Tuesday, 15 January 2013

IF I HAD A GUN......

Fate. Some people believe in it, some people don't. I do and fate has been kind enough to deliver unto me the blessing of someone I can truly say, I want in my life until the day I die. We knew each other a long time ago but circumstances caused us to go separate ways. Life went on...and on. Separately we grew into the people life intended us to be, shaped by the things that challenged and enriched us. And so, as lifes up's and down's had taken us away from one another, some 10 years ago, changes in our lives seemed to bring us back together. After extended skirmishes of flirting via social networks and text, we eventually met for coffee on a Monday afternoon. To say I was nervous is an understatement, I was trembling like a leaf at the beginning of Autumn. My attempts at small talk were stodgy and uncomfortable as all I could think of was kissing her lips after all those years. It was early summer, so we went to the garden for coffee and cigarettes, with the stereo playing through from a room away. At this time, Noel Gallagher's solo debut album was on heavy rotation in my household. Now I'm not entirely clear on the details of what led up to what happened, but I perfectly remember, slow dancing and quietly singing into her ear, then boldly declaring that "If I Had A Gun...." would be our first dance at our wedding! We didn't see each other for a couple of weeks after that, until we met up again at V Festival, Weston Park, Staffordshire. Noel was basically support for the reformed Stone Roses appearance, the Guv'nor was superb as usual, but in a crowd totalling tens of thousands, when he started playing said song, I was only aware of two people in that massive field. She and I. Slow dancing. For my Goddess, my eyes have always followed you around the room. X

Friday, 10 June 2011

Friday 10/6/11 Shuffle Home

This is a few notes about the tunes my shuffle is throwing out on my journey home from work Friday 10th June 10p.m onwards.

Paul Weller - Why Walk When You Can Run
Steady opener from the Modfather, gentle but with urgency at it's core, taken from As Is Now L.P.
Counting Crows - Hanging Tree
A step up in tempo from those country dudes from somewhere in America, I like this one as it reminds me of something off Recovering The Satellites, their second album, this one taken from most recent effort Saturday Nights, Sunday Morning.
Style Council - Speak Like A Child
More Weller, I can never hear too much, I think this was the first release from the Council, obviously a departure from early to middle Jam and an indicator of the lesser use of electric guitar in his songs, all horns and keyboard with a shuffling drum keeping it bobbing along, I'm listening to it off the Greatest Hits.
Arctic Monkeys - The Bakery
A B-side from the Fluorescent Adolescent single, an early sign of what was to come from Humbug, more sombre tuneage.
Eric Clapton - Someone Like You
Country strumalong from Slowhand.
Nice but probably better suited to a morning tidy shuffle really!
Oasis - Acquiesce
Back up to speed here, one of those early Oasis B - Sides that could easily have slotted into What's The Story's tracklisting, taken from Some Might Say, the Japanes import including Noel singing You've Got To Hide Your Love Away.
Rolling Stones - Shattered
I used to skip this track on Forty Licks until I saw them perform it live in the Scorcese movie Shine A Light, back when they still had half a finger on the pulse of music.

There now follows a brief interlude while I pop to the 24 hour ASDA for a pizza.
I went for Spicy Chicken Fajita flavour.

The Vines - Autumn Shade
Remember this lot, they were highly tipped in the music media to be quite large. Saw them live with @Johnny_Rudge while he was a baby, showed him how to lift bollards out of pavements after one too many Jeffreys.
Cream - I Feel Free
More Clapton. I think I first recognised this on some t.v advert, was it Dairy Milk or something? Less frenetic than some of their other stuff, obvious single material.
Eric Clapton - Let It Grow
!! Lovely hippy sentiment with a full Woodstock vibe.
Paul Weller - Bull Rush
From the ModFathers solo debut, opening track I think, nice bit of jazz flute in there, I like the live version that morphs into Magic Bus.
Ryan Adams - Oh My God, Whatever
A little more country balladeering, about getting on with lifes everydayness. I always think this fella as a bit of a guilty pleasure along with Clapton.
Beady Eye - Bring The Light
Onto the final leg of the journey and Liam Gallagher's new effort jangles along with jabbing keyboards and female backing vocals, off Different Gear, Still Speeding, great album title.
Stereophonics - Last of the Big Time Drinkers
The final walk to the door and I wish I could tell you I started hammering vodkas back, but I didn't, I put my pizza in the oven and made a pint of squash!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

An Intro Pt.2

The first part of this blog's introduction told you of the last song to have an emotional impact on me, in this follow up, another song that left a lasting impression on me.


November 1994, 6 or 7 months before BIG school finished, I was living with my Mother, stepfather and Brother Bob in a council owned semi detached in the lovely borough of Tipton, West Midlands, U.K.(The lovely part was sarcasm, shithole more apt.)
After a short spell at a local high school (Alexandra, too good a name for a school round there,) I'd requested a transfer back to the school I'd been going to, prior to moving away, which meant the use of public transport as both parents worked full time.
2 buses there and 2 buses back, monthly travel passes, led to a certain amount of freedom and independence, which I'm still accustomed to, to this day.
Anyone who uses public transport, of any kind, knows the invention of the walkman, was genius. To be forced to listen to some of the waffle on offer aboard such transportation can, at times, be tortuous, especially since the intervention of speakerphones! Anyway, back then, rather cheesily, recording music off the radio was still quite an option for music piracy, for me anyways.
And yes, Sunday night Radio 1's Top 40 countdown was essential listening for that very reason.
Now I don't want to sound offensive when I use the next phrase, but Sunday night, when you're still young and at school is bath night!
I only go this far into my hygiene detail because the very first time I heard aforementioned song was while I was in my Sunday night school bath and after hearing it debut at number 2, absolutely knew, guitar music was for me!
To me, this was the Stone Roses debut, at this point, I hadn't heard Fools Gold, I am the Ressurection, so all of a sudden this rebirth of Led Zeppelin was brand new.
Within weeks of hearing this I'd stolen enough money from various sources to purchase my first cd player and copies of Ten by Pearl Jam, The Yardbirds Greatest Hits and The Second Coming.
Then we moved back towards where we'd left and things took a more hallucinatory turn for a while prior to me boarding Definitely Maybe and Leisure, but even to this day, Fook Me It Rocks!!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

My Top 5 Lead Singers

The 90's were my generation, and Britpop was my genre, so a list like this will obviously be influenced by such a period and as the initial introduction to this blog referred, it's not trying to be cool, it's how I feel and in this case the way the singers vocal moves me.
Although I didn't mean to order them in any particular way, I've really dillema'd over who to put up first, maybe it's a compilation tape disorder? (see Hi-Fidelity.)
Don't expect any great decomposition of what these vocalists do especially, they're simply great to listen to, in my opinion.

1. Steve Marriot (Small Faces, Humble Pie)
I first got introduced to Marriot's voice via my fascination with the Beatles and the 60's and for a short while The Small Faces replaced the Liverpudlians as my default setting.

2.Kelly Jones (Stereophonics)
Quite simply, for me, the greatest rock voice for generations!

3.Liam Gallagher (Oasis, Beady Eye)
Towards the end of Oasis, I thought there could have been an end to Liam's great deliveries but with his new ensemble, some of the original fire seems to have returned.

4. Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters)
An even better singer who's been a drummer than Phil Collins, though probably, unbelievably, not as rich?

5. Noel Gallagher (Oasis)
Always thought of as underated, but any decent Oasis fan always respected where the initial emphasis for what at one time was the best band on the planet lay, wonderfully melodic at times.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Sleigh Bells - Treats

Imagine a fifty calibre machine gun, fired from the top of a United States Marine Humvee. In super high definition slow motion. That's how the opening track ('Tell 'em') of Sleigh Bells debut effort begins. An assualt on your ears that almost prevents you from thinking about anything other than the staccato melodies and bombastic bass beats. Sleigh Bells are a duo out of Brooklyn, New York. Derek Miller, a former member of Poison The Well, an experimental hardcore band, and Alexis Krauss, a former member of teen pop group Rubyblue. Two contrasting forces who when put in a recording studio together produce a sound that is totally fresh and utterly unique.
While they have existed for a couple of years as a music-making partnership their first, full album release came in May last year. You may be thinking I have simply dug out an old review and re-posted it but you'd be wrong. The reason I'm yakking on at you about an album almost a year old is that it seems to have slipped under most people's radars. Rather than being one of those individuals who prides themselves on exclusively listening to bands who no one else has ever heard of, I like as many people as possible to enjoy the music which gets my rocks off. So from here on in I’m hoping to convince you to part with your cash, be it digitally or actually in person (I KNOW, WTF, RIGHT?!) and check this behemoth of a record out.
Following the stutter riff off ‘Tell ‘em’ we are introduced to a song called ‘Kids’ which winds itself up like a heavyweight haymaker and has Krauss’ vocals reverberating around your ears before swinging you into a brick wall of brass stabs and whirling buzzsaw synths. All backed up by the trademark, big bass beat driving the record on. The lyrics here are supplemented by spoken pieces which rather than slowing things down add to the slightly sinister feel this album has. It’s much to do with the haunting lyrics, sung by a female lead in an imploring, teen girl voice supported by the angry, staccato beats and guitar sounds. The spoken word outro of ‘Kids’ (as much as you could call it an outro) blends into a song which does exactly as it says on the tin: Riot Rhythm. Speaker blowing kick drums compliment, yes, compliment, the sugar sweet vocals. The album continues to bounce, or rather blitzkrieg, it’s way through another three gems of sparky, fire-hot noise pop before you reach your first three minute plus song. ‘Rill Rill’ marks a change in pace for the first time on the album and it’s smooth, acoustic strumming hook swiped from Funkadelic’s ‘Can You Get To That’ and the bell sounds contrives to just charm your socks off.
This band don’t intend to let you drift off into this sun-bleached bliss for long though, they rip you two new earholes with an epic song named ‘Crown On The Ground’ which screeches through your brain with echoes of some lost Vietnam-era anthem before developing into a giant stadium stomper. This duo have no delusions of grandeur however as they drag their shit straight back to the gutter and yank you into a minute and a half of a street brawl between what sounds like several guitars drowned in distortion and a choir of angry teenagers screaming blue murder at each other.
The final track, coming on the back of a post-apocalyptic tribal rock band chant ‘A/B Machines’ manages to encompass everything that makes this album such a beautiful monster. A rip roaring riff, the most bombastic beats you could ever hope to hear and Krauss managing to sound like a gorgeous spectre guiding you through the chaos. As this album reaches it’s denouement with the crescendo of the title track, I’ll be damned if you don’t agree that you feel like you have been strapped to the back of Godzilla and menaced your way through multiple Japanese super cities while Kink Kong provided a soundtrack on a wailing guitar the size of the Empire State Building, leaving behind a trail of explosions, ruins, upturned vehicles and preachers calling for the end of days. This shit is real.



