Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from About The Music

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas. To celebrate, here is the best Christmas video on YouTube:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What's happening to the new U2 album?

No Line on The Horizon is the title of the much delayed and forthcoming new U2 album. it was meant to arrive in Spring 2008 and then, November. It has now been pushed back to February and U2 have just announced March as the release date.

U2 say "No Line On The Horizon, the new studio album from U2, will be released on Monday 2nd March 2009.

Written and recorded in various locations, No Line On The Horizon is the group’s 12th studio album and is their first release since the 9 million selling album How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, released in late 2004.

Sessions for No Line On The Horizon began last year in Fez, Morocco, continued in the band’s own studio in Dublin, before moving to New York’s Platinum Sound Recording Studios, and finally being completed at Olympic Studios in London.

The album calls on the production talents of long-time collaborators Brian Eno and Danny Lanois, with additional production by Steve Lillywhite."

The Irish Independent has an article on how 2008 has treated U2 and the new album.

"It was supposed to be the biggest album of the year, one that would help swell the coffers of Universal Music -- the world's largest record company. But U2 clearly had not read the script."

Read the rest of the article here

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Butter - who knew?

Recently I've been baking cakes, well one cake to be precise - a banana and lemon drizzle cake - a couple of times. Both times it has been slightly different and thanks to this article in the New York Times, I now know why.

Turns out it's the butter.

The gist of the article is that butter is like concrete. It holds everything together. If it gets too hot it breaks down. Being lazy, I melt my butter by zapping it in the microwave. NO!!!! I now know that this ruins it, the bonds will never return again. The butter should look firm, feel cold to the touch but will leave the impression of your finger if you touch it. Then you're ready to cream it and make cookies/cake/brownies etc. It's so important because creaming the butter is what creates the air bubbles in cakes to rise. Baking soda only expands air bubbles, it can not create them.

So there you go - look after your butter.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hamster on a Piano

Just found this on the Time magazine top 10 viral videos. To make it there you must have seen it already, but if you haven't then you must watch this adorable hamster on a piano.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hunted Forever free flash game

Named by Time magazine as the 8th best video game of 2008 (Grand Theft Auto 4 was named number 1) Hunted Forever is a free flash game which is like the Matrix movies where the characters are chased by sentinels. You control a jumping character with flares who must collect machine parts while running from large floating machines with bombs and lasers. It's easy to pick up but very difficult to master. Try it.

Play Hunted Forever here for free

Monday, December 08, 2008

Children in need Christmas Single

Due to growing demand Warner Bros are releasing Sir Terry Wogan and Aled Jones’ version of ‘Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth’ this Monday, 8th December, as a digital download.

It’s to benefit Children in Need and how nice would it be not to have an X-Factor contestant taking the Number 1 slot. Show your support by downloading it.

Windows Media
High quality

Low Quality




Thursday, December 04, 2008

Nokia - Comes with music

It's no secret that Nokia has been trying to figure out a way to beat the iPhone and iTunes music store for ages, with no luck so far. But now they are offering a *revolutionary* new way which just might work.

Here's the deal, have as much music as you like for free.

Not bad, and surely the aggressive tactic that is needed. And it's music that you want and have heard of, those providing their cataloguse are EMI - the biggest music label, and a tremendous selection of independent music, courtesy of deals with The Orchard (NASD: ORCD), Beggars Group, IODA, the Ministry of Sound, PIAS and Pinnacle. These companies join Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group in supporting Comes With Music. Nokia has also secured music publishing rights from CELAS on behalf of EMI Music Publishing, GEMA on behalf of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, SACEM on behalf of Universal Music Publishing, as well as the MCPS-PRS Alliance.

So with a roster like that you should be able to find just about anything you like. What's the catch? Well there's obviously no such thing as a free lunch, but this is cheap -Comes With Music offers one year of unlimited access to the entire Nokia Music Store catalogue and customers can keep all the music that they have downloaded at the end of the year to continue enjoying their music collection.

Comes With Music will be available across a range of Nokia devices, including the new Nokia 5800 XpressMusic - also announced today and the Nokia N95 8GB and Nokia 5310 XpressMusic.

The United Kingdom will be the first market to offer Comes With Music with sales starting now and the United States sales are planned for 2009. The Nokia 5310 XpressMusic Comes With Music edition is expected to cost GBP 129.95 and people can pre-register their orders for Comes With Music devices from Carphone Warehouse .

I've done a search on the website and the store really does have everything - Bright Eyes, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Wilco, Ryan Adams, iron and wine.

This might just be enough to make me spend my money and wrestle my iPod out of my hand, but I don't know how good the device is yet.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Great film - King of Kong

On Saturday night I saw a great film - King of Kong: A fistful of Quarters.

It doesn't sound like much but stay with me - there's this guy called Billy Mitchell, in 1982 he set the highest ever score for Donkey Kong (the original nintendo arcade classic), and it has remained unbeaten ever since. He thinks he's pretty amazing, and has a little band of adoring followers.

Then there is a guy called Steve. He's almost been good at a lot of things and keeps striving to make his mark at something. He loses his job and then starts playing Donkey Kong. He sees the high score and figures he'll give it a go. He does and eventually manages a record score, and he has it on video. But, the judges disqualify him because they don't like some guy he's friends with, so they tell him to do it live in person at a games festival. Steve then challenges Billy to go head to head. Who will win?

It's really compelling and the plot twists and turns like it was scripted. The characters are wonderful, Steve and his all American nice guy, Billy and the ego. At the end you can feel the tension.

Rent it or buy it, you'll love it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Stills

Candian rockers the Stills are this month's Ignition artists on the Zune Marketplace. Head to the Marketplace to download an exclusive free track of their original song demo "Snow in California [demo]", originally the B-side on the single "Being Here" from the band's latest 2008 release 'Oceans Will Rise'. In addition to the exclusive Ignition track, fans can discover what the Stills have in common with Wu Tang Clan (hint: has to do with GZA), and see the band's hand-picked Guestlist collection, which includes an eclectic mix of tunes from indie-rock cohorts Kings of Leon to metal legends Pantera to afrobeat Orchestra Baobab.

Download the free track "Snow In California [demo]" here:

Check out the Stills on here:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

U2 unseen photographs

The Guardian has a wonderful
collection of previously unseen U2 photographs
from the forthcoming book- U2: A Diary by Matt McGee. It charts the bands history from their first gig

to the Vertigo tour:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ryan Adams on BBC Radio 2

more Ryan Adams stuff - this time listen to their live performance on BBC Radio 2, Dermot O'Leary show. Listen to it here It's in the third hour so you can fastforward.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

CD Review - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals - Cardinology

A little late, but here it is, my verdict on the new record. Is anyone going to the Cambridge Corn Exchange show this weekend, if so I'll see you there!



Cardinology, Ryan's fourth official band record is a statement of intent - full on classic rock. That the supporting tour is billed as The Cardinals featuring Ryan Adams is yet more evidence that Ryan wants to leave the solo efforts of "Heartbreaker" and "Gold" behind.

So how does it sound? Well first of all, this album is a grower. Don't expect another "New York New York" or "La Ciegna" here. The Cardinals are continuing the sound developed over previous albums but this time with a louder, more electric garage band feel.

It starts strong. On the opening three songs the Cardinals line up the hits and knock them down. "Born Into A Light" with it's catchy acoustic guitar riff, thedesperate love song "Go Easy" and the single "Fix It" are as good as anything Ryan has produced since "Gold".

