Sunday, 11 October 2009

Take It To The Chorus has moved

After taking a break, Take It To The Chorus has now moved. Blogger has been good to me, but it's time for a change. I'll see you over at Tumblr for more pop music waffle.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

RIP Fuzz Club

Drunk dancingAfter ten years, tonight will be the final Fuzz Club at the University of Sheffield. In case you don't know, Fuzz Club is (was) the indie club night where, as a student, I watched many a brilliant gig. Most universities have indie/rock nights, but none as consistently wonderful as Fuzz Club. Bands I watched included Maximo Park, Art Brut, the Long Blondes and Keane. Once, the Arctic Monkeys supported the Ordinary Boys. After the bands came the indie disco, usually featuring Cannonball by the Breeders, The Modern Age by the Strokes and Date With The Night by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Good fun, yes, but I usually preferred watching the bands. That's the sort of person I am.
I'm sorry to hear of its demise. Does this indicate a decline in the demand for indie nights at universities? Probably not. Not many club nights make it to their tenth anniversary, and it's just time for something new. While the Liverpool club/party scene always underachieves (sorry Liverpool, I know you're my current home but it's true), the Sheffield club/party scene overachieves. Come September there'll be quirky club nights all over the city. Probably held in basements, playing only pagan disco.
So let's all raise a glass of Snakebite and black in memory. Or Jagermeister, if that's your thing. Goodbye Fuzz Club: whenever I hear Molly's Chambers by Kings of Leon I'll think of you.

Monday, 8 June 2009

A fitting tribute

Hello internetz. I took a break from blogging. To start with, I was ill. Eurgh, so ill. Then I was better, but I couldn't bring myself to blog. Just the thought of signing into Blogger's dashboard gave me the blog sweats. Why? Fear, probably. I think I've overcome it now.
The other day I was waiting to catch a train on Merseyrail. If you don't know, Merseyrail is similar to the London Underground, yet somehow grubbier and less punctual. Once upon a time (probably in the 1970s), it was decided that Merseyrail's official colours would be a cheerful yellow and a sophisticated chocolate brown. Unfortunately, I always think it looks like nicotine yellow and poo brown.
But anyway, I was waiting when another train passed through the station. One carriage had the words 'John Peel' stencilled on. It was too quick for me to snap a picture. A fitting tribute to a great man? Hmmm...
Another John Peel tribute is The Ravenscroft, a pub in Heswall, Wirral. Mr Peel was born John Ravenscroft, in said town. A large picture of Peelie surveys the staircase up to the toilets.
Mind how you go The Ravenscroft is one of those anonymous, beige pubs with pleather couches and a muted plasma screen with rolling Sky Sports News. As my dear friend Nigel pointed out, not the sort of drinking establishment that Peelie would have particularly liked. And, equally, not the sort of drinking establishment that would have welcomed a man like Peelie.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

£5 to win

Thanks for the bottle of Tia Maria, Alexander Rybak.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Another gig

On Tuesday night, I went to see a band called Mi Ami in the Static Gallery. That's the sort of person I am. I go to gigs in galleries. (It's more of a studio space, to be honest.)
I was planning to write about my gigging adventure on Wednesday. But I just couldn't think of anything to write. It was a moderately good gig, where I drank a can of Red Stripe and took a photo of my shoe (pictured). Mi Ami were not bad, but they did a lot of screeching. It reminded me of a messy spin painting and PMT combined. Plus they were ridiculously loud.
Today is Thursday, and I finally mentioned this because I really enjoyed the support bands. The first on were called Bagheera, but I can't find their MySpace. They were good, I promise. Second on were Balloons, playing some cheeky electro pop. Also good, and they looked like they were having fun. This means that I have fun, and everybody is happy.
Picture Book were also playing. I've seen them before. They're trying to do high-concept electro, and project visuals from a Macbook. For me, it ends up like The Knife without the gender-bending or sexuality, or early Moloko without the ideas. I do like bands who put "official" at the end of their MySpace profile. That's ambition.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

I'm gonna take you out tonight

The video for Little Boots' first-single-proper - New In Town - is here. Not just on the tellybox but also on the internets. Can Little Boots transform all the buzz into unit shifting?
Let's take a look at the video and find out.
We open with Little Boots herself, staring dolefully at the rain-splattered LA streets that pass by her car window. It's a lonely life being a touring artist. But at least she's wearing a spectacular necklace and dress (made by Ashish, if you must know).

