Day 3: The Morning Call Has Been And Gone

The Divine ComedyCome Home Billy Bird

Included here because it’s a fun tale of a business man desperately trying to get home, with a sweet twist at the end that makes you go “awwww”.

And yes, backing vocals by Lauren Laverne do go a long way in making this song one of my favourites from this year. Shut up. For 2005, I suggest we kidnap her from the Orange Chart Show or whatever it’s called, and lock her away in a studio until she records a full-length album.

I do not have a Problem.

currently playing: Life Without Buildings — PS Exclusive

Day 2: You're Daydreaming Through Another Winter

Saturday Looks Good To MeLift Me Up

The worst thing about falling in love with a band is when they release the next album. What you want is to get the feeling you got from hearing that first album again; you want more of the same. Sadly, this just isn’t possible. Even if most bands didn’t tend to move in new directions with each album, you can never get that feeling back again. It might be better, it might be worse, but it can never be the same as that initial listen. A good example of this is Saturday Looks Good To Me’s Every Night. I know that, technically, it’s a better album than All Your Summer Songs. but it will never occupy the same place in my heart as their 2003 album. It was a soundtrack for the last few months at UNC; Meet Me By The Water accompanied me to Washnington D.C, Ultimate Stars followed my wanderings around the Pit at 15:20 each weekday, and Last Hour was playing in my head when people started driving away and when I had to say goodbye to eveyone. As much as I like Every Night, it can never be quite as special.

Still, Lift Me Up, my favourite track from their new album, is a wonderful reminder of why I fell for them in the first place. Motown by way of a thrift-store; layers of hand-claps, guitar, horns, and a marvellous organ that sounds as if it has been locked away in a garage for thirty years. And you know I’m a sucker for female singers (quick game for everybody to play at home! Guess how many records in this round-up feature female vocals?), especially ones who sing on indie-pop records. It’s bouncy, fun, and features both the threat of shooting down helicopters and the use of the word ‘taxidermist’. Quite splendid.

currently playing: Heavenly — C is The Heavenly Option

Day 1: I'm Addicted To You, Don't You Know That You're Toxic?

Britney SpearsToxic

Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’s evil older sister; That was all about the gentle “na-na-na-na-na” which seemed so innocent when your first heard it, not realising that you’d find yourself repeating it in mixed company over two years later. Toxic is all about the screeching violins, almost atonal, jamming into your head like knives — repellent but yet somehow utterly compelling (almost, if you will, toxic. ahahahaha). Britney’s voice is battered, abused, and twisted through a host of different vocal effects, coming out of the speaker in a 441kHz burst of energy; something now, a song that represents what the 21st century can offer. Pop didn’t eat itself after all; it decided to feast on the avant-garde instead. Who knew that Cathy Dennis would end up being one of the greatest pop writers of her generation?

Oh, and you can dance to it. Badly, of course, but it’s very danceable…

currently playing: The New Pornographers — Your Daddy Don’t Know

Advent Plans

The idea is this: for each day of Advent, I reveal a song that I consider one of the best of the year, and go on about it for ages. Or at least a paragraph. You get to join in by insulting my taste in music, or complimenting it (but I’m guessing more of the former!). If you want, you can offer alternatives as well. It’s going to be fun!

No, really, it is.

I’ve compiled the list (in no particular order), and I have to warn you now: if you were expecting a lot of rap or hip-hop, you’re going to be disappointed. Eminem and Usher just missed the top 25…

currently playing: Eminem — Mosh

Bring Your Record Player And Your Raincoats 45s

Following on from last week’s announcement of record music sales (still, the BPI insists that suing its customers will make for even better business in the future), and today’s release of what is likely to be the biggest single since Candle In The Wind, the BBC has today axed Top of The Pops. Oh, sure, the announcement says that it’s a move, but it’s going to a new day, a smaller channel, and will undergo a reformatting. After forty years, TOTP is dead.

Top of The Pops began in 1964, broadcasting from a converted church in Manchester. It was commissioned for just six weeks, but was so popular that its run was extended indefinitely. The format was simple; bands would come into the studios, perform their latest record, and the finale of the show was a countdown of the Top 10, before the UK’s number one single was played to finish the show. It was presented, by four DJs: Alan Freeman, Pete Murray, David Jacobs, and of course the always-scary Jimmy Saville. In 1967, production moved to London, and the presenting cast was swelled by the DJs of the newly-formed Radio 1 station.

