Monday, February 28, 2011

big trouble

Take That are a bit predictable. N'est-ce pas, mes chattons? Second single in from "Progress", their sales busting, Stuart Price produced, number one longplayer, is a glam lite stomper featuring Mark Owen on lead vox with Gazza chiming in on the chorus.

The uptempo retro 70s rocker concept worked for "Shine", the ELO-esque follow up to "Patience". The same can't be said for "Up All Night" which followed the chart topping single, "Greatest Day".

Now that Robbie is back in the fold, will the dark, blustery, menacing, militaristic vibe of "Kidz" go over well in the charts?

The single is poignant and timely in the wake of the student riots in the UK. It reminds me of a time long ago when Duran Duran gave us "The Wild Boys" and Culture Club returned with "The War Song". They were muscular, dramatic, big beat numbers which were a bit harder edged for both bands. However, both Duran and Culture Club pushed the boundaries only four years into their chart run. It took ver That nearly twenty years to give us some rough edges.

With Take That's recent star turn on the this years Brit Awards with a clusterfuck performance of their latest single, the official vid couldn't be far behind. And as if by magic, here it is!

Well that certainly isn't a low budget clip, my darlings. They threw shitloadsamoney around on the production line for it. Where did the label stash the cash for that one?

Anyway, it's a jolly video with the five lads dressed in battle regalia, bringing the joy of song to the "kids" of planet Earth. Take That in the guise of pop warriors, ladies and gents! Is it me or is Robbie even present on the track? He doesn't even bother to lip sync in the vid, instead preferring to mug the camera only a few times.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

gods and things

Promotional efforts are in full effect for D:Ream with their new single, "Gods In The Making".

No promotional push would be complete without the requisite video. Of course, Pete and Al have seen fit to film one.

In these new DIY days, it's the technology that matters, not the perceived quality of the clip. And I like D:Ream's low-fi affair! It does the trick.

While we're on the subject of promotion, D:Ream have been making several stops at radio stations across the UK in the run up to the release of their brand new longplayer, "In Memory Of...", which is scheduled to be available from all fine "shops" on March 7.

Here's Pete with a couple of acoustic performances of "U R The Best Thing" and "Things Can Only Get Better" on a recent trip to Liverpool radio station Juice (*snicker*) FM.

A couple of thoughts. Firstly, please tell someone at Juice FM to dial down the reverb. Secondly, I think I have a little crush on Mr. Cunnah! More importantly, Pete's raw vocal really shines in an acoustic setting. It showcases the soulful nature of his voice which oftentimes can be overshadowed by production and effects.

Here's a little suggestion fellas... Record five acoustic performances in the studio with nothing more than guitar accompaniment. Maybe throw in a piano for good measure. Down and dirty. Some bonus stuff to enhance the next couple of singles or, perhaps, put together a special configuration of the album. You can pay me later for that idea. Large, unmarked notes will do. Thanks.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

cinematic Sunday

It appears that Hurts are getting quite good at this music video malarkey. Theo and Adam just unveiled the clip for "Sunday", the fourth single from their debut longplayer, "Happiness".

Let's take a look, shall we?

Visual non-sequiturs ahoy! One half of the vid wants to be "Heart" by Pet Shop Boys. The other half wants to be "Tron". Still, it looks expensive without being a budget buster. It seems like they did quite a lot with the little they had to work with. Keep in mind, nobody gets four singles from and album plus a video to accompany each one. So, kudos to Hurts for squeezing every sheckle they could out of the label. All in the name of art!

And if my ears don't deceive me, I believe the single mix is slightly reswizzled for maximum enjoyment.

Speaking of mixes, the Seamus Haji post production is quite danceable and pleasing to the ear. However, it appears the Paul Van Dyk remix is still very much under wraps. According to those in the know, it is stonkingly good.

Let's not forget that Hurts lensed a clip for their Christmas single, as well, which brings their total of music videos to five. I'd say it's time for the deluxe edition of "Happiness" with a second disc of mixes and a bonus DVD featuring all their videos and, perhaps, a live concert.

Monday, February 21, 2011

second helpings

Blancmange, the maiden aunts of synthpop, have returned from the hinterlands with "Blanc Burn", their first longplayer in 25 years!

