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Last night I had the pleasure of being a guest on “The Magic Number”, a weekly show on Radiomade. Radiomade is a website which focusses on promoting the work of budding producers, DJs, directors and bloggers based in Dublin city. Along with live streams which broadcast twenty four hours a day, Radiomade also features a podcast section, a blogs section and event info.
“The Magic Number” is hosted by Al and Jon Jon, two total chatterboxes who are both obsessed with music, film, and the arts in general. I had stacks of fun chatting to them so hopefully I’ll get invited back.
The show ran from 8pm until just after 10pm and the topics we covered, in no particular order, were as follows: the merits of ketchup, stag parties, Don’t Tell The Bride, guitars made from fireplaces, loud miming, Irish men being the ugliest in the world, Jediism, women proposing to men and the dating world in general, nightlife in Athlone, driving theory test, single parents, anger management, and flavoured condoms.
Tunes played include Black Grape, QOTSA, Jurassic 5, Supergrass, Gangstarr and Method Man.
Don’t confuse Jillian Banks with Azealia Banks; the former, who likes to go by her surname only, is a twenty-five year old singer-songwriter from Los Angeles currently generating a lot of international buzz on the back of two EPs and two singles. She has been nominated for a Sound Of… award by the BBC and a Brand New Nominee by MTV, amongst others. “This Is What It Feels Like” is my favourite of her tracks and it’s taken from her London EP released in September last year.
I can hear 90s Bristol triphop all over her songs (perhaps due to collaborations with English producers Jamie Woon, Lil Silva and Totally Extinct Dinosaurs) with definite hints of Tricky and Portishead. These influences combined with cutting edge production and haunting layered backing vocals give her a unique sound.
She dresses entirely in black explaining recently to Vanity Fair that, “I wear all black because I feel comfortable in it. I feel feminine, strong, and a bit sexy, like a goddess witch…” Given that a lot of female singers (Beyonce, Gaga, Miley, Britney, Katy Perry, Nikki Minaj, etc.) feel that they are fully dressed in a corset and thong, it makes a nice change to see someone who covers up and puts the focus on her considerable talent.
Check Banks out on her website and have a listen to “This Is What It Feels Like” below. You can also check her out live at the Longitude Festival in Marlay Park in July.
I fell in love with Hozier’s first EP when it was released last year and his second EP From Eden has been on heavy rotation in my house for the last couple of weeks. If you loved Take Me To Church you will find more to love on From Eden: “Arsonist’s Lullaby” is filled with foreboding via pounding drums and dirgelike guitars; “To Be Alone” (recorded live) is slow pared-back blues; and the title track is a joyous one with Hozier’s vocals soaring over the top.
Hozier is just back from a small tour of the UK and he’s on tour in the US in May, with his gigs in New York and L.A. already sold out. I didn’t manage to get to see Hozier at Other Voices last year nor did I see him at the Pepper Canister Church before Christmas as it was sold out, so my mission is to get front and centre at a gig this year!
From Eden is available to buy on iTunes now.
Tensnake’s debut studio album Glow was released on 7th March this year and he has collaborated with a host of names including Fiora, Nile Rogers, MNEK and Jamie Liddell. I picked up “Feel of Love” on iTunes last week which features Liddell on vocals and disco influenced production courtesy of Jacques Lu Cont.
Here’s the thing: if someone told you this was was a lost 1999-era Prince track you’d totally believe them. It begins with very mixable 4/4 house beats and an 80s electro-synth feel, and as soon as Jamie Lidddell’s vocals kick in, it’s like an homage to Prince. This is not a bad thing; after all if you’re going to do an homage to anyone, Prince is a good choice.
Anyway I like the upbeat disco vibe and have been playing at gigs recently. Enjoy!
Ellie Goulding’s pop music is not generally to my taste being a bit too euro-dancey so I was bowled over when I heard her cover version of Alt-J’s “Tessellate” from last year. Her ethereal vocals are perfect for the track and it’s just beautiful. Plus it’s got a sax solo; they’ve been unfashionable since the 80s but I have a place in my heart for a good sax solo given the fact that my Dad is a horn player!
It got me thinking about cover versions I’d like to hear. Herewith a partial list:
Kanye West – “Big Bottom” by Spinal Tap
If Kanye has a sense of humour he hides it well, so it’s unlikely that he’d ever consider something like this, but this famous Spinal Tap tune would lend itself perfectly to a hip-hop cover version. Plus, who doesn’t want to hear him sing, “talk about mud-flaps my girl’s got ‘em”? Preferably at his upcoming wedding.
