Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Band of the Week: McFly

Thought I should probably have something that I can post regularly, to get me to remember I actually have a blog. Every week or so, I'll just pick a band I love to talk about, be it the band themselves, a concert/album/song of theirs or how I came across them. This week, I've picked McFly. They're a British pop-rock band who first gained attention in 2004. Indeed, that's when I first heard of them. Actually, the first time I heard of them was when I saw them play as support to Busted in March of that year. And, oh, they were so young. I would've been 13 at the time, it was one of my first concerts (the first being Atomic Kitten) and both my sister and I were pretty huge fans of Busted. I think we spent the time before the start of the show reading the little leaflet about the two support acts. I was amazed to find that the youngest member of McFly was at that time only 3 years older than me, just 16. I hadn't really got into music at this point and I had this perception of bands as being in at least their 20s if not older. Weird, I know. But anyway, straying from the point here.

I was much more enamoured with McFly than my sister was. I got their debut album for my 14th birthday, defended them against my friends who said they were too much like Busted and generally maintained a love of them throughout my time at secondary school, even as I started delving into more alternative music. McFly for me have always been amazing, no matter how poppy or mainstream they may be. They have a rock edge that when they first started out wasn't really visible in the British charts, at least not to my 13 year old self.

So I held onto them and strangely enough, it's some of their tracks that have got me through when I've been feeling low. And I mean, really low. Unlike so many people I know, I didn't fall back on the alternative, angry or emo. I dived straight into Radio: ACTIVE, Room On The Third Floor and Motion In The Ocean. I saw no point in hiding in music full of negative emotion when I could lighten the mood with some good pop sensibility.

There's been a slow, but noticeable progression in McFly's music. From the pop-rock, slightly Beatles-inspired beginnings of Room On The Third Floor, they've headed further down the rock route, culminating in 2008's Radio: ACTIVE, my second favourite McFly album after ROOTF. I love that progression. It shows they've matured, along with their fans, who are probably mostly around my age. Radio: ACTIVE also had some great moments in which the band acknowledged their position as a radio, chart-friendly band and laughed in the face of all the haters. One For The Radio took the comments about them being poppy and meaningless and accepted it. Yes, they are a pop-rock band. Yes, they do make music that's enjoyed by what I commonly, derogatively term teeny-boppers. But to many, including me, their music has more meaning than a lot of the chart stuff.

Imagine my horror when I heard their first single from their upcoming 5th album. Party Girl took all that pop-rock goodness and, on first listen at least, threw it away. I hated it. It's all electro, synths and POP. Just pop. And with electro and synth stuff being so big in the charts recently, I couldn't help but think that one of my favourite bands had gone and jumped on the bandwagon. Any alternative, rock, metal band had done this, it'd be called selling-out, but you can't sell out if you've already sold out, right? That makes little sense, but I know what I mean. Try as I might, I can't get myself to like Party Girl. I've listened to it so many times and every time, my brain just tells me it's not McFly. If I say anything though, especially on sites where there are other fans, I get bashed. Why? Because all bands change. I know this, I've used it as an argument against haters before. I've seen other bands I love change over their careers. But there's change and there's jumping on the bandwagon because that's what'll sell. I wasn't impressed.

I was so relieved when I heard their next single, Shine A Light. I'd decided to check out their live stream from the video shoot for the song for some reason. And, dear god, was I happy. So, OK, it's still not quite the McFly I know and love, but it's better than Party Girl. Heaps better than Party Girl. It's Shine A Light, more than anything else, that has convinced me that I need the album when it comes out. Not want. NEED. Because my library is so full of alternative, rock, metal and all that jazz (but not jazz, oddly), that it's in need of a good pop boost. So, I'm waiting not-so-patiently for November 1st and the release of album number 5: Above The Noise and another dose of McFly scrumminess.

Assorted McFly links:
Official site


Recommended Tracks (album):
5 Colours In Her Hair, Surfer Babe, That Girl, Not Alone (Room On The Third Floor)
Ultraviolet (Wonderland)
Transylvania, Silence Is A Scary Sound, Friday Night (Motion In The Ocean)
Down Goes Another One, Corrupted, Lies, One For The Radio (Radio: ACTIVE)

...is it painfully obvious I'm not so keen on Wonderland?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

PureVolume Wanderings: -abilly

I decided this afternoon to go and hop across PureVolume using their wonderful "Random Profile Jump" wotsit. I'd been in the mood for psychobilly (largely thanks to finding Tiger Army's Early Years EP for a decent price on iTunes) so I figured I'd look up some punk/psycho/rockabilly bands instead of doing my usual random jumping from page to page until I find a band that looks interesting. So, I set the Random Jump on rockabilly (cos the damn thing doesn't have a psychobilly option) and set off on my little adventure.

First to come up was the HorrorPops. They're one of those bands I'd heard of but never actually listened to. Pleasant surprise for me then, when it turns out they're awesome. The vocals are reminiscent of the all-female punk rock group Civet (who you can find here) with a slightly softer edge. As with most pages on PureVolume, there's only a few tracks there to listen to, but they really do sound awesome and I'm definitely going to have to look up some more of their work. Good psychobilly stuff there.

Next random profile was Roger Miret and the Disasters. More of a punk edge on these guys - not so much of the rockabilly influence, especially on "Once Were Warriors". Again, great stuff that I'm going to have to do some more looking up for.

