08 August 2010


Well I feel very sad about doing this because for a couple of years Blogger was my home but, well, I think I've pretty much officially moved my two sites together into one on Wordpress.

This is my new site: http://scarletsculturegarden.wordpress.com/

I hope all of you find that it's great, because I think it's a lot better than here on Blogger but that's just my personal opinion.

Bye bye Blogger....

15 May 2010

The National: Bloodbuzz Ohio

A good smattering of doom-and-gloom-rock today from New York band The National. They’re releasing their new album “High Violet” very soon indeed and this is the first single to be taken from it. “Bloodbuzz Ohio” is sentimental, gloomy, swooning and hazily shoegaze-y in a sort of good way. Well it has to be a good way, otherwise I wouldn’t be featuring this song, would I? Enjoy it, it’s a grower:

11 May 2010

The Very Best: Julia

Another not very freshly squeezed effort again from me today folks, although maybe you've not heard of The Very Best before? If you haven't, they were a project that emerged last year who melded together world beats and ideas with tinges of western dance and electro to great effect. Their debut album "Warm Heart of Africa" came out last year and the title track featured Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig on vocal duties. Here the singing is by Esau Mwamwaya who brings a good sprinkle of African tribal authenticity to "Julia". I have to say that the track takes a while to get going, but don't let that put you off: the backing track may be slight and perhaps undercooked, but that's just to let Esau and the rest of the backing singers really shine through. It'll grow on you:

07 May 2010

Crystal Castles: Celestica

Canadian electro noise-makers Crystal Castles are back with their second (rush-released) album “Crystal Castles (II)” – the fact that they’ve named this effort exactly the same as their debut album has caused slight problems during explanations. Personally, if you just say “Crystal Castles Two” then there should be no problem, right? Never mind that, on to “Celestica” which is a more accessible slice of pie from the often thrashy duo. While their take on electro normally takes no prisoners (imagine someone like Slipknot transferred to synthesisers with strange Nintendo-style bleeps and a screaming banshee in the form of Alice Glass singing), this track is actually quite lovely. Well, anything where we can actually hear Alice singing instead of, er, shouting. It’s still a bit edgy but it’s also a bit dreamy and swooning too:

02 May 2010

New Playlist Loaded!

Hey guys, just letting you know that yesterday I added a new playlist to my radio station, JAMJARSUPERSTAR, for you to listen to! I hope you enjoy it. If you want to know what tracks I've put up this time, I've pasted it all below! I've also added a new widget so that you can click on to my radio station from my Blogger page whenever you like - I've done the same on my sister site too!

MGMT – It’s Working
New Young Pony Club – Lost A Girl
Caribou – Odessa
The Knife – Silent Shout
Delphic – Doubt
Basement Jaxx – Raindrops
Wild Beasts – All The King’s Men
Chew Lips – Slick
Hot Chip – One Life Stand
Yeasayer – ONE
Vampire Weekend – Giving Up The Gun
We Have Band – Centrefolds and Empty Screens
Arcade Fire – Power Cut
Bat For Lashes – Glass
Beck – Youthless
Bjork – Violently Happy
Black Kids – Hurricane Jane
Cajun Dance Party – The Next Untouchable
Camille – Kfir
Charlotte Hatherley – White
Chairlift – Garbage
CSS – Jager Yoga
Daft Punk – Robot Rock
Depeche Mode – Miles Away
Editors – Lights
Empire of the Sun – Walking on a Dream
Friendly Fires – Skeleton Boy
Frou Frou – Psychobabble
Goldfrapp – Koko
Grace Jones – Hurricane
Howling Bells – Cities Burning Down
Interpol – Slow Hands
Kate Bush – Be Kind to My Mistakes
Kings of Leon – The Bucket
Ladyhawke – Professional Suicide
LCD Soundsystem – Daft Punk Is Playing at My House
MIA – Amazon
Martina Topley Bird – Carnies
Metric – Stadium Love
Neon Neon – I Told Her On Alderaan
Passion Pit – Little Secrets
Phoenix – Lisztomania
Roxy Music- Editions of You
Roisin Murphy – Ruby Blue
Royksopp – The Girl And the Robot
Siouxsie and the Banshees – Spellbound
The Cribs – Cheat On Me
The Gossip – Heavy Cross
The Kills – What New York Used To Be
The Raconteurs – Steady As She Goes
The Rapture – Pieces of the People We Love
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Soft Shock

01 May 2010

JJS and SCG: Branching Out!

