Let it be said that print is still as relevant as the web..

It’s never too late to discover popular music.

Some things, like that signed 12″ vinyl copy of Everything Everything’s new release Get To Heaven are indeed, fleeting. If you’re not quick, you’ve missed your chance (I had to settle for the CD instead). However nowadays this only applies to the physical. Luckily for us, we live in a day and age where pretty much any music can be accessed at any time, anywhere, via the power of the internet. This means if you missed it on the radio, if it dropped out of the charts before you fell in love with it or if none of your friends own it, it doesn’t matter. It’s instantly accessible on your laptop, tablet or phone.

I have an insatiable appetite for new music and to be honest – I do find most of it using the internet. Whether it’s through watching YouTube videos and clicking on similar artists, via Spotify or online articles, you can’t deny the power the internet has to fuel your musical interests; especially when Facebook picks up on the things you’re interested in and posts them onto your news feed. Radio 1 and NME are a permanent fixture on mine.

Naturally radio, gigs and festivals are also a brilliant place to discover new music. However what about the humble magazine? Q, Rocksound, The New Musical Express (yes that’s what they call it on my delivery slip at work – completely threw me each time I saw it for the first few weeks) used to be the primary sources for music trends and information.

Why buy something when you can get the information for free you ask?? Well that’s a good question. Perhaps, I think, it’s sometimes nice not to have to sift through gargantuan amounts of information whilst endless, formidable looking tabs stare at you from your browser, and rather, to have a quantifiable and manageable amount sat in front of you, in tangible form. Let’s face it; all those little captions, pictures and links are too tempting to resist. You’ve already clicked on two more before you’ve finished reading the current one!

Magazines are also great for people like me who spend an awful lot of time browsing rather than doing their washing or other productive things.. there’s just too much content yo!

I write all this because it was in fact thanks to The NME mag that I discovered Grimes. I’d heard of her of course and knew that Radio 1 had given her the big nod of approval but she was someone who had slipped my radar. Over the past three years I’ve really been getting into my electro/techno/dance music which I never have before; something to do with attending an art college full of dope smoking, amateur dramatic hippies (terrible stereotype but so true!). It was SBTRCKT who pretty much kick-started the whole thing for me though. He collaborated on a song with Mercury Award nominee Jessie Ware (who I am a fan of) for his debut album and so I gave him a listen and found that he was the first dub-step/soul/house artist that I actually enjoyed listening to.

I have Spotify to thank for that and subsequently for allowing me to listen to his even more impressive second record.

If it hadn’t been for the colourful and eccentric array of different artist and band faces on the front cover of NME though, I never would have snooped inside and read about Grimes being among the many artists to have a new album out this year. It was that that finally pushed me into my first Grimes listening session (outside of a club where I was probably listening to it unknowingly). When you enjoy as many different types of music as I do, it’s hard to keep up-to-date with yourself. I have an actual post-it note list on my computer of music I want to either buy or listen to.

NME are infamous for their covers; often iconic, stark photographs of their feature musicians. I hope they’re still going when I’m boring my grandchildren about my first experience of Glastonbury festival.

No-one could have predicted years ago that one day people would be downloading music onto computer devices to listen to instantly, neither could they have predicted that the same global phenomenon would allow people to purchase copies of pre-order vinyl produced by artists which would sell out after a few days.

Consumerism is a funny thing.

One thing’s for sure, music mags are still as vital as they were 20 years ago – to the musicians and to the consumers that buy them. The sales might not be as great, but that’s true of all physical music.

The trick is to enjoy every medium as and when it suits you, as much as you can.

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Totally didn’t have a snoop at this week’s NME mag today at work…

but if I had, I would be privy to the knowledge that this year I can look forward to a load of new album releases from some of my absolute favourite artists! Muse, The Maccabees, Foals, Mystery Jets, Laura Marling, Everything Everything, Haim and even Radiohead are tipped to have new records out this year – not to mention new stuff from Florence, Lana Del Ray, Prodigy, The Libertines and Smashing Pumpkins among others.

Being the unabashed Indie Cindy that I am I must admit 2014 was not an overly exciting year for me music wise. I went off the radar a bit on Spotify and Google with my music searches. In fact I confess I turned into a bit of a mainstream junkie; I guess that’s what happens when you go travelling abroad for a year and have only the radio for company (my iPod died). Clearly all my infallible Kings and Queens of the music scene saved it for this year though. 2015 is going to be THE festival year!

When do Glastonbury tickets go on resale?!

Check out NME’s article here.

Devon’s answer to Glastonbury; with surfers instead of hippies!

New Devonshire festival Somersault kicks off in 10 days with Jack Johnson and Ben Howard preparing to headline the South West’s idyllic new outdoor music celebration.

