Classic eighteen – Surely Manson

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HEY buster, are you sick of Ray Parker Junior? Does the thought of Michael Jackson not thrill you this Hallowe’en?
Then dust off a copy of Marilyn Manson‘s classic Smells Like Children and both trick and treat your party guests.
The 1995 LP is only really an EPs worth of material, made up mostly of deeply unsettling remixes of tracks from Portrait Of An American Family as well as brilliantly chosen and executed covers of tracks such as EurythmicsSweet Dreams and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ I Put A Spell On You.
However the true brilliance of this album is the choice of skits in between, that drag the album up to nearly an hour of complete strangeness.
From the minute-and-a-half of children crying intro The Hands Of Small Children to the talk show Sympathy For The Parents to the psycotic Scabs, Guns And Peanut Butter, via a load of tracks I can’t name here without a parental advisory, these visions of madness are sure to help anyone have a unhappy Hallowe’en.

Razorlight dull

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HALF English, half Swedish rock band Razorlight used to exude the kind of cutting edge brilliance that their name would imply.
Debut album Up All Night spawned six singles and their eponymous follow-up saw a further five, including trans-atlantic fight America, which was a chart-topper.
However on listening to latest effort Slipway Fires‘ tracklisting, it’s hard to see where the singles are going to come from.
Show me a Razorlight fan that didn’t raise an eyebrow when they first heard slow burner Wire To Wire as the album’s lead single instead of their usual raucous rockers, I’ll show you a man with no eyebrows.
But after listening to the album, it turns out that Wire To Wire is the most infectious track here.
The rest, with the possible exception of Hostage Of Love, is underwhelming, piano-driven filler.
Razorlight used to be a cut above – on Slipway Fires they’re just dull.

Get it, Now!

• HAPPY birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthay dear Now! series, happy birthday to you!
To mark their quarter-century as the most iconic pop compilers on the market, Now That’s What I Call Music! 25 Years has been released.
The release is a three CD compilation of eighties, nineties and noughties music including artists ranging from Amy Winehouse to Phil Collins to Micheal Jackson.
• Houston, we have an album – Belfast rock ‘n’ roller Brian Houston is back with a new long-player, Three Feet From Gold.
Featuring his latest single, Oranges, the album mixes vintage rock and pop influences with classic songwriting.
• Superclub Ministry Of Sound releases it annual collection of dancefloor fillers, appropriately titled The Annual 2009, next week.
The album is a comprehensive round-up of the year’s biggest dance tracks from the likes of Basshunter, Calvin Harris and Mint Royale.
• Paul Carrack, who has worked with artists such as The Eagles, Ace, Squeeze, Mike And The Mechanics, Roger Waters, Elton John and many more, has releases a new solo album.
I Know That Name features his current single I Don’t Want To Hear Any more, which features Don Henly and Timothy B Schmidt of The Eagles.
• Add a little flava to you festive season with the new Massive R&B Winter Collection 2008 compilation.
The two-disc collection features tracks by artists including The Pussycat Dolls, Timbaland, The Game, Rihanna, Neyo, Snoop Doggy Dogg, LL Cool J and many more.
• Heart-throb James Blunt returns with a new single, Love, Love, Love, on November 17.
The stand-alone single is the first new material from James since his best-selling All The Lost Souls album.
• As well as visiting Nottingham’s Rock City on November 15, Death Cab For Cutie release a new single on November 17.
No Sunlight is the latest stunning track to be lifted from their brilliant album Narrow Stairs.
• Glittering star Santogold releases another pop nugget on November 24.
The stomping single, Say Aha, is taken from the eclectic singer’s eponymous LP.
Santogold will also be supporting Kanye West when he comes to Europe this month – including a gig at Birmingham NEC on November 15.
• If all of this is music to your ears, you can read more from the pop world online at www.echoisaacashe.blogspot.com.

Pink – So What?

YOU may have noticed I have been a bit of a crawling, fawning sycophant of late, handing out ○○○○●s and ○○○○○s willy nilly to every Tom, Dick and Gary Lightbody.
So in order to stave off having to rename my blog Isaac Ashe’s Isn’t Music Brilliant or something similar I thought I’d write this little post, to prove I don’t like everything.
In fact, this song is really getting my musical goat at the moment – who in the hell is actually buying Pink‘s ridiculous nursery rhyme-meets-messy divorce that is So What?
If I wanted to be involved in a divorce, I’d have trained to be a solicitor.
And who exactly calls Jessica Simpson “Jessica Simps”? Surely it’s either Jessica Simpson, or Jess, if you’re friends.
If you’re reading this and you own a copy, you ought to be ashamed of yourself, log off right now.

Rock from the Heart

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UNCANNILY, if there is such a word, just as I was penning a Classic Collection blog post about the Eagles Of Death Metal, unbeknownst to me, on the other side of the pond Jesse “The Devil” Hughes and co were preparing to release a new LP.
Only out on import in the UK so far, the Josh Homme-produced Heart On is everything you’d expect from the group by now, and is described by the band themselves as their “latest fabulous weapon, a top-secret music missile, a sonic warhead sexually tipped for her pleasure, shot from the deck of USS EODM Mantastic Fantastic.”
An erotically-charged, frenetic flurry of glam stoner rock that’s more fun than a clown’s birthday party, their latest offering is still seedy but less scuzzy than before, and as attractive as ever.
They start with the big guns blazing, before hitting more mature territory and – dare I say it – what’s almost a ballad, and just when you think that the Eagles Of Death Metal are starting to take themselves a bit too seriously, they hit you with Prissy Prancin’.
Genius.

A star turn

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SNOW Patrol‘s 2003 album Final Straw has the honour of being the first album I ever reviewed as a pro.
Sure, I’d had a long history of boring my family, friends and anybody else that happened to be in earshot with my musical musings.
But as a greenhorn reporter at the Coalville Times who’d inherited the Mike Test music reviews section from departing reporter Mike Whelan, reviewing Snow Patrol was the first thing I did.
With hindsight, changing the name of Mike Test should have been the first thing I did, but actually the then editor confusingly kept it as Mike Test for a few weeks, then changed it Isaac Test, which makes no sense at all…
Anyway, then, as now, I was, and am, in awe of the slickness with which Snow Patrol went, and still go, about their business.
Latest offering A Hundred Million Suns is another welter of chart-troubling rockers and emotive ballads from the Dundee band.
Less immediately anthemic as their previous two offerings, A Hundred Million Suns is a slow-burner of epic proportions sure to put a little warmth your way.

Blog Party

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SINCE the wilds of time before Silent Alarm, I have been a massive advocate of Bloc Party‘s.
I remember waiting impatiently for the group’s debut to be released, and again when follow-up A Weekend In The City was released.
However this cheeky new LP snuck up unexpectedly – but what a nice surprise.
As we’ve come to expect from Bloc Party by now, Intimacy is engaging and cerebral musically, but still kicks out the jams in all the right places despite a greater reliance on computers than before.
Straddling a fine line between their indie roots and their electronic tendancies, Intimacy is both a breath of fresh air and comfortingly familiar – if you’re not yet intimate with Bloc Party, it’s time to pucker up.

Number two priority

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FEELING flush? Then ahead of World Toilet Day on November 19, do pull up a stool and have a listen to Empty Boat‘s Waitless, an unlikely combination of world music and lavatories.
Musicians from across the world and as young as seven have mucked in to produce this upbeat album which melds African, Latin and jazz influences, all in the name of khazis.
Because every copy of this album sold will result in a deposit being made to Pump Aid which will enable the charity to provide sanitation for life for one African in need.
Overall the music, although eminently listenable, is fairly bog standard, but being privy to the information that it’s helping such a good cause, I urge you to go for this LP.

Now That’s What I Call a long time

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BLIMEY! The Now That’s What I Call Music! series is nearly as old as me – and this year it celebrates a quarter-century of compilations.
To mark this milestone, like most 25-year-olds, it’s decided to throw a party – captured on the three-CD collection of hits through the ages that is Now That’s What I Call Music! 25 Years.
And what a collection it is – from Phil Collins and UB40, who both appeared on Now That’s What I Call Music! volume one, through Diana Ross and Micheal Jackson and Take That and Oasis to contemporary chart-hogs such as Rihanna and Sugababes.
You may turn your nose up at such a pantheon of polished pop, but listening through it’s undeniable that, love it or hate it –
A) you will know nearly all the words to all these songs, and…
B) these CDs would be great at a party.
Now that’s what I call full marks.

Camp rock

• DOING their best with a new single out on November 3 are pop rockers Scouting For Girls.
The new track, I Wish I Was James Bond, is the latest to be lifted from the licensed-to-thrill number one album Scouting For Girls.
A spokesman for the group said: “Whilst Britain undergoes an extensive period of uncertainty both politically and economically, it is the music of Scouting For Girls that can lift the nation’s spirits with their hugely upbeat sunshine pop.”
You can see the band on tour throughout November and December including dates at Nottingham Arena and Birmingham’s Carling Academy.
• Rockabilly revivalist Imelda May is hoping to make a lasting impression on the record-buying public with debut album Love Tattoo.
The Irish singer’s debut LP, out now, is a rip-roaring collection of ‘50s-inspired tracks.
• Soulful singing sensation Lemar returns on November 10 with a new single, If She Knew.
The track, the lead single from the Fame Academy graduate’s forthcoming fourth album The Reason, combines Lemar’s heartfelt vocals with layers of acoustic guitar-driven RnB.
• The unique sound of Threatmantics hits the charts on November 3 when their debut offering Upbeat Love lands on shelves.
The Welsh rock and roll trio, who visit Birmingham’s Factory Club on November 20, make their music on viola, guitar, drums and keyboards – with Huw Davies playing both drums and keyboards simultaneously.
A spokesman said: “This is a short, sharp album packed to the brim with skuzzy, mind-blowing rock and roll.”
• Operahouse are set to release the dynamic Change In Nature EP on November 10.
The release is a taster for their debut album, recorded under the guidance of Embrace’s Richard McNamara, which is due early next year.
• Jack of all trades John Barrowman is releasing a new single on November 17.
The catchy new single, What About Us, is written by Take That star Gary Barlow and is the first taster of new album Music Music Music.
• Former X-Factor entrant Maria Lawson releases a new single, These Walls, on December 1.
Taken from the singer’s second album, Emotional Rollercoaster, due out in January 2009, the track fuses soul, pop and rock sensibilities.
• Looking for an early Christmas present?
Pop Party 6, a compilation packed with hits from the likes of the Sugababes, Ting Tings, Jonas Brothers, Rihanna, McFly and more is out from November 3.
• If all of this is music to your ears, you can read more from the pop world online at www.echoisaacashe.blogspot.com.