The Jess Hall Band

A week ago today I joined forces with Caroline English and Kat Williams and went off to interview a little group called The Jess Hall Band. They’re currently on tour supporting Newton Faulkner and last weekend played Princess Pavilion in Falmouth – just down the road.

First thing that struck me about the band were how lovely and how young they were! All 18 years old or there abouts and boy did they look it. The band comprises of Jess Hall and her group of talented cohorts i.e. best mates; drummer Stefan, bass player Andy, vocalist Alex and current stand-in guitarist Austin (Alex broke his finger skateboarding). Jess was spotted on Youtube but told by her manager that she’d be better suited in a band rather than as a solo artist – cue the talented bunch of lads she just happened to be friends with!

‘Before this we’d only played to about 50 people’ (Alex)

Before their current tour the band had never played for such big audiences – this is a big step up for them – but one they can clearly handle, despite their self-professed nerves.

‘We spent all day yesterday trying to calm Jess down!’ (Stef)

I didn’t know what to expect before arriving at the pavillions; I’d heard a couple of their songs during the car journey on the way to the interview and was impressed- but that wouldn’t prepare me for what I heard when we got there.

A truly good band or artist is one that always sounds better live.

My dad (despite never going to gigs) always says that the best bands are the ones that sound better live. That’s something that’s always stuck with me. A great band is one that, after you’ve watched them play, you almost can’t bear to listen to for weeks afterwards because hearing them through your iPod earphones is a massive anti-climax after experiencing the real deal.

Well, Jess Hall and her friends didn’t disappoint. They were amazing. Jess’s voice, despite claiming to sound flat after the performance, is beautiful. I felt completely spoilt standing there behind our P2 camera watching this bunch. They completely exceeded my expectations.

It sounds lame to say it was a real treat to have a band plonk themselves down outside and play for you on demand – but it genuinely was and it gave me such a buzz.  This is a band people will be paying to go and see in the future and I got to stand right in front of them and watch them play!

Their music has a folk feel to it, it’s soft yet soulful and although they look their age they don’t sound it; Jess has already been praised for being mature beyond her years thanks to her poignant lyrics:

and the closest place to home, is the furthest I can run,
and after all that’s happened, well I just can’t remember the last time I felt young.

For a band so young, they’ve got everything ahead of them – and if they’re able to produce songs like this now, who knows what she’ll be writing in the future. They remind me of a female fronted version of Bombay Bicycle Club; shy, unassuming but mega talented with bags of potential.

The Jess Hall Band have already found fame after featuring on BBC Radio 1, getting a mention on air from the very lady herself Miss. Fearne Cotton. They’ve been tipped as an up and coming talent on BBC’s Introducing page and just by taking a glance at their Facebook page you can see their fan base is building with each live performance.

I have a feeling they will go far. I mean look at Laura Marling – one day I was watching her sing on Jools Holland in a Spice Girls t-shirt and the next she was receiving a Brit Award for best female.

Before we left I told them I hope to see them on the BBC Introducing stage at Reading festival in the near future – I’ll be the one standing at the front singing along to every word.

Get their EP Play Shy here.

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There’s no ‘i’ in ASDA

It’s that time again; time to write another supersonic supermarket parable.

It’s time to finish what I started !

This will be my last ASDA blog post (at least for now) which will document my final two days in The Land of Green. It’s been emotional, it’s been enlightening, it’s been tiring. I would probably postpone this blog til an even later date (I’ve had this draft sat on my wordpress site like a fat kid waiting to be lifted out of a trolley – apt simile – for ages); however by request and because the longer I leave it the less relevance it will have I am endeavouring to finish, at least part 1, now.

So, my penultimate shift at ASDA , how’d it go? Well let’s just say I didn’t wear the cap or hair net.

Saturday wasn’t a great day for me, not because I had horrible customers or because I got told off for not wearing the hat but because I really didn’t want to be there. It was fairly busy, queues of people coming in dribs and drabs, yet it went so slowly. This tends to happen when you’re working and wishing you were at home the entire time. Not only that but I was also incredibly tired, not even physically, but in a drained – I wish I was doing anything but this – kind of tired.

