Category Archives: Music
So new year has passed and all hail 2013 as we hurdle into its third week. Im pretty glad 2012 is over. Not that it was a terrible year, really it was a bit meh. Movies this year have been pretty good but I honestly only remember coming out of 2 or 3 thinking “I would really like to see that again”. Fern Cotton also deemed this a glorious year for music on Christmas day Top of the Pops. Total pish. Music this year has been pretty poor. The Killers and Muse had new albums which failed to reach the bands past heights and as far as new music goes there was not much to write home about. Thankfully, due largely to Netflix this year has been ace for TV shows. I have been able to catch up on shows I had never seen for one thing. Like about 80% of the people I know with Netflixs I started watching Breaking Bad for the first time and Dexter. This year also saw new sitcoms “New Girl” and “Don’t trust the Bitch in Apartment 23” which were excellent and the not to excellent but “It has its moments” How to be a Gentleman (staring Johnny Drama/Kevin Dillon).
Ok, so now I will give my _____ of 2012. These might not have been made in 2012 but hey, this is my blog and these made my year!
Film of 2012
This was a really easy one in the end but I will quickly go through notes of intrest. Way back in January
The Gray came out. A film where basically Liam Neeson kicks the crap out of wolves (See here). Really enjoyed this film and thought it one of the better this year. There were alot of disappointing films at the start of the year to compensate. “Haywire” was a utterly underwhelming offering, “This Means War” was just terrible and the “Dictator” did nothing for Sacha Baron Cohen’s reputation.On the upside there was “The Muppets” and “21 Jump Street” to keep things ticking along until SUPERHERO SUMMER where my number one sits. So it was a time for heroes and we got them in abundance, The Avengers Movie was nothing short of amazing. Great story, Great action, an all round amazing film but not my #1. “So its Batman?” you say. Nope. Another brilliant film but I had my issues with it (especially the ending) so is not top of the pile. “John Carter? The Expendables? Surely Ted doesn’t count?” Your right it does not, My number one film of 2012 is……. Dredd.
I loved everything about Dredd. It looked cool, its plot was really simple, the pacing of the dialogue to action was perfect. Essentially Judge Dredd and partner are lock in at the bottom of a massive tower block and need to get to the top to get out. Only problem is that everyone in the building wants them dead. There is more to it than that but not much more. Another plus point is that it is one of the only 3D films I have seen that was made better by the technology. My #1 hands down.
TV show of 2012
There have been alot of great shows this year. As said above I have watched a host of excellent dramas but this year has been brilliant for sitcoms. I was losing faith in sitcoms, with the wealth of British offerings drying up due to the “give over rated comedian his own show” sponge. But this year i have see some great comedy. It has helped as old favourites such as “30 Rock” and “Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia” have been bang on form and the new arrivals mentioned in the intro have added something fresh. Even hidden gems like “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret” and the unmissable “The League” have brought a smile to my face. This year also marked the end of Limmys Show. It is a poor decision by the BBC to keep giving Russell Howard so much money than he knows what to do with it and pulls Limmys brand of off the wall comedy. Anyway to my #1 for TV is another series which has ended this year. Armando Iannucci stunning “The Thick off It”. I can only assume you have all watched this and if you haven’t, come on, sort it out. The satire is brilliantly clever and is perfectly mirrored by the eloquent strings of profanity from Malcolm Tucker. I personally love Armando’s work and if you haven’t see “The Armando Iannucci Shows” or “Time Trumpet” then give them a try.
Music of 2012
Ah. Well. This could be tricky. Music this year has been disappointing to say the least. If its not Dub step or songs about Equestrian Eventing (I assume from the actions?) then theres not been alot of noise made about anything. Music has been quiet this year. That said The Hives were on Jools Holland at new year so at least it ended well! I suppose my album of the year was actually relased late 2011 but I never got hold of till last year. It is Los Campesinos! – Hello Sadness. Great album, will add a track below and for more on them head here.
Oh and I suppose my Song of the Year is this below from Bloc Party.
Internet Thing of 2012
Butterfield. Last year you stole my heart. www.peterserafinowicz.com/brian-butterfield/
Well that will do. Like 2012 this is not the best, maybe slightly rushed but hey! Lets get on with 2013.
