The 2007 Punch: My Favorite Albums of The Year

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Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 Róisín Murphy "Overpowered"
Timeless and intelligent dance pop by a top-notch performer. Bring on more Róisín in 2008 please!

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 Siobhan Donaghy "Ghosts"
Donaghy broke out of her girl group mold and pushed her artistic boundaries in exciting new directions. "Ghosts" is one of the most overlooked, yet sublime pop records of the year.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 Charlotte Gainsbourg "5.55"
Subtle, soft and chic. It is like Chanel No. 5 for your ears.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 Darren Hayes "This Delicate Thing We've Made"
"This Delicate Thing We've Made" is just that. A delicate piece of work that takes you on a journey through time with Hayes' distinct vocals and Justin Shave's accomplished production stylings.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2  Kenna "Make Sure They See My Face"
Genre-buster Kenna combines electronica, funk, pop and hip hop so elegantly that it rocks.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2  Will.I.Am "Songs About Girls"
A bold solo record by one of the most genius producers of the moment.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 Anouk "Who's Your Momma"
Confident and honest, this rock chick tells it like it is. Expect "Good God" to climb the global charts in 2008.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 Passenger "Wicked Man's Rest"
Touching balladry sang by one of the year's most striking new voices.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 Tracey Thorn "Out Of The Wood"
A perfect marriage of style and substance. And her voice is priceless.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 Roz Bell "The First Sunbeams"
Bell combines songwriting talent with a laid-back attitude that is simply irresistible.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 Klaxons "Myths Of The Near Future"
These three lads got me dizzy on my feet when I saw them perform at Coachella back in April. This is rock and roll for the here and now.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 I also enjoyed listening to albums by these great artists in 2007:

Kate Havnevik "Melankton"
Kanye West "Graduation"
Dragonette "Galore"
Alison Moyet "The Turn"
Young Love "Too Young To Fight It"
Just Jack "Overtones"
Annie Lennox "Songs Of Mass Destruction"
Kocky "Kingdome Come"
M.I.A. "Kala"

December 28, 2007 in Annie Lennox, Anouk, Darren Hayes, Just Jack, Kanye West, Kate Havnevik, Kenna, Mika, Passenger, Roz Bell, Róisín Murphy, Siobhan Donaghy, Tracey Thorn | Permalink | Comments (5)

Download Tracey Thorn "Raise The Roof " U-MYX

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Tracey Thorn's brand-new single "Raise The Roof" was formally released in the U.K. today. The song is another accomplished collaboration between Thorn and Brighton-based DJ/producer Cagedbaby (aka Tom Gandey).

Cagedbaby craftfully wraps Thorn's timeless vocals in a shimmering, downbeat electro-pop arrangement that packs a great message, "All those years I wasted. Sitting on my own. Think what I could have tasted. If I'd only known."

The talented Cagedbaby also created a throbbing dub version and vocal mix of the song that is available on the CD single. You can listen to the dub on his MySpace page.

Head over to U-MYX to download the free U-MYX version of "Raise The Roof." With the U-MYX software you can create your own remix version of the song and upload it to share it with others. You can even send it your mobile phone to play it wherever you are or to set it as your ringtone.

June 18, 2007 in Audio Streams, Tracey Thorn | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tracey Thorn Interview (Part 2)

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In the final part of "Ask The Artist" with Tracey Thorn,  the singer talks more about her inspirations, guilty pleasures, being a mother and her admiration for Jake Shears and Billy Ray Cyrus. I love her candor and sense of humor. It totally fits the feel that I get from her music. (And I really think that duet with Neil Tennant should be arranged. It sounds doable, no? )

I agreed to limit my number of questions for her, and fortunately I was able to bundle some inquiries since many of you asked about her inspirations, touring and the future of Everything But The Girl. (Tracey: Feel free to email me if you don't mind answering a few more at a later time. Thanks!)

Question from Shaun: Which albums (by other artists) or books would you say have had the biggest impact or influence on your life?
I always quote Patti Smith's "Horses," as do so many other people, but it really did give me kick up the arse. But there are so many really - Dusty in Memphis, the first Smiths album, etc etc.

Question from Markus: The classic "Apron Strings" and new song "Nowhere Near" are two plots of the arc of motherhood/family life. In what ways has family life informed - good or bad - the new record?
Yes, "Apron Strings" is my "before" song - its very yearning and a bit sentimental about the notion of having children. I wrote it when I was first alerted to the idea that children might be a good thing, which was when my sister had her kids in the '80s. The song is partly addressed (as also is "These Early Days" on "Idlewild") to her son, my nephew, James.

"Nowhere Near" is my "after" song, and is the voice of experience! It admits to the darkness which is part of the reality of motherhood - spending all day shouting at kids at the end of the long summer holiday, feeling like a sergeant-major in uniform. But then watching a news item (in this instance it was seeing the Pakistan earthquake reports on the telly - people carrying their children, and the bodies of their children, from the ruins of their homes and down from the mountains) and going up to look at your sleeping kids and counting your blessings that they exist and are safe. Its about how actual motherhood means experiencing ambivalence.

