Tag Archives: music opinion

6Music’s Milkshake

I love BBC 6Music – not least because they interviewed the lovely Barry Dolan (a.k.a. Oxygen Thief) and played his single Mestle and Porter the other night… But I love them mostly because they play a variety of music that is constantly different, interesting and, most importantly, good.

Nevertheless, I was still a little surprised yesterday morning to hear Andrew Collins play Radiohead’s Idioteque followed swiftly with Milkshake by Kelis. Even on a station as eclectic as 6, that’s a big jump in style.

Kelis, Milkshake Single

Image from Wikipedia

But, as I was dancing round my bedroom while trying to find suitable work clothes, I was struck by something just a little odd in the lyrics. And because I am pedantic (or pendantic, as Shaun Keaveny would say) I thought I’d point it out.

The lyrics are (as if you didn’t know):

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, And they’re like, It’s better than yours; Damn right, it’s better than yours,  I can teach you, But I have to charge

I know you want it, The thing that makes me, What the guys go crazy for.
They lose their minds, The way I wind, I think its time.

La la-la la la, Warm it up,
La la-la la la, The boys are waiting

Wait a second? Warm it up?!

I thought we were making milkshake here… Seriously, who warms up a deliciously cold ice cream and milk-based beverage?

Warm milkshake? No thank you, Kelis. No, thank you.

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Are Albums Really a Dying Artform?

The word ‘dying’ is bandied around a lot when talking about music and how the way we consume it is changing. I had a rant about this a while ago – I forget what sparked it, but my point was that music itself will always have cultural value (as it has for hundreds of years), regardless of the state of the industry around it.

This argument however, as much as I believe that it is true, doesn’t address the way that new technology has had an effect on how we as music fans actually go about listening to music: We are told that albums are in decline, and that consumers these days will only ever download the particular tracks that they want to listen to, and will disregard the rest.

Physical album sales are on the way down, digital sales are on the way up;  ergo, albums are dying.

Everybody knows that, right?

Except, I think that this under-estimates the modern music fan, and how much they care about the music of their favourite artists.

More casual fans may well download just the tracks that they like or have heard on the radio, and not be bothered about checking out the rest of the artist’s work. Dedicated fans who feel that they have a connection with a particular artist, however, are likely to seek out as much material as possible – both new releases and back-catalogue – and the feeling of ownership over the music remains whether it is obtained via digital download or through the purchase of a physical release.

This kind of fan wants to understand the concepts that the artist is trying to put across and are prepared to dedicate valuable time to the listening experience.

Now, let us consider the album itself for a moment. Back in the day, the length of a record was defined by the physical medium on which it was printed. Early recordings were limited to 3 minutes, giving us the classic ‘3 minute pop song’. As technology moved on, artists were able to add more songs to their records, giving us the now traditional album format.

Over time, and with the advent of new technology and innovative approaches, the album has, in my opinion, become an art form and not just a format. They can tell stories, explore a theme or concept, or link several themes together through the music and the cover artwork; they are  not just a collection of tracks, but a piece of work as a whole.

This is why I don’t believe that the form will ever really die off completely: people like the experience of listening to a ‘whole’ work. I know I do: I love opening up a CD or record for the first time, looking through the artwork and turning up the volume, sometimes listening again and again until I know the order off by heart. It’s all part of the listening experience for me. I would never consider myself a ‘fan’ of an artist unless I owned at least one of their albums.

Perhaps in the future the market for albums will become a more specialist, but I suspect the album itself will be with us for a while yet. Whether it will still be on disc or another physical or digital format in years to come I don’t know – there are already plenty of creative artists pushing the boundries of what an album is and how it is available – but I think it’ll be fun finding out. Remember, changing isn’t nesessarily the same as dying.

So, that’s my opinion – now I’d like to hear what you think. Let me know in the comments!

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The 30 Day Song Challenge, Part 9: Days 21, 22 and 23

So, it’s time to go back to the 30 Day Song Challenge – it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts, so I thought it about time I got on with it. Then we can all go home.

Day 21: A Song That You Listen To When You Are Happy – Insomnia, Feeder

Feeder are a great band to jump around to when you’re in a good mood. Their music also makes me drive faster… that is probably a bad thing.

Day 22: A Song That You Listen To When You’re Sad – Street Spirit, Radiohead

Lots of people have told me that Street Spirit is depressing, but I find that if I’m ever sad this song is actually a good listen. That little section at the end where Thom Yorke sings “immerse your soul in love” gives it an uplifting ending that leaves you feeling more positive as the song closes.

Day 23: A Song That You Want To Play At Your Wedding – Better Together, Jack Johnsonn

This is kind of a moot point – I am already married. Hubby and I have done the first dance thing, and this is what we danced to. I’ve since heard from a DJ friend that this is one of the most common choices among couples (and he thinks it’s a pretty tacky song), but you  know what – I stand by my choice.

