Wednesday 7 April 2010

Matthew's Thought Of The Day

I know I've been negligent. Please allow me to repent in part by sharing my thoughts.

When a band enters a studio for an indefinite period of time, how long is too long? When should we drag them kicking and screaming from the production desks and vocal booths to demand our unfinished album? Perfection is an indulgence which is endemic to our artistic community. I do not say this disparagingly, I say it with the sympathetic authority that only comes through experience. Years have been wasted whilst I toiled away on an analogue multi-tracker, polishing an album that, contrary to my delusional self-belief, was not going to change the world. The truth is, most musicians simply cannot refrain from re-writing, mixing and fine-tuning their creations. In so doing, they fall into that obvious trap: nit-picking. Nitpicking must be the most deadly ailment that a songwriter can be struck down with. It replaces natural inspiration with sterile mechanics. By tediously reworking our material, we cut out the heart of our music.

Never will we be able to completely rid ourselves of this tendency, which looms over us like a hungry spectre, devouring our musical brilliance. Perhaps however, in becoming aware of its continual presence, we can try to salvage some of the magic

Tuesday 16 February 2010

I Am Losing My Edge

I believe it was Montaigne who said that one should study more to understand that they know little. The same wisdom could be applied to music fans. Attempting to keep abreast of musical trends is utterly futile. The more diligently one dedicates them self to the scholarship of contemporary music, the more one feels woefully inadequate.

If you are presently embarking on this reckless quest for musical enlightenment, it is necessary to understand a few home-truths. Please permit me to highlight the most common foibles associated with pop fanaticism. Most of all, do not be duped into believing the hype!

Before you even begin to grasp the technicalities of the pop landscape there is a lexicon of specialised jargon with which to familiarise yourself. It is easy to become entangled in the various genre tags that musos employ with relish; from Disco Lento to Gamelan Salendro, from Afrobeat to Big Beat, one must master an alien dialect that makes Cantonese seem like Pig Latin. My advice is not to allow others to bamboozle you with such terminology. Ultimately, artists abhor being pigeon-holed as much as their fans resent being patronised with elitist vocabulary.

The next spectre to overcome is the music press. These playground bullies have terrorised budding music enthusiasts for too long. Enough is enough. Some higher authority should physically reprimand these thugs. Perusing Artrocker or any other fanzine – not to mention the blogosphere - is like being told that you are nothing more than a worthless ignoramus. Whatever insights you might harbour will be immediately shattered by the polemic monologues of small men with even smaller thingys. These petulant journalists pour scorn on acid-jazz, ridicule harmonica players, and openly laugh at fans of Phil Collins. They will always know more than you!

Of course, it wasn’t always like this. In days gone by, owning 200 cherished records was akin to housing the rock equivalent of the Great Library of Alexandria. Today, that figure would barely fill a 4gb Nano. The fact that the largest mass-produced mp3 player can now store over 2 months of continuous music is even more telling. Who, I ask you, has the time?

Moreover, it should be noted that over 8 million artists are currently signed up to myspace. To give this some kind of perspective, if I were to listen to fifty new bands everyday for a century I would not have visited even one quarter of these profiles.

Enjoy music. Enjoy researching music. But do not, for one moment, think you have grasped the essence of music. It is too vast, too various, and infinitely more valuable than we mortals can fathom.

Monday 25 January 2010

Jabberwocky Pops: Chapter 2

Beach House – Norway
This song is quicker and more instantly uplifting than the band’s previous efforts. If you haven’t already been seduced by their sun-drenched harmonies then take advantage of the free download on their official website.

Le Sherifs – Errors
I have not experienced the kind of cold emotion unleashed by ‘Errors’ since first hearing ‘Dummy’ by Portishead in 1994. Adam Le Sherif hails from Egypt but is already making an impression on the British Music Scene. Click on the link below to find out why.
Hot Chip – One Life Stand
Hot Chip’s third album of the same name is about to enjoy a meteoritic rise through our charts. The band have smugly claimed that there are at least 5 anthems in the vein of ‘Over and Over’ on the new album. If this track acts as a yardstick for the rest of the album then there may be some substance in Hot Chip’s cocksure assertions.
Monarchy – Gold In The Fire
Newly singed to hotter-than-thou label, Neon Gold, Monarchy are set to leap into the public consciousness. An underbelly of electro-pop is complimented by smooth vocal delivery. It would be lazy to tag them as the British Cut Copy but that is exactly what I’ve just done. Interested?
Emalkay – When I Look At You
Dub is a musical treat that I allow myself all too rarely. This is partially because, were I to perpetually delight in head-bending bass and relentless beats, I would go clinically insane. In moments of mischievious weakness I am presently sweating to this.

Wednesday 6 January 2010

All Hail the Year of Androgyny

2009 was the year of the female. It was impossible to glance at the centrefold of some indie publication without being blinded by the latest electro feline wearing iridescent leggings and lashings of lipstick. Florence, Metric, and La Roux – to name but a few – had every man in Britain, regardless of sexual orientation, scratching their thighs in restless agitation. The only thing more dangerous than a lip-syncing yet irresistible Sugarbabe is a babe with talent.

Thank goodness therefore that, whilst the likes of Ellie Goulding and Marina and the Diamonds will continue to ignite our carnal desires, 2010 promises to restore the sexual balance. In fact, we don’t even need to fear a monkey-rock backlash now that the Gallagher brothers have disbanded. I predict that the forthcoming year will be one of blurred sexual distinctions, of shameless he/she-ism, of androgyny.

Shrewd observers will have noted that the fashion world is already wise to the imminent perversion of traditional gender classifications. As I scanned the catwalks for this year’s trends, I was left thinking, “Is it a girl? Is it a boy? Oh dear, I’m not really sure what ‘it’ is but I like what I’m seeing!”

If you don’t believe me I recommend that you investigate ‘Hurts’. The name alone is so self-consciously pathetic that it is almost endearing. These Mark Almond look-alikes appear to have blended a Euro-Trash aesthetic with an effeminate sensibility. I say ‘appear’ because the Mancunian duo have been so secretive that garnering clues into their history makes the puzzle of a woman’s mind seem like child’s play. They may not exactly be David Bowie but 'Hurts' will certainly provide a suitable counterpoise to their female peers without resorting to the sort of cock-rock commonly associated with the Towers of London and other antediluvian sex-pests.