Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Top 40 Tracks Of 2005

Tis the season for counting down and year-end-lists and here I bring you my 40 tracks added to my now defunct internet radio station in 2005:

1. Goldfrapp- Ooh La La
2. LCD Soundsystem- Disco Infiltrator
3. Soulwax- NY Excuse
4. M.I.A.- Galang
5. New Order- Guilt Is A Useless Emotion
6. Timo Maas- First Day
7. Daft Punk- Technologic
8. Ladytron- Destroy Everything You Touch
9. Moby- Where You End
10. Out Hud- How Long
11. Depeche Mode- Precious
12. Vitalic- My Friend Dario
13. Missy Elliot- Lose Control
14. The Lovemakers- Dance
15. Tiga- Louder Than A Bomb
16. Annie- Heartbeat
17. Fischerspooner- Never Win
18. Bloc Party- Banquet (Phones Disco Edit)
19. Gorillaz- Feel Good Inc
20. Kelly Osbourne- One Word
21. Röyksopp- Only This Moment
22. Juliet- Ride The Pain
23. VHS Or Beta- Night On Fire
24. The Juan MacLean- Tito’s Way
25. Chemical Brothers f/Tim Burgess- The Boxer
26. !!!- Take Ecstasy With Me
27. Gwen Stefani f/Andre 3000- Long Way To Go
28. Brazilian Girls- Lazy Lover
29. Freezepop- Smoke Machine
30. LCD Soundsystem- Tribulations
31. Audio Bullys- Shot You Down
32. Riton- Candy
33. Kylie Minogue- I Believe In You
34. The Egg- Wall
35. Beck- Ghettochip Malfunction (Hell Yes)
36. Erasure- Breathe
37. New Order- Jetstream (Richard X Remix)
38. Maxx Klaxon- Internationale 2000
39. Saint Etienne- Fascination
40. Afrika Bambaataa f/Gary Numan- Metal

Monday, December 26, 2005

Video Rundown

I have been meaning to post a few links to music videos of note and since this is merely a blog I offer these with a few thoughts:

White Stripes- The Denial Twist

Michel Gondry is a mad genius! An utterly twisted circular take on the day in a life video approach done in a single long take with a variety of bizarre lenses. Band guest on Conan, leave studio, ride in car, enter house, turn on tv, have reception problems, somber Conan comes through a magic door to fix tv and they chat about being in a video. Then the camera pans back across the set to prove how they did it. An imaginative music video for the thinking man.

Korn- Twisted Transistor

Could I care less about Korn? Yes. However this documentary-style video puts the music firmly in the backseat as this the-band-is not-the-band set up is explored with Snoop Dogg, Lil Jon, Xzibit and David Banner standing in for the regular members of the band. Of course this might be further evidence that Snoop will show up anywhere there are cameras (car commercial with a former-ceo, why not?), but director Dave Meyers tones down his glossy style and shows it’s about transistance.

Alanis Morissette- Crazy

What’s this? A glorious returns to her teen disco diva past? The rare video that really accentuates the best features of the artist. In this case, it’s Alanis’ presence and her sitting in the back of the car plays that up nicely. Of course there is the whole playing-guitars-in-the-video-when-there-are-no-guitars-in-that-part-of-the-song thing, but it doesn’t matter. Even stars like Alanis have to make sure they always "rock" even when the music says it is all about the groove.

The Killers- All These Things That I’ve Done

Director/photographer Anton Corbijn does another one of his “humorous” videos shot in his signature black & white. More evidence of Brandon Flower’s modern synthpop roots and DM fandom (see the “It No Good” video for something else in this vein), but far more watchable video than the overplayed far-too-many-pointless-edits-to-be-watched-by-the-sane “Mr Brightside” video. Besides, it’s got a great homage to the opening of “Sunset Blvd” at the beginning.

We Are Scientists- Nobody Move, Nobody Gets Hurt

Get the feeling they’ve watched the “Sabatogue” video a few times? Admitly the opening setup had me fooled since they did an intriguing live version of song on Letterman last week which left me with the impression they could pull off a straight performance video and not bore me to death (that’s saying a lot).

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Sound Of The Atom Splitting

It's release is four months away and suddenly information is leaking out about "Fundamental". just released this running order for the album:

1. God willing
2. Minimal
3. The Sodom and Gomorrah Show
4. I'm with Stupid
5. Psychological
6. I made my excuses and left
7. Integral
8. Numb
9. Luna Park
10. Casanova in Hell
11. Twentieth Century
12. Indefinite leave to remain

: and they had previously announced "Minimal" as the lead single. ArjanWrites has a link to a minute-long instrumental that claims to be from a white label of "Psychological". The sound quality leaves plenty to be desired and I'm not sure it's authentic, but we'll know for sure in a few months.

PopJustice got their hands on a promo copy and have a detailed album breakdown on their site.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Close To The Edit

At the center of the latest mash-up contoversy is a local-to-me producer. Party Ben works in the production department at a local radio station and hosts a weekly mash-up mix in addition to producing a number of amazing mash-ups over the years including Oasis vs Green Day, Beyonce vs Alphaville, U2 vs Lyrics Born, Tegan & Sara vs Mylo and Hot Hot Heat vs David Bowie. Here is a bit of from mtv's story about the cease-and-desist order given the "American Edit" site:

His name? Party Ben. And while it's not exactly the coolest or baddest nickname out there, it's the one on the lips of mash-up fans across the globe thanks to, a site he started with another masher — an Australian DJ named Team 9 — that features a track-by-track reworking of Green Day's quadruple-platinum American Idiot album...

"Originally, the goal was to point out just how similar some of the songs on American Idiot are to other rock songs. And at some points it's laugh-out-loud funny, because we're showing people how Green Day just stole some riffs," Ben said via telephone. "But there are also some tracks we did that created entirely new songs, and they're amazing. So we decided to put the entire mashed-up album online, and on November 18 we did. Unfortunately, we were e-mailed a cease-and-desist order on November 28, at which point we shut down."

: There was just a "Grey Tuesday" for the album with a dozens of sites hosting the tracks, but I missed it. Still it's good to see that Party Ben getting more attention.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Vegans In Space

Now that commercial space flight is almost a reality sci-fi fan Moby is taking an interest:

The star looks set to make history after booking a seat on via Richard Branson's 'Virgin Galactic' space flight.

After paying out $207,000 for the privilege, Moby has set the date of his outer space flight for sometime in 2010.

: Maybe he'll take the space suit from the "We Are All Made Of Stars" video.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Feel Good Inc.

Gorillaz got a fair amount of attention a few months ago by assembling all their guest stars for a series of live gigs in Manchester. It was obviously a bit out of the way for a few people and here is what PlayLouder had to say at the time:

Tonight Gorillaz not only proved themselves capable of staging a thrilling live show, but they did so in such a spectacular fashion that you soon forgot about any weaknesses or inconsistencies in the material and simply found yourself caught up in a breathless carnival of animation, guest appearances and leftfield-gospel-hip-hop-dub-pop-rock. Quite stunning.

: Thanks to the wonders of the internet you can stream the gig, or at least the backing video they used along with the performance, by way of aol. Hopefully they will release the rumored dvd of the gig and we'll be able to see all the performers and won't miss out on moments like:

...a riotous 'DARE' sees Shaun Ryder out of time, out of mind and looking worryingly like he's reading his lyrics from a monitor. All four of them. In terms of overall surrealness, however, nothing beats the sight of Ike Turner walking onstage in a sequined jacket, playing 60 seconds of piano in the middle of 'Every Planet We Reach Is Dead' and then walking off again

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Who's Your Grammy

This year's Grammy nominations are out and here's what the mainstream media forgot to mention:

Best Dance Recording
(For solo, duo, group or collaborative performances. Vocal or Instrumental. Singles or tracks only.)

The Chemical Brothers Featuring Q-Tip
The Chemical Brothers, producers; The Chemical Brothers & Steve Dub, mixers
Track from: Push The Button

Say Hello
Deep Dish
Ali "Dubfire" Shirazinia & Sharam Tayebi, producers; Deep Dish & Matt Nordstrom,

Wonderful Night
Fatboy Slim & Lateef
Fatboy Slim, producer; Simon Thornton, mixer
Track from: Palookaville

Daft Punk Is Playing At My House
LCD Soundsystem
The DFA, producers; The DFA & Andy Wallace, mixers
Track from: LCD Soundsystem
[DFA Records/Capitol Records]

I Believe In You
Kylie Minogue
Babydaddy & Jake Shears, producers; Jeremy Wheatly, mixer
Track from: Ultimate Kylie
[Capitol Records]

Guilt Is A Useless Emotion
New Order
New Order & Stuart Price, producers; New Order & Stuart Price, mixers
Track from: Waiting For The Sirens' Call
[Warner Bros. Records]

Best Electronic/Dance Album
(For vocal or instrumental albums. Albums only.)

Push The Button
The Chemical Brothers

Human After All
Daft Punk
[Virgin Records]

Fatboy Slim


LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem
[DFA Records/Capitol Records]

Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical
(A Remixer's Award. (Artists names appear in parenthesis for identification.) Singles or Tracks only.)

