Sunday, 30 August 2009

Would you like some pop ladies?

Rock festivals are all around at the moment, but no one seems to be releasing anything - so I thought I'd focus on the sophomore solo efforts of ladies who used to be in other bands.

The first is Frou Frou's Imogen Heap - as normal, thrown into fame and stardom by a vocal only effort called Hide and Seek appearing on US TV show of no real note, The OC.

She famously re-mortgaged her house to record her debut album, Speak For Yourself. She managed to land the lead song on the end credits of Disney's Narnia movie. She now releases another layered vocal effort as the first single off of her new album, Ellipse.

Imogen Heap - First Train Home

Runner up. Irish singer who won't let her accent be hidden, Dolores O'Riordan. Taking the odd approach of including one of the songs from her first solo album on her new album, No Baggage - albeit slightly revamped (in a - this song is good, you WILL hear it - style of hissy fit?). Dolores, former singer with the Cranberries - just does what she does best - as an album, it's more like the Cranberries than her first, you'd almost not notice the difference.

Debut single The Journey is probably the most individual track, it's fairly catchy - you can't sing along to it unless you're Irish though.

Dolores O'Riordan - The Journey

V-Blog: The other bits

Well, V finished almost exactly one week ago, and now I'm back from France I can tell you all about it. Except, as you might have guessed from the lack of numerous posts (to which I once again have to thank Hazard), what I warned could happen did happen and my view of any stages wasn't the greatest.

Still, of those bands on my "would like to see" list, whilst I didn't see that many I did catch the odd song from plenty - even if it was just hearing them from afar. The Noisettes were nice and racy; The Killers sounded as brilliant as I would have hoped; Mystery Jets were raucous; Athlete sounded pretty good.

The big shame is that, in not really watching one set in any great detail (save for the fabulous Specials), I can't really say who was brilliant - it really is a case of being one thing listening, and another seeing. To an extent, I can listen on the radio... It also means that (save for Dizzee Rascal) no-one struck me as being particularly crap (and I think Dizzee Rascal is mainly a question of personal taste as the crowd seemed to be loving it).

So, sadly not much to report on this blog - but it was still a cracking event and with any luck I'll be back once again next year.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Remi Nicole - Cupid Shoot Me

image The second album from another soulful singer on the Island Label (vaguely familiar routine there then) is out on Monday - but what makes Remi Nicole stand out from what is becoming a very busy genre (particularly with stablemate Amy Winehouse)?

Well, all 11 tracks on the album have been written by Ms Nicole, and when I first listened to a quick sample of the album I was quite dissapointed. They lacked the certain "oopmh" and really catchy chorus of Standing Tears Apart (the first single, out now). Thankfully, it was a grower - I think what the problem was the initial shock of such a varied range of sounds in a short time frame. In retrospect though, it shows great variety and creativity from a young singer-songwriter.

Cupid Shoot Me, the title track, is especially soulful and perhaps a bit 60s with the chorus (Happy Days anyone?). Nice Boy is guitar lead and "shoo-woddy" - with a wonderful catchy beat. Whereas Come Find Me is the slow and melancholy one that every album has. And, if anything, Love You so is somewhere towards Rockabilly!

Thankfully, after getting used to all the differences, I'm able to say that yes, they are all good tracks. The diversity does actually mean that you won't get bored from the album - and with a wonderful voice, harmonies, and memorable tunes, there's nothing to get bored of in any event.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Unsung: Girls

If I said to you Lust for Life, the latest single by Girls wouldn't be what you had in mind. Mind you, from the band name, you wouldn't be expecting two San Franciscans called Christopher and "JR", would you? The first song I heard from the band was the wonderfully grumbling Hellhole Ratrace.

A bit like a non-Scottish Glasvegas, the song seems to drone on in a dreary fashion - which I appreciate sounds very negative but isn't meant to be, it's a character of the song. The bit I am going to say that's negative though is that it does drone on for a little too long - 6 minutes is an overly long song and you do get the feeling it could end much earlier than it does.

Solitude suffers no such problem though, and with the simple accompaniment is perhaps the easiest place to listen to the carefully chosen lyrics of the songs - themes of heartbreak clearly coming from some of the songs as Christopher Owens admits was a source of inspriation. Lust for Life is completely different from the other two I've had the opportunity to listen to - a bit crazier in terms of both lyrics, tune, and definitely video. All in all, it's what I'd best describe as a very "tempting" start - and one to listen to for the future.

