Friday, January 29, 2010

An honest mistake

When I was a kid, I believed that Chevy Chase was Paul Simon for about five years, only realising my mistake when BBC One showed National Lampoon's Vacation one Friday night.

Paul Simon - You Can Call Me Al

I wonder how many of today's children will suffer a similar confusion after watching the new Mumford and Sons video?

Mumford & Sons - The Cave

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

A fine four-fendered hip-hop band

Chiddy Bang - great name, great band. They're so street, they eat pavements for breakfast. They're so hip-hop, they only have one leg. They're so rap, they deliver rhythmic rhyming couplets over a mid-tempo drum beat.

The four-piece hail from Philadelphia. This time last year, they were in their first year of college (that's US slang for "university") - and then the music industry came a-knocking.

It's not hard to see why. Their catchy, indie-sampling hip-hop is an invigorating breath of fresh air at a time when the genre seems to have stagnated so much that Mr Hudson seemed like an appropriate and innovative collaborator to every A-list rap star who released an album last year. That's Mr Hudson, a man with so little personality they didn't give him a forename.

For their next single, they've pinched MGMT's Kids. I don't mean they've sampled a bit of it. They have literally taken a huge great chunk of the song and surrounded it with their "flow". You could compare it to a sausage roll, but that would be weird.

It also contains the worst hip-hop brag of all time: "When I park cars, I don't pay for the meter". Hark at Al Capone, there, readers.

Chiddy Bang - Opposite Of Adults

PS: As you may have guessed, Chiddy Bang are named in tribute to children's film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang because one of the group wanted to be an inventor like Caractacus Potts when he was young.

Caractacus Potts would have been a better band name.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Marina Diamond and the fluttery eyelashes

Marina & The Diamonds' big make-or-break single Hollywood is finally out next week. It's a great big whirling dervish of a pop song, with - as a better writer than me points out - at least three sections that make your tummy go all funny. In short, it is brilliant.

To celebrate the upcoming release, Marina has made a remix video featuring oddball Canadian artist Gonzales (check out his utterly bonkers single "Take Me To Broadway" from 2001).

The flickery, black-and-white footage is, allegedly, recently discovered archive tape from an Estonian pop show. I'm not sure I believe that. But I do believe in Marina's awesomely crimped tresses.


Marina & The Diamonds - Hollywood (Gonzales mix)

As an aside, I asked Marina to name her three biggest influences last month. Her answer got cut from the reasulting BBC Sound of 2010 article, but I thought it was an interesting insight. So here it is:

Q: Who are your three musical heroes?
A: Brody Dalle from the Distillers – she’s very strong and has probably the best voice I’ve ever heard. Very, very rough and masculine.

Daniel Johnson, because he’s schizophrenic but he still manages to tour. He has very sweet, innocent, childlike songs.

And Madonna because she has achieved the pop dream, which is to create your own art, to be popular on a mass level, and to do something for feminism, even if it's not in a very obvious way.

Hollywood is out next week, and Marina's debut album, The Family Jewels follows on 22nd February.

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Not new music: The Swell Season

I love it when, after listening to an album for several months, a previously unremarkable song suddenly catches your ear. I don't know what causes it - maybe the track was buried at the end of the record, maybe my ears needed time to adjust, or maybe I'm an idiot who wouldn't know a good song if it bit my ears off.

Whatever the reason, it has happened again. This time, it's a track from The Swell Season's second album, Strict Joy.

The Swell Season are Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. They won an Oscar in 2008 for the folksy soundtrack to small-budget indie romance Once - which they also starred in. You may remember that Irglova was bundled off-stage before she got to say thank you, but was asked back later to give a beautifully demure speech.

The song that has so belatedly caught my attention, I Have Loved You Wrong, is similarly humble. A delicate plea for forgiveness, its haunting piano refrain and simple, unadorned vocals are dangerous territory for those of you in the middle of a break-up.

I warn you now: If you're feeling a bit weepy this morning, the closing harmonies will literally tear you apart.

The Swell Season - I Have Loved You Wrong

The rest of the album is worth a listen, too. It's been out for ages, and you can buy it here. And if you've never seen Once - sort it out now!

