Live Music

Saturday, August 7th, 2010 at 9:09am

Live Music For any half decent band to have any longevity in the modern music industry not only do they have to have numerous hits under their belt but they also must be able to bring out their A game when it comes to performing live.

Some bands have even made a career from performing live. The Rolling Stones still manage to draw in the crowds decades after they first formed. Back in 2006, Madonna shockingly got away with rewarding her fans for their years of loyalty by charging them £160 for one, that's right one, tickets during her Confessions On A Dance floor tour.

Lets not forget what happens when it goes wrong though. From Milli Vanilli and the miming scandal back in the 80's to Amy Winehouse's seemingly un-provoked swing at a fan during her set at Glastonbury Festival in 2008. One false move during a live set has the potential to ruin an artists career for good.

Nowadays, we are lucky enough to be able to amazed by the live shows of Muse, the energetic performances from Mumford & Sons and hypnotically powerful songs from Sigur Ros. Some of these artists are featured in a new playlist to SMP made by hannahrichardson and are joined by the likes of Leonard Cohen, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Bob Dylan we have a listen to some of the best live acts in the world.

Ryan Gibbins


Friday, August 6th, 2010 at 1:07pm

Who would have thought that three young men from the sleepy town of Teignmouth could have taken the music world by storm in the way which they have? Sixteen years, five studio and three live albums, countless awards for their music and live shows, Muse are sitting pretty on top of the tree as one of the best bands in the UK.

A steady progression since they formed in 1994 have seen them grow from the small eccentric British indie rock band into a band which went on to headline Glastonbury Festival not once but twice! Not many bands can say they have done that.

It was pretty humble beginnings for the trio. After forming the band under various different names (Gothic Plaque, Fixed Penalty and Rocket Baby Doll) they finally settled on the name Muse after being inspired by Matt Bellamy's art teacher. After performing live across the country, the band released EP's, Muse and Muscle Museum, on the Dangerous record label. Following the success of the EP's the band released their first three albums, Showbiz, Origons of Symmetry and Absolution, with Taste Media.

By the time of the release of Black Holes and Revelations in 2006, Muse had become well known for their sci-fi inspired music and spectacular live shows. They had played a number of festivals and headlined Leeds/Reading in the summer of 2006. The album itself was a huge success, charting at number 1 in the UK chart and number 9 in the Billboard 200 album chart. Only the more mainstream Arctic Monkeys prevented them from picking up the Mercury Music prize however Black Holes did get a Platinum Europe Award for selling one million copies in the continent.

The latest release from the band, The Resistance, was once again a huge success. They were then called to celebrate the 40th birthday of Glastonbury by headlining the Pyramid stage on the Saturday night. The show was a huge success and the popularity of the band was shown when they were joined on stage by U2'S Edge for a cover of The Streets Have No Name.

Muse are due to be taking a break following the conclusion of the current Resistance tour before they record new material in 2011. So to get us through this lean period, SMP member hofmann9 has generously scrambled together a collection of the bands best tracks from the various past albums. Enjoy.

Ryan Gibbins

Best Singles Of 2010

Friday, August 6th, 2010 at 9:33am

Best Singles Of 2010
If you are like me then you will find listening to radio a frustrating experience. Having to listen to track after track of the same old generic nonsence until you finally hear one that you like. Well no longer will you have to dredge through the endless flow of songs which are being thrown out of the record companies production line in search for the best ones.

Thanks to one very helpfull SMP member, you now have the cream of the crop all in one place.The aptly named Best Singles Of 2010 currently has dozens of songs on from the past seven months and will be continuously updated until the end of the year. Think of it like that copy of Now 36 that you have burried i the back of the cd collection, but one that is actually listenable and has some variation.

So far, the playlist includes tracks from Biffy Clyro, Gorillaz, Kate Nash, The XX, Marina and the Diamonds, Delphic, Arcade Fire and The Big Pink as well as many many more.With the likes of Klaxons, Brandon Flowers and James all releasing albums before the year is over, the playlist will only get better.

