Good shiz in 2009

December 23, 2009 at 1:43 pm (Uncategorized)

It’s actually been a fucking great year for music, but sadly it’s sort of passed me by. I dunno, it’s a lot harder for me to be blown away by something these days, and I just didn’t feel the need to check out as much music. The first 6 months of the year, so much of my energy went into Keeping Scores it was almost like I was avoiding other music so I could focus on my own songwriting, or focus on finding other smaller/DIY bands to book shows with and that. Plus, working in the pop side of the industry and having friends working in the industry meant that I often seeked solace away from music. Working in this business can worryingly damage one’s enthusiasm for it at times.

However, it’s been a good year so it would be rude not to look at albums I really enjoyed.

What Rocked in 2009

Converge – ‘Axe To Fall’

In my opinion, their finest release. One the die hards may disagree, but for me my love of Converge was more them as a band on the whole, rather than a particular release. ‘Jane Doe’ was probably my favourite before but only just – there was never a clear standout until this came along. Maybe the added metal element (it sounds like they’ve listened to a LOT of Mastodon) makes it that much more face-melting and much more memorable. I never thought I’d hear myself humming Converge songs to myself but I actually do now, ‘Dark Horse’ is just face-meltingly brilliant!

The Dangerous Summer ‘Reach For The Sun’

It’s really nothing massively new – simple, catchy pop rock songs. Very similar to The Starting Line, but with darker lyrical content and a bit more of an emo element but still sounding BIG. It’s pretty much right up my street, but because so many bands lately have failed miserably at it I guess it makes this seem all the more triumphant. It’s just a lot more honest, real and genuine than a lot of their contemporaries. I hope they come to the UK soon.

Make Do and Mend – ‘Bodies Of Water’

I’m not sure if it counts as an album, but the record is 12″ and it’s just so good that I’m including it anyway. I love my somewhat sensitive 90s inspired emo but some of the latter 2000s bands can be a bit TOO sugary (The Panic Division for example) and the likes of Make Do And Mend have this but with a bit of an element of hardcore and gruff to truly revive the sound Renee Heartfelt and Grade were so good at. Bit of an epic feel about it, perfect for nighttime driving.

Coalesce – ‘ox’

It’s actually the best Coalesce record yet. Seeing as they’re pretty much the finest heavy band there is, it’s inevitably going to be one of the year’s strongest albums. The production is meaty as hell, and sounds very crisp but NOT overproduced. One of the only things I felt held Coalesce back was the quality of the recordings. Don’t get me wrong, I like raw and organic sounding stuff, but seriously brutal music can benefit from an added bit of punch to the production, which this has, making it one of the finest hardcore releases in years.

Our Time Down Here – ‘Live, Love, Let, Go’

It’s great when a band you’re close friends with make amazing music too. Perhaps consequently there’s an element of bias here but it’s just with so much bullshit in hardcore, be it overly macho brainless tough guy bollocks or the whole ‘ooh I’m so trendy with my boat shoes, Rough Trade bag and stripey V-neck with cringeworthy chest tattoo’ shite…it makes OTDH all the more necessary. Definitely the ones to take over from The Steal as the torchbearers for good, honest and meaningful UK hardcore with a good message behind it. The more singalong-y Shook Ones like choruses gave them that added appeal. Great album.

Title Fight – ‘The Last Thing You Forget’

Pop-punk hit a bit of a stumbling block in 08 at times with loads of girly mincy haircut bands still ruling the roost, and the alternative was bands with hardcore elements and beatdowns and that. At first it was fun..but then more and more AND MORE bands came along with the same verse-chorus-DROP D CHUG-CHUG formula and it got SO tiresome. Title Fight are among a string of new bands going back to simply being fast, melodic and fun and gimmick free. Think early Saves The Day. It’s very good stuff.

Loma Prieta – ‘Dark Mountain’

There hasn’t been too much great screamo in 2009 in my opinion, and some releases from very strong bands have not really lived up to what I was hoping for. But this band always impress, blending the skramz with post-rock and creating something very powerful indeed. Not quite up to Envy’s standards but still very, very good indeed.

