Thursday, December 17, 2015

Lil Bub + Meow The Jewels. Are Cats the future of music?

On the 14th December of this year "Science & Magic" debuted at #1 on Bilboard's Top New Alternative New Artists Chart, #2 on the Top New Artist and Electronic Music Charts, and at #121 on the main Top 200 Albums Chart. As far as I know this marks the first ever time that a cat has had a chart album. History has been made. Of course earlier this year Lil Bub also guested on the Run the Jewels "Meow the Jewels" remix album. She has not produced this record herself, but her deep distorted meows are all over the record. Andrew W.K. explains that The album is a "genuine musical experience, a bona fide and musically gratifying concept album, which entirely emerged from the soul and spirit of Lil BUB herself". Lil Bub is lucky enough to have musicians as her owner and friends who were willing to make the record for her. On the flip-side 'Meow The Jewels' was not so much a labour of love as a commitment that had to be fulfilled. As part of the fund-raising for their second album together Hip Hop legends Killer Mike and EL-P started a handful of fund-raisers. such as playing house parties and the promise of quitting the music industry for good if offered a million dollars. They would write one song each year for the benefactor. The most popular by far was obviously the Meow the Jewels LP. They gained far more money  than they needed to make it and ended up collaborating with Massive Attack's 2d, Zola Jesus, Prince Paul and Dan the Automata. EL-P has said “I enjoy the painful irony that this is probably the only time I’ll get to be on an album with this amount of people I respect, and I forced them to make the stupidest fucking shit possible*.”. The fact that the finished product is still one of the best hip hop albums of the year (Both Lil Bub and RTJ are in my top 50), only goes to show how great the original album is. The producers  have done a great job of re-imagining  the album and the end result is oddly calming, but also very angrily political.
It has been over ten years now since Damon Albarn left Blur to form his own new group Gorillaz. At the time  it seemed ridiculous but a decade on. He has made some of his best albums with the cartoon monkeys, and had more world-wide success than he ever did with Blur. Gorillaz were officially inducted into the Guinness book of world Records as the 'Worlds First Virtual Band'. Following on from this Hatsune Miku, a virtual hologram has become one of Japan's biggest popstars.
While some may groan at the idea of a Cat making an album. It's not that strange when you consider that LIL Bub is real. Most of us will never experience holding her. Andrew W.K. says "she is the softest creature I have ever encountered", but we can buy the album and experience the "sonic aura of BUB's loving and compassionate presence".
The downside is that Lil Bub will not be touring the album. But the upside is that she will never spend our hard earned on cocaine, or angrily sign autographs for us like most pop stars. She will always just be Lil Bub.


* Happily the profits will go to a cat charity. The album is available for free at http://www.runthejewels.net/

Sources:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2812571/Meet-Hatsune-Miku-VIRTUAL-POPSTAR-Japanese-hologram-sings-dances-arena-real-fans.html
 
http://store.lilbub.com/products/lil-bub-science-magic

 http://diymag.com/2015/11/02/run-the-jewels-talk-meow-the-jewels-all-the-money-went-to-charity-directly-to-the-families-of-michael-brown-and-eric-garner


Saturday, December 12, 2015

BBC Introducing At CBSO 8/12/15 Review. Feat Project Jam Sandwich +Iosif Purits + Hansu Tori


The first act on was the Manchester based world music collective, Project Jam Sandwich. There are 5 members of the group. They play Violin, percussion, Double Bass and Spanish Guitar. The 'Jam' of course refers to the musical sense of the world, a tasty mix of flavours that is both jazz and classical influenced. They played re-imagined versions of classic folk songs. Including their take on 'gypsy jazz' and 'Whiskey in the Jar'. Which they have added to their set to give the audience something familiar as they know their shows can be a weird and wonderful experience. Project Jam Sandwich prove that Jazz and Classical music, as  well as being able to innovate in music, does not have to mean being overly pretentious or serious. The only quiet part of the show made their double bassist nod off, and need waking up by playing something a bit more energetic. Project Jam Sandwich are amazingly talented. They mix loads of different genres and influences together to create something unique but most importantly, fun.


