Hello, miscellaneous etc.

May 6, 2012

Hello, back again after a long hiatus and suspect no one is out there, and who can blame them.  Since having my son, music has very much taken a back seat – I’ve been alternately too tired and too pre-occupied.   Most of my music listening has revolved around old favourites – New Order, The Smiths et al.   What I’ve come to realise is just how much time and effort I used to put into finding good, new stuff – following people on last.fm, scouting around, reading reviews etc.  Without all of that, it has been surprising how little decent music you actually come across.   I’ve listened to 6 music and various independent ‘indie’ internet/digital radio stations sporadically, but they are sadly pretty crap – at best very patchy, quite happily following up a splendid track with some piece of shit acid jazz.  Perhaps I’m just managing to miss all the brilliant slots.  A few years back, the wonderful 120 Minutes helped a great deal, introducing me to bands like The Knife (seeing the video for We Share Our Mother’s Health was particularly memorable – I wrote the name of the band down on the inside of the book I was reading).  Sadly, 120 Minutes is no more.  Some total cretins somewhere presumably decided it didn’t make enough money or have enough viewers or whatever.   And now there is pretty much nowhere that makes it easy to hear new stuff worth listening to.

Ah, my 2 year old son is very narked by my lack of attention – and so, a timely reminder of why doing anything that requires more than 1 minute to yourself is nigh on impossible 😦   So a final quick note to say that I’ve been listening to the new album from Orbital (very good apart from some blunders), Alcest (mixed feelings, at times sublime but heard it all before perhaps), and awaiting the soon to be released EP/B sides from MBV.  Not sure about buying the remastered Loveless until I read some reviews – I adore the version I already have.   No gigs for ages, and starting to think I am too old, fat and creaky for that whole business.

Florence – what the hell is going on?

July 19, 2010

I really can’t abide Florence and The Machine.  I first came across her supporting MGMT at The Astoria in 2008.  I thought she was terrible, and recall my friend, James, heckling in a manner that got him into trouble with his wife.  She seemed superbly untalented to me – yowling and posturing in an unconvincing fashion.  Since then she’s become huge – I can hardly turn the tele on without seeing her hard, soulless face looming up at me.  I’ve watched in disbelief as she attempts to force her shrill, strident voice into inspired, vocal trillings whilst striding about and flailing her arms – the disbelief comes from the fact that there is often an audience WHO ARE LAPPING IT UP!   If you listen to X-fm (although why would you? much better off with NME radio or 6Music), you’d be convinced that she is the very pinnacle of indie musical talent – that is, before you’d actually heard them play any of her records.  Then you’d just be bemused.  I think one of the reasons she annoys me so much is that she’s the kind of indie musician (and I use that term loosely) that has somewhat diminished festivals like Glastonbury (much more so than the odd appearance by a hip-hop artist).    The kind of music that accompanies endless articles in magazines on ‘festival chic’.

Hello, is anyone still out there? Alcest gig review

July 19, 2010

I’ve been away for quite a while, mainly due to having a baby.  As the cliche goes, it doesn’t leave much time for anything else.  I am now thoroughly out of the loop as far as current music is concerned.  I have managed to listen a couple of times to The Field’s second album (sounds marvellous but need to get more familiar with it), but otherwise have a small pile of CD’s that have been purchased then remained untouched.  I don’t think ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ is worthy of its own blog entry, to be frank.   And is Incy Wincy Spider meant to be a comment on the ultimate futility of existence?  

I have been to a gig fairly recently (woah, steady there!).  I went to see Alcest at The Purple Turtle in Camden.  Small venue, full of the sorts of goths and metal heads much beloved in the 1980’s.  I like to see people who wear what they like and listen to what they like despite it being resolutely unfashionable.  And I’ve always had a soft spot for a man in a long black coat.  Anyway, Alcest were splendid.  I was a bit worried about it beforehand, because there is a lot of melody and ethereal singing that has to be heard over death metal drumming and guitars.  No need to fear, Mr Alcest and his band were up to the job.  True, the second album is not quite as good as the first (there is a bit more actual screaming for starters), but it is pretty good with some outstanding tracks.  And my boyfriend purchased a very attractive t-shirt.  I enjoyed the evening – well worth the hassle of arranging for my mum to come and babysit.

Low @ Koko sometime in November – em, they were crap.

December 16, 2008

I thought this was going to be an evening of rare beauty.  Instead we got a ponderous, pretentious, over-blown set entirely lacking in subtlety or restraint.   Each song seemed to reach about a dozen thrilling crescendos and the pace of various songs was slowed, presumably with a view to giving maximum ‘atmosphere’ – but the beautiful, bleak and haunting harmonies don’t need over-egging and we don’t need more time to appreciate them.  All delicacy was lost, we were being asked to NOTICE THE BREATHTAKING HARMONIES rather than just listen to them.  I thought they fancied themselves quite a lot.  Also, they did some hideous kind of reggae-lite christmassy song – REGGAE-LITE FROM LOW.   We mentioned Culture Club.  They also did that ‘come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum’ christmas carol, whose name escapes me – this is one of my least favourite christmas carols and Low’s version seemed to go on for ever and ever.  Then we had some ‘Santa gone bad’ song accompanied with chords of doom.  This just about finished us off.  And we were not alone.  Suddenly a male, American voice shouted “This is a travesty!  I’ve been coming to see Low for 11 years and this is not the band I know”.   People booed the comment but I thought it was bang on the money.  Allan from Low tried to laugh it off, but the atmosphere had gone sour and early christmassy feelings were not to be found, so myself and boyfriend took ourselves off home early.    Sandinista sounded fantastic though.

My Morning Jacket at Kentish Town Forum – hmmmm

July 17, 2008

I have only ever mildly liked MMJ.  Some tracks I have thought pretty great, others not so much, but generally they have just failed to really capture my interest.  I guess maybe they are on the periphery of the kind of stuff I like – a bit more 70’s influence than I’m into (although, saying that, I love Midlake), perhaps a bit of the old Christian rock about them (although I have no idea if they are actually religious), a little bit too country.  They’re kind of difficult to pigeonhole and they’ve just released a really weird album that veers around all over the place and certainly doesn’t help with neat categorisation.     

Anyway, on the night in question MMJ played unquestionably well to an extremely good humoured and enthusiastic audience – there were a lot of hands waving in the air.  But I was really rather bored.  Rather than ‘rocking out’ it would be more accurate to say that they ‘prog rocked out’ with most songs having long jamming / guitar solo type bits which left me entirely disengaged.  They played for a lengthy 2 hours plus, at least 1 hour of which comprised of aforementioned prog rock style instrumentals.  Yawn, yawn, yawn.  As I was quite uncomfortable (half boiled to death), I moved to the back of the venue from where I spent most of my time deleting text messages.  I don’t think I’ve ever done that at a gig before, yet i have been to far worse gigs by far worse bands.  And MMJ had some great moments.  The odd song hooked me  (Wordless Chorus, Gideon), the music would soar and a really splended and uplifting noise would ensue, but this would quickly descend into yet more self-indulgent rock gubbins.  I was relieved when it was over, and can only wish I had seen them after ‘Z’ was released and not now. 

As an aside, they were very very  hairy, the drummer was like a yeti and the singer shook his woolly locks like a dog after a bath.

Miniblog 8 – My Bloody Valentine at Manchester Apollo

June 30, 2008

Lovely trip up to Manchester with my friend Mira – we were both at university there back in the 90’s.  Mira and I first saw MBV together some 17 years ago – they were entirely wonderful then and are entirely wonderful now.  I was more relaxed at this gig than at the roundhouse, largely because all my worries about them having ‘lost it’ had been emphatically laid to rest.  It was a quite different experience too – the crowd were noisier, more dancey, less reverent, more chatty – there was little of the tension in the air felt at the roundhouse before they came on – presumably this was because everyone had read the reviews and, like me, felt pretty sure that MBV were going to be good.  And they were.  It was a little less loud than the london gigs (although plenty of people still looked exceedingly uncomfortable during You Made Me Realise), and the vocals had thankfully been turned up considerably, allowing the beauty of the melodies to really come through.  I got a better view too due to the sloping floor – it really looked fantastic.  No interaction with the audience, although there was some communication between band members.  D thwacked the hell out of her bass and gave it lots of attitude, C on drums was jaw-droppingly – i have absolutely no idea how he manages to keep up the drumming for the 25m+ of YMMR at the end of a set.  He did look like he was in considerable pain.  B and KS typical shoegazers and thus looking down most of the time.  No visible indicators that they are standing in front of many amps making nearly criminal levels of noise and reducing the crowd to a trembling, submissive mass. 

Two men nearly had a fight during To Here Knows When.  One of the most beautiful songs ever written, and they felt angry during it.  There is no fathoming other people. 

I bought my boyfriend a t-shirt.  I like to see him wear it.  Luckily he is an MBV fan, so bribes are not required. 

This is not a very  mini miniblog.  What can I say?  I REALLY LOVE MY BLOODY VALENTINE.

Miniblog 7 – Radiohead at Victoria Park

June 30, 2008

I have always had mixed feelings about Radiohead.  At their best they write beautiful and complex music, and some good anthemic tunes too.  At their worst they leave me emotionally untouched.  My experience at Victoria Park did not change this.  They played mainly stuff from In Rainbows, as might be expected, and they did it all very very well indeed.  It sounded great.  And the lightshow was topnotch.  And I liked being outside.  But how much I engaged with the music really varied from song to song, leaving the whole experience feeling a bit patchy for me.  And they suffered from me having been to see My Bloody Valentine the Friday before (which rates for me as one of the very best gigs of my life), who totally hook me emotionally.   Also the crowd contained many idiots.  And it was a bugger getting home.   All in all it was a good gig, rising to occasional magnificence.

Bat For Lashes were good, despite the plug being pulled on the sound at one point.  I was reminded of how much she sounds like Bjork.  I like them much better live than on record, when all the hippy-dippy, mystical stuff gets on my nerves a bit. 

Oh, and I had a cup of tea and hot sugared donuts at the end which was my highlight.

Miniblog 6 – My Bloody Valentine, first night at The Roundhouse

June 30, 2008

Unbelievably, phenomenally, fantastically, awe inspiringly good.

And loud, very very very very loud.  But also beautiful.  Enough has been written about the 26 minute ‘holocaust’ of You Made Me Realise, suffice it to say that my throat was compressed and my skin trembling throughout.  Visuals were marvellous too.  I have never been to a gig where people moved around so little in terms of visits to the bar and the loos.  And everyone looked shellshocked at the end.  Shields vocals were too low though.  And they really are taciturn bastards. 


Miniblog 5 – Air Formation at Industry

June 30, 2008

First up were Deep Cut who I loathe – crap songs, annoying vain singer.  Then a guy from The Telescopes doing an acoustic set – sub-standard Jason Spaceman stuff.  So far so crap.

But then came Air Formation, 4 rather unprepossessing chaps, who did a spellbinding set of quality shoegaze/post-rock.  There is stuff around that might more immediately grab you or insistently clamour for your attention, but I love their slow-burning, strangely (given the amount of noise they produce) gentle music – good for listening to in bed while in the arms of the one you love. 

Miniblog 4 – Melt Banana at ULU

June 30, 2008

Very loud and frenetic.  Good fun.  Pretty great really.  Did I mention loud and frenetic? 

I can’t and don’t listen to Melt Banana at home, but thought they were ace live.  I especially liked the seven short songs, each lasting only a few seconds, “that’s one…that’s two…that’s three”.  The singer is a little dynamo. 

The support act, DJ Scotch Egg (or am i completely making that up?) – seemed more performance art than gig.  Extraordinarily loud electronic tomfoolery.