Monday, 30 November 2015

-Music Videos on my Mind- Dilly Dally's "Candy Mountain"

Toronto four-piece alternative group, Dilly Dally, is going to be huge. They’re going to hit big because they’ve been hyped by the American music press as literally the second coming of serious-minded rock music. They’re young and credible, which means that rosy-eyed Gen X journalists are reminded of their own youths', in turn able to relate to a band channelling a grunge energy hitherto thought amiss. Heck, just watch the music video for Dilly Dally’s new tune Candy Mountain and tell me there’s not some heavy MTV 120 Minutes vibes at play there. 
Dilly Dally’s debut album Sore has scored some of the best reviews across the Atlantic this year. Rolling Stone magazine compares them to Nirvana and The Pixies, arguing that 2016 will be their year. That’s big. 
Such adulation will undoubtedly ire the UK music press, only because that’s the way it works. If they (the US) like it first then that’s uncool, however, if Blighty had identified them as noteworthy from the start then they’d have been praised to seventh heaven. One has never understood this transatlantic tug-of-war twixt our two nations’ cultural tastemakers. 
Let’s just say that Dilly Dally is alright. Nothing revolutionary but nay bad neither. They are just right.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

-Music Videos on my Mind- Man Made's "Bring Some"

Man Made, a new band from Manchester, England, deserve good things to come their way. One says this because Nile Marr, frontman and chief songwriter, comes across as exactly the type of musician you like and feel an affinity with. He spent his teens growing up in the Pacific Northwest of America yet still speaks with an unaffected Mancunian accent. He attests to spending much of is youth trying to figure out how to be cool because it never came easy, even declaring he recruited band member Callum Rodgers because “he looked cool”. Furthermore, Marr isn’t ashamed to say that he wants to make alternative pop music rife with guitars and chord changes, but heavily steeped in pleasing melody. 
Also, Marr is the 24-year-old son of none other than former Smiths’ member Johnny Marr. It ought to be clarified that this familial connection was only brought to this blogger’s attention 6 weeks after first hearing and verily liking Bring Some, which means Man Made is a band that is worthwhile on its own terms and not just because the lead singer’s old man is a UK legend. 
Man Made seem quintessentially British indie, stylistically throwing in reams of ‘70s glam rock and androgynous fashion, yet seeming very much a modern band that appeals to the kids of now. Marr has openly stated that he believes the age of the rock star has “completely gone," though, if it is to remain relevant, then it’ll be bands like Man Made who'll ensure it. 

Monday, 23 November 2015

-Music Videos on my Mind- Car Seat Headrest's "Something Soon"

The title of Car Seat Headrest is a self-contrived moniker of Virginian alternative singer Will Toledo due to the fact his antecedent musical venturing came about as a result of him singing and recording material in the family car. Toledo, an admittedly shy geezer, developed his musical beginnings in his old man’s automobile because it was both warm and private, thus ensuring his parents couldn’t hear his vocals or his highly confessional lyrical meanderings. 
Toledo has been recording since he was a teenager, though he has now issued his first LP through Matador after the label checked out his previous eleven albums that were self-released via Bandcamp. Toledo, though, remains only a sprightly 22-years-old, which means he is at once seasoned (that’s eleven albums so far) yet also fresh enough to the vast majority of listeners that he is understandably considered a new artist. 
Car Seat Headrest now comprises of more band members than just Toledo, and their new album Teens of Style consists of a re-recorded and rearranged material from the singer’s previous three albums. But what registers most strongly is Toledo’s heavy baritone vocals, grounding the music with a signature style and powerful emotional force. It’s hard to ignore.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

