16 September 2010

FILM OF THE WEEK: Scott Pilgrim Vs The World

STARRING: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jason Scwartzman, Keiran Culkin, Alison Pill, Mark Webber, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Ellen Wong
DIRECTOR: Edgar Wright
RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes
RELEASED: 13th August 2010

If ever a film's tagline was accurate, it's "Scott Pilgrim"'s. "An epic tale of epic epicness" is entirely correct, if grammatically awful. The word "epic" is admittedly overused by us young'uns nowadays, but there is no other word I can think of to describe Edgar Wright's third film. Adapted from Bryan Lee O'Malley's graphic novel series, Scott Pilgrim... follows the story of the titular Scott, a 22 year old Canadian slacker, who plays bass in garage band Sex Bob-omb. They're not very good, but have at least one huge fan in Scott's 17 year old high-school girlfriend, Knives Chau. Unsure of what to his friends and bandmates' disapproval about the relationship, our hero meets another obstacle in the arrival of Ramona Flowers, the girl of Scott's dreams, literally. At a battle of the bands that Sex Bob-omb are playing, Ramona's ex Matthew Patel crashes the gig, challenging Scott to a fight to the death as the first member of The League Of Evil Exes. Only after the League hase been defeated, can Scott and Ramona finally be together.

For anyone over the age of 30, SPvsTW will most likely be a blur of bright colours, noises and meaninglesspop-culture references. But to an audience well-versed in games and indie-rock, it will be, well, epic. Fans of Wright's previous work (Spaced, Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz) will be familiar with his quick-paced directing style and should help you to notice every little reference buried within the film. Michael Cera once again plays an awkward indie nerd hopelessly in love with a girl, but expands his acting range to include "bit of a docuhebag" this time, since Scott Pilgrim isn't the most likeable guy around for the first hour or so. You never know, Cera might turn into a great actor someday, like Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Both have played the "awkward/alternative" guy multiple times (Cera in Arrested Development, Nick & Norah, Paper Heart and Youth In Revolt, Gordon-Levitt in 3rd Rock, 10 Things I Hate About You and Mysterious Skin) and Gordon-Levitt is now forging his own place as a very gifted actor, thanks to Inception, Brick and the upcoming Hesher. You've just got to hope Cera doesn't get stuck in an unfortunate rut.

But back to "Scott Pilgrim...". The film is full of computer game references and every single one works; from Scott's "Pee" bar emptying out when visiting the "little boys' room" (a possible nod to The Sims) to the aspect ratio changing as if the action is cutting to a cutscene. It also stays as faithful as possible to the original comic series. Sound effects (such as phones ringing etc) appear on-screen as text, characters get introduced with text boxes and descriptions; in fact the only big change from the series is, well, the second half of the plot. The Scott Pilgrim series was only three volumes long when production started on the film, with the sixth and final volume only being released a few months ago, so there are a fair few disparities between the two. But without some backstory and plot points, the film is actually a bit more enjoyable and coherent than the graphic novels. The ending is certainly a lot easier to wrap your head around, whilst some hardcore fans will inevitably have a few gripes of their favourite lines being cut, the film is hilarious enough without having in-jokes and obvious lines thrown at you every few seconds. All in all, Scott Pilgrim has just the right amount of romance, action, comedy and rocking out to live up to its tagline, and is the perfect rom-com for anyone brought up with Nintendo and Nirvana.

16 August 2010

FILM OF THE WEEK: Shutter Island

STARRING: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Sir Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer, Max Von Sydow
DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese
RUNNING TIME: 137 minutes
RELEASED: 19th February 2010

YES. I know this is a music blog I'm writing. If I hand't figured that out by now, I'd have to deaf, dumb and blind (and hopefully good at pinball to compensate). But as much as I am a music obsessive, I'm a film geek in equal measure. Plus film and music are intrinsically entwined; for instance, would any Tarantino movie be quite as cool without the great man himself handpicking the best accompanying soundtracks? Would (500) Days of Summer be so adored by the indie contingent if it weren't for the inclusion of The Smiths, Regina Spektor, Feist and She & Him in the film? The OSTs of Juno, Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Watchmen and even Alice In Wonderland are packed with great tracks ranging from Jimi Hendrix to Editors, Mott The Hoople to Cee-Lo Green, Franz Ferdinand to Muse and even Robert Smith. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Edgar Wright's forthcoming comic book adaptation (sure to be amazing, just so you know) will feature Beck, Broken Social Scene, Frank Black, Metric, Blood Red Shoes and The Bluetones, whilst Radiohead's producer Nigel Godrich will be providing the score. And if you need any more proof that music helps to create iconic moments in cinema, see the opening to Trainspotting, Reservoir Dogs and Toy Story. Yes, Toy Story. It's quite ironic then that the first film I've chosen for FOTW has no such star-studded soundtrack or classic pop songs augmenting every scene.

Shutter Island (adapted from Dennis Lehane's 2003 novel) pretty much cements Leonardo DiCaprio's place as Martin Scorsese's new muse, for lack of a better word, replacing Robert DeNiro. Their fourth film working together (after Gangs Of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004) and The Departed (2006)), DiCaprio plays US Marshal Teddy Daniels, sent to investigate the Ashecliff Hospital for the criminally insane on Shutter Island. Along with partner Chuck (Mark Rufallo), Daniels is on the case of the missing patient Rachel Solando, who apparently escaped from her locked cell. Suspecting a conspiracy, Daniels keeps digging deeper in to the workings of the hospital, interviewing patients and staff alike working his way closer and closer to something he doesn't want to know.