Ryan Gibbins

Virgin Festival 2010

Thursday, August 5th, 2010 at 4:28pm

V Festival 2010
This years summer festival season is coming to an end. Many warm beers and organic ciders have been drank, badly cooked bbq sausages eaten (and brought back up) and several nights of sleep deprevation. But dont loose that festival feeling just yet.

With Leeds/Reading festival at the end of the month and V Festival only 2 weeks away, there is still plenty to look forward to as we near the end of the summer. With this in mind, SMP user adamscott has compiled a playlist dedicated to V Festival past and present which will hopefully bring back the sun kiss feeling and get you in the mood for the final push before the summer is over.

This playlist is as long as the queue for the portaloo, making it hard not to find something on here that doesn't take your fancy. Kings of Leon, Paul Weller, The Courteeners, Feeder, The Magic Numbers, Ellie Goulding, Jamie T and Calvin Harris, just a small selection of artists that appear on the playlist and are past, present and Future performers at the Staffordshire based festival.

Wether you are going to the upcoming festivals, still recovering from an earlier one, or just want enjoy some amazing tunes, this is the playlist for you.

Ryan Gibbins

Album Review: Best Coast - Crazy For You

Thursday, August 5th, 2010 at 9:35am

Best Coast - Crazy For You
Garage Rock, Indie Pop, Surf Pop, Lo-Fi, all catagories which Los Angeles based trio Best Coast have attempted to be squeezed into. But this laid back, dare i throw another one into the mix, stoner rock, you will either love or hate.

Best Coast members include Bethany Cosentino, Bobb Bruno and Ali Koehler but the band are just a platformm for Consentino. The 22 year old seems to have been on a hunt for fame since a young age. From being entered into baby shows, performing as various solo incarnations and several different bands in Calafornia, is this just her latest attempt at stardom?

From her California Punk roots in her solo project 'Bethany Sharayah' to her self formed band 'Pocahaunted' which had a more mellow and dreamy sound, Consentino has now formed her new band which combines the two styles. This gives Best Coast the sound of, just to cunfuse you more, mid nineties girl grunge. (Babes in Toyland and Hole come to mind)

As for Crazy For You, there are no hidden messages or double meanings. It's 12 tracks of Cosentino declaring her feelings for a mysterious man and her love for California. The First track, Boyfriend, is a simple but effective way of Consentino subtletly getting across her feelings. I wish he was my botfriend / I wish he was my boyfriend / I'd love him to the very end / But instead he's just a friend, not very hard to figure that one out.

The songs are simple and straight to the point. There are no complicated chord combinations, it is rare that they break out of the three chord combinations. But this is what makes the songs work. It has the punk roots from their early years in the Californina punk scene and because it has been toned down, it gives the lyrics a chance to be heard and therefore Consentino's lyfestyle of getting high and watching Seinfield DVD's is there for all to see.

Ryan Gibbins

Album Review: Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010 at 4:34pm

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
It's been 3 years since the release of Neon Bible and the huge success that it had meant that The Suburbs was always going to have a lot to live upto. Being voted the album of the year in Q Magazine and reaching number four in both NME and Rolling Stone Magazine meant that it was hard to see how they could make a better album with the follow up.

Instead of trying to replicate the grandure of Neon Bible, The Suburbs is more toned down and instead shows off Arcade Fire's song writing skills. There are still elements of what got them noticed in the first place. The huge drum beats, crunching guitars, strings and brass that lurk in the background and the haunting voices of Win Butler and Regina Chassagne. The difference is that they have been toned down in order for the actuall songs step forwards.

The Suburbs gets the album off to a slow start. They keep it simple, structured and straight to the point. Although it's a very catchy song, it's a dissapointing start to an Arcade Fire album. But from here, things start to pick up.

