rock star turn.

my friend travis was just speculating that rock stars become rock stars simply so that they can go and get columns in the newspaper (here in london beth gossip is a guardian agony aunt and both alex kapranos and alex “ex-blur” james are so-called food critics for the observer). over in the us of a at the washington city paper, where chickfactor founders pam and gail met and became friends and put together nearly 11 issues of the magazine, they have hired bob mould to answer the public’s questions. ask bob now!

the lodger.

it’s not like slumberland records puts out new records every week! so since they’re releasing the debut LP by leeds act the lodger, we thought it was worthy of a super-newsflash. it’s the kind of timeless pop that mike schulman used to recommend to me when I was a record shopper at vinyl ink records back in the day. download some samples on the slumberland site.

django, rip.


one of my favorite pals from new york city (some of you may know him as the dog who worked at other music) passed away this week. I will miss him.

worlds collide.



tracey, stephin. stephin, tracey.

you cannot really get any more chickfactory than tracey thorn. back when the early ebtg records came out, I think I even wrote her a fan letter. when some of you kids were in nappies, I was watching them at the 930 club in dc (their love not money album helped me through my summer of measles). when I worked at spin, I tried to get a tracey interview, but it wasn’t meant to be (I was not digging their early ’90s style anyway, truth be told). then! when I worked at timeout new york I did finally get to interview ms tracey (she: poolside; me: at my desk in the noisiest, penitentiary-chic office ever, with a failing phone-taping gizmo in my hand), and it was like one of the worst interviews ever. perhaps because it was 15 years after the time when I was a really big fan of her music. tracey has an amazing voice and that will likely never change. the choices that she and ben watt make (drum n bass springs to mind) don’t always make sense to me but sometimes they make sense to other people. the songs that they choose or write are not always up to snuff, if only because those first albums and singles were so damn good (even if my fellow college radio mates made serious fun of me for liking it!). so now, 24 years after her first solo lp, a distant shore, tracey has a new solo album, but you people may be even more interested to hear her magnetic fields covers. she has always been aces at covers (her “night and day” and “femme fatale” trump a lot of others). hey trace, why not just do a whole album of merrittunes? (I am sure there was a 6th-ing attempt way back when anyway…)

photography: stephin merritt by gail o’hara

edith piaf.


my father was a prescient man. he bought me an edith piaf album years before I was smart enough to realize that I was going to be a fan of edith piaf. how did he know? perhaps he knew me better than I knew… he did bring in a lot of those albums that went on to form my wimpy musical taste (roberta flack, barbra streisand, the fifth dimension, don mclean). anyway, it took a while, but now who reading this site does not like mlle edith? (okay, some of you…) the ladies and I went to see the new film la môme at the barbican the other night and what a sad tale! I would not have constructed it in that way if I had been the filmmaker, but it held our interest and made us weep. she sang so hard her eyebrows popped out! she could put some serious lungpower into any room. she looked so damn old at the end and she was only supposed to be 47! hard living lady, she was. anyway, the guardian went and got an interview with ginou richer, the woman who hung out with the little sparrow back in the day, in case you are interested. we are going to try to sing “non, je ne regrette rien” the next time we do karaoke (ah, but we won’t be able to do it as convincingly as she, because we do have regrets!), meanwhile, head to youtube and watch some lovely old footage of the voice of paris.

alone again (or).

I do realize that liking gilbert o’sullivan is painfully uncool, but I do! especially that hit song from 1972 called “alone again (naturally),” which is like my personal theme song, but “clair” is also pretty great. of course actually scraping together the many pounds required to see him live at the barbican is another matter entirely, that is like a week’s worth of prosecco. but I like the idea of going for free, because I have such a large sense of entitlement when it comes to live music! looks like he goes to phil spector’s former hairdresser too! he must be gay, right? I adored gay singer-songwriters in my youth.

festival hall on film.

we have to admit we love the southbank. especially since our pals in saint etienne took over as artists in residence, it’s been an even nicer place to hang out. the st e boys bob and pete, along with their filmmaker pals paul (birdie) kelly and andrew hinton, are finally ready to unveil their new film about the royal festival hall, at the royal festival hall on 29 june, and they’ll be there playing along with it. a few weeks ago we went to southbank’s overture, which kicked off the re-opened rfh building with a weekend of free events for the kids (or the 70-year-olds), and apart from some small complaints (please don’t leave the bright, flickering fluorescent lights on during the performance! please tune the piano! damn it’s hot in here!), it seemed to go down a smash. we cannot report on the southbank’s meltdown, sorry. we wanted to go to melanie, the jesus and mary chain, lost ladies of folk, john barry, iggy, and of course roky (no thanks to pete doherty singing disney songs though), but we were at a funeral when the tickets went on sale. we are just grateful that it isn’t always so crowded as it was that weekend.