Thursday, 23 December 2010

Best of 2010.....

I suck at doing a best albums listen of any year because I cannot remember any albums that came out this year. My music listening usually goes back and forth between the old and new so I forget sometimes which is which. For instance, my most listened to album this year is undoubtably Billy Braggs - Must I paint you a picture (Greatest hits type thing) but that came out years ago. So essentially, the best albums of 2010 in my view are any albums I have been bothered to buy which is no order include:
Alkaline Trio - This Addiction
Against Me - White Crosses
Gaslight Anthem - American Slang
Sharks - Show of Hands EP
Frank Turner - Rock and Roll Ep
Cee Lo Green - The Lady Killa
Deftones - Diamond Eyes

Even now I know I've definitely forgotten some but I dont really care. Diamond Eyes would probably be my Album of the Year because it surprised me the most, never been a massive Deftones fan but just couldnt turn the album off.
So instead of this list of albums which I forget, I find it much easier to give you some of my favourite songs of 2010. These I can definitely remember:
In no order except in the order I remember

Gorillaz - On Melencholy Hill
I often forget how many massively successful songs "Gorillaz" have written. I dont think this one was particuarly huge but I love it. I think its a combination of the synth sound with the kind of "moaning" type thing going on in the background. Also the lyric "You are my medicine when you're close to me" is fantastic. Album not so great, this song, brilliant!

The XX - Islands
This was a song I didnt especially want to like at first. It bored the crap out of me but the guys voice grew on me. I think it sounds a bit like Damien Rice. I like the earnest-ness of it all. The band as an outfit are far too "we are too cool for any of this" for me but this song is simple and has a great hook. I loved it.

Alkaline Trio - Fine
Probably my favourite song from this years "This Addiction" album. Once again Dan Andriano produces lyrics any songwriter would be jealous of and the fact that they switch it up live and put Matt on Drums and Derek on Bass made is a live favourite quickly.

Against Me - We're Breaking Up
In the punk forums around the world Tom Gabel takes a lot of shit for taking Against Me from himself playing an out of tune guitar and shouting at the top of his lungs to a ligitimate rock band. Does he care? Probably, but he doesnt show it. Against Me released White Crosses this year and some interviewers asked Tom if he was "trying to deliberately piss people off". Unfortunately, having Butch Vig produce your records and touring with the Foo Fighters doesn't go down too well on many forums. Anyway, the record itself is great. There is some not so great moments on there but "Because of the Shame", "Bamboo Bones" and "Spanish Moss" so you Gabels ear for a massive hook and brilliant song. We're breaking up is my favourite for the lyrics probably. Some lines in there that many people will relate to.

Dave Hause - C'mon Kid
It was only posted as a little demo on myspace but its now been turned into a full band performance for Dave's upcoming full length record in the new Year. This tune just shows off an amazing voice and talent for writing very poignant lyrics. Haven't listened to an acoustic demo so much ever.

Tinie Tempah - Pass Out
Apart from some very sketchy metaphors (that one about keeping your jumpers at your Aunts house or something...) it is a MASSIVE tune that I still listen to most of the day. I'm sure there are people who are really into this genre who will accuse Tinie Tempah of selling out because he wrote a hit, I dont know the genre well enough to know if thats the case but I do think this song is genre defining. I only wish they didnt mime it live sometimes (see Radio 1's Big weekend).

Sharks - It All Relates

I've gone on and on about Sharks this year. Pretty much the most exciting young band in the country at the moment. You can vividly here The Clash, The Smiths and The Cure in them but its not a bad thing. This song is catchy as well, a bit of gang vocals and really cracking melody. Very impressive and up there with my most listen to this year. Cant wait to see what they do in 2011.

After coming back to this blog in effort to write more on 3 occasions I have no run out of time so I'm just gonna list some of my other favourite songs this year

Frank Turner - To an Absent Friend
Deftones - Diamond Eyes

oh fuck this I'm so shit at end of year lists.
Dave Hause - C'mon Kid is my favourite track of the year though!


