Like most music journalists this weekend (I'm stretching that job title I know, but bare with me) I trundled down to the edge of nowhere, bags packed, worried about the weather, to spend hours walking around trying to find new and exciting music, to try and discover that something special. Along with thousands of other music fans I found myself aboard a train headed for a somewhat mythical place, a place steeped in heritage, a place full of fun and interesting characters. That's right dear reader, I found myself in Leigh-on-sea, Essex for the 17th Annual Leigh Folk Festival.

Having never been to a Folk Festival before I was slightly unsure of what to expect, but was immediately put at ease by the first character I stumbled upon...

Nice to see Father Christmas continuing his cross-dressing habit during the downtime between January and December. Other amazing sights included a sinister clown giving out balloons, lots of belly dancers and a host of people in traditional dress, including this lot, they're like the Traditional Irish S Club Juniors...

Spread across the day were a host of bands and dance troupes, including Annie's Fantasies (!), Deferred Success, The Famous Potatoes ("the sultans of soil", apparently), Westcliff Piping Society and the recently reunited Woebegone Brothers. Due to the amount of pubs and the quality of the fish and chips, I only managed to catch one act, the rather lovely The Rural Tradition, a photo of whom is shown below:

If old Victorian photos had a soundtrack then The Rural Tradition would provide it, somehow finding that mid-point between soothing and sinister. Click here to have a listen.

Next year, when everyone else is forking out over £100 for Glastonbury or V, perhaps think about taking a trip down to Leigh-on-sea to hang out with the Folk massive, drink some cider, do some square dancing and hang out with people like Hilda*

*That may not be her actual name.

There were a number of surprises during the Radiohead gig on Wednesday night. Firstly, the setlist was incredible, ranging from 'My Iron Lung' to 'There, There' to (the rarely played) 'Optimistic', right up to the recently released 'Go Slowly', taken from the In Rainbows extra disc. Secondly, the light show was pretty special, all retina-burning orange glows and icy blues. There was one point during 'Paranoid Android' when I feared an epileptic fit, I'm not even epileptic. Perhaps the biggest shock came at the very start of the gig, however, when wee Thom ran out sporting a pair of red skinny jeans, like some Hoxton art student's Uncle.

Here's a poorly recorded clip of Thom sporting said garments:

Check out the dancing at the three minute mark, the guy's like Justin Timberlake or something.

Here's a slightly better quality version of one of the many highlights, the brutal 'Myxomatosis':

Resplendent in red.

Professional oddball and all round nu-folk sex God Devendra Banhart (currently snugglin' up with Natalie Portman at night time) has formed a new band called Megapuss. For their debut show in America Banhart thought it obvious to step out wearing some black tights, a rather fetching hat and, oh yes, a belt made of penises. We've all been there, right? You're rifling through your wardrobe trying to dig out something that looks vaguely smart for that big first gig, you can't decide which shirt to wear or whether to go with the tie, but what you can always rely on is that trusty penis belt. Devendra obviously thought the belt wasn't quite au naturel enough so he also projected a photo of him in the nude behind the band during the set (calm yourself Kate, there must be photos online somewhere).

Click here to hear some tunage

No, seriously, it's the funniest thing I've heard in a long time (although they're not laughing for some reason)

'Love Is Noise' indeed.

Take one cheeky Monkey and one dirty Rascal, bring to the boil in a vat of Scott Walker's left overs, simmer gently until overly polished and serve up with a side order of smug. The Last Shadow Puppets are back with the second single from their recently released album The Age Of The Understatement:

The video's alright, but weirdly it reminds me of Duffy's video for 'Mercy'. I don't expect that to be the look they were going for however. The song just seems to be made up of other people's efforts, like a loosely sewn musical patchwork quilt, but one that smells of old people.

Kate, much like myself, is a Swedophile. She asked me to feature some Swedish music on Musick, and who am I to refuse? Her initial suggestion of Roxette was a curious one, but after a small argument we decided on Musick favourites Those Dancing Days.