The Breakdown of Sandi Thom and the Cruelty of British Culture

Before seeing the video below, you need to put this in context. Sandi Thom is a Scottish singer-songwriter who, at the age of 17, was the youngest student granted a place at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, subsequently signing to RCA in 2006. She then had her single I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair) shoot to No 1 in the UK and her debut album Smile … It Confuses People also landed at to No 1, selling 363,018 copies to date. 
Almost a decade on from such unprecedented success, Thom released this soliloquy on her Facebook page, but then deleted it upon realising such statements of anguish may burn the last vestiges of any remaining bridges.
So there it is: a performer who has gone from relevant to irrelevant within one decade, all the while sticking to a middling formula that has seen progressively depleting fortunes. Thom’s second album The Pink & the Lily sold 20,012 copies since its release in 2008, and then she issued a contract-filling The Best of Sandi Thom compilation that sold 4,583 to date. She got dropped from her label and her last 2013 independently issued Covers Collection managed sales of just 435 copies to date. 
There’s something tearful and tangibly tragic about Thom’s confession to camera, a reminder of the ephemeral nature of pop music and how perilous it is to assume the world owes you a something for having once been germane. 
To this blogger, Thom’s music was always crap. It was a pedestrian affair, symptomatic of a music industry hooked on peddling out rubbish to a culture that has seriously low expectations for what qualifies as quality. Thom made music for people who don’t really like music, but most pop stars operate on such a remit. Most consumers see music as disposable cultural bubble gum, completely innutritious stuff that you chew on while the fleeting flavour immediately satiates, but then spit out in favour of the next sweet taste. 
But it speaks volumes of just how nasty British culture is when we consider that Thom has had a sudden re-emergence in the press because of her emotional online meltdown. It pretty much guarantees the end of her music career and transforms her into overnight tabloid fodder. Britain as a nation embodies a culture that takes absolute delight in uncomfortable schadenfreude. Yet there is a part of our national identity that is totally accepting of this malice, a sentiment shared by all of us which proclaims that what goes up must be cruelly brought down to earth in cringe-inducing humiliation. And then we move on, totally forgetting the victim. 
Sandi Thom’s self-declared “really fucking good” new song is called Earthquake. It’s not my thing, but one shouldn’t kick a fallen pop star when she’s down, especially not while those that once loved her, as in tastemakers and industry types, are delivering the ultimate beating. 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

-Music Videos on my Mind- Dan Croll's "One of Us"

The biggest surprise when listening to Dan Croll’s new single One of Us is that the singer is not an American. In fact, Croll is an Englishman—and not just any Englishman, the geezer is a scouser. He literally is, one of us (as long as you’re from Liverpool, that is). 
To backtrack, the reason why this track surprises is because of its gloriously catchy US indie college radio vibe that harks back to the sounds of Weezer and Sloan; bands that had more relevance to ‘90s pop culture than music of today. The music video even seeks to replicate the aesthetics of MTV back then, intact with 4:3 aspect ratio, fast speed film stock, and bullet time depth enhanced simulation that was all the rage in those days. One of Us is equally homage as  it is a statement of not liking the homogeneity of contemporary pop music. A sentiment that many may echo.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

-Music Videos on my Mind- Bloc Party's "The Love Within"

One is suspicious of any band that comes screaming out of the gates with alternative-minded aplomb, makes an impact and gets success, gets notoriety for having lots of internal feuding, goes on an indefinite hiatus, then remerges years later with discarded original band members that have now been substituted with hitherto unknown replacements. The Smashing Pumpkins do it all the time, and now Bloc Party have done it by adding bassist Justin Harris and drummer Louise Bartle to its repurposed lineup.  
And to see lead singer Kele Okereke appear in the video for The Love Within, while sporting a seemingly affected smile and chipper dance moves, suggests that either the band is pretending to be in a creatively inspired place or is genuinely thriving in its new incarnation. 
Let’s go with the latter because this song is simply brilliant. The precision-edited music video, assembled with utmost consideration of graphic continuity, enjoyably entails consumerist satire while matching it with surreal contemporary modern dance action. Love it, man.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

-Music Videos on my Mind- Misty Miller's "Next To You"

Upon hearing British singer-songwriter Misty Miller’s new song Next To You, one is immediately struck by its throwback qualities. Miller is only 21-years-old, but her sound is that of alternative female artists of the mid-nineties like Justine Frischmann and Miki Berenyi; we’re talking Britpop jaunty-guitar playing matched with an off-kilter vocal harmony that was at one time the very definition of popular music. 
How times have changed because Misty Miller is pretty much the antithesis of what kids now consider good music. In an interview with DJ Goldierocks, Miller talked about her struggles with the current state of the UK music industry, saying: “…I didn’t just want to be like another girl with an acoustic guitar, and that’s what my label really wanted to put me in, and the whole folky scene – that whole Laura Marling thing, all that which I was never into and so I did make sure I just wasn’t categorised as that because it’s not what I do.” 
Next To You is simple yet introspective, telling a familiar tale of a young woman and her difficulties with a similar aged feckless bloke, though at least it’s got edge. Sometimes that’s all it takes to stand out from the crowd. 

Sunday, 1 November 2015

-Music Videos on my Mind- Golden Rules' "It's Over"

It’s the way things work nowadays, Forest Hill in south London-based producer Paul White, who has up to now engineered stuff for Charli XCX, took a professional curiosity in Floridian rapper Eric Biddines’ 2014 album planetcoffeebean2, and took the initiative to post the latter some of his beats to check if the two had any simpatico sonic symbiosis. 
There was, and what resulted is titled Golden Rules, a hip-hop collective issuing introspectively contemplative rhymes anchored with rhythms designed to make people dance. Judging by It’s Over, one concurs they, on this track at least, have produced a rollicking piece that will transcend preconceived limitations that bracket such urban fodder solely to specialist radio stations. It’s Over is way too credible and expertly optimised to be restricted to niche labels, especially here in the UK. It’s Over is a genuine transatlantic success.