Screen Test – Projectionists Interview

Projectionists VPME -Rebecca Stephens Interview 2011

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“I certainly don’t think Thatcher is a feminist icon, she had no interest in social equality” so says Rebecca Stephens after we’ve conluded our interview and we can’t help but think “Ahh, how we’ve missed you Becki!”

So let’s recap !

Brighton’s polka dot 60’s uber girl-group revisionists  The Pipettes were undoubtedly  great fun but one always suspected they had a time limited  appeal and that creatively certain members of the group may have had more offer then forever playing the role of polka-dotted pop princesses.   Certainly  after a fabulously, frivolously, frisky debut album the band did seem to lose their way and when Rebecca Stephens, arguably the Pipette whose pop personae as “Riotbecki”  infused the group with much of its personality and spirit, quit the band many of their fans followed suit.

But the good news is she’s back,  relocated to Manchester and has a new band, Projectionists formed with her friend and multi instrumentalist Peter Marshall.  Between them Pete and Becki have recruited  a team of musicians with an enviable musical pedigree for as well as including an ex-Pipette they take in musicians from Alfie, The Earlies, Liam Frost, The Slowdown Family and Star Crossed Lovers.

Projectionists music certainly won’t disappoint Rebecca’s former fans, it still gives a nod to the infectious melodies of her former groups output but it’s a far more sophisticated musical cocktail, the sort of great indie pop that remembers the basics – if you don’t have a tune you don’t really have a song  and this is beautifully crafted, thoughtful, elegant  pop.  Stephens’ lyrics are a combination of beautiful desolation and raw honesty and whilst being introspective and confessional they never come across as self-absorbed, egocentric kvetching!  Yes they may be wistfully melancholic, but they are also full of hope. Fuck knows we could all do with some of that when we imagine David Cameron knotting his tie in the morning before setting off to implement the latest round of savage cuts( which sadly doesn’t include his own throat 😉 )

We caught up with Becki ahead of the bands EP launch and chatted about the band, her move to Manchester and also her work as singer with the ever innovative Jecsa Hoop.

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VP: Hello Becki, it’s been a while since you left the Pipettes, you had a brief joint musical project as Electric Blue and then  it all went rather quiet until we  hear news you’d upped sticks and relocated to Manchester. Was that a purely musical decision, or did you feel like you needed to get away from Brighton  for fear of forever being typecast as “Riot Becki” From the Pipettes

REBECCA:  Well the fact that I’d started writing music with Peter who was based in Manchester was obviously a massive factor, but yeah I was finding it difficult to get musicians together to work with in Brighton. I was also working as a band booker and job prospects in the area weren’t exactly great . It was one of those ‘if I don’t change now I might be stuck doing the same thing until I’m forty moments” and so I decided to radically shake things up ! Manchester was a city I’d always loved playing with the Pipettes it seemed to have a great music scene, like Brighton but bigger, and so here I am!

VP: How did the band get together and how did you decide on the kind of musical style you wanted to go for, given you all sort of come from different musical backgrounds?

REBECCA: Well that’s Pete again, he seems to know everybody, the master networker [laughs] The initial songs were my original demos arranged by Pete and then Christian brought his Moog on to that and rearranged some of the songs, as did Sam with his bass playing. Sam’s ear is amazing and he was able to pinpoint things which he thought didn’t quite work. Paul’s a great producer and he was able to draw it all together, Christian and I were maybe leaning towards a more retro sixties sound and Paul cleaned it all up a bit. So yeah it happened organically, everybody’s really good at what they do, so we’ve never had to turn around and say like, “thats bloody shit, take it off” [laughs] When it came down to the songs, everybody liked them so it was just a case of polishing and expanding them really.

VP: And your debut EP’s been released, so exciting times, I think you mentioned to me that you’re adding another two tracks taking it to six.. A maxi-EP so to speak!

REBECCA: Yeah very exciting , it’s been a long time coming we’re playing at the Castle in Manchester which is a lovely little venue so really we can’t wait . The extra two tracks were a late development really, but we decided in order to concentrate on completely new material, and start working hopefully towards an album, we’d put out everything we’ve done up to this  point, so yeah, it is like a mini album!

VP: So these two additional tracks are basically the first songs that you wrote on your own, post-Pips ?

 REBECCA: Well one track is one of the very first songs I wrote when I left the Pipettes and the other is the first we did as The Projectionists.  I used to write all the lyrics but that’s started to change. I’ve enjoyed it, it’s been a different experience as previously in The Pipettes there were seven of us all writing songs, which kind of took the pressure off . And now The Projectionists is very much about is all coming together and collaborating, my demo making process is limited due to my own technical shortcomings [laughs].  I can only play guitar and keyboard well enough to write demos, so it’s lovely to come up with a verse, a chorus or a middle eight take it to the band and these amazing musicians start playing it and I go “that’s exactly what I wanted! “

VP: The songs on the EP have quite a melodic, upbeat vibe whereas the lyrics are wistfully melancholic…

REBECCA: [laughing] Yeah I didn’t realise that until about 6 months ago when I turned to Sam and said ‘You know what my lyrics are a bit Emo really aren’t they !” which is a bit embarrassing[laughs]

 

VP: Yeah you mentioned it’s been a long time coming and the demos have been floating about for a while now, even with all the technology we have at our fingertips and social networking is it still difficult for a band to release a physical product ?

REBECCA: You know, it’s changed so much from how I remember it four years ago. It’s totally different world , it’s far more viral, the internet plays a much bigger role now. For example with The Pipettes we played four or five gigs a week, I mean that was how we did it, building up a fan base, gigging constantly and throwing out a few limited edition 7″ releases via small independent labels. That was how it all happened and it was a slow process whereas now there’s a kind of pay to play mentality, it seems less supportive, I mean I think we’ve only been paid for one gig we’ve played. To be honest it’s a bit insulting for bands not to be given anything!  That’s one reason we’ve limited our gigs, the cost of travel etc means you’re effectively losing money. So we thought ‘sod it’ we need to concentrate on making music and getting it out there!  So that’s why it took so long we were uming and ahh’ing over the best way to go about things really! Once we decided to release an EP that was the easy bit, we realised we need to focus on writing an album, maybe releasing the odd thing on the net, but really focus on the music as opposed to live shows at the moment.

VP: So the myth that bands can sustain themselves via gigging ? Not much evidence of that unless you’re huge ?

REBECCA: Yeah, I mean at a certain level you can, bands can make their money gigging during the festival season, but I would estimate you’d have to be playing venues of 1000 plus to see any real return! It’s so expensive!  So for most new bands it’s out of the question! When the Pipettes started in 2003 it used to be the norm that the first band on the bill would get about 30 quid, the support about £50 and the main band whatever the agreed fee was. I can’t remember not getting paid for a gig back then, but now it seems completely standard, I mean you don’t even get a free fucking beer!  When I was a promoter down in Brighton I’d make sure they were at least given expenses and a drink, cos I’ve seen it from both sides. So it’s defiantly changed in a negative way toward bands.

VP: So 2012 will be full steam ahead writing ?

REBECCA: Yeah, we’ve got four songs for the album and Pete’s just got a studio in Salford so we’ve decided to go in once a week and start demoing. One of the new songs we’ll be playing at the EP launch kind of captures the direction we’ll be going in! We’d love to do some festivals but we’ll have to see if we can do it without the help of the almighty booking agent !

VP:  And are you still singing with Jesca Hoop ?

REBECCA: Yeah, she’s got her third album ( second in the UK) coming out soon and so we’ll be playing some shows as of next week, so can’t wait to get out there and do that.

VP:  So how did you end up singing with Jesca ?

