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Made in Shoreditch

I also contribute a weekly column to Made in Shoreditch magazine called 'Old East End/New East End', where I look at the relationship between the East End of old and new, looking at the changes and the stalwarts in landscape, residents and culture, focussing on one street or district each week. You can find it here.

The Cloud Player

Thursday, 31 March 2011

So, Amazon have 'quietly' released their cloud player in the U.S. The implications seem huge. Could this end the iPod era altogether?

The idea is simple, instead of using your computer's hard drive as your main store for music, you can use an online storage space. This could change music forever...


How to use cloud player with android phones. iPhone users can't use it, however. Amazon vs. Apple is on!

With the CD becoming less and less popular, the next generation of adults may well have grown up using the cloud player. As our lives become more and more virtual, with friends online, communication online, is the next thing to go the music collection?

There's a really cool article in The Independent newspaper which discusses the cloud player and its implications. Check it out at http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/amazon-vs-apple-the-race-for-the-future-of-music-2256736.html.

Dude, Where's My Guitar?

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

I study music which means I'm shoved in the same block as many a stoned, heavy rock-obsessed, smelly loser. Meandering one's way through this lot can be quite the task sometimes, but having to listen to their conversation in the smoking area at Uni whilst trying to chuff on some of Virginia's finest plants can be even more annoying.

So yesterday, there I am minding my own, puffing away, when a couple of spotty wretches clad in hoodies with 'Tool' and 'Him' printed on them approach the NHS burdens' standing point.

Wretch 1 looks at Wretch 2 and, I shit you not, utters the words "dude, where's my guitar?" It's at this point I can barely hide my smirk. Have they never seen that dodgy stoner film with Ashton Kutcher in it, which (rather unsubtly) parodies morons just like them? It's called Dude Where's My Car?

The wretches

Fucking ridiculous I'm sure you'll agree. I stubbed out, walked off and thought to myself "I wonder if they have 'Sweet' and 'Dude' tattoos?"

What's more annoying in all this is that they went off to look for the guitar and neither of them saw how ridiculous this all was. Sorry if you happen to be a bit of a long-haired Camden Town dweller reading this and I've offended you, but that was just mental!

5 of the Best - Summer

Friday, 25 March 2011

We're experiencing something of a premature summer here in England, which, after a shitty winter, is most welcome. With that in mind, here is 5 of the Best to do with summer...

Bob Marley and the Wailers - Sun is Shining: One heavy, heavy bassline juxtaposed with seriously syncopated harmonies, the mystic air of what may well be a clarinet of some description and Marley's superb, defiant vocal. One of his best, and that is saying something.

The Fifth Dimension - Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine: One gorgeous, colourful, psychedelic track which can't fail to lift the spirits.


Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine

The Beach Boys - Surfin' U.S.A.: OK, doesn't really talk of the summer, but you wouldn't surf in the winter would you? Ok, you might, but this track is purely one for the summer.

The Beatles - Good Day Sunshine: Another one of those summery tracks that instantly makes you happy from the moment you press play.


Good Day Sunshine

Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince - Summertime: It's cheesy, it's a bit naff, but my god it gets you in the mood for summer.

Great Songs: Iggy Pop - The Passenger

Thursday, 24 March 2011


Iggy - Looks a tad like WWE's Shawn Micheals, don't he?

One day, back sometime in the mid-70s, Ricky Gardiner (co-writer of The Passenger) had a chord progression stuck in his head and thought it was damn catchy. He ran straight to his guitar and whacked out the chords that would become one of the catchiest, most irresistible riffs in rock history. That riff was The Passenger. Iggy Pop would put a fine lyric and vocal on it and before long it was born. The pair had written a truly great song.


The Passenger

Iggy's lyric which is the embodiment of do it yourself, nomadic punk attitude may well be one of the most inspiring pieces of prose ever written. He summons up Kerouacian imagery of being out on the road driving through the city and paints the glory, the buzz and the cesspit feel of it all. Speaking of "the city's ripped backsides" and painting himself as some kind of Dean Moriarty character with "I am the passenger".

Musically, The Passenger is a pretty simple song. What Gardiner and Iggy did with the song is probably one of the hardest tricks to pull off - they took a simple harmony and vocal melody and penned an instant classic.

That it was released in 1977 just adds to the punk romanticism of a truly great song.

Unsigned Call From Over Hadrian’s Wall: Act 2 - Crow Road

Monday, 21 March 2011

If mainstream, popular indie is what you want, then that is what you get with Crow Road. In fact if it isn’t what you want that’s what you get anyway, and you get the feeling these guys make no bones about what they are.

