Friday, 30 May 2008

'Burn After Reading' - The New Coen Brothers Movie Trailer, feat. Elbow and Spirit

Burn After Reading, out 12 September in the USA, 17 October in the UK.

Being in a state of self-imposed internet quarantine to avoid Lost spoilers until I've managed to watch the finale, the one website I did check was /Film, which gave me the lovely surprise of the above trailer for the new Coen Brothers movie. So I figured I'd share it, coz it's bloody good. As brilliant as No Country for Old Men was, it's great to see something so completely different from the Coens, and great to see some of their regular crew back (Frances McDormand (Joel Coen's wife), George Clooney, and Richard Jenkins who was in The Man Who Wasn't There and Intolerable Cruelty, as well as Six Feet Under, which gives him a free pass in my book). Plus - I'd never have thought I'd say this five years ago, but Brad Pitt has managed to turn himself into one of my favourite actors, via Assassination of Jesse James, Babel, and the also-eagerly-awaited The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (see the pretty astonishing trailer here).

To keep this at least vaguely music-related: there are two songs featured in the trailer, both of which are REALLY GOOD. The first is the first single off the new Elbow album The Seldom Seen Kid (second appearance for Elbow recently on this blog - see also this...). I'm hoping that the presence of an Elbow track in the trailer is the only link between Burn After Reading and Southland Tales (see the trailer, featuring 'Forget Myself' as well as the Pixies' 'Wave of Mutilation', here). The second track is the first single off an album that preceded The Seldom Seen Kid by 40 years: The Family That Plays Together by Spirit, a.k.a. the band that both Led Zeppelin and Pink/Beck ripped off/sampled for 'Stairway to Heaven' (see 'Taurus') and 'Feel Good Time' (see 'Fresh Garbage') respectively.

mp3: [mp3 removed]
(from The Seldom Seen Kid)

mp3: [mp3 removed]
(from The Family That Plays Together)

And to tie this mess of a post all together in a pleasingly circular fashion. Remember why I found this trailer? Coz of 'LOST'. What's the name of the bald dude in that show? John Locke. And who was the keyboardist in Spirit? John Locke. Not the same guy, obviously, coz, y'know, one of them's, like, FICTIONAL. And it's not the philosopher either. Or any of the other John Lockes.
What a ker-azee world we live in, no?

Thursday, 29 May 2008

More New Coldplay - 'Lovers in Japan'

Right here, ready and waiting for y'all to download, listen to, and be happy to:

mp3: Coldplay - Lovers in Japan
(from Viva la Vida or Death And All His Friends)

Very understated for the first two minutes, so much reverb I'd almost think it was fake or a weird pirate recording if the NME review of the album didn't call the song "a jaunty piano rollock drenched in enought 'Joshua Tree' reverb to demolish Red Rocks). The second half does indeed feel rather jaunty, with a piano riff that makes you bounce up and down a little bit in your seat when the drums come in at 2:37. Also, given the reverb and the fact that (again, according to the NME review - an 8/10 if you're interested) "they say they've been influenced by My Bloody Valentine" - would it be silly to suggest that the title might possibly be a reference to Lost in Translation?

There's not much in the lyrics that I can confirm or deny that with ("So come on up, just be patient, don't worry" - that's about it, it's actually very close to being instrumental). The first half of the song certainly isn't too far from that movie's (excellent) soundtrack. Or is it revelatory of my inner prejudices that 'Lovers in Japan' makes me think of two Americans, an older guy and a younger woman? Or is it just my love for that movie?

Aaaaanyway - new Coldplay! Yay! And it's interesting, not obvious. This is A Good Thing.

An insight into my mind involving Leona Lewis, Elbow, and Hummus

1. I am alerted to the fact that, according to NME (and this site) Elbow are apparently "being tapped up [what does 'tapped up' mean?] by the man who wrote Leona Lewis' 'Bleeding Love'." That is, there is a very very remote possibility that Elbow might write the next Leona Lewis album.

2.I go into the kitchen to have something to eat - hummus on toast :)

3. This hummus is SPECIAL HUMMUS. It has olives and tomato puree in it, in addition to the conventional ingredients of chick peas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and sunflower oil. The red shade provided by the tomato puree makes this almost the hummus-world equivalent of the blood orange. One might even call it 'blood hummus'. Which sounds disgusting, but anyway...

4. Blood --> Bleeding --> 'Bleeding Love' by Leona Lewis.

5. Rest of the day: I have 'Bleeding Love' on my head, except in my head it's a duet between Leona and Guy Garvey off of Elbow. Guy's doing more of a spoken-word thang really (just one spoken word, too), in his gruff Manchester voice. This brand new version goes:

Leona: " cut me open and I keep bleeding, keep keep bleeding--"
Guy: "Hummus!"
Leona: "I keep bleeding, I keep keep bleeding--"
Guy: "Hummus!"
Leona: "keep bleeding, keep keep bleeding--"
Guy: "Hummus!"
...and so on ad infinitum.

Seriously, "you cut me open and I keep bleeding hummus". What is wrong with me?!??

In case I haven't already imprinted that auditory image (oxymoron - whatever dude...) on your consciousness, here's the original:

mp3: [mp3 removed]
(from Spirit)

And, to give you an idea of Guy Garvey's "gruff Manchester voice", here's an awesome song by Elbow, the first single off their second album:

mp3: [mp3 removed]
(from Cast of Thousands)

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Animals* Do The Craziest Things: The Sequel

Since the cheeseburger-eating horse was so popular:

Am I the only one who finds this to be THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD EVER?
Discovered at This Recording

*Or puppets of animals :)

Paul Newman!

Click to embiggen.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

New and Exclusive(ish) - WEEZER - Red Album Bonus Track - 'The Weight' (The Band cover)

In an unashamed act of commercialism and pandering to the populous, I'm trying to recreate my most-visited post ever - this one - by posting another brand new, unreleased, and previously un-blogged Weezer. It's a UK bonus track (unavailable even on the US deluxe edition, in all it's 16-track glory) - a cover of 'The Weight' by The Band. Both cover and original, right here:

mp3: [mp3 removed]
(from the UK version of The Red Album)

mp3: [mp3 removed]
(from Music from Big Pink)

The cover is a faithful one, but you can still hear the Weezer-ness. And it's a great song, so it'd be just plain silly of you not download it. And even sillier of you not to say "Ooh, Silverese, you're so big!" in the comments. To which I shall reply: "Thank you ladies. You didn't have to say that."

Monday, 26 May 2008

So What's Conor Oberst Up To These Days? Unreleased Song For Y'All...

Just a quick one. One new band, of sorts, that's playing some festivals this summer - specifically Reading and Leeds, on the Radio 1/NME stage - is Conor Oberst's non-Bright Eyes (i.e. sans-Mike Mogis) project, 'Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band'. This here is the press release:

Conor Oberst - Conor Oberst - August 5, 2008

This recording was made in Tepoztlán, Morelos, México during the months of January and February 2008. In Tepoztlán, a place known for Aztec Magic and Extra-Terrestrial Sightings, a temporary studio was created in a mountain villa called Valle Místico at the outskirts of town. It was produced by Conor Oberst with much help from engineer and long-time associate Andy LeMaster. A special band was assembled for the recording, known amongst themselves and to friends as The Mystic Valley Band. It was there at Valle Místico that Conor and the band lived and worked for that time in near perfect harmony, often unaware of the hour or the day. The result is his first solo album in thirteen years, following Water (1993), Here’s To Special Treatment (1994) and Soundtrack To My Movie (1995). In that time he has recorded and performed in many bands and musical projects including Commander Venus, Park Ave., Desaparecidos, and most notably Bright Eyes, his main musical vehicle for the past decade.

Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band will be touring in support of this album throughout the summer and have already announced an appearance at September’s Austin City Limits festival.

Track List in full:
1. Cape Cañaveral
2. Sausalito
3. Get-Well-Cards
4. Lenders In The Temple
5. Danny Callahan
6. I Don’t Want To Die (In The Hospital)
7. Eagle On A Pole
8. Moab
9. NYC – Gone, Gone
10. Valle Místico (Ruben's Song)
11. Souled Out!!!
12. Milk Thistle

(from Merge Records)

The live track below goes by the name of 'Beach Bum Boy', but given the lyrics I'm pretty sure it's the same as the track 'Get-Well-Cards' that's gonna be the third track on the album. The live version is from a show on 29th December 2007 (yeah, aaaages ago) at the 400 Bar in Minneapolis. Interestingly, pianist and trumpeter Nate Walcott, who's a part of Bright Eyes, is part of Conor's band for the show. It's great quality (soundboard? I don't really understand the technicalities, but to put it simply, it sounds as good as an officially-released live album, to my ears anyway).

mp3: Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band - Beach Bum Song (Live)

Maybe to some the move away from the Bright Eyes moniker might suggest an excuse for a drop in quality, or at the very least a change in musical direction (as with Desaparecidos' emo-punk-isms). But really, this track at least is I'm Wide Awake/Cassadaga-style Bright Eyes in all but name, and it's more than good enough to fit in with that band's catalogue. Time will tell whether the same can be said of the album as a whole, but for now, go listen and be happy.

New Albert Hammond Jr. Single - 'GfC'

First single off the new album, out 7 July, ¿Cómo te Llama?:

mp3: [mp3 removed]
(from ¿Cómo te Llama?)

00:10 - Ooh this is quite catchy. *Smiles, moves from side to side a little bit*
0:25 - "Inside me there's a sad machine" - awww. Poor Albert. Only time will tell whether I shall regret being heir to this knowledge about a machine inside Albert's body.
1:00 - We've had the chorus (during which Albert sounds drunk) and I still don't know what 'GfC' means?! 'Girlfriend Coma'? 'Good for Centre'? 'Graham for Carlos'? 'Graham from California'? 'Graham-free Cereal'? Albert doesn't like Cinammon Grahams?! Or even just ordinary Golden Grahams? Well good, coz they're made by Nestlé and Nestlé are EVIL.
1:10 - OMG this sounds EXACTLY like 'The Sweet Escape' by Gwen Stefani!! With a slightly different pattern of 'woo'-s. This is A Good Thing.
2:10 - Ooh, guitar solo. Much better than Akon wailing about being locked up in his Lamborghini Gallardo or whatever. Akon Schmakon.
3:07 - Oh, it's finished, and there was me spending the last minute of the song thinking about Akon. Oh well, best listen to it again :)

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Risking Prosecution to Bring Y'all - THE BEST SONG OFF THE NEW HOLD STEADY ALBUM - 'Slapped Actress'