Iosif Purits is a small, ageless man. Who was dressed entirely in black and had the smug look of a man who is really, really good at his chosen instrument. You have not heard Vivaldi until you have seen it played on an accordion. The fact that the Russian classical pieces he had chosen to play had been written many years before the accordion was invented goes further to highlight his amazing skills. The accordion is probably my least favourite instrument after the bagpipe*.  Yet when Iosif played I was amazed at the melodies, and depth of sound coming from this huge instrument. He plays with such precision and skill that it sounds as if there was a tiny orchestra coming out of it. He essentially plays two instruments at a time, while pushing and pulling those instruments together.

During his interview he explained that he has been playing accordions since he was 3 and started to learn professionally when he was 6 years old. And also that it is difficult trying to break through as a classical musician with such an odd choice of instrument, but he has no competition and no peers. Talent like his won't go unnoticed. 


Hansu-Tori had the job of finishing the night off. A new Birmingham act who play free-form jazz. Apparently Birmingham has a long history of producing jazz pioneers and the band leader, Pianist David Austin Grey spoken highly of the Birmingham scene, not just the jazz scene but of the scene as a whole. he also explained the meaning behind the bands name ‘Hansu’ means ‘water‘. “A drop of water gathering to make an ocean”. Specifically Hansu represents strength, flexibility, harmony and water as the source of life. ‘Tori’ is the Japanese word for ‘bird‘. It can be thought to represent freedom and grace. Water and Japanese/korean influences are quite a big part of the bands music.

This is all great. Problem is that I don't like Jazz. I enjoy listening to the Token Jazz Mercury nominees as there is usually something I like there. At the Lunar Festival I made it my mission to be as far as possible from the Sun Ra Arkestra. I appreciate jazz and I appreciated Hansu-Tori's set. They are a fantastic bunch of musicians. Each one is hugely talented, and unlike in most genres of music there is no clear leader of the band. Each member contributes but no one dictates the sound. I liked the skittish, frantic drumming. I liked the funky double bass. The saxophones were a bit too overpowering for my taste. I enjoyed the quieter pieces and I have no doubt that Hansu-Tori are a seriously talented bunch, but are they actually any good? Fuck knows.



*There was a time when you could be arrested for playing bagpipes in public as they were considered an instrument of war. I think we should bring that law back.


Links:

http://www.projectjamsandwich.com

http://www.iosifpurits.com/

http://www.hansu-tori.com/

Friday, December 4, 2015

Guy Garvey + Steve Mason. Live at the 02 academy Birmingham (3/1215) Live Review.

Sometimes you wonder why the people at the door even bother. A quarter of the audience for Guy Garvey had beards, and at a sprightly 23, I was the youngest at the show by far. They checked my bag. Yet throughout the whole show I doubt they found any more than a few tabs of Ibuprofen. I had managed to win two free tickets to see Guy Garvey promoting his début solo album away from Elbow, "Courting The Squall". The first musician on stage was Steve Mason (7.2). The Ex -Beta Band member who has made a critical success of himself with his series of solo albums. I have no idea how he does it, but Steve makes the traditional format of guy singing with an acoustic guitar sound unique. His voice and guitar both rang out and filled the room with a pleasing echo. It shouldn't be possible. Yet with nothing more than a few chords he makes a noise that sounds like no one else. His set was short and filled with some friendly banter, as well as explanations for the political meanings behind some of his songs. I was really impressed.

