Friday, June 29, 2012

New music from Alicia Keys

Controversial but true: Alicia Keys is better when she goes uptempo. Oh yes, she's best-known for yawnsome mopefests like Fallin and If I Ain't Got You, but give her a sizzling drum loop and she's happier than a llama with a salt lick.

You want proof? I gots proof:

Then there's this:

See also this:

And you'd be an idiot if you forgot this:

So its good news that Alicia's first release since becoming a mum isn't a gloopy ballad about how breastfeeding really connects you with the elemental forces that underpin our universe.

Nonetheless, New Day is unashamedly positive – "a feeling in my heart that I can't get over" – but Alicia is in a triumphant, rather than reflective, mood. Over a lively military groove, by her husband Swizz Beats (why oh why didn't she take his surname?), she asks us to "celebrate and say eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh" - which is as exciting as it is nonsensical.

Listen below.

Alicia has also recorded a video message about her forthcoming album, which you can see below. It may prove to be of assistance if you’re suffering from insomnia.

A message from Alicia Keys

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lana Del Rey's endless permutation machine

Of all the songs on Lana Del Rey's debut album, National Anthem went through the most changes before it was released.

The original demo has been knocking about the internet for nearly a year. The sound quality is terrible - distorted and over-modulating, like a tape recording of an old radio show - but it has a crunchy immediacy that's instantly appealing. It even has a video, featuring Lana herself (or a very good lookalike), which popped up on a random YouTube account about a fortnight ago.

Lana Del Rey - National Anthem (demo)

There are more early versions of the track on Soundcloud [take one and take two]. And that's only the tip of the iceberg if you're prepared to waste an afternoon on Google.

The album version, released in January, went to a lot of effort to smooth off the demos' rough edges. That's fine - final masters should improve on the rough drafts - but a "source" (yes, a real one) tells me that Lana wasn't wholly convinced by the label-approved mixes.

So it's no surprise that the song has been modified again for the video. The album mix is augmented with a lush, string-drenched coda that gives added pathos to the tragic storyline (Lana is playing Jackie O to A$AP Rocky's JFK, for those who haven't kept up with the endless trailers). Directed by Anthony Mandler - who did Rihanna's Only Girl In The World and Usher's OMG - it's a stunning piece of work.

Lana Del Rey - National Anthem

With all of this jiggery-pokery going on to the basic song, I wonder what Lana makes of this dance mix, by house DJ Westfunk? It takes the star's languorous drawl and forces it into an arms akimbo disco droplet. Personally, I think it's a great treatment - but I suspect it doesn't quite fit the noir aesthetic Lana was aiming for...

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Review: The Pierces at Union Chapel

The Pierces are not of this world. They drift onto the stage, their legs apparently still under their floaty chiffon dresses. Allison summons a tambourine into her hand from thin air. Catherine resists all attempts to photograph her, simply appearing as a glowing white blob.

Their harmonies are supernatural, too. It's impossible to tell the sisters apart, their voices gloriously tangled in perfect union. They make it look casual, but I suspect it might be magic.

The heavenly vocals are perfectly fitted to the setting, Islington's Union Chapel, unlike the menacing undertone of their lyrics ("you get scared when we're alone, like I might suck your blood"). "Is this music appropriate for the Lord?" asks Allison, philosophically. "Well, I think all music pleases God."

After an absence of six months, many fans are expecting the band to play new material. Catherine, the more mischievous of the two siblings, is aware of the anticipation. "We've been working on new songs for you," she teases, "but we're not going to play them tonight. Just know that they're in the works."

Highlights include a sinewy, threatening Love You More, the sugar-coated cyanide pill of Secret and a dark twist on Nirvana's Come As You Are. There may well have been more but mrsdiscopop suddenly took ill and we had to leave. She says it was the heat. I think it was voodoo.

