Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Dec 25th: Official DJ NTP - Christmas Mega Mix 2012

We always try and bring you something a little special on Christmas Day, and this year is no different.

For today, it's the utter lunacy of Official DJ NTP's Christmas Mega Mix 2012, 14 minutes of agony for music-lovers everywhere.

To be fair, I don't think even Official DJ NTP thinks this is particularly good - but it doesn't matter BECAUSE IT'S CHRISTMAS.

It put a smile on my face, it's festive, and it's undeniably an epic creation. For all of those reasons, here's Merry Christmas to you all. Enjoy!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Dec 24th: Cascada - Last Christmas

First of all, an admission - I don't really like Last Christmas (yeah yeah, I know, bah humbug and all that).

But I do like Cascada. Probably because she's pretty, but also just because she seems fun, and I always want to give her a massive hug.

Cascada's version of Last Christmas might not be revolutionary, but it's a perfectly acceptable way to pass four minutes - especially if, like me, you don't like the original version.

It's also kinda nice to see that this is still the go-to song for generic Christmas dance covers, almost 20 years after Whigfield murdered it to death (but weirdly, I still love Whigfield too. Must be the nostalgia...).

Cascada's version is actually from an entire album full of Cascada Christmas songs - praise the lord!

You can download It's Christmas Time via the iTunes button below.

It's Christmas Time - Cascada

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Sunday, 23 December 2012

Dec 23rd: Dominic Balli - Christmas in Cali

Dominic Balli's transatlantic Christmas track, Christmas in Cali, gives another American view of the festive season from a state where the sun seems to shine all year round.

It's great to hear a reggae track that still manages to incorporate all of the necessities of a Christmas song - including a crazy-trumpets Jingle Bells moment and, unless my ears mistake me, sleigh bells.

I give it about 12 months before we see an Olly Murs cover of this song vying for Christmas chart position.

Christmas in Cali - EP - Dominic Balli

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Saturday, 22 December 2012

Dec 22nd: Midwest Skies! - This Christmas

An antidote to the schmultzy (yeah, I used that word again) snow-and-Santa Christmas music that you're all probably sick of by now, Midwest Skies!' This Christmas is downbeat in its lyrics, but upbeat in its energy.

It's always good to hear a brand new Christmas song, as opposed to another cover of an old classic - and This Christmas is definitely something new.

Rock guitars don't detract from the fact that this is well and truly a Christmas song though - and the chimes make that clear from the very start.

And of course, any video in which the band are happy to poke fun at themselves is a good thing, so it's great to see that Midwest Skies! don't take themselves too seriously.

More from Midwest Skies! on iTunes via the button below.

Midwest Skies!

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Friday, 21 December 2012

Dec 21st: CeeLo Green - What Christmas Means To Me

A good old-fashioned bit of fun (and good music, too) from CeeLo Green today, from his new album CeeLo's Magic Moment.

What Christmas Means To Me is unashamedly upbeat and as festive as kisses under the mistletoe, and CeeLo's voice suits the song perfectly.

This is just one of the tracks from CeeLo's Magic Moment, an album that includes duets with Christina Aguilera, Rod Stewart and The Muppets.

Click below to see the full track listing on iTunes.

CeeLo's Magic Moment - Cee Lo Green

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Thursday, 20 December 2012

Dec 20th: Tracey Thorn - Joy

Today's advent calendar post is a moving track from Tracey Thorn's album Tinsel and Lights.

The album was released on November 12th in the UK, but if you haven't spotted it yet, there's still time to add these emotionally charged tracks to your festive playlist, and make it a sentimental Christmas this year.

Joy is one of the original tracks on an album that largely consists of cover versions, and it's one of the true highlights of Tinsel and Lights.

Stream the video above, and get a sneaky peek behind the scenes with the clip below.

It's been a good couple of years for Christmas music - a real return to traditional arrangements of sentimental songs.

Buy Tinsel and Lights from iTunes via the button below.

Tinsel and Lights - Tracey Thorn

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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Dec 19th: Fimber Bravo - Life After Doomsday

OK, who asked Santa for an eight-minute atmospheric epic with steel drums? It's just arrived.

Actually today's advent calendar post, Fimber Bravo's Life After Doomsday, was first released in November, but it makes a great preview ahead of the January release of his debut album Con-Fusion.

It sounds a little like the soundtrack to a blaxploitation remake of 28 Days Later, but that's fine by me.

Steel drums are much underused in modern music, and while the full eight minutes of this track might seem a little longer than it needs to be, personally I love it.

Life After Doomsday - Single - Fimber Bravo

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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dec 18th: Teleman - Cristina

Today's advent calendar post is Cristina, the new single from Teleman, which is due for official release on January 14th 2013.

It's good to hear synth used the way it should be, and not just as a lazy replacement for a piano - and I'm a big fan of the understated nature of this whole track, from the one-note intro to the slow fade at the end.

Cristina is taken from Teleman's debut 7" single release, with In Your Fur as its more upbeat and energetic B-side.

Find Teleman on iTunes:


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Monday, 17 December 2012

Dec 17th: Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler - Zombie Christmas

If it weren't for our friends at Harriet & Dee, this one might have passed me by completely - but luckily, when you spend literally hours browsing round their Aladdin's Cave of delights trying to find the perfect Christmas gift, you get to hear quite a bit of their 'alternative' Christmas playlist, too.

Zombie Christmas is from Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler's album This is Christmas - it's out today and well worth a listen, as is the album as a whole.

It's a refreshing alternative to the usual schmultzy (yes I did just use that word) festive fayre that has us all feeling suicidally happy by the time Christmas Eve arrives.

This is not a song that pretends no bad things happen at Christmas - it's just that, in this case, the 'bad thing' that happens is the Zombie Apocalypse.

But hey, zombies are people too.

Thanks again to Harriet & Dee for the hat-tip on this one - you can follow them on Twitter at @HarrietAndDee.

Buy This is Christmas by clicking the iTunes button below.

This Is Christmas - Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler

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Sunday, 16 December 2012

Dec 16th: Junip - Junip

Today's advent calendar post is something of a tease, but if I was excited by it, then somebody else out there probably will be too - and that alone makes it worth posting!

It's an oh-so-brief preview of Junip's second album, Junip, due out on April 22nd 2013.

The self-titled sophomore release from the Swedish band follows up on the hugely successful Fields, released in 2010.

If Junip sound familiar, even though you've never heard of them, it's probably due to singer Jose Gonzalez.

His cover of The Knife's Heartbeats was used, famously, on the Sony Bravia 'bouncy balls' ad - one that's worth watching again, which is why we've included it below.