Whilst not a timeless classic of a film, Shutter Island makes it four hits in a row for the Scorsese/DiCaprio partnership (it's Scorsese's highest-grossing film worldwide) and not without good reason. The plot and twist are rather Hitchcock-esque and as always Scorsese directs the events fantastically, a one-take, dolly-cam shot of Teddy Daniels' military past being a particular highlight. The superb supporting cast don't hurt either, with Ruffalo, Sir Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer, Max von Sydow and Jackie Earle Haley (of Watchmen fame, particularly pleasing to this fanboy) all giving memorable turns. If reports are to be believed and "Leo and Marty" have two more films in the works, then the future looks pretty bright.

The Cribs - Housewife

Returning after their fourth album (last year's lacklustre "Ignore The Ignorant"), The Cribs have released "Housewife" as a stand-alone single. At least I hope it's a stand-alone single, as an entire album with this sound would certainly mark a dip in form for the Wakefield/Manc band. Already splitting opinion betweens fans and outsiders alike, "Housewife" is the first Cribs song to use a synth, to my knowledge anyway, and whilst lo-fi indie-punk is what the band do best, yet another single cut from that same cloth wouldn't have left much cloth to cut from in future...if that makes any sense. Some supposed fans are blaming Johnny Marr's involvement for taking away some of the bite of the first three Cribs albums, and there is some truth in that (it's a common opinion that when played live, pre-Marr songs are ruined due to his rhythm playing being added). But whilst this change in sound is refreshing, I'm not too sure it works. All the pieces are in place; Marr's rhythm guitar adds to the song, the synth riff is actually catchy and Gary Jarman's basslines drive the song along (although Ryan Jarman still can't hold a tune in a bucket with the lid on), but it doesn't seem to gel on the first few listens. Of course, it'll be sung back in unison by the time it's played at Reading & Leeds, so I doubt The Cribs will have too many worries about a backlash just yet.

"Housewife" is out on iTunes now or slightly less legal means here.
The Cribs play the Reading & Leeds festivals on Saturday 28th and Friday 27th of August respectively

14 August 2010

Everything Everything - Man Alive

Everything Everything; the great white hope for Manchester music...except they're not actually from there. With members hailing from Newcastle and Kent, their tag as the latest part of the grand Manc-rock lineage (which, even as a Scouser, I am rather envious of) is a tad misleading. But since they actually formed in Mancunia, I'll let it slide.

To describe EE's and "Man Alive"'s sound without painting in brushstrokes broader than the defecit would be pretty tough. It has been called "indie R&B" which is quite accurate on superb singles "MY KZ, YR BF" and "Schoolin'". The latter could well be sold as a single (or at least a remix) from Jason Derulo or NeYo or whoever and you would happily believe that. At times the band sound something like Radiohead getting their funk on, if only because of frontman Jonathan Everything's (the band have all adopted the surname "Everything" a la The Ramones and to a lesser extent, The Fratellis) falsetto vocals, which could be a sticking point for some delicate-eared listeners.

Another 'Marmite' aspect is sure to be the often-undecipherable lyrics. I for one am looking forward to getting my hands on the CD booklet to work out what the hell they're going about. For example; "You’ve become a smithereen!/(I’m watching that!) Foxhound frolic on the abattoir floor, up in heaven it’s symmetrical oh/ Airbrush! What have you done with my father?/Why does he look like a carving?/How do I live in the present?/I make my own density?" from "Photoshop Handsome". "Suffragette Suffragette"'s refrain of "Who is gonna sit on your face when I'm not there?" will probably gain a mixed reaction from any WI members who happen to be listening, but its Biffy Clyro-esque structure and riffs should be enough to make them discard any outrage that may build.
Whilst the slick jerky pop may be the most common view of EE seen, "Final Form" and "Two For Nero" showcase a softer, if equally complex side. "NASA Is On Your Side" is the highlight of "Man Alive", hinting at Muse when they were still weird and good; all reverbed guitars, bouncing bass and an epic chorus all spread across five minutes and seven seconds of dreamlike alt.pop.

One of the best albums so far this year, "Man Alive" is a debut that had more than a bit of pre-release expectation on it, but that expectation has been met and surpassed, without a doubt. Tipped for great things in the deluge of industry shortlists released at the start of the year, Everything Everything have two possible career trajectories, based on "Man Alive". Either they'll head to the upper echelons of the charts, ushering in an era of intelligent, genre bending pop. Or more likely they'll become a bafflingly huge cult band, making intelligent genre-bending pop. Whichever path they end up on, they're sure to keep creating music that sounds more fresh and original than pretty much everything out there.
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: "MY KZ, YR BF", "QWERTY Finger", "Schoolin'", "Photoshop Handsome", "Two For Nero", "NASA Is On Your Side" FOR FANS OF: Radiohead, Muse, most bands classified as dance-punk

13 August 2010

Manic Street Preachers: New b-side and other news

Just over a year on from Journal For Plague Lovers, the Manics are back with tenth album "Postcards From A Young Man". Whereas JFPL was seen as a companion piece to 1994's "The Holy Bible", PFAYM is a return to the bombast and anthemic sound of "Everything Must Go". Described by band mouthpiece Nicky Wire as "one last shot at mass communication", it features appearances from Ian McCulloch, John Cale and Guns 'N' Roses' Duff McKagan. And as if that doesn't sound good enough the artwork features Tim Roth of Reservoir Dogs/Pulp Fiction/Lie To Me fame.

The band have made one of the six b-sides (six!) to first single "(It's Not War) Just the End of Love" available for free download. Wonderfully named, "I'm Leaving You For Solitude" sounds like a lost John Lennon solo track and surprisingly lacks a typical stadium-sized James Dean Bradfield solo, but sounds all the more refreshing for it.

The tracklisting for "Postcards For A Young Man" is as follows:
  1. (It's Not War) Just the End of Love
  2. Postcards from a Young Man
  3. Some Kind of Nothingness (featuring Ian McCulloch)
  4. The Descent – (Pages 1 & 2)
  5. Hazleton Avenue
  6. Auto-Intoxication
  7. Golden Platitudes
  8. I Think I've Found It
  9. A Billion Balconies Facing the Sun
  10. All We Make Is Entertainment
  11. The Future Has Been Here 4 Ever
  12. Don't Be Evil
In case you haven't got quite enough of the Manics yet, there'll be a documentary this Sunday at 12pm on BBC 6 Music. The band will be revealing the pivotal moments and songs that shaped their lives and their careers. It'll also be the first chance to hear new tracks "Auto Intoxication" and "A Billion Balconies Facing the Sun".

