Thursday, 26 March 2009

A Beginners Guide to Acoustic/Solo

This is another genre my Dad can take credit for me now enjoying so much, he has put the grumpy man with a guitar into my ears from an early age. Unlike him the artists I choose to listen to often come out of bands either as a side project or after the split of the band.

I particularly love the surprise element of artists who have come from this background . Most notably the difference between Lightspeed Champion and Test Icicles or Frank Turner and Million Dead is astonishing. Both have gone from making heavy music with shouty vocals to breathtaking beauty. Other fine examples of the element of surprise have been Albert Hammond Jr. and The Nightwatchman(Tom Morrello) both guitarists who came out with a solo record proving not only they can sing but they can also write a great record.

The inclusion of acoustic allows for a wider track selection including one of the tracks from the fantastic acoustic part of the most recent Hot Club De Paris and the incredible Rodrigo Y Gabriella who if you ever get the chance to see live you should. The fact they can make the level and depth in sound they do using only an acoustic guitar each is truly amazing.

This is a genre where more than one CD could be put together, there are some great artists that didn’t make it onto the CD but are more than worth a listen for example Babar Luck, Liam O’Kane, Jim Lockey, Matt Reynolds and Robb Blake.

Obviously as with the previous lists history plays an important part in the genre it would be a crime to not include Lou Reed or Iggy Pop and strong arguments could (and should) be made for Elvis, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and even Bob Marley fortunately there will be enough time for me to add them to the mix in due course.

Although I find the history of musical genres fascinating and important the solo scene is currently growing stronger than it has been for a long time so if there is one genre to get my sister into this is the one. The key artists included are:

Lou Reed
Iggy Pop
Moldy Peaches
Jeff Buckley
Lightspeed Champion
Ben Folds
Bright Eyes
King Django
Vic Ruggiero
Albert Hamond Jr.
Justin Sane
Badly Drawn Boy

Friday, 13 March 2009

Vic Ruggiero Bootlegs

Just a quick note to point you in the direction of Vic's website, his blogs are a good read and the discograpghy is huge and full of suprises. You should check out the bootlegs section which includes free downloads of live performances the 2 currently up (Dead in Brooklyn and Volume One Live Europe) are really good.

Check out the bootlegs here

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

A Beginners Guide To Indie

Indie music is a non-genre as it seems to include anything that is popular without being a boy/girl band or fitting into R&B, Hip Hop, Dance, Rock or Metal. Indie music seems to be defined by appearing in NME or being played on the radio. The genre doesn’t exist in the USA (it’s called Alt Rock or similar) but American bands fit the UK definition so get branded when they come over here.

This is the music my sister currently listens to, mainly because this is the genre that describes the taste in music my Dad now has. She particularly likes the Ting Tings and Razorlight’s bland take on the genre. I would like to show her there is more to Indie than that style and with any luck she can see them as an influence which helped her get into better music.

I’m sure part of the reason I dislike the popular Indie sound is down to my love of independent music. In my opinion there are far better bands not enjoying the success they deserve. With this in mind I will be including my favorite Indie bands that inspired me when I was younger along with the bands that still inspire me now.

When I was at school/college I listened to a lot of Radio 1 especially John Peel and Steve Lamaq in the evenings. This influenced my taste in music by putting bands like Ash, At The Drive-in, Radiohead, Supergrass, Beastie Boys, The Rapture and The Libertines in front of me. Each artist represents a different style categorized within the Indie Genre.

The current breed of UK Indie has given us some great bands including Hot Club De Paris, The Holloway’s, Dirty Pretty Things, Dead 60’s, Bloc Party, Klaxons, Dustin’s Bar Mitzvah and many more to accompany the bands that originally inspired me. The newer breed of Indie includes so many styles of music that would fit into many different genres, making defining the genre almost impossible.

The USA also has some of the best Indie bands around at the moment all of which have a completely different sound to the UK scene. Bands like The Shins, Strokes, Dandy Warhol’s, Weezer, MGMT, LCD Sound System, Moldy Peaches and Radio 4 are keeping the genre as diverse as it has ever been. The American style often has noticeable comparisons to influential artists such as The Velvet Underground, Stooges, Ramones, Johnny Cash, Bruce Spingsteen and Elvis Costello.

It is hard to have an essential list of artists for a genre that is so diverse with influences from almost every scene that took place before the definition was decided. The list below features as many of the bands that inspired me as a teen and important bands of the current scene. I can leave the early stuff to my Dad who I'm sure already has brought the Smiths, Pixies, Blur, Pulp and Suede to my sister's attention.