After this the album moves onto rocky ground. "Magick" is a sad reminder of the dark, dumb days of Rock 'N' Roll and "Cobwebs" has that terrible over-used line "If I fall will you catch me?". But there are chinks of light - "Let us down easy" and "Crossed Out Name" find the Cardinals on fine form.

Cardinology is a missed opportunity. With a little more quality control it could have been a great album. The patchy second half spoils an album that promised so much. Yet after some repeated listensCardinology, despite it's flaws, is charming and a worthy addition to the Ryan Adams/Cardinals canon.

For fans of: The Grateful Dead, Drive By Truckers, Wilco
Download: Fix It, Go Easy, Let Us Down Easy
Rating: 7/10

Listen now (mp3)
Go Easy
Born Into A Light

Another Cardinology review

This time from the Guardian

Clean, sober and subdued, Adams is clearly behaving himself. He throws no infuriating/exhilarating curveballs on his 10th album, instead offering a tight collection of country-rock that is suffused with a vague spirituality. However, the smattering of pearls, notably 'Let Us Down Easy' and 'Crossed Out Name', can't disguise the general absence of sparkle.
Rating: 3/5

Justice - a documentary


The French DJ duo, Justice are releasing a documentary about their 3 week tour of America entitled "A Cross The Universe" The documentary will be released Decemeber 9th on Atlantic Records.

During the 18 months the Grammy-nominated French duo Justice spent touring following the release of their monumental debut LP, multi-award winning directors and intimate friends of the band, Romain Gavras ("Stress" director) and So-Me ("D.A.N.C.E.", "DVNO") taped every second of that 3 week tour that looks like it lasted 3 years. This documentary ain't about how cool Justice's live show is (the bonus CD is here for that), but is all about the extraordinary things that can happen when a bunch of frogs gets dropped in dreamy America.

This live CD + DVD release will include recordings of Justice's signature headbanging live sets along with show footage and various hijinks captured as the band toured the US in March 2008. Screenings of the film will be held in each city around the DJ sets late October.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cardinology reviews

Well Rolling Stone loves it, so does BBC 6 Music, but Pitchfork hates it, giving Cardinology a score of 4.7/10.

I have to disagree with the BBC 6 Music review though. Chiefly because the reviewer sites that he cannot tell whether it is a solo or a Cardinals record. Probably because Easy Tiger was a Cardinals record but that label wouldn't allow Ryan to put the Cardinals name on it. Cardinology is, as the name would suggest, definately a band record. There are big electric guitars, even some solos, lots of harmonies from the band and feels quite different to his solo work (granted Easy Tiger had a lot more solo songs on it than Cardinology).

I'm going to post my review tonight, but my one sentance synopsis is, first half great, second half not so great.

Born Into A Light

Sufjan Stevens - Welcome Wagon

So what is Sufjan doing with himself I wondered? It's been too long since 2005's Illinoise. Where are the other 48 states in his project?

Turns out he's been producing Asthmatic Kitty's new signing - the Welcome Wagon - whose debut, Welcome to the Welcome Wagon, is released December 9. Sufjan Stevens produced, arranged, and provided "extensive instrumentation" on the duo's new disc. Comprised of Presbyterian pastor the Reverend Thomas Vito Aiuto and his wife Monique, the Welcome Wagon craft what AK calls "a genre of gospel music that is refreshingly plain."

Welcome to the Welcome Wagon:

01 Up on a Mountain
02 Sold! To the Nice Rich Man
03 Unless the Lord the House Shall Build
04 He Never Said a Mumblin' Word
05 Hail to the Lord's Anointed
06 But for You Who Fear My Name
07 American Legion
08 You Made My Day
09 Half a Person
10 Jesus
11 I Am a Stranger
12 Deep Were His Wounds, and Red

MP3: The Welcome Wagon: Sold! To the Nice Rich Man [from the forthcoming Welcome to the Welcome Wagon LP]

Ryan Adams and the Cardinals Vinyl

That is the cover of the vinyl edition of Ryan Adams and the Cardinals' Cardinology, out now in the States from Lost Highway and due November 10 in the UK from Mercury Records Ltd. The first pressing of the wax finds the disc pressed into red translucent vinyl and accompanied by a download card (U.S. only), a bonus 7", 17 postcards from the current tour, and a lyric book and limited-edition t-shirt both designed by graphic novelist Leah Hayes (who also designed the alternate cover you see above.)
Also, reorders for Ryan's book, Infinity Blues, start shipping next month from Akashic Press, with the official publication date set at April 1 of next year. On the Akashic site, the collection of poetry and fiction is described as "the jewel of my life's work" by Adams.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


After months of procrastination I've finally got a wireless router. I went for the Apple AirPort Express, and I love it already. Why - well apart from being a superfast router, and super small, it has AirTunes out of the box. AirTunes is the ability to stream your music over your wireless network. So I sit here typing with my iTunes open, and it streams the music over to my big stereo on the other side of the room, without any wires. What prevents me from listening to the music on my iTunes library more is that I don't like the sound from my tinny laptop speakers, but now it's coming through the stero with as much richness and bass as an mp3 can muster. Plus Heather can now listen to all my music on her computer and educate herself. I can listen to her wide selection of Christmas music and vegetales songs. Great. It was a breeze to set up and works perfectly.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008



Breathe. At last, the right man has won. I just read this at Huffington Post

"we would die of grief if Barack Obama didn't win, and to make sure he did win we held our breaths.

We held our breaths through the conventional wisdom:

Hillary was a done deal. Barack Obama would have to raise his energy level or else. The country would never elect someone so professorial. The Bradley effect was alive and well. Obama was Michael Dukakis all over again. The Reverend Wright was a catastrophic mistake. Michelle Obama was too angry. There would be an October surprise. Israel would bomb Iran. Osama bin Laden would make a videotape. There would be a dirty bomb in a suitcase. Those women from PUMA might matter. The vice-presidential candidate never makes a difference. Obama should have picked Hillary instead. A pitbull in lipstick. Lipstick on a pig. Obama should never have gone to Berlin. Obama should never have gone on vacation to Hawaii. Twemty-seven per cent of the American people thought he was a Muslim. The Republicans would rig the voting machines in Ohio. Everything depended on Pennsylvania. America would never elect a black president.

By the end of the summer we were drained, we were spent, we were maxed out. Then the economy crashed. At that point it was over, but we didn't know it: we continued to hold our breaths through the debates. But the country had made up its mind and the debates didn't matter at all.

Tonight, at eleven o'clock, the endless election ended. It was divine. It was amazing. It was (depending on what commentator you were watching) either "an" historic event, or "a" historic event. And we can breathe again."

Read the full post here

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Presidential iPod playlists

John McCain and Barack Obama gave a list of their top 10 tracks for Blender this summer:

1. Ready or Not Fugees
2. What’s Going On Marvin Gaye
3. I’m On Fire Bruce Springsteen
4. Gimme Shelter Rolling Stones
5. Sinnerman Nina Simone
6. Touch the Sky Kanye West
7. You’d Be So Easy to Love Frank Sinatra
8. Think Aretha Franklin
9. City of Blinding Lights U2
10. Yes We Can

1. Dancing Queen ABBA
2. Blue Bayou Roy Orbison
3. Take a Chance On Me ABBA
4. If We Make It Through December Merle Haggard
5. As Time Goes By Dooley Wilson
6. Good Vibrations The Beach Boys
7. What A Wonderful World Louis Armstrong
8. I’ve Got You Under My Skin Frank Sinatra
9. Sweet Caroline Neil Diamond
10. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes The Platters

Free single download - Erin McCarley

"Pony", the first single off of Erin McCarley's January 6 Universal Republic debut 'Love, Save the Empty' is available for free download at her website.



