Abracadabra

I really like new Island signing Leon Jean Marie. He’s from South Woodford and has been knocking about in the right circles for a couple of years. His last single, the Mark Ronson produced, Bed of Nails had a spooky Madness feel to it, that once it clicked hooked into your head for ages. As a buzz single it didn’t really do much but he’s plowing ahead with single #2, Bring It On and I really hope it does well, although i’m not entirely confident. I met him a couple of months ago for an interview which you can read here and here and I’m pleased to report he was really lovely and we had a good chat about working with Bloodshy & Avant in Sweden!

Here’s the video for ‘Bring It On’. It’s got a similarly 80s feel and I couldn’t quite figure out what it sounded like until it was pointed out as being pretty much exactly the same as Steve Miller Band’s 1982 #2 Abracadabra (what a tune!). I hope it’s referenced as being an ‘interpolation’ or what not as it’s blatant! Compare the two, and laugh at the 80s spook of the ‘Abracadabra’ video.

La Chart

ting0508.jpgAs much as I personally like The Ting Tings, I never in a billion years thought they would have much mainstream success, but it seems this Sunday I may have to eat my words very very largely when they chart at a very high position. I’m still not entirely convinced by them – I love the songs but when I saw them live in January they were quite ropey. That probably doesn’t matter to all the people who find them irresistible to jump up and down to in a club and I certainly have enjoyed playing them for the last year or so.

But, what the hell is going on with the chart? It’s gone from being irrelevant and a bit rubbish to being completely amazing in the last 12 months. Downloads revolutionized it but it seems they also made people into better music? I think it all started when Robyn went to #1 – an artist bloggers had been banging on about for ages was suddenly adored by the mainstream. Forgetting Eva Cassidy and Leon Jackson, have there been any bad number ones in recent times? They’ve only been 4 all this year and we’re in mid May! Basshunter deserved it for proving no radio play still creates an amazing buzz on a dance record (if you’ve not checked out Boten Anna you need to!), Duffy might be annoying now but it gave me the ‘must listen to 20 times in a row and scream about this’ feeling on first listen, Estelle nailed it and finally got the success she deserved and Madonna created a brilliant dancefloor record.

So what else is going to be #1 this year? Fingers crossed on Sara Barielles, Late of the Pier, Lykke Li and Jordin Sparks w/ Chris Brown. Two of those are extremely likely and two of them are could bes depending how things take off.

Neon Neon – I Lust U

For some reason I completely ignored tales of how amazing Neon Neon were until yesterday. An electronic project of Super Furry Animal’s Gruff Rhys and twinkly electroboy Boom Bip, the pair first worked together on one track in 2005 and enjoyed it so much they decided to create a whole album. I’ve not heard all of Stainless Steel yet, but from what I have their March single I Lust U immediately stands out. Slow bleeping 80s synths add a hypnotic feel to this duet which features cute Welsh singer Cate Le Bon on vocals with Gruff and it creates what I would think a chilled out electronic masterpiece. Cate’s vocals remind me of Ladytron and ‘I Lust U’ is almost what would happen if Ladytron met Fischerspooner.

Popstarz

Since moving venue in February I think Popstarz has been going from strength to strength. The crowd is a bit older, much nicer and know their music which is good for us – we don’t have to wheel out Mr Brightside every time the dancefloor gets a bit thin!

This is what we played in our first set last night…

Ladytron – Runaway
Presets – This Boys in Love
Depeche Mode – Strange Love
Language – Salman Rushie, Bono, Sting
VHS or Beta – Nights On Fire
Rascals – Freakbeat Phantom
Reverend & The Makers – Heavyweight Champion
Interpol – Slow Hands (Britt Daniel Remix)
Patrick Wolf – Magic Position
Vampire Weekend – Oxford Comma
Zutons – Valerie
Ting Tings – That’s Not My Name
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Pin
CSS – Rage (Rat is Dead)
Dandy Warhols – Get Off
Strokes – Someday

Other stuff we threw in later included…

MGMT – Time To Pretend
Ting Tings – Shut Up & Let Me Dance
Blondie – Heart of Glass
Muse – Hysteria
Placebo – Teenage Angst
Blink 182 – What’s My Age Again (hee!)

Let Me Tell You A Secret

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Before music took over my life, I used to be more into new technologies and was particularly keen on reading up on the latest mobile phones and angling after a way to get them. I went through all the best Nokias that came out – and looking back it seems crazy we all went so mad after the tiny 8310, surely it was too tiny.

Anyway after avoiding the iPhone for a while, a demo by my cousin John at Xmas made me certain I actually wanted one. It was just too shiny not to get one y’know!! Of course, now I’m tied to an 18 month contract and will look on in anguish when the new version hits the shops in June!
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Agyness Deyn – Popstar

The rise of supermodel Agyness Deyn somehow passed me by until she appeared on Jonathan Ross a couple of months ago. Brain bashingly northern, she’s a breath of fresh air and (currently) normality into the modelling world. She looks different, sounds different, is funny and doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously. I’m a bit disappointed her real name is Laura though, I was digging the famous person being called Agyness vibe. My great aunt and great-grandmother were both called Agnes and I’ve always thought it a pretty ugly name until now!

