Wednesday, September 29, 2010

many happy returns

A few weeks ago, Hurts covered "Confide In Me" by everyone's favorite Aussie pop rocket, Kylie Minogue. Now Lady K returns the favor by recording "Wonderful Life" for BBC Radio 1's "Live Lounge" .

Lovely! Make it a b-side, baby. And while we're at it, Hurts needs to throw their rendition of "Confide In Me" on the flip of their next single, "Stay". Make it so. Please send cash. I have a million ideas.

Kylie also performed a stripped down version of her current single, "Get Outta My Way", and that old chestnut "Can't Get You Out Of My Head".

She is so adorable. I just wanna bite her!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Why hasn't Kelis had three top ten singles from her latest longplayer, "Flesh Tone"?

The video for "Scream", the third single plucked from the elpee, has hit the interwebs.

Lady Gaga isn't the only one who's been watching Grace Jones videos. It's a low budget affair, but it doesn't appear that way. Nicely done.

David Guetta certainly is the man of the moment. Who woulda thunk it? French house meets American R&B. It's an unlikely pairing, but it seems to have pushed all the right buttons. Werk it, gurl!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

the return of the space cowboy

Two Jamiroquai related entries in one day! As soon as I posted the video for their new single, "White Knuckle Ride", the cat in the hat revealed the colorful cover art for their forthcoming longplayer, "Rock Dust Light Star".

Lovely! I see they are wisely sticking with the Jamiroquai "brand". Untouched by filthy, corporate hands. Crazy hat? Check. Familiar logo with the same wide, rounded font? Check. Jay Kay front and center? Check. Add adoring crowd. Et voilà!

The cover photo was shot at a Jamiroquai gig in Carhaix, France by Mitch Jenkins. C'est magnifique!

The album better be fonky!

ride on time

Let me be clear about something. I adore Jamiroquai. I was a fan from the very first time I heard "When You Gonna Learn?", their debut single. The didgeridoo was a lovely touch. I dug a bit of Acid Jazz back in the day. Still do.

So, you can imagine my feverish anticipation for their forthcoming seventh longplayer, "Rock Dust Light Star", which will hit the "shops" on November 1.

"White Knuckle Ride" is the first single from it. Another solid funk workout. A little more raw than previous efforts. Pushes all the right buttons. Loving it!

This week, Jamiroquai unveiled the video clip they lensed for it. Let's check it out.

OK. That was a complete waste of celluloid.

Friday, September 24, 2010

let's hope this isn't truth in advertising

Paloma Faith has announced the release of "Smoke & Mirrors", the latest single from her magnificent debut elpee, "Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful?"

It's the FIFTH (count 'em) single to be plucked from the album. If you include the dreadful rerelease of "New York" with the rap shoehorned into it then it brings her tally of singles to six from "DYWTTOSB?"

I would really love to post the dastardly and quite funny video for "Smoke & Mirrors" as part of this entry. However, the lovely folks at Sony have disabled the ability to embed it.

Nice job, label wanks. I guess they don't like a little free promotion. So I'm showing my dissatisfaction by refusing to link to the video on YouTube. On the upside, I'm really pleased they stuck with Lady Faith. They're kickin' it old school with a campaign as deep and wide as the Arizona sky.

Is it me or does Paloma look like Jessica Rabbit on the sleeve of her lush, new single? What's with the bedazzled Laverne DeFazio look on her dress? Bring on the sophomore album, honey. Capitalize on your current fanbase. Let's hope the title of her single isn't a reflection of the truth.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

together in electric dreams

In a sudden turn of events, it appears that Pet Shop Boys will, in fact, include a new song on "Ultimate", their forthcoming retrospective. Our dreams have come true!

There's a little more meat on these bones now. Neil and Chris mentioned the release of "Ultimate" is timed to celebrate the 25th anniversary of "West End Girls" becoming a hit.

The full tracklisting for the CD includes the following.

1. West End Girls
2. Suburbia
3. It's A Sin
4. What Have I Done To Deserve This?
5. Always On My Mind
6. Heart
7. Domino Dancing
8. Left To My Own Devices
9. Being Boring
10. Where The Streets Have No Name (I Can't Take My Eyes Off You)
11. Go West
12. Before
13. Se A Vida É (That's The Way Life Is)
14. New York City Boy
15. Home And Dry
16. Miracles
17. I'm With Stupid
18. Love Etc.
19. Together

With 19 tracks covering all ten of their elpees, it's a perfect, pocket sized edition of PSB hits for the casual fan. It also gives die hards a reason to purchase the collection. It's no easy task to pull together eighteen hits when they've released over forty singles.

