Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Going anywhere nice this year?

When I was in Spain in June, this was all over the radio and music TV channels like a bad case of prickly heat. Weirdly I was watching German MTV at the time. Kate Ryan with her Ella Elle L'a seemed a bit premature; a bit TOO holi-holiday - we hadn't cracked open the P20 and were as pasty as milk. Now though, it's the perfect holiday fromage - complete with bad dancing in the charter flight aisle at 0:35 - and a bona fide hit all over Europeland. The UK remains stubbornly impervious to foreign language Euro hits though so it ain't going to get clearance for landing on this side of the Channel in a hurry.

Kate Ryan, despite the name, is actually Belgian and she's been a staple in the Euro charts for years since her biggest hit Désenchantée. Have a listen to her English language album Alive from a couple of years ago here which features Je T'Adore, the (quite brilliant) Eurovision shock flop.

Anyhoo, back to the song. Kate's version belies the fact it's actually about... Ella Fitzgerald! Hence the missing comma. If Ella, Elle L'a (to reinstate said comma) seems familiar, it's because a singer called France Gall (the French Petula Clark) had the original hit back in 1987. Have a look at the video here. Like Kate's cover of Voyage Voyage, the song was trés grande en France reaching number 2 and spending four months in the Top 50. The choice is yours. Which do you prefer?

Ella Elle L'a - Kate Ryan (zShare)

Ella, Elle L'a - France Gall (zShare)

Monday, 28 July 2008

I'm in love with a drum machine

A Linn Drum to be precise. And it's all over the debut album of Ozzie synth duo Parralox. I first wrote about them in March when they were in the first stages of compiling a collection of tracks by recording one a week. That collection is due to released as the album Electricity next month and judging by the solid tracks on their MySpace it's going to be a stonker. John and Roxy have come up with an amazingly catchy electro pop sound, very radio-friendly and sounding like a cross between Girls Aloud and The Human League.

The League was an early influence on the techy John Von Ahlen, in an interview with Electronically Yours he explains: "The Human League's song The Things That Dreams Are Made Of made me think "I want to do that for a job". It was early December in 1981 when I heard that song on a Saturday afternoon and my mind was completely blown away. I was already a mad electronics and sci-fi fan and grew up on Doctor Who, Blake's 7, Lost In Space etc and then I heard this electronic noise coming from the radio and was spellbound. Something inside me connected with the clinical precision of this music. It was the perfect combination of great song writing and great production and I soon started to immerse myself in electronic music. And I haven't stopped". The full interview can be found here - scroll down to 11 June (there's also a great interview with very lapsidaisical Marsheaux!)

There's definitely something in the water in Australia at the mo'. The likes of The Presets, Cut Copy, Midnight Juggernauts and Antigone have all blossomed this year; and now we have Parralox. Oz-tastic.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Finally! Antigone! Video!

And here it is in all it's cheapo technicolour, More Man Than Man. Go here for a clickable to all the digital stores.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Finally! Alphabeat!

Alphabeat, the band who warrant an exclamation mark at the end of every sentence, kind of passed me by - which over the past few months has been difficult when they're everywhere! But Paulie Z got me into this remix of the current single Boyfriend and it's become my remix of the summer in an INSTANT! It's so SUMMERY! It's so BOUNCY! The piano is very housey housey circa 1991 and there's a keyboard riff straight off Finally! Bona!

Boyfriend (Easy remix) - Alphabeat (YouSendIt mp3)

Sunday, 20 July 2008

More more more!

That luvverly Antigone has gone and got released all over the shop. More Man Than Man is already a staple on Gaydar Radio (natch) and seems to be riding high in an actual chart! Look here, she's at number seven!! It would be amazing if the track was playlisted on mainstream radio. If only she could sneak in through the back door of Radio 1 in a DJ's bag like Robyn did with Jo Whiley and Pete Tong. Someone like Scott Mills would LOVE it (again, natch). Get in touch with him here...

Buy it here at iTunes

Guilty pleasures: I'm looking for a new direction

Picture the scene: it's a friendly but past-it gay club called The Spiral in the eastend and there's a stick-thin gonk sniffing poppers and dancing to... eek! S Club Juniors! Yes, a thirty-something man on drugs is in rapture to a song by ten year olds. What's going on?

