such and this is a real shame. He's clearly very talented and though he seems to have a problem when it comes to self-editing (his last album was about half an hour too long), he's never afraid to expand his sound or collaborate.
We previously mentioned here that Devendra's formed a new group, the lovingly titled Megapuss. Along with Devendra, Megapuss includes Greg Rogove of some band called Priestbird and a certain Fabrizio Moretti from The Strokes. 'Adam & Steve' is their first single and they've made a brilliant video to accompany it. Highlights are numerous, not least the opening salvo which is mainly the band trying to work what to do in the video (note the way Devendra looks like a mix between cleaning-lady-style Amy Winehouse and Spiderman) before settling on a mixture of 'Faith' by George Michael and 'I'm Too Sexy' by Right Said Fred (I never thought they'd get a mention on this blog!). Look out for an appearance by The Strokes' Nick Valensi playing a guitar solo suspiciously similar to the sax riff from 'Careless Whisper', and a suggestively placed rubber chicken.
It seems Mr Banhart is a bit of a hit with the ladies, having recently dated Hollywood's very own Natalie Portman. If you are a woman who enjoys hirsute men, or perhaps a man with a pube fetish, then why not click here to see the rather rude artwork for Megapuss' debut album, Surfing.
Recently boring men with guitars have taken over the charts with plodding, depressing, imagination-free dirge that has been lapped up by an audience of morons. I'm thinking The Fratellis. I'm thinking Razorlight. I'm thinking Kaiser Chiefs. Recently, however, there seems to have been a slight shift back towards pop, with Pink, Girls Aloud, Katy Perry and Sugababes all scoring huge hits on the singles chart and more surprisingly on the album charts too, usually the domain of the Tesco CD buying brigade - "Oh, the new Keane album, that can play in the background at the dinner party whilst Christian and Tara talk bonds and dental plans".
Girls Aloud have just released their sixth (!) album, Out Of Control. The album features a song written for them by none other than pop uber-lords the Pet Shop Boys. Here's a picture of them in case you happen to be younger then fifteen:
Yes, they are homosexuals.
The song is called 'The Loving Kind' and is due to be the second single from the album. You may think you've heard it before and that's probably because it's not a million musical miles away from their best single, 'Call The Shots'. As with that single it's got rather sad lyrics about separation and lost love, but musically it's quite upbeat. It means there's a good chance you'll see people at weddings literally crying on the dancefloor, with small children running around and skidding on their knees in the wet patches. If for some reason you're not able to listen to it then simply imagine Girls Aloud singing a Pet Shop Boys song and you're pretty much there. Not a bad thing at all.
I was somewhat surprised to see my name missing from NME's Cool list this year. I write a music blog, said blog is read by 5 people a day, those 5 people keep coming back for more, they think to themselves "who is this mythical man behind Musick? He sure is cool", ergo I should be on the cool list. But I'm not and I will live with it. I have, however, decided to launch the inaugural Musick Cool List, in which we scour the internet looking for someone who epitomises everything that is now, that is current, that is cutting edge, someone who lives music, who breathes it in, sucks it down into his stomach and releases it in the form of musical greatness. I'm talking about a man with the ability to heal people. I'm talking Chris de Burgh...
Here's proof that this man has healing powers.
This is my favourite part:
When De Burgh arrived to pick up his daughter, he sat down beside Miss Mackle and began to place his hands on the scarred area.
The Lady in Red singer mentioned that he was looking for the heat spot and began to concentrate his palms on specific areas in a bid to cure her paralysis.
The following day, Miss Mackle claims she was back at her typewriter using both hands.
Thinking your Jesus. How cool is that?
We've written about Emmy The Great before, but we're incredibly lazy and sometimes it's just easier to stick to what you know, OK? Plus, she has a new single out called 'We Almost Had a Baby', and it's got a baby in the video wearing a really nice knitted hat. It's always nice to see that I think. So here it is:
The song's about how someone nearly made the decision to have a child with someone who, judging by the video at least, isn't really ready for it. It's about feckless men essentially, so in that sense it's not too dissimilar to the work of Beyonce. That's right, Emmy The Great and Beyonce are pretty much singing from the same hymn sheet here, just with wildly different video budgets and one song (i.e. this one) is lovely whilst one is manipulative yet strangely affecting in a I've-eaten-lots-of-chocolate-and-had-some-wine-and-now-my-boyfriend's-dumped-me kind of way.
Emmy The Great (probably not her real name, so I could perhaps drop the latter bit) has a small cameo in the video where she pretends to be a lesbian, which Beyonce has probably done many times before. Not least when Jay-Z wants some jigga love or something.
