THE VPME AWARDS 2008

2008 has been a strange year, and one I’ll generally be glad to see the back of.  I guess in global terms it’ll be defined as the year of Obama and the year those gung-ho laissez-faire capitalists decided that actually state intervention is actually a jolly good idea after all. They think it only fair that whilst profits are privatised, losses really should be socialised. Suddenly the shrill bleating about the mythical “nanny state” or” letting the market decide” from dullards who subscribe to the Daily Mail’s paranoid right wing hysteria has been inexplicably silenced.  2008 has seen the biggest government intervention and nationalisation in recent economic history, purely for the benefit of the rich and the well connected…..

However musically there have been some great moments so without further ado here are The VPME 2008 Awards………

Who will follow last year’s winners The Raveonettes ( Lust Lust Lust)?

ALBUM OF THE YEAR


Joint NO 1. “Save The World, Get The Girl”- The King Blues

“Save The World, Get The Girl”-The King Blues

The perfect blend of politics ska, punk, rap and folk. Written from the heart not the wallet. “What If Punk Never Happened” is possibly my fave song of the year.

Joint NO 1. “American Demo”- The Indelicates

“If Jeff Buckley Had Lived” By The Indelicates

The Indelicates are unlike anything another band around at the moment. “American Demo” is an, intelligent, disturbing, witty and, thought provoking album, and every right thinking person should own a copy.

3. Thomas Tantrum- Thomas Tantrum

TT came up with a fantastic debut album, hopefully they will build an even bigger fan base in 2009.

4. “ Neptune City ”- Nicole Atkins

There have been many pretenders to the thrown, but Nicole is the real deal. A timeless voice, a classic album, genius.

5. Glasvegas-Glasvegas

Glasgow ’s finest, prove,  that the hype appears to be completely justified.

6. The Bookhouse Boys-The Bookhouse Boys

The Bookhouse Boys combine surf guitar, spaghetti western, even elements of gospel, and at times sound like Nick Cave fronting The Last Shadow Puppets. Only one small gripe, would like to hear Catherine Turner’s vocals utilised to greater effect, still, a great debut.

7. “Alas I Cannot Swim” -Laura Marling

Maybe she can’t swim but she can certainly sing; mature lyrics, dark themes and beautiful melodies equal a remarkable debut album.

8. “This Gift” –Sons & Daughters

Bernard Butler’s production may have given S&D a new sense of tattered glamour but underneath the surface the fire the passion and the menace burn as brightly as ever. A fabulous band and an album that sees them scale new heights.

9. “O” Tilly And The Wall

When an album contains shouted terrace chants, girl group harmony vocals, a sonic 60’s organ, Punk Rock guitar riffs and erm… tap dance- you must ponder the inevitable question “what’s not to like?

“Pot Kettle Black” By Tilly And The Wall


10.” Velocifero”- Ladytron

The enigmatic goth-pop purveyors of layered synths and pounding drums come back with a driving, relentless blend of lush electronica and icy pop hooks. “Velocifero” draws on many influences yet still sounds unique and original.

11. “CSI Ambleside”- Half man Half Biscuit

Oft described as one of pops greatest satirists, Mr. Blackwell and his merry men produce another album that provides enough laughs, home truths and wisdom to satisfy die heard fans and maybe gain some new ones. As ever the songs also have the greatest pop song titles known to man.

“Lord Herefords Knob” By Halfman Half Biscuit


12. “The Colourful Life” – Cajun Dance Party

A debut from a band who at times conjure up a slightly more upbeat Robert Smith, or a sunnier Morrissey. It’s an album that maybe short on length but doesn’t skimp on genuine excitement and is impossible to listen to without lightening your mood.  A band with a big future.

13. “Dig Lazarus Dig”- Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds

His moustache may be big enough to support its own weather system, he may look like some sort of demented preacher from Tombstone , and it may be his 14th studio album but on “Dig Lazarus Dig” Mr. Cave sounds reinvigorated and surprisingly upbeat. Where as many middle aged rock stars would be content to amble around the golf course, Mr. Cave is still wrestling his   favorite obsessions, sex, scarlet women, death, literature, religion, fidelity and creates a world which is burrowing its way to hell, and appears to be  having quite a time getting there.

14. “Do You Like Rock Music?” – British Sea Power

Yes I do, and I also like this album, it has a HUGE sound, which retains the Psychedelic Furs /Joy Division vibe of their earlier work, and has been compared by many to The Arcade Fire. The big difference here is that British Sea Power has produced a better and a more consistent album than their Canadian brethren’s rather laboured efforts thus far.

“No Lucifer” By British Sea Power


15 “In Our Space Hero Suits”- Those Dancing Days

Their now  trade mark pounding Hammond organ underpins Linnea Jonsson’s soulful voice on an album that provides  pop hooks a plenty and proves the Swedish teen-sensations have a precocious talent for writing punky poppy C-86 Northern soul inspired tracks.

16 “The Age Of The Understatement”-The Last Shadow Puppets

Yes we know it’s a project hugely influenced By Scott Walker, that sounds comfortably familiar, yet conversely  is a breath of fresh air. What saves this record from being merely a swirling symphonic -pop pastiche is the lyrics and the swashbuckling attitude that runs through the entire project, which  manages to step outside of its obvious limitations and is prepared to take risks…  Sadly for Miles Kane it also exacerbates the obvious short comings of The Rascals debut album…ouch!

17. “A Larum”-Johnny Flynn

The  ex violin player with Emmy The Great and former choirboy’s  debut is an album that shines like a light house in the sea of so called, “British folk.” He’s also a Shakespearian actor. Oh and ladies, he’s not exactly been hit with the ugly stick either !  It’s just not fair is it?

“The Box” By Johnny Flynn


18. Santogold- Santogold

Santi Whites genre hopping album covers everything from RnB to surf punk  to sounding like Karen O fronting the B-52’s. Eclectic is the word. Here’s another two, “Top Banana”, and it really is.

19. “Fleet Foxes- Fleet Foxes

One of the more stupid statements of 2008 has to be  “I’m too young to like The Fleet Foxes” …Pfft!   …contrast that retarded remark with what Fleet Foxes Singer and chief songwriter Robin Pecknold said “All we strove for with this record was to make something that was an honest reflection of who we are, citizens of the western United States who love all kinds of music and above all else love singing.” – Enough said eh?

20. “Blue Hands”- The Hot Puppies

Initially I found this a disappointment, possibly due to the timescales between the single releases and the eventual album release date. When the album finally came into the public arena I felt I’d already heard it. Then I decided to listen to it with new ears as a whole and not skipping past the singles and tracks I was on more than nodding terms with. . It was only then I had my Boo Radley moment of clarity and understood…The Puppies are still Hot.

Single Of The Year

1. Swan Lake- Thomas Tantrum


2. Geraldine-Glasvegas

3. Bruises-Chairlift

4. America –The Indelicates

5. Beat Control- Tilly And The Wall

6. Ghosts-Ladytron

7. Pirouette-Stickboy

8. Darling- Sons & Daughters

9. Six And Three Quarters-Ipso Facto

10.  Colourful Life-Cajun Dance Party

11. Somewhere-the Hot Puppies

12. Another Version Of Pop Song –Rose Elinor Dougall

13. Let It Slip-The School

14. We Almost had A Baby-Emmy The Great

15. Five Years Time- Noah And The Whale

Quotes Of The Year:

Gordon Brown:  “We not only saved the world… “

Mark Radcliff : “ these top dogs who are obviously worth the millions they’re paid to run these companies, when they were raking in huge profits, didn’t it cross  their minds to, you know, put a bit by for when things aren’t so rosy? But it turns out they were right not to put a bit by, because now things are turning sour, everybody chips in to see them right”

Monster Bobby (On the many departures from The Pipettes); Nobody held a gun to Rose and Becki’s head and forced them to leave”

Von Pip:So you’re no Phil Spector then?”

Frankie Boyle, referring to Michael Jackson; “He has to live the life of a Scooby Doo villain, hanging around in a deserted fairground with a plastic face”;

And questioning plans to give Margaret Thatcher a £3m state funeral

“For that money you could buy every person in Glasgow a shovel so they can dig a hole so deep they can hand her to Satan personally”

Gigs Of The Year

1. Jesus And Mary Chain /Black Box Recorder/British Sea Power The Forum London 27/10/2008
2. Glasvegas Liverpool Barfly
3. Sons and Daughters/ Eugene McGuiness/ Lightspeed Champion- Academy 2 Liverpool
4. Laura Marling – Zanzibar Club Liverpool
5. Billy Bragg- Liverpool Philharmonic.

Ones To Watch 2009

Ipso Facto, Sound Of Guns, Stickboy, Thomas Tantrum, Little Boots, Wintersleep, Emmy The Great, Paloma Faith,  Vote Show Pony , Mumford and Sons, The Tamborines, Eugene McGuiness,  Doll And The Kicks, Detox Cute & The Beauty Junkies,The King Blues, The Bookhouse Boys, Skint And Demoralised, Howling Bells, Catherine AD and Fight Like Apes

Little Boots

Little Boots

“Alcatraz” By Sound Of Guns

These lads have caused  moistness a-plenty in the pants of A&R men this year, they’ve also been getting rave reviews for their live performances and have a lead singer whose been compared to everybody from Jim Morrison to Ian McCulloch.

“Into The Chaos”  By Howling Bells

Howling Bells will be releasing their second album  in 09, and if it’s as good as  2006’s  darkly  brooding first offering we’re in for a treat.  Juanita Stein’s gorgeous vocals could well be haunting your dreams this year.


“Something Global” By Fight Like Apes

Mad as F**k!! Unpretentious electro-punk fun, their debut album””And The Mystery Of The Golden Medallion”  released in the UK on 26th January, should see them breakthrough to the big time in 2009


Video Of The Year

The Indelicates – America


Proof that you can capture the essence and atmosphere of a song without flashy CGI effects or Simon Le Bon clamping his flabby thighs around the reinforced hull of some champagne Charlie’s yacht. Just raid Stuart Goddard’s wardrobe for  costumes, mix in some  decent editing, a bit of passion and sing like you mean it!

Lyric Of The Year

National Shite Day“-Half Man Half Biscuit

“There’s a man with a mullet going mad with a mallet in Millets…
I try to put everything into perspective,
Set it against the scale of human suffering
And I thought of the Mugabe government
And the children of the Calcutta railways
This works for a while
But then I encounter Primark FM
Overhead a rainbow appears
In black and white

Shite Day..
I guess this must be National Shite Day

Websites Of The Year

Fan site

Light From A Dead Star

Best Music  Site:

The Quietus

TV Of The Year:

Dr Who, Heroes, Dexter, Gavin And Stacey, Mock The Week.

Irritation

Borrell, Alpha*f**kin”Beat, Kaiser Chiefs, guilty pleasure pop (wow, a new way to market “SHITE” !)

Highlight Of The Year

Bye Bye Bush, hello Obama

But what of our chums, contributors, collaborators and supporters? How was 2008 for them?

JOHN MOORE: (Black Box Recorder, The Jesus And Mary Chain, The Expressway):

Rather bad news on the record of the year front I’m afraid. It appears that I haven’t brought any, and have successfully avoided almost everything – it’s the way to be! However, I have been listening “To Raindrops Keeps Falling On My Head” By Sacha Distel, “ Dessert Shore ” By Nico, Hank Williams, The Cramps, Laughing Lenny Cohen, and the great works of the legendary Black Box Recorder – for pleasure and professional purposes.

Were I to come up with a list of records I’d like to have seen made in 2008, I’d have paid good money to hear Gordon Brown cover “I’ve Got Cocaine, Running Around My Brain,” Karen Matthews doing “Material Girl”, and Osama Bin Laden doing the Ink Spot’s “I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire – I Just Want To Start A Flame In Your Heart.” That concludes the voting from London .