Possibly the worst thing – though don’t quote me on it – about working in retail, particularly in ASDA, is being in the public eye the whole time. I’m generally a smiley, bubbly person and I like helping people, but if you’re having a bad day or you’re tired or feeling a little low ‘being happy to help’ can be the worst thing imaginable. More so because you’re forced to do it for hours on end without a ‘happy face’ break.

That’s why I love the cupboard *

I always say that if I hadn’t got the job on Home & Lesisure (or perhaps bakery) I would have quit ASDA years ago. There’s no way you’d ever get me working on checkouts, though occasionally you’re forced to when you have to queue-bust.

Queue-busting
adjective
1. Supermarket jargon for when employees working in other departments of the store are required to ‘jump’ on the front tills in order to reduce the amount of people queuing to buy their goods. Once allocated a till a queue-buster cannot leave until they are released by a senior member of staff. You can be there for anywhere between 10 minutes to over an hour.

(Really it should be called queue-kill, but I guess that has negative connotations. Employees might try to kill off customers.)

So why would I be ok with working on bakery and what’s so special about the cupboard? Well…

It’s got something to do with the F word. Not the Gorden Ramsey one.

If you work on the shop floor you’re elicited a certain amount of freedom. You can go upstairs and pee when you want, you can do things you’re not meant to do like eat sweets (discreetly), and check your phone (discreetly); the kind of things you can’t do if you’re working on checkouts – because every second of your time on there is logged and you’re constantly in the public eye.

If you work on George or Music and Video and you’re on the tills you’re stood up, you walk around, you’re not monitored constantly and you have the reprieve of the cupboard.

*The cupboard

It’s a tiny room where all the console games are stored and laptops and usb sticks ect. I’ve often wondered why there isn’t a window in the door so managers can catch you when you’re in there dying from a hang over or spending ten minutes having a major moan about your holiday form accidently going missing – however it works in their favour too.

The worst thing about working on Music and Video is when we don’t have a game in stock and you have to tell the customer you don’t have  it.. people can get really angry about that, and each time you know it could go either way. They could either be Fonzy style cool about it or they could go crazy – especially if it’s for their kid, and it happens to everyone; managers and colleagues. You spend ages in there hunting around – because you won’t believe how often things are put in the wrong place – and you’d look like a right wally if customers could see you. You’d feel like one too. No customer knows how big or small the M&V cupboard is or what you do when you’re in there (other than have mini raves and throw malteasers down your throat) and that’s the way it should stay.

Another gripe that you have to withstand in ASDA is ASDAfm, but trust me you’d rather have ASDAfm then not have it. First thing in the morning it’s not ASDAfm it’s THE WORST PLAYLIST YOU’LL EVER HEAR. Saturday and every day I worked there over Easter I did 9-5s but when I was there permanently I only ever worked 5-10 or 1-10, so I wasn’t used to the playlist. Normally I’d miss out on the morning melodies, or I should say travesties. I realised, stood there with Anne on George, that they were playing the exact same songs in the same order that they played the morning before. Perhaps this would be bearable if the songs were good, or at least less depressing. Anne then informed me that they play the same playlist every Saturday.

How. Horrid.

When I worked Sunday 9-6 every week I’d come in in the morning to hear the same Billie Holiday song My Man followed by Smooth Operator and similar god awful songs. But what was worse was the playlist at 4…. the shop would shut, the lights would dim, nearly everyone would go home including the managers, and me and a few of the George girls would be left to listen to Radiohead – and normally I love Radiohead – but we’d be left listening to Radiohead and Katherine Jenkins’ operatic version of Bring me to Life (yes the Evanescence song) and loads of slow acoustic versions of songs from Live Lounge performances (only the slow ones) for 2 miserable hours in an almost empty store. You’d be on the hard stone floor moving dusty DVDs around the shelves, putting them down on the floor and then picking them back up again in dim lighting, shivering because the music and video section is next to the fridges… and you would just CRAVE for someone to waltz in with a massive boom box and a disco ball and blast James Brown Get Up Offa That Thing full pelt. That’s the kind of music that keeps you going after a long day.

But it’s like they want you to be miserable.

HA – you’re still here in your horrible, uncomfortable uniform picking things up off the floor and we’re going to make it worse for you by playing you the most depressing tracks imaginable.

