Friday, 30 January 2009


(Photo on Flickr by Peter Fuchs)

It's Friday and I'm brimming with excitement at the imminent arrival of my new speakers. My old ones have been on their way out for a while. On Tuesday while I was listening to Iron and Wine there was a sudden burst of static followed by this annoying buzz that sounded a bit like having an electric shaver permanently switched on and that was the end of my trusted companions of almost six years.

I've tried giving them a bash, shaking them and yes, reasoning with them (did I mention I have a Physics degree?) but they refused to fix themselves, honestly. Being as they weren't that good in the first place, (the sound they produced before they took up shaving was pretty awful) I decided I owe it too all those musicians who spend time tuning their instruments and agonizing over the pitch of their recordings to get a better pair.

So here I am, waiting for the postman to buzz our ultra loud doorbell and no matter how much I prepare myself for this I know it'll make me jump, it gets me every time! Darn bell!

While I remember, here are a few bits of news hot off the press:

**UPDATE** Alessi (Alessi's Ark) will be performing on Dermot O'Leary's show at 4:15pm on Saturday playing some songs and having a chat. Click here for details

Blissfields 2009 line up has been announced
Click here for the Blissfields website.
Tickets are on sale, click here.

Great acts like Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling and The Men They Couldn't Hang

Coachella 2009 line up has been announced
Click here for the Coachella Website
You can find ticket info here

Paul McCartney is head lining which to be honest doesn't fill me with glee. If I was actually going, my first pickings would be Beirut, M. Ward, Los Campensinos, Fleet Foxes, Ida Maria, My Bloody Valentine (pack ear protectors), Public Enemy, Groove Armada and Gaslight Anthem
and Dr Dog

Yellow Bird Project Elvis Perkins T-Shirt
Elvis Perkins and The fantastic Yellow Bird project have teamed together to design a t-shirt, profits going to the WWF, details here.

Bandstand Busking ALERT - THIS WEEKEND
If you find yourself in London this Sunday at about 1pm near Northampton Square Bandstand, Islington (EC1V) why not check out the latest Bandstand busks. This time its Esser and Speech Debelle.
For more details click here.


I have to add right now the actual likelihood of the speakers arriving is not looking great but saying that our postie does move at a snails pace and frequently delivers our post to the wrong address. Ah gees!

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Minimalist Muxtape: Market and Mix

(Photo on Flickr by kprogram)

Muxtape has been reincarnated and has come back as a minimalist platform for bands to promote their music and listeners to create mixes.

Muxtape started out in March 2008 as a site where you could upload your own MP3's or selected MP3s from a library on their website and create well a sort of online playlist/mixtape for anyone to hear. By August 2008, the RIAA had shut the whole thing down. It's a long story and if you're interested in hearing the Muxtape version, here it is.

Muxtape is now picking itself up, brushing themselves down and starting again only this time their goal is (as quoted on their website) "facilitating the discovery of new music" and you'll still be able to create a mix but only from the music available on the site.

They declare that "artists will never be forced to display ads" and "in addition to streaming music, we will enable bands to easily sell downloads, issue tickets, create and sell merchandise, network with other bands and listeners, and track the way their music is being heard across the system. An API will be available to expand the platform even further."

Apparently we'll have to wait a little longer for the full whistle and bells website but in the meantime the Muxtape homepage is featuring 12 very basic profiles of artists (Of Montreal, Francis and the Lights, Cexman, Adron, Girl Talk, Dan Deacon, Apes and Androids, Old Gold, Reggie Watts, Amanda Palmer, Tony Bambino and Vulture Realty) with other artists being encouraged to sign themselves up for free shortly.

The site is looking extremely minimalist right now i.e. there's really nothing much to see so I'll be keeping an eye out for updates over the coming weeks and hopefully soon there will be something more for me to review.

TLS Edinburgh Edition: Review: Kate Rusby @ Glasgow Royal Concert Halls

(Kate Rusby on Flickr: Photo by Bryan Ledgard)

Ian has grown a beard and started wearing chunky jumpers - OK not really but he has been to a folk concert and here's what he had to say about it.

If I was a god fearing creationist and my time had come to enter the nirvana based afterlife, I would expect ALL angels to look and sing like Kate Rusby. There were a few "firsts" for me last night - the first time I had seen English Folk music's hottest ticket, my first visit to The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and my first hands-on visit to Celtic Connections.

Celtic Connections is a clever festival - still expanding year on year, it has blossomed from a celebration of traditional Celtic music to embrace contemporary and traditional folk, world, roots and allow musicians from other genres to come along and try their hand in a friendly environment. The scandal a few years back was Billy Bragg playing under the "Scottish granny" rule however attitudes have progressed and it is an all embracing two weeks of all that is good about music. Also, it is also a superb way to brighten up the slowest month of the year.

The love affair between Celtic Connections and Kate Rusby grows year on year and an expected sell out audience were thrilled to welcome Kate on the back of a great 2008 album and a collection of Christmas traditional folk songs released in December which certainly went down well in our house as an alternative to Nat King Cole. None of the latter were played however with such an extensive back catalogue to choose from there was as Kate said "A lot to get through". Rusby's songs are a paradox - she is relaxed, cheerful and friendly on stage, her voice a bittersweet overture backed by some fine musicians however the tracks are black. This one is about a bitter man. Here's one where the hero gets stabbed at the end. This song is about a woman who drapes herself over her lovers grave. All very Nick Cave! But it's not down, it's a happy night brightened further with banter about craft fairs, cooking and stories about her dog.

