Friday, 26 February 2010

Live Review - A Genuine Freakshow - Bush Hall, 25.02.2010

As I made my way around Shepherd's Bush Green, en route to Bush Hall, it was throwing it down. It'd been raining for what seemed like all day and I bemoaned another typically damp and cold February. On arrival at the venue it was clear that the inclement weather had dampened the clothes but not the spirits of those who'd braved the journey out.

Firstly, a quick sentence or two about our four support acts of the night. Our Lost Infantry's young, fiery, guitar-driven indie follows in the footsteps of the likes of We Were Promised Jetpacks. They're not quite there yet but they're not that far away either. Next, Bright Spark Destroyer took to the stage. It's an odd thing to say that a band can be overtly nice but that's what happened here. Drawing influence from the late Radiohead should be a good thing but, with wide-eyes and fixed smiles, what could be interesting on record falls a little short of the mark live.

The Gadsdens

Following were The Gadsdens . During their set my girlfriend summed them up pretty well: "They're like Maroon 5, who are obviously shit. But, like Maroon 5, there's also something undeniably catchy about them."

After Our Lost Infantry's gaggle of fans/friends (easily the largest of the night -- for some reason) vacated the area in front of the stage for either the bar or the door it was the turn of A Genuine Freakshow. More fool those who, having fulfilled mates' duties, decided to leave.

As a slight, bespeckled Timothy Sutcliffe and co. took to the stage they held an intangible confidence that marked them out tonight's first 'proper' band. Their pacy, purposeful set was full of energy, menace and confidence. With a line-up including violin, cello and trumpet -- alongside the staple guitar, drums, bass -- it's refreshing to see that takes these extra instruments further than just atmospheric padding -- here they often lead melody with guitars left to create beds of distortion, atmosphere or tremolo picked chaos. When you Sutcliffe's vocals to the mix -- which err on the acrobatic -- the band's sound brings to mind the likes of Grammatics or Mew.

Tonight's performance is solid, as is the material. With a tour currently underway it should only be a matter of time before A Genuine Freakshow fly above the radar.

If you head over to A Genuine Freakshow's MySpace you can download a four-track EP for free.

Sway Delivers New Mixtape

UK hip hop star Sway has just popped his latest mixtape into that virtual postbox that is the World Wide Web and, since the Royal Mail haven't been entrusted with its delivery, here is...'The Delivery Mixtape'

Fans of Sway will know his mixtapes are nothing but the highest quality and often eclipse his official releases and this can be yours in exchange for your 'deets', your 'digits' or, indeed, your contact details from Sway's website.

He's also keen to get your feedback on Twitter - just mark your tweets FAO @Sway_Dcypha...

Thursday, 25 February 2010

New Ghibli film in cinemas

"Time goes slow in the place of work, minutes drag and the hours jerk", so rapped Joe Strummer on 'The Magnificent Seven'. I can see where he is coming from, frankly. Although (or perhaps because) it is the closest day to Spring London has seen this yearl; hence more light than usual is streaming through the window of my office, I am interminably fucking bored.

There is, however, a little chink of joy piercing through the gloom, and that chink happens to be in the shape of a goldfish called Ponyo. The latest film from Studio Ghibli is in cinemas now, and it tells the story of a friendship between Ponyo and a little boy called Sosuke. In typical Ghibli fashion though, Ponyo is a magical fish who decides to turn into a little girl and also has the responsibility of saving her new friend from an angry sea. Having never seen a Miyazaki production on the big screen, I am determined to put that right with Ponyo. Check the trailer below and feel all warm and fuzzy inside...

Monday, 22 February 2010

Souvaris and Sincabeza Combine For 'Clown Jazz'

Tomorrow sees the release of a rather wonderful new EP on the rather wonderful Gringo Records label.  'Clown Jazz' is an Anglo-French meeting of the minds over intens, instrumental, noisy, abstract pop with Nottingham's Souvaris teaming up again with touring partners of the past four years, Bordeaux's Sincabeza.

It is now some three years since Souvaris' sophomore LP 'A Hat' and the two new songs on 'Clown Jazz' ('Great Scott' and 'Hello, Antelope') hint at an impressive new groove-driven direction for the third album they are currently working on.

You can check out some sneak previews over at now or you can try our exclusive downloads below of Souvaris' 'Great Scott' and Sincabeza's 'Malalido' which open and close the EP respectively.  Don't say we're not good to you, now!

Souvaris / Sincabeza - 'Clown Jazz EP' (Gringo Records)
1. Souvaris - 'Great Scott'
2. Souvaris - 'Hello Antelope'
3. Sincabeza - 'Bacalacola'
4. Sincabeza - 'Facile a Compter'
5. Sincabeza - 'Malalido'

You can buy 'Clown Jazz' on 12" direct from Gringo Records by clicking here.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Warner to pull out of Spotify?

Warner Music has said it will stop licensing its content to ad-funded streaming services like Spotify, We7 and Lastfm.

Surely this is a backwards step to be taking just weeks after Spotify has been publicly backed by Universal and its premium service has achieved its target of signing up 10% of its users in all but two of the countries it is operating in. I suspect the chairman of Warner has lost his nerve ahead of the imminent US launch of the site. If he really didn’t want to bet the farm on streaming services, why not introduce get-out clauses into Universal’s participation if the US product does not do as well as Spotify hope. The US was always going to be the key market for Spotify, so to cancel on the eve of its launch makes Warner look pathetic, especially when, as yet, none of the other majors look set to follow suit.

Warner, and every other music label, need to wake up to the fact that there is a generation who consider the traditional model of buying albums as a ludicrous, they should be doing all they can to support services like Spotify and make them into viable business models if they are really serious about putting an end to illegal music downloads. It’s interesting to note that Warner chief executive Edgar Bronfman Junior’s alternative to Spotify is to “promote services that require payment”, maybe I’m missing something here, but isn’t that what he is denying Spotify the chance to become?

Like it or not Ed, some people will never pay for music, they are douchebags, but what can you do? Well, for a start you could try and wring some value out of those who sign up for free streaming services but don’t actually buy music. A sizeable proportion of that group will probably buy music merchandise or gig tickets, so why not make it a condition of the free streaming service that users receive say, five emails a week, about tours/merchandise of the 10 bands they stream the most music by. The success of Bandcamp has already proved that people are willing to give their details to a scheme like this to get access to streaming services. This wouldn’t be too difficult to implement either; if google can pin down search demographics involving the whole internet for advertisers to exploit, surely a streaming music site can do so within its own domain.

In short Eddie my man, the way people consume music is changing, and you can’t stop that process, what you can do is deal with the cards you are dealt and make some money from the changes. In case you are reading, I have attached a link to the bandcamp website below so you can see what an innovative web music portal looks like. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

We Need Answers Spawns No More Women

BBC4 devotees should be quite familiar with the trio of Mark Watson, Tim Key and Alex Horne, the three-headed monster host of We Need Answers - the most outlandish TV quiz since the heady days of Channel 4's Remote Control in the early 1990s. Every Tuesday they invite two celebrities of varying quality to fathom out the responses to the 'wackiest' questions sent to text answering services - including those concerning themselves. Outraged Daily Mail readers should look away now as, not only have the BBC thrown licence-payers' money at such a vehicle (and not at something nice like My Family or The Green Green Grass) but they've even allowed them to come up with the only game show even less intelligible. Try it, it's fun!

Eagle-eyed viewers may recognise Tim (on the right) as the bloke from the Strongbow advert who is left paralysed and oblivious by the sheer taste of his first sip of fresh cider, but we won't hold that against him. He's also been at the helm of several popular stage shows, the excellent Radio 4 shows Cowards and All Bar Luke and has an amazing second life as 'poet' Tim Key. Mark's no slouch either: he famously runs 24 hour comedy performances, has had success on Radio 4 and 5 and has three published books to his name. Currently he is wetting himself on Twitter at the prospect over turning 30. Alex Horne (playing the commentator) is something of a multimedia expert, providing idiosyncratic graphics for the trio's endeavours as well as his own live shows including his current tour 'Wordwatching' which comes highly recommended and is also available in book form.

Blog off

Do you listen to music anymore? Properly listen to it? Obviously the sound passes through your ears, but does the meat inbetween even acknowledge it? Do you have a problem identifying when you are musically full? The experience of listening to, buying and owning music has been dramatically changed over the last decade by the internet. There has been much talk of how the churn of blogs and internet hype-makers have accelerated the life-cycle of a band/artist to something approaching that of a mayfly, but everyone seems to be missing an important part of this equation; the listener.

All over the world, sweaty fingers are clicking on mice and eyes are dilating as we speak, heralding a new kind of hypocrisy, one we can all believe-in and look up to. A new species of music fan is emerging in the post-physical product age of music consumption, the hoarder. Typically, the hoarder will have a finger in every stylistic pie around, and will spend hours trawling blogs to find rapidshare links to steal newly-released albums before the labels can catch up and flag them as copyright infringement. It’s like file-sharing version of one of those board games where you have to whack a rat as soon as its head pops up through the hole, except the one who really gets whacked is the artist. Often, the hoarder will also display an at best rudimentary understanding of reality by believing that the only people losing out financially through their actions are a few suits who own major labels. They may even have rationalised their actions to such a degree they will tell you what they are doing is part of a winnowing process for the majors, instigating a new model of musical consumption where artist and fan alike will be better off without the tyrannical influence of major labels. So that would be the pay-nothing model then?

