Thursday, June 28, 2007

More Glastonbury posts coming soon

Not Long Now:

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

News: Verve, Prince, 50 Cent, Interpol, Hell Razah

Although Prince has threatened imminent retirement the man just can’t seem to stop working. Currently two weeks into his seven-week residency at LA’s Roosevelt Hotel -which precedes the release of new album ‘Planet Earth’ on July 24th and his string of London dates at the O2 Arena in August – the artist has announced the launch of a new perfume which will be available from July 7th. The scent, entitled 3121 will only be available from this here website at the witty tariff of $31.21.

The Verve have announced their reunion after eight years apart. Richard Ashcroft, Nick McCabe, Simon Jones and Pete Salisbury have reconvened minus Simon Tong who is currently enjoying success with The Good, the Bad and the Queen. Work on a new album has already started and is due to be completed in autumn before they embark on a winter tour. More details.

If last year’s ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’’ was anything to go by Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson better sharpen up those acting skills if he wants to go toe to toe with legends De Niro and Pacino. The NY rapper is in final negotiations to star alongside the acting veterans who play detectives tracking a serial killer in ‘Righteous Kill’. Fiddy will play a drug dealer aiding the detectives in their investigation.

Interpol’s fanbase continues to expand at an alarming rate with the announcement of yet another UK show. The NY rockers will play London’s Astoria on July 2nd to coincide with the release of new single ‘The Heinrich Maneuver’. That’s this coming Monday so you better be quick to get a ticket. The band will then return to the UK in August for a short tour including two nights at London’s 8250-capacity Alexandra palace. More info.

Finally, here’s a history lesson of sorts courtesy of Hell Razah feat. Timbo King, Tragedy Khadafi and RA the Rugged Man with new track ‘Renaissance’. Make sure you wait until the end to hear RA absolutely smash it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Kieran Hebden Interview

Los Campesinos! Interview

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Glastonbury: Saturday

With the continued blight of the weather prompting something of an exodus on Sunday afternoon, Tunetourist included, some of us will have to make do with our hazy recollections of Saturday night, until next year. And despite a shaky line-up, Glastonbury still rose to the occasion and delivered the fireworks - quite literally in the case of The Killers' headline set, announced by a spectacular display. It all ended, just as it should, with us wondering what we were doing dancing around behind the Park Stage at 5am.

Earlier in the day, after putting on a performance for the tabloid snappers and riding through the mud on a custom ‘Chopper’ bike, Pete Doherty actually managed to lead Babyshambles through a fairly convincing set. Much better than his appearance here in 2005, he papered over the cracks in their repertoire by milking stronger moments like “Killamangiro” and “Albion”. Lethal Bizzle joined him onstage and the inevitable Kate Moss appeared to cheers from one of the Other Stage’s biggest crowds of the weekend.

Over in the Green Fields tabloid frenzy was replaced by blissed out organic dall and coconut curry, storytelling and CND. At its furthest corner, the Avalon Stage hosted Super Furry Animal, Gruff Rhys’ second of three weekend shows, this time playing solo material with singer, Lisa Jen. Unhindered by the ‘greatest hits’ element of the Furries show on Friday, which kept things earthbound, here he allowed the songs to stretch and swell, tacking lengthy psychedelic outros to “Cycle Of Violence” and “Skylon”. Remarkably, the crowd stayed rapt as "GWN Mi WN" was gradually constructed from sampled beatboxing, vocals, harmonies, percussion and a dazzling array of toy instruments to become a true pocket symphony.

Most of the weekend, the Glade stage has seemed off-bounds, unless you’re a big fan of Dreadzone, Ozric Tentacles and Eat Static (isn’t it time for Glasto to let this stuff go?) But !!!’s Saturday night set was a revelation. On record the New York punk-funkers can be excessively proggy and unfocussed but they’re in their element here, working up increasingly tight grooves and then rolling them out across The Glade. Singer Nic Offer looked like he’d attained some otherworldly state as he strutted around in pervert’s 70s sport shorts, grabbing at himself and whipping the crowd into a frenzy.

