Friday, 24 February 2012

This Week's Top 5 Songs

Just a quick let-you-know...

Erasure - Stay With Me

I kept completely dismissing this band all my life until I got their best of yesterday and this song really surprised me. It actually sounds a lot like Yazoo (which makes perfect sense, of course). Just sublime. Electro pop at its best.

Haley Reinhart - Free

Can't wait for the album. This is a great song, have had it stuck in my head since the first videos of her performing it resurfaced earlier this week. Hope the studio version of it is good, and not too polished.

Blur - Tender

Since Blur got their lifetime achievement award (I'm pretty sure it's called something else) Brit award this week and divided the British public with their performance, I listened to more Blur stuff than usual. This really is a great song, isn't it. I'm not necessarily a huge fan of Damon Albarn as a lyricist but the lyrics to this song seem to go right from the heart. Overall, quite an anthem.

Graham Coxon - I Wish

But who I really ended up listening to after the whole Brits Blur hullabaloo was solo Graham. This guy is every bit as talented as Damon Albarn but sadly completely underrated because unlike Damon he doesn't have a gift for making all stuff sound like smart pop and though he's obviously a punk-rocker he's just way too quiet to ever make a proper loud-mouthed rocker idiot everyone pays attention to.
He's written some great catchy songs with amazing guitar bits in it (Right to Pop!, Freakin' Out, You & I...) but I decided to choose I Wish from Graham's first solo album for this blog entry. It's hypnotic, the electric guitar part is the predecessor of that of Coffee & TV and the lyrics are somewhat tragicomic, and go to the core. For some they might be a wee bit too adolescent but hey, not my problem!

I wish a constant stream of happy shit
Live forever in world of leather
I wish the rain would just leave me alone
I can't wear that stupid rain hat

Pet Shop Boys - After The Event

Currently featured on their collection of b-sides called Format, this for me is one of the best songs they've ever done. I think it's the "come on come on"s that really get me. Plus, as usual, Neil's lyrics are brilliant.

Typical day
Cars being towed away
Junk mail through the door
joins the post on the floor
always someone drilling
somewhere in the city
authorised by committee
Permission is bestowed
according to postal code
Terms and conditions may vary
It's nothing out of the ordinary

Sunday, 5 February 2012

An Introduction to Othon Mataragas

I was just looking at my blog and was astonished how little it reflects me. I keep writing about pop. It's so easy to write about it, to criticise it, to have an opinion. But while I do like pop music, it's by far not the only kind of music I listen to. There's so much more I love, probably even more passionately than the few entries here would show. So, from now on I'll try to keep this blog a bit more balanced. And here's the first step.

Let me introduce you to a Greek, London-based composer, songwriter and pianist Othon. I suppose he's as un-pop as you can get but I would be lying it wasn't the melodic, pop aspects of his music which initially drew me to him. I discovered Othon thanks to my subscription to Cherry Red Records newsletter - which in turn I discovered because it's the label home to one of my favourite artists ever - Marc Almond. Marc has also become a collaborator of Othon's in the past few years but for some reason I hadn't really noticed Othon until Cherry Records sent me an e-mail about his newest album - Impermanence.

I suppose I could blab about some similarities between the work of Antony and the Johnsons or Rufus Wainwright, who are piano-playing & pretty queer but also well known, I could compare Othon to Baby Dee who you'll probably only know if you're really on the queer side (queer meaning different, not necessarily LGBTQueer) or a harcore Marc Almond fan...but the truth is Othon Mataragas is not quite comparable to any of them. If I write his music is part classical, part pop, part opera (esp. thanks to his permanent collaborator, singer Ernesto Tomasini, see below pic), part cabaret and part film soundtrack you'd go: oh, I've heard that combo before but unless you have actually heard Othon's work, you have no idea.

Perhaps even I have no idea. I'm 100% sure I intellectually only get about 10% of what Othon is about (he calls his style PAN muzik), but I just connect to something in his music on probably a whole different level.

I'm not gonna attempt to get into any pseudo-bullshit analysis I'm just writing this entry to let you know that if you like your music a bit different and your artists truly original, Othon might be your favourite new artist you've never heard of.

Two very interesting recent interviews with Othon:

Othon's website:
Othon's Facebook:
Othon's Twitter:!/OthonMataragas