The Pierces - I Put Your Records On (Union Chapel)

Enjoy The Silence (Depeche Mode cover)
Love You More
It Will Not Be Forgotten
Drag You Down
Kissing You Goodbye
Piece Of You (b-side)
Sticks And Stones
The Good Samaritan
Close My Eyes
Come As You Are
City On Fire
Space + Time
We Are Stars
You'll Be Mine
Kathy's Song
I Put Your Records On

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New music for sheep rustlers


What's that noise? No, it's not a brick in a washing machine (that sounds more like this) it's the new single by Liverpool trio Stealing Sheep.

The girls - Becky Hawley (keys, vocals), Emily Lansley (guitar, vocals) and Lucy Mercer (drums, vocals) - started off in 2010, recording on cassettes and making their first EPs in an abandoned school in Liverpool. All of which is rather romantic and lo-fi, but since signing to Heavenly Records they've also had the chance to record in the lush studios at Abbey Road.

Luckily, the bigger budget has done nothing to diminish their charm. Their debut single, Shut Eye, starts off with the driving percussion of Mumford And Sons at their most demented, but the nursery rhyme vocals and psychedelic harmonies save it from being overblown. It's a beautiful racket. A delicate explosion. And it's only 59p on iTunes. What are you waiting for?

Oh, the video is what you're waiting for. Here it is, then.

Stealing Sheep - Shut Eye

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Back To Black: Take one

The forthcoming issue of Q Magazine is a tribute to Amy Winehouse, one year after her tragic, untimely death.

At least, I think it's supposed to be a tribute. But the salacious headline on the front cover makes me a little uncomfortable.

In case you can't read it, the cover says "new revelations about the voice of our time... and how we lost her". Which is the sort of thing I'd expect from Now or Closer. Undoubtedly the article itself will get the tone right, but it's a shame they felt the need to go down the "shock revelation" route to hook readers' interests.

Anyhow, a much more fitting tribute was paid by Amy's friend and producer Mark Ronson, who has been hosting a show on BBC 6 Music for the last few weeks. Sunday was the last installment (you can listen to it here) and he brought along the original demo of Back To Black.

A lot has been said about how instinctive Amy's performances were. How she nailed her best-remembered songs in a single take. This goes a long way towards proving that. And it will almost definitely send shivers up your spine.

RIP Amy.

[link via wotyougot]

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Unbelievably, there is another Conor Maynard single coming out

Enough, EMI. You have had your fun. The joke is on us. Now MAKE IT STOP.

Conor Maynard - Vegas Girl

As one YouTube commentator put it:
"It's a pleasure to meet you, I'm Conor. Maybe you can give me your number, I know some massage techniques." How could she refuse this offer? HOW? [xEverythingAboutYou]

BUT if you watch to the end, you discover that the girl caves in and goes all gooey-eyed at Conor's relentless campaign of internet harassment.

A better, and more realistic, storyline would have had the Vegas Girl saying: "I'm sorry, but I'm already seeing someone", followed by a slow lingering fade out of Conor crying, alone in his bedroom, having a sad wank over his Blackberry.

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Hackney Weekend: The best bits

So, I was down at Hackney Marshes on Saturday, marvelling at the scale of the whole enterprise. I grew up on the Radio 1 Roadshow - which basically meant watching T'Pau on top of a winnebago in some desolate corner of Northern Ireland. Hackney Weekend was a full-blown festival (although I still wish Mike Read had come on to do Bits and Pieces).

If you want a blow-by-blow account of what me and the Newsbeat team were up to, ace reporter Greg Cochrane has helpfully put together a twitter list that compiles all of our activities (I was running the @BBCEntsTeam account, if you're interested).

But if you don't have time to plow through hundreds of tweets, here are my highlights from the weekend.

8) Jay-Z forgetting he'd paid for thousands of pounds of fireworks
There were literally hundreds of pyrotechnics lined up across the back of the main stage on Saturday evening. They were all timed to go off at 3:18 during Jay-Z's first song - Run This Town, with Rihanna. He stopped the song at 3:07. Perhaps he'd realised the performance incendiary enough on its own.

