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.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Coming out of my cage and I've been doing just fine

Last night = The Graduation Ball!

There was..

Sophie Ellis-Bextor (not as hot in real life I've got to say..)

Cool-looking old dudes playing jazz..

Lots of fun had by all! (looking quite drunk here)

To be frank I was rather dissapointed by Sophie's performance (though to be fair, I wasn't expecting much). It was simply lacklustre. She shimmied and wiggled a little bit but didn't look like she was really enjoying herself. My biggest complaint however was that neither she nor her band appeared to be singing or playing live.

To be fair to the girl though, playing to a roomful of pissed-up students who mostly don't like her music can't be the kind of gig she really wants to be playing, so perhaps if you want to see the real enthusiastic Sophie (the one the programme described her as) then you need to see her live. Though I'll give her this, she does have some damn catchy songs; set opener 'if I can't dance' has been stuck in my head since she sang it (or rather, didn't sing it!)

MP3: If I can't dance - Sophie Ellis Bextor [info]

The next act were clearly a really talented student band who tore their way through covers of some favourite student anthems. These were some real classics, songs that'll remind us all of our university years for many years to come I'm sure.

Mr Brightside is one of my favourite songs of all time. I think something about it makes it especially appropriate for university too. For instance the lyric:
'Coming out of my cage and I've been doing just fine'
That's a feeling I'll definitley associate with coming through university.

MP3: Mr Brightside (Live XFM Session 2004)- The Killers

This one is another favourite at student cheese nights the band also played.

MP3: Sweet Child O'Mine (Live Era 87'-93') - Guns N' Roses

Next to take the stage was Edith Bowman, who played a very pleasing set of indie favourites, and by this I mean more student anthems. When she played Basket Case by Green Day I suddenly felt this feeling of connectedness between my disparate years of university life. I recalled hearing it in the very first week at the freshers ball and being happy to see that everyone could enjoy a good song with self-depricating lyrics. I felt like I'd come full circle.

MP3: Basket Case - Green Day

And finally I feel compelled to post some songs which I think aptly sum-up the feelings associated with coming to the end of an era, and songs I generally associate with my years of student-hood.

MP3: End of the Road - The Bombjacks [Highly Recommended]
MP3: End of a Century - Blur
MP3: Sit Down - James
MP3: Just Like Heaven - The Cure

This is a sad one :'(

MP3: This is the last time - Keane

Thursday, 31 May 2007

a touch too much

Random post here. Yesterday I bought tickets for my graduation ball and it just so happened that the headline act was announced that day too. And it is..

Sophie Ellis-Bextor!

Mmmhh I thought, I wasn't really sure what to think of this one. I was certainly somewhat disappointed after hearing rumours that it might be 'The GO! Team' playing. It also sparked the creation of a facebook group called 'who the hell is Sophie Ellis-Bextor?' which may rather aptly sum-up how many felt about it.

Now I don't think she's awful - she has released some low-brow cheesy pop (Murder on the Dancefloor), but she did also release that song 'if this ain't love' with Groovejet, which is a bit of an Ibiza classic. And she is just plain hot. Also I heard her new single and it's a bit indie, which is a promising turn of direction at least. I thought I'd search for MP3s off her new album to see what was install for us and have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with what I found.

'Love is Here' is an up-tempo ballad reminiscent of the glory days of Elton John. The lyrics are cheesy as hell (relentlessly optimistic) but then again this is the perfect thing for a graduation ball. I can see this getting people dancing, as if in some scene from the ending credits of a teen Rom-Com (you know, when everyone's at the high-school prom and even the really geeky unpopular kids are getting into it and just having fun).

Finally I'd like to welcome Natalie and Alice as new readers of the blog (and guys, I've posted some songs that I feel are relevant to 'today's incident', the details of which shall remain unpublicised!)

MP3: Junior Kickstart - The GO! Team
MP3: Love is here - Sophie Ellis-Bextor [info]
MP3: Touch too much - AC/DC
MP3: In Too Deep - Sum 41 [info]
MP3: Gettin Enough - Lil' Chris [info]
(Sorry the temptation was just too great to avoid posting this one!)