"Postcards From A Young Man" is released on the 27th of September
"(It's Not War) Just The End Of Love" is released on the 13th of September
Manic Street Preachers kick off their tour in support of the album on the 29th of September in Glasgow.

10 August 2010

VIDEO - Grinderman - Heathen Child

Taken from Grinderman's second eponymous album, "Heathen Child" is exactly the kind of primal garage rock that we've come to expect from Nick Cave's busman's holiday band. Wailing guitars and an irresistible groove provide a backing for Cave's howls of "I don't care about Allah, don't care about Buddah, don't care about Krishna", sounding ever more like his old self in The Birthday Party. The video features a fair amount of nudity, the floating head from Hot Chip's "I Feel Better" video, wolves, wolfmen and the band dressed as Roman centurions. I hope my mid-life crisis is as brilliant and mental as Nick Cave's seems to be.

"Grinderman 2" is released on the 13th of September
"Heathen Child" is released on the 6th of September (but you can download it here)
Grinderman kick off their UK tour on the 25th of September in Nottingham

11 July 2010

INCOMING: Los Campesinos! - All's Well That Ends EP

LC! are surely the most featured band on Hitsville U.K., but not without good reason. Last week the band posted an mp3 of the ‘Princess Version’ of the title track of their most recent album "Romance Is Boring". It has just been announced that the track makes up part of a new ‘reworkings’ EP titled "All’s Well That Ends". The EP is made up of four alternate versions of tracks from "Romance Is Boring". The tracklisting is as follows:

1. Romance Is Boring (Princess Version)
2. Letters From Me To Charlotte (RSVP)
3. Straight In At 101/It’s Never Enough
4. (All’s Well That Ends) In Medias Res

Ellen, the band's bassist, filmed the recordings of the EP.

Untitled from Los Campesinos! on Vimeo.

The EP will first be available to buy at Los Campesinos! Wichiten show at London’s Garage on Thursday 15th July, and will then be available in limited number from independent record shops from July 19th.
You can pre-order the 10″ EP from Wichita, here: http://www.wichita-recordings.com/shop/webb258t.html

4 May 2010


Foals' second album, Total Life Forever, is the latest to recieve a 9/10 rating here on Hitsville U.K. and that means an "In Celebration Of..." post. Enjoy...

Foals - Total Life Forever

First of all, the pre-release hype for “Total Life Forever” has been at fever pitch ever since “Spanish Sahara” made its way on to the internet and has rarely let up, save for a bit of unjust backlash when “This Orient” appeared. Fanboys have been eagerly waiting for proof that Foals are the new Radiohead, or some equally hyperbolic statement, whilst detractors have been queuing up to shoot the band down as arty, student, math-rock bollocks...or something as equally well-thought out and intelligent. If their debut “Antidotes” was something of a curveball to those expecting an album full of “Hummer”-esque indie disco hits, then this should be perfect for them. For those who wanted Foals to go all out and fully embrace their experimental side, then this should also be pretty much perfect. In other words, Foals have made the best follow-up they could have possibly made.

Forgive me for getting all oxymoronic, but the most noticeable thing on first listen is how chaotic and dense the new tracks sound, yet they’re mostly straightforward indie-rock songs and, dare I say, even a little poppy. The plaintive picking on album opener “Blue Blood” gives way to the kind of indie funk last seen on Friendly Fires’ debut album or Franz Ferdinand’s third, before evolving into a whirlwind of noise that first time round listen sounds messy, but repeat listens reveal that everything is in its right place (sorry, that’ll be the only Radiohead pun here). The funk strut carries on into “Miami”, which has ‘big hit’ branded on it. The title track and “Black Gold” continue in the same vein until we hit “Spanish Sahara”. Near-7 minute comeback tracks seem to be the vogue right now (see; The Horrors, Blood Red Shoes etc) so it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise that Foals returned with one. What is a surprise is Yannis Philippakis’ vocals. Whereas on “Antidotes” he usually sounded like a yapping terrier with a fringe, Yannis now sounds a little more assured in his own voice and ability to sing. Alright, he’s not exactly Florence Welch when it comes to singing, but he does have a unique voice which comes into its own on “Spanish Sahara”. Accompanied only by a solitary guitar and a drumbeat that sounds a million miles away, the track gradually builds from these three elements to swirling alt. pop brilliance. One of the tracks of the year already, it’s obviously the standout and it’s clear to see why some fans were disappointed with the next track “This Orient”.

A great song on its own, but coming straight after “Spanish Sahara” didn’t really help. If anything, “This Orient” is a better example of the depth of the album than the previous track. Verging on FM rock, the song is perfectly layered with every instrument and voice complimenting each other. In fact, “This Orient” is probably Foals most pop moment yet. The first half of “Total Life Forever” is pop, in a roundabout way. Justin Bieber and The Jonas Brothers would kill for some of the hooks that Foals have crammed into the first six tracks, if they weren’t the spawn of Satan and whatnot. But after the instrumental interlude of “Fugue” segues into “After Glow” the band lets their experimental side run free. Sounding a little like “Born Slippy” at the start (at least it does to me) the latter becomes a tornado of tribal dumming, screeching guitars and typical Foals riffs. “Alabaster” and “2 Trees” are possibly the most downbeat Foals songs yet, with the latter being the best on the album after “Spanish Sahara”, but it has competition from “What Remains”, the album’s closer. With guitars alternately sounding like harps and drills, it might not reach the indie discos but it rounds of an album which gives further evidence that Foals truly are a special band.
FOR FANS OF: Radiohead, Bloc Party, These New Puritans,
ESSENTIAL: "Blue Blood", "Miami", "Spanish Sahara", "This Orient", "2 Trees", "What Remains"

