Category Archives: Pet Shop Boys
Pet Shop Boys
Tonight I started the main phase of training for my 10k which is at the beginning of June and this means speed work to get more oxygen into my system.
Today also marks a year since I started running. I cannot honestly believe it has been a year already and I cannot believe just how much I have enjoyed, hated, struggled, gained, grown, learnt and built as a runner.
I remember mulling the idea of running in my head, conversing with friends about a plan of attack. Harassing them for advice and support. Promising Richard I wouldn't spend a fortune on running gear or talking about running all the time (I think I've managed both rather well – the blog is the perfect outlet).
A year ago I started this on a whim and never considered I would achieve what I have, my first 10k, raising £1,600 for Alzheimer's, running a 5k for the local hospital raising £500 etc.
I've since learnt what a friendly and supportive community runners are, I've run in various places, seen and experienced things I wouldn't have done had I stayed at home. I'm probably the fittest I have ever been in my life and have an outlay for stress. I also have a nice toned body which I am proud of and I know Richard enjoys too
For tonights run Gipis suggested I run just over 3k with a split of fast and normal sections (ala Fartlek) to exhaust my body to reach maximum oxygen limits. I am not sure if I was exhausted but it was hard work.
I spent the run dreading the beeps that signified the start of each fast session but soon got into my stride and got on with it.
I did stupidly decide to continue running until I broke through 5k as this is a mental target I like to hit. At the time (at the end) that seemed like a foolish mistake but since the run I have made and ate dinner and although I am a little sore I feel ok considering…
The next run is scheduled to be similar with a long fast section. I'll see how I get on but I am sure I will be fine.
It's difficult running two apps at once though. I do like to track my complete runs on iSmoothRun but need to start Gipis mid way for the coaching and this proves tricky. Getting the iPhone in and out of the Y-fumble mid run isn't easy.
I could program iSmoothRun and may try that but I am not sure I like the coaching within that app.
Why can't all the apps be the same and excel at everything rather than one feature over another? If only I could build my perfect running app…
Tonight was possibly the warmest run I have completed in the UK this year and although windy I enjoyed pounding the streets and leaving the worries of work behind me.
I did sweat more than normal, probably due to the speed work. I had to remove my sunglasses mid run as the sweat on my lenses meant I could not see where I was going. Rubbing my eyes just put sweat in them which made them sting and again impaired my vision. Next time I'll take the baseball cap I bought in Spain!
Fastest track tonight was Axis by Pet Shop Boys which conveniently kicked in at the start of my first fast session.
I captured this short Vine video of tonight's run. Seems fitting to share it on my running anniversary! Why not take a look and join me on my run?
Be warned, it's not a pretty sight!
I'd like to say special thanks to Richard, Paul, Enda, Janice, Em, Sean, Dave, Ivan, Milly and countless others who have helped and supported me on this new adventure.
Long may the running continue and here's to the next challenge
This great summer of music just gets better and better. I am particularly looking forward to:
Empire of the Sun
And this fabulous teaser from Janelle Monae (new album The Electric Lady out soon)
Not forgetting Neil and Chris…
Bring on the sun!
You’ll note I have not mentioned any of Princes new stuff – funny that!
You won’t find any Gangman Style, Adele, Tiki or Tinchy Strider in this list but I hope you will enjoy what I have included.
My list is in no particular order…
Cerulean Simian Mobile Disco
Proving once again they are true geniuses of electronic dance music. This is a stand out track from Unpatterns and is made even more enjoyable when teamed with the fantastic video. Electronic music doesn’t get any better than this…
Proof that you don’t need to be promoting a tour, book or album to reales a new single. Proof you can shoot a very effective video on a fairly low budget. Proof you can be Kylie and be filmed walking around Soho and the gays will admire you from afar. Proof that she still has it and this is one of the best floor filers of the year.