Third up was The Tossers. I had to smile at the name. The Tossers? Really? Oh well, I've seen weirder band names. And the music more than makes up for it. Folk/Celtic punk in the vein of The Pogues. This immediately makes them awesome. And also, I have to remember to grab the rest of my dad's Pogues stuff at some point... Ahem, moving on. I can imagine this stuff being sung while very drunk in a pub. There's some good choruses that're just right for singing/shouting along to - just what you need when you're drunk. Especially in No Loot, No Booze, No Fun. It's just made for drunken singing!

After that came Kings of Nuthin'. Wasn't so keen on these guys, but that's just a personal thing - they're still a great band, more punkabilly, I suppose. Loving the piano intro on "Only Time". Brilliance. There's a kind of retro feel to them, possibly helped by the sax and the slightly jazzy, bluesy feel to the tracks. Bear in mind, I am useless at putting things into proper genres, so when I say jazzy/bluesy, it might not be what is actually considered jazzy/bluesy. But anyways, moving on...

And finally, my favourite out of these bands, Mad Marge and the Stonecutters. I pretty much fell in love with these guys as soon as "Shake" started playing. Again, female-fronted, psychobilly wonderfulness. I think I'm in love with the lass's voice - much amazingness. And before this descends into a babble about just how much I love them, I think we'll end this post.

All of the bands mentioned have pages on PureVolume - stick 'em in the search box to find 'em. All except Mad Marge and the Stonecutters have some tracks available for free download from said PureVolume pages.

So, check 'em out, let me know what you think and pass it on.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Current love: Japanese Voyeurs

So, after that lovely ramble of an introductory blog, I thought I should write about something slightly more interesting. MUSIC! After all, that's why I created this thing. Here goes.

I came across Japanese Voyeurs a few months back. February? March, maybe? Sometime near the beginning of the year, anyways. They were in Kerrang!'s Introducing... article one week and for some reason I decided to check 'em out. Turns out, I pretty much fell in love at first listen. And I'm still not entirely sure what I love so much about them. Romily Alice's vocals are amazing - swinging between an atonal drown and an ear-splitting shriek and yet in between those two extremes, she has such a sweet voice. And the music itself - definitely grunge sounding, but definitely not grunge as most people know it. Most tracks follow the whole "quiet verse, loud, heavy chorus" pattern, which is pretty normal for grunge, but Alice's vocals, combined with some of the more unusual moments of music definitely put them slightly outside of "traditional" grunge. I found one article online which described them as spaz-grunge and as yet, I think that's possibly the best tag I've found. Doesn't apply to all of JV's music, but it'll do for now.

Anyway, having gorged myself on the tracks that were on their myspace page, I decided I needed to download a few tracks, so I headed over to the UK iTunes store, hoping. Bearing in mind, the UK store is notoriously bad at actually having the music I want, but considering Japanese Voyeurs are English, I thought I was in with a good chance of finding something. And I did - That Love Sound/Blush, a double A-side single. Happy times for me. So I played that on repeat. A LOT. I then discovered that the band had the song Dumb available for free download. More happy times. And then I realised that Dumb actually came from an EP - Sicking and Creaming - that was released in 2009. Try as I might, I couldn't find a download for the other two tracks anywhere. I gave up after a while.

A few months later, I set up a group on deviantART for music reviews. A couple of weeks after setting it up, I decided I wanted to review something by Japanese Voyeurs. I looked again for the rest of the Sicking and Creaming EP and once again only came up with physical format - vinyl at that, which is useless because I have no record player. It got to the point where I was posting on Twitter about how annoying this was. It's a good job I did, because their manager got in touch and kindly offered to send me the mp3 files. I could've hugged him. Suffice to say, the review was very positive - you can read it here.

Several months down the line, I discover the band have made Smother Me available for free download ahead of the release of their debut album. This caused a major flailing moment for me, in which there was much squeaking and waving of arms and general hyperventilating. I should point out this is my normal reaction to music. So, now I'm just waiting for the album. And hoping madly that I'll be able to find some way of getting it in Australia.

Smother Me is available for free download via JV's myspace page. As far as I'm aware, no release date has been given for the album, but I'm guessing before the end of the year. Check 'em out, let me know what you think and pass it on.

Blogs? Music? IATSATH? What the hell?

Hello, random people of the internet variety.

Would you look at that - I created a blog. Oh dear. And it's going to consist of musings and random thoughts about music type things. For musings and random thoughts read: babbling. As if I didn't do that enough already, I now have somewhere specific to do it. I suppose it'll save my friends from having to listen to me ramble about bands they've never heard of or the fact that there are no good gig venues in the city I'm currently living in and no (cheap) way of getting to anywhere with decent gigs until I go back to England next year. Oh look, the rambling's started already.

IATSATH, as explained in that little box in the sidebar, is my standard username. It's quite simply the initials of the first line of How Soon Is Now? by The Smiths - "I am the son and the heir". Contrary to the common misconception due to this, I'm female, not male. I just love the song. You'll find me as IATSATH on a few other sites as well. Last.FM is probably most relevant to this. You can find my account here, complete with my taste in music. It's fairly varied, although I know there are a lot of people with a lot more varied taste than me.

Anything else I need to mention in this first post? Um... oh, I tend to obsess over bands. So be warned that there may be random posts in which I gush madly about a band I've just found out about, or an upcoming album or a gig. My apologies.

Right, that'll do for now. G'bye, folks.