Saturday, 18 August 2012

The dark side of love

I think it would be best if you got the playlist first

so here

The dark side of love

and then you can listen to it whilst I rant. (for those of you not on Spotify there is the list of songs at the end)

So, as promised on my post about cool love songs there are also the songs written about love lost or never found. There are so many songs about this it is ridiculous. In fact I would hesitate to guess that if you took the songs about love, the songs about love lost and the songs about wanting to get together, then you would be left with almost nothing, maybe some songs about cars ,surfing and Dungeons and Dragons type stuff. If you exclude the Beach Boys and Dio then that is about it.

Even the car songs, are about love, not a natural love in the way you and I understand it , but a weird strange love between man and a car. Strange that there are no songs about losing a car. . . but I guess I haven't been everywhere in the musical universe just yet. If you know a song about the love lost for a car please let me know, I am now interested in a strange sort of way.

Car love aside, the best songs are about love lost. A bold statement to be sure, but I defy you , challenge you to a duel, to prove me wrong. It has to do with artist inspiration. When people are feeling truly horrible, they produce brilliance. I guess it has something to do with understanding the feelings as they are so intense and then writing from what is left of their poor broken hearts. People tend to dwell more on negative emotions than on positive ones, well artistic types do. It makes for better production.

So, how then to define what is a cool song about such a bleak topic as love lost? I guess a cool song must fulfill the idea of being a good song to start with. it must get across what the writer is trying to depict with the emotion that is going through them.

There is no doubt that some people are far better at this than others. My list of favourite songs, yes there is a list, don't tell me you don't have a mental one as well because I will not believe you, you lie and I am not crazy, includes many of these artists. Immeadiate thoughts go to The Cure, Counting Crows, Beach Boys, Smashing Pumpkins Nickleback, The Church, Foo Fighters, Zeppelin, Radiohead etc

What you do find though is that some people have a surprising side when it comes to this and although their music isn't generally what you would put into this type of category , they have come up with a moment of brilliance that conveys it. Take Pearl Jam and Black, or Slipknot and Snuff. Just surprising, not that they have the same issues that other artists do, but that amongst all the other stuff they produce they have a moment that comes into this category and is so sharp that it could take your breath away.

For others it is perhaps their finest moment. I have written before about Fuzzy by Grant lee Buffalo, Ripple by The Church, Low by Cracker but also consider I Hope I Never by Split Endz. These songs rest on albums that apart for that song would have submerged under the murky waters of popular culture never to be seen again. They touch brilliance, albeit fleetingly , and so live with usforever.

I have always been fascinated by this type of music. I guess because when I was younger I didn't really have too many serious heart breaks and so I lived a little vicariously through the music. Plus I think it is just so much more interesting. Rather than people running about in the sunshine, holding hands and being spectacularly groovy, this is the music of rain and thunder. Being alone, cold and wet, and wondering if you will be there when the sun finally comes out again.

Far more interesting

It just is

Oh and I was joking about Nickleback - come on, seriously, Nickleback - you know nothing.

here is the list

Edge of the Deep Green Sea - The Cure
Ripple - The Church
Snuff - Slipknot
Fuzzy - Grant lee Buffalo
Apart - The Cure
Black - Pearl Jam
Low - Cracker
Miller's Angels - Counting Crows
Say It Aint So - Weezer
In a State - UNKLE
Head Over Heels - Tears for fears
Aftermath - Tahiti 80
I hope I never - Spit Endz
Tainted Love - Marilyn Manson
Soma - The Smashing Pumpkins
Nothing Compares To u - Sinead O'Conner
Babe I am gonna leave you - Led Zeppelin
Street Spirit - Radiohead
Exit Music - Radiohead
Losing my Religion - R.E.M.
The Bitter End - Placebo
Paradox - The Church
Message from Kathleen - Akaline trio
The Ocean - The Bravery
Somebody I used to Know - Gotye

Monday, 16 July 2012

Do we need a keyboardist part II

RIP Jon Lord

I wrote about the argument in metal about keyboards here

But here is the finest moment in keyboard metal

Thanks Jon.

Here is an actual factual article . .