REBECCA: That’s due to the master networker Pete again! She’d just moved to Manchester on the back of doing a tour with Elbow and must have thought, “What on earth am I doing in sunny California ! I’ll move to Manchester!”  This is what happens you see, Manchester just draws you in  – “My life is shit, Manchester will make it better!” [laughs] So yeah, she moved here and Pete knew her manager through Elbow and heard she was looking for musicians and singers to replace her band from California. He said why don’t you audition, but when I heard her music I was like “Are you kidding me??” I’d done three part harmonies and this was like really technical singing ! I thought I’m really not gonna get this, but I went along, did the audition, and I did get it!!( that was two years ago and another reason I moved to Manchester ) I love it, she’s really opened my eyes to singing and I feel a much stronger singer for it, a lot of the time it’s just me and her in a bus which makes a big change from travelling around with about ten people in a sweaty van!

VP:  With the Projectionists You’ve supported some pretty buzzworthy bands, what’s been your fave gig so far?

REBECCA:  Hmmm, I think maybe our first stands out the most, with I Blame Coco, because there was such a buzz and it was so busy. I really thought I was gonna shit myself for fear it would all go horribly wrong beforehand as I wasn’t used to fronting a band, but as soon as I came off stage I was like – that was amazing I want to do it again!  So that felt like a major achievement, overcoming the fear, mind you some nerves are a good thing, they give you that adrenaline to see you through.

VP: Any pre-gig rituals ?

REBECCA:  I might have had a little drink in the past, but now I don’t even think about it, which was one of the best things ever, realising I could go on stage and do this without any alcohol at all! I think my main ritual now is I like to get a feel for the room, maybe get in the audience for the support, take in the atmosphere, I find that so much better than just sitting backstage stewing in the juice of your own nerves!

 

 

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Life’s A Riot-Electric Blue Interview

“Teenagers In Love” By Electric blue

“Somebody’s Help” By Electric Blue

Where do you go when the music stops? If you take away the “snap” and the “crackle” what on earth do you do with the “pop?” I suppose one might suggest this was the dilemma facing Brighton pop group The Pipettes when the artist formerly known as “Riot Becki”- Rebecca Stephens, left the band, hot on the heels of Rose “Rosay” Dougall’s departure with not an original member in sight to shake a polka-dotted skirt at…but that was then and this is now … Thankfully both ex-Pipettes are still intent on staying within the sphere of music and Becki has recently unveiled a new musical project, a transatlantic collaboration with Randy Michael from Atlanta’s sharp suited beat boys The Booze . Their musical partnership, “Electric Blue” is named, either after a line in Bowie’s classic “Sound And Vision” or series of soft porn video “magazines” from the 80’s in which large haired pneumatic ladies indulged in erm.. “fun” with unfeasibly blessed, lantern jawed, orange hued chaps who all seemed to work in the ..service industry -chauffeurs, aerobics instructors, tennis coaches et al. You would not be wrong if you suggested that this video series wasn’t exactly “plot driven” …but thankfully the songs Becki and Randy have produced  certainly appear to be been “tune driven.”

So what do they sound like? Well if The Undertones had spent more time watching “Happy Days” instead of pretending to be punks, decided on becoming a female fronted band and replaced  their lead singer, who let’s face it was a dead ringer for Mr Punch, they may have produced a sound rather like Electric Blue-  “Beauty School Drop-Out” meets “Teenage Kicks.” (In retrospect, it’s hard to square the fact that a movement such as Punk could actually spawn Easter Island statue look-alike and CEO of British Music Rights, Fergal Sharkey, who appears intent on banning everyone who has ever downloaded a music file illegally, like, ever, from having internet access-But that’s a whole other story !)

Electric Blue has a retro punky power-pop edge, which ably straddles and takes reference from various genres, and which should have your feet tapping within seconds (or foot if you’re a certain former Beatles ex) –”Hooks,” big choruses and great melodies were always a large part of Becki and RM’s musical remit in the past and they once again employ these tools to great effect, yes there maybe a nod to the bands from which they have come from but let’s face it, could you really see them reinventing themselves as Slipknot? They certainly are not just replicating what they have done in the past, there’s freshness and a sense of fun here, a new lease of life if you will. Technically it sounds superb, I don’t normally do technical as I find reducing music, which I tend to react to on an emotional level to a series of chords or quavers or techno speak tends to detract from my joy, and this collaboration is definitely infused with an exuberant sense of fun. I therefore cranked up the Von Pip fun mobile and drove off to speak to Randy Michael and Becki to find out what they’d been up to…

VP: When you left the Pips, was it your intention to get straight back into music and was solo and collaborative work something you’d often thought about getting involved in, also after 2007 when you seemed to be on tour constantly was it difficult initially to adjust to some sort of normality ?

Becki: I hadn’t really been heavily involved in music prior to The Pipettes, so I wasn’t sure what would happen, I certainly didn’t have anything planned for after I left. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I started writing, the ideas seemed to flow pretty easily and I couldn’t stop. Returning to a Monday to Friday job has been hugely influential and forced me to re-evaluate many things. Whether or not to be solo or in another band didn’t cross my mind, yet after writing for a few months I realised that I needed to bounce ideas off of somebody else. I’m my own worse enemy, I’m never happy, and I could easily disregard most of what I’ve written. I also didn’t want to fall into the trap of over self-indulgence especially as I mostly listen to upbeat, heavily melodic music and that was what I was interested in making! So it was important to find a person I clicked with; someone who understood where I was, who recognised the good from the bad – the ideas should flow organically – and that’s what I found in Randy.

VP: Randy, how did you and Becki, first meet up? Did you hit it off straight away?

RM: I met Becki under a tent at The Vfest in August of ’06 along with some of the other members of the pips. I wouldn’t say we hit it off right away; I was more interested in their drummer Joe. It was more like “hello, nice to meet you.”

VP: ……..and how did the idea to work together come about?

RM: I wanted to help out on her solo project, which led to me saying, why we don’t just start a power pop band.

Becki: Yeah, we had been chatting over the internet pretty much since we met a couple of years ago, but our conversations became more and more frequent and we joked about writing together. After I told Randy I was no longer in The Pipettes those jokes became less and less ridiculous until we were both questioning the possibility and saying to each other ‘Yeah, but why not?’, and then it just happened!

VP: Did you have an idea of the sound you wanted to produce at the outset or did it just kind of happen naturally?

RM: We wanted to do something pop, and around where I live, we all dig power pop like The Beat, The Nerves and The Boys. So musically, I wanted to take a shot at it. It’s just something I think that suits us both. Because we’d look silly singing death metal and we didn’t want to sound like the bands that we come from. It just seemed like a natural thing to do.

Becki: It wasn’t too hard. We sent so much music back and forth in order to describe what we liked, what we didn’t; which songs had awesome guitar licks, which drum sounds we liked etc etc. I think it was The Nerves ‘Hanging on the Telephone’ that cemented we were going to go down a power pop route, but it’s also a natural musical progression from both of our other bands.

VP: What about the logistics, given that one of you is based in Brighton whilst the others in Atlanta how did the writing, production and recording of the tracks work in practice?

Becki: Writing began with us swapping demos and lyrics. Randy would send some music; I’d sing over it and send it back. Or I’d send Randy a song I’d written and explain which bits needed changing, and then he’d return it fully formed. Everything happened so quickly that it was only a matter of time before reality hit and a ticket was booked for Atlanta. Having written so much over the internet is was great to finally get writing together whilst being in the same room. Two of our demos were actually written in one day, which is why we have so many more to record!

RM: Yeah, Becki and myself, we’d send these demos back and forth, she’s sing about 45 seconds of something and say “Finish that.” and then I’d do the same. Once we had something completed, I’d call Darren Dodd and Wesley Flowers, two of the Best musicians in the city of Atlanta and had them record drums and keys. Then I’d send the finished product back to Becki, and she’d do vocals for it. That way, we were already familiar with the tune, before she flew across the pond.

VP: So the name is from a series of soft porn video collections (so I’m told) who came up with that name? Any others on your short list of potential band names you’d care to share

RM: I think we were so tired of just calling names out to one another that , as soon as we thought of Electric Blue, I said “That sounds tough as f*ck, and it sounds like a power pop band from ’77, let’s use it.” I can’t remember anything else that we considered.