Forget The Killers, the only other man at the festival capable of inciting this kind of anarchic hedonism takes to the Other Stage at 11 o’clock augmented by the Ashton brothers and new bassist, Mike Watt. Iggy Pop’s reformed Stooges are a scary proposition; there’s something unsettling about watching men of this age – remarkably, Iggy is 60 - playing such primal rock’n’roll. But there’s no question they mean it. “1969”, “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “Fun House” are all dispatched with that economical, dark boogie that is their gift to popular music. Part way into “No Fun” Iggy shouts “I can’t stand this shit anymore! Let them up here.” And the crowd, who’ve been fighting with bouncers to invade the stage throughout the gig, piles on through. In a matter of moments there’s somewhere near 100 people on the stage as they carry on pounding out the track. Iggy thows himself into the crowd below the stage and charges through the field shaking hands and embracing them. When he finally clears his stage to get back up, nothing that follows can quite live up to this glorious moment of rock’n’roll anarchy.

We’re left to wander off into the Pilton night, taking in a set that switches from Country to Gabba to Favela Funk in the silent disco, a great set from Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve at the Stonebridge Bar, poetry readings in a fishing trawler beached in the mud and, finally, that party behind the Park Stage.

At four o’clock on Sunday the final score looks something like this: just two complaints from local residents (down from 13 last year), “close to 10 out of 10” from Mendip Council, 166,000 through the gates, 237 crimes and 1,820 people receiving medical treatment – mostly for slips and trips.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Glastonbury: yesterday's action

The festival is nearing capacity with over 160,000 people onsite, most of the stragglers arriving after work and just in time for last night’s headline performances from the Arctic Monkeys, Bjork, Spiritualized and Hot Chip. Those that managed to clamber through 10 inches of increasingly sticky mud and stand precariously on ‘Pyramid Hill’ were rewarded with a great set from the clearly awed Arctic Monkeys. Those who paddled through rivers of mud to the Other Stage instead found Bjork in typically inspirational form.

Before all that though there was something of a festival greatest hits set from the Super Furry Animals, graced with the first significant break from the rain that blighted most of Friday morning. Kicking off with “Slow Life”, singer Gruff Rhys was sporting his favourite prop; a giant Power Rangers helmet with a microphone socket confusingly situated at forehead level. They proceeded to give the crowd pretty much exactly what they wanted, playing only a couple of straightforwardly poppy new tracks, including forthcoming single “Show Your Hand".

Rufus Wainwright brought some glamour to this unholy quagmire when, having played a set which included a duet with his sister Martha on “Hallelujah”, he encored wearing a silk dressing gown, bright red lipstick and high heels to deliver a perfectly choreographed version of Judy Garland’s “Get Happy”. Only Arcade Fire, seemingly the hottest ticket on the Other Stage today could possibly go head to head with that. But such is the critical mass that’s been built up around Win Butler’s everything-and-the-kitchen-sink Canadian outfit that you wonder why they weren’t offered a headline slot this year. Certainly the massive crowd (bigger than that drawn by Bjork later) and the ecstatic scenes which greeted “Rebellion” and “Wake Up” suggest that they might even be invited back for a Pyramid headline in the future.

It’s hard to envy the Arctic Monkeys, as thrilled as they surely are to be headlining the festival in such relative infancy; this set is a tough act to measure up to. Those who usually triumph here play stirring, complex, slightly otherworldly rock music not keenly observed three-minute indie rock. But perhaps their reluctance to embrace the occasion with the anxious careerism of a Coldplay endears them to the crowd tonight.

They certainly don’t lack ambition and feel rightly confident with the songs, which are played without ceremony or ego. Singer Alex Turner is obviously awed by the occasion, thrilled but struggling to communicate his excitement to the crowd, he glances left and right at his mates onstage, eyes bulging with disbelief. And despite the crowd’s obvious preference for material from the first album, the set gains depth from the complexities and tempo of the best of their new stuff: “505”, “If You Were There Beware” and “Do Me A Favour”. Dizzee Rascal causes a commotion when he comes out for a verse on “Brianstorm” b-side, “Temptation Greets You Like A Naughty Friend” and bless them if they haven’t been working away at a special tune just for us. In honour of Dame Shirley Bassey who plays the festival on Sunday, producer James Ford is brought out on keys and they run through a Monkeyseque take on “Diamonds Are Forever”. A triumph, then.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Remi Nicole and Los Campesinos!

Glastonbury has welcomed its newest addition, The Park Stage, in fine style quickly turning it into a scene from the closing minutes of Apocalypse Now. Pity then, Remi Nicole who has the unenviable task of cheering up the sodden masses gathered at this inhospitable spot with her perky punk-pop ditties, surely better suited to summer shows in London parks.

