Wednesday, 19 November 2014

10 or so things I think I think

I have taken this concept from another writer but I thought it would be interesting place to start

So, things that I think I think.

1. All music fits into three categories in my mind
     a. great music by talented people
     b. music I don't really get but the people that do it are very talented
     c. the dirge and waste by a collection of people including singers, writers, producers that may be   talented individually but produce rubbish

2. There is no best song or best album ever. There are not even favourites over a reasonable length of time. It changes so much and so constantly that it has to be broken into categories over time periods.

3. What is modern R&B? to me R&B was fantastic songs by people with amazing voices and was similar but slightly different to the Motown pop sound. Modern R&B is just pop music , and not very good pop music either

4. Pop music isn't always bad. but mainly it is.

5. When Taylor Swift announced she was leaving Spotify it made me quite happy for some reason.

6. U2 managed to shoot themselves in the foot so badly over the Itunes thing that when I am having a bad moment I think about it to cheer myself up

7. As we go through a northern hemisphere Autumn, there is nothing better to listen to than prog metal or rock. It fits that mood extremely well and I am always amazed by how much of it I just don't know.

8. I still don't get Jazz, which seems incongruous with # 7, but actually it is completely valid because of brass instruments used far to much

9. In power metal there is only Iron Maiden, everyone else is only there to show us how good Maiden are.

10. I feel bad for KISS. They should have stopped when the 70s ended. When they released 'I was made for loving you' it was in effect the end of them anyway. When I started school, the KISS logo was carved into almost every desk that I can remember sitting at. We went to birthday parties in KISS make up a couple of times. They are terrible, sad parodies of band now and they should just stop. They should have just stopped 34 years ago.


I am listening to this quite a lot at the moment


As well as this (still)


Monday, 7 July 2014

1987 - and why U2 aren't very good

Hello dear reader, I hope that you are well, have you heard any good music recently? If you have I would also love to hear it. Please let me know what it is.

I was at a party recently, you are possibly stunned to hear that news, but yes it is true, and in an even larger surprise I was talking about music. Indeed, I was being brought to heel about my post 'I HATE U2'. I was even told that The Joshua Tree was the best album of the 80s.

Well, as you can imagine, I took a little umbrage to this , and given I have this medium to detail a response I thought I would use it.  So, was The Joshua Tree the best album of the 80s?

Well I thought about it, for all of roughly 2 seconds and came up with the somewhat surprising answers of - no it wasn't. It wasn't even the best album in the year it was released. 1987. Here right now, I am going to prove it. This is something I thought may have been ridiculously easy. You know what, it is. As it turns out, 1987 was a pretty good year for music. A pretty good year indeed. A lot of actually great albums were released. None of them by U fucking 2.

Let's start in indie and alternative.

There was Substance by New Order, that album has, True Faith, Bizarre love triangle and Blue Monday.


I know it is a compilation, but for me, that was one of the first times I had heard a lot of the songs on it, and frankly, they are simply fantastic. I run out of words when I talk about New Order. There is very little else out there like them. Except for this song that also came out in 1987


Given where I am able to go in this post, this is an odd place to start. However, the purpose of it is to show that , unlike U2, there is music that can be mainstream but still has a heart, some passion, something a little more real to it.

Anyway, this came out by the mighty Pixies from the album Come on Pilgrim


Sonic Youth also put out Sister. Quite a good album, a lot of peoples favorite album. One they were able to tour with simply playing the tracks from that album 20 years later.

1987 was also a great year for Hip Hop or as we called it back then, rap. A great year. We had the seminal album Paid in full by Eric B And Rakim.


Not to mention, Rhyme Pays by Ice T, which has the song that basically started gangsta rap


I have no idea if you like this genre or not. But the two tracks above had a huge impact on my world and even though the production on the ice T track lacks a little, it is a great track. i saw a great documentary called ' Something out of nothing' which was hosted by Ice -T. In oit, basically every rap artist from this time period says, well we heard 6 in the morning and we wanted to do something like that. We wanted to show that we could do it to. hard to think of a bigger accolade for people to pay.

Also in rap in 1987, you had Yo! bum rush the show, by Public Enemy, Bigger and Deffer by LL Cool J, how ya like me now by Kool Moe D, NWA and the posse by NWA

Mainly, for me, 1987 was the year when The Cult released Electric and Guns and Roses released Appetite for Destruction. I have written here, about how Appetite changed a lot of my perception of music. It still sounds good, to my ears it always will.



I love that song and love that album. I don't think I even need to go into why it is a better album than The Joshua Tree. you know it, I know it - everyone knows it, no need to say it.

I also love Electric by The Cult. For people of my age , i.e. a little, but not too much, too old, Electric is a milestone. A maker that is used to show our generational links. My favorite song on it is the following



Really though, it was a great time for Dark pop as I like to call it.

We had, Music for the masses by Depeche Mode, Strangeways here we come by The Smiths.



Kiss me kiss me kiss me by the Cure,



(1987 not a good year for Robert Smiths dancing however)

Document by REM.



These bands, along with new order and The Pet shop boys,  for me , define this unusual time in music better than anyone else. This was a time when it was still acceptable to have a synthesizer , but rather than just write a little ditty, to do something interesting with the noise it made. Put it to some real emotions and in a band like The Smiths, move to a place that can be described as almost an alternate universe of music. One where everything wasn't so great, but it was a lot more interesting.

You have enough music to listen to. But please remember that also this year, Prince released Sign o the Times, INXS released Kick, Dinosaur jr released You're living all over me and of course Diesel and Dust by Midnight oil.here is my favourite track from that album.



I feel I have given you a huge amount of examples of the good music that was around in this year. It is true that many of the above albums are not considered to be the best of the artists. Many went on to better things and many had better things behind them . I have looked at a number of the Top ten albums of the year and see that The Joshua Tree makes most of the main stream lists. None of the non mainstream ones though. Why? Well if I look at the track listing I get the following songs on the first side.

Where the streets have no name
I still haven't found what I am looking for
with or without you
Bullet the blue sky
running to stand still

people only ever listen to this side. they never listen to the next tracks

red hill mining town
in Gods country
trip through your wires
one tree hill
exit
Mothers of the disappeared.

Why do people like the first 5 tracks so much? I have genuinely given this a lot of thought and have even listened to them again in order to write this piece. This was not an easy thing for me to do and will no doubt now mess up my Google history, giving me options that will probably be associated with the masses. The things I do for you.

I think what appeals to people is two fold. Firstly, the lyrics are very basic and repeated endlessly. However, not necessarily repeated in order and as such create the impression that more is being said than it actually is. Listen to Where the streets have no name, 'love turns to rust' and 'blown by the wind' come up about 10 times each. The lyrics are also what I would call pseudo epic. What I mean by this is that they elongate the vowel sounds and as such make them better for arena type singing (or more likely, drunken BBQ). The lyrics are also , as I have described before, fortune cookie philosophy. ' I still haven't found what I am looking for' relates to anyone in a sentimental mood. Very few people don't have something they feel this about. With or without is just about difficult periods of relationships. Everyone has that and he is not saying anything, but it could apply to everyone. Like a fortune teller saying, I see you have had some difficulties before. It means nothing, he isn't talking about himself, rather trying to appeal to you.

Secondly, the music itself is very straightforward. It has a simple four four beat drum with a similar base line. With the base being played a lot of the time on the partial off beat of the drum. The overlay for the guitars is done at the reasonably standard, two to three octaves higher, and while played in a four four blues beat, is done on every four bar with repetitive notes. First done about 200 or so years ago, it is very effective at creating atmosphere. (the effect, obviously not the four four blues beat). The songs generally have an increase in intensity, rather than speed, and then tail away towards the end. Meaning that the music and lyrics don't change, but they play or singer louder. Also there is a lot of doubling up of the recording of the instruments to give a fuller sound. This is not criticism as most bands do it. Just an explanation.