Despite liking the first single, 'Sequestered in Memphis' (download here!), I was preparing myself to be disappointed when the whole album leaked a few days later. But after a few listens, I'm preparing myself to become minorly obsessed with Stay Positive. Musically, it absolutely does depart from Boys and Girls in America (there's even a bloody harpsichord on 'One for the Cutters'), and lyrically I think it's certainly complex - there's a lot more to it than girls and boys and bars and drugs and alcohol. One thing that struck me anyway is how strongly the album finishes. It's certainly not what you would call front-loaded. Indeed, the very best, imho, is saved to the very last, with final track and album highlight, 'Slapped Actress':

mp3:The Hold Steady - Slapped Actress REMOVED AT RECORD COMPANY'S REQUEST.
(from Stay Positive, out 14 July)

Maybe the record label will ask me to remove this (or maybe my blog isn't famous enough for them to notice...) but if it's available, download it, and above all, please buy the album and go see them live. I'm posting this song because it's brilliant, and so as to pique your collective interest in a band that really deserve it. That's one disclaimer. Here's another: if I sound unbearably pretentious when talking about this song, or if I sound just plain wrong - well, whatever dude... I'm not saying that this is what Craig Finn is thinking, these are just my thoughts. I kinda admire the belief that once a piece of 'art' - song, poem, movie, play, novel, painting, whatever - is in the public domain, it's unavoidably a part of the world and anyone is free to assign it any (subjective) 'meaning' they want.

Well - this song is arguably the culmination of The Hold Steady's career thusfar. It's certainly a song concerned with being in a band, and explicitly with being in The Hold Steady, as with much of the rest of the album (see the title track for example, where Finn seems bitterly aware of the band's difference in age from the 'boys and girls in America': numerous lines beginning with "There's gonna come a time when", including one about a band: "the kids at their shows will have kids of their own"). Here, however, the incitation to "stay positive" seems more assured. By the end of the song, where the "woah" bits take over, they've graduated from being "the actors": "We are the directors / Our hands will hold steady" - ooh look, it's like THEIR NAME...

There's a whole line of theatrical imagery throughout the song, which they associate with their own profession, and a little bit of the old religious language too ("They're holding their hands out / For the body and blood now" - 'they' seemingly being the fans...eek). The first two stanzas ("Don't tell...") convey some kind of shame about the truth. In the chorus though, they seem to embrace their roles as performers, players, providers of artifice: "We are the actors". On the other hand though, sometimes artifice goes wrong: although "Some nights it's just entertainment", at other times "fake fights turn out bad". In the end, I read the final lyric - "Man, we make our own movies" - as an acceptance of artifice - good, bad or neutral - as an unavoidable part of life. Maybe that's too neat and simplistic, but again - whatever dude...

The sense of both art (in the broadest sense of the word) and religion as things of artifice, and of completely uncertainty, unquantifiable in material terms, impossible to 'prove', makes me think of this amazing quotation from John Ashbery. Also see this article for a link between The Hold Steady and Ashbery. Again, I'm not saying that this is what the song is objectively 'about', because I don't think there's such thing as 'objective meaning' in a song or poem or whatever. Regardless, this a great thought eloquently expressed:

“Most reckless things are beautiful in some way and recklessness is what makes experimental art so beautiful, just as religions are beautiful because of the strong possibility that they are founded on nothing…I feel this in the work of great modern painters such as Jackson Pollock or Mark Rothko. Everyone acknowledges them now as being major artists, and yet, does their work amount to anything? There’s a possibility that it doesn’t, although I believe in it and want it to exist. But I think that part of the strength of their art, in fact, is this doubt as to whether it may be there at all.”

(discovered on this ceaselessly brilliant blog)

Well, that was rambling, pretentious, and at times probably nonsensical - but interesting?? maybe. Regardless, awesome tune :)

Friday, 23 May 2008

'Peaches' by The Presidents of the United States of America - The Marxist Interpretation

The self-titled album from The Presidents of the United States of America is bloody brilliant, mostly nonsensical and completely fun. Which is something that too many bands forget. And they even proper amazing pop tunes. Like it sounds like a greatest hits album or a covers album - seriously, that good. The really rather long piece quoted below is, as this post's title suggests (well, explicitally states...), an interpretation of album highlight 'Peaches', a song with the refrain "Millions of peaches, peaches for me, millions of peaches, peaches for free." Most interpretations of the song are either of the 'it's just words that sound quite funny' type or the 'it's innuendo' type. Being innocent and naive, I'd assumed the former. Then I heard about this. It's from's entry on the song, where one user contributed this analysis. S/He doesn't know who wrote it originally, and so neither do I. One might almost describe it as mythical. It's that good.

If you can't be bothered to read the whole thing, the basic point is: man flees evil capitalist city, where the peaches are tinned and polluted and horrible and EVIL, for the socialist countryside, where the peaches are free and lovely and amazing. But do at least skim it, it's just interesting.