MATHEW HORNE (Probably best known at present as Gavin, from one of our fave TV shows Gavin And Stacy, as well as The Catherine Tate Show, 20 Things To Do Before You’re 30, and Teachers. In 2009 he ‘ll be appearing on the West End in Joe Orton’s “Entertaining Mr Sloane” and starring with James Corden in their movie “Lesbian Vampire Killers”)

“My Top Five are

Foals – Antidotes
British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music?
The Whip – X-Marks Destination
Black Kids – Partie Traumatic
Late of the Pier – Fantasy Black Channel”

JULIA INDELICATE: (The Indelicates)

“Dance and Walk” (album) by No Bra. they did that Munchausen’s song, and are quite cool shit…who came out this year? I keep getting asking this question, and I can’t for the life of me say… argh. erm…Goldfrapp’s one I suppose I like that… and err…”Songs In A and E” by Spiritualized, though these are really just ones I might like if I actually listened to music, so I probably shouldn’t be playing really…how many have I got? … one more… um…Jesus, it’s been a TERRIBLE year for albums. I’ve just been looking at the Amazon list… lord god they’re terrible…I suppose we should put the Thlyds album ‘I Dun Lewis’s Mum’. that’s a cracker. Highlights of the year, Obama becoming president, Heroes TV series, the Caged Virgin (book) by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, The Dark Knight, Germaine Greer on “Never Mind The Buzzcocks,” and my album “American Demo.” Oh and the stage version of Cabaret in London was probably one of my favourite things of the year. It has one of the hardest endings to witness ever, and resulted in me being unable to leave the theatre due to UNCONTROLLABLE sobbing :/

SIMON INDELICATE: (The Indelicates) “My favourite album of the year was by Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong, because it doesn’t exist.”

REBECCA STEPHENS (Electric Blue, Into Cinders)

“Born Ruffians – Red, Yellow and Blue
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
Laura Marling – Alas, I Cannot Swim
Grace Jones – Hurricane
Santogold – Santogold”

LAURA TROUBLE  AND OLLIE POUND – (Screaming Ballerinas)

Laura:

“Radiohead -In Rainbows
Late Of The Pier-Fantasy Black Channel
Mystery Jets –Twenty One
Laura Marling- Alas I Cannot Swim
Vampire Weekend-Vampire Weekend”

Ollie:

“1. Elbow – Seldom Seen Kid
2. Friendly Fires – Friendly Fires
3. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
4. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
5. Band Of Horses – Cease To Begin Rinas”

THOM (The Gresham Flyers)

“1. The Features – Some Kind of Salvation
2. Pas/Cal – I Was Raised On Matthew Mark Luke & Laura
3. Grace Jones – Hurricane
4. Tindersticks – The Hungry Saw
5. Sparks – Exotic Creatures Of The Deep”

NICOLE ATKINS

Nicole Atkins & The Sea

Nicole Atkins & The Sea

“1. The Melvins- Nude With Boots
2. The Last Shadow Puppets- The Age Of The Understatement
3. Jay Reatard- Singles
4. Black Mountain- In The Future
5. Fleet Foxes- Fleet Foxes”

EMMY THE GREAT

“Beach House – Devotion
Adam Green -Sixes and Sevens
Why? – Alopecia
Lightspeed Champion – Falling Off The Lavender Bridge
Eugene McGuiness – Eugene McGuiness
Wild beasts – Limbo, Panto”

DOGWOOD

“Hello Dogwood here, settle down.

Master Von Pip has asked me to voice opinion on my five favourite albums of the year and other highlights.  I suppose it has to be this year doesn’t it? Yes? Thought so, otherwise I would have included my self-made C60 cassette compilation of Lancastrian marching songs which I put together in the summer of 1974.  Strange summer 1974, full of Zairean footballers doing ludicrous things and girls in Hayley Mills tank tops.  That’s the year I discovered bri-nylon that is.

Back to the present, 2008 was hardly a vintage year for albums in my book although I made some interesting discoveries like those lasses in Ipso Facto.  There’s a lot of things that I don’t “do” but among the things that I do “do” (dooby doo) are sulky looking young lasses in Mary Quant tops.  I also “do” Diana Rigg in a leather cat suit, Jenny Agutter in a next to nothing slip in “Logan’s Run” and Joan Sim’s gym teacher in “Carry On Teacher.”

No, 2008 left me most of the time in a state of audio confusion, a fog of bewildered thoughts with the occasional torch beam that illuminated a way out.  One such beam was that lot, Glasvegas.  I have nowt but admiration for a well sculptured quif and a motorbike jacket these days, anyone who can strut thus in a sea of track suits and skinny jeans has got to have true grit.  I also like the fusion of Glasgow and Johnny Vegas, it suggests hard drinking surreal comedy with a rock’n’roll edge.  But then someone said it was Glasgow and Las Vegas which brings a whole “Siegfried and Roy” element to the game.  But I’m in a tolerant mood so let’s overlook any potential tendency towards camp Germanic magic glitz.  In fact, there’s no such evidence to suggest that Glasvegas incorporate this kind of coco.  No, if anything Glasvegas look like The Clash and sound like The Shangri-la’s, which can only be a good thing.  The album is full of ‘boom-BA-boom-tssh’ Phil Spector moments but with pithy stories of everyday folk.  It is a logbook of the dirt underneath the tenements of Glasgow , the burger burp of a weedgie drunk in your face, a wee swally of Tennants Superbrew.  In other words, rough but real.

Having found that particular oasis, I looked for another oasis.  Not that one, not the one with the feller that looks like Parker from Thundercats and badmouths everyone else and thinks that he’s Bingo Starr.  Why would I want to listen to Status bloody Quo?  No the next Preston in a sea of Burnley ’s is the Portishead album.  Portishead are an old feller, a blonde attractive middle aged lass and a younger beardy bloke and they hadn’t recorded an album for ten years – if only the same could be said for Oasis.  Now I don’t normally do German machine shop noises and all that, Kraftwerk were the reason I spent a night in the cells in Haltwhistle in 1975.  ‘Third’ so called because they wanted to do a tribute to Thora Hird (T-hird = Third) is like listening to a computer booting up as if it had been programmed by Vaughn Williams.  In other words, rather lovely.   There’s a few sprightly tunes that put me in a the mood to walk up to the likes of Wilmot-Bwona (our local council diversity champion) and those other self-appointed politically correct do gooders who cancel Christmas and force us to celebrate Kwanza and get a wedge of Stollen and shove it where the sun don’t shine.  Empowerment, that’s what this album delivers.

Sir Timothy Of Burgess

My third Valhalla of the year is The Charlatans album which I downloaded for nowt from XFM and which makes it the best VFM album this year.  I mentioned elsewhere on the VPME reviews that I very much admired Tim Burgess and his medieval Henry V hair-do.  My female friend Sandra-Joyce plays an Abbess in these medieval dressing up re-enactment type things and she says that The Charlatans are the first band since Jethro Tull to provide an authentic medieval soundtrack to their middle-aged gadding about.  For that reason and also because they’re a bloody decent bunch of fellers, I like very much.

Monkey

My fourth Penny Smith (one of a quintet of TV lovelies – Her, Lorraine Kelly, Jane MacDonald, Linda Bellingham and the other Mrs Herriot, Carol Drinkwater – who is the best of the lot – who shine light on my life) is “Monkey Journey To The West.”  An odd choice you may think, especially for someone who doesn’t like Chinese food – bloody birds nest soup.  But not so odd  see, I like Albarn and the other feller and I’d much rather watch their cartoon characters than Ed, Edd and Eddy or whatever animated claptrap exists in this day and age.  The music is pleasant, it plinkety plonks along, tells a story which is more than can be said about Phil Collins who can just sing laments about being left because of his premature baldness.  What’s more it has the holy trinity of a monkey, a pig and a fish plus a monk called Tripataka, now that’s class that is.  I’ve had a lot of trouble with monkeys down the years and I’m a bit undecided on whether it’s their comedic value or ability to rip your face off that I find most appealing.  Pigs are delicious and fish are…well…aquatic creatures.  Less said the better there.

My last choice is Beck.  Now Beck is American.  Don’t know if you knew that but he is, so there.  He makes the sort of racket that the bohemians next door to me practise their surf dancing to, at 2am in the morning, suffice to say that drives me up the wall but when you hear something enough times you fall in love with it.  I love this album, not in a sexy way, but a kind of peck on the cheek sort of way.  It’s like a pair of Farah’s, functional and yet a design classic that holds shape during the most vigorous shakedown at the local discothèque.  That’s French, by the way, for disco.

As for other annual highlights, here’s a few thoughts:

Last episode of Dr Who, when that bloody harridan Catherine Tate lost her memory and was written out.  Hoorah I cried but what a waste of a bloody series having her inane chavness ruin what should be a chav free zone.  I’ve come to trust Russell T Grant less and less as time goes by; I think the fellers obsessed with celebrity.  He’s like a more subdued Alan Carr only without the Banana Splits face.  “Dogwood Who and The Faerie,” my own effort, was much better.

Being voted Cheambeat Communications Thinking Woman’s Crumpet for 2008.  Apparently, the fact that I make absolutely no attempt to exude any charm whatsoever makes me the man that woman of a certain age want to tame.  Tame? What am I a bloody feral cat?  Still it’s nice to know that I can have my pick of the Darby and Jones Club.  I’ve had exactly 3.2 sexual experiences this year, that’s enough for any Tom, Dick or Damian Hirst.

Sandra Faerie – she’s my best female mate although she probably doesn’t think that I’m her best male mate.  Despite the fact that she causes me no end of grief with her sarcastic interjections and stand-offishness, she is a worthy sparring partner and I would say that the current score is all level at half-time with Dogwood having a goal disallowed.  She is a creative lass and her work on ‘Dogwood Who’, ‘Hotel’ and the latest bonanza ‘Gibson and Rubnut’, a kind of Professionals for the 21st century is actually very good.

VPME – Becoming a regular contributor to this fine epistle has been one of my highlights.  Getting recognised as one of the best bloody online music blogs is well deserved.

Well that’s enough High Cockalorum from me, time to bed down for Christmas and New Year.

My New Years resolution is more lace brassieres on women.

Settle down

Dogwood”

JONNY COLA & THE A-GRADES

“1. Bloc Party – Intimacy
2. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
3. Little Jackie – The Stoop
4. Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid
5. Guns ‘n’ Roses – Chinese Democracy”

NICK LEVINE (TTT)

“M83 – Saturdays=Youth
Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours
Ladyhawke – Ladyhawke
Air France – On Trade Winds
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart”

WILLIAM EMMS (The Bookhouse Boys)

The Bookhouse Boys

“My top 5 albums in no particular order have been

Havilah – The Drones
Dear Science – TV on the Radio
Lie Down in the light – Bonnie Prince Billy
A Larum – Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit
Instant Coffee Baby – The Wave Pictures

With special mentions to The Walkmen, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, MGMT and Laura Marling.

Personal Bookhouse Boys highlights have been:

Getting the album out into the world
Recording a live session for Radio 1 at BBC Maida Vale
Selling out the ICA
Playing our biggest show at Latitude Festival
And last but not least, having a great time playing music with my friends and family.

Personal Musical Highlights:

The Minotaur – The Drones
Brown Trout Blues – Johnny Flynn
Love Song – Lesley Duncan
Walk Don’t Run – Herman Dune
Sigur Ros Live at Latitude
Feist at the Royal Albert Hall”

MISTER LION: (VPME Illustrator and East Anglian Correspondent)

“I’d like to begin by saying that I don’t really truck with this list-making malarkey; competition between works of artistic endeavour is like asking whether air is better than water. However, I’ve been asked for my “top five”, so I’ll dutifully comply. I would just like it noted that, in what has been a genuinely top year for music (as long as you haven’t been watching X Factor), there are at the very least a dozen other albums from 2008 which I love as much as any of those listed here. Ask me on another day, the list would be different. Anyway, here goes, in no particular order…

Blue Hands by the Hot Puppies

It gets into your head, under your skin and you wake up in the middle of the night with the lyrics preying on your mind. If Under The Crooked Moon was just the beginning of a mystery story, then this second chapter sucks us further into that world. The metaphors and iconography resonate with a contemporary urgency, told as they are in powerful, haunting vocals and engaging, otherworldly sounds, and one can only hope that this album finds a wider audience over time considering the tragic lack of fanfare that accompanied its release.