Hey guys! You can now become a fan of my personal page on Facebook! Exciting times! If you want to do so, just click on my badge to the right of this and if you do become a fan then I'll respect you forever - seriously, at the minute I don't have any fans so I'll really appreciate your support in this new endeavour. Hopefully you'll get your friends to follow me as well so we can have an even bigger community here on JJS and my sister site Scarlet's Culture Garden (if you haven't already looked, find the link on my sidebar to find my other site!).

Thank guys!

Mos Def and Talib Kweli: History

I'm not usually into R'n'B/ hip hop/ rap, but this song has been getting some air time and I kinda like it. Mos Def has kind of dropped off the musical radar since he went into acting; he was mostly seen guesting on songs by Gorillaz (most recently Stylo) in-between acting jobs like in Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind and appearing in TV shows like House. But here he is in a very likeable tune that's a little bit old-school, very accessible and very summery. It makes you think of having drinks on a beach somewhere sunny.

29 April 2010

Darwin Deez: Radar Detector

I'm feeling in a summery mood at the minute and to go alongside it I've decided to try and pick some summery songs to go with that feeling. Hopefully you'll feel the same way about them! First up we've got Darwin Deez, a New Yorker with strange curly hair and an overall too-cool-for-school outlook. His album is filled with tunes just like "Radar Detector", bright, breezy, cheap and cheerful with simple guitars and not over-produced. Enjoy this song for its relative simplicity and feel the breeze through your hair:

28 April 2010

MGMT: Congratulations

Can we get something straight here? MGMT have NOT committed career suicide. They haven't gone and made a weird, super-psychedelic and out-there record that isn't accessible to anyone and everyone, and they definitely haven't left their more poppy, "Oracular Spectacular" roots. Anyone who says that obviously hasn't listened to the full album or if they have, they obviously weren't listening very hard.

The fact is that MGMT haven't disappeared into a weird miasma, even though they never intended themseves to be a pop band. Let's be frank here: if you listened beyond the singles of "Oracular Spectacular" and heard the likes of "The Youth", "Pieces of What", "The Handshake" and "Future Reflections" then you knew that there was more to MGMT than that band who did "Kids" (not that I'm dissing "Kids" of course). To all those people who liked MGMT because of two or three songs, the band have just recorded a two-fingered salute to the lot of you. "Congratulations" is for the real fans.

Here's why: in the middle of the record there is "Siberian Breaks", a 12-minute long, strangely compelling piece that sounds more like several songs strung together. Really MGMT have pieced together a medley of 2-minute long songs to make a hypnotic composition, moving from the sultry to the psychedelic to the downright dreamy with relative ease. You get the niggling feeling that every seed that pops into MGMT's heads just about germinate before flitting to another style or mood here. Basically, they're not fully-formed pieces for people who like a good structure. Much like most of the album here.

Of course, we must all know about "Flash Delirium", the swirling and untamed beast (I think it's fair to call it a beast, in light of the fact that it becomes incredibly raucous by the end) that is dramatic and oddly complex in its own detached sort of way. Then there's "Brian Eno", a kind of mad inside joke that sounds comical and could become incredibly annoying to anyone who doesn't get the strange humour in it (of course, "Time to Pretend" was deeply ironic, but how many people picked up on that?)

