Archive for February, 2008


What’s My Name?: The Moths! Metamorphosis

As a band, it must be one of the most irritating things to find out that another band already got to your name. It’s difficult enough finding a name that is both creative and original, and once you think you have a brilliant one, you don’t want to have to change it. In the case of London-based band, The Moths!, they’ve been operating for a couple of years now with their excited insect moniker. A week ago, they began sending out bulletins via MySpace telling friends of the band to visit a new profile under the name Me My Head – there was no explanation, just an exhortation to trust them and add Me My Head as a friend. I initially thought it was a teaser campaign for a side project, so I ignored them. Then today there are more bulletins entitled The Moths Metamorphosis and The Moths Migrate – I take a look and they finally reveal that they had to change their name due to another band having it already.

I’ve been following The Moths! for nearly a year now since I first became aware of them via music blogs – their glammy, new wave sound and bubbly melodies attracted me to them. They’ve only released singles thus far, some as free downloads, some on vinyl, but nonetheless, they had built up a substantial amount of work as The Moths!. I also had the opportunity to see them live when they opened for Good Shoes at Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff last summer. They were really the main reason I went to that show (I had heard the odd Good Shoes song by that point, but wasn’t particularly excited by them) and they were the highlight of the gig for me. Although the audience seemed pretty indifferent to The Moths!, while they went ballistic for Good Shoes, I realized that the audience type was probably the problem – The Moths! are the eyeliner-wearing, pointy shoe-wearing flamboyant type while the crowd was more into hypermasculine moshing and throwing pints of lager around. I was the only one singing along with The Moths! to the song Wild Birds…and I was from Canada.

If I were The Moths!, who had won an unsigned band competition last year, I would be really disappointed that I had to find a new name, and with it, a new identity. It’s almost like starting at ground-zero again – any coverage and hype they got in the last couple of years needs to be recovered under a new name. Unfortunately, their new name, Me My Head, just doesn’t resonate with me, and right now, it seems like an unwieldy, boring name.

The “real” Moths

I’ve taken a look at the original The Moths, apparently another London-based band in operation since 1982. Their Web site doesn’t seem to elaborate on what type of music they actually play, but I have a feeling it’s not bright, shiny new-wave synthpop. There have been numerous name issues in the past, including the ridiculous problems several UK bands have had when trying to release material in the US. Suede and The Charlatans come to mind – because some obscure American bands already had their band names, they became known as The London Suede and The Charlatans UK in North America. Ridiculous and annoying in my mind. Yes, it may irk you that your little crappy, obscure psychedelic-jazz-fusion-lounge-singing band, which will likely never get famous, had its name before some successful act from another country stole it and actually earned loads of fame and recognition with it. However, it starts to get a bit petty for the band on the other end, who will never have the same fan base as the original band and will never lead to any major confusion over who’s who. For whom is it easier to change their name? I rest my case.

I reckon the lesson in all this is to research your band’s name extensively before you choose it and to think as originally as humanly possible. It’s going to take awhile before I associate The Moths! music with Me My Head’s music (strange that, how a band’s name is so intrinsic), but I’ve already added Me My Head as a friend on MySpace (, and I can only hope that their original 5000 friends follow.

Wild Birds – The Moths!

Watch the Sun – Me My Head


psYchotic and sYnchopated: frYars’s The Perfidy EP

I’ve enjoyed frYars – London teenager, Ben Garrett – for over a year now ever since I first heard his track Chocolate. While I haven’t really been too excited about the other musical teens in his milieu like Cajun Dance Party and The Bombay Bicycle Club, I’ve become quite hooked on frYars. He’s been compared to Kid A-era Radiohead, and quite appropriately, to Patrick Wolf. I hear the Patrick Wolf similarities in the fanciful, often dark imagery, and the blend of classical and electronic elements – where Wolf uses violin, frYars uses piano. frYars, like Wolf, seems to be a young man out of his time – perhaps from the 19th century, but the mention of ketamine replaces any reference to opium. He gives me the impression of smirking precociousness – after all, he is only nineteen years old and if I had written songs like Chocolate and The Ides when I was seventeen, I would be rather smug as well. His low, slightly warbly, slightly mad voice is perfect for the quirky, often sinister, musical stories he tells – he has the sort of imaginative self-contained narratives that the likes of David Bowie and Morrissey used to create.
frYars released his first EP, The Ides EP, last year, but it was only available in independent record shops in England (most likely only in London), and via iTunes. I had managed to order a vinyl copy of the title track The Ides single with the b-side happY on which he declares “produced with the wonderful luke smith & i did the picture after sana drew it first,” continuing the rebellion against capitalization – except for “y’s” (apparently this is so he wouldn’t be confused with actual friars and it would make it easier to search him on the Internet – odd, but practical I suppose). On March 17, he’ll be releasing a new EP entitled The Perfidy EP, featuring the songs The Novelist’s Wife, Benedict Arnold, Olive Eyes, and Benedict Remixed. This time, the EP will be available via Rough Trade’s Web site (, where you can also now purchase The Ides EP and The Ides vinyl single.

