The blog is still going but, after six years, I finally got my got my own URL:
Please update your links and join me at my new digs.
The blog is still going but, after six years, I finally got my got my own URL:
Please update your links and join me at my new digs.
By now you've probably heard that Jack White and Alicia Keys are doing the theme song for the new Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. Disappointingly, the song is called "Another Way to Die" -- presumably because it would be really hard to work the film's title into the chorus. (How about "your love is lawless / the Quantum of Solace"? That totally works.) Which is probably also why the theme to Octopussy was titled "All Time High." (Again, they could've sung "James is no wussy / he loves Octopussy") Also, since the movie title this time doesn't feature a generic combination of "live," "die" or "kill" they sort of had to put it in the theme song. And I bet Sony execs with "Another Way to Die" was the name of the movie. But not me, I've grown to like Quantum of Solace. It's better than GoldenEye.
I think having Jack White behind the controls of this first-ever Bond duet is a potentially great thing. The closest we've had to a good Bond theme in the last 20 years is Garbage's "The World is Not Enough," though it cribs so liberally from John Barry's ouvre it sounds more like a cover to me. David Arnold has scored the last four films and he gets the Barry-but-updated vibe mostly right (though sometimes it drifts a little to far to hair salon music for my taste) but he's not much of a songwriter. Hopefully Jack White has written a song worthy of 007 and produced it in a way that will still sound like a classic 40 years from now, the way my favorite Bond theme, "You Only Live Twice," does. Nancy Sinatra sang the original (sampled by Robbie Williams on his 1999 hit "Millenium"), but here's a cover by onetime Chameleons frontman Mark Burgess:
I think that was from some aborted Imaginary Records tribute album. (The label put out a zillion of them in the late '80s/early '90s). Bjork also covered "You Only Live Twice" for 1997's Shaken and Stirred: The David Arnold James Bond Project, which was a bunch of covers all produced by the man who would end up landing the job as 007's music man a year later. It ended up being pulled from the album at the request of Bjork herself, and she later explained why: "I learned the hard way that you should never cover your favorite tunes because they are good already. Cover bad tunes and make them good." I agree with her argument but it's a pretty gorgeous rendition:
MP3: Bjork - You Only Live Twice
It's removal was probably for the best, as most of Shaken and Stirred hasn't particularly aged well, reeking of mid-'90s UK electronica (Leftfield, Big Beat stars Propellerheads who you may remember scored a hit with Bond's golden girl, Shirley Bassey), though he did cast well with some appropriately melodramatic singers: ABC's Martin Fry, then-hot-stuff David McAlmont, and Pulp who covered Octopussy's "All Time High" as only they could do:
MP3: Pulp - All Time High
And one original for you, the unused original Thunderball theme song, and a great one, "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" as sung by Dione Warwick.
MP3: Dione Warwick - Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Way better than Tom Jones' hamfisted "Thunderball" they ended up using. "He strikes like Thunderball"? Really?
I first heard Leeds, UK trio Sky Larkin's "Keepsakes" on a Indie MP3 compilation two or three years ago and have been keeping an ear out ever since. We're talking a pretty straightforward '90s-ish indie sound (they remind me of Madder Rose if you remember them) but the songwriting is great with a nice sense of humor, and Katie Harkin's got an appealing voice.
The band have been a bit pokey in releasing material since then -- two great singles ("Molten" and "One of Two") and an EP of covers -- but the band recently spent a month or so recording their debut LP in Seattle with John Goodmanson (The Long Winters, Sleater-Kinney). As far as I know the band didn't play one show while in Seattle but Sky Larkin are coming to NYC next month where they'll be playing Piano's on August 13. I would have to imagine they'll make the most of the trip and book additional shows (Skippy, they need to play Union Hall) but you might want to clear space on your calendar now.
UPDATE: Ask and ye shall receive. Sky Larkin play Union Hall on August 14. Next time I'm going to ask for something bigger.
