Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Moon, spoon, June...

After watching The Brit Awards 2012 and hearing some truly lame music from the 'winners' and 'nominees' it did get my mind whirring into overdrive about some of the worst lyrics committed to tape in the name of song. The first one that started my ears twitching was during the evening when Noel Gallagher sung that he was going to "take that tiger outside for a ride"...I see. Long way from 'Cigarettes and Alcohol'.

Here are a few other choice lines from artists that are in some cases universally loved ones, but have still managed to slide a few stinkers under the radar.

Your Song - Elton John = The offending line "If I was a sculptor, but then again no"...what! Are you manually changing the lyrics of the song as you're singing them? Like a audio black marker pen scribbling a line out as it leaves your lips.

Don't Pass me By - The Beatles = The offending line "I'm sorry that I doubted you, I was so unfair, You were in a car crash, and you lost your hair"... Good to see Ringo's bedside manner has improved over the years as getting the 3rd degree from him while you lie in casualty seems the least of your worries.

Freakin' Out - Graham Coxon = The offending line "Nothing to prove,nothing to say La la la la la la la lay"...Damon wept.

Jailbreak - Thin Lizzy = The offending line "Tonight there's gonna be a jailbreak somewhere in this town"...well,well...where could that possibly be? A jail perhaps?

Wiggle Wiggle - Bob Dylan = The offending line "Wiggle,wiggle,wiggle like a bowl of soup"...the man that penned "The hollow horn plays wasted words, proves to warn, that he not busy being born, is busy dying" is submitting songs about soup is quite a kick in the balls.

and we finish here where we started with the governor, ladies and gentlemen Noel Gallagher.

I Can See A Liar - Oasis = The offending line...lets just say the whole song and be done with it. Gems such as "I can see a liar, sitting by the fire, trouble in his heart, laughing at the thought."..."Coming as he goes into overdose, I wonder what he feels to me"...beyond apology and something that should be buried in the north sea in a concrete box so that it's never heard again.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

45 is the new 27

I was surprised to hear that Kurt Cobain would have been 45 years old yesterday. I don’t really know why I’m surprised as he was 27 when he committed suicide in 1994 so simple maths would bring you to this stage, I just think that I remember being at a certain age when the event happened and how it helped shape my teenage years so if he is 45 then that would make me…*deleted * years old…eek!

There is no doubt that Kurt Cobain was a major talent and a trendsetter/maverick who either conscious or subconsciously changed music from the hair metal, LA rock of the late 80s early 90s and overnight turned glitter and spandex into converse and lumber jack shirts. Suddenly people were name dropping Daniel Johnston instead of WASP and ‘punk rock’ seemed to be the genre to belong to as metal was looking silly, the late 80’s indie pop seemed too lightweight and the less said about 2 Unlimited ‘No Limit’ the better for everyone.

Nirvana brought heart and authenticity back to rock and roll; it was finally reclaimed by the musicians from the managers and shareholders of big business and everyone’s personal ambition seemed to be getting a record out on SUBPOP rather than having a guitar shaped swimming pool and stretched limo. Once again it was about integrity and the art itself. It succeeded where punk had failed and become corrupted and lost under slogans and 6th form politics.

From a personal point of view the effect of Kurt and Nirvana was immense, they actually changed my career path overnight, I was positive that art and animation was the area I wanted to be involved in, music was something you listened to for fun in the background the block out the silences. After listening to ‘Nevermind’ for the 1st time (of many, many, many listens)it was obvious that making a talking dog skateboard or something was never going to match up to Dave Grohl’s drumming on ‘Breed’ for excitement so for all intense purposes the game was up. The 1990’s was definitely a two fold genre as far as music was concerned and Nirvana/Grunge was the start, this was the flag in the ground that put an end to cowboy boots on rock stars and lipstick/fake eyelashes on bassists and hallelujah just for that.

The 'not including Smells Like Teen Spirit list'

01) Serve The Servants (just for the guitar solo alone, THIS is what Dylan was looking for when he wanted 'that thin wild mercury sound')#

02) Dive (one from the B-sides/odds and sods album 'Incesticide')

3) Lithium (The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, Oasis at Knebworth, Radiohead at Glastonbury 97', Nirvana at Reading Festival 1992)

4) Breed (air drums, air guitar, if you split the word mosh pit in half it would leak this song)

5) All Apologies (From the 'In Utero' album which although was more raw in sound also featured some of Kurt's most beautiful tracks, this one especially)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Band of Skulls LIVE@XOYO

Last night’s gig at Old Streets XOYO to see Band of Skulls started where the majority of my reviews start…in a bar. Not the venue where the show will take place but a little haunt near the venue that won’t be too crowded, has a good jukebox and serves some kind of bar snacks. The atmosphere is one of Kerouac quotes, Sid Vicious portraits and the music manages to tightrope between well chosen and random acts of shuffle. As the drinks are consumed and the blanket of warmness protects me from the cold I start to ‘think write’ the piece you the reader are reading at this moment. As my journey from the 9-5 meant I’d be a good hour and half early for this evening’s festivity it seemed only necessary that I should frequent a few bars on the way and fully take in the ambiance of Old Street and gap-year life.