Plenty of thought was given to the arrangements and as well as a quality four piece backing band, Kate called at times on a ten strong string section ( called red skies) and a variety of passing folk worthies which emphasises the close knit community feeling that Celtic Connections boasts. This is where the venue came into its own - at one stage with 16 musicians on stage (it reminded me of a Red Wedge collective) nothing was lost musically and in spite of her petite stature, Kate Rusby always looked perfectly in control.

Kate Rusby's relaxed attitude made it appear that she was playing to friends and the vibe was that this was an annual pilgrimage for many - for those of us who were new it certainly made us want to hear more and to get involved in other parts of the local folk scene.

Talking of which, support came from the excellent Kris Drever who has a growing reputation locally and showcased a cross section of traditional and contemporary numbers with a couple of guests joining him throughout the set. Drever enjoyed the big occasion and left a good impression. I'll be trying to catch him again soon as he tours with John McCusker, once of the The Battlefield Band and an acclaimed producer and Roddy Woomble, ex Idlewild front man as they bring roots and folk to a new audience.

Ian Campbell

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Form 696

(An example of live music being enjoyed freely!)

This isn't the name of a new band, this is the form London's music venues now have to fill out as part of a risk assessment procedure for live events in London at the request of the Metropolitan police.

The long and short of it is the music organisers have to fill out 4 pages of info 14 days before the event takes place including the type of music to be played and names, aliases, phone numbers, addresses of performers and the ethnic background of the likely audience. This law would permit the police to ban any live music if they fail to receive personal details from the performers 14 days in advance. Does all this sound right to you?

There's a very interesting article on the Guardian website and if like me, you love live music and your freedom to enjoy it, I strongly recommend you click and read.

Click here for the No 10 petition (you must be a British citizen or resident to sign) and there's Facebook group you can join if you want to try to do something about this.

Some other articles about Form 696:

The Independent
The Register

BBC 6 Music

**UPDATE- As soon as I published this blog, the link disappeared to the number 10 petition. So anyway, if you'd like to sign it, just google "number 10 open petition Form 696".**

Sunday, 25 January 2009

What's on in London this week (Including FREE shows) w/c Jan 26th

Here are a few of the gigs going on in London this week that caught my eye. This is by no means a definitive list of ALL gigs happening so please leave a comment if you think I've missed any worth knowing about.

Monday 26th January
Lucky Dragons + Crystal Antlers @ The Luminaire
Darren Hayman @ Rough Trade East Instore In-store, 7.00pm (FREE)

Tuesday 27th January
Gregor Samsa + The Sleeping Years + Evi Vine + Club AC30 DJs
Crystal Antlers with Delta Spirit, Banjo or Freakout @ Borderline
Frank Turner @ Fopp Records, Covent Garden, 6pm (FREE)

Wednesday 28th January
Lonely Dear @ St Giles Church
Fiona Bevan, Kite Season, Ed Sheeran, Jack Day @ Monkey Chews
Circlesquare @ Rough Trade East In-store, 7.00pm (FREE)
Frank Turner @ Banquet Records, Kingston, 6pm (FREE) (SOLD OUT)

Thursday 29th January
Sky Larkin + Pulled Apart By Horses + Special Guests @ The ICA
The Streets @ O2 Brixton Academy
Anneka Williams, Ben Parker & Kate Aumonier, Daniel Fazzina @ The Star
The Rifles @ Rough Trade East In-store, 7.00pm (FREE)
Frank Turner @ Banquet Records, Kingston, 6pm (FREE)
IKTOMS Unplugged - Mark Ridout, Morninoonanight, Sean Redmond, David Barnes, The Cedar @ Liberties, Camden

Friday 30th January
David Thomas Broughton, Sam Amidon & Doveman @ Bush Hall
Buzzcocks @ O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
The Rifles @ Banquet Records, Kingston 6pm (FREE)

Saturday 31st January
Seasick Steve @ Hammersmith Apollo
Rota @ Notting Hill Arts Club

(In case any concerts have changed dates/ changed venues/ been cancelled or I've made a typo, you'd be wise to check out the venue websites before heading out the door because it's still pretty wet and mighty cold out there, the other day even my TV remote control was too cold to hold!)

Mumford & Sons have announced a show at the ICA with Alessi's Ark as support on March 4th plus a free in store at Banquet Records in Kingston London. Check out their MySpace page for details.

Over the past week, I've been enjoying more Island life while the other half has been freezing in sub zero temperatures in Quebec. Back to London tomorrow, during the journey I hope to finish reading John Peel's biography Margrave of the Marshes and before you panic, I'll be taking the train not driving. Strangely enough, (well it was to me anyway) the very beaches I've been walking along all week skimming stones and taking photos are the exact same beaches (according to the book) John Peel spent most of childhood holidays visiting and some of his young adult life working near, now what are the chances of that happening?!

Whatever you're doing, I hope you have a great week.


PS Here's proof that Boots used to sell vinyl records, I found this bag in my folks garage:

An old Boots bag from the
time when Boots sold vinyl

Saturday, 24 January 2009

'Music Lives On The Internet' - Interview #12

Today our featured blogger is Cian, author of music blog

I was first introduced to Cian's blog via a link from another website (can't remember which) about six months ago and since then I've become a frequent reader.


