Thursday, December 15, 2011

Review: Duchess Says at Norwich Arts Centre, 14/12/11

Duchess Says at Norwich Arts Centre, 14/12/11 (support from Throwing Up)
Genre: Indie/electro-punk

Kicking off the night's festivities are London three piece Throwing Up. Their brand of punk is pretty old school and it's a wonderfully dirty sound. Good crunchy guitars, solid riffs and catchy vocals. That said, the songs tended to sound a little samey. The crowd seemed to be enjoying it though.

Moving on from their set, Canadian electro-punks Duchess Says took to the stage. Oh my, what a set. Vocalist Annie-Claude Deschênes dances like a madwoman and she bloody well enjoys it. The audience had no choice but to get involved - although to be fair, I don't think anyone objected to dancing with Deschênes and I really doubt anyone would've declined her invitations for everyone to climb up on the stage while she danced around the floor. Topping off a set that nearly resulted in me getting throttled by a mic cable as Deschênes led an adoring crowd around the room, the encore ended out in the foyer, more than half the crowd having followed Deschênes out there. In between that and the party poppers that were handed out halfway through the set, it's hard to find fault with both her and the rest of the band's exuberant energy. The same goes for the music - amazingly good fun and very easy to dance to. In short, a brilliant set and quite possibly the best gig I've ever been to.

To end, have a couple of photos and a short clip of Duchess Says - apologies for poor quality phone pictures. The first is vocalist Annie-Claude, just after she almost throttled me (accidentally) with the mic cable.

Then a generic performance shot.

And finally a short clip of them during the stage invasion, which wasn't exactly an invasion, during the song Black Flag. Nice to see the sound recording quality is slightly better than the image quality...

I reeeeeally need to start taking my camera to gigs...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Current Love: Cut Ribbons' new single

Just look at it! It's so pretty. Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of pink, but it's a cassette. A pretty, awesome sounding, pink cassette.

You can check out the single (Side A) on Soundcloud and the demos (Side B) on Bandcamp. Then go and get yerself one of these pretties from Club Kissability.

That is all. Just had to share the pretties. On a side note, I have a t-shirt with that print on it. It's made of awesome. Just have to wait till I get home at the weekend to steal my parents' cassette player.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Band of the Week: Me And The Mountain and assorted other scrummies

Today's Band of the Week comes in the form of audio-visual goodness. Hurray for music videos. First up, the new lyric video for Me and the Mountain's This Is What You Do.

And then this from Rise Against. I've never really listened to them before, but a friend posted the link on Facebook yesterday and, well, it made an impact.

Then this gorgeousness from Kill Hannah (who just happen to be one of my favourite bands).

Goryness from dark cabaret lovelies Birdeatsbaby:

And finally, fun pirate metal from Alestorm.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Randomness: Christmas songs

Oh, yes, it's that time of the year, so I thought I'd share some Christmassy goodness.

First up, the best Christmas song ever. In my opinion, obviously. Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty McColl.

That's probably my favourite, but it's in close competition with this work of brilliance from Tim Minchin. Personally, I think this song pins down what Christmas actually means to a lot of people nowadays and it is a genuinely beautiful song.

What next? Let's go with I Believe In Father Christmas by Greg Lake and A Spaceman Came Travelling by Chris de Burgh.

I'd include some of my favourite carols in this post, but I'd struggle to find versions I actually like. I do, however, highly recommened checking out The Sussex Carol, a song I'm led to believe is less well known outside the UK. It's a lovely little song.

Instead, we'll finish with this just-released EP from the delightful Aamir al-Loki. Ahhh, re-imagined Christmas carols are always fun

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Band of the Week: Cut Ribbons and Fever Fever

Oh good heavens, Band of the Week? Yes indeed, my lovely non-existent readers. This week we have scrummies in the form of Welsh indie rockers Cut Ribbons and Norwich art punks Fever Fever. In (the most likely) case that you haven't read my review of Fight Like Apes' gig at the Arts Centre, these two bands were the support acts. If you haven't read the review - read it NAOW.

So, first up, Cut Ribbons. In my review, I described them as non-descript indie rock, save for the male-female dual vocals. I take that back. Their live show was great, really great but I think I came to the non-descript conclusion too quickly. So, OK, there really isn't anything particularly new about Cut Ribbons, but how often do you find a band that does have that? What they do is really nice indie rock, with lovely vocals and some awesome sing-along-able bits. Have a listen:

Cut Ribbons by Kissability

And then go check out their Bandcamp, where you can download their demos EP for free. Their new single White Horses is out 26th December and will be available HERE.

Next up, Fever Fever. Three people making a lot of noise. Dual female vocals as well, which is awesome. Raucous and generally pretty damn awesome. Although I should point out that it seems to be very hard to translate their live energy to disc. That said, their recorded material is still brilliant. Check out the free download Teeth on Bandcamp, then I recommend getting hold of the Bloodless EP and new single Pins.

Aaaaaand, I think that'll do for now. Have a listen and pass it on.

One last little bonus - this only just came out today. Cut Ribbons' first video for White Horses.

White Horses from Cut Ribbons on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: Fight Like Apes at Norwich Arts Centre, 28/11/11

Fight Like Apes at Norwich Arts Centre, 28/11/11 (support from Fever Fever & Cut Ribbons)
Genre: Synth-pop, indie rock

Kicking off this remarkably dead show at the Arts Centre were Welsh band Cut Ribbons. They play fairly non-descript indie rock, distinguished only by their dual male/female vocals. Even that interesting difference didn't show up too well in their performance (balance seemed a bit squiffy), but the set was pretty good and it seemed a bit of a shame there weren't more people there to see them. The Arts Centre's fairly small but even so it was barely half full by the time Cut Ribbons finished playing.

By the time Norwich natives Fever Fever took to the stage, however, the crowd had definitely bulked up. The show was also their single launch, so they obviously had a fair few fans there. It was immediately obvious why they seem to have such a dedicated fanbase. Their set was amazing. For three people, they make a hell of a lot of very good noise. And they were evidently enjoying themselves, throwing in a lot of banter with the crowd and each other. Brilliant, hyperactive art punk at its raucous best. Check out the free track Teeth here:

Following on from that amazingly energetic set, the headliners had a lot to live up to. It's been three years since I first saw Fight Like Apes. Back then, they were the support for The Ting Tings. They sucked me in with their rather anarchic, high energy set. This show definitely didn't disappoint. Non-stop and bloody loud. And yet the room still wasn't full and the crowd barely seemed bothered. Until lead vocalist MayKay wandered off into the audience, that is. All of a sudden, the smallest mosh pit I have ever seen appeared. Finally, finally people seemed to be paying attention to what was an amazing show. With a couple of new tracks thrown in and a set that crept past curfew without anyone seeming to care, Fight Like Apes might just have won over some new fans. I hope they did. They certainly deserve it.

Fight Like Apes setlist:
Do You Karate?, Poached Eggs, Hoo Ha Henry, Katmandu, Lend Me Your Face, Jenny Kelly, Digifucker, Jake Summers, Thirsty, Tie Me Up With Jackets, Battlestations (+ 2 new tracks)
Encore: Megameanie, Ice Cream Apple Fuck

And as an added bonus, have some crappy photography, courtesy of my phone.

