bonfires on the heath.


the photo here of the clientele (in their natural habitat: a crumbling and ancient drinking establishment) is from 2005 and it is not supposed to look like that. the normal version doesn’t have this psychedelic sheen but I figured, hey, it’s the clientele, at that old pub near chancery lane — what’s it called guys? anyway. it’s no secret that the clientele are one of our fave bands ever here at cf, ever since we discovered them in 1999. we’re really looking forward to their new album titled bonfires on the heath (read the merge blog here) and we’re also hoping that this is the one album that makes the whole united kingdom sit up and take notice that they have this awesomest of all bands living in their midst, instead of bleddy ignoring them and praising instead idjits like lady gaga, keane and other tedious musical fare.

photograph: gail o’hara, london, 2005

gossip girl fashions.


it’s funny, but the one time I ran into beth ditto in london (apart from seeing the gossip at the spitz once), was at one of the H&M stores on oxford street. now you have to be a certain type of celeb in the uk to get your own high-street fashion line: lily allen. kate moss. and now beth ditto, the singer from the gossip, will soon launch her own fashion line for plus-size shop evans, and if that’s not enough, here’s a beth ditto doll. now that she’s palsy-walsy with karl lagerfeld and kate moss, even vogue is on the gossip coverage wagon. our pal carrie blogstein also recently wrote on her monitor mix about the super-size ditto and the silly coverage in the british press she gets. we’re looking forward to hearing the new album and wondering if they can bring some of that star power to the usa.

ica stuff.


oh, the ica in london. it brings back memories of films on tiny, terrible movie screens. mob-scene art openings. wacky rock shows in that cold, dull venue. delicious food in the caff on a very hungover day. hipsters aplenty. and the tiny shop that I noticed has these cutesy david shrigley salt and pep shakers for sale — why not surprise a pair of nearly newlyweds by deviating from their gift registry list and giving them these? of course there’s nothing funny about heroin and cocaine, but aren’t these cute? we also kind of want a war on terror board game though the idea itself is probably more amusing than the actual game.

declan patrick macmanus.


dear darling elvis. we are glad to see you are doing well. we haven’t heard your new album yet but it sounds like it’s going to be twangy and glorious (it is streaming on his site…). we can see that you are sporting a moustache, just a moustache, and no specs in this portrait. you really can’t do wrong by us (apart from marrying the yuppie jazz singer diana krall, ugh; did you have to have twins with her!? at least she’s not on your new album, right?) but do…please…shave. or at the very least give yourself an all-over-stubble appearance — that would suit you and has suited you in the past. if your new yuppie bride is giving you style advice, it’s probably selfishly to keep other ladies away. anyway, we have nothing against facial hair in general; god knows a great many of our pals are sporting beards, staches, adorable stubble or some variation of all three and that’s fine. but this solitary line isn’t working, dear sir. (and feel free to wear specs — nothing wrong with those!)

send me a postcard.


we at chickfactor are what one might call throwbacks. one thing we preferred about yesteryear is the act of mailing things and getting wonderful things in the mail. you can ask my friends — I still send postcards. in a world full of fleeting tweets, tossed off one-line emails and junk-mail catalogs filled with things you’d never want, a postcard is a reminder of all that is good. the gang at mcsweeneys have created a package of them called greetings from the ocean’s sweaty face (one postcard pictured above) featuring some ace artists such as chris ware. we think it’s a heck of a recession-friendly deal: $18 for 100 postcards.

library pop.


I just saw camera obscura in portland, oregon, and I wish I’d gone backstage before the show to pop open the champagne and tickle them all silly. they sounded just dandy, but man, they all looked as if their pets had just passed away. bored. joyless. going thru the motions. really just not into it. too bad, they’re so close to being so good. but you gotta give us more than that! (the photo above indicates they are going for a very serious, melancholy image, but a little energy can go a long way onstage…) meanwhile, this article from the stranger looks at librarians in pop. name some more songs about libraries, librarians and so on (leave B&S and TMFs out of it)?

all grrrls now.

I guess there could be odder couplings than le tigre + christina aguilera — can you think of any? not a xtina fan myself but it seems to be commonly believed that she can sing. I’ll be curious to hear what kind of goldfrappian or ladytronic influences might be heard as well, if indeed I ever hear this forthcoming record, which is slightly unlikely in this day and age. riot grrrl, if you can even call it that in 2009, has been overground since 1991 when it broke in newsweek, right? and what year did *roseanne* play bikini kill on her tv show? has this silliness even been corroborated? does the guardian check facts? I thought in the UK media they choose to just wait to get sued if they are wrong.

our noise. merge book.


the new book our noise: the story of merge records will be available in july at xx merge fest in carrboro, NC, but officially will be published sept 15, 2009 on algonquin books. written by john cook (who has written for gawker, radar and the chicago tribune), it is a collaboration with awesome merge heads mac mccaughan and laura ballance, who tell the superchunk story along with merge’s. three gail o’hara photos of the magnetic fields are due to appear in it as well, along with lots of other fun stuff (there is a pencil sketch of the get lost cover, so I am kind of in the book), along with a number of photos of venue marquees on which the magnetic fields’ name is misspelled (usually the magnetic feilds). that seems to happen a lot — maybe just to annoy the meticulous mr. merritt! anyway, more on this book once we’ve read it…