29 April 2010


As I've done with Gorillaz' and Los Campesinos!'s 9 and 9.5/10 albums this year, here's the best of LCD Soundsystem's videos to educate yourself with and also in celebration of their 9/10 for "This Is Happening".
(Okay, so the last one isn't LCD, but it's pretty damn amazing)

LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

For those out of the loop, LCD Soundsystem are probably the most consistently great band of the last five years. Having garnered near universal acclaim with their first two albums "LCD Soundsystem" and "Sound Of Silver", as well as three Grammy nominations along the way, it’s fair to say they’re a pretty big deal. The brains behind it all and the only actual member is New York DJ, producer and co-founder of DFA Records, James Murphy, whose barely-even-singing singing voice has been the calling card of the band since their first single back in 2002. Having created what many to consider to be two of the best songs of the noughties (apologies for using that phrase) in “Someone Great” and “All My Friends”, expectations have been a little high for LCD’s third, and if Murphy is to be believed, final album.

Lead single “Drunk Girls” wasn’t well received by all LCD fans, although most saw it as a good, if slightly disposable, dancefloor filler in the vein of previous single “North American Scum”. But “Drunk Girls” with its pop sensibilities and instant raucous hook is a world away from the rest of “This Is Happening”. For one, it’s under five and a half minutes long and sounds nothing like Berlin-era David Bowie, whereas the other eight tracks do. Album opener “Dance Yrself Clean”, with its slow and steady build-up to the show-stopping drop, could well be the best thing Murphy has ever done and the quality doesn’t let up from there on in. “I Can Change” is a swirling, shimmering slice of modern disco that you’ll be whistling for the whole day after hearing it, whilst “Pow Pow” and “You Wanted A Hit” return to the dance-punk sound that Murphy and DFA Records helped to create. Despite the latter song’s hook of “We won’t be your babies anymore”, it lives up to its title by being the only other possible hit after “Drunk Girls”, despite being nine minutes long.
“All I Want” is such a pastiche of “Heroes” it’s almost a disappointment when a coke-addled Bowie fails to turn up halfway though. Almost. “Somebody’s Calling Me” continues in treading the line between pastiche and rip-off, by sounding like the illegitimate offspring of Iggy Pop’s “Nightclubbing”. Whilst with lesser artists you’d accuse of a lack of ideas or shamelessly rehashing the past, with LCD Soundsystem, it just sounds like an obvious homage to Murphy’s influences. If “This Is Happening” is definitely to be Murphy’s last album under the LCD name then there’s few better ways to sign off than album closer “Home”, a funky-yet-heartfelt future floor-filler that surely wasn’t intended as such. It’s the closest LCD Soundsystem has come to a conventional pop song over three albums.

“This Is Happening” isn’t full of pure dance-punk hits like “North American Scum” or “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House”, neither is it a collection of earnest, soulful laments such as the previously-mentioned “Someone Great” and “All My Friends” as some may have hoped. Instead its sound is somewhere in between; songs to make you move your hips and break your heart at the same time. They’ll be missed.
FOR FANS OF: Hot Chip, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, The Rapture, Simian Mobile Disco, Justice
ESSENTIAL: "Dance Yrself Clean", "Drunk Girls", "I Can Change", "All I Want, "Somebody's Calling Me", "Home"

01 Dance Yrself Clean by HitsvilleUK-1

Kele - Tenderoni

Since Bloc Party have gone on hiatus recently, its members have been given a chance to venture into that uneven of lands known as "side projects". Russell Lissack has formed Pin Me Down with Milena Mapris (essentially a electro-pop version of Bloc Party), Gordon Moakes is now a part of Young Legionnaire with The Automatic's Paul Mullen and La Roux's William Bowerman and, whilst drummer Matt Tong has stayed quiet so far, frontman Kele Okereke has gone solo, embracing his love of clubbing and dance music. "Tenderoni", the first fruits of his solo album "The Boxer", recieved its first radio play tonight to divided opinion. Sounding plagarisingly close to both Wiley's "Wearing My Rolex" and Bodyrox's "Yeah Yeah", "Tenderoni" will almost certainly be a mammoth club hit come the summer, even if it lacks that one big vocal hook that every dance classic needs. Skip to 1:36 and you can just envisage the sweaty crowd of skinny jeans going absolutely apeshit...in a good way. The first proper summer anthem is here, and I expect there's plenty more to come on the album.


The Essex-located, Japan-obsessed producer (he attended the School of Oriental and Asian Studies for two years, learning to read and write Japanese) has spent the last year or so becoming the go-to guy for remixes, at the same time as releasing three EPs of his own stellar material. Having tinkered with tracks from Little Boots, Telepathe, Bloc Party and Health, Gold Panda's tracks are likely to become just as vital of a summer soundtrack as The Drums, Summer Camp et al; fuzzy, minimal beats with a strange nostalgic feel created by old VHS samples and loops.
FOR FANS OF: Joy Orbison, James Blake, Yeasayer, Hot Chip
IDEAL FOR: Lazy summer days, sitting in a field, watching clouds. Or remembering days like this. Or pretending to yourself you've spent days like that.

You by Gold Panda
Back Home by Gold Panda
Quitters Raga by Gold Panda

M.I.A. - Born Free (video)

M.I.A, Born Free from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.

To continue the recent very-video-heavy content here on Hitsville U.K., M.I.A's "Born Free" has itself a video. Definitely NSFW and certainly NSFG (not safe for gingers), the video is probably one of the more thought-provoking and uncomprimising of recent times.