Sunday, 15 July 2012

A cool love

So, this is the first of the new Music Ruminations blogs

Please bear with me a little bit because I am working this out as I go along, I assure you that it will be worth it. I have refrained from doing a spoken commentary on this blog because I think it needs to be one step at a time. Let's see how it goes.

The reason I am doing this is because it is interactive. If you suggest songs that you like on the playlist, probably via the comments here, then I can add them and we can start to generate playlists together. Then everyone is better off.

I wanted to talk about Love. There are a lot of songs about love. In fact I did some research, and using advanced techniques (stole the idea from someone else's work from google) and the most scientific answer I was able to get was that it is a stupid question because most songs are about love.

It has always been the way hasn't it? I think it would make a fairly understandable and logical argument to suggest that song, or musical expression has actually evolved from this as the primary purpose. Everything that came after through song is perhaps a bi-product. A lucky bonus. or maybe, songs about lost love were the driver. That angst causing people to want to express it in a more eloquent fashion than just letting out a primal scream at the sky and walking away and kicking a dodo or something -I am sure this is perhaps why the Dodo is not with us, primary cause of extinction was kicking through unrequited love, rather than them just being tasty, they were in the wrong place any way.

The issue, which you cool music hipsters with your finger on some sort of pulse already know is that most of the songs are rubbish. They suck, they mean nothing in real terms to us. We are too cool for that. But then some cool people put out love songs don't they.

That is where I want to go today, cool people writing about cool love, in a cool way. Now cool is the word I use, perhaps you have a different word, groovy, awesome, I don't know, but substitute it in and you will get the idea.

 A cool love

Click on thelink for the playlist

The playlist starts with two mellow classics. The unique Stevie Wonder, and the peerless Roberta Flack. Stevie Wonder has such a complex and varied catalogue that it is taking years to appreciate it all. Sunshine of My Life is not a song I would usually search out and put on. But listening to it today, it has a joy and an energy that is infectious. Roberta Flack, is a different kind of cool. A very quiet mellow, but in the same way intense, song about another person. A bit mushy perhaps, I get that, but what a voice.

I then branch out into three upbeat songs about love, by very cool bands. Everlong by the Foo Fighters, one of my favourite songs, Ever Fallen in Love by the Buzzcocks, obvious, and Another World, Another Planet by The Only Ones which is more obscure, but a great song and for some reason I always put those last  two songs together in my mind. I know the last song isn' t really about long lasting love, but it is still cool. Because I said so.

I am not going to go through the entire playlist, mainly because I got into this a little more than I expected and there are going to be a lot of songs when I am finished.

I have tried to group the songs into some sort of order and general theme. There is some flow I hope.

Some of the songs you may agree with, some probably not, some may make you snicker and wonder what you are doing here . . Regardless, listen, suggest, let's get this done and then the next one is about unrequited love, the yang for the ying.. . .

Thanks guys

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Your cheating heart

So I have been away for a while, did you miss me?

I hope not because I didn't miss you. In fact I am not sure I even like you anymore. .

No no, I am only joking, but you could do a lot better than me, than this blog. There are lots of other blogs out there, really interesting ones

I guess what I am actually trying to say dear reader is that I have been seeing someone else. Yes, younger, yes, exciting. Yes I know them from work. Name,? I don't see why a name is important, but yes you have probably heard it.

OK it's Spotify.

Yes, I have been lost for the last month or more in Spotify. It is why I haven't written. Why I haven't been in touch at all, why I may have forgotten an important event or two. On that note I missed the death of Disco. Donna Summer and Andy Gibb have both passed away. A sad day for Disco.

I have always liked that track. Mainly because it is basically the first dance track as we know it.

The Bee Gee's. Never really got into them. As you can imagine, when I started getting into music in the early 80s Disco was properly dead. The Bee Gees never really got onto my radar at the time and as such, never really did. Condolences to those who loved them however.

What do you mean I am changing the subject? Oh Spotify? yes, OK.

I have got into Spotify in a massive way. Mainly because I got an app for it called ' share my playlists' and the Last FM app. Together these have opened up a world that I knew was there but never properly explored. Yes, this is the next generation of music listening.