Some other cracking treats

The Hope Conspiracy – ‘true nihilist’ – Only an EP, but stunning. 3 of the best songs all year.

Narrows – ‘New Distances’ – Didn’t quite live up to the teaser EP, and it is Botch lite in a sense, but it’s still ten times better than most modern metallic hardcore.

Polar Bear Club – ‘Chasing Hamburg’ – MASSIVE improvement on a fairly dull predecessor. Much rockier and ballsier. Solid melodic punk

Half Hearted Hero – ‘Defining Redefining’ – Fast, technical & emotive pop-punk.with the instrumental skills of Rufio and the vocal and lyrical content a la Valencia. Perfect mix of balls and melody.

Alexisonfire ‘Old Crows Young Cardinals’ – Still think they’re a bit overrated, but less Dallas & more George meant a big improvement

Afi – ‘crash love’ – Ignore it’s Afi for a second and stop wishing for the old days and what you get is a great stadium rock album.

Cartel – ‘cycles’ – Fantastic return to form from a great pop rock band. Nothing more, nothing less. Love It

Propagandhi – ‘supporting caste’ – Band that constantly deliver.

Defeater – ‘lost ground’ – Didn’t quite see the hype behind this band. Until I heard this. Exceptional improvement that justifies their tag as one of the most exciting new modern hardcore bands in existence.

Strike Anywhere – ‘Iron Front’ – A HUGE HUGE improvement on the disappointing ‘Dead FM’

Backstreet Boys ‘this is us’ – back to the hits. Great return

Rise & Fall – ‘Our Circle Is Vicious’ – Brutality

The Swellers – ‘Ups and Downsizing’ – Going to be BIG in 2010

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Why I love being in a hardcore band

December 18, 2009 at 3:15 pm (Musical, Musings on life)

Lots happenin’ since the last uppy d’s….

So Tuesday 8th was the ‘comeback’ gig for Keeping Scores – our first show for 6 months after taking a much needed break, playing the Purple Turtle in Camden with Ruiner, TRC, Our Time Down Here & Santa Karla. It really couldn’t have gone much better, which was such a relief. We were offered the show when still sorta newly active and we weren’t sure how ready we’d be what with all but Mike going on holiday at different points leading up to the show. But the line-up was too good to turn down and we decided to take the risk….and in the end played a decent set to a virtually full room and won over many new friends. Couldn’t have gone much better!

But the main point of this post was more about how great the overall evening was regardless of the quality of our performance, and just how it reminded me how much fun it is being in a DIY hardcore band. The vibe was just perfect, and when you consider how different us &OTDH sound compared to Ruiner, TRC and Santa Karla, you’ve got 5 completely different sounding bands there and yet everyone was polite and watched all the bands and remained open minded, something I feared wouldn’t happen. Everyone – bands and crowd, were commenting on how good this was and Liam did truly pull a fantastic show out of the bag.

POST-EDIT

I then went on to have a bit of a rant about how much I love the DIY culture that’s in punk/hardcore/emo and that for me
the fun for this show was getting to hang with close friends in OTDH, share a stage with a band who are big inspiration, make new friends with the other bands and audience members – blah blah blah.

I then rambled on about bands from the other side of the coin – pop-rock/punk and indie bands who have their hearts set on ‘making it’ and how I personally couldn’t enjoy being part of that. However, I had this saved in my draftbox for ages as I couldn’t find a way of expressing this without it coming across as horribly smug and preachy.

I then went on to discuss the things that are a bit problematic to the hardcore/punk scene – dishonest, trendhopping bands, kids who follow a particular dress code and wear t shirts of bands that they don’t bother to watch when they actually play their city etc etc. It was similarly cheesy and cringe-worthy, so I deleted it. However I still wanted to reference these thoughts here.

The point of it was not intended to be all preachy and that, it was simply to express how whilst I don’t believe my band are the dogs bollocks, amazing musicians or anything, I’m quite proud of the fact that we’re 100% honest and overall promote a good, posi vibe. I just couldn’t find a way of expressing this without sounding like a bit of a twat.