Blog Name:
See What You Hear

What is your blog is about?
Trying to unearth gems by relatively unknown artists that deserve whatever attention they can get. I have a particular fascination with seemingly perfect pop songs that, for one reason or another, never make it to the radio. I spend a lot of my time scouring the net, hunting for the next song that will have some sort of magic effect over me. Ideally, I like to post up three songs a day, seven days a week, but I won't post for the sake of it – it has to be something I can genuinely enthuse over. Basically it's about taking an exoteric approach: making known what is otherwise secret or unknown.

What started you blogging?
I began a website in 2004 because I felt that no one was reviewing music from a consumer's point of view. When someone is feeding you with promo copies of albums, you're not approaching it from the same perspective as someone who has shelled out a little chunk of their earnings for it. But since then, people have stopped buying music and I now get paid to write about it. Funny how things turn out.

First record you bought?
I can clearly remember buying the single of De La Soul's 'Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)' on cassette. My dad had (and still has) the biggest music collection I've ever seen so I never had much reason to go out and buy music but I think that was the first time I bought something independently with my pocket money.

Last piece of music that got your heart racing?
By the time you read this, I'm sure it will have changed. Recently, 'Tunnelvision' by Here We Go Magic and 'Hooked Up On us' by Jay Jay Pistolet, but when I originally started filling out the answers it was 'Abandon' by French Kicks and 'No one Does it Like You' by Department of Eagles.

Last gig that made you say "Wow"?
That's easy: David Thomas Broughton. I go to so many gigs that sometimes I forget why I'm doing it. When I caught a show by David Thomas Broughton in July, it answered that for me. His concerts have a magical quality to them: they're compelling for a variety of reasons but it's when you realise that what you're seeing is a one-off, you can't help but feel exhilarated. If you make a two-hour round trip by yourself to an empty bar in a place you've never been before and come away feeling like that…It reminds you what pure art is supposed to feel like: life-affirming.

Where do you find out about new music?
Online message boards, blogs, press releases, emails from artists themselves, my own random scouring of MySpace, the radio, magazines, word-of-mouth and small independent record shops.

What would you like to see more of in the music world?
An increased break-down between artist and audience. Things like the Take Away Shows and MySpace have done a lot for this already but given the current state of the industry, I think the concept of outright fan sponsorship – as outlined by Wired editor Kevin Kelly - may become feasible one day. It's just an extension of the 'pay what you feel it's worth' strategy as used by Radiohead, except it would be done in advance as a gesture of good faith in artists you already believe in or ones that show genuine promise.

Favourite music venue?
I like La Fleche D'or in Paris because they put on great line-ups and it's always free! Schuba's in Chicago, Stoke Newington International Airport and Paradise Kensal Green in London, Whelan's and The Olympia in Dublin.

Favourite music store?
Rough Trade (Notting Hill), The Sound Cellar and City Discs in Dublin.

Which blogs do you read?
Bradford Cox's Deerhunter blog, Said the Gramophone, Gorilla vs. Bear, Brooklyn Vegan, On The Record, Waxidermy, Drowned in Sound, egoeccentric, I Guess I'm Floating, La Blogotheque, mp3hugger, Naturalismo, nialler9, Nothing But Green Lights, sammy's tunes, Stereogum, The Torture Garden, Thundercrack Playlist, Tiny Mix Tapes.

As for non-music, I always read Gideon Rachman's blog at the FT because he has a knack for being incredibly succinct about whatever topic he's writing about. I also like David Lynch's Daily Weather Report…although I can't explain why as I have no interest in what the weather is like in L.A.! PostSecret and Found magazine are must visits for me too.

There's also an amazing weekly radio show called This American Life which has an online archive going back years. We don't have radio journalism of this quality where I'm from.

What songs would you include on the soundtrack to your life?
My whole life? Well, being a music geek, I have made a couple of mix tapes to that theme so if I'm going to have a stab at it, it might as well be comprehensive:

Lansing-Dreiden - I Keep Everything
Peter Ivers - In Heaven
Boards of Canada - Olson
Magic Arm – Reprise
M. Ward – Undetaker/Duet for Guitars #3
Bibio – It was Willow
Rufus Wainwright – One Man Guy
Liars – Pure Unevil
Deerhunter – Fluorescent Grey
Grizzly Bear – While You Wait For the Others
Grant Lee Buffalo – Stars 'n' Stripes
Joanna Newsom - Book of Right On
Joan Baez - Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You
Dr. John - I Walk On Guilded Splinters
Funkadelic - Can You Get to That
Tom Waits - Clap Hands
O.V. Wright - Let's Straighten It Out
Screamin' Jay Hawkins - I Put a Spell On You
Pixies – Hey
Stina Nordenstam - People Are Strange
Bibio - It Was Willow
Jimi Hendrix -(Have You Ever Been to) Electric Ladyland (Instrumental
Studio Outtake)
Radiohead - Everything In Its Right Place (Live Acoustic)
Jeff Buckley - Je N'en Connais Pas Le Fin (Live at Sin-é)
The Beatles - Cry Baby Cry
Devendra Banhart - A Sight to Behold
The Doors - Back Door Man
The Beatles - Helter Skelter
Iggy & The Stooges – Penetration
Captain Beefheart - Abba Zabba
Neil Young - For the Turnstiles
Joseph Childress – Animal

In 10 years time music will be...
I think it's difficult enough predicting what shape the music industry will be in two years from now, so it's impossible to say. I'm not so sure whether the widespread and largely un-policed piracy that's going on at the moment can last. I have a feeling the powers-that-be will find a way to implement restrictions on ISPs and there has even been talk of airport security checking people's laptops and mp3 players for illegal material.

