31 December 2009
5. Bat For Lashes - Pearl's Dream
Though overlooked a little in favour of "Daniel" and "Sleep Alone", "Pearl's Dream" was the quiet gem slap-bang in the middle of Natasha Khan's second album (once again hideously overlooked at the Mercury Prize). It showed all of Ms. Khan's pop credentials while still retaining that alluring mystique that shrouds her work.
4. Passion Pit - The Reeling
Okay, so I was a little dismissive about Passion Pit earlier in the year when the only track I'd really listened to by them was their first single "Sleepyhead". That all changed after I'd been exposed to the fluorescent explosion of joy that was "The Reeling" - the guys from Boston know how to put an infuriatingly catchy pop tune together.
3. Empire of the Sun - We Are The People
It must have been because their album was released in a particularly cold part of the year, but pretty much all of Empire of the Sun's ever-so-slightly bonkers album was enough to thaw the icicles that started forming every day going to and from work. Particularly sunny and heartwarming was "We Are The People". Well, acoustic guitars and dancy synths are enough to brighten anyone's day.
2. The Big Pink - Dominos
Now usually I wouldn't be attracted to slightly odd characters like Robbie and Milo, or slightly yobbish singing as displayed here. Or bad grammar for that matter (yes, for the purposes of this single there is no "e" in "dominos"). So what was so appealing about "Dominos"? Perhaps it's the simple and catchy chorus. Maybe it's that swirly synth sound going on in the background. Or possibly it's just the fact that The Big Pink proved they could do a storming rock tune, far away from "Velvet" or "Stop The World".
1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll
So how did they do it? Somehow the YYYs managed to move into a more synth-pop direction witout losing any of their punk or art-rock credentials.... And the results were amazing. While everyone seems to think that "Zero" is the best track from "It's Blitz!", "Heads Will Roll", in my own humble opinion, shoved all the competition out of the way. The synths jar just enough to give a disconcerting feel, Karen O yelps madly and has never sounded better, Brian Chase provides dancy drums and Nick Zinner strums away at his electric guitar and gives it all that rocky feel. The YYYs have never been boring... but in comparison to this, their back catalogue is about as fascinating as watching paint dry.
30 December 2009
10. The xx - Islands
Islands is a very rare thing - a quiet and tender track that is at the same time an exquisite single. The xx managed to turn it into a thing of pure beauty, with loving lyrics, a hushed boy-girl duet, simple melodies, a single plucked electric guitar... the year's best antidote to the dominance of chilly electro-pop.
9. Julian Casablancas - 11th Dimension
Who would've thought you could rip off "Rebel Rebel", make an unashamedly 80s-style pop single and yet still retain credibility? Well Strokes frontman Casablancas did it - and he did it so well that it was the ultimate grower. If the video below is your first taste of "11th Dimension" then don't let it put you off. In time you will learn to love it just as I did. It took me a whole month to realise that it was actually an amazingly good tune. Who needs The Strokes?
8. Little Dragon - Feather
Similarly to The xx, Little Dragon's "Feather" floats away dreamily into space and refuses to come back to us on dry land. Little Dragon are never in any hurry to actually get on and play their songs, and it takes a while for this wonderfully light tune to kick in. But if you're anything like me you'll fall for its charms after a single play. Enjoy.
7. Metric - Sick Muse
While their latest album "Fantasies" had its flaws, "Sick Muse" stood out as the best single on the album. Here it seemed to all fall into place for Metric, taking the angry noise that dominated their 2006 album "Live It Out" and taming it into just a little under 3 minutes and 20 seconds of rock bliss. And in a world now dominated by electro-pop, that's a big compliment.
6. Phoenix - Lisztomania
It's unfortunate that Phoenix are one of those bands who people seem to think have drifted into obscurity. Despite releasing albums constantly through the last decade, did anyone actually pay attention to anything apart from their first album "United"? "Lisztomania" helped to change all that. Their slightly dodgy, but nevertheless heartwarmingly odd, English, roots in both funky electro and rock plus Thomas Mars's smooth and appealing voice combined to make this, the first single from their really quite brilliant album "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix", a standout track.
