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.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Damian Harris, Musical Genres and Social Awkwardness by @SlightlySubDad

Welcome back, my friends.  Before I introduce you to today's excellent post, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has visited the blog over the last couple of weeks since I started publishing guest posts.  You are all very beautiful people.

Anyway, before I get all choked up, today's Session Blogger is the wonderful Jason who blogs over at Slightly Suburban Dad.  Jason is another person who I instantly clicked with on twitter (follow him @slightlysubdad , you won't regret it, he is a very funny man) given our mutual love of music. 

Jason's post today is all about his experience of meeting a music hero of his, from the Brighton Big Beat scene, recently.  In all honesty, I think he handled it pretty well, whereas he would probably disagree. Anyway, have a read and decide for yourself.

Over to you, Jason...

They say you should never meet your heroes. I always thought it was because you may be disappointed in them but, thanks to my social awkwardness, I’ve just discovered you can disappoint them. Possibly. Anyhow, it turns out I’m scared of famous people. Even people who used to be famous. You may not have heard of Damian Harris but, along with Fatboy Slim, he pretty much invented a musical genre and a famous one at that; Big Beat.
Damian, you see, founded Skint Records. He was responsible for signing and promoting three of the best dance acts of the 90s (I say act, and I know it makes them sound like a magician on Blackpool Pier but what do you call musicians who are part band, part DJ, part composer?). They were Fatboy Slim himself, The Lo Fidelity All Stars and Bentley Rhythm Ace. Combining huge riffs and acid squelches with hip hop breaks, and more jazzy, downtempo influences, Big Beat could be in your face on a sweaty dance floor and yet played to calm you at a chill out afterwards (“Bentley’s Going To Sort You Out” by Bentley Rhythm Ace was particularly good at this).
The genre was named after the Big Beat Boutique which ran in Brighton. But for four years travelling and working abroad I have lived in Brighton all my life and while I was more of a trance and techno clubber there are certain places in Brighton that are institutions and that you would inevitably end up in sooner or later. Big Beat Boutique was such a place and inevitably, a few times, I did.
Even if you never went you were soon sure to have heard of it, thanks to the massive selling second Fat Boy Slim album You’ve Come A Long Way Baby. It was a world wide smash, selling millions. The money rolled in to the Skint offices in such large amounts they could barely keep count and suddenly the world knew all about Brighton and Big Beat. At the time, techno snob that I was, I perhaps didn’t appreciate the impact (too busy deconstructing the latest Carl Craig or Jeff Mills track over a Marlboro Light) but there is no doubt in retrospect that it WAS the sound of Brighton.
Then Damian and Norman Cook did something mind blowingly cool. They sponsored the shirts of my beloved Brighton and Hove Albion football club and produced other clothing merchandise in association with them. Now I was fully onside. I filled my CD racks with Skint albums and my clothing draws with Skint t-shirts. I bought the ONLY cool football shirt that’s ever been made, the original Skint sponsored black and red striped away shirt. I still have it even though, when I wear it now, it makes me look like I’m smuggling a beach ball.
I mention this all to reminisce and also to illustrate just what a huge deal Big Beat was as a musical genre.  It’s vaguely important later.