But don't just take my word for it. Hear it directly from Neil Arthur
Stephen Luscombe themselves!

Promotion for the album kicks into full swing with the release of the first single, "Drive Me".

It reminds me of "Chorus" era Erasure and some mid-90s squelchy house. The raw bass line gives it an bit of an indie feel.

The following is the official tracklisting for "Blanc Burn". The album will be available from all fine "shops" from March 7. Blancmange are back. Back! BACK!

1. By The Bus Stop @ Woolies
2. Drive Me
3. Ultraviolent
4. The Western
5. Radio Therapy
6. Probably Nothing
7. I'm Having A Coffee
8. Don't Let These Days
10.Don't Forget Your Teeth

Some of their trademark Indian arrangements have remained in tact on a few of the album's tracks. You may recall they brought the exotic sounds of the tabla to the pop table with a little number called "Living On The Ceiling", their first of seven top 10 UK singles.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Duran deluxe redux

Sir Nicholas Of Rhodes, the arch and arty member of worldwide superstar pop combo Duran Duran, has been up all night mixing some new material for the forthcoming physical configurations of their latest longplayer, "All You Need Is Now".

Please give him your undivided attention as he rattles off a number of upcoming special events for the fearsome foursome.

The fresh incarnation of "All You Need Is Now" will be available on CD, vinyl and a deluxe edition CD with a bonus DVD. The deluxified package will include an additional song called "Networker Nation" along with a DVD featuring rare studio footage, as well as exclusive commentary from the band about the nine songs on the previously released digital album.

The following is the expanded tracklisting for "All You Need Is Now".

1. All You Need Is Now
2. Blame The Machines
3. Being Followed
4. Leave A Light On
5. Safe (In The Heat Of The Moment)
6. Girl Panic!
7. A Diamond In The Mind
8. The Man Who Stole A Leopard
9. Other People's Lives
10. Mediterranea
11. Too Bad You're So Beautiful
12. Runaway Runaway
13. Return To Now
14. Before the Rain

The expanded physical configuration of the elpee features five new songs including "A Diamond In The Mind" (a reference to a lyric from the first single and title track of the album), "Other People's Lives", "Mediterranea", "Too Bad You're So Beautiful" and "Return To Now".

The addition of "Networker Nation" on the deluxe edition brings the tally of songs to fifteen. I'm curious as to where the other three songs will turn up. Nick mentions "Too Close To The Sun", "Early Summer Nerves" and "This Lost Weekend". However, none of them are featured on the tracklistings for any of the physical releases. Could there be another version of the longplayer in the works?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

a league of their own

The Human League, fresh from the release of "Night People", their first single in over a decade, return with the follow up, "Never Let Me Go". Both tracks have been plucked from "Credo", their forthcoming longplayer.

The icy drama of "Never Let Me Go" features a heavily yet tastefully auto-tuned Susanne Sulley over a track that tips its hat to Kraftwerk and almost comes across as a late 80s freestyle track. Nods to the Minneapolis sound, which THL explored on "Crash", their Jam & Lewis produced opus from 1986, are woven into the mix.

The track also is slightly reminiscent of Client with a just a hint of funk added to it. Let's listen. Shall we?

Phil Oakey's booming voice is less present yet still effective in the overall landscape of the song. "Never Let Me Go" will be available from all fine digital "shops" on March 21. The album, "Credo", will follow a week later.

"Credo" is The Human League's first new body of work since "Secrets" was released in 2001. Produced by I Monster, the nucleus of Philip Oakey, Susanne Sulley and Joanne Catherall are ably supported by long standing sidemen Neil Sutton, Rob Barton and David Beevers.

The following is the full, official, eleven song strong tracklisting for "Credo".

1. Never Let Me Go
2. Night People
3. Sky
4. Into The Night
5. Egomaniac
6. Single Minded
7. Electric Shock
8. Get Together
9. Privilege
10. Breaking The Chains
11. When The Stars Start To Shine

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

a thing about D:Ream

D:Ream, the duo of Al MacKenzie and Peter Cunnah, makes the long trek back from obscurity with the imminent release of "In Memory Of...", their brand new longplayer.

If you don't remember D:Ream, allow me to give you a little refresher. They had two of the best singles of the 90s. Both are about "things". Both were released three times each. Both are pop "classics". Both will give you the uncontrolable urge to dance around your handbag.

