Saturday, 31 August 2013

REVIEW: Atlanter - 'Vidde' (Jansen Plateproduksjon)

One of the most exquisite examples of sheer musical magic in recent times has come courtesy of ‘Vidde’, the fantastic debut LP from Norway’s Atlanter. According to the press release “The band describe their thoroughly eclectic sound as 'Viddeblues'. 'Vidde' in Norwegian, refers to an open mountain landscape; an image as elemental as their blues and folklore inspired roots”. This album does a great job of conjuring up such mental illustrations, a record that inspires the imagination to paint vivid pictures. The band are led by Jens Carelius and Arild Hammerø, with percussionist Jonas Barsten Johnsen and bassist Morten Kvam bringing together musical experiences within from jazz, folk, rock and improv music. Combine the aforementioned styles with touches of psychedelica and prog, along with a subtle baroque flavour, and you get one of this year’s most fascinating and enticing records. 


The opening ‘Tree Song’ served as my introduction to this group and quickly became a favourite track of mine, so I was keen to find out if the rest of the album delivered such high quality. I was not disappointed. The first time I listened to it, there was just SOMETHING about it that made me want to listen again. The aforementioned single builds itself on a relentless beat that brings to mind a multifaceted homage to Can’s seminal ‘Halleluwah’, while the melodies catch the ear effortlessly. There are all sorts of refreshingly human sounds here, ranging from the intertwining guitar picking to the almost jazz-like rhythms. The repetitions bring to mind krautrock and the magnificent vocal harmonies add more colour to the inspired mixture of desert blues and psychedelica. The superbly tight ‘Aye’ hammers the drums into the listener’s conscious as it progresses, a fine example of how this accessible yet progressive music twists and turns, encouraging you to listen in more carefully, and tempting with the promise of more intriguing developments. It makes great use of repetition and when the beat changes, it’s not difficult to feel the impact. 


Just the right amount of diversity is applied throughout, the towering ‘Kaktos’ followed by the loose, tangled acoustics of the brief ‘Air’, and ‘More Juice Than Zeus’’s nagging hook soon ascending into a driving rhythm that reaches skywards, ending with a rare burst of odd electronics. It’s the only time you’ll hear any kind of machine on this album, where each song is unique, and all bound together by the record’s natural, beautifully organic instrumentation. ‘Pike’’s stunning arrangement brings out the best in a song that perfectly exhibits the huge degree of imagination, skill and sheer brilliance that can be heard on this record, while the soaring, mysteriously epic beauty of ‘Waking’ proves their superb ability to convey powerful moods and atmospheres. The haunted elegance of the instrumental ‘Desert’ brings with it some delicious acoustics, and afterwards, the closing defiant blues of ‘Ling’ captures the desert spirit with ease.


Take the time to absorb these sounds, for ‘Vidde’ isn’t designed to you first time round. Instant gratification followed by a lifetime left on the shelf is not what this record aims for. There’s too much here for the human mind to possibly take in and understand fully during the first listen. The next time you listen to it, you’ll notice parts that you didn’t hear before. ‘Vidde’ is the sort of record that entices you to spend more time with it, revealing more as it intrigues and charms with each listen. Maybe it’s supposed to grow over the course of multiple plays because it DESERVES to be listened to many times. 

Treat yourself to a copy of this record. Don’t miss out on the rewarding experience that these nine magnificent earworms have to offer. 8.6/10




Track Of The Day: Temples - Keep In The Dark

Temples immediately made an impression on me with their debut single ‘Shelter Song’, which I had discovered on the ‘Echoes’ compilation given away with MOJO magazine earlier this year. Their recent ‘Colours To Life’ was the track that confirmed that this London four piece may very well be a truly special band. 

Their rise continues with the brand new single ‘Keep In The Dark’, another stellar single that bodes incredibly well for the future. Their debut LP is expected early next year. In the meantime this awesome track, their second single for Fat Possum records, can be heard below. The single is released 7th October, and is backed with the B-side ‘Jewel Of Mine Eye’ and will be available digitally and on limited 7″ (comes with free download code).





Tour Dates

SEPTEMBER
13th: Portmeirion, Festival No.6

OCTOBER
3rd: Guildford, Boileroom
4th: Norwich, Arts Centre
5th: Leicester, Academy 2
8th: Sheffield, Queens Social Club
9th: Glasgow, Kings Tuts
10th: Edinburgh, Electric Circus
11th: Carlisle, The Brickyard
12th: Newcastle, Northumbria University
14th: Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
15th: Liverpool, Zazimier
16th: Nottingham, Bodega Social Club
17th: York, The Duchess
19th: Oxford, Gathering Festival
20th: Cardiff, SWN Fest
21st: Brighton, Komedia
22nd: Exeter, Phoenix
23rd: Bristol, Thekla

NOVEMBER
14th: Manchester, Gorilla
15th: London, Electric Ballroom

REWIND: A - 'Old Folks'

The British rock five piece A were brilliant when they started, and debut album 'How Ace Are Buildings' was something I heard lots of glowing praise for in the late 90's. Their second album 'Monkey Kong' was released in 1999 and produced this rather fantastic single, which I bought on its release during the same year. About three years later and the band had returned, but with a sound that had more in common with commercial American metal than punk, and an album called 'Hi Fi Serious'. Some of you may be wondering if the album's title was derived from the name of the hi-fi electronics store where Alan Partridge buys a Bang And Olufsen stereo from in' I'm Alan Partridge'. Apparently so. Aptly, the accompanying tour was named 'Inner City Sumos', another Partridge reference...

