• Leaving Last.fm

    Ago 11 2011, 17:02

    8 years of scrobbling, 55,000 tracks and 4 years with the incredible Last.fm team, it's been a blast, but it's time to move on and do something new.

    It's been a really difficult decision to leave. Last.fm was quite literally a dream job for me and at times a family. I'm proud to have worked on a brilliant product with so many great people. I feel like i've grown up with Last.fm. It's been, and will always be, a big and very happy part of my life.

    I really can't describe how much I've learnt and how much fun i've had, but some of highlights include the ballpit, roof BBQs, Nerf wars, big releases, office music, stats and challenges, but that's still just a tiny fraction.

    What next? Well, a long, and probably wet, weekend camping in Wales. Chilling out a bit and relaxing.
  • Albums i've liked recently

    Giu 20 2011, 23:06

    It's been far longer than it feels since I last wrote a post like this and it makes picking a small set of albums much more difficult. This ended up as a mix of what i've recently discovered and some of my favourites from the second half of last year.

    Baths - Cerulean
    Pretty much my favourite album of last year. Beautiful, lazy, summery, lo-fi, a little glitchy and all-over fuzzy. It's a warm blanket of a record that just makes me smile. It might even come under the heading of "chill wave" too.
    Lovely Bloodflow,

    Austra - Feel It Break
    Canadian electronica with seriously bad music videos. I got hooked on a couple of tracks played at a party and hunted down the album. Bits remind me of The Knife, some others The Organ
    Beat and the Pulse, Lose It

    The xx - xx
    Lastly, an album I'm very late to the party with. But, it is incredible and I wouldn't want anyone else to overlook it. The sound is so utterly precise, not a note wasted or misplaced, everything sounds taught.
    VCR, Islands

    The Glitch Mob - Drink The Sea
    I really like this record, it's epic glitchy/hip-hop that seems to suit any mood, the sound seeping in to gaps. The interesting thing is that everyone i've played it near/to have near-instantly fallen in lust. It seems to transcend taste of musical affiliation, everyone gets drawn in.
    ♫ ...Bad Wings, Between Two Points

    Gold Panda - Companion
    More glitch. Also apparently "future garage". Crackly, static-y, i can't help but associate it with the Baths record (i discovered this after) but it's more upbeat and a possibly a little more eclectic. It reminds me of Jason Forrest in places.
    ♫ ...Back Home, Mayuri

    The Rural Alberta Advantage - Hometowns
    "indie-rock songs about hometowns and heartbreak, born out of images from growing up in Central and Northern Alberta". It's a stomper of an album with some amazing drumming and wonderful stories in the lyrics.
    ♫ ...The Dethbridge in Lethbridge, The Ballad of The RAA
  • The luminaire is shutting down

    Nov 26 2010, 0:21

    Wed, 24th Nov 2010

    It is with sadness that we have to announce the closure of The Luminaire and The King's Head on 31st December. It's been a labour of love for a while now, and at this point it makes no sense for us to continue. We hope to be able to do some final farewell shows, probably in late March, and we'll let you know about those through the usual channels.

    To all those who supported this independent venue, and the great artists who played here, since we opened back on 1st March 2005; you have our grateful thanks.

    We were nothing without you.

    Andy, John and all at The Luminaire

    Well, that sucks. When I moved to london the luminaire was the first venue I fell in love with. The creative director at my old company was friends with Andy, and used to help put on a night there occasionally.

    Dutifully a bunch of us trundled along after work to support it. I was immediately blown away by the venue and the gigs it put on. I ended up spending a lot of time there over 2006 and 2007. Once i'd moved to East London I stopped visiting as much. It was harder to get to and I had a wealth of interesting venues on my doorstep, but I still made it there from time to time - especially for the regular James Yorkston christmas gigs with mulled wine and minced pies. In hindsight I think my music taste had diverted from that which the Luminaire put on, both moving ever slightly apart, I became less interested in the listings, but they were still doing amazing things, just not so-much my taste anymore.

    It was always a groundbreaking venue. It was nice inside, didn't stink of piss, the floor wasn't (too) sticky, there were seats, a reasonable bar and most of all a strict attitude. In later years signs adorned the walls chastising those who would talk loudly through quiet sets "no one paid to hear you talk to your mates, this isn't a pub". It's the right attitude for a venue that actually cares about putting on good music.

    So it's a real shame to see it go, along with Bardens Boudair (which also recently closed). London needs more venues like it and will suffer for it's loss.