It's hard to shake off the fame of something like that, but Gonzalez' original work - and Junip's as a whole - seems plenty worthy of finding an audience of its own.

Look out for more as the April release date approaches on this one.

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Saturday, 15 December 2012

Dec 15th: WHY? - The Water You Walk

WHY? have unveiled The Water You Walk, a "loosely Xmas-themed" track that's the B-side to new single Waterlines, out on December 17th.

It's been a big year for WHY?, who made the journey from their Cincinnati roots to the UK once again for a tour that incorporated their biggest-ever London venue, the Electric Ballroom.

The Water You Walk is a musical amalgam, beginning with a brief burst of jazzy keys which quickly give way for the song proper to begin.

From there, you've got a distinctive blend of verses and mellow choruses to coax you through to the end of the song.

The Water You Walk is a grower, like so many songs, but by the end of my first listen, I just wanted to hit 'play' again for a rerun.

Find more from WHY? on iTunes by clicking the button below.


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Friday, 14 December 2012

Dec 14th: Kim Wilde - Kids in America, Rocking Around the Christmas Tree

If you're a child of the 80s like me, the prospect of Kim Wilde doing anything is pretty exciting - and a drunk Kim Wilde singing a couple of her most famous hits on the London Underground is about as good as it gets.

Here, Kim sings Kids in America, followed by Rocking Around the Christmas Tree, and while she may have had a few drinks, her Christmas message at the end of Katherine Eames' YouTube video (see below) has some wise words for us all.

As Kim points out, she's mostly being ignored by the people sitting around her, who have their heads buried in their phones.

But Ms Eames was among those who recognised the former singing superstar, now a radio host, and joined in with her singalong.

The video, and the response it has received on social networks and across the web as a whole, pretty much sum up the spirit of Christmas - making it a worthy addition to our advent calendar posts this year.

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Thursday, 13 December 2012

Dec 13th: Eugene McGuinness - Cinema Paradiso

More from Eugene McGuinness today, and if you liked Sugarplum (see Dec 2nd's advent calendar post) there's a pretty good chance you'll like its B-side, Cinema Paradiso.

It's good to see B-sides surviving in the digital age - and not just surviving, but still pushing musical boundaries.

Cinema Paradiso is much more hectic than the relatively sedate Sugarplum, and from the first handclaps and smack drumbeat, you know what you're in for.

But the story's strong, the vocals don't become swamped by the music at any point and, like Sugarplum, there are lyrical hooks to keep your interest right through until the end.

I had my doubts about Sugarplum - although I'll admit I find myself humming it fairly regularly - but Cinema Paradiso is pretty good on the first listen, and grows on you more as time goes by.

Together, they make a pretty good pair - as any good A-side and B-side should - and I'm looking forward to hearing more from Eugene McGuinness in 2013.

Sugarplum - Single - Eugene McGuinness

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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Dec 12th: Ducktails - Letter of Intent

Ducktails are new to me, I must admit - but if Letter of Intent is anything to judge by, I'll be getting my hands on a copy of new album The Flower Lane as soon as possible.

Look out for a full review in the next few weeks if I can track this one down. Until then, today's advent calendar post is upcoming single Letter of Intent, due out the same day as the album on January 28th 2013.

It's almost 80s-sounding, but there's still something decidedly modern about it, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear Letter of Intent floating across some of the nation's trendier dancefloors in the next few weeks and months.

You can buy Letter of Intent on iTunes now - just click the button below to make it an early Christmas present to yourself.

Letter of Intent - Single - Ducktails

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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Dec 11th: Alexis Taylor - Nayim From The Halfway Line

Possibly the strangest promotional video we've ever seen for an EP is today's advent calendar entry from Alexis Taylor.

A 'surprise' EP, Nayim From The Halfway Line, was announced earlier this month, and is due to be available digitally from December 17th.

Its title pays tribute to a 1995 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup wonder-goal by Spanish footballer Nayim, who scored for Real Zaragosa in the last minute of extra time to beat Arsenal 2-1.

Arsenal fans, you may want to look away from your screens while playing the video.

Nayim From The Halfway Line is already out on vinyl, with a four-track listing:

Rhodes Dream
You Want Me
Hot Squash
Jesus' Birthday

Its digital release date, as mentioned above, is December 17th 2012.

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Monday, 10 December 2012

Dec 10th: Melody's Echo Chamber

We didn't get chance to do a proper review of Melody's Echo Chamber's debut album last month, so today's advent calendar post aims to put that right with a sneak preview of a couple of the tracks.

First up is the charmingly ambient You Won't Be Missing That Part Of Me, a song that sounds very simple at first listen, but which is deceptively complex in its internal structure.

Second we have I Follow You, published to YouTube earlier this year and already popular with many fans of female-led vocal-centric music.

And if you want to hear more from Melody's Echo Chamber, and singer-songwriter Melody Prochet, you can still get the album on iTunes.

Melody's Echo Chamber - Melody's Echo Chamber

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Sunday, 9 December 2012

Dec 9th: Alarm Bells - Cocoons

Don't mourn the passing of the awesomely named Dananananaykroyd - celebrate their new incarnation as Alarm Bells.

OK, the name might not be so good, but that's not really the important part, cos it's all about the music, right?

Today's advent calendar entry is new track Cocoons, the lead track from Alarm Bells' debut EP Part One.

Cocoons is the kind of song that will help you wake up in the morning, even if you forgot to have a cup of coffee - and will annoy all hell out of the rest of the passengers on your morning commute, if you forgot your headphones.

As for the video, well that strikes me as a cross between American Psycho and the computer graphics used in the 1980s children's TV show Knightmare. Big tick in the 'approve' box from me on both counts.

You can pre-order Part One now via the Bandcamp widget below, for delivery on December 20th.

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Saturday, 8 December 2012

Dec 8th: Pulled Apart By Horses - Epic Myth

If you're having a lazy lie-in this morning, your peace is about to be shattered by Epic Myth, the last single from Pulled Apart By Horses' album Tough Love.

The video comes ahead of the release of a deluxe edition of Tough Love on Monday, and it's a proper story of hard rock.

Guitarist James Brown explains: "The video idea for Epic Myth seemed a great way to celebrate Tough Love and the final single from it - even if we all did have the worst collective hangover ever after! Happy Christmas everyone!"

Get more from Pulled Apart By Horses via the iTunes link below - and look out for the deluxe edition of Tough Love from Monday December 10th.

Pulled Apart By Horses

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Friday, 7 December 2012

Dec 7th: Ultan Sherry - Let The Snowflakes Fall

Today's Advent Calendar post is a good one - Ultan Sherry's instant classic Let The Snowflakes Fall.