Fever (Adam Freeland Remix)
Adam Freeland, remixer (Sarah Vaughan)
Track from: Verve Remixed 3 (Various Artists)

Flashdance (Guetta & Garraud F*** Me I'm Famous Remix)
Joachim Garraud & David Guetta, remixers (Deep Dish)
Track from: George Is On
[Thrive Records/Deep Dish Recordings]

Mr. Brightside (Jacques Lu Cont's Thin White Duke Mix)
Jacques Lu Cont, remixer (The Killers)
[Island Records]

Superfly (Louie Vega EOL Mix)
Louie Vega, remixer (Curtis Mayfield)
Track from: Mayfield: Remixed The Curtis Mayfield Collection
[Rhino Records]

What Is Hip? (T.O.P.R.M.X.)
Meat Beat Manifesto, remixers (Tower Of Power)
Track from: What Is Hip? Remix Project Volume One (Various Artists)
[Warner Bros.]

: It amuses me that Stuart Price was nominated under his own name as producer of the "best dance recording" for his work with New Order and as Jacques Lu Cont in the remix category. Maybe they don't know it's an alias...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I Keep It Real

Digital download and streaming service Rhapsody just announced a new version of their service that works on the web browsers instead of their standard program. Here's some info from cnet's article:

RealNetworks executives hope the new version, in conjunction with a previous offer allowing people to listen to 25 songs for free, will make it easier for Web surfers to understand what a subscription music service is all about.

"Prior to downloading the software, people don't know what the experience is," said Dan Sheehan, the company's senior vice president of consumer services. "It's like the TiVo problem. Until you experience it, you don't get it."

: Amazingly the web based version of Rhapsody is so much better than the previous take on things. I went through a trial subscription last year and while it was alright with only a slight sound quality issue while streaming I had a horrible experience trying to unsubscribe. Despite my hesitation, I tried out this new version tonight and it’s easy to use and surprisingly unobtrusive. Will it change my itunes habit? Time will tell.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I've Got The Poison

Morcheeba is one of those acts who truly had it all together in the late 90s. Their debut album flirted with trip hop fans suggesting the dark electronic grooves of the Bristol sound, but during the promotion of their follow-up their revealed it was something of a disguise because it was the only way they could get signed as an electronic group interested in songwriting. Their masterpiece “Big Calm” found the group operating at a level that few bands reach; their music rooted in the tradition of great British songwriting wrapped in contemporary packaging that incorporated electronic soundscapes, light funky guitars and legit hip hop beats that went down easy. Unfortunately the band lost their way, as Pitchfork point out, having now lost almost all their charm:

After a string of increasingly flawed LPs, the enticing siren Edwards bolted, leaving the schlubby Godfrey brothers in the dust with their mediocre backing music. So how do Paul and Ross replace one of the sexiest voices of the past 10 years? They throw in former Noonday Underground singer Daisy Martey; an Angela Lansbury replacing a Marilyn Monroe.

: Now it couldn’t be that bad, could it? Click here to download their latest single and judge for yourself.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

No Respect

New Order just can't get a break in the US this week. Vh1 broadcast the recent UK Music Hall Of Fame ceremony that inducted the band over the weekend and again throughout the week. What did they cut out? Only a tribute to John Peel and New Order. While the lack of Peel is regrettable it is understandable that a tribute to a late BBC deejay might not translate across the Atlantic, but to completely ignore New Order? Totally inexcusable. The only indication that the band was even at the ceremony was Peter Hook in the background of a reaction shot of someone else. The two hours of the ceremony that vh1 broadcast included two performances from Ozzy Osbourne/Black Sabbath, an extended medley from Eurythmics, an “all star” tribute to Jimi Hendrix, and confusingly for the UK Music Hall Of Fame Canadian Alanis Morissette performing a tribute to American Bob Dylan. What the hell happened? My guess is a bizarre commitment to cross promotional efforts on behalf of mtv-networks’ no-longer-in-production “The Osbournes” and a heavy case of Boomer-ism. As Tony Blair’s appearance in the band’s introduction indicates, the Eurythmics peaked about the last time the baby boomer generation paid any attention to new music and while they were a decent singles band they have been quick to follow the winds of stylistic change to whatever friendly MOR-paths they take. Just in case we didn’t notice the generational bias of vh1’s special, we were treated to Woody Harrelson, who was 9 when the 60’s ended, presenting an award to the absent Dylan refer to him as the voice of the 60's and we later learned from a grey-haired retired rocker that when he first heard some underplayed song he felt that The Who were really talking about their generation. Fantastic. Actually, there were some good parts to the ceremony namely the brief “thank you”’s from what’s left of The Who and the emphasis on the multi-media aspects of Pink Floyd. But to completely ignore New Order (who were inducted as Joy Division/New Order) who continue to influence everyone from Interpol/Editors/She Wants Revenge to the entire electronic genre (see George Acosta’s recent “Blue Monday” cover as an example of how wide a net they cast) and give two songs to Ozzy?
Thanks to the wonders of the internet I was able to track down the band’s induction. Some of the usual suspects were interviewed in the introduction video piece namely Bobby Gillespie, Moby and Billy Corgan (wearing the same fishing hat that he wore when touring as a member of the band during the few Area: One dates back in 2001) once given time for an acceptance speech Bernard gave props to the guys fatter than him in the audience, namely Shaun Ryder and Arthur Baker, then took a swipe at the Slash’s guitar solo during the Hendrix tribute. Priceless.
Then there is New Order's latest single and the best electronic track on their new album "Guilt Is A Useless Emotion" had it's digital-only release today. Didn't notice it on itunes? In a week that essentially recycled last week’s “new releases” in the dance and electronic sections of the online store there is no mention the new remixes on the service unless you search specifically for the band.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Try A Little Harder

I recently discovered a small web-zine that has some interesting commentary from columnist Lee Wang. Ever notice that musical elitists are always so damned miserable about music? Here is some of his explanation:

...many other music listeners go through a similar travails – I’m sure – enough so that if they don’t “get” an artist, then they’ll doubt their own self-worth as a music geek. Instead, they’ll continue to torture themselves first for not being smart/cool/whatever enough to “get” Captain Beefheart or something similarly obtuse and then by continuing to listen to it in hopes of reaching that ever-elusive “Ah ha!” moment. Sometimes it’s worth it, but more often the amount of time invested in chasing “difficult” bands and albums far outweighs the miniscule amount of pleasure gained.

: I'm not the only one who occasionally reaches outside of my musical comfort zone and learns to appreciate something new, but there is something sadistic about listening to music that does nothing personally for you. Not to be too simplistic about it, but if it sounds horrible it probably is horrible. The musical elitist attitude that there is certain music that is inherently more intelligent than others fails to acknowledge that musical taste is ultimately subjective. Why else would the musical elite shift over time over stylistic issues (lo-fi vs hi-fi) and how could music that was initially critically dismissed become canonized years later after the fact? There is so much to be said for trusting your own instincts.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Rang Dang Diggedy Dang Di-Dang

Peter Hook recently opened up with some info about his current all bass side project Freebass and their need to find the right vocalist:

"I think the problem is that the three of us have such a pedigree of vocalist, that if we come out with someone that's not good we'll obviously be slated! You've got Ian Brown, bloody Bobby Gillespie, Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner) and Morrissey. Those are big shoes to fill, especially collectively," he said.

Hooky described Freebass' sound as "(sounding)like New Order with a bit of the Stone Rose and a bit of Smiths and some Northern Soul."

"Mani does the low part, Andy Rourke in the middle and I do the high bit. But it works out quite well," he said.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Disco Potential

Great news from
Pet Shop Boys have just completed their new album in a West London studio.

The album has been produced by Trevor Horn and features 10 new Tennant/Lowe songs, a short introduction (also written by Tennant/Lowe) and "Numb", a song by Diane Warren, originally recorded for the "PopArt" compilation in 2003.

Neil and Chris started writing songs for the album in January and commenced recording with Trevor Horn in May. Chris Lowe commented: "We've really enjoyed making this album with Trevor and his team and are very happy indeed with the finished result." Neil Tennant added: "We think it's a great Pet Shop Boys album and also a great Trevor Horn record."

The album is expected to be released worldwide in April 2006.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

What's That Sound?