Unlike many other bloggers who write stuff that is either quite personal, swearily humorous or, in the case of the brilliant Motherventing, both, my mother is aware that I have a blog. Since I have written about her in the past it’s a good job that she just keeps forgetting the url.  She also knows that I would dearly like to write a book and have it published one day, arrogant as that may be, and that I am never really satisfied with the quality of my writing. Therefore for Christmas she got me something REALLY cool. A writing masterclass at The Guardian offices in Kings Cross held by Jay Rayner (another hero, a favourite writer of mine. The masterclass was brilliant and Jay was fantastically entertaining and informative). He had sent out four of his pieces to read beforehand as homework so we could go over the techniques he had used. Then, a few days before it started he sent through a fifth piece to read. This was not one of his but was from The Independent in the late 1990s. It was an interview with Damian Harris. Reading it I was transported immediately back to the Brighton of my youth.
Sitting in my seat waiting for the class to start a man was brought in to the room from the door opposite the one from which we had entered. I vaguely recognised the face from DJ booths, music magazines and behind the counter of Rounder Records. Sure enough it turned out to be Damian Harris. In the second part  of the masterclass Jay interviewed Damian live. We had to take notes and then write the opening paragraph of a story about the interview. This was brilliant news. THIS WAS MY SUBJECT MATTER!
The discussion did, of course, talk about Brighton clubland in the 90s but it also focussed on what Damian was up to now – after the rave. And one thing he mentioned was that he had recently read an article about emerging new music genres and hadn’t known anything about any of them. And just a quick search on the interweb shows I don’t either. Ever heard of ‘Juke’? ‘New Orleans Bounce’? ‘Glitch Hop’?  ‘Waffle Berry Bollock Step’? OK one of those is a bit made up but only one. I doubt I have ever heard a piece of Juke music let alone identified it as such.
The tragic thing is I used to be able to do this. As a youngster in the dance clubs of Brighton I could tell my HardBag from my HandBag, my Detroit Techno from my Chicago House, my Gabba from my Trance. Trance seemed to create a new sub-genre almost every week. There was Acid Trance and Goa Trance and Hard Trance. Christ, what a boring bunch of wankers we were.
I may not be trendy any more. To be honest most of my good tips for new bands have come from my kind host Simon, here at Session Bloggers (and before at musodad) and my brother who is a Sound Engineer. I have a few acclaimed fairly recent albums but they mainly have links back to my past. Andy Weatherall’s Masterpiece is by, well, Andy Weatherall. Steve Mason’s Boys Outside is brilliant but I knew him from listening to The Beta Band at chillouts and King Biscuit Time’s ‘I Walk The Earth’ at clubs. Django Django are also influenced by and, I believe related to The Beta Band. I am mostly stuck in the past.
However, these days I don’t feel the slightest need to put a piece of music in to a genre labelled box just to look cool. One advantage of getting old and being in to music is that you just like a piece of music or you don’t. These days I’ll happily admit to liking odd songs by Katie Perry and AC/DC and Squeeze. I know I wouldn’t have in the Brighton of the 90s. Brilliantly, the older you get, the less you also feel the need to listen to a piece of music and decide if it’s really Goa Trance or Acid Trance. You can just enjoy it for what it is.
Oh yeah. The social awkwardness thing. I asked a question of Jay in the Q&A part of the class and managed to crowbar in that I came from Brighton, supported the Albion and bought records at Rounder. Afterwards, preparing to leave, Damian Harris said hello to me. My brain was doing about 6 million things, all of which were ‘DAMIAN FUCKING HARRIS JUST SAID HELLO TO ME OH MY GOD’. Unfortunately the only thing that came out of my mouth was ‘er hello’ before I practically ran for the door, scared as the proverbial rabbit in the headlights. I doubt Damian will ever read this but I realise that this made me look like a grade A twat. That may seem a bit weak but I am as awkward in real life as I am garrulous on twitter and on my blog. An extroverted introvert I think a fellow blogger once called it.
Also I’d never met anyone who’d invented a proper musical genre before.

