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Worth Yelle-ing about

Forgot that I never got around to writing up about the Yelle concert back in December

I’ll let the videos speak for themselves:

Psychotic warm up band, Putilatex, performing “Mira Una Moderna”

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Yelle’s entrance, “Tristesse / Joie”

 

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Yelle – “Dans Ta Vrai Vie”

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Yelle – “Je Veux Te Voir”

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Yelle – “Ce Jeu”

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Yelle – [dunno what track this is….]

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Yelle – “A Cause Des Garcons (original and TEPR mix)” and “Mon meilleur ami”

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Yelle – Some crazy ass drumming

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Yelle – “Amour du Sol”

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Crazy transgender DJs partying it up big style

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À toute à l’heure, Yelle.

This is a full on musical revolution!

Spotify is a SERIOUS development in the music world.

With a very iTunes-like look this allows you to browse for and play full length songs in incredibly decent quality for free (with the ocassional ad in between – or so I’m told – I still haven’t heard a single ad and I’ve been using it 2 weeks!).  Think of it like searching a youtube for music where you have access to albums, singles, b-sides, compilations…….

The Free version is only available in Sweden, Norway, Finland, the UK, France and Spain. So if you currently are in any of the aforementioned countries you can set it up there. The good thing is that once you have your account set up you can use it globally but you HAVE to start your account while on the soil of one of the aforementioned countries. It’s on an invite only basis at the moment and lucky for you guys, I have 4 invites to give away!

First 4 people to comment the page get them!

It’s time….

There is no better song to sum up my feelings right now. Let the Christmas festivities begin:

Hellooooooooo Europe

Spain’s a ridiculously diverse country.  I feel I can say that completely unqualified given the travelling I’ve done over the past weekend.  From the famous-beach filled south to the desert landscapes of central Spain to the lush green, snow-capped, Lord-of-The-Rings-worthy scenery of the North, this weekend has made me realize, amongst other things, that Spain has way more to capitalize on in terms of tourism than just the Costa del Sol.

 

What really blew me away this weekend, however, was my travel destination itself.  If, living back at home, a friend had suggested to me to take a weekend trip to Bilbao, I wouldn’t have necessarily ruled it out instantaneously but I would have definitely looked into other potential travel suggestions for the aforementioned theoretical weekend.  Now, having been to Bilbao, if a friend suggested to me to take a weekend trip there, I’d have the Ryanair flights booked quicker than you could tell me “Be careful of the hidden charges”.

 

As Hughie, my host and tour guide for the weekend, put it, it’s by far one of the most European cities in Spain.  One look at the photo below and you’ll see it’s just like any European cosmopolitan hot spot.

 

Bilbao city view

 

When compared to Madrid, Bilbao has a greater flair for architecture (case and point: the Guggenheim), international-franchise-filled Temples to Consumerism (a.k.a. shopping malls), multi screen cinemas and an intangible air about the people that puts them far more into the European category than the Spanish category.  Perhaps it’s all the result of the Basque desire for independence that’s resulted in them distancing themselves from Spanish traditions even if that does mean they become more generically European.  Enough about the political malark though…

 

 

Thursday night

 

Hughie, accompanied by the lovely Sarah, picked me up from the bus station shortly after my arrival and brought me back to chez Hughie.  After the guided tour of the apartment I was left in a somewhat jaw-to-floor manner.  Never had I seen such a nicely-furnished, 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom, Erasmus-student-hosting Spanish apartment before this day.  The rent, however, offered some explanation as to how one could attain such high standards of accommodation. At 60% higher than what I pay in Granada my jaw now needed to be surgically removed from the floor.

 

 

Friday

 

After a successful Thursday night in one of Bilbao’s less-than-formidable clubs (in Hughie’s opinion – I on the other hand thoroughly enjoyed the generously sized drinks), Friday morning played host to a familiar friend, Mr. Hangover.  Having spent most of the day in a minimally moving state, I was recharged and refreshed ready to greet Niamh when she arrived that evening.  After giving her a chance to settle in, the three of us embarked on a walk by the river where we recounted our trials and tribulations and made various validations of the phrase that now ought to be trademarked, “Erasmus is SOOOO hard”.

