Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Omar K

I heard this amazing sound while shopping at Amoeba the other day. Blaring over the loudspeakers was something that sounded like Siouxsie And The Banshees circa Juju being played in the middle of a noisy, bustling middle-eastern market. There were synths, sharp-edged guitars, female vocals, lots of eastern instruments, and a hot beat. I was transfixed!

Needless to say, I quickly made for the information counter to find out that I was listening to The Basta, the first EP from LA-based husband and wife duo Rainbow Arabia. I bought the EP on the spot and can't stop listening to it. It reminds me a bit of M.I.A. or Santogold (as it would) but it seems to have a bit more of a punk edge to it that I like. A lot.

I have since learned that they're recording their first album for release in Spring '09, so I'm looking forward to that. They were also recently featured on Perfect As Cats, one of the Cure tributes I wrote about last March. I'm going to have to hunt this down because hearing them cover "Six Different Ways" (from The Cure's eastern-tinged The Head On The Door) could be very cool indeed.

The folks at Amoeba followed this up with...ZZ Top. Ugh.

Listen:

Rainbow Arabia - Omar K

Friday, December 5, 2008

(More) Years Of Refusal

You might remember a post from way back in May where I mentioned the upcoming Morrissey record Years Of Refusal. It was to have been released in September but was pushed back at the request of the label and now has a UK release date of February 16, 2009.

The cover looks to my eyes like a possible homage to Whipped Cream & Other Delights. Don't know what the baby is all about, but I think I'd prefer whipped cream.

A US tour is scheduled to begin near the release, which is odd considering that (at last report) he is without a US record deal after having sacked Universal earlier this year due to poor promotion of his latest greatest hits compilation. One assumes that will be cleared up in time for the tour. No point promoting an album fans can't buy...right?

Anyway, recent live staple "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris" will be the first single, released February 9th and featuring b-sides "Because Of My Poor Education" and "Shame Is The Name" (the latter with backing vocals by Chrissie Hynde). Details on formats are forthcoming.

BMG's reissue of Southpaw Grammar is set to be released the week after Years Of Refusal. As previously mentioned, it will be remastered and feature three unreleased tracks from the recording sessions as well as new cover art (the typography of which is vaguely ChangesOneBowie-like, no?). The tracklisting has been re-sequenced, which is interesting. I wonder if he's trying to set an often misunderstood album in a new context.

It has also been reported that Universal will reissue a remastered and redesigned Maladjusted at the same time though details of bonus tracks (if there are any) and cover art have yet to be announced.

The Girl With The Patent Leather Face

I don't know how I missed this, but seminal 80s compilation Some Bizzare Album has been reissued on CD for the first time since a limited pressing in 1992. Prior to that it was only available on vinyl which had become rather scarce and was selling for loads on eBay.

The record is probably most famous for featuring Depeche Mode's first released recording: the "Some Bizzare Version" of "Photographic" (which was made considerably less rare by its inclusion on The Singles 81>85) as well as Soft Cell's "The Girl With The Patent Leather Face" which has never been released anywhere else. The The and Blancmange also make rare early appearances.

In other Soft Cell news, their classic first album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret has been given the deluxe edition treatment. The 2-disc set features the album as well as its companion remix album Non-Stop Exotic Dancing and various period b-sides and non-album singles. I'll have to do some research to see if this is the definitive version of the album (I have two other pressings) but something tells me it won't be. Typical.

A remix album called Heat: The Remixes was released simultaneously. It features 26 remixes by Manhattan Clique, Richard X, Playgroup, Solvent, and Atomizer and a host of others. I haven't delved into all of it yet but the remixes I've heard did a good job at the balancing act of maintaining respect for - and the spirit of - the original track while still giving it a contemporary update.

Listen:

Soft Cell - The Girl With The Patent Leather Face
Soft Cell - Seedy Films (Richard X Remix)

4AD 2008 Sampler

The folks over at 4AD have offered up a sampler of stuff they've released in 2008 and for the small price of your e-mail address you can download them all for free.

Remember the days when a 4AD sampler might be bound in a hard cover book, or come in a limited edition wooden box? Oh modern record company climate, what have you done? I should stop complaining and just be glad 4AD even exists anymore and is still putting out great records.

Gripes aside, there's some tasty stuff to be had from The Breeders, Stereolab, Deerhunter, and TV On The Radio among others so check it out!






Thursday, December 4, 2008

Paper Planes

Pitchfork is, like, really excited about this year's "surprisingly relevant" Grammy nominations but aside from a few names on the list, it's the usual boring middle-of-the-road dreck. Duffy, Adele, and Jonas brothers are up for Best New Artist and if that doesn't sum it up perfectly, I don't know what will.

Some of my favorites are nominated for awards: Robyn is up for Best Electronic/Dance Album, Rufus Wainwright got a nod for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, and Radiohead was nominated for several awards including Album of the Year, Best Rock Song, and Best Alternative Music Album.

I wonder whether - if M.I.A. wins Record of the Year for "Paper Planes" - the terrorists will have won by proxy. Totally kidding. I'm not a huge fan but I think it'd be pretty cool if she won it. She's anything but boring. And she's not Adele. Or Duffy.

Watch "Paper Planes":

New York, I Love You...

This is a fairly frivolous post, but the video below of Kermit singing along to LCD Soundsystem's "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" is priceless. Be sure to stay to the end!

Thankfully, recent rumours that LCD Soundsystem had disbanded were just that so I look forward to their next album, whenever James gets around to it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

30 Century Man

The Scott Walker documentary 30 Century Man is finally making its way to theatres in the US. It begins a run at the IFC Center in New York on December 17 and will also play at Landmark Cinemas in Berkeley and San Francisco starting January 23, 2009. Other cities are still being sorted out. I'm crossing my fingers for LA! If you're interested in seeing the film in a theatre near you, check out this post from director Stephen Kijak.

For those unable to make it to a screening, the critically acclaimed film is scheduled to be released on DVD by Plexifilm in Spring '09.

