Friday, 19 July 2013

Last Goodbye

This is our last goodbye
I hate to feel the love between us die
But it's over
Just hear this and then i'll go
You gave me more to live for
More than you'll ever know

This is our last embrace
Must I dream and always see your face
Why can't we overcome this wall
Well, maybe it's just because i didn't know you at all

Kiss me, please kiss me
But kiss me out of desire, babe, and not consolation
You know it makes me so angry 'cause i know that in time
I'll only make you cry, this is our last goodbye

Did you say 'no, this can't happen to me,'
And did you rush to the phone to call
Was there a voice unkind in the back of your mind
Saying maybe you didn't know him at all
You didn't know him at all, oh, you didn't know

Well, the bells out in the church tower chime
Burning clues into this heart of mine
Thinking so hard on her soft eyes and the memories
Offer signs that it's over... it's over

Thanks to everyone who has contributed, read and commented on 'Session Bloggers' over the last 8 months.  Now it's time to go.

See you in the next (blogging) life...

Lots of love

Simon S.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

2013 : An Introspective Discursive of Symphonoius Oeuvres by @Another__Name

Hello all, hope you're well.

Today we're pleased to introduce a new Session Blogger to the family.  I've been following @Another__Name on twitter for a while now and, given his excellent music taste, I've been hounding and hounding him for a blog post for ages.  Finally, here it is, and it was definitely worth the wait.

I'm going to pass you over now for a brief review of his favourite, and not so favourite, music from this year. Anyone who loves songs containing Autotune should look away now :

"New band! They’re based in New York! They’ve got attitude! They’re not the Strokes! Punky! I think if you want to be the next big thing you need to be based New York, have attitude and not be the Strokes.  A wee while ago everyone was raving about Parquet Courts so I continued to listen to 90s grebo dance rock, waited until they weren’t cool anymore then bought Light Up Gold.  I should imagine this will be taken entirely the wrong way but my favourite bit of the album was the space between the songs.  The album is completely out of its face on whizz. It turns all the dials to “Arghh how do I get off this?!” and charges off over the horizon pausing only to buy 3 packs of gum, before ploughing into the next riff. For the first 10 minutes I can’t tell whether the heartbeat pauses are gaps in the tracks. And I really like that.

As a wise man once said: “New band! They’re from New York!* They’ve got attitude! They’re not the Strokes! Punky!” And so to Poliça.  It’s taken me 10 minutes to find that c with the dangly bit on it on this computer that now I’m annoyed with them. The other thing that annoyed me about them was that voice modulation thingymagig.  You know the one – that thing Cher used on ‘do you believe in life after love’ to make her sound like a sexy dalek.  You also know how when you get a new toy you think it’s the best thing ever a play with it to exclusion of all your others?  Well her from *cuts and pastes* Poliça got Cher’s annoying voice thing for her birthday and uses it on every single song on the album. Well certainly as far as track 8.  I had to turn it off then because it was bugging the flip out of me.

Where to next? Ooh Jon Hopkins.  I’ve seen him playing a weird piano accordion chimera at a festival once.  It’s widely accepted by musical historians that the humankind’s musical output peaked in the mid 90s with releases from Leftfield, Tricky, DJ Shadow, Chemical Brothers and Portishead to name but a few.  The nation’s musical serotonin was used up and then what followed was years of crippling musical depression.  God, this analogy is tedious.  It sounded so much better in my head. Anyway, where was…ah Mr Hopkins.  This album could’ve been released in the mid 90s and I would have gone, ‘yeah it’s alright – stands up to the other stuff that’s around at the moment’.  That’s my way of saying it’s absolutely brilliant and there’s not a weird piano accordion in sight.  It’s a full on proper techno record with a full on come down ending complete with King Creosote popping up to provide oodles of melancholy, depression and self loathing born of having been up and forgotten to eat for 3 days, realising you have to go to work in a pizza restaurant for 12hrs.  During the Edinburgh festival. On the hottest day of the year. And your girlfriend has left you. And you don’t know what to do with life. But in a good way.

Boards of Canada, Boards of Canada, Boards of Canada. What is there to say about Boards of Canada’s Tomorrow’s Harvest that hasn’t been said before?  How about;234I;UTWEGNBFLKMSDFFVTSJTRAVCBFGBJKGWEY5RFQDHBBFM0998765GHJKFLV BVLK. That’ll do it. I like this album.  I like music that can make you feel 17 different things at once and yet you can still listen to while doing a crossword. When I say ‘doing a crossword’ I do of course mean ‘eating toast and reading twitter’.  There’s just so much going on here.  It’s busier than a simile generator I used on these reviews, yet sounds bleak and empty.  HOW DO THEY DO THAT?

From public service broadcasting to Public Service Broadcasting.  I’m not quite sure how I came to own Inform – Educate – Entertain.  As has happened on an increasingly regular basis, I woke up the other day after a bottle or two of middle-aged mind relaxer to find half a dozen Amazon confirmation orders in my inbox and this particular album on my phone.  I know nothing about the artist but reckon it’s one or two blokes from either Brighton or London.  I’m basing this wholly on the fact that if the Go! Team and Lemon Jelly got drunk at a party, got off with each other, went on an awkward first date but saw enough in each other to go on a second date, start hanging out with other, realised they were in love, got married (in the most hipster wedding imaginable – it was in Shoreditch and the guests had to wear tweed), wanted kids, tried for kids for a few years then had IVF treatment and lo! Had a baby it would sound just like this.  I will love this more than any other record for the whole summer, play it at every waking moment, chuckle at the lovely dropping of samples - the ‘here we go again’ one being the current favourite, overdose on it then not listen to it again for 5 years.  It is what I do.  I have previous.

Living in Scotland, I’m contractually obliged to fawn over everything Fence records puts out. And reviewing The Pictish Trail I’m contractually obliged to mention the fact he lives under a rock on the Shebridean Island of Sphune.  Now we’ve got all that out of the way, let’s look at the music. Secret Soundz Vol.2 by young Mr Trail is rather splendid.  Heartfelt songs augmented with a fine selection of bleeps, distortion big bad drum loops, interesting ‘kzzzz’ bits and ultimately sounding like it was recorded in a bin on a wet Tuesday. Think Badly Drawn Boy making out with a sexy dalek.  In a wet bin.  On Tuesday.  I’m thinking audiophiles aren’t going to particularly like this. Ignore them. Like I just ignored that split infinitive.

*probably not from New York.  I’m on a boat in the middle of the North Sea with no internet."

Thanks for the contribution @Another__Name There are a few beauties in there that I still need to check out.

Thanks to the rest of you for stopping by.

Hope to see you back here again soon.

Simon S.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

When something suddenly makes you think about an obscure 90s band #1 - Passion Fruit and Holy Bread

A friend of mine recently gave birth to a boy named Jonah.  Apart from the happiness I felt that my friend had had a baby, two other things instantly popped into my head on hearing the news.  The first was that if we had had a boy, instead of two girls, then Jonah was on the shortlist for names.

The second was that I suddenly remembered a band from the early 90s called Passion Fruit and Holy Bread who had a song called 'Jonah was swallowed by a big fish'.

I like it when this happens.  A band who you haven't thought about in 20 years is suddenly just there, front of mind.  It's like they knew all along - "I tell you what, if we put a person's name in one of our songs, someone is bound to randomly remember us in many years to come". Or maybe not.

Passion Fruit and Holy Bread, named after a lyric from Stone Roses' 'She Bangs the Drums' were pretty good, to be honest. They were lauded by the music press when they released the 'Jonah EP', which the above song featured on, and even appeared on my main man Gary Crowley's 'The Beat'. Everything seemed set up for success but then they just disappeared and haven't been heard of since.

