Monday, December 17, 2012

exile on main street

One of my favorite albums of 2011 is the debut longplayer from Hurts. It's a brace of solid pop songs in the late 20th century style (ie. thoughtful lyrics, muscular production with electronic flourishes). Theo Hutchcraft delivers every track with a range of emotion and a strong, immediately identifiable vocal.

Very much in the tradition of British pop in the vein of Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, et al. Not confined to being a studio concoction, they managed to fit in quite a lot of touring in order to spread the Hurts mission statement.

And now, Hurts are ready to launch version 2.0 with the release of "Exile", their sophomore effort. "The Road", the first taste from the elpee, was just delivered to the interwebs. It's a moody, thundering, widescreen track which, perhaps, hints at a darker sound for the duo.



"Exile" will hit the "shops" in March.

Friday, December 14, 2012

joy to the world

Just in time for the festive season, Tracey Thorn has delivered a video for "Joy", the opening track on her Christmas themed longplayer, "Tinsel And Lights".

Filmed in Lille, a beautiful village in northern France on the border of Belgium, the video sees Tracey wandering around the town's twinkling parade of Christmas lights. Gorgeous!



More than just a Christmas album, "Tinsel And Lights" is a rare gem. It's one of those elpees that transcends the traditional brace of Christmas songs and is an album that can be enjoyed at anytime of the year. By no means and easy feat.

"Tinsel And Lights" will likely end up toward the top end of my favorite albums of the year. Stay tuned!

Monday, November 26, 2012

the French X factor

France is not one of the likeliest places to find big pop records. From time to time, the cafe strewn streets of Europe's art and fashion hub throw up some surprises.

Enter Christophe Willem, to whom I was introduced this year when "Prismophonic", his third studio longplayer, was a hit during my trip to Paris.



It was released a little over a year ago and has had three singles plucked from it - "Cool", "Si Mes Larmes Tombent" and "Starlite", the best of the lot, IMHO, which boasts some fine mixes from Freemasons even though it regurgitates the hook from "Ain't Nobody" for the umpteenth time.







"Prismophonic" also features some of Kylie's co-conspirators. Steve Anderson makes an appearance as does Richard "Biff" Stannard and Richard X. Kylie even lands a writing credit on the song, "Pas Si Loin".

Christophe first gained stardom when he won "Nouvelle Star", a television program in the "Idol" franchise. A few years ago, he went on the French edition of "X Factor" as judge. His profile has remained quite high in his homeland while being relatively unknown in the rest of the world.

He hopes that's about to change as he prepares the launch of "Love Shot Me Down", the English language version of "Prismophonic". The first single is the title track and it has been reswizzled by none other than Richard X. The original French version is called "L'amour Me Gagne".

Christophe Willem - "Love Shot Me Down" (Richard X Remix)

And here is the English language version of "Starlite".

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

the price of the future

Stuart Price, one of the most in demand producers of the last ten years, has reswizzled "Memory Of The Future", the third single to be plucked from Pet Shop Boys current longplayer, "Elysium".

That's three singles in five months. At this rate, they will be on the next album, which is also supposed to be produce by Mr. Price, before the winter frost has melted.

"Memory Of The Future" will hit the "shops" on December 31, presumable to take advantage of the all important window between Christmas and the first two weeks of January when nobody typically releases singles unless they are looking for a higher than normal chart position.

It worked for ver Boys before. Remember "You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk"? They tried the same tactic then and were rewarded with the only top 10 single from their "Nightlife" album and their first one of the 00s.

Let's hope their fortunes turn around with "Memory For The Future". Their last three singles - "Leaving", "Winner" and "Together" - all failed to crack the top 40. Perhaps its the one word titles.

And they are no stranger to Stuart Price. He previously produced arrangements for the duo’s brilliant 2009 BRIT Awards performance and their Pandemonium tour. He also created the “Viva La Vida/Domino Dancing” mashup on their "Christmas" EP. They were bound to work with Stuart again. After all, he's married to their manager, Angela Becker.

While tracklistings have yet to be revealed, “Memory Of The Future” will be available across four configurations - two digital bundles and two CD singles.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

one world

Yes, it has been a hot minute since my last update. Without electricity and heat for nearly two weeks in the wake of Hurricane Sandy caused severe delays for many of us living in the NYC metro area. Thankfully, many of us are back on line with little damage and ready to help those less fortunate.

After a-ha decided to split, it was inevitable that the voice of the Norwegian trio would strike out on his own. He didn't take long to do it. His latest solo longplayer, "Out Of My Hands", was released back in May. Only now has the owner of the world's finest cheekbones decided to lift a second single from the album.

"I'm The One" is the follow up to "Scared Of Heights". Of course, it sounds quite a lot like something a-ha would release. No surprises there.

A video has been lensed for it. It features Morten's passionate performance against the backdrop of the daily life of a transgendered/transsexual man. Throughout, the man gets himself ready to head out to the venue at which Mr. Harket is singing, eventually sitting next to him on stage at the end of the video.

It shows the ordinary side of transgendered life. We all put on our trousers one leg at a time. Or, in this case, our bra straps on arm at a time.



Slowly, the world is realizing we are all the same, it's just the outer shell that mutates with each passing day. Inside, we all share the same hopes, desires, triumphs and challenges.

"I'm The One" will be available from all fine, digital retailers on November 23.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

step into Christmas

Now that all the whining and whinging is over, let's get back to what Steps do best. Time for a cracking pop song.

"Light Up The World" is the first new Steps track since their useless cover of "Dancing Queen" when the reformed last year after a ten year break. Their latest, the title track of their forthcoming, Christmas themed longplayer, is a gorgeous, widescreen pop bauble.

Thankfully, they haven't messed with their formula with some jittery electronic track with a dubstep breakdown. "Light Up The World" keeps them firmly stood in the tradition of classic pop songwriting.

The single will hit the "shops" on October 22 while its parent album will be released on November 22. All of this will be heralded by a brand new Christmas tour of the UK and the launch of a completely unnecessary fragrance called "Guilty Pleasure". I wonder if it smells like Lee's sweaty jockstrap.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

tearing up my heart

Flamboyant songstress, Paloma Faith, has recorded a cover of "Never Tear Us Apart", originally recorded by INXS. Her version of the "Kick" classic will be used as part of the current ad campaign for UK retailer, John Lewis.

It stays rather faithful to the original. Pardon the pun. Well sung. Hard to beat the gritty, emotional performance which Michael Hutchence delivered way back in 1987.

No word on weather the song will be stripped onto her current longplayer, "Fall To Grace"

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

la petite fleur

Today, Kylie Minogue, everyone's favorite Aussie pop rocket delivered"Flower", the first single from her forthcoming longplayer "The Abbey Road Sessions".

A tender, sweeping ballad which was originally scheduled to appear on "X", has been given a new lease on life. Re-recorded for the current Abbey Road project, "Flower" sees Kylie eschewing her penchant for uptempo bottom wigglers in favor of a mature and sophisticated sound complete with gorgeous orchestral arrangements.

The video also sees a more demure Ms. Minogue floating through the black and white vignettes like a forest pixie spreading peace, joy and love throughout her soft focus countryside. Gauze and linen alert!

One wonders what other K25 celebratory goodies she has in store for the Minogue minions.

from the hip

One of Glasgow's finest, Deacon Blue, are back with "The Hipsters", their seventh longplayer since their auspicious debut 25 years ago.

First single, the the title track, is a panoramic, string driven number which beautifully details the interplay between Ricky Ross' urgent rasp and Lorraine McIntosh's gorgeous bell tones.