Ultan has Asperger's Syndrome, a condition on the autism spectrum that can make it difficult for some people to express themselves in the usual ways.

However, in Ultan's case, there seem to be no such difficulties, as the second video below reveals.

The media studies student at NUI Maynooth is pursuing his dream of releasing a Christmas number one, and has caught the public's collective conscience with Let The Snowflakes Fall.

Now, let's be clear - we're not saying this is the greatest song of all time. But most good Christmas songs are a bit cheesy, right?

Let The Snowflakes Fall has more than a little in common with some of the more recent Christmas songs that the nation has taken to its heart - such as 2003's Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End) by The Darkness, or Peter Kay's Once Upon a Christmas Song, released in the guise of Geraldine McQueen in 2008.

It also has some of the most unintentionally hilarious lyrics ever penned, including the instantly infamous line "when that fine morning comes, get out the Christmas plums" (skip to 2:39 above for that gem).

But we're not laughing at Ultan - we're smiling with him. This is an unashamedly upbeat song in the true Christmas spirit, and I for one will always support that.

It's also a man in pursuit of his dream, which makes it a worthy contender not just as a 'Rage Against the Machine' style alternative to The X Factor (that's, like, so 2009), but as a worthy Christmas number one in its own right.

Ultan, good luck from us - we hope you get the top spot when that fine morning comes.

Help to let the snowflakes fall on Ultan's Christmas wish by buying his track from iTunes (click the button below), and make a little Christmas magic happen in 2012.

Let the Snowflakes Fall - Single - Ultan Sherry

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Thursday, 6 December 2012

Dec 6th: Star Trek - Into Darkness trailer

Published on YouTube today by Paramount, the trailer for the upcoming Star Trek sequel Into Darkness hints at more of the same from J.J. Abrams - including an intelligent recognition of the science of Star Trek and a nod to the franchise's best-loved storylines.

This time out, it's Wrath of Khan that gets a reinterpretation, the storyline that turned Star Trek's fortunes around following a fairly muted reception for The Motion Picture.

Now Star Trek's place in history is already assured, does that mean expectations are higher? Possibly. But then, so are the budgets and the visual effects capabilities.

The team seem to be pushing the 'darkness' angle on this one - the music's about as ominous as it gets, the Benedict Cumberbatch voiceover puts Khan very much in control, and the title seems to be styled as the somewhat shouty STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS by Paramount.

But this is a different cinema-going public than it was a generation or two ago, and a trundle through space on a mission of scientific exploration perhaps wouldn't cut it (and definitely wouldn't suit Abrams' style of film-making).

I've always been more of a Trekker than a Star Wars fan, and while Star Trek earned a certain amount of criticism for compromising on certain aspects of science, I thought it did a decent job (and yes, I have studied thermodynamics and astrophysics, so I like to think I have the necessary awareness...).

The criticism so far here is that the last shots from the trailer might give a little too much away - but again, I'm not worried. If I had to guess, I'd expect that shot comes from early in the film - the set-up rather than the finale - but even if that is the broken remains of the Enterprise splashing down, well, they'll probably build another one - there are plenty of letters left in the alphabet.

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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Dec 5th: David Cronenberg's Wife - Spiked

A personal favourite finally get their first mention on Popsiculture, as David Cronenberg's Wife's 'Spiked' is today's advent calendar post.

David Cronenberg's Wife are a fine example of making good music, rather than lots of music - their first album Bluebeard's Rooms was released in 2008, with follow-up Hypnagogues coming in November 2009.

Don't Wait To Be Hunted To Hide, their third album, has taken three years to appear, but finally went on sale at the end of November.

Spiked is typical DCW - energetic and entertaining, with a darkness that reveals itself if you pay close attention to the lyrics.

It's a unique balance of covering challenging topics, without becoming depressing, and it's a style David Cronenberg's Wife have had spot-on since their earliest days.

If you've never heard Hypnagogues in particular, I'd highly recommend downloading a track or two and familiarising yourself with this much under-rated group.

You can keep up to date with our Advent Calendar posts via RSS here.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Dec 4th: This Many Boyfriends - Tina Weymouth

Slight technical problems with the SoundCloud server have delayed today's advent calendar post, but here better late than never is Tina Weymouth, the upcoming single from This Many Boyfriends.

You may have seen them mentioned on Popsiculture a couple of times in 2012 - back in February, and again in May, when Starling and (I Should Be A) Communist were released.

Tina Weymouth continues the trend of tracks that wouldn't sound out of place alongside New Order or The Smiths, and I continue to say that's no bad thing in my opinion.

You might have heard Tina Weymouth already, but it's worth another listen ahead of its release as a single in its own right.

It's due out officially on January 21st 2013, ahead of a nine-date mini-tour by This Many Boyfriends which lasts through late January, February and early March.

You can keep up to date with our Advent Calendar posts via RSS here.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Dec 3rd: Sinkane - Runnin'

Sinkane's new album Mars is due out on December 17th, but we've got a preview of Runnin' for you below.

Today's Advent Calendar post pulls no punches, with a particularly timely video of street violence and martial law, but it's a worthy addition to our December line-up with a free download of the track available via the SoundCloud player below.

Look out for a full album review closer to the 17th, and more track previews to come too as Mars nears its release date.

You can keep up to date with our Advent Calendar posts via RSS here.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Dec 2nd: Eugene McGuinness - Sugarplum

Our second Advent Calendar post is Eugene McGuinness's Sugarplum, due out on December 10th, but here for you to preview below.

It's a punchy track with good development and, according to several commenters so far, a particularly good ending.

We'll let you decide what you think of it...

I'm in two minds on this one; I certainly don't think it's a bad song, and I love the punchy backing music and the catchy chorus.

There's just something in the verses that doesn't quite do it for me - although not to such an extent that I haven't listened to it quite a few times already.

Weirdly, I also find Sugarplum strangely reminiscent of Walk Like A Panther by All Seeing I (with vocals by Tony Christie). Obviously it's an up-to-date and much younger equivalent... or perhaps it's my imagination.

Anyway, make up your own mind - and you can find Sugarplum on iTunes via the button below.

Sugarplum - The Invitation to the Voyage (Bonus Track Version)

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Saturday, 1 December 2012

Dec 1st: Among Brothers - I Am Certain

The award-winning (not really) Popsiculture Advent Calendar is BACK and this year we're kicking off with newcomers Among Brothers, whose 7" single I Am Certain was released on November 26th.

You can see the video below, and catch Among Brothers TONIGHT at The Chameleon in Nottingham, or tomorrow at The Croft in Bristol.

Your last chance to see them live on their current mini-tour of the UK is at London's Assembly Hall, Islington, supporting Los Campesinos! on December 15th.

I Am Certain is a musical and visual oddity, slightly unsettling in a Nick Cave or Smashing Pumpkins kind of a way, and with a couple of definite similarities to some of Smashing Pumpkins' more melancholy works, particularly in its opening.

But it's very much its own song, albeit an unusual song, and that personality is likely to attract a fair few fans to this track.

Order I Am Certain in physical form (remember that??) from Rough Trade, Jumbo Records or Piccadilly Records.

You can keep up to date with our Advent Calendar posts via RSS here.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Rachel Kaye at The Ale House, Leigh, November 10th 2012

The Ale House isn't the most obvious of live music venues, hidden away on a Leigh side street with bar prices that would have seemed cheap 20 years ago, but Rachel Kaye managed to make this one corner of the world her own on Saturday night with a blindingly brilliant solo set.

It can't be easy setting up your own audio gear with no time for a sound check, before launching straight into a series of spellbinding renditions of all-time great tracks - not to mention remembering to change out of your Uggs before you start singing.

For Rachel - who by her own admission had not had the best of days - the set-up looked almost effortless, the show began within minutes of her entering the building, and she was warming up the crowd literally within seconds of walking in.

A lesser talented performer might have struggled to compete with the dozen or so TV screens showing live darts, but Rachel's glittering personality, instant likeability and sheer strength of talent meant there was only ever going to be one star of the evening.

We were only able to stay for her first set of modern classics - and I'd love to have been able to stay for the second half of the show, when she'd promised to bring out some of the oldies - but that was still enough to recognise the brilliance of this young lady.

When, halfway through her first song, the guy sat next to me turned and mouthed "she's good", there wasn't much to do but nod in agreement.

My personal high point among what we saw was Rachel's Devlinesque rendition of Torn, into which she managed to inject more character and finesse than Natalie Imbruglia's original effort, without over-complicating what is a fairly sweet and simple track.

In a dirt-cheap side-street drinking hole, Rachel was every bit the glittering star, and well worthy of a much bigger stage - and I say good luck to her. Instantly likeable and enduringly memorable, look out for her in any given bar across the north-west on a weekend night, and know that, if you spot her, your luck's in.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Benjamin Gibbard - Former Lives

Former Lives - Benjamin Gibbard
You can't always spend eight years on an album, but that's what Benjamin Gibbard did with Former Lives, his debut solo release.

You may know Benjamin better from Death Cab for Cutie - but Former Lives is an opportunity for an intimate glimpse into some of the landmark moments of his life from recent years.

"These songs span eight years, three relationships, living in two different places, drinking then not drinking," he explains. "They're a side-story, not a new chapter."

However, they're also more than just a release of pent-up angst - and while some of the music and lyrics are admittedly simplistic, I don't see that as anything of a problem.

Some of the greatest love songs ever written are equally free from complexity, and there's definitely nothing 'basic' about Former Lives.

Instead, this is an album with a charming honesty to it, lacking in the commercial cynicism that you may have become accustomed to.

Gibbard is both a storyteller, and the subject of these stories - making for a uniquely tangible character to this solo debut that you're unlikely to find in much of the album chart.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

The Ex Factor

In years gone by, we've given quite detailed coverage to The X Factor - everything from live blogs, to exclusives on the latest odds, to compilations of some of those dramatic bits of music they use in their montages.

After last Sunday night's shambles of a show, I won't be watching The X Factor again. It's not even a case of whether or not it's fixed, it's more that I knew from the moment Carolynne Poole's VT began on Saturday night - portraying her as a perfectionist who'd beat people up for getting in the background of her camera shot - that she was doomed.

She's clearly not the worst performer in the show, and absolutely did not deserve to be the first to be booted off (even if she received the fewest votes, you only have to compare the sparseness of her production with the over-the-top glitz and glamour of Rylan's to see why she failed to connect with the viewers).

And yes, it's not really the unfairness of it - more the feeling that the show, and its outcome, are more manufactured and predictable than ever. If Union J win (and that's admittedly a very big 'if' at this stage) that will be hammered home like never before.

What this means for you, dear readers, is that there probably won't be any coverage of The X Factor on Popsiculture this year. We put ourselves through a fair bit in our pursuit of news and reviews to bring to you, but there are limits.

Best of luck to those of you who stick with the show - the only question we need to answer now is what to do with our Saturday and Sunday nights, here at Popsiculture HQ??

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Racing Glaciers - Racing Glaciers EP

What did you do with your summer? Did you spend it in the sun (what there was of it, at least...), with an ice-cold cider in a beer garden? Or trapped indoors, watching the flood waters rise?

Given the weather, it's no surprise that Macclesfield four-piece Racing Glaciers spent their time working on this six-track EP that draws plenty of inspiration from rivers and the darker hours of the day.

Named after the group, Racing Glaciers was recorded in the summer of 2012, not in a recording studio, but in a living room - but there's plenty of quality underpinning this release, and it would be harsh to call it an amateur effort.

From the haunting opening of the EP's Intro, which leads directly into the anthemic South, to the energetic closing track Little River, there are more than a few goosebump moments if this is your kind of music (and enough to keep you listening, even if it's not).

Songs with a strong sense of progression and storyline to them are somehow still unafraid to return to their chorus to provide some continuity, while the musical motifs introduced along the way mix things up to prevent anything from getting stale - as if it even could.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Scissor Sisters - Baby Come Home

Baby Come Home is the new single from Scissor Sisters, out on July 23rd and part of the line-up from their latest album Magic Hour.

Back in May, we gave Magic Hour a fairly conservative 70%, but hopefully we got the message across that, for fans of the Scissor Sisters (and fans of having a good time) that figure should really be much higher.

Now the singles are starting to hit the stands, it'll be good to hear Baby Come Home (hopefully) get some radio play in its own right - at a little over three minutes, it's primed for airplay.

Baby Come Home - Magic Hour

Do we like Baby Come Home? Well sure - what's not to like? It's a simple but decent crowdpleaser that'll give you a chance to throw a few funky shapes on the dancefloor, and there's nothing wrong with that.

It's also a prime example of the Scissor Sisters ethos - not too hung up about breaking new ground, but happy to simply give you something to dance to.

And with The Dark Knight Rises due out any day now, Magic Hour's prospects in the charts can't have been hurt too much by an endorsement from new Catwoman Anne Hathaway in her recent Letterman appearance - skip to the nine-minute mark below.

Anne explains the idea behind a 'kiki' - a party to calm your nerves, a chance to kick back with some friends, and some good music - and it seems like the dictionary definition of what Scissor Sisters are all about.

Let's Have a Kiki is one of the Ana-led tracks on Magic Hour, and has been gaining ground in the past few weeks, thanks in no small part to the video below - which is totally unofficial, but you can still click the iTunes link to download the song if you want.

Let's Have a Kiki - Magic Hour

When tracks are finding videos and single-like popularity of their own accord, you know you've done something good with your latest album - although this may have put a spanner in the works of any plans to officially release Let's Have a Kiki in the future.

Still, if that gives another of Magic Hour's star tracks the chance to shine in its place, that can only be a good thing.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Diana Vickers live at The Deaf Institute, Manchester, July 16th 2012

Diana Vickers brought Christmas to a rainy July in Manchester last night, with a tinsel-strewn glimpse of some of the tracks from her upcoming new album.

In an all-too-brief one-hour set, she delivered an intimate but exciting gig that some die-hard Vickers fans have already claimed was her best ever.

This was my first look at Diana Vickers as a live performer (not counting live performances on TV, obviously) and it was a far cry from the innocent-little-girl act she played back on The X Factor.

Present-day Diana is all grown up, and her music is maturing too - but there's still plenty of fun in there, too.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Jennie Sawdon, live at The Sanctuary, July 8th 2012

The inimitable Jennie Sawdon made a welcome return to The Sanctuary in Didsbury, Manchester last night, and I was privileged to be in the crowd - which I'm fairly sure has grown in size each time Jennie's provided the music at the bar's fortnightly Sunday Jazz night.

It's an unpredictable night, with musicians travelling the length of the country - sometimes literally - to be involved. Jennie is north-west based herself, but her ensemble had assembled from further afield. Anthony, who was recording the performance for a possible upcoming live album (yes please, Jennie...!), had made the journey up from London.

Each fortnight, this level of commitment delivers something a little bit special, regardless of your musical tastes, but Jennie's emotion-charged, flawless vocals add an unparalleled edge to her appearances, creating a genuinely intimate air that is not solely down to the bijou scale of the venue.

We're waiting with considerable anticipation on any firm details of the live album, but for those who already own their copies of Jennie's debut, self-produced album Fighting the Fairytale, the prospect of a professionally produced collection of her live work is tantalising indeed.

In the meantime, there's the album, the YouTube videos (such as the one above, and the beautiful video Jennie recently released for her love song Nothing) and the tracks that make it on to the front page of her website.

We're thrilled to have tracked Jennie's career almost since the day she launched Fighting the Fairytale, which in itself transformed her from a jobbing wedding singer into a fully fledged recording artist - and realised a lifelong dream in the process.

As always, Jennie was ably supported by an army of friends and family, including hubby Chris Geere of Waterloo Road fame (you may spot him in the video above) who is possibly even more generous with hugs than Jennie is herself.

I've said it before, and I'll no doubt say it again, but in this new age of instant access via Twitter, it's the approachable stars who shine the brightest - not those with seven-figure follower counts - and Jennie, her parents and aunt, Chris and the whole entourage are among the most welcoming people I've met.

Undoubtedly, it is this sense of inclusion - bolstered by Jennie's heartfelt and revealing introductions to each of her songs - that keeps drawing her audience back again and again.

With all of that in mind, it seems particularly fitting that this time around, it was one of Jennie's covers that marked the emotional high point of the evening for me, alongside her own tale of sisterly love and perennial crowd-pleaser, Echoes.

This time out, it was her elegant and understated rendition of Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time that really stole the show (although perhaps that's because it's one of my favourite songs...).

But between the covers and the original compositions, the jazz and the ballads, there was, once again, plenty for everyone to appreciate, regardless of taste - and Jennie's performance, accomplished as ever, has me counting the days until the Sawdon clan descend en masse on The Sanctuary once again.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Sound of Arrows - Conquest

We've grown pretty fond of The Sound of Arrows at Popsiculture, to the extent that a new video makes me squeal with excitement in a frankly quite girly way.

Last week was one of those occasions, as the video for Conquest - the new single from TSOA's debut album Voyage - dropped into the Popsiculture inbox.

The single's officially released on June 25th, but you can already buy the track as a digital download as part of Voyage, and you can watch the video below.

It's a typically TSOA production, with lavish visuals and a unique fantasy world created specifically to tell the story of Conquest (and filmed entirely on location in Barcelona).

As usual, there's plenty of questions left unanswered at the end of the track, but you're still taken on a pretty awesome journey, and it only takes a few minutes of your time.

I'm a huge fan of The Sound of Arrows' work so far, and hoping to see plenty more from them in the months to come - with such production levels going into each video, though, it's easy to see why they can sometimes be spaced a good few months apart.
Voyage (Bonus Track Version) - The Sound of Arrows

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Futureheads - Beeswing

If you read our review of The Futureheads live at RNCM on April 13th, you may have been holding out for an a capella single release from the boys - and they've finally come up with the goods.

Beeswing is a cover of the Richard Thompson classic, a subtle and moving tale of lost love that recounts a relationship that lasts "as long as there's no price on love".

Like many of Thompson's story-telling tunes, it's doomed from the start; no glorified view of eternal love here.

The Futureheads' interpretation is a punchy version with a character all of its own, and had its official release as a single in its own right on June 18th.

You may have heard the track already - we featured it in our review of The Futureheads' a capella album Rant back in early April - but it's great to see the levels of interest in the boys' voice-only work are high enough to support a single release.

All I can really add is that the rest of the album is well worth a listen too, and the button below will take you to the album page on iTunes if you want to preview the rest.
Rant (Bonus Version) - The Futureheads

Friday, 15 June 2012

The Fresh & Onlys - Yes or No

Yes or No, the latest single from The Fresh & Onlys, is out on Monday, and there's just time for us to feature it as a Free Music Fridays treat.

Use the player below to preview the track, or visit SoundCloud to download a copy of your own for free.

Yes or No is a deliberately anthemic love song, a questioning tale of what went wrong in a soured relationship.

The Fresh & Onlys' bassist, Shayde Sartain, sums it up: "It was meant to be an anthem, but I guess you could say it was more desperate - the overwhelming desire to please someone, and then feeling as though you have failed and being confused by that."

Despite that, it's not a sad song, but delivers plenty of energy over the course of a fast-paced and melodic two and a half minutes.

We'll be keeping track of The Fresh & Onlys in the months to come, with their fourth LP, Long Slow Dance, currently slated for a September 3rd release date.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Scissor Sisters - Magic Hour

Scissor Sisters are back this week with their new album Magic Hour, and it's a fan-pleasing 'more of the same' effort that's likely to fill a few dancefloors around the country.

