Jan 26, 2007
Artist: Gruff Rhys
Title: Candylion (album)
Label: Rough Trade
Despite them losing their rocky edge as they aged, I always thought Super Furry Animals were the dragon's balls. Here's yon lead singer waxing lyrical about, well, anything that spools from his astonishing imagination - everything from Smokey Robinson to celtic laments. I'll buy this, but I'll pine for them old Fuzzy Logic days.
Title: 3615 (album)
Label: Big Dada
Disco and euro pop aren't the first words in the dictionary of French hip hop, but maybe TTC are out to re-write the rule book with this crazy, strange, deeply interesting album. MC Solaar it is not. More probably, they have taken a page from the bible of Warp acts like Beans and Antipop Consortium, with some nostalgic electro pop woven down the spine. (Yes, Fat Roland's been reading books and that.)
Artist: Mira Calix
Title: Eyes Set Against The Sun (album)
If you touch a butterfly, it turns to stone. Mira Calix's third long player flutters with your feelings; it tiptoes a meandering path leaving its listeners mesmerised and giddy with its beauty. It's also damn strange, but field recordings and fuzzy beats only add to the charm. This is too delicate for some: handle with care. I lied about the butterfly, by the way.
Jan 21, 2007
Six days without a post?
Here's Brighton's Darren Foreman, also known as Beardy Man, also known as the beatbox champion of the United Kingdom. He's not a real woman, but all the sounds are real and they're made with his real mouth.
Hopefully this will distract you for another six days while I get round to writing something bloggy. Look at the funny man in a wig. Look at the funny man in a wig... *Types frantically.*
Jan 15, 2007
When January 2007 was a mere baby, puking and pooing from either end of its scrawny little body, I pontificated on how HMV would fill their shelves now that chart rules on downloads have been relaxed.
Dearest reader, drink from the potion of guru soothsayer Fat Roland. A mere six days later, HMV announced they would dump the official top 40 from its stores. They will instead fashion their own singles chart from washing-up bottles, old newspapers and dog dirt.
Their PR dude said the decision was "a practical issue. If we used the new download-friendly chart in our stores, there'd be large gaps on our walls." Yes, I KNOW. I flipping TOLD you.
Meanwhile, as January ages into long trousers, its hands unclean from nose-picking and football, chart history has been made thanks to the first ever unsigned band to score a top 40 hit.
Koopa are rockers from Essex - nevertheless, their download-only single Blag, Steal & Borrow was loved by fans. It hit the mid-weeks at 17 and made its chart debut at number 31 on Sunday.
Of course, they haven't made history at all. Pop Will Eat Itself scored a top ten hit with Get The Girl Kill The Baddies after being dropped by their record label, so technically they were the first. But they were hippy tree-huggers and didn't wash much; maybe they will be forgotten in the anus of history. Yes, anus. It's funnier than 'annals'.
(Brain: "Isn't Koopa the name of Russell Brand's mobile phone?")
As January ages, its once virile body withering into a crinkled stoop, we should get more unknowns elbowing their way into the charts.
It isn't really that amazing, though. No-one buys anything in January ever. January is the month that brought us number one singles from Babylon Zoo, 2 Unlimited, Chaka Demus & Pliers, Clive Dunn, Whitetown and the Rednex.
That alone should tell you everything.
PS - it looks like Music Zone is in trouble. Yargles!
Jan 12, 2007
As promised to you, my faithful, delicious, succulent reader, here are the answers to the quiz I posted a week ago.
This was just one round of a whole entire pub quiz, so if you want to have a shufty at the other questions in the whole entire pub quiz, hope over to Nine Tenths Full Of Penguins' Quiztastic Volume 1 and Quiztastic Volume 2 posts.
In 2005, upon hearing of a sponsorship deal which would see an HP sauce logo on the brown ball at all major snooker tournaments, it was Jimmy White who announced he had changed his name by deed poll to James Brown, and would wear only brown clothing when competing.
In the 1980s children’s TV series Jimbo, Jimbo the jumbo jet was so small because (c) his designer couldn’t tell the difference between inches and centimetres.
It was for Darth Vader that David Prowse’s voice was not deep enough, and Orson Wells was thought to have too famous a voice. James Earl Jones' voice was used.
“This is the Bridal Suite. Would you send up a couple of caviar sandwiches and a bottle of beer?” was from The Philadelphia Story.
“Well, I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it,” was from Harvey.
“Well, then you can swallow it, and it'll all dissolve, see... and the moonbeams would shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of your hair... am I talking too much?” was from It's A Wonderful Life.
“You shouldn't keep souvenirs of a killing. You shouldn't have been that sentimental," was from Vertigo.
Before he was Yes Prime Minister, James Hacker was minister for the department of administrative affairs.
St James Park is the only FA Premier League Stadium actually in the centre of a city.