Despite the gloom, the 23-year-old singer/songwriter bounds around in dungarees and confidently piles through a hook-laden set that includes single, “Fed Up”, and winning set closer, “Rock’n’Roll”. There’s enough here to suggest that the charts are likely to embrace her as a kind of sink-circuit Lily Allen. Remi speculates that if we all wish hard enough for the sun to come out we might pull off a positive twist on Travis' old rain-dance trick. We try. It rains even harder.

But despite the torrents, Cardiff seven-piece Los Campesinos! get a good turn out for their infectious feelgood indie pop. And, my God are they indie. We’ve described them here before as like Belle & Sebastian on e-numbers but we didn’t realise quite how accurate an assessment that was. They’re like an unholy alliance of The Beautiful South, singing B&S songs at the breakneck speed of The Stooges. Current b-side “It Started With A Mixx” is an undeniable winner but you imagine that the formula will outstay its welcome soon.

Finally, the raging Glastonbury skies may have one positive outcome. Mobile phone giants Orange have launched a prototype charger at the site today which uses wind energy to restore your phone's battery life. Sit the mobile wind charger on the top of your tent, plug in your phone and let God breathe new life into it. Genius. Presumably this is an accessory for owners of waterproof mobiles.

Then the heavens opened

Earlier optimism about the weather has been replaced by gloom this morning as we slept through a night of almost non-stop rain, prompting fears of a re-run of Glastonbury 2005. But, thankfully, we awoke to few floods, just the usual gateaux of slurry. The sun came out. Then it rained again.

Things are looking up now though and the music is about to kick off. Rumours are flying about the site of surprise guests and unscheduled performances, many of which focus on the new stage at The Park. The 9pm slot is the one that’s getting all the attention with Q magazine’s festival daily reporting that Michael Eavis is expected to announce “a potty-mouthed special guest” who has been “coming to Glastonbury for years” for a secret performance. Since we can’t see Gordon Ramsey doing Greenwich Village folk standards (or attending the festival at all for that matter) we’re speculating on Lily Allen, who has been a regular at the festival.

Noel Gallagher is also rumoured to be appearing with Kasabian tonight and the set on the Jazzworld Stage at 8pm, which is billed as Malian kora legend Toumani Diabate, is thought to be shaping up as something of a Malian supergroup, “Africa Express”, also featuring blind husband and wife duo, Amadou and Mariam.

There are now 148,000 people onsite, there have been a reported 12 attempts to breach the super-fence and just 13 reported thefts from tents. At the foot of the press stats board it reads, somewhat optimistically, “weather will get better.” A quick glance at the BBC forecast for the area suggests more light showers today and then blissfull sunshine tomorrow. Followed by a wash out to close the festival on Sunday.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Glastonbury 2007 is full.

Apparently most of the 177,000 people that are expected to descend upon Worthy Farm in Somerset this weekend got here already. When Tunetourist staggered through Gate D at 5.30 carrying twice its body weight in tents, sleeping bags and Jaffa Cakes it looked like we were late. Pilton real estate is suddenly more desirable than one of those cute Cornish villages that the locals can no longer afford to live in.

We found a couple of square feet up in the new camping area, “Paines Ground”, where Michael Eavis has expanded the festival this year up into his neighbour’s farm. (Too high for floods up here, see.) And despite a couple of micro-storms – those oddly intense and intensely brief showers that seem to be a unique phenomenon of this part of the country – the weather is pretty good. Though the skies were pregnant earlier, the sun is now out (8PM) and the ground is still fairly firm.

A stroll through the backstage area revealed that the Arctic Monkeys are already onsite in preparation for their headline set tomorrow night on the Pyramid Stage. All four of them were drinking at the bar, in a tight gang, just as it should be. As is customary, the press are hungering for the crime stats already. The official numbers are 18 reported crimes so far and 28 drug offences. Does this mean drug offences are no longer crimes? They do policing different down here.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to bring you news on performances from Los Campesinos, Tokyo Police Club, Super Furry Animals, M.I.A., Arctic Monkeys and maybe more, so check back with us in the afternoon.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Interview: Matthew Dear

We spoke to Detroit electronic wunderkind Matthew Dear last week as he prepared for his live show at Sonar 2007. The coversation touched on his new album, “Asa Breed”, his techno project, Audion, and much more. Here’s the first part of the interview with the second to follow very soon.

I'm not even sure how to pronounce the title of your new record. Where does it come from?

"I’d say, ‘Arsah Breed’. It was a minor character from a novel by Kurt Vonnegut that I read last year, called Cat’s Cradle. I just really liked the way the words jumped off the page, more just the sound of them. There’s no conceptual meaning connected between the album and the book."