Becki: The name actually comes from Bowie. We knew we had to think of a name ASAP and started talking about what names we liked, what we wanted over breakfast one day. We got talking about colours, realised both of our favourite colour was blue, and just started singing ‘blue, blue electric blue . . . ‘ and there it was. The porn film reference is a happy coincidence.

VP: It was mentioned on MySpace that you have tons more songs written, any idea when these may see the light of day and any plans for any sort of official release in the future?

Becki: Hopefully there will be some 7 inches realised both sides of the pond, which will be fun, and another trip to Atlanta is planned. We’re both still writing, but I have a feeling there will be a few songs that will be recorded with us both in our respective countries. That’ll be jolly interesting!

VP: What sort of music are you both listening to at the moment?

Becki: Loads of stuff as usual. I’ve been on real eighties pop kick at the moment and can’t stop listening to Hall and Oates! Otherwise Born Ruffians, White Denim, Grizzly Bear, Life Without Buildings, The Records, Bob Dylan, The Chi-Lites, Derek Meins and the new Keane record for starters. As I’ve also started a monthly night down in Brighton, I’ve been pulling out the classics such as Charles and Eddie, Apache Indian, Human League, Candi Staton, Grandmaster Flash etc etc. I can’t stop!

RM: I’m listening to loads of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, Robert Johnson, The Boys, Thin Lizzy and Elvis Costello.

VP: You’ve also mentioned you’re working on a solo project, can you reveal any more details a
t this point?

Becki:
Yep. It’s called Into Cinders. There’s a MySpace page with a couple of demos on that I recorded before Randy and I started writing together, I’m hopefully recording a couple more in November, which I’ll add when I do. I think it will probably be a project that keeps expanding when I have time. I’m constantly writing and some stuff fits with Electric Blue and some doesn’t. I enjoy the freedom of having full musical control over my own songs, but I’m not sure it’s an alley I’d like to walk down permanently.

VP: What plans do The Booze have for the remainder of the year?

RM: We may release one more EP and close the curtain

VP: Five words each to sum up Electric Blue?

Becki: Blue, blue, electric blue. Hah!

RM: The Colour of My Room

Links

Electric Blue Myspace

The Booze Myspace

Into Cinders Myspace

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THE VPME REVIEW June/July 2008

It was once said “Those who can — do. Those who can’t — criticise.” Well you’re not going to be able to level that charge at The VPME as we have invited a panel of people who do actually “do”, to “do” reviews of this months new releases. As well as overusing the word “do” we will be trying to discover, if music is indeed the food of love ,who on earth is the indigestion?

This month we are joined by

REBECCA STEPHENS: The artist formerly known as Riot Becki, alas she can no longer lay claim to the title “Our Favourite Pipette” due to the fact that she’s left The Pipettes. She’s now working on new musical projects, which are a bit secret at the moment, but won’t, I imagine, involve wearing bunny ears. 😉

DOGWOOD: Presenter of “Music Hall Memories” on Cheambeat Communications Radio, Dogwood doesn’t “do” gadabouts or gasbags. He’s also the new face of the anti-circus league “Don’t be a clown, settle down” Have a listen to the old fellow, you might learn something!

LAURA TROUBLE: There may be trouble ahead. Well that’s ok as long as it’s Laura Trouble, front women of the Screaming Ballerinas who makes a welcome return to the panel.

(Screaming Ballerinas Interview)

LILY RAE: Singer songwriter Lily is making quite a name for herself, she’s been called “an angry Kirsty MacColl” so what better way to let off steam then review some singles!

(Lily Rae Interview)

PENNY BROADHURST: Penny’s a poet and a singer, the Guardian described her as “the Joyce Grenfell of bedroom electro” She’s a self confessed geek apparently and her work is dusted with more than its fair share of Doctor Who references. Oh and she’s from Yorkshire, so watch out.

ANDY VON PIP: Your Host…Imagine Tom Selleck in a thong (You can’t get it out of your head now can you? Secretly you quite like it…)

LINDA HOLLYWOOD; Linda’s band Havana Guns are ace, she has also won the coveted VPME quote of the year (2007) with this statement “Kaiser Chiefs just scare me. Every single one of them looks like a weird scary ventriloquist dummy. Specially the little man with the hat.” (Havana Guns Interview)

VOTE SHOWPONY: Miss Show Pony does eccentric but utterly danceable pop, and claims Showpony is her real name, we’re not sure about the latter, but we are a big fan of her saucy disco vibe.

(Vote Showpony interview)

LUKE TAYLOR: Often called “Son of Morrissey” Luke’s the lyricist and guitarist with the ace Hot Puppies. But one bands never enough these days, so now he’s formed another one, Hemme Fatale, and he’s been joined by two Hip-Hop princesses from Cardiff in order to help produce their “Funky Uber Sleaze” 😉

(Hot Puppies interview)

FOXBORO HOT TUBS – “MOTHER MARY”

DOGWOOD; “When youngsters get this riotous my usual instinct is to open the window of Dogwood cottage and throw a bucket of water over them. This usually elicits the response of an instant siege with all manner of animal matter and fireworks being poked through my letter box. There’s something altogether Cliff Richard about all this exuberance, no Carrie does not live here anymore thank you very much, no forwarding address, not after that episode where she burnt down the local comprehensive by mind power alone. I just don’t know about this song, in my minds eye I’m seeing Lesley Judd and The New Generation doing the hippy hippy shake in mustard slacks – a trifle unsettling. But then I took a look at their myspace pictures and was suddenly beguiled by monochrome photos of the sort of women that you just don’t see at the local butchers anymore. So these American idiots have won a reprieve. On the power of the leggy fifties/sixties ladies on display – Dogwood is willing to accept an apology for the music and let this lot in.

LAURA TROUBLE (SCREAMING BALLERINAS) : Green Day were my fave band when I was little, I don’t know if that’s embarrassing or not. I’m proud of it. Ha. I had pink hair and chains on my jeans. Nice. So they are branching out and experimenting, which I can imagine is a lot of fun. I kind of like the 60’s vibe of the production and the oooo’s and aaaa’s are kind of cool but I think the fact that Billie Joe is singing through his nose spoils it, hahaha. It’s probably something he finds hard not to do! It’s his trademark! I think he should have experimented with the delivery of the song to give it more depth. And I can’t really see the relevance this kind of music will have in 2008. It leaves me cold and bored to be honest. Time warp. Wakey wakey! But it will be massive no doubt. I used to draw pictures of me and Billie on our wedding day! Hurrah. I like it more and more now. . . . Ha.

LINDA HOLLYWOOD (HAVANA GUNS): This is a really sweet and very retro track, a potential summer hit with all the sure-fire ingredients. Singing about drinking too much wine and holding hands, Foxboro Hot Tubs’ “Mother Mary” makes me long for lazing in sunny parks and jumping around in sweaty clubs. That they’re the not-so-secret-anymore side project of Green Day is information better left ignored. Band members and catchy tunes aside, this is very different – in a good way. This song may not move mountains but it will fill dance floors and perhaps set a few hearts on fire.

REBECCA STEPHENS: “Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it Jet? Oh, no. Just when you thought modern retro had almost left us (sadly The Fratelli’s are still hovering), Green Day have filled the gap temporarily left by The Strokes/Hives/Vines etc, and operating under the nom de plume Foxboro Hot Tubs, are here to remind us why the aforementioned were never quite going to fill the gap left by The Kinks and The Stooges. Mother Mary dips into 60’s garage rock and offers . . . well that’s about it. There’s nothing new or exciting here; mix Jet and The Libertines and you’ve pretty much got it. Green Day fans will probably love it, as there are the usual Billie Joe references to religious imagery and rebellion and also his distinctive vocals. However, will it pull in non-Green Day fans? Is it even meant to be taken as anything more than a band locked in a room with too much wine? Do we even care? Only time will tell.