If you could have 3 musicians over to your place, they would be...
I've been fortunate enough to have encountered most of my favourite artists in one way or another and I have found that they are rarely how you imagine them to be. So for that reason alone I'd stick with what I know: Ira Tuton (Yeasayer), Ed Droste (Grizzly Bear), and Vincent Moon would provide the right mixture of laughter, friendliness, and inspiration (respectively).

If I asked you one more question what would it be and what would be the answer?

'Will you?'

Big thanks to Cian for taking the time out to take part in this interview. I highly recommend you check out his blog (

Department of Eagles - No One Does It Like You

If you're interested in reading the interviews I've carried out so far in the 'Music Lives On The Internet' series, here are the links:

Interview # 11 - Anika in London
Interview #10 - Danish Poet
Interview #9 - You Ain't No Picasso
Interview #8 - Consequence of Sound
Interview #7 - Nine Bullets
Interview #6 - The OCMD
Interview #5 - Lonesome Music
Interview #4 - Count Me Out
Interview #3 - The Middle Distance Runner
Interview #2 - Blend Apparel
Interview #1 - Stress Management

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Official SXSW Showcasing Bands - Lists and Lists Made of Lists! Oh.. and a Mumford & Sons gig announcement!

Rod Thomas plays a Living Room Concert for TLS

The SXSW website has posted a list of bands who will be showcasing at this years event (the list is subject to change and additions).

Here's a list I derived from the SXSW official list listing the bands announced so far that I would try to see if I were going; sadly I'm not because I'm not on their list so instead I'll just sit here and keep myself busy making lists from their lists.

Here's my list:

Au Revoir Simone - Beautiful voices and they designed a T-Shirt for the Yellow Bird Project (see here) so they're OK with me.
Andrew Bird - Great blogotheque videos.
Conil - My friend Joel plays in this band, they're very good.
Grizzly Bear - Daniel Rossen is a pretty talented man! Check out Department of Eagles as well.
Alessi's Ark - Alessi is a very talented sweet singer who helped me find a tube station once when I was a little lost coming back from seeing Department of Eagles. Have missed a few of her shows for various reasons beyond my control but will definitely be catching her live this year - just not at SXSW :(
Laura Marling - Amazingly strong voice, scarily young and talented.
Metronomy - Bright lights, dance routines, electronic, great live shows!
Mumford & Sons - **Here's a bit of news! - Check out this link for tickets to their ICA (London) show on March 4th going on sale tomorrow @ 10am (Friday 23rd Jan)- Alessi's Ark are the support - this will be an awesome gig!** They're also doing a free instore at Banquet records in Kingston, London the next day (March 5th), see this link, not much other info about this on the Banquet Records site yet.
Langhorne Slim - My favourite live show of 2008.
The Tallest Man on Earth - He's very tall... see the video at the end of this post! Yikes!
Rod Thomas - Rod played a Living Room Concert for TLS at the end of last year, amazing voice, very talented and lovely man.
Frank Turner - He's playing a whole host of free instores in and around London next week, check out this link for details.

I guess Soko has quit since the list was produced so won't be playing.

There are probably loads of other bands I would love to see on the list but I couldn't look at it any longer because it was starting to make me feel dizzy.

Who would you recommend seeing at SXSW this year and why?
Here's that list again!

The Tallest Man on Earth - It will Follow the Rain

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

TLS Edinburgh Edition: Review: Buzzcocks & The Lurkers - Glasgow ABC - Monday 19th January, 2009

"This one was our first single" remarked Lurkers' front man Arturo Bassick, halfway through their support slot "I'd been playing bass about a week. 32 years later I'm not much better!"

A bit of self depreciation always endeared a band to me and at this point I realised why I'd braved the 45 miles and 60 minutes along the M8 on a Monday evening despite the snow and credit crunch. You can't beat a bit classic pub rock influenced punk rock.

The big man's bass playing had come on a bit since the summer of '77 however the addition of Dave Kemp on guitar, previously of personal favourites Penetration and Chelsea (the band- not the fancy dan millionaires who squeezed past the mighty Southend United in the FA Cup) gave the old Lurkers standards some fresh flair. The Lurkers do have newer songs and Dirty Harry is a particular amusing ditty. Their classic single Shadows also came over strongly however Arturo's stories were as entertaining as the songs and many of the audience could remember the hyperbole surrounding the banning of all punk gigs by City Of Glasgow council - funny how these seem innocent days now.

The Buzzcocks always draw a decent crowd - possibly influenced by the use of their name in the very contrived TV quiz show and tonight the "new school" mixed with the diehards from back in the day ... the two groups were indistinguishable apart from one clique being predominately fat, bald and dancing better to the reggae and two tone records that were played between the sets. (So why did Althea and Donna never do a follow up to Up Town Top Ranking?)