Willie Nelson – “Hits From The Bong” by Cypress Hill
This one just writes itself. Noted toker Willie could give this stoner rap anthem a country feel and sing instead of rap the lyrics; “Inhaaaaale…exhaaaale…”
Justin Beiber – “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus
I have successfully managed to avoid ever listening to a Justin Beiber song in its entirety, and his antics of late haven’t exactly endeared him to me or anyone else. This song might not be the best PR move but then Justin doesn’t really seem to care about that, does he?
Lindsay Lohan – “I Fought The Law” by The Clash
Lindsay’s trying to revive her film career and her current reality show on Oprah’s network OWN is her springboard. While she’s at it, perhaps she could record this iconic track. (Music trivia fans: it was made most famous by The Clash but they actually covered it – it was written by Sonny Curtis of The Crickets, post Buddy Holly.) It would be a tongue-in-cheek reference to her legal woes and Lindsay’s husky vocals would give the lyrics a lot of authenticity.
Rihanna and Miley Cyrus – “Push It” by Salt N Pepa
Rihanna and Miley are two girls intent on selling themselves with huge emphasis on sex, nudity and controversial behaviour. (In fact I think their actual talent takes second place to their sexuality.) They could brilliant update this 80s hip-hop tune with crisp production and crunchy beats, and then twerk along to their hearts’ content. In fact this one’s so obvious I wonder why they haven’t done it already.
What about you, dear readers? Any songs you’d like to see covered and if so by whom? And what are your favourite covers? (Another one of my favourites is “Word Up” originally by Cameo and covered by Willis. In her hands, the song is slowed right down with a country feel and gorgeous warm vocals. You can check it out here.)
(Firstly, apologies for the long blogging break but I have a very good reason! Last week my sister added to her already gorgeous family with a beautiful little girl. So congrats to Sarah, Paul and Bo and welcome to the world, Tessa.)
I woke up with this song in my head this morning which seemed like a fairly good reason to post about it. Released last month, “Free” is by English electronic quartet Rudimental and features the sublime vocals of Emeli Sandé. The video stars real life wing-suit flier and extreme sports athlete Jokke Sommer who glides around the Eiger mountain in the Alps. (Stomach churning stuff for those afraid of heights but I think it looks like loads of fun!) Enjoy!
Having read Eimear McBride’s book and been emotionally wrung out, inspired and challenged, I decided my next read would have to be a bit more light-hearted and fun and Whores: An Oral Biography of Perry Farrell and Jane’s Addiction fit the bill perfectly.
The book had its genesis in a 2003 article in Spin magazine; Mullen was asked to interview people for an oral history of the band just after JA reunited. Being a massive Jane’s fan, I loved the in-depth article and thought that a biography in the same vein would be brilliant. Apparently I wasn’t the only one as Mullen was approached to enlarge the original article into this book. Unfortunately the band members chose not to do any further interviews so there’s no new material from them, but their history is filled out with extensive interviews with others.
For those unfamiliar with the band, Jane’s Addiction are widely considered to be a seminal alt-rock American band whose reputation was built on an initial output of just two albums: Nothing’s Shocking (1988) and Ritual de lo habitual (1990). The band built their following in the mid-80s in Los Angeles, playing shows at underground venues including the Lingerie Club where they met author Brendan Mullen. Jane’s became legendary for their rock and roll excess, however they were an art influenced band and so their antics were more left-field than many of their contemporaries. Can you see the members of Motley Crue getting naked and French kissing each other on stage? Or designing a sculpture based on a body-cast of their girlfriends for their album covers?
Jane’s were a decadent and debaucherous band, and ruinous heroin use was one of the reasons they fell apart, but before that happened they did manage to create some magic tunes, most famously “Jane Says”; a song about their flatmate Jane Bainter (also the inspiration for their name) who was a heroin addict and always promised “to quit tomorrow”. Bainter was interviewed for the book, along with the band’s friends, peers, family members, ex-girlfriends, and many people from the LA music scene in the 80s and 90s.
Whores is certainly comprehensive and gives a real sense of the atmosphere in the rock scene at the time and the excitement and chaos around the band. It’s a shame that the band didn’t contribute further as obviously their own take on their history is what the reader is most interested in, but this is still a great biography and one any music fan will enjoy.