Signed to Wichita records, this all-female five piece from Stockholm made some very stylish waves last year with two pop-tastic singles in the shape of 'Hitten' and the self-referential 'Those Dancing Days'. So far progress on their debut album has been interrupted by the Swedish Education system who demanded that they sit some exams before they jet off on the road to rock 'n roll fame. It seems they've finished their studies now and are back with a new single, entitled 'Run, Run'.

Cute as a button I'm sure you'll agree. If you've heard any of their other singles you'll know that 'Run, Run' doesn't mess with the formula too much, all new wave keyboard lines and artfully detached vocals. The video is somewhat of a concern though, a kind of parents nightmare made flesh, what with all the office chair racing, sitting on high window ledges and messing about on escalators. Tut tut. These Swedes may make wonderful pop music but they are incredibly lax when it comes to safety.

Finally- and linked only by country and the fact they have the word 'dance' somewhere in their name- is Lissi Dancefloor Disaster with 'Oh My God':

Ah, I love it. I shouldn't, but I do. It's the musical equivalent of Sunny D. The video is one of the worst things I've ever seen, but I think they know it. There's also the somewhat unnecessary bonus of being able to watch a 'behind the scenes' making of, which is only mildly worse then the video itself.

Pop music is at its greatest when you like a song despite yourself. Somehow these songs wiggle their way into your brain even though every ounce of you is screaming "REPENT, ALL IS FORGIVEN, A PLAGUE ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES". Or something. Every once in a while a song comes along that is so inane, so brilliantly nonsensical that it somehow turns into the most poignant or passionate three minutes of music you've ever heard. With that in mind, ladies and gentleman, here's Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown singing 'No Air':

You'll notice that it's not the official video but rather a live version from this years American Idol. This is because those youtube fascists have prevented the video from being embedded. Those pesky international conglomerates!

Now for those of you unfamiliar with either Jordin Sparks or Chris Brown, let me break it down for you; Sparks won American Idol in 2007 and has succeeded despite the fact that she's pretty forgettable, whilst Chris Brown is the new Usher and has succeeded despite not actually being Usher. 'No Air' is currently riding high in the US and finally made it to the top 10 here this week. It displays everything I love/hate about American pop:

- It's nonsense- "Tell me how I'm supposed to breathe with no air?" Er, quite frankly, you're not. You will just die and that's not very romantic is it?
- It's over the top to the point of parody
- It sounds like it should be played in a mall
- It has all the emotional resonance of an episode of Hollyoaks
- It's very catchy, to the point where I want to drill a hole in the side of my head like that guy in the film Pi just to make it stop

By next week I hope to be fully cured.

Anyone who's ever been on youtube before will know that there are loads of wannabe singers out there who try their best to murder other people's songs while staring into the camera in a earnest/petrifying way. Well, what do we have here then, some guy called Jesse McCartney trying his hand at singing Leona Lewis' 'Bleeding Love':

Appalling, I think you'll agree...oh, but hang on, this guy co-wrote the song and this is an official version from his debut album, Departure. But why does it sound like it was recorded using a Casio keyboard and Tomy's first microphone?

I much prefer this version by a guy called Nick Pitera:

What a voice!?! Such range, such passion, such sheer determination to succeed at all costs. Shame he can't stick to the melody or that he has problems singing the word 'bleeding', which comes out, somewhat unfortunately, as 'breeding'. 'Breeding Love' is something very different Nick. Check out his unique takes on hits by such luminaries as Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys and Aladdin.

