I've Heard This One Before

Of course, as a stalwart Morrissey fan, I bought Years of Refusal on its first week of release. Was I as excited about it as much as previous releases? No.

The fact that "That's How People Grow Up" and "All You Need Is Me" were tacked on less than a year after I purchased them on the confusing Greatest Hits makes no sense to me. Why oh why were they put on a new album?

With every Morrissey album, despite what non-fans will say, there are new things to learn about The Man. Unfortunately, I don't think I've learned anything new about Morrissey on Years of Refusal.

That is not to say I don't enjoy the album. Years of Refusal is a piece of fresh air compared to the intensely reflective, dark and meandering Ringleader of the Tormentors.

It's musically upbeat with "subtle Mexican sounds" and I'm finding the melodies linger on in the way great pop music is supposed to. My favorite tracks are the rocking "Black Cloud" and the dramatic "One Day Goodbye will be Farewell."

I wasn't a fan of lead single "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris," but I find myself humming it all week, so I suppose it does grab you when you least expect it.

Years of Refusal does have a stinker. "You Were Good In Your Time" sounds musically like "Ambitious Outsiders" on Maladjusted, and except for real strings, it sounds pretty dull and has the unfortunate title of being "the song I forget is on Years of Refusal" until it comes on.

The bizarre thing about Years of Refusal is that its rockier moments remind me of the sensitive arena rock that the band Gene was criticized for.

This might be the album Gene fans would love (and every Gene fan was a fan of Queen or The Smiths), but I'm not quite sure what that tells you about Morrissey.


The Beat That Echoes

Isn't it strange when you hear a song you're familiar with in a different context? This happened today as I was passing through the 34th St/Herald Square subway station.

A group of dancers was putting on a show and I was convinced that I knew the song they were dancing to. At first I heard the beat and thought, "Oh, they're dancing to Madonna's "Music." What a strange choice for street dancing on a Sunday afternoon." (Note: it was impossible to find the "Music" video on YouTube since "Madonna Music" or "Madonna Music Video" provided endless results. This is the best I could do).

But then I realized I was wrong when the funky high-pitched synths didn't kick in. "Oh! They must be dancing to Daft Punk's "Da Funk." That makes more sense."

But then I realized "wait a second. It's The Rapture's "Killing"!"

And finally I was right. I remember when Echoes had a major impact on my appreciation for both indie and pop music. For many people in 2003, The Rapture made it OK to dance.

Unfortunately, I never made it to Pieces of People We Love, but maybe I will soon. I'm feeling slightly nostalgic for that dance punk period when Gang of Four was the newest oldest band everyone had just discovered.


Little Boots Live at Studio B

Photo by nickgraywfu.

After watching last night's Little Boots performance at Studio B in Brooklyn, it's pretty clear that Victoria Hesketh has no qualms about being a dance pop superstar.

At her first "real" NYC performance (I believe she played a CMJ showcase last year), she and her tight band were upbeat, cute and delivered one punchy dance track after another.

My interest in Little Boots comes entirely off the basis of two tracks: "Stuck On Repeat" and "Meddle." I don't even think I had heard the original version of "Meddle" until last night -- the remix by Designer Drugs is my signature version.

A lot of people compare Victoria to Kylie Minogue. Last night, she wore a black dress with a draping hood, much like Kylie's white dress in the "Can't Get You Out of My Head" video (without the plunging body line).

Little Boots doesn't have an album's work of tracks yet, so the set was short (about 6 or 7 songs, each around 3 minutes). I loved "Mathematics," which you can hear on her MySpace page.

She was very chatty with the audience, talking about her hometown Blackpool, describing one song as "an R&B ballad .. like Beyonce .. like 'Irreplaceable'" which sounded nothing like either, and getting the early morning crowd to move their feet.

Even though her set list was short, it was incredibly satisfying, which makes waiting for a full album release much easier. Take your time, girl.

Little Boots is doing everything right for fans: she regularlly updates her blog, adds impromptu video performances on YouTube, creates interesting mixtapes and sends newsletters from her mailing list that aren't annoying pieces of spam.

I'm very much looking forward to a full album's worth of Little Boots tracks.