Question from Markus: When was the last time you shook your hips in a cheap way and where was it?
SoBe Live, Miami Beach, March 2007. Ben's buzzin fly set, 3am, I was DEFINITELY shaking my hips in a very cheap way with Alex Santos, and he was playing air keyboards, as I remember.

Question from Gulius: Since you realized you wanted to sing again thanks to Neil Tennant, have you ever thought about a collaborations between the two of you?
I am simply waiting to be asked, as I have been for many years.

Question from Kyle: If you could create an alter-ego, which explores music in a completely different genre, what would that sound like?
PJ Harvey. I do sometimes envy the ability to rock out. In other moods, I feel I would just like to be Jake Shears really - a completely exhibitionist, sequined entertainer, but with depth.

Question from W. Briski: What are your guilty pleasures (besides Abba of course)?
No guilt is ever attached to liking Abba. At the moment I guess my guiltiest pleasure is Hannah Montana (if you don't have pre-teen daughters you won't have heard of her, so don't worry). She is the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus. They star together in a TV show, and I find both of them enormously likeable, and I even like the songs, and really, there is no way on earth that any of it is cool, or appropriate for someone of my age and supposed musical tastes. She is adorable though.

(Read Part 1 of this interview.)

April 19, 2007 in Ask the Artist, Interviews, Tracey Thorn | Permalink | Comments (7)

Tracey Thorn Interview (Part 1)

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Thanks to all of you who have mailed in questions for Tracey Thorn for my first "Ask The Artist" segment. Tracey loved the idea and also posted it on her blog to invite fans to respond. I received many, many great questions, which made it pretty challenging to put together a good selection to ask. I ended up compiling a list with both fun and intelligent questions that will hopefully give you some new insights in her music (and sense of humor).

Many thanks to Tracey for taking time to answer the questions for Arjanwrites.com so quickly and candidly. And if you haven't heard new album "Out Of The Woods" yet, go get it immediately. It is one of my favorite records of the year so far. It is a classic with its mix of English pop, folk and electronica that emphasizes Thorn's soothing vocals and meaningful storytelling. It is one of those rare timeless gems that you can dance to, shed a tear with or simply enjoy with your eyes closed. (Get it on iTunes or Amazon.)

Today, the first part of the interview. The second part will follow later this week.

Question from Paula: What is your favourite music-critic description of your voice? a) a knee-buckling smoky alto, b) Like cool velvet on a hot summer day or c) A sweet fire that thrives in a frosty wind?
My favourite recent one appeared on my own MySpace page, and it read, "I love your voice, I first heard it on the Style Council's "Cafe Bleu," and I thought you were a man." Compliments don't really get more double-edged than that.

Questions from Andres, Brian and Gabriel: Even if "A-Z" does not necessarily have an overt gay theme, some of the lyrics do have some resonance in comparison to Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy." Did you see "A-Z" as mirroring that seminal '80's song? What was the inspiration for that song and what are your feelings about gay rights in general. How do you feel about the gay community embracing you?
"A-Z" was inspired by, and is in part an act of homage to the great "Smalltown Boy" (as an interesting footnote to my answer above, when i first heard Jimmy Somerville, i thought he was a woman, so there you go). I read an article in the paper about bullying of gay teenagers in schools, and how prevalent it is, and how it is a leading cause of teenage suicide, which is sad and dispiriting. It makes me feel enormous sympathy and warmth towards anyone who has the misfortune to be any kind of outsider at school. Kids can be such lumpen idiots.

I've always been kind of embraced by the gay community and I am very proud to be so - I feel very welcomed and understood  by gay fans, in a way that i sometimes don't feel understood by the more heterosexually-oriented-male-dominated rock community, for instance. It s a cliche in some ways, but it is about a basic and shared understanding that Dusty Springfield is more important than Bobby Gillespie.

Question from Dave: If you and Ben could select one of their songs to be covered by one artist, what and who would they choose?
I can't speak for Ben as he is not here at the moment, but I would love to hear Rufus Wainwright sing "Hang Out The Flags," which is about Judy Garland.

Question from Steph: Do you & Ben ever think of making a new EBTG album ? Or is it completely out of the way for both of you?
Not at the moment. We are both too busy with our own things, which is good considering the number of years we spent doing everything together! It feels healthy.

Question from James: What are your songwriting inspirations (as opposed to the musical ones)?

Randy Newman, Morrissey/Marr, Natalie Merchant, Jimmy Webb and Smokey Robinson.

Question from Burak: Are you planning a world tour or a European tour?
Nope. Sorry.

(Look out for Part 2 of the interview tomorrow.)

April 18, 2007 in Ask the Artist, Interviews, Tracey Thorn | Permalink | Comments (3)