It would be nice if more of these afformentioned kids actually recieved this message, and MUCH more importantly listened some of our superior peers who make incredible, bullshit free music, as well as bands who influenced us, in the hope that they may rediscover the good points about hardcore, or something. So I’m really hoping we play some more shows, meet new people, and take the band to the next level in 2010. For those reasons, rather than selfish ones.

ANYHOO, PICS.

Love this one. It looks quite intense.

I always look like a total bellend in live shots but this is fairly decent.

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POP MUSIC IS BRILLIANT PART DEUX

December 7, 2009 at 10:51 pm (Lulz, Musical)

Added to the slices of pop gems mentioned below, I felt the need to post these two videos for entirely different reasons

Lostprophets – ‘where we belong’

Wow. I want to hate Lostprophets so bad – Watkins comes across as a smug, arrogant cunt, they’re filthy rich, can have poon on tap and the whole consumerist bling bling image thing they give off is totally against the spirit of punk rock and hardcore…

The thing is, (and I don’t mean to namedrop here) having met Watkins during the whole Flash! Flash! Flash! Photography roller coaster thing…the dude’s simply a complete legend. Sure, he’s a bit cocky, but the guy literally can do whatever he wants simply because he’s Ian Watkins. Consequently he does some pretty rad things like take a bunch of normal dudes from London and let them support them on various shows, letting them bring mates like myself along for the ride, as opposed to simply fuck underage girls backstage.

And, most importantly, the band (there’s 6 of them remember) can write some FANTASTIC songs. ‘It’s Not The End Of The World…’ was terrible. Utter shite. This, is not. This is good, nay brilliant, nay outstanding. One of the best songs I’ve heard this year and when it’s released will probably be one of the best singles of 2010. It contains one of the best rock choruses I’ve heard in years and is the best pop/rock song of that sort since FFAF’s ‘Into Oblivion’ which is a masterpiece.

If Lossy P’s can write an album full of hits like that, it’ll be a genius. Balls to returning to the older metal with the DJ and wierd hip-hop inspired interludes, STADIUM ROCK like this song is much better

R Kelly – ‘Pregnant’

Words fail me. Seriously, the dude is such a genius. Highlights include

– “knock you up” as the little backing vocal”
– “until I met this girl in a club with an unbelievable booty, the sweetest girl in the world to me and on toppa that she’s a cutie…”
– “but I keep seeing this big old house with a pickett fence and a daaaawwwg’
– “So put that girl in the kitchen”
– “I just wanna put somethin’ in you”

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POP MUSIC IS BRILLIANT

December 6, 2009 at 2:58 pm (Uncategorized)

Pretty chilled Saturday night of boozing avec Mike, Pooke and Miniberry but the highlight involved discussing how fucking awesome pop music has been in 2009, cos let’s face it it has been brilliant.

I’ve got my list of best ‘proper’ releases for this year (albeit not as comprehensive as my Albums of the Decade thing) but what I’ll mostly remember 09 for is just how many wicked pop releases there were …either for comedy value or just genuine awesomeness! Here’s some of the finest.

Jason Derulo – ‘Whatcha Say’

The best pop song of the year. Brilliant.

Kei$ha – ‘Tik Tok’

She’s a bit of a babe and loves getting absolutely smashed – what’s not to like? Add an incredible amount of autotune and we’re onto a winner. Will be HUGE in 2010.

N-Dubz – ‘Playing With Fire’

You either get N-Dubz or you don’t. It took me a while but I’m there. Dappy’s appearance on Never Mind The Buzzcocks probably helped. And the girl is blates utter filth…

Backstreet Boys – ‘Straight Through My Heart’

What a spectacular return to form from the finest boyband to date.

Cascada – ‘Evacuate The Dancefloor’

The number of times myself and a bunch of dudes in their 20s mostly involved in the DIY punk scene start singing and dancing with girly voices along to this song when we see it on ‘The Hits’ is worrying.

50 Cent – ‘Baby By Me’

Two reasons 1) Ne-Yo is the man 2) 50 Cent in a grandad jumper = the greatest image ever.

Justin Bieber – ‘One Time’

This is ridiculous – it’s Lil Chris becoming EVEN YOUNGER and getting all r&b sensation on us! The actual song is actually damn catchy as well, and the fact that he refers to his lady as ‘shortie’ is just fantastic.

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