Lovely! Definitely up there with some of their finest singles which harkens back to the magnificence of some "Raintown" era epics.

"The Hipsters" is out now from all fine "shops".

Saturday, September 22, 2012

bright light in Brooklyn

Bright Light Bright Light recently dropped the vid for his forthcoming single, "Feel It", which is from his spectacular debut album, "Make Me Believe In Hope".

It features a cameo from Scissor Sisters member, Del Marquis. Watch as they throw some shapes on the streets of Brooklyn. Perhaps it's a little tribute to "West End Girls". You decide.



It's got that 90s vibe. Visually, some of the graphic sections remind me of videos from Black Box. And we finally get to see Mykal Kilgore, the person responsible for the diva pipes on the track. His voice give me goosebumps and finger tingles!

"Feel It" will hit the "shops" on October 29. As mentioned, BLBL commissioned a remix from yours truly and it will feature as part of the single configurations.

Friday, September 21, 2012

parklife

"Elysium", loosely named for Elysian Park, a green oasis in Los Angeles which offers an escape from the urban sprawl of the city, is the eleventh longplayer for Neil and Chris, collectively known as Pet Shop Boys for nearly 30 years.

The album is a turn away from the glitter synth stomp of previous album, "Yes". Therefore, with "Elysium", we find Neil and Chris in lush and low-key mode in a similar vein to "Behaviour" and "Release" after an extended period of laser sharp pop.

Like many artists and bands that have managed to maneuver through the pop landscape over a three decade career, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe find themselves in a significantly changed world. The music biz has been augmented by the dizzying world of social media, digital marketing, product portfolios and access-all-areas celebrity. How does a band famed for razor sharp wit, a slightly ironic bent and heartbreaking pathos carry on the manic, instant fix world of 2012?

Thankfully, ver Boys continue to move forward without much attention paid to their detractors. This has always allowed them to follow their musical instincts. They don't care if they're cool which, ironically, makes them very cool.

But this music biz malarkey can be a slippery slope. An artist's first elpee is usually the benchmark because it is the first. It's also, arguably, the most personal since they didn't have a fanbase until well after it had been released to an unsuspecting public.

Then the paradigm shift begins. Once success sets in, demands are placed on an artist or group. The label wants a surefire, successful follow up. The fans want more of the same. Something familiar to grab on to. And to expect a group like ver Boys to make the same album after 30 years is absurd. Following an artist on their journey is always fraught with unexpected, and sometime unwarranted, twists and turns. Ultimately, the creative soul needs to be fed and left to wander in its natural direction.

Some fans have been less than enthusiastic about a more mellow PSB longplayer. However, they should be reminded that an artist follows their creative vision. With rare exception, they should never listen to fans. If they did that, an artist would make the same album over and over again. Their audience would tire of them rather quickly. Instead, a group like PSB bend, twist and shape as they evolve. This is what makes longstanding artist thrive and their audience grow with them.

Of course, as time goes on and the journey continues, a group like PSB will always appeal to their core fanbase gaining less and less new followers along the way. Much like their alumni - Depeche Mode, The Cure and New Order - they thrive on their dedicated followers.

Enough about their demographics. Let's dig into the songs on "Elysium".

"Leaving", the opener, is one of the album's highlights. This is a perfect example in which "Elysium" is neither "Behaviour" nor "Release". Although, languid and serene, it isn't heavily electronic like the Harold Faltermeyer produced "Behaviour" and certainly doesn't flirt with the acoustic leaning arrangements of "Release". Therefore, "Elysium" stands on its own merits without ever being a pastiche or rehashing of their past work.



Sparse synths and low-key beats continue with "Invisible". The minimal arrangement, a cornerstone of "Elysium", allows Neil's vocal to stand out in front of the production. That gives the songs, many of which hint at mortality and the passing of time, a sense of fragility. Also, the lack of overt instrumental flourishes allow the listener to focus more on Neil's lyrics and their delivery. It enhances the grand beauty which envelops most of the album.



Then on to "Winner", the first official single from "Elysium". It's a bit chirpy following on from the somewhat sombre and eerie tone of "Invisible". As suspected, the song sounds better in context of the entire album.

Still, it's not one of my favorite singles ver Boys have issued, but I love the fact that they were inspired to write it as a tribute to the Eurovision Song Contest. With that knowledge, the song actually has grown on me a bit. With "Winner", the musical and lyrical references give the song a bit more weight and the sense of wry humor is more present given the topic.



"Your Early Stuff" is typically self-referential and self-mocking, which PSB do quite quite well. Mining a similar lyrical vein to "Yesterday, When I Was Mad" from "Very", this tango-esque number is based around outside observations and conversations which plague many artists of a certain age when their chart fortunes have somewhat faded after the white heat of their regal period.

The mood breaks on "Face Like That", a dark yet somewhat sparkly uptempo number which, with its chugging bass line and revved up siren synth line, sounds like it could have been easily at home on "Please" or "Actually". It's the one way back, retro PSB moment. The clanging cowbell, happy clappy rhythm and synth break at the beginning sound like a close relative to "Heart". To these ears, it sounds like it should be the third single from "Elysium".



Then the energy level is brought way back down to the pace of the rest of the album with "Breathing Space", a beautiful ballad. Very simple and straightforward.

Another slightly jarring moment follows when "Ego Music", an adroitly, outwardly observant track which lambastes today's vacuous celebrity culture. Quirky and jittery, it shows Neil's ability to for penning clever lyrics delivered with healthy dose of searing humor. Together, with "Your Early Stuff", PSB have throw down the gauntlet on a full scale indictment of the music biz. The next big things may come and go, but even through the stormiest of seas the most clever and creative remain.

The complete opposite can be said of "Hold On", one of the worst songs in the PSB cannon. It baffles the mind as to why this was not tossed onto a b-side. It's dull, insipid and overwrought with substandard West End vocal arrangements. It's a great big thud in the middle of an otherwise beautiful album.

"Give It A Go" is a groovy invitation to a potential suitor with a bit of a sixties swing to it. It has a sexy undertone with a slight lyrical tension which is all the more intriguing when you realize it's being sung by a 58 year old man. It gives the lyric a beautiful innocence and intelligence which could not be preformed by an artist in their youth. Very poignant for some of us in the over 40 crowd.

And that's where PSB have achieved something many heritage artists haven't. They have grown older with grace. There is a relationship with their core audience. Sometimes, an artist will try too hard to remain relevant to a younger audience. The key is to remain relevant to your ardent fanbase. You do this by simply growing with them. U2 and Madonna might want to rip a page out of the PSB playbook.

As we saunter into the sunset of the album's tracklisting, we get "Memory Of The Future", one of the more electronic tracks on "Elysium". It's another song about longing and the passage of time. Clearly, this is ver Boys in reflective mood. Experience in song, perhaps?

"Everything Means Something" is one of the more menacing tracks on the elpee which seems to be one where the protagonist and antagonist have a passive aggressive conversation within the context of the lyrics. The clever production changes and time signature shifts further accentuate the two sides of the conversation.

At the close of the album is the closest we get to a bang up to date version of "Being Boring". An elegy for a someone who has passed on. A gorgeous tribute to a fallen friend. Thoughtful and celebratory. Intelligent and sincere. No detail spared including the sound of their friend's motorcycle trailing off at the end.

And that's what makes "Elysium" a joyful listen. It's human. Among all of their work, under the sound of machines, Pet Shop Boys remain human at their core. This is the main reason they have retained such a strong fanbase. The music touches the lives of the listener which has always been and must remain one of the main tenets of popular music.

"Elysium" is a reflection of PSB's microcosm which, at its core, is what moves so many of us in our daily live. The album is an amalgamation of the thoughts, fears, triumphs, challenges and questions that swirl around our universe and thread us all together.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Can you feel it?

Everyone's  favorite Welsh pop troubadour, Rod Thomas (aka Bright Light Bright Light), will return with "Feel It", the fourth single from his devastatingly beautiful debut longplayer, "Make Me Believe In Hope". It is one of the finest pop albums of the year. If you haven't purchased it, your life is truly devoid of color and joy. So, what are you waiting for?

"Feel It" is a euphoric gem which is direct influenced by the finest dance music of the 90s. Shades of C+C Music Factory, Technotronic and Black Box abound. It's an anthemic and effervescent track which features Rod Thomas' urgent vocal riding on top of a chunky Italo house piano line. As the song barrels through its middle eight, an explosion of diva fierceness, delivered courtesy of Mykal Kilgore, bursts into the track and speeds through to an emphatic ending. Absolutely brilliant!

The tracklisting for the single, which hits the "shops" on October 29, will contain a new single edit of the track, as well as Bright Light Bright Light's old school 12" version of "Feel It". That should tickle the fancy of those of us that long for the days when we cherished the simplicity and effectiveness of an extended mix.

Additionally, the single for "Feel It" will include "Good Times", a non-album b-side. The tracklisting is fleshed out with a stadium sized remix of the lead track reswizzled by yours truly along with my sometime dancefloor associate, Steve Migliore. Together, we reworked previous BLBL single, "Waiting For The Feeling", which was very well received around the globe.

A video for "Feel It" has been lensed and should be available on the interwebs prior to the release of the single.

Monday, September 10, 2012

his sugar is raw

Robbie Williams returns with "Candy", the first single from his forthcoming ninth longplayer, "Touch The Crown".

The jaunty little number was written by Robbie and his Take That compadre, Gary Barlow. A slapstick vid was lensed for the quirky little single over two days at Spitalfields Market in London. Check out the colorful clip below.



Robbie has certainly returned with something upbeat and unexpected. Nothing brooding. Not a splash of synthy, filtered dance in the entire track. No forced hip hop leanings. Pure, unadulterated pop that only Robbie can deliver. In fact, Mr. Williams sounds rejuvenated after several years of navel gazing. May his pop flag continue to wave!

"Candy" will hit the "shops" on October 29.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

sax and violins for Kylie

As if by magic, only a day after the interwebs were swarming with excitement about it, Kylie Minogue revealed details of "The Abbey Road Sessions". It's a brand new album featuring sixteen reworked Kylie classics in an orchestral stylee. Whoop!

Actually, my initial thoughts on the subject of Kylie recording orchestral renditions of her biggest hits was less than enthusiastic. Seriously? Nobody really needs this. But upon hearing a few of the online teasers, I change my opinion and decided the lush treatments really suit la petite Minogue at this point in her career.

So, with lavish praise, I'm pleased to present the official tracklisting for "The Abbey Road Session", which, by the way, were recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios. Natch!

1. All The Lovers
2. On A Night Like This
3. Better The Devil You Know
4. Hand On Your Heart
5. I Believe In You
6. Come Into My World
7. Finer Feelings
8. Confide In Me
9. Slow
10. The Locomotion
11. Can't Get You Out Of My Head
12. Where The Wild Roses Grow
13. Flower
14. I Should Be So Lucky
15. Love At First Sight
16. Never Too Late

Nice, career spanning collection. Apparently, Nick Cave rerecorded his vocal on their famous duet, "Where The Wild Roses Grow", especially for this special collection. Sadly, it doesn't include my favorite Kylie tune, "Put Yourself In My Place". Oh, well. A boy can dream.

"The Abbey Road Sessions" will hit the "shops" on October 29. As previously mentioned, it will be preceded by "Flower" as a single.

Monday, September 3, 2012

new shoes




After an eight year hiatus, husky voiced songstress Tanita Tikaram returns from the wilderness with "Dust On My Shoes", the lead single from her eighth longplayer "Can't Go Back".



"Can't Go Back" will include ten brand new songs inspired by Tanita's new found love of Americana. The special edition of the album will feature a bonus disc featuring eight acoustic performances of songs from throughout Tanita's twenty-five year career.



The official tracklisting for the standard edition of the album features Tanita's sensuous vocals wrapped around the following ten tunes.

1. All Things To You
2. Dust On My Shoes
3. Make The Day
4. Rock & Roll
5. Science
6. Keep It Real
7. Can't Go Back
8. Heavy Pressure
9. One Kiss
10. If The World Should Want For Love

For a quick reminder of Tanita's powerful songwriting finesse, look no further than "Twist In My Sobriety", the second single from her debut, "Ancient Heart". The single peaked at #22 on the UK chart in 1988. It also features the second best use of an oboe in a chart hit behind "Life In A Northern Town" by The Dream Academy.

Aussie flower at Abbey Road

Looks like everyone's favorite Aussie pop rocket, Kylie Minogue, is continuing her K25 celebration. A new single, "Flower", is slated to hit the "shops" on September 25. Apparently, it will be issued as the lead single from the Abbey Road sessions project, which is tentatively scheduled to be released in November.

"Flower" was a track recorded during the sessions for "X", but never made the album. Kylie performed it as part of her 2008 tour and the song quickly became a fan favorite.



"Flower" is one of the tracks from "X" that never managed to leak in its studio incarnation. For the new longplayer, it will be completely reworked with an orchestra along with a number of other career spanning, Kylie favorites.

A few tasters have appeared on the interwebs since the beginning of the year. "Finer Feelings", originally from Kylie's last album for PWL, is among the highlights.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

crown heights affair



After a triumphant return to Take That, Robbie Williams will return with "Take The Crown", his ninth solo longplayer on November 5.

It was recorded in Los Angeles with producer Jacknife Lee who has previously worked with rock luminaries U2 and REM.

The first single from the elpee will be "Candy", co-written by Take That cohort Gary Barlow. It will hit the "shops" on October 29.

"Take The Crown" will be issued in two flavors - standard and deluxe. The official tracklisting for the standard version features the following eleven songs.

1. Be A Boy
2. Gospel
3. Candy
4. Different
5. Shit On The Radio
6. All That I Want
7. Hunting For You
8. Into The Silence
9. Hey Wow
 Yeah Yeah
10. Not Like The Others
11. Losers

The deluxified edition will feature two bonus tracks, "Reverse" and "Eight Letters", as well as three video vignettes which document the making of the album and the video for the first single.



Apparently, the goal for "Take The Crown", his first album with Universal after his long affiliation with EMI, was to fill it full of potential singles. Let's hope that is the case since it has been quite some time since RW has come up with a longplayer bristling with pop perfection.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

leaving it up to you

Pet Shop Boys have just announced that "Leaving" will be the second single to be plucked from their forthcoming, eleventh longplayer "Elysium".

The single will be released on October 15 in the usual formats including a CD, 12" vinyl and two download bundles. Extra tracks and remixes will round out each configuration.



The cover art for the single will feature two different sleeves - one featuring Neil Tennant, the other Chris Lowe. This is a design device that has been used often on PSB single sleeves in the past. It was most memorably used for the cover art for "Heart".



"Leaving" is a lush and languid number which fits nicely against other PSB singles of similar style including "Being Boring", arguably one of their best. According to Neil and Chris, "Leaving" was written in 2010 in the midst of their "Pandemonium" tour. It's a lovely song and one of several highlights on ver Boys' new elpee.

