Saturday, 25 April 2015

Death Cab For Cutie

It's not often that I find a band in their infancy, become a firm fan and watch them go on to greatness. That is certainly the case with Death Cab For Cutie - I've come rather late to their party! Well, a couple of new songs from them appearing in the 'New Music Tuesday' playlist on Spotify caught my attention.

Firstly, Little Wanderer

and then No Room In Frame

Both really good tracks which got me really excited for their imminent new album Kintsugi. My interest was further stoked by delving into their back-catalogue. Their last album Codes and Keys is a belter as exemplified by the opening track Home Is A Fire

and Some Boys

So ... I went back another album - more great stuff, for instance, I Will Follow You Into The Dark

All boding very well for the new release ... which came out a couple of weeks ago ... and after all the anticipation ended up disappointing me slightly, and making me glad I'd listed on Spotify first before just buying it.

BUT, as is often the case, I was a bit hasty with my judgement and there's actually nothing wrong with the album. There's not a bad song on it in fact - it just doesn't dazzle.

I'm going to get to know them a bit more and will really enjoy doing so though.

This is the kind of thing I like finding - a great band with a quality back-catalogue that I'm not aware of.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

The Big Country

On holiday in a foreign land (OK, it was only Wales) and I could hear a track getting played over and over again. I looked up and saw it was coming from a wild west style shooting game. I wandered over and really liked the tune, I couldn't quite place it but knew I recognised it. Could Shazam identify a tune out of a pay and play game? It sure could. The theme tune from The Big Country became the theme to my holiday. You've probably heard it from many adverts.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

A 3WTM Playlist

It's been sometime but I'm finally back with a playlist. Since I used to do them regularly modes of getting music have improved and have only got cheaper. There may not be any free downloads but even when I did have permission to post them they still got take down so YouTube and Soundcloud will have to do. How you get those on to your generic MP3 player is up to you.

They may not be all songs outside of the mainstream but they're new songs to me since I've taken up Spotify Premium. Thanks to Chris and Neil (Schonberg) who gave me the gentle nudge towards streaming which has been around a good while but has been truely set free with more recent smart phones.

I've been listening to the likes of Foo Fighters, Blur, The Wombats, Mumford and Sons, Jamie T,  Paolo Nutini, The Go Team! and Noel Gallagher but these tracks below are the ones that have repeated play after play. I hope you like them too.

Cigarette Dreams - Cage The Elephant

Having revisited Reef's album Rides again recently it's clear that some bands don't have a real range to their music despite the excellent I've Got Something To Say and Sweety, how the later didn't make it on to their "Best Of" albums I don't know. Anyway Cage show on this track that they have that range that I didn't expect. I really like listening to this in the car, probably that he mentions driving in the rain. Great to enjoy another track of their's after the stonking track Shake Me Down.

Figure It Out - Royal Blood

I'm as late to this party as Greece with their loan payments but at least I could say I knew who they were when they performed at the Brits not long back.

Lampshades On Fire - Modest Mouse

Having enjoyed Float On all those years back, I've listened to a few of their tracks recently and Lampshades is the most upbeat one I've enjoyed the most.

Live For The Moment - The Sherlocks

I was surprised to hear these guys were from Sheffield after hearing the lead singer's voice. If I didn't know better I would have said this was The Courteeners by a different name. While they may trot out a cliche (not Liam Fry's style according to his lyrics) other than that they could from Manchester and on their fourth album - outdoing The Courteeners at their own game. I like it, shows promise.

Nasty - The Prodigy

With the new Prodigy album due out at the end of March I've been exchanging emails with my friend Simon who has been a fan for years. I think we both agree this, the lead single, is the strongest track we've heard out of the three released so far. The album is lining up to be good rather than spectacular but a welcome return nonetheless - previous album Invaders Must Die is/was an excellent album to run to.

Trainwreck 1979 - Death From Above 1979

When you get something like Spotify (other streaming providers are available) you're suddenly spoilt for choice and don't know where to start. Schonberg pointed me in the direction of Death (as well as suggesting I listen to Royal Blood again). Thanks Neil, I'm enjoying both.

Bathroom Tile Blues - The Orwells

In a recent blog I mentioned The Orwells who have been featured on the Apple advert. Having listened to their album I thought I'd point out one track I've been enjoying, Bathroom Tile Blues. Apart from the one I mentioned before this is the next stand-out track.

Let Go - The Very Best

Having someone from The Vaccines and Vampire Weekend play on your album is certainly a way to get you notice - well it worked for me. Senegalese / Malawian influences are on the album and there's certainly a Vampire Weekend feel to this.

Oh! Whiskey - Jim Goodwin

I have a friend who likes Doves, a bit, and whiskey, a lot. He should like this. I do.

Pedestrian At Best - Courtney Barnett

Recommended by my friend Steve and, first listen I thought it was average but I can't stop singing it after I've listened to it.

Take Off With You - LIFE

Hopefully you've kept up with this blog over recent times and have noticed I really like the band LIFE, still yet to release their debut album they do have a few tracks out there and a new EP due out in May. I'll bring you more about the song Go Go Go nearer that time but until then enjoy yet another strong track from this East Yorkshire band. Hopefully they'll make it to Bristol at some point as Hull is a hell of a long way to travel.

The Hunter - Slaves

I feel too old to like this band, not because older people shouldn't listen to this kind of music, more that it makes me feel like I kid. It makes me want to shout, to turn the volume up, to drive fast or even better to (snow) board fast. I'm enjoying Slaves, if you like this also check out Feed The Mantaray, another good track.

Psycho - Muse

A foot stomping return for Muse, nothing really new from them but a good strong track and a fair few listens in I would say it's better than anything on the last album.

Handsome - The Vaccines

I'm told that The Vaccines are all right to like, according to The Guardian. I think that puts some people off but I don't care. If they said they were uncool I'd still like them. A strong new track along side Melody Calling, I'm looking forward to the next album

All The Sad Young Men - Spector

Probably the first band I discovered through Shazam, and again as I heard the track (Chevy Thunder) again still not realising it was them. The album sadly was disappointing but their latest track above, alongside Don't Make Me Try means they've moved on a bit since then, sounding closer to White Lies which makes me excited to hear what the rest of the album will be like. I wait with baited breath.

I hope you enjoy the new tracks, comments always welcome, positive or negative about the tracks would be great.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Friday Night Dinner - The Music

We've really enjoyed the first three series of Friday Night Dinner. A sitcom about a modern day Jewish English family who get together each Friday Night, you've guessed it, for dinner.

The two main tracks used, the title music and a track used half way through most episodes have a similar feel to them and one certainly has a familiar feel to it having featured on this blog some years ago.

I tend to steer clear of most remixes, I found them a waste of time and generally adding nothing, only taking away from the original. This certainly takes Miike Snow's Animal in another direction and creates a new, better track. Would I think that without having heard it many times on the programme? Probably not. I hope whether you've seen it or not, you enjoy it.

This you may recognise from the past, featured way back in 2009, worth revisiting as Friday Night Dinner have. Check the show out, very funny at times.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Other Side

I have been (impatiently) waiting for the release of Public Service Broadcasting's latest offering ever since I heard the excellent 'Gagarin' and learned that the next album would be a concept based around the Superpowers' race for space in the 60s and 70s. I was expecting tales straight out of the library text books of my childhood, and I wasn't disappointed - Sputnik, Yuri Gagarin, Apollo 11 all feature - but the track that has taken my imagination, emotion and breath away is 'The Other Side'.

It describes the moments on Christmas Eve 1968 when the astronauts of Apollo 8 became the first humans to orbit the moon and therefore see the dark side. The point at which the craft disappears into radio silence as it traverses the other side is very powerful and second only to the euphoria of the re-emergence 45 minutes later.

Whether you like electronic music or not, this is the most powerful and emotive thing I've heard in a long while. Have a listen to it. Wear headphones, close your eyes and imagine you are there, at the vanguard of human endeavour. Imagine what's going through the minds of the astronauts and the controller on the ground in Huston, who narrates the events as they unfold.

Top stuff, Public Service Broadcasting, top stuff.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Latest Apple Ad - The Orwells: Who Needs You

When I started this blog one of the things I looked at was the music from TV adverts. Often you hear the song but at the time it was hard to track them down (even with Google). Now with Shazam it's a easier and no doubt will get easier. So adverts no longer tend to be non mainstream tracks as people can hunt them down so much easier. I'm particularly enjoying the latest tune to accompany an Apple commercial. The Orwells. With a nudge from my musical friends I've started trialing Spotify so I'm also going to check out their album. Again something that has got easier. Now what am I going to do with all that time I've saved.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Latest Discoveries from Spotify

I really wish I could easily share a Spotify playlist. I've started trawling through the 'New Music Tuesday' playlist that they publish every week, and if I find anything of interest, I put it into the 'Good New Music' playlist. I've not been at it for very long, and the playlist is currently just over an hour long.

OK - here's 'East Of Tennessee' by Beta Radio from 'Colony Of Bees', which I have to admit to not having listened to yet (the album). My feel for genres isn't very well defined, but I would liken this to Mumford & Sons - the harmonies are lovely - a bit country, but really well done. The song just ticks along really well.