Ready To Start brings a fuzzy, dirtyness to another song which clearly should be a future single. City With No Children is another which could be released. The catchy bass line which dictates the tone of the song being the highlight. There is a brief return to the Neon Bilbe-esque sound in the middle of the album. Half Light 1 and Half Light 2 still have the brilliantly structured songs but also is riddled with instruments hiding behind the giutar and violins. Best tracks on the album.

If this wasn't for it's bigger brother, Neon Bible, The Suburbs would be classed as a great album. Unfortunately The Suburbs has rather large boots to fill. On first listen, it doesn't pull down your pants and slap you in the face in the way you want it to. But the more you listen, the more you admire it. There are always new and interesting surprises which you find with every listen. As they say, "it's a grower" but definately worth it.

Ryan Gibbins

Introducing: Deconstruction Records

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010 at 4:06pm

Deconstruction Records
Origionally launched back in 1987 by Pete Hadfield and Keith Blackhurst, Deconstruction Records were a big player in dance music. Their back catalogue ranges from Black Box, Bassheads and M People in the early nineties, to Deep Dish, Kyie Minogue and Robelt Miles towards the end of the century.

The label closed in 1998 but under the guidance of legendary DJ Mike Pickering, 2009 saw them release their back catalogue and are now signing new artists, Lionrock, Way Out West and T-Coy being a selection of their releases from this year.

So now they are back and starting to pick up a head of steam they have kindly made a selection of playlists for us to enjoy.

Diagram Of The Hearts Festival Road Trip
More of a mainstream playlist compared to their other dance themed ones. Tracks from artists such as Marina and the Diamonds, Mumford & Sons and Foo Fighters bring the festival fun but their is also a bit of nostalgic dance in their from Black Box.

Motor City Drum Ensemble Summer Chart
Drums are the theme of this short compolation of six traks. Boo Williams, Archie Bronson Outfit and Bodycode all throw their drum machines into the mix to give you that summer feeling.

Way Out West Playlist
Three Way Out West tracks packed into a list of big names which include Massive Attack, Gorillaz and Manchesters very own Delphic, a nudge towards Mike Pickering's manc roots possibly.

Greg Wilson's Edit Chart
A selection of six different Greg Wilson remix tracks on offer here, ranging from the funky, bass driven Starlight by Escort to Grace Jones' subltly little piano based song, Williams Blood.

Ryan Gibbins

Album Review: Magic Numbers - The Runaway

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010 at 2:03pm

Magic Numbers - The Runaway
Not much has been seen or heard of the Magic Numbers since their self titled top ten album back in 2005. This seems a little strange to me. The follow up album, Those The Brokes, never really took off to the same extent of the debut and they slowly dissapeared off the radar. Granted, they are not as aestheticaly pleasing on the eye as most other bands and there has always been someting strange about siblings within a band, but they make good music. A Mercury nomination in the same year proved this.

On the debut album, tracks like Long Legs, Forever Lost and Love Me Like You were all brilliant examples of hoe good the band actually are as musicians. But maybe this is where they faultered in their atttemp to appeal to the masses. The fore-mentioned were all upbeat, punchy numbers (despite the somber lyrics) but the remainder of the album was a pretty downbeat experience. This is not always a bad thing though. These slower, more chilled out songs can have the same effect but on the opposite side of the scale.

As much as i would like to say that The Runaway is a 12 track roller coaster ride with a thrill around every corner, i cant. Instead it's more like a nice sunday afternoon outing in the countryside in a Morris Minor. But whats wrong with that? There are no standout, upbeat energetic songs. Instead, The Runaway is full of slower, relaxed, more heartfelt songs.

With the addition of strings, this sounds like a more polished effort and despite the slightly depressing lyrics, a definate improvement on the second album. The first single to be taken, The Pulse, has this in abunbance. Romeo Stodart vulnerably mumbles; what is it to love? / what is it to feel? / am i all alone? With the introduction of flowing orchestral choruses and the vocal harmonies which the band have always had, they have created a powerful sound even though it's not as vibrant and in your face as other albums.

