Friday, 29 January 2010

TDON CD Sampler Breakdown

I received this free promo CD from the record label Thirty Days Of Night through Rock Sound and HMV and was impressed by the failure of both my computer and the Internet to locate the track and artist names – good work on the watermarking/encoding there. Suffice to say, none of these tracks have titles and there’s no way in hell I’m trawling to look for tracks that are of similar length and guessing because that would indicate I actually give a toss. Here are my results:


One positive thing to say about this is at least TRC’s ‘vocalists’ (that word used in the loosest possible terms) aren’t trying to emulate some nasally American with copycat try-hard accents. In fact, both seem to shun the notion of singing even in tune, let alone with any prefix to their style. The gruffer sounding meathead makes up for this by doing some feeble impression of the ginger bloke from Gallows, whilst the other guy settles on an embarrassing “nnaaa, safe bruv, innit, yeah?” Mike Skinner-meets-Skinhead Rob style hardcore rap over some elaborate, yet tinny nu-metalcore riffs. I thought this shit had been phased out years ago. (They actually made a video for it as well).


I don’t want to say post rock, because this isn’t really. It’s more SLOW rock, choosing to go down the route of sluggish drum rolls, that guitar sound that’s all “woweeeowwweeeooowwww” (you know, the one that sounds like a Scalextric being stamped on.) It’s actually quite spacey, all washing synths, under a deep, rumbling rhythm and the vocalist has a surprisingly decent voice and range, which can be quite easily heard over the heavy haze of sound and glitching noises.


Despite the feminine name, this is anything but graceful and elegant. Like continuously punching the floor, until your knuckles crack, broken bone poking through the fleshy rips; Sioux are a bloody mess of hoarse vocal shreds, down-tuned, guttural riffs that aren’t a million miles away from Black Sheep Wall.


Possibly ripped off Sioux or at least share several members, as the vocals are almost identical. There’s more of a Botch element to Confession, with their odd squealing flourishes; but the clean chorus vocals sound as if they’ve been recorded in a cupboard – muffled and unimpressive. I’m guessing they’re supposed to counter balance against the relentless screams of the lead vocalist who is content to bury the notion of anyone out-singing him, which shouldn’t be too difficult, considering his voice box must look like a slaughter house.

Santa Karla

Santa Karla work best when they’re racing through this song like a runaway train. A no-frills, twisted, hardcore-metal onslaught, that gives nods towards ‘Opposite Of December’-era Poison The Well and the barbaric viciousness of Converge.

This Is Colour

Apart from the double-bass pedal drumming and “I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be playing?” guitar riff at the beginning this is mostly a load of old pig cock and 5 minutes too fucking long.

Gold Kids

When this eventually gets going, after about two false starts of ‘supposed build up’ Gold Kids (sounds like some rap group) are actually competent hardcore. Can’t understand a word of what’s being said, most of the vocals are akin to someone spitting over a microphone. Has that harsh, scrappy gasp of disgust and contempt.

Dead Swans

Wow, probably the best thing on this compilation so far. Channelling the rage of Give Up The Ghost, with the vocal-lead of Kevin Baker from The Hope Conspiracy into some of the most pissed off and determined hardcore I’ve ever heard. Chugs a fair bit, but the wonderful backing vocal roars makes this sound very awesome to these ears.


Lonewolves must be on a tight budget. This bare-bones racket of rumbling drums, that threaten to drown everything else out and “I’ve been eating broken glass” vocals thud along with very little compassion and a mean-spirited, lip-curl of sneering hate. Brilliant work by trying to sound like something that was recorded about 20 years ago – gritty, dogged hardcore done right.

Breaking Point

WITNESS! THE RISE! OF THE SUN!” Stop shouting you muppet. Bridge 9-sounding mongcore fodder, avoid like the plague.


Basically a hardcore punk version of Insect Warfare. 64 seconds of stop-start noise that was once possibly a song, but seems to steer towards someone shouting as they fall into a room full of saucepans.


I nearly skipped this because a) it was over three minutes and b) what’s the fucking point really? CHUNGA, CHUNGA, CHUNGA, CHUNGA, GGGGUURRRRRRNNKKKK GUURRRNKKKK – yeah, good one. Just about redeems itself from shitsville with the hilarious rapid-fire Circle Jerks-style vocals that were possibly recorded by a man who stands outside bottle banks swigging medicine and likes to shout at dogs.

Thirty Seconds Until Armageddon

Awful bass on this – why did they bother? You'd be better off watching the film 'Armageddon' than listening to this toilet.


Lonewolves, Dead Swans, Sioux, Gold Kids, EastStrikeWest and Santa Karla = all great sounding bands and well worth investigating if you're a fan of screaming and killer riffs.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

A Poorly Constructed, Impulsively Written Eulogy on Sarah Records.

Despite owning a lot of music, I can’t really say I’ve ever felt any great affinity for any one particular label. I doubt the majority of people can, truth be told. It’s becoming especially difficult in these times of mergers, takeovers, subsidiaries and imprints and all. One can imagine fewer more horrifying (or, depending on your viewpoint and/or level of imagination, amusing) situations than some holier-than-thou scenester discovering his beloved, aesthetically perfect independent label is in fact owned by Universal or somesuch.

However, every rule has its exception, and my exception to my ‘not having a favourite record label’ rule is Sarah Records. I fully appreciate the irony in me taking the piss out of holier-than-thou scenesters in the above paragraph when 1) I am admitting to having a favourite record label and 2) that label happens to be one of the twee-est, most scene labels ever. Thing is though, I tried and tried to come up with another equivalent, and the closest thing I could come up with was Factory – yes I love a large number of their releases, and yes I love the anarchic, haphazard way in which it was run, but I still only admire it, and don’t look upon it with any great deal of affection (or as much affection as you can ever festoon upon such a strange entity as a record label).

I think part of it is due to the timing of me ‘discovering’ Sarah Records. I suppose in 6th form I would’ve been classed as someone who never really fitted into what was expected of someone that age. Instead of being a borderline sex-pest intent on either getting an other half or a quick shag (either in or out of school) while hammered on WKD (outside of school), I fell in with the people who also never fitted in anywhere else – you know the social sets; the posh kids, the jocks (and in our case the uber-Welsh kids). Let me say here and now we had one fuck of a laugh. While everyone else was being relatively civilised we were the ones blaring out music throughout the lunch hour, having food fights, considering a can of strawberry squirty cream to be an acceptable lunch (that was mainly me, to be fair) and having near weekly bouts of boxing matches and our lounge-famous ‘bloodsport Fridays’ (sample activity: sticking drawing pins through a trip of masking tape, sticking that onto the toecaps of our shoes, and kicking each other in the shins….oh, happy days!). Naturally in amongst all this anarchy girls featured pretty infrequently, at least in the romantic sense. That’s not to say crushes never existed (or indeed weren’t ridiculed by the others) amongst our number, and it was during all this mayhem and sometimes frankly awful music (anime soundtracks, anyone?) that a friend first introduced me to the Field mice.

