Thursday, January 28, 2010

mission statement

Australian songstress, Gabriella Cilmi, has been given a shot at a follow up to her debut album, "Lessons To Be Learned", which included a couple of very strong singles like "Sweet About Me", "Save The Lies" and "Don't Want To Go To Bed Now", the latter which inexplicably didn't get a UK release. Overall, the album lacked a cohesive sound which was surprising in the hands of the Xenomania production machine.

"Ten", scheduled for release on March 22, sounds tougher and more direct than her previous longplayer. The first single, "On A Mission", finds GC in 80s redux territory coming across a bit like the more aggressive side of Blondie.

To these ears, the intro, with its rubbery, octave jumping bassline and Casio rhythm machine sequence, is reminiscent of "Steppin' Out" by Joe Jackson. Once again, the 80s references are everywhere. Sonically, "On A Mission" makes a statement and is quite a strong lead single.

As for the video, with Gabriella looking like a young Sophia Loren, it's "Barbarella" meets "Xanadu". Funny how two derided, box office flops have become the visual touchstones for a new generation.

Monday, January 25, 2010

face value

>This March will see yet another regurgitation of hits, singles and mixes from Blitz Club faves, Visage. "The Face - The Very Best Of Visage", which we believe might be a reference to 80s hip mag, will feature all the usual suspects.

The collection is preceded by a 2010 remix of seminal track, "Fade To Grey". Michael Grey who has had massive, dance hits such as "The Weekend" and "Borderline", has given the epic and eerie, new romantic hit a solid reswizzle.

Sounds like Michael Gray stayed faithful to the original but toughened it up a bit for today's legion of club enthusiasts.

The album sleeve is quite nice, as well, with a suitably golden glam look complete with full, new romantic maquillage for Steve Strange. We would expect nothing less.

Here's the tracklisting for "The Face - The Very Best Of Visage", the third greatest hits collection from Visage in the last 25 years.

1. Fade To Grey (Michael Gray Mix 2010)
2. Mind Of A Toy (Dance Mix)
3. We Move (Remix)
4. Tar
5. Fade To Grey
6. In The Year 2525
7. The Anvil
8. Night Train
9. The Damned Don't Cry
10. Love Glove (Single Version)
11. Pleasure Boys
12. Visage (12" Dance Mix)
13. Fade To Grey (12" Version)
14. Der Amboss
15. Fade To Grey (Lee Mortimer Remix 2009)

Four versions of "Fade To Grey"? I guess they needed to fill things out a bit.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

shadow dancing

Smooth tongued R&B singer, Craig David, returns with a brand new single on March 15. "One More Lie (Standing In The Shadows)" is from his forthcoming, fifth longplayer, "Signed Sealed Delivered".

Clever use of The Four Tops' Motown classic, "Standing In The Shadows Of Love", which reached #6 on both the US and UK singles chart in 1967, the year of my birth. Levi Stubbs' remarkable vocal performance is still a spine tingling wonder after 40 years. Interesting to note that nobody has sampled it in the past. And CD seems to pull it off quite well.

Great to see Craig embracing the uptempo numbers again. The track starts off with a bit of a freestyle influence. Not sure if its parent album is going to be all Motown covers or new songs which sample the deep catalog of hits from the label founded in the Motor City. The latter concept might be interesting. The former could be nauseating. I certainly can live without another album of note for note rehashes from the Motown vaults.

Craig David released a greatest hits collection in 2008. If you don't own it, you should get your sweaty, little hands on a copy of it immediately.

It's easy to forget how many fantastic singles he's had over the last decade. I thought for sure "Insomnia", the first single from the hits compilation, would've seen him back at the top end of the singles chart. Sadly, it did not happen. Someone needs to cover it ASAP.

Friday, January 22, 2010

rocket fuel

The new Goldfrapp single, "Rocket", finally leaked. It's a glorious, uptempo, neon slab of 80s synth pop. Some may call their forthcoming longplayer, "Head First", the "proper" follow up to "Supernature" after the more pastoral musings of "Seventh Tree".

If you ask me, I think they're simultaneously channeling Olivia Newton-John circa "Twist Of Fate" and "Telephone (Long Distance Love Affair)" by Sheena Easton. Simply amazing!

