Friday, 27 February 2009
The world's first ever channel hopping ad extravaganza will invite viewers to count the number of thumbs they see in all three adverts, for the chance to win a variety of prizes, including a two night four-star city break to Barcelona for 2, a two night spa break at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire and a three course meal for two at Brasseie Roux, London.
For more information, click here!
The Sun Online interview September ahead of the release of her new single "Can't Get Over"
"DISCO babe SEPTEMBER says most of the love letters she receives come from lesbian fans.
The Swedish singer - who yearns to be “the sexiest prima Donna ever” - is building up a huge army of female admirers, thanks partly to her lip-licking turn in the raunchy vid for hit dance tune Cry For You.
And though she receives plenty of attention from men, it’s the women who cram into the front rows at her gigs.
She said: “I have a lot more interest from girls (than men). I want everyone to like me. But I’ve always had girls on my side. I’ve got a connection with them. I can feel it on stage. They’re always the ones at the front. I know there are girls out there that like me. I get letters from lesbian girls - and guys. Do I know why I’m popular with lesbians? I think it’s about signals. For me, on stage, it’s about bringing the people to me.”
However, it’s all about the men for September - real name Petra Eos Marklund - when it comes to her love life, and there’s one British chap who gets her weak at the knees - PRINCE WILLIAM.
She added: “There are a lot of gorgeous men out there - but I’d go for Prince William. You have to reach high! I’d be his wife if I could teach him to dance. I wanna be the Queen of England. I wanna be the Disco Queen of the world!”
September’s new single Can’t Get Over is released in the UK on March 9."
See the full feature on The Sun Online here
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
"Rough Trade's album of the year in 2006 was Alela's "The Pirate's Gospel" and many critics have already started to fall over themselves with superlatives about her latest opus, due out this week. I'm liking a lot of it - the swooning pedal steel on "To Be Still", the perky dance through the meadows that is "Dry Grass & Shadows" and the sparky, sparkly "White As Diamonds" but I did have to check the CD player display to see if a few of the songs had changed. There is no denying that Diane can sing but there is not the variety I was hoping for and, apart from "The Ocean" and "Tatted Lace", some of this album does wander off into hippy-dom via folksy paths without much of a challenge. Cara Dillon does similar and I think Eileen Rose does it better and add Vashti Bunyan and Laura Viers into the mix and you have an idea of the ballpark. Tell you what though, the 5 best tracks mentioned above really are very very yummy and worth the admission alone. One to watch."
Click here to see the full review on AllGigs.co.uk
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
"In the Song Of The Day entry titled 'Platnum - 'Trippin''' dated February 23 2009, we stated that Platnum's forthcoming single 'Trippin'' was the best single to feature 'trippin' in the title since Robbie Williams' 2005 single 'Tripping'. We now accept that Cahill's 'Trippin' On You' (released in 2008) was, of course, a total masterpiece and that our original statement was therefore false. We accept full responsibility for the error and apologise to Cahill for any offence caused by the original article."
Visit Popjustice here
Monday, 23 February 2009
"Key things to know about Platnum:
1. They are not actually made of platinum - that would just be ridiculous (and a biological impossibility). They are in fact a living breathing trio of human beings just like the rest of us.
2. Unlike the rest of us, however, they have made a song called 'Trippin'' which - ADVANCE WARNING ALERT - will probably be big over the summer. Fortunately it's not shit and is, in fact, rather good. Someone on the Hard2Beat website has posted a message moaning about the fact that this sounds like S Club 7 and is not bassline enough. They think that's a bad thing!
3. 'Trippin'' is the best song with 'trippin' in its title since 'Tripping' by Robbie Williams, but everyone except us thinks that 'Tripping' by Robbie Wiliams is shit, so we don't know what that counts for at the end of the day."
Click here to see the feature and hear a snippet of the new track on Popjustice
Thursday, 19 February 2009
War Child last night hosted the two greatest rock bands of the 21st Century at a historic, once-in-a-lifetime show – packed with special guests.
The night celebrated the release of War Child’s new album ‘Heroes’ (out now on EMI’s Parlophone label)
The Killers and Coldplay came together for an exclusive concert at O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire, in front of just 2,000 lucky music fans.
The event followed that evening's Brit Awards and each band gave amazing, intimate sets. And the star-studded audience were treated to some surprise collaborations – with the bands being joined on stage for a stellar encore featuring Coldplay and Gary Barlow performing "Back For Good", and then The Killers, Coldplay, Bono & Gary Barlow performing "All These Things That I've Done".
War Child’s ‘Heroes’ album is released on Parlophone and features its own stunning collaborations: the biggest legends in music requesting special cover versions of their own classic tracks from today’s biggest bands. It brings together the likes of Paul McCartney and Duffy, U2 and Elbow, and The Clash and Lily Allen.
All profits from the concert and the album will go to aid War Child's work to protect the most marginalised children in war zones, who would otherwise be overlooked: street children, child soldiers and children in prison.
Quote from War Child:
“Both bands were amazing – it’s a gig that no-one in the venue will ever forget. And an event that will have huge impact on War Child’s work. They were our Heroes, just for one day.”
