Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Fucking Snob #1

This feature gives us the ability to look down on the depths of the current popular musical trends to be The Fucking Snob – it's time to look at pop music, latex gloves on.

For the full effect list along with this post using the handy Spotify playlist. Or not. 

Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguleria – Moves Like Jagger
What happened. I thought Maroon 5 were a band of musicians, but they appear to have been replaced by the gathering hordes of machines ready to destroy our organic way of life. The band that did those whiny Radio 2 baiting tracks that sold millions appear to have been entirely wiped out and thrown away, replaced by what seems like the usual cut and paste normal pop-shit. The autotune, wooosh effects, thudding and pointless drum line. Ugh, what the hell. Also, point of contention; if anyone moved like Jagger they'd get fucking no action at all, colostomy bag needed for the full Jagger effect.

Calvin Harris – Feel So Close to You Right Now
This track is only worthwhile for the absolute fucking laughable attempt at making it seem like he's from the US in the video – yes, they still make music videos, who would've thought it! It is the usual plodding track from Harris who manages to sing the one line once and well, using that as the basis for a song. It would appear that with songs like this that have no beginning, middle OR end, it just kind of stops without any idea of where to go. What's the point?

Ed Sheeran – The A Team
There's not even one mention of the actual A Team in this track, so massive points lost there. Also, the rhyming here is fucking atrocious, as is the whole sickly feel of the song – it sounds like that Nizlopi band's B side to the JCB song that was everywhere a couple of years ago. The feeling is of doing a really smelly shit inside a clothes hamper at the base of your bed.

Christina Perri – Jar of Hearts
I actually had no idea this wasn't a track that had been specially commissioned for the X Factor. It would appear that people have realised that they can make a shit ton of moeny from playing the piano and singing some warbling shit about love again, rather than spending a lot of money on it all. Pop music has returned to the Wet Wet Wet era of music, which is interesting as maybe we'll have a large 19 week number one that kills a band's career. Sometimes, we can only hope. I'd be hard pushed to pick this track out of a line up when paired with anything by Adele a washing line with black bin bags tied to it, or a police officer taking his shoes off after a day of work. It's so mundane and boring, like musical bullshit.

Dappy – No Regrets
Impressive intro on this track – no words uttered for the first few lines, just muttering. The line "done been through it" makes me want to smash up my iPod. I only really know Dappy from being kinda associated with N-Dubz and the impressive hat wearing on Nevermind the Buzzcocks appearance. I actually can't decide if rhyming "Camden" and "Richard Branson" might just be the greatest thing I've heard this year, like some beyond the pale genius that I can't quite get my head round. This has to be tongue in cheek. I mean... it must be? Even the key change made me burst out laughing. It's not tongue in cheek? Oh. Oh dear.

Ed Sheeran – You Need Me, I Don't Need You
This... this is the same guy as before? Okay, that's impressive as it's quite different from the other song, but there's loads of lines in here that are really meta; talking about how you write songs, didn't go to Brit School, and mentioning Damien Rice, it just feels like the kinda song that you write as a kid when you want to be in a band – it has amateur all over it. Then he has the incredible temerity to even suggest that he is rapping. I am not sure what to make of this – the thing is no matter how current you make a track seem, by namechecking Youtube, Myspace, or even Melody Maker, it just dates the track. The songs that have lasted from the 1980s and 1990s didn't mention Sega Mega Drives, SNES', nor did they refer to Gated Snares and 808s defensively. It feels like this song is almost a set of excuses; it certainly is the most defensive single i've heard in a long time. Ed Sheeran, why are you so worried about how you are seen? Just write good music and see what happens.

Jason Derulo – It Girl
Jason "Jason Derulo" Derulo next. I can't stand it. It has that clap snare that sounded dated in 1994. Good gracious me... our children are going to laugh so much at the sound of our vocals from our time – the same way when I listen to the snares and reverb from the 80s, Autotune is going to sound like a fucking disaster in 2020. Our kids are going to hate us. They will despise this era of music. Oh god, what the hell have we done. We've gone and ruined music for ever.