Produced by ex-Clor member, Luke Smith, The Ides EP featured a concise four songs, The Ides, Madeline, happY, and Chocolate, but they’re all fantastic tunes. The plonking piano at the beginning of The Ides, a morbid narrative about shooting a former lover and then running away, makes me think of some 19th century vaudeville show. Then a bunch of electronic flourishes come in, kicking off into a chorus that is so catchy, I often walk around singing, “You should have died that very night, Good job I wasn’t born a killer” (not recommended in public). Chocolate, which as I mentioned earlier was my first listen of frYars, is a nearly nonsensical story of two children named Alice and Ivy who appear to eat chocolate given to them by a doctor and subsequently switch genders, but with the cheerful, bouncy music, the song takes on the quality of a Roald Dahl or Lewis Carroll creation – child-like, but then again, not so child-like.
First The Ides, now The Perfidy – I detect a theme of betrayal and disloyalty. In his latest EP, frYars sings about Benedict Arnold, the infamous, treacherous soldier in the American Revolution, a mellow composition with a syncopated beat. Paul Butler, from psychedelic-indie band, The Bees, takes over production for Benedict Arnold and for The Novelist’s Wife, a more piano-driven affair, rather than electronic, which recounts the Titus-like story of a writer who is unfaithful to his wife, prompting her to bake a pie containing his Hungarian mistress, whom the novelist then eats, unknowingly, for dinner. Olive Eyes, sees the return of Luke Smith as producer and fuzzed out beats and a bubbly electro feel, reflecting shades of Smith’s old band, Clor. Thanks to Olive Eyes, “You should have died that very night, Good job I wasn’t born a killer” has now been replaced in my head by “you have a womb, you shall deliver me a boy.” Still doesn’t work well in public.

frYars has a number of tour dates lined up in the UK and Europe, including an opening slot on Goldfrapp’s tour. My hope is that one day he will create a full album full of choruses I shouldn’t sing in public. I’m including a couple of tracks from his first EP and an early demo called The Rise of Jack and Chloe. To listen to the tracks from The Perfidy EP, visit frYars’s MySpace page:

The Ides – frYars

Madeline – frYars

The Rise of Jack and Chloe – frYars


Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and…Well, Friday I’m in Love: Weekly Mix #5

It may still be winter where I live (though it’s getting slushier everyday), but I felt like making a mix of mellow music that would be suitable for spring. As much as I do appreciate and revel in gloom and melancholy gray skies, I have always liked spring because it is the perfect temperature – not freezing cold and not blazing hot, which are the main options when you live in the centre of Canada. I’m also a pretty big fan of autumn because of the similar moderate temperature and the vibrant colours of leaves before they fall to the ground, but everything seems bright and new in spring and the air is the freshest it will ever be. Perhaps the light feeling that spring gives me stems from childhood when I was finally allowed to go outdoors with regular clothes on – as opposed to being bundled from head to foot like an arctic mummy – and I could walk to the corner store and buy a Slurpee or a Freezie again. With spring comes Easter, and thus rabbits, which have a talismanic effect on me because they’ve been my favourite animal since I can remember. I could be perfectly happy sitting in a massive field surrounded by rabbits (however, this may be an indication that I should be sectioned). As I’ve grown up and far more cynical, spring is one of those things, along with British countryside and the Mediterranean Sea, that can give me a flash of the hope and anticipation I had as a child.

The beauty of music, and a large part of the reason I love it so much, is that it has the power to transport you to either a past memory or a completely imaginary place. All of songs in this mix give me that feeling of renewal and peace that staring at Monet’s painting Roses did and in that way I always imagined fantasy worlds like Wonderland and Narnia to be. Like that impossible hopeful feeling that you might just get to follow a white rabbit somewhere completely new and where rules no longer make sense. I’m calling this mix Rose-Tinged Monocle.

If She Wants Me – Belle & Sebastian

Reunion – Stars

Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken – Camera Obscura

Secret Kiss – Black Umbrella

He’s On the Phone – Saint Etienne

Too Young – Phoenix

Bewilderbeast – Badly Drawn Boy

Carolyn’s Fingers – Cocteau Twins

You Needed More – The Sleepy Jackson

Young Folks – Peter, Bjorn and John

Freewheel – Duke Special

Bowl of Oranges – Bright Eyes

Waking for Winter – Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci

I Me You I’m Your – Jim Noir

Small Town Crew – The Brunettes

Comforting Sounds – Mew

It Doesn’t Matter Anymore – Puressence

Suffused With Love – Sondre Lerche

Cherry Blossom Girl – Air

The Worst Taste in Music (Extended Version) – The Radio Dept.

Black Flowers – Yo La Tengo

Weekly Mix #5 (Megaupload)


What the Hell, Ella, Ella, Ella, Eh?

When I read Nicky Wire’s reviews of 2007 songs in an NME a couple of months back, I felt a bit like crying. Now, I don’t think The Wire was ever really the epitome of music taste; however, there was a time when he and the others in the Manics praised artists with more meaning and credibility (The Clash, C86 bands, Public Enemy, etc.). Lately, the Manics are promoting artists like Cherry Ghost, Babyshambles, and The Horrors. I was heartbroken enough when Nicky first gushed over Rihanna’s utterly annoying and ubiquitous Umbrella in the NME, and now…last week I find out that the Manics are covering Umbrella. And the track will be available on the free CD with a future issue of NME. It’s taken me several days to digest both this news and the track itself.

The decision to cover this song and be included on this NME compilation smacks of the publicity machine. All of the recent attention given to the Manics by the NME is completely forced – because the Manics are the winners of this year’s Godlike Genius Award, NME has decided to give a sudden push to their coverage of them even though they’ve been dismissive of them for years. The NME may also have felt the negative energy of Manics fans and their emails about the NME’s hypocrisy (I may have sent one myself, ahem.). The Manics have had more features in NME in the past couple of months than they have in the past eight years, including a bizarre, tenuous tie-in to the news that Castro is retiring. Now, to coincide with the big NME Awards celebration and the resulting Manics’ performance, the Manics choose to release a cover of probably the most popular track of 2007. Admittedly, the Manics have always been notorious for playing the publicity game by doing or saying shocking things, but I’m just bewildered by this gesture. If the Manics are once again “sleeping with the NME,” I have a feeling they’re going to end up on the couch in a few months.

Judging by the amount of discussion it’s generated on the forum on (relevant and otherwise – whether Nicky Wire should be in a video for the song wearing Kylie Minogue’s gold hotpants and dancing about with an umbrella, isn’t particularly relevant), this cover version has created a fervor of opinions. I wonder if it’s merely because of the novelty and the shock factor of deciding to cover this specific song. It seems there are several opinions ranging from how Umbrella was such a great song to begin with and the Manics merely replicate that success to complete praise for their brilliance to outright dejection. However, most of the criticism I’ve read seems to be leaning towards the positive. I, myself, believe that at best, the Manics have made a song that I originally hated a little more palatable. The strange If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will Be Next background that pulses through the first half doesn’t seem quite right and James Dean Bradfield’s guitar solo seems uncharacteristically lacklustre, but James’s voice during the bridge gives me chills (of course that could just be because James’s voice always gives me chills). You can listen to the song in the YouTube clip below and judge for yourself.

I still love the Manics with all of my heart and will always stand by them, but I love them like that best friend who can be mouthy and reckless, capable of saying and doing absolutely genius things and equally capable of looking foolish after taking something too far.

Since I don’t have the Manics’ Umbrella as an MP3, I will include a couple of the standout B-Sides from their latest album Send Away the Tigers. You’ll be better off with these anyhow.

