friendly fires

Video: Hawaiian Air - Friendly Fires

Friendly Fires' eponymous debut album was one of my favourite albums of 2008, their epic indie sound capturing the feeling of classic house perfectly. The band's sophomore album, Pala, came out a few weeks back - I'm aiming to do a full write up soon but suffice to say there are a few gems and 'Hawaiian Air', performed live above for the O2 Academy, is one such gem.

'Hawaiian Air' is Friendly Fires' next single and it does a cracking job of capturing the excitement that fuels a long flight to a far off land so it's definitely worth checking out the video above. You can also head over to YouTube for videos of 'Jump In The Pool' off the first album and another Pala highlight in 'Blue Cassette'.

Friendly Fires tour the UK in November this year - details are on the tour page on their site.

BP x

Comment: Our prediction - the Mercury Music Prize

Not so long ago we predicted who would get shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize and whilst we weren't exactly spot on we managed to guess seven out of the 12... Not too shabby!

With the event happening tomorrow we thought it was time to lay our predictions down on paper (albeit virtual) and put our money where our mouth is.

The shortlist in full then:

  • Bat For Lashes - Two Suns
  • Florence & The Machine - Lungs
  • Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires
  • Glasvegas - Glasvegas
  • Kasabian - West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
  • La Roux - La Roux
  • Led Bib - Sensible Shoes
  • Lisa Hannigan - Sea Sew
  • Speech Debelle - Speech Therapy
  • Sweet Billy Pilgrim - Twice Born Men
  • The Horrors - Primary Colours
  • The Invisible - The Invisible

Pondered we have but BlackPlastic still thinks the smart money is on The Horrors, with Bat For Lashes and Florence & The Machine close also-rans. If it were down to us though we would commend that loved up debut from Friendly Fires... It's just too gorgeous to resist.

Check out the BBC site for coverage on the even.

BP x

Comment: The Mercury Music Prize

For the most part BlackPlastic believes that music award ceremonies are for chumps. Like every good rule there is, however, an exception. And that exception is the Mercury Music Prize.

What makes the Mercury Music Prize transcend that crappy sycophantic lip-service of other award ceremonies is its simplicity: one album. That's it. By focusing on that at the expense of lifetime achievement awards, best newcomer, best use of women wearing gymwear in a music video and longest speech at last year's event it gets to the point and is much better placed to judge how has achieved greatness in the past year.

There are still obviously decisions BlackPlastic would disagree with. Particularly M People (1994), Talvin Singh (yawn, 1999) and Ms. Dynamite (WTF? 2002). But the discussion and the deliberation is half the point.

With the shortlist announced on 21 July here are our picks for who may / should get a nod (in no order of course):

The Horrors - Primary Colours
Art-y but relatively approachable and safe, Primary Colours was the shock-horror-it's-actually-alright album of the year when it was released. BlackPlastic loves it and tips it for the win.

Late of the Pier - Fantasy Black Channel
Noisy, unique, dark, mysterious - Late of the Pier's epic début had BlackPlastic gushing when it was released last year. It just sounds so fresh and new. In our opinion Fantasy Black Channel SHOULD win, but it probably won't.

Glasvegas - Glasvegas
Not BlackPlastic's cup of tea but they manage to come across as creative whilst still being a firm Dad favourite. It certainly did Elbow no harm.

Jack Peñate - Everything Is New
The other shock-horror-it's-actually-alright album for this year. To be fair, Jack's début was actually pretty enjoyable (certainly better than the Horrors' first effort) but this is clearly better. An album that drips in hot summer evenings, it took Jack from being an also-ran, coming in second place to Duffy and Adele, and gave him a genre all of his own.

Kasabian - West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
They're like a rowdy British version of Kings of Leon and from a judging point of view that can be no bad thing. Plus, you know, they're actually alright.

Metronomy - Nights Out
With added vocals and a pop sound offensive enough to irritate people on the next pod in your office Metronomy's sophomore effort feels like the Streets for the late 'noughties'. To deny then a place on the shortlist would seem churlish.

James Yorkston - When The Haar Rolls In
Beautiful and haunting and lapped up by the critics James is one of those chaps that most mere mortals have never heard of, let alone invested time and money in. Obviously if this was the late nineties, a time when you had to be unknown to even your mother if you wanted any real chance of winning, Yorkston would be a dead cert. It isn't, and he isn't, but it's still good enough that he could sneak a win.

Florence and the Machine - Lungs
Currently in vogue and universally loved so it seems a bit of a no-brainer for the shortlist, but BlackPlastic would be surprised if Lungs wins on the night.

Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires
Radio friendly and inventive, Friendly Fires make better house records than any other 'band' BlackPlastic has heard of, really challenging what people consider rock music to be. It's hard to find people that don't get at least a bit excited by their single 'Paris', and that has to mean something, right?

La Roux - La Roux
Total codswallop in BlackPlastic's opinion but since when did that matter? Bad edgy pop for the masses. She probably has enough attitude in her quiff to give her the edge over Little Boots and if they were both nominated it would be a bit boring, wouldn't it?

Bar for Lashes - Two Suns
Yawn. Loved by journos and students, probably. BlackPlastic doesn't care but she's bound to get nominated anyway.

Lily Allen - It's Not Me, It's You
The pop princess it's okay to like, this will help justify press coverage but it would be as ridiculous as, ooh... Ms Dynamite or M People winning if this got the prize.

Okay, so we are clearly missing the random token jazz an classical albums but we just aren't knowledgeable about those genres.

You can check the BBC's coverage of last year's Mercury Music Prize for footage of the winning announcement as well as interviews and performances.

Did we mention we thought the year Dynamite won was stupid?

Any thoughts?

BP x

P.S. We'll be back to discuss the shortlisted albums and predict the winner once the list is confirmed.

Five songs of the year

It's practically 2010 so it's well and truly time to wrap up our final 2008 lists with possibly the most fun one to put together... Our favourite songs:


5. Ice Cream - Muscles

Ice Cream, as a food, is not big and it's not really particularly clever. However, it is a lovely instant pick me up that melts in your mouth all too quickly. Seriously, everyone loves Ice Cream right? Same goes for this song: from the opening "wooh... ahhh" refrain through to the closing yelps ("I don't need your number, I just want to dance with my shirt off!") no other song acted quite so much like a security blanket for BlackPlastic this year. It's disposable and trivial but it's also gorgeous and super lovely: Ice Cream is gonna save the day. Again.


4. So Haunted (Knightlife's Sun-Soaked Reprise) - Cut Copy

Cut Copy's In Ghost Colours is just too right as a body of work for us to strip one track from it for "best song" honours so we will kind of cheat and go with a remix. Ever since the So Cosmic mix hit everyone has wanted this: the glorious italo-enthused re-imagining of So Haunted. The guitars have gone but otherwise this is a remarkably respectful re-edit. What makes it so great is that little freestyle bit at the end: it's like a five-minute holiday romance.


3. Space and the Woods - Late Of The Pier

Space and the woods still sounds just as good as it did when we first heard it, its raucous synths impervious to ageing: the sound of a fist fight with aliens whilst floating in space in a foil suit. Without doubt the highlight of one of our albums of the year, it demonstrates so much in such a short space of time that experiencing it should be considered homework.


2. Paris - Friendly Fires

We have gone on about it again and again and again (and, ahem... again... sorry). It still makes us go all gooey. The drums and cowbells are still lush, the synths still cosy, the fact it was self-produced astounding. France's capital may be over-priced and lack good restaurants or it may be the capital of romance and passion. Either way it has a song better than it deserves.


1. L.E.S Artistes (xxxchange Remix) - Santogold

BlackPlastic has listened to this song so much, put it on so many mix CDs, told so many people about it that it doesn't seem believable that it came out in 2008. Yet it did, and thank heavens for that. Spank Rock's xxxchange delivers a truly stellar remix again, discarding the fuzzy guitars of the original in favour of skyscraper levelling basslines. This version of 'L.E.S Artistes' retains 100% emotional punch but comes off more like the soundtrack to some Terminator war of the future. It ditches all the elements that potentially caused Santogold's début album to be overlooked - "I can say I hope it will be worth what I give up" indeed - an album of tunes like this one would have been a glorious thing.


BP x