Paul McCartney's trio was Wings (apparently they were a trio when they topped the chart!), his quartet was the Beatles, his quintet was the Beatles with Billy Preston and the sextet was Ferry Aid. Yes, I know, sorry.
James James wrote the Welsh National Anthem.
Jimi Hendrix died in 1970.
(a) From Here to Maternity was the comedic subtitle of Carry On Matron.
(b) You Show Me Your Waterhole And I’ll Show You Mine was the comedic subtitle of Carry On Up The Jungle.
(c) And Carry On Cleo was released in the USA as Caligula: Funniest Home Videos.
That's enough James for now. This is where you post replies saying "no, that answer was wrong" or "how on earth was I mean to get that" or "give me my leg back, Fat Roland, I can't play football without it."
Jan 10, 2007
I hadn't given Bogdan Raczynski much time of day - until last weekend, when I heard his new album would be called Yeeeeehhhaawww.
He promises that his new album will be "the music I would play if the universe only had 45 minutes left... Think 1992 megamixes, trance, math beats, my favorite basil-based kitchen recipes, four to the floor, giggles and an explosive happy energy."
Bogdan deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as Squarepusher, Mike Paradinas, Jega and the holy Aphex Twin. There, I've just done it. Mentioned him in the same sentence, that is.
The only record I have of Raczynski's is My Love I Love (pictured), constructed of gorgeous pink vinyl. It's brimming of detuned accordian folk songs sung in a whiny falsetto voice. It's not exactly restaurant-at-the-end-of-the-universe stuff, although it's deranged enough to be piped throughout a Vogon spaceship.
Raczynski is the only Polish IDM / braindance artist who used to play trumpet in Japanese jazz clubs. Some of his live shows have only been ten minutes long, and he has recipes on his website. These are facts.
This is a fact: I know two Polish people called Stefan. One of them has another Polish friend, co-incidentally called Bogdan, who taught me how to pronounce the name of the Polish beer, Zwytec. It's a bit like saying "serviettes" but with a 'zsch' instead of an 's'.
This blog post has more non sequiturs than Family Guy. Damn you vile woman, you've impeded my work since the day I escaped your vile womb!
Where was I?
Oh, yes. Say yes to Yeeeeehhhaawww, due for release in May 2007.
Jan 8, 2007
From the Lion Hudson website:
"Lion Children’s Books is pleased to announce that Angela Waites from Tiptree in Essex has been chosen as the winner of A Lion’s Tale.
"The judges felt that Angela’s story Lucy’s Little Friend stood out for its gentle encapsulation of good values, and sweet, warm and gently satisfying storyline in which Lucy comes to make friends with a little bird in her garden.
"Angela will be attending lunch with the judges in early 2007.
>Brian the lion
"Three runner’s up have also chosen: David Martin, London, for 'A Piano in our Street', Tracy Gunaratnam, Croydon, Surrey for 'Brian the Lion' and Karen Summers, West Yorkshire, Holmfirth for 'The Stick Came Back'."
Spot something missing? I entered this children's book competition a couple of months ago with a story called 'Noah And The Great Custard Flood' and it looks like I didn't even make the short-list, never mind the £1,000 top prize.
Bitter? Me? I once read something in a history book about lions causing terrible long-term damage to Christians. I'm not bitter at all...
The picture above is from the Robert Winslow website, which has lovely lions on it. Big cats are a lot cuter than bloody penguins.
Jan 5, 2007
I don't often work with animals, but every so now and then I run a pub quiz in this unassuming venue (pictured) with my chums Lee the penguin and Dan who isn't a penguin.
We each get to write a round of questions, and on Wednesday night my round was themed 'famous Jameses'. For example, James Cracknell. Or Clive James or James T Kirk. Or James and the blue cat.
So pull up a pew and leave the lectern light on, dear reader; have a go at my James-themed quiz. I will post the answers in a week's time, so you can get your next door neighbour to check your answers.
Just a final point. It may be just a bit of fun, but if you google the answers, I will cut you, I will cut you real bad.
In 2005, upon hearing of a sponsorship deal which would see an HP sauce logo on the brown ball at all major snooker tournaments, which championship-winning snooker player announced he had changed his name by deed poll to James Brown, and would wear only brown clothing when competing?
In the 1980s children’s TV series Jimbo, why was Jimbo the jumbo jet so small?
(a) He was only a baby jumbo?
(b) He was only a baggage handler?
(c) His designer couldn’t tell the difference between inches and centimetres?
(d) He wasn’t small, he was just far away.
David Prowse’s voice was not deep enough, and Orson Wells, although considered, was thought to have too famous a voice. Whose voice was eventually used, later becoming one of the most imitated voices of all time?
Match the Jimmy Stewart quote with the film!
“This is the Bridal Suite. Would you send up a couple of caviar sandwiches and a bottle of beer?”