The most recent Voltage finds Maximus laying out a thoughtful well-reasoned argument in favor of the electronic music aesthetic that simply must be read. I would go a step further and argue that the acoustic and “organic” music’s claim of better representing human experience as false. Maybe that argument held more water in days of family farming, but consider how life is spent today surrounded by technology. Computers, electronics and machines surround us and to listen to music that does not acknowledge that simply does not address a great portion of how we live out lives.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Black Sea Experience

Just saw Depeche Mode last night and things have changed a bit since I last saw them during "The Singles Tour" in the late 90's. The biggest difference is that Martin Gore has picked up some showmanship. Maybe it was the solo tour, or the tension with Dave, but he's much more rock 'n' roll than before with "dramatic" rock god guitar moves (ala Metallica) and worked the crowd a little while singing. Then there is Martin's dancing around the stage in a style that suggested a mix of tribal ceremony and raver. Quite a change from the last time I saw the group perform when he seemed impossibly shy.
Dave Gahan once again showed that he is consummate showman of the synthpop-era and worked with the crowd amazingly even if ran around the stage and flung the mic stand just a little less than before. He only failed to really get the crowd into the amount of frenzy that he wanted on two occasions not convincing the crowd to sing ever word of "Suffer Well", which I believe the only song of the night he wrote, even if the song deserved it more than most of the new material and getting no one to sing along to show's closer "Goodnight Lovers." Again this wasn't his fault. That song appears at the end of "Exciter" and so pretty much every sensible listener has shut off the disc long before that song ever plays.
Then there was Fletch. He is still Fletch, but he's toned down the clapping quite a bit, maybe the internet age brought it to his attention that it's not quite the fan favorite that he thought. He also spent lots of time apparently verifying sounds one ear to the headphones dj-style and occasionally seemed to play parts that could be identified.
The new material was something of a mixed bag. It seems that arrangements have been mixed from the album, and Ben Hillier's touch was sorely missed. While "A Pain That I'm Used To" was far stronger than I expected, it was outnumbered by the train wrecks. "Precious" was a complete mess live with the acid baseline out of place within the context of the rest of the set and losing the delicate nature of the song to the clangy arena acoustics. I'm not a big fan of "Damaged People" on the album, but it was so much worse live. I suspect Martin thinks of it as an anthem of sorts for DM fans with the "we're damaged people drawn together" line but it's way too long for the uninteresting musical content surrounding it and lyrics go on to talk about forgetting about being about being cold and crying while you are old and dying and it's just embarrassing in front of people. Maybe it's just me though, because there was a group of women singing along very loudly ever word of the song right behind me.
The gems from the band's back catalogue were clearly the highlights and any real reason for shelling out unreasonable amounts of money to see DM at this point. Whoever is did the programming this time around had really excellent instincts in direction. The "Violator"-era hits changed almost nothing sound-wise (unlike the unfortunate '93 tour that rocked-out "Enjoy The Silence" long before Linkin Park got their hands on it), but let the instrumental parts breathe enough to keep the crowd ecstatic. Then they managed to rejuvenate older staples like "Everything Counts" and "A Question Of Time" going further into dance territory than Mode would on their own driving the songs a with modern electro sound.
Overall it was interesting experience because the band has clearly grown over the years and the crowd made it apparent that I had as well. While I did see some familiar faces among the assembled throng like Alison who was the HR director at the college station I deejayed at and local synthpop royalty Claudio, it was very apparent I'm not the massive Depeche fan I was in high school. I didn't have to sing at the top of my lungs every word of every song. "Goodnight Lovers" only sounded vaguely familiar and I found myself wondering why they were playing a b-side as a final encore. Maybe I’ve become less devoted, but as the 90’s wore on the band just lost the energy and spirit that energized their earlier work. I’m glad to see that they’ve regained some of that back, but as Martin L. Gore sang on his “Counterfeit” EP you’ve got to move on sometimes. Maybe I have.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Kicking It Old School

Having just joined the UK Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, NO have tried a different gig.

This afternoon Manchester legends New Order took up that invitation and played a surprise gig for the school's pupils and the media. Bernard Sumner, the band's guitarist and singer, visited the school earlier this year and was so impressed he reportedly told Ms Triska he'd do whatever they wanted to help...
"Some of the staff have been playing New Order in the classrooms since eight o'clock this morning. It's the 30-something staff that are going mad about it. Some of the pupils say that their dads were going mad when they heard."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Semantics Won't Do

Here's a great forum post that brings to light my trouble with electronic music fans trying to sub-categorize everything:

Us here that are 30 to 40 that grew up with Progressive Dance, Razormaids, and Industrial Dance in the late 80's and early 90's would never consider bands like Depeche Mode, Celebrate The Nun, Moskwa T.V., Pet Shop Boys, Red Flag, Information Society, Erasure, Cause & Effect, Dead or Alive, When In Rome, Exotic Birds, Anything Box, T42, Cetu Javu, Tribantura, Psyche, or Peter Schilling to be Synthpop.

It was progressive dance and nothing more except electronic dance music. We'd never heard the term Synthpop back then though...

: Yet another pointless argument over genre definitions! The post went on to say that this fellow had never heard the term "synthpop" before 1994 so obviously it wasn't around until then. Maybe it just wasn't being used in Texas. Besides after all this complaining about what is what, synthpop is just an umbrella term for electronic pop. Why would you be arguing at length over it's definition in 2005?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Rejection

One of the inital signings to Warner Music Group's cd free download only label Cordless Recordings is electropop group Dangerous Muse. Their ep is interesting, full of low key synthpop that suggests they are sort of a less glitchy Junior Boys. For all the talk from Warners about promoting them I found this description:

We met in New York. We write electronic music. We're supposed to enter a bio that's 50 characters long.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Talking About Liberation

A producer who remixed The Shamen and Pet Shop Boys during the mid-90's is at the center of a lawsuit with Kanye West:

A deejay who was sued earlier this year by Kanye West to keep him from distributing some of West's unreleased songs has filed a countersuit against the rapper.

Eric "E-Smoove" Miller disputes West's contention that the two didn't have a contract. In Miller's lawsuit, he argues that West worked for and with Miller in the mid-1990s on recordings of 10 songs, including "Ho!!!" and "Stop Frontin'."

Attorneys for the Grammy-winning West claim Miller offered the songs to distributors using a fake contract with West's fake signature.

Miller's countersuit, filed Oct. 28, claims Miller co-authored the recordings and that West agreed Miller's company would own them.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

All This Running Around

Depeche Mode just announced the tracklisting of their next single "A Pain That I'm Used To" and in the process united a number of my current obsessions:

01. A Pain That I’m Used To (Jacques Lu Cont Remix) [7:51]
02. A Pain That I’m Used To (Jacques Lu Cont Dub) [8:00]
03. A Pain That I’m Used To (Goldfrapp Remix) [4:39]
04. A Pain That I’m Used To (Bitstream Spansule Mix) [7:22]
05. A Pain That I’m Used To (Telex Remix) [3:28]

: I think the song is horrible choice as a single because it works within the context of the album by setting a tone but the track doesn’t really go anywhere. As a standalone track it’s doomed to flop when it comes to radio and with anyone outside the hardcore DM fans. Still, they’ve pulled together an amazing set of remixers, including the ubiquitous Stuart Price in his Jacques Lu Cont persona, who might take the song in interesting directions (although his LRD album and "Playing The Angel" feature songs called "Damaged People" so that might have been a better song to take on) and apparently following the precedent set by “Precious” are not including an album version or radio edit of the song on a standard format of the single. It might find some takers.

Monday, November 07, 2005

All Night Operator

Goldfrapp's latest single "Number 1" ranks a respectable 9th on the UK's single chart this past week, but the real surprise is how much fuss Alison has stirred up with some straight talk when asked about Madonna:

"She's always got her eye on what everyone's doing and she's always nabbing people, the latest DJ or whatever, to get them to put their thing on her thing, you know."

The singer continued her outburst by suggesting that Madonna lacks creativity. "I think it's quite clever, but I don't know if that's creative," she said.

: Nothing controversial there to my ears; just a highlight to the different approaches to music.

Goldfrapp just teased the US with the "Number 1" EP which is something of a digest of their last two UK singles and announced a one-off live date in NYC. However, Mute has once again pushed back the US release of "Supernature" even further until March 2006. The rest of the world had the album in August! Why a record company would treat fans of a band with a cult following like this in this day and age of instant on demand internet access to music is beyond me.
Stranger yet is the report of one customer that claims Mute is blocking all orders of "Supernature" as an import. It is odd that the album is not listed on the number one consumer site on the web unless you visit the version of the site. Maybe there is something to it...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

More Than Enough

This week's Skrufff email caught my eye with this item about DJ Magazine's Top 100 Poll:

Elsewhere in the poll, No-More-Mr-Nice-Guy Brian BT Transeau took exception to the magazine's seemingly innocuous generic questions and got even angrier when quizzed about the rise of digital DJ tool Ableton.

"I have had the piss taken out of me for four years for using a laptop," BT ranted, "and now I have the honour of my superstar DJ friends calling me for tech support- constantly."

: I saw BT deejay a few years back, and I hope the guy wasn't using a laptop then. The track selection was good, if a bit heavy on long remixes of BT's own stuff, but he train-wrecked on every other transition. You don't you that you would find that from an artist who complains about poor sequencer timing and the need to manually edit each note every time he gets an interview that allows him to get technical.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Down With Price

Stuart Price is everywhere these days. Seriously. Earlier this week I was at the dentist office and found his picture in People Magazine (actually working the equipment at Madonna's recent dj gig).

