Friday, April 30, 2010

you spin me round

Alphabeat are a clever lot. They're fun. They shimmy their Danish asses on the borderline without straying into being twee.

Case in point... Their new single, "DJ (I Could Be Dancing)", not only has the benefit of a parenthetical prefix added to the title, it also sports a cute, budget impaired video. Let's take a peek.

Looks like that "set" is held together with chewing gum and sellotape. (That's Scotch tape for our American readers.) I feel a bit sorry for ver Beat. You can almost feel their lack of enthusiasm as they plod through their bouncy tune with what amounts to little more than an empty room adorned with two round platforms. The money would've been better spent had they did something a little more DIY with a couple of handhelds.

As for the single, I like the way it has been freshened up and reswizzled. Who doesn't like a classic, 90s house piano and Black Box inspired, vocal samples?

"DJ" has been a fan favorite of their current album, "The Spell" (or the lamely titled "The Beat Is..." as it is known in the UK), and will finally see a release on May 31. I just wish the rest of the elpee was as tingle inducing as the three singles lifted from it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

give us some Pixies and some Roses and some Valentines

The Divine Comedy come crashing back down to Earth with "Indie Disco", a brand new tune from their forthcoming elpee, "Bang Goest The Neighbourhood". Thankfully, Neil Hannon has splashed out a wee bit of cash on an accompanying video.

After Neil released his collaborative side project, The Duckworth Lewis Method, last year he's back in his guise as TDC with a simple song about love at the local danceateria. To these ears, "Indie Disco" has specks of 90s vintage Blur and Pulp mixed in with the usual 60s inspired string filigree. It's a jaunty, little number without a sniff of foppery.

The namechecking throughout the song is sweet without ever being twee. The late 60s Britannia cool color blocking visuals and the obvious use of the towering Elvis/Tom Jones inspired title in lights. The last shot of the growing pile of record sleeves is a lovely, ironic, arched eyebrow moment.

Well done, my good man!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

timezone hydroplaning

Not much to report here. We're all waiting breathless for new albums from Scissor Sisters and Kylie Minogue. It seems the competition knows these are on target to be albums of epic proportions for many pop aficionados. So the slate is a bit bare until then.

If you come to realize I'm not checking in on a regularly here and across all my social media hangouts, blame it on the timezone hydroplaning. I will be away from my home base quite a bit over the next couple of weeks for a not so super secret mission that will shift my orbit in the coming months. Plus, I'll be toiling away in the studio on a few projects in between. Exciting times, indeed!

In the meantime, with Goldfrapp playing on my iPod over and over ad infinitum, please enjoy the latest visual nugget from Gorillaz. Not sure if this is the official video for "Superfast Jellyfish", the second single lifted from their latest longplayer, "Plastic Beach". Whatever the case, it's still entertaining.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

nothing takes the place of lycra

May 31 will see the latest in a long line of deluxe reissues from ABBA. "Voulez-Vous", their sixth studio album, is their glitterball moment despite hits like "Does Your Mother Know", "I Have A Dream" and "Chiquitita" dropped between slabs of zippy disco baubles like "Angeleyes", "If It Wasn't For The Nights" (which should have been a single) and the title track.

"Voulez-Vous" was the moment my obsession with ABBA shifted into overdrive. The previous two albums, "The Album" and "Arrival", locked me in as an FFL (fan for life). "Super Trouper" and "The Visitors" lifted them into legendary status at a time when the world wanted to throw them under a bus.

As a songwriter, I dropped ABBA as an influence years before it was chic to do so. I was always committed to, inspired by and in awe of their superior song craft. Time wags its index finger knowingly to those who didn't stick by the Swedish foursome in their heyday and cite them as major influences today.

Unfortunately, the deluxified edition of "Voulez-Vous" doesn't include any unreleased tracks. It has all be available before across multiple reissues and compilations. However, the DVD features several, long forgotten, previously televised gems seemingly unearthed from a time capsule buried deep in the Swedish wilderness. It's all about having a pristine copy of "ABBA In Switzerland" which I can view at my leisure anytime I want.

Here's a handy preview.

I had a serious thing for Benny. Just sayin'. Excuse me. I need a private moment.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

heaven eleven

Here it is, kittens! The artwork for Kylie Minogue's eleventh longplayer, "Aphrodite", has just been revealed.

AMAZEBALLS! Quite clearly, it is a gay man's dream. In fact, if you listen closely, you will hear squeals of delight around the planet today.

The album will "hit shelves" on July 5 while the first single from it, "All The Lovers", will be available the previous week. Huzzah!

By the looks of things, I would bet a new line of perfume is in order. Brand extensions, ahoy! I am a marketing genius.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

we like dancing and we look divine

Today is Record Store Day. For many, it's not much different from most Saturdays - a weekly or monthly pilgrimage to rub shoulders with the popular music masses.

For some, the thought of exchanging their hard earned cash for recorded music, pressed into vinyl or imprinted into zeros and ones, is a foreign concept and ancient act reserved for those in their advanced years. You know...people over 40 years of age.