Thursday, 16 December 2010

Songs for Situations....

Quick one.
Here are two songs which I think perfectly describe situations in which almost everyone has been, or will end up in at some point in life.
Very reflective.

Airbourne Toxic Event - Sometime Around Midnight
and The Cure - Cut Here

Matt xx

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

My 5 Favourite Songs this week....

Morning, Afternoon, Evening.

Been meaning to get round to this again but been pretty dam busy the last few weeks but today I have a day off and between writing a lot of words down I've broken into a massive grin mostly due to a birthday letter sent by awesome Holly. It made me laugh.

Sharks - It All Relates

Anyone who knows me will know of my love for Sharks. Especially my good friend Kristi who I mention them to every single time we talk. They finally released a new EP titled "Show of Hands" the other week and this song is mind blowing. Catch them out and about in tiny venues while you still can.

Billy Bragg - Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards
I've been a late arriver (is that word?) to Billy Bragg but I always knew of him. Finally got some of the music (more than just New England) and its amazing. After many late night whiskeys I've found myself writing the same thing on twitter and facebook "If you're not listening to Billy Bragg then you should be listening to Billy Bragg". That kind of sums it up I guess. This song is a current favourite, a mixture of stratchy guitar and flowing piano plus that famous cockney voice.

Biffy Clyro - Many of Horror
I've loved biffy for a long time, although I always had friends who were properly obsessed with them. At first I thought Only Revolutions would be like Puzzle: A great album but not a touch on their previous work which was a lot weirder and rawer. But taking the album for what it is, its a great collections of songs. Many of Horror has been picked up by some big hollywood movie I think which will no doubt spark conversations about biffy selling out, but I wouldn't buy into that for a second. They are one of the most original and unique bands in the UK for the last 10 years, every gig I see now there is a support band trying to copy biffy but no one ever gets close.

Hot Water Music - Our Own Way

"we'll find our own way home and sing out every song we know no one can keep us down and who gives a fuck what anybody says we'll live and love until we're dead holding on to what we've come to know and on and on and on and on and every time you hear this song be sure you are not alone" - It doesnt get much truer than that really

Pink - Just Like a Pill

I've been on a huge pink binge lately. She writes (partly I think) and performs some of the best dam pop-rock songs ever. Who Knew? Dont let me get me, etc etc but this is currently my favourite. Cracking live show

Until next time.
Matt x

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Radio Festival 2010 - What I learnt...

At Radio Festival 2010 I learnt that....

1) The Etap Hotel is £25 a night for a reason
2) Audacity is free for a reason
3) Ashley Tabor has a very large and shiny watch. Probably cost more than my car.
4) My laptop battery lasts much longer than I thought it does
5) Media types hate being in a room for 30 mins that has no mobile signal or wi-fi
6) Sir Clive Woodward has a vice like handshake
7) Chris Evans is a lot taller than I thought he would be
8) Jeremy Kyle is a lot smaller than I thought he would be.
9) Even though the adverts can be annoying, commercial radio is actually very good in many places.
10) XFM and Galaxy Manchester are very generous with their studios and time.
11) The Motorways around Birmingham only seem to operate in traffic jams
12) Most of the new buildings in Salford Quays look either like chocolate bars or something out of blade runner
13) Colin Murray has a very impressive iPad case.
14) Most radio presenters swear a hell of a lot off mic
15) The issue of DAB is still no closer to being resolved
16) People who work on 6Music are often the most interesting
17) The period in between one big show ending and another starting in the same slot is called a "sorbet period" - coined by Radio 2 controller Bob Shennen and used to describe the period between Jonathan Ross' show ending and Graham Norton's show starting.
18) Industry people are still divided on where Chris Moyles will be within the next year.
19) Nicholas Parsons is as quick witted as any professional comedian

Thats all I have off the top of my head right now.....


Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Angry Matt and the Radio.......

I'll get straight to the point.
Rock music and mainstream radio seem to not work very well together! Thats a hell of a statement I know but bare with me. Last night I was up late and well asleep listening to The Radio 1 Rock Show which is followed by (even though I was asleep by then) The Radio 1 Punk show. Now first of all this feels like a marginalisation: Most of the other specialist shows on R1 have personalities, the shows are simply the name of the DJ, the DJ shapes the show in their own image and you can feel the personality through the show. Thats where the success lies. The Rock show has always really been the Rock Show and thats fair enough, although Daniel P Carter has given it some stability over the last few years and the show is amazingly well produced. However the Punk show got changed to that from Mike Davies' own brain child "The Lock Up" a few years back. Now I dont know who's idea that was, it may have been Mike's or it may have been Radio 1's. Either way I think it takes away a certain amount of personality and knowledge from the show. Calling it The Punk Show makes Mike Davies sound a bit like a hired gun who is just reeling off links and could be replaced. When it was The Lock Up you got the feeling that no one in the world at that moment could provide you with more knowledge and info on Punk music than Mike Davies.
Whats my point you might ask?

My point is that rock music is highly marginalised on BBC radio compared to many other genres. If we really want to be narrow we can pretty much put music on the radio into 4 categories: Pop, Rock/Indie, Urban (hip-hop, RnB, Rap), Dance (electronic, DnB etc). Now if we expand on these categories you can see that mainstream radio spends much more time on the Urban and Dance areas than the Rock area. For instance, there are shows on Radio 1 dedicated to dub-step, breaks, left field soul, electronica, house, asian dance etc etc etc. I'm not saying this is a bad thing and it leads me to think that there must be a reason for this. The only one I can think is that the rock demographic do not interact with the radio as much as fans of urban and dance music. You can see that the BBC put more effort into some genres more than others straight away with the introduction of Radio 1xtra. It serves a huge demographic and covers a wide range of what they themselves call "young, black, urban music".

This abundance of urban music across the airwaves is beginning to pay dividends in the charts and the sale of records. Acts like Tinie Tempah, Roll Deep and Tinchy Stryder have all scored multiple number 1 records and were all "found" by 1xtra. However, do think that I am so naive to think that if UK rock/punk music had a dedicated station or more programming that would see more hit records for that genre because that wouldn't happen. Bands write albums not singles. When Green Day released American Idiot in 2004 it was the first real punk band to score a bit hit in a long time even though Green Day were selling out arena's before American Idiot on both sides of the Atlantic. That album was by incredibly accessible to a radio audience and therefore it flew of the shelves. Gone was the snotty pop punk of their youth and instead it was replaced with slick arena rock and it took them from the arena's to the stadiums.

The BBC are still huge champions of new and underground music. The "In New Music We Trust" and now "BBC Introducing" strands have spawned the likes of Florence and the Machine, Tinie Tempah, Marina and the Diamonds and many others and DJ's like Huw Stephens are great for giving unsigned bands a huge amount of air time, unfortunately, most DJ's seem to gravitate towards to UK indie scene, I can only imagine, due to the fact that they have much more chance of shifting units. Let me give you an example:

One of my favourite bands around at the moment are called Sharks. They are young, write excellent songs and combine a punk and mod-like image. I've seen them live a few times and love their stuff. They have been picked up by such bands as Gallows and Gaslight Anthem who in selves come from opposite ends of the spectrum. They have (to my knowledge) not been picked up by BBC Introducing and didnt get asked to play on any Introducing stage at this summers festivals. Now they are getting played regularly by Zane Lowe and are playing the Hammersmith Apollo in October with Gaslight Anthem again.
This is a band that should have been caught by Introducing and should have been given a shot at the festivals like so many acts who play on those stages and wouldn't have got half the crowd sharks would've. I spoke to their merch guy (a mate from school) at a recent gig and he said they just missed out on playing The Lock Up stage at Reading and Leeds. I asked him if they'd heard anything from BBC Introducing, he said they had not.
My point is they should have been given a shot!
Rock music programming on the radio is becoming almost completely non-existant. In March this year during the suggested closing of 6 Music, The Bruce Dickinson Rock Show on 6Music was cancelled and 6Music was left with no dedicated rock output, this went almost un-noticed. Almost all the commercial stations that play rock music focus mostly on classic rock (eg: Planet Rock, Total Rock, Rock Radio Manchester on GMG), Kerrang radio don't publicise their playlist on their website and the news features on said website at the moment are all about Mumford and Songs and Foals, hardly specialist like they say they are. A couple of bands (Gallows/Enter Shikari/The King Blues) have had minor success by getting onto the Radio 1 playlist at points in the last few years and bands like Biffy Clyro have won over the mainstream in 10 years but have tweaked their songwriting (not neccessarily in order to win over the mainstream). There is an article in this month's Q magazine about the Radio 1 playlist and as Aled Hadyn-Jones puts it "The arctic monkeys changed the game". They proved that if a song is good enough, people will find it and people will buy it. The radio no longer controls what we hear and what records are hits, sure it helps but the power is now with the consumer.

I am however not trying to take pot-shots at any station. I am just trying to figure it all out. As a fan myself, Do I really think that rock music fans would engage with the radio if their was more programmes on there in that genre? Possibly, but to be honest, probably not. Music fans are now engulfed in ways to find their music without having to listen to a DJ in-between, spotify and myspace now mean that there is barely any need to listen to a rock show for something new. We still need those programmes though and the people who listen to them are more radio fans than rock fans.

In summary, Bring back The Lock Up, Put Sharks on the bill of every festival and play more King Blues on the Radio!


Monday, 27 September 2010

Why I don't "get" Journalism.....

The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything. Except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands.” - Oscar Wilde

Lets face it, journalism is a huge topic. I dare say there are actually people out there who do care what oxygenarian Wayne Rooney is bedding or what the girl with her tits out on page 3 thinks about the war in Iraq. Fair enough, you write for your demographic, just because I dont care doesn't mean no one does. However, when jouralists begin to write article after article on something I do care and know a bit about without so much as consulting the facts, it blows my mind.
If you break down the journalism of the editorial columns, the opinions and "blogs" that many journo's now have, it is simply heavily one sided opinion. This can often be a good thing, look at Jeremy Clarkson's column in the Sunday Times (if he still does it), its hilarious in its distain for anyone else's point of view. However, now I see more and more random journalists dishing out their opinion as if its gospel on any random topic. What makes their opinion so valid? Why are they telling us what to think? Apparently its their expertise correct?

So what I'm talking about here is Chris Moyles and his "rant" live last week about not getting paid. So many journalists jumped on the bandwagon straight away denouncing Moyles as a "lout" and saying that because he gets paid a large wage he shouldn't care about not being paid. Over the weekend now there have been a number of articles written by media-types against the band-wagon-jumping journalists who cant wait to get their teeth into Moyles. It does baffle me however that journalists get paid for write articles when they show this baffling lack of knowledge on the subject. First reports on the day noted how (and this isnt the real quote because I cant remember which paper this was from but you get the gist) "Moyles ranted till 7am without playing a record", Did no one think to actually listen to any previous Chris Moyles show? The last time he played a record before 7am was circa 2005.
However my favourite piece of "journalism" on this story was from this guy
a political reporter, and probably a good one (i'm guessing) decided to stick his neck out into the world of youth entertainment and write about somethink he clearly knows bugger all about! Its quite funny really.
I'll pick out some of the highlights for you: firstly using a picture of Moyles that is by now about what, 10 years old? Finger on the pulse there for sure. Secondly, calling the BBC "wannabe trendy". Radio 1 is the biggest purveyor of youth entertainment on the airwaves, they have the flagship music show in pretty much every genre who can imagine, have the biggest guests on the air and get pretty much every exclusive going. Hardly wannabe is it? Thirdly in the article is that fact that the author openly states that he "prefers Magic FM". This all within the first paragraph. Saying that renders the rest of the article moot because essentially what the writer is saying here is "I know nothing about Radio 1 and I actually prefer something that is the polar opposite of it, but still I'm going to write about how much I dislike one of the presenters on a station I dislike"
How long are journalists going to get away with this? I am not a journalist but I wouldn't start writing here about politics because I don't know anything about it. I have my opinions of course but I dont express them like gospel.
On the topic of Moyles do you want my opinion? He has a contract, in that contract it says he will get paid "x" amount, therefore he should be paid that amount at the time the contact stipulates he should be, simple really isnt it. How much he gets paid is irrelevant. Are you telling me that if someone offered you 500k to do you job you would say "oh god no thats far too much I must earn less". Moyles hasn't held anyone to ransom here with how much he gets paid, he took a (very big) pay cut the other year so he could carry on doing his job. I think he is write in what he said that this would never happen to Wogan or Chris Evans.

