Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2010 music - What are the prospects?

Now that is a vexatious question! Commenting on the year past is one thing but this is quite another entirely, yet it needs to be done once again.

I'm not too disappointed with the predictions that I made last year but that only serves to make this year's more difficult. Pop, electro and folk-influences all came good in 2009, much to my pleasure. I suspect that they will remain much in evidence in 2010 and there is little doubt that live music, in all shapes and forms, will remain in the ascendancy.
There will be many unexpected surprises, which make the scene change and to be honest what I anticipate liking most are the things that I cannot predict; while 2009 was a good year in that respect I have no reason to think that 2010 will be any less so. I intend to make sure that it is not, seeking the new and the different like never before if I can.
That is not to say that I will abandon everything that has come before; I certainly won't if only because I can't.

I know my question doesn't make sense at all
Because we live outside the realm of yes and no.

The more difficult that proves to be the better the outcome in all probability. I doubt whether, for all the hype concerning the remarkable battle for the 'Christmas #1 single' (a curiously British preoccupation in any case), it says much about that which can be predicted for 2010.
My current thought is that the field is wide open once again, that this circumstance is probably for the best and the lyrics will still matter, especially live.

And I will be your ark; we will float above the storm.

It is true that 2010 holds many fears and for that reason alone it is worth its weight in gold:
This time, baby, I'll be bullet-proof.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Nostalgia - Emily Barker

To whoever asked, I like lyrics and so thank you for asking. This is the best I can do.


Tram wires cross Melbourne skies
Cut my red heart in two
My knuckles bleed down Johnston Street
On a door that shouldn't be in front of me.

Twelve thousand miles away from your smile
I'm twelve thousand miles away from me.
Standing on the corner of Brunswick
Got the rain coming down and mascara on my cheek.

Oh whisper me words in the shape of a bay
Shelter my love from the wind and the rain.

Crow fly, be my alibi
And return this fable on your wing.
Take it far away to where gypsies play
Beneath metal stars by the bridge.

Oh write me a beacon so I know the way
Guide my love through night and through day.

Only the sunset knows my blind desire for the fleeting
Only the moon understands the beauty of love
When held by a hand like the aura of nostalgia.

Link to earlier posts on this artist:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Whither next?

I have already mentioned some 2010 albums that I am anticipating and you haven't yet seen the list of ones from 2009 that I haven't heard but wish I had. [Suggestions on both , and earlier ones, are always welcome by the way and can be anonymous or credited.]

The list to listen/watch, or both, in 2010 is growing at a rate faster than ever before and it makes me wonder about the kind of music that might become apparent in 2010. I know that Laura Marling is releasing her second album, 'I Speak Because I Can', probably on March 1, 2010 and I know I want that and also to see her live on the ensuing UK tour (April 2010).

On the other hand there will be new things challenging for attention and London-based three-piece Invasion might well be one of them and an oddity in that it fuses two apparently irreconcilable things: guitars and drums that come from the late 1960s flowering of heavy metal combined with decidedly other-worldly, wizard-loving, lyrics rather more typical of its resurgence about twenty years later...

...and, I nearly forgot, a vocalist who (although name-checking Ronnie James Dio) is Chan Brown, happens to be female and in possession of a decidedly soulful voice (soul divas can however scream with the best of them).
The album is incredibly short, so no self indulgent guitar or drum solos here, to the extent that it careers headlong through twelve tracks in just 22 minutes; indeed not one track actually reaches three minutes in length!
This was actually released in October 2009 but perhaps only now is its time coming. The longest track (2:55) is the last, the rather glorious 'Chaos & The Ancient Night', and this is a band now also on my 'live wants-list 2010'.

Monday, December 14, 2009

'Paradise Circus' - New Music 2010 - Part 3

In terms of new music releases 2009 is pretty much a done-deal now and finally even X-Factor has reached its conclusion for another year... I live happily with that, I can tell you, but of more interest is what 2010 might bring and the why and wherefore.

It is a long while since I mentioned much specifically derived from the music scene in Bristol. On the way home from work this evening I turned the radio on and the song playing was quite amazing. I was in a place where it was quite safe to do so and therefore I parked and just listened.
When it ended the DJ said what it was and immediately played it all over again. For BBC Radio 1 that is a very rare occurrence indeed.

It was in fact the first (two) plays of the forthcoming single 'Paradise Circus' and the first from this forthcoming album:

Heligoland is due for release February 8, 2010 in the UK.

Many of the usual collaborators are involved once again, along with an eclectic range of guests. The vocals on 'Paradise Circus' are courtesy of the notoriously performance-shy Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star and other bands). If the rest of the album is anywhere as good as this then 2010 is shaping up to be not only another good year, also a wonderfully varied one, in respect of music.

Some of the new material that is on the album has appeared, albeit in perhaps not quite the same form, on the 2009 download-only (I think) EP Splitting The Atom.

I have to say that until now, although aware of it, I have paid little detailed attention to the music of Massive Attack but I might have to reconsider my position on the basis of what I heard this evening.
It is probably one of the best musical experiences - hearing something wonderful but completely unexpected - and best of all when it occurs live. That too is something I've been fortunate to experience several times in 2009.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lists, lists, lists...

It may seem as though I've been posting lists for weeks. That is true but not for so many weeks as I have been thinking about them. This is not a lament, at least on my part, and being the not-particularly-organized person that I am lists have a dual function: they are simple in presenting the information that they contain but also serve as a safe anchorage for a wandering mind with an appetite for trivia.
I think that the only list already mentioned here that I have not yet posted concerning 'Music in 2009' is that of singles: it was always going to be a bit of a random, almost fatuous, list and I'm well through working on it.
The latest started as a 'private list', although it largely stemmed from earlier comments and considerations. I started to wonder about all the albums and artists I should have bought or heard live in 2009 but had failed to do. The next thought was that music in 2009 does not stand in isolation, either from 2008 or, as occurred to me this week, what might happen in 2010. Take this approach too far and the list will be of Fibonaccic proportions but comfortingly, perhaps if only statistically, not infinite.