06 December 2009
Asobi Seksu - Strawberries
Basement Jaxx- Cish Cash (featuring Siouxsie Sioux)
Bat For Lashes - Two Planets
Beck - Gamma Ray
Bjork - Declare Independence
Black Kids - Hit The Heartbrakes
Cajun Dance Party - The Firework
Chairlift - Make Your Mind Up
Charlotte Hatherley - Alexander
CSS -Off The Hook
Depeche Mode - Perfect
Editors - All Sparks
Empire of the Sun - Standing on the Shore
Roisin Murphy - You Know Me Better
New Young Pony Club - The Get Go
Friendly Fires - In The Hospital
Frou Frou - Flicks
Goldfrapp - Road to Somewhere
Grace Jones - Love You To Life
Hot Chip - Careful
Howling Bells - Treasure Hunt
Imogen Heap - Headlock
Kate Bush - Wow
Ladyhawke - Paris Is Burning
LCD Soundsystem - Two
Lykke Li - Little Bit
MIA - Hussel (featuring Afrikan Boy)
Super Furry Animals - Rings Around the World
Martina Topley Bird - Razor Tongue
Metric - Sick Muse
MGMT - Of Moons, Birds and Monsters
Muse - Hyper Music
Neon Neon - Belfast
Passion Pit - The Reeling
Phoenix - 1901
Roxy Music - In Every Dream Home A Heartache
Royksopp - Vision One
Siouxsie and the Banshees - Cities In Dust
The Cribs - We Share The Same Skies
The Gossip - Love Long Distance
The Horrors - Who Can Say
The Raconteurs - Consoler of the Lonely
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Dragon Queen
Yeasayer - Forgiveness
05 September 2009
This is beside the point of this post though. At some point during the set, I think it must have been during "Karma Police", I realised that for all his ravings about being eco-friendly, Thom Yorke doesn't have the most eco-friendly stage set-up. The picture above doesn't do justice to what the stage was really like - they did have video screens but I was more concerned about the programmable crystal lights and spotlights that were turned on throughout the whole thing.
However, they could be environmentally friendly lights. On the other hand, to power these things on solar energy alone would be a hassle in this lovely British weather. And I don't see them playing wind-up guitars. I doubt anyone would want to look that silly. Since Thom has an aversion to touring, perhaps he can afford to have a blow-out show every now and then.
30 August 2009
14 August 2009
In 2006, Metric released "Live It Out", a fast, furious and stressed-out album that exposed their views on things like modern life and the war (on possibly their best song, "Monster Hospital") and frontwoman and keyboard-player Emily Haines adopted a more unconventional singing style, sometimes screaming, sometimes cooing and then warping her voice in the most strangest of manners to represent anguish and desperation. Three years down the line, and one solo project for Haines, Metric have released "Fantasies", a much more structured and adult effort.
Of course, that doesn't mean I prefer "Live It Out". Both albums can top each other in different ways, and here Metric are taking slight advantage of the rise of electro but subverting it slightly and moulding it to their own liking. "Twilight Galaxy" and "Front Row" provide the mellowest moments of the album and allow Haines to truly take the lead, making use of her synth-playing expertise and the experience she gained in making her low-key solo album.
Oh, and then we get stabbing, attention-grabbing guitars straight after, reminiscent of their last album. But unlike on "Live It Out" you're left with more room to breathe in each song - perhaps with the exception of album closer "Stadium Love" which continues their love of not ending albums on a dull note. Indeed, "Stadium Love" is the most hectic song and with its long fade-out, disruptive fuzz and an urgent beat, it's also one of the album's most uplifting songs (for some reason, this album is dark without trying deliberately to be like the night; it's all in the little things that you don't notice after just one play).
"Gimme Sympathy" plays on the old question of "would you rather be the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?" I was sort of surprised that this was chosen to be a single but maybe they're trying to reach a new audience with this strategy. "Sick Muse" is a twisted love song hidden behind lyrics about silly people, rejecting money, wanting to be the best and having a mental illness. Nice.
If there's one downside to this album it's that opener "Help I'm Alive" is one minute too long. It has one verse, one bridge and one chorus, each with a different key and a different tone. After four and a half minutes this gets a bit wearing and you get the feeling that the triumphant ending piece should have been taped on just after that bit with the crazy descending penny-whistle noise. Then it would have been better. But that's just personal opinion.
Still, this is a great effort - even my dad likes it so it must have something good going for it. Favourite song? "Satellite Mind". But since they didn't have that on YouTube, I'll let you go with "Sick Muse" instead:
17 May 2009
It's a bit of a sad state of affairs really: things were looking promising when Little Boots started off just using a Tenori-On and a piano doing versions of pop songs (look them up on YouTube if you're interested) and then suddenly.... the hype machine descended.... Yes, that thing.
Suddenly she was grabbed and her hair was done up into loose blonde curls with dark metallic make-up and shiny sequin-decorated clothes and high-heels to match and oh dear! It happened! She morphed into the new version of Ally so quickly that it gave me a headache. Well, a migraine really.