They released their fourth album in 2005, which due to poor promotion from their label Warners only reached #95 in the UK charts. The band split shortly after being dropped by the label, and reformed in 2009. Singer Jason Perry has previously said that the band were working on a new album, which hasn't surfaced as yet. Perry is also a record producer, working with the likes of McFly (snigger), while bassist Daniel P Carter hosts Radio 1's Rock Show...



Friday, 30 August 2013

RW/FF With Ben P Scott #27

This week: Nicky Wire seems pleased with my review of the new Manics album, I visit my local charity shop and emerge with some amazing records, and the NME continues to cater for morons rather than music fans. Also, as the grisly televisual abomination that is The X Factor returns, I prove the worthlessness of the show and every talentless cunt that it produces. No new music recommendations this week (aside from brief notes about Troumaca and MONEY), but instead there is Volume 9 of The RW/FF Compilation to listen to, plus a great track from the 'Afrobeat Airways' compilation... In the second half of the column i rewind to September 1995, and the beginning of my life at secondary school.

So after spending the last few weeks listening to their fantastic new LP, I was proud and honoured to find out that the Manic Street Preachers had shared my album review with their fans on their Facebook and Twitter pages, with Nicky Wire himself describing it as "great". What makes it even better is the fact that this happened exactly 15 years and one day after I bought 'If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next' on its day of release. Back then I'd dream of being a music journalist one day, so having my work read by my heroes exactly 15 years later seemed somewhat appropriate...

The charity shops around Wiltshire are always worth a visit when it comes to buying music. I found some incredible buys at my local Dorothy House shop last Saturday: Echo And The Bunnymen's amazing 'Ocean Rain' for £1 (already had it on CD, but sounds even better on vinyl), as well as 'Brewing Up' by Billy Bragg, 'Warehouse: Songs and Stories' by Hüsker Dü (the first record of theirs I have ever heard, or owned), and 'Surfer Rosa' by the Pixies, also all £1 each. Very pleased with those! The thing with charity shops is that they're often staffed by retired folk or people who aren't very familiar with music. They don't know how to price things accordingly and often whack a bigger price on things that they think are popular, when really it should be the other way round! those ABBA and Phil Collins LPs theyre charging up to £6 for can be bought anywhere else for about 50p! I'm not complaining though, because they were completely unaware that a 12" copy of 'Victoria' by The Fall should have been sold for more than £1!

My weekly radio show The BPS Broadcast was delayed slightly earlier this week, due to the fact that I arrived 20 minutes late to the studio. But I made up for the latency by delivering a fantastic set of tunes old and new, which included the latest additions to my '1 To Z' feature. For those who don't know, every week '1 To Z' consists of two songs picked from my record collection, and will continue until I have featured every single band or artist whose music I own. This week it was the turn of The Abyssinians, and one of my favourite new bands of recent years, Two Wounded Birds. I thought they'd been quiet for a while, and decided to check out their Facebook page to see if they had any news to share with us. Then I saw a post from November 2012 announcing that the group had split up. So why didn't I know about this? How could a hotly-tipped, critically acclaimed band like them split up without the fans noticing? It's clear that certain "music news" sites aren't doing their job properly. And yes, I'm talking about you NME, failing to inform us of news like this and instead preferring to cater for morons who want to read meaningless tabloid gossip.

The days of picking up the NME, being informed of important news and being kept updated with the latest goings on in the music world, are long gone. Their website is awful, and any relevant stories are buried under loads of showbiz "news", so I've decided to re-launch my weekly news round-ups. This is how music news was when I was growing up. Unlike the NME, I don't attempt to increase page views with showbiz gossip or stories about these manufactured pop stars who are irrelevant to the world of music. The only time you'll hear about such people is when I'm giving them the critical kicking they deserve, something that I'm sure you'll enjoy joining me in. My improved news round-ups can be found on the RW/FF site HERE.


For the last few days, I have been indulging in brand new albums from Troumaca and Money, both released at the beginning of this week. 'The Grace' is the debut from Birmingham's Troumaca, a group described as "a melting pot of sound". Judging by this superb LP, this description is an accurate one. Manchester four piece Money have kept an air of mystery about them, which suits the haunting enigma of their sound wonderfully. Their debut 'The Shadow Of Heaven' is already being talked about as one of 2013's best albums so far, with God Is In The TV's TC declaring "It’s dark, deep, emotional and needs some TLC...." More about those albums next week when I've spent more time with them. I've STILL not got round to hearing the new ones from Crocodiles, Vieux Farka Touré, and Nine Inch Nails. Things for me to do over the weekend. Unless I get another urge to listen to the brilliant 'Afrobeat Airways Vol 1' compilation on Analog Africa records, in which case I will be getting that one out again. Volume 2 is out in a few weeks on September 13. The priceless Monolith Cocktail site has a fine, appetite-whetting review of it HERE, and the site's author Dominic Valvona is also responsible for this great write-up of Volume 1 HERE. From that first edition, here is 'Me Yee Owu Den' from K. Frimpong And His Cubano Fiestas.