    It sounds like there will be some farewell shows, i'll make a point of going to those. It needs a send off. In the mean time, these are some of my favourite gigs i've seen there:

    * Tilly and the Wall, Emmy the Great and Semifinalists
    * The Blow, KES and Death Sentence Panda
    * Youthmovies, Eugene McGuinness and Adam Gnade
    * James Yorkston and The Athletes, David Thomas Broughton and Harpists
    * Johnny Flynn and Mechanical Bride
  • SALEM @ Shoreditch Church

    Nov 25 2010, 23:54

    Wed 24 Nov – Salem, Becoming Real

    While the venue was awesome (and half the reason I wanted to go in the first place) the gig was mostly rubbish. Not helped by it being a) freezing cold and b) on hard wooden pews.

    First up was Becoming Real who's set improved significantly towards the end, becoming a bit more dubstep and reminding me of Hudson Mohawke. However it took a long time to get there, still it's on my list of stuff to listen to more.

    After some time Salem came on and played for a 20 minutes before, what can only be described as wandering off. I know they have a reputation for outsider/awkwardness/whatever but I expected a bit more. The music itself was good, but too quiet and indifferent from recorded versions. I'm half convinced that some of the vocals were mimed/synced, with people wandering around to make up the numbers.

    So, a bit of a shame. I still like the album SALEM, but that gig took the shine off them, for me at least.
  • New Johnny Foreigner t-shirt

    Nov 13 2010, 17:05

    Johnny Foreigner guilted me in to a shirt, but it's OK because I still love them. A US tour shirt to support their upcoming US tour with Los Campesinos. All my existing white band shirts are closer to a sad shade of grey. How could I resist?

    New Johnny Foreigner shirt by David Singleton, on Flickr.

    I have a couple of dozen old band t-shirts that I rarely wear anymore, but am loathe to part with, despite their tatty state.

    I should post more about shirts, they always come with history, be it a show where you bought it or a shared nod with another music lover in the street. Yet I don't think they command the same reverence that records receive.

    They're worn and walked around, seen and commented on by others, they strike up conversations and remind you of times you wore them. Battle scars from points in the history of my musical life. Celebrate them.
  • Albums I enjoyed this last month

    Apr 4 2010, 20:25

    Album Leaf - A Chorus of Storytellers
    The latest album, as beautiful and chilled out electronic instrumental, with lush strings.

    Do Make Say Think - The Other Truths
    From the end of 2009, from the Constellation records school of canadian post rock. The catchy first track will get stuck in your brain.

    Efterklang & The Danish National Chamber Orchestra - Performing Parades
    A performance with The Danish National Chamber Orchestra, track for track, of their album “Parades”. Utterly amazing, one of my favourites out of the lot. Efterklangs usual dark, broody, glitchy electronica backed by a full orchestra.

    Laura Marling - I Speak Because I Can
    Sophomore record by young london anti-folker. A more mature record than her first, sounds a bit more classic english folk and less anti-folk. Good, but I need to give it a few more listens.

    Salem - Yes I Smoke Crack
    The first of two records gloriously described to me as . Dark electronic, shoegaze and dubstep inspired band based out of NYC, lazily described as a My Bloody Valentine in a club run by Lil Jon.

    Sleigh Bells - Sleigh Bells
    Part two of the set. Catchier and more pop than part 1, girl/boy duo where all the tracks are built around a catchy-as-fuck central beat. Already on the hype-train, but this is an awesome EP and my favourite of this bunch.
  • El Boston

    Dic 5 2009, 21:02

    I was recently in Boston for a Music Hackday, luckily I had the time to catch a few bands while I was there. It seems like a town with a pretty good music scene, lots of bands touring through it (a college town thing I guess?). It was also curious to see that a lot of bands were playing venues much smaller than i'd expect, I guess comparing to London isn't that fair.

    El-P @ The Echo Nestival.

    The official gig of the Hack day, put on by the Echo Nest guys. With a surprisingly eclectic lineup, I was very pretty impressed when it was announced. I've been a fan of Def Jux and El-P for a while so it was lucky we arrived before they started. Unfortunately we missed everything before that, except the very last song of Bodega Girls, which did seem quite good (kind of -y.

    El-P was pretty good, but honestly I wasn't a great gig. The venue wasn't that full and the audience wasn't really in to it, the atmosphere felt a bit flat. It was a shame as El-P was pretty amazing, i'd love to catch him in London with a more receptive audience.

    El Ten Eleven @ The Middle East.

    As I was hanging around for a few days after the event and managed to find an interesting gig a mere block from my hotel, score! El Ten Eleven had come up in my Last.fm recommendations somewhen in the last few months, I remember being quite impressed. Pithily described as "Justice meets Tortoise" or "Kraftwerk In The Sky". I had no idea until then but they're also a bit famous for scoring part of Helvetica.