VOTE SHOW PONY: Oh Gosh, well people may hate me for writing this because it’s a nice upbeat number but……The first thing that I thought was, have I heard this guitar riff / bass riff / slash drum beat before? Unfortunately due to this every-time I listened to the song I was distracted by trying to work out if it had been used on a sync or it was just quite similar to things I have heard before. Just a bit normal for me. Sorry!

LILY RAE: “Despite being the fruit of a side-project by internationally successful eyeliner-wearing garage-punks Green Day, Mother Mary is totally indistinguishable from anything else on the tiny XFM playlist at the moment – astonishingly unmemorable, it’s just another American garage rock single to be scissor-kicked off the conveyor belt. The only difference is that it sounds like it’s desperately trying to be British. Alright, so the production has quite a nice colourful sixties vibe and a good dirty guitar sound that, at a push, could make the track reminiscent of some of Green Day’s finer moments – but it doesn’t stop poor old “Mother Mary” from sounding like a Fratellis b-side (or indeed, any other poor attempt at disguising a blatant Libertines rip-off.) “

LUKE TAYLOR (HEMME FATALE/HOT PUPPIES); I like the drums, was actually thinking of sampling (thieving) one of the fills. But ultimately I think the song can just f*ck off. If people will insist on playing meat and potatoes guitar music I wish they’d play early heavy metal like Saxon and Judas Priest. That stuff was fun and had guitar solo’s and S*tanism in it. I know NO ONE in the world except maybe the one from East 17 who got fat and bitter agrees with me but…I just think garage and punk(except Devo) is sh*t. I love early rock n roll and the 70’s were amazing with prog, disco and Krautrock. But everything went shit after the New York Dolls. Thank god Trevor Horn came along and automated it out of existence. Anyway, f*ck off this song!

ANDY VON PIP: This isn’t so much punky, as jaunty, it did have me drumming my fingers on the table top, a strange idea though, a multi-platinum selling garage band , pretend to be um, a garage band . But it’s jolly enough without being anything spectacular. I quite like the bouncy guitars but it never really takes off , albums pretty much the same, its ok but it’s more Beige Day than Green Day….…Still I shouldn’t really do what everybody does and compare this to classic Green Day, seeing them live “Dookie” era still remain some of the most exciting live gigs ever. Yes “American Idiot” was a trifle bombastic, but it was actually a top quality album, I can’t be arsed with this “sell out” rubbish people bandy about, or the guitar band backlash that’s a-coming, as people start to look to the 80’s for inspiration (wrong decade kids) Anyway this is initially a little uninspiring but played loud in your convertible on a hot summers day it becomes strangely thrilling. It actually made me want to get a tattoo of a waitress, thankfully I remained resolute. (7/10)

PENNY BROADHURST: What is this FOR? Crappy garagey Strokesian power pop we’ve heard a million times before with obnoxious vocals. Look, members of Green Day, you’re supposed to use side projects to do something MORE interesting than your day job. McFly do this sort of thing 5000 times better and with more humour. Go away.

RICK ROLLERZ “Never Gonna Give You Up”

LINDA HOLLYWOOD: Considering their name, The Rickrollerz are, seemingly, a one song band playing on that tired Rick Astley web-prank. Funny maybe, but not enough to make me want to listen to this song from beginning till end. In da club, at home or on the tube – this remix doesn’t do it for me and, to be fair, neither does the original.

LUKE TAYLOR: “I actually really love the original; Stock Aitken and Waterman are a Hemme Fatale favourite. It’s sort this years “the Hoff” isn’t it? F*ck it, I actually quite like it, and the other remix on the myspace is mega. Greed, Tories and Rick Astley all making a comeback this year. Looks like the 80’s are back (again). Shame there’s no more mines to close.

DOGWOOD: “Where’s my bloody axe? I need to excommunicate someone’s excessive quif from the owners numbskull scalp. Now I never did Astley the first time round, I find gormless Hull soulboys gadding about in Farahs and chains trying to look vaguely attractive to big bosomed shop assistants from Penrith at Haven, Prestatyn Sands a sight likely to induce both moral and physical outrage. This demonstrates the utter futility of life under Gordon Brown. Why else would someone want to resurrect something so utterly Thatcherite? Greed is good? Eastenders? Wogan chat shows? T’pau? Who else thinks the eighties were a good idea? Come on, out you come; I’ve a Bren gun with a full magazine and an itchy trigger finger. My favourite Rick Astley moment was on “Vic Reeves Big Night Out” when he stepped out and started singing in a sheepskin jacket and then I realised that it was Bob Mortimer. You see, the point about a vacuous Max Bygraves clone with a ginger quif from Hull, is , that there is no point and tw*ts that feel the need to come up with this sonic earache deserve to be accused of witchcraft and suffer trial by ordeal. Dogwood as Matthew Hopkins in destructive witch-hunting mood.”

LAURA TROUBLE: “I don’t understand why I’m reviewing a lazy terrible remix of a classic dancefloor tune. Why why why why the need!?”

LILY RAE: “What I can only assume started as a sozzled brainwave is now an aneurysm-inducing gimmick that dance-producers the Rickrollerz have seen fit to inflict on the world. It’s actually pretty convincing as a late-nineties house track – it could’ve been a contender at the time. The fact that it’s a new (disturbing) take on an old (even more disturbing) song just means it’s OK to dance “knowingly” to it. You have to give them kudos for making the best of a bad situation, even if you start worrying that they’re actually doing it in earnest. Astley probably doesn’t mind though. Consider thyself rickroll’d. I, on the other hand, never, ever, ever want to hear Never Gonna Give You Up again.

VOTE SHOW PONY: “Being a child born in the 80’s I LOVEEEEEE me a bit of Rick Astley. Even the crazy fading in & out over kill can’t ruin this song for me & I’ll tell you why!!! Because it is a remix of one of the best pop songs ever written. Who doesn’t want to do a flip off a wall when listening to this???”

ANDY VON PIP: If there are three things that are guaranteed turn me puce with apoplectic rage, its Stock Aitken and Waterman, and this remix has about as much point as Jade Goody. Utter tripe, an unsubtle and crass attempt to cash in on the “hilarious” internet phenomenon called “Rickrolling”, maybe if you’re a 6th form media student, or find the “situationalist” comedy of Bobby Davro a real rib tickler, then this would have you wetting your corduroys with unbridled mirth, but in reality it’s about as funny as having your teeth removed with a spoon. I couldn’t stand this auburn hued cherubic moon faced man-boy the first time round, it seemed that poor Rick’s gonads hadn’t just dropped, they’d positively plummeted. I also had trouble with the fact that this chubby little office tea boy, gave the impression he’d just stepped out of the local John Colliers shop window, bedecked in a blazer , beige slacks and brogues. Furthermore he appeared to have been possessed by the voice of Paul Robeson. In the Eighties many people were convinced when they heard his thick as treacle “man-voice” that he must be a black soul singer. Problem was, as with all of S.A.W.’s protégés, they lacked that one essential ingredient, namely “soul”. Then of course there was Rick’s stupid little self conscious dance, he looked about as comfortable as somebody whose just done a pudding in their kecks and is trying to discreetly hail a cab. Last and very possibly least there’s the song , a fine example of how irritating the 80’s could be (and believe me it was….Timmy Mallet, Rusty Lee, “Einstein A-Go-Go” anybody ? ), these remix folk (who I imagine are student types) have done what I thought was neigh on impossible, and have turned the aural version of pig swill into something even more unpalatable, proof positive that you can’t polish a turd. Yes folks this time round it’s even more annoying! Its not kitsch, its not knowingly tongue in cheek fun, it’s not ironic, or iconic, it’s quite simply sh*t. (Or to use the annoying habit of putting super in front of every bloody thing these days , it’s Super F***ing sh*t). I bet Jeremy “Hairstyle like a dinner-lady” ” Clarkson liked Rick Astley, I bet he found him harmless fun, and a little bit funky! “Now that’s a tune” he’d say”…the C*ck ! … Miles Hunt said it best, “Astley in a Noose”… Next (Minus 100/10)

PENNY BROADHURST: “All novelty and “ironic” records and remixes must die. Cash-in bollocks for the terminally thick. It’s not like the old days when there were only 3 new releases a week to potentially spend your money on. Save up and buy your mum a Wii Fit instead.

