Saturday, 29 March 2008

"Eat. My. Shorts."

"You just bought yourself another Saturday" - The Breakfast Club. It's 1985 and there's a room full of teen angst set to a background of Simple Minds and Tears For Fears. But on someone's Walkman, The Cocteau Twins are playing. This is M83 from Antibes and their album nouvelle Saturdays = Youth. Produced by singer Anthony Gonzalez with Ewan Pearson (read my earlier post here) and Ken Thomas (producer of Sigur Ros, Suede, Sugarcubes and even Alien Sex Fiend way back) the album is steeped in the late 80s. Apparently, this was part of the plan, Anthony explains: "That’s when I discovered music and started to take drugs and party with my friends."

It stands to reason that the late 80s are the next to be mined for sounds and influences - I guarantee a revival of big shoulders, hair and fancy fabric - but to equate it with M83's album would only trivialise it. This is an epic record with huge ambitions. The slabs of keyboard chords, fluffy drums and Morgan Kibby's vocals melting with Gonzalez's evoke an era but also sound like tomorrow. Amazing.

Kim & Jessie - M83 (zShare)

We Own the Sky - M83 (zShare)

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Girls Aloud give up their day job

All except Nadine. But then this TV show won't pay as much as the Kit Kat ads, eh Nads? But the others, are more game for a laugh.

The girls each get an episode, and here's Cheryl's, where she trys out as a dancer for a video. Aiming high then love? This is the first of five parts and La Cole is brilliant. As ever.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Cry for you... and the whole of the UK

About time! Known now as 'doing a Robyn' where an act, huge in Scandanavia, gets picked up by radio over here and broken into the UK market via the dance route, Cry For You has made Radio 1's B playlist and daytime DJ Scott Mills is FIZZING over it. 23 year old Petra Marklund, aka September, has been banging her toons out for a few years now and scoring number ones in Sweden, Spain and the US Dance Airplay Chart (vare niche). Like Robyn, she's Swedish, she's the bloggers' favourite and the track picked up by the UK isn't her biggest-selling. Have a listen the Euro-massive Satellites here.
The Sun
go predictably for the 'hot chick' angle.

Any similarities to Robyn and breaking out into the UK market end there. What's interesting is that the single has been released on Ministry of Sound's Hard2Beat, the same label that brought us two of the biggest tunes of the year so far, Basshunter's Now You're Gone and H ‘two’ O's What’s It Gonna Be. They have packaged Cry For You (You’ll Never See Me Again) for their MASSIVE teen audience. And it's a market largely ignored by the mainstream media at the moment. Quietly sucking in the nation's zit-botherers to concert arenas up and down the country is the dance brand Clubland, a multi-platform phenomenon with CD compilations, a TV Channel, a radio station, mobile phone ringtones, podcasts and the huge Clubland Live events. It's glowsticks a-go-go to a boom boom soundtrack provided by Scooter, Cascada and Ultrabeat. One punter, Vicki was delighted at being in the front row: "GOT SPAT ON BY SCOOTER WE WERE THAT CLOSE, LUV IT! DEF B THERE NEXT TIME X".

Hard2Beat is Ministry's answer to Clubland, but both are vying for the same pocket money. I just hope September doesn't get pigeon-holed into the same 'let's ignore it and it might go away' attitude the non-teen arbiters seems to have with the likes of the annoying Basshunter. We shall see.

Here's a track from last year's album Dancing Shoes:

Can't Get Over - September (zShare)

Friday, 21 March 2008

I think I'm electric when I dream of you

Fresh from the silicon chip factory - formed February this year in fact - Ozzie band, Parralox have the beginnings of a proper album appearing on TheirSpace. Electronically Yours, the passionate purveyor of all things electro was the first one at the factory gates. They are a duo consisting of Roxy (keep it one word, baby - it worked for Kylie) and John Von Ahlen (is he the 'Juan' as mentioned on the MySpazz page? Who knows...). The backing tracks are pure pop (definite influences of Human League in there) and with Roxy's great pop vocals, the songs stand up on their own with a potential to break out of cyberspace.

Go to TheirSpace and listen to my two favourites Love With a Drum Machine and We Believe in Electric Love.

