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.