Is it groundbreaking? Not really. But that's kinda OK. Instead, you've got a dozen tracks that will fit just fine alongside your existing Scissor Sisters collection - no need for separate iPod playlists here. There's also a fistful of bonus tracks just when you think it's all over, and those genuinely do add a bit more variety to the offering.

As I said up top, fans are likely to be more than satisfied, while critics (are there any??) will find little here to change their minds. Either way, it's a fine collection of up-tempo music that's well timed for the first proper days of summer sun, so get out there in your denim hotpants and shake that ass (boys, I'm talking to you...).

Magic Hour (Deluxe Version) - Scissor Sisters

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

This Many Boyfriends - (I Should Be A) Communist

May 21st sees the release of This Many Boyfriends' new single, (I Should Be A) Communist, and if it sounds a little familiar, you're probably not alone in thinking so.

The band say that "one drunk bloke in a 'Meat Is Murder' T-shirt once told [TMB vocalist] Richard it sounded 'a bit like The Smiths'", and I'd have to agree - there are definite similarities between (I Should Be A) Communist and This Charming Man.

Is this a bad thing? Well no, not really - it's getting harder and harder to write a good song that doesn't remind somebody of something, and there'll be plenty of people who are just happy to know that proper indie music is still being made in 2012.

So, what do you think? Take a look at the official video below, and make up your own mind - and you can click the button at the bottom of this post to pre-order the single from iTunes, if you're a fan.

What do we think? Well, (I Should Be A) Communist offers a much more melodic approach to indie pop-punk-rock than you often hear, and it's always good to hear proper northern vocals, regardless of which side of the Pennines they're from - in this case, the band hail from Leeds, and will be hosting a launch party for the new track at Oporto on May 20th.

A corresponding launch event at The Waiting Room in London on the 19th gives southerners a chance to attend without facing the fear of heading to the wilderness of Yorkshire, while the official release date for the single is May 21st, making for a hectic but no doubt exciting few days for This Many Boyfriends.
(I Should Be A) Communist - Single - This Many Boyfriends

Monday, 30 April 2012

Red Velvet - First Listen

There were more than a few disappointed Waissel Warriors last week, when it emerged that Katie's first proper public outing with her new band Red Velvet was over-18s only. But if there's one thing I've learned about Katie Waissel, it's that she genuinely really cares about her fans, so there was always bound to be a consolation for those who weren't old enough to attend the debut performance of Red Velvet at the Monto Water Rats Theatre on Tuesday, April 24th.

And they didn't have long to wait - in fact, most of Red Velvet's tracks currently on SoundCloud have been there since April 11th, just waiting to be discovered. This week, Waissel added NRG to the Red Velvet set on April 28th, and finally let her fans in on the secret via Twitter.

You can imagine the response - many of these supporters have been waiting for the first proper Waissel music to be released since The X Factor (and remember, the self-titled album 'Katie Waissel' had been recorded before she ever appeared on the show) so the twit-clamour has been raucous and the five-track Red Velvet set on SoundCloud has seen plenty of plays in the short time it's been available.

So, what's all the noise about? Are the Waissel Warriors just fangirling all over Twitter, or is there some real quality to these tracks? Let's take a look...

Monday, 23 April 2012

Devin - Masochist

Devin's new single Masochist is out today, and you can preview it below.

It's proper guitar music, fast-paced and noisy from the get-go, and ideal for shutting out the world around you on the commute to school or work.

As for the vocals, well, Devin has the kind of voice you might expect to hear snarling from the front of a 1960s-70s rock group, the lyrics tripping from his tongue as though it were second nature to him - and to be fair, it probably is.

Masochist is available from April 23rd, a week ahead of Devin's upcoming album, Romancing, which should hit stores on April 30th.

But why wait for the album? If you love Masochist, you can buy the video now at iTunes - just click the button below.
Masochist - Devin

Saturday, 14 April 2012

The Futureheads live, RNCM, Manchester, April 13th 2012

If you're wandering round Manchester in the next few days and somebody shouts "MacIntyre!", it probably doesn't mean they've just spotted Donal filming his latest undercover series - they may just have been at the Royal Northern College of Music last night.

The Futureheads ended their ten-date a capella tour in style at the RNCM Theatre, supported by the brilliant Cornshed Sisters and further guests including the Northern Quarter Boys' Choir.

Events kicked off at 8pm with an accomplished 45 minutes from the Cornshed Sisters, adequately filling their role as warm-up act with a set that started slow and emotional, before building to a faster, more upbeat tempo. True to the spirit of the tour, they threw in some a capella music, along with tracks from their newly released album, Tell Tales.

As a four-piece, the girls work incredibly well - each with their own distinct style and voice, but with harmonies that soared to the ceiling of the RNCM Theatre, a venue the Cornsheds claimed to be 'too good for them', before delivering a performance that's likely to make many audience members disagree.

We were advised to get there in time to catch the support act, and I'm truly glad we did - the girls performed original music to an excellent standard, and fully served their purpose in setting the stage for the main event.

You can grab a three-track preview of Tell Tales using the widget above, or click below to visit the album page on iTunes for more previews and purchase links.
Tell Tales - The Cornshed Sisters

With the Cornshed Sisters out of the way, there was just time to grab a pint before the main event of the night - a two-hour set from The Futureheads that was at times hilarious, at times emotional, and occasionally involved the audience in true live-gig style.

Although the tour was ostensibly a capella, there was plenty of acoustic music too, with a whole rack of strings brought on to the stage at the start that ranged from ukuleles to cellos - and a few guitars, as you might imagine.

I was pretty pleased to see the set open with Richard Thompson's Beeswing, one of several cover versions to make it on to Rant, and one of my own favourite songs by Thompson. The Futureheads performed it as a group - as with much of their live music, there's no feeling of any one member really 'owning' the stage - and with plenty of flair.

The enduring sense from the first verse (and through until the end of their encore) was that a capella is not just a gimmick for the four-piece, and the academic surroundings of the RNCM helped to hammer home the impression that the genre is alive and well, and every bit as entertaining and relevant now as it has ever been.

An eclectic set list incorporated drinking songs, sea shanties, the Black Eyed Peas and a few Futureheads classics, including the moving News and Tributes, a particularly fitting choice for Manchester thanks to its historical references to the 1958 Munich air disaster.