MP3: Sky Larkin - Molten
And a couple videos:
"One of Two"
This item was in Pitchfork's News section today:
Does this seem a little weird to anyone else? Times New Viking-- among the grittiest-sounding groups that fall under the "pop" descriptor-- plan to spend the second half of February tooling around North America with none other than that highest-of-the-hi-fi acts, Super Furry Animals. I mean, I'm all for it-- great bands, both-- but this is a bit like having Tom Waits open for David Bowie, or the Wu for Kanye.
First of all, I know they've relaxed what is called "news" at Pitchfork, but this seems especially bloggy. Secondly, and more importantly... what? How is a band that is barely three years old opening for one of the best bands of the last 15 years anything like Tom Waits opening for David Bowie. If anything it's like Kanye opening for the Wu, not the other way around.
I realize writer Paul Thompson was talking more about slick-versus-grit and I sort of get what he's saying, but he could've chosen a lot better examples for his analogies. And it just comes off as kind of ill-informed. While a lot of their '00s albums have been technologically advanced, the new Super Furry Animals album, Hey Venus!, is pretty stripped down, five-guys-in-a-room sort of affair. And I'm hoping this tour will follow suit. And they can be plenty noisy. Still I was trying to come up with a better analogy for Bowie, but the TWD is the kind of guy who probably would've had Pere Ubu open for him. Maybe he did.
It doesn't seem that weird a match-up to me. Is it any weirder than Holy Fuck opening for them this Friday at Music Hall of Williamsburg? As I'm going to it and the SFA/TNV show at Bowery Ballroom on February 24. I'll be the judge.
Meanwhile, Hey Venus!, which made my Best of 2007 list, is finally out in the US this week and the CD comes with a bonus disc of four additional songs from the recording sessions, plus the "Run Away" video and footage of the band in the studio. The four new tracks aren't throwaways, either. They're all really good, which should be no surprise to anyone who picked up their B-sides comp or listened the excellent Rings Around the World bonus disc. A taster:
Here are all the tour dates for the 'Furries upcoming tour. Beggars Banquet has created a widget that allows you to select a date and make requests for what songs you want to hear from a list of about 40 songs or so. (It did not include the one I wanted to request, "Ysbeidiau Heulog" from the all-Welsh Mwng.) It also automatically plays music, so I've included it after the jump.
Oh happy day. Ever since Rings Around the World, Super Furry Animals have opted for bigger venues like Irving Plaza, Hammerstein Ballroom and Webster Hall. But for their forthcoming Hey Venus tour, the NYC area is getting Maxwells, Music Hall of Williamsburg and Bowery Ballroom! I still remember the Guerrilla tour at BB when they brought out a horn section for "Northern Lights" and they were dressed as nuns.
After three albums that found the band getting progressively bigger, more complex and with a greater reliance on technology, Hey Venus is a stripped-down affair and I'm hoping that the tour, which begins January 23 at Maxwells and finishes a month later at Bowery, will be free of laptop backing tracks, illuminated costumes, synched projections, 5.1 surround sound, and other such lily guilding. As much fun as that stuff was, Super Furry Animals don't need it. They're good enough on their own.
MP3: Super Furry Animals - Into the Night (buy it on digital or vinyl)
01/23/07 Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwell's*
01/25/07 Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg*
01/26/07 Philadelphia, PA @ Starlight Ballroom*
01/27/07 Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club*%
01/29/07 Carrboro, NC @ Cat's Cradle*%
01/30/07 Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse*%
01/31/07 New Orleans, LA @ The Republic*%
02/01/07 Dallas, TX @ Granada Theatre*%
02/02/07 Austin, TX @ Emo's*
02/05/07 Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress*
02/06/07 Solona Beach, CA @ Belly Up*
02/08/07 Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex*
02/09/07 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall*
02/11/07 Portland, OR @ Doug Fir*
02/12/07 Seattle, WA @ Neumo's*
02/15/07 Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theatre
02/16/07 Chicago, IL @ Metro
02/17/07 Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick
02/18/07 Buffalo, NY @ Tralf Music Hall
02/20/07 Toronto, ONT @ Mod Club
02/21/07 Montreal, QUE @ Cabaret Music Hall
02/22/07 Ithaca, NY @ Cornell University
02/23/07 Boston, NY @ The Paradise
02/25/07 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
The day before the tour starts will see CD release of Hey Venus. So far it's been digital or vinyl for America. The CD will have previously unreleased bonus stuff. Also, the 'Furries are getting into the holiday spirit and will be giving away a download of their new single, "The Gift that Keeps Giving," on Christmas Day from their website.
