Friday, 30 July 2010

Fantasy football time again

With just two weeks to go before the new English Premier League season starts, there's never been a better time to sign up for the 2010/11 Fantasy Football league, and the fifth annual Group of Death - i.e. our own private league. (It's all 100% free by the way.) Bearing in mind that literally anyone who enters our league can emerge triumphant, this competition's harder to win than the actual Premier League itself. (Or at least more than two teams have a chance of winning our version!)

Joining is easy. Sign up here. If you were in our league last season and sign up again using the same log-in details, you should be automatically re-entered into it once you've selected your squad for the new season.

If you've never played before you'll simply need to enter the following code (in the create/join bit of the Leagues section) after you've created your team in order to join the Group of Death: 41220-14155

Hope to see you - yes, you! - there!

The Cardigans - My Favourite Game mp3

In homage to that talented bunch of Muppet musos who played with Dr Teeth (pictured right), I've named my team The Electric Mayhem this season. What's yours?

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

It's not the end of the world as we know it

...But it is a brand new song by Jens Lekman called The End of the World Is Bigger Than Love - and I feel fine! I think the exclamation mark is justified in this instance, as one of these doesn't come along every day. (A new song from Jens, I mean, rather than an exclamation mark. They're ten a penny really, aren't they?! Knoworrimean!?!)

Here's what the man himself had to say about the genesis of the song (taken from his website):

It was the day before the american election 2008 and I was filled with a hopelessness that only a McCain supporter could have shared with me at the time. I was in Washington DC to perform for swedish TV, sitting in the couch with a profesional smile on my face, joking with the hosts and discussing the lobster with the TV chef. I saw the clips online sometime ago, it's amazing what an actor I can be if I really make an effort.

I lived in America back then, up in New York. At the time I felt like everything I touched was turning to shit and I had decided to put everything on one card. Subconsciously I knew I needed to hit the bottom so I could work my way up again. I needed confirmation, I needed someone to tell me it wasn't going to work out, not this way. Yes, there was a girl involved in this. I was very much in love with her.

Some things you just go through. You don't write about it, you don't turn it into art because it can't be turned into art. I didn't write any songs that year because you can't pour manure into an espresso machine and expect a cappucino to come out. When they announced the results and the streets filled up with people celebrating I felt happy to be part of something bigger than myself. It was a feeling that lasted me until the very last days of December 2008 when I finally sat down in my old teenage room at my parents house and I wrote this song. Then the year ended.

It's a song of hope. When love turns it's back on you it's nice to know there's a world out there that doesn't give a shit about your problems. That forces you to keep your head held high and move on. A world that is fragile and beautiful. Maybe it can sound cold to some of you, but let me make it clear that I believe in love, I just get so wrapped up in it sometimes that I need to put it into proportion. It's something you have to do a lot when you're Jens Lekman.

Jens Lekman - The End of the World Is Bigger Than Love mp3 (right click)

Monday, 26 July 2010

Moving Mountains

I'm really enjoying the sparse, ethereal folk of Vermont trio Mountain Man - ironically all women - at the moment. Their songs remind me very much of Moon Pix-era Cat Power (i.e. when Chan Marshall was really on top of her game). Have a listen to this live version of the rather wonderful Dog Song, recorded for the estimable Swedish site PSL, and see what you think.

If you like what you hear - and why wouldn't you? - head over to the band's website for two free downloads from their new album Made The Harbor. That's also the place to order the album on CD or limited edition coloured vinyl. Oh, and if you simply can't wait it can also be purchased as a digital download.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Turn on the Jukebox and do us all a favour

Piano-based pop is a much undervalued genre as far as I'm concerned. I mean, how many ivory botherers have really made it big in the history of rock and pop? Neil Sedaka, Ray Charles, Liberace, Elton John, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Rufus Wainwright, Ben Folds and Rowlf from The Muppets. OK, so quite a few really. Still, though, not so many modern artists in there. Just Wainwright and Folds Five (as I like to call him) really.

So perhaps it's unsurprising that the band we're featuring today, America's Jukebox The Ghost, have clearly been inspired by Ben Folds. (No bad thing of course.) Examine the facts: their singer-pianist is also called Ben (Thornewill). A mere coincidence? Oh alright then, yes. But also - as with the Ben Fold Five - Jukebox The Ghost are a three-piece; they've even supported Ben Folds on tour. What's more, their songs are also great fun to listen to. At the moment I'm especially enjoying Hold It In from their first album, and their cover of New Order's Temptation. Behold.

Jukebox The Ghost - Temptation mp3

Jukebox the Ghost's second album, Everything Under The Sun, is due to be released on September 7th. Download Empire i.e. track number three here.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Whodunnit? (This lot!)

I really ought to check the teemap inbox more often, as some dead good stuff ends up in there from time to time. Take the two songs we're featuring today - seriously, take them, they're great! - by American indie synthpoppers Murder Mystery, for example. These had been sitting in our inbox unbidden for three weeks before I finally got round to giving them a listen, and by crikey I'm glad I did now. This band's music is just my sort of thing, and I hope it'll be yours too. Best contemporary electro pop this side of Action Biker and Cloetta Paris, for me. See what you think. (Both tracks will require an element of right clickage, by the way.)

Murder Mystery - I Am If You Are mp3

Murder Mystery - Change My Mind mp3

Friday, 23 July 2010

New single from Liechtenstein

The rather splendid Swedish label Fraction Discs are releasing a three-track 7”-only single, Passion For Water, by fellow countrywomen Liechtenstein next week. In the meantime, you can download the A-side for free by right-clicking on the link below. Smashing.

Liechtenstein - Passion For Water mp3

We saw this lot live once and thoroughly enjoyed every noisy minute of it (although my poor lugholes haven't yet recovered. My own fault, mind, for standing too near the front). Here they are performing Passion For Water earlier this month in London, captured in what looks rather like good old Wobblyphone Vision.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Anyone who had a hearth

Hold on to your hatstands, it's the House and Home Top 30!

30 I Talk To The Conservatories - Clint Eastwood
29 Broom Bang-A-Bang - Loo-loo
28 Gas Fire - The Crazy World Of Hearthur Brown
27 The Fork Of Knife - Dire Straits
26 Bed Boy - Miami Sewing Machine
25 Ashtraynger In Paradise - Frank Sinatra
24 How Spoon Is Now - The Locksmiths
23 The Larder I Try - Brother Beyond
22 Television Of Love - Mariah Carey
21 My Cistern - The Juliana Hatfield 3
20 All I Wanna Do Is Wok - Travis
19 Sofa Away From Me - Dire Straits
18 Something In The Aerial - Thunderclap Newmantelpiece
17 Return To Blender - Elvis Presley
16 You've Lost That Loving Ceiling - Righteous Brothers
15 Hall The Love In The World - Dionne Warwick
14 The Rugs Don't Work - The Verve
13 Towel Little Boys - Rolf Harris
12 I'm Stool Waiting - Diana Ross
11 Don't Fry For Me Margarine Tub - Julie Coving-ton
10 Home Entertainment System Addict - Five Star
9 Loft Myself - Longpigs
8 Twenty Four Showers From Tulsa - Gene Pitney
7 Bay Window Microwave Goodbye - Soft Cell
6 Me Myshelf And I - De La Soul
5 Fridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel
4 It's A Bin - Pet Shop Boys
3 Got To Be Curtain - Kylie
2 Duvet Know It's Christmas - Band Aid
1 Take That Book Off Your Case - Marti Cobwebb

As always, any or all further suggestions gratefully received!

Smudge - The Outdoor Type (Acoustic) mp3

It's Immaterial - Driving Away From Home mp3

Saturday, 17 July 2010

My favourite wastes of time

It's the eighties-inspired promo vid for the latest single from melodic Swedes Elias & The Wizzkids, shot in glorious VHS-Vision. I bloody love this band!

In the interests of shameless namedropping I'd like to point out here that Elias himself - owner of the finest moustache in contemporary pop - once signed our guestbook. Aren't we great?! (Oh.)

Buy Elias & The Wizzkids stuff

Sorry, but I simply cannot let this entry pass without linking to this, possibly the greatest summery pop hit & video combination recorded by any sibling of any former member of Simple Minds ever. You know you love it really!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Tracie and the sometime band

Just stumbled on a minor eighties classic on YouTube, with Weller protégé Tracie Young performing a rather spiffing live version of her big 1983 hit The House That Jack Built backed by the Modfather himself on bass, Mick Talbot on keyboards and what looks like a pair of fourteen-year-olds with guitars.

Mildly Interesting Pop Fact(s): Winner of the Most Fanciable Female Award in the 1983 Smash Hits Readers' Poll, Tracie is now a local radio DJ on Chelmsford Radio 107.7 in Essex, where she presents in the 10-am-2pm Monday - Saturday slot. (Whatever happened to weekday DJs getting the weekend off, by the way? Or does that just apply to the big-time charlies on national stations?)

Tracie still dabbles in music as well - playing it I mean, rather than, umm, playing it! - (behold her MySpace page), and made a one-off appearance supporting erstwhile Faith Brothers frontman Billy Franks in a double bill to savour for the discerning eighties pop fan, at the Shepherd's Bush Empire last year. (Surely it can only be a matter of time before that place is rebranded the Vodaphone Empire or the Iceland Shepherd's Pie Empire or something equally unedifying, by the way).

Cherry Red have recently released Tracie's 1984 debut album, Far From The Hurting Kind on CD, complete with ten bonus tracks (including The House That Jack Built), which you can order direct from their website.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Games without front ears

During the quieter moments of World Cup games, Spike and me have been coming up with punny song titles based on this year's tournament. Just for fun, like. Anyway, with another rest day on our hands (thoroughly stupid invention, by the way, World Cup rest days) we've now whittled the originally rather cumbersome list of a couple of hundred songs down to a more manageable forty-five, which you can see listed below. If you don't like daft puns, now might be a good time to divert your eyes!

45 Korea Opportunities - The Clash
44 I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Cruz - Beverley Sisters
Lucio In The Sky With Diamonds - The Beatles
Ayew Get Off Of My Cacau - Rolling Stones
Sorensen Seems To Be The Hardest Word - Elton John Pantsil
Long Skrtel Short Jacket - Cake
The Valdez Flat - Echobelly
Chile Love Songs - Paul McCartney
Juarez The Love - Roberta Flack
Schweinsteiger Feet - Mud
Chu Young - Phoenix
Kolarov My Love - Jefferson
Buffon The Roof - Bobby Robson & Jerome Boateng
Move Klose - Phyliss Nelson
When Will Garcia Again - Three Degrees
Iniesta I Can Boogie - Baccara
Lippi On Your Collar - Connie Francis
Capello Sub Marin - The Beatles
The Burdisso - The Tweets
Papadopoulis Don't Preach - Maradonna
Driving In My Kaka - Madness
Sagna Name - Terence Trent D'Arby
Gomez Without Frontiers - Peter Gabriel
Honda Inside - Lynne Hamilton
Dani Alves On My Mind - Alves Presley
Hey Cho - Jimi Hendrix
Schwarzer Nother Year - Johnny Logan
Everybody Özil - R.E.M.
Duda Looks Like A Lady - Aerosmith
Lee Chung Yong Hearts Run Free - Candi Staton
Eto'o Beach - Martha & The Muffins
The Sun Always Shines On Tevez - A-Ha
Toure Toure It's A Holi-Holiday - Boney M
Müller Kintyre - Wings
Ponce In A Lifetime - Talking Heads
Mary Had A Little Lahm - Snap!
Itsy Bitsy Chiellini Yellow Polka Dot Bikini - Bombalurina
Welcome To The Jung Woo - Guns 'n' Roses
Jules Rimet Want To Hurt Me - Culture Club vs Country
De Jong Ones - Cliff Richard
Forlan & Laughing - Orange Juice
Smeltz Like Team Spirit - Nirvana
How Elano? - Whitney Houston
A Whiter Seedorf Pale - Procul Harum
The Size Of A Cacau - Wonderstuff

Any more for any more?

F.R. David - Words mp3