Archive for the Music Category

2002 – A Hella Good year for music?

Posted in Music, Pointless Nostalgia, Radio on March 5, 2012 by Johnnie

This week, BBC 6 music is a decade old, a fine landmark for a station which almost didn’t make it this far. Thanks to the efforts of listeners and well-wishers, it was saved from the chop, and thank heavens. The station’s birthday celebrations have kicked off in earnest this week and, as these things tend to do, made me look back at the year that was.

2002 was a year that promised so much. Without trying to be melodramatic, I think of it as the year that saved music.

The period from 1998-2001 was, in my humble but strong opinion, the absolute worst time for popular music since it began. I look back at the conveyor belt of rubbish that came along, and break out in cold shudders. Of course there was decent stuff in amongst it, but if you consider that it was an era where supposedly cool people turned to David Gray, Macy Gray and Travis, while Red Hot Chili Peppers became one of the biggest bands in the world, it all looked relentlessly dire. Groups like Muse, The Strokes and even The Hives were touted as greatness when, in fact, it all sounded like laughable mediocrity to these ears. Continue reading

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Dear reader, meet Screenreader

Posted in Music, New Stuff on February 29, 2012 by Johnnie

At the end of January this year, young Cork trio Screenreader released their self-produced debut album Disconnect The Dots.  On first listen, there’s little doubt that it’s a “homemade” record but it doesn’t take long to grow on you.   It’s a charming triumph of aspiration and conviction over quite obvious fiscal restriction.  These are attic recordings with loftier ambitions.  On show are some blisteringly good riffs, inventive arrangements and lyricism that often walks that perilous line between inspired and complete codswallop. Continue reading

Working class heroes?

Posted in Food & Drink, Music, Pointless Nostalgia, TV on January 31, 2012 by Johnnie

A wafer, God’s sake.  For some obscure reason, the shockingly awful song “Blue Riband Blues” is stuck in my head today.  This song, sung by Mike Berry in the 1980s’ commercial, advertised Blue Riband biscuits – lightweight chocolate-covered wafers that were “the very thing”, as my late Granny used to say, to have with a wee cuppa tea.  I remember a few arguments between family members as to how to pronounce it: Rib-and or Rib-and.  I still don’t know where to put the stress – answers to the usual address.

Actually, I hated the advert back in the day but I was a big fan of the biscuits.  Continue reading

Mouse Trumpet – the biggest band you’ve never heard

Posted in Interviews, Music, New Stuff on January 19, 2012 by Johnnie

Even in the age of endless “internet phenomenons”, Mouse Trumpet might just be the strangest band in the world. Well, today, at least. With an aversion to having their songs heard, their faces photographed or their members even named, it’s hard to work out how they intend to achieve their stated aim of being “the biggest underground band ever”. Not that asking them yields any solid answers either.

They are, as far as I can tell, a trio from Scotland, whose music sits somewhere between Section 25 and Chic – or at least, that’s the legend. They described their own music as “Experimental Rhythm Swamp-Twee” but have no music available to listen to anywhere.  It’s difficult, if not impossible, to prove or verify anything.

Their method of ‘promotion’ thus far has been like a game of word-of-mouth pass-the-parcel. Continue reading

The more things change…

Posted in Music on January 11, 2012 by Johnnie

…the more they turn into The Village Green Preservation Society. Continue reading

Michael Kiwanuka? Sorry, but…

Posted in Music, WhingeRantMoan on January 6, 2012 by Johnnie

Call me an old grump (everybody else does), but I’m hugely disappointed that Michael Kiwanuka has come top of the BBC Sound of 2012 poll.  No harm to the boy at all, as he owns a very fine collection of cardigans and jumpers, but his current song Home Again is already a front runner for my most hated record of 2012.  I can’t get to the radio quickly enough to switch it off whenever I hear that delicately picked intro, just so I don’t get to the first foggy-moan of vocal.

Morning presenters on the normally marvellous BBC 6 Music seem to love it (or at least they pretend to) but to me (and those in my vicinity) it’s a vastly unwelcome reminder of dreary, plaintive, pseudo-poetic whiners of the recent past – imagine a computer programme that could meld David Gray, Daniel Powter, James Blunt and the bloke from the Wimax advert into one, and that’s Kiwanuka’s Home Again.  Bilge.

So, another fail for the Sound Of… series?   Continue reading

Jeremys #4: Healy

Posted in Conspicuous Consumers, Jeremy..., Music, Pointless Nostalgia, Shopping, Star "Style" on January 3, 2012 by Johnnie

Fourth in a “series” of short tributes to well-known people called Jeremy

There was a short period of time when Jeremy Healy was a hero of mine.  Back in 1982, before I really knew what clothes were for, I was smitten by a pair of musical designer tramps called Haysi Fantayzee, featuring Jeremy ‘Jeremiah’ Healy and the lovely Kate Garner. I’d never seen donkey jackets look cool on anyone, even Michael Foot, so it was rather a surprise to see these two leaping around on Top of the Pops, strutting a ‘style’ that looked, for about thirty seconds, like it might catch on.  Apart from hits like John Wayne Is Big Leggy and Shiny Shiny, they were famed for this scruffy appearance, their saucy utterings and their penchant for drawing designs on their clothes and footwear using silver and gold felt tip pens.  Heroic! Continue reading