Run Boy Run Woodkid
Overplayed during the Olympics and used in countless ad campaigns this year this track has given Woodkid a lot of exposure. I love it. I love the arrangement, the vocals, the switch between strings and electronics. Most of all I love the way the drums motivate me when I am running This has become a staple of my favourite running playlist this year and I have to sprint through all of the track as it gives such good energy.
Good Time Owl City and Carly rae Jepsen
Following the internet viral smash of Call Me Maybe this was Carly’s next single and she teamed up with Owl City. This is such a summer hit, great bouncy lyrics and a wonderful melody throughout the song. I like it more than Call Me Maybe and it seems that this was released just at the right time. This deserved to be a massive summer anthem as it just lifts your spirits.
Sad Elton John vc Pnau
An “Official Song” of London 2012 Olympics this got a lot of air play and rightly so. Pnau found a real gem in the Elton John back catalogue and added some fantastic floating melodies to further enhance the dreaminess of the song. Just a shame the rest of the album was a bit of a let down…
Cry At Films Bright Light Bright Light
One of my most anticipated albums in a long time and after an initial love-hate struggle with Make Me Believe in Hope I can confirmed I am hooked on the album and this track. BLx2 deserves much more airplay and exposure than I feel he gets at present. His album is a fantastic mix of old school 80′s sampling with noughties electronics. Cry at Films is a perfect example of this. I love this track so much…
Requiem in denim and leopardskin Pet Shop Boys
This is one of the most poignant songs I have heard in a long time and is a fantastic way to end the brilliant album Elysium. Telling the story of a make up artist/friend who dies, this is a wonderful capture of what she meant to Neil and Chris and how the imagined her life to be. It’s very touching, stirring and holds a lovely chorus and arrangement throughout… If you only listen to one track from my list please make sure it’s this one.
We Come Running Youngblood Hawke
Don’t know where it came from. Don’t know how it got into my subconscious but it did and I love it!
Stars Hold on When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It
Reminding me of Tigercity and all those brilliant bands from the 80′s/90′s such as Deacon Blue, Kate Bush – this is a true winner. I love the build up, the choral arrangement and the guitar riffs throughout – it’s such a robust track. Possibly one of the longest song titles of 2012 too!
Rock and Roll Love Affair Prince
Out of nowhere Prince appears on the Jimmy Fallon show sporting an afro and playing music that sounds like it came from the Purple era. This truly is a return to form and although the EP had some lame remixes the original is a true classic. There is still no one else about who can create music like Prince.
A bit a mixed bunch I am sure you will agree but these have all stood out for one reason or another.
I haven’t purchased that many albums this year which cannot be a good indication of music in 2012 as a whole. In a year of economic trouble it seems that most music is formulaic and boring. It’s great to recognise that there is really good music out there amongst the crap (as listed above).
I have created a Spotify playlist of my top ten – have a listen, let me know what you think!
*I am aware these songs may not have been released in 2012 but it’s when I discovered them.
- *Elysian fields Greek myth the dwelling place of the blessed after death
- *A state or place of perfect bliss
- *The latest album from the Pet Shop Boys
I had very very mixed feelings about this album and was not looking forward to hearing it given the initial track leaks and snippets that were released.
Before Enda says anything I still do not like Winner and feel that it simply is a track that Neil and Chris produced to gain some momentum from the Olympics. It seems so against what they would do it smacks of the record company telling them to do this… Anyway I will admit it does fit into place in the album and the initial track release Invisible also takes a good spot on the album. Invisible is now one of my favourite tracks.
There has been a lot of hype about the album as it was produced in the States and gives the album a much more robust and edgier feel than the last album Yes. Yes was a classic PSB pop album with lots of uplifting tunes and the odd PSB gem but to be honest most of that album can soon be forgotten as throw away pop (yes I did really say that!).
Neil and Chris have a habit of releasing pop albums followed by more robust work (such as Behaviour and Release etc) and Elysium fits neatly into this pattern.
