Free mp3 of the week – Bim

Bim stands for Building Information Modelling.

It’s also a band, apparently, and thanks to XO’s Middle Eight blog for bringing them to my attention, and therefore to yours. You can get three of their tracks for free from their website.

The new track Lights Out is covered in synth arpeggios, and nobody likes an arpeggio more than me. Look…


Live – Hot Chip

We’ve discussed this before, but Hot Chip are exceptionally good live. I’ve seen them four times, most recently inexplicably as a support act at the Hollywood Bowl. You probably don’t need me to tell you how good they are…

Hot Chip are playing everywhere. After a bunch of festivals in the summer, catch them across the USA in September, the UK in October, and Europe in November.

I Monster – Rare / Remixed

A little bit ahead of time, as they’re not quite out yet, but next week sees the release of not one but two companion albums to I Monster‘s exceptional 2003 album Neveroddoreven.

The first, Rare, features twelve previously unreleased or rare tracks, including Cells, which was on the album originally and then got cunningly hidden before the start on the reissue, Lucifer You’re a Devil, which was tacked on the end, and Resistance is Futile, which was the b-side to Daydream in Blue.

Then Remixed offers fifteen remixes from the singles Daydream in BlueHey Mrs.Who is She? and The Back Seat of My Car. Some of the ones that have been more widely available before are excellent, so you’ll definitely want to be buying a copy of this too.

Available next week soon(?) digitally via iTunes and the like.

Edit: it’s not clear to me what’s happened to this release and the band don’t appear to be answering questions about it. I’ll update when I know more…!

Edit: October 8th apparently. Fingers crossed this time!

Final Edit: For those of you who keep dropping onto this page via Google, I assume you’re looking for download links – so here you go: Rare / Remixed. Note that these albums were released by the artist themselves, and they deserve your support!

Chart for stowaways – 25 August 2012

I suspect maybe as testament to how ridiculously busy I’ve been recently, the album chart for stowaways has gone totally loopy this week:

  1. Jean Michel Jarre – Essentials & Rarities
  2. Frankmusik – Do it in the AM
  3. The Divine Comedy – A Secret History – The Best Of
  4. Sébastien Tellier – My God is Blue
  5. VCMG – Ssss
  6. Ladytron – Gravity the Seducer
  7. Marsheaux – E-Bay Queen is Dead
  8. Pet Shop Boys – Format
  9. Hot Chip – In Our Heads
  10. Saint Etienne – So Tough

On the singles, VCMG enter at number three, while Pet Shop Boys continue their unbroken  nine week hold on the top spot.

Marsheaux – E-bay Queen is Dead

Marsheaux seem to have become the darlings of the world of synthpop blogs, I think mainly because they meet the key requirements of (a) being female and (b) playing synthesizers. It’s tempting to wonder therefore whether I should resist joining their bandwagon, but the trouble is, they’re very very good.

I’m struggling to remember exactly how I first came across them – it was definitely thanks to the internet, but I don’t remember whether it was thanks to a blog or another band’s forum. Either way, it was around the time of the release of their second album Peeka Boo (2007), when suddenly the entire internet seemed to know who they were and what they were about. I bought the first two albums, and they blew me away.

The first, E-bay Queen (2004), is the less perfect of the two, but has a wonderful pop simplicity, with an endless string of beautiful pop songs containing nods to their own influences. For the Europhiles among us, there’s even a track in Greek, Όλα Γυρίζουν (yes, I typed that out all by myself).

What the first may lack in terms of perfection, the follow-up Peeka Boo definitely has. There simply isn’t a duff track on the whole album, so it would be unfair to even single out any of the tracks on there.

They returned in 2009 with their third album Lumineux Noir, which for me was where the bubble burst. Maybe I just came with too high expectations, and it’s definitely not fair to suggest that it’s in any way a bad album, but neither does it grab you in the way that Peeka Boo did. The highlights – Breakthrough and Radial Emotion – are let down slightly by the less good tracks and the sadly unnecessary second disc.

Despite this, it’s definitely disappointing that they’ve remained silent for the last three years, and I was very pleased to receive an email from their record company offering me the chance to buy the new compilation E-bay Queen Is Dead directly from them.

The back story for the album is probably fascinating in itself – their blog suggests they weren’t very keen to release it at all, so you’re left wondering if gargantuan record company EMI are to be thanked. But unwilling though Marsheaux may have been, E-Bay Queen Is Dead serves as a welcome reappraisal of their career to date.

The collection kicks off with Bizarre Love Duo, the wonderfully named b-side to the 2008 single Ghost, before launching into a couple of early demos. Their wonderful 2010 cover of Eyes Without a Face is the obvious highlight, and the new rejected album tracks which follow it are interesting, if slightly disappointing. The covers of Empire State HumanRegret and She’s Leaving are welcome, and the rest of the album is solid, if somewhat unexciting.

Obvious omissions are their early compilation covers New Life and Emis Forame to Himona Anixiatika, but these are still widely available (and definitely worth tracking down).

We should all still look forward to their forthcoming fourth album, which is due very soon, and E-bay Queen Is Dead serves as useful revision, but Sadly either my expectations are always set too high to ever enjoy Marsheaux fully again, or it’s not the most inspiring collection on the planet.

The full album can be downloaded from iTunes here.

Sébastien Tellier – My God is Blue

I was at a friend’s house, very late at night, back in 2008, when he put on Sexuality by Sébastien Tellier, telling me only that he was France’s Eurovision entry and that it was produced by one of Daft Punk. Within seconds, I was blown away by the beautiful bubbling arpeggio of Roche, and stunned by the eccentric pop throughout the album. To this day, Roche is still the most played track in my iTunes library.

A month or so later, I got to see his hilarious performance of Divine at the Eurovision Song Contest, with its golf buggy, helium and bearded dancers. Not sure what I’m talking about? Perhaps your memory needs refreshing?

I was also lucky enough to see Sébastien performing live at the Ooh La L.A. festival in Los Angeles in 2010, where he performed a short but utterly brilliant set. The live version of l’Amour et la Violence was, as you might expect, quite exceptional.

So, of course, I was very pleased to see that he was now back with a new album, but for some reason it isn’t properly available in the USA yet, so I briefly made do by getting hold of the remixed version of Sexuality which appeared on iTunes a while back. That’s quite good too.

And finally I managed to get my hands on My God is Blue. It opens with more wonderful synthpop in the shape of Pépito Bleu, before settling down into more gentle rhythms, disco, and pop. As you might expect after Sexuality, the whole thing is coloured by a slightly offbeat humour, and the low points are few and far between. Highlights are The Colour of Your MindRussian AttractionsAgainst the Law and Yes, It’s Possible, and the whole thing comes to an unusual close with a minute or so of near silence.

All round it’s another wonderful album, and definitely worth checking out if you like your pop to be French, laid back, and ever-so-slightly silly.

My God is Blue is available from or on import from Amazon.comSexuality is more widely available through or, and Sexuality (Remix) is on iTunes and probably other places too.

Live – Dragonette

Toronto band Dragonette may have only had a couple of hits that you’ve heard of, but they’re extremely good live. I first saw them perform in 2010, and by the time I next saw them earlier this year they seemed to have also become inexpressibly cool.

According to Songkick you can catch Dragonette across the USA in September and Canada in October.