I moan for comedic effect – it’s not that bad. However the fact that the shop was closed on Sunday made me very happy.

HELP!!

Amid the stress and craziness of assessments I’ve forgotten my pact to post a bitchin’ Beatles song every day for a week.

You’ll have to forgive me – it’s been a hectic fortnight or so. It’s ok though I’ll just back track. No-one follows my blog closely enough to notice…. *weeps*

So; four Beatles songs?

This track would have been my Sunday’s post however now it will be Wednesdays. I don’t know why I like this one so much – probably because it has a real progression to it. It’s like a miniature journey; it starts off slow, single guitar riff at the beginning which I loved from the first moment I heard it. Simple lyrics: ‘Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play?’ and in come the drums and bass after the first few bars.

The track shifts half way in, slows down again. Drum beat has more emphasis, yet the lyrics remain simple; classic Beatles. 3 minutes in and the song really begins to build, with one quaver (to be precise) of piano teasing at 3:22. I would have loved if they’ve done a piano version of this… sometimes I really regret not continuing with piano lessons. However there’s an acoustic demo by John (who wrote the song) which is almost as good 😉

This song is really beautiful and very relaxing – the kind that you imagine yourself listening to whilst lying in a field with the sun beaming down on you and a gentle breeze blowing on your face. Ahh, ce sont les petites choses..

This one can again be found on the White Album.

All You Need Is Love

And you really do – need Love.

Seriously, it’s a great album.

OK I apologise, but I have to start every blog post with some terrible pun.. I don’t even see it as an option. I think it’s due to watching too many American television series with ‘clever’ episode names that play on words. I’d give you examples but most of them would be from Gossip Girl and seeing as I’ve already mentioned Gossip Girl in another post I should really refrain. We’ll pretend I didn’t just mention it twice there.

Love is a great place to start if you’re a Beatles virgin; it’s a brilliantly executed album. The guys that produced it really know their stuff and I wish they would make another! It’s effectively a compilation of different Beatles tracks from various albums, however it fuses songs together using transitional effects and blends snippets of one song into the main body of another, integrating them so that they merge flawlessly into one another. It could only be 15 seconds of one track – at the very end or beginning of a song, and with a couple of them it really lends something extra. For example:


You all know this song but skip to 3:30 and you’ll hear something you may not recognise. What’s really great about this album and all the songs on it is that the effects don’t take away from the tracks themselves. Come Together doesn’t need any elaboration – if you were to cut it in half and whack a section of another song onto it it wouldn’t work.

But producer George Martin and his son Giles are respectful fans and do all the songs justice. I love the outro they formulate here – and interestingly enough it’s already a sort of outro in the original song. It’s quite abrupt actually (if you care to listen to it). When I first hunted for Cry Baby Cry I was hoping to hear a song which sounded entirely like the snippet you hear on the Love album, it has something wonderfully eerie about it. But alas, the clip is shorter in the original song than it is in George and Giles’s version. It’s still  a good’un though.

This brings me onto my selected Beatles track.

I was torn between the Come Together medley and the one I’ve chosen – but I decided against the former because – well I’ve told you all about it anyway – but also Come Together is one you all know.

I had to pick something off the Love album because I love it so much – ha – and although Eleanor Rigby probably rings a bell with most, I love the way they’ve merged part of another song onto the end of it so I thought I’d share it. Funnily enough I’d already heard it before I piked Love off Dad- he had Desert Island Discs on (as is standard on a Sunday morning) and the man in the hot seat had chosen this amazing song as one of his DID’s. Neither of us had ever heard it before and we were both mesmerised. Turned out to be a little track called Julia by John Lennon. Then, however many years later a segment of it turned up on this album.

You might not think it’s anything special but when it was playing out of my Dad’s massive subwoofa speakers it sounded amazing and so beautiful (it’s about his mother coincidentally). I was only about 15 or something at the time and I remember scouring the internet afterwards trying to find somewhere to listen to it again. Not sure if YouTube existed then. If it did I don’t think I was aware of it. Took me ages to find it on Limewire…

So, after much chit-chat, or typing in my case, this is Love’s Eleanor Rigby/Julia [Transition]; it blends brilliantly into I am the Walrus on the album.


Also, if you fancy it there’s a link to the entire Love album here.

