Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Recently I found an old CD of the kind of songs I was listening to three or four years ago, and the one thing that struck me, apart from how good some (but certainly not all) of the songs still sounded, was how few of those bands made any kind of lasting impression. Here’s a few examples from that CD, mostly of bands that you will have faint memories of, but haven’t brought out anything new in years. So here it is, a bit of nostalgia for bands that only released their debut albums a few years ago…

The Rakes – We Danced Together

Not a bad band at all, benefited greatly from the success of Bloc Party around the same time, that kind of New Wave revival, which has passed on again without really leaving any significant acts. Still though, not a bad tune at all.

Shy Child – Drop the Phone

This was one of the first vaguely electro sounding tunes I ever had a passion for. It came out in 2006/7, and although other bands before and since have gone on to do the same thing better, it was a good crossover song for indie-kids with a curiosity about electronic music. Bastardised indie/electro has become the norm now, thanks lads.

The Mars Volta – Televators

They were huge for a small while, and they’re still going, the even won a Grammy as recently as 2009, but in truth, you don’t hear much about the Mars Volta on this side of the Atlantic any more. This tune is from their inspired “De-Loused in the Comatorium” album, which came out in 2003. Televators eschews their typical frantic style in favour of some kind of apocalypto-folk.

The Bravery – Fearless

They were meant to be the next big thing, but then The Killers came along with their horribly overrated debut album Hot Fuss, and the Bravery were, effectively thrown by the wayside, where they have remained to this day. And yes, before you ask, I am aware that the Bravery, are on the whole, a shite band, but they were capable of the odd moment  of magic. The Goran Ivanisevic of music.  

The Zutons – Don’t Ever Think

This tune was amazingly popular when it first came out, but the Liverpudlians could never really build on the success of their first album. People now think their song “Valerie” is Amy Winehouse’s, and really, it might as well be. If you mention the Zutons to anyone these days, they’ll either stare blankly or say “jeez I wouldn’t mind riding yer wan”.

Here’s a few more blasts from the (recent) past:

Do you remember these lads? No? That's because they're the Vines

The Von Bondies, The Departure, Late of the Pier, The Vines, The Young Knives, The 22-20’s, My Red Cell, The Hives, The Subways, Hard-Fi, Director.

Music is fairly fickle alright, and who’s to say these lads couldn’t have made it instead of, say Kings of Leon? They’re all just as good/bad as each other.

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It’s a scientific fact that the fundamental cause of everything in existence is energy i.e. that at the sub-atomic and quantum level everything is vibrating energy (if you don’t believe this then your essentially a Hiroshima/Nagasaki denier, amongst other things!). A familiar maths equation which backs up this claim is E = Mc2. ‘E’ here is energy, ‘M’ is matter, and ‘c’ is the speed of light, squared. Einstein’s special theory of relativity equation proves that at the basis of all matter is energy and that, we musn’t forget, light plays a very important role too but we’ll get to that in a bit.

One important fact to know here is that every single thing in existence has a natural vibration to it.

Illustration showing the positions of the seven chakras

That’s everything, from our atoms to the earth to the universe. Ben Stewarts controversial and thought provoking film Estoric Agenda notes this and also highlights another interesting fact. He points out that every human being has a set of Harmonic Focal Points, which is attested to by many in western medicine as well as eastern religious and medical praticises, which correlate with the earths very own vibrational frequencies. These Harmonic Focal Points are better known to us as Chakras and are generally symbolised by the image of the Lotus Flower. This is around about the area that you start getting into arguments about pseudo-sciences with science graduates but bare with me as I tread on this all too frequently condensending ground in which science sometimes shows its darker side.

The general idea behind them is that on our all bodies there are seven points at which vibrations accumulate and in Eastern philosophies these are used to bring health and balance to the physical and spiritual body. In the Western world these seven Chakra points correlate with the nervous and endocrine systems. As Anodea Judith writes in her book Wheels of Life “On a physical level, chakras correspond to nerve ganglia, where there is a high degree of nervous activity, and also to glands in the endocrine system.” The earth also has seven Chakra points at equally distant locations from each other on each continent.

Getting back to a more pragmatic explaination of all this then, the earth has a solid molten iron crystal which resonates at approximatley 7 Hz. We also know that the earth is covered in energy vortexes in which electromagnetic energy eminates. It is the oscillation of the different frequencies in this electromagnetic wave that gives us different forms of electromagnetic radiation such as (we didn’t forget) our friend light. Oscillations at lower frequencies are radio waves and at the highest frequencies gamma rays. Knowing this may help put into perspective just how much of whats going on in the universe our senses don’t and can’t concieve. When these are gridded and aligned, converging spots correlate to the chakras of the human body. Some of the places where these energy vortexes converge along the equator are actually the cause of radio and compass malfunctions such as at Bermuda.

