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.