wears the trousers magazine

incoming: here lies love

David Byrne & Fatboy Slim
Here Lies Love

[Nonesuch; February 22]

This hugely anticipated double album from the perhaps unlikely pairing of David Byrne and Norman Cook features 20 top female vocalists (and Steve Earle) retelling the incredible life story of Imelda Marcos, former First Lady Of The Philippines, from her early days as a beauty queen in Manila to her marriage to Ferdinand Marcos and his controversial presidency, and finally to their catastrophic fall from grace in the face of the People Power Revolution of 1986. Says David Byrne in the introduction, “The story I am interested in is about asking what drives a powerful person—what makes them tick? How do they make and then remake themselves? I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great if—as this piece would be principally composed of clubby dance music—one could experience it in a club setting? Could one bring a ‘story’ and a kind of theatre to the disco? Was that possible? If so, wouldn’t that be amazing!” (Byrne himself sings on only two tracks; ‘American Troglodyte’ and the Shara Worden duet ‘Seven Years’.) The deluxe edition of Here Lies Love includes a 100-page companion book and DVD. Unmissable, really.

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cat power, beth orton, gossip join lilith fair 2010 lineup

Lilith Fair organisers today announced a second wave of artists who have signed on to take part in this year’s revival of the all-female travelling festival. These include Cat Power, Beth Orton, Sia, Gossip, Norah Jones, Rosie Thomas, Frazey Ford of The Be Good Tanyas, Lissie, Missy Higgins, ’80s rockers Heart and the legendary Loretta Lynn. UK pop acts Kate Nash, La Roux and Marina & The Diamonds will also perform at select dates, which have yet to be announced.

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ladyhawke, sia and sarah blasko win at 2009 ARIA awards
November 26, 2009, 2:18 pm
Filed under: news, trouser press | Tags: , , , ,

New Zealand pop act Ladyhawke beat down any controversy over her five nominations at last night’s Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) awards with two wins, taking home both the best single (‘My Delirium’) and album (Ladyhawke) prizes for a breakthrough artist. Commenting on the dispute surrounding her participation, she told MTV Australia: “It’s a shame that there was a bit of dark shadow cast on it. I didn’t want to offend anyone… I just write exactly the type of music I want to listen to myself.” Previous ARIA award winner Sarah Blasko, who has established herself as one of Australia’s most loved and continually evolving artists, took home the award for best female artist following the success of her third album As Day Follows Night [review / interview]. Other winners included Sia for the lovely TV Is My Parent DVD and independent artist Bertie Blackman for her third album Secrets & Lies [review].

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trouser shorts: ida maria, soko, dirty projectors


Ida Maria has rejigged her 2007/2009 single ‘Oh My God’ for a third shot at the charts, this time with guest vocals from Iggy Pop. Although they did not meet during the recording, the two plan to shoot a video together in Miami later this month. Speaking to SPIN.com, Ida revealed that she’s a big fan of the chiselled elder statesman of punk and is delighted with his contribution. “It turned out to be the most euphoric supernatural sound I could ever imagine,” she gushed. Judge for yourself here. The single gets a digital release on August 31st.

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australia week: a loud call from down under


australia week: a loud call from down under

It’s 1981. Olivia Newton-John, already a household name thanks to her performance opposite John Travolta in ‘Grease’, spends 10 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with the suggestive pop anthem ‘Physical’. The album of the same name peaks at #6 on the Billboard 200 and is later certified double platinum. Six years later, in Olivia’s native Australia, a popular young soap star named Kylie Minogue is coaxed into a rendition of the Little Eve classic ‘The Loco-motion’ at a charity benefit with her fellow ‘Neighbours’ cast members. Her recording of the song becomes the highest-selling single of the ’80s in Australia and spawns a recording career which has seen her thus far sell over 60 million records, a large chunk of those sold throughout the UK and Europe.

Newton-John and Minogue are no doubt two of Australia’s biggest musical exports, but they do not even begin to scratch the surface in terms of the breadth and depth of female talent currently on offer from those distant shores. Sarah Blasko, Holly Throsby, Lenka Kripac, Sia Furler, Kasey Chambers, Missy Higgins and Lisa Mitchell are just a few of the names who have made or are beginning to make an impact both in Australia and overseas; some of them criminally overlooked by the Australian media (Furler), others earning their place among the most sought-after live acts (Blasko). Perhaps now more than ever independent Aussie females are making their mark on the international circuit, and making the Australian music industry sit up and take notice.

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sia to release live dvd in may
March 10, 2009, 1:57 pm
Filed under: news, trouser press, video | Tags: , , , ,

030908_siaFour music videos among the extras

Sia’s exclusive preview performance of last year’s Some People Have REAL Problems at New York’s fancy Hiro Ballroom in September 2007 will finally make it to DVD. The long-promised treat will go by the name of TV Is My Parent, and will feature bonus material including four music videos and a behind-the-scenes documentary-style feature called “Where The Magic Happens’, filmed on her February/March 2008 North American tour.

No tracklist was provided for the live footage, but we know it contains songs from Some People Have REAL Problems and Colour The Small One, as well as a sprinkling of Zero 7 songs. The film was directed by Nic Wrathall, with set design by David Korins, and includes a 5:1 surround sound mix. The DVD is out on May 19th in North America, and will hopefully arrive in the UK the same week. The DVD will also feature hidden clips as Easter eggs for “serious fans” to unearth.

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

Albums of the year: #10–1


Martha Wainwright
I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too
Drowned In Sound

Released: July 2008

What we said then: “It’s not easy being a Wainwright. Even the most cursory listen to I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too, the much anticipated second album from Martha, the baby of the family, will only serve to reinforce that impression. From the unrequited love of opener ‘Bleeding All Over You’ onwards the tone is one of nerve end-exposing confessional honesty. Even if she’s now found a degree of domestic happiness with producer Brad Albetta the last few years have clearly been anything but a comfortable ride. There is the same intimacy of expression, even if this time it occasionally hides a little deep below the more ambitious production and commercial sensibilities.” •••½ Martyn Clayton [full review]

What we say now: Martha Wainwright’s endearingly fiery debut was a slow-burning word of mouth hit, so with much of the legwork already behind her you can understand why she might have wanted more instant gratification with this follow-up. But while I Know You’re Married… certainly has songs with immediate appeal, it’s an uneven listening experience overall. Lucky, then, that Martha has become a real powerhouse performer on the stage, offering another way into the album. More focus and fewer producers next time and we might just get the masterpiece she’s capable of.

Download: ‘You Cheated Me’, ‘Love Is A Stranger’

iTunes £7.99



My Brightest Diamond
A Thousand Shark’s Teeth
Asthmatic Kitty

Released: June 2008

Several years in the making, My Brightest Diamond’s second album proper wears its meticulous construction proudly on its wizard’s sleeve. Originally conceived as a simple string quartet album, A Thousand Shark’s Teeth turned out to be denser than a nugget of iridium. A tumbling, soaring, confusing, soothing avant-rock injection of wonder and weirdness, it’s easy to see how some might find it a little too much to take in one sitting…but as 11 course meals go you couldn’t wish for a finer spread. Drawing on several literary influences, Shara Worden’s often oblique lyrics come alive with her operatic trills and octave-hopping prowess, breathing a surreal and often creepy element into her passionate cartwheels of profound emotion. Not an album to endlessly loop, play after play after play, A Thousand Shark’s Teeth is prickly and ripe with a terrifyingly accomplished creativity. To sum it up in her own words, “the emphasis is on beauty and richness” [feature interview].

Download: ‘Inside A Boy’, ‘To Pluto’s Moon’

iTunes £7.99



Some People Have Real Problems
Monkey Puzzle 

Released: January 2008

What we said then: “As with previous offerings Sia’s latest album runs amok through the many different facets of her personality. Her continued strategy of delivering stylistic tangents that encompass the best of electronica, R&B, soul and pop has made the listener’s journey to date never less than boring. Some People Have Real Problems delivers another pleasing blend of musical schizophrenia but with added progression of thought from the first to the final song. It shows songwriting maturity and, most impressively, an acute understanding of album aesthetics missing from so many artists who, forced by their producers and labels to surround a hit with mediocre filler, have all but killed the joy of the journey from first song to last. I would suggest they are the artists with real problems; if Sia continues to mine this rich seam, she should have very few.” •••• Paul Woodgate [full review]

What we say now: Of 2008’s many croaky voiced pop acts vying to be the new monarchs of white soul, it’s Sia who is closest to your hearts it seems. Some People Have Real Problems may not have had the publicity or budget of Adele’s 19, but it’s a far, far better album. Though the awful artwork may suggest otherwise, it’s smart, mature and resoundingly convincing. And it’s even better live. Ms Furler’s name might not be synonymous with originality but she’s got the pipes and the class to sacrifice that and still remain vital.

Download: ‘Buttons’, ‘Soon We’ll Be Found’

iTunes £7.99



She & Him
Volume One
Double Six

Released: May 2008

What we said then: “Acting and music-making have always made an uneasy alliance at best. It isn’t often that a person can straddle the two industries with any degree of success. Volume One, Zooey Deschanel’s presumably ongoing collaboration with Portland-based singer-songwriter M Ward, yields a collection of mainly original numbers with a few covers thrown in towards the end. It’s twee, yes, but not overly so. Deschanel’s slightly country-esque voice is alive with character and feeling. The music is crisp and clean and dips into a range of styles from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. It complements Deschanel’s voice without ever drowning or swallowing her.” •••• Hugh Armitage [full review]

What we say now: If there was a finer distillation of the classic singer-songwriter decades this year then we didn’t hear it. Whereas Scarlett Johansson’s album retrofitted a narcotic rumbling haze to Tom Waits’s visceral songbook and failed to inspire much feeling at all, fellow actress Zooey Deschanel’s collaboration with M Ward dug in from the plain-sung but heartfelt ‘Sentimental Heart’ right through to ‘Sweet Darlin’ – a could-have-been Dusty Springfield classic with a country twist – and never dropped the ball. Only the phoned-in cover of ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ felt a bit superfluous tacked on to the end, but this cosy, cuddly (and, we suspect, a touch ironic) album entrances and warms like bottled sunshine. Volume Two has some big comfy slippers to fill.

Download: ‘Sentimental Heart’, ‘I Was Made For You’

iTunes £7.99



Lykke Li
Youth Novels
LL Recordings / Warner

Released: June 2008

Produced by Lasse Mårtén and Bjorn Yttling of Peter, Bjorn & John, this debut from Swedish upstart Li Lykke Timotej Zachrisson – or Lykke Li as she’d rather we know her – was a blend of orthodox melodies, unconventional structures and delightfully unusual samples used in unexpected places. Often compared to friend and collaborator Robyn, Lykke sings with a clear, smooth pitch, full of youth and soul – a hard-to-find combination. What sets Youth Novels apart is its enthusiasm for blending soulful, accessible  pop with elements of the experimental, often electro in style. From the luscious, sensual opener ‘Melodies, Desires’ to the distorted symphonic feel of ‘My Love’ and the utterly addictive ‘Little Bit’, Youth Novels is an album unafraid to play with established genres, layering styles and ideas with a zestful and romantic passion.

Download: ‘Little Bit’, ‘I’m Good, I’m Gone’

iTunes £7.99



Lizard King / Warner 

Released: May 2008

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock in the Gobi desert all year, Santogold is the recording moniker for one Santi White – singer, songwriter, producer and all round musical genius. Having worked with a number of high-profile top earners such as Mark Ronson, Pharell Williams and GZA of Wu Tang Clan, White was already highly respected for her uniquely innovative creations. Evolving from her punk rock beginnings, Santogold’s shameless penchant for ’80s pop and host of rap/electro collaborators all added up to a skilfully convoluted debut, incorporating an enormously diverse range of styles and sounds including reggae, indie, electro and dance. Though R&B is frequently and incorrectly cited as an influence on the album, it’s obvious to the more astute listener that Santi’s tastes are far more alternative. From the deliciously dub-heavy ‘Creator’ (which was snapped up by a certain hair care company for their summer ad campaign), the dark, grime-like New Wave of ‘Starstruck’ and the Pixies-esque surf guitar of ‘Lights Out’, this genre-defying debut won acclaim from press, peers and fans alike, and easily found its way into our top five.

Download: ‘Lights Out’, ‘L.E.S. Artistes’

iTunes £7.99



Seventh Tree

Released: February 2008

What we said then: Seventh Tree finds the duo of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory not so much edging away from the adventurous lust of their last two albums as turning their back on it completely. It’s still very much a Goldfrapp record but this isn’t Felt Mountain part II either; there’s nothing so innocent about Seventh Tree. With the likes of Kylie and Madonna jumping on the ‘frappian electro-glam bandwagon, Alison and Will have wisely hauled their anchor and sailed swiftly away before the inevitable call from Timbaland came through. Seventh Tree will no doubt appall those who sicken at any hint of a genuine emotion, but to those who can handle such things it never seems banal or uninspired. ” ••••½ Eva Weppelmann [full review]

What we say now: While adopting elements of psychedelic folk has become rather commonplace, if not essential, among indie newcomers, for neo-glam pop goliaths Goldfrapp to take the same road seemed somehow revolutionary. But while the music of Seventh Tree feels rural, antique and defiantly sunny, it’s just as knowing, with constant nods to the shady underbelly of outsider living. Whereas Supernature attempted to make up for its absence of any real lyrical substance with thundering pop melodies, Seventh Tree has actual characterisations and is all the better for it. You sympathise with the tragic narrator of ‘A&E’, feel the wind in the hair of the ‘Caravan Girl’, and so on. Where Goldfrapp go from here is anyone’s guess, but this was a fantastic and timely reinvention.

Download: ‘Clowns’, ‘Little Bird’

iTunes £7.99



Amanda Palmer
Who Killed Amanda Palmer

Released: February 2008

What we said then: “Co-produced with similarly arch keyboard whizz Ben Folds, Who Killed Amanda Palmer is rife with trumpet blasts, strings and Palmer’s trademark piano percussion, but it’s not always clear whether she has done a thorough enough job of disconnecting from The Dresden Dolls’ Brechtian punk cabaret stylings to make this more than just another album for the band’s repertoire. Thankfully Palmer knows how to interpret the moss on the trees. From her beginnings as a depressing performer, exposing bloody hands and shrieks for an audience of friends, Palmer has sliced and laid open the intricate carcass that constitutes simple existence. Who Killed Amanda Palmer is sufficient proof of something beautiful lying within the (sometimes) ugly.” •••• Paige Taylor [full review]

What we say now: It may not have been a million miles away from what you’d expect from a Dresden Dolls album, but Who Killed Amanda Palmer achieved what it set out to do: reaffirm that Amanda Palmer is one of today’s most consistently interesting, theatrical and intelligent performers. Unafraid to mix self-deprecating humour with lampooning sketches of life’s less cerebrally gifted, or flat-out profundity with offhand, quirky homilies and unlikely pop cultural references, Palmer brought the goods on all counts. A righteous gem.

Download: ‘Ampersand’, ‘Runs In The Family’

iTunes £7.99 (£9.99 with bonus tracks)



Go! Discs / Island 

Released: April 2008

What we said then: “Third combines the best things about classic Portishead – their atmospheric quality, the chilled-out trip-hop, their gloominess – but brings new and experimental sounds to the mix. The layering of familiarity with surprising new sounds and flourishes makes an album that warrants repeat listenings, with something new to discover each time. After 11 years of anticipation, Portishead have come through with something worth the wait.” •••• Hugh Armitage

What we say now: If Portishead’s last album was a spectre of tension and claustrophobic terror, this long awaited comeback blazed like a vivid dystopian nightmare. Whether wailing like a distempered crone awoken from a lengthy hibernation or reprising her role as a brokenhearted, insular obsessive, Beth Gibbons sounded familiarly, almost comfortingly bleak. For once, though, she’s not always the weirdest wheel on the wagon as Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley do their utmost to mess with our heads. Their convoluted technical approach doesn’t always work to Portishead’s advantage, but Third remains an impressive labour of tough love.

Download: ‘The Rip’, ‘Small’

iTunes £7.99



Laura Marling
Alas I Cannot Swim 

Released: February 2008

What we said then: “From the opening bars of immaculate first single ‘Ghosts’ to the closing moments of the title track, surreptitiously tacked onto the end of ‘Your Only Doll (Dora)’, the quality control dial is turned up to 11. Even when she’s embodying the character of a victim of sexual abuse, her austere phrasing makes her wholly believable. Marling’s voice, too, has matured since her last recordings. Mixing playfulness with a knowing wink, she recalls Aimee Mann, Joni Mitchell and, at times, Eliza Carthy, but Laura has something altogether more contemporary and fresh, and appealingly English. With the album format allegedly on its last legs, all 38 minutes of Alas I Cannot Swim bucks the trend by playing very much like a cohesive whole. With Noah & The Whale’s Charlie Fink taking on production duties, the record sounds neither overproduced or lacking in colour, complementing the songs without engulfing them.” ••••• Richard Steele [full review]

What we say now: We’ve been endlessly impressed with the young Ms Marling all year and are thrilled you’ve voted her debut album as the year’s best listen. Last year’s My Manic & I EP was our first glimpse of her precocious talent for gorgeously nuanced folk-centric pop, but we were glad to see her excising the smart aleck quips of her weaker songs for the more mature introspection of Alas I Cannot Swim. The deceptive simplicity of the songs might belie their construction with a watchmaker’s attention to detail, but their deftly expressed and subtle fire roared into life during Marling’s several hugely acclaimed tours. Dignified, playful and lyrically weighty, Alas I Cannot Swim has all the hallmarks of a singer-songwriter classic and its success is well deserved. For next year’s hopefuls the bar has been set. Who will scale such great heights?

Download: ‘Night Terror’, ‘Ghosts’

FREE MP3: Laura Marling, Man Sings About Romance‘ [‘Ghosts’ B-side] [via RCRDLBL]

iTunes £5.99