It could be a metaphor for the way you make music, with absolute attention to the minutiae of sound…

"You know what, I haven’t thought about that yet but I like that one. Run with it, run with it."

You’re heading left of the dancefloor with this record. What’s your background in writing music, do you come from the clubs or the more traditional band stuff?

"I guess a little of both. That’s what’s weird about me, I’ve kind of straddled this line between electronic and organic my whole life. My father was a folk musician and he played guitar – nothing recorded – but I grew up with that side of Texas rock, folk music and country. Then I had my older brother who - somehow growing up in Texas - got hold of a lot of new wave and early New Order, Depeche Mode, Nitzer Ebb, Front 242.

"So I had this split personality as a kid, I was growing up listening to my Dad’s records and my brother’s records and I liked it all. Slowly but surely when I started making music around the age of 14, I started playing guitar first and then got a drum machine and kept it going back and forth. I’ve always mixed these sounds in my head and I’ve found that groups like Depeche Mode to me are some of the best songwriters of the last 30 years. It doesn’t matter that they’re more electronic; I didn’t see boundaries between the music."

Audion, False, Matthew Dear… your music appears in numerous guises, what’s the logic behind them right now?

"I wanted to focus Audion on making club hits and dancefloor tracks, the DJ culture stuff. It was a good year last year for Audion because it was more pronounced in that split of my personalities and I think if I’d put the “Asa Breed” record out then, it would have confused even more people because they wouldn’t have realised I was really trying to make a separation between the stuff under my own name and the techno as Audion.

“Asa Breed” is a pretty daring record in the sense that it offers no obvious stylistic coherence. How did you come to compile this particular set of songs?

"I’ve always been a bit of a risk taker I think but mainly because of the system I have set up. I have a really good relationship with Sam Valenti who is the owner of Ghostly International records and he has become more or less a musical confidant and a best friend of sorts. I can show him anything that I make and he wants to hear everything that I make. Over the past three years this record has been growing and amassing more tracks. Each one he’s heard the week after I made it, so I don’t have a fear of having to confine my music to any sort of system or set of structures.

"I’ve had total freedom in the studio, one day I can sit down and make an Audion song and the next day I sit down and make a weird little pop song with an acoustic guitar. I don’t sit down with a theme or a concept; I don’t sit down saying ‘okay, now I’m going to make this album.’ I’m making music constantly and when it’s time to put an album together, I go back and I pick from all those songs I’ve made over the past few years and I decide which ones fit together and which ones don’t."

Do the songs on the album span a long period?

"The oldest one is probably “Deserter”; I made that about three years ago, right after “Leave Luck To Heaven”, my last album. I just didn’t have a home for it, it was a little too poppy, a little too rock based for what I was doing. The most recent song on the album is probably “Good To Be Alive”.

Pop music is usually either predominantly rhythmic or predominantly melodic. Yours sits right between the two now. Where do you find the most overlap?

"I think rhythm is more important when I start making the songs. At first I work on a loop, just the basic drums and bass and synthesizers. Then I almost use my voice as a synthesizer as well just to branch the melody all together. Then it takes a turn… I like to write waves of melody, very simple at times, very pop-based but I’m not one for crazy scales or odd tuning or timings. In my mind rhythm and melody go hand in hand, but I think I’ve been able to learn a lot about rhythm by making techno music and I’ve tried to translate that now to this new style that I’m trying to do."

Matthew Dear's "Asa Breed" is released on July 2. The second part of this interview will be published next week.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Daft Punk at Wireless, June 16

Saturday’s Wireless festival was all about ‘The Pyramid’. Daft Punk’s giant onstage pyramid at the apex of which the French duo stood, peerlessly cool in their leather jackets and gleaming robot helmets. This was, according to most of the people we polled on the matter, quite simply the most awe-inspiring stage production ever witnessed.

That (we assume) it was staffed by Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo - still techno’s most credible mass market live proposition - on firing form was enough to send most of the population of Hyde Park hysterical from 8.45 onwards. In fact, an event usually condemned for its corporate sterility looked like a gigantic outdoor rave right up until they closed the night with a deluxe filter-house medley built from seemingly random triggers of "Together", "Aerodynamic" and Bangalter's "Music Sounds Better With You".

