Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

New Blog: Self-Doubt Gun

January 5, 2012

Hello & Happy New Year,

I’ve started up a new blog for me to write about whatever enters my head, much as this blog used to be. I’d expect to mostly be talking about music, books, maybe a bit of science, but you know me… it’s bound to spill over into ranting and attempts at humour.

So if you’ve enjoyed this blog in the past, point your RSS reader at:

On the music front, the record I was working on last year is very close to being ready. I’m just sorting out artwork at the moment and then there’ll be some news. Information about that release may well come out through the new blog rather than this one.

Have a great 2012.x


Albums of the year 2010

December 6, 2010

For no particular reason, here are my albums of the year.

1. Sam Amidon – I see the sign

This is without at doubt the album I’ve listened to most this year so I think by default that makes it the first choice. Nothing stellar or earth shattering about it. Just a man with a wonderful voice singing songs written a very long time ago (and one by R Kelly), and giving them a contemporary feel without resorting to piling on superfluous beeps and whistles. Sublime arrangements by Nico Muhly, pristine warm production by Valgeir Sigurdson. See also: everything released on Bedroom Community.

2. Napoleon IIIrd – Christiania

I always feel kind of a dick listing Brainlove releases in my albums of the year, and to be honest I’m not sure if I’m not deliberately bumping this one down a notch solely to avoid the embarrassment of butt-kissing my friend and colleague Mr IIIrd. Still this is an incredible record which sounds like nothing else. Plus it’s funny if you sing ‘You’re going home in a fucking ambulance’ to the tune of ‘Let’s all go to Christiania’.

3. The National – High Violet

The National have a novel approach to making great albums. They simply make sure that the music is excellent, the lyrics are excellent, and the production is excellent. Matt Berninger makes abstract, borderline nonsensical couplets sound like the most profound meditations on 21st Century ennui and despair imaginable, and croons them gently and warmly over the shifting, subtly original progressions and rhythms of his band. The music goes to a place which is entirely its own, and whilst there’s nothing to knock the socks off in terms of the attention starved ‘hot new sound’ brigade they just continue being quietly devastating for album after album. Swoon.

4. Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me

A triple CD album? Well, were we surprised? ‘Ys’ was my album of the year in whatever year it came out, as was ‘The Milk Eyed Mender’, and she’s almost done it again this year (I’m sure she’s devastated at missing out). There are quite definitely two CD’s of beautiful transcendent music on here, and a few tracks that are okay on their own but do make the thing drag a little. What’s most striking, listening back to TMEM this year, is how much her voice has come on. The scratchy, witchy vocals of yore are replaced with a much more controlled approach here, and the tweeness and aren’t-I-clever moments are toned down in favour of some genuinely heart stopping expressions of sorrow. At risk of patronising someone I don’t know, I think you can tell that she’s now actually lived through some shit, rather than just drawing all her inspiration from books and fantasy. Is it wrong to pair this up against her ex-BF Bill Callahan’s ‘Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle’? View each record as one side of an argument? Perhaps I’ll get a slapped wrist from the literal interpretation squad. Whatever, this is a great record – even if it is definitely a bit too long.

5. Beach House – Teen Dream

Can’t make out a word she’s saying. Can you? Even when you can I’ve no idea what she’s on about. But she makes it sound good. I can’t be bothered to google Beach House and find out who they are or what the deal is. I went to watch them in Cardiff and couldn’t even see the stage, so I don’t even know how many people are in the band. Kind of prefer it that way. Anyway, like Broadcast they seem to make a virtue of just doing the same thing over and over again. Having initially found them dull as ditchwater at ATP two years ago they’ve now either improved immeasurably or I’ve had my ears waxed because this album has a bizarre grandeur to it, sort of like if someone on X-factor tried to do the Cocteau Twins, only somehow managed to not make it utterly utterly shit, but great.