    I also didn't know much about how they played live; 1 amazing drummer, 1 guys with a dual-neck bass/guitar and a loop pedal. The technical skill was amazing, as was the music, just generally impressive. Really energetic and fun live. So good I bought their most recent LP, These Promises Are Being Videotaped. I recommend you check them out too. I'll be keeping my eye out for them touring the UK, i'd love to see them again.
  • December: New records

    Dic 1 2009, 23:03

    60" of musical joy landed on my desk at work today. I really enjoy buying a big batch of records and the ritual of unpacking them when they arrive. Today I opened:

    Two Los Campesinos! 7"s
    One old and one new There Are Listed Buildings and My Year in Lists. Still my favourite band in the world and I'm excited about the forthcoming album. The new track is good, but not exciting as some of the others i've heard, also no B-side (boo!).

    Johnny Foreigner - Eyes Wide Terrified 7"
    Another favourite, and another single from an earlier album. The JoFo album was never released on LP so I feel obligated to collect whatever I can on vinyl to support them.

    Marmaduke Duke - Silhouettes 7"
    Featuring one of the members of Biffy Clyro, but more dancey, proggy and almost a bit funky. Rather fun, need to listen to more.

    Gravenhurst - Flashlight Seasons LP
    The first of two Gravenhurst albums I bought, and the first they released. This album is seared in to my memory as it was one of the few I had on constant repeat on a Minidisc player (years and years ago). It has strong associations with train rides along the coast.

    Gravenhurst - Fires In Distant Buildings LP
    While the previous record is more sad, slow and more introspective, this is slightly more up tempo, but still pretty sad in places. See My Friends (a Kinks cover) is especially good.

    Godspeed You Black Emperor - Slow Riot for New Zero LP
    One of my favourite records of all time. I've been slowly collecting GYBE albums on vinyl for a while, trying to complete the set. Listening to this is an utter utter pleasure, the perfect record for a moody evening.

    Emmy the Great - Edward EP 12"
    I've followed this London anti-folk singer songwriter for a while. I have a signed copy of Secret Circus from a very early show. This is a collection of early songs re-recorded. It's nice to listen to, but also a little sad that the new versions are slightly different from those I fell in love with.

    Late of the Pier - Space And The Woods / Focker 12"
    I'm not a huge LOTP fan, they're good and I wouldn't mind seeing them live, but I only grabbed this because it was cheap. I'm curious to see if the remixes are any good on it.

    And finally, but by no means least I also received...

    Carl Sagan - A Glorious Dawn 7"
    Amazing auto-tuned youtube video/remix [1] of the classic Carl Sagan Cosmos TV series, featuring guest vocals from Stephen Hawking. It sounds awful but it's incredibly well put together musically, visually, and manages to maintain the message of the original series (without mocking it).

    Although this has been a popular meme it's not too surprising it's had the weight to be taken seriously. Jack White's record label third man records released it as a limited edition 7", with an etching of the Voyager Golden Record on the B-side.

    In all honesty, this is a brilliant record. The fact it's found such popularity gives me great faith in remix culture and the power it has. A combination of cheap production/music tools make it easier than it's ever been create music, the internet as a distribution system is unparalleled and it's nice to see a project like this wasn't crushed by aggressive intellectual property protection

    [1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSgiXGELjbc
  • New Records

    Set 27 2009, 14:38

    After a wander up Oxford St. and a rummage through the HMV vinyl section i emerged with;

    1/ Beat Happening - Jamboree (LP, 1988). A band i'm not overly familiar with, though i've listened to a bit of Calvin Johnson and like a bit of lo-fi indie.

    2/ Los Campesinos! - We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed (LP, 2008). One of my favourite bands ever, an amazing album not widely released on vinyl. In fact this was a US import (on Arts and Crafts), oddly.

    3/ My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (LP, 1991). To be played loudly. Perfect noise.

    4/ Laura Marling - Cross Your Fingers (7", 2008). <3 A perfect song for a 7" single. Came with Laura Marling stationary.

    5/ Talons - The Peal (7", 2009). Didn't know the band, but it was released on Big Scary Monsters who put out excellent post-rock, hard-core and math rock.
  • Flickr machine tag cross-link.

    Lug 14 2008, 22:46

    I do <3 machine tags. If tag are web 2.0 glue (urghh), then they're most definitely super glue.

    There are just under 100,000 photos on Flickr that are tagged with Last.fm event machine-tags. This is great because users can just tag their flickr photos rather than having to upload gig photos to us too. I'd rather we stuck to what we're good at, music.

    As of today Flickr now link back to our event pages, hurrah!