Opening with "Robot Rock" Daft Punk essentially spent an hour and a half riffling through the favourites, mashing them all together and burning through somewhere in the region of 30 tracks in the process. You could spot a "Technologic" here, "Face To Face" there, then "Crescendolls", "Around The World" until you could barely focus on what was happening. A "One More Time"/"Aerodynamic" medley and the trio of "Rollin’ And Scratchin'"/"Alive"/"Da Funk" provided marker points in the first and second half of the set respectively.

Even if the guys in the robot suits weren’t Bangalter and Homem-Christo and the whole set was just a pre-record on which the faceless stand-ins simply flicked a switch then bobbed their heads, it takes little away from a set so perfectly crafted for maximum mayhem. It was enough to make you forget that it’s about six years since they’ve done anything meaningful, that they've been reinvented and rendered somewhat anachronistic by a new generation of French producers, that the Justice album is released this week, even. Who’d have thought Wireless could be this much fun?

News: Sonic Youth, Go! Team, Ornette Coleman, Lightspeed Champion

Shockwaves have been reverberating around Tunetourist all morning after rather unsettling revelations from Thurston Moore over the weekend. FACT: legendary art rock outfit Sonic Youth’s next project will be released via Starbucks’ record label Hear Music. But anti-corporate fans need not worry too much as there is only one exclusive Sonic Youth track on there – the rest are covers by artists chosen specifically by the band, including Jeff Tweedy, Beck, and Marc Jacobs. More info.

Sub Pop continue to expand their indie empire with the addition of Brighton based six-piece The Go! Team. The band – who will release their sophomore effort ‘Proof of Youth’ on September 11th via the Seattle label – will also release two singles prior to this on their first home Memphis Industries. ‘Grip Like a Vice’ and ‘Doing it Right’ will be out on July 2nd and September 3rd respectively.

Avant-garde jazz legend Ornette Coleman was hospitalized yesterday after collapsing on stage at the Bonnaroo festival in Tennesee due to heat stroke. The 77-year-old saxophonist is currently resting under doctor’s supervision at the local Coffey County Hospital. It is not clear as to whether his upcoming European tour – including dates in Norway, Spain, Poland, UK, Italy and Germany – will be affected.

Finally, Lightspeed Champion - aka the new incarnation of ex-Test Icicles member Dev Hynes – is about to unleash his new material upon us. Travelling in a completely different direction to Test Icicles, he has replaced the noisy, experimental rock of his previous band with warm but slightly sinister indie pop ballads… just in time for the summer. The first single ‘Galaxy of the Lost’ will be released via Domino on July 16th and here’s the video to whet our appetites:

Friday, June 15, 2007

Yesterday's New Quintet - Yesterday's Universe

It’s hard work for the casual observer, trying to keep pace with Madlib’s Yesterday’s New Quintet project as it sprays albums from Stones Throw Records' Oxnard, California base. In a nutshell, the quintet is a jazz combo consisting of musicians Joe McDuphrey, Ahmad Miller, Monk Huges, Malik Flavors and Otis Jackson Jr. Except it's not, really. Even though each of the above musicians has released a solo jazz project via Stones Throw in the last five years there's only one face to put to all of them. Have you guessed it's Madlib yet?

Which, frankly, given the Beat Konducta's prolific work rate - currently readying for release tracks for Talib Kweli and Erykah Badu, an album for Percee P, a Jaylib-style collaboration LP with Karriem Riggins, an instrumental beat album called "Beat Konducta in India" - is simply exhausting to contemplate. Obviously those special herbs don't keep him in bed until lunchtime, like the rest of us.

It's worth noting that Madlib and his brother, producer/emcee Oh No come from an illustrious family of musicians. Their father was 70s soul singer Otis Jackson (who has the sort of name that sounds like you should of heard before, though we're not sure we have). And their uncle, Jon Faddis, was a jazz trumpeter who played with Charlie Mingus amongst others.

"Yesterday's Universe" marks the consolidation of all Madlib's jazz styles into one LP and features contributions from 'real' musicians Karriem Riggins (pictured) on drums and Azymuth's Ivan Conti (aka Mamão), also on drums.

"Two For Strata East", referencing the 70s label that released music from Pharoah Sanders as well as somewhat misfit masterpiece "Winter In America" by Gil Scott-Heron, hints at his affection for the afro-jazz of Sanders and labels like Impulse! A more complete tribute comes in the form of the superb "Cold Days And Rainy Nights" on which Madlib enlists every chime, swirl and percussive trick in the book of Sun-Ra to evoke that weightless blissout so brilliantly summarised on Soul Jazz's old "Universal Sound Of America" compilation. He does Brazilian jazz fusion with Conti on "Upa Neguinho" and funky Hammond jazz with a track attributed to Sound Directions, the project he's frequently trotted out for Blaxploitation party grooves. And that’s just scratching the surface really.

