British rock duo Noisettes recorded a cover of James Brown’s “Living In America” a while ago to give away as a free download, which was sadly overlooked, as was their lovely new album “Contact”. It’s a fantastically funky effort, with an amazing pure-joy section that only starts at 2:25. And yes, there’s some serious cowbell action going on here too, which is always a good thing. I found Shinghai Shinowa to be a total star and one of the most fascinating frontwomen the UK has offered in recent years. I hope a tour on this side of the pond is in the planning.
Coincidentally, it’s Election Day in America! *pause for suspense* Have you done your part yet? Don’t just sit there now, GO OUT AND VOTE!
I won’t object to a nice Twin Peaks and NZ indie-rock band She’s So Rad did just the trick with their cover of the David Lynch/Angelo Badalamenti kitschy dream-pop tune “Rockin’ Back Inside My Heart”, balancing fuzzy guitars with candy-coated vocals in the same spirit of Julee Cruise. If you like The Raveonettes, then you oughta like She’s So Rad.
It also reminds me of another Twin Peaks fuzz-pop makeover of the theme song “Falling” by Girls Names, released back in 2010.
My new favorite British guitar-pop band Spector stopped by Zane Lowe’s show on Radio 1 yesterday for a chat and a two-song live session, one of which is a performance of their anthemic new single “Celestine”, and the other is a surprise cover of Kavinsky’s “Nightcall”. The original recently rose to prominence thanks to its inclusion on the infamous “Drive” soundtrack, which seemed to open the gate for a new craze for late-night-driving 80s-synthpop. Spector’s take is actually quite faithful and solid, with the addition of a guitar solo (for they are a guitar band)! I find it funny how the rest of the band sang background vocals in falsetto to make up for the lack of Lovefoxxx. What I like about the band is that they have a sense of humour, and not just all Joy Division doom and gloom. Check out their cover right below.
STREAM: Spector – Nightcall (Kavinsky Cover)
You can watch their performance of Celestine here, featuring a cameo from Fred’s untimely zits.
The desert-themed video for “Celestine” is also out on Youtube now. Is it only me or is that an S Club 7 reference in the video? And maybe a Madonna’s “Frozen” homage too. They certainly (presumely) know their late ’90s pop!
Radio 1′s certainly been pimping them a lot lately.
Now how about some album news, lads.
New anthem alert! Spector has unleashed their fifth single “Celestine”, and it is HUGE! Produced by Trevor Horn, it’s an epic arena-sized monster without any pretense of what it’s set out to be: an epic arena-sized monster. Now that I found a proper audio version to replace the Zane Lowe radio rip, my obsession will only grow stronger. Seriously, this is so glorious I don’t know whether to fist pump or cry, or both. I picture a sea of thousands of hands in the air and the crowd chanting along as the drums drop out on the last chorus. It’s safe to say “Celestine” has eclipsed “Grey Shirt & Tie” as their best track to date, and right now it is very much a strong contender for song of the year. Spector has proved themselves to be the most exciting new guitar band in a while. The Vaccines who?
Celestine is out May 21 in UK on Fiction. If this couldn’t score a number one, I’d be livid.
Welcome back, Shirley & co.
It took them a 5-year break and a shelved solo project, but Garbage is finally back together making sweet music again. On their own without a major label this time, they are so kind to give away their first comeback release to the fans for free! “Blood For Poppies”, the lead single from the new album “Not Your Kind Of People”, is like catching up with an old friend from high school. It has a whiff of that classic Garbage sound we’ve known and loved, and but it is also very current, as in I can actually imagine this playing on American radio and become a hit on the Modern Rock stations. And very catchy and arms-aloft it is, too. I am just so goddamn excited about this reunion. Alongside No Doubt, Fiona Apple, Pulp, Blur, and the original Sugababes, 2012 is set to become the best year for ’90s nostalgia yet. Watch out for the music video out soon, and get your tickets for the tour!
Get your free mp3 here, at the cost of your email address.
Gossip has just unleashed their new single, “Perfect World”, produced by the one and only Brian Higgins of Xenomania. It’s a polished, straightforward pop-rock number, and the Xenomania stamp is unmistakable on the lush instrumental breaks. Set for a May release, the forthcoming album is called “A Joyful Noise”, as a tribute to the Queen Latifah/Dolly Parton movie of the same name.* I am quite looking forward to this, especially after Beth Ditto’s fantastic but brief solo outing. Check out the track below, or click here to watch the lyric video, if you prefer some nice typography action and kaleidoscopic visuals to go with it.