It boasts a gypsy tea party, fashion show, ‘long table feast‘ and has Hawaiian superstar Jack Johnson and two time Brit Award winner Ben Howard breaking in its inaugural year. Oh also it’s being held here..

To the Manor Born anyone?

I spotted a billboard for this at Plymouth train station last week; it’s a pretty sweet line-up for its first year. It’s such a shame it’s so soon after Glastonbury as I just can’t warrant the expenditure (particularly as I’ve already committed myself to Boardmasters next month – too many festivals too little funds!)

Ben Howard is headlining on Sunday which I’ve no doubt will be spectacular – I must see that chap play live soon – and I’ve also spotted a couple of my other lesser known faves; Ms. Misty Miller and Saturday Sun. It credits itself as being a festival for people interested in ‘crafts, culture and fireside festivities‘ and certainly looks as though it would be something I would consider going to in the future. It looks as if it has all the promise of a being a great back-up Glastonbury festival (those tickets are never guaranteed after all). If anything there’ll probably be loads of fit surfer dudes there to swoon over.

Loving the artwork as well.

‘Turn on the Bright Lights’ and ‘See How I Stun’: what to expect from Interpol’s El Pintor?

I recently got back from Glastonbury festival where my love for Interpol was rekindled. I’d already seen them play live a few times and so was looking forward – rather than being overly excited about seeing them again. I was the only one in our group who was a fan and they clashed with a band that my cohorts were going to see so I went alone.

If there was ever a band that it was OK to go to solo it would be Interpol. Introspective, melancholic and never a showy or chatty band, rather a self-contained one, they don’t demand big crowd interactions so you can quite happily sway along and go mostly unnoticed. Though with tracks such as Evil – ‘Rosemaaaaryyy’ – there is of course an obligatory sing-along!

Pretty much 10 minutes in I felt bad for thinking that they would be anything less than amazing and a pleasure to watch. Maybe it was the beautiful camera shots of Daniel Kessler bent over his guitar in front of the setting sun, Paul Banks’s almost painfully earnest face or their immaculate suits, but they rocked Glastonbury. Everyone in the crowd around me was loving it which made it ten times more enjoyable. I can’t say the same about the crowd at Reading the last time I’d seen them; what a lacklustre bunch. I had the same experience there with Arcade Fire. The crowd that I was surrounded by for their headline slot at Glasonbury was infinitely better than the one during their Reading headline. My God.. I was right at the very front for that as well – literally next to the barrier and hardly anyone was singing along, everyone just stood and watched, they didn’t even clap. At Glastonbury everyone started singing to the tune of their last song, Rebellion (Lies), even after they left the stage whilst we were all walking away from the Pyramid stage. It’s special moments like that that make the festival experience – people you’ve never met before, strangers all around you in their thousands united, singing along together to a song they all know and love. In what other circumstance or occasion would you ever be able to do something like that? There’s a lot to be said for Glastonbury goers. They kick the asses of every other festival frequenter.

Back to Interpol though (I really need to do a separate Glasto blog), they played a few songs that I didn’t recognise and I wondered if I’d bypassed a new album release – it would make sense them being there had they released some new material. As it happens they hadn’t – but I wasn’t far off.

I stumbled across this about half an hour ago – woohoo new Interpol album! El Pinator. I like the sound of it. I also just realised looking at the album cover again that that was the image on their banner on the stage at Glastonbury! Slow on the uptake there..

Sadly I have to wait til September for this one, but hey that’s not too far away. Their sultry tones are perfectly timed for the end of Summer and the inevitable start-of-Winter blues! I just love to wallow.

Days and Nights

I first heard of Daley when he performed on Alan Carr with Jessie J for his single Remember Me. His soulful voice and amazing ginger hair immediately caught my attention. It’s still one of my favourite songs and going to listen to it again I discovered that he’s only gone and brought a new album out!

It’s really quite good – to the point that I’ve had it on repeat all day yesterday and today.

It’s definitely an improvement on his debut which was good, but nowhere near as addictive or containing as many stand out songs as this one, which isn’t surprising considering that collaborations include the infallible Pharrell Williams among others.

I also realised that track 9, Broken, either has a very familiar sound to it or I’ve heard it before somewhere – most likely on an advert. It has the right chorus for it; very catchy and anthemic. The combination of the crescendo building drum beat, violins and backing chorus bring the song to a perfect climax and warrant its status as a single release. You’ll find yourself unwittingly humming it for hours afterwards.

The more I listen to it in fact the more I think there’s something very Emile Sandé about this track. Both artists combine a perfect infusion of RnB with soul empowered vocals and the drum beat featured on this is the same one that opens up Sande’s track Heaven (great song as well). If you’re a Sandé fan I think you’d like this.

Other stand out tracks include Love and Affection, Look Up, Alone Together and She Fades.

Mr Daley is definitely someone I’d love to see live. Such a wonderful vocalist and the new material is great. I say new.. can you call 6 months old new?! I’m still playing catch-up from my year away from the UK. What a shame he’s not playing Glasto.

Here’s just one of his many sensational acoustic renditions of Broken (this guy is incapable of giving a bad performance).

I told you the hair was amazing.

British is Best!

One of the most notable things about backpacking is how little time you dedicate to things you’d normally spend hours doing each week at home. For me these things included baking, running/exercising, internet shopping and browsing any medium necessary for new music. Before I left for Australia I would spend hours on my laptop poring over various webpages, reading about music, listening to music and ever-increasing the diversity and volume of songs in my iTunes catalogue. You could find me on my days off poorly attempting to tidy my tiny walk-in-cupboard (bedroom), speakers blasting, continually clicking the ‘related artists’ link on Spotify whilst sipping a nice hot brew. Or, in the kitchen staring lovingly into a framed picture of Mary Berry whilst baking up a storm and rockin’ out to Pirate fm and Radio 1 in the form of rhythmic whisking. Normally I’m all over YouTube and Spotify like a rash, and don’t even get me started on what happens during and after Later Jools comes on; outright demands for absolute silence in the house followed by the immediate ‘Googling’ of favourable new artists, or more often than not a quick trip to the BBC Jools site to find out what the actual names are because that little overlay at the bottom of the page isn’t on anywhere near long enough!

(Talking of #Later it just so happens that the latest series -no 44! – has just started. Bang tidy!)

When you have no laptop, no television and no way of easily streaming or purchasing da tunes however, music is suddenly much less accessible. You go back to the pre-technology days where radio is your only friend. I vividly remember sitting in my Australian friend’s car – not long before I was due to fly home – hearing them announce the new Coldplay song. I wasn’t massively keen on their previous stuff (though I’m starting to rethink that having listened to Mylo Xyloto in full since – how did I not grasp how brilliance of Every Teardrop before?!) so I didn’t pay too much attention, but then this song came on and I thought, hold up.. this is something special; dare I say it, magical?? (…sorry) After my friend parked up I made him wait in his car so I could listen to the whole thing!

Six weeks later and they popped into Radio 1 for a surprise Live Lounge performance which you can listen to here 🙂

Having the radio was a life-saver in Oz. When I got back home and looked up the current Top 40 there wasn’t much in there I didn’t recognise. I say that – I still didn’t recognise a lot of the artists but as soon as I saw some of the song titles I immediately heard the melody/chorus in my head and realised I did know them. A lot of the music I listen to doesn’t get much, if any, radio play though. Think Warpaint, think dead and gone bands like GoodBooks, The Hours (oh how I love The Hours). I can stream or purchase their stuff any time I like – I can even get 7″ vinyl off eBay or Amazon (most of which I’d never find in a record store). It was the lesser known bands and my indie Kings and Queens that I was deprived of; this is where the purpose of my blog post comes in. I must have seen Franz Ferdinand advertised on Vevo at some point whilst enjoying a rare YouTube moment in Australia, or maybe their song played on Triple J (Australia’s equivalent to Radio 1) because somehow I found out about their new single – or new at the time – Right Action. I am a bit of a Franz fan; they’re one of the bands that hasn’t been ticked off my bucket list yet. I watched the vid for their new single on YouTube and got excited because it meant a new album was on the way, however not for a while and consequently I forgot all about it.  They somehow cropped up again today though and I’ve since been listening to their new old stuff and am loving it! I found Tonight to be a little disappointing, especially after You Could Have It So Much Better which sounds as fabulous to my ears now as it did almost a decade ago when it was first released. That was back in the heydays of my Sony Walkman. My prized possession.

After remembering Franz and revelling in Right Action I noticed they’d released other songs off the album and as most of you well know, once you start watching one video on YouTube you have to watch another.In fact you can pretty much write off the next two hours. Amongst the ‘Official Videos’ – by the way how cool and non-parent-friendly is the Evil Eye video? – were some live performance videos.

And that’s how I found this little gem.

I’m sorry but if you don’t think this is absolutely fabulous then there is something undeniably wrong with you.

urge you to listen to it through a good pair of headphones or speakers, otherwise those spectacular drums will be lost on you and you’ll have no idea what I’m raving on about.

Despite loathing being back in chilly England, I have missed the enjoyment one gets from listening to a new album or great song for the first time and then whacking it on repeat until you’ve overplayed it so much you’ve almost ruined it for yourself.

It’s great being able to get excited about music again and it’s great to be back in my homeland, surrounded by the best music!

The iTunes album review that turned into a full blown article

Paramore’s Paramore:

This album is a big step away from the old Paramore and for that reason some die-hard fans may not like it. Their negative comments, Katy Perry comparisons and general outrage can be viewed all over Youtube and on the album review page on iTunes.