'Paper Trails' by Darkside from 'Psychic'

I love this. Again - quite a downbeat track - the album (only really listened to once) is something different - mellow, instrumental in many places. I don't know what it is, but there's something about this track that reminds me of 'Papa Was A Rolling Stone' without the wah guitar.

The Killing Kind by White Fever from Beating Of Wings

It doesn't look like this has met with much public attention yet (only 178 plays on the Soundcloud site at the time of writing). This is a great tune from what would appear to be a new group with - another with just a solitary EP to their name thus far. Melodic, haunting, catchy, atmospheric. I want to say 'Echo and The Bunnymen' with a female singer,

Why Don't You Save Me? by Kan Wakan from Moving On

Very mellow (another, I know) and stripped back. This reminds me quite a lot of Portishead.

Ooh look - this track is downloadable! DOWNLOAD IT NOW.

When Will We Be Free? by Young Lions from Blue Isla (as yet unreleased)

This song gets going about a minute in - it reminds me of a few things which I can't quite bring to the front of my mind - it is much more upbeat. Maybe its a cross between Temper Trap (Sweet Disposition) and a Doves track, but I can't think which. Any suggestions?

Nowhere To Go by Hurricane Love (sadly all I can find by them at the moment)

What a fantastic track - just give it a listen.

Let Go by Coasts (again these seem to be newcomers with not much out)

Another good song. These lot remind me of Two Door Cinema Club.

That will do for now - there are others, but probably a bit more 'Mainstream' (Belle & Sebastian, Fall Out Boy, Imagine Dragons)

Comments welcome - I'd love to know if anyone else likes these?

Saturday, 17 January 2015

2014 and a few thoughts (Part II)

OK, so where was I? June? Well a couple more mentions for June I suppose.

Firstly, Kasabian - 48:13

There is a very similar story here as with Fanfarlo and Elbow. I'm a big fan of Kasabian, especially their first album. Subsequent albums have struggled to meet the standards it set, but I think that this is the best of the rest to date. However, it is one that I have listened to a good few times, but would struggle to sing you a track from. I love the cello riff on this track.

Secondly, Ian Anderson - Homo Erraticus

What to say here? I've been pursuing an interest in 'prog', but I think I'm a fairly fussy 'prog' fan. I need it to be musical. I'm also more interested in modern prog. I like the idea of concept albums, and this places a massive tick in that box. Ian Anderson (he of Jethro Tull) produced a very interesting album. I can do no better to summarise the album than to link to the Wikipedia article but basically the songs represent the tales of a man who believed he had various past (and future) lives spanning Britain through the ages. Also you can't beat a bit of jazz flute.

OK - on now to ...

October Kate Miller - Neophyte

OK I think this EP illustrates a couple of points I'd like to raise about Spotify. This was listed as a new release by Spotify, and I listened and loved it so immediately sought out more. Well it turns out that Kate Miller is a new-comer and this is all she's released. A 5-track EP. Well I wanted to do my bit to support a new starter and paid for a download of an EP. This is probably only the second EP I've bought and I'm not sure how I feel about it - on balance, I think it's a good thing - maybe EPs are all I'm up to handling now as these songs have stuck in my mind.

November Superfood - Don't Say That

For one reason or another, I was using my wife's car for a while, and heard this song on 6music a couple of times and instantly liked it - Shazam pointed me in the right direction, only for me to become frustrated because the album hadn't yet been released - well it came out eventually and proved to be worth the wait - although, I think this is probably a stand-out track.

December Haken - Restoration

What a song to end on - all 19:25 minutes of it! For me, this track alone made 2014 worthwhile musically. Haken are a contemporary prog band from London, and their last album was sublime. Anyway, I was delighted to see a new release from them, but disappointed that it was only an EP. Well the disappointment didn't last long at all when I heard the quality of the product. Heavy in places, gentle in others, bizarre even for a couple of minutes towards the end, then it all comes together in a glorious uplifting denouement. A bit of effort is required to find the time to listen, but for me, this is pretty much the holy grail of music making.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

2014 and a few thoughts (part I)

*takes key handed to him by John*
*unlocks door*
*opens door*
*looks around*

So ... this is what a blog space looks like from the inside. John has seen fit to give me access to this blog, but what to do now?

I think ostensibly the idea was for me to give a reflection on the previous year's music from my perspective, and I'll probably do that after a fashion.

I've been thinking about music a lot recently, and more specifically on how to find and to get into good new music. I may go into this in other posts, or maybe I'll go into it a little now.

