Hard News by Russell Brown


Believe the Hype

I like reading lists as much as the next guy: I just don’t like making them as much as your average geek. But it's Friday and I feel moved towards some account of my favourite music for 2008. Even to me, it splits up quite oddly.

On the one hand, there are the cool-and-knowing-but-rootsy female singer-songwriters. Jenny Lewis's Acid Tongue doesn't hang together quite as well as Rabbit Fur Coat, but the title track is a wonderful work of ambiguity in a bell-like voice. Here she is performing it llive this month in LA, with her band on backing vocals:

In Jenny Lewis-related business, who couldn't love the Watson Twins' brilliant cover of The Cure's 'Just Like Heaven' on Fire Songs?

I'm also currently in love with 'Little Rock Star', from Lucinda Williams' recent album Little Honey (you can listen to it here on Last FM) and especially the way this image:

Your lovely eyes
That close like petals
Your sweet surprise
Could win you medals

Gives way to the bawdy 'Honey Bee', where the words run like this:

Oh my little honey bee
I'm so glad you stung me
Now I got your honey
All over my tummy


On the other hand, I've spent a lot of time listening to nerds with synthesisers: MGMT (and yes, the album did get old eventually), Hot Chip, The L.E.D.s' Still, SJD's Dayglo Spectres and Deastro's dense, amazing eMusic-only collection Keeper's have all been much in my head this year.

Retro: there was only one choice: the out-of-nowhere Velvet Underground bootleg Live at the Gymnasium: the only known live recording of the band from 1967 and the last to feature John Cale. It is some small miracle that it not only has matchless fanboy interest but sounds absolutely stonking.

And then there's Hype Machine. I love what it reflects about pop music; I love that it's okay to have a favourite tune today and be onto something else next week; that there are a million remixes of MGMT's 'Kids', from the Pet Shop Boys to that Soulwax monster; that you can find the housiest house remixes of Kanye West's 'Love Lockdown' and a surprisingly good mash-up with ZZ Top.

The zeitgeist this week seems to be with covers of Britney Spears' 'Womanizer'. Mark Ronson leaked a version he'd just recorded with Lilly Allen on his radio show (get it here before it disappears) and Ladyhawke has done one for a BBC session:

YouTube will provide you with many other versions, not all of them good, but all part of pop's rich, responsive tapestry. Did I say I like pop music?


I once told Paul Holmes that while I might on occasion disagree mightily with his words or actions, I had never doubted his authenticity. In a world where so many empty vessels make noise, he is what he is; sometimes maddening but rich and real. On the day of his final breakfast radio broadcast, I wish him all the best.


The speaker lineup for next year's Webstock has been finalised and it's pretty amazing. Author, journalist and EFF co-founder Bruce Sterling and poster-boy for the "new new journalism Adrian Holovaty of chicacocrime.org fame are of particular interest to me, but it's a very strong lineup all round.

I think we're lucky to have access to an event of this quality. I'm in what now appears to be my traditional slot: kicking off the Friday morning with a content-roundup keynote. And yes, it is intimidating being on the same bill as those other people.

The really nice people at Felt have a really nice prize pack for one lucky Public Address reader. Pop over to the site to check it out, and then, to enter, send your name, address and phone number to renee@nzmusic.org.nz with "Felt like Christmas" as the subject line.

And don't forget to vote for the Public Address Word of the Year 2008. One lucky voter will receive a case of Vavasour sauvignon blanc (another case will be awarded the discretion of the judge, who is me). Voting closes Sunday night. Get in there.

39 responses to this post

First ←Older Page 1 2 Newer→ Last