There are many things that TOTP is famous for; the ridiculousness of Pan’s People, Nirvana’s performance of Smells Like Teen Spirit, Jockey Wilson as the background to the Dexy’s performance of Jackie Wilson Says, the KLF appearing as monks with rhino horns attached to their heads, Oasis’s woeful attempts at miming, and of course, some classic presenter moments such as these from the John Peel / Kid Jensen era:
Well that was the best song I’ve heard since…well, tea time. Mind you, I had a late tea.
And that was Bon Jovi - “You Give Music A Bad Name”.
In case you’re wondering who this funny old bloke is, I’m the one who comes on Radio 1 late at night and plays records made by sulky Belgian art students in basements dying of TB.

And who can forget the fateful day when Mark and Lard were allowed to show their faces on television before the watershed? Children still scream in terror.

In the 1990s, the show began to lose its way somewhat; a misguided attempt to instill a sense of ‘real music’ saw a ban of mimed performances, which meant that many acts would not appear on the programme (happily, this state of affairs didn’t last too long, by 1995 miming was allowed again). The rise of satellite TV its multiple music video channels probably didn’t help either. It was moved from its comfortable slot of Thursdays at 7:00pm to Friday at 7:30pm, where it found itself competing against Coronation Street, the most popular TV show in the country. So it wasn’t too surprising to see audience figures slide down to 3 million by the start of this year. Also, I think I’ve talked about it before, but one of the best parts of TOTP was watching it on Thursday and then talking about it with all your friends at school on Friday morning. I certainly remember having fights over The Bangles and Belinda Carlisle on a Friday breaktime.

The BBC spent the past few years tinkering with the format, adding interviews, news, and competitions (but, not, say, moving it to a quieter night), even completely relaunching the show earlier in 2004. But nothing seemed to work. And now it’s gone. These things aren’t meant to last forever, naturally. But let’s have a moment of silence for the death of Top Of The Pops, a few weeks away from the 1000th Number One of the British chart.

currently playing: Annie — Me Plus One

A Quick Question

If you’re spending the next hour downloading an MPEG version of a bad VHS-copy of a late-night ITV music series that just happened to follow Kenickie around on their final tour, does that mean you have a problem?

currently playing: Kenickie — And That’s Why

Gwen & BeMusic Productions

Gwen StefaniWhat You Waiting For (remix)

Gwen Stefani’s latest single, What You Waiting For sounds like a clock to me; a carefully constructed mechanism where everything has been carefully slotted into place to make a bouncy Europop song. This Jacques Lu Cont remix is what happens when the mechanism begins to wind down; the quartz crystal jumps to a different beat than the Universal Time of the original. Large swathes of Electronic’s Getting Away With It seem to be pasted over the melody, which is no bad thing either.

Gwen Stefani and Bernard SumnerThe Real Thing (iTunes link)

This is from her new album as well, and sounds as New Order-y as something very New Order indeed. Not just because Bernard supplies backing vocals, or the sound of the synths that sound as if they’ve come straight from the Haçienda; even the lyrics sound familiar, with the oft-repeating Barney trick of rhyming ‘away’ with ‘stay’ (No-one ever said he was the best lyricist in the world). Oh, and Peter Hook plays the bass. So if you are in any doubt about whether I’m writing a load of rubbish (er… — Ed.), go to 2:40, and listen as the vocals drop away to reveal Hook beneath, if you haven’t noticed it already. Oooh, there’s a new New Order album out next year. Can you tell I’m excited?

currently playing: Beth Orton — She Cries Your Name

Picture Time!

The extent of my abilities with Illustrator:

currently playing: Sleater-Kinney — #1 Must Have

The Staging Area!

Next week, this will all be on the house…

Turkey Boo

Let’s celebrate shipping off our religious nut-cases overseas! It didn’t come back to bite us at all…

(Happy Thanksgiving, America!)

currently playing: 52nd Street — Cool As Ice