I love music charts. They really fascinate me and to be honest it's quite a scary obsession. I regularly check the UK and US singles and album charts to see all the movers and shakers, but today I thought, 'why limit yourself? There's a whole host of music out there, go discover something new'. So, with that in mind, here's what's happening over in, er, Switzerland:

1. 'Bring en hei' by Baschi (don't act like you don't know. This song has been in the charts for 84 weeks!!!)
2. '4 Minutes' by Madonna & Justin Timberlake (neither of them will make it, trust me)
3. 'Mercy' by Duffy (oh, this is getting a bit familiar)
4. 'All Summer Long' by Kid Rock (er, weird)
5. 'This Is The Life' by Amy MacDonald (what? Do we actually export this stuff outside the UK?)
6. 'Love Is You' by Thomas Godoj (fo shizz)
7. 'Better In Time' by Leona Lewis (global superstar)
8. 'American Boy' by Estelle feat. Kanye West (the UK soul sensation, i.e. a poor man's Rihanna)
9. 'Feel The Rush (Mascots Song)' by Shaggy feat. Trix & Flix (no, seriously, Shaggy)
10. 'I'm Yours' by Jason Mraz (big in Switzerland)

So, what have we learnt? The Swiss aren't immune to the lure of the superstar; Madonna, Kanye West, Justin Timberlake, Leona Lewis...Shaggy. They also still seem to enjoy the odd blast of nu metal, albeit via Kid Rock. They also have to endure some British exports, and I hope and pray that one day they will forgive us for Duffy and Amy MacDonald.

It's no exaggeration when I say that Timbaland is EVERYWHERE. Nearly every song on the radio has either been produced by him or his cohort Danja. Hell, I even heard he's working on some new Katie Melua joints...OK, so that may not be true, but you get the point. I was surprised to learn that he recently worked with The Rapture on a song entitled 'No Sex For Ben'. One can only assume they're referring to TVs Ben Shepherd who's been going through a pretty lean patch recently, sex wise. The track appears on a new computer game that all the kids (and the sweaty IT guys at work) can't stop playing, Grand Theft Auto IV:

I like it a lot. It's jerky, percussive, it's got low end bass, no real chorus, squeaky vocals and even has the trademark cameo from Timbaland at the beginning. Fingers crossed the big man is working on their new album.

- Me and Santogold need to have words. First she 'loans' her song to a well known hair care company and now she's touring with your Grandma's favourites, Coldplay (Pitchfork)

- All you rapidly ageing Guns N' Roses fans can settle back into a comfy chair and listen to some of their new stuff, it's leaked all over the internet (NME)

- Lil' Wayne may have saved the American record industry with sales of over 1 million for his new one week! (Billboard)

- It's not all good news over in the US of A as Colplay score their first ever number 1 single with their cover of 'Livin' La Vida Loca' (Billboard)

Some cynics may suggest that Florence and The Machine would never have been signed were it not for the success of Kate Nash or Lily Allen. The truth is, they're probably right. In the same way that we wouldn't have Keane if it weren't for Coldplay (ah, just imagine that), record companies are out to make money, it's what they do, so of course they want to follow a successful formula with something similar. In the case of Florence (I'm not sure what her machine looks like, it's missing from the video) and debut single 'Kiss With A Fist', it's a formula that she's adapted to create something with a bit more bite, even if the subject matter of domestic violence is perhaps one not ripe for arch generalisations. People will probably call her the female Jamie T, she'll no doubt get referred to as a poet dissecting Britain's youth culture and we'll be bored of her by September. But for now, here's 'Kiss With A Fist' (it's annoyingly catchy):

As you can see Florence is pretty cool. I know that because none of her clothes match and she dances like a kid at a wedding. As does Rebekah Raa, singer with Stricken City, although if it were a wedding it would be an outdoor one, possibly at a commune with lots of Joss sticks and hemp. Now, I can genuinely say that I know someone who used to be in Stricken City. It's not much of a claim to fame just yet, but you wait, people will be banging down my door trying to get the dirt pretty soon. New single 'Tak O Tak'(released on a limited edition 7" on 28 July) is rather wonderful, a slightly wonky rush of angular guitars and old synths. I haven't a clue what Raa is singing about, but it all sounds frightfully exciting and the video's like the best game of dressing up you've ever seen:

Tenuous links featured in this article: both singers are women, they both dance funny, they have London accents when they sing, they're both a bit fidgety.

