Tuesday, October 31, 2006

All Hallows

Happy Halloween!!!!
The new Contrast podcast is out today, with a very suitable spooky theme 'Music To Watch Ghouls By', and finally i got round to contributing so definately give it a listen and you can hear me make a ghoul out of myself.
I've never really made a big thing out of Halloween before, it just sort of past me by, so i'm gonna try and make today quite special. I think we're gonna try and watch a couple of scary movies, really want to watch Evil Dead, so hopefully they have that in the video store and i think we're gonna get Silent Hill as well, apparently its meant to be brown-trousers scary. Then later we're going to a party, haven't decided whether to go as a zombie or Salad Fingers, probably a zombie but i'm still not sure. While i decide here's a couple of tracks to make your day a little bit spoooookier.

Death In Vegas - Aisha
AFI - Fall Children

Monday, October 30, 2006

Store Bought Cool

I get so many crap band requesting to be my friend on Myspace, most of them dull, predictable rock bands, or boring singer/songwriters, but now and again something comes up that takes me by surprise, its fresh, original and very good or just sounds like someone else i like. With Store Bought Cool, it was a bit of both. It does help that i like the whole lo-fi, anti-folk scene because comparisons with Jeffery Lewis, Adam Green and the like come flooding into my brain but Dave L Dreimann brings an Australian, angry wit to the music, which sets him apart from his other contempories. It is really DIY and sometimes sounds very raw but when he gets it right, it comes off with charm, humour and most importantly fun.

Store Bought Cool - Board Games
Store Bought Cool - Goodbye Little Bird

p.s. If you have done so already, you should really vote on Friday's face-off. I'm losing quite badly, any help would be gratefully received.
p.p.s Sorry for the initial misspelling of the band's name, i'm very tired at the mo

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Face-Off : Round 5

Just imagine for a second, a little Tim and a little Neb, innocent and naive, all bubblegum and football stickers, before we'd been corrupted by the evils of secondary school, girls and Jagermeister. We were also musically pre-pubescent, never having ventured into the big world of rock, pop, punk, disco, etc. without the help of older brother or parent and then, suddenly, one band/song/album exploded into our lives and took away that precious something, our musical virginity, and the rest is history. Well thats the theme of this week's showdown, a song from that album, the first one you ever bought

First up is Tim

Blur - Trouble At The Message Centre

I think i first heard Blur on the radio, but i don't really know. I remember seeing an advert for Parklife on the side of the 119 bus and thinking 'i want that album' and i bought the tape with my birthday money a week or so after. It was so refreshing, having spent hours listening to my mum's Chuck Berry or being forced to listen to Alice In Chains by my older brother, to have something that was mine and that was so euphoric and loud. I listened to it repeatedly on a family trip to Southwold, it must have been 8 or 9 times in a row and i still wanted more. Listening back to it now brings back so many good memories. I decide to choose one of the lesser known tracks off the album as nearly every song is as good the others and i remember singing very loudly to this.

Next up is Neb

Suede - Beautiful Ones

Time for some nostalgia for being 10 and TOTP introducing me to the first band I ever loved independantly of my older brother, so I suppose I owe Brett Anderson and co quite a lot. Then again I did spend pretty much all the money I had in the world on a copy of Coming Up the very next day so maybe we're even. Suede aren't the first band you think of when you remember Brit-pop, and yes, to a point (trying to win for a start) I do kinda wish it'd been a Pulp cd but I'm not that bother ed because Beautiful Ones is a killer track in my mind.

Oh my we were Brit-pop boys. Get voting on your favourite. Just leave a comment saying which one's the best and you can decide which one of us had the better music taste at the age of 10.

Buy these classic albums and relive some childhood memories:
Blur - Parklife
Suede - Coming Up

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Silence At Sea

I discovered Cardiff's Silence At Sea through the awesome-ness, and my blog of the month, that is Nothing But Green Lights. Their light-hearted and quite sappy sound caught me instantly, like a venus-fly trap to a buzzing insect thats got too close, and ingested me completely. I don't think a day has gone passed since then, when i haven't had to listen to Dead Cowboy Town, it just puts such a big smile on my face. It is quite a sad song but the vocals, the melody, the xylophone, its just so childish and innocent, you can't help but warm to it. Its like a nursery rhyme, almost playground-esque in nature but full of sorrow and sadness.
From there i check out their myspace and their other songs are along the same vain, each with a catchy melody and some really nice instrumentation capped off with Laura's sweet voice. It says they're trying to get a ep together, which would be groovy, so lets hope G and Laura keep at filling the world with more of their little ditties.

Silence At Sea - Dead Cowboy Town
Silence At Sea - Than Her Heart Allowed

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Swound! + Botnik @ Uni. Of Nottingham Union

Getting drunk at gigs, mistake or all good fun? Usually i'd say its a good thing, it makes the crowd more open and creates a friendlier atmosphere (until someone takes it too far, of course) but when you're going to be reviewing the concert in question, having a few drinks causes problems i.e. hazy details of the bands and spending most of the time chatting to people instead of listening. So a gig at my student union means one thing, a very badly written and vague review, at least i have an excuse this time.

That's not to say the music was badly written and vague, in fact, it was the polar opposite. By the time Botnik took the stage, i was at the drunken point where blowing whistles and raving with glo-sticks is a very good idea, which was pretty perfect. Botnik used to be a Sonic-The-Hedgehog cover band and you can still hear the influence in their sounds, especially when the first noises you hear are the sounds of the bassist play an old-skool gameboy, but their music goes further than that. Its electro-ravey-rock with an energy so captivating that you can't help to throw your hands in the air and dance your bad-ass off. It also helps that their frontman is so natural onstage, entertaining the crowd through a few technical hip-cups and getting everyone involved. The set ended with him curled up on the floor, in the middle of the crowd, sorta screaming and making sounds, while we all waved our glo-sticks around and pulled shapes, and then a few blasts of game-boy sounds and that was Botnik. Game Over

There was a lengthy gap between Botnik and Swound! so i had a few more cheap 'n' cheeky pints, which might have tipped me over that wasted edge, which we all try and stay away from. I recall Swound! being entertaining, bouncy and fun, that one of the guitarist got on top of the grating thing and was threatened with expulsion, that a pit started around me, that i got a bit bruised but thats about it i think. I've posted on them before so for more info check here, definately do coz they're really good.
It was a very enjoyable night, Nottingham Union really isn't the best place to see live music (they didn't even turn the lights off), which was probably one of the only downside to the event. I'm definately gonna try and catch both acts in more appropriate venues next time round

Here's a track from each:

Botnik - Your Shoes Are On
Swound! - Whats Your Poison?

(cheers marky mark for the oh-so professional photography)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

"I'm A Professional Killer"

I've watched Grosse Point Blank for the first time in ages, it never gets dull, old or boring. There's something really refreshing about the film that keeps funny and moving every time i watch it. Firstly its got a great cast, John Cusack pulls off insecure, confused, middle aged man so well, i'm sure (or hope) thats exactly what i'm gonna be like when i get to that age, altho hopefully not a hit-man, Minnie Driver so sexy, confident but still with an air of adolescent longing which really hits the spot with me. The rest of the cast are play some great characters too, from Jeremy Piven's desperate best friend to Alan Arkin's troubled therapist and the list goes on. The script is immense too, the story is light-hearted enough so its not a effort to sit through but is still moving, very very funny and sometimes ridiculous, especially the fight sequences.
But the thing that struck me this time was the quality of the soundtrack. Nearly every tune is one of the recognisably awesome 80s classics from The Specials to The Bangles, which make you want to sing-along until you're told to shut up by your housemate, who's sitting on the sofa next to you trying to watch the film. It makes me wish that i went to school in the 80s, just so some good music would be played at my reunion, coz i know its just gonna be Take That, Spice Girls and hopefully a bit of S Club (well that would get me moving) but i'd prefer to dance to The Jam or The Clash. The theme tune, if you want to call it that, by The Violent Femmes, works so well with the nature of the film, especially with the shots its used in. Just the whole film's put together so well, one of my favourite movies for sure.
Here's some classic tunes of the soundtrack:

Violent Femmes - Blister In The Sun

The Specials - A Message To You Rudy
Nena - 99 Luft Balloons

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Songs In The Key Of B

Why do i bother doing this blog when there's writing like this out there? Why am i even bothering writing this crappyily scribed article on some of the best journalism out there? What's the point? Oh man, i feel so inadequate. This month's Plan B magazine has left me with a bit of funny feeling after reading it, its so good. The live review of much-hyped coverstars CSS's london gig, featuring a great tidal wave metaphor, an amazing interview with Thrash veterans Slayer, where they talk about how "it'd be really easy to break up the band" and how the singer sounds like the Cookie Monster, discussions about 'Outsider music' (whatever that is?), and just loads of incisive and intelligent reviews, articles and illustrations on all my favourite things, i mean there's even a comics section. If it was just a magazine in print, i wouldn't be so perturbed as i'd being write in a different medium so no comparisons could be drawn but now with their website, which contains most of the magazine articles plus so much more, they join the likes of drownedinsound, popjustice, themoviebinge, nothingbutgreenlights, daytrotter etc, on the lists of sites that i envy and admire. Though i think i'll stick to my crappy lil blog for now.
Plan B gave away a free cd this month too, here's a few tracks off it:

The Gossip - Yr Mangled Heart (Live)
Electrelane - Eight Steps
Magnetic Fields - Smoke And Mirrors
Chicks On Speed - Myspace

Go buy it at all good retailers

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Young Folk

Yay!!! i won Rob Da Bank's awesome compilation Folk Off! the other day from our student magazine, Impact, (check it out, my wonderful friend James runs the website). Its a real varied mix of a collection, some good, some bad, some traditional, some experimental but all the tracks have a very earthy sound to them.

There's been a bit of a folk revival recently, many bands seem to be going back to traditional(-ish) roots to gain inspire for their work. For me, the main crux of it coming from the anti-folk scene. I know that sounds strange but i think anti-folk still holds some folk principles true. Artists like Jeffrey Lewis, Diane Cluck, Kimya Dawson and Emmy The Great are still playing acoustic guitars and singing about the world and times we live in, which i think is the essence of folk music, or nu-folk as they called it. These guys just see the world differently, in a more illuminated or transparent way, to most people, but don't want to be restrained by the limitations of folk music, they want to experiment with it. There's also amazing, more traditional kinda stuff going on, with the likes of Rachael Dadd, This Is The Kit and Eighteenth Day Of May over here and Micah P Hinson and Mi & L'Au over in the States. The recent folk festival at London's Spitz venue shows how much of a resurgence folk has had, with popular acts such as Tunng, Fionn Regan and The Broken Family Band playing there.

The Folk Off! compilation has some great tracks on it from some really special artists, so i thought, see as i got it for free, that i might as well share some of it with you for nothing, so here's a few tracks off it from both sides of the atlantic.

Homegrown talent:
This Is The Kit - Two Wooden Spoons
James Yorkston & Reporter - Woozy With Cider
And from across the pond:
Micah P Hinson - Yard Of Blonde Girls
Jack Lewis - The Day Neil Young Died

I saw the video for the Micah P Hinson song a while ago, here it is. Its very odd but really cool. Also if you want to vote for the Friday Face-Off, do it soon as i think voting will probably stop tomorrow some time. Check a few post back for all the details.

Monday, October 09, 2006

YMSS + Redjetson @ Brudenell Social Club

It's fun up north.
Back in Leeds means being back in the north's best music scene (Sheffield?? where's that?) so I'm happy. Just to confirm this I get to review some amazing gigs by some great bands and get very very excited about them. Hooray! (has a few deep breaths and a cup of tea) So yeah I've calmed down a bit now and can tell you about seeing Youth-Movie Soundtrack Strategies supported by Redjetson at the Brudenell Social Club last sunday. It's strange how two bands who share many similarities in terms of approach, ambition and general genre can produce sets that contrast each other so sharply in terms of approach. Redjetson first produce a display of wonderfully precise musicianship, not that they lack a healthy degree of randomness with their 3 guitars, if not tonnes then at least many, many kilograms of effects pedals, and a little metal xylophone (called a glockenspiel? answers on a postcard) completing a full sound, vocals not quite ideal to me but thats a personal thing. YMSS sound in contrast gloriously spontaneous playing their old songs and demoing interesting new material. Kicking off with the Pitch And Yaw Of Satellites and demonstrating that replacing half a song's vocals with a trumpet can kinda work if you're brave enough to do it. Finally a massive ...Spooks The Horse has the whole crowd moving as YMSS greater intensity wins out. Settlefish are in Leeds on Sunday and the Draft (ex-Hot Water Music members) after that, take that Sheffield.

Redjetson - Divorce
YMSS - A Little Late He Staggered Through The Door And Into Her Eyes

p.s. there's still time to get your voice heard over the week's big debate, which song is better for a hangover Jawbreaker's Accident Prone or Lion's Mane by Iron & Wine. Get voting!

More Accessible

The new album, entitled Hello Everything, from Squarepusher, aka Tom Jenkinson, is out next week and, i have to say, what i've heard from it is pretty awesome. It seems alot more focused than his previous offerings, especially Ultravisitor, which went pretty much everywhere it could, and some of the tracks have these great little melodies through them, which, all in all, make this album an easy listen... for a Sqaurepusher album that is. But die-hard fans, don't worry, Tom still pushes himself and boundaries here. There's a pretty mesmerizing bass solo-y bit halfway through opener Hello Meow and some of the beats and sounds he creates will make your head swim. We also get to see the more jazz side of Tom's playing, especially in the laid-back and quite funky Theme From Sprite, which really highlights his quite incredible bass talents. Its altogether an amazing record of dance/experimental sounds

Squarepusher - Planetarium
Sqaurepusher - Theme From Sprite

There's a few other tracks available at headphone sex and gigwise

p.s. We need some votes for our Friday Face-Off in the post below, choose your favourite hangover song and vote using the comments link, pleeeease

Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday Face-Off : Round 4

We're back!!! After a long, and well deserved break, finally both me and Neb are back to full strength and mental health, to re-enter the funfunfun ring and musically battle each other to the death. Just a quick recap, its 3-1 to moi so Neb needs your votes.
This friday's theme was chosen a few weeks back after my birthday celebrations and is songs to listen to when you have a hangover so grab a drink, or five, and get involved.

Steppping up to the plate first is Neb

Jawbreaker - Accident Prone

I tell you this, a cup of tea and a cheese and Marmite toasted sandwich, patented hangover cure. Its great, not too agressive but isn't so gentle that I feel sorry for myself and end up acting fragile all-day. What can be more important than something that helps get rid of your hangover. In fact play the whole album and by the time Boxcar comes round you may even be smiling.

Now its my turn

Iron & Wine - Lion's Mane

I'm sure we've all been there. Waking up in a hot, stuffy room, still wearing the clothes from the night before, your mouth feels all furry and there seems to be a slow, but excruciating pounding going on somewhere in the depths of your brain. You just want to curl up in a ball and stay there until its all over, well here's your perfect soundtrack. This song, and album, has got me through so many mornings, and days, when i just couldn't do anything except lay in bed, moan alot and let Sam Beam's extraordinaryly smooth and soothing vocals take the pain away... oh yeh and throw up.

There you go. I think the best way to make your decision this week is through a bit of "method voting". Just get very, very, very drunk this weekend (both me and Neb would recommend Jagermeister for that) and then when the hangover kicks in the next morning play both songs and vote for whichever works the best. Well its up to you so start drinking now.