Monday, 13 August 2012

Mike Tyler: 'Erection' Album Review

Summary: An album that fails to rise to the occasion.
Listen To: -
Avoid: Every song!
Get It: If you must, here.

When somebody names their début album Erection, you'd be forgiven for assuming that it will be something monumental that stands tall. Sadly, Mike Tyler's Erection doesn't measure up.

The album as a whole is a forgettable mess with few redeeming qualities. As Tyler subjects us to 11 throwaway tracks of dull instrumentation and lacklustre lyrics delivered with a painfully grating drawl,  it becomes apparent that little care went into this flop of an album.

It's not that we expect Tyler to care. After all, his whole career has made it seem like he cares more for image than for the quality of his work. His hunger for controversy, danger and excitement has even led to him being dubbed "the Iggy Pop of poetry". Sadly, this album lacks the quality of well as the danger and excitement that Tyler has previously prided himself on.

And that is what makes this album so disappointing. Next to none of the attitude and high-octane energy he injects into his poetic performances is present here. The majority of the album consists of the breezy patter of mid-tempo tracks (Stuttering Song II and Nearer And Nearer) and the remaining song (Conversational Spanish) is so notoriously slow that, combined with the monotonous drone of Tyler, it is unbearable to listen to.

If you are looking for an album that will leave you feeling unfulfilled and unsatisfied, then this definitely fits the bill. But if you are after anything other than that, then steer well clear of this.

Let's hope that if Tyler dares to make another album it is capable of rising to the occasion.


Sunday, 10 June 2012

Neil Young & Crazy Horse: 'Americana' Album Review

Summary: An underwhelming addition to Young's legacy.
Listen To: 'Jesus' Chariot (She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain)'; 'Wayfarin' Stranger'; 'God Save The Queen'
Avoid: 'Oh Susannah'; 'Tom Dula'; 'Get A Job'
Get It: Here


With this being the 34th studio effort by Neil Young, you tend to go into listening to this with a fairly good idea of what to expect. And as the album consists of covers you would be forgiven for assuming that you know what's coming.
But that's not the way Young and Crazy Horse have done this album. Young, before the album's release, told 'American Songwriter' that "every one of these songs have verses that have been ignored...I moved them away from that gentler interpretation. With new melodies and arrangements, we could use the folk process to invoke the original meanings". 

Young's interpretation of the songs on 'Americana' keep the audience guessing with its experimental folk-grunge style and use of lost lyrics that make the songs so different that they are incomparable to the best-known versions.
One such cover is the second track on the album, 'Clementine'. The song is a version of 'Oh My Darling, Clementine' but it lacks the trademark chorus melody that hooks listeners. Young makes the song his own by including verses omitted from many other versions, drastically changing the arrangement and the chrous and by stretching it out to approximately six minutes in length. And due to these changes, it becomes overwhelmingly mediocre.

It is Young's determination to make these songs his own that proves to be the downfall of this album. Although it is good that Young is attempting to do the songs his way, the songs are a fundamental part of American history and the original versions are so deeply engraved into the minds of listeners that these songs are not easy to accept. This isn't helped by the fact that, although the musicianship is of high quality, it is hard to shake the feeling that this entire album was recorded in one take.
Another downfall is that Young stretches out some of the songs a bit too far. With his reinvention of the songs into his own style, the songs sadly seem to drag on a bit too long and begin to all meld into one never-ending track. This isn't helped by the jam-like vibe that the album gives off, due in no part to the introduction to opening track 'Oh Susannah'.
The final fault with this album is that it is impossible to find a point or purpose for the song selection. There seems to be no consistency between songs; almost as if Young is spontaneously bursting into song and Crazy Horse are simply following his lead. And no matter how hard we try, we just cannot wrap our heads around why Young selected 'God Save Our Queen' to feature on an album that

