Monday, 12 December 2011

The X Factor 2011 - The Results

Who wins? You decide.

Well, actually it's all over now, and Little Mix won. Did you vote for them? Did you vote for any of the acts that made the final?

Chances are, probably not - there were an awful lot of entrants after all, and only three true finalists. And one of those wasn't in the competition for half of the live shows.

However, for better or worse, Little Mix are now vying for the Christmas number one spot, and you can preview and order their single, Cannonball, below.


Friday, 9 December 2011

Dear Reader - Bear (Young's Done In)

The second of today's Free Music Fridays posts is this preview of Dear Reader's upcoming album Idealistic Animals, due out on January 9th 2012.

Bear (Young's Done In) continues the theme of animals, which is apparent in the titles of all the tracks on the disc, and also carries its fair share of vocalist Cheri MacNeil's newfound cynicism.

I have to admit, in my typically lazy approach to having unfounded expectations about music, I was waiting to hear a male voice on this track, but Cheri's relaxed vocals were more than welcome.

Preview below, and click the appropriate arrow to get your free download...



We'll be listening out for the full album and bringing you a proper album review at the turn of the year - personal favourite titles to look out for include Whale (BooHoo).

Until then, you'll have to satisfy yourselves with Bear (Young's Done In)...!

Diana Vickers - Music To Make The Boys Cry

Let's get Free Music Fridays off to a start with the latest effort from another former The X Factor starlet, Diana Vickers.

After the rousing success of My Wicked Heart, Music To Make The Boys Cry has a lot to live up to, and it manages to do so admirably. It's not quite so hit-you-between-the-eyes as its predecessor, but that might be because we've all realised Vickers has grown up a bit, and it's time to take her seriously.

You can, apparently, download Music To Make The Boys Cry for free by surrendering your email address in the box below - although to be honest, we've had trouble getting anything to happen after hitting 'submit'. Still, if your account is reasonably spam-proof, it's got to be worth a try.


FYI, this is the exact same signup form that's on Diana's official website, so we can't control whether or not it works, sorry!

However, just in case the form's broken, you can preview the track either by clicking play on the pic of Diana above, or using the SoundCloud player embedded below.



So, what do you think? It's a different beat to My Wicked Heart, for sure, but I can imagine sticking this on in the car, on a playlist for the way to school or work, or even chilling to it on the dancefloor.

Honourable mention for Steve Brookstein, who pointed out on Twitter the certain similarities between Music To Make The Boys Cry and Fleetwood Mac's Everywhere:


Vickers already got accused of nicking the chorus from the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Under The Bridge for My Wicked Heart, so a few more parallels like this could be dodgy, but personally I think it's a good thing.

So much music tries so hard to be original, that it comes out sounding distorted - literally, in the case of some of the Black Eyed Peas' overly electronic tracks.

Vickers obviously draws inspiration from times past - it's a defining feature of her fashion ranges and her personal dress sense - so it's particularly authentic to see that her music reflects bygone eras as well. Like Rebecca Ferguson's new album, it seems Diana Vickers is bringing good music back to the charts, and there's nowt wrong with that.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Video Special: Rebecca Ferguson - Heaven

Rebecca Ferguson makes me happy. She's got a personality that just radiates goodness, and a voice that changes my world, if only for three to four minutes at a time. She's the silver lining on a cloudy day, and Heaven is her first studio album since coming second to Matt Cardle on The X Factor.

The videos below give an insight into some of the tracks on Heaven - what they're about, when (and why) Rebecca wrote them, and who collaborated on them. They also give a glimpse into why Heaven is vying for the top spot in this week's iTunes Album Chart.


I've been looking forward to this album all year, and it took me by surprise when it seemed to suddenly be released from nowhere, but I'm thrilled for Rebecca that it seems to be doing so well.

From her first performance of A Change is Gonna Come, she effortlessly showed her vocal quality, and I'm delighted that her original music on Heaven lives up to that same soulful style of song. There are instant classics on this album, of a type that hasn't been seen in recent years (with perhaps a couple of notable exceptions like Adele's massive Someone Like You).


This year I've written a lot about what I see as a return to 'real' music - instruments, soaring vocals, tunes - and Heaven wholeheartedly continues that trend.

I can't wait to hear more from Rebecca Ferguson in the future, but for now I'm glad that we've all finally got a full album of her to enjoy.

Heaven - Rebecca Ferguson

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Dan Mangan - Oh Fortune

Dan Mangan's third studio album, Oh Fortune, is a rousing and orchestral delight, without ever becoming indulgent - swells of strings and brass lend energy and emotion where it is needed, but are balanced with simple guitar motifs elsewhere on the disc.

Mangan is Canada's answer to Elbow, at least in terms of anthemic, epic compositions, but is if anything more polished in his delivery. His relative lack of fame in the UK - both compared to his success in Canada, and in general - seems more like a matter of time than a matter of talent.

With Oh Fortune bound to claim a few 'album of the week' accolades, I hope it also claims its fair share of airplay on the nation's radio stations. It is, perhaps, a little mature in tone for the boyband/The X Factor crowd, but there's a plenty sizeable market out there for 'proper' music, and this is that indeed.
Oh Fortune - Dan Mangan

Friday, 2 December 2011

Boy Friend - Egyptian Wrinkle

As part of our (slightly irregular) Free Music Fridays strand, here's a sneak preview at the title track from Egyptian Wrinkle, the upcoming (February 6th 2012) album from female duo Boy Friend.

Continuing the fine tradition of female duos such as Shakespears Sister (well, between 1989 and 1993), Boy Friend's preview track delivers haunting vocals that combine the power of layered voices with dramatic effect.

You may have heard Boy Friend's Sarah Brown and Christa Palazzolo together earlier in 2011, when they put out a self-titled EP, or previously in the band Sleep ∞ Over, but I think this is the first time we've featured them on Popsiculture.

As always, we'll keep an ear open for future releases - you can probably expect to see them mentioned again closer to the February release date of Egyptian Wrinkle - but for now you'll have to make do with the track below, which you can download to keep from the HellYes SoundCloud page.

Wootton Bassett Rocks! - Wake Me Up When September Ends

Wootton Bassett Rocks!' Wake Me Up When September Ends is everything good you could hope for in tackling what is an increasingly desperate situation for many families across the UK.

Regardless of whether you support the wars British troops have been sent into in recent years (and this is not the place to start that kind of debate!), most people have at least some level of support for the families of those killed and wounded in combat.