For those not familiar with The Field Mice (or indeed most of Sarah Records’ output), then the music has a theme of unrequited love, crushed feelings and the like, all dished up with enticing melodies. At a time where every other artist was either writing songs about how great it was to be in love, or how shit it all was when they go their heartbroken at the end of it all, this was a breath of fresh air. Naturally it’s hard to identify with a song that couldn’t be any cornier if the singer was playing an acoustic version of ‘Your Body Is A Temple’ starkers in a 4-poster bed when you haven’t even got to, never mind past, first base.

Over time I’ve since discovered The Orchids, Blueboy, Another Sunny Day, and The Sea Urchins to supplement my Field Mice listening. All the bands are characterised by light, airy production, breathy vocals, and heartfelt lyrics, and all are a joy to listen to. I randomly decided to write this article, and halfway through discovered that it coincided with a large amount of the Sarah back-catalogue being re-released – 14 Iced Bears had 2 re-issues done in 2001, The Field Mice albums were done in 2005, and Another Sunny Day and The Orchids came out last year. Blueboy are the next ones on the list, with their first album released last week and their second being re-released next month. Here’s to hoping The Sea Urchins are next. But be warned, get them while you can. The cult adoration of the label means that there is a high demand for CDs and the like - £15 for a used copy of a 14 Iced Bears album has proved in my experience to be a bargain if you didn’t catch it the first time round, and The Field Mice’s ‘For Keeps’ goes in and out of stock like the wind (I was fortunate to pick up a copy in Fopp for £13 new, but on Amazon it was going for £30+).

So then, in summary, why Sarah Records? I think I’m just a sucker for bloody good fey, intelligent indie-pop, truth be told. The fact I discovered great music for lovelorn 6th formers at the time of being a lovelorn 6th former probably helped, as does all the nostalgic aspects that come with it, but that wouldn’t be reason enough to continue liking their releases 5 years on (especially given the degree to which my musical taste has shifted over the last 5 years).

Sarah records closed in 1995 not through financial hardship, but because the owners wanted to guarantee an exemplary back-catalogue. With me being the contrary sod that I am, I probably love Sarah Records as much for this as I do for their music.

The Disposability Of Music & How I Learned To Love The Album Again

The music industry’s never-ending quest to provide more convenient media has, it can be argued, made music more disposable, more forgettable. Think about it. In the days of vinyl, you sat through a record all the way through. Partly, it must be said, due to the fact that changing the track (with all the faff of lifting the needle and putting it back down in the wrong place without scratching the surface of the LP) was such effort. It almost meant you had to buy the singles when they came out, and pray that your favourite songs off an album got released as a single.

The cassette tape, in commercial pre-recorded guise at least, as bad if not worse. How many of you wrecked your tapes by spending afternoons furiously fast-forwarding and rewinding them to hear favourite songs? I did, countless times. However, the advent of blank cassettes meant people could suddenly make mixtapes off their vinyl collections. Don’t want to sit through records to hear your favourite tracks? Easy! Make a personal greatest hits collection instead. When twin deck tape players and recorders came along you could even do it off your cassette collections. Winner. If you were really cheap (as I was at the turn of the millennium), you could spend Sunday afternoons listening to the top 40 and recording your favourite songs off that. Getting it just right so you didn’t get any talking at the start or end of the song, while not missing a note either, was an art form. I failed dismally. I ended up with as much of Marc Goodier’s voice on mine as I did the music. It could be argued that cassettes were really the start of the whole piracy issue that’s dogged the industry ever since, but that’s not an issue for here and now. Back to the history.

The CD was a godsend for the impatient music buyer and listener. You could skip tracks with the push of a button, and when CD burners came down in price you could make digital equivalents of mixtapes, or merely even burn the tracks you wanted onto your computer. It was the precursor to the current ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ culture that seems to be prevalent amongst the download only brigade.

The danger in all of this is between that and scan listening on streaming services such as Spotify is that it’s all to easy to live your life in shuffle mode. I know, I’ve been there. Now, I’m no downloader, so you might be wondering how this is so. Well, when my old CD player broke, I didn’t replace it because, as I reasoned, all I ever did was put it on the MP3 player and put the CD on the shelf and that was that. So I relied on Spotify, Windows Media Player (which I always cherry picked tracks on, never listening to full albums), and my MP3 player (which for reasons I don’t really understand, ALWAYS gets left on shuffle, unless I’m on a train). The concept of an album, therefore, appeared to be dead to me. Given my propensity for buying CD albums, this seemed a ridiculous situation. So, I finally got round to buying a new player. I then set aside 2 days to re-discover my love for the album, and got down to celebrating being able to listen to physical formats again.

I accept that maybe 18 albums was probably a bit much in such a short space of time. Cambridge University did research suggesting that the brain can only compute and engage fully in any one activity for an hour before it needs to be stimulated via other methods. This probably applied here too – towards the end of my ‘experiment’ I was pretty much waiting for albums to finish. However, it did open my eyes to the joys of listening to an album again. The way it lets you see the ideas and thoughts of an artist in that one period of time. The way that some albums are autobiographical, and let you see the artists’ mindset or experiences. Plus, with a physical format you can kick back and read the sleeve-notes and ogle the artwork while the album is playing. Sometimes this can be just as exciting as the record itself (see The Ramones’ Sire re-issues, or the Undertones or Echo & the Bunnymen equivalents for great examples of absorbing, enlightening sleevenotes). I also found that listening to full albums meant I could catch up with other things (mainly reading), which the constant stop/start of living on shuffle, and the constant track changing, rendered all but impossible in the past. I’ve also enjoyed the level of thought involved in deciding on an album to fit a particular mood or activity, rather than choosing a song or two to fit the moment and (metaphorically) sticking them on repeat.

