Monday, 25 March 2019

The Spirit Of Radio

This is the first of a series of articles under a general heading of "Where Are We Now". These will cover the Music scene over topics such as Promoters, Labels, Promotion, Retail etc and I start with Radio. My opinion is no more valid than others. Agree or disagree, I have just had a real frustration with these topics and if it's only to get this off my chest, then so be it.

The internet is to be congratulated and blamed for everything. For every sigh at the demise of Record Shops, CD, DVD and much more, there is a hurrah for the ability to access most music, converse with people and fellow fans and discover new music. There has also to be recognition that Youth generally drives most things and that they are never going to be as motivated about albums as generations before. They have instant access to whatever they want to listen to via Spotify and You Tube.

There are contradictions of course. The excitement of Vinyl and Cassette are surprising and probably this year's hot pants, just as it's bizarre to see people bemoaning the range in HMV and yet continually arguing that they shouldn't participate in record Store Day. But the point of Youth driving tastes and society changes is very relevant concerning Radio. Gone are the days of MW, FM or even DAB dictating anything. The Radio was a staple at work, now it's just as likely to be someone's Spotify Playlist.

So as Radio has become something that just may be listened to in the Car, so different ways of hearing music that we wouldn't normally listen to are available and the rise of Internet Radio and Related Podcasts is as good as it is bad. Getting played on "Radio" still means a lot to bands, but Internet Radio isn't the same thing, it doesn't have the same impact. An artist or band should equate the airplay to how it is affecting Sales.

Don't get me wrong, there are some fantastic Labour Of Love stations that truly believe in what they listen to and I'd like to think that IDHAS is one of those. There are some fantastic Internet Radio Shows. Take Psych for instance, a genre that may leave people cold, there is a Peel like quality to many of the shows on the net, you hear something that is a cacophany followed by something that is so melodic that it could be Radio 2. The important thing is that you hear something you like and that encourages you to buy or look further into the artist.

However, there is unfortunately a great deal of deception and a buyer beware sign across others. If I look at IDHAS, I listen to a lot of stuff, some sent to me, others recommended by other Bloggers and Journalists. My policy is that if I like it, I review it or play it, if I don't I ignore it. I get a lot of emails from both PR companies and Pluggers. Most I don't like, but I do listen to it all and I realise that the people who sent the email or song are working for an artist who has paid them to do that and that's absolutely fine. They are doing what the artist wants and sending their songs to people who might genuinely be interested.

There are also plenty of great PR people, the best of which know what you cover and know that there is a chance that you'll like it. Those people are a god send to artists, because they know their audience. I'm thinking of people like Shauna McLarnon, Billy James and Robert Vickers. There is also stuff that arrives from cut and paste pluggers that is just laughable. When have you heard Hip Hop or House on an IDHAS Show?

It's this plugging that is ruining what should be a joyous Internet Radio experience. The ability to listen to a show that might make you discover ten artists is something to treasure, but too many stations are not that. I have often thought that the best way to direct people to music that they may like is to form a Radio collaboration or collective. Listeners could go to that station at any time of day and know that they'd find something to listen to that they'd like. The reputation of the collective may grow and allow one or two of the presenters to break out into something more mainstream.

The problem with this idea it's that it is being ruined by Alliances that are doing this under false pretences. Part of that problem is the term "Indie". It covers too much, mainly everything that probably has a guitar on it and isn't on a major label, therefore virtually everything. These Alliances produce Charts that have no similarity to anything else on the internet, so how are they decided? My concern is that these are dictated by Pluggers and I know in some cases that the Pluggers own the stations.

An artist pays them to promote their single and they go back to the artist and say you've had 600 plays this week. You can bet that this is probably 30 plays on 20 stations all in with the same plugger. The artist gets no value for the money, they are led into a misconception that they are on the radio and getting popularity, yet this is relating to no sales. You might as well spend the money down the Pub. This is yet another example of the only people making money from the Independent scene are not musicians.

Then there are these ridiculous charts. You can spot them a mile off. They have a weekly Top 40 of artists that appear on similar related charts. Most of the artists are artists that I have never heard of or have and they haven't impressed. That's not saying that I am the arbiter of taste. I listen and review lots of different styles of music, but I'm known for Power Pop and Pop Rock. I know at least a dozen writers and DJ's from a similar field and know that they have never heard of these artists either. I know one band that few rate that appear on every one of these type of charts.

I know that when I produce an IDHAS show or write about an album that listeners may not have heard of the band, it's what I do. But I also know that the majority of these dozen people will have heard from them and we feed off one another. This isn't a bitch at anyone in particular, it's a frustration. However I would advise any artist to ask serious questions about any person or company who tells them they will get a lot of Radio Play. Ask how many copies of the single will it sell me and base your decision on that.

There is definitely a place for like minded Internet Stations, indeed I am about to join one at Woody Radio. But there are also a lot of charlatans. Video may have killed the Radio Star, but Plugging and Self Interest is killing Internet Radio and ensuring that Spotify get all the money. It's like Payola never went away.

This series about will continue next time with an article about Gigs. Another example where the musician doesn't get the money, but the Promoter does.


Sunday, 24 March 2019

I Don't Hear A Single Volume 64

Volume 64 is prepared and ready for your lugholes. Another splendid selection of audio joy.

20 songs to help you to put the Brexit Blues on the Back Burner. A massive thanks to Jim Moody for his superb technical skills, without whom this would not be possible.

The playlist details are on here and by clicking the Mixcloud tab. You can listen to the previous IDHAS Aural adventures on Mixcloud here.

You can listen by clicking on the link at the end of this post.

01 Stealers Wheel - Benediction
02 The Delaneys - Crown
03 David Mead - She Walks Like A Grown Woman
04 The Ragamuffins - Be Clever
05 David Paton - Some Other Time
06 The Embryos - Wasting All Your Time
07 David Brookings And The Average Lookings - I Grow Up Fast
08 Sports Team - Get Along
09 Martha - Heart Is Healing
10 Christopher Elam - The Idler
11 The Glimmer Stars - Feel It
12 Spiral Stairs - The Fool
13 Beauty Stab - Need You Around
14 Yorick van Norden and Anne Soldaat - The Door Into Summer
15 Dear Boy - Limelight
16 David Tolar - Halcyon Bridge
17 I Was A King - No Way Out
18 Quasar Wut-Wut - Withering Time
19 District 8 - All Is Forgiven
20 The Claypool Lennon Delirium - South Of Reality

IDHAS Volume 64 Mixcloud Link


Saturday, 23 March 2019

Sports Team - Keep Walking! EP

There's been a lot of talk about Harlesden's Sports Team over the past 12 months. The release of their second EP, Keep Walking, following on from last year's Winter Nets, shows that the six piece are no flash in the pan. It's as though the band are grabbing the UK's Indie scene by the throat and giving it "This Is How It's Done" shake.

These five songs gather tons of ideas and craft songs about the banal and minutiae into a poptastic affair. Creatively strong, they possess a great front man in the dapper, Alex Rice. There's also a difference to previous pretenders in the band's ability to cut it Live. Indeed they may be at their best on stage.

The lead song here is a magnificent peaen to the M5 Motorway, a song much praised by Steve Lamacq and something for me to agree with him for once. Get Along is the stand out here, to these ears, a real strum along, the vocal is a bit Brandon Flowers before he spent too long in the Synth Shop.

There's also a killer Bass riff on the hilarious, Ski Lifts, it's almost Cypress Hill. Casper is another gem, Rice comes across all Noo Yawk with it's lounge lizard vibe, almost Bowie like. There's plenty of comparisons present here, from Pulp to The Divine Comedy, but the overall feeling is one of pure joy. Perhaps Indie Pop will witness a revival and Sports Team may very well carry the lead banner.

You can listen to and buy the EP everywhere. The 12 Inch is particularly lovely.


Beauty Stab - O Eden EP

On IDHAS. there can be a given impression that the youth of today are just regurgitating hipsters, a theory largely exaggerated by me and there is a reason for this. All around my local scene, I see large beards promoting bands that no one has heard of and when you actually listen to them, it's all mediocre wannabe Bunnymen.

People encourage my Adventures With Hipsters Themes, but the truth is this Brussel Sprout munching rubbish is ruining two vibrant cities, why put your X Box Controller down when music offers up this rubbish. So I always make a point of highlighting exceptions to this frustrating theme. One such example is Beauty Stab.

I've always admired Vukovar from a distance as a sort of Post Punk originality that you could dance to. Out of the ashes of that band come Beauty Stab, a sort of intelligent, non plinkity plonk Soft Cell for the Smartphone generation.