This is the theme throughout the rest of the album. Once I Had and A Start With No Ending see a welcome return of a more guitar based tracks and Throwing Away My Heart is an all female affair with Stodart taking a back seat to his sister Angela. Not the best song on the album but she may have told mummy on Romeo if he didn't give her a chance to sing.

The Runaway is not an album which is going to be played at your local indie disco or be played at any parties in the near future, but in the right circumstances it is still a very good effort. So stick a fivers worth of petrol in your car, find a long winding country road, roll down the windows, kick back, relax and enjoy. 8/10

Ryan Gibbins

Singles Club

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010 at 8:22am

Arcade Fire
Once you have resisted the urge of the intro to burst into 'Feeling Good' by Muse, Barack Obama's number one fans, Arcade Fire, once again remind us why we love them. Taken from their new The Suburbs which is also released this week, We Used to Wait has simple beginnings but once the layers are applied and a catchy chorus is slipped in, it builds up into a crescendo finale.

David Guetta ft Flo Rida - Club Cant Handle me
Not usually my cup of tea but this one i could live with. Apart from the annoying cries to 'put your hands up', CCHM keeps you interested throughout the track. Unlike past efforts such as Everytime We Touch (too obvious), Love Has Gone (instantly annoying) and Sexy Chick (Akons uncanny ability to turn everything into a nursery rhyme)the latest Guetta collaboration sees him team up with Flo Rida for a track that wouldn't be out of place on a well known fizzy drink advert.

The Hoosiers - Choices
Thankfully breif and with a new electro feel to it, Choices in not as poppy as past Hoosiers tracks. Still, the same basic song structure still applies, verse/chorus/verse/chorus/breakdown/chorus, which does mean that if you are desperate enough there is enough familiarity there so you can sing along to the repetativeness.

Sunday Girl - Self Control
Sunday Girl, aka Jade Williams, will not be familiar to a lot of you (including me) but the 21 year old from Broxbourne is hotly tipped to become a big name in the next 12 months. Her melodic synth based songs which have been tinkered and refined by producers such as Diplo and Jim Elliot (Kylie and Ladyhawke) will become well known to may in the near future and Self Control is a perfect place to start to get an idea of what Sunday Girl is all about.

Ryan Gibbins

Record label's playlists II

Monday, August 2nd, 2010 at 11:43pm

Following on from our post featuring playlists by some of our favourite major label players, we have decided to bring you the best music from our friends at lesser known, underground and independent imprints.

Check out this great selection of record labels to hear the some of the newest, oldest, rarest and strangest music around.

Freestyle Records
Adrian Gibson's Freestyle Records releases everything from funk and soul to jazz and hip-hop and this playlist gives a flavour of what they're all about. Check out brilliant tracks by Lack Of Afro, Kokolo and The Apples.

Tru Thoughts Records
Tru Thoughts Records, in their own words, specialise in 'jazzbreakshiphopsoulfunkbeatsounds', which we think sounds absolutely amazing.
This playlist from the Brighton based record label, which was founded on the success of their highly respected club night, showcases perfectly what the kind of sound they like to peddle.

Daptone Records
Daptone is another brilliant independent label specialising in Soul, Funk, Gospel and Afrobeat with a loyalty to releasing music on vinyl. "Hand-made and heart-stirred, our records are manufactured from the highest quality vinyl available," says Daptone. So if you like the sound of that, why not check out this playlist.

Finders Keepers Records

Finders Keepers is a relatively new British record label catering to both record collectors and DJ-producers. If you like rare, unheard and just downright strange records then check out this label for some space-age Turkish protest songs, Czechoslovakian vampire soundtracks and Welsh rare-beats, apparently.

stephen moshi moshi power of ten
Moshi Moshi is an independent London-based label who have previously released track by the likes of Bloc Party, Hot Chip and The Rakes. Stephen from the imprint picked tracks from Fridge, Robert Wyatt and Penguin Cafe Orchestra for this brilliant playlist.

Gary Evans