Wednesday, December 26, 2007

That was the year that was

Okay, year in reviews are kind of obligatory in the musical world. This year I read the OMM and The Wire and realised how hopeless and useless these kind of thing are. Pointing out overlooked gems only works if you have built up some kind of relationship with the reader over the previous year and this year no-one had so I was skeptical of what unknown quantities were chosen over music I had heard.

I think that there can be little doubt that one of the most outstanding albums of the year was Radiohead's In Rainbows. It managed to blend their experimental and conventionally rocky side into a more coherent whole. Some people said it was a retreat from the Kid A era but I think they are wrong, Kid A was exciting and unconventional but In Rainbows is holisitic rather than simply ditching everything done to date.

However personally I was suprised to find myself returning again and again to the math techno of Calabi Yau Space by Dopplereffekt. I liked their previous albums but would have to say they hardly kept me coming back for more. Calabi Yau Space has never left my MP3 player this year and has been a welcome listen in all kinds of situations.

Live the experience I look back on most fondly was watching Jeffery Lewis perform an acoustic version of one of his Crass covers. Lewis is whimsical nu-folker who has some funny kitschy songs but it was a strong of genius to see that aggressive anarchist punk lyrics would more be more plantive within a twee pop setting.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Sellaband and Co.

Julia Marcell is a female singer-songwriter, something that Sellaband isn't necessarily short of. However she is the real deal and has shot through to the 50K in no time at all. Having ignored her initially one listen made me realise I was up my own arse about it and that I needed to buy some parts. I am actually looking forward to her album.

However if you want to support some not so attractive but musically very worthy people then check out my list or simple look at this band, they're great!

Anyway there was a piece in Guardian Money reviewing the new set of websites that aim to link fans with money with bands wanting money. They mentioned Trail who I also thing should record an album (they are a bit mainstream but they are still better than some crap acts that actually have deals like Morning Runner) so hopefully there will be a little jump in parts purchased.

On the back of the article I tried SlicethePie which I found incredibly convoluted. I tried scouting but after acerbically reviewing two fucking awful RnB acts I realised that apart from being incredibly rude to musicians there was no point to the experience for me. There is no community interaction and the whole investment thing basically buys a CD and a weird spread betting-style purchase. The whole thing felt really negative instead of being about letting people connect to music they might actually like.

Amazing Tunes on the other hand seems to work. Listen to a track, like it, buy it DRM free for a fair price. Isn't that what this whole idea is meant to be about?

Bleep was robbed

iTunes won the best online music store at the BT awards. Bleep deservedly won last year and while they may not have been expected to win this year I cannot believe that iTunes got the prize instead. Have people actually used different music stores? iTunes is useless without it's own app, that would disqualify it immediately in my opinion.

iTunes winning this award is like announcing that beige was the most exciting colour of the year.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster: In the Garden

This is an awesome piece of gothic rock from a band I previously associated with limp-wristed indie fare. The EP costs £9 from HMV and while that is a lot for just one track it is actually a generous double cd affair with a live recording on the second disk. You can also get a digital download of the track via the band's website (although I had never heard of the site involved).

Thank you 6 Music for alerting me to this rocking track.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Roisin Murphy Video

I've just spotted this YouTube version of Roisin Murphy's (the lead singer of Moloko) new single, Overpowered, and I think it's a bit of a gem. The track is quite good but the trip home across London is one I recognise, lots to wryly smile about. Of course I tend not to have a stage costume when I'm heading home but maybe that's just me being unimaginative.

And on a related note have a look at this mashup (it pains me to use the word, mind) which while using two similar tunes is really very good and gains bonus points for noting the similarities in the videos.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Like all muso Guardianistas I read the story about Sellaband and immediately jumped over to have a look at the bands I could buy part of. The first disappointment is that all the bands who are gaining a lot of traction are really incredibly dull. If Sellaband intends to be something of a focus group on music then it's a depressing outcome with folky, souly, lumpen pub rock being the main recipients of most peoples money.

I chose some electronica bollocks which I think is good but to which I am rather in the minority at the moment. When it works the system seems good, you get to listen to some interesting music and you can put a stake in the ground and say "this would be even better with some professional production". However overall the experience is a bit depressing, the musical taste seems conservative and although 5000 people does not sound a lot it is probably a lot more sales than most bands make. A CDR release probably doesn' t go above 500 copies. There also a lot of intrusive advertising on the site and some of the flash items on the jukebox player actually end up showing you an advert rather than having any function.

On the plus side though there are some truly dreadful promotional pictures on the band pages. I find it hard to understand the logic of these. You are going to display a vision of your band to potentially thousands of people so you put your dad in the picture, you can't persuade the drummer to take his glasses off and drop the pony tail for five minutes or you mistakenly think that people desperately miss Venom.

Sellaband probably just shows why most bands can't get a record deal but I do hope that it leads to something interesting for decent independent artists.

The Enemy

I had the The Enemy inflicted on me when I went to see the Manics at the Forum the other week. The Enemy are an exercise in amplified tedium and the only pleasure in watching them was the vague hope that they might stop and leave the stage and the end of the song. I'm only really mentioning this because they are meant to be playing another show at the Astoria (which is apparently going to be demolished as part of Crossrail/London Olympics 2012).

Do yourself a favour, stay away.