6. Four Tet – There is love in you

At a loss to describe this. Everything Ecstatic kind of left me cold, a bit too much random percussion fluttering around some not very interesting melodies. This time he’s gone straight for a more clubbier structure and allowed everything time to breathe. Still sounds like Four Tet. Still great. *shrug* #notareviewer

7. Matthew Dear – Black City

This is my first experience of Matthew Dear and I like it. He seems to draw on the same sort of Eno/Talking Heads era stuff that LCD are into but focuses on a different aspect. Much more melancholy. A soundtrack to a slightly drunk and emotional evening, rather than a cocktail sipping, lean on the trendy bar style night that ‘This is Happening’ seemed geared towards. There’s some real 80’s kitsch staples mixed in there too, almost Yello like vocal samples rubbing up against Joy Division balladry and something hard to put my finger on that reminds me of My Bloody Valentine. Apparently the lyrics are quite rude but I haven’t really noticed.

8. Olof Arnalds – Innundir Skinni

On impulse after a wonderful second visit to Iceland to perform at Airwaves I’m once again predisposed to love anything Icelandic, the people, the food, the music, the temperature…. So I bought this based on nationality (and a positive Pitchfork review) alone. It’s really quite beautiful. One or two songs in English reveal an honesty and simple poetry to the lyrics which presumably carries over into the native tongue songs too. But it’s really the voice that carries it all. There are a million records where someone with a pretty voice sings pretty songs. This is the one I love this year.

9. Sufjan Stevens – the Age of Adz

After a deceptive intro that makes you think ‘here comes another Sufjan record’ you suddenly get this massive impolite squelch of synth and off you go on a trip on the mental wagon. After ‘You are the Blood’ from the ‘Dark was the night’ compilation I wasn’t entirely surprised to find that every song on here is half an hour long and features about twelve different solos. This record as a whole rambles incredibly, when it’s good it’s really fucking good. The rest of the time – well maybe sometimes it’s better to just play some nice songs on a banjo.

10. The Books – The Way Out

Perhaps I’m guilty of jumping the gun on this one, having only heard it twice since buying it last week. But for sheer originality it deserves a mention (and do you really need me telling you that ‘The Suburbs’ is pretty good?). The Books create nominally electronic/folktronic music which props up odd found-sound monologues and snatches of dialogue. If you heard their previous record ‘Lost and Safe’ then this one seems to focus more on single sources, rather than snippets from all over. My favourite is ‘Cold Freezin’ Night’ which features a comically aggressive monologue from a very young child detailing exactly how much he hates some unnamed person and how easy he will find it to kill them. Reminds me of (and may in fact be sourced from) that ‘Street Gangland Rhythms Band’ album that came out a few years ago.

Honourable mention: James Blake

James Blake hasn’t released an album yet. But if you compiled the three EP’s and one single he’s done this year onto a single disc it would probably be the album of the year. Showing an envy inducing versatility across tracks which are oh-so nominally dubstep inclined but really span electro-folk, R&B and classical piano – every one is unique and quite brilliant. Klavierwerke in particular does my favourite trick of taking something that definitively should not work on paper and making it brilliant. Half of it isn’t even in time!

Other good records:

The Suburbs, Episode 2 by Spencer McGarry, Valgeir Sigurdson’s ‘Draumalandid’ soundtrack, Crooks & Lovers by Mount Kimbie, Bastardgeist, Oversteps/Move of Ten by Autechre, Darwin Deez, Down There by Avey Tare, Field Music’s new one, and Owen Pallet’s Heartland.

Fail of the year: Gorillaz – Plastic Beach

This record is a fucking chore. All the worse for having two genuinely great songs on it (‘Stylo’ and ‘Superfast Jellyfish’). This is an hour of expensive and disgusting sounding synth dirges with phoned-in cameo after phoned-in cameo. Beyond boring and into the realm of wanting this record to be un-recorded, un-made and started again. Have Gorillaz really managed to become this shit in the space of only three records? Albarn’s got the talent to make a good record with this band on his own. He should do that instead of using cartoon characters as a front for making sub-par collaborations with whoever takes his fancy.

Bono devastated to discover Santa ‘doesn’t exist’

December 20, 2009

Wikipedia blamed for saddening discovery

U2 singer Bono Vox is said to be ‘devastated’ on learning that festive toy distributor Santa Claus (also known as Father Christmas) may actually be a fictional character, and has vowed to ‘show the world the truth’.