Journo's can jump on bandwagons all they want but should probably stick to someone they know about. If you read any comments by media analysts on the matter you'll find reasonable discussion on whether having this rant on air was the best suggestion etc etc. How someone can get paid to write an article that is so devoid of fact and intelligent argument is beyond me. Journalism is weird.


ps: I'm having car insurance problems, why do they all want to charge me so much for nothing!!!!

Friday, 20 August 2010

My 5 Favourite Songs this week....

The Hold Steady - Chillout Tent

My favourite radio presenter/personality etc is probably Colin Murray (followed very closely by Moyles, dont hate me). The thing I thank him the most for was for playing The Hold Steady so much on his old Radio 1 show (the 10pm one, not the very old Colin and Edith). He claimed that he got sent the CD in a plastic wallet, no artwork or anything and the name of the band scrawled on the front in marker pen. However he fell in love with the album (Boys and Girls in America) and then so did I. I've been listening to it a shit load this week and this crazy song is near the end and caught my eye. Not just because it tells a brilliant story like most Hold Steady tunes, but the mix with the female voice is very strange, you can barely hear what she is saying and therefore it pricks up the ears a load. Very random, but very fun. I miss Colin's old show and listening to it on quiet nights in Sheffield.

The XX - Islands

Heard this song a bunch on Radio 1. I am slightly loathed to like The XX just due to the fact that my first knowledge of them was when I was making features for The Music Week on BBC 6Music. I had to do something on The XX and good god they were boring. They must have been tired because the whole interview they had that kind of Mark Ronson-esq "so laid back we're horizontal" attitude and the whole "cool, quite and chiq" indie thing happening. I hated it. I mean make whatever music you want but bloody hell be people. They looked and sounded like robots.
Anyway, annoyance aside, this is a catchy tune. I think the guys voice makes me though, without it I probably wouldn't be a fan. To me he sounds like Damien Rice.
Not bad. Rest of the album aint too hot to me though. Also, the video is annoying too.

Burial - Untrue
Like this album and at the moment this is favourite song off it. It makes me stare out of the window and comtemplate life, be that a good or bad thing I dont know.
I like the minimalism of it, and yet its pretty emotive.

Refused - Refused are Fuckin Dead

Is Refused - The Shape of punk to come one of the best albums of all time? I think so. This song is my current favourite from the album but to be honest I could've picked one out of 12. All this tune is main bed for the Radio 1 Rock show. I always expect to hear Daniel P Carter's voice come over the top of it at some point.

Frank Turner - Must Try Harder

Once again a different Frank Turner tune makes it into this list. A brilliant little song which is so simple it makes me amazingly jealous. There isn't even a youtube video of this one because its at the end of his first record and obviously no one cares that much about it! Well I do, and you should too. Go on itunes or spotify and you can find it on there.