This album really made U2 a big name in the US . it is easy to see why given all of the US imagery involved in it. There is nothing wrong with this, they aren't exactly hiding it by calling the album Joshua Tree are they? One wonders where this comes from though, up until this point they were a very Irish band, almost a political band in many of their songs which can be , very loosely , claimed to be protest songs. I am cynical about this mainly because it is a remarkably obvious ploy for album sales. 

So what does this all mean? Well, it means the songs are sentimental, easy to sing along to, and basic in their construction. Occupying a place that allows people to listen without really being challenged.

This is acknowledged as the bands high point. As you can see from the above, their high point doesn't even really compare with the secondary or maybe tertiary works of other bands. I know that my opinion of this will not make any difference to you putting it on at 11:30 after a few drinks and singing along.

That's Ok, I know I am right.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Advertising - again

Whilst in the original Advertising post I thought a company used a fantastic song and made you want to listen to it every time you heard it.

Sometimes companies get it so wrong.

If you can bear it, take the time to listen to this monstrosity



Oh Axl, why? Why would you not only sell the song, but also appear in the ad that ruins it?

Why Axl why?

Monday, 26 May 2014

Advertising

Currently in the uk the following ad is being aired on cable TV.


Now usually I am not really a fan of people appropriating great music in order to sell the latest what-ever-it-may-be.

But, this is The Pixies. Formally the most under-rated band ever. Formally? well yes because in the 90s they were very under appreciated and seemed to be destined to be a band that people often referred to , but they never really made it big. Then they reformed for a few gigs and every Pixies fan came out of the woodwork and told everyone how cool they were and they became huge.

So much so that they have recently put out a new album. Indy Cindy. it is good and well worth a listen.

It is perhaps not as good as this


You don't think the Pixies were important?

Watch this


I can't put it any better than that, so I will not try and subsequently ruin it.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

R.I.P. Frankie Knuckles

Frankie Knuckles - the Godfather of house music, was announced dead yesterday.





This song The Whistle Song was and will remain one of my favorite songs


Such a lovely feel and pace to it.

take it easy in the chill out room Frankie.



Thursday, 20 March 2014

I love \m/ \m/

I love 'Metal'.

I always have. I have hesitated to write about it more often because the fandom of metal is somewhat intimidating. I do not mean that I am intimidated by guys with long hair and tattoos in black band t-shirts. Quite the contrary, I look to those guys as part of , if not the same at least a similar, tribe to me.

No metal fans are intimidating because of their depth of knowledge of their musical tribe and they do not appreciate it being talked about in broad brush strokes. Because metal is the most heavily compartmentalised section of the overall music spectrum. Amongst a multiple of sub genres I will have missed, and to only name a few, it breaks down into, Hard Rock, Blues Metal, Alternative metal, Thrash, Nu Metal, Emo Metal, Progressive metal, Progressive death metal, Death metal, Black Metal, Power metal, Progressive Power Metal, Grindcore, Straight Edge, Industrial metal, Rap Metal, Funk Metal, Melodic , Melodic Death, Doom metal, Sludge Metal, and so on.

So to the fans of music within these quite specific genres saying, I love metal, is like saying I love music. To which the answer is, oh really, what type?

Some metal (Sub genre Power)


I love that video (lots of love throughout this post) I especially like the bit between 2:30 and 2:40 or so. When the entire crowd thrust their hands in the air in time with the music and sing the chorus. Why? Well this is Iron Maiden (duh) filmed in Mumbai.(I have posted it before) this was filmed relatively recently, yet the song was first released 30 years ago, by a British band in what is viewed as a small section of the music spectrum. Yet, here is a sold out concert in India, which we can agree isn't the most obvious place for western music to take hold, filled with kids who are unlikely to have been born when it was first released.

This is the thing about Metal, it transcends borders , whether they be age, geographical, or cultural. No other music does this. Except perhaps Classical. Which is interesting isn't it. of course it is interesting, it is on this blog and everything here is interesting . . . .to me. Why? well some more music first


(metal is not just for boys)

People who tend to like classical music are generally considered to be more of an intellectual leaning than say lovers of Pop music. Right or wrong I think that this is the general perception. People who are into metal are considered to be the other end of the scale. Luddites who just like loud music and are as far from intellectual as you can get.

