Friday 10 October 2008

Check out these great bands!

Thursday 17 July 2008

The Automatic Are Back!

Buy the new single!

And here's their brilliant new video:


Saturday 12 July 2008

The Art Of Improvisation

A jolly video featuring some art which you can interpret how you wish.

Sunday 1 June 2008

Free Music?

Forget The Charlatans free album, and that terrible Violet-copy-of-everything-else-they've-ever-done-Hill song that Coldplay recently gave away, good quality free music has been sitting around on the Internet for ages. I remember when "download single" meant you could head over to Ash's website and pick up Clones for free...or Slipknot's to download Pulse Of The Maggots, if you're into wearing scary masks and all that. Despite the "digital revolution" (CDs are digital anyway -gasp-, so goodness knows why this term seems to be used exclusively to refer to mp3s), bands are still making their music available to download for free, even though "download single" no longer makes a gleam of triumph appear in the eyes of cheapskates (read: me). Never mind about the one sad little song that iTunes gives away each week (two if you count the promotion with Bebo, which doesn't seem to work half the time anyway and not having a Bebo account I can't really do much about that), there's a lot more than that out there.

Label Samplers:
I was just looking up a band that I only have one track by, Allister (currently on hiatus), to try and get more songs by them, and I came across their label site, Drive-Thru Records. Unfortunately for Little Miss Out Of Pocket, there weren't any more tracks available by Allister, but the label did have a free sampler available for download with a bunch of tracks by their current roster, so I figured it was worth a look at. Click on the featured download box. You may have to download something called Echospin, but this only takes a minute and then you'll be able to get all the mp3s.
Click. Includes tracks by Halifax (no, nothing to do with those irritating bank adverts with the walking purses and suchlike), An Angle and Socratic.

Being a rather bored bean indeed, I decided to type "download label sampler" into Google, in the hope that something would turn up. This was a good decision, as I immediately found a few more bundles of tracks. I clicked on something called Bridge 9, thinking that I had heard that name before. You type your name and e-mail in (if you don't want to part with your personal data then it doesn't matter if it's complete rubbish) and you can download the sampler.
Click. Includes tracks by New Found Glory, Ruiner and Have Heart.

The next thing that caught my eye was Matador Records. Apparently this is an annual sampler, so do check back in about a year's time for more musical goodness. They also have various other mp3s up on their website, so have a look around.
Click. Includes tracks by Cat Power and Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks.

There are various other label samplers wandering around the web, so go and check it out for yourself. Label samplers are also given away free in music magazines such as Rocksound and at indie record stores like Banquet Records, so keep an eye out.

Label Sites:
Although Wikipedia is what some might call the font of all knowledge, label sites are an excellent place to start with when you want to find out about a band. They usually have songs available to listen to and some tracks may be up for download as well. Downloadable tracks are more commonly found on indie label sites. Major labels aren't that keen on giving away free music. It is worth looking up a band on Wikipedia to see what labels they previously released records with even if they are with a major label now, as some labels have songs from alumni as well as previews for their current roster. Here's a list of some label sites that I have found particularly useful:

Epitaph/Burning Heart
Oddly enough, although the same bands appear on both sites (Epitaph has the rights to distribute Swedish record label Burning Heart Records' output in North America), they don't have the same tracks up for download, so you can collect a few more than usual to try out before picking up a record if you're into bands like The Hives, Refused, Millencolin, Matchbook Romance and The Offspring.

Sub Pop
How my heart crumbled when I discovered that my local HMV no longer sells ex-chart CD singles. Oh well, I was still able to get Balloons by Foals off the label site, so that'll be enough to tide me over until I can get their album. Other artists you may want to check out include Sleater-Kinney and CSS.

This is a French record label, and they have a very good collection of songs for those wishing to find out more about euro-screamo/European skramz/EU hardcore/whatever else you feel like calling some people from Europe screaming while accompanied by delectable guitar parts and raging percussion. A sudden yearning on my part for more bands like Amanda Woodward was dispelled upon discovering this website, which has music by Mihai Edrisch, Raein and many others.

Level Plane
Set up by Greg Drudy (Saetia, Hot Cross), this was one of the first places I went to when I was trying to find more music that could be called "people screaming while accompanied by delectable guitar parts and raging percussion", or hardcore (but depending on who you are speaking to that could be asking for trouble as people do not always seem to agree on what is "real" hardcore). Aside from this, bands such as the aforementioned Amanda Woodward, City of Caterpillar and Transistor Transistor have released records with Level Plane, so you can check them out here.