The other night I was at home making myself some pasta when who should pop round? None other then hip-hop megastar Missy Elliott (or Melissa to her friends). Now, I haven't seen her for years so it was nice to catch up and discuss what we'd been up to recently. I blabbed on about working in an office and doing admin (which she loves hearing about, it keeps her grounded) and then she told me some interesting stuff about her new album.

Originally entitled 'FANomenal'(MOJO even reviews the album under that name in this month's edition), it will now be called Block Party and will be released in early September. Guest spots are still being confirmed, but production will be handled by long-time collaborator Timbaland, as well as Pharrell, Danja, Soul Diggaz and my friend James who works on the meat counter in Tescos. One of these is a lie. Missy also went on about how the album was more R&B orientated then her last couple of albums and that parts of it sound like she's on drugs. This is the first single, it's called 'Best, Best':

Now, I couldn't tell Missy to her face but this is a bit, well, it's a bit, you know...meh. It's good, I like the beat and the little sci-fi effects, but at the same time it's no 'Work It' or 'Get Ur Freak On'. It is a grower though, so maybe by next week I will be shouting its merits from atop a large building.

Much better is another new track that appeared on the soundtrack to some appalling dance-related film earlier this year, the Timbaland produced 'Shake Your Pom Pom'. I was telling Missy that I thought perhaps it should have been the first single but she got all defensive and left with a packet of my rich tea biscuits and half a Kit Kat chunky. If you're reading this Missy, you owe me 85p.

It's been brooding for a while this one, but finally Beck announces details of his imminent tenth album, Modern Guilt.

This is what we already knew:

- Produced by Danger Mouse
- Features Cat Power on at least one track
- 10 songs, just over 30 minutes long in total
- Released in the UK on XL

We now know what the album cover will look like:

It's not dull! It's 'muted' or 'classic' or 'understated'. Certainly it's his least colourful or inventive cover since before Mellow Gold.

The tracklisting is here:

01 Orphans
02 Gamma Ray
03 Chemtrails
04 Modern Guilt
05 Youthless
06 Walls (feat. Cat Power)
07 Replica
08 Soul of a Man
09 Profanity Prayers
10 Volcano

So, just the one Cat Power duet. You can't judge anything by song titles, but if you could I say that 'Gamma Ray' is a bit electro, 'Modern Guilt' has lots of guitar on it, 'Walls' and 'Soul Of A Man' are Sea Change-esque slowies and 'Volcano' is 'explosive'. Knowing Beck that's way off and the whole thing will probably take in polka, swing, latin funk, electroclash and the Indonesian nose flute. The album is out in the UK on 7 July. Whoo and indeed hoo.

EDIT: Here's a clip of Beck performing the title track in the US of A. Please note the hair and the glasses. Also note how Beck never seems to age, this is basically what he looked like circa 'Loser' about fifty years ago. I'm at work so can't listen to the song, it might be rubbish, but I doubt it somehow. Thanks to Jake for the heads up.

You know how it is, you buy a music magazine or you pick up a paper and there they are, these new bands looking longingly up from beneath a headline screaming out about how they're the best thing since 2 Unlimited. There are so many of them; everybody saying how amazing everyone else is, hype flying left right and centre, and it's hard to know what to think anymore. I feel that it is my duty to sift through the sand to find the chunks of pure musical gold and to do this I have come up with an incredibly technical system. I can't go into exactly what this system involves (I'd have to kill you, all 4 of you), but trust me when I say it's pretty mind-blowing. Here goes:

First up is heart-breakingly cool electro due, Crystal Castles with 'Courtship Dating':

Next up is bearded loner Bon Iver with 'Stacks':

I think it's becoming clearer, no? It's not a system that's been used before so bare with me...

Up next is the-Klaxons-did-it-so-why-can' Late Of The Pier with 'Space And The Woods':

Finally, we have the four-part harmony loving Fleet Foxes with 'White Winter Hymnal':

Conclusive proof that beards are in and electropunknurave is out. This is fact now. Remember where you heard it first.

- Music is saved: Brett Anderson will release a new solo album very soon. The wait is over people, rejoice (NME)

- Janet Jackson blames her record company for not supporting her new album enough. Cancels tour in Europe. Europe shrugs and gets on with day (Yahoo Music)

- Speaking of European tours, M.I.A has only gone and cancelled hers. She cites physical exhaustion and wanting to go to the same shop really (Pitchfork)

- Pete Doherty is this piece of artwork silly. The real Pete Doherty died years ago and is now played by the Artful Dodger from the original Oliver film (The Sun)

Oh Radiohead, how I love thee. Not only are they currently performing a brand new track on their tour- the very pretty 'Super Collider'- but they've also covered 'The Rip' by Portishead. Somehow the best song of the year so far just got that bit better.


For every moment of beauty there has to be a crushing example of corporate ugliness, and unfortunately it's arrived in the shape of this unholy mess. Converse have teamed up with Pharrell, Santogold and Julian Casablancas from The Strokes to celebrate the shoe company's 100th year, with 'My Drive Thru' the somewhat confused result. It starts off well enough and you might feel your toe start to tap, but after about a minute or so you begin to realise that it's just impatience, the song just doesn't go anywhere. See what you think...

This is how the trio look sporting their spanking new trainers:

Having made two of the greatest Hip Hop songs of all time with 2001's 'Get Ur Freak On' and 'Work It' released the following year, Missy Elliott was on a roll. Working alongside producer Timbaland, Missy Elliott had helped create a musical world of her own, one that pushed the boundaries of pop without losing any of its immediacy. 'Work It', for example, featured a chorus of backwards rapping whilst 'Get Ur Freak On' somehow managed to marry hip hop beats with a Bengali melody and lyrics written in Hindi. Things started to unravel, however, with 2003's This Is Not A Test!, an album that would go on to be Elliott's lowest seller. Lead single 'Pass The Dutch' failed to create an event quite like it's predecessors and people questioned whether the creative partnership had lost its Midas touch. Aware of the pressure to try something new Elliott retreated to the studio and decided to limit her collaborations with Timbaland to just a handful of songs. Eventually, The Cookbook would open with two Timbaland productions, 'Joy' and 'Partytime'.

By opening the album with the only Timbaland/Elliott compositions the listener is lured into a false sense of security, the minimal patter of 'Joy' and the rumbling bass of 'Partytime' as comforting to Elliott fans as anything from her previous albums. From here the album really takes off, as if working with other producers (notably Rich Harrison, Scott Storch, The Neptunes to name but a few), offered Elliott a freedom that had been missing from her recent output. Certainly, the single 'Lose Control', produced by Elliott, sounds like the most fun she's had in a while and even manages to be good despite the presence of Fatman Scoop.

Elsewhere, Elliott tackles her inner demons on the Mary J.Blige duet 'My Struggles' and hip hop ballad 'Teary Eyed', before returning to her rapid fire flow on the frantic 'Can't Stop'. Highlight of the entire album is the phenomenal 'On & On', produced by The Neptunes. Opening with a chest vibrating low bass rumble, it sounds like it was created in a lab somewhere in space and beamed down to earth to show everyone how it's done. Brilliantly, it doesn't have a chorus, just Pharrell grunting "uh, uh, oh, uh, uh, oh". Despite a host of special guests- Blige, M.I.A, Slick Rick, Fantasia, Ciara- the real star is always Elliott, her lyrics as funny as the music is innovative. Amazingly, the album peaked at number 33 in the UK, proving once and for all that people are dullards.

Like a major multinational company, Musick is secretly funded and controlled by a sinister Svengali, a mystery figure who pulls the strings and pays the wages. Kind of like Guy Hands. In order to keep my job - and my kneecaps- in tact, I have finally given in and allowed Rob (that's all I can divulge) his chance to share some of his favourite new music. Rob is obviously incredibly busy so I will write his words down for you to enjoy.

First up is Canadian three piece, Plants and Animals.

As you can see they look a bit like Flaming Lips, lots of unruly hair and zany props, but musically it's all thrummed guitars, pianos and some beautiful harmonies. Check out 'Bye Bye Bye' on their myspace page:

Next up is Orphans & Vandals, a five piece who probably hail from Shoreditch by the look of them. They have exotic names such as Quinta and Raven, and are, as you can see, terribly moody:

Lead singer Al Joshua looks a bit like Sean Penn and seems intent on bringing back the spoken word intro, much like a younger Jarvis Cocker. New single 'Terra Firma' is pretty good (although he sounds too much like Johnny Borrell for my liking), they're just missing that one killer song. Listen to them here:

Fingers crossed my job is secure...

Like a Politician I like to pretend to be democratic whilst at the same time stealing people's ideas and taking all the credit. So, here are two bands that I have discovered ALL BY MYSELF simply through trawling the internet, speaking to all the right people and generally just being a magnet for amazing music. Strangely, both bands have a connection to cats, see if you can spot it...

First up is a band called Cats In Paris. I know very little about them other then the fact that there's four of them and that this song 'Foxes' is ruddy brilliant, a great mix of Stereolab's keyboards and Belle & Sebastian's twee, er, ness.

They also have some other songs on their myspace:

Next up is a band called Talkdemonic who have an album called Beat Romantic out now, and a new one out in September. The song below is called 'Mountain Cats'.

I don't use the word 'lush' very often, but it's appropriate in this instance. Unfairly, I have taken a snippet of the blurb from their myspace page ( in the hope of describing their sound:

"Like nothing the Pacific Northwest has seen before, Talkdemonic melds the primal, the classical and the modern to create songs that are as sweeping in scope as they are shattering in intensity"

I love record company speak. I prefer this though:

"Sounds kinda like an acoustic instrumental Radiohead playing fiddles and banjos in a forest" Christoff Spurr


Sometimes nothing can stand in the way of true love. There comes a point when the words expressed from one lonely heart to another are so potent and so beautiful that everyone just has to stand back and swoon. This rare moment has happened dear readers to none other then indie spunk Luke Pritchard from The Kooks. That's right, the man who has no doubt been the soundtrack to numerous teenage snogs has declared, in the sweetest of terms, his yearning desire for actress/TV presenter/indie-pop play thing Carmen Electra. This is what our very own Romeo had to say:

"I'd like to fuck Carmen Electra".

I know, I cried too. How that man manged to utter those words without breaking down is beyond all human capacity, the guy's some kind of machine. He also went on to claim that the reason he could lucidly divulge his inner most feelings without fear of retribution was because of him being in a "big band". I put this to the test:

Me: Hi, is that Carmen Electra's agent?

Agent: It is, yes. Who's calling?

Me: It's Luke Pritchard.

Agent: Who?

Me: From The Kooks.

Agent: Who?

Me: Just tell Carmen I want to fuck her. Tell her I'm in a big band. She'll understand.

Agent: Carmen's actually got a boyfriend.

Me: Yeah, but is he in a big band? Did he once go out with Katie Melua? No, exactly. Tell Carmen to call me when she's realised what I'm offering.

Agent: OK, will do.

Proof, if proof were needed that being in a third rate indie band and having rubbish hair means diddly squat to someone who's been in Baywatch. Soz Luke.

Here's Luke being 'sexy' and trying to play the guitar.

Pop music's been all about the comeback recently. From Take That to the Spice Girls, from All Saints to Boyzone, we've all marvelled at how well the old 'magic' has been recreated with barely hidden financial desperation...I mean artistic inspiration. But there's been one band missing, hasn't there? Come on, think back, which band do you long to see on stage giving it their all to a cheap-sounding backing track? That's right, New Kids On The Block are back! Donny, Jordan, Brian, Tito, Jermaine and Randy are ready to reclaim their crown with an all out aural onslaught in the shape of new single 'Summertime'.

