Poor Jeff. First Alexandra Burke desecrates your hallowed name by covering a Leonard Cohen song that you made famous and now a young actress covers one of your own compositions for a forthcoming romcom. Death sucks.
'Last Goodbye', taken from Jeff Buckley's album, Grace, has been "stripped down" (i.e. there's just a voice and a piano) by none other then Scarlett Johansson, she of Lost In Translation, Match Point and a Tom Waits covers album. 'Last Goodbye' is one of the better songs from Grace (an album which, if people are honest, is a bit of a patchy affair), and this version does little to improve on it. As Randy Jackson would say, it's a bit pitchy.
"Norah Jones on tranquilisers" was how one youtuber described it.
Yeah, so I was hanging around Brick Lane the other weekend, you know, just kicking back, looking cool. Maybe I scoped out a new art scene. Maybe I smoked some crack. Whatever I did or didn't do, I most definitely DID pick up a copy of Vice magazine, that free, cooler-than-thou bible for all things young, hip and trendy. This month it was exploring sadness and the limitless possibilities that lie within.
Featured inside was Nathan Williams, aka Wavves, a 22 year old who records his entire musical output directly onto computer program GarageBand. It sounds like it. Everything on his myspace is so poorly mixed it sounds like it was recorded in a tin can rolling down a mountain. Despite all this, the songs are strong enough to emerge through the musical smog. New single 'So Bored' is a brilliant amalgam of slacker pop and lo-fi surf guitars, rounded off with one of those will this do vocals. "I'm so bored" indeed.
The sadness? Apparently one of his brother's mates stole his drum kit.
It's always nice to see a band make an effort, be it with their videos or their outfits. Australia's Empire of the Sun clearly enjoy making an effort on both fronts, even if their lead singer Luke Steele's make-up regime is less Rimmel London and more slapdash Aborigine. But still, you wouldn't expect this kind of thing from The View or The Kooks, so bonus points all round.
You may or may not recognise Luke Steele, it depends on how much attention you were paying to the lower chart placings in 2004. Steele is a founding member of The Sleepy Jackson who had some music critics in a bit of a lather until Steele managed to sack his entire band, on more than one occasion. Empire of the Sun (named after a J. G. Ballard book literary fans) will be releasing their debut album, Walking On A Dream, next month and finished fourth in that BBC Sound of 2009 poll.
This here title track is a lovely, breezy, Fleetwood Mac-inspired snugfest:
This one's rather good too:
Great videos. The rest of the album doesn't live up to these two examples so if you think these aren't much cop then don't bother with it. If these two songs are exactly what you're into then buy it. Simple really.
Britney Spears is well-known for her lyrics and the subtlety there-in, so it should come as no surprise that her song, the multi-layered, plaintive, 'If U Seek Amy' is already causing a mild furore in America. But why you ask? All she's doing is trying to ascertain if you, the listener, also seek a lady by the name of Amy. What's the problem? But say it quickly and it takes on a whole new meaning. She's actually saying, "f u c k me". Geddit? Hilarious, right? She wants you to fuck her.
The word play would be better if it actually made sense, but let's not quibble too much. Due to the power of the American lobbyists - and Lord knows there's nothing else to protest about right now - the song will be re-named 'If You See Amy' for it's commercial release, which means it will make even less sense now.
It's what some people are calling a 'Euro-club-banger':
Come with us, back to 1995, where a certain Babylon Zoo are enjoying their 14th minute of fame with their HUGE number 1 smash, 'Spaceman'. Buoyed by a alien-related Levis advert, this seminal piece of pure pop poetry still ranks as one of the greatest singles of all time...OK, one of the best of 1995...alright, the best song from a Levis ad...except Shaggy's.
Anywho, The Killers have decided to cover it...what? It's not a cover...so why have I just done this appalling, irrelevant intro. Imagine if they had done a cover of it though? That would have been really awful.
So, The Killers have made a video for their new single, 'Spaceman'. It's the second single to come from their third album, Day & Age. The video is odd. Not really odd in a cool, arty way, but more in a lycra-clad, scaffold mountain kind of way. One thing, The Killers have never really had the kind of success in America that they enjoy in Europe so it seems slightly odd to make such an obviously strange video for a market that deemed a horse too odd for a Leona Lewis video (the American version of 'Better In Time' is sans cheval). We shall have to wait and see what they make of all this...