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Hope For Haiti: I watched it so you didn't have to

"Hold up, hold up, hold up," shouted Wyclef Jean five minutes before the end of the Hope For Haiti Now telethon on Friday night. "Enough of the moping, let's rebuild Haiti now!"

If only he'd thought about that message two hours earlier, we'd have been spared some of the music industry's most recognisable names putting on their "serious face" and singing their most po-faced, turgid songs at a funereal pace. If it wasn't Shakira murdering I'll Stand By You, it was Justin Timberlake playing a drowsy version Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah that lasted seven whole years.

Surely the point of these fund-raisers is that the juxtaposition between great, uplifting music and the horriffic human tragedy compels us to pick up the phone and do something. If the stars just sit there sobbing into their mineral water, then the viewers at home will just feel miserable and helpless. (I could be wrong about this, of course, because the televent has raised an encouragingly robust $57m so far).

The only person who seemed to have realised this was Madonna, who judged the mood perfectly with an acoustic choral version of Like A Prayer.

Madonna - Like A Prayer (Hope For Haiti Now)

If you have the stomach to endure the rest of the performances (U2 and Rihanna is particularly bad), there's a helpful Youtube playlist here.

And you should definitely donate to the relief effort if you can. The Disasters Emergency Committee page is a good place to start.

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Sigur goes solo

The frontman of Icelandic quartet Sigur Ros is called Jónsi Birgisson. That's him warbling away in a completely made-up nonsense language on tracks like Starálfur and Hoppípolla. With his delicate, lispy falsetto, he sounds like a children's TV presenter during the rapture.

With Sigur Ros taking a break in 2010, Jónsi has recorded a solo album. To my ears, it sounds almost exactly the same as the material he records with his bandmates - orchestral, celestial, spiritual, elegiac, exhilirating, uplifting and warm. In essence: distinctly non-rubbish.

The main difference between Sigur and Jónsi is that he's supposed to be singing in English. In principle, this means that every so often you catch a snippet of a syllable that you think you might recognise. He might be saying something horribly racist, or claiming to have shagged your dad, or be advocating something really offensive - like imagining Mika naked, or imagining Mika clothed, or imagining two Mikas (*shudders involuntarily*). But we will never know.

No matter what he's saying, the music is wonderful and joyous. The first taster is a song called Boy Lilikoi, which saunters along prettily for three minutes before bursting into a great big sonic hug of strings and harmonies and rolling drums. You can listen to it below, but beware - it'll make you want to do back-flips around the living room.

Right-click here to download the track [link fixed 25.01.10]

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Welcome back, Goldfrapp

Here is everything you need to know about the new Goldfrapp single, Rocket:

And here is a 30-second clip of the new Goldfrapp single, Rocket:

Things you will not experience via the medium of a 30-second preview clip:
1) Rocket sound effects
2) The opportunity to dance like a lunatic for 3'49"
3) More rocket sound effects
4) Alison doing a countdown - in the sense of a Space Shuttle Launch, not in the sense of Richard Whitely
5) Although that would be incredible, obviously

The full track was on Youtube earlier, but it has been removed by the record label. But, if you happen to live abroad, you can buy it right now (Australians click here and Germans click here).

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Gorillaz: Stylo

Rushed out onto Youtube after the promo CD was leaked on the Russian equivalent of Facebook, here's the first single from the new Gorillaz album (you have to watch it surrounded by adverts on Youtube, I'm afraid, because the record industry is ON IT'S KNEES).

Gorillaz - Stylo (album version)

As you can see, the song features vocals from Mos Def and the legendary Bobby "Across 110th Street" Womack.

If you can't be bothered to click on that YouTube link, but you're still interested to find out what Bobby Womack would sound like singing a track written by pasty white men posturing as hip-hop demigods, here is the masterful Get A Life, which he contributed to Rae & Christian's Sleepwalking album a decade ago.

Rae & Christian feat Bobby Womack - Get A Life

Both songs are, of course, amazing.

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Sugababes: Wear My Kiss (video)

Three singles and one new member into the campaign for the Sugababes seventh (seventh!) studio album and finally they release a song that doesn't trample all over their legacy in diamante-studded rugby boots.

