Saturday, 21 January 2012

La Ciel Chromatique part 1

This was one of the things that came up when I
tried to apply for a job online. And they say the
internet makes everything easier.
So right after I whined about not being able to join a band, I managed to jam with a friend a couple of days after my last post. The whole thing was a completely spontaneous exercise and allowed me live a little and get drunk. It's highly unlikely that anything will come of it band-wise, but at least I know that I've improved since my last interaction with other musicians. And it's back into full swing with the job hunting too. I won't bore you with the whole process. But application websites have been a malfunctioning mess and the people I hand out my CV to have proven to be little better. Although I force myself to leave the flat at least once a day, I have been trapped inside my room with unlimited (yet pretty dodgy and slow) supplies of glorious internet. This is an environment perfect for twisting a pleasant little hobby into an ugly and anti-social obsession, and my love for music has turned into just that.

So this week, I've decided to talk about my favourite music discoveries of last year. The first tHIING (Oh absolutely swell, my caps lock is buggered, fucking piece of shit) I would (oh hey it's back to normal) like to say is that I have no idea if I'm ever going to be a music writer. I love writing, and I love music, so naturally the topic often pops up in my blog. But after reading sites like Pitchfork, my faith in music journalism has decreased significantly. Half the time these plebs spend the review talking about how horrible it was that they spilt their soya mocha latte (complete with ironic marshmallows) over their skinny jeans, and how horrible it is that they have to be paid to listen to more music and daintily tap in a few sentences into a macbook (I'm not the biggest fan of Apple products). Alright, so that was a bit of an exaggeration. But I'm unsure if I'm cut out for the whole thing. I've had people say
"Hmmm, yeah, your blog was good...but I kinda skipped the music parts..boring..."
"Don't write about music"
But also
"...solid review!"
And I've also had someone softly hold my hand, looking into my eyes over a plate of roast parsnips, saying
"Your blog...all of's amazing...I wish I could write like you"
And although some of those stories may have been exaggerated a little, they are based on real things people have said, and it shows that reception to my music reviews is mixed. Oh well too bad, this what you are getting anyway. You can skip the rest now. You know who you are.

Hesitant Calamari blog banner '72
Okay, I've decided to split this up into two blogs. This first list is of music is some stuff I discovered last year that wasn't actually released in 2011. If that makes sense. The second part will contain my favourite stuff actually released in 2011, and it might not even be my next blog entry! Woah!

5. Gentle Giant - Octopus
Referring to the 8 songs that make up the album, Gentle Giant's 'magnum opus' pops up in many essential album lists for progressive rock. However, Gentle Giant are quite often swept aside in favour of prog titans such as Yes, Rush, Jethro Tull, and Emerson Lake & Palmer, which is very unfortunate. The band show an amazing display of musicianship without too much guitar wankery other bands of the time were susceptible to. The harmonized vocals are extremely fun and can be insanely clever at times. A must if you like progressive rock or metal.

4.Wire - 154
Reminds me of a painting I made. When I was 3.
I stumbled upon Wire's fantastic debut Pink Flag a couple of years ago, and stupidly ignored every other release by them. 154, along with Chairs Missing, has an eerie, anxious energy. On the opening track, 'I Should Have Known Better' Bassist Lewis thuds away manically, and upon him darkly muttering "In an act of contrition..." you know what you've let yourself in for right away.

3.Tears for Fears - Songs from the Big Chair
Featuring three massive hits, this new-wave album should be a throwaway eighties pop affair. But it isn't. It can do dark and ambient ('Listen') and it can do raucous and energetic ('Mother's Talk', 'Shout'). It's another moan about the nuclearwarthatneverhappened from some limp wristed ninnies, but Roland Orzabal has one of the best voices of the eighties and the music itself is exceptionally well crafted.

2.Test Dept. - The Unacceptable Face of Freedom
Having heard nothing of this band before seeing them on a music forum, I decided to take the plunge and give them a try. This early industrial act made use of scrap metal in their percussion, but rather than bashing objects at random in an avant-garde fashion, a great deal of effort was put into creating pounding, intimidating rhythms. The band also uses a wide variety of strange samples and instruments, but probably the most notable thing about the album would be how scary it is. Fuck the Sex Pistols or System of a Down, I've never heard a band where political viewpoints come through as raw and as harsh as this. Brutal and shocking without any signs of a scream or a chugging guitar, this album is fantastic. If you use this sort of thing as chill out music, then you are officially a psychopath.

1.Leonard Cohen - The Songs of Leonard Cohen
In 1967, before the release of his debut album, Cohen was asked
"Aren't you a little old for this game?" Mr Cohen, now 77, is continuing to tour and is releasing his latest album at the end of the month. Finally listening to his music last year after a request for a Leonard Cohen song came up at the hospital radio, I struggled to compose myself when 'Suzanne' finished. For someone that usually finds 'folk' music incredibly boring, Cohen's bitter tales of fragile minds and loneliness reach out and fill the mind with clear images and emotions. The classically inspired guitar work is a complete inspiration.

