Muso-bable
The thoughts and ocassional ramblings of a 30-something muso.
Hello, I’m a muso. I'm one of those guys you see digging around the racks of vinyl in London's backstreet record shops. I'm not addicted, I can give it up whenever I want. I just need to find that limited edition 7" single that the NME made single of the week. Maybe you've bumped into me in the queue for the bar at The Academy or The Astoria. There are thousands of us in London - I've seen all the regular faces in the record shops and at the gigs.

This blog is my attempt to write about the records that I love, the gigs I've been to and, well, anything else to do with music. Hopefully you'll find something here that makes you nod in agreement or rant in disagreement or maybe even laugh.
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
 
Gig news

Off to see The Delays tomorrow night. Should be interesting - I got the tickets on the strength of one single. Now I've heard a couple of tracks I'm not so sure about them. So they have everying to prove and The Curse of

A colleague at work went to see Snow Patrol last night. Her report of the gig was that it was good and the band were on top of the world to be playing a venue as big as The Shepards Bush Empire. It's so nice when bands are still in that enthusiastic stage, before they become jaded and aloof.

The support band for Snow Patrol were Goldie Lookin Chain, who were apparently booed for the whole of their 30 minute set. Maybe the same people would have booed The Darkness this time last year - I bet the same people will buy the GLC album.


 
File Sharing in the News

This news item on The Register, says it all really - the record industry today launched a jihad on file shares.

Interestingly enough, this piece and this research (pdf) seem to sugest that file sharing may not have such a big impact on record sales.

It is as I have suspected for a while: we the people who use file sharing will be blammed for, and will pay the price for the ineptitude of the industry. But what happens when they've sued all of use for "theft" ? After all I break the law pretty much every day by ripping my CD's and transferring them to my minidisc player (we don't have fair use rules in the UK, so all copying is illegal, even if you have paid a licence fee to the copyright holder). As someone mentioned on slashdot earlier this week, no matter how the record industry spins it - it isn't theft, we have not stolen the work from the holder. What we may have done is not paid a licence fee.

What new excuse will they think up for falling record sales once they have shut down all of the file sharing networks? The real reason for falling sales (or as this article says - more acurately- falling prices - level sales) is they aren't giving us what we want. If I buy a single I want either
1/ A cheap 7 inch with a killer A side
2/ A CD single with a host of good quality B-Sides - not across format that costs nearly as much as the price of the album to buy al of the formats for all of the tracks only to find out that they are all shite.

If I buy an album I want at least 10 decent tracks, no padding, and I don't want to pay more than 10 quid for it. Give the people what they want and they will buy it.

To further muddy the waters, Canadian citizens already pay a licence fee on blank CD ROM discs to compensate copyright holders. In the UK and Europe there is a dearth of legal file sharing network's that allow users to use the music they pay for without it being crippled by DRM technology (which like copy protected CDs will stop me transferring my music to my minidisc player!)

Here's what I think should be done:
1/ stop chasing file shares through the courts
2/ introduce a subscription for all file sharing applications or place a levy on broadband internet connections - use this to compensate copyright holders on a pro-rata basis.
3/ don't cripple the music on the service with DRM. I just cannot and will not use it.
4/ record companies: learn to love file sharers - thry are your loyal customers.

OK, rant over... normal service resumed.

Thursday, March 25, 2004
 
What I'm listening to this week

Bit of a mixed bag on the minidisc player this week:

DJ Dangermouse - The Grey album
I've already talked about it too much. Find it on your favourite file sharing network now,

The Strokes - Room On Fire
It's had a few months off, but now very defintley back in the player. If I have one critisim it is that it's too tinny (why doesn't the kick drum kick and why does Julian sound like he's singing in an outside toilet?

Ryan Adams Live In Liverpool (Bootleg)
It's the gig that ended the last tour abrubtly. Listen to Ryan fall from the stage and carry on singing! Quite a good recording from someone in the crowd. I can't find the original place that I downloaded the gig frim so you'll have to google for it.

Top Ryan fact, he's name is actually David.


Blur Live in Paris (Bootleg)
What sounds like a Radio or Desk recording from last year, on the tour just after the release of Think Tank as some of the new tracks are incorrectly titled. Damon also explains why Graham isn't with them...