About War Child
War Child is an international charity, founded in response to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. A UN award winning charity, War Child works in the world’s most dangerous war zones including Iraq, Afghanistan, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. War Child aims to protect children who are hit hardest by war and its consequences including street children, child soldiers and children in prison.
Visit www.warchild.org.uk for further information
War Child is a UK registered charity number 1071659
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
Arjan features the free download of the Red Blooded Women v Designer Drugs mix of "Enjoy The Silence"
"Emerging new Brit pop girl group Red Blooded Women are gearing up to release "Enjoy The Silence," a cover of the seminal Depeche Mode classic. The ladies' revamp was originally recorded for a live show for Electronically Yours, but the when the audience cheered for more, more more, the trio decided to put out the song as a single.
The tune will formally hit download stores overseas on March 29. Mixes are supplied by Parralox, Heads we Dance, Designer Drugs, 7th Heaven and Bassmonkeys. Get the Designer Drugs remix totally guilt-free here on ArjanWrites.com. (Special note: Depeche Mode fans beware. This cover might make your cringe.)"
See the feature on Arjan writes here
The Quietus have reviewed Alela Diane's new album "To Be Still"
"There is a certain stillness, call it serenity even, that those writing strictly about the outdoors strive for. In America, the literary pioneer was Thoreau: writing from his cabin next to a silent pond, pastoral bliss oozes from his words. Whitman too. Explicating nature through rose-coloured glasses focuses on the beauty that surrounds us often in an idealized form that ignores the fleeting fragility of it all. This theme, passed down from poet to songwriter, engulfed Laurel Canyon based singer/songwriters in the 70s as the relationship between admiring nature and nurturing it as a muse influenced a generation. But tastes change like the seasons, and songwriting toughened up, and besides, pining over nature is tougher than pining over love. In such context, Alela Diane Menig is anachronistic. To Be Still, her sophomore set of soft-spoken folk might not be unique, but Diane's intention here is not to discover originality. Instead, this set honours the honour roll, crafting a collection of approving nods to a style she obviously idolizes too much to alter.
There are no surprises here. To Be Still is, in essence, consistent eddies around a single theme. But the respect given to her craft shimmers through, from choice of collaborators, to how she accentuates each rustic vocal. So featured here are her dad, Pete Grant (the man who taught Jerry Garcia pedal steel) and Kate Wolf's guitarist Nina Gerber; while sideman Tim Menig's home studio was used for the recording.
Diane shows each melody the respect it deserves, as if she is wailing through a tribute album to Laurel Canyon's folk scene. 'Dry Grass and Shadows' sounds road-tested for a Workingman's Dead b-side, while 'My Brambles', punctured through with cello and tambourine, recalls the darker side of Dory Previn at the height of her sexual conquests. As such, it's the accoutrements that elevate these exercises. Unlike Diane's self-released debut, The Pirate's Gospel (to all intents and purposes a solo record), To Be Still abounds with accents and showcases a more refined production. 'The Ocean' beams with strong backing vocals, while 'Tatted Lace' invites ethereal accompaniment, adding more dimension through plucked guitars and choral tones.
But as the story goes, Diane sticks to singing about nature, from the winds enrapturing the hills around California to the hundred year-old trees standing outside her house in Nevada City. And like a spring breeze, it swoons quickly and then departs, leaving little memory behind. Diane's dedication to her craft is inspiring, and while those came before might have sung these songs better, she perfectly captures some of the strength of the history she taps into."
Click here to read the full review on The Quietus
"The second release from Ruarri Joseph's album, Both Sides Of The Coin is the lovely Hope For Grey Trousers which I just can't seem to get enough of at the moment! - Not grey trousers obviously, I'm more of a dress person.
The single tells the story of some poor unfortunate bloke who seems to be having the worst day / month / year of his life as the story goes on from his wife being in bed with next door's gas man who was 'tanned right down to the teeth' to his dog being hit by a passing train! Bad times.
The catchy sing-along-chorus would make this a perfect song to sing on open mic night and adopts the sound of a honky-tonk bar tune or at the very least, a great drinking song as men compare their life's woes.
The B-side Love You Still is the polar opposite of it's predecessor; being a downright love song. In fact, on second thoughts, it could be his response to the rubbish life he talks about in the first song, however, it's not overly inspiring, and the slow and cautious lyrics take away from the humour of Hope For Grey Trousers.
However, he redeems himself with the opening line to Goodbye Same; "Goodbye same, hello different" which pretty much sets the bar for the rest of the song, as it all focuses on the plans Ruarri Joseph has.
It's a great song that makes you realise how you can change things in life, and hopefully gives you the get-up-and-go that you've been needing for the past however many months.
Upon reflection, the single sort of tells a story, Hope For Grey Trousers - the problem, Love You Still - the feelings and Goodbye Same - the solution. Now, I could be totally making that up, but that's the beauty of Ruarri's music if you will, because you can make of it whatever you want."
Click here to see the full review
Tuesday, 17 February 2009
"We've been watching the four former bankers Lord Stevenson (HBOS), Andy Hornby (HBOS), Sir Fred Goodwin (RBS) and Sir Tom McKillop (RBS) make an apology of sorts in front of the Treasury Select Committee.