26 April 2010

Frankie & The Heartstrings - Tender (video)

Here's the brand spanking new video from Sunderland's finest popsters, Frankie & The Heartstrings for their latest single "Tender". A rather awesome tune to match the band's rather awesome barnets, 2010 should be a damn good year for The Heartstings, possibly the best new British band around right now.. I can imagine a million and one Blur fans getting in a huff over F&THs stealing "their band"'s song title. The single, released today, is limited to 888 7" vinyls. I pre-ordered mine, what's your excuse?

23 April 2010

The xx - Islands (video)

Adding to what has been an extremely prolific and extremely video-heavy day here on Hitsville U.K., here's the promo for "Islands", the latest single from The xx's imaginatively-titled debut "xx". The coolest/best/worst/most boring new band around, depending on your viewpoint (I'm cemented in the first two opinions myself) and creators of the third best album of 2009, as well as annoyingly being used on both E4's 90210 ads and the Beeb's Election campaign ads; if you don't already love them, you will pretty soon.

Vampire Weekend - Giving Up The Gun (video)

Whilst LCD Soundsystem's video for "Drunk Girls" may be the best of the year, second place has to go to Vampire Weekend's star-studded promo for "Giving Up The Gun". Featuring RZA, Joe Jonas, Jake Gyllenhaal, Lil' Jon and the best headband since Solid Snake, it's a little bonkers and completely brilliant.

M.I.A - Born Free

M.I.A is back. Her Diplo-produced, as-yet-untitled third album is due for release around the 29th of June, and the first song to appear from it is "Born Free", an 100mph electro-punk racket which comes off a little like "Sandinista"-era Clash, with a bit of Yeah Yeah Yeahs thrown in. It's not quite "Paper Planes" but it's pretty damn close. Enjoy...

M.I.A. - Born FreebyTheProphetBlog

NEU! featuring Blur, BLK JKS, Big Boi, and Ryan Jarman

Blur - Fool's Day
Poor Damon Albarn. Being in two of the biggest British bands of the last 20 years (cartoon or otherwise) must be one tough gig. There's no other explanation for the melancholia hovering over his most recent musical output. Gorillaz' "Plastic Beach" often drifts into miserable mopey-ness, especially and unsurprisingly on "On Melancholy Hill", although that doesn't cloud the brilliance of the album too much. Here, on Blur's first single for seven years, released exclusively last week for Record Store Day, Damon bemoans "another day on this little island" with all the effort and enthusiasm of your typical bedroom-dwelling 16 year old. But away from Albarn's miserabilia and Kinksian lyrics of modern Britain, the rest of the band sound as if they never split. Dave Rowntree's drums are solid and simple, Alex James' basslines are laid-back as ever and Graham Coxon goes into riff heaven for the final minute of the song. It's relieving and exciting that they've come up with something this good after seven years apart. All anyone (except Oasis fans) can hope for now is a new album. Despite quotes from the band saying the reunion is over, the line "the forthcoming dramas of the studio, and a love of all sweet music/We just can’t let go" says otherwise.

Download "Fool's Day"

BLK JKS - Zol!
With the World Cup in South Africa coming up in roughly a month and a half,it makes sense for the footy-related tunes to start rolling out. And BLK JKS (pronounced Black Jacks) since are South African themselves, it makes even more sense. Normally an experimental rock band, BLK JKS have produced a) the best football song since Dario G's "Carnival de Paris" and b) possibly the most summery, infectious tune I've heard in a long while. Hopefully, we'll all be singing along to "I roll and shoot at the same time" by the time England play Honduras in the final (a guy can dream...)
Download "Zol!" from Pretty Much Amazing

Big Boi - Shutterbugg
It shouldn't come as much surprise that "Shutterbugg" is great. After all Big Boi is one of half of Outkast, and whilst this doesn't quite reach the heights of "Hey Ya!" (not many things do), it's up there with the best. Pencilled in as the first single on Big Boi's forthcoming awesomely-named album "Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty", "Shutterbugg" is likely to be one of the big pop hits of 2010, and there's no reason why it shouldn't be
Big Boi - Shutterbug by HitsvilleUK-1

Ryan Jarman - Do-Wah-Doo
In case you didn't keep up with the love lives of today's indie stars, Ryan Jarman, singer in The Cribs, is going out with Kate Nash of "Foundations"/"bittah/fittah" fame. Nash's new album (which the original of this track sits on) is supposedly full of riot grrrl influences and punk guitars, which sounds like Mr Jarman has had a lot of influence on his new beau's musical direction. The original "Do-Wa-Doo" is a pretty perfect meld of Nash's old and new sounds, whilst this cover sticks to acoustic guitar and a bit of Stylophone chucked in for good measure (the video for the original is up there for comparison). Jarman's voice tends to irk some listeners, but when singing this, it suits the song almost more than Kate Nash. The sad thing is that both versions of "Do-Wah-Doo" are better than almost everything on The Cribs last album.
Ryan Jarman - Do Wah Doo by HitsvilleUK-1

LCD Soundsystem - Drunk Girls (video)

Some hate it, some love it. The lead single from LCD Soundsystem's third and final album "This Is Happening" is one of the party songs of 2010, and also has the best video of the year so far. All I'm saying is panda anarchists who like a party.

22 April 2010

Even more Los Campesinos! for your delectation

In honour of "Romance Is Boring", Hitsville U.K.'s highest rated album of the year so far (beating Gorillaz' "Plastic Beach"), here's a handful of LC! videos, including one of the first two songs of their Liverpool gig in February (which I went to and requested those songs *proud fanboy moment...even though my requesting them probably had nothing to do with them being played.... * I'll shut up now and let you watch the videos)

Los Campesinos! - Romance Is Boring

I’m never going to do a Los Campesinos! album review on time am I? It took me two months to review “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” and it’s taken me nearly the same amount for “Romance Is Boring”. Arguments on whether this is LC!’s second or third album will wage between indie kids for eternity (the band consider “WAB,WAD” as an extended EP, not a full album); I’m firmly on the ‘third album’ side if I’m being honest, but I digress.