Bloc Party
The Shins
Hot Club De Paris
The Strokes
White Stripes
Flaming Lips
Rival Schools
Shout Out Louds

A Beginers Guide To Punk

I totally agree with the popular opinion that punk died in the eighties when bands like The Exploited and GBH took the torch. The death of punk was the birth of every great sub genre that now exists, making punk as diverse as it now is.

Again the history of punk is very important as was the case with the last post about Ska. The start of the punk scene is something that will always be debated were The New York Dolls responsible for the birth or was it the Stooges, MC5, Ramones or even the Velvet Underground. I personally do not like the NY Dolls or MC5 so will be leaving them out and sticking with the other three. The UK scene is far less debated with the Sex Pistols, Clash, Undertones, Buzzcocks, Sham 69 and Stranglers all pioneers of the genre.

As the scene developed further the 80’s style seemed to kill off the genre as it sounded in the 70’s. Bands like the Misfits, Bad Brains, Joy Division, David Bowie and The Velvet Under Ground breathed new life into punk taking it to new levels and creating new genres. These styles were followed up by the birth of the sounds now classified as punk The Decedents opened the doors for NOFX, Rancid, Greenday and Bad religion to create Pop Punk and Skate Punk.

The hardcore scene also evolved into a more melodic style through Hüsker Dü, Satanic Surfers and Strike Anywhere. The melodic hardcore and pop punk scenes also combined to become Emo which in turn has a long list of sub genres.

The current 2nd generation Melodic Hardcore coming out of the ashes of Satanic Surfers in the form of the Enemy Alliance and Indecision Alarm is going further towards the punk sound and slightly away from the melodic style. This Is A Standoff have also developed in style after the break up of The Belvedere taking a step towards Hardcore. The retro sound currently being carried by The Gaslight Anthem and Zatopeks is yet to be given a name but with the success both have achieved it won’t be long before they are fronting a scene of there own

The Punk genre has spilt off into so many sub-genres you could almost connect it to every type of music released after 1976 and most music before will have a connection if you look hard enough. With this in mind the essential bands to offer inspiration have to be:

The Stooges
Velvet Underground
Sex Pistols
Satanic Surfers
No Use For A Name
Captain Everything
Mr Zippy
The Bronx
At The Drive-In
Enemy Alliance
Indecision Alarm
Gogol Bordello
Gaslight Anthem

Thursday, 5 March 2009

A Beginers Guide To Ska

I personally think Ska is one of the most important of all music genres (partially because I love it). As a genre it is completely multi-cultural and responsible for a change in mindsets within music. Ska has developed over the past 30 years moving from the slow reggae style of the Skatalites and other Jamaican Ska bands, to the Specials, Bad Manners and Madness who were at the fore front of the UK scene in the 70’s and 80’s, to The Mighty Mighty Bosstones developed the Skacore/Ska Punk sound paving the way for the next generation of Less Than Jake, Rancid and Mad Caddies in the USA and Capdown, Adequate 7, Howards Alias in the UK.

As far as looking into Ska with an eleven year old girl in mind there are 2 bands that were essential in my love of Ska Less Than Jake and The Specials. Both are fantastic bands and offer very different styles but will ultimately inspire the listener.

To accompany this playlist I’m also going to make a copy Ska Is Dead from Household Name Records which is a sampler that covers all the bases. Unfortunately some tracks will have to be substituted as I do not want to face the wrath of my Mum when she hears bad language coming out of my sisters room (or mouth).

As mentioned the play list will start at the beginning and work from there although not everything will be in chronological order as each track should move onto the next nicely. The Playlist will include all of the following:

The Toasters
The Specials
The Clash
Mighty Mighty Bostones
Less Than Jake
Mad Caddies
Voodoo Glow Skulls
Streetlight Manifesto
Chris Murray
Howards Alias
Adequate 7
Dead 60’s
Buck O Nine
Sonic Boom Six
Shootin’ Goon
The Pie Tasters

If you want to suggest tracks or artists that should be included please give me a shout.

A Beginners Guide to ….

These next few posts follow on from last week where I mentioned educating my little sister in good music. I am hoping to nurture her into listening to a varied diet of music with as many genres as possible. As an education each genre will start from the beginning and will pretty much become a musical history lesson. If you think I have missed any artists give me a shout and I will get them on the list.

The only thing to remember is my sister is an eleven year old girl so I need to find tracks that are free of swearing and risqué themes. It is safe to say there will be no beginners guide to gansta rap and I’m not sure she is ready for New York hardcore (or any hardcore for that matter) just yet either.

Keep your eyes peeled for the play lists in the next few days.