The domination of Agyness in the pop culture world could now no longer be confined to fashion after it was announced that she would be appearing on a track with Northampton turned New York band Five O’Clock Heroes. The song is called ‘Who’ and is the first single from their 2nd album ‘Speak Your Language’. And as it turns out – the girl can sing. Her sweet vocals complement the gruffness of vocallist Anthony Ellis and the boy/girl vocals are slightly reminiscent of Mystery Jets ‘Young Love’ although it’s a lot more new-wave sounding. And of course Aggy looks amazing in the video. Effortlessly cool, she has an Edie Sedgewick wandering around Scarlett Johansson’s ‘Lost in Translation’ world, vibe to her.

Sonny J – Handsfree

Could this be any more amazing?

Apart from the Jackso-esque ‘Can’t Stop Moving’, ‘Handfree’ was the immediate stand out track from the forthcoming Sonny J album ‘Disastro’ and I’m delighted to see it get a release. It’s been given an expensive video treatment courtesy of the producers behind the video for Utah Saints Somethin Good ’08 and it’s mainsteam feel could see it becoming a regular on the music channels.

Of course – it’s a massive sample. In fact it’s barely a sample, more a remix of an old track by Donna Hightower. Popjustice pointed me at the original on youtube yesterday and it’s one of those cases where (like ‘Robot Rock’ – check this) the new song is so identical to the original it barely seems worth it. However without this remix we’d probably never have discovered the amazing original!

First Listen: Madonna ‘Hard Candy’ Review

 

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Originally written here

This afternoon we went to a brilliantly decorated room in East London to hear the new Madonna album while sipping champagne & eating jelly beans. Sounds good huh? Well it was! Anyone fearing a full on urban attack – don’t worry. ‘Hard Candy’ is full of long disco pop songs – it just has some heavy beats! Here’s our track by track rundown:

1. Candy Shop: Here we go! Madonna wants to be our ‘1-stop candy shop – your lollipop’. Yum! This is produced by The Neptunes and is filled with bleeps and swirls. It ends with a ‘sticky but sweet’ rap by Pharrell.

2. Four Minutes To Save The World: You all know this one!

3. Give It To Me: Not a Furtado/Timbo cover but a Pharrell track that’s going to be the 2nd single. Let us tell you now – it’s mindblowingly amazing. There’s cowbells, twinkles and a funny vocoder you might have heard on ‘Music’. Think old school pop Madonna but fired up at 300 mph. There’s a funky break near the end where Madonna shouts ‘don’t stop!’, the music stops and a male voice sings ‘left to the right’.

4. Heartbeat: ‘Probably the 3rd single’, Heartbeat has a synthy 80s sounding intro. Madge tells us that ‘when I dance I feel free!’. There’s something about the melody when she sings ‘you know I feel it in my Heartbeat’ that’s really cute!.

5. Miles Away: This starts deceptively with guitar that reminds us of ‘Don’t Tell Me’. Is it going to be a ballad? Course not silly! 5 seconds in and here comes a pounding bassline. ‘I just woke up from a fuzzy dream, you won’t believe the things I’ve seen.’ This is the first song that doesn’t hold our attention all the way but it’s got a dreamy ending.

6. She’s Not Me: It starts with 4 claps and then all hell breaks loose. This is the tale of a jilted lover and has about 7 different elements. It sounds kind of like a sequel to ‘Deeper and Deeper’ with the passion, the fastness and the twirls. Totally hypnotic – it’s a Timberlake/land production but it could come straight from the disco house of Nile Rodgers. Oh and it would mix into Anita Ward’s ‘Ring My Bell’ perfectly. Also it’s REALLY LONG.
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Nancyland

I love musicals, and am constantly amused by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s transition from odd looking famous man to cult television icon. He could give Gene Hunt a run for his money.

As well as enjoying John Barrowman as a ridiculous judge for the 3rd time, I’m even more interested than I expected in I’d Do Anything thanks to the appearance of Jodie Prenger. We attended the same tiny girls school in Blackpool and as she’s happily admitted on TV she was a lot bigger then! However she was always an amazing talent musically & drama wise. She was a main star in our production of Mikado and later went on to perform in a theatre version of Hot Mikado which I remember as being absolutely amazing. Plus from what I knew of her, Nancy would be the perfect role, she’s lively, bubbly and cares. I was a bit worried she was maybe coming across a bit too intensely but on forums people seem to like her, and whoever thought she could turn ‘Chasing Pavements’ into a song I’d like!



However the performance that throws up a strong contender was Keisha’s doing ‘Mad About The Boy’ on Saturday’s show. I’m not sure her destiny is Nancy but sounding like a young Shirley Bassey, her performance was absolutely mesmerising and confident.