Music I'm looking forward to in 2008
For my final post as guest blogger, I thought I’d share with you some musicians I love, all of whom have new albums on the way in 2008. I just noticed the majority are female singers… but at least there’s one guy!
Emiliana Torrini - She’s in the midst of writing and recording her new album - VERY exciting. Her voice is so unique, it just makes me happy. Her last album ‘Fisherman’s Woman’ is a favourite on my iPod. We became friends in 2007 and my most lovely memory of her is from Los Angeles in June when she came to our Temposhark show and gave me a white rose as a gift, making my night even more special!
Sam Sparro – My producer Sean McGhee told me about Sam but I don’t know too much about him yet. I like the original version of his song ‘Black and Gold’ which you can hear on his MySpace page. He sounds a bit like D’Angelo meeting electro-era Goldfrapp in a dark alley.
Julianna Barwick (photo with this blog) - Guy Sigsworth introduced me to the beautiful music of this equally beautiful New York based singer. Her mini album Sanguine is made up of zillions of loops where Julianna’s short vocal phrases become a one-woman choir. Her live performance in London last October was just SOOOOO good! Her influences range from Björk and boy choirs to Panda Bear and Thom Yorke. If you like Animal Collective, you'll surely like Julianna too. Download a free live session she did for the cool radio podcast Má Fama - it's the show dated 13th November 2007.
Kate Havnevik – Kate’s album ‘Melankton’ spent a lot of time on my stereo in 2007, so I’m really excited she’s currently recording her second album in Norway, Poland and London. I believe she is producing this next record herself but as always, she’s collaborating with some super talents. Catch her video blogging from her studio over at YouTube.
Like An Icon - If you, like me, are intrigued to hear the new hip hop influenced Madonna album, then I recommend reading a new book all about her music written by Lucy O'Brien. This book stands out from previous Madonna biogs because its main focus is on her actual music rather than delving too much into her personal life. It has insightful behind-the-scenes interviews with musicians, producers, dancers and directors including one I did for the book when I was in New York with M’s old stylist Maripol, who was responsible for Madonna's early image and rubber crosses. She told me lots of cool stories about late 70s/early 80s Manhattan working alongside Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Blondie. You can pick it up now at a bookshop near you or Amazon UK and USA.
Laura Marling – Laura is a young British singer (she's only 17 I think) who recently signed to Virgin records. She was on Later with Jools Holland and I fell in love her song ‘New Romantic’. Her first album 'Alas I Cannot Swim' is released on 4th Feb in a unique Song Box format containing the CD album, exclusive concert ticket and set of album mementos. Gotta be good!
Map The Music - an indie documentary film following musicians around the USA on tour including Imogen Heap, Rachael Yamagata, Kate Havnevik, and even Temposhark. I haven’t seen any of the footage yet but I know we all had a lot of fun filming it. An early preview trailer is up now, while Sam Hale and her team finish editing the film.
Mirah - I've been a fan of Mirah for years now and am always surprised by what she does next. Her remix album from last year 'Joyride' was amazing. She has 5 albums, on the awesome K Records label, all of which are worth getting. She's a true indie artist with an amazing voice and lyrics. Hear some of her albums at iTunes or find her CDs (and cool Tshirts) at the KRecs.
Lastly, Zero 7 star Sia's new album is streaming at MySpace and she is about to tour in the USA. I like her new song with Beck called 'Academia', plus she's covered The Pretender's classic 'I Go To Sleep'. I also used to be mad about her song 'Fear' from her debut album 'Healing Is Difficult'.
Right that's it from me! A big thanks to Arjan for asking me to contribute, I’ve really enjoyed it… Happy new year, sending you much love for 2008.
Listen to Valente
To kick start Arjan’s blog for 2008, I’ve come up with the perfect new artist to take away any hangover blues from New Years Eve! Valente is an extraordinary singer, producer and songwriter whose stunning debut EP ‘Escape Artist’ is out now on iTunes worldwide.
Valente Bertelli's soothing music reminds me of boundary-pushing artists such as a young David Sylvian or The Postal Service. My friend Tiff (of TIFFcast.com) first told me about Valente in May 2007, and I was immediately captivated by his intimate sound world and revealing songs.
You may already have heard Valente's awesome vocals on the recent project Two For The Road produced and created by Marc Collin, the producer behind Nouvelle Vague… which also led to Valente becoming one of the main vocalists on 10 songs for the forthcoming third Nouvelle Vague album, set for release later in 2008. So he's definitely a hot new talent to keep a close eye on!
Exclusive Review: Alanis Morissette's Bold New 'Flavors'
A few weeks ago I got a call from one of my producers Guy Sigsworth saying that he’d nearly finished the project he, and his colleague Andy Page, have been working on for the majority of 2007 - the brand new Alanis Morissette album ‘Flavors of Entanglement’. Guy asked if I would pop over to his studio to have an album playback and share my thoughts. I was really excited, partly because I didn’t really know what to expect.
When ‘Jagged Little Pill’ came out in 1995 I was 14, and it swiftly became one of the most important albums for me alongside Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’ and Tori Amos’ ‘Little Earthquakes’. I loved their honesty, their melodies and their strength. Skip forward to Autumn 2006 and I was working with Guy on ‘Winter’s Coming’, the closing song for my debut Temposhark album. Alanis had just approached him to see if he’d be interested in collaborating.
One year on, I arrive at Guy’s studio in West London. He reminds me that by now they’ve produced and co-written well over twenty songs! In this one afternoon I hear 22 songs in total, and as each song went by, it was like falling in love with Alanis all over again.