And as a final note: SQUEE at the remarkably cheap (i.e. reasonably priced) merch. Woot for band t-shirts and CDs.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Review: Madina Lake at the Waterfront, Norwich

Madina Lake at the Waterfront, Norwich, 17/11/11 (support from The Super Happy Fun Club & My Passion)
Genre: Alternative rock/electro-rock/post-hardcore

Madina Lake make a triumphant, but rather ignored return to the UK almost 18 months after their last tour here. Kicking off with fellow Chicago natives The Super Happy Fun Club, the venue's only really half full. Which is a shame, really, because while the vocalist doesn't have much in the way of stage presence, their set is slick, polished and bloody good fun. Considering most of the crowd seemed to have no idea who TSHC are, they all got into the swing of things. Definitely a band to watch.

Next up are English electro-rockers My Passion. Plenty of screaming fan(girls) for them. Their set is heavy on material from their second album, which I'm personally not so keen on, but the energy levels rocketed, the crowd got moving and the venue actually seemed to be filling more. That said, their main vocalist has the strangest ability to irritate me without even trying – he just seems so very full of himself. But hey, the music's good and the crowd enjoyed it.

Audience suitably primed, Madina Lake took to the stage with all the energy they had on that last tour. It's so nice to see that – bassist Matthew Leone was severely assaulted last year and it's wonderful to see he's made such a great recovery. The crowd obviously agreed with me – this really was a triumphant return. Kicking off with Imagineer from the latest album, the set was non stop, rattling through a range of songs from all three albums. So, OK, Nathan Leone's vocals weren't great, but the energy and the atmosphere more than made up for it. And this time I managed to not to get stuck on the edge of a mosh pit. Happy times for me. Closing with the awesome Pandora, they left a thoroughly satisfied crowd, confident that Madina are back with a vengeance and a dogged determination to just keep going. All that said, it's such a shame that the Waterfront still wasn't full.

Madina Lake setlist:
Imagineer, Adalia, Never Take Us Alive, Let's Get Out Of Here, House Of Cards, Now Or Never, One Last Kiss, Howdy Neighbour!, Hey Superstar, Here I Stand, Welcome To Oblivion, They're Coming For Me, True Love, Me Vs The World, Pandora (encore)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Review: Charlie Simpson at the Waterfront, Norwich

Charlie Simpson at the Waterfront, Norwich, 21/10/11 (support from Andrew Balkwill, We Were Evergreen & Dave McPherson)

Charlie Simpson – familiar to many people my age as “that guy who was in Busted”. Well, he's matured since then, but his voice is as good as ever. Before I get onto that though, let's have a quick look at the support acts.

Kicking off the evening was Andrew Balkwill. One man and a piano and one hell of an opening set. Bluesy, jazzy, sing-along-able goodness. I feel he took the audience slightly by surprise, but the crowd was soon getting into the spirit of things – his is music that makes you move. To be honest, I'd have loved for him to play a slightly longer set, but at four (or was it five?) songs, it was a nice little introduction.

Moving on, We Were Evergreen. A somewhat avant-garde, slightly poppy three piece band from Paris. And they were oh so good. Bouncy, energetic and loud. Take loud as a good thing here. Plus, there is always something awesome about a band that uses a ukulele and xylophone in their music. The crowd really took to them – plenty of bobbing and bouncing going on now. Then of course there was the epic outro to their final song, which unfortunately I can't remember the name of. When I say epic, I mean it. This outro just didn't want to end.

Having ramped up the energy with We Were Evergreen, Dave McPherson slowed the pace a little. One man and an acoustic guitar this time. He might be familiar to some as the frontman of alternative rock band InMe, but for the most part I think he was pretty unknown at this gig. His set got off to a decent start and then he managed to break one of the strings on his guitar. Then he managed to hurt his finger while restringing it. Kudos to him for keeping up the banter and generally keeping the crowd entertained while he was solving the problem. All in all, he played a pretty good set, although given the high energy performance of We Were Evergreen, it seemed a bit of a come down. That said, he closed with a cover of Boom Shake The Room (y'know, the Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff?), so I think it can be forgiven.

And so finally, we come to Charlie Simpson. Yes, that bloke from Busted. He was in Fightstar too, not that I've personally ever listened to them. Moving on... Tonight's set was made up of a selection of tracks from his solo album, released this year. More towards the mellow side, with some lovely vocal harmonies. The energy levels spiked again and give or take a few girls screaming “Charlie, I love you”, pretty much the whole crowd was singing along. Tucked in amongst his own material was a brilliant cover of Cutting Crew's (I Just) Died In Your Arms with some lovely harmonica parts courtesy of Nick Worpole (also of Me And The Mountain, shameless plug). Overall, a wonderful set with yet another epic outro going on. Oh, how I love outros...

Ahem. So anyway, if you're in the UK, totally check out the tour dates and if you can get to one: GO. A nice mix of support acts and a fantastic headliner.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Review: The Woman In Black at The Fortune Theatre, London

Book by Susan Hill, adapted for stage by Stephen Mallatratt.

The Woman In Black is a ghost story, plain and simple. But oh, what a ghost story. Seated in the tiny Fortune Theatre, the atmosphere began building from the very first lines. A man, wanting to tell his story, asking for help from an actor. Why is his story so important? Why does he feel it must be told? Some humour to begin with – the man, Mr Kipps, is struggling to get into the spirit of acting, reading his lines in a dull monotone. The audience smile, laugh a little.

The humour is short lived. As the play switches from the present to the past, the true horror of what Kipps witnessed becomes clear. A marvellous array of characters from the sleepy backwater of Crythin Gifford builds the tension – what is it that terrifies them so much about Eel Marsh House, the place Mr Kipps has been sent by his law firm? What mysteries lurk in the fog over the marshes?

The wonder of The Woman In Black is that all of these brilliant little characters are portrayed by just two actors. Props are sparse – most are pure make believe, such as the cart which takes Kipps across the causeway to Eel Marsh House each day and the little dog Spider who keeps him company in the old house. And yet the cast conjures up such great empathy, even for this little pretend dog.

And then there is the Woman. The cast is technically three people, but the Woman makes very few appearances. The atmosphere in the theatre is so effective that when she does make her brief appearances, the entire audience jumps. It should also be noted that in order to adapt the book for stage, a clever little plot device has been used, which effectively makes Kipps' story a play within a play. Tragic, chilling and downright scary. Be prepared for the ending.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Review: Enter Shikari @ Norwich UEA, 5/10/11

Enter Shikari @ Norwich UEA (support from letlive. and Your Demise)

Barely five minutes into letlive.'s opening set and security are already telling their vocalist off for climbing on the speaker stacks. The set got off to a somewhat lacklustre start, given the hype around letlive.'s live act, but a couple of songs in it became clear that this is a band to watch. Loud, energetic and non-stop, they're a perfect opening band so I can only imagine how amazing it would be to see them play a full, headline set. In amongst the high octane tracks was a little gem in the form of “Muther”. Beautiful, melodic and a great track to involve the crowd. I admit to being almost completely unaware of letlive. other than knowing they played some sort of post-hardcore. After tonight's set, however, I'm hooked. Actually, I'm listening to one of their albums as I type this.