Wake Me Up When September Ends is Wootton Bassett Rocks!' newly released single in aid of four charities. You can watch it below, download using the iTunes buttons, and learn more about the charities by clicking 'Read more'.

iTunes

Monday, 28 November 2011

Abi Wade - And Blood And Air EP

Abi Wade's new EP And Blood And Air might only be four tracks long, but don't let that fool you - there's plenty of creativity crammed into its 13 minutes. It would be bordering on patronising to call it 'experimental', so instead I'll say that Abi Wade is clearly an original talent with her own ways of creating a musical experience that is both enjoyable to listen to, while also being thought-provoking. Take 'Stability' as an example, and see what you think of the live performance below...


So, what do we think? It falls roughly into that fuzzy-edged genre called 'folk', which has been enjoying a huge resurgence in the past couple of years with acts like Mumford & Sons bringing acoustic music back to the mainstream. Abi Wade might not be mainstream, but I suspect she wouldn't want to be thought of as such. She does, however, offer all of the atmosphere and commitment to the music that folk is all about, and I applaud her for that.
And Blood and Air - EP - Abi Wade

Monday, 21 November 2011

She & Him - A Very She & Him Christmas

A Very She & Him Christmas is the perfect way to round off what has been a pretty great year for music in general - January brought us Jessie J's Price Tag and Adele's Someone Like You, and as we head into December we finally get the much-anticipated festive offering from She & Him, AKA Zooey Deschanel and M Ward.

Elf fans, rejoice - you finally have a full-length collection of Christmas classics sung by Zooey Deschanel. Alas, there's no Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, and the version of Baby, It's Cold Outside is not the one that appeared in the movie - but this isn't Elf, it's She & Him, so get over it.

Despite that, if you found yourself overwhelmed by nostalgia at the end of that movie - or you love the old-timer style of previous She & Him albums - you're in for a treat here. You'd just better hope you've got a crackling open fire and a mug of mulled wine to enjoy while you're listening; A Very She & Him Christmas kinda demands it.

A Very She & Him Christmas - She & Him

Friday, 18 November 2011

BBC Children in Need - November 18th 2011

It's that time of year again, so get your Pudsey ears on and get ready for Children in Need 2011.

There's a bit of a recession on, you may have noticed - so should we expect a record-breaking year? Probably not on the night itself, but we'll find out over the next few hours. Either way, it's still the biggest variety line-up of the year, an excuse to be a bit silly, and all for a very worthy cause.

First up is a special edition of The One Show, which seems like an odd way to kick things off, but you never know, they might have Sir Terry Wogan as a special guest host...

7pm-7:30pm

Ah, apparently it's not Children in Need time yet, there seems to be a 30-minute countdown clock on the screen... seriously BBC One, make your mind up! With that in mind, I'm gonna make sure I've got my beer and schnapps within arm's reach - a shot for every million pounds raised, until I'm drunk enough to donate more than I can afford.

Meanwhile, here's a photo of Matt Baker and Pudsey the Bear on a rickshaw...
Just about 22 minutes to go until the main event gets underway, and One Direction are already pubing all over my TV screen. Urg. But it's OK, they're only here to announce the official phone number:
03457 33 22 33

12 minutes till the main show, and Matt Baker's already single-handedly raised over £1.2 million. That's not a bad effort, by any means. Well done Matt! And he's straight back into presenting The One Show, too. What a hero.

And this is your five-minute warning... shot glasses at the ready if you're playing along with the drinking game. Just don't get so drunk that you forget to donate...

7:30pm

It's time for the main show! And, finally, Sir Terry Wogan. Good evening to you, sir.

Oo, who's hanging on his arm for the first part of the show...? It's the holy trinity of Tess Daly, Alesha Dixon and Fearne Cotton, in matching metallic frocks. Looking good, girls!

And it's One Direction, again. Good things to say about this: 1, at least they'll be out of the way pretty early in the night, and 2, at least this isn't the official Children in Need single for this year. Although it's probably better than the god-awful cover of Teardrop that 'The Collective' have actually released. Oh dear.

If you actually like One Direction, you can get What Makes You Beautiful on iTunes.

As for Teardrop, well, The Collective are an all-star line-up and it's good to see Children in Need is keeping up with the times. You can buy Teardrop on iTunes, safe in the knowledge that your money is going to a very worthy cause.
Teardrop (feat. Labrinth, Tulisa Contostavlos, Chipmunk, Dot Rotten, Ed Sheeran, Ms. Dynamite, Mz Bratt, Rizzle Kicks, Tinchy Stryder & Wretch 32) - EP - The Collective
It's fast-paced tonight, barely ten minutes into the main show and we're already into a Wizard of Oz mash-up. Michael Crawford showing the One Direction boys how you stay in the game for decades at a time.

Olly Murs tells Ella's story, and reminds us of why we're watching in the first place with an appeal on behalf of a nursery for children with various disabilities or special needs.
Owly Images
7:55pm, and it's time for a quick local update before the hour mark. How are things going in your area?

Obscure goings-on in the north-west: "I've found his head." "That's not his head, that's a cake!" No, I don't know either.

8:00pm

Here we go, into the new hour. And it's John Craven with this year's Countryfile calendar. How much did they raise? £560,000, says John - although it says £504,000 in massive digits behind him. Either way, it's a potful of money for Children in Need!

Oo, the first total of the night - how much have they raised so far? This could be a few shots already, eek...

£4,364,411

The most ever raised by the first total, says Terry - surely they can't keep up that kind of pace all night??

Right, so I'm off to down four shots of schnapps (while I can still say it) and I'll leave you in the capable hands of the BBC newsreaders and their Strictly Come Dancing special.

I've interrupted my schnapps-downing to say that if Sophie Raworth was grinding against me like that, I don't think I'd be able to dance. Dan disagrees - he's more of a Susanna Reid fan, apparently. And a special mention for Angela Rippon, a genuinely classy lady and very gracious despite only being given about half a second to speak. What a lady!

And Susanna wins, so I guess Dan was right after all. He usually is.

The total's in from Greggs and it's over £1 million - cheers Greggs, I'll be having a shot for you at the next total.

Is it time for Doctor Who yet? More importantly, Dan wants to know if there'll be any Pond...??

No Pond, but you can bid for The Doctor's bow-tie? Bow-ties are cool! Although Dan suggests it would have been better if Pond's clothes had disappeared. Then again, they seem to do that every week...

8:30pm

As we enter a new half-hour, it's almost time for a classic Children in Need mass choir effort. I can't remember them doing this in earnest since that year the kids all had to hold squares of coloured card over their heads to make a massive patchwork Pudsey picture... back when they were using the good old Children in Need anthem "We are the children...". Pull this off, guys, and you'll make a long-time Children in Need fan very happy indeed.