Utterly virtuoso then, but no less confusing. "Yesterday's Universe" provides us with a handy compact guide to the distinct styles/monikers of the Madlib jazz invasion; a loving homage to the old jazz vanguard and full ark of crate-digger’s progress in which the student becomes the teacher.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Justice at Mean Fiddler, June 11

Below is a glimpse of the scenes witnessed at the Mean Fiddler on Monday night when French electro rabble-rousers Justice came to town. As you can see, it was fun and the crowd went appropriately berserk.

But these kind of launch events (strict stage time and early enough for broadsheet journalists to be bothered to attend) hardly seem like the natural habitat of this act. They're built for after-hours parties we suspect. After all, this is not exactly a live show with ambitions to rival The Knife. They trigger the hits and tweak the bits and that's all that's called for at 2 o'clock in the morning.

News: Radiohead, Cat Power, Noel Gallagher

Radiohead have finally broken their silence about their new album, anticipated for release in the autumn. Apparently, recording is almost complete. Band member Ed O'Brien posted on their Dead Air Space website this week, saying: "A word from the studio. Yes I know its been a while... but we've been working on this album for a while... BUT WE ARE NEARLY THERE..." That's it. More news as we get it.

Cat Power has won this year's prestigious Shortlist Music Prize awarded by a panel of judges including Franz Ferdinand, Sufjan Stevens, the Flaming Lips, Snow Patrol, The Killers and others. Other artists in competition for the award - widely seen as an equivalent to the UK's respected Mercury Music Prize - included Beirut, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Joanna Newsom, Spank Rock, Tom Waits.

Oasis' Noel Gallagher is contemplating buying his beloved Manchester City football club, reports the Daily Star. Since the club's takeover talks with Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra ran aground he's spotted an opportunity to move in with former M-People star-turned-record executive, Mike Pickering. "I'm thinking of mounting a hostile takeover - me and Mike Pickering," he said. "I reckon we could scrape together about £400,000 in cash and I reckon we would get it for that."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

News: Doherty, M.I.A., Timbaland, The Game

We've been calling East London's Pete Doherty acolytes 'chimney sweeps' for ages but finally the moniker goes official. Doherty will be performing "Chim Chim Cher-ee" the chimney sweep's official anthem as popularised by Dick Van Dyke at the Royal Festival Hall on Sunday (June 17). Part of the Forest Of No Return: Hall Willner presents the Vintage Disney Songbook event, Doherty joins an illustrious cast including Jarvis Cocker and Van Dyke Parks in paying tribute to the best-loved Disney themes.

With lead-off single "Boyz" released yesterday (June 11), M.I.A. begins the campaign for her second album, "Kala", released on August 20. Timbaland and Switch are amongst those confirmed as producers on the record, the track list for which reads like this:

01 Bamboo Banga

02 BirdFlu

03 Boyz

04 Jimmy

05 Hussel [ft. Afrikan Boy]

06 Mango Pickle Down River [ft. the Wilcannia Mob]

07 20 Dollar

08 World Town

09 The Turn

10 XR2

11 Paper Planes

12 Come Around [ft. Timbaland]

Staying with super-producer, Timbaland, the NME reports that the man who dreams up hits for artists from Missy Elliott to Justin Timberlake spent time behind bars in Cologne at the weekend following a brawl. Timberland is reported to have become involved in a fight outside a Cologne hotel when an individual shouted racist insults at the producer, who was talking to the man's girlfriend. Timbaland was jailed and later released on bail early on Monday morning.

Notorious rapper, The Game, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he threatened to shoot a man during an incident at a school basketball match, which was reported here last week. Appearing at Los Angeles Superior Court he denied charges of criminal threat, possessing a firearm in a school zone and exhibiting a firearm in the presence of an officer. He remains on a bail of $50,000 but faces five years in prison if convicted.

Friday, June 08, 2007

News: White Stripes, Robert Wyatt, Touch and Go, Foals and Fog

Continuing the current trend of successful artists playing so called ‘secret’ and intimate gigs around the UK capital – QOTSA, Prince, Paul McCartney etc - The White Stripes are now getting in on the act with a ‘special one-off show’ in south east London. The Detroit duo will play the Rivoli Ballroom in Lewisham on Tuesday June 11th. Tickets go on sale the day before from and and are limited to two per person with proceeds going to charities supported by The London Pearly Kings and Queens Society.

