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!


  1. great blog ;D and great news ;] following +1

  2. the police are one of my favorites! and so are octopi :b
    you've got another fan!

  3. Glad to see Tears For Fears getting a little much-needed respect.