It did nothing to stem the anger that many people feel towards the banking sector. The whole episode has ignited a new wave of resentment towards these people who've managed to lose so much money though bad investment and greed.
RBS made a loss of £28bn last year, and were bailed out by taxpayers to the tune of £20bn, but incredibly they would still like to reward those bankers and traders who made this loss with a pot of £1bn in bonuses! Can you imagine running a business on a much smaller scale with this logic, and do you think the bank would allow you to do it? Of course not!
Someone somewhere needs to point out to these organisations that the loss of a contractual bonus is not a hard thing to swallow in times of recession. They should take note from all the workers, who have legally binding contracts too, but who have forgone basic wages just to keep their businesses going. Manufacturing industries have reduced their employees working hours just to keep afloat, even the global accountancy firm KPMG this week asked its 11,000 British staff if they would switch to a four-day week or take a long break to help avoid redundancies.
In the music industry, we're watching businesses that are profitable and sustainable go to the edge of bankruptcy simply down to cash flow. These hard working individuals have been paying their way for years, have already been hit by illegal downloading and the decline of CD sales, and do not have the Government to bail them out."
Read the full feature here - its a bit angry this week admittedly.
"Online music PR team Tomorrow Never Knows is keeping viewers of the Sky News website updated on the economic downturn's effect on the music industry in a new weekly column. Ritch and Bally Ames, the husband and wife team who run the company, have been contributing to the business pages for the past five weeks. Their articles detail what it is like to be a small company in the music business during the economic decline"
The Beat Surrender have reviewed Rundeko's "Everybody", which is out this week;
"23 year old Russian producer Rudenkoreturns with his new single Everybody and as well as a top notch remix package from the likes of Dabruck & Klein, Morjac andDon Diablo, he also has a new vocal sensation on the track as well.
She is Charleene Rena, a sexy young lady who has aleready appeared in the last bond movie and is now focusing on her music career. She turns in a sultry performance on this house track and is a definite star of the future, Rudenko himself, a big name in his native Russia, could also be about to break big over here as well with this track.
It’s nice to have some decent commercial dance music doing the rounds at last! The single is out now through Data Records"
Click here to see the full review
Female First have given Alela Diane's "To Be Still" a 4 out 5 review;
"It’s very rare these days to stumble across a musician who can perform song after song beautifully and without over-reliance on a backing band or studio editing… finally we have found someone who can give us everything we could want, in the form of Alela Diane.
Alela is the folk musician to check out at the moment; using each of her songs to tell a personal story accompanied by just a simple guitar beat, easy-going drum set and a haunting bluegrass fiddle. Okay, so it’s not exactly the kind of album you’d play when getting ready for a night on the town, or possibly even if you wanted cheering up.
It is in fact something you’d expect from a group of twenty-something’s gathered around a campfire on a warm evening with just a couple of makeshift instruments and tins of beer for company.
Each song on the record was written and performed solely by Alela; and amongst the melodies and melody, her voice has a great range of expressiveness as she shares her songs with us, whilst the arrangements are haunting and beautiful at the same time.
The care and attention lavished on every tiny detail throughout the album means that no song sounds like any other. However, utterly dominant throughout is the voice. Unhurried, completely sure of each move, it glides across these eleven songs with a complete disregard of the laws of gravity.
Rating: 4/5 - a pleasant listen."
Click here to see the full album review on Female First
Male First have reviewed the War Child album "Heroes"
"Cover versions are the most difficult of minefields to manoeuvre in the music world. They can work brilliantly and give an artist the chance to show their ability to make songs their own, earning them a great deal of respect. Alternatively they can open them up to a whole world of hatred from avid fans angered at the audacity to ruin a classic.
Fortunatly War Child: Heroes' album of covers fall into the first category. The concoction that comes from taking classic songs and letting fresh faced artists loose on the, is one of brilliance and this collection of songs brings around that warm fuzzy feeling that can only come from knowing you've done good.
The whole concept of the album was for legendary musicans to choose the artist who would cover their track. Sir Paul McCartney has made many a mistake in his time we can all agree but the choice of Duffy to cover Live and Let Die is definately not one of them. The Welsh singer's soulfulness make this the highlight of the album, and show precisily why Duffy fever raged in 2008. Her voice brings a diva-edque sound to the song and will no doubt bring the track to a whole new legion of fans for whom Paul McCartney has never been anything but the bloke who lost all his money to that mad woman.
Lily Allen's take on The Clash's "Straight to Hell" is the most bizarre in the collection, and although it sounds like it should be a disaster, it's actually a bloody good track. Don't get me wrong it in no ways lives up to the original but there's few people who could take on the might Clash and come out this strong.
Another suprise comes in the form of Rufus Wainwright. Eternally underappreciated Wainwright's is a talent that more often than not goes unnoticed. The medley of Brian Wilson's Wonderful and Song for Children is classic Wainwright and shows all those who ignore him exactly what they're missing by doing so. Vocally beautiful this is a track that will stay with you when others have become forgotten.