With just two days off among their ten tour dates, the strain was beginning to show a little - not on the group, but on their instruments. A snapped guitar string and a broken strap reduced the number of instruments available, and forced a couple of the performances to be slightly more 'a capella' than intended. And an ill-timed fade-out of the lights led to minor disaster as Jaff smashed the resin for his cello bow. Oops.

Other than that, things went fairly smoothly, even when the audience were called in to help with claps, clicks, foot-stamps and cries of "MacIntyre!" (during the classic drinking song, When The Old Dun Cow Caught Fire), and a generally good time was had by all.

As befits the last night of a tour, the Cornshed Sisters returned to the stage for the last few songs, accompanied by the Northern Quarter Boys' Choir, and the singers stepped back from their microphones to fill the auditorium with what felt like genuinely unplugged vocals.

With at least 20 people on stage, and a good mix of male and female voices, those performances in particular brought the evening to a crescendo, and were among the most absorbing of the night for me. Soon enough, though, it was over, and The Futureheads rounded off the main gig with a final few minutes on their own, after thanking the departing Cornsheds and Boys' Choir.

An all-too-brief encore satisfied the rousing calls for more - the group joked that they hadn't stayed off the stage for long enough to build suspense, but there had been time for thunderous applause, foot-stamping, shouts for more and a slow handclap. There may have been a riot if they hadn't come back out as soon as they did.

Hounds of Love - in a capella, naturally - was the final song of the night, a perfect balance of humour and emotion that summed up not just the previous two hours, but the full three hours since the Cornshed Sisters had first stepped on to the stage.

As far as I could tell, the audience left in good spirits, with an open invitation from The Futureheads to make the short walk to the Deaf Institute to join them at a Prince night. Any gig where you're left with an invite to party with the band has got to be good...

The Cornshed Sisters have several further live appearances coming up, including London's Rough Trade West Instore today (do they not rest??) and the CornShed Festival in North Yorkshire on July 6th.

The Futureheads - Rant is out now, and you can read our full review here or click below to visit the album's page on iTunes.
Rant (Bonus Version) - The Futureheads

Monday, 2 April 2012

The Futureheads - Rant

Today sees The Futureheads' a capella album Rant go on sale, along with the double A-side of Meet Me Halfway/The No.1 Song in Heaven, and the start of the group's UK tour to promote the album. The tour kicks off in Brighton tonight, ending in Manchester on April 13th after ten performances and just two nights off. It's a hectic schedule, and it's probably no surprise to see 'Glee Club' listed as the venue for both Birmingham and Nottingham, given the furore surrounding the TV show Glee.

If you're expecting senselessly uplifting, pseudo-a-capella power ballads, though, Rant is not for you. It's proper a capella, and that means no backing track, just a symphony of voices providing everything from the vocals to the instrumentals. It's a celebration of the human voice, and of a broad range of tracks including The Futureheads favourites, a reinvented Black Eyed Peas tune and a folk-rock classic from Richard Thompson.

You might expect a fairly confused result, with such broad influences, but The Futureheads' distinctive vocals are understandably even more evident on Rant than on some of their previous works, and the outcome is actually a very consistent and impressive album.
Rant (Bonus Version) - The Futureheads

Monday, 19 March 2012

Dan Mangan - Rows of Houses

New from Dan Mangan today is Rows of Houses, taken from his album Oh Fortune.

If you've missed the album so far since its release, it's the perfect chance to catch up - Rows of Houses is a measured and emotional composition, without becoming boring, and an excellent place to start listening to Oh Fortune as a whole.

For Dan Mangan fans, it's also the precursor to a UK tour that gets underway on April 27th and takes in eight dates nationwide - full details below.

You can preview the track below - it's a little over four minutes long, and well worth listening through to the end to fully appreciate the nuances in the way Rows of Houses develops from verse to verse.

If you'd like to know more about Oh Fortune, you can read our full review here - there are more full-track and part-track previews, and our overall rating of 86% is none-too-shabby even by our fairly generous standards.

To visit the album's page on iTunes, or to download Oh Fortune, use the button below.

Oh Fortune - Dan Mangan

Tour Details


27th: BRIGHTON, The Hope
28th: MANCHESTER, Castle
29th: GLASGOW, Stereo


1st: NEWCASTLE, Cluny 2
2nd: BRISTOL, Louisiana
3rd: LONDON, Bush Hall
4th: OXFORD, Jericho Tavern
5th: LEEDS, Holy Trinity Church

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Futureheads - Rant, out April 2nd

If you think a capella music is what you see (and hear) on Glee, prepare yourself for an education in how it should be done, courtesy of The Futureheads.

Rant is an 11-track album (with a bonus 12th track for digital downloaders) consisting of voice-only covers of classic Futureheads songs, along with a couple of curiosities ranging from a Black Eyed Peas cover (Meet Me Halfway) to a Richard Thompson track (Beeswing).

Vocalist and guitarist Barry Hyde says the group have earned the right to do something a little different, after spending so long together.

"We're bringing to the fore what we're really about: a unification, a gang mentality, which is in the balance between our voices and our personalities."

The album is due out on April 2nd, but the previews are already making their appearances. So if you can't wait for Rant, you can preview Robot using the SoundCloud player below.

We'll be keeping an eye on this one, so look out for a full album review closer to the release date.

This Many Boyfriends - Starling

Starling, from This Many Boyfriends, is something a little different from the norm - it was released last week and, as well as being a pop song, it's also the title of the accompanying limited-edition fanzine, which you can see below.

Because This Many Boyfriends are so generous, you can also stream the single and its B-side, Just Saying, using the SoundCloud player below.

Starling is energetic but melodic, fast-paced but carefully measured, and a fine example of the north's musical heritage and modern-day prowess from the Leeds-based indiepop band, and is dedicated to their friend Peter Sykes, who was involved in the writing and recording process on the track.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Benjamin Francis Leftwich - Pictures

A look ahead to February 20th, when Benjamin Francis Leftwich's new single, Pictures, is due to go on release.

It's a stunning voice-and-guitar piece, of the sort that always seems to resonate with listeners of all kinds, and its appeal is undeniable.

Reminiscent of Cinematic Orchestra's 'To Build A Home' - albeit with guitar, not piano - Pictures has lyrics that demand to be listened to and that sense of being able to feel every movement of fingertips across guitar strings.

Pictures is due out in single form on February 20th, but it is also to be found on Benjamin Francis Leftwich's album, Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm - click below to open the album page on iTunes.

Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm (Bonus Track Version) - Benjamin Francis Leftwich

Monday, 6 February 2012

Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory

Attack on Memory is the new album from Cloud Nothings, a year after their debut and hot on the heels of their first UK tour. It's a coming of age for the group, who are a long way from their origins back in Cleveland.