Comparisons have been made to Vampire Weekend and The View, but this band has more in common with indie bands with loftier aspirations. Crow Road, in fact, sound a lot like a Caledonian Kings of Leon. Though it is fair to say that the band maybe don’t have the blues and country as rooted into their sound as Kings of Leon, the fact that the down-home music of America has so much in common with Celtic folk music must be pointed out. Crow Road’s folk inspired sound has all the hallmarks of KoL’s blues inspired sound. So, as it is, front man Paul Gibson’s blue note-heavy, primal scream therapy vocal timbre is extremely comparable to that of Caleb Followill. Gibson’s rather pronounced Scottishness has a similarity to Folowill’s rather pronounced Confederate State voice.


Crow Road

Musically, the band has a sound which is like nothing you’ve heard before… that is, if you’ve been set under a cave in Africa with only the sound of banging two rocks together as your sole sonic entertainment. Yes, these Glaswegians do generally stick to the tried and tested formula of a bit of jangly guitar, standard form and structure and catchy choruses. This is no bad thing, however. Crow Road have a way with a tune and if Shrivels and Peaks fails to get your toes-a-tapping then Panda Season will certainly do the job. They don’t mind showing off their softer side either, with Rebecca’s Song being a lovely little melancholic number which showcases the harsh beauty of Gibson’s voice and guitar playing against the talents of lead guitarist Jamie Turner.

Crow Road have all of the ingredients that are necessary to go on to Killer’s style indie domination. Their polished indie rock certainly has a market. Working out where they go from here is their choice and if they decide to keep up the good work and keep banging out sing-along indie, then one feels destiny has a lucrative and fame-drenched future waiting for them. Crow Road have the necessary cogs; they just have to make sure that their machine keeps chugging away.

What Did You Expect From The Vaccines - Review

4.5/5

So here they come hurtling towards us with their debut album: Britain’s new ‘it’ band, The Vaccines. One thing to note here is that nothing is really new, no new ground is covered, but it is a fine album. The Vaccines have had all the right plaudits, from BBC 6 Music to The Guardian and with What Did You… they have shown why.

The album as a whole is a reverb-heavy nod to the post-punk of Joy Division, Blondie and The Cure, but kicks off in the vein of Punk with the Ramones-style, short, sharp and shocking attitude of Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra). We then go flying into the sing-along second track (and second single release) If You Wanna where the (God is it back again?) post-punk revival kicks in.

Fifth track Wetsuit has the summer festival, anthemic appeal that The Strokes were once capable of creating and straight after that is Norgaard, which exactly halfway through reignites The Ramones’ punchy, straight-up call.


The Vaccines - So Big Right Now

Post Break-Up Sex has been playing on the radio for a while now and is probably the album’s best track and after it the album doesn’t again get as thrilling until the hidden 12th track Somebody Else’s Child, which is a truly sombre affair, but stunningly sonically and lyrically emotional.

The Vaccines may well be the band on everyone’s lips at the moment and some may moan that they’re not that exciting, but it would be difficult to argue that they don’t have a way with a tune.

Four Tet

Saturday, 19 March 2011

My girlfriend has been playing a lot of Four Tet (Kieran Hebden) recently and I must say; I love it. I'm a bit behind she tells me. No shit! He's been going since 1998.

Anyway, better late than never. Hebden's work seems to often ignore the norms of form and structure and treat each piece as some kind of abstract wonder. It lends the music an art aesthetic and maybe has more to do with Shoenberg than, say, Springsteen.


Four Tet

He uses each melody almost as a sample which can be dropped out or reintroduced whenever. It really is quite thrilling stuff.

I advise anybody reading this that isn't familiar with Four Tet to check out Angel Echoes, Love Cry and Circling right away.

Yuck - Live Review

Friday, 18 March 2011

Yuck
Night & Day Café, Manchester
****

Popular music these days can often have a Groundhog Day feel about it. Once the ‘90s infatuation with the ‘60s was over along came the ‘00s obsession with late ‘70s post punk, ‘80s synth-pop and then late ‘80s/early ‘90s rave. It can feel these days that each movement such as nu-rave or indie is actually just a regurgitation and repetition of a previous movement and when it’s over it comes back. With that in mind we come to tonight’s headliners, Yuck, at Manchester’s uber-trendy Northern Quarter hangout Night & Day Café. The route that Yuck have gone for in this era of wearing your influence on your sleeve is to resurrect the sound of 1980s American alt-rock such as Sonic Youth and The Pixies, and they do it rather well.