Well, these records couldn't be more fucking gay if they tried. If there was a definition of drug-fucked Disney, then S Club Juniors, sorry, 8, would be it - just try Rush. And New Directions sounds like their parents doing club-sexy; which makes the whole concept feel slightly weeeeird. Good job they're all grown-up now. Five years on though and with some distance, these songs are, actually, AMAY-ZING. Have a listen...

New Directions - S Club 8 (zShare)

Fool No More - S Club 8 (zShare)

Sundown - S Club 8 (zShare)

Rush - S Club 8 (zShare)

Turn the Lights On - S Club 8

Guilty pleasures: is it a crazy notion?

There was something about a sweaty Mark King and his frenetic bass that spoke volumes. He always looked like he was having a fucking great time. And so did the
rest of Level 42. What drugs were they on? Have a look at this video for Hot Water.

In 1983, New Order's Blue Monday could rub up against the Human League's (Keep Feeling) Fascination and The Cure could sit easily with Bananarama. It was easy to be loved by everyone... so where were Level 42? Nowhere trendy, that's for sure. But their tracks were amazing! The Sun Goes Down and The Chinese Way helped define that year as a monumental year in pop. And three years later they exploded as the masses around the world took them to their hearts.

Mark King went up in my estimation for agreeing to plug my friend's band, Cartoon on TV. We were at The Tube and we gave him their button badge. Without any question he hooked it onto his bass guitar strap. Worra lovely bloke.

The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) - Level 42 (zShare)

The Chinese Way - Level 42 (zShare)

Lessons In Love - Level 42

Something About You - Level 42 (zShare)

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Guilty pleasures: one in a million, my fantasy come true

Romford in Essex has really only ever had five things going for it, namely, Denise, Doris, Lorraine, Stedman and Delroy Pearson. Now, I was too cool for school to like Britain's equivalent of the Jacksons, but secretly I knew all the words to every one of their 15 UK Top 40 hits - and six of them were from one album alone, Silk and Steel. Five Star were a veritable hit factory and because of that, much under rated. Jemboy, that fantastic 80s music blog, has nearly ALL of their output... go now to HERE.

It's easy to pick up on the bigger downfall stories that define such firework bands, like Stedman's arrest in the Victoria Station toilets, the Going Live live phone-in thing and the family bankruptcy, but everyone forgets how clever the band were at producing proper hits. Their sound was of the moment (very Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis) but at the heart were bona fide songs. Here are my favourite five...

Rain or Shine - Five Star

Treat Me Like a Lady - Five Star (zShare)

There's a Brand New World - Five Star

Stay Out of My Life - Five Star (zShare)

Whenever You're Ready - Five Star

And here's the last shot from 2003 where Stedman seems to have become Lorraine and Delroy in their absence.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

"Sell out Wembley? Lol. Man, that would be sick!"

The fabulous new singer, Jessie, a gem do1frood uncovered and whom I've been listening to relentlessly for a couple of weeks, has a single scheduled for release. Sexy/Silk will be out in September or October on Gut Records. Go here for previous posts and below, let Jessie introduce herself, with a short but sweet Q&A I gave her.

In a random web search for more info, I came across a piece about you winning a national competition as Young Pop Singer fo the Year for CBBC. This was a national comp so it's an amazing achievement. How do you look back on it and what made you enter in the first place?
"I did win a competition when I was 15 on a programme called Britain's Brilliant Prodigies, like Pop Idol for under 16s. I auditioned through an agency I was with at the time and didn't really think anything of it but when I won I was so ridiculously excited. Since then that I've thought "Wow, maybe I could make my hobby my career." It opened my eyes and I haven't looked back."

How would you describe your music and your voice to people listening to your stuff for the first time?

"I would describe my music as versatile but positive. My training is musical theatre so I naturally love to create characters and scenarios. My music is a showcase of that and my voice is the same, I love a pop ballad but I also love rap. I'd like to think my music has no limits in genre or risk."

