Wir Sind Helden In The New York Times

Two months and four days ago I wrote about an exciting new band from Germany called Wir Sind Helden. Their pop anthem Nur Ein Wort is a strong contender for single of the year, and yet o so many weeks since I first spread the word, I have not seen a single mention of this band or this incredible song anywhere else. That is, until today. While Pitchfork continues to inform the world of the latest polished turd already in heavy rotation on MTV, leave it to the New York Times (via an article from sister paper the International Herald Tribune) to turn mainstream America on to this German slice of pop heaven. Read the article from today's Business section here.


Cocker On Darger

In addition to his unique musical and lyrical talents, Pulp's Jarvis Cocker has always demonstrated a wonderful eye for the visual arts, working with greats like John Currin and Peter Saville on the artwork for This Is Hardcore (Currin's paintings also appear in the beautiful video for Help the Aged). Cocker is also an avid admirer of outsider art, or what the French call art brut, including perhaps the most famous self-taught artist, Henry Darger.

Darger's work is incredible in many respects, including its prefiguring of the techniques and imagery of pop art that would seem so revolutionary decades later. But what truly sets Darger apart from all of the other great artists is the size and scope of his work, which includes not only countless images, but also volumes and volumes of methodically told tales of imaginary lands and wars that accompany the images.

Darger and his work are the subject of the documentary In the Realms of the Unreal, which was just released on DVD. In speaking about the man and the film in today's Observer, Jarvis notes:
My attitude to his work has changed considerably since I have had children of my own. They are children's illustrations gone horribly wrong. I used to think that was funny but now I'm slightly more disturbed when I look at his work. I guess we are all more concerned with representations of children nowadays but there is certainly something a little creepy about his work. It appears to be incredibly free, but, in some ways, it's almost like a work of self-medication. Many so-called outsider artists seem to sedate themselves by creating incredibly intricate and symmetrical paintings over and over. Darger certainly did that obsessively.
You can read the full story here.


Free Devendra Banhart Show

Virgin Megastore Union Square just announced that Devendra Banhart (or as they call him, Devenda Barnhart) will play a free in-store gig and sign copies of his new album at the store on September 13. The time of the performance has not yet been determined, but check back at Virgin's website as the date gets nearer.

My Name Is Jonas

The buzz on the forthcoming Mew album continues to grow, with this interview with lead singer Jonas at Drowned By Sound. They also have a review of the first single, Apocalypso, which everyone agrees is good, but not nearly as brilliant as their previous singles. Has anyone heard an advance of the new album?


Born In The U.K.

In a brand new interview with Nick Hornby, when asked what other artists he has gotten into lately, Bruce Springsteen reveals he listens to "all the Britpop stuff, the Stone Roses and Oasis, and I go on to Suede and Pulp." That means he is on track to discover the Libertines sometime around 2012. Full interview here.


My Little Airport -- Your New Favourite Indie-Pop Band

Speaking of the Field Mice, as I so often do, if anyone owns or has heard this record (When I Listen to the Field Mice), please get in touch with me immediately!
My Little Airport
I have heard a couple of other songs by Hong Kong's My Little Airport, and now feel confident in declaring them the next Belle & Sebastian. The song titles alone are brilliant -- such as Edward, Had You Ever Thought That the End of the World Would Come on 20.9.01? -- and the music (Casio, guitar and vocals) has that simple yet wonderful indie-pop quality that has been largely missing from the world since the demise of Sarah Records.

Where'd You Learn To Kiss That Way?

field mice
The career-spanning 2-CD Field Mice retrospective Where'd You Learn to Kiss That Way?, which was released in 1998 and has been out of print and selling for exorbitant prices for years, is now being offered new on Amazon for $19.98. Given the lack of any evidence that this record has been officially re-released, and the fact that it is not similarly available new on Amazon UK (they only have 1 used copy available, which is selling for 90 pounds), I wonder whether Amazon US simply unearthed a few of these in a warehouse and is selling them off. Needless to say, if you do not already own this record, you should move quickly to take advantage of this situation.


So Many Hearts Broken

Mr. and Mrs. Sondre Lerche (aka Mona Fastvold)


The Kooks -- Your New Favourite Band

Am I the only one that does not understand the slavish devotion of Pitchfork and every music blogger in America to the good but not great (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Arcade Fire, etc.) at the expense of the plethora of truly great music being made overseas at this moment? I recognize that Bloc Party and a few other UK acts have received their fair share of praise in this country, but come on people, let's get with the program.
Tomorrow sees the UK release of what is not only one of the best singles of 2005, and one of the great debut singles of recent years, but possibly one of the most infectious two minutes of rock and roll ever recorded. The song is Eddie's Gun by four near-teens from Brighton known as The Kooks. The band is the latest to add its imprint on the British punk-pop revival kickstarted by The Libertines and heralded most recently by The Kaiser Chiefs and Maximo Park. Yet Eddie's Gun also harkens back to the golden age of Supergrass-era britpop. This paean to erectile dysfunction is already receiving airplay on alternative radio stations in the States, including KCRW in LA and WKQX in Chicago. Check out the video (and much more) on the band's website.

The band just finished touring with The Dead 60s, and have a smattering of UK headline dates scheduled in July. No US dates yet, but keep your fingers crossed.


Your Weekly Pete Doherty Fix

Pete at Live 8
It's been a busy week for the world's most lovable troubadour.

The week began with new revelations of Pete's sexual proclivities. The singer told gay lifestyle magazine axm that he used to be a £20-a-time rent boy and said he still fancies men: "F*** it, yeah. I find men beautiful. I find it in their souls and the wisdom they give you." He also told the magazine that he's currently broke: "I've had to cadge taxi fares off paparazzi just to get to places." Full story here.

Pete's fortunes then took a turn for the better, as he and Kate Moss were named the most sought-after couple on Britain's party circuit by the Tattler magazine, beating out royals, aristocrats and last year's hottest couple, Jude Law and Sienna Miller, to head the list. Full story here.

Unfortunately, Fortuna's wheel continued to turn, as he woke the morning of Live 8 to find his car booted, which caused him nearly to miss his performance with Elton John; though perhaps it would have been better if he had never arrived, as he stumbled on stage and was booed for forgetting his words to T-Rex's Children of the Revolution. Despite being booed by 200,000 people, and soundly condemned by the press, event organiser Bob Geldof has tried to put a positive spin on Pete's performance: "I think Doherty and Elton were fantastic. I know there's been a lot of criticism about Pete forgetting his words and stumbling around the stage, but it was undoubtedly a very memorable performance."

Even Pete has resorted to spin control, describing his performance as "wicked" while acknowledging that "everybody has been knocking me and that's put the dampers on it a bit." Pete also has denied that he was late or that his glazed appearance was due to drugs. "I didn't turn up late at all and I wasn't all over the place on drugs. I may have been slightly agitated, but I wasn't on drugs." He did admit having a row with Kate right before the show, but said they soon made up and later watched a repeat of his performance on TV.
Pete & Elton
The most recent reports put the blame for Pete's dazed and confused performance on the shoulders of Bob Geldof's 16-year-old daughter Peaches. "I wasn't lost for words and I wasn't out of it on drugs," Doherty said to the Daily Mirror from the Spanish island of Ibiza. "Just before I went on stage Peaches squeezed my bum hard and whispered something rather suggestive to me. It left me in such shock I didn't know where I was. Bob Geldof has organised this amazing global event, I was facing 210,000 people, the cameras were rolling, and f---ing Elton John is dueting with me," the 26-year-old continued. "And Bob's daughter has secretly made a pass at me. It's all I can think about. It did my head in. I didn't think Bob would be very happy."

Full stories here and here.

Finally, there is a very disturbing report that Pete and Kate have recorded a cover of the Divinyls' I Touch Myself. The couple apparently believe the song will be a big hit as it expresses their "deep love for each other."

If ever there were a time for the Libertines to reunite, this is it.


Higher Than The Sun

Artist Paul Cannell, the man responsible for the iconic cover art for Primal Scream's Screamadelica album and Higher Than the Sun single, has committed suicide.

Cannell also designed the logo for Heavenly Records.

Cannell's artwork also featured on the cover of the Manic Street Preachers' classic You Love Us single.

In addition to his work as an artist and designer, Cannell was also a member of the band Crawl, who released a single through Creation in 1996.

You can find a wonderful interview with Cannell here.