Sunday, June 22, 2008

Róisín Murphy: The only woman I know who can turn a chip shop into a disco

Last year Róisín Murphy released 'Overpowered', her second solo album. Murphy used to be one half of the Sheffield based electronica duo 'Moloko'.

One of the songs from Murphy's new solo album ('Let Me Know') had this wonderfully entertaining video accompanying it with the lady in question returning from a night out to her local chip shop, only to turn it into an imaginary disco (you probably have to be a little drunk).

The results are hilarious, sexy and pure knock out. The track is an elegant dancefloor stomper, while Murphy looks like a stylish Grace Kelly with a retro pillbox hat.

"Let me know when you're lonely, baby."

2008 is the year when Coldplay ruled the world

Last week I read a news story in one of the UK newspaper websites where Chris Martin did an interview with BBC Radio 4's 'Front Row' programme, and two minutes into the interview, Chris said something like (and I'm paraphrasing here), "I don't feel comfortable with the questions that you are asking," and walked out.

I sat there and thought to myself, 'Chris Martin guy is not playing the game. How refreshing.'

Along comes the new Coldplay album and everyone anticipates that it's gonna be a load of old cobblers (the American translation: "a pile of crap"). However, not one for name-dropping, but the god-like Brian Eno produced the album (on the liner notes he's also credited for 'Sonic landscapes'), and when you read the credit, you can't help but crack a smile.

Track one, 'Life in Technicolour' starts off all ambient keyboards, then on comes some spagetti western acoustic guitar that's heavily treated. Suddenly you begin to think, 'Wait a minute, isn't this a homage to Simple Minds' See The Lights?'

As the songs unfold, you can feel of a church-like or majestic choir or orchestral atmosphere. The liner notes say the album was recorded in a bakery, a nunnery, a magic shop and a church. It's easy to name-drop other bands like U2, Simple Minds and Pink Floyd, however, this album is more Roger Waters than Bono.

Hold up, I'm now listening to track 5, 'Lovers In Japan/Reign of Love', and it vocally does sound like vintage U2, but the electronic soundscapes are very reminscent of Simple Minds doing session work with Brian Eno. The track has a military ballad vibe to it that is rather beautiful.

This is a lush album, and yet a brave one at that for Coldplay. In the past I've never taken Coldplay seriously, although their last album 'X&Y', did stand out, particularly that Kraftwerk track, 'Talk'.

But back to the new album... Track 6, 'Yes' kicks off with some soothing strings, then wanders into Pink Floyd territory via 'Darkside of the Moon' and 'Wish You Were Here'. I swear I could hear David Gilmore playing guitar on this song. Are those violins I hear? Interesting composition.

"I used to rule world" sings Chris Martin on the stunning title track 'Viva La Vida'. This has to be the knockout track on the album. I first heard this track on the Apple advert and it blew my mind.

Ladyhawke walks the walk and tells us 'Paris Is Burning'

They come, they go, and then in walks Ladyhawke with this infectious new song entitled "Paris is Burning."

What starts off with a lyrical melodic riff reminiscent to Gary Numan's "Cars" (dig it... "Here in my car, I see nothing at all.."), Ladyhawke is seen walking down the street at night, looking sexy and punky, something like Kelly out of Girlschool meets the lead singer of Garbage.

The track kicks off in a suspect way. You think to yourself, "Not another Numan rip off," but then the track suddenly steers off into a New Disco direction, and you're thinking, this is a garage rock attitude Studio 54 disco raunch ditty that really is a lot of fun.

I've read a few things about Ladyhawke, but I haven't checked my facts, however, from what I read, I think she's from New Zealand, but is into Ultravox, Gary Numan and all the early eighties electronic new wave music. She brings it up to date and throws in her own trademark sound.

Where the hell did she get that Snoopy t-shirt?

I think we're on to a winner here...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Martha and the Muffins return to Danseparc twenty-five years later

After 25 years, the wait for the reissue of Martha and the Muffins’ Danseparc is over. Stockhausen collides with punk funk in an aural collage of rhythm and found sound as the second most fan requested Martha and the Muffins album gets officially reissued and digitally re-mastered 25 years after its 1983 vinyl debut.

The fourth album from the Muffins canon, the second of three production collaborations by the now legendary and critically acclaimed producer Daniel Lanois (U2, Peter Gabriel), Danseparc will be reissued by Cherry Red for the very first time on CD in the UK and Europe on Monday 4th August 2008.