Stop sniggering. It does not remind you of 'Wild Boys' by Duran Duran.
Can we just take a moment to remember Babylon Zoo please:
We've written about thecocknbullkid before, here and here. We were predicting she'd have a fantastic 2009 and we assumed she'd be all over those big in 2009 polls. For some reason - known only to the powers that be at the BBC - she didn't make their longlist for their influential Sound Of... poll. That's right, not even the longlist and this was a poll that saw the White Lies finish up in the top 5 or some such rubbish. Hey guys, we don't need another Editors thanks, one is more than enough.
We've been waiting for this, her second single, since she performed it on Jools Holland late last year. It's called 'I'm Not Sorry' and is really rather ace.
The video is cheap and cheerful. Look out for the least convincing dance routine of all time and some visual effects that scream A-Level Media Studies. Bu there's a certain charm to the whole thing and the song's so catchy it doesn't really matter. The hair is well fierce too.
'I'm Not Sorry' is out on March 9 and thecocknbullkid will soon be heading out to the SXSW Festival in Texas. Get her.
Animal Collective have always been a band to name drop into a conversation about music to make your friends / fellow music lovers swoon with admiration. "Yeah, like, Feels is one of my favourite records of all time, the way the flange sounds is incredible. It just, like, totally, erm, speaks to me". The fact is, Animal Collective are a great bands and have moments on all of their albums that are properly amazing, but these moments are sometimes so fleeting that it can turn the listening process into a chore.
Their ninth album, however, is all up in my iPod right now and that's because they've stopped overloading every song and instead embraced the smidgen of pop nous that managed to wriggle free on some of their other work. Merriweather Post Pavilion is their most accomplished album to date and if you don't own it then you are a dullard.
This, right here, is one of the songs of 2009. Yes, I am well aware that it's only January.
If you stare at that image for too long it will become emblazoned on your retina.
The world has been waiting for this day. History will look upon the last 24 hours as the day the world united and began to hope, to dream, to look towards a future without fear. The reason? The return of U2.
Yep, Bono and his band of merry men are back with a new album (No Line On The Horizon) and this, their brand new single, 'Get On Your Boots'. Lord knows - and he really does, Bono asked him - the music industry needs this U2 album to be a success, so much so that the band will be performing twice at the Brit awards next month despite it being a reflection of 2008's music successes and obviously in 2008 U2 released diddly squat. If it sells less then 5 million we're all off to hell in a hand cart.
It's pretty 'meh'. If you like U2, you'll enjoy it. If you write for Q you'll already be waxing lyrical about how different it is and how they've really pushed the boundaries. Hell, at one point Bono even claims to be too busy to discuss warring nations, which seems a bit harsh, it being his job and all that.
Here it is anyway:
In all seriousness, there was a genuine historic moment happening today, the inauguration of Barak Obama and it's great to feel a united sense of optimism and genuine hope. This has obviously been felt most in America where people in dire straits will look to Obama for answers that hopefully he can give. Rich musicians are also feeling a lot of love and have clubbed together to voice their newly restored patriotism through the medium of sub-standard syrupy pop tripe. Bono is, of course, heavily featured:
Just to put things in perspective; Martin Luther King got Stevie Wonder. Obama surely deserves better.
You can't get enough of all these new bands right? Me neither. They just keep coming...
Next up are Micachu & The Shapes, a fairly crumpled amalgam of people playing broken instruments and what looks like bits of old cardboard. They're signed to dance music pioneer Matthew Herbert's Accidental Records imprint and the man himself has produced their debut album, Jewellery. People (critics) throw around phrases about bands not fitting into pigeonholes or splicing genres and for this band that's about right. Micachu is a former MC who likes grime but plays an acoustic guitar at their gigs and they will annoy as much as entertain I'm sure. Needless to say Dazed & Confused and ID will LOVE them, but for once that shouldn't matter.
You can listen to recent single 'Golden Telephone' here, and it's really rather good. 'Turn Me Weller', also on their myspace, features the sound of a hoover at the beginning. A hoover! Those crazy scamps.
August 2008 was a long time ago. Not, like a really long time ago, but in music terms it's pretty long. August was the month that this next track 'dropped' in Blogsville but you know what, Musick missed it. We're holding our hands up, keepin' it real, we dropped the ball. But, we ain't too proud to beg (your forgiveness) and so we thought we'd post it now, in January 2009.
