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RIP Stuart Cable

June 8th, 2010

Very sad to hear about the death of former Stereophonics drummer Stuart Cable. I’ll be honest straight away, I’ve never been the biggest Stereophonics fan aside from the “Word Gets Around” days.

But I felt I “got to know” Stuart when he began his stint as a Kerrang Radio DJ, when I would actively tune in to hear his show. It had been a long time since I’ve done that with any radio DJ.

So RIP Stuart Cable and a hark back to the good old days…

Vengaboys – Rocket to Uranus

June 8th, 2010

Toot toot! The vengabus is coming everyone, but look! It’s been transformed into a shiney penis-shaped rocket ship!

The Netherlands may have given us sexy football, a relaxed attitude to cannabis and some rather attractive blonde boys, but they failed dismally with their particular brand of 90s europop.

Remember “We’re Going to Ibiza”, “Shalala Lala”, “We Like To Party”? The smiley Dutch funbus never stopped! Well actually it did, in 2001, and the world of pop music was suddenly a better place.

But now, nine years later, we have comeback single “Rocket to Uranus”, featuring Pete Burns and Perez Hilton. No, REALLY.

The video portrays the group flying to your anus (well I might as well say it) through some sort of Mars Attacks influenced universe. Health warning – male genitalia related puns abound.

Need anything else to put you off? Pete Burns pilots the “Fisto 3000″ ship, one of the camp spacemen declares “Uranus is so pretty, it feels like home” and Pete’s head explodes due to his hatred of *cough* happy music *cough*

The video reminds me of a party I went to once, where everyone was forced to look like they were having fun. You know the kind. A themed fancy dress party where everyone walks around with enormous smiles on their faces. Look at us, we’re all dressed up like aliens and having a great time! How much fun is this! Then everyone goes home and cries into their pillows.

If I were the Dutch, I’d stick to playing football. Has anyone told them there’s a World Cup starting this week?

Oh Monday Morning

June 7th, 2010

Inspired by my High Fidelity post, I’m going to treat you all to regular Monday morning songs. Why? Because Monday mornings SUCK, that’s why. We all need something to make us smile on Mondays and nothing has more power to do that than a good old fashioned TUNE.

Kicking things off is possibly the ultimate commentary on a dull hungover day at work. It’s an average song from an average band, but that averageness is what Monday mornings are all about. It just works, okay, so shut up and listen…

That is NOT a snake charmer

June 7th, 2010

Nothing to do with music, but this is the funniest game show clip in the world. Ever.

We Are The World – Clay Stones

June 4th, 2010

Cast your mind back to the release of Owl City’s Ocean Eyes. Journalists were desperate to find something else to say other than “this sounds just like the younger, less talented brother of The Postal Service”. But they couldn’t, because there was, literally, nothing else to say.

Well folks, we’re there again. WE ARE THE WORLD SOUND JUST LIKE THE KNIFE. There, I said it. But there’s an important caveat… comparing We Are The World to the Knife is like saying if you love Cadbury’s chocolate then you’ll love Hershey’s too. As we all know, Cadbury’s silken wonderlust is streets ahead of Hershey’s vomit-like brown slabs. And while Clay Stones shows definite promise, it’s not a patch on Deep Cuts.

But I’m prepared to give this project time. They’ve gone about things in the right way. If you’re going to create an “artist” to rival the Dreijers, then collecting a film composer, choreographer, designer and burlesque dancer together is a bloody good start.

Bearing that in mind, it’s no surprise their artistic live performances have already lit up Los Angeles and SXSW, amongst others. Will you like it? Much depends on how you consume music. If you like your quick fixes and pop hits, your Spotify playlists and your mix-tapes, then almost certainly not. If you’re the type of person who turns the lights down low and gets swept away on a visual adventure in your head, then yes, give this a shot.

Foot Follows Foot opens the album and you could be forgiven for thinking the Moldy Peaches are at the saucepans again as they were with LCD Soundsystem’s This Is Happening. But the track, and album, soon bursts into life, like a lone gunman protecting his castle with an electronic rifle, letting out short, sharp bursts of beats and bleeps. Title track Clay Stones is the standout pop stomper, destined to be remixed for evermore, while Afire conjures up images of seven-headed monsters rampaging through small Scandanavian villages, setting them on fire before stopping for a 100 degree rave.

Think I have an overactive imagination? Just give this album a whirl and see if I’m wrong.

Watch this space.

An Evening of High Fidelity

June 3rd, 2010

Last night I watched my favourite music film, High Fidelity, for the first time in years. I say music film, but it’s actually a romantic comedy, centred on music mad characters. I guess I like it because I see myself in all three of the main characters from Championship Vinyl – Rob (John Cusack), Barry (Jack Black) and Dick (Todd Louiso). I have Rob’s emotional wreck-head tendencies, Barry’s excitability and Dick’s total nerdiness – and all of them in spades. Not to mention their obsession with list making and constant musical references… when Rob’s ex-girlfriend’s dad dies, Barry immediately starts a game of “Top 5 songs about death, a Laura’s dad tribute list”, I don’t find that offensive or inappropriate in the slightest – I find it strangely comforting!

It’s been a long time since I organised my record collection, I have some on shelves, some in my car, some in boxes under my bed and some in cupboards. Some digitised, some not. But that’s my own form of organisation, which only I can understand. Again, strangely comforting.

This film (and book, beforehand) always used to make me want to start my own record store, but these days no longer. Probably due to watching the demise of Spinadisc in Northampton and Plastic Factory and Tempest in Birmingham over the years. But it does still stir an entrepreneurial spirit deep inside. Watching how happy Rob is to start his own label makes me all warm and fuzzy.

So while “Purple Amp Records” is some way off yet, I am going to dabble in creating and producing once more. That warm and fuzzy feeling of creating something will be mine once again.

Oh and yeah, if you’ve never watched it, you’re a dork. Watch it.

Gay Pride vs The Bank Holiday Weekend

June 1st, 2010

This weekend I was dragged kicking and screaming away from Birmingham Gay Pride (stop laughing at the back!) down to Digbeth.

So yeah I popped down to Pride for a few hours on Saturday and really didn’t enjoy myself. To be fair, I wasn’t expecting to, but this year Pride reached new levels of frustration. There was absolutely nothing for me – and most definitely nothing to be proud about. My sexuality is just one aspect of me, and as my life goes on it’s becoming less and less important. My interests in talking to like-minded people, listening and dancing to music I like, not being judged for the fact I dance like a twat, etc, cannot be met on Hurst Street. The scene that best represents me and my diverse interests is the one in and around Digbeth, thanks to places like the Custard Factory and the Rainbow. Sexuality is totally irrelevant, what brings people together is the desire to enjoy something new and something different, not the same thing week after week.

Take the Rainbow on Sunday. In the main pub and associated rooms, two established brands, Gutter Skank and Rag & Bone, came together to throw a bank holiday shindig. Bringing together types of music that don’t normally mix (grime/dubstep/hip-hop in Gutter Skank and indie/alt in Rag & Bone) really mixed up the vibes and the people who were there. It was far from perfect – but made for a far more interesting night than yet another predictable night in a gay bar.

I was chatting to Andrew about Hurst Street yesterday. He said, “it’s just become the Broad Street for gays”. Never before have eight words rung so true!

There used to be a point to Pride. There is at other events I’ve been to, most notably the CSW celebration in Los Angeles. It should be about celebrating the victories of the past and campaigning on what can be achieved in the future. In Birmingham this year there was allegedly a theme of “Equality Through the Decades” although this was hardly central to the weekend’s activities. The community area is stuck on the periphery. For the casual observer, all that Pride consists of is alcohol and Hi-NRG dance music. Pride *should* have a point to it, but it seems to work to negatively reinforce stereotypes, which if anything works against achieving further equality.

Where’s the variety? Where’s the celebration of how gay people actually aren’t any different at all?