Some sacrifices have to be made when you have a such an extensive body of work from which to choose. For instance, "Very", arguably PSB's high water mark, is represented by a solitary track. I hear and completely understand your collective gay gasp.

"Rent", "It's Alright", "Can You Forgive Her?" and "So Hard", all top 10 hits, didn't make the cut. Interesting to see "Before" in the line up. Not one you hear often.

So what about the new tune? "Together" was written and produced with former Xenomania staff member Tim Powell and will also be released as a single. Huzzah! Ver Pets have come through for us yet again.

If that wasn't enough, Neil and Chris are scheduled to release the score to their ballet, "The Most Incredible Thing", in March. Poptastic!

Monday, September 20, 2010

people hold on

"All I Ever Wanted" was the last single The Human League released. That was nearly ten years ago. Today, all that changes with the announcement of "Night People", the first single from their forthcoming longplayer, "Credo".

Originally, word was out that the new elpee would be titled "Decades". However, that turned out to be poppycock even if it did form part of a nifty story which saw "Decades" as their tenth album (if one counts "Love And Dancing") being released on October 10, 2010.

Tall tales aside, "Credo", ver League's ninth studio album to carry a single word title, will be released in 2011 shortly after the release of the follow up single to "Night People".

Watch out for Phil and co. on tour starting at the end of November. Expect them to play new tunes from "Credo". "Night People" should hit the "shops" just before THL's opening date on November 29.

Thanks to our friends electric over at "Electronically Yours", your one stop pop shop for all things Human, who broke this story first.

disco sisters

Holy disco balls! The 7th Heaven remix of "Any Which Way" is better than a bottle of poppers!

Feel the rush! Nice one Scissters.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Seal's secret

Seal has been popping albums out with incredible regularity. He returns with his fourth in as many years. That includes his excellent "Hits" collection from 2009.

The man with the soulful, rough hewn voice - who also happens to be married to supermodel and "Project Runway" host Heidi Klum - recently revealed the first single from his forthcoming longplayer.

"Secret" is the lead track from "Commitment", Seal's seventh studio album. For some reason, he considers it his sixth. Apparently, his previous elpee, the drippy covers album, "Soul", doesn't count. Whatever the correct tally, "Commitment" is the latest in a career that stretches back twenty years! Where did all that time go?

The verse kinda reminds me of "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt. This is not necessarily a good thing. Old war horse and MOR knob twiddler, David Foster, makes a return appearance in the producer's seat for "Commitment". Seal and Mr. Foster developed a close, creative relationship during the recording of "Soul" which prompted Seal to reprise David's role for the follow up.

David Foster, for those that don't know, has produced everyone from Celine Dion to Chicago, Cher, Gloria Estefan, Olivia Newton-John and more. He is the undisputed king of the adult contemporary ballad.

While "Secret" is a bit schmaltzy, its b-side, "If I Could Ever Make You Love Me", shows a few glimmers of Seal's epic ballads from the past like "Violet". However, it doesn't come close to the dizzy heights scaled by towering classics like "Prayer For The Dying" or "Kiss From A Rose". It doesn't even hold a candle to recent favorite "Love's Divine" which was criminally overlooked by the singles charts on both sides of the Atlantic with the exception of Germany where it peaked at #4.

As much as I like Seal, I prefer him in the guise of otherworldly, social troubadour to the mushy, gushing husband enveloped in marital bliss. I think he's a better songwriter when he incorporates more lyrical bite into his songs.

Friday, September 17, 2010

ultimately satisfying

Pet Shop Boys have been keeping busy! With "Ultimately", their forthcoming hits retrospective, scheduled to hit the "shops" on November 1, they have managed to find time to trawl the vaults of the BBC.

Neil and Chris came up with some wonderful televised moments for the bonus DVD which will form part of the special edition of the collection. It looks like they've included performances of nearly every one of their singles from "West End Girls" through "I'm With Stupid".