Not that this is a new idea because Fibonacci was a 13th century mathematician from Pisa, Italy. It is an exponential-logarithmic scale in which the numbers increase very rapidly at first but then the rate of increase slows and tends towards a maximum value. It is hard to define but empirically it has obvious natural application: rabbits do not increase in number exponentially, at least not for ever, even in Australia!

Statistics are a great talking point, and make good headlines, but then there is that truism: 'There are lies, damn lies and statistics.'
We are all an unwitting part of these things so we had better get used to it. I might just share some of my list of 'albums I wish I had' in the coming fortnight if only so you can tell me where I went wrong.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Best 'textbite' of 2009?

You are doubtless well aware of all those award ceremonies and the gushing, often excruciatingly long, acceptance speeches that they entail so here is a refreshing antidote.
Ellie Goulding has been named the chosen one, following Adele (Adkins) in 2008 and Florence and The Machine in 2009, as the recipient of the Critics' Choice Brit Award 2010 .

Her initial response, posted on Twitter, was this:
"Er, I won a bloody Brit Award."

After some reflection she was more expansive:
"When I found out, I had a little squeal, I had a little cry and I had a little fall down."

Understatement becomes her, something that is not entirely true of the acts that came second and third in this list: second was Manchester electro-indie band Delphic and third was an act that, since seeing it play live in July, I have tipped for great things - Marina and The Diamonds.

The choice is an interesting threesome in any case: Marina Diamandis does not do shy-wallflower singer-songwriter or anything even remotely approaching it. She does however do both singing, songwriting and also sensational live performance with her band (she also plays keys on some tracks), and the effect is quite remarkable.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Set the sails and feel the winds stirring... live in 2009

I left this category - Live Performances of 2009 - towards the end because I thought it would be amongst the easier ones to solve. Oh, how wrong could I be? These are all acts that I have seen live, in a few cases more than once, in 2009 and yet I still can't choose between them.

It has proven an invidious task to whittle the list down to ten, with some pictures to follow soon I intend, and here alphabetically is that list.

  • Alela Diane
  • Bat For Lashes
  • Bellowhead
  • Gossip
  • Imelda May
  • Ladyhawke
  • Low Anthem
  • Ohbijou
  • Recode
  • School Of Seven Bells
'Set the sails and feel the winds a-stirring
and towards the bright horizon sail away.'

I could do this list all over again, twice more with no items repeated, and still be quite happy with it. That just shows what I think about live music in 2009.

Note added March 15, 2010:
For more about 'Low Anthem' see here: For new info on 'The Low Anthem' see here:

Note added December, 8:
The more I think about it the more tempting it becomes.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Lots more, it seems... New Music 2010 - Part 2

I'm still working on a list of the live performances that I have enjoyed the most in 2009. They seem to fall in to two fairly distinct categories; on one hand those that I was well aware of from recorded output and thus wanted to hear live and, on the other hand, ones that were essentially an unknown proposition. Many in this latter category were new acts and many of those will be releasing their first full LP in 2010.
This one is released by Wichita Recordings (12" LP, CD, d/l) on January 25, 2010 in the UK.

The Big Black and The Blue is the follow-up to 2009 EP Drunken Trees.
First Aid Kit, while an act that fell in the latter category, are very likely to appear in my 'Best of 2009 - live!' and which I hope to have posted by the end of tomorrow.

Another band releasing an album in 2010, this time their second, is miles away from Swedish acoustic in style and is London's New Young Pony Club. I can't wait and it too has live music connotations: July 2007 saw me at a festival for the first time in the modern era and the first headline act I saw there, on the Friday evening on the Sunrise Stage at Latitude 2007, was NYPC who had just released their début album, Fantastic Playroom. That was probably pretty much the moment that I realized being at a festival was something that I really did want to do and not simply some nostalgia-induced aberration. As yet I do not know the title or release date for this, but the fact that is confirmed is heartening. The last was released by Modular Recordings but I have no confirmation of that for this one.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Lots more to come... New Music 2010 - Part 1

I seem to have done a lot of looking back in the last few weeks and there is still more to be written - thinking about all the live performances I have been lucky enough to see has bought back many memories particularly of festivals - and a selection of singles that have made me take notice should be some fun too.
While I'm thinking, and with few important releases due in the last weeks of 2009, here are a couple that I'm looking forward to in early 2010 and both are by returning artists, very different in style, the existing output of which I already have and like.

The first, rather delayed by the very sad events of 2008, is the second album by Leeds' Corinne Bailey Rae. The self-titled début from 2006 still sounds as good to me now as it did the first time I heard it back then and I'd be very surprised if
The Sea were to disappoint. Very much of relevance in 2010
is the fact that she is also an awesome live performer.

The first single is 'I'd Do It All Again'. It is on radio play lists now and recent performances of new material at small venues have garnered very positive reviews. She is an artist I have not heard live and I would like to put that right in 2010, which is also true of the next act.

The lead single is 'Norway' and apparently the album Teen Dream doesn't disappoint either. I'm a huge fan of the Baltimore duo Beach House and both albums; Beach House (2006) and Devotion (2007).

For this album they are again signed to Bella Union in the UK which, as far as I am concerned, says a great deal.

This I think, is not even the start of it...