"Things Can Only Get Better" was their big breakthrough in 1994 upon its second release. It went all the way to #1 and improved on its initial chart placing of #24 of the previous year. In 1997, the song was co-opted by the Labour Party in the UK for the General Election and peaked at #19.

"U R The Best Thing" incorporates a device which uses a single letter in place of a word. This was made most famous by Prince. For this reason, D:Ream was quite revolutionary as it predated texting. Attention young people. Ke$ha did not invent this concept.

After previewing two singles more than a year ago - "All Things To All Men" (More "things"! I sense a theme.) and "Drop Beatz Not Bombs" - all went dormant. Reenergized and ready for action, D:Ream are about to issue "Gods In The Making", the third single from their forthcoming longplayer.

Let's have a listen.

D:ream - "Gods In The Making" (Radio Edit)

It has a dark and lovely, epic feel to it. Love the flashes of diva house background vocals. Peter's voice sparkles with an unbridled urgency. It even has moments that remind me of Seal circa "Crazy" and bits that sound a little like New Order. Not exactly a bad thing!

"Gods In The Making" will be available from all fine digital "shops" on February 28. The album will follow a week later.

Monday, February 7, 2011

modern art

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark has revealed the tracklisting for "History Of Modern (Part I)", the third single to be delicately plucked from the retro electro duo's current longplayer.

In a gloriously bold and quite right-minded move, the limited edition, twelve track digipak CD single will not only feature a clutch of fine remixes of the track, it will also include ALL of the b-sides which have appeared across the vinyl formats of the previous two singles, "Sister Marie Says" and "If You Want It".

As a bonus, Andy and Paul have slapped on their cover of "VCR" which was originally recorded by The xx. It's a stellar single package that shows OMD are listening to their fervently devoted fanbase. Huzzah and a champagne clink!

The following is the full, official and complete tracklisting for "History Of Modern (Part I)".

1. History Of Modern (part I)
2. History Of Modern (part II)
3. History Of Modern (part III & IV)
4. History Of Modern (part I) (Krystal Klear Remix)
5. History Of Modern (part I) (Roger Erickson Remix
6. History Of Modern (part I) (Selebrities Remix)
7. History Of Modern (part I) (OMD's Extended Remix)
8. History Of Modern (part I) (Remix Radio Edit)
9. VCR
10. The Grand Deception
11. Idea 1
12. Alone

OMD will crash upon US shores in March. We'll be visiting Andy and Paul backstage before the NYC show which has been moved from Webster Hall to Terminal 5 in order to accommodate a larger, loving audience.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

absolutely Green

Forget everything else you will hear before December 31. The brand new Scritti Politti single, "A Day Late And A Dollar Short", is the single of the year! Did you hear me? It is the SINGLE OF THE FUCKIN' YEAR! Sorry for the expletive. I just cannot contain myself.

Stop everything you're doing and listen.

Bam salute! Scritti Politti gettin' gritty! It's the audio equivalent of a bottle of poppers and a glass of the finest champagne rimmed with top grade cocaine! My goosebumps have goosebumps. It makes me wanna dance around naked and smash things. I love it SO very much, indeed.

The electro glam stomp gives it a feeling of urgency. Green Gartside's heavenly helium voice has never sounded better. And the Beach Boys inspired vocal harmonies on the intro and middle eight are beyond deluxe!

David Gamson, Mr. Gartside's collaborator from the the "Cupid & Psyche 85" era, has made a welcome return. Most recently, Mr. Gamson has produced tracks for Ke$ha and Adam Lambert. Both, quite frankly, leave me cold.

However, when you listen to "A Day Late And A Dollar Short", you hear the Scritti sound system bang up to date! Hard to believe it was written and produced by two men in their fifties!

If it was the new Ke$ha single, it would be a smash. Then again, it could NEVER be her new single or that of any of the current crop of pop pretenders. Why? Because it's far too intelligent and well crafted. The layers! The sonics! The production! Simply magnificent.

"A Day Late And A Dollar Short" is one of two new tracks on Scritti Politti's first ever career retrospective, "Abosulte", which is scheduled to hit the "shops" on February 27 after nearly a year of delays. No word on whether or not a companion DVD is in the works.

