Sunday, 22 March 2015

Rockin' and rollin'

Rock'n'roll is a popular music genre that emerged in the 50's. It holds some interesting dual elements: joy and pain, good and bad, sex and religion... It's an unlimited source of inspiration for modern music and speaks to people of any cultural, historical, social background.
Rock'n'roll is a blend of various musical genres (folk, country music, jazz, gospel, blues...) and has developed from social and musical interactions between both white and black communities in the early 20th century, when after the civil war, the americans were subject to hot topics like immigration, slavery and racism.
In the map below, the regions in dark red are part of the "Deep South" or referred as the "Cotton States" where African-descended peoples comprised the majority of the population, in the mid-20th century.

During this period, the black americans had a fervour for gospel music that was sang in churches and for blues music that they sang while working in various corn fields and cotton plantations. Music like gospel and blues were a spiritual and creative outlet, a remedy to ease their pain against labour, injustice, inequality and was often despised by the white community.
On the other hand, you had the white american folk & country music.
Rock'n'roll has been shaped up by these various musical styles. Sister Rosetta Tharpe is one of the precursor's of rock'n'roll:
The term "rock'n'roll" has both religious and sexual connotations. While "rock" refers to disturb, being shaken in a spiritual way, "roll" refers to having sex. Remember Elvis sexy dance move in "Jailhouse Rock" or Jerry Lee Lