Sunday, October 27, 2013

An open letter to the music industry

This is something that has been annoying me for some time, and I don't really have anywhere else to get it off my chest so i'm writing about it here. Deluxe Editions. Now i think Deluxe Editions themselves are  an annoying and good example of the greed and laziness of the music industry, but at the end of the day, it's your choice, you get the standard or pay slightly more for the softpack and 3 extra tracks.

What I am talking about is those Deluxe - Deluxe Editions, you know, those ones that come out 4 months after the original.  Lady Gaga's 'The Fame Monster'  is probably the most famous example, at the time it was a huge boost to her career, the album that bridged the line between the naff pop of 'The Fame' to the insane brilliance of 'Born This Way'. Yet I never bought this record, it always annoyed me how these great songs came out in a package with a record I'd already bought, Lady Gaga's 'Little Monsters' didn't mind of course, but then they're happy to get anything she puts out*.
Now 5-ish years down the line, everyone's doing it (Ellie Gouldings pulling of this trick was part of what stopped me listening to her). It's annoying to me because if like me you followed Ellie (or any act you'd care to name) from the beginning, you probably saw her supporting someone else first, got to like her, decided to buy one of the early EP's, read about her in one of the hip magazines and once it came out bought her album,  (on CD or for Vinyl for the dedicated fan)

The Deluxe Deluxe edition package only caters to one type of fan, those who might be late to the party, who heard the hype that the early fans caused and decided to join in. Now there's nothing wrong with this, (I bought MGMT's debut a good year after the rest of the world did) not everyone is a hipster, or is in the right place at the right time. The problem is that while the newer fans get a nice package, the fans who bought the records first time round are either going to have to buy a record twice, ignore the new tracks, or rip the new tracks for free. I don't mind these label tactics when for example, the new tracks are sold separately as an EP.  In fact packaging a new EP and album together is a nice way to encourage listeners, but it's when you can't buy the new tracks as a package, that package comes out 4 months after the original with no warning whatsoever that people are being ripped off. Record Labels need to understand that people who supported the bands from the start are the ones who need rewarding, not the bystanders.
For me the final straw is that DAVID BOWIE is re-releasing 'The Next Day' with a hand full of new tracks. In this case it is completely different because as you know David Bowie is one of the most successful, loved and influential artists of all time, he's not going to win any new fans from this re release, as new fans will be more likely turned on by the standard edition or his classic albums. So obviously, when the next Day Extra comes out unannounced around 6 months after the original, who else can it be aimed at other than the Thin White Duke's long term fans? who not knowing that this record was coming out will likely have to buy the same album again? (and may be less likely to rip the racks for free)
With this blatant example of greed and laziness becoming more common, it's time we as consumers told record labels that this is where the line should be drawn


*No offense to the Little Monsters meant of course.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Broken Witt Rebels

Sometime I find new music. Sometimes new music finds me. I'm friends with one or two of these guys on Facebook, despite the fact that I've not met any of them. and I've been telling them i'll write about them for a while. So i might as well give them a listen.
So how to they sound?
Well kind of like Oasis, i guess but less nasal, and more bluesey, in fact there's a definite blues and classic -rock edge to these guys, especially in the nifty little guitar solos that run throughout the songs.
or as they Put it themselves

"The arrangement of James Tranter’s dominant, layered guitar work, Danny Core’s strong and unique vocals, Luke Davis’s muddy harmonic bass playing and Anthony Byrne’s thunderous drumming are the framework of a band that’s enchanting and irresistible"

  It's obvious that these guys have genuine musical talent, more so than a lot of indie bands. The guitar playing is particularly great on the song below. Effortless, yet complex like all good blues playing.
It all seems to be working for them as they've landed a deal with sound hub records, and are headlining venues throughout Birmingham
UP The Rebels!

Website: -
Twitter: - 
Facebook: - 

Friday, October 18, 2013

I met Jason Bradbury! (the Guy from the Gadget Show)

I missed him the first few times he'd visited my little coffee shop in New Street Station, but this time i was right by him when he came in.  He asked me a question about one of our paninis and I looked at him for as second and said.

'Its' aright I just recognised you'. I answered the question and noticed that he was with one or two mates and that he was completely hyperactive, even more manic than on the telly. He even asked me if i thought he'd had too much coffee, to which I just blankly looked at him sand said 'I don't know how much have you had?

Another awkward moment was when i asked if him and his mate were paying together, to which he replied 'What? are you saying i'm gay?' I'd walked right into that one.

He ordered a Flat White, though he'd clearly had enough coffee. and rather than asking for his name to write on the cup like I do with other customers, I simply wrote 'That Bloke from the Gadget Show', on the side.

It was only a very short meeting but i feel we got on very well, with my dry wit contrasting his coffee assisted hyperactivity. Once again I've got no photos as I was at work but this was definitely the highlight of my day.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I met Doug From Peace!