POPPY AND THE JEZEBELS -“UFO”

(interview here)

LILY RAE: “Now here is a rare and wondrous thing – a 2008 track that’s just on the right side of retro. UFO might have Debbie Harry’s fingerprints shamelessly smudged all over it, but it’s still merry and fun – note the lack of a capital F – with a good splash of irony to help the eighties tick-tock rhythm go down. The worst you could say about it is that it’s inoffensive and it gets a bit dull after a while but hell, it’s charming, and less ego-driven than Girls Aloud.”

REBECCA STEPHENS: “When a young band appears, from the depth of music cynicism, it’s difficult to stop lingering on the age and just concentrate on the music. However there are many young bands out there making music that others would happily call their own; Operator Please, Smoosh, Those Dancing Days to name a few. So onto the music. The quirky intro of swirling, space-age noise and keys sets the tone nicely for a song entitled UFO, before the reggae-esque stylings and monotone vocals reminiscent of The Slits, anchors this song from flying away into a blaze of effects and Wurlitzers. The chorus doesn’t quite offer up the pop expectations of the introduction and verses, but is catchy enough to carry the song and avoids the dead pan emotion of The Organ. There are the obvious Slits influences, maybe self-consciously so at times, and I have to say it didn’t quite hit the spot for me. Not that I can rule them out. Will I be checking out their progress? Most definitely! What remains to be seen is whether these girls are able to make a dent in a densely populated male music scene that appears to have garnered all recipes for success.”

VOTE SHOWPONY: This song made me think if the Bangles were teenagers from Birmingham would they sound like this? And then I thought, probably not but I still like it a whole lot.

DOGWOOD: “I suppose having vaguely swirly noises playing behind a plinky-plonky melody is somehow redolent of a vague sci-fi theme but I don’t think it would be enough to get Venus from Fireball XL5 up on the dance floor. She’s hard enough to please that one without trying to tempt her with a tune that sounds like it’s been worked out by lasses from the Gas Board on their dinner break. When the plinky bits dissolve into the chorus it all becomes a bit listless and despite the fact that they are four young lasses who would, if they could, gad about in a Mary Quant time machine of Chelsea Girl and Jackie fuelled nostalgia, it’s like listening to your older sister when you were 13 and she was 16 and she had her mates round. There you were straining for a glimpse of lacy knickers from her tasty looking best mate or maybe a sly elbow brush against lace brassiere and what happens is that you get sussed out, get clouted around the head and get a reputation as a pervy peeping Tom. Not that that happened to me you understand. The idea is better than the reality. Four young girls in go go boots singing about space craft – yes please I thought but, no, it was a bit of a let down. Dogwood contemplating the endless frustration about failing to manage expectations about the female species and their promises of tantalising excitement.”

ANDY VON PIP: “I like this one it’s got a Shop Assistants/Belle Stars and even an Elastica feel to it, and before anybody starts chucking around Spice Girl comparisons lets be clear, this sounds bugger all like anything those talentless Thatcherite harridans have ever produced. Well, one of the lasses in this band likes the Spices but it’s not her fault, she’s got time to realise with hindsight what a monstrous cultural carbuncle they were… But it’s nice to know the band love stuff like The Cramps, Patti Smith and Nick Cave. This is the sort of cool popiness that credible indie labels used to issue in the good old days. I like this lots, even if they do make me feel positively geriatric.” (8/10)

LUKE TAYLOR: “Oooh, hard this. They’re only young and being negative about it makes me feel a bit like Cruella Deville. But I suppose I don’t want to be patronising to them and should just judge the song. It’s just a bit boring. It sounds like mid 90’s Brit pop. Which I think is the most boring music. It sounds like it’s quite expensively recorded. But just a bit lifeless. It’s not rubbish though. And that Cleopatra song is good, with good lyrics.

PENNY BROADHURST: “I like the synths, hate her voice…and can’t people copy a bit of the ’80s that other people *aren’t* doing or at least add SOMETHING OF THEIR OWN CHARACTER AND WRITE IDIOSYNCRATIC LYRICS? I’d get less bored.”

LINDA HOLLYWOOD: “What could be heavenly Blondie is more like Kate Nash on crack. And I guess the latter would be kind of cool if it wasn’t for this song being painfully mediocre. With better production and a catchier chorus “UFO” might have qualified as a Spice Girls album filler. But girl power it ain’t.”

LAURA TROUBLE: “These Brit Pop pixies will no doubt write many songs to rival this one in the future- But I do like it, it’s cute and slick. I think the actual song is quite repetitive for my tastes; it goes round and round and doesn’t go anywhere. But I like all the parts. I don’t want to be patronising and say the obvious “they’re so young! Well done girls!” thing, because that would be bullshit. They are young musicians who write songs and shouldn’t be given special treatment. Why are they singing in cockernee Laaandaaan accents when they’re from Birmingham? How strange”

MGMT -”Electric Feel”

VOTE SHOW PONY: Well Andy, as you know I mentioned this lot in our interview. This song is lyrically & melodically the best thing I have heard all year. In my humble opinion it should be a total hit, sigh, I wish I had written it. I want to weep with joy that there are still innovators out there writing truly wonderful pieces of pop music. It also makes me want to dance naked around a camp fire playing some mini bongos. Who’s in?

LINDA HOLLYWOOD: “Do you come from the land down under? Or staying alive perhaps? The influences may be wacky but the sunny surf sound of “Electric Feel” kind of works, however wrong it may seem. The radio remix is short and sweet and definitely morish. And if you’re not convinced, I’ve got a feeling there is more to come – “Electric Feel” is a mere taster of what is the strange world of MGMT.”

ANDY VON PIP: Oh is it my turn? I was just about to get some kindling for that camp fire… Ahem!….By rights I shouldn’t like this, on the surface it appears to be bohemian NYC electro arty foppishness at its worst, what some folk used to call ava nt gardener or something …However against all the odds I love MGMT’s album , “Pieces Of What” is one of the songs of the year, it’s melancholy, evocative and moving. I can imagine oxen headed BBC pundit, Ray Stubbs singing “Pieces Of What“, as he wistfully reflects on his lot during Euro 2008. A sad, lonely figure, reduced to bit part pitch side interviewer, whilst Lineker Hansen and Co. chuckle away smugly in the warmth of the studio. Another standout track is “Kids” which is like being on “E“whilst trying to escape from a bouncy castle, but “Electric Feel” always confused me… It’s a strange 1970’s disco affair, which has a familiar sound. Yet paradoxically, manages to seem wholly original at the same time. It definitely brings to mind a white suited Travolta prancing about with his absurdly bushy primate- like hairline and doing the sort of bizarre hip wiggling that no right thinking male would have the audacity to attempt without feeling a deep sense of shame. The poor lad looked like he was having some sort of bowel spasm, and lets face it , if you’ve got a dodgy bowel, white is not really the safest colour to wear is it ? Thankfully Travolta dancing was something I’d mentally filed away long ago under “disturbing.” There’s something about this track that makes me want to go to Studio 54 , “strut my funky stuff” whilst “shaking my thang” and then have gratuitous s*x with coked up long legged lovelies whilst groovy Mo’fo’s “get down” to a Tavares inspired soundtrack …..And I’m not quite sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.” (7/10)

REBECCA STEPHENS: “Set to be the song of the summer, Electric Feel is one of the more accessible songs from the Brooklyn duo’s debut album Oracular Spectacular. Drawing on the sweeping, melodic psychedelia of Mercury Rev and crunchy pop of The Flaming Lips (how can it not with Dave Fridmann producing), MGMT have created an album wherein every song creates a world for the listener. Electric Feel is a song that oozes lazy summer days. It’s a driving song that is equally at home on any dance floor. With the shimmering keys and funky bass, it’s a sexy song that hints at Prince and Gary Numan. Bringing a freshness and twist of the absurd (‘shock me like an electric eel/turn me on with your electric feel’) to 80’s electro, it’s hard not enjoy the journey MGMT are taking us on.”