For most of the last 22 years, I have splashed my share of cash at the music mecca in downtown NYC known as Rebel Rebel. I've known David, the owner, longer than any of my friends. I used to buy import 12 inch singles from him when he was a clerk at another nearby record shop and I was a 16 year old Greenwich Village urchin.

I used to buy all the British imports - Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Eurythmics, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Alison Moyet, Simple Minds, Bananarama, Culture Club, Depeche Mode, David Bowie, ABC, Howard Jones, The Human League, Siouxsie And The Banshees, New Order and countless others. And David always knew what I would like. He was rarely wrong. Along the way, he introduced me to The Blow Monkeys, Lloyd Cole And The Commotions, David Sylvian and Swing Out Sister.

David and I share a bond. He is partly responsible for shaping my musical taste. He's altogether the reason why my wallet was usually empty every payday.

I followed David from New Wave to the New Romantics. Together we took trips through C86, House, Britpop and every other incarnation of pop music from the seemingly never ending stream of sound which flowed from the UK.

So, instead of lamenting a beleaguered music biz, I took today to revel in the rich tapestry of tunes inside the tiny corridor of sound located on Bleecker Street. Rebel Rebel is still in the same location where it opened its doors in August 1988.

It's packed to the rafters with both new and old vinyl, classic mags from the 80s, more compilations than your iPod could ever hold, hard to find promos and boxes upon boxes of music memorabilia. But if you're looking for the latest limited edition releases, you better get there early because David sells out of them in the blink of an eye.

In these digital days, there's a nostalgia for flicking through crates of vinyl. I loved manhandling 12" singles. (Insert filthy retort here.) There was something alluring and exhilarating about flipping LPs over front to back to front. The lavish designs. The detail. Even holding a CD had its thrilling moments. The jewel case. The shiny disc. Thumbing through booklets. I remember the early days when they were nothing more than an expensive curiosity. Then they rolled out into the mainstream and I got hooked right away.

So, what was my first purchase at Rebel Rebel when its lights were turned on for the first time? Glad you asked, kittens.

I bought the 7", 10", 12" and CD single formats of "Dreaming" by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. All four configurations were UK pressings. It was the only single lifted from OMD's first greatest hits collection.

Supporting local, independent retailers still means something to me. I do my best to unload my shekels where I know it will make a difference to the vitality of the surrounding neighborhood.

I clearly remember Greenwich Village before the strollers, the upwardly mobile throngs, the high end fashionista shops and the gleaming mega gyms. I attended college at NYU. I recall seeing the leather studs, the transvestites, the club kids, the bohemians and the wide eyed teens from suburbia all gathering at the many record shops dotted about. The street corners of GW and SoHo were the places where I first came across the art of Keith Haring. It's where I learned about life. I was able to explore my passion for creativity. It was the stuff of dreams. Good times. New York, ice cream, TV, travel, good times!

Today isn't just a celebration of Rebel Rebel and all other independent music shops. For me it's more about finding and defining my youth. It's the experiences and how they're colored by the music I have listened to all my life. Music that wouldn't have been there if I didn't have a haven like Rebel Rebel in my life. It was communal. It was inspiring. It was a sonic celebration every week. And it continues to be. Long may it thrive even in these uncertain times.

By the way, aren't you the least bit curious about what I bought today? Of course you are. On vinyl, natch!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Would you like some fries with that shake?

Scissor Sisters have revealed the cover art for their forthcoming album, "Night Work". It features an original photograph from 1980 called "Dancer" by Robert Maplethorpe. It's simultaneously saucy and sophisticated.

I wonder if the model was wearing leg warmers? Anyway, who doesn't like a piece of ass? Looks like you could bounce a quarter off that beauteous gluteus.

"Night Work" will be unleashed on the universe on June 28, preceded a week earlier by the single, "Fire With Fire".

If you swing over to ver Sistsers' website, Mr. Shears and co. have been kind enough to preview a suitably dramatic track from the album. It's called "Invisible Light" and it is EPIC!

It sounds like a combination of Pet Shop Boys and New Order with nods toward Frankie era, Trevor Horn productions. In fact, Mr. Paul Reynolds over at a Fizzy Pop!! agrees wholeheartedly!

There's a Thriller-esque narration toward the end. Come to think of it, the spoken word part is more like a tip of the hat to "Two Tribes" by FGTH. As coincidence would have it, the track feels a bit inspired by Faithless in spots. Check out my previous entry about the new Faithless single that's about to be released.

The whole thing sounds like a sleazy night in Berlin. All dark corners, sticky puddles and amyl nitrate. Not that I would know anything about that sort of thing.

Monday, April 12, 2010

faith in this color

I can almost smell the amyl nitrate. Must be time for a new single from Faithless!

"Not Going Home" will be the first single from their sixth longplayer, "The Dance". The single will be released on May 3 while the album is scheduled to be made available from all fine shops on May 17.

The trippy video for "Not Going Home" premiered today on the band's official website. Apparently, they wanted to reconnect with the dancefloor. After watching the video, it certainly looks like someone took a few too many hits of ecstasy. It has a sort of Aeon Flux look about it.