The song in question treads that very thin line between annoying novelty and surprising amazingness. Dan Black used to be in indie also-runs, The Servant but they split in 2007 and now he's near the top of everyone's list of people to look out for this year (he was on the longlist in BBC's Sound of 2009 poll). For reasons known only to him, he covered 'Hypnotize' (he calls it 'Hypntz' because he's arty) by the late Notorious B.I.G, complete with ghostly strings and a sample of Rihanna's 'Umbrella'. Here it is:
Guilty pleasure? No, fook it, the song's amazing. Dramatic, slightly melancholic and strangely moving it takes real balls to mess with Biggie.
Click here for more songs ('Yours' is particularly good)
As you probably know by now, Motown Records is 50 today! Now, Musick wouldn't be a reputable blog without doffing it's proverbial cap to one of the greatest record labels of all time, a breeding ground for talent unlike anything seen before or since. I remember seeing some early footage of Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 and being flawed not only by the exuberance of his performance but also the immediacy of the songs, as if each one had been sewn into my DNA. Immediate classics is something that sums up the heyday of Motown, from a young Stevie Wonder to Gladys Knight to Marvin Gaye pleading 'Let's Get It On'.
There are too many highlights to pick from of course, so here are some of Musick's absolute favourites:
Jackson 5 'I Want You Back'
It makes you smile, right?
The Supremes 'You Can't Hurry Love'
Such a unique voice, and a brilliantly joyful piece of music. ERASE the Phil Collins version from your mind immediately.
The Velvelettes 'Needle In A Haystack'
Though the band never quite reached the commercial heights of some of their peers, this song remains a slice of genius.
Stevie Wonder 'Living For The City'
Taken from the classic Innervisions album, Wonder would enjoy an unparalleled purple patch on Motown in the 1970s.
Marvin Gaye 'What's Going On'
The beguiling Here, My Dear may be his finest artistic statement, but What's Going On runs it close. The title track was released amongst much internal wrangling within Motown, with owner Berry Gordy believing it would flop. The perfect example of artist knowing better then employer.
I expect a similar tribute to V2 records in 40 years time, giving us all the chance to celebrate the music of the Stereophonics, Liberty X and The Datsuns.
It's true what they say you know, context is everything. A few years back the music scene greeted a clutch of posh young things all singing about apples and pears whilst being descendants of royalty and living off the family name. Amongst this well-spoken rabble was one Jack Penate who adorned the front of the NME only to receive a 5/10 review of his frenetic debut, Matinee. Despite this, and with even Kate Nash selling by the bucket load, the album peaked inside the top 10 and the single 'Torn On The Platform' did the same.
A couple of days ago bezzie mate Adele stated in an interview that she's contributed backing vocals on Penate's new album and that, wait for it, people are going to be shocked at the new direction he's gone in. Yeah, yeah, we've heard that before; Keane go gabba, Franz Ferdinand go techno, Razorlight go Simple Minds (oh, that last one actually happened).
So, what has the boy Penate done? Well, if 'Tonight's Today' is anything to go by then gone are the frantic guitar riffs in favour of a more relaxed, Vampire Weekend-esque vibe, all steel drums and shuffling percussion.
It's not reinventing the wheel of course - and sounding like Vampire Weekend is hardly tantamount to reinvention - but the song's going to be all over the radio and should see Penate extending his career by at least one more album.
The new Antony & The Johnsons album, The Crying Light, is out in just over a week (19 January to be precise) but the whole thing has leaked on the internet like a gorgeously melodramtic goo (?). We don't like to ruin surprises so we'd rather wait, but seeing as 'Epilepsy Is Dancing' is due to be the second single from the album we thought it OK to have a listen and invite you to do the same:
Initial reviews of The Crying Light have suggested it's a more abstract, less immediate listen then it's Mercury-wining predecessor so it may not be a good idea to listen to individual songs out of the context of the album, but 'Epilepsy Is Dancing' is as devastating as ever ("Cut me in quadrants / Leave me in the corner"). I can understand why people don't like his voice, or the theatrical nature of the songs, but for those that do, this album is shaping up to be something very special indeed.
For many Nina Persson is the singer from The Cardigans, the woman whose face probably adorned many an NME-reading teenage boy's wall about ten years ago. Having always had a brilliant ear for melody (if not always the success those melodies deserved) Persson started a musical side-project entitled A Camp.