Here's a link to Popjustice's energetic interview with Price, which also breaks the news that a new LRD album is in the works:
I do, yes. I mean, who can not love the Pet Shop Boys? That's the thing. They were the first ever pop act I ever listened to. All of Chris Lowe's parts… When I very first sat there with 'My First Keyboard' I was trying to work out how they did it, how they made those rhythms, how they got those sounds. I love the 'Disco' album with all the 12" mixes and I suppose it's not surprising fifteen years later that when it all pops up on the record I think 'oh, this sounds like the Pet Shop Boys.' I'm not going to try and disguise that, they're a big influence.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Say Something

I had visited Funky Mofo a couple of times before I ran into an appallingly bad review of the new Tiga single earlier this week that essentially copied the info from the website adding less insight to the quality of the material than a typical review. Curious if this was typical for the site, I browsed through their review section and found their lengthy take on Luxxury's "Drunk" EP that equally fatally flawed. The review went on (and on) addressing claims of the band's press packet, a trend for the site apparently, and in large part attempted to debunk four words of's review, most likely quoted in the press release, of the same material. The reviewer then went on to claim that "dance music has always puzzled me," that the style must require drugs to understand and that EP's are always a waste of money. Clearly they had the wrong reviewer for the job, but a look at their forum shows a statement announcing "the Funky Mofo team have experienced quite a few personal attacks, especially concerning our reviewers" so maybe it's not just this guy.
However, all this might be moot at this point because as of today the website has removed their review section. The site's front page now has a statement about the site not doing well enough financially to continue and reminds us that a "webzine isn't necessarily a 'fanzine', a webzine can be just like a normally printed magazine - it can be successful and it is possible to make a living from it." As reasonable adult I understand economics issues and completely support those who choose not to loose their own money instead of "supporting the scene" or some or other nonsense like the recent argument I read dismissing people who choose to get day jobs instead of loosing money, homes and marriages to pursue their musical dreams full time. I certainly wouldn’t be the type to add insult to injury so I wish the site the best of luck (and it’s worth pointing out I don’t believe that the offending reviews were authored by the site’s founder).

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Best Band Breakup Ever!

To borrow a phrase from Iron Maiden (by way of Maxx Klaxxon) if you're going to die, die with your boots on. Brit rockers Alfie just announced thier breakup in a blaze of bitter glory taking parting shots at Crazy Frog and announcing they had more talent in a single note of their songs than "ten thousand James Blunt albums." They topped off their final rant with this sentiment:
It's hard to keep faith that "everything'll be alright", (which has been my mantra from day one), when it feels, ultimately, like no-one's listening

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


During the promotion of "100th Window" Massive Attack announced that they would be releasing back-to-back albums within the year. That was back in 2003 and the collective's sole standing founding member Robert 3-D Del Naja is finally realizing his plans:

"Been a fertile year. Lots of new recordings and talented people been in and out of our studio which has become home now. I have been trying out new and old techniques and have come up with a new gothic soul direction.

"We have recorded vocals on about 5 tracks and have vocals to put down on at least 15 before Xmas, which is drawing horrifically close."

: In his defense he was sidetracked a bit. About a month after "100th Window" was released 3-D was charged (and later completely cleared) regarding child pornography in some strange sting that charged Pete Townshend too (also later cleared). Massive Attack recently resurfaced with the "Danny The Dog"/"Unleashed" (depending on which country you live in) soundtrack last year, but it's good to see them get down to business. The album is expected to feature some familar vocalists like Horace Andy and Liz Frazer, but I wonder how 3-D can call "gothic soul" a new direction for his music? That sounds exactly like his brand of trip hop to me.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Punk To Funk

David Byrne is writing a musical about Imelda Marcos with Fatboy Slim:

'Here Lies Love' will examine Mrs Marcos' passion for music and nightclubs. It's set to premiere in March 2006, reports the BBC.

Billed as "a timeless story with more contemporary resonances than are comfortable", it will take its bow at Australia's Adelaide Festival...

"She loved the nightlife in all parts of the world, and in New York at Studio 54, so much so that she installed a disco in her NYC townhouse," an Adelaide Festival spokesman said.

"It was a non-stop party, featuring politicians, arms dealers, financiers, artists, musicians and the international jet set."

'Here Lies Love' was the brainchild of Byrne, who has written the music with Fatboy Slim. The show will be directed by Marianne Weems, artistic director of New York ensemble The Builders' Association, as "a multimedia extravaganza".

: Byrne has been taking plenty of interest in electronic music in recent years doing vocals on "Lazy" for Xpress and writing lyrics for the recent Fischerspooner album. These moves away from the world beat sound that dominated his musical direction in the 90s couldn't come at better a time considering Byrne and Talking Heads inflence on rock-turned-dance acts like LCD Soundsystem and The Juan MacLean.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Warsaw Returns

New Order just did an all Joy Division set at the John Peel Day concert that included the first song the band wrote together. The gig is to be rebroadcast later today on Radio 1 which means it will most likely be available in their archive for the next week starting tomorrow. NewOrderOnline reports this as the setlist:

1) Transmission.
2) She's Lost Control
3) Shadowplay
4) Love Will Tear Us Apart
5) Atmosphere
6) Warsaw

: Bizzarely they were introduced by Fergeal Sharkey!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Now that it's a week before the release of "Playing The Angel" Depeche Mode reviews are starting to appear everywhere and you can even stream the album in a couple of places so the hype continues. I've given the album a few good listens and it's a solid album that has grown on me with each listen. If "Precious" wasn't indication enough, I can safely say at this point that the surefire alt-pop sense of "Violator" when even b-sides like "Sea Of Sin" & "Dangerous" sounded like hits is something the band will never regain. The album is more of a return to the mid-80's flirting with industrial and all things goth sound that they had down.
The most shocking thing I've found in the album's reviews is the fond memories critics seem to have of "Exciter." Arjan Writes refers to that album as "critically-acclaimed" and PlayLouder use "much-underrated" to describe the album I've rarely seen defended by even the most hardcore Depeche fans. I just don't get it. Ever since it's release in 2001 I've pulled "Exciter" out every six months or so to see if I missed something, but I still end up turning it off before the halfway point and despite the many second chances I've given it, it's still one of my least listen to albums that I've ever bought. There are two songs "Dream On" and "Freelove" that are fantastic, but the rest... It's not that I don't think that Mark Bell can't produce since Bjork's "Homogenic" is a fantastic album, but there is no passion and Gore admitted that he only wrote the record to appease his record company who hired a small production team to assist his writing process. The lifelessness of that album is just deadening and it's great to find that DM have found a new lease on life.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I See The Mothership Coming

I stumbled into an interesting documentary on PBS about George Clinton and the Parliament/Funkadelic empire he created that dug a bit deeper than the average VH1 special. The doc's site gives a little background and an idea of their angle:

Ultimately, Clinton morphed his core band members into multiple groups on multiple record labels, something no one had ever done. The band also created an alternate reality in which young P-Funk fans, especially African American males, could imagine themselves. George Clinton developed a mythology about “brothers” from another planet who came to liberate earth from the restrictions of Puritanical morality. It was a concept that allowed P-Funk’s fans to transcend the confines of their neighborhood and imagine themselves as citizens of a much larger universe.

: Highlights include the props given to Bernie Worrell and his pioneering use of synths for the baseline of "Flash Light", admitting that part of Clinton's continuing influence was his business sense, and interviewing Ice Cube about gangsta rap while he sits in an office. Here's a link to postage stamp-sized clip of the Mothership landing.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

You Got To Help Me Out

The Killers just let it slip that they will be working on their new album with Flood and Alan Moulder. You can take this as a sign that Brandon Flowers is following his roots in modern synthpop and working with former Depeche Mode producers or that the rest of the band was excited to work with people who have hit records all over their resumes (Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nail, U2, etc...). The band's drummer offers some thoughts that suggest they don't plan to fade into the night:

"We want to take our time with this one, make sure everything's right, we've earned the right to do that with this album, " he explained adding, "We can't wait to get back into the garage, hammer out ideas for songs, go out for dinners together, work on the new album."

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Clarke Connection

The review of Andy Bell's "Crazy" single suggests something of a competition between former Vince Clarke collaborators, specifically talking about the timing with new Depeche Mode album, and I think it might be on to something. While I think Clarke is busy doing a one-off single with Larry Tee or something to that effect (my memory is a bit fuzzy at the moment) there are a shocking number of releases from Clarke collaborators arriving within a couple months of each other. Chances are you may have heard of the Andy Bell and Depeche Mode albums out this month, but September also saw new material from Martyn Ware, who has done a couple of experimental albums with Vince, in the form of Heaven 17's "Before/After." Yazoo/Yaz collaborator Alison Moyet's "Voice" album just arrived in the US last month and she's got a new live DVD out in the UK and that covers everyone Clarke has done albums with. What's next? New material from Paul Quinn and Feargal Sharkey?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

It's There

Damon Album has revealed the secret to breaking through in the US:

"We wouldn't be as successful as we are in America if we weren't a cartoon band," he declared. "You can't be white and from London and produce hip hop - it's illegal actually, in America."

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

This One Time At Band Camp

In quite possibly the coolest high school band footage ever recorded, a percussion group out of Minnetonka High School in Minneapolis has done live versions "Building Steam with a Grain of Salt" and "Changeling" originally found on DJ Shadow's influential sample driven "Entroducing" album. It's fantastically professional and remarkably close to the originals. A good write-up that I found by way of the newsletter explains all the details at Music Thing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The End Of Sampling?

I ran across this op-ed piece on winamp (not my usual source for news) and given it's subject matter I now offer a sample:

On Tuesday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati turned the playing field for digital sampling completely upside-down. The court ruled quite simply that any and all samples used must paid for, even if they sound completely different from their original. Previously, if a digital sample wasn't identifiable from it's original it was perfectly legal.
The court stated that the recent federal laws aimed at stopping piracy of recordings applied directly to digital sampling also, slapping any and all artists who use samples in their works in the face with the very laws some of them fought for.