In the two and a bit years since their debut album, Los Campesinos! have matured into one of the best indie bands around (that’s indie as in independent in sound and ethos, not indie as in The fucking Pigeon Detectives). The twee shackles which plagued them early on have been thrown off and whilst the hyperactive pop playfulness still remains, like a chihuahua in a Kenickie t-shirt, it’s now more streamlined and beefed –up, sounding less disposable and more life-affirming. The bouncy indie pop of old remains for the first half a dozen tracks or so, the title track being the best example of LC!’s evolution. Undeniably more rock than earlier tracks, it contains a chorus catchier than any flu the media choose to chuck on the front page (“You’re pouting in your sleep, I’m waking, still yawning/We’re proving to each other that romance is boring”). Lyrically, the album is superb. Gareth Campesinos! is one of the best lyricists the country has to offer right now, and there are few who can match him for laugh-out-loud moments e.g. “I think we need more post-coital and less post-rock/Feels like the build-up takes forever but you never touch my cock” on “Straight In At 101”, as well as “Plan A”, probably the only song ever about being called up to the Maltese national football team.

Of course, as any LC! fan knows, it’s not all fun and indie-pop frolics, neither musically nor lyrically. Both “In Medias Res” and the aforementioned “Straight In At 101” offer up some pretty depressing imagery (“I phone my friends and family to gather round the television; The talking heads count down the most heart-wrenching break ups of all time/Imagine the great sense of waste, the indignity, the embarrassment when not a single one of that whole century was... mine”). To describe every little nuance and bit of lyrical genius on the album would take quite some time, and would probably be fairly boring. But I will say this; to experience “Romance Is Boring” fully, reading the lyric book along with listening to it is advised (that is if you actually go out and buy it...physically...remember that?).

I’ve gone all this way and not even mentioned “The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future”, the album’s highlight of highlights and 5th best song of last year, according to me. Foreboding guitar picking and a lone, mournful violin that begin the track belie the explosion of a chorus that arrives, taking any listener on an aural rollercoaster. If you don’t at least “kind of like” Los Campesinos! after this album then, at the risk of sounding like a rabid fanboy, we can’t even know each other*
*Kidding, of course. I just think this a superb album is all.

SOUNDS LIKE: All of your teenage angst, but more intelligent, witty, deep and catchy. And nothing at all like whiny bitchy emo.
ESSENTIAL: All of it. Seriously.

16 April 2010

Thom Yorke/Atoms For Peace - Love Will Tear Us Apart

Thom Yorke covering Joy Division? I'm surprised the indie world has imploded in on itself by now.

30 March 2010

Hot Chip - I Feel Bonnie (Club Remix)

I've been pretty obsessed with the latest Hot Chip single recently, and now here's the equally amazing remix featuring vocals from Will Oldham a.k.a Bonnie "Prince" Billy. It's times like this I wish I was a DJ, if only to play this...

NEU! featuring MGMT, Chiddy Bang and Stornoway

MGMT - Flash Delirium/Congratulations
Much has been made of MGMT's anti-singles stance on their sophomore album. Having had three of the biggest "choons" of 2008 ("Time To Pretend", "Electric Feel", "Kids"), announcing that you're shunning the single system might seem a little contrary for the sake of it, but that's just MGMT. If you'd delved further into "Oracular Spectacular" than just the singles you would have found a wealth of modern-day psychedelic and experimental pop. Personally, I was never a fan of that album as a whole, sticking to the aforementioned Big Three singles and nowt else. Now, the supposed lack of radio-friendly material on "Congratulations" should scare someone like me away, but the first two tracks to see the day of light from the album are surprisingly accessible, nothing like the proggy noodling that pre-release hyperbole would have you believe. "Flash Delirium" takes a few listens for it to grab you, and when it does, it reveals itself as a fairly conventional classic rock song with a psychedelic twist. That is, until the raucous last twenty seconds and the completely grade-A batshit video. The title track and album closer is a far more laid-back affair, so much so that it's not completely unlikely to think that the band recorded it horizontally. Neither track reaches the heights of the Big Three, but are still worthy additions to MGMT's canon. It just remains to be seen whether "Congratulations" lives up to it's hype or is more of a mess than a student kitchen.
MGMT - Flash Delirium MP3
7/10 / 7/10

Chiddy Bang - Opposite Of Adults

Speaking of MGMT, "Opposite Of Adults" by Philadelphian MC/Producer duo Chiddy Bang samples "Kids" and creates what will likely be one of the biggest party songs of the year, akin to Asher Roth's "I Love College" last year. In fact Mr. Roth gets a namecheck/diss (whatever you young lot call it now). The sampling of "Kids" is a fantastic reworking, sure to breath new life into what has already been a huge hit. Admittedly, its lyrical content isn't too great ("Follow me, follow me I'm the leader/And when I park cars I don't pay for the meter". I'm sure Dylan's crapping his pants...actually considering his age, he probably is anyway) but party hits are never known for being dense explorations of the human psyche. Plus it references Ron Burgundy, which is an instant winner with me.
Download "Opposite Of Adults" and more

Stornoway - I Saw You Blink
I don't think anyone was asking for a hybrid of Vampire Weekend and Mumford & Sons (I certainly wasn't. I don't want VW's perfection tainted by that shit) but we've got it in "I Saw You Blink". The elastic bassline and breezy tone are reminiscent of the Afrobeat-loving Brooklynites, whilst there's a folk-friendly edge that recalls Mumford, without making me violently angry. Breezy enough to not get annoying, but catchy enough to no go in one ear and straight out of the other, Stornoway are one band to keep an eye on. They'll be all over Radio 1 by August.

29 March 2010

Happy Nick Cave Day!

