September 22, 2010

Mellowtone at the Shipping Forecast

Last night I headed down to the Shipping Forecast with Dan to attend the Mellowtone night, courtesy of the guys at the excellent Liverpool blog 7streets. I managed to win the free tickets from the competition in their recent interview with the Mellowtone nights' promoter.

The Shipping Forecast is fast becoming one of my favourite bars in Liverpool - a good range of beers, decent food and a relaxed, indie vibe. I'd been a few times before for drinks (and sometimes food) but yesterday was the first time I'd ventured downstairs to the gig venue.

It follows the great tradition of Liverpool music venues by being an old warehouse basement - brick walls with reasonably low (but not so low as to be a problem) vaulted ceilings. It's a fairly intimate venue, and they've done a good job (to my untrained ears) with the sound system - all the acts sounded great.

Neither of us had heard of any of the performers before but the quality bar was set surprisingly high. I'd quite happily go and listen to any of the bands again, and have been enjoying a re-creation of the night as I've dug out the myspace links for this blog post.

In order that they appeared, we had The Mountains and the Trees, then Karima Francis, followed by Ragz and finishing with The Wilderness of Manitoba. All worth a listen.

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May 30, 2010

Regeneration Soundtrack

Here are two songs that I'd been thinking of including in the previous blog post about regeneration here in Liverpool. In the end they didn't quite fit with what I wanted to say but I thought I'd still share them. Think of it as a kind of bonus track to the last blog post.

They're both examples of the North-Western folk music that I've known all my life, and are both written about the slum clearances of the 60s and 70s - telling through music what Who Cares communicates through film.

First off there's the Liverpool view, from Jackie and Bridie - Back Buchanan Street

mp3 link

And then the view from the other end of the East Lancs Road, the Houghton Weavers singing about the Manchester equivalent - Room Up in the Sky

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May 29, 2010

Sugar Hill Gang at The Masque

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May 17, 2010

Gil Scott-Heron at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

On the evening of Thursday 29th April I went along to the Philharmonic Hall with a couple of friends to see a rather rare occasion - a Gil Scott-Heron gig. I haven't had chance to write-up the event so far on my blog, but I don't want to leave the occasion unrecorded.

It was an amazing gig. One of the best gigs I've attended. I can't imagine how good he'd have been to see in his prime - the banter with the audience was superb, and the songs fantastic. The guy is, understandably, a legend.

And if you don't know who I'm talking about, have a listen to this (which was the probably the stand-out track of the evening) and go check out his back catalogue ("I Think I'll Call it Morning", "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" and "Lady Day and John Coltrane" are personal favourites)

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April 19, 2009

The Songbook Sessions at Zanzibar

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January 12, 2008

Marathonpacks - the End of Year 2007 Mixes

I have a constant appetite for new music, and therefore can never resist downloading big compilations and mixes whenever I come across them. I'm almost always disappointed by what I find, and the mp3s will get listened to once and then languish on my hard drive until my next purge to free up disk space.

The Marathonpacks 2007 Year-End Mixes buck the trend. And then some. There are four volumes in total, I and II are here and and III & IV here; each gives you over an hour of great music from 2007.

They've been on continuous play on my laptop since I first fired them up yesterday, and will be for a good while yet.

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December 17, 2007

Don't Buy This to Stop X-Factor Being Christmas #1, Buy It Because It's Good

lucky soul for christmas no 1

Being in Italy this year has meant that the humiliation-circus that is X-Factor has completely passed me by, and what a wonderful thing that is.

At least it had until I read Dave Gorman's impassioned plea for people to buy something decent instead. He's nominated Malcolm Middleton's We're All Going To Die, which is a bit depressing but quite catchy...

And one of the commenters on Dave's blog reminded me that have a Christmas number one campaign too. I hadn't checked it out when they emailed me about it, but I've just had a listen and it sounds great. Surely well worth the 40p(!) it costs to buy, and the profits are all going to charity too.

How many more "it's worth it just for that" boxes does it have to tick?


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June 13, 2007

Acoustic Cafe at The Bun Shop

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March 13, 2007

Cambridge Folk Festival Tickets

Last year, I only heard that the Folk Festival tickets were on sale after most of them had sold out.

Although we'll be in Italy when our neighbourhood is besieged by folkies (26th-29th July), I thought I'd share this bit of information which was posted to cam.misc today:

"There will be twice as many phone lines as last year. Personal sales will continue, but will be open to residents a day earlier than for outsider purchasers (Saturday May 5th and Sunday May 6th respectively)."

So it sounds like the organisers are trying to improve on last-year's ticket-buying problems, and the 5th and 6th of May are the important dates for anyone who wants to go.


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February 13, 2007

Which Decade Is Top For Pops?

Yes, it's that time of the year again - time for Mike at Troubled Diva to trawl through the Top 10 singles from the last forty-or-so years and subject them to the popular vote.

Each day from yesterday, for the next fortnight, he'll be counting down from 10 to the no. 1 spot. And each day there's an mp3 medley to help you decide how to cast your votes.

Start here and work forwards.

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October 02, 2006

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. @ The Soul Tree

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September 15, 2006

Flicking Through My Album Collection

Earlier in the week Apple launched iTunes 7, and most of the hype and discussion has been about being able to download movies and hook your computer up to your TV. That's not why I downloaded it the other day though.

Like Dan Hill, the thing that excited me about iTunes 7 was the new cover art browsing interface. You can flick through the albums in your collection, with the cover art flicking past much as it might if you were leafing through your stack of LPs. It's very cool when it works, and I've been happily rediscovering all sorts of albums by being drawn to the cover as it flicks past.

