staying with the theme of the “fear”…

“I want to be rich and I want lots of money
I don’t care about clever I don’t care about funny
I want loads of clothes and fuckloads of diamonds
I heard people die while they are trying to find them

I’ll take my clothes off and it will be shameless
‘Cuz everyone knows that’s how you get famous
I’ll look at the sun and I’ll look in the mirror
I’m on the right track yeah I’m on to a winner”

 

 

The world can rejoice again! Why, you ask? Well, that’s because with a new year we have the imminent return to our cd players, iPods and hearts of one Lily Allen. The first single taken from her sophomore record, It’s Not Me, It’s You entitled The Fear has made its way to Youtube and her MySpace.  If you, like me, fell in love with her first record, Alright, Still, which featured the singles Smile and my personal favourite, LDN,  you will notice immediately the ska influence that dominated in those singles has been replaced by a very sleek electronic pop sheen. Does this make The Fear any less of a pop gem? I think not! Say what you will about Lily judging from what’s written about her in the UK rags but the girl does know her way around a melody and her lyrics are indescribably more clever than she’s given credit for as evidenced by the first verse posted above. 

After seeing success the first time out and discovering the perils that go along with being a young, pretty recording artist with a taste for the drink,  The Fear, has Lily telling us about the fatalities of fame and all that goes with it. Take an Alice In Wonderland-ish video (which reportedly only cost 50,000 pounds to make) and a pop-tastic sound and you’ve got yourself a lead-off single to one of the more highly anticipated records of the year.

yes, this fear’s got a hold on me…

“Floating neither up or down i wonder when i’ll hit the ground
well the earth beneath my body shake
and cast your sleeping hearts awake
could it tremble stars from moon light skies
could it drag a tear from your cold eyes
i live on the right side i sleep in the left
that’s why everything’s got to be love or death”

 

Wow. The return of guitar solos! Who would’ve thought? From the ashes of indie pop band Fear of Flying we bear witness to the rise of White Lies. Nothing warms the cockles of my heart more than a band unafraid to say what people shudder at the mere thought of:  The beauty of death. Such a delicate topic to discuss and examine. Difficult to truly describe with a true sense of perspective for obvious reasons but the majesty of this single rests with the gentle yet stern vocals of Harry McVeigh and the teeming intensity resting in the music as it builds to a rip-roaring chorus.  I can see the Interpol, Editors and lazy Joy Division comparisons on the horizon. Ugh.

NB: If you haven’t noticed yet, I am a big fan of the big chorus payoff.

“Death” by White Lies is right up there on my lists of best songs of 2008.  One listen and you’ll see what I mean. This is truly a band to watch as the singles released to date including Unfinished Business and the title track to their forthcoming record, To Lose My Life exhibit a band that’s unafraid to lay in the dark recesses of your mind and provide the soundtracks to your darkest thoughts. The record is out in January in the UK via Fiction. No word on a US date as yet but you can be sure I will keep you posted. 

Yes, this fear’s got a hold on me.

the classics – epmd

“When I come around homeboy, watch your nugget
I master on the beat down, my style’s rugged
When I attack the microphone, close the zone
Rap sees danger, can’t roam
Security is packed and wall to wall can’t fall
A rap tank is full so I can’t stall
My microphone is filled with premium
Any whack M.C. that flexes, I’m creamin’ ’em
Not with lotion, bust the motion, flotation
When I’m rockin’ the mike I’m like coastin’
Underneath fatigue at my peak
You still seek the style ’cause yours is extra weak
New method, rip the stage at my age and get loose and kick
Like Bruce in a rage-I’m on a rampage”

 

Billy can get down with the hip hop and ya don’t stop like the best of them. Oh yes! When you’re talking all things rap, it really doesn’t get much better than Erick & Parrish Makin’ Dollars or as they are better known, EPMD. Straight out of Long Island in the mid 1980s, the duo became part of a new breed as Long Island, New York for a brief time became a mecca of lyrically conscious rap in a time when music in general was becoming sterile, superficial and mediocre. Along with “neighbours” in Public Enemy, Leaders of The New School and De La Soul, Long Island was on the map. 

Their debut single, “Ya Gots To Chill” was an instant classic complete with a clever sample taken from “More Bounce To The Ounce” by Zapp and the debut album, “Strictly Business” became a classic and is still alive today when you listen to the works of Nas, Jay-Z, Immortal Technique among others. After a long sabbatical, the duo made their long awaited return on December 9th with the brand new soon-to-be classic, “We Mean Business”. If you haven’t heard EPMD before and you call yourself a hip hop fan, do you due diligence and pick up the new record and work your way back. Start above with one of my faves “Rampage” taken from the 1990 record, “Business As Usual” featuring LL Cool J.

holy 1987, batman!

