Archive for the 'Music' Category

18
Jan
09

Silver lining in new music from the rainy city

The Bears Are Coming

The Bears Are Coming

Whilst the bemoaning of lacklustre new music prospects for 2009 gathers pace, as the January rain commences, one city is offering five rays of sunshine to blind the critics. The rainy city. My city. Manchester.

The city’s contribution to the national music scene has been well documented and celebrated in the past, but herein lies the fundamental problem. Manchester has never been able to shake off the lad-rock indie label so brilliantly bestowed upon it by the Stone Roses and Oasis. Following a sprinkling of commercial breakthrough last year, notably from the Ting Tings and The Courteeners, 2009 could see the Manchester music offering blossom in a spectrum of varying guises and styles, finally relegating the ‘Madchester’ scene, alongside, hopefully, those soulless billionaires, Manchester City. But that’s another argument for another day…

The resurrection will be a five-pronged attack. These five bands will smash through your radio and gallop to the top of the league, alongside, hopefully, those illuminating romantics, Manchester United. But that too, is another argument…

These five bands, hand-picked by, well, me, are… Ten Bears, The Travelling Band, It’s a Buffalo, Twisted Wheel and Kid British. Mad for it!

Ten Bears are a ragged, sharp rabble of rustic brilliance. Heavily influenced by Young and Dylan, the Bears have successfully twisted in catchy, pacey tunes with clever, scratchy lyrics. Formerly The Deadbeats, and former winners of the Glastonbury Unsigned Act competition, Ten Bears have added the racier songs of the deadbeat days, such as the fabulous ‘Hotel’ and ‘Sex Music’, to their new furry armour that carries a clutch of electric, joyful, poppy teasers. New song ‘Dirt On The Radio’ gained its first serious airplay on Radio One last week and should kick-start the march of the Bears. Personal favourites include ‘To The Moon’, ‘Braces’ and ‘Zeus’, while ‘Charlie’ holds particular resonance for us boys here at The Equivalent. Remember, Keep It Simple, Stupid. And remember, Ten Bears are awesome. GRRRRRR…

Friends to the Bears, The Travelling Band offer a somewhat more relaxing take on Manchester Americana. Slow and unhurried, The Travelling Bands songs twitter along, and leave you feeling pretty darn… well, for want of a better word, nice. Debut album, ‘Under the Pavement’ has already been released, cementing The Travelling Band’s place as one of the favourite acts on Market Street. The rain may always pour in Manchester, but for those glorious few days of sunshine we’re hopeful for in the summer of 2009, cider drinking in Platt Fields Park will surely be accompanied by the easy jigs of the sublime Travelling Band, flowing, stream-like, from the radio.

Slightly quicker, yet equally as lovely, are the tales supplied by It’s A Buffalo. Hot from a stampeding support slot with The Courteeners, and with a release date of March ’09 for debut album, ‘Don’t Be Scared’, pencilled in, 2009 should witness the steady rise of the rough, yet pleasant, Buffalo boys. ‘Somewhere In Range’ and ‘Divorce Song’ are particularly gorgeous, and the appeal of seemingly ordinary, laid-back Manc fellas could guarantee It’s a Buffalo a comfortable space in the corner of the national conscience.

Much has already been written about fiery scamps, Twisted Wheel, but they’re just too bloody ferocious to be left out here. After being hand-picked by Noel Gallagher to support Oasis for their Wembley Arena gigs last year, they also perhaps hold the greatest chance for mainstream success in 2009. Rowdy and raucous live, tight and urgent on record, Twisted Wheel could whip the Manchester lad-rock tag into a rusty frenzy. They’re sharper than Oasis, more forceful than The Courteeners. Don’t dare take your eyes off the charts this year, Twisted Wheel are gonna smash it up!

Genre-slicing rapscallions Kid British are Manchester’s most intriguing melting-pot. Mixing dub, indie, ska and rap, Kid British are a rasping collective sure to divide, but certain to sky-rocket. Instantly brilliant, ‘Elizabeth’, is a personal recommendation, whilst ‘Lost In London’ could quite easily have been my running life story for the last few months. Comparable maybe to the style infusings of Jamie T, and equally as ace, Kid British look destined to kick on to a similar degree of success and acknowledgement. If they don’t, then they should, for the Kid’s got talent.

So, there you have it. Music isn’t dead. In fact, under the slate-grey Mancunion sky, it is about to be re-born. Manchester, it seems, is gonna command the music scene in 2009 as Man U are gonna dominate the Premier League. But that’s another article entirely… D’ya know what I mean?