Fantastic post, Jason, thanks for contributing.  I used to love Big Beat - how cool is Norman Cook though? He was in one of the most influential bands ever in The Housemartins, then he had the huge hit with Beats International, then he launches Skint and reappears as Fatboy Slim.  He is a very talented man if you ask me.

As for Damian Harris, he was probably as nervous as you.  You never know he could be sat at home now thinking 'I wish I'd spoken to that bloke more, he seemed very nice'.  You know what you have to do, my friend - @generalisation - it's in your destiny...

Anyway, that's enough from me, I'm off to listen to some Lo-Fi Allstars, haven't heard them in bloody ages!

Thanks for reading everyone.

Loads of love

Simon S.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Musical Rant - "Is guitar music more sexist than electronic music?" by Roberta from Curxes

Have we got a treat for you today Session Bloggernists (sorry, I know that sounds shit, I will think of something better one day, when I can be arsed, I promise), we have a blog post written by the wonderful Roberta from the band Curxes.
A few days ago her bandmate Macaulay talked about his love of Sleigh Bells and now we have Roberta going on a musical rant about sexism in music and boy, are you lot in for a treat!  I am seriously thinking of jacking blogging in now as I just don't know how this post will ever be topped, it is an excellent read and Roberta has just become one of my favourite bloggers in the blogosphere, she is a natural.
Before I hand you over, if you haven't heard Curxes yet (they are as brilliant at music as they are blogging) I have posted a You Tube clip of their song 'Spectre' at the end of this post.
Anyway, without further ado, here's Roberta...

Guitar music is back! Well that’s great. If you need me at all, I’ll be in the kitchen eating fancy crisps and listening to Kraftwerk (“Tour de France” singalong, Monster Munch everywhere). It’s not that I have anything against guitar music at all. In fact, I used to be in a post-punk band with a horrendous Motley Crue-esque barnet, glitter make-up and the traditional guitars/bass/drums setup, but I’d just like to clear up a couple of things...
My first gripe is with you, ‘male guitar music elitist’ and that fun argument we always have about whether ‘synthesizers count as real instruments’ (further anger here) or that it’s ‘girl music’. You could ask someone at Moog perhaps what they’ve spent the last year doing arsing about with that fake piece of junk? But hold on, what’s that you’re running your guitar through? An effects pedal? Manufactured by Boss (part of the Roland group that builds synthesizers)? Which amplifies and manipulates the sound of your instrument?! And that kind of sounds like a Farfisa?! Shock horror! It’s electronic! You’re a fraud. It’s not real, man.
The second point I’d like to raise, which is more bothersome than anything but completely open for discussion, is the assumption that guitar music is ultimately a male-dominated game. In fact, my biggest trepidation about its ‘triumphant and imminent return’, comes in light of a few artful rants I saw online which protested against ‘fakers’ in the music industry. I read through what they had to say about 90s bandwagon-jumping (I like TLC but that’s as far as it goes), contrived US slang (when you’re from Surrey), the transient nature of cool (I listened to obscure jazz once, you know) and many other points which highlighted their disillusionment with a select few among their musical peers. I read their outpour in agreement for the most part, nodding along with the bit about smashing instruments in front of East London’s apathetic crowds (Unsureditch, as we like to call it), but then I felt a little uneasy...
There was a reference to girls in guitar bands, moreover, that the girls are only in those bands to boost things in the attractiveness stakes or to act as an ornament. This struck me as actually a little outdated and maybe even borderline offensive (see also: this ridiculous advert). I’m pleased to say that I’ve never received any unpleasant attention as a result of embracing circuitry fully and being a female electronic musician. True, I’ve had the odd snidey comment about the music as a whole, but then haven’t we all? You’ve got to ‘LOL’ with the punches. Or something. However, in my previous band, which was more guitar-orientated, I had to deal with constant grief for being a female in a guitar band. Inherently disrespectful comments ranged from “well, they’ve only got that far because they have a girl in the band” to the slightly more patronising remark whilst packing away equipment, “aww, and which band are you here to see sweetheart?” – in a little baby voice too? Ah, you really shouldn’t have! This then followed up with being pushed, jabbed at and harassed for the rest of the headline band’s set. On another occasion packing up gear, I was forcefully grabbed and pinned against the wall of a venue in soup-loving Covent Garden, because that’s standard if you’re the little girlio hanging out with the real musicians. It’s ok, he got thrown out. Arsehouse...
I have always written music as a way of articulating how I feel, maintaining it’s cheaper than counselling in the long run and provides an opportunity to be more eloquent than in real life, plus I have always been the primary songwriter. The notion that women in guitar bands are seen as no more than a visual commodity or novelty, without being recognized for their songwriting abilities/achievements, really effs me off and I bet there are hundreds like my old self dealing with this nonsense at every show they play (read all about it!). Sure, there are axe-wielding female musicians who are very visual or overtly sexual in their performance and media, but it is done so as an interpretation of their music which they write and comes from a place of empowerment. Moreover, the visual element is not present as a distraction from said music; it is an accompaniment to the “art”, or “choons” if you’re less pretentious. Take Polly Jean Harvey as an exemplar. She bares all lyrically, through dark wit and obviously sexual turns of phrase, only to get a reputation as a “man-hater” / psycho (as this satirical set of reviews highlights) but her dude-y equivalent gets to talk about his “no pussy blues” in a tongue-in-cheek way and is generally left to get on with it (hint: maybe you should get to know them properly first and form a meaningful connection? Haha, only joking Nick, you little rascal).
Maybe it’s my bad eyesight, but women in electronic music seem to be far more openly accepted and celebrated for their contributions to our life’s soundtrack in the last 50 years or so than women in the straight-up guitar music scene; Suzanne Ciani, Delia Derbyshire, Laurel Halo, Julia Holter, Gillian Gilbert, Grimes, Annie Lennox, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Laurie Spiegel, Daphne Oram, Leila, Alison Goldfrapp and so on (no sign of that changing this year either. Hi Chvrches & Polly Scattergood.). Their musical output is widely revered, respected and it would appear, more rapidly absorbed into the public consciousness than their guitar-wielding or guitar-backed contemporaries. Electronic music seems to give women the freedom to express themselves musically without their Top Trumps ‘prettiness’ ranking taking precedence (I think mine’s about 4 – still saving up for that boob job...). I struggle to reel off as many in the guitar realm who are solely known for their songwriting above their looks. Patti Smith? Suzi Quatro? What about The xx as a modern example (again, a Marmite choice for some of you)? There were some awful comments made after their Mercury Award win about Romy, their singer, primarily about her appearance rather than the musical merit of their minimal yet guitar-y first album. I always thought she looked more like Tracey Thorn, but there you go.
“Lipstick feminist!”, I hear you cry. Well, I just think it’s odd that there are so many differing standards between the two genres when they are both a valid part of the alternative music scene as a whole. As part of a male/female electronic duo, my bandmate Macca and I are treated with equal respect (and I thank him for his support in having read my venting). Is it because electronic music is more indebted to its female pioneers than guitar music? Is ‘sexist’ just the default nature of a corporate business which electronic/synthesizer music, somehow, is cleverly subverting? Is the whole “guitar music” thing just marketing bullxhit? Does it work both ways too, in that I can have naked bearded backing singers dangling freely (applicants should email a picture of themselves for consideration...)? Or perhaps I’m just looking at electronic music through Korg-tinted spectacles. In a recent post on her Tumblr blog, Pitchfork editor Laura Snapes called for a broader, more inclusive definition of the term “guitar music” and it’s certainly a welcome consideration. Maybe if that were the case, we wouldn’t hear about “token females” in bands and, perhaps, the other girl in my class at college would’ve stayed on and got her qualification instead of taking boisterous jibes to heart and leaving after only a year.
Out of interest, I Googled “female guitar music celebrated” & “female electronic music celebrated”. Not only was there a difference of 1,400,000 million results, but the top results for each were interesting too...
Guitar music:

