wears the trousers magazine

first 40 artists announced for 2010 lilith fair tour

The first 40 artists to be confirmed for the 2010 Lilith Fair tour, joining Lilith co-founder and main stage headliner Sarah McLachlan, were revealed today. The not so surprising inclusions are previous Lilith performers Sheryl Crow, Emmylou Harris, Tegan & Sara, Erykah Badu and Indigo Girls, who recently told Wears The Trousers in an interview that they feel that the female-centric travelling festival is just as valid now as on its first run through 1997–1999. Among those also joining the tour are indie rock pin-ups Metric and Chairlift, country star Miranda Lambert, urban newcomers Janelle Monáe and Ke$ha, the UK’s Corinne Bailey Rae, Nettwerk Records/Management signings Butterfly Boucher, Ash Koley, The Submarines and The Weepies, plus various other contemporary female popstars like Colbie Caillat, A Fine Frenzy and Sara Bareilles. Mary J Blige will the second headliner on the tour, which is expected to cross the Atlantic for a two-week run.

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sheryl crow to release deluxe edition of her debut
October 7, 2009, 8:30 am
Filed under: news, trouser press | Tags: , , ,

070708_sherylcrowIncludes four previously unreleased songs and new tour documentary

Hard to believe it’s been 16 years since Sheryl Crow’s bestselling debut album Tuesday Night Music Club transformed her from Michael Jackson’s backing singer into a global superstar, winning three Grammy Awards in the process, but the hits don’t lie. The album’s six singles – ‘Leaving Las Vegas’, ‘All I Wanna Do’, ‘Strong Enough’, ‘Can’t Cry Anymore’, ‘Run, Baby, Run’ and ‘What I Can Do For You’ – broke through the mass of grunge rockers and dance acts of the early ’90s to revitalise the singer-songwriter genre purely on the strength of being good songs. The album certainly wasn’t expected to go seven times platinum in the US, but it did, and for that Sheryl has every right to celebrate her achievements with a new Deluxe Edition due out November 16th. As well as the original album (apparently not remastered), the package includes a 10-track bonus disc and a DVD.

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free music friday: samantha stollenwerck

fmf_samanthastollenwerckSamantha Stollenwerck

In an age where even Sheryl Crow has trouble peddling Sheryl Crow-lite pop-rock, prospects seem a little unkind for anyone attempting the same. Step forward California native Samantha Stollenwerck, previously known locally as frontwoman for Shady Lady, a band she put together while at Berkeley College, and latterly through her 2005 solo album Square One. After years of what she describes as “fishtailing”, searching for her sound, she teamed up with producer Jeff Trott to create an album of “Cali-soul”, a phraseology she hopes captures a carefree summer vibe (indeed, the album is tentatively titled Carefree, after the first single). Trott is, of course, famously associated with many of Sheryl Crow’s biggest chart hits, including ‘Everyday Is A Winding Road’ and ‘If It Makes You Happy’, and preview track ‘Oblivious’ feels like a midpoint between those classic tracks and the point where Sheryl arguably jumped the shark with ‘Soak Up The Sun’. Add to that the fact that Samantha was also partly responsible, alongside ex-New Radicals member Danielle Brisebois, for Natasha Bedingfield’s ‘Unwritten’ and ‘Pocket Full Of Sunshine’, and some of you may be hearing alarm bells louder than the front row at a My Bloody Valentine gig.

But here’s the good news – Samantha does what she does extremely well. ‘Oblivious’ rocks lightly with a natural confidence that should ensure success, and Trott’s busy but never too cluttered production is effective at giving the song a sense of airy purpose that sides comfortably with the pop-politics of the lyrics. With a new generation potentially about to be exposed to the Lilith Fair effect, there’s a chance that we’ll see a resurgence in this sort of music and Stollenwerck could wind up a key proponent in that, with the right team behind her. It’s a shame that she seems to have dropped her surname for the upcoming release – a move that can only serve to make her more anonymous these days, when even using one’s full name is considered passé and alter egos are prime unreal estate. Still, it would be unwise to bet against her. Samantha performs tomorrow night at The Regal Room in Hammersmith. MP3 after the jump.

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trouser shorts: peaches, the gossip, love is all


In case you need a reminder why Peaches is just so damn well amazing, the Canadian electro-rocker has conveniently posted a mini-documentary recapping her career so far up on her website. Billed as “A Brief History Of Peaches”, the video features several clips from old TV interviews and plenty of performance footage of Ms Nisker in hotpants and knickers. Classic quote: “All of us have sex appeal and all of us feel sexy; it’s not just people who shave every part of their body, with blonde hair and big tits.”

