Wednesday, 19 November 2008

So what in the holy hell is going on... #2

Evening chaps, so now things are underway again, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the scene and see where we all stand.

Firstly, what the hell is going on with the people of Britain at the present time. Really, Glasvegas, why should anyone bother. Anyone can play a gig wearing black in total darkness with some coloured smoked out lighting and make it look good. The tipping of the iceberg for me, is the drummer, who looks like my mother and stands when she drums, what the hell is that???

Now moving onto some better news, Oasis are firmly back in the business, and they've just announced their biggest shows to date next summer, and these surely will be the Gigs of the 00s. Oasis, Wembley Stadium, supported by Kasabian and The Enemy. I said the day after Glastonbury, next year Oasis to headline, supported by Kasabian and The Enemy, now that may not be happening on the Pyramid, but at the helm of everything English, Wembley Stadium, this is the motherload! Possibly the most exciting gig that I've ever looked forward to.

Moving onto more of an electronic feel, which I'm going to make more prominent in this blog. I know I'm kind of late on the bandwagon for Fidget House and the scene is kinda moving on now, with Switch and Crookers going to a bit deeper, especially with the pioneering of Club-step in the past few months. However, after I've played some of the stuff last uni year and this year, it's only been in the last few months that the masses have really started to take to it. Crookers remix of Day 'n' Night has clearly helped with it's popularity in Malia etc. It's like 2006 when Bodyrox took the mainstream by storm and hammered home the commercial electro house beats that were mainly underground prior. Then of course Justice took it one step further and incorprated Dance-punk with Electro and Indie on 4/4 beats to produce one the most iconic albums this decade. I feel the electro scene at the moment, and particularly the tech-house movement over the pond that's steadiy producing waves in Europe makes the industry the strongest it's been since the dawn of Daft Punk and The Chemical Brothers, The Crystal Method and Prodigy took Norman Cook's conventions and produced some of the greatest Big-beat music ever.

There's a huge market at the moment for the remix artist, but slowly but surely the producer's are coming back to town. Deadmau5 is helping with that, with transforming the Progressive circuit practically overnight, his #11 placing on the chart for me is the only true reflection of the progression of music in the past year. Trance will probably carry on to 'reign supreme' for a few more years to come (In the words of Mike Fucking Skinner: "oh yay, oh yay"), but let it be known that Joel will have his day, and when he does, I will be there to fucking see it!

That's pretty much all I have to say for now, apart from check out a rather tasty young fellow in Surkin, if you haven't already. His 'Next of Kin' EP is by the power of ra, HOT!

Mr. Lee... out!

Monday, 17 November 2008

So what in the holy hell is going on...

Hi there.


In January I started a blog here, with the intention of posting on it regularly, and it started to become quite a little hobby of mine, until the summer set in, I got into the party mood, then University began again, and Mr. Lee, didn't do no blogs no more...

Well, I'd just like to say that I'm am now back, but with a whole new zesting passion to write and a several new mediums to promote the blog, but first, for all you people that are new to this blog, lets just re-fresh and re-introduce.

I'm Lee, 19, and a Journalism Student at UCA in Farnham. I'm in my second year, specialising in Radio & TV Journalism. I co-host a podcast that I produce in the radio studio at my university, with a course mate that we started at the end of last year and are starting up again early November (EarsToTheSkies). The podcast has had some attention from a Radio DJ working at Life 103.6 FM that airs over Central/North London and the Web, who wants us to roll together a 5-minute segment each week to feature on his 4-5pm Sunday Showcase Session. I'm quite proud about that :D.
Then on the side I run a night and DJ at my university's union once a month-ish called Liquid Lives, I'm going to start asking guest DJs to play sets from the start of next year, which will hopefully make the night bigger and better! I write for a website called SonicDice, writing album/single reviews, going along to gigs and reviewing them aswell, so that takes up a wee bit of time.

Then along with all that, I have to fit in my university work, assignments, reading and research, so you can tell I'm pretty busy at the moment. However, I'm now going to endevour and try to post on this blog three times a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and by the start of January, work towards going completely independant from Blogger, with monies paying for my own site. That is the plan anyway.

I'm always interested in the idea of guest writers and contributers, whatever your idea, pitch it to me, anyone with an idea is creative!

Right, well this is going to be the first post, then on Wednesday I'll have another of these sorts of posts letting you know what's been going on, but on the music industry side etc, then on Friday I'm going to talk about Award ceremonies, reflecting on last month's Mercury, the upcoming DJ 100, and outline my shortlists for albums of the year, dance and rock. Then starting next month, will be the launch of the blog once again, so get ready, I am coming!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Album Review - Bloc Party

Bloc Party

Coming off of the back of the most successful year of the bands career that ended with the release of one of the year’s biggest indie dance tracks and the bands biggest UK tour to date, Bloc Party entered into 2008 as one of the biggest rising bands in the world – their Last.FM stats tell the true story; you don’t achieve over 36 million plays just by a stroke of luck.If this album does not surpass the feats of the previous two and scale to the top spot in the charts, then I will give up my attempts to become an established music journalist here and now.

