Thursday, 30 July 2009

Florence and the Machine - Lungs

19th March 2008 was the date of my first post about Florence and the Machine. I was impressed by her crazed style, and clear musical ability.

Since then, I've mentioned her several times, the band has come had come 3rd in the BBC's "Sound of 2009" poll, and they're the winners of the 2009 Brit Awards critic choice award.

All of this (obviously the mentions on Musical Bites being the greatest accolades, erm...), without an album. It's taken until July 2009 to get there. But, when it was released, I've been looking forward to it for so much, not only did I jump at the idea of buying the album, I even bought the extended 2-CD special edition!

Thankfully, I wasn't in the slightest bit disappointed.

Starting with the soothing opening of Dog Days Are Over, itself crescending to a frantic peak, the mood of the album is set. All the tunes are slightly different - I'm not calling you a liar could be said to have a dance like tendency, Kiss with a fist is most definitely anything but - but there is there somehow a continuing theme. Somewhat crazy, unusual definitely, yet there's something else slightly indistinct that runs through the entire album.

Stand out track in my opinion is Girl with One Eye - a wonderfully acoustic number (at least to start with, but the drums kick in at the right moment exactly), soul-esque, and very powerful instrumentation. Cosmic Love also matches its title, with the sci-fi background music and the lyrics all gelling together to prove all were meant to go together. Harps are notoriously very difficult instruments to fit into pop music, and yet it seems to work not just in Cosmic Love but throughout the album as a whole.

With no weak tracks at all, it's clear that the build-up to the album has been time well spent; and the hype has been justified.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Kendal Calling: Preview

image As I touched upon earlier, festival season is in full swing, and once again I'm doing the usual trick of turning-up, hopefully enjoying it, hopefully not being too busy and just suffering not drinking and potentially needing to run around a lot for the honour of getting in for free by doing it as a St Johnnie.

Of course, because I'm local it also means I get to do it slightly differently, by returning home to a nice, warm, bed instead of sticking on a cold, damp, muddy campsite.

I'm only there two nights ( :-( ) because of working on Monday morning, and I think two 8pm-8am shifts on Friday and Saturday is more than enough to destroy the bodyclock.

Hopefully, this means that I'll be able to most 'proper' posts (as opposed to dodgy text posts, if I get the thing working) with videos and photos as the weekend goes on.


So, what am I looking forward to?

Well, Friday night is comparatively quiet on the music front. I might be able to catch a bit of Goldie Lookin Chain - not really my sort of music, but good for a laugh. After that, if I've got freedom, it's a choice between The Streets (I've got their first album, would be great to hear some of their new material) or Fight Like Apes - and I think I'd probably prefer to wander over to the "We are Calling" stage to hear the lesser known group. I described them as 'crazed' previously, so they'll probably fit my criteria. After that the main stage dies down, so I'll just have to find some new talents on the Keylied Stage, or see if I'm likely to enjoy anything on the Traffic Stage.

Saturday into Sunday is a bit busier - although I'm slightly annoyed to probably be sleeping through Whiskey Cats and Red Light Company. If I wander in slightly earlier, hot on the scene Twisted Wheel will be worth a watch for sure, but I've seen headliners The Zutons too many times in the past 14 months to get really excited by the prospect of that. So, the question is if I'll head instead to watch Tommy Sparks or Frank Turner. Funky electronica or relaxing acoustic probably depends on my mood at the time.

Of course, I'll go wherever I'm bid, but I'm hopeful I'll see at least some of the above and whatever else I come across will be a worthwhile experience. Watch this space over the weekend for an example of a family-friendly, easy-going, positively rural festival.

UPDATE 30.07.09 18:35 - Temptation won the better of me, and with a spare holiday that needs using up before the end of August I'm now off on the Sunday night as well. It's another night shift to keep with the pattern, so sadly still missing Rumble Strips and probably Noah and the Whale. But, I should be in time for Idlewild, definitely on site (subject to running off in an Ambulance) for Ash, Craig Charles, Mumford and Sons, and I might just be able to watch the Whiskey Cats after all. Which is probably a good swap for a days hol.

Obviously, I'm not sure exactly how much I'll be sleeping over the weekend, but I will try and update when I can. Probably not from the site though due to limitation on moblogging (in that I can't).

Monday, 27 July 2009

TOTW30: Polarikreis 18 - Allein Allein

Bubbling Under

Frankmusik - Confusion Girl

James Morrision - Nothing ever hurt like you

The Low Anthem - To Ohio

Wednesday, 22 July 2009


Given the age of this rundown, I've been struggling with getting a top 5 together. There's also some conflict as to what the best selling song was of that year - the charts in those years not being as clear and regularised as they are today.

I'm going for Slim Whitman being the top seller, because until 1991, his solitary appearance in the charts held the record for the longest time at number 1 - 11 weeks with the song from the musical of the same name.

There's a definite country-bent though - and it's incredible to think that Bill Haley (the one everyone will recognise) was only at number 5.

Anyway, I'm afraid because of the problems with finding the tracks there's no embedded playlist today, but click here to have a listen!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

TOTW29: VVBrown - Shark in the Water

Funky, soul, yet easy listening. I mentioned VV Brown in the Sound of 2009 post, but haven't since. Which is a bit of a surprise, given the praise I gave at the time. Thankfully, all good things return eventually, and Shark in the Water meets the criteria I said at the time. It's modern-enough to happily appear in the charts, whilst not being so full-on to not make the Coffin-Dodger Network's (aka Radio 2's) playlist. The opening may mislead some until the chorus, but the effect is great. More please!

Bubbling under

James Morrison - Nothing ever hurt like you

Frankmusik - Confusion Girl (whilst we're on Sound of 2009!)

