Thursday, 29 May 2008

Search Us III

It seems I made something of a schoolboy error when putting together the previous Search Us entry, by reporting the five or six searches we'd had at the time from people looking for pictures of a certain Ashes To Ashes star with no clothes on. I wouldn't want to make the same mistake by repeating the offending search string here, but here's a clue: it wasn't any of the male members (chortle) of the cast these lustful Googlers were seeking out.

Anyway, subsequent to that particular post - in which I foolishly repeated the dread phrase i.e. "Marjorie Dawes lewd!" (or words that sound not unlike those) several times - our Statcounter page went pretty much insane with people (or more specifically blokes) feverishly searching for nuddy pics of old bolly knickers.

Now, with at least a dozen of these exact same searches coming in every day, this soon started to become a tad annoying for Spike and me. Sort of like a constantly dripping tap. Or a busload of people you didn't invite arriving at your party - only instead of bringing a bottle, these gatecrashers were brandishing something far less appetising in their hands. Bleurgh. But thankfully they've largely pissed off now, and we're down to about five a day. Bloody hell, though, what a pain in the arse!

As for the very few searches that weren't asking for pictures of ****** ***** sans kit, there now follows a quick round-up of some of the best ones.

Is that your wife (A new gameshow, coming soon to ITV1. Probably.)

Are you really going out with him? (Who, Joe Jackson? Yes. Yes I am.)

Hylda Baker nude (I kid you not!)

****** ***** knockers (I love this one. This is the type of search Sid James would be making if he was looking for clothes-avoiding pictures of a certain Ashes To Ashes star on the 'net. And if he wasn't dead, obviously.)

Wincey Willis this is your life (Actually I think you'll find it was Banderas who did that one.)

Headcases ITV rubbish
Headcases poor (Does anyone like this show?)

nude toffs (Again, this sounds like something the commissioning editor of ITV or Five might give the go-ahead to.)

Watch video Paul Jewell Derby porn (I'd rather not, if it's all the same to you.)

TV-AM weatherman with silly pullovers (How dare you! Wincey was all woman.)

silly noise website (Why, it's almost as if Google are trying to tell us something!)

stupid web searches (...we've had a few, but then again too few to mennnntion! Or not.)

And we'll finish, as ever, by stuffing our faces with comedy apple/pies:

too pie
apples much
pie face nude
how much is the apple pie?
nude women hit with pies
great britain's apple pie
apple pies facts with silly words
pie sold on internet
catchy pie phrases
misses apple pie
apple not pies
because of too much pie
I like pie even more than the last time I Googled this

I love that last one, as it appears that someone has deliberately gone out of their way to perform a daft search in a - successful, as it turns out - attempt to appear in one these posts. Now we shouldn't really be encouraging that sort of thing in a business as, erm, gravely serious as collating inane web searches for an obscure music blog, but fair play to you, whoever you are!

Change - Searching mp3 (available for 7 days)

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Nat'll Do Nicely

With her band currently on hiatus, Monkey Swallows The Universe singer Nat Johnson has recorded some lovely acousticy solo demos and, rather helpfully, put them up for the world to hear on her MySpace page. My favourites among these are the frankly wondrous Wonderful Emergency and a live version of the fifties classic A Teenager In Love. Marty Wilde eat your heart out!

Nat Johnson - Wonderful Emergency mp3 (available for 7 days)

Nat Johnson - A Teenager In Love (live) mp3 (ditto)

Absolutely chuffing brilliant, eh? If you live in or near Sheffield you can buy copies of Nat Johnson's demo CD for a measly £2 a throw from Jack's Records in Division Street. But if, like me, you live nowhere near England's Steel City, fear not, as Nat's recently announced on her blog that she's planning on doing some 'proper' recording later in the year. Fan-bloomin-tastic.

In the meantime, you could always buy The Casket Letters by Monkey Swallows The Universe on CD or as an mp3 album, if you haven't already.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Three of a kind #45

Ah, Eurovision Song Contest, how I love am continually baffled by thee! On Saturday night I sat down to, once again, be entertained, outraged and reduced to a helpless mess of uncontrollable laughter by Europe's premier songwriting contest. As usual, my top three bore no relation to the actual top three, which was populated by the most irritating man to grace the stage that night (with the exception of the host) and a couple of women of whom I had no recollection.
The votes from the Too Much Apple Pie delegation go to:

Jesus backing singers1. Sebastien Tellier - Divine mp3 (available for 7 days)

Sebastien Tellier - representing France - caused a bit of controversy before the show, apparently due to his video containing images of him in Christ-like poses. Personally I rather enjoyed his (mostly) female backing singers all wearing Jesus facial hair. And the song is pretty good, with lovely 'ooh-la-la' backing vocals and lead vocals which remind me of Jarvis Cocker.

2. Simon Mathew - All Night Long mp3 (available for 7 days)

Demark's entry this year was what I think of as a typical, enjoyable Eurovision song: upbeat, catchy enough to be remembered a good five minutes after the performance has finished, derivative ("Celebrate good times, come on", "Blue suede shoes"? I can't help feeling I've heard those lyrics somewhere before...) and thoroughly unpretentious.

3. Laka - Pokušaj mp3 (available for 7 days)

Finally we have the Bosnia-Herzegovinian song which can't really be done justice without seeing the performance which accompanies it. Bride backing singers, knitting? Public schoolboy outfit? A polka-dot-skirted Helena Bonham-Carter-a-like with a washing line? Fair enough...

Sadly the poncy Russian bloke supported by a poncy violinist and a poncy ice skater won the whole shebang.

Poncy Russians
The top three was rounded out by forgettable women from the Ukraine and Greece. Bosnia Herzegovina finished 10th, Denmark 15th, and France 19th out of 25. There's no justice!

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Hell's Belles

The Eurovision Song Contest is upon us once again, so what better way to celebrate than with the UK's entry from 1984, Love Games by Belle & The Devotions? This one reached the dizzy heights of seventh place in that year's contest, which was won by Swedish Mormon brothers Herreys with Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley, a song about a man who finds a pair of golden shoes that will make him surpass any obstacle. (John Terry really could've done with a pair of those for the penalties the other night.)

Anyway, yes, Belle & The Devotions. With Spagna supplying lead vocals:

Actually that's Kit Rolfe doing the singing (the other two's microphones were switched off, with backing vocals coming from some hidden singers offstage). Rolfe - sadly no relation to Mermaid boatyard owner Jack - had seen off, amongst others, Hazell Dean and Sinitta during that year's UK Song For Europe heats; she later teamed up with Hazell Dean herself to provide offstage backing vocals for Samantha Janus in Rome 1991, where the amusingly-surnamed one was representing Royaume-Uni in that year's contest. Sadly Janus's effort stumbled to a joint-tenth place finish. Mind you, it was a bit rubbish.

Belle & The Devotions - Love Games mp3 (available for 7 days)

Oh, I can't resist it, here's the immortal Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley as well - gold shoes and all!

Monday, 19 May 2008

"I'm not thinking right today"

CuckooI've been feeling a little sprightly and loopy lately, so the following two songs have fitted my mood perfectly.

Santa Maria is the solo project of Maria Eriksson from The Concretes. While I like The Concretes, I enjoy Santa Maria infinitely more. It's immediately accessible, yet doesn't pale with repeated listening. On the contrary, I've found each song to be more complex that it initially sounded. Cuckoo finds Eriksson ably assisted by (amongst others) Markus Krunegård and Lars Skoglund of Laakso. This is a bouncy, sing-a-long-able and utterly wonderful song about mooning around. Brilliant!

Santa Maria - Cuckoo mp3 (available for 7 days)

The other song is a cover of a Belle and Sebastian song by Bille the Vision and the Dancers (who have a new album out on June 4th) - I'm A Cuckoo - and a lovely job they made of it too! It was on a Belle and Sebastian tribute album entitled A Century of Covers, which can be downloaded from Kirsten's Postcard.

Billie the Vision and the Dancers - I'm A Cuckoo mp3 (available for 7 days)

Here's the Santa Maria website and here's the Billie the Vision website, where you can find information about where to buy music by these lovely Swedes.

I'm off to find more songs about cuckoos to usurp my current playlist.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Three Of A Kind #44

To celebrate the release of Flight of the Conchords' debut LP this week, today's Three Of A Kind features tracks by a trio of modern-day comic icons.

First up, the Conchords themselves with the not-quite-Barry-White Business Time, being as it is an ode to perfunctory, once-weekly marital sex, rather than any of the more salacious fare that The Walrus Of Love might have come up with (so to speak) himself.

Flight of the Conchords - Business Time mp3 (right click)

Mildly Interesting Comedy Pop Fact: contributors on the 2006 Flight of the Conchords BBC Radio 2 series included: Greg Proops, Emma Kennedy, Jimmy Carr, Daniel Kitson and, appearing regularly in a reluctant phone mentor role to the band's hapless manager Murray (or Bryan, as Rhys Darby's character was known then), the one and only Neil Finn!

It was great to see footage of early-eighties funk-punks The Higsons on last night's Comedy Map Of Great Britain on BBC2. The band met at the University of East Anglia and were, of course, fronted by The Fast Show and Down The Line legend Charlie "Switch" Higson - hence their appearance on the Comedy Map. One of the songs we saw them performing was this, their debut single:

The Higsons - I Don't want To Live With Monkeys mp3 (left click/available for 7 days)

Mildly Interesting Comedy Pop Fact: The Higsons released a couple of singles on the legendary 2 Tone label.

Forget Ricky Gervais's (in)famous crab dance, the real highlight of The Office, for me, was Gervais/David Brent's stirring rendition of his self-penned M.O.R. classic Freelove Freeway. Mackenzie Crook and Martin Freeman's background contributions to this shouldn't be underestimated either. Completely bloody hilarious.

David Brent - Freelove Freeway mp3 (left click/available for 7 days)

Mildly Interesting Comedy Pop Fact: Ricky's synth pop duo, Seona Dancing, were one of the acts tipped for success in the Fifteen For Eighty-Four feature in the 1984 Smash Hits Yearbook.

Buy stuff by today's featured artists, including the Flight of the Conchords' eponymous album, here.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Get The Message

Released towards the end of the band's lifespan, in 1983, Message To My Girl by Split Enz just has to be, for my money at least, one of the greatest love songs of all time. It's complemented by a fantastic video, too - all done in (practically!) a single take.

Quite, then, how it managed to stall at #28 in their native New Zealand's pop chart and #12 in Australia (it failed to even trouble the scorers in the U.K. or U.S. - was it even released outside Australasia?), remains a mystery. I mean, any song that gets played on the jukebox in Ailsa's Diner every time there's a wedding or romance in Summer Bay just has to be a winner, right?

Split Enz - Message To My Girl mp3 (available for 7 days)

Buy Split Enz, Crowded House and Nil Fun stuff here.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Gladiators, are you ready?

I heard a great song on that Gideon Coe's 6 Music show last night: Down The Alleyway by Slow Down Tallahassee. "Cor, this is a bit good!" I thought, before scuttling off to find out more about the band via Google. So, here are some facts about Slow Down Tallahassee that I garnered from the web search, mostly courtesy of the BBC South Yorkshire Raw Talent site.

1. Despite the evidence to the contrary in the pic above, there are actually four members in the band: Claire on vocals, keyboards and guitar (I wonder if she's ever considered the merits of a keytar? Both practical and stylish!), Rachel - vocals and bass, Nicola - vocals and keyboard, and Rich - guitar and camera-dodging.

