Basement Jaxx feat. Sam Sparro - Feelings Gone

Basement Jaxx invited Sam Sparro to sing on the track Feelings Gone for their sixth studio album Scars. Kelis, Yoko Ono and Santigold also appear on the new record.

I love the little puppet theme in the video to Feelings Gone. Felix and Simon are looking fresh, the atmosphere is like a Thunderbirds Christmas party and they are clearly not taking things too seriously. The song itself is a little bit 'Bob Sinclar Love Generation' with an overall sound that is perhaps too preachy for me. This time the boys take a bit of their tropical trippiness (circa Jus 1 Kiss), and add a bit of their micro-trademark movie-soundtrack-strings-thEng (circa If I Ever Recover on Kish Kash). The whole product is very Basement Jaxx esque and it's nice to see them back on music television.

As you can see, Sam Sparro is blond - shock horror! (maybe he did it for a night out with Patrick Wolf, or a Bel Ami party in Oz, who knows) He’s looking good and it’s great to see him back too, although a bit of an air brush in post-production might have been better than a bucket of foundation in the video. Also, is it just me or has he been working out? His neck’s looking quite broad. Personally I preferred the skinny with a dark fringe Sam Sparro that danced erotically in a multistory car park. But you know what gay popstars are like, donning a new image for each project, like Robbie Williams.

Basement Jaxx have always had a very varied and complex fan base. Some insist that their first studio album Remedy is the only one worth listening to, when they were financially poor and therefore edgy and enforcing. Others slate Kish Kash for being too urban – when in actuality it was a return to the darker taste of Remedy, following the mainstream extravaganza of Rooty.

Mainstream fans have been tested too though in recent years, after Crazy Itch Radio was a chart flop in 2007, offering only one successful single Hush Boy. Although diehard ‘Atlantic Jaxx’ fans adored the record for its theatricality and determined experimentation with latin and classical genres.

Some BJ fans were deterred a little by Basement Jaxx: The Singles in 2005, an uneventful greatest hits which was inevitable but a little unimaginative, not to mention completely lacking of album artwork from Felix. The collection built a bit of a Berlin wall across BJ city. While the mainstream public rejoiced in having a straightforward hits factory CD that could take permanent residency in their car stereo, some dedicated fans felt deserted. Hopefully Scars can turn this divide around, uniting all Basement Jaxx listeners.

Here’s a Jack of Hearts Top 5 Basement Jaxx collaborations:

1. Kish Kash with Siouxsie Sioux

2. Romeo with Kele Le Roc

3. Lucky Star with Dizzee Rascal

4. Lights Go Down with Linda Lewis and Lily Allen

5. Phoenix (Remix) for Daft Punk

www.basementjaxx.com

Hardly Golden Times: The Guardian Now Costs One Pound

Tanya Gold in G2 is like the extra whipped cream and caramel shot on a Starbucks latte. In my opinion, aside from showcasing Germaine Greer's genius, Tanya Gold is currently the Guardian's strongest asset.


Has the Guardian endangered itself by pushing up its weekday price by 10p? The newspaper, which now costs one whole shiny pound during the week, certainly offers some of Britain's best news coverage. Although the main reason I buy the publication is for its sharp and modern-to-the-minute-funny writers in G2.


I got hooked on the Guardian while an undergraduate at Leeds, where it costs a rock-bottom 25p in the student union. In fact, there were usually at least four copies on the coffee table in the student newspaper office.... so even the slim-line quarter-pounder price was unnecessary to fork out.


Today however, as a poor and prosperous graduate, paying a pound a day suddenly seems like a lot of money for Hadley's upbeat and Socratic fashion Q&A sessions.


If I were to buy the Guardian every day now, it would cost me more than my phone contract and my broadband combined.


Talking of which, the Guardian can be read for free online, but let's not go into that debate again.


Admittedly, a 10% cover price increase from 90p to 100p is hardly going to put me on the poverty line. I didn't exactly enjoy a daily shopping spree with my change from the newsagent each morning. But the idealogical difference is quite significant.


One pound.


Hmm.


It's like the difference in Starbucks between tall, grande and fucking expensive: Just a few pence, but an eyesore nevertheless. Still, so long as a good chunk of my neat and tidy pound is going to Tanya Gold, then I am not too dishevelled. Tanya Gold in G2 is like the extra whipped cream and caramel shot on a Starbucks latte. In my opinion, aside from showcasing Germaine Greer's genius, Tanya Gold is currently the Guardian's strongest asset.