Well, it's fair to say that was a pretty impressive effort, well done 2,000 or so random children!

Aw, and Alesha Dixon bows out at 8:42pm. Not a bad effort though, Alesha - well done, m'lovely. Who's up next then? Tess? Fearne? We'll find out after another local update.


A full five minutes later, we finally find out that it's Tess to support Sir Tel through this stint - and there's a bit of slightly odd flirting between the pair of them. Eek.

I like the kids from Outnumbered, so you're not gonna hear a bad word from me on this one. Given that it's been about ten years, they've done an awfully good job of making them all look like they've never aged.

And we haven't mentioned the number for a while, so if you want to donate, here it is:

03457 33 22 33

Another pre-recorded segment - time for something else live soon, I hope? - but it's the fairly epic DIY SOS shown a week ago. We watched the whole thing and it was a genuine achievement, and quite moving too. Well done, guys.

And the total raised via DIY SOS text donations:

£182,158

9:00pm

We're moving past the watershed now, and there's still only been one totaliser. How much has been raised?? Nobody knows, but maybe we'll find out soon.

Time to find out what Radio 2 have been doing, anyway. Any face-painting? Everyone else has been face-painting, it seems. No mention of face-painting, as far as I could tell.

Chris Evans' listeners add a further £1.2 million to the pot, taking the Radio 2 contribution over £2 million. And it's totaliser time! Here goes...

£8,911,090

That's... £2.2 million from Radio 2 and Greggs, and another £2 million or so raised on the night? Steady going, but there's still plenty of time...

Time for a Chicago song and dance routine from Gok Wan, and time for us to do another four shots of schnapps here - that was a close-run thing on hitting £9 million just then...!

Gok: "Getting women naked - easy. Song and dance - terrifying."
Sir Terry: "I never found getting women naked easy, myself."

Time for an appeal from Jo Joyner. "Harry weighed 1lb 6oz when he was born." He was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. There's not a lot else to say, is there? Steps, an educational centre near Loughborough, supports children with motor disorders. Donate or pledge tonight, and you can help support them too.

03457 33 22 33

Straight into the EastEnders montage, and it's a swift change of mood. Unless it's just laughable... I'm not really sure. Obligatory everybody-headbanging to Bohemian Rhapsody, and is that Ian Beale in drag? Yep, apparently so.

A regional round-up, and then The Muppets! It's very nearly 9:30pm, and it's an all-star Mah Na Mah Na (find the original Muppets version on The Green Album) - and that's another half-hour over.

9:30pm

Oh Christ, Daniel Craig introduces a film we're warned will be painful to watch. I'm gonna watch it. You should too.

"Two of their ten beds are empty, because they can't afford to run them." Please donate, if you can.

Susan Boyle seems to be skirting around the tune of this one a bit - is that what the second line's supposed to sound like? Maybe... maybe. It's not important, anyway.

If SuBo moved you to tears, you can download Enjoy the Silence from iTunes.

And we're on to Dragons' Den versus The Apprentice. Well, just Sir Lord Alan Sugar. What a massive Sir Lord.

He does have a good product, though - the AmsBear, a wireless integrated Pudsey? I want one. I'd want my ringtone to be the proper Children in Need anthem, though - we are the children, we are the meek. Jackpot.

Oh dear, another £2.5 million - was that thanks to Children in Need Rocks Manchester? This is gonna involve a lot of schnapps, in the not-so-distant future. Still, well done Gary Barlow!

And another emotional appeal from Gary Barlow himself, showing the valuable work done by Children in Need.

Now it's time for The Collective to perform Teardrop, the official Children in Need single for this year. It's a bit street for my tastes, but you never know, the kids might like it.
Teardrop (feat. Labrinth, Tulisa Contostavlos, Chipmunk, Dot Rotten, Ed Sheeran, Ms. Dynamite, Mz Bratt, Rizzle Kicks, Tinchy Stryder & Wretch 32) - EP - The Collective
It might just be me, but was Tulisa even audible for any of that? We could barely hear her speak at the end there...

Just ahead of the hour, it's totaliser time.

£15,274,911

That's a massive seven shots of schnapps here, so things might get a bit hazy after 10pm. Speaking of which, it's time to switch to BBC2.

10:00pm

...and we're on the other side. Lots of screaming... oh Christ, what? One Direction are back again? What did I do to deserve this? The useless scrotes... OK, schnapps time here.

In the meantime, if you're a One Direction fan, you can download Gotta Be You from iTunes.

This could be interesting - an extract from a documentary screened earlier this year. Could be tough to watch, as well. But that's the point.

10:13pm and Fearne Cotton's here, hurrah! I love you, Fearne Cotton. And I love your dress. In fact, all three frocks tonight have looked like that one Donna Air wore a few weeks ago and got slated for... a trend-setter once again, Donna.

And we're into a special Never Mind The Buzzcocks, which is chance for me to have the two more schnapps I need to keep up with that last total... this is a pretty sweet line-up though, Claire Richards, Shaun Williamson and... oh, Arlene Phillips and the drummer from McFly. Come on, Noel's team!

10:30pm

Alesha Dixon takes us into a new half-hour with the age-old tale of kids doing The Wrong Thing because there's nothing better to do. It's so easy to give them something else, something better - and it doesn't cost the world. Are your children safe tonight? What would you give to make sure of that?

Oh, it's the audience changeover, the moment when the tired early shift go home and the half-twatted latecomers show up.

Hello, Ed Sheeran. I'm not sure I like you, but I do love your song. Readers, if you like it too, you can download The A Team on iTunes.

Wait, hang on, this isn't The A Team. What's he singing? Oh, it's Lego House. I don't like this one as much as The A Team, but that's OK, it's not all about me.

10:39pm - Let the record show that BBC2 went off air before BBC One came back, leaving us in a Children in Need wasteland for a full minute!

So, here's JLS with their new single... no, wait, hang on, it's a rip-off of that classic Christmas song. Saints alive! Never mind, you can get it here. Oh, and it seems to be called Do You Feel What I Feel?, but I'm not so sure about that.

Dan reckons Hollyoaks can't sing. I think he might be right. And I wish they'd sung "Oak You", rather than "Forget You". But that's just me. If you're a fan of the original, get it here.

Almost 11pm, and Sir Terry Wogan's doing a little speech. I love you, Sir Terry Wogan.