Following on from previous single "Winner", which left me cold, it feels like Neil and Chris have revisited some of the finer moments of their "Behaviour" and "Release" periods. "Leaving" even feels like it has shades of "Before", the lead single from "Bilingual". From the sound of things, "Elysium" feels like it might be and album of beautifully subdued grandeur.



"Elysium" will hit the "shops" on September 10.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

born to run

Enigmatic songstress and national treasure Kate Bush has had her busiest year in recent memory. After six years between "Aerial" and "Director's Cut", her collection of select reworkings from across her towering catalog, Lady Kate delivered "50 Words For Snow", her second longplayer in a year.

Now, she continues to revisit past tracks with a reswizzling of "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)", arguably one of her most beloved singles in her repertoire. Apparently, it is part of a one-two marketing punch.

Firstly, rumor has it Kate will make a rare appearance at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London this Sunday. Sources close to Kate suggest she will perform her iconic track in front of a newly filmed video featuring Jude Law as the backdrop.

Secondly, a little bird has revealed to me that Kate will be updating her one and only singles collection, "The Whole Story", this fall.

"The Whole Story Revisited" will expand the original tracklisting to feature all of her singles up through this year topped off with the new mix of "RUTH". The song selection for the retrospective has not been revealed yet.

Online retailers briefly featured a snippet of the track on their sites earlier in the week. To these ears, it didn't sound much different from the original which appeared on her groundbreaking longplayer, "Hounds Of Love", from 1985.

The original version of "RUTH" peaked at #3 on the UK singles chart while it also marked Kate's only appearance in the Top 40 of the US singles chart where it reached #30. The new mix will hit the "shops" on August 12, the date of the closing ceremony.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

the animals are our friends

Sneaky Sound System, aka Miss Connie and Black Angus, return with "Friends", the fourth, fabulous single from their third longplayer, "From Here To Anywhere".

Another slice of retro 80s flavored neon moodiness, "Friends", comes replete with a suitably desolate video which reflects the song's somber, melancholy feeling. Somehow, throughout, it manages to remain engaging and slightly uplifting as various wild creatures wander through Tokyo.

Friday, August 3, 2012

snow in sun

Tracey Thorn, known by many as one half of Everything But The Girl, is about to return to the fold with "Tinsel And Lights", a festive themed longplayer which has been a year in the making. It's also her first elpee since releasing her third solo album, "Love And Its Opposite", in 2010.

"Tinsel And Lights"features covers of songs written by The White Stripes, Sufjan Stevens, Randy Newman, Stephin Merritt, Dolly Parton, Joni Mitchell, Ron Sexsmith, and others. Technically, every song is not associated with Christmas in the strictest sense of the term. But Tracey decided that if winter, snow or even cold was mentioned in the song, that was good enough for her. She's blazing a trail through Christmas tradition!

Two songs on the album, "Joy" and the title track, are Thorn originals. She's even made room for "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas". After all, there needs to be at least one chestnut at Christmas dinner!

Tracey dug deep for inspiration including a track written by Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields which was only ever recorded by twisted cabaret act Kiki & Herb. Also, "Snow", written by Randy Newman, makes an appearance. It was originally recorded by French chanteuse Claudine Longet in 1967, but has been interpreted by a long list of artists including Harpers Bizarre, Harry Nilsson and Saint Etienne.

Here's a little audio-visual montage of "Snow". First up is Harpers Bizarre from their 1967 elpee, "Anything Goes" followed by Claudine's gorgeous recording, Harry Nilsson's fragile rendition, and rounded out by personal faves Saint Etienne with their faithful take on the chilly choon.









Warning! A bit of discographical geekery ahead for those that need to know.

Claudine's version of "Snow" originally appeared as the b-side to her single, "I Don't Intend To Spend Christmas Without You". Harry Nilsson recorded his take on it in 1969 for the album "Nilsson Sings Newman", but was left off when the longplayer was released in February 1970. The song made its first official appearance when the album was reissued on CD in 2000. Saint Etienne released their recording on "Xmas 2003", one of their many fan club CDs. It made its first commercial appearance on the St. Et Christmas album, "A Glimpse Of Stocking", in 2010. Got it? There will be a short quiz later on.

I'm pleased to see Green Gartside of Scritti Politti not once, but twice, on the album, in different capacities. Tracey covers "Snow In Sun", a lush and languid number that originally appeared on Scritti's last studio longplayer, "White Bread Black Beer". The second appearance by double G is of the vocal variety. He lends his dulcet tones to "Taking Down The Tree", a cover of a song originally recorded by Minnesota slowcore, navel gazers Low, who originally recorded the tune on their Christmas EP which was only released to fans in 1999. If you fancy a listen to their version, here it is.



I think you can definitely hear how Green's voice and harmony structure might sound on Tracey's version, especially toward the end of the song. It will be interesting to compare the two. And while we're at it, here's Scritti's original recording of "Snow In Sun".



Also, the album features Tracey's previously released cover of "Sister Winter", originally recorded by Sufjan Stevens. Contributions from Lady Thorn's EBTG bandmate Ben Watt can be heard throughout the recordings, as well.

The official tracklisting for "Tinsel And Lights" includes the following twelve tunes.

1. Joy
2. Hard Candy Christmas (originally recorded by Dolly Parton)
3. Like A Snowman (originally recorded by Kiki & Herb)
4. Maybe This Christmas (originally recorded by Ron Sexsmith)
5. In The Cold, Cold Night (originally recorded by The White Stripes)
6. Snow (originally recorded by Harpers Bizarre)
7. Snow In Sun (originally recorded by Scritti Politti)
8. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
9. Tinsel And Lights
10. River (originally recorded by Joni Mitchell)
11. Taking Down The Tree (originally recorded by Low)
12. Sister Winter (originally recorded by Sufjan Stevens)

The US configuration of the elpee will include "25th December" as a bonus track. It is Tracey's version of a song which was originally recorded by EBTG with Ben on vocal duties and appeared on their 1994 album, "Amplified Heart".

"Tinsel And Lights" will hit the "shops" on October 30.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Elysium eleven

The cover art and release dates for "Eylsium", the eleventh studio longplayer from Pet Shop Boys, has been revealed. Huzzah!

It will likely be their last album to feature the Parlophone logo as Universal has made the decision not to use the long standing, iconic British label their acquisition of EMI has been completed.

Above, you will see the sleeve for the standard version of "Elysium". At the bottom of this post is the artwork for the limited edition, two CD edition. The second CD will be a continuous mix of the instrumentals of each track on the album. A double vinyl configuration will be issued, as well. That analog flavor will also include the instrumentals. However, no word yet on whether the tracks will be separated or mixed.

The artwork, as always, has been designed by ver Boys' long-standing visual partner, Farrow. As always, simplicity allows the artwork to stand out among the Photoshopped wasteland. They look a bit like a pair of Ibiza chill out compilations. N'est-ce pas?

The release dates for "Elysium" are a bit scattered. It will be released in Japan on September 5. Germany and most of Europe will be able to purchase it on September 7. It will hit the "shops" in the UK, France and across South America on September 10. September 11, where the album will appear on Astralwerks, is scheduled for release on September 11. Mark your calendars!

If you're part of the digital download persuasion, then the iTunes edition of "Elysium" my be your cup of tea. As a bonus, it will feature the videos for "Winner" and "Invisible" as well as track-by-track commentary of Neil and Chris discussing the music with David Walliams.

The official tracklisting of "Elysium" features the following twelve songs.