Vox, whose real name is Gordon Sumner, had long been a believer in the antics of the iconic red-suited elf handler, but said that his suspicions were first raised when he searched pedants’ playground Wikipedia for Claus’ contact address and found the page was listed under ‘fairytale characters’.

Bono's bottom lip trembles

U2 bandmate Adam Clayton has been blamed for the lapse in supervision which led to the discovery. “We all take it in turns to watch Bono and make sure he doesn’t do anything silly” explains Clayton, who is either the bassist or the drummer – we can’t remember.

“I just left him on his own for five minutes whilst I went to drop the kids off at the pool* and when I came back he was bawling his eyes out. I saw the Wiki page for Santa on his laptop screen and my heart just sank”.

The jovial but obese character is said to distribute toys to children who conform adequately to a pre-determined but ultimately arbitrary moral code. However Bono has issued a statement claiming ‘Toys received in this way are in fact purchased for children by their parents, who then stage elaborate pantomimes and cheap conjuring tricks to cover up their deception. Inspections by youngsters of the backs of wardrobes have routinely uncovered evidence in support of this hypothesis’.

Well known for his championing of worthy causes, the melodramatic vocalist has immediately set to work publicising what he calls ‘an insidious global network of lies’.

He has already enlisted the help of prominent religious figure Pope Yoda XVIII who commented “Following Bono’s revelation I checked through the Bible and was shocked to realise that it actually doesn’t contain a single reference to Santa. I’d always just kind of assumed it was in there somewhere.”

Vox has previously been a high profile advocate of Christmas and has twice lent his distinctive vocals to versions of Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’, a record he says he can no longer listen to. “Every time I listen to my signature delivery of ‘Tonight thank God it’s them instead of you’ I just feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach. I would happily trade places with a starving African child if it meant I got my innocence back. Anything would be better than this shadow life I’m now living”.

The revelation has also affected his band mates, guitarist ‘The Edge’ said “I’m really disappointed, it was my turn to dress up for him this year”.

Santa: Not Real?

Since the high profile denunciation of the man he now refers to as the ‘bullshit whore-elf of greed’ Bono has been unrepentant at the effect his revelation has had on children worldwide. Reports have come in of entire shopping centres filled with inconsolable weeping tots.

John Conkers, caretaker at Manchester’s Dante-esque Trafford Centre, said “It were [sic] awful. The tiled floor was so drenched with the salty tears of a million broken hearts that we near [sic] run out of them [sic] yellow ‘wet floor’ signs to put up”.

Parents have also condemned the move. Writing on user ‘timmysmum666’ said “I’ve always hated Bono, but now I’m having to google to see if there’s a worse word than c***”. ‘kneehighinnappies’ added “I’m going to burn all my U2 records. Again.”

There have also been fears that without the threat of a ‘naughty’ verdict from the judgemental arctic dweller parents will be powerless to enforce appropriate standards of behaviour in their otherwise rampantly selfish progeny.

Retailers have expressed fears that the star’s words may harm the all important pre-Christmas sales. Michael Pound-Coyne of Toys R Us stated “We’re not optimistic that we’ll sell anything now. No child is going to want hundreds of pounds worth of new toys if they haven’t been delivered in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer”.

Whilst he has been keen to put paid to the myth of Santa, Bono acknowledges that it is, for him, a hollow victory. “Sometimes ignorance really is bliss,” he says “Like when we announce that we’ve finished a new album but no one’s heard it yet, you can really believe that it might contain songs which are even close to as good as the ones we wrote in the 80s.”

“All that keeps me going now is the knowledge that at least the Easter Bunny is still out there fighting the good fight.”
*Clarification: Following the initial publication of this article Mr Clayton contacted our reporter to clarify that he was literally dropping his children off at a nearby swimming pool, and not using a colloquial euphemism for having a shit.

Blur’s ‘Country House’ lyrics retrospectively ruled explicit

December 19, 2009

Judge rules lyrics are “phonetically indistinguishable from an offensive term”.

Dozens or even millions of Britains have found they may have been offended without their knowledge by 90s chart topper ‘Country House’ by Britpop band Blur, following a landmark ruling which found that the band could not prove the chorus did not contain an expletive.

“I have been listening to this song for years,” said housewife Martha Wainwright of Preston, Lancs “It never occurred to me that I might actually be singing along with an unsavory arboreal/anatomical term.”

The issue was raised by Stephen Spleen of Christian Orifice who campaigns for anything which offends him personally to be banned. “I don’t listen to much popular music because it is the work of Satan” he calmly explains “But I do allow my children to listen to the wireless for 15 supervised minutes once a week as a treat.”

He describes the moment he first realised an offensive term may have been snuck into the seemingly innocuous ditty, “I first heard it during our regular family listening time some months back. I could scarcely believe my ears. I found myself unable to remove a vivid image of a mighty oak bedecked with female genitalia from my mind. Though the DJ said the title was ‘Country House’ I wasn’t fooled.”

“I have now locked all my children in the basement and will never let them out again,” says Spleen “Any sane person would do the same.”

A Country House: Offensive

Mr Spleen brought his case to the High Court of Offendedness, where expert testimony was heard.

Professor Yeardley Smith of the California Raisins Institute for Wordy Things testified that ‘Country House’ was an ‘undeniably homophonic with the term in question’, an opinion welcomed by Mr Spleen. “Whilst I cannot condone the use of any term, technical or otherwise which includes the syllables ‘ho’ and ‘mo’ in immediate succession I nevertheless welcome this commonsense conclusion”.

Blur’s label EMI have immediately withdrawn all copies of CDs containing the song from the shelves, as well as instigating a series of covert nationwide burglaries to remove offending copies from people’s homes. They will also design a computer virus which scans users’ hard discs for mp3 files of the song, then replaces any sections of the audio featuring the ambiguous phonemes with a short snatch of Susan Boyle.

A Facebook group called “I am retrospectively offended by Blur” already has over 3 million members, and a petition on the 10 Downing Street website has attracted more signatures than all the ones about important things put together. ‘#blurfail’ has been the top trending topic on Twitter since the news was announced, and none of these facts are worthy of being reported by any serious publication.

Blur fans have hit back, pointing out that the disgruntling syllable should be seen in the context of the surrounding lyrics, a view given short shrift by Mr Spleen. “People give too much consideration to ‘context’. If I were to expose myself in a children’s playground, would that be forgivable in the ‘context’ of youthful high spirits? Apparently not.”

Damon Albarn wrestles with his conscience

Noel Gallagher of sometime Britpop rivals Oasis took the opportunity to launch an attack on Blur frontman Damon Albarn saying “Maybe he should’ve done his fooking song in French, where there is a clear, thought subtle, phonetic distinction between ‘ou’ and ‘u’. The obvious example would be the difference between ‘vous’ and ‘tu’. Didn’t he learn that during GCSE French? I know I fooking did.”

Comedian Keith Allen, who just happened to be nearby, said “This is a terrible indictment of morality in this country. People are getting offended by this when there are real issues out there. My poor daughter has had to fall back on her TV career and celebrity endorsements because her major label funded music was downloaded by so many people. Now she can barely afford to do all the enjoyable but ultimately extraneous things normally associated with a career in the creative industries.”

“Won’t someone think of my children?” he added.

Albarn was keeping a low profile today and a spokesperson merely stated that he was ‘Busy writing an opera about flamingos in Welsh or something’. However when our reporter tracked him down outside a jellied eel shop in London’s fashionable London district the sometime mockney replied that the verdict was “a fair cop”.

Paul McCartney ‘Appalled’ Sgt Pepper not album of the year

December 18, 2009

“How many books have been written about fucking Animal Collective?” demands former Beatles bassist

Sir Paul McCartney has expressed his anger that the reissue of ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, the 1967 album by his band The Beatles, has failed to be named as best record released in 2009 by any music publication, despite healthy sales, and a positive critical response to the 42nd anniversary edition.