I've decided today is Nick Cave Day. No other reason, other than he's a genius and I woke up in a Cave mood this morning. Enjoy the best of the (former) owner of the best facial hair in music.

20 March 2010

LIVE - Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip @ O2 Academy 2, Liverpool - 19.03.2010

It's fairly safe to say I was one of only two people wearing a shirt and tie at this gig (the other being Pip himself) and I was certainly the only person to be wearing a cardigan. They're not exactly hip hop clobber, unless you're involved at the rather nerdy end of the rap spectrum. Instead, tracksuits and trainers are the preferred uniform, as opening act Sound Of Rum adhere to. Frontwoman Kate looks as if she'd be more at home mugging you for lunch money than rapping on a stage. It's refreshing to hear live instrumentation (actual drums, guitar and bass) in hip-hop than simply relying on laptops etc. Although this means SOR occasionally veer close to rap-rock, it's never too much of a concern and they provide a lot of fun for a support act.

Arriving on stage in what appears to be a Chinese Alan Partridge mask, with a beard to rival Pip's and a bulk to rival Giant Haystacks, B. Dolan has a pretty immediate stage presence. His first bit of banter; "It's my first time here and I only know one thing about Liverpool. That thing is.... the women are loose". Whilst I won't comment on that (for fear of having to deal with the backlash from female friends), Dolan's set was incredible and set the bar high for Dan and Pip: "The Reptilian Agenda", a call-and-response song revolving around the line "The Queen of England is a Lizard"; "a party jam about agoraphobia"; "Joan Of Arc" (dedicated to "Sarah Palin; my muse, my sexual chocolate") whose chorus goes "Joan of Arc had a dildo named Jesus/made of wood from the cross of its namesake/she considered the splinters atonement/and when she came it would fill her with light!" and a bit of audience participation in the form of Dolan stipping down to an Evil Kenivel suit and jumping over the first person to climb the barrier. You don't get this with Kings Of Leon.

Personally, I never thought of Dan and Pip being the most popular of bands. Sure, they obviously have many, many fans, that goes without saying, but selling out the Academy to a rather varied crowd wasn't something I expected. An intense, loud and sweaty gig was par for the course. Whilst I had all the movement space of a dwarf in a pillowcase, I tried my best to obey Pip and get dancing. Songs both old and new were met with near-Beatlemania shouting. Clearly Dan & Scroob fans are quick learners when it comes to lyrics. Cynics usually criticise the duo for being over-earnest, but in the live arena it's clear to see that whilst sincere, they never take themselves too seriously. With both Dan and Pip on fine form, the closing hattrick of "Thou Shalt Always Kill", "Get Better" and "Letter From God To Man" is the perfect ending that any fan could hope for.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT: Either Dan's mid-gig biscuit craving (someone actually brought a pack with them...) or "N Dubz, get better; Chipmunk, get better; Tinchy Stryder, get better; Scroobius Pip, get better..."

LIVE - Wild Beasts @ O2 Academy 2, Liverpool - 18.03.2010

Wild Beasts are one of a number of contemporary bands who, had they existed 20 to 25 years ago, would have been one of the biggest bands in the country a la The Smiths. There's certainly a similarity between Morrissey, Marr, Rourke & Joyce and the Kendal-via-Leeds band. Sharp, fluid guitar lines, acrobatic vocals and often laugh-out-loud lyrical imagery are part and parcel of Wild Beasts; all three are brought to the fore during their live show.

First support act Lone Wolf certainly lives up to his name. Playing guitar and keyboard solo (the live band "couldn't make the tour") and looking a little lupine, he plays a bewitching set, reminiscent of Bon Iver, just without the overplayed backstory and haunting falsetto. The highlight of the set is forthcoming single "Keep Your Eyes On The Road", which never sounds the same for more than thirty seconds. On the basis of this set, debut album "The Devil And I" should be pretty special.

Erland & The Carnival are up next, and sound like a menagerie of a number of different bands. There are elements of tonight's headline act, the funk of Egyptian Hip Hop, the folksiness of Beirut, the strut of second album Franz Ferdinand (not a bad thing, despite popular opinion) and even the experimentalness of late Blur. This last comparison should come as no surprise when Simon Tong (of The Verve, Blur, Gorillaz and The Good, The Bad & The Queen) is one of the core members of the band. Tong's guitar, along with the relentless drumming of David Nock drive the band's performance. With the current folk rock revival (hello Mumford & Sons, Noah & The Whale, Laura Marling), 2010 could very well see Erland & The Carnival propelled into the spotlight.

By the time Wild Beasts arrive on the stage, the audience are at fever pitch. According to singer Hayden Thorpe, the last time the band headlined a Liverpool gig, there were roughly six people there. There's at least seventy-five times that amount in attendance this time round; "very humbling", in the words of Thorpe. With two stellar albums to pick a setlist from, it's no wonder Wild Beasts turn in a stellar performance. Even though on record, lyrics are occasionally indecipherable thanks to Thorpe's unusual voice, nearly every word is sung back to the band. On this showing, Wild Beasts certainly have the fanbase to reach the level of mainstream adoration that The Maccabees and The Horrors did last year. But should they fail to be picked up by the fickle fifteen year-old "indies", they'll be the biggest and best cult band in the country, which is no bad thing at all.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT: Either the short, bald guy next to me dancing like it was the Happy Mondays on stage or "We've Still Got The Taste Dancin' On Our Tongues"

17 March 2010

VIDEO: Gorillaz - Stylo

In honour of Hitsville U.K.'s first 9/10 album of the year (Plastic Beach, in case you hadn't read), here's the rather cool, Bruce Willis-featuring video for "Stylo" (which doesn't really sound like Eddie Grant's "Time Warp", despite what he says)