Seventh Tree by Goldfrapp

Never ones to adhere to formula or trends, Goldfrapp this year muted the electro-pop image in favour of a much more earthy look and sound which would sit quite comfortably alongside the soundtrack to The Wicker Man. It’s undeniably them, but they’ve successfully pushed their pop machine forward by drawing on the folk sounds of the past. You can get lost in this album, so keep a wary eye out for Britt Ekland and ChristopherLee.

Stainless Style by Neon Neon

Throwbacks to the eighties are everywhere at the moment, with mixed results – the excellent debut from  Ladyhawke being one of the positive ones – but Gruff Rhys of the Super Furry Animals and experimental producer Boom Bip managed to ably justify their homage to the era with this collaboration. The concept album is an awkward creature, but this retelling of the rise and fall of visionary, delusional car-maker John DeLorean strikes a perfect balance of genres, tempos and moods, even proving that rap – a field I’m usually averse to on account of its commonly negative subject matter – works exceptionally well when employed as a narrative tool.

American Demo by the Indelicates

If all the angst, dreams, discovery, speculation, yearning and disillusionment one feels as a student of the arts (I’ve been there, so bear with me) could be poured into musical form, it would sound like the Indelicates. Hopping genres, telling stories and shouting the truth – however ugly it may be – from the rooftops, my year would have been a quieter, sadder, duller place without this album.

Way To Normal by Ben Folds

Fears that Ben Folds had finally settled down with his pipe and slippers, depleted of the energy to fill entire albums anymore were thankfully not borne out in his latest LP. Sadly it appears from many of the lyrics that his divorce from the mother of his children has been the primary fuel for the fire, but the result flies off this CD with all the vigour of the earliest Ben Folds Five material. One assumes the overt misogyny is ironic – he hasn’t wasted any time in marrying again – but this album manages to couple the expected heartfelt melancholy and observational wit with some nice musical surprises.”

NEAL ZETTER (Poet)

“Albums

Indelicates –American Demo
Ting Tings –We Started Nothing
Ladytron -Velocifero
Last Shadow Puppets- Age Of The Understatement
Sons & Daughters- This Gift

Most likely for 09:

Little Boots, Florence and the Machine

4 tracks I couldn’t stop playing

That’s Not My Name- The Ting-Tings
We Almost Had a Baby-Emmy The Great
Stuck on Repeat and Medldle- Little Boots

Not so likely as their music isn’t quite so mainstream but I hope they make it big: Emmy the Great,Slow Club, Jay Jay Pistolet, Peggy Sue

Musical hope?

New Regina Spektor and Dresden Dolls albums and tours

Sad demise:

Dirty Pretty things , Dead Disco, The Pipettes, Dead 60’s, Milburn.

Biggest disappointment

Ladytron’s rubbish sound system at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in Nov – worst gig I’ve ever attended

Best gig

Sparks (yes Sparks ) at Shepherds Bush Empire (end of their 21 albums 21 nights tour/residency)”

POPPY AND THE JEZEBELS

Poppy & The Jezebels

Poppy & The Jezebels

“First up – Dig Lazarus, Dig! by Nick Cave – always the object of much luv here at Jezeworld HQ.

Welcome to Goon Island by XX Teens

Something Clockwork This Way Comes by Spider and The Flies

Visions Arise on 45 by S.c.u.m on Loog records … they’re fantastic live and we’re looking forward to hearing new stuff in 2009,

Oh… and Dom loves the Fleet Foxes album…”

LILY RAE

“1. Skeletal Lamping by Of Montreal
2. Kala by M.I.A.
3. Third by Portishead
4. Meo suo i eyrum vio spilum endalaust by Sigur Ros
5. Seventh Tree by  Goldfrapp
6. Harps and Angels by  Randy Newman.

My personal highlight of the year (aside from the obvious presidential elections and turning eighteen) was Rich Kid, Poor Kid on Channel 4. I still haven’t decided whether it was hilariously tragic or just tragically tragic.”

NEIL DEL PARTO/Planting Seeds Records

“1.  Fleet Foxes “Fleet Foxes” (Subpop)
2.  M83 “Saturdays=Youth” (Mute)Explorers Club “Freedom Wind” ( Dead Ocean )
3.  The Last Shadow Puppets “The Age Of The Understatement” (Domino)
4.  Blitzen Trapper “Furr” (Subpop)
5.  Explorers Club “Freedom Wind” ( Dead Ocean )

More Highlights:

1. International Jetsetters “Heart Is Black” EP (Planting Seeds)
2. International Jetsetters acoustic live sets in New York/New Jersey ( Brooklyn , NYC, WFMU)
3. The Jesus And Mary Chain’s “Power Of Negative Thinking” Box + ” All Things Must Pass ” track
4. The Jesus And Mary Chain live London (The Roundhouse) and in Los Angeles (Gibson Amphitheatre)
5.  There are way too many highlights but 2008 was all good…”

DAVID HEULUN ( VPME London Correspondent)

“1. BARRY ADAMSON ‘Back to the Cat’
The master of dark cinematic soul delivers his ‘pop’ album – and it was
perfect.

2. EAGLES OF DEATH METAL ‘Heart On’
These guys get better with every release. With ‘Heart On’ they reach new levels of boogie-tastic raunchy rock n’ roll deliciousness! Brings a
smile to the lips and a lump to the pants!

3. JENNY LEWIS ‘Acid Tongue’
More quality from the fabulous Ms Lewis. A raw ‘live-in-the-studio’ country-rock album. She makes proper albums where every track matters-and puts on a hell of a live show.

4. DENGUE FEVER ‘Venus on Earth’
Cambodian psychedelic pop-rock anyone? Yes please! This magical album will delight even the most jaded, bitter and twisted music lovers!

5. THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS ‘The Age of the Understatement’
To be honest the album’s galloping pace kinda runs out of steam near the end but the first three quarters are so utterly fantastic it makes my top five. And I will officially join the throngs proclaiming Alex Turner one of the finest lyricists of our time.”

VOTE SHOW PONY

“1- MGMT Oracular spectacular
2- Neon Neon Stainless steel
3- Hercules & Love Affair
4- Lykke Li Youth Novels
5- Friendly Fires”

DETOX CUTE & THE BEAUTY JUNKIES

“Our Fave albums are

Sparks “Exotic Creatures Of The Deep”

Utterly bonkers, of course, but what else would you expect from the Mael Brothers? Their 21st album is packed with the usual humour, wit and clever orchestrations found on all the previous 20 although unlike bands like Oasis who just never seem to change, the songs are never repetetive and there’s always a surprise gem or two hidden inside one of Ron Mael’s beautiful, multi-layered arrangements. Oh, and with a single entitled ‘Lighten Up Morrissey’ it surely sends out a message to all those rock stars who take themseleves far too seriously. Yes, Chris Martin, this means you!

Flight of the Conchords “Flight of the Conchords”

Ah, the old song parody routine! Never fear listeners, these ain’t no Hale and Pace, nor even more thankfully French and Saunders!  Sheer comic delight backed up with the kind of musical dexterity last seen and heard coming from Neil Innes’s piano on the Rutles’ DVD. These are decent songs in their own right, never mind the fact that they’re also hilariously funny, without resorting to stupidity – a lazy trait often used by the aforementioned F&S. Marvellous.

Acid House Kings “Sings Along With The Acid House Kings”

Ok, this came out last year but I only discovered it this year – bright, bouncy, overtly commercial Swedish pop done as only the Swedes know how – that is, they know they’re poppy and not angsty, indie with serious faces and they don’t care. It’s music to be enjoyed, pure and simple.

Other highlights: The Shout Out Louds, Ladyhawke, The Cure (the fact that they’re still going), Oasis failing in America again ha ha ha and Take That continuing to piss off Robbie Williams for being better than him.

Lowlights: Cowell, Razorlite continuing to have a career, anyone in the music business demanding money.”

JIMMY SHIVERS (Thomas Tantrum)

“Vivian Girls – Vivian Girls
No Age – Nouns..
Polysics – We Ate The Machine
Rivers Cuomo – Alone 2 : The Home Recordings
Johnny Foreigner – Waited Up ‘Til Was Light”

Not everyone enjoyed 2008 though

MILES HUNT (The Wonder Stuff)

“I just typed ‘2008’ into my i-Tunes & as I expected, nothing came up. A shite year for music.”

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Merry Christmas

Illustration  Mister Lion

Thanks for your support in 2008.  Too many to mention but Mark the tall man, Paul T and Ad, Laura, Ollie, Neal, Chris, Elz, Fran , Nicole, Julia, Simon, Rob Dobbs, Neil at Planting Seeds, Jim And Julie Reid, Saint Rachael, John Moore, Dave (pronounced Siadwell ), Emma, Miki, Emma, Phil, Kerry,  Marcella, Dave Cromwell, Dogwood, Bethan Elfyn, Spencer, Czoe, Philippe, Linda, Ben, Nick, Sorcha, William, Dandelion Radio, Matt and Jason, Alistair, JK, Becki, Richard the Goth,Paisley & Charlie, Probe Records, Sally Shoegaze, the Holmlands Estate  and all the good guys out there, you know who you are…And of course all the great f**king bands out there who keep doing it, despite the setbacks, the sh*t and the corporate bollocks that sometimes goes on , we salute you !…. Have a lovely Christmas folks…see you soon.

“Don’t Murder Hallelujah” By Mitch Benn

Xmas Greetings From the Von Pips  and “Stay Another Day” – Glasvegas

THE VPME CHRISTMAS VIDEO

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A Christmas Message From Dogwood!

Renowned social commentator,  style guru and the VPME’s “Common Sense Tsar,” Oliver Gordon Dogwood,  joins us for a seasonal exclusive and airs his views on, amongst other things, the world wide Harry Webb…. Settle Down………you might learn something…..

Dogwoods Christmas message…..

“There’s a time and a place for Cliff Richard apparently – not in my book sonny Jim, there’s never a place or time for that conceited alternative son of God, thank you very much.  So why start with him?  Why start with the idiot that’s  always bleating on about how the Devil has all the good music?  Because all that is bad about Christmas – the pious Christian bleating, the rampant commercialism, the ruthless exploitation of people’s sentimentality – is at the core of the Rich Clifford credo.

When Cliff Christ walked around on his 40th birthday wearing a pair of flared leather trousers and white brothel creepers singing ‘it’s so funny…blah blah blah’, I let it go.  Here’s a man thought I, who should know better but obviously doesn’t because when he looks in the mirror he probably gives himself a hard on.  I threw a few cushions about when I saw him gadding about on a pair of roller skates with walkman headphones trying to be all Bow Wow Wow (i.e. his interpretation of C30 C60 C90 Go!) getting ‘Wired For Sound’

In Preston,  ‘getting wired’ is a euphemism for taking a bit of Billy Whizz but I suppose Cliff the Saviour has no need of chemical stimulant.  I bit my fist when we discovered that, no, Carrie does not live here anymore, yes she had the room on the second floor but no, she had left no forwarding address that was known to me.

I tried to  exercise my increasing rage , but what sent me over the edge and into a night in the cells was the cynical attempts to cop a No.1 at Christmas through claptrap like ‘Misseltoe and Wine’, ‘Daddy’s Home’’ ‘Saviours Day’ and ‘Millennium Prayer’.  This feller, who struggles to sprout bumfluff appeared on the video of  “Daddy’s Home “ with some right gay stubble or it could be gravy browning, like the lasses used in WWII to paint their legs to give the impression of wearing stockings.  I don’t know if Cliff wears stockings, uses gravy browning on his legs or even draws a seam up the back of his leg with an eye liner pencil. Neither do I know whether the video intimates that he has just come out of the “Nick”or has returned home from his oil rig job in time for Christmastime.  What is clear is that the video shows that he hangs round with a right bunch of hard nuts down the local pool hall.

Jesus Richards and Christmas Singles, is alas,  a combination that has me reaching for the revolver.

So what does tickle Dogwood’s festive stick?  Well, let’s get it straight – I don’t go in for your usual Yuletide pop paraphernalia of tinsel hair goons singing “I wish it could be Christmas everyday” but compared to the cynical timing of the X-Factor winner’s single hi-jacking, yet again, the Christmas number one, with their karaoke claptrap, that’s hi-culture.  This year they’re going to kick the arse out of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ which despite his gloomy outlook on life is actually rather a lovely tune.  Now every Tom, Dick and Chavvy will be belching it out and what should be a celebratory ode will become an oafish clarion call.  I don’t do “X-Factor” but have noticed one of them who looks like a cross between a Morlock from the Time Machine and a Hobbit – a Morbit or a Hoblock.   I imagine he goes down well at The “Prancing Pony” Karaoke night down at Bree and in other Watney’s Pubs in the Shire.