We mustn't forget that there are actally songs on here though. MGMT haven't completely abandoned the notion of writing a "proper song" and it shows at the beginning of the album. "It's Working" is a wonderful opener, grabbing you and making you instantly realise that the ideas of "career suicide" were just myths and nothing else. "Song For Dan Treacy" too has a defined structure, even if its psychedelic edge might leave some people slightly irritated. In fact, "Dan Treacy" makes me think that the idea of surfing on the front cover is entirely appropriate: I could easily imagine listening to this song while at the beach, riding the waves (if I could ride the waves). "Someone's Missing" is perhaps this album's "Pieces of What", an oddly strained, tender piece that stands out in the album as the kind of sane moment in a sea of relative madness. If you only plump for one song, you could play it safe and go for this.

MGMT haven't written the obituary on their own musical career, although no doubt this album as a whole will alienate a whole army of fans who believe that they're pop princes rather than odd troubadours. But if you were more gripped by the underplayed, underrated songs of "Oracular Spectacular" then after a couple of plays you really shouldn't be disappointed by their sophomore effort. Stick with it.

27 April 2010

We Have Band: WHB

Okay, so before going any further I think I should just explain a little about We Have Band. They’re a three-piece from London who have been working in the music industry for a while now. So bearing that in mind, they should know how to put a pretty decent record together in a sort of “have a go hero” kind of way, right?

Well the answer is: yes! Yes they can. There might be a couple of small hiccups along the way but WHB is a real grower of an indie-dance record. Oh, and when I say indie-dance don’t be put off. It’s a lot better than that actually sounds.

Just take their most well-known song, “Divisive”. It’s a catchy, fast paced affair that is part Human League, part Talking Heads. Hmm, that’s not a bad way to describe the band as a whole actually. The way that the three vocalists (yes, they all sing) gel together on “Divisive” is brilliant, no-one ever trying to overshadow anyone else, giving the sense that they’re really comfortable working together.

Another standout track is “Centrefolds and Empty Screens”, perhaps the record’s loudest and most complicated moment. While most of WHB is filled with songs that try to focus on a smaller aspect of the band’s talents (some songs are more keyboard-led, while others rely heavily on guitar), “Centrefolds” allows each of the three members to come together in a glorious wall-of-sound moment, from its first creepy bars to the last fading synths. On the first spin, you might be hard-pushed to find a better track.

Hard-pushed because in some ways We Have Band want to challenge you a little more: they’re fast to move tone through each song on the album and this could make it hard for some listeners to really see the joys of the record on a first listen. Even I had to spin it about five times before really appreciating the way that they’ve mixed together the slightly downbeat “Buffet” with the instantly danceable “Divisive” or placing “You Came Out”, with its haunting whistling and invasive bassline, in-between “Centrefolds” and “WHB”, two songs more similar in approach. Mix this with the fact that there’s a distinct rustiness in their ability to play instruments and WHB could have been a strangely detached and uninspiring album. But weirdly enough, this isn’t the case at all: once you’ve mapped out exactly where WHB is going then it’s easy to appreciate what they’ve attempted.

WHB isn’t the most polished of records though; on some tracks there’s a small sense of distortion that creeps in slightly (a bit of fuzz on “Centrefolds and Empty Screens”, a hazy sheen on opener “Piano”….) but this doesn’t take anything away from the songs themselves. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t a deliberate attempt on their part to make WHB seem more industrial and gritty, like they’d recorded it in a shed rather than a flashy studio.

Still, despite the sometimes semi-invasive distortion and the fact that lyrically the band are somewhere between naive and simplistic (it’s probably best to ignore this: it’s not like it really affects your enjoyment of this kind of album) We Have Band have managed to piece together a highly enjoyable, likeable debut album. Roll on new material.