With the new rules and current state of the industry (greed), many speculate that if this ruling existed before many classic hip-hop albums such as Paul's Boutique from the Beastie Boys would quite simply be too difficult to get proper licensing for to release.

: I think the article is a bit dramatic, not to mention less than hard news with the whole "current state of the industry (greed)" line but I've been frustrated by only finding one other article on this ruling. Not being a lawyer I tend to believe this isn't the final word on the subject, but I hope it isn't since much of the last decades innovations in music haved used sampling to at least some degree. Why take that tool away from artists?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Grab All They Can

The itunes Depeche Mode ticket pre-sale was this past weekend and from a few fans online I detect an air of dissatisfaction:

I droped $86 per ticket and I got crapy seats.

...Ticketmaster screwed me on my first try
At 10:00AM I logged on to the site and purchased 2 tickets for any price and best available. Well I got lower level and on the side of the stage so I purchased them cause I thought ok maybe that's the best I could do. So then for kicks I did it again just to see what would happen and 2 tix for the main floor appeared and I was like what the F is this and bought those as well so I basically have 4 tickets and only need 2. Thats $340 for 4 tickets

Still not everyone is unhappy:

Our local alternative radio station had pre-sale tix go out two days after iTunes. And they weren't nearly as good. And when regular tix went on sale today, they were about as good as the radio pre-sale. iTunes had the best seats!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Despite my occasional need to dust off "New Gold Dream" from time to time (Rhino's "Just Can't Get Enough" New Wave compilation series is a great investment) I've never been interested in hearing anything from Simple Minds that I didn't hear on the radio frequently. Things don't look to be changing anytime soon with their new album that seems to have stalled on liftoff with critics according to the couple of less than enthusiastic reviews I've read. I was horribly amused with take on the found at review compilation site Musicfolio:

"'You love The Killers! You love Bloc Party!' shriek the marketing men, 'Now hear the band that started it all - Simple Minds.' To be fair, that's not too far off the mark and doesn't require a massive leap of imagination. Trouble is, despite their protestations to the contrary, the 2005 incarnation of Simple Minds doesn't stand up particularly well to the band in its mid-1908s pomp.

: Damn, I love typos. Like much of what is posted on musicfolio the review isn't exclusive to the site and appears to be transcribed from a local paper in England so one assumes there was a slip up along the way. Maybe I'm just older than I remember...

Since I'm taking pot shots at bands here's a review I stumbled into:

If fans of the Killers are awaiting a B-sides compilation, they need only pick up the debut from a less-threatening gang of nu-wave rockers: NYC's the Bravery. Not just for the similar, goth-inflected atmospheres, but also because the best Bravery song would make a so-so Killers bonus track

: I'm beginning to suspect that ArjanWrites isn't the only person with a Killers obsession.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Words Left Unspoken

At the risk of turning this into a single subject blog, I think it's worth noting that the video for Depeche Mode's "Precious" has been released through legitimate channels. The unfinished version of the video was part of the original leak of the song a couple of months ago, and was intriguing to see an unfinished project with storyboards and unfinished special effects shots edited together that left it looking like the "Take On Me" video. The finished version is better than the standard Mute done on the cheap computer animation promo that the rough cut had the potential to end up and it'a worth a look despite the shot of guitar when I can't hear any guitar in the song if only to see that Martin still rocks the black nail polish.
This is coming late given that "Precious" has been out for a while, but here is a post of mine to a forum that failed to generate any response. Since the initial leak, I've heard raves about the song and most of it revolves around the band returning to synthpop and all sorts of takes on it(the most memorable comment, "lyrically, the song is basically a re-write of the DHL terms and conditions of service"). With much of the press around the new album centering around the songwriting clash between Dave & Martin I've come around to the idea that the current direction owes more to Andy. I've never really thought he had a role in the band apart from clapping his hands at concerts, but if you compare the sound of "Precious" with the Client albums that he released on his label I don't think there is too much of a difference especially when you listen to where Dave & Martin were sonically on their solo albums.
Beyond that I find it interesting that they are moving away from the tradition of releasing the “non-DM sounding” single first on this album. “Precious” really does scream Depeche Mode but going back “Personal Jesus,” “I Feel You” and “Barrel Of A Gun” were all the most “rock” tracks on their albums and even “Dream On” marked a different sound than the band is typically associated with. Usually it is the second single like “It’s No Good” and “I Feel Loved” that fans take as the DM sound and I find it interesting that they broke with that tradition.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Grabbing Hands

These days it's strange to remember that one of Depeche Mode's earliest staples, which became the name of Martin Gore's publishing company, was a song condemning greed in the music business. Over the past few years there have been high priced cd singles box-sets, an album ("Exciter") written because of pressure from the record company and a confused remix album that required shelling out extra for the "limited edition" if one was interested in more than a couple of current remixes and even more for import singles and online exclusives to complete that collection of new remixes. Now the latest from
Los Angeles, CA - September 12, 2005 - Depeche Mode has teamed with Ticketmaster for the first-ever digital download, concert ticket pre-sale, scheduled to begin tomorrow on the iTunes Music Store.

Beginning Tues., Sept. 13 through Mon., Sept. 26, Depeche Mode fans who visit iTunes Music Store in the US and pre-order the band's new album will receive a password for the chance to purchase up to four tickets from for select dates on the band's 2005 North American tour. The pre-sale offers Depeche Mode fans the chance to access priority concert seating before tickets go on sale to the general public beginning Sept. 24. Fans who pre-order Playing the Angel from iTunes will receive the album via digital download when it is released on Oct. 18 on Sire / Reprise Records.

Additional information about Depeche Mode's digital download concert ticket pre-sale is available on the band's official Web site at, at, and at the iTunes Music Store at Ticketmaster's Internet pre-sales for Depeche Mode begin Sept. 20 at 10 AM (local) and pre-sale dates vary by market. Touring the Angel, Depeche Mode's first North American concert tour in four years kicks off Nov. 2 in Ft. Lauderdale at Office Depot Center. Depeche Mode's Playing the Angel album is scheduled for release on Oct. 18 in North America on Sire / Reprise Records.

"Depeche Mode always delivers for its fans," said Ticketmaster's David Goldberg. "Packaging event tickets with music makes sense and Depeche Mode's decision to do it digitally with iTunes is a great win for the band's fans."

: I don't know if you caught that, but the itunes pre-order goes live the day the album is out in stores. There is no incentive to buy the digital album (which I believe is marked up from the average $9.99 itunes album price) except for the promise of getting early tickets to live shows. DM do a great live show, but one would think if they were really interested in what really "delivers for its fans" they would do what many bands do in the internet age and offer pre-sales to people registered on their site or signed up for their mailing list. The sad thing is that I've seen some fans on forums who actually paid extra for a similar promotion a couple of tours ago who ended up only able to buy worse seats than what was available once tickets were on sale to the general public. Talk about "a great win for the band's fans."

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Let's Push Things Forward

Now that we're at the halfway point of the decade Live 105 just did a countdown over the weekend of their most popular tracks of the decade so far, and even did a mini-countdown on their electronic music show. Here is that list (which excludes 2005, too hard to tally?):

10] Felix Da Housecat Silver Screen (Shower Scene) #3 record in 2002
09] Storm Time To Burn #5 record in 2000
08] LCD Soundsystem Yeah #3 record in 2004
07] Fischerspooner Emerge #1 record in 2002
06] Freeland We Want Your Soul #1 record in 2003
05] Basement Jaxx Where's Your Head At? #3 record in 2001
04] Kernkraft 400 Zombie Nation #4 record in 2000
03] The Streets Let's Push Things Forward #2 record in 2002
02] Darude Sandstorm #1 record in 2000
01] The Avalanches Frontier Psychologist #1 record in 2001

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

From Sierra Leone

My wife and I took our daughter up to "free day" at the aquarium in San Francisco so she could have her first look at exotic fish. Since we were just across the street from the Moscone Center I wasn't too surprised to see a small army of satellite trucks nearby. On my way back to the car the guy behind me was talking nonsense about how he created events with Kayne West in some attempt to impress whoever he was with. It wasn’t until later in the day that I saw on the new that Apple had announced their new cell phone ipod from that very spot and that they beamed Madonna in by satellite and that Kayne West did a live performance. Maybe I misjudged the guy behind me.
While Apple's phone seems somewhat in the primitive stages, it is the direction that I've thought mp3 players would go and it's here sooner than the five year time line I initially laid out a couple of years ago. Expect music playback to be a standard feature soon and that’s a great thing.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Broken Ear Record