At the same time, I hear some Bucks Fizz in there, as well! Some have rightly pointed out that it has that synth sound that falls somewhere between "Jump" by Van Halen and "It's Alright" by Christopher Cross.

And the sleeve is pure "Xanadu". Who doesn't love pink jumpsuits? 1982 is all the rage, ladies and gentlemen.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

waiting for the night train

Keane have been a busy band since they reinvigorated their sound on their third long player, "Perfect Symmetry".

Now, after a long spell of touring, they announced details of their new, eight song EP, "Night Train", which is scheduled to be released on May 10. The tracklisting is as follows:

1. House Lights
2. Back In Time
3. Stop For A Minute
4. Clear Skies
5. Ishin Denshin (You've Got To Help Yourself)
6. Your Love
7. Looking Back
8. My Shadow

The EP was recorded in various studios during their "Perfect Symmetry" world tour. Collaborations include two contributions from Somali/Canadian rapper K'Naan on "Stop For A Minute" and "Looking Back", as well as Japanese baile funk MC Tigarah on "Ishin Denshin (You've Got To Help Yourself)". Apparently, on track, "Your Love", features a rare lead vocal from Tim Rice-Oxley, as well.

The band will be exploring more of the synth heavy sounds they showcased on their most recent album and will expand their sonic palette by blending in different genres and influences into their cinematic productions.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

star turn

They certainly turn these around quickly these days.

Here is the new video from Ellie Goulding for "Starry Eyed" which we spoke about only a few days ago.

We suspect people will start tossing around words like "ethereal". It is a lovely video, though. Something heavenly about the way Ellie looks.

The single will be available in all fine "shops" from February 22. That's one week before her debut longplayer, "Lights", does the same.

Monday, January 18, 2010

if you seek my greasy kiss

So what do we make of the new Sugababes single, "Wear My Kiss"? Clearly the "brand" is pulling in as many pop references as possible.

Here's a preview of the CGI heavy video clip.

Firstly, I suggest Barry Gibb give the girls a jingle on the cellie. The first half of the chorus is clearly lifted from "Grease". Check out the clip of the Bee Gees performing their rendition of the song they wrote for Frankie Valli featured in the movie of the same name.

And for the first time, Sugababes sound like they're trying to ape one of Britney Spears' hits. Seriously, ladies, you've done better. Essentially, the intro to "Wear My Kiss" is nearly identical to "If U Seek Amy". Please note the evidence in the following clip.

On the other hand, Sugababes nearly, single handedly launched the mash up of pop references as the songwriting brief for some of their biggest hits. So, I might be way off base for calling them out on this one.

all eyes on Ellie

The frigid climes of January. The barren wasteland of winter is the perfect metaphor for the sparse release schedule between the run up to Christmas and the new year releases that start showing up in the beginning of February. It's also the time when people start ramping up expectations for new artists and bands.

This year's top tingle is Ellie Goulding. She is the one to watch. She's currently shooting the music video for her forthcoming single, "Starry Eyed", a gorgeous, lushy produced, electronic number. So here is the lovely lass with an update from the secret location where she is lensing the clip.

Her laugh is incredibly infectious. You really get the sense that she's having a wonderful time throughout the entire process as she's being heralded as the "next big thing" and "savior of the music biz".

However, I can't help but think "Under The Sheets" is a stronger song to lead with the "campaign" for "Lights", her debut longplayer. An early listen to "This Love (Will Be Your Downfall)", which seems to have a gloriously towering and ebullient chorus, feels like it might have been a better start, as well. Maybe the label is going for the more muso, less immediate song first in order to avoid any sense of Ellie coming across twee.

So far, the material I've heard has all the makings of a stunning launch into the pop stratosphere. There is something slightly folky about the songs but they've been dressed up in a bright, sparkly jumper which give the tunes their pop sheen.

Hopefully, the hype won't suffocate the artist or the album. In these days of the 24/7 news cycle, it's often impossible to jump on or off the treadmill without damaging consequences. It's far too easy to have interest in a new artist peak as their album hits the streets. The column inches and blog entries dedicated to Paloma Faith's debut nearly dried up the moment the album was released. The entire campaign for Frankmusik's major label debut is a textbook example of blowing one's wad too soon. People move on more quickly these days.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

preparing for pandemonium

Pet Shop Boys are always the beacon of good taste in a foggy sea of substandard design. Where would we be without their keen sense of artistic vision?