27 March 2010

LCD Soundsystem: Drunk Girls

After a leak a short while ago on the net, LCD Soundsystem have decided to release a new track from their album, "Drunk Girls" as a single. The highly anticipated new album, which still doesn't have a title, is due for release on 17th May (or 18th if you're in the US of A). Fans of the band, led by James Murphy, will lap this slightly rocky number up as it's not too far departed from what they were doing on some of "Sound of Silver". As ever, Murphy's lyrics are great, the music catchy... although it does sound just that little bit like David Bowie's "Boys Keep Swinging". But never mind; any Bowie connections have to be good, right?

We Have Band: Divisive

Here's the latest single from three-piece outfit We Have Band. "Divisive" is a funky little number that sounds like curiously like Heaven 17, Gary Numan and Human League rolled into one - and with such brilliant references, who's complaining? Their debut album "WHB" is out soon:

16 March 2010

Caribou: Odessa

Caribou is the brainchild of Daniel Snaith, from Ontario, Canada (once again showing that Canada is, oddly enough, one of the places to be for music). Though he's been around for a while (his last album, "Andorra", came out a couple of years ago), he's only just come on to my radar with his latest single "Odessa". It's a strange mix of Royksopp-like vocals, danceable beats and a mind-warping synth that fills in all the vocal gaps. His latest album "Swim" is coming out in April.

Goldfrapp: Rocket

"Rocket" is the first single from Goldfrapp's new album "Head First" and, unsurprisingly, they've reinvented themselves again! Now Alison and Will sound like semi-cheesy Europopsters, and while that should sound absolutely awful it's actually not. "Rocket" is actually a real grower - not as immediate as anything on "Black Cherry" (arguably their best album) but a nice return to the glam pop that we're all used to the band making. Kudos in order for making a terrible concept so wonderful and summery - and with the rubbish weather I've been having a good dollop of summer is welcome!

28 February 2010

6 Music Saved!

After a week or so of speculation, it looks like 6 Music will be saved! For now. The story goes that the Beeb were planning to axe the channel along with the Asian Network in a cost-cutting scheme, saying that 6 Music needed to branch out and get some talent in.
Er, okay... Most of the people on Radio 1 can't be described as "talent" while 6 Music boasts the likes of Steve Lamacq, Lauren Laverne, Tom Robinson, Marc Riley, Huey Morgan, Jarvis Cocker, Dave Pearce.... the list goes on! And how come it's 6 Music that will be axed for not having a wide enough audience when the same report said that Radio 2 - that bastion of radio that appeals to people of all ages - was alienating their older listeners in favour of the 30-35 year olds?
Don't these stations have some kind of mission statement where they say who they want to appeal to, how they'll do it, who they'll do it with? Personally, if you were to get rid of 6 Music then there'd be a massive void for the people who are a bit too old and mature for the R'n'B, pop antics of Radio 1 but are still too young for te comort zone that is Radio 2. It'll be like the Black Hole of Calcutta for anyone who wants to be just that little bit left of centre.
So good on you Beeb for dispelling the rumours for now, although as the old saying goes: there's no smoke without fire...

02 February 2010

Happy Groundhog Day!

Yep, it's that time of year again when we get to fawn over the cuteness of a little groundhog being taken out to see shadows... or not see shadows, depending on what the coming year will be like. Tom Chapin, the editor of the Puxsutawney Spirit newspaper describes Groundhog Day as: "a lot like a rock concert but the people are better behaved and there's a groundhog involved... There's music and entertainment, spoofs of game shows, and people shooting t-shirts and beanie babies."

Wow, sounds like fun. But of course the real attraction of the whole day is seeing Phil the Groundhog energe from his burrow (er, a simulated version of a tree-stump) that's located on the rural site of Gobbler's Knob. If he sees his own shadow then winter will continue for another 6 weeks.

But it doesn't matter whether Phil sees his shadow or not, because he'll "speak" to his human caretakers - known as the Inner Circle - and tell them in Groundhogese what his forecast is. Apparently.

A good fact about Punxsutawney Phil is that he's supposed to be immortal - according to some Phil was born no later than the 19th Century, making him at the least 111 and at the most 210 years old! Phil's secret to longevity is an "elixir of life" that is served to him every year, but curiously there are no photographs...