Songs don't seem to be sticking in my mind like they used to. Sometimes now, I get hold of an album and have to listen to it three or four times before much of it becomes familiar. Things seem to have been going this way for some time, but it perhaps seems quite striking now. Take for instance Tom Odell - I've just looked back through my music folder to see what music was new in 2014 for me, and there's this Tom Odell folder! I have no idea what it's doing there and what it's all about! *consults with family* Actually I haven't really listened to this before - no-one knows where it's come from. Grr. I'll start again.

February - Fanfarlo - Let's Go Extinct

Right - I like Fanfarlo, a lot. Their first album was the best, the second pretty good, the third, the one in question, is OK. I had high hopes for it with it being a concept album, exploring life from the earliest origins (possibly being delivered to Earth in the form of organic compounds riding on asteroids) to the end of humanity. I have listened to the album about 5 or 6 times, I'd say, but couldn't sing you any of the songs. This one is fairly typical:

March - Elbow - The Take Of And Landing Of Everything

I loved Seldom Seen Kid, and it is one album which goes against what I have said, in that I am pretty familiar with all of it, but I have listened to it a few times, including a couple of times watching the excellent BBC production of the album with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Anyway, that was that, this is this. I've probably listened to it 3 times and liked it - probably a return to form after a slightly disappointing (to me) build a rocket boys! BUT .. I can't sing you any of the songs from it.

May - Kongos - Lunatic

Now actually, there's a lot to say about this album. It first appeared on Spotify as a new release. I was drawn to it because I'm rather taken with the name (John Kongos did the original 'Step On' back in the 70s, a fact which amazed me as I thought the Happy Monday's version was original). Anyway, this band are the sons of this bloke - they're from South Africa. I downloaded the album from Spotify and loved it pretty much straight away, and it gets an unreserved recommendation from me. Then it disappeared! Just vanished from Spotify ... and Amazon! However, it was available to buy as an import CD, so that's what I did. It has since been released in the UK (September kind of time). One of the tunes is used as backing music on BBC adverts or something like that.

June - Hayley Bonar - Last War

There's a bit of a story here too, but I will be brief ... one arm of my quest to discover new music is to organise a communal CD - a bunch of us pick tracks to share. Well for the CD in question, we had a theme of 'Travel' and I was a bit stumped, but then heard this song playing on 6Music, and it has the word 'travelling' in the lyrics ... job's a good 'un ... as is this track, and the album.

Actually, I'm rambling on more than anyone would care to read, so I'm going to leave it there for now.

*retreats back through door*
*closes door*
*locks door*

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Schönberg's Top 10 Albums of 2014

I would like to say that, owing to overwhelming pressure from the blog-reading public, my annual top 10 albums of the year countdown returns. However, when I say 'overwhelming pressure' I mean that one person, namely John Sills, has asked that the annual long-player summary of the year be resurrected once again. So, in true Wayne's World style, this is a special one-off blog for an audience of one, if you like what you read we're at Pine Way in Aurora, Illinois, so Ladies and Gentlemen I give you.... Schönberg's top 10 albums of 2014!!!

I wrote last year that 2013 had heralded a move from CDs to digital downloads in my music collection, and that this had made me listen to more albums rather than the predicted move to single track purchases. Well, 2014 saw another media-shift in the Schönberg collection, a move from owning music to 'renting' through streaming media supplier Spotify. I spend £10 per month on Spotify's premium service, the price of one or two albums, and have access to myriad of new releases and back-catalogues. Now there is no reason to not try an album out, for fear of buying a pup, a simple download and listen in the car on the way to work will normally give me an idea of whether the album is worth pursuing more, or whether I should delete it from my phone and replace with something else. This means that I have been able to be much more adventurous with my choices this year, something that I think shows in the broadness of my top 10.

So, strap yourself in:

10. The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream

9. Johnny Marr - Playland

8. The Horrors - Luminous

7. Royal Blood - Royal Blood

6. Metronomy - Love Letters

5. Alvvays - Alvvays

4. Death from Above 1979 - The Physical World

3. Todd Terje - It's Album Time

2. Teleman - Breakfast

1. Allo' Darlin - We Come From The Same Place

So there you have it. An eclectic top 10 ranging from the indie-folk musings of Allo Darlin' through the funky club electronica of Todd Terje all the way to the down and dirty grunge rock of Death from Above 1979. I hope 2015 is as interesting and varied in a music sense as 2014 has been.

Footnote. My number one album of 2014 shows the power of Spotify. Back in 2010 I was blown away by Allo Darlin's debut album, but their 2012 follow up (Europe), save for a couple of cracking tracks, left me a bit cold. If it wasn't for the option to try out the third album without shelling out good money, I may have declined to purchase it and would therefore have been denied this beauty. I'm still not sure of whether the economics of Spotify work, or whether the smaller, independent bands get a good deal, maybe someone can educate me on this.