2008 will also see the release of the debut from Neon Neon, a collaboration between SFA frontman Gruff Rhys and Boom Bip, that features guest appearances from Spankrock, Yo Magesty, Har Mar Superstar and more. New single "Raquel" can be heard right here:
MP3: Neon Neon - Raquel
Photo of SFA in Barcelona swiped from Alterna2's Flickr photostream.
This post should really be written in all lower-case, as The Lodger really seem like the kind of band '90s zine chickfactor would've featured prominently if it were still around. (Well, it is, in website form, but it's not quite the same thing.) The rush of jangly guitars, uber-pop melodies, mandatory 7"-only releases... that "indiepop" sound that got it's start with Dan Treacy and Edwyn Collins and has been carried on by The Wedding Present, Heavenly, Velocity Girl, Small Factory, Tender Trap, and Spearmint, to name but a few. The Lodger have it pastel-coloured spades.
Originally a trio from Leeds, UK, the Lodger have a few lineup changes since forming three years ago. They're now a quartet and I'm pretty sure only one of the three people in this picture is still in the band. (That would be singer Ben Siddal, middle, who sounds a lot to me like Sice of The Boo Radleys.) And I'm not sure if the new lineup played on their debut album, Grown-Ups, which was released early this summer on longtime US indie label, Slumberland. It is a 14-song example of superior, quintessential indiepop.
MP3: The Lodger - Getting Special (Buy Grown-Ups)
Most excitingly, The Lodger have hopped the pond for an East Coast tour that starts tonight with a free show at Sound Fix Records in Williamsburg, with two more dates in NY (including an alluring show Monday at Union Hall with Holly Golightly) and continuing down South to Athens, GA. Do check them out if they're playing near you. Anoraks are optional. Here's the full list of dates:
Thursday Oct 25 - Sound Fix Records, Brooklyn w/L'il Hospital and The Besties (8:00pm)
Friday Oct 26 - Cake Shop, NYC w/Pants Yell!, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, In Interview (+ party afterwards...)
Saturday Oct 27 - Khyber Pass, Philadelphia w/Public Record, Brown Recluse Sings & Small Sins
Sunday Oct 28 - Velvet Lounge, Washington, DC w/Lorelei & Public Record
Monday Oct 29 - Union Hall, Brooklyn NY w/Holly Golightly & The Griefs (tix)
Tuesday Oct 30 - Mojo 13, Wilmington DE w/Deaf Not Dead, The Defog
Thursday Nov 1 - The Camel, Richmond, VA w/Cinemasophia & Now Sleepyhead
Friday Nov 2 - Duke University Coffeehouse, Durham, NC w/ Dom Casual, The Future Kings of Nowhere and Gray Young (part of the Troika Music Festival)
Saturday Nov 3 - Flicker Theater and Bar, Athens, GA w/Spring Tigers
If you want to hear more, longtime fan Untouched by Work or Duty also has an MP3, and there are a few on the Slumberland website.
While on Ollie Evans' page on the Partizan Pictures website, I saw that they had just posted the video for the new Young Knives single, "Terra Firma."
I was expecting the first new single from the Hartnol brothers to be "Fit for You," which they've been playing at live shows for some time. Maybe they're saving it for when the album is closer to release, as they don't even have a title yet. (I don't even think they've finished recording with producer Tony Doogan [Belle & Sebastian, Delgados, SFA]).
Nonetheless, "Terra Firma" is more friendly than almost anything the Young Knives have released before, yet there's no question whose song it is.