Don’t get me wrong, though. This isn’t me preaching from some gargantuan ivory tower about the perils of listening to individual tracks or downloading or whatever else you could misjudge this piece to be about. Differences are to be celebrated, and if you prefer to listen to individual tracks over albums, then who am I to judge. This is really nothing more than a document of one man and his rediscovery of the concept of the album (and a rather verbose and highly edited history of how music has in my opinion become so disposable). Though I will say this: in the day where the album is increasingly being seen as an obsolete format, perhaps it’s time to give it a re-appraisal. Give it a whirl, you might enjoy the journey. I know I have.

During my ‘experiment’ I listened to:

Jamie T: Kings & Queens
The Clash: Give Them Enough Rope
Television Personalities: Don’t The Kids Just Love It
Camera Obscura: Let’s Get Out of This Country
Noah & The Whale: The First Days Of Spring
Billy Bragg: Life’s A Riot With Spy Vs Spy and Slow Club: Christmas Thanks For Nothing EP
(As these were both mini albums each totalling under 15mins I classed them as one entry)
The Pains of Being Pure Of Heart: S/T
The Manhattan Love Suicides: S/T
The Undertones: S/T
The Jesus And Mary Chain: Darklands
Richard Hawley: Lady’s Bridge
REM: Reckoning
The Pogues: If I Should Fall From Grace With God
Beach House: Devotion
The Field Mice: Snowball
Eels: Hombre Lobo
The Vapors: New Clear Days
Bruce Springsteen: Nebraska

Monday, 25 January 2010

I Just Don't Like Joanna Newsom

What's the etiquette here, can anyone tell me?

Am I supposed to put some big label, or yellow and black-striped-back sign saying “WARNING: POTENTIALLY CONTROVERSIAL POST”? Or has this rather self-effacing first couple of sentences (along with the – let's face it – fairly descriptive title) tipped you the wink that Something Polemical This Way Comes?

Yes, I don't really like Joanna Newsom. And yes, even a relatively mild statement like that (it's a statement of dislike, but not exactly a strong one) may potentially be enough to summon forth the armies of slightly twitchy indie fan boys (and girls) she seems to attract. And yes, she's critically acclaimed, and yes, I do value critical acclaim a lot, but no, to my ears she can go and ceremoniously do one. And no, like all things of dislike, it's not a completely rational thing – why should it be?

But let's start with something I can actually defend – her music. Note: this isn't about her voice, which I don't really have that much problem with, but the actual music. Oh yeah, I listened to the Milk-Eyed Mender when it came out, though for the life of me, I'm not sure why. Okay, that's not true – it starts promisingly enough, if her toddlerlike voice doesn't bother you. “Bridges and Balloons” and “Sprout and the Bean” were nice enough ditties; gentle, melodic and sugary, but not so twee they became annoying because they were interesting. Part of that was that she had a new sound, but new things can be interesting, right? However, the album fairly dwindled after fact, I'm struggling to remember what many of the other tracks were called – I think one was called Swansea, which I remember finding amusing because how unlucky is it to put what you think is a joyously quirky title to something, only to find it shares the name of a godforsaken South Wales shithole. I remember the music failing to spark, the pleasant melodies became tacky and repetitive, the sparse arrangements became instantly forgettable. I didn't mind her voice though.

Ys did the same trick, pretty much. Sure, she managed to get in Van Dyke “No, I wasn't one of the Beach Boys, I just kinda hung around near them” Parks to do some string arrangements, and sure, the songs were more like epic pieces of storytelling, but by the end of the album, I couldn't give a monkeys. Ys pulled off the rather unfortunate trick of being the kind of album I can put on, then forget to pause when I nip down to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. You don't realise it's on, and while sometimes that can help an album get under your skin, I guess my skin must've been Teflon-coated for its length, cause it bounced off me like rainwater.

And everyone LOVES her, so it seems. EVERYONE loves her. I generally consider metacritic a good summary of reviews – bringing attention to overlooked gems (like say, Amadou and Mariam), and also giving opportunity to mock critics over albums that were actually shit (step forward, the Magic Numbers. Ys got 85. That's ridiculously high. WHY? I've heard more engaging pieces of music when overhearing my flatmate squiring some lass in the shower when I'm just trying to play computer games and ignore the world.

Of course, if we're talking about “everyone loves her”, then well, I mentioned slightly twitchy indie boys earlier. Part of the problem! Christ, it seems like to some people, any vaguely human looking woman performing 'indie' music is instantly a hottie. I'm reminded of the comment about Josie Long, “a plain, dump girl in a Les Savy Fav t-shirt is still a plain dumpy girl.” I want to just grab them all by the collar of their fucking plaid shirt and shout “listen, she's not going to sleep with you just because you listen to her music!” Although, the average twitchy indie boy is probably more scared of sex than anything else, so maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree.

There's plenty of other things that annoy me about her, most notably her association with Devendra Banhart (who is utter bobbins and annoying to boot), but they're personal gripes. And this is going to get more than personal. See, the problem is that because Joanna Newsom's pretty much the most successful contemporary female singer-songwriter who's “a bit weird”, there's no unco cases of people getting tarred with the same brush as her. Take Blue Roses, for instance. Blue Roses is Laura Groves, a female singer-songwriter from Yorkshire. She ploughs an interesting furrow, pastoral yet dramatic tunes which have hints particularly of Kate Bush and early Joni Mitchell about them. I adore the album, which is why I've brought it up. Let me tell you, my heart sank a foot or two when I started seeing reviews comparing her to Newson. See, there's a couple of songs in which she affects a vaguely childlike voice for a few lines, but that's it; for the most part it's post-teenage drama of the likes Bush and Mitchell were so good at during the starts of their careers. IT DOES NOT SOUND LIKE JOANNA NEWSOM. And this is symptomatic of a wider malaise – I ought to be lambasting the music media for its love of lazy comparisons, Joanna Newsom, no problem. She's given them an excuse, an easy reference point that isn't that accurate. Laura Groves has more character in her little finger than Joanna Newsom, yet she's lumped into the “if you like Joanna Newsom, you should give this a chance” category. Completely unfairly!

So there you have it, I don't really like Joanna Newsom. I don't like her music, I don't like the swooning adoring legions of fans who are either misguided or pathetically lustful, and I don't like the effect she has on more talented artists. Would anyone else care to add a reason why they dislike Joanna Newsom?

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Hi! I'm Alan the Reviewer.

And I'll be using Spotify to publish my own review of each of Pitchfork's top 50 albums of 2009! (If they're available on Spotify, that is).