It's called Wear My Kiss. It steals liberally from Britney's If U Seek Amy and Madonna's Dress You Up. It is not going to redefine the band, the way that Freak Like Me did when Heidi joined, or About You Now did when Amelle came along. It is, however, quite good.

This is the video (and a "sponsor message" from Grey's frickin' Anatomy).

Sugababes - Wear My Kiss

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ellie Goulding's Starry Eyed video

I like how, in the close-ups, her dress looks like one of those gold Daleks from the new Doctor Who.

Ellie Goulding - Starry Eyed

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New discovery: Sarah Blasko

Do you like that Lykke Li? Australian musican Sarah Blasko does. She likes her so much that, when she had written enough songs for her third album, she phoned up Lykke Li's producer and asked him to rub his magic fingers all over her mixing desk.

He said "yes", and the rest is a happy, haunting, fragile, sexy, smoky, jazzy, acousticy(?), hummable history.

Sarah called the record Day Follows Night (we've checked, and she's right about this) and it became a critical and commercial hit in her home country.

Buoyed by that success, she's paying a visit to Britain, which she wants to break. Not in the boring political "family values are disappearing and immigration is destroying our culture" way, but in the exciting "having a hit single and playing a concert and maybe one day meeting Miquita Oliver" way.

"I’ve wanted to have my music out here for a long time," she says in a press release. "I’ve always known it was possible, but I’m a big believer in things happening at the right time. With this album, everything seems to have slotted in to place and the timing feels perfect."

With that in mind, Sarah is doing a small gig in former Soho strip club Madame JoJo's next Monday, and releasing her single, We Won't Run, on March 22nd.

I actually prefer one of the singles that came out last year in Australia, No Turning Back, which has a charming Mr Benn-style felt-tip video - so here are both to whet your appetite.

Sarah Blasko - We Won't Run

Sarah Blasko - No Turning Back

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Blame It On The Pop

Just been recommended this video, which mashes up the Top 25 best-selling singles on Billboard's 2009 charts into one mind-bending supersong.


DJ Earworm - Blame It On The Pop

Those songs in sales order, in case you were interested
1. The Black Eyed Peas - Boom Boom Pow
2. Lady Gaga – Poker Face
3. Lady Gaga – Just Dance
4. The Black Eyed Peas – I Gotta Feeling
5. Taylor Swift – Love Story
6. Flo Rida – Right Round
7. Jason Mraz – I’m Yours
8. Beyonce – Single Ladies
9. Kanye West - Heartless
10. The All-American Rejects – Gives You Hell
11. Taylor Swift – You Belong With Me
12. T.I. Featuring Justin Timberlake – Dead and Gone
13. The Fray – You Found Me
14. Kings Of Leon – Use Somebody
15. Keri Hilson – Knock You Down
16. Jamie Foxx Featuring T-Pain – Blame It
17. Pitbull – I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)
18. T.I. Featuring Rihanna – Live Your Life
19. Soulja Boy Tell 'Em – Kiss Me Through The Phone
20. Jay Sean Featuring Lil Wayne - Down
21. Miley Cyrus – The Climb
22. Drake – Best I Ever Had
23. Kelly Clarkson – My Life Would Suck Without You
24. Beyonce - Halo
25. Katy Perry – Hot N’ Cold

You can download the megamix (1980s reference ahoy!) from DJ Earworm's site.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Florence and the Brits

The Brit nominations come out later today, and it's a pretty good bet that Florence and the Machine (pictured right, with a duck) will have three nominations, for best female, best album and breakthrough artist.

My colleague and Brits guru, Ian Youngs, reckons La Roux could walk away with more nominations - as they're also eligible for best single - but I'd put money on Florence being the big winner on 16 February.

According to my predictometer, Paolo Nutini is a shoo-in for best male and JLS are likely to win the viewer's teenager's vote for best single. Lady GaGa should easily dominate the international categories where, bizarrely, they've cancelled the best international group prize. The Brits are weird, aren't they?

