A song for today #32: Arab Strap vs. Miaoux Miaoux


I’m really very cheered by the news that Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton have united again as Arab Strap, and that they are gigging later this year. Not so chuffed that the Glasgow gig has sold out already, but hey.

I got the chance to interview Aidan Moffat the other day – which should be appearing soon on God Is In The TV, and their awesome 1996 debut single ‘The First Big Weekend’ has been remixed by Miaoux Miaoux, who I have also featured on the blog before. Check it out below:

…and while you wait for my Aidan Moffat interview, you can read the interview I did with Malcolm Middleton in 2007.

Update: The Aidan Moffat interview is now live on God Is In The TV

10 from Scotland…aye, tunes!


Edinburgh’s meadows (above)

Having finally managed to sort out the pictures on here (Cheers, Diamond, you know who you are), after a frantic day I thought I’d celebrate with some scottish sounds.

And anyone who thinks it’s just white guys with jangly guitars should listen carefully…

As ever, let me know what you think!

Shamen -‘Jesus loves Amerika.’ mp3

Rustie -‘Mic Of the Year.’ mp3

Shop Assistants -‘Big ‘E’ Power.’ mp3

Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes -‘Grand Hotel.’ mp3

Wake The President -‘Remember Fun?’ mp3

A C Acoustics -‘I Messiah Am Jailer.’ mp3

Long Fin Killie -‘Hands and Lips.’ mp3

Half Cousin -‘The Diary Fire.’ mp3

Malcolm Middleton -‘Red Travellin’ Socks.’ mp3

Mother and the Addicts -‘All In The Mind.’ mp3

Songs For Christmas XVII

I know, it’s the first day this month I haven’t posted, the internet was down yesterday.

Anyway, as anyone who has been anywhere near this blog in the last six weeks should be aware, yesterday was the release of Malcolm Middleton’s bid for the Christmas No.1with ‘We’re All Going To Die.’ So, here’s an acoustic version of the track:

Malcolm Middleton -‘We’re All Going To Die (Acoustic).’ mp3

Malcolm’s old band, Arab Strap, are winding down their website, a year after their last gig, and here’s a Christmassyish track from their website, a live version of ‘To All A Good Night.’

Arab Strap -‘To All A Good Night (live).’ mp3

And there’s a couple of other tracks from Malcom’s website that I’ve linked to for your pleasure here…

Malcolm Middleton -‘Burst Noel (Damien Shackleton version).’ mp3

Malcolm Middleton -‘Cheer Down (Damien Shackleton).’ mp3

Ok, so a different style of Chrsitmas post from some of the others, but this deals with the here and now…

Interview: Malcolm Middleton

Current promotional poster for the tour (below)

Interview: Malcolm Middleton

I think it started a few weeks ago, for me at any rate, when I got an email from Mike over at Manic Pop Thrills. Mike had got a campaign going to get Malcolm Middleton’s latest single ‘We’re all Going To Die’ to that most hallowed of chart positions in the UK, the Christmas No.1.

It seemed a gargantuan task. how could a handful of scottish bloggers take on the might of record execs? But with Mike’s pieces on the matter, a post or two from me on it, and perhaps more effectively, the support of DJs like Steve Lamacq and Radio 1 DJs like Colin Murray, Scott Mills and Edith Bowman has seen considerable progress for the campaign. By the end of November, the odds on it being the Christmas No.1 had been shortened from 1000-1 (the longest odds William Hill had ever given on a Christmas No.1) to 12-1, the fourth favourite.

I was extremely flattered when I found a quote from me on his official website:
” Also important is the fact that the song will be up against X-Factor winners, whoever they will be, and so this is also about the battle for good against evil, socialism versus capitalism, the scottish cult indie musician versus a global terror perpetuated by Louis Walsh and Simon Cowell.”

But has it got out of control? Could it perhaps backfire? Mlacolm has never had a UK Top 40 single before, but could it get ridiculous? I gave Malcolm a ring on Friday morning to find out how it’s going and his plans for 2008.

” Things seem to have gotten out of hand, that it’s snowballed,’ he says, somewhat puzzled at all the attention this far into his career that he’s suddenly had over the last month. ‘But it would be great to have an impact. I’m just worried that it’s going to do more harm than good.”

He’s delighted to have made the daytime playlist at Radio One. Over a decade after Grunge and Britpop challenged the perception in the UK of what could get played at Radio One during the day, artists like Malcolm Middleton were traditionally the preserve of the evening specialist shows, like the Evening Session and the late, great John Peel.

Of course, the release of the single crowns of what has been a very busy year for him. Having moved from long-time record label Chemikal Underground to Fulltime Hobby to issue his third solo album A Brighter Beat, he’s received some fantastic reviews across the blogs and the print media. Not that this translates into huge record sales.

‘I’m cynical of how the media works,’ he says, not unreasonably. ‘I get good reviews but that’s where it ends.’ After all, a single of the week in NME is no more a guarantee of a ‘hit’ record than a handful of bloggers praising the record. Ultimately, the general public have to actually go and buy it.

I ask how he feels 2007 has gone. ‘I think it’s gone okay. To me, A Brighter Beat‘s the best thing I’ve ever done. Part of me worries [that the campaign to get the single to no.1] could do more harm than good. I’m not used to being part of the mainstream.’ I ask him if he thinks the campaign has been good for sales of the album. ‘To be honest,’ he says, ‘I think the album’s success is more down to word of mouth.’

Not wanting to focus on current developments, I ask what he’s up to next year. He’s certainly not going to be letting the grass grow beneath his feet. In February, Fulltime Hobby will issue a new mini-album by him called Sleight Of Heart. The album, which he describes as acoustic, will feature six new songs written by him, and three cover versions: Jackson C. Frank’s ‘Just Like Anything,’ King Creosote’s ‘Margeurita Red,’ and Madonna’s ‘Stay,’ originally from her Like A Virgin LP.

Both in Arab Strap and solo, he’s chosen some interesting cover versions, and this blog got a lot of interest when it featured Arab Strap’s covers of AC/DC’s ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ and Van Halen’s ‘Why Can’t This Be Love?’ Both of these songs were classics in the Heavy Metal genre, but done by Arab Strap they were utterly re-invented; stripped of their bluster, there were songs beneath the pyrotechnics and bluster. ‘It was easier doing cover versions in Arab Strap,’ Malcolm says. ‘Solo, you mustn’t do karaoke versions.’

Speaking of Arab Strap, it was a year ago that the decade long partnership of Malcolm and Aidan Moffat as Arab Strap came to a very amicable end as they went their own separate ways. Have they been in touch recently? ‘Oh yeah, Aidan’s still a mate.’ What does he think of A Brighter Beat? ‘It’s a bit over-produced for him!’ Perhaps surprisingly, though, he hasn’t spoken to Aidan about the current campaign for the single, as he’s too embarassed about it.

Still, whilst he doesn’t think the single’s going to go Top 40, he seems to be touched by the attention he’s receiving and thanks me for the coverage. He deserves it; but let us hope that whether the single reaches no.1 or 101 that it will bring him to a wider portion of the listening public.

Malcolm Middleton -‘Stay Close Sit Tight.’ mp3

The single ‘We’re All Going To Die’ will be available on iTunes from December 10. It will be available from other download services from December 17, and on limited 7″ vinyl. To be eligible for the chart, you will need to buy it on December 17 onwards.

Malcolm Middleton’s official website is here and his mySpace is here

Update: Malcolm Middleton

This is from the NME website today:

” BBC Radio 1 heavyweights Colin Murray, Scott Mills and Edith Bowman are all backing former Arab Strap star Malcolm Middleton’s bid for the UK’s Christmas Number One single.

And now bookmakers William Hill has decided to slash their original odds on the single ‘We’re All Going To Die’ from 1,000/1 to 500/1.

Murray said of the track: “Were the intelligentsia … we don’t need to be crass about getting Malcolm Middleton to Number One. Do you remember when Belle & Sebastian won a Brit Award? That’s the route I want to take.

“Go ahead and sign up to Malcolm’s MySpace, lets start getting an idea of how many people are going to buy this beautiful record.”

Mills said on air before playing the song: “Colin has decided what he wants to be Xmas Number One this year and I am in total agreement with him. It’s a little bit different, saves ‘The X Factor’ from being Number One again this year.”

This is progress, people! We can do it. It’s started in bloggerland, now the Nation’s DJs are taking up the cause too!

However, when we are successful, anyone who whines that they don’t like it now he’s successful…BE QUIET. If you’re on our side you should rejoice if we get it there. Remember: even Top five is a victory for us; not getting the X-Factor pap to no.1 is a serious blow to the sinister types trying to manipulate the general public through the likes of X-Factor. A number one hit is a win for us against THE MAN.