1. Leaving
2. Invisible
3. Winner
4. Your Early Stuff
5. A Face Like That
6. Breathing Space
7. Ego Music
8. Hold On
9. Give It A Go
10. Memory Of The Future
11. Everything Means Something
12. Requiem In Denim And Leopardskin

Thursday, July 26, 2012

girls and boys

It has been complete madness here at So Hip It Hurts HQ! Long days in the studio, DJ gigs in far flung places and quite a bit of travel. While we have a moment, let's chat about the video for "Winner" by Pet Shop Boys which hit the interwebs a few days ago.

The song has been given a cold shoulder even from many hardcore fans. Clearly, the tie in with the Olympics was a given. Sadly, it remains one of their weakest singles and is not nearly in a league with their best. It's pleasant enough. And I'm sure it will sit along with the other tracks on their forthcoming album, "Elysium", quite nicely. But it certainly doesn't sound like a lead single from a brand new PSB longplayer. Not to my ears.

The video, however, is another bag of donuts altogether. Tackling the issue of the transgender community is a bold move and done with ver Boys' usual penchant for clever twists and intelligent subtlety told through the story of Dirty Diana, a member of the London Rollergirls. The subtext of struggle is palpable and the beautiful tale of friendship is moving. Absolutely brilliant!

Let's have a peek.



Furthermore, if I'm not mistaken, this is the first video from Chris and Neil in which neither of them are featured. Their appearance in it might have lessened the impact of the video's important message.

The promotional clip is very timely and, hopefully, will empower a segment of the population who have felt invisible for far too long.

Monday, July 23, 2012

games without frontiers

"Video Games" by Lana Del Rey is one of those songs that never impressed me much. A lot of it has to do with her disingenuous nature and lack of substance. She has the personality of a styrofoam cup and her singing voice is less than engaging. All careful management and void of genuine style.

However, there have been several cover versions of "Video Games" that made me sit up and take notice of the song itself rather than the posturing around it. Now, Boy George lends his significant pipes to the track and delivers it with such grace and soul you'd think it was written from his pen.



This video just appeared on YouTube out of nowhere. No explanation. No hoopla. No warning. No indication that it's part of a particular project. Am I out of the loop?

Whatever the case, it appears there will be more if you read the fine print. Not sure what the connection is between the song and the clip. It's simply described as "a story of young love in bleak Britain".

I don't think the boy has sounded this rich and substantive in years! His lower register has taken on a less graveled tone. His voice has been imbued with a soulful honesty. This is the Boy George I grew to love and admire. Now let's sort out that Culture Club reunion!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

alive and kicking

George Michael returns with "White Light", his first single since his brush with death earlier in the year when he was struck down with a serious case of pneumonia in the middle of his "Symphonica" tour.

"White Light" sees George reflecting on the event with a somber musical backdrop set to a throbbing dance beat. The dark production is beautifully positioned against his uplifting, lyrical prose.

A lyric video, the latest promotional tool of choice to start the campaign behind a single, has hit the interwebs. Let's follow the bouncing ball.



From the sound of it, I would bet cash money the song was written as a ballad. But someone in George's camp must have said something, especially after the cool reception he received for his previous single, the over autotuned cover of New Order's "True Faith". And George needed another ballad like he needed anotherloverholenyohead. With that in mind, he headed back to the dancefloor. That's exactly where his fans want him to be right now.

George released his latest single to mark a very important career milestone. He issued it on the thirtieth anniversary of the day Wham! charted with "Wham! Rap", their debut single. Where has all that time gone?

"White Light" is available through all fine digital outlets. A CD single will be made available shortly which will include George's cover of "Song To The Siren", which I believe is the Tim Buckley song, as opposed to the one by Bryan Ferry.

Monday, July 2, 2012

it's alright

"Winner", the new single from Pet Shop Boys has been unveiled. I have listened to it nearly forty times and I have concluded that it is... rather weak. It took quite a while to come up with the appropriate sentiment. Nearly thirty years into their career, PSB have managed to underwhelm. Not that "Winner" is a loser. It simply feels tepid. And it certainly doesn't feel like the lead single heralding a brand new elpee. These are difficult words to type because Chris and Neil have consistently delivered top shelf tunes with sparkling production. But "Winner" falls a bit short, almost as if it isn't quite finished. It's just OK. And we've all grown accustomed to expecting much more than that from ver Boys. Even their return is rather muted and understated this time around as opposed to the triumphant fanfares of the past. Facts must be faced. After a lengthy career such as theirs, it's challenging to come up with the goods every single time. Perhaps another twenty listens will bring me around to a more favorable review. But to my ears "Winner" sure doesn't stack up against their towering pantheon of work. Here's hoping "Elysium", its parent longplayer delivers something grander and shinier within it's zeros and ones.

Monday, June 25, 2012

the winner takes it all

"Winner" is the first official single lifted from "Elysium", the forthcoming, eleventh longplayer from Pet Shop Boys. The single will have its world premiere next Monday morning, July 2, on BBC Radio 2 in the UK between 9.30am and 12.00pm.

Later that day, the track will become available for purchase from iTunes. On August 6th, the single will be released on CD which will feature three bonus tracks.

Additionally, it will be available as two digital bundles, both of which will include bonus tracks and remixes. All of it nicely timed to coordinate with this year's Olympic games. Smart lads!

Like the rest of the elpee, "Winner" was produced in Los Angeles by Andrew Dawson and Pet Shop Boys. Fire up the old victrola, guys and gals!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

peeling back the years

It's nearly impossible to believe that Bananarama are about to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their debut single, "Aie A Mwana".

It was three decades ago, three, disheveled street urchins walked into the studio with two members of the Sex Pistols and started a journey of international chart success. But, in these days of digital downloads and file sharing, who needs another bloody compilation?

Well, ver Rams have put something together that have their fans drooling. "30 Years Of Bananarama" is a two disc collection with a bit of a twist. 

Firstly, can we just mention how yawnsome the title of the collection is. It leaves us a bit cold? But I suppose it does what it says on the tin.

That aside, the collection features one disc of singles. Not such a mind blowing concept. All the usual suspects make their appearances. However, the second disc, a DVD, is where the magic lives. This is not any ordinary DVD. It features EVERY music video Sarah and Keren have committed to celluloid. Huzzah!

For once, a label and a group get it right. I'm delighted that the videos for two of my favorite 'Nana hits will finally appear on DVD. I'm sure you're dying to know what they are. Here's the reveal...



Bananarama get a bit political with "Rough Justice".



The ladies go baggy and reference The Rolling Stones on "Only Your Love", the lead single from "Pop Life", the only album that featured Jacquie O'Sullivan and the last one with ver Rams as a trio. I still run around and smash things when I this one surfaces on my iPod.

Interestingly, neither "Rough Justice" nor "Only Your Love" made big splashes on the charts. The tracklisting for "30 Years Of Bananarama" DVD features the following music videos.

1. Really Saying Something
2. Shy Boy
3. Cheers Then
4. Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye
5. Cruel Summer
6. Robert De Niro's Waiting
7. Rough Justice
8. Hotline To Heaven
9. The Wild Life
10. Do Not Disturb
11. Venus
12. More Than Physical
13. A Trick Of The Night
14. I Heard A Rumour
15. Love In The First Degree
16. I Can't Help It
17. I Want You Back
18. Love Truth & Honesty
19. Nathan Jones
20. Help
21. Only Your Love
22. Preacher Man
23. Long Train Running
24. Tripping On Your Love
25. Movin' On
26. Last Thing On My Mind
27. More More More
28. Every Shade Of Blue
29. Take Me To Your Heart
30. Move In My Direction
31. Look On The Floor
32. Love Comes
33. Love Don't Live Here
34. Venus (12" Version)
35. I Can't Help It (12" Version)

That's a whopping THIRTY FIVE videos. Kudos to Sarah and Keren for getting it right. Now, let's hope they've used the highest quality sources when compiling this.