No, to get into the mood I go for the old Perry Como and ‘The Whole World Needs a Christmas Tree’ from “The Odessa File.” I put on the original 7” 45 on my Dancette and imagine that I am hunting down ex-Nazi war criminals whilst trimming the tree with a pair of garden shears.  There’s nowt more festive than that.

Women love me at Christmas, I don’t know what it is, maybe my innate sense of self-importance and gender superiority, but they are forever dangling a sprig of Holly over my head.  Now I don’t do tongues at Christmas, especially not to ‘Last Christmas’ when a plethora of non-festive thoughts of coppers in public toilets spring to mind.  Fair kills the mood that does.

For some reason, the girls at the office, having got me my annual box-set of ‘Hai Karate’, all want to play Kirtsy MacColl to my Shane McGowan when ‘The Fairytale of New York’ comes on the works disco.  They particularly articulate the words ‘You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot, Happy Christmas my arse, I pray God it’s our last’.  I take this outrageous flirting all in good faith, it’s part of the Christmas ritual that never goes anywhere because the closing song is ‘Missletoe and Wine’ by which point I have become a weapon of mass destruction, ending up in the cells for the night as afore-mentioned.

“A Fairytale Of New York” – The Pogues And Kirsty MacColl

Much as I think that Justin Timberbrain is an idiot, I did admire his band The Darkness in their attempt to crack things open with a retro festive rockpiece a few years back.  Unfortunately for them it was thwarted by a depressing dirge cover of that bloody band Tears for Fears with their pompous oaf Olzabel, or whatever his name is.

The Darkness ” Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End”)

So Christmas confuses and confounds in equal measure on the music front – I don’t want to hear Mariah Carey telling me all she wants for Christmas is me because I’m not interested love, you’re far too high maintenance.  Neither do I want to hear Mel Smith exerting Kim Wilde to rock around the Christmas tree, nor Sir Elton Buggy stepping into Christmas in his mincy court shoes.  None of that will suffice – but Greg Lake will thank you very much.

Why didn’t Lush do a Christmas song that’s what I want to know?”

Dogwood Introduces His Favourite Christmas Tune

“Christmas Dream” By Perry Como 😉

DOGWOOD GOES TELEVISUAL

The Xmas Message

And a short message at the behest of Cheambeat Communications

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The Christmas Alternative

STOP COWELL SIGN UP HERE

Tis that special time of the year when everything is a glitter, fairy lights twinkle and hearts are full of festive joy, yes it sounds just like any other day in Browns Britain, a place where dreams really do come true…..

However one of the many musical Christmas traditions , that has slowly had the joy extracted from it, is the battle for the Christmas No. 1. It used to be a bit of harmless fun, and occasionally we would be in luck and a bright shiny sixpence would turn up amongst the stodgy musical Christmas puddings. But of late the Christmas number one has been stolen by a smug, business man, who cares about music as about as much as George Bernard Shaw cared for Christmas. Yes Simon Cowell has stolen the Christmas No.1 spot and has ensured that his tatty brand of karaoke complete with cabaret warblers and men’s working club house bands will secure that once coveted slot . And its not right is it ? There are plenty of good Christmas songs released every year that don’t get a look in, well we want that to change, we want the X-Factor to become the Ex-Factor and so we offer you the VPME Christmas alternatives…

This SHOULD be Christmas No.1 and stop the abomination that is Alexandra Burke murdering “Hallelujah”

“Hallelujah” By Jeff Buckley (DOWNLOAD HERE)

Josh Weller And Paloma Faith -“It’s Christmas( And I Hate You”.)

The best Christmas duet since  Shane and Kirsty.

Glasvegas– (A Snowflake Fell And It Felt Like A Kiss)


A great year for Glasgow’s finest, rounded off with a festive treat, and a song that’s already become a Christmas classic in Von Pip Towers!

The Raveonettes-Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

The Raveonettes’ Christmas songs are becoming as much a part of Christmas as turkey and binge drinking. This years offering includes this rather fab version of a Christmas classic. Get The EP HERE

Fleet Foxes– White Winter Hymnal

A lovely song from a great album

2008 saw the end  of Woolworths and The Long Blondes so ….

The Long Blondes-Christmas Is Cancelled


Argos is usually busy this time of year, and despite the credit crunch this year’s no exception. Eddie Argos’ side project Glamchops release a free Christmas single “Countdown To Christmas/Baby Jesus Was A Glam Rocker”-Download ’em from HERE

Glamchops -“Baby Jesus Was The First Glam Rocker”

Last year Eddie joined forces with John Moore , Sarah Nixey, Luke Haines and  Keith Top Of  The Pops to release “Christmas Number 1 “…erm…it wasn’t….

And of course Christmas isn’t Christmas without Cliff 😉

The Double Deckers“The Cliff-mas Song”


And for those who prefer a gloomier take on Christmas ,

Jonny Cola and The A-Grades-“Christmas Everyday

Julia Indelicate-“Ghosts Of My Christmas Past”

Julia Indelicate’s Christmas ditty is so good it’s been  known to bring out the green-eyed monster in other songwriters……

Whilst The Wombats release a single for charity, all proceeds going to MENCAP, which you can order HERE

The Wombats-“Is This Christmas?”

Over the last few years Cherryade records have released their annual Christmas complication “A Very Cherry Christmas,” which is packed full of great  seasonal tunes such as

A Smile And A Ribbon-“Heavenly Christmas”

and The Gresham Flyers “Diamond White Christmas”


and for cover versions have a listen to  Little Boots  version of  “Last Christmas”

Or Weezers take on “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”

Or Nicole Atkins “Blue Christmas”

Asobi Seksu -Merry Xmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)

Or Even Maths And Physics Clubs “Marshmallow World”

Finally Liz Hunt and The School want to” Kiss You In The Snow”, which you wouldn’t really argue with…

The School-“Kiss You In The Snow”

and Xmas ain’t Xmas without Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens “All The Kings Horns”

For more Festive treats go here and check out last years seasonal blog featuring Miki Berenyi, Chartlotte Hatherley, Adobi Seksu etc .

HAPPY CHRISTMAS one and all!!xxx



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The VPME Review-December 2008.

 

Well with Christmas almost upon us the new releases have been “patchy” at best. Our team look into the open fire of pop and attempt to discover if there are any musical chestnuts worth roasting, or otherwise…

THE PANEL

Dogwood (presenter of Cheambeat Communication Musical Memories)
Modern music gives Dogwood a pain in the crack, but he does like to tell the young folk where they are going wrong. Listen and learn kids.

Paisley & Charlie (Detox Cute and The Beauty Junkies )Purveyors of perfect pop, St Etienne meet Dubstar at the disco at the end of the universe.

William Emms (The Bookhouse Boys) The VPME love The Bookhouse Boys and tip them for big things in 2009.  Pop Trivia factoid: William has the longest beard in the band. So now you know.

Guy Henderson (The Molotovs) Guy plays in The Molotovs, they will be releasing a single soon, and it should do very very well and see them feted as gods … if theres any justice ..

Darren (Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation)Darren oversees   Sheffield  based Indie label Thee SPC which is one of the most influential labels in the Yorkshire  area, and gave early breaks to the likes of Arctic Monkeys and The Long Blondes.

Neal Zetter (Poet)Neal likes to pass the time,
talking to strangers via rhyme.

Reenie Hollis (Long Blondes, Bon-Bon Club) Reenie was a member of  the now defunct Long Blondes and is the  driving force behind the ace  Bon -Bon Club.

Von PipBecause he’s worth it.

Grace Jones – Williams’ Blood


WILLIAM: Great bass line, beautiful strings, cool little rock out section and Grace Jones making no excuses on the top. Like some long lost awesome disco number produced by massive attack. Amazing Grace indeed.

REENIE: I can imagine listening to this on a high-end wireless home entertainment system. Though I actually heard this on Radio 2, on my mini-digi-radio, and thought it was the new Bond Theme. It’s BIG.

DOGWOOD: Let’s get one bloody thing straight – I don’t “do” Grace Jones, I found her a confusing proposition in the eighties not helped that she appeared in one of the worst Bonds of all time.  I don’t know what she’s meant to be, an Amazonian piece of feist – all snarls and classic cheekbones, or a man hating he-she.  I remember she gave Russell Harty a bit of a slapping but then he generally deserved that sort of treatment.  So I come to this song utterly perplexed and I leave this song utterly perplexed.  It left absolutely no impression on me this song, no, honestly it finished not 30 seconds ago and I’ve completely forgotten it.  I’ll play it again…..hang on…..no, no good I’m thinking of what wallpaper paste I’m going to use to wallpaper the spare room.  I might go for B&Q’s, that’s usually reliable.  Oh sorry, I should be reviewing the song.  Wait there, I’ll play it a third time….yes, it’s started….now what time is Little Dorrit on?  No, I simply can’t do this – it’s like white noise.  Dogwood says this song is neither good or bad, it’s just a vacuous void in which all life and animation seems to have disappeared…..(eight hours late, a dozing Dogwood abruptly awakes)….What?

GUY: This track has grown on me and it has a certain charm you can’t get away from. The overall production and sound puts me in mind of the 90’s Bristol scene from the likes of Massive Attack, particularly the subtle percussive interjections. The track has a lush melody with uplifting backing vocals and this fits well with the lyrical mood. Her vocal quality is the main strength in the track. This is underpinned and complemented well by the hypnotic bassline running through. However I do feel certain elements have spoilt the track. The melange of sweeping synths has a cheap feel to them and the drum groove seems an afterthought, which doesn’t sit well with the track. Although dynamically interesting at times, the overall structure is a little weak and the track is topped and tailed with some very questionable vocal decisions.

DARREN: When I was a kid, I assumed the type of people who listened to Grace Jones worked in advertising, wore black rollneck tops & lived in one of those posh London Flats overlooking the docks. Nothing here changes my assumption.

VP: I bet all these folk who bang on about the 80’s being great even though they were still in nappies, will call Ms Jones a “legend,” everyone’s a “ledge” these days.  A big breasted lass in a reality show is a “ledge,Cheryl Cole is a “ledge,” the milkman who delivers milk on time is a “ledge”. Have our expectations of excellence really fallen so low?  That said I must confess I rather like this, it’s like a Toni Morrison or Maya Angelou novel set to music, erm, but shorter.  I  was never  keen on  Ms Jones’ stuff in the 80’s,  her androgynous look just added to my confusion , and  I spent much  of the decade  trying to work out which were the girls and which were the  boys. It was so perplexing in those days, there was a pretty girl called Boy George who,  it transpired was actually a fat, unattractive chap with a heroin habit,  we had a fat bloke dressed in a tent called Alf, who turned out to be a lass called Alison. There was a lass  called Marilyn who was in fact a hod carrier from Stourbridge called Peter , whilst  Annie Lennox looked disturbingly like David Bowie’s anemic little brother, it was a bloody nightmare after a couple of Diamond Whites. ( I never did  work out exactly what Pete Burns is)  But back to Ms Jones, songs like “Slave to the Rhythm” became a source of much irritation and appeared to be the only music played in “River Island” in the 80’s.  It was, I suspect, designed to annoy me into buying an absurd pair of puce Tukka boots, as the shop assistant held me hostage “Yes, yes,  I’ll take them, anything to get away from that bloody song.” I also found the fact that her head appeared to be the exact same shape as a Rubik’s cube a trifle unsettling, and I shudder when I  recall  her “acting” performances. If I tell you that she made Sofia Coppella’s acting appear on a par with Meryl Streep’s, you may get the picture. In summation – I like this.

NEAL: Long time no see. Despite the square suited shoulder padded lady’s rather obvious oddness I’ve always liked her hypno disco sound. Love her or hate her she is an icon, albeit a smaller one than she may think. Er – not sure about the Amazing Grace intro and outro – since the Royal Guardsmen murdered the tune in the 70s I cringe at the strains of it – but the rest of the song rolls on nicely in a style we have come to expect from her Graceness. Not perhaps as memorable as some of her bigger hits but I liked it enough to want to dig out my old GJ tracks and give her new album a spin. Good ‘un.