Back during the aforementioned ‘00s ‘indie-darlings/next big things’ scene a group called Cajun Dance Party were making all the right moves and Camden Town was swinging to their tight grooves, but as with many of these new kids on the block types, Cajun Dance Party folded before Libertines-esque stardom arrived. Out of this rabble singer Danny and bassist Max (now plying his trade as a guitarist) have teamed up with a female bassist from Hiroshima called Mariko and Johnny, a drummer from New Jersey who stands at roughly Peter Crouch height, Martin Johnson breadth and sports the kind of ‘fro that Don King would be proud of.


Yuck - Which one's Johnny?

All the talk amongst the fag-smoking crowd outside the rather tiny Night & Day, before Yuck take to the stage, is of this burgeoning (or rather revivalist) sound with the support act, Fanzine, having just finished their set of Teenage Fanclub/R.E.M. hybrid noise. The all knowing cool-kids are all ready and waiting for Yuck to come on and do something similar, but hopefully better. After extinguishing a cancer stick I decide to join the massive queue for the bar, hoping to be served an ice-cold Red Stripe before the band jump on the stage. Beer in hand (20 minutes later, God crowds are awful) I perch up near the sound desk (placed right next to the dance floor) and, with that, on come Yuck to rapturous applause.

Sandwiched in between all manner of fashionable indie-types sweating over each other and spilling lager, I am forced to join in to the dancing as set-opener and single Holing Out comes flying out of the P.A. like some kind of distorted, yet oh-so-clear menace. As clear as day Danny’s voice sounds more Seattle than North London (his hometown) with backing vocals from Max, who, after an electrified version of usually acoustic number Suicide Policeman, hails Fanzine as “amaaazzziiing”, as if trying to capture the rhetoric of the Facebook generation crowd in here in some kind of verbal abridge, only without being ironic.

As the set moves through good tracks from the new eponymous album release, such as Stutter and Rose Gives a Lily, the soundscape of this group in a live setting dawns upon me as being fuzzbox freak-outs with a touch of that shoegaze appeal which may never have left Danny and Max from their days in Cajun Dance Party. Mariko ably chugs her bass through the tracks and Johnny, hair and all, crashes away at the skins like a thing possessed. By now much of the crowd are drunk, which is helping the atmosphere no-end and I, with a fresh beer in hand, am starting to have a whale of a time.


Holing Out

Set closer Rubber comes around quicker than one of tonight’s crowd-members to an Oxfam shop on a Saturday, but then refuses to end for a while, which should come as no surprise given that it clocks in at a rather voracious 7 minutes and 14 seconds as the album’s closer. The last three minutes of this see Night & Day filled with feedback, fuzz and wah as the band decide to rock-out and provide a rather exhilarating climax to a show which may well lack in terms of originality, but in sheer force-of-presence and style has it all. Yuck thank their adoring public as they step off stage, and, having earlier announced that they “only play London, America and Manchester, ‘coz Manchester’s so fucking cooool”, I think they may well have won a few friends amongst the Manchester gig-going crowd which is not exactly known for its self-deprecating stance on its ‘coolness’, or its music scene. Sweat wiped off a completely un-furrowed brow I dive in a taxi happy with what was a very good evening’s entertainment from a group that may yet prove an unerring force in 2011 (or whatever year this is).

5 of the Best - Nate Dogg

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

In the wake of Nate's death, here's 5 of the best songs he graced...

Warren G & Nate Dogg - Regulate: "Reeeeguuuulaaatoorrs". Maybe his most famous song and a hip-hop staple. Using a sample from I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near), the two pair Warren's calm rapping with Nate's ultra-cool vocals.


Regulate

Nate Dogg - I Need A Bitch: Any song that opens with "I need me a bitch/with some big old thighs" is a winner.

213 - Groupie Love: Snoop, Nate and Warren wax lyrical about their need for some sex with a groupie, very funny.

Eminem feat. Nate Dogg - 'Til I Collapse: Set against We Will Rock You drums, Eminem lets loose with a ferocious rap in the verses while Nate provides the perfect foil in the choruses. Great track.


'Til I Collapse

2Pac feat. Nate Dogg - All About You: Here Nate lets us know about a girl he sees on every video shoot going, and he's not happy about it!

R.I.P. Nate Dogg

Obituary - R.I.P. Nate Dogg

Nate Dogg is dead. Long live G-Funk.