But here's the thing: Vicky just doesn't have the charm or the warmth to be as alluring and listenable as Goldfrapp. Her voice goes from icy squeal to, er, icy squeal and her songs have only one theme which is quite boring after a while. Add to this the fact that all of her backing tracks have a coarse and edgy feel that grates horribly like scraping nails down a chalkboard and suddenly you wonder where the promise of the initial few months went.
Have your imitations if you want, I think I'll stick with the classic model.
Just to prove a point, I think I'll place them side by side in a little video-off for you to decide for yourselves:
12 May 2009
Bat For Lashes are encouraging all of their fans to log on to their MySpace page and try mixing their very own version of "Pearl's Dream", one of the best songs on their new album "Two Suns".
It's certainly unique, and users will be able to save their own little mix and send it to their friends to show off their handy mixing work. Don't like the beats? Ditch them. Not keen on Natasha's layered vocals? Bin it. Want more of the freaky little electro skit at the beginning? Make it run through the whole song, baby!
Ah Natasha! What a fine idea indeed. For those of you who haven't heard the song, here it is:
Now think about your remixes!
Yeah yeah, I know you're sitting there thinking that there are billions of better songs but hey, this is my humble opinion - at first you sit there and its simple guitar riff and psychedelic singing wash over you in an amiable way and then after ten or so plays you start smiling. And the smile is more of a beam that you can't contain but have to in case people start staring at you more than ever.
It's a summer song: even the video screams warmth and tropical bliss but then I woudn't expect anything less from a band who like to dress up in wild headdresses and dance around in tribal jewellery while wearing lovely blue chinese suits (who are MGMT kidding? They're nowhere near as far out as these guys!) Ah, if Sleepy Jackson and Pnau are really on hold then it's good news. I want more from Empire of the Sun. I want it now and I want them to tour next week!!
Ahem this video takes a while to get going: it's like a weird narrative but my Spanish has deteriorated badly so please: someone tell me what they're saying!!
07 May 2009
Oh, what's happened?! All quiet in the Depeche Mode camp? Certainly not! After all, they've had years of bust ups and additctions and have created blindingly good records through it all. So what? Are we going to get a happy, lovey-dovey, oh-so-corrupted version of the Mode now that they've settled down? Like bells we are.
I will stand by this record, which is ten thousand tmies better than their last attempt, "Playing The Angel" (though in all fairness "Lilian" was quite a good song). It's rockier, more ambitious, and has a slight turn towards their old days. Slight. Not too much. Gone are the bleeps and blops (well, mostly) and in come the melodies and the sexy guitars once again. Yay! It's a return to form.
Opener "In Chains" makes use of some slightly stripped down beats and a lovely electronic-warped guitar, using Dave Gahan's voice as its main force. And what a force it is on this record - it seems there's some new vigor and life inside him and this is shown on their first single "Wrong" in which he powers through unstoppably against fragmented melodies and lets the darkness flow. But a lot of this could be down to Martin L. Gore's songwriting. I'll let Gahan have the credit for "Come Back" which is one of the most effective songs on the album.
We still have gentler moments of evil on "Little Soul" and the short instrumental break "Spacewalker" which hold different parts of the album together nicely. Personally, the final third of this thirteen-track album is the best. "Miles Away/ The Truth Is" is, whisper it quietly, almost like a pop song (eek!) and is probably one of the most accessible offerings here. But I still love it more than their darker musings. Strange, isn't it? "Jezebel" serves as an interlude between this and the storming closer "Corrupt" which just has to be THE best closer to a record I've heard so far this year, and it'll take a lot to beat its rock-infused malevolence.
But I don't understand how "Peace" made the final cut of the record. At just over an hour long, they could have afforded to cut out this part. You can see the idea behind it, with the almost choral layering of voices, but the bitty electronica doesn't quite sit right in-between "In Sympathy" and "Come Back". Is it just me or this section just a little unnecessary? Part of me just doesn't want to sit through four minutes of "Peace" before getting to "Come Back", I want to skip through it!!
But despite this black mark in the middle of the record, Depeche Mode have made a much more engaging and pleasing record than their latest attempts. They wanted it to be the "Violator for the 21st Century". Have they done it? Well, it'll always be hard to match "Violator" but you aren't gonna get any closer than this!!
You know, I actually didn't know what exactly to expect with Natasha Khan's second album. Her band Bat For Lashes' first album was filled with understated magic and mysticism that only really broke free from simple piano and harpsichord ditties on a few tracks - not that it stopped me from declaring it as one of my albums of 2007.