Jay-Z and Rihanna - Run This Town

7) The Maccabees' improbable singalong funtime radio show
I love The Maccabees - Given To The Wild is a dead cert for my end of year Top 10 - but I would never attempt to sing one of their songs. Orlando Weeks' ethereal voice, and his tricky, obstuse lyrics don't make you want to holler at the top of your voice like, say, Living On A Prayer does. But the band's audience on Saturday was of one distinct, harmonious voice for half an hour. And it was beautiful.

Maccabees - Pelican

6)Lana Del Rey going acoustic
She said it was "almost like Jazz", but Lana's set - backed by a chamber orchestra - was simply mesmerising. Just watching her dusky-voiced performance of Blue Jeans on a tiny monitor brought a lump to my throat.

Lana Del Rey - Blue Jeans

5)Jessie J's exceptionally bendy legs

4) Mamas doing the hump
Rizzle Kicker Jordan should be very proud of his mum. That is all.

Rizzle Kicks - Mama Do The Hump

3)Everything Jack White did
In a weekend that had it's fair share of miming (I'm looking at you Nicki Minaj), Jack White was a shining beacon of how to do it properly. His band were so tight they could have played themselves through a crack in the wall. And as soon as he finished, Jack wiped himself off with a towel and went to watch Jay-Z on the main stage. Dude.

Jack White - Seven Nation Army

2) Rihanna showing signs of a personality
Dead-eyed pop autobot Rihanna actually smiled during her headline set on Sunday. A proper, genuine "I am pleased to be here" expression of joy. I think it was a first.

She also proved to be the biggest tease of the weekend: "Do you guys know Eminem?" she asked. The audience screamed "aaahahhhahhahahhagggeheheyeggooowhaaaa?" in anticipation of a Slim Shady cameo. Rihanna grinned, and said: "Well, he's not here".


1) Beyonce in the mosh pit for N****s In Paris
Obligatory comment: That shit cray. (The moshing moment starts at 5:10 in this video)

Jay-Z and Kanye West - N****s In Paris

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Five annoying cliches in pop music

Had you ever heard the phrase "un-break my heart" before Toni Braxton sang it back in 1996? I'd wager not. Diane Warren's lyric isn't just original, it's economic - expressing in three words what lesser writers would have wasted an entire chorus on.

Not every pop song can create a new idiom. Most don't even try. In fact, rock and pop lyrics have a very restricted vocabulary - around 2,000 words, compared to the 15,000 an average English speaker has stored in their head.

Inevitably, some phrases get recycled. A select few become so inextricably woven into the fabric of pop culture that we forget they are UTTER BALLS. Here are five of the worst offenders.

1) "I hate to love you / I love to hate you"
Take a moment to marvel at this clever juxtaposition: How can you love someone and hate them at the same time? It's impossible! Or maybe it is not impossible: Have you ever been so mad at someone you could just kiss them? No, me neither.

Worst offenders: Rihanna, Erasure
To put it another way: "Baby I just can't stand to see you happy, but more than that I hate to see you sad." (Prince, Strange Relationship)

2) "Baby, baby, baby, you got me going crazy"
Being in love can certainly make you feel giddy, elated, heightened, scared, soppy, jubilant, fulfilled. But not crazy. Crazy is sacrificing a goat, smearing yourself in its blood and going to Tesco for the groceries. Crazy is drawing fifty-five penises on your appraisal form and calling your boss "satan". Crazy is listening to the collected works of Olly Murs. If falling in love prompts any of those reactions... well, I can recommend a good doctor.

Worst offenders: Fine Young Cannibals, Britney Spears, Aerosmith
To put it another way: "I remember when I lost my mind, there was something so pleasant about that place." (Gnarls Barkley, Crazy)

3) "I would do anything for you"
No, you wouldn't.