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It’s Just A Little Crush…

Hello – I am back! I’ve been busy lately, but instead of an update about what I’ve been up to while I’ve been out and about in the real world, I thought I’d re-start my blogging with a random question that has been bugging me:

Is a ‘music crush’ the same as a normal crush?

Frank Turner - yes, we all know I looove him (Image from Wikipedia)

I’ve had quite a few crushes in my time, because once I was a teenage girl… But despite what ‘they’ (whoever they are) seem to suggest, you can still get crushes as a grown up (although you are more likely to get the proverbial taken out of you – see the definition of Twilight Moms at Urban Dictionary).

But here’s the thing – most of the crushes I’ve had have not been completely about looks.

When I was at school I had a thing for Liam Gallagher. Yes, I am utterly embarrassed to admit it now, but at the time I was besotted with him. Not so much because of how he looked – even I could see he wasn’t (isn’t?) as classically good-looking as the neatly-turned-out Boyzone lads that my friends were all mad about – but because I loved Oasis and their music. These days I realise that was because their music sounded like The Beatles re-hashed, and I grew up listening to the Beatles… but I digress.

By the time I hit college, I had out-grown my Oasis obsession and was looking for something new. I didn’t know what I liked really – I listened to punk, metal, rock, acoustic and all sorts of music trying to find my place among them.

Matt Bellamy (image from Muse.mu)

And so I found new crushes: Tori Amos, Adam Duritz of Counting Crows, Shirley Manson of Garbage, and (belatedly, unfortunately) Kurdt Cobain,  – followed later by Dave Grohl,  Muse guitarist Matthew Bellamy, and more recently Tim Minchin (yes, he is a comedian but also a brilliant pianist/songwriter) and Frank Turner.

You’ll notice that some of those in the list are women – which kind of illustrates my point, seeing as I fall largely* into the straight, white, lower middle-class English female group. I admire the people I listed above, not just for how good-looking they are/were (and they are good-looking, in my opinion) but for the passion, the emotion and the skill that they put into their craft.

Tori Amos (image from ToriAmos.com)

You see, it was the songs that I fell in love with before the people – I don’t remember it ever happening the other way round with the musicians that I have had/do have crushes on. And to me listening to these songs, and watching the videos that accompany them is a more intense emotional reaction than the one I have to say, seeing the lovely David Tennent on TV, despite his obvious acting talent.

I’d like to hear what you think – am I being silly, and a crush is a crush however you look at it? Or, is there a special place in your heart for the musicians you admire? Does something else entirely float your boat? Am I just trying to justify the shallow adoration of pretty people? Let me know in the comments, I love to hear from you.

*I say largely because although I’ve never had a same-sex relationship, the idea isn’t totally off-limits to me – but I am married, and as such it’s unlikely to happen! Especially not with someone like Tori Amos, heh!

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2000Trees 2011: A Review of One Girl’s Festival Weekend

Two Thousand Trees Festival holds a special place in my heart.

This year was our fourth of attending the eco-minded, friendly little festival based in Withington, near Cheltenham, and previous years haven’t failed to impress.

Unlike last year, we didn’t manage to persuade any of our friends to join us for the weekend, but that didn’t deter our high spirits as we arrived on Thursday late afternoon. Already loud guitars could be heard emanating from new stage, The Cave, as we pitched up our tent within sight of the main stage. 2000Trees is about discovering new and exciting music and, although I have seen a couple of the bands on the line up before,  it was with an open mind that I approached this year’s festival.

We started out heading to The Cave to catch one of our local favourites, OST (it would have been rude not to). Their set seamlessly blended elements of dance, heavy rock, classical piano and pumping bass lines to create a sound which is uniquely theirs. It rocks, yet you can’t help but dance to it.

Heading up to the littlest stage of the festival, The Greenhouse (a sweet, tiny stage set in a field full of poppies with a natural slope, so everyone could see and hear clearly – nice) we caught comedy act, Flange Krammer (Power Horse!), before returning to The Cave for Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun’s fantastic set of punk-influenced folk songs.

I think we ended up back at The Greenhouse for the end of the evening, but copious amounts of cider have made my recollection a little hazy in this area… it was fun anyway… I think some funny people called Bob and Jim were involved somewhere…

Friday dawned with a hangover, some lovely bright sunshine and an exciting day of music ahead of us. Breakfast, strong tea and a walk round the nature trail sorted out the hangover, so that just left the music and sunshine!