Two years later and we are presented with the equally hypnotic "Two Suns", a conceptual album that sees our Ms. Khan expanding her sound quite significantly. Having only ever heard "Daniel" and "Moon and Moon" before buying the album I wondered if it was all going to be low-key electronica and yet more piano musings. But no, opener "Glass" sort of blows that out of the water. It seems Natasha has a soft spot for tribal beats and ringing percussion mixed with dark guitars and her own amazing vocal range. And I DO love her vocal range.
"Glass" also shows Khan's love of metaphorical lyrics, singing about things that on the surface are incomprehensible ramblings. But hey, look! There's actually some deep meaning in there! "A thousand crystal towers"? Yes, definitely a metaphor. But let's not linger on her songwriting prowess and instead focus on the rest of the album.
The first five songs are written under Khan's own name but the second half of the album are ung by her alias Pearl, and the songs become increasingly interlinked. See how in "Pearl's Dream" there is a reference to "Good Love Town", the subject of the next song? Nifty stuff. Pearl's songs are undoubtedly bleaker in many ways, but they provide some of the more magical moments on the album. "Pearl's Dream" is perhaps Khan's best pop moment to date, while on "Two Planets" she seems to invoke the spirit of Bjork, yelping and echoing over layers and layers of drums and beats - very "Earth Intruders". In the first half of the record is "Sleep Alone", which looks like it's going to be the next single. It's understated, like a more upbeat version of her first ever single "Trophy" and includes some lovely sweeping vocals and little bursts of electro that give it a tougher edge.
Ah, Natasha. This album will bring you (and has brought you) commercial success. I like an album that shows evolution and progress, rather than a regression or much of the same. And "Two Suns" does that - it's a much more beefed up version of "Fur and Gold" and is intricately clever, using combinations of the powerful and the simple. Buy it - you won't regret it.
23 April 2009
This means that all news about Jamjarsuperstar Radio will be directed here instead of there - I'm already putting playlists up at the minute but I think there should be some other bits and bobs about it that I'll post up too.
For those of you who haven't checked out the station, give it a go and the playlist is below!
Athlete - You Got The Style
Basement Jaxx - Romeo
Bat For Lashes - Pearl's Dream
Beck - The New Pollution
Bjork - Crying
Black Kids - I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance
Cajun Dance Party - The Colourful Life
Camille - Kfir
Chairlift - Evident Utensil
CSS - Move
Daft Punk - Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
Depeche Mode - World In My Eyes
Editors - Fingers In The Factories
Empire of the Sun - We Are The People
Feeder - Seven Days In The Sun
Friendly Fires - Paris
Goldfrapp - Caravan Girl
Grace Jones - Williams' Blood
Hot Chip - And I Was A Boy From School
Howling Bells - Digital Hearts
Ida Maria - Oh My God
Interpol - PDA
Kate Bush - Moving
Ladyhawke - Better Than Sunday
LCD Soundsystem - Someone Great
Lykke Li - I'm Good, I'm Gone
M.I.A. - Sunshowers
Martina Topley Bird - April Grove
MGMT - Kids
Mystery Jets - Hideaway
Neon Neon - I Told Her On Alderaan
Fleet Foxes - Blue Ridge Mountains
PJ Harvey - Highway 61 Revisited
Roisin Murphy - If We're In Love
Royksopp - The Girl And The Robot
Santogold - I'm A Lady
The Long Blondes - The Couples
The Raconteurs - Attention
The Rapture - Get Myself Into It
The Go! Team - The Wrath of Marcie
British Sea Power - Waving Flags
Massive Attack - Unfinished Sympathy
18 April 2009
But is NRSD masking a very depressing truth? The very depressing truth that aside from not buying many physical records these days, we're just not buying as much music as we used to altogether?
The members of The Pirate Bay were sentenced and ordered to pay millions in damages yesterday, but their story is testament to the fact that no-one wants to pay money for their music any more. Sites are now offering free access to music that hasn't even been released yet and it's going to cost the industry badly if more sites like The Pirate Bay aren't put to trial (and let's not forget that this problem spreads into film and TV too - "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" has recently become the most illegally downloaded film of all time and it hasn't even had a cinema release here yet!)
Aside from illegal downloading, sites like iTunes are making sure that people are only buying singles from albums rather than investing some money in the whole works of a band or artist. Elbow frontman Guy Garvey was particularly furious about this after the release of "The Seldom Seen Kid", saying that he wants people to listen to the whole album and see it as a musical journey rather than spending 79p on "Grounds For Divorce" just because it was played on Radio 1 a few times. It makes you wonder whether artists are just going to release nothing but singles in a few years - Ash has already taken that road, and it wouldn't be surprising if many others followed behind.