PAISLEY: I know the wonderful woman behind this song from celebrity chat shows and she seems a bit scary – but this song is really uplifting. It’s not what  I’d have  expected of  the mad Ms Jones from the chat show sofa’s and showing a soft side too. This is a slick song, but maybe not one I’d  particularly want to sing along with or dance to. But don’t tell her or she’ll slap me – ouch!

CHARLIE : Well, she’s completely bonkers, of course, but this is such a fabulous record – big choruses, ballsy production, weirdly wondrous, story-telling lyrics and, naturally, a fantastically scary vocal.  They’ve thrown the kitchen sink at this one, and then chucked in last night’s greasy washing up for good measure – there’s a gospel-esque ending with handclaps, harmonies, melodies and counter-melodies galore.  It’s like the 1990s and 2000s never happened and we’re back in 1985 all over again. Which, aside from ozone-busting hairspray and Phil Collins’ performance at Live Aid, is no bad thing.

Razor@!&te – Hostage of Love


CHARLIE : This, however … oh dear!

WILLIAM: It is all very pleasant while you listen to it but what’s left when it finishes? A feeling that Johnny Borrell’s messiah complex has reached new heights? When you hear Nick Cave getting all biblical you believe him, but as a character in a song. Here you get the feeling Johnny is singing from his heart, as himself and that he believes it. Maybe I don’t credit him with enough imagination. I’m sure it will be massive.

PAISLEY: Guitar – tick. Singing – tick. Singing like you mean it – possibly tick. Do I like it? Cross. Maybe I am biased because I read those free London papers and the front man is often papped looking floppy. Which is how I feel about the song really. Just a bit floppy for me, but sure to be a big hit nonetheless!

VP: Johnny is upset; he says people don’t judge his music on its own merits, he says they are prejudiced against him because of what they read in the press. You see the problem is, the press portray poor Johnny as somebody whose huge ego far outweighs his slim talent. This is rather unfair, I mean you wouldn’t catch Johnny saying things like “I wasn’t always a genius” or presenting himself as a Christ like figure in his songs would you?  He wouldn’t sing lines like “I am salvation” or “like a hero, I forsake my trophies for you” or sing about being “crucified” for his beliefs would he? That would be silly, that would be asking for trouble. In this song he’s rather like a modern day minstrel, a storyteller, relating his tale of woe, informing anybody who will listen just how great he is.  But hang on it reminds me of something…now what is it …. “I’m a storyteller, and my stories must be told/ I have many stories, tales for both the young and old?” In Russia I am Ivan, in England I am John/In Germany I’m Johan, In Sweden I am Jan” . Eureka ! I knew I’d heard this song before, check this  video HERE…
But hey, we should judge his music on its own merits. Before I realised this was Razorlight I merely thought this was sh*t , when I realised it was Johnny I thought it was really sh*t, so I guess  he’s right ….in a way.

REENIE: Christ! Nauseating. I feel like I’m losing blood listening to this. The lyrics are pretty funny, Johnny B must have been watching a low budget costume drama when he got his pen out.

DOGWOOD: In my meanderings with the young folk I often come across the word ‘Razorlight’, it seems that amongst a certain type of 28 year old – career minded, HR professional, newly married, no kids, newly bought flat, crippling mortgage etc – that buying a Razorlight CD is making a statement of sorts.  It says: “Hey look, yes, I maybe a Corporate whore but I can still shake my fist at the ‘man’, look I’ve got a Razorlight album, and a Coldplay album and a Snore Patrol album etc, I’m a bloody bohemian, me, and it has pride of place on my coffee table”.  Well that maybe the case but Razorlight being considered revolutionary is as likely as me being invited to that mansion where Take This and the M&S crumpet are seemingly spending Christmas Day.  As if.  I found all this guff about ‘Hostage of Love’ mildly insipid, the tune listless and Johnny Bovril a kind of Matt Monroe for the O2 generation.  I then became mildly distressed to discover that the songs are invariably written by the drummer feller, y’know the one who looks like Lance Percival, or a beatnik version of him.  I don’t really care if Razorlight exist or not, they’re fairly endemic of the general anaemia that currently infests the UK music scene.  Suffice to say the song is a load of pointless tosh but against the notion of Simon Cowell swiping Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ to use it as the X Factor single and thus make it the property of chavopolis, there are lesser crimes.  I say let Razorlight pontificate in the same cosmos of Bonio and Gordon Sumner and just turn the volume down and quietly ignore them.   You’ll only encourage them to further exaltations if they think your paying attention. Dogwood pointedly looking away and humming a tuneless tune to block out the racket.

DARREN: Good god. This just makes me feel incredibly alienated. It’s like a visit to Matalan.

NEAL: Damn Razorlight! I really want to hate them as I generally hate this kinda overblown pseudo-US middle of the road rock but I can’t deny that they do what they do well. Catchy stuff and well put together. I will no doubt be tapping my foot to it and humming it during my Christmas dinner and beyond but – please – it’s not on my list for Santa.

GUY: A very simple ditty, which relies on a strong melody and lyrics to hold our interest. Sadly, neither can be found here. It seems Borrell is trying to recount some profound experience of inner feeling to us and I’m not sure whose ears this will fall upon that can relate. The whole thing feels very contrived and unoriginal.

Ladyhawke – My Delirium


DOGWOOD: This song stars Kevin Bacon, has large hair, the maintenance of which has cost the planet 0.002% of its ozone layer and naffs me off ‘big time’ as the yoof of Preston might utter.  “My Delirium?” My Aunt Sandra, this certainly makes me delirious and light headed because it’s a disco clutch bag full of nothingness, not because it moves me.  Like the man-eating he-she Jones, this girl is quite content to knock up another 3 minutes of eighties footloose preposterousness.  I can visualise Tom Cruise in Top Gun gadding about in a disco whilst chatting up some big haired crumpet whilst rustling up a cocktail in the Breakfast Club admiring the St Elmos Fire in the car park where his Delorean is parked.  Back to the eighties – again – you weren’t even born then girl, or certainly not old enough to remember anything other than John Leslie in Blue Peter.  I’ll say this again – the eighties were only enjoyed by those who didn’t live through them.  Dogwood tuts and sighs because we’ve been here before.

DARREN: Hmm.. I’m told Ladyhawke are quite fashionable. I dunno, it’s hardly cutting edge is it? I just sounds like average chart music, really…forgettable.

REENIE: Ladyhawke’s got hugs for you if you were born in the 80’s. I like this one the best, very Josie and the Pussycats! It’s pretty tightly-wound, production wise, though I did read that the girl has Aspergers, which might explain that.

VP: I take my hat off to Mrs Hawke, after her last single my interest in her became limp, but like musical vi*gra “My Delirium” has put lead in the pencil of  my enthusiasm, rendering my interest vigorously aroused and  standing proud once more. It’s a cracking good pop song, slickly produced and as catchy as that there virus in BBC’s “Survivors “series, but without the mucous and vomit. Why I’ll wager this would even get my Uncle Dave dancing, which is some feat, as he hasn’t got any.

NEAL: I am chuffed to be reviewing My Delirium by Ladyhawke as it’s an amazing track that I have already danced around the living room to many times in the last few weeks. It’s not just because they come from New Zealand and have the same initials as me but the throbbing rhythm, splendidly sassy vocal and a chorus that’s as catchy as Chlamydia in a Thai brothel makes this everything a pop song should be. Yes, `pop’ – nothing to be ashamed of as a label when it’s done as well as this. Fab.

WILLIAM: I’ve heard this song a few times now and I can’t work out where the yeah yeah yeah bit is nicked from? For some reason Roxette keeps popping into my head. Oh, pre-teen, innocent, small town days. Also an opening montage from Hollyoaks forms in my imagination as I hear it, centred around some argument at a student union, followed by tears in front of a dressing table. That guitar line too. Where does that come from? Man I wish I’d patented the use of that keyboard sound. I’d be a rich man.

GUY: Ladyhawke has have gone straight for the jugular with unashamedly poptastic single material here. Its simplicity is commendable and makes it a very accessible and instant dancefloor filler yet it still has a full and dense quality to it. The verse melody is a little weak and doesn’t seem to go anywhere but the chorus has one of those instant hooks that’ll be buzzing round your head endlessly after inevitable over-play on the radio. The drum sound packs a lot of punch and has a very similar sound to that used by Drum & Bass collective Pendulum from the same corner of the world, as do the rising synth sounds. I wonder if they’ve been comparing notes.

CHARLIE: Wow! How good is this! Hey, it’s okay everyone, Simon Cowell hasn’t yet destroyed pop music. Quick, someone ring up Cowell and play this to him down the phone – his sadly demented brain won’t be able to cope and maybe his head will explode. Ladyhawke may just well be the antidote needed to the poison Cowell is inflicting into the ears of the public. Did I mention how good this is? Wow!

PAISLEY: Wowzer – can I be like Lady H when I grow up? Lovely vocals – music is boss, love it! Well done to her, and all who sail in her!

 

Kings Of Leon – Use Somebody


DARREN: If this is what passes for grand emotion these days, then I must be an extremely cold fish. I expect this’ll be heard over a lot of sports montages on Sky.

REENIE: I can see why people like this. Did you see the cross-dressing dude from Hollyoaks do this acoustic on ‘Oaks Later? Now that was emotional!

CHARLIE: The lead singer sounds like he needs the toilet but apart from that, this is a pretty, if innocuous tune that all the Camden Leisure Pirates and devoted disciples of Noel Fielding will love.  I’m not sure if Kings Of Leon fans will be happy with how ‘commercial’ it sounds but god forbid someone makes a record that people actually want to buy!

DOGWOOD: Continuing this month’s theme of non-tunes.  Listless, apathetic, a bunch of hillbillies playing rock somewhere in the Appalachians I imagine to a crowd of 8 in the Dew Drop Inn.  However, a sort of curious frontier charm pervades and I can’t despise it too much, after all I remember this lot when they looked like a load of lecturers from the Open University circa 1973.  But then again I can’t really exercise any excitement on this one either, it’s there and that’s the best you can say for it really.  The trouble with Americans these days is that they watch too much Extreme Makeover and think that all the solutions lie in the TV.  With that credo, they can’t move their arses to do anything meaningful.  God knows how Barak Obama got in.   This song has that kind of hopeless acceptance about it.  I think the Kings of Leon are less regal than of yore and wherever Leon is ( Mexico ?), the palaces are crumbling, the peasants are revolting and the corgis have turned into Chihuahuas .   Their crown has slipped to reveal a bit of a bald patch I’m afraid.  Dogwood offers a flat cap to cover up the follicle embarrassment.

PAISLEY: Ooowayoooowwaayoooooo – and then his great voice kicks in! Yes, I reckon this is singing like you mean it. I mean Charlie thinks the KoL singer needs the toilet, which could well be true. But maybe that is the trick, and I should try this in the future. I like it and might want to fall asleep to it, which is no bad thing. I mean I can’t really dance to this kind of song but I could lazily nod off….in a nice way….zzzzz.

VP: KOL or AOR ?  The Kings Of Leon are walking a thin line between commercial rock and  an embarrassing REO Speedwagon cheese fest, but they just about get away with it, due to the fact that this is a solid, if rather clichéd song.  Peter Cetera wishes he’d written it, so does  Klaus Meine, meanwhile Robbie Williams is beside himself as he can see this one making inroads into his royalties for “Angels” .  It’s not so much a song as a pension plan and is a million miles away from “Molly’s Chamber.” It would probably be right at home on your local radio stations  “Peaceful Hour For Lovers -Request Show” presented by some syrupy voiced chap called Alan  Thirkettle,  or  something.  Eagle’s fans will love it.  Still in these uncertain times  every band needs to plan for the future and release their very own “Angels” don’t they ?………..Ooooooh look a UFO ………..

