Saturday, 28 February 2009

TOTW9: Kings of Leon - Revelry

Nice quick post this morning, as I'm off exploring later. Also means that last chance will not appear on the 1st March, but the first chance I get thereafter - probably Wednesday. When I'll hopefully put the finishing touched to something special for you all....

Last track of Feb though - U2, Kings of Leon, Pet Shop Boys, or Ting Tings?

Definitely a tough call - there's the 80s trend there. Could have gone any way, but without justification I'm picking this one:

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Unsung: Lion O'Brien

It's been a while since I've featured a band since hearing them on Tom Robinson's show, but occasionally you hear a song that you immediately fall in love with. Well, that happened with This Life by Lion O'Brien. Sample lyrics:

"I've got a massive unpaid loan / and impending legal action

They might repossess my home / They might force my eviction

But I won't piss and moan / No Crying in the kitchen

'Coz I don't have no right to moan when I got this life"

All accompanied with a bouncy, pleasant out-looking melody. Just the sort of thing to pull you out of a bit of doom and gloom. With recessions and all that junk.

I have to be honest, listening to the rest of the myspace track listing, it's a real standout track. That's not to say that the other tracks aren't good, they're totally fine. Robot Love is different, I'd love to see it out of demo - and overall they are definitely, as Tom said, a real sing-a-long band. Just makes This Life all the better really...

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Now available in audio form...


It's all very well talking about the music on this blog, but as it's music it's much better to listen to my ramblings with a bit of a track listing.

In one of my "great ideas", I offered to become one of "Steve's Stringers" for The Cat's Radio 1 show. Incredibly, despite my ramblings, you can now listen to Asp via the BBC iPlayer for the next week falling over his words with The Joy Formidable.

Hopefully, if there is a next time, I'll plan a bit more when praising the next band.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

TOTW8: La Roux - In for the Kill

I just started watching the video for La Roux's In for the Kill and am immediately worried about a cameo by "The Hoff". Come on, jump in my car...


Putting those thoughts out of mind as far as possible, and just listening to the music, it's that unusually modern-retro sound that we've heard before. The chorus doesn't quite seem to fit with the rest of the song, a bit smoother than the rest; and then there's the futuristic cadenza near the end - but it still works. It's got that "get up and go", without being so overly "dance music" I won't like it.

Similarly different, and similarly from Sound of 2009, is the debut offering from Passion Pit - Sleepyhead. It's so unusual, I can't really describe it. High-pitched wailing sounds derogatory, but it's the most obvious theme to draw. It certainly took a few listens to decide I like it - which is perhaps a flaw - but I'll definitely rate it as a "grower".

Whilst iamundernodisguise might be a classic example of a malfunctioning space bar, the music by School of Seven Bells is classic in a different. Think monastic chanting, add a beat from a drum kit, and you're pretty well there. Yet again, from that description, it sounds horrible - but it really isn't. I wouldn't rate it as music for any particular occasion or mood - you wouldn't here it in "the club" for instance - but it's very well written.

For something completely different, Happy up here often reminds me of a computer game background music. Particularly the bit where the recurring theme drops a tone at a time - classic Nintendo. I doubt that was the influence for the Norweigan band, but it's quite a talent to pull of electronica whilst it still sounds nice and gentle.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Time for a long one...

Lots and lots and lots of songs begin with the letter "T". Even discounting anything that starts with "The".

I'm not really able to comment on everything in this week's playlist therefore, but I do want to draw attention to Smokey Robinson. I don't think I've even featured one artist twice in one 'alphabetising' playlist. I could have done it - even with ABBA this week - Take a Chance on Me was chosen over Thank you for the music. But, it was impossible to chose Tracks of my Tears or Tears of a Clown. Both are gorgeous. Both are fantastic. Both are deserving of playlisting. Enjoy the lot:


The letter T

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Unsung - Flashguns

Way to tease me into listening to a band. The e-mail I received letting me know about Flashguns told me "they've just been in the studio with Stephen Street (The Smiths/Blur) working on the single".

He should know what he's on about then...

Surprisingly, once again, I then catch up on my RSS and find that Lammo's got there first

"A few days later I was back in north London to see Flashguns, whose '80s references lie more in the Postcard camp. In one of those strange moments of musical synchronicity, there seems to be a rush of bands at the moment who sound - to me at least - like spikier versions of early Orange Juice or maybe like the demos Rough Trade probably got sent in 1987 (have they all been reading Simon Reynolds book Rip It Up And Start Again?)."

-Steve Lamacq's 6 music blog

For once though, I'm not as enthusiastic as Steve. Listening to the band's myspace, I wasn't immediately bowled over by the music I heard. It was fine, I will listen to them again. But, the music, as The Cat says, is very "twisted". For me, it doesn't seem to end up going anywhere. I can't feel any beat. I can't find the tune. I can't sing along. I like music that I can feel. Maybe it is just a bit "too much".

