Category Archives: Music

Hit The Deck 2014

Woohoo! Hit The Deck was, once again, lovely fun! I went with my mate Emma:

We caught mostly the same bands but split up for a few – the worst thing about HTD is that there are always gig clashes! BOO!

The first band I saw was Hands Like Houses. Very poppy and confident, the Aussies played a great little set.

Next up were The Charm The Fury who turned out to be my second-favourite band of the whole day. From the first note to the end, they played with passion and energy, owning the room and getting the crowd properly moshing. But more than that, I’d never heard their stuff before and I loved the songs, they’re just so chock-full of killer riffs.

I missed most of Vukovi‘s set due to clashes but caught the end which was soooo much fun! They had a fucking whale of a time and so we did too. Wish I’d got to see a bit more!

Bastions were ferocious and intimate, a weird mixture but they carried it off. There’s something about their music, it’s obviously still rock but there’s something that’s very intensely quiet in the heart of all the glorious noise.

Dead Harts looked pure metal but sounded pure hardcore, slamming away through a set that seemed woefully short. I could have done with at least another two or three songs. They have a glowering presence that crackles and is as seductive as it is unhinged.

Next up were The Front Bottoms who I was so chuffed to be seeing after their album made it into my top albums of 2013. Live, TFB are confessional and transgressional: I love songwriting in which the protagonist is not a hero but an honest, fallible dickhead like, y’know, real human beings are. They got a huge reaction from the crowd and all around me kids were singing their fucking hearts out, completely lost in the lyrics. As they should be!

Now, that isn’t the last band of the day but I’ll save that for the next post… :-D

Separated At Birth?

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, may I present ‘Nichts Geht Verloren’ from the awesome 2006 album ‘Die Tiere Sind Unruhig’ by Kante:

And now, ladies and gentleman, may I present ‘Skin & Leather’ from the equally awesome 2014 album ‘Age’ by The Hidden Cameras:

Sooo… Joel moves to Berlin and then ends up releasing this?

COINCIDENCE? I THINK NOT!

Now, I need to see a joint Kante / Hidden Cameras show where they perform a twenty minute version of this with all the strings and crazy percussion and some lions and shit.

The Hidden Cameras

If you haven’t bought The Hidden Cameras‘ new album ‘Age’ yet, you’re missing out on some sublime indiepop. Joel remains one of my favourite songwriters, eleven years after I first fell in love with ‘Music Is My Boyfriend.’

Check out the vid for ‘Gay Goth Scene.’

‘Your Woman’ On Popular / Freaky Trigger

Egosurfing around Tumblr, I found this in-depth discussion of ‘Your Woman.’

I see quite a bit written about me and that tune so it was lovely to read so many comments that were on the ball and cogent. Even the ones that are a bit factually wrong are internally consistent, a rare thing compared to the average YouTube burbling.

Have a look if you’re fascinated by the minutiae of ’90s music and net culture.

Ah, USENET, I miss you…

Melissa Joan Hart

So, I switched on Channel 5 and the 1996 ‘Sabrina The Teenage Witch’ film is on. Ahhh, memories! I totally forgot Ryan Reynolds played the teenage dirtbag in it. :-)

Seeing a twenty-year-old Melissa Joan Hart again reminded me of why I wrote this:

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/3934090" params="" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

MJH is 37 now. I wonder if she’s ever heard my song! :-P

Indietracks 2013

27/07/2013 18:10

Last weekend was INDIETRACKS 2013! I wasn’t playing this year so I could chill and just enjoy myself. This year was also even more fun because my beautiful friend Kaypea came to stay for the festival. This is her being all gorgeous:

28/07/2013 16:27

The best thing about Indietracks is discovering new music. That being said, there are always famous (well, indiepop famous) acts playing. Bis, The Pastels, The Wake, Camera Obscura and The Brilliant Corners all played.

The Brilliant Corners - 2

I haven’t seen The Brilliant Corners in… umm? Twenty-four years? It’s always problematic seeing a band decades after you first loved them but TBC didn’t disappoint. Their set was just packed with the poppiest of popness. They always had amazing choruses and ‘Why Do You,’ ‘Teenage,’ ‘Brian Rix,’ sounded just as good now as in my hazy Trent Poly memories.

The Pastels - 6

The Pastels also played a glowing, effortless set. There’s something strange about The Pastels – whenever I see them play, they have this poise and connection with each other and with the audience that’s quite spooky. It’s also weird how they can integrate decades of music into one set and not have it sound forced or jarring; a testament to their prowess. They’re as much a Zen garden as they are a popular beat combo. They were playing the outdoor stage and I got soaked during their set but I didn’t care. Totally worth it.

The Wake - 3

And The Wake! Also veterans but you wouldn’t know it from their set. I’ve seen too many bands going through the motions on stage, too obviously on autopilot and probably unsure as to where they actually are let alone why they’re playing. The Wake were the opposite of that. They played the old favourites but it’s like they were playing new songs. James, standing next to me, hadn’t seen them before and didn’t know much of their music but he was converted. Now, *that’s* the power of a real performance!

Pale Spectres - 4

But there were loads of new acts that I’d never seen before and who I can now welcome into my extensive music library. One of them, Pale Spectres (named after a Wake song, fact fans) only formed in January of this year, after the drummer and singer met at this gig in Paris. Not bad going, playing Indietracks six months after you form!

Martha - 09

My fave band of this year was Martha, who I’ve never seen before. They came on and swept us all away, spunky punk pop with more of a lineage to Buzzcocks than Blink. Stupidly energetic, their set ended up in a stage invasion of laughing, jumping kids ~ the way every set by every gig ever should finish. Okay, maybe not goth gigs. And their drummer engaged in the first Indietracks crowdsurfing I’ve ever seen:

Martha - 16

So, another year, another Indietracks done. We came, we saw, we got soaked in the pissing rain, we danced to French synthpop at the disco.

Can’t wait for 2014! :-D

(Click here for a gallery of indiepics!)

Traktor On The iPhone ~ Gotta Have Noisia!

As part of Apple’s celebrations of a millennium as a successful hegemonising swarm, they’ve been giving away apps free. One of these is Native Instruments’ Traktor iOS app. Traktor on the Mac and PC is a fully-fledged, pro-DJ app. I don’t use it when I’m DJing for reasons which I explain at length here.

But, whatevs, it’s pretty nifty if you like that kind of thing. I was never into it as the UI always seemed clunky and got in the way of the music. But Traktor on my iPhone is the opposite. Just being able to touch the waveforms and scroll backwards and forwards, no mousey-mousey, takes me back to my vinyl DJing years.

Within ten minutes of installing it, I’d knocked out this little mashup:

Bear in mind, what you’re hearing is just two tracks mixed on an iPhone. Traktor handles the sync and it does it faultlessly, as you can hear. I’m doing nothing apart from starting in the right place and the occasional bit of crossfader stupidness.

For me, this experience has been revelatory. I’ve got the demo of Traktor on my Mac: never made a thing with it. Five minutes with the iPhone app and, BOOM, mashup done.

Of course, it isn’t flash and my mashup is hardly genre-breaking but it’s quick and easy and, unlike the desktop Traktor, FUN! This is patently the element of the touch screen interface. Even with controllers for Traktor, it’s not as satisfying as grabbing the waveform yourself with your own little fat fingers.

Traktor iOS is light years ahead of the “pro” app. And I think it’s a sign of how the future will see a proliferation of what I call appropriate computing. Rather than assume bigger is always better, sometimes a low-powered, niche computer (which is what an iPhone is compared to my Mac Pro) will serve the task in hand better, particularly if it presents a UI more suited to that task.

Now, if you would excuse me, I’m off to try to mash Doris Day with As I Lay Dying. Byeeee!