Here's the song, then the analysis:

mp3: [mp3 removed]
(from The Presidents of the United States of America)

"The Marxist Interpretation of Peaches

Before you lauch into this there's something I have to clarify. Just because I say the Presidents are singing about Communism. Doesn't mean that I want Communism. If I said that a certain president's speach last night was about expanding the governemnts role in our lives wouldn't indicate that I agreed with him. I never agree with him. We should have elected the Dole Man, not the guy China paid money for. Many people think "Peaches" is the weirdest song ever written, others think its lame. Both with good reason because it appears to be a pointless rambling of a band who drank a little too much spiked fruitopia. I admit it doesn't seem all that sensible, but if you listen to it enough and ask yourself why anybody would write such a blatantly pointless song. Well the only logical answer is that it isn't blatantly pointless. Just bear with me here. You may just see the hidden meanings. Those of you who hate a deep analysis please link back to my homepage now. If you know the lyrics feel free to hop down to the analysis. I'd like to thank an unknown guy from who probably found the page while at school and pointed out a lyrics blunder. Basically the lyrics I have here I scrawled down while listning to the tune. I'm sorry for any flubs.


"Peaches" is a song discussing the coming of socialism and warning that the revolution shouldn't occur at this exact moment but its coming. The Presidents of the United States of America make repeated reference to the oppression of the capitalistic world and their desires to leave it far be hind. Verses espousing communism are quite prevalent to the end with scattered warnings not to both the revolutionaries and the establishment. In order to escape the capitalistic decay of the city they are moving to the country as indicated by the first stanza. This is repeated like a chorus and contains a double meaning, both with socialistic implications. The most apparent is that the narrator is moving away from the smog of industry to what American's call the country, a rural unindustrialized community with a low population and a high sense of community bonding. The people are geographically more distant but ore emotionally closer. In such communities most of the people work in the area and the community is self-sufficient. There is no more than one of each business (basically a general Store and a gas station). These communities are almost communistic, and generally supported by the US' agrarian socialism programs. The other interpretation is that he is moving to a foreign socialistic country. Once there he's going to eat lots of peaches. The peaches where he is now are tainted with oppression but in the country (which ever one it is) are fresher and more free.

The third stanza discusses capitalism as an unnatural thing. peaches are fruit, and fruit comes from fruit trees not cans. The "It was put there" lines show capitalism as a sexist institution a non-gender specific term like worker, or employee would have been used other wise. The term "factory" is a reference to the factories of the Industrial Revolution when people worked long hours for mere pocket change. Industrial society has lead to placing beautiful nature into a can. Line 14 shows that Nature's candy has been forced into can. The word hand has long been a symbol of a force and strength and also oppressive control hence the American idiom "I've got them eating out of my hand." By placing pie after the can, the Presidents, are implying that we feed upon this oppression. The wishes embodied in the fourth stanza imply a desire and a plan to over through the establishment. A daily consumption of fresh peaches would only be allowed to the common person by a socialistic or communistic economy. Of course the obstacle in the way of the daily peach is the "Sun soaking bulges in the shade". These bulges are the portly capitalists who do nothing but lounge around in the shade while trying to get a tan, because their delicate complexion couldn't take the sun. They're people who haven't worked all their life and have lived by walking on the backs of men.

Capitalism is declared decadent and inescapable. In seventh stanza the Presidents turn up the imagery. The twenty fourth line vents anger at the decay capitalism has caused. By squishing a "rotten peach in my fist" there is an angry attempt to shrink the decay caused by capitalism and squish it out of existence. The anger is given intense force by the word fist which produces an image of anger and strength. The previous line about talking a nap may seem silly and out of place but implies that at present the only way to squish the "rotten peach" of capitalistic decay is in dreams. The 25th line reinforces this idea. Communism and socialism are beliefs that are publicly seen to be feminine. During the Industrial Revolution and the two American Red Scares (after World War I and II) socialists were seen as something less than masculine. They were ridiculed as being week and woman like (as the women's rights movement hadn't quite happened and such a belief was socially acceptable). In modern thought the woman artistically represents an entity of great beauty and equal intelligence, as far as The Presidents of the United States of America are concerned a socialistic/communistic state would be a beautiful thing. Also the tisted roots symbolize the change in ideals from our parents. It is most likely that anyone who grew up in the 50's sees communism as twisted. In America, roots are seen as a metaphor for someone's cultural base, a twist in them would be a twist or change in them. The Presidents have diverged from the beliefs of their parents.

The final verses of the song are set over a heavy slamming of the basses (guibass and bassitar, as they call them) with some distortions producing the sounds of a waging revolution. If one hasn't heard it, you need not fear, the lyrics express the message far more effectively. The Revolution will happen but, the presidents warn that now is not the time with screams of "Not now" and "Not Yet". They hope in time the world will be ready for what the revolution will bring. Where the "beneficial" fruit of communism, here symbolized by peaches, will be free for millions.

Enough interpretting. We may stop and be amused at the ultimate irony. The Presidents of the United States of America are singing favorably about communism. The same communism that Americans have been fighting for years. Please note I don't always agree with the Presidents of the united States of America, whether they are a band or an "elected" man.

Anything above the dashes were written by somebody else. I dont know who wrote this. I'm lookin for the author. This interpretation is better than the "girl parts" one. - Unseen"

OK, so that was reeeeeeeally long - but if you've got this far, congratu-ma-lations. And here's your reward. Yes, there really is a reward. You don't even have to prove that you've read it; you've got this far, you've scrolled aaaall the way down here: here's a free song. It's a Lemon Jelly track that samples 'Peaches', aptly called 'The Fruity Track'. Take a listen:

mp3: Lemon Jelly - The Fruity Track
(from Stay With You EP)

P.S. Thanks Joe. Without you, this post wouldn't exist. Think of the difference you have made to the world. Isn't it humbling?