I am not doing it down by saying this as Elysium is one of the best albums Neil and Chris have ever written – it’s a very close second to Behaviour in my opinion.
Some of Elysium initially sounds like it’s been lifted from a West End musical but that’s what gives this album gravitas.
When I tweeted that my CD had arrived someone told me to avoid listening to it until after our holiday as it would bring me down.
I simply don’t agree. That was my fear with the snippets I have heard but it’s not the case. The album is wonderfully produced – it sparkles and holds so much elegance in its production. The quality of the production is up there with the weight and wealth I would expect from a Prince album.
Yes there are songs of love, loss, ageing and despair but isn’t that what makes the Pet Shop Boys stand out from the crowd?
Who else could write a catchy pop song about the love we feel from those departed? And yet Neil and Chris have achieved this with the new single Leaving.
The way this album was released illustrates all I hate about the music business these days. Months before the album is out we get some obscure video on YouTube. A single is released ahead of its official release on iTunes with no context and then a video and a proper single follow later. All generated to actually gain more revenue rather than hype.
My dislike (downgraded from hatred!) of Winner comes from not being able to hear it in context and on a proper stereo. I buy few albums on CD these days and depend on digital copies that I hear at best through my headphones. This does not give Elysium the audible platform it deserves.
Elysium is an album and should be enjoyed as such with a proper sound system. The songs deserve to stand out on their own but also deserve to be heard in the body of work they were intended for.
Ego Music is ironically a song depicting this perfectly. Illustrating what is wrong with celebrity and the music business. It’s all about the individual, their beliefs and promoting the next song rather than any body of work.
The lyrics on this album are particularly cutting and typically Tennant and Lowe and I just love the chorus of Your Early Stuff and With a Face Like That. Both are songs that only English writers of high calibre could come up with (and when I mention English writers I don’t include the likes of Gary Barlow!).
Ego Music is dividing the PSB community apparently but I love it – it’s tongue in cheek and it’s not meant to be taken seriously. It has a very serious message to relay and it does it with humour and aplomb. Perfect Pet Shop boys irony.
I found myself pausing to really listen to Breathing Space and Memory of the Future. Both are wonderfully well written and very moving. The musical arrangements are really beautiful and these are tracks that will haunt us for years.
I have deliberately avoided a track by track review as I don’t think it would be fair to separate this album up to digestible chunks. At least now I see why friends have raved about early releases they have heard.
If you want to listen to the album then you could Google the Guardian web site and listen to it through some tinny desktop speakers but that would not do Elysium the justice it deserves.
Wait until Monday (well in the UK anyway) and either go out and buy the CD or download the album from iTunes and burn to a CD so you can hear it in glorious room filling sound.
Elysium really is a place of bliss, you just have to put in some minimal effort to appreciate it as it was intended and then you will truly find bliss.
Wonderful – go on Give it a Go
**Note I am using the cloud cover art as I purchased the limited edition double CD pack with the bonus instrumental CD.
I am really sorry Neil and Chris but I am not feeling any great warmth towards your new album.
You’ve released a video of one track and a single track download for Winner but all so far seem to be pretty forgettable.
So forgettable that I cannot remember the name of the album, the release date or the first songs title…
And the more that is released the worst it seems to get… This remix and video have been applauded online but I think it simply makes a bad song worse.
After the triumph of Yes I really hope this isn’t another Very as I really feel out of love with your music at that stage (it’s taken me years to get into it and even then I usually don’t recognise any of the songs as I listen to it so infrequently).
Whenever the album is out, whatever you call it, I hope you surprise me this time I really do…
Two stunning pieces of pop…
Robyn covering Janet’s When I Think of You – she does a sterling job of keeping the energy and vibrancy of the original yet bringing it bang up to date
The first track to be released from the forthcoming Pet Shop Boys album. If this is anything to go by then the album it’s going to be a corker!