In other Scott Walker news, a tribute album is in the works to coincide with the US release of the film. Artists signed up for the project include Saint Etienne, Dot Allison, Damon & Naomi, Laurie Anderson, Ulrich Schnauss, The Duke Spitit. Sounds like it'll be great.

Watch the trailer for 30 Century Man:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Always The Bridesmaid

I've been sworn to secrecy for a few weeks but can now report that The Decemberists have a bunch of releases in the pipeline.

First up is Always The Bridesmaid: A Singles Series which, as the title hints, is a series of three singles coming our way on a monthly basis. The first is called "Valerie Plame" and will be released on 10/14 via Capitol in the US and Rough Trade in the UK. With a song title like that, methinks the band might be getting political again! Tracklists and release dates are:

Volume I - October 14, 2008
A. Valerie Plame
B. O New England

Volume II - November 4, 2008
A. Days Of Elaine
B1. Days Of Elaine (Long)
B2. I'm Sticking With You

Volume III - December 2, 2008
A. Record Year For Rainfall
B. Raincoat Song

The singles will be available digitally and on colored 180 gram audiophile 12" vinyl in the US and 7" vinyl and the UK and feature songs that the band felt would not fit on their forthcoming LP. I've always loved a good non-album single or three. The new album is described as "a tough bit of leather...a little mossy, a little evil." I can't wait! No release date for that just yet, but my guess is we'll see it early in 2009. While we wait, The Decemberists will perform "Valerie Plame" on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on 11/3.

Watch The Decemberists first foray into politics:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dreaming Of Dreaming

I was really into Secret Machines around the time of their first album. A friend tipped me to the band before Now Here Is Nowhere while they were streaming it on their site for what seemed like months before the proper release. I ended up seeing them live three or four times in support of that album and I was a big fan.

I have to admit, I got a bit burned out though. The problem might have been that I saw them live so many times in support of their debut that I got a bit bored (hello, Interpol) but also, I thought their second album, Ten Silver Drops, was boring. At least initially. It wasn't until months later when I took a chance on a used copy of the album that I realized it was just as good as the first.

Album #3 (self-titled) is about to hit shelves on 10/14, self-released through World's Fair. Another band leaves the majors to go the indie route. I like it. There has been a line-up change (brother Benjamin left to work on his other band, which sounds pretty interesting) but based on just-released non-album track "Dreaming Of Dreaming" the sound hasn't changed all that much. And that's a good thing. I really like the new song and am looking forward to the record.

Download: The Secret Machines - Dreaming Of Dreaming

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I Heard Wonders

The first proper David Holmes solo album since 2000 is called The Holy Pictures and will be released on 9/8 (UK; no word on a US release yet).

Lead single "I Heard Wonders" sounds like The Jesus And Mary Chain drenched in a '60s sunny summer haze and I like it. A lot. It's released on 9/1 (UK again) and the formats look to be a CD and 7". The track lists are:

CD
1. I Heard Wonders (Radio Edit)
2. I Heard Wonders (Andrew Weatherall Mix)
3. The Dogs They Are Parading

7"
A. I Heard Wonders (Radio Edit)
B. I Heard Wonders (Andrew Weatherall Mix)

I'm really looking forward to hearing that Andrew Weatherall mix. I have a feeling he could do something pretty special with this one. The album sounds like it's going to be good based on the new tracks on David's MySpace player.

Watch the video for "I Heard Wonders":

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Meltdown In A Major

well, two of them anyway...Montreal's The Dears have announced that their fourth record, called Missiles, will be released on 10/21. The album will be released by Maple Music in Canada but the band has jumped to Dangerbird for the rest of the world, saying that their "relationships with Bella Union and Arts & Crafts had run their course."

The band line-up has seen a bit of upheaval since their last record, Gang Of Losers, was released in 2006. The Dears are down to a core of Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak but will tour in a new line-up as a seven-piece this fall. I haven't seen any cover art or track listings just yet, but a song called "Meltdown In A Major" (which one assumes will be on the new album) is now streaming on their website. And it is gorgeous! I cannot wait for this record.

Stream: Meltdown In A Major

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

You Should've Been Nice To Me

You may remember some talk around these parts about the upcoming reissue of Morrissey's Southpaw Grammar. Guitarist Boz Boorer has confirmed that two of the bonus tracks on the reissue will be "Honey You Know Where To Find Me" and "You Should've Been Nice To Me" which means that two of the three bonus tracks are bona fide previously unreleased tracks. Not sure what the third one is yet, but this Wiki entry suggests it will be "Laughing Anne," another unreleased song from the same period.

I recently listened to the album for the first time in years and found myself really enjoying it so I'm looking forward to having more from that period. The reissue was supposedly coming out in July but I can't find a release date for it and the month is nearly out so we'll just have to wait and see!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Midnight Madness

Five years after the release of Singles 93-03, The Chemical Brothers are set to release a best-of package called Brotherhood on 9/2. The album will be preceded by a digital single of the new track "Midnight Madness" on 8/19 and will include another new track called "Keep My Composure."

I'm not sure about the necessity of another Chems compilation after two studio albums (this one shares eight tracks with Singles 93-03, though many appear here in their single edit form) but one must assume that the real draw will be the bonus disc "Electronic Battle Weapons," ten tracks which have previously only been available on limited promotional vinyl. At least they're giving you an actual bonus for buying these songs again.

Disc 1
01. Galvanize
02. Hey Boy Hey Girl
03. Block Rockin' Beats
04. Do It Again
05. Believe
06. Star Guitar
07. Let Forever Be
08. Leave Home
09. Keep My Composure
10. Saturate
11. Out Of Control
12. Midnight Madness
13. The Golden Path
14. Setting Sun
15. Chemical Beats

Disc 2
Electronic Battle Weapons 1-10

Download:

The Chemical Brothers - Electronic Battle Weapon 10

Life's What You Make It

Talk Talk's 1986 appearance at Sweden's famed Montreux Jazz Festival will make its DVD debut on 10/13 (UK). No word on whether this is coming out in the states or not (I'll cross my fingers) or what elese - if anything - will be on the DVD. No matter, I'll just be thrilled to finally have a Talk Talk concerrt DVD. According to EIL, the tracklist looks like this:

1. Talk Talk
2. Dum Dum Girl
3. Call In The Night Boy
4. Tomorrow Started
5. My Foolish Friend
6. Life's What You Make It
7. Does Caroline Know
8. It's You
9. Living In Another World
10. Give It Up
11. It's My Life
12. I Don't Believe In You
13. Such A Shame
14. Renee

Unfortunately it appears as if the concert has been edited for the DVD. Based on setlists I've seen, "Mirror man" and "Chameleon Day" are missing. We'll just have to see what's on the finished product.

