Tag: NME

Musical notes

Over the past two years, driven largely by my previous co-workers I’ve been exposed to a wider amount and range of music than I have for many a year. On average I was buying at least two albums a month (the large majority being MP3s from iTunes, although the lure of FOPP still resides), none of which were really ‘chart music’ albums. That’s not to say that all chart music is rubbish, far from it. In fact I’m beginning to spot that the charts are starting to reflect a more eclectic set of tastes and I’m guessing that the accessibility of music through MP3 downloads is finally beginning to drive a change to the music industry. The disappointment is, of course, that they still aren’t really embracing this change.

It’s fairly obvious that radio plays are no longer the only way to ‘force’ a track to the top of the pops and, after the demise of the TV show of the same name, it’s even more apparent that the charts themselves are no longer deemed necessary by a whole generation of music lovers. I’m unsure how big an impact MySpace has as it’s not something I’m part of, but the general idea of communities forming around bands, and driving sales and downloads of similar music, seems to be more obvious as each month passes.

With that in mind, the main issue for music lovers (well, for me at least) is where we go to find pertinent reviews and information about the types of music we enjoy. The standard press offerings, NME for example, are all well and good but are still somewhat mainstream. Where do we go to find the out who is going to be ‘next big thing’?

I currently rely on PitchFork to supply information and potential suggestions for new music, and of course the power of word of mouth should never be discounted with the occasional recommendation from fellow bloggers being enough to ‘tip’ me in the direction of new listens. I guess that is the power of Last.fm, which is something I should spend some more time with I guess (I still treat it as a ‘log’ rather than somewhere to explore and discover new music, odd that).

In the meantime, I’ve been digging through the albums I bought in the latter half of last year, several of which didn’t really get a full spin on the playlist, and I’ve loaded them up alongside some more recent purchases I’ve made in the past couple of days.

The old stuff I haven’t listened to properly:

  • Datarock
  • CSS – Cansei de ser sexy
  • Lady Sovereign – Public Warning (mike is to blame for this, although I’ve had it for over a year now)

And some new stuff:

  • Deerhoof – Friend Opportunity – initial impressions are favourable.
  • Menomena – Friend and Foe – initial impressions are unstable.
  • The Decemberists – The Crane Wife – inital impression is “samey”.
  • The Good, The Bad and The Queen – falling heavily into ‘meh’ category.

It’s always good to ‘re-discover’ albums, but that has inherent limitations. So, it’s over to you my dearest music loving reader, where do YOU go to keep up-to-date with the latest music? Spill the beans!

Ohh and if you know anyone who wants a ticket to the Monday night Arcade Fire gig at the Barrowlands in March, let me know.

T in the Park

My feet hurt!

Having spent the past two days, wandering round a field, stumbling over tonnes of discarded plastic pint glasses, inhaling enough second-hand hits to keep me high for a week, and only once almost kicking over someone’s line of coke… I have to declare that – T in the Park was fucking excellent.

Saturday was a bit of a washout, no it didn’t rain, but our bus to the site was held up by some rather spectacular examples of the species nedous arseholous. By the time we arrived we managed to catch the final chords from British Sea Power’s set, but decided to go and chill out in the hospitality area first. After a few liquid refreshments (unfortunately the sponsor’s beverage was the tipple of choice, or rather for lack of one), Faithless on the main stage were our next target. They took advantage of the ‘festival’ format by cranking out all the big hits, top stuff indeed, and an ideal band to put on at that time as they really got the place going, and managed to lift us from our ned induced funk. Highlights were new single Weapons of Mass Destruction and God is a DJ (of course).

After that we wandered round and crammed into King Tuts Wah Wah Tent to catch Ash. I’m not a huge fan but they were pretty sharp, and got the 20,000 or so people in the tent bouncing along.

Ben Kweller was next of my list, after some refreshments of course, and he was the first in a series of disappointments. Not that I got to hear him perform as the disappointment arose because the tent he was in was full by the time we got there. Arse! So apologies to Gillian and Robyn, I’ll grab one of his albums and find out what all the fuss is about.

That disappointment was to occur three more times, the next most notably being Basement Jaxx in the Slam tent. The queue to get in wasn’t even a queue (as in a line) it was more a melee of several thousand people all trying to get into the tent despite the signs saying FULL. Note to the organisers, some of the ‘dance’ acts should be on one of the stages!!! Glastonbury can do it, why can’t you!!!!! So, thoroughly pissed off at not seeing Basement Jaxx, we wandered about, caught a few songs of the Charlatans set (yawn) and decided to pitch up early in time for Muse (a good decision as even then we were pretty far back). We caught the last few tracks from the Libertines (average), and waited. As a headline act I was a bit wary but Muse didn’t disappoint, they make one hell of a noise for three people. They DO need to improve live though, whilst the playing was tight, there was little interaction with the audience and the closing 5 minutes of guitar wankery didn’t really help. In saying that the songs do work well live and from what our mate said we made the right choice as “The Darkness will be lucky if they even get invited back to open next year” (seemingly they did a Radiohead cover. The Darkness. Doing Radiohead… silly boys).

The only distraction at the end of the Saturday night were the fireworks from the main stage (which finished early than Muse) and the fact that my mate Alan pulled – despite telling the ‘charming’ young lassy that his boyfriend was standing next to him: “Ohh that’s fine, I’m still a good fuck”, she replied. You couldn’t make it up.

Sunday was an early start, and I think every person had the same idea. The gates opened early but there were only a few thousand in front of the main stage before the first act went on. What on earth was going on? Well, quite simply, EVERYONE was timing it to see the Scissor Sisters. Granted the Sunday was twice as busy as the Saturday, but even then we were a bit taken a back at the crowds gathered at the main stage. Was it worth it? Damn right it was, probably my choice as band of the weekend as well. Not only do they have a good mix of songs, but they know how to work a crowd and are obviously full of confidence. Add to that the fact they looked like they were having as much fun as everyone else and the set went down a storm. As for the tartan toga, the removing of underwear and the bareing or arse cheeks.. well.. it all helped!

A quick beer and back to the main stage (with a half a song diversion to catch Fools Gold by the Complete Stone Roses) for the ‘home town’ band of Franz Ferdinand. Again they have the tunes to get the crowd going and they didn’t disappoint. All they need to add is a cleverly chosen cover track and they’ll go far (it’s a theory of mine that a good live act knows how to use a cover track, or part of a cover track, to add a little bit more fun into their act).

Disappointment number three lay ahead, and despite planning for it, we were still scuppered by the damn Slam Tent. Groove Armada were the targets, and I suggested that the act before them, Adam Freeland, was pretty good so why not go in during his set. It was agreed and we finished our beers and set off. I should point out that the Main stage, NME stage and King Tuts Wah Wah Tent were all near each other, the Slam Tent was at the opposite end of the site. So we trudge down there only to be greeted, a full 50 minutes before they are due on stage, with the same sight that greeted us the day before. Thousands of people, standing, waiting, pleading to get in. We didn’t even try.

The side benefit was that we managed to catch a few tracks from Miss PJ Harvey (“she’s awfully loud for such a wee person”), before heading to the NME Stage and Goldfrapp. I’d heard some of their stuff but knew more than I thought, and they were very good live. Not the kind of band to incite a riot but more than capable of handling themselves, including Alison threatening to throw “something back at the next fucker who chucks their beer at me!”. You go girl!

Beer, food and off to King Tuts Wah Wah Tent to catch Orbital, and by chance the end of Electric Six performing Radio Ga-Ga, with the crowd hand clapping perfectly. Freddie would’ve been so proud (see what I mean about covers). Orbital were alright, not hugely my cup of tea, but Alan was keen so we hung around for a while. But we had a plan.

Now, bearing in mind that we had already missed two acts, and that no-one else was really bothered.. majority rule and all that.. and.. welllll…

We decided not to go and see The Pixies. Me bad. I know. Shot me. The quandary was to catch a track or two of the Pixies set and miss out on a decent spot for Massive Attack. Majority rule and we headed over to the NME stage and managed to catch the last half hour of N.E.R.D. who were ace! They’d tweaked some of their tracks to give them a rock edge, and coupled with the fact that two of the band are experienced MCs and they had the whole crowd jumping, and I mean the WHOLE crowd, not just the loonies in the mosh pit.

And then, all of a sudden, it was the last act of the weekend for us, and we scored prime spots right in front of the lighting desk, with our backs to a barrier, centre stage. Opening with Angel before sliding into Future Proof and I was hooked.