Add to this the threat from websites like Amazon and Play - they'll send you CDs and offer you downloads at a fraction of the cost of any record shop with free postage and packaging. The technological age is probably having a particularly adverse effect on stores, so many will probably have to use their own websites to keep afloat.
It all adds up to a pretty depressing outlook for our independent record stores - the only one I can really think of in my area recently closed down (presumably because there was a lack of interest). My most local HMV store has reduced its music section by around 70% and is overloaded with DVDs and games - it's obvious what people want, I suppose.
Well, I don't really want to end on a very gloomy note so I'll just say congratulations again - have some cake, enjoy the company of fellow survivors.
15 April 2009
11 April 2009
Well that's about it really.
Have a great Easter Weekend!
05 April 2009
So how did I come to the conclusion that this was more of a pop effort than a dance one? Well alongside their normal vocal collaborators, we are also treated to the singing of Swedish popstrels Robyn and Lykke Li. Not really being a Robyn fan (find her a bit bland really), I was surprised that "Girl And The Robot" became my favourite song on the album. I might have preferred it if Alessi was singing but hey, you can't have it all and the sweeping synths more than make up for Robyn's apparent lack of vocal range. Lykke has been syphoned, perhaps predictably, to "Miss It So Much", a sweet little ditty halfway through the album where her childishly fey voice gradually finds room to maneuver into the more surprisingly powerful voice found on her own debut album.
But it's strange that Royksopp have put so much emphasis on the singing this time - it's almost as if they're trying to make up for something. All of the songs could probably get by without any vocals at all, so why certain tracks aren't allowed to just glide along like on "The Understanding" is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps the pressure to create something that's more mainstream overall has bitten them finally - but that doesn't mean that it's not a great album. The idiosyncrasies of previous albums still shine through on tracks like "Vision One" and their harder edge manages to cut a little deeper on "Tricky Tricky".
It's worth remembering that Royksopp were perhaps one of the first bands to get in with the whole 80s theme before it was cool - now their time could finally have come. "Junior" is a solid album that grows on you with every play. Now I just need to put it on again - I might get to the "love it" stage soon!
13 March 2009
It's a bit stupid that I'm even giving these guys an "Introducing" tag seeing as how I've actually known about them for ages now and just, well, never got round to saying anything about them! So basically they're a bit like Daft Punk mixed with something somewhere along the lines of The Strokes. And if that sounds crazy, well, it's definitely NOT a catastrophe on record.
In fact, they've released 3LPs already, so they must be doing something right. Actually, here's what they're doing right: they don't really mix the two styles which are poles apart instantly - it's more of a case of, we'll use this style on one track and save the guitars for another day. So no, not a mess. So for people who like the more Daft Punk end, go for their debut "United" and for those who would prefer something a little more guitar-orientated then you should probably look out for "It's Never Been Like That" (hmm, appropriate title, considering).
Oh, I've decided not to waffle. Instead, I'll just show you this video for "If I Ever Feel Better". It's lovely stuff, really:
12 March 2009
Ah, Howling Bells... how long I have waited for your return. The debut was deliciously dark and lovely, covering your idea of Australia to memorable effect.
But this is hardly the same record. While maintaining their distinctive weeping guitars and the sultry voice of Juanita Stein, the band have gone in a more positive direction, as they put it because they have permanently moved to England. Lovely.
To prove this point, we can compare the lyrics of the opening songs to each of these albums, "The Bell Hit" from the debut and "Treasure Hunt" from this offering. In fact, only a couple of lines need analysing to see that the Bells are moving in a different direction in terms of songwriting. From "Hit": "Promises are empty in a world of emptiness" and from "Hunt": "We are the key that fits". Ooh, differenty.
Still, it's good to hear the new updated sound of the band. Everything is a little more polished, a little more thought out. "Golden Web" and "Digital Hearts" make use of some synths, which are far more prominent on the former.
It'll be interesting to see how these cleaner, slinkier songs sit in with the old ones in a live set. I can't see "Digital Hearts" or "Nightingale" being put together with something as violent as "Wishing Stone" or "Low Happening" but hey, I could be very wrong indeed. The contrast may even be a good point, showing how the Bells have adapted to their new sound and are more comfortable with who they are now in comparison to when they were tied Down Under.
10 March 2009
But their music isn't the point of this post; no, I wanted to show the world what cooking with the band looks like. While browsing around I stumbled upon this short but weird video showing the band cooking "pasta" (and you'll know why it's in inverted commas when you watch it). It's a depressing affair really. I'm not sure what the result looks like - actually more like halfway caramelised onions, but I'm sure my friend Diva will correct me and say it's more like calamari or something. Anyway, take a minute and a half to watch the train wreck.