PENNY BROADHURST: “I am too old and secure in myself to care whether or not I am “supposed” to like this. I remember the real 1980s; I don’t need the faux version currently storming the charts. That said, there are some tasty sounds on this. I just don’t really like getting the sense that I’m watching a romantic comedy from 1987 starring someone from a US sitcom, which is how this feels, only with “hipper” vocals. I’d rather jack.”

LILY RAE: “To me, Electric Feel is like a nice exfoliating scrub – the sexy, bouncing bass and chiming keyboard riff leaves you and your skin feeling fresh and rejuvenated, as though you’ve been covered in cucumber slices and told to dance like a stripper in the jungle. It’s already common knowledge that MGMT are too talented for their own good, and with a slinky production akin to Gnarls Barkley (or perhaps Peter Gabriel in his finer days) and layers of sound not dissimilar to Of Montreal or the Scissor Sisters, Electric Feel confirms their status as the long-awaited pioneers of decent electronica. God knows we needed some. These boys know what they’re doing.

LAURA TROUBLE : “I Love Love Love this album! It is a work of art! It’s such a relief to have someone doing something sparkly and new that I can dance to and that also chills me out and sends me to another world. This song is one of the albums highlights, disco-tastic, with gorgeous sexy vocals that sound neither female nor male. It shows that you can be inspired by an era without ripping a sound off completely. The MGMT album is flawless, original and timeless. It’s just a pity that they cannot replicate the songs live. That’s the problem with over produced music I guess. They spent their first shows jumping around to a backing track of their album, with a bottle of beer in their hand!”

DOGWOOD: “I think Peter Purves summed it up nicely when he said ‘And whilst Johnny (Noakes) is mounting Nelson’s Column/Jumping out of an RAF Hercules without any insurance at 20000ft/Riding the Cresta Run using his backside as a toboggan etc I shall be in the studio stroking Jason’. This has ‘camp nonsense’ shrieking out all over the place like some hysterical hairdresser who can’t find his cutting comb. I’m seeing camp types in flowery smocks, cravats and whatever else they wear in Greenwich Village these days. I like my music to be like a no-nonsense haircut – nothing complicated, a quick trim and maybe a whoosh of talc to ease that back of neck chaffing that you sometimes get when Nick the Barber forgets to strop his cut-throats. This lot not only want to shove a pack of novelty Johnnies in my hand but also can’t wait to get the perming kit on my otherwise regulation follicles. I can’t be doing with that – much too involved and will take too much explaining to the lady friend. Dogwood putting his cap on and walking away swiftly.

LUKE TAYLOR: “I’ve been listening to this song for a while now. I love it. It’s my fave single this year so far, well maybe this or “-Pro Nails” by Kid Sister. It’s dirty and funky and sounds a bit like Shakira in the middle. They obviously love tons and tons of different music. Not just Sham 69, like every band in Britain seems to at the moment. When this song is in the middle I already want to rewind to the start.

LATE OF THE PIER – “The Space and the Woods

DOGWOOD: “This sounds like someone’s taken a Tubeway Army album track and played it at 45rpm. Now I didn’t’t do Numanoids the first time round, I find thinning dyed black hair, slightly goofy teeth and the eyelined eyes of a corpse a disturbing proposition when pushing a trolley down the aisle at Somerfield’s. This is yet more 80’s glorification for me, it lurches around trying to grab at every early eighties post punk/pop cliché out there even doffing its Robin Hood cap to cod-new romanticism. At the risk of repeating myself, the eighties were crap and only those that weren’t old enough to realise this fact will want to resurrect it. Let me try and convince you that this is a Stalingrad that we should never return to: Imagine entering a room where your hosts are bouffanted haired gadabouts with shoulder pads who point excitedly to their Eurhythmics CD on the coffee table, nudging cosily up to a Sade ersatz Jazz album. Meanwhile said hosts are trying to convince you that it’s great that Elton John and Phil Collins have had their careers given a rocket boost by a procession of vacuous stadium orgies of self-indulgence. The same orgies of self-indulgence where the likes of Bonio and Sting cut their politically correct teeth learning the pronunciations of every member of the African National Congress. You look to the TV for some relief only to be confronted by the sight of so-called everyday life in an East London hamlet where everyone is gay; straight; has HIV; is pregnant whilst still being a schoolgirl; is on the rob; has slept with their own sisters step son’s father; spends their entire wages eating in a ‘caff’ all day and then all night in a pub and so on. You turn over to the football only to find the likes of Chris Waddle with a ludicrous mullet and even more ludicrously small pair of shorts playing a game where Liverpool win 2-0 and bore everyone to submission. Yes, even football was crap in the eighties. Late of the Pier? Jump off the pier more like. Dogwood taking de-stressing medication to move away from the provocation of the 1980’s.”

VOTE SHOWPONY; “It’s got some nice fancy synth sounds & I like the lyrics. I think it would be great in a club.”

REBECCA STEPHENS: “Continuing on with the current 80’s electro trend of synth leaden, space-age pop, Space and the Woods is taken from Castle Donnington four piece Late of the Pier’s Zarcorp Demo. Here we have yet another song heavily leaden with multiple synths and vocals referencing ‘buzz’ influence of the moment Gary Numan. However, with new wave nuances, glam undertones and bass reminiscent of Death From Above, this sound is dominating ‘new’ indie music and unfortunately has been heard one too many times of late. It just seems to miss the mark.

LILY RAE: “The po-faced lyric “suicide is in my blood”, sung without a trace of irony, is surely in the top ten risky ways to start a song. It gets riskier still when you pile synth after synth on top of each other and create a kind of distorted synthesiser mayhem which ruins any chance Space And The Woods had of being a decent single (a shame, because it was halfway there). The deciding clinch arrives when you realise that the track doesn’t really go anywhere – you should never feel like you’re waiting for a song to get exciting. It sounds more than a little behind its time; the lack of any discernible tune combined with the overuse of ‘kooky’ keyboard sounds prevents it from being anything more than a potential 5 o’clock weekday gameshow theme tune. You can dance to it, I suppose, but only for so long. It fits in your laptop and does nothing.”

PENNY BROADHURST : “Hello Gary Numan. Wot? Wot? Wot? PS You are not American. Why do I just want to nick all the synths and bin all the songs in my “reviews”?”

ANDY VON PIP: I don’t get this really, and whilst listening to it I too started to mumble “Here in my car I feel safest of all, I can lock all my doors, in cars” A sentiment that may not have been shared if young bequiffed tearaway, James Dean had been in the driving seat. But that lyric really did sum up the depth and range of Gary Numan’s emotive profound and often deeply moving song writing skills. Numan, a huge fan of Bowie was desperate to be regarded as the new Thin White Duke, but sadly he more often than not cut the more comical figure of “The Fat White Grub” and was also known as (by me at least) “Alfred Twitchcock or Flinch Eastwood” due to the bizarre nervous ticks that would suddenly spring forth without warning and make the audience in the front row feel decidedly uneasy. As for this lot, they really should leave the 80’s well alone, unless you consider shoulder pads frilly shirts and coating your face with more make up than your average clown, a good time. I’m with Dogwood , the 80’s were crap, in terms of fashion, politics and music, absurdly mulletted brickies called Barry dressed up in hideous shiny electric blue suits complete with tukka boots, watery McEwans lager, gut rotting Diamond White cider , Kevin “ruddy” Bacon, greedy yuppie toffs, legwarmers, aerobics, rah rah skirts which confused many an amorous young chap, secretly pinching your sisters eyeliner and lasses with so much gel in their hair that the romantic gesture of running your fingers through their hair was more treacherous than playing catch with a ball of razor-sharp barbed-wire. Yes we had the likes of The Smiths the Cure and The Mary Chain but these were shining beacons in a turbid sea of stylised manufactured crud. I know this because I was there. Anyway this song thumps, bleeps shrieks, and occasionally even throbs, but it doesn’t really get me excited, and rather like an episode of “My Family” it left me feeling vaguely bereft of joy. Maybe they have better songs tucked way somewhere. For proper electronic music you best listen to Ladytron (who are Gods) lads, not Numanoid hang glide guff. (6/10)

LINDA HOLLYWOOD: “This band’s MySpace page is unreadable: white font on light grey background. I have to “select all” to read it. The only text in sensible black is the description which states that Late of the Pier plays “music to have asthma to”. I know what they mean; “Space and the Woods” is thrusting heavily in different directions. And I like it, but mostly because it reminds me of TV on the radio and Clor. Not perfection but definitely going somewhere, I just need to stop and breathe before I can tell you where.”

