So, yes...

Apologies for the downtime.

I've been having a little legal problem which means this site is going to need some serious re-evaluation. Sigh. Unfortunately, I don't know if or how Poptext will proceed in the New Year. It may even mean - gasp - an end to my hosting and return to those text-only posts of old.

Who would still have love for me without the shiny new mp3s?


Stars - Look Up

“So far/ Keeping it together has been enough/ Look up/ Rain is falling/ Looks like love.”

I don’t like winter. Wet, dark, cold. Christmas means nothing to me, save the memory of blended family trauma, gift angst and more television than usual. But this year is different. This year, I’ve decided to happily submit to the world of carolling, mulled wine and brisk winter walks; scarves thick, icy breath, seasonal cheer and all.

Perhaps this is premature, a Spring melody to rouse you from hibernating slumber. Or necessary – melodic strings bringing a shimmer of spark to tired limbs. Slowly you unfurl beneath those heavy blankets and pull back the drapes. It’s tempting, so tempting to stay wrapped away from the world, but sweet, deep cello is calling you out and a soothing voice shows you the sunshine still fighting weakly against the chill.

Simple, sweet. Reminding me what I'm here for. It’s time to emerge.

Bonus - ’He Lied About Death’
Buy ‘Set Yourself on Fire’ and ‘Heart’ from Arts and Crafts



Overcome with the urge to splash, nay, frolic in a vast ocean of indie? Music For Kids Who Can’t Read Good have their end-of-year list up, a veritable bounty of mp3s from Sufjan, Rogue Wave, the Decemberists and Spoon, to name but a few.

“Have you heard the JCB song?” my sister eagerly asks. I roll my eyes. Christmas number one contender? I have terrifying visions of another Ministry of Sound affair with, you know, thongs and vibrating machinery. But no! It’s a twee and adorable ode to skipping school to ride around with dad on his tractor. And yes, it’s a little too earnest for my usual liking, but say it with me: Ahhhh.

Watch the sweet lil' video or stream audio via The Hype Machine and have your Scrooge-like heart melted.

Finally, dubious about the new Microsoft- MTV URGE project launching next year? Well maybe the calibre of bloggers finally getting their (well-deserved) paychecks will sway you. Jessica '’Tiny Lucky Genius’' Hopper will lead the "punk/alt/indie/hardcore/underground" blog; Julianne ’Cowboyz and Poodlez’ Shepard does R'n'B, and Matthew ’Fluxblog’ Perpetua will run rock/pop etc. Good luck in overcoming that wma-only thing!


Rilo Kiley - Portions for Foxes

“I’ve got blood in my mouth/ ‘Cause I’ve been biting my tongue all week/ I’ve been talking trash/ But I never say anything.”

I’m not sure how I got to this late in the year without posting this; maybe because it’s such an understated, slow-build creation, or perhaps because I don’t engage with it in the same immediate ‘squeee’ manner of the fluxpop. There isn’t the emotional pull of the deeper stuff, nor even the hip-shake jaunt some chord progressions get me with. No, this one connects straight to that knowing smile as we all listen to “And the talking leads to touching/ Then the touching leads to sex/ And then there is no mystery left.” with a rueful nod. It’s my mind which is so pleased; that analytical distance of self-awareness which smiles along.

As a song, of course, it’s effortlessly pleasant: sliding along with the delightful ringing melodies and all. But see, it’s all in that perfect, petulantly resigned delivery. The metal bite of lyrics, the faint bitterness and acceptance – crafting the sophisticated whole. You toy with your cocktail garnish as you listen to your friend tell the same old story; dark wood, elegant beads and prerequisite sarcastic banter. But even sitting there, you’re aware of the clichéd scene you’re participating in – and no matter how jaded you feel, there’s no escaping it. You’ll reapply your lipstick and make eye contact with the suit by the bar, and next week you’ll be the one sitting opposite, telling all with a wry grin as you swear it will be different next time.

I sometimes wonder how a few thousand years of human development is change at all when the stories essentially stay the same.

Buy ‘More Adventurous’ from Amazon


Republica - Ready To Go

“I’m back/ And ready to go/ From the rooftops/ Shout it out.”

“I just got to that point,” she said, “And then I shut down. I didn’t care anymore.”

That’s what drives this determined beast of jubilation. That moment. That half-inch conceptual shift from wading in the mire of emotional fallibility to freedom. That leap from ‘oh god, please’ caring to get-out-of-my-life utter ambivalence. It doesn’t come when you need it, that’s for sure, but god, its arrival is always met with overdue satisfaction. Not happiness, or joy, but a tighter grip of grim, inevitable pleasure.

Sure, there’s the drawl and attitude and mid-90s retro-trip, but there’s also that measured chord intro and soft murmur of vocals breaking out into a crash of synth and darker drag riff; jubilation in slow-build exclamations; head-toss poseur rhyme patterns.

I don’t really remember Britpop. Men in hats with guitars and ego bedswapping with Justine Frischman, right? But this kinda makes me want to.

Bonus - ’Drop Dead Gorgeous’
Buy ‘Ready to Go’ from Amazon UK


Air - Run

"Stay with me/ I feel sad/ When you run."

This song is winter. Even if the heavy tones rang out over green trees and warm, midday sunshine, I’d still be transported to a world of shivers and morning frost with a flicker of those ominous beats. Just the opening arrangement is enough to chill any passion or excitement from you, early dark nights creeping in with such foreboding that you pull blankets tighter around you. Hibernate.

And then the softening, initial haunting terror melting into chords more comforting – a transient lull in the dark – but it’s too late to shake that fear.

This is music of profound discomfort. Boundaries being pushed; personal issues ringing out. Veronica Mars, series 2, episode 8. The song backing the most disturbing discovery about a confined space since Wesley enjoyed his powertrip back in the Angel days. Oh, the art of the soundtrack.

Buy ‘Talkie Walkie’ from Amazon



The ever-dependable Sean rounds up his songs of the year at Said the Gramophone – with mp3s and everything! In other words, if for some inconceivable reason, you still don’t have a copy of Robyn’s ‘Be Mine!’ or Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Since U Been Gone’ (because this is obviously the first time you have ever read an audioblog this year), you can obtain one immediately and avoid the virtual pointing and laughing that will otherwise commence.

Elisabeth has an excellent essay on her Songs for the Dumped at PopMatters, including The Walkmen, Spoon and Lyle Lovett.

Elsewhere in this season of rampant list-making, The Hype Machine – an uber-aggregator of mp3 blogs – has their 52 (indie!) tracks of choice.


Abs - 7 Ways

“Loaded conversation and bad TV/ Losing our original chemistry/ Walking like I’m dancing on priceless art/ There are seven ways of breaking my heart.”

Ex-boybander in somewhat interesting solo record shocker! Yes, the one from 5ive – (no, not the one with bad foundation; no, not the one who looked more like Shrek than Danny Hear’say; no, not the scary one in a trenchcoat) – who at the time seemed like the boy least likely, actually turned out to be… the boy least likely. OK, so that first incredulous solo record event can be followed up with a ‘decent pop record in chart flop’ shocker too. Even with the monochrome colour scheme. Oh the shame!

Because as Ed O points out, this is Xenomania doing the Streets, only, instead of a nauseating anthem of monotonous misery for emotionally crippled men to sob into their pints of lager to, it’s actually good. With a perfectly understated melancholy and that delicious string refrain; the female vocals hushed and fragile, resignation with a light touch.

Bonus: ’Stop Sign’ - Bounce and sax and synth.
Buy ‘Abstract Theory’ from Amazon UK


The Walkmen - The Rat

“You’ve got a nerve to be asking a favour/ You’ve got a nerve to be calling my number.”

When I was younger, I was so much less aware of my taste. Head swaying to teen bands in a church basement; mixtapes on the free-house-party stereo – paint in an X at the end of a country driveway and there I would be, nodding along uncertain; sure that I didn’t quite ‘get’ the sound, not so sure I shouldn’t. I knew something was missing in all that sound, I just didn’t yet know that something was a tighter chord progression, or a vocal that didn’t stretch so far for the top notes, or better production, or less of it.

Now, the other extreme; my refined critic’s ear, with demanding taste to match. Now I won’t settle for filling my soundground with anything but the good stuff: “Another year and a decent producer,” I sigh, patronisingly over the sound of a baby band still forming their muscle. But maybe I’m missing something in the hyper-awareness – the same way there’s something wonderful in knowing only that you like the song, nevermind why.

Would have I appreciated this in the same way back then: undiscerning, instinctive, uninformed?

But how I relish having every critical instinct rewarded the way this does. The sheer ferocity of the sound is something to behold – from immediate reaction, from considered thought. The curve of crescendo, such irresistible swoop of chords and crash and crazed intensity. The inevitable haunt of nostalgia reminding you that you can never go home, because home doesn’t exist anymore for the person you’ve become. Maybe my joy would have been purer, but this appreciation – rolling the sound around inside my mind as if tasting wine – suits me just fine for now.

Bonus: ‘Little House of Savages’
Buy ‘Bows and Arrows’ from Amazon UK


Skye Sweetnam - Hypocrite

“Angst schmangst/ No thanks/ Hope my record doesnt tank!”

God, I love these brat-pop anthems; evoking every memory I never had of that petulant head-toss youth. Wrist-bands and thick eyeliner; tantrums, tears and detention. I never was one for rebellion. I missed the bad crowd – I was more the straight A’s, reluctantly stereotyped teacher’s pet. Sure, I didn’t want to be so damn straight-laced, but when it came to the rule-breaking? My poor conscience couldn’t take it!

And god, isn’t this a sugar-rush kick to the brain? Not merely pounding, whiny teen angst, but pounding, whiny teen angst with cheerleader yells and meta!

That drum loop! The self-aware lyrics! The intake growl of ‘I’! But oh, the rushing crescendo of drilled electro chords and thrumming riff, and then her vocal repetition – by the time the ‘hey hey!s’ kick in, aren’t you just a slave to it?

Bonus: ’Number One’
Buy ‘Noise From the Basement’ from her iStore