The 9th edition of The RW/FF Compilation can be listened to via the Mixcloud player below. It showcases the music that has featured in this column over the last few weeks. 

The idea is to buy all of these tracks and burn onto a blank disc, hence why each compilation will be roughly the length of a CD. Featuring new music from: Temples, MONEY, Higamos Hogamos, Asian Dub Foundation, Hello Skinny, Horse Thief, The Family Rain, Gary Numan, The Little Kicks, Manic Street Preachers, Northern Uproar, Tripwires, Atlanter, Melt Yourself Down, Six By Seven, Weekend and Holy Ghost!





So this week the public and the press have been expressing their outrage at trashy teen pop star Miley Cyrus doing a sexually provocative dance in a flesh coloured bikini at the MTV VMA Awards. Yawn. What exactly did the public expect someone like that to do? Suddenly develop some talent and open up people’s minds by creating an innovative piece of musical art? I think people are forgetting who we’re dealing with here. It’s just another part of this industry-funded celebrity bullshit world that is entirely separate from the music scene. It’s tiresome, it’s pathetic and I can’t even be bothered to have an opinion on it. What annoys me more is people playing along with the game and making such a fuss over it that the publicity snowballs. Ignore it, get on with your lives and don't do what those pop marketing men want you to.


Talking of cheap, trashy things, the horrific karaoke shitfest that is The X Factor seems to be returning to the TV screens of idiots around the country. I know this because one of ITV’s sponsored tweets ended up in my Twitter feed, spamming me with advertisements for Cowell’s dirty televisual cash cow. Well done ITV, you just earned yourself a “blocking”. If only Twitter would introduce that “Report abuse” button that’s been spoken of. I’d report them for abusing me by sending me what is effectively cyber junk mail, for abusing my intelligence by insultingly suggesting that I might want to watch that awful bollocks, for abusing the world with another series of this worthless shite, and most of all, for abusing the music scene by taking all publicity away from real musicians. 


The people behind the show find ways to desperately whip up media attention with shallow stunts and planned “incidents”, which gets it in the papers. The majority of people don’t want to hear about it, and yet it’s being forced down their throats from all angles. All this fuss, and what for? A karaoke show. 


By making it as annoying as possible for intelligent, well-informed people, this also helps stir up more promotion. People have asked me if I've heard the show's boyband One Direction and their attention-seeking covers of 'Wonderwall' and 'Teenage Kicks'. They know things like that aren’t going to go down well with music fans. They are fully aware that it's going to create a shitstorm. For people with taste, it can be very difficult not to criticise this programme, and when fans of the show hear these opinions, they realise deep down that they’re being sucked in by rubbish, and get offended by being made to feel like idiots. So it makes them even more determined to keep watching it and talking about it. Attention seeking is what it’s all about. Do any of the winners go on to make valuable contributions to the world of music? Unless “the world of music” has become a nickname for Simon Cowell’s bank account, then no. Morons and the misinformed can try and argue all they like that “these singers must be good because they’re having number one hits”. That’s not going to help in ten years time when they’ve wasted all those years singing whatever they’re told to, rather than developing as artists. Plus, by that point the hits will have dried up, no-one will remember who they are, and any money earned would have been spent. It’s the worst of both worlds. 

A few days ago my friend Jason B tweeted me to tell me news of an upcoming event at The Kings Arms, a hotel located in out home town of Melksham. In terms of live music, this hotel has recently played host to a couple of brilliant charity gigs that featured the region's finest up-and-coming bands, but following a recent change in management, it seems they think that having rock bands there may "lower the tone" of the newly refurbished establishment. Jason's Twitter message read: "Steve Brookstein to appear at The Kings Arms...". A little bit confused, "who?" was my reply. Was I supposed to know who this Steve Brookstein is? A local singer perhaps? Then I was informed that this individual was in fact the very first winner of The X Factor! A small column on page 5 of the Melksham News confirmed this: "This is the first of many live cabaret nights planned" said the venue's manager. Brilliant. All that hype, all that fuss, all that headline-attracting bullshit and what for? A cheesy twat singing cabaret at a hotel.


They may also be “forgotten about” by the majority of the general public, but at least many of indie’s former chart stars have always kept doing the same thing they always did: writing songs, recording them, and playing them to people. Due to the fact they’ve always been able to come up with the goods, they still have dedicated fanbases, even if they are smaller than they were in the 90’s. The only thing that’s changed is the fact that they’re not in the singles chart anymore. Pop singers only exist to make money, and when their moment in the limelight is over, they give up on their career as puppets and spend a bit of time enjoying the money they conned mostly from the pockets of the world’s children. Then, when they miss that attention they used to get, they attempt to desperately relaunch their careers, often with disastrous results. Why would any fans have a reason to stick with them once they’re out of fashion and out of the limelight? Their big hits are written by well-paid songwriters, who aren’t going to want to write for them when their success dries up. Because they don’t come up with their own music, they can’t be relied on to keep producing output of a consistent quality. There is no glory in being a pop star. Fake illusions of glory, yes: money, fame and popularity. But in the end, you’re left with no credibility, and no way to turn back and do start again differently. Meanwhile many genuine musicians may be penniless and ignored, but they have something more important and valuable than fame and money: a collection of work that they can be proud to call their own.