6. Ellie Goulding - Lights
Ellie Goudling is in the exact same position as Florence and her Machine were last year. Topping “ones to watch” lists left, right and centre with a Brit Award before her album’s released. That’s a lot of expectation on the former folk singer, and it’s set her up for a fall. Save for the pure pop gold of “Starry Eyed”, “Under The Sheets” and “Wish I Stayed”, as well as the really rather good “Every Time You Go”, there isn’t much to back up the hype. It’s all a bit bedroom pop, nowhere near the levels of Florence, La Roux or even Little Boots. I hate to be so negative, given how cute Ellie Goudling looks (she’s up there with Zooey Deschanel, Marina and Laura Marling for indie-girl crushes) but “Lights” is wholly unspectacular. Really, I should have expected this, considering she’s worked with this dick.
SOUNDS LIKE: Radio 1's wet dream
ESSENTIAL: "Starry Eyed", "Under The Sheets", "Wish I Stayed", "Every Time You Go"

7. Everybody Was In The French Resistance... Now! - Fixin' The Charts Vol. 1
Eddie Argos, he of Art Brut fame as well as smelling like eggs fame (from what I’ve heard from one source) has joined up with Dyan Valdes of The Blood Arm (remember them?) to make...well...an album that sounds like Art Brut going pop. To be honest, it wasn't going to sound like much else, when you take Argos' distinctive half-talking, half-singing style into consideration. Whilst the last two Art Brut albums have been a bit meh, EWITFR...N! (I think I'll just call them The French Resistance from now on) makes Argos sound revitalised with a new lease of life. The chorus of "G.I.R.L.F.R.E.N" is too catchy for it's own good, as will "Think Twice (It's Not Alright)", whilst "Walk Alone" (a riposte to Gerry & The Pacemakers "You'll Never Walk Alone") could possibly become a favourite of Evertonians everywhere (including this one). Okay, it's not life-changing stuff and occasionally a bit too tongue-in-cheek for its own good, but there are worse ways to spend 35 minutes than listening "Fixin' The Charts Vol. 1".
SOUNDS LIKE: Art Brut, if they'd made it to Top Of The Pops
ESSENTIAL: "G.I.R.L.F.R.E.N. (You Know I've Got A)", "Think Twice (It's Not Alright)", "He's A 'Rebel'", "Coal Digger", "Walk Alone"

8. Fyfe Dangerfield - Fly Yellow Moon
After a lacklustre second album, Guillemots have gone on hiatus, allowing amazingly-named frontman Fyfe Dangerfield to go solo. As with Eddie Argos and The French Resistance, "Fly Yellow Moon" doesn't differ greatly from Dangerfield's day job. "She Needs Me", for instance, could slot in perfectly on either Guillemots album, but Dangerfield is a highly underrated songwriter and a world without his songs would be worse off indeed. Opener "When You Walk In The Room" is a bouncy piece of piano-pop that The Beatles would write if they formed tomorrow, and "So Brand New" sees Fyfe switch to '60s crooner mode with good result. "Faster Than The Setting Sun" may veer a bit close to Coldplay territory, but overall "Fly Yellow Moon" is a fine album that should shove Dangerfield's talents further into the spotlight. Now, if we can just get that third Guillemots album...
SOUNDS LIKE: The best alt-pop songs of the year
ESSENTIAL: "When You Walk In The Room", "So Brand New", "Barricades", "Live Wire"

9. Gil Scott Heron - I'm New Here
The godfather of hip-hop has had a rough few years; Gil Scott Heron hasn't released or recorded any new songs since 1994, let alone a new album; has had heavy drug problems, had two spells in jail and contracted HIV. So it comes as no surprise that "I'm New Here" takes on subjects more personal than the political issues of old.Whilst older material was more jazz and beat inflected, "I'm New Here" lends itself more to electronic music. Opening track "On Coming From A Broken Home (Part 1)" pulsating synths give the song a threatening, somewhat aggressive edge, as if Heron's grizzled voice didn't already do that half the time. The album is reminiscent of Johnny's Cash's last few LPs, not as in it's the words of a dying man, and not so much as to sound the same (I can't recall Cash ever delving into trip-hop), but in the intesity and feel of the record, as if Heron has still has a lot left in the tank.
SOUNDS LIKE: That old guy at the back of the bar, who you think might be a big crazy, but is actually a genius being allowed to record an album.
ESSENTIALS: "On Coming From A Broken Home (Part 1)", "I'm New Here", "I'll Take Care Of You"

10. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
If you can get your head around the entirely bonkers back story cooked up by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett to "Plastic Beach", well, you've got a longer attention span than me. As the whole Gorillaz gets sillier and sillier, the music has improved a whole lot. The previous two albums have never really been favourites of mine, thus I've always considered Gorillaz to be a singles band, but Plastic Beach has proved me wrong. Maybe it's the wealth of collaborations, maybe it's the concept of the album, something has just clicked this time. Maybe all future Gorillaz albums should involve Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, Bobby Womack, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Lou Reed, De La Soul and Gruff Rhys, with a bit less Damon Albarn? Don't get me wrong, I love Damon Albarn, but seeing as the best tracks on "Plastic Beach" feature guest stars, it could just work. If tracks that are as playful and layered as "White Flag", "Superfast Jellyfish" and "Rhinestone Eyes" are the future of pop, then colour me happy. The only problem with "Plastic Beach" is that after the title track, it seems to drop off a little. But that's only a minor complaint. After all, there can only be so much genius on one album.
SOUNDS LIKE: Gorillaz. Nothing else.
ESSENTIAL: "Welcome To The World Of The Plastic Beach (featuring Snoop Dogg and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble)" "White Flag (featuring Kano, Bashy and The Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music)" "Rhinestone Eyes" "Stylo (featuring Mos Def and Bobby Womack" "Superfast Jellyfish (featuring De La Soul and Gruff Rhys)", "Glitter Freeze (featuring Mark E. Smith" "Some Kind Of Nature (featuring Mark E. Smith" "On Melancholy Hill" "Plastic Beach (featuring Mick Jones and Paul Simonon"