“No one even had it in the fucking Top Fifty,” Sir Paul expectorated whilst scoring a musical for frogs “It’s a fucking seminal work of genius. Who do these fucking people think they are? Just look at the cover. Do you know how much that cost?”

The Beatles

Despite only being the bassist, Sir Paul has been keen to claim credit for the success of the band since the death of singer John Lennon and lead guitarist George Harrison, and he continues to perform his former band’s hits at recent solo concerts despite fans clamouring to hear new material.

When asked his opinion of this year’s crop of critically acclaimed bands Sir Paul quipped “Animal Collective? More like Animal Fucking Rubbish” before chuckling gently to himself.

“Seriously though,” declaimed the whimsical scouser “How is that every fucking magazine regularly says that Pepper’s the best album ever made, so we re-release it properly and somehow suddenly there’s all these other records which are better? Is it just coincidence? ‘Oh yeah, sorry Paul. Right up until last year Pepper was the fucking dog’s golden knackers but then by sheer fucking coincidence fifty-odd brand new bands accidentally squeezed a superior long playing record out of their puckered little arseholes this year’. I don’t think so.”

“It’s just bollocks,” concluded the erstwhile mop top.

Scientists have estimated that ‘Sgt Pepper’ has been played continuously somewhere in the world ever since its release. Indeed a minor religion has sprung up on the remote island of Gunpoa where native tribespeople play the album constantly for fear that the night god will otherwise return and devour the sun. Except it doesn’t count when they’re turning over the record, otherwise it’d be stupid.

“If all the copies of Sgt Pepper ever sold were laid end to end, they would touch the bottom of the sea,” asserted the noteworthy vegetarian. “That’s more units than The xx will ever sell of anything, even if they started selling paperclips in boxes of a million and paid everyone to buy them.”

“We’re just not cool anymore, that’s what it is. I remember when you could buy fucking Beatles yoghurt.” explains the cheerful tunesmith “Yoghurt! Can you imagine? ‘Monoliths and Dimensions’ might be a fucking defining work of symphonic drone metal or some shit, but it’s never going to be commemorated in a variety of fruity fucking flavours is it?”

“No.” replied Sir Paul in response to his own question.

Sir Paul Yesterday

In support of his claims Sir Paul produced a copy of ‘Revolution in the Head’ the Beatles biography by Ian MacDonald, in which several passages praising McCartney’s musical abilities have been underlined and given annotations such as ‘that’s right’ and ‘yes’. By contrast a printed off copy of an article from praising ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’ has been scribbled out almost in its entirety in red pen and the phrase ‘is a dick’ inserted after the writer’s name.

“No one would ever want to read a book about Animal Collective,” speculated Sir Paul “Because it would just be boring.”

Critics have sprung to Sir Paul’s defence. Simon Mondeo of Mojo magazine commented “Sgt Pepper is clearly the best album ever made. That’s why we feature the Fab Four on our cover at least a couple of times a year. It’s important that, like those who fought and died in the two world wars, we do not forget the contribution made by those four young lads from Liverpool who shook the world.”

Rolling Stone Editor James Blardy added “There is literally an infinite amount of fascinating new information about the Beatles emerging all the time. We’re actually concerned that we may have to start printing a separate magazine in order to cope with the sheer volume of novel and insightful commentary on this already over-exposed band which is produced on a daily basis.”

Readers of the messageboard have, however, responded to Sir Paul’s complaints with vitriol. User ‘iluvpete96’ wrote ‘who are even the beatles I dunt no my dad listens to them in d car an I jus fall aslep cos their shit lol’. ‘mongwithabong’ agreed, adding ‘I playd teh game he did on wii an it was okay but just hte same as guitar hero so I dnt fink ne1 will want to buy is songs cos there not orginial an all just sound like the libertins’.

Is This Fake: Julian Casablancas admits the Strokes ‘Not a real band’

December 17, 2009

“The songs aren’t real, we just made them up” says singer.

Julian Casablancas has shocked fans by admitting today that the popular New York alt rockers The Strokes are not a real band. Casablancas revealed in an interview with Fern Britton that classic hits such as ‘Last Nite’ and ”You Only Live Once’ are not in fact genuine compositions but were merely made up by the band in order to give them some material to perform at gigs.