Because I know next to nothing about any music published after Grandaddy's seminal 'The Sophtware Slump', you can expect my reviews to be artless, or excruciating, or both. But I will at least try to convey what I think is going through my ears - albeit in highly detailed, relentless, grinding track-by-track fashion - without resorting to masses and masses of obscure cultural references only a 'select clique' will know! Although I might just resort to a few. Ho, ho, ho. You know, I've never been part of any 'select cliques', except once, when I stripped bare-chested in front of the Hidden Cameras' Joel Gibb - although no doubt some of you will say "Joel Gibb? Who he?"!

So, I'll kick off with number 50 in Pitchfork's list: 'Songs of Shame' by Woods.

And I'll also kick off with words Pitchfork used to describe 'Songs of Shame', so that I can get a sense of what I'm about to listen to.

'Pastoral and rustic vein of songcraft' - OK.
'Evokes early Guided by Voices and the murkier depths of the Siltbreeze or Flying Nun back catalogues' - fine! The sound of flying nuns, eh?
'J Mascis... Graham Nash... earnest... wistful' - four other words. Actually that's six, isn't it? Although maybe 'J' on its own isn't a word.

Anyway, it sounds like I'm going to get some nice high-pitched strummy Americana that I'll get bored of after five tracks, with a few guitar-o-whangs thrown in, but let's listen!

Track 1: 'To Clean'. Yes, I was right, it's nice high-pitched strummy Americana with three chords in it, oh, my God, it is really high-pitched, you can't even hear the words... hmm. I like the way the drums sound like they've been recorded two miles away from the rest of the band. Two guitar solos that don't go with the rest of the music also appear at the start and end. A nice short song. It sort of does work pretty well though. Even if I probably will get bored after five tracks.

Track 2: 'The Hold'. I remember going to some squat parties where I heard chilled-out drums like this! This song has two chords, not three. And the same guitarist who really isn't giving any consideration to the chords playing underneath him. I don't know, there seem to be several guitarists playing. This song meanders and doesn't really go anywhere - it's good if you like songs where two chords repeat themselves and it doesn't really go anywhere. There are lots of them about! Any more and I'll have to get my weedkiller out - after three tracks!

Track 3: 'The Number'. Bit more of a 'trad' acoustic song, this, and there's only the one singer, and a fair bit of reverb, and a nice counterpoint guitar riff that goes 'plip, plip plop plop plip', up and down, although I doubt I can effectively render it in words. Actually this sounds a bit like 'Heartbeat' as sung by forgotten Eastenders and Heartbeat star Nick Berry, if Nick Berry was an American man striding through the corn fields of Nebraska with the wind in his hair. Nick Berry! 'Wicksy'! I must say that I'm still not really interested in the album - yet.

Track 4: 'September With Pete'. Unexpectedly, this is ten minutes long, an instrumental track, and full of dark twongy sounds, and a minute's gone and nothing's changed apart from the addition of a few more dark twongy sounds. Now elephants are trumpeting in the background... distant guitar fuzz...

...and a thought's hit me, that for a band called 'Woods', this song is very much like a walk through the woods, maybe while taking part in the Blair Witch Project or similar 'research'. Most effective - oddly fitting, even. But five minutes is up now, and I can't decide whether it's genius or noodling. Or perhaps it's the kind of song that bands like Ozric Tentacles used to put on their albums once they'd finished with the one catchy one. I don't know. Maybe I'm thinking of a different band. I'm not sure if the Tentacles had any catchy ones at all.

Is it me, or do songs this long always have a faster break-down bit in the last minute? Because this one did as well. And why is it track four? Do bands normally put their one huge one at track four? Are this lot breaking the mould?

Track 5: 'Down This Road'. This is ninety seconds long. I quite like this one because it sounds like Simon and Garfunkel after both of them have been punched in the face. It ends with one of those really catchy riffs that you feel should probably have contributed to a longer song, but you just know they couldn't be arsed. Hmm. Despite my truculence I feel like I'm beginning to get into things. I'll hang fire on the five tracks thing.

Track 6: 'Military Madness'. Ooh, I thought - a sinister, loping feel and proper country-pop songwriting! But then I realised that this one is the Graham Nash cover referred to in the Pitchfork review. Perhaps if the band stopped trying to be all ethereal and did more cheery, ramshackle stuff like this Graham Nash piece, I'd like them a bit more! A decent cover version.

Track 7: 'Born to Lose'. Another tiny song, two minutes long. The vocals are a bit higher in the mix here, and the reverb's up so far it sounds like wind is blowing... and I prefer this song to all the others so far, because it's haunting, it's mournful, and it could easily be being played by two skeletons, in a barrel, in a pit, in a Tim Burton film about dead lumberjacks. Good stuff. It's all clicking now. Well done, Woods.

Track 8: 'Echo Lake'. Or maybe not! What is it with all these tiny, two minute songs? This song would be a nondescript bluesy jammy forgettable thing, were it not for the very odd flimsy muffled sproingy-and-squelchy-at-the-same-time drum sounds that underpin it so well. But I don't think I'm going to be able to survive on a diet of musical blah and lo-fi drums for too much longer. Bah!

Track 9: 'Rain On'. This is quite a poppy one. It's 4am, and I'm Whispering Bob Harris, and you're going down the M1 past Trowell services, and it's quite cloudy, and there's a bit of mizzle in the air, and Desmond12 gets in touch from his lorry cab to say he's enjoying not having a traffic jam on the M18 for once! That's the kind of gentle country pop we have here. Roll on the penultimate track...

Track 10: 'Gypsy Hand' What I'm actually enjoying about this album is how each song varies in a tiny, tiny way. This one starts out chirpy but very small with the vocals miles away in the mix before chugging into life halfway through, breaking down into a stoner jam and finally having those nice flutey vocals rejoin the song. Slightly too much stoner jam, though. Hey, I've got the munchies! Hey, kids! Anyone got any dope before the last one?

Track 11: 'Where and What are you?'. It's the final track. Sad to say that this is eighty seconds long and not really worth my commenting, apart from that it ends with a load of not-quite-in-tune humming and things going 'bip'.

So, after listening to all that, what does Alan think? Well, Alan's prejudices about the album from reading the Pitchfork review were pretty much confirmed. It's pretty simple stuff and it's very high-pitched. But the songs, while a bit insubstantial sometimes, are *just* different enough to produce a body of work that holds together and is worth a listen - it takes a while to kick in, but that it all sounds like it's been recorded by three very long-haired men who wanted to spend an afternoon making music in a tin shack on a crag somewhere is acceptably charming, not cliched and annoying, in the end. Alan says a solid almost-seven out of ten!

Good tracks: 'Born To Lose', 'Gypsy Hand'

Weaker tracks: 'The Hold', 'September with Pete', 'Where and What Are You?'

Alan's next episode will be with you soon! Looking at how long this is, it'll probably be shorter.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Putting A Ban on the Guitar

I stand atop the Empire State Building as the bombers scar the sky and the clouds of firey smoke rise above the burning trees in Central Park. The sirens are long gone and echoes of the explosions from the apocalyptic hell bringers are still ricocheting off the walls as the city slowly dies from inside. The stories below are filled with the papers of offices firebombed, the streets below only glimpsed through the smoke are blocked by cars, trucks, taxis and fire engines, all failing to escape the end, and the air is still apart from the sound of a radio.

In the corner is a single radio station, manned by the last valiantly broadcasting hero, playing the last five years of popular music slowly and steadfastly, and in the smoke filled world there is a sudden feeling that we could’ve done so much better if there just had been no guitar.

Imagine a band forced to have to create their sound scapes without the use of the six stringed clichéd that sits affront most indie rock bands and transcends that genre to the point of ubiquitous-ness. Is the guitar over used? Yes, I think so. It is a mainstay of pop rock, in the same way soaring stings and the piano are the mainstays of the ballad that the X Factor hand pick to bullshit us with. Is this overuse a problem? Not really actually, it’s something as a fan of the music that is predominately guitar led I have to put up with I suppose. However it doesn’t stop me from thinking what it would be like if a band just avoided using them.

Imagine The Beatles were forced to create all their pop rock hooks with electronic, or string based orchestra, or maybe even chip tunes, using only Gameboys and the Roland 808? Would it force a band to be more innovative when they are not allowed to resort to the other instruments to create… would necessity become the mother of invention?

I actually don’t think so – the ease in which an artist can build a song and melody on a guitar opens the world to more artists, and in quantity you’d get some quality. That’s the world we have right now – the number of guitar bands I listen to daily probably show me how wrong this line of thinking might be, and Keane, a self imposed guitar less band are one of the dullest bands around. They’d probably have been slightly more palatable if their music had been guitar based.

This is not to say that a band wouldn’t benefit from the lack of a guitar. Artists such as The Knife, Boards of Canada, maybe even La Roux, most certainly are more interesting for their less guitar / more instruments approach, if electronic music can be seen as a change, but surely there would be more jazz based artists, more saxophone, more woodwind based mainstream acts – it would change up the top 40 that’s for sure. In my apocalypse everyone is friendly, the world is becoming a better place, and instead of every teenage getting a Squire Stratocaster replica, they get a Scarlatti 120 bass Accordion.

Saturday, 16 January 2010


An entirely random selection, this: I just went through my collection and picked one or two others currently out there.

You often don't think about this when just enjoying the contents of an album, but an album cover can be an opportunity to sell the music really effectively/ineffectively, and sometimes they really mess it up! There are some dreadful album covers out there. Really, I don't know how the record company allows them out into the world.

Cocorosie, Noah's Ark

I'm a little lost for words with this one, actually. Except that it reminds me of the output of all the most annoying girls I went to art school with.

Regina Spektor - Far

Twee! Plus poorly executed with colouring reminiscent of someone just learning to use photoshop. And I should know, I am just starting to use photoshop and I am this bad. I hope Regina did this herself, because if this was a professional she needs her money back. I hate the font choice too. Damn, now I feel guilty! Regina has a lot of feelings, it's like insulting a sensitive puppy.

Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther

Great album, terrible cover. Some sort of poorly-photographed performance art piece involving too much papier mache and velour.

DJ Shadow - Endtroducing

This isn't that awful. I just see it hyped as one of the best album cover of all time, and I have no clue why. Any ideas? Look sort of blah to me.

U2 - No Line on the Horizon

I do hate U2, so I may be biased on this one. Great idea fellas, you are really thinking outside the box on this one! U2 have always been good at lame, faux-deep puns.

Cat Power - The Covers Record

Now Cat Power I love, so I promise no bias, but I find this cover to be sucky. One of those dead meaningful art pieces that I tend to just find icky. I feel it has no correspondence with the music at all. I turn this cover round the other way, and then I get a picture of the luminous Chan Marshall instead.

The Beta Band - Heroes to Zeroes

Ok so I suspect they're trying to be ironical with this one, but if it looks like the sort of thing that a 15 year old boy in graphics class would consider a good idea then you should probably steer clear.

Animal Collective - Sung Tongs

What springs to mind here? Eww.

Air - Love 2

Boring, boring, boring. We know what you look like, Air, and that you are thoughtful. You are also French because you are wearing a cravat. Well done.

Phew. Now I have let out all that vitriol, anyone else have some covers they consider especially sucky?

Soon we ought to cover good album covers, to avoid descending into bitterness and scorn entirely.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Uckfay Hetay Anmay

The conventional answer when faced with the question “what is the best album by Dexter ‘PHD in Molecular Biology’ Holland’s The Offspring” is to blurt out ‘Smash’ and turn your nose up to anyone who preferred the album that featured those songs about being a work-shy Vanilla Ice fan. Granted, ‘Smash’ is excellent; one of the most popular punk rock records in existence, with sales reaching over 6 million (shit, think about how many bottles of Gringo Bandito you could buy with the dosh made from that!) However, I want focus to move away from the default and look towards their 4th album, ‘Ixnay on the Hombre.

Maybe it’s the nostalgia talking, but in my eyes, (and to my questionable ears) ‘Ixnay’ will always remain the high point of The Offspring’s career. This was an album I would listen to religiously with several other like-minded revision dodgers during the Mario Kart/Goldeneye sessions that were often held at my friend James’ house. In fact, this might have been the ONLY record we listened to, simply because no one could be bothered to change the CD or had anything else worth listening to, save for that 'Blue Angels' by Pras or a borrowed P.O.D. album - so having ‘Ixnay’ on repeat seemed the logical conclusion.

In traditional Offspring fashion, the first track is a teaser intro provided by Jello Biafra, ridiculing those who took the social aspects portrayed in ‘Smash’ to seriously, backed by some suitably groggy punk, making it sound like some demented jingle you’d find on a backwater American pirate radio station. The first ‘proper’ song, bursts fourth entitled ‘The Meaning Of Life’, complete with a riff and guitar tone that is set to be ‘the sound of The Offspring’ (and those familiar with their career will know what one I mean). As it drives over the tightly packed cymbal crashes, and rolls immediately into the stead-fast flow of choppy punk rock and textbook “wooaaaahhooohhhs.”

Drugs anthem ‘Mota’ follows with Holland splitting his conscious between two independent parties, one reveling in how wasted he can get “that bongs that’s on the table starts to call my name…”. The other part, present in the song’s chorus, ridicules the waster: “your memory’s gone and so is your life…” indicating how smoking a monster doobie and eating biscuits on the loo is counter-productive. The song is however, erroneous in it’s message, stating that “losing out just never felt so right” – possibly embracing or resigning to the fact that getting stoned is something you’ll never escape from.

I’m torn between deciding whether ‘Ixnay’ is essentially a depressing record or a bitter, resentful one. It features a fair amount of despondency and disgust in the form of the rampant ‘Cool To Hate’ which is all middle-finger, “fuck everything” up-in-arms abhorrence of everyone and everything and the misanthropic splutter of ‘Leave It Behind’; which is perhaps one of the darkest songs the California 4-piece have recorded, both lyrically and musically. The guitars sound like they’ve been submerged in grit and old engine oil, fusing this clanking, harsh fuzz to their barren punk rock nature. ‘Me and My Old Lady’ and ‘Gone Away’ seem to be split in two parts; the former telling a tale of a love/hate relationship between two people set to a slight Mariachi-meets-punk beat (something that will go on to feature on future Off spring releases). Much like several of the songs from this album, the phrase “we don’t care” runs predominantly through 'Me and My Old Lady', giving a sense of carelessness and a brazen, raw attitude that this album obviously bleeds. ‘Gone Away’ has Holland pleading for the return of his loved one, offering to sacrifice his life for hers. It’s in stark contrast to the rest of the album – a forlorn, emotive piece that shows a different side to the usual anti-social rantings.

Tracks like ‘All I Want’, which is yet another anti-authority rush of non-conformity (as featured on Crazy Taxi 2) and the ‘I told you so’ narrative of ‘Way Down The Line’ give ‘Ixnay’ that sour sound of loser-desperation. ‘Don’t Pick It Up’ kind of interrupts the flow by featuring ska-pick ups on a song detailing how cruising for hookers is best avoided. I’m sure that rhyming ‘doggy-doo’ with ‘blue’ is one lyrical couplet Holland wishes he’d never, ever thought of. You’re a doctor/pilot/hot sauce inventor for fucks sake. ‘Amazed’ is a pessimist’s wet dream of eye-rolling surprise, whilst ‘Change The World’ is a bitter-sweet pick-me-up of a final track, building up from a steady drumbeat to become the Sergeant Major screaming in your face in an attempt to get the listener to make some adjustments to the world, even though their efforts may well be futile.

But why would an album so laced with negativity and misery at the world be something considered as an artist’s best work? Well, why not? In many instances, 'Ixnay' states an apparent disparaging fact about life/existence of a person or persons and then gives another statement telling them to change and an urge to better their chances.

You’ve probably come to realize that ‘Ixnay on the Hombre’ isn’t a nice record. In fact, the album title translates as ‘Fuck The Man’ - whether this is a possible reference towards a certain former label boss about contract disputes, I have no idea.

In any case, ‘Ixnay On The Hombre’ will always have that special place in my heart as the most consistent, raw and anger-driven album The Offspring have ever recorded. Then again, it could just be a load of men who should be old enough to know better, shouting over some noisy guitars whilst my nostalgia chip catches fire as it rolls into overdrive.

(For anyone that cares what I'm banging on about, you can buy 'Ixnay on the Hombre' for a few quid on amazon marketplace. CASHBACK.)

What? You Want Me To Listen To A Videogame Soundtrack?

It may not be the most shocking revelation considering I'm a young male writing stuff on a blog about music, but I'm a bit of a geek. I know, earth-shattering right? What I'm getting at is that I'm a geek about more than just music, again not real surprise considering I'm a man – we're a very geeky bunch really – but yeah, I thought I should just put it out there. My main other vice is computer games, and like all great interests, when two areas I'm “well into” cross over, it's a delight. While computer game music isn't much beyond soundtrack – and yes, you might think “I like lots of soundtracks” – the problem with soundtracks is that often, the pieces you grab onto are the songs, the same sort of thing you'd like normally, or maybe even a song you'd known before suddenly given a gutwrenching context. I know people talk about the Dark Knight soundtrack and anything involving Nick Cave in terms of recent years, but it's a rather small number compared to, say, people who liked to sing along to Hairspray.

Today I'm going to talk about Nobuo Uematsu. Who, you ask? Well, I'm sure you can guess he's Japanese, and the mention of video games, that, yes, very good, he's a composer of video game soundtracks. A bit of a stalwart too, though only really at the Japanese end of computer game development, it's what he's best known for that's what sticks to me.

The Final Fantasy series of games are some of the best-selling games ever. They may even be the best selling series; I really can't be bothered to research, but they obviously made an impact on me through my early teenage years. And late ones too. And yes, the music always stuck in my head, but it was only with the opportunity to buy the soundtracks on the cheap on eBay when a university student that reignited my passion. I can't even remember why I bought them, or even searched for them – guess it was just an unexplainable pang of nostalgia.

Final Fantasy 8 (uh, there are 14 numbered games in the series...and more besides in some strange chaos numbering system) is probably my favourite – it's a warm-spirited piece which marries incredibly nerdy themes such as fantasy-style sorcery and magic with sci-fi-style super-technology. But there's a very human heart to the (admittedly flimsy) story and this truly comes across in the music. Ignore the Hollywood-hit “Eyes On Me”, which is sentimental tacky crap, because there's nearly four hours of music to get through, so let's get going.

Opener “Liberi Fatali” is surprising: Uematsu normally had to work with the Sony Playstation's unbuilt synthesiser apart from in very special, memory-heavy cases. Liberi Fatali is one of them, starting with an ominous Latin chorus, before a creeping orchestral rumbling brings in, and all hell breaks loose. It's never short of melody but you've got crashing strings, cutting rhythms and changes in time signature, like an overture for a symphony in less than three minutes. In the game it works with the cinematic opening but as a standalone piece it still grabs you by the collar and slaps you with cold hands, demanding “Wake up!” and “pay attention”. And then, just like that, it fades away, and we're into the pastoral “Balamb Garden”, more of a scene-setting for the game and soundtrack as a whole. But it's audacious, and it means that when the upbeat, shocking and minor-chord-heavy riots occasionally kick in, we're ready and willing.

But as I've mentioned, it's the pastoral element that really stands out. “Fisherman's Horizon” is a wonderful gently rolling piece, with electric piano that conjures waves lapping against the sure perfectly, it's also got one of the most delightfully simple melodies I've ever heard. “Waltz for the Moon” stays on the nicer side of wistful, it's a light, incidental piece. “Timber Owls” is a sparse, playful piece akin to a child playing a gentle prank on a relative.

Four hours is a lot to plough through, and yes, it will feel like filler. It's not intended to be listened to as a coherent whole, but to be dipped into and leaned out of. There's tracks like the menacing chilled funk of “Martial Law”, complete with a skittering clavichord solo in the middle, or the fantastically sparse yet simple fusion of “Mods de Chocobo”, which in two and a half minutes hints at pop traditions from the West, Africa, Japan...and then is gone, just like that. Those tracks almost get lost in the wash if you plough through it all, but while there's non-stop quality soundtrack, there's so much reward for giving it a little time and patience, letting the mood of the music, like all good soundtracks, transport you to a place you'd not been to before, whether you've seen it or not. It's a remarkable achievement. If you played the game, see if you can't get hold of the soundtrack. If you've not, well, why not do the same, then give each disc a few listens (over a longer period of time, yes) and come back to me, tell me what it did to your mood.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

The Death of the Alternative

If there ever was a dirty word in the music industry it's "alternative" because, by distinction, it appears to be aspiring to be out of the box, or obtuse; far removed for the current status quo. As for the actual "alternative" acts... they slowly either fade into obscurity but held onto by dear fans, or become gradually less alternative by either success and acceptance of their original sound or by becoming the exact antithesis of the genre they were prescribed to. The real alternative to most musical movements is just the next musical movement.

For example, Nu Metal (pardon my French) was the genre du jour of my youth, and I dressed up and sang along with the rest of us kids, and we loved it. Our parents despised the Slipknot songs and they hated the clothes that came with the genre. They were the glorious alternative to the pop music of the era. It was later in this short lived phase that I found the worlds of Jimmy Eat World and the emotive lyrics, later heralded by the advancing behemoth that was My Chemical Romance and the Emo-shitstorm. I was already far too old to appreciate this, and by the middle of the decade my "alternative" was no longer any more -it had become mainstream, selling millions of albums and I had to move on.

Quickly, I found the spiky guitar pop of Bloc Party and Maximo Park. And, sure enough, they are now selling the millions of records. I suppose you could argue that is mostly because they are actually pretty good crossover acts, but I'd disagree. As soon as any alternative scene reaches a critical mass, it becomes the mainstream and hipsters like us have to leave them alone for fear of catch the middle of the road bug.

The clueless worlds of the record buying public are tempered by adverts, radio shows, magazines... and word of mouth. How could anyone else explain the explosion of soft-indie in the early 2000s? There were very few superstars there, but a lot of people who were just doing their job (and years earlier, like Belle and Sebastian, would've been ignored) made a lot of money. It breeds in the pressure and hype created. These days, most bands are built from their debut album and can fall from there. White Lies are a good example (Klaxxons too, less recently) where a massive debut album hasn't helped the kids get on. Their hype, whilst it gave them a good push out of the blocks, may just have killed them. The scenesters who are supposed to like them (and later stick with them no matter what they release) have no chance because as soon as they have some exposure they're on the NME Lists, the BBC Lists, and then Radio 2 have their noose ready... it breeds a certain type of disposability that is rife in the industry.

Tipping of such bands will never stop though. Commerical tipping of bands is part of the game, which we all play (this blog indeed will play a part too) and the point scoring of getting a band that you like and then they suddenly blow up is a desire many have. Add into that a certain sense of "fuck you" to the likes of The xx, 65daysofstatic or Fennesz being heard in common day life, people will always want to shine on these bands. The genre, and the title it's self, may have lost much meaning, but there is still an alternative out there, I guess, but my time of defining it of it might be over. I'll listen to my post-rock, minimal techno, jangly acoustic anti-folk, and I'll look over at the kids and their scuzz rock, jumpy pop rock and electro-band crossovers and shake my head.

Then again, maybe that is the true alternative.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Capturing Albion

The first decade of the 21st Century saw a handful of musicians invoke the spirit of ‘Albion’ in describing the England of Betjeman, Boudicca and Britten. An England of triumphal spirit, doff capped faux-patriotism and Cheshire cat grinned irreverence. The chief progeny of this group were the Libertines, a band with much to commend, though not their misty eyed pining for non-existent idyll with which their myth hungry fans so slavishly adhered. The Libertines untrue and unhelpful summary of the brilliance of Little England won them critical and commercial acclaim and a position in the upper echelons of lists detailing the albums which defined the decade. Albion played a big part in my own musical decade too. But a very different Albion from that in Peter Doherty’s mind.

In my own Albion the great social historians are Brightonian four piece Clearlake. Their debut album ‘Lido’, released by Domino in 2001, set end of the pier humour and kitchen sink drama to music inspired by a list of British pop auteurs including Messrs Gedge, Morrissey, Albarn and, bizarrely, George Formby. Its subtleties were overlooked by those who dwelled on the twee element of the (admittedly brilliant) paeans to jumble sales (‘Jumble Sailing’) and evocation of the famous British ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ attitude (‘These Things Are Meant to Try Us’). But songs such as ‘Sunday Evening’ with its chilly evocation that ‘…there isn’t much on except Songs of Praise…’ and the terse brilliance of ‘Something to Look Forward To’ said more about my teenage, middle class Albion in the rain swept Lake District than Wordsworth or Coleridge ever could. The album found beauty in absolute mundanity without ever seeking to eulogise or canonise it. That fact makes it brilliantly English in itself, but its capturing of the ‘Albion’ of Hugh Scully, briny seaside caffs and complex stoicism was its true magic.

Alas Lido, for all its might, was merely Clearlake lulling the listener into a cotton wool stuffed shoebox to ready them for their next act. The album that followed in 2003, ‘Cedars’, evokes a very different England – a sinister, wintry and ultimately claustrophobic place to live. The sonic stylings kept their traditional Anglo-pop bent but allied it to a more full on sensory experience which borrowed heavily, but choicely, from early 90s shoegaze bands such as My Bloody Valentine and album producer Simon Raymonde’s own band The Cocteau Twins. Songwriter Jason Pegg also abandoned the frailty which was central to Lido’s charm, ‘Cedars’ answer to ‘These Things Are Meant To Try Us’ was the stinging and spiteful ‘Keep Smiling’ a song which taught of grinning through a lost argument whilst masking inherent rage.

‘Keep Smiling’ was only the tip of the iceberg. ‘Cedars’ embittered heart lay in the self doubting trio of ‘The Mind is Evil’, ‘I’d Like to Hurt You’ (choice lyric – ‘I wouldn’t hurt a fly/but I’d really like to punish you’) and ‘Come Into the Darkness’ which dealt with the singer’s own darkest thoughts. But how does that relate to ‘Albion’? In the same way that Charles Dickens or Emily Brontë (and indeed Kate Bush) evoked England through the innermost horrors of Miss Havisham or Cathy Earnshaw – a dark and imperfect England. A true England. Not the imperfect England of mass immigration, social impropriety and crime as projected by the politically extreme but the England of the socially embittered liberal – an England which is just fine, but I wouldn’t mind if it was just that bit better thank you very much. The trick of ‘Cedars’ is in making this ‘Albion’. Again, the talent for spotting the mystic in the prosaic is on hand – the fact that trees grow amid the smog of central London (‘Trees in the City’) or a mid-Summer notion about the coming weather (‘I Wonder If the Snow Will Settle’) and finally, and most poetically in turning in on ones own self doubt in the imploring ‘Treat Yourself With Kindness’ which is in turns wonderful and understatedly blithe.

This England described by Clearlake in ‘Cedars’ is the country where I love to live, my Albion captured. The England where cups of tea come overflowing with bitter folly but where poetry is found in biscuit tins and on washing lines and in the snug at the village pub. Moaning and paranoid, but hopeful. Ever hopeful.

Judging is Fun

Just a quick bit of linkage:

Because we all do it, don't we?

Some favourites:

Fleet Foxes
Hopelessly patchy beard growers.

Arcade Fire
Frequent transcendental experience havers.

Joanna Newsom
People who have considered befriending a squirrel.

Devendra Banhart
People who have considered becoming a squirrel.

Boys who think Ocarina of Time is the greatest game ever made.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Girls who bought checkered sneakers in the 8th grade.

Brought to you from Flavorwire.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Something About Johnny Mathis

I'm never quite sure how to describe the kind of music taste my family, as in parents and sisters, have collectively – possibly because it's not collective at all. I'm not really sure where I get my interest in music from either, as there wasn't any indoctrination as a kid – I've got friends who were brought up being force-fed Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the Who, for example. Not for me. Hence why I didn't start getting music until I was 16, I guess. And now, how does it relate to my family? Does it need to? I mean, I played my Mum “You Forgot It In People” once and she liked most of it (prize to anyone who correctly guesses which track she wasn't keen on), though she's more likely to put on Dido. At the same time, she's the same woman who got me listening to Joni Mitchell, and it's at this point I chastise myself for classifying that which doesn't need to be classified. Dad's easier, if it's awkward and unappealing jazz music you're after, he's your man. Beyond that I've got one sister into kinda alternative stuff and one not really at all.

Yet – and yes, this is because of Christmas – the song which I associate them collectively, is Johnny Mathis' “When A Child Is Born”. For some reason it's become this kind of tradition in our house that the old vinyl circle from the year it was Christmas number 1 (1976, for what it's worth), gets brought out for one day a year and spun and we all feel homely and all that. I'd never really wondered about it before, but for some reason this year I'm inspired to do a little bit of Internet reading around – mainly Wikipedia; I'm not that inspired – about it. So here goes.

The first thing, it's Johnny Mathis' only ever number 1 in this country. Not really surprising, is it, but I knew close to hee-haw about him – I didn't know, for example, that his version of “Misty”, as in “Play Misty For Me”, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame 43 years after it was recorded and released. That only got to number 12 in the UK (and in the US), so I'm confused as to why a cover of a song that the original was used in a fairly good Clint Eastwood thing got inducted into...whatever the hell hall of fame that is, but I'm getting off topic, so back to Wikipedia.

Johnny Mathis is gay – I'm hardly breaking world news here, but again, something I didn't know. Wikipedia seems to be suggesting he came out in 1982, which would've made him pushing fifty then, and he received death threats after some article he was featured in was published. 1982, folks. Although maybe it was Westboro Baptist-style nutters raging at someone whose most famous song makes multiple references to Christmas, Christianity and Jesus Christ in general.

Johnny Mathis could've competed in the 1956 Olympics, but was forced to choose between that and a music career. He chose a music career, and some other website suggested he was “giving up his dream”, but fuck, he had a hell of a music career; it's not like he really made a bad decision and fucked his life up forever, is it? Seems he was a pretty nifty high-jumper especially – I can't help wondering: if Dalton Grant had had a music career, you can bet his music wouldn't have stuck around as long as Johnny Mathis' has, though why I've turned this point into a completely unprovoked dig at Dalton Grant is anyone's guess.

I've hinted at it before, but what surprised me somewhat about “When A Child Is Born” is that there are no explicit references to Christmas. Presumably it was just a warm-hearted song with sufficient vague parallels that it fitted in a Christmas. Obviously 1976 was a warmer-hearted world than 2003, when Gary Jules' “Mad World” was actually a very fitting Christmas number one. I wish I lived in the 70s.

It was actually recorded as an instrumental two years previously by an Italian songwriter called Ciro Dammico. Now the existence of an instrumental version does ring a few bells (or is that just the Christmas-y feel?) because I'm fairly sure the song is backed by an instrumental version. I quite want to go and find out now – does that instrumental version exist? And if so, is it actually a re-recorded version, as a tiny little “fuck you, Italy” kind of thing, or is it actually Dammico's original? I hope it's the latter. That'd be nice.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Welcome to Tones of Town

*clears throat*

Hello everyone, and welcome to Tones of Town, a brand new (as in this, this is the first post brand new) music blog from the people who brought you...okay, we've not brought you anything so far. But that's ok, this is going to be good enough that you'll forget we're comparative novices!

Over the coming weeks, months and other arbitrary lengths of time, this space will be filled with various writing from a wide range of eager (and not-so-eager) common folks like yourself. Not writers or anything, just people who like music and thought of something they wanted to write about, and found that – oh, look! - they had somewhere to write about it that a few other people might want to read it. It might be pretentious, pithy, or other words beginning with p, but at heart it's just writing, out of a passion for music.

Hopefully you'll find some interesting stuff here, and you'll come back a few times.


The Tones of Town team.