Till next time
So after a wee dub step bad boy of a teaser for the new album Muse release their new single Survival.
Yeah I know. Dam. First bit not great but after first 30 seconds. Nice. So i was excited about the new song but alarm bells went off when i was the official song of the Olympics. I have never heard a good “official Song”. So what did we get? Well this………..
Its like Butterflies in Hurricanes meets United States of Eurasia. One of the best and worse songs I have ever heard. Actually its like Matt has decided to take Butterflies in Hurricanes and make it into a west end musical. I’m not impressed. Also lots of talk of winning and not losing fits with the tedious link to the Olympics. Mon Muse sort your shit out!
Till next time
A look at TV “Talent Shows” and why one stands out
Unless you live under a rock or have been in a cave for the last century you will be well aware that every Saturday the UK’s biggest two channels go head to head trying to out do each other with either some kind of singing competition or a celebrity dancing face off. Throughout this time ITV/STV (depending where you are) have always had the upper hand as far as viewers go. Starting with “Popstars” with the unforgettable “Hear’Say” and then the still slightly-about-the-music-but-only-just “Idol” franchise. This then developed into the hideous “lets all laugh and the shattered dreams” X factor and ironically named Anyone-can-be-famous-for-anything-but-really-its-just-a-singing-and-dancing-comp “Britain’s got Talent”. Although I am not a fan of these shows they do give the viewer what they want. A bit of staged easy to follow drama, people with back stories that would make Hannibal Lecter weep and a nice wee pub singer doing a number before someone runs from the show crying. They are clever, clever television and prove undoubtedly that Simon Cowell is a genius and more than likely the devil.
But the poor old Beeb just don’t have the same punch that the “Cowell Factor” gives the channel 3 offerings. So far the BBC has churned out things such as the limp “Fame Academy” which had all the evil taken out but also left out the talent so it was a timid affair. Also who could forget Graham Norton’s quest to find a tribute act to play for a couple of months in a Vegas bar. What you can’t? It was “The One and Only!”……still nothing. oh well. After all these attempts they decided to aim for a different market. They employed a wax work that looked a bit like Andrew Lloyd Webber to cast his eye over his prey and whichever contestant survived his grasp would be given a part in a show. These camp-fest musical shows tried to counter the dark side by being overly nice and quirky but ended up alienating much of their past viewers who permanently jumped ship to the HMS Cowell. But to be fair to the BBC it has had a bit of success with their dancing shows such as “Strictly” and….eh…. so Strictly.
So the BBC have had one last throw of the dice. One last go at toppling the Cowell empire. It’s a Monopoly board. All the BBC has left is Old Kent Road but it’s not over yet. The BBC have given us “The Voice”.
My first exposure to this show what the advert. First thoughts: ” Not another shitty talent show, how can it be different or even more horrible than STV’s shows”. Then I saw Will.I.am turning his back on a singer and it was clear. They were going to humiliate people to such a degree that the contestants were going to vomit their insides out live on TV. Well, it’s a gimmick I suppose. But no, the premiss is that the four judges will not look at the contestants and judge them on solely their voice. The judges will then turn round if they like what they hear and if they are the only judge to do so they will take the singer onto their “Team”. If more than one judge turns then the singer picks their side. Each judge gets to pick a team of 10 and then I suppose it’s a ballet to the death live on the box.
So who are theses Judges. Well….. The human auto-tuner Will.I.am, walking-insanity-time-bomb Jessie J, denim on denim duchbag Danny O’Donoghue (of the Script) and God. Sorry better give him his mortal name, Tom Jones. Despite the judges appearing to be pick at random out a 12 year olds iTunes selection they have decent patter between the bickering and it is always fun when they try to work out if the singer is a boy or a girl.
The dynamic that they can not see the singer works better than you would think as well. Basically each judge can only pick 10 singers so they need to be selective. Sometimes they don’t turn round as they are expecting a person past their peak who is just not good enough and it turns out to be a fresh-faced 17-year-old with a unothadox singing style than could have been moulded into something amazing. The judge’s response of shock and genuine regret make them infinitely more likeable than Piers “Shit grin” Morgan and his rag-tag bunch.