"30 Years Of Bananarama" will hit the "shops" on July 9.

Monday, June 11, 2012

invisible touch

Pet Shop Boys are ready to return to the pop landscape this September with "Elysium", their eleventh longplayer and the follow up to "Yes". The elpee was produced in Los Angeles by Andrew Dawson and ver Boys. The first track to be previewed from the album is “Invisible”.

An arty video has been produced to accompany the gorgeous, languid, sparsely produced, electronic number. It was made by renowned Los Angeles artist and filmmaker, Brian Bress. Let's have a look.

 

Incroyable! It reminds me of a visual mash up between David Band, the artist who designed album covers for Spandau Ballet and Altered Images, and Philippe Decouflé, who directed the videos for "True Faith" by New Order and "She Drives Me Crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals.

Sonically, the song feels a bit like Messrs. Tennant and Lowe have revisited the days of their much vaulted "Behaviour" album. Not a bad thing. Some of the chord changes sound a bit like the inspiration was plucked from "Being Boring", one of that elpee's many highlights.

PSB are planning another trek around the globe next year in support of the forthcoming album.

Friday, June 8, 2012

the sound of music

The mighty Saint Etienne are about to unleash, "I Got Your Music", the second single from their brand new longplayer, the unwieldy titled "Words And Music By Saint Etienne".

It's another jaunty, synthy number which shimmers with all the dancefloor euphoria they whipped up for their previous platter, "Tonight".

The 12" single and digital download configurations feature one remix each from Golden Filter and Leo Zero, as well as "Dominion Tiles", a previously unreleased track.

The 7" single is backed with a demo of "Lullaby" which was recorded during the sessions for their current elpee.

Unfortunately, an old school extended version is not on the cards. Such a shame since the extended excursion of "Tonight" was such a gorgeous treat.

 "I Got Your Music" will hit the "shops" on June 25. A full review of their beautiful, new longplayer will follow shortly.

Monday, May 28, 2012

going for the gold

It has been a few insanely crazy weeks at So Hip It Hurts HQ. Now that some of the dust has settled, let's get back to the business of music!

New York’s very own house music impresario, David Morales, has teamed up with Róisín Murphy on a new single titled “Golden Era”.

It has been quite some time since David graced the dancefloors with an original track. Thankfully, he has chosen one of our favorite artists as his collaborator on his new tune which bares a passing resemblance to the sound of Róisín's previous musical outfit, Moloko. Not a bad thing in our books!

“Golden Era” is the first single to be taken from David Morales' forthcoming longplayer, "Changes", is scheduled to hit the "shops" on June 19. Personally, I can't wait to spin this slinky, sexy number for a roomful of nocturnal inhabitants.



Meow! Do I detect the presence of cat claws? Is the appearance of "The Future" in the video a dig at Calvin Harris? Things that make you go "Hmmm...". And where is that long rumored follow up to "Overpowered", Lady Murphy? Get cracking! Your adoring public awaits.

don't drop bombs

Kylie Minogue, everyone's favorite Aussie pop rocket, blasts back into outerspace with her brand new single, "Timebomb". Please note the compound word structure.

 After only being on sale for a few days, "Timebomb" crashes into the UK singles chart a number 31. Impressive!

Not sure about the slightly low budget nature of the accompanying video clip which was shot recently on the streets of Soho in glorious, glamorous London.



The release of the new single is part of a year of special events to celebrate Kylie's 25th year in the music business which has become affectionately known as K25. In the last twelve months Kylie has performed a stripped down tour of b-sides and rarities, presented a beautiful set of orchestrally arranged hits at Abbey Road Studios and delivered a gorgeously produced DVD of her blockbuster "Aphrodite" show.

Next up is the release of "The Best Of Kylie Minogue", an 18 track retrospective which will hit the "shops" in the UK on June 24. However, "Timebomb" will not feature on this single disc retrospective. She is a sly little kitten. Perhaps there are more surprises in store from Ms. Minogue?



Well, for one thing, the diminutive pop atarlet has just finished a in the French art film, "Holy Motors", which was directed by Leos Carax. It stars Denis Lavant as a man who travels between multiple parallel lives. The film competed for the Palme d'Or at this year's 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Apparently, Kylie turns in a very moving and tearful performance.

Check out the trailer below which includes a brief snippet of "Who Were We?", a new song Kylie recorded for the film. The song was written by none other than Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy. I am now obsessed with getting my Google dirty hands on the soundtrack which hasn't been given a release date yet.

a mark of vintage brilliance

Today, marks the release of "Brilliant", the first, new Ultravox album by the classic Midge Ure line up in 26 years.

The first single is the title track and it has all the hallmarks of the expansive, cinematic choruses of their biggest hits without sounding like a pastiche.



There are just enough contemporary elements to make it sound current. But it's the chiming piano figure that gives it a similar, elegiac quality of singles like "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes" and Midge Ure's biggest solo hit, "If I Was". My only criticism is that Midge's vocal in the verses sounds a bit disconnected and scratchy as compared to the grand beauty of his delivery in the chorus.

By the sound of the 30 second snippets on their website, it sounds like chunky, galloping basslines and giant swaths of synths are the order of the day. And it makes me realize The Killers have listened to more than their fair share of Ultravox albums in their time.

The tracklisting for "Brilliant" contains the following twelve tracks.

1. Live
2. Flow
3. Brilliant
4. Change
5. Rise
6. Remembering
7. Hello
8. One
9. Fall
10. Lie
11. Satellite
12. Contact

I wonder if there is any significance regarding the use of all single word titles. Suggestions of a cocktail napkin, please.

Ultravox are gearing up for their first tour since they reunited for a few dates back in 2009. Laptops at the ready, gents! Looking forward to seeing them back on the road to support their new longplayer.

Friday, May 11, 2012

reach out and touch faith

Lovely lass, Paloma Faith, returns with "Picking Up The Pieces", the first single from her forthcoming sophomore effort, "Fall To Grace".

Thankfully, it's not a cover of the Average White Band hit. Instead, it's another grand and gorgeous affair accompanied by an equally stylish video.



Paloma gives it some church! Clearly, the label believes in Lady Faith since they splashed some serious cash on the vid.

Great to see Paloma move her image slightly forward as she was in danger of becoming a caricature of herself toward the end of the promotion for her debut elpee, "Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful?" Rather than falling into art deco retro, she's taken some of the elegance from the era, added a dash of 60s swinging London to it and topped it off with some contemporary styling. And I'm sure it's not lost on her fans that the melting wax figure at the end of the video for "Picking Up The Pieces" might be her way of putting her old school Hollywood glamor look behind her.

All in all, it's a strong step forward. With the legendary Nelle Hooper in the producer's chair, "Fall To Grace", which hits the "shops" on May 28, stands to be on of this year's mighty pop releases.

Friday, May 4, 2012

the K25 celebration continues

Everyone's favorite Aussie pop rocket, Kylie Minogue, continues her K25 celebration by releasing another hits collection.

"The Best Of Kylie Minogue", a single CD retrospective, will hit the "shops" on June 4 and contains 18 top five UK singles including five number ones. The chart toppers include "Can’t Get You Out Of My Head", "Slow", "Spinning Around", "Tears On My Pillow" and "I Should Be So Lucky".

A deluxe edition of the collection will feature a DVD which will include all the corresponding videos.

