Sister Ray – Soon To Be Gone?

Sister Ray - End of an Indpendent Era?

Sister Ray - End of an Indpendent Era?

Another of London’s rare independent record shops is feeling the one-two punch of illegal downloads and the credit crunch…  Sister Ray this week announced that it was heading into administration. Since the news washed in a few days ago I’ve been trying to pin down why exactly it saddens me to such an extent. I mean, there’s bigger indie shops in London (Rough Trade East), HMV and subsidiary Fopp have reduced their vinyl prices to more or less compete, and a fuller range is stocked by online funboys Norman and Boomkat

I guess it’s the ever diminishing experience of being surrounded by good music, and people who love good music. Not that I ever spoke to many people in there, I once recommended a chap TV On The Radio’s Desperate Youth And Bloodthirsty Babes as he had a crisis of confidence at the counter but that’s about it. I have, however, got some of my most treasured records from there. It always annoys and astonishes my girlfriend how I will take a good look in the windows of Sister Ray before heading into it’s dark and familiar interior, only to reap more frustration in the haphazard way I’d take to browsing their racks.

Of course the store is not yet bound for closure, the owner is hopeful that the store’s reputation will find it speedy investment. Nor is it perfect, their second hand selection is limited and often over-priced. The offers are never that extensive or special. The pricing is average. But, and it is a big but, they were independent. Run by folks who value selection and variation over profit lines and charts. They’ll be a big miss for me, the particular location having stared at me since 1995 and the cover of Oasis’ (What’s The Story) Morning Glory, the shop hosted my first London record shopping visits when I moved there in late-2001. Hopefully they’ll manage to pull it out of the fire – it’s a long way over to Rough Trade!

Velvet Underground – Sister Ray
Joy Division – Sister Ray (Live)


Coldplay Announce UK Tour


So, Coldplay are getting round to touring their Ricky Martin inspired fourth LP, Viva La Vida. Whilst this has been getting a kicking in most places, the lead single got a 2/5 in the Observer Music Monthly for example, they are still a huge live draw. Arenas it is then!

The tour runs:
Birmingham NIA: December 1-2
Glasgow SECC: December 5-6
Sheffield Arena: December 7
Liverpool Echo Arena: December 10
Manchester MEN Arena: December 11-12
London O2: December 14-15

Tickets on sale, at vastly inflated, making poverty for Coldplay history, prices on Friday, 9am.

Plenty of space in there for extra dates, spinning this out for longer than needed or necessary.

Coldplay – Viva La Vida
Coldplay – Violet Hill (Nikolai Levey’s Floating in Space Remix)
Coldplay – A Spell A Rebel Yell

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Fridays FTW #6

I write this as the results of the London Mayoral contest are announced, so this week’s FTW is colour-coded for the main parties!

Coldplay – Politick
Yes, there are other elections taking place in the world. I’m looking at you the USA. Whereas the race for the Whitehouse is undoubtedly more important for the planet, I live in London and to be honest this vote will affect my day to day life much more. There is also the Zimbabwe controvesy; something that I have paid more attention to than the Democrat race over the pond. So here we are: politics!

New Order – Blue Monday
As I write, it seems more and more likely that come Monday, London will be a Conservative-run city. This follows eight years of Ken Livingston, a man who introduced bendy buses, backed the 2012 Olympics and oversaw the introduction of our Oyster card. He’s been in charge a year longer than I’ve even been here. Quite how everything changes in roughly ten minutes time, I’m not sure. If Boris Johnson wins, I hope he backs up some of the things he has promised: less crime, better transport, and creating a healthier London.

Born Ruffians – Red Elephant
For my voting life Labour have been the party in power. Their victory in 1997 was almost revolutionary, a true landslide. Elephantine, even. They even created the post of London Mayor. There is no doubt that Ken Livingstone has done good things for London, and he has a real passion for the city: certainly more than Boris. But there are so many things in this city that could be better: it could be safer, it certainly could be friendlier, it needs to be healthier. It is time for someone else to have a crack.