No it's not a cover of the DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince 'classic', but rather a fairly middling R&B jam with a chorus that runs something like this: "I think about you in the summertime/ Let's make this song more anodyne". As with most of these comeback bands their name is a slight problem; claiming to be the new kids on any block is somewhat stretching the realms of fantasy now (Spice 'Girls', 'Boy'zone, All 'Saints', etc). Also, it begs the question (on so many levels), why? Why do people want to watch slightly portly men in their mid-thirties gyrating to songs they used to like fifteen years ago but have probably never played since? Is nostalgia that powerful a force?

Let's devise a list of bands we want to re-form next. I'll start us off:

- Bros
- S Club Juniors (the junkie years)
- Upside Down
- Bad Boys Inc.
- Worlds Apart
- Girl Thing
- Menswe@r
- Eternal
- BBMak
- Colour Me Badd
- Cleopatra
- Damage
- MN8
- O-Town
- Ultimate Kaos

Email me any more suggestions to

EDIT: The clear winners of the above poll were MN8. You people are sick.

Today is new release Monday, as I'm sure you're all aware. So, off I trundled to my local music emporium to purchase the debut album by the much-touted Fleet Foxes.

Upon my arrival I was met by the new Alanis Morissette album and a carelessly knocked out Radiohead Best Of, but no Fleet Foxes. It seems the album has been pushed back until June 16.

I spoke to someone at their record label (I didn't) and this is what he had to say (he didn't):

"Unfortunately, due to the fact that everyone with ears is going mental about how good this album is we've changed the release date so we can cash in on all the amazing press they've been receiving".

It's capitalism gone mad I tell you. Curses.

I couldn't leave empty handed so I purchased Cut Copy's In Ghost Colours, which is really quite something. You should give it a listen, or ask me to do you a copy.

It's been duly noted by Musick's one sole reader that this weekly feature has been anything but, with only one edition appearing so far. This is clearly a postmodern manipulation of the very idea of 'weekly', a semantic interpretation of the realms of time and space. Ahem. So, without further ado, the weekly column returneth...

You know when you hear people talking about 'those difficult second albums' they may be thinking about Elastica's forever delayed follow-up to 1995's self-titled debut. The Menace was released in 2000 long after everyone had given up hope that it would ever see the light of day, resulting in a chart peak of no. 24 (their debut album had reached no. 1). Without the Britpop hullabaloo to support it and coming at a time when dad rock was just taking off again (cheers Coldplay) the album was widely ignored. But listening to The Menace now there's much to admire among its 13 tracks. Songs like the brilliant 'Mad Dog Gad Dam', 'Generator', 'KB' and 'Your Arse My Place' are as good as the songs from their debut whilst The Menace also stretches their musical chops, taking in everything from The Breeders ('Human') to Eno-esque soundscapes on 'Miami Nice' and 'My Sex'. They also pay homage to one of their heroes, Mark E. Smith, with the Fall-aping 'How He Wrote Elastica Man' on which the man himself also appears.

The album's lack of success wasn't helped by the fact that the band chose a cover as the first single ('Da Da Da' originally by Trio), which takes some balls (read petulance) when you've kept your fans waiting for five years before releasing any 'new' material. Factor in the fact that the album was written and recorded following singer Justine Frischmann's much-publicised split with Blur's Damon Albarn and the subsequent commercial and critical failure only added to the ammunition of the (mainly male) music critics who had always maintained that Elastica's songs were written by Albarn. It's fair to say that The Menace is a tetchy, troubled album (lots of drugs were consumed during it's protracted genesis), one that shifts around just as you're beginning to get to grips with it but it's far from the failure people might label it as.

Fact: The artwork was done by none other then Maya Arulpragasam...aka singer/rapper/global style icon M.I.A, who was studying at Art college and used to crash on Justine Frischmann's floor. It's a fact, I didn't say it was an interesting one.