Arguments and hair pulling will surely be had when you realize songs like "Shocked", "Hand On Your Heart" and "What Do I Have To Do" have been left off in favor of tracks like "Get Outta My Way", "Red Blooded Woman" and "Wow".

Here’s the full tracklisting for "The Best Of Kylie Minogue".

1. Can’t Get You Out Of My Head
2. Spinning Around
3. I Should Be So Lucky
4. Love At First Sight
5. In Your Eyes
6. Kids
7. Better The Devil You Know
8. All The Lovers
9. Give Me Just A Little More Time
10. Celebration
11. Slow
12. Red Blooded Woman
13. I Believe In You
14. On A Night Like This
15. Confide In Me
16. Get Outta My Way
17. The Loco-Motion
18. Tears On My Pillow
19. Wow
20. In My Arms
21. Never Too Late

And seriously. "Celebration"? Oy.

The timing is a little questionable. Shouldn't this have been released around the time of Lady Minogue's Anti Tour? However, Kylie is scheduled to headline this year’s BBC Proms In The Park on Saturday, September 8 in London's Hyde Park.

Friday, April 20, 2012

let color spew forth

Scissor Sisters, on the verge of unleashing "Magic Hour", their forthcoming, fourth longplayer, have lensed a colorful, equine enhanced video for their current single, "Only The Horses". Let's have a peek.



Nicely shot. I see the often used, spilled paint played in reverse trick is still popular. The single is hugely listenable. Although, I'm still convinced it is stripped of anything resembling the Scissters with the exception of Jake Shears' vocal. Still, a lovely tune which grows with each passing listen.

And if you'd like to know how this modern slab of celluloid was created, here's a short, behind-the-scenes look at the making of it.



The tracksliting for "Magic Hour" has been revealed. And I am pleased to be able to share it with you now.

1. Baby Come Home
2. Keep Your Shoes On
3. Inevitable
4. Only The Horses
5. Year Of Living Dangerously
6. Let’s Have A Kiki
7. Shady Love
8. San Luis Obispo
9. Self Control
10. Best In Me
11. The Secret Life Of Letters
12. Somewhere
13. Ms. Matronic’s Magic Message
14. Fuck Yeah*
15. Let’s Have A Kiki (DJ Nita Remix)*
16. Fuck Yeah (Seamus Haji Remix)*

The asterisk (*) donates the ever growing popularity of the bonus track. Not sure if the three additional tunes are exclusive to a digital retailer or make an appearance on the CD. Either way, I think it would have been nice to add the Seamus Haji remix of "Shady Love" to the tracklisting. I prefer that one to the original. Just my two cents. Regardless, "Magic Hour" will be available in the "shops" on May 25.

And for those who appreciate a little personal anecdote, I'm thrilled to tell you that, as a child, my siblings and I used the word "kiki" when referencing female genitalia. I can hear your satisfaction at being duly informed. I don't suppose the Scissters had that in mind when they recorded the album track, "Let's Have A Kiki". Carry on.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

calling all occupants

Gravitonas, fronted by vocalist Andreas Öhrn and curated by legendary, Swedish maestro Alexander Bard, have returned with "Call Your Name", a brand new single which sports a slightly different sonic direction for them.

While their latest is still aimed directly at the dancefloor, it takes on a slightly more progressive bent than previous efforts.

The pulsing synth figure is powered forward by a snappy clapping percussive track and swings under Andreas' urgent, insistent vocal. It's slightly darker sounding with a hook that manages to bury itself deep inside your brain within moments of hearing it. And they push the boundaries of the dubstep breakdown by adorning the squelchy, rumbly bits with Eastern European string lines.

The single is accompanied by a suitably quirky, jerky video which sees Andreas' straightforward performance juxtaposed against Alexander's ominous presence. It reminds me a bit of Pet Shop Boys' finest visual work. Think some of the darker moments from "Heart" or "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Anymore".



While the overloaded, 17 mix digital bundle is scheduled to be released on May 21, "Call Your Name" is already available to purchase as part of Gravitonas' brand new, six song EP, "Black Ceremony".

What is truly unique about the Gravitonas manifesto is that they are embracing the power of the internet and the current, single driven environment while exploring the impact of promotion in territories which are often overlooked in the international marketplace. So far, they have released numerous singles and EPs without ever issuing a full length album.

However, I have one suggestion for Mr. Bard regarding "Call My Name". I desperately want an old school, six minute, extended version of the original mix. It's begging to be done. He can thank me for that little marketing nugget later. Cash will do nicely.

And the superior pop of Gravitonas doesn't begin and end with their current offering. Previous single, "Lucky Star", was a light n' breezy little number. It contrasted nicely against preceding single, "Everybody Dance", a stomping track which has been getting a lot of dancefloor attention, especially in its reswizzled form courtesy of house honcho, Ralphi Rosario.

Friday, April 6, 2012

horsing around


"Only The Horses", produced by synth wizard of the moment, Calvin Harris, is the first single, possibly second, from the forthcoming, fourth longplayer from Scissor Sisters. I say "possibly second" as it is unclear if their previous platter, "Shady Love", will feature on it.



With only two tracks from the latest studio sessions to go by, it's difficult to judge what the album will sound like. But my first reaction is that "Magic Hour", for that is the title of the longplayer, is, essentially, a Jack Shears solo album. Ver Scissters appear to have succumbed to record company pressure in their search for the elusive "hit" and in the process, have been stripped of their sonic identity.

Neither of the recent singles have been bad. Although, I must admit I despised "Shady Love" when I first heard it and it grew on me after numerous listens. They seem to lack the humor and spark that attracted me to the band in the first place.

And have we not had enough of the lyric video promotional concept by now, darlings? Plus, I have a bone to pick with ver Scissters about their single "sleeve". The animal featured in the artwork is a zebra not a horse. I suggest they change the title or replace the animal on the cover. I am a serious advocate when it comes to truth in advertising.

"Only The Horses" will be available from all fine digital retailers on May 13 while the new elpee, "Magic Hour" will hit the "shops" on May 28.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

blood and garbage

Garbage are back on the scene after a seven year hiatus with "Blood For Poppies", the first single from their forthcoming, fifth, studio longplayer, "Not Your Kind Of People". The single is a return to the their roots which features chainsaw guitars, a dusting of twisted electronics and Shirley Manson's signature vocal sneer.

While the verses are dark and a bit grungy, it lifts into a chorus that's begging to be adorned in Beach Boys harmonies. You can almost hear the band on the knife's edge holding back those tendencies and they deliver it with a just a hint of that surf side vocal influence without ever exploding into a full-on, sunshine hook.

The video for the single, directed by renowned fashion photographer and filmmaker Matt Irwin, is a black and white vamp through the glamorous homes of Los Angeles spliced together with some film noir imagery.



While "Blood For Poppies" has been touted as the first single, it appears the UK will lead with "Battle In Me". Both tracks will be available as limited edition 7" singles which will be exclusively available through brick and mortal retailers for Record Store Day on April 21.

Glad to have the fierce foursome back in the game. And they've returned just in time for the wave of 90s nostalgia which is about to sweep the globe. Come to think of it... Whatever happened to that proposed Shirley Manson solo album? I think we need to give Shirl a little jingle about that.

"Not Your Kind Of People" will be available from all fine "shops" on May 14. The following is the official tracklisting for the elpee.

1. Automatic Systematic Habit
2. Big Bright World
3. Blood For Poppies
4. Control
5. Not Your Kind Of People
6. Felt
7. I Hate Love
8. Sugar
9. Battle In Me
10. Man On A Wire
11. Beloved Freak

The deluxified edition of the album will contain four bonus tracks tagged onto the end of the eleven main tracks.