Oh, it's Daniel Craig again, with Elliot's story. I'm not even sure how to spell his name. That seems strangely tragic in itself. Please donate if you can - 03457 33 22 33. For Elliot Wild.

11:00pm

Westlife take us into the new hour. Surely everyone out there already owns You Raise Me Up, on a compilation if not a Westlife album? (Or, heavens be blessed, the CD single??). If not, you can get it here.

Time for a total, and if my eyes don't deceive me, I do believe it's:

£19,555,068

So we'll be doing four more shots, while Vic and Bob do some street magic. This should be good... and there's that guy Dynamo, too. We're left wondering whether Vic Reeves might secretly be quite good at close-up magic. Nice one, Vic.

Jessie J with a hard-hitting story of young love turned into gang rape, basically. It's hard to dress that up as anything better - and, in fact, it wasn't anything better, it was as horrible as that sounds. Fearne asks, "do you feel angry? Frustrated? Helpless? Well you're not helpless..." Your donations can change this, give young people who have been hurt the help that they need and deserve. Donate now.

It's Olly Murs, with Rizzle Kicks. I didn't like Murs much, but y'know what? I've been watching The Xtra Factor, and he seems like a decent chap. So that's good. If you're a fan, Heart Skips A Beat is on iTunes here.

David Tennant with the story of Nathan, son of Keith (I think), who is living with Asperger's Syndrome. It's a disorder on the autism spectrum - and you know what? To me, it seems quite manageable. So chuck in a few donations, and let's make a difference. It doesn't have to be hopeless.

11:30pm

Hey, it's Steps! Their record-breaking linedance to 5,6,7,8 is still one of my all-time great Children in Need moments (and 5,6,7,8 was the first single I ever bought) so I won't pretend this isn't an awesome medley for me. Enjoy!

Hello, The Saturdays. You're all looking pretty good - and I don't usually think that. Blonde one, you look really stunning, but Frankie's still my favourite, I think.

Oo, a special Russell Howard's Good News? Oh, it's a clip show, but that's OK, I guess. I love this show, even clips I've seen before are still great!

Ah, a special mention for the clips of Sir Jimmy Savile. It feels like New Year's Eve, or the Baftas, when they show the montage of all the people who've died this year. I met Sir Jimmy once, when I was little. He was a true gentleman and I can clearly remember my conversation with him. He would want to support children across the country, for sure, so if you remember him fondly, give tonight in Sir Jimmy's name.

Dan's happy, Karen Gillan's finally turned up. We're agreed that childhood cancer AND being a Man Utd fan is a cruel double blow for any child. Seriously, 03457 33 22 33 to pledge what you can, and support work in Great Britain and over in Northern Ireland.

Nearing the midnight hour, and the cast of Crazy For You are here. Personally, I was hoping for a live performance from Let Loose, but that's OK. It seems a little harsh that the musical casts tend to get brought out so late in the night - but I suppose that's the way of the world.

12:00am

Eek, it's time for a grand total... prepare the schnapps...!

£22,207,844

Two more hours to go, and we're on 22 shots of schnapps here. Yikes.

Luckily we're into post-midnight repeats territory, it's Outnumbered and then Will's story, introduced by Gary Barlow. As hard-hitting as it was earlier in the night, but you don't need me to hold your hand through it - we've been here before, right?

And I'm welling up, not for the first time tonight, as Adele sings Make You Feel My Love. Get it here, if you're one of the few people left who don't already have it downloaded or on CD.

The briefest of appeals from Downton Abbey, and we're into a rerun of Children in Need Strictly Come Dancing. This is well and truly repeats territory, people - if you're still with us, you're truly committed to the cause!

12:24am, and it's finally time for Matt Cardle. I'm not judging - he had enough of that on The X Factor, and there's something truly admirable about the performers who wait up into the early hours to perform live. It's actually a decent song, even if I suspect it was written with half a mind towards using the instrumental version as The X Factor backing music...

Run for Your Life on iTunes.

And we move into a new half-hour with Tulisa, Matt Cardle and Jessie J's various tales of woe. It's a triple-whammy of tragedy, and a stark reminder of the importance of the work done by Children in Need.

12:30am

What the fuck? Is that Justin Lee Collins?? I've never wanted him more... or, wait, is it just a blonde chick from Rock of Ages? She looks pretty amazing, either way. This could be the best medley of the night so far.

And straight from that (was that Shayne Ward, too? I'm not really totally sure... it's been a long night) into a rerun of The Muppets' Mah Na Mah Na. Brilliant.

Sometimes when I see Lady Gaga singing a fairly stripped-back version of Edge of Glory, I have to wonder whether Stefani Germanotta would prefer for that to be her full-time persona. It's a fine song, and she sings it well. Add a million gimmicks into the mix though, and I'm not so sure.

If you like Edge of Glory - and I'm very much with you, if you do - you can get it here.

Another rerun, this time of the EastEnders Queen medley, and again it's linked straight with Jo Joyner's moving appeal. I mean, I know she's from EastEnders, but I find her particularly moving, not because of the character she plays, but because she's a real-life mum, and it's obvious how much she cares about other families. I hope her appeal isn't undermined by being linked with an EastEnders singalong every time.

1:00am

Into the final hour, still with us? Will Young's raced over from his Cambridge gig, what a hero. I suspect, from the lyrics, that he's singing Come On - if so, you can get it here.

And it's total time - Dan, you chose the right moment to go to bed, heaven only knows how many shots are about to be required.

£24,255,334

Two more shots. Only two?? Come on people, we can give more than that! One last big push for Children in Need. Come on.

And it's a rerun of Dragons' Den vs Alan Sugar - and a chance for me to send in a donation, I suspect.

Professor Green - and you know what, the more I hear this song, the more I like Emeli Sande. It's a pretty powerful song, even when it's not in the middle of a Children in Need appeal. Get it here.

Another rerun, this time of Gok Wan. I'm off to donate again...

OK, donated. Another rerun, this time the Children in Need choir singing Avril Lavigne's Keep Holding On. An epic effort, and if you want the original, you can get it here.

Coming up on 1:30am, and it's time for some highlights of Children in Need Rocks Manchester. But also, if you want to donate £5 via your phone bill, text DONATE to 70705. Y'know what? Even if you've donated already, just text it. Do it once. It probably won't break the bank for you, but it could change a life somewhere else.

1:30am

Harley. Your story is not easy to see or hear, by any means. But you're an inspiration to all of us. I raise a glass to you, my friend.