LAURA TROUBLE: “Late of the Pier are a S.B fave. I saw them support the Cribs a year ago and totally fell in love with them. Their lead singer is so sexy and magnetic to watch. They were so confident and fearless with their show and their music, which is really inspiring for another musician. This isn’t my fave song of theirs but it’s great none the less. All their songs are like, made up of nine choruses just mashed together, and for some reason it works! Genius. ‘The space and the woods still know who I am!‘… I really want to know what he’s talking about!!!! Why can he talk to trees and I can’t? And how come he can sing higher than me? Not fair.

LUKE TAYLOR: Not my favourite of thier songs. But none the less really good. They look like they’re from space and sound all celestial. It’s a bit like Gary Numan and A-ha in places. But overall this reminds me of Faith No More. Which is a good thing.

PORTISHEAD- The Rip

REBECCA STEPHENS: “Having been away since 1999, allowing for a few intermittent performances, side projects and solo outings, I had no idea which way the wind would blow on the new Portishead record aptly titled Third. What has blown is this maudlin wonder The Rip. The sparseness of this song allows Gibbon’s enchanting melancholy to just be. It is tender and gentle, but don’t be fooled. Like a tributary running towards the sea, this song meanders, building up to near crescendo before settling down with driving beat as the vocal hauntingly holds; disappearing, before softly fading out. This is a tender song, less edgy than on previous records, but that definitely is a strength. It truly is gorgeous and shows that even after nearly a decade away, Portishead are still capable of creating luscious soundscapes.”

PENNY BROADHURST: “I rather like this. It starts a bit 2004 folktronica-ish (not that I like stupid genre names), so they’re clearly not interested in trends – a good thing. Beth’s voice, as ever, is the best thing about it. I’m glad it’s the single – it’s my favourite off the album. It could be dull, acoustic and soundscapey, but then it builds to the fully electronic bit with the sustained oohs and you get the lift when Beth comes back in properly. Tasty. I like the version Radiohead have been knocking about with, too.”

DOGWOOD: “I went out with a lass from Portishead – the place not the band – once and in the heightened throes of our heavy petting she would often start the sort of whimpering that the lass from Portishead – the band not the place – breaks out into on a regular basis. Invariably pop music makes me want to commit great feats of violence which my self-control always seems to reign in sufficiently to prevent me from being a danger to the general public. I have to say though that this song soothes me like a cold flannel after I’ve had a prolonged ranting session at the telly, probably at Anton Dec presenting ‘Britain’s got a load of deluded psychotics” and ITV feed us this televisual equivalent of Iceland food day after day and we just take it’. Portishead produce music that comes from a saner era of Cold Wars, Cambridge Spies and universal suspicion of anyone East of Berlin. I only wish the rest of pop music adopted these fine principles. Dogwood is standing on a street corner, reading a newspaper waiting for the Tulips to rise in Red Square adoring this song.”

LAURA TROUBLE: “How lovely this sounds; I would be interested in investing in their album after this, definitely. The track is delicate and beautiful, the PJ Harvey-esque vocals are macabre and soothing and I love the Radiohead-like shift half way through the song. Sleepy gorgeousness.”

LUKE TAYLOR: This one is beautiful. It has some of that sad intimacy that Leonard Cohen has. The arrangements are nice too. It has a bit of a Can feel. Gives me that slightly scared, slightly in awe feeling like when you watch nature programmes and a lion gets an antelope. Lovely.

LINDA HOLLYWOOD: Beautiful and dark are good adjectives to possess if you are a song. Scary and cold could go either way but in the case of Portishead’s latest it is undoubtedly good. Beth Gibbon’s haunting vocals accompanied by classic guitar picking introduce “The Rip”, but it is halfway through, when these elements morph into synths, that this song becomes special. It is lifted by the soft and feather-light electronic beats that suddenly sound fat and heavy, and dare I say, catchy.

VOTE SHOWPONY: I listened to this song after a bit of a stressful day. Actually it wasn’t too stressful I was being a stroppy girl simply because I was having a bad hair day. But thankfully as soon as I put this track on I realized I was being a knob & all my stresses drifted away. There’s mention of a horse which, being equine I love, but all joking aside it’s so beautiful & eerie & has a lovely build that made me tingle. Welcome back Portishead.

ANDY VON PIP : I saw this lot performing this on TV a while back, and whilst the years had been kind to Beth, one of the chaps looked like he’d been on more than nodding terms with “Greggs The Bakers” during the ensuing years away from the music biz , I did wonder if they’d thought of changing their name to Portly-head. Now then, as for the song I do love this, its menacing, atmospheric , and reminds me of Stevie Smiths poem “Not Waving But Drowning.” If I was drowning I’d like to drown to this, not that I want to drown, this song ebbs and flows, and unlike the water around Merseyside is effluence free. Hypnotic, edgy, evocative and full of mournful beauty. This is also the best song on the album by far. (9/10)

LILY RAE: “I have to confess to not being entirely familiar with Portishead’s music, despite being repeatedly told that they’re “right up my street.” The Rip, the second single from Portishead’s forthcoming album Third, most certainly is – it begins with a haunting mixture of humming theremin and simplistic nylon guitar, accompanied by a whispering Emily Haines/Joni Mitchellesque vocal from Beth Gibbons. The vocal is the centrepiece of the track – glasslike in its fragility, yet it remains powerful over the gradual build-up of sound. It’s surrounded by echoing, home-grown drum and synth sounds and shimmering guitars which transform it from soft silk into dreamy trip-hop fantasy. It’s spooky. It’s melancholic and euphoric at the same time. It’s too beautiful.”

VIDEO REVIEW …..BJORK – Wanderlust

LUKE TAYLOR: This is, of course, brilliant and magical. It starts off sounding like two cruise ships having a conversation. It’s almost impossible to know what to write about this song. Which show’s how good and out there and on her own she is. Lyrically it’s like a tone poem or something. With really beautiful images in it. Musically it’s just a busy beat and some really strange horns. I wish there were more Bjorks.

