Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tesla Boy - modern thrills

This band from Russia must have wandered into the Siberian wastes some time around 1985, got frozen solid like a Mammoth and then were defrosted by global warming to return to the world of music in the 2010s with their brand of infectious synth pop.

Tesla Boy have some very good pop tunes indeed, such as the anthemic "Rebecca", which sounds like a lost A-Ha classic. "Synthetic prince" is a harder disco edged track with some great 80s dance grooves. "Thinking of you" has another great 80s dance groove and reminds me of some of the great boy bands from the early 80s especially. "Electric lady" is probably the most overtly 80s synth pop track and is terrific with its retro-futurism.

Its hard to really fault this album... you will either love it (if you are like me a synth obsessed hipster) or hate it (if you believe the 80s should have stayed dead). Maybe if you fall into the latter give it a go anyway, they hit the pop nexus for sure. Great tunes, great grooves, great synths, just great!

Monday, November 28, 2011

TOTP (04/11/1976)

Noel Edmonds is in front of a sack, and he of course makes a hilarious joke about getting the sack. No one could have predicted that of course. Pussycat remain at number 1 but to start off...

Showaddywaddy - under the moon of love
The faux 50s rockers are here, cutely their “live” performance is interspersed with a recording making earlier when they are wearing different coloured suits. Doo wah wah et cetera. Its inoffensive fun.

The Manhattans - hurt
This earnest video again, every single ounce of emotion is drawn out. The sort of song you listen to when you’ve had a break-up, a row, or broken your lava lamp and especially if all three.

Noel has all the entries for the name the dance troupe competition in a sack. He says there have been so many entries they’ve got to delay the naming until next week.

The nameless dancers are here to dance to “All right now”, that is a bit old isn’t it? Oh wait its another song that rips it off rather blatantly, in fact its the Steve Miller Band with Rock and me. The dancing looks like a rip-off too of the kind of formless shuffling Ruby Flipper mastered.

The Who - substitute
My favourite Who song is in the chart at #15 for some reason, not that i am complaining obviously. Here is some live performance from The Who. Oh yeah. I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth too. This a bit better than Showaddywaddy eh?

Bonnie Tyler - lost in France
Its not bad if your second single makes the top 30 according to Noel, of course in the 1970s it indeed was good going. A jolly tune with a bit of accordion in the background just to hammer home this song is about being lost in France. Next week Bonnie wears a beret and an onion string.

Tavares - don’t stop the music
The Tavares have stolen the world’s entire supply of dry ice. And have dressed as matadors too, they are spoiling us.

The Climax Blues Band - couldn’t get it right
A singing saxophonist! This is cool, especially as singing sax man has an appealingly low voice. As a bit of late 70s boogie woogie rock it can’t be beat.

Noel is on stage with Chicago who he thinks should be at number 1 but they arn’t so ner as its still...

Pussycat - Mississippi
We’re back on the river boat!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tramway - sweet chariot

Tramway's second single for Sarah Records was very much the first, wistful introspective indie guitar pop. "Technical college" is the A-side and is one of my favourite best Sarah songs of all, its a simple song with a few synth riffs and a lazy electric guitar melody but with a chorus that seems to transcend reality and drift you away into somewhere better. "Balla" is not as good but is another restful track though does sound a bit like an end of term larks with barely audible background chat and a rather meandering tune that ends suddenly, like the money ran out in the meter.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

TOTP (27/10/1976)

Tony Blackburn is here with the hottest pop sounds...

Alan Price - kissed away the night
We start off with a rather generic piece of mid-1970s pop-rock, it has piano and some sha-la-las and isn't much better than passable.

Tony Blackburn is wearing a t-shirt that states he hates David Hamilton, no doubt there will be a hilarious joke later on.

Chicago - if you leave me now
Tony says its the #3 sound and a lovely sound too. Its a syrupy piece of white pop-soul recorded in a studio somewhere but no doubt thousands of miles from the BBC.

OK here comes the joke, David Hamilton is wearing a t-shirt that says he hates Tony Blackburn. LOLZ

Leo Sayer - you make me feel like dancing
OK this edition of TOTP is turning into my Dad's record collection. Leo does high-pitched disco singing in a hi-tec SFX laden studio set piece with a budget of tens. I grew up on songs like this, but somehow ended up loving pop music.

Joan Armatrading - love and affection
Raising the class a bit Joan with one of her folk-rock hits, but because just seeing someone standing there with a guitar is a bit boring we get some SFX fun too. At one stage we get about 20 Joans on the screen at the same time, which quite frankly is enough for anyone.

The as-yet unnamed new dancers are here to frolic about to Lalo Schifrin's "theme from Jaws", this has to be a new low. It is unimaginably bad but does include wet suits and shark fins but maybe not in a good way. Tony pimps the contest again but don't enter now as the competition to name the dancers is over, no matter how good your entry they arn't going to rename Legs & Co. at this stage in 2011.

Simon May - the Summer of my life
Boring man at the old joanna, got to say this isn't a vintage edition of TOTP.

Wild Cherry - play that funky music
Play that funky music white boy. Is it funky though? Interesting question.

Pussycat - Mississippi
For their third week at number 1 Pussycat are live in the studio, having bored of their floating gambling den.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Ice Choir - two rings

I've been waiting for this single for a long time, ever since POBPAH's Kurt Feldman announced that the successor to his side project, the now defunct Depreciation Guild, would be the Ice Choir, of which this single is the debut. The Ice Choir is a recreation of synth heavy 80s pop, listening to the A-side you really do feel like you have discovered a lost classic from 1987 with a throbbing electronic beat. Its totally wonderful, maybe my song of the year.

The B-side, which is named after the band, is more understated but is more 80s pop inspired goodness. I've been listening to a lot of neo-synth pop lately, some of it is great, some of it is... a bit rubbish to be honest, but this (and Class Actress) is just out of this world.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Band À Part - no sé por qué

Spanish cutie indie pop on red vinyl, can anything be cooler? Answer is no of course. This is all very dinky and twee (which is of course a compliment on this blog). There is also plenty of energy in the title track and as for "Sputnik, mi amor" its just delightful. They make heavy use of twinky metal percussion, i assume they use a multi-coloured childrens' glockenspiel which is hit with gay abandon. I can't really imagine them doing anything else. "Al sue dr Portugal" has a great 60/70s pop feel too. There is so much to love on this 4 track EP.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Comics : Destination New York (Stratoship H.22 Part 2)

Tintin went to the Moon, Herge's other characters Jo, Zette and Jocko have to settle with the slightly less distant New York but its an epic journey none the same. At the end of part one the two children and their pet chimp were flying off in the experimental high-speed aircraft Stratoship H.22 - built to win a flying competition - to evade competitors bent on stopping them no matter the cost. In this concluding part of the story they end up first on a desert island and then in the Arctic.

Like the earlier volume the adventure runs at break neck speed with a heavy dose of luck and coincidence. The limitation of Jo and Zette of course was they were children not an enterprising adult like Tintin thus a lot of the time their fate is not in their hands but in adults who handily are around to save them at every turn. This does not detract too much from the story however. The plot is engaging and involves some intrigue, i think this is probably the best of the three Jo, Zette and Jocko volumes i have read to date.

It is beautifully drawn like part one, some of the best examples of ligne claire artwork i've seen and beautifully reproduced.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Orchids - the way that you move

To be quite honest i've found The Orchids' output since they reformed in the 2000s a bit patchy, overall its been pretty good but a lot of songs have been just "OK"... though a few have easily been "awesomeness personalified" and would stand up easily amongst their classic Sarah era work. Would it be any different on their latest single?

Not really, the title track is brilliant. A funky dancey pop classic with trademark laid back vocals and some tasty guitar chords. The other 2 tracks on this 7" EP are just a bit "meh". They are fine to listen to but afterwards you can't really remember much about them. Still thats why we have A sides and B sides i guess.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Comics : Mr Pump's Legacy (Stratoship H.22 Part 1)

Herge's Tintin is world famous of course and rightly so, especially with the new Hollywood movie now out (which is very good by the way) but Herge drew other comic strips too including Jo, Zette and Jocko. Jo and Zette are two children who get into adventures with their pet chimp Jocko, though usually by way of their engineer Father.

In this adventure they end up flying an advanced new aeroplane that is trying to win a prize by crossing the Atlantic in the fastest time yet.

The comic strip is truly beautifully drawn, and wonderfully reproduced here with some of the cleanest lines i've ever seen in a ligne claire strip. It is a true period piece set in the 1930s with a heavy dose of art deco, especially in the aeroplane the Stratoship H.22.