2. They've been together since 2004, and describe their sound as "Thunder and gasoline. An explosion of harmony and handclaps at times, sparse and elegant at others". Which is all well and good, but I can't help wonder why they plumped for the American term for car fuel. Thunder and petrol would have sounded so much better - or funnier, at least; they also sound like names that a couple of the new Gladiators might have - 'Thunder' and 'Petrol'. Or perhaps not.

Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah - band facts!

3. They list their influences as: The Shangri-Las, The Breeders and Leonard Cohen (or 'Lemon Cone', as Spike calls him).

4. Their debut album, The Beautiful Light, is being released on the 26th May, and to celebrate this they're rather generously giving away a free download-only single, comprising the uptempo yet lyrically downbeat title track plus the much slower, piano-driven Limbs. And blimey, here they are!

Slow Down Tallahassee - The Beautiful Light mp3 (right click)

Slow Down Tallahassee - Limbs mp3 (right click)

Slow Down Tallahassee's My Space page

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

"It's just a bad time to be famous"

Anti-folk...what exactly is it? To be honest, I don't have a folking clue, but I (mostly) know it when I hear it - and Cindy Lee Berryhill is it!

The first song I ever heard of hers was Unknown Master Painter from the 1996 album Straight Outta Marysville. I accidentally recorded it off the radio and I was so entranced by her ability to hold my attention completely with her subtle sibilance that I spent the next 5 years or so trying to find out anything I could about her. With little success. Actually that's being generous. I failed abjectly and it was only when I finally got hold of the internet that I found out more.

Cindy Lee Berryhill - Unknown Master Painter mp3 (available for 7 days)

Cindy Lee Berryhill came to the attention of the music world with her 1987 debut album Who's Gonna Save The World? and its perceptively witty song about gender-based double standards Damn, I Wish I Was A Man ("I'd be sexy with a belly like Jack Nicholson"), which is far funnier and less earnest than I've made it sound!
Before she was introduced to the music of Brian Wilson (which became a big influence to her), Berryhill was in a punk band called The Stoopids. During that time she had a breakdown and stepped back from music for a few years, afraid that punk music had contributed to her struggle. When she got up the courage to start playing again, she was writing cathartic songs to help her move on from the experience, and she stepped out into the California acoustic anti-folk scene.

Cindy Lee Berryhill - Jane And John mp3 (available for 7 days)

Nowadays, Berryhill has moved on from anti-folk to anti-country (a perfect example of this can be heard in When Did Jesus Become A Republican? on her myspace page) and last year released her first album in a decade, Beloved Stranger. Hopefully she won't stay away so long next time!

Finally, this is a lovely and straightforwardly introspective piano lament from 1989's Naked Movie Star album.

Cindy Lee Berryhill - What's Wrong With Me mp3 (available for 7 days)

Find out more and where to buy Cindy Lee Berryhill albums at her official website.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Quote Of The Week

"There's not enough expletives to thank the players for what they've done this season."

- Cambridge United manager Jimmy Quinn, in a post-match interview with Setanta's Rebecca Lowe, on his team's achievement in reaching the Blue Square Premier play-off final after overcoming Burton Albion at the semi-final stage. F**k you very much!

Anyway, on with the music, which is, in a very real sense, what we're here for. Today's featured song is Play Girl, the second single from Anglo-Scottish/Bulgarian combo Ladytron, from 2000. Has there been a better example of electro pop in the past decade than this? I'm struggling to think of one anyway. Absolutely magnificent.

Ladytron - Play Girl mp3 (available for 7 days)

Ladytron's fourth album, Velocifero, is released on June 2nd. You can pre-order it here.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Three Of A Kind #43

Continuing the summery theme established by young Spike t'other day, today we're featuring a trio of shiny happy cover versions ideal for listening to on a summer's day.

First up, it's Japanese all-girl popsters Shonen Knife with The Monkees classic Daydream Believer. Mick from the splendid Raiding The Vinyl Archive wrote this excellent piece about the song's composer, former Kingston Trio member John Stewart, who sadly died earlier this year.

Shonen Knife - Daydream Believer mp3 (available for 7 days)

Mildly Interesting Pop Fact: Shonen Knife have been together for a whopping twenty-seven years. Blimey o'riley!

Next, it's the prolific Of Montreal with a cover of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci's fantastic Spanish Dance Troupe. I love the original and this version has to be right up there too.

Of Montreal - Spanish Dance Troupe mp3 (available for 7 days)

Mildly Interesting Pop Fact: despite their name, Of Montreal aren't actually Canadian at all; they're from the USA, and, like most American bands, hail from Athens, Georgia. Swizz!

Finally today, Coventry legends The Specials tackle the Carl Sigman and Herbert Magidson-penned classic Enjoy Yourself (It's Later Than You Think). A joyous song in so many ways, nothing tops the bit at the start when Terry Hall deadpans, "Hello, I'm Terry and I'm going to enjoy myself first." Comedy gold.

The Specials - Enjoy Yourself mp3 (available for 7 days)

Mildly Interesting Pop Fact: this song was written in 1949. Cripes!

Buy music by today's featured artists here.

Monday, 5 May 2008

"I'm gonna go away on a little holiday"

It's been a beautiful May bank holiday today and I've dug out my shorts and exposed my legs to a terrified population. Snow blindness awaits those without sunglasses! Today has felt like the first day of summer and I pottered around singing the following song to myself:

Denim - Summer Smash mp3 (available for 7 days)

Irresistably catchy pop from the band which rose from the ashes of Felt. That's all really! I'm off to enjoy the remains of the bank holiday. Hope you've had a good one!

Dream On

A spot of trippy, bleepy early-nineties-vintage Lilac Time today, with, for me, one of Stephen Duffy and co's finest, Dreaming. I remember being quite taken aback when I first heard this track, as all their singles I'd heard up until that point had been pleasantly enjoyable folk-pop, as you might expect from a band who'd taken their name from an old Nick Drake lyric. But Dreaming had more in common sonically with turn-of-the-nineties electronic acts such as Electribe 101 and The Beloved than any ill-starred folk troubadors from two decades earlier. I ended up loving Dreaming just the same though. Fantastic track.

The Lilac Time - Dreaming (edit) mp3 (available for 7 days)

In related news, it seems The Lilac Time are still very much an entity, and still recording! Which is news to me, if not necessarily you (I'm notoriously slack at keeping up with favourite bands of old). I learn from Wikipedia that a new album, The Runout Groove, was released last autumn, and the band's entire back catalogue is now available to buy on CD or download here. Looks like I've got some catching up to do.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Paris When It Sizzles

Hello. I'm Kippers and I love cheesy-yet-magnificent eighties Europop. Thank you.

Ryan Paris - Dolce Vita mp3 (available for 7 days)

I also love the accompanying video, which, rather cunningly, was shot around the streets of the French capital. See what they did there? Ryan Paris - in Paris! The zany funsters. It's not as if Ryan Paris was even his real name - he'd actually been born Fabio Roscioli in Rome thirty years earlier.

Anyway, in light of this decision to film the video in the city from whence his new surname was purloined, I'd imagine young Mr Roscioli must have been mighty relieved that he hadn't chosen, say, "Ryan Beirut" or "Ryan Clacton-on-Sea" as his pop star nom de plume instead. Could have been nasty.

Here's the promo anyway. As well as Ryan unselfconsciously lip-synching and wiggling his hips for all his worth in front of various Parisian landmarks, look out for lots of gratuitous shots of Parisian laydees going about their daily lives presumably completely unaware that their every move was being filmed for inclusion in a piece of classic Euro fromage. I'm guessing the pair of rollerskating vixtresses circling our man on that busy thoroughfare were actually on the payroll, though, and not merely irresistibly drawn in by Ryan's boyish good looks and exquisite taste in très chic sleeveless cardies. Mind you, who could blame them if they were?

Ryan Paris has his own MySpace page! Have a gander!