November 2008

One of my favourite TV series is finally back on the air. It basically involves a very grumpy man, sitting on his own, in his house, swearing and shouting at the television in the crudest eloquence you’ve ever heard. And it’s bloody wonderful.

Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe, is the most fun I ever have watching TV, and it’s so simple. There really is nothing like watching someone just get totally enraged by something, and the use of Tim Key’s poetry (this series) or David Firth’s animations (previous series) help to break it up a little. The nicest thing is when Charlie finds himself actually liking something, and describing it in the same verbose and brilliant way he does when he’s slagging things off. To watch this series, keep checking BBC iPlayer, and for all the previous four series the wonderful xthemusic channel is a godsend.

I really, really urge you to watch it – it manages to be hilarious, informative and occasionally enraging (at the disgusting habits of the TV Industry) constantly.

Grandaddy – AM 180

I don’t know why I haven’t blogged about him fully yet (apart from my Reading Review), and I don’t know why no-one else has blogged about him much yet, but Esser is just amazing. Eschewing many instruments in favour of samples and with the yearning vocals of a forlorn madman, every song is noticably his, but none of them are the same.

I have a really, really bad memory, so the fact that every time I hear a new song by him I remember it from watching them in Reading this summer is really quite something. I actually bumped into him at a club in Newcastle (after I missed his gig that night – annoying to say the least) and he seemed like a nice enough guy. Well, I say nice enough, he was absolutely hammered and started dancing with one of my friends. So that has only improved my opinion of him.

Listen to the samba-whirlwind of “Satisfied” and then investigate him further, he’ll put his songs in your head, and then they’ll never go away. In a good way, I promise.

Esser – Satisfied

Well wouldn’t you know it, even I’ve been tracked down and censored. I got a lovely little message in my inbox telling me that my 3rd (and final) post about Reading this year had been removed as I’ve been infringing copyright. Now to be honest, I don’t think many people read this, and I really only keep it up because it’s cathartic, and the fact that I know there must be a few people who are interested in my views.

The fact this has happened won’t stop me blogging, as I think it truly is the future of music promotion (despite my late jump on the bandwagon) and I personally think I’m doing the artists a service. It’s happened to a lot of great blogs, including one of my personal faves, Dirty Sexy Music, and I personally think it’s ridiculous. Any music blog will post mp3s, and any reputable blog will have a disclaimer saying that they’re for sampling purposes. Mine certainly are, I want music to continue being made, and frankly major labels don’t generally produce good music anymore, so the word has to get out about lesser-known bands somehow. What better way than the personal opinions of thousands of music lovers?

Ah well, on with the show.

Mumford & Sons – Hold On To What You Believe

Last night, my lovely girlfriend and I got the positive pleasure of heading to Newcastle’s Carling Academy to watch V.V. Brown and Ida Maria (and for free no less, thank you guestlist). The gig itself was wonderful, V.V. Brown was a fireball of soulful, poppy fun, a mix of ’50s guitar rhythms, ’70s funk and ’00s Amy Winehouse vocals. Ida Maria was her usual effervescent self, mixing the punk explosion of “Oh My God” with the husky-voiced loveliness of “Keep Me Warm” and generally making everyone who knew her there smile.

But that’s precisely the point. Half the people there didn’t know who she was. Of course, a song like “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked” was always going to be a hit, but that’s not always a good thing. For example, three girls in front of us literally didn’t know a single song other than that one. And they were on the barrier. And they didn’t dance. And they didn’t fucking applaud. I mean seriously, if you’re going to pay to go to a gig, make a bloody effort to enjoy yourself, don’t just treat the performance like some kind of trial for the ultimate reward of the one song you know. And it wasn’t just them, at the very least a quarter of the crowd seemed to know one, or at best two, songs that she did. The local support band before V.V. Brown (who were excellent, and who I never caught the name of annoyingly) were subjected to football chants and general idiocy just because people were waiting for Ida. It’s a massive shame because, like I’ve said, the gig was wonderful, and I still had a lot of fun, but Cat and I both came out feeling slightly pissed off that we seemed to be the only people who went for more than just 3 minutes of dancing. Frankly, if you don’t know the headline artist of a fairly major gig, don’t take up space at the front where the real fans want to stand, especially if you don’t want to have the courtesy to at least listen to the music you don’t know. Idiots.

Ida Maria – Oh My God
V.V. Brown – Quick Fix

The same friend who helped me discover Jenny Lewis (see last post), reminded me of another band who I really fell in love with, despite never hearing a whole lot of their stuff. Kent’s GoodBooks make wonderfully swirling, soaring songs, peppered with electronic effects and tasty, tasty reverb.

I first heard their song Leni on XFM (London’s best music station – fact) and, despite needing to get to the bus in the morning, I had to stay until the end to find out who was making this amazing noise. Now, having been reminded of just how much I loved this song (and their most successful single, Passchendaele), I’m going to go and hunt down their debut album, Control. Take a listen and see if you agree with me!

GoodBooks – Leni

You know when you hear about an artist, hear how great they are, how you should listen to them, and you never actually do? And then you hear it and kick yourself for ignoring them for so long. Yep, it’s happened to me again with Jenny Lewis.

It took actually being handed a CD with a couple of her songs on it to get me to listen, but listen I did and love it I did even more. Jack Killed Mom is a brilliant build-up song, bluesy to begin with, with a very direct story (which is always nice and compelling) before exploding into a gospel anthem in the last minute or so. I can’t help but be reminded of the church scene in Blues Brothers, which will never, ever fail to bring a smile to my face anyway.

Now listen and don’t make my mistake!

Jenny Lewis – Jack Killed Mom