MP3: Young Knives - Terra Firma
Sorry you didn't win the Mercury, guys. Oh, here's the video:
There are a lot of potential nominees for Party Record of the Year (LCD Soundsystem, Simian Mobile Disco, Justice, New Young Pony Club) but Calvin Harris' I Created Disco is certainly up there. Brash, funny, and funky (and ultimately disposable), it's about as good a going out album are you're likely to be listening to right now. All the more impressive when you learn it was made in Harris' spare time on an old Amiga computer. (So the legend goes, at least.)
It sounds it too, minimal with rarely more than a beat, a bassline and the 23-year-old's voice. And maybe a little synthesizer. The sound owes a whole lot to the year of his birth -- from the single "Acceptable in the '80s," to the Visage-cribbing "Colours," to his, at times, uncanny vocal resemblance to Phil Oakey. Released earlier this summer in the UK, I Created Disco gets its stateside debut September 4. A week later, Calvin makes his way here for his first US shows, including a stop at Mercury Lounge on September 12. Tickets are on sale now. He also plays The Echo in Los Angeles on the 14th. I kinda wish the NYC show was happening at Studio B, which seems more appropriate, but what are you gonna do.
Here's the new UK single, "Merry Making at My Place," the second-best track ever to feature the repeated phrase "My house, my house."
MP3: Calvin Harris - Merry Making at My Place (pre-order I Created Disco)
And the video:
Figurines' eagerly-anticipated third album, When the Deer Wore Blue, hits U.S. stores September 11 and is a bit of a change for the band previously known for their jangly guitars. All that time in America last year touring for Skeleton had an affect on these Danes, as the new album is a bit moodier and more harmony-laden with a nods to the Beach Boys and even some guitar licks I'd call Southern-fried. But it still features the stop-start rhythms we've come to know and love. Here's one of When the Deer Wore Blue's more Figurines-ish sounding songs:
The band are heading our way, too, this fall for a fairly extensive North American tour that hits at least some of the Midwest before ending in a two-night stint at NYC's Mercury Lounge -- surprisingly not during CMJ.
10-11 Seattle, WA - Crocodile Cafe *
10-12 Vancouver, British Columbia - Media Club *
10-13 Portland, OR - Berbati's *
10-15 San Francisco, CA - Bottom of the Hill *
10-16 Los Angeles, CA - Spaceland *
10-17 Tucson, AZ - Club Congress *
10-19 Austin, TX - Emo's *
10-20 Dallas, TX - Cavern Club *
10-23 Minneapolis, MN - 7th St. Entry *
10-24 Chicago, IL - Schubas *
10-26 Toronto, Ontario - El Mocambo
10-27 Montreal, Quebec - Club Lambi *
10-28 Boston, MA - Middle East
10-29 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's
10-31 New York, NY - Mercury Lounge
11-01 New York, NY - Mercury Lounge
* with Dappled Cities
When I first heard Maps' debut, We Can Create, I knew it would make the shortlist for the Mercury Prize. And it did. The gorgeous washes of synthesizer, layer upon layer of sound, but with pop underpinnings, it's the kind of album that gets nominated but never wins. "It's just an honor to be nominated," Maps-maker James Chapman will say when Bat for Lashes wins. (That's right, I'm declaring it right now.)
A record that's flown mostly under the radar so far this year, the dense electronic miasma that is We Can Create should appeal to fans of Ulrich Schnauss, the MORR label, My Bloody Valentine, Chapterhouse... basically anything that is shoegazy (and a bit gothy) but has loads of keyboards. Chatman's press photos are a little silly, but there's no faulting the music.
I'm sure there's some (bad) joke to be made about Maps and touring, but I didn't get a whole lot of sleep last night so if you've got a good one, write it in the comments, won't you? The point is Maps are coming to America for a short tour in September, including two NYC dates. As the album was made in Chapman's bedroom on a 16-track, I'm not sure how it's going to translate to a live show. But I'm willing to find out.
Maps on tour:
9.22 Seattle, WA KEXP Benefit – Crocodile Cafe
9.24 San Francisco, CA Bottom Of The Hill (tickets)
9.26 Los Angeles, CA Spaceland (tickets)
9.28 New York, NY Mercury Lounge
9.29 Brooklyn, NY Luna Lounge (tickets)