Thursday, 22 May 2008

New Beck Song - Chemtrails

New music from Beck = A Good Thing.
Here it is:

mp3: [mp3 removed]
(from Modern Guilt)

This isn't the single. It doesn't sound like a single either, but don't let that put you off. Inspirations this time around are very much of the psychedelic ilk. It's kinda half-way in between Mutations and The Information - like some of the tracks off the latter (say 'Dark Star'), except less rapping, more swirling, plus a bit at the end that sounds like The Go! Team. :)

The album, in case you didn't already know, is produced by Dangermouse. Again, this is A Good Thing. Let us rejoice and be happy.

A Correction - In which we discover that a song we liked is actually a cover and have mixed feelings as a result of this discovery

In this post I talked about the Virginia EP, from The National, and specifically about the track 'Without Permission'. And today I found out something I should probably have found out before posting about it - that is, that the song is a cover, of Caroline Martin, who seems to be a fairly obscure folk-ish singer from Bristol (influences: Cat Power, PJ Harvey, Nina Nastasia, Leonard Cohen), of whom John Peel was a fan, which is always A Good Thing.

You can hear her version of 'Without Permission' on, at this page. It's slower, more minimal, and the "please come back for just one day" bit sounds a little bit strange, after hearing the cover-version before the original.

It's a strange feeling, discovering that a song you love doesn't actually originate from the mind you think it did. You almost feel betrayed, fooled. I guess it's why most people feel that original compositions by 'proper bands', as opposed to pop bands who sing songs written by shady, anonymous 'moguls' or 'professional song-writers', are somehow of more value. They sing and play with more genuine emotion because it's their emotions that they're singing/playing about. Which is a completely different mentality to that of the world of classical music. Which gives me an excuse to link back to this post, about the imprint that an 'interpreter' of songs, in that case Glenn Gould, leaves on a work of art.

This feeling of betrayal and disappointment is understandable, but in a way strange, because you could argue that it actually brings you the listener closer to the artist whose cover version you loved, because both of you are in the position of listeners, approaching a separate creation. And in a case like this, it means that you discover a new artist, which is nice.

Oh well, that was my 'thought for the day'. Go listen to Caroline Martin, she's good.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

A Horse That Gets Beers from a Fridge, Answers the Phone, and Eats Cheeseburgers... no, really

I am speechless.
Slightly creeped out, slightly amused, but still...
que. the. heck?!?!

Thank you to Innocent smoothies and their amazing weekly newsletter.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Regaining some indie cred - with THE NEW SINGLE FROM THE HOLD STEADY

Yes, I do believe the capitals were justified.
Boys and Girls in America, whilst at times straying close to self-parody (dude, the record starts with a Kerouac reference...), remains a completely solid and re-listenable record (and it definitely feels like the kinda CD you call a 'record' rather than an 'album'; like you should really own it on dusty vinyl), and the prospect of a follow-up called Stay Positive that basically sticks to the same template is actually really really definitely A Good Thing as far as I'm concerned.
And first single 'Sequestered in Memphis' does the job of making me 'stay positive' (see what I did there??) about the new record:

mp3: The Hold Steady - Sequestered in Memphis
(from Stay Positive)

Bar-room piano intro? Check.
Slightly obtuse lyrics about being young in America? Dude, the title has a word that most people don't use in everyday life, and the name of an American city. As if "sequestered in Memphis" wasn't enough, the rest of the chorus goes "subpoena-ed in Texas". And the opening line is "It started when we were dancing". Seriously, no one else could pull this off.
Melancholy edge? Check: "In bar light she looked alright. In daylight she looked desperate."
Trumpet part that makes you lean back and mime like Louis Armstrong? Also check.

Basically, it's Hold Steady by numbers: if you hate them, you're so not gonna be converted, but if you love them, then unless you're craving sonic progression (and who uses the word 'sonic' anyway, other than Dr. Who?), then in all likelihood you're gonna lurve it.

Also, it is a crime not to own the song linked-to below, for it is pure distilled brilliance in musical form:

mp3: The Hold Steady - First Night
(from Boys and Girls in America)

An interesting article kinda about The Ting Tings...(and some free mp3 goodness!!!)

This is a shameless bid to jump on the bandwagon currently being dragged (all the way to #1) by Salford-based pop-with-indie-cred duo The Ting Tings. They're kinda somewhere between indie-outsider-status and pop-superstar-dom. Probs nearer to the latter, given that they're currently sitting astride the UK singles chart...

Both members - Katie White and Jules De Martino - used to part of the manufactured pop universe. Singer White was in TKO, a band whose split is detailed in this article from The Bolton Evening News, from New Year's Eve 2001:

Trio's K-O spells the end for TKO

FLEDGLING pop group TKO has split -- despite being closer than ever to signing a record deal.

The singing trio called it a day when band member Helen Jones left the band to go solo.

She was the replacement for popular blonde vocalist Katy Malloy -- aka Dizzy -- who left in October 2001.

But rather than find another band member, manager David White said he was "fed up of the constant changes in the band" and decided to rip the group apart.

The remaining two bandmates have gone their separate ways, Katie White, aged 18, is pursuing a solo career and Emma Lally, aged19, is currently working in a shop while she decides on her next move.

Mr White, Katie's father, said he was disappointed the band had split after spending £120,000 on its promotion.

But he added: "The music industry is difficult and 99 per cent of your efforts become wasted.

