Does This Mean I Have To Get Up On Saturdays?

From No Rock & Roll Fun and Sweeping The Nation: Lauren Laverne to host CD:UK (some other people as well, but do they count? I think not, although will it be the first time two former musicians hosted a music programme since Mark & Lard’s all-too-brief residence on TOTP?). I’ve been re-reading some old NMEs in the past few days (as part of the Britpop nostalgia which is going around; and indeed, my copy of Slight Return has gone missing), and the best possible CD:UK line-up would be to drag Emmy-Kate from university, Marie from the PR firm she works at, and just let the trio run free for an hour.

It’d last three weeks, but it’d be glorious.

currently playing: Orange Juice – Rip It Up

Okay, America, You Can Have Ricky Gervais. Please.

The Pussycat Dolls - “Don’t you wish your girlfriend was raw like me?” Is there a problem with cooked women in the west coast at the moment?

The Go! Team — Bottle Rocket 2005

There are many reasons why a band chooses to re-record a song. Sometimes, there’s a change in line-up, sometimes the original may fall foul of sampling rules, and well, sometimes I guess a band thinks it can do better. I don’t know for certain, but I suspect that this new version of Bottle Rocket is mainly down to the first two reasons. According to rumours, Thunder, Lightning, Strike is being held back from release in America until Sony/CBS can clear all the samples it uses. So a new version of Bottle Rocket is, perhaps, a little suspect (and maybe a sign that we should stock up on the UK version to sell to our overseas friends). But it can also be explained by reason two.; as far as I can make out (and yes, I should have perhaps asked about this when I interviewed them a while back), the original version was made before Ninja joined the group, so it features a different vocal. So it’s fairly reasonable to remake the track in the image of the band before they are given a big push by their new record company.

But does it work? Ah, not quite. The wonderful thing about The Go! Team is that their songs sound so compressed; tinny delights packed close together with no room to breathe. As soon as Bottle Rocket 2005 (as the hip cats, er, probably won’t be calling it) begins, you can tell the difference immediately - there’s so much space; it’s like they’ve blown the song up with a pump. It’s not bad, but the jump outside of Ian P’s bedroom has hurt it a little (strangely, Ninja’s version sounds better live).

Robyn — Robotboy

It’s this year’s Annie! Just look at the similarities! Five letters in their name! Both from Scandinavian countries! The blogs are fawning over them! And an almost-equal record of setting the charts on fire! (check charts: hmm, not even smouldering)

And, just like Annie, it’s a bit of a shame, as Robyn’s album, Robyn (boo, you could have gone for a pun, dear! Annie did and it got her, um, well, okay, you might have a point) is full of great songs drawn from the New Pop school, stopping off to pick up some sass from Missy Elliot and flick dirt in Gwen Stefani’s face (Konichiwa Bitches anybody?). The album limps a little at the end; finishing with four ballads is probably something to be avoided in most circumstances, even if Bum Like You and Eclipse are rather splendid. Abby has already waxed lyrical about the double-timed cello in Be Mine, so I’ll point out this track, about the oh-so-common problem of a death-dealing robot running out of power far away from home. No, really. The moment of genius in this piano and strings ballad? That’ll be the first verse, as Roybn sings ‘find your co-ordinates home’, at which point ‘home’ breaks off from the verse, looping and repeating over the rest of the song. Makes you just want to give it a big hug.

Erm. Moving on…

The Shortwave Set — Is it Any Wonder

Common descriptions of The Shortwave Set include ‘Saint Etienne if they started playing in the 1880s’ and ‘Fairly splendid, Jeeves’. Despite that, their album The Debt Collection is an enjoyable British take on the Avalanches/Go! Team/Plus Tech! Squeeze Box style. Annoyingly, Is It Any Wonder reminds me of someone, but I just can’t remember who. Anyway, pleasant and mellow; just the right thing for a sunny day. Let me know when one turns up.

Scarlet — Independent Love Song

“Oooooh! I’llll shoooooww yooooouu hooow too taaake meeeee! Goooo dooown, goooo dooown!”

Wonderful meta-pop, and anyone who says otherwise is dead inside. Dead. Inside.

currently playing: Robyn – Be Mine!


A pox on Tyler James’s house, then, I feel…

currently playing: Joy Division – Disorder


As I promised - Japanese school girls.

Suicide Club

Jisatsu Sakuru (Suicide Club) is a manga adaptation of a 2003 film with the same name. Having said that, it has very little in common with that film, except for the opening scene: a group of schoolgirls, holding hands, jumping into an oncoming train. The story follows Saya, the sole survivor of the accident, and her best friend, Kyoko, who begins to get suspicious about the company Saya is keeping.