The Vorticists – Manic Street Preachers

Welcome to the Deadzone – Manic Street Preachers


Do You Like Keytars? I Do!: Glasgow’s iamchemist

I would like to begin by saying that I’m a fan of the keytar – there’s something brazen about subverting the traditional electric guitar by strapping on a keyboard in its place. Others may mock the keytar as being a cheesy vestige of the ’80’s that should only be used ironically – that only makes me like it more. iamchemist, a one-man electro project from Glasgow, uses a keytar, and there is an unabashed, unapologetic bliss to his music. He has already supported the likes of Imogen Heap and The Hours and gained airplay on XFM Scotland and BBC Radio One, and this is all without an official release of material. I’ve been waiting for electro music that would make me feel the elation I felt as a thirteen-year-old listening to New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle for the first time – iamchemist has had that effect.

Citing influences ranging from electro acts (White Rose Movement, Ladytron, New Order, Salon Boris) to intelligent, tongue-in-cheek art rock (Pulp, The Futureheads, The Rakes), iamchemist produces melodic synthpop songs with plenty of vocoder, and provides a welcome alternative to the latest trends in grittier guitar-driven electro, electropunk, and sleazy disco. In a way, iamchemist cleanses the electro palate with a wash of breezy synths. While iamchemist began by exclusively doing cover versions, including a stunning re-working of Pulp’s Babies, he has now moved on to brilliant original material, including A Sense of Purpose, Four Mistakes, and Closure. The intro to A Sense of Purpose recalls The Rakes’ Work, Work, Work (Pub, Club, Sleep), but than floats off into a different airy direction like a cloud of electro cotton candy. Its lyrics describe the monotony of civil service, but adds that “there’s still time, there’s still time/If we change, we can find/a sense of purpose” – forgive me for another New Order comparison, but this optimism achieves the same euphoric, but non-cheesy, effect as New Order’s Krafty does. Four Mistakes once again fuses light New Wave synths with a more choppy lyric style reminiscent of bands like The Futureheads and The Rakes. Closure features a Hungry Like the Wolf-type female giggle in it and pumps along with a harder drumbeat and a shimmery melody line. Spirals, which was first released to the public as a demo this past Christmas, is the latest iamchemist creation, and it spins about in an excellent, dizzying imitation of its title.

There are rumours of an iamchemist EP for this summer, but as of yet, no official announcements. For now, enjoy the sample MP3s (including a cover of The Rakes’ We Are All Animals) and visit iamchemist’s MySpace page to hear more. Also, if you live in Scotland, go to see iamchemist perform live at his upcoming dates (he plays with one of my favourite bands, Stroszek, on March 29 in Edinburgh). Considering the inclusion of “bad dancing” alongside vocals, synths, and programming in the MySpace band members section, I would expect that iamchemist is a fun act to see live. Bring on keytars and vocoders, and long live iamchemist.


Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and…Well, Friday I’m in Love: Weekly Mix #4

Cover versions are an interesting genre of music – they can go very badly, very well, or more often than not, sound too much like the original. When I was a teenager, I used to rant about how the original versions of songs were always best and how no one should be so audacious as to cover a song, especially one that was classic and well-loved already. Now that I’m older, I realize there are many covers that are just as good, sometimes even better, than the originals. In some cases, as with Police & Thieves by The Clash and Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley, the cover eclipses the original. I only just recently discovered that Ben Folds did a cover of Dr. Dre’s Bitches Ain’t Shit and that it’s become massively popular (I’m obviously not up on my rap cover versions). While I’m not a fan of the original, nor this indie piano ballad version, it does make me think about why artists choose to cover others. Is it for tribute, for parody, for creating new meaning by recontextualizing?
Personally, the most effective cover versions make me hear a song in a whole new way and appreciate it far more than I did when I heard the original. I will admit that I would much rather hear the Scissor Sisters’ version of Comfortably Numb over Pink Floyd’s, and Brett Anderson’s plaintive and distinctive vibrato puts a new gender-bending spin on Brass in Pocket. Sometimes the original artist would prevent me from liking particular songs, but in someone else’s hands and voice, the song takes on a new, better life. While I would never listen to Nelly Furtado or Gwen Stefani of my own volition, I greatly enjoy the covers done by Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand, respectively. Sometimes you’re lucky and one of your favourite bands covers one of your favourite songs by another artist – in my case, Sneaker Pimps covered my all-time favourite Duran Duran song The Chauffeur.