Except this isn't true is it? Generally they are people who like complicated music that has a meaning behind it. They are passionate about it and take the time to understand what they are listening to a little more than your average trend follower. Because metal has only a couple of times in it's life span been a trend (hair metal and grunge -  write in if you disagree) If you say that you like metal you are basically saying to the masses that you don't care what the trend is, you just like the music. It isn't something that you attach on to for a short period of time. It isn't  a ' oh I liked Slayer one summer, but not so much anymore '. No if you like Slayer , feel free to replace this band with another you have heard of , then it doesn't go away. Of course your tastes may morph and change, but it gets into you and leaves a little residue there.

However, back to my point about metal transcending borders. You can go anywhere in the world, anywhere and you will be able to find a local metal fan. I can say from my own experience that I have had conversations and listened to metal in places diverse as a restaurant in Alaska, and the Indonesian jungle. Let me tell you, The Black album by Metallica never really leaves you after doing 100kph on logging roads, through a jungle, in the rain trying to get a ferry back to civilisation . . . ever.


Why is it that it is so universal? Well, to me , it is because it makes you feel good. This can be because it allows you an outlet to frustration or anger. Just on this , before I go on to explain some of the other emotions, you almost never see a fight at a metal gig. In deed, whilst I have seen one or two, generally about something unconnected, the aggressive music does not make people fight per se. Instead it provides an outlet. Try singing next to a guy at the top of your lungs, thrusting arms in the air and jumping/ head banging and then try to fight them. It just doesn't happen. So music allows an outlet, this I think is fairly obvious. But is also allows introspection, Listen to Damnation by Opeth and tell me me after listening to some of the lyrics that you are not least a little reflective. Or anything by Tool. As per one of my recent posts , here is a song about the singers devout Christian mum and his thoughts on her beliefs and what should happen after she died.



For me, it is also a mood lifter. if I am just a little blah, I can put on any of the songs above or indeed, the thousands of other metal songs I like and I will instantly be in a better mood and feel like doing something more positive than just watching TV, or stare at a wall. Indeed, it would be fair to say that metal was one of the things that lead me to start this tiny piece of internet.

Thousands of metal songs? I would actually hazard a guess that I may have listened to maybe 5% of metal. There is so much of it. So much and yet some people don't even know that it exists. I am not sure how this is possible. but it is. Of course I am aware of the fact that I am not aware of some things that are globally popular and have been for 40 or so years. . . . Ok maybe not .

Metal can be said to have started with the first Black Sabbath album. Obviously there were lead ups to this and it can be disputed, and has been, at length. But for our purposes today that is the safest option to go for. So 44 years. I would also argue that it is not only going strong, but gathering strength with each passing year. It changes and new ways of getting the artistic vision are often coming up, hence the huge numbers of sub genre's, however, these are welcomed into the generally open arms of the metal fans.Ok, that may or may not be true. Actually, just like fans of all music, something new is treated either as a fantastic new event, or with deep suspicion that it is some way subverts what came before it. Don't believe me? ask a few metal fans about Nu Metal and see what they say. . . But that is OK. That is what happens when you care.

As a fan that new way is so fantastic though. Every time something new comes out I am keen to listen , as it just might be that thing I didn't realise I needed. For example , I never knew I needed this


But I did, and I will again in the future.

So long live Metal, you may be impossibly complicated, differentiated and underestimated. but without you the world would be a far poorer place

\m/ \m/


Thursday, 6 March 2014

Babymetal

Every now and again I hear somethng that blows me away. generally because it is so good.

I just heard somethng that blew me away and I am not sure if it is good or not.

I mean , it is brilliant , but good is a different matter.

Anyway , just listen to this


Yes it is J-pop meets death metal . . . listen until at least 1 minute.

there isn't anything else to say is there really.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

personal image not damaged . .