Oh shit. I'm definitely not emotionally equipped for One Day Like This right now, but Elbow, I'm glad to see you once again.

I'm both sad and relieved that they cut that song off halfway through - I would have been in floods of tears by the end, without a doubt. Can't see that happening with JLS, funnily enough...

At this point, I'd like to say, courtesy of Leigh Baird, that this is the best Children in Need ever, full of tears, love and laughter. I'd agree with that sentiment, no questions asked - well, the latter part at least. Is it the best Children in Need ever? I suppose that's measured purely by the amount raised, and that's well on track to break the records.

Wow, it's hard to believe we're approaching the last 15 minutes of the show. Almost all that's left is the inevitable montage of great moments from the night so far, and the final total. More than ever, I hope it's huge. I've seen Children in Need fail to break its previous record only once, and Sir Terry's "It's OK" speech was one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever seen or heard.

We're in the depths of a recession, as everyone knows - but to think that we might be able to give more than ever, even in these straitened times, would be an incredible notion. Please, please, please. Please? We'll find out soon enough.

And yet there's still time for a live performance, Caro Emerald with A Night Like This. She's good, too - these performances are why it's always, always worth staying up till the last moments of Children in Need. Love the song? You can get it here.

Sigh. It's the montage. Parts I'd forgotten. Parts I'm not yet ready to let go of. I can't tell you how much this night means to me each year. I can't give much, but I give what I can afford - and I know many of you do too. Every year, it's an unprecedented outpouring of generosity. Well done, all of you.

And we're coming up on the end of the night, so it must be time for the final total. Place your bets now on what it may have reached...

OK, here we go... the final total is:

£26,332,334

Sir Terry says these are tough times, and to come together to give more than ever - well, that's enough for anybody. Fearne mostly sticks to a simple "goodnight!" but, as the camera shot fades out at 2am, she turns and hugs Sir Terry, and I properly lose it for the first time tonight.

Truthfully, it's not that much more than the previous total, but it's still a record-breaker. And that brief glimpse of Sir Terry and Fearne embracing sums up how much it means to the people who give up their time for free. Some of you will never really care about Children in Need, and that's OK. But some of you feel every year's total, feel it like a new benchmark in your life, a measure of whether the world's headed in the right direction or not.

I love Children in Need. I love the principle of it more than the good work that it does. I love Sir Terry Wogan, I always loved Gaby Roslin, and I've learned to love Fearne Cotton and Tess Daly - and, this year, Alesha Dixon.

I love that it's 2:08am before we join the BBC News channel, because, presumedly, Children in Need overran. And it should overrun, shouldn't it? Heaven forbid the year Children in Need is cut off early in order to switch to the 24-hour news...

So yes, it's the end of the night. If you stuck it out to the end, well done. If you joined us during this live blog, thank you. And if you donated - you have changed the world. You may never know exactly how, but you have had an indelible positive impact on a child's life, and for that you should be very proud.

Goodnight, you excellent, excellent British people.

Lambchop - If Not I'll Just Die

Free Music Friday comes to a somewhat melancholy close with If Not I'll Just Die, from the upcoming Lambchop album Mr M.

The album's out on February 20th 2012, but you can hear the opening track below and download it for free, too. It's a rather sad tale - Kurt Wagner, singer-songwriter-guitarist, lost good friend Vic Chesnutt at Christmas in 2009, and turned his back on music for a while to cope with his grief. The result of his alternative artistic endeavours during that time is a series of artworks that accompany the tracks on Mr M.

In If Not I'll Just Die, Wagner has created what SoundCloud lists as 'alt country', but what I would say is a bluesy jazz number. It's atmospheric and filled with character, and Wagner's vocals suit the style perfectly. This is music at its best - music to make you feel, even if you didn't intend to. For me, February can't come fast enough.



You can grab If Not I'll Just Die for yourself at the City Slang SoundCloud page - please do, it's a beautiful composition.

Laura Gibson - La Grande

Laura Gibson's La Grande, the title track from her upcoming album (out on January 9th 2012) has earned the rare distinction of maturing from a free download to a fully fledged single release in its own right. La Grande (the single, not the album) is out on December 5th, but you lucky lucky things can already preview it thanks to the SoundCloud player below.



Can't wait till December 5th? Head to the City Slang SoundCloud page and you can grab a free download of La Grande now.

What should you expect? Bizarrely, the intro sounds like a cross between Phil Collins' You Can't Hurry Love and Thomas Tantrum's Tick Tock, which is pretty awesome in itself.

The joy of SoundCloud, too, is that you can see where things are gonna get really interesting - in this case, around the 2:15 mark. That pinched-looking bit of sound wave throws the song into a moment of suspense before normal service is resumed - and helps to set things up for a sustained, echoing ending.

As always, we'll keep an eye out for the album - if it's more of the same, La Grande (the album, not the single) is likely to find approval with more than a handful of fans.

She & Him - Christmas Day

A look ahead to December, and the release of She & Him's single Christmas Day. It's due out on December 19th, but it's also on the album A Very She & Him Christmas, which goes on sale in the UK on November 28th.



Christmas Day is a typically She & Him composition - 'old-fashioned' in the best possible of ways, and very much family-friendly. As usual, Zooey Deschanel shines on vocals, and further cements her place as the voice of Christmas present.
It's also a chance to use the rather festive image above, which we've been hanging on to since mid-September (well, we didn't want to start on the Christmas posts too early...). Look out for more about She & Him as the album goes on general release later this month... Christmas Day - A Very She & Him Christmas

Mariachi El Bronx - Only The Lonely

You've got to love a bit of mariachi music, haven't you? Mariachi El Bronx may not actually be Mexican - they're a side-project of LA's punk performers The Bronx - but their version of Roy Orbison's Only The Lonely captures the south-of-the-border spirit perfectly while somehow remaining fairly faithful to the original.




If you're willing to hand over your email address, you can grab the track as a free download right now using the sign-up form above - and you can catch Mariachi El Bronx on tour on the following dates:

NOVEMBER
18th Dublin The Workman's Club
19th Belfast The Stiff Kitten
20th Edinburgh Liquid Rooms
21st Newcastle The Cluny
22nd Nottingham Bodega
23rd Manchester Sound Control
24th Leeds Cockpit 2
25th Sheffield Leadmill
26th Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
27th Cardiff The Globe
28th Norwich Waterfront
29th Brighton Concorde 2

DECEMBER
17th London Kings College
18th Wolverhampton Slade Rooms

All The Saints - Half Red, Half Way

The new All The Saints album, Intro to Fractions, is due out on January 30th 2012, but you can get a sneak preview - and a free download - right here, with the album opener Half Red, Half Way.