As I wrote in this post, I have followed the musical trends in terms of formats. Records, tapes, CDs, digital music. So we evolved, in true Darwin style, from format to format, getting better sound quality (less scratchy, not warmer for those vinyl fans) , getting more compact and portable, until we get to the ability to have everything you have ever listened to on your PC and a bit of that on a portable music device.

So what does Spotify offer? What can it possibly have that I can't already have? It offers other peoples music. You do not have to buy it, but you can listen to it. So if you like it and then buy it if you want to.

So, you can search and it gives up results you can then explore. It doesn't have everything you ever heard of on it. Really it isn't wiki- music- pedia at all. I can stump it quite easily. I am sure you with your knowledge would be a bit disappointed.

However, and this is the why my head has been turned. With Share my playlist, other people put a selection of tracks together in a so called 'playlist' post it to the app and then you can subscribe to it. Listen to it. This is like having a friend come around and play you tracks by genre.

But, and this is where it becomes irresistible. . . you can play a song on one of the playlists, go to the last FM app and it will generate a playlist of similar songs that are in the Last FM song library. Ones you may not even have known existed.

So , So cool.

As you can imagine . . I have been there for a while and the romance is still and fresh and it makes me feel alive again . . Ok, bollocks aside. It is cool. it is free, and there is a world of music out there.

I have not got to the next stage yet, where you download the playlists to a portable music player as my Ipod is not configured and I do not want to lose everything, which I would if I let Spotify take that over. But i can't do that, because that is my music history for the past few years. Although I want to move on, I do not want to forget about the past. So I need to get another Music player.

I am very open to recommendations on this one. Ipod? or something else? Not a smartphone. Your help is appreciated.

So potentially, this is the last blog of this style. I am looking into how I can link in Playlists and songs on Spotify. I am even toying with the idea of becoming completely multi media and speaking to you directly. Save you the trouble of reading.

I will see, but big changes afoot, two reasons. One to keep you and me interested and two, to boost my pityful readership. Which is my own fault because I stopped advertising and stopped writing.

Anyway, this isn't the end , it is just the end of the beginning.

Love this song for some stupid reason.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Summer playlist

Another quick playlist of songs for summer, in celebration of seeing the sun for the first time in 6 weeks in the UK.

Is there anything better than a summers day, BBQ going, cool drink, or nice glass of wine in hand , cool people around you, and a selection of great summery tunes. I have picked these ones because I like them in this situation. If you disagree, you have to tell me. .

In no particular order

Horse with No name by America

1979 by the Smashing pumpkins

Comfortably numb by Pink Floyd

Then She did by Janes Addiction

Ramble on by Led Zeppelin

Take it easy by The Eagles

Drive by Incubus

I just Wanna see by Smashmouth (vastly underrated band by the way)

Everybody talks by the Neon Trees

Someone I used to know by Gotye

As I said, they are just some summer type songs that I do enjoy listening to.

What would you add to the list?

Sunday, 6 May 2012

A new music playlist

Time for something new

I am not going into huge detail , just a list of songs from the past couple of years that I think works well

Lonely Boy                          The Black Keys          El Camino
Down with the trumpets        Rizzle Kicks                Stereo Typical
Pumped up Kicks                 Foster the people        Torches
Everybody Talks                   Neon Trees                 Picture Show
2024                                    Cage The Elephant      Thank you Happy Birthday
Somebody I used to Know   Gotye                          Making Mirrors
Tokyo (vampires&Wolves)    The Wombats          The Wombats Proudly present
Very Busy People                  The Limousines           Get Sharp
King of my World                  Ftaang                        King of my World

There is some good new music. There really is.

Appreciate any tips on new music, released 2011+ that you are into at the moment


Saturday, 28 April 2012

Suicide is painless. . . reflection

There is a lot, a lot, of published material out there about learning to know yourself. In some cases this is about suppressing yourself and becoming something that you think is better, Much of the rest of it is about coming to some sort of acceptance about yourself and the way you react to things.