Anyway, in anticipation of Florence "sweeping the board" (this phrase always makes me think of my sister flipping her lid during a game of Monopoly and scattering all the pieces on the floor with one swift motion of her arm) here is her rather splendiferous cover of Robert Palmer's Addicted To Love, off the CD single for You Got The Love.

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Saturday, January 16, 2010


I've just "launched" v4.0 of the Discopop site. The old version was looking a little bit tired and clunky after three years, so I hope you like the new look.

A few things have changed:
1) Now you can click on the banner at the top to bring you back to the main page at any time. Just like you've been able to do on every other website in the world for the last decade.

2) There is an email address at the bottom of the page to get in touch, should you ever feel moved by the desire to praise / kill me (Come and get me, Dappy).

3) A new, expanded compendium of "Discopop Deities" has been compiled. If your favourite isn't in there, they're probably rubbish.

4) Most importantly, the new logo!! Yes, those are my CDs and not some rubbish stock photo. See how many you can name - I've got a copy of Lady GaGa's The Fame and Goldfrapps's Seventh Tree sitting here for the person who gets closest to the full 75. The email address for entries is at the bottom of the page (I've already told you that - weren't you listening? Sheeesh!)

And let me know if you spot any problems with the new design. I haven't had time to go back through all 1,500 pages on the site, but it should be fine (fingers crossed!)


Update 17/12/2010: It took a couple of hours for the new "editor @ discopop" email address to start working, so apologies if you tried to get in touch and got an error. It's all up and running now.


Friday, January 15, 2010

New Music: Broken Bells

Danger Mouse - the producer behind Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz' Demon Days and Beck's Modern Guilt, has teamed up with James Mercer out of The Shins.

Together, they are Broken Bells and they've made an album that smushes up hip-hop, electronica and soft rock, producing an all-new musical genre which I am calling Hilectrosoft. Or Hoptronirock. Or Rock 'n' Ron [that's enough of that, thank you - ed].

It's not out til March, but here's a preview track, called The High Road. It's nice.

Broken Bells - The High Road

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Motor Town, Detroit

The sudden influx of new artists at this time of year can be confusing and unstabilising, so what better antidote than a great big syrupy spoonful of Motown?

Released towards the end of last year, Motown: The Definitive Performances, is a fascinating DVD, collecting together US TV performances from the likes of Diana Ross, The Four Tops and Stevie Wonder from 1965 - 1972.

It's from a time when music television was in its infancy, and broadcasters had to abide by much stricter moral codes. So we see the singers demurely lip-syncing to lyrics about frothing carnal lust, while the rest of the band try their best to dance like well-coordinated virgins. The audience respond by clapping arrhythmically or, in poor Brenda Holloway's case, by standing behind her, talking amongst themselves.

But while the performances seem clunky and dated, the music is still amazing - and the DVD allows you to flick between new surround sound mixes, remastered stereo, original mono versions, a capellas and instrumentals. There is also, for no apparent reason, bonus footage of a Motown picnic.

All in all, it is my favourite music DVD in years.

The best clip features Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, forced to perform Nowhere To Run while pretending to have the best day of their lives at the Ford Mustang production line in Detroit.

It's the sort of idea that would never get past a commissioning editor today - but I love it. Imagine if the producers at T4 insisted that, every time he played, Mika had to take his glittery baby-gro and ridiculous perm to the Honda plant in Swindon? That'd learn him.

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas - Nowhere To Run

The Motown DVD is a tenner on Amazon. Go on, you know you want to.

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Apropos of nothing

The B52's performing from inside Piet Mondrian's brain, circa 1982.

The B52's - Private Idaho

Truefact: At our wedding, mrsdiscopop and I walked up the aisle to Rock Lobster.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New MIA? Let's hope so

MIA posted this video on Twitter last night, so we're all presuming the song, Ol Dat I See, is a taster for her forthcoming third album.

I really hope it is, because the floaty, Massive Attack-y production is a surprising and welcome departure. Could this, added to the success of Paper Planes, herald the commercial breakthrough she's deserved for so long?

Ol Dat I See (Space Odyssey)

My anticipation for MIA's record has only been fuelled further by the following tidbit, revealed by PR guru Sundraj Sreenivasan on Monday...