Sad Kermit

It’s always fascinating to see which kinds of songs a band chooses to cover – their choices can reveal influences or they can reveal admiration for another artist or they can introduce the covered artist to a whole new audience. Some are more prolific than others in producing covers – for example, Of Montreal has covered numerous songs on tour ranging from 60’s British Invasion bands to current indie to glam rock. Some produce covers with the original band – Sandie Shaw and The Smiths come to mind (I didn’t actually include any of Sandie Shaw’s covers of The Smiths because I was dangerously close to making this mix a collection of Smiths cover versions – instead I included Shaw’s fantastic version of Sympathy for the Devil). This weekly mix encompasses a range of cover versions from those who covered their contemporaries (Sandie Shaw, Franz Ferdinand, Dragonette, The Clash) to those who covered their predecessors (Placebo, The Futureheads, Sneaker Pimps, Camera Obscura) to that which is pure novelty and parody (Sad Kermit – for more information check out Hopefully, the one commonality for these covers is that they’re all decent ones. This mix is called: Cover to Cover.

Sympathy for the Devil – Sandie Shaw (Original: The Rolling Stones)

What You Waiting For? – Franz Ferdinand (Original: Gwen Stefani)

20th Century Boy – Placebo (Original: T.Rex)

She Sells Sanctuary – Dandy Warhols (Original: The Cult)

Comfortably Numb – Scissor Sisters (Original: Pink Floyd)

The Boys – Dragonette (Original: Calvin Harris)

Hounds of Love – The Futureheads (Original: Kate Bush)

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – Maximo Park (Original: The Proclaimers)

Say It Right – Bloc Party (Original: Nelly Furtado)

Boys Keep Swinging – The Associates (Original: David Bowie)

The Instrumental – Manic Street Preachers (Original: The June Brides)

Police & Thieves – The Clash (Original: Junior Murvin)

Spanish Dance Troupe – Of Montreal (Original: Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci)

This Charming Man – Stars (Original: The Smiths)

The Boy With the Thorn In His Side – Jeff Buckley (Original: The Smiths)

The Chauffeur – Sneaker Pimps (Original: Duran Duran)

Brass in Pocket – Suede (Original: The Pretenders)

Creep – Sad Kermit (Original: Radiohead)

Disco 2000 – Nick Cave (Original: Pulp)

To See a Friend in Tears – James Dean Bradfield (Original: Jacques Brel)

Modern Girl – Camera Obscura (Original: Sheena Easton)

Weekly Mix #4 (Megaupload)


I Blame Chaucer For Life-Sized Teddy Bears

I tend to forget Valentine’s Day until I’m literally confronted with it when I enter a store. The eye-searing pinks and reds in combination with the monstrous stuffed toys that could potentially suffocate you in your sleep usually clue me in. Since I’ve never been in a relationship when Valentine’s Day rolls around, I’ve remained indifferent to it in much the same way I dismiss St. Patrick’s Day. If I’m going to celebrate some saint’s day, I may as well celebrate St. David’s Day for all that they mean to me. Not to mention the fact the original Valentine’s Day honoured several martyrs by the name Valentine and didn’t have anything to do with romantic love until Chaucer connected the two in Parlement of Foules. I think I used to rail against Valentine’s Day when I was younger, protesting against the pointless commercialism of it, but now I’m just at the point where I ignore it as a necessary point on the retailer’s calendar which doesn’t concern me.

To be honest, I’m actually glad I haven’t been in a relationship with anyone during Valentine’s Day (when I was broken up with one week prior to Valentine’s Day several years back, I was hugely relieved). I have a feeling that I’d feel really uncomfortable with it much in the same way “romantic” gestures generally make me uncomfortable. Perhaps romance shouldn’t lead to mortification, but for me, that’s how it is. Add that to the fact that I don’t see the point of flowers and/or chocolate (the former just die in a few days and the latter has no happy effect for me at all), and Valentine’s Day just becomes a pretty useless ritual.

I’m generally not much for love songs either, and when I do listen to any that may qualify, they tend to be ones about falling out of love, unrequited love, or the love for a friend. This all makes me sound quite miserable, but believe it or not, these songs make me happy. I’m a perverse flower-hating, unsentimental person who gets more endorphins from a Cocteau Twins song than chocolate and who bought a love spoon necklace for herself (I don’t rate most jewellery very highly either unless it has a connection to somewhere I travelled to).