 

Having worked up a healthy appetite and after numerous enthusiastic reviews from Hughie, we set our sights on a nearby Chinese/Japanese restaurant, now accompanied once again by Sarah.  Excited as I was about the “amazing prawns” that Hughie sung the praises of, there was one word that pushed me over the edge.  That word was buffet.  Kid in a candy store would have been an understatement.  I stood surrounded by prawns and crab, chicken and duck, rice and noodles, sushi and spring rolls, thick batters and thin batters, fried and steamed, sauce-drenched and dry, and most impressively, raw and cooked.  At the back of the room, a large gap in the wall opened into a cooking area, wherein two chefs seemed to be breathing a mixture of flames and steam.  After taking a selection of whatever fish, meat or vegetables you desired from the abundant counter in front of them, you handed your plate to one of the chefs, choosing from a selection of 6 sauces, and within mere moments a stir fry custom designed to your individual taste lay before you.  In spite of my appetite beforehand, which I was convinced would not be satisfied before the 6th plate, I admitted defeat moments before finishing off the 3rd.

 

Satisfied and sated, we returned to Hughie’s house for the 2008 Anglo-parlante Spanish Charades championships.  Hughie and Sarah were battling it out against Niamh and me.  Hands were flying; words were suppressed and ridiculous guesses were made in order to guess such titles as “That 70’s Show”, “The Fugitive”, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” and “Entourage”.  Niamh and I were declared the outright winners and, in pure celebratory fashion, rejoiced our victory by a good night’s sleep.

 

 

Saturday

 

Another day and, thanks to the light blocking shutter-blinds, another ridiculous lie-in.  Driven by hunger to leave the house and after making a credit card booking to plan the night ahead, we set out for feeds in the nearby shopping centre before a cultural stop-off in the Guggenheim.  As stunning inside as it is outside, the gallery hosts some stunning pieces which I would have loved to have photographed for the blog but strict no photography rules render this impossible.

 

With the time having just passed 8 o’clock and still having not had the chance to print out the aforementioned credit card booked tickets, stress levels were peaking.  Furthermore, panic was not aided by my uncertainty as to whether the gig was starting at 9 or 10.  Finding an internet café in the nick of time, the tickets were printed and a low nutrient packed Burger King dinner was consumed before we zipped home to speedily get ready for the Yelle-tastic night that lay ahead.

 

Having taken the metro to the stop we were told, we got off only to be greeted by Sandyford Industrial Estate’s deformed younger brother who’s kept locked in the basement.  This place looked creepy.  In the sense of “I’ve walked onto the set of a slasher movie” creepy.  Empty, quiet streets.  Huge factories with smashed out windows.  Shadows appearing from every angle thanks to the occasionally flickering yellow street lamps.

Yelle needs a blog post of her own and that will follow soon.

 

 

Sunday

 

Thank god we didn’t have big plans for Sunday because once again half the day was spent sleeping thanks to the shutters.  The running order of Sunday’s events could be summarized to food, walk, food, cinema, food; with Zubiarte playing host to all of the aforementioned food stops.

 

After our first bite to eat, we made our way to the centre to check out if there was anywhere open to do a spot of Christmas shopping.  It being Sunday and it being Spain, however means:

Having witnessed the Christmas lights and festiveness of the city, we returned to Zubiarte for a quick bite before hitting up the cinema.  As is always the way at Christmas time, kids’ movies rule the roost that is the cinema timetable.  Within our limited choices, we all agreed on Bolt, Disney’s new CGI endeavour.  Being the land of the dubbed movie, it’s always easier to go for the movie with the simple plot than to leave yourself head-scratching.  That said, I did enjoy the digital presentation of Max Payne that I went along to a couple of weeks back but given tiredness levels and the choices available, Disney was the sensible option in this instance.

 

Sadly it lacked the punch of most Disney Pixar movies and with an overall more serious tone, comic relief being provided almost exclusively by the hamster in a ball, this won’t be held in the same prestige as classics such as “Toy Story”, “Finding Nemo” or “The Incredibles”.  Basic “exactly what it says on the tin” entertainment nevertheless.

 

Returning back to the apartment after another McDonald’s stop off, the night was still young so we decided to watch another movie.  Choosing from the selection I had on the laptop, we went for “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead”, a dark, gritty, British revenge story about a man avenging his brother’s death.  Although a bit slow to really get moving, it gradually becomes more and more tense, pulling in the viewer only to abruptly end in a manner that may have intended to be full of mystery but comes across as rushed and unfinished, strongly exemplified by the introduction of an underdeveloped, almost superfluous, character in the closing minutes of the film.