Electromagnetic spectrum with light highlighted

The Original Solfeggio Scale was a scale which was based on the frequencies of the earth and was used by the church in the ancient gregorian chants. That’s why those chants have those droning sounds; the different frequencies the earth resonates at are meant to relate to a certain emotion, for example singing at the frequency of 741 Hz was meant to awaken intuition.

Of course today one very popular way we manipulate energy and frequencies is to create that special atmosphere at a music concert or festival. The bands pouring out of human energy through electrified instruments translated into soundwaves which stirs the energy in the listener which in turn feeds the band again creates that atmosphere where everyone feels like one. And that’s what its all about really. Good vibrations.

Mount Kimbie – Crooks and Lovers

Posted: July 19, 2010 by undergroundfisherman in Music
Tags: , , , ,

What I’m about to write will make me seem like Mount Kimbie’s new publicist, but I want as many people as possible to check their tunes out.  Not to be confused with New Zealanders Mt Eden, their debut album, Crooks and Lovers, has impressed me in a way that very few artists have lately.

Their music has been tentatively classed as dubstep, but it’s not as straightforward as just pinning them to one mast. This album is packed full of organic-sounding instrumentation and multiple layers of sound that work together really well. It’s been the kind of music that I’ve been looking for lately, and one which fits into a progressive, Joy Orbison/Nouveaunoise/Flying Lotus way of thinking.

Here, have another one:

Most people reading this blog will quite rightly hate the fact that the most famous people in rock today are Brandon Flowers from the Killers, Gary Lighbody from Snow Patrol, and of course Coldplay. This is, frankly, wrong. What happened to all the “characters” in music? How come today’s musicians have no personality? Here’s what they used to be like…

Sun Ra inspired many to be innovative with their music

Sun Ra

Well known for his Cosmic Philosophy, Sun Ra has been posthumously accredited as one of the forebears of electronic music. Born in 1914, Sun Ra and his “Arkestra” toured non-stop for years, playing some really funky, experimental jazz along the way.

Space, religion and mysticism were his main sources of inspiration, and while in college in 1936/7, he claims to have had a religious vision which shaped him into the musician he became. Looking back on the event in a 1956 interview he said, my whole body changed into something else. I could see through myself. And I went up … I wasn’t in human form … I landed on a planet that I identified as Saturn … they teleported me and I was down on stage with them. They wanted to talk with me. They had one little antenna on each ear. A little antenna over each eye. They talked to me. They told me to stop [attending college] because there was going to be great trouble in schools … the world was going into complete chaos … I would speak [through music], and the world would listen. That’s what they told me”.

There’s no doubt he was a serious musician, but it was hard to take him seriously at the same time. His costumes, inspired by the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt, and his abstract, essentially structureless music meant that a lot of people thought he was just a drug-crazed chancer. To be honest, he quite possibly was… as this video suggests Still though, you gotta respect way he did things, he’s a lot more interesting than Chris Martin anyways. His career took off properly in 1953, when he “started off playing advanced bop, but early on was open to the influences of other cultures, experimenting with primitive electric keyboards, and playing free long before the avant-garde got established”. Here’s a great example of that early period, which isn’t a million miles away from the sound the Doors would adopt over a decade later.

Captain Beefheart

Another experimental type of fella, the Captain has been described as as one of the frontrunners of punk, before the genre was even invented. Writer Mike Barnes has said that Beefheart, (who is known to his mother as Don Van Vliet) was “one of modern music’s true innovators, with a singular body of work virtually unrivalled in its daring and fluid creativity.” More praise came in the form of his 1969 album, Trout Mask Replica, being named as #58 in a Rolling Stone list of the top 500 albums of all time. Legendary English DJ John Peel was another fan of his eccentric style and diverse sound, claiming that he had influenced an untold amount of current musicians, saying “If there has ever been such a thing as a genius in the history of popular music, it’s Beefheart… I heard echoes of his music in some of the records I listened to last week and I’ll hear more echoes in records that I listen to this week”. To be honest, it’s not my cup of tea at all, but the fact that someone who made music like this attracted a cult following is great, because it’s important to see diversity in music.  


Lou Reed

The drug-riddled frontman (are you starting to see a pattern here?) of The Velvet Underground, the band which brought us classic songs such as “Waiting for my Man”, “Heroin” and “Venus in Furs”, became way more subversive, and equally brilliant when he embarked on his solo career. On his own, he came up with more great tunes such as “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” and “Perfect Day”- which Bono and Pavarotti managed to ruin.

