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13
Jul 18

Pop World Cup 2018 – Group C Match 1

FT + New York London Paris Munich/8 comments • 391 views

What if a World Cup lasted ALL YEAR? That’s the experiment we appear to be running with this year’s PWC, and a grand experiment it is too. Here we are with the fourth match, group C, which even features a team that is STILL IN the football tournament. France are one of the great exponents of the modern pop game, but Denmark have form too, and Peru and Australia are tantalising prospects. Listen to all four tracks below the cut, and vote for your favourite two.

Pop World Cup 2018 Group C Match 1: Pick TWO tracks

  • AUSTRALIA: Ngaiire 74%
  • DENMARK: Soleima 47%
  • PERU: Animal Chuki 37%
  • FRANCE: Keep Dancing Inc. 32%

Total Voters: 38

Poll closes: 19 Jul 2018 @ 12:04

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FRANCE (Manager: Sam Walton): Keep Dancing Inc. – “Life Goes On”

“Paris’ Keep Dancing Inc lead their country out for their first match with the kind of classically French, vintage but super-technical short-passing build-up play that will mesmerise fans, opposition and neutrals. Drawing from the proud traditions of French pop’s recent past, Life Goes On blends just the right levels of sleepiness, wobble and melancholy, with two deep-lying forwards in the form of shimmering guitar chords and rich arpeggiated synths supporting a central striker vocal full of youth, confidence and (of course) insouciance. It may appear to be an unassuming start, but like the great France performances of previous international tournaments, Life Goes On just keeps building, self-assured in its own class and irresistibility. Peruvian, Aussie and Danish defences should be very wary indeed, Clive.”

PERU: (Manager: Garry McK): Animal Chuki – “La Venenosa”)

“Peru’s squad contains mastery of the full range of international tactics, but we’ve decided to open our tournament in a very modern Peruvian style. Animal Chuki were forged in Lima’s digital cumbia/tropical bass scene with strength at the back, relentlessness in middle and a skittish front line. We’re hope to harry our opposition all the way.”

AUSTRALIA: (Manager: James Errington): Ngaiire – “Diggin'”

“Far away from the oversaturated scenes of American and Eurasian pop football, Australia have spent the last four years quietly honing a team of gifted, polished players. Wisely, they’ve adopted the tactics of the All-Blacks and started looking to the wider area for talent. Ngaiire was born in Papua New Guinea, but moved to Australia as a child. Her music has been labelled “future soul” – but the futuristic elements are kept low key, tightly wound percussion and nervous synth stabs, while the soul is bared, often painfully so. Diggin’ is “a song about being found before you find yourself in a permanent state of no return.” and in a just world it would have been her worldwide breakthrough. Maybe it can be now.”

DENMARK: (Manager: Jack B): Soleima ft Hoodboi – “Breathe”

“‘Breathe’ is a slick, slyly addictive pop song, and Soleima’s understated, slightly wry delivery is perfect for it. ‘I wanna daydream with you, just so we can breathe’ goes the chorus, which as far as I can tell means what the Danish apparently call ikke noget, but is just lazy enough (in a good way) to fit the atmosphere of the song very nicely. It’s cold enough to sound cool, but warm enough to sound summery, and (more importantly) to sound good on a taxi radio at night, the best possible place to listen to this type of song. Even if this isn’t your cup of £6 Carlsberg now, I suspect that this is exactly the kind of sound that in a few years will make you feel oddly nostalgic for the mid to late 2010s, even if you’re not quite sure why. This is my Denmark team’s Claude Makelele figure, doing more than you think.”

RESULTS: Over in Group F, South Korea make a confident start to the tournament – not their most dominant performance but it’s still 3 points in the bag. Behind them in the Group of Death, Sweden slip up and lose second place to a stylish Mexico side. Germany’s tactics have been found out and they may be heading for the same ignominous exit their footballing counterparts suffered unless they can rally in the second game.

4
Jul 18

Pop World Cup 2018 Group F Match 1

New York London Paris Munich/15 comments • 481 views

An intriguing group for this third Pop World Cup match, with two of the sleeping giants of pop football – Sweden and South Korea – lined up against the always capable Germany and dark horses Mexico. Group of death? In a sense, they are all groups of death when YOU have the casting vote. Pick your favourite two tracks and may the best manager win!

Pop World Cup 2018 Group F Match 1: Pick TWO tracks

  • SOUTH KOREA: Taeyeon 64%
  • MEXICO: Clorofila 55%
  • SWEDEN: Those Dancing Days 52%
  • GERMANY: Wolkenfrei 17%

Total Voters: 42

Poll closes: 10 Jul 2018 @ 18:15

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25
Jun 18

Pop World Cup 2018 Group E Match 1

New York London Paris Munich/13 comments • 508 views

No, you’ve not missed any matches. We’re putting this year’s games up as we get the entries in, and so it’s a big thankyou to the prompt Group E gaffers of Serbia, Brazil, Switzerland and Morocco. It’s a group of veteran pop managers in the dugout this match, but only two can progress beyond the group stage, and you decide who those two are. Hear the tracks below the cut, and vote in the poll:

Pop World Cup 2018 Group E Match 1: Pick TWO tracks

  • BRAZIL: Karol Conka ft Tropkillaz 76%
  • SWITZERLAND: Steffe La Cheffe 51%
  • COSTA RICA: Triddi 49%
  • SERBIA: Rasta 9%

Total Voters: 45

Poll closes: 1 Jul 2018 @ 12:19

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17
Jun 18

Pop World Cup 2018: Group A Match 1

New York London Paris Munich/17 comments • 911 views

It’s here! The opening game of the Pop World Cup finds the four teams of Group A raising the curtain on the tournament. Pop football veterans Russia and Uruguay meet two Arab states – Egypt and Saudi Arabia – with less of a record at this level. Who will prevail? You decide. Spotify playlist and YouTube links below the cut with the team talks – go listen and vote for your favourite TWO tracks.

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14
Jun 18

Pop World Cup 2018 – Tournament Eve Update

New York London Paris Munich/5 comments • 261 views

This year’s POP WORLD CUP is almost here! I appreciate the Pop Football governing bodies have been quiet about the tournament since the initial announcement, but behind the scenes, we’ve been busy constructing stadiums finalising squad details. Well, almost. We have a shock eve-of-tournament vacancy for one of the favourites, SOUTH KOREA. So if you know your K-Pop (like, at all) and want to step into the hot seat, please let me know.

Otherwise, expect the first match at the weekend, and a fairly brisk clip of games across the summer. (The PWC takes a bit longer than that other World Cup). The managers are sending in their first tracks and the referees are counting their bribes. Because of the truncated time frame, the group games won’t follow the same order as the football tournament. If you ARE a manager, and didn’t get my emails this week, please shout! I might not have your current address.

If you’re following along as a spectator, we’ll have YouTube and Spotify links wherever possible and a playlist of available tracks. It’ll be a simple format so please do join in, listen and vote.

1
Mar 18

2018 Music Diary Week 8: The Week Of The East

New York London Paris Munich5 comments • 383 views

NEW MUSIC

fischerspooner sir

Day 52: FISCHERSPOONER – Sir: Compelling, in a glum sort of way – meandering, thoughtful synth-pop outlining the late-night territories where desire, and weariness, and resentment of desire, and resentment of weariness, all run together.

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15
Feb 18

2018 Music Diary Week 6: The Week Of Wakanda

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 298 views

NEW MUSIC

sekundenschlaf

Day 36: тпсб – Sekundenschlaf: Philip Sherburne’s Pitchfork review goes in deep on the enjoyably ridiculous backstory of this dude, how these are supposedly found tracks from the hard drive of a PC from the Chernobyl isolation zone or some such, but multiple listens revealed this as an album for which such frippery can easily be forgiven. Broody, bare-wired ambient rumbles and surly beats in the (superior) first half, crude but effective retro-rave in the second. Good stuff. Found via a ‘if X then Y’ Spotify link where X was (I think) fellow German techno revivalist Nadia Struiwigh.

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5
Feb 18

2018 Music Diary Week 5: The Week Of Lassitude

New York London Paris Munich2 comments • 275 views

NEW MUSIC

john surman

Day 29: JOHN SURMAN – Invisible Threads: Pastoral, ruminative jazz from an English composer and saxophonist. Very much a set of mood pieces, it seems to me, whose folky calm is upended at one point by a much brisker cover version. Chosen because a write-up of his 1971 debut appealed to me, but it’s not on Spotify, and as a point of principle I try and check out new work by people I don’t know if it’s there. Glad I did. “The Admiral” is a good sample of its mellow pleasures.

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29
Jan 18

2018 Music Diary Week 4: The Week Of Peel

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 299 views

NEW MUSIC

first aid kit ruins

Day 24: FIRST AID KIT – Ruins: Slickly produced, occasionally countrified, notes on romantic disappointment by a pair of Swedish sisters who sing with a Nordics-meet-Nashville twang. There’s nothing off-putting or irritating about this record, and several tracks hide a melodic twist which rouses me into brief attention. But that’s about it.

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25
Jan 18

And Then I Took Some Of THESE

New York London Paris Munich2 comments • 754 views

Mark E Smith, 1957-2018. Some things to read.

My favourite ever piece or sequence of pieces on The Fall is our own Kat Stevens’ stint on One Week One Band. It’s very wide ranging, very funny, and especially perceptive about the different things different musicians brought to The Fall. It also gives the Brix Years their due, which I’m pleased about – it may not be the greatest era of The Fall, but it was where I jumped on.

Another writer who’s good on The Fall as musicians is Douglas Wolk – his review of their Peel Sessions box set is an excellent single-article history of the band’s development, making the argument that they were often at their best in the pressure-cooker environment of the BBC studios. Peel repeated a bunch of their sessions across two weeks in the summer of 1990, and I stayed in night after night to tape them. I don’t think any Fall recording on any format could be as berserk as the session version of “Container Drivers” that kicked off the C90.

Over the last decade or so there’s been renewed interest in Mark E Smith as a literary figure, though. The Quietus has an excellent long piece by Taylor Parkes discussing him as a crafter (and, crucially, performer) of short stories in song from “Spector vs Rector” on through most of the 1980s.

And then there’s the critic I most think about when I think about recent interest in The Fall: the late Mark Fisher, aka K-Punk. Fisher is an interesting critic of The Fall because he was devoted to them but in one specific aspect – he’s quite caustic about Smith’s decline as a visionary writer (the element he loved) and reification as a national Northern treasure. It’s a reading that de-emphasises a lot – mostly the man’s identity as a working musician, a James Brown style bandleader/martinet/monster. And the fact that – granny-on-bongos jokes aside – The Fall were always a collaboration between Smith and specific sets of musicians (or dancers/artists/etc) with specific talents, something that comes out in Kat’s writing. I quit listening in 2000 or so but there are surely great pieces to be written about his late lyrical approach in this punishing, gigging context. This conversation on Smith, Brian Clough and management, from K-Punk’s blog, is an interesting angle.

But there’s much that’s truthful about Fisher’s position as well as harsh. First off, Smith really was a unique, visionary creator – there’s nothing in English pop remotely like, to take one example, “Wings”, the SF yarn Fisher talks about in this essay. And second, there was certainly a Cult of Mark E Smith, of the cartoon curmudgeon and bully, the straight-talking prole with the difficult band and the endless catalogue. He played up to it – crafted it, even – but like all cults I doubt it did him (or anyone) any good.