Talk Talk - Life's What You Make It:

A Cabinet Of Curiosities

Dave being a whore, as usualA Jane's Addiction box set is apparently in the works and slated to come out on 10/28. Unfortunately, I have yet to see any details other than the title A Cabinet Of Curiosities. The set had a little mention in a recent ad for Marshall but whether or not the set will come packaged in a wooden apothecary box as pictured is anybody's guess (my guess is no, though that would be exceedingly cool).

I'm trying not to get my hopes up about the contents of this box but maybe the powers that be will actually deliver. What could be on it? To be sure, their complete studio recordings as I know them would fit on about three discs (two if Warners doesn't bother to license any of the band's output for Capitol, which would be fine with me). Who knows if there are any suitable outtakes or unreleased tracks? I suppose it's a possibility. There's always live stuff, and maybe they can manage to include a full show instead of those Frankenstein one-song-from-here-one-song-from-there live albums that I'm not fond of. Perhaps a DVD of all of their videos? A DVD of a full live show? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

"Three Days" live in Milan, 1990. A-maz-ing:

Friday, June 27, 2008

Missing In Action

<-- That is where I have been for the past couple of weeks. Glorious New York. I was physically there for 11 days and the rest of the time I was either preparing to go, or wishing I was back. I was in NY to see friends but also managed to catch a couple of shows.

While browsing around MySpace before my trip, I happened to see that Mahogany had a show scheduled while I was going to be in NY. What luck! They never make it to the west coast. Andrew and co. were playing at the Music Hall of Williamsburg as part of NYC Popfest so of course I had to check it out. The band played a short set of songs new and old including one of my personal favorites, "Supervitesse." It was glorious noise.

While I was there, I ran into Michael Grace from the beloved, defunct My Favorite. I'd had many beers by the time I went up to him and introduced myself by saying "I really, really miss your band." He was very gracious and told me that his new band The Secret History has an EP coming out in the fall. I'll definitely be on the lookout for that.

My trip was ostensibly scheduled around The Cure's final show of this tour at Radio City Music Hall. The venue was cool and the band were good but I think there's a possibility I saw one or two too many shows (a total of four) on this tour. The core set of hits was basically the same each night, and I never really need to hear "Love Song" or "Just Like Heaven" again. Having said that, they pulled out some really old and rare stuff that I love so I can't complain.

Now that I'm back I'll be posting regularly again. A lot happened while I was gone and I'll probably write about some of it. Too much e-mail to sift through, but I'll get to it!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Caravan Girl

OK, everybody knows how much I love Goldfrapp, but the announcement for their next single is a little disappointing:

CD
1. Caravan Girl
2. Happiness (Video)

Maxi CD
1. Caravan Girl (Live Choral Version)
2. Monster Love (Live Acoustic Version)
3. Little Bird (Live at The Union Chapel - Video)

7" numbered picture disc
A. Caravan Girl
B. Little Bird (Animal Collective Remix)

I have issues:

1. Do not make the second track on your two-track single a video! I resent buying a single that has only one audio track on it. Sure, there's the video but I have to put it in my PC to watch it. Annoying.

2. A different version of the single on the maxi CD is a good start. A live version of "Monster Love" sounds good too. But then, another video that I can only watch on my PC. At this point, a DVD single would have made more sense. What happened to DVD singles, anyway?

3. This is the third single from the album and still no b-sides. Still no sign of the 10+ songs that were scrapped during recording sessions. I don't know how far they got with any of those but maybe they could have finished a couple for b-sides.

By the third single in support of Supernature, we had two really excellent b-sides ("All Night Operator" and "Beautiful") and two really amazing remixes "Number 1 (Alan Braxe and Fred Falke Main Remix)" and "Ride A White Horse (Ewan Pearson Disco Odyssey Parts 1 + 2)" so I'm feeling just a little disappointed.

Of course I'll buy them anyway. "Little Bird" was amazing live and I definitely think it's a contender for a good remix (and they could use one; the remixes from this record have been a bit boring) so all is not lost. The single is released in the UK on 6/30. No word of a US release yet, but I'm not holding my breath since they didn't do one for "Happiness."

Here, have an actually quite nice remix from this album that is thus far unreleased: Goldfrapp - Happiness (Rex The Dog Remix)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Review: Coachella 2008

It's about time I posted my coachella review. General laziness, fussing over my writing, and a trip to Denver and Salt Lake City to see The Cure really got in the way of a timely post.

Every year, I go through a Coachella process:

Initial excitement over rumored appearances that will never happen > Buy tickets right when they go on sale even if the line-up isn't announced > Feel disappointed when rumored acts don't materialize > Praise choice of headliners but exclaim that line-up for non-headliners is less-than-stellar > Threaten that I might not do this again and/or that the festival has finally jumped the shark > Excitement in the week leading up to the festival > Have a great time at the festival, wonder what all the complaining was about/how they will top it next year.

Complicated, right? I should just rest assured that the folks at Goldenvoice will go a good job like they always do. And this year was no exception. Sure, I have some quibbles: Jack Johnson isn't headliner material, Roger Waters is a hippie dinosaur and doesn't fit at Coachella, etc., but overall, the festival was a huge success. On with the review.

FRIDAY
First up on the Coachella Stage (for us anyway; we can't be bothered to get to the field earlier than the first band we want to see) was The Breeders, whose live show always seems like it's on the verge of breakdown. I don't mean that in a bad way. There's something shambolic, messy, and fun about the way they play. We were treated to a bunch of songs from throughout their career including highlights "Overglazed" (my favorite song on Mountain Battles), "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" and "Iris."