"Sun To Me", another track from the album, has been floating around for the last few months in preparation for Faithless' return to clubland. It's suitably dark and seedy sounding.

Hard to believe they've been banging about for nearly 15 years. Sister Bliss, Maxi Jazz and the enigmatic Rollo have released a total of eleven albums if you count their greatest hits and remix collections.

Faithless, along with Underworld, continue to deliver bass shaking dance epics while maintaining some pop elements without ever succumbing to the allure of the disco ball.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

maximum big surprise

Just unwrapped my copy of the newly remastered edition of "So Red The Rose", the only album by Duran Duran side project, Arcadia.


More to follow as I bathe in its arty textures, arch presentation and dark musings. In the meantime, cast your memories back to the shoulder pad days of 1985.

Apparently, they've played this little gem at least twice in their recent live show. I think I would wet myself if I heard them whip out "Election Day".

Excuse me. I think I peed a little.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

waltz away, Malcolm

Malcolm McLaren was a funny chap. He had that British eccentricity shtick down for real. He was uncompromising. Always a trump card up his sleeve. He was clever, colorful and controversial. A visionary. An opportunist. He made cash from chaos. He tapped into subcultures and wove them into the mainstream.

With his untimely passing, let's celebrate his talent. As an impresario, he was unparalleled. He's often most remembered for his management and PR duties for influential groups like Sex Pistols and Bow Wow Wow. But Malcolm had an uncanny knack for spotting a trend and shaping it for the future.

Here are my five, fave, musical moments from Malcolm McLaren.

"Double Dutch" (1982)

Beyond Bow Wow Wow. Malcolm got behind the mic and tapped into reggae dub after spending time with the Burundi beat.

"Buffalo Gals" (1983)

All that scratchin' is makin' me itch. The beat box was king. NYC oozed from every groove. Neneh Cherry would not have stood in a buffalo stance without it.

"Deep In Vogue" (1989)

Strike a pose. There's nothing to it. Malcolm made the introduction. Madonna took over at the nexus. Genius learns from genius.

"House Of The Blue Danube" (1990)

His ZTT inspired moment. The art of drama.

"Paris Paris" (1994)

His love affair with the City Of Light. Art house, world music after Enigma put it on the map with "Sadeness, Part 1".

Simply amazing!

inner sanctum

It's no secret, kittens. Technology and social media have changed the way we connect and communicate. As usual, musicians tend to lead the charge.

One of my faves, Glaswegian duo Hue And Cry, have embraced the change with every fiber in their brotherly bodies.

Pat and Greg Kane, technology boffins and politcal pundits, have started work on the follow-up to "Open Soul", their musical offering from 2008, which brought them back into the pop spotlight. The new longplayer, tentatively titled "Hot Wire", is being documented as they toil away toward its release.

The studio used to be an inner sanctum with the creative process shrouded in secrecy and speculation. Social media has kicked down the door and acts like H&C have no problems inviting spectators in for a cup of tea.

Here's a taste of their 27th day in the studio. New song, "Fail You Better", has an Al Green feel to it. And Pat gives it some church. Is there a better blue eyed soul singer?

Be prepared to see more of their activity on my little corner of the blogosphere, my lovelies.

While some artists, like Imogen Heap, tweeted and blogged their way up to the release of an album only to disappear over the precipice once it was released, Hue And Cry are committed to being interactive with their community of fans throughout and beyond. Well done, lads!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

la comédie divine

As previously reported, The Divine Comedy will unveil their new album, "Bang Goes The Knighthood" on May 31. It will be available as a standard, single disc as well as a limited edition double CD set.

The limited edition will include the album plus a bonus disc featuring material from The Divine Comedy’s now legendary shows at Cité de la Musique from 2008.

Neil Hannon, for he is TDC, was asked to cover his favorite, French songs en français. You will be able to hear the results of his efforts on the bonus disc! The tracklisting is still to be confirmed, but is expected to feature around ten songs.

Here are two classiques français from that show - "Joe Le Taxi" by Mrs. Johnny Depp, aka Vanessa Paradis, and "Poupée de Cire, Poupée de Son" by the legendary Serge Gainsbourg. Thankfully, someone lovingly recorded them and swiftly uploaded them to YouTube. Huzzah!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Do you want a candy?

Mini Viva makes it three out of three. "One Touch", originally and craptastically titled "Do You Want A Candy?", is the third single from Frankee Connolly and Britt Love. It's the follow-up to "I Wish" which inexplicably crashed out at a lowly #73 in the UK singles chart at the back end of last year.

Note to record labels... New acts should not release the follow up to a top 10 hit in the crowded, Christmas market. You can thank me for that marketing nugget later. FYI... I like to paid in large bills. Kthx!

Let's hope "One Touch" lights the charts on fire, kittens. This is chunky, ass shaking, pop with a hint of classic Stock Aitken Waterman about it. Mini Viva even LOOK like they could've been a PWL confection. And I love how they rip into a little Lady Gaga inspired vamp at the end of the chorus.

The song itself made me think of this 80s jammy jam from Siedah Garrett.