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Monday, 2 March 2009

The Monthly - February 09

In other music news...

Here’s a round up of other excellent things to come my way this month…a new Fleet Foxes track, the Steeleye Span cover False Knight On The Road has surfaced…two great party albums in the shape of Cut The Fuck Up and 2 Many DJs’ mix As Heard On Radio Soulwax Pt.2…the sunshine of the Caribbean can be found on the great compilation Dancehall…pub rock par excellence by London’s The Motors…and acoustic loveliness from Carly Simon’s No SecretsPatti Smith’s debut Horses is apparently a lot more fun to listen to than I’d even presumed…Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve’s remix of Franz Ferdinand’s Ulysses is a brilliant 21st century substitute the Beverley Hill’s Cop theme…and the N.A.S.A. album (as featured on last month’s picks) wins the prize for most guests on an album ever in the history of albums ever…

The new Warchild album also came out this month, and featured a lot of good covers…highlights include The Hold Steady taking on Springsteen’s Atlantic City and TV On The Radio doing Bowie’s Heroes…lowlight was definitely The Kooks’ pointless version of The KinksVictoria

Beastie Boys’ seminal Paul’s Boutique got a 20th anniversary reissue, a few months early to avoid clashing with their forthcoming new album…disappointingly it was thin on any serious new content…whether it’s the new package or the old one, this should be in your collection because it changed the face of not just hip hop but pop too…

Big awards ceremonies with both the Grammy Awards and the Brits this month…good results for British acts at the Grammys, which was nice…and Duffy was the big winner at the Brits…though maybe it was just me, but I struggled to care that much about either…

Get on to Spotify for a new way to listen to music online, with no charge…check out the blog for details and help getting registered (which you’ll need)…

The Saturdays have covered Depeche Mode’s classic Just Can’t Get Enough for Comic Relief…judging from the video they appear to think that the FHM audience are the best bet for raising money for charity these days…

If you missed my appearance on Radio Fivelive then I’m afraid it’s too late…but fear not, my fee for voiceovers or public appearances is very reasonable…

Here are my recommendations for the best of February...

1. Frida – Tell Me It’s Over New To Me
The phrase what goes around comes around applies in music as much as anywhere, and this more-80s-than-legwarmers track could have come straight off Ladyhawke’s album of last year. It’s a great number that hangs on its made-for-karaoke chorus. The fact that it’s the answer to the question “what did the fit one out of Abba do next (you know, the one that didn’t look like your mum)?”, and it was produced by Phil Collins in 1982, means that we have a bona fide lost pop-rock gem.

2. Housse De Racket – Oh Yeah! Hot Off The Press
Back to the now, and this pair of über-trendy Parisian lads have taken a few pages out of the Vampire Weekend book of modern indie pop and scored a winner. The French lyrics are a rarity as most French bands of this ilk sing in English, but the use of the band names in the verses makes it accessible for even the most xenophobic of pop fans. They’re playing at Yo Yo in March and are definitely ones to watch.

3. Spoon – Well Alright Hot Off The Press
The Dark Was The Night compilation was released this month for the benefit of Aids-charity Red Hot and featured new material from a host of brilliant acts – Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, The National, My Morning Jacket and Andrew Bird to name a few. While the material was patchy, this, the first track from disc 2 is a bright rockabilly-style number from Austin, Texas’ Spoon.

4. Project Jenny, Project Jan feat. Fujiya & Miyagi – Pins & Needles Hot Off The Press
No prizes for presuming that this hails from a New York-based act, which features neither a Jenny nor a Jan, but vocalist Jeremy Haines and electro dude Sammy Rubin. It’s a nice little mover and features Brighton’s Fujiya & Miyagi to keep the kudos factor satisfyingly high. The EP is out in April.