Four highlights for me were ‘Citizen Of The Planet’ which starts off with intriguing lyrics that twist and turn around a captivating melody before hurtling into one of the best choruses of her career - it’s just MASSIVE and her voice cuts right through you... Another gem called ‘Madness’ is spell binding in its beauty, and actually a really long song at over six minutes if I remember correctly, but unusually it didn’t feel long at all! I could’ve listened to that one over and over again...
‘Straitjacket’ is another powerful track that has stuck in my head, with genius lyrics and great melodic hooks... whilst my favourite of all the songs is called ‘Torch’. It’s just the most touching, almost devastating, dedication to the end of a relationship and the things you miss most about your day-to-day life with a partner.
And it was on hearing ‘Torch’, that I remembered why Alanis is such an important voice. She is so good at channelling her subconscious, those true thoughts most people hide. She can take those deeply private emotions and translate them in a simple, easy-to-relate-to way; putting into words what so many of us feel. This new collection of songs takes you on a serious emotional journey, across many highs and lows, and is possibly her best song writing since ‘Jagged Little Pill’ and 'Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie'. It’s just so easy to connect with – the end of a relationship, the value of childhood friends, complicated family ties and all kinds of emotional ‘entanglements’.
Robert's review of Alanis continues after the jump!
Having heard these new songs, the first thing that struck me was Alanis’ voice. It seriously took my breath away. She sounds invigorated and consistently on top form. The diversity of her voice really comes across in what must be some of her best vocal performances recorded. In some songs it just sounds like she’s flying, the vocals are spot on! And the song writing really delivers – the lyrics are fresh and the melodies take a whole new direction.
As you'd expect from Mr Sigsworth, the production and arrangements are so unique, no-one else could make music sound this beautifully compelling. The wall-of-guitars in one track is like nothng I've ever heard. I bet that someone like Metallica or Marilyn Manson will be calling Guy up next to get that exact sound! There’s an epic quality to many of the tracks, making them perfect for film soundtracks - one even sounded a bit like a James Bond '007' theme tune! Any of the 20+ songs that don't end up on the final album tracklisting must find a good home on soundtracks, they're all worthy of maximum exposure.
‘Flavors of Entanglement’ is without a doubt a career highlight. It was almost like a new discovery for me, or a re-discovery, of a voice that had been such a big influence on the teenage me. In the same way that Madonna’s ‘Ray Of Light’ with William Orbit delivered us a new perspective of Madonna, Guy’s and Alanis’ meeting of minds has produced a fresh, classy, gutsy and uplifting masterpiece that will stand the test of time.
‘Flavors Of Entanglement’ will be released in Spring 2008 on Warner. Alanis Morissette will be performing new songs from the album on her USA live tour from January 25th until March 18th 2008 with Match Box 20, for full dates and ticket info, visit www.alanis.com or her MySpace (which is where the photo for this review came from).
Learn more about the music of Guy Sigsworth at his MySpace or entry at Wikipedia. Have a listen to Guy's previous band project Frou Frou. Plus, read a behind the scenes interview with Guy and Andy about 'Flavors' at Arbiter.co.uk
A Piece Of Britney
As 2007 comes to a close, I wanted to share with you this painting Mouseketeer Britney Spears With Ears by a great new artist Annie Kevans. It's a little exclusive for you all, as I believe this is the first time this picture has been published!
Love her or hate her, Britney was literally everywhere in 2007... including the walls of my living room! I collect art by a number of female artists and was invited in July to visit Annie's studio in London. I'd fallen in love with Annie's recent series of paintings known as the 'Swans', taking inspiration from the bizarre reality TV show The Swan where women were made over thanks to plastic surgery.
But my favourite of all Kevans' paintings are portraits of child stars such as Jodie Foster, Shirley Temple, Christina Aguilera, the Olsen Twins and of course Britney in her Mickey Mouse Club ears. They're just really powerful images, somehow summing up exactly how I feel about the state Britney is in right now...
See more paintings by Annie Kevans after the jump!
'Britney Spears (Mouseketeer)' by Annie Kevans (2006)
'Shirley Temple' by Annie Kevans (2006)
'The Olsen Twins' by Annie Kevans (2006)
Visit: www.anniekevans.com and her page at Wikipedia for more info. Britney Spears' new single 'Piece of Me' is out on 14th January 2008. The brand new 'International Version' of her music video is out now on iTunes or YouTube (where Britney seems noticeably happier than the original edit screened a few weeks ago).
Free Download: Temposhark "Crime"
As Arjan flies off to his well-deserved holiday, I’m thrilled to be here to babysit his Blog! I’m gathering together some of my favourite new music to share with you over the coming week. Do let me know what you think… :) To start off, Arjan asked me to pick a song from our debut Temposhark album to give you guys as a little pre-New Years gift!
My brief from Mr Writes was "something sweet and crunchy" so I’ve chosen "Crime" which was one of the first songs that Luke and I ever wrote, when Luke was studying in Brighton. Listening to the clip just now brought back so many hilarious memories of us running riot around Brighton with our friend Tasha (who went on to become the very wonderful Bat For Lashes).
Around the time of writing "Crime", Tasha and I performed in a musical Luke had written. We put it on in a tiny Brighton theatre and had such a laugh doing it. Great memories - but I just hope the video footage never turns up! ;)
Download: Temposhark "Crime" [MP3] (Taken from "The Invisible Line" album, CD/Download out in April 2008 on Defend Music via Ryko in the USA/Canada and in April on Paper & Glue in the UK) See Temposhark on iTunes.