Interesting to note some omissions. "Where The Streets Have No Name (I Can't Take My Eyes Off You)" is probably missing due to copyright issues with Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio who wrote "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" for Frankie Valli. Odd to see "Go West" and "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind Of Thing" not represented considering they both featured on "Very", one of PSB's biggest elpees. And I would like to have seen "Before" in the mix.

Without further hesitation, here is what you will see on the PSB DVD!

1. West End Girls
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 15/12/85

2. Love Comes Quickly
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 20/03/86

3. Opportunities (Let's Make Lots Of Money)
Recorded for BBC 2’s "Whistle Test".
First transmitted: 29/04/86

4. Suburbia
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 02/10/86

5. It’s A Sin
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 25/06/87

6. Rent
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 22/10/87

7. Always On My Mind
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 10/12/87

8. What Have I Done To Deserve This?
Recorded for "The Brits Awards".
First transmitted: 08/02/88

9. Heart
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Wogan".
First transmitted: 30/03/88

10. Domino Dancing
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 22/09/88

11. Left To My Own Devices
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 01/12/88.

12. So Hard
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Wogan".
First transmitted: 28/09/90

13. Being Boring
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 29/11/90

14. Can You Forgive Her?
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 10/06/93

15. Liberation
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 07/04/94

16. Paninaro ‘95
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 03/08/95

17. Se A Vida É (That's The Way Life Is)
Recorded for BBC 2’s "Top Of The Pops 2".
First Transmitted: 02/12/03

18. A Red Letter Day
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 28/03/97

19. Somewhere
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 04/07/97

20. I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Anymore
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 30/07/99

21. New York City Boy
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 08/10/99

22. You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 14/01/00

23. Home And Dry
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 29/03/02

24. I Get Along
Recorded for BBC 2’s "Top Of The Pops 2".
First transmitted: 17/04/02

25. Miracles
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 14/11/03

26. Flamboyant
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 19/03/04

27. I’m With Stupid
Recorded for BBC 1’s "Top Of The Pops".
First transmitted: 23/04/06

Also, their entire performance at this year's Glastonbury festival will be included on the DVD. That's pretty good value for your money even though they've already issued the "Pandemonium" tour on DVD.

monkey business

Dr. Robert, he of the Jonathan Ross school of speech and debonair lead singer of The Blow Monkeys, is back with his bandmates for their seventh studio album.

They are in deepest Brussels fine tuning the hi hat sounds and fiddling with the reverb. The cover art and tracklisting has been released, and we proudly present both of them here for your perusal.

1. Steppin' Down
2. Hanging On To The Hurt
3. The Killing Breeze
4. Seventh Day
5. Staring At The Sea
6. What It Takes
7. Prayin' For Rain
8. One Of Us Is Lying
9. Face In The Rock
10. All Blown Down
11. A Lasting Joy

No release date has been announced yet. The first single will be "Steppin' Down".

I've been a huge fan of ver Monkeys out of the gate with "Digging Your Scene" way back in 1986. Each of their albums is packed to the teeth with funky sounds, fabulously sophisticated arrangements and clever lyrics. Right up my alley! So to speak.

They went from indie upstarts to posh pop stars and seamlessly blended into the house music scene by the time the 90s rolled in. What a ride!

I was thrilled when they announced they were returning with "Devil's Tavern" in 2008. Unfortunately, I didn't warm up to that album after repeated listens. Here's hoping "Staring At The Sea", which shares its title with a CD retrospective by The Cure from 1986, is more my cup of tea.

Here is "Choice", my favorite, funky Monkey moment.

Dr. Robert was quite the looker! Nice quiff.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Très intéressant. N'est-ce pas? "Ultimate" will be available in all fine "shops" on November 1. It will contain 19 tracks in chronological order bookended by "West End Girls" and "Love Etc.". Srsly! To make it more appealing, I would suggest slapping on my 7" remix of "Beautiful People" and issuing it as a single. Would that be too self serving?

The real treat is the special edition with a bonus DVD which will contain classic performances from their various appearances on "Top Of The Pops" over the last 25 years as well as their appearance at this year's Glastonbury festival. At least we get something new!

Tracklisting to follow shortly.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

songs of faith and devotion

With a velvety glass of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo as accompaniment, I am weaving words about a beautiful rarity in the world of music. *sip*

Finally, the long awaited and much anticipated debut longplayer from Hurts has crash landed. "Happiness" stands out among the current crop of 2010 hopefuls for being the most melodic and sophisticated effort of the bunch. There's more meat on these bones.

