Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Spotify is dead... long live Spotify

I might expand this into an actual article at some point, but for the moment, here's a reply to this Louderthanwar post about Spot...

At the end of the day, Spotify lost a fuckton of money; it has little to do with labels (especially in the EU, where they already licenced their catalogues). Spotify is a business; it lost money, so its business model had to change.

Also, let's just point out as regards your allegory that those children were spoilt; they were just too naive to know it.

The problem is, the 'true' music market is composed of music fans, and here's the rub; there just aren't as many as everyone thought there were. For the majority, music is simply functional or transient entertainment- these are the people that use free spotify and they were never going to pay for anything.

Ultimately, records cost money to make. Businesses like Spotify have to break even. Though I think they probably acted prematurely, they made the right call; as a rather clever man once said, "When circumstances change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

SFTOC Recommendations

I decided to run off some one-sentence recommendations for those attending SFTOC this weekend, though to be honest I suspect it'd be more in the spirit of things to ignore me and do whatever the fuck you want. Your call!

Charlie Barnes (St. Phillips, 6:00)
He got album of the year on here, plays electronic prog-pop and is fucking brilliant.

Plank! (United Reformed, 6:00)
Krautrock... prog-rock... united at last...

FTKOSQ (Salford Arms, 8:15)
The apocalypse, as soundtracked by Massive Attack getting mugged by Nine Inch Nails.

With That Knife (The Pint Pot, 7:00)
Catchy mathy indie rock that's a cut above the rest of the indie rock hacks. 

Patterns (The Pint Pot, 10:00)
Shoegazey indie that's kind of like Merriweather Post Pavilion-era Animal Collective. 

Trojan Horse (Fat Out Til You Pass Out, 6:45)
"Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum!" - find out what I mean; das ist prog. 

Day For Airstrikes (United Reformed, 5:00)
Post-rock with melodies and electronics and stuff make Alex a happy boy. 

Saturday, 23 April 2011

In Casino Out
Victims & Vultures Alike
Out Now
Rating: 5/5
If Shields was the sound of a band mixing a plethora of alternative rock influences through a Yourcodenameis:milo blender, then Victims & Vultures Alike is the sound of them adding a shot of White Belt Yellow Tag, two measures of awesome and finally “kicking the engine to overdrive”, as I'm sure Sel Belamir would say.[1]
For whilst this is still definitely the sound of In Casino Out, complete with the obvious YCNI:M, Biffy and 'Size comparisons, there's something just elusively different about this second outing. I can't pin it down to any particular riff or instrument, so I'm tempted to put it down to something like a more fixed line-up, for it feels like it's the band dynamics that are the make-or-break here.

The songs themselves are more of a mixed bunch as well; more atmospheric than
Shields, there are backing vocals, subtle synth sweeps, and on the exceptional 'Hospital Drama Season Finale' even what I would call (shock horror) 'pretty' melodic riffs. That's just it really; where Shields was all top-drawer rock, it never really made the emotional impact that to be honest is where a lot of music really takes flight.
No such problems on V & V, however; from the word 'go' it's heart-on-the-sleeve vocals clawing their way to the top of cascading riffs. Opener 'Light from the Cars' is the closest we get to early ICO, but still manages a pretty sweeping chorus. 'Windows' is, oddly enough, slightly reminiscent of 'Window' off of Grey Noise, White Lies by Exeter; that is to say, it's monumental space-rock in the vein of Fantastic Planet-era Failure, which can only be good. In fact, if you listen carefully you might hear Failure again in the chorus of 'Rocky V', but maybe that's just me chasing after space-grunge ghosts.
The highlight of the set is doubtless the breathlessly brilliant 'Empires Expired'. From the verse you could be forgiven for thinking it'd somehow been leftover from Shields, but the pre-chorus wrong foots you with effects and catchy rhythmic devices that leave you utterly unprepared for the sheer sonic assault that is the chorus. Oh no, make no mistake: they are not fucking around this time. If you're a fan of heavy rock and this doesn't get your head banging then you need to get it examined, seriously.

[1] I'm not certain that Sel would quote his own lyrics in casual conversation, but fair play to him if he does. 

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Nowhere Again - Now I am Twenty

Right, so I'm still dissertationing and off doing any serious work, but in the meantime my band's first EP is now up for pre-orders and streaming. It's taken bloody ages to get together, so do take a listen if you're into the stuff I write about. Seriously, I have about twenty bands looking for reviews in my inbox at the moment besides HV stuff and my to-do list is only getting longer. Eeek.

Listen below if you like, it'd mean a lot to get some feedback too.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Fierce & the Dead
Out Now
Rating: 4/5
Instantly more insistent than anything I've yet heard from the group, 10x10 kicks off on fine form with the lead track. '10x10' morphs through sections of post-progressive volume swells, harmony-math guitars and then electronics, never losing its way or the driving backbeat which pins the whole together. Not really motorik enough in execution to strictly be krautrock, it nevertheless reminds of the genre and its more modern exponents like Secret Machines. My only criticism would perhaps be its lack of a clear melody at some points, but then again with post-rock you kind of know what you're signing up for from the get go, so it's not a major concern.