While Your Demise certainly matched letlive. in volume and general raucousness, their set felt a little messy. They play hardcore of some description (which I'll admit to not being a huge fan), but while there were a few moments of brilliance, their tracks just didn't have the intensity of letlive.'s. The structure of the set itself also felt slightly stilted – there was a fair bit of talking in between tracks, which isn't a bad thing, but there has to be that balance between talking and playing.

So, after a slightly disappointing set from Your Demise, we moved onto the headliners, the band I really wanted to see. Enter Shikari. Brief introduction needed, methinks. Enter Shikari play post-hardcore, with strong electronic influences (especially dubstep on more recent releases). I've seen them twice before and they're incredibly high energy and very big on crowd involvement. Tonight's show lived up to, even surpassed expectations. With a set taking in tracks from both LPs as well as recent singles Destabilise and Quelle Surprise, there was something to please fans of all their material. The light show was, as always, brilliant although it must suck to be an epileptic Shikari fan – I've not seen them play without strobes yet. Sad to say they didn't play Fanfare For The Concious Man, but having played so many fan favourites and closing with Juggernauts and OK, Time For Plan B, Enter Shikari really are a band that you need to see live to really appreciate.

We are the world and we are the people and we will be heard.” - Fanfare for the Concious Man - Enter Shikari

Rough setlist for Enter Shikari (not in order)
Destabilise, Mothership, Zzzonked, Hectic, The Jester, No Sssweat, Sssnakepit, Return To Energiser, Sorry You're Not A Winner, Gap In The Fence, No Sleep Tonight, Quelle Surprise.
Encore: Juggernauts, OK Time For Plan B.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Randomness: 20 years since Nevermind

I think we can safely say I am not the biggest Nirvana fan. That said, I do have a bit of a soft spot for them and this Saturday 24th September marks 20 years since the release of their iconic album Nevermind. So I thought I'd just share some of my favourite bits of Nirvana. Let's start with this gem of a performance on Top Of The Pops.

On the off chance that the story isn't as well known as I think it is, bands had to "play" to a backing track at the time - the only live element was the vocals. So Kurt Cobain decided to sing in the style of Morrissey (of The Smiths). It's probably worth pointing out that several years prior, The Smiths had been in the same situation, so Morrissey had taken to the stange with a bunch of gladioli and proceeded to wave them about while sort of taking part in the song.

Next up, Heart-Shaped Box and In Bloom, my two favourite Nirvana tracks.

And next, I highly recommend checking out Kerrang!'s Nevermind Forever CD (it's on the front of the magazine this week). The entirety of Nevermind covered by a variety of bands. It's pretty good - some have worked better than others, obviously. Frank Turner's take on On A Plain is one of the best, while We Are The Ocean's Sliver (which was released in between Nevermind and In Utero) is pretty weak, but overall, it's just a good fun album. No, it's never going to live up to the original, but it's decent in its own right.

And then I think we just have to finish with what is probably Nirvana's best known track and the one that catapulted them to superstardom. Finish as we started with Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Current Love: Tara Priya's Rollin', EatLiz's Hey, Aqua's Turn Back Time

Tara Priya: lovely retrosoul stuff. Just released her video for Rollin'. It's fun.

And then there's this funky little video from an Israeli rock band called EatLiz. I found it by accident - the joys of clicking random links.

And finally, this little 90s gem from Aqua. One of their less bubblegum tunes. Love it.


Band of the Week: Bayside, Nine Inch Nails, Enter Shikari

'K, so Band of the Week is getting a bit revamped. And by that I mean simply that I am a lazy cow who very rarely remembers to write a post about a single artist. As such, Band of the Week is going to become more of a feature jobby, showcasing random stuff that I've found in the last week or so. I'll probably still forget to post, but it's worth a try. Anyways, on with the show.

Firstly, Bayside. I've known about them for a few years now and have always loved their song Masterpiece from the album Sirens and Condolences. However, me being me, totally kept forgetting to check them out properly. And then they played at Soundwave in February so I thought they deserved my attention properly. Then I promptly forgot again and then last week I got Sick, Sick, Sick from their latest album Killing Time stuck in my head so I bought the album. Suffice to say, it's made of awesome.

Also, rambling paragraph is rambling. Bayside are pretty much straight up rock. Really good, makes you want to move sort of rock. Sick, Sick, Sick is a good example as is Seeing Sound (also from Killing Time).

I've mentioned Nine Inch Nails before and they hardly need mentioning again, but I got hold of The Downward Spiral and Pretty Hate Machine this week and felt the need to gush about them. I love them. Not entirely sure why I didn't check 'em out sooner. Anyways, have a listen to Heresy, Closer and Reptile from The Downward Spiral and Head Like A Hole, Terrible Lie and That's What I Get from Pretty Hate Machine. TDS is a bit heavier than PHM, but they're both awesome. Good industrial rock. The video for Closer is also pretty cool. Weird, slightly disturbing, but cool. And Trent Reznor was hot when he was younger.

Finally, Enter Shikari. I LOVE Enter Shikari. Anyhoo, found out this week that they're playing at my uni in October so guess who's excited? Enter Shikari are not everyone's cup of tea. They play a peculier brand of electronic post-hardcore often labelled as trancecore for it's dance influences. It's not a combination that goes down well with everyone and I know some fans now are getting annoyed because their more recent work is heavily dubstep influenced. That said, I still love them. They put on an amazing live show and they're very much worth checking out. Try Adieu, No Sssweat, Mothership and Labyrinth from Take To The Skies, Zzzonked, Antwerpen and The Jester from Common Dreads and the two latest singles Destabilise and Quelle Surprise. Love the Zzzonked video - I was at that gig (trying my hardest to avoid falling in the numerous mosh pits).

That'll do, right? Check it out, let me know what you think and pass it on.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Band of the Week: super-mega-awesome feature... again

Yeah yeah yeah, blog neglect. But anyhoo, I has music scrummies to share.

First, earthtone9 and particularly their new EP For Cause & Consequence. I don't think it's available digitally (and legally) anywhere outside of PledgeMusic, but if you can find somewhere to listen to it, DO IT. And you can always get hold of a physical copy. I only started listening to them after getting their greatest hits compilation free sometime last year and I've still not got round to properly checking out their material, but they're a pretty great British alt-metal band.

Next... hmmm... choices. How's about There For Tomorrow. I only know a couple of songs by them, but they're a decent alt-rock/pop band. Lovely stuff.

That'll do on the artists front. Now for some songs.

Japanese Voyeurs just released their new video for Cry Baby. Awesomeness as always.

Then, there's this epicness, which I already posted yesterday, but it's awesome so I'm posting it again.

And then this, because I think I've fallen in love with the Wicked soundtrack. I should probably point out that I usually hate musicals. Something about them just grates on me, but I love this. And I just had it stuck in my head all the way through my Tasmanian Fauna exam.

Anything else... Lady Gaga's Judas has become a bit of a guilty pleasure. Although, I wouldn't exactly call it a guilty pleasure - I try not to feel guilty about anything I listen to.

And this. I've never listened to Yellowcard and then I got a free sampler from Hopeless Records last week. This track's pretty cool.