GUY: One of the better tracks from a disappointing 4th album and still far short of the brilliance they’ve produced from earlier work. This song seems to reveal itself within the first 30 seconds and goes nowhere of any interest from there – the dropped down middle 8 section of particular pointlessness. Production-wise it is beautiful; everything sits tightly in place and serves the song well, adding to the strong dynamics, which are a great feature. They seem to have had a big shift with the material on this album – they’ve gone for an arena filling sound from a band that you’d always have found most delight from seeing in a barn in Tennessee. Frustratingly they get away with this weaker material as Caleb’s voice is just too damn sexy.

NEAL: Didn’t like them with long hair, Don’t like them with short. Two dimensional rock circa 1974 USA. Shoot me please Mum.

WILLIAM: I really want to hear the vocal of this put over the outro to Layla, the piano bit. I’ve really loved the last two Kings of Leon records but haven’t felt the need to get my mitts on this one yet. It seems they’ve gone stadium rock. I heard somewhere that they wrote the songs for this new album so they’d have some new material to play at Glastonbury last year. You can almost feel the size of the arena this is supposed to be played to. Maybe it’s the whoas in the back there in the reverb. This number is a fairly classic Kings of Leon number though, catchy non-chorus chorus, fists punching the air material. Had me humming it to myself.

Metronomy – A Thing For Me

 

REENIE: Ugh, messy. More than one person has told me they think I’d like Metronomy, but I guess they don’t know me AT ALL.

GUY: An enchanting little duet, this track has a sense of fun that really draws you in to the Metronomy world. Its intense and jumpy grove is a little hard to get your head around at first but reveals a lot of poly-rhythmical layers to be enjoyed. The stripped back male vocal verse parts are really rather pretty and flow into the female vocal chorus sections well. They are strong yet simple melodies with some lovely harmony lines and some are left as almost acapella which works well. I feel they may have gone a little overboard on the cyberspace bass sound but the drums are mapped well and the snare breakdown sections are particularly interesting in giving the grove a jolt and adding great dynamics. A very original and English sound.

VP: Oh dear GOD!  No, no and thrice no! This reminds me of  the TV show  “Prison Break”, a  good idea, which went horribly wrong.  Metronomy play the role of oafish, thuggish prison guard Brad Bellick and the tune takes on the part of Michael Schofield. The very second you think the melody is about to escape and spring forth  blinking into the sun, the  Metronomy boys pounce and  ruthlessly  batter it into submission, before dragging it  back to the solitary darkness of “tuneless dirge.” As if to mirror the TV show, the song starts well, but rapidly descends into farce and within no time you stop caring where this song is going  (which, like the TV show, is precisely nowhere.)  Is the singer pretending to be a female at times here? What’s all that about? Whoever it is they sound like a strangled parrot with a nasty bout of tonsillitis who’s been gargling razorblades and eating sandpaper drizzled in lemon….I saw this lot supporting CRASS, no wait it may have been The Slits, or The Au-Pairs, no hang on my mistake, it was The Pipettes, they were rubbish then too. It’s a bit crap isn’t it ? There was probably a good idea in there at one time, but Metronomy come across as fancying themselves as a bit of a gang of  Nob twiddling clever clogs. Adhering to the rules of pop by doing the straightforward such as writing a song that actually contains something as simplistic as a  tune???…Well that just isn’t clever enough is it ? … All in all this pushes the boundaries of pop about as much as Les Dennis has pushed the boundaries of comedy. Cobblers

PAISLEY : You’ve got a thing for me, I’ve got a thing for you……ouch! It hurt my eyes a bit (induced a bit of a migraine) but I like the words very much! In fact I like it all…one to wake up with after Kings of Leon.

CHARLIE : Sounding like the b*stard children of John Foxx, (one for the teenage readers, there), this could easily have been made circa 1979. And if I’d been a geeky, floppy-fringed kid with huge baggy trousers and a penchant for wearing my older sister’s eyeliner I’d have definitely ‘thrown some shapes’ at this down the youth club disco.  Kids today will probably do the same. Apart from the ones wearing hats. Who are probably still listening to Johnny Borrell and The Razorlite. Sadly.!

DOGWOOD : I’ve seen this lot you know, saw them playing with my favourite band Make Model in Camden Town of all places.  The curious thing is that they’ve all got light bulbs attached to their chests, a kind of low budget alien from early seventies Dr Who.  They sound robotic and repetitive which I suppose is in keeping with their lo-fi ET image.  Now, you know me, I like things kept simple and I suppose that Metronomy do have a Play School kind of plinkety-plonk simplicity to them.  It’s like a load of 5 year olds having been let loose in the BBC Radiophonic workshop and they’ve recorded bits of it, looped it and released it.  This is Thomas Dolby recorded on a Fisher Price keyboard that is programmed to play nursery rhymes for stressed out executives who once had a fleeting notion of possessing a Flock of Seagulls haircut.  I don’t know what that means really, but that’s because I don’t really understand Metronomy but then again I didn’t really understand Ker-plunk and yet I didn’t picket the local Woolies because of it.  I’m going to let this one go, given the choice between sitting through a Metronomy set and flicking through a Hattie Jacques lace brassiere gazetteer from 1957, I’d probably prefer eyeing up Hattie’s ample dumplings.  Nothing personal Metronomy, you just confuse me and don’t look as fulsome in a lace brassiere.

WILLIAM: Someone please make a version of this song with a Japanese marching band. I’ve seen them practicing out in East London . It would be brilliant, especially the snare and accordion breakdown section. It’s a bit of a grower I’d say. I can even forgive the southern Human League thing and the Jamie T/Reverend and the Makers type lyrics. Just.

DARREN: Best of a bad bunch, I reckon, yet lacking a spark somehow. The arrangement’s pretty exciting, but melodically and vocally it feels disconnected.

NEAL: Now I saw Metronomy live supporting the ay-maze-zing Kate Nash some months ago and I know they are the big tip for many people for 09. They didn’t sing when I saw them – just played their electostruments and bopped around the stage looking like Kryton from Red Dwarf. Despite a bright and finger poppy opening to the song and melodic verse the chorus grates more than the Birdie Song. I actually thought the track was stuck when listening to it for the first time and only on checking my computer did I realise this sadly was how it was supposed to sound. Sorry guys – stick to the music.

Kaiser Chiefs – Good Days Bad Days (video)


VP: I quite liked “I Predict A  Diet ” it was daft, but fun, but I’m afraid  Ricky and I only ever got to first base, it was over before it began. I guess most bands love to prove their critics wrong, and I must confess the Kaiser Chiefs have certainly proved me wrong.  Just when I think they’ve extracted all the irritation it is humanly possible for a person to feel towards a band they go and release a song that defies logic.  It took me a full five minutes to collect my jaw from the ground after viewing this load of cock and bull. Then I thought ah, it’s a novelty single, or for charity or something? Was it written as some sort of student prank to see if the label would actually release it?  Or maybe to prove how daft Kaiser Chief fans are perhaps?( normally geography teachers and social workers.)  If not then I simply can’t believe a band  could of submitted this without feeling a deep sense of shame and embarrassment, which may explain Ricky’s florid complexion. Then again I can’t believe the label could actually say, “you know what lads –that’s a single is that.” The only saving grace is it hasn’t got the KC’s trademark “Wooooooooooooooaah”  chant,  which normally gives the impression they’ve recorded the vocals whilst aboard the roller coaster at Blackpool Pleasure beach.  I suppose The Kaiser Chiefs are the musical version of “My Family” bland, puerile, and just inoffensive enough to be popular. (Although both offend me!)  As Linda Hollywood of Rock City Sixteen said in a review last year “Every single one of them looks like a scary ventriloquist’s dummy” and she’s right, they do, the video looks like someday with  no fingers at a Day Centre has carved puppet versions of the Kaiser Chiefs. If any band were asked to write a follow up to Hale and Paces “hilarious” Comic Relief single “The Stonk” that band would  of course be, The Kaiser Chiefs. In short, utterly horrible.

REENIE: This vid is pretty tossed off. And the tune sounds like a kidz TV theme… not figuratively: specifically “Bob the Builder.” Funny how the keyboard has a little sign hanging on it saying ‘Gone to Hospital’. Poor Peanut!

CHARLIE : The first thing that struck me was that I’d heard this tune before. One of those niggly things that keep you awake at night. Was it ‘Frog Chorus’ by Paul McCartney? No. Was it ‘Sultans of Swing’ by Dire Straits? No, of course, the verse melody sounds just like ‘I Am The Chosen One’ from The Mighty Boosh. Oh well, I suppose that’s no bad thing. I mean, it could have been Razorlite, a baffling popular band for no apparent reason whom Noel Fielding seems to be quite fond of.   The video looks as if it was supposed to be a fun shoot – it’s a pity the band appeared to be thoroughly bored, staring at the floor, concentrating hard on the chord changes, still wearing their moody, indie-kid faces instead of enjoying themselves for once. Come on chaps – smile! It won’t kill you!

PAISLEY : Ooooh – feeling a bit sea sick, but I think that is just me and not cos of the vid which I like a lot! The colours are fab, but I felt a bit cheated. For such a colourful vid which took lots of effort, a few more smiles would have been good. Just one or two, maybe from Ricky. Go on, show us your gnashers! Anyway, I liked the bit where they knock his block off at the end, as long as that isn’t real of course. If it’s real then that’s the worst bit.

DOGWOOD: I found this as irritating as those relentless ‘Here Come The Girls’ Boots Christmas adverts where some harridan from accounts buys a willy warmer for Jeff in IT for the Secret Santa.  Yes, that bloody irritating.  The Kaiser Chiefs turn up on what appears to be a giant Twister board dressed all in white.  Now, I don’t do ‘all in white’, that’s a fashion charge of the light brigade best left to the Man from Del Monte and other ex-Nazi War Criminals in hiding working for the South American tropical cordial beverage industry.  Good days and bad days, eh?  This lot give me a bit of both if truth be told.  On some days I’m in the mood for their art school gadding about, yes everything is average nowadays and yes sometimes I predict a riot but too much of a good thing expands the waistline – ask Ricky Wilson.  I notice that he appears to be wearing an elasticated waist pair of white slacks with white plimsolls.  A man of his rotundetry should think twice about white short sleeved shirts, even I know that’s a parking space you don’t reverse into.  Oh, the video, yes, well it meanders into a sub Peter ‘Sledgehammer’ Gabriel affair involving the old Wigan Mexican hat trick and general gurning at the screen.  I suppose some might find that mildly quirky, I myself find it a symptom of Brown’s Britain where people in general think that Girls Aloud are a good idea and that decent TV is a procession of inane idiots doing something that requires you to pick up a phone and vote.  Some of us know different, I suppose the Geezer Chefs do too, but they’re not letting on with this load of sub-Leslie Crowther guff.

NEAL: As a poet I could never forgive a band that rhymed     `policeman’ with `Smeaton’. And – at the risk of being an Xmas Scrooge – certainly cannot forgive them for this dreadful video that looks like Art Attack meets a 1980s Persil ad either. I would have thought the band have enough money in the bank to spend a wee bit more on their videos – sorry guys but after a few good tunes on an average debut album everyday I love you less and less.

WILLIAM: It’s a kind of fun performance video. Nice stop motion stuff. A pinch of Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python animation, a sniff of clockwork orange, a dash of the 60s Adam West Batman series, a touch of Tim Burton, well, a skeleton.. Nice to see the drummer singing. He probably wrote the song eh? The guitar player comes across as a bit dull and I didn’t miss the keyboard player. They’ve sure got their formula down though.

DARREN: It’s an OK video, not as terrible as I assumed it’d be, ha! The visual quirkiness goes with the song, I guess. In typical Kaiser’s fashion, the song is devoid of originality and sounds like a Blur/XTC/Taking Head mash-up. But it’s alright, in a throwaway sense. Nice bongos in the background.

GUY: *has fallen asleep*

So which single came out on top? Buggered if I know! Thanks to the panel for their input.  Go and vist their websites and myspaces, say hello!