Sadly, as Dan notes in his cautious welcoming of iTunes 7 (which includes a few screenshots if you want a better idea of what I'm talking about), there's a big problem at present with it only choosing artwork from albums available on the iTunes Music Store. iTunes spent an age processing the 4000-odd albums in my collection to gather artwork, and has found (I think) 696 album covers. That's less than a fifth of my music collection, so at present it's not a very useful way to look through my music.

Still, it's a start. And I think it's the tipping point for me to start trying to get hold of the artwork for more of my collection.

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May 08, 2006

New Musical Experiment

Seeing as more and more bands have pages, I thought it might be interesting to use myspace to keep track of new bands as I discover them.

So, I've signed up for an account, and on it my aim is to link to new bands as "friends" and add an entry to my myspace blog whenever I add someone.

I think it'll give a slightly different angle to the music metadata that I expose about myself. My page will still be the most definitive record of what I've been listening to (and so any new find should feature pretty heavily around the time that I first find them), but my myspace account will be more of a hint at new people I think are worth a listen. And if you want to stay one step behind me on the band discovery trail (for of course I'm such a trailblazer... ;-) you can subscribe to the RSS feed for my myspace blog.

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May 03, 2006

A Violin Recital by Alexandra Wood

I do a poor-enough job when writing reviews of rock and pop gigs that I wonder whether I should bother trying to review events I attend of other musical genres in which I have virtually no knowledge, such as classical concerts.

However, as Rebecca has a better background from which to suggest things to attend, I'm now getting to the odd classical concert here and there, and I'd like to keep track of what I've seen and whether or not I liked it. If nothing else, it will hopefully provide some wider promotion of the events.

Phew, now that's out of the way, I can say that on Sunday we went to see a violin recital put on by the Selwyn College Music Society.

It was a fairly intimate affair, with around thirty of us gathered in the rather grand Selwyn College Hall to hear Alexandra Wood playing the violin, accompanied on the piano by Huw Watkins.

The evening's programme ran as follows:

  • Mozart - Sonata in D major K306
  • Watkins - Romance
  • Schumann - Sonata in A minor Op. 105
  • - Interval -
  • Fauré - Sonata in A major
  • Bartók - Romanian Folk Dances

The pieces after the interval were my favourites, although I did enjoy all of the sonatas. Huw Watkins' piece Romance wasn't particularly romantic, there was a tension and drama to the music which made it seem more adversarial.

Alexandra is a very good violinist. I was quite surprised at the range of sounds that she could produce from the instrument - during one of the folk dances I could have sworn that someone was playing a penny whistle and was amazed that it was coming from the violin.

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April 12, 2006

Masterful Mashups

Ben Hammersley recently introduced me to the delights of the Kleptones, purveyors of exceedingly fine mashups.

They've just released a new album, 24 Hours, which is available on their downloads page along with a host of other superb mashups. I haven't been too taken with Yoshimi Battles the Hip Hop Robots, but From Detroit to J.A. and A Night at the Hip-Hopera (lots of Queen goodness) have been getting repeated listening on iTunes of late (and hence why The Kleptones are number two on my chart at the minute).

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March 06, 2006

Bert and the Shirts @ CB2

I've owned my acoustic guitar for almost quarter of a century, but Saturday night was the first time it's been used for a performance. Probably because I hated the group rehearsals and so didn't do any of the orchestra stuff when I was at school. I wasn't performing on Saturday night either, Rebecca borrowed my guitar for her first gig in Cambridge.

She was supporting some friends-of-a-friend who had the basement in CB2 (the cafe bar, not the postal district) for the night. Her mix of a few of her own songs with some Katie Melua and Alanis Morrissette covers was well received, and her set ended with some of the other musicians for the night joining her for a KT Tunstall number.

That was followed by Joel (who'd arranged the gig) doing some solo stuff on his bass. I was sure I recognised the first song, and was racking my brains trying to remember what it was when Joel said they were all original compositions...

The evening finished off with the headline act (and the band Joel is part of), Bert and the Shirts. Obviously old-school, what with the website rather than a trendier one, but having it written across Bert's guitar is an excellent idea.

Now we just have to get Rebecca to do some more of these things!

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February 27, 2006

'Songwriter' @ The Loft

Had a relaxing and enjoyable evening last night at Cambridge's newest live music venue, the Loft. The room upstairs at The Graduate pub on Mitcham's (Staples) Corner is now hosting live music six nights a week (Thursday - Tuesday).

The 'Songwriter' night had four acts with an acoustic-y bent. We arrived a little late and so missed Ocean State, but the three acts we did catch were all excellent.

Dale Campbell had me transfixed with his intricate, and unorthodox, guitar work. His technique involves using both hands to both pluck strings and hold frets and sounds much more complex than you'd think possible from just one man and a guitar.

Ade Payne, who name-checked his fellow musicians (Bag and Clare, IIRC) a few times, forgot to introduce himself but didn't forget any of his songs, which is the important bit.

My favourite for the evening was Kevin Hunt, an Irish singer-songwriter who doesn't seem to have a website. So I can't point you at any of his songs, which is a shame.

Instead, I'll leave you with a link to Beck Goldsmith's page on If we weren't busy tomorrow night, Rebecca and I would definitely be down at the Loft to see her play!

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February 01, 2006

Katie Melua @ Cambridge Corn Exchange

Katie Melua played the Cambridge Corn Exchange on Sunday evening, and I went along to it with Rebecca and her sister.