“We never thought it would go this far” said a visibly remorseful Casablancas “We thought ‘well we can’t be a band without any songs’ so we just got our instruments and played various different combinations of notes and rhythms until we had something which resembled the music we enjoyed and were influenced by”.

Added Casablancas “We never meant to hurt anybody”.

The Strokes: Not Real

Since the shocking revelations musicologists have pored over the band’s recordings and confirmed the non-genuine nature of the music.

“If you look at this section of ‘The Modern Age” says Prof Ian Beale of the University of Music in Bangor “you can clearly see that it contains some of the 12 notes which have already been used widely in both the popular and classical music forms for years. This note for example is a G, which some scholars believe was used several times by the Beatles as early as the 1960s.”

He adds, “The whole thing has clearly just been put together cack handedly by someone with little regard for authenticity. I’m not even going to talk about the lyrics. I mean ‘In the sun sun having fun…’? What does that even mean?”.

In addition to the revelations about the music, the band members themselves have proved not to be what they seem. Casablancas has admitted that bassist Nikolai Fraiture is in fact his loyal childhood dog Barney, an Afghan Hound. “We didn’t know anyone who played bass,” he explains “and Barney seemed to like hanging around the rehearsal room so we just put some clothes on him like in Denver the Last Dinosaur.”

“We honestly can’t see how anyone was ever fooled”, he added.

Nikolai Fraiture

Fraiture/Barney who released his solo debut album this year under the moniker Nickel Eye was unavailable for comment. However fans on the Strokes official messageboard have been quick to air their views. User ‘strokemeoff93’ claimed “I always knew it wuznt a reel album, you can even hear sum1 sayin walkies halfway thru and all the songs is just who let the dogs out played at different speeds and backwards and stuff”.

Leading the charge to condemn the band for their dishonesty has been NME magazine, who first championed them in 2001 and recently dubbed debut album ‘Is This It’ the ‘Greatest Single Achievement in Human History’.

Editor Spunky McFarlane commented “We feel let down. NME is all about championing real music made by passionate artists not afraid to step outside the boundraries of commerciality. We seek to provide thought provoking and in depth coverage of only the finest and most innovative modern music. We treat our readers as discerning and intelligent people who are willing to go the extra mile and discover records which deliver their rewards slowly over time, rather than being interchangeable bits of fluff which, after six months, will merely be another inert bit of plastic occupying shelf space.”

“This discovery that the Strokes music was entirely fabricated shocks me and will shock our readers… for approximately 5 seconds until they receive a text message about some shoes, or see any brightly coloured object.”

The band have vowed to carry on, saying their next album will contain ‘real songs’. “We’re determined to show people the real us” says guitarist Nick Valensi, who is in fact two young children standing on each other’s shoulders. “We’re going to work with the people who wrote the songs for Basement Jaxx and Coldplay”.

When asked to comment, White Stripes singer/guitarist and former friend of the band Jack White said “Two words: Milli Vanilli”.

There Will Be Bloodening: Vampire Weekend announce new album

December 16, 2009

Pop band Vampire Weekend have announced that their new album ‘Vampire Weekend II: The Bloodening’ will consist of the same recordings of the same songs released on their first album ‘Vampire Weekend’ in a slightly different order.

“We know that people liked the first album” said singer Ezra Pound “So this seemed like the right choice”.

In attempt to make the new/old album more ‘digestible to content users’ the band have moved ‘Oxford Comma’ from track 2 to track 1 removing the need to first listen to less popular former album opener ‘Mansard Roof’ which is now track 4. ‘Oxford Comma’ is also repeated at the end of the album.

Some of the songs on the album have been renamed, ‘M79’ is now entitled ‘Susan Boyle’ after the homely but popular reality TV singer, whilst ‘Bryn’ has been renamed ‘Oxford Comma (part two)’.

A lucrative sponsorship deal has resulted in single ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’ being renamed ‘Bird’s Eye presents: Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’ and the song now features an introductory voiceover pieced together from fragments of dialogue by the late John Hewer – the actor who played the popular eponymous Captain in a series of much loved fish finger adverts throughout the 80s and 90s.