In your blog, you described the writing process you've been going through for the debut album. What's it like, and do you enjoy collaborating?
"I had never written before last March when I signed to Gut Records, so the writing process has been an amazing journey for me. It's given me an opportunity to express myself and to communicate through my songs. I've co-written and loved learning the different and quirky ways each person has. I've also found my own writing style, working with known and new producers and just enjoying it. The most important thing about writing is enjoying it, however painful it is with some of the more personal stuff."

Performing music and recording songs are very diferent animals. Which do you prefer?
"Wow, that's a tough one as my performing only happens because of the songs I write. Truth be known, I love them both, however I suppose the buzz of being on stage and knowing people want to listen to what you have to say is humbling. I don't think anything could top that! I come alive on stage, the more uncomfortable I feel by the pressure of the occasion the more I want to rise to the challenge."

You went to the Brit School which is a real hotbed of talent. What was your time like there and want do you think of your fellow pupils who've succeeded?
"I did attend the Brit school, I studied Musical Theatre rather a straight music course which most of the successful Brit school pupils did. However, it's an amazing school with lots of opportunity and I can only be proud and respectful of those who have succeeded in their personal goals in music."

What are your goals?
"1. To be a consistent positive role model in the industry.
2. To take inspiration from my life experiences for my music
3. Make amazing music that will stand the test of time.
4. Have fun, laugh lots and never take myself too seriously.
5. Sell out Wembley? Lol. Had to add that on. Man, that would be sick!"

Go here for Jessie's MySpace.

Monday, 14 July 2008

"Christopher. Not Madonna's brother"

I love this shot from the glossy pages (the ones that drop out leaf by sodding leaf) of Christopher Ciccone's kiss 'n' smell, Life With My Evil Snatch Sister I Wish Her Dead Madonna. Like the biggest one-sided rant in the world, here are all the extracts you need. The photo above, taken by Chris at the start of her über-slut period in 1990, is her drag queen version of Patsy. It could be right out of the portfolio she's showing to every porn director in San Fernando - the way the cheap nightie rides up a leg covered in suspect pole burns is priceless.

Here are the bro' and sis' in happier times, (circa 1937).

BTW - from the comments section: "She just may be put off because he acts like a servant, not that she wants him to. It's hard to feel intimate with a servant."


Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner

Strike a light, Guv. Up the apples and pears, stick on a pair o' Lionels and troll over to Digital Spy where Adele talks about loving London town. It's because her new/old record (aren't they all these days), the MARVELOUS Hometown Glory is out again. I always thought this was a very autumnal record so it's a bit weird hearing it blasting on the radio during our week of summer sunshine... Adele also goes on to describe her recent US jaunt where she near shit herself on The Today Show. Now that WOULD have been nice at 7am.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

You can stand under my umbrella

Jessie @ Soho Revue Bar, London, Weds 9th July 2008

It rained for 24 hours before last night's gig. 24 hours!! It wasn't just a drizzle, but from sun up to sun down, it was a relentless sheet of London downpour. And standing in the queue that never moved outside a club that hadn't a clue, it was a blessed relief to actually get inside. And then the sun came out. With a voice that would dry sodden Vans and skinny jeans, Jessie lit up the room.

I came across Jessie and her songs a couple of weeks ago and was dumbstruck. She's a legit talent with an enviable roster of tracks, (go over to HerSpace now...), so it was going to be interesting to see her perform live. Supporting the soul/pop voice of the moment, Bryn Christopher (he's just too good, due his own post), Jessie held her own. Stage presence? Check. Electrifying? Check. Warmth? In abundance. And the recorded work is just another side to her. Live, she's a cracking performer. Admittedly, three songs were accoustic and two had a backing track, but there wasn't any difference. It was all about the song and the voice. Sexy Silk just sounds like a big fat hit and the accoustic version of Technology brought it a new intimacy.

Jessie's exciting. There's a real promise of something amazing happening to her. And it seems like she's got the right backing: it's nurturing rather than exploitative.