The title track has Dan Shea channelling Edwyn Collins, accompanied by a Duck Rock beat. It's wonderfully hypnotic. Shea croons like a torch singer and it's just ace. My good friend, Peter Fitzpatrick, who is the keeper of all things Synth Pop will absolutely love this.

Clothes is far more industrial, a sort of Depeche Mode go Goth. It has a splendid clunk click accompaniment. The gem here though, to these Can loving ears, is Need You Around, it's wonderfully atmospheric, almost Krautpop. It'll be interesting to hear it mixed with all the Power Pop and Psych on an upcoming I Don't Hear A Single Radio Show.

This is not the normal sort of music that you'd read about on IDHAS and that's what makes it so special. O Eden is an EP bustling with ideas that have been thought through. There are so many influences to be heard and yet it's so original. Well done Metal Postcard for bring this to the world.

You can listen to and buy this here.


I Was A King - Slow Century

Norway's I Was A King return triumphantly and Norman Blake returns to the Producer's chair. The band's last collaboration with him on 2012's You Love It Here was a fine thing indeed. That album also benefited from Robyn Hitchcock's involvement. Slow Century has lots of similarities, although this is far more straight ahead Pop.

The Jangle count is still high, but the arrangements are much broader. It's definite in TFC laid back mode, but there are more similarities with Gretchen's Wheel. Tiny Dots has a lovely little twee keyboard riff, the title track is magnificently moody and No Way Out burst out unexpectedly.

The competing vocals of Anne Lise Frokedal and Frode Stromstad work beautifully and the quartet show that there is far more to them than twee jangle. The stripped down Folksong is inspired. Run is very Glasgow 1986 and all the better for it.

I prefer it when I Was A King lose the restraint and that's when you hear the real Teenage Famclub Sound on songs like all to short, Run and No Way Out which stands up with any current Jangle Rock that you'd care to name.

You can see the band live as support on the upcoming Teenage Fanclub European Tour. You  can listen to and buy the album here.


Friday, 15 March 2019

I Don't Hear A Single Volume 63

Volume 63 is all cued up and ready to rock. (Insert Another Cliche here)

20 fine tunes for your listening delight. A massive thanks to Jim Moody for his superb technical skills, without whom this would not be possible.

The playlist details are on here and by clicking the Mixcloud tab. You can listen to the previous IDHAS Aural adventures on Mixcloud here.

You can listen by clicking on the link at the end of this post.

01 The Late Great - Sundown Surrender
02 The High Strung - Riots Of The Mind
03 Masked Intruder - Mine All Mine
04 Rainbow Danger Club - Homemade Rocket
05 Jeff Kelly - Moon Over Granada
06 Cats In Space - Narnia
07 Pictures - Can't Stop Loving
08 Pete Wain - Inner Voice
09 The Peggies - Kiminosei
10 Any Version Of Me - Thinking Of The Days
11 The Bobbleheads - I Really See You
12 The Covasettes - Like You
13 Paulusma - Crying Shame
14 Nezrok - Middle Ground
15 Victor Krummenacher - No One Left To Remember And No One Left To Tell
16 Lost Ships - Here's What You Could Have Won
17 Holiday Ghosts - Slipstream
18 Dave Paulson - Don't Let It Get You Down
19 Charms Against The Evil Eye - Oscar
20 Two Sheds Jackson - Weekend

IDHAS Volume 63 Mixcloud Link


Saturday, 9 March 2019

Smile From Tokyo - It Haunts

Brooklyn Quartet, Smile From Tokyo offer up a cracking new album with It Haunts. The album jingles and jangles just the right amount and there is some stunning Guitar solos that mark it out from the ordinary.

There's a hint of R.E.M at times, a far more melodic version and at the time the stream of consciousness lyrics fit splendidly with the chiming around it. Then there's This Ghost which is more Southern Country Rock.

There's a definite Husker Du feel here, particularly on Where Did You Go with it's high Fuzz quota. There's largely two halves to the album. The second half is more Acoustic driven which works well, particularly on the jangling California.

 However the band are best when it gets a bit more frenetic. Particularly on Hard To Say with it's Cult like intro and Stay The Course which is ace Power Pop. I am highly impressed with what It Haunts provides and it continues the great start to the year.

You can but and preview the album from CD Baby here.