This year Phil's going technological and will send his forecast out by text (I don't know if it will work here in the UK or if it's only for the US but National Geographic says that if you text "groundhog" to 247365 then you'll get his forecast sent straight to your mobile!) And to prove he's even more down with the kids, he'll be updating his Facebook and Twitter pages!

News just in: Phil HAS SEEN his own shadow so we're in for 6 more weeks of winter, apparently!

Well that was fun - if I can find a video I'll post it later!

31 January 2010


The first of 2010's best prospects turns out a bit of a mixed bag.

Yes, that's right. They've got some great singles, they've got good potential, they've... very obviously borrowed a lot of ideas. Not that it stopped me naming them my pick of the year's new crop - but let me just point out that it was before I bought their debut album "Acolyte".

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad album by any means but if you looked at the success rate of each of its tracks, there would be a distinct mountain range dipping between the brilliant and the simply okay.

It's probably not right to go track by track since including opener "Clarion Call" would be a bit unfair considering its only really a short introductory pathway through to their killer track "Doubt". The layers of "Doubt" can only truly be heard through the magic of headphones when all the little nuances reveal themselves (much better than say, a scratchy CD player or a muffly laptop with teeny little speakers). "This Momentary" is a slow burner that shows that they can do gentler tracks. This is possibly my favourite of all the tracks on "Acolyte". It's just a shame that "This Momentary" has been out so long as a Kitsune single and yet they haven't truly developed these ideas across a whole album.

"Red Light", for instance, is at first a promising follow up to "This Momentary" but last so long. So very long. So much longer than a track like this truly should. It erodes you like sandstone in a hurricane after about two and a half minutes and only continues for what seems like hours, the repetitive lyrics that make "This Momentary" seem good weigh "Red Light" down like so many lead balloons. Its not easy going. This is luckily followed by a couple of good tracks, the first being entirely instrumental (and oddly enough a thousand times more engaging and captivating than "Red Light" ever could be) and the second being "Counterpoint", their very first single. It's a mix of both "Doubt" and "This Momentary", and Delphic manage to get the balance right between more hushed electro and straightforward pop. Here they show what they can do and that you can have a six-minute-odd track that doesn't become overly repetitive or soul sapping (there are plenty of them out there of course, but many others fail to stop the formula becoming cloying).

"Submission", too, has elements of this balance but cannot reach the giddy heights of any of the singles - after four minutes the invention seems to fade away a little and it's hard to tell where this track ends and the next one begins. Maybe I spaced out at this point, wondering when the next big single was coming along. It doesn't.

It is very possible that this will be Delphic's problem. They have the potential to make good songs, but meld this idea with trying to be dancey resulting in a mish-mash of brilliant electro moments and fairly generic six-minute trudges. It is also possible that their obsession with making long tracks (few on "Acolyte" are less than five minutes long) is hampering their capability to be truly captivating. This is such a shame considering the initial promise they gave us. Use the scissors next time boys.

Star Power

I feel like I am the only person on the planet who is actually excited about the new Gorillaz album coming out soon - sooner rather than later, in fact, as "Plastic Beach" was apparently going to be released in September but now it's slated for a March release. Perhaps people have just plain forgotten about them. It has been a good five years since they released any original material (curse you, er, older projects!) and a lot can happen in that space of time.

But they're back, you know! Really, seriously. And with some heavy star power behind them too - Bobby Womack feaures on their first single "Stylo" (link above just click the post title, wasn't allowed to embed it unfortunately) and numerous others will appear alongside the regulars on "Plastic Beach" (such as -gasp- Snoop Dogg, Kano, Mos Def, Gruff Rhys, De La Soul, Little Dragon, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Mark E Smith, Lou Reed...); it could be just as eclectic as "Demon Days" and then some.

