Saturday, 31 May 2008

Driving away from home

I'm off on holiday again, this time to southern Spain starting off in Seville. We're driving around the coast and back up to Granada. It'll be shit. Really. It'll be awful.

*does little skip downstairs with suitcase*

But there are a few huge posts, chockerblock with goodness, already lovingly prepared ready to go over the next couple of weeks.

España, por favor!

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Neil Tennant in conversation

A couple of weeks ago I ventured down to Brighton, with some trepidation to coin a Pet Shop Boys lyric, to see Neil Tennant in conversation with writer Michael Bracewell. I say trepidation because I always have a hard time with Brighton. The weather is always that annoying drizzle and everywhere smells of old drains. Pee-uw!

But the event above, at the very municipal surrounds of the Corn Exchange, made it all worthwhile. And those very nice people at the Brighton Festival have made it available as a podcast. Clicky here and go to the link. I like his take on the 80s that it wasn't the loadsamoney culture we mistake it for. More that it was a very political and creatively ambitious decade where miners' wives could unite with a bunch of gayers under a hatred of Mrs Thatcher. And he's right, I didn't know ANYONE who liked Thatcher. Evil bat.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

You're much too young, girl...

The Princess of Pop becomes the Grand Dame as she turns 40 today. Kylie's got the night off schlepping around the stage and the family have all flown over to Germany with a Tupperware dish full of sausage rolls for a right old knees up. Dannii's bringing her copy of The Tweet's Greatest Hit so they can all do The Birdie Dance when they're a bit pissed.

The number one song in the UK on May 28th, forty years ago, was Young Girl by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap. And the lyrics seem very apt for today: "With all the charms of a woman / You've kept the secret of your youth" and "Beneath your perfume and make-up / You're just a baby in disguise".

Young Girl - Gary Puckett & The Union Gap (zShare)

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Those Japanese Northern Irish blokes

The Japanese Popstars is a great name when you're three ordinary-looking blokes from Derry in Northern Ireland. Adding an ironic exoticism to yourself always goes down well on these shores. But I can imagine them sitting in a radio station in Bratislava with the DJ going: "Hey guys, but you're NOT Japanese and you're NOT popstars? What the fucking heck are yous craaazzzeee guyz playing at?". You see? They're going to be plagued with questions like that.

And quite what the rest of the world (Australia aside) will make of their two amazing dance tracks, Rodney Trotter and Delboy's Revenge is anyone's guess. Naming your tunes after UK sitcom characters is very niche, but equally genius. Declan McLaughlin, Gary Curran and Gareth Donoghue who make up the band make straightforward four-to-the-floor dance music, something akin to Orbital or Chemical Brothers. Their album is due in July and Delboy's Revenge is out as a single now through iTunes.

Go here to TheirSpace for all the info.

Rodney Trotter (Radio Edit) - The Japanese Popstars (zShare)

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Three forgotten synth gems

Love Cascade - Leisure Process (zShare) (1983)

Leisure Process were singer Ross Middleton and Gary Barnacle, a saxophonist who can be heard on Soft Cell, China Crisis and Pet Shop Boys' tracks. The Human League's Producer, Martin Rushent, took these two boys under his wing during their three-year career and on this bouncy little number you can hear his League drum breaks, especially at 2.00 just before Barnacle's sax goes mental.

The Great Divide - Portion Control
(zShare) (1985)

This lot have been around for AGES. Formed in 1980, and still together today as the duo you see above, John Whybrew and Dean Piavani. I played this track almost into oblivion and remember buying it because I thought it sounded a bit like Depeche Mode at the time. In fact, DM have often said how much they like Portion Control. And it was DJ Annie Nightingale (bless) who championed them on the radio; she does love her obscurities.

The Promise - When In Rome
(zShare) (1988)

When In Rome, singers Clive Farrington and Andrew Mann and keyboard player Michael Floreale, were a much bigger deal in the States than here back home. This track was a US Top 20 hit but never got a look in on the UK charts. It was covered by the lovely Marsheaux on their recent Peek-a-boo album. I had actually forgotten about the track, but when I heard the cover, it was familiar enough to dig it up and get reaccquainted. The band is currently touring in Asia with a Flock of Seagulls. Squawk.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Eyewitness News

Pet Shop Boys and Amy Winehouse? According to The Sun yesterday - now hotly denied - the boys wanted to help Amy finish her Bond theme tune after Mark Ronson gave up declaring her being in "No fit state". But I know where the story came from. I was there. I'm an eyewitness. Well, me and about 500 others. Last Saturday evening, Neil chatted away in front of an audience at the Corn Exchange in Brighton. As part of the Q&A at the end of the evening someone asked which female singer he'd like to work with. Straight away, he said "Amy Winehouse" and then went on to say, “She’s got a few things to sort out first but we like her very much.”