Though I’ve been pretty harsh in the past to those who actually like Valentine’s Day, I am not going to rant about it anymore because I recognize that I’m abnormal, and I also recognize that I’m not an emo teenager. So, I’ve decided to be as impartial as possible in song selection and to be considerate of both views of Valentine’s Day by including frothy, appropriately titled songs from The Delays and The Moths; conversely, I’ve included cynical, politically-motivated tracks from McCarthy and the Manics.

I may fall into the McCarthy and Manics camp on this one, but I won’t condemn those who don’t. And there very likely is a form of love out there that isn’t sappy or uncomfortable…I just haven’t ever experienced it.

Valentine – The Delays

Valentine – The Moths

Boy Meets Girl So What – McCarthy

Love’s Sweet Exile – Manic Street Preachers


Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday…and Well, Friday I’m in Love: Weekly Mix #3

Girls just want to have fun and boys will be boys. But then again, there are girls who are boys who like boys to be girls. If there’s one thing I’ve learned well over the years, it’s that gender isn’t rigid. And there’s been plenty of explicit gender performance in music over the years from Mick Jagger wearing a dress at their last free concert in 1969 to Patti Smith’s famous album cover for Horses to Annie Lennox performing as Elvis at the 1984 Grammies to Justine Frischmann and Brett Anderson’s nearly identical appearances in the early 90’s to Genesis P-Orridge and Lady Jayne’s more drastic attempt at being each other to Kevin Barnes wearing a skirt, high boots, and make-up in his recent tours. For me, many classic moments in the history of music come back to gender subversion – from Morrissey tearing his shirt open on Top of the Pops during “William, It Was Really Nothing” to reveal the message “Will You Marry Me?” to Nicky Wire lounging on the cover of the NME with his shirt open to reveal “Culture Slut” written in lipstick.

I’m a huge fan of androgyny because androgyny, both external and internal, makes mores sense to me than prescribed gender roles. For example, I recently had to examine Super Bowl advertisements for my Social Semiotics class and I only became incensed with how restrictive and offensive their assumptions about gender are. Apparently, all men are boorish, beer-drinking, football-watching idiots and all women are primarily concerned with looking pretty and shaking their heads over the men. As Morrissey once said in a different context, these say nothing to me about my life.

I’ve been comfortable with androgyny from a young age, watching Labyrinth repeatedly as an eight-year-old and thinking that David Bowie looked wonderful while other kids found him frightening. As I grew older, I admired those who pushed the limits, male or female, and I’m still fascinated with issues surrounding androgyny, including why it isn’t acceptable for men to wear dresses and skirts when women can wear pants, and why androgynous men are more likely to be praised and lusted over while androgynous women generally aren’t.

For more about gender and popular music, see Simon Reynolds and Joy Press’s book The Sex Revolts (even though there are several places I disagree) and the BBC documentary series Girls and Boys: Sex and British Pop Music. This mix is called Gender Trouble, named after Judith Butler’s groundbreaking book about gender and performance. Rock music has always been about subversion, and this collection of songs challenges gender and sexuality in one way or another.

And I will not apologize for being a heterosexual girl attracted to pretty men in skirts and eyeliner.

Girls and Boys – Blur

I Like a Boy in School Uniform – The Pipettes

I’m a Boy – The Who

Vicar in a Tutu – The Smiths

Lola – The Kinks

Another Girl, Another Planet – The Only Ones

Boys Don’t Cry – The Cure

Rebel Rebel – David Bowie

Being a Girl – Mansun

The Drowners – Suede

Nancy Boy – Placebo

Androgyny – Garbage

She’s My Man – Sigue Sigue Sputnik

Hot One – Shudder To Think

Sister – Adam Cohen

Walk on the Wild Side – Lou Reed

Androgynous – The Replacements

The Origin of Love – Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Venus as a Boy – Bjork

Born a Girl – Manic Street Preachers

Weekly Mix #3 (Megaupload)


Insert Clever Headline in Response to Do You Like Rock Music?

Released on Valentine’s Day, British Sea Power’s third full-length album definitely doesn’t disappoint. I’ve been a fan of British Sea Power since I first heard of them four years ago (oddly enough, I discovered them via a British men’s fashion magazine because I was writing an essay on men’s magazines for my Rhetoric of Gender class). Based in Brighton, they’re known for obscure references and incredible live shows. When I bought their debut album, The Decline of British Sea Power, four years back, I wasn’t quite sure how to classify them. The singer, Yan, has a breathy voice that sounds like a mixture of Ian McCulloch, Richard Butler, and David Bowie, and their music was guitar pop that moved from angularity to sweeping washes of sound. Their second album, Open Season, was received favourably enough by critics, but nothing above average – perhaps because it was a more produced and pop-friendly record.

