I can just imagine the conversation We Are Warm had at an early rehearsal, going through that abominably tedious process of trying to think of a name: ‘well,’ someone must have said, in a last ditch effort to bring some method to the madness, ‘what sort of band are we? What are we like?’ And so began the enumeration of their characteristics… They got it right. If my irritating verbosity were brutally limited to a single adjective, ‘warm’ might well be it. Warm melodies, warm chord sequences, really warm vocal harmonies, warm tones on every instrument…
Matt Stevens is an artist whose work I have followed closely, for several reasons, since I started regularly writing about music. Whatever reason I first came across his work, the reason I have continued to pay attention is that I really like what he does (so far so good, anyway). I have to admit that I’m not usually a fan of ‘prog’ per se: although I like music to be progressive in some way, there is a historical tendency for instrumental guitar rock to suffer from either tedious noodling, empty pyrotechnics, or both.
I’ve been wondering, if everybody listens to their own bespoke version of musical culture, with their own preferred historical narrative, is there really any point in describing the latest band I’ve gotten into as ‘a bit like Sun Records era Elvis, with a dash of Berlin era Bowie, and an approach to haberdashery directly influenced by Jamiroquai’? Because, let’s face it, many people won’t share my points of reference, and will be unable to interpret such an eminently precise and sensible description.
This week your intrepid investigative correspondent has conducted a great deal of painstaking and potentially dangerous research, to discover that the main story around the new music industries is the f8 Facebook conference. Frankly I find the whole thing rather tedious, as my personal interest is in the varied, individuated, customized and hackable, rather than the monolithic and conventional, but it’s moderately likely that the announcements have some real implications for people’s listening and sharing habits in the near to middling distance.
It takes a musical education to do what Matt Winkworth does, and it takes some skills to keep up with him as The Winkworthers Originals do (their grandfathers’ delicious butter candy notwithstanding). It’s a jazz-operatic, literary, nonsensical, funny, serious, harmonically sophisticated, melodramatic oom-pah sort of a thing, delivered with lashings of vaudevillian relish. As you may have inferred from the cover art and the use of ‘brillig’ in the title, one of the songs is a setting of a certain Mr. Dodgson’s famous poem ‘Jabberwocky’…
This wetpussyallstars side project release is an experimental album, one which reinvigorates the musically abstract with a sense of the narrative and the representational, simultaneously blurring the distinction between electronic artist and electrician. Sounds that are abstract in a musical sense may at the same time, as here, be sonically concrete, and although it is unclear how these sounds are generated, they give every impression of deriving from the device whose interactions they purport to represent.
Hot zowee! This long player is really a gas, boys and girls! If the family that plays together stays together, then The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players are one fantabulous bundle of cosmic togetherness: these three way-out cats are as groovy as a corduroy overcoat and as hip as a coxa (that’s Latin for hip). The sounds they bring us are so far out they’re in, and they’ll put a smile on the face of everyone who knows the score.
I don’t usually narrow my analyses of musical sounds and genres to ‘single-issue’ terms, but looking at what I usually say, there’s only an occasional engagement with gender as an active discourse, so I thought I’d have a think about it. Because the central reason I don’t pay much conscious attention is that I’m a bloke, and gender is largely invisible to blokes, as race is largely invisible to whites, and poverty to the rich.
As far as I’m concerned, extending the copyright in sound recordings to seventy years is a depressingly retrograde step. The argument usually advanced is that royalties on recordings represent an important income source for aging session musicians who failed to make any provision for their old age. Well, I also have failed to make any provision for my old age, but when I’m old I won’t be asking anyone to carry on paying me for work I did in my 20s and 30s.