Despite the album seeming like an endless jam session, a few nuggets of gold can be found in amongst the waves of messy sound. These are all located towards the end of the album.
'Jesus' Chariot' is possibly the finest track on the album, featuring a phenomenal vocal performance by Young and an astounding arrangement with a colossal sound that breathes new life into one of the best known songs of all time. It's place on the album (after filler track 'High Flyin' Bird') helps to emphasise the brilliance of the track.
'Wayfarin' Stranger' features some fantastic guitar work and amazing vocal delivery by Young. Although it slows down the pace of the album after 'Jesus' Chariot' and 'This Land Is Your Land', it does so in a brilliant way that stays true to the original sentiment of the song and also builds for the album's closer.
'God Save Our Queen' is an odd choice of a song to include on this album, one that we cannot logically explain or justify. But it provides the perfect close to the album with beautiful harmonies and driving drums that allow the song to stand out and close the album with a wondrous crescendo.

Yet despite these golden moments there is something missing: a purpose. And this lack of purpose plagues the album from start to finish. It is not a bad album musically; the instrumentation is exceptional. But the feeling that it was a one take recording, the removal of several key elements and melodies in tracks and the way that the whole thing blends together makes it feel like a pointless, throwaway album by a pub band. This one is only for hardcore fans. Or those eager to waste money.


Sunday, 3 June 2012

Azealia Banks: '1991' EP Review

Summary: The club sound of 2012.
Listen To: '212'; 'Liquorice'
Avoid: 'Van Vogue'
Get It: Here

Azealia Banks has received heavy championing by the likes of NME since '212' became a massive viral hit. With the release of '1991', Banks shows exactly why NME have been championing her and why her songs have become club hits.

Although the EP only comes in at just over 15 minutes, it does stand out because it shows just what Banks is capable of. Every single track oozes swagger as she spits out her trademark filthy rap and calls out harmonious refrains over infectious beats and catchy club bass. This is apparant most in title track '1991' in which she shamelessly shows off her sound, style and swagger.

Obviously the standout of this EP is '212', with it's undeniably infectious rhythm and sweeping synths. It's no surprise why it has become such a hit or why it is the stand-out track of the EP.

However, the EP does have several downfalls. One downfall is that it is quite experimental which, in this instance, does nothing to benefit the music. One example is that '1991' features quirky sound-effects such as office background noise and telephones. This would be fine but as this EP is very club-focused, the sound-effects are very out-of-place and should have not made the final cut. We can only hope that, should this appear on her upcoming début album, the final version does not feature these sounds.
Another example comes in the form of Banks' willingness to play around with different effects. The end of '1991' shows her playing with breaking the song. This may help if the track was being used by a DJ in a club but that should really be left to the DJ to do as, on this version, it sits uncomfortably with the rest of the song. Another example is 'Van Vogue', in which the track seems to end and is followed by a brief silence. This silence is broken by Banks playing with a vocoder to excessively deepen her voice. This doesn't fit the track and interrupts the otherwise impressive club vibe of the EP.

The biggest downfall of the EP is also one of its strengths. This is the club vibe that it gives off. Although it is good that the EP has the feeling that you are in a club because of the style of the tracks and the sequencing of them, this also works against it as the novelty does wear off. Unless the tracks are very different, it can be very difficult to tell the difference between the tracks. '1991' and 'Van Vogue' are both similar enough that it is hard to differentiate between the two, and both give off the same club vibe. But the fact that this EP is meant for clubs allows us to forgive Banks to an extent.

Although this is just a brief taster of what Banks has in store for us this year, it is enough to make us realise that she is something very special indeed. She is somebody who has effortlessly produced a great club soundtrack despite the faults of the EP. And it provides a superb stepping stone for Azealia Banks to become a big part of modern youth culture.


Friday, 18 May 2012

Waking Elliot Interview

They're a hot new act from Connecticut and we've tipped them for big things. Waking Elliot have a lot of big things happening over the next 12 months, starting with a set at the Bamboozle festival this Saturday (May 19). We are happy to bring you an exclusive interview with a band that are set to make waves in 2012.

