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Last weekend I did an in-store gig in Tower Records for the headphones brand, Frends. The brand were launching in Ireland and you can find them in Arnott’s and Tower with other retailers being added in the coming weeks. You can also buy them online here. Check these babies out.
Stunning, right? The brand were kind enough to gift me a pair of the Taylor headphones in rose gold. They are almost like a piece of jewellery and are by far the most stylish headphones I’ve ever seen. The sound quality is amazing and while the cans are not sturdy enough for DJing (that would be far too much abuse for something so beautiful) they are perfect for listening to an iPod/Pad or music on your phone. Big thanks to Frends – I will treasure these beauties!
They’re back! Queens of the Stone Age released their first new tune in six years this month with My God Is The Sun. It’s taken from the band’s upcoming album released on June 3rd on Matador Records, …Like Clockwork. Any fears that any fan had about their comeback should be blown away by this tune which is QOTSA at their finest; chugging guitars, Homme’s vocals alternating between a croon and a wail, and a monster bass line. Dave Grohl is back in the drummer’s chair for this tune and he really is the perfect drummer for the band.
I’m hugely looking forward to hearing the new album. It includes collaborations with Trent Reznor, Alex Turner, James Lavelle, Jake Shears and Mark Lanegan. Bring. It. On.
Every genre of music has its floor fillers for a DJ. When I’m playing an indie set, one song guaranteed to get people dancing is Vampire Weekend’s A-Punk. They seem to have done it again with new single Diane Young taken from their forthcoming album Modern Vampires of the City, released next month. The band are geniuses when it comes to crafting short, hook laden masterpieces.
The first video below is the full song. The second video is a rather bizarre version sung by Steve Buscemi, and watched by members of Vampire Weekend, at the 2013 Easter Bonnet Festival on 5th Avenue in New York City. Yep, bizarre.
Good cover versions are hard to find. Usually the music buying public are subjected to cover versions by contestants on X Factor and other such horrific programmes and those people generally tend to shit all over perfectly good songs. However over the weekend I was watching Fright Night (I know, I know, not my usual fare but it’s really not that scary) and I heard this phenomenal cover version of Jay-Z’s 99 Problems. It’s by Hugo, a half-Thai Royal Family, half-British singer songwriter who is now based in Hell’s Kitchen, New York.
Hugo is signed to Jay-Z’s label, Roc Nation, which may explain his unusual choice of song to cover. The result is brilliant – a stomping bluegrass/rock version with new verses but maintaining the classic chorus – and his vocals on this track sound remarkably like John Lennon in his later years. 99 Problems is taken from Hugo’s first album Old Tyme Religion released in 2011. Check it out.
How in over three years of the blog have the Yeah Yeah Yeahs not featured? Sometimes I’m so off the ball it’s terrible! Anyway if you don’t know the band (but surely you must?) check out this and this for starters and drink in the unfettered fuckawesomeness of Karen O. Below is the rather cinematic video for their new single Sacrilege in which Lily Cole has a starring role (the band’s Youtube Vevo account has the most unflattering image of her I’ve ever seen – she’s actually beautiful). Is it a phenomenal track? I reckon it’s a grower and I love the way the track builds with the addition of a gospel choir. The album (their fourth) Mosquito is released on April 16th.
One of my very favourite drummers of all time, Dave Grohl, has directed a movie called Sound City, a documentary about a famous recording studio in Los Angeles. Sound City Studios was an integral part of the LA music scene from 1969 to 2011 and the list of artists that recorded at Sound City reads like a who’s who of the American rock scene in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s. Everyone, and I mean everyone, recorded there; Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Tom Petty, Metallica, Grateful Dead, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Chili Peppers, Cheap Trick, Kyuss and Rage Against The Machine are just some of the acts. (We’ll skate over the fact that Vincent Price, Evil Knievel and Charles Manson were also clients.) You can have a look at some of the albums recorded in Sound City here – it’s jawdropping stuff.