In the post about my friend's suicide I was trying to express what I was going through and in some way trying to understand it all. This friend wasn't the first person I have known well who has died, but the act of suicide of a formally close friend took me by surprise. By some of the reactions I got from other friends, I certainly wasn't the only one shocked by the whole event.

I though in the interest of completeness, and to be honest, trying to get further along with an understanding of myself,  make no real apologies for the fact that, at times, this blog serves as an outlet for some of my angst and I guess in that way serves as a silent listening post. You know, a perfect way to get things off my chest, and not have to listen to someone else try to bend it into their universe of understanding.

So where am I?

I think about it quite a lot. I will be honest, a tiny bit of the sting has gone from thinking about it. It occurs to me to think about it when I see things that remind me of my friend. I do not mean this in the way that, this was his, or that is where we hung out, because I do not have to deal with that. I hadn't seen him in a while as I explained in the first post. So there isn't that reminder in my face. I imagine that for his widow and parents , that must be very difficult. It must also hinder the process of moving forward. I guess it is far too early to suggest moving forward at the moment.

Have I moved forward? A bit yes. After the shock of the event and the immediate aftermath, you do tend to fall back onto your core understanding of the universe. I understand that everyone dies. Everyone you know will be dead given enough time. I guess that fundamental truth makes it harder for us all to understand suicide. If the inevitable is coming, why jump through the door when you don't have to?

That to me is the key. It is a choice, a choice that in reality we all are making each time we check before we cross the road. Before we wait for the train to arrive rather than jumping on the tracks. As it is a choice, why did he choose that? So I haven't moved that far forward. I am still wondering why.

As before, it is not why as in trying to understand what the external forces at play were. Much more trying to understand the internal workings of what makes a person, any person, think that this is the best option to take at that point of time. I still just don't get it. The Ghost In My Shell does not entertain these possibilities. Which means what exactly? I guess it means that whilst I understand that the options are there , I do not consider it to be a path I would take.

Going back to one of the statements I made above, about the sting going out of the memory process, this is because some of the anger at him has subsided. I am still pissed that he didn't reach out to someone, anyone, me, but with time anger should fade with reflection. I would like to give him a shake, tell him to snap out of it and have a drink.

I am not trying to belittle mental illness. Certainly not trying to say that a simple shake and a beer would have cured , no 'cured' is the wrong word, but I am not sure what the right word is. I am trying to say that I realise it is far more complex than anything simple could help to rectify. Rectify, I think that is the word I am looking for. To change the situation from one where he decided to hang himself, to one where he didn't.

That is however the big thing about it all isn't it? I can't do that anymore, because he is dead. Another fundamental truth is that dead people do not come back to life. So as the cliche holds true, there is regret. Regret, mixed into everything.

I would have just liked to catch up.

Have I learnt more about myself? yes I have. I guess in my journey that will help me a bit. Doesn't make this suck any less though.

A word on the music in the post, because although the post isn't about music, it is there for background. The first song is Unsung by helmet. It was chosen because it is a reaction to a friend's suicide. The second song is Aphex Twin and Parallel lines. It was chosen because I think it represents a dystopia. The final song(s) is a beautiful place in the country by Boards of Canada. I chose it because it somehow reminds me of summers spent at the beach with my mate, or at least a rose tinted view of the past.

Friday, 27 April 2012

WTF is going on there? II

I love messed up videos. There is something very cool about the whole visual media that some people just love to mess with.

Look at this.

Now that is a guy

From Sweden.

He is singing in Japanese, very well in fact. I would like to make it clear, no issues what-so-ever with the gender bending thing. But it is a little bit of a shock when he starts to sing. It is definitely a guys voice. Pretty good on guitar. I mean for a Swedish guy dressed as a Japanese girl

on a similar but different vein, there is of course the very famous video by Aphex Twin

Yes, that is messed up also.

But a video doesn't have to have a big budget to achieve the desired weirdness

I love the fact that it is dubbed badly, sung badly, and the dancing is just fantastic. Here is their second video. Seems it may have been done on the same day, in the same place

Not all videos that are classified as weird are actually bad. I am not really a fan of this song, but I love the video for some reason

I guess I just miss Japan a bit.

Ok one final one to show that not all strange stuff actually comes from Asia . .