By the time I entered the venue shortly after half past 8 I was fully prepared to ignore the bottled beer and plastic glasses and instead absorb the venue and crowd reactions. The first band on were the relatively new Static Jacks who seemed so happy and professional to be here you couldn’t help but will them to do good (great drummer to.) There were a few tuning problems that weren’t even close enough for jazz but mostly the songs were fast, direct and to the point. The only downside was the posturing and carefully prepared ‘crazy’ moves by the lead singer which seemed to draw attention to the in-authenticity of the set but overall their slot was one that showed promise once their direction has been fully finalised.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. were the 2nd act on and for me they presented a genuine surprise with their mix of The Beta Band and Flaming Lips structures. The group themselves played a well arranged and exciting pop set with band members casually swapping between string and percussion instrumentation throughout while managing to keep their own musical ideals strong in each song. They are definitely one to watch and I will be foraging for their records.

The main act tonight was the mighty Band of Skulls, a band in all honesty I hadn’t heard that much of. I had heard a few singles that I thought sounded a bit like the White Stripes (which is never a bad thing) but seeing them first hand running their set with gusto showed that I’m more than happy to take a seat and chow down on some humble pie with a side order of sour grapes as they are great in their own right. More Zeppelin than the Son House and Flat Duo Jets influence that lead Jack White in all his guises, Band of Skulls have definitely carved out their own style and sound and have complete control over their stage set.

Their set was full and long and included the first single from the new ‘Sweet Sour’ album (out 21st February) ‘The Devil Takes Care of His Own’ as well as ‘Patterns’ and ‘Death By Diamonds and Pearls’ from their debut and which were among the highlights. While each song is similar in their riff-verse-chorus arrangements the overall production and time signatures keep each one fresh from the previous and are stamped with their own fuzzy signature. Musically everyone is playing full tilt and with bassist/backing vocalist Emma Richardson deserving special kudos for matching Lead Singer and Guitar wizard Russell Marsden note for note throughout. While the duelling guitars fight it out it’s only down to the Bonham drums licks of Matt Hayward which hold everything together and keep it funky enough to stop the whole thing turning into Metal.

Tonight’s show was the forerunner for the bands Live UK tour and I believe throughout 2012 they will be one of the bands you should make an effort to see.

Special thanks to Rhianon Davies at 9PR

Sunday, 12 February 2012

IC1s interview February 2012

With 2012 looking to be the year that London band IC1s break through into the mainstream I managed to catch up with them before their show at London's legendary Borderline venue for a few questions about the bands direction, ambitions and carrying the torch for true Rock and Roll music.

The interview was with Dan (lead vocals), Jesse (guitar), John (guitar), Jacob (bass) and Andy (Drums)

With the music industry declining in physical album sales and the world of downloads and file sharing on the increase do you still see the concept of an ‘album’ as being important to the band?

Absolutely. People nowadays tend to pick their favourites from an album rather than downloading the whole thing. Albums should read like a story and each track lead nicely into the next. Only playing your favourite tracks loses the magic of music – John

Do you write singles as ‘singles’ or do they tend to just stick out more in the set as the more commercial tracks?

With regards to writing, I never set out to write a single, they just come out that way. If I wrote down a list of our songs on a piece of paper, all we have to do to pick the singles is close our eyes and point - Dan

Are there any bands out on the circuit or currently making records that you feel a kinship and affinity for as being on the same wavelength musically?

I don’t think there are any bands out there making the music we are. We’ve played with so many bands made up of ball bags from Hoxton with retro Casio keyboards playing the same shit as the shit band before them. I like Tribes and Exiles, they are both decent guitar bands - Jesse

You play both club and venue gigs as well as summer festivals; do you think you need to ‘perform’ more when playing festival slots as the crowd is further away than in smaller venues where they are face to face?

Nah, we just get up and do our thing no matter where we are. Gotta love a giant stage but the sweat boxes are the best ones. Until we’ve headlined Glastonbury in 2013, I don’t think that’ll change. - John

What is your opinion in the commonly held viewpoint among some in the music press that “guitar music is on the way out”…

I think it’s stupid. The press are always moaning about the fact that there are no good guitar bands, begging for the next guitar band, “Is this the return of the guitar band?” so that itself suggests that people still want to hear it, but unlike IC1s most of it is shit. So I’d say shit guitar music is on the way out, so we’re safe. - Jesse

It’s said that bands have their whole life to make their debut album. Are you writing a lot of songs for possible inclusion then picking from the best or is the debut going to be simply an accurate picture of your current live set?

