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