Olly Murs ft Rizzle Kicks – Heart Skips a Beat
You know something – considering this track is a tiny bit of popular music pre-cum from the Behemoth Cowell and another popular music roll of the dice from an X Factor disaster scene, this track is sonically pretty impressive. There are more deep synths and slight and subtle moves under the melody than anything prior in this column. The death knell of this track is the crowbarred in guest spot from some little guys who I've never heard of. Acording to my Spotify playlist of "Top Tracks" they actually are next. I think not, sorry boys. You'll have to wait for another Fucking Snob time.

In summary
I went in looking for a fight. I walked into the charts and said "come on if you think you're critically impressive enough" and I got what I wanted. Nothing there impressed me and nothing changed my mind. The Fucking Snob is satiated for another time.

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Novice’s Guide to the Intricate Nature of New Music Genres

I am an electro and techno novice. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I am a music novice, despite spending hours and hours each week listening to varying genres and lovingly gobbling up facts, names, dates and discographies in my spare time. The fact that the people who write on this blog are essentially all bound by the same loving affection for music, I don’t many of us are masters of it. Or maybe that’s just me.

See, music for me has always become more amazing the more I try to learn about it. When I was younger it seemed a very small thing; essentially only existing as far as the radio allowed me to hear. Of course, that was a silly assumption, but it was the reality of music as I grew up. There was this “past” that existed because my parents had heard it, and the present as I heard it. It took an awakening in my early teens as to music’s true widespread nature, and it opened my eyes. Bands that are known to do this to people are known by some as “gateway” bands; the bands that open our eyes to further deeper knowledge and sourcing of greater expanses of music from around the genres of music.

I was brought up on rock music, and slowly found electronic music via my love for the recent output of Radiohead and Boards of Canada. If anyone is to say that the Radiohead albums I am referring to (specifically Kid A and Amnesiac) are over rated, I can only suggest that they might be right, but what it gave me was something beyond simple music. They opened my ears and mind to a whole new style and creative process behind music. Electronic music that was cerebral and interesting suddenly existed beyond the Ibiza Annual adverts and the club music that I had grown up with.

This awakening has only brought me to realise just how little I do know of the music that I am getting involved with. When I discovered the branch of rock music that is named “Shoe-gaze” I was aghast at not having known about it before, and quite quickly I devoured Slow Dive and My Bloody Valentine, the two poster-bands of the genre, and then moved onto more obscure types of shoe gaze, ending in the other genres of shit gaze and electro shoe gaze, or “nu-show gaze”. All made up genres, you understand, much like the “nu-rave” fascination for those three months in 2006.

It led me to remember a phrase I heard at work early this year; “a jack of all trades, a master of none” – my skimming of these genres, and others, had lead me to not really delve deep into them in the same way that my rock music knowledge was. It is always a difficult expectation of people when you start to dip your toes in the deep ocean of a new genre, especially ones that are so wide and vast that it might seem daunting.

I fell into minimal techno via an incredible thread on the world famous Drowned in Sound message boards a long time ago. It is a legendary thread on there for bringing to the masses an almost exhaustive compendium of musical choice cuts from an incredibly detailed hive mind of music (if you want to read the thread, it is here , but be warned – it’s 827 replies will make it a lengthy one to load and an even lengthier one to read) It spawned a massive Spotify playlist that sadly is no longer around, but I picked off various cuts from it and bits and pieces I liked and sprinkled these tracks all over my Wednesday Graveyard playlists that I religiously built in 2009 and 2010. I’ve abandoned them since, but I wish to return to them in the future, and I will post them on here if and when I do.

I made the conscious decision to get into this genre a few months back when I became very bored of rock music almost overnight. I didn’t quite fully grasp the nature of my commitment, and it is only when I look at being involved more and more the less and less I actually seem to know. I started loving The Field and was chastised for not listening to Arthur Oskan, Patlac, or Walls. I’d not heard of them; I now have, and they intrigue me.

The journey into a new music genre is always quite a challenge. First of all you need some guidance on where to even start, and in some cases even that is a most contested point. If you chose the wrong era, or the wrong route to start down, you are either going to be put off for life or going to be sucked in for the long term, reading up on Wikis, detailing on Discogs and most importantly, seeking out all their music on Peer to Peer networks, sharing mixtapes/iMixes, jumping up and down on Spotify playlists and... god help you, joining a forum.

Interestingly, despite all of this, I still enjoy it more than anything else I find in music. Sure, I love seeing bands live and hearing new material from artists I know and love, but there is nothing more daunting or exciting than realising that there is a whole world of new music out there that you might like or you might hate and that’s the point. It is obviously not for everyone, and those who seek out details in each genre are quite different to those who exhaust their singular genre, but that’s the beauty of it. I can write 1000 words on why and how to approach a new genre, and Nick or Gareth could write 1000 words on why they love a particular song. That’s the beauty of it all, really.

Music is cool.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Six Shuffle #2 – 7th October 2011

Six Shuffle is a feature where our writers play six tracks from their musical library whilst on shuffle and write thoughts on the track during the track length, no matter what song comes on or how long the song is.

Elbow – Picky Bugger
From their album Leaders of the Free World (the last Elbow album before their songs started being used to soundtrack every montage in TV history) this track is a rare vicious track, with a dark key and swearing – a bit different to the mellower Elbow we know now. I actually really like Leaders of the Free World, as it’s the album that I discovered Elbow from. It’s shorter than I remember though, but I love the clapping at the end.

The Cast of Cheers – Derp
I love this album – it feels like a better, more mature Bloc Party, with their cool factor still intact. There’s a loud level of math-rock to this album, and this track is a winding and flipping version of the shouty nature of the band. It was available for free from their Bandcamp last year, but is very much worth the money that they are wanting to lay it out – it has that excitable nature that debut albums sometimes don’t have, when someone is doing something not entirely new, but certainly something that will get your attention when it comes on. A very good album.

It is also worth noting is the lovely art work (posted below). It’s very Why?-esque, but it works.

Steven Milne – Falling
Ah! A local boy from Aberdeen: a close contender for my next New Scottish Music column. I ran into this album by going to see the Twilight Sad play an acoustic set, and Steven Milne (who is in the band Little Kicks) wowed the crowd with his lovely solo album. It really is a fabulous singer songwriter album and well worth sourcing. This track gets the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end – it must be the melody on the chorus that does it, and it feels so right and so good. Genuinely a good find and another reason to love my local record shop One-Up. I will get round to writing another column full of new Scottish acts for the winter, and he will certainly involved in the post, this album’s been on my rotation for a while now, and sits proudly in front of my iPod dock CD hi-fi player.

(The) Phantom Band – Folk Song Oblivion
My review of their second album The Wants was a vitriolic run through the worlds of “fucking pop music” and was for a while my favourite bit of writing I’ve done for here. It reads a little petulant and a lot like a music-indie prick acting out, but I kinda still stand by it, mostly that the album is the best British album of the last few years. This is from their debut album, Checkmate Savage, and is a probably the best song they have on that records. The sweeping riff feels like a cloud growing over a mountain, like a folk song mutated thanks to the Mutant X gene. It also feels like Cthulu, swarming a shipwreck. I love it, despite it being linked directly to me lodging my car ontop of a rock one night when going hillwalking and almost destroying my car, and certainly destroying the land owners lawn. Oops.

Battles – Toddler
Um... I’ve not really gotten into the new Battles record, but I loved Mirrored. This seems like a random interlude and is quite nice. It has a feel of one of those mobiles you get on babies beds – maybe that’s where the name came from.

The Twilight Sad – Made to Disappear
This is my favourite track from their second album Forget the Night Ahead. It’s something to do with the drum rhythm being a little off, and different, and it feels so good to drum along. “You said forget the night ahead... but you’ll never find her on her own...” genuinely love this track. It has this slow approach to the guitar that’s quite different to the actual sound of the drums and juxtaposition seems to work in the songs favour. It feels really good.

Interestingly, I am listening to these through my new Etymotic HF2 Earphones, and I have just noticed a little squeal on the guitar at the chorus I’ve never heard before. I love when that happens.

Bonus Seventh Spin
Dananananaykroyd – Some Dresses