The first digital/physical release by the band will be on the Electronically Yours/Undo Records compilation EY Vol. 1 in May, which will also feature Marsheaux, Client and Cassette Electrik.

John Von Ahlen already has another band under his belt. The Tenth Stage are a fine electronic MALE duo who have been around for a couple of years. Catch up with them here on this snazzy website and here for some freebie remix downloads like these two below...

Nobody's Diary (The Tenth Stage Remix) - Yazoo

We Live So Fast (The Tenth Stage e-house Remix) - Heaven 17 (zShare)

Brand new Pet Shop Boys track!

It's only one minute long and available to buy as part of a limited edition fashion & culture magazine Visionaire, a ssssssnnnnniiipppppp at £500. But fuck that elitist shit. You can listen HERE!

Perhaps this new song Transfer is a comment on the price tag: "I deserve a better life, you must agree/I only want a little country house, a dog, a car..." - I KNOW it costs a bomb to produce, but really... £500 for David Byrne, U2, Michael Stipe on there as well? But further listening, and I think it's more a comment on the Mucca/Macca divorce. Guess which role Neil is playing on the song...

Visionaire 53 - Sound is the mag's latest issue. The incarnation of which consists of picture vinyl discs played by a Mini Clubman car. Fab idea, dodgy content, whatevs, looky here. And here for the previous 52 issues...

is also available at the Pet Shop Boys site in Products: Exclusive Tracks (bottom left in Navigation). But, for the LONGER REMIX which someone has ever so helpfully spliced together, go here.

Illustration by Jamie McKelvie 2008

Thursday, 20 March 2008

You broke your notes...

Over on the ever de-gorgeous PopMuse I came across this little nugget he broke off an Icelandic glacier and offered to the world. By the brilliantly monickered band, FM Belfast, it's a sweet pop gem about a broken keyboard. A synth to be precise. Synthia is licky-licious with a gorgeous Annie-type melody over a boombox beat.

Synthia - FM Belfast

They formed in 2005 as a duo with Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson(Plúseinn) and Lóa Hlín Hjálmtýsdóttir - so obviously copied and pasted there - and now go all the way up to eight bods on stage depending on who's up for it. Iceland Airwaves Music Festival has a profile here.

And for some reason, the first time I heard Synthia I sang Shalamar's Make That Move over it in my lil' ole music-sozzled brain.

Make That Move - Shalamar (zShare)

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Retro to retro

Picture the scene: you're stepping out in black plimsolls, white terry towelling socks and super faded skinny jeans. You're wearing a tight white tee with a small faded denim jacket, hoodie and a navvy's woollen hat. Your hair is buzz cut to a number one, short back 'n' sides and with a wavy quiff tucked onto the hat save for a sexy kiss curl poking out. It's the early 80s and your world smells of Kouros aftershave and Pickled Onion Monster Munch.

With the marvelous Ashes to Ashes on TV (see pic above and vid below) and analogue synths being de rigeur, everything's gone retro (again) for a few weeks and I luvs it.

I Lust U - Neon Neon
- Gruff Rhys (CandyLion album) and dance meister Boom Bip.

Divine - Sebastian Tellier (zShare)
- The French Eurovision entry (!!) from the house music leg end (produced by a Daft Punk).

Number One - Pacific! (zShare)
- See my previous post about these Swedish hipsters.

Pump - Palermo Disko Machine (zShare)
- From the I Ragazzi dell 1982 EP from last year. Some bumping nonsense from drug-fucked Sicilians "And I can't hold myself when the DJ's pumping up the volume like THIS!"

Don't Go (12" Mix) - Yazoo (zShare)
- The genuine article.

The Ashes to Ashes trailer...

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

FREE! Hercules and Love Affair!

The Hercules and Love Affair UK invasion is at full pelt this week. To herald the album's arrival, British iTunes has made the first track, Time Will, available for download this week. But, shhhh. You can get it below! It's another Antony Hegarty spesh.

