Sunday, 29 March 2009

TOTW13: Jai Ho (You are my destiny)

I'm not actually putting the artist in this week's TOTW title, because it's fairly long:

A R Rahman & The Pussycat Dolls ft Nicole Scherzinger - Jai Ho! (You are my destiny)

I don't think it actually needs much introduction. It's that song out of off of Slumdog Millionaire, with the Pussycat Dolls adding a bit of Western influence.

What I can't figure out is why I like it. I'm not a fan of Eastern music - some of it is good, but since hearing at Blackburn Mela the Bangra version of Roy Orbison's Pretty Woman I've not given it much credence. Nor, even more understandably, do I like the Pussycat Dolls (for their music at any rate).

What it must be in the match between the two styles of music. It's a bit of a juxtaposition - yet it very clearly works, creating an enthusiastic sound. Effort must have been put in to create the sound just right to match the movie and it's wide ranging appeal, and they've managed it. It's not going to encourage me to diversify my interest - far from it, but as a stand alone track, it's got so much in it's favour, it's very impressive.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Glasvegas: Glasvegas

The opening chords of the debut album from Glasvegas reminded me of the opening chords of "Seldom Seem Kid" - building towards something.

It has taken me a while to get round to talking about this album, almost as long as it took me to buy it - but there was a special offer on at HMV so it was a good chance to build the CD collection.

One reason it's taken me a while to talk about it is because it's taken me a while to listen to it more than once. It was banned from my road trips over to Newcastle on the basis that it was too depressing. And whilst I think that's a wee bit harsh, there is a point. You only need to look at the titles to establish that. It's my own cheating heart that makes me cry, Daddy's gone - it's hardly Take That poptastic is it?

But, they're not all like. Take Go Square Go. It's got a vivid beat, and it's easily danceable unlike many. OK, the lyrics are about bullying, but you can try and ignore this.

Musically, it's a very well put together album. It starts off as one continuous track with no joins - like albums used to be. You know where the difference is. Classic lovers may appreciate the twist of Beethoven's 'Moonlight' Sonata in Stabbed - which is particularly moving.  Ice Cream Van is an almost hypnotic number, with swirling accompaniment. And it does end the album with a hint of hope. Despite the storms - the ice cream van will come one day.

I don't really get those people that look at the album with such depressed tones. Look at it as a whole - things are going bad in the world (especially now). But, there's always that glimmer of hope.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Why sampling should be illegal...

I could use a massive diatribe of reasons why, and the benefits of it all, who it effects, what it'd change, why it's wrong etc. but I thought I'd just post this:

Saturday, 21 March 2009

TOTW12: Animal Collective - My Girls

I can't remember if I've mentioned Yeah Yeah Yeahs before. I've a feeling I must have done, but haven't got time to search... They've been around for ages (founded in 2000), but are still very much a niche band. So, here they are singing about a new flavour of a well known soft drink - Zero. An unusual sound - powerful, yet fast paced.

Too fake by Hockey doesn't seem to start like a song. Croaky voice, tuneless - but then it gets to the chorus. How catchy is that? Reminiscent of something that I can't quite place - but definitely an anthemic and rousing little number.

Going back to NYC (where the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hail from) though for the TOTW, Animal Collective are described as "avant-guard music collective". Each record may feature a different line-up, which is novel. This 6 minute extended edit of My Girls takes a little while to get going, but the twisted fantasy background music is mesmerising it its own way. Regular readers will know that a key feature of songs I love is "something different" - and I can't think of anything that really compares to this. Some may find it a tad repetitive, but I do feel that it builds to something.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Very Difficult

This is where "alphabetising" starts to get difficult.

Thankfully, we can have a "Same title, Different song" - Mark Ronson / Amy Winehouse / The Zutons and Steve Winwood. See the classic joke "Who killed The Zutons?" - "Mark Ronson".

I'm also a bit surprised how much ABBA there's been recently...

The letter V

Monday, 16 March 2009

Blitzkrieg Unsung

So, once a month Lammo does his "Blitzkrieg Pop" - 30 songs in 60 minutes. I can't profess to be that good - but I'm clearing a few on my unsung backlist by summarising a selection of bands in one short sentence, which will hopefully encourage you to listen to them more. That's the theory at any rate...

Wolfgang - Instrumental alternative well written tunes

Souls of Diotima - Foreign, nice acoustic bits, then it gets raucous!

Andrew Kevin Newton - 80s influence? No, 60s. No, 80s again. Yes, definitely 80s.

Amphibic - Guitar-based indie. Some soothing, some more standard.

Detroit Social Club - Remember 90s American bands? Sing along, but not in an anthemic way.

The Lies - Energetic Indie Rock.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

TOTW11: Take That - Up all Night

It's been a while since I've mentioned Friendly Fires. Every time they release a song I safely say that I like it, but I never seem to get as far as making it a huge hit. Skeleton Boy is no exception really - it's got a brilliantly memorable chorus, and a catchy beat, but I think overall it just lacks a bit of overall memorability.