Can you tell us a bit of background about the band?

"We are a female-fronted alternative rock back. We’re a little different to bands like Paramore, Evanescence or Flyleaf though because we’re fronted by two female vocalists. We formed around two years ago though we all had performed in other groups prior to getting together."

What's the story behind the band name?

"We don’t really have any sort of crazy story to go along with the name - we just came up with it and liked the way that it sounded. We do tell people sometimes that “Elliot” was a kid we saved from a burning building or a pet dog but we basically use those stories to spice-up our mundane non-story about the name."

How would you define your sound for those who haven't heard of you? 

We call it “emotionally charged alternative rock”. We used to get compared to Paramore pretty frequently but lately the comparisons have moved more toward Eisley. Our hope is to create powerful songs with relatable lyrics."

Who are your biggest musical influences?

"We’re all influenced by different bands/groups/vocalists. The fact that we all listen to different music actually helps us to keep our music fresh and interesting. We all write our own parts so it makes for an eclectic mix and helps us to avoid having each song sound the same. Our tastes have a wide range, actually: Bright Eyes, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Incubus, 30 Seconds to Mars, and The Hush Sound to name a few."

Your 'Simply Pathological' EP was released in 2010 - how would you say your musical style has changed and developed since then?

"When we started out we didn’t know who we were as a band- like what defined us. It took a while to settle-in and figure-out best methods for writing, what worked and what didn’t work… it’s a great deal of trial and error, actually. Writing music can be a very vulnerable process but we think we’ve grown into a place where we feel much more confident and unified. We take more risks now than we did when the EP was released and we’re able to critique ourselves in a productive way. We are continually learning new things. In fact, admitting that there is always room for growth has helped us to be better writers and performers."

What is your favourite song to perform from the EP and why?

We always enjoy performing 'One Two' and 'Truth or Dare' They are both high-energy songs which our fans enjoy singing along to. Whenever we receive a response from the crowd it helps us to put more of our heart into the performance."

Have you begun work on any follow-up to your EP?

"We have been in talks with our producer about getting back into the studio as soon as possible. We’re always writing and right now a full-length follow-up is our biggest priority. We have new music that we’re dying to release."

Are you excited for this year's Bamboozle festival?

"We are beyond excited for the Bamboozle festival! We feel honored to be representing Connecticut with our friends in Forget Paris."

Are there any bands that you are eager to see perform?

"We are eager to see Incubus, Foo Fighters, My Chemical Romance and all of the bands at the Yuu Zoo Break Stage!"

How are you preparing for your slot?

We agonized over our setlist, we always do. We want to put-on the best show we possibly can so we have been practicing like crazy." 

You're playing on the Saturday, a day when some of the biggest rock acts such as Foo Fighters are also performing. Does this make you slightly nervous?

It makes us feel excited and honored! We idolize bands like the Foo Fighters so it feels really great to even be in the same state as them, let alone the same venue!"

How do you plan to make yourselves stand out from the other bands at the festival?

As it stands, there aren’t nearly enough female-fronted rock bands out in the mainstream, so the fact that we are fronted by two girls will make us unique compared to many of the other bands. Beyond that, we hope our music will speak for itself- we’re going to do what we do and love every minute of it. Hopefully people will respond to that."

What can the audience expect from the show? Anything special?

We will be performing a brand new, never-before-heard song at the festival titled 'Lost Me At Hello'. We’re really excited about this song and we can’t wait to finally perform it!"

Is there anything that you hope for your audience to take away from the show? 

We hope that our audience will have a good time and relate to our music. We put our hearts and souls into our music so our hope is that some of that passion and emotion impacts our listeners. We also hope that people who hear us for the first time on Saturday are inspired to check us out online later on Facebook, etc."

After Bamboozle, what's next for the band?

We are working on writing and recording our next album, playing a few other festivals over the summer, performing at Six Flags New England and doing a bit of touring. Mostly, we’re really thrilled to be receiving such a great response from people- it truly validates the work and love we put-in."

