Wittering Wednesdays – Plastic Beach and a dog in a bath

I spent much of last weekend with the new Rufus Wainwright album, ‘All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu’, and I’m happy to tell you that it’s a charming and understated little record. I know, I never thought I’d type that about Wainwright either, but here it is: a collection of twelve songs featuring Rufus and his piano. It features some of his most beautiful singing to date along with complex piano figures, similar to those found on parts of ‘Poses’. Some songs feature guest lyricist Bill Shakespeare who, it turns out, can bash together a decent sounding phrase or two. Album closer ‘Zebulon’, a live version of which appeared on The Guardian’s site a few weeks ago, is spellbinding. I can’t recommend it enough. An alternative performance can be clicked on below.

The need to ensure the Rufus review was done on time meant that a number of delightful promos that landed towards the tail end of last week sat on the side for a while. I’ve previously tweeted about Allo Darlin’ who, despite a truly chronic band name, make some lovely, melodic indie pop. The include Aussie legends The Go-Betweens in amongst their influences and that should give you some idea about their commitment to songcraft. Well worth keeping an ear on. The album will appear in June and I’ll endeavour to say more about it nearer that time.

thorn

Tracey Thorn is back in May with ‘Love And Its Opposite’, an album which eschews some of the bleepier aspects of previous outings and presents a record of chiming, mature pop that sounds blinking great to me. I’ve always loved her voice but sometimes the material hasn’t quite lived up to it. Certainly not the case here and, but for the fact that I can’t imagine how the general public might be whipped into such a frenzy, this record deserves to sell well. As it is, I suspect it’ll end up being a lesser-known favourite amongst those with discerning lug’oles. Get in ahead of the game with a free download of the track ‘Oh, The Divorces!’ which you can claim here.

The rest of the promo jiffy bag was less obviously fantastic fare, but I imagine at least a couple more of them will get a mention here soon enough. Fabulous one man music cloud, Keith KenniffHelios, Goldmund – has had some professionally made editions done up of his previously CD-R only website releases ‘Unleft (Unreleased Vol. 1) and ‘Live At The Triple Door’. You can order from him direct here and expect to receive your discs rapidly and wrappedly. Did I get away with that? Hmmm. Anyway, they arrive neatly wrapped with a little bow around them. Charming. The music is, just as you might expect by now, ethereal goodness that tops up the soul and massages the ears. Highly, highly recommended. Should you need further convincing, here’s the old FUTUREMUSIC piece from last year.

plastic beach

As I type, ‘Plastic Beach’, the latest opus from Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz, is blaring away and I have to say, it certainly has its moments. Mark E Smith’s “where’s north from ‘ere” at the start of ‘Glitter Freeze’ is, perhaps, enough to justify buying the whole bloody record. Add in the just-the-right-side-of-annoying ‘Superfast Jellyfish’, childishly lolloping ‘Some Kind Of Nature’ (replete with Lou Reed) and the chaotic ‘Sweepstakes’ and things are looking up. ‘On Melancholy Hill’ is the latest addition to the Damon Albarn Musical Genius Songbook, a compilation I really should make some day. It is borderline perfect, with its slow-Daft-Punk opening, muffled Damon vocals and innocent background chimes. It makes me smile, and that’s a pretty decent test as far as I’m concerned. At almost an hour, it flies by surprisingly quickly and there is little to make you long for more judicious editing. The vinyl edition can’t come soon enough, but there’s much to like about the CD/DVD Experience edition so I’d treat yourself if I were you. You look like you deserve it.

A few shocks this week. Firstly, it turns out I love the album that is currently top of the UK sales chart. I feel completely out of step with what old people call the ‘pop charts’ these days, so to find that Ellie Goulding’s ‘Lights’, which may well end up being the pop album of 2010, is the best selling album in the country, despite me really liking it, took me by surprise. Were all of the supermarkets’ stocks of Michael Buble albums on holiday for a week? What happened? Anyway, forget some of the slightly sneering backlash that some corners of the music press are opting for and embrace an album full of lovely melodies and outstanding production.

The second shock was rather more severe. It was caused by this picture:

bang-500

This is the actual cover of the new album by The Divine Comedy! What can you say? Loving the gong at the back of shot and the return of the ‘A Short Album About Love’ era logo design though. Till next time…

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