Prog/psych-rock legend Robert Wyatt has unveiled details of his forthcoming Domino released LP ‘Comicopera’. Featuring a host of collaborations including friends such as Brian Eno, Paul Weller and Phil Manzanera, the sixteen-track album takes the form of a three act opera which not only covers Norwegian jazz musician Anja Garbarek but also delves into the world of Spanish, Italian and Cuban music and poetry. The album is released on September 24th and has been preceded by a very affectionate press release by none other than Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor.

Renowned Chicago indie label Touch and Go – home to Big Black, Slint, CocoRosie and Calexico amongst others – has followed in the footsteps of its spiritual cousin Warp and taken the big leap forward into the world of digital retail. Their own online store officially opened its doors on Tuesday, offering DRM free, 256 kb/ps MP3s available as entire albums or individually. It is also the only way fans can obtain digital copies of classic releases such as Slint’s Spiderland and the Shellac and Rapeman back-catalogue.

Math rock / indie pop quintet Foals are set to get a whole lot bigger after an invitation from indie giants Bloc Party to join them on their forthcoming tour - which will include two nights at London’s Alexandra Palace. The Brighton based rockers will support the band on four dates in December, this will follow numerous summer festival appearances and a tour of their own in September and October. In other exciting news the band will spend the summer in NYC recording their debut album with TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek and have just finished recording three ‘unique compositions’ with Kieran Hebden aka Fourtet which will be released on a set of special 12”s. More news on this will follow…

Finally, avant folk-hopper turned fully fledged indie rocker Fog has employed the talents of music video founding father – and Devo collaborator – Chuck Stadler to create a surrealist introduction to the new incarnation of his band and their forthcoming LP, the ace ‘Ditherer’. The album, which we can confidently state is his best work yet, is released via Lex Records this August.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Arctic Monkeys - Fluorescent Adolescent

Here's the ace new video from Arctic Monkeys to whet our appetites before the Domino released single on July 9th. Directed by Richard Ayoade, previously helming Nathan Barley and The I.T. Crowd, and featuring a typically violent performance from Stephen Graham - of Gangs of New York, Scummy Man and This is England infamy - dressed as a clown.

News: The Game, Macca, Akon and M.I.A.

West coast hip-hop bad boy – and sore loser - ‘The Game’ has well and truly upped his own thug stakes this month. The 27-year-old rapper - and Dr. Dre protégé - has been charged not only with making a criminal threat but also with possessing a firearm in a school zone and exhibiting a firearm in the presence of a police officer. The charges stem from a basketball game in South Los Angeles where the rapper pulled a gun from his car after punching a player from the opposing team and threatening to shoot him. If convicted he faces more than five years in prison.

Paul McCartney has also run into a spot of bother - albeit a bit less serious - regarding his twenty first solo album, ‘Memory Almost Full’. The album has just been released on Starbucks’ newly launched label Hear Music but it turns out that the coffee chain’s 533 UK stores are not registered with The Official Charts Company, thus any copy purchased in a UK branch will not be eligible for the UK charts.

Controversial US R&B star Akon has managed to get in trouble for manhandling his fans for the second time in two months. Fresh after video footage of him provocatively dancing with a fourteen-year-old girl was unveiled, new footage has surfaced showing him picking up a teenage fan and throwing him into the audience at a gig near Poughkeepsie, NY, after the fan threw an object at his head. Please excuse the vertically challenged footage:

Finally, UK/Sri-Lankan rapper M.I.A. has announced a release date for the first single from her eagerly awaited forthcoming LP Kaya . Entitled ‘Boyz’ the Switch produced single will be released on 12” and USB memory stick via XL Recordings on June 11th in the UK and August 20th in the US.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Dizzee Rascal – Maths & English

You don’t need a degree in Rapnology to be conscious of the fact that hip hop has been giving off a bad smell of late. East and west coasts either retread styles from back in the day or proclaim the death of their artform over pompous, shiny and hollow beats. Down south, flashes of inspiration struggle to surface through the morass of gaudy production line synths and dead-eyed gangsta parody. And when a fresh wind blows it tends to come from some unlikely cultural backwater. Baltimore for instance, where Spank Rock didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel but certainly gave the music a memory of its party-rocking past to chew over.

