The 10 countries with the fastest internet

Slightly surprised to see six of the top 10 made up of European countries, but no surprise to see South Korea and Japan in no.1 and 2 spots. 

I wonder how low the UK ranks?

Empire of the Sun: The Musical

Empire of the Sun are bonkers. And they make great pop songs.

This, in my book, is the perfect combo.

I was a big fan of The Sleepy Jackson, Luke Steele’s previous band. The Sleepy Jackson was a very different proposition, but what really stood out was Steele’s unique vocal style - - confident, high in the mix and sprinkled with a mournful falsetto - - and that soaring, chorus-to-even-bigger-chorus classic pop songwriting.

You get the feeling Steele was designed for even bigger and better things, and with Empire of the Sun’s extravagant new show he now has the platform to show off his pop sensibility in a new flamboyant, million-dollar show.

Actually, flamboyant doesn’t quite cover it. Check out Empire of the Sun live at Sydney Opera House below.

Here is Reach for the Dead, the first single from the new Boards of Canada album Tomorrow’s Harvest, out 10 June on Warp.

It’s been seven year’s since the Scottish duo’s last release, and this year arguably only the world’s favourite Frenchmen Daft Punk have outgunned them in the pre-release album buzz stakes.

This week, Boards of Canada projected images of their new album onto the side of a building in Shibuya, downtown Tokyo following a series of mysterious clues left online and an unannounced 12-inch release for Record Store Day.

Surely only The Flaming Lips playing in Space can top this (yes, Wayne Coyne talked on BBC Radio 6 this week about the possibility of doing this). Please make this happen, Wayne.

Video: Beck does David Bowie’s “Sound and Vision”

I’ve seen Beck do some pretty ambitious things live, like serving up dinner for a group of puppets onstage during a Radiohead support slot. More recently, Mr Hansen released an entire ‘unrecorded studio’ album as a book of sheet music.

However this reimagining - and that’s an understatement - of David Bowie’s Sound and Vision with a 170-piece orchestra, a gospel choir and even a yodeler (though not one quite up to the standard of the performer in Focus’ 1971 Magnum Opus Hocus Pocus) perhaps tops it all. The video was shot in Los Angeles this week for car manufacturer Lincoln’s new “Hello, Again campaign.”

Prepare to have your mind well and truly blown.

Arsène’s austerity confirmed

Re-reading this excellent article on Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger’s reluctance to spend big (or, in fact, any) money on new signings, posted before the end of the transfer window, makes sobering reading for Arsenal fans this week. Although one signing did come in, Spanish international left-back Nacho Monreal, this will not be enough to placate the more vociferous comments coming from Gooners who feel let down, yet again, by the lack of major signings at such a crucial stage of the season when the team are clearly struggling. The next five months will be yet another nail-biting finish for Arsenal to finish in the top four and claim a valuable Champions League spot, although I’d wager that, no matter what, Wenger [pictured defiantly, below] will be at the helm at the Grove next season.


Darkstar: News from Nowhere - album review

London-based three piece Darkstar are back with new album ‘News from Nowhere’. Once a band labelled as ‘post-dubstep,’ News from Nowhere sees Darkstar move into more lush, experimental electronic pop territory to great effect.

The addition of James Buttery’s vocals is probably the most striking example of their ‘new’ direction, but although the album has a brighter, more accessible sound than 2010’s North there are endless nuggets of electronic experimentation to be discovered and the album bears scrutiny to repeated plays.

I love North and saw the band live at Field Day in 2011, albeit in a small tent with some serious sound issues, and this album should see Darkstar open up to an even wider audience this year.

Order News from Nowhere here and stream the album in full below.

Released on 4/5 Feb on Warp.

PULP IS BACK. Sort of. Here is a ‘new’ track, After You, produced by LCD Soundsystem maestro James Murphy. Originally intended for 2001’s We Love Life, After You recalls classic Pulp with a sprinkle of Murphy’s trademark electro synth thrown into the mix. I’d like to think they worked on this on the SS Coachella but it was probably finished way before that.

Paddy Power. This was taken early in the morning in the hills above Ubud in Bali. We took a drive up to the volcano before cycling all the way back down again through villages and past more paddy fields.

Paddy Power. This was taken early in the morning in the hills above Ubud in Bali. We took a drive up to the volcano before cycling all the way back down again through villages and past more paddy fields.