Worst offenders: Gloria Estefan, Bryan Adams
To put it another way: "I wouldn't normally do this kind of thing." (Pet Shop Boys, I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind Of Thing)

4) "I'm down on my knees, begging you please"
It's not just lyricists who are partial to this cliché. It's a popular trope in film and literature, too. It's the sort of thing artists like Usher imagine "real people" do, because they have no direct experience of genuine human interaction.

Worst offenders: Eric Clapton, Duffy, Usher
To put it another way: "Can someone please remove these cutleries from my knees" (Flight Of The Conchords, What's Wrong With The World Today?)

5) "Wave your hands in the air like you just don't care"
Why am I having to pretend not to care? Who in their right minds has serious concerns about waving their hands in the air? I suppose it might be a problem if you had particularly bad underarm sweat patches. And drivers should remain in control of their vehicles at all times. So why not change the lyric to "wave your hands in the air if you just don't care, but do try to consider the safety of others while your limbs are in a state of elevation, thank you and I hope you continue to enjoy the remainder of this song."

Worst offenders: Cameo, S Club 7
To put it another way: "Is it safe to dance? Everybody look at your hands." (Men Without Hats, Safety Dance)

There must be plenty more... Put your suggestions in the comments box, or send me a note on @mrdiscopop and I'll put together the rest of the top 10.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

New from Dragonette: Rocket Ship

They just came to say "hello", but Dragonette seem to have become permanent house guests. Martina's been sleeping on the couch in her wonderbra and I'm pretty sure Dan's responsible for all the good cheese going missing last night.

Luckily, the Canadian trio have been keeping us entertained with their daft brand of sparkly electropop. Their latest MP3 is a free download called Rocket Ship, which comes complete with verses and a chorus. (You'd be surprised by how many of the songs we get sent that omit those crucial elements).

Hooray, etc.

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Bobby McFerrin is thinking about... a remix

The summer music slump seems to have begun... Apart from Lily Allen tweeting she was back in the studio, there's little of note flying around this week.

So here's a remix of a song from 25 years ago - Bobby McFerrin's acapella perv-fest Thinkin' About Your Body. In the UK, it's probably better known as Thinkin' About Your Chocolate, as it was repurposed for a Cadbury's advertisement (featuring the biggest chocolate bar you have ever seen).

The remix comes courtesy of Falcon Punch, about whom I know nothing, other than they're big Nintendo fans. Their reworking adds a generous dollop of house piano and some questionable "singing in the toilet" reverb.

Paging the Freemasons: If the above track kickstarts a trend for remixing songs from 1980s chocolate adverts, can this be next?

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Daniel Radcliffe makes a music video

Those Harry Potter kids have turned out to be pretty big music buffs. First, Emma Watson starred in a video for indie landfill desperadoes One Night Only. Then Rupert Grint did his best Ed Sheeran impression in the clip for Lego House.

Now its the turn of The Boy Who Played The Boy Who Lived - ie Daniel Radcliffe - as he crops up in the new video by Sheffield-based folk-pop duo Slow Club.

Shot in a single take, the video for Beginners finds Radcliffe staggering around an abandoned pub, drinking dregs from pint glasses and doing his special angst face (cf Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire).

Of the three Potter music videos, it is by far the best song. Nice work, Radcakes.

Slow Club - Beginners

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Azealia Banks is horny (& other new videos)

It's a semi-tradition on Friday afternoons to round up the new releases I didn't have time to blog about during the week. So, without further delay, here's this week's selection, starting with...

1) Azealia Banks - Licorice
"She's a little firecracker," said Scissor Sisters' frontman Jake Shears when asked about working with Azealia recently. Maybe a better description would be "a handful" - she's sacked three managers since the start of the year.