We caught The Anomalies on the main stage for an up-beat, hip-hop influenced start, followed by the fantastic Dive Dive for some jagged yet catchy post-hardcore (see my review of latest album, Potential here, if you like). Next up was Oxygen Thief at The Greenhouse, so we hot-footed it up there to see him – I’m a bit of a fan, but for those of you not in the know, Oxygen Thief does metal with nothing but some awesome acoustic guitar playing, a few effects pedals (which got soaked in beer – oops) and aggressive vocals.  Excellent stuff.

Back at the main stage we checked out Jim Lockey’s second set of the weekend, which was as impressive as the first, and then once again headed back up to The Greenhouse for some more acoustic loveliness with a little  David Gibb, followed by another of my favourite artists of this year, Ben Marwood.

Phew – all this and it was still only around 6 in the evening. Time for a Pie Minister and a break while Dinosaur Pile Up and Twin Atlantic were on stage, and then one of the weirder experiences I’ve had at a festival happened… We noticed a tent in the corner of the field with a sign next to it simply saying “The Hide: Please Come In”. How could we resist? So into the tent we squeezed, with a pair of lads and another couple, for a chat and a laugh. And then, fairly randomly, the guys exited by jumping out one of the many window flaps to go and listen to the King Blues, who had since taken to the stage. This attracted the attention of two lovely young girls who kept us all entertained by leaping in and out of the tent. Surreal, but fun!

Once the kids had been safely returned to their parents, our new friends recommended that we check out Tellison in the Leaf Lounge – and I’m glad we did. With some catchy,  up-beat post-rock type tunes, I thought they were great! The night ended with some pretty soggy covers with Oxygen Thief at the busking box – a wet and cold, but brilliant end to a fabulous day.

Saturday morning, and it was still tipping it down. We decided not to venture from the tent until the music kicked off at 12 with an excellent set from Gaz Brookfield at the Greenhouse. Luckily, the weather had settled down a little by this point and we decided it was safe to put on our fancy dress robot costumes. Every year, 2000Trees has a fancy dress day theme, and this year’s was robots vs ninjas vs cowboys – cue people in boxes, tinfoil,  cowboy hats and some very odd all-in-one ninja suits. Brilliant.

We spent the afternoon drifting between stages (as much as robots can drift anyway), enjoying bands here and there without really paying attention to what we were listening to. Heading back to the main stage, the fancy dress winner was announced – the prize went to a guy dressed as the robot from the Beastie Boys’ ‘Intergalactic’ vid. It was a fair victory! We decided to abandon our costumes at this point (due to the annoyance of not being able to eat… or drink… or pee…), but managed to make it back to the main stage for Imperial Leisure’s ska-drenched beats. Excellent stuff.

Again we drifted, ending up in The Leaf Lounge for The Travelling Band (nice), and finally it was time for the last band of the festival – Scottish rock band Frightened Rabbit. I’ve only heard a little of their stuff before, but their melodic, mellow rock was a good end to round off the festival line up.

We packed up on Sunday with smiles on our faces.

I appreciate I’ve gone on a bit for this post, so here’s the TL;DR version: 2000Trees is a great little festival. You should go.

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Somerfest, Maiden Bradley, 2011 (Or Long May Small Pub Festivals Continue…)

Somerfest 2011 Poster

After work last Friday, husband and I packed up and headed to Maiden Bradley, just on the Wiltshire side of the Somerset border. We arrived at The Somerset Arms at around 9 in the evening – not as early as we’d hoped, but still not too bad – and set up our tent.

In the rain.

As it was starting to go dark.

But you know, I mustn’t grumble – Jon and I are pro’s at putting up our tent these days, and we had our home for the weekend erected in no time, and even managed to get our kit in without it getting too damp.

Time for some music. We’d managed to miss most of Friday’s bands, but headed round to the pub to catch part of The Rude ’em Ups set – a ska/punk/reggae kind of band, who, despite the rain starting to seep into the sound gear, managed to pull of a cracking performance. Thoroughly enjoyed their blending of female vocals, rap, brass, guitars, cool keyboard noises and, of course, drums and bass. It would be easy for all those instruments/vocals to be overwhelming, but the band displayed a really good sense of musical space, and their clever arrangements meant that there was a lot going on without it ever being too much. Good stuff.

Retreating into the pub after bopping around in the wet, we discovered that a ceilidh band had set up in the corner so we decided to dry off and have a few more beers. The Somerset Arms is a lovely pub, and that night there was a really friendly community atmosphere, as well as some good beers on tap (according to hubby anyway – I’m not really an ale drinker) so we were nicely ‘warmed up’ when we toddled off to bed.

Saturday dawned cloudy but dry(ish), and we were looking forward to a day of great music. We’d heard a few of the acts in the day’s line up before, but were also excited about discovering some new bands. There was something for everyone, from a capella to rock.

