Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Snobs and Liars

I frequently get called, by my otherwise lovely girlfriend, a "music snob". Whilst I admit that nothing written on this blog does much to dispel that impression, I'd have to disagree. A music snob is, in my mind, the kind of person who will deride your music taste and then, when asked what they like, offer a very aloof answer like "Oh you won't know the kind of bands I like".
(An answer someone ACTUALLY GAVE once. Which would've been okay, had they not been referring to Mogwai. Y'know, Mogwai, that band that are super obscure, never heard-of, certainly not headlining the Manchester Academy and been critically acclaimed and respected for 15 years.)

I would like to think that rather enjoying being a fan of bands most people don't know, I endeavour to tell people about good bands so that they may become more well known, rather than keeping them to myself and bathing in indie kudos.

However, I found myself guilty of a snobbish blunder last week. I was on a "road trip" with a good uni friend and we were listening to some "tunes". We'd already worn out Thieving by Akira The Don so, in search for more tunes I checked my bag. In there, was Last Exit by Junior Boys- a lovely birthday present- and a new purchase, Sisterworld by Liars.

Here's where my snobbiness reared its undesirable head. My friend asked that I put it on, and I did, but in the back of my mind I was going "Oh dear, I don't think he'd like Liars. They are a bit too weird and experimental".

I know.

How awful.

In my defence, Liars have always been a band that I had ambivalent feelings about. "They Were Wrong, So We Drowned" and "Drum's Not Dead" are both great albums, once you accept that they have no problem with whetting your appetite with a nice drum beat or catchy synth warble and then cut it dead and go into ambient squawks for ages before coming back to the song's 'meat and potatoes'.

But my mind was changed on them after seeing them live (with Deerhunter supporting, great gig). It's there that there blend of delirious drums and guitar squeals 'n' rumbles make perfect sense.

So yes, whilst it was very bad of me to assume my friend wouldn't like them, it was based on my not being to convinced by them on my first listening.

Fortunately I needn't have worried as the new Liars album is amazing Opening track Scissor has eerie high pitched choral backing vocals and pounding out-of-nowhere guitar attacks- which have been Liars trademarks for ages- yet for some reason it is less abrasive and unbelievably more pop-minded and accessible whilst still remaining true to its weird roots. Something Radiohead have always been capable of, clearly Liars were taking note when they supported Thom Yorke's crew on their US tour.

So basically, don't assume that just because a band have an experimental and difficult past, that their new album won't impress your friends. And if a band release an album as good as Sisterworld, don't keep it to yourself, tell people about it.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Disconnect the Dots

Yeah, I quoted Of Montreal.

The music business is apparently dying because of illegal downloaders. Despite evidence showing that downloaders contribute more to the "biz" than those who don't, there is a very sinister final step about to be made against those internet varmits.

Essentially, if you download illegally, the government has the right to disconnect your internet for an undisclosed amount of time. I believe the going rate is if you illegally download 50 things.

What I have trouble with is not necessarily that this will involve MASSIVE MONITORING OF MY ONLINE ACTIVITIES but the fact that an awful lot of downloading could look to the ominous internet monitors to seem illegal when ethically sound (and what are laws if not applied ethics).

I shall give some examples.

I am an attempted/aspiring music writer. One particular thing I write for is Drunken Werewolf. Now as much as you should check out DW for yourself, I'll give you a brief rundown. It is an independent zine that is free. This is on the basis that music is a very important thing and the artists featured within are worthy of your attention (ie. worthy of whatever money you can spare to spend on music) and therefore it would be perverse to ask for money you could be spending on the bands within.

Simply put, the zine is not for profit neither me, a contributor, nor Tiff the editor expect to gain money from it. Because of this the "production costs" need to be kept to a minimum. This means that if we get a promo copy of an album, it is easier and cheaper for the album to be sent over the web and not through the post. But this means, when- as I did recently- I download the new Magnetic Fields album to review for the new issue of Drunken Werewolf, will the government take the time to ascertain that it is all above board? Because, you see, I've written for over 10 issues of Drunken Werewolf reviewing about 2 or 3 albums per issue. That means that, if the new bill was enforced I would be halfway towards getting my internet cut off. Great.

I also have a radio show for local bands. Because of this I ask a lot of local acts to send me mp3s. Recently, I read on Twitter and facebook that local band Well Wisher had recorded their EP (incidentally, it's very good and they were featured in an article in Drowned in Sound which is cool). So I spoke to the band, got myself a juicy link to download the EP to play on the show. worriedaboutsatan have also sent me an EP to use tracks from. And Borland. And The Lovely Eggs. And Fall Fan Dave and the Laptop Dancers. But yes, when I download these albums/EPs, will the government bother to find out that the artists I'm supposedly "stealing" from have SENT ME THE LINK.