“Well, I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it.”
“Well, then you can swallow it, and it'll all dissolve, see... and the moonbeams would shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of your hair... am I talking too much?”
“You shouldn't keep souvenirs of a killing. You shouldn't have been that sentimental.”
It’s A Wonderful Life
The Philadelphia Story
Before he was Yes Prime Minister, James Hacker was minister for which government department?
Which FA Premier League Stadium is the only one actually in the centre of a city?
The only musician to reach UK number one in the pop charts as a soloist, and also as part of a duo, a trio, a quartet, a quintet and a sextet is Sir James Paul McCartney.
His chart-topping solo act was, obviously, as Paul McCartney. His chart-topping duo act was Paul McCartney With Stevie Wonder. Name the chart-topping trio, quartet, quintet and sextet.
What patriotic tune did James James write?
In what year did Jimi Hendrix die?
A question on Sid James Carry On films!
(a) From Here to Maternity was the comedic subtitle of which Carry On film?
(b) You Show Me Your Waterhole And I’ll Show You Mine was the comedic subtitle of which Carry On film?
(c) And which Carry On film was released in the USA as Caligula: Funniest Home Videos?
That's all folks. The answers will be posted on Friday 12th January, which will now forever be known as National Pub Quiz Answer Posting Day.
Jan 3, 2007
From their ebony and ivory tower, the moguls that control pop music have allowed any download to count toward the top 40.
This new rule, which started on January 1st two-double-oh-seven, means a song can chart even if it isn't available as an actual single on an actual rack in an actual record shop. Before this momentous decision, download sales were tied in with current singles only.
So if enough of us download it, Guru Josh's Infinity (for example) could be the next number one. Or Bananarama's Venus. Any old record, really.
We could even get Everything I Do I Do It For You back to number one because, I don't know about you, I couldn't get enough of it first time around.
Even better (and this is motivated by my deep shame that Leader Of The Gang was number one when I was born), if you are about to drop a sprog, you could download something like The Cure or Kraftwerk to make sure something cool was top of the pops when your child was born.
An interesting consequence will be seen in record shops across the UK. If a song sells well that isn't available on CD, the stores will fill the blank spaces in their top 40 display with notices saying you can buy the song online.
Imagine an entire high street music shop consisting only of signs saying "you can't buy this here" and "go home and download this instead". At last, HMV will have realised their dream of zero customer service.
>Two colour graph
Single sales doubled in 2006 because of downloads. This amazing, fantastic two colour graph demonstrates the rise of digital sales against 'real' singles.
I must admit, I was in HMV the other day and very nearly spent £20 until I remembered I could get the same thing from Bleep for a lot less.
Which brings me to the only thing that makes me sad about the uprise in downloads. I discovered a lot of electronica through buying records because of their cover art. At the top of this post is the graf-style sleeve of the Sabres Of Paradise's Theme. I had no idea who they were when I bought it, but I loved the design.
I reckon too that I wouldn't been as quick to discover Aphex Twin, Boards Of Canada, Underworld, Orbital or early ambience like Feed Your Head if it wasn't for my ability to be impressed by a pretty picture. Can we live in a world where we will never know the astonishment of Future Sound Of London's CG cleverness ever again?
The reality is somewhere inbetween one end of the stick and the other. What will happen is record companies will, upon realising the imminent snuffing-out of the CD, beef up new releases with extra DVDs, multi-gatefold packaging, fold-out posters, fan badges, blow-up dolls and free crossbows to stimulate sales and excite their wallets.
So then, off to i-Tunes with you. Ooh ooh ah, time for the guru.
Jan 1, 2007
Title: Subtracks (album)
Suitably for a new year post, have a fattening dollop of nostalgia. 808 State's Graham Massey has splurged out a full album of his aquatic-themed side project and it sounds like, um, 808 State. It boasts the same analogue complexity and rolling, melodic scrumptiousness - not a million miles from Two Lone Swordsmen. It's like being back in the 1990s except without James Bond films and Teletubbies.
Artist: Paul Hartnoll
Title: Patchwork Guilt (single)
This may be on a minor label, but this is one half of collosal uber techno monster Orbital taking his baby solo steps. Minimal and slightly absurd, this is confident melodic electro that sounds like, um, Orbital. It's reminiscent of In Sides, but not as smashing. Maybe we need a full album before Hartnoll can un-doff his Orbital hat. This is like being back in the 1990s, but without Friends and dial-up internets.
Title: Various titles (EPs)
Before music was invented, Tom Middleton and Mark Pritchard helped birth modern electronica with their Evolution label. These re-releases remind us how radical, raw and revolutionary the Middleton / Pritchard partnership was. This is simple, unpretentious old-fashioned techno. It's just like living back in the 1990s, except without the corporate takeover of raves and the bloody Star Wars revival.