I could be jumping the gun by saying that they've been sort of forgotten about. I'm sure in a few months the mania will start again and they'll be everywhere, just as they were with "Feel Good Inc", "Dare" and earlier hits like "19-2000" and "Clint Eastwood". Surely no band could contain that many star names and brilliant talent and not be recognised.

It could be their year. Again.

06 January 2010

Top 5 Tips For 2010

I did this last year and was quite pleased to find that I predicted 60% of my tips correctly. This year I would like to think that my predictions are a little more accurate still, but because I don't always stick to what I know will be popular and go for bands which I hope will gain success, I'm not holding my breath! Here they are anyway:

5. The Drums

Summery surf-pop from New York: it's almost impossible to not like at least one of the songs from their "Summertime" EP but if all that joyous smiling and happiness isn't your cup of tea then the band themselves have said that their full debut will be much darker, like a winter of discontent. Ooh err... But they do know how to put a very good pop tune together, and this one is my favourite:

4. Marina And The Diamonds

Marina doesn't actually have a band called The Diamonds, she just derived that from her surname Diamandis. She does quirky tunes in a voice that stands apart from other girls on the pop circuit and being more distinctive should give her a little advantage against some others. Still, her tunes are accessible, despite the cuckoo noises you can hear here!

3. Ellie Goulding

Well, she's won the Critics' Choice Award at the Brits already - considering what happened to Florence and the Machine last year after their win, surely Welsh songstress Ellie can't go wrong? We'll have to wait and see if she can enjoy the success of iron-lunged Florence but for now we can enjoy the light-as-air pop that's reminiscent of Imogen Heap and Frou Frou. Ellie's influences are also very folky, so we could expect an album that swingss from sparkly to sombre soon.

2. Chew Lips

Female-fronted electronic acts are seemingly everywhere nowadays - is it actually possible to tell each of them apart? Well Chew Lips are just that little bit different. They don't try too hard to be popular and they're bubbling under the surface with slow-burning songs and soulful singing. Their debut "Unicorn" is out soon but hopefully this cut will be enough to keep you interested in the meantime.

1. Delphic

It's hard not to fall in love with either one of Delphic's two faces. On the one side we have a slightly more steely, brash, in-your-face band and on the other there are tunes that are obviously dance-inspired but that seem to float away like a feather and transport you in to another world. Today they reached No. 3 of the Beeb's Sound of 2010 list but a huge chunk of me hopes they do much better than that. Underneath it all they're well-formed and lovable.

03 January 2010

Worst of 2009: A Hideous Lookback

Well I had to do this - there are just some songs that I dislike so much that I have to "honour" them. By that I mean that I am going to name them, shame them, and post their videos so that everyone will know of their horribleness. Hopefully then we can exorcise them and never again have to be exposed to these awful tunes. Hopefully. Luckily I'm only going to list three of the worst, so you don't get too bogged down in the marshes of unspeakable horror. Er, enjoy?

30 Seconds To Mars - Kings and Queens

This was so overblown that you could just see that singer guy punching the air when he sings "we are the kings and queens". Yuck. I thought emo was dead? No? Well can I have a gun to finish it off now?

LMFAO - I'm In Miami Trick

No-one needs to be exposed to this kind of rubbish and prancing around. Some guys trying to be dance-rap stars and failing miserably. So they think if you wear shiny clothes and sunglasses indoors that makes you cool? No. That just makes you a laughable idiot. What madman decided it would be a good idea to give these a record deal... it's sickening.

Eminem - We Made You

White rap... It should never have been born, let aloe allowed to survive. At least when Eminem, the poster boy of this abomination, disappeared a few years ago it might have signalled the end. So when he came back, that was hard. I hoped, in vain, that the time off would have given him some good ideas - but I was sorely mistaken. That little intro is practically the same as the one he's been using for years, the video is weird and disturbing, the melody is infuriating, and all this time I'm trying to contain my uncontrollable rage and not throw the remote at the TV. Will the real Slim Shady please sit down and shut up?