In fact the exact opposite is true; major labels will probably continue to exist as long as music itself does, and they will always make money. The people that the hoarders are actually squeezing are the artists and small, independent labels that they profess to love. This is not an argument of legality, this is a matter of not shitting on your doorstep, not fucking the things you claim to love There is less justification for downloading music illegally now than there ever has been, it is now possible to listen to almost any album free through ad-funded sites such as Spotify or We7. This is evolution of the best kind; labels and artists recognising a new revenue source which pulls the rug from those who feel it anathema to actually pay to listen to music on demand. There you go guys, now you don’t have to, as long as you can recognise you don’t have a god-given right to actually own the stuff without showing the dollar.

Except this isn’t enough for our friend the hoarder, driven by an arms-race lust to have more and more new music (more than they could ever listen to or appreciate) they hit up the blogs daily for the latest fix, every day taking more money from the hands of people who don’t have much to start with. Were the pirate-link blogs filled with stuff that people with only a passing interest in music would go for, their existence might be more understandable, but they’re not. There are no links to download the new Gaga album, or Britney’s new record, instead it’s the Autechres and Magnetic Fields of this world who are receiving the dubious honour of “fans” being desperate not to pay to own their work. In any other form of culture piracy is looked down-upon, especially when it is hurting the artists at the bottom of the pile most, but the hoarders have developed a curious self-aggrandising where they feel theft is actually ahead of the curve and everyone else needs to catch up to their insight. I wonder if that line of thought would fly down my local Tesco…While I ponder being arrested for stuffing a pack of supernoodles down my trousers, if you don’t already use it, check out the link for we 7 below.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Looking To Size Up Your Crowds? Simples!

You know the feeling.  You desperately want to catch a casual ten minutes furtively glancing at images of young,  men grappling and grasping, seizing and squeezing, sweltering and sweat-drenched.  While some sites may offer you a handful from the same venue there has, up until now, been nowhere for the moshpit enthusiast to, to borrow an annoying lyric, "go compare".

Now, thanks to, you can compare moshpits at any time of the day or night - yes Mr Henderson, not just on your Friday night off!  Simply head over to the excellent and start rating now.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Listen - Gil Scott Heron 'I'm New Here'

Social commentary and beautiful music are rarely intertwined as beautifully as when Gil Scott-Heron steps up to the plate. Taking the template that Marvin Gaye laid down on 'What's Goin' On' and running with it has been one of the hallmarks of Heron's long career (along, unfortunately, with run-ins with the law).

But please put his past indiscretions (and successes, which can be just as heavy a burden) aside and give this album a listen - it really is rather special.

Review - Deadmau5 At Play Vol.2

It's very easy to be snooty about artists such as Deadmau5. If you are one of those people who class themselves as an EDM purist, it's easy to write him off, and criticise him for trying to take the dance floor into the arena, a lot like the vastly-inferior stadium-dance plodders Pendulum.

But write Joel Zimmerman off at your peril, because one thing is true about this fella - he knows his way around a 4/4. This is a masterclass in house music from start to finish, and sure, whilst it's not got the kick or the tough streak of quality that 'I Remember' or 'Ghosts 'n' Stuff' had, there are more than a few keepers in here that you can drop into your sets with ease ('Attention Whore' and 'This Is Also The Hook' being standout tracks).

This is house music that gives you a slap around the face. This is house music to make your bum clench. This is a decent odds and sods compilation.

Have a listen below and let us know what you think... I think it's a 7/10

'Deadmau5 - At Play Vol.2' is available on March 22nd on Play Records

Not Squares - Asylum

'Asylum', Not Squares' debut single, opens with a punch right in your ears delivered by a fist full of drums. Then, before you've had a chance to clear the stars orbiting your head, you're placed in the middle of dance floor and instructed to do one thing and one thing only: dance fucker!

Filthy bass, frenetic drums and angular guitar riffs propel this thrash disco beast out of the blocks at a pace that doesn't let up until its four and a half minutes have expired and you're finding yourself short of breath, the only respite being a breakdown of anthemic chanting and four to the floor kick drum.

Asylum gets a digital release on The Richter Collective on March 1st.

Not Squares - Asylum from Bright Stem on Vimeo.