‘Intimacy’ is a hugely experimental third release for the London based foursome who produced the performances of their lives at Reading and Leeds, minus Gordon.Prior to this performance, the album was released unto the world via their official website as a download for the mere price of £5, and £10 if you wished to pre order the physical release CD scheduled for October 24th, on top of the download. You’d think that it be a coincidence the album was released prior to their Reading and Leeds performances, and for that you may now accept the award for ‘The Most Gullible Individual in World History’.

Also described by Kele as ‘The Break-Up Album’ of their releases so far, he said that he wrote many of the songs about a bad break-up he had at the end of last year. Some of the best indie music has been written about break-ups in recent years – Arctics’ 505, Killers Mr. Brightside, Hard-Fi Better Do Better, I could go on – but the point is, Kele’s trying to move the band in a seriously positive direction. Yes, music has been moving towards a more dance driven state for a few years now, but the fact that Kele also supplied vocals for The Chemical Brothers Believe would explain he’d have to have some passion for dance music even before he’d begun to write ‘A Weekend in the City’, or maybe that’s just a coincidence as well.

“Now let’s get this party started”, is what should have been the first words ushered by Kele on the opening track Ares, however they were in fact “War, war, war ,war”, exactly the same words being subconsciously screamed by the new hate fad surrounding the band post-Mercury. However, what is certain about this new experimental sound, is that it’s truly explosive, endlessly dynamic and ultimately, fucking brilliant.
Next up is new single Mercury whose characteristic looping introduction is what all the fuss is about. Kele has said that this new release isn’t meant to be listened to sitting down and immersed in, but to be danced to. So with that spirit in mind, I’ve cracked a few glow sticks and am sitting in the dark with my 150mW green laser pumping sonic juice around my bedroom; now things are starting to really make sense. Yes ok, Nu Rave is deader than most of Michael Barrymore’s guests but if I’m to really experience this first hand, then it has to be done.

Moving deeper into the LP, there is a thunderous drive in the bass-line and riffs of Halo, that’s easily the most experimental track on the release, there’s a sister track to Song for Clay within Biko and attempts as recreating the grimy rock of ‘Silent Alarm’ with One Month Off. However, the real power of this album is locked inside eighth track Zephyrus; as the Greek god of the west wind you expect it to be a mellow track, however it doesn’t live up to the idea of being gentle, on the contrary it mimics the god’s greed and lust. “So let's take this from the start, you'll be me and I'll be you”, think of The Prayer being turned up to the max, but spliced with the passion and core of Like Eating Glass and you’re about a 1/3 of the way there. I went through a break up last year as well so I can sympathise with how Kele felt when he wrote this song. Along with Positive Tension from the debut, I can tell this track will become one of my favourite Bloc Party songs.

The only thing that is starting to worry me is that even after the third album release, they still haven’t been able to compose a band defining, set closing monster track that will cement them as one of the best live bands in the country. The Arctics’ managed this at the first (A Certain Romance) and second (If You Were There, Beware) attempts. Many would suggest the soulful entity of This Modern Love would suffice, yet songs of that nature are wrote and engineered as set intervals, that break up the performance.

Bloc Party have truly jumped into the big league and are ready to become the band they always promised to be. Come 2010 and album number four should be a decade defining masterpiece, touching the Amazon rain forest of course though.


Thursday, 14 August 2008

Album Review: Hawnay Troof

Hawnay Troof
Islands of Ayle

I’m sure all of you understanding people out there will appreciate how I feel right now. Waking up from a heavy night of drinking in London, with the biggest hangover of my life with an imminent 4pm-2am shift at work starting in a few hours, to find that my first promos through the post from SonicDice includes this artist. Hawney Troof – the hitchhiker’s definition of flamboyant Electro-Pop. The hairs on my skin stood up in what felt like the most intense braingasm ever experienced by a human being, I do think not matron.I’d once heard of the artist through the acclaimed EP Community released in between his first two LPs that the internet had a bit of a generation-wank to. I wasn’t much impressed back then, however, time is a healer.

Islands of Ayle is the third LP released by the solo project of 24 year-old California based producer Vice Cooler, a multi talented musician, photographer and writer who outside of his music commitments has written books and makes regular contributions to magazines such as Rolling Stone and The Wire. His other past and recent commitments include punk band XBXRX, who in 10 years have knocked out 6 full albums and 13 singles & EPs; and this is whilst keeping up with Hawney Troof, his writing and a host of other artists that he makes contributions for. Quite a busy man most of you will agree.