I tried to change things once. Many people know me as the creator of Club Distraction, at the time Birmingham’s only gay indie/alternative night. For a while we had some success, a couple of busy nights and something approaching a community. But it didn’t last long. A lot of gay people said things like “why would I go to an indie night, I’m gay” and a lot of gay people into the indie scene said they had more fun at Snobs or the Academy. We were caught in the middle and it became unsustainable. So I jacked it in. Here’s some photos from some of the more memorable nights:

Some good friends of mine are doing their best to get a night called Bad Apple going at Eden Bar. Check it out and offer them your support if you can.

The tortuous world of the football song

June 1st, 2010

Remember the weekend before last when it was really sunny? That’s when I realised how close we are to the World Cup. Because, for the first time this year, my day was interrupted by the worst invention known to man – THE FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT SONG.

The neighbours were outside and thought “Three Lions” followed by “Vindaloo” was a suitable soundtrack to a sunny Sunday BBQ. They were wrong.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against football. I’m a football fan. How else do you explain me previously having a season ticket at Northampton Town!? But what I do object to is god awful money-making songs featuring some washed-up celebrity claiming to “support our boys”.

However, there is the odd exception. The most well known of these being of course, World In Motion by New Order.

The idea of having a respected group make a football song that wasn’t about football was unheard of at the time – and hasn’t really been replicated since. It’s far from perfect – John Barnes rapping still makes my hair curl now – but it’s streets ahead of anything else.

So with just ten days to go until the World Cup kicks off in South Africa, watch the video below, paint your face, and join me in the nearest pub to buy me a pint and shout COME ON ENGLAND!

Win an Ozzy?

June 1st, 2010

Interesting to read in the Birmingham Post that Ozzy Osborne has lent his name to an award on Birmingham City University’s Music Industries degree course.

The “Ozzy” will be awarded to the student who makes the most progress.


Surely an “Ozzy” should be awarded to the student who best epitomises the spirit of ROCK!

How about an award for the most creative use of a road cone?

Casio Kids, Tantrums, Greg Bird @ Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath

May 28th, 2010

A Thursday night trip to Kings Heath is always a pleasure, even if I had to miss tea at the Kitchen Garden Cafe due to a lack of funds. Still, a bowl of cheap noodles later, I was on route to the good old Hare & Hounds with Andrew (whose blog you can read here), Gareth and Brian.

First up were Greg Bird & Flamingo Flame, whom after a quick Google search it seems were born out of the ashes of Brum favourites Sunset Cinema Club. Don’t think you can compare the two though, as Greg Bird has more in common with the Human League, Prince and, well, the 1980’s electro-funk movement in general than Sunset Cinema Club.

The nasty Simarjeet (boooo, hissss) described it as “Ross from Friends playing the keyboard” which was more than a little harsh. WHAT DOES SHE KNOW! (Love you really) The opening track was stargazingly wonderful and although my interest waned slightly through the set, there’s some genuine potential there. Check out Greg Bird for yourself here

Next up were Tantrums who seemed to bring with them the whole of Northfield, crammed into the small room at the H&H. TOO HOT. They were their usual dub-prog-reagge-rock selves, although the addition of Little Palm has improved the vocal aspect of their music immeasurably. Still ones to watch.

How can I describe Casio Kids? I’ll give it my best shot. Imagine a hot summers evening, on a beach, somewhere nice and tropical. Like this:

Got that? Good. Now, imagine a beach BBQ going on around you. I’m not talking some Spring Break crap, but a laid back, midsummers party with people you actually like. Now, imagine the fruit punch served up. Now finally, imagine drinking that fruit punch while listening to some form of alternative electronic music, with beats and bleeps galore. Still with me? THAT’S CASIO KIDS. A beaker of fruit punch, making alternative electronic music, with a smile.

Well worth a fiver!

Oh and check out Casio Kids’ mix for promoters This Is Tmrw here.

And as you’re so wonderful, here’s a video, too!