I applaud the BBC. The show is by no means perfect and I’m definitely not won over to the “reality TV’s Ok” side. There are still the tedious back stories but they don’t go on for to long. The show also has the “Talent power house” than is Reggie Yates, a man who should be on TV as little as is possible to stop his ego from engulfing western Europe. But what the BBC has done is to take all the crap out and replaced it with actual Talent. Everyone can sing and all the judges genuinely want to win and have a right go at it. The feedback given (Will.I.am excluded) tends to be sound and will actually help the singers progress.
It’s a good (stolen) concept and has been executed well, which for the BBC on a Saturday night reality show has been a long time coming.
Till next time,
Liquid Rooms Edinburgh, 28/03/12. Support – Tall Ships
So my very social week was rounded off by heading to my first gig since seeing Modest Mouse about a year ago. Sad as it is but most of the bands I like don’t head to Edinburgh that often. This paired with the fact that as I become older and more of a recluse I am less inclined to travel to see a band. So I was delighted when buying tickets for next months Graham Coxon gig to see that Los Campesinos! were playing. Ten bucks (well 12.63 or what ever the “Booking fee” for buying a ticket over a shop counter is) to see one of my favourite bands looked like a dam good deal.
Another reason I fancied this gig was that I have never seen them play coupled with the shocking fact that I have yet to listen to their new album which came out late last year. I decided not to listen to any of the new songs once I bought the ticket and wait to catch them live. I thought it would be an odd experience to know every word of 2/3’s of the songs and have no clue about the other 1/3. Think about how often this kind of opportunity occurs? So on Wednesday evening I left for the Liquid Rooms with a feeling of anticipation as well as the usual pre gig feelings of excitement and a dread of disappointment since it was my first time seeing them (Sometimes bands disappoint, it happens).
I have been to the Liquid Rooms once before when I went to see The Hot Hot Heat about 7 years ago. I remembered the balconied and bar at the back but I remembered the venue being much larger. This has happened to me before with the Garage in Glasgow. I went when I was 15 to see CKY, a gig I can remember really clearly. Yet when I returned early last year to see the Wildhearts the place seemed to be about a quarter of the size I expected. Must be a visual spacial defect of getting older!
Anyway, onto the gig itself.
I got there about ten minutes before the support band. Pretty chuffed with my timing I looked around and found a nice wee space next to a pillar.I then settled in to watch Tall Ships. Tall Ships are a three piece band where both the bassist and guitarist use keyboards and effects to beef up their sound to build up their songs into epic crescendos of noise before breaking down to start the process again. The guitarist used a loop peddle more than any one else I have seen using one. Rather than using it as a gimmick or a bit of fun, it was used in every song. This obviously gives the songs layered complexity but it did mean that during the build up each layer needed to be recorded before everything really kicks off. This can take a while but is all held together with some excellent technical drumming which without over complicating things kept these long build ups from becoming stale. I enjoyed what they did, they played a nice varied set and are comfortably up there with the best supports I have seen in the last few years. (http://www.myspace.com/tallshipsfromfalmouth)
So after a fair bit of set up it was time for the main event. It was time for the 7 piece “Los Campesinos!” to get the capacity crowed moving. Having never seen the band I was surprise by the amount of kit they had on stage. Other than your standard guitars, bass and drums there were two synths, a xylophone and a second drum rig, as well as a selection of odd bits a bobs scattered around. I’m not going to go into detail about every song and how they made me feel or even into great depth about what their music is like. I mean its easy enough to listen to yourselves and form your own opinions. You all ready know that I’m a fan and was not disappointed by their live performance, in fact I thought they were brilliant. All I will say is that their music ranges from all out bouncy-dance-along numbers to deeper almost poetic songs ( I would recommend listening the album “Romance Is Boring” to get a feel of this). What I will say is for a band with so many “moving” parts they kept everything really tight while not taking themselves too seriously on stage. They genuinely looked like they were having a great time and isn’t that why any band go out to tour? (I suppose it doesn’t seem that way all the time these days) to find out more head to – http://www.facebook.com/loscampesinos
Overall I thought this was a great gig. It is always a bit of a victory when the band play your favourite song near the end when you think they had maybe omitted it. (In this case a song called “The sea is a good place to think about the future) Also when a band are a good laugh between songs thats a bit of a bonus as well. So, if you had never heard of Los Campesinos then give them a try, and if you have then maybe give Tall Ships a go.