Thursday, 3 March 2011

Why I (Don't) Love Sonic Youth!!

As a general rule I like to maintain an open mind, try and be receptive to as much as possible, be it music, film, art, writing, sport and I do try and take more than a passing interest in all of these things which may explain why I'm an expert in none and am working a dull, 37.5 hour a week job at my local hospital as a clerk. However, what I struggle with is when something is recommended to me numerous times by different people. People whose opinion I respect, and when I get round to, in this case, listening to said recommendation I discover that it utterly bores the novelty socks off my feet (Note: I don't really wear novelty socks).
Sonic Youth. The band whose name conjures up an image of DIY guitar music, the slacker generation's champions, the standard bearers for not-giving-a-shit. They are a band who by many, are considered a central driving force behind the rise of alternative and independent music as we know it today. I'd heard eminent musicians and producers rave about the band's influence but what really pushed me to decide to part with some of my bread for one of their albums was two friends whose music taste mirrored mine with dazzling similarity. They both said that since I loved the early nineties noise rock sounds of Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh and Husker Du it would be well worth my time checking out the band that topped them all, Sonic Youth. Around this time I was also watching a lot of films written by people whose formative years had been spent listening to this kind of music. Movies like 'Juno' (lovely), Youth In Revolt' (not a spot on the stupendous book it was based on) and 'Observe and Report' (a top tenner). Besides the fact I felt like I was slowly being assimilated into some kind of Michael Cera cult I was noticing that these movies contained a lot of tracks by some of my favourite bands of this period. Sonic Youth were often on the soundtrack though I'd never really noticed their contributions. All of these factors encouraged me to mosey on down to my local HMV to physically purchase a copy of their most iconic album, so I was told, 'Goo'. The front cover sure looked iconic as I picked it up and, pointlessley, scanned the tracklisting ( I didn't know any of their songs but it's just something you have to do when you pick up a CD in the shop. It makes you look like you know what you are doing) and headed off to pay my moolah. As I approached the customer assistant and she took the CD case from me and scanned it, I felt like the coolest motherfucker in the entire queue. "Yeah, I'm just buying a Sonic Youth record, they're pretty much a pivotal band in the creation of alternative music as we know it."
I got home and slipped the CD into the stereo and lay back on my bed, shut my eyes and listened. I managed to get to 'Disappear', the seventh track of the eleven before I opened my eyes and pressed stop. So far I'd only enjoyed one track 'Mote', which I stopped properly listening to after the first four minutes. Maybe I wasn't in the right frame of mind to listen to them properly, or maybe it would be one of those bands that make music that people think they should like even if they don''t like because they are an important band and so they'll import their songs into iTunes, put them on their iPod just in case a fellow music fan will ever perouse their device. They'll see 'Sonic Youth' and assume that this cat knows his musical beans. I was thinking what's the point of me having this record on my MP3 player if I'm never going to listen to it. What's the point of me trying to pretend I like this band when the fact is their songs don't appeal to me in the slightest?
While writing this mess of a blog post I've been trying to work out exactly what it is I'm trying to say to you guys. And I guess, just like I've tried to work out why I don't like this band, I'm not really sure. Maybe it's that instead of trying to flag down as many bandwagons as you can and coralling them into your circle of musical preferences, why not keep an ear open for bands whose music makes you feel something. That indecipherable, unspeakable sense of emotion that only music can ilicit. Maybe it is that sometimes you'll come across music which you can see has so many other people enamoured but no matter how hard you try or however hard you can appreciate the musician's efforts, intelligence, concepts and musicmanship, sometimes you just have to accept music for what it is at it's most elemental. A group of vibrations created by a group of people which when processed by a bunch of neurons makes you feel something in your gut.