Multi-instrumentalist Rostam Jetsam defended the decision to not write or record any new material for the new album as an artistic one. “This isn’t just a ‘reissue'” he explained, “Some people have said this is a purely commercial decision, that we’re ripping off our content users. But ‘Vampire Weekend II’ feels like the natural culmination of everything we’ve been doing over the last two years – i.e. playing these songs to people and receiving a positive response”.

He went on “I think people will be surprised by how fresh it sounds hearing the same material in a slightly different order, whilst being pleased that we’re still the band they love and have already paid to listen to”.

Some fans have angered the band by merely re-labelling and reordering their copy of ‘Vampire Weekend’ using iTunes, or burning a CD based on the new running order, which leaked in full months ago.

“I think it’s a shame they’ve done that” said singer Walter Konig “We had a real vision that this album would work as a cohesive whole, this isn’t just about reordering the tracks – it’s about re-evaluating what the whole idea of an ‘album’ as an artistic medium can mean in this post-2.0 consumer landscape. I mean, sure you can just re-order the tracks yourself, but that’s not the same as us doing it for you. Plus you don’t get the artwork…”.

The new album will be released on 11th January 2010 on standard CD and quadruple vinyl, which includes a bonus disc with ‘Oxford Comma’ repeated four times on each side, and a coupon to download the album as mp3s. There will also be a ‘super deluxe’ boxed set edition which features the album on CD twice, vinyl twice, cassette three times, minidisc once, DVD once, and a free copy of the first album.

The boxed set is priced at £500 and features an individually hand painted cover by Jake & Dinos Chapman, a lock of each of the band members’ hair, photographs of them on the toilet, and an interminably fawning essay by someone from Rolling Stone who last attended a gig by an unsigned band in the 1980’s, featuring the phrase ‘well rounded set of songs’, and printed on fucking goat skin vellum or something.

The first single from the album will be ‘Oxford Comma’ which will be released on 7″ vinyl on 4th January, backed with ‘Oxford Comma’.

Top 10 Albums of 2009 according to me

December 3, 2009

1. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion
Clearly the best record this year by clearly the best band currently recording music. The reason I personally love AC so much is the way they fuse acoustic and electronic music to the point where it blurs into one. That they do so with undisputable pop chops just makes the whole thing even better.

2. Mat Riviere – Follow Your Heart
Yet another world class talent signs to Brainlove Records (lol). Mat’s debut album isn’t out until early next year but I’m including it because as far as I’m concerned it’s already out. His vocals recall Ian Curtis, his lyrics recall TS Elliot, Ted Hughes and Why?, his music recalls Arab Strap, Clouddead, and Interpol. It all adds up to something wholly unique and very special.

3. F Buttons – Tarot Sport
BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. NOISE-GASM. How can noise sound happy? This is how.

4. Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue
Ace hip-hop/folk/electro mashings. On Warp. Wins over immediately with swoonsome 60s folk harmonies battling it out with slice & dice production but reveals hidden depths the more you listen.

5. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
Like a comfy old sofa with broken springs which occasionally twang and stab you in the bum this album is deceptive in its ordinariness. It reveals its charms over time.

6. Micachu – Jewelry
Just bonkers. Honestly. Squelches bleeps and out of tune ukeleles shouldn’t add up to pop gold but Micachu apparently knows better.

7. Andrew Bird – Noble Beast
Gorgeous Sunday afternoon style folky pop with mild ‘-tronica’ aspects here and there plus enough musical and lyrical curveballs to stop this being completely Radio 2. Subtle pleasures but very real ones.

8. Broadcast & The Focus Group – Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age
Like wandering through a museum of what the future was expected to sound like in the past. The pairing of these two bands was the best idea anyone ever had. The Focus Group’s beautifully detailed sci-fi snippets collaged into Broadcast’s Alice through the looking glass retro-futurist girl group pastiches. Win.

