Tag: rock

3WW by alt-J

Friday, 12 May, 2017 0 Comments

First thing, the band’s name. It’s alt-J, which is stylized as ∆. The band was formed in 2007 in Leeds by Gwil Sainsbury, Joe Newman, Thom Green and Gus Unger-Hamilton. Their symbol is delta ∆, a letter used in scientific study to indicate “change” or “difference”. On some Apple Mac keyboards, it can be typed using the sequence Alt+J. There is no Windows code for delta, but the HTML entity ∆ creates it on webpages.

In March, Alt-J began teasing their third studio album, Relaxer, on social media with a clip captioned “00110011 01110111 01110111”, which translates into “3WW”. It’s a meditative, mystical piece with hints of English folk and echoes of The End by the Doors. The chorus concludes with the plea, “I just want to love you in my own language.”

David Bowie (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016)

Monday, 11 January, 2016 0 Comments

“And I’m floating / in a most peculiar way / And the stars look very different today.” — David Bowie, Space Oddity. With his command to “Silence the pianos and with muffled drum,” and his request to “Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come,” W H Auden is appropriate for this dark day on which a great star has gone out. Rest In Peace.

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W H Auden

It’s just a shot away

Saturday, 11 April, 2015 0 Comments

Released in 1969, Let It Bleed is one of the greatest of all rock albums, but if you’re looking for flower power, move on. That whole hippie thing was a hoax, say the Rolling Stones as they bury the Sixties with the standout track Gimme Shelter, a primal scream of mayhem that Keith Richards composed in 20 minutes, allegedly.

The guest vocalist on the 1969 album was Merry Clayton and her place was taken on tour by Lisa Fischer, recently of 20 Feet From Stardom fame. In this 1995 performance at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, Lisa Fischer is very much the star, however, despite the initial intrusion of Jack Nicholson. Hat tip to Ian for the loan of the album.

Southern music

Saturday, 11 October, 2014 0 Comments

They’ve been described as too country for rock and too rock for country. Blackberry Smoke, from Atlanta, Georgia, blend folk, bluegrass and blues into what they call “southern music.” Their next album, Holding All the Roses, is due early 2015.

Timber Timbre

Saturday, 3 May, 2014 0 Comments

There’s a dark thread of sleaze running through the songs of Timber Timbre on their latest album, Creep On Creepin’ On. The Canadians have sifted their way through the lode of blues, rock and folk and emerged with nuggets like “Hot Dreams”, “This Low Commotion” and “The New Tomorrow”. Vocalist Taylor Kirk sounds very like Nick Cave here.

Street Fighting Man turns 70

Wednesday, 18 December, 2013 0 Comments

“In late 1966, Keith Richards was hearing things. The Rolling Stones guitarist and songwriter had in mind a series of strong, bluesy chords and a melody line based on French police-car sirens. But he couldn’t quite reproduce the way he envisioned it sounding—dry and crisp, with a ‘garage’ feel. Then he purchased an early Philips cassette tape recorder and, using an acoustic guitar, created the basis for what would become ‘Street Fighting Man.'”

So begins a splendid article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal last Wednesday in which Keith Richards spoke about the origins of Street Fighting Man. In honour of Keef’s 70th birthday today, then, here’s a memorable 1976 recording of the classic song in which his direct, incisive Fender Telecaster playing is at its best.

“You’re sitting with some guys, and you’re playing and you go, ‘Ooh, yeah!’ That feeling is worth more than anything. There’s a certain moment when you realize that you’ve actually just left the planet for a bit and that nobody can touch you. You’re elevated because you’re with a bunch of guys that want to do the same thing as you. And when it works, baby, you’ve got wings. You know you’ve been somewhere most people will never get; you’ve been to a special place.” Keith Richards, Life

How does it feel to be on your own?

Saturday, 23 November, 2013 0 Comments

In all, there are 16 television channels to be surfed, from “The Price is right” to Pawn Stars. Others include a classic rock, a news and a sports station. There’s even video taken from a CCTV camera showing the pained victim of a mugging singing, “How does it feel…?” It’s Vania Heymann, the 27-year-old Israeli viral video director of Like A Rolling Stone, the latest visual masterpiece from Bob Dylan. This is not the first time, though, that Dylan has merged music with film to challenge convention. In 1965, in the “Dont Look Back” documentary by D.A. Pennebaker, he performed Subterranean Homesick Blues while flipping cue cards with words from the lyrics as the song plays. The potential of the music video clip was revealed and now Dylan is pushing the limits of the medium again.

Like A Rolling Stone is one of the most important of Dylan’s works and one of the greatest rock songs ever written. It tells of a young woman from a good family who immerses herself in the counter-culture of the 1960s but then falls from grace. As she questions her choices, Dylan appears ambivalent about her dilemma. It’s hard to tell if he has pity on Miss Lonely or is secretly pleased with her distress.

“Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people
They’re drinkin’, thinkin’ that they got it made
Exchanging all kinds of precious gifts and things
But you’d better lift your diamond ring, you’d better pawn it babe.”

Ho Hey say The Lumineers

Saturday, 24 August, 2013 0 Comments

Based in Denver, Colorado, The Lumineers could be seen as a kind of belated Rocky Mountains response to the hugely successful folk rock of Mumford & Sons, but while the British band was formed in 2007, the two founding members of the Lumineers, Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites, were already performing together in New Jersey in 2005. In 2010, Neyla Pekarek joined The Lumineers and she was followed into the lineup by Stelth Ulvang and Ben Wahamaki in 2012. “Ho Hey” is not to be confused with “Hey! Ho! Let’s go!” made famous by The Ramones.

Language note: The expression “hey-ho” first appeared in print in 1471, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, which says it has nautical origins, meant to mark the rhythm of movement in heaving or hauling. Over time, it merged meanings with the similarly spelled “heigh-ho,” which was first recorded in 1553 and is defined as an expression of “yawning, sighing, languor, weariness, disappointment.” In 2006, hey-ho made it into Urban Dictionary, where it’s defined it as “a word used when something has not gone according to plan, to dispel one’s feeling of disappointment.” Example: “Oh, we’ve just missed the bus. Hey-ho.”


Saturday, 5 January, 2013 0 Comments

Este, Danielle and Alana Haim are Haim. The trio of Californian sisters, who are being compared to Fleetwood Mac, have just topped the BBC Sound of 2013 new music list. The band’s songs mix layers of contemporary R&B rhythms with ’70s rock and ’80s synth-pop. “Haim have an unapologetic passion for music that shines in their songs,” said BC Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens. “They’re brilliant musicians who have a real talent for tunes that merge their tales of growing up in the 21st Century with a classic songwriting ability.”

The Maccabees sing Pelican

Saturday, 29 December, 2012 0 Comments

Orlando Weeks, Hugo White, Felix White, Rupert Jarvis and Sam Doyle combine to comprise The Maccabees, an indie rock band from South London. On 9 January this year, they released their latest album, Given to the Wild. The first single released was Pelican and it was one of the best pop songs of the year.

To have it all and still want more
One things for sure we’re all getting older
So we take a lover waiting in the corner
Before you know it, pushing up the daisies

TOY band

Saturday, 6 October, 2012

The Guardian described the music of TOY as “excellent… recalls some kind of late-80s/early-90s jam session between Stereolab, Felt and Pulp.” Formed in London by singer/guitarist Tom Dougall, TOY are Dominic O’Dair (guitar), Maxim Barron (bass), Charlie Salvidge (drums) and Alejandra Diez (keyboards). Together, they’re giving psychedelic rock a good name. This is magnificent.

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