It is of course from one of the albums of the year, A Brighter Beat, the title track which is here:

Malcolm Middleton -‘A Brighter Beat.’ mp3

‘We’re All Going To Die’ is out on December 17 on download services only. Remember: 79p on iTunes or wherever you download your music from is a step towards victory.

Malcolm’s MySpace is here and his website is here

The Battle for the Christmas Number one is Go!

OK, folks, listen up.

Yesterday evening, I received an email from Mike at Manic Pop Thrills. Mike is getting a campaign going to get Malcolm Middleton’s third release from the A Brighter Beat album to no.1. Most importantly, the Christmas no.1.

The single will be released on December 17, and available as a digital download -which means it can be bought from iTunes for 79p.

Oh yes…did I mention the single’s name? it’s called ‘We’re All Going To Die.’

Before anyone starts on the ‘But people won’t buy a sad record at Christmas, let alone get it to No.1’ I would like to point out that in 1995, the Christmas no.1 was ‘Earth Song’ by Michael Jackson, and in 2003 it was ‘Mad World’ from Gary Jules. Neither of which were very upbeat, were they? And the Malcolm Middleton song is at least jaunty and upbeat (musically!), and a great song.

Also important is the fact that the song will be up against X-Factor winners, whoever they will be, and so this is also about the battle for good against evil, socialism versus capitalism, the scottish cult indie musician versus a global terror perpetuated by Louis Walsh and Simon Cowell.

Apparently it may also be up against a release by Led Zeppelin. Now, Zep were great, but, let’s face it, if the Wedding Present still refuse to do encores in 2007, then Page and Plant and Jones should still be refusing to do singles in 2007. No sell out!

The odds at the bookies are 1000-1 on ‘We’re All Going To Die’ getting to no.1 for Christmas. So let’s mess with a few heads…
To paraphrase Bill Nighy’s character in Love, Actually: ‘Wouldn’t it be great if this year the Christmas no.1 wasn’t some muppets that have won a TV ‘Talent’ show or some aging rockers on their comeback, but a guy from Falkirk who deserves far more recognition than from just bloggers and indie kids?’

And spread the word. Today is November 8, so we have about five weeks.

Let’s get going.

To whet your appetite, here are some Malcolm Middleton tracks:

From A Brighter Beat

Malcolm Middleton -‘A Brighter Beat.’ mp3 (via Yousendit)

Malcolm Middleton -‘Fuck it, I Love You.’ mp3 (via Yousendit)

Malcolm Middleton -‘Beep Beep, Love You.’ mp3 (via Yousendit) (for people not grown up enough to cope with swearing)

From Into The Woods

Malcolm Middleton -‘Beak My Heart.’ mp3 (via Yousendit)

From 5:14 Fluoxytine Seagull Alcohol John Nicotine

Malcolm Middleton -‘Devil and the Angel.’ mp3 (Via Yousendit)

Malcolm Middleton’s site is here and his Myspace is here, you can hear the single at the latter.

Ten more!

Today when I got up, I received a very nice email from Matthew at Song, By Toad saying that he had got me listed at the Hype Machine. Thank you, sir, maybe people will actually read this blog now!

Anyway, just fancied posting some stuff I like, with no particular theme. Though it goes without saying: if you like what you hear, go and buy it!

Blur-‘Popscene.’ mp3 (Time this was available properly, guys)

Dizzee Rascal -‘Wannabe (feat Lily allen).’ mp3 (For everyone who is fed up with wannabe gangsters who just do not get it.)

Calexico -‘The Ballad Of Cable Hogue.’ mp3 (Still one of my favourite tracks of the decade)

Adam and the Ants-‘Cartrouble.’ mp3 (Why do so many Ants compilations leave off the pre Kings of the Wild Frontier stuff?)

Malcolm Middleton -‘A Brighter Beat.’ mp3
(A very serious contender for both album and single of the year).

Ghostface Killah featuring Amy Winehouse -‘You Know I’m No Good.’ mp3 (Well, actually i still love your music, Amy, but for God’s sake, PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER).

Roisin Murphy -‘Overpowered.’ mp3 (Ace solo track from former Moloko frontwoman)

The Dream Academy -‘Life In A Northern Town.’ mp3 (Still gorgeous, all these years later…)

Bob Marley -‘Redemption Song.’ mp3 (Some things are better left unsaid)

Roll Deep -‘Celebrate(Instrumental).’ mp3 (GRIME rules over Gangsta, anyday)