5. Chipmunk – Chip Diddy Chip Hot Off The Press
You might remember London’s Chipmunk from his win at last autumn’s MOBOs, in the best newcomer category. His star’s been steadily rising since, and his releases are soon upon us, including this, the new single. He’s a cool kid, and his lyrics are refreshingly light on the serious bravado, like a more polite Dizzee Rascal. Plus, he’s still doing his A-levels.

6. Empire Of The Sun – Half Mast Hot Off The Press
So extensive has the advertising campaign been for Australia’s Empire Of The Sun (at least in London), that you’ll probably have seen their posters, looking like a cross between Star Wars and MGMT. The music too is more than a little reminiscent of everyone’s favourite spaced-out NY duo of last year, but to be fair this album came out in 2008 in Australia as well. The likely singles on the album live up to the hype and the concept for the band is remarkably dense, as devised by Luke Steele (formerly of The Sleepy Jackson) and his musical partner, Nick Littlemore.

7. Dan Auerbach – I Want Some More Hot Off The Press
I’ll say it straight out – this album is brilliant. Auerbach is one half of the Black Keys (whose great album of last year was produced by Danger Mouse) and this is his first solo effort. He’s got a beard to die for (at least if you’re me) and the feeling and guts that he imbues into every track is really breathtaking. It might take a couple of listens but I’m sure this track will get to you too, though I’d recommend it in the context of the whole album, Keep It Hid, even more.

8. Link Wray – Juke Box Mama New To Me
Another brilliant album, and probably my favourite ‘random old album by an artist I know by name only’ that I’ve found for a long, long time. I only knew of Link Wray from his now famous 1958 track Rumble, as featured in Pulp Fiction, and frankly was happy to leave it at that. But through a series of minor events, I happened to buy his self-titled 1971 album, and found to my surprise and pleasure that it is the coolest, grooviest, southern-states-ist album I’ve heard in years. Trust me, you could put this on your shelf right next to The Band, Dylan, Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, CSN or any of ‘em, and it won’t be out of place. Buy it.

9. The Band – The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show New To Me
Speaking of The Band, I came across their Stage Fright album after two misunderstandings on my part. The first was that I thought it was a live album (it isn’t), so was always happy to leave it in the shop, and the second was that when I picked it up I saw a track called Strawberry Wine and hoped that it might be the original of the beautiful Ryan Adams track of the same name, which it isn’t. Still, all was well in the end because it’s a great album and this, like the Link Wray track, is a very slinky piece of southern boogie.

10. Ane Brun – The Treehouse Song Hot Off The Press
Wow, what a gorgeous track. This lady’s vocals pretty much stopped me in my tracks when it came on the headphones. Hailing from Norway, she’s only 32 but seems to have as much wisdom in her voice as a long-in-the-tooth legend such as country legend Loretta Lynn. Her album, Sketches, came out last year but I think her label must be having another push with it, hence it crossing my path recently. I’ll be looking out for more from her, that’s for sure.

11. Andrew Bird – Oh No Hot Off The Press
Chicago’s Andrew Bird has featured on my monthly picks before, and his name seems to be getting some much-deserved recognition in the UK. This is the first track from his new album Noble Beast, and features all of his trademarks – complex, intelligent lyrics, symphonic backing tracks, and whistling, no less. He divides opinion with some seeing his craftsmanship as overly knowing, but on his more melodic moments, such as here, for me he’s a unique and very welcome voice.

12. Peter Sarstedt – Where Do You Go To (My Lovely) New To Me
I finally saw the Wes Anderson movie The Darjeeling Limited recently, which means I’ll probably get round to seeing Slumdog Millionaire sometime in 2011. But as with all Wes Anderson movies, the soundtrack played a crucial part in the film’s mood, which of course led me to getting hold of it asap. This track was the highlight for me and apparently was a UK #1 in 1969, winning an Ivor Novello award to boot. Despite its distinctly French feel, this track is from Anglo-Indian musician Sarstedt, which makes its inclusion in The Darjeeling Limited even more apt.

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