And to finish, one of my favourite videos of all time to go with one of my favourite tracks of all time. I'm not much of a fan of Avenged Sevenfold but this is just epic.

For some reason the official video doesn't show up when I search via Blogger. How odd...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Randomness: PLUG PLUG PLUG

So yeah, I totally felt the need to plug my friend's new blog. It's also music based (probably more so than this one's turned out to be!) and she's just started it up. She's slightly less inclined to babble madly about stuff, so go and check it out HERE. And give her hugs. Hugs are always nice. Screw that, give me hugs, I have exams.


Just go check it out, 'K?

Randomness: Minecraft

Dear god, I haven't posted for ages. Blame end of term, coursework and now exams. Anyways, felt the need to blog. There might be a few more posts in the next few days, but first, MINECRAFT.

I can't even begin to explain why it's so addicting. It's a sandbox game. You dig stuff, craft stuff, build stuff and try not to get killed. And even with the monsters turned off, that's not always straightforward. The amount of times I've accidentally fallen into lava or off a cliff is ridiculous. Or all the way down my main mine shaft...

The graphics are basic. Everything's made of blocks, it's all pixelly and I LOVE IT. My housemate hates the graphics (because he's a graphics snob), but I think it's charming. It wouldn't be Minecraft without the pixelly graphics.

Almost more awesome (and definitely more awesome than anything I've done in Minecraft) are the videos on youtube. Current favourite: the Yogscast playing Minecraft. Two guys, trying not to die. Hilarity. X's Adventures In Minecraft is also pretty awesome, but nowhere near as funny. And then there's this.


Basically, before I just babble on and on for hours about how awesome this game is and the stupid shit I've managed to do (like accidentally opening my under-construction drawbridge while I was standing on it and falling to my death), go and check it out. You can play Classic for free online, but all you can do is build. You can't die, you can't craft and the world is small. If you like it, buy the beta. That's all there is at the moment. It's decent value and you get all the functionality, plus all updates. Or you could wait and buy it when it's officially released in November, but then it'll be more expensive.

Go go go!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Randomness: character playlists

Many aeons ago (otherwise known as the time before my second year at uni), I wrote prose. Lengthy prose that rambled all over the place and didn't really have a plot. It was more a way of tracking the life of the character than telling any proper story. Because, you see, I have a huge number of characters milling around in my head. They live there and now and then they have been known to pass judgement on my every day life. It's very annoying, because I know they're not real, but for some reason this does not stop the snide comments (and occasional concerned comments from friends who seem to think there's something wrong with me). Anyways, given my love of music, it seemed only natural that at least one of this multitude of characters should have an interest in music. And then I wondered what music she'd like. So I strung together a playlist. That said, it probably says more about me than the character, but I can relate each song to something that happens in the character's life. The bad times and the good, all slung together in one little playlist. And because I'm feeling like death warmed up and therefore can't actually focus on the 4000 word report I'm supposed to be writing, I figured I'd share this playlist with the ether. Have fun. There's bits of all sorts, but it's pretty rock heavy. I've included Grooveshark links for the ones I could find there. I suspect some of them are dead links, but there's no harm in trying.

1. Mayday Parade - When I Get Home, You're So Dead
2. My Chemical Romance - Thank You For The Venom
3. Mindless Self Indulgence - Evening Wear
4. McFly - Down Goes Another One
5. Paramore - Misery Business
6. Mindless Self Indulgence - Issues
7. My Chemical Romance - I Never Told You What I Do For A Living
8. Hey Monday - 6 Months
9. My Chemical Romance - I'm Not Okay (I Promise)
10. Papa Roach - Hollywood Whore
11. AFI - Darling, I Want To Destroy You
12. The Blackout - ShutTheFuckUppercut
13. In This Moment - Daddy's Falling Angel
14. Lostprophets - Rooftops (A Liberation Broadcast)
15. The Academy Is... - Crowded Room
16. Cage The Elephant - In One Ear

For the most part, it's painfully clear to me that most of the choices were made in my first year at university. The songs meant more to me then, but even now I can listen to these tracks and know exactly what point in the character's life they're related to. And there's a clear enough chronology to them - tracks 1 through 8 represent a totally distinct period of life, track 9 is a transition and tracks 10-16 are more representative of her current state (in my head, at least). It's interesting to listen and remember all the shit I put the character through in the name of "character development". Rather misguided, I think, but it did make for an interesting personality. Anyways, enough babbling, because the nausea from this afternoon has just decided to pop in and say hello again.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Randomness: a response to "you say [pop act], i say [generic rock band]" comments

This 'ere is a journal post from In-The-Machine on deviantART.

You say Taylor Swift,I say Breaking Benjamin
You say Lady Gaga,I say Evanescence
You say Miley Cyrus,I say Slipknot
You say T-Pain,I say Three Days Grace
You say Kesha,I say Linkin Park
you say justin bieber, fuck you
You say Flowers,I say Puddle of Mudd
92% of teens have turned to pop and hip-hop.If you are part of the 8% that still listens to real music, copy and paste this message to 5 other videos. DONT LET ROCK N ROLL DIE ! , P.S Thumbs Up If You Agree ;D

You say "don't let teh RAWK die," I say you're overexaggerating.
You say "lol I'm hardc0re," I say you're attention-seeking.
You say "fuck da pop muzik," I say you're really desperate for approval from the big kids.
You say "you suck for liking this and my taste is better," I say you're an arrogant little fucktard.
You say you know what "real music is," I say "then why don't you have Def Leppard on here?"
You say bullshit statistics, I say if you honestly think rock is "in danger of dying" you need to get out more.
There was more, but I don't think I really need to post all of it. If you really want to read all of it, you can do so HERE. What I really wanted to say was: THIS PERSON IS MADE OF AWESOME. Now, while I am definitely guilty of bemoaning the love many people have for pop, I accept that it's their choice to listen to it. Besides, I like Lady Gaga and I like McFly and I like a lot of those 'alternative' bands who should really be counted as pop because they're so squishy and mainstream. For example, right now I'm listening to Mayday Parade. They definitely have pop-rock moments. Anyway, back to the actual topic.

If people who post these "you say [pop act], i say [generic rock band]" comments really think so few people listen to rock, metal and the like, they must be even more stupid than the comment suggests. I think you'll find that while, yes, a huge number of people listen to pop and it does sell a lot more than anything else, that huge numbers of people also listen to other music. Also, if you really do want to pick fights with people over taste in music, at least chose some less generic bands to use. I like Evanescence and Linkin Park, but they're effectively pop simply because so many people listen to them. Try someone like... oh, I don't know, someone who hasn't sold millions of albums? There's so many brilliant bands out there you could use. It still doesn't mean they're any better than pop artists. OK, so maybe I think rock is generally better than pop, but that doesn't mean all pop is shit.