Is your name Michelle? Do you know a Michelle? Local H wants you to show the world why "nobody's got it like Michelle." Submit your photo to be used in their new "Michelle (again)" video from the “12 Angry Months” LP out now on Shout! Factory. Contest ends 12/5/08. Click the link below for details on how to submit your photo.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Larry David on the election

AboutTheMusic's favourite comedian, Larry David, writes in the Huffington Post today about the suspense of waiting for the election, and taking out angst out on his ex-wife (which he quite enjoys). Poor Cheryl.

Read the post here

Send an Amazon gift certificate by mail

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Josh Rouse - The Best of the Rykodisc Years - Album Review


The first of this double disc anthology features 19 favourites from Rouse's first five albums and two EPs. They run chronologically and the the track list is no surprise - it opens with "Late Night Conversation" and "Dressed Up like Nebraska", easily the best songs from his debut record before moving through Chester, the Josh Rouse and Lambchop frontman (Kurt Wagner) EP, and onto "Home". Home contains the song "Directions", which helped him reach new audiences when it was featured by Cameron Crowe in his wonderfully sound-tracked movie "Vanilla Sky".

While these songs are good, the golden years of Josh Rouse came on his final three records for the label - "Under Cold Blue Stars", "1972" and "Nashville". "Under Cold Blue Stars" was the album which brought him attention in UK, being heavily promoted by Q magazine, amongst others. The concept album about a travelling mid-western musician adds four great tracks to disc 1. "1972" with its change of direction into white-boy soul on "Come Back" and "Love Vibration" (it really works) provides another 4 tracks and the remaining 4 are pulled from Nashville, his final record with the stand out "My Love Has Gone" before leaving Rykodisc, getting divorced, moving to Spain and setting up his own label.

Josh Rouse has the rare gift of effortlessly producing strong melodies, that, together with his warm, approachable voice, provides a strand of continuity throughout the anthology, despite his constant attempts to vary his musical style. With the possible exception of a couple of the earlier tracks, disc 1 makes a gem of an album and an absolute must for anyone who hasn't checked out Rouse before.

Disc 2 features demos and b-sides and the near obligatory unreleased tracks. it also features the limited edition bedroom classics EP, to provide it to a wider audience. The second disc is interesting for fans, and "Sunshine" and "Suburban Sweetheart" are good songs but it is the first disc that will linger in your CD player. When Rouse began there weren't many people making alt-country pop and he may come to be regarded as a bit of a pioneer. It has been a real pleasure to re-discover Josh Rouse through this best of, and hopefully through this release many more people will make his acquaintance.

Rating: 4/5
Download: My Love Has Gone, Feeling No Pain, Love Vibration

Listen to Josh Rouse live at the Shepherd's Bush Empire and other concerts at or here

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Horse Feathers - House With No Home (album review)

(Kill Rock Stars)
6 October 2008

House With No Home is Horse Feather's debut release on Kill Rock Stars and the follow up to their critically acclaimed "Words Are Dead".

Horse Feathers is lead by Justin Ringle and named after a phrase his Grandfather used. Horse Feathers share the same sparse sound and hushed, whispered vocals as Iron & Wine but aren't a derivative spin-off. They differ through the strong strings from multi-instrumentalist Peter Broderick and his sister Heather on cello and backing vocals.

The first album's strength was found in its minimalism - the songs were stripped down to nothing but the bare minimum, the space between the notes was as important as the notes themselves. Justin's vocal style is not so much about lyrics as the sounds the words make. If you liked Words Are Dead, you'll like House With No Home.

Initially I felt disappointed that "House..." appeared to start right where "Words.." left off. The same techniques, similar songs and melodies. Yet after a few listens, when you become more acquainted with it, House... reveals a personality all of its own. This happens around the fourth track - "Albina"; it feels arresting and heightened from the beginning developing into a powerful crescendo. The songs are more complex, featuring more strings and harmony vocals, yet retaining what made Words.. a great album. "Helen" is another highlight, featuring perfect orchestration and gorgeous backing vocals and the line:

Helen if you called my name you know I'd go
In much the same way the sun steals the snow

With House With No Home Horse Feathers show that they are still producing some of the best Americana out there.

Rating; 4/5
For Fans Of: Iron & Wine, Damien Jurado, Peter and the Wolf

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


They get a lot of stick these days and I think we've forgotten what Pesticides are good for.

I'm eating an organic apple and have just found that I'm not the only one. One bite revealed a worm also munching on my apple. I've let the worm finish it off.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

modern dayWilliam Tell

What a photograph. Thanks to the Guardian for this. Jeffrey R Werner uses a special Hulcher camera that takes 65 frames per second to catch a bullet shot by John Richmond, just as it pulverises a watermelon on top of his brother Ken's head.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Free Wilco song

All you have to do it pledge to Vote.

And in the spirit of giveaways that seem to be sweeping the nation, Wilco are giving away an an audio postcard of sorts from a summer's night in Oregon with the Fleet Foxes & a lovely Bob Dylan tune.

All we ask is you go to and click the "I pledge to vote in the 2008 Election" button. If you can spare it, Wilco ask you to consider a donation to Feeding America . Happy listening

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ryan Adams and the Cardinals - Cardinology - New record!

Ryan Adams and the Cardinals release their new CD ‘Cardinology’ on October 27 and the Cardinals have announced a UK tour as follows. The current itinerary began August 23rd at the Fillmore in San Francisco and includes a series of Canadian shows supporting Oasis. Cardinals are Ryan Adams (vocals, guitar, keys), Neal Casal (guitar, vocals), Chris Feinstein (bass), Jon Graboff (pedal steel) and Brad Pemberton (drums).

November 10 - Manchester Academy
November 11 - Newcastle Academy
November 13 - Leeds Academy
November 14 - Edinburgh, Scotland - Picture House
November 16 - Cambridge - Corn Exchange
November 17 - Birmingham Academy
November 19 - Brighton Dome
November 20 - London Brixton Academy
November 22 - Southampton Guildhall

Saturday, September 13, 2008

new Ryan Adams album and tour


Ok this is quite exciting. Not too long since we had Easy Tiger and a new Ryan Adams & The Cardinals cd is on the way scheduled for release October 27 2008.

Ryan and the Cardinals are currently on tour which began August 23rd at the Fillmore in San Francisco and includes a series of Canadian shows supporting Oasis. Cardinals are Ryan Adams (vocals, guitar, keys), Neal Casal (guitar, vocals), Chris Feinstein (bass), Jon Graboff (pedal steel) and Brad Pemberton (drums). They will be playing some UK dates. I hope to see them this time around.