Till next time,
A look at bands which don’t have enough members to be called a four piece.
A couple of nights ago I was at a band practice and we were talking about trying to bulk up areas of our songs to give them more presence. While we were talking about this it got me thinking about how bands that have fewer members than our conventional four piece manage to make interesting and complex music with so little man power. So I started to think about bands I know that fit this description and how they hold up against bands with more members.
I suppose the obvious place to start is with a band that only have two members yet are one of the most famous bands of the last ten years. Have you worked out who it is yet? It’s the White Stripes (of course). A band with two members, Jack White on the guitar and vocals and Meg White on the drums. Together they had an unmistakable sound and probably one of the most played songs ever with “Seven Nation Army”. It could well be that only having two members resulted in their unique sound but it can not be said to be a flash-in-the-pan-one-off as they had six very well received albums before calling it a day in 2011.
So the White Stripes are definitely a success for the small band. One example of a hideous noise coming from two people is The Ting Tings. They certainly have a style but it seems to be play three notes over and over and shout something in an aggressive tesco till lassie voice. You may have gathered I am not a fan. I am also not a fan of the members of the band. Katie White the singer once said in an interview that if a song was not sounding finished in 20 minutes then it wasn’t going to work. It just seems to fit into the “I want it now!” mentality of people these days and goes against working for your art. So having just two people will give you a distinct sound. And from The Ting Tings we find out that in some cases this is a bad thing!
A band that I really like from my youth are a two piece called The Very. They were based in Edinburgh and had a pink penguin on their album cover. They again had a very distinct sound but rather than the complexity of Jack White or the screeching of The Ting Tings, The Very added over drive to their guitar and kept the songs high tempo. This kept the songs interesting and ensured that there was a depth to their sound. (http://www.myspace.com/yesyesthevery) I suppose that in a small band it is very important to ensure that there is a depth in the songs. If not the bands sound could be mistaken for acoustic and be accused of being limp and all of these bands have no danger of being accused of this.
The key is making people doubt that they are listening to a band with only two or three members. If the audience need to nip onto Wikipedia to check how many folk are in the band then they must be doing something right! A couple of example would be The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Muse and bands such as Blink 182 and Green Day.
I have a lot of respect for bands that have 3 or fewer members and still don’t understand how bands like The Very and The White Stripes manage to make the music that they do. Then again I have the same sentiment for The Ting Tings.
Till next time
Everyone Loves a List!
Ok so I am going to start putting the odd list on the page. This is for two reasons. One. It’s a really good and clear way to get an opinion over. Two. They are really easy to do especially after a few tins of Budweiser!
So this list is looking at my top 7 most underrated albums. What is an underrated album? Well I feel it is an album which was a bit over looked in its time and has not been given the longevity that it deserves. Some that were cut from my final selection were the likes of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Future King of Spain’s both self titled albums and Billy Talent first album (also self titled). So let’s get down to the list eh!