When reading said music magazine I like to ignore the bits about falling album sales and the demise of the CD single and instead just look at the bit where they recommend new artists or songs. I must also confess to not actually buying this magazine as it costs about £5 but instead just nabbing the one at work (apologies Owen).
Anywho, someone who caught my eye goes by the name of Janelle Monae! I know, I know, that '!' looks ridiculous and is all a bit too "look at me, look at me, everything's exaggerated", but we'll let her off. Actually, the exclamation mark isn't the only extracurricular annoyance, she's also made not a video, but a short film, for her new single 'Many Moons'. Ever since Michael Jackson started spunking all his money on 'long videos', serious artists have always wanted to emulate him, with varying results ('Honey' by Mariah Carey, anyone?)
Many have pointed out the similarities to Andre 3000, not in terms of genitalia naturally, but in terms of the fashion and the jerky dancing. The connection isn't entirely without merit, Monae appeared on Outkast's last album, Idlewild. Still, who is original nowadays? Plus, we can't help but notice a slight whiff of VV Brown, but that may well be a coincidence.
Here's another track, 'Sincerely Jane', complete with some pretty amazing horn blasts.
Listen to some more here.
It's Halloween!! So here's a video for you to be mildly frightened by...
Lovely, spooky and with a twist at the end. What more could you ask for?
Of all the musical genres, rap has never been one to flirt with experimentation too often. During the gangsta rap phase that blighted much of its recent history, you were lucky to hear a change of tempo let alone an interesting musical idea. More recently, rappers such as 50 Cent, Akon, Nelly and Ja Rule have stuck to a well-trodden path, using female singers to recite a (usually heavily sampled) chorus making it catchy enough for radio and benign enough for them to rap about nothing. Timbaland has tried his best to heave the genre into a new dawn and rappers such as Q-Tip, Common and Lupe Fiasco at least have interesting things to say.
Added to that list of both interesting rappers and exciting producers is Kanye West, a man who, despite his ego (or maybe because of it) has had a hand in some of the best rap singles of recent years. Perhaps aware of the shortcomings of his own success- he too has a habit of relying too heavily on a big sample- his forthcoming fourth album 808s & Heartbreak is shaping up to be a pretty huge departure for him and a fairly brave one at that. By now you've probably heard first single 'Love Lockdown', a song that relies solely on a simple piano motif and some frantic drumming. There's no rapping, just West's weedy voice heavily treated through an auto-tuner. Reaction so far has been mixed, with the single hitting the top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic, but with large numbers of rap fans ranting at West's mission to change things up.
The second single is mooted to be 'Heartless', another rap-free, auto-tuned ditty with a beat that sounds like it was created using a £25 Casio from Argos.
Another track that's leaked deals with the death of West's mother earlier this year. 'Coldest Winter' samples Tears For Fears (huh?) and is really rather lovely. For once West's singing voice sounds engaging and the minimal drums and ghostly synth lines help create a genuine atmosphere.
Strangest of all the new songs is 'Robocop'. Over exploding beats and robot sound effects (what else) a heavily-treated West talks of not wanting a robocop. Who does he know that's like robocop in the first place? Of all the new songs this is the only one that West claims is not finished, with Herbie Hancock (?) apparently working on it as we speak. Things just got very bizarre indeed...
In Musick's continuing quest to find out the movers and shakers from across the globe, let's travel down to New Zealand to find out what native sounds are keeping those Antipodeans up all night.
Here's this weeks singles chart:
1. 'Whatever You Like' by T.I. (Big Hip Hop star from America, about to do time for some gun crime...that rhymes!)
2. 'Everything' by P-money Feat. Vince Harder (Have no idea I'm afraid. They're from New Zealand though. Vince Harder sounds like a porn star however)
3. 'All Summer Long' by Kid Rock (Proof that no-one is safe from Mr Rock and his lame summer singalong)
4. 'Sex On Fire' by Kings Of Leon (Ubiquitous American rock band, used to have facial hair but are now far too serious for all that)
5. 'Miss Independent' by Ne-yo (R&B superstar and feminist thinker)
6. 'So What' by Pink (She's like, totally over him already, like, oh my god)
7. 'Live Your Life' by T.I. Feat. Rihanna (He's back and he's brought a friend)
8. 'Poker Face' by Lady Gaga (Nice. Lady Gaga will be HUGE, trust me)
9. 'Just Dance' by Lady Gaga Feat. Colby O'Donis (This song's the better of the two, and that's before I tell you she's partly responsible for New Kids On The Block coming back...hey, wait!)
