Seen and Heard…

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1. Last Saturday, I saw the brilliant Duke Special live. There’s nobody quite like him; he combines pop, folk, cabaret, theatre and storytelling along with fantastic musicianship and a beautiful voice to make a great performance every time I see him play. And he has the best Belfast accent I’ve ever heard…swoon. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=queSqeVcLY4)

2. The week before last, I saw My Vitriol play their first gig in five years at Koko, London. While I was admittedly skeptical about the fact they are still touring an album 13 years old, they still sounded great and this week I can’t get enough of Finelines. It’s a true classic album that isn’t showing it’s age at all.

3. My band of the week this week, MS MR.

4. This week, I went to see the ridiculous Spanish comedy, I’m So Excited. It made me laugh out loud, a lot and I reviewed it here.

5. On Monday night, I went along to Longitude, a monthly night showcasing some of the acts that will be performing at this year’s Latitude festival. This month’s featured Luke Wright, an Essex lad turned poet with poetry covering subjects such as broad as the Essex Lion to Nigel Farage, Lucy Beaumont, a breaking female comedian with a host of witty one-liners, Pappy’s, one of the best sketch groups out there who had the whole audience in fits of laughter and Nick Mulvey, whose dreamy acoustic sounds provided a perfect close for the evening and made me dream of lying in a field. Hurry up festival season!
A busy week for me, what have you been watching and listening to this week?

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Love Music?

Today’s post is a bit of a thoughtful one but it’s something that’s important to me and I think it’s important that the conversations on it don’t stop.

I’ve always considered myself a true music lover- whether I’m on the tube, sat at work or cooking dinner, there is nearly always a soundtrack to what I’m doing and my favourite past time is going to gigs and festivals and hearing new bands. Of course, I spend a large amount on gig tickets as live music is a passion for me but I’ve also been a Spotify advocate since it launched in the U.K. as I really do believe the opportunity to hear new music legally is so valuable- I consume so much music that it would simply be impossible for me to buy all the albums I want to hear, unless I win the lottery.  It’s a great way for bands to get exposure as you can stumble across things you would never have listened to otherwise and we have never had more freedom of choice or independence to discover new music for ourselves than we do with services like Spotify. But as a result, it became so easy for me to consume all the music I wanted at the push of a button that I stopped purchasing physical CD’s or even digital downloads.

However, recently a debut album I was excited about was released but, on the day before the release it materialised that the band were making  the brave decision not to put it on any streaming services for a little while, to encourage people to buy it.  At first, I was a little bit indignant; why should they be any different? There are so many bands fighting for us to hear their music, why should they expect that we would make the effort for them over all the others?  But I very quickly realised that it wasn’t them at fault- it’s me.  The particular band in question a band who are doing reasonably well for themselves and getting a good name amongst music fans and critics but  they have recently left their jobs in an attempt to make music full-time so they need the support of album sales and ticket sales to make that possible.  I happen to know that about them but  they almost certainly aren’t alone, I’m sure this is a common situation for a young band or musician to find themselves in. And, as a result, I wandered over to my local record store (the wonderful Rough Trade West, for anyone in need of a recommendation) and picked up their album. Not only did I feel good in the knowledge I was supporting them and hopefully enabling them to continue making and releasing music but I enjoyed the experience- there’s something to be savoured in flicking through the CD’s or vinyls and making your choice, listening to what’s playing in the shop and maybe coming across something you didn’t expect to find, then coming home with your new purchase and putting it on for the first time, while leafing through the sleeve notes- it is way more of an experience than pressing play on Spotify will ever be.