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She fell in love with a starship trooper

Guess who's back? It's only little Gabriella "Sweet About Me" Cilmi! That's her on the right, trying to work out how to get out of a chair.

Her new single, Woman On A Mission, is (yawn) inspired by 80s synth pop. Listen closely and you'll hear the ghost of Van Halen's Jump and Olivia Newton John's Xanadu. But don't put your ears too close to the speaker, or you'll be knocked over by THE VOICE - a big-lunged, belt-em-out foghorn that puts Gabriella within arm's reach of Jocelyn Brown and Dina Carrol.

The video leaked a couple of days ago, forcing Island to bung it onto Youtube last night. It's pretty big-budget stuff, full of costume changes, CGI effects and - most importantly of all - a cleavage reveal on the line "I am a woman" (pervs note: it's at 0'47"). It also allows us to answer the time-honoured question: Who is hotter, cartoon Cilmi or real-life Cilmi?

Answers on a postcard, etc, etc...

Gabriella Cilmi - Woman On A Mission

The song is out in March, and we'd have given it a robust 7/10 if it weren't for the line "I never miss a trick, just like a magician".

Final score: 2/10

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pet Shop Boys + 2010 x Good = Hurts

I first mentioned Hurts last August, when for some reason I thought they were called It Hurts and described them as "mysterious" and "spooky".

These days, I have a few more facts at my disposal:
1) They are Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson, from Manchester.
2) They "write pop songs" but "pay extra attention to the sonics and atmosphere".
3) They are "basically the opposite of N-Dubz" (ie not shit)
4) They bonded over a love of Prince: "He's an incredible songwriter and he's very aware of how far you can push the boundaries of production," they reckon.
5) They "reek of eau d'1983" (?)
6) They made the video for their first single by themselves for £20.
7) They are definitely called Hurts, not It Hurts, dumbass.

The smashing synth duo aren't releasing a proper single til May, but they've just put out their second video, for the crestfallen ballad Blood Tears And Gold.

According to Popjustice, the band shot this "over the weekend, during some downtime in the recording studio". I am 100% certain that this statement is true and that, as well as being accomplished musicians, Theo and Adam have an advanced understanding of lighting, framing and composition. Why would a major label like Sony lie to us?

Hurts - Blood Tears And Gold

PS: A couple of artists have recently written in (yes, really) expressing dismay at the tone of this blog. Let's just make it clear for once and for all that I only write about artists I like*. Anything that may cause offence is probably a misguided attempt at "humour". So, get over it, yeah?

* Or really, really hate. I'm thinking about Mika here.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Out now: Yeasayer - Ambling Amp

Oh hi there, we're called Yeasayer and we're an experimental band from Brooklyn.

"Experimental" is usually music industry code for "unlistenable toss" or "plays a xylophone made of wasps", but that's not us at all. Our experiment has been constructed to determine whether, if you put some random static in the middle of the second verse, indie kids can be fooled into listening to an electro-pop record.

Okay, so that hypothesis has already been successfully tested by MGMT and Phoenix and Radiohead, and we're not introducing any new variables. So you could say we're reproducing the data in an effort to establish the standard deviation.

Nonetheless, this wheeze has given us unparalleled access to lab coats, safety goggles, magnesium strips, pipettes and - on one unforgettable day last June - a liebig condenser.

In the meantime, we have made a video for our single Ambling Alp, where we told lots of ladies they had to take their clothes off in the name of science - and they totally bought it!

Sadly, none of them let us "practice Biology" on them, no matter how many times we asked.

Yeasayer - Ambling Alp

If you like that, you can download it for free on our Official Website.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

The 10 Rules Of Rock and Roll

Aussie rock critic Robert Forster has a great little book out called The 10 Rules Of Rock and Roll, which collects together some of his musings for The Monthly magazine, a few new articles, and some (admittedly not-so-great) attempts at fiction.

Forster is a rare thing - a music journalist who takes every song on merit, refusing to cow to received wisdom and cliché. He's as comfortable writing about Delta Goodrem as he is about The Beatles, and he treats artists both with equal respect.