Ok, the weird stuff that comes from other parts of the world is not nearly as funny.

There is nothing more to this post than having a bit of a laugh.

It is Friday, so cheer up. . .

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Guns and Roses part II Hall of Fame

Throughout this blog I have made ample reference to a band that did a large amount to change some of my perceptions about music, The Mighty Guns and Roses. I even dedicated an entire post to them here. Not a great post, but it does get across the idea of the effect they had on me.

So, as you may or may not have heard or seen, the mighty gunner's are back in the news. They are going to be inducted to the Rock and Roll hall of fame. I am not sure how I feel about this in general. I mean, does being inducted into something like this really mean anything? Some of the people in it I really have to question. U2 are in it, and you know my feelings about them, if not, have some fun with this.

I sit in a similar quandary when thinking about the Grammy's. How much do I really care? I did some research (wikipedia, that counts right?) and most of the people inducted I do not really have an issue with. However, if a band are not inducted do I care that much? No of course not. Do I especially like them if they are? No of course not. ABBA are in there and Aerosmith are not. That seems odd doesn't it?

Regardless of my ambivalence to the actual inductees and the whole process of selection, still upset that U2 are there, what has come to light is that the front man of Guns and Roses has publicly said he does not want to be inducted and does not want to be inducted in absentia either. His statement on that part reads like this:

"I strongly request that I not be inducted in absentia and please know that no one is authorised nor may anyone be permitted to accept any induction for me or speak on my behalf," Rose wrote. "Neither former members, label representatives nor the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should imply whether directly, indirectly or by omission that I am included in any purported induction of 'Guns N' Roses"

Now, despite my 15-year-old fantasies that I would now be life long friends with the guys in the band, I am not really close enough to the situation to be able to make a comment on anything else other than what I have read in the press.

So sorry, no music for you, here is something from Appetite as a reminder

What the press have said is that there is still a lot of bad blood between the members being inducted. The members being inducted are as follows Steve Adler, Duff McKagen, Dizzy Reed, Axl Rose, Slash , Matt Sorum and Izzy Stradlin. Now, the clued up among you will note that that line up includes two drummers and two rhythm guitarists. OK, that is kinda of the way it works with Guns and Roses. As I said in my previous post on them, they had some line up changes between their 1st and the 3rd and 4th album releases.

I am alright with Matt Surom and Dizzy Reed being included. It is not the original five members and therefore the creators of Appetite for Destruction. But that is alright. They were a part of this.

I am sure they will be pleased to hear I am OK with it. Anyway, the press is reporting that because people have apparently said that the original band may reform, Axl has decided that he is not getting enough respect and that until everyone who has said this stands up and admits they made it up, there is no chance of a meeting, let alone the band reforming.

OK, this is clearly linked to the fact that the latest incarnation of the band is not receiving the same level of respect that the original, or mkII band did. You know why Axl? Cause they are not as good. There, I said it. Everyone has been thinking it, and apart from a google search that yielded around 4 million hits on why the album Chinese Democracy sucks , no one was prepared to say it.

So jokes aside, if it is obvious to everyone in the world that the band has passed its peak, and let me be very clear here , I am in no way saying the members have passede their peak, because the stuff that Slash and Duff are putting out rocks and is cool and while it may not have the original impact is still brilliant, as a band Guns and Roses are over.

That is why they are being inducted! Axl, seriously , stop being a douche and get over this. If the band were to reunite, for one or maybe two world tours, I would go. I would go to the States to Idaho, sorry people in Idaho but I am sure you know why I said this, if that was where I could get a ticket to see them. It would be hard to even get a ticket there. Because everyone would want to go. That is because the band, the original or mkII band are still one of the coolest bands there is.

So, despite my ramblings what I wanted to say is , yay to Guns and Roses being inducted, but boo to Axl for not being there. Seriously, just do three songs with the original members. I would vote for , Sweet Child of Mine, Rocket Queen and Civil War. (cast your votes in the comments section please). Just because no one would expect it.