Let's hope Mssrs. Gartside and Gamson are working on a new studio longplayer.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I heard you making patterns rhyme

The Fab Four once proclaimed, "It was 30 years ago today...". Slowly but surely, it crept its way into becoming an appropriate rock n' roll catchphrase as the youth of the 1960s began to slip into adulthood.

Now, one band I've been following since the very beginning is celebrating a landmark moment in their career. Today marks the 30th anniversary of the release of "Planet Earth", Duran Duran's debut single.

I distinctly remember the very first time I saw the video. As I've mentioned previously, my dad used to work at a production house in NYC that duplicated UK sourced videos for US labels. Everything was transferred from PAL to NTSC and lovingly delivered to the record companies for distribution to clubs and a fledgling cable channel called MTV.

The site of Simon Lebon prancing around in a tea towel made me feel a bit sexy before I explored the real meaning behind that twitch in my loins. I was very taken with Lord Nicholas Of Rhodes and his sense of "fashion". The pink feather duster wig. The frilly shirt. He looked like a futuristic, colonial soldier. Roger's awkward shyness and plain attire made him seem at odds with Duran's visual aesthetic. Still, he was droolworthy and I needed an endless supply of hankies. For my overactive saliva glands, natch.

Somehow, their rag tag look worked. The band were made up of distinct individuals not characters. The sum of their parts pulled all the threads together in a cohesive sonic and visual unit.

As a teenager in the shadow of the Manhattan skyline, I had no clue about the New Romantic movement. The music spoke to me. The Rum Runner and Blitz Club didn't even make a ripple on my radar until I started reading i-D and The Face, THE essential Brit mags for a self-proclaimed Anglophile. That was about two or three years after "Planet Earth" touched down on my small home stereo.

But what about the song? I remember being obsessed with the sound of it. I could pick out bits of Giorgio Moroder, Kraftwerk and Chic. The chorus could've been lifted from an old Bay City Rollers single. The past, present and future collided in one swift three and a half minute pop opus.

And what about the b-side? Strong enough for an a-side! I couldn't believe "Late Bar" had been relegated to the flip of "Planet Earth". In fact, when "Late Bar" didn't appear on Duran Duran's debut longplayer, I was shocked. I remember making a cassette tape of the elpee and adding the b-side to the end of it. There are few bands that boast b-sides as a-side contenders. And the mighty DD has had many of them.

So, here we sit with our lattes and iPads as Duran Duran release their thirteenth longplayer, "All You Need Is Now". Certainly a strong album. One worthy of their long and distinguished career. And "Planet Earth" doesn't sound out of step with the current league of electro flavored pop stars. It's deliciously retro and super fresh at the same time.

In terms of a timeline, imagine if The Beatles had released a new album in 1994. That's the length of time between Duran's debut and their current elpee. That blows my mind. I think I need to rest my weary head after that little realization.

And I'm not the only who can't bend their brain around that. Check out John Taylor's thoughts as he ruminates about that inaugural pop explosion. You can read his recollections over at the official Duran Duran website.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

incredible selection

Pet Shop Boys have revealed the tracklisting to the score of their forthcoming ballet, "The Most Incredible Thing".

Split into three acts, the music accompanies an adaptation of a story by Hans Christian Andersen set to choreography designed by Javier de Frutos. The score includes music and lyrics by Mssrs. Tennant and Lowe. So, one can assume there will be at least one pop nugget among the recorded material.

"The Most Incredible Thing" will hit the "shops" on March 14. The ballet will be performed at the legendary Sadler's Wells from March 17 through 26.

The following is the full, official tracklisting.

"The Most Incredible Thing"


1. Prologue
2. The Grind
3. The Challenge
4. Help Me
5. Risk
6. Physical Jerks
7. The Competition
8. The Meeting

9. The Clock 1/2/3
10. The Clock 4/5/6
11. The Clock 7/8/9
12. The Clock 10/11/12
13. The Winner
14. Destruction


1. Back To The Grind
2. The Miracle - Ceremony
3. The Miracle - Revolution
4. The Miracle - Resurrection
5. The Miracle - Colour And light
6. The Miracle - The Meeting (Reprise)
7. The Wedding