I'm kinda losing my thread here, so I'm going to go off on a slight tangent. It's related, I promise. The tangent is this - variety is the spice of life. I stand by that statement, so when I saw someone on YouTube say that we should stop people who like My Chemical Romance from listening to Murderdolls because MCR is "gay ass shit" and Murderdolls aren't "scene or emo", I couldn't help but reply. Since when did listening to one type of music disqualify you from listening to others? I pointed this out to her and to her credit, she was polite in her reply, which was "I didn't say you couldn't, but scene kids are taking over and we have to stop them in order to keep metal alive!!" Sorry, honey, but last I checked "scene" wasn't half as popular as it was a couple of years ago. Besides, you kinda contradicted yourself there - you're allowed to listen to whatever the hell you want, but scene kids aren't allowed to listen to some stuff because they'll kill it? Metal's in no danger of dying, dude. Let them listen to what they want and get over yourself. I dislike scenies if they're into bands because it's cool or popular to like them, but if they genuinely like them, then what's the problem? I also don't really like when bands I like suddenly get popular, but there's fuck all I can do about that.

OK, actually shutting up now. Apologies for the uber babble.

Current love: Me And The Mountain acoustic

I think it's firmly established that I love Me And The Mountain. I also love hearing the acoustic versions of their songs. So these three vids are just made of awesome. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Randomness: Random bits

Firstly, a piece of brilliance:

NERVOUS96 from Bill Domonkos on Vimeo.

This is a new short from Bill Domonkos who mixes old archive footage with animations (2D and 3D). The reason I'm posting it is because Jill Tracy had a hand in composing the score. It's a beautiful piece of music and it's available HERE.

A piece of not so much brilliance:

I love Cobra Starship. They're fun and silly and cheesy as hell. But this... like McFly's Party Girl, I'm hoping it grows on me, but really, I can't see it happening. I'm all up for change, but this isn't the Cobra I love. After the rather mediocre effort that was Hot Mess, I was hoping for something more like While The City Sleeps or Viva La Cobra. Evidently, that hasn't happened. So I'm now drowning my ears in old Cobra to make me feel better. Ugh.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Band of the Week: super-mega-awesome feature the second

Iiiiiiiiiii... haven't posted for weeks and I don't have a good excuse. I'm also not in the mood for writing a proper Band of the Week, so we have super-mega-awesome feature (take two) instead. Yay! Moving on...

First up, the delectable Jill Tracy. Dark cabaret. Think smoky jazz clubs and that gorgeously sultry music with a sinister edge. She's got a damn good voice.

Then we have Civet. Self-styled 'femme fatale punk rock', for which read really good punk with even more awesome female vocals. Again, damn good voice.

Next, Bourbon Crow, outlaw country from Wednesday 13 and Rayen Belchare (both of horror-punk band Wednesday 13). Brilliant, tongue-in-cheek country. By which I mean it takes the piss out of the genre while still being really good music.

Hmmm... who next? Nine Inch Nails hardly need plugging, they're HUGE, but hey, they're also awesome so check 'em out if you haven't.

And then go and have a listen to Dommin and their lovely atmospheric gothic rock/metal. Brilliant live and their cover of Cutting Crew's Died In Your Arms is beautiful.

Is five artists enough to count as a super-mega-awesome feature? Hmm, maybe one or two additional pieces of scrumminess...

This is EPIC:

This is Enter Shikari, by the way, covering one of their own songs. Class. And available for free download too. One sec, I'll find the link. First one on this page 'ere:

And finally, this 'ere has to be one of my favourite covers ever. You know I said Nine Inch Nails are awesome? Have a listen to how awesome Japanese Voyeurs' cover of their song Closer is.

Japanese Voyeurs - Closer by ThrashHits

Much brilliance. In other Japanese Voyeurs news, their debut album is due out at the beginning of July. They're very much worth checking out. Get on it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Randomness: Record Store Day

It's tomorrow. 16th April. Isn't it lovely?

For those who don't know, Record Store Day is an international initiative trying to keep independent record stores alive. I think we're all aware of the shift towards big chains, supermarkets and online stores for music. But there's something wonderful about poking around in independent stores. I can't remember the last time I did that. The amount of interesting looking record stores I walked past while I was in Melbourne in December and didn't go in because my friend wasn't interested... oh so many. Part of the reason I intend to go and poke around in some of the indy music stores in Hobart tomorrow. Maybe I'll find something wonderful. Unfortunately, if I do find anything, I'll have to wait till I get back to the UK to be able to play it, given that I have no CD drive. Grr.

A few friends have asked me in the past what the point is in buying physical releases instead of downloading. Admittedly, most of my purchases in the last couple of years have been downloads, but there's still something wonderful about CDs. I'm not that much of an audiophile that I can notice any difference in quality of sound, but there's something lovely about opening a CD case, slipping the disc into the player and having a listen. Plus you get the added awesomeness of album artwork, lyrics and the like. Bands are increasingly releasing these in digital format along with the album, but nothing quite compares to leafing through a little album booklet. It's not really the same, reading a PDF file.

That's all I really wanted to say. I think Record Store Day's a great idea. Really, I should've poked around Hobart's indy music shops before now - blame my utter dislike of shopping. It takes a lot for me to really go mooching around shops, but once I do finally get into a music store... well, HMV may be a big chain, but I can get lost in there for ages. God knows what I'm going to be like tomorrow.

More info HERE  and there's an interesting article HERE from the Telegraph.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Current Love: Kimberly Freeman's new album

I was half tempted to write a second Band of the Week blog this week, just for the delightful Kimberly Freeman, but I held off. Current Love will do for now. And yes, I know I already wrote about her single this week, but this morning I got my hands on the new album "Into Outer Space" and therefore babbling is in order. And here it is:

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! I love it. Love love love love love. Ahem.

It's a beautiful album. Lovely mix of tracks, all in a generally electronic vein. There's some brilliantly upbeat ones like the previously mentioned Fame And Loathing. Then there's some gorgeously slow, ballad like tracks such as Fairy and Water Song (previously released to raise money for the Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami appeal). It all meshes beautifully as an album, right down to the last track Lost In The Sound, a new electro version of the song Ghetto Love which was on Kimberly's first album.

Kimberly and One-Eyed Doll, the band she fronts (who I also happen to love) have a ridiculously strong fanbase and they're making the most of that with this album. Manufacture of the physical album hasn't started yet and to fund it, they're using a pre-order system. By pre-ordering, you get an immediate download of the album, but you also get a physical copy once it's been made. Unlike most of Kimberly's and One-Eyed Doll's material, this album has no "Name Your Price (even nothing!)" option. But for a minimum of US$10, this album is well worth it. And obviously the rest of the fans agree with me, because the preorder is currently the top-seller on It was only released yesterday.

Sooooo, head on over HERE and have a listen to opening track "Into Outer Space". You can also check out Fame And Loathing and a new version of Float Away HERE which are also on the album. And then, when you've (hopefully) fallen head over heels in love with Kimberly Freeman's awesomeness, why not pre-order the album? The sooner they raise the money, the quicker everyone gets the album. Although going by how quickly it became the top-seller on, I'm thinking it might be fairly soon. Go go go.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Current Love: Fame And Loathing by Kimberly Freeman

First single from the wonderful Kimberly Freeman's forthcoming album. Going in a bit of an electronic direction with this one and I love it. Plus, the video is just awesome. And I may or may not have downloaded the remix stems just to see what they sound like. I'm in love with the bass track. Maybe I'll try my hand at remixing it, but I wouldn't know where to start. No harm in trying though, right? Anyways, check out the video below and then head on over to BandCamp to download the single.

Oh, and if you search YouTube for "Fame and Loathing" it pulls up a whole bunch of fan remixes. Going to check 'em out now, I reckon you should too.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Band of the Week: The Blackout

Ah, The Blackout. Currently rock with post-hardcore bits. Prior to the latest album, they were more post-hardcore. Welsh. Mad. Totally epically awesome. And this morning I got the aforementioned latest album and I can totally see why Blunt gave it a 4/5 star review.

I've not written a review myself yet. That can wait till I've had a few more listens. Besides, this is Band of the Week. This is my opportunity to gush about how much I love them. And I do indeed love them. The Blackout have grown on me slowly. I first looked into them about 2 years ago after I found out they were playing at Give It A Name 2009. Second billing, no less. I wasn't too fond of them then. But then, I wasn't at all fond of Enter Shikari at the time (who were headlining Give It A Name). That show introduced me to some awesome live bands. I fell madly in love with Enter Shikari. Not so much with The Blackout, but I knew then that they were amazing live. Late 2009 I found out they were playing the Kerrang! Tour in January 2010. Second billing again. Well, I knew they were awesome live, plus All Time Low and Young Guns were also playing and I was already in love with them. Once again, I loved The Blackout's live performance. Downloaded a few tracks.

Those few tracks got quite obsessively played and I spent several months trying to decide whether to buy their albums or not. In the end, I decided that while I loved them live, they didn't quite translate that energy to disc. And then comes the announcement of the line up for Soundwave 2011. The Blackout are in there. Along with a bunch of other bands I love. But The Blackout. I knew that even if I didn't get to see some of the other bands I wanted to, I HAD to see The Blackout again. Suffice to say, they didn't disappoint. If you've read my post about Soundwave, you'll know how much I loved that set. Probably the best set I've seen of any band ever. (and I totally just realised I've mispelled Soundwave in the title of that post. Oops.) So totally awesome. So awesome, in fact that I finally got my arse in gear and downloaded their albums. And then spent the next month up until today waiting for new album Hope to be released. Oh, so scrummy. The main album is brilliant, but the deluxe edition (not labelled deluxe on iTunes, but it's the deluxe for physical versions) includes four covers and two acoustic tracks. So so lovely.

Basically, The Blackout are awesome. Even more awesome live. They're on tour in the UK at the moment, but I'm pretty sure almost every show's sold out. That is how awesome they are. So, check 'em out (preferably live), let me know what you think and pass it on.

Assorted The Blackout links:
Official site
Youtube or check out Epitaph Records' channel for some music vids

Recommended tracks:
From The Blackout! The Blackout! The Blackout!: I'm A Riot? You're A Fucking Riot!, It's High Tide Baby
From We Are The Dynamite: I've Got Better Things To Do Tonight Than Die, Spread Legs Not Lies, She Is Macho
From The Best In Town: Save Our Selves (The Warning), ShutTheFuckUppercut, Children Of The Night, I Love Myself And I Wanna Live, We're Going To Hell...So Bring The Sunblock
From Hope: Ambition Is Critical, Higher & Higher, Hope (Scream It Out Loud), You're Not Alone (acoustic), Save Tonight (Eagle-Eye Cherry cover)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Randomness: On fairness, whining and overly demanding fans

Firstly, here's my original post on McFly's Supercity site:

I stress once again that this is just my opinion. Feel free to disagree, but no unprovoked bitching. Many of us around the world are waiting to hear when McFly are coming to our countries. This is perfectly natural - who wouldn't want to see one of their favourite bands live? Constant questions about when McFly are touring where is understandable. Slightly annoying at times, but forgivable. Not so forgivable and rather more annoying are fans who have had the opportunity to see McFly already on this tour cycle and still find things to whinge about. The latest seems to be with regards to Danny's after-party wotsits. There hasn't been one for every date and already I've seen people bitching that this isn't fair. It's perfectly fair. Consider the logistics. There has to be an available venue, the next show ideally shouldn't be the day after (tiredness is a bitch)... I've run out of ideas, but my point is, it simply might not be possible to put a party on after every show. It will never cease to irritate me how demanding fans can be. Your idols are human, just like you. You can't expect them to be able to fit everything in. And for the few people (very few, fortunately) that I've seen complaining that McFly aren't playing a venue near them, shut the fuck up. This applies largely to UK folks. It's a tiny bloody country, get a bloody train or something. I'm on a year abroad in Tasmania right now. Last month I left the house at 4am to fly over 1000 miles to Brisbane so I could go to Soundwave Festival. So seriously, get over yourselves. If you love a band that much, save up some money and shell out for the travel. And on that note, I'm going to shut up about how overly demanding fans irritate the shit out of me and see if I can find some nice new music. Hmmm, something in the industrial vein would be appreciated...

Now, apart from the "shut the fuck up" and "get over yourselves" aspects, I tried my hardest to be polite in that post, even though I was irritated as fuck. Basically, Danny Jones of McFly had hosted a couple of parties after certain shows on the band's current UK tour. I'd seen people whinging that it was only on some dates and it pissed me off that they thought this wasn't fair when huge numbers of McFly fans across the world simply won't get to see them on this tour, myself included. Why can't people be grateful for what they've got, I wondered? This is the response I got from one of the people who'd sparked my irritation in the first place:

Clearly about me....and no I won't shut up, your opinion means nothing to me tbh. If the parties couldn't be held for everyone then no one should have got them END OF!!!!!

Firstly, she presumes the post is solely about her. How ridiculous - I'm pretty sure I said in the post that there were a number of people who shared her views on things. I'd named no names. The shut up point I can understand - I'm perfectly happy for people to discuss things with me and had I been a little less irritated at the time of posting, I probably wouldn't have included the "shut the fuck up" part. The fact that she then goes on to say that my opinion means nothing to her, now that did annoy me. Or rather, it made me laugh - if my opinion means nothing to her, why is she so angry? If my opinion means nothing to her, she could have just ignored it. In fact, I'm pretty sure my opinion must mean rather a lot to her because I'm fairly sure the only reason she read my post was because I'd already commented on her post about the matter, giving my opinion.

Why are fans so demanding? And why when you disagree with them do some of them get bitchy instead of having a polite discussion? I would have been much more inclined to take this person seriously if she hadn't lost her temper with me. In reply to her comment, I invited her to continue the conversation, providing she stop ranting at me. However, this was before I came across this post of hers:

Omg some people on here are actual dicks! Excuse the language!

I can but presume this was aimed at me and several others who had disagreed with her opinions, going by the time it was posted (i.e. just after she'd commented on my post). If she does come back with a reply, she will be getting a very snotty remark back along the lines of "feel free to call me names, but at least say it to my face". I was rather pleased to see that the sole comment on her post re. people being dicks was as follows:

Well with an attitude like that I can't imagine why anyone would be mean to you...

Oh, how I laughed. In conclusion, I have no problem with people disagreeing with me, but there is a difference between disagreeing and giving a polite argument as to why you disagree and just being a ranting idiot. Why are fans so demanding? Do people simply not understand that musicians are human just like everyone else? Do they honestly expect them to make time for every single fan who wants their time? And why, when people like me, fellow fans, disagree with them and basically tell them to grow up, do they turn into raving angry mad things? Do not get.