Like many punk bands playing the nostalgia circuit the song writing duo of Diggle and Shelley have been joined by a couple of young guys on drums and bass. On this occasion the stick man was doing the lion's share of the work. Their tour is billed as "Another Bites - where we'll be playing our first two albums - Another Music In A Different Kitchen and Love Bites - in their entirety + other hits!" Yup, they kept there word however in places Pete Shelley struggled with the vocals - particularly on the faster numbers. Perhaps difficult for me to be impressed as I always found tracks like Harmony In My Head where The Diggle sings are my favourite anyway . Still all the favourites got battered out and tracks like Noise annoys and Autonomy were very well received. I bet however when Pete Shelley wrote Nostalgia in 1978 he didn't expect to be playing it thirty years later.

Nonetheless as well as allowing some old punks a night away from their fortysomething lifestyles, the night would be judged a success as the young team pogo'd and moshed their way through the set. Arturo summed it up nicely for me "We kept it simple - some of the bass lines by these new punk bands are so complicated they sound like Yes!"


Written by Ian Campbell (The Great)

Monday, 19 January 2009

What's On In London This Week (w/c Jan 19th)

Here are a few of the gigs going on in London this week that caught my eye. This is by no means a definitive list of ALL gigs happening so please leave a comment if you think I've missed any worth knowing about.

Monday January 19th

Special instore @ Rough Trade East featuring Franz Ferdinand @ 9pm (250 capacity)

Apparently at 3:15pm today There were still a couple of wrist bands left so if you fancy going to this intimate concert wrap up warm, jump on you Segway Personal Transporter (why not?) and get yourself down to the shop (see photo at bottom of this post for instructions.)

Natasha Alice + Karima Francis + Lail Arad @ The Camden Bar Fly

Tuesday January 20th
Franz Ferdinand @ Heaven - Villiers Street (SOLD OUT)

Wednesday January 21st
ANAIS MITCHELL + The Bowmans @ The Luminaire

Thursday January 22nd
I can't believe there's nothing worth going to on Thursday! If you're playing or know of a gig happening on Thursday, why not leave a comment.

UPDATE: How could I forget about eARmusic @ The Star!!

Friday January 23rd
HJALTALIN @ The Luminaire

Saturday January 24th
New Kids On The Block @ The O2
I couldn't resist adding in this one. They're ruff! Wooooooo o o, hangin tuff!

(In case any concerts have changed dates/ changed venues/ been cancelled or I've made a typo, you'd be wise to check out the venue websites before heading out the door because it's still pretty wet and mighty cold out there -this warning will be updated as soon as Spring arrives, hurry up Spring, this Winter business is turning me into a hermit! )

Just in case you didn't know, the London Astoria closed for good last week and the high street chain HMV is partnering with the MAMA group (who also own Barfly) to take over 11 music venues across the country. These include Hammersmith Apollo, Forum, Garage, Jazz Café, and Borderline.

The Apollo will now be known as HMV Apollo, while The Forum becomes HMV Forum.

An interesting move by HMV and one that I think could possibly work to keep them in the music business. I was in my local HMV this morning and realised that 7/8ths of the shop is now taken up by DVDs, Blu Rays, Console Games and ipod paraphernalia. I had to stomp right to the back of the shop to find the tiny music section, that's quite a change to how things were even just a few months back when HMV still seemed like a music store rather than a Blockbusters. HMV are one of the few remaining High-street entertainment retailers left in the UK. I guess they're hoping buying into live music venues will save them from going the same way as Zavvi (from whom they've just bought 14 stores in a deal thought to be worth £2 million) and Tower Records. Lets see.

oh btw this is how you use a segway:

funny pictures
more animals,

Friday, 16 January 2009

Owl Parliament - 21st February @ The Union Chapel

FYI Tickets are now on sale for the all dayer Owl Parliament at The Union Chapel on February 21st which has a fantastic line up including:

Jeff Lewis and The Junkyard
Herman Dune
Laura Marling
Johnny Flynn
Peggy Sue
Mechanical Bride
Planet Earth
We Aeronauts
Stars of Sunday League

Tickets are on sale here.

If you want tickets I probably wouldn't hang around, I think this one will sell out quite fast (although tickets are £24 which is a little steep).

I've got mine but then it is happening on my birthday so this is a treat.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Slumdog Millionaire - My Thoughts

(Photo from Flickr by Jeff Karpala)

OK I'm going to try to share with you a few quick thoughts on the film Slumdog Millionaire without giving away the story for those of you who haven't seen it yet.

What's it about?: The story of the life of an impoverished Indian teen Jamal Malik, who becomes a contestant on the Hindi version of "Who Wants to be A Millionaire?"

This film has already won five of the six awards it was nominated for at the Critics Choice Awards and all four of the awards it was nominated for at the Golden Globes and is nominated for about a million others.

Does Slumdog Millionaire deserve all these awards? Is the film really that good? Short answer is absolutely. I was completely captivated from beginning to end. Not only did the plot keep me intrigued (wow it's surprisingly hard to write about a film without giving away the details!) the combination of excellent cinematography and a well chosen soundtrack really brought the story to life. In one scene (you'll know the one I mean once you've watched it) I felt I could even smell the story! The director Danny Boyle has done a fantastic job and deserves all the awards he gets for this film but lets not forget the starring actor, Jamil Malik.