It's a raucous racket, with strained vocals and deliberately heavy drumming, so prepare yourself for an energetic listening experience. If you like to shut out the world around you with loud indie music, this is the album for you. If the last album you bought was by Beethoven, you should probably steer clear of this one.

Attack On Memory - Cloud Nothings

Boy Friend - Egyptian Wrinkle

Boy Friend's debut album Egyptian Wrinkle snuck onto Popsiculture's pages back in December when we gave you a preview of the title track. Now the full thing is available and there are ten lush tracks to lose yourself in over the course of slightly-more-than half an hour.

In case you missed our December preview, Boy Friend are Christa Palazzolo and Sarah Brown, a pair who have worked together on several music projects during their 15-year friendship, but who only formed this duet in late 2010. Releases quickly followed - a self-titled EP at the start of 2011, and a 7" entitled Lovedropper in May 2011.

Egyptian Wrinkle is their first full-length album, but seems unlikely to be their last. There's a whole world of music wrapped up inside its jewel case, from the uplifting to the unnerving, and it's the kind of stuff that makes you really feel something - and that's always in demand, somewhere or other.

Egyptian Wrinkle (Bonus Track Version) - Boy Friend

Thursday, 2 February 2012

All the Saints - Intro to Fractions

Intro to Fractions, the new album from Atlantan three-piece All the Saints, offers a melding of mellow guitar with heavy rock drums, yielding an invigorating yet relaxing 35 minutes of music separated into 12 bite-sized tracks for easy digestion.

Some four years since the release of Fire on Corridor X, the trio's debut, singer and guitarist Matt Lambert explains the extra thought that went into the compositions that made the Intro to Fractions shortlist.

"There wasn't much room for repeating ourselves - you can bury your instruments, your words, in effects forever, but eventually you'll have to say something," he says.

With Intro to Fractions, the group have made a strong return that is rich in a sense of their musical origins - recorded at numerous studios throughout the Atlanta area, and with the help of stalwarts of the local music scene.

Intro to Fractions - All the Saints

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Jennie Sawdon - Nothing

Perennial Popsiculture favourite and ever-lovely singer-songwriter Jennie Sawdon sent this over to us in late December, so it's great that we've finally had chance to bring it to you all.

'Nothing' is from Jennie's album, Fighting the Fairytale, and tells the story of those simple times spent with the person you love, doing nothing at all, together.

Like all of Jennie's songs, it's a well-told glimpse into one of those experiences we all have at some point in our lives, but which often go untold amid a million generic love songs - and you can watch the stunningly shot video below.

The video for 'Nothing' is the work of cinematographer Jeff Wood (find out more about him here) and continues the commitment to artistry of the highest order that is obvious to anyone who's handled the inlay booklet from Fighting the Fairytale, or even one of Jennie's flyers that make the rounds at her live performances.

You can read our review of Fighting the Fairytale here, find out more about Jennie Sawdon here, or simply click the iTunes button below to go straight to the album download page.
Fighting The Fairytale - Jennifer Sawdon

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Casiokids - Golden Years

Casiokids' Golden Years is taken from the new album Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen and had its official release date on January 23rd - however, we've got a slightly different version for you to have a listen to below.

While preparing for a sold-out show in Tokyo recently, Casiokids faced disaster when their Korg - a 25-year-old and rather rare synth - seemingly gave up the ghost.

Their signature sound was in extreme jeopardy until, with literally minutes to go before they took to the stage, the percussionist's father managed to bring some life back to the old Korg.

In the video below, you can hear a backstage recording of the resurrected Korg playing its essential role in Golden Years flawlessly, less than half an hour before the Tokyo show began.

You've probably already seen our album review for Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen, so I'll keep it brief here - but it's fair to say that Korg is a pretty important band member in its own right!
Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen - Casiokids

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Casiokids - Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen

If Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen is a bit of a WTF? title for you, then it's worth remembering that Casiokids are from Norway. In fact, you'd better bear that in mind while you're listening to the album, too, as you're probably not going to understand most of the lyrics.

Luckily, Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen is a musical powerhouse, a feast for the ears that transcends such earthbound concerns as whether you can tell what they're singing or not. Decidedly electronic compositions with typically Norwegian vocals, this album is one for you to crank up the treble (and maybe the bass too) and float away on a magic carpet woven of songs that sound like a-ha on drugs.
Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen - Casiokids

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Nada Surf - The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy

The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy is Nada Surf's first album release for four years, and their sixth overall. With a band line-up unchanged some 15 years into their career, it's the latest instalment in a great musical legend that is still in the making. Matthew Caws takes vocals and guitar; Daniel Lorca is on bass; Ira Elliot adds the drums; and this album also sees appearances from guitarist Doug Gillard and multi-skilled instrumentalist Martin Wenk.

If those names are unfamiliar to you, it's not too late - there's plenty enough youth in this album to keep newcomers to the Nada Surf story interested, at least until you can track down copies of the older albums. As Caws explains below, The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy is a deliberate attempt to capture the energy of playing a song for the first time, rather than the typical toned-down, pristine performance that usually makes it on to a studio album release.

The overall impact of this approach is pleasing and has few, if any, negative effects. I've picked out my personal highlights below, but you can preview every track on the album using the iTunes widget, and get your own download copy of the contemplative When I Was Young to keep, too.
The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy (Deluxe Edition) - Nada Surf

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Dear Reader - Idealistic Animals

We get this week off to a start with a slightly overdue look at Idealistic Animals, new from Dear Reader and officially released last week.

It's a fairly complex record, touching on Dear Reader protagonist Cheri MacNeil's loss of religion during recent years, but the cynicism is far from overwhelming. Instead, there's a broad spectrum of emotion here.

Your exact emotional response to Idealistic Animals probably depends on your own state of mind when you start listening - I get the feeling it's the kind of music you can mould and shape to meet your needs. Despite that, this is an album with plenty of personality, and it suggests MacNeil's going to be just fine without religion on her side.

Idealistic Animals - Dear Reader

Monday, 9 January 2012

Laura Gibson - La Grande

If you enjoyed our preview of Laura Gibson's La Grande back in November - when the single of the same name was doing the rounds - then January 9th marks the official release date of the complete album.

Expect haunting vocals and atmospheric echoes, layered over instrumentals of typically American clarity. Gibson's Oregon origins provide the inspiration for this work, including its title - La Grande, pronounced 'luh grand' in the local dialect, is described by Gibson as a place "people usually pass through on their way to somewhere else", but its own unique energy sparked the writing process for this album, which pays homage to the town, found east of Wallowa Valley.

La Grande - Laura Gibson