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


OK, miles behind with the posts again - several artists to listen up on, review to write on the One EskimO album, need to listen to the Florence & the Machine album properly and make appropriate comments, festival season, and more. Plus, keep watching this space for an hopeful exclusive competition and preview on a soul talent that's really coming onto the scene at the minute.

However, to catch-up, some things that have dropped into my inbox lately, with thoughts in 10 words or less. See how it goes...

Flashguns - I don't not love you - Somewhere between Fleet Foxes and Arcade Fire. Great Litotes.

Thecocknbullkid - Clean apart - Electronica, pop, and an insect-like noise that only dogs can hear. Catchy though. [Note - Bugger the 10 words or less then]

Girls - Hellhole ratrace - San-Franciscan Glasvegas maybe? Lazy summer day.

[Bit extra on Girls - Solitude is the B-side on the 10" limited album, and is much more acoustic and still nicely summer days. Quite retro with the mouth organ and the like. I'll try to do a comprehensive unsung in due course, but if I fail it's worth mention that the album is out on 21st Sept followed by a UK tour at:

21st  London Lexington
9th Nottingham Bodega Social Club
10th Liverpool Korova 
11th Manchester Night & Day 
13th Glasgow Captain's Rest 
14th Edinburgh Sneaky Pete's
15th Leeds Brudenell Social Club
16th Bristol The Cooler 
17th Birmingham Academy 3 
19th Brighton The Albert
20th London Hoxton Bar & Kitchen
21st Tunbridge Wells Forum
23rd Cardiff SWN Festival

Casio Kids - Finn Bikkjen! - Eh? Bouncy Hot-Chip esque accompaniment, but what lyrics?

Medi and the Medicine - Excuse my French - Mentioned the band before, funky, memorable, distinct.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

TOTW28: La Roux - Bulletproof

Couple of thoughts for the week include Lady GaGa's Papparazzi and Paloma Faith's Stone Cold Sober; plus an honorable mention for the Arctic Monkeys.

Their brand spanking new album "Humbug" is out at the end of August, and Crying Lightning is already available for download as the first single before it's physical release just before the album. I've only heard it the once (well, twice, I'm playing that video as playing this), and haven't been immediately taken by it. Mind you, I'm confident I'm going to hear it a lot before it's proper release, so I'll reserve full judgement for a short while.

TOTW then is this little number:
Bulletproof is frantic, unusual, and with a distinctive and memorable chorus. The sort of song that goes just a well on the beach this summer (hey, I'm optimistic) as in a club or a trendy wine bar. And one that you can be singing for a while. Hall marks of a good pop song (as in popular music, not McFly!)

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


As it happens, imeem doesn't have the biggest selling single for 1973. It's not a huge shock, given that he's probably the most disgraced British pop artist of all time.

So, just a top 4 this week. Featuring the good (Sweet), the bad (Tony Orlando), and the Ugly (David Cassidly...)


Monday, 6 July 2009

Unsung: ila'a'noiZe

Winston mentioned this band some time ago, but I'm still miles behind and have only just got listening to them.

ila'a'noiZe (say that when you've had a few) are, in many ways, a standard indie band. Guitar led, the local twang coming through the lyrcis (singing in an accent still being popular). They've got the standard 'slow number' (Neverland); the standard rockier one with a dance beat (OBS) - we've probably heard all the same before.

And that sounds derogatory. But, it's still a format that works. Just a hint of creativity to be subtly different, and providing it's well sung and well written - just like ila'a'noiZe - it's enjoyable club music. The acid test for this sort of music is if, at a dark and dingy venue, you'd find yourself toe-tapping or bouncing around like a crazed idiot or somewhere between the two (depending on your inhibitions). You may not want to buy an album, but they're just there to let you have a good night.

The test is passed. Therefore, have a listen, and see what you think.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

TOTW27:Florence and the Machine - Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)

Last year I mentioned Florence and the Machine several times on this here blog, but there's been a significant absence recently. Although, to be fair, the last time 'Flo' had a single out was at the tail end of last year. Still, time to put that right.

The long, long awaited debut album (by me at least) "Lungs" is due out tomorrow; and the single to 'launch' it (out a few weeks now, Jun 22nd) Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up) is exactly what I've come to love from the crazy group.

OK, so maybe the opening chords remind me of Depeche Mode (see what the harp does there, you'll see why) - but conflicting harps and angelic vocals with the bellowing "Raise it Up" probably hasn't happened in many years either.

I've seen Florence compared to Kate Bush over the past year and a bit, and I think this song is the most similar we've seen - very illustrious company to be compared to. There is no genre the song really fits in, and it's an amazing hybrid on its own.

Great to see her back, and next time I'm in town I'll be visiting HMV to pick up the album to complete the set.

Bubbling Under:

The Virgins - One week of danger
Animal Collective - Summertime clothes (Can anyone else see a similarity to the Guillemots?)
La Roux - Bulletproof
Paul Carrack - Just 4 Tonite

Saturday, 4 July 2009

June Last Chance: Bat for Lashes

I've been able to have quite a selection of tracks shortlisted last month - lots very good and potentially worthy of particular praise. The shorter-shortlist for last chance included Jarvis Cocker, with a particularly retro track; and Dan Black, who hasn't been mentioned for a while, and even though Symphonies does sound a bit like Umbrella -[ella - ella], it's slightly anthemic chorus and ambitious lyrics make it a definite hit.

But, after some thought, Bat for Lashes get the last chance. They've got a fairly unusual genre, that reminds of some early 90s bands - electronic, quasi-dance, but serene and calming. It's music that you can listen to, but you don't need to - it can happen in the background and embed into your subconcious. The latter fact probably explains why it wasn't a TOTW - it was never at the forefront of my conciousness; but with counter-melodies and beautiful singing, it was always worth it.