It is surely only a matter of months before the Guardian packs in its pages and lives happily ever after as an online newspaper. Okay, maybe a little longer than months. But the Guardian is increasingly an online affair. Many of my friends save their cash for their monthly magazine fixes, and simply click through the Guardian on their laptop.


There are three types of people who cannot live without a paper copy of a newspaper: Manual labourers, aristocrats who take afternoon tea in the garden, and poets. Only the latter read the Guardian and sadly the amount of poets who wouldn't skinny dip in the Thames for 10p can be counted on one gloved hand.


The only thing holding me back from becoming a fully-converted online reader is my love for the Guardian's (ever-thinning) Media supplement on a Monday. Where else is Annie Leibovitz taken seriously? I like Sam Wollaston's contribution to G2 on a Monday too, his TV criticism is as good quality as Private Eye's or even that of Radio Times.


I also buy a paper copy of the Guardian because I don't want to be one of those t**ts who takes their Apple notebook into a coffee shop and then sits cross-legged trying to hide their hard-on as they audibly gape over Charlie Brooker's baldingly boring cynicism.


Tanya's wit is worth the hard Gold pound that the Guardian are now asking for, but who else is worth the extra 10p? Is the new price a bad move in the long run? Why can’t Brooker bail the Guardian out with his new Ross-like TV riches?


I like the Guardian, but I cannot help feeling that it doesn’t like me. I’m sure they loathe punishing the customer for their struggles and grievances in the media playground. Still. Charity starts online. One more price increase and (in the episodical words of Deborah Meaden) I'm Out!


Even if Decca Aitkenhead gets an interview with Kate Bush.

Calvin Harris: Ready For The Cheap End

He didn’t create disco. He didn’t invent novelty sunglasses. He definitely didn’t take singing lessons at school. But for three solid summers, Calvin Harris has made some very high quality pop. The keyboard melodies of Mr. Harris are so catchtastic and ecstatic, kids just don’t need drugs anymore. He’s definitely on track for an OBE.
***
Of course the major Achilles heel of Chazza is that he can't really sing. When singing live Calvatron sounds like a gnome with a cold and no amount of Fatboy Slim esque crowd-pleasing arm gestures can hide that. The second weakness of Calcutta is his stage presence which, at best, is that of a man standing in a cash machine queue, and at worst, that of the guy asking people in the cash machine queue if they can spare 40p. Calgon was certainly well casted in the Dance Wiv Me video as a lacklustre bartender.

Which brings The Jack of Hearts onto the less explored limb of Calvinist criticism which will be the main focus of today – the utterly boring (bordering chauvenistic) music video genre that he is for some reason perpetuating.

Ready For The Weekend is a fantastic summer chooon, it’s boppy and ditty and makes you snap your pincers like an extra in The Little Mermaid. The ditty line about new shoes is a well-chosen borrowing of simple lyrical genius, and the tempo is just perfect for a summery night out. Okay, Mary Pearce’s gospelesqe vocals should have been a Beyonce collaboration to make this song go down in pop history, but nobody’s perfect, and Mary does a fine warbling job.

The video, however, is just so, SO, generic. It’s the simulacrum of a dance compilation box set advert, with vacuous and instantly forgettable models poking about in a kaleidoscopic fashion. FHM’s Lauren Pope stands about flaunting her hard plastic body, while her plastic disc prop becomes a portal that depicts the glum-faced hair-flattening Calvstro himself.

The cyclic computer-generated nature of this video is clearly intended for the flatscreens of Costa del Sol bars, and it is the drunk, semi-attentive louts who cram such bars who the makers of Calvador’s new video have borne in mind. The formula of the dire propaganda piece is as follows:

>>> hot girl licking her lips
>>> calvin "download me now" harris
>>> close-up of hotter girl
>>> calvin "you need me as your ringtone" harris
>>> three hots girls
>>> calvin "look out for these sunglasses on a CD in your supermarket and buy it" harris

Now I remember an exciting time, ten years ago, when marginal arthouse music video directors pushed into the mainstream triumphantly. Spike Jonze, Sophie Muller, Chris Cunningham and Michel Gondry all became household names. The Top 10 video chart was a showcase of innovation, humour and high art. From Hammer & Tongs’ Coffee & TV to Christopher Walken in Weapon of Choice… it was an incredibly strong time for MTV. A time when the second tier of music channels didn't even exist. It's no wonder MTV has given up doing what it says on the tin, since so many of today's music videos are uber plain.

Videos like Ready For The Weekend are sadly so mundane that, although aired incessantly for one summer, they will very rapidly sink into the depths of the unseen, and rightly so.