Way back in 2001, A Camp released one of the best singles of the noughties, the delectable 'I Can Buy You'.
Unfortunately, the rest of their self-titled debut (produced with Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse) failed to match that standard and Persson shuffled off back to The Cardigans. Well, they're back with a new album, Colonia, due out in February, and this is the first single, 'Stronger Then Jesus'.
It's a slow-burner and no mistake, but give it a few listens and it sinks in like a warm balm.
The album features contributions from Joan As Policewoman, James Aha formerly of Smashing Pumpkins and the drummer from Guided By Voices. Nice.
Let's have a little look at what's been playing in the Musick office* this week shall we? * By office I mean small studio flat, but it sounds less prosaic.
Florence & The Machine 'Dog Days Are Over'
I know, I know, she's bloody everywhere. I tried to resist, I really did, but this song is brilliant. Florence will be collecting that silly Brit award Adele won last year at this years Brit Awards...by then we'll be sick of her, promise.
Deerhunter 'Nothing Ever Happened'
Brilliant song from the equally brilliant Microcastle/Weird Era Continued album. Fun fact; lead singer Bradford Cox suffers from Marfan Syndrome as do I. Kind of. Well, they thought I had it but they're not sure. Either way it's fine, I'm not sick, just really tall.
Metronomy 'My Heart Rate Rapid'
Great single from a really fun album (Nights Out). There are about seven singles on the album and yet it's probably owned by about 500 people in the entire country. There's no justice.
Common feat. Cee-Lo 'Make My Day'
It's January, it's depressing, there's nowt going on; why not kick back with this Summer joint (ahem) and imagine you're at a cook out with Common, Cee-Lo and a plethora of bitches (hey, I don't make the rules!).
In many ways polka-dot wearing, sixties girl-group aping threesome The Pipettes are like an indie Sugababes. For a start there's three of them, all female, and most importantly they change line-ups seemingly at the drop of a hat. When I first saw them live about five years ago there was Rose, Becki and Julia, then Julia left to be replaced with Gwen and then Rose left and then Becki left, so then they hired two new ones called Ani and Anna but then Anna quit after seven months so now there are two...so actually it's more like that time Destiny's Child lost two members, hired two new ones and then ditched one of them all in the time it took for Beyoncé to scream "don't touch me until you've washed your hands you prole" (allegedly).
Anywho, Rose (or Rosay as she was known in the band) has now gone solo under her full name Rose Elinor Dougall and has recently released the limited edition single, 'Another Version of Pop Song'. It's really quite lovely (as is 'May Holiday'), replacing the doo-wop stylings of old for some sweeping strings, soaring vocals and something decidedly French.
Why we're at it, ex-Pipette number two, Becki Stephens, has also branched out musically, forming Electric Blue (named after a porn film no less) with the wonderfully named Randy Michael. You can have a listen right here
So, we survived that oft-delayed Millennium bug thing again and thank heavens for that because there's a lot of good music on its way in 2009, I can feel it in me waters. Coming in the next twelve months we have albums from Antony & The Johnsons, Animal Collective, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Robyn, PJ Harvey, Royksopp, The Whitest Boy Alive, thecocknbullkid, etc, etc, etc. We've also got the live return of Blur to look forward to and the rapid collapse of the world economy...ah well, you can't have everything.
Musick thought it best to start 2009 and this fresh year for music with a look at this weeks Belgian album chart, and why not?
1. And Winter Came... by Enya 2. My Love - Essential Collection by Céline Dion 3. Forever by Milk Inc. 4. The Promise by Il Divo 5. Wit Licht by Marco Borsato 6. Time To Swing by Helmut Lotti 7. The Priests by The Priests 8. Greatest Hits by Craig David 9. Wannes - Het Beste by Wannes Van De Velde 10. Black Ice by AC/DC
Wowser, that's some list. It's nice to see avant garde electronic music sitting pretty at number one though, especially as the rest is all Tesco-friendly Mum music, with MOR Queen Celine nestling just above Milk Inc. (?). It's interesting too that Craig David is a top ten artist in Belgium seeing as that particular album missed the UK top ten by about 50 places. Still, I heard 'Rewind' (or 'Re-rewind' surely) the other day and it's properly amazing, so bring back Craig David, or just garage, which ever is less hassle. The Priests, eh? What are they like? No, really, what are they like? I've not heard them.