The album opens to the screeching sound of Suspension and Conclusion, it’s not clear whether Vice is trying to imitate MIA or convulse in a daring attempt at making a psychedelic mockery of Muse.Then what greets you is possibly the strangest track that I have ever heard in my life, Front My Hope which should be re-titled Can You Cope, it sounds a lot like what The Magic Roundabout would exist as in a shroom infested entity of Amy Winehouse; all accompanied with a complimentary bunny rabbit choir; tasty.Although things really begin to kick off with the next track Underneath the Ocean that fortunately does speak truly of MIA and Santogold’s work.

The only thing about this album starting to puzzle me is that clearly the only people that could ever possibly dance to it are members of the Ministry of Silly Walks or naked Playboy Bunnies covered in oil. It’s a pulsating electro rollercoaster, laden with more than a necessary quantity of synthesizers, some of the deepest bass on earth and a lyrical structure that begs for appreciation; Hawney Troof is definitely one of the most underrated artists that I’ve been fortunate enough to listen to this year. “Little dude little dude, won’t you see the floor, it will not change the rules of school” If ninth track Oblivions is anything to go by, then his live performances are guaranteed to raise a few eyebrows when he inevitably embarks on another world tour – that last time round saw him playing in such obscure places as China and Egypt, which after he wrote a book about the 20-month long tour entitled Dollar and Deed Tour that sold out over the internet within an hour.

Vice Cooler is re-defining how to be a solo artist, his passion for everything new and inventive is one of the reasons that caught Retard Disco’s eye five years ago, and he’s a massive underground inspiration for many of America’s aspiring electro/pop acts. Order a copy of this and you won’t be disappointed, unless of course you prefer to live a life consumed within your mainstream electro of Justice and Daft Punk; now there’s nothing is wrong with that really and no one else will be that bothered, but you’ll always know you were a lazy faggot when it came to musick.

This review is also posted over at SonicDice


Monday, 21 July 2008

Album Review: CSS


Going boldly where no band has gone before, CSS showed in 2006 that you can sing songs about ’Hot Hot Sex’ and still come out the other end smelling of roses. However in 2007 it seemed the media and the fans had got caught up amidst the sparkly cat suits and on stage naughtiness and the then six-piece were becoming somewhat of an industry joke. What seemed like the only standard procedure for Brazilian-born Cansei De Ser Sexy, was to prove that the impending hangover was not one of a stroppy spotted, virginity vacant teen, but a Timpson polished, Trevor Sorbie groomed, Tommy Hilfiger styled, full power 11-track record that proves their roots run deeper than the pockets of Mr. Abramovich; who recently hired out the band to play at his daughter’s 16th birthday. Spoilt little shit.

The LP opens to the ‘dramatic’ Jager Joga, which acts as a kind of bridge between the insane lyrics of their self titled debut and the prudent, distinguished ‘Donkey’.“We didn’t come into the world, to walk around/we came here, to take you out”.I see this track also as one of those ones where a band inevitably stops playing instruments and enacts an everlasting wall of clapping noise from the audience, and despite the now 60 years of modern music on this earth, people are still falling for its simple effectiveness. What happened to the good old “DAAAAYYYEEEOOOOOOO”, maybe someone should resurrect Freddie.

Moving onwards through the album it’s hard to decipher whether the band are drawing upon the old 80s New Wave influences of their past work or are trying to spunk on minimal electro with heavy symbols and one chord guitar solos.However, I do feel that with the departure of bass player Iracema Trevisan, the freeing up of Adriano on Bass has allowed the band to become a lot more masculine. The bridges are deeper and the vocals are clearer cut, but the lairy boldness is there to stay with third track ‘Reggae All Night’, sounding like Groove Armada had a fight with Erol Alkon over the BPM speeds and The Ghost Frequency spat blood on the lead pads. Lovefoxxx as ever taking the lead and riding like the nocturnal vixen she always has been.
The programming and Synths that I’ve heard from this album are at best the basics of a Minimoog or a £25 Toys ‘R’ Us X-Mas sales bargain, but it works and that’s what is important.The lyrical structure has somewhat changed, and there isn’t so much of a place for Adriano to lay his Drug Dealer features on backing, he just kind of mumbles it out, concentrating too hard on his bass.I kind of lost my way with ‘Give Up’, half way through the first, second and third listen I just skipped the second part of the track completely and went straight to the album’s signature single ‘Left Behind’, which last month was made available for FREE DOWNLOAD by the band via their website.What surprised me about this track was that it was written by Adriano, but maybe that’s justice. Lovefoxxx sounds very comfortably singing it, but it doesn’t have the sound or feel of typical CSS, it’s much more edgy, and it sparks fuller intent to make their new points heard.