No mention of Quantum of Solace, Bond or anything other than really admiring her as a singer.

The theme tune isn't hers alone anyway. Mark Ronson is still doing it and, here's another eyewitness report, Jack White (of the White Stripes) has been drafted instead. And he's already laid down the vocal. Watch this space.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Gok Sparro does the Live Lounge

It's a really accomplished jaaaaazzzzzz version of the, now, classic Black & Gold. But I've gotta say, Sam. What's with the Gok Wan impression.

Yazoo are back! Back!! Back!!

Aw! This is Alison and Vince on Jonathan Ross on Friday night performing Don't Go. It's like 25 years never happened! Hoorah!

Saturday, 17 May 2008

X marks the spot

The Whip @ 93 Feet East, Brick Lane, London, Wednesday 14th May

Gawd, Brick Lane, is a shitty mess. But it's also a buzzy little place where everyone seems wired and up for anything. If someone decided to take a crap in the road - which wouldn't actually go amiss - there'd be a crowd to cheer them on. There's an air of defiance against the creeping gentrification next door in Spitalfields (so sad) but in actual fact, people are just oblivious to the outside world. The curry houses at the bottom half are right up the arse of the Truman Brewery half with its grimy bars, street cafes and fashionista cafes. If one half is Dehli, the other half is Goa - or likes to think it is.

And it's the perfect place for The Whip to play. A schizoid band like this lot, who KNOW that they're Arthur AND Martha seemed right at home in 93 Feet East. The crowd were a right mixed bag too. Teens to mid-lifers, girls and boys, straight and gay, The Whip had them all. And how fucking refreshing! The set, mostly their new album X Marks Destination, veered from gig to club PA in a very easy fashion. Songs like Frustration have all the right anthemic gig buttons: the resolute lyrics, the driving urgent bass and soaring synths whilst Throw It In the Fire and previous single Divebomb had the crowd whooping and throwing shapes like they were in a heaving sweaty dance tent.

One bloke in front of me was going off like an electrocuted octopus, arms and legs all over the shop. And at the front, tons of testosterone bouncing up and down like the floor was made of rubber. And weirdly, the balconies along the side were where the girlies screamed and hollered. But such divides melted away when songs like Sister Siam were played. That drop, a minute into the song, which gives way to the thunderous chorus is perfect live. If the roof wasn't quite lifted throughout, this was one bit where it definitely came unhinged.

The band themselves are very at home on stage. It's like they've always been the ones in the crowd and now they're on the stage creating the mayhem, they LOVE it. There's a lot of raised handclapping at a Whip gig, especially from the stage. Singer, Bruce Carter, who has a great voice on record, is even more confident live and fits so well around the chunky beats and chords.

The dance rock pop clash almost makes The Whip a band of two halves. But they, quite skilfully, pull it all together in a way bands like The Chemical Brothers have never quite achieved. Dubsex is the perfect example: a dance brain behind a proper song. They're following on from the likes of New Order and Depeche Mode and their sound would sit easily in a stadium. It's that big.

Dubsex - The Whip

Go figure the album here at iTunes and BUY it NOW.

And here's a fab interview with the band on Drowned in Sound, where, interestingly they touch on that 'across all boards crowd'.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008


With a friendly song called Ur So Gay and a sweet publicity shot like this, what's not to like about Katy Perry?

Note that the back-pedaling single out in the US is called I Kissed a Girl. Really Katy? Have a lend of my phone and call someone who cares.


I honestly can't see why the Popjustice I LOVE is peddling this crap. By the way, if I find out that the above shot is ANTI knives I'll gladly take the post down.

**UPDATE** And then I found all this...

Even if PJ itself is doing its own readers a diservice, the forum comes good. In the words of Cat Deeley on Stars in Their Eyes: "Tonight Katy Perry, you are Katy Hudson..."