November 8 - Dublin, Ireland - Ambassador Theatre
Presale starts Wednesday, August 27th here
Tickets go on sale to the public August 29th here

November 10 - Manchester Academy
Presale starts Wednesday, August 27th here
Tickets go on sale to the public August 29th here

November 11 - Newcastle Academy
Presale starts Wednesday, August 27th here
Tickets go on sale to the public August 29th here

November 13 - Leeds Academy
Presale starts Wednesday, August 27th here
Tickets go on sale to the public August 29th here

November 14 - Edinburgh, Scotland - Picture House
Presale starts Wednesday, August 27th here
Tickets go on sale to the public August 29th here

November 16 - Cambridge - Corn Exchange
Presale starts Wednesday, August 27th here
Tickets go on sale to the public August 29th here

November 17 - Birmingham Academy
Presale starts Wednesday, August 27th here
Tickets go on sale to the public August 29th here

November 19 - Brighton Dome
Presale starts Wednesday, August 27th here
Tickets go on sale to the public August 29th here

November 20 - Brixton Academy
Presale starts Wednesday, August 27th here
Tickets go on sale to the public August 29th here

November 22 - Southampton Guildhall
Presale starts Wednesday, August 27th here
Tickets go on sale to the public August 29th here

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Horse Feathers tour with Jose Gonzales

Horse Feather's first album - Words Are Dead was one of About The Music's top 10 records of 2006. A review of their second album will be appearing here soon. Meanwhile they've lined up a tour with José González, another great artist.

Horse Feathers will be releasing their second album, House With No Home, on Kill Rock Stars on 6th October. They will be supporting José González on tour.

Born and raised in Lewiston, ID, Justin Ringle has a natural affinity with the West. The band’s debut album, Words Are Dead, which was released on the local Lucky Madison label in 2006, and was nominated for the Plug Awards ‘Americana Album of the Year’.

On this, their second album, Horse Feathers have distilled their sound into a brilliant statement of minimalist Americana.

Horse Feathers will be supporting José González in October:

14th October - London, KOKO

15th October - Liverpool, Academy

16th October - Exeter, Lemon Grove

17th October - Canterbury Kent International Arts Festival

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Lately I've seen quite a few films that I'd like to reccommend. Last night Heather and I went to see Batman. 

I've never been a huge fan of comic book movies (superman aside), they're always too predictable, too CGI stunt filled and plot light, but I'd read some good things about Batman and we fancied a trip to the cinema. It's the opening weekend so we booked tickets and arrived early to queue. I haven't been to a blockbuster opening weekend film for so long, I remember queuing for an hour to see Jurassic Park, and the sense of anticipation when sitting in a packed cinema is well worth the wait.

I haven't seen Batman Begins because it didn't appeal so I don't know how the two tie together but my verdict on The Dark Night is - great. Go see it. 

I was blown away - it's complex, believeable, full of great (non cheesy) dialouge and one particular breathtaking stunt which had the whole audience gasping. A lot has been written about the late Heath Ledger and it's all true. He steals the shoe and is mesmerising, just like Daniel Day Lewis in there will be blood. He comes accross as amoral, psychotic in a scary, but compulsivly fascinating way. See clip below for an example. 

It's dark, brooding and wonderful. I could watch it again right now, and there aren't many movies I would say that about.

Last week I saw KNOCKED UP. 

Not as good as Juno but very funny and enjoyable.

The week before that I saw another film which really stands out - CLOVERFIELD. The trailer is possibly one of the best ever made and the film was gripping from start to finish. Shot completely from a hand held camera it captures the sense of fear, terror and confusion of a group of friends in New York fleeing from a disaster/emergency and trying to find a separated friend. What really impressed me was the clever way the plot developed, through clever dialogue - very difficult to do when it all comes from one camera.

Its from the creator of LOST, which I'm also a big fan of and his creativity is evident throughout. I'm about to watch War Of The Worlds now which I don't expect to be impressed with but who knows.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Counting Crows tour

I didn't think much of their latest album - Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings, but Counting Crows have been one of my first musical loves and a favourite live band. So it's a pleasure to find they're touring the UK. Supporting will be Ben Folds and Melee.

2nd - Newcastle, Arena
4th - Nottingham, Arena
5th - London, Wembley Arena
7th - Manchester, Apollo
8th - Cardiff, Arena
10th - Bournemouth Arena
11th - Brighton, Centre
13th - Birmingham, NEC
14th - Sheffield, Arena
18th - Glasgow SECC
Tickets are available at a price of £35 for London and £33.50 for all regional shows. Ben Folds also performs at all dates bar Glasgow.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Recipes for the recession

With food prices soaring, TIME magazine has an article on how to gourmet cook without spending top dollar. Click the link for the lot but below is my favourite recipe.

Spaghetti With Pancetta and Chili Flakes
Recipe by David Myers, Sona, Los Angeles
• 6 quarts of water
• 1 pound spaghetti
• 4 ounces pancetta
• Chili flakes (to taste)
• ¼ cup olive oil
• 2 lemons (juiced)
• Salt and pepper

1. Salt the water and bring to a boil.
2. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain.
3. While pasta is cooking, dice pancetta in 1/4-inch pieces.
4. In a large saut� pan, cook pancetta until crispy.
5. Pour out all excess fat and add cooked pasta to the same pan.
6. Add chili flakes to taste.
7. Evenly mix in the olive oil and lemon juice.
8. Season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

CD Review - Golden Animals

Release: 4 AUGUST 2008

Golden Animals are Tommy Eisner (guitars) and Swedish born Linda Beercroft. They found inspiration from old fashioned rock'n'roll- The Doors, Hendrix and The Rolling Stones. Eisner, speaking about early blues records claims "in 200 years people will find new ways to create from those rules". Perhaps, but Golden Animals haven't managed. There is nothing here you haven't heard before. Eisner has a fine baritone (think Jim Morrision) and Linda provides sweet backing vocals but each blues flavoured track trudges around the 12 bars as uninspiring as the next, musically and lyrically.

For fans of: The White Stripes; Rolling Stones
Download: The Steady Roller, My My MY
Rating: 5/10

Saturday, June 28, 2008


I like a good glass of wine. Particularly a big smooth red. Preferably a bordeaux or an Italian Valpolicella. If you like a glass and you like to talk about it, head over to - it's like facebook for wine lovers.

You can discuss and review wines, read recommendations, download pdf's for wine tasting tours. It's pretty good.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What's rocking Obama's iPod?

Obama has revealed what's on his iPod. Will it be the Dixie Chicks like George W had on his? Of course not, Obama rocks out to Dylan (predictably), Springsteen and a wide range of others from Jay Z to Sheryl Crow. I wonder if he had a focus group telling him to get rid of some music before handing it over to Rolling Stone for his interview.

THE GUARDIAN reports that The list of bands reads like the acts at a summer music festival, with the Rolling Stones, Sheryl Crow and Ludacris all in the mix.

Obama said that, growing up, he listened to Elton John and Earth, Wind & Fire but that Stevie Wonder was his ultimate musical hero during the 70s.

The Stones' track Gimme Shelter topped his favourite songs from the band.

His selection also contained 30 songs from Dylan. "One of my favourites [for] the political season is [Dylan's] Maggie's Farm. It speaks to me as I listen to some of the political rhetoric."

In the song, Dylan sings about trying to be himself, "but everybody wants you to be just like them".

The jazz legends Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Charlie Parker were also included in the compilation.

Many of the musicians on Obama's iPod, such as Bruce Springsteen, are supporting his White House bid.

Earlier this month, Dylan said he believed Obama was redefining politics in the US and could bring change to a nation in upheaval.

"I've got to say, having both Dylan and Bruce Springsteen say kind words about you is pretty remarkable," Obama said. "Those guys are icons."

Obama said he had not met Springsteen but that the two had talked over the phone.

"Not only do I love Bruce's music, I just love him as a person," Obama said. "He is a guy who has never lost track of his roots, who knows who he is, who has never put on a front."

He added that, when speaking to the singer, he addressed him by his moniker the Boss. "You've got to," Obama said.