My full article, 'The X Factor: A Shit Stain On The Pants Of Culture' can be read HERE

From the horrors of today, to the wonders of yesteryear...

1995: September

In September, it was time to begin life at the George Ward School in Melksham. The transition from primary school to secondary school is always a big one. Rather than sharing an educational establishment with 5 and 6 year old, we were now sharing one with 15 and 16 year olds, in fact if you included the sixth formers, there were even students close to their twenties. The whole tone of the place seemed more serious, more grown up, and that was something that suited me. Towards the end of primary school, the rumour was that when you reached “big school”, all the older kids would hunt you down and flush your head down the toilet for being a “picnie”. That was a myth, but a myth that led the rest of my new class to think that bullying was one of those essential things that everyone had to take part in at some point to become popular and to earn a bit of power. Our class was the same size as it would have been in primary school, but instead of having about 14 different classes of kids to deal with, the school had at least 50, and being aware of every incident would have therefore been a lot more difficult for the teachers. It was a much bigger place, and teachers eyes are only able to see so far. 


Most of my classmates were a load of dicks, none of them showed any signs of maturity, and I felt that I had outgrown them on every level. I felt like I had already grown up in a lot of ways, and school was just a compulsory thing that had to be done to satisfy the system and to earn those official qualifications that we would be judged on in later life. 

However, I felt that music was in my blood, and it was my destiny to get a job somewhere within the music world. I was already a club DJ and an aspiring record collector (although it was mostly tapes and a few CDs) who had a more advanced knowledge of music than all the other 11 year olds. I felt that my future was going to involve earning a living from working with music in some form, and that school wasn’t teaching me anything relevant to what I would be doing as an adult. It all seemed like an inconvenience, and I thought that I would have been more useful out there in the wider world rather than sat in class. The other kids were starting to turn against me too, since I didn’t show any desire to follow their fashion or take part in the same activities they enjoyed. I would always be more interested in talking about bands and songs that they had absolutely no knowledge of, plus my increasingly evident wish to be an adult was beginning to take the form of dismissing everything my classmates did as “kid’s stuff”. Needless to say, this didn’t make me a very popular person. 

Each week seemed to follow a familiar pattern: start the week on Monday and patiently waiting through the next five days, tolerating boredom and bullying and hanging on until it was home time on Friday. The weekend was the time when I could really come alive, make use of my talents and be a part of that adult world. Music was now not only my passion, but an escape from the turbulence of school, and something which made me feel powerful and worthy. Perhaps at that point my brain formed a permanent subconscious link between music and being safe from the bad things in life. On Friday night, my Dad’s club would have a resident DJ playing a more dance-orientated selection of club tracks, and on Saturday night it was my job to take control of the decks. There would be a few less genuine clubbers around than there usually would be on the previous night, so I was expected to play some of the more commercial chart songs of the time, as well as a few older tracks for the more mature customers. However, watching the Friday night DJs pack the dancefloor made me want to do the same. The club had also begun hosting a house music night, where the tunes were unfamiliar to me and a great deal cooler than the more mainstream dance hits of the time. But since I didn’t know any radio shows or other places where that sort of music could be heard, I found myself listening to the next best thing available to me at the time: dance mix compilations that combined club mixes of chart hits with a few of the credible and slightly more underground tracks of the moment, as well as a few radio shows on Galaxy 101 that almost did the same thing. 

A few dance tracks I used to play at the time that I loved back then, and I still have a nostalgic soft spot for now: ‘I Believe’ by Happy Clappers, Jinny’s ‘Keep Warm’, the ‘I Feel Love’-aping ‘Sunshine After The Rain’ by Berri (a singer who Liam Gallagher apparently had a fling with), De'Lacy’s rather brilliant ‘Hideaway’ and ‘Destination Escaton’ by The Shamen, a single which I bought on cassette in Woolworths without having even heard the song. I was just curious to see how they’d changed since 1992’s ‘Boss Drum’, and was curious to see if they could be as successful as they were then. They weren’t. I didn’t get round to listening to the accompanying album ‘’ for about 17 years. I never felt embarrassed about playing those songs. Which is more than could be said for some of the other chart hits of the time: Shaggy’s ‘Boombastic’, N-Trance’s hideous ‘Staying Alive’ cover, Simply Red’s nauseating ‘Fairground’, and a crap remix of Michael Jackson’s uncomfortably soppy ‘You Are Not Alone’. By this point, every chart song had a compulsory dance remix, a way for mainstream hits to cross over into the clubbing world. Many DJs must have had their integrity and good taste compromised by being asked and expected to play these remixes. 


I also had to playlist novelty rubbish like Technohead’s ‘I Wanna Be A Hippy’ and Roy Chubby Brown’s “who the fuck is Alice?” update of Smokie’s ‘Living Next Door To Alice’. Add to those the tedious likes of Annie Lennox’s ‘No More I Love You’ and Seal’s ‘Kiss From A Rose’, which were sometimes played at the beginning or near the end of the night as things were warming up or winding down. TLC’s ‘Waterfalls’ was typical of the bland and utterly unappealing so-called “RnB’ that had started to leak into the UK charts like a trickle of piss. I hated it, and I hate it even more now for leading to the likes of Destiny’s Child, Mis-Teeq and a million other acts whose names I can’t remember because none of them stand out in any way. I don’t think I ever actually played TLC though, just as I was never expected to play Take That, Boyzone, East 17 or Bad Boys Inc (if anyone remembers them). Asking me to play those would have been crossing the line. But back then it wasn’t quite as easy to hate crap chart pop as it is now, because although we had to put up with it on the radio, there was an equally omnipresent wave of fantastic British guitar bands that were capturing the public’s minds and immediately presenting a more substantial and long-lasting musical future. It seemed unstoppable at the time, as Blur and Oasis were household names, while Pulp, Suede and Supergrass were in the process of becoming all-time greats. I didn’t think of it as “Britpop”, I just thought of it as the standards of popular music improving. 