"Each time a singer left, I had to prepare new posters and publicity. In the end, I thought enough was enough."

TKO -- or Total Knock Out -- formed in Leigh in September 1998 with Katie White, Joanne Leeton, and Emma Lally.

Joanne was the first to leave to be replaced by former Butlins redcoat Katy Malloy.

The band's future appeared to be increasingly safe following gigs at Wembley Arena and the MEN Arena in support of mega-groups such as Steps and Five in front of thousands of people.

But while Katie and Emma became the backbone of the group, they struggled to keep the third member. That led to inconsistency within the band. Mr White said: "Katie is keen to salvage something from this and she is in talks with George Michael's publishers.

"They are very excited about her vocal abilities and have penned some brilliant songs for her."

Katie is in talks with a Manchester promoter about signing a record deal.

According to Mr White, her first gig will be aired to 130 million people in 66 countries -- including Australia and New Zealand -- via satellite television on January 13.

He said: "Katie has benefited hugely from the experience of TKO. She has played more than 300 gigs and her confidence is sky-high.

"She has always been a dedicated musician and the strongest singer of any of the people who have been in the band."

TKO never released a follow-up to their debut single Girlfriend.


September 1998: TKO -- or Total Knock Out -- form with Katie White, Joanne Leeton, and Emma Lally.

February 1999: Begin to play in schools and many under-18 clubs

May 2000: The group film a Channel 4 documentary about being in a band which is shown to schools across the country.

July 2000: Band plays gigs at Olympia in London to a crowd of 10,000 before performing in front of 5,000 at Regents Park.

August 2000: Present a half-hour show on children's channel Trouble. Also appear before Sky Sports' cameras at JJB Stadium during a Wigan Warriors rugby match.

September 2000: TKO make history by releasing their debut single, Girlfriend, on the Internet. Two weeks later they appear on the popular Saturday morning chart show, CD:UK, hosted by former Byker Grove popsters Ant and Dec.

October 2000: Single sells a staggering 5,000 copies -- which would have put them at number 48 in the charts -- but problems as music channels The Box and MTV turn down requests to air the band's video.

November 2000: Joanne sensationally quits the group ahead of its tour with pop sensation Steps. A 21-year-old Butlins redcoat from Bournemouth called Katy Malloy is drafted in as her replacement. Concert goes ahead at Wembley Arena.

December 2000: Manager David White, who bankrolled the group to the tune of more than £130,000, starts looking for a record deal to relieve the cost burden. Band appears before 16,000 people at Manchester's Arena, again with Steps. They immediately fly to Dublin to play alongside boy band Five.

March 2001: Band's bid for pop stardom is boosted by the same talent that helped singer George Michael become a superstar as Jules De-Martino, a member of the former Wham star's song writing team, pens four songs for the Leigh-based musical trio.

April 2001: New songs played for first time at the Bolton Evening News' Pop Fever concert at the Albert Halls.

May 2001: Band locked in talks with huge record label BMG and said to be on the verge of signing a deal worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

July 2001: Deal in the balance so David White unveils plan to release a second single into the shops in October.

October 2001: Despite printing reams of new publicity material and recording the song, the group's hopes are put on hold as Katy Malloy quits.

December 2001: TKO split.

(Article available on the This is Lancashire Archives)

It took them seven years or so, but, via over-crowded early gigs at house parties in Manchester and the requisite internet buzz, they've undoubtedly achieved commercial success.

The fact that this success is on the back of 'That's Not My Name', which actually kinda sucks imho, is irrelevant I guess. They have other better songs - the previous single, 'Great DJ', and the song soundtracking the new iPod ad, 'Shut Up and Let Me Go'. And there's these two songs, from the debut album (out now), We Started Nothing. The first is the one that proves that Katie White can actually sing, as opposed to the yelps of their best-known song, the second is the album's ballad, which isn't as bad a thing as that word usually implies, in that it's still really bouncy, and yes, a bit yelpy. But importantly, they're both good, so download them:

mp3: [mp3 removed]

mp3: [mp3 removed]

(both from We Started Nothing)

Monday, 19 May 2008

First On The Blogs? (again) - New Single from The Subways

Hot damn, I'm on fire with juicy exclusive-ness. Like the car in the picture below. Except the car is on fire just with normal fire, not juicy exclusiveness. I'd imagine that juicy exclusiveness, if it is in fact in liquid form (as the word "juicy" would suggest) would be more of a retardant to fire than a fuel...

I like this album cover. Explosions are happy things.
It's very MANly, with the cars and the flames and all, but still.

Here's the lead single off of it, which isn't out for another 4 weeks:

mp3: [mp3 removed]
(taken from All or Nothing)

It's not as immediate as the singles from All or Nothing's predecessor, the aptly-named Young for Eternity, but to "make a change", as the lyrics go, is definitely a good thing as far as this band is concerned: whilst 'maturing' would normally mean 'getting boring', I think The Subways did kinda need it a bit. And I guess development was inevitable given the fact that:

(a) Young for Eternity was basically all about having fun as a teenager, and the romance between singer/guitarist Billy Lunn and bassist/singer Charlotte Cooper.
(b) During the recording of All or Nothing, the now 23- and 22-year-old Billy and Charlotte broke off their engagement, which they'd announced onstage in 2005.

To get over that (as well as Billy's voice-threatening problems with his vocal cords) as a band, and produce any kind of second album is kinda impressive.