07
Jan
09

New Music in 2009 already written off – go back to bed

by Jon Bye

A new year, a new age, a new president far away…and the same old here in blighty. Exciting developments in music come thick and fast (who would have thought touring would become more profitable than selling albums). But when it comes to  new artists, if you ain’t known already you can already forget the mega fame for 2009.

This comes thick on the heels of  two pieces – one article in NME(the fallen bastion of new music) and a podcast from the Guardian (the music guide for the misguided). I must note that many other people have done it, but these two publications are the most likely to be picked up. Both backed their artists to make it, most quite obvious (if Little Boots doesn’t have a good year then none of us will) but the odd obscurity (the rise north-western dub anyone?!?)

Nothing unusual in these predictions in themselves. But arguably music is in such a fragile way right now that maybe this is not the best way forward. Its almost irresponsible. If its clear who the media pages and magazines are going to be talking about for the next year (and some key writers are already fixated on their new favourite band and deperate to tell us about it), why bother doing anything then put them on advanced order and go back to bed in a credit-crunching, fuel-rising, Woolies-closing state of apathy? Because whether we want to or not, we will be hearing about these bands for the next 6 months until they finally deliver their disappointing first album, at which point we’ll fall back on the tried and tested artists’ unoriginal new album and claim its gold.

In thi economic state as well, there is little hope for breaking this pattern either. One only needs to watch the glorified pop-youth talent show , T4’s Unsigned Act, to see that the men (or women…but most likely men) with the money are still the dinosaurs from the 90’s who were playing  it incredibly safe and signing up only the artists who had the biggest buzz and the least controversy even before the credit crunch hit.

Now, I can gauge it will be even worse. Tips list of obvious bands become bibles to the casual investor, myspace becomes their billboard and the weekly music press become their whoring ground. This great bright future of music!

Continue reading ‘New Music in 2009 already written off – go back to bed’

21
Dec
08

Reports of Pop’s death have been greatly exaggerated

It was Dr. Pepper that did it. Promising a free can to everyone in America seems to have embarrassed Axl Rose in a way that the multi-million dollar ‘hurry-up’ payments and tales of chicken coops in the recording studio did not. And with a cheery “what’s the worst that could happen?” Chinese Democracy was released in November, a mere 15 years after Guns N’ Roses’ previous effort.

And 2008 seemed to be the year of the comeback for aging rockers, with new material from The Verve, Paul Weller and Oasis, along with news that Britpop rivals Blur are to reform. In pop, Britney and Boyzone returned, with varying degrees of success, while Snap’s Rhythm is a Dancer blasted its way back into the charts, presumably on the back of Brains from Thunderbirds pulling shapes around bottled water.

Katy Perry has kissed more girls than The Equivalent this year

Katy Perry has kissed more girls than The Equivalent this year

But most of all, 2008 was a great year for quality, well-written pop, with new-comers Katy Parry and Alphabeat laying down the challenge to established acts. So much so that picking 10 songs of the year out of songs that have made the top 40 takes a huge amount of whittling down. This is why I can’t bring myself to agree with Phil Seaman that the late 2000s have been devoid of pop classics.

Continue reading ‘Reports of Pop’s death have been greatly exaggerated’

21
Dec
08

Albums of 2008

…or at least those according to Phil Seaman
10/Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazerus Dig!!!
Continuing in the same vein as Grinderman, this album continues Nick Cave’s recent success with an uptempo, aggressive stomp through the American post-grunge wilderness
9/British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music?
Poor sales figures could not distract critics from loving the latest album from British Sea Power, daring to walk the line between string-laced pomp and melodic introspection with more than a passing reference to Arcade Fire
8/TV On The Radio – Dear Science
Funky, dancable and yet highly listenable whilst chilling out, Dear Science has a depth that is often lacking in full length dance albums as a result of great songwriting and passionate performances
7/Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
Thrust from the States with more than a little help from African music, basic melodies and simple instrumentation is the basis for one of the few highly original indie albums released this year
07
Dec
08

Popular Music 2009 and beyond

Phil Seaman idly speculates

It’s probably true when looking at mainstream music, the mid-to-late 2000’s have been the worst years in music for a considerable time in terms of originality, long lasting appeal and progression.

Justice

Justice

It’s probably worth a book in itself to cover previous supposed lulls in musical creativity; for every person who thought that the mid-Eighties were full of synth pop with mullets and bad dancing, there’s a person who loves the fact that the mid-Eighties were full of synth pop with mullets and bad dancing.

Probably the last period that is referred to as being absolutely dire is, according to critic Tim Page, 1974. This is the period between Glam and Punk, between post-Motown soul and Funk/Disco, a musical no-mans land. Manufactured, soulless pop ruled supreme and the singer songwriter earned his/her reputation as being an overly emotional, twee twat.

The worst year in music since then is definitely 2006, in which manufactured pop under nobodies such as Shayne Ward flourished, James Blunt won TWO Brit awards, Hard-Fi held the key to success for Indie and even Leo Sayer managed a #1 hit. It was the same old, same old and whilst Electro flourished under the cover of darkness in up and coming seedy bars, there appeared to be no future, no brilliance and no individuality to anyone in the business.

Where the hell do we go from here?

Continue reading ‘Popular Music 2009 and beyond’

06
Dec
08

Should a Man Enjoy The X Factor?

by Alex Dimond

 

The X Factor — okay for a man to like?

The X Factor — funny stuff.

 

As I sit here, in my comfortable yet somehow sterile room, one question of extreme importance keeps running through my head. It’s the sort of question that probably used to keep Boutros Boutros Ghali up all night, when he was UN Secretary-General.

As a man, is it alright to like The X Factor?

I know, I know — I should be focusing on more important matters, like the 3,000 word essay I need to get finished by tomorrow. But right now, as Eoghan (although everyone insists on calling him Owen) prances around the stage performing a cheeky ABBA number, I can’t help but wonder whether I should even be watching the show, let alone enjoying it.

Continue reading ‘Should a Man Enjoy The X Factor?’

05
Dec
08

The Future

girls_aloud_black_and_white

Over a good few snifters of brandy in the gentleman’s club yesterday evening, the distinguished Sir William Nichols and I found ourselves deep in animated discussion. Matters of great import, you understand. Stocks and shares, war in the colonies, moustache cultivation, that sort of thing. Affairs of the day. All of a sudden our merry banter was interrupted by the crass blasting of the television. I adjusted my monocle and what should I see in the garish glow but the latest promotional reel from Girls Aloud, the popular cabaret combo and thinking man’s crumpet. Naturally the very sight of these fawning sirens stirred my loins most inconveniently, but it also led me to speculate on where such ravishing backstreet beauties might find themselves two decades hence…

Let us begin with Nadine, Belfast’s finest. Slender, doe-eyed, almost alien. After the hits dry up and she has been entirely remoulded in plastic – her face contorted into a deranged grimace from one too many poisonous injections – the poor creature will be fit only for a life of hermitry as a mad recluse. Whether this means she’ll consign herself to a decaying mansion on Sunset Boulevard, an abandoned theme park or a remote isle off the icy wastes of Sweden, who can say? What is for sure is that there’s a fitting symmetry here. She was pieced together from old ideas by Mr Cowell – that most modern Prometheus – and will promptly be cast back as disfigured and mangled as her accent into the obscurity from whence she came. A bleak prognosis yes, but the classic morality tale for all those who sign a pact with the devil in high trousers.

I feel certain that fate will smile (slightly) more favourably on her compatriots, however. The ginger jaffa will doubtless capitalise on her startling resemblance to the young Cilla Black and dredge up that hoariest of old chestnuts, Blind Date, for an inevitable revivial. Needs must I suppose. Lads-periodicial stalwart Sarah Harding will in turn burn clean through her nasal septum snorting sherbert for slot machine change. She’ll be left with little more than the odd Loose Women appearance and Iceland commercial to make ends meet and will be seen in later years roaming the streets, punching paparazzi, muttering incoherently and swigging White Lightning before collapsing in an underpass, doused in a pool of her own tears. Magnificent. And dear Kimberly, shovelling haddock in a fish-and-chip emporium in small town West Yorkshire, forgotten, but not actually too sorry for it.

Cheryl Cole though is another matter. World domination beckons for that little piece of Tyneside tartlet. Having cut lose her hapless shag hound of a husband, a prominent solo career will ensue where she displays a surprising apptitude for the Jacques Brel songbook. Avant-garde experimental noise records with Steve Albini follow, as does her silver screen debut in a remake of Jules et Jim opposite Seth Rogen and Chris Tucker. Oscars, Grammies and a second-term Team Obama vice presidential candidacy crown her achievements. Yes, things are going pretty swimmingly for the one-time X Factor judge. That is, until she is assassinated while being driven around Dallas in a campaign Cadillac. The shooter? That nightclub toilet attendant she beat up all those years ago. What goes around comes around my dear…




"The Equivalent is so full of in-jokes, it must only be funny to the authors themselves" - Keith Somerville, as quoted in Sleeveless Top Enthusiasts Weekly.

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