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.
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
 
Libertines Live MP3s

One last post for this evening... The Libertines have put up a recent gig for download on their website.

 
New Gig on the Calendar

I've just booked tickets for Razorlight at ULU.

 
Cheap, Legal Music Downloads... form Russia?

The Register are reporting that a Russian company are selling DRM free music downloads with licence fees paid to the Russian record labels. There was also a discussion about the legality of this service on slashdot.

Both pieces are based on an article written by Charles Wright for the Sydney Morning Herald.

The service (called allofMP3) works by charging by MB downloaded instead of the per-track model favoured by other services. I should point out that the legality of downloading tracks from this site anywhere outside Russia is unknown. I'm going to dig further and maybe give it a try.


 
The Concretes, The 100 Club

Victoria Concrete - vocalsThis is the hardest review I’ve had to write yet because, well, there is so little to write about. Tonight there are no support bands; The Concretes come on late (because of some technical problems with a tuner) and only play for 40 minutes. At about the time they play the final song (a cover of I Miss You by The Rolling Stones) they finally appear to be hitting their stride, so it’s a disappointment that they bugger off and don’t come back on for an encore.

What they do play sits somewhere between Belle and Sebastian and that other great Daniel Concrete - guitarsSwedish pop band The Cardigans. The vocal style of lead singer Victoria Bergsman is very close to Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star - one of the greatest bands of the 90s and criminally overlooked by the British music press at the time. On paper this looks great but tonight they just don’t seem to pull it off. Maybe it’s because most of the people in the room have (if lucky) heard 2 tracks – Say Something New, the new Single, and New Friend, which appeared on the excellent Counter Culture 2003 compilation by Rough Trade records at the end of last year. Or maybe they’re like B&S who are notorious for playing hit or miss gigs (I’ve been to a couple of dire B&S gigs, and at least one really great one).

Victoria ConcreteBut it’s not all bad news. Victoria, with her Swedish accent and broken English, is sure to break the hearts of a certain type of indie-boy (the type who has posters of Betty Blue on the wall of his student accommodation) and when they put their foot down and rock out with the twin guitar sounds of Daniel Värjö and Maria Eriksson they are really impressive (I remember reading a review of The Cardigans back when their Life album came out that said they were a metal band in the body of fey indie posters and this comparison holds for The Concretes).

The 100 club is ideally suited to this kind of music – the stage is plenty big enough for the nine musicians (including a horn section, another similarity with B&S, and a full time percussionist – Maria Concrete - more guitarssurely just an excuse to bring a friend over from Sweden on a jolly) and just small enough to mask the fact that tonight is not a sell out show.

I am absolutely sure that this band have the potential to be great, they just need to get some more live dates under their belt, crank out a few singles and hope that they don’t get ignored by the music press (they have the marketing might of EMI behind them, so this should’nt be a problem) . If you fancy finding out what all the fuss is about they’re playing at Kings College on June 23rd and tickets are available from gigsandtours.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004
 
Still writing The Concretes review... it's taking a little longer than I expected. In the meantime why not visit Delusions of Adequacy, which is a great music related web site.

Monday, April 26, 2004
 
I've got a bit behind with the reviews... I was gonig to write a piece on The Concretes yesterday, but quite frankly, I wasn't feeling very creative after the weekends Stag activities.

I've found the missing YYYs review and I'll get The Concretes one up tomorrow.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kentish Town Forum

Tonight’s support is provided by a man in a mac called Devendra Banhart, and men is masks called The Locusts.

We roll up to the Forum about half way through Devendra’s set. Thinks of a bad Syd Barrett impersonator, playing a bad Doors cover version on his own, without a backing band. If this floats your boat then you’ll probably love Devendra. When he shuts up and plays the guitar the songs have a good melody. Similarly, when he sings a cappella he has a pretty good voice, but combine the two and they crash and grate.