The entire album, which debuted in the UK at #4 this week, is seamlessly held together by solid songwriting, epic and tasteful arrangements, lyric depth and Theo Hurts' ( Hutchcraft) solid vocal. Theo's performances are stridently confident yet they maintain a slight vulnerability which gives a more personal feel to the vocal delivery and sells the lyrical sentiments without ever coming off sounding cheap or cheesy.

Although it incorporates many sounds associated with the 80s, the album manages to be far more than a pastiche of synth tricks and production padding.

"Silver Lining" clearly takes its cues from Depeche Mode, a group which Adam Hurts ( Anderson) has cited as a major influence. Starting with classic throbbing synths and clanky chimes, reminiscent of "Black Celebration" era DM, the song builds into a epic chorus. Toward the end of the song, "silver" is chanted by a chorus of manly men against a backdrop of elegiac chords and faux mandolins until the entire arrangement creeps away into a chugging drum loop and ominous chord passages which reminds me of DM's "Stripped".

On a lighter note, second single, "Wonderful Life", which only managed to scrape to #21 in the UK singles chart, is a towering tune which still comes across like a slightly moody Johnny Hates Jazz. And that's not a bad thing at all. This song has a sonic sheen to it that the original mix didn't have. An absolute classic. Just give it some time.

However, to these ears, there is a funky edit around the 3.13 mark. Not sure if it's an artifact of the reverb or a mistake. Whatever the case, it is not in the original version that appeared toward the back end of 2009.

Lyrically, it's appears to be a song of hope to those in despair. The sound of it is equal party glorious beauty and mournful anxiety. Perfect pop! To further hit that point home, here's Hurts performing live in a basement somewhere in London.

The drummer is a monster! Nicely done, rhythm master. After watching that clip, it occurred to me for the first time that there's even a bit of Mk II era Ultravox floating around in Hurts' electro elegance.

Theo and Andy channel a number of fine purveyors of electronic pop throughout the course of the 12 tracks that make up "Happiness". Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark is a on "Blood, Tears And Gold", complete with angelic vocal samples and delicate synth lines while Pet Shop Boys are the clear influence on "Sunday". However, if you close your eyes, you could be forgiven by thinking you were listening to Killers.

Word just came down that "Stay" will be the third single to be plucked from "Happiness". What starts out a bit like Breathe - don't pretend you don't have "All That Jazz" somewhere in your CD collection - quickly turns into another gospel tinged epic with Depeche Mode-esque rhythmic, heartbeat leanings. It sounds massive with its booming, ominous, left hand piano and Theo's elegiac vocal. Very singleworthy, indeed.

The eerie intro to "Illuminated" hints at more DM sonic references and you begin to realize Hurts is more Basildon boys than that of the Pet Shop variety. Everything leading up to this point, including the "Actually" referencing cover art seemed to indicate a PSB connection. Oh, how wrong we were. And that's completely OK as Hurts deliver one of the most polished and emotive debut albums in quite some time.

"Evelyn" is a beautifully somber song which dates back to Theo's days in UK pop combo, Daggers, from the previous decade. It builds from a reflective ode with goth undertones into a full on widescreen number with tribal drums, cathedral vocals and primal yelps which, surprisingly, don't overpower Theo's earnest performance.

This leads nicely into debut single, "Better Than Love", an throbbing electronic dance track that sounds like The Mission meets Pet Shop Boys. The tag line following the chorus gives the listener another flash of OMD.

While I'm referencing several bands, at no time does Hurts come across as if they are aping someone else's sound from yesteryear. They pay homage to their influences in a clever way. Smatterings and subtle sonic construction as opposed to being a pastiche.

Theo looking very much like Gary Kemp from Spandau Ballet at the start of that video.

The remainder of "Happiness" is more subdued - achingly beautiful with wonderfully longing vocals and choruses as big as houses. First up is "Devotion" which features vocal contributions from everyone's favorite Aussie pop rocket, Kylie Minogue. It places her more firmly in the territory she first laid claim to with her Nick Cave duet, "Where The Wild Roses Grow", as opposed the frothy dance confections with which she's currently associated. Smart move. She sounds simultaneously fragile and sexy. In fact, it even has shades of "Confide In Me" which Hurts recently covered.