So, from here on in I’m making a resolution and I’m quite ashamed I’m only making it now: I am going to make a real effort to buy more albums. (Better late than never!)  And not from Amazon, either but supporting independent record shops, the lovely hidey holes that they are.  Record Store Day gets a huge response, every year, but how many people then go on to use those record shops on the other 364 days of the year, when it’s not so hyped?  You can go through every  overdone argument in the book- you wouldn’t borrow all your clothes, why would you borrow your music etc etc, but the fact is simple- if we don’t start paying properly for our music, someone has to and there’s a genuine concern that the money will run out. Of course, I won’t be able to buy everything I listen to, so my Spotify subscription is going to continue, for making my playlists and going on listening binges but I love music and I think musicians need our support, now more than ever.

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Band of the Week #3: Findlay

This weekend, I headed up to the North for Live At Leeds Festival 2013, which has given me plenty of inspiration for my band of the week. Although the main attraction for me was Everything Everything (by far my favourite band of the moment) it was a great opportunity to also check out some new artists in some of the city’s many great music venues. (More on them to come later…)

But for now, on to my band of the week. Findlay make classic sounding bluesy rock and roll, led by the husky, powerful vocals of Natalie Findlay. Her charm and charisma on stage was infectious and I soon found myself well and truly drawn in by their big riffs and punchy singalong melodies. I’m pretty sure the men in the audience were transfixed by her and most of us girls looked on in envy at her effortless style and great voice.

Admittedly, I don’t think there is anything particularly original about what Findlay do but not everyone can be an innovator and in my opinion, there’s always room for new, good quality rock and roll, particularly when it’s fronted by a girl with a big personality and even bigger vocal chords!

Have a listen, turn it up and enjoy, and have a great bank holiday!

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Band of the Week #2: Public Service Broadcasting

I’ve known about Public Service Broadcasting for quite a while and while I enjoyed their music well enough, they’ve never quite grabbed me and made me want to press repeat but, their latest release, Signal 30 and the B side New Dimensions in Sound have meant they’ve turned a corner for me. It’s not often you can honestly say a new band has a unique sound but PSB build  instrumental tracks around old samples they’ve drawn from radio and news archives and turn them into complex and often moving soundtracks. At first, I honestly thought this idea had little in the way of longevity but the more they release, the more I’ve decided that they offer substance as well as style and I’m really looking forward to the release of their LP, ‘Inform, Educate, Entertain,’ next month.

While ‘Signal 30’ is the lead single and the one getting radio play at the moment, I personally prefer the ‘B side,’ New Dimensions In Sound- I’m drawn in instantly by  the beautiful, dreamy beginning to the track which soon descends into rocky chaos.

If you like what you hear, they are just about to embark on a huge UK tour which is selling out fast, so check out the tourdates on their webpage: http://publicservicebroadcasting.net/

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Band of the Week #1: Half Moon Run

One of life’s pleasures for me is seeking out new music- I can quite happily lose hours to Soundcloud and Spotify, exploring new and old releases I haven’t heard before.  It’s part of the modern world to curate our own soundtracks now and although some people criticise the ‘throw-away’ attitude many people now have to music, I think it’s fantastic that we are freer than ever to dig out things that suit our tastes that might not necessarily be number one in the charts or bands who haven’t yet been NME’s flavour of the month.

So, I’ve decided to try and share a new discovery each week with you- I can’t guarantee it will be an obscure choice but I assure you that my picks will always be something I’ve been enjoying and would like to share.

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Half Moon Run

Canadian band Half Moon Run are about to have their time. Fact. Their latest single, ‘Full Circle’ has already been picked up for plenty of airtime on the radio station of music affecionados,  BBC 6 Music . The summery feel to their music should help push them into the limelight in the UK (and a tour with the Mumfords won’t do them any harm in terms of publicity.)

Although they only really seem to have released ‘Full Circle’ in the U.K. sofar, they’ve recently signed to Glassnote for a full global release for their debut album DARK EYES in 2013 but if you’re keen and don’t want to wait, you can listen to it in full online here: http://halfmoonrun.bandcamp.com/  I’ve really been enjoying Full Circle but ‘Give Up’ is also a standout track for me- a dreamy (and undeniably Radiohead-esque) track.

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