I wish had been at the initial listening session for the Astralwerks team charged with marketing the new Black Dice album. On paper, you think you’ve got something exciting here. You’re licensing this from a hip label, DFA, with underground credibility as tastemakers that is beginning to bubble over into mainstream recognition. While you don’t have the rights to the label’s hottest act, LCD Soundsystem, you’ve still folks like PlayLouder drooling over everything the label touches, and The Juan Maclean album that was your last project wasn’t an easy record but it’s a quality release with a couple of potential singles that are sure to drill their way into listeners heads. Then you sit in a room and someone starts Black Dice’s “Broken Ear Record.“ It starts out a little inaccessible. Nothing wrong with that, it’s art and sometimes you’ve got to work a bit to reap the rewards. Besides, you’re only one track in. Time passes and a glance at the clock reveals you’ve been sitting here for half an hour and you start to get a little queasy because you still haven’t found an angle or a even a song that sounds as if it’s worthy of a second listen. You’re down to the last two tracks and the best must still to come. Is that the sound of bicycles mixed with honking geese? Then the album comes to a close with a track that is full of treated barking samples. A dog of an album? To say the least. In the words of PlayLouder, "You have to be in a very certain state of ear and mind to really appreciate Black Dice." How do you handle the situation? Play up the “hottest label on the planet” DFA connection, talk up the band’s live shows and try like hell to pretend they are innovative. It’s not an easy task, but I applaud the label for giving it a try.
Speaking of Astralwerks, why is it that I can’t just type in to bring up their site? I’ve been visiting their site for years and it’s the only place on the internet that I still have to type a www before the address. The label also need to stop dragging their heels and release more of their material on itunes. They must have a absolute fear of downloads replacing cd sales, because almost nothing on the label gets an immediate digital release and when it does it’s often with qualifiers about which tracks you can download without buying the whole album. It’s frustrating to say the least and all the much more when I can’t find some physical releases locally when their out (admittedly that might have something to do with my local Tower records being flaky). Keep in mind I only hate because I love.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Making Me Sweat Now

This week's top 10 singles in the UK:

1. Gorillaz – ‘Dare’
2. Rihanna – ‘Pon De Replay’
3. Daniel Powter – ‘Bad Day’
4. Jessica Simpson – ‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin’
5. Oasis – ‘The Importance Of Being Idle’
6. Simon Webbe – ‘Lay Your Hands’
7. Black Eyed Peas – ‘Don’t Lie’
8. David Gray – ‘The One I Love’
9. Les Rythmes Digitales – ‘Jacques Your Body (Make ME Sweat)’
10. James Blunt – ‘You’re Beautiful’

: What is LRD’s “Jacques Your Body” doing as a top 10 single in 2005? The song was on Stuart Price’s pre-millennial “Darkdancer” album and a little research reveals that the song is being re-released because it has been featured in a “dancing robot tv ad” and has a new stunt-filled video. By my count this is the third time the song has been released as a single, most recently in 1999 when the song was “featured in the Sunny Delight new basketball ad.” Regardless I have a feeling this is the song’s highest charting which shows if you put quality product out there often enough you can sell some records. Not too bad for a song I started playing in my college radio days when it was first on the Wall Of Sound label's "Bustin Loose" compilation. Back in 1998.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Finally Down From That Hill

There is news of the welcome return of a voice that has been silent for far too long:

Singer Kate Bush will release her first album in 12 years in November - a double album entitled Aerial.

The 47-year-old performer's last album, The Red Shoes, reached number two in the UK album chart in 1993.

Her last public appearance was in 2001, when she received Q magazine's "classic songwriter" award in London.

: The new material is rumored to be in part inspired by Goldfrapp, but I don't know how much credence to give that since Bush is known for her self production and sounding exactly like herself. Of course it could be she is coming out of her musical seclusion to make the ten year wait between the last two Peter Gabriel albums seem short.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

It's What You Play That Counts

I'm told that the August issue of Guitar Player magazine has an interview with Bernard and Phil of New Order (well Phil‘s sort of like the stock replacement guitar player who is filling in while Gillian is out of the band, but you get the idea). It’s an interesting interview that cuts to the meat of what I want to read in interviews with artists- the creative process. In particular, Bernard talks about writing and how "in the past we’ve had our fingers burnt" led to their current approach to producers. Here’s my condensed version of the interview:

BS: See, we write songs two ways. One way is me sitting in front of a computer with a guitar or a synth and constructing a track brick-by-brick. The other way is getting myself, Hookey [bassist Peter Hook], and our drummer Stephen together in a room and jamming. In that scenario, we would typically come up with three solid ideas, and then I would go off and write melodies and lyrics for those ideas. The problem with that way of working, however, was that when I left, the whole writing process came to a halt, because there wasn’t a guitarist around. But this time, when I left, Phil was there, and they could continue on.

Phil, you’ve worked with both Johnny Marr and Bernard. How different are their respective attitudes toward the instrument?
Cunningham: Totally different. Johnny is “Mr. Guitar.” You go to his studio, and he has books on the history of guitar, and a spare room full of every guitar you could possibly name. He’s obsessed with all things guitar. Bernard, on the other hand, has two guitars, and he uses them strictly as song generators.

Bernard, how would you describe your guitar style?
Sumner: I just try to keep what I do very basic, but I make sure that what I do is good basic. I’m not a virtuoso. For me, the guitar is simply a tool to make a track exciting because it’s a very punk instrument.

Yeah. I’m no more accomplished on the instrument than I was in 1979. I reached a level long ago where I was good enough to write songs, and I like to keep it that way. I’m not a big fan of virtuosity, because it’s not how you play that counts, it’s what you play—right? If you read a book, for instance, you don’t look at the typography, or how well laid out it is, you focus on the story. Also, I feel there’s something to be said for playing guitar with your brain, not just your hands. If you’re not amazingly articulate from practicing scales every day for five hours, there’s a certain crudeness to what you do. But you make up for that by using your imagination.

: Bernard doesn’t usually bring up the “me sitting in front of a computer” but equally interesting is the effect this may have had on NO’s song structures over the years. In most of the band’s songs the vocals are rarely central, and instead of the standard verse-chorus-verse approach many of their songs go back into further instrumental passages after the vocals wrap up and this might have come about from the Gillian days when she would add some extra melodic synth components while Bernard went off to write lyrics.

Oh, the NO “Singles’ album looks like it really is going to happen later this year. No word yet about a US release.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

More Homework?

Soulwax just announced a remix album of their recent material and since they employ the services of the finest remixers in the world I am interested. Besides, it's got their cover of Daft Punk's "Teachers" on it (I will always regret not asking Luke Slater, who I interviewed for a video show I was working on a few years ago, how it felt to be included on DP's list) so what's not to like about that?:

’Nite Versions’ features brand new interpretations of tracks inspired by and taken from the band’s last LP ’Any Minute Now’.

The songs have been expanded and extended to make them work on the 12” format – an idea following in the footsteps of Talking Heads, The Human League and New Order.

The full ’Nite Versions’ tracklisting is:

‘Miserable Girl’
‘E Talking’
‘Accidents And Compliments’
‘I Love Techno’
‘NY Lipps’
‘Another Excuse’

: I wonder if this is why The DFA's take on "NY Excuse" was pulled off itunes in the past couple of weeks. These disappearing songs on itunes are testing the limits of my already fragile hold on sanity.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

E Talking

Forging ahead into the future of 1999, just consider smaller labels have been doing the same thing with releases that are likely not profitable to press for some time, Warner Brothers just announced a new "e-label":
Warner chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr said: “Our most important job is to work with artists and help them hone their craft.”

Bronfman said that too many young artists were being dropped when their first albums did not sell enough copies.

He explained: “While the old system allowed an artist time to develop and grow, today's business is such that an initial commercial failure for most artists means they no longer get a second chance."

While I'm pleased that the majors are looking for new ways of funding artist development I am puzzled why it's "today's business" environment that is to blame. I remember reading articles in the late 90's in Rolling Stone and Spin about the major label's movement away from traditional artist development towards picking up bands that already had achieved local radio hits and other situations where they signed bands to release a specific song. It's not like the one hit wonders haven't always existed, but the music industry is foolish if they don't realize they own the lion's share of the blame for the commercial climate of the music business today.

I also read another article about the same announcement where they mentioned the bottom line response of big labels to government policies (like the recent Supreme Court ruling that allowed the Betamax doctrine to stand):
"We like government levies when they benefit us," Bronfman said. "I would like none of the legislators in France, for instance, to say they should no longer pay us a levy for all the blank CDs that are being sold, (though) it doesn't make up for the revenue that we're losing...If the government mandated filtering technologies, we'd be delighted."

: Remember, it’s their most important job to help artists…

Saturday, August 20, 2005


I knew things had been taken to the next level for Gwen Stefani’s solo career when a fifty-something co-worker exclaimed she loved that song when “Hollaback Girl” came on the radio a few days ago. Having just announced a second Bay Area arena show and a fourth single that is all over the airwaves could there be any doubt that Gwen Stefani posses a killer pop instincts? She was on to something when she began positioning herself as hip hop savvy new waver a couple of No Doubt albums ago when they hired Hype “Directed Every Hit Hip Hop Video For Five Years’ Williams to create the clip for “Ex-Girlfriend” and then she began moonlighting from the band to work on Eve’s big hit “Let Me Blow Ya Mind.” Now she’s cashing in with her genre-hopping album, and it’s not like she didn’t have a plan when her record company funded her working with top producers:

"I knew it was an easy, upbeat album, that even if you hated me you couldn't help but like some of the songs, because they were meant to be these addictive songs.
That was the goal, to make a record where picking the singles would be a big issue because every song could be a single."
The fourth single, Cool, has been chosen by Stefani to show the more laidback aspects of the record. She also wants her New Order pastiche, The Real Thing, to be a single.