Still, that doesn't dilute her music, which is as filthy and funky as always. Licorice is "a song about inter-racial dating," she told me last year. "People are scared to talk about it," she continued. "I feel like it’s maybe becoming less taboo, but it is a taboo among black women to desite white men, and vice versa".

The video, directed by celebrity photographer Rankin, totally ignores all of that and dresses Azaelia up as a sexy / deadly cowgirl.

2) Cheryl 'don't call me Cole' Cole - Under The Sun
If you're only downloading one song from Cheryl's new album on Sunday, make it this one. Or the Lana Del Rey one. Or Call My Name.

Tell you what - why not download the whole thing, delete the rubbish ones (hint:, add Fight For This Love, Promise This and Parachute. Hey presto! A Cheryl album that scores 9/10 on the amaze-o-meter.

3) The Vaccines - No Hope
In which, apropos of nothin, Justin Young starts singing in a ridiculous Ay-mur-ee-kahn accent. Pop stars, eh?

4) Barbarossa - Butterfly Plague
A friend was rhapsodising to me about Barbarossa earlier this week. OK, it was his press officer, but it turns out she wasn't exaggerating. He's pretty darn good.

The name means "Red Beard" in Italian, and it belongs to James Mathé, a cohort of King Creosote, who records his music on a remote Scottish island. Butterfly Plague, which came out last month, is a very elegant, very human love song - and the video features Zawe Ashton, who you might know as Zod from Channel 4 comedy Fresh Meat.

5) Cleo Sol - Never The Right Time (Who Do You Love?)
You could be forgiven for thinking this is actually Amerie's 1 Thing in a cunning disguise. But it's not, it's the new single by Cleo Sol, a British (gasp) soul singer who insists that her hair should be "big and bad" at all times. Mind you, it wasn't her hairdo I was looking at in this video...

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They make it look trap-easy

Kiwi anthem-generating machine The Temper Trap have had a curiously low-key campaign for their second, self-titled album. The band's debut, Conditions, went gold in the UK, largely thanks to the beautiful, spiralling radio hit Sweet Disposition, so you wonder why more fuss hasn't been made over the follow-up.

The band's secret weapon is singer Dougy Mandagi's soaring falsetto. It's the focal point of Conditions, triggering several of the album's big crescendos. So maybe this interview with The Bay Bridged explains the muted reaction to the follow-up: "This time around there is not as much (falsetto)," says Mandagi. "We didn't want to make the exact same album."

Oh, you FOOLS! The second album should always be exactly the same as the first. Tinker at the edges, refine the formula, hire a more expensive studio - but don't start mucking about with the one thing that made you unique. You can save the experimental synth fusion album until 2017, when you've run out of ideas for actual songs (cf Radiohead).

Luckily, it turns out The Temper Trap's new material isn't entirely awful. Dougy still manages to imbue the songs with a thrilling sense of drama. And, when he does pull that falsetto out of the bag... well, wow.

Trembling Hands has been chosen as the next single from the record. In all honesty, it's not going to be used on any sports montages this summer, but the video - which follows a young girl training for her first ever trapeze performance - is beautiful.

Temper Trap - Trembling Hands

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

She's Aluna, I'm George and together we are...

Do I need to tell you how good AlunaGeorge are AGAIN? No. Good.

Just A Touch is the double A-side to their current Radio 1 playlisted song You Know You Like It. A slippery slice of Sputnik funk, I first featured it on the blog back in April - but the video has just been released, which is a perfect excuse to ram it down your throats a second time.

Both producer George Reid and singer Aluna Francis were born in 1988, so it's presumably just coincidence that they've lifted the video's visual signature from Swedish pop overlords Abba.



Let's just hope they don't stumble across this photo and try to recreate it, too.


AlunaGeorge - Just A Touch

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Regina Spektor: Mad as a teapot

Regina Spektor's cutie pie new single Ne Me Quitte Pas dates back to the start of her career. A primitive version appeared on her pre-major-label album Songs in 2002 - but the spruced-up 2012 recording is much lighter on its toes, trumpet solo and all.