Bit of both I guess, we want to make the best debut album and judging on the reactions we get live, we know we can do that! - Dan

What are IC1’s plans for 2012?

Keep building. Get out on tour in the UK and Australia and hopefully do an album. Obviously the first two singles did well but we’ve a long way to go yet. No sleep till Wembley Stadium. - Jesse

You had sponsorship recently with Lambretta clothing, would you say this is the type of scene and image you want IC1s to be part of i.e. more Mod then Rock?

I don’t think you can ignore our mod influences, but I wouldn’t call us mod at all. We are as much mod as we are rock. Lambretta wanted to throw a grands worth of sharp clothes at us, we were hardly going to say no. I don’t think we fit into any stereotype which is great. - Jesse

With the return of The Stone Roses and more recently The Happy Mondays in 2012 it’s fair to say that early 90’s music and culture is going to be making a return this year, is this something you want to be associated with or do you think its dangerous to be labelled as ‘retro’ before you’ve even started?

Mani (from The Stone Roses) came and watched us at 'Friends Of Mine Festival' in the summer and came over and told us he “Fucking loved it” and there’s been rumours on the web circulating that we are going to support The Stone Roses at Heaton Park since then. Genius. We are all Stone Roses fans, so are happy to be associated with them. - Andy

You’re playing The Borderline in London on the 12th February, how do you feel about playing such an historic venue that has such a rich history of great bands/artists perform there before you? Inspiring or nerve racking?

I’m really happy about it. I’ve always wanted to play there so I can’t wait. We don’t really get nervous anymore, we want to play at bigger venues and to as many people as we can. The Borderline is what this band is all about. - Jacob

thank you

IC1s will be playing The Borderline as part of the 'Next Big Thing' shows on the 12th February.!/ic1s

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Harry Nilsson

As the milestone year that was my 30th birthday slowly draws to a close (in just under 2 months) one of the discoveries that have been an influence on my listening habits this year has been the introduction of Harry Nilsson. For those of you that have no idea who I’m talking about then no matter, you soon will and hopefully by the end of this piece would have flickered onto Spotify or YouTube or even gone and actually bought one of his many records.

Harry Nilsson was a real talent and was welcomed into the inner circle of all the big hitters of the day without question. In 1968 during a press conference for Apple John Lennon and Paul McCartney were both asked for their favourite artist and group currently making records and both without hesitation answered “Nilsson”, and to put this in perspective 1968 was the year of ‘Astral Weeks’ by Van Morrison, ‘Electric Ladyland’ by Jimi Hendrix, ‘Music from the Big Pink’ by The Band and of course ‘The White Album’ by The Beatles themselves. Not to say that Nilsson’s album of that year ('Aerial Ballet') is better than all of those mentioned but instead just proving what a truly inspiring and influential artists on the scene he was at the highest levels. In fact in the mid 70’s when Lennon explored L.A during his fabled ‘Lost Weekend’ it was Harry that joined as his partner in crime and room-mate along with Keith Moon at their apartment (imagine those parties.) His abilities and talents were so appreciated by Lennon that Harry even sat in McCartney's seat as Lennon's first non-YOKO writing collaborator since The Beatles for the song 'Old Dirt Road' for John's 'Walls and Bridges' album.

Harry Nilsson music career really got started when he begun writing for other artists, and with the use of super producers such as Phil Spector using his talents for his own acts and releases managed to help spread his name around the business, even if the general public were still in the dark until his own solo material was released. Some of these records during these early days included ‘Paradise’ for The Ronettes, the classic ‘This Could Be the Night’ by The Modern Folk Quartet (and later covered by Brian Wilson) and even ‘Daddy’s Song’ which was covered by The Monkees in their movie ‘Head’.

Nilsson was a true artist that carved his own way into the industry and although didn’t have as many hits as his contemporaries still had a few standout classics that are universally known around the world even if his name isn’t. They include songs such as 'Without You' the Badfinger track that Harry made into a massive hit (number 1 in both the USA and UK), along with his contribution to the movie 'Midnight Cowboy' with his own take on the Fred Neil song 'Everybody's Talkin' (which went on to win the Grammy no less) are songs that just exist within their own realm and once you are aware of the discography and work will feel a spark of general smugness as they appear throughout Martin Scorsese films and you hear people muttering “is that The Stones?, nah…its Lennon, nope it sounds like *insert random band name here*. Nilsson was a singer with a velvet voice and although year by year tore it to shreds through hard living and loving still produced a true legacy of work that should be appreciated, from the great American songbook covers to his own written work, dive in ears first.

Although he has now left this mortal coil will be listened to and discovered with each new generation. Go and explore the world of Harry Nilsson and if you’re buying mines a Brandy Alexander, cheers.

Here's some to get you going...

*Everybody's Talkin'
*Me And My Arrow
*Without You
*I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City
*Jump Into The Fire
*Remember (Christmas)
*Gotta Get Up
*You're Breakin' My Heart