Like many great stories, the beginnings of Sound City Studios is about the right elements coming together at the right time aided by sheer luck. The main room in the studio wasn’t built by an audio expert, it just happened to work perfectly for recording live bands. The owner of the studio, despite having no technical knowledge whatsoever, spent $76,000 on a custom Neve desk (bear in mind, his house only cost $38,000 at the time) which became legendary amongst musicians for the sound it gave the drums. The first album recorded on the Neve desk was Buckingham Nicks which lead to the formation of Fleetwood Mac and the recording of their eponymous 1975 album, which in turn lead to other musicians beating down the door to record in the studio. And thus a legend was born.
Grohl decided to make a film about the history of the studio from its early days until it closed in 2011 and along the way it evolved into a conversation about digital technology and how it is transforming the musical landscape. Sound City also documents Grohl’s purchase of the Neve console, which he moved to his personal studio, Studio 606. (Of course the Neve desk is famous for its drum sound therefore the band with two of the greatest drummers in rock would want it!) The making of the film then branched out and also became an album called Real to Reel which was released last week. The album sees Grohl collaborate on different tracks with Sound City almuni, including Trent Reznor, Rick Springfield, Paul McCartney, Stevie Nicks, Josh Homme, Lee Ving and Alain Johannes.
Sound City is almost a eulogy for analogue recording and it’s emblematic of how technology has changed our cultural landscape in far reaching ways. As Josh Homme says, “There’s no bookstore [anymore], there’s no music store, and there’s no Sound City.” The film was first shown at Sundance this year and is now screening across America. I rented it from iTunes where you can also buy it. If you’re interested in the American rock scene this is definitely one to watch.
You know when you buy an album and then forget about it and rediscover it months later only to find a tune you become obsessed by? No? Just me? The album is The 2nd Law, the latest release (albeit last September) from Muse. The tune is Madness. It’s an electro-rock tune that starts quietly and builds, via Freddie Mercury-esque harmonies, into a whopper. I know Muse can be accused of being somewhat bombastic and fond of the drama but I love these qualities. They have a totally unique sound and as a live band they’re übertight. Anyway here’s the tune. Enjoy.
(Second in a sporadic series of Tales from Behind the Decks. Here’s the first one.)
Being a female DJ has its own set of unique issues and experiences, most of which I thought I’d come across having been DJing for almost ten years, however last week I had a new one. I was DJing at a silent disco where there were two DJs on stage; me and a guy. I was playing rock and alternative tunes and he was playing chart music and commercial dance. In the venue we were in, requests are a regular occurrence and I’m always happy to facilitate someone if I have what they’re looking for. People came up to the front of the stage to ask for tunes and both the male DJ and I noticed something really interesting; I was getting the requests for Rihanna and Beyonce and he was getting the requests for Guns and Roses and the Arctic Monkeys!
It seems that people were applying some sort of gender bias and thinking that because I was a woman I was naturally the one playing the chart stuff. It’s funny because if they’d stopped to look at us, our musical tastes were obvious from the way we dressed. I was head to foot in black and he was wearing trainers and a baseball cap, looking for all the world like a cool clubber! It’s interesting how people can form an opinion based on music alone and think that a woman is less likely to be the one rocking out. The lesson here is don’t judge a DJ by their gender!
I’ve loved Nick Cave ever since I first heard Henry’s Dream aged sixteen in 1992. I was mostly immersed in grunge music at that point and the raucous punk/blues vibe of the band combined with Cave’s dark lyrics blew my tiny mind. One of my favourite albums of his was Murder Ballads; each song was a story and the listener was hanging on every lyric to find out how the story ended. The stand-out track on the album for me was The Curse of Millhaven, a song about a fifteen year old female psychopath responsible for serial murders in the town of Millhaven. Read Cave’s phenomenal lyrics for this track here - sheer genius.
Push The Sky Away is the band’s 15th album and will be released on 18th February. The Guardian has an exclusive stream of the album available on their site which I have been listening to today. It’s a slow thoughtful album with beautiful melodies. Let’s hope the band will be touring in support of the album – I’d love to see them play an intimate venue like Vicar Street.
Nick Cave is interviewed on The Works on RTÉ One tomorrow night, February 14th.