Following all of the Breeders fun, we made our way to the Mojave Tent for Goldfrapp. We were a bit early and caught the last bit of Mum's set. I saw them once, years ago, and wasn't a big fan of their cute plinky-plonky glitchy electronic folk. So not much has changed.

There was a good energy in the tent by the time Goldfrapp took the stage and initial technical difficulties seemed to be resolved pretty quickly. I was a bit worried about how the new songs would fit into the live set with the old stuff, but it was all beautiful and flowed amazingly. "Little Bird," with its drawn-out psychedelic ending was particularly good. An almost country-stomp version of "Ooh La La" (with slide guitar!) really pleased the crowd. The set closed with an extended "Strict Machine" which left me wanting more. I really hope they come back and tour the US in the fall as rumored.

Our last band for the day was The Verve. I never really thought I'd get to see them after their break-ups in the 90s and when their reunion was announced, I thought there was no way they'd make it to the US. I was happy to be proven wrong. The Verve played a really solid set that entirely surpassed my expectations. Even the two new songs were pretty decent. I wish I could have heard something older than "This Is Music" but that's a minor complaint.

SATURDAY
I started Saturday with The Teenagers in the Mojave Tent. I didn't know them at all but I thought they were fun and I may need to investigate them further. I then made my way to the Gobi Tent to see 120 Days. When I arrived Carbon/Silicon were still playing which meant that something, somewhere had gone wrong and they were playing past their scheduled end time.

120 Days finally came on after what appeared to be some technical issues (which seems to happen a lot in the tents). The band played a short set of mostly new songs until they had the plug pulled to get the stage back on time. Nice. Carbon/Silicon ran late but you didn't see anybody pulling the plug on them, probably because one of them is a deity from most-overrated-band-ever The Clash. Oh well.

I then had a very long wait for Kraftwerk in which I caught bits of a few bands. Bonde do Role was really, really bad. I don't understand the hype at all. It sounded like a bunch of shrieking women, basically. No thanks. Kate Nash was next. I'd seen the video for "Foundations" and found it really charming. Live, though, she came off as a bit too precious, banging on her keyboard in a too-prim dress and singing quiet songs that went on too long. Maybe it was just the wrong venue. In any case, I was compelled to leave a couple songs into her set. I stopped in for a bit of Erol Alkan after that but his set was ending just as I got there.

It was time to stake out a spot for Kraftwerk, Portishead, and Prince. This triumvirate was easily the biggest draw of the festival for me so I was a bit anxious for a good spot. Kraftwerk were amazing, as expected. Some songs were a bit changed up from the last time I saw them (Coachella 2004) and the setlist was changed up a bit as well. It seemed like they'd shortened the songs so they could play more of them which I thought was a great idea. It would be hard to pick a favorite moment, but "The Man Machine" and "Autobahn" both gave me goosebumps. It's a bit hard not to be overwhelmed by songs that are basically the template for everything that came afterward.

Then Portishead came on and completely tore it up. I can safely say it was one of the best performances I've ever seen in eight years of Coachella. They just absolutely nailed it. This was not just a nostalgia fest. Sure, they did a lot of old stuff (from Dummy, particularly) but they did new songs too and the whole lot of it was ferocious , intense, uncompromising, and beautiful. They were projecting the band on huge screens behind and beside the stage and it was very effective in setting a visual mood for the show. I was utterly floored.

Following that, there was a long and excitement-deflating wait for Prince. When he finally came out, he gave the spotlight to Morris Day for "Jungle Love" and "The Bird" and then to Sheila E who did "The Glamorous Life." He then took the stage for early songs like "1999," "Little Red Corvette," "I Feel For U," (done in the style of the far superior Chaka Khan version) and "Controversy." I thought this boded well for his show, but things went downhill quickly. The band was soon playing extended instrumental funk jams, newer songs, and, oh sweet Jesus, Radiohead and Sarah McLachlan covers. The thing is, his show was technically good but it was far too clean and Vegas-y to me, and left me feeling nothing. We left early and heard the Radiohead and Sarah McLachlan covers on the way to the car.

SUNDAY
We started Sunday late with Love And Rockets. I'd seen their warm-up show at The Glasshouse earlier in the week. That set had been fraught with technical issues and the band seemed a bit sloppy. Not so at Coachella. There, they played the same set (minus a pointless Clash cover) but much more tight and with more energy. On top of it all, The Bubblemen made an appearance during the final song for a pillow fight. Fun!

My friends wanted to see Roger Waters and I wanted to dance so we parted ways and I made my way to the Sahara Tent to catch Simian Mobile Disco. I've been a fan of their album for a while and really liked the way they did it. The songs were changed up a bit and the crowd were really into it.

Chromeo came next. I'd sampled bits of their songs and found that the songs sounded fun but that they were essentially regurgitating Zapp without adding anything new. I felt the same way after seeing them live. It's a novelty at best. Some of the neon-clad hipster kids seemed to be enjoying their set, but it was clear that everybody was just biding time until Justice came on.

I've spent the last year hating on Justice. I've called them "the aural equivalent of ADHD," I've said that their songs lack, you know, any sort of song structure, I openly loathe "D. A. N. C. E." and really dislike their record. So, why was I there? A) The alternative was Roger Waters, B) I really wanted to dance, and C) my roomie had been playing "DVNO" quite a bit and I found I actually liked it. I enjoyed their show immensely. Maybe I don't hate the current trend in dance music as much as I thought, or maybe it was just the right place at the right time for me. Something about being in a tent full of people who are dancing and having fun can certainly help you see the light. I'm not sure if I'll run out and buy the album though. Something tells me this experience will be enough.

So that was it. Coachella 2008 was easily among the best. Now it's time for me to start the process for 2009! I'd like to suggest that they start work on getting Roxy Music to headline.