The candidate said he thought rap music was also helping to break down barriers within the music world. Indeed it was reported last month that Obama will make a cameo performance on the rap singer Q-Tip's next album.

However, he expressed concern over his daughters – Malia, nine, and Sasha, seven – listening to some rap songs.

"I am troubled sometimes by the misogyny and materialism of a lot of rap lyrics," he said, "but I think the genius of the art form has shifted the culture and helped to desegregate music."

He said the hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and the rappers Jay-Z and Ludacris were "great talents and great businessmen".

"It would be nice if I could have my daughters listen to their music without me worrying they were getting bad images of themselves," he added.

Obama appears on the cover of the Rolling Stone issue. The magazine endorsed him for president in March.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

CD Review : Golden Animals - Free Your Mind And Win A Pony

What a great album title. They recorded this in the middle of the californian desert, completely alone and only visited once a day by the ranch owner.

4 AUGUST 2008

Golden Animals are Tommy Eisner (guitars) and Swedish born Linda Beercroft. They found inspiration from old fashioned rock'n'roll- The Doors, Hendrix and The Rolling Stones. Eisner, speaking about early blues records claims "in 200 years people will find new ways to create from those rules". Perhaps, but Golden Animals haven't managed. There is nothing here you haven't heard before. Eisner has a fine baritone (think Jim Morrision) and Linda provides sweet backing vocals but each blues flavoured track trudges around the 12 bars as uninspiring as the next, musically and lyrically.

For fans of: The White Stripes; Rolling Stones
Download: The Steady Roller, My My MY
Rating: 5/10

Monday, June 23, 2008

The ugliest dog in the world

The BBC news website reports that Gus has been crowned the ugliest dog in the world. Gus is a three-legged, one-eyed, cancer-afflicted dog and has won at the World's Ugliest Dog at a fair in California.

Owner Jeanenne Teed, from Florida, said she would spend the $1,600 prize on treatment for Gus's skin cancer.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Free Sigur Ros track

Sigur Ros have made available “Gobbledigook” for free download. It's from their forthcoming new album Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust. Literally translated it means ""With a buzz in our ears we play endlessly," and even features a song in English (no way!).


And if that wasn't enough, you can listen to the whole album on their website here:

New Sigur Ros tour dates

Sigur Ros have just announced a load of new American tour dates, to add on to their world tour. Catch them:

Sigur Rós:

06-20 Neuhausen ob Eck, Germany - Southside Festival
06-22 Scheeßel, Germany - Hurricane Festival
06-24 London, England - Westminster Methodist Central Hall
06-28 Reykjavík, Iceland - TBA *
07-05 Werchter, Belgium - Rock Werchter Festival
07-06 Arras, France - Main Square Festival
07-08 Vienna, Austria - Arena
07-09 Lausanne, Switzerland - Les Docks
07-11 Florence, Italy - Giardino di Boboli
07-12 Rome, Italy - Cavea Auditorium
07-13 Milan, Italy - Arena Civica
07-14 Zurich, Switzerland - Volkhaus
07-17 Benicàssim, Spain - Benicàssim Festival
07-19 Southwold, England - Latitude Festival
08-01 Melbourne, Australia - Festival Hall
08-02 Sydney, Australia - Hordern Pavilion
08-03 Byron Bay, Australia - Splendour in the Grass
08-07 Oslo, Norway - Øya Festival
08-08 Gothenburg, Sweden - Way Out West
08-09 Copenhagen, Denmark - Beat Day Festival
08-11 Cologne, Germany - Palladium
08-12 Wiesbaden, Germany - Schlachthof
08-13 Berlin, Germany - Tempodrum
08-15 Saint-Malo, France - La Route du Rock Festival
08-17 Biddinghuizen, Netherlands - Lowlands Festival
08-18 Dresden, Germany - Alter Schlachthof
08-19 Prague, Czech Republic - Arena HC Sparta Praha
08-20 Warsaw, Poland - Palladium
08-22 Riga, Latvia - Arena
08-24 Helsinki, Finland - Kulttuuritalo
08-26 St. Petersburg, Russia - TYUZ Theatre
08-27 Moscow, Russia - B1
08-29 Stradbally, Ireland - Electric Picnic Festival
08-31 Argyll, Scotland - Hydro Connect Festival
09-17 New York, NY - United Palace Theatre
09-18 New York, NY - United Palace Theatre
09-19 Boston, MA - Bank of America Pavillion
09-20 Montreal, Quebec - Quai Jacques Cartier
09-22 Toronto, Ontario - Massey Hall
09-23 Detroit, MI - Fillmore
09-24 Chicago, IL - Chicago Theatre
09-25 Minneapolis, MN - Orpheum
09-27 Morrison, CO - Red Rocks Amphitheatre
09-28 Salt Lake City, UT - Great Saltair
09-30 Tempe, AZ - The Marquee
10-01 San Diego, CA - Copley Symphony Hall
10-02 Los Angeles, CA - The Greek Theatre
10-03 Berkeley, CA - The Greek Theatre
10-05 Seattle, WA - Benaroya Hall
10-06 Portland, OR - Arlene Schnitzer Theatre
10-07 Vancouver, British Columbia - The Chan Centre
10-22 Nagoya, Japan - Geijyutsu Hall
10-24 Osaka, Japan - Koseinenkin Hall
10-26 Tokyo, Japan - Forum

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sufjan Reviews the new Cryptacize record

Now that Apple have made their announcement about the iPhone 3G, the next thing I'm eagerly anticipating is a new Sufjan Stevens record.

He hasn't done anything in ages, at least not in terms of releasing records, so it's intruiging to see him pop up with a record review for a label mate - Cryptacize and their debut disc Dig That Treasure.

Read his review here

He takes a moment to be self-effacing saying that "Their new record “Dig That Treasure” offends many of my own musical impulses, the over-achieving bigger-is-better-shock-and-awe approach."

Sufjan says that the record contains "songs [that] are not trifles, but rather cryptic haiku poems that expand toward a vast cosmic significance."

MP3: Cryptacize: No Coins [from the Dig That Treasure LP]

Friday, June 06, 2008

A Fine Frenzy interview

A Fine Frenzy Interview

A Fine Frenzy's debut record, One Cell In The Sea, has been something of a phenomenon, catapulting it's lead singer, Alison Sudol, into the limelight. The 22 year old singer-songwriter has just returned to her native LA after touring Europe with her band. Before that they were headlining the USA for the first time. She takes a moment out of her recovery time to talk to About The Music.

How was the tour?

We have been on tour for 6 weeks in Europe going everywhere, and before we went to Europe we had just finished our headlining tour in the US. When I'm on the road I'm living on adrenaline, seeing new places and meeting new people. But when on tour I also think back and miss the mundane things in life, like I was thinking about how nice it would be to do the dishes! I've realised again that the dishes are pretty over-rated.

Now I have got home I cleared my diary so I could have some time to relax and read a book, but I've found it difficult to do nothing after the exhilarating tour. I've been very restless. I think I thrive from being busy.

How did you find Europe?

It was our 4th tour in Europe. The people there were, as always, so welcoming. It is amazing that they can sing along with me, knowing all the words to the songs - and they don't even speak English! I find that incredible, I don't think I could sing along in a foreign language.

How did AFF get started?

Well I've been making music since I was 11, and writing songs since I was 15. I've always felt connected to music, the way it can take you to another place and absorb you in its story. I found it a wonderful way to express myself, in a way no other medium could do. 