Speaking of tracks to fprget, some tracks of the album, like Elbow's take on U2's Running to Stand Still and Beck's version of Leopard-Skin Pill-box Hat fall short and sounds too similar to the originals and dare I say it, are a bit of a bore. Fortunatley these are few and far between, and god has blessed us with a fast forward button for these very situations.
Estelle's feminised version of Superstitious is worth checking out as its no mean feat taking on the great that is Stevie Wonder but boy does she do it, and does it with enough sass and soul that this track alone could probably carry the whole album.
Luckily she doesn't have to and the mix of indie kids, soulful ladies and electro bands mean it'll be a hit with many. If there was ever a reason to buy an album, charity would be it. It doesn't hurt that this charity album also happenes to feature some of the best cover versions heard in a while."
Click here to see the full feature on Male First
"The fifth album in the series was released on 16th February, with the concept that the biggest legends in music history select their personal favourite song from their own songwriting canon, and nominate an artist from the next generation to create a modern reworking of that classic song.
The likes of Beck, Duffy, Elbow and Franz Ferdinand headed to the legendary Abbey Road Studios after being handed songs by Bob Dylan, Sir Paul McCartney, U2 and Blondie.
Parlophone are donating all the profits to War Child's work to protect the most marginalised children in war zones, who would otherwise be overlooked: street children, child soldiers and children in prison. For more information head to www.warchild.org.uk/heroes.
The tracklisting of 'War Child: Heroes' is:
Beck - 'Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat' (Bob Dylan)
Scissor Sisters - 'Do The Strand' (Roxy Music)
Lily Allen - 'Straight To Hell' (The Clash)
Duffy - 'Live And Let Die' (Paul McCartney)
Elbow - 'Running To Stand Still' (U2)
TV On The Radio - 'Heroes' (David Bowie)
Hot Chip - 'Transmission' (Joy Division)
The Kooks - 'Victoria' (The Kinks)
Estelle - 'Superstition' (Stevie Wonder)
Rufus Wainwright - 'Wonderful/ Song For Children' (Brian Wilson)
Peaches - 'Search And Destroy' (Iggy Pop)
The Hold Steady - 'Atlantic City' (Bruce Springsteen)
The Like - 'You Belong To Me' (Elvis Costello)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - 'Sheena Is A Punk Rocker' (The Ramones)
Franz Ferdinand - 'Call Me' (Blondie)
Watch the album's trailer:
To contribute to the worthwhile charity and and get your hands on these unique and exclusive cover versions, pick up the album here.
To see the full Click Music feature click here
This is Fake DIY have a great feature about the album;
"War Child's new album 'Heroes', which sees music legends select their personal favourite song from their own songwriting canon then nominate an artist from the next generation to create a modern reworking, is released today (16th February).
The tracklisting reads:
1. Beck (Bob Dylan: Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat)
2. Scissor Sisters (Roxy Music: Do The Strand)
3. Lily Allen (The Clash: Straight To Hell)
4. Duffy (Paul McCartney: Live And Let Die)
5. Elbow (U2: Running To Stand Still)
6. TV On The Radio (David Bowie: Heroes)
7. Hot Chip (Joy Division: Transmission)
8. The Kooks (The Kinks: Victoria)
9. Estelle (Stevie Wonder: Superstition)
10. Rufus Wainwright (Brian Wilson: Wonderful/ Song For Children)
11. Peaches (Iggy Pop: Search And Destroy)
12. The Hold Steady (Bruce Springsteen: Atlantic City)
13. The Like (Elvis Costello: You Belong To Me)
14. Yeah Yeah Yeahs (The Ramones: Sheena Is A Punk Rocker)
15. Franz Ferdinand (Blondie: Call Me)
War Child works in the world’s most dangerous war zones including Iraq, Afghanistan, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, aiming to protect children who are hit hardest by war and its consequences.
Elbow's Guy Garvey commented: "War Child do exactly what it says on the tin. These kids shouldn't be in such circumstances in the first place, but they are, so thank god someone's doing something about it."
Click here for more information, and here to buy a copy."
Click here to see This Is Fake DIY's War Child feature in full
AOL give the War Child "Heroes" album an 8 out 10 review!
"The latest War Child album has something of a dream premise. A selection of the greatest names in music pick out a song of theirs, and then nominate a current musical big hitter to cover it. The resulting album, which will raise money for the children who live with the brutal effects of war, sees Beck covering Bob Dylan's Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat, Elbow take on U2's Running To Stand Still, The Hold Steady doffing their cap to The Boss' Atlantic City and Duffy rework Paul McCartney's Live And Let Die. Charity album or not, it's a worthwhile project, but considering where the profits are going, it's near essential"
Click here to see the review
Music OMH give War Child's "Heroes" 4.5 out of 5!
"It's been 14 years since War Child released their first compilation album and, sadly, their work is even more important in 2009. Heroes is the fifth album released in aid of the charity which provides assistance to children in areas of conflict and post-conflict. Considering the amount of war-torn districts across the world, their work remains vital.