Reports this morning are that 41 year old hip-hop legend Nate Dogg has passed away. Nate was one of hip-hop's most charismatic and distinctive voices throughout the '90s and '00s and will be sorely missed.


Nate Dogg

He scored big with hits such as Regulate (with Warren G) and Groupie Love (with 213) and was well known for his smooth, soulful baritone.

Nate was best known for his collaborative work with the likes of 2Pac, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Warren G and always brought a fresh slant to any song he worked on.

Thoughts are with his family.

Nate Dogg - R.I.P.

Great Songs: The Beatles - In My Life

I've often thought that when George Harrison was writing When We Was Fab with Jeff Lynne, he must have had In My Life rattling around in his head. To me, no other song manages to capture those brilliant days of '62 - '66 Beatledom quite like this track. Before Yoko, before the squabbles, arguably before they'd made their best run of albums, The Beatles made this song, which can be found on 1965's Rubber Soul.


Rubber Soul

The simplicity of it is certainly a huge factor in its overall beauty. George Harrison's oh so simple guitar refrain just has all of that down. Nostalgic, melancholic, powerful. The instrumental bridge was actually all of George Martin's work, having realised he couldn't play the part at the song's tempo, Martin recorded it at half-tempo (which leads to it being one octave lower) and simply sped it up, leading to that harpsichord-like timbral sound.

The lyric is Lennon looking back over his childhood in Liverpool after being told to do so by Kenneth Allsop (journalist). Without pointing out any specific part of Liverpool, Lennon manages to lead you into the city through rather more vague terms.


In My Life

This song makes me think of Liverpool. It makes me think of The Beatles 'when they was fab'. It sends a shiver down my spine every time I hear it. Any song which can provoke that kind of transcendental, emotional, irrational response can only be labelled as great.

Obviously The Beatles have many great songs and it's always a hard question to answer ("what's your favourite Beatles song?") but this does rank very highly on the list. So high in fact that Mojo mag named it the greatest song of all time in 2000.

Unsigned Call From Over Hadrian’s Wall: Act 1 - Male Pattern Band

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Today marks the start of a weekly post in which I fill you in about a new unsigned band from... Scotland (hence over Hadrian's Wall). Hope you enjoy it!

If you are in anyway a fan of the output of late ‘80s/early ‘90s Seattle label Sub Pop then read on! Glasgow's Male Pattern Band have the kind of lo-fi sensibility coupled with catchy hooks which could easily have been released through that label. Their recording ethos seems quite simple; hit ‘em with one take of distorted guitar, semi-pissed-off vocal, dry as hell drums and barely audible bass. The verses lull, the choruses scream and one gets the feeling this rabble spend half their time necking Glasgow's finest malt (or Buckfast) and the other half trying to convey the kind of sonic message that the likes of Yuck are having quite a bit of success with right now.

The band’s self confessed stance is “junkyard pop” (incidentally the name of their self-released 2010 EP) and one listen to the tracks Wilt and Raining (from that disc) leaves one with little argument against this summarisation.


The Junkyard Pop EP Artwork - Lo-fi visual art

Having had a couple of notable support slots for the likes of The Vaccines and The Smith Westerns, it seems MPB may be causing a bit of a stir in that easiest of arenas to do so: the indie underground and you can see why as this group do have some catchy tunes. It feels, as you listen to the rather crude recordings, that if they are produced in just a slightly more polished fashion, the kind of praise and success currently being eaten up by the aforementioned Yuck may be bestowed upon them as well.

As it is, MPB conjure up nostalgic memories of some of America’s greatest alternative and garage rock groups. Cable Cloth, also from The Junkyard Pop EP, has the slow-burning, heroin-chic glamour of The Velvet Underground, Pouring is a hybrid of Strokes-cool and The Stooges mayhem and The Last Supper has a Sonic Youth appeal juxtaposed with the ramshackle of The Libertines (British, I know).


The Male Pattern Band - Live!

Glasgow may not have the glamorous musical history of London, New York or New Orleans, but Male Pattern Band could be emerging at just the right time to change all that. Lo-fi is on the up again, maybe as a reaction to the last few years of silkily produced synth-pop and soul revivalism, and these young men (guitarist/singer/songwriter Chris Mcrory, bassist Craig Nock and drummer Gareth Wilson) could ride on the crest of this wave. They could, however, fall underneath its weight as so many of those late ‘80s/early ‘90s types did.