Alright, I've made up a little playlist showcasing some of the bands I discovered/rediscovered this year, and it's available to download right here. Here's the track listing too, and please remember that it's a zip file so you'll need winrar/winzip/whatever.

The Replacements - The Kids Don't Follow
Gang of Four - At Home He's a Tourist
Test Dept. - Fuckhead
Tears for Fears - Mothers Talk
Hurts - Wonderful Life
Animal Collective - Grass
The Police - Miss Gradenko
Wire  - I Should Have Known Better
Gentle Giant - The Boys in the Band
Leonard Cohen - Avalanche

These tracks were not chosen because of similarities of genres. Some are happy pop songs, others are a brutal mess. You have been warned. Part 2 coming whenever.

What I'm currently listening to > \Alog - Unemployed/

Thanks for reading/listening!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Name of this band is

I've been away for a looooooong time, so this is going to be a looooooooong entry. Got a wonderful Christmas present from my boyfriend - a record player! Call it outdated, but the quality of vinyl is fantastic, and I can't help but love the artwork. Raiding charity shops for records has now become an interesting past-time. Stepping into a shop the other day, I found out that Bruce 'Die Hard' Willis had a musical career. I promptly handed the single to the girl at the counter. Her face crinkled up in confusion as she observed the record.
"This is a really big CD, you know that? Do you have a really really big CD player?"
Yep, those are my shoes. Yep, that's
Europe. Yep, that's Bruce Willis.
Work also decided to not keep me on a permanent contract. So I'm going to be doing pretty badly for money in a few weeks. But at least I still have my soul intact. I also had a wonderful party to celebrate my 'happy vagina escape day' and I saw the 'Iron Lady' today. I didn't really care about it enough to do a negative blog review, but it taught me that being old will be like getting high - people who aren't there appear in your room, you move more slowly than usual, and you don't have a fucking clue what is going on.

I've wanted to join a band for quite a while now. I love listening to music far too much, and I've been playing the bass for about 2-3 years. And in actual fact I've attempted to join two bands. On both occasions I never went back a second time. In the most recent case, I responded to a ad from a soft rock band that needed a bassist. Without dressing it up, they scared me shitless because they knew what they were talking about when it came to writing and performing music. Needless to say I shat myself, ignored their e-mails and never saw them again.

But my first attempt at joining a band was slightly different. I remember being at my parents for the summer, bored as fuck. So I decided to look up band adverts on different websites. I was quite sad at this point. Sad as in pathetic, because I often just looked at ads, fantasized myself joining that band, never replying. That day was a little different, because some post-punk band that were influenced by Joy Division wanted to start a band. They were only a couple of years older than me. Not only did I love Joy Division like a little puppy (a depressed little puppy that sung about isolation and death), but their bass lines could be played by absolutely anyone. I couldn't deduce much more after phoning one of the guys, bar the fact that he had an extremely thick Glaswegian accent, but we nevertheless met up the next day. We took a train to a part of the city where the number of abandoned buildings and wasteland increased with every stop. He turned out to be very pleasant and interesting to talk to. I told him about the music I liked and the music festival I'd just been to. He told me about their cocaine loving lead guitarist who may or may not be in the band after disappearing without  a word for the last few days and how they'd stolen half their equipment. I thought he was amazing.

"Haha, no there's eh...there's? There is, haha, nothing
wrong with? With! With me, I'm just a little...tired"
Everything looked very promising for the first couple of hours. I was able to play with two other people pretty well. They seemed amazed that I could play Rock the Casbah, and I was amazed by the fact that they could actually write songs. There was no mumbo jumbo I couldn't understand; they simply pointed to the notes I had to play and talked me through it. Things started to deteriorate a few hours in, when I realised I wasn't used to playing for a long period of time at all. My fingers gave out during the songs, and the booze we were all drinking really wasn't helping matters. After that I remember getting very high. I remember them putting me on a couch and getting worried because I laughed without stopping for about half an hour. And I remember getting a bag of marshmallows, and reassuring my mother that I'd be home soon over the phone. It was probably one of the best days of my life. It's a shame they didn't give me another chance, because we got on well and I could have improved. Oh well.

Joining a band, or at least, doing something musical is one of my aims this year. I'm not quite sure what it is, but I better start making a decision soon rather than leaving it to fate. Thinking about it, I've only got about two months of rent + living money so I better get shit sorted then. However, I have some Turkey Dinosaurs in the oven, so it can wait for the time being.

What I'm currently listening to > \Veckatimest - Grizzly Bear/

Thanks for reading!

P.s - I'm on twitter now (@ squidcereal)