At the time, it really looked like indie was replacing pop, and for those who wanted a break from the guitars, there was plenty of good dance music around. It made perfect sense to me, and I couldn’t see any reason why it should change. However my involvement in Britpop only really stretched to a knowledge of Blur, Oasis, Pulp, Suede and Supergrass. They’re still the ones that the majority people remember the most, but at the time other groups were emerging underneath my radar: Sleeper, Cast, Dodgy, Ash, Menswear, Gene, The Verve, Northern Uproar and Elastica to name just a few. Within a year I would have discovered most of those, but while Britpop’s main bands were all at their commercial peak, the upper part of the charts were still where my attentions wandered towards. A couple of non-Britpop tracks I bought at the time were ‘‘74-‘75’ by The Connells; a brilliant one hit wonder song that I purchased on tape from HMV in Swindon, and Def Leppard’s turgid ‘When Love And Hate Collide’, bought on CD from the short-lived Taylormade Sounds, which was a small shop in Melksham (now an amusement arcade next to the Iceland supermarket). Don’t have a clue why I bought that one.

Earlier in the year it looked like Blur were going to be become the biggest musical phenomenon the world had ever seen, and ‘Parklife’ was the ultimate way of promising that. But Oasis were catching up with them in terms of popularity and attention of the music world. Even though ‘Country House’ had beaten ‘Roll With It’ in that well-documented chart battle, Blur’s latest album ‘The Great Escape’ had failed to live up to expectations, and since the public had given Damon Albarn and co the time of day, many of them felt that they also owed Oasis a fair chance. The opinion on Blur had shifted somewhat, and for their Manchester chart rivals, the moment presented the perfect opportunity for them to prove themselves. The second Oasis album was coming, and it had already spawned two massive hit singles. 


One of my first memories of George Ward School was of an assembly that took place during our first few weeks there. Stood in the long line that filled the corridor towards the school hall, I was surprised to hear a familiar sound coming from beyond us. As we made our way in, it became obvious to me that for some reason an Oasis track was playing. This was fantastic. By the time all present were seated, the track was coming to an end. The school’s deputy headmaster Mr Austin introduced himself to us and asked everyone if they could name the song that had been playing. “‘Get It On’”, someone replied. To this day, I don’t whether they genuinely thought that it was in fact the T Rex classic, or whether they were making a knowing reference to Noel Gallagher’s musical theft. 

The song was of course ‘Cigarettes And Alcohol’, and Mr Austin had brought with him the cassette format of the single with its fag packet-style packaging that declared “Rock n roll can be fatal”. According to him Oasis were misunderstood, and the song was actually an anti-smoking, anti-drinking, anti-drugs statement. At the time, I didn’t have the confidence, nor the cheek to correct him, and I wasn’t sure whether this guy was just making a misguided attempt at being “down with the kids” or not. It soon turned out that Mr Austin was by far the coolest teacher in school, and music was a major passion of his, just as it was mine. I doubt there were many school assemblies across the country that featured Oasis songs, but judging by their rising popularity at the time, it’s possible that there were many other instances of the Gallagher brothers appearing in places that you wouldn’t have expected them to. And as 1995 began to turn to autumn, it was them who would go on to define the year and perhaps the whole era… 

More next week.

MY OPINION: The X Factor - A shit stain on the pants of culture

Here's an article to show to anyone you know who has become brainwashed by karaoke shows....

I know it's hugely ironic to urge people to ignore something, before writing an extensive feature about the subject in question. But I feel that I must get this anger out of my system and deliver THE final critique that will wake people up. I'm going to sum up this subject in such detail that  no-one else EVER has to talk about it again, OK??? OK...

The subject I am referring to is the new series of ITV's cheap, nasty "talent" show The (e)X(crement) Factor. This tacky programme isn't anything to do with music, it's about attention seeking and grabbing TV viewing figures. I wouldn't be so disgusted if the "artists" produced by this show weren't clogging up radio playlists and preventing real musicians and artists from breaking through to a wider audience. I don't see any reason why anyone would choose to watch this garbage instead of using the time to discover interesting, creative and uniquely talented people instead. The only reason this show and the appalling acts that it spawns have become successful is because of the cheap and nasty way they generate publicity for themselves. In the days leading up to the launch of the new series, already the tabloid newspapers were hyping it up, giving the show yet more free publicity.


Why do newspapers feel the need to write about The X Factor anyway? If anyone was interested in the show, then surely they'd watch it instead of reading about it in a newspaper? It seems to me that some sort of deal has been done with the ever-scandalous Murdoch press, so that Cowell's poor quality show can receive more coverage, yet again leaving no room for musicians and artists to achieve any noticeable exposure.