Boohoo Meanwhile, a group of ne'er-do-wells are scrabbling around to survive. They're probably under a railway bridge. In a dubious area called 'downtown'. This chap has a sign that reads 'Need food - spent all my money on judo lessons'.
Judo lessons Being new in town, Little Boots accidentally wanders in and finds herself surrounded by shopping trolleys.
Synchronised trolleys
Wait a second - they're not ne'er-do-wells. They're trained dancers!
Boogie wonderland
For the second verse and chorus, she accidentally wanders into a backstreet dance battle. Like I told you, she's new in town. But it's all rather jolly.
More boogie wonderland
For the middle eight, she accidentally wanders into a local dogging spot. Because she is, after all, new in town.
Hope she doesn't catch a cold
We end with Little Boots staring dolefully out of the car window, as at the start. Meaning that she dreamed the entire thing.
More boohoo
And there you have it. A quite good video. The song itself doesn't really do it for me yet, but I'll give it some more time. It sounds like the Human League, and I love the Human League. So some more time. I don't want to be one of those people who huffs and puffs that "the earlier stuff is better".
But at least I'm not this YouTube commentor:

"i really liked her better with dark brown hair and when she was with dead disco"

Just let it go. Dead Disco were not bad, but the rest of us have moved on.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Five new bands for the bank holiday

Synth! YAY!
Another chance for my irregular feature on new bands. Five of them. For the weekend bank holiday. Enjoy yourself.
1) Blues Roses Acoustic loveliness from the Bradfordian formerly known as Laura Groves (pictured). Album out NOW.
2) Soft Toy Emergency Liverpudlian whippersnappers making bouncy electro pop. I think they rehearse in a studio over the road from my flat. That makes me feel like a weird stalker.
3) The Yeah You's Literally everybody has been going on about these two chaps. Well, I've seen them mentioned in a few places. And now it's my turn. Their pop songs are rather splendid. Somehow, I managed to get through this paragraph without mentioning their lackadaisical approach to grammar. Oh wait. Damnation.
4) The Whiskycats Rabble-rousing Mancunian folksters, featuring trumpet. I'm told they know how to throw a good party. This is a very important component of becoming a good band. However, I'm still waiting for my invitation to arrive.
5) Menya 'Electro crunk' New York trio. A bit like CSS, but fuzzier.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Yeah Yeah Yeahs confusion

Here is the May issue of The Stool Pigeon:
Photoshopped YYYs
I do enjoy reading The Stool Pigeon. It tells me about all the cool new bands I should be listening to. And don't the Yeah Yeah Yeahs look spanky on the cover? Jonathan Safran-Foer (at right) is looking a bit Photoshopped. The shadow doesn't match his cheekbones, but nevermind. I don't think The Stool Pigeon has demanded he digitally slim down.
The tagline, however, confuses me. I understand that Father Christmas has reindeers called Donner and Blitzen, and the new YYYs album is called It's...
Blitz...but what's Donna got to do with it? And why slip in the German connective? Perhaps Karen O and co have gone...
ZenAnd they sound very...
But come on. It just doesn't quite make sense. Or maybe I just don't get it. Can you explain?

Monday, 27 April 2009

My vision's gone on Euro

It's the time of year when the bluebells are blooming, the lambs are frollicking and my thoughts are turning to Eurovision. I like it, OK? I just really, really like it. Not even ironically. Also, Moscow 2009 will have revised voting rules (a mixture of viewer votes and "professional juries"), which could potentially even out some of the block voting.
So far, I'm not impressed with the BBC's coverage, which has been a mixture of Graham Norton derision and Andrew Lloyd Webber schmaltz. Jade Ewen, the UK entry, does have a brilliant voice and looks good in a floor-length frock, but it all looks like an advert for Sir Andrew's West End franchises. However, the BBC's Eurovision website does have videos of all the contestants. I've given some of them a listen, and will detail the most... interesting below. Unfortunately there's not enough time in my day to listen to them all. Have you seen how many countries fall within the Eurovision Song Contest boundaries? Loads, that's how many. And not all of them will make the final.