Packed with quirky visual gags, the video captures the song's playful tone perfectly. "Shot in NYC and directed by the talented Mr. Ace Norton, it was super fun to make," wrote Regina on her Facebook page last night. "I hope you enjoy! Please watch and pass it on if you like it!"

Request granted.

Regina Spektor - Ne Me Quitte Pas

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Terry the Tarantula makes his debut

...In the new video by Sky 'still going' Ferreira.

Co-written by Shirley Manson, the track is called Red Lips and it's a short sweet sugarkick in your earholes. The video is definitely worth a watch, unless you're at work, or suffer from a fear of spiders, or a fear of spiders in the workplace, or a fear of spider's faces, or music videos, or the internet, or squirrels.

Sky Ferreira - Red Lips

I might have made up the squirrels thing.

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Don't watch this video if you've got hayfever

"I AM THE NEW PAT BENATAR," declared Mary Epworth in a recent interview with Ruth Barnes. An empirical review of the evidence proves this seemingly rash statement to be true, based upon three variables:

1) Pat Benatar is amazing
2) Mary Epworth is amazing
3) They are both legally registered as women

Where it all falls apart is that Mary's music sounds nothing like the epic Hit Me With Your Best Shot. It's epic in a whole other sense, though, pairing the bluesy sensuality of Anna Calvi with the tribal throb of Florence and the Machine.

Mary's debut album is well worth checking out when it "hits" the shops next week. She describes it as being "lots of harmonies, snatches of brass, psychedelic things that you can't quite work out what they are, and some hooky songs. One harpischord."

Only one harpsichord? What a swizz.

Long Gone has been lined up as a single in the run-up to the album's release. The video looks simple but apparently* its budget spiralled out of control due to an unforeseen rush on anti-histamines.

Seriously, aaa-choooo!

Mary Epworth - Long Gone

* Not really.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Watch out for that octopus!

Do you ever have those nights where your brain turns into an especially deranged episode of Wacky Races: Dozens of hairbrained ideas and schemes fighting for dominance when all you really want is to go to sleep?

Fiona Apple does. In fact, she's written a song about it.

Every single night I endure the flight
Of little whims of white flame
Butterflies in my brain
These ideas of mine percolate the mind
Trickle down the spine
Swollen belly swelling to a blaze.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that a woman who's latest album is titled The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, finds it difficult to switch off. My advice would be to go easy on the Red Bull cocktails in the future...

Musically, Every Single Night is initially disorientating - but it crystalizes with eerie beauty after a couple of spins. Video director Joey Cahill takes his cues from the lyrics, placing Apple inside a series of creepy dreamscapes. The singer explained the inspiration to Pitchfork.

"I told Joey just to come up with a bunch of things and just do things to me and put me in situations and surprise me. One thing I wanted to have happen was to be covered in snails. I laid in a bed of soil and they put snails all over me. And then they brought in shit that I would not have asked for. He put a dead squid on my head."

The Idler Wheel can be streamed in full on the NPR website. It's released on 18 June.

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Frank Ocean - just don't call him an R&B singer

Speaking to The Quietus last November, Frank Ocean had a good old moan about being labelled an R&B singer.

"It's not about genre," he said. "I think so many genres have rubbed off on each other... it's just dated. It's played out, it's over, it's done. Stop."

Ocean had already proved his point on Nostalgia, Ultra, the debut album he released (for free) online last year. The record sampled Radiohead, Coldplay and The Eagles. The Eagles sued him, Coldplay booked him as a support act.

Truthfully, his music leans towards pop and R&B more than anything else - but what sets Ocean apart is his lack of boundaries. His new single, Pyramids, is a 10-minute, multi-tempo trip through the senses, culminating in a deliriously woozy guitar solo. It's like Prince on Prozac.