His titular 10 Rules definitely bear repeating:

1. Never follow an artist who describes his or her work as "dark".
2. The second-last song on every album is the weakest.
3. Great bands tend to look alike.
4. Being a rock star is a 24 hour a day job.
5. The band with the most tattoos has the worst songs.
6. No band does anything new onstage after the first 20 minutes.
7. The guitarist who changes guitar onstage after every third song is showing you his guitar collection.
8. Every great artist hides behind their manager.
9. Great bands don't have members making solo albums.
10. The three-piece band is the purest form of rock and roll expression.

Since reading that (and snorting into my lemonade), I've been trying to compile a similar list for pop music. Here's where I'm up to:

1. The worst singer in a girl band will have the biggest media profile.
2. Terrible bands can make great pop records.
3. Everyone mimes. EVERYONE.
4. Artists who "take pop music and make it edgy" have desperately misunderstood the point of pop music in the first place.
5. Bands who have reunited: We don't give a shit about new material.
6. Unless you are Take That.
7. No words will ever be more expressive when set to music than "la, la, la", "woah-ah-oh" and "na na na na".
8. The person who gets the choir and the falling petals in the X Factor Final will be the person who wins the X Factor Final.
9. The perfect length for a pop song is 3'49"
10. Even tedious indie snobs know all the words to Baby, One More Time.

That's what I've got so far. Any changes, additions or recommendations?

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Ellie Goulding does a win

Ellie Goulding (pronounced Golding, pronunciation fans) has won both the Brits Critic's Choice award and the BBC's Sound Of 2010 poll - which essentially means that if you don't like her you are WRONG and OUT OF TOUCH and DYSFUNCTIONAL and WHEAT INTOLERANT.

She's been banging around the blogs for a good 12 months or so, but if you don't know who she is yet, here is a picture of her nursing a canary back to life to help you identify her in the future:

What's great about Ellie is that her music sounds so fresh and unique that it's hard to define (although obviously I'm about to try). There are elements of celestial synth-pop in the production, but the songs all stem from a simple, strummed guitar. Her voice is a cross between Liz Fraser and Stevie Nicks - cracked, emotional and authentic - and her lyrics peddle a pleasing line in teenage heartbreak. The whole "package" sounds modern and traditional at the very same time. This is sure to please both your little sister and your mum and the playlist team at Radios One and Two and Magic and Virgin, all at the same time. Cunning.

Ellie's first post-poll single is Starry Eyed. There's no video yet but it sounds like this:

Ellie Goulding - Starry Eyed

And it's worth re-watching these Jools Holland clips from last October to get a full impression of the Ellie experience.

Ellie Goulding - Under The Sheets

Ellie Goulding - Guns & Horses

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Actually, her name's Marina

Huge congratulations are due to Marina and the Diamonds, who have taken second place in the BBC's Sound Of 2010 poll.

Through a process of bribery and open threats, I was lucky enough to go down to Marina's studio and interview her for the BBC, and she was everything you want a pop star to be: Spirited, smart, eccentric, funny, gifted and beautiful. Her album will blow your socks off, if you are wearing a pair of socks. If you are not wearing a pair of socks, it may well damage your ankles, leaving you a bit wobbly on your feet for up to seven minutes.

But see if you can spot something incongruous in the following sequence of events.

Marina, BBC News Website, January 7th 2010, 07:30 GMT:
"A lot of the interviews and acoustic sessions and other things that artists fill their time with are really pointless."

Marina's record label, via email, January 7th, 2010, 10:23 GMT:
"Marina releases her debut album, The Family Jewels, next month via 679/Atlantic on the 15th February, preceded by the wonderful Hollywood (1st February) - for which we have a brand new acoustic video."

Hooray for that joined-up piece of media planning. Luckily, the video is excellent - essential viewing, as opposed to box that needed to be ticked on some marketing department spreadsheet - so here it is:

Marina and the Diamonds - Hollywood (acoustic)

Also, here is a very charming (and absolutely not based on printing out the online coverage) chat Victoria Derbyshire had with Marina on BBC Radio 5 Live this morning.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Temper Trap go "woo-ooh" a bit

When compiling my Favourite Albums of 2009 list, I realised I'd barely mentioned brilliant Aussie quartet The Temper Trap - whose Conditions was my favourite rock album of the year. Now it is time to resolve that omission by pointing you in the direction of their new single Fader, which is released in the UK this week.