Now Scissor Sisters may take my vote for band of the weekend, but Safe from Harm easily gets best song, Massive Attack tagged on an extra ending featuring a really heavy guitar and.. as one we all turned to each other at the songs conclusion and stood there, gobsmacked. As a group, considering the number of singers they rotate, they were tight, provocative, and their music works well live. Teardrop started as the clouds finally broke and the sunset revealed itself, a hot air balloon floating overhead, yes it was THAT perfect.

We headed for the bus home with a wonderful euphoria – although that could’ve been down to the group in front of us who each went through about 12 joints during the set.

All in all it was a great weekend. It didn’t rain, and the blessing of hospitality (a little oasis of calm at times) was the making of it.. I’m getting a bit too old to be standing about for that length of time though, next time I’ll be taking one of those wee fold-e
y out chairs that a lot of people had. I’m sure I’ll recall more, but for the time being that’s it. I’ll put up some photos later.

T in the Park #10

Sunday on the Main Stage

Final day of the festival, and here’s the artists appearing on the main stage (reverse order of appearance):

  • Goldie Lookin Chain – never heard of them, so are they worth a gander?
  • Scissor Sisters – No questions here. I WILL be catching them (Mike would never forgive me!)
  • Franz Ferdinand – Probably one of the big draws of the day, why are they on so early?
  • The Thrills – nice album but not sure how it will transfer live, not too fussed if I miss them.
  • PJ Harvey – OOPS not bought her new album yet! First lady of rock, live? You bet! (Anyone for a repeat of THAT Glasto pic?)
  • Kings of Leon – one of my albums of last year, not sure how they will be live.
  • Pixies – Errr… I know I should but .. well I’m not actually that bothered.
  • The Strokes – Headlining. Really? Two good albums, a good sound but again I’ll probably be at the NME stage for Massive Attack.

So Sunday on the main stage consists of Scissor Sisters, Franz Ferdinand, PJ Harvey and maybe the Kings of Leon. As I already feared, Sunday is the day where I WILL have to miss an act I’d like to see.. there’s just too many!

Of course WHO I catch depends on the running order, as I’m pretty sure that the Main Stage and NME Stage try and stagger starting times. This may mean catching half of an act here and there but it’s better than nothing. Later on I’ll post the bands I’ll definitely be trying to catch. Who knows, I might even blog from the event itself!

(Anyone know of a PDA version of Blogger? There used to be one but it’s gone now…)

T in the Park #8

Sunday on the NME Stage

Again, this is a bit more familiar territory for me, but I’d still love to hear your comments (and you only have to suffer this for another three days).

  • Massive Attack – no question really, MUST SEE.
  • NERD – Not sure about their second album, might be good live though?
  • Badly Drawn Boy – could live without seeing him, but good songs.
  • Goldfrapp – another band I’ve heard a few tracks of but not sure how they’d be live.
  • The Rapture – No thanks.
  • The Killers – Always makes me think of “Live Killers” by Queen. But are they any good?
  • Stellastar – Yet another “next big thing” band, allegedly.
  • Razorlight – Heard good things of them.
  • The Cribs – As in punk rocks The Cribs?

I’ll post a quick recap of your suggestions later on today.

T in the Park #7

Saturday on the NME Stage

Moving away from the dance tent we head to the NME Stage. Rock music reigns, and I’ll feel a bit more comfortable over there (boy will I EVER look out of place in the dance tent). Once again, any advice or previous experience is welcomed.

  • Muse – MUST SEE! No arguments, I’ll probably ending up moshing next to my sister.
  • The Libertines – Not that fussed actually, never really got into them, but I’m sure they will be OK.
  • Wu Tang Clan – Could be good live, could be awful. Undecided as yet.
  • Keane – “miserable Coldplay-esque indie-lite” is fairly accurate. Not that fussed.
  • Funeral for a Friend – Heard of… had a single out a while back.. nu-metal/poprock I think?
  • British Sea Power – Will be asking round work as I know a couple of the guys like them.
  • The Zutons – Heard of, not heard.
  • Dogs Die in Hot Cars – Seemingly another “next big thing, well maybe the one after that..”
  • The Shins – Another THE band which automatically makes me think of them as something they are probably not.

I’ll recap all your feedback on Wednesday, after that it’s the main stage run down!

Just plain wrong

Smiths Top Beatles.

Ahhh ANOTHER reason I don’t read NME. Or is this just their way of drumming up some coverage.. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of the Smiths stuff, but “most important rock group of the last 50 years?” I really don’t think so…