Country Czech Republic
Song and artist 'Aven Romale' [Come On Gypsies] by
Concept Superhero hip hop gypsy punks with a glimmer of Queen.
Douze points? A less sophisticated version of Gogol Bordello, so probably not. It's ironic too, so I doubt it will make the final. Casual observers think the competition is full of these novelty entries, but Eurovision isn't too kind on songs that laugh at themselves (please see Spain's 2008 entry, 'Baila el Chiki-chiki' by Rodolfo Chikilicuatre). Because, by extension, they might be laughing at the entire song contest. And if that happens we might as well just forget the whole thing and sit at home, crying over a Celine Dion DVD.

Country Norway
Song and artist 'Fairytale' by Alexander Rybak (pictured at top)
Concept Chirpy lament for a former sweetheart based around traditional Norwegian fiddles, performed by a child prodigy. Alexander claims to be 22, but looks at least 12. His opening lyric is 'years ago, when I was younger'. He must be referring to when he was a foetus.
Douze points? Yes. At first I wasn't sure, mainly because Alexander looks like a more impish Richard Fleeschman. After two more listens, I like it because it's so proud to be Norwegian. Who wants a musically homogenised Europe? Not I. On my third listen I was starting to convince myself it's the best Eurovision song I've ever heard, and that Alexander Rybak - with his cheeky good looks and folk fiddling - is the new Patrick Wolf. After briefly cross-referencing with 'The Magic Position', I am obviously wrong. Yet if 'Fairytale' wasn't structured so rigidly and dismissed the cheesy backing singers, it could be sort of Patrick Wolf-esque, don't you think? If you close your eyes. And squint a bit.

Country Greece
Song and artist 'This Is Our Night' by Sakis Rouvas
Concept Uplifting Euro-dance fronted by a smouldering Adonis. With a massive, truck-driver key change at the end. It just makes me want to wave my arms aloft in admiration of Greece. I like Eurovision entries that aren't embarrassed to declare their intention to win (especially Lithuania's audacious 2006 entry). When Sakis promises 'this is our night / fly to the top, baby / yes we can do it / just wait and see' he doesn't just mean you and me. He means the entire nation of Greece.
Douze points? Why not? It's triumphant, euphoric and reminds me of Sash! circa 1997. And this Sakis fellow looks like a nice chap. His English-language Wikipedia entry is full of salacious rumours, but I don't believe any of it.
Country Ireland
Song and artist 'Et Cetera' by Sinead Mulvery & Black Daisy
Concept Girlie power punk pop without the attitude, wit and balls of Helen Love or Period Pains. It's got guitars on. Strumming power chords. Which, ever since Bill and Ted, has been the official sound of teenage rebellion. If you're wondering why Sinead gets top billing, I think it's because she once played Cinderella in a Dublin pantomime.
Douze points? Non! Nul points! It's a very lame approximation of rock and roll, styled by Tammy Girl. Ladies, put the guitars down and unclip the pink hair extensions.

Elsewhere, Lithuania are sending Justin Timberfake, while Denmark are making do with Fake Ronan Keating. Bosnia & Herzegovina have good betting odds, but I found their entry too boring to get through the second chorus. Also, memo to Belgium: who do you think you are? Jimmy Ray?
And now you know everything you need to know about the Eurovision Song Contest 2009.