: Of course the problem here is that releasing “The Real Thing” would end Stefani’s string of hit singles, so I don’t see it happening. Besides, both Andre 3000 tracks are better tracks with more radio potential. Stefani also spoke a bit about her follow up album that is expected before the years end:

She's compiling the best of the unreleased songs and has plans to release them as a companion album at Christmas. One song, Wonderful Life for Him, features Depeche Mode's Martin Gore on guitar. It's especially poignant, as the song was written about the first boy Stefani ever kissed, who has since died.
"He was a huge Depeche Mode fan," she says. "He actually turned me onto them. I was really into Madness. I was, like, 'Depeche Mode? That's electronic weirdo music'. My friend would not believe Martin Gore is playing on this song I wrote him."

: She’s been talking about that Gore song for over a year now (when she originally began promoting the album months before it was finished), and her story has tweaked a little bit. I recall her first talking about being into dance pop music, not Madness, before this old boyfriend. I’m sure she just got confused about her past after the hundreds on interviews she’s done. Something about the subject matter and how it didn’t make the first album’s cut tell me that it’s probably not the most upbeat and radio-friendly song.
What really impresses me is the order that Stefani has released the album’s single so far. I can’t think of another example of an album that released tracks #1-#4 as singles in the order they appear on the cd. The closest I can think of is New Order’s “Republic” did use the first four tracks, but changed the order up.
And it’s also worth mentioning that Stefani, while sticking with arena support standby’s Black Eye Peas for the first local arena show, is still taking chances. Somewhat controversial electro-dancehall-something star M.I.A. will be opening for Stefani later on her tour. Maybe she’s the person who decided to take The Faint to open large venues with No Doubt before most hipsters knew who The Faint was? That would be bananas.

Friday, August 19, 2005

You're My Greatest Hit

They disbanded three years ago and only managed to release two albums in their career, but Leftfield are putting out a greatest hits album:

’A Final Hit’ will feature their early hard-to-find 12” releases ’Not Forgotten’ and ’More Than I Know’ alongside their hits, including Open Up’ which features John Lydon.

Bandmember Neil Barnes said: “I had never sat down and listened to the music that spanned our career in this way before. The essence of Leftfield was to simply make exciting music, push back some boundaries, and to take creative steps forward. We had some great fun on the way.”

: This begs the question of whatever happened to the duo. I thought they both planned solo careers and my internet searching powers have come up empty on any information about what they are up to these days. In any case it's a shame there won't be new tracks on the compilation because the band did stay together another three years after their final album.

Then there’s the rumor that New Order are releasing another greatest hits album later this year. Not a good move. “Best Of?” felt a bit rushed given there were only two albums after “Substance” but it wasn’t a bad thing. I never picked up 2003‘s “International” which came out only one album after “Get Ready” and this new compilation would is following right on it’s heels. One would think this might drain some good will from fans looking forward to the possibility of a completely new album from NO next year (assuming the band have been truthful in this years interviews). Bah.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Electro Distortion

Side-Line just reviewed the new version of Miss Kittin's "I Com" which appears to package the US only "Mixing Me" EP with the original album, and their review highlights the problems of writing about minimal techno:
I’ve been seduced by the acid-groovy Abe Duque remix of “Requiem for a hit” and the groovy 80s dance “Original” version of “Soundtrack of now”.

: The big problem here is that both tracks mine the same acid techno sound, but the description would lead you to believe that "Soundtrack Of Now" somehow sounds more dated than the remix which just isn't the case. I addressed the same tracks in my own review of "Mixing Me" by attempting to avoid super broad generalizations like "80s" but even then I'm not sure I painted a strong enough picture of the music. Rock and pop critics have it so easy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Can't Fight

The official Pet Shop Boys site has been fairly quiet about their "Battleship Potemkin" soundtrack that is due out in early September, except in the US (where we still don't have 2003's "PopArt" collection). What they do mention is that the album is an EMI Classics and Parlophone co-release, and that a DVD version of the film with the soundtrack might be released in the future but they are currently having difficulty obtaining the rights (only slightly ironic given the film's celebration of Russia's communist roots). So far there has been no confirmation to outside reports that "No Time For Tears" will be getting a single release or really much of anything which leads me to believe that they have fairly low expectations for the release (well, what could you expect from a mostly instrumental soundtrack to a 1920's silent film).
However, the site is already pushing their next album:

Neil and Chris are currently working on a new batch of four songs for their next album with producer Trevor Horn, making a total of nine tracks. The latest four are described as "more electro--pop" than the first "epic" five Horn has produced. The Diane Warren composition, "Numb", originally recorded for the "PopArt" compilation and produced by Trevor Horn, will also feature on the new album to be released in Spring, 2006.

: Of course the new album should be fantastic given PSB's recent rebound with "Disco 3" and the new "PopArt" singles. Still Warren's involvement is puzzling. What's the woman who wrote "Because You Loved Me", "Un-Break My Heart" and "How Can We Be Lovers" doing with these people who's music I love? I think the answer lies in Leann Rimes who recorded Warren's "Can't Fight The Moonlight"* with Horn for the "Coyote Ugly" soundtrack.

Now for snippet of discussion taken from the Boys fan magazine "Literally" captured during their XFM session last year:

Waiting, they discuss whether there is any possibility that the film Love Actually could be worth seeing.
"I met someone who saw Love Actually yesterday who said it made them want to leave the cinema and hug someone."
"Oooh," says Chris. "Was this someone who also liked Dido?"
"I think it was," Neil concedes.

* Doing a bit of research I found that someone claiming to be Saint Etienne recorded a euro cover of "Can't Stop The Moonlight" a few years ago. I haven't been confirm it outside artistdirect apart from discogs (and it's on a different label than the rest of their material), so maybe they got it wrong this time...

Sunday, August 14, 2005

All You Do Is Talk Talk

Thanks to Live 105's "Coldplay Weekend" I had a chance to hear the much-debated-on-electronic-music-forums "Talk" several times. Essentially there was an odd amount of fuss a few months ago over the adopting the synth melody from Kraftwerk's "Computer World" into a repeated guitar solo in the Coldplay song. The amount of debate the song received surprised me considering the amount of sampling pioneered by Kraftwerk themselves (although usually in a modernist context as opposed to the post-modern referencing point that sampling is often used as today) and in the electronic scene in general. Regardless of whatever pointless controversy surrounds the song it is heartening to see how well the “Computer World” melody translates into an arena rock guitar line. If nothing else it speaks to the timelessness of Kraftwerk, and their continuing influence on so much of today’s music.

I found this at cute story at Contact Music regarding how Coldplay obtained permission to use the riff:

But he was only able to obtain the riff by writing to frontman RALF HUTTER and begging him to let Coldplay use it.

He admits, "The only thing I could think of was the pen pal letters I learnt in German lessons at school. I had no idea if they knew who Coldplay were so had to explain myself like a 15 year-old school-boy.

"Dear Ralf, I sing in a band called Coldplay, blah, blah. I drew a little picture. Everyone says it's extraordinary that they said yes.'

Compare clips: Kraftwerk, Coldplay

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Louder Than A Bomb

NME reports that Tiga has a new single out this October that is produced by Soulwax and features Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters on vocals. The song sounds highly promising because Tiga is fantastic (even if he does too many covers and not enough original material), SS's are one of my faves and Soulwax's "NY Excuse" is my anthem right now (yes, it's good enough for what I pay). Of course I also like the Tiga & Shear's previous collaboration, covering "Hot In Herre" and Tiga remix of "Comfortably Numb" is top notch as well. What I really hope is this signals that Tiga is finally releasing a proper (non-dj-mix) album. The guy's been at the edges of electro scene for years and just keeps teasing us with singles. It's time to shows us the goods Tiga.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Simply Berzerk

Stephan Groth, the man behind Apoptygma Berzerk has a history of changing up his musical styles at least a bit, but his new single has really thrown me for a loop. The last time we saw Apop they were headed out of a traditional ebm sound towards something with a synthpop vibe, and around the same time he also went somewhat electroclash with his Fairlight Children project (taking a cue from the Leeb/Fulber tradition of changing names when not creating specifically “scary” music). While I don’t dislike Groth, his music has never particularly appealed to me so I’ve dragged my feet in sampling something from his new album. What a surprise it was to hear the new rock direction he took with “In This Direction.” Not only does he sport some sort of tracksuit looking jacket in the video, but the music is like Stabbing Westward doing some sort of Bon Jovi/Van Halen cover. It just does not work musically because it, or anything else with a 80's pop metal vibe, just shouldn't and to make matters worse the video is annoying as well (with an ending that is definition of unclever).

Monday, August 08, 2005

Wrong Number

Having just changed their live lineup about a month before playing Live8, it looks as if The Cure have a new album on the way. NME recently spoke to Robert "Fat Bob" Smith at a festival in Spain where he revealed some details:

“We want to start recording in October/November and get it out by birthday next year, which I know is quite cheesy.”

Smith turns 47 on April 21 2006.

The star also revealed he intends to work with former Siouxsie And The Banshees colleague Steve Severin on new material.