Now I hope I am not too early to write this but to be honest I doubt anything will be released now that I will want to add to the list.
In fact I found it quite hard to compile this list as there hasn’t been a great deal of excellent memorable music. What follows is both and excellent and memorable but sadly there are only 9 works listed here!
1 Torches – Foster the People
I have to admit I am not sure if this came out in 2010 or 2011 but it is the most played album of the year. For a group of practically nobodies to take up so much play time on my iPhone etc is unimaginable.
Torches is a brilliant mix of musical styles and every time I hear it I hear something different and something new.
It got a little crazy for a while as I was unable to shake the sound effects, the rifts and the choruses from my head but I keep heading back to play it.
The album starts with Helena Beat which is a blinding track – a manic way to start and album and a song that deserves to be a massive hit.
Sadly apart from an appearance at Glastonbury and “Pumped Up Kicks” appearing on an 02 ad I have not heard anything else about them in the UK. This is such as shame as this album is wonderful.
The lyrics are clever, each track is constructed wonderfully well and it’s full of surprises.
Oh and it helps that the band are a bunch of cuties
2 Hurry up, we’re dreaming - M83
A sublime masterpiece. This album truly is haunting and takes a lot of influence from magic, mystery, electronic trips and fairy tales.
If you want to find a fan of this album simply ask them if they have heard about a frog…
The tracks mould from one to another effortlessly and event if it’s being played at full volume or in the background there is always something to enjoy. This album is so well performed and produced that it deserves to be a hit.
That said most of the albums on my list may not be huge commercial successes but they do appear to be popular online. If only record companies would have more faith in such acts…
Anyway it’s a pleasure to hear this album being used in films and TV and it’s great to read all the well deserved chatter about it.
This album digs into the ‘80s and ’70s, channeling Simple Minds here (“Reunion”) and Kraftwerk there (“Raconte-Moi Une Histoire”).
The whole experience of this album is a kin to Alice in Wonderland takes a sip of Tangerine Dream…
3 Voyage – The Sound of Arrows
Another truly sublime album and a new act from Sweden. This came out of nowhere and the single “M A G I C” has not left my subconscious since I first heard it months ago.
This also deals with dreams and questioning reality and humanity (but not in such a trippy was as “Hurry Up, We’re dreaming”). What you end up with is a mix of electro pop, euro pop, electronica and just down right catchy songs.
There are far too many good songs to list on this album and I cannot recommend it more.
4 Illumination – Miami Horror
Another new act and another bouncy electronic album – maybe in a year of deep depression and global problems all we want is something to lift our spirits and take us away from all the drab ness of every day life?
There’s a lot going on in the album but there are some real gems within – as a whole body of work or as a collection of great songs, it works!
This was the soundtrack of my summer and it helped us get motivated to tile the kitchen
5 Bounce – Kelis and Calvin Harris
Not an album but a song and what a floor filler. Kelis is must underestimated in the UK and this track really brought her to the attention of the radio stations and clubs. Apparently “Bounce” is a big hit in places such as XXL and I can understand why. Calvin Harris did a great job to record such an infectious hook and Kelis’ voice resonates through the song like a rocket. It’s amazing that such an infectious track could be written with so few lyrics and reliance on such a big hook. Great stuff.
6 Disco Moment – Bright Light Bright Light
I love Bright Light Bright Light and I cannot wait for his debut album to drop in 2012.
This is a wonderfully crafted pop song and shows of BLx2′s electro and pop majesty.
Of course tongue in cheek it has the wonderful line “You make it so hard”… I am yet to wear the tee shirt
7 Zonoscope – Cut Copy
Sadly I didn’t get to see Cut Copy as planned at the beginning of the year but wasn’t disappointed when I first heard Zonoscope.
As with “Torches” I find myself gravitating back to this album whenever I feel I have nothing to listen to.
It’s an epic album full of high choruses, large string sections and a great mix of electronics and percussion instruments.