Sunday, 26 April 2009


My dear friend Matt asked me what Lady GaGa has for lunch. I didn't know. But he showed me:
Just Ham... gonna be ok

Saturday, 25 April 2009

The double gig

Zarif's drum Last night I double-gigged. And I love doing the double-gig. Rushing across town between venues makes me feel so important and in demand. Well, it wasn't much of a rush. More of a stroll down the road.
The evening started in Liverpool Barfly, which I affectionately call the Baffly. That's because a lot of their line-ups baffle me, and it sounds like Barfly. A double-pun for a double-gig. Clever. My friends Cayelle were playing. They were a bit rusty but did well. I still think they should exploit their strengths and write songs about things they know about, such as tax issues, engineering and Numb3rs. They could be the North West's premier nerdcore band.
After this it was off to Korova for Zarif. She's the new Lily Allen or something like that. We arrived early and had to admire her bass drum for a while (see picture). Quite a while, in fact. But late stage times are just Korova's thing. Luckily, the upstairs bar has CCTV screens, so you can monitor what's happening in the gig venue and decide when it's the optimal time to go downstairs. Too early and you'll have to sit through the soundcheck. Too late and you'll struggle to find a space (although last night that wasn't a problem, with about 20 or 30 people - a bit disappointing for a free gig on a Friday night). As soon as I headed downstairs with my friends we were accosted by two braying City boy types. They were loudly yah-yah-yahing and wearing shirts. Not the Ben Sherman ones you get in TK Maxx either. One of them had slicked-back hair. They might as well have carried a sign declaring "We're not from around here". I'm all for mixing it up and meeting the variety society has to offer, but some people are just twerps. When we politely refused to sit on a sofa with them, they brayed "don't be such a homosexual!" Shudder.
Zarif and her session band were a pleasant surprise. I'd been expecting Remi Nicole Part II, but Zarif was much better than that. Brassy, funky and summery. Uncannily similar to Amy Winehouse circa Frank, yes, but somehow different. Plus her star-shaped earring matched her star-shaped tambourine. How lovely. I was enjoying her set. So were the City boys, who salsa-danced at the front with their accompanying blondes. Berks.
At the end of her set my applause was sincere. "I like this," I thought to myself. "I'm going to add her on MySpace." But then it hit me. She knows those City boys. She's friends with them. Oh Lord. Maybe I don't like her after all.

Friday, 24 April 2009

When's the next Justin Timberlake album out?

It feels like I've been seeing and hearing a lot from Justin Timberlake recently. That T.I. song. That new Ciara song. That Madonna song. And he was hanging around -menacingly - in the background of that Rihanna video. He's starting to look a man who doesn't want a night out to end because he can't face the stiffling loneliness of going home alone. You know the type. It's 4am, the clubs are shut and the afterparty's winding down but they still won't let you leave.
Then a thought occurred in my brain: shouldn't there be a new Justin Timberlake album on the way? It's nearly three years since FutureSex/LoveSounds. However, Rolling Stone confirm otherwise. Unless it's an elaborate double bluff from Timberlake. Maybe he's actually going to unlease a spectacular new album next month, which he's been secretly recording in his bathroom. Hmmm. Seems unlikely.
Does it even matter if we don't get a new JT album? I don't mean this year. I mean ever. If Justin doesn't get around to making a third solo album, I'm ok with that. It's a big commitment: two years (at least) of writing, recording, promoting and touring. FutureSex/LoveSounds and Justified are two very good albums (the former is the better one, obviously, as you might guess from the name of this blog. Charlie Brooker might disagree.). Not many people get to release even one half-decent album, so maybe we should be satisfied with that. I'd prefer Justin to carry on with his collaborations, cameo movie parts and Saturday Night Live skits than have him releasing a succession of increasingly mediocre albums. Yes, I am looking at you, Britney.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Songs that Girls Aloud should cover

Actually, I'm not saying that Girls Aloud should cover the following songs. But they could. If Xenomania wanted a day off, or Jo Whiley summoned them to the Live Lounge (again).

Tuneage (This Is Not A) Love Song by Public Image Ltd
That's a brilliant idea This song is a parping, rousing post-punk foot-stomper. It's based on a contradiction, similar to Sexy! No No No... John Lydon repeatedly snarls 'this is not a love song', but there's something about the way he sings it that makes me think it is.
Then again, maybe not Do Girls Aloud really want to be tackling free enterprise through a pop song? Also, French dance music supremo David Guetta recorded a dark, synth-led version in 2007. (Did you know the French verb 'guetter' means 'to watch for'?)
Lead vocalist Sarah. She could take on John Lydon. Easily.