Monday, 28 May 2007

I Could'a Been a Contender..

Sometimes I feel like I want to be the best. I think everyone probably get's this feeling sometimes, as we are after all animals, competitive by our very nature. I don't ever recall hearing such wonderful musings on this idea however as in this newly released single by Reverend and the Makers:

MP3: Heavyweight Champion of The World - Reverend and the Makers [info]

Put these notions with wonderfully funky basslines and dancy beats and you've got an instant indie-disco classic.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Juicy tunes

After handing my project in on thursday, I found myself literally in the throws of ecstasy for the the next couple of days. Cue a messy night (culminating in Jesters, as any good messy night should).

Unfortunately since the momentary bliss of my weekend I am faced with the reality that I haven't ACTUALLY graduated yet, which is a bit of a drag really. Cue daily trips to the library at 9:30 AM and coming home between 6-7 PM, and hence not a lot of time to be writing the blog (although I hold my hands well and truly up to playing SWAT 4 instead - damn that game is a addictive!)

So what else can be done? I know - provide you with some of the juiciest tunes I've heard in the last couple of weeks:

MP3: Smoker's Outside The Hospital Doors - Editors
MP3: Mercy Mercy Me (Marvin Gaye Cover) - The Strokes
MP3: Party Pit - The Hold Steady
MP3: Phantom - Justice

In other news I've decided I'm going to South Korea after I graduate to teach English for at least a year. It sounds awesome, well-paid and a safe bet as it's set-up through an independent middle-man who runs a business placing people and therefore there's MUCH less chance you'll get shafted (the Korean private schooling system is poorly regulated and quite corrupt in general).

It will be nice to leave the country!

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

New Contributor.. and Serious TUNE-AGE!

Hey all, appologies for the lack of updates - I'm currently experiencing the most busy stage of my university career (3 essays in 3 weeks, the last being my dissertation).. But what can you do. I suppose the fact that I've been posting less on here may indicate that I am doing some work, and therefore this will lead to me getting a good job.. making some money.. generally succeeding in life ect.. But really work has been off and on (it's on at the moment, which is good), and so the lack of updates has been more down to procrastination (the kind where I can neither commit to doing work or writing the blog). Its ok though because now I am doing work AND writing the blog.

But fear not - for as of today we have a new contributor to the blog! John Violet (sometimes known as V-unit) will be using his literary prowess to help me fill these pages with superb new music recommendations and many an amusing annecdote.

And for being so faithful to me, my regular readers (if you're out there) I reward you with a selection of some of the biggest TUNES over the last couple of months.

(NB. A TUNE is a song that when you hear it makes you instantly think 'this is a TUNE!' in your head)

MP3: Fancy Footwork - Chromeo [Info]
MP3: Suspicious Character - The Blood Arm [Info]
MP3: Poisonous Emblem - The KBC [Info]

Friday, 27 April 2007

Electro-Therapy Mix

I was very hungover today. Hangovers seem to come easily to me, rather unfortunatley, but in this case I had well and truly drunk enough to assure myself with a day-long hangover. It's not all bad though as being hungover can have in a strange way, a nice spaced-out feeling where everything seems fresher and you get a new perspective on things. It's like your senses have been scrubbed clean. This is the perfect time to listen to some chilled electro bleepyness to get those brain neurones firing again.

So behold, the Electro-Therapy mix:

MP3: Someone Great - LCD Soundsystem
MP3: Colours - Hot Chip
MP3: Such Great Heights - The Postal Service
MP3: Digital Love - Daft Punk
MP3: Sexy Boy - Air
MP3: This Charming Man - Stars
MP3: Just Like Heaven - David E. Sugar
MP3: Sad Song - Au Revoir Simone
MP3: The Most Beautiful Girl - Datarock
MP3: Like a Stone - Audioslave

...And if the guitar solo in like a stone hasn't sorted your head out then you may be beyond hope!

Wednesday, 18 April 2007


The events that took place at Virginia Tech on Monday are indescribably terrible. I just spent the last hour or so reading various pieces on the Internet about what happened and am suddenly struck with the reality of it all (made most explicit when I stumbled across the myspace page of one of the victims :s). I really have no words to talk about the specifics of what happened. My condolences go out to everyone affected in any way by this tragedy.