Moving into the middle of the album, ‘Beautiful Song’ doesn’t really sound that different from the fourth track and the fifth, the drumming is the same, the leads are the same, and the vocals may carry a different message, but it comes over very flat and unoriginal. Sung by Jim Carey on behalf of Germany on Eurovision, it might get 12 points from Austria, but that’s about as far as it goes I’m Afraid.
‘How I Became Afraid’ is much better, the opening sounds like a cross between the Nightrider and Miami Vice themes, you can just sense from the first beat it’s going to make you smile, even if you have no idea why. It’s probably the poppiest song of the record, and the most fun. However, I’ve got to the seventh song of this record now, and nothing jumping out and shouting at me like ‘Patins’ or ‘Alala’ off of the debut.At this moment I’m starting to think that Adriano should have stayed on drums; the rhythm of the album is all over the place and it bears no conventions of a journey through 11 tracks, almost as if they’ve been chucked together, carefully but utterly pointlessly.If you’ve ever tried to play Operation with RSI then you’ll understand where I’m coming from: IT JUST DOESN’T WORK! On the other hand, I have to give them Kudos for naming an album Donkey, it doesn’t sound fetching at the best of times, but I bet it’s something funny to tell people when you’re drunk. “Yeah I wrote an album called Donkey... Eeeoreee”Despite this sudden barrage of criticism, ‘Move’ is one that is growing on me, Late of the Pier could easily fuck with this song and turn it into a dancefloor destroyer, but it’s much better left alone with is summery kicks and cheesy lyrics.“You better get your move on/all the good boys, will have gone”Lovefoxxx is clearly already missing the mishaps and filth of their previous work. Art Bitch will always be one of 2006’s disgusting examples of innocent pop, but I wouldn’t have had it either way.

I think the sheer disappointment can always be summarised in an album, when the last two tracks make you smile more than the first, giving you a false impression that the whole piece was brilliant.The penultimate song believe achieve is priceless, full of minimal electronica goodness and catchy bass lines is an improvement, but prominent fakery and the horniness of Lovefoxxx will always be welcome in this world.Closing off the album is surprisingly a very tasty evening supplement with ‘Air Painter’, maybe it’s an insight into the band’s direction for the third outing, if it gets here. Lovefoxxx still appears to be as full of life as ever, and although she’s produced a much more cautious record the second time round. However, with all the difficulties with the departure of Iracema and the bands manager, you can’t help but think this could be the last. I really hope not, as I’m a huge fan of their work and their live shows are possibly the closest thing to viewing porn in public for a small fee I’ve come across in this country. What... it’s true.

The band are embarking on a small UK Tour in October to play out the album in smaller venues than previously, although it won’t be soon before they return to the heights of Wembley Arena they managed last time around.


Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Glastonbury 2008: Review #2

Glastonbury 2008
Thursday 26th June

Awaking at a friends' house in Charlton Adam, a very small village just south of the Festival me and a mate Corin set off for the gate at 8am, eager to avoid the second rush of people to the festival.
Luckily I already knew some people who were working for Oxfam over the week so they'd saved us a space on Kidney Mead field, which is literally less than a 5 minute walk from the Pyramid, what a touch! Also more luckily we was at the top of a hill, so any rain that falls would run down the hill and not into my fucking tent!
After we'd pitched our tent by around 9 and made the second journey back to the car for beer and food we set off to explore the site at 10am. After around 20 miuntes or so, I really began to understand why this fesitval was so popular and why it has such a heritage and reputation. Being able to freely walk around the stages with my own beer is something that the Gatecrasher Weekender really lacks. Glastonbury is much more about the music and not digging deeper and deeper into your pocket!
We spent much of the day literally just walking around, soaking up as much of the festival fever as we could, I knew that I'd regret not doing things afterwards if I didn't.
We walked in and out of a few of the smaller stages that have music on for Thursday, but there wern't many bands that I've even heard of that were playing that day, the only thing i was waiting for was seeing The Rascals in leftfield at half 6.
I saw the band for the first time on the MTV Spanking New Music Tour supporting The Pigeon Detectives, and was blown away by their raw sound. Admitedly yes, everyone says they sound like the Monkeys and yes they do, but what would everyone have thought about them, had the Monkeys never existed. The bassist is amazing, his ability to turn a performance around with a few fine strums of his deep lobster pinching sound really gets the crowd going.
I watched many of the crowd warm to the band, but it wasn't until they launched into new single 'Freakbeat Phantom' did the party really start going and by the time they finished off with 'Is It Too Late?' the crowd were yearning for more. The real shame about that song, is its their best piece to date, yet it wasn't included in their album, and would have proved the perfect closer.

Sitting around the fire with the group of 6 we had in our little tent circle, sipping bear and burning anything we could find, I started to really feel the Glastonbury spirit come alive. The one thing that I noticed as I walked around on thursday was although people were in agony walking their bags to their tent site, and pitching their tent, once it was all done, not a single soul could do anything other than smile their arses off at about what waited them on Friday.