Email the band at: contact@malepatternband.com Check out their website where you can download the EP for free at: www.malepatternband.com

Ron Sexsmith - Believe It When I See It

Monday, 14 March 2011

***
Ron Sexsmith has been receiving critical acclaim for his songwriting for years. He's had endorsements from big name acts such as Paul McCartney, but so far not much mainstream sales success. It's a funny one because Sexsmith has all the hallmarks of one that should have by now, well his music does anyway. Generally, Ron's stuff is full of catchy hooks and well worked harmonies and is nearly always produced in a polished fashion. It really is funny how some make it huge and others don't, even though both can share such similar qualities.


Sexsmith - Looks a little like that one out of Keane doesn't he? Nice.

Anyway, it's business as usual here for Sexsmith with a really nice vocal melody and a great, if slightly standard, arrangement. The hook line of "see it with my own two eyes" really could have been written by anyone, granted, but overall it's nice. Maybe herein lies the problem, it's just nice.

In any case if this track can feel a little cheesy, it's also perfect to hear on the radio whilst driving or doing the dishes. There's some really good George Harrison style guitar parts and the album it comes from Long Player Late Bloomer is not bad either.

Verdict: Not breaking any barriers down, but not nauseating either.

5 of the Best - Storms

Saturday, 12 March 2011

I offer my deepest sympathies to all those affected by the Japan Tsunami and with that in mind offer 5 songs with natural disatsters, floods, storms, earthquakes and whatever else in the title, theme or lyric.

Bob Dylan - Hurricane: In Bob Dylan's rather extensive and brilliant back catalogue one can find many highlights. This number is certainly one. Written about the plight of boxer Ruben 'Hurricane' Carter the song tackles the issue of '60s racism like maybe no other.


Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan - A Hard Rain's Gonna' Fall: Another Dylan classic from his superb Freewheelin' album.

The Doors - Riders on the Storm: Jim Morrison's eerie, haunting vocal leaves one with the proverbial brown stuff in the boxers and that riff! Undeniably beautiful, yet undeniably disgusting.

Led Zeppelin - When the Levee Breaks: The sheer force of Led Zeppelin's cover of Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie's blues belter is instant from pressing play. Led Zep manage to capture the true force of a storm in one song. It is the sonic representation of natural disaster.


Led Zeppelin

T-Bone Walker - Stormy Monday Blues: Another blues classic which quite literally scares the life out of me every time I hear it!

The Gospel's Little Brother

Friday, 11 March 2011

Just a quick post to say that I have set up another blog with some of my academic work on it, I kind of nicked the idea from my mate Ryan who's got his own academic blog at thealbatrossreivew.blogspot.com, check that out as well, it's very good. My academic blog can be found at lukeclohertyacademic.blogspot.com. Hope it is to your liking!

What I'm Into Recently

A quick glance through previous posts may well let you know about certain artists I like. Coverage of The Clash, Beatles, Eminem, The Smiths and MGMT was rife in the old regime... and may still feature heavily in the new one. This blog, however, as it is kicking off again needs to feature some other shit. So, here's a quick list of 3 acts I've got into heavily recently (one of them rather belatedly so).

1. Bibio - Warp Records in general have caught my interest recently. Having known about Warp for years as being a kind of weird, leftfield Electronica label and through admiration of Aphex Twin (probably the label's most well known artist) I can't believe it's only really been in the last year that I've developed any kind of further interest in the label. Anyway, Bibio is a relatively new artist on their roster whose 2009 debut Ambivalence Avenue is absolutely brilliant. Use of 'real noise', samples and distorting acoustic guitar parts give the record a really fresh, exciting feel. Check him out!


Bibio

2. Boards of Canada - BOC are another Warp act, but one which was around in the 1990s, rather than now. They heavily influenced Radiohead during the OK Computer and (especially) Kid A sessions and also influenced the abovementioned Bibio greatly. Fantastic.

3. Vieux Farka Toure - Son of world-famous Mali blues man Ali, Vieux is very promising. His 2009 album release Fondo showcases his fine guitar playing and emotive vocals and works really well as a whole piece. Fafa is the stand-out track so far in his canon but you just feel with Vieux that so much more is to come.


Vieux Farka Toure

I'm Back For Good (Not a Take That Reference)

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Right, I'm back blogging and this time it's serious, no more quitting. I'm going to review new music, I'm going to run the feature on great songs and re-start the 5 of the Best things and post shit in general. Very soon I will be running an unsigned talent feature, just as soon as the guy who's meant to be sorting me out with a load to review gets back to me. So keep your eyes peeled if you follow (not many I know) and if you don't follow, then start!