Watch right to the end and you’ll catch a glimpse of what’s to come when the new Peaches album, I Feel Cream, is released on May 4th.

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As tattle tale goes, this news is so yesterday, but it seems we will have a brand new Gossip album on June 21st. Pointedly titled Music For Men, the band’s fourth album will be their first for major label Columbia. Recorded in Malibu, California, and produced by Grammy-kissed studio boffin Rick Rubin, the album is said to feature, in Beth Ditto’s own words, “a shit-load of love songs”. Speaking to NME.com about the album, she said: “Writing down the tracklisting, we had about 14 songs and seven had the word ‘love’ in the title. I had no idea I was so romantic.”

The first single, ‘Heavy Cross’ will be released on June 15th. Tourdates are coming.

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Fresh from last month’s long overdue UK release of their second album A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night, Love Is All have recorded a new covers EP made entirely of classic Swedish pop songs. Bearing the straightforward title Love Is All Play Swedish Covers, it finds the band repeating the formula followed for their Wishing Well +5 tour EP in which each of the five members got to pick one song to record without the input of their bandmates. The EP will be sold in a limited run of 200 copies on the band’s upcoming European tour, packaged with a small fanzine. Taking advantage of the new 10-song Myspace player, you can listen to all five covers here. Currently the band only have two UK dates, both in London:

09.05.09 Proud Galleries, London
10.05.09 The Lexington, London 

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Listen to the new Annie single, ‘Anthonio’, produced by Richard X. Out on May 4th.

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Stevie Nicks is apparently harbouring a desire to form “an all-girl choir” featuring Michelle Branch, Sheryl Crow and the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines, she revealed to WWD.com. Currently in the midst of a lengthy US tour with Fleetwood Mac, Stevie also told WWD that she’d like to “do something crazy with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake” and revealed her love for R&B tunes that move her feet. The singer released her first live album in the UK last week; The Soundstage Sessions features 10 (of 18) songs recorded in front of a small audience in Chicago, including a duet with Vanessa Carlton on Bonnie Raitt’s ‘Circle Dance’ and a solo cover of Dave Matthews Band’s ‘Crash Into Me’.

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Alan Pedder

wish it could be christmas every day? … weirdo

Have you sorted out your playlist for tomorrow yet? Left it to the last minute like us? Then read on for a more comprehensive round-up of this year’s crop of Christmas albums.

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Sarah Brightman
A Winter Symphony •

This truly horrendous album falls embarrassingly short of something befitting Sarah Brightman’s status as one of the foremost theatrical vocalists of our time. There are some interesting ideas – ‘Arrival’ takes the ABBA instrumental and adds her own words, and her take on Wizzard’s ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ was a brave choice – but none convincingly succeed. The Wizzard cover is laughably bad, transforming Roy Wood’s nostalgic festive staple into a showtune extravaganza that eviscerates the ears and obliterates any semblance of joy in its wake. Equally cringeworthy are the covers of Neil Diamond’s ‘I’ve Been This Way Before’ and Greg Lake’s (by way of Profokiev) ‘I Believe In Father Christmas’. The only thing A Winter Symphony engenders belief in is a humble old adage: silence is golden. 

Download: something else!

iTunes £7.99


c_lp_marychapincarpenter_08Mary Chapin Carpenter
Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs Of Christmas •••½
Universal Classics 

If Sarah Brightman’s festive assault is the aural equivalent of Christmas shopping on Oxford Street on December 24th – cluttered, rushed, bristling with artifice – then Come Darkness, Come Light is much more akin to visiting a traditional German Weinachtsmarkt where nostalgia, simplicity, and handmade crafts abound. One of this year’s most intriguing and well considered seasonal releases, half the songs were written or co-written by Carpenter herself and of the others only ‘Once In Royal David’s City’ can really be considered a festive staple. Several of Carpenter’s own tender songs are wholesale reflections on the Christmas story itself, but the best inclusions are those that interpret the spirituality and goodwill of the season in a modern setting. ‘Christmas Time In The City’ is like Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’ meets ‘(Real Good) For Free’, sung in Mary’s pudding-rich alto, and it’s easy to see covers of this cropping up on other singer-songwriter Christmas albums in years to come. As warming as a nice mug of Glühwein, if a little sleepy.

Download: ‘Christmas Time In The City’, ‘Hot Buttered Rum’

iTunes £7.99


c_lp_kristinchenoweth_08Kristin Chenoweth
A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas •••
Sony Masterworks

A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas is largely what the title promises. The award-winning actress, most recently starring as Olive Snook in the fantastically offbeat ‘Pushing Daisies’, is famous for her tiny size, prominent chest, boundless enthusiasm and impish little-girl voice. Despite her part in the awful Danny DeVito/Matthew Broderick vehicle ‘Deck The Halls’, her Christmas pedigree is convincing enough and a lot of love has clearly gone into the making of the album. So when a medley of ‘Sleep Well Little Children’ and Louis Armstrong’s ‘What A Wonderful World’ ought to be a car crash pageant of overly varnished fanfare, it’s actually sweet and affecting rather than affected. There are inevitably cringeworthy moments, but Chenoweth’s inescapable loveliness acts as a balm, soothing any dramaturgical fears and adding up to a highly listenable – if not life changing – festive experience [full review].

Download: ‘Sleep Well Little Children / What A Wonderful World’, ‘Christmas Island’

iTunes £7.99


c_lp_sherylcrow_08-1Sheryl Crow 
Home For Christmas ••½

Like Starbucks and Target in the US, Hallmark has a habit of commissioning exclusive Christmas releases. Sheryl Crow sleepwalks rather pleasantly through the first half of this year’s offering, again produced by long-time associate Bill Bottrell, plying a sweet croon to nice but unexceptional arrangements of ‘The Christmas Song’, ‘White Christmas’ and ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’. Later, the brass-strewn ‘Merry Christmas, Baby’ ups the pace but the voice is thin and doesn’t suit the gospel-leaning overtones, a weakness exposed even further on a pained rendition of ‘O Holy Night’. Crow can hit the high notes, but the control is way off throughout the whole song. She sounds far more at home with the self-penned ‘There Is A Star That Shines Tonight’, full of piano, stirring strings and a soft but heartfelt delivery, while a sedate reading of ‘All Through The Night’ makes amends with a feather-light dappling of keyboards and tenderness aplenty.

Download: ‘There Is A Star That Shines Tonight’, ‘All Through The Night’

Not available on iTunes


And Winter Came ••

And Winter Came is not strictly a Christmas album, more a meditation on the mystique and spirituality of the colder months. Only the new choral version of previous release ‘Oíche Chiúin’ – a Gaelic version of ‘Silent Night’ – will transport you into the looming carol concert season.  The word ‘inoffensive’ is often bandied around in relation to Enya but the relentlessly staccato synths of latest single ‘White Is In The Winter Night’ are actually aggressively grating. It’s maddening to listen to and nauseatingly gauche. But for every person who balks at the thought of dipping even a toe in Enya’s gently rippling icy waters of processed harmonics there is seemingly another who finds their rapture in total submergence. Nothing seems to have an impact on her enduring popularity, and there’s something to admire in that [full review].

Download: ‘My! My! Time Flies’, ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’

iTunes £7.99


e_lp_melissaetheridge_08Melissa Etheridge
A New Thought For Christmas •••

The peace sign smeared on the condensated window is our first clue to what the titular “new thought” might be. Peace. Nope, doesn’t ring a bell. Handily, Melissa Etheridge is around to do just that, joined by Pakistani singing doctor Salman Ahmad on original number ‘Ring The Bells’, a song that’s ridculously perfectly attuned to the dawn of the Obama administration. Another “new thought” is found in her interesting reworkings of ‘Angels We Have Heard On High’ (‘Glorious’) and ‘O Night Divine’ (‘O Holy Night’), updated to focus on love rather than the Christian faith. Elsewhere, ‘Merry Christmas Baby’ shows Sheryl how it should be done, while the pseudo-protest song ‘Christmas In America’ spits and growls with a righteous fire. The two other originals, ‘Light A Light’ and ‘It’s Christmas Time’, are both admirably big on the peace theme, but to a slightly cringeworthy degree, and Philip Sayce’s electric guitar occasionally feels rather OTT and, dare I say it, wanky. Nevertheless, A New Thought For Christmas is a soulful and well-meaning addition to the festive canon.

Download: ‘Glorious’, ‘Blue Christmas’

Not available on iTunes


f_lp_arethafranklin_08Aretha Franklin
This Christmas Aretha ••

Whether or not you believe that Aretha Franklin is, as bestowed upon her recently by Rolling Stone, ‘the greatest singer of all time’, you have to admit that it’s really quite amazing that This Christmas Aretha is the legendary soul queen’s first ever festive release in her impressive 52-year career. There’s plenty of spirit here to make up for the delay, though it looks like Aretha’s been at the cooking sherry on the evidence of the skit during the title track – an otherwise sweet duet with her son Edward – and the embarrassing adaptation of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ that closes out the disc. Franklin’s upper register sounds more shrill than sensual these days, and if you can actually understand what she’s singing for more than 50% of the time, you’re doing better than us. But when everything falls into place, like on ‘Christmas Ain’t Christmas (Without The One You Love)’, Aretha sounds as vital as ever.

Download: ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’, ‘Christmas Ain’t Christmas (Without The One You Love)’

Not available on iTunes


m_lp_loreenamckennitt_081Loreena McKennitt
A Midwinter Night’s Dream •••½
Quinlan Road 

In the 21 years since her only other full-length Christmas album, only 1995’s A Winter Garden EP has revisited the seasonal arena. Those five songs crop up again on A Midwinter Night’s Dream, newly remastered and rubbing shoulders with eight brand new recordings. McKennitt’s music has always excelled at spanning cultures and belief systems, and this celebration of the winter solstice (rather than Christmas itself) unites the Christian and pagan traditions of the season. Subtle touches of Middle Eastern flair excite the likes of ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’ into dancing out of the shadows for a seven-minute epic, while her ‘Gloucestershire Wassail’ is a rousing a cappella delight and a harp-and-strings instrumental version of ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ makes for a perfectly mystical, melancholy closer. It’s easy to get lost in the undulating rhythms and McKennitt impressively takes everything in her stride, but as diverse and enchanting as her talents might be, A Midwinter Night’s Dream is just a bit much to absorb in one go. Just thinking about it makes me feel tired.

Download: ‘Noël Nouvelet!’, ‘Snow’

iTunes £7.99


r_lp_katerusby_08Kate Rusby
Sweet Bells ••••

Kate Rusby continues to be able to do no wrong with this immaculately captured feast of seasonal nostalgia. Sweet Bells gathers together traditional carols from in and around her native south Yorkshire, many obscure or based on melodies from better known songs, and infuses new life into them, partly through judicious use of a brass quintet to bolster her acoustic arrangements. Only ‘Hark The Herald’ and ‘The Holly & The Ivy’ will be recognisable to most by name, but Rusby has penned typically exquisite new melodies that make them feel fresh, while both the title track and ‘Hail Chime On’ are essentially alternative riffs on ‘While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night’. But it’s the lesser known tracks like ‘Serving Girl’s Holiday’ and the adaptation of a Robert Herrick poem on ‘Candlemas Eve’ that really capture the spirit of Rusby’s endeavour. Pretty close to perfect.

Download: ‘Serving Girl’s Holiday’, ‘Candlemas Eve’

iTunes £7.99


s_lp_solveigslettahjell_08Solveig Slettahjell
Natt I Betlehem ••••
Kirkelig Kulturverksted 

Recorded in a church in the holy city of its title, Natt I Betlehem sees Slettahjell performing with only one of her famous Slow Motion Quintet, Sjur Miljeteig, who remains the master of muted trumpets. Usually found heading his own celebrated slow-jazz trio, Tord Gustavsen replaces usual keyboardist Morten Qvenild, commanding the piano with a touch as light and evocative as ever. Of the 14 songs, just four are sung in English but don’t let that dissuade you. In a Christmas albums market saturated with nauseatingly chipper releases, Natt I Betlehem arrives as a breath of fresh air, exhaled very slowly. Perfect for watching the snow drift down from a bible black night sky, viewed from the toasty comfort of your bedroom window. Or maybe drawing snowflakes into your mouth and feeling them dissolve on your tongue; like the best of these songs, the sensation of a snowflake’s presence lasts long after it has melted away [full review].

Download: ‘Stille Natt’, ‘O Little Town Of Bethlehem’

iTunes £7.99



Rosie Thomas
A Very Rosie Christmas ••••

A Very Rosie Christmas is often melancholy, frequently sublime and full of feeling. Always a thing of tangible beauty, Thomas’s voice possesses the perfect lilting charm to transform even well-worn classics like ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Silent Night’ into something different from the established norm. The arrangement on the latter in particular approaches a profoundly beautiful divinity of its own, and is almost certainly unlike any other version you may have heard. Equally worthy of quiet admiration is her version of ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’, while the vocal harmonies she works up with brother Brian on the softly jaunty, trumpet specked ‘Let It Snow’ are tremendously lovely. Even her cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’ is hard to pick holes in, though I felt the absence of the original’s piano at first as it’s left to undulating ripples of strings to propel the song along [full review].

Download: ‘Why Can’t It Be Christmastime All Year’, ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’

iTunes £7.99


Other 2008 festive releases

g_lp_amygrant_08 g_lp_saragroves_08 h_lp_faithhill_08 r_lp_theraveonettes_08-2 s_lp_sixpencenonethericher_08 h_lp_hotelcafe_08

Amy Grant, The Christmas Collection •••  iTunes £7.99

Sara Groves, O Holy Night •••½  iTunes £7.99

Faith Hill, Joy To The World ••  iTunes £7.99

The Raveonettes, Wishing You A Rave Christmas EP •••½  iTunes £3.16

Sixpence None The Richer, The Dawn Of Grace •••  iTunes £7.90

Various Artists, The Hotel Café Presents Winter Songs •••  iTunes £7.99


Previously posted goodies

FREE MP3: Sofia Talvik, ‘Carol For The Lonely’

FREE MP3: The Raveonettes, ‘Come On Santa’

FREE MP3: El Perro Del Mar, ‘Auld Lang Syne’

FREE MP3: Goldfrapp, ‘Winter Wonderland’

FREE MP3: Slow Club, ‘Christmas TV’



trouser shorts: tori amos, nina nastasia and more

Here‘s an excerpt from the forthcoming Tori Amos DVD, Live At Montreux 1991/1992, featuring the fresh-faced pianist at her playful best on her memorable cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Thank You’. The DVD is released on September 22nd, with a separate companion CD issued on the same day. [Note: you don’t need to be logged into Myspace to watch this clip]

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During her visit to London the week before last, Nina Nastasia played a few exclusive songs for The Telegraph in the leafy surrounds of Highgate Cemetery in North London. Watch the beautifully maudlin ‘Why Don’t You Stay Home’ here. Keep an eye out for our interview with Nina, coming soon!

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The jury’s still out on the song but the animated clip for Sheryl Crow’s political/enviromental rant ‘Gasoline’ has it all: an angry polar bear, an armadillo, a singing Taj Mahal, an apocalyptic London landscape and Sheryl herself rocking out on a petrol pump guitar. Odd.

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Other videos we’ve been enjoying this week:

the retrotastic wonderfulness of the new Black Kids single, ‘Look At Me (When I Rock Wichoo)’

the OMG-so-magical loveliness of My Brightest Diamond’s ‘From The Top Of The World’

the colourful delights of Stereolab’s ‘Neon Beanbag’

the Motown-style clip for ‘Pretty Please’, the soulful new single from Mercury Music Prize hopeful Estelle

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Alan Pedder

trouser shorts: sheryl crow, britney spears and more

Sheryl Crow has recorded a Christmas album to be distributed in Hallmark card shops in the US this winter. The as-yet-untitled album features one new song, ‘Hello Friend’, as well as standard like ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Winter Wonderland’.

Speaking to Billboard.com, Sheryl said “I had been wanting to do this for a while, so when the opportunity came up I just kind of jumped at it. It’s kind of a humble record; it’s very sweet and innocent and a little bit of a throwback to maybe the ’60s or ’70s in production. It’s definitely a departure from any Christmas record I’ve ever heard.”

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The Sun claims Madonna has invited old pal Britney Spears to sing onstage with her on her upcoming Sticky & Sweet tour. “It’s hoped that Madonna can help Britney get back to her old self,” a source told the newspaper.

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Ever the provocateur, Mylène Farmer, hailed by some as the French Madonna, unveils the raunchy new video for her latest single ‘Dégénération’ on Thursday. Three teaser clips from the typically epic promo have been posted here. The song is taken from her seventh studio album, Point de Suture, released on August 20th in Europe.

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Katy Perry has defended her song, ‘I Kissed A Girl’, which recently became the 1000th US #1 single, after coming under fire from religious and feminist groups. The “pseudo-lesbian” former star of Christian gospel responded to accusations of “good, old-fashioned woman-using”, telling The Observer that “it doesn’t matter if you’re female or male, if the right woman walks through the door, everybody’s jaw is going to be on the floor.”

Hmm. She’s still no Jill Sobule.

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Rosie & The Goldbug will play a Thursday night residency at the 12 Bar this month, beginning this week. The single, ‘War Of The Roses (Because You Said So)’, is released on July 14th as a download.

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Alan Pedder