The band are performing at Bamboozle on Saturday (May 19) on the Yuu Break stage between 2:45pm-3:15

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Tenacious D: 'Rize Of The Fenix' Album Review

Summary: The D's finest album to date.
Listen To: 'Roadie'; 'Ballad of Hollywood Jack and the Rage Kage'; 'Throw Down'; '39'
'Low Hangin Fruit'
Get It: Here

Tenacious D definitely haven't got it easy this time around. Following a six-year hiatus and the astounding success of second album 'The Pick Of Destiny', the band's third studio attempt has to blow doors down if it is to stand up alongside its predecessors. And 'Rize Of The Fenix' manages to do just that.

The D haven't lost their way during their hiatus as this album clearly shows. It is the same blend of acoustic rock, mock-rock and metal as their previous endeavours. In fact, the band seem to be more focused on delivering their signature brand of mock-rock in any form possible.
This leads to 'Rise Of The Fenix' being one of the bands most eclectic albums. 'Señorita' is flamenco-styled; 'Deth Starr' is the D's signature brand of mock-rock; 'Ballad of Hollywood Jack and the Rage Kage' gives a medieval England vibe through the use of a flute; 'Throw Down' bares a striking and undeniable similarity to Iggy Pop's 'The Passenger' and '39' is an obvious attempt at a song in the style of Bruce Springsteen, evident in the way Black sings.

The only downfall of the album is that, despite some phenomenal instrumentation and the kind of lyrics we've come to expect from the D, it doesn't seem certain on where to go. Some songs hit the mark perfectly, whereas others either fail to go anywhere or go to too many places.
For example, album-opener and title track 'Rize Of The Fenix' bring a tear to the eye as the song transforms from an acoustic song with similarities to Dio's 'Holy Diver' to an explosive electric masterpiece. However they don't seem quite know where to stop as the track culminates in a mellow reprise-esque section that adds little to the track.

The album is everything a Tenacious D fan could ask for and the band should be praised for, after six years, producing an album of such high quality. It is possibly the bands finest album to date and shows that there is a lot of life left in the band yet. This is the Tenacious D we all know and have grown to love. The D are back in style.


Saturday, 5 May 2012

Silversun Pickups: 'Neck Of The Woods' Album Review

Summary: The blueprint for their finest album.
Listen To: 'Out Of Breath'
Avoid: 'Here We Are (Chancer)'
Get It: Here

It's always nice when a band experiments with its typical sound. While 'Neck Of The Woods' is nothing drastically different to previous albums, it does follow the band's trademark sound into new and exciting territory.

Whereas 'Carnavas' and 'Swoon' could both be characterised by the use of distortion to emphasise linear songs with a dark edge, 'Neck Of The Woods' is charactised by the use of distortion to add depth and emphasis to more complex songs. There is never any doubt that this is a Silversun Pickups album. The sound is there; it is just expanded and more adventurous.

However this does cause tracks to run the risk of being too drawn out. 'Simmer' is one of these songs. It is a slow-burning song that is characterised by a scorching vocal melody and searing guitars. Sadly, it takes too long to reach boiling point and is hasty to begin cooling down again. But the depth and relentless flow do show the potential that the band's new sound has.

The sequencing of this album is also exceptional. Opening track 'Skin Graph' lays the foundation for the rest of the album with its gentle melodies that eventually build to a catchy and distorted refrain, sounding something like a shoegaze-style rendition of The Smashing Pumpkins' 'Bullet With Butterfly Wings'.
This sets the wheels in motion for second track 'Make Believe', which floats along breezily until it reaches its climax - a jam-like instrumental of danceable distortion with a sing-a-long vibe.
The album continues to flow beautifully as if it were designed to be a performance set list. Penultimate track 'Gun-Shy Sunshine' is a simply stunning shoegaze song that will immediately appeal to fans of The Horrors' 'Changing The Rain' with its mesmerising guitars and simple beat. This is the slowest song on the album which paves the way perfectly for final track 'Out Of Breath', which begins with frantic guitar notes that propel the song forward. From there it builds into one of the band's finest songs to date.