I had the pleasure of playing the second set of the day, following the fantastic Americana of singer-songwriter  JC Leonard. Although it was pretty quiet at this point, as the sun had not yet fully emerged from the clouds, those that were there seemed to enjoy. Which was nice.

Next up was Rich Maya – a fabulous acoustic guitarist and singer. His voice is warm and mellow, yet still powerful, and his guitar playing is sensitive and dynamic. Really lovely stuff, yes indeedy.

We spent the rest of the afternoon dipping in and out of the music (c’mon, a girl’s gotta eat and stuff – and then there was cider…), and enjoying the sunshine which had broken through the clouds. All the acts were really good, but my personal highlights were The Bateleurs, Beth Monk and Mortdelamer.

Beth is a young singer, but has a mature voice for her age. Accompanied by Francis Hayden on guitar, she had a short set but I was very impressed. Despite seeming a little nervous, she had a good stage presence and sang well. Definitely one to watch out for in the future.

The Bateleurs at Somerfest 2011

The Bateleurs

The Bateleurs are a folk-pop band, who appeared as a duo on this occasion. I’ve seen them before, both as a pair and with the full band set-up and have never failed to be uplifted by their highly infectious, melodious tunes. Their Somerfest performance was no exception – I really like their use of vocal harmonies and upbeat rhythms. Nice.

And finally, Mortdelamer – essentially, they rock. The heaviest band on what was essentially a chilled out summery line up, I was glad to see the crowd’s reaction was a good one as the band struck up their first song. A three-piece led by guitarist and singer Claire Sutton, they skilfully wove a sound that was dark at times, uplifting at others and most definitely exciting. Loved it.

I have to confess that we kind of missed the headline act of the evening,  The Celidh Bandidos. By this point we badly needed a rest, so headed back to the tent. Not very hardcore of us, I know – but after a wee lie down I managed to drag hubby back to the pub for the last dance (which was hilarious to watch – sorry dancers), and after helping sound-man Brian to pack down for the night, we managed to find the energy for a bit more cider, a surprise Mariachi performance and a rousing rendition of The Sloop Jon B.

Essentially, it was a fab weekend – if it takes place next year, I’d definitely go again. The pub landlord,  landlady and staff were great, the whole thing was well organised and the music was brilliant.

Oh; one last note: if you’re ever in need of a reliable, professional, and generally all-round-lovely sound guy (particularly if you’re in the Wiltshire area), give Brian Keen a call – he did an amazing job all weekend (and I’m not just saying that because he let me play with his desk). Thanks Brian!

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The 30 Day Song Challenge, Part 7: Days 15, 16 and 17

Tut – the week’s gone by and I haven’t updated my blog. That’s very slack of me.

But then, I am a slacker – so…

Anyway, on to today’s post. I have promised a few people that I’ll write a review of last weekend’s Somerfest – a small pub-based festival held at The Somerset Arms, but because it’s Friday afternoon and I’m writing this during my lunch break (over some delicious pea and ham soup, I might add), I’m going for the easy option of The 30 Day Song Challenge – where we’re now advancing on to Days 15, 16 and 17.

Day 15: A Song That Describes You – Secret Smile, Semisonic

Hmm. Tricky one.

I’m not sure whether this song does really describe me… In fact, I don’t think any one song can describe a person truly, as we’re always changing. The person I am now is not the person I was back in the day. Hmm – that’s getting a bit philosophical for a Friday… But anyway, I can relate to  Secret Smile, and it’s one of those songs that pops into my head randomly, even when I haven’t heard it for ages and I’m usually happy to have it there. That’s really why I chose it.

Day 16: A Song That You Used To Love But Now Hate – Cigarettes and Alcohol, Oasis

I’ve spoken before about my love of Oasis turning into hate. They were my choice for “A Song From a Band You Hate” too, because as I have matured in my musical taste, their work has aged. And aged badly at that. Cigarettes and Alcohol kind of sums up everything I used to like about Oasis but now hate. The lyrics which once seemed rebellious now seem thuggish; the guitars which sounded noisy and cool to my ears back then now sound like a re-hashing of every rock song ever produced, and Liam’s vocal which I used to hear as sneeringly arrogant (in a good way) is now nasally arrogant (in a bad way).

Basically, I grew up.

Day 17: A Song That You hear Often On The Radio – Pumped Up Kicks, Foster The People

As a faithful 6 Music listener, I get to hear stuff on the radio that doesn’t annoy me – which makes a nice change to the rubbish on the commercial airwaves these days.

6 Music has really got behind this single, so basically, I’ve had it in my head on and off for about a month (and I’ve been singing it to myself at work, which doesn’t sound good considering the lyrical content… sorry if I’ve been scaring you workmates – it’s just a song… heh, heh *awkward cough*).

So, that’s it for today – don’t worry, I will get my arse in gear and finish my Somerfest review over the weekend. Promise!

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