In the very unlikely event that the person in question finds this and reads this: please note, I have revealed no names - no one will be able to find you unless they know my SC username and follow the relevant links. This is not intended to target you, but you made a very good example of an overly demanding fan. Plus you were rude to me and I reserve the right to rant about you in return in the privacy of my blog.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Current Love: Your War by Aamir al-Loki

I love this lass, she's awesome. Not much to say really, other than that this is the latest scrumminess from the most wonderful Aamir al-Loki. Love love love.

Go show her some love. And then go and get your grubby mitts on her albums. I want the new one now, damnit - it has a title, Lyrics & Tyranny, but as yet no release date. No worries, I'll make do with what I've got until then.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Band of the Week: Light Scars

Yay! Band of the Week is back. Hopefully I'll remember to keep posting this time. Anyhoo, moving on. Light Scars are an alternative rock band from Grimsby, UK (my hometown, woot). I first checked them out a couple of years ago, thought they sounded all right, but not really my kinda music. I've had a listen on and off since then and they've grown on me. Their self-titled EP has been sitting in my iTunes wishlist for a while.

Unfortunately, this is one of those cases where you don't make the most of things until they're gone. Band member El Field died last Saturday, 19th March. I knew El from school. Not particularly well and I'd not spoken to him for years, but he was a nice kid. I've not heard anything regarding the band as yet.

Aaaand, removing myself from random memories of comparing music taste with El on the bus to school, let's have a look at the EP, shall we? I'm not quite sure where to put it in terms of genre. There's slight grunge elements, especially with the vocals. Some tracks are particularly riff-heavy, Blue Bears, for instance, which happens to be a current favourite of mine. And right now the whole sound is really bugging me because they remind me of another band both in overall style and in vocals and for the life of me I can't think who it is. If someone could have a listen and figure it out I would love you for all eternity.

Overall, the EP is a pretty solid release. The sound's not some generic indie/alternative rock mess and the vocals are interesting (if ever so slightly off in some places). Glad I finally downloaded it, even if it did take a tragic accident to make me dig it out again. Have a listen, let me know what you think and pass it on.

That has to be one of the shortest Band of the Weeks ever. Hmmm... oh! Links! Knew I was missing something.

Assorted Light Scars links:

Recommended tracks (all from Light Scars EP)
Blue Bears, Narrow Spaces, Fractures

ARCTIC MONKEYS! Soundwise, anyway. Ahem. I'm shutting up now, I promise.

Randomness: Testing the limits of my tolerance

I basically have no religion. I acknowledge the remote possibility that there might be a greater being out there but I honestly don't believe it. However, I don't have a problem with other people believing in god(s). It's their choice and while I might think they're deluding themselves in a pathetic attempt to make it seem like there's some sort of meaning to life, I tolerate it. In fact, I more than tolerate it - I simply don't give a damn.

In return for me having an amazing level of tolerance for people with differing beliefs to myself, I expect at least a level of tolerance towards my beliefs. Yes, my beliefs are based on science and I will argue with people if they attempt to justify their beliefs with shoddy pseudoscience, but I won't try to force my ideas on them. Therefore, when I recently commented on a post my devoutly Christian housemate made on Facebook, I expected him to have a polite argument with me and indeed he did. A friend of his, however, upon realising that I am essentially an atheist, proceeded to make unfounded accusations. Among them was his belief that because I have no religion, I must condone eugenics and that atheism is responisble for all sorts of atrocities (he made some comment about communism in relation to this, but it made no sense to me, so I'm not going to cover it).

Suffice to say, I was insanely pissed off. More than that, I was offended. How dare this stranger make assumptions about me based on the simple fact that I don't subscribe to a religion? How dare he suggest that I am an awful person because I don't agree with his religious teachings? How dare he make sweeping statements about entire philosophies of belief based on his own warped perceptions?

I have very rarely been so pissed off at someone. It takes a lot to make me truly lose my temper and it normally comes down to situations like this where people make unfounded accusations. The guy in question in asking what alternative to Christianity I could offer also made a rather snide remark about Islam by calling it the religion of peace with more than a little sarcasm. I refrained from pointing out to him that Islam wasn't the only faction responsible for the Crusades, nor that it was largely Christians who persectued the Jewish people for centuries. You see, these accusations are irrelevant. No one is responsible for the sins of their ancestors, so in the same way that I as an atheist am not responsible for anything done by prior atheists, neither are today's Christians responsible for the actions of their predecessors.

I have always respected religion. I'm of the opinion that while I think it's a little self-deluding, people need to believe in something, to believe that there is something greater out there. I pity extremists for not seeing the wonder of variety. I would never condemn an entire group of people based on a minority's belief. But when faced with people like this, even my tolerance is pushed to breaking. This is not like having polite arguments with my Christian housemate - while we disagree on many subjects, he's never made such ludicrous accusations about me. If making such accusations is the only way you have to make an argument, you have no argument at all and therefore I must conclude that you have little if any evidence to back your beliefs up.

Somehow I managed to disguise my anger at the person in question in my response. He's not replied to me as yet. If he does and does so politely, perhaps I'll enter into a proper discussion with him. But there is no point in me contiuing if he simply insults me again. It'd be like talking to a brick wall. One that's falling down and dropping bricks on your head every time you say something it doesn't like.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Randomness: In defence of science programming

On my daily morning trawl through my Twitter feed, I came across this:

"@ProfBrianCox: Can I ask anyone debating myself and @SarahVine not to insult anyone; It's a civilised disagreement, if adorned with colourful rhetoric"

