tremble clef

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Benjamin Diamond, "Let's Get High" (2005)

When the possibility of my going to Nottingham for some business first arose, the first thing I did, naturally enough, was get on the interwebs to google the city...'s CD stores. Why, they have a Select-A-Disc, and a Fopp. That's good enough; I'm a cheap date. One more glass of wine and even the city's HMVs and Virgins will look fetching.

I got to Nottingham on Tuesday morning. It was a little too early to check in, so I dropped my bags off at the hotel and went for a walkabout. Right around the corner were the SAD-Fopp; this was entirely a coincidence and not at all the result of careful planning when I was selecting my accommodations.

The stores were fine. Not unexpectedly, neither was quite as good as their counterparts in London, but SAD did have a used CD branch down the street called Was that turned out to be pretty solid. One of the most desired things on my shopping list, the new Ashby (something from them tomorrow, maybe), turned up there. Many of their promos were coverless, though, which was annoying -- I passed on the bare-bones Late Night Alumni but did pick up Afrique C'est Chic 3 for about two quid. Fopp provided a reasonably-priced copy of Annie's DJ Kicks, while SAD persuaded me to pick up some back catalogue stuff like Jane Birkin's Arabesque CD for three pounds. Still, none of these stores had the two new Dreambabes collections, let alone, say, advance copies of Alexis Strum (damn the record company for pushing the release back to February) or David McAlmont or, um, Mari Wilson (release dates for both: Oct 24. So close), so I was slightly disappointed.

Of course this meant that I was basically done with the record shopping within five hours of my arrival in Nottingham. Damn. Surely this can't mean that I would have to spend the next few days visting tourist attractions (or, you know, working)? Robin Hood never did much for me. I did find myself in the Broadmash Shopping Centre one day, where the entrance to the "City of Caves" was located. That's one of my favorite sights from this trip, one which I wished I had a camera for: a sign that calmly said "Shops • Restaurants • Caves." Beat that, Mall of America. I also have to tell you, apropos of nothing, that Nottingham strikes me as having a lot of wig shops. Yeah, I don't know.

But I'm nothing if not resourceful, so I set out over the next few days for some of the more obscure CD stores in Nottingham. All three of them. And some of the more well-known -- the Virgins and the HMVs indeed. In the former category is Pendulum, a cute little stall in Victoria Market that reminds me a little of Steve's Sounds in London. Perhaps targeting the slightly older demographic that shopped in that area, the place was full of CDs by, I dunno, Engelbert Humperdinck, but also tons of Northern Soul collections. It had good prices on contemporary stuff though -- here was where I did my pop duty and picked up the Rachel Stevens for a good price. (Good for now. Everyone is expecting poor Rachel to be selling for a pack of peanuts in a few months' time, sigh.)

And in the Hockley area was a CD store specializing in dance that I'll call, um, Munky Fonkey. I saw it a little after six one evening, my attention attracted by the banner over the door that said "Under New Management." Oooh. That's always a promising sign, because it alludes to some mysterious scandal in the past that it is now struggling to overcome. We used to suck and steal your money, but now we've turned over a new leaf! Possibly! So I stuck my head in, said "hi," and headed past the vinyl for the CDs.

The guy behind the counter piped up. "Hey mate," he said, "sorry, but I was just about to close up."

I turned to face him. Dude was rolling a spliff. "No problem," I said, backing slowly towards the exit. "I'll just come back tomorrow."

In honor of our friend at Munky Fonkey, then, here is some music purchased on my trip. Not at Munky Fonkey itself, you understand, because I was prevented from shopping by ALL THE DRUG-TAKING DEBAUCHERY, but a purchase from Fopp. Benjamin Diamond is the Frenchman who's best known as the voice on Stardust's "Music Sounds Better With You." His new (and second) album on K7, Out Of Myself, has mostly flown under the radar, although the Alan Braxe remix of "I Get High" did get blogged about some months ago. That version made the song a bit trancey, Braxe taking out most of the guitars and replacing them with persistent synths. The original is quite good in its own right, though; there are heavenly multi-tracked vocals, and the Hooky bassline (also apparent on several other tracks on the album) is where you can really hear why Benjamin lists New Order as an influence.

As music-for-robots noted, the album is more guitar-pop than the French filter disco you might have been expecting, but "These Emotions" is the other great track (yay, bonus!). Like "I Get High," this also has some lovely harmonies. The song floats by, no doubt bidding its time until the Daft Punk remix that will loop that vocal bit in the breakdown ("I thought that I could never fall in love again") over a tough Gallic electro beat. Can't wait.


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