9. God Help The Girl – God Help The Girl
A guilty pleasure. 100% pure pastiche but beatifully observed girl group goes christian rock musical theatre from Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian. Like a compilation of 1960s hits that never were. Looking forward to see how this translates into a feature film. Can forgive the usually unacceptable practice of having band name, album title, and song title all be the same thing.

10. Flaming Lips – Embryonic
Despite its complete lack of pop hitz this is easily the most enjoyable Flaming Lips album in about ten years. A blown out psychedelic joyride that seems like something they just had to get out of their system. Thankfully most of the fan and critical opinion seems to have gone with them. Very few bands seem to foster the goodwill to pull something like this off, but it’s always nice when they risk it.

Other good albums (not in order):
Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
The Empty Set – As Neat As A New Pin
Dan Deacon – Bromst
Prefuse 73 – Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian
Daniel Johnston – Is And Always Was
Atlas Sound – Logos
Bill Callahan – Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle
Bat For Lashes – Two Suns
Volcano Choir – Unmap
Jim O’Rourke – The Visitor
The xx – xx

Top [X] Albums of [Arbitrary Time Period]

November 18, 2009

In keeping with the spirit of the times. Here is a speedily knocked together list of the albums released within the last ten years which I consider the finest. This list supercedes all previously published lists, including this one.

1. Arcade Fire – Funeral
2. Joanna Newsom – Ys
3. Fiery Furnaces – Blueberry Boat
4. Radiohead – Kid A/Amnesiac
5. Godspeed You Black Emperor! – Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
6. The Strokes – Is This It
7. Boards of Canada – Geogaddi
8. Sufjan Stevens – Illinoise
9. Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam
10. Aphex Twin – Drukqs
11. Four Tet – Rounds
12. Napoleon IIIrd – In Debt To
13. Radiohead – In Rainbows
14. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion
15. Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning
16. The Knife – Silent Shout
17. Fennesz – Venice
18. Delgados – Great Eastern
19. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
20. Low – Things We Lost in the Fire
21. The National – Boxer
22. Broadcast – The Noise Made By People
23. Jim O’Rourke – Insignificance
24. Sonic Youth – Murray Street
25. Max Tundra – Parallax Error Beheads You
26. Battles – Mirrored
27. TV On The Radio – Dear Science
28. Clinic – Internal Wrangler
29. Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
30. Mat Riviere – Follow Your Heart


i) Yes I have counted Kid A and Amnesiac as a single album. They are inseperable in my mind. Individually they are patchy. Taken as a whole they are sublime. Shut up.
ii) I don’t care what you think the Sufjan Stevens album is actually called
iii) I know the Mat Riviere album isn’t out yet. But I’ve had it for months and by the time I’m able to include it in next year’s ‘best of year’ list I’ll have forgotten.
iv) The only truly difficult decision in compiling this list was whether ‘Funeral’ was better than ‘Ys’ – really you can’t compare the two sensibly.
v) Yes I do genuinely think the Napoleon IIIrd album is better than all those other albums.
vi) Yes I have almost certainly forgotten about the existence of some albums which i would have included. Leave me alone.

Like PWL? Amazon recommends…

August 18, 2009

I just received one of those ‘We’ve noticed people who buy [X] also buy [Y]…’ e-mails from amazon. Except it was saying that people who bought ‘Fight My Battles For Me’ also bought ‘The Future Sound of Yesterday‘ by a band called Implosion Quintet.

How exciting. This presumably means people have bought my album from amazon, which is almost as exciting as it being in HMV [NB the cheapest place to buy it is still my website].

Looking at the website ‘Implosion Quintet’ seems in fact to be one bloke in his bedroom with the following things to say:

“[the band is] a crossover that blends tango, rock, proggy retro-electronics and jazz. Basically a composite of the various elements I really love. Everything is deliberately lo-fi and unpolished out of choice because realism and good old-fashioned grit are unquestionably the way forward.”


He doesn’t perform live because “while I could laptop it up and tweak out a roomful of boink that would be about as captivating as watching me complete a tax return.”

Ahem… never heard of a monome?

Anyway, I’ve yet to listen to him but here’s his myspace.

Hmm… lengthy plug for 100% unheard band. Is this how I should use my blog?