I wrote Almost Lover [From One Cell In The Sea] when I was 19 years old. I taught myself to play the piano and that was the first song I wrote using the piano. It was a real turning point for me. Almost Lover was this song that was completelymine about how I was feeling. From then on I really wanted to get going and write more songs. 

When people hear the songs that you've written it's a real thrill, the final part of the artistic process.

Almost Lover feels markedly different to the other songs on One Cell In The Sea, much less oblique and more honest. Is that a deliberate to move away from exposing yourself?

Almost Lover was at one point very difficult for me to play but I really believe in that song and in music. I think that you have to be honest for people to be able to connect with it. If people don't understand, and can't connect with my music then I may as well quit.

As I grew up and immersed myself in the novels of CS Lewis, Lewis Carroll and others who use fables and allegory, the easier I found it to write in images. I think that when you speak in stories and images it makes it easier for others to connect with, so that is how I try to write now.
What do you think of Pullman and The Northern Lights Trilogy?
I haven't read it actually. I really should but I haven't got around to it yet.

I hear you're writing a book?

Yeah that's right. It's a young adult fiction book, in the style of Narnia. I haven't let anybody read it yet. For now it's staying tucked away.
How have you found the last year?
It's been amazing, but I think the universe has been shielding me from it all. I've met so many people, amazing fans. I'm now getting letters and emails from great people.
Tell me about the next record?
The new record is shaping up now. I've written about 10 songs. For the last album I wrote 50 songs and then chose from them. I'm listening to a lot of music which is shaping the record.
You seem to love all the same artists as About The Music, who should we be listening to?
Well, apart from the obvious like Iron and Wine, I love Jose Gonzalez, Camera Obscura and Stranger Than Fiction. I went to see a band last week from Oxford called The Foals, I really liked them. Oh and I love Sufjan Stevens. I saw him in New York, I'm friends with a member of his band and we were walking down the street and we bumped into him and he was wonderful. I love his music.
I heard you were at the New York fashion show. What about modelling?
Oh I could never become a model. I'm 5 foot 6 and clumsy! I find fashion interesting and I'm learning a lot. It's an interesting form of art and at the moment My music is providing interesting opportunities.
But those are all just distractions, music is my real thing. I can never stay away from it for long. I always have a guitar or something nearby so I can sit down and play music.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Album review - Anais Mitchell - Hymns for the Exiled

(Righteous Babe)
2 June 2008

Anais found inspiration for her brand of singer-songwriter folk/americana growing up on a sheep farm in Vemont. She recently won the prestigious New Folk Award and this album is influenced by her travels to the Middle East and beyond. The lyrics frequently reference the war and her dislike for Washington politics like "I could tell stories like the government tells lies". Musically it is only guitar and voice.f It is sparse but her child-like, yet accomplished voice holds it's own. The songs can get repetitive as there is little change in rhythm or melody but these quiet, ambitious songs are worth a listen.

Rating: 7/10
For fans of: Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris,
Download: Cosmic American, 1984

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Album review - Yeti - The Legend of Yeti Gonzales

23 JUNE 2008

This album is like an audio Prozac pill, especially with the words "Your CD player craves my goodness" imprinted onto the disc. The 14 songs of multi-layered pop-psychedelia sound like The Beatles, especially "In Like With You" with almost identical chord changes, crossed with some Beach Boys vocal harmonies.

They're clearly having a lot of fun, especially on "Shane McGowan", a country tinged pop tune about "big fat Shane/Shane Shane McGowan" of The Pogues. It does feel slightly like you're intruding on a private party; they're having so much fun but you don't quite get the joke. A lot of the songs are overly long, and degenerate into meandering jams. That aside I salute their love of pop and harmonies.

FOR FANS OF: The Beatles,
DOWNLOAD: Shane McGowan, Obvious-Lee
RATING: 7/10

Friday, May 23, 2008

Radiohead - best of

Heads up! Radiohead best of is to be released 3 June. Here's the tracklisting. CD1 is pretty predictable, but I'm disappointed not to see "Talk Show Host" on CD2. I'm sure most of you will already own all/some of the songs, but it's a shame that there aren't any new songs on it.

Radiohead: The Best Of (Special Edition 2CD)
Disc 1
1. Just
2. Paranoid Android
3. Karma Police
4. Creep
5. No Surprises
6. High and Dry
7. My Iron Lung
8. There There
9. Lucky
10. Optimistic
11. Fake Plastic Trees
12. Idioteque
13. 2+2 = 5
14. The Bends
15. Pyramid Song
16. Street Spirit (Fade Out)
17. Everything In Its Right Place

Disc 2
1. Airbag
2. I Might Be Wrong
3. Go To Sleep
4. Let Down
5. Planet Telex
6. Exit Music (For A Film)
7. The National Anthem
8. Knives Out
9. Talk Show Host
10. You
11. Anyone Can Play Guitar
12. How To Disappear Completely
13. True Love Waits [recorded live in Oslo, 2001; previously released on
I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings]

It'll be available in the following formats:
*1CD collection featuring 17 tracks
*Special Edition 2CD, adding 13 tracks
*4-piece vinyl set with 29 tracks
*17-track & 30-track digital downloads
*DVD featuring 21 classic promo videos

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Onion reviews Pitchfork

Most of us who write about music, also read Pitchfork. It has become massively influential and championed bands like The Decemberists and their brand of indie.

However, their contributors write with a much derided, holier than thou opinion that The Onion takes offence to. Read their critique below.

Pitchfork Gives Music 6.8

CHICAGO—Music, a mode of creative expression consisting of sound and silence expressed through time, was given a 6.8 out of 10 rating in an review published Monday on Pitchfork Media, a well-known music-criticism website.

Pitchfork Gives Logo

According to the review, authored by Pitchfork editor in chief Ryan Schreiber, the popular medium that predates the written word shows promise but nonetheless "leaves the listener wanting more."


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Coldplay tour dates!



Details Released For Free Madison Square Garden
& Brixton Academy Show Tickets On

Coldplay announce their "Viva La Vida" North American Tour in support of their new album of the same name, which will be released on June 17th. The US tour will kick off on June 29th in Philadelphia, PA. Ticket information is available at British/European dates will be announced shortly.

Before kicking off the "Viva La Vida" tour, Coldplay will play free concerts in London (June 16th at Brixton Academy) and New York (June 23rd at Madison Square Garden). Information on how to win tickets to these shows will be available at beginning today. The contest will run from May 9th through to June 1st. Winners will receive notification on June 5th.

Viva La Vida, Coldplay's forthcoming album, will be released by Parlophone on June 12th. Produced by Brian Eno and Markus Dravs, the record is the follow-up to 2005's X&Y, which debuted at #1 in 32 countries and has sold 10 million copies worldwide to date.

The album's lead single "Violet Hill" was downloaded by two million people during the recent one-week period in which the band made the song available to fans for free. It is now for sale at all digital retailers.

Coldplay will perform "Violet Hill" on the Today Show on NBC on Friday, June 27th. US fans are encouraged to check out the performance in person. Viewing is on a first-come, first-served basis outside the show's Window on the World Studio, located at 49th Street and Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. The band will also perform on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" on June 26th.

"[Lead singer Chris] Martin broods over a lost lover with a snarling acidity that makes him sound more human than ever - miles away from the dreamy romantic he was on soaring ballads like 'Speed of Sound,'" said Rolling Stone, naming "Violet Hill" a must-have in a recent "Downloads" column. "Jonny Buckland rips jagged, bluesy riffs that match Martin's mood while drummer Will Champion and bassist Guy Berryman maintain a stalking beat...primal rock & roll."