Obviously when I’m DJing there are certain songs that people want to hear and so I play them at almost every gig, e.g. at a rock gig you have to play The Killers, Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend, etc. Consequently playing them week after week at gigs has ruined tunes that I used to love, so much so that I’d be happy if I never heard them again! (I won’t name them here as it’s not fair; I did love them once!)
I know this tune from Bloc Party is old. Way old. It’s taken from their award winning album Silent Alarm which was released in 2005. But it’s one tune I never get sick of, no matter how many times I play it. The main reason I adore this song is Matt Tong’s drumming. His playing is tight, he sits right in the groove and drives the song beautifully, and it reminds me a little of Stewart Copeland’s drumming with The Police.
Anyway, I’m sure you know “Banquet” but have a listen and appreciate a classic!
DJ, founder of Shejay, producer and now singer, Kelly Sylvia is a force to be reckoned with! Kelly started DJing in the 90s and steadily built up her name as a soulful house DJ with appearances at venues like London’s Fabric, Pacha and Ministry of Sound, as well as playing further afield in Hong Kong, Ibiza, Moscow and Dubai.
Since 2010, American-born and London-based Kelly has been producing her own music and releasing tracks on indie dance label, Simplified. In the last couple of months, she has branched out to create something unique with her new label Blood & Stone Music.
‘Remedy’ is written, sung and produced by Kelly and it’s a slice of subtle funk influenced house with crisp production and gorgeous vocals. The track was released last Friday and is available for sale on Beatport, Traxsource and iTunes. Go get it!
We all know how much I love drummers and so while browsing on Netflix recently I was delighted to find a documentary on rock legend Ginger Baker. Directed by Jay Bulger, Beware of Mr. Baker first premiered in 2012 at the SXSW Film Festival and went on release in May of last year. Bulger spent three months living with Baker in South Africa researching an article for Rolling Stone. The article and the numerous hours of interviews he captured on film became the premise for Beware of Mr. Baker.
Ginger Baker is most well-known for being the drummer with legendary rock act Cream, whose members also included Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce. Cream lasted for less than two years (1966-1968), in part due to Bruce and Baker’s volatile relationship, but they were hugely influential. Baker also worked with rock acts Graham Bond Organisation and Blind Faith, but he always considered himself a jazz drummer and one who was very influenced by the rhythms in African drumming. In later years he worked closely with Fela Kuti and also challenged jazz masters Art Blakey and Elvin Jones to drum battles. (It has to be mentioned however, that many jazz drummers didn’t rate Baker: Elvin Jones said, “Nothin’ happenin. Cat’s got delusions of grandeur with no grounds. They should make him an astronaut and lose his ass.”; and Buddy Rich is claimed to have said, “Ginger Baker challenging me is like a paraplegic challenging Jack Nicklaus to a round of golf.”)
The documentary covers Baker’s life from his birth in 1939 in Lewisham in London up to 2010 and it is most definitely not hagiography. While his considerable talent and innovation are the focus, the film doesn’t shy away from his feuds with other musicians, his violent temper and fights, his drug use, and his relationships with family (he’s on his fourth wife and has three kids from his first marriage), showing Baker as the irascible, antisocial, violent, and generally dislikable character that he is.
In fact the first scene is of Baker fighting with Bulger and beating him on his face with a steel cane. He also beat Jack Bruce and pulled a knife on him, gave his fifteen-year-old son a line of coke, and ran off with his daughter’s eighteen-year-old friend: just a small sample of the incidents that contribute to his reputation. The only things that seem to bring out his softer side are music and animals: he cries when describing his friendships with his heroes like Max Roach and when he hears African musicians drumming in Nigeria; he speaks more kindly to his horses than he does to any human being and seems to be closer to his dogs than to his children.
Beware of Mr. Baker is comprehensively researched and includes interviews not only with Baker’s family and colleagues (unsurprisingly he doesn’t have many friends), but also with other drummers such as Neil Peart, Stewart Copeland and Charlie Watts, as well as numerous people he knew in Africa, and even the last people to interview him on radio in America. I particularly loved the animation provided by David Bell and Joe Scarpulla which adds a visual energy to the film that perfectly compliments Baker’s drumming.
While you won’t come away filled with sentimental good feeling for its subject, Beware of Mr. Baker is certainly an interesting and entertaining film.