Portishead performing "We Carry On" at Coachella. Jaw-droppingly good, basically:

Years Of Refusal

Many things are happening in the world of Morrissey:

I'm a bit late in reporting that the release of "All You Need Is Me" has been delayed until June 2. There has been some speculation that the label was going to scrap it altogether but since some stock had already been manufactured, they'd move out the release date and make it a one-week only release. Which means this one is likely to be pretty rare. My copies have been on order for weeks so I'm hoping I get them and don't have to turn to eBay. Not that I'm above it.

A video has been made for the single, in which we find Morrissey walking about a municipal garden with his gang of younger, somewhat tough-looking lads. Nothing new there then. Will someone please write the man a different treatment for his next video? [As an aside, do you suppose Boz feels just slightly intimidated by all of the tight t-shirts and muscle on display? Surely he must.]



Somewhat surprisingly, Sony-BMG are planning to reissue Southpaw Grammar - an album which didn't exactly tear up the charts on its initial release - as an expanded, remastered edition in July. This version will reportedly boast new artwork and three unreleased bonus tracks. No news on what they are yet, or if they are indeed unreleased tracks or whether "unreleased bonus tracks" actually means "three tracks already released as b-sides but which we are calling unreleased because nobody bought those singles anyway." So we'll see. Care to wager a guess as to what they'll be?

Years Of Refusal, Morrissey's ninth solo record, has been completed and is due out in September via Universal. It was produced by Jerry Finn, who previously worked on You Are The Quarry which, as you'll remember, was really quite good as it brought Morrissey back out of those cruel late-90s/early-2000s drought years and made a bunch of people (including the NME, for a while anyway!) remember how awesome he always was.

In business news, Morrissey has ended his relationship with manager Merck Mercuriadis, opting instead to go with ie:music who also represent, uh, Robbie Williams. And we all know how well he's doing under their stewardship. About the split, Merck said, "I believe my penance is complete and Saint Morrissey has granted my absolution." At least all of that time spent doing penance with Moz has reaped dividends in the skill of tart quips!

Finally, a little birdy told me that Morrissey was at KCRW's studio in LA last week doing "pre-taping" with Nic Harcourt. Is a Morning Becomes Eclectic session on the way?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thirty Frames A Second

Simple Minds have announced that the original line-up of the band is set to record for the first time in 27 years. They're entering the studio for a week in June with the goal of recording two tracks for release later this year. There's no mention of how those tracks might be released - bonus tracks for yet another best-of compilation? I hope not - but I have to say that I'm just a bit excited that the line-up responsible for this:



and:



and:



and:



is recording again. I just hope they can do something that somehow echoes their interesting, edgy roots and not the bloated arena rock that came later.

The band (not the original line-up, however) will play a short 30th anniversary tour in the UK later this year during which they will be perform the entirety of their era-defining album New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84). Man, it hurts to miss that.

Also being planned is a reissue of the Themes box sets to be released on 6/23 (UK). I haven't seen a final tracklist yet, but I hope they get it right this time (which isn't likely, since they will undoubtedly not include the early Zoom/Arista singles). Thanks, record company!

When I Return To The World

Lorraine. It's not the first name I'd choose for a band. It sounds too much like your grandmother, and not enough like a BIG! POP! OUTFIT! from Norway. Maybe Lorraine means something else in Norwegian. Something less old-lady-like.

Anyway, I've been reading about this band for a while now, but I've never been pulled in. I always felt like their stuff was a bit blah, if I'm honest. That is, until I came across their video for new single "When I Return To The World":



Wonderful, no? Is it just me, or does it sound like a combination homage to "Beautiful World" by Devo and "Living On The Ceiling" by Blancmange? I don't say this in a bad way at all. I mean:

Devo - Beautiful World



Blancmange - Living On The Ceiling



That's a compliment! "When I Return To The World" was released last week on 7" and iTunes, apparently. Lorraine have a bunch of older tracks streaming on their MySpace page (including a half-decent cover of "Heaven" by the Psychedelic Furs). Like I said, it's mostly blah but this new single definitely piques my curiosity about what they'll be up to next!

As an aside, watching that Blancmange video for the first time in a decade or so reminded me that I really miss 80s "on location" videos. A lot.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

One Of Us

Wire has provided a first glimpse into their new album with a download of a new song called "One Of Us." The band says: "in days of yore we might have considered this track the first 'single' from the album." So here you have it, the first 'single' from Object 47:

Wire - One Of Us

The song sounds to my ears like their more melodic, poppy work from the mid-80s. It's certainly miles removed from the thrash of Send, Read & Burn 1 and Read & Burn 2. No complaints from me! I can't wait to see what the rest of the album is like.

Object 47 is due out on July 7 in the UK. Festival dates in the US, Canada, and Europe are scheduled in the coming months with a US tour to follow in the fall. They're playing "Boiling Boy." Which is quite exciting. Why, here's a video of them playing it in Italy earlier this month. Awesome:

Monday, May 19, 2008

My Sunken Treasure

The second single from The Duke Spirit's sophomore album will be the 60s girl group flavored "My Sunken Treasure." The single will be available on CD, limited edition 7" and download formats on June 9th (UK). Tracklists are:

CD
1. My Sunken Treasure
2. Do What You Love

Limited Edition 7"
A. My Sunken Treasure
B. Sovereign (Live At KCRW)

In other Duke Spirit news, F.Y.E. offered a presale of their new record that came with a bonus 2-track CD. Naturally, I found out about it after I'd bought my copy at another retailer. Being the collecting freak that I am, I placed another order assuming that the offer is still good because it's still up on the site. You know what they say when you assume... Seriously, though, if you haven't bought it, you should give the record a try. It's priced to sell pretty much everywhere.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ghosts

Today I present Ladytron's "Ghosts" video, in which the Liverpudlians go kinda No Country For Old Men on us. With much better hair and shoes, obviously.



It's mere weeks until Velocifero hits the shelves. I've lived with it for a while now and I haven't managed to get into it. I don't hear any hooks, none of the songs really pull me in, and Ladytron continues to eschew their fun, poppier moments in favor of darker, more atmospheric songs. It just feels flat to me. I listen to the album and at the end, I can't really remember anything about it.

As with all of their albums, I think this one is too long. Also troublesome is that it features more songs that bring repetition to whole new levels. Remember "Seventeen"? Well, one track in particular ("Runaway") features the line "my little runaway" sung 32 times (yes, I counted), most of them IN A ROW. It's mind-numbing. A repeated phrase does not a good chorus make!

It's not all bad news though. There's one song I'm in love with called "Kletva" which is apparently a cover song from a 1970s Bulgarian children's film. It's rather noisy and beautiful and joyous and most importantly, it actually rocks and has some dynamics. I'm still hoping that eventually something will click and I'll get the album because I really like Ladytron.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Don't Know Any Better

The story of Manchester's Puressence is one of hard luck, label bullshit, and always living in the shadows of bigger, more popular, more mediocre bands. They soldier on, though, and released their fantastic fourth record Don't Forget To Remember late last year. It is well worth your time. The latest single is "Don't Know Any Better" and it will be released 5/19 in the UK. Here's what you're in for:

CD
1. Don't Know Any Better
2. Bright Eyes (Pete Mitchell Radio 2 Session)
3. Sold Unseen (Pete Mitchell Radio 2 Session)

Autographed 7"
1. Don't Know Any Better
2. You've Already Said Goodbye

DVD
1. Don't Know Any Better - Directed & filmed by Paul Banks
2. Moonbeam video taken from Manchester Academy footage including Kevin & Jimmy interview
3. Exclusive live & studio recording footage
4. Special guest star appearances interviewing the band & telling the Puressence story

Watch the "Don't Forget To Remember" video:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Review: 120 Days

120 Days, one of my favorite discoveries of last year, followed up their appearance at Coachella with a promotional event at the Viper Room last night. And this being a promotional event in LA - for Scion, no less - things were bound to get douchey. More on that in a minute.

Franki Chan of Iheartcomix opened the evening with a DJ set. I pretty much enjoyed the music he was spinning, though he did get a bit too fussy with the effects...to not so great effect. Just play good records, dude, and you won't need to embellish them with every trick on your mixer. One thing became clear rather quickly: the crowd wasn't into him, and probably wasn't there for the music at all.

120 Days came next and played a short five song set of all new material. Some people at the front of the crowd were clearly there to see the band but the majority seemed oblivious to the fact that a band was on stage and continued their conversations. Lead singer Ådne Meisfjord tried to engage the crowd and seemed a bit frustrated when that didn't work. Utter disinterest can't be a good feeling. I enjoyed their set of atmospheric, spaced-out dance music and am really looking forward to new material. The latest report is that they're recording, so hopefully something is coming soon.

Radioclit apparently closed the night but we left before they came on. It was 12:00 already, we were tired, and the crowd wasn't helping matters. Just before 120 Days left the stage, Ådne said, "We've been 120 Days, and you've been Los Angeles." Based on the crowd, one can only assume he meant it in the worst possible way.

Listen to a great new instrumental track that 120 Days recently posted on MySpace: 120 Days - Instrumental

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Nobody's Diary

So much has been going on with the return of Yaz that I've fallen a bit behind. Here's a little catch-up:

A 12" single of "Nobody's Diary" will be released in the UK on 5/12 in advance of the forthcoming box set, In Your Room. A digital single will also be released the same day but those of us in the US won't be able to download it due to territory restrictions. Mute Bank is offering a bundle with an exclusive download...which I would be excited about if I could actually order it.

The tracklists look like this:

12"
A1. Nobody's Diary (Andy Bell & JC Remix)
A2. Nobody's Diary (Original Remaster)
B1. Nobody's Diary (Koishii & Hush Remix)

Digital Downloads
1. Nobody's Diary (Original Remaster) listen
2. Nobody's Diary (Andy Bell & JC Remix) listen
3. Nobody's Diary (Koishii & Hush Remix) listen
4. Nobody's Diary (GRN's 12" Remix) listen
5. Nobody's Diary (Soil In The Synth Remix) [exclusive to Mute Bank]

Remixes have also been done for Bad Connection, Situation, and Winter Kills:

Winter Kills (Electronic Periodic's Sub/Piano Mix) listen
Bad Connection (Subway Collective Broadband Remix) listen
Situation (Hercules & Love Affair Mix) listen

I wish that Hercules & Love Affair had tackled a different song. It's not even so much that I never need to hear another version of "Situation" again (though that is certainly true) but that I think they would have really been suited to one of the more obscure, quieter tracks. Having said that, I'm really pleased with all of these remixes. They seem to retain the original atmosphere and spirit of the songs and stay away from making them too clubby (let's face it, those 1999 house remixes by Club 69, Richard 'Humpty' Vission, et al were awful). I hope these get released in some form. The remix of "Winter Kills" in particular is a stunner.

Earth To The Dandy Warhols

Details of the new Dandy Warhols record are finally here. To start, they're no longer with longtime label Capitol and are self-releasing their new album, Earth To The Dandy Warhols on May 19 as a subscription service. The subscription "will include exclusive digital audio content for one year, including new b-sides and live tracks." It'll be interesting to see how this works for them. No word yet on whether or not there will be a physical release.

The first track from the album is available for free download when you sign up for their mailing list. It's called "The World The People Together (Come On)." Opinion on the net seems to be unsure at best, but I've played it several times and like it a lot. Hopefully it's an indicator of the album to come. I've always loved these guys.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

One Day Like This

Elbow have announced the second single from The Seldom Seen Kid. "One Day Like This" is released on June 2 and will be available in the increasingly common CD and double 7" formats. Each disc has an exclusive b-side and if they're anything like the "Grounds For Divorce" b-side "Hotel Istanbul," we're in for a treat.

I wonder if anybody has heard my cries for download codes for the 7-inches. Probably not.

Tracklistings look like this:

CD
1. One Day Like This
2. Lullaby

7" #1
A. One Day Like This
B. Every Bit The Little Girl

7" #2
A. One Day Like This
B. Li'l Pissed Charmin' Tune

I will see Elbow live for what I believe is the ninth time on Friday. Can't wait!