You can tell a lot about a band by the merchandise that they sell. You will always find T shirts, signed cds/vynils and possibly a few posters. On Guy Garvey's merchandise table were Mugs with 'Unwind' and hip flasks with 'Courting the Squall' written on them. Which is a poetic way of saying 'coping with cold weather'*. Best of all was the bath robe. At over £30 this fluffy white bath robe hints that Guy really knows his audience. Despite this being the first tour, for the first solo album a huge crowd of Elbow devotees slowly filled the room. I have personally always admired Elbow for never following trends or using gimmicks. Never imitating anyone else and putting the music before anything else. There is a calm sophistication to Elbow's music. The same is true for Guy's solo songs.
Arriving on-stage to huge applause. Guy and co opened with the typically gentle ballad, 'Three Bells'. They changed the mood with 'Angela's Eyes'. A fun and bizarrely funky take on his usual sound, featuring his rather strange keyboard solo's. This was followed by the absolutely beautiful 'Courting the Squall'. This show felt less like a gig and more like a night at the theatre. Guy introduced us all to his super-group of Mancunians, including members of The Whip and I am Kloot, with the preferred nicknames to shout at them. Guy's drunkenness and Guinness drinking only made him more likeable. He is one of the rare singers who can talk to a huge crowd, while making it seem as if he's talking to each person as an individual. He was great at bantering with the crowd, talking about politics, the german market, the inspirations behind his songs, and responding to heckles just as a comedian would.
The show was fun and felt very spontaneous and relaxed. After nearly running out of his own songs Peter Jobson of Iam Kloot took over on piano to play two of his own darkly funny piano ballads. 'Belly of the Whale' made things nice and funky again, and the chant which he asked us all to sing throughout 'Broken Bottles and Chandeliers' was repeated long after he'd left the stage. Rather than just clapping and shouting, everyone sung this refrain over and over again unison until the band came back onstage. I'd never seen such a civilised or enthusiastic demand for an encore. Guy, Peter, and the guy from **The Whip all came onstage together for an acoustic cover of 'I don't want to set the world on fire' (by the Ink Spots). Guy asked us what song we'd like them to play, and immediately shouted 'Angela's Eyes?' OK! Only this time the keyboard solo was played on his other weird looking mini keyboard.  Without playing a single Elbow song Guy left the audience captivated. This was a master-class in putting on a brilliant show without actually trying.
8.4/10



* It's clever because they're both songs  on the album but also because you drink tea to unwind and spirits to warm yourself.
**The Whip are really underrated band, best known for the song 'Trash'. The 'X Marks Destination' LP is well worth hearing
I'd like to thank Setlist fm for helping me write this http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/guy-garvey/2015/o2-academy-birmingham-england-33f2fc1d.html

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Salon: Contemporary Midlands Art.

Whether I'm going to exhibitions or taking photographs of graffiti.  I love art. I also have my own collection, which includes prints from local artists, Setdebellza, Bandito, Imbue and a massive Queens of the stone age Wembley arena show poster screen print. So I was excited about the idea of being able to go out and find more affordable pieces to add to my growing collection.
Salon is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 am to 5pm until the 22nd of December. Unfortunately the majority of the items on display are a tad expensive. Yet still comparatively very cheap compared with the rubbish you'll find in a lot of 'fine art' galleries*.  If you want you can buy a massive sculpture  of a child's swing locked in motion, or a big sculpture of a load of wooden deck chairs stuck together. There is a globe that blows a gust of wind into a bunch of white bird feathers. Two films, one of a book of art being slowly turned page by page and the other of a train journey being filmed from the drivers point of view. The latter made me feel oddly nostalgic for my daily trips to Stratford Upon Avon. It was produced by Robert Davies and is available to buy for £9100. Which hopefully includes the projector and the big dark room. The main bargain was a series of Risograph prints, of areas of Birmingham  by Andre De Jong. you get all 7 unframed for the amazing price of £20. It breaks my heart but I don't have the space for them. So I probably wont get them. The prints are all of very dull  worn out suburban areas of Birmingham. I like the fact that it is very uninteresting scenes. The printing style lends a lot of colour to the pictures and the images themselves are quietly surreal. There are some lovely affordable prints by Karoline Rerrie and some amazing pencil drawings of animals. I love the copper prints, and collections of jars, on sale £20 each.  A lot of the pieces are reflective of life in the West Midlands. Every piece I saw looks modern and in some way reflects our era. The paintings of Malala Yousafzai are particularly poignant.  Of course many of the best works are the most expensive. Whether your buying or not though. Salon is worth visiting for fans of brilliant modern art, all by local artists.


*Just because it's signed/painted by Ronnie Wood, John Lennon, Bob Dylan or Stan Lee. Does not make it worth ten grand.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Ones to watch in 2016. Part 1

PIXX
Obviously the whole idea of trying to predict who will make it big next year. Or who you should be listening to instead of those who are obviously going to make it big next year. Is a fun, yet futile and kind of pointless task. However, writing these stupid lists is a good way to get blog views. So here we go. First of all lets look at how my predictions/recommendations from last year went. Slaves have rightfully become very big, Allusondrugs are getting bigger and better support slots. Table Scraps and God Damn are still slaying venues, and have put out debut LP's. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have finally got some hype in the UK. The rest are all still pretty much where they were last year.

The following acts are from all over the place, two are from the Midlands. Most of these are acts I've seen live and I suggest you do yourself. Part two may or may not follow soon

 

PIXX
PIXX are a newly 4AD signed trio. 4AD is famous for signing the Cocteau Twins and Grimes, and I think PIXX will fit nicely on the label.  They're hugely hip and very cool, but actually pretty good as well. Their minimalist sound isn't too far of from The XX, Daughter, or 2:54. Their music is intimate yet delicately played and woozily offbeat. Their songs are full of gently picked guitar, looped beats, strange keyboard melodies and darkly atmospheric tones. Basically PIXX are a very NOW kind of band. I've never seen anyone seem quite so 2015. I think in 2016 they're only going to get bigger
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klm7Yv3L0yA

HANZ
Hanz is a mysterious American producer. His music defies categorisation, shuns melody, structure and genre. It's like Aphex Twin but without the subtly or perfectionist streak or Death Grips without MC Ride's ranting. The songs have no beginnings or ends and the samples dropped in between are equally nonsensical. 'Reducer' was released for free in early 2015 and as proved one of the years best and strangest records. There are some nods to trip hop, yet Reducer has a grittiness to it that much trip hop lacks. Hanz has already put out a follow up tape. It's likely that there will be plenty more HANZ in 2016
http://hanz.feltzine.us/

Car Seat Headrest 
Finding Car Seat Headrest's band-camp was like stumbling on a treasure trove of free music. In only 5 years Will Toledo has produced 11(!) albums. Apart from the 'Not Very good' numbered albums. All of them are worth listening too. All of them are different and ape different styles. CSH is impossible to categorise into one genre. Will's discography takes includes his epic double album, his experimental, yet lovable 'How to leave town' and the incredible yet rough as fuck 'Twin Fantasy'. The new album 'Teens of style' is an LP of re-recorded older songs. Now that CSH have finally discovered decent recording techniques, the world is theirs for the taking.  https://carseatheadrest.bandcamp.com/music


Field Harmonics 
Despite all the fuss about rock n roll having a revival, the trend for 80's synth pop that started in the last decade still hasn't really died out. Of course there is a fine line between aping retro sounds and taking them forward. Which Field Harmonics seem to know. Despite only being a duo they make a huge wall of sound out of their synths, beats and sampling of their own vocals. Their take on 80's pop feels amazingly fresh and and easy to immerse yourself in. I reckon fans of Grimes, Crystal Castles and Chvrches will love them.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWxv_RNv5Hk


Zibra
It's not very often that a song played on Radio 1 will cause my ears to prick up and listen, but 'Paris' by Zibra did just that. It's slightly naff, features rapping, and is very danceable. It's full of funky guitar riffs, bongos, and keyboardy bits. For all the damning by faint praise, it's actually nice to hear a band who make music that's fun. They remind me of the old Nu Rave days. Back when Friendly Fires, Fenech-Soler and the like were not only active but actually cool. Sometimes a bit of fun is what you need.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRNjl7SAQbs


Heck
For some stupid reason the band formerly known as Baby Godzilla, are now known as Heck. The band reassure that  "We are exactly the same. The same band under a different name. To be honest, it did reinvigorate us, it has made us all never want to stop doing this." Which is just as well because Heck  were one of  the best live bands I saw all year. I saw them play on a little wooden bridge above a pool in the corner of the custard factory. The band played their insane mix of punk and metal while screaming into peoples faces, going for a dip in the pool, casually walking into shops, and climbing up onto the roofs of local businesses. They've yet to release an album but the band have won a large and loyal following of fans. 
http://www.abandcalledheck.com/



Crime and Punishment 2011

At first it seems that Crime and Punishment are a bit of a joke. A band who take prop chainsaws on stage, and don't seem to realise that NU metal ever died. Yet like all great Hip Hop groups they all have unique personalities. Their DJ "Jason Pink Violence Cassius Neon Tyler" makes the beats. Joey Sniper is a professional metal screamer. Glitch is the bands GZA, the straight talking MC. While D.A.N is the ODB. One of the funniest guys I've ever met. Jokes aside they're all great rappers. Put them together and you've got an amazing live show. D.A.N says their taking over next year. With that confidence who can doubt him?
https://crimepunishment2011.bandcamp.com/album/extra-hour-ep

Thursday, November 12, 2015

LA Priest, PIXX, Field Harmonics. Live at the Hare and Hounds, 11/11/15 Review


First of all a word of warning, there is a group of kids who hang around the hare and hounds and throw eggs at punters while swearing at them. That sounds a bit scary but their aim is so hilariously bad that we didn't notice they were aimed at us until after about 5 had been thrown. Something to be aware of if you visit kings heath. Nothing was going to spoil the excitement of this show though.
In the small room the first act on was Field Harmonics, a duo from Wolverhampton. They have a set up of a few keyboards and mics. Much like Grimes, or Crystal castles, their music draws a lot  from 80's synth pop but they've taken that basic concept and made something entirely new and engrossing out of it. By sampling teir own vocals and looping synth tracks they create a sound that is huge, and is easy to immerse yourself in. Their new single 'Girls'  is a great example of what's so good about them, for all the technology and experimentation, Field Harmonics can still pull out great pop songs. (7.2/10)

After that was PIXX, who are newly signed to 4AD records. 4AD is most well known for signing Grimes and The Cocteau Twins. I think PIXX will fit on their current roster very nicely. They are probably the most 2015 band I've ever seen on stage. From their singer's flashy style, the fact that they use drum pads instead of drums, and don't really care about genre constraints. Their sound is very minimalist, not that far off from The XX or 2:54. Gently picked guitar, soft beats and keyboard strokes, all give PIXX a very woozy, relaxed sound. After the huge sound of Field Harmonics, PIXX were a lot more chilled out, but its great music to lose yourself in. (7.2)

La Priest (aka Sam Dust) is one of the coolest guys I've ever met. Rather than a tour bus, he gets about in an old Mercedes. He builds his own instruments, and is the only guy I've ever met who owns more than one pair of velvet trousers. The stage was laid out from one end to the other with keyboards, synths, and a light up box, with wires and leads coming out of it. The lighting was a procession of light-bulbs and foil shades that lit up one by one, from one end and then started again. Sam hid under his long hair, crouching down, while his keyboards and synths made this amazing funky noise. I was standing right next to the speakers for this show, so I got a blast of air in my face from the bass. La Priest is a master of multitasking. Playing a bit of guitar, while twiddling a few knobs and playing little keyboard melodies, and also engaging the audience and singing. He got his breakthrough track 'Oino' out of the way early. If you've not heard it, the song is a great mix of funk, almost reggae rhythms and a catchy chorus. La Priest's music takes a lot from the past. He mixes funk, soul, pop and electronica. While he does throwback to the past. It's all so bonkers that it could only be from the present.
The real highlight was when Sam asked for some backing dancers and I got pushed on stage. I got to throw shapes on stage with two other guys, in front of a packed Hare and Hounds crowd. It was only for one song but it was still a fantastic experience. Once I was off stage, the show was still amazing. Sam showed off his new tea towel that a fan had made for him and responded to my heckle that it could be his second album cover. Replica tea towels will, be on sale shortly while the design is currently on tote bags.
The other song that really sticks out in my memory is the last one he played. 'Learning to love'  is a fantastically crazy mix of slap bass, synths and clicky beats. It's still playing in my head now.  There was also some messing around, where he passed the mic to us lot and sampled our voices, for a sort of extended vocal sample jam. After the show Sam was keen to meet every one who'd come to see  him. One couple had travelled as far as Ireland and really wanted a photo. Sam was happy to sign CD's and the poster that I had nicked. He drew a snail on my CD cover and did his signature as huge as he could. On the poster he drew a duck with tank tracks, and 'James is a good eggy'. Sam was really happy to answer questions, and his weird signatures hint at a odd sense of humour, but also a desire to make a connection with his fans.
I loved this show, easily one of the best gigs I've ever been too. (9/10)


Links:
http://fieldharmonics.tumblr.com/
http://pixxmusic.com/#tour
https://www.facebook.com/trulylapriest
 http://earth-window.org/


Note about photography.
It was not my intention to have my photographs look as if they were taken on some cheap lomograph camera. I had to use flash and black and white settings to drown out the red lights for most of these shots. I got some cool pics, but the washed out look was totally by accident.

Monday, November 9, 2015

LUMP

When I was at the Lunar Festival last year I was with my dad. I know most people who go to festivals go with  a group of mates but I don't really have that so I had to meet new people. It was easy enough. I'd made friends with the people on my camp-site within hours of putting up the tent. As the sun fell the temperatures dropped hugely. So the place to be was the campfire. By the campfire I met three people. Henry, Matthew and Henry's girlfriend. We danced about to psych rock DJ Sets, drank, ate pizza and had long conversations about jazz, (I hate jazz, they didn't). Throughout the whole time I don't remember Henry ever mentioning that he had made music of his own. If he did mention it then I probably forgot. After the goodbye's I logged back onto face-book to find Henry had released two albums for free on bandcamp as well as a bunch of stuff on Soundcloud. One band I've been loving lately is Seattle based lo-fi rockers Car Seat Headrest. CSH released a load of albums for free on Bandcamp (11 in the space of 5 years!) Henry is similar in his approach to releasing music, just record it, and put it on the internet to be downloaded for free by anyone who wants to hear it. The whole project is full of signs that Henry doesn't take his music making too seriously. His two albums to date are called 'HERTZ HISS HEAD' and his début, is the ironically named 'Lump Sings Again'.
Both albums were out out this year and both are free. HERTZ Henry's voice is deep and echoes throughout the record. Rather than writing about what he knows, he has songs about medical experiments, and being a ghost. There's barely any percussion throughout the album, and it's pretty much just him and a lazily strummed acoustic guitar. Though some of the guitar work is pretty impressive. The vibe is mostly relaxed, such as on the gently acoustic 'Room'. While Haunting the Halls' is fidgety and eerie. Lump has the feel of a bedroom project without the awful production that most bedroom projects have. The lack of instruments works in his advantage rather than against it. While minimalism is the trend right now, LUMP still sounds very unique. Lump is bluesy, and very lo-fi but also pretty surreal. Much like the aforementioned Car Seat Headrest, the more freebie albums he puts out, the more people will listen.