Some comment that the show's creator Simon Cowell has become rich from humiliating people, and that is an absolute fact. But don't expect me to feel sorry for the victims. If people are prepared to risk humiliation just for a shot at short-term fame, then they deserve all the misery they get. It's their choice to go on this cheap, nasty show and by doing so, they prove that they're not "doing it for the music" as some of them will try and claim. If you're really doing it for the music, then you won't mind taking the time and effort to write your own songs, and if you really love music so much then perhaps you will have learned how to play an instrument? If you're that passionate about music, you won't mind years of constant gigging in small venues to work your way to the top. The long gradual climb to success also allows the artist to develop their own sound and style. In direct contrast, people go on the X Factor to try to take a short cut to fame, without doing anything to deserve it, or without doing any of the hard work every talented musician has to do. So if you go on that show and get humiliated by Cowell, then it serves you right.


They may also be “forgotten about” by the majority of the general public, but at least many of indie’s former chart stars have always kept doing the same thing they always did: writing songs, recording them, and playing them to people. Due to the fact they’ve always been able to come up with the goods, they still have dedicated fanbases, even if they are smaller than they were in the 90’s. The only thing that’s changed is the fact that they’re not in the singles chart anymore. Pop singers only exist to make money, and when their moment in the limelight is over, they give up on their career as puppets and spend a bit of time enjoying the money they conned mostly from the pockets of the world’s children. Then, when they miss that attention they used to get, they attempt to desperately relaunch their careers, often with disastrous results. Why would any fans have a reason to stick with them once they’re out of fashion and out of the limelight? Their big hits are written by well-paid songwriters, who aren’t going to want to write for them when their success dries up. Because they don’t come up with their own music, they can’t be relied on to keep producing output of a consistent quality. There is no glory in being a pop star. Fake illusions of glory, yes: money, fame and popularity. But in the end, you’re left with no credibility, and no way to turn back and do start again differently. Meanwhile many genuine musicians may be penniless and ignored, but they have something more important and valuable than fame and money: a collection of work that they can be proud to call their own.

People have asked me if I've heard boyband One Direction and their attention-seeking cover of 'Wonderwall'. I don't need to. In fact I have tried my very best not to exposed to even a split second of ANY X Factor act. All you need to know about them is that they were launched by The X Factor. And if someone takes part in that show they do it for fame and money. Like I said before, if you're "in it for the music" and you REALLY have something to offer, then you'd be more than happy to go through the normal process of working your way to the top. So when people accuse me of being "ignorant" because I criticise these karaoke singers without even hearing them, the answer is simple. I don't NEED to hear them to know that they're worthless. Plus I haven't got time to listen to them, I'd rather spend that time checking out music that actually has a chance of being good. 


I don't think that not liking the X Factor makes any of us "elitist" or musical snobs, it's just plain simple: we prefer good stuff over bad stuff, and no "taste" can make excuses for that disgrace of a programme. Declaring it to be a steaming pile of dogturd isn't an opinion, it is simply stating a fact. If you gave someone the choice of eating a slap up meal or a shit sandwich, would they be an "ignorant" snob because they would rather have something nice than something hideously nasty?

Furthermore I HATE how this show symbolises the mentality of a dumbed-down culture, where men in suits choose what people hear. Year after year the quality of the show (and its contestants) becomes worse and worse, it's almost like they're testing the public to see just how low their standards can sink. And the lower people's standards get, the more easily Cowell can get away with releasing any old shit and seeing it sell. It seems like he's laughing at all the people who buy his products and telling them "come on you mugs, roll up and buy more of my shit, you fall for it every time!" while sneering at artists and musicians "you're trying hard to make good music and you won't get anywhere because everyone's buying my rubbish. And i'm not even trying! It's so easy for me! I don't even need any more money, yet I'm going to carry on producing this crap JUST to keep myself in the spotlight." How much worse can it get? Is it going to come to the point where one day people's standards become so low that they will buy a recording of someone taking a shit? So it's in Cowell's interests that he keeps on producing crap, after all with all the free advertising it gets, it's going to sell no matter how bad it is, and he wouldn't want his audience to start expecting something special. 


The show has also helped create a shallow culture where thick and talentless people are famous and the truly talented barely get a chance to be heard. In the 70's the public were buying Pink Floyd records. In the 80's they were buying Smiths records. In the 90's it was Oasis. Now people's standards have dropped to such a low that the singles charts have become entirely separated from the actual music world. People have been conditioned to accept any old rubbish the radio plays them, and more of these awful "talent" shows have cropped up as well, including Cowell's OTHER show 'Britain's Got Talent' or to give it its full name 'Britain's Got Talent But You Won't See Any Of It Here Because Talented People Don't Need To Go On Tacky Reality TV Shows To Prove Themselves'. After years of frankly disgusting manufactured rubbish clogging up the UK charts, does this utter prick really need to make MORE money? All his acts have proved to be nothing more than puppets, not a single one of them possessing even a trace of talent. To call the garbage they produce "music" is an insult to every hard working musician out there. A slap in the face for gifted and creative artists who are ignored by the public in favour of whatever new puppets the latest reality show has produced.


