Preview – Madness

This isn’t a taster for the music, but it’s a rather brilliant video of an album launch anyway. Madness are back with a new album called Can’t Touch Us Now, and here they are with some pensioners, telling everyone about it:

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Chart for stowaways – 24 September 2016

Here are this week’s top ten singles:

  1. Pet Shop Boys – Say It to Me
  2. Röyksopp feat. Susanne Sundfør – Never Ever
  3. Massive Attack – The Spoils / Come Near Me
  4. Shit Robot – End of the Trail
  5. Pet Shop Boys – Inner Sanctum
  6. Jean-Michel Jarre & Pet Shop Boys – Brick England
  7. Pet Shop Boys – Twenty-Something
  8. Shit Robot – In Love
  9. Clarke Hartnoll – Better Have a Drink to Think
  10. New Order feat. Elly Jackson – People on the High Line

Q Awards 2016 – Nominations

Every Autumn, the Q Awards turn up with a whole pile of prizes for people in almost identically-named categories. Last year’s winners were documented here, and the nominees for this year’s event are now in!

This year, they have renamed it the Corporate Sponsorship StubHub Q Awards Sponsored by StubHub, but that’s a stupid name, so that’s the only time we’ll mention StubHub on this blog. Here are the nominations:

Q Best Breakthrough Act presented by Red Stripe

  • The Amazons
  • Blossoms
  • Christine and the Queens
  • Gallant
  • Jack Garratt
  • Lady Leshurr
  • Let’s Eat Grandma
  • Nothing But Thieves
  • Rat Boy
  • Spring King

Q Best Track

  • Bastille – Good Grief
  • Catfish and the Bottlemen – Twice
  • Biffy Clyro – Howl
  • The 1975 – Somebody Else
  • Skepta – Man

Q Best Video presented by Boxplus

  • Beyoncé – Formation
  • Coldplay – Up & Up
  • PJ Harvey – The Community of Hope
  • The 1975 – A Change of Heart
  • Wolf Alice – Lisbon

Q Best Album presented by Absolute Radio

  • Bastille – Wild World
  • David Bowie – Blackstar
  • Christine and the Queens – Chaleur Humaine
  • Coldplay – A Head Full of Dreams
  • The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It

Q Best Live Act presented by StubHub

  • Coldplay
  • Muse
  • Savages
  • U2
  • Wolf Alice

The winner will probably be StubHub…

Q Best Solo Artist presented by Help Musicians UK

  • James Bay
  • Noel Gallagher
  • PJ Harvey
  • Michael Kiwanuka
  • Skepta

Q Best Act In The World Today presented by The Cavern Club

  • Biffy Clyro
  • Coldplay
  • Muse
  • The 1975
  • U2

If you care who wins in any of those categories, you can vote for the StubHub winners in all the categories listed above here.

The Future Sound of London – Papua New Guinea Translations

After a bit of warm-up, The Future Sound of London really started operating under that name in 1992 with the groundbreaking and enormous hit single Papua New Guinea, and just under a decade later, they put that particular career on hold with the mini-album Papua New Guinea Translations, released fifteen years ago this week.

It opens, of course, with the track that began it all, the exquisite original 12″ version of the title track. Until you listen to it again, it’s easy to forget quite how good it actually is. Those simple, reverb-laden piano notes and choral washes will send shivers down your spine – it really is that amazing.

That was the first translation (back into the native FSOLish, it would seem). The second owes a lot to the original, built around a similar chord sequence and directly sampling it at various speeds. Papsico is a great way to begin in earnest – a ten minute exploration which takes the original in a very different direction while at the same time not straying too far from the theme. There are definite echoes of FSOL’s later, broader and more exploratory material, with a slidey middle section and hints of far-off alien worlds, but it’s almost certainly best not to read too much into that at this stage.

Other translations are more of a departure from the original – The Lovers, later revisited on the next Amorphous Androgynous album The Isness, borrows primarily from the original with just a laid back bass part, and a spacious progressive backdrop has been built around it. In its original form, it’s another nine minute exploration, which gives it plenty of space to evolve and saunter through the concept.

After this, the translations start to drift from one to the next, both literally and metaphorically. Wooden Ships hints at the eastern directions of their next project a couple of years later; The Great Marmalade Mama in the Sky is less psychedelic, and more of a beatsy, cosmic variation.

The journey we take on this album carries us around the world – perhaps even across the universe. Requiem is a gentler piece, with piano, harmonica, and waily vocals. Then Things Change Like the Patterns and Shades That Fall from the Sun is a more dramatic translation, built around startling pad chords based on the original Papua New Guinea sequence.

The eighth and final translation is The Big Blue, bringing together many of the themes from the preceding tracks into one. It’s a pleasant eastern-themed piece, drifting along with various instruments taking the lead. On the face of it, there isn’t a lot of Papua New Guinea left here, but then elements from the original do turn up from time to time, and the sum product is entirely pleasant.

Like the album as a whole – blurring the line between what “single” and an “album” might mean, this is an extremely enjoyable exploration of different elements from the start – and end – of The Future Sound of London‘s chart career.

You can find second-hand or downloadable copies of Papua New Guinea Translations from places like this.

Chart for stowaways – 17 September 2016

Here are the top singles this week:

  1. Shit Robot – End of the Trail
  2. Röyksopp feat. Susanne Sundfør – Never Ever
  3. Pet Shop Boys – Inner Sanctum
  4. Massive Attack – The Spoils / Come Near Me
  5. Pet Shop Boys – Say It to Me
  6. Jean-Michel Jarre & Pet Shop Boys – Brick England
  7. Pet Shop Boys – Twenty-Something
  8. Shit Robot – In Love
  9. New Order feat. Elly Jackson – People on the High Line
  10. Clarke Hartnoll – Better Have a Drink to Think