Saturday, February 28, 2009

Big in Japan

Interesting video for new single from Sweden's Peter Bjorn & John. A children's choir and Japanese bikers/ b-boys (who also line dance and leap-frog!) join forces to create this masterstroke of musical enjoyment fine piece of art.

Video :: Nothing To Worry About by Peter Bjorn & John

Song :: Nothing To Worry About by Peter Bjorn & John

"Do this thing, this type of thing
Put a little money in this type of thing
I got nothing to worry about
I got nothing to worry about"

Thursday, February 26, 2009

We Need Love

A new one from Pet Shop Boys. This song is excellent - not sure PSB have ever done anything half-assed actually. Great bouncy video as well featuring some fine video-game themed choreography! Never mind youtube, this one needs to be seen in its highest quality (currently available on PSB's homepage):

Video :: Love etc. by Pet Shop Boys

New album, Yes, to be released in late March.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I need someone to set a pick for me at the free-throw line of life

Never going out of style… from 1974:

Song :: Basketball Jones by Cheech and Chong w/ George Harrison (guitar) & Michelle "Mama" Phillips (backing vox)
Video :: Basketball Jones by Cheech and Chong


Best observation of Obama’s Feb 23 address to Congress (Scott Feschuk):
9:44 “This is America - we don’t do what’s easy, we do what’s necessary to move this country forward.” Dear Mr. President: Your nation is home to a company that manufactures frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and markets them by claiming that their product “removes all the hassle” from making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. As though people previously seeking such a sandwich would first have had to toil for hours in the jelly mines. And people actually buy this product. Believe me, sir: sometimes your country does what’s easy.

Irish Step Dancing by Mozzer

Song :: Lighten Up, Morrissey by Sparks
Video :: Lighten Up, Morrissey by Sparks

Friday, February 20, 2009

That’s How People Grow Up

As if it is not obvious, no one single “celebrity” has had a greater influence on my life than Morrissey. I continue to wish for but two things in this world (you know, beyond health and untold riches, etc): a Stanley Cup championship for the Vancouver Canucks (not bloody likely) and a reformation of The Smiths (less bloody likely given Rourke and Joyce sued Moz and Marr for performance royalties - and won - over a decade ago… they are all still alive however so the slim hope of a reunion has that going for it at least)

“And as sure as my words are pure, I praised the day that brings you pain. So don't close your eyes, don't close your eyes. A man who slits throats has time on his hands and I'm gonna get you” Morrissey lyric directed at Smiths drummer Mike Joyce, from “Sorrow Will Come In The End”

Morrissey has been a solo artist since 1988 and has, for the most part, employed the same set of songwriters since 1991; Boz Boorer and Alain Whyte. There have been many gems in that 18 year period but still the overall quality does tend to pale in comparison to the output from Morrissey’s alliance with Johnny Marr in The Smiths - a time spanning a paltry 6 years. With a song writing style rooted in their first love (Rockabilly of all things), Boorer and Whyte obviously have limitations in what they are able to bring to the table. I’m continually surprised that Morrissey has lasted this long with them, especially given his penchant for firing pretty much everyone he has ever come into contact with (sounds like a bit of a bastard doesn’t he? quiet those thoughts!). Morrissey’s song-writing partnership with Johnny Marr was such that he was able to weave his words throughout the layered music in a way that produced wholly original songs contrary to the traditional song structure of verse-chorus-verse. He mostly abandoned this style as he shifted from young, gladiola-waving popstar to aging crooner… and for this I’ll blame the musicians.

So how much can we expect from a new Morrissey album when it contains songwriters who have proven to be capable, yet far from inspired to run (or even saunter) off in any new musical direction? As a singer who plays no instrument, Morrissey is highly reliant on his musicians. Add to this the fact that Morrissey, who turns an un-popstarish 50 in May, has long since narrowed his vocal range (or so they say) and reduced his sphere of lyrical influence from humdrum Manchester’s council estates to the not-so-humdrum surroundings of Beverley Hills and Roma and you have the makings of a (don’t say it too loud) washed-up artist.

Those of us who continue to purchase his records do so for Morrissey the brand - that being his voice, his biting, witty lyrics and that whole fey yet vicious persona he’s so shrewdly developed. We also hope that the music will improve slightly and have less conventional structure. Unfortunately Morrissey’s latter-day lyrics are mostly reduced to convenient sound bites in that there are no more earth-shattering songs filled with lyrical wonder. The song titles are often as witty as it gets these days. We all know this, but will take whatever we’re given nonetheless.