If anyone knows of their whereabouts I'd love to hear about it.

Anyway, for those of you who never heard any of their stuff, below is a clip from their appearance on 'The Beat'. The song 'Arise' also appeared on the 'Jonah EP'.  I really like it, they had something a bit different at the time.  The lead singer had a good stage presence too.

Let us know what you think.

So, has an obscure band from the 90s suddenly popped into your head recently from nowhere?  If so, I'd love to hear about it.  If you fancy it, you can come on here and write about it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Loads of love

Simon S.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

"Secondary Ticketing : The New Touting" by Tom Hingley

Hello everyone, hope you're well. 

I know it's been a while but the following post is definitely worth the wait.  We've got a massive treat for you today - the very wonderful Tom Hingley, ex-lead singer of the Inspiral Carpets, has written a fantastic post about the hot music topic of the moment - Secondary Ticketing. 

Anyway, without further ado, here it is :

How many of you have been in that situation where an old band announce they are reforming and you become part of a mass scramble to get hold of tickets for yourself, your friends and your loved ones? You perhaps end up spending hundreds of minutes, online time, and eventually hundreds of pounds through purchasing tickets at multiplications of their original face value.

You are part of a con being deliberately constructed by big players in the live performance industry.

Secondary ticketing sites were set up under the previous government under the aegis of introducing an element of control over the anarchy of unregulated online retailing of sports and entertainment tickets and scams with the official line that this would deter touting,
namely individuals purchasing a sizable minority of all the tickets for an event and then selling them outside for a massive profit. In fact, in many cases the very establishment of these secondary ticketing sites had exactly the opposite affect and what became the common occurrence was for many promoters to commit a sizeable allocation of tickets to these players, who then sat on them and sold them through the internet at vastly inflated prices while assuming the apparent position that each of the thousands of tickets they possessed was being sold as though it were a scarce item.

The con hinges on a concert/tour being announced through a variety of media outlets, such as the radio/TV/websites/social media platforms. The public are then encouraged to leap on one premium rate ticket hotline at 9 AM Friday morning. This creates an artificial log jam, and the disappointed fans then turn - in increasing desperation - to any other online retail outlets who may be able to satisfy this artificially hyped demand.

The secondary ticket sites exist under the falsely constructed identity of not being connected in any way with the original promoters, when in fact they are often actually partners, in the web, sometimes even owned by the same people who own the large entertainment entities who control the business. I call this cosy relationship of business entities who are actually fingers of the same corporate hand false walls, when I discuss a similar double value system operating in the UK drink industry (but more of that later).

As if this situation weren’t bad enough, added to the complexity of embedded and collapsed yet ‘separate’ presentation of promoters/touts is the added issue of individuals employed in the secondary ticketing entities owning and operating hundreds of credit cards, and purchasing large slabs of tickets from the original retail sites at the first point of retail in addition to, and way beyond, the original ones promised in the promoter’s direct allocations. The effect of these two actions is to render it impossible for genuine punters to buy tickets at the original ticket price and to divert tickets to a small number of secondary outlets/touts who then control the value-added super resale price of these consumer items.

One side effect of this ‘double buying’ by the promoter controlled/embedded secondary touting sites is that a possible outcome would be for a concert with a total of 10,000 tickets to be left with 10% of the tickets left in the drawers of the secondary ticketing businesses on the night of the concert, or being sold well below the original cover price by physical touts outside the venue namely, i.e., exactly what the introduction of these sites was supposed to prevent!  There may be false walls but really it’s all open plan, and they all live in the same house

My concern about this promoter-led touting is threefold: 1) the super value of the resold tickets is generally not being passed back to the performing artists, 2) the fans are being ripped off by a music business that knows this practice is being carried on at all levels (another horse meat scandal?) and 3, this practice is slowly and surely killing the live music scene. The digital touting of tickets , including the price fixing, monopolistic , fraudulent actions of these secondary ticketing touts and promoters and the deprivation of, say, 10% of a potential audience to see their favourite band will eventually prise even the most ardent fans away from their loved artists. There may come a time where punters are made to choose between seeing their favourite band for £500 per ticket or paying for school dinners and the mortgage. This inflation of the ticket price will lead to fans abandoning bands, and they won’t come back. This is a hideous adjunct to the end of recording artists being able to make money from exploiting sound recordings with the explosion of P2P infringing sites 

This is the Dutch Tulip Bulb Bubble of the 21st Century

Tom Hingley

Thanks Tom.  I think all genuine music fans feel this is an issue and it's great to see someone in the music industry sharing that opinion.

Before I sign off today I wanted to again thank Tom for a great, insightful post.  If you want to follow Tom on twitter, you can do so here - @tomhingleymusic

Today I'm going to leave you with a live clip of Tom singing the song 'Good' from his solo album "Thames Valley Delta Blues".  I highly recommend the album, it's a corker, and if you get a chance to see him live then go for it, you won't regret it.  He's a very funny man as well as a fantastic musician.

Thanks for reading

Simon S.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

"Why I fucking love Gary Crowley"

A couple of weeks ago I bought one of those cassette tape to mp3 converters.  In our loft I've got quite a few mixtapes, albums by bands who aren't on Spotify and songs that I wrote and recorded in my bedroom (on a crappy little tape recorder, not on an 8 track or anything) on guitar (3 chord, Status Quo specials) when I was a teenager. 

When I saw you could buy one of these converters for £15 I thought why not, the nostalgia value will be worth 10 times that.  And I was right, it's brilliant and works a treat, however, I've been using it merely as a Walkman rather than a converter since I bought it.

You see, on one of the tapes I found in the loft was an old Gary Crowley GLR radio show from 1996 and I've been hooked on it ever since!

Gary Crowley, along with John Peel, has been one of the most influential DJs in my life.  Ever since the early 90s it was Gary's TV programme 'The Beat' where I discovered a lot of my new music.  I still remember seeing Radiohead perform 'Anyone Can Play Guitar' live on the show and they soon became my favourite band.  My mates and I played the footage of The Jesus Lizard playing 'Mistletoe' in the studio over and over after we'd videoed it (I think it used to be on about 2am in the morning!) because it was just so bloody funny! They were great times for music.

Around that time 'The Beat', 'Snub TV' on BBC2 and the 'ITV Chart Show', along with John Peel's radio show, were must watches / listens for me.  And with 3 weekly music mags at that time (NME, Melody Maker and Sounds), us Indie Kids really were spoilt for choice.  Even Top of the Pops featured really good bands in the early 90s.

Gary also championed shoegazing when it first arrived and a series of gigs at The Marquee as part of the 'Band Explosion' heroed the genre.  I was lucky enough to see the Chapterhouse, Slowdive and Moose gig and the week after it was all televised on 'The Beat' (I'm sure I saw myself queueing up at the venue on telly, can't be 100% certain it was me but it sounds good anyway).

Anyway, the tape I found brought back loads of happy memories of Gary's GLR show including the 'Demo Clash', where 3 unsigned bands were played and listeners had to ring up to vote for their favourite.  To win was seen as a huge accolade, I think Suede were probably the most famous band to feature and they didn't do badly out of it did they?

It seems I'm not the only one who loved Gary either, as soon as I mentioned his show on twitter, and especially that he'd play 'Wembley' by The Candyskins on the particular show I was listening to, fellow music lovers like @1pAlbumClub , @extreme_rice , @Snippetcuts and @woodmanstone all reminisced about him or the music he was playing.

As I was very excited by the whole thing, I decided to put the following Spotify playlist together of all the songs featured in the show here - Gary Crowley June '96 Playlist

If you're not on Spotify, the songs were :

"How does it feel to feel?" by Ride
"Forbidden City" by Electronic
"Set the controls for the heart of the pelvis" by Barry Adamson featuring Jarvis Cocker
"Born Slippy (Nuxx)" by Underworld
"Hate" by Acacia
"Wembley" by The Candyskins
"Juvenile Scene Detective (Howie B's Tribute to Mr Laudanum Mix)" by Compulsion
"Chelsea Girl" by Ride
"Devils Haircut" by Beck
"Theme From Turnpike" by dEUS
"Marching Men" by Rich Kids
"Tattva" by Kula Shaker

The other songs played, which aren't on Spotify were :

"Mermaid" by Posh
"Eat my goal" by Collapsed Lung
"Everything must go (Chemical Brothers remix)" by Manic Street Preachers
"I never want to see your face again" by Black Star
"Ponces" by Swimmer
"Computer Crash" by Computer

Gary is still DJ'ing for BBC London 94.9 (what GLR became). I have to admit I haven't listened to a show of his in years but after finding that gem in the loft, I definitely will again soon.  I always have and always will fucking love him! Would love to hear your memories of him too.

Thanks for reading.

Loads of love

Simon S.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Great Lost Albums of 2011

2011 was a bit of a blur for me. My youngest daughter was born in November 2010 so the following year, as you can imagine, was pretty crazy and my priorities weren't about discovering new music. I therefore missed a lot of music releases that year.

My daughter has since apologised, and I have forgiven her. However, I would still like her apology in writing but may have to wait a couple of years for that.

Recently, in order to get over it, I have re-visited 2011 and amongst my favourite albums that year that I was aware of at the time - the debut album by The Vaccines, 'Portamento' by The Drums and Radiohead's 'The King of Limbs', to name but 3 - I have also uncovered 3 beauties which I missed. I will come onto these a bit later.

It wasn't just me who missed these 3 by the looks of it though.

I wanted to find out if the 3 albums below were on any of the Top 50 lists compiled by the top music journalists in the industry. I decided to do what any 37 year old, who hasn't got a clue how to find things out, would do and I Googled 'Top 50 albums of 2011'.

I then looked at the Top 10 results in detail. These were Pitchfork, NME, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Spin, Stereogum, Consequence of Sound, FACT Magazine, Paste Magazine & Obscure Sound, and not one of them mentioned any of my Great Lost Albums of 2011 below. I'd love to know what THEIR excuse was (okay, maybe they just didn't like them, fair point. But I do, so ner!)

Anyway, without further ado, here, my friends, are my Top 3 Great Lost albums of 2011 :

1. 'To the death of fun' by Cashier No. 9

"Oh them again", I hear you say. Okay, I admit I am slightly obsessed with this band at the moment and I think they know it.  I have a feeling they are very close to blocking my twitter account.

It's just a fucking great album that people need to discover, and now's your chance.

Here's a little teaser for you but please check out their album (how many times do I need to say this?!) and we'll all stalk them together - agreed?!

2. 'Buffalo' by The Phoenix Foundation

This album is amazing, it is so varied and just so beautiful.  They hail from New Zealand but the album does sound very 'British'.  I'm not usually a big fan of albums that start off with a slow song, I have always felt an album should be like a gig, where you start off with a real stomper (sorry, it was the only word I could think of) to get everyone dancing / moshing but 'Eventually' is just gorgeous and they've got it spot on.

You know when you hear an album and it only takes one listen to get into, well this is like that.  They've got a new double album out shortly which I'm really looking forward to and they are touring soon so try and catch them live.  Anyway, here's a clip of their song 'Buffalo' which is another beauty -

3. 'Whatwave' by Dead Trees

Erm...'Whatwave' also starts off with a slow song so my whole 'fast song at the start' opinion has now officially been quashed.  It was a bit of a rubbish statement anyway, wasn't it?