 

Tiredness caught up on us again and the prospect of an 8am start was all the motivation I needed to get some sleep at that point.

 

 

Monday

 

The alarm rang and after a quick shower and a speedy job of packing my things up I set off on my journey back down South.  Accompanied by Niamh and Hughie to the bus station, I bid my farewells before getting on board the Bilbao to Madrid “supra” bus.  Given that that means nothing to the majority of you who are reading this, I should clarify why this is so special.  When booking my trip, I had 2 options for the return journey – one where I left at 8:30am, had a half hour to transfer in Madrid and arrive into Granada at around 8:30pm or pay an additional €13, get a “supra” bus to Madrid from Bilbao, have an hour and a half to transfer and arrive into Granada at the same time.  Given I was already paying at least €80 on the journey and few buses I’ve taken in my time here have arrived in exactly on schedule, I thought it more sensible to go for the second option.

 

I’m converted.  THIS is how travel should be.  I was greeted onto the bus by a woman who I would soon discover would be the on-board travel attendant as opposed to the usual greeting of a grumpy bus driver bitching at me for booking my tickets online and not having a physical copy of my ticket as he puffs on a cigarette.  With single seat rows running behind the driver’s side and pairs of seats running on the opposite side, all with ample leg room, I made my way down to seat number 23, a seat I made sure to secure on the online booking when I discovered that beneath lay a plug socket to charge your laptop during the journey.  Moments after I had sat myself down, the travel attendant made 2 trips up and down the aisle; once in order to dispense a free set of earphones to each passenger to enjoy the in-journey movies that would be shown on the TV panels around the bus and again to give out coffee-flavoured hard candy.  Soon after, I noticed a sign to my right bearing the phrase “ESTE AUTOCAR DISPONE DE SISTEMA WIFI PARA CONEXION GRATUIRA A INTERNET” which for the Anglophones means “This bus has free Wi-Fi to connect to the internet”.  Whilst this promise held true for the first half hour of the journey before packing in and the familiar “Server not found” page appeared, my opinion was not marred once the announcement came over the speakers that breakfast was about to be served.  Consisting of a pastry and a wide choice of beverages I was satisfied my stomach grumbling had been silenced and sat back to get writing over the next 3 hours of the journey.

 

It was around noon that another announcement came over the speakers stating that lunch was about to be served.  Lunch?  As in a second meal?  They could not be serious.  OK Trans-Atlantic flight it makes sense to dish up a second serving before landing but a 4 hour bus journey?  Screw it!  I’m not gonna complain!  This time each passenger was given a ham and cheese bread roll, drink of their choice and a chocolate truffle.  Cordon bleu it may not have been but it was easily as good as anything you would’ve got from a roadside stop off without adding a minute to the journey time.

Baby got (come)back

The past weekend heralded the international release of the most eagerly anticipated album of the year and what better day to post my review of it than the birthday of “our very own pop princess, now queen of pop” (Madonna gon’ be pissssssed about that one), Britney Spears.

(imagine the following being screamed in a Gerard Butler in “300” manner)

This

Is

CIRCUS!!!!!!!

circus-cover

Our lil Miss Spears had a lot to live up to with this album. Her highly successful last effort, “Blackout” (which spawned international hits including “Gimme More”, “Piece Of Me”, “Break The Ice” and non-single but heavily radio-rotated, “Radar”), left the public with high expectations for ‘the big comeback album’, as this was being heralded. Personally, I find it odd that this is being referred to as a comeback given BritBrit hadn’t released a studio album between 2003 and 2007 (not counting “B In The Mix: The Remixes” or “Greatest Hits: My Prerogative) and whilst she may not have gone on tour with Blackout a mere 13 months seperate the release date between that and “Circus”.

Anyway, here is my track by track summary of the album:

1.
Womanizer

Having first heard this track back at the end of September and with it currently standing 6th place on my Top 100 Most Played playlist on iTunes (relevant given I have over 13,000 tracks on my iTunes and it takes a lot to get into the T100), I still adore this track. Although it arguably sounds like a mash-up of her previous album’s tracks Radar and Ooh Ooh Baby, this marks Britney’s return to playful cheeky pop.

Rating: 10/10

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2.
Circus

The second single and easily one of Britney’s best music videos.  Kinda reminds me of Rihanna’s “Breaking Dishes”.