We got there not much more than half-an-hour after the doors opened, but were already too late to catch the support act - Alex McEwan (do you realise how hard it is not to mis-spell his name? :-) which was a bit disappointing. I haven't heard any of his music, but with a surname like that he must be almost good...

The average age of the crowd was a fair bit higher than I'm used to at gigs, and while that shouldn't have surprised me, it did rouse the music snob in me. Something that wasn't helped by the big screen above the stage which was playing videos and adverts which left me wondering how much it was true to the music, and how much was marketing exercise aimed at broadsheet Sunday supplement readers.

I was a little perturbed by these shades of music snobbery; I stopped caring about what people think of my musical tastes back when I was at university (just ask my uni mates about the mix of The Carpenters and The Prodigy that could be heard coming from my room...), and most of the usual suspects are hiding somewhere in my music collection (Keane, Dido...).

I think it was mostly because I hadn't been really eager to attend the gig myself. I'd listened to her first album a few times when it came out and although it was nice enough, I don't think it was good enough to warrant buying it. Her second album, Piece by Piece, is much better and made up the majority of her set on Sunday.

There were a couple of tracks from the first album, and quite a few covers - The Beatles' Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, the Rolling Stones' 19th Nervous Breakdown and an excellent version of Babylon Zoo's only hit Spaceman!

By the time we got to the Babylon Zoo number, she'd won me round with her (and her backing band's) skill and ability, and obvious love of what she's doing.

Jean-Luc Benazet took some photos of the gig, and they're currently on the news page of his website, or if you can't be bothered trying to find them on the news page (no permalinks, grrr) you can see them direct here.

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December 15, 2005

Christmas Number One?

Presumably all you long-time readers of McFilter will have been suitably bragging about how you've known about Nizlopi for ages now, given that I've been following them ever since seeing them live at the Jesus College May Ball. And you must have seen and heard the JCB Song when the video did the rounds a while back.

Given the amount of press and media coverage (they were even on Top of The Pops on Sunday!) they've had of late, I'm sure everyone knows that JCB is finally available as a single, and they're being tipped for the Christmas number one; but just in case it had passed you by...

JCB, the excellent song by the superb Nizlopi is now available in the shops, so you should all rush out and buy a copy. If nothing else, surely it's your moral responsibility to help keep Westlife from getting another Christmas chart topper?

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December 12, 2005

Music Industry Embracing Podcasting?

Last week, the BBC published an article about a new licensing deal available for podcasts (for my non-techie readers, here's the Wikipedia entry explaining podcasts). I'm surprised it hasn't been more widely reported and commented upon, as it seems to be one of the few times that the "music industry" tries to embrace the Internet and new technologies.

The Association of Independent Music is a trade organization of independent UK music labels, and whose members represent artists such as Bloc Party, Stereophonics, The White Stripes, The Strokes, Basement Jaxx, Paul Weller and Arctic Monkeys. The licence, details of which can be found in the press release (pdf), will have a tiered approach based on the nature of the podcaster and looks like it will involve a fixed fee for non-commercial podcasters, with commercial podcasters having to also pay a percentage of revenues. The podcaster will have to provide statistics on the number of downloads, and also ensure there is a certain amount of talking or station ID at the start or end of each track.

The success of this initiative will depend on how much of their catalogue the labels make availalble to podcasters, and the cost of the licences. The BBC's high profile use of podcasting (and the fact that the podcasts currently available don't include any music) should help encourage the opening up of the catalogue, so lets hope that the costs aren't prohibitive for the "proper" individual podcasters.

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October 29, 2005

Mark Vidler Interview On 6 Music

A couple of weeks back, I linked to some cool mash-ups by Go Home Productions.

Mark Vidler, the man behind the GHP, was the guest on the Phill Jupitus breakfast show on BBC 6 Music yesterday morning, so until it gets overwritten with next Friday's show you can listen to the segment here from the clip I created with the Real Audio Clip Generator.

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October 25, 2005

Blogging And Music On BBC Radio 4

It's almost as if tonight's (well, last night's strictly...) Front Row show on BBC Radio 4 was aimed at McFilter.

Part of the show discusses how blogging is helping bands get noticed. The blogger on the show was Sean Michaels from Said the Gramophone, who I met about a year ago when he visited Cambridge, and the Arctic Monkeys are the band whose straight-to-number-one first single is being attributed to their use of the Internet, mp3s and blogs to promote themselves. Which is true, I downloaded over a dozen tracks of theirs months back when I first heard of them, and when I saw them play The Soul Tree the gig was packed and everyone knew all the words. It does help that they're really good, of course.

And finally, the fact that the BBC make the programme available for a week on their Listen Again service means I can use my Real Clip Generator to produce a link straight to the interesting bit.

So, until next Monday's programme overwrites this week's on the BBC website, click here to listen to just the segment about blogging and music.

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September 30, 2005

Cue Disappointment

Has anyone got iCueMix to work?

It's a new service for iTunes which claims to create mixes to suit your mood. Which sounds excellent - I've only been talking about creating something similar for the past five years, so I was keen to try it out.

Unfortunately, after a couple of days of fighting with it, I'm just frustrated and no nearer listening to any music chosen by it.

It completes the first part of importing my music, finding 9500 tracks in iTunes. Then it spends a couple of hours analyzing the tracks before either crashing or deciding that it's finished but hasn't found any tracks. And whilst the import is taking place, every six seconds or so it opens a new page in Firefox, so if you don't have the "Tabbed Browsing" setting set to "open links from other applications in" "the most recent tab/window" you'll soon be over-run with new tabs or windows. Have their developers never heard of the meta refresh tag?