ANDY VON PIP: I reckon if Bjork was called Agnes Drabblesworth and hailed from Dudley, people wouldn’t find her half so mystical and ethereal. Personally I think she’s about as wacky and interesting as a manhole cover… on a wet day….in February….in Congleton….on a Tuesday. I had the misfortune to see Bjork perform with the Sugarcubes years ago as a young egg. They were dreadful, she spent most of the time giggling into her hand, screaming for no reason I could see, talking utter bollox, and randomly skipping around the stage like some sort of demented imp .There was a young fan near the front of the stage who had taken a few photos and who had been spotted by Eeeyore (or whatever his name was) and Bjork, they very kindly offered to take the fans camera on stage and take some close ups of the band. The fan was clearly delighted and when they’d duly taken some remarkable snaps, with the band striking various poses, they looked at the fan, smiled, gestured to hand the camera back , but instead, they suddenly hurled it into the centre of the crowd, being Liverpool it wasn‘t too likely she‘d be getting the camera back……nice touch eh ?…….Bjork screeched with delight like a young Annie Wilkes, and excitedly started skipping around the stage at break neck speed whilst clapping her hands, meanwhile the whole band chortled with cold, malicious glee ..The audience weren’t too happy and started chanting “Puffin-eaters” at which point the band had a strop and walked off!! ….. So I have to say Bjork, gets right on my dander. All this irritating mystical elfin pixie nonsense and that ludicrously conspiratorial expression that she gets on her face as if she’s about to impart some sort of life changing secret to us all. But of course she never does, she just farts around with dead swans on her head , squawks, warbles, tells people to shhhh, then screeches, looks sagaciously at the camera and effects new age “wackiness”. This sort of damn fool behaviour would be annoying in a toddler, but is downright infuriating in a grown woman. She’s about as mystic as Mystic bloody Meg but without the cultural relevance. I tried to be objective, but as soon as I saw her little anaemic smurfs face I could feel my blood pressure rise, and then she started to sing and as usual she reminded me of Joe Pasquale with asthma breathing in helium whilst being kicked in the b*llocks by Sandra Dickinson. This is the sort of otherworldly claptrap that drama students, geography teachers, vegans and ageing Hippy chicks (you know those eccentric single ones, who still think “kooky” is endearing at 55, do tarot cards, prattle about karma and Hobbits, drink too much red wine and frighten young lads at nightclubs ) lap up as some sort of work of genius. She’s like a new age Annie Lennox for the bourgeoisie “Oh Tarquin have you heard Bjork’s latest CD , its just divine, she’s just like, so esoteric, she really is on an another astral plane“ …..… The video reminds me of those bizarre dubbed Czechoslovakian kids dramas which used to terrify me during the summer holidays. I watched it with the same sort of morbid curiosity that Sesame Street used to induce, irritating but impossible to tear your eyes away! She’s also responsible for the solitary occasion I laughed at Dawn French which is unforgivable………Oh and she’s got weird eyes too. Rant over! … (4/10)

LILY RAE : “ I’ll confess to feeling somewhat disenchanted with pixie-faced Icelandic siren Bjork’s latest album (Volta) on the first listen – but as with much of her work, it’s a grower, and Wanderlust is surely the stand-out track. Throughout her career Bjork has remained in a fairyland of her own, refusing to compromise to anyone or anything – so no-one should feel the need to ask why she opts to open a song with foghorns and seagulls. As the track progresses, she combines a chilling brass section with electronic dance beats, both of which compliment her trademark soaring, lung-bursting vocal. It’s a rich, life-affirming tune to get lost in, and the track most similar to her previous songs on Post and Homogenic. Therefore it seems quite fitting for Encyclopedia Pictura to bring it to life with a Where The Wild Things Are-esque video, using computer graphics and what-looks-like-plasticine-but-probably-isn’t to create bizarre imagery reminiscent of Michel Gondry’s colourful work on The Science Of Sleep. It begins with Bjork (wearing a huge yellow hat) surrounded by animated buffalo. As we later discover (as she rushes downstream on the back of a grumpy beast), she seems to be carrying a strange little clone of herself around in a rucksack. The highlight, though, is the emergence of what looks like a giant cat-God from a three-dimensional river (one of those things which must be seen to be appreciated). Bjork comes face to face with what seems to be her adversary, before collapsing into a waterfall and rushing through a tunnel of spectacular bubbling light – she is then met with a huge pair of human hands, and the video abruptly ends. The video could not be more perfect for the song, and the animation is certainly nothing less than beautiful; but what in the name of Gudmundsdottir does it mean?

REBECCA STEPHENS: “Not afraid of fantastical videos, this video directed by Encyclopedia Pictura (Isaiah Saxon and Sean Hellfritsch), and shot in the popular 3D style, is mind blowing. Mixing special effects and animation we see Bjork become a nomad shepherding giant yaks through a kaleidoscopic landscape, which at times attack the senses but draws you ever deeper in. The video embodies the song, taking on a literal representation of Wanderlust (a desire for travel and new adventure) and what a journey. From the beginning of the video with Bjork’s decision to move the yaks or not through hydromancy, to her being pulled into the future by the Rivergod, it appears to reference her state of mind whilst writing Volta last year. Bjork has stated that she has periods of hungering more ‘relentlessly restless, restless relentlessly’, and sees Wanderlust as an extension of Hyperballad. I wonder how anyone can question anything Bjork does or touches, it’s all gold. Just watch it, listen to it, and enjoy the compelling ride.”

VOTE SHOWPONY: “Oh to be Bjork! Wouldn’t you love to get inside her head? Yet anther mesmerizing, but utterly bonkers piece. Lets start with the video. I’m a big fan of animation & I just love how well the visuals work with the story that’s being told. I’m a bit terrified by the person that grows from Bjork’s back pack though. In some scenes I had trouble working out if they were fighting each other or doing something rather risque! The Bison (at least I think that’s what she was riding) looked like a very trustworthy travelling partner but I’m not sure about the giant owl with the tongue sticking out. Is there something deep & meaningful with the owl that I’m missing? When you’re dealing with Bjork there doesn’t have to be a reason does there & that’s why I love her! Now onto the song. I adore it, I’m a big fan of the word Wanderlust, it’s such a great way of explaining the desire to travel & it sets up the rest of the lyrics beautifully. Bjorks managed to bring me on a lovely & magical journey once again.”

LINDA HOLLYWOOD: “I don’t get Bjork so I’m not going to review the song, just the video. And quite a video it is. It’s strangely modern while being really old-fashioned, you know, like “Lord of the Rings” but the other way around, sort of… This mythical landscape seems to be the perfect surrounding for Bjork; it blends perfectly with her persona. I just wish they made computer games like this!”

PENNY BROADHURST : “Look, children who do not remember the 1980s making music of the 1980s with all the tropes but none of the scope, this is not “quirky”, this is someone who is genuinely original and brilliant. THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE. More foghorns, brass and monsters in pop, please, and fewer cowbells. This reminds me of the Eastern European animations and ensuing dreams of my youth, in a good way. It’s more than just a distraction.”

LAURA TROUBLE: “Being part Icelandic and being a slightly barmy female, in my eyes Bjork can do no wrong. Her voice is literally from another planet, and reduces me to tears very easily. Her voice shook the earth when she performed wanderlust at Glasto last year; I pushed to the front all by myself and bawled my eyes out. She is a perfect alien queen. The video is totally nuts, and full of weird sexual things that you blink and nearly miss….. Like the monster with massive arses swinging in and out of its head like gills on a fish. What more could you ask for? Not much.

DOGWOOD: I suppose that there is out there, certain types – usually vegansexuals who read the Guardian arts supplement, choose their breakfast on feng shui principles, think that rocket and parmesan are yesterdays news compared to the new thing – spider crab and new cut grass, have a stupid haircut, wear even more stupid glasses and watch subtitled European films – for whom Bjork is part of their staple diet. Because they are terminally hip and she is terminally weird. Everything she does is weird so much so that she has become predictable in being predictably weird. Forgive me though, when behaviour becomes predictable does it not therefore become the ‘norm’. Being weird is normal for Bjork and that has made her a little dull. She would be more interesting if she did something mainstream – that would be a shock. So I approach this video and song with a weariness hewn from an expectation that she will be throwing images and sounds at me that will look and sound like the leftovers from a buffet of New Labour advent-gardists. I am not disappointed, after a minute of fog horns we’re into the usual ‘Tales From Europe’/’Singing Ringing Tree’ territory with a too-clever-for-its-own-good semi animated piece featuring a load of beasts from where the wild things are that makes little sense to the passing tourist. I sort of expect at the end of the video for Bjork to pop up and all smug-elfin faced and say: “Well, wasn’t that weird?” No, I reply, merely predictable. Dogwood a little tired of having to make small talk with the sun-dried tomato and toasted pine nut brigade.”

“Looks Like Portishead are the winners with “The Rip” , which is rather lovely. Thanks to all the guests, and check out their music too.

And here’s a little video that my chum Doggers and I filmed together at the Pinenut Studio sound stage in Cheambeat to promote the review. Cheers , VP x”

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