Electronic music:

I also looked on Wikipedia for a tiny piece of credit for women with guitars:

P.S. If nothing else, we all stand together on Fanny, right?
P.P.S . Do Sleigh Bells count as guitar music or electronic music?
Over to you.

Thanks for contributing Roberta, if you and Macaulay ever want to write for Session Bloggers again you're always welcome to do so.  I'd love for you both to come back soon.

Before I go, as promised, here's a clip of the brilliant 'Spectre' by Curxes. Enjoy...

As always, thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you again soon.

Loads of love

Simon S.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

"Why I fucking love Sleigh Bells" by Macaulay from Curxes

Today I am chuffed to announce that we have a couple of very special guest posts coming up on Session Bloggers over the next few days - Macaulay and Roberta from the band Curxes.
I mentioned Curxes a few posts ago when I was listening to the Blog Sound Of 2013 Longlist.  At the time I referred to them as 'a more frantic version of Siouxie and The Banshees' but they're definitely more than that and just sound better and better after each listen.  At the end of this post there's a You Tube clip of their excellent song 'Haunted Gold' which I highly recommend you listen to.
Anyway, enough of me rabbiting on, I'm just the support act here today. 
First up we have Macaulay who kicks off our "Why I fucking love..." series by talking about Sleigh Bells.  Roberta's post will follow soon.
Over to you, Macaulay...
They’re noisy, visceral and fun, and whilst not necessarily considered the most “deep” of bands, they tick all my modern musical boxes. This is why...
We all know there are a plethora of great artists from the past 50 years and like many people, these make up the majority of my listening. I imagine it’s the same for much of the music-loving public too; because how can brand new artists compete with the likes of The Beatles and David Bowie when those artists experienced such dizzying heights during their respective heydays, as well as having their legacies fawned over in proceeding years?
Sadly, it’s unlikely that any artist starting out now will reach such heights, so surely they must try harder to be as attention-grabbing as possible, right?  In my eyes, yes – and this is what Sleigh Bells have done.
The songs are short, spiky and don’t outstay their welcome. They combine nursery rhyme-simplicity with repetitive riffs in short, three-minute bursts. One listen is usually enough to make a song stick in your head. It’s an amalgamation of genres from the last 30 years and sounds like it is – a band having fun. Fusing 80s hair metal with sickly sweet vocals, modern R’n’B beats and then distorting it all to within an inch of its life sounds like a terrible idea, but their aptly-named debut “Treats” succeeded in making people take notice when it emerged back in 2010.
They are a marmite band and it is a bit juvenile, but it’s essentially boisterous party music you can crank up loud without shame and “lose your shit” to. For me, music is essentially entertainment and should therefore be fun. Sleigh Bells are awesome live, insanely cool and actively coined the term “bangover”. It’s what I get every morning after I’ve seen them play.
Thanks for the great post, Macaulay.  I agree, there's just something about Sleigh Bells. They're so unique and 'Comeback Kid' was definitely one of my favourite songs of last year.

If anyone else out there fancies writing a post for our "Why I fucking love..." series then please comment below or tweet me @sessionblogger

Before I leave though, as promised, I'm leaving you with this...

Thanks for stopping by.


Simon S.

Friday, 11 January 2013

'The Early Nineties Were Easier' - Band No.5 : U2 by @TheJDaddy #TENWE

Today it's a beautiful day (okay, so that's even worse than the pun you will read in the post below, apologies), the wonderful Greg aka @TheJDaddy has written a post for Session Bloggers.

Greg blogs over at the brilliantly named Whiskey For Aftershave and I'm chuffed that he could take some time out from that to blog about his favourite early 90s band here.  He is another music fan who I bonded with over on twitter.  I highly recommend you follow him on there and visit his blog too.

Take it away, Greg...

Top bloke Simon (aka Session Blogger) has asked me to write a guest post for his blog. And how could I refuse? I’ve never done a guest post before, & the subject is one dearest to my heart after my family (of course): music.

And he asked so nicely. (The promise of a lifetime’s supply of Twiglets helped too).

He's started a series called 'The Early Nineties Were Easier" (#TENWE) & has invited me - and anyone else who wants to - to write about a favourite band from that era.

Well, I had to think about it. So I did that, & decided on the band I’d rave about.

Then I changed my mind.

The band I first thought of fitted with the rest in the series so far. They were huge in indie clubs and, although they have achieved great mainstream success & even had a big hit across the pond, they are first & foremost an indie band. I love them, & today they are still 1 of my favourite bands, 1 of only 2 I’ve been to see 3 times.

So why did I change my mind? I realised that I wasn’t actually into them at the time! As with most things in my life, I came in late. It wasn’t until the end of the decade that I came to love them. So, if I’m going to be honest – and I always try to be – I should write about the band I really was most into at the time. So I will.

In the early '90s my life was in a huge state of transition. I’ll spare you the details but I’d spent the '80s mixed up in fundamentalist religion, & my attitude to secular music would have done the Taliban proud. I considered it inherently corrupt & corrupting; to be avoided at all costs.

1990 was the year I escaped. I emerged, blinking & na├»ve, into what – for me - was a brave new world. I spent the next few years tentatively feeling my way into the real world, slowly breaking free from the chains in which I’d been bound. A major part of that was catching up on a lost decade of music! As cheesy as it seems to me now, Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman’s Radio 1 show 'Pick of the Pops' became one of the most important things in my life! I still have many of them on cassette tape.

I heard a song on the radio which I loved, although I didn’t know what it was or who it was by. So I went into Tower Records in Piccadilly Circus, went up to the nearest till & said to the guy there:

“I’ve heard this song that I really like & I don’t know what it is. It’s live, it features a great Gospel choir, & it’s something about ‘what I’m looking for’. Do you know what it is?“.

To the lad’s eternal credit his wry smile didn’t appear to contain even a hint of sarcasm, as he straight away went off to fetch the record in question.

He came back with an album from 1987 called 'Rattle & Hum'. By some outfit called ‘U2’. You may have heard of them. *ducks to avoid any thrown bottles & various types of fruit*

I hadn’t. I kid you not.

So I bought the album: my first album purchase as an adult. And I loved the album, & the song, & still do. The song pretty much summed up my life at the time, & to this day I find it trremendously moving every time I hear it. Always will I think.

I found what I was looking for! (Sorry – couldn’t resist…)

I then discovered 'Rattle & Hum' s predecessor 'The Joshua Tree' & immediately had a new all-time favourite band & album.

“OK”, you say, “you bought the albums in the early '90s, but it’s still the music of the '80s!”. Fair enough. But then in 1991 U2 brought out ‘Achtung Baby', a ‘comeback’ album, & one that is regarded by many – myself included - as their other great album along with ‘The Joshua Tree’.

Bought it, played it, loved it, still do. Later did the gig & bought the T-shirt. Which I still wear! ‘Zoo Station’, ‘Even Better Than the Real Thing’, ‘Until the End of the World’,’Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses?’, ‘The Fly’: great rock with added electronica; ‘So Cruel’, a classic intense slow-burner; & this 'one' - my favourite - melts my heart every time I hear it: electrifying, achingly beautiful.

U2, for my sins, was the soundtrack to my life in the early '90s. I still have in mind maybe to one day write a post called 'How U2 Kept Me Sane'.

And my first, discarded, choice? Probably much cooler, sorry: maybe another time! So I'll end with my favourite song of theirs from the time:

Thanks for the brilliant post, Greg. It's a fantastic story, still can't get over the fact you didn't listen to any music in the 80s - don't know what I would've done without my regular fix of Wham!

I think that was my favourite period for U2 as well, even though I love 'The Joshua Tree', 'Achtung Baby' really reminds me of that era, when we were learning to drive and that was one of the tapes we always had in the car.  I really think you should write the 'How U2 kept me sane' post, would love to read that too.

As a special treat for writing a great post (and cause I'm all out of Twiglets), I have added both U2's 'One' and 'Out to get you' by James to the Spotify playlist here - The Early Nineties Were Easier #TENWE

Until next time, thanks for reading everyone.


Simon S.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

'The Early Nineties Were Easier' - Band No.4 : Carter USM' by @KevTheHornet #TENWE

It has finally happened!!! We have our first official Session Blogger (bar me) to contribute a post to the blog!  *Takes deep breath* Sorry, it's just too much to take in.

Anyway, I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce you to @KevTheHornet - we bonded a while back on twitter about early 90s music hence why I'm very pleased to have him here to write a post about his favourite band from that era.  Kev's blog can be found here - Not Just Another Blog II  He also runs a music blog over at Hornetmusic where he features great new / unsigned UK Indie bands.

Once you've read his post below I highly recommend you pop over there for a butchers and also follow him on @hornetmusic (as well as @KevTheHornet of course).

Anyway, that's enough from me, this isn't my blog post - over to you Kev...

So what’s this you ask?! Well my mate Simon (AKA Sessionblogger) contacted me to ask if I fancied contributing to his new series “TENWE” or The Early Nineties Were Easier – a nostalgic look back at some of the bands and music that carved our own love of music today.