Rating: 10/10

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3.
Out From Under

Surprisingly enough this track is a cover version of a track that appeared on the Bratz soundtrack album with the original being sung by a girl who goes by the name of Joanna Pacitti.  Once this little tid bit had been announced I got downloading and found Joanna’s original rendition.  I gott say I prefer the original to the Britney rendition.  Produced by Guy Sigsworth (“Everytime”) it’s another track with the same generic signature sound effects.  The excessive beats in the background distract from the vocals unlike the original where the vocals are kept at a much higher level than the beats.  Shame given it is a really nice song and if the cover had stuck true to the original it could’ve turned out even better.

Rating: 8.5/10

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4.
Kill The Lights

The first track to leak from the album after “Womanizer” this could easily be named “Piece Of Me, Part 2”. Dealing with Britney’s ever turbulent realtionship with the paps she’s showing her claws and showing a fiercer, feistier side than in “Piece Of Me”. I gotta say the post-chorus (i.e. the “Pure, Satis, Faction” bit) reminds me so much of Madonna’s rap in “Vogue”. And any of you who heard the track “Mona Lisa” which was due to appear on the cancelled Britney album “The Original Doll” are bound to agree with me that the choir element in both songs bears a striking resemblance. Hopefully this’ll appear as a single after “Out From Under”.

Rating: 10/10

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5.
Shattered Glass

Bouncy bass line and dramatic moments. Glitchy voice effects and very “I’m over K-Fed” lyrics.  I don’t see this as a single release but I’d say some awesome remixes could be made of it.

Rating: 8/10

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6.
If U Seek Amy

Max Martin, you’ve done it again, old chap. Producer of such Britney classics as “…Baby One More Time”, “(You Drive Me) Crazy” (and the Stop! remix), “Overprotected”, “I’m Not A Girl Not Yet A Woman”, “Oops!… I Did It Again”, “Stronger” and “Lucky” as well as a string of others, he’s worked with B again to churn out one of the most memorable tracks on the album. Any guesses what the title might mean? Any confusion will be dispelled once you hear the chorus.

Rating: 10/10

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7.
Ununsual You

A personal fave.  Very reminiscent of the Junkie XL produced “And Then We Kiss” from B In The Mix – The Remixes.  Was actually quite surprised to discover that this wasn’t a JXL production but the work of old reliables, Bloodshy and Avant.

Rating: 10/10

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8.
Blur

This one sounds like a more sexualized sequel to In The Zone’s “Early Morning”.   Lyrically perhaps not Britney’s best move if she wants to maintain custody of the kids:

Can’t remember what I did last night,
Maybe I shouldn’t have given in,
But I just couldn’t fight.
Hope I didn’t but I think I might’ve,
Everything, everything is still a blur.

Rating: 7.5/10

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9.
Mmm Papi

[review coming soon]

Rating: 6/10

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10.
Mannequin

The track that caused a buzz on the internet when the dance rehearsal video was leaked online (rumoured at the time to be her 2008 VMA performance which never happened).  I’ll be honest it sounds good and if it doesn’t make the soundtrack of Step Up 3D (yes it’s actually happening) I’ll be surprised, but it sounded better in the rehearsal video.  The male voice in the background of the chorus going “eeeeeEEEEEEEE” gets very annoying.

Rating: 9/10

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11.
Lace and Leather

A twangy bass guitar drives some rather heavily vocoded lyrics in one of Britney’s funkiest songs to date. 

Rating: 10/10

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12.
My Baby

For God’s sakes Britney you’re not Justin Timberlake – singing that high does not work for you. The equally high-pitched pianos/guitars don’t help either. Yeah I get it it’s so nice you’re singing a song about your kids who you love so much but this is Hallmark-card manufactured in Disneyland and drowned in sugar sickeningly sweet.

Rating: 5/10

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13.
Radar
(Circus mix)

The appearance of this track on “Circus” is purely the result of a contractual obligation as the producers had been promised it would be released as a single from “Blackout”. The key’s been dropped to make Britney’s voice sound less digitised, the intro has been mildly modified and the instrumentation has been f’d around with to make the backing track sound very sloppy and almost of demo like quality. Even on the highest quality download I could find of this track it sounds very fuzzy. A definite disimprovement on the version that appeared on Blackout

Rating: 5/10

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14.
Rock Me In
(European & Deluxe Edition bonus track)

With production credits on this one going to Greg Kurstin (Kylie’s “Wow”, “No More Rain” and the fantastic remix of “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” she performed on the X2008 tour) and Nicole Morier (of the band Electrocute and co-writer of the fantastic “Heaven On Earth” on Blackout), this one oozes with pop/rock juiciness. Vaguely reminiscent of Electrocute’s own track “On The Beat”, it’s hard not to head bop to the chorus when listening to this one. Easiest way to describe this one would be 60’s surf music with an ULTRA modern twist.

Rating: 9/10

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15.
Phonography
(European, Deluxe Edition & Britney.com bonus track)

Easily my favourite song on the album. Produced by my faves, Bloodshy & Avant, this track reminds me of the Kylie tracks “Cherry Bomb” and “Speakerphone” (unsurprisingly also produced by the aforementioned B&A). Disgrace that this isn’t included in every release of the album but due to potentially controversial lyrics I can’t see this having ever been a single. Rock out to it in my bedroom I shall.

Rating: 11/10

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16.
Trouble
(iTunes Pre-order bonus track)

When I heard that there was a bonus track called “Trouble” I got very excited. Thing is there’s reports all over the internet that Britney recorded a cover of Elvis Presely’s track, “Trouble”, which the public got to witness a glimpse of at the beginning of the Voldemort of Britney performances that is the VMAs 2007. Adding flame to the fire, shortly after that a studio edit of the live performance (i.e. a studio recording of the track arranged as the artist performs it live) leaked online. Thus when I saw that there was gonna be a track called “Trouble” on Circus I jumped to assumptions. Unfortunately this wasn’t the track I thought it was.

Back to the actual track though. Being the Bloodshy and Avant addict that I am I feel somewhat obligated to love this one but it’s lacking something. Took a few listens for it to grow on me. Sounds like a track Kylie would drop as a b-side. Good but never destined to be more than an album track or, in this case, a bonus.

Rating: 7/10

P.S. I also recommend the Trouble/Get Together Madonna and Britney mashup that just appeared online

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17.
Amnesia
(Japanese, UK & Britney.com bonus track)

My first reaction to this track was “Gwen Stefani much?”. Definitely not in a bad way though. Starts with a spooky echo effect before she cranks into an anthemic chorus with an 80’s-esque backing track. Brit’s video for “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” comes into my mind when I hear this track but I picture much more 80’s-ness. And Pat Benatar.

Rating: 8.5/10

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18.
Quicksand
(European iTunes bonus track)

The only track featuring Lady GaGa’s touch to make it to the album. Fingers crossed the other one will leak it’s way to the blogosphere some day. Not holding my breath for that one though. This track is a fairly different sound for Britney and while she touches on Lady GaGa’s style it’s not something I could imagine La GaGa ever singing.

Rating: 8.5/10

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19.
Rock Boy
(German bonus track)

Never thought I’d hear Danja produce such a rock heavy track but it works surprisingly well. It’s basically I Love Rock and Roll for the year 2008. 

Rating: 9/10

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Overall score:

85%

So it looks like Britney scraped an A-. She’s clearly been doing a lot of work recently in between all the shit that’s been going in her personal life. Is there anything we can learn from this? For one, this album is an indicator that she’s returning back to her roots. “Circus” once again proves Britney can take a stab at a variety of genres and come out successful, something we didn’t see in the dance-dominated “Blackout”. Whilst perhaps not her greatest album to date it is definitely a sign of great things to come.

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And it’s over to you now. Personal opinion as to the best track on Circus?

A good charity single?? It can’t be!

Coldplay and Kylie Minogue.

Two names that I never thought I’d see together on the artist listing in my iTunes (unless maybe it was a mash-up).

Together they’ve come up with this track, Luhna, with the proceeds going towards (Product) Red. Sounds like a mix of a Bond theme, John Murphy’s “In The House – In A Heartbeat” from the 28 Days Later OST and Kylie’s Nick Cave collab “Where The Wild Roses Grow”.

 

 

preview

(Product) Red states that its main principles are:

 

  • To expand opportunities for the people of Africa
  • To respect its employees and ask its partners to do the same with their employees and the people who help make their products or deliver their services
  • To promote HIV/AIDS workplace policies and practices
  • To see the power of a community mobilized for hope, health and progress
  • To ask its partners to uphold the same principles

 

 

The site below also hosts new tracks from U2, a Jay-Z/Santogold collab, Sheryl Crow, Death Cab, an Elton John/Killers/Neil Tennant collab, John Legend and another collab from The Police/Elvis Costello as well as many others.

 

More info available here: http://red.msn.com/