Time Will - Hercules and Love Affair (zShare)

The eponymous album is available everywhere, but take time out to go to iTunes and listen to my favourites You Belong, Iris and Raise Me Up. The reviews aren't wrong. It's clear Yazoo and early disco figure heavily, but there's also a gorgeous deep house influence, especially on You Belong - doesn't singer Nomi sound like Boy George? The throbbing bass and echoing chord stabs wouldn't be amiss at Voodoo upstairs in the Mardis, Liverpool, early '90s: low ceilings, sweat dripping, strobe on overload, air thick with dry ice and people off their fucking nuts.

And here are a few of those mood-enhancing Voodoo tracks which H&LA clearly had in the back of their minds...

Some Lovin' - Liberty City (Danny Tenaglia)

Amber Groove - SAS (zShare)

Bump and Grind - Puro Sesso

Go also to previous H&LA posts here and here.

**UPDATE** Go to Popjustice for a luvverly little interview... not here - 'cos that's news about tours and shizzle, but here.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

The boy with the Thorn on his side

Other than Ben Watt, this is the man Tracey Thorn spends a lot of time with. In the studio that is. Ewan Pearson, aka amongst other pseudonyms, Dirtbox, produced Tracey's Out of the Woods album and has just been recording new stuff with her. He's one of those musicians with lots of slashes in his job title: musician/remixer/DJ/producer. I've dipped in and out of his music over the years, sometimes without knowing it was the same person behind it. But La Thorn has helped tie up all those loose ends.

For a start, I didn't realise he was behind a dance act called Maas from about ten years ago - I always thought they were some faceless Dutch act or something. Another Saturday Night (listen/buy here at iTunes) is a gorgeous tune which seems very of its time listening back now. It was always popping up in a mate's set. He got everyone into it at many a sweaty house party. The Chicane-like album Latitude is worth a listen too.

As a remix whore, sometimes there are mixes that are quite obviously for the moolah, but looking at Ewan's vare long list here, the biggest names sit easy in his canon, like he's chosen HIS kind of music: Depeche Mode's Enjoy the Silence, Pet Shop Boys' Psychological, a couple of Goldfrapp and even Franz Ferdinand. With American folksy musician, Cortney Tidwell (great name) he's brought out the Icelandic in her. The remix (download below) for the beautiful Don't Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up is how Bjork needs to sound now.

As Ewan says: “The only thing that matters is doing stuff that you care about and you can be proud of. Ultimately, if it got to the point where I was either playing records or making records that I hated, I’d stop. I’d rather be a postman.”

Over on HisSpace here is the new single Telescope by Partial Arts, his current nom de plume as an ongoing project with Al Usher. It's such a lush sound, like velvet on the ears and quietly funky. Another example below, the previous single, Trauermusik, is equally as gorgeous.

It's interesting to find out how long it's taken for him to get where he is now: “I initially just wanted to produce and I didn’t ever imagine that I’d be an artist particularly, the whole reason I started was just to learn how to do it. Some people are trained musically or they are in bands, with me I’d just had this idea from childhood that I had to work out how to produce music. And it’s only recently that I have actually realised I’m now doing exactly what I hoped I would be doing, seventeen years ago. I’ve produced eight tracks of Rapture and half of the new Tracey Thorn album and more stuff to come this year [2007]. It’s taken a while, but it’s been great.”

Train (Ewan Pearson 6/8 Vocal) - Goldfrapp (zShare)

Shiver (Ewan's Bari Girl Remix) - Silver City

Trauermusik - Partial Arts (zShare)

Don't Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up (Ewan Pearson Remix) - Cortney Tidwell (zShare)

Go here
for an in depth interview from last year on Higher Frequency, where he talks about worrying that his stuff is rubbish and then finding out Neil Tennant has exactly the same feelings.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Slave to their charms

A random MySpace friend request and up popped this Danish band. I usually get Candy, 20, Alabahama, who "loves lollipops and fucking" or I get nosebleed techno geeks with a 'z' in their name. But this new-ish group, Kind of Girl, (new to the UK with their first release here this month) are a refreshing change.

Hailing from Copenhagen, this five-piece have a lovely ear for melody and some gorgeous radio-friendly songs - some 198 stations worldwide to be precise, including, I see on their biog, a UK station called Radio Nowhere!! The female vocalist, Sissel, writes all the songs and has a really sweet, ethereal voice. I like the big harmony-laden choruses too. There's apparently an album, Lonely in a Modern Way, on the way...