12. The One
13. What Girls Are Made Of
14. Bright Tonight
15. Show Me

The standard CD will feature a white cover while the limited edition version of the disc will sport a fetching, red sleeve.

Friday, March 23, 2012

seeing in believing

Saucy Aussies, Sneaky Sound System, fresh from their Mardi Gras appearances, have just unleashed "Really Want To See You Again", the third single from their current longplayer, "From Here To Anywhere".

The singles a slinky synthy number with Miss Connie Mitchell's confident and assertive vocal over a cool wash of plinks, plonks and rubbery bass lines. The video is an homage to everything 90s from Milli Vanilli to C+C Music Factory and MC Hammer.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

once more with feeling

Rod Thomas, aka Bright Light Bright Light, has a penchant for laying down on floors flat on his back. He also has a habit of writing intelligent pop songs with massive singalong hooks. His latest single, "Waiting For The Feeling", is no exception.

The long awaiting follow-up to last year's tears on the dancefloor epic, "Disco Moment", is a thumping dance choon with a deliciously jagged piano riff and a killer chorus that's guaranteed to earworm its way into your heart. Think Pet Shop Boys with a splash of Black Box. Very 90s in a 2012 kind of way.

Furthermore, yours truly has reswizzled the tune for maximum discotheque flammability. Pass the poppers, ladies and gents. Glitter cannon at the ready.

"Waiting For The Feeling" is the single of the year. Hands down. There's even a brightly colored video to accompany the tune.



Lovely. I see Rod doesn't mind having his hair messed up by someone's random hands. Perhaps his floor fetish is really just a reason to reference the lyrics of the song. Has he been thrown there? Is it a metaphor for love? So many questions.

"Waiting For The Feeling" is available on iTunes right now! The remix EP will be available from all fine digital retailers on April 30. "Make Me Believe In Hope", the debut longplayer from Bright Light Bright Light (please note - no comma between the bright lights), will be released on June 4. Mark your calendar!

Monday, March 12, 2012

all I ever wanted

Alphabeat are back, back, BACK! The Danish collective have been busy tinkering in the studio in order to deliver the follow up to "The Spell", their second longplayer. Of course, if you bought that sophomore effort in the UK it was called "The Beat Is...". Christ on a cracker! That was a shit title.

Anyway, the first single from their forthcoming elpee is called "Vacation". Thankfully, it is not a cover of the Go-Go's tune.



Ooh! That's got a fun, fresh, colorful, sunny vibe to it. It's like a scoop of raspberry sherbert! Just in time for an unseasonably warm, springtime winter. Love the cheesy synth horns. Glad to see they didn't go down the electro route. Instead, they revisited the sound of their debut album. Well played!

Look for their third, as-yet-untitled longplayer by the end of the summer.

cinematic strangeland

Keane are about to return from the wilderness with "Strangeland", their first new music since the "Night Train" EP in 2010.

It's their first, full longplayer in nearly four years since the sound altering "Perfect Symmetry" which saw them replace their delicate, piano led lushness with lots of buzzy synths and clattering drums. I, for one, loved the album and thought it was a bold and necessary step forward for Tim Rice-Oxley and co.

For the new album, it appears the band, now a foursome with the official addition of Jessie Quinn on bass guitar and percussion. And it appears they've returned to the velvety simplicity and cinematic scope of their first two albums. Tom Chaplin's yearning vocal soars above the beautifully produced arrangements and he seems to sing with a greater sense of assuredness and confidence

In anticipation of the album, the band have cobbled together a lovely overview of it and whacked it up on their website. Let's have a peek.



Ooh! That's lovely.

Keane's fourth, studio longplayer will be released on May 7th 2012. The tracklisting is as follows:

1. You Are Young
2. Silenced By The Night
3. Disconnected
4. Watch How You Go
5. Sovereign Light Café
6. On The Road
7. The Starting Line
8. Black Rain
9. Neon River
10. Day Will Come
11. In Your Own Time
12. Sea Fog

As well as the standard CD and digital versions of the album, "Strangeland" will be available as an extended CD with four bonus tracks and a vinyl elpee. Additionally, a deluxe CD/DVD combo will be released which includes the bonus tracks, five acoustic videos and a book packed with photographs as well as, a short story by British author William Boyd. That's a lot cash for fans to drop in one day. It's reminds me somewhat of the days when singles were released in five or six formats. Ah, the eighties. Bless.

"Strangeland" will be available from all fine "shops" on May 7.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

punk movement

Unlike most people, I am getting quite sick to death of Adele. Girl is gonna have a bitch of a time following up her sophomore longplayer. I want to gouge my eyes out with hot knitting needles everytime I hear some poor karaoke queen butcher one of her songs.

However, one thing I am enjoying is the creative way people have been splicing, slicing and dicing her work. There are far too many bad remixes out there of all three singles from "21". But there are a small handful of well produced reswizzlings that I play from time to time. It's almost refreshing to hear her songs in a different setting.

And now the mash ups have started making appearances across the interwebs. Again, there are a ton of ill conceived train wrecks. But there are a few gems like "Something About The Fire" which is a beautifully constructed collision of "Set Fire To The Rain" and "Something About Us" by Daft Punk which originally featured on their 2010 elpee, "Discovery".

This magnificent of marriage of sound was produced by Carlos Serrano and it deserves plenty of attention. My only criticism is that it hasn't been given a more extended treatment. Bliss.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

single tonight

Saint Etienne have revealed the artwork and tracklisting for their current single, "Tonight".

As you can see from the image above, the photo captures the spirit and excitement of attending a gig by your favorite band. Also, it's an homage to The Specials as it is reminiscent of the cover art to their EP, "Too Much Too Young". Because ver Et are sticklers for detail, the photograph was also taken at a gig by The Specials.

"Tonight" will be available on March 12. It will be released on 7", 12" and as a digital download bundle. The physical configurations are being limited to 1,000 copies each. Once they are gone, no more will be pressed. Snatch yourself a copy tout de suite!

The tracklisting for the 7" single features "Tonight" on the a-side and a cover of "Manhattan" which was originally recorded by Scott Walker in his latter day period. Saint Etienne first released it in 2009 as part of "Scott Walker - 30th Century Man", a collection of Mr. Walker's finest moments as interpreted by contemporary artists.

The 12" and DL will include mixes from 2 Bears and Club Clique while Richard X turns in an old school, 1980s style extended version. Huzzah! Someone has answered my prayers.

However, it unsettles me that a CD single won't be released. Surely, their fans would prefer a shiny CD over the less viable 7" single. Why not issue four formats? Have the chart rules shifted once again? Certainly, there is a way to make it as collectable as the other formats.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

armed and dangerous

Paul Weller returns with "That Dangerous Age", the first, fired up single from his forthcoming longplayer, "Sonik Kicks".

The track is all doo wop and 60s with a splash of Steeler's Wheel and The Kinks wrapped up in a psychedelic, Kraftwerk kaftan. Arguably, Mr. Weller's finest single in nearly fifteen years and a highlight in a career which spans five decades.

With one masterstroke of his guitar, "That Dangerous Age",manages to out-Blurred Blur. Damon and co. should take serious note of PW's latest and have a good think about the direction of their next album should they decide to reconvene in the studio.

Check out the colorful video which was unveiled today.



Interesting to note that previous single, "Starlite", which saw PW revisit some of the sonics he explored during his heyday as head of The Style Council, will not be included on "Sonik Kicks".

The elpee will hit the "shops" on March 19.