They use the hype and the publicity to make it appear to simple-minded or easily led people that 'The X Factor' is somehow an event, and they condition these people to accept this poor quality rubbish as entertainment. During the first few weeks of the show, they do the tired old routine of showing people who obviously can't sing very well, just to get people to tune in. Why do people tune in? Because they think it will be funny and by laughing at other people's lack of talent, it will probably make them feel better about themselves. Seeing contestants humiliated by the judges gives the impression of drama taking place, and people shallow enough to watch it will soon be on Facebook or Twitter spouting off about the latest "events". And because other people on social networking sites see others talking about it, they feel like they're somehow missing out by not watching it. It's a cheap, easy ploy and it requires no effort whatsover from the show's makers. Their whole show is based on taking advantage of thick and easily-entertained people, and they fall for it every time. 


By making it as annoying as possible for intelligent, well-informed people, this also helps stir up more promotion. People have asked me if I've heard the show's boyband One Direction and their attention-seeking covers of 'Wonderwall' and 'Teenage Kicks'. They know things like that aren’t going to go down well with music fans. They are fully aware that it's going to create a shitstorm. For people with taste, it can be very difficult not to criticise this programme, and when fans of the show hear these opinions, they realise deep down that they’re being sucked in by rubbish, and get offended by being made to feel like idiots. So it makes them even more determined to keep watching it and talking about it. Attention seeking is what it’s all about. Do any of the winners go on to make valuable contributions to the world of music? Unless “the world of music” has become a nickname for Simon Cowell’s bank account, then no. Morons and the misinformed can try and argue all they like that “these singers must be good because they’re having number one hits”. That’s not going to help in ten years time when they’ve wasted all those years singing whatever they’re told to, rather than developing as artists. Plus, by that point the hits will have dried up, no-one will remember who they are, and any money earned would have been spent. It’s the worst of both worlds. 

A few days ago my friend Jason B tweeted me to tell me news of an upcoming event at The Kings Arms, a hotel located in out home town of Melksham. In terms of live music, this hotel has recently played host to a couple of brilliant charity gigs that featured the region's finest up-and-coming bands, but following a recent change in management, it seems they think that having rock bands there may "lower the tone" of the newly refurbished establishment. Jason's Twitter message read: "Steve Brookstein to appear at The Kings Arms...". A little bit confused, "who?" was my reply. Was I supposed to know who this Steve Brookstein is? A local singer perhaps? Then I was informed that this individual was in fact the very first winner of The X Factor! A small column on page 5 of the Melksham News confirmed this: "This is the first of many live cabaret nights planned" said the venue's manager. Brilliant. All that hype, all that fuss, all that headline-attracting bullshit and what for? A cheesy twat singing cabaret at a hotel.

The competitive element of the programme keeps people interested, and whichever acts are judged to have the most current commercial appeal are chosen to progress to the show's next stage. This is followed by weeks of viewers being exposed to these acts, as well as hearing others talking about all the show's latest gossip and reading about it in the newspapers. Basically no matter how bad his acts are, they will still continue to benefit from free advertising, something real artists don't get.


Then there's the end product of the whole thing where after the series ends, the acts get signed up to Cowell's label, featured all over the tabloid press, and then release the most truly stinking attempts of music known to man. Written and created by other people, all the "artists" have to do is turn up to the studio to sing and the resulting atrocity is swiftly manufactured before being played repeatedly by lazy, unimaginative commercial radio stations. Of course it's all cover versions and painfully bad "originals" given to them by terrible songwriters, but depending on how much attention the braindead mainstream media give the faces fronting these money making projects, they're bound to sell more than all the good records that don't benefit from a huge amount of free advertising. Hence you get completely useless bellends like One Direction and JLS, empty headed puppets who have no chance of ever creating anything of artistic and creative value. And they're actually famous? Why?


It baffles me why anyone would willfully listen to any of the substandard trash the show pumps out, instead of listening to remarkable and special music written and created by talented people, the people who will CREATE the classics of tomorrow rather than doing cheap cover versions of songs from years ago. If a band like Yuck were able to get their songs heard on radio and telly then they would inevitably become big, and their songs would probably be used for an X Factor singer to cover. But Yuck CAN'T become popular because the radio is full of X Factor contestants. 

Basically the point I'm trying to make is, if there's no new music breaking through then what are the reality show singers going to sing in a few years time? The show's contestants sing songs by bands like The Beatles, U2 and Oasis, yet none of those bands could have had the chance to make it big if these karaoke shows existed back then. Therefore the contestants would have nothing to sing now. Some people will watch someone like Olly Murs singing something like 'Hey Jude' and think to themselves "this is really good, i'm going to buy his album" when they should be buying a Beatles album instead, since it was of course them who crafted the song. They've got a nerve: they prevent musicians from being noticed by the public, and yet they use songs by these musicians so their contestants have something to sing. It's a slap in the face and it's a disgusting insult to bands and artists everywhere. 


I have no respect for these useless contestants because of their complete lack of talent, and I have no respect for them as people because of their greed and selfishness. Then there's that utterly despiseable, squeaky clean cunt Murs, who has the sort of sickeningly smug facial expression that seems to say "I sang other people's songs on a TV karaoke show so I deserve to be famous". Enjoy it while it lasts. Because it won't last long. None of them do. Even if the public are constantly exposed to them, it's only a matter of time before the next X Factor winners (and losers) are the main focus of Cowell and his company.

