A pet hate of mine is introductory paragraphs to round-up articles like these that ask: where has the time flown to? Wow, two months down already, eh? Et cetera, et cetera, and so forth. What’s wrong with these people? Do they not use a calendar?

Yes, everyone, February is over. There are no more albums to be released in this, the second month of 2009. Come Monday, we will be in March. That’s the third month of the year for you weirdo sorts not able to follow the passing of time in a typical manner. A Whole New Month.

Which necessitates the publication of our monthly Six Pack feature, collecting a half-dozen excellent long-players released in the month in question… Which, yes, this time out is February. Which leads me to…

These are our six favourite records of February 2009. Read, hear, enjoy. Buy, even. Because downloading is destroying the music business. It’s not but, y’know, to touch upon another pet hate of mine: the incessant chatter from moneymen on all their lost pounds and pence and how one illegal download equals one lost sale, when it doesn’t because, you see, there’s this thing called…

Sorry, where are we?

– – –

The Prodigy (pictured)

‘Invaders Must Die’

(Take Me To The Hospital)

Reads the ClashMusic.com review: “‘Invaders Must Die’ makes an instantaneous impact; at least it does so if you ever held the group’s seminal second album, 1994’s Mercury-nominated ‘Music For The Jilted Generation’, in high regard. It is a record that largely earns its stripes by slightly sidestepping familiar footsteps, and leaves the listener certain that The Prodigy still matter. Put simply, nobody does The Prodigy like The Prodigy, and it’s a joy to have them back on all cylinders. Pendulum, don’t let the door smack you on the arse on your way out.”

Read the full review HERE.

The Prodigy – ‘Omen’

– – –

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead

‘The Century Of Self’

(Richter Scale/Superball)

Reads the ClashMusic.com review: “‘The Century of Self’ is an album with an accomplished sense of completion – a rolling score of disparate tracks segueing into a focused, poignant collective. And for all its scintillating, visceral energy, it’s an album that remains poised and impending, balanced by majestic composition and a patient anticipation for demolishing everything it builds. It might be two steps back and one giant step forward, but this is progression nonetheless…”

Read the full review HERE.

Trail Of Dead – ‘Bells Of Creation’ (live)

– – –

Lily Allen

‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’

(Regal)

Reads the ClashMusic.com review: “It’s the presence of impolite truths in the voice of an angel that makes ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ a feverishly catchy and bona fide favourite. And so, despite public lashings and continued tabloid exposure, Britain’s mouthy pop idol returns triumphantly and with the brawny guts to stick with what she knows best. Though we may be over Lily, the celebrity, be ready to embrace ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’.”

Read the full review HERE.

Lily Allen – ‘The Fear’

– – –

N.A.S.A.

‘The Spirit Of Apollo’

(Anti)

Reads the ClashMusic.com review: “N.A.S.A. began some six years ago when the pair of DJ Zegon and Sam ‘Squeak E. Clean’ Spiegel combined forces to present a sound rooted in both North America (Spiegel) and South America (Zegon) – hence the name. But neither was up for vocal duties, so drafted in a handful of guests to deliver on said front. And their guestlist grew and grew. And grew. As ‘The Spirit Of Apollo’ progresses, team-ups reveal unexpected thrills from Chuck D, Karen O, M.I.A. and more…”

Read the full review HERE.

N.A.S.A. – ‘Money’

– – –

Asobi Seksu

‘Hush’

(One Little Indian)

Reads the ClashMusic.com review: “When an album’s expertly brought to an end-product state like this, it’s impossible to find fault in its myriad achievements, when each nuance is finished with the deftest touch and attention to detail. Ideal world, this propels Asobi Seksu into the mainstream and confirms their place at the top of their peer-group tree. If not, it’s still the band’s best LP to date, and a marked progression from albums lacking this release’s lovingly crafted immediacy.”

Read the full review HERE.

Asobi Seksu – ‘Me & Mary’

– – –

Morrissey

‘Years Of Refusal’

(Polydor)

Reads the ClashMusic.com review: “Almost 25 years after The Smiths swept the country off its feet, turning everyone casually vegetarian and leading grown men to sport quiffs for any occasion, ‘Years Of Refusal’ is a welcome addition to an already impressive back catalogue: from beginning to end the pace and quality doesn’t let up. Some may argue that it lacks the real standout tracks his previous two albums had, but give it a few months and people will be talking about this release with the same kind of reverence that ‘…Quarry’ received.”

Read the full review HERE.

Morrissey – ‘I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris’


– – –

Manchester electro popsters Cats In Paris have lost a member, after their keyboard player announced she was leaving.

Since forming last year Cats In Paris have gained a devoted following with their unusual style of electro pop. Bordering on the twee, the (one time) four piece were a hit at last year’s festivals, playing gorgeous sets at Green Man and more.

The band started as a joke, with the band members looking to have a bit of fun on their time off. After getting some sterling reviews Cats In Paris started to take themselves a little more seriously, until they actually released their debut album in 2008.

Getting some positive reviews the band took off on tour, but it seems the toil and trouble of touring the UK has exhausted some members of the band.

A statement from Cats In Paris said:

“Sad news! Sara has decided to leave our band after a year and half of service. When we asked her to come on board as chief plinky-plonky-bashy-yelpswoman for our first show we really had no idea that this’d end up being something that would consume so much of our time.”

The group got in touch with ClashMusic to give us an exclusive message to their fans.

“By way of clarification: we won’t be looking for a replacement and will be continuing as a three piece. We’ve got a pretty strong group dynamic centered around brutal honesty and Buffy references that would be pretty hard for an outsider to penetrate, so Mike’s just going to play another keyboard and I’ll be doing some yelping and Lorien will play even louder. It’ll be like Sara never left, save for the feeling of crushing emptiness, grief, despair and death.”

Expect some tour dates soon!

With our last Oasis competition seeming like like a distant memory, we thought we’d liven things back up on ClashMusic by offering you the chance to win a brand new ‘Falling Down’ box set.

With the Manchester legends set to return yet again this summer for a host of sold-out stadium gigs and Liam today announcing they’re already primed to lay down another record (read our news HERE), Oasis look set to continue their reign in ’09.

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning all of the following is click HERE! and tell us the name of their ’98 B-sides album.

Win..

* Bonus disc with three B-sides & six remixes

* DVD with 40 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage from the making of the record & “The Shock of the Lightning” video

* Four-LP vinyl edition

* Digital download

* 24-page deluxe hardcover book

Click the link above to enter now – good luck !

Oasis – ‘Falling Down’

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Hotly tipped newcomers Flashguns have become the last group to record in the historic Olympic Studios.

Owned by EMI, the studios are being sold after incurring large debts. A massive part of rock history, its natural acoustics were sought after by musicians with the likes of Led Zeppelin, Oasis and The Rolling Stones all recording there.

U2 used the studio for forthcoming album ‘No Line On The Horizon’ but Flashgun have earned their place in the history due to a session with famed producer Stephen Street.

“We went into the studio with legendary producer Stephen Street who very kindly offered it to us for free,” the band explained.

“It turned out that we were the last band to ever record at the Olympic Studios – pipped U2 by mere minutes.”

The group have caused a stir recently with a series of stunning live performances. They’ve certainly got our attention, and will be playing our next Clash Live event in the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen on March 11th.

Flashgun are set to release their debut album later in the year. Olympic Studios has now closed and is up for sale – it is doubtful it will remain as a recording studio.

Flashgun are due to release their new single ‘Locarno’ on March 9th.

Album three from New Yorkers Asobi Seksu finds the central duo of James Hanna (guitars) and Yuki Chikudate (vocals, keys) expanding their shoegaze-echoing sound to incorporate instant-hit accessibility like never before.

So, while the trademark drifts and drones – each as beauteous as the next – are present and correct, there’s also a pop edge to more than a handful of numbers, suggesting the band are looking to progress from widespread critical recognition to a greater level of commercial visibility.

‘Me & Mary’ is one track that’s hardly backward in coming forward, exploding into life from the second play’s triggered; driving percussion keeps attentions focused while the sublime vocals of Chikudate slip in and out of the foreground, and instrumentally the piece comes on like a meeting of minds between Bloc Party and My Bloody Valentine. It’s easy to hear why it’s been picked as a single, as it also taps into the type of indie nostalgia currently fashionable via the work of Vivian Girls and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.

When the album’s at its most openly pop-sounding, there’s an air of The Cardigans to proceedings, and even the slightest note of Saint Etienne – this is primarily due to Chikudate’s ethereal contributions, but the layers laid on thick by Hanna keep the arrangements bubbly and bright, where other acts associated with the rejuvenation of laces-staring sway-rock simply spiral into impenetrable dirge. Not once do Asobi Seksu play the noise card – this music showcases its makers’ refinement from start to finish. Live, they might be a deafening experience, but here understatement says more (and says it louder) than excess.

Occasionally its prettiness threatens to be the record’s undoing, as efforts like ‘In The Sky’ and ‘Sing Tomorrow’s Praise’ edge towards tones lacking essential contrast; but the reins are held tight, and Hanna never lets his songs stray away from keeping their shape, a structure that’s lasting of impression. ‘Gliss’ rides a wavering melody that’s reminiscent of Mercury Rev, Chikudate’s warm vocals wrapping the listener in a comforting blanket of sound; ‘Risky & Pretty’ meanwhile serves as a bridge between sides of the album, all ambient tones that stir thoughts of soundtrack-friendly Eno. Closer ‘Blind Little Rain’ has an almost ‘60s soulful girl group feel to it – listen and be transported somewhere other than here. At almost every turn, there’s plenty to admire.

As the various parallels noted above suggest, there’s little that’s revelatory about ‘Hush’. But when an album’s expertly brought to an end-product state like this, it’s impossible to find fault in its myriad achievements, when each nuance is finished with the deftest touch and attention to detail. Ideal world, this propels Asobi Seksu into the mainstream and confirms their place at the top of their peer-group tree. If not, it’s still the band’s best LP to date, and a marked progression from albums lacking this release’s lovingly crafted immediacy.

Asobi Seksu – ‘Me & Mary’

Read our Q&A with Asobi Seksu HERE.

Country vixen Holly Golightly is set to play a small series of UK shows in May and June with her new band The Breakoffs.

Holly & The Breakoffs released their second album ‘Dirt Don’t Hurt’ last year, the second offering from Golightly and duo member Lawyer Dave, and they will now play Bristol, Leeds and Nottingham in the summer.

Although based in the UK, Holly Golightly has racked up a highly impressive number of collaborations, from guesting on ‘Elephant’s’ closing track ‘Its True That We Love One Another’ with The White Stripes to full albums with cult garage visionary Billy Childish.

She remains a prolific writer in her own right, releasing an album a year for the last decade.

Holly Golightly & The Breakoffs have so far announced three UK shows, tickets available below.

Holly Golightly & The Breakoffs

May
30th Leeds Buy tickets here
31st Nottingham Buy tickets here
June
4th Bristol Thelka Buy tickets here

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Sparks are set to pay tribute to one of their biggest fans when they release new single ‘Lighten Up, Morrissey’ on March 23rd.

One of pop music’s longest running and most unusual partnerships, Sparks have moved from prog to glam via disco and a whole lot more. Centred on the Mael brothers, the cult group played every album from their career last year in a spectacular residency.

Forthcoming single ‘Lighten Up, Morrissey’ is a tribute to one of their biggest fans. The teenage Morrissey used to plague the music press with fan letters concerning the band, and frequently namechecks them as a massive influence.

This isn’t the first time Morrissey has been namechecked in song, with close friends The Associates writing ‘Stephen, You’re Really Something’.

The vinyl version of the single will come with new song ‘Brenda’s Always in The Way’ while the download comes backed with ‘I Can’t Believe That You Would Fall For All The [email protected] In This Song’.

To celebrate the release of the single Sparks have arranged two special gigs where they will play last year’s album ‘Exotic Creatures Of The Deep’ alongside a selected record from their back catalogue.

Sparks release new single ‘Lighten Up, Morrissey’ on March 23rd. The band have confirmed the following dates:

March
20 London Forum
21 London Forum

Click here to buy tickets for Sparks!

British music icon Paul Weller is set to release a new limited edition amplifier.

From his time with The Jam onwards, Paul Weller has stayed at the forefront of British music. At the recent Brit awards Weller walked away with ‘Best British Male’ – the oldest ever winner of the award.

Paul Weller released his latest album ’22 Dreams’ last year. A double album, it was a breath-taking display of songwriting, taking in a vast variety of styles and was followed by a vast British tour.

Weller is no stranger to special edition products. A clothes obsessive, the Mod icon has worked with Fred Perry and Ben Sherman in the past to produce special edition shirts.

Marshall are one of the world’s most iconic music equipment companies. Everyone from Jimi Hendrix to AC/DC has used their amplifiers, and it appears Paul Weller is also a fan.

The forthcoming amps are re-issues of the 2100 Lead and Bass 50, and came with a signature signed by Dr Jim Marshall and Weller himself. Some of the profits from the campaign will be donated to the charity Childline.

The amplifier has been given the catalogue number 1987X-PW by the firm.

For more information visit the Marshall homepage.

Oasis star Liam Gallagher has claimed that the band are almost ready to go into the studio and record their new album.

The outspoken star is currently on a tour of Europe, and having assaulted Italy Oasis have now turned their attentions onto Portugal. It won’t be over for the continent after the tour finishes either – the band have confirmed appearances at Melt! and Benacassim.

In an interview with Portuguese TV show ‘Top+’ the singer said he is desperate to get back into the studio.

“Personally, after the tour I think we should have a couple of months off – not too long, maybe six months. Then I think we should go back in the studio, make another album.”

He added: “But it’s not down to me, you know what I mean, because I’m not a solo artist.”

Oasis released their last solo album ‘Dig Out Your Soul’ in 2008. A massive success, it became the band’s best selling album in the United States breaching the Top Ten on the Billboard chart. The band are set to play a huge tour of the UK over the summer, playing some of the biggest venues in the nation.

Liam Gallagher also praised Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho, though he insisted ‘The Special One’ is not as special as he is.

“He’s a dude and I like him,” said Gallagher. “He’s cool man. And he’s got passion. But he’s not as special as me though.”

Blues thrash duo Black Keys are set to part ways for a brief period, with frontman Dan Auerbach set to play three UK shows in May.

Taking his usual stripped-back hoedowns and shooting them through with shades of gospel and psychedelia, Auerbach’s debut ‘Keep It Hid’ was released last week, which finds him penning whisky soaked laments and bluegrass jams.

Black Keys fans needn’t worry, however, as the duo are set to return in the future with their new album this year, which saw them team up with boogie kings ZZ Top after bearded ZZ member Billy F Gibbons accosted the Keys and played them new material.

Dan Auerbach : UK Dates

May
12th Manchester Club Academy
13th London Islington Academy
14th Brighton The Great Escape

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