Although on the surface it may seem uncertain and even messy in places, digging a little deeper will reveal that 'Neck Of The Woods' is an album of daring depth and substance. While it may not be as instantly accessible as it's predecessors it does still contain some tracks that could easily have been included on previous releases and it builds the basis of a promising future for the band.


Monday, 16 April 2012

"Rock & Roll is not dead"

"Someone recently said we're like an everyman's rock and roll band - there's something there for everybody" grins Anthony Wright, lead vocalist and guitarist of Wolverhampton's own The Whiskey Syndicate.

The statement couldn't be more true. With their hard-hitting beats and stripped-down rock sound, the band produce a little something for everybody to get into.
The band are Wolverhampton's answer to Guns 'N' Roses and Motley Crue; a true rock and roll band that never fail to get an audience moving.

In June the band will at long-last release their début album, 'The Right Side Of Crazy'. But last night they were at the Slade Rooms for their launch show, previewing the album in its entirety before taking to the stage for the biggest performance of their lives.

The show proved that the band were up to the challenge as they showed why they've become renowned for their live shows. The band powered through a set of songs old and new as the audience danced and sang along to the band, with songs 'Rise For Me' and 'Break The Chain' showing the band on top form.
The band end the show by taking a bow and diving into the arms of their adoring audience - a fitting finish to a phenomenal hometown performance.

Yet despite all the momentum the band have, they're making sure that they don't get swept up in the moment and are remaining realistic about their hopes for the album.
"World domination would be a bit delusional. We want to make a statement; we want to make an impact. Rock and roll is not dead."

To listen to the interview, click here.

Hadouken Wolverhampton Gig Preview

In just five short years dance-rock band Hadouken have signed to Ministry Of Sound and patented their own brand of bass-driven synthrock. And on Wednesday 16th the band will bring their ever-popular club sound to Wolverhampton's Slade Rooms.

The band have been turning heads since their début album, 'Music For An Accelerated Generation', in 2007 and have maintained a devoted cult following ever since.
Now the band are all set to release their third album and are currently touring the UK with a brand new show.

In an exclusive interview singer James Smith revealed that fans can expect their favourite songs at the show, alongside brand new material from the upcoming album.
"You've got to respect that people want to hear songs that they know. We generally will play a few [new songs] but we're not going to play an entirely new set. They're the ones that are going to be the singles and that are going to come out soon enough."

Smith went on to reveal that fans can expect a very exciting show.
"We like to get everyone moving and singing along. There's a lot of fun for the people that don't want to get involved with the mosh pits as well."

Smith also praised Wolverhampton and the fans the band have there.
"When we've played in Wolverhampton, we've always had a good crowd and we really enjoy it. There's been some really memorable gigs there." 

Tickets for the show are available at or from the Midlands box office. 

To listen to the interview, click here.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Alligators, Transvestites & The best of British: An interview with Missing Andy

Very few musicians that go far in a TV talent show ever manage to shake off the tag of being just a 'TV talent show star'. Missing Andy are a mod/ska band based in Essex that are trying to do just that.

After starring in Sky One's 'Must Be The Music' the band have been trying to prove that they aren't just another reality TV band. And with two singles having broke into the top 40 in the UK charts and the top 10 in the UK indie charts, the band seem to be doing so.

I caught up with Alex Greaves, the lead vocalist of the band, before their show at Birmingham's O2 Academy 3 on March 14 for a quick interview.

Many people know you from the Sky series 'Must Be The Music' - what kind of effect did the series have on you as a band?

"It kind of did two things really. On one side of it we gained a lot of new fans from however many it was broadcast to, but on the other side you do get tagged [as a] reality TV show band which we're trying to steer clear of...we're just trying to shake that reality TV show stigma."

How are you going to shake that off?