As well as the noble aspects of the charity involved, War Child's albums have always managed to sound like pretty decent records in their own right. The last couple of albums have concentrated on cover versions, with this year's twist being that various legends of the music business chose their own track and selected an artist of their choice to reinterpret it.
The results are, predictably enough, a mixture of the great, the average and the bloody awful. It also provides an interesting insight into the mind of the original artists, with the obvious (Bruce Springsteen choosing The Hold Steady) and not so obvious (who'd have thought Paul McCartney would have been a fan of Duffy - then again, he's got form with young blondes...).
It's a decent gimmick to use, especially with seemingly every compilation album post-Live Lounge being saturated with cover versions. The most successful tracks here are, as is usually the case with covers, the numbers where the bands concerned have attempted to do something a bit different with the song.
So, we have Peaches turning Iggy & The Stooges' Search And Destroy into a brilliantly scuzzy grimy electro-rock anthem, Scissor Sisters raving up Roxy Music's Do The Strand, while Hot Chip manage to sound both simultaneously terrifying and mournfully sad on their reworking of Joy Division's Transmission.
Some of the more faithful covers also work superbly. Yeah Yeah Yeahs were probably born to cover Sheena Is A Punk Rocker by The Ramones and do so with aplomb here, while Elbow are the perfect band to recreate the quiet majesty of U2's Running To Stand Still. In fact, Guy Garvey and company probably come closest here to making the song chosen for them their own.
Other songs don't fare as well. The Kooks do a perfunctory run through The Kinks' Victoria and are inevitably overshadowed by The Fall's mighty cover a few years ago. Estelle, rather surprisingly, does the seemingly impossible and robs all the joy and life from Stevie Wonder's classic Superstition in her rather flat rendition. Duffy's Live And Let Die is even worse, reinventing Macca's Bond theme as some kind of lounge ballad while demonstrating some very odd vocal diction.
It's churlish to complain too much though, especially when your money is going towards such a good cause, and the majority of the tracks are excellent. Lily Allen, for instance, breathes new life into The Clash's Straight To Hell, helped by Mick Jones himself on guitar and backing vocals. The Hold Steady are also a notable highlight, transforming Springsteen's Atlantic City from a stripped down ballad into a full band version that the E Street themselves would be proud of.
The idea of an album filled with the biggest stars in the music world coming together for a good cause may not as unusual as it was 14 years ago - indeed, Heroes has the ill-fortune to be released on the same day as 4AD's similarly star-studded Dark Was The Night compilation. Yet the worthiness of the cause and the exclusive nature of much of the material here makes this another essential War Child release."
Read the full review here
The BBC review War Child's "Heroes";
"Yet another charity cover versions album, War Child: Heroes adds novelty by asking the original artists to choose who should revive their songs. The results are predictably mixed: Mick Jones' choice of Lily Allen to add sugar and cream to The Clash's Straight To Hell proves surprisingly inspired, while Paul McCartney once again picks the wrong woman, with Duffy suffocating Live And Let Die with coy mannerisms.
As with all covers, the best songs here revere the original (is there anything more dispiriting than an ironic cover?) but add a new dimension or perspective, As well as Allen's chimingly lovely version of Straight To Hell, her sweet vocal making the lyrics bite even harder, Peaches brilliantly re-invents The Stooges' Search And Destroy as sleek, dark electropop and Scissor Sisters streamline and discofy Roxy Music's Do The Strand.
Of the bolder cover attempts, only Duffy's Live And Let Die truly falls flat on its face. Presumably, slowing down this former Bond theme was an attempt to add Shirley Bassey grandeur, but losing its abrupt, playful shifts in tempo robs it of all its former charm. Rufus Wainwright fares much better with his medley from Brian Wilson's Smile, pushing his florid, elegant vocals to the forefront.
There are more straightforward revisitings, too. Beck's version of Leopard-Skin Pill Box Hat is strikingly similar to Bob Dylan's own honky tonk version, with a little added swagger, while Elbow approach Running To Stand Still with the same stately grace as U2. Sadly, TV On The Radio's version of David Bowie's Heroes is a mess, with its hard electro beats adding nothing to the futuristic perfection of the original.
War Child: Heroes is admirably more ambitious than many previous covers records, and the fact it succeeds so often is to its credit. But given the breadth of talent assembled here, you do wonder whether letting them turn in their own homework might have been even more satisfying."
Click here to see the review
Noize Makes Enemies review the Alela Diane album "To Be Still"
Alela Diane is another singer/songwriter from the folk genre. There seems to be hundreds of these artists, usually plaguing open mic nights, Diane doesn’t really stand head and shoulders above the rest but “To Be Still” has its moments that make her a little more interesting than the majority of others.
Her voice, a key part of her signature sound, is a cross between folk, yodel and Alanis Morissette. There is no denying that she can sing very well but this style has been heard a lot before so it’s hard to make anything special of it. She plucks away coyly on an acoustic guitar which, whilst it works well, blends in too well because this formula is so clichéd.