Smith added: "I'm not sure though. We might kill each other!"

: If working with a Banshee wasn't excitement enough for you, then you have to see this bit of background from the NME story:

The band were thought to have split, but returned with an eponymous and critically acclaimed album in 2004, eight years after 1996’s ’Wild Mood Swings’.

: It appears "Bloodflowers" was never released. See what happens when you release an album without a song that is worth being a single.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Misguided Focus

If you've even flipped past cable news in the past few months you know the inappropriate amount of airtime a certain news story has received and how it has been:

twisting traditional notions of news judgment and becoming Exhibit A in the media's fascination with missing people - as long as they happen to be young, white, female and pretty.

: I was pleased to see a story examining the lack of actual news value of the coverage, and unhappy to hear that it appears to be catalyst for Greta Van Susteren's recent ratings victories. In the big picture Van Susteren's focus is completely misplaced:

With war and terrorism in the news, critics wonder how one missing person case can so dominate a news program. Even on the night President Bush nominated John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court, "On the Record" spent far more time on Holloway.

Her name came up 178 times during a computer search of "On the Record" transcripts from the past two months, only seven times for the same period on Keith Olbermann's "Countdown" on MSNBC. The count was 434 times for Fox's three prime-time news shows; 50 for CNN's.

: Now compare the number of people effected by this story with, say the London bombings which have changed speech laws in the UK and prompted random bad searches in the New York subway. Or consider the decades of influence that Roberts' could have if he reaches the Supreme Court. It's just mind boggling that involving one person could deserve so much attention given that no one watching will likely have any effect on the case since it's taken place in another country. The sad thing is that Van Susteren has nothing on Nancy Grace (who never met a person who wasn't guilty). TV news can be a scary place.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Special Cases

It’s official. Sinead O'Connor is leaving behind her most recent retirement, announced in 2003, to release something of a sequel to her cover album “Am I Not Your Girl?”:

Her new album, 'Throw Down Your Arms', will be released on October 3.

Recorded in two weeks, the record is made up of tracks which have “inspired Sinead in her life and work for the past fifteen years”.

Even though much of her music is outside of my immediate musical passions I’ve long considered Sinead to be one of Our Great Voices and it’s been a sad watching her once promising career sink into public indifference. Still I don’t know how much to expect from this new album because it seems to be mostly takes on reggae songs which isn’t something I would expect from Sinead, but I’m willing to give it a chance. At least it’s a move away from the unfortunate 90’s Celtic revival that she was lumped into (not that she’s directly to blame for Lord Of The Dance or Enya-mania but you get the idea).

Perhaps more promising is Sinead’s recently released collection of her Collaborations. My favorite material from her usually includes electronics, like “I Am Stretched On Your Grave”, and this album delivers tracks with Massive Attack, Jah Wobble‘s Invaders of the Heart, Conjure One, Bomb The Bass and Moby providing the music.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

If Madonna Calls

The new Madonna album is expected out in a few months and at least the lead single is produced by one of my favorites:

’Hung Up’ will be the first track to be lifted from the forthcoming LP ’Confessions On A Dancefloor’, which is expected this autumn.

According to, the song was produced by Stuart Price aka Jacques Lu Cont, who is currently in Los Angeles mixing the album with the singer.

: It's about time Madonna let Price loose in the studio since he has worked with her on recent tours and co-wrote a song that, under the direction of rival(?) producer Mirwais, was mysteriously featured in an unplugged version on "American Life." It could be that Madge may just now realizing what a talent he is since he has been just about everywhere in the past year producing New Order and Juliet as he continues working his magic remixing Gwen Stefani and Fischerspooner with versions that are superior to the originals. Have I sold out my "alternative/electro/underground" side with the hope that it will turn out better than NO's "Jetstream"?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Something I Can Never Have

Thanks to TVT Records financial troubles you can own the rights to NIN's first album. Details from the MTV Europe site:

‘Pretty Hate Machine' is part of an overall biddable package that also includes the rights to the Television's ‘Greatest Hits' compilations and the ‘Mortal Kombat' movie soundtracks. In addition, the highest bidder will be able to collect a percentage on future sales of Nine Inch Nails' other TVT-related releases, including ‘Broken', ‘Fixed', 'The Downward Spiral' and ‘Further Down the Spiral'.

: Reznor spent years complaining about his treatment at TVT and even blamed it for silencing NIN before he released "Broken" (in retrospect the three year gap between releases was rather quick by NIN standards) so it would be interesting to see if he attempts to join a party making a bid.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Download USA

The move towards UK style festivals in the US in the wake of the success of events like Coachella continues with the announcement of the Download Festival making it's first American appearance:

The Killers will headline the first U.S. edition of the U.K.'s successful Download Festival, has learned. The event will be held Oct. 8 at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Calif., and will also boast performances by Modest Mouse, the Arcade Fire, Doves, H.I.M. and Mindless Self Indulgence.

Like the U.K. version of the event, which drew 150,000 people this year to London's Donnington Park, the U.S. edition will offer cutting-edge technology and media experiences.

: The festival is actually just about a fifteen minute drive away for me since the Shoreline is located on the backyard of Google's offices just down the way on the San Francisco Peninsula, but they have to sweeten the deal a bit more before I'll shell out as much as they are charging. Don't get me wrong, I'd like to see The Killers and Doves but they've both been through town at much smaller venues that charged less in the past year.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


NME report that Prodigy expect to have a new studio album out in 2006:

Despite the huge gap between 1997’s ‘The Fat Of The Land’ and last year’s ‘Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned’, Liam Howlett said a new studio album will be out by the end of next year.

He said: “Now we’re back together as three people, being on the road is a good place to write music. I write on my laptop, so we’ve been playing new tracks.”

He added: “We were going to put loads of new tracks on the best of but we thought that some of the tracks deserve to be part of the new album. They’ll take a few more
months to get right, but we’re thinking end of next year.”

: As always is the case with Howlett it is best to take this news with a grain of salt because Howlett's attempts at putting a timetable on his own creative output are rarely accurate with the predicted 2002 release of "Always Outnumbered" being just one example. Hopefully this burst of creative energy means Howlett's in a more inspired place than he was on the last album.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


The new DM single was leaked to the internet today, and at least one source thinks it's part of a damage control campaign since so many Depeche fan still have a bad taste from the disappointing "Exciter." The story from Side-Line:

The new single from Depeche Mode, "Precious", is out on the online streets. Since last night the track and an unedited version of the video have quickly spread in the close circle of Depeche Mode fans worldwide. Side-Line contacted one of the maintainers of a server offering the track late yesterday evening, he told Side-Line: "So far we have had over 11.000 requests for the track and it looks like it is going up very fast every minute." Asked where the track got leaked from, he said: "All looks like the leaks came from people from the band's label seeing the quality of the leaked material, especially the video. And if there was any doubt, the speed of how this download got 'known' to the outside world just convinces me even more that this is a promo stunt. Most sources online were fed almost simultaneously, a fan would have a daytime job doing this..." The track is the first single to be taken from the upcoming Depeche Mode album, "Playing The Angel", to be released on October 17th and lets us hear a Depeche Mode that has improved tremendously soundwise compared to the rather disappointing "Exciter" album. If it can be compared with previous Depeche Mode material, one should say a mix between "Ultra" and "Violator", at least for this first track.

Monday, July 18, 2005


Flipping past mtv this evening I had a bit of shock because their "You Hear It First" extended artist profile was about Annie. I don't know that I've ever seen an electropop video on mtv, but that was a pleasant surprise. You stream the profile from the mtv site so long as it's still up and also read through an interview where Annie discusses the mood of her music:

She dismisses the touch of melancholy in tunes like "Heartbeat" and "My Best Friend," insisting that she's keeping things upbeat. "For me, it's really easy to write depressive songs," she said, "and that's why I never do that. I try to do songs that are a bit happier and a bit more complicated. I think there are too many songwriters writing sad, depressive songs, and I find it really boring, listening to music where people are just complaining. People should stop whining!

"Right now I'm doing pop — kind of electronic pop music, with a twist of disco. But maybe the next album will be more like a country album," she laughed. "You never know!"

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Mobile Village

When not watching "MTV's The 70's House" where kids talk about their dance instructor as that guy who "worked with John Travolta on that movie, um, that was highly regarded as a classic of that era" I like to keep up with what's happening to that decade's stars:

Victor Edward Willis, the original policeman in the 1970s music group the Village People, was arrested by real police who allegedly found a gun and drugs in his convertible.

Willis, who co-wrote disco hits such as "Macho Man" and "In the Navy" before leaving the Village People in the late 1970s, was taken into custody Monday after an officer stopped his Chevrolet Corvette.

Police said Willis didn't have a valid license or identification and at first lied about his name and residence. Inside the car, the officer found a .45-caliber handgun as well as rock cocaine and drug paraphernalia, police said.

Traces of cocaine and other paraphernalia were also found his home at a mobile home park in Daly City, just south of San Francisco, police said. Willis also had an outstanding felony warrant for possession of narcotics.

: Having spent two lovely years living in the constant cold fog of Daly City as it turned my car's once spotless paint job into rust I had forgotten there even was a trailer park in the town. At least he got out before the band hit the county fair circuit.