The digitally remastered 25th Anniversary edition of Danseparc will be the first of two major releases from the Muffins this year. In November, the band will release their brand new studio album 'Delicate', mixed by David Bottrill (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, Tool).

With songs written and performed by original founding Muffins, Martha Johnson (vocals, inverse guitar, keyboards, percussion) and Mark Gane (guitars, vocals, keyboards, percussion and treatments), Danseparc also features the musical expertise of Daniel Lanois' sister, Jocelyne Lanois (bass), Nick Kent (drums), and the Plunderphonics' John Oswald on sax.

Hailed as their strongest collection of songs to date, this beautifully packaged 25th Anniversary Edition CD edition captures the Muffins at their creative peak.

Track Listing:

1. Obedience
2. World Without Borders
3. Walking Into Walls
4. Danseparc (Every Day It's Tomorrow)
5. Sins Of Children
6. Several Styles Of Blonde Girls Dancing
7. Boys In The Bushes
8. What People Do For Fun
9. Whatever Happened To Radio Valve Road?

Bonus Tracks:

10. Danseparc (Every Day It's Tomorrow) (Original 12”Dance Mix)
11. These Dangerous Machines (B-side to Danseparc 12” EP)
12. Sins Of Children (Live at The Ontario Place Forum, Toronto, July 1983)

“When we worked in the studio,” reminisces Mark Gane, “Dan became the fifth member of the Muffins. Suddenly he’d play a percussion part, and then we worked on a treatment for the sound together. He constantly came up with great ideas.”

The album was digitally re-mastered during January and February 2008 by Peter J. Moore at The E Room in Toronto. Moore is best known for his production and engineering work on the Cowboys Junkies’ The Trinity Sessions album.

Danseparc 25th Anniversary Edition includes three bonus tracks including the original 12" inch dance mix of Danseparc, plus the accompanying b-side These Dangerous Machines, plus a previously unreleased live version of Sins of Children taken from the band's July 1983 concert at Toronto's Ontario Place Forum, featuring Michael Brook (guitar).

“The songs are an exciting mixture of the experimental and traditional pop,” says Liam Lacey of the Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper.

“The point of view, as Gane has said in the past, is middle class. It shows, not only in the obsessions with privacy and with personal revelation, but also in the concern with such classic Canadian literary themes as isolation and the precariousness of civilization and, at a deeper level, with sexuality and the tension between energy and order.”

“Some people frequent parks to romance each other,” observes Mark Gane, “but for others it can also be a place where you can get attacked and mugged. It’s a synthetic jungle, similar to a dance club at 3am in the morning when some people behave wildly and strive to become primitive, but don’t know how to achieve it. It’s impossible because we’re two million years ahead of the jungle.”

It’s no surprise the songs on Danseparc embody themes from the urban jungle. “When we originally recorded the album, we had an obsession with parks,” says Gane. “The concept of the park is an attempt by urban man to get to a point of naturalness again.”

Says the Globe & Mail’s Liam Lacey - “Between them, the songwriters define a dialectic, with Johnson favouring the songs about breaking down the restrictions of the world, and Gane leaning toward songs that attempt to define another kind of pleasant centre, into the almost infantile consciousness of dreams and mythology.”

“Rene Girard (the author of Violence and The Sacred) has said that cultures anxious about peace and security,” says Lacey, “are those most subject to destruction through violence, and that theme, or something like that theme, is often intimated throughout Danseparc.”

“If Johnson’s songs Obedience and Sins Of Children, delineate the social restrictions and traps,” continues Lacey, “then Gane’s Several Styles Of Blonde Girls Dancing is the song about seeking pleasure through dreams and myths. It was inspired by Gane’s dream of walking through a park, looking at trees inhabited by copulating monkeys, merged with Indian fertility symbols carved on a rock face.

The title track, Danseparc (Every Day It’s Tomorrow), is about people in their native urban city centers: structured and fearful, and imbued with complacency about society that is deliberately evasive.

Johnson’s wry commentary on What People Do For Fun addresses rarely-mined contemporary topics with disarming precision and unassailable musicality. Gane uncovers the existential angst in everyday social situations and ignites them with abstract ideas, accentuated by irrepressibly rhythmic music.

Martha and the Muffins: Official Site -

Cherry Records: Official Site -