I'm really liking the tracks that are appearing from Jools Holland's "Informer" album. I've mentioned the title track with Ruby Turner previously, and I went by with Louise Marshall is similarly brilliant. Very different - reminds me a bit of Peter Gabriel (That'll do), with it's slow and smooth tones. And no honky-tonk either!

Out tomorrow, it's taken me a while to mention Better than this by Keane. From cowbells, to stylophone (created via a keyboard). Catchy, and definitely fun. I know I've said it before, but this continues to prove the point that the "Perfect Symmetry" relaunch of the band is very productive.

I would never ever have thought that Take That could be a TOTW. But Up all Night doesn't sound like Take That. First time I heard it I wondered if Ben's Brother were back. OK, so the chorus sounds a bit like "Just flip out the back, Jack / Make a new Plan, Stan / You don't need to be coy Roy " (50 Ways to lose your lover), but it's catchy. It's a classic 3 minute pop song - I love the melodic changes at "I'm so tired of waiting"; and much as it pains me to say it, it shows that Gary Barlow is a very talent song writer.

PS - This is the first time I've been unable to link to the official video for a song. I normally like linking to the official clip, even if it's no embeddable, to refer to the artist. However, the official video for Up all Night isn't available in the UK, thanks to the much reported PRS / youtube row. It's a shame, and I am considering varying how I link to tracks in the future until it's resolved.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Unsung: Piano

Normally I wouldn't set out to listen to a band like Piano from their description. "Alternative / Rock / Progressive" is what their myspace says, and normally when a myspace listing includes "Rock", it means rock - which I'm not a fan of. I'd listen if asked (so keep those e-mails coming in folks), but not set out to find them. However, when there's a legal element - in that one member is also an active "blawger" - I'm prepared to give it a go. And "Alternative" is always promising...

First things first - bit of background. Piano is a well known band in Japan. But still unheard of in the UK. Why Japan, perhaps Chris can explain, or maybe it's just a weird fact of life. Still, if they can sell out venues half way round the world, they're not all that bad.

And I can see why. OK, I can't stand The Intended, unless it's just intended to drive rats away from the tuneless screaming. That's not a criticism of the band, that's a criticism of the style of music. But all is not lost - that was at the end of the playlist.

Immediately before that, I was finding myself enjoying Free Association Imagery, which is much more melancholy, legato, and harmonic. Even songs like Two Wrongs don't make a right are clearly musically sound. As I'm not overly qualified to comment though, I asked a "heavier" (as in musical taste, he's actually quite small) mate to give his brief opinion:

"Hmmm, it seems pretty good.
The vocals are very Funeral For A Friend-esque, without the screaming parts. Though I can't say i'm personally a fan of their emo style of singing.
The guitar's are hooky like bands like 12 Guage Alliance and InMe.
But yeah, overall they're pretty good, and technically seem pretty together, good use of volume (I know there's a technical term for it, but it's passed me by)
I quite like it really, the drums aren't particularly ground breaking, but it works well with the style of music.
Their best song on their MySpace is probably "Home is where the heart is"."

I think that counts as praise!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

TOTW10: Doves - Kingdom of Rust

I keep mentioned Dan Black, and I keep repeating my assertions that he's a very talented artist. I don't think there's anything else I can add about Alone (9March) that I've not already said in previous weeks, other than to watch this space :)

Something very very different is Black Hearted Love by P J Harvey & John Parish. The duo last collaborated in 1996, and a new 10-track collection called "A Woman A Man Walked by" is due out at the end of the month, and this is the opening track. Dark and moody matches Polly's vocal style perfectly, and Parish's multi-instrument talents with the brooding guitars just makes it a disturbing, but well written and immaculate track.

Talking about comebacks, it feels like it's been ages since Doves have been about - 2005 in fact. But, here they are with Kingdom of Rust (30March). It's almost classic in its style, orchestral, and emotive. Very promising for the album.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Unsung - Also now available in Audio Format

Yes, the special treat I've been working on is a podcast, which you can now download (and I hope you do) to listen the music all in one go.

It's very much a first attempt, production qualities do require a bit of work, so constructive comments are very welcome!

The Common Empire - Hoodlums - Amanda Applewood - Me-My-HeadAmazing Baby - Bombay Bicycle Club

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

TOTW: February Last Chance

A bit later than planned, and as I'm keen to do some work on the 'special feature' tonight I'm not going to say too much.

I am a bit wary about selecting this track as a last chance, because given it's 23rd Feb release it's still getting airplay, and it might still end up as a normal TOTW as a result.

However, it's such a good tune, it's not worth taking the risk. Quite different some of the other tracks on the album (more of which will invariable follow). Piano dominant, which shows nice variety - and that after the first few bars Adelle is about to start singing, and an easy to remember chorus. It is, of course, The Ting Tings - We Walk.

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Up & Under

Obvious track to start the "U" playlist, but who's version. Well, obviously not Robson & Jerome or Gareth Gates - but it's a tough call between the original Jimmy Young version, or the most famous one with the Righteous Brothers. Well, I can make pottery with the latter...

I'm also quite impressed with myself in getting two tracks in opposite themes by the same artist. Don't think I've managed that before...

The letter U