Right now I want to focus on the positives that can be gained from something like this, in the face of overwhelming negativeness. Events like this are important because they can make you stop, press pause on your own life for a minute, and think about life's frailty and how fortunate you are to have the life that you do. The most positive thing here is the expression of gratitude. Research has shown that expressing gratitude makes you happier (we've studied this recently), and therefore doing so is a simple way to gain something from all of this. Please do not mistake 'gaining' something with 'taking' something, as to do so would imply that one is greedily exploiting the situation. To dwell on these events needlessly would create a lot of depressive and anxious feelings (which I even started to experience after reading after my reading about the event). There is already enough pain for the relatives and friends of the victims as a consequence of this for you to need to add this unnecessary burden to your mind.

For anyone interested on reading more about Monday's events I recommend the Wikipedia page which has all the details you could ever want to know.

I came across an excellent article on the blog Obsidian Wings here, the author of which had a friend who was considering doing something similarily awful. A very interesting read.

Finally, an MP3 tribute to gratitude and life:

MP3: Destiny Calling - James
MP3: Whatever - Oasis
MP3: Mexico - James Taylor
MP3: Times Like These (live) - Foo Fighters
MP3: Picture of My Life - Jamiroquai
MP3: So Alive - Ryan Adams

And please, use these events to remind yourself why it is so important to live every day to the full.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Great Lost Band Series: #1 Symposium

This arrived in the post today:

The CD is by Symposium, a late 90's British band with a cult-following (biggest dent in the UK charts was #25) who unfortunately disappeared around the 2000 mark. They have been one of my favourite bands for a long time, since when I first started getting into music in my teenage years. Hearing my older brother listening to them I was immediately drawn to their sheer catchy-ness and fantastically-written songs. Think punky guitar riffs for the loud catchy chorus-es interspersed with bouncy ska verses, all tied together with clever lyrics delivered in a direct fashion. What really stands out with Symposium is the quality of the songwriting, seen never better than in 'one day at a time', the very cd which I was greeted by this morning.

Symposium are in my opinion, a great 'lost band'. I know this because when I speak to almost anybody about my favourite bands, mentioning their name is an almost guaranteed way to elicit a blank expression. Perhaps I'm just talking/hanging around with the wrong people! I get the impression they were a very cult band (famed most for their energetic live shows, which unfortunately I never got to see) and so this may be why my fellows haven't been introduced. Also I would consider them 'lost' just by the difficulty I had in acquiring an image of them or finding a web site about them.

Whilst they may not have been hugely influential (I attribute this to that they arrived right as the alternative/punk scene of the late 90's was dying out, to be replaced in part by Nu-metal) they deserve to have their praises sung nonetheless. And that is the point of this very post, to show you first-hand why they were so friggin' great. This requires the use of some MP3s...

All MP3s are off their 1997 mini-album 'One Day at a Time'.
[Buy on Amazon]

(All are highly recommended)

MP3: Fairweather Friend - Symposium (what an intro!)
MP3: Farewell to Twilight - Symposium (just damn good)
MP3: Drink the Sunshine - Symposium (teenage pop-greatness)
MP3: Fear of Flying - Symposium (the closest they get to indie)
MP3: Smiling - Symposium (a lovely song)

I do really hope that for some reason in the future they decide to reform, but have to say I think it highly unlikely (given that their music isn't really popular these days and that their cult following may have grown up and moved on). It really is a shame to see them just disappear into nothingness. Having said that, Midget who are another cult band from the late 90s punk/alternative scene reformed last year so it's not impossible.

Please post a comment if you've ever heard of Symposium/love them like I do!

Sunday, 8 April 2007


Justice is best known for his collaboration with Simian (of Simian Mobile Disco) in 'We Are Your Friends', a fantastically funky electro tune that infiltrated the mainstream last year. This is Justice's latest effort, and if the hype generating in music blogs at the moment is to be believed then this could be HUGE this summer. I'm certainly hoping so as it thoroughly deserves to be.

MP3: D.A.N.C.E. - Justice

This alternative version surfaced first on the music blogs and is a little more challenging at first listen with its more avant-garde rhythms but is also worthwhile.

MP3: B.E.A.T. - Justice

Justice Myspace page

...And whilst we're on the electro theme, this is another awesome electro/hip-hop tune that needs to be heard. Apart from the awesomeness of the tune, it contains some very good advice! The video deserves a look too (he has a great beard).

MP3: Thou Shalt Always Kill - Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip

Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip Myspace page

And today I've been looking at some classic clips of the BBC sitcom Big Train on youtube. I find this one very funny for some reason.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

LDN is a Victim

So I was reading the Guardian Guide today when I came across an article that caught my interest... It was about someone (who's identity is currently unknown) who has put up a myspace site called 'LDN is a victim', featuring a song of the same name which lays into the new generation of artists exploiting their 'London' accents (which definitely includes Lily Allen, Kate Nash, and Jamie T mentioned in my last post).

Having just checked out the page and listened to the song - I think it's brilliant. While I do like a lot of this music (as you may have gathered from my last post..) there is an uglier side to it all when you start to realise quite how fake it all might be, i.e: shrink-wrapped 'LDN-culture' for record companies to sell to the world.. This is the premise of the tune.

This idea had become apparent to me in the past, especially after seeing Lily on Friday Night with Jonathon Ross one evening and being surprised at how up-market her accent was and how she conducted her interview with the finesse of a professional. Quite a stark contrast to the Cockney-drawl she mouths on record and the happy-go-lucky image she markets.

Back to the song, I think its great that someone has the guts (and clearly the music skills) to make this. This really highlights a lot of unspoken truths about the sad state of current music/youth culture. By doing this what it really does is make people purporting to be cool look very foolish indeed. A few lines of the song do this very well:
[this song]
'goes out to all the people that take years out after their A-levels and.. who go to Australia and Thailand and.. think Jack Johnson's well deep.. and.. fuck me if this doesn't get us on Joe Wiley's show then I really don't know what will'.
'this is a middle-class art school thing, so put on your common accents and lets sing'
'I wanna thank the record executives for pumping us with shitloads of money'[ect...]

One of the best lines appears right at the end of the song, and although I know it wasn't their line, it's perfectly fitting:
[In reference to the song]
'Stupid people think it's cool. Smart people think it's a joke, also cool.'

In other words, a 'parody song' like this is adored by all; people either think its good, or they think it's so bad that it's good. This logic doesn't seem to apply to Ms Lily (Keith) Allen herself however, who seems rather offended by it all in this message she left on the Myspace site:
"So what if w'ere middle class ? Just cause your mum was too lazy to get her fat ass up off the sofa and make some cash . I shouldn't be able to make tunes yeah ? ( which is more than you're doing by the way . ) Kate nash is well better than you , as are all the other people you talk about .
Anyways im off to meet Jack Penate , Jamie T and the maccabees , for cucumber and cheese sandwiches in the conservatory . Thanks for the song it really has made us see the light , now we know where we belong ."

Perhaps she's concerned it'll affect her record sales?

The links:

LDN is a Victim on Myspace
More on the story from GuardianUnlimited

The inspiration:

MP3: Caroline's a victim - Kate Nash [Myspace page link]
MP3: LDN - Lily Allen [Myspace page link]

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Birds can fly so high (and shit on your head)

It's been a little while since my last blog, my apologies! I was at fight camp last weekend with my tae kwon do club (that's me in the pic below with the blue belt and holding the board) and only got back on Sunday evening, completely knackered, and have been finding other ways of occupying myself since. Anyway.. I'M HERE NOW. And I'm ready for my next post.

Nu-Lyricism. It's the name I've just decided on for the lyrical stylings of several current artists who take a much more (how should I say this..) informal-style with their approach to singing. It's hard to pin down what it is exactly, but these singers are in-between singing and talking alot of the time, but they're NOT rapping.

Who am I referring to? Well the idea for this post came while I was listening to Kate Nash for the first time, who is a young songwriter with a style not completely dissimilar to Lily Allen. Listening to her song 'Birds' at first I found it rather annoying how she was being so casual with her words - it almost sounded like an un-edited stream of consciousness, rendered in chav-speak! Then there were a few little plays on words, which brought a smile to my face, and before long I found I was really enjoying it. This all came to a climax with a funny/gorgeous chorus (in that order) by which time I had truly been converted.

MP3: Birds - Kate Nash (highly recommended)

I think the best way to enjoy this music is simply not to take it too seriously! It's an acquired taste, a different style to what we've all been brought-up on, it's not 3-minute-pop! Even though not all the lyrics are intelligent, this is ok! These are funny, different lyrics, and when they are intelligent it just makes the contrast all the better.

Here's a few more artists to enjoy who are on the same (or technically speaking, more similar) wavelengths.

MP3: Emily Kane - Art Brut (highly recommended)
MP3: Sheila - Jamie T
MP3: Bigger boys and stolen sweethearts - Arctic Monkeys

Myspace 'em up here:

Art Brut on myspace
Jamie T on myspace
Arctic Monkeys on myspace

Wednesday, 28 March 2007


These guys are (in band-terms) my homies:

They are Rival Joustas and if you've ever spoken to me in the last year or so about my favourite music, then theres a good chance I've mentioned them. The reason they are my homies is that they are a band I have made a conscious effort to support by attending their gigs whenever possible (I estimate that I've been to about 6), buying their merchandise (they produce a nice t-shirt) and most recently, turning up to be in the video for their debut single 'The Masquerade' which was released for download at the beginning of this week and comes out on CD and Vinyl format on 23rd April.

Being in the video was an interesting experience, involving (as you may be able to see) dancing around in the background at various speeds whilst wearing a Zorro-style white mask. I turned up for the video shoot on my own and as such was somewhat dismayed to find out my company largely consisted of small rabbles of 16 year olds, many of whom had that 'emo-and-unapproachable' look.

Luckily I discovered a fellow non-teenager, a guy called James who was a few years older than me, and who was genuinely one of the coolest and most interesting people I have met in recent times. We spent the rest of the day chatting about the phoenix-nights-style feel of the venue (a social club full of grumpy old gits), music, The Bret Easton Ellis book Im reading, career prospects and life in general. It turned out to be a good day.

Anyway, about the band. I could wax-lyrical on Rival Joustas until the sun came down (or up, if I started at night) but at this point I can't really be bothered as its late and this post was more intended as a promotional post for the new song. You can listen to your music for yourself rather than read my interpretation of it, so instead I'll just say here that I think its very very good. You really have to see them live to capture the full experience though (this is what got me hooked), to see singer Thom's madness on stage (which usually ends up off-stage, into the crowd). They're touring lots as a newly-signed band so have a look on their myspace page to find out when they're playing close to you.

I shall now leave you with a few choice tracks selected from earlier EPs/demos to give you more of a flavour for their range of talents. I predict big things for Rival Joustas in 2007. So make sure you're there before the big sweeping masses.

Download 'The Masquerade' on itunes

MP3: Pinch - Rival Joustas
MP3: Experiment - Rival Joustas
MP3: Clarity - Rival Joustas

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

'Feels like spring has wandered in'

It has been a beautifully warm and sunny day here in St Albans. I went for a run earlier and then, feeling utterly refreshed sat outside in my garden (featured in the pic above) to soak up some rays on this glorious day of days. That feeling of warm sunny weather finally arriving is like no other, and as such I think it deserves its own soundtrack.

So what better excuse for my next post than some sun-soaked tunes to get you in the mood for these warmer times?

First off, these two simply contain the essence of sunshine in their very bones:

MP3: Young Folks - Peter, Bjorn and John
MP3: Play the Hits - Hal

Ska/punk can also be very good for making you happy:

MP3: Good Thing - Reel Big Fish

A track that makes me want to be somewhere sunny, (possibly strutting down a sunny road somewhere?):

MP3: Jackie big tits - The Kooks

I discovered these guys from a very recent post on Neils Life, and one of their tracks 'crazy' is very fitting for this post. They are The Icicles (think Magic Numbers but with more female members and even sweeter harmonies as a result). Oh yes make no mistake, this is very happy music.

MP3: Crazy - The Icicles

...And if by this stage you're not feeling positivley giddy with joy after listening to the music then you really need to lighten up a bit!

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Enter Shikari are not the only talented band to come out of St Albans

Enter Shikari appear to be one of the most hyped-up bands predicted to make it big in 2007, and the surreal thing for me is that about three years ago my then-band Shrinking Violet went head-to-head with them and several other bands in the Youth Matters battle of the bands competition 2004 - in our mutual hometown of St Albans. I knew a couple of the guys from the band, Routon and Chris as they ran a promotions company at the time that had sorted our band out with a gig in the past. I was never really sure if I liked their music back then and still haven't really made up my mind. What I will say is that they're very professional about it all and they do seem to be doing something original with all the trancy-electronics so my hat goes off to them in that respect.

MP3: Johnny Sniper - Enter Shikari

Enter Shikari's recent success has put St Albans on the map it seems, and having grown up here I feel obliged to tell you all about some of the other talent we've harbored here in recent years..

To begin with, theres The Legion of Filth, a truly original experimental, psychadellic, folk-rock band who have been described as 'Crosy, Stills and Nash on acid'. They're immensely talented at putting together trippy harmony-rich acoustic songs and are simply one of those bands which everyone should at least hear! 'Ground Dust' is a superb example to showcase their range of talents, named after their EP of the same name.

MP3: Ground Dust - Legion of Filth

Next it would be appropriate to introduce Nick Stephenson who is one of the core members of Legion, but also an accomplished singer/songwriter as a solo performer. Nick has been doing this for years before Legion were formed and has made his art into a fine craft. He's also a great bloke! 'Drink up and say goodnight' is Nick at his rawest and best in my opinion. You can really imagine him belting the song right at you in the front row of a pub.

MP3: Drink up and say goodnight - Nick Stephenson

Taking a very different turn of direction now, as I am duly obliged to mention Dexter's Fish, the band who won the aforementioned Battle of the Bands competition in 2004 (yes that's right, beating Enter Shikari!). They did this by providing delicious slices of perfectly written ska/punk about sunny weather and the usual teenage exploits in a refreshingly humourous fashion. Although technically still together with a different line-up, they don't appear to have any shows by their myspace page but this may change of course. Satisfaction Guaranteed is everything that was great about Dexter's Fish.

MP3: Satisfaction Guaranteed - Dexter's Fish

A few shorter entries now but some equally worthwhile music nonetheless. New Jacuzzi made some very interessting noise back in the 2003 battle of the bands (which led to them winning it), and although I don't know if they are still together 'Napoleon' is a sublime slice of guitar-pop which demands your attention.

MP3: Napoleon - New Jacuzzi

Flatline were a hardcore band also around this year, and although I don't know if they're still together, the dreamy electronica of 'Rome wasn't built in a day' showcases their talent even if not in their usual style.

MP3: Rome wasn't built in a day - Flatline

Violet Delight, were the last band to get big out of St Albans. You might remember their single 'I wish I was a girl' which got to number 23 in the charts about the transexual aspirations of a teenage boy. Whilst they were ultimately a one-trick band (seen by their short-lived life span) an early demo recording of their anti-chav/townie song 'everyone knows' captures a great youthful energy, whilst being very funny in the process.

MP3: Everyone knows - Violent Delight

Suzy Hope are a band deserving of a quick plug too, they're a new band made up of ex-members from Dexter's Fish and Violent Delight and knock out some very catchy pop-punk tunes. They're on tour at the moment too..

MP3: Another Day in Hell - Suzy Hope

..And finally, I couldn't resist but post a Shrinking Violet track recorded live at the Alban Arena for the 2004 battle of the bands final. 'Searching for realisation' was a band favourite to play. Listen out for the inital problems of bass player Simon breaking a string before our final song, and the cheers I get for my short guitar solo near the end! 8-) (also there's harmonica action!)

MP3: Searching for realisation - Shrinking Violet (please excuse the shocking quality, the recording was ripped from a video camera recording..)

(and for those interessted, we came 4th out of 6 bands in total and Enter Shikari came 2nd).