Slave to Your Charms - Kind of Girl (zShare)

Poetry Boy - Kind of Girl

Go to TheirSpace to hear another luverly track called You Can't Save Me with another big chorus.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

An Hour of Bliss and Many Hours of Sadness

This COULD be the title of Tracey Thorn's new album for '08, according to her latest blog. When reading out chapter headings in Thomas Hardy's Return of the Native as if they were Morrissey song titles (very true, especially He Is Set Upon by Adversities, But He Sings a Song), it was the last one, An Hour of Bliss and Many Hours of Sadness which Ewan Pearson, her producer, said summed up her entire songwriting career. And that tickled Tracey so much she may just use it.

Musically, the album "won't be heading for the dancefloor". Whatevs. La Thorn could sing on a death metal record and I'd still buy it. It's also her intention to be a lot more prolific with her musical output. She got all fired up by the creative success of last year's Out of the Woods, "I love being in the studio, and writing songs, and tinkering about with arrangement ideas, and singing the backing vocals late at night". Going through a "'Berlin period', whatever that means" whilst recording with Ewan (pictured left), she says the record is "taking some kind of shape". It's great that she also seems to be keeping her promise of being more prolific and keeping fans up to date with the comings and going: "I will try not to disappear again for seven years or so without so much as a by your leave". Cheers, Trace!

Until the new material, here's a couple of fab remixes to keep you going.

King's Cross (Hot Chip Remix)
- Tracey Thorn (zShare)
- this is more like a brand new cover of the original cover of the PSB track; an amazing effort by Hot Chip.

It's All True (Escort Remix) - Tracey Thorn (zShare)
- for all of Escort's retro sound, they actually give this track an Everything But the Girl makeover. It's Watt Ben would have wanted: meaty, beaty, big and bouncy.

Go to HerSpace for a too-cute drawing by Jean Watt (aged 9) of her mum.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

I bump for a buck

I remember this track, Male Stripper by Man2Man with legendary NYC DJ Man Parrish, being huge here in the heady spring of 1987. In the minds of most of the UK who made the record a number 4 hit, the vocalist could have been a Chippendale singing "I was a male stripper in a go-go bar". It was a club track turned party record, and weirdly, one of those wedding party records to boot; a million miles away from its gay Hi-NRG roots. Go over to Retroland NOW for the long and the short of it (radio and club mp3 downloads!).

Years later in 2002 I found myself in The Cock in New York. As you do. And it quickly became my favourite place lemme tells ya, but picture the scene: it was a Sunday night and Man Parrish was DJaying. The crowd seemed a bit nonplussed but I was doing imaginary cartwheels around the room. I couldn't believe it. There was the creator of one of my seminal tracks. I did what I hardly ever do and went up to him. But because I was a bit pissed I ACTUALLY started singing. Yes. The. Shame. Of. It. "Strip for me babe, strip for you. Strip for me 'cos I want you to". And bless him, he asked politely, "Are you English? 'Cos all you guys do that to me."

And here's the vid of brothers Miki and Paul Zone aka Man2Man, looking like they ram-raided CloneZone!

Tips in G-string make my living!

And I've always said these two were too clone-like to be straight!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Only the crumbliest, flakiest... Watch this.

Oh. Dear.

Joss, love. There's no 'l' in 'crumbliest' or 'flakiest'.

Only saying.

Brighton rocks (but gently)...

Neil Tennant is performing solo! Well not really. He's gassing about all things Pet Shop Boys with writer and cultural commentator Michael Bracewell as part of this year's Brighton Festival. Saturday 17th May will see the erudite singer at The Corn Exchange. To book tickets, go here. You'll need to go to the home page though to register as a 'complimentary friend'. They want your life!

But what's going on in the Pet Shop Boy's world at the moment? Over to the website:
"Chris and Neil have been writing new songs for much of this year and will continue until they feel they have enough songs for a new album. The writing sessions have proved very fertile with, so far, seven new songs being completed. Some of the songs they wrote early last year are also likely to feature on the album. Meetings with potential producers are already being lined up for March. The release date for the new album will probably be early 2009.