I was bemused. Why was he debating with this vaguely familiar name? I scrolled further down. Found the beginning of their discussion. It turns out Ms Vine is a journalist for The Times (hence the vaguely familiar name) and had written an article claiming that younger, attractive presenters on science programmes were detracting from the science. Professor Cox is one of those younger, apparently attractive presenters, hence his apparent annoyance. Ms. Vine, in her article "TV science needs mad professors", writes that "[w]hen it comes to seriously brainy subjects such as physics, medicine, maths and history, I want my experts as nutty and as dishevelled as can be." She further asserted that the BBC's use of Prof. Cox as a presenter was an effort to sex up "fusty" subjects. She made several comments regarding Cox's appearance, describing him in the article as "handsome" and then on Twitter making a comment about his "dishiness". This, together with her opinion of science (and history) as fusty, suggests to me that she isn't actually all that interested in the subject if she's going to immediately write off huge chunks of academia as fusty. Hence my recent post on facebook:
Dear Sarah Vine,
If you think that having younger "dishy" presenters for science programmes is distracting you from the science, I'd suggest you probably weren't all that interested in the science in the first place. Now, go back to being beauty editor and kindly stop claiming that science programmes should have "nutty and dishevelled"... presentors. Have fun with your outdated stereotypes, darling.
Included in there is my other problem with her making such comments. She's beauty editor at The Times. By all means, she's free to write about what she wants, but what has science programming and its presenters got to do with beauty? Cox also raised an interesting point in their Twitter discussion: part of the reason kids are put off from going into science is because they perceive it as dominated by old men. If Ms. Vine finds it hard to focus past the presenter and onto the science, that's her loss. But to blame it on the broadcaster's choice of presenter is just ridiculous.
As it is, I've not yet seen Prof. Cox's latest series, it being only just showing in the UK and me being in Australia. However, I have seen his previous series and I found him an engaging presenter who explained things in a way easily accessible to those without much scientific knowledge. He also comes across as absolutely passionate about his subject. Yes, he is kinda cute but not once do I remember missing something he said because I was distracted by his "dishiness". And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to sit and giggle at his latest tweets, apparently written in his "real" accent. He's from Lancashire, it's awesome.
Actually, that brings up something else I saw today - apparently presenters with regional accents are harder to understand for some people, using Cox as an example. The article, published in The Telegraph, claims "a long-awaited BBC report has found that regional accents are an equally significant factor. The findings could explain why Prof Cox, with his distinctive Lancashire accent, struggles to be understood." Another load of absolute bull. For a start, while Cox does have a distinct accent, it's not particularly strong, certainly not strong enough to make him unintelligible. Secondly, I'm from Grimsby, which given the local accent may as well be in Yorkshire (Grimbarians do not like this, we don't like the Yorkies). Anyway, my point is, I grew up around Northern English accents. However, I have not once had an issue understanding someone from Southern England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland... unless it's really strong. So to say that regional accents can present a problem for some viewers is ridiculous. Foreign viewers, I can sort of understand - there's such a range of English/British accents and I imagine most foreign viewers learn from R.P English, or a generic Southern accent like Estuary English (or American English, grr). I hope this is what the article meant, because if British folks are having trouble understanding the range of accents... dear god. Anyway, shutting up now. If you're UK-based, you should totally catch Prof. Cox's Wonders Of The Universe series. I imagine it's awesome.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Seriousness: Japan earthquake and tsunami

I think we all know by now about the huge earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan on March 11th. I'm not going to go over the details - a lot of people are confirmed dead and many more are still unaccounted for. Large areas are still under water and there are major problems at at least one of the country's nuclear power plant.

Suffice to say, help is needed. You can donate via the Red Cross and other charities, but there are many smaller fundraising efforts in effect. These are more likely to get the donations directly to the people who need it and so perhaps it's worth your time to dig some of them out. Personally, I donated to the band One-Eyed Doll's relief campaign. They're giving away an entirely new song for any price you're willing to pay (even free, although that does rather defeat the point). All profits made between March 11th and April 1st will go towards the relief effort, directly into the country, hopefully bypassing any administration costs and the like. As of about an hour ago, they've raised $312. It may not seem much, but every little helps in this situation. You can download the track and read more about it HERE.

My thoughts are with everyone affected by this disaster.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Review: Break by One-Eyed Doll

And second of the reviews, One-Eyed Doll's most recent album, Break. Actually wrote this a few weeks ago, but no harm in posting it here too. Again, have a listen, let me know what you think.

Break by One-Eyed Doll
Release date: March 20th 2010 (independent release through Kimberly Freeman Productions)
Genre: rock/metal/punk...thing

Rating: 10/10

Opening with the upbeat Airplane Man, One-Eyed Doll's most recent album Break throws you straight into the action. Following up with Beautiful Freak, a track I can only call an anthem for the misfits, Break is already looking to be a brilliant album and we haven't even got to the best tracks yet.

One-Eyed Doll are a rock-punk-metal something band from Austin, Texas. Break is their third self-released album and continues with the brilliance found on the first two. The style's kind of hard to define, hence settling with “rock-metal-punk something”. It's not all headlong charges through some sort of metal/rock/punk hybrid though. Tracks such as Murder Ballad (a ballad, obviously) and New Orleans show the band's slightly softer side while Redneck Love Song shows that they're very much capable of making silly tracks just for the fun of it (also evidenced on previous albums with tracks such as Be My Friend (about a serial killer) and Nudie Bar).

There's something of a morbid influence present on a fair number of tracks, Murder Ballad, Murder Suicide and Cinderblock in particular. The whole feel though is somewhat offset by vocalist and frontwoman, Kimberly Freeman's deceptively sweet vocals. I love those vocals – wonderfully sweet and yet at times so harsh and at others so sinister.

The album is driven by solid drums and simple but effective guitar riffs, which is really all the backing Freeman's voice needs. This is music that makes you move. Hell, I hate headbanging – it gives me a headache – but I couldn't resist the force of Break.

Closing with the somewhat epic Resurrection, Break is definitely an album worth buying if you're at all into rock, metal or punk of any kind. With that mash of influences, it should appeal to a fairly wide audience. Stand out tracks are hard to choose, but the rather dream-pop opening of Bumble Bee makes it a favourite of mine, alongside the dark tones of New Orleans. It's fairly rare for me to give a perfect rating to an album, but Break is well-deserving of it - I simply can't find anything wrong with it.

Review: Ruthless EP by Me And The Mountain

I'll have to look at getting a new Band Of The Week done tomorrow - haven't posted one for weeks! But for now, I have a couple of new reviews for your reading pleasure. First up is Me And The Mountain's debut EP, Ruthless. Have a listen and let me know what you think.

Ruthless EP – Me and the Mountain
Release date: 9th March 2011 (through Beehive Recordings)
Genre: Rock

Rating: 7/10

I've been eagerly awaiting Me and the Mountain's debut EP for several months and for a debut EP, it pretty much lives up to expectations. Easy on the ears, radio-friendly, female fronted rock, with a slightly hard edge to it. Opening track Hands To Yourself, originally released as the band's first single back in November last year is easily the strongest on the EP, a good driving track which displays the range of the vocalist. She's backed up on several tracks by one of the two guitarists and the bassist and while the male-female contrast is there, it stands out better in acoustic performances. None of them on this EP unfortunately, but I feel the contrast is something that could be worked on and improved in future material.

Throughout the EP, there is the slight feel that the rhythm section isn't particularly varied. I noticed this particularly on Hands To Yourself and the following track This Is What You Do. Although the EP as a whole has a slightly samey feel to it (probably not helped by that oddly similar rhythm section on the first two tracks), the tracks have enough variety to keep you interested. Third track Diamonds & Co begins as an almost ballad before exploding into life. Following on is the oddly fun Ruthless. However, my favourite tracks have to be The Invincibles and Silver Lining. This may simply be because they're the tracks I've known the longest, having heard acoustic versions back in November, but they are brilliant tracks. The Invincibles makes me wonder who these mysterious Invincibles are – the only reference I can find is to a variety of sports teams – and why do you need to keep up change for them? Silver Lining just has some wonderful lyrics:

“Sinks too low,
My body's forgotten how to float.
Treading water's just a joke.”

And this brings us to closing track As Yet Unknown. Another track where the opening notes at least sound rather similar to some of the previous tracks. That said, it's a great closer. The whole idea of “As yet unknown” leaves you free to wonder how Me and the Mountain will progress on their next release. If this EP is anything to go by, I think we can expect a pretty damn decent follow up, although hopefully without that samey feeling.

They sound almost more wonderful acoustic, by the way – check out their Youtube for some acoustic covers. It's scrummy.