wears the trousers magazine

wears the trousers albums of the decade #50–26

part one | part two | part four

Here’s the third part of our albums of the decade countdown, running from #50–26.

* * *


Queen Adreena
Drink Me

[Rough Trade, 2002]

Casting aside the disparaging comparisons to “Kate Bush on crack” bestowed upon her in the wake of Queen Adreena’s debut album Taxidermy, KatieJane Garside upped the ante with Drink Me, tearing whatever hinges that were still attached right off with a blisteringly manic grunge-metal fervour. Among her Wonderland’s re-energised malice, the softer moments found Garside’s raging voice shrunk mouse-high, whispering seductively as if through the keyhole, or chillingly into a void. Richly imaginative and manically enjoyable, Drink Me remains one of the decade’s most vigorous and visceral thrills, disturbing to the very last note.

Alan Pedder

read our interview with KatieJane

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joan as police woman: cover (2009)
September 21, 2009, 9:39 am
Filed under: album, review | Tags: , , , ,


Joan As Police Woman

Covers albums get a bad deal. With recent releases such as Scarlett Johansson’s Anywhere I Lay My Head gaining a barrage of truly undeserved cynicism, and older offerings like Odetta Sings Dylan being nowhere near as acclaimed as they should be, it’s only the irritatingly polished Live Lounge warblings that seem to make their way into a wider field of vision. This is bad. So, Joan As Police Woman. Brilliant. Covers album. Yes. Result? Half-baked.

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joan as police woman announces new covers album
July 9, 2009, 10:50 am
Filed under: news, trouser press, where's the gigs | Tags: , , , ,

210808_joanaspolicewomanAlbum only available on current European tour

With two steadfastly elegant albums already under her belt, Joan Wasser is set to bring some of that class to covers of the likes of Britney Spears, Adam & The Ants, Public Enemy, T-Pain and David Bowie (and those are just the ones we know about) for a new album named COVER that she is selling on her current European tour that started last night in Sicily. Billed ‘Interpretation Domination’, the shows will consist of “intimate duo performances” from Joan Wasser and sideman Timo Ellis, and will hit the UK at the end of September. If Joan’s previously released covers of Bowie’s ‘Sweet Thing’ and The Beatles’ ‘I Will’ are anything to go by, COVER will be an essential purchase. 

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albums of the year: readers poll results (part IV of V)

Albums of the year: #20–11


Thao with The Get Down Stay Down
We Brave Bee Stings & All
Kill Rock Stars

Released: January 2008

What we said then: “As you might expect from someone who cites the Lilith Fair scene as an early influence, at their heart Thao Nguyen’s brief two- to three-minute songs are pure folk-pop but the addition of her backing band, The Get Down Stay Down, has filled them out nicely. Quirky melodies mix with jangly guitars, handclaps and snappy percussion conjures a sound not unlike a more folksy Vampire Weekend. Nguyen writes of her experiences with skillful poise and gutsy poetry. Make no mistake though, this is dark and powerful magic, not the stuff of fairytales.” ••• Loria Near [full review

What we say now: When we said that Thao might prove to be an acquired taste, it wasn’t without hope that a lot of people would eventually acquire it. Having toured the album relentlessly and enthusiastically all year, We Brave Bee Stings & All has made a proper rock star of Nguyen, and we couldn’t be more pleased. An exciting reinvention of this Lilith Fair-influenced songwriter – we can’t wait to see what’s next.

Download: ‘Bag Of Hammers’, ‘Swimming Pools’

iTunes £7.99



Hello Saferide
More Modern Short Stories From Hello Saferide

Released: September 2008

What we said then: “At a time where anticipation conflicts with desperation and worry, Hello Saferide has produced a record that, while retaining a sense of realism, dares to question: without hope, what is there? Each song spins a wonderful yarn, trying to cram in as many words into each line, a great deal of thought and passion bursting with every breath. Indeed, there are so many highlights to More Modern Short Stories…, there are barely enough words to describe it. Regardless, Hello Saferide speaks a language so human that one cannot help but feel she is singing for us all.” •••• Anna Claxton [full review]

What we say now: Annika Norlin returned from her award-winning Swedish language excursion Säkert! with a more mature set than her wide-ranging, strange and often funny 2006 debut Introducing Hello Saferide. Continuing where her debut UK single ‘I Was Definitely Made For These Times!’ left off last year, Hello Saferide’s nostalgic worldview brings her creative lyrical flights alive across 12 songs that variously ponder life’s imperfections, sometimes with remorse, sometimes simply shrugging them off with casual self-deprecation. Pop for grown-ups.

Download: ‘2008’, ‘Lund’

iTunes £7.99



Music Hole

Released: April 2008

What we said then: “As challenging as it is hilarious, Music Hole practically summarises and expands upon all the best parts of her earlier work without getting too bogged down in concepts. Et voilà! She’s nailed it without compromising any of her abilities, and perhaps now she’ll become the star she deserves. If she doesn’t, then perhaps it’s best she stays where she is. After all, she sounds like she’s having the time of her life there.” ••••½ Léigh Bartlam [full review]

What we say now: Despite its potentially disastrous over-reliance on novelty, Music Hole remains an impressive undertaking all these months later. As largely a cappella albums go, it’s certainly a lot more fun than Björk’s Medúlla but has a similar propensity to irritate if you’re not in the right frame of mind. ‘Cats & Dogs’ is still unfathomably nuts, and the sometimes smug lyrics do grate, but Camille’s in fine voice. A new live EP came out on iTunes this week, dontcha know.

Download: ‘Gospel With No Lord’, ‘Money Note’

iTunes £7.99



Grace Jones
Wall Of Sound

Released: November 2008

What we said then: “At only nine tracks long, Hurricane has no room for filler or the sloppy, half-baked Grace-isms that mauled her late ’80s output. To maintain quality control, Brian Eno and reunions with Sly & Robbie and Tricky were drafted in, but Hurricane’s most surprising aspect is the intensely personal lyrics and ideas Jones brought to the table. The dreaded spectre of comeback hype has undone many an artist but Jones meets 19 years worth of anticipation with absolute style, balls and an unflinching determination to only look back when taking leaps forward (are you taking notes, Axl Rose?)” •••• Léigh Bartlam [full review]

What we say now: If we’re talking buzz alone, Hurricane was without question the comeback of the year. While ‘Corporate Cannibal’ was a fairly logical extension of Jones’s very particular hyper-reality, it’s the songs that find her finally accepting her humanity and lineage that really stick. Not as strange or as solid as it might have been, not to mention being a mere nine songs, Hurricane nevertheless earned its place among this year’s most essential listening.

Download: ‘William’s Blood’, ‘I’m Crying (Mother’s Tears)’

iTunes £7.90


Ani DiFranco
Red Letter Year
Righteous Babe

Released: September 2008

What we said then: “If this album was a tarot card, it would be The Empress, the goddess of fertility – a warm, fecund woman, plump with good health and a euphoric, satisfied calm. There is a sublime easiness to the record. The righteous fire is still there, but it has evolved. Red Letter Year is an open-house celebration, with a long list of contributing musicians guesting on almost every track. You can almost see DiFranco there, among the crowd of laughing friends, musicians resplendent with trumpets, sax and trombones, strumming happily with baby nearby and a broad smile on her face.” •••½ Charlotte Richardson Andrews [full review]

What we say now: A perennial favourite in our year-end best-ofs, Ani DiFranco still has plenty to say and Red Letter Year proved to be a successful amalgamation of many of the best musical bits of most of her recent releases, from 1999’s To The Teeth to 2006’s Reprieve, topped off with a newfound motherly kindness and optimism. It also did away with some of her less appealing vocal affectations (hint hint Tori Amos), all adding up to something really quite special. 

Download: ‘Red Letter Year’, ‘Way Tight’

iTunes £7.99



Aimee Mann
@#%&*! Smilers

Released: June 2008

What we said then: “Song by song,@#%&*! Smilers is well-crafted, melodic, literate, witty and catchy as hell. But it’s also, overall, rather familiar and, at times, ever so slightly dull. Measured, muted and mid-tempo, the songs tend to lack the emotional peaks and troughs that characterised her earlier work. Mann’s vocals only rarely rouse themselves beyond the twin poles of weary resignation or dry irony. But while no amount of strings or synthesizers can entirely disguise the fact that it’s getting increasingly difficult to tell her albums apart, Mann’s impeccable way with a hook and a lyric remains undiminished, which is more than enough reason to make @#%&*! Smilers worthy of your time, despite its undeniable sense of déjà vu.” •••½ Alex Ramon [full review]

What we say now: With more pith than a very big orange, Aimee Mann’s characteristic lyrical wit is in mighty fine fettle on @#%&*! Smilers. Seven albums into her solo career, it’s fair to say that Mann hasn’t gone all out to avoid repeating herself in the way that, say, PJ Harvey has, but when your established songwriting blueprint is pretty much universally recognised as exemplary, that’s fair enough. @#%&*! Smilers is another solid effort.

Download: ‘Phoenix’, ‘It’s Over’

FREE MP3: Aimee Mann, 31 Today

iTunes £7.99 (£9.99 with bonus tracks)



Emilíana Torrini
Me & Armini
Rough Trade

Released: September 2008

What we said then: “Emilíana Torrini is a gem among singer-songwriters with many a loyal fan and a reputation for divine, intelligent pop. Once again pairing up with her long-time producer/collaborator Dan Carey, Me & Armini sees the magic continue. While Torrini’s unforgettable voice soars through the album, sweet, haunting and smooth, the music draws on a myriad of styles, from dub to shoegaze and blues to pop. Me & Armini is a host of sounds and delights; creative, playful and moving. A seamless blend of pop magic, artful folk and eclectic rhythms, it is an album to make your eyes shine and your heart sing, and a treasure to be enjoyed by fan and convert alike.” •••• Charlotte Richardson Andrews [full review]

What we say now: It took a few listens for much of Me & Armini to make any sense. Emilíana Torrini has created a strange little album that pulls the silky madam across so many genre borders, smudged as they are, with nary a concern for cohesion. The almost ambient strains of ‘Gun’ and ‘Dead Duck’ drag the pace down in the album’s second half, but are worthwhile experiments, and while the reggae-lite title track and frantic scatting of ‘Jungle Drum’ took some getting used to, they turned out to be Torrini’s triumphs.

Download: ‘Jungle Drum’, ‘Big Jumps’

iTunes £7.99



Ane Brun
Changing Of The Seasons
Balloon Ranger

Released: March 2008

This was a bit of a cheeky inclusion as the official UK release of Changing Of The Seasons isn’t until February 2009, but it has been available to download from Klicktrack for much of the year and has been released in practically every other territory [also, it’s hands down my personal favourite album of 2008, period – Alan]. Ane Brun might not be the coolest or most vibrant artist coming out of Scandinavia but we are borderline obsessed with Changing Of The Seasons: its melodies, its phrasing, its poetic, elegant and unapologetically disconsolate lyrics. Who else could write a song with a preposterous title like ‘Round Table Conference’, make it deeply moving AND have you humming it all day? Changing Of The Seasons is the work of an elite singer-songwriter at the height of her powers. The UK release will include bonus covers of ‘True Colors’ (from the TV ad) and ‘Big In Japan’. We recommend you also investigate the self-released collection of demos for the album, Sketches, available here with two non-album exclusives.

Download: ‘Changing Of The Seasons’, ‘The Puzzle’

Not available on iTunes until February



Joan As Police Woman
To Survive

Released: June 2008

What we said then: “In her guise as Joan As Police Woman, Joan Wasser has made an equally emotion-rich second album, with the considered title To Survive. If survival was something that eluded her mother, Wasser seems intent on transfiguring her loss into something positive. There is the same smoky theatricality of 2006’s debut Real Life, combined with the kind of knowing maturity that only comes with age. Wasser seems to imbue even the bleakest lament with a fragile optimism. You sense it’s that which gets her through. To Survive signals an artist moving out of the shadows of her former employers into a space of her own, one it’s at times an emotionally uncomfortable pleasure to share.” •••• Martyn Clayton [full review]

What we say now: Given just a single word to sum up the music of Joan Wasser and co., we would plump for ‘elegant’. To Survive might not have the strongest songwriting we’ve seen this year but show us an album that exudes more class and dignity and we’ll eat our keyboards. Cop a feel of this, it’ll make you swoon.

Download: ‘Honor Wishes’, ‘To Be Loved’

iTunes £7.99



Jenny Lewis
Acid Tongue
Rough Trade

Released: September 2008

What we said then: “As a collection of songs, the eagerly awaited Acid Tongue is nothing short of a musical education, stripped down and laid bare by this flame-haired beauty, fusing delicate femininity with a blend of strong masculine influences. Not only do Elvis Costello and Chris Robinson (of The Black Crowes fame) guest on the album – the former sounding completely in his heyday – but there are clear references to other classic male artists throughout, proving that women in rock today are still more than capable of playing with the big boys and the big boys are more than happy to oblige.” •••• Anna Claxton [full review]

What we say now: Easily as divisive among Lewis’s fans as last year’s Rilo Kiley album, Acid Tongue is either a work of enigmatic, sharp-clawed genius or a confused and sprawling mess of styles. We’ve wavered – haven’t you? – but now we’re convinced it leans closer to the former. Not quite enough to shrug off that rabbit fur coat for good. Cool hat though Jenny.

Download: ‘Jack Killed Mom’, ‘Sing A Song For Them’

iTunes £7.99


singles of the year: readers poll results (part II of V)

Singles of the year: #20–16


Emmy The Great
‘We Almost Had A Baby’
Close Harbour 

The strange and brilliantly narrative music of Emma-Lee Moss has been close to our hearts for a few years now, persisting despite the long, long wait for her debut album to finally materialise. Like ‘Gabriel’ before it, ‘We Almost Had A Baby’ is a post-break up song with a pretty melody that’s laced with pointed rebukes. Ever fantasised that you were pregnant with your ex’s baby just so you could have something over him? No? Well this is what it sounds like, possibly. Innocence’s loss is clearly music’s gain. From the album First Love (Close Harbour, 2009).



Britney Spears

Already covered by the likes of Lily Allen, Ladyhawke and Jess Klein, ‘Womanizer’ may be a surprising entry on this list for some but even we’ve found it quite hard to resist. Okay, so it sounds a lot like certain songs from last year’s Blackout, and really, it is a bit annoying, but it proved to have the requisite sass to take her back to the top. A gutsy comeback. From the album Circus (Jive, 2008).

FREE MP3: Lily Allen, ‘Womanizer‘ [thanks to The Music Slut]
FREE MP3: Britney Spears, ‘
Womanizer‘ [T-Minus 321 remix, thanks to Sheena Beaston]



Jenny Lewis
Rough Trade

Making a beeline for the radio, this spirited duet with Elvis Costello is a cantering country-rock beast of a tune that takes a bit of getting used to. Alone, Costello’s sneer threatens to derail the song, but then the voices blend so well on the chorus that all is forgiven. It may not be Lewis’s finest few minutes but it’s refreshingly vibrant, and with a proportion of the profits from this single going to a musicians’ charity in New Orleans, in aid of a worthy cause too. From the album Acid Tongue (Rough Trade, 2008).



The Ting Tings
‘That’s Not My Name’

The Ting Tings’ locomotive energy pushes their songs forwards in a steamy cacophony that has the very effective simultaneous impact of letting them railroad over any lyrical weakness or cliché. As fun, inevitable and as delicious as a plastic cup of cava in a park, The Ting Tings were the soundtrack to your summer…whether you liked it or not. From the album We Started Nothing (Columbia, 2008)



Joan As Police Woman feat. Rufus Wainwright
‘To America’

Joan Wasser and Rufus Wainwright have a long history of working and touring together – mostly with Joan as backing singer or support act for her flamboyant Canadian friend – and a proper duet between the two had long been anticipated. ‘To America’ starts out a little jaunty, gathers teardrops in its eyes, poses questions with no answers and swoons along in its sophisticated melancholy before erupting into an elaborate, almost euphoric singalong towards the end. It’s classy, even stately stuff. From the album To Survive (Reveal, 2008).

the cardigans’ nina persson announces second a camp album

041108_ninaperssonOur eight-year wait is nearly over

We’d almost given up hope of ever getting a second album out of Nina Persson’s side project A Camp until whispers began to circulate late last year that there would indeed be one, it was just a matter of time. Well, that time is now-ish, because the album is done and the first single, ‘Stronger Than Jesus’, is getting rolled out on Swedish radio from November 17th with the full-length Colonia following on January 26th.

Recorded between April 2007 and August 2008 in New York, with a smattering of live shows in between, Colonia sees Nina collaborating once again with Niclas Frisk and her film composer husband Nathan Larson, and adding some exciting guests into the mix. Joan Wasser puts in an appearance, as do James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins, Kevin March of Guided By Voices, and fellow Swede Nicolai Dunger.

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joan as police woman picks rufus duet for next single
October 27, 2008, 1:27 am
Filed under: news, trouser press, where's the gigs | Tags: , , , , ,

Guest turn to be third release from To Survive

Joan Wasser and Rufus Wainwright have a long history of working and touring together – mostly with Joan as backing singer or support act for her flamboyant Canadian friend – and a proper duet between the two had long been anticipated before surfacing earlier this year on the second Joan As Police Woman album, To Survive.

Album closer ‘To America’ starts out a little jaunty, gathers teardrops in its eyes, poses questions with no answers and swoons along in its sophisticated melancholy before erupting into an elaborate, almost euphoric singalong towards the end. It’s classy, even stately stuff, and will be yours for the price of a download, CD or 7″ vinyl come December 1st. Not coincidentally, Wasser and her JAPW bandmates will be hitting the road for an 11-date tour of the UK and Ireland the same week. Dates after the jump.

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