The Manchester roots of Golden Glow are on clear display with “The Cure”. Grainy, overexposed shots of the famous red brick city, birthplace of modern rave culture, are spliced among scenes of principal singer-songwriter Pierre Hall, alone in the studio. It is quite DIY looking, while the song itself was recorded on a four-track on a no-string budget, portraying the sort of detached delivery, loose play, and frozen drums one would expect to hear from Joy Division or the Happy Mondays, as produced by Martin Hannett. It’s all very Factory Records, very Manchester.
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The tunesmiths of Tin Pan Alley had an expression way back when: “the old grey whistle test”. If you played your song to the grey-clad doorman and he liked it, you had a hit on your hands. The people behind the long-running BBC music show of that name were proper musos—with all the baggage that entails—and the rather opaque title was exactly the kind of reference they’d appreciate. Whistle Test (or OGWT) may have disappeared from British screens in 1987 as a new wave of young pretenders took to the stage, but its lasting place in pop culture has been explored by a new BBC Radio 2 series. Each programme devotes a full hour to a year of the show’s history, featuring archive audio and new performances from relevant acts.
Noah Lennox of Panda Bear has recently released a four-LP version of Tomboy in a limited edition box set through Paw Tracks for $35. The expanded collection includes single mixes plus unreleased instrumentals, a cappella arrangements and a new song, “The Preakness”. There is also a 16-page art booklet with lyrics, a welcome addition anytime. All profits from the sale of this set will go to the American Cancer Society and is limited to 5000 copies worldwide. Listen to the enchanting a cappella treatment of “You Can Count on Me” below.
Jonathan Coulton is on a major roll of late… his new album Artificial Heart just hit #1 on the BIllboard Heatseeker Chart, meanwhile folks like Suzanne Vega, John Roderick of the Long Winters, Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara and John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants turned out to collaborate with Coulton on the record. Artificial Heart is his first full-length offering of new material since his lauded “Thing a Week” series from 2006 where he produced a new musical work each week for a year. Coulton’s latest single is the ultra catchy “Sticking It to Myself”, which features Phil Hernandez from the Elegant Too. Flansburgh, who produced the whole album, returns to film and direct this new video.
Watch below as M83 performs “Midnight City” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. What consistently separates Gonzalez and co. from their contemporaries is the way that, in concert, they can bring virtually every component of M83’s multilayered synthpop to life. Yes, that assessment even includes the closing sax solo.