This album brings them back to a more experimental sound, but no less accessible. Lights Out for Darker Skies has a mighty guitar riff that is both jubilant and wistful while the lyrics give a nod to Dylan Thomas. Waving Flags is anthemic, and as it references the Vistula River in Poland, my interpretation is one about immigration in Britain, especially the influx from Eastern European countries. Of course that could just be me being pretentious. Down on the Ground is a fabulously shiny rock song with pumping guitars pulsing through it like liquid sunshine. No Lucifer begins with a powerful fist-pumping chant reminiscent of Arcade Fire that would rouse thousands to some noble cause; however, judging by the lyrics, it’s a wonderfully hidden cause – not exactly Sympathy for the Devil, more like arm yourself for the Apocalypse. Then again, heading to Sodom rather than Megiddo seems like “let’s avoid the whole End of Days battlefield and party while the world falls down instead.” Atom is a delightfully fuzzy, distorted affair that begins with a simple piano line but bursts into a guitar-and-drum-driven cacophony. They seem to achieve everything The Strange Death of Liberal England was attempting to, but couldn’t deliver.

British Sea Power has always rocked and their lyrics are challenging, cryptic, and brilliant. So, rather than try a clever line about this album’s title, I’ll just say that British Sea Power is definitely not in decline.

Waving Flags – British Sea Power

Down on the Ground – British Sea Power

No Lucifer – British Sea Power


Putting the Punk in Electropunk: Robots in Disguise’s We’re In the Music Biz

So, the wacky, mighty Robots in Disguise, Dee Plume and Sue Denim, have released a third album, We’re in the Music Biz, today in the UK. Although I have not been able to listen to the full album at this point (even if I had pre-ordered it, I wouldn’t have it by now), I can form a few opinions based on the three songs that I have heard.

If you don’t already know who RID are, this is a brief rundown. Named after the slogan for “Transformers,” they fuse elements of electronic music with punk – they are riot grrl without the politics. They also have an offbeat, robot-influenced-neon-coloured-Clockwork-Orange-boiler-suit aesthetic. It’s difficult to ignore their connection with both The Mighty Boosh and Chris Corner (Dee Plume dates Noel Fielding and Sue Denim dates Chris Corner) because their off-the-wall feel is like the former and much of their sound can be similar to the latter. Of course Chris Corner has also produced all of their albums. Their first album, simply called Disguises, was fairly laidback and low-key with about half of the songs at a slower tempo. The standout release from it was Boys, a shuffling electro tribute to…well…boys. The cover for the Boys single was an inspired inversion of the famous Roxy Music album cover, featuring Chris Corner and Noel Fielding instead of the scantily-clad women. Another track on Disguises, What Junior Band Did Next, is reminiscent of a Noel Fielding-type rambling set to music. Their second album, Get RID!, was shorter, but more energy-packed. The songs were tighter and punchier with notable tracks Girl, Turn It Up, and The DJ’s Got a Gun. In any form, RID are colourful, energetic, and run-as-fast-as-you-can-on-a-roundabout-and-make-yourself-dizzy fun.

Overall, this new album takes RID in a more rock direction – guitars and heavier beats make the album seem more punk than electro. They’ve still got the same great shouty voices and danceable beats. My initial reaction to the first single “The Sex Has Made Me Stupid” was quite a negative one – I found the vocals to be drifting into obnoxious taunting instead of their signature shouting (making it difficult to listen to all the way through), and the concept just seemed insipid and too childish even for them. However, I do like the Midfield General remix – maybe because the vocals are largely buried. (Incidentally, there’s a track out there by Midfield General with Noel Fielding telling a rambling story about animals – very funny, I’ll have to post it here in the future). I also do quite like the title track, and I love the guitar riff in the track I’m Hit – it sets a fantastic groove to the whole song. If you want to hear and see the title track, watch the music video via YouTube (it’s apparently based on a 90’s Japanese computer game called Two Robots). I truly hope that the majority of the album is in the vein of I’m Hit rather than The Sex Has Made Me Stupid. Nonetheless, RID have a great feeling of abandon about them – they don’t take themselves seriously, which is refreshing. If you’re a fan of bands like Chicks on Speed or Strawberry Switchblade or even just Japanese robots with pet monkeys, you’ll love Robots in Disguise.