Being a Nineties Indie kid, now a slightly older but still loving “indie” kid, how could I refuse?  The only dilemma I had was what music to feature – anyhow I have settled on one of the best 90s bands that in fact I stumbled across purely by chance…

In the late 80s /early 90s you could rent music CDs and casette tapes from my local library. It cost less than a quid a week to rent these, so it was perfect for me to get down to my local “Woolies” buy a pack of ten 90 minute TDK casette tapes and copy the music I borrowed. Kind of an early day Piratebay, i suppose, but it was a cheap and easy way for us poor student types to obtain great music for a small price. I would visit the library each week and stock up on the latest music I was into, and more often than not decided to borrow other tapes and CDs just coz the band or artist were on the same record label as ones I already knew and loved – or in this case, just ’cause the cover looked “cool!

…And there began my love of Carter USM!

From the first strains of “You Fat Bastard” on “Surfin USM” I was hooked!  In fact my parents grew sick of hearing that album as I played it over and over again.  It still remains one of my all time favourite albums,  there are no stand out tracks its just a great album from start to finish.

But, if I had to chose one to highlight what a great album this is (for those who dont already know) it would have to be this one – “A Prince in a Pauper's Grave”  …blinding!

I was amazed to find the above video on Youtube because Carter USM were also the first ever “proper” live gig I went to… and my first ever trip to the fabulous (or it seemed it back then!) Brixton Academy.  The date was 9th November 1991 – 6 days after my sixteen birthday – an age when my parents finally agreed I was old enough to go to a gig without them!  I remember it well -Carter were supported by The Inspiral Carpets - another of those highly underrated nineties indie bands.  It has to go down as one of the best gigs I have been to, simply because they were two of my favourite bands of the time, I was allowed there with my mates – and we managed to pursuade the bar staff we were old enough to buy beers!  I even managed to get a bootleg copy of the concert on cassette tape a few weeks later! The above video is actually from the gig I went to and brings back some great memories!

And so my love of Carter USM was born.  Of course, I went back to the library and “borrowed” Carters first album “101 Damnations”, but when “1992 The Love Album” was released I actually went to Record House in Thame (Oxon) and purchased it!  Another fantastic album added to collection, and if you want some final proof have a listen to Jimbob's version of “The Impossible Dream” sung live on TOTP in their bid for Xmas Number one – they didnt make it!, but the song is great anyway, and a great way to sign off this blog post.

Thanks for your brilliant contribution Kev, Carter were a unique band who I sorely miss, although they are still touring so if anyone reading this never did get to see them live, check them out. 

Kev, you can now add that you are officially a 'Session Blogger' to your CV - it will open up numerous opportunities I'm sure (or more than likely close them, give it a go and let me know).  We hope you'll come back soon and write another post for us.

Anyway, I've added 'A Prince in a Pauper's Grave' to the Spotify playlist here - The Early Nineties Were Easier #TENWE

If anyone reading this was / still is a fan of early 90s music then we'd love you to write a post for Session Bloggers as well - please comment below or tweet me @sessionblogger - the playlist is only 4 songs long at the moment, we need more!!!

Thanks for stopping by.

Lots of love

Simon S.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Something old, something new, something borrowed #1 - what I've been listening to recently‏

Welcome to another new series on Session Bloggers.  Here we'll be talking about what we've been listening to recently.

And although no-one is getting married here today, we have decided to split the music into old, new and borrowed categories just to give a bit of variety. We've missed out the blue bit as we're worried it might limit us and no-one really wants to get to the stage where they have to listen to an album by Deep Blue Something do they?  If they did actually have more than one song, I can't really be arsed to find out.

Oh, and in true Session Bloggers' style, we will also be collating a Spotify playlist alongside the series, you can listen to a song by each of the artists featured below here - Something old, something new, something borrowed

So, anyway, to kick things off, and to give you an idea of what I'm bloody talking about :

Something old I've been listening to recently - Bobbie Gentry

I first discovered Bobbie's music when Sinead O'Connor covered 'Ode to Billie Joe' on the Warchild 'Help' album in the 90s. It was a great version but listening to Bobbie's acoustic version now just blows me away. She just has such a unique voice, and the feeling within it just makes you listen so closely to evey word.  It's only recently though that I've discovered the album of the same name and also a later album of hers 'Fancy'.

The 'Billie Joe' album is a corker, kicking off with 'Mississippi Delta', which again showcases how powerful Bobbie's vocals were. Another of my favourites on the album is 'Chickasaw County Child' with the brilliant line "Looky here dumpling, you'll go far cause you've got style" which I am going to call my album once I get around to forming a band one day. Please don't steal it.

'Fancy' is a great album too but whereas Gentry wrote all but one of the songs on 'Billie Joe', only two of the songs on 'Fancy' were hers.  The main highlight on the latter though is 'Find 'Em, Fool 'Em, Forget About 'Em' which is the song I'm going to sing at my X Factor audition when I finally make it to one.  It will be shit, I warn you now but, in true X Factor fashion, I will convince myself that I am actually good.

I still need to catch up on her other albums but, until that happens, I highly recommend you check out these two beauties.

Song added to Spotify playlist - ''Find 'Em, Fool 'Em, Forget About 'Em'

Something new I've been listening to recently - Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Okay, so they're not technically 'new' but they are 'new-ish' and they recently had a new song out and have a new album out soon, and it's my blog, so I am classing them as 'new'. 

I was actually going to include UMO in my recent blog post about '5 bands to fall in love with in 2013'. However, I'd already written about them in my '31 (yes, 31!) Bands to fall in love with in 2012' last year and didn't want to eat my own hat 2 years running as I don't think many people did fall in love with them then.

However, I believe their time has now come and here are 5 reasons why :

1. Their new single 'Swim and Sleep' is excellent and you can hear it on the Spotify playlist I'm collating. Go on, have a listen!

2. It's about time a band from New Zealand was massive, I think the last one was Crowded House. I'm probably wrong though. Flight of the Conchords definitely deserved to be as big, very funny men.

3. They will be spurred on by Tame Impala's success last year. As already mentioned, UMO are from New Zealand (well, some of them are anyway) and, if you weren't aware, Tame Impala are from Australia. There is great rivalry there and the former will be driven by that.

4. Again, to mention Tame Impala - they only really achieved mass recognition in the music press on the release of their 2nd album, UMO are due to release their 2nd album in 2013.

5. UMO are heavily endorsed by The Vaccines and they always include them on their Spotify playlists.

So there you have it. I am predicting now that they will be voted No.1 in the NME Album of the Year poll next year. I don't have any hats left in my house but will consume my favourite scarf if I'm wrong (which I probably will be).

Song added to Spotify playlist - 'Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)'

Something borrowed I've been listening to recently - #blogsound2013 playlist by @glamourfaded

When I say borrowed it might be a recommendation from someone you've seen on twitter, it might be your dad's CD you've borrowed. Here, I've just nicked a playlist from @saamFG , editor of the music/film/telly blog Faded Glamour and listened to it.

The playlist covers the shortlist of bands voted in #blogsound2013 , an annual list, voted for by 49 of the best music blogs in the UK (we're not one of them), to decide which new band is most likely to make it in 2013.

The winners this year, announced yesterday, were Haim. Worthy winners in my opinion, I must have mentioned them in nearly every blog post of mine since we launched so won't talk about them anymore in this one.

It's a crackin' playlist. Other acts we feel are worth a mention are Palma Violets (okay, so it's an obvious comparison, but they're a bit Libertines-y), Chvrches (electro band from Glasgow, very catchy), AlunaGeorge (remind me a bit of Morcheeba, very good), Curxes (like a more frantic version of Siouxie and The Banshees, definitely a grower), Laura Mvula (beautiful, soulful vocals, great harmonies, love this one), Rhye (nice - sorry that's a bit of a shit description I just can't think of anything else to say at the moment) and Daughter (slow, dreamy vocals. Quite nice). But have a listen and decide for yourself. And remember there's only one song by each artist on the playlist, you need to listen to some more of their stuff to get more of an idea as to the depth of their sound (apologies if that sounds a bit wanky).  Anyway, the playlist is here if you want to have a listen, well worth it - Blog Sound Of 2013 Longlist

Song added to Spotify playlist - 'Send me down' by Haim

So there we go. If you fancy writing a similar post for Session Bloggers about what old, new and borrowed music you've been been listening to recently then please comment below or contact me on twitter - @sessionblogger - and I'll get in touch.

Thanks for reading, if you've skipped bits here and there, I really don't blame you.


Simon S.