"Well, just going out there and doing what we were doing before it and showing that we're not just one of those bands who've got a couple of songs and goes on there to make a bit of a name for themselves. We're a band who know what we're doing, we've been doing it long enough so...just make some noise."

What's the story behind the band name?

"Ah...well there was an alligator once in...I think it was west Africa. And he had a friend called Andrew...and he ate it."

How would you define your sound for people who aren't familiar with your music?

"It's quite hard to pinpoint. I suppose if you could sum it up in one word it would be eclectic. We take inspiration from loads of different sounds, loads of different bands. It's kind of molding the best of British together. So you know, we've got a bit of indie, a bit of ska, some pop, some rock in there...we never really set out to sound like one specific sound. It was just about writing good songs and the thing that ties it all together is the lyrical content."

Who would you say your biggest musical influence is?

"Once again it's all across the board, the only band we all 100% agree on is Madness. We've played a few shows with them, which is great. But we take loads of bits and bobs from early The Jam, The Clash, The Specials...bands that were really talking about stuff that was happening in the country - news bands really, and there's not really many of those around at the moment."

What are your favourite songs to play live and why?

"To be honest, I like playing them all live really. But if I had to pick a favourite it'd probably be 'Made In England', even though I can't hear the song...I can't listen to it. But as soon as we go out there and perform it and just the reaction from the crowd, I think that's pretty good. And 'Scum' is one of those as well."

What's your view on the current state of music?

"It's a bit tricky. We've found that it's a very chicken-and-egg industry. If you're trying to get plenty of gigs or tour support for a big band, you need lots of radio play. But if you want radio play you need to be supporting a big band. It's really hard to crack, and it's so overcrowded with the same kind of sound at the moment. It's so hard for something a little bit different; something original; something fresh to break through...but we're still knocking doors down and it should change it...let's hope tomorrow."

How are you finding your tour experience so far?

"It's good fun, but it's a bit tiring. This is the third tour we've done so we're starting to get used to life on the road now. It's weird; when you're on the road you get a bit tired and you just wish you could sit on the sofa or something. But when you're at home you just constantly want to be back out on the road again. We're very indecisive as musicians."

Has anything weird happened to you while you've been on tour?

"There's been plenty of things. There was one gig in particular that was strange. Our management booked us and they said we've just go to turn up to this place at this time. So we turn up and it was right out in the middle of fields in the middle of nowhere, in this forest somewhere and there was this chalet. We turned up and we were greeted by gimps and transvestites and naked was a kind of kinky party. So we went inside and asked "where's the stage", and they pointed to a dancing pole in the middle of the room. We asked about mic stands and they didn't have any, so they just offered this naked lady to stand there and hold the microphone while Steve and Rob sang into it...that was pretty interesting."

What kind of statement are you trying to make with 'Generation Silenced'?

"I wouldn't say it's really trying to make a statement; we never really try and force any opinion or anything on our listeners. We've always been about challenging people to think for themselves rather than preaching to them. If people listen to it and they feel the same way then brilliant, but it was just about writing music with substance really."

What were the recording sessions like for the album?

"Pretty easy to be was pretty flawless. We got in there, Elliot was the first person to put all his stuff down on the drums. He knocked them out pretty quickly and then everything was really fluid and it worked really well."

What are your plans for the rest of 2012?

"Carry on just trying to take over the world I guess. We got plenty of things coming up. On Monday we've got the album's HMV release; we've been writing for the second album...we've pretty much got that finished now so I guess we'll be recording that soon; plenty of other tours; festivals...all the dates are up on Facebook."

Missing Andy's first album, 'Generation Silenced', is available now on iTunes. It will hit the shelves of HMV on March 19. Preorder the album here.

The band are currently touring the UK. Details can be found on the band's Facebook page.