The Dead Trees are a great band and this album is a beauty, very summery / west coast sounding. I'm definitely looking forward to checking some more of their stuff out.

The song below is called 'World Gone Global' but you really have to listen to the whole album to fully appreciate them -

So there you have it. My next challenge is to find another 3 beauties from another year that were missed by the top music publications / websites and their dogs.

I'm probably going to struggle to be honest, 2011 may be a one off.  However, if you fancy giving it a go yourself, pick a year, discover some albums from it and then come back and write for Session Bloggers. Everyone's welcome.

Thanks for popping by.

Loads of love

Simon S.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue #2 - what I've been listening to recently‏ by @TheJDaddy

He's a clever little so and so that Greg aka @TheJDaddy isn't he? Not only is he our first Session Blogger to make a second appearance on the blog but he's also gone and taken one of the features I started and added something extra to it.  He is, as I've always said, a very beautiful man.

Whereas, in a previous post of mine, I thought 'Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue - what I've been listening to recently' would be a bit challenging (hence why I chopped the 'blue' bit off) he has gone and proved me wrong and here's how, over to you Greg...

He’s only gone & done it again: Top bloke Simon (aka @SessionBlogger)  has talked me into doing another guest post on his great music blog. To be honest I didn’t need much encouragement; not even any Twiglets this time. Today has been great day for music, which made this post an easy one!

The theme this time is “Something old, something new, something borrowed – what I've been listening to recently”. So here we go:

Something old I’ve been listening to recently – The Beatles

Something old? Easy. I’m old! Most of the music I listen to belongs to the last Millennium, although I do like to at least try to keep current. And I no longer apologise for it. Dylan was once asked why he played so much old music on his radio shows. His reply? “There’s just more of it”. Kinda hard to argue with.

For my old track I've gone with an obscure little band from northern England that no-one but me will ever have heard of.

OK, it’s possible that others may have heard of The Beatles, & they did achieve a measure of success.

When it comes to sixties British bands I tend to favour rockers like The Stones & The Who. Let’s face it, to start with at least, the Fab Four were the boy-band of their day.

But recently I’ve been playing “Let It Be…Naked”, a stripped-down version of their great album, & I’ve been reminded of just how many great songs they really had. It starts with ‘Get Back’ & ends with ‘Across the Universe’ & ‘Let It Be', with ‘The Long & Winding Road’ along the way. The latter are not only 3 of their greatest ballads, but arguably of anyone’s, ever.

It’s hard to choose but my favourite is probably this one, so, so beautiful, even more so stripped down I think:

Something new I’ve been listening to recently – David Bowie

Yes, just this morning the great man released a new single, with a new album due soon. I already love it, very sad, very beautiful.

2 words: buy it! I have.

Something borrowed I’ve been listening to recently – Suede

This morning on twitter music journalist Pete Paphides said “Poor Suede. Their new tune –free to download from yesterday– has been lost amid all the Bowiemania, but it's splendid” 

And it is. And it’s free: how good is that?!

So that’s my lot. But hang on! I’m married; I remember this bit.  Isn’t there more? Yes!

Something blue I’ve been listening to recently – The Blues Brothers

I love the blues & don’t need much of an excuse to plug it. I've been listening to 'The Definitive Blues Brothers Collection' recently, & this is 1 of the stand-out tracks. If you’ve seen the film – and if you haven’t, why not?! – it’s the track the band play -  and play, and play, and play – at their gig in order to buy time for Jake & Elwood to give the cops the slip. Sort of an updated Sound of Music, really.

“I now pronouce you…”? Hope you enjoyed my choices.

Great post Greg, thanks for contributing again.  Oh and from this day forth, this feature will be called 'Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue - what I've been listening to recently'.  Yep, the 'blue' bit is officially restored. You've proved to me that it can be done - without any mention of Deep Blue Something - and what a great song to do it with.  Love that film.

Thanks for reading all.

Loads of love

Simon S.