Jade Tree
There's some great alt rock bands to be found here, such as Jets To Brazil, onelinedrawing, Pedro The Lion and The Promise Ring. Just go and download some stuff now, you'll probably love it.

...In Conclusion:
Yes, it may be possible to just live off free songs, but the point of all this is to introduce you to new acts and encourage you to buy their records. Labels don't give away music for the fun of it. Free music is a good way to find bands you wouldn't have heard on the radio, so go out and support indie acts by purchasing their records if you like what you hear.

Monday 12 May 2008

Jason Mraz - We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things

Jason Mraz
We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things
Release date: 9th June 2008 (CD)
We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things is a bright, breezy pop album perfect for the summer. In terms of influences, Jason Mraz has drawn on various genres, including hip hop, reggae and even opera, which is features on what has to be one of the most ambitious songs on the album, Coyotes. As brilliant as the song is, I can’t help but feel that the ending (which has a curious chorus of children joining in the song) is a bit naff, to be frank. Aside from this, there is an outstanding duet, Lucky, featuring little-known female singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat, whose melodious voice integrates perfectly with Mraz’s vocals. Mraz has also roped in English soul-pop artist James Morrison for a collaboration on Details In The Fabric, which is a beautifully constructed song, showcasing the vocal talent of both artists extremely well.

Being familiar with Mraz’s previous work, it is interesting to see that there are no tracks with quite the same punchiness of previous singles Wordplay and Geek In The Pink. Comparing this album to Mr. A-Z, it is difficult to say that We Sing… is a great improvement. There are plenty of perfectly pleasant songs, yet these lack any kind of real direction to make them chart hits. Despite these shortcomings, Mraz’s latest album is a relaxing listen, a must for any pop fans. Other standout tracks include The Dynamo of Volition and Only Human.

Sunday 4 May 2008

Current Events

This did actually start out as something about current events &c, so I'm just posting to say that I am rather glad indeed that Boris Johnson is London Mayor. Thank goodness Mr Livingstone is no longer in power. It is also rather amusing that Labour only got 24% of votes for local councils and the LibDems got 25%. Ha.

In other news, exams begin in a week's time, so that will be fun. Or not.

This frightful weather is set to continue. How awful. I'm perfectly happy when it is sunny, but the great looming clouds overhead always seem to be present. It's terrible.

As for music reviews, I have been rather lazy on that front. Besides, I couldn't find anything legally accessible online that I wished to review, except for half pof Hadouken!'s album, but what good is half of it? Instead I shall recommend the new Darren Shan book, called Death's Shadow. I got my copy signed yesterday, but it will be a while before I can begin reading it since I am currently supposed to be reading the following:

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney, which must be finished by Thursday for the school Book Club meeting - er.
My Friend Maigret by Georges Simenon, which I must admit I have given up on now.
Spies by Michael Frayn, which is being re-read on account of having to write an essay on the book for an exam, without the book for reference. This is worth 30% of my English Lit AS, I think I should be worried. Regarding Spies, we went to see it peformed as a play on Wednesday, and it was quite excellent. Certainly put the book to shame.
The Swap by Antony Moore, which I also seem to have given up on, hm.
Not to mention a couple of other books which I haven't even begun yet but must return to the library soon. I don't want to be fined.

Monday 25 February 2008

I Was A Cub Scout

Here is my latest review, enjoy.

I Was A Cub Scout
I Want You To Know That There Is Always Hope
18th February 2008
Originally a one-man band with a drum machine, I Was A Cub Scout is now a synth-pop duo consisting of Todd Marriott and William Bowerman. Having released four singles since 2006, the album is finally out this year and the band looks set to make it big.

I Want You To Know That There Is Always Hope showcases Bowerman’s drumming effectively in tracks such as Echoes and Lucean, which makes a refreshing change from similar acts that do not necessarily accomplish this well. Echoes was recently released as a double A-side along with Pink Squares. A special version of the latter was recorded at the New Slang club night in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey. It features, among others, Dartz! and Sam Duckworth of Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. fame. This version can be downloaded from

Although not all the tracks on the album are up to par, highlights on the album include Part 3, an eerie track that has quite a different atmosphere to most of the other songs, We Were Made To Love and The Hunter’s Daughter. These tracks certainly make the album worth purchasing, and on the whole, it is a beautifully crafted success.

It also lives here: