M.I.A – not missing in action!


M.I.A. seems to have been ready to drop her fourth album, Matangi for ages. However, it looks like it will be released on November 3.

There’s been various rumours about her and the record company not seeing eye to eye on the release. Whatever the reasons, the bits of music that have filtered through are great. This is the latest track to do the rounds, which sanples both Carly Simon’s ‘Why’ and blur’s ‘Tender.’

I’ve posted this before, the single from earlier this year ‘Bring The Noize.’ At the time I wrote: ‘It’s incendiary, and rather like sticking your fingers in a plug. I was half asleep when I pressed play, it’s better than a shot of double espresso to the brain…’

The return of M.I.A.


Whilst we’re still waiting for the new, fourth album from M.I.A., Matangi (which seems to have taken almost as long as Azealia Banks’ Broke With Expensive Taste), she has finally released a new single ‘Bring The Noize.’

It’s incendiary, and rather like sticking your fingers in a plug. I was half asleep when I pressed play, it’s better than a shot of double espresso to the brain…

A very welcome return. It sounds like the album has been difficult – but if this is a taste of what it’s like, then it would seem it has been worth the wait. It’s currently rumoured to be out in July.

This is an eight minute preview of the album

Album Review – M.I.A.


M.I.A. ‘ /\/\ /\ Y /\’ (XL)

Following on from 2005’s astounding debut Arular and 2007’s fantatsic Kala, Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam returns with an amazing third album.

The first thing to say is that anyone who was lulled into M.I.A.’s world by the awesome ‘Paper Planes’ single, built around the riff from the Clash’s ‘Straight To Hell’ should not expect this record to be comprised of similar sounding tracks. The first single to be released from the album ‘Born Free’, with its’ accompanying video which was pulled by YouTube for graphic violence remains one of the most starting and best tracks to be released so far this year. It’s a controversial video that’s very much in your face and it’s an astonishing song, built around the riff from Suicide’s ‘Ghostrider’ from their seminal 1977 debut. Suicide were too much for many of the punk audiences and this is typical of how several years into her career M.I.A. is on her own terms and still marching to her own tunes.

That’s not to say that M.I.A. is going to be away from the airwaves -‘XXXO’ is a tune that Lady GaGa or La Roux would kill for. The thng about M.I.A. is that she has the appeal and approach to genuinely distort and subvert the mainstream, perhaps in the way that Depeche Mode took the skewed take on the world of bands like Throbbing Gristle and into the top ten and the world’s stadia. You can, after all, surround the houses of parliament, or you can storm it by subversion.

There are certainly lyrics on here that will be deemed ‘NSFW’ (‘Not Safe For Work.’ Keep up). On ‘Steppin’ Up’ – a record that features a drill to, er, smashing effect M.I.A. informs us ‘You know who I am/I run this fucking club.’ Several times. This is an album that mixes hip-hop with electronica, as before, but with such a sonic ferocity that few albums could match this. Think the aforementioned Suicide debut or Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation Of Million To Hold Us Back.

Lightning strikes for a third time on this album. M.I.A’s taking absolutely no prisoners and whilst I was unsure on my first listen I’m absolutely smitten on my third. Don’t be fooled by the magazine covers and chart positions, this lady has lost none of her firepower and I suspect if she’d ever appeared on a TV show with Russell Harty he would not dare have ignored her. Chances are, he can’t from the grave either…


M.I.A.’s website/M.I.A.’s myspace

Stream the album here

This isn’t the official video but you can hear the track in its’ glory here.

and if you still haven’t seen it, that controversial ‘Born Free’ video in full…

M.I.A, Born Free from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.

By the way, M.I.A.’s birthday is today (July 17). Happy Birthday!

2010…so far


Me on the decks at Pin Ups, Glasgow

It’s been a great start to the year, musically, and I’ve been trying to hear as much stuff as I possibly can. There’s been some wonderful stuff, some not so good stuff -and no doubt some stuff that I’ll rant about, and yet possibly even change my mind about.

So what’s floated my boat this year so far? Well, I’ve really, really loved the latest eagleowl EP Into The Fold, the closing track ‘No Conjunction’ is without a doubt my song of the year so far. I’ve also been knocked for six by Delorean’s latest album, Subiza, and the Call to Mind EP, all of which got five stars here.

Sure, the scots have had some excellent albums so far this year, what with the sophomore from Meursault, All Creatures Will Make Merry, and debuts from Kid Canaveral and Mitchell Museum. To say nothing of a slew of excellent releases from the likes of Burnt Island, The Scottish Enlightenment, Cancel the astronauts and Fear the Fives.

Further afield, I’ve been loving The Drums, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Dum Dum Girls and the Soft Pack, and the Futureheads have returned with what is clearly their best record since their debut. It’s not all been indie round these parts, though, as you’ll see when I post my review of the latest M.I.A. album, and releases from Konono No.1, Four Tet and Yeasayer have also kept their place around here. I was less than impressed by latest offerings from the likes of The New Pornographers and The National, though…

There’s still another six months left to go, of course, but it’s been great, so far…

Delorean -‘Stay Close.’ mp3

Dum Dum Girls -‘Jail La La.’ mp3

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti -‘Round and Round.’ mp3

Meursault -‘Crank resolutions.’ mp3

The Drums -‘Let’s Go Surfing.’ mp3

Soft Pack -‘C’mon.’ mp3

Yeasayer -‘O.N.E.’ mp3

M.I.A, Born Free from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.