Yes, this is the former name of the wannabe pop star - or, as a PJ forum member described her "a homophobic twunt who fuels knife crime culture" - who has a hidden past as a wannabe Christian pop star. Not so hidden any more. All credit to Steve for finding this link to her 2001 album and this link to a review in Christianity Today.

Fair enough a person can change their name, change direction and change who they are. A person aged 16 (Katy Hudson) is completely different to that of a 23 year old (Katy Perry). But to become a fake rebel with pretensions of being Pink? Nah. Bog off. Especially when you're homophobic one minute and 'possibly' lesbian the next. Pfft.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

We wanna be together...

Heaven 17! ABC!! The Human League!!! On the same bill!!!! Well, it had to happen eventually. Martyn Ware and Phil Oakey kissed and made up a long time ago, so it's surprising that it has taken so long. Touring under the banner of The Steel City Tour 2008 - they all hail from Sheffield - they will be spreading the love in 10 UK cities. I've never been a fan of those Tony Denton-promoted 80s nostalgia fests, probably because the bands are so mismatched or overated. But this is different. These three bands have a shared history - Heaven 17 WAS The Human League at one point and, more importantly, I facking love 'em!

Clicky piccy make it biggy

Tickets are on sale here, but only five of the concerts are listed. You can get to the London tickets via here.

Thanks to Electronically Yours for the news and David Beevers for the flyer scans.

Friday, 9 May 2008

More French pop

Imagine mon surprise when, over the top of Timbaland's familiar car horn chords, came not Keri Hilson but some woman singing in en francais. Said chanteuse is Tyssem (above) who has some lovely French R&B ditties of her own over here at HerSpace. Regarde, a future single, is tres bon. She's only 23 and having been touched by the hand of the Medusa of pop, Mr Timbaland, her career will no doubt turn to gold and she'll soon be singing in English, doing X-Rated vids in LA and saying "Becoz I'm worz eet" on L'Oriel TV ads. Good for her.

By the way, at 1.09 in The Way I Are, there's a translated line which made me guffaw my vin rosé all over myself. Sometimes there are just too many English words to say in French.

The Way I Are - Timbaland feat. Tyssem (zShare)

And the dance guru, Martin Solveig was a beach-listening favourite with his track C'est La Vie. Wongie first reported about the vid in chilly February. But this song came out too early. This is a definite summer time track. Enjoy peeplettes.

C'est La Vie (Radio Edit) - Martin Solveig (zShare)

Thursday, 8 May 2008

A Lorie load of French pop

So after a few days in Nice, which was the tune that caught my ear? Play by Lorie. A Poster Girl favourite, the so-called French Britney, (she's blonde, she does pop, why not?) had her latest song pumping on les stereos. It may be a few weeks old, but to me it was brand new conti-pop that will now forever remind me of the sunny Riviera. Have a little taste of sunshine below.

Play (Asdorve Single Version) - Lorie (zShare)

And here's her big French top 3 hit of last year, the delish Je Vais Vite.

Je Vais Vite (Radio Edit) - Lorie (zShare)

Go to HerSpace.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Hooray, hooray, it's a holi-holiday

I'm off to Nice for a week. Hoorah! Last year I found a fab song by a bloke I thought was a girl. It's all explained here. Christophe Willem, who was the previous year's Nouvelle Star (Idol) winner, was all over the radio with Double Je. It sounded great filtered through the headphones whilst frying on the beach.

Double Je - Christophe Willem (zShare)

A cursory glance at the French charts sees Nadiya, another Nice discovery, warbling sweet nothings on Enrique Iglesias' Tired of Being Sorry or, en francais, Laisse le Destin l'Emporter. The words: horse, dead and flogging would spring to mind in the most cynical, but not moi. I loved this tune anyway so to have the fantabulous Nadiya on it is une definite bonus.

Tired of Being Sorry (Laisse le Destin l'Emporter) - Enrique Iglesias feat Nadiya (zShare)

It was Nadiya's bombastic track Roc which first caught my ear. Well, it would have been hard to avoid anyway seeing as it was blasting out from every radio, shop system, and open top car imaginable. It's retro, it's cheesy, it's AMAY-ZING.

Roc - Nadiya (zShare)