Together with long standing, packaging designer, Farrow, they have unveiled the cover art for their forthcoming DVD, "Pandemonium", which was shot live at the O2 Arena in London December 21, 2009.

The set list from the show featured the following performances:

1. More Than A Dream/Heart
2. Did You See Me Coming?
3. Pandemonium/Can You Forgive Her?
4. Love Etc.
5. Building A Wall
6. Go West
7. Two Divided By Zero
8. Why Don’t We Live Together?
9. New York City Boy
10. Always On My Mind
11. Closer To Heaven/Left To My Own Devices
12. Do I Have To?
13. King's Cross
14. The Way It Used To Be
15. Jealousy
16. Suburbia
17. What Have I Done To Deserve This?
18. All Over The World
19. Se A Vida É (That's The Way Life Is)/Discoteca/Viva La Vida/Domino Dancing
20. It’s A Sin
21. Being Boring
22. My Girl
23. West End Girls
24. It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas

"Pandemonium" will be available as a stand alone DVD and as a combination package featuring the DVD and a CD. The entire set list will feature on the DVD as featured above.

Bonus material on the DVD will include the music videos for "Love Etc.", "Did You See Me Coming?" and "All Over The World". Also featured will be their outstanding, 2009 Brit Awards Performance featuring Brandon Flowers from The Killer and Lady Gaga. An audio commentary by Chris Lowe, Neil Tennant and set designer, Es Devlin, detailing all the behind the scenes stories of the show and the tour will also be part of the extra goodies.

The tracklisting for the CD will be as follows:

1. More Than A Dream/Heart
2. Did You See Me Coming?
3. Pandemonium/Can You Forgive Her?
4. Love Etc.
5. Go West
6. Two Divided By Zero
7. Why Don't We Live Together?
8. New York City Boy
9. Always On My Mind
10. Closer To Heaven/Left To My Own Devices
11. Do I Have To?
12. King's Cross
13. Suburbia
14. Se A Vida É (That's The Way Life Is)/Discoteca/Domino Dancing/Viva La Vida
15. It's A Sin
16. Being Boring
17. West End Girls

The filming of the concert was handled by David Barnard who directed the "Cubism", the PSB live show from Mexico City in 2006. The CD and DVD soundtracks are being produced by Stuart Price.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sade of the apocalypse

Today, Sade premiered the glorious, new video for "Soldier Of Love", the first single from the forthcoming longplayer of the same name.

She looks sexy and stoic as she commands her platoon of hip hop hotties to dance in formation in the middle of the desert as the apocalypse descends on the world. Their form is a tad sloppy, though. But Sade saves the day with her magic, Wonder Woman lasso. All is right with the world. Apologies for the ratty video quality.

The tracklisting for "Soldier Of Love" is ten songs strong.

1. The Moon And The Sky
2. Soldier Of Love
3. Morning Bird
4. Baby Father
5. Long Hard Road
6. Be That Easy
7. Bring Me Home
8. In Another Time
9. Skin
10. The Safest Place

Did I shave my legs for this?

Thanks to the pop vigilance of Popjustice for alerting us to "Blood, Tears And Gold", another, achingly beautiful, new song from Hurts.

Still sticking with the gorgeous, moody, black and white visuals as part of their "campaign". Not sure what the shaving represents. Maybe it's their philosophy on life. Perhaps men should embrace their feminine side at times. Maybe it's a lesson. We must peel away the rough before we get to the smooth.

Whatever the message, it's clear they are a stylish lot. Very late 80s. They remind of the double breasted days of Johnny Hates Jazz, Black, Breathe and um... Halo James. I most certainly did mention Halo James! Dig it.

With only two songs floating around in cyberspace, the aforementioned "Blood, Tears And Gold" and previous track, "Wonderful Life", Hurts' forthcoming album is shaping up as an essential listen for 2010.

And thankfully, someone finally posted the AMAZING remix of "Wonderful Life" which was sliced and diced at the hands of 80s production wizard, Arthur Baker.