The return of M.I.A.


M.I.A. was responsible for two the the best albums of the last decade, in Arular and Kala. She’s set to release her third, self-titled album in the next couple of months and the first track to do the rounds is nothing less than astonishing.

‘Born Free’ which can be streamed at her myspace is a fast and furious track (think almost as fast as ‘Charly’ by The Prodigy) and is built upon ‘Ghostrider,’ the opening track from Suicide’s eponymous 1977 album.

And as for the in your face video for the song…let’s just say that all of a sudden, Chris Cunningham’s work with the likes of the Aphex Twin seems a little tame, compared to this mini-film by Romain Gavras.

One of the tracks of the year, take it from me.

‘Born Free’ is out now, the album follows on June 29.

It may be a Monday…but it’s warm and I’m on holiday

Oh yes, oh yay.

So, why the picture of the hawk at the top of the page?

Well, that is the cover art for the new album from Mogwai which will be out on the fourth week of september (I can’t wait!). This track, ‘The Sun Smells Too Loud’ is taken from the Matador web page. This is track is playing as I write. I know it may well have been doing the rounds of the blogs for the last few weeks, but I hadn’t heard it, so I guess there’s a chance that you may not have done either. It’s already on the best of 2008 playlist on my iPod, and I bet John Peel would have loved it had he been here. *Sigh* This song is actually quite summery -and I mean that as a compliment.

Mogwai -‘The Sun Smells Too Loud.’ mp3

Meanwhile, before I went away on holiday, I was emailed this rather fine remix of my favourite M.I.A. track. As long-term listeners should know, I think this woman is cool as, and I think this remix rocks too. (Just in case you care, the original is the second on my car tape, sandwiched between Sons & Daughters and Pavement.)

M.I.A. -‘Bucky Done Gun (Tenzin remix).’ mp3

Meanwhile, having posted the Arcade Fire version of this song yesterday, thanks to David for emailing me the Belle and Sebastian version. It’s cool too. My French isn’t sufficiently up to speed to be able to pick any holes in this. Just enjoy it for what it is…

Belle & Sebastian -‘Poupee De Cire.’ mp3

Finally, I know next to nothing about this track, but it’s a quality dance tune, with hints of Cut Copy, Silicone Soul and New Order -any ideas?

Ready Aim Fire -‘So Fine.’ mp3

Hope you’re having a good day, wherever you may be…

Oh, roll on the summer

(MIA -a likely candidate for 17 Seconds’ Top Fifty Albums of 2007)

It’s November in Edinburgh, the shops are already getting Christmasy, and I’m very envious of any animal that gets to hibernate. Hey ho…

Anyway, how about some sounds for you? I’m trying to work out what my end of year best of list will include. It’s likely to be as last year with a festive fifty of tracks and this year more than just a top ten of albums. And then, of course, how do you decide how 43 is better than 44? The list -which is my personal list, rather than any fashionistas’, is likely to include Liars, Rihanna, Malcolm Middleton, PJ Harvey, Emma Pollock, The Shins, and Battles, amongst many others. It is probably unlikely to feature the latest albums by Hard-Fi or Low (which I looked forward to, then couldn’t get into).

These have also cheered up 17 Seconds Towers of late:

Bricolage -‘The Waltzers.’ mp3

Maximo Park -‘Girls Who Play Guitars.’ mp3

Sister Vanilla -‘Can’t Stop The Rock.’ mp3

The Wombats -‘Let’s Dance To Joy Division.’ mp3

It may be worth letting any newcomers know that it certainly isn’t just indieindieindie round these parts though:

Wiley -‘5050.’ mp3

MIA -‘Pickle Down The River.’ mp3

As always, these will be up for a week only (less if my bandwith gets exceeded). If you like the artists involved, please support them by buying their music, going to gigs and helping spread the word.

Album Review: M.I.A.

Album Review -M.I.A ‘Kala.’ (XL Recordings)

In 2005, M.I.A released her debut album Arular. It was an album that demanded attention, uncompromising yet catchy, hard as nails, yet utterly irresisitible. Hell, even the skits on the record were worth it. Named after her Dad, too.

And two years later, she delivers a second album Kala, named after her Mum, that shows she hans’t stood still at all. She continues to draw on her Sri Lankan heritage to deliver cooler than thou raps, yet this album is truely world music, recorded across three continents and mixing in some fantastic samples that include didgeridoos, indian pop, and Jonathan Richman and the Clash.

‘Jimmy’ could get any disco moving, and ‘Mango Pickle Down River’ reminds us that there’s indigenous music being produced in Australia that deserves a bigger hearing. From the opener ‘Bamboo banga’ to the closing ‘Come Around’ featuring producer du jour Timbaland, this is one of the most essential albums you will hear this year.


M.I.A. -‘Bamboo Banga.’ mp3

M.I.A. -‘Mango Pickle Down River (withthe Wilcannia Mob).’ mp3