https://lumpsings.bandcamp.com/album/hertz-hiss-head

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mercury Prize 2015 Soapbox

So it's the time of year again that the Mercury Prize Short-list is announced. The majority of people are probably not aware that this exists as they go about their days blissfully unaware of the fact that most of these acts exist. But for a small proportion of us who love music this is our grand national. Those of us who take music that little bit too seriously love this. It gives us a chance to actually bet on who might win, and vent frustration on who should have been nominated in think piece blogs such as this. This Mercury's are more or less the same each year. You can divide it into categories pretty easily.
The big hitters:
Every year a few of the biggest acts our country has produced get nominated. This year Florence Welch became a true icon. Touring all over the world and headlining Glastonbury for the first time. It's just as well that her album is brilliant. Her foghorn vocals have been toned down but this is a bit of a hollow victory. The twee harps of the earlier records have been replaced with brass horns. 'How big...' is a truly massive album. Good enough to win, but maybe not edgy enough to truly deserve the prize. The other obvious entry is Syro By Aphex Twin. Not being a fan of him before hearing this has biased me a bit. The few dissenting voices claiming that the album is in some way dull or short of his standards, seem as bewildering to me as the album itself. It deserves a Mercury, but anyone who has his own WW2 tank probably doesn't need one.
Who?:
This year Eska, C Duncan and Benjamin Clementine are the Who? nominees. The best part of the mercury's for me is discovering new artists that I would not otherwise would have heard of. There is no token jazz entries this year. I've not heard of any of these artists. I hadn't heard of Jon Hopkins before he was nominated for 'Immunity'. While I was happy that James Blake won that year. Immunity is on a totally different level. I believe it's one of the best electronic albums of all time. I hope I grow to love the artists I've not heard of on this years list.
Solid Bets: 
While most people tend to lighten up by album number three Ghostpoet's music only seems to get more and more depressing. Which is admirable, even if I worry if he's OK. In my view his first album is still the best as it was his unique take on Hip Hop and electronica that first made me a fan. With 'Shedding Skin' Ghostpoet has embraced a new jazzy direction. It's a fantastic album but not a very fun one. Jamie XX is a solid bet. I've not heard it but I know 'In Colour' is fantastic. Soak, Gaz Coombes and Rosin Murphy will probably do OK. Usually the winner is decided at the last minute so it can be the more underrated records that win. I think the two that deserve to win are Slaves and Wolf Alice. Wolf Alice in particular. 'My Love is Cool' seems to summarise 2015 like no other record. In 10 years time it will sound totally dated. But every decade needs music that defines it. A Mercury will help cement the album's status for future generations.
WTF?:
http://www.mercuryprize.com/upload/pic/album_77_304_bd4.jpg
As usual there is nothing from the genre of heavy metal. Bring Me The Horizon would have deserved a nod but the album came out too late. I love God Damn but it's not exactly music for the brain. It's sad that metal never gets a nod but can you seriously think of a metal band that deserves it?  Asking Alexandria Mercury winners? excuse me while I vomit. Grime Is over looked too but that's because despite the revival only JME would actually be elegable.
Public Service Broadcasting are the big WTF? exclusion. The Race For Space is a near perfect album. Poignant, funny, and moving. It's got great tunes and is a fantastic example of how music  has progressed in this decade. Sleaford Mods obviously never paid the £170. Everything Everything's exclusion seems a bit strange. But I never heard that LP so I can't say much. Swim Deep's new record  is a fantastic musical trip, which sadly came out too late to be in with a shot. Django Django also deserved a second nomination for their fantastic Sophomore LP.
It's not the best list the Mercury's have come up with, but there's still plenty of great records on there.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

OXJAM Brum Feat: Crime and Punishment 2011, SLTP, Neumonics. 17/10. Review.

Neumonics
If you have read the Crime and Punishment 2011 interview (scroll down if you've not read it) then like me you'd be curious to see what they're really like on a stage. I did their first ever photo-shoot,. which involved stripping outside a strip club and a plastic chainsaw.  This years OXJAM  gave a ridiculous amount of value for money. With performers playing at 7 venues across Birmingham from midday to 1am. All for just £10 on the door of any of the venues. I saw that the Sunflower Lounge. After the madness of the photo-shoot the first band I saw was Neumonics (7.2/10). Neumonics are a Northampton based rock trio. They dress in all black and play really well together. Their singer uses pedals to loop his guitar playing for extra heaviness and goes wild on his guitar head-banging and shredding away. The pedals also added a touch of electonica to the bands sound. They claim to be influenced by 90's shoegaze, but I think the singer had a touch of glam about him. Neumonics are a loud rock n roll band and I think they're pretty great.
D.AN Carter
SLTP's name is a acronym for Summer Loving Torture Party (6/10) were up next. They're a newly formed Birmingham based act. Their sound is pretty conventional indie. Not really far off from The Maccabees or Bombay Bicycle Club. But they play really well together as a band. They've got decent songs and they play them with plenty of spirit.
Joey Sniper
I was really excited to see Crime and Punishment 2011 (7.2/10) as they said their set would blow my dick off. I also wanted to see if they were a genuine band or just a piss take. The truth is that they're a bit of both. Look at any great hip hop group and you'll see a mix of personalities and individuals. Crime and Punishment share this trait. They have the bearded screaming metal dude called Joey Sniper (who I suggested should call himself Kenilworth Lamar). The quiet yet only actual serious MC in the group, Glitch, and the nutter that is D.A.N Carter. On beats is Jason, who basically provides the same ethereal witch-house hip hop that he does as Pink Violence. But he also threw in some heavier guitar tracks. They did a cover of Linkin Park's 'Nobody's listening' with all the angst of the original.  They also brought the heaviness with their own song 'Hellbound'. Put all this together and you've got an incredibly loud, high energy show. Dan and Joey Sniper got right into peoples faces and ran about the place screaming and jumping about like Nu metal never died. The show was loads of fun and great to watch and be a part of. Only a few people were there and those who were were either loving it or a bit confused. Crime and Punishment 2011 are not really a grime act like I was led to believe. They mix a lot of styles. It's hard to tell whether any of them are being serious at any time. The banter never stops with this lot and they all share in jokes like a real clique. Afterwards I said to them that it ' actually wasn't shit'. Which they seemed happy with. I really want to join them as it just looks like so much fun. If they want a guitarist they know where to find me.


https://crimepunishment2011.bandcamp.com/

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Great Birmingham Run 2015

I woke up at 7 am to  get ready. Arte a breakfast of porridge, maple syrup and bananas. We were dropped off  near Digbeth and walked to the start point. Met a few runners who were confused where that was but eventually found it pretty easily. There was a few gazebos and porta-loos set up on the Aston University campus. Where two students amazingly still awake and still drunk at 8am decided to chat to the runners. There were people  from all over  in this little park. Some with bright jacjkets and iPhones strapped to their arms. Some with flags of what time they could achieve on their backs. I saw a Minion. Two grown adults dressed as baby's for the Birmingham Children's Hospital, a guy with a washing machine strapped to his back, a cave man, and of course Wally.  It was a grey sky and a bitterly chilly morning. We all separated in our own little quarters. I was in the white section. The third group to go after the professional athletes and orange runners.  The Birmingham Community Gospel Choir (winner of Gospel Choir of the Year 2015) sung through the speakers. While a man from Free radio, played tunes and told us all what was going on. The wait for the warm up felt like ages. When the warm up finally came is was more of a workout in it's own right. They gave us exercise which are really hard to do in small spaces. Like punching in front of you and squats.
I was eager to get going to just feel warm. Most runners still have yet to grasp that when you start a race, you shouldn't actually race. There's no need to sprint over the starting line and  doing  this not only wears you out for later,  but is unfair on runners starting at a slower pace. Knowing the torture of the last two miles, I knew I'd have to set a slower pace. The first two miles went through the neglected backstreet's on the way to Edgbaston. Throughout people watched, cheered and offered sweets. Thousands of people took part  this year  and everyone ran at different paces.  I was important to not get competitive. Many people ran ahead of me and many people stopped so they could walk 50 yards ahead. I ran every step of the way. The check points had people handing out thousands of bottles of water and Lucozade. Almost all of which were dropped immediately after taking one sip. I amused myself by stepping on them and causing sprays of water. Which was funnier last year when it was much hotter. I also saw a girl holding a sign with "motivational poster" written on it. So I shouted back 'apathetic response'.
Throughout the route there were bands playing, groups of drummers and people representing charity's. Yet people were taking time out of their day just to watch and cheer us all on. The uphill bits were difficult but I was able to sprint down as soon as I found a downhill stretch. The run went through Bournville and back through to Edgbaston where we ran through the cricket ground. Which isn't as impressive from some angles. I knew that I had to save my energy, The endless supply of lucozade and sweets helped. But by the run though Cannon Hill park  things got difficult. I knew that the run up the dual carriageway would be difficult, ad it was. The last 2.1 miles seemed to go on forever. Eventually though, the run finished down broad street. As people cheered and I finally finished All I could do was repeat the time, that I'd seen over and over again. I got my bag, with T shirt and medal, and found somewhere to stretch out. I ran every step of the way, while still battling a cold and came away with a time of 02:29:06. Nearly 3 minutes off my time last year. Pretty good considering I hardly trained for it. But I'm still feeling tired and sore now.