And what about albums/mixtapes/bootlegs that are given away free anyway? the classic examples being QuoteUnQuote Records and the ever more relevantly named You Are Not Stealing Records. Will Virgin Media not see that I've been downloading large album sized chunks of data?

Seriously, there are so many holes that can be poked in this bill. However, what with people trying to urge the bill through without it even being put up to debate, it might not even be prodded.

Seriously, I'm a student and I'm actually considering writing to my MP, how's that for motivation. To bastardise a quote from internet legends don't be an apathetic hipster douchbag, learn about the world and find out how they're trying to take away your internet with little to no reason. Do that here.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fun & Bass

Here's a song a I came across recently on The Daily Growl but is feeling very appropriate this morning.

Not Squares are an Irish three-piece who play bass, drums and bass (+ occasional synths) between them. Drum and bass bands can conjure up a number of images. From Death From Above's distort-everything-and-do-riffs approach, to Lightning Bolt's distort-everything-and-do-noise approach, to Dianogah's just-play-post-rock-and-people-might-not-notice-we-don't-have-guitars approach. Either way, those are the options and most subsequent bands have coloured firmly in the lines.

This it's why it's nice for Not Squares to show that if you don't have guitars, this doesn't mean you have to be very sweaty and serious (DFA are fun, but they took themselves very seriously). You can be sweaty and silly. Plus the basslines haven't gone through a million distortion pedals, which makes a refreshing change and gives their stuff- especially Asylum- an "Army of Tina Weymouths" feel. And anything that reminds me of Tina Weymouth is automatically great.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Indelicates and the Devil's music

So yes, I saw The Indelicates on Thursday night, and- as predicted- they were superb. Their drummer was apparently out of action, but as Julia Indelicate explained afterwards, their new material has a more lush, cabaret feel to it, meaning that, even without drums, the songs were still propulsive and interesting. In fact, you got the feeling that if there had been drums, you'd have lost the intimate atmosphere and it would have felt too much like a gig, rather than the "Evening of songs with the Indelicates" that it turned into.

I don't know if they'll be playing more gigs around the country, but what with their album Songs for Swinging Lovers being released next months, I'm sure a more complete tour will be on the cards soon. So yes, see them if or when you get the chance.

Now onto another band I've been meaning to blog about for a while. worriedaboutsatan are a very interesting band from Leeds. I first came across them when I saw them supporting at the always great Mad Ferret pub, on a bill with the amazing Spokes and Capulet- two of the best post rock bands in the North of England.

Seeing as post rock isn't a genre known for it's astounding musical variety, there was always a risk that having two classic-sounding post-rock bands on the same night could get samey, so having worriedaboutsatan was a stroke of genius. They take the typical post-rock elements (pretty, sparkling guitars and odd, spoken-word snippets) but layer them over tight, skittering techno "beats". Well, it's impossible to write beats without sounding like an out of touch 46 year old.

Anyway, they were superb when I saw them live, and now they have a rather brilliant single coming out imminently called Heart Monitor. The physical CD is limited to a sparse 100 copies, which is pretty much nothing. I intend to try and make it to their gig in Manchester on the 26th, in order to get one- it comes with a badge, hospital form and very pretty artwork.

The single can be streamed on soundcloud here. I really love it.

So yes, that might be the longest blog I have ever done that didn't turn into a rant. Expect more blogs soon as I have got most of university out of the way.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Tomorrow night, I am going to see the rather amazing Indelicates at the lovely Ruby Lounge in Manchester. I'm pretty excited.

The Indelicates first came to my attention after a music blog, possibly the sadly no-longer-often-updated Stop Me If You Think You Heard This One Before, posted a link to the free mp3 demos on their website. What first attracted me to the band was, without a doubt, their song titles. "Waiting for Pete Doherty to Die"? Pure genius!

Needlessly to say, the mix of cynicism, rage and wit in the lyrics matched the titles and I was hooked. The band released debut album 'American Demo' in 2008 and was very hurriedly forgotten about, which is nigh on criminal. Not only because it contains the anthemic and amazing "New Art For The People" but also some of the best indie-on-indie lyrical commentary of all time with "If Jeff Buckley Had Lived". Now they're back with a new album. I thought you all needed to see the cover because it is GENIUS!

How awesome is that?

Interesting footnote, I interviewed Simon Indelicate in the tiny kitchen down the little Fire Exit corridor on that cover. Oh the life and times of an indie rock shmoozer.

I'll probably review the gig- though I don't expect it to be anything less than "very fun".