There is a good plot too with other powers trying to sabotage the record attempt. How the children manage to end up flying the plane is a bit contrived maybe but sets up part 2 of the story as they fly off lost...

The only criticism i have is that Jocko is a bit annoying though does provide some excellent comic relief at times. Its not Tintin but its an excellent comic adventure in its own right.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hal - election day

In between Brighter and Harper Lee was was a short lived side project by Keris Howard who released just the one EP as Hal. With Hal Keris went for a much more electronic sound after Brighter, the title track bringing to mind early 80s pop and even a bit of New Order. Its a great pop song as you might expect, with a catchy up-beat and down-beat lyrics.

"Clear about this" is a sparkling song and "Somedays" continues the vein, sounding a bit too much like an indie dance remix of a Brighter song however. Ultimately this may have been why the Hal project was not continued for long. Its great, but somehow just seems a bit... wrong.

Monday, November 7, 2011

TOTP (21/10/1976)

Ed Stewart is here to run us through the hottest pop sounds...

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel - love is a prima donna
Steve is in a rather fetching red suit, the song itself grooves along fairly inoffensively but then moves into a rather higher gear and some lovely guitar work Ed appreciates.

There is a competition tonight, get a pen and paper ready.

Demis Roussos - when forever has gone
The warbling big man is dressed as Moses and still has a fantastic big beard. A song that probably works at the end of a long night in a Mediterranean bar but maybe not so much here...

Ed has a couple of sailor girls with him, daughters of a couple of Beverley Sisters apparently. I’d rather look at them than...

Paul Nicholas - dancing with the captain
Paul has gone for a bowler hat and white jacket look which is not very nautical. It doesn’t change my enjoyment of this song though. SFX alert! Overlay of some water moving about while Paul tries to get people to clap. Ah good its ended.

Rod Stewart - sailing
Rod walks around a boat looking moody. We get to see some film of Britain’s sea power too. Little did people know watching this that the Tories were soon to get back in power and gut the Royal Navy, of course that couldn’t happen these days.

Ed is a thorn along six roses... the new TOTP dancers infact and the audience are invited to give them a name. I suggest... er... Legs & Co. Do i win?

John Miles - remember yesterday
At the old joanna for a rather generic but not unpleasant late 70s pop-rock song.

The as-yet unnamed new dancers are here to dance seductively to the Average White Band’s “queen of my soul”. Well parade around in flowing dresses anyway on a star shaped stage, very age of Aquarius. One of the dancers looks like my art teacher at secondary school (in the 80s), couldn’t have been? Could it? I hope it was.

Climax Blues Band - couldn’t get it right
SFX overload takes us into a mass of flares and long hair. Nice understated cool feel to this.

Whats this, Joe Bugner (no really) is here to introduce the number 1...

Pussycat - Mississippi
Same western themed MV on a boat, great stuff by the way.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Amanda Applewood - i love boys

Otherwise a member of The Boy Least Likely To, Amanda Applewood's solo album is a wonderful thing, a record of sweet vocals and childish themes. Now childish as used here not as an insult but a virtue, this is a record that brings up a nostalgic gentle childhood of Enid Blyton and endless Summers. A idealised past of ice cream, board games and simple joys and loves.

"I love boys" starts the album off as it will go on, a tidal wave of cuteness washes over you as the song's title is repeated over and over again as a cutie coda. "Pretend (we're in love)" starts off sounding a bit like a 60s TV advert jingle before progressing into one of the nicest pop songs you'll ever hear. Another lovely track is "Rockpools" with its delicate sparse and beautiful melody. This album is a joy, simple as that. You might fear its all a bit whimsical of course and could easily be with these lyrics and themes but it really works.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Comics : Blake & Mortimer 7 : The Affair of the Necklace

The Affair Of The Necklace, the 7th translated and released into English by Cinebook, is one of the books written and drawn by the creator of Blake & Mortimer Edgar P. Jacobs (the series being continues by other authors and artists after his death). This book stands out from much of the rest of the series by virtue of the fact the plot is rather mundane (by Blake & Mortimer standards).

There are no evil masterminds, no exotic death rays or retro-futurist science this time, instead the plot revolves around basic theft (of a necklace natch).

Much of the story does take on a fairly mysterious and fantastical air though in the catacombs below Paris but at its heart this is a basic crime and chase story and enjoyable it is too if a bit pedestrian compared to some of the other stories.

Its not the best Blake & Mortimer story in the series but still well worth a read.