Somewhat unusually for manga, it’s only one volume long, so can be read very quickly (although the last few pages are somewhat…uncomfortable). It hasn’t been officially translated yet, but you can get hold of a fan-translation here (a warning: it’s definitely not for children). If, for some reason, you’re in the mood for an unsettling story involving teenage suicide, well, it’s your lucky day!

Also enjoying Viz’s Short Cuts Vol. 1 at the moment. It’s been around for a while (as you can tell by the Western right-to-left layout of the official translation), but I’ve only just come across it. Manga has a fairly well-deserved reputation of having stories that take place across 30+ 200 page books, but here, a tale is doing extremely well if it gets to a third page. It’s a funny send-up of the clichéd handling of, er, schoolgirls in the manga scene (look, I swear, this post didn’t start out as dodgy as it’s turning out).

In cartoon news, Bonnie and I have discovered The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, currently showing on the Cartoon Network. Billy and Mandy are typical children, winning a bet with the Grim Reaper, and as a consequence, he’s their Best Friend Forever. The Grim Reaper also appears to be Jamaican. Series Three began on Sunday, and since then we’ve had a spider that insists Billy is his dad, an Evil Tricycle from an alternate Pittsburgh (complete with bad British accents), Billy racking up thousands of years of bad luck in a mirror shot, and Grim’s body becoming a supermodel. It’s insane and very amusing…


currently playing: Robyn – Robotboy

Doooo Dooo Doo Doo

I do have an entry planned involving Japanese schoolgirls and mass suicides, but that’s later - this is now:

Stars are playing a concert at the Garage in London on September 7th. Anybody fancy going?

currently playing: Robyn – Konichiwa Bitches

Ew. Ew. Ewwww.


currently playing: Adam Ant – Goody Two Shoes

Two Things

The new Rachel Stevens song sounds much better blasted through headphones on a summer’s day. We can only hope that it sparks a mini-Adam Ant revival.

Secondly - someone from the Stevens/Girls Aloud/Sugababes/Xenomania/Richard X axis should cobble together a cover of Bis’s Eurodisco

currently playing: A Camp – I can buy you

Oh my HMV

The eternal sale seems to have turned up a few more gems:

Hard Boiled for £2.99!

Singles Going Steady — The Buzzcocks (£5.99)

Unknown Pleasures — Joy Division (£4.99)

Superfly — Curtis Mayfield (£5.99)

Dare — Human League (£4.99)

Greatest Hits — Leonard Cohen (£4.99; go on, the man needs the money at the moment)

New Gold Dream — Simple Minds (£3.99)

Please, hide my credit card…

currently playing: The New Pornographers – The Laws Have Changed

Speaking Entirely Hypothetically

If you had the choice between getting Daphne & Celeste’s album, We Didn’t Say That, or their individual singles, which would you plump for? Are there any lost gems on the full-length, or can I be satisfied with Oooh, Stick You and U.G.L.Y.?

currently playing: Imani Coppola – I’m a Tree


Rachel Stevens — I Said Never Again (But Here We Are)

That’s Deuce Bigalow 2’s Rachel Stevens, fact-fans. I hear she doesn’t even get to speak during her cameo (and I draw the line at actually seeing the film to verify this). Anyway, the theme of this record seems to be: “glances at previous chart positions Oh dear. Anybody up for a bit of glitterstomp?” So we have a mixture of Adam Ant, Marilyn Manson, Some Girls, and a 70s song that I just can’t pin down right now (although the words Tiger Feet keep creeping up on me). Better than the new Sugababes & Girls Aloud efforts, but I don’t think it’s going to send her back up to the top of the charts…although, the release date is around the time of Children In Need

Franz Ferdinand — Do You Want To?

∀FF: Angles2 + ∫ f(hype) = Eh + ∅

Stellastarr* — Sweet Troubled Soul

That asterisk will be the death of them, you know. I still don’t hear The Cure in them, either, but everybody else does, so I give in. This is the first track from their new album, which appears to be going in the same direction as the first. In the immortal words of computer games journalists “if you liked the first, then you’re sure to like — arrrrrrrrrggghhh” (Not quite so immortal after Stuart Campbell got his hands on a chainsaw, readers).

The Cardigans — I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need To Be Nicer

A Title of Champions, I’m sure you’ll agree. Again, listen to this, and you’ll instantly think “hmm, a Cardigans song”. I was surprised to discover on first listening that a Cardigans song was exactly what I needed to hear. Not exactly a glowing recommendation, I know, but if you feel that you need to hear such a record, then this is as good as any (aside from Rise and Shine, of course, but then I always skewed twee).

currently playing: Adam Ant – Goody Two Shoes