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Tis The Season..Spencer McGarry Interview

“A Title Sparks Would Have Used” By Spencer McGarry Season

“To The Liars Take Me” By By Spencer McGarry Season

When it comes to action “Episode 1″ certainly doesn’t disappoint, however in terms of coherent narrative, the experience is a huge let down.  The maxim “less is more” is not something that seems to have occurred to the people behind this affair, the sheer volume of special effects on display becomes a little tiresome after a while.  In fact Episode 1 has given rise to a new medical condition , “CGI fatigue”, whereby, what would be ordinarily  jawdroppingly mind blowing, merely  leaves  the viewer yawning  whilst pondering the effectiveness of the local Council’s recycling policy. This obviously lessens the impact of   the innumerable  light saber battles and the impressive pod race which clearly has echoes of  the chariot race in Ben Hur, there’s a  …………Hang about …Oh dear ….sorry wrong review….. I’ll start again…

There is a story floating around  Cardiff that Andy Partridge of XTC walked into a local record shop and demanded to hear the new song by Spencer McGarry, upon listening to the song Mr Partridge simply said “ I don’t remember recording that” and promptly  left the shop. Urban myth? Perhaps, Spencer McGarry’s debut album “Episode 1” draws on many influences, 60’s mod/Motown pop late 70’s new wave, and early 80’s white-boy funk. Also apparent is  the influence of The Kinks, Smokey Robinson, Talking Heads and Elvis Costello and  of course the quirky pop sensibility of the afore mentioned XTC . Spencer McGarry Season is a solo project which aims to record and perform 6 albums with 6 different themes, Episode 1 being erm well, the first episode in this ambitious project (I wonder what the other five will be called?) The idea came about when Spencer’s previous band The Room Orchestra split leaving Spencer with over 60 songs  with no real style or focus and more importantly, no band!  He began compartmentalising these songs into six rough styles, deciding to release them in an episodic format, whilst at the same time writing more songs in their respective idioms to help realise this vision. (Have you noticed people never really have ideas anymore it’s always a “vision”, in the same way that people don’t have experiences they have “journeys”). “Episode 1” has no underlying theme, but contains 40 minutes packed full of joyful, intelligent music that will energise you and restore your faith in literate pop. Spencer dropped in for a chat about his pop “vision”, his “journey” as we “stir fried a few ideas in the pop –wok”

VP: So in essence Spencer Mc Garry Season is a solo project, which aims to produce six different albums with six different themes?  The first of these “Episode 1” is out in Feb 2009 (?) What gave you that idea…? Do you have all six albums written?

SMc: In a previous band I had split the writing with another person, consequently I became frustrated at not doing more of my songs- this led to more songs arriving in my brain and before I knew it there was a traffic jam situation with all these songs piled up and no way to record them. One of my biggest failures as a songwriter, is not having a distinct style so the songs tend to be influenced by whatever music I’m listening to. If I’ve just been watching a cowboy film then I’ll probably write something on slide guitar or if I’m watching a Disney film I’ll get out the sentimental strings. Shortly before the other band split I wrote down all these songs and there were around 40-50 which could be compartmentalised into 6 rough themes- basic rock, orchestral pop etc, some of them were complete songs, others were an idea or fragment which is often all one needs then you can just return to them as they are needed. I was thinking that if Sufjan Stevens is aiming for 52 (is that right?) then 6 is easy…almost too easy

I’d say the first three albums are finished although as more time elapses I’m changing them all the time and including new songs, especially as I get into recording the next one in January, which has changed a bit in the last 6 months as I put together the track listing.  I also found that I was thinking about all the different albums all the time, constantly arranging them and thinking about production and so I’ve had to stop and just take it an album at a time to avoid going crazy; this is the main essence behind the whole project, how do I arrange and present quite allot of disparate ideas without coming across as quirky or wacky? The only way, was to methodically compartmentalise them into themes and deal with them one at a time.

VP: What have been your own musical inspirations? Do you prefer one genre above any other or is it just a case of your open to anything? Will we for example here Spencer going hip-hop by “episode six” 😉

SMc: I do listen to different sorts of music but I’d say my de-fault setting is 60/70’s rock, that’s my comfort music, I always chastise myself if I listen to too much of it though but I can’t help it, it’s the music I was brought up on. I think I have quite mainstream tastes especially when it comes to this music. The artists that taught me how to write would be (in order) Paul McCartney, Ray Davies and Brian Wilson, they are all mainstream, giants.  I always go back to them, but I’ve also learned allot from James Brown, Smokey Robinson, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Kraftwerk, Steve Reich, Quincy Jones amongst others. These are all western artists though and there is a whole planet left unexplored musically in short I feel like I don’t listen to enough of a variety of music.

I don’t think we’ll see a hip hop album but we’re definitely going to do an R’n’B one be that older R’n’B/Motown that influenced the mods, through to David Bowie’s plastic soul period up to NERD, Timbaland, Rich Harrison produced classics. I do find there’s allot to listen to in modern R’n’B, it’s much more inventive and risk taking that modern guitar music, when I first heard ‘Get Right’ by Ms Lopez I was blown away (and I will use that phrase), the same for Crazy in Love, these songs to me are just as good as the songs that appeared at the height of motown- I mean not all of them, but I think we are in a golden age of R’n’B again. The important thing about all these albums to remember is that it’s still going to be me performing songs in different styles through my filter, so hopefully it won’t sound like I’m pastiching genre’s, rather it’ll sound like me doing a new album.

VP: You’ve got some interesting titles on the album “the Unfilmable Life and life Of Terry Gilliam”, “A Title Sparks Would Have Used” and “When Stupids Come To Town”. Where do you draw your ideas from?

SMc: I can’t stand boring song titles. You’ve got a situation where you’ve spent days/weeks/months on a song, got the money and band together to rehearse and pay to record it- spent hours painstakingly putting it all together, producing, mixing it paying for it to be mastered, thinking about the artwork, possibly arranging a photoshoot or an image for the cover…AND you go and spoilt it all by calling it ‘lights’

The following should never be used as song titles ever again:-

‘lights’  ‘hurt’  ‘torn’  ‘one’

Why would you want to give your song (which you’ve given birth to as a mother would her child), a really terrible, unappealing name? Any time I see a song with the kind of unimaginative titular moniker above I just switch off and deservedly so, with that kind of ronseal approach applied to the title, how can the listener expect to be entertained by it’s contents. I wouldn’t go and see a film if it were called ‘broken’, I just know it’ll be “one woman’s struggle to find her identity, in a tissue of deceit…with a dog?” Leonardo’s Decaprio’s new film is titled “Body of Lies”, that’s another one I won’t be seeing, there’s an unknown rule in Hollywood that states that there must be a film released annually called “Body of Lies” sometimes it’s erotic, sometimes it’s a courtroom drama- but a film with that title must by law be released per annum, or all hell will break loose.

The song titles all come from the lyrics usually except the Sparks one which came from the title. I know that my titles can draw a rise in certain quarters but I’d rather have an interesting title than one that just sums up the song in one word. “This one’s called ‘ America ’, what’s it about? It’s about America ”. David Bowie’s got the best song title, it’s actually better than the song “Always Crashing in the Same Car” no song could live up to that title, it’s amazing and straight away I want to listen to the song. As for the ideas I think it’s important to generally keep an open mind and always be on the lookout for song material, I don’t generally write love songs as I feel I have nothing to add to the cannon, so my songs tend to be about things that warrant my attention, things that appear in the news or things I feel I can take a viewpoint on that will allow me to write a lyric. Also as soon as one becomes open to the subjective nature of a narrative, one finds a whole DNA pool full of evolutionary developments that a song could develop into. Ron Mael is particularly deft at this. Take for example tying ones shoes. A song could be about:-

The difficulty of doing so (from the perspective of a child or perhaps more sinisterly, an adult) One could compose a poem/sonnet about the grace and ease in which the laces sit and ‘hug’ each other like lovers.
One could write form the view point of the perhaps malevolent, thwarting designers who have made a shoe no one can tie up, and the consequences involved (probably minimal)
A love song form the point of view of laces (who of course are sentient) and either in love with themselves (a little bit of a masturbatory angle here) or their wearer and despair at the existential angst of one day being thrown away.
While the above are not revelatory and (more importantly) not really good ideas for songs, it may go some way to answering the question of where ideas come from. A big eye opener for me are also the films of Charlie Kaufman who really leads the field in what you can do with a narrative.

VP: Has 2008 generally been taken up with recording the album? What sort of a year has it been and what else have you been up to?

SMc: Yes we finished it around April/May, got it mastered but didn’t like it so got it re-mastered somewhere else- in a sense the album may as well be called Episode 1 re-mastered. It just saves us the Led Zepplin hassle of re-mastering it next Christmas ready for the re-release market- we’ll just release it again and call it re-released-remasters.

Other than that, we’ve been doing gigs and radio sessions- most notably for Marc Riley on Radio 6. We had a free download only single in September and did some more gigs around that, but really it’s been taken up with making sure the album was ready, in that it both sounded and looked good. Because we’re on a small label we run ourselves, everything just takes that much longer especially where money becomes a factor and so something that I would have liked released much earlier in the year has to wait until finances are available. This can take time. There’s also been a bit of bad luck with festivals and support slots that didn’t happen- but that’s just what happens with bands. The rest of the year will be taken up with planning a little tour from Jan till March, orchestrating the next album (we start recording in January) and writing a piece of music for Swansea’s museum as part of a project whereby Welsh musicians are linked with a museum and write a song/sound-scapes based on an installation or exhibit.

VP:  What’s happening musically in Cardiff at the moment? Do you feel there’s a scene going on there at the moment? Any bands you’d recommend?

SMc: I don’t know about scenes but there are always good bands. Off the top of my head there’s
-Threatmantics (signed with Domino)- noisy, yet folky attack of bedraggled fun

The 2 other bands on Businessman Records- I’m sorry for mentioning them I know they’re on my label, but there’s a reason for that-

-Gindrinker- the Fall, Datblygu, spoken word over avant noise

-Sweet Baboo- Superior folk with foreboding lyrics- his album just out ‘The Mighty Baboo’ is genuinely one of my favourites of the year- equally heartbreaking and hilarious.

Truckers of Husk (My king Fu)- Battles esque instrumental, occasionally vocal group who can do dance as well as thoughtful pieces- big potential.

Liz Hunt is something of a one woman music central- not only does she put on excellent gigs with interesting and big artists form outside the city such as Daniel Johnston, Apples in Stereo, Jeffery Lewis, she also find time to help out other bands either thorough support slots. Or helping them get gigs further a-field, in addition she finds time to front The School (Elephant records), which channel the best in 60’s girl group sounds, Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura etc

VP:  What was the first album you remember buying?

SMc: I think it was BAD. I was quite a Michael Jackson fan and was really excited when I brought it- in its huge vinyl glory, I studied the pictures and lyrics and read and re-read all the (ludicrously extensive) credits, which were after every song. Then I’d listen to it endlessly- I’d even dream about it. I’ve always been one for devouring albums completely which explains why I’m a slow record buyer, I can’t really move on to another album until I’ve understood and dissected most of the one I’m on at the moment. I must have listened to BAD for years I think. I still go back to it now, I think Quincy Jones’ production is really something else, I like the way he treats each verse/section of the song as if it has it’s own potential, as if it is the chorus itself- adding extra instrumentation, dynamics etc. I think my favourite song was Speed Demon- just for that run on the bass. Michael Jackson looked, sounded, danced and spoke like no one else and in his film he could change into a spaceship to attack Joe Pesci- job done.

VP:  And what’s the most recent one you’ve purchased?

SMc: The Weeks that’s Was’ eponymous debut. An offshoot of the group Field Music (along with School of Language who’s album came out earlier this year), interesting orchestration, the feeling that the album is a work to listen to all the way through rather than a disparate collection of songs (although one is not better than the other- it’s just been a while since I’ve heard an album which demands the whole attention), some beautiful melodies (Airport Line, Come home), great drum sounds, all in all a good record. As a band, Field Music are the one modern band, besides Girls Aloud that we all agree on and it’d be interesting to see them reform and do at least one more record, given their experience of working on separate projects.

SMc: What was the last song you heard that made you want to take a hammer to the radio?What’s that one by Pink? Na na na na na na na na na na na na na- inane as it is dangerous- if I could drive, I imagine trying to turn that off in a panic and killing a family of 4- it’s a lesser know fact (I have family in the police service) that most traffic accidents are caused by terrible music.

VP: Illegal downloading? Is it as bad as people like Fergal Sharkey say? What’s your view on the whole debate over digital music etc?

SMc: Not sure, I didn’t mind in the slightest when Radiohead asked people to name a price and found it amusing when the major labels and pundits panicked. It ended up giving them months of publicity and without all the cuts that chains and labels take, I can’t imagine they made too much of a loss. Bands only get something like 60p per album anyway don’t they? If people paid an average of a pound or under I can’t see what difference it would have made, they also managed to do the impossible- making money from piracy. That may be the future.

As for illegal downloading I say him without sin cast the first lawsuit. It’s not that different to taping an album for your friends- I suppose it’s more readily accessible and instantly available (are they the same thing?) but in essence, the ethos is not that different. For about 20 years new albums have cost something like £15 on CD and if you consider the amount of filler material that’s on most of them, particularly Hip hop albums, I think the industry has had it far too good for far too long and lots of people have made lots of money. Most albums I think just aren’t worth buying and there may be nothing wrong in trying a few songs before one decides to invest in an album. It may also bring more people to live gigs and in the end result in more sales. People love to own the actual official copy of most things it would seem. So the plus side is that people get to hear of new music and maybe consider buying the whole album.

The downside would be the effect it may have on smaller independent labels/bands. With our album I aim to make enough from sales to break even on production costs; and maybe have some left over to pay for a few recording sessions towards the next one. If no one buys the album and just downloads it then I will find it harder to make the next one and if you multiply that globally it may mean the end of recording studios and perhaps even labels. I’m not sure what that would entail, would we then all become bedroom producers/labels?

Most people seem to agree that the old models of music consumption are changing (although wasn’t that supposed to happen with punk and the cassette?)- I don’t really know if it’s a good or bad thing, I suppose anything that introduces people to a potentially global wide spectrum of music while taking power away from those that control what music we should listen to or fond acceptable, is a good thing. However I do think art is worth investing in and paying for and without funding from recorded sales, artists may possibly have to get funding from the government- a situation which potentially could result in a very conservative musical climate, or from the public- which could be as adventurous as the BBC has been for television broadcasting or could result in art made by internet forums and committees. It’s a huge question and one I am not really qualified to answer, hence the few random observations above.

VP: Finally, Xmas is nearly upon us, what five things would you like to find in your stocking this year?

SMc: Ah great an easy one, I’m overqualified for this

“I Cheeta” the supposed ghost written autobiography of a retired Hollywood chimp, who’s been in the business since the 1930’s Tarzan films.

An electronic drum kit- I used to be a drummer and I’ve gone back to it recently- I am sluggish however

History of Survivor Series WWE DVD boxset- Sport as it should be- unabashed quality entertainment

Charlie Gillett’s recent world music compilation double album

Sparks- Back catalogue

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“Leader Of The Chain Gang” Live By Spencer McGarry Season

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Money In The Bank-Skint and Demoralised Interview

“The Thrill Of Thirty Seconds” By Skint & Demoralised

Fancy  a conspiracy theory? There are some folk who subscribe to the view that musical venture “The Streets” is a huge post modern  prank and that the project is in fact fronted by a rather  well to do young thespian called Raphe Dupree. Total nonsense? Or a well kept industry secret?  Well folks, for the first time I can expose the shocking truth behind “The Streets,” as revealed to me in a “spirit walk” induced by  ingesting a family sized bag of  “Haribo Sour Mix.”  Raphe, was indeed approached, to take on the role of fictional character, “Mike Skinner,” a Burberry clad people’s poet who’s no-nonsense world view, would, it was hoped, strike a chord with the nation’s disaffected youth.  This elaborate scheme was concocted by two aging singer songwriters whose rubescent features were regular fixtures in the pubs and clubs of east end London.  Sadly Charles Hodges and David Peacock’s musical star was fading fast,  their career had reached something of a crossroads, a musical cul-de-sac if you will, they’d been derailed,  it was the end of the line, they were about to  hit the buffers and  were left clutching  a one way ticket to Palookaville …. It was decided, in order to continue making music together, a radical change of direction was needed, they therefore resolved to write something of substance with a contemporary, edgy, streetwise vibe.   Dave explains their reasoning behind such a bold move:  “We wanted to prove there was more to us as artists than  “The Sideboard Song” and “Snooker Loopy”, that we could reach a younger demographic,  move and inspire people, and more importantly take the p*ss out of the NME”

The project, tentatively named “Original Pirate Material,Guv” inspired by Chas’s love of Douglas Fairbanks movies,  took many, many minutes to write, and the results looked promising, however there was a rather large fly in the ointment,  namely that  Messers Chas and David were a little too long in the tooth to connect with their target audience. They decided they needed a suitably hip front man to do their record justice.  They were looking for an “urban everymen”, somebody literate yet street-wise who was “down with the kids” and somebody who looked just “a little Council Estate- a street punk with a poet’s heart.”  In essence your average Guardian readers wet dream…… Enter classically trained ac-tor Mr Raphe Dupree, who was faced with the ultimate test of his theatrical abilities, to convince the public that Mike “The Streets” Skinner was for real! “It was a huge challenge dear boy,” says Dupree with the deep, rich fruity tones  of one who has stuffed far too many plumbs in his mouth “but I was drawn to the characters humanity and indeed his commonness. The greatest trick I ever pulled was convincing the world Mike Skinner existed ….the rest as they say is history…..” As you can see here

Personally I never took to The Streets, it just never quite clicked. Although I could appreciate  Mike Skinners talent, and occasional bouts of genius, I found his vocal delivery rather monotonous. It was all a tad uninspiring, it seemed imbued with a  whining  quality which I’m afraid just set my nerves on edge and made my teeth hurt. However I do like  the clever  use of language, so  it’s no surprise that  Matt Abbot who performs under the name Skint and Demoralised, has caught the ever attentive ears of The VPME. Whereas  I often find  Mr  Skinners delivery as inspiring as John Major giving a three hour power-point presentation on  the merits of garden peas- on a wet Tuesday-in Spalding, 19-year-old Matt from Wakefield is a veritable Barack Obama!

2008 has been a year to remember for Matt. One in which  Skint and Demoralised have  signed to a major label,  released a limited run debut single, and recorded a debut album which also involved working with  with the Dap Kings – (“Rather than faffing around, Phil Spector would get the best group in the world and we thought we’d do the same today. The Dap Kings are the best group in the world at the moment,” he says). Matt began recording his poetry and posting it on MySpace, which was chanced upon by mysterious Sheffield musician Mini Dog.  “Mini Dog saw the Skint & Demoralised name and was intrigued. He’d been looking for singers. He’d approached Kate Nash and Adele and they’d said no, so he approached me.” Soon the pair began recording Matt’s rhymes to Mini Dog’s Northern Soul-inspired tunes. . “It all happened so quickly,” he says. “We did the demos in November and were signed by the spring!!!”

We jumped aboard the Skint and Demoralised rollercoaster and had a chat with Matt who, endearingly, still gives the impression he’s still rubbing his eyes in disbelief…

VP: Who is skint and who’s demoralised and how did the project/band come together?

MATT: In literal terms I think almost everyone in Britain is skint and demoralised! The name is more of an idea, a concept and a state of being than anything else really. The project started with me doing spoken word poetry on my own, and then I met MiNI dOG and we turned the poems into songs, and it’s grown from there. As well as all of the people working behind the scenes we now have a live band, but essentially “Skint & Demoralised” is the inspiration for where everything began.

VP: How would you describe your music?

MATT: Due to the fact that we started-out with spoken word poetry, the songs still have a spoken word element and are very much lyric-based. The grooves are Northern Soul-inspired, which is why we chose to record with The Dap-Kings (Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson) on the album and we’re also very keen on melodies and catchy-choruses. The jangly Johnny Marr guitars show our influence from The Smiths but overall I think we have quite a unique sound in the current climate.

VP:  Obviously, as mentioned, your lyrics do play a very important role, where do your ideas come from and who would you say has influenced you?

MATT: Every single lyric that I write is a true story and something that I have personally experienced. I’m a very honest, open and emotional person and I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve, and I think this definitely comes through in my lyrics. The golden rule for lyricists is to write about what you know and that’s exactly what I do. When I started with the spoken word, my main influence was John Cooper Clarke, but musically I would say Morrissey, Alex Turner, Mike Skinner and then classic British story-tellers like Chris Difford and Glen Tilbrook from Squeeze and also Paul Weller of The Jam.

VP: What have you released so far?

MATT: Our debut release was on 17th November this year, which was a limited 7″ vinyl of ‘”The Thrill of Thirty Seconds” There were only five hundred copies, but when these sold out in the week of release we decided to add the track onto iTunes. It was nice to get some radio plays under our belt and spread our name around before we launch the next single in the new year. We didn’t want to leave 2008 without having a platform and without having something to show for all of the hard work that we’ve done recording the album this summer. It’s been a very nice way to round-off the year.

VP:  How did you enjoy recording the debut album and when’s the release date?

MATT: It’s been very interesting to say the least! We started in New York with The Dap-Kings at the Daptone Studios in Brooklyn , which was an incredible opportunity for MiNI dOG and myself. It was stressful and overwhelming, but we felt confident when we returned to London for the second recording session and slowly but surely we’ve produced a record that we’re very proud of. MiNI dOG produced the album and also mixed two-thirds of the tracks, so we’ve been able to stay true to our sound and maintain the rough edge that we had on the demos. It’s due out at the start of May and we’re very excited to release it to the public and see how it’s received.

VP:  Will you be gigging next year?

MATT: Hopefully non-stop! We’re doing a nine date tour in February to promote our next single, which will no doubt be followed by an extensive tour of the UK & Ireland in April/May to promote the following single and indeed the album. After that, it’s festival season, so who knows! Either way, we’ll be spending plenty of time on the road and I can’t wait to bring our music to all corners of the country and share the experience with the fans.. It’s definitely one of the best things about being in a band!

VP:  Which bands have caught your ear this year?

MATT: Looking back, my favourite has definitely been The Last Shadow Puppets. Their album is incredible. Quite a few people criticise them because there aren’t really any original ideas from start to finish, but the writing is very intelligent and the production from James Ford is very impressive as well. It’s always an album that makes me smile, and I have quite a passion for strings, so when I saw them play live with the full orchestra it was a very memorable experience indeed. When I was in New York I met a band called Amazing Baby that I’ve also fallen in love with, and there are some lads from Northern Ireland called General Fiasco that will definitely be something to look out for next year.

VP:  What have been your most memorable moments of 2008?

MATT : Well it’s certainly been the most memorable year of my life so far! Obviously signing the record deal is something that I’ll never forget. It’s probably the most surreal moment of my life so far. Hearing The Dap-Kings play our songs in their studio in New York was a thrilling experience, and receiving our first day-time play from Sara Cox on BBC Radio 1 was a very proud moment as well. No matter what happens with my career, even if it’s over in six months, I’ll always be able to look back on 2008 with a smile on my face and say “at least I gave it a shot and had a bloody good time along the way”. That’s pretty-much all I can ask for to be honest.

VP: Would you say these days it’s very important for musicians to be “net savvy?”

MATT: It certainly makes a huge impact. After the Arctic Monkeys story, I think everyone suddenly became glued to their monitors and spend a lot more time surfing the web. Even as far back as September last year, when we hadn’t even been going for six months, I had a fully functional website and forum as well as the obligatory MySpace page, Facebook group and Bebo page. We made all of our demos available for free download and when we signed we’d had just short of ten thousand downloads. Communicating with fans, keeping them updated and giving the band an online platform is an essential part of developing your career. The vast majority of people that hear your song on the radio or see you on the television will go straight to the MySpace page if they like it. Physical sales pale into insignificance in comparison to digital sales nowadays, so I can’t see this changing any time in the near future.

VP: With Xmas just around the corner what would you hope Santa leaves in your stocking this year?

MATT: Well I’ve been eyeing-up the new box set of Smiths vinyl online recently, so hopefully I’ll drop enough hints to be opening that on Christmas day! I’m looking forward to spending some time with my family, though, because 2009 is going to be a hectic year, so I think I’ll make the most of everything whilst I can. Oh, and I wouldn’t mind the new Football Manager game either…

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“Red Lipstick” (Demo Video) By Skint And Demoralised

“The Thrill Of Thirty Seconds” By Skint And Demoralised

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