Tuneage The Facts of Life by Black Box Recorder
That's a brilliant idea Girls Aloud are somehow quintessentially British. And so are Black Box Recorder, who write songs about cups of tea, motorway service stations and queueing for the bus in the rain.
Then again, maybe not It's not much of a song, is it? More of a spoken lament for missed adolescent opportunities.
Lead vocalist Kimberly. She's the slightly prim one. And don't pretend to me that you wouldn't want to hear her cooing 'experimentation, familiarisation... it's all a nature walk'.

Tuneage No More I Love You's by Annie Lennox
That's a brilliant idea Girls Aloud have underachieved with slow numbers. This one isn't quite a ballad, but it has a very lovely chorus.
Then again, maybe not It's a little bit too kooky. Remember the male backing dancers dressed in as ballerinas? And the vocals jump around a lot. Even more than Annie's eyebrows in the video.
Lead vocalist Nicola. She's my favourite. She's kind of glacial.

Tuneage Unchained Melody by Everybody
That's a brilliant idea Everybody else has done this. Robson and Jerome, Gareth Gates, everybody. Girls Aloud might as well make their contribution to the most covered song of the 20th Century.
Then again, maybe not What was once a poignant song is now just a hackneyed, karaoke staple.
Lead vocalist Cheryl. The nation's sweetheart can do her dewy-eyed, wobbly jelly chin thing and we'll all blub in a sad (yet joyous) way with quiet obedience.

Tuneage I Know What Boys Like by the Waitresses
That's a brilliant idea Sassy post-punk pop about attracting male attention, but waving it away. With a massive saxophone solo.
Then again, maybe not Shouty bubblegum poppettes Shampoo released a version in the mid-90s. It reached number 42. But who cares about chart positions? It was a more than respectable effort.
Lead vocalist They can all have a go. Especially the 'boys like, boys like, boys like [hand clap] me'.

Tuneage Maybe by the Chantels (also the Shangri-Las, and Janis Joplin)
That's a brilliant idea Yes, it is a rather brilliant idea. Girls Aloud acknowledged their debt to 1960s girl groups in the video for The Promise. And didn't they look lovely in those sparkly dresses? Maybe is almost a canonical song for 1960s girl groups. It's a beautiful, heart-breaker of a song about yearning for a lost love affair. Even in the opening lyric it manages to reach out and touch you ('maybe if I pray every night / you'll come back to me'). Which a lot of songs fail to do in three or four minutes.
Then again, maybe not Nope. I can't think of any reason why this couldn't work. It's just a really, really good song. It's practically transcendent.
Lead vocalist Nadine. She's got the biggest voice. Sorry, rest of Girls Aloud.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

I like driving in my car

People seem to rather enjoy La Roux's In For The Kill as it's been steadily climbing the singles charts. At this rate, it'll be number one in another two months. But, in the video, where is she driving in her car?

There's only three possible answers.
1) The garage, to fill up the tank and buy some Rizlas.
2) An exotic location in order to exact violent revenge on someone who wronged her, as in a Tarantino film.
3) The Eighties.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Do It Yourself

Karen got on the email. She wanted to tell me about the RPM Challenge, which I am now telling you about. It's a NaNoWriMo for bands, where the challenge is to record an album during February. Which 833 musicians/bands eagerly did this year. And now you can skidaddle over there to listen.
Another similar website is SellaBand, where artists sell $10 shares in the hope of raising $50,000 to record an album. 50,000 sounds like a lot of dollars for some bands. You know, not very good bands. Then again, ProTools isn't cheap. And you need to know how to use it. Spunky Japanese rockers Electric Eel Shock shifted their shares in eight weeks, and are now recording. Good for them.
What's the point of all this? I like hearing about people getting on with things themselves and (hopefully) having a bit of fun in the process. Scrolling through all those bands and singer-songwriters made me realise just how many people out there are making music, or trying to make music. Obviously, a lot of it will be a bit rubbish. From the RPM Challenge, I listened to an Edinburgh band called The ZX81s. I picked them because I thought if they named themselves after an early home computer, they might sound like Kraftwerk. They don't sound like Kraftwerk but are still rather good. So well done.