Monday, 29 December 2008

Not Them Young Folk..

Upon my morning peruse of the music blogs, I found a couple of interesting tracks. If you're an indie swot such as myself you've probably heard this track in its original incarnation on the radio or in various clubs (so I'm told). This song has also been a regular choice for programme trails on TV due to it's psych groove and signature whistling accompaniment. This track was EVERYWHERE about 8 months ago. Then, as with any anthemic tune, it slowly drifted away from the front of the music scene to make way for gems such as.. Keane. But now it seems to have made a resurgence in the world of alternative music, with various artists spraying their own artistic flair on it.


But which one is as good as it's predecessor?



Exhibit A:




Now I don't mean to sound harsh but The Kooks are everything I hate about music. Whiny, adolescent vocals and songs so predictable you can sing the tune to their next single before they've written it. Saying that though, they're damn good live. I saw them at Benicassim '06 and they were a lot better than on record as they had more of an edge. Sadly I think they lost it somewhere on the way back to Britain. Plus they remind me of a local band whose egos match the size of Jonathan Ross' bank balance.



So really I didn't have high expectations when I found this track on the refreshing blog
RolloGrady. I thought seeing as it's more of an up tempo, dance track, that they'd venture outside their wee box (not actual wee box, you get what I mean.. hopefully) and mix it up a bit. Sadly, although this track was a nice way of actually waking up, there wasn't much spice to it, nothing to really surprise me. Maybe Luke Pritchard and co. are much more adept at writing mellow, lovelorn songs instead of dancefloor tunes, or maybe they're just bland.


I hadn't expected to find another cover of Peter Bjorn and John's track 'Young Folks' for a while, certainly not within 10 minutes. It seems to me that good music is like England's transport system; there's never anything around for ages and then when you're just about to give up and walk the 2 miles home two great things come at you at once.




Exhibit B
:
Alright I couldn't find a clear picture of the swedish producer, so here's an actual Klumpfisk.
Peter Bjorn and John-Young Folk (Klumpfisk Remix).MP3



I found this track at one of the blog I regularly subscribe to,
Lemur Blog. I was somewhat wary of how good this track would be, judging from my run of luck thus far in my quest for a good cover of this classic track, plus the fact that it's a remix and I'm not the biggest fan of them. However, I was pleasantly surprised when listening to it, there's a definite twist on the original melody, incorporating fused melodies on panpipes and other Middle Eastern instruments. Plus the whistling bit it still there. Nice.


There's more of a lilt to this track than there is in the original, this would not be out of place in some trendy Soho club and actually reminds me of the rainforest somehow. Admittedly, if this was the original I wouldn't be that enthused, it's because Klumpfisk has made distinct differences that offer some variety from the bog standard dance track. What I like most about this track is that the abstract, floatiness of it is still present, every now and then I catch a glimpse of fellow psych inspired act MGMT, making this track even more current. The choir at the end of the track makes you feel as if you've awoken from some spiritual dream, a very chilled ending to a thoroughly different song.




Now, I may have been a bit blunt and melodramatic but let's face it what teenager isn't?



Nobody ever knows what to do with themselves in the week between Christmas and New Years, people just amble about, pretending to work whilst lethargically poking their friends on Facebook, stuffing their face with left over turkey and Quality Street.

So, since you've got nothing better to do, why not listen to both tracks and send me a comment telling me whether I'm right and The Kooks' version is a bit blah or whether I'm wrong and Klumpfisk's version is just a bit too strange.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Glastonbury 09 Alert!

No Michael Eavis hasn't fallen down a well or anything, don't worry. My grandmother kindly took the time to send my family a newspaper cutting from that oh-so-credible newspaper The Sun, saying that Mr. Eavis has revealed some of the headliners for next year's festival.


That's right, they're back.

Michael Eavis has revealed that Britpop giants Blur will reform to headline Glastonbury 2009. To be honest, as thrilled as I am that Graham, Damon, Dave and Alex are getting back together in yet another band reunion, it's hardly very surprising. If you'd have asked me this time last year whether they would reform I would have put a tenner on that they would, and be raking it in. Sadly, I remain still a lowly teenager, one never thinks of these things at the time, does one? Anyway, the band, whose hits include the infamous Song 2 (below) and Girls and Boys will join the stage at wonderful Worthy Farm next year along with oldies Neil Young and Bruce Springstein.

Well, at least I know when to get a drink and check out Trash City..

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Yuletide Greetings

Yes that's a word.


I'd like to take a moment to say thanks a lot to everyone who's made the effort in the past 3 months to give my blog a whirl, it means a lot that people actually read these things. So cheers, it's very much appreciated and I hope that I can make this blog a hell of a lot better next year once I've found my feet.



Right, sentimental crap over, here are my gifts for you all..


Merry Christmas.MP3
If you delve into my audio stocking (what a carry on) you'll find tracks from the likes of Emmy the Great, MGMT, a very melancholic version of Stay Another Day by Glasvegas and a track by burgeoning band The Joy Formidable (pictured).

I know it's not much but it's been a bit hectic lately, what with work and christmas services to sing at, so I apologise for the rushed quality of my posts.

So, hope you all have a lovely Christmas and a kick ass New Year, from Yours Truly.
X



Tracks are courtesy of the BBC, The Joy Formidable, Glasvegas, MGMT and Emmy the Great.)

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

So Here It Is..

Do not fear.. NO Mariah, No god awful Wham and no terrifying old men shouting 'It's Chriiiiistmas!'

As I am a poor student, the main gift I gave to my friends this year consisted of a CD compiling of some alternative Christmas songs in an attempt to give them a less suffocating festive repertoire. So I thought I might as well share this with you, my lovely readers (If any).
While I can't post it as an MP3 playlist due to copyright and all that shizzle, here's the list with links to the youtube videos:


Dr Demento- I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas (Where is this song from originally? It's bizarre)


New Found Glory- Ex-Miss (Not as whiny as their other stuff.)


The Raveonettes- Come On Santa (Taken from their Wishing You a Rave Christmas EP, very chilled.)


The Fall-Jingle Bell Rock (Thought it sounded a bit like The Horrors and wanted I'd give them another chance, they were shite at Ashton Court.)


The Long Blondes-Christmas is Cancelled (My mum loves them.)


Sue and the Unicorn- We Don't Want to Leave Eden (Ok, not christmassy but you need a breather every now and then. Plus Sue's voice is heavenly on this track.)


Run DMC- Christmas in Hollis ( Quite a good video and you gotta love a bit of old skool. Bo!)



The Ramones- Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)- I've only just gotten to like this band, been trying to avoid the hype, fortunately, they're rather good.


Cliff Richard- Mistletoe and Wine- I'm not even going to Youtube it, anyone who likes this song should be shot. Many times. With a christmas tree shoved where the sun don't shine. I put this on here to wind up my friends. Honest.

Death Cab for Cutie- Christmas (Baby Please Come Home- I love the mellowness of this track.


The Polyphonic Spree- Happy Christmas (War is Over)- I can't tell the difference between them and Lennon to be honest.


Jimmy Eat World- Last Christmas (This song is never not going to sound cheesy is it?)


Blink 182- I Won't be Home for Christmas ( From when they were like BFF and in the days of disgusting dog jokes- enjoy.)


The Fall- Hark the Herald Angels Sing


The Goodies- Father Christmas (Makes me laugh every time-utter brilliance)


The Killers-A Great Big Sled (The only good thing they released in 2006)


Glasvegas- Fuck You, It's Over (No sign of any vomit inducing sleigh bells here, plus I thought it was a nice way to end my playlist.)

So what do you think? I know, no Pogues but that's been done to death really hasn't it?

Look out for my next post tomorrow, I have some Christmas presents for you all, aren't you lucky?

Friday, 19 December 2008

These are a Few of my Favourite Things

I thought as we're nearing that oh so cliche festive period it might be nice to think about the events that have unfolded throughout the year, as well as some of my favourite things of 2008. However, as I am aware of the quantity of my posts, I will try and include as low an amount of writing as possible; my Christmas present to you is that I will stop rambling for one whole post, you lucky sods.

Disclaimer: I have not taken any of these photos (bar the MGMT one) or videos and if they happen to breach any copyright laws please let me know and I'll remove them.



Glastonbury 2008

The defining point of my year and when I truly discovered the beauty of a muddy field packed with 150,000 strangers. Nothing could compare to that feeling of freedom when you're ambling about the Green fields, seeing top notch bands and embracing the 'Glastonbury Spirit-' see you next year Mr Eavis.


GCSE Results
Considering they're deemed as 'life changing exams' I rather enjoyed the GCSE'S though they were annoying at times. Still, 5 A's, 4 A*'s, a B and a C are definitely worth half a summer in silence.






(Amongst countless others, this year has definitely been a good one for seeing live acts.)



The Mighty Boosh



2008 was also the start of my obsession with this surrealist comedy troupe. If you haven't seen any of Series 1,2 or 3 of The Boosh, I'd strongly recommend you do so; with singing, dancing and bizarre magical characters it's got all the necessities for a good show. Plus their live stage show is AMAZING.








Heroes of 2008
It's been impossible not to have caught a glimpse at the mass of singer-songwriters about this year. James Morrison, Adele, and, errm, some others, have all been bombarding us with songs this year, prime examples being the lovely Laura Marling...

And the probably-equally-lovely-but-rather-annoying-Duffy.

Other high fliers of this year include:



(Black Kids, Florence and the Machine, Elbow and Vampire Weekend.)

Villains of the Year
Well, kind of. Over the course of the year my contempt for a certain right wing tabloid newspaper has grown tremendously, due to shoddy journalism and an appalling lack of decency in certain cases. However, the funniest thing they printed all year was what is now revered as 'Sachsgate.'


Yes I know it is like so 2 months ago and it's been done to death, but I resisted the urge to blog about this affair before now so that should be praised at least. In case you live in some remote tribe that haven't heard of either of these two guys, the one on the bottom is 'edgy' comedian Russell Brand (I swear to god if someone uses that word to describe comedy again I shall scream, it's not edgy if you call it edgy) and the one on the top is presenter and sometime comedian Jonathan Ross. And they done a bad thing. Well, it depends on what your take on it is, to be honest I found thing whole thing rather funny, which was the aim afterall. However, some two people decided to have a pop at the BBC for swearing and then 5 days later it all kicked off when the Daily Mail readers of Middle England decided it was time to be upset. People resigned, got suspended and all sorts, there was quite a big fuss, apparently (I'd hardly noticed).

Still, how can you stay mad at Wossy for that long? Just look at him..


New Loves
No I'm not going to start onning about the woes of a teenager's social life, I'm much more bothered about music.




The InDelicates- New Art for The People.mp3

This duo are utterly brilliant. I discovered them upon an evening's stroll down last.fm a little while ago and, I'm sad to say, I forgot about them until I saw that one of their tracks was a free download. I'm still unsure what their main focus is on; comically brilliant and enrapturing lyrics or just playing songs. Either way it's the perfect combination of the two. If you download it, do let me know what you think of them.

TV
WARNING: Further reading may result in the credibility of the writer plummeting to below sea level. You have been warned.

One of my new loves this year television wise has been Come Dine With Me.






See what I mean?
I'm crap at cooking. I managed to somehow set the toaster on fire not long ago, and nearly set the entire kitchen alight due to an overheated frying pan. So I don't know why I like this so much. It's a reality show in which 4 randomers (usually) have a week full of dinner parties in order to win some cash. How terribly middle class. Anyway, I think I may be hitting a mid-life crisis at the grand old age of 16, as I love this show. Aren't you glad my blog is usually music based?


The IT Crowd
I know this show isn't exactly new but I've only uncovered the awesomeness that is The IT Crowd as of this year. The casting is superb; Matt Berry plays a retarded Company Executive and Richard Aoyade and Chris O Dowd are two lonesome geeks based in the IT department, and both make as great a double act as they do when solo. Matt Berry is amazingly good at playing the fool and, FYI is also the chap from the Bring on the Trumpets! advert.


What have been your favourite aspects of this wondrous year?

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

A lovely song that's perfect at Christmas time. Shame it was released in July.


Fleet Foxes-White Winter Hymnal

Monday, 15 December 2008

The Mandatory 2008 Post-Continued..



I know, the suspense must be killing you, just who will obtain that oh so glorious accolade of my favourite album of the year?




















5.The Last Shadow Pup
pets-The Age of the Understatement
It was obvious from the moment the new side project of Alex Turner's came into public awareness that it was going to be a hit. He seems to have the midas touch, what with the
Arctics going from strength to strength; the band picked up 2 Brit awards in February of this year, one of which for their album Favourite Worst Nightmare. And then there's this bloke called Miles from some Northern Indie band. The music industry seemed to hold a collective breath when news of an album was uncovered: would this be as good as some of what the Arctic Monkeys did? Did this mean that they were splitting up? And who the hell is this guy called Miles? Whilst we still don't really know the answer to the latter (ok so he's the guy from The Rascals, but does anybody care?) we do now know that whilst venturing into a thoroughly different terrain, it seems the boys still know how to make just as exciting an album. If you're a fan of the vintage James Bond films then you'll love the lush orchestral backing, and for those who actually enjoy a song with meaning (I mean really, are we human or are we dancer? Please) there's plenty of Alex's ever-so-clever wit to keep you entertained for the duration of the record. If you like this, then also check out some of Scott Walker's stuff, it runs along a similar vein and is where the inspiration for this LP.






4. The Ting Tings- We
Started Nothing
I think we can safely say everybody on the face of
the little dot that is our world is aware of this pop duo. No doubt you've seen the iPod ads, hummed along to it on the radio and probably seen them being interviewed countless times on the tellybox. So, I hear you ask, why the hell do you have them here when they've become largely annoying? Well, for one this album is the perfect example of how music should be played. Tracks like We Started Nothing have a definite groove to them, you feel as if you're a fly on the wall of Katie and Jules' garage having a jamming session. Others, like Fruit Machine and Great DJ are cheeky slices of pop, completely inoffensive and, more importantly, infectious. I challenge you to hear this album in its entirety without once smiling or bobbing your head. I can testify that this is, infact, impossible. Yes they've been a constant presence in 2008, but for damn good reason; Jules and Katie really love the music, you can tell from the this record and, when listening to them, it's hard not to agree with them.







3.Lightspeed Champion-Falli
ng Off the Lavender Bridge So, your band Test Icicles has just fallen apart and you're left with nothing to do, what now? Well, you create a whole new alter ego and create an album full of truly magical folk. Duh. I could only compare this album to After Eights: Rich and indulgent, yet at the same time bitter, and as much as you try you can't eat just one. A similar experience is listening to Falling Off the Lavender Bridge. Dev utilises the mass of instruments he has at his disposal, from flutes to fiddles, and features the fantabulous Emmy the Great on a number of tracks. All of these combine to make a warm and welcoming sound, traditional of Western folk, but still retaining a hint of darkness. I don't know what Dev had to go through to think of lyrics like 'Guzzle down, my neck will burn as we kiss and I'm sick in your mouth' and frankly, neither do I want to, but still, they're acid singed and purposeful.


Although at first glance, 10 minute song Midnight Surprise seems daunting and ostentatious, you soon forget it's one song but rather 3, the movements seem to interweave effortlessly and upon its ending you still find yourself yearning. This deserves to be placed higher on my list than #3, and would have been if it weren't for those pesky Americans..



















2.MGMT-Oracular Spectacular
Alright, hands up if this is a shock. I thought so. Funnily enough this little known band (I jest of course) have made quite a stir both sides of the Atlantic. I vaguely remember reading an article in the NME near the beginning of this year, something about bands to watch out for in 2008, and these guys were featured quite highly. Described as fresh and psychedelic, a kind of new Flaming Lips for all the indie kids to drool over, if you will. It wasn't until I'd heard their now infamous Time to Pretend featured on the last episode of Series 2 of Skins that I actually had any inclination to agree. Then, after much googling and downloading of their album, I regretlessly joined the growing cohort of MGMT fans. My only sulk about this band was that they played two sets at Glastonbury at awkward slots, in between nap time and wandering around the Green fields. Damn them. Anyway, this album is the perfect soundtrack to lazing about in a field somewhere, prancing about the flowerbeds and hugging trees. Or what the 70's would have been like if it were ever so slightly more edgy.


This album contains more than a few hooks, prompting many a shout-a-long at their gigs and the skill of the guitarist is incredible. Some bands like to coyly shuffle onto the scene with a little ditty about some girl that left them. Not these guys though. They exploded onto the indie/rock airwaves with an astonishingly magnificent first album. Let's hope they don't fall in the pitfall that is the second album curse.



1. Vampire Weekend-Vampire Weekend
And so we reach the climax of my top ten album rundown with the lovely Vampire Weekend. The main reason this band's album is my favourite of the year is because it contains the blueprint for success in the indie industry. This group of preppie types certainly know how to dress well whilst also in keeping with the afro-influenced style of their music. Now I'm not a huge fan of African music, purely because although it sounds ok there's nothing that catches me, it just sort of ambles along. Vampire Weekend's afro-indie however does anything but. The influence of Afro syncopation adds a rather exciting pace to the track, thoroughly different from the boring 4/4 rock we've been enduring for some time. Plus the harmonised vocals on this are truly a delight, particularly on tracks like Oxford Comma.


Each song also has a distinctive vibe to it that sets it apart from the next, from the hyper bouncing A-Punk to the lazy Sunday afternoon The Kids Don't Stand a Chance, every track is treated as a potential single rather than a bunch of tracks thrown together carelessly. As well as using African influences, the group have also included a seemingly odd orchestral backing that, surprisingly, actually works quite well. Although some may deem this band too preppy for their liking, I adore this record as it is truly one of the most original things to have come out of this decade so far, not just the year, makes a lovely change from the mockney masses, don't you think?

So that was my very long album chart, but here's some more albums you may want to try:

  • Glasvegas-Glasvegas- Miserable music at its best.
  • The Cure-4.13 Dream- It's like they've never been away-hurrah!
  • Fleet Foxes- Fleet Foxes- Another interesting take on the typical American rock album.
  • Sigur Ros- With a Buzz in Our Ears we Play Endlessly- Truly awe inspiring ambiance from the band with the unpronounceable song titles.

What have been your favourites of the year?

Friday, 12 December 2008

Teenage Angst

So tonight my friends and I thought it would be nice if we actually went out somewhere instead of locking ourselves in our bedrooms watching the IT Crowd followed by some obscure comedian's warblings all night. So, after many a google search (not really, it was advertised well enough) I found that local folkman Barry Dolan, aka Oxygen Thief celebrating his 100th gig by playing with a couple of other singer-songwriters at a local pub in Stokes Croft. Lovely. Now usually the people in Stokes Croft are lovely to us young 'uns, well by that I mean we can get into The Croft without hassle, even though we are sixteen, hardly toddlers. However, tonight's escapades have proved to be the exception..

So after having a stressful week of exam revision and coldness we thought a civilised night of folk wouldn't go a-miss. So, after eventually getting there and getting in easily enough, we settled down to watch the first of the acts play, in a state of blissful unawareness of what was about to unfold.



Before I continue I must stress, we're not exactly innocent (there was some hunting for alcohol involved, alas to no avail) but still we had absolutely NO intention of even trying to purchase alcohol in the pub in which we were, I mean that's just poor logic isn't it? Plus we were there, well I was anyway, to see Oxygen Thief play again.




After seeing him support Chris T-T in the pub down the road from The Junction, I definitely jumped at the chance to hear him play live again. Oxygen Thief makes music both interesting and refreshing; almost like when you dip your face in water and, although it stings a bit, wakes you up. Hmm, maybe a poor analogy, but needless to say I like his music. He has a distinct personality that definitely comes across in his songs, and has a genuine enthusiasm for the music that he plays, a trait that is seldom seen these days. So, understandably, I was looking forward to hearing his set and having a quiet night with some friends before the hussle and bustle that is the festive period. However, just after the first act had left the tiny stage (sort of like what
Snow Patrol would sound like if they needed a bit of prozac) a barmaid kindly asked us to leave the premises, as another pub had been raided for underage drinkers. Underage DRINKERS.
Why is it that just because we're teenagers in a pub that we would be classed as underage drinkers?



Now normally I wouldn't mind so much, but when it comes to music I have no sense of humour. Why should we be discriminated against due to our age? Why should our junior years restrict us from enjoying good music? I could even understand if there were age restrictions of gigs with explicit content, like, say a German Death Metal troupe (why German? I don't know, but they sound more grr) But really, it's folk.




Folk I tell you.




And this isn't the first time this has been an issue.

You only need to go to the local ticket shop to see that us under 18's have been ostracised in terms of gigs. The list of clubs and bars we can't go to is endless' Louisiana? Nope. Fleece? Uh Uh. Thekla? Don't even bother. Everywhere you go bouncers are quick to push you out the door just because you don't have a valid id or are a few months younger than the rest of the punters. Age doesn't make you more mature. Neither does it mean you should all of a sudden be let into the magical world of good music on your eighteenth birthday. We all deserve the right to enjoy ourselves in a safe environment where we can see genuine talent. Yes there's the Academy, but unless you're fliering it don't come cheap for a night out. And we're only poor students afterall.



Look at the huge response
Underage Festival got this year, it's clear to see that teenagers are sick of being alienated from the music we enjoy. So to any venue managers out there, the next time a group of sober, money paying teenagers enter your venue looking to support local talent such as Oxygen Thief, give the kids a chance. Innit.


http://www.myspace.com/oxygenthief

Monday, 8 December 2008

What a Pooh Christmas

I'm sorry, that is truly terrible..



I've fiinally got an advent calender, a Winnie the Pooh one to be exact. Plus, my favourite folk singer Chris T-T has only gone and done another Christmas EP, featuring, funnily enough, poems by A.A Milne (you know, the Pooh guy).


I love Christmas.
Check out the EP on his Myspace- two of which are eligible for download. http://www.myspace.com/christtuk

The next portion of my album rundown will be posted sometime this week, I'm going to be crazily busy what with gigs and college- Levellers and Frank Turner tomorrow YAY and local chap Oxygen Thief's 100th gig on Friday, will keep you posted. Get it? Ah, I kid..

Friday, 5 December 2008

The Mandatory 2008 Post

So, it's that time of year again when everybody gets a little gushy and retrospective about the year that has passed, and what a year it's been. The Recession, Obama's monumental victory and umm, well, Mugabe has meant that you couldn't call this year dull. Besides all the tedium of the political world, there's been some great stuff about in the musical side of things. Folk has seen a surprising comeback and it seems people are finally growing tired of the Libertine sound-a-like sea of indie bands out there, choosing a more unconventional style instead.


I thought I'd add to the endless list of bloggers doing this and compile my very own list of 2008. However, this post will be spaced out over a number of days, 20/20 hindsight has told me that it is an ickle bit too long for just one post. So, enjoy!


10. Ladyhawke-Ladyhawke
In case you haven't yet noticed, 2008 has been the year of the synth. It's been unavoidable as of late, so much so that I wanted to get one and break it into teeny tiny pieces. However, Ladyhawke's self-titled debut is definitely the exception to the rule. This is an album full of potential singles, not a filler in sight. For someone who describes herself as being an introvert, you certainly can't tell listening to this. Pip's vocals ooze confidence and her songs have the perfect blend of synth and guitar that combine to make a damn catchy album. I'm already looking forward to her follow up, get to it Pip!






9. Robots in Disguise-We're in the Music Biz

Ok, so I know this album wasn't exactly ground breaking stuff, but this was the album that made me fall in love with this edgy electro duo. My friends and I saw Sue Denim and Dee Plume play songs from this album the night before its release, and they were as adrenaline fuelled and chaotic as they are on the album. This record proves that not only can the girls make tracks fit for dancing like no-one's watching but they also have a good sense of humour; giving us a more realistic view of the rock'n'roll lifestyle in Can't Stop Getting Wasted and unleashing a tongue in cheek tirade against conformity in Don't Copy Me. This is a much rougher album than their previous in terms of style, but it's the edginess that makes this well worth a listen.




8. Frank Turner-Love I
re & Song

2008 has really been Frank's year. He's spent much of the year touring bloody everywhere and yet still had time to release a refreshing and witty album. What a nice bloke. Mr. Turner is one of my favourite finds of the year. Pals with fellow folkster (see what I did there?) Chris T-T, Frank writes music that not only makes you think but allows you to actually enjoy his clever lyrics. Charity single 'Long Live the Queen' is a testament to this, as on first listen it's a catchy song but if you dig deeper and listen to the lyrics, you hear the story of a young women dying in hospital for breast cancer, the charity in which the single's revenue goes towards. This is the most underground artist on my list, and I really hope that by this time next year I will be able to gloat that I introduced this chap to you when he's one of the UK's most successful debut singer-songwriters.



















7.Ladytron-Velocif
ero
For me personally, 2008 has seen my musical tastes expand into the unfamiliar field of electro. Having grown up with the likes of Placebo, New Order and Echo and the Bunnymen shoved down my throat, I thought it would be nice to see what all of the fuss was about regarding this strange mesh of electronic sounds. Listening
to this album is almost like being hypnotised and punched in the face simultaneously. The edgy beats and angst ridden synths create a definite groove that makes it all the more addictive to hear. Although some of the songs on here do make this album lose a touch of its charm, (Predict the Day's jaunty rhythm is more nauseating than exciting) others simply thrill me (see Versus' dangerously catchy refrain and bizarre kitten lyrics), making this album a firm favourite of mine for dancing about pathetically when getting ready to go out if nothing else.




















6. Laura Marling

Now at this point I'm going to say that I don't intend to market this album rundown as the most unconventional thing to do at the end of the year, lets face it Joe and Jane Bloggs have and are going to write posts along the same vein as this here thing. I can bet you 3 packets of Jellytots that this young lady will feature heavily. Laura Marling is the brilliantly talented songstress who's managed to take the alternative music scene by storm and is a staple of 6Music's playlist. Aaand she's only 18, lest we forget. This album is a true testament to her talent, with her warm raspy vocals leaving you wanting more and her brilliantly dark yet witty lyrics. It's been said before but it's hard to believe from hearing this album that she is only just an adult, a mature and rather graceful air seems to resonate from this record. How this girl did not get the Mercury Prize is beyond me. The only question I'm left asking after hearing this is where can she go from here?
What have been your favourite records of 2008? Comment me and let me know, and look out for the next installment of my album roundup.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Think of England

I know I'm a bit late off the mark on this one but I haven't had much time to put it up here until now. I'm warning you in advance I will be a bit swamped for the next few days so I may not post as much, isn't college life grand?



Anyway, here's the new offering from one of my favouritest bands of the moment,
IAMX.





(One of these days I'll work out how to actually put songs on here)




For those of you still oblivious to this wonderfully quirky electro outfit, IAMX is the latest project from
Chris Corner of Sneaker Pimps fame, and is already unleashing their wave of darkness infused synth pop in Europe as we speak. The band are noted for being somewhat controversial in their song title and lyric choices; 'Spit it Out' is one of their most popular tracks, whilst on 'The Alternative' there's a lyric that slightly disturbed me; 'We all wanna fuck ourselves and rape the world-' no, I don't know either.



If you want to hear songs that are fresh, sophisticated and edgy, then check these guys out. Think of England is out now on free download at
http://61seconds.de/. If you live in Europe then check out their Myspace for tour dates: http://www.myspace.com/iamx




Think of England?
If they were really thinking of England they should get their arses over here ASAP!
Tour plsthx :)



Think of England

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Where's the Support?

We've all been there. You've had the week from hell, stacks of work to do and everyone you know is pissing you off. So, in an attempt to cheer yourself up you book tickets to see the gig you've been dying to go to all year. After weeks, months even of waiting, that fateful day arrives and you're buzzing with anticipation for the moment the beloved headliners grace the stage.



But then..




What's this? Some small, obscure band whose name you can't even pronounce sidles onto the stage and starts playing tracks swallowed by synths and bizarre vocals that conjure up images of dying kittens. What do you do?







I recently ran a poll asking if there was any actual love for the support band. The answer, a resounding no, seemed to confirm my suspicions. People, it seems, just don't care about the opening act. 'I paid good money to see the headliners' I hear you cry; 'Why would I want to hear some band I've never heard of, they're just wasting my time.' Well, maybe because, for all we know, that small obscure band being attacked by synths could be the next big thing.




Today's support act is tomorrow's stadium act.




A couple of years ago my parents went to see
Stellastarr * perform, with some quaint American band known as The Killers. Now, can you tell me for a brownie point, where are Stellastarr now, and what have The Killers been up to recently? With a new NME cover (out tomorrow) to add the heap of other magazine articles and hundreds of festival appearances, it seems to toil of being a support band paid off.



Also, whatever happened to just having a good time and trying something new? It saddens me that, in an age where new music is only a Myspace search away, it appears that not many are actually taking advantage of having it right there in front of them. I've been to many 'a gig recently, (purely research of course) and when observing the crowd during the support act, most of the crowd stood, cross armed and bored, whilst large portions oft he crowd hadn't even bothered turning up yet!




Surely, in these times of economic turmoil you want to get as much out of your tenner as possible, rather than just an hour's set from the big guys? The only exception to the rule I've noticed was at an electro gig, with
Asobi Seksu (pictured) supporting the magnificent Ladytron. I'd almost given up hope on a supportive crowd but, lo and behold, the NYC band actually got people moving. But then, taking a second glance at the crowd, you can see why. Most of those here tonight are gig veterans, not some indie/scene kids who think they're 'too cool' to listen to more underground bands.



Trust me, you ain't.




So, if you've gleaned anything from my rant, let it be that support bands can make you feel as giddy as any headlining band could. The next time you see that small, obscure band shuffle onto the stage, dance like a madman and give the new kids a chance.




What are your support act experiences? Let me know, the weirder the better.

Friday, 21 November 2008

World Shut Your Mouth

November 21st marks the third annual 'No Music Day,' an article on the MSN homepage informs me.



Are you fucking kidding me?!

Bill Drummond, former KLF Drummer, is promoting a day dedicated to the absence of our omnipresent best friend- the first thing we hear when we wake up, the person we confide in during times of misery, the one we live vicariously through in an attempt to 'live the dream.'


But no, today is a day where music should be banned, according to this bloke.




Bill says that by abstaining from listening to music today, only two days away from
St Cecilia's day, we can cleanse our musical palette in a world where, apparently, music has "run its course." Now I'm all for trying new things, so in an attempt to try to understand what he means, I'm writing this post without my usual musical buzz in the background. I tell you what, it's bloody hard to write cohesively without music. Maybe it's because I've conditioned myself to work at optimum efficiency when there is a faint hum of electro in the air, but I genuinely am struggling to put into words, well, anything. Studies into the correlation between listening to music and work have showed that those listening to calming music like Classical music have achieved better exam grades than those who have sat the same test in silence.



And they say silence is golden?




And whose to say music has run out of steam anyway, to me it's still got the same cosmic grip on me like it's always had.




Yes, I know I published a post ranting about the state of music in the charts the other day, but surely that's better than nothing? And, to be fair, that seems to be the music that is making people happy (why I'll never know). So, according to Mr. Bill, we now need to decide what we want from music. That's easy. People listen to chart rubbish because it has the same impact on them as to the first time an angst ridden 13 year old puts on Slipknot, the same effect that a church goer has when listening to the heavenly voices of the choir; it's relateable and invokes emotion. Or maybe I've got it wrong and people only listen to music these days for something to do; if that is the case then, begrudgingly, I will have to agree with Bill. Although I find the idea of no music atrocious, I find the lack of musical appreciation a more horrifying prospect.




Although we're living in a time where music is only a click away, it couldn't be more of an exciting time for music. Yes, the basics of music have been done, but you only need to listen to bands like
Vampire Weekend, Glasvegas, Lightspeed Champion, et al to know that times are a-changin' and music has turned into a party that everyone's invited to, music styles have been shaken up and reworked to create fresh, exciting new sounds. We shouldn't be mourning music, we should be having a kick ass wake if anything!






What do you think? Should we go without music for one whole day? Does any of it really matter?

'A day without music is like a day without sunshine.'

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Kerching:The Sound of The Smiths?

So I got the latest of a series of Smiths' compilation albums, this one entitled 'The Sound of The Smiths' today; as an avid fan of the seminal band I thought I'd better. When I first heard about the new record I, like countless others (probably) held a faint glimmer of hope that the Gods of Gloom would reform. Now to be honest, I think the day they do reform will be the day those crazy CERN guys wipe out the planet with a black hole. Still, as much as I love The Smiths, hearing this album I can't help but hear the distant ding of cash registers.




The double album boasts 45 Smiths' songs, including classic such as Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now and William it Was Really Nothing, as well as live tracks and 'rare' B sides, and all this for £15 (!). I actually really like this album, the tracks have been slightly remastered and not sound so clangy as on other versions, and the album art of their previous album art looks quite good, (you can tell who was in charge of picking the pictures can't you?) but I have this nagging feeling in the back of my head that this is all rather unnecessary. I like that it's out as it gives those unlucky (or lucky if you count the Thatcher years) enough not to have been around whilst they were still together, but it's really just a very unsubtle attempt at making a few bob.



Although this album was remastered by Johnny Marr and Moz had the arduous task of thinking of a name for it, a part of me wonders if really this album was executed by Warners in an attempt to shift a few more units in an era where album sales have declined. I don't mean to get all conspiracy theorist on you, but it would make sense:


  • When the band did join Warner Bros. it was at the very end of their career, so they can't have made that much revenue from them. Some also signalled the point that they joined a 'mainstream' label as the beginning of the end for them. The band were already struggling with management issues amongst alleged internal squabbles, and there had already been two compilation albums since the extraordinary Queen is Dead, it seemed that they were running out of steam.
  • After numerous failed attempts at getting the band to reform, a reunion didn't ever appear on the cards. Morrissey even went as far as saying he'd "rather eat my (his) own testicles than reform The Smiths," and although he can be a bit melodramatic, he is a strict vegetarian so he must have been serious.
  • So, it would seem apt that now, in an age where the likes of Take That and The Verve have reformed that the label would want to release another compilation in order to boost sales and potentially propel the rumour mill into thinking that they too are jumping on the bandwagon and have kissed and made up.

I'm sorry for being so cynical, I must say I do adore this band, you just have to take a look at some of my earlier posts to know that they've influenced me in a strong way. I promise that if The Smiths ever reform though, I will publish a post declaring that I will prance about in the centre of Bristol wearing a jam jar costume complete with Gladioli, and I will do so gladly.




The Sound of The Smiths is out now, on Physical copy, 12" and download.




What do you think:


Is this album purely for the dosh?


Or is there something more to it?






Do tell.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Everything is Average Nowadays

Is it just me or is Chart music getting progressively worse lately?
I listen to Radio 1 in the mornings for the lovely Chris Moyles (love him or hate him he must be doing something good, with millions of listeners, something XFM would probably kill for) and today I swear with each song, excluding Oasis' Lyla, (one of their weaker songs in my opinion) the quality got more and more dire. I mean, have you heard that TI song that's currently the second biggest download on iTunes?







Live your life?

Christ, this song make me want to take my life.




It's utter bilge, and yet more people have downloaded this song this week than
Kings of Leon or Guns 'n' Roses. How is this possible?

Now I'm not a huge fan of either of those bands, very much overrated really, but surely their music is much more original and musically interesting than a song whose best bit is the riff they borrowed from O Zone? Elsewhere, you've got songs like Womanizer by Britney Spears, albeit not as terrible as some of her songs released in her bald headed psycho phase, but still, where's the substance?

Each to their own and all, and I know the same could be said for some of the gazillion white guitar bands out there, but there's nothing new here. Nothing to excite me, nothing to make me stop what I'm doing and actually listen to it. Not on the radio anyway, unless you go to stations like NME Radio (and Kerrang radio to a certain extent, though ever since they played Scouting for Girls I have abstained from listening to it, rock my arse) or 6 Music, which offer some alternative. Still, what's evidently clear is that the above is the type of music that appeals to the mainstream, teenage i.e. downloader's market who will actually purchase the songs; altogether a very depressing thing.


Am I wrong? Leave a comment and tell me what you think of the state of the Top 40, if you want and have nout else to do.

:)

Some decent Radio stations:
NME Radio
XFM
Triple J
Think of any more? Let me know, I'll add them here.