So good: Elbow - Hotel Istanbul

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Only One

Surprise! There are only ten days left until the new Cure single comes out. It's called "The Only One" and will be released on May 13. The band will then put out another single on the 13th of each month until September 13 when...their 13th album (title TBD) is released. I sense a theme.

The singles will be available on CD, 7" and digital download and rumour has it that "The Only One" will come with a collector's box to hold all four singles. Here's a rundown on the singles so far:

May 13
A. The Only One
B. NY Trip

June 13
A. Freakshow
B. All Kinds Of Stuff

July 13
TBD

August 13
TBD

I'll be seeing The Cure four times in the coming months and have amazing seats for all of them:

5/21 Denver Red Rocks Amphitheatre 13th row
5/23 Salt Lake City E Center 9th row
6/1 Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium 5th row
6/21 New York Radio City Music Hall 8th row

The Cure's website is streaming a clip of "The Only One." Check it out. I think it sounds pretty Wish-era. That's not a complaint.

UPDATE - The word from the man himself on the rumored collector's box: "ANYONE THAT OFFERS OR CLAIMS ANY KIND OF "SPECIAL" VERSION OF THE FIRST SINGLE - WITH A BOX OR A FREE HOLIDAY OR WHATEVER - IS EITHER LYING OR STUPID OR BOTH." So there you have it. No collector's box.

It's Friday:

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Garden Of The Arcane Delights

The Dead Can Dance catalog is about to get a new life. Remastered editions of all of their albums will be released by 4AD on June 2 (UK; US date unconfirmed). The albums were remastered by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (which means they should sound amazing) and will be released on hybrid SACDs. Hybrid SACDs play in SACD players as well as standard CD players.

The eight albums and one EP will initially come in mini-LP sleeves and will be available in super jewel cases in August. A box set of the entire collection may be available at some point in the future. One assumes that will be a beautiful box indeed. Should you need a reminder, the titles look like this:

Dead Can Dance
Garden Of The Arcane Delights (EP)
Spleen And Ideal
Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun
The Serpent's Egg
Aion
Into The Labyrinth
Toward The Within
Spiritchaser

Watch the "Yulunga" video:

Remain In Light

David Byrne recently announced that he and Brian Eno are working together for the first time in nearly 30 years. Their last project together was 1981's My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, an album that set the template for much of what was to come in dance music.

The new album is slated to be released by the end of the year and was described by Byrne as "electronic gospel." A tour is also in the works, with 40% of the set dedicated to Eno-era Talking Heads material. Early reports said that Eno would be joining Byrne on tour, but that is not the case. Still, this tour will be a must-see!

Stormy Weather

Another show has been announced in Echo & The Bunnymen's 30th anniversary tour, during which they are playing their classic Ocean Rain in its entirety. With an orchestra. I just can't imagine.

Dates in London and Liverpool had been previously announced but the latest is on our side of the pond, at Radio City Music Hall on October 1. Sadly, this does not overlap with my scheduled trip to NY in June. Bloody hell.

There are rumours that they'll add an LA date, but I'll refrain from getting excited until I have some proof. It's nice that the Bunnymen have even scheduled a US date, though. Recent "we're playing an entire classic album" tours by Gary Numan, OMD, the Human League, and Simple Minds have been UK/EU only.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Are You Ready?

Thirty one years after the release of their classic debut, Wire are gearing up for the release of their new album, Object 47 (so named because it is the 47th item in their discography). The record has a tentative release date of July 7 (UK; US release TBD).

Pinkflag had this to say: "Retaining Wire's idiosyncratic mix of an avant-garde mindset with classic pop timing, this album also boasts 'tunes with zoom', a unique formula that manages to sound wholly Wire (in a classic sense) and contemporary." Sounds good to me!

The band is starting a European tour in just a few days and there are plans underway for a US tour in October. Margaret Fiedler McGinnis will be playing rhythm guitar in place of Bruce Gilbert who left the band in 2004. Margaret was previously in Laika and has also toured with PJ Harvey.

The tracklist for Object 47:

One Of Us
Circumspect
Mekon Headman
Perspex Icon
Four Long Years
Hard Currency
Patient Flees
Are You Ready?
All Fours

Listen: Wire - 23 Years Too Late

Indio, So Much To Answer For

The yearly sunburn otherwise known as Coachella is just two days away. How did it creep up on me so quickly? Why do I never feel prepared even when I've had tickets for months? Why does Prince get his name and his symbol on the poster?

I'm most excited to see Kraftwerk, Portishead, Prince, The Verve, The Breeders, Goldfrapp, 120 Days, Autolux, and Love and Rockets. There's a link below to my yearly Coachella schedule which will give you a good idea of where I'll be if you happen to be looking for me. It's far better than the Coachooser...and I beat them to the punch by a couple years with it. Enjoy!

I still think that the b- and c-tier bands are a bit grim, but on the whole, this lineup is probably better than other US festivals this year.

Joe's Coachella Schedule 2008 (Excel)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Why Why Why

Oh, stewards of the Joy Division legacy, what the hell have you done? Pitchfork reports that a limited edition Unknown Pleasures Zune is being made as a tie-in to the release of Grant Gee's Joy Division documentary.

Barf! Why is this necessary? And why would you choose an inferior, un-sexy product to align with? Let's face it, if this was an iPod, it would be hot. But it's a Zune! What are they thinking?

Is this better or worse than the Unknown Pleasures shoes? I'm not sure. Is nothing sacred?

"Every other band was on stage because they wanted to be rock stars; this lot got on stage because they had no fucking choice."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Audience No. 2

LA favorites Autolux have just announced their new single, "Audience No. 2". Apparently it will be sent to radio and will be available for download from iTunes next week with the new album, Transit Transit following "soon enough." You've got to love vague news like that!

I do appreciate this recent trend of singles and albums being released a week after they're announced without a lot of the promotional crap that usually comes along with a release. I'm definitely looking forward to this record as their debut Future Perfect was one of my favorites of 2004.

Autolux are playing at Coachella this year and if you're going, you'd do well to check them out. They can be pretty amazing live.