Diane uses plenty of instruments to colour the album a bit more, including a pedal steel and a mandolin to name a couple. The best track of the album, White as Diamonds, uses soft violin playing that strokes and comforts the softest part of you. However, a lot of the songs on the album just mesh into one long medley due to them all sounding too similar. “Age Old Blues” has guest singer Michael Hurley and their voices work together as well as Jim Morrison and leather trousers. They don’t harmonise enough in the song though and when they do it is for fleeting moments before Hurley goes back to ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ before finally cutting out.
The album, as with most singer/songwriter albums, has a heavy melancholy to it which quickly gets tiresome. Even the lighter, happier songs have an air of melancholy around them. There is no denying the authenticity of the songs, each word sung, each note plucked, sounds genuine and heartfelt from the very depths of Alela and her musicians, whether they are melancholic or not.
This album is quite generic, although I can see it has a lot of potential for those who are really into the singer/songwriter folk scene. There’s nothing bad about this album, it’s just there isn’t much that makes it great.
Read the full review here
The Music Magazine have given "To Be Still" an 8 out of 10 review;
"Alela Diane’s debut The Pirate’s Gospel was one of those albums that snuck up on you. Pleasant enough, but seemingly innocuous on a first listen, repeated spins ensured it would entrench itself in your soul and place you firmly under its warm embrace. A mix of old world folk, campfire and shanty coupled to Diane’s uniquely affecting voice; it was undoubtedly, for many, one of the records of 2007. Two years on, after a hectic tour schedule and collaboration that have included the wonderful Headless Heroes project, alongside David Holmes, she releases her sophomore effort To Be Still.
Opener Dry Grass & Shadows marks an immediate departure from her debut. Where The Pirate’s Gospel relied on the plaintive and often quirky duo of Diane’s voice and her acoustic, To Be Still sees her flexing her song-writing muscle, fleshing out the skeletal approach from her debut with traditional instrumentation including fiddles, strings, lap steel and some percussion. Where this works, the effects are enchanting; the aforementioned opener, where lap steel swaddles guitar and percussion to create an enveloping pastoral drone. The breathtaking, cello-backed atmosphere of White As Diamonds, the banjo chug of The Alder Trees and the towering The Ocean are wonderfully majestic and tear at your heartstrings rather than tug at them. On the rare occasion her song craft doesn’t hit these heights, you yearn for the bare sound of her debut, the title track in particular, recalls the overworked nature of Iron & Wine’s latest output.
However fleshed out these songs are however, Diane’s voice is still the lynchpin behind this project and it’s still wonderful, perhaps even grown in confidence, her range filling every nuance from hoarse and uncertain to effortlessly soaring. The themes of nature, so prominent in her debut are once again ubiquitous in her follow-up. Even when the themes turn to relationships, family and friends as in the ‘Rocky Racoon’-esque plod of Age Old Blues, accompanied by some hoary old wolf-hound vocals, the analogies always wind themselves back to the intimate knowledge of her Nevada homelands.
To Be Still is a strong follow-up to an excellent debut. Diane’s voice still powerfully touching, while the traditional compositions add an extra dimension to her craft. While the album sometimes feels that it lacks the intimacy and endearing charm of her debut, there is no doubt that these qualities will emerge with time. This is a timeless-sounding record and whether you’re a fan or a stranger drawn in by the hype, this is certainly worth a purchase."
To read the full review click here
The Beat Surrender review "To Be Still" by Alela Diane;
"Alela Diane returns with her sophomore album To Be Still this week and just like it’s predecessor it’s got a really organic and honest feel running throughout it, both in terms of the music and the lyrics.
It continues in many ways where The Pirate Gospel left off so it’s hardly likely to alienate many existing fans. If people will afford it more than one listen though, they will find a deeper level to this release that comes out with repeated plays, especially on tracks like Take Us Back, Dry Grass & Shadows, Every Path and Tatted Lace, which were all strong favourites of mine on the second spin.
The other thing this album really has going for it, is that the theme isn’t varied or muddled, it’s taking you on a very definite and at times sparse journey through one womans loneliness and isolation, while that may nopt be an easy listen for some it does make for a rounded and cohesive listen in my eyes(or should that be ears!)"
To see the full feature, click here
Monday, 16 February 2009
ElectroQueer feature the new Red Blooded Women single, and free Designer Drugs remix;
"Red Blooded Women covering Depeche Mode? - If that isn't more hot than hot than I don't know what is? It's certainly more hip than The Saturdays covering "Just Can't Get Enough" for sure! To be fair, Red Blooded Women had their designs on covering "Enjoy The Silence" long before The Saturdays (They have been performing this live for awhile now) announced their cover - and quite frankly, I think Red Blooded Women win here.
Make sure to download the "Designer Drugs Remix" of "Enjoy The Silence" right here, right now for your taster of the hot new single which is released on March 29th with a pleathora of mighty-fine remixes by Parralox, Heads We Dance, 7th Heaven and Bassmonkeys. I'm quite looking forward to hearing the rest of the remix package now - especially the Parralox and Bassmonkey's mix - who did a smash up job remixing Antigone's "More Man Than Man" last summer.
If your as mad for Red Blooded Women as I am, make sure you check them out live on 6th March at the next Electroqueer @ Underbelly show co-headling with Sam Taylor. I ran into Liz and Candy last week at a gig and they are really looking forward to performing for you EQ readers!"