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Unsung - Shelly Still

My inbox is now getting steadily fuller with myspace "friend" requests and other e-mails suggesting I listen to a new and potentially up-and-coming artist.

I can still stand by my promise that I will listen to every request that comes in - so please do keep them coming.(1) However, it may take a while, given that I have a 9-5 job nowadays (together with my set of extra curricular activities).

So, I'm no longer going to have "unsung" every other Wednesday, I'm just going to post something when I get time to listen and write something down. Starting this week, with Shelly Still.

Writing this as I am on a Sunday morning, it's clear that the gentle acoustic charms are perfect Sunday morning hangover music (although, yesterday being Valentine's Day, I avoided the city centre at all costs and only had a couple of drinks at home so haven't been able to put that theory to the test). It's getting quite rare nowadays that you hear such soothing folk music, save for specific events. It's not 'radio friendly', which is a great shame. I suppose this is why Shelly will never make it big. But I like it. And there's a free mini-album to download from her myspace too, so there's no reason why anyone can't like it (as Shelly said to me, "Free is good"). It's music for the sake of being music. And we really don't see enough of it.

1 - And, as an aside, if you've heard about a new band and want to "tell the world", feel free to write it yourself. An even if not, there's enough e-mails now I can just forward you details of "Band Z" and let you decide how good they are. So, if you are interested in joining the writing team here at 'Bites, just e-mail.

TOTW7: Coldplay - Life in Technicolou ii

A more 'normal' week at long last, and thankfully a much wider selection of tracks to mention.

Johnny Got a Boom Boom I've heard a few times over the past months - she first appeared on "Later...". But now, there's a release date - 2 March. Imelda May is described a "rockabilly", which I think is almost an insult, as a musical style it sounds derogatory. It isn't, and it certainly isn't meant to be - I urge you not to want to dance along with this track.

Released a few weeks back (25 Jan to be exact), Oh My God by Ida Maria is perhaps surprisingly similar to Imelda May. And not just because you can take the "mel" out of the latter to get the former. It's music with a definite beat, and is very easy to understand. You hear it once, and you'll recognise from that point for months. Ida Maria's music is all very distinctive - if I had one concern though it's that they're not completely distinctive from each other, which stops me from going out and buying the album.

Time to mention a couple "Sound of 2009" hopefuls. Dan Black is back with Alone (9 March), and with a very weird video. For some reason, I'm left thinking Calvin Harris - I think it's more the colours in the video than anything else, as the music can only be said to bear a passing resemblance at best. I do like Dan Black's style, and with Alone there's not much more to say about the style that's not been already said. However, whilst it's not totally different, it's still distinct. (BTW - Top Tip - Free download available on danblacksound.com of his latest Demo, I Love Life, which also sounds pretty good).

Empire of the Sun were also in the list - and Walking on a Dream is getting airplay for what must be a re-release on Monday. It's not that I don't like the song, it's very like MGMT, and I love MGMT. But, it's very like MGMT. My flat mate just asked me if it was MGMT, so similar things sound. It's good music, but if I wanted to listen to MGMT, I'd listen to MGMT. A solitary single, it's great - soothing, bouncy, stylish. But you have to forget who's singing it to really enjoy it.

TOTW though goes to something fairly predictable for a change, and a "big" band. I know I've mentioned it before, but Life in Technicolour ii (2 Feb) by Coldplay is well written, stadium music - as the brilliant (and highly unusual) video shows. If I was in a mood to be really musical I'd refer to the effective continuo throughout. But I'm not, so I suggest you just listen and enjoy...

Saturday, 14 February 2009

In Concert: Joy Formidable

Well, it took a wee while, but I finally got there. Carlisle Brickyard is a 'proper' venue - small, intimate, and with a decent history. Quite a few bands have performed there 'before they were famous', so it's a good place to keep your eyes on things. And, when I heard that up-and-coming band The Joy Formidable were due to perform, I decided that if I didn't go I'd regret it. Most unfortunately, there was not bitter on tap from the start of the evening, but providing it was a one off I will let them off on the basis of good music.

The evening started however with The Common Empire. I wasn't expecting much, they're Scottish after all (sorry guys), so after their set was very impressed. I thought at the time I'd heard bits of Blur, Glasvegas, Franz Ferdinand and Madness. Including madness from the lead singer. Jack of Spaces in particular has got that reggae feel. Out of Bounds is loud, raucous, and Indie Rock at its finest. It was thoroughly enjoyable toe-tapping music. Chazz's voice on lead vocals isn't the most tuneful or polished, but I don't think it matters all that much. Would I say they're the next big thing? Well, probably not I'm afraid. But it's good stuff all the same.