One of the great things about being very interested in music is the self gratifying snobbery that exists within it. Musical snobbery , disguised as 'taste' or justified as 'better knowledge', is perhaps the thing that puts people off musical discussion more than anything else. It is what being a musical hipster is all about.

I am as guilty of this as most of you reading this. Maybe more. In my defense, and I guess by extension, in yours, it is hard to listen to some music knowing that what influenced it was much better. Knowing there is so much better music out there. Knowing that what was originally ground breaking, has become a sanitized corporate output.

This is how it works.

Great bands, have some, or a lot, of success with an original sound or concept. The music industry says to itself, that is where the latest trend is, quick, we need bands like that, but a bit more radio friendly. Bang, 10 bands sort of the same come out and the public, like the musical sheep they are, lap it up like nice fresh juicy grass.Then something else comes along and they jump to the next thing. Here is a song about it:


There is also another kind, and this is perhaps more the domain of the hipster, snob, geek whatever you want to call me / yourself. . . I call this the ' I was there first' hipster.

Generally what happens here is that a band or artist , comes out with a first album, EP or something similar, and you love them. Something like this


or this:




In both of the above cases I claimed to love the band. Great band, what cool music.

Then, horror of horrors, everyone agreed. Great band.

It can be passed off, they don't really understand, they aren't as clued up, they just like the melody. So by the time the second album comes around, they are the main stream. Think also - Guns'n Roses.

You can't like the same thing that everyone one else does!

Are you mad???

So the second, 3rd, 4th, albums are decried as derivative, nothing like the first one. Success made the band lazy and they lack the punch they had to start with. The thing about this is that most people don't care. It is a little like protesting New Year's Eve and not going out because it is meaningless. The people out enjoying themselves don't care about your protest. For the most part people don't really care about other people's music taste . So you write a blog trying to convince them of how much you know . . .No seriously, when people engage you on it you have to then say, 'Yes, but they were so much better before . . don't you know, I have their first EP. Which I bought at their first ever gig, which was before half of them had met, indeed I introduced them and actually played on this' . . or other complete rubbish . . .

Sometimes you are right. In fact, there are very few bands whose later albums are better than their first few. There are some very notable exceptions. Like the album this comes from:


or this:



Anyway . . . the thing about all of this is despite the front that is shown to the world, you still know, deep inside, that you love the first album. Certainly in the case of Pearl Jam, Oasis and Guns'n Roses I do. So you come back to it after a certain amount of time, sometimes 5 years more likely to be 10 or in fact nearly 20, and you realize that it is still great. You realize that it is alright to love one album and not others. Sometimes you even begin to explore the rest of a catalogue and find some other stuff you like.

No, actually that rarely happens, because they did become lazy, but certainly you listen to the second album. Which is never as bad as you remember it to be, actually it is quite good, but your prejudice got in the way.

The point of all of this is that you believe that you managed to keep your credibility intact. But really, you just managed to convince yourself that you were special, and actually you aren't.

This is a little darker than I usually write, but it is an interesting part of becoming older and looking back. Love for music doesn't change, but your attitude to how it defines you does.

Isn't that interesting.

(Just a quick word on that Tool song, last listed in the you tube links. Listen to the whole thing.  It is a song about the singer's devout christian mother who died after living for 10,000 days with severe complications after having a stroke. Whether you are a musical snob or not that is a powerful song.)

Thursday, 20 February 2014

New Music (for me) Bibio

The great thing about music is that you haven't listened to all of it. Not even close.

You can try, and waste a lot of your life trawling through dirge, the pop hit wanna-be's and the artistic noise makers.

Sometimes, though, you stumble across something that makes it all worth the while. last week I found something worthwhile and I thought I would share it with you if that is alright?

Bibio - The Green EP.

Here is a taste.


And here is another



Here is their website, or at least the record companies so you can get a feel for all of their stuff.

http://warp.net/records/bibio


I love the green EP because it is at once, quiet, but complex and somewhat mournful. While not being sad.

Which is quite an achievement.

Let me know what you think.


Monday, 3 February 2014

Surely there is an alternative? part I

Another post inspired by a documentary and a request. I guess they are the best and if it helps me to put something out there then it should be encouraged. So if you have a question please feel free to ask, and I will try and relate it to music somehow, or I will just make up some stuff.




I was watching a documentary about American Rock and Roll. It was and is pretty good. Looking at the music of the 60s 70s and 80s and relating to various aspects of society at the time(s). There was a quote in it, which went along the lines of, when the music industry sees something succeed they will produce copies of it, until it fails. Which we all know to be true, and quite depressing. This coupled with a conversation I had over the holiday period with a friends son about alternative music means that it is time to look at some of the music that inspires the copying.

This is from my experience and so, well, lets be honest here, it might be a bit dated, none the less and as has been commented on before, great music doesn't date.

So before it becomes a 'trend' or new style, there has to be someone who forged the way first. From my experience, these bands tend to not be as successful, well known and the music tends to be less polished, than the people you have heard of. That's kind of how it works, because improving on an idea is a lot easier than coming up with one yourself.

So let's start with the obvious. The Pixies basically led to to Nirvana and grunge. Here is a Pixies song, a great Pixies song


here is another


That video was done by the same guys that did Gorillaz and is the same story as Monkey Magic, the Japanese TV series of the late 70s. Cool.

The Pixies reformed in the early 2000s after splitting up for 11 years or so. They are great once again, although to be honest I prefer listening to their old stuff rather than anything new. But for all of you older fans. There is a new pixies album released last year.

Another band that has to be said to have had a large influence on people such as the 'Punk' scene that came through America in the 90s and 2000s is Sonic Youth. I am not sure if it is fair to say that they were perhaps a little more well known than the Pixies. I guess it is because when their music style was more accepted in the main stream they were still together. They split in 2011, after Kim Gordon and Thursten Moore announced their marriage of 27 years was over. (wow by the way, just wow)

It is perhaps true though that you cant draw a direct link with Sonic Youth and other bands that have copied them, mainly because they are so hard to copy, with various different emphasis's of style running through their music , no one band can really be said to be an imitation, although I guess most alternative bands are in some way. Their music ranges from the quite pop oriented, through punk and then to new or even no wave styles.

They are definitely worth checking out though. Here are a couple of my favourite songs. First a Rock style


yes that is Chuck D from Public Enemy

Here is something else


There is so much Sonic Youth stuff that I really do not know where to go. I recommend their albums, Goo (my favorite) Sister (everyone else's favorite), Murray Street, Dirty. As starting places. I have been meaning for years to put together a Sonic youth playlist of my favorite songs and play that.

If we look at 'Emo' and specifically My Chemical Romance. A good band and the best of their generation of bands. Sorry to say though not really a new concept, 'emotional' music put to guitars. Not to detract from their music though. The Black Parade particularly is a favourite album of mine and always worth a listen.

their spiritual fathers are perhaps the guys from Fugazi and Husker Du.

here is some Fugazi


I must admit, that Fugazi were a band that passed me by a little bit. I had a very cool 'I'm in on the kill taker' T-shirt which was always met with a little bit of skepticism by people who weren't aware of what it was. I would search around a little bit in their albums as it is worth the effort.

Here is some Husker Du


That is taken from the album, Candy apple grey and that is a bit of emotional roller coaster ride. It is fair to say that they may have had a larger influence of Green Day than MCR, but definitely give the album a listen.

Four bands worth checking out. I like this topic and so I am going to do a few more of them. I have concentrated on the a very small section of the music styles that I personally like and so there is a lot more to write and think about.For example, the new age of metal has some very obvious links, as does R&B as well as the indie folky sounds that seem so popular again.

As always, if you have any comments please feel free

Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Religion that is Justin Bieber - update

You know, when I wrote that I wanted to punch Justin Bieber in this post HERE, I didn't realise what a spectacular fall he would have.

You know who was right?

Me

I was right.

Terrible music, terrible person. Treats fans badly, no respect for anyone and is so used to being told he is right by all of his hangers on, to whom he is their meal ticket, that he has lost all perspective on the world

Form a queue and maybe we can all punch him now . . .