This is from the more Snow Patrol-y end of their musical rainbow, but don't let that put you off, because (a) it is better than that lazy comparison implies and (b) the album is stuffed full of atmospheric, elegaic ballads that will make your heart soar.

Thank you and goodbye.

The Temper Trap - Fader

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Parish notice


I have paid the princely sum of £6.38 to upgrade the comments feature on this blog. Not because I wanted to, but because the old system was turned off and I couldn't work out how to make Blogger's comments thing work because I am a div, an imbecile and a nincompoop.

Anyway, let me know if you spot anything curious, strange or unusual.



New Music: Daisy Dares You

In the most non-creepy way imaginable, I've been keeping an eye on 15-year-old pop singer Daisy Dares You for a couple of months. A lot of people whose opinions I really respect have tipped her for VERY BIG THINGS in 2010 - and she made it onto the BBC's Sound of 2010 longlist last month.

Full of bravado and attitood, the youngster writes her own brand of Essex-accented agit-pop, a curious genetic splice of Lily Allen and Avril Lavigne. She looks like an EastEnders extra with better hair - and she wears a Guns N' Roses t-shirt because she's, like, rebellious and whatnot.

I can't decide whether or not DDY will make a big splash this year, but her debut single "Number One Enemy" is a certifiable bouncing-round-the-bedroom hairbrush pop anthem. Even Chipmunk comes across well in it, which is the most surprising thing I will type in 2010.

Daisy Dares You - Number One Enemy

See also: "Behind-the-scenes with Daisy Dares You" which is 87.6% unintelligible.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Roisin Murphy: Momma's Place

3, 2, 1... I'm back in the room.

Let's kick things off with a new track from Ms Roisin Murphy, whose Overpowered album was one of the best dance floor filllers of the noughties. Her new single, Momma's Place, has been knocking around for a week or so, but I'd avoided listening to it because Orally Fixated - a previous "taste-maker" single from her new album - was completely liberated from such songwriting conventions such as tune or chorus.

Momma's Place is much better, though. Like much of Murphy's post-Moloko output, I suspect it'll only appeal to those of us who used to collect DMC Mastermix 12" records in the 1980s (ask your dad).

The chorus shows how a funny Oirish accent can make seemingly unconnected words rhyme: "Don't you go and pull a fast one, I used to be an awful rascal, you think you invented being bad. I used to be a ruffian, had to become a tough one, you think you invented being bad" (try this yourself - Liverpudlian also works).

The whole shebang is powered along by that marvellous chunky Detroit House bass, and a synth riff ripped straight from Domino Dancing. Olé Olé, indeed. Welcome back Roisin.

Roisin Murphy - Momma's Place

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Friday, January 1, 2010

Top 10 albums of 2009

Hello again!

Hope you had a great Christmas and new year. There's been plenty of new music round here at Discopop Towers, but that can wait til next week. Until then, here's our summary of the best 10 records of the last 12 months. 2009 wasn't a vintage year, to be perfectlly honest. But the top 3 make up for all of that.

1) Florence and the Machine - Lungs

Like all the best records, this is a slow-burner. For me, the epiphany came the first time I played the CD over real speakers, and Florence's epic, gothic drums punched me right in the heart. There's plenty to admire here: Attitude as firey as the 23-year-old's big red barnet, shockingly visceral lyrics, and, on Kiss With A Fist, a healthy obsession with the White Stripes' Hotel Yorba. Ironically for an album called Lungs, it will take your breath away.

2) Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz

Everyone says this is the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' disco album, but that does it a grave disservice. It's Blitz isn't about the carefree hedonism of Sister Sledge - it's about a seedy night out at the wrong end of town, ripped stockings, smudged mascara and all. Singles Zero and Heads Will Roll snog your face off on the dancefloor, while Dull Life breaks out the guitars for a brief opportunity to mosh or pogo or any of the other grandiose terms you use to describe "jumping up and down". The end of the record captures the comedown, too, with Runaway and Hysteric the perfect soundtrack to the guilty regret of a rainy Sunday morning. If you can stand Karen O's voice through the hangover, that is.