With a word of warning: there is some swearing so the easily offended beware, and the camera does move in odd ways so I guess if you don't like sudden movements and fast stuff then be careful (just looking out for my readers!):
Hmmm.... I must be losing my touch. It seems that I should have posted about Dan's lovely mix of electro and pop sensibility about.... two months ago? But after semi-forgetting his first single "Yours" I simply could not overlook him as soon as "Alone" came out. Firstly because "Alone" is a far superior single and more grown-up in a strange little way but also because it reminded me of how catchy and intoxicating his material was in the first place.
But alas, Dan was left to gather dust on the shelf while life took me by the reins and told me not to associate with the blog until I'd got my act together (although nothing bad happened - just a busy period). But now I'm sitting having a good blog day and I'm here to say something along the lines of: Dan Black is the next big thing, and if he's not then something has gone seriously wrong down the line.
Okay, so here's the lowdown: Dan lives in Paris and has done so for quite some time. He used to be part of a band but admits that he was the cause of their break-up, specifically that his perfectionism drove the other members to the insane asylum. So I assume that our Dan is a bit of a bedroom boffin who tweaks his controls in an attempt to get his own perect sound. And perhaps he has. Dan has mixed together some different styles, added some bass guitar and his own strangely affecting voice (okay so maybe it's more aggressive in "Yours" but its certinaly meek at points in "Alone") to create something quite magical.
Despite being undoubtedly mainstream material, there is something to his songs that screams underground and rough-around-the-edges. There is a slighty rustic feel to his approach to electro that gives it the edge over others - if Hot Chip are the polished princes of the genre, then surely Dan is like the aspirational squire. It's modern and entirely danceable. And he's just brilliant. That was the summary: I adore Dan Black.
Video to "Alone":
Interpol (the NY band, not the International Police heh heh) have announced that they've began work on their fourth album - but can I say, guys, that I would like more "Antics" and less "Our Love To Admire".
Yes, "Heinrich Maneuver" was a great song, and definitely one of their most upbeat but the end of the album plodded so badly that I thought they'd musically imploded and become a walking cliche, unfortunate for a band who manage to walk the line between indie and gothic so well.
Oh I just long for an album that has more songs like "Evil", "Narc" and "Slow Hands" on it. Please please please let it be so!
But seriously, just because I'm nuts about this song in which Anita Blay falls along the same slightly feminist and spunky lines as "On My Own Again" does't mean everyone else will be. But the fact is, everyone seems to be going nuts about her! I think it's really only a matter of time before this girl goes COLOSSAL and attacks the pop world viciuosly - any other outcome would be a crime against humanity!
So without further ado, I present to you "I'm Not Sorry":
05 March 2009
17 February 2009
15 February 2009
Of course, any big fans of "Eple" (of which I'm not one, the best song of their debut stuff was definitely "Poor Leno") will probably think that they're ripping themselves off but it really is quite different, trust me!
Anyway, I'm looking forawrd to their 3rd album "Junior" and think it will be a slightly more upbeat affair compared to "The Understanding" - just what the doctor ordered in this rather bleak winter!
Oh, but this will probably be a loooong post so bear with me:
1. I enjoy both your blogs Scarlet. Do you find that it is easier writing for one blog than the other? What motivated you to start them and what is your ultimate goal for the blogs?
I think it’s easier writing for Jamjarsuperstar – I find I don’t have to be as motivated to write things for it. Scarlet’s Culture Garden is a bit more like a place where I can vent some anger or have a good complain – not that it’s all negative mind, you know that I’ve got some positive things about film and TV on there! Jamjarsuperstar is older and at first I didn’t know what the heck I was writing – I think one of my first posts was about the week in music and I didn’t have a clue what I was writing! It’s been pretty natural to move into the whole thing of hunting down bands, introducing them, reviewing stuff and then writing about any other musically-intriguing (or irritating) things that I find out about. I think one of the best pieces I’ve written was about Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Boy” – I think it really resonated with a lot of my readers….
I don’t know what really motivated me to start SCG – I think I just wanted to write about some things that were a bit different and I think it shows me as a person more. I think my readers have learned a lot about the way I think from SCG because in a way it’s less detached compared to JJS. Hmmm… actually I don’t know why I started JJS either! Actually, my mum had a blog and suggested that I should try it so I gave it a go and thought that I’d fall off the bandwagon after a few months but I’m still going strong after a year so I must be pretty into it!