And judging by 'Alright', as well as 'Girls and Boys' (see previous post to download) the signs for their second album are certainly promising, regardless of the personal drama.

First On The Blogs? - New Single from The Music

Well, it doesn't come up on Hype Machine, so I figure I'm the first :)

Straight outta Kippax (it's like a kipper, but with an 'x' at the end - *sigh of satisfaction*), it's the quotationmarksrequiredwhenyougoogleus-tastic quartet The Music, and their new single, 'Strength in Numbers', the title track from the forthcoming new album. Aaaaand, a remix of the album track 'Fire' from the probably-soon-to-be-forgotten Does It Offend You, Yeah?

'Strength in Numbers' is surprisingly strong (no pun intended - no really, I actually only noticed the strength/strong link like 5 minutes after I wrote it, this bracket is a later addendum), given that the four-year wait since 2004's Welcome to the North (due apparently to singer Robert Harvey's problems with alcoholism and depression) had seen the whole guitar-music-meets-dance-music thang being taken in a new direction to more success by the likes of Klaxons. Basically it's Stone Roses meets Kasabian, but not quite as lad-rock (*shudder*) as that might make you think. The vaguely Cloverfield-ish video is on their site, and it has military helicopters, night vision, and a main character who does that music video thing of doing something exciting (like televising a revolution), and then ending up doing something even more exciting - being at a gig by the band whose music video it is - !!!

As far as comeback singles go, I think it has the potential to be genuinely effective. The chorus might sound weak the first time you hear it, but when the bass kicks in at the tw0-minute mark, it suddenly seems a lot bigger. It's got me genuinely excited about going to see them in Wolverhampton in June. And the remix is worth a listen to, even if it's kinda strange hearing a remix without hearing the original. Here they are:

mp3: [mp3 removed]

mp3: [mp3 removed]

(Album versions of both these tracks on Strength In Numbers, out June 16)

P.S. If you need another reason to download these tracks, it is this: The lead guitarist in The Music is named Adam Nutter. And what kind of a world is it where having a lead guitarist who goes by the name of Adam Nutter is anything other than A Good Thing? Exactly.

Friday, 16 May 2008

The National - The Virginia EP

Very Extended Play, this one, at twelve tracks. A mixture of b-sides, demos, live versions and other rarities, The National could easily put this out as a full album (there are versions of two tracks from Boxer, the rest are more likely to be unfamiliar to most fans). As it is, it's the audio half of the CD/DVD package, where the video half is Vincent Moon's (no, really, that is the name he goes by; he bears no relation to Howard and Mr. Noir) film about the band and the creation of Boxer (watch the trailer here), called A Skin, A Night (huh??).

I do love The National, but haven't yet been motivated to check out the pre-Alligator albums. I think this might do the trick though, coz the version of 'Lucky You' (originally on Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers) is pretty amazing.

The highlight of the EP, at least after only a couple of listens (and The National are undoubtedly a band that require more than a couple of listens), is 'Without Permission', a pretty stark and disarmingly frank (at least compared to the crypticisms of putting blue ribbons on brains and all that jazz) post-break-up song. "Please come back for just one day". You could call it slight, or obvious, but I think that'd be missing the point. If there is one. Maybe in someone else's voice it wouldn't come across with the same air of 'just a little bit of defiance left, despite everything'. As it is, it's beautiful.

Just as stark, but darker, the guitars and vocals distorted to the point of incomprehensibility, is another hard-to-find track, 'Rest of Years'. There's a moment in the bridge where the vocals lift and it sounds almost hopeful, but the chorus is sinister and heavy as hell. "I can turn everything around" doesn't sound a promise you'd believe.

The whole package definitely seems worth buying; the EP alone is worth the cash for the two tracks above, and the live version of 'Fake Empire' (so you can marvel at the weird rhythms another forty times, from a slightly different angle). Here's the mp3 dosage:

mp3: [mp3 removed]

mp3: [mp3 removed]

(both from A Skin, A Night/The Virginia EP)

Thursday, 15 May 2008

New Flight of the Conchords Video - Ladies of the World

OK so the song (from their recently released self-titled album - which is good and all, it's just that the only new song is 22 seconds long...) isn't new, but the video is (as in, it's not taken from the TV show). And Jemaine has a lovely moustache. Which is nice, isn't it?

The best bit is the post-fade-out bit, where they're gently ascending heaven-wards, by the power of their own arms. Jemaine uses the side-bits of his jacket to assist in the flapping motion.

On the subject of post-fade-out-fade-in- and-then-out-again bits - umm, so what's the deal with them anyways? Is it some kinda 'hold on, you thought this song was over, BUT IT'S NOT!!!! hahahaha' thing? I don't really understand. Any elucidation would be welcome.

The only other two I know of are these, and as far as I'm aware, the second is deliberately referencing the first. I'm pretty sure the Conchords aren't aping Morrissey and Marr though, despite the plethora of reference-points in the rest of their repertoire (Bowie, Pet Shop Boys, Daft Punk).

mp3: The Smiths - That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore
(from Meat is Murder)

mp3: Ryan Adams - Anybody Wanna Take Me Home
(from Rock N Roll)

And, just coz it's good (and possibly the only song in the world ever with the word "Namibian" in it?), here's the Flight of the Conchords track, complete with fade-out-in-out bit.

mp3: Flight of the Conchords - Ladies of the World
(from Flight of the Conchords)

P.S. Seen Ryan Adams lately? - eeeek...