3) A Camp Colonia

A cheery record about rape, pillage, divorce and war in the Belgian Congo. The work of former Cardigan Nina Persson, her husband Nathan Larson and Atomic Swing's Niclas Frisk, Colonia was inspired by 60s girl-pop and the works of Adam Ant. Brilliantly, it manages to sound nothing like either of them. Instead, it's a sumptuous, orchestral, alt-rock album, encompassing bittersweet ballads (Stronger Than Jesus), regal waltzes (The Crowning) and glam rock stomps (My America). A towering achievement.

4) Temper Trap - Conditions

For my money, the only decent guitar album of the year. Aussie quartet Temper Trap are essentially Coldplay with a decent rhythm section. That means (a) their songs aren't hopelessly twee and (b) they occasionally have songs you would consider dancing to. Both of these are good things, of course, especially when combined with haunting falsetto vocals and chiming, spacious guitar lines. I wish I'd written more about them over the last 12 months, to be honest.

5) Lady GaGa - The Fame / Fame Monster

In 2009, the best singles, the most deranged outfits, the stupidest videos, the unlikeliest rumour, the most ridiculously censor-baiting awards performance, the highest heels, the tallest piano, and the best overarching artistic-visual concept all belonged to New York's Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. Sadly, her album was a bit hit and miss after all that - but there's a great 10-track "The Fame - Redux" playlist on my iPod, ready to be depolyed any time I fancied a 40-minute dose of demonic space age artnoise. The addition of Bad Romance and Alejandro from The Fame Monster created the year's most note-perfect pop record. It's all in the quality control.

6) Passion Pit - Manners

Yes, the lead singer bears a resemblance to Rory McGrath (look him up) and yes, they rely a little too often on the kids' choir from the Sesame Street theme tune - but this record is one big bundle of happy, poppy fun. Sadly, you're more likely to have heard Passion Pit's colourful electronica on advertisements than on the radio, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't check it out.

7) Regina Spektor - Far

Like a lot of fans, I was initially disappointed with Regina's follow-up to Begin To Hope. The Jeff Lynne-produced tracks, in paticular, lackied the fanged bite of her earlier, spikier songs. Once I got over the lack of yelping and lo-fi tin shack recordings, however, there was a rewarding, multi-textured album waiting to be discovered. Laughing With has a beautifully observed lyric about how athiests suddenly start praying when things go wrong. The hip-hop tinged Dance Athem Of The 80s is the dippy story of a night "Walking through the city / Like a drunk, but not". In the end, the addition of string sections and radio-friendly production didn't ruin Regina at all - they grounded her eccentric musings in the real world, making this album all the more potent.

8) Little Boots - Hands

Little Boots has a tendency to let a creative writing exercise get in the way of a decent lyric - shoe-horning references to Fibonacci and Pythagoras into the pun-o-rific Mathematics, for example. On the other hand, New In Town - Amazing; Earthquake - Amazing; Meddle - Amazing; No Brakes - A-ma-zing; Remedy - Amazing x5,000,000; Stuck On Repeat - Amazing10000000000000000.
In summary, then: Not bad.

9) La Roux - La Roux

Elly Jackson's voice is so shrill they use it to cut diamonds. Ben Langmaid's synthesizer has two sound settings "80s synth" and "80s steel drum". Yet, together, they made an album of surprising depth and emotional power. Jackson's expressions of heartbreak and emotional fragility gave the dayglo pop some much needed light and shade - particularly on the weepy bedsheet ballad Cover My Eyes. Yes, the 12 tracks kind of blended into one another - but sometimes, just sometimes, a pop album should sound homogenous. Otherwise, it could be any old vocalist belting out any old nonsense over a faceless producer's meaningless beats (we're looking at you, The Saturdays).

10) Nelly Furtado - Mi Plan

Because Nelly Furtado makes better Spanish albums than Shakira does English ones.

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