As his ego and drug intake rose to unprecedented levels, he released Metal Machine Music in 1975. Made up entirely of white noise and distortion, it’s an album which has divided critics since day one. Some think its the shambolic nonsense of someone who needed a bit of drug money, or as Rolling Stone Magazine put it; “like the tubular groaning of a galactic refrigerator”. There have been others that disagree, and say it’s an inspired work of postmodern soundscapes. Again, it doesn’t matter whether you think it’s good or not, the real point is that people were making stuff like this back in 1975, and musicians don’t seem to have the courage to do something like this now.

David Bowie

OK, so everyone knows about David Bowie, but how many people in today’s music scene are anywhere close to the levels of audacity that Bowie consistently delivered? Here’s a nice reminder…


Sligo Jazz Festival

Posted: July 8, 2010 by fonnaguschakra in Music, Music Festivals
Tags: , ,

As well as already buzzing from the wins over Mayo and Galway in the Championship and the fact that The Wailers are coming to Ballymote in September (https://universalgrassroots.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/music-and-arts-festival-for-sligo/), Sligo will be having its now anual Jazz Festival in just a couple of weeks, further demostrating how dynamic this small county is.

Sligo Jazz 2010 combines education, inspiration and entertainment by marrying together Ireland’s biggest jazz summer school with a festival line up of world class performers. Running from the 20th July to the 25th the nightly gigs and jam sessions will accompany the summer school that makes up the project and will include workshops and masterclasses amongst other activities.

For festival info see www.sligojazz.ie and for info on the summer school see www.sligojazzproject.com

Well it’s quite simple really, here’s a round-up of some of the latest important albums and singles that have been released in the crazy world of contemporary music

Aeroplane – We can’t Fly

The self-referential song title is a nice touch, and this funky, disco-influenced piece of summery electro is bound to go down well with fans of Belgium’s up-and coming duo.

Tobacco – Fresh Hex (featuring Beck)

Beck is one of my favourite artists of all time, and here he teams up with Tobacco – an experimental electro outfit from Pittsburgh who are not afraid to push the boundaries a bit. This tune is from their new album, Maniac Meat, which came out about a week ago. It sounds pretty rough and aggressive, which is always nice.

Magnetic Man – I Need Air

I want your opinions on this one, because I’m really not convinced at all. I’m putting it up here because you would assume that a collaboration between Skream and Benga, two of dubstep’s real powerhouses from the early days, would have created something really special. Instead, the result is a very average, middle-of-the-road dance tune. These two lads may well be another example of dubstep’s elder statesmen taking a very dangerous step towards mainstream mediocrity.

Big Boi – General Patton

Outkast have long been the most forward-thinking rap groups in the current crop. Their Speakerboxx/ The Love Below album is one of the best Hip-Hop albums ever. The trouble about this for Big Boi is that he was never seen in the same light as his songwriting partner Andre Benjamin, who was always perceived to be the creative force behind the project. This album, called Sir Lucious Left Foot, shows that Big Boi can be just as inventive as Andre, and arguably a better rapper.

Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma (album)

Flying Lotus - one cool bastard

I saved the best ’til last – Flying Lotus, aka Steven Ellison – the nephew of jazz legends John and Alice Coltrane – recently released this brilliant, psychedelic and diverse album about a month ago. All the jazz influences he inherited are on show here, and it’s pretty damn special. I was going to put up a video of one of his tunes, but I couldn’t decide which one. Anyways, that’s a good thing because there is a very deliberate flow to Cosmogramma. To get a more rounded view of the way his songs melt together to create one cohesive unit, his set at the recent Sónar Festival in Barcelona was a great example. It really is worth sitting down and listening to the whole 21 minutes.

http://soundcloud.com/hypetrak/flying-lotus-a-taste-of-sonar-2010

After much talk and anticipation amongst music blogs, a lot of hard work and a lot of organising the day finally came for the west of Ireland duo Nial Conway and Connor Gaffney of Nouveaunoise to offically launch their first album Paraphrase Accolade at the Academy 2 on Friday 2nd July.

The night was a huge success and the lads themselves said afterwards they couldn’t of have been happier with how it went. I’m not gonna try and write an objective account of the gig here as being the brother of one half of the duo leaves me in a pretty biased position but I will give you an audio and visual account with these videos and photos which will hopefully give some idea of why this promising band is so highly regarded already in Ireland.

Keep an ear on Dan Hegarty’s alternative music show Mondays to Thursdays 9pm-11pm on 2FM to catch some Nouveaunoise tunes or if around the Dublin area tune into Phantom FM. Or you could catch them at one of the following gigs;

9 Jul 2010 0:00
Trans Festival Belfast Belfast, .  
16 Jul 2010 22:00
Nouveaunoise Tour Kelly’s, Galway, ., IRELAND  
22 Jul 2010 18:00
Tower Records Tower Records Dublin, .  
23 Jul 2010 11:30
Knockanstockan Blessington Lakes, Wicklow, .

 

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