Room full of Owls followed up, with a full 6piece ensemble. I think the adverse to the The Common Empire applied here though. It was a very different line-up, I was expecting good things - but for the most part it was the same old music. Enjoyable, good, but nothing special. I was going to write a pretty luke warm review, until they finished their set with Patterns. On the radio, I'm not a huge fan of long instrumentals. But live, they've something completely different. They're an experience to feel the full power behind a band, and - done well - awe inspiring. At the time I wrote "Irish folk with a drum and guitars" to describe the song - listening to it again on myspace I think it's still a decent description, but the recording doesn't get any where near to demonstrating how good that was. I would have bought a CD there and then - but they'd run out. Shame...

Finally, the headliners - Joy Formidable. I've mentioned in the past that they're getting tipped at the minute for big things, and the set did reflect that. Just as with Room full of Owls, some cracking instrumental sections so you can feel the music instead of just listening to it. I decided to try out my the video facility on my new phone instead of lugging over my slightly-better-quality digi-cam, so whilst the quality it pretty crap there's no reason I can't demonstrate how they sounded live with a short clip of what will be their next single (out 16th Feb) - Cradle.

video

One complaint though was the length of the set. You were just getting into things when it came to an end. My immediate reaction of "more please" wasn't in a good way.It created the impression (wrong, I'm sure) that there wasn't much else to the listen to. What was there though was definitely cracking stuff. Loud, powerful, dynamic indie rock - starting the set as they meant to go on. I would go and see them again, and I think they're a safe bet for future plaudits.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Two Door Cinema Club

It's interesting how some things 'combine' at times. Not all that long ago, I got an e-mail letting me know about "Two Door Cinema Club" (must be a small cinema, otherwise I'm sure it'll be breaching fire regulations...). I had a listen, read about them - and then in catching up on some podcasts heard them again on Lammo's Radio1 podcast. They're going to be appearing live on that very show on 16 February, so it's clear they've already getting known then - great sign.

I'm not entirely sure how to describe the group. I always like to draw comparisons - it's the easiest way to get a feel for the music after all. However, I'm not really sure there is anything. It's indie music, that's clear enough. But, I can't sort of group them in any way - it's pretty fast paced stuff, good club music, full of harmonies and instrumentalisation (making up words as I go along as ever). What I can say, with confidence, is that I like them. It is the sort of music that gets your attention, and you that want to listen to them. If they're already getting radio airplay, they're definitely one to keep an eye on.

(Apologies for the shorter than usual Unsung this week, I have received a multitude of e-mails with other talents but haven't got the time to listen to them tonight - for reasons which will become apparent before the end of the weekend)

EDIT 13/02/09 18:55 - I've not really thought about the option of this before, but I've been told I'm free to do so. So, I now include in this post the first ever "Asp's Musical Bites Guilt Free Download for your musical listening pleasure" (or AMBGFDFYMLP for short). Something Good Can Work is going to be the band's debut single, and with the airplay they're starting to get you can now say where you heard them first. Or second. Or whatever number this is now :) You just need to click on the title to this post at the top of this post. It'll work differently if you're on an RSS, but I'm not sure how :S

Sunday, 8 February 2009

TOTW6: The Killers - Spaceman

Due to my week-long absence, I've probably listened to no more than 40 minutes radio all week. So, very little to chose from, but thankfully in those 40 minutes I heard the Killers.

There's not much to say about it really, because I've said how much I like the song before - so it's a very simple choice.

The official video is now available though, and well worth a watch - but isn't embeddable, so here they are with Jools:

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Wednesday, 4 February 2009

S is for somber...

Many songs I feature in "Alphabetising" are either covers (or more often tracks that are later covered). I've been thinking of the particular cover of (Somewhere) over the Rainbow for a while though. No doubt as many others, I first heard it played when Dr Mark Greene died on TV Series ER. Choosing music to fit moments in TV shows is notoriously difficult, but I don't believe a more perfect choice has ever been made. The story of "Bruddah Iz" is also somewhat moving on its own, dying at the short age of just 38.

Without trying to get too mournful though, there is another version of the song that is just as beautiful, and with a similarly sad tale behind it. Eva Cassidy died in 1996, at a similarly young age. Her fame has come posthumously, mainly because of her version getting airplay with Terry Wogan. Notoriously, the only video of her performance is a camcorder recording from the Live at Blues Alley session. Which makes it even more incredible in many ways.

Moving away from the somber notes though, there's some totally different songs beginning with "S" - enjoy.


Sunday, 1 February 2009

TOTW: January Last Chance

What am I going to do here?

Post the "last chance" post on the first of the following month - that's fair enough.

But how many to chose? And under what criteria?

Well, for this month at least, I'm going to chose two. Because I like them both very much, and can't chose between them. Both were released on 19 Jan, and both have been mentioned several times already, so there's little to mention, just things to watch.

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