It has a bit of that electro club sound from New York that was so prevalent in the 80s. A dash of New Order, a pinch of Shannon and a just a whiff of freestyle. Boogie down.

Squeeze that album out ASAP, gents. We've been waiting patiently.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

from seventh to first in two years

The album sleeve for the forthcoming Goldfrapp album, "Head First", has been revealed. I wonder if it reflects some of the pastoral elements of their previous album, "Seventh Tree".

Perhaps we'll be in for more surprises from Will and Alison like the time everyone expected them to continue the high gloss, electro glam of "Supernature" and instead they took a sharp turn off the pulsating, electronic superhighway into a lush, ambient landscape influenced by Ennio Morricone cinematics and draped in warm, delicate, folk inspired sounds.

Expect to hear more soon. "Head First", their fifth longplayer, is scheduled to be released on March 22. It will be preceded by the single, "Rocket".

Gosh, that album cover looks awfully familiar. Where have I seen it before?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

a half dozen Danish

Danish sextet, Alphabeat, return with "Hole In My Heart", the second single from their second longplayer, "The Spell".

It's a dark and infectious, Italo house inspired pop nugget complete with plonky piano bits and little, electro blips and wooshes. The whole things builds to a fever pitch toward the end.

The track reminds me of the heady days of house and rave with records like "Ride On Time" by Black Box and "Keep Warm" by Jinny which is still a flat out, floor filling jam of epic proportions. Clearly, Alphabeat have found inspiration in that era of pop history.

Bizarrely, the album has been available in their home country since the back end of last year, but it isn't on the cards for UK release until February. Nice shot of the group on the super glossy, high fashion album sleeve. Alphabeat are the modern day equivalent of Animotion.

It looks like they splashed out a bit of ca$h on the video, too. (I stole the dollar sign from Ke$ha, by the way. Thanks, babe.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

lucky Russian

Lucky Soul returns to the land of the living with another infectious, pop nugget from their forthcoming album, "A Coming Of Age".

"White Russian Doll" is Mod meets Motown sprinkled with a bit of girl group chic. It has the attitude of Blondie and the cool, kitsch of The Cardigans.

They took time out of their busy schedule to lens a music video for the song in deepest, darkest Berlin. Let's watch...

Monday, January 4, 2010

come to momma

We're only a few days into 2010 and the new music is coming in fast and furious.

Without missing a beat (oh, the glorious puns abound) Róisín Murphy returns with the second track from her forthcoming album.

"Momma's Place", a rugged, throbbing, funky, house number, will be available via AWAL (Artists Without A Label) under the label name Mickey Murphy's Daughter. It sounds more in line with the vibe of Róisín's previous longplayer, "Overpowered", much more than the start-stop stutter of "Orally Fixated", the first song she previewed from her next album.

Here's a little clip of the song that appeared on YouTube today. This is gonna be MASSIVE!

Damn! It makes me wanna run around and smash things! It's big and bold. I love the freestyle elements sprinkled throughout, especially the keyboard riff which reminds me a bit of "Domino Dancing" by Pet Shop Boys. Then there's the zippy little Italo house breakdown in the middle. And isn't it about time someone put orchestra hits back into today's dance jams?

The sleeve art, if we're still using that terminology in these dizzy, digital days, features Róisín in the throes of full on pregnancy sporting a fetching, feathery frock and splashed out in stark, white, porcelain face make up in a sort of Victorian kabuki combo.

The tracklisting for the single, replete with a cadre of remixes, is as follows:

1. Momma's Place
2. Momma's Place (Bongo Boys Remix)
3. Momma's Place (Kanji Kinetic Remix)
4. Momma's Place (Shake Aletti Remix)
5. Momma's Place (Heavy Feet's Heavy What Remix)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

a league of their own

Something exciting for the first post of 2010. Looks like Phil Oakey and co. have signed a brand new deal with well respected label, Wall Of Sound. They're the folks that signed Grace Jones and released "Hurricane" to critical acclaim in 2008. And they're the home of Norwegian electronicists, Röyksopp.

Now they are turning their attention to The Human League, progenitors of electronic pop, who will return with their first longplayer in nearly nine years! Huzzah!

It will be the follow up to "Secrets" which included the fantastic single, "All I Ever Wanted". It should've been a massive hit.

This is Phil talking...