Next on are The Locusts who arrive on stage in full Locust costumes complete with masks. They stand stock still for about 10 seconds staring out The Forum and then 4 raps on the snare and we’re crashed into an industrial wall of noise, which blows the froth of my pint of lager. About a minute later and the assault is over. There seem to be a few casualties at the front but this doesn’t stop The Locusts, who launch into the next aural attack.

Watching this band is like watching a video on forward scan. They play so damn fast, it must take so much practice to play this fast and load. Towards the end of the set a drum mic comes loose and the drum tech risks his life to attach it back to the tom-tom. Obviously he and the drummer can hear it, but for those of us not used to hearing anything played this fast, it makes to the power of the onslaught.

The last song lasts about ten minutes (that’s 10 times longer than most of the songs) and has three nasty keyboard solos that sound like someone grinding 2 pieces of metal together. It hurts a lot. The Forum are wholly unimpressed with The Locusts and they are (rather harshly) booed of at the end of their set.

It’s nearly 2 years since the first time we saw the YYYs at The Garage, and almost a year to the day since the release of their debut album Fever To Tell. In addition to the album we’ve had a string of great singles and Karen O has spawned a thousand clones, most of whom have ventured to The Forum for tonight, the middle night of a three night stint.

They start the set with the boys out front. When Karen runs out from the wings wearing a blue and white fairy costume the clones at the front pale in comparison and The Forum erupts.

We’re treated to all of the hits – amazing versions of Pin, Bang and Mystery Girl have the mosh pit in a frenzy. The set contains five new songs, four of these are a progression with fuller guitar sounds (the addition of chorus and phase to the standard spiky sound). One of these new songs steps to White Stripes territory – all of them are longer than we’ve come to expect from a YYYs track.

Its great to see the band on such a huge stage. Nic and Brian are pushed to the back and side to give Karen as much space as possible - and she uses every inch of it. She runs from one side to the other; she climbs across he monitors; one instant she’s smiling like a loon at the front row, but she never holds the same expression for more than a few seconds and then the other personalities that lives inside her bubbles to the top and she grimaces out at the adoring masses. The mic is her friend and her enemy. When she’s not singing or screeching into it she holds it as far as possible from herself, like it’s something very distasteful she found at the back of the stage. When she sings she holds the mic so close that at times she’s practically eating it. Part way through the set she grabs an easter egg and part devours it – foil and all – rubbing chocolate all over her Ziggy Stardust face paint.

For the encore Karen changes costume and comes on in a rather ill advised silver condom outfit. You can almost hear the clones working out where they can get one – expect to see similarly ill conceived fashion statements in your local indie disco soon. This is the only dodgy thing about this show.

Thursday, April 22, 2004
 
News From Bloc Party

Just back from The Concretes gig at the 100 Club - a review by Monday, hopefully, stag do's permitting. Also, I've put aside 5 minutes tomorrow to find that YYY's review, which seems to have gone AWOL on my desk.

The follow piece of mail arrived from Bloc Party today and I felt I should pass it on to you, the blogsphere. See you at the academy on the 14th June?


Manufactured Music
- - - - - - - - - -

The release of Bloc Party's 'Banquet'/'Staying Fat' has been bumped back a week
to a new timecode of 3rd May. This is due apparently to a gremlin in the
manufacturing process. But don't lose your sweatbands you little artwave
fans, the single can still be ordered through the Moshi Moshi shop on 26th
April so get clicking to http://www.moshimoshimusic.com/.

Series of Consecutive Gigs In Different Towns (Part II)
- - - - - - - - - -

We are happy to announce a new set of shows for June. Rest assured will be
spending May brushing up on our output in order to bring you the very latest
ideas from the heart of modern rock music. It's kind of what you'd expect.

Thursday 3rd June - Glasgow King Tuts
Friday June 4th - Liverpool Heebie Jeebies
Saturday June 5th - Bedford Esquires
Sunday June 6th - Oxford Zodiac
Tuesday June 8th - Birmingham Academy 3
Wednesday June 9th - Leeds Cockpit
Thursday June 10th - Sheffield Uni Fuzz Club
Friday June 11th - Manchester Irish Centre Blowout Club
Sunday June 13th - Brighton Zap Club
Monday June 14th - London Islington Carling Academy

Bloc Party - Dressed By Their Mummies
- - - - - - - - - -

S'all for now. Although keep an eye out for us on MTV2 and various broadcast
networks, caught rabbit-like in the headlights of your glare. And check back
at the website soon to see the video for 'Banquet' and witness our first
forays into merchandising.

- - - - - - - - - -
http://www.blocparty.com/

Tuesday, April 20, 2004
 
Still playing with the format. You should be able to click on the photos in the following review to see larger pictures.

Bloc Party and The Rakes, The Metro Club

It’s Monday night, and we’re at The Metro Club, which means we’re half way through our three-gigs-in-a-week marathon. The reviews are going to be out of sequence because I left my review of last Thursday’s Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs gig on the desk at my day job.

The doors have just opened and the bar area is already packed with this week’s trendy hair cut with punters paying £3.20 a pop for a can of Grolsh, which is pretty pricey, even for London. Still we can’t complain as we only paid 6 quid a ticket got 3 bands (tonight’s flavour: Angular guitar pop), so we shell out for a lager and wait for the bands.

First on, The Rakes, who posses the same sartorial styling as Franz Ferdinand, with a sharp wit (acknowledging the liggers on the guest list by asking for a show of hands from the guest listers) and an arty sound to match. They’re the poppiest band on the bill tonight with immediate songs, sounding at times a little like Billy Childish.

During the first song the band look very nervous and its even-odds on whether they’ll make it to the end. I suspect that this is one of their first gigs – or maybe there are important record company types in the club tonight. Three songs in and all of the nerves have gone, replaced by a really exciting performance. The band bounce off of each other with the singer and guitarist sharing a mic in the same, slightly homoerotic way, that Carl and Pete Libertine do. In fact, tonight’s performance shares the electric feel of a Libs gig.

They play the new single, ‘In The City’, with its “In The City/ 22 grand job” refrain, which is likely to trouble the charts when it’s released in May, and should ensure that they’ll be headlining larger venues by the summer.

Second band on are a nameless 5 piece (they don’t tell us their name and I can’t find it in any of the flyers) who are very much overshadowed by The Rakes. I’m sure I’ve seen this band before but I can’t place where or when – the singer looks very familiar. The songs are OK, but we’ve been spoilt too early in the evening. Time for another Grolsh.

And so on to Bloc Party. The first thing you notice is Kele – he has a quality, call it the star quality, which drives the band from the front.

My previous review noted the similarities with early U2 and Blur. And it’s all there tonight in the effects applied to the guitars and Kele’s vocal delivery. The Blur link is also there in the link to US Indie bands (namely Sonic Youth). The U2 similarities also extend into the lyrics, which have a political slant (check out the website which reads like a manifesto).

Tonight’s set is a little short – Matt, the drummer, is keen to play on and stays on stage after a 1 song encore until the band relent and join him for a run through of an early b-side.


The new single, the band’s second, is out in May and this is their 4th visit to The Metro Club. Tonight’s performance isn’t as electrifying as the first time I saw them, but to be fair they’ve spent the last month on the road. Tonight the acclaim belongs to their peers, The Rakes, who stole the show early on.



Thursday, April 15, 2004
 
More Glastonbury tickets available

If you haven't got tickets yet then it may be worth visiting www.wayahead.com/glastonbury2004. A friend of ours managed to get hold of "reallocation" tickets last week, and according to the official glastonbury site, there is another, limited, allocation available.

Off to see the Yeah,Yeah, Yeahs now... back soon.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004
 
Will you pay more for music downloads?

Delivery of "content" over the Internet was supposed to make it cheaper. Yet, as this piece reports, the major labels would like to increase the price of downloads by 25%.

So, we're going to have to pay more for the tracks that we can go out and buy on a CD, with the download crippled by DRM. Do we think this will (a) encourage people to download tracks using a "legal" music service or (b) encourage people to use the "illegal" file sharing networks. Answers on a postcard to your local music monopoly.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004
 
Glastonbury Tickets Farse Continues

Just heard from a friend of ours who had her ticket booking cancelled yesterday because her debit card could not be authorised. She checked all of the details (they were correct) and contacted her bank, who confirmed that she had funds in her account.

So what's going on? If you're going to make people pay with debit cards then you have to make sure that the systems are in place to deal with the payments.Grrr.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004
 
Just added two new gigs to the calendar - The Zutons on the 7th May and Dark Seed on the 21st May. That makes 4 gigs in may - pretty good going.

The Zutons we've seen before (and I've enthused about in this blog). Dark Seed are the band of a friend of ours and this is their reunion gig. Don't know what to expect as I've not seen them before. The flyer is here.

Monday, April 05, 2004
 
Saint Rose & Delays, ULU

We've been to a few medicore gigs at ULU (The Thrills, Jet) but the support bands have always made up for the averageness of the headliners (22-20s and The Zutons respectively). So what of tonights headliners Delays and support band, Saint Rose.

Well, Saint Rose open with a very impressive track that starts like I Am The Ressurection and Pounding by Doves. Unfortunatley the rest of set - bar the closer which is a real rocker - are a little too close to Coldplay, and the world is only big enough for one Coldplay. I did pick up their single, Call For Calm at the merchendise stall, which I'm going to wack on the minidisc player this week. I'll let you know if I think it's any good.

So on to the headlines, Delays (note the absence of the "The" - apparently they don't like the definitive article!). I have to say that I am quite impressed. Prior to the gig I had judged the band on their two most recent singles, "A Long Time Coming" (a brilliant pop song) and "Nearer Than Heaven", a little fey and similar to indie no hopers Geneva. But live, the band are genuinely entertaining. Thanks in part to mad as a badger keyboard player, Aaron Gilbert, who's Bez Dance/Liam Swagger/Thousand Yard Stare combination is a winner.

The songs from the new album, Faded Seaside Glamour, all sound strong and far from fey. So good that I went and ordered the album from cdwow today. Hopefully the band will get a good slot at this summer's festivals as I'm sure these sings will sound great some time around sunset on The Other stage at Glastonbury.

Sunday, April 04, 2004
 
Glastonbury Tickets - Post Mortem

eFestivals have a good summary of what went wrong with the ticket booking, with some comments from Micheal Eavis and the ticket agency, Aloud.com. They also have a peice saying that eBay will be permitted to sell a block of tickets with Micheal's blessing. How they are gonig to do this without the prices reachingf silly money (the organizer's main objection to last year's unauthorised auctions is yet to be seen.

In related news, some joker has already put tickets up on eBay and a brave soul has bid 10 million to scupper the auction.

Friday, April 02, 2004
 
Glastonbury Tickets

Well, how did you get on? With the exception of a few unfortunates, my friends and I all got our tickets between 2am and 11am. I got mine at 2:30 this morning and wasn't sure if I'd dreamt it - enough to send me running for my email to double check the confirmation this morning.

I guess the press will pass comment on the relative merits of this way of selling the tickets. From my point of view it is immensely frustrating. How about this as an idea for next year:

There are obviously way more people than there are tickets. To avoid the mad rush, lack of sleep and disappointment why not allow people to "register" for tickets for a month, say 1st March to 1st April. The idea of using a debit card and only buying 2 tickets is a good idea, so this should be kept.

After the closing date randomly pick names out of the digital hat and allocate tickets to these people. Everyone gets a chance but nobody has to spend 12 hours on the phone. Lets face it we all have better things to do.


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