10. 'One Step At A Time' by Jordin Sparks (Former American Idol winner, this is her third single and is probably quite dull)
So what have we learnt? New Zealanders love American music even more then us Brits do, with 90% of the chart this week made by someone from the US of A. What can we deduce from this? Is it some kind of political statement? Are we headed for some New Zealand/ America alliance? Is it the start of one of the greatest super powers of all time? Or, more prosaically, is it a sign that most radio stations in New Zealand are as narrow-minded as the ones over here?
I will say two things however.
1). Lady Gaga looks and sounds like this:
Like Gwen Stefani before all the yodelling.
2). The T.I. song with Rihanna genuinely features a sample of 'Dragostea din tei' by those musical polymaths O-Zone
Of all the songs to sample. Bizarre.
Razorlight: Slipway Fires.
At first this image for the cover of Razorlight's third album looks fairly innocuous. A simple premise of splitting the cover into four parts, a band member in each, and having the text run across the middle. Nice. Very clean and very simple. But look closer dear reader, for musical genius Johnny Borrell is trying to tell us all something. We all know by now that he's got the music thing sewn up, but did any of us really know what a brilliant aesthetic mind this man has? Firstly, he's the only one in white, because the rest of the band aren't beautiful angels like he is so they must spend their lives (or however long Razorlight are around for, or which ever ends first) in complete darkness, thus allowing Borrell to shine brighter. Also, just look at the way Borrell's shirt flaunts suggestively with his naval, the merest hint of nipple either side of those lovely pearls. Many would claim the pearls to be "a bit much", but Borrell is a brilliantly unique and carefree individual who panders not to any limitations of gender or typical rock star posturing. He's an artist and if this cover doesn't let you know that then you're not concentrating enough. I'm also a big fan of the hair being skillfully swept to one side to reveal an earring that finishes the pirate look with subtle aplomb. Perhaps undermining the whole tableau is the fact that the bass player (he has no name, but is situated top right) is looking over at Borrell and though he makes no face nor utters any words you know he's thinking "what a fucking cunt this man is". So much can be said in a simple photo. Art like this makes me proud to be alive.
Lily Allen has been posting new songs on her myspace page for the past couple of months, whilst simultaneously using it's blog facility to tackle everything from knife crime to female body image. She's also hit back at the numerous newspaper and magazine articles that appear everyday, usually showing her falling in or out of some swanky bar or award show (she claims it's what most young people would be doing, I tend to agree, so I side with Lily. In your face Murdoch!). It's worth noting that until recently even her myspace page was more about Lily Allen the celebrity then it was about Lily Allen the pop star so it's worth re-adjusting the focus back onto the music.
'Everyone's At It' is the first single to be taken from Allen's second album, It's Not Me, It's You, which is out in February of next year. Musically things are a little different, with less ska affectations and more icey electronics. (EDIT: The first single will now be 'The Fear' and will be out in January. It contains a lyrics about blow-jobs). In fact, parts of 'Everyone's At It' recall The Killers' early singles, with rushes of synths and odd 'whoosh' noises. It also takes a few more listens until the chorus sticks in your head, but it will, don't worry.
Lyrically, it's less cockney swagger and more depressed celebrity, with the focus shifted to the drug habits of famous people, politicians and everybody else basically. The sentiments are laudable, especially the bits about people being honest about their own drug habits before vilifying and crucifying others, but it's also all a bit preachy and a tad dull. It's not easy to listen to a famous person moaning, especially one that's not yet 25 years old, and here's hoping the rest of the album shifts the focus away from how it's crap being a celebrity.
This is another new song, which may or may not make the new album. It's called 'I Don't Know' and is about how crap it is being a celebrity...oh.
The best album cover of all time?
Grace Jones has been everywhere of late, promoting her new album Hurricane, and she's quite clearly a little bit mental. But mental equals good in the world of pop, and as with all good pop stars there's something undeniably otherworldly about her. The new stuff doesn't really interest me, however, so I decided to get Island Life, which has got all the 'hits' on.
This one's on it:
And this one:
I was once in an art collective. I was 6 years old and me and some friends would go round to each others houses and make some pretty crazy stuff with fuzzy felts. We'd also daub some pretty out there shit on the walls, real aggressive stuff about Blue Peter or the latest episode of Grange Hill. Usually in a haiku. Brooklyn's Gang Gang Dance are also part of an art collective and make music as part of their art. This sounds incredibly wanky and yet their songs are really rather good. They are signed to Warp in the UK thus making their pretensions somehow more worthwhile and satisfying.
Here's a picture:
And some aural delight:
Now, I don't know much about art, but I know what I like.