"Unspoken" is another gorgeous, cinematic number which falls and climbs throughout. "The Water" drifts into George Michael territory. Swimming in reverb and very little electronics, it shows off another slice of Hurts' epic manifesto. It's one of many high water marks on an accomplished debut.

But wait... There's more. "Verona" is a "hidden" track which wouldn't feel out of place on a Marc Almond album. This short, anthemic song builds from a bare arrangement into a powerhouse of martial drums, mandolins and an operatic chorus of voices. A bit OTT, but its brevity holds it back from being ridiculous. Very lovely.

Interesting to note that the title track was given away through Amazon and really showcases the . It's a booming stomper with a killer chorus which rises and falls before launching into a goosestepping tag with a stern, staccato chant of "We don't need your cheap salvation. We don't need your sympathy." Powerful stuff. Make it your mission to seek it out.

All in all, "Happiness" is quite an achievement. A debut of skyscraper proportions with a beautifully executed - and painfully long - marketing campaign. What started out as enigmatic and curious has evolved into a stylish and solidly strong clutch of songs which should find a good home in many homes. One of the best elpees of 2010.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

model of distinction

Oh, Mr. Ferry! He's a clever chap. With his forthcoming elpee, "Olympia", a little more than a month until its release, he's done the old switcheroo on the sleeve and plonked supermodel Kate Moss right smack in the middle of it.

A marked improvement from the original. There is a feeling of been there done that. But the come hither, siren, diva schtick always works a treat.

I wonder if she got paid in grams?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

double feature

Dance dynamo, Underworld, have revealed the second single from the latest longplayer, "Barking". "Always Loved A Film" is the follow up to the drum n' bass flavored "Scribble".

Not content with creating one sleeve and video for the single, it appears Karl Hyde and Rick Smith have commissioned two of each!

Here's the first set.

Shame. Not a DILF in sight.

And now the second sleeve and video.

Very pastoral and psychedelic. Reminds me of "The Love Parade" by The Dream Academy.

The song takes a more melodic path similar in style to Underworld Mk 1 before their hippy, trippy forays into house and techno. Love the chanty bits they drop into their tracks. I can just imagine the dancefloor masses shouting "heaven" repeatedly with arms akimbo. Where are my glowsticks and hotpants?

Monday, September 6, 2010

glamour zombie thriller

Ms. Marina has returned with "Shampaign", the FIFTH single - count 'em - from her debut longplayer, "The Family Jewels".

She has teased us on Twitter with details of the video. And now, as if by magic, le clip has appeared.

It's a cross between a night on the tiles and an homage to "Thriller". Here's a little tip for Marina. Invest in some waterproof mascara, luv.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

dare to dream

Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of "Dare" by The Human League, a landmark longplayer of epic proportions. Now, nearly ten years after their last elpee, "Secrets", the tracklisting for The Human League’s new album, "Decades", has leaked. However, it isn't clear if the title is correct. Some sources have indicated it isn't.

Ten figures highly for ver League right now. Their latest will be their tenth studio album and is scheduled to be issued on October 10. That's 10.10.10 for those keeping track.

Rumor has it the first single will be "Night People". The first single from their previous album was "All I Ever Wanted".

It might take a while for Oakey and co. to pull their fingers out, but when they do the result is a quite often a cracking tune bristling with electricity. Let's hope they've let their musical ideas marinate in the juices of electronic pop sufficiently enough to provide us with an amazing album.

The tracklisting for their forthcoming longplayer features the following eleven tracks.

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

light years

Watch Kylie glow!

Everyone's favorite, Aussie pop rocket finally revealed the video for "Get Outta My Way", the second single from "Aphrodite".

Epic! It's a good example of a video that looks like it could have been a budget buster, but probably cost much less than you think. A studio, a few designer frocks, a dozen dancers, some chairs, a stylist and some eye popping computer graphic can do the trick very nicely these days without breaking the bank.

If you look closely, you'll see me giving Kylie some jazz hands toward the end.

"Get Outta My Way" hits the "shops" on September 27 in various configurations. Two different CD singles - a two track and a five track - will be made available for those that still prefer their zeros and ones in a physical format. If you're of the downloadable persuasion, a digital bundle will certainly be your aural stimulation of choice. And a useless 7" picture disc will be pressed up for those of you still living in 1983.