And, despite all this, what we’re given with Years Of Refusal - the new album that came out earlier this week - is actually quite good. The Moz continues to shine and somehow he pulls off a pretty darn good record out of nothing. Or at least this is what I think at the moment. I can’t tell if I like it because it’s good or I like it because I feel like I have to like it. Although Years Of Refusal is newly released, two of the tracks found here were available last year as part of an official Best Of album well in advance of YOR’s release. Other songs were leaked months ago. The title “Years Of Refusal” even sounds like a Best Of compilation or a possible title for Morrissey’s rumoured forthcoming biography. As confusing as all this may be, it has nothing on how confused and disoriented I felt when I happened upon “Years Of Refusal” the other day down yonder at the local WalMart. Morrissey at Wal-friken-Mart!?! One step up from the bargain bin, this still represents the horrific equivalent to finding your favourite radio-friendly band’s CD on display at a Truck Stop where the counter-top selection is generally limited to U2, Roy Orbison, Conway Twitty and all those other artists claiming to have “sold more records than Elvis!!!”

Morrissey has had a slight resurgence in popularity in recent years, not that the average joe would have noticed. His two “comeback albums”, 2004’s “…Quarry” and 2006’s “Ringleader…” were hailed as a return to form after seven years in new-material exile following 1997’s critically panned Maladjusted. And yes, his two newer albums were marked by improved vocals and the instrumentation appeared to be crisper and much more dynamic. Still, these are not the easiest albums to listen all the way through as the music is fairly uninspired and some songs tend to circle the wagons and feel like they go on forever.

What appears to make “Years Of Refusal” a success is that the songs have an increased energy, the lyrics are a bit more biting and quite simply his voice is in better form than in other recent work. His vocals are still too up front in the mix but unfortunately you can not expect anything less from singers with their names in lights. One of YOR’s more stellar tracks, “Shame Is The Name”, not only skips along at a decent pace, weaves in some lovely piano and harmonica AND features - though barely distinguishable - backing vox by Pretender Chrissie Hynde, but is also a bonus iTunes-only track and not available from WalMart.

Song :: Something Is Squeezing My Skull

Video :: That's How People Grow Up by Morrissey (live on Letterman) in June 2007 for chrisakes!

I was wasting my life
Always thinking about myself,
Someone on their deathbed said:
"There are other sorrows too."

I was driving my car,
I crashed and broke my spine,
So yes, there are things worse in life than
never being someone's sweetie

That’s how people grow up

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Presets

The excellent street-dancing video for "If I Know You" from Australian dance outfit The Presets...

Tonight, if we learn that the world's on fire
I guess I'll turn to you
I hope I never, I hope I never have to

Video :: If I Know You by The Presets

Who organized all my ex-girlfriends into a choir?

Risking the chance that this site may be deemed an FOTC tribute blog, here's more genius from Flight Of The Conchords that lives out every guy's greatest fear (?)...
Video :: Carol Brown by Flight Of The Conchords


And more from Fever Ray, sounding so The Knife-like that one wonders what the brother in the band actually did. The video for "When I Grow Up" is slightly on the opposite end of the spectrum from FOTC's offerings. Nice diving board gyrations however!

When I Grow Up from Fever Ray on Vimeo.

"When I Grow Up" song available here

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I find you in everything that I do

In an attempt to be a little more discerning, I have sat on most of these for a while now, rendering them true keepers under the somewhat lofty title of The Best Of The Past Few Months (Or So)… Video Roundup ::

Seattle - The BPA featuring Emmy The Great
Norman Cook, as The BPA, is doing that imported singer/ 808 State/ Chemical Brothers thing these days. Emmy The Great’s vocals work wonders here and the video is currently at number one on my kiddo’s video charts - though they do get freaked out every time Fat Boy’s features rotate into the frame. Cook produces nothing new here, in fact the album “I Think We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat” has been getting particularly bad reviews. But for all the stock beats and musical clichés, previous single “Toe Jam” is excellent and “Seattle” remains a catchy, happy tune… In America:
Video :: Seattle by The BPA feat. Emmy The Great

Song :: Seattle by The BPA feat. Emmy The Great

Fot i Hose – Casiokids
Another popular vid with the kiddos. Infectious, catchy tune and a (moderately) original video concept to boot. And now we know what makes that distinctive fuzzy slartibartfast sound: the mere flicking of a switch (puts my Triangle playing ambitions to shame!) There’s also a hint of surf-guitar. Casiokids are from Norway (the new Sweden).
Video :: Fot i Hose by Casiokids

If I Had A Heart - Fever Ray
Dark and strange, expertly shot offering from Karin Dreijer Andersson, the female half of the Swedish electronica brother-sister act The Knife. Very Knife'ish...
Video :: If I Had A Heart by Fever Ray

If I Had A Heart from Fever Ray on Vimeo.

Airport Surroundings - Loney Dear
Straight ahead pursuit-video from Emil Svanängen’s latest:
Video :: Airport Surroundings by Loney Dear

Hurt Feelings by Flight of the Conchords
New FOTC track continues their winning tradition:
Video :: Hurt Feelings by Flight of the Conchords

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I don't want to have sex with you

Belgian electro-indie-pop duo performing their shouty track starring my grandpa:

Video :: I don't want to have sex with you by Soldout

Wednesday, February 4, 2009