Anyhoo, here's Jessie's guide to getting ready for a gig:

1. You'll get nowhere without dental hygiene, so get those gnashers brushed

2. Lippy to help leave your mark on the mic

3. A liddle spritz of St-St-Studio Line and the hair becomes a helmet (for safety in case you fall off stage)

4. Accessorise with sunnies to protect against Cybershot flashes and READY!!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Adam and Joe, actually

Copying the iconic image of the Pet Shop Boys' Actually cover, the vare lovely Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish have just released a collection of their BBC Radio 6 show's Song Wars tracks - where they compete with each other to write a funny song. The radio show is fab, but the Channel 4 series, The Adam and Joe Show, which aired for four series between 1996 and 2001 was better. Why? Because we got to SEE them. Well. Adam to be precise. Sozz Joe!

Who can forget him always looking shaggable in those shorts and that cute sailor's hat. Even now with the grown-up beard, he still looks vare sexy. Their 'schtick' was a faux naive style, which cleverly, never slipped. And brilliantly conceived stuff like the toy versions of blockbuster movies like Toytanic, Showtoys and Toy Trainspotting. The hilairious Star Wars in Their Eyes sees R2D2 and C3PO appear as the Pet Shop Droids. Here they are - as themselves - with a guide to gig-going etiquette, and isn't that Sarah Cracknell near the end telling Adam to fuck off?

Here's another gratuitous (recent) shot of Adam in shorts at work recording the Radio Show.

Go to TheirSpace here and here for the radio show.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Images of the weekend

At the O2 Wireless Festival in Hyde Park, London, Roisin and her understated sartorial elegance could teach Sam Sparro a thing or two...

...he's getting there with this "My first stage outfit" effort. The inspiration was obvious.

"Just because I'm rich, doesn't mean I'm a bitch"

Here's Ja'mie King the queen of schoolgirl bitches. She's a private school student on an exchange programme to the public school Summer Heights High. Only 4 episodes in and this Australian comedy has turned out to be classic TV. Airing on Tuesday nights on BBC Three, Chris Lilley, a 33 year old bloke, plays the three main characters, the aforementioned 16 year old Ja'mie, gay drama teacher Mr G. and the teen delinquent, Jonah Takalua. Summer Heights High , shot in mockumentary style, is brilliantly observed. Like Catherine Tate, part of its appeal lies in the fact that we're watching an adult in their mid-thirties playing teenagers - that scene where Ja'mie flirts with a 13 year old boy is wrong on so many levels!

Friday, 4 July 2008

The (tiny) Feeling

The Feeling do look cute in the glove department. I loves the dancers giving it (tiny) large below...

New Girls Aloud tracks... already!

Heatworld's headline on their Sarah Harding story was how she has given up men after finishing with her "DJ" boyfriend, Tom Crane. Sounding world-weary and partied out: "I'm thinking of seeing the world, you know travelling for a bit just to reflect and clear my head", - love, just lay off the booze and swap the coke for Vicks Sinex for a week; that usually does the trick - she then goes on to reveal all about some new Girls Aloud material. "I'm really excited about the new Girls Aloud album", she trilled. "We're going to start recording it next week. We're writing songs at the moment."

Surely THAT'S the bigger news. New GA Music?!? Bloody hell. It doesn't seem like five minutes since the last album, Tangled Up. And where was Girl Overboard as a single?

Mind you, if they're moving into Xenomania's studio next week, that means the Pet Shop Boys have just moved out. They've been at Camp Xeno for a few weeks now, apparently being "worked really hard" by the hitmaking production team.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Hurricane Grace

Twenty Years after her last album, Grace Jones pulls her finger out and releases a brand new one, Hurricane, on October 27. Produced by her Viscount boyfriend, Ivor Guest and featuring Brian Eno and Sly and Robbie, Grace said of her new release: "Grrrrrrrrrr".

The new songs were showcased at the recent tour de force gig at the Royal Festival Hall and were a fantastic return to form. This is Life, a fierce new track, is currently *ahem* doing the rounds. She begins the track with the line: "This is my voice, my weapon of choice" and thereby sums up the whole Grace Jones 'tude.

And here she is getting it on with Adam Ant in an 80s ad for Honda motorbikes. I bet they really did do the do after filming.