mika

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Mika: Life In Cartoon Motion (Universal)

Mika: Life In Cartoon Motion (Universal)

The question which seems to be taxing radio DJs about this Mika -- from the UK, not the Kiwi of the same name -- is whether or not he's gay. The correct answer is, "Who cares?" because this album is just such outrageously good fun -- camp, danceable, singalong, smile-inducing and so on -- that you will be far too busy enjoying it...

Bonde Do Role; With Lasers (Domino) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Bonde Do Role; With Lasers (Domino) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

The little I knew of Bonde do Role on the release of this was this much: they were from southern Brasil. Oh, and this -- they are mountains of eclectic fun. They sounded as if they had thrown some rock guitars, funky beats and hip-hop into a blender and pushed the button which says "random chop". They mashed it all up with some...

David Vandervelde: The Moonstation House Band (PopFrenzy/Rhythmethod)

David Vandervelde: The Moonstation House Band (PopFrenzy/Rhythmethod)

Well, if Noel Gallagher is allowed to wake up and think he's John Lennon, and Mika can channel the pop-tart spirit of Freddie Mercury, then why shouldn't this 22-year old rocker from Chicago be T. Rex for our listening pleasure? To be fair this album does offer a little more than mere retro manoeuvres (but only a little more) -- however if...

Various: Bowiemania (Naive)

Various: Bowiemania (Naive)

Compiled by the French arranger/sound artist Beatrice Ardisson, this wayward collection of people covering Bowie songs is as enjoyable as it is uneven: but even the weaker moments hold considerable appeal. They are hardly household names here (Microsillion, Rhonda Harris, Los Chicros) but some are so engaging you might want to hear more from...

Jimmy Buffett: Live in Anguilla (Mailboat/Rhythmethod)

Jimmy Buffett: Live in Anguilla (Mailboat/Rhythmethod)

I have had dinner and drinks at Jimmy's place a couple of times -- in truth at his franchise restaurants Margaritaville which offer a fish platter so huge I have had to take a photograph of it. Buffett is a businessman/pilot/sailor and singer whose lifestyle is enviable: in his world it is permanently sunny, boatshoes constitute dressing up,...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: MGMT: Oracular Spectacular (Sony/BMG)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: MGMT: Oracular Spectacular (Sony/BMG)

As regular visitors to Elsewhere are aware, not everything posted here is a work of unalloyed genius which will be treasured down many lifetimes. (Although there are however more than a few like that I would hope.) But sometimes albums just come along that you are very glad to have heard and simply enjoy for what they mean to you on some odd...

Jim Noir: Jim Noir (My Dad)

Jim Noir: Jim Noir (My Dad)

Some six months ago the English magazine Q hailed this quirky, poppy and delightfully cheerful album as "the surprise soundtrack of summer 2008" -- which means that for us in the other hemisphere it is now we should be tuning in. Jim Noir (known to his family as Alan Roberts) from near Manchester is far from noir and in fact there...

Dappled Cities: Zounds (Inertia/Border)

Dappled Cities: Zounds (Inertia/Border)

This Sydney-formed band don't lack the grand gesture: this album is chock full of wide screen, sweeping, heroically realised pop-rock noise propelled by massive guitars, strings, the kitchen sink etc. They do however lack consistent and tight songs which might have allowed this to have greater impact (in the manner of Empire of the Sun, Pop...

Owen Pallett: Heartland (Domino)

Owen Pallett: Heartland (Domino)

If you didn't already know anything about Canadian Pallett, from just a couple of tracks here you'd pick him for an arranger more than a singer/songwriter. Here he unloads a container of electronics (strings, keyboards, loops) into his lyrically dense songs. This is an album which can be as oppressive as it impressive. Pallett has done...

Memory Tapes: Seek Magic (Inertia)

Memory Tapes: Seek Magic (Inertia)

This hazy and sometimes hypnotic album is the project of Dayve Hawk out of New Jersey who also works under a number of other names. Memory Tapes is his sweeping, electronica-pop personae and this MT debut hits an unusual ground between the less outre Mika, MGMT and Empire of the Sun at the poppy end, and the more interesting experimental types...

Goldfrapp: Head First (Mute)

Goldfrapp: Head First (Mute)

If Rip Van Winkle had nodded off a few decades ago and was woken by the sound of this album he'd be forgiven for thinking nothing much had changed: on this, the fifth album by Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory, you've got a checklist of electro-pop and Euro-disco which includes Abba, Laura Branigan, Giorgio Moroder, bits of ELO, Eighties...

Samoa: A stranger in paradise (2001)

Samoa: A stranger in paradise (2001)

As a tourist carrying stress into Samoa you notice things by their absence. Ordinary, boring stuff like clocks and timetables, cellphones and power-dressers in black, graffiti and rubbish, and haste and urgency. And surprisingly, New Zealand accents. In 2000 fewer than 7000 New Zealand tourists flew the 3 1/2 hours to Apia, Samoa's...

Holly Miranda: The Magician's Private Library (XL)

Holly Miranda: The Magician's Private Library (XL)

This is effectively the solo debut for New York-based Miranda (there was an album only available at gigs about six years ago) and it doesn't want for aural ambition. Co-produced by David Sitek of TV on the Radio, it rides on strings, electric guitars, mellotrone, horns, organ and much else, and others from TV on the Radio and Antibalas also...

MGMT: Congratulations (Sony)

MGMT: Congratulations (Sony)

Anyone who tuned in for the pop-silly, enthusiastic debut Oracular Spectacular by these guys knew they were smart cookies and going to be around for a while: they seemed the perfect post-modern pop package which drew from all kinds of sources with knowing winks and nods -- and are so knowing and winking this time out that on the cover they say...

Javelin: No Mas (Luaka Bop)

Javelin: No Mas (Luaka Bop)

After internet chatter last year about how cool, kitschy and carefree this now Brooklyn-based duo of George Langford and Tom Van Buskirk (and friends) were for their loose borrowings from all parts of pop history (cheap Farfisa pop, reductive disco, New Wave bubblegum) on their widely circulated demos (Jamz n Jemz), you hoped they would...

The Sleepy Jackson: Personality (EMI)

The Sleepy Jackson: Personality (EMI)

I was surprised that this ambitious neo-psychedelic pop album -- which has been winning huge praise in the UK -- wasn't heftily reviewed here, especially since the visionary behind it (who has drawn comparisons with Brian Wilson) is a former Kiwi now based in Perth, Luke Steele. So let's bring this one to your attention: a lushly produced,...

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