Joy Zipper - The Stereo And God
This is (I think) a mini album released before their first album proper. Contains the sublime "Check Out My New Jesus", which was the track that first turned me on to Le Zipper.

The Beatles - The White Album
After all of the Grey Album ho-ha, I decided to go back to the original, moslty good, Beatles album (am I allowed to say that!?!?). High points are of course, "Happiness Is A Warm Gun", "Rocky Racoon", "Glass Onion" and "Helter Skelter". Also contains the less good "Piggies" and "Birthday".

 
More Grey Album
Everyone appears to be talking about The Grey Album. There was a piece in the Observer music montly magazine last week, and this evening Channel 4 news had a piece in its weekly arts section.

Great disucssion on relative merits of the album here

Sunday, March 21, 2004
 
The Grey Album

I downloaded The Grey Album last weekend and I’ve been listening to it all week.

The first time you listen to it you spend a lot of time trying to work out which Beatles track each of the samples come from. After the 3rd or 4th play through, the samples cease to be snippets of the Fab 4 and start to be part of the songs. After a week of listening to the album, you can’t imaging the songs being any other way. That’s where EMI have really tripped up. This isn’t about someone stealing the Beatles music. It’s about creating a new, original piece of work from the pieces. If this was some kind of Jive Bunny cut-and-shove I could understand and sympathise. To censor this album just makes EMI look out of touch (and lets face it, it was probably a knee-jerk reaction, which is now backfiring spectacularly. I doubt if anyone listened to these tracks before releasing the legal hounds).

Stand out tracks (for me) are 99 Problems, which uses the guitar riff from Helter Skelter; and What More Can I say, which uses a snippet of guitar and a piano loop from While My Guitar Gently Weeps. The latter would probably go to number 1 if it were released as a single (and I’m sure it’s had more downloads than whatever fame-idol dross is at the top of the charts this week).

Everyone should hear this album, it’s shouldn’t be restricted to those of us with an Internet connection. Who knows it may even drive sales of the original albums. I’ve just dug out The White Album again and I think I’m going to go and buy The Black Album (I remember it getting a great review when it was released, but then it slipped off of my radar).

 
This week’s NME

Looks like Jack White is loosing it. Pictures in this week’s NME of his court appearance in Detroit show him looking like a cross between one of the goons in “A Clockwork Orange” and Michael Jackson. Surely not a good look for a court appearance?!?

If you didn’t get this week’s print version of the NME (and lets face it I have to convince myself that it’s worth it every week since it seems to be getting more like Heat every week), then you will probably have missed Singles review by “Andy Capper”. Single of the week, “Make Out. Fall Out. Make Up”, by Love is All, has one of the best reviews I’ve seen in a while, I quote:

“Love Is All’s second ever seven inch is the best HEART AND SOUL pop song released since Beyonce’s ‘Crazy In Love’ … this sounds like the members of Bikini Kill, Madness, Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound and The Nation Of Ulysses got together on The Muppet Show and sang the best song ever written – backwards! Then the crazy deaf genius that recorded it put all the microphones down a toilet while a dog (wearing shades) jumped all over the mixing desk, pissing wildly with excitement.”

Now that is a single review. I know exactly what that record is going to sound like. Andy, we salute you. Also, later in the same column, Andy quite rightly points out that most people equate Nickleback with crap metal, but are quite happy to listen to The Darkness. By far the best column I’ve read in the NME for weeks, it had me giggling like a 10 year old all the way to work.

Saturday, March 20, 2004
 
Gig News

Goldie Lookin Chain are actually playing in London on Thirsday 15th April, not March as previuosly reported by XFM. Full details on their website.

Supergrass, who I guess we can now call veterans, have annoiced a tour of what looks like Universtiy venues (plus the Forum in London). A long way from the areans they used to play. I was going to book tickets, but ANnie reminded me that I was a little disappointed with them at Glastonbury last year. Still, its billed as a "Supergrass: Do The Hits!" and the excellent 22-20s are supporting so I may still book.

One gig I have just booked is Joy Zipper at ULU (I missed out on tickets at the smaller/better 100 club) on the 14th May, which sould be excellent.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004
 
V Festival Line-Up Announced

NME are reporting the line-up for this year's V Festival (also reported on the official V website). Top pullers are obviously The Strokes, Kings Of Leon, Muse, The Pixies and err... Dido.

I overheard some colleagues at work discussing the V line up and comparing it to the romoured line up for Glastonbury. The thread of the conversation seemed to be that V had a great line up and Glastonbury was looking a little "old-man" (of course these people were saying how much they were looking forward to seeing Dido and Jamie Cullum, so read into that what you will).

The thing is you really can't compare Glastonbury with any other festival - it is so much more than who the headline band is on the Pyramid stage. For example, a couple of years ago, Annie and I didn’t much fancy the pyramid stage line up so we took a wander through the glade to the Avalon tent. It always amazes me the amount of activity at Glastonbury away from the big stages and this Saturday was no exception. We joined a throng of people too see part of the set by Pee-Wee Ellis - who I hadn't heard of before, but he is a legendary soul singer who has worked with the likes of James Brown. It's discoveries like this that make Glastonbury such a great festival.

Of course, I'm slightly biased as Glastonbury is the only festival I've ever been to. So I suppose I should try one of the other festivals to see how they compare. The sites just seem so small. I went past the Reading site on the train a couple of yearts ago and the stages seem so close together - I mean spending half an hour walking between stages provides so many opportunities for the unexpected to happen.

Only having limited finances, I will be getting tickets for Glasters (only 2 weeks to *the* rush for tickets). If we can't get tickets then V looks like a good bet. Of course, if someone from the V organisation would like me to experience the festival and write a review here, I can be persuaded ;-)

Sunday, March 14, 2004
 
Goldie Lookin' Chain

Just heard an advert on Xfm that said Goldie Lookin' Chain, the Welsh comedy rappers (picture a rap version of The Darkness and you won't be too far from the truth) are playing The Kentish Town Forum tomorrow (the 15th April).

Would love to go, but I'm busy. I suspect GLC will be as big as The Darkness by this time next year (which will probably mean that I'll have got bored of the joke by then).



 
Dirty Water Club

Just found out that The Dirty Water Club (who play host Billy Childish once a month) have a web site.

I've also received this email about The Dirty playing this Thursday. I won't be able to make it, but it should be a good gig:


THE DIRTY will be headlining a Sonic Mook Experiment "Future Rock&Roll"
night at On The Rocks
this Thursday, 11th March. The other two bands on the bill are The Ultra
Montanes and The Pollythenes.

===========================================================================

THE DIRTY

The Ultra Montanes
The Pollythenes

THURSDAY 11th MARCH @ ON THE ROCKS
Beckyr125@aol.com
25 KINGSLAND ROAD, LONDON E2

8.00PM - 12.30 AM £5.00 (if you want a cheapo guest list place email us and
we'll do our best...)

===========================================================================

The Dirty have a 7" single "CINNAMON" c/w "BLACK SUGAR" & "B-MOVIE DANCE"
currently out on Dirty Water Records. You should be able to find a copy at
your local record emporium, large or small.
For more info try www.dirtywaterclub.com

Saturday, March 13, 2004
 
Aloud, who will be the only authorised ticket seller for Glastonbury this year, have published an update on how tickets will be sold, which you can find here:
www.aloud.com

Thursday, March 11, 2004
 
Copyright in the news

I don’t have any gig reviews or album reviews this week, so instead a look at another issue affecting music fans. Copyright.

On Tuesday, the headline on London’s free paper, The Metro, screamed “Crackdown on file sharing”. The story actually alluded to the new European bill on copyright, dubbed “super DMCA”. The piece was a little reactionary, but probably quite rightly. It would appear that the law has been manipulated, possibly by someone close to the Vivendi Group, so that it not only targets mass pirates (a good thing!) to targeting downloaders.

Later on Tuesday the law was passed and will be implemented in member states over the next 2 years. We’ll have to wait and see whether this actually has an impact. Within 2 years the whole landscape will have changed, and we may have moved on in this debate.

There is an interesting response for the European Labour Party Press Officer here.

This week’s NME has several pieces on “The Grey Album” by Danger Mouse. For those of you who don’t know about it a quick summary: Danger Mouse has taken the vocal tracks from Jay Z’s Black Album and vocal and musical samples from The Beatles White album. EMI/Capitol, the record label holding the publishing rights to the White Album had a fit and banned the album. Anti censorship groups jumped on this and a number of web sites hosted the album for a day, dubbed Grey Tuesday, for people to download.

I haven’t heard the album yet, but I don’t need to hear it to know that it’s an innovative, creative work of art. This of course matters not a jot when dealing with our outdated copyright laws.

Here’s something I found out today, a copyright holder can block someone using a sample. They can also permit someone to use the sample but can decide on how much they want to charge for use of the sample. Contrast this with the la’s governing cover versions: A copyright holder cannot stop someone from performing a cover version and they can only charge a set fee for use. Also, if/when the cover version is performed (or played on the radio) the copyright holder, not the performer, receive the royalties. This would explain why EMI allowed the muppets from Fame Academy perform “A Little Help From My Friends” – they couldn’t stop it, and they made a nice pile of cash from all of the airplay on Capital.

So until the copyright law changes to permit a creative commons, where the use of an artistic work to create another artistic work is rewarded, artists such as Danger Mouse will be criminals.

Further reading:
Lawrence Lessig’s article in this month’s Wired magazine (an extract from his forthcoming book) discusses how the current media empires were based on work of early pioneering “pirates”. There is also a Slashdot discussion on this.

An interesting discussion on fair use on Slashdot today.

Monday, March 01, 2004
 
Bloc Party and The Zutons, Eletrowerkz Islington

This is the first time we’ve been to Eletrowerkz as it usually hosts Death Metal nights. Maybe with my new found love of this genre I’ll be back to see some of the bands on the posters around the venue. But then again, probably not.

Tonight is billed as a “Very Special Event”, and it certainly lives up to it. Two stages with a number of bands and DJ’s playing until 3 in the morning. We roll up about an hour after opening and can hear Bloc Party from the street outside. And man, do they sound good.

Upstairs in the “main room”, which is slightly larger than the bar area at the Brixton Acadamy, the band have drawn a huge audience. It’s only just gone 8pm and the indie masses have come out to see the new kids on the bloc (come on, I had to crack that pun!) and everyone is paying reverent attention. We squeeze into some space at the back near the sound desk.

The first thing you notice about this band – apart from the sound, see below - is how confident their performance is. Their website shows that they’ve been playing gigs for over two years and it shows.

So what do they sound like? Have they got the songs? The answer to both of these is Good and YES! There isn’t an ounce of fat in this set - every single song is a hit. I’ve only heard one single by the band (a 7” I picked up last month) but every song is immediate and accessible. I’m sure the band won’t like me to make comparisons, but they are like other great bands of our time – vocals and lyrics, thanks to Kele Okereke’s London drawl are very Blur. Musically, parallels can be drawn with early U2 and The Jam. The fact that most of the band were born well after the aforementioned bands had past their best is certainly humbling.

How much am I going to regret missing that start of this set?!? I love it when I read something about a band or hear a single and then get to see them live and they confirm that they really are new kings in waiting.

It looks like they have another month of gigs booked – go over to their website, find a gig near you and go and see this band.

Zuton Fever

This is the 4th time we’ve been to see The Zuton army in the last year. We stumbled over them playing a support set at ULU for the very average Thrills. We fell in love with their groovy, off kilter songs (and their sax player, Abi Harding to boot!)

It’s about 11:30 before the band take to the stage and we workers are pretty knackered (it’s past our bed time you know!). But lack of sleep isn’t going to stop the Zuton crew from making us dance, and sure enough they open with Zuton fever and we start to grin like loons and shake are thang.

They’ve grown in confidence every time we’ve seen them and tonight they appear to be relaxed and on good form. The Eletrowerkz sound system, long used to rumbling through the trudge of metal, springs into life with the Zuton groove. And for all the “wacky” reviews they’ve had, the band have got some serious songs. The interplay between Abi’s sax and Boyan Chowdhury’s guitar underpin each of the songs in a way that I’d never noticed before.

Another, larger headline tour has been organized for April and May, finishing with a date at ULU, headlining this time. See you there?

Details on the official Zuton web site and this rather nice fan site.


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