But why doesn’t Calv see this? Is he quite happy to know that nobody will give a shit about his music videos this time next year? While the designer-stubble pop mogul is busy pretending to himself that he is reinventing disco, he is simultaneously guilty of manslaughtering the music video genre.


Amendment: October 2010: The track 'Flashback' by Calvin Harris is fantastic and the video for it is of a much higher quality with some really interesting shots and footage:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saw1w-8ODKM

I also feel affectionately for Calvin having discovered this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvxL4Jcqoc0 !!!

Turner Prize 2009: And The Winner Is…

Another year and another Turner prize, just where does the time go? Despite being a British award, and now only awarded to artists under 50 years old, winning a Turner prize is still like winning Best Film at the Oscars. Okay, £20.000 doesn’t go a long way these days, but winning the Turner prize allows an artist to quadruple the price of their work, secure major exhibitions, find their own spot in artist heaven, have a free dinner or two cooked by Nigella Lawson, and of course they can sell a shit load to Charles Saatchi if he doesn’t already own it all.

Now in its 25th year, the nominees are Enrico David, Roger Hiorns, Lucy Skaer and Richard Wright. And just for you Jack of Hearts has written a quick lowdown, covering differing perspectives, that will hopefully give you a kick start in forming your opinion of the infamous competition.

Enrico David (aged 43)
Painting / Drawing

What he does: Camp and theatrical figures (pictured below), often embroidered, with blank block-colour backgrounds, reminiscent of costume design textbooks. His cuddly and cute materials often present a strange contrast against the svelte and rather sexualised postures of his subjects.
A critic’s view: “The force of structural consideration that David’s words implies seems to be absent from a flimsily realised work.” – The List
A cynic’s view: A bit like the pictures you would see in the toilets of a Stratford-upon-Avon grill house.
Jack of Heart’s nutshell: Tasteful in all senses, but with a twist.

Roger Hiorns (aged 34)
Installation

What he does: Experiments with fluids, substances and chemicals. Successfully magnetised a lot of media attention for his 2008 installation Seizure, in which a Southwark council flat was filled with copper sulphate crystals (pictured above). The Emerald City meets Jobseeker’s allowance.
A critic’s view: “An artist of emissions, of excesses, of the uncontrollable” – Adrian Searle, art critic at The Guardian.
A cynic’s view: Oh my, what a mess he’s made. Call the contract cleaners immediately! Let’s hope Mr. Muscle does the art we hate.
Jack of Heart’s nutshell: Blue da-ba-dee, the quirkiest of this year’s bunch.

Lucy Skaer (aged 34)
Drawing / Sculpture / Film / Anything really

What she does: Creates largely graphite-based drawings that examine trauma, tragedy and biology, often sourcing and incorporating photojournalism. Newspaper photos, images from books and even internet images are an inspiration. She once placed moth pupae in a courtroom hoping that they’d hatch during a trial.
A critic’s view: “At play here is our familiarity with the compositional structure of Venn diagrams, heraldry, oriental porcelain design and Rorsach ink blots.” – Scottish Arts Council
A cynic’s view: I’m sure this is all very interesting but I can’t be arsed to engage with it.
Jack of Heart’s nutshell: Media, crime, death and commerce.

Richard Wright (aged 49)
Wall paintings

What he does: Well, wall paintings, mainly. Large paintings that are incredibly detailed and challenge the commerciality of art. Wright, like Skaer, is a Glasgow-based artist, making it a very Scottish prize this year. History, typography and the physical space of the gallery all play a profound role in his work.
A critic’s view: “Wright has developed his own language through painting within which a wide spectrum of motifs and shapes create rhythms and phases” – Gagosian Gallery press release.
A cynic’s view: Another brick in the wall, didn’t Keith Tyson nail this genre a little while ago?
Jack of Heart’s nutshell: What they now call a “modern fresco painter”, but nothing special.


Who do you think might win? Do you have a favourite Turner prize winner of the past? I loved Vong Phaophanit’s 1993 nomination, although he was overtaken at the last hurdle by the famous Rachel Whiteread, (whose winning work has since enjoyed appearing on Becks’ beer stickers!). Gilbert & George are another Turner prize classic, currently a big visual inspiration to the Pet Shop Boys’ tour.

Fiona Banner is perhaps my least favourite Turner Prize nominee. As much as I love pornographic transcripts, I just can't get over how irritating her thumbnail portrait is in Taschen's 'Art Now' book.

The Turner Prize 2009 will be on display at Tate Britain in London from October 6th

http://www.tate.org.uk/britain/turnerprize/

Below: 'Stick of Rock', 1999, by David Enrico. Wool on dyed canvas. 300 x 240 cm.