Stereolab – Fiery Yellow
The Liberal Democrats. Once the powerhouse of British politics, the modern party has sought to transform British politics to a three-way battle. So far, they remain steadfastly third in general, but over yesterday’s council elections they won a greater percentage than Labour. For me they are a party of great names: Vince Cable, Lembit Opik, Menzies Campbell, but little personality.  

Goldfrapp – Crystalline Green
In an ideal world, the Green party could form an effective political power in the UK. Unfortunately, London is far from an ideal world.

That’s enough of politics I guess. Back to the music next post, I promise.

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In Celebration of St George’s Day

Today England celebrates it’s national holiday, the traditional feast day of its patron saint George. You wouldn’t know it, for most this is simply a non-event. There’s no parade like Chinese New Year, no mass revelling like St Patricks, no national fervour like 4th July. The simple fact is, that most folk see being English as nothing to be proud of. Here at WoW, that fact is something we flatly don’t agree with.

To celebrate, I’m going to share some of the songs that evoke memories of England for me. Musically, England has a vast and rich heritage. Through from the Beatles and the Stones, Sex Pistols and Roxy Music, New Order and Aphex Twin: England’s audible past is fascinating, groundbreaking and successful.

So below are the songs that summon up the greatest my nation has to offer: romantic sunsets in London, to shabby council housing in Sheffield. Politics of the state, affairs of the heart and everything in between. These are the songs that, to me, are England.

Kinks – Waterloo Sunset
Pulp – Disco 2000
Billy Bragg – A New England
Blur – This Is A Low
Human League – Don’t You Want Me?

Photo: Tricky

Fridays’ FTW #2

This week’s Friday hotties are brought to you on Sunday, in official British Summer Time! 

Lupe Fiasco – Superstar
Caught this on Radio 1’s 1Xtra live thing, and I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t someone completely shit. Catchy as syphilis.

Black Kids – I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You
Roll up, roll up, come see the hype in all it’s glory: Black Kids are here! Decent enough indiepop strumathon, but I just can’t see through the fog of acclaim. A sprinkling of the ‘Spree, a dash of Los Campesinos!, mix well with Florida sunshine and there’s a cocktail ideal for mid-afternoon festival sets, sunshine or not.

Hot Chip – Hold On
A right grower from the Chip’s latest LP Made In The Dark. Although I wasn’t massively enamoured with the record to begin with, I’ve found it difficult to shake this track from my mind following the belting performance on Jools Holland. For any song to still be considered good when it rhymes hell with caramel has got to be going some. Watch the video for some supreme keyboard humping from Joe Goddard…

Saint Etienne – Shower Scene
Another playlist perennial, from the maligned Finisterre LP, bumped up in the order this week. Prime example of what Saint Etienne do best, gorgeous synth pop.

Girls Aloud – Can’t Speak French
Pop music. It’s great, isn’t it? I hate the whole debate whether its ironically good, or plain good. There is great talent behind crafting three minute pop masterpieces, and this group have a pretty enviable track record in pop tunes. This is the latest in their conveyor belt.

Athur C. Clarke – Songs About Space

Arthur C. Clarke (1917 – 2008)
One of science fiction’s brightest luminaries rotates slowly towards the light at the end of the tunnel today, Arthur C Clarke passing away in his home in Sri Lanka this morning. Obviously most famous for his novel The Sentinel, transformed for film into the lauded 2001: A Space Odyssey. Upon reading about Clarke this morning, I discovered many tangents between his life and mine. Clarke was born on December 16, as was I. He studied at King’s College London, as did I. He was chairman of the British Interplanetary Society, whose office is across the road from mine, and whose bin padge adorns my monitor. Small coincidences that spurred me to write this post, and accompany it with some songs about space. I guess there is something about the cosmos that inspires art of all forms. As a concept it is pure fiction and fantasy: an infinite blank canvas for creatives to work their magic. Clarke leaves this world with stories of higher intelligence, futures yet to be realised, robots ruling humans. A true literary giant passes. R.I.P.