Radio might not play it - although I suspect there's a decent edit point around the 4'30" mark - but Pyramids is causing a Pharaohld (fair old) storm online. Ocean uploaded the track to Soundlcoud over the weekend. It's already been streamed 350,000 times.

Click below to make it 350,001.

PS: Those of you paying attention to the artwork will have noticed that the "Pyramid" of the title in fact refers to carnal stirrings in Frank's trouser department. What a perv.

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Coldplay, Kylie, Calvin, Lana: That was the week that was this week. Or was it?

OH, HI THERE. It's Friday morning, so let's not dilly-dally with pleasantries. Here are some videos you may have missed over the last week.

1) Coldplay ft Rihanna - Princess of China
Stifle your yawns - it's the new video from Coldplay. Clearly inspired by wuxia films like House Of Flying Daggers, it's a sumptuous oriental martial arts epic in which the song's duelling lovers duel in real life with swords. The metaphor is almost too powerful to handle.

NB: Don't blame me if you feel the sudden urge to play Mortal Kombat after watching this video.

2) Kylie - Jubilee medley
Thanks to my job, I had an amazingly privileged view at the Jubilee concert on Monday. The BBC radio booth was right beside the Royal Box - and actually had a better angle on the stage (The Queen was watching from the right hand side, for some reason). I wouldn't describe it as the best concert of my lifetime, but it had an incredible atmosphere - not so much patriotism as magnanimity.

Madness and Sir Fab Paul Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft Veggie Sausage McCartney were undoubtedly the highlights, but Kylie's eight-minute hits medley made the best telly. Here she is doing her song-and-dance number with Flawless which, she confessed to us backstage, had been rehearsed outside the portaloos. Prince Harry loved this.

3) Calvin Harris and Example - We'll Be Coming Back
Can anyone pinpoint the exact moment Calvin Harris sold his soul to the devil? Because his 12-month run of hit singles - We Found Love, Bounce, Call My Name, Let's Go, Feel So Close, Only The Horses - simply cannot be natural. Here's the latest product of his collaboration with Beelzebub.

4) Lana Del Rey - Body Electric
At a gig that must surely have been marketed as "Del Rey at the El Rey", serious chanteuse Lana Del Rey gave a concert for a crowd of disturbingly devoted fans at Los Angeles' El Rey Ballroom on Monday. They came dressed with garlands in their hair and hysterically shouted things like "I fucking love you" and "nice lips". She came armed with a brand new track, Body Electric, which ranks among the best of her unreleased material. It namechecks Walt Whitman's poem, which contains the line "those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead". Make of that what you will.

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Ninety seconds of a new Killers song

Hooray! Brandon Flowers has finally patched it up with Ronnie Verruca and the boys, and they're back in their studio "thrashing out the jams". The band's fourth studio album is provisionally called Battle Born, and Flowers recently told Q Magazine "we just hope lightning strikes again". As they hang around waiting for a thunderstorm, The Killers have released an instrumental clip of the title track, and the DC Comics-inspired logo for the new album. Nice font.

The Killers - Battle Born album trailer

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dance To The Beat Of My Drum

So, someone just tweeted the following message:

"Hello?" I thought. "What have I missed?" Because, while I've waxed lyrical about AlunaGeorge here and here, I had no idea that anyone else had been paying attention to the duo.


Ahhh, isn't it nice when good people become successful? Hooray for AlunaGeorge.


New band alert: Haim

Haim are an alt-rock girl band from Los Angeles, whose shimmy-shaking new single Freedom has been causing involuntary chair dancing in our office all day. It's nothing you haven't heard before - all staccato indie guitars and R&B-inspired hiccups - but it is rather lovely.

The group first got together when they were born, because Haim are sisters Danielle (22, vocals), Alana (20, guitar) and Este (24, bass). In fact, the line-up even used to include their parents. They would tour folk festivals playing under the name Rockinhaim which I think we can all agree is perfectly terrible.