“All you want from me are three little words

but you just get me laughing, a quiet sound

I know I’m with you now but this all might end

so save all the “I love you’s” and let’s not pretend”

 

Ok. Raise your hands. Who amongst you readily admits to being an unequivocal, absolute 80’s music disciple? I will. I will say it loud and oh yes, I will say it proudly. The 80s were the last great decade of musical invention, innovation and risk-taking. The 90s did bring us britpop and the rise of techno and ugh, grunge. The 00’s brought us….an opportunity to look back and re-evaluate why the 80s were such an important decade in terms of style, pop culture and of course, the music.

One shining example of the 1980s electronic pop sound brought back with magnificent effect is the debut single by Vincent Frank, aka Frankmusik, out of Croydon, England.  Take a step into the time machine in your mind, set it to 1987 and you will see where Frank’s inspiration stems for this sizzling slice of electro. Do the names Stock, Aitken and Waterman ring a bell? Vincent learned his lessons very well in how to write a perfect pop single. His debut album sit to hit in early 2009 with supa-dupa producer, Stuart Price (Zoot Woman, Madonna, Keane, Seal, The Killers) in tow is a surefire bit to be blaring out of my stereo for weeks on end. 

If the song itself doesn’t get you, one look at the cute video will truly make you fall in love. An homage to the silly, euphoric vibe of the videos that were the standard two decades ago. We have Vincent and two very attractive girls dancing up a storm on a giant keyboard. I WANT ONE! I want to jump on the keys and have them light up with each step I take. These are the kinds of presents I want for Christmas but never get!  Anyway, enjoy the track and if you want more, check out the MySpace

i guess you’re supposed to get high…?

“Well I found a new way
I found a new way
C’mon doll and use me
I don’t need your sympathy”

 

Yes…yes indeed.  It’s been quite a while but at last! 2009 will indeed mark the return of dance-punk heroes, Franz Ferdinand.  Their new record entitled “Tonight…Franz Ferdinand” makes its way Stateside on 27 January via Domino/Epic and if it’s anything like the first two records, you can expect Billy here to be very happy. Very happy. 

For starters, the leadoff single, “Ulysses” is making its way ’round the blogosphere and it will make its way to your iPod very soon as well. Simply a slippery, devious track we’ve got here as I would expect nothing less from the new Scottish gentry.  Opening with a simple bass line which gives way Alex Kapranos imploring us to “get high”. Add in some synth which gives way to the big chorus payoff.  These guys do pop very well and if “Ulysses” is a signal of what’s come then I’m right on board once again!

so this must be christmas…

last christmas, i gave you my heart but the very next day, you gave it away. this year to save me from tears, i’ll give it to someone special”- last christmas, wham!

Another Christmas has come upon us….
As usual, I feel the same way I always do which tends to be a combination of boredom, indifference and an overall, all-encompassing sense of “blah-ness”. I won’t bore you with the details. I think it’s rather cliche at this point to go into great detail how the holiday season has become nothing more than a gross exercise in greed, neglect and one-upmanship. It’s also a time where one tends to feel divorced from his fellow man if he doesn’t exactly feel like jumping for joy at the prospects of hearing yet another rendition of “’twas the night before christmas”. How did I get this way? I don’t know… Maybe because I didn’t get that gift I was begging Santa a.k.a. Mom for what seemed like months on end in advance only to find out I got a pair of socks. Could that be it? Nah… Could it be a bitter breakup with a significant other who I could have sworn up and down to anyone who would have listened that she was the one? Nah…

Suffice it to say I never got into the whole Christmas thing from a very young age and the impending sense of doom that would emerge every Black Friday within me and I would simply shrug and roll my eyes when I hear someone talking about how Christmas is the holiday for bringing people together and goodwill towards your fellow man. Ironic when you then read the newspaper to find out about a lowly Walmart employee getting trampled to death by shoppers so desperate to spread that holiday cheer they bumrush through the door with nary a care in their mad dash to grab this year’s hot toy.  I think this year it’s the Nintendo Wii if I’m not mistaken.

Who knows? I may just be in a bad mood. I hope I’m not dashing anyone’s celebration. If I am, I offer up some George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley to drive it home. Enjoy!

P.S. Welcome to my home. I am Billy Suede, the boy with the thorn in his side.