To listen to the interview, click here.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Michael Kiwanuka: 'Home Again' Album Review

Summary: A brilliant début of transcendental beauty.
Listen To: 'I'm Getting Ready'; 'I'll Get Along'; 'Rest'; 'Worry Walks Beside Me'
Avoid: 'Any Day Will Do Fine'
Get It: Here

There is something special about Michael Kiwanuka's music. The instrumentation manages to capture the magic of folk music while his voice encapsulates the raw emotion of soul music, with both combining together to produce some truly beautiful music. 'Home Again' is Kiwanuka's début album and it is one of the greatest of recent times.

This is an album that stands out because every track sounds complete. Often we will hear songs that fall short of their mark or fail to even identify a mark, but not a single song on here faces either of those problems. Songs like title track 'Home Again' show Kiwanuka's ability to craft a well-rounded song that reach a climax and then gently come back down to a mellow ending. Others, such as 'Rest' and 'Always Waiting' show a gentler approach - one that leads to a track of transcendental beauty from start to finish.

'I'll Get Along' deserves a special mention as one of the standout tracks. Characterised by breezy instrumentation and a melody that floats gracefully upon it, it stands out as one of the more accessible songs on the album. This track is the feel-good sound of summer 2012.

The only quibble with this album is the order of the tracks. Some songs feel a bit out-of-place and as if they should be elsewhere in the tracklisting. Plodding ballad-esque song 'Rest' is the best example of this, being the fourth track when it should ideally be much later. However, this does little to stop the flow of the album in the slightest.

Though this album will mostly appeal to afficionados of acoustic folk and soul music, it does have tracks of merit to a wider audience. These tracks, such as 'I'm Getting Ready' and 'I'll Get Along', have an accessible enough sound that they could break the mainstream. And this is what makes the album so great: its potential to make Kiwanuka a household name.
If angst and darkness are what you are looking for, you won't find it here. But you will find wisdom delivered by a smooth voice and a talented soul that has known sadness. This is definitely worth a listen.


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Eatmewhileimhot: 'Mushroom' Album Review

Mushroom is the 10-track second album by experimental post-hardcore outfit Eatmewhileimhot and it says a lot about the musical abilities of the band...but sadly it doesn't say a lot else.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Celebration or Cash-In?

Take That's Gary Barlow has decided to arrange a concert to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Britain's Queen Elizabeth. But is this a real celebration or a thinly-veiled cash-in?

Barlow has attempted to pull out all the stops for this concert, recruiting a line-up of musical superstars such as Elton John, Tom Jones, Cliff Richard and Sir Paul McCartney. But Barlow has also contacted a few other musicians in an attempt to get them involved.

Ed Sheeran, Jessie J and JLS are currently confirmed as part of the line-up. But should Barlow have really included these fresh-faced musicians?

The inclusion of these musicians will obviously increase the popularity of the concert by bringing in more of a varied audience as young people will want to come to see those performers. But it also costs the prestige of the event. Surely the musicians that are selected to play a concert to mark such a momentous occasion should be of a higher calibre; reknowned and well-respected musicians as opposed to flavour-of-the-month performers?

No disrespect intended towards those musicians, obviously. But they are fresh faces in the musical world; they won't have even had a real opportunity to earn that respect and recognition yet. What recognition could they have at the moment?
Well, Ed Sheeran does currently hold the record for lowest weekly sales for a number one album of the 21st century...

Barlow has stated that "The Diamond Jubilee concert will celebrate 60 years of the Queen's reign with an amazing line-up of world class artists", but can these new musicians really be counted as world class?

Barlow did attempt to justify the choice, however, by adding "it's going to be a fantastic event that transcends multiple decades of music." This decade has barely begun, Barlow. Should it really be included in this?

Have your say below.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

35 Years of Rumours

35 years ago today Fleetwood Mac released their eleventh and "most important" studio album, 'Rumours'. But it wasn't without its fair share of problems.

The album followed the band's successful commercial tenth album, 'Fleetwood Mac', and months of heavily publicised problems. Two members of the band, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, were at each other's throats and this led to a lot of issues arising during sessions.
In addition to this, Mick Fleetwood was in turmoil following the revelation that his wife was having an affair with his best friend and the press were publishing inaccurate stories about the band members.