And they’d be right to say that Paramore have changed. But does that mean they’ve sold out? Are they going to headline Reading next year and watch thousands of people leave after they’ve performed their two most recent and mainstream tracks, subsequently going off on a massive rant about loyalty and ‘real fans’..

Or was that just Kings of Leon?

Honestly I can’t see it happening. Hayley’s too hot and inadvertently sexy for any man to want to leave even two-thirds of the way through.

But seriously though, what can fans expect of Paramore’s self titled album? Well, let’s put it this way, if you were hoping for another Riot or an album which, if still a progression, was another 12 tracks of ‘more of the same’ then you’re going to be disappointed. With the Farro brothers having left – one of whom was the main songwriter – Paramore was always heading for a change in direction. And for those of you who were hoping for revival of All We Know is Falling, well you’re just in stupid!

This album will undoubtedly vex some fans and bring an end to their irrevocable love affair with the band (they might even think about getting that tattoo removed). However in my experience I found that, if you’re prepared to listen to this latest offering with fresh ears and approach it as an individual record without any preconceptions, then you might just appreciate how good it is. And it really is good.

Being a Paramore fan myself and very much liking what Josh Farro brought to the band I was dubious at first. Initially I really hated Now and so didn’t have high hopes for the album. I heard it on Youtube and then listened to it on the BBC Radio 1 website (the famous Hulk Hogan interview) and to me it sounded like it was trying too hard to be mainstream. It wasn’t until I started involuntarily singing it that I realised I might have started to like it (not that all songs that get stuck in your head are good). Listening to the album for the first time I found I immediately disliked the opening song and most of the others the first time I heard them! Looking back I think it was a bit of a shock to the ears and unexpected after what they’d released before.  However after a few listens you’ll discover that nearly every song is insanely catchy and it won’t be long before you’re humming them without even realising.

Although this record has a surprisingly poppy feel, Hayley’s lyrics are just as good as on the previous albums – still deep, emotive and frequently candid. Plus it’s not all punk pop, there are darker elements in there; the closing song Future for example with its epic drum and guitar crescendo has a distinctly eerie feel to it. Not to mention Part II which is a sequel to Let The Flames Begin and has very much the old Paramore sound. Even the more upbeat tracks, if you listen to the meaning behind them, aren’t all bubblegum and fairies. There’s an acute inner turmoil that seeps out in the lyrics, it’s just disguised in a way that it wasn’t before.

We get along for the most part
Me and reality, the light and the dark
And we live alone
In two different worlds
Me and a fantasy,
And you and your memories..

And I think that’s the crux of Paramore’s Paramore. It flaunts itself as being a feel good, light-hearted record, with tracks like Fast in My Car (a song title you never thought you’d see on a Paramore album) and Still into You fooling you into thinking that this doesn’t have the emotional weight of their back catalogue. In fact, it’s as deep and uncompromising as ever. It seems as though the trio are on a tipping point between the past and present/future. They’re in a better, happier place as a band and that shows on this record, but equally their wounds still appear to be raw, which gives it an antithetical feel. The interludes are a perfect example of this; ukulele combined with bitter-sweet lyrics and echo-effect vocal.

I think Paramore have really branched out on this one, more than they ever have before, and they will lose fans for it but they’ll also gain new ones. It definitely comes across as more mainstream and will attract a different type of listener but lest us not forget – Brand New Eyes went straight in at No 1 in the UK. It’s too late for fans to kid themselves that this band aren’t huge and likely to release anything like All We Know is Falling ever again.

The most important thing is that the Paramore we all know and love are still here, they’re on this album, it’s just that their talents are being utilised and channelled in a different way than before. They’re still great song writers and Hayley is still a great lyricist; yes, they’ve taken a different direction, but in my opinion it’s paid off. Ain’t it Good with the soulful chorus line that comes in half way through? Pure magic. The pleasure I get from listening and singing along (and occasionally dancing..) what a surprise to find that on the album and what a treat!

Paramore’s Paramore ultimately offers something that Brand New Eyes didn’t and I think many people will appreciate and value that. I remember warming instantly to BNE, it had the Paramore sound I knew and loved but softer and with acoustics. Riot was a tricky act to follow-up and had the band released something like this then it would have gone down like a lead balloon. People were desperate for more anthemic, pent-up, power vocal killers. But, as people develop and grow, by definition so will their music. It was the right time for this band to change things up, it will create new fans and for the old ones, it’s something new and exciting. Normally an album of such length is compensating for something but not for these guys; every song is genuinely brilliant and deserves to be there. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened to it already.

So well done Paramore. I was worried that your presence in my mind, heart and ears was coming to an end but you proved me wrong! This is a start of a new journey for them and if this is a taste of what’s to come then I can’t wait for the next instalment. Or should I say, I Want Now??