Sunday, 8 April 2012

Life's full of disappointments

It has to be hard to make it into the public consciousness as a band. You have to be good, speak to people, and even then you may go unnoticed because of timing. I think it is because of this that bands are very aware of promotion and do their best to get themselves out there. They build up their own mythology and effectively sell parts of themselves to the public in return for attention.

There are very few bands over the last 50 years who have done this better than The Doors. I really like some of The Doors music. I think I have said before that I bought into the Jim Morrison mythology at a hedonistic part of my life. I have grown out of that now, but the music remains and I do look forward to hearing some of their music from time to time. It isn't music I have left behind 

Some time ago I watched a documentary on the making of their first self-titled album. I wrote at the time how much I had my eyes re-opened to the music. Two of my heros, Henry Rollins and Perry Farrell, appeared on the documentary and this only re-affirmed some of the ideas that had been filed away in the back of my mind about the quality of The Doors music.

So you can imagine how much I jumped for joy, OK, so I am not really a jumper when joy hits, I was mildly excited, when I saw on one of the TV channels here that they were going to show a Classic album series doing one of my favourite albums, LA Woman.

Cool, an in-depth look at the way the album was made.

Ah  . . . no. It was an hour long delve into the myth of Morrison and the way the Doors stood for counter culture - what people, who very clearly had too much time to think about it, thought each song's symbolism was to Morrison.

Extremely dull.

It is not that I do not get the whole myth thing. But it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Actually with a huge bucket of salt. Before this gets into a rant on a level with this great one from Amadeus in Music by Day , I want to remind of how good the music is.

Before we even start, let's not forget that this is a band that were hardly even talking to each other and had all of the issues that meant the only real reason they were still together was because they were too valuable to the record company to not keep them together. 

So the track listing is as follows

The Changeling
Love her Madly
Been down so long
Cars hiss by my window
LA Woman
Hyacinth House
Crawling King Snake
Riders on the Storm

That is a strong album. A very bluesy, dare I say West Coast American album. By that I mean, it taps into not just the blues, but the whole country and western ideas of loners and the shattering of dreams. Some self loathing, some reflection and some defiance.

The next thing I would say about the album is that what gives it strength it not the lyrics so much. Some of the imagery is great, but actually it is the other members of the band and their tightness as a band. The blues and swing feel to so many of the songs is just amazing. It is not just the title track that is so good at conveying the feel of the lyrics, Love Madly, Been Down so long etc etc . The musicianship is far better than the lyrics.

I am not going to go through every song and explain what is good about it, you may not exactly agree with me which is fine, but mainly because you should discover this album for yourself or re-discover it. See what you think.

What I will do though is talk about the two songs that ended the original vinyl sides on a record. I have the record for this album. I actually have it in most formats except 8 track. Perhaps I should get an 8 track of it to complete a collection? I think that would elevate it up the list of albums to a top ten position and I am not sure it belongs quite there . .

LA woman, what I love about LA Woman is the driving beat. The idea that the song is a somewhat out of control journey. A song full of hedonistic joy. Tinged with reflection and the idea of a night that wasn't really planned but kept on going and turned into something memorable. My point above, of the muscianship really comes through on this song. The lyrics are just about going out in a crazy town. The music though is something else. The tightness and the rhythm of the band is amazing.The song never lets up. I just adore the feeling of it. There is even a part of it when it slows down that reminds me of jumping in a taxi to go to the next spot in a night out. A slight downturn and then back into the craziness.

Riders on the Storm, is so different from LA Woman it is hard to think they are on the same album and that it still makes sense as an album. It is also a journey, but a completely different and far more introspective one. One much more orchestral in its composition and the effects of the double vocal track, with a very subtle drum beat give it an almost ghost-like quality. A much more solitary and isolated feel to it than LA Woman. It was the first Doors song I heard and it did lead me to explore them more, with pretty good results I have to say. I am never quite sure what the song actually says to me. I think I just enjoy the soundscape.

 A fitting and very triumphant way for a band to leave us.

Listen to the album (again) it is well worth it on a Sunday afternoon. Life may not always live up to expectations and the idea of the myth of Morrison is very true in this aspect, but look under the surface and the disappointment may be dispelled by the jewels you sometimes come across.