7. Something Corporate – North
This is one of the most beautiful albums I own. It is a collection of pop punk love songs which always leave me with a little lump in my throat. Songs such as “Ruthless” and album opener “As You Sleep” pack a punch while still remaining a dazzling mixture of piano, pop punk and love song. I can’t believe that so few people I know have even heard of Something Corporate never mind this album. I believe this is an album that would have universal appeal to all people of all tastes. If I had to pick a favourite song it would be she paints me blue. It keeps true to the above ingredients but has amazing lyrics. http://www.youtube.com/watchv=a0J05E_Rig0&feature=related
6. Electric Six – Fire
This album is well-known for the song “Gay Bar” everyone knows it and its a bit of a novelty classic. Also well-known songs are “Danger! High Voltage” and “Naked Picture of your Mother”. So straight off there are 3 of the most well-known songs of recent alternative music history, yet in my experience when you mention the whole body of work people will scoff. These three songs are great but the rest of the album is also a joy to listen to. Clever, tongue in cheek in places and a really good riff driven album. Examples of great songs are “Nuclear War on the Dance Floor” and “Dance Commander”. My favourite song is maybe the most straight-laced on the album, the song that closes the album “Synthesizer” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnsq9XtpmEk
5. Hot Hot Heat – Make up the Breakdown
This was one of my most played albums while growing up and had the ultimate joy of seeing the lead singer being refused into his own gig for being under age when they played at the Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh (many, many years ago!). This album again like the last has a couple of recognisable songs that would make you say “oh, eh, thats….eh….the heat band thing”. You kinda remember but are not 100%. But I believe songs such as “No, Not Now” and “Bandages” deserve the fame that songs like “Roll With It” and “Sex on Fire” get on the radio these days. Straight up, they are classic songs. The rest of the album is of a similar level for me, with other stand out tracks being “Oh God Damit” and “Talk To Me, Dance With Me” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-Rmz-nOJn4&ob=av3e
4. Alkaline Trio – From Here To Infirmary
This album is one that I know a lot of people like songs from but the real beauty of this album is when you listen to if from start to finish. There is not a single song on this album which I dislike. The reason it is on this list is it was slated by alternative music critics for not being “hard” enough, losing the bands edge and contained too much “filler”. I disagree. I think that every song on th is worthy to be released on its own accord but when listened to in order each song complements the one before and the album has an amazing flow that I have not heard to many times in my vast album listening experience! The best tracks if I had to pick a few would be “Mr Chainsaw”, “Armageddon” and “Private eye”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WASt9E5slM0
3. The Hives – Your New Favourite Band
Funny when an album name is right. The story behind this album a simple one. The CD was one near the bottom of my CD collection for years. It came time to have a clear out and it was 50-50 for this album. I hadn’t listened to it for years and remembered it being ok. I liked Hives songs when they came on in clubs or on the radio but I couldn’t say I was a fan. So I popped in the album to give it a chance and fell in love with it. Its fast paced, intricate yet simple in its presentation. I think maybe The Hives are a band you grow into. I would say they are in my top 3 bands now, which is not bad for a band I almost literally discarded! So I Underrated this album and I think a lot of other people do to. This and “Tyrannosaurus Hives” are incredibly underrated. Best songs? “Supply and Demand”, “Die, All Right!” and “Hate to Say I Told You So”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCQ7VLoY7bQ
2. The National – Alligator
This is the Third offering from New York band The National. I think the post-punk alternative melodies of The National maybe one of the most under rated bands of modern times. My main reason for saying this when comparing this album to the last two offerings from the Kings Of Leon (in my eyes two of the most overrated albums ever). What the Kings of Leon try to do is make this album. The lyrics are mesmerizing, Matt Berninger’s baritone singing is hypnotic and the songs flow effortlessly over the whole album. This album also works as background music, study music or the focus of listening. It works on so many levels. Best tracks? “Secrete Meeting” is very good but my Favourite song is “Looking for Astronauts” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdS7ETy2fww
1. Brand New – Deja Entendu
Well. This is my number one most underrated album that I own. If you haven’t listened to this album you should make this a musical priority. The album is a dark angst riddled post pop-punk smorgasbord of total tunes. I suppose it would even fall into the realms of Emo but this album was kicking about before the major Emo explosion that erupted with MCR’s “Black Parade”. The strengths of this album are its phenomenal lyrics and bass lines which are played in an off tune Drop D which make the hole album feel a little deeper and in places a little darker. A stand out track would be “The Boy Who Block His Own Shot” which includes the lyric “You are the smell before rain, you are the blood in my vanes”. The best known track is probably the build up strong “Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades” which is an epic wee tune and has a great video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKDc2lkt_mE). Even the hidden track at the end which is a kind of sea shanty fits into the feel of the album. Everyone should own this album and listen to it at least once a month. Its brilliance.
So there’s my first list. It took a bit longer than I thought it would and was a bit trickier than I had hoped but I didn’t want to sound like I was gushing over any of the albums. I genuinely believe that all of the albums above are worthy of any CD collection and if you haven’t heard any of them I would hope you would love at least one of the above.
Let me know what you think.
Till next time