Jamal Malik is played by Dev Patel, you might have already seen him in Skins. From what I can gather, Skins is basically the only other acting this guy has done. He's 19 years old and has just won the British Independent Film Award for "Most Promising Newcomer", National Board of Review of Motion Pictures Award (NBR Award) for "Best Breakthrough Performance", the Black Reel Awards for "Best Actor" and "Best Breakthrough Performance" and the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for "Most Promising Performer" in 2008. Not bad for his second acting job!

I would strongly recommend you see this film, at the cinema if possible because it sounds and looks awesome. Perhaps don't expect the feel good ending that the press seems to be suggesting you'll walk away with, it's more of a content feeling that you've just seen a really good film. I'm giving it a 8.5/10 but it's very close to being a 9.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

(Photo taken by me on Brighton Pier)

Wednesday is no longer just Wednesday in our house, it's Orange Wednesday which means two tickets for the price of one at our local cinema. Without this deal you wouldn't get much change from a £20 note for two tickets which seems like an awful lot of money for a couple of hours at the flix.

So tonight we're joining our local movie lovin' tin foil rustlin' bring your own sarnie brigade to watch Slumdog Millionaire which is currently scoring a huge 94% on the Rotten Tomato Tomatometer (they're usually pretty spot on).

Basic plot of the film: The story of the life of an impoverished Indian teen Jamal Malik, who becomes a contestant on the Hindi version of "Who Wants to be A Millionaire?"

It's directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) and has already won four Golden Globes for best director, picture, screenplay and score (A.R. Rahman) and has had another 26 wins & 23 nominations (see here)-wow!

I've already been and got our tickets and will let you know what I thought of it (without spoilers).

Here the trailer:

btw, have you ever won any money? I like playing the two penny machines (see photo) on Brighton Pier (last of the big spenders!) but I always end up putting my two pence winnings back into the machine and then coming away with nothing. Then some hardered professional two penny machine watcher lurking in the background (I swear they exist!) spots you running out of money and has been watching you fill up the machine, moves in, puts a couple more two pence pieces in and bam, a whole pounds worth of them drop. You know the kind of people I mean. I never learn.

[Source: imdb]

Monday, 12 January 2009

What's On In London This Week (Including Free Shows)

Here are a few of the gigs going on in London this week that caught my eye. This is by no means a definitive list of ALL gigs happening so please leave a comment if you think I've missed any worth knowing about.

Monday 12th January
The Leisure Society, The Cedars & Kiran and the Night Owls @ Bush Hall
Ora Cogan @ The Slaughtered Lamb
Animal Collective @ Koko's (SOLD OUT)
Ronnie Scott's All Stars (50 years of 'Kind of Blue', 50 years of Ronnie Scott's) @ Ronnie Scott's

Tuesday 13th January
Ben Weaver @ The Luminaire
Stanley Kubrick Goes Shopping @ Rough Trade East (FREE SHOW) 7pm
Banjo Or Freakout + A Grave With No Name @ Madame Jo Jo's
Ronnie Scott's All Stars (50 years of 'Kind of Blue', 50 years of Ronnie Scott's) @ Ronnie Scott's

Wednesday 14th January
The Bittersweets + Laura Critchley + Caroline Lost @ The Borderline
Ben Weaver @ Rough Trade East (FREE SHOW) 7.00pm
The Virgins @ Rough Trade East (FREE SHOW) 8.00pm
Ronnie Scott's All Stars (50 years of 'Kind of Blue', 50 years of Ronnie Scott's) @ Ronnie Scott's
Goldie Lookin Chain @ Metro

Thursday 15th January
Wet Paint @ Rough Trade East (FREE SHOW) 7.00pm

(In case any concerts have changed dates/ changed venues/ been cancelled or I've made a typo, you'd be wise to check out the venue websites before heading out the door because it's mighty cold and wet out there.)

Hypothetically speaking, I would be begging to get into the Animal Collective concert at Koko's tonight, stealing to get into Ronnie Scotts to hear amazingly talented musicians play tracks from the fantastic Kind of Blue by Miles Davis which is celebrating it's 50th year as is Ronnie Scotts and borrowing to get in for a second night at Ronnie Scotts for more Miles magic.

(Photo on Flickr by exquisitur)

So What - Miles Davis

When I was a penniless student I spent many a night sitting around in basement Jazz clubs with my friends, usually huddled round one little bowl of ice cream with five spoons enjoying the free music and the warmth. I made it to Ronnie Scotts once, saw the man himself perform, it was a really nice evening.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Rota @ Notting Hill Arts Club, London

(Stagecoach: bad quality photo taken from the back of the audience @ Rota, Notting Hill Arts Club)

On Saturday afternoon me and mine put on just about all the clothes we own and stepped out into the freezing January afternoon for our first ever visit to a free afternoon of live music called Rota (sponsored by Rough Trade Records and 405' magazine) at the Notting Hill Arts Club.

Starting at 4pm we arrived a little late mainly because I was writing Saturday's blog and well, we got a bit lost. Luckily we literally just missed the pretty violent pro-Palestinian march that had left the street where were headed littered with posters and sticks and loads of shoes that had been thrown at the Police. There were plenty of protesters still hanging around waving Palestinian flags but the violence had thankfully passed.

The club itself wasn't very easy to find, there's no big (or little) sign saying Notting Hill Arts Club above the door well that we could find anyway, we had to ask a doorman who was pretty grumpy, (in fairness he was standing out in sub zero temperatures) and then once we'd got into the downstairs club we realised to our dismay the place was packed and we couldn't even get into the room where the music was happening.