Upcoming US tour dates are as follows:


Date City Venue Public on Sale Date

6/29 Philadelphia, PA Wachovia Center 5/16
7/2 Washington, DC Verizon Center 5/17
7/3 Hartford, CT XL Center 5/17
7/5 Detroit, MI The Palace of Auburn Hills 5/17
7/6 Cleveland, OH Quicken Loans Arena 5/17
7/8 St. Paul, MN Xcel Energy Center 5/17
7/9 Kansas City, MO Sprint Center 5/17
7/10 Oklahoma City, OK Ford Center 5/16
7/12 Phoenix, AZ Arena 5/17
7/19 Las Vegas, NV MGM Grand Garden Arena 5/17
7/21 Sacramento, CA ARCO Arena
7/24 San Jose, CA HP Pavilion
7/25 San Jose, CA HP Pavilion
7/27 Pemberton, BC Pemberton Festival
7/29 Edmonton, AB Rexall Place
7/30 Calgary, AB Pengrowth Saddledome
8/1 Winnipeg, MB MTS Centre
8/3 Omaha, NE Qwest Center
8/4 Chicago, IL United Center
10/20 Montreal, QC Bell Centre
10/21 Ottawa, ON Scotiabank Place
10/26 East Rutherford, NJ Izod Center
10/29 Toronto, ON Air Canada Centre
10/30 Toronto, ON Air Canada Centre
11/3 Boston, MA TD Banknorth Garden
11/7 Orlando, FL Amway Arena
11/8 Miami, FL American Airlines Arena
11/11 Atlanta, GA Philips Arena
11/18 Houston, TX Toyota Center
11/19 Dallas, TX American Airlines Center
11/21 Denver, CO Pepsi Center Arena
11/22 Salt Lake City, UT Energy Solutions Arena

Friday, May 09, 2008

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

My Morning Jacket on SNL May 10th and free MP3

My Morning Jacket is the musical guest on Saturday Night Live this Saturday, May 10th.

In case you haven't checked it out you can download an Mp3 of title track "Evil Urges" here:

Friday, May 02, 2008


21 APRIL 2008

Thalia Zedek has notable musical credentials from a number of bands including Uzi, Live Skull and Come, before her solo work. The tour for her debut album on Thrill Jockey 'Trust Not Those in Whom Without Some Touch of Madness' earned a spot on The Wire magazine's top 60 Greatest Shows Ever.

But it doesn't matter what she's done, this album is awful. Unlistenable. She sounds like a moody adolescent whining about depression. The songs are too long, unstructured, meandering and devoid of a melody. Listen to it at your peril.

For fans of: apparently Nick Cave and PJ Harvey
Download: nothing
Rating: 2/10

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Murder By Death - Red of Tooth And Claw - review

26 APRIL 2008

MURDER BY DEATH are a four piece from Texas, Detroit and Kentucky. They now make their cello rock'n'roll music in Indiana. The "Red of Tooth and Claw LP" is full of dark, rumbling, drink hazed scenes of sin, redemption and guilt. Adam Turla's low baritone growls sound like a Nick Cave from the deep south in an argument with Tom Waits. He sings with considerable energy about Old West drama with Old Testament judgement.

It starts well, with an uptempo opener "Comin' Home" but after that it descends into generic rock. There are no real stand-out songs and one average track moves to the next almost without notice. Potential, but never really finds its feet

Download: Fuego!; Comin' Home
For Fans of: Tom Waits; Drive By Truckers
Rating 5/10

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Jason Ringenberg CD review

Jason Ringenberg - Best Tracks And Side Tracks
12 May 2008

Billed as the 'original roots barnstormer' Jason Ringenberg, of Jason And The Scorchers releases a double CD to mark 30 years of music. Disc 1 is a best of 20 chronologically listed tracks; some are re-edited including 'Bible And A Gun' featuring Steve Earl and 'One Less Heartache' featuring The Wildhearts. Disc 2 is a careful selection of rarities curated by Ringenberg.

For those who don't know Ringenberg is in the Country Music Hall of Fame and is credited as the patriarch of Americana, alt-country and cow-punk. His pioneering musical imprint, fusing country and rock together, is equal to either Gram Parson's or Uncle Tupelo.

Yet to these ears it all sounds painfully hillbilly, boot stomping yee-haw! country. His influence is legendary, and I appreciate what he's done but unless you have a cowboy hat and string tie in your wardrobe this might just test your tolerance to country music.

For fans of: Uncle Tupelo, Townes Van Zandt, Blue Mountain
Download: Punk Rock Skunk

A Fine Frenzy stream

If anyone reading this hasn't listened to A Fine Frenzy yet, then do yourself a favour. Click on the link below and your ears will love you:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Paul's review - The Foals

This week Paul has been listening to the Foals and musing on the state of his existence when he realises what is "the biggest challenge in my life this week"

Band = Foals
Album = Antidotes
Label = Transgressive

When asked if I’d like to review Foals’ Antidotes I had heard Cassius, their lead single, once. It was spiky and rugged, the sound of a sped up Bloc Party on LSD. I thought one listen was all I needed to know a great tune. I was wrong, shockingly wrong.

By the time the album arrived, Cassius had been on the radio a few more times. On second listen it began to grate; on the third I turned the volume down; by the fourth I was lunging for the dial like a man desperately plagued by the fear of hearing the football results that would take the surprise and pleasure out of watching Match of the Day.

It soon emerged that the problem with Cassius, and with Antidotes as a whole, is Foals’ love of repetition. Every line is sang four times; every hook is borrowed from the previous song; every vocal is multitracked and bolstered beyond intimacy or immediacy; every guitar solo employs the same laboured style (jarring guitars picked quickly and seemingly out of time high up the fret board).

Asides from the constant repetition, uninspiring music and lack of dynamics, there are two further problems. Every song is two minutes too long and each song sounds just like the last. The tracks blur into each other, but not in the Sergeant Peppers kind of way. What the sleeve notes call eleven songs is actually one, big, fat mess. Put the components of a Bloc Party record into a blender and you would end up with Antidotes.

Listening to the album from start to finish has been the biggest challenge in my life this week. That probably says a little too much about my life, but nevertheless, it’s not exactly the glowing tribute Foals will want on their record cover.

When Bloc Party released the majestic Silent Alarm it was inevitable that deplorable replicas would be cobbled together by boring bands hoping to heist a bandwagon. But it would have been difficult to predict anything this bad. Be warned: Foals will leave you in need of an antidote.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Clinton's "Mean, Vacuous, Desparate" Race

NYT Blames Clinton For "Mean, Vacuous, Desperate" Race: The Obama campaign is sending out a New York Times editorial released tonight that blasts Hillary Clinton -- whom the Times endorsed. Here's a sample:

The Low Road to Victory

The Pennsylvania campaign, which produced yet another inconclusive result on Tuesday, was even meaner, more vacuous, more desperate, and more filled with pandering than the mean, vacuous, desperate, pander-filled contests that preceded it.

Voters are getting tired of it; it is demeaning the political process; and it does not work. It is past time for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to acknowledge that the negativity, for which she is mostly responsible, does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election.

Read on

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Kooks acoustic performance

The Kooks' sophomore album 'KONK' came out today on Astralwerks.