Click here to visit ElectroQueer, and see the full feature
Thursday, 12 February 2009
MusicOMH give "To Be Still" a 4.5 out 5 album review;
"Alela Diane's debut album took four years to flutter into the consciousness of a public beyond the cafés of hinterland California with its sparsely arranged, post-Vashti Bunyan-esque songs of quietly bucolic travails. The follow-up comes with a much "bigger" production ("bigger" being a relative term). It's all the better for it.
Her first two albums came in home-made sleeves embroidered personally and strictly by hand by the then 20-year-old artist. They enjoyed minimal distribution, being sold exclusively at Alela Diane Menig's coffee house performances in Nevada City, a once-important gold rush centre in the hills behind Sacramento which today houses just about 3,000 souls.
New-Folk superstar Joanna Newsom lived here too, and encouraged the young singer-songwriter to perform her songs live. Even so, it took more than four years until the second of her self-produced albums, The Pirate's Gospel, via a succession of ever more professional indie labels and impressive performances in ever more prestigious venues, managed to attract the ears of a wider internationale of "wyrd folk" as well as singer/songwriter audience.
Whilst it has taken her four years to record another album of her own, her voice has not been entirely absent from the CD in-tray. By providing eerie, Mazzy Star-like vocals to songs like The Jesus And Mary Chain's Just Like Honey or Nick Cave's Nobody's Baby Now on producers Eddie Bezalel and Hugo Nicolson's cover versions project Headless Heroes, she proved that she wasn't quite the otherworldly folk-naif that the style of The Pirate's Gospel might have suggested.
On to To Be Still. The album, like its predecessor, was produced by Diane's father Tom Menig, together with Dan Elkan who was once a member of math rock bandHella, also from Nevada City. Compared to the sparse previous opus, this time the instruments are piled up sky-high, and the production is positively wide-screen.
Happily, this works to the advantage of both songs and voice. Mandolins, banjos, fiddles and even drums are applied with a touch that is both sure and sensitive. No instrument forces itself into the foreground, each touch is applied strictly in order to add nuance, emphasis and texture. These arrangements throw a new light on Diane's clear and still-water-deep voice, making it appear much more three-dimensional than on the previous album.
Melodically, too, To Be Still is both more sophisticated, more confident, and, above all, more convincing (if encountered in a less than fan-like frame of mind, the previous album could appear more than a little monotonous). In this respect, opener Dry Grass & Shadows with its peculiar, descending verse melody, accompanied by the brightest shimmer of a pedal steel guitar, makes for a breathtaking start.
The care and attention lavished on the minutest detail throughout the rest of the album means that no song sounds like any other. However, utterly dominant throughout is the voice. Unhurried, completely sure of each move, it glides across these eleven songs with a complete disregard of the laws of gravity."
Read the full review here
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
The Line Of Best Fit give Alela's new album "To Be Still" a 72% album review!
"Anyone familiar with Guy Garvey’s radio show will know that Alela Diane is currently sitting pretty as Garvey’s artist du jour. She’s a regular on the playlist, and often on the other end of the phone for a guest appearance and to soak up the compliments.
But just in case Guy Garvey’s stamp of approval isn’t enough to shift the units, To Be Still has got the goods that should see it flying of the shelves. Or at least making it into the odd Amazon basket.
This album is like a collection of short stories in song form, some personal, some in the third person. Each track has its own narrative, to make up a bigger picture of either Alela Diane’s life, or something pretty close to it. Mainly accompanied by an acoustic guitar, it’s the highly crafted song writing in which the talent lies in. There’s a mix of traditional folk melodies (’The Alder Trees’, ‘Take Us Back’) with more percussive numbers (’Dry Grass and Shadows’) and modern tales of the self (’My Brambles’).
Alela Diane’s vocals are a melting pot of female singer songwriters past and present, from Joni Mitchell to Jenny Lewis to Laura Marling. Despite her American provenance, there’s a hint of an English accent in the way she sings in her deep, at times slightly coarse, voice.
Nature is a strong theme throughout To Be Still, from animals to landscapes to the elements. The lyrics almost read like a Ted Hughes poem at times - “Last year’s antlers/Mark the trail” - and are unlike anything written by her contemporaries. She seems to write songs in the way people like Leonard Cohen to - with time, consideration, thought, and many re-writes. Not just a few clichés strung together.
There’s a lot of female singer/songwriters about at the moment, but Alela Diane stands head and shoulders above them all. And let’s face it, were we expecting Guy Garvey to be wrong?
Read the full review here
"Online music PR team Tomorrow Never Knows is keeping readers of the Sky News website updated on the effect of the economic downturn on the music industry in a new weekly column.
Ritch and Bally Ames, the husband-and-wife team who run the online pr and digital marketing company, have been contributing the feature to the business pages of the site for the past five weeks. Their articles detail what it is like to be a small company in the music business during the economic decline.
“It’s about economic developments and how they affect us as a family and as a business,” says Ritch Ames. “If you take away all majors, the music industry is made up a lot of very small companies and many of them are facing the same problems.”