While we listened for the first act to finish and then people to move out I couldn't help but think to myself what a strange old world it is we live in. There were all these people in this basement sipping on happy hour drinks (did I mention they do a happy hour from 4-8pm?) enjoying the live music meanwhile just yards above them on the street all hell had been breaking loose with people throwing shoes and sticks at the police. London can be very disjointed.

Anyway, on to the music. The bands playing at Rota on Saturday were as follows, in order of appearance:

Laura Hocking
My Amiga



OK I've never actually heard of any of these bands before but in fairness, only William is actually signed to a label.

Here are my thoughts on the performances:

Laura Hocking:
Unfortunately for us, we arrived very close to the end of her set which was a shame because she sounded pretty good. I was listening from round a corner and couldn't actually see her on stage. Think along the lines of a slightly less powerful Laura Marling style voice singing sweet story telling songs with a bite. The audience seemed to really like her which is why we couldn't even get in the same room!


My Amiga
Looking and sounding like a cross between McFly, The Artic Monkeys and The Kooks, My Amiga's sound wasn't offensive in any way but it just wasn't doing anything for me. Possibly suffering from sounding too much like a lot of other bands from the past 5 years. 10/10 for effort though, they really looked like they were enjoying themselves up there.


Pure indie pop and if that's what you like, this band does it very well. They might be from Surrey but there's an unmistakable rich American indie influence that comes through in their sound. Along with what I heard of Laura Hockling probably the best performance of the evening.
Good example of their sound is the track No Ded Enz on their MySpace page.


The only signed band of the evening, William gave a pretty tight performance blending fast indie body twitching bass rhythms and melodic riffs while the signer (who isn't called William -none of them are) tortured his voice in a semi shrieking style. We had to leave a few songs in but what I heard sounded decent. Check out their MySpace to hear for yourself.


On leaving the club, desperate for food we opted for a quick packet of crisps each served to us by the most grumpy shop keeper I've ever encountered in London who charged us £1.20 for the privilege. It was time for us to leave Notting Hill...

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Fancy yourself as a podcaster?

(Photo: New Blue Snowball Pro USB Microphone on Flickr by repres)

I've always had a secret desire to host my own radio show and with the advent of relatively cheap podcasting kits maybe this is the time to give it a go! That said I haven't always been comfortable with the idea of recording and listening back to my own voice.

I think I was about 19 when someone suggested my voice might sound good on the radio but at the time I was yet to leave my first answer phone message for fear of my voice sounding silly so any dream I held of hosting a radio show was light years away. Finally a good friend purposely stopped answering her phone when I called so that I had to leave a message. It worked, and I have now lost at least part of the fear of hearing my own voice.

A few years later, while I was working for a large IT company, I was asked by a colleague who was working on a project providing an automated phone answering system whether I would like to be THE recorded voice for his system. He said he had heard me talking in the office and thought my voice would work well. A little taken aback and chuffed to have even been considered, I took him up on his offer and started recording. I was very nervous at first, it was a little intimidating sitting in a room with lots of business men listening to playback of your voice, but it ended up being great fun and for a while I was the voice of the MOT helpline in the UK.

I've also had a brush with being a weather presenter during a random training session in some BBC studios. It was just the same set up as you see on TV; I was standing in front of a blank screen pointing at imaginary clouds and cold fronts reading off a monitor whilst being filmed. I got to keep the recording afterwards but I think that actually seeing myself on TV and hearing myself at the same time was beyond my comfort zone. The DVD is now hidden under a pile off other DVDs, unlabelled, and will probably come back to haunt me one day when I least expect it. I'm sure I will respond with a hot flush and a quick dash towards the door.

As opposed to the video experience though, I do now feel comfortable enough with my voice to dally with the idea of podcasting. I have done some research on the hardware that’s around now for that purpose and if you fancy yourself as a podcaster there are some great products out there that WIRED recently ran a review on. The one that attracts my attention in particular is the Alesis USB Mic Podcasting Kit. For $100 you get headphones, a microphone and a CD copy of Audacity. In the review they mention how the microphone installs easily, the headphones "sound decent" and overall gave it an 8/10 which for Wired is pretty good. I haven't tried one of these out so I can't speak from experience but at a $100, I'm definitely interested. We'll see...

I also spotted a fantastic new recording device unveiled at CES this week called the Zoom H4n mobile audio recorder. This device should be very useful for podcasters, journalists and musicians. Read all about it here.

Have you ever recorded a podcast? Can you offer any advice to anyone starting out?

Friday, 9 January 2009

Comfortably Numb

(Image from Flickr by greefus groinks)

It's been a strange day so far. This morning I viewed a cottage that was the most filthy stinky home I think I have ever walked into (if you haven't been following this blog, we're looking for a new place to live). This was a shame because the actual property was full of early 19th century period charm (hidden under all the dirt) including a huge working fireplace. It actually still had outside toilets (but there were inside ones as well of course!) and a cool rather large hut at the end of the garden which would have made a great study and place to listen to and play music. Unfortunately the family currently living there have run the place into the ground so badly building up serious amounts of dirt and the smell, oh god the smell! It needed to be completely gutted, possibly fumigated and in parts re-built! How can people live like that? Sometimes London letting agents will try to sell you a property not fit for even a rat to live in, this one (who hadn't seen the property before today) looked suitably embarrassed and reassuringly disgusted at the state of the place and didn't even begin to try.