Lust for Life is out on 7 Sept, with the debut album imaginatively entitled "Album" following on the 28th over here in Europe.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

V-Blog: Mystery Jets

Heard 'two doors down'. Got sound to going to see mystery jets, stage closed. Gutted, the bit i heard sounded brill. Elbow in the distance is good though.

Asp @ V

Saturday, 22 August 2009

V-Blog: The Specials

Yup, they've still got it. First song - Do the Dog. Loud, crazed, getting the crowd going. Time for Too Much Too Young. Highlight so far already (not that there's been much to compare against yet!).

Asp @ V

V-Blog: Dizzee Rascal

Oh dear, it's Dizzee Rascal. Is this music?

Asp @ V

V-Blog: The Noisettes

Okay, so it's from a distance, but I still don't know what she was wearing. Who wears short shorts? Funky set though, some numbers I haven't heard before.Funny thing was then moving to behind the stage and cocking up the 4Music interview as we did!

Asp @ V

TOTW34: The Noisettes - Wild Young Hearts

I'm doing something I've never done before this week. I first shortlisted Wild Young Hearts in December 2008. The Noisettes have been TOTW a few times since, and now Wild Young Hearts is back on the playlists. It's a great tune, described by Stuart Maconie last night as a "Fruithat" song - imagine the Caribbean and someone dancing to this tune with a "fruithat", and you'll see what he means...

Bubbling Under:
Mika - We are Golden
Lily Allen - Twenty-Two
Hockey - Song Away
Pixie Lott - Boys & Girls (Does this sound like the start to a dodgy TV comedy mixed with the Sugababes?)
Jack Penate - Pull my heart away

Thursday, 20 August 2009

V2009: Preview

image Next weekend is V then - and I'm please to report that, as last year, Hazard will be assisting as the "hub" for remote posting throughout the weekend (I still can't convince my phone to let me blog from the site); and I'll be giving a full report in due course thereafter (but not immediately, because I'll be going straight on my summer holidays)

Regular readers will know from my previous years at V that I don't know what I'm going to be doing until I get there, or (more importantly for this blog) where I'm going to be. I may be allocated to a stage or just in a general public enclosure. Either way, I'll be nearer one stage than any others, and won't have the complete flexibility as I did at Kendal Calling to go and explore another stage because there's a good band.

Thankfully, being V, there's a brilliant range of talent on all stages. So, it's more a case of "when do I want to arrange my lunch break not to miss if I'm in the area and hope not to get any patients at that time".

On that list is:

V Stage - Killers, The Specials; Oasis, James

4Music  - The Ting Tings, The Noisettes; Keane, Athlete

The Arena - Calvin Harris, Happy Mondays; MGMT, The Human League, Ben's Brother

Virgin Media Union - Alphabeat, V V Brown; Mystery Jets, One Eskmi0

I'm sure that I'll be able to report on at least two of the above, and hopefully a very many more. Watch this space as it happens for details.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


Even though it's from the 1957 film, Jailhouse Rock was the first ever single to enter the charts straight in at No1 on the 24th January 1958. No great surprise it ended up being the biggest seller of the year...

It's a nice and familiar top 5 though - sadly a really enjoyable release from the year ending up at No6. All together now, "There's Juice loose about this hoouse"

(This post is brought to you in association with Wine Gums, obviously)


Monday, 17 August 2009

One EskimO - Givin' Up

I've already mentioned One EskimO once here, and I'm sure there's going to be plenty more mentions to come - with enough luck I'll go to watch them at V this year, there's a delayed album review to post just in time for the delayed album launch in September, and they're definitely turning to one of my favourite bands of the year - if slightly "underground" (in the sense as not mainstream yet, as opposed to a style of music). One track that isn't on the album though is Givin' Up - it was meant to be, but an internet leak got it "out there" in April of this year, and the Don Diablo mix was then made available as a free download in June. Like all remixes though, there's more than just the one - in fact I have 3 available as a free download here (together with the original for comparison purposes). I've never really understood remixes - and whilst the original is as good as it is, it's often a pointless exercise. Personally, I feel that the Zero T remix is a bit like something I'd find on a computer game... The original is dreamy and tuneful, with a powerful (whist not annoyingly loud) chorus. And, with this in mind, I really do actually like to Don Diablo remix. It's only a slight twist - more electonic (obviously) - maybe even a bit Muse-like, a bit of a faster feel to it. Just a bit more get up and go, but no so much to be unfaithful to the roots of the song. Anyway, have a listen, and shout out if you have further comments.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Ting Tings: We Started Nothing

image I've been sat on this album for far too long, and never got round to making a post about it - so, time to quickly put that right.