And head to the Souterrain Transmissions SoundCloud page to download Half Red, Half Way for free.

It's a moody and atmospheric composition, and hints at a grunge-filled album to come in the new year. And while this is just one track, it's an unpredictable one right through to the dying moments, which makes for enjoyable (if noisy) listening.

We'll be keeping a watchful eye on this one, so look out for the full album review in January - and more track previews if we can get our hands on them!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Eleanor Friedberger - Last Summer

Eleanor Friedberger's Last Summer saw its official release on Monday, so it's high time we gave our thoughts on the vocalist's debut solo album. I'm new to Friedberger's music; my first thought on hitting 'play' is that opener My Mistakes is much faster paced than I expected. And perhaps faster paced than its title suggests, too - this is no mundane introspective, but a more optimistic composition that would not be out of place in an indie movie, perhaps accompanying the montage that leads to the protagonist's moment of revelation and the film's grand finale.

Here, though, it is just the first of ten tracks that demonstrate why Friedberger is well deserving of an album bearing her name. Her vocals have a richness that, at times, nears that most distinctive of voices, Annie Lennox; her delivery is at times measured, at others perfectly hurried. Throughout Last Summer, she acts as an additional instrument, helping to form the musical motifs without simply singing to a tune that's already there.
Last Summer - Eleanor Friedberger

Friday, 11 November 2011

Cloud Nothings - No Future/No Past

No Future/No Past is the first proper glimpse at Attack on Memory, the Cloud Nothings album due for release on February 6th 2012.

It's an ominous snarl of a song, with more of a backing clash than a backing track, and is just the thing for working through the anger of a bad mood.

Preview No Future/No Past below, then head over to the Wichita Recordings SoundCloud page to get your own copy for free.


Living up to the Free Music Fridays billing in true and proper form, you can currently download No Future/No Past for free via SoundCloud - get over there, and get your free music track today!

Hyde & Beast - You Will Be Lonely

Hyde & Beast's You Will Be Lonely is out as a single on Monday - you may have heard it since mid-August, when their album Slow Down was released.

We've got streams of the track and the video below, so take the chance to acquaint yourself with You Will Be Lonely now if you haven't done so before.


You Will Be Lonely is a typically energetic example of Hyde & Beast's musical style, with strong instrumental and vocal motifs that will have your foot tapping and your lips singing along before your first listen-through is over.


Thanks to the miracles of mp3 downloads, you can already get the album version of You Will Be Lonely in the iTunes store - and look out for the single package from Monday, too.

You Will Be Lonely - Slow Down (Bonus Track Version)

Monday, 7 November 2011

The Sound of Arrows - Voyage

If you've heard any of the previous tracks from The Sound of Arrows that we've featured on Popsiculture, you'll probably be well aware that they have a fairly specific sound. Not everybody will like them - I realise that - but those who do, I'd imagine, will probably really really love the combination of typically Swedish vocals and space-age electronic instrumentals.

Some songs on Voyage, the new album, would make great dancefloor fillers - and some even sound like boy-band album tracks, to be totally honest - but others are soaring, sound-rich compositions that create a whole new world centred on your eardrums.

Voyage (Bonus Track Version) - The Sound of Arrows

Monday, 31 October 2011

Moon Duo - Horror Tour EP

Horror Tour is the new EP from Moon Duo, who you may have seen mentioned on Popsiculture before.

It's a four-track sparkler of a composition, perfectly timed to coincide with Halloween - and it lives up to that billing well, with haunting sustained instrumentals and minor chords aplenty.

However, that doesn't mean this is purely background music for haunted houses - it's also a surprisingly mellow, laid-back EP of chillout tunes. If you've got a dark winter commute and need to pass the time, stick these songs in your ears and you'll soon be home.

Horror Tour - EP - Moon Duo

Monday, 24 October 2011

The Coathangers - Hurricane/Johnny Flexidisc

One from our friends over at X-Ray Recordings today, the double A-side Flexidisc single from The Coathangers, featuring Hurricane and Johnny.

This is very much for those of you who like your music to come in a physical format. The transparent disc is hand-numbered and limited edition, so you own something truly unique - a far cry from digital downloads that can be reproduced almost at will.


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Neon Indian - Era Extrana

Neon Indian's new album is actually called Era Extraña, but in case the accented n causes you any web browser issues, we're going to call it Era Extrana. OK? OK, it's a deal.

Now that's out of the way, we can worry about the music. Only, with Era Extrana, there's not much to worry about. It has all the hallmarks of that music designed to send your brain into an alpha-wave rhythm.

If you've never heard of that, it's music you're supposed to listen to on headphones, that directly influences your thought patterns, putting you into a dreamlike state, or a heightened creative state.

Era Extrana has a similarly mellowing-out effect, but without needing the headphones. In fact, I'd say it deserves to be played aloud, to appreciate the nuances of the chilled vocals and electronically charged instrumentals.

Era Extraña - Neon Indian

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

We'll steer clear of a lengthy eulogy, but without Steve Jobs, much of this site would be far less interactive than it is.

The iTunes charts to the right would simply not exist without Apple's digital music downloads store.

Our text and image links to albums on iTunes - a common feature of our reviews - would be impossible too, leaving all of our readers facing the journey to their local record shop (like when I was growing up...) to get the latest releases.

As for you lot - your entire record collections fit in your pockets. And half of you have probably never held a vinyl record, anyway.

While many of today's tributes focus on the iPhone and iPad, let's remember, in our little music-centric corner of the internet, that Steve Jobs' legacy will live on in every iPod dock and digital download, from now until - at the very least - the Next Big Thing in the evolution of digital music comes along.

RIP Steve Jobs.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The X Factor 2011 - The Final 16

The X Factor judges have made their decisions, the contestants have mixed things up a bit by choosing to drop out, revealing past criminal convictions and generally adding to the pantomime that is The X Factor, but finally it seems 16 acts have been chosen to go through to the live shows.

So, did your favourite make it through? And who do you think is in with the best chance of taking the title this year?

The Favourites

The girls stand out as a particularly strong category, as usual. Any time there's debate over whether the right people went through, it means some talent got left behind - and this year, that talent is in the form of Jade Richards.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Zola Jesus - Conatus

Conatus is the new album from Zola Jesus, out at the end of September and already finding new fans for the unique vocalist.

Second single Seekir is due for release on October 3rd on Souterrain Transmissions - you can preview it below, or read on for our full take on Conatus.



Conatus (Deluxe Edition) - Zola Jesus

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Blitzen Trapper - Love The Way You Walk Away (Video)

You may already have seen Love The Way You Walk Away mentioned on Popsiculture - we previewed it back in mid-August with a SoundCloud stream, but with the single now on general release, you can take a look at the video below.


Love The Way You Walk Away is from Blitzen Trapper's new album American Goldwing, also released earlier this month and reviewed by us here.

We made Love The Way You Walk Away one of our high points for the album - and gave American Goldwing an impressive 90% - so it's definitely worth hitting the 'play' button if you haven't already.

You're in for a treat with the kind of pure-American music you might expect to hear at the movies - and if you want more, click the iTunes button below to head over to the album's iTunes page - complete with bonus tracks.

American Goldwing (Bonus Track Version) - Blitzen Trapper

Monday, 26 September 2011

Waters - Out in the Light

Ramp up the energy levels with For The One, the rocktastic opening track to Waters' new album Out in the Light, released last week.

It's not all noise and bass - Out in the Light takes the listener on a journey from the more mass-market single-release candidates at its beginning, to the truly unique, mellow and introspective tracks that follow.

While there is no lack of energy at any point, and nothing feels like filler, this album is an unfolding work, like a photograph that comes into sharper focus the longer you look at it.

Spend a bit of time in the company of Waters and choose your own favourite tracks - you'll be humming them to yourself for days to come, I suspect.

Out In the Light (Bonus Track Version) - WATERS

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, out November 11th

Currently in development by Bethesda Softworks, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim promises to plunge the player into a breathtaking fantasy world populated with armed enemies and fire-breathing dragons.

Granted, these games always promise lavish graphics and elegant gameplay, but Skyrim really looks to be raising the bar and is earning its fans well ahead of its scheduled November 11th release date.

Moments of genius from the design team at Bethesda include the ability to look to the sky and see your character's abilities plotted out as stars in constellations, the heavens literally reordered as your game progresses and you learn new skills.

It's also nice to see two-handedness as a feature, with some spells able to be enhanced by equipping them to both hands of your character and firing both controller triggers together.


As the video above explains, the distant scenery is not just a background image - you can walk to it and, in the case of mountains, climb them.

This makes for seamless gameplay and is given a further boost by close-up details such as drifting snow at high altitudes, not to mention the in-game map - reached simply by zooming out until you can see the entire Skyrim world.


Bethesda's second preview clip shows more of the gameplay of Skyrim, and while it looks pretty impressive, I'm not fully convinced as yet.

A lot of the time it appears as though the character is on a fairly restricted path - a trail down a mountainside in the first clip, passageways through dungeons in the second. I'd like to see a less linear approach, both in terms of movement and story progression.


However, it's good to see some traditional elements in place - the combination of weapon-based combat and spell-casting, treasure chests that line the dungeon routes, and logic puzzles to solve in order to progress.

These are only sneak previews, but I suspect the highly detailed graphics of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim could overshadow the game itself. Come November 11th, we'll all be able to tell for sure.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Blitzen Trapper - American Goldwing

I'm a man of my word, so today I donned my trusty Peter Grimm Drifter hat to get into the cowboy spirit ahead of reviewing American Goldwing, the new album from Blitzen Trapper, due out on September 19th.

Viewers of The X Factor this weekend will have seen Louis Walsh bemoaning the lack of a good country singer in the UK - and the fact that the preceding performance was more like Cher Lloyd singing Dolly Parton than back-to-roots bluegrass might have something to do with that fact.

With American Goldwing, however, you have authentic banjo-and-harmonica music the way only an American group can do it. The Portland five-piece named their album, as far as I can tell, after a model of Honda motorcycle - and this is very much road music that urges the listener to get out there and see the world.

American Goldwing (Bonus Track Version) - Blitzen Trapper

Monday, 5 September 2011

The X Factor Dramatic Music

Last year, we trawled through our CD collections, online forums and classical music archives to check exactly which tracks were used in The X Factor's dramatic background music. We know you care, because we see a steady stream of searches coming in from people hunting down their favourite track.

However, there are a few tunes that are used again and again on the show - so although this year's auditions are only just underway, we've put together a playlist of the usual suspects below.


Preview the tracks on iTunes if you're not sure which is which - did we cover all of them?

If we've missed your favourite piece of dramatic music from The X Factor, leave a comment below to tell us where you heard it on the show, and we'll do our best to reply with any we may have missed.

The Drums - Portamento

The Drums' Portamento adds to a growing amount of guitar-focused, ambient music making it to general release this year. It's been a genuinely great year of music - both the mainstream pop and the alternative and independent releases. With Portamento, The Drums have created a collection that brings that fact into soft-focus, a sentimental bundle of notes and vocals that brings to mind nights spent in a low-ceilinged bar where the lager's sold in cans, rather than pint glasses.

This is music for people who like to see it performed live - where the interaction with the band is as important as the thought that's gone into the lyrics or the originality of the composition. Luckily, the recorded versions retain enough of that interior echo to carry some of that seeing-it-live feeling over into digital form. It's not quite the same, admittedly, but it's a damn good effort.

Portamento (Deluxe Version) - The Drums

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Ganglians - Still Living

The PR cycle that began in early May reached its zenith this bank holiday weekend with the release (finally!) of Still Living, the new album from Ganglians.

This hour-long collection of a dozen tracks average a shade under 4:40 in length each, making it good value for money on duration alone. But the purposely strained, mellow-yet-dramatic ensemble of music has more to offer than simply filling the time it takes to listen.

Evocative and distinctive, yet laced with influences that can be traced back through the decades, Still Living is described by Ganglians' Ryan Grubbs as "outsider music, but with a pop sensibility that brings everyone in". It is this collision of the niche and the mainstream that makes the collection particularly compelling.

Still Living - Ganglians

Monday, 22 August 2011

Dave Depper - The Ram Project

Dave Depper's latest production, The Ram Project, is the kind of concept many musicians would love to get their heads around. In fact, it's likely that quite a few have done so already, but their efforts never saw the light of day.

The album is Depper's own re-record of Paul McCartney's 1971 album Ram, credited to the ex-Beatle and his partner Linda McCartney. It marked part of the bridging period between McCartney's time in The Beatles and the formation of Wings.

Ram was originally released in both stereo and, unusually for a 1970s album, in a mono version as well. Depper's version pays its own homage to that school of thinking, as The Ram Project - while not lacking in production quality - has decidedly lo-fi elements and is likely to please fans of treble more than lovers of bass.