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

New Rapture Track...thank you video game soundtracks :)

From within a slew of slightly underwhelming new tracks from established bands (I'm hoping that 'Rage (Rat Is Dead)', 'Violet Hill' and 'Hippy's Son' aren't the best things on the new albums from CSS, Coldplay and Dirty Pretty Things respectively; as for Oasis and The Vines, I've kinda given up hope :( ), comes something actually totally awesome, from none other than The Rapture.

Produced by Timbaland (how many times have you read that phrase recently... Google gives 128,000 results...), 'No Sex for Ben' is on the soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto IV, specifically on the 'indie' station, Radio Broker, which is DJed by none other than Juliette Lewis.

mp3: The Rapture - No Sex for Ben
(from Grand Theft Auto IV soundtrack)

Soundtracks, especially game soundtracks, seem to have loads of hidden gems. The soundtrack to Driver: Parallel Lines features a track by none other than the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (I wanna new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album pleeeease...), and none other than Regina Spektor pops up on the soundtrack to the new Narnia movie (euurgh..) with a new song (if anyone knows how I'd get hold of it, pleeeease let me know...).

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs track, which also appears on the Spiderman 3 soundtrack, is insanely good, though I don't know whether it would have fitted on Show Your Bones. Download it:

mp3: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Sealings
(from the Spiderman 3 OST)

An Ambiguous Animation Painted on Public Walls

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

This is AMAZING, right? I'm not the only one who thinks it is, am I?

It makes me think of the artwork for the Beck album 'Guero' (under-rated, imho) by Marcel Dzama, both in terms of the style and in the general strange-ness. I so prefer this to Banksy. I begrudgingly respect certain of his work, and if I look in my heart of hearts I suppose that if he wasn't quite so famous I might like him a bit more. But it's a bit self-consciously controversial, a bit "ooh-look-at-me-I'm-SUBVERSIVE). He makes me think of this thing what Tina Fey said:

RD: What pleases you more, applause or laughter?
Fey: Laughter. You can prompt applause with a sign. My friend, SNL writer Seth Meyers, coined the term clapter, which is when you do a political joke and people go, "Woo-hoo." It means they sort of approve but didn't really like it that much. You hear a lot of that on [whispers] The Daily Show.

(From an interview with Reader's Digest)

Basically it just comes down to the fact that I'd much rather have a cup of tea with the person who created this:...than the person who created this. Not that cup-of-tea-a-bility should be the criterion on which to base a view of art, but whatever dude.
I infinitely prefer the Banks who sings on this track to the aforementioned Banksy. And here also is a bonus track off of Guero, and a lovely track it is too:

mp3: Interpol - Specialist
(taken from The Black EP)

mp3: Beck - Send a Message to Her
(taken from the UK version of Guero)

Did you download those tracks? Seriously, you should feel guilty for at least eighteen seconds if you didn't, coz they're both really bloody good. REALLY BLOODY GOOD. Yahearme?? You know what's good for you. Do it. Do it now. Do it do it do it do it do it do it do it now.

P.S. New Beck album next month - yaaaaaaay :)

Monday, 12 May 2008

Coldplay - 'Lost' and Weezer - 'The Greatest Man That Ever Lived' - Re-Uploaded


I've been trying to work out what host to use for the mp3s posted here without much success ever since I (re)started this blog. The early posts are on Hotlink Files, which is OK, but a bit slow. So I changed over to SnapDrive. The Weezer and Coldplay tracks were upped there, but for some reason I can't be bothered to work out, it didn't work. So now I'm on Mediafire, which doesn't provide direct links, but I thiiiink it's reliable. Touch wood etc etc.

So Weezer and Coldplay have been re-upped, and hopefully they should work.

Let me know in the comments if they don't, or if you have any advice on file hosts, or if you just wanna say hi, or any other word, or... //

Here are the songs again, just in case.

mp3: Weezer - The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)
(from the Red album)

mp3: Coldplay - Lost
(from Viva La Vida)

New Coldplay Track #4

First there was the single, 'Violet Hill', then the b-side of the NME-distributed 7" single, 'A Spell A Rebel Yell', then the album's title track, 'Viva La Vida'. You can find them all on Hype Machine. This is also on the new album (undefaced artwork above - La Liberté guidant le peuple by Eugène Delacroix), and on the German 'Violet Hill' EP too apparently, it's a piano ballad. Chris Martin quoted the opening lyric "Just because I'm losing / Doesn't mean I'm lost", elucidating as follows:

"That means that whatever slings and arrows come your way, you've gotta just keep going. That's my motto. It''s quite a long motto and it's not in Latin, but it is quite a good motto."

And lyrically, I really like it. "I'm just waiting til the shine wears off."
Musically, I really hate the fact that the opening can't help but make me think of 'Stuck in the Middle' by Mika (why do I even know that song??), but other than that it's fairly strong, if not as much of a departure from previous Coldplay as 'Violet Hill''s 'Creep'-esque heavy guitar stabs and 'Viva La Vida''s staccato strings, least of all 'A Spell A Rebel Yell''s Kid A-isms.

Anyway, here's the track:

mp3: Coldplay - Lost
(from Viva La Vida, out in one month's time)

P.S. According to iTunes, the album version is actually called 'Lost!', and there's a bonus acoustic version called 'Lost?'... mysterious...