i’m obsessed with the mess that’s america…

“Hollywood infected your brain
You wanna kiss it in the rain
Oh oh, I’ve been living in a movie scene
Thinking American dreams
Oh oh, I’m obsessed with the mess that’s America
I’m obsessed with the mess that’s America”

I’d say it’s becoming quite evident that Marina Diamandis aka Marina & The Diamonds is quickly proving that she is not the woman to take lightly. If her first official single taken from her forthcoming debut record The Family Jewels, Mowgli’s Road displayed her penchant for whimsy, the followup Hollywood shows her cojones pretty boldly. She’s got something to say, not afraid to say it and this time the good ol’ US of A is in her crosshairs.

Now I’m very aware that dissing the States is a well-worn path to generating applause in the rest of the world, scorn Stateside all the while ensuring plenty of publicity throughout. There will also be many haters, armchair patriots and defenders of Old Glory who will chastise the concept of a silly pop artist, a pop artist who isn’t American no less, who has the audacity to drag America and everything she stands for through the mud. To those people, I say, give it a rest before you even start. Is Marina being an attention-whore ensuring she is on the mouths of the music buying public in America and the UK a month before the album drops? Perhaps… Is it a move doomed to fail? Possibly? Is it gutsy above all else? Heck yes! Is the song any good? Without question.

Hollywood takes our disposition to idolise our pop culture heroes and throws it back in our faces with the help of a very funny video. The video, as camp as it may be, delivers the point quite clearly. This is what good pop music does. A lesson bands like the Bravery could learn is that pop music when done right not only has the ability to whip the listener into an emotional frenzy but also gives the listener a purpose. It makes us think. About love. About ourselves. How we feel at this present moment. About the world around us and our place in it. This is the first pop song in a while by a new artist who had the gumption to buck the trend and not be satisfied with a simple pop hook or two to get the word out in hopes of making her the nest pop icon. This isn’t Lady Gaga. Marina’s brand of pop is something more sinister, more genuine. If the USA can’t handle it, we’re in worse shape than we ever imagined.

Marina & The Diamonds on MySpace
Marina & The Diamonds on Facebook
Marina & The Diamonds on Twitter

“Hollywood” by Marina & The Diamonds, taken from the forthcoming 678/Atlantic release, “The Family Jewels”

hey! the fakery’s back!

“And all of my dreams are only dreams
And all of my schemes are only schemes
And if this is my punishment
Then I want my crime to fit”

I’ll keep this one short and sweet. I don’t like the Fakery, the band better known to the world as The Bravery.  You want contrived? Check? You want boring? Check? You want lacking in ideas and a band bereft of any inclination towards anything resembling a tune. You’ve got the Bravery. Here’s their new single called Slow Poison. Enjoy it now because I’m sure you’ll forget about it by this coming Tuesday, the first of December when the record Stir The Blood is released.

Before I get the hate comments, let me simply state that I thought the self-titled debut record was decent enough with songs like Unconditional & An Honest Mistake. The problem for me was simply that a) the record did not meet the hype which was really not their fault, to be fair. b) much like the The Fillers’ Hot Mess aka The Killers’ Hot Fuss, the record was extremely top heavy and by the second half, you knew what you were getting, weren’t floored by what you heard before and found yourself filing the record away in your cabinet.  That’s not what I want from the music I listen to. I want something vital. I want something to fall in love with the process of discovering music all over again. Never mind the fact that if you listen closely, the chorus closely resembles that of Bombers Bay by Echo & The Bunnymen, it only adds to the Bravery’s list of crimes against humanity. It all adds up to why The Fakery simply don’t do it for me and there you have it.

The Bravery on MySpace
The Bravery on Facebook
The Bravery on Twitter

“Slow Poison” by The Bravery, taken from the forthcoming Island/Def Jam release, “Stir The Blood”

simply massive…

After long last, it is official. There is a new record from the trip-hop giants known as Massive Attack. Ladies and gents, welcome to Heligoland! Not too long ago, I waxed poetic about the first single from the record called Splitting The Atom. It caused quite a stir throughout the blogosphere as one would expect when talking about such an influential act such as the Attack. It’s awesome to finally have something to look forward to in the new year. The record is out in the UK 8 February and hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for news on the US release. It’s about time…

The tracklisting shall be as follows…

Pray For Rain
Splitting The Atom
Girl I Love You
Flat Of The Blade
Paradise Circus
Rush Minute
Saturday Come Slow
Atlas Air

if you’re feeling sinister, get well soon…

“This time we will end it
This life ain’t got no future, girl
Don’t say it’s not my business
It’s tragic you don’t feel my pity
Just think of all the others
What they think they feel they say
But the letters are not golden
Till they write them on your tombstone, girl”

It isn’t often when you come across a piece of music so cold and so relentlessly haunting that you simply must take your temperature afterwards to make sure you haven’t lost a couple of degrees. Coming across Germany’s Konstantin Gropper who performs under the moniker Get Well Soon, it was quite a revelation to see that dark chamber pop music isn’t dead. Gropper’s new record entitled Vexations is due out in January but methinks I won’t be able to wait that long to get my grubby paws on this record based solely on the beauty of the first single featured here entitled If This Hat Is Missing I Have Gone Hunting.