The Ram Project - Dave Depper

Monday, 15 August 2011

Hyde & Beast - Slow Down

Hyde & Beast's album Slow Down is out today, and it's well worth a listen if you haven't heard it yet.

This is a hands-on project for The Futureheads' Dave Hyde and Neil Bassett, ex-drummer with the Golden Virgins. Aside from the fact that these are eleven tracks of very personalised music, Slow Down is also out on the pair's own label, Tail Feather Records. The duo take production and writing credits on all but one of the songs - the exception is track 7, (And the) Pictures In The Sky.

It's also a very cohesive selection of songs, with its own strong identity, rather than the random array of styles that sometimes accompanies this kind of side-project when undertaken on a whim.

Slow Down (Bonus Track Version) - Hyde & Beast

Friday, 12 August 2011

Blitzen Trapper - Love The Way You Walk Away

Popsiculture's Free Music Fridays continues with this peek ahead at Blitzen Trapper's upcoming album American Goldwing.

Love The Way You Walk Away is available now as a free download - just click the icon at the right of the SoundCloud player below.



Alternatively, of course, you can just stream the track until the album is released, and then buy the whole thing in one go. It's your call.

Ganglians - Drop The Act, out August 22nd

Get your Friday afternoon off to a start with the first of our Free Music Fridays tracks, Drop The Act, due out on August 22nd by Ganglians, but available to listen to here and now.



You can stream the track using the player above, or head over to the Souterrain Transmissions SoundCloud page for more information.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Cher Lloyd - Swagger Jagger

Whether you blame it on hype or raw talent, the nation awoke this morning to its first week of having Cher Lloyd's Swagger Jagger at number one in the official singles chart. It's a curious event, as she never seemed to get to the top spot on iTunes over the course of last week, suggesting physical CD sales might yet play a part in deciding how the finished chart evolves.

Either way, it's a result that's likely to fuel the fire in fans' hearts, while annoying Cher's haters to fever pitch. I was (and still am) a Katie Waissel fan, rather than a 'brat', but many of the Warriors on Twitter seem to support both - and there's nothing really wrong with that, is there?

It would be fairly pointless to review a song that's been everywhere for the past few weeks in the usual way, so the below takes a bit of a departure from our normal format.
Swagger Jagger - EP - Cher Lloyd

Sunday, 7 August 2011

The Sound of Arrows - The Making of 'Magic'

If, like us, you saw and loved the video for The Sound of Arrows' latest release Magic, now you can learn a little about how it was made.

But don't worry that this will ruin the magic of the video itself - the mystical landscapes and creatures that appear towards the end of the song remain open to interpretation.

Instead, you can learn the original concept behind the video, and the way it was structured, as well as some more about its child stars.

Click play below to head into the imaginative world of The Sound of Arrows.


Magic - Single - The Sound of Arrows

Meanwhile, you can now grab Tom Staar's remix of Magic for free over at SoundCloud - it's got a bit more of a dance beat to it, but the wide-eyed wonder of the original track is somehow preserved. An excellent effort all round.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Joss Stone - LP1

LP1 is Joss Stone's fifth album and brings together her distinctive 'soul singer' voice with some twangtastic American-style guitar. I'd say it's more blues than soul, but then I've never been great with my genres.

You should know that I quite like Joss Stone. It seems like everybody either likes or despises her, and I'm definitely not in the latter category. Sure, her Americana speaking voice is a bit weird and she's a bit of a Mariah-Careyesque warbler, but she's actually not too self-indulgent about it.

Joss's vocal performance is typically a powerhouse, and even at what might easily be full throttle, you get the feeling she's holding something back in case the song needs to go to the next level. LP1 is no exception - it's a long time since I've seen a Joss Stone single hit the shelves, but any one track from this album could stand its own as an independent release.

LP1 - Joss Stone

Friday, 29 July 2011

Torchwood - Miracle Day

Torchwood is back for a ten-part series, Torchwood - Miracle Day, produced in collaboration with US broadcasters and with the big budget you might expect as a result of that fact.

John Barrowman returns as Captain Jack Harkness, while Eve Myles is Gwen Taylor, the pair having spent the time since the end of the previous series getting over the deaths of their colleagues and now reunited, ironically, by an apparent global inability to die.

American co-stars add to the line-up, including Independence Day's Bill Pullman in what, three episodes in, seems to be significantly more than a walk-on cameo. However, we're yet to discover the role that his character, Oswald Danes, might play in the shake-out of the Miracle Day story arc.

iTunes

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Hyde & Beast - Never Come Back

Hyde & Beast is a side project of David Hyde, one quarter of post-punk geniuses The Futureheads, with Neil Basset formerly of fellow Sunderland group Golden Virgins. Both drummers by trade, they have combined to make music they describe as a "sprawling, gentle psychedelic mess". It's hard to argue with any part of that description, so let me just add that the result is charming, warm and stupidly easy to listen to.

Never Come Back is Hyde & Beast's debut single to be taken from their forthcoming album, appropriately titled Slow Down, and should be enough to make you fall a little bit in love with the diminutive Hyde (or the hirsute Beast, depending on preference).


There are elements of Futurehead-esque vocal harmonies, but the main touchstones here are from classic 60s American rock groups, think The Band, or the Allman Brothers and you won't be too far off.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Rebecca Black - My Moment

Oh yes, it's here - the wait is over! Rebecca Black's new video (and song) My Moment has just hit the world and, at the time of writing, has had 300 views on YouTube. I'm guessing it'll be more like 300,000 by the time you read this.

As you might expect, it's a squeaky-clean and upbeat affair - and starkly defiant to all the naysayers from the Friday days. Rebecca Black's going to have to work hard to really progress from that song, but My Moment makes a good effort of it.

Check it out below - it sounds like a talent show winner's song, which in itself makes it something of a fresh start. And the best part is, it's good for any day of the week - not just Friday.


More from Rebecca Black on Rebecca Black.

Jennie Sawdon at The Sanctuary, Manchester, July 17th 2011

The Sanctuary's live music night has firmly claimed its place on the calendar of cultural events taking place in Didsbury week by week, which is testament to the commitment of its organiser Sara Dowling and some very talented musicians who provide the entertainment itself.

At Popsiculture, we've become firm supporters of the wonderful Jennifer Sawdon, a wedding singer turned recording artist who recently took the brave step of going it alone and self-producing her debut album.

So we couldn't say no to a return to The Sanctuary yesterday evening as Jennie once more took to the stage to perform her own songs and a couple of well-known favourites.