STREAM: Gossip – Perfect World
Intense, striking, dramatic – those are words often associated with UK songstress Anna Calvi‘s music, and the same applies to her covers. Last week, she paid a visit to Radio 1′s Live Lounge and delivered an impressive take on Beyoncé’s “Naughty Girl”. Through her crimson filter, what was otherwise an innocuously seductive Middle-Eastern-tinged R&B track now drips with dark, menacing undertones. There’s no doubt she can sure rock a mean guitar. Check out her interpretation below, and see the performance in motion here.
A cheery bunch Veronica Falls ain’t. The UK indie band is known for their gloom-laden, gothic lo-fi guitar-pop, and their self-titled debut album released last year makes great music for cold, grey days. They carry their aesthetics well on this fantastic cover of Eurythmics‘ 1986 hit “Thorn In My Side”. Released on a limited covers 12″, it’s a cleverly reimagined version of the original, with which I wasn’t familiar before hearing their version. Their rather bleak-sounding take hints at a sense of desperation beneath the kiss-off bravado. What I like about Veronica Falls is that they do not forget the tunes and harmonies. Do check out their own songs if you have the time, they’re so underrated.
I’m always on the look out for the next “it” British guitar band. It doesn’t matter if they all sound the same, with luck, one might come along with one great guitar-pop tune, and one at a time is all I ask for. However, up-and-coming London-based five-piece Spector has already exceeded that ratio by churning out 3 good singles in a row! The nerves. Their latest release, “Grey Shirt & Tie”, saw them switching gears for a more ’80s-inspired sound. At first listen, it seems lovely enough, if a bit restraint compared to their previous efforts, but it turns out to be a massive grower. What sets them apart from the much crowded deep-voiced blokey band pool is that they definitely don’t shy away from a catchy melody. With their namesake (which is, yes, named after that Spector), they’ve got a lot to live up to, but I believe 2012 will be their breakthrough year. Watch the quite nice video for “Grey Shirt And Tie” below, though I’m not sure if the Harry Potter glasses are a good look.
STREAM: Spector – Grey Shirt And Tie
STREAM: Spector – Never Fade Away
“Grey Shirt & Tie” is out on December 7 on Luv Luv Luv Records.
More on Spector.
Cult discopopstar Sophie Ellis-Bextor has dusted off her rock-band-fronting persona for an unpredictable Arcade Fire cover, in the good name of charity. Recorded for a compilation album in aid of Samaritans, the cover is like a throwback to her theaudience days. Her version traded the quite cacophonous original for a more straightforward alt-rock arrangement. Of course, with this being Sophie, she couldn’t help but sneakily adding some synths at the end of the track. I have to say that I find her rendition really pleasant and tastefully done. Sophie has strongly hinted that her next album will be a departure from her usual sad disco flair, and if this is an implication of the change she’s got in mind, I can’t wait to hear more! Memo: more stuff like “Hello Hello” would be great.
As it’s for a good cause, I highly recommend purchasing it if you like what you hear.
STREAM: Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Rebellion (Lies) (Arcade Fire Cover)
Radio 1′s Live Lounge seems to revolve around Robyn these days. A couple weeks ago, she was on the show to perform her new single “Call Your Girlfriend”, and now Noah And The Whale has picked it for their mystery cover. The alt-folk band totally transformed the ebullient original into a Tom Petty-style track. They shouldn’t have bothered changing the words though, it could make a cool twist. Stream/download their take below.
Noah And The Whale – Call Your Boyfriend (Robyn Cover)
I don’t have much to say about their own output, except that “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” was quite a guilty pleasure of mine.
Freshly signed to Mute, UK’s boy-girl duo Big Deal got me hooked with just one simple yet brilliant track. “Homework”, their debut single, is a pristinely beautiful acoustic track, very much in the same vein of Kings Of Convenience. It’s the perfect song for a lazy spring afternoon. The gorgeously-shot video certainly helps, too. I like the teen angst angle in their lyrics, and the intimate, minimalist approach brings to mind The XX, or a lightweight Raveonettes. So far, they have released a couple limited vinyl singles, all of which sounds really nice. If they can find the right balance between the acoustic and the fuzz for the album, they might very well become one of my favorite new acts. Watch the video for “Homework” below, and download a b-side, “Locked Up”, after the jump.
Franz Ferdinand’s “Covers E.P.” was just released yesterday for Record Store Day, featuring an all-star list of veterans covering their songs, including LCD Soundsystem, Debbie Harry (Blondie), Stephen Merritt (The Magnetic Fields), Peaches & ESG. While the recently-retired LCD Soundsystem’s contribution will most likely get the most attention, the highlight for me is Debbie Harry‘s sublime cover of “Live Alone”. There is just something about her seasoned voice and delivery that makes the song much deeper and sadder. I might actually prefer it to the original for now. Stream both Debbie and LCD Soundsystem’s takes below.
Debbie Harry – Live Alone (Franz Ferdinand Cover)
LCD Soundsystem – Live Alone (Franz Ferdinand Cover)