Should you like what you hear, your best bet on purchasing We’re in the Music Biz is with a site like I don’t know if there will ever be a North American release, but eventually it may be made available as an import. Or do what I do, and import it yourself.

I’m Hit – Robots in Disguise

The Sex Has Made Me Stupid (Stupid Sex Midfield General Mix) – Robots in Disguise

Boys – Robots in Disguise

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Gigs Attended

Arcade Fire w/ Bell Orchestre + Wolf Parade (2005)

Arctic Monkeys w/ Reverend and the Makers (2007)

Austra w/ Young Galaxy + Tasseomancy (2011)

Big Audio Dynamite (2011)

Billy Bragg w/ Ron Hawkins (2009)

Billy Idol w/ Bif Naked (2005)

Bloc Party w/ Hot Hot Heat (2009)

Buzzcocks w/ The Dollyrots (2010)

Damo Suzuki (2012)

David Bowie w/ The Polyphonic Spree (2004)

Diamond Rings w/ PS I Love You + The Cannon Bros. (2011)

Diamond Rings w/ Gold & Youth (2012)

Dragonette w/ Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees (2009)

Frank Turner w/ The Cavaliers (2010)

Frank Turner w/ Into It Over It + Andrew Jackson Jihad (2011)

Franz Ferdinand w/ Think About Life (2009)

Gang of Four w/ Hollerado (2011)

Good Shoes w/ The Moths + The Envelopes (2007)

Hot Hot Heat w/ The Futureheads + Louis XIV (2005)

IAMX w/ closethuman (2007)

IAMX w/ Coma Soft + The Hourly Radio (2007)

Interpol (2007)

Janelle Monae w/ Roman GianArthur (2012)

Joel Plaskett Emergency w/ Frank Turner (2012)

Jonathan Richman (2011)

Keane w/ Lights (2009)

Lou Reed w/ Buke and Gass (2011)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Fear of Music (2007)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Bear Hands (2009)

Manic Street Preachers at Wanaja Festival (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Old Folks Home (2009)

Mother Mother w/ Whale Tooth (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Hannah Georgas (2012)

MSTRKRFT w/ Felix Cartal (2008)

Muse (2004)

Nine Inch Nails w/ Death From Above 1979 + Queens of the Stone Age (2005)

of Montreal w/ Janelle Monae (2010)

Owen Pallett w/ Little Scream (2010)

Patrick Wolf w/ Bishi (2007)

Prince (2011)

Pulp w/ Grace Jones, TV on the Radio, The Hives, The Horrors, Metronomy, Devotcka, Vintage Trouble (2011)

Rufus Wainwright w/ Teddy Thompson (2010)

Snow Patrol w/ Embrace (2005)

Snow Patrol w/ OK Go + Silversun Pickups (2007)

Sons and Daughters w/ Bodies of Water (2008)

Stars w/ Thurston Revival (2006)

Stars w/ The Details (2008)

Stars (2010)

Steven Severin (2010)

Stroszek (2007)

The Antlers w/ Haunter (2012)

The Flaming Lips w/ Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti (2010)

The Jesus and Mary Chain w/ Nightbox (2012)

The Killers w/ Ambulance Ltd (2004)

The New Pornographers w/ Novillero (2008)

The New Pornographers w/ The Mountain Goats (2010)

The Ordinary Boys w/ Young Soul Rebels (2006)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart w/ Suun (2011)

The Rakes w/ The Young Knives (2006)

The Raveonettes w/ Black Acid (2008)

The Stills w/ Gentleman Reg (2009)

The Subways w/ The Mad Young Darlings (2006)

Tokyo Police Club w/ Smoosh + Attack in Black (2008)

TV on the Radio w/ The Dirty Projectors (2009)

Yann Tiersen w/ Breathe Owl Breathe (2011)

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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave


So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun


Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head


Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away


Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners


Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away


You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender


I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding


You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black


Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side


Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb


Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape


Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah


And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning


My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it


Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love


We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's


Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south


Running on


As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different


LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can' the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell


Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are


You must let her go

She's not crying



Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times



Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone


Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't


So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need


The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest


Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know


No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more


All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids


Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome