Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Never judge the artist from the album cover...

I'm taking a week off, starting tomorrow, and I've just decided that - as a matter of principle - I'm not going to take any music away with me! What I hear over the next ten days or so will almost entirely be that which a French ski resort (Les Arcs, as it happens) serves up in one way or another and that could be quite instructive but I rather doubt much of it will be of French origin. To be honest you'll probably find more of that here on this blog but it is said that 'a change is a good as a rest' and, at the very least, it will be interesting to see which artists they have picked up on.

My disappointment earlier this week with Not Too Late, the new album by Norah Jones, served to remind me that (and it was something I had stupidly forgotten for a moment) often the best things are not the ones that come with the biggest hype.
Somewhat obscure albums are good escapism as you are unlikely to be asked your opinion of them, unless of course you choose to offer it, and foreign language ones are even better because as long as they sound good there is no real need to analyse, or even really listen to, the lyrics. Or you even could try both at once but I find ignoring the lyrics hard to do nonetheless - even if they are incomprehensible!

There is some bleating at the moment that the UK chart music scene is stagnating but even if it is there is no excuse whatsoever; it is more easily changed by public opinion and marketing than it has ever been.
This is slightly more contentous: there has been much hubris on message-boards in the last year or so about the methods that certain artists (possibly helped by labels) have used to position themselves, firstly on My Space (Lily Allen, and others) and more recently on You Tube (Mia Rose is this week's bête noire in this respect) but it is just a case of new medium, old tactics; something that seems utterly lost on the "new moralists" of the internet forums (sic) who have, we can only assume, never illegally downloaded a single song between them!

As for the perceived lack of diversity in music, well I'm not having a word of it! If you can't find something of interest then you simply aren't trying hard enough!

The album below was included, strictly on its own merits, in my 'Top 10' of 2006 and
if you think that The Pipettes are a strange throwback - three girls (l to r; Rosay, Gwenno and Becki) singing cleverly constructed faux early '60s pop, backed by their four-piece male backing band 'The Cassettes' - then you are taking the polka dots far too seriously. The lyrics are often so very NOT pop circa 1961' and you need to check out their 2006 début album We Are The Pipettes released on CD and 12" vinyl by Memphis Industries (MI), along with several 7" and CD singles, in 2006.

You might reasonably think that the blonde one, Gwenno Saunders, is just a 'pretty face' as she was recruited (at a gig where they were support to MI label-mates Go!Team in Cardiff) after one of the original members left in the early days of The Pipettes and because she had already appeared in Welsh language soap Pobl Y Cwm and, slightly later, as a presenter on BBC Wales.
Well maybe, but she had also already released two solo EPs on CD and they are both mainly sung in Welsh, with the exception of a few tracks sung in Cornish or English. The first of them was Môr Hud, released by Caernarfon-based CRAI Records (CRAI CD086) on 5th September 2002.

It is still available at a reasonable price but might take a little finding. The second, Vodya (CRAI CD089), was released slightly later but can equally be found and this time the title track is sung in Cornish.

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