I hesitate to use the words goth or gothic to describe the song or the artist simply because of how cliche and boring the genre is but there are definite overtones here right down to the accordion, the minor chords and of course, Gropper’s stentorian baritone vocals. It really is a beautiful track. Granted the song lyrically talks of rationalising suicide from a man to his girl, it is still a very pretty arrangement and still a quite brilliant pop moment in my humble opinion.

If you’re like me and not afraid to delve into the darker shade of pop music, definitely give Get Well Soon. They should find a bigger audience with the new record and it would be well deserved! It’s out 25 January via City Slang.


Get Well Soon on MySpace

“If This Hat Is Missing I Have Gone Hunting” by Get Well Soon, taken from the forthcoming City Slang release, “Vexations”

this is like a flashback…

“I’m coming round and now my vision is so clear
If I could change my state of mind then I would disappear
The love I get from you is something I can’t chance
And I could let you slip away without a second glance

Oh hai, Calvin! You’re back! Third time’s the charm, eh? Your new record Ready For The Weekend has been playing at Chez Billy for quite a spell now and I must commend you on this most solid choice of a third single. Continuing in the arena electro you’ve been on, Flashback does not deviate from that path one iota. One part kitchen-sink drama and two parts non-stop fist-pumping action and all fire. It’s hard to say which track is my personal favourite from the record but it’s safe to say that so far you’re coming up aces in what songs are being tapped for mass consumption and I do believe the masses are consuming! By the way, I better see some free tix coming my way when you come back to New York. These glowing words of praise don’t come cheap, ya know?

Your pal, Billy!

Calvin Harris on MySpace
Calvin Harris on Facebook
Calvin Harris on Twitter

“Flashback” by Calvin Harris, taken from the Ultra release, “Ready For The Weekend”

could you wanna take my picture?

Always nice to hear some new tunes from a band with a very bright future ahead of them. You may remember I first mentioned the delectable British electro-pop band Heads We Dance back in May and took quite a liking to their bouncy poptastic sound. The band is now back with what they surely hope will be a smash hit in the UK and beyond. This one is called Take My Picture. Take a little bit of dueling male/female vocals a la Don’t You Want Me?, add a foot-stomping chorus and you’ve got a song worthy of being called a single. I’m personally rooting for these guys to get their name out there and it goes without saying that you should do the same. The single is out 14 December via Gash Digital. Need I say more?

Heads We Dance on MySpace
Heads We Dance on Facebook
Heads We Dance on Twitter

“Take My Picture”, taken from the forthcoming Gash Digital release, “Take My Picture/After Dark”

whatever happened to the muslims?

I’ve recently made a revelation.

Most, if not all, of the music I’ve been covering in this here blog has been focused primarily on artists and bands who call New York or England their home. Naturally there have been some rare exceptions along the way but for the most part I’ve been kind of predictable. Allow me the opportunity to make a slight deviation from my tried and true formula. I’d like to present a pretty spiffy indie rock band that’s been making some waves for the past year but is about ready to drop their eponymous debut that will be sure to rattle the senses soon enough. The best part? They’re not from New York and they’re not from London or Manchester either!

Nope. The Soft Pack come to us from the sunny and very friendly confines of San Diego, California. When this band first started out, they were known as the Muslims. Personally I thought the Muslims was a great name and rather ballsy given the current climate we find ourselves in. Unfortunately since we tend to share our planet and on a more micro level, a music scene with bumbling and stumbling idiots, the Muslims thought it better to change their name. Luckily for us, the name change was not followed by a change in sound. This quartet brings their tightly wound and rapid fire assault on the nerves in the form of The Soft Pack, the self-titled debut via Kemado Records on 2 February.

If you’ve happened to catch these guys in concert in the last couple of years sharing the stage with the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Phoenix, White Lies and Friendly Fires, you know that the songs are brief in length but simply blistering and full of panic. Just the way we like it. The lead-off single taken from the record entitled Answer To Yourself should serve as a more than acceptable introduction to the band for those previously unaware. Very accessible. Very poppy and oh so hummable. Is 2010 the year of the Pack? I dare say we are about to find out…

The Soft Pack on MySpace
The Soft Pack on Facebook
The Soft Pack on Twitter

“Answer To Yourself” by The Soft Pack, taken from the forthcoming Kemado release, “The Soft Pack”