The Ames run their business from the top floor of their home in Guildford and are both actively involved in writing the Sky News feature.
“We have a lot of heated arguments about what to include,” Ames said. “But I think Sky chose us because we can talk about the music too and that adds a bit of glamour.”
The article goes online at the end of each week. The most recent article detailed the effects of last week’s snow."
See the feature here
Tuesday, 10 February 2009
Monday, 9 February 2009
Other Melody Gardot news;
On February 5th, Melody performed a special and intimate showcase of her up coming album My One And Only Thrill at New York's Soho Apple Store on Prince Street.
With her debut album Worrisome Heart, Melody Gardot displayed her instinctive gift for transforming the traditions of jazz and blues with "her personal kiss of life." But even her most ardent admirers will be amazed at the giant creative leap forward she has taken with the follow-up, My One And Only Thrill.
Click to watch "Quiet Fire" (Live in Paris) and click to watch "Worrisome Heart" (Live in Paris)
Mixing Latin rhythms, finger-snapping blues and deep, smoldering torch songs, it's an album that seems to have been shaped from several lifetimes of love, loss and longing. Though she's still only in her early twenties, the rapturous reception accorded to Worrisome Heart by fans and critics meant that she suddenly found her life moving at triple speed, as Melody and her band bounced between gigs, hotels and airports as demand blossomed across several continents.
These eleven songs, covering a wide range of emotions, are all her own except for an irresistible, Brazilian take on "Somewhere Over The Rainbow".
Melody commented "I love Brazilian music, it's one of my favorite genres…Stan Getz bossa nova years, Getz/Gilberto, Jobim, Caetano Veloso… some amazing music has come from there. I think there is a sentimentality that's very specific to the Brazilian culture itself. The voices are soft and hushed, and the lyricism is dripping with metaphors and poetics."
To see a short film about Melody Gardot, click here
The fifth part of our Sky News feature is now live on the Business homepage:
"This week the Bank Of England cut the base rate to 1%. It doesn't sound right does it? 1%? All those on variable rate and tracker mortgages will be rubbing their hands with glee, those of us on fixed rates are green with envy.
So what are these people who have seen huge drops in their monthly repayments doing with this sudden windfall? Nice holidays? New kitchen? Brand new car? Putting it away as savings?
No - the people we know are being prudent because of the recession, so they are overpaying their mortgages!
Without savings, building societies can't dish out mortgages - which means it's pretty much stalemate.
That said, the Halifax have announced that house prices rose 1.9% last month. I'm still finding economics a bit confusing, Mrs Smith!"
Read the full feature here
"Into the groove. Alela Diane’s still waters run valley deep.
As I’ve said before, Californian songstress, Alela Diane, makes anachronistic, chilly, melancholic acoustic folk, singing for today with the voice of a bygone generation. Tapping into the same sultry, sexy, oppressively humid, tone that Eva Cassidy evoked, Alela plays tumbledown porch music like a broken, abused, fallen angel, whistling an ironic mirthless ditty to her finger-plucked dirge.
To Be Still further explores Alela’s ability to bring butterflies to bellies, and with this new release you can almost track her transformation from homegrown local singer/songwriter to touring recording artist. Right from the get-go, first track, Dry Grass & Shadows, laden with it’s country steels and indelible sense of wide open plains, finds us pulling out of some backwater truck-stop at 2am, leaving Barstow on Interstate 15, head resting against the glass, Alela’s songs of desolation and still waters ringing in our ears.
In the wake of anti-folk and all those who have assimilated the guise of folk musician, Alela Diane’s record seems genuine, bare, honest. It’s not tinted with the cynical, affected pseudo-psychedelia of recent folk outpourings, feeling more like a long ramble through cornfields and across babbling brooks with a mysterious, beautiful, simple stranger, rather than an evening snorting nutmeg off a rusty cooker with some charlatan in a tie-dyed kaftan. Do you see what I mean?
She’s a musically literate Scout Niblett, a fledgling Nina Nastasia, a lone rival to Anni Rossi for release of the month. She’s really rather good."
Click here to read see the full review
"Swedish broad Velvet is getting the full-on Pete Hammond/PWL (now PWE) treatment for the April U.K. release of her single "Chemistry."
We all recall how Alphabeat's "Boyfriend" got a similar mix, and it shot poptastic tingles down our pants for about the first 56 listens until we were so sick of it we never wanted to hear it again ever and it didn't even make the Chart Rigger Best of 2008 list except in a "special" category? (Repeat that sentence five times fast and win a gold star!)
Well, here's the "Pete Hammond Radio Edit" of Velvet's (real name: Jenny Marielle Petersson) "Chemistry." Let the similar naughty jolt ensue! (*Note: The video's trash, but the mix takes an interesting turn at 2:11 in.)"
See the full feature here
I want one of those Wall-E-esque robots to help me get dressed in the morning too - tre handy! I'm absolutely loving September's new look as well. It must be said, for after the jump, you'll see our lady-of-the-white-hairdo sporting a set of trousers that even Lady Gaga would max out her Mastercard for..."