We walked away from the cottage disappointed yet again at not having found a new place to live and so the search continues (hope you don't mind me blogging about this instead of music right now).

Unfortunately for me, that walk took me to the dentist where I had to have a bit of work done that required some anaesthetic. I got back an hour ago and I'm basically sitting here not able to feel one side of my mouth with a tongue that feels extraordinarily huge waiting for the pain to kick in. Eating lunch has been fun.

Before the Novocaine wears off I'm going to draw your attention to the free Bandstand busking in London this weekend featuring The Leisure Society and Emmy The Great. Definitely worth checking out but I'd recommend wrapping up warm and possibly bringing along a hip flask.

Here's a song about a nasty dentist featuring Steve Martin:

Little Shop of Horrors - Dentist Song

Thursday, 8 January 2009

There's no place like home

Over the last couple of days I've been mainly introducing myself to every letting agent in London in the hope that they might have a super nice well priced flat for us to rent. It's tough work especially in the Arctic conditions we're experiencing in London right now. The whole ordeal is getting more and more depressing with every stale smelling, paint peeling, dirty crumbling over priced hovel I view (seriously, London is a bad place to rent!) so it's always nice to hear some music from a person that always seems to make me smile, Londons very own Nick Mulvey.

Throw your shovel to the ground - Nick Mulvey

Nick also plays the hang for the Mercury music nominated instrumental group Portico Quartet.

Here are his MySpace details:

He'll be playing at the Proud Galleries in Camden on January 12th - check out his MySpace page for details.

This next video is not the best of quality but the song is great and Nick's guitar playing leaves me speechless! I saw him play for the first time in September last year and cannot recommend him enough.

Nick Mulvey - Lonely Moon - Live @ IKTOMS Unplugged 05-06-08

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Dengue Fever Interview from Fun Fun Fun Fest

Dengue Fever

Here's an interview from the Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin with one of my favorite bands of 2008, Dengue Fever. During the interview they explain how they got the name for their band.

A grammy? Woooohoooo! Can't wait to see them again sometime in May.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Kling Klang News: Bye Bye Florian!

Image on Flickr by mr_hartnoll

Florian Schneider has announced he is leaving Kraftwerk. Kraftwerk will continue as a band but with only one of the original founding members, Ralf Hütter still in the line up. Florian didn't perform with Kraftwerk during their 2008 tour so it's not a huge surprise that he has chosen to step down from the bridge.

From the Kraftwerk website:

"Florian Schneider leaves Kraftwerk after a 40 years partnership with Ralf Hütter. This partnership has generated an incredible music and huge advances in music technology. Florian is a great musician, always seeking the perfect sound through technology. Refined and perfected sounds and vocoders to impossible levels of perfection. Our thanks for the state of art that led to Kraftwerk's music all these years. And our wishes for success Florian's new projects as well as to this new Kraftwerk."

Throughout their career, Kraftwerk became known for not giving many interviews, preferring to remain in the comfort of their Kling Klang studio in Dusseldorf experimenting with new electronic sounds and popping out to indulge in their other passion, cycling. Here's why they have never given many interviews:

Brazilian non-interview with Florian Schneider - 1998

The current line up of Kraftwerk is as follows:

Ralf Hütter, Henning Schmitz, Fritz Hilpert, Stefan Pfaffe (who replaced Florian Schneider). This is the order from left to right as they stand on the stage.

At the end of last month, it was announced that Kraftwerk will be supporting Radiohead on the South American leg of their World tour.

Here are the dates:

03/15- Mexico City, Mexico @ Foro Sol
03/16- Mexico City, Mexico @ Foro Sol
03/20- Rio De Janerio, Brazil @ Praça Da Apoteose
03/22- São Paulo, Brazil @ Chácara Do Jockey
03/24- Buenos Aires, Argentina @ Club Cuidad
03/26- Santiago, Chile @ San Carlos de Apoquindo Stadium
03/27- Santiago, Chile @ San Carlos de Apoquindo Stadium

Monday, 5 January 2009

Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit & Moving

Johnny Flynn live @ Cargo Dec 2008

Today I've been busy searching around for a new place to live. There's a bit of pressure to get this sorted since we only have just over three weeks left in our current flat so I've been searching online for available flats and then driving around with my camera taking photos of what the flats really look like, checking out the areas and then bringing my findings back to TLS HQ to discuss with the husband. Apparently it's a renters marker right now due to the economic problems so fingers crossed I'll be able to find a steal.

As a result I've not been able to dedicate much time to reading and researching for todays blog post but I would like to share with you a video of a guy who I saw play live at the very end of last year and who's voice and overall performance really left a lasting impression on me. His name is Johnny Flynn and his band is called the Sussex wit. They play a blend of bluegrass and folk and are really fun to watch live. I'll definitely be on the look out for tour dates to see him play again.

Here's a taster:

Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit - 'Eyeless In Holloway'

I'll write a more in depth post about Johnny once I've found a place to live which will hopefully be very soon! In the meantime here's a link to an interview he did with The Times.

If you'd like to hear more of his music you might like to check out his MySpace page which has 5 songs on the MySpace player plus there's a free download - bonus!

Incidentally it was Johnny Flynn who played the first ever Black Cab Session.
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