Smarter than your average …

On Wednesday I interviewed my fourth specimen Tremough Politics Society Vice President Mr. Noah Law. What a title.

And what a smart cookie.

Noah’s studying BA History and is just 17 years old (I’m only 23 yet that seems so young to me). But seriously, for someone who’s only 17 he was incredibly articulate and made a lot of valid points and gave great answers.

I really wanted to get the perspective of a young person – but someone outside of the sterotyped langorous teenager. I’m as guilty as anyone for assuming that all teenagers are lazy because I used to fit into that bracket, but Noah is one of the people that sit outside of the circle of stereotype. He proves that for as many people that don’t give a toss about politics and couldn’t care less who the primeminister is, there are as many (or at least a significant number) who are actually very engaged in the world around them and striving to be politically active.

After I spoke with lecturer John More I established that perhaps the key to getting more people to vote – not just young people – is for them to become more aware of what’s going on in the country and how decisions that are made everyday affect their lifestyles and welfare. To break it down, people need to know stuff in order for them to give a shit.

Noah is a smart and informed individual (who is now my facebook friend) so I asked him – do you watch the news and do you think if more people did this or read newspapers this would translate to the ballet box? This is what he had to say:


I also asked what he thought about e-voting. So far everyone I had spoken to had been very positive about introducing an electronic voting system and said that if it attracts more young people then it could only be a good thing. Obviously there are measures that would have to be taken to ensure it’s safe and accurate – however would e-voting make a difference in boosting young voters? Again, Noah made some relevant points:

‘The computer which they use regularly’ … I wondered whether the most obvious answer in engaging young people could be via multimedia platforms. Young people may not watch the news but they use their computers every day.

However John More had also, at my request, suggested that one way politicians could engage more with young people is by having youth representatives. People that can relate to the younger generation – because let’s face it, politicians are nearly all public school educated and Cameron is, as More put it, a toff.

So many possibilities, how to condense it down into 6 minutes? Time to revert back to my orginial question; if a lack of engagement is the problem, how do we engage young people?

It’s at this point – having done my vox pops and my 4 interviews that I realise I probably could have done a 6 minute package solely on e-voting …. and that that would have made it much more condensed *sigh* too late now.

Beetles Week

That’s right – this week I’m going to enlighten you about different species of beetle.

……..

Poor attempt to catch your attention. It’s late ok??!

I have numerous other things I should be doing right now rather than blogging about The Beatles, but it’s twenty to eleven, I’ve been working SOLIDLY for two weeks straight and at this moment in time I’ve decided that I want to write about music.

That’s the beauty of music to me – no matter what I should be doing, how tired I am or what time it is, any time is a time I can get excited about music. It happens often and normally when I’m meant to be doing something else..

Today I am exhausted, I’ve been working all day and somehow after finishing my radio politics package instead of continuing to watch Gossip Girl (from where it froze) I started listening to The Beatles. The thing about The Beatles is there’s just so much to listen to – it takes a certain amount of dedication to find out which albums are your favourite and what Beatles era suits you best. Or whether you’re an all-rounder.

It all started with Norwegian Wood, for some reason Norwegian Wood popped into my head … and I couldn’t remember wh.. ooooh yes, that was it! The book by Haruki Murakami. I write as if this is my actual stream of consciousness but it genuinely is! Norwegian Wood is the title of a book. I know this because I have it and I just picked it up and saw the title on the cover. It was a gift from my brother. My dear friend and part-time serial frapist Patrick Clahane was looking at it the other day and it states on the synopsis on the back cover that Norwegian Wood is the name of a Beatles song.

I searched for Norwegian Wood in my iTunes and realised I didn’t have it so I searched it on YouTube and found out it was on the Rubber Soul album, which despite my dad owning a copy I failed to copy onto my iTunes (along with the White Album) when I last went home. I had both albums on my previous lap-top, before it died on me.

Now all I want to do is go home so I can put those albums on my iPod. The White Album is sensational, and costs £17.99 on iTunes.

So that’s how I started listening to The Beatles. After I listened to N.Wood I listened to every other song on the Rubber Soul album (in track order) on YouTube. My musical discoveries often go like this.. look for one song, start listening to a gazillion other songs [half a day passes by] *checks time* SHIIIT. It’s a progressive journey – I mean, I just obtained the David Guetta feat. Sia track Titanium – wasn’t sure if I liked it at first but dang it’s catchy; good to run to in the gym. I searched for it, rather than scrolling down to S, using the iTunes search bar and two tracks came up – turns out I already have a Sia song without even realising it. It’s on the Twilight: Eclipse soundtrack and it’s pretty good – try not to discriminate against ‘Twi-shite’, their soundtracks aren’t half bad.

So what’s the purpose of this blog? (that’s right, several paragraphs in I’m only just getting to the relevant part.)

Well as I said; The Beatles, where do you start? There are the obvious tracks; the ones that everyone knows, but the majority of their best songs are the less well-known ones in my opinion.

And so I’ve decided to do a Beatles track of the day every day for a week. I was going to wait until Monday, but hey, there are no rules in blog world are there? Except maybe to refrain from using racism, sexually explicit material and outright death threats.

If I was a radio DJ I’d possibly get the liberty to do something like this – you know – play a Beatles track every day, but seeing as I’m not posting it on my blog will have to do.

Onto Saturday’s track (it’s not Norwegian Wood).

This was hard to choose – I could have gone for the relaxing number or the when-I-listen-to-this-I-can’t-help-but-smile-and-want-to-get-up-and-pretend-to-play-the-trumpet one. Guess which one I went for? (as a self-confessed melancholic I might surprise you.) I became familiar with this song after pinching Dad’s White album; I was at uni when I heard it for the first time and after the first listen I had it on repeat for at least a week afterwards.

If you’re walking anywhere whilst listening to this song you will need to exercise a certain amount of self-restraint not to skip along to it, and it is impossible to walk along without imagining there are a group of trumpeters following behind you.

I completely forgot about this beauty after my laptop crashed and I was forced to restart my iTunes from scratch. I’m very glad I found it again. I defy you not to like this.

You’re going to listen to it now anyway after I’ve banged on so much about the trumpets.

N.B there is also heavy use of a trombone – I don’t want to discriminate.

Technically…. technical difficulties

CLIPS:

I seemed to have a serious problem with my M-Audio in that it crackled really badly – it’s not a hiss it’s an actual sound of distortion. However at the time recording it didn’t sound as bad as was.. and I didn’t think it would affect the clips I thought it was just the noise the M-Audio made. This being about my fifth one I thought I’d do the best with what I had.

For some reason the crackling is worse during some interviews than others. It deduced having the headphones plugged in seemed to make it worse so during my interview with Noah Law, which was the last one I did excluding vox pops, I didn’t have my earphones in.

Jay Schofield’s interview has the worst sound quality and I was reluctant to put his clip into my package but decided to do it in the end because I thought I needed another voice and his was a very short clip. I was sat very close to Jay, in comparison to John More, so technically his clip should have been clearer. I don’t know what the M-Audio thought it was doing but for some reason it decided to play up big time – luckily I didn’t want to use very much of that interview.

STEVE GILBERT – Steve was very media savvy, of course, and it was no problem exercising a closeness when we were sat down. It’s a good thing I did this as there is still audible crackling in his clip – but I managed to edit it out a little bit using noise reduction. I found out, after asking Patrick to listen to my package, that he used the same ‘if we can put a man on the moon’ line with me as he did with Patrick.

JAY SCHOFIELD – This was an unplanned interview, Jay happened to be there – assistant of Steve – and he’s 24 so.. unfortunately the sound quality of his interview is dire. No idea why.

JOHN MORE – Really nice guy, unfortunately as the interview went on he moved further and further away from me (as in he leaned back in his chair). It was hard to sit really close to him because I genuinely felt like I was evading his space, however I really, really should have. School boy error there, I know better. His clips needed tweaking.

NOAH LAW – Knowing, having edited some of my clips, that my M-Audio is dodgy I make sure I sit really close to Noah and I take out the headphones. This resulted in his interview probably being the clearest. Still had to edit his clips slightly because of that distortion sound but the quality wasn’t half bad.

VOX POP – My vox pop sound quality is oddly good. I did a couple of voxes in a pub and the rest on campus and all of them were fine – perhaps the background noise drowned out my crackling M-Audio, however I was really pleased about this because I thought I got some good voxes.