8 Funny Looking Angels – Smith and Burrows
My mate Paddy stated that I shouldn’t like this and he’s right but it’s a late comer and thanks to Enda I have become hooked to the album since getting it a fortnight ago. As a modern anti dote to the normal chintzy Christmas album this is truly different.
The covers are brilliantly picked, highlighting the vocal and musical talents of Smith and Burrows.
The original tracks although sometimes political, provide the perfect statement to the UK/London and the world we live in today. This is a beautiful album and very moving… if you only purchase one new album in December it should be this one.
9 The Most Incredible Thing – Pet Shop Boys
The Pet Shop Boys first ever ballet – wonderful to watch and great to listen to.
It does contain lots of the Pets themes of late but in a very new way.
Of course scratch the surface and this is definitely a Pet Shop Boys soundtrack but it’s worth a mention as it’s a phenomenal body of work which Neil and Chris should be very proud of. (So much so the ballet is being performed again next year).
Special note – Adulthood – Cocknbullkid
Cocknbullkid was superb supporting Janelle Monae during 2010 and I was really pleased with the release of the album.
“Yellow” quickly became one of the most played songs this year. Sadly however Cocknbullkids perception of how big a star she was and her decision to take a personal gibe at me on Twitter meant I ended up removing the album and stopped listening to it. For someone who is trying to break into a packed music business it does not make sense to start having a go at innocent fans when they make an ordinary comment about them…
I simply said I wasn’t impressed with the mixes for “Yellow” – meaning that they didn’t do the song justice but she decided to take it personally, got all pre madonna and had a go… Therefore the album gets a mention but I won’t be buying any more of her work. Maybe she should rename herself upherownasskid.
So maybe not a mixed bag this year but a bunch of artists and albums I couldn’t have anticipated at the end of 2010. I bright bunch of new talent, old stalwarts and truly imaginative work.
I wonder what 2012 will have in store (of course I am looking forward to Bright Light Bright Light’s offering)
Why on earth did it take so long for this collaboration – a true piece of musical genius!
Chris Lowe and Jori Hulkkonen cover New Order’s fantastic “Sub Culture”
I wasn’t sure what to make of the proposed soundtrack or the style of dance but I went with an open heart (and a belly full of Pinot!)
At 2 hours and 25 minutes with two intervals this is no small production but the stage, music and set were very inspiring and interesting.
The Pet Shop Boys have always managed to dip in and out of different musical tastes and a lot of their influences were featured in the show. Nods to old works, videos and views are all self evident in their interpretation of the story. Personal favourites included Monkey Elliot (who wasn’t that incredible!).
I honestly was blown away by the production. The speed. The grace. The style of the dancers was breathtaking. I am amazed that there were no clashes of heads etc. The choreography was spot on.
The dancers were all very fit and the roles they play were executed brilliantly.
It is hard to convey how a story like this is only conveyed through dance, I never imagined how you could illustrate sexual abuse, fear, loathing, honour, hate in nothing move that a flick of the write or the hips (there was much more to it I am just generalising!). The set pieces were brilliantly set up and they really did bring the story to life.
If I had to a particular part of the play I would pick 4-5-6 on the clock segment in the middle of the show, purely for it’s comedy and tongue in cheek approach to this particular part of man kind (trying not to give too much away as I know some readers will be seeing the show this week).
It’s a shame this is only running for a week as I think it deserves a bigger audience.
Neil and Chris, it seems, can put their hands to anything and once again it works. Who else in the popular music sphere could pull off such a thing these days?
The soundtrack is very interesting but the show has more content and form to what’s on the double cd pack.
The audience was full of lovvies, theatre types and queers but it seemed that everyone enjoyed the show. Even Janet Street-Porter who was next to us at the bar!
This made for a fun and entertaining evening out and a welcome break from all the chaos at work.
If you get a chance. Try to experience The Most Incredible Thing.