I suppose one reason it's taken me a while to get round to reviewing the album is that it also took me ages to actually buy the thing. The Ting Tings were a band who always had loads of good tracks, but very few were fantastic. OK, we all know That's not my name, but could be worried that the other singles of Great DJ, We Walk ... they're all a bit similar - shouty, and not with the greatest tune, but still good with an addictive quality.

Overall, the album is pretty much of the same - good, but nothing brilliant. Fruit Machine is pretty clever with its fast pace, and Traffic Light is very different from the feel of the rest of the album with a reggae feel. The recurring "loud" theme does make it an album that you can only listen to on loop if you're driving late at night, and some times it does just make it a bit too much. But, it's an unusual sound, and you'll hear very little like it - so when you're in the mood, it's perfect.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

TOTW33: Arctic Monkeys - Crying Lightning

Quite a tricky one this week actually. Even the dreaded re-release (in this case, Wild Young Hearts by the Noisettes) has been regularly appearing in my mind and made it to the shortlist. Daniel Merriweather is continuing with his very soulful period, and Impossible has got that persistent funky accompaniment to add to the unique vocal sound.

At the end of the day though, it came between two. Twenty Two by Lily Allen is very distinctive, and with that predictable conflict between a bouncy tune and depressive lyrics. I'm just hoping that my life isn't already over at 24 either.

TOTW though, I've talked about before, and can't add much. It is clearly an evolution from the previous two albums - it's got the dischordant "wooziness" (as Fraser McAlpine defines it), and yet is still really powerful and dramatic.

Oh, and do you reckon that everyone barr Matt could seriously do with a trip to barbers?

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

TOTW32: Athlete - Superhuman Touch

I've go to blog about Muse's latest offering, even if I'm not going to make it TOTW yet. Coming soon is their latest album "The Resistance", and earlier this week I heard the lead single Uprising. To which all I can see is - brilliant.

OK, so more than one person has already told me it sounds like the theme to Doctor Who. And yes, it's very definitely Muse, and the anthemic chorus is maybe slightly too close to Knights of Cydonia. But so what - it's what makes the band. And we'll all be remembering it for ages to come. The single and album aren't out until September, and only one radio listen over the week will never make a TOTW - but watch this space.

Also bubbling under this week was:
Arctic Monkeys - Crying Lightning
Kasabian - Where did all the love go?
Green Day - 21 Guns

TOTW though is from a band who've been fairly quiet recently, with a good catchy chorus which is all a song really needs to embed it into people's memories. Plus it's got them electronic twiddles - nice :)



I'm wondering if there's any comments I can make about this selection. I can't see any links, any similarities, or anything. Apart from that perhaps the number 5 is the best song of the lot. No accounting for taste eh?

Monday, 3 August 2009

Kendal Calling: Night 3

Much better night musically tonight, so well worth taking today off work to enjoy the activities.

I caught the end of Idlewild, with the sort of music that'll really get you going including A Modern Way of letting go - really enjoyable.

Then, I was in the pit for the final headliners Ash. I love being in the pit for two reasons - first of all if anything happens medically they land at your feet and you have no preparation time, it's a real rush. Secondly, it's the best view in the house. Scarily, being paired with young Carly, she had never heard of Ash, and only recognised a couple of the old favourites Shining Light and Goldfinger I think being the relevant two. However, they've also got some new-er songs around, like Twighlight of the Innocents, bringing a wide selection of songs. Which to an extent was actually unnecessary - the classic songs from the band's hey-day were sounding just as fresh as they did about 15 years ago. Good at getting the crowd going, really enjoyable.

Elsewhere, 3/4 of Mumford & Sons were late starting, so I wasn't able to hang around for more than the first part of the song which took a while to get going; Birds vs Planes Carly and myself were in mutual agreement that the music was fine and what we'd both like, but lead singer Jenny's voice was clearly on its way out; and somewhat disappointingly the Whisky Cats didn't really get going as I hoped, but that was possibly because of what was coming from the Keylied tent just round the corner.