The b-side, 'Foreign Languages' is to me the highlight of the pair. Trip-hop in feel with a solid bass hook, Gameboy sound effects duel with sparse guitar lines for the listener's attention, and though their drummer never quite commits to the ride cymbal, it's classily understated throughout. Again there's not a melody per se besides that of the bass riff, but the samples thrown in are pitch-specific enough to counterpoint the guitar figures and effect a pleasing sonic whole.

Possibly only one for the post-rock hardcore, but a pleasant deviation from identikit delay-abuse nonetheless. The track lengths do not permit a surplus of self-indulgence, and I hope this pair drum up an appropriate degree of support for the full album, due in May.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Trojan Horse Interview

Right, so in case you didn't know, I finally guest-wrote for more-or-less my favourite place for reading about rock and roll ever, Manchester Music. What did I write? An interview with the fucking excellent proggers Trojan Horse. Go read it here!

Also, if you haven't seen them live in a while, I suggest that you get down to the Japanchester show on Thursday. It's for charity, you cheapskates.

In other news, I really really really want this on RSD-


Thursday, 7 April 2011

Frank Turner - I Am Disappeared

No longer the ragged singer from Million Dead that with a muttered 'fuck it' began playing anywhere that would have him (in the process forging an enviable roots fanbase and live reputation), Frank's now got his sights fixed on the big time.

It thus comes as little suprise that the vitriolic wordplay of 'Long Live the Queen' is out, and pianos, strings and more pedestrian lyrics are in. It's not bad, but it's hardly even up to recent 'I Still Believe', introduced live with “this is about the things I believe, bass, drums and poetry.” Frank, come back!

Mazes - Most Days

From their early days peddling Dinosaur Jr., esque slacker fuzz around Manchester, Mazes have truly grown, to now apparently include knocking off the Jr.'s videos ('Over It', anyone?). On 'Most Days', they've also upped the tempo as compared to earlier efforts 'Cenotaphs' and the brilliant 'Bowie Knives', to great effect.

Seriously though, all of that 'this isn't original but it's great' is horseshit; this is a fantastic bloody song, thick with attitude (Raditude?) and catchy melodies. If anything, it's actually a little reminiscent of early Ash, but I'm not sure if anybody but me still thinks that's a good thing.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Metamusic - World to Come

YO! Metamusic's World to Come EP is now available to stream, and you can download the title track for free. Listen below...

Pilots and Starlets EP
Out Now
Rating: 4.5/5

I know what you're thinking- another fucking band from Liverpool? Well, if there were less great bands from there, I'd have fewer to cover... and it's not like I haven't given Manchester a look in; the best we've currently got to offer (Black Market Serotonin, Trojan Horse, The Narrows, Patterns, Cyril Snear, From the Kites of San Quentin, Charlie Barnes [honourary Manc], Casino Zone, Advances, With That Knife, the Modern Painters, The Steals and Air Cav) have all been covered on here, and that's not even including the bands I only quite like, just the ones I really fucking like.

Anyway, on to Pteropilot. Another band from the ICO/ATQO/Battleships scene, this is probably the most accessible of the lot. Yep, there are still riffs aplenty, but there's also a bunch of really melodic stuff in the mix courtesy of delay-and-reverb heavy guitars and occasional bursts of electronics, or even (on occasion) strings. The vocals are for the most part quite restrained and buried in the mix, but given the more post-rock stylings (I'm not fucking going to say 'cinematic' or 'epic' because I'd like to believe I'm not that much of a hack) of this band, this works within the confines of the overall aesthetic. Though the verses are often quite complex and dense, for the most part the choruses are big, chordy, and well welcome for any fans of any music that came out of Seattle around 1990 (amongst whose ranks I definitely consider myself).

So, individual tracks. The Biggest Chorus of the EP award goes to 'Harakiri', while Most Structurally Interesting goes to 'Wolf Cries Wolf'. Most Catchy Main Riff for Fans of Zwan goes to the opener, 'Each the Others World Entire', and Most Bloody Massive and Sprawling definitely goes to the closer, 'The Next of Amber', which if I'm honest has a little bit of 'Music for a Nurse' about it- this obviously is no bad thing. Coincidentally it's also not a bad accompaniment to a train journey across the country, which is the setting for my scribblings today.

As I find is the case with most of the Liverpool bands I've heard, the production values are top-drawer throughout, and all of the subtle little tricks of filters or deep-in-the-mix guitars, vocal yelps, male-female vocal harmonies et al are definitely not lost on this listener. The attention to detail is fucking fantastic, and as one of those sentimental fucks that loves the album format, I especially love the feeling of being taken on a journey, of musical progression, that underpins the tracklisting and development of ideas within the narrative of the EP. It may be comparatively short, but insofar as a twenty-five minute running time can be truly immersive, it is.