Thursday, January 26, 2012

tonight, tonight, tonight

Has it really been seven years since the might Saint Etienne have released a studio album? Well, Bob, Pete and Sarah are about to return from the wilderness and have treated their loyal following to the release of "Tonight", their brand new single, or "impact track" as an increasingly cold and loveless industry likes to call it these days.

"Tonight" was produced by Tim Powell who twiddled the knobs for "Together" by Pet Shop Boys and worked deep inside the Xenomania compound for years. It also benefits from being mixed by Richard X who lovingly sprinkles some electronic fairy dust across the track. It's a jaunty, little number that sounds like the perfect follow up to "Method Of Modern Love", the single plucked from "London Conversations: The Best Of Saint Etienne", their most recent career retrospective released way back in 2009.

Bob Stanley describes "Tonight" as being about "the anticipation of going to see your favourite group. For some reason, I imagine this show is at the Forum in Kentish Town. The whole album is about the power of pop, how it affects and shapes your life." And their you have it!

The song has all the hallmarks of a great Saint Etienne single. There's a sense of uplifting melancholy which beautifully compliments the descriptive lyrics and thumping, rhythmic undercarriage. It's all topped off with the Cracknell coo. Truly special!

"I've Got Your Music" will the first official single from "Words And Music By Saint Etienne", only their eighth studio album in a two decade career. It will be available shortly before the new longplayer hits the "shops" in May. Huzzah!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

wired for sound

Hue And Cry, the brotherly duo of Pat and Greg Kane, have always been one of my favorites. They returned to the pop fray in 2008 with "Open Soul".

Now, they follow up that longplayer with "Hot Wire", their 13th studio album on March 19. A week earlier, they will issue "Duty To The Debtor", the first funky single from the elpee. And they've just lensed a video for the track.

Full on Crescent City soul with a splash of Stevie Wonder and a dash of Sly And The Family Stone. I swear I can hear Allen Toussaint weaving his magic inside the grooves. The boys have even managed to slide in an old school New Orleans style brass band toward the end. Just my cup of java!

The official tracklisting for "Hot Wire" includes the following ten tracks.

1. Duty To The Debtor
2. Little Man
3. Hand And Heart
4. Fail You Better
5. If You Want Changes
6. Summer Head/Daze
7. Carlos Takes The Fall
8. I Can Have It All
9. Irreversible Situation
10. Darkness Falls

If you're a obsessive fan like I am, then you will wanna splash some cash on the deluxe edition collector's box set which comes with loadsastuff! Limited to 1,000 copies, this unique collection includes "Hot Wire" on a gold coated CD and heavyweight vinyl in addition to two bonus tracks including "Tell Me" and "The Thing Is...". Plus, a CD single of "Duty To The Debtor", with an edited and remixed version of the track, will feature among all the bonus goodies.

Pat and Greg have even managed to put together a DVD featuring a video documentary which gives a unique insight into the process of producing an album including the writing, recording and mixing of the music as well as the creation of the artwork for the packaging.

As if that wasn't enough to tempt fans into purchasing the deluxified edition of "Hot Wire", H&C have included the official promotional video for the "Duty To The Debtor" with a special 5.1 remix of the track. In addition, there is a fly on the wall feature of the song being recorded featuring an interactive multi angle experience where the viewer can choose what to watch. The DVD ties up nicely with a personal video message from the band. These guys know how to please their fans!

Rounding out the ultimate collector's set are a booklet of song lyrics, lithographic print, keyring, bumper sticker, badge and a certificate of authenticity hand signed by the boys. They've putted out all the stops! Get yours now before they're gone!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

a little more love

Every once in a while, an inspired remix brings life back into a classic or a forgotten gem. This year, I'm putting cash money on a reworking of a long, lost single by one of the UK's finest blue eyed soul singers of the female variety. Step up Lulu! She's back, back, back!

After nearly 50 years since her first single, "Shout", Lulu is about to storm the dancefloors and, hopefully, the charts. Production team, The Knievels, have reswizzled "Love Loves To Love Love", her single from 1967 which only limped to a paltry #32 on the UK chart.

Here's the blazing original.

Not sure why it wasn't a bigger hit first time around. And now, here's the newly remixed version by The Knievels.

Magic! Reminds me a bit of treatment Junkie XL did on "A Little Less Conversation" which became a hit for Elvis Presley in 2002 after it barely scrapped into the US singles chart at #69 in 1968. Amazing what a little dance loop, some perfectly placed synths and a little fairy dust can do for record.

As a young marketing manager at EMI in the 90s, I had the opportunity to work with Lulu when she released "Independence" in 1993 which just missed the top 10 of the UK singles chart when it peaked at #11.

One of my favorite singles from Lulu's 90s repertoire was released the following year after she hit the top spot with Take That on their rendition of "Relight My Fire". "Goodbye Baby And Amen" only peaked at #51 in the UK singles chart, but I loved it and did my best to issue it in the US without luck.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

the next step

Promotion for Emeli Sandé's debut longplayer, "Our Version Of Events", is in full swing. "Next To Me", the third single lifted from the elpee, has just dropped. And to mark its release, Emeli has lensed a video for it.

This time around, it's a more subdued affair. No gritty street scenes in London or Los Angeles. The video was shot in an empty warehouse and Emeli's bleached quiff gets full attention.

Another magnificent single. It kinda falls in Cee-Lo Green territory, which is not a bad thing. After all, who doesn't like a sprinkling of retro R&B in their day? My only complaint about "Next To Me" is something most people won't be bothered by. I think her vocal is swimming in too much reverb. I think a drier, more organic treatment would've suited her voice and the track much better. Splitting hairs, I suppose.

There is a lot of promise for Emeli. I'm really looking forward to hearing the entire album. Word on the street is that it leans heavily on ballads which would be a shame considering the way her first three singles have positioned her.

Turns out Emile's first name is Adele. What are the chances? Can you imagine the discussions about that at the label? The execs must have been falling all over each other in a panic. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall at those meetings.

Friday, January 6, 2012

all you need is now

I adore the worldwide web. Where else can you opine, spew your blatherings and be recognized for your innermost thoughts being blurted out in a public forum?

Having been a busy bee, I haven't properly announced and reviewed my fave raves of 2011. So, I've decided to place my top ten albums of last year in alphabetical order, on their own, without commentary. Over the next few days, I will expand this entry to include my ramblings on each one. I know you're quivering in anticipation.

It was a year of near drought for pop music elpees. We are back to the Sixties! The single is king. The year fluctuated between anemia and euphoria. There would be a purple patch of longplayers and then an extended dearth of material punctuated by a fun, effervescent, standout track. 2011 was inconsistent at best.

Without further delay, let me introduce you to my ten favorite longplayers of 2011.

CocknBullKid - Adulthood
Duran Duran - All You Need Is Now
Erasure - Tomorrow's World
Foster The People - Torches
Darren Hayes - Secret Codes And Battleships
Penguin Prison - Penguin Prison
Roxette - Charm School
Sneaky Sound System - From Here To Anywhere
Will Young - Echoes
Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia

Honorable mentions include "Panic Of Girls" by Blondie, "50 Words For Snow" by Kate Bush" and "Credo" by The Human League.

Lavish them with praise. Roll your eyes in disgust. Whatever you do, please do it with equal parts passion and dignity! Roll on 2012!