For SCG I think I just want to be able to keep writing casually. With that one I don’t feel like there’s any sort of onus on me to write a lot because it’s like the secondary blog – in reserve in case something drastic happens or I want to talk about TV, films, fashion, or whatever! If I was in domination mode I think I’d have to say that I want JJS to steadily become quite influential – I don’t think it’ll really ever happen though so I’m happy as long as I’ve got a steady stream of regular readers coming back and commenting on what I write. That’s more than satisfying for me!
2. Jamjarsuperstar is a wonderful resource for new music. I’ve twice read about a band on your site before they became popular on the radio over here - I’m thinking of MGMT in particular – so I consider you to be something of an oracle. What band do you think will blow up next? Who will we be grooving to in the near future?
Firstly, thanks for calling me an oracle – I don’t actually analyse a band and say “yeah, they’re gonna be big”, I just say that it’s good music and for some reason the stuff I pick always does well for itself! But, if you think that I’m some sort of musical prophet then I guess I can’t complain!
It’s hard to say, really. If I use my head, I’ll go for Little Boots and Florence and the Machine – I like Florence a lot because she’s like a stronger-voiced Alison Goldfrapp singing a-cappella and she’s already won the Critic’s Choice award at the Brits! I think we’ll be seeing more of her…. However, I’m not too fussed with Little Boots but the hype machine has been working so hard trying to get Victoria Hesketh to stardom that it’s bound to happen at least in the UK. Gauging what’s going to happen in the US is always a tricky one though. Trends in music change as much as they do in fashion (which by my calculation is… oh…. every 5 minutes?) so it’s hard to say with my head what’ll be big. Anything R’n’B is always huge in the States though. Too bad I’m not really into that sort of thing though! From the heart and my own personal taste I’d have to go for Magistrates, La Roux and Empire of the Sun – they’re all brilliant in my opinion!
3. Given that you’re in the UK and I’m in the US, I can’t help but think of the British invasion – some of my favourite music of all time came from that era. In your opinion, who is making better music today? British or American musicians? (List examples, if you please)
There are only really one or two British bands that can be classed as truly exciting today and even they wear their influences on their sleeves with pride. I’m thinking about Magistrates (very Prince-like), La Roux (just about anything from the 80s), White Lies (Duran Duran mixed with Editors and Interpol) and Florence (folk for the new age) are the best of the new bands. Of course, there’s people like Editors, Bat For Lashes, PJ Harvey and M.I.A. who fly the flag really well but I can name so many bands from NY alone who are ten times as exciting as anything going on here.
You’ve already said MGMT are a band that are big in the US right now, and I think they’re amazing. It’s the album as a whole that’s so captivating – the singles are okay and I love “Electric Feel” but the sweeping, sometimes disturbing nature of the album tracks are where I think they shine. “The Handshake” and “Future Reflections” are stand-outs for me.
Now I can go through my list: Asobi Seksu, Yeasayer, Interpol, Chairlift, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV On the Radio…. all just from NY! Doesn’t this just show you how much better you guys are in the States? I want less indie rock here and more Africa-inspired electro like you!
4. This is the one question I know you will not want to answer, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask it…. where do you find all this great stuff? Do you work in the music industry or is it a personal passion?
NO! I don’t work in the music industry but it would be so amazing if I did! I’ll be honest – it’s hard work trying to find all of the new bands but my top tip is to get to gigs early so that you see the support bands. Quite a few of them have been a bit rubbish but then you get some real gems – when I went to see Beck, for instance, Yeasayer were supporting him so that’s how I clicked on to them.
I guess this is all just a personal passion though! I do it out of the goodness of my heart! Actually, when I started my blog I didn’t think anyone would read it so knowing that people are enjoying my little personal notes and thoughts about music is amazing!
5. You and I differ in our opinion of Kaiser Chief’s “Never Miss a Beat.” While I appreciate your critique, I can’t help be a fan of any song that contains the lyrics “What do you want for tea? I want crisps!” So, dear Scarlet, what do *you* want for tea? What’s your idea of a perfect meal? (Don’t kill me – being a food blogger, you know I had to go there!)
Hahahaha! Why didn’t you just say that you liked the song? I would’ve totally understood! I don’t mind people disagreeing with what I say – as long as you don’t JUST say that I’m talking a load of rubbish and back it up with some reasons WHY I’m talking a load of rubbish then I’m cool with it!
I’d probably say something cooked at home on the food front though – home-made spaghetti bolognese, chili or Sunday Dinner all make my mouth water. The Sunday Dinner in particular – the turkey or chicken is always just right, the stuffing balls are ultra tasty and the Yorkshire Puddings get cooked to perfection (none of that tiny crusty crap that they try to shove on to you when you’re at a pub!). That said, I used to ADORE the grilled salmon in tagliattelle pasta with vodka and tarragon sauce at this place called Barluga – until they took it off the menu!!
