Friday, April 22, 2011

New Music 2011 - coming live to Frome

Like buses, like bands... one can wait for ages and then several are announced at about the same time. Thinking about it, in Frome that is actually far more likely with bands...
They may not be very famous, yet, but no matter.  Here is one that has caught my attention as being in the latest e-newsletter from The Griffin, arguably Frome's best pub and also that with the best beers (the winner of both Somerset-wide accolades in the 2010 'Taste of Somerset' awards that were voted for by the public), and which also does live music.
The May programme looks good too but I'll start by mentioning this, although there is much of note to come before.  
On Sunday, May 22 The Griffin plays host to Zora & The Tatsmiths. If punk-jazz-folk was never before a genre then, so they have decided, it is now. And I can't wait!

It is a five-piece from Brighton and if you wish to avail yourself of a legal listen before May here is a link.
The track 'Secret' should be, along with the band, one-no-longer and it is available as a free, legal download for the price of registering your interest. It is on repeat here at the moment and I'm minded to post the lyric for it tomorrow...  it is simple and yet rather scarily real.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Intrigue & Stuff - More new music I have.

Where to start given that this is about ostensibly UK - perhaps even English - music?  It is clear that music which is at least in part electronic is going to play a big part in trends in the UK in 2011 - the incredible achievements of Adele notwithstanding.
I'm going to start with the stranger option - from an artist much older than the others that I'm likely to mention - it has just been released and comes to us from Stockport via Berlin. In 2009 James Leyland Kirby released, in three tranches each of four sides of 12" vinyl, a stupendous collection of ambient, entirely lyric-free, electronica.
It was not mainstream - to put it mildly although it is now available on 3 x CD - but, for me at least, it fitted perfectly with the all-pervading mood of economic gloom and despondency at that time.
He has just returned with a follow up - which I believe is to be the first of a four-part collection, each on a single 12" - entitled 'Intrigue & Stuff - Part 1'. You have been warned. It also has award-winning cover artwork...

It is not likely to see you and friends - if you still have any after playing it - dancing around your vinyl player. In fact it might well be just as tentatively cheering as the post-Soviet glimmers of hopes of reform in Cuba; so don't think that it is going to be influenced by the likes of Buena Vista Social Club. If so much as a quiver in a Stalinist rictus is evident then that will have to count as progress.
Such considerations are probably not those that preoccupy the latest two widely-known frontrunners in UK electronic/dub-step-influenced music. My personal opinion is that Katy B will prove the winner out of these two in 2011 but their rivalry should prove to be for the good of all.
On A Mission - Katy B

Who You Are - Jessie J
I have listened to both albums in their entirety quite a few times now and my comment is not really to do with the music or its performance from track to track and artist to artist, although of course I have my favourites (on both albums) and I was immediately made to take notice by their respective lead singles.
Perhaps the clue is in the album titles - On A Mission appears to me to have a much clearer sense of what the artist set out to achieve while Who You Are has a slightly scattered feel - that of attempting to be something to as many people as possible.

Monday, April 18, 2011

New Music I Want - America keeps on surprising...

For some years now my relationship with American music, both new and old, has found virtually no limits. Much of that process and its ramifications have appeared in this blog almost often as in my music collection and the travels continue...
One thing that back then I had never really thought about, let alone appreciated, is the sheer range and diversity.  Nor had I realized just how importantly live performance was regarded in the US and the place that self-releases and independent labels play in all this.

Just one of them is Signature Sounds and this year it is celebrating 17 years in business.
This prompts me to mention an album that I really want to listen to is this, released by Signature Sounds on May 3, 2011 (in the US) and May 9, 2011 (UK).  To listen to a track from it,  'Pretty Girl In A Small Town', which was one of the earliest written for this album then head here.
Horse Latitudes - Jeffrey Foucault (2011)

This next, which involves skipping from state to state as much as it does crossing genre boundaries, is this and it is the second EP from We Are Trees.
Girlfriend - We Are Trees (2011)
Released last month digitally (see here) with this telling comment, which as you will know I much appreciate, it is the mini-album follow up to the début 'Boyfriend' of 2010:

VINYL COMING SOON (but if you really want, it's on itunes)

The track-list is as follows:
1.  Teenage Heartbreak
2.  Colorado
3.  Girlfriend
4.  You
5.  I Don't Believe In Love
This is is just the sort of vinyl I can imagine myself playing out at Record Store Day 2012!  Real music is for real friends.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Record Store Day 2011 - Why physical music lives on.

Record Store Day 2011 happens internationally on April 16 this year.  Why, in this largely digital age and indeed the format in which I am writing this, does that matter?
Owning real physical music is a thrill. All those who have suffered bereavement when their iPod or other digital music device called it a day will know about this. Physical music is also fragile but it is more about treating it like a pet or a friend and thus not taking chances, let forbid abusing it. Vinyl is a particular case in point: it is larger than many pets and equally likely to repay your neglect by giving up the ghost. Treated with care it can however live for decades, probably centuries, and likely outlive us.
Think about it.
Can you imagine writing a Last Will and Testament that specifies what should happen to your collection of .mp3 and the like? Maybe you can but, arguably even if legally purchased, is it actually legally yours to give from beyond the grave anyway?
Your physical, legally purchased, music is however no less a collection than that of any of your other possessions. The designated recipient might not like it, and there is little that you can do about that, but it is truly yours to bequeath.
Even if you chose to specify that, were it not wanted the chosen recipient should sell it or give it away, it would still be there for others to enjoy.
Now think about it again.
It is not just about old or recherché music - although that is available at independent stores too - because if they were simply to live in the past that would certainly be suicide.
It is about new music, independent labels, self-promoted music and all the rest of the new music phenomenon - much of which is actually a digital/internet phenomenon - and this is why it matters more then ever before.
It is not just an event for would-be artists either. In this respect I'm going to mention a certain Lady Gaga - who has put her support behind Record Store Day 2011 - whilst listening to 'The Fame' on 12" vinyl.  Anything is possible now.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Music 2011 - Mirror, mirror - l want it all.

There is much to write, and most of it concerns (forthcoming) festivals too, but I'm going to start with this instead. After a fortnight away from writing I have decided that, with the numbered run of 'New Music 2011' having reached #14 by the end of March they will, at least for the foreseeable future, become unnumbered.  There is just too much that I'm excited about...
First off the fourth studio album from Domino Records stalwarts and Glaswegian institution Sons and Daughters. The  2008 album 'This Gift' was good but, produced by Bernard Butler, a rather unsurprisingly polished affair. It seems as though their fourth LP - to be called 'Mirror Mirror' marks a return in many ways to their glorious 2005 album 'The Repulsion Box' and if you need to listen to one S&D album before the new one appears, in early summer I believe, this is it.

Deciphering the lyrics will, almost certainly, prove a challenge but you will probably forget to try because the insistent drumming and the venom of the songs is quite remarkable. That the album actually runs for less than thirty minutes is something that you will also not even notice at first.
Always a good album for getting rid of party guests that have overstayed their welcome and to make a statement when played way too loud in the car with the windows wound down!
Still as scarily good as it was when it was released; for me it is now a 'classic' LP.