The entire album is streaming online at AOL's here:

exclusive 4-song acoustic set and interview on Spinner's Interface with frontman Luke Pritchard can now be watched here:

An .
mp3 of a live version of the first single off 'KONK', "Always Where I Need to Be", is available at this link:

May 18 - San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
May 19 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
May 24 - Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
May 25 - George, WA @ Sasquatch! Festival - all ages
May 26 - Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
May 29 - Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre
May 30 - Kansas City, MO @ KRBZ's 'Buzz Under The Stars' Series at The City Market
May 31 - Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line Music Café
June 1 - Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall Ballroom
June 2 - Chicago, IL @ Vic Theatre
June 4 - Toronto, ON @ Kool Haus
June 5 - Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore at TLA
June 6 - Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
June 10 - New York, NY @ Terminal 5
June 11 - New York, NY @ Terminal 5

Friday, April 11, 2008

Billy Brag loves Duke Special!

In no less than the New York Times, Billy Brag annunces he's a fan of Belfast's favourite, dreadlocked son - Duke Special. Let's hope he keeps spreading the word.

In an article entitled Guitar Licks That Resonate and Lyrics That Linger he writes about the Duke:

Duke Special

He’s a very interesting-looking guy. He’s got dreadlocks, wears eye makeup and a kind of old-style army uniform — slightly Sgt. Pepper — and he has a bit of an Ulster brogue. “Songs From the Deep Forest” (V2) is a lovely album. Americans might refer to his music as vaudevillian; we would say it’s got a musical twist. He writes beautiful songs, mostly love songs, which he sings in a plaintive voice. He’s a bit like an Irish Rufus Wainwright; he’s got that sort of vibe. He has that sense of drama, except he’s not quite as fey as Rufus, he’s a little bit more up close and personal. Being a songwriter, I get sucked into the lyrics first. The song “Portrait” makes my son and me want to hoof around the kitchen, Gene Kelly style.

Read the rest of the article here

Go to Duke Special's website

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

MUSE - H.A.A.R.P. review

Please welcome a new contributor to the blog.

Paul Campbell is casting his critical ear over the music world's offering from now on. Paul has had a flourishing musical career with northern Irish band The Smiles. To start with, he's been listening to to Muse.

Muse – HAARP

(Warner Brothers)


Nine years, five albums and twenty singles into their career, you would forgive Muse for releasing a greatest hits compilation. Save for a mighty splash of crowd noise, the mandatory four drumstick clicks prior to each song, and the occasional post-cheer ‘thank you’ from the electric-eelesque Matt Bellamy this live CD sounds much like a Muse Best Of. To their credit – and discredit – Muse have reproduced the spirit and sound of their records onstage.

A great band playing great songs makes for a great record, but not a great live record. Sure, Muse are pitch, note and beat perfect, but they don’t embellish on their music to present it in a radical new light. The great live albums show us a side of a band we would never hear on their records. Nirvana’s Unplugged in New York gave us Kurt Cobain singing Leadbelly in a cardigan. And more recently and locally The Frames’ Set List offered Glen Hansard singing Bob Marley and telling a story about an old (dfor) dog and a white car.

The DVD is a different animal altogether. Sure, it still sounds like a Muse mixtape playing in your car stereo while a few people shout in the back seat, but the added visual component transforms the show into a spectacle. New Wembley looks immense; the crowd – all 70,000 of them – look mid-orgasm throughout; the stage is mammoth; the lights are mesmerizing and spellbinding; and the band look composed, and more than anything, at home.

The paramount bonus of the DVD format is that it allows you to see the band play. It seems unlikely, but you need to witness Matt Bellamy play guitar and piano with your eyes to appreciate the complexity of his compositions. The bass sounds meaty and driving on the record, but only when you watch Dominic Howard play do you recognise the enormity of his influence on Muse’s masterpieces. It’s the same with the drumming; the fills may burst out of the stereo, but when you see them in close-up during ‘Invincible’ you half expect the old Twin Towers to reform from rubble and come marching down Wembley Way.

If the release of HAARP says anything about Muse it is this: they make intricate and dominating music and can reproduce it with astonishing panache onstage. The whole Muse live experience cannot be contained on a live CD, and to be realistic you’re not likely to get it while watching a DVD in your lounge. If you want to experience Muse live, go see them play. HAARP will only ever be a poor man’s substitute.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Andrew Bird - How to write a song and other mysteries

Andrew Bird recently wrote a column in the New York Times about writing songs.

Words Will Tell

By Andrew Bird

In about a week I will load up my car with amplifiers and guitars and drive to Nashville to begin recording my next record. I don’t drive much anymore and I’m glad for that except that I used to write a lot while on the road. Solitude, boredom, and the desperate need to entertain oneself are ideal stimuli for songwriting.

I’ve spent most of the last year inside a tour bus. I’ve spoken more words to journalists than I have to my friends and family. All of this has kept me from what I realize now is my job, and that’s to daydream. Now I bring my bike on tour and ride every day. Wandering in an unfamiliar town, the rhythm of walking or riding and a few hours to kill is nearly the perfect recipe for a new idea.

Read the rest of the article here

Thursday, April 03, 2008

R.E.M. - Accellerate review

All week I've been walking around with “Accelerate”, in my ears. I love a new REM record and it was with considerable anticipation that I hit the play button.

I should probably start by saying that I was one of the only people I know who liked "Around The Sun". I also think "Reveal" is a great album, although truth be told, I don't listen to either much anymore. Except for “Imitation of Life” that is.

In short, I really like Accelerate. It's a good record.

But then you have to ask the question, is it a good REM record? That is a more difficult question. It's easily one of the best records I've heard this year, but this is the band that made "Out Of Time", "Automatic For The People" and "Document". That's not even to mention their wonderful list of singles.

Despite their past conquests, it's is accepted opinion that the last few REM records, really since Bill Berry left, haven't been up to much. While some of us might disagree, the album sales are falling. So REM decided that they needed to either make a great record, or call it a day.

To do this they've drafted in Jacknife Lee, the man who proved that U2 still know how to rock on "How To Dismantle An Atom Bomb". It was a huge success, so can he work his magic with REM?

His formula seems simple - stop Michael Stipe from singing his long ballads and let Peter Buck rip with short direct songs. The first thing that strikes the listener is the guitar. The first six songs feature guitars not seen since "Monster". Mike Mills is right behind with his brilliant bass lanes and backing vocals. "Living Well Is The Best Revenge" is the staccato, 3 minute, punky opener. With it REM set out their stall - this is a comeback record.

Things really get going on "Man Sized Wreath", a 2 minute distorted guitar song with a great chorus. Then before you know it you're at "Supernatural Superserious" the first single and best track on the album. I've had it on repeat for days. 3 minutes and it too is gone.

The next track, "Hollow Man" is a real belter. Stipe confronts his elusive enigmatic nature head on when he sings "I've been lost inside my head/echoes fall on me/I took the prize last night for complicatedness". But then the band let rip with the best chorus on the album.

In fact, the 3 songs leading up to Hollow Man are perhaps the best sequence REM have done since "Everybody Hurts" and "Sidewinder Sleeps" on Automatic for the People.

The second half of the album then begins with Houston, a song about Hurricane Katrina. From there we're on more familiar REM territory, with several songs sounding like outtakes from the "Out of Time" sessions, and more sounding like the IRS years.

It would be easy to say REM are trying to rekindle their early album roots, but it's more than that. REM are putting together everything they have learned over the years, stopped experimenting and made a direct record.

At 35 minutes, it’s over far too soon. Then again, like me you can always hit the repeat button.

Rating: 8/10

Read the TIME magazine piece on REM Finding Their Religion here.