I work in a train station in Birmingham.
Some of my co workers have met Jimmy Carr on his way to a train and that guy from the Gadget show passes through yet i miss him every time. This story probably won't mean much to my co-workers but that doesn't matter.

I Finished my shift at 11:00 last night and I was walking home when i saw a familiar looking face, a tall guy in a black coat, with his (presumably) girlfriend, walking past the other way.  It only took me a moment to place him  and what next went something like this.

Me: Hey your that guy from Peace!

Dom: Yeahh

Me: Your Band is AWESOME!

We then did a sort of handshake walked away but then Doug said hey lets do that again!, cue another handshake thing and we then both walked off.  I shouted 'See you in December!' because of course I've got a ticket to see them on the 13th. I just hope he knew that's what i meant.

Sadly (like the time i met Swim Deep's Aussie) i had no camera, but we both had places to be anyway, judging by the speed he was walking he probably had a train to catch. So you'll just have to believe me when i say this happened.

Still, this was kind of the highlight of my week.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Duke: Where are we now EP review.

Dukes first official (as in properly released) EP comes out soon and I've given it a listen.

Let it in starts off the 4 track EP. with guitar riffs that instantly burst out the speakers. It sounds like a statement of intent, immediately showing far more energy than the opener of the last EP. Duke still sound pretty much the same (like Oasis meets Ocean Colour Scene) but the sound is much more beefed up. This is duke 2.0 complete with guitar solos and more riffs and a big chorus.

Whats it got to do with you is a bit more laid back but its a catchy number which has been lodged in my head since I saw them play it live.
Its got a good little riff to it and a nice bluesy sound. I think i remember jack saying something about it live about how its about being a teenager and your parents interfering with your drinking. whatever its about, there's a definite angst to this track.
Going nowhere starts with a more acoustic sound to it but it quickly morphs into a proper rock song.  It ends with a great little guitar solo and what sounds almost like Duke's take on a 'Wall of Sound'.
Finally the EP ends with Take Me Away which is a proper straight forward rock song, the sort that you could imagine hearing on the radio if they were that bit bigger. It ends the EP off very nicely. overall this release shows how far Duke have come in such a short time and shows how much promise they've got for the future.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Rise of Birmingham - Rest of the pics

Rise of Birmingham Photos -youth man

Rise of Birmingham (2/10/13) Free School, Victories at Sea, Victor, Youth Man

So, last night I decided after a long tiring a day at work that it was still worth going to the rise of Birmingham gig at the library. I've already written about how much i love the library and   it was  nice being able to go there for a gig. The atmosphere was nice and friendly, with people off all ages showing up.

Youth Man were the first band on, and the band that I had come to see. They put on a typically chaotic show. The songs sounded pretty much the same as on record, short sharp punkish blasts driven by frenetic guitar and drum blasts. Kalia Whyte sounds like she could make equally good a soul singer as a punk shouter and during one of the last songs her guitar broke leaving it as just a bass/drums jam.  Youth Man didn't disappoint me at all. 

I'd never heard of Victor and didn't really know what to expect. Initially I wasn't so impressed, compared with Youth Man they had a much denser sound, aided by two more musicians and keyboards. However I was then blown away by the singer as she wailed and flailed around the stage, suddenly this show had become more intense and more captivating. Some great sounding songs were played and while Victor haven't released anything yet from seeing this I can say that they're ones to watch. 

Victories at Sea were probably the closest thing to a proper indie band this night. or at least they were for the first two tracks, after which they gave up the drum kit to rely on keyboard beats. Right from the off it was an energetic performance, aided by cool projections of city landscapes. By this point i was pretty much dancing and taking photos at the same time. Their singer/guitarist played a constant stream of echoed barre chords on top of dense synth sounds and beats. Its a sound that's funky and dance-able yet atmospheric and experimental. 

Free School were the headliners tonight and oddly enough i'd never heard of them before. Musically free school aren't too far off from fellow Birmingham act Greg Bird and Flamingo Flame. Its dark goth tinged yet hard hitting electronica. They started with 'Theme From Free School' which built up suspense until the singer came on stage. They play while wearing creepy bunny masks and their singer gets a black one to wear (along with his Sisters of Mercy T Shirt). The back projection showed clips of the band with masks on which aided the dark unsettling atmosphere of the performance.
At two different points they had two specials guests on with them. The first was a rather scruffy looking Birmingham rapper, and the second an older Jamaican man in a white tracksuit. I had no idea who either of these people are but I've got a feeling that the Jamaican may be a member of steel pulse or something, judging by the crowds reaction to his appearance. I can't say that Free School don't offer variety at their gigs. by the end both Victories at Sea and Free School were playing onstage together, playing an extended jam (incidentally Free School produced, V.A.S's EP). Seeing Free school live is a very unsettling experience but they live up to the hype.

Overall this was a good night and a good introduction to some great new bands.