Thanks for interviewing me! The questions were oddly challenging – I haven’t had to think this much about myself for ages! But it was fun and you were a brilliant interviewer Diva! Ciao now!
24 January 2009
20 January 2009
Today is the day that I do my first "introducing" segement of the year! Woo! Now, this is a band that I've been hearing a lot about but never really had the opporutnity to check out until now. Basically, Empire of the Sun, named after the JG Ballard novel of the same name, are Australia's answer to MGMT, producing blissed-out, chilled dance music with a semi-acoustic feel. But I mean look at these guys - instead of placing themselves in fields and wearing headbands like their American counterparts, they're dressed up like something out of a fantasy movie and are living in a futuristic city!
The first track I heard was "Walking On A Dream", which is also the title of their debut album. It is easy to say that the vocals are distinctly like those of Andy VanWyngarden, but the other elements borrow more from the likes of Air and Royksopp - in your head you know that the melody is danceable but there's this niggling feeling that maybe, just maybe, this is music to relax to rather than to move to. I know that the more I listen to them, the more I feel like I need to lie down and go into dream world instead of embracing reality.
Hmm.... there's quite a bit of good stuff coming out of Australia right now isn't there? And doesn't that guy with the bushy hair look like that guy who used to be in Wolfmother (sorry about the vagueness!)? Anyway, here's the video for "Walking On A Dream":
18 January 2009
You all know that I freak if I think that a little band that I love are going to go mainstream - you know I all like the feeling of listening to bands that no-one else but all of you have heard of.
Plus point though: they're in the studio. Yay!
On a personal level, "The Understanding" was one of the best dance albums for ages, even bettering Basement Jaxx's soul-infused "Kish Kash" by mixing their more upbeat moments with more understated songs like "Beautiful Day Without You" towards the end of the album. And it includes one of my favourite songs, "What Else Is There" - dreadful sounding with that woman at Glastonbury a few years bak but with the right singer it's a magical trip through despair and being lost. Hmm, I do go for the happy songs, don't I?
Anyway, I had to put the clip up - any excuse to put it up really!
12 January 2009
5. Mystery Jets - Two Doors Down
I think 80s pop was really making a comeback, and it's not set to change so sorry fo anyone who hates the revival. This was probably one of the most obvious examples of the comeback - right down to the video! It's amazing to see how far the Jets have come considering they were making much more avant-garde songs on their debut record. It must be something to do with losing the dad factor! Anyway, despite having my most hated musical instrument blaring away towards the end this was undoubtedly one of the catchiest, loveliest, most heart-warming songs of the year!
4. Camille - Money Note
The most danceable vocal performance ever? Maybe, but maybe you know better. But you've got to love her cheeky remarks against Mariah, Celine and every other pop star diva out there today. Even the video is bonkers as our Camille takes the mickey out of just about everything, from scantily clad women in videos, to ballad-style candles and odd acrobatics. And takes a hissy fit at the end when she doesn't get her own way the hula hoop. Crackers, but wonderful:
3. MGMT - Electric Feel
I'm obsessed by this song, mostly because it's so darned happy. I love the bass riffs, love the drum build up, that mystic bit at the beginning where it sets you up for a ride in the Amazon and... well, I pretty much love everything about this song. I can't explain, just like how I can't explain why the heck I can't embed the video on to my page! I'm super upset about it. I want everyone to hear this wonderful song. Just once. For me... sniff.... This version is okay-ish. But doesn't give the record justice...
2. The Kills - Cheap and Cheerful
Sassy, simple, short and seductive all at the same time. This is what The Kills do best. And this song is so evil that it had to be somewhere in my Top 3 for this year (you all know how I like evil songs!). They only needed 2 minutes to fit in all the malice they'd stored up and released it into, what is on the surface, one of their most upbeat songs to date. It's up-tempo but lying underneath there are the themes of madness, desire and money. All the ingredients for brilliance then. Besides, Alison Mossheart is like an American PJ Harvey which is always a bonus!
1. Friendly Fires - Jump In The Pool
Ah! We are at the end at last! At first I thought that the Kills would run away with this title when I heard "Cheap and Cheerful" towards the start of the year but then in the summer the more delicate vocals of Ed MacFarlane, the melotron and the samba-infused beats swept me off my feet, to a place where I couldn't look back with any sincerity to say that there was a better song than this in 2008. Disagree all you like - for me, this was the sweeping electro song we all needed. While most people in the genre went for brash, in-your-face drama, the Fires were creating an altogether different kind of melodrama with this terrific, memorable and somewhat emotive second single, which also opened their brilliant debut album. Bravo!