Craig Charles on the decks playing the best of funk & soul got the crowd going incredibly as Sunday turned into Monday. Disco, funk, Motown, and best of all some Northern Soul (inevitably). When Frank Wilson started, I almost had to be physically restrained from joining in with the crowd - although I've got so say wearing boots in a muddy field isn't the greatest for the dancing...

Final thoughts then - Kendal Calling is still quite a small festival, but better for it. More intimate. From my own perspective, the music got better as the weekend went on, but to an extent that was the shifts I was working. It's been going from strength to strength since it's conception, and if the line-ups stay of a similar standard I'm very likely to be back next year. V2009 in just a few weeks will end up being a shock.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Kendal Calling : Night 2

So, with The Zutons headlining - who from the one or two songs I heard from walkabout were once again very good but I have been there before, so instead some other bands to touch upon, all of whom I think I've mentioned at some point in the past in this blog.

Frank Turner played to a packed out Keyleid Stage. The Ballad of Me & My Friends is one I've heard before, somewhere (I love these mysteries), and sounded just as good live as I hoped. Turner may have a potty mouth between the songs, but with some almost acoustic numbers (save for crowd participation) his talents as a his musician cannot be called into question.

Later, over on the We are Calling stage, Chewlips also packed 'em out - including me and some other Johnnies (well, it was raining). It was very bass heavy, as you can feel the beat through your abdomen. Throughout the set, I was thinking "I recognise this music" and "they sound very like that band that sung the song that goes ''We don't wanna wait there's no time, no time no ". That sung is obviously called Solo, and then there was the final number. Oh... Sorry, but the brain hasn't been properly functioning over the weekend!

It ended up being an intimate setting, and cracking singing from Tigs made it a really enjoyable and surprise set.

Another surprise was Casio Kids, who I often get tracks off to listen to but have never been overly enamoured with them. However, it's very apparent that they are a "Live band". A wide selection of instruments (including the famous cowbell) from the Norweigan group got the Keyleid stage going just after midnight. It was almost chill-out, but clear that the band were hard at work. Vendens storste land sounded particuarly great coming live. Maybe this served as the catalyst to get me properly interested in the guys.

I've got to add - all of these 3 groups had sell-out crowds, and none are "huge" names in the way that the Zutons are. Music awareness is growing round here, and well done to everyone who got away from the main stages to discover what else is on offer at the festival.

July last chance: Frankmusik

I was very tempted to go for Paloma Faith for last chance, but even though Confusion Girl has got some stick for not being as strong as some of Frankmusik's previous singles, and having a "look at my hot celebrity girlfriend" video, I still like it. It's classic pop, and reminds me of some other song with that chorus (from recent years) that I've not been able to put my finger on. Enjoyable music, that's all I ask!

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Saturday, 1 August 2009

Kendal Calling: Night 1

With what can only be described as predictable irony, as I set off to see the one band I quite fancied of the night (Fight Like Apes) we stumbled across a drugged-up punter, and by the time I'd sorted him out the "We are calling" stage had concluded for the night. So, musical highlights were fairly slim pickings I'm afraid.

Couple of bands worth a mention though - first of all Out from Animals. I knew from hearing them away from the tent that it was the sort of music that I like - very loud, drum heavy music that sounds absolutely brilliant live. Sometimes it then means that I don't like the studio edits, but having a quick listen to some of the other songs I'm pleased to report that's not the case. Potentially one to keep an eye on.

Then, after many of the stages (save for the dance tent, which was nothing sort of torture whilst subjected to that) had shut down I went to the Keylied (folk) stage. There was an excellent band on, which a crazy fiddle player and a lead singer who didn't sound that dissimilar to James Blunt, but only occasionally so it's not a bad thing for once. Butterfly was a good song, but I completely loved New York Trader. I recognised it somehow or from somewhere - maybe another folk festival I've been to this year, maybe an advert - but it was definitely memorable. Easy to sing along with, catchy, all great.

Unfortunately, looking at my timetable (which was much changed), it's not the band who were due on that stage at that time, so must have been the famous person "Special Guest". And no amount of googling has helped so far.

I will try harder tonight. Promise.

TOTW31: Anthoney Wright - Wud if I Cud

Bubbling Under

Athlete - Superhuman touch

James Morrison - Nothing ever hurt like you

Daniel Merriweather - Impossible