Autolux - Turnstile Blues:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

All Remote And No Control

Eric Avery - who you may remember from Jane's Addiction, Deconstruction, and Polar Bear - released his first solo album, Help Wanted, last week on Dangerbird. I haven't heard it yet, but I have heard the first single, "All Remote And No Control," and I really like it (the video's pretty cool too!). Based on this one track, I'm definitely going to have to check out the album.

In related news, the rest of the original members of Jane's Addiction will perform at the first US NME Awards, where they will be receiving the "Godlike Genius" award.

UPDATE: Eric has confirmed he will join his former bandmates on stage for the first time since 1991. The original members of Jane's, playing together again... Must not get my hopes up!

Eric Avery - All Remote And No Control:

Monday, April 14, 2008

Squarewave To Heaven

Adam from my beloved Saloon (R.I.P.) has a new band. Well, he's had a new band for a while now and they're called Arthur and Martha. Their debut single has just been released by Happy Robots and is available in the following formats:

7"
A. Autovia
B. Japanese Kiss

Download
1. Autovia
2. Japanese Kiss
3. Squarewave To Heaven
4. Autovia 2

Arthur and Martha isn't far away from Saloon...if Saloon were less guitar-based and more electronic. Think of a mix 120 Days, Kraftwerk, OMD and New Order (without being a copy of any of them) and you might come close.

I would post the A-side, but I'm a B-sides guy and anyway, how could I resist "Japanese Kiss," a lovely song the press release describes as "the soundtrack to a messy break-up and inevitable argument over custody of the Pet Shop Boys CDs"?

UPDATE: I have removed the MP3 at the request of the band. The songs are streaming on their and last.fm page so please head on over and have a listen!

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Day Full Of You, A Night Tired Of Me

There's a Locust song called "Just Like You" that I really love. It's a stand-out track on Morning Light and was sung by Craig Bethell. A few years back, I became intrigued by this vocalist. His voice was great, but who was he? Why hadn't I heard of him before or since? I wanted to know more, so I did some searches. None of the music sites had much to say so I turned to Yahoo where I learned that he'd recorded an entire album with Locust mastermind Mark Van Hoen called A Day Full Of You, A Night Tired Of Me. It hadn't been officially released, but there was a short window of time when you could pay £8 and have it sent to you. A short window that I'd missed. Such is my luck.

I sent an e-mail to the address provided hoping that I might convince them to send me a copy anyway. As it happens, I got an e-mail from the man himself offering to burn me a copy. Sweet! A CD appeared a couple weeks later, along with a hand-written note about the recordings and how he'd been unsuccessful in shopping the album to labels. He was kind enough to include a few bonus tracks too. I listened to it and liked it but the disc got buried beneath a pile of crap on my desk and ended up in a box not to be seen again for about three years until I came across it a few nights ago. I popped it in the player and really liked it this time. This caused me to put his name in a Yahoo search and there were a bunch of hits: a MySpace page, a listing for the album on Target's website of all places. When did this happen?

December, apparently. Craig and Mark went into the studio in 2006 and "revised, rerecorded, remixed and revamped" some of the songs from the original album and recorded some new ones for a proper release of A Day Full Of You, A Night Tired Of Me which Infraction Records released last December. I haven't received my copy yet, but based on samples of the album it sounds very much in keeping with the disc he sent me and the tracks he did with Locust: melancholic, romantic, late-night music. Sort of a cross between "I Only Have Eyes For You" by The Flamingos, Counterfeit by Martin Gore, and Secrets of the Beehive by David Sylvian. If that makes any sense. Anyway, it's gorgeous and worth your time to check out. I'm glad he finally got it released!

Check it out:
Locust - Just Like You
Craig Bethell - Post Modern Times
Craig Bethell - I'm Coming Through (Demo)

Record Store Day

On April 19, record stores across the country will participate in Record Store Day, a celebration of record stores and their enduring importance to our culture. I spent my formative years in record stores, hanging out for hours on end even if I was broke, making lists, soaking up information, and hearing new music. In an era of store closures and Internet sales, it's good to know that record stores still endure. There's nothing like digging through the bins and coming across that rare disc you've been looking for for years, or being in the store and having an employee put a record on that you instantly fall in love with. I hope record stores never go away. I know some of us will always want that tactile music shopping experience.

Several exclusive releases are planned for Record Store Day including:

REM - Supernatural Superserious 7"
The Breeders - We're Gonna Rise 7"

I think I know where I'll be on April 19th!

You Got Yr Cherry Bomb

The lads from Spoon have just posted a demo of "You Got Yr Cherry Bomb" in the bonus section of their website. It's definitely worth checking out.

Meanwhile, "Well Don't You Evah," my favorite track from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, was released as a single this week. Here's the rundown:

1. Don't You Evah
2. All I Got Is Me
3. Don't You Evah (Ted Leo's I Want It Hotter Remix)
4. Don't You Evah (Diplo Mix)
5. Don't You Evah (Matthew Dear Mix)
6. Don't You Evah (Dj Amaze & Alan Astor Mix)
7. Don't You Evah (Doc Delay Fixerupper)
8. Don't You Ever (The Natural History Original Version)

I've only heard samples, but the remixes from Diplo, Matthew Dear, and Doc Delay sound good. Also, I think it's pretty classy of them to include the original version by The Natural History.

Download: Spoon - Cherry Bomb Country

No Spoken Words, Just A Scream

Bono was rather fit in 1981U2 is set to release remastered and expanded editions of their first three albums Boy, October, and War on July 24 via Universal. There will be a single disc version, a double disc version with b-sides, live tracks, and rarities, and an 180gm vinyl version. No word yet on the extras but now would be a good time for them to finally get all of their b-sides released on CD.

Interestingly, Amazon also lists live EP Under A Blood Red Sky for release the same day. That disc could really use some expanding. I'd suggest adding the whole Live At Red Rocks: Under A Blood Red Sky show, or at least finally issuing the concert film on DVD.

"Electric Co" live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Denver in 1983. Seriously electrifying: