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, May 31, 2005
Live 8
I've just been watching Bob Geldolf taking pasionately on Channel 4 news about Live 8, G8, the global trade-aid-dept compact and the make poverty history campaign.

The line ups for the 5-leg live shows look great (well if we ignore Mariah Carey, Annie Lennox and bloody Dido). Lets hope they can pull it off and send a message to the politicians that dropping the debt really does matter. The NME has a full line up here.

THe official Live 8 website is here and information about tickets is here.

All we need to do is (a) win tickets in the text lottery so we can get into what promisies to be a great gig and (b) get out of the BBQ we've agreed to go to at my bosses house. eek.

Novelty Records
And so it came to pass that another novelty record, this time in a shape of a "crazy frog", thrashed the proper record to make it to number 1.

I'd love to blame this on the demographic of record buyers being 8-13 year olds or the people behind the record spending millions on marketing, but I think the fact is that as a nation we have a love of really bad novelty eurotrash records. This is probably the worst one for a while, maybe as bad as Mr Blobby, but I can be sure that it won't be the last.

It probably doesn't help that the coldplay record is pretty dire as well ;-)

Thursday, May 19, 2005
Ryan Adams
It's not all doom and gloom however. The new White Stripes album promises to be a killer and the new Ryan Adams record, Cold Roses (the first of 2 or 3 this year!) is a corker.

Recorded with his new band (The Cardinals) this is perhaps his most polished work to date. Shades of Joni Mitchell and Neil Young in several places, most notibly Meadow Lake street, are mixed with nods towards more modern influences including Razorlight.

I'm not sure what the rest of The Cardinals add to the band, this really is just another (great) Ryan Adams record. Perhaps a couple of filler tracks on disc 2 cound have been dropped to form a killer single album, but really I'm jsut being picky.

And The Same Applies To Coldplay
And while I'm at it - It's not just the new Oasis album that is being hyped at the moment. The new record from Coldplay X & Y is also receiving a large amount of press.

Unfortunately for Coldplay their new single really isn't much to write home about - perhaps Clocks pt 2 rather than the reinvetion of the wheel that Chris Martin promised. Let's hope that the album is a little better than the single. Apparently EMI (the owner of their Parlophone label) made a profit warning to the London Stock Exchange when it found that X & Y was delayed by a couple of weeks. I doub't that they have to worry to much - this record will shift millions of copies, but will it actually be any good?

Oasis My Arse
The Oasis hype machine has been rolling for a couple of months now. It started as a dribble of news about the new album; and then the announcement of big summer gigs; and now it's reached a torrent of news with the release of Lyla this week and the album Don't Believe The Truth in a couple of weeks time. We've also had the standard articles in the NME with Liam ranting like a loon and dismissing all new bands - e.g. a bunch of University Challenge students (Bloc Party).

The fact is Oasis are past it. Lyla, is supposed to be a great lost single that almost didn't make it onto the album, but then someone realised it was a great comeback single and it was resurrected from the original Noel demo. To me Lyla just sounds like a weak dirge. If this is the best track on the album then DBTT isn't going to be the best Oasis record since Definately Maybe as Noel has said and has said every time since What's The Story (Morning Glory).

Recently the band have played a series of small club dates (The Astoria being one of them) to good reviews. This may be the case, but when it comes to the big shows can Liam be arsed to put on a show? Last year's Glasto performance would suggest not.

At the end of the day when a band gets to the size of Oasis they really have to have the fire and the urgency to delvier. Otherwise they should just retire and spend time playing golf.

So, in the words of Jim Royale - Oasis My Arse.

Saturday, May 14, 2005
Number One on The Day You Were Born
Ever wondered what was number one on the day you were born? Perhaps finding out might help answer some of those "what does it all mean?" questions you've been asking recently, but then again probably not. Still it's good fun and people can't lie like they do with the first record you bought question:

Mine isn't too hot:

Artist: Gary Glitter
Song title: I Love You Love Me Love

But its better than a work colleague who is lumbered with Congratulations by Cliff Richard. Ouch.

Deaf Stereo / Echelon / Battle, The Barfly
I love the barfly. This week, we spent 6 quid to see 3 very average unsigend bands (see my previousreview of Transcargo). But a week ago we spent the same amount at the Barfly to see Battle, because they’re being name dropped by anyone who’s anyone at the moment. What we actually got was 3 great bands for 6 quid. Bargain.

First on are Deaf Stereo, who have eschewed the need for a drummer and have filled the spare space at the back of the stage with a lot of electronic equipment. The beats and synchs are augmented with guitar, bass and vocals, which result in a sounds that sits between New Order and Death In Vegas.

Echelon hail from Essex, and are more of a traditional band. Some cad at the bar shout out that they’re the Essex Coldplay when they come on. A little harsh, but not a million miles from the truth. They also sound like Jeff Buckly, Muse and Radiohead, and have some pretty strong songs. Of tonight’s 3 bands these are most likely to hit the mainstream.

Battle have been out on the road supporting Bloc Party and The Subways. It can’t be long before this is reversed and The Subways are supporting Battle. They have a similar sound to Bloc Party (I don’t know how I missed the shows with both bands on the bill), maybe a little darker and more synth based. Recent single Isabelle is a highlight of the set, and unbelievably HMV still have copies for sale. Get hold of a copy while you can.

Thursday, May 12, 2005
Transcargo, Parkers Place Covent Garden
I usually don’t write bad reviews of unsigned bands, because I’ve been there and it’s hard enough trying to get people out to see you without giving them an excuse.

Tonight however, we saw a band of such utter mediocrity I felt the need to come straight home and vent my spleen. After listening to tracks on the Transcargo website I was quite looking forward to seeing a band sounding something like Zero 7 (OK) and Broadcast (bloody brilliant – we need more bands like Broadcast AFAIC). What we got was a bad Cardigans (Christ, the cardigans can’t make any money out of being The Cardigans and they’re good at it). The whole dynamic of the band revolves around singer Emily Phillips, it’s basically her and 6 bookish looking indie blokes. But she just doesn’t cut it – and her dancing like a drunk Shaking Stevens is of putting to say the least.

I’ll leave you with this thought – If you’re going to have a horn section in a band they’ve got to be fucking tight – sloppy hors are a crime. I’ve seen bands with great horn sections, Belle And Sebastian, despite being a shambles live, know how to use horns; JTQ and Brand New Heavies both know about how to use a horn section to lift a band. But if you’ve got 6 or 7 musicians on stage then the songs need to have room for all of the sounds otherwise they just become a dirge (like tonight’s opener, which starts of quietly and builds into a bigger dirge for each of the achingly long 5 minutes it takes to complete).

It’s not all bad – closer Copenhagen is good. It sounds like the Cardigans crica Life because not everyone in the band is trying to play louder than the rest.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Nine Black Alps, The Garage
Manchester and The North West has always had a massive creative input into the British music and every couple of years it produces a band that is so fresh and so different from all of the other bands that they have an influence much beyond their creative output.

Now, I have no idea that Nine Black Alps are the next in this succession of bands, but they certainly have some of the key attributes:
1/ They are young and nervous (hiding behind their hair) but posses a certain confidence in their music.
2/ They have impeccable references – in this case incorporating the sound of Nirvana and other sub-pop bands.
3/ They sound unlike any other band around at the moment – their sound is at complete odds with the current indie sound and influences (garage rock).
4/ They are hyped by the music press.

Only time will tell if Nine Black Alps live up to the promise, but this evenings gig gives us a glimpse of some of their talent. If you get a chance go and see them.

Tonights support band, The Redwalls, are, themselves an oddity. Whilst NBA reference bands from the US, the Redwalls are from Chicago but reference British bands of the 60s such as The Stones, The Faces and The Beatles all updated with modern Strokes like guitars. In fact it’s The Beatles that they sound most like – lots of harmonies and a vocalist who sounds like John Lennon in the later years of the band. They’re pretty enjoyable but probably won’t set the world alight. It’s also worth noting that they have a guitarist who looks like Chevy Chase and another that looks like a little brother of Julian Casablancas.

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