Wow, there's this really hot new band, right, and they're, like, oh my God, like, totally awesome and the singer's like a total hottie and their sound is really new and totally fresh and current. They, like, couldn't be more relevant if they tried and they really care about their fans because they're so, like, what's the word, like, prolific and shit. They'd never dream of taking one of their own fans to court for, like, daring to share some of their like totally awesome new music. The song is 'Chinese Democracy' and the band are Guns N' Roses or some shit.
People have genuinely been waiting about 17 years for this song. In that time there have been wars, terrorist attacks, Britney Spears, Harry Potter, two recessions, George W. Bush, Big Brother, Jordan, the fall of capitalism, etc, etc. The album of the same name reportedly cost over $13 million to make, which is actually pretty offensive.
This song may have a political message. If so, it's probably got something to do with Bill Clinton's re-election seeing as that was going on around the time it was written BACK IN THE MID-NINETIES!
Jay-Z has been all over the place of late. What with all that Glastonbury nonsense with musical neanderthal Noel Gallagher, marrying the bootylicious Beyonce, signing a multi-million dollar contract with Live Nation, releasing 'Swagga Like Us'- the M.I.A-sampling single that also featured Kanye, T.I and Lil' Wayne- and launching a range of beauty products called 99 Problems But Bad Skin Ain't One (OK, one of these isn't true). Jay-Z has certainly never been as talked about as he is right now. All this may change however if he doesn't stop messing with shit he shouldn't be messing with (still been watching too much of The Wire!).
Firstly, he appears on a remix version of M.I.A's 'Boyz', a single taken from her album Kala, which has just been re-released following the success of 'Paper Planes'. This new version is weak compared to the original and Jay-Z brings precisely nothing to the table except some lumpen political posturing. M.I.A's new verses aren't great either though...
Still, at least 'Boyz' is a good song and can just about handle being 'Jay-Zed'. At least it's not a limp, cliche-ridden dirge. How bad would it be if Jay-Z rocked up on one of those? This bad perhaps...
That's Coldplay featuring Jay-Z with 'Lost'. Seamless, don't you think?
The bestest thing about birthdays are the presents. I celebrated the passing of another year just a few days ago (I'm guessing your birthday messages were lost in cyberspace somewhere?), and received the rather wonderful 'O' by Tilly & The Wall as a way of dampening the existential fear as I slowly creep closer to death... Anywho, the album is their best yet, with twelve good songs rather than the normal ratio of two great songs, four good songs and five bad ones.
If you listen to Radio 1 (God help you child) then you may have heard this:
* This isn't the official video, but it is twenty three times better then the day-glo original.
My personal favourite from the album is a track called 'Pot Kettle Black', and luckily there's a video so I get to share it with you guys.
WARNING: This video contains lycra, choreography, swearing and small-town American trash.
Whilst avoiding sleep, Musick stumbled upon what looks like a finished version of the new Bjork track, 'Nattura'. We mentioned it here. Not sure where it came from or how it got online (or, more importantly, how long it will stay there), but here it is.
It's a lot more industrial sounding then anything she's done before. Like Tool or Nine Inch Nails if they were genuinely angry. On Volta she worked with two drummers- Lightening Bolt's Brian Chippendale and Chris Corsano- but their contributions were mixed with a handful of other instrumentation, whilst here it's mainly drums and the faint wail of a certain Mr Thom Yorke (especially at the 0.40 mark).
Lyrically...well...er...it's all in Icelandic so God only knows. I really like it.
It sounds like the end of the world.
You know what, Chico was wrong. It's not 'Chico Time', it's 'electro o'clock' is what it is*, and here comes another purveyor of all things electric, Little Boots.
Miss Boots is currently unsigned but has been causing the kind of buzz in the music press that usually leads to a couple of good singles, a rushed album and a footnote come the end of 2009. However, things seem different in this case, mainly because the songs on her myspace are really quite something. She's just posted a brand new track, 'Mathematics', and will be posting new songs every week for the forseebale future. Also available for your ears is 'Meddle', co-produced with one of Hot Chip, a song that sounds like Aaliyah-era Timbaland mating ferociously with Kylie. Yep, it's that good.
Click here for enlightenment.
Little Boots also has a brilliant youtube page that includes about ten cover versions. The best of the lot is this cover of Hot Chip's 'Ready For The Floor'.
Give it a minute to get going. Really amazing. That instrument/light show is called a Tenori-on and is quite literally the greatest thing ever made. They retail at £600 so if you want to donate money so I can buy one that would be greatly appreciated. Hey, I provide a service here and I expect to get paid fool*.
* This blog entry was brought to you by someone who has watched far too much of The Wire.