Pet Shop Boys have also been sketching musical ideas for their ballet which is still under discussion with Sadlers Wells theatre in London."

Tuesday, 4 March 2008


Well, not quite. But here's my favourite egghead, Moby. He's articulate and opinionated in a very non-aggressive way. So why does he think everyone hates him? Apparently it's the same part of the brain that adds "is a whore" to Lindsay Lohan's name. He's cute! He's funny! What's not to love? ("The music!" everyone shouts back).

In this interview in The Guardian, he also bemoans the fact that everyone thinks he's a boring sober Christian when really, he's a drug-fucked sex addict. At least it's a different schtick to hang, what is actually, a very entertaining read. He's also has some very sage words about poor Britters.


My favourite OAP, after my nana, of course, is Mrs Merton - rewind to this older post - Caroline Aherne's polite, but fucking rude 1990s creation. Each sweet question from the lips of the dear old dear was laced with arsenic. And only a dear old dear could be as brutally honest.

To magician, Paul Daniel's wife, Debbie McGee: “What was it that first attracted you to millionaire Paul Daniels? / I think of you both as our version of David Copperfield and Claudia Schiffer, but you know, on a lower budget”

To Germaine Greer: “You were a right old slapper in the seventies, weren't you?”

To Babs Windsor: "That's what I love about you Barbara; you're one of us... You're like a big film star, but you're still common as muck!"

The old cow has a new DVD out. At last, all 5 series of The Mrs Merton Show are together and found here.

And here is that Debbie McGee classic opener:


Marc Almond in stinking review shock! Eamon Sweeney has written this bad review, and it is BAD. Shocking in fact. With a Wikipedia first half he then incorrectly describes the set as mainly covers - the setlist is three-quarters Almond-penned. He finishes his diatribe with a sour flourish. Hey ho.

Here's a PROPER review.


Is everyone OK? Carmit Bachar has QUIT the Pussycat Dolls. Now I know this will come as a shock to many of you. I'm inconsolable myself and will probably take tomorrow off work. It's feels just like when the printer broke down. I had to take a day off for that too.

*UPDATE* - just noticed Marc and Carmit could be sisters!


I'm feeling completely "And?" about the new Annie single. Girlfriend sounds like Chewing Gum part 27 to me. I can never hear the chorus in her songs and I can't be the only one who thinks the melodies are stuck in the same three notes. Listen for yourself here.


Click on the piccy to make it biggy for Paris Fashion Week's most extra-extravagant show. Chanel's haute couture merry-go-round with old hobby horse herself, Karl Lagerfeld centre stage managed to outdo even annual Pantomime Galliano for Dior.

Great image. Kind of hides the fact the designs are a bit shabby and boring. Eek!

The best? D&G's HRH chic!

Read Style's Claudia Croft here.


And finally, this is what happens to runners up on X Factor. They lose a stylist but gain a legion of fan with this self-styled Nana look. Rhydian may actually be bald under there, but then again, who cares?

Monday, 3 March 2008

The Prince of Electro-Soul

At least, that's the title bestowed on Sam Sparro in this month's Attitude magazine - CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO MAKE IT BIGGER. In an introductory featurette, Sam explains his love for Dame Shirley Bassey (natch): "I like people that have a strong identity both musically and visually: ecccentric people like Shirley Bassey and Bjork who are just really, severely [what?!!!] themselves. I love Beth Ditto becasue she's just like, "Fuck it, I'm going to take my clothes off!". I don't feel silly being ridiculous on stage because it seems like what you should be doing."

And like most, young, gay artists his sexuality doesn't really figure in the music:" Being gay isn't something that I think about any more." Which is fair enough, but please don't go down the Mika route and cut your dick off despite your leanings!

Can't WAIT to see what happens with the new single Black and Gold, which everyone has been (to coin a phrase from a well-known blogger) fizzing at the gash about.

HisSpace clicky here!

Also in this month's ish is a candid interview with Dan Gillespie Sells. He was a right old mixed bag of emotions for years... Bless his shy little cottons.