Artistic differences led to the current line-up. "We were pushing out against our parents a bit," Este told Vogue. "Every Sunday they'd put on 'Breakfast with the Beatles,' but we’d always want to switch it over to something like TLC, En Vogue, or Brandy and Monica."

Fast forward to 2011 and, amid the hullabaloo of the SXSW festival, the band stood out as ones-to-watch after receiving a barrage of blustering reviews. Words used in these reviews included "sparky" and "unhinged" and "fucking awesome".

And that brings us to today, and the band's FREE single Forever, which takes those hippy 60s ideals and smacks them across the face with a dose of robo-R&B. You can sample its delights below, then head over to the band's website for the MP3.

Haim - Forever

PS: Following the current trend for musicians giving their fans names (Monsters, Soldiers, Diamonds, etc) can we all agree now that Haim's supporters will be known as Haimophiliacs?

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Video: Florence sings Spectrum

The campaign for Florence and the Machine's second album hasn't exactly been a rip-roaring success. Ceremonials debuted at number one, but it's spent the last few weeks hanging around the very bottom end of the Top 75, several places below its predecessor, Lungs.

This simply isn't just. Ceremonials is a damned good album - Shake It Out alone is worth the price of admission. If you still need convincing, have a gander at the new video for Spectrum, Florence's ode to the days of Manic Miner and Atic Atac [subs - please check].

Directed by Dave "if it's ostentatious, I'll have three" LaChapelle, the video sees Florence surrounded by ballet dancers wearing one of Toyah's off-cast wigs from 1983.

Florence and the Machine - Spectrum

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Big tune: A*M*E - Find A Boy

What's that rumbling noise? Oh, it's the new single from A*M*E and, once you've secured any breakable items in your near vicinity, you are going to like it a lot. Here is all the information that is germane.

1) A*M*E is pronounced "Amy"

2) That's her above, wearing a horse on her head.

3) She is just 17 (if you know what I mean).

4) A*M*E was born Aminata Kabba in Sierra Leone, but was forced to leave because of the brutal and bloody civil war.

5) That's not really relevant to the music - it is just a FACT for you to DIGEST.

6) A*M*E's new song is called Find A Boy. The extended mix has been banging about the internet for a couple of days but the newly-released radio edit is much, much better.

7) Find A Boy was co-written by Emeli "your mum probably likes her" Sande.

8) A*M*E's music is what I would call "dark pop" - IE you can sing along to it, but it might leave you feeling a bit spooked if you are on your own in a bad neighbourhood at night and you are being followed by a weird cat-pig on the devil's motorbike.

9) A*M*E says "90% of my inspirations are from the 90s". Cowabunga, dude.

10) I saw A*M*E play a club show in London's trendy London last month. To say that she is spectacularly charismatic would be like saying Danny from The Script is somewhat annoying.

Got the picture? Good. Then, without further ado, allow me to present Find A Boy "in full".

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New from Marina: Power and Control

I was reflecting last night on how Marina & The Diamonds' Electra Heart has the best opening salvo of any pop album this year. The first 30 minutes is an uninterrupted sequence of unassailable bubblegum hooks, even if (as mrsdiscopop pointed out) it sometimes veers dangerously close to being a Katy Perry tribute album.

Marina's new single Power And Control comes towards the tail-end of that purple patch. Focussing on the tug-of-war for dominance in a relationship, it contains one of the best lyrics on the record: "You may be good looking but you’re not a piece of art" and at least three of those aforementioned hooks.

The video is simple but beautiful, with Marina dancing around a stock music promo mansion (floaty lace curtains, no discernable furniture). There is some business with a tennis ball that screams "important metaphor" but it's more interesting to watch Power And Control back to back with the videos for Radioactive and Primadonna, and observe the slow progression of Marina's roots through her bottle blonde dye-job.

Marina and the Diamonds - Power And Control

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