New Monday

The debut album by Colombian-American singer Kali Uchis is an absolute dream. Modern R&B that sounds as warm as the old stuff, with Latin, Reggae, and Synthpop influences and a smorgasbord of collaborators ranging from Tyler The Creator and Bootsy Collins to Tame Impala and Damon Albarn. Keeping this genre-hopping kaleidoscope together is Kali’s gorgeous voice which sounds like Amy Winehouse with her shit together.

Another great album to add to the end of the year list and it’s still only April.


Going For A Song

Whenever I’m visiting another town I always use the Yelp app on my phone to find out if there are any used book and record shops in the area, and any place that doesn’t have any immediately goes down in my estimation. So I would like to give a big TripAdvisor thumbs-up to the 9th Street area of Durham, NC, for having both. I picked up this Lulu album at a used record shop there when I was down that way last week. I didn’t know anything about it but it was produced by Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd, and Arif Mardin and only cost $3 so I thought it was worth a punt.

Released in 1970, Melody Fair was the second album Lulu recorded with the legendary Muscle Shoals crew. She was following in the footsteps of fellow Brit-pop chick Dusty Springfield by making a “soul” album in America, but while it’s no Dusty In Memphis it does have its moments. The title track in particular is quite lovely, a cover of a Bee Gees song (Lulu was married to Maurice Gibb at the time) it’s worth $3 all on its own.

Download: Melody Fair – Lulu (mp3)

Destroy Me

Very happy to hear that dark synth-wavers Ladytron are going to be releasing their first new album in seven years. I thought they’d disappeared for good.

Seeing as they’re back in action I think it would be a good idea for the producers of the next Bond film to get in touch with them about doing the theme. As they showed with this absolute beauty back in 2005 they could do a lot better than the limp Adele and Sam Smith rubbish of the last two films.

Download: Destroy Everything You Touch – Ladytron (mp3)

Photo: Margaret Nolan filming the opening titles of Goldfinger.

In Real America

I’m going to be away next week visiting the in-laws in the heart of rural, Fox-watching, Trump-voting North Carolina. I won’t be posting anything here for the duration but may be be issuing dispatches from the front lines of MAGAland on Twitter.

Download: National Anthem (Demo) – Lana Del Rey (mp3)

This is a punchier and better version of the song than the one that ended up on Lana’s debut album.

I Love Your Live Action

I saw the fab Caroline Rose last week which was about the most fun I’ve had with my clothes on in a long time. The show had the same wild energy of her videos and Caroline was as sassy and entertaining a front-person as I’ve seen. She’s also a darn good guitar player and the band were tight as a pair of skinny jeans, cooking up a sound that had me bopping like a happy idiot.

The set list drew almost entirely from her Loner album — one exception being a great cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” — and Caroline introduced every song as “our favourite” which she meant as a joke but I thought was also a fair reflection of how good all the songs on the album are.

I like it when bands make an effort with presentation and even though this was in a tiny, tiny club, the stage was decorated in red roses and stuffed animals, and the band were wearing a mix of Devo-style overalls and retro Adidas gear. Caroline herself came on in a red fur coat carrying a giant strawberry balloon which she tossed into the crowd where it spent the rest of the show bouncing around on our heads.

As usual I was too busy enjoying myself to shoot any video and there aren’t any decent quality ones from the show online, so here’s one from earlier on the same tour.

It seemed sort of fitting with the loopy mood of the evening that at some point a girl in the audience took off her bra and threw it on stage. She was standing next to me and I think she’d had a few too many Zinfandels. Caroline got her up on stage, gave her a hug, and spent the rest of the show wearing the bra over her t-shirt. Kids today, eh?

Seeing Wolf Alice tonight!

New Monday

Hayley Kiyoko is a former teen actress whose Nickleodeon and Disney credits wouldn’t lead you too expect much from her in the way of good music but her debut album Expectations is superb: Sleek and dreamy dancepop that flirts with the late-night, neon-lit atmosphere of early Charli XCX.

Hayley is no dumb puppet either, she co-wrote all the songs and directs her own videos which pointedly have her singing the songs to (and usually making out with) other women because Hayley is that rarity — at least in America — an openly and overtly gay mainstream pop star. Nicknamed “Lesbian Jesus” by fans, she’s become something of an icon and beacon for gay kids.

But I don’t have to qualify it as a great album by a half-Japanese, former-actress lesbian, it’s just a really great album period.

Golden Boy

Very, very sad to hear about the death of Ray Wilkins. When I was a kid he was the second Chelsea player I had idolized after Peter Osgood, and what made us young fans feel especially connected to him was that he was just a kid himself. He became Chelsea’s youngest-ever captain at only 18, and his talent (and pop-star good looks) was one of the few bright spots for the club in the mid-70s when they were struggling to stay in the top flight.

Ray was a silky, elegant midfielder who could pass the ball in a way that could make you sigh at it’s accuracy and vision. He didn’t score a lot of goals but the ones he did were often things of beauty. We were gutted when he was sold to Manchester United, but he was our best asset and the club had dropped into Division Two without a pot to piss in — how things have changed.

My mates and I used to hang around outside Stamford Bridge on Friday afternoons waiting for players to come out so we could get their autographs. A lot of them would drive right past us, but Ray used to leave the stadium on foot (imagine!) and one day I got him to sign my 1975 fixture card which I still have. That was Ray, one of us.

Download: It’s A Shame About Ray – Lemonheads (mp3)