Saturday, 11 August 2007

The Pretender

The new Foo Fighters single sees Dave Grohl creating the kind of tune he makes best. One with plenty of energy, great dynamics and a passionately-screamed chorus at it's heart. In many respects 'The Pretender' isn't a million miles away from the lead single off 2005's In Your Honour, Best of you. But this doesn't matter, for any true follower of the band will know they've still failed to top 1997's The Colour and the Shape and because of it's brilliance are probably never going to.

If this single is anything to go by (and the Foo's say it is) then 'Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace' should be a welcome return to the form displayed in the aforementioned album. Many people will slate the Foos for releasing another album of orthodox Foo tracks, but what is not particularly new can still be hugely enjoyable. AC/DC are a textbook case in point, a band who barely modified their formula throughout thier entire career, yet still had a catalogue of classics.

MP3 Link: Foo Fighters - The Pretender
Official Website

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Mish-Mash Mix-Tape of New

Some new tunes I've been meaning to post for a while. Appologies for lack of updates.. I got a new mac book and haven't got my mp3s all on it yet and as I've been using it most the time (because using it is a dream) I haven't posted anything.

Simian Mobile Disco. A much hyped name at the moment, especially amongst young nu-rave scenesters. I was unsure why they were at all outstanding at first, but after some sampling of new album 'Attack Decay Sustain Release' I can really say they have quite a special talent for creating slow-burning but infectious electro numbers.

MP3 link: I Believe - Simian Mobile Disco
SMD Official Site

Calvin Harris. If his lyrics are anything to go by ('I get all the girls I get all the girls') then the guy regards himself as quite the successful 'player' when it comes to aquiring members of the opposite sex . New single 'The Girls' is the converse to the aforementioned SMD track with it's instant-rush super-funky bass line which struts it's way through most the track. This one is infectious too, and if it were an infection then it would definitley be an STD.

Mp3 link: The Girls - Calvin Harris
Calvin Harris Official Site

The Trills! Or 'The Thrills' as we know them, without the Irish accent. They've come up with a new album 'Teenager' and this is the first single to be taken-off it. This song really doesn't push the boundries for the Thrills, it's practically a paraphrasing of much of the material on their first album, lyrically at least (one horse town in particular dealt with very similar themes). But musically, musically it is very good. The album's release, perfectly-timed for summer (if summer ever arives that is - with the constant rain!), could be a smart move as the Thrills are definitley a summer-time band.

MP3 link: Nothing Changes Round Here - The Thrills
The Thrills Official Site

Finally, Rooney. I have no idea what their name is supposed to mean but am quite sure it can't have anything to do with England's star striker of the same name. I haven't been pulled in by any of their past work I have casually overheard, but their new single is a piece of perfectly-crafted indie-pop which demands your attention.

MP3 link: When did your heart go missing - Rooney
Rooney Official Site

Ta-rah for now x

Monday, 9 July 2007

Life is just a dancefloor but I made my best decisions standing by the wall holding a beer

Yesterday evening I was fortunate enough to catch an extremely talented Australian singer/songwriter who was in town and playing a small set at our local open-mic night, a Mr Paul Greene. This guy shone like a diamond in the rough amongst the other acts of the night, despite many of these being talented musicians and not just your any-guy-and-a-guitar acts sometimes customary at open-mic nights.

So moved was I by the four songs he played that I was immediately prompted to buy his studio LP 'Reset'on sale for a barganous £7. I also had a chat with him and found out that he'd been doing what he did so brilliantly for the best part of 7 years, 'could have bought a house' with the amount he spent on production, and his album is available in shops in Australia.

As for the music, he really had one of the most gorgeous acoustic guitar tones I can ever recall hearing. It was very full sounding (helped by the careful use of a delay pedal) and at times sounded like an electric guitar whilst he simultaneously strummed and played lead. To add to the atmosphere he innovativley employed a kick-pedal to build-up sections and carry his songs forward, appearing to do so effortlessly. This is illustrated here:

Being so blown away with the quality of his performance I had hardly taken in the lyrical contents of his songs. Listening to the LP I discover he writes his songs about the basics of life and relationships that many songwriters overlook in the fruitless pursuit of something greater, and does so with the fantastic tongue-in-cheek frankness seen in the title lyric of this post. The song 'Pretty Girls' from which this lyric is taken shows astute observations of basic social processes we all encounter every day, on a par with those of Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys (who also sings heavily on these themes, especially in their latest LP). In doing so he asks simple questions that we all might think but never say:

'But what's so good about pretty girls?
They always want too much
They always go too slow
And never give enough to the conversation
What's so good about pretty girls?
They always leave me alone
With a heart as cold as stone
Let me stumble my way back home

These lyrics made me laugh, because they're so true. He's singing of course about how people get by rellying on superficialities such as looks, substituting these for effortful conversation in this case. Later he reconciles:
'Life is just a party
But it's the people that I didn't meet that got me where I am today
So just give me a good loving woman at the end of the day
That knows the difference between beautiful and pretty'

Simple but so effective. I see no reason why this guy couldn't be extremely successful commercially, he's singing songs that can touch everyone and in a style which is so accessible to anyone. So Jack Johnson watch out - Paul Greene is about!

MP3: Pretty Girls - Paul Greene (highly recommended)
MP3: One Minute of One Day - Paul Greene (highly recommended)
MP3: Get Over It - Paul Greene

Paul Greene Official Website
Paul Greene on Myspace

Pretty Girls also really reminds me of this Elton John song, covered and shining in it's full splendour here by Ben Folds:

MP3: Tiny Dancer (Live) - Ben Folds (highly recommended) (info)

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Girls make pretty songs

What can be said? I've been bored today, feeling a bit under the weather, and without much sense of purpose or agency. I've taken to reading journal articles about areas of psychology and neuroscience that intrigue me, purely because I can. Athens is an excellent system that lets you read all the online journals your university/institution has subscribed to and while my subscription with Southampton is still active I may as well get the most out of it (and by that I mean get the most out of the thousands of pounds of tuition fees I've paid over 3 years!)

Anyway *ahem* I digress. Last week I made the observation that many songs written about girls are extremely good. Specifically it seems, songs which have a one word title, that of the girl. I noticed this after hearing the song 'Kate' by Ben Folds Five which features the superb lyrics

'Every day she wears the same thing, I think she smokes pot, she's everything I want, everything I'm not'

Quite simply the evidence speaks for itself:

Mp3: Kate - Ben Folds Five [info]
Mp3: Sarah - Thin Lizzy
Mp3: Brandy - Red Hot Chili Peppers (Looking Glass cover) [info]
Mp3: Aurora - Foo Fighters [info]
Mp3: Claudia - The View [info]

..Also there's this exquisite piece of acoustic finery by the acoustic guitar legend Tommy Emmanuel [info]:

Here's some more I have thought of but am not posting for whatever reason:

Layla - Eric Clapton
Velouria - Pixies
Valerie - The Zutons
Jacqueline - Franz Ferdinand
Denis - Blondie
Xanthein - Symposium

....And here's a couple of girl's name songs which contain more than one word but are still very good and worth posting while we're on the subject.

Mp3: Believe me Natalie - The Killers [info]
Mp3: Kelly watch the Stars - Air [info]

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Arctic Monkeys Glasto Triumph

Arctic Monkeys proved themselves as worthy of the top slot on Glastonbury's Pyramid stage on Friday night with a superb and well-rounded performance which saw them playing a wealth of material off their past two LPs as well as these fantastic Glasto-only bonuses...

Temptation greets you like your naughty friend (Brianstorm flipside, feat. Dizzee Rascal)

MP3: Temptation greats you like your naughty friend - Arctic Monkeys

Diamonds are Forever (Shirley Bassey Cover)

MP3: Diamonds are Forever - Arctic Monkeys (ripped from youtube clip)

Full set list (thanks to

'The Sun Goes Down'
'Still Take You Home'
'Dancing Shoes'
'Ritz To The Rubble'
'Teddy Picker'
'This House Is A Circus'
'Fake Tales Of San Francisco'
'Temptation Greets You Like A Naughty Friend'
'Old Yellow Bricks'
'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor'
'If You Were There, Beware'
'Flourescent Adolescent'
'Mardy Bum'
'Do Me A Favour'
'Leave Before The Lights Come On'


'The View From The Afternoon'
'Diamonds Are Forever'
'A Certain Romance'

Be better!

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

under the covers

This is inspired by one of my favourite blogs Say Anything Syndrome from a post about alternate versions or 'covers' of songs. I've always held a torch for bands who can reinvent songs into something special and new, and this post was the catalyst I needed for me to dig around my music library for some examples of these.

After scouring my music library I came up with nice selection of covers which radically manipulate the originals in each case, performing perhaps ethically-questionable experimentation to their original rhythms, phrasings and melodies.

(If you download only 1 track make sure it's this one by Nada Surf)

On review of the tracks I chose I believe these to all be excellent examples of what is to be gained by considerate reorganisation of the track's core structures. It is my firm belief that some songs are more easily re-moulded into alternate versions, or to borrow a concept in neuroscience; they have greater reorganisational 'plasticity' (as the infant brain does, seen in it's better ability to recover function after injury compared to that of an adult - interested? See Wikipedia here).

This is not to say that the efforts of these artists has not required immense skill to reshape these songs, but rather that they have been able to do so because the potential has existed in the first place. In some cases I would say I prefer the reorganised versions, with which you are more than welcome to disagree with me. Well without further ado here they are,I hope you are enlightened.

First up, setting the standard very high indeed is a cover of a pretty middle-of-the-road Dylan song by the god-like-genius of Jimi Hendrix. For me this cover completely gives a new life and meaning to a song which in it's original form plods along like any of Dylan's less-acclaimed work. It's no wonder that it's topped best ever cover listings before; from the heavily-accented intro beats, to the immediacy of Jimi's vocals and the cosmic guitar solos - Hendrix sounds as majestic as ever. This cover is simply a masterpiece, never mind what is considered of the original.

MP3: All Along the Watchtower - Bob Dylan
MP3: All Along the Watchtower - The Jimi Hendrix Experience

I've been waiting for ages for a good opportunity to post this next song. Whilst not technically a cover, it's a live re-working a song by the production genius of LCD Soundsystem. In it's 'shallow' version, LCD show how the indie-dance vibe of Tribulations can be stripped to it's bare bones and still work quite beautifully. A very nice example of re-phrasing vocals too.

MP3: Tribulations - LCD Soundsystem
MP3: Tribulations (shallow version) - LCD Soundsystem [infos]

This next cover is of a very sexy song and by a very sexy lady too. I'm talking about Gwen Stefani of course, and the song 'what you waiting for?' which I stumbled upon in a covered version in a CD that came free with Q magazine. This is an admirable effort by the boys in Franz Ferdinand. Especially nice is the intro riffs they add, the heaviness of the bass and the splicing-in of Billy Idol's White Wedding at the end.

MP3: What you waiting for? - Gwen Stefani [info]
MP3: What you waiting for? - Franz Ferdinand [info]

I heard this next song for the first time in it's covered form as I expect many others did in an episode of series 1 OC. It's the bit when Anna is leaving Newport for good, she's at the airport with her bags, Seth has only just found out she's leaving and him and Ryan rush to the scene to stop her. As he runs through the airport he catches sight of her and calls her name. She turns around, startled. He tells her she can't leave, that he needs her - he thinks she loves him but is mistaken. Still he pleads for her to stay.

As the chorus of the song kicks in, she turns around and tells him goodbye with her final advice: 'Confidence, Cohen'. The song playing in the background 'if you leave' is co-ordinated perfectly with what's happening on-screen and makes for a very emotional goodbye scene. This is all thanks to arranging genius of Nada Surf, who took what sounds like a throw-away 80's pop track and made it something so beautifully heartfelt and emotional. The building of layers upon the simplicity of a pulsing bass-line lifts this song to a higher plane.

MP3: If you leave - OMD
MP3: If you leave - Nada Surf [info]

And now I've talked about all that whoosy emotional stuff, how about we end on a cover by a ballsy punk legend? Joey Ramone turns this sensational jazz classic into his own with the help of chugging rhythm-guitar and well-placed riffing. Joey is keeping the same message of the song, he's still saying 'what a wonderful world', it's just in a very different tone to Loui. It's one with the certainty of a rock n' roller whos been through it all, survived it all, and is still sure: it's a wonderful world.

MP3: What a wonderful world - Loui Armstrong

MP3: What a wonderful world - Joey Ramone

Monday, 18 June 2007

The only place that I can look is down

The mood of this song perfectly mirrors my feelings at this moment.

MP3: The only place that I can look is down - The Bishops [info]

On a lighter note I saw this the other day over on Neil's Life and found it hilarious:

Post-uni life is depressing... I need to leave the country! Korea in August, fingers crossed.