The X Factor thrives off of publicity (good AND bad), and if the show is starved of attention then it will wither and die. So this article is to be my final word on the whole subject, and I've hopefully opened people's eyes and proved that this show and its products are utterly worthless. 


So next time anyone you know mentions The X Factor, don't begin ranting about how bad the show is because that's what Simon Cowell wants you to do. He and everyone else who manufactures the programme are all aware that they're producing nothing but shit, yet they also know that lots of easily-led, easily entertained people and idiots around the country are falling for it, and they know that intelligent people hate it. And having a show that provokes such strong reactions is what gains them even more publicity. 

So let's ignore it. Ignore the show, ignore the people talking about the show, ignore the newspaper stories about the show, ignore Cowell and ignore every fame-hungry talentless piece of shit that takes part in it. Instead let's talk about good music and proper musicians who feel proud of creating something themselves and who can achieve success purely because of their unique style, talent and ability.


Track Of The Day: Sean BW Parker and Scorpio Rising - Taksim Meydan

Sean BW Parker and Scorpio Rising are an interesting proposition. Disillusioned with the mainstream, Parker turns to the native music of Turkey, the country where he currently resides. 

Admittedly I do feel a bit uneasy about promoting the music of someone who also writes for the same website as me (God Is In The TV), as I don't wish for any accusations of bias to compromise my critical integrity. But the naggingly infectious 'Taksim Meydan' is simply far too good to overlook... More information and further musical documents can be found HERE...


Thursday, 29 August 2013

Track Of The Day: Eight Rounds Rapid - Channel Swimmer

Eight Rounds Rapid are a band introduced to me by God Is In The TV editor Bill Cummings, who often provides me with top class recommendations. 

Hailing from Southend-on-Sea, they describe themselves as a "punk/indie/RnB band". This reminds me of the UK Subs a bit, with shades of Graham Coxon in the guitars... 

More info about the band at their Facebook page HERE...





REWIND: The 13th Floor Elevators - 'Reverberation'

Today's track: one I myself am not completely familiar with yet. The first time I heard of the 13th Floor Elevators was when I learned that Primal Scream's 'Slip Inside This House' was in fact a cover version of a track by these mid-to-late 60's psychedelic pioneers. A few months ago I was thrilled to find a copy of their highly acclaimed self titled debut album, which due to a caption on the back sleeve is often referred to as 'The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators'. Dating from August 1966, this is purported to be the first use of the word "psychedelic" in reference to the music within. The band's sound on this album is notable for its use of the electric jug, played by the band's Tommy Hall. More info about them can be found at their Wikipedia page HERE.

This song is thought to have given its name to Echo And The Bunnymen's ill fated and misguided 1990 album that shares its title. I was amazed to pick up the 2005 CD reissue from a car boot sale for 50p not so long ago...



Wednesday, 28 August 2013

REWIND: 3 Colours Red - 'This Is My Time'

Those who listen to my weekly radio show The BPS Broadcast may be aware of my regular feature '1 To Z', where each week I play you three tracks from my record collection, gradually building up an endless list of every single band and artist whose music I own. I thought it would be a good idea to also feature those tracks here as part of Rewind, amongst the usual random musical treasures. 

I bought you Two Wounded Birds yesterday, but today I'm going to go back to the first track I played on the radio show as part of '1 To Z', which is 3 Colours Red's 'Beautiful Day', from the 1999 LP 'Revolt'. But since I featured that same song as a 'Song For Today', when this site was known as 'Mr Scott:Music' (that post can be found HERE), I'm going to bring you the lovely 'This Is My Time', from the same period.

I remember buying this album at the very beginning of that year, as the start of January lacked any big, notable or highly anticipated releases. Due to there not being many big selling records out at that time of year, 'Beautiful Day' sold enough copies to earn a number 11 UK chart hit, and the album went to number 17. 'This Is My Time' entered the charts at number 36.


Its lush string sounds and classy production can be credited to producer Dave Eringa, best known for working with the Manics.



Track Of The Day: Mazzy Star - California

Mazzy Star's new single 'California' is utterly beautiful. 

Instead of me trying to describe its magic to you, just have a listen. I've only heard a handful of tracks by this group before, and their upcoming LP 'Seasons Of Your Day' (their first in 17 years) provides me with a great opportunity to discover more... 

http://www.hopesandoval.com/new/index.shtm





Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Track Of The Day: The Great Sadness (aka Stephen Jones, ex-Babybird) - Music Is My Only Friend

Stephen Jones, formerly the creative force behind Babybird has been a very busy man this year. After the Death Of The Neighbourhood album 'Redux' arrived at the tail end of 2012, he has since released no less than EIGHT records as Black Reindeer, his largely instrumental project recalling soundtrack music. But fans of his more familiar happy-sad, pretty-dark twisted pop have been waiting a while for him to release something more reminiscent of the much-loved Babybird. 

With his new alias The Great Sadness, Jones has made a return to the achingly beautiful melancholia of his earlier efforts and yet still continues to develop and grow as an artist. The splendid 'Music Is My Only Friend' is the first taster from an upcoming album, expected later in the year on ATIC Records... To hear those excellent Black Reindeer albums, along with a load of rare Babybird treasures, solo material and much more from the hugely prolific Jones, go to his Bandcamp page HERE...