Anyway, I'm about to email their support department, so hopefully I'll have it up and running sometime and then I'll let you know what I think of it.

Update: Still not solved the problem, but their support team have been very responsive and we're currently bouncing emails back and forth trying to solve the problem.

Update 2: It seems the problem is that all my music is sat on the file server, rather than on my local machine - iCueMix doesn't (at present) cope with network paths for the mp3 files and I don't really want to map a drive (and slow down bootup of my laptop even further...). Might try it out on one of my test machines instead.

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September 23, 2005

The Junction Fiver

Went to the Junction last night for a "European special" indie night costing, surprise, surprise, a fiver to get in. It was the first time I've been to the Junction since its recent makeover; it doesn't seem to have changed all that much, but does feel much more like a proper music venue and less like a warehouse.

The first act we saw was Niccokick from Sweden. The drummer had a mop of dark hair like a brillo pad, and was very enthusiastic and animated. As were the whole band really. The keyboard was a welcome addition to the standard guitars, and the keyboard player's quirky style was the highlight of their stage presence - I loved his stance hunched over his tiny keyboard and his hyperactive strutting around with a tambourine.

Alizarin were on second. The sparser, more melancholic stuff they played seemed to suit them better than their rockier numbers, and was also the only time the keyboard player fitted in with the band. On the faster numbers she often had nothing to play and so seemed a bit lost and out-of-place sat there motionless at the keyboard. If she'd been stood up then maybe she'd have had to move around a bit more and looked more part of the band, or maybe they could've given her some backing vocals, or a bit of a raunchier, rock-chick image. As it was, at times she looked a bit "classical recital" to the rest of the band's "indie rock".

Third act Skip the Rush were good and, like Alizarin, are from Amsterdam. The vocalist looked like Paul O'Grady's kid brother, and kept getting tangled amongst the cables and mic stands. He started off wearing a jacket which gave him a bit of a Jarvis Cocker-esque demeanor, which fitted well with his stage antics and posturing; something the rock t-shirt underneath failed to do when he took the jacket off.

They're in Cambridge for another couple of days, and there are rumours of some open air jamming on Jesus Green today from noon, if they can find a few acoustic guitars.

The headline act was the Broken Family Band, and you could tell from the audience reaction that they are popular round here - local boys done pretty-well-so-far, everyone was a bit nearer the stage, and there was more banter from the crowd. Despite almost seeing them on many occasions, this was actually the first time I'd caught them live. They were good, their alt-country sound a bit different from the norm, but they seem to carry it off, and provided an enjoyable climax to the evening's proceedings.

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September 12, 2005

The Arctic Monkeys At The Soul Tree, 25th August 2005

I've been chipping away at this in my drafts folder since the day after the gig because it was a superb night, and the Arctic Monkeys are fantastic but not that well known, so I wanted to pull together a good write-up. Getting on for three weeks later, it's pretty obvious that the "good write-up" isn't going to happen, so rather than have it forever consigned to the drafts folder, I've tidyied it up a little and provided a few mp3s to give a feel for how good they are. There's no album on sale yet, but once there is I'd recommend buying it - I will be - and if they're playing a town near you, then go see them!

There were two local acts in support:

Jaime Randall first. Not bad, just him on his acoustic guitar (until one of the strings snapped).

Then The Furious Sleep. Very loud. Not very well mixed - couldn't really hear the singer, and only heard the keyboard during his 10 second solo in the last song. I only know the band's name because we stopped the bass player later on and asked him - prompting a little mime of furious and sleep.

The Arctic Monkeys came on after a dance version of Bigger Boys and Stolen Sweethearts - they sounded great as they had their own sound man, in fact there was some theatre as they strode onto the stage, each high-fiving the sound man as they passed him. Started with Fake Tales of San Francisco (which was the first of their tracks I ever heard - played quite a bit on 6 Music), and played Mardy Bum, Scummy Man, Dancing Shoes, Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor and some others I can't remember now. We had much fun from the balcony watching three bouncers attempting to control a crowd which was going nuts - like King Canute trying to hold back the tide.

After the gig, the Soul Tree reverted back to its alter-ego of nightclub, and there was an indie disco for the rest of the night. It emptied out quite a lot once the band was finished, however, so when it looked likely that the extremely drunk bloke having trouble sitting upright next to us might throw up we decided to leave.

Update: I've removed the mp3s now, sorry, you'll just have to wait for the album to come out (or get searching on the p2p networks...).

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August 17, 2005

The Fray Finally Get Online

After what seems like far too long, up-and-coming indie band The Fray have their own website!!!

Plus they've just finished recording a new twelve-track EP and there are five tracks available on the website for you to listen to (in Realplayer format rather than mp3s for some unknown reason - missed opportunity there I reckon!)

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June 02, 2005


A while ago, after listening to the Wired Rip. Sample. Mash. Share. CD I downloaded a load of My Morning Jacket tracks from Soulseek because I'd quite liked the track One Big Holiday and wondered if I'd like any of their other stuff.

I liked their stuff enough that Mahgeetah was listed in the top 5 songs I don't yet own (as an aside, I've since bought Cake's Fashion Nugget and Maxi Geil & Playcolt's A Message To My Audience which ticks off another two of the tracks).

So I was quite pleased to see My Morning Jacket's It Still Moves album on sale for a fiver today in Fopp. And even happier to see that track 1 is Mahgeetah. So I now own a copy. Only I can't listen to it. At least not on my computer. I hadn't noticed when I bought it, but it's copy protected.

So they're trying to prevent the very thing which caused me to buy a copy of their album, and have just caused me additional hassle before I can listen to it as I'll have to download the whole album again from Soulseek so I can add it to my collection... *DOH*!

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March 09, 2005

MEME AID: The Bloggers' Disco

Fresh from this year's "Which Decade Is Top For Pops" campaign, Mike over at Troubled Diva has decided to host a virtual disco in aid of Comic Relief. For each track added to the playlist, he'll donate a pound for Red Nose Day.

Music related... For charity... How could I refuse? After some deliberation, and some listening to potential tracks this morning, I'm going to add Ask Me (Re-worked by Danny Krivit) by Ecstacy, Passion & Pain.

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February 28, 2005

Not A-Fray-d Of The Competition

The Fray - band without a recording contract, band without a website (still! it's getting to be "no joke"...), band I tipped you off to a while back, have just won the TFM (Teeside radio station) unsigned band competition. Maybe with their prize of professional recording they'll get round to putting up some sort of online presence...

The Fray win TFM Unsigned

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February 11, 2005

This Week I Have Been Mostly Listening To

Just recently, I've started using iTunes to listen to music, mainly so that I can try out audioscrobbler. iTunes seems okay as a music player, although it chews up a lot of processor when it's running.

Audioscrobbler keeps track of what you've been listening to, in order to match you to people with similar tastes and generate recommendations of other music you might like. It also builds a personalised "radio station" for each user, so you can browse round and listen to new music.

I'm not sure I'm going to use the personalised radio station stuff, but if nothing else my weekly listening charts are of interest. So if you go to my user page you can see what I've been listening to.

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January 16, 2005

Musical Meme

(via Uborka)

1. What is the total amount of music files on your computer?

39 GB - ~10,500 tracks as 128kbps MP3s.

2. The cd you last bought is:

Take your pick from these ones acquired as a job lot for 24 in a Fopp attack

  • We Got The Funk - Various Artists. Three CDs of funky disco
  • Lo Fidelity Allstars present Abstract Funk Theory - Various Artists. A little more up-to-date compilation than We Got The Funk
  • A Break From The Norm - Various Artists. Original tracks that were sampled by Fatboy Slim.
  • Greatest Hits - Wings. Surprisingly decent.
  • More Than This: The Best Of - Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music. Filling a hole that's been in my music collection for too long.
  • Version Excursion - Various Artists. Funky and unexpected cover versions
  • Beneath The Surface, Vol. 1 - Various Artists. A Bella Union sampler CD, bought mainly for the track by The Dears, but some of the other tracks are pretty good too.

3. What is the song you last listened to before reading this message?

"Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime" by Beck. A fantastic cover version, one of many excellent tracks on the recently delivered triple-CD mix from Mike.

4. Write down 5 songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you:

I tried narrowing this down to 31 songs a while back and that was hard enough! So instead, I'll offer the top five songs I don't yet own a copy of:

  • I Will Survive - Cake
  • Mahgeetah - My Morning Jacket
  • We Can Have It - The Dears
  • Teenage Kicks - The Undertones
  • A Message To My Audience - Maxi Geil! & Playcolt

5. Who are you going to pass this stick to? (3 persons) and why?

Jon, 'cause he's a meme-whore; Andy, if he reads about it; and <this space available for hire>

Posted by Adrian at 07:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 04, 2005

Get Ahead Of The Crowd

Okay, I should be doing my tax return, but I'll need some tunes to listen to whilst getting the company accounts in order won't I?

And what better way to build up my playlist for the next week or so than to spend an hour or so reading Troubled Diva's Singles of the year list and searching on Soulseek? Lots of new artists to investigate, and reminders of music I've flirted with getting over the past year.

Last year's big discovery were the Scissor Sisters, back before the album was out and all that was available was their demo CD. I'm still disappointed that Electrobix and Backwoods Part II didn't make the album.

And then to further delay me, more music list goodness courtesy of the Troubled Diva linkrack.

So that's some Annie, The Walkmen, Kaiser Chiefs, The Concretes, The Knife, Alcazar and the Real Tuesday Weld queued up, along with the odd other track and the My Morning Jacket and The Dears stuff left over from what I was listening to just before Christmas. I must start making a note of the stuff I like somewhere so I can remember to buy it.

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August 26, 2004


In just under a fortnight, my friend Emily will take over the Kambar in Cambridge to put on Hullabaloo; a riot of soul, funk, pop and rock probably not dissimilar to Fat Poppadaddy's at the Po Na Na, but knowing Emily, there'll be some curve balls thrown in for good measure.

Hullabaloo - soul, funk, pop, rock.  Kambar, Wheeler St., Wed 8th Sep 9:30 til late.  3 b4 11pm/5 after

Should be a blast!

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August 25, 2004

Getting Bigger All The Time

Late last night, as I was pottering around before bed, I noticed a song had wormed into my head and was being replayed by the jukebox in my mind. Nothing unusual about that; it's pretty common if there's no external music source.

However, I was pleased to realise that it was "No Joke" by The Fray. The lead guitarist in Fray, Matt, is brother of my mate and frequent commenter, Andrew, so I've been following The Fray's progress with some interest.

The Fray are starting to build a bit of a following up in Darlington, and a couple of days back Andrew slipped me some mp3s from an EP (reviewed here) they're putting together, including "No Joke".

I'm bound to be a little biased, but I think my sub-conscious is less prone to such flaws; and that bodes well for the band. "No Joke" is the strongest track on the EP and was chosen for the Revolution Big Chance competition unsigned band showcase. If you want a listen, head to the Big Chance page and download the mp3, and while you're there vote for The Fray and improve their chance of winning some studio time!

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August 17, 2004

Local Radio For Local People

209radio are aiming to become "a full-scale Community Radio Station for Cambridge". They've already got a web radio stream, and seem quite involved in the local music scene.

I wonder if they'll resurrect the "live karaoke" from Cambridge's last community broadcasting - Red TV? Let's hope not.

Anyway, if you've ever wanted to feel like a celebrity, now's your chance. 209radio are having a benefit gig next Friday (27th August 2004), and the only way to get in is if you email them beforehand so your name gets on the list. Okay, so you still have to pay your 7 to get in, but if you take along some friends you don't like much, you can look important as they get turned away.

I expect I'll be there.

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August 03, 2004

The 40th Cambridge Folk Festival

As I mentioned on Friday, this weekend was the Folk Festival. For the first time since moving to Cambridge, I was actually organized enough to get some tickets. Usually I find out when the tickets go on sale, think about buying some, but leave it until they've sold out; even this year when I bought my tickets in late May, there weren't any tickets left for the Saturday.

I didn't bother with the Thursday evening (Residents' Night, for those of us in the city), so Friday was my first day at the festival. With attending the wedding, I missed the afternoon's performances so once again I haven't seen The Broken Family Band and Loudon Wainwright III had already played when I caught up with Jo and Carl camped out in front of the main stage. Kepa Junkera was in the second half of his set when I arrived, and when that was over only the headline remained. The Divine Comedy didn't seem very folk to me, but everyone seemed to enjoy them, from the embarrassing Dad dancing in his own unique manner in his beret, to the young couple tangoing to their heart's content under the night sky.

Luckily, the Saturday line-up was the least appealing to me. My lack of ticket gave me the opportunity to go mountain-biking with Dan and Ian. The twenty miles round the King's Forest just outside Bury St. Edmunds was the first off-roading I've done all year; great fun if a little too sandy in places! I was back home by mid-afternoon and spent the rest of the day just chilling out. Because I live so close to Cherry Hinton Hall (where the Folk Festival is held), I don't actually need a ticket to enjoy the festival, I can just open my windows. So I got to hear bits of the Levellers set during the afternoon and Jimmy Cliff was live in my bedroom when I'd turned in for the night.

Sunday was another glorious day; the last day of the festival. In the afternoon, I decided to check out the second stage: Peter Buckley Hill's comic songs were rather amusing, including (IIRC) his fusion of My Old Man's A Dustman with Stairway To Heaven; Jarlath Henderson was quite listenable to, although not really my cup of tea; and on Jo's recommendation, Jim Moray - who I can best describe as an indie band doing folk music. I particularly enjoyed the Jim Moray 4's version of Poverty Knock, although some of that will be down to knowing how different it sounds when done by the Houghton Weavers.

After popping home to drop off my rucksack and picnic rug, it was back to the main stage for the evening. Ralph McTell was excellent; I hadn't heard much of his work before, but really enjoyed the songs (Peppers And Tomatoes and From Clare To Here are the only two titles I can remember) and the banter with the crowd.

Beth Orton is another person who has a great rapport with her audience. I first saw her a couple of years back at The Junction, where she didn't want to finish, and was the same this time: haggling with the organisers for more time, and even after that trying to squeeze in another song. By now I was right in the midst of the crowd, and loving every minute.

Things quietened down after Beth, although the organisers had arranged a couple of surprises to celebrate the festival's 40th birthday - the Dixie Hummingbirds did a song on the main stage (before they finished proceedings on the second stage) and Eliza Carthy made a guest appearance to perform one of her songs. All that was left was for the Michael McGoldrick Band to finish up the festival with their brilliantly played "ceilidh music" (a perfect description coined by Jo on Friday).

As BBC Radio 2 were the festival sponsors, there was coverage of the weekend on Radio 2, and there'll be a couple of shows on BBC 4 (shame I don't have digital TV) on 20th August. And "because of the unique way in which the BBC is funded", you can actually listen to the Radio 2 coverage and watch most of the main acts on the Internet! How cool is that? Although for some reason they've changed the running order of some of the playlists, at least on Ralph McTell's set. The links are all on the Radio 2 festival page.

So I can put together my own virtual festival line-up, and because I've been learning SMIL (like HTML for multimedia) recently, this link should give you the whole line-up in one long orgy of music.

00:00 - Loudon Wainwright III
00:30 - The Divine Comedy (watch out for the Queens Of The Stone Age cover)
01:35 - Jim Moray
02:05 - Beth Orton
And getting the headline over Beth because the last song is the perfect end to the festival...
02:38 - Ralph McTell

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July 23, 2004

Forget Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Welcome Common People

After a gap longer than that between Stone Roses albums, William Shatner is back with more of his spoken-word/music fusion, and I wonder if it's all as compelling as this cover of Pulp's Common People posted up by Teaching The Indie Kids To Dance Again.

(Via Said The Gramophone)

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July 18, 2004

More Music Blogs

Of course, in my grand blogroll update I managed to forget some of the MP3 blogs I've started reading recently. So, better late than never, the following are added to the blogroll:

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July 15, 2004

A New Dimension To "All Back To Mine"

How cool would it be to turn your own house or garden into a concert venue?

If my place weren't such a tip at the minute, I'd think about having one in the back garden!

I wonder if you could do some sort of community streaming of it with BitTorrent to provide sufficient capacity for the initial stream to just be from a home with standard broadband...

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June 29, 2004

Nizlopi At The Jesus College May Ball

The highlight of a fantastic night at the Jesus College May Ball on Monday was catching the Nizlopi set.

Pic of Nizlopi on stage It is hard to describe or categorize the music style of this duo, and their own "folk hip-hop" only goes part-way to capturing their sound. But there aren't many singer/guitarist and double-bassist/human-beatbox bands around. Their music has shades of Beth Orton, with a hint of James and maybe touches of The Beautiful South, and the songs explore themes ranging from the fears and excitement of a new romance to being five in your dad's JCB.

To witness the full splendour of Nizlopi though, you must see them live. They bring a wonderful, infectious joy and love of music to their performances. At the ball they played the cabaret tent, which had to compete with the dance music from the nearby DJ tent. The comedian on before them had died a death and finished his set in front of an apathetic audience twenty minutes early. Luke and John soon turned that around, micing up from the start to counter the background noise, and encouraging audience participation.

Audience participation seems to be a requirement at Nizlopi gigs, born of their belief that involvement is the key to enjoying music. By the third song, Luke was conducting the audience in three-part harmonies to accompany his singing, and soon after the rows of regimented seating were disrupted as we were urged to "get a bit closer", and duly complied.

Then came the aforementioned song JCB; one that they decreed must be done acoustically. To counter the noise from the dance tent, they just abandoned the stage and climbed upon a couple of chairs appropriated in the midst of the audience.

As they returned to the stage, Luke pointed out that this was dance music after all, and we shouldn't be seated. The chairs were hurriedly cast aside as we thronged together in front of the stage to dance around for the remainder of the set.

One of the best gigs I've ever been to. When are they next back in Cambridge?

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May 25, 2004

MP3s Of Illegal Tracks

Rather than the usual dubious infringement of copyright by distributing the MP3, these are MP3s of tracks that themselves have infringed copyright, usually by sampling somebody who objects to being sampled.

Here's a Webjay playlist for all the tracks on the page for anyone who wants a listen.

Check out the video page too, for gems like Dubya as the sun in the Tellytubbies.

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May 12, 2004

Supergrass At The Cambridge Corn Exchange

Supergrass is 10. So says the badge I was given as we entered the Corn Exchange on Monday night. Those three words have done a better job of making me feel old than my impending thirty-ness.

We were there early, in plenty of time to catch the support act. The 22-20s, who sound like Motorhead fronted by Crispin Mills with a hint of Metallica and The Animals. Their distorted, heavy rock lent itself well to their infectious, energetic up-tempo numbers but was a little uneasy and monotonous with the slow ones; which unfortunately includes the upcoming single, 'Shoot your gun'.

Supergrass took to the stage at 9:15: superb from the get-go, the first organ notes from In It For The Money being delightfully drawn out for the band's entrance. Then followed an hour and a half of hit after hit, drawn from all their albums, broken masterfully in the middle with an acoustic section played from the relaxed setting of a brown leather sofa. I'd forgotten how many great songs they've got, no prizes for working out what's been on the MP3 player since...

Update: There are a few pictures of the gig available at Jean-Luc Benazet's website, currently on the News page: 13 May 2004.

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April 26, 2004

London Booted

This afternoon I've been listening to London Booted - A tribute to the Clash. It's a "charity-ware" downloadable album of Clash mash-ups - Corona's The Rhythm Of The Night over Bankrobber is just one of the many surprising blends.

And I've created a WebJay playlist if you just want to listen to the album.

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February 29, 2004

10 Songs I Didn't Choose

Following Steven's Notebook, this is much more fun than a chain letter...

Step 1: Open your mp3 player. (Musicmatch was easier than my empeg player to retrieve a list)
Step 2: Put all of your music on random.
Step 3: List the first ten songs it plays, no matter how embarrassing.

Not only 10 songs I didn't choose; 10 songs I wouldn't choose. Not because they're all songs I don't like, that would be a pretty unfortunate snippet of my music collection. Just not songs that I'd have thought "ooh, yes, let's include that" . Just for fun, I'll find each of them on my Empeg and that'll tell me how many times it's played them, how many times I've skipped the track, and when it was last played.

  1. Who Got The Camera - Ice Cube (played: 3, skipped: 0, last played: 7/7/2002)
  2. Dream On Dreamer - Brand New Heavies (played: 3, skipped: 0, last played: 1/6/2002)
  3. Sweet Love - Mongo Santamaria (played: 0, skipped: 0, last played: Never)
  4. In The Midnight Hour - The Commitments (played: 2, skipped: 0, last played: 2/7/2002)
  5. Accelerator - Quest (played: 1, skipped: 0, last played: 14/6/2002)
  6. Nails In My Feet - Crowded House (played: 1, skipped: 0, last played: 15/2/1970... presumably there was something wrong with the clock when that got played, or did I miss the time-machine option?)
  7. Is It Wicked Not To Care? - Belle & Sebastian (played: 1, skipped: 0, last played: 16/2/1970...)
  8. Original (Live Dub) - Leftfield (played: 1, skipped: 0, last played: 17/6/2002)
  9. Let Me Show You ('99 Remix) - K Klass (played: 4, skipped: 0, last played: 14/7/2002)
  10. Hellbound - The Breeders (played: 0, skipped: 0, last played: Never)
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September 29, 2003

Long time no gigs

Last night, Andy and I went to see the Elbow gig at the Junction. It was a sell-out, something we didn't discover until we rocked up at 6pm to get some tickets. Luckily we got chatting to a lass in the queue and she had two spare tickets - thanks Vicky!

Tickets sorted, we popped into town to get some food, which meant that we missed the first support act, and arrived in the middle of the second support act, Longview's set.

I should pay more attention to who the support acts are - if I'd known Longview were playing I'd have survived on something from the "cafe" in the Junction. They were excellent, and their music was what I enjoyed most during the evening - I think that's the final little nudge I needed to get their album (despite now having a copy of "When You Sleep" from the FREE album sampler they gave out - nice touch).

Elbow played a superb set too, the live feel enhanced by singer Guy Garvey's witty bantering with the crowd. I was a bit disappointed that, after making a few references to the late Robert Palmer, they didn't cover "Addicted To Love" ;-) Their music is a little too chilled for my tastes, they need a singalong number with a good hook to propel me from nice-to-have-the-odd-track-picked-up-from-compilations to buying the album.

Still a great night out, and a reminder that I need to do this more often.

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Unpopular, or just over-hyped?

Pitchfork: Castoffs and Cutouts: The Top 50 Most Common Used CDs

I thought I was going to get away without owning any of the most-discarded-albums, but then I got to the top ten, and found Belly: Star, Radiohead: Pablo Honey, Breeders: Last Splash, and Lemonheads: Come on Feel the Lemonheads. Don't people know that it's sacrilige to get rid of any music!

At least Arrested Development: 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of... is at no. 11. Maybe I can explain this to the DJ at Fat Poppadaddies to get him to stop playing Mr. Wendel...

(Via Sleeve Notes)

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July 12, 2003

Fopp Attack

Fopp Attack
To leave Fopp with much less money than you had when you went in. Coined by Jo McGowan.

I suffered another Fopp attack yesterday. I'd got out of work early, and happened to end up in the Fopp end of town... So now I'm 27 poorer, but 9 albums or 207 tracks richer :-) I don't know what all the fuss is with iTunes, I guess $0.99/track isn't a bad price, but I managed less than a tenth of that - 0.13/track!

Now I'm not sure about the Best of Al Stewart, I quite like "Year of the Cat", which is why I bought it, but after listening to some of it, I think it's more of a seventeen track single. The Everly Brothers All-time Original Hits has all the songs I remember my parents playing whilst I was growing up (they're both Everly fans) plus "Ebony Eyes", so Mum, I guess I'll now understand the Elderly Brothers version "Holland's Meat Pies" that you've got.

Things get a bit funkier with a George Clinton (no relative of Bill AIUI ;-) compilation, which includes the funk version of "Sunshine Of Your Love" that was played last time we went to Fat Poppadaddy's (there, I've spelt it right this time Jo), and two Dope On Plastic albums (vols. 5 and 6) which, from what I've heard so far, are superb. Excellent recommendation Jo, seeing as I hadn't heard any of them before.

And rounding things off are a few more compilations - some more Madchester stuff and some chillout and indie stuff. All worth a punt at three quid a pop.

That's the weekend's tunes sorted.

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May 03, 2003

Fopp is evil! :-)

Be warned, there is a new music shop on the block (well, new to me at least) and it should be considered extremely dangerous!

If you spot one on your high street, try to pretend you haven't seen it! Avoid entering AT ALL COSTS. If you must go in, and you should really try not to, then find the CD you want, avoid looking at anything else, pay for it and leave.

There. Don't say I didn't warn you. Fopp (for that is the name of this demon) is particularly deadly when combined with an online MP3 swapping service. You find more music that you like, and then Fopp provides legitimate copies of it all at bargain prices.

But that's not all! Oh no, not content with providing you with what you know you want, they then go and scatter the shop with all sorts of other tempting, interesting and curious things too. Most of the back catalogue stuff I've been getting recently has only been 5/CD, which is cool, and they're realised that 3/CD is an even better pricepoint for all sorts of other stuff - I mean 3 for an album! That's just crazy - I only have to find one track I like and then I can reason "hey, only 3, you could pay that for a CD single, and you'd only get one track, and the rest of the album might be good too". It's impossible to go in there without coming out with something you didn't go in for!

It happened again today. I left the shop 40 poorer, but I was clutching a bag containing two books, a DVD (Taxi 2), three single albums, and three double albums. It's all Jo's fault, if she hadn't suggested we go to Fat Poppadaddies at the Po Na Na on Thursday, then I wouldn't have gone in looking for some more funk for my CD collection...

At least I've got a heap of new stuff to listen to whilst I'm working over the weekend:
Various Artists - Blax Is Back. 2 CDs of 70s funky stuff for 5
Various Artists - DJ Pogo presents The Breaks. The original stuff loads of hip hop (and everything else since) has sampled, so now I have a legit copy of the Incredible Bongo Band's "Apache", and James Brown's "The Funky Drummer"
Come On Feel The Lemonheads. Doesn't have "It's a shame about Ray", or "I lied about being the outdoor type" on it (which may prompt further Lemonheads purchases in future) but does have most of the other stuff I've liked that I'd downloaded. Most expensive purchase of the day at 10 though.
Various Artists - White Teeth the Soundtrack. Couldn't get anywhere with the book, so didn't watch the TV series, but it has a use because the soundtrack was only 3, and has "The tunnel of love" by the Fun Boy Three amongst other stuff and that's been a popular MP3 of late. Result.
And then two wildcard entries, mainly 'cause they were only 3 each, and both double albums - The Best of the Fania All Stars adds some salsa to my collection (so I can practice getting the dancesteps wrong at home), and MuchoMamboMongo just has my favourite album name ever, and I'm looking forward to hearing the mambo versions of Day Tripper and Smooth Operator!

Fopp - naughty but nice.

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