In early 1976, the band began working on new material. Over the following turbulent months, the band managed to record the album despite a lot of tension and set-backs. One such set-back involved the kick and snare drums sounding "lifeless" and a tape machine that completely destroyed one of the tracks the band had worked on for nine months.

On February 4th 1977, 'Rumours' was released and was incredibly well received. One critic stated that the entire album seems "more consistent and eccentric" than the previous albums, and noted that the album "jumps right out of the speakers at you".

The album was referred to Mick as "the most important album we ever made" as it allowed the band to continue. It also inspired countless musicians for years to come and continues to do so. Musicians who have cited 'Rumours' as an influence include Tori Amos, Death Cab For Cutie, Matchbox 20, The Cranberries and even Elton John.

In memory of Rumours below we have featured a video containing the album in its entirety, as well as Mick Fleetwood discussing 'Jaws' - the tape machine that devoured one of the tracks.

'Rumours' by Fleetwood Mac, in it's entirety.

Mick Fleetwood telling the tale of 'Jaws'

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Britpop's Second Coming

2012 looks set to be a massive year for British music, particularly those musicians who were part of the Britpop scene in the 1990's. So could we be seeing the signs of a Britpop revival?

Last week, NME announced that Noel Gallagher would receive the award for 'Godlike Genius' at this year's NME awards. Now, the chief has a chance to show the world just how much he "pushes boundaries" due to the imminent release of the first track from his forthcoming collaborative album with Amorphous Androgynous.

The song, entitled 'Shoot A Hole In The Sun', will be released as the B-Side to his imminent single 'Dream On'.
So what can we expect from this collaboration? Not a lot of specifics have been given regarding it, other than Noel stating that some of it is "fucking far out". We can speculate regarding this track though.
Noel previously worked with Amorphous Androgynous on a remix of his Oasis track 'Falling Down', which was featured as a B-Side to that single. Given that the title is 'Shoot A Hole In The Sun' (a lyric from Noel's second third solo single, 'If I Had A Gun...'), we can assume that the track is simply a remix of that song.
If this is the case, Noel may have already given us a sneak peak at the song in the video clip for his single 'If I Had A Gun...'. Towards the end of the video (4:05 onwards), you can hear a different version of 'If I Had A Gun...' playing in the background. Could this be the new song?

Official music video for 'If I Had A Gun...' by Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

In addition to this, Liam Gallagher's band Beady Eye have hinted at releasing an album at some stage in 2012. The facts surrounding this are vague, however.

Meanwhile, fellow Britpop giants Blur are awakening from their slumber. Having made their last appearance together in 2009, the band have now revealed that they will be performing at the Brit Awards 2012 as they receive the 'Outstanding Contribution To Music' award.

Bassist Alex James, who revealed that the band would play the event, also hinted that the band would record new music together at some stage. However, he did dismiss the possibility of another Blur album.
And Blur front man Damon Albarn and guitarist Graham Coxon were recently announced as being the special guests at this year's pre-Brit Awards fundraiser gig for War Child.

In addition to all the Blur goings on, Graham Coxon is currently preparing to embark on a tour in April to support his eighth solo studio album. The album, entitled 'A+E', is set to be released on April 2 and will see Coxon embarking on his most interactive tour to date. For the UK tour, Coxon has asked local bands to submit their tracks to him via his website and those tracks will be made available to visitors of his site. Fans will then vote in a poll and Coxon will make the winner his support act.

But is all of this enough to cause a Britpop revival? How likely is it to actually happen?

Well let's also not forget that 2012 is also the year that legendary band The Stone Roses make their long awaited return. Although not truly part of the Britpop scene, their second album caused them to get lumped in as part of the scene. And their return, along with the return of The Happy Mondays, will certainly be one reason for interest to return to the British music scene. And with such attention on British music, it seems perfectly possible that 2012 will see the second coming of Britpop.