Grime may have been marginalised by the bloggers who first championed it – currently chasing dubstep into the same dark hole that swallowed drum ‘n’ bass around 2000 – and abandoned by the label A&R men that spread bling dreams throughout E3 in 2004, but don’t count Dizzee Rascal out.

“Showtime”, the largely excellent follow-up to his Mercury Prize winning debut “Boy In Da Corner” did little to bridge the gulf that had grown between Grime’s visceral street level impact and its absolute failure to present a palatable commercial face. Admittedly, “Dream” and “Fix Up Look Sharp” were more quick-witted and loveable than most of Roll Deep’s regrettable “In At The Deep End” but Dizzee was still at his best when knee-deep in paranoia and spitting bile over some clanking, industrial two-step.

“Maths & English”, released today, may just see him find the elusive balance between accessibility and credibility that everyone else appears to have given up on. For the purist, it’ll be greeted as his weakest to date, even though tracks like “Where’s Da Gs”, “Paranoid” and “Bubbles” are as strong and relatively uncompromising as anything that came before them.

The balance is right on “Sirens” which mines unlikely gold from a fusion of grime and new stadium metal. “Pussyole” too, manages to blend that old Rob Base & DJ E Z Rock break into a Belgian hardcore riff for pop perfection and “Temptation” just about gets away with including a vocal from the Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner, which serves no purpose other than the obvious audience buy-up. Elsewhere, though, there are the anticipated mis-steps. Lilly Allen hook-up “Wanna Be” is little better than you can expect from the singer responsible for “Alfie” and “Suck My Dick” should really have been left on the cutting room floor.

Pick your tracks though, and you have another fine record from the man who remains the UK’s brightest hip hop star.

Marco Polo feat Masta Ace

Here's a recent favourite of ours from producer Marco Polo's "Port Authority" album and featuring the peerless Masta Ace.

Forget about innovation this is all about loving that mid-90s rap sound and it manages to recapture a mood that's a decade old without resorting to pastiche. The video even looks like the sleeve shots from mid-nineties classics like "Illmatic" and "The Infamous". Appropriately enough, the track's called "Nostalgia", check it out.

Friday, June 01, 2007

News: Glasto line-up, Sufjan Stevens, Jack White

The full line-up for this year's Glastonbury Festival has been revealed in today's Guardian newspaper, filling in all the gaps behind confirmed headliners Arctic Monkeys, The Killers and The Who. Apart from a shocking scheduling pile-up on friday night - when Tunetourist favourites Bjork, Arctic Monkeys, Hot Chip, Spiritualized and Trentmoller all take to the stage at the same time - you should be able to compile an achievable wishlist of fine music across the three days. Our ones to watch include Bat For Lashes, The Klaxons (playing an electronic set in the dance tent on friday night), Super Furry Animals (who will preview material from their new album, "Hey Venus") and Tony Benn, whose Sunday afternoon talk is always a stirring proposition. Look out for live reports from Glastonbury on this page when the festival kicks off on June 22.

Just when you think you've got a handle on prodigiously gifted Michigan songsmith Sufjan Stevens, he goes and confounds all expectations. Seemingly the first fruit to emerge from Sufjan's studio since the mighty "Illinoise" LP, a new track has been unleashed, called "In The Words Of The Governor", which kicks his usual orchestral chamber pop into touch with a blast of wonky garage rock. The track will appear on a CD cover mount for Believer magazine and sounds more like a Pavement outtake than Sufjan. Listen to it here.

A hapless DJ on Chicago's Q101 radio station faced the full wrath of Jack White when she played a pre-release copy of The White Stripes' "Icky Thump" in full on her show this week, leading to poor quality audio rips doing the rounds on the internet. DJ Electra was called up by Jack White and given a stern talking to as soon as he discovered the source of the leak. In a web post explaining herself, the DJ wrote: "At 4PM today, Jack White called Q101's main offices from Spain, where they're touring, looking specifically for me, to yell at ME for leaking the album... I felt like I was going to throw up. Weirdest, most surreal conversation of my life." Let that be a warning to you: if you ‘jack’ Jack, prepare to explain yourself to the man himself.

Finally, passengers on Virgin Trains routes between London and Manchester may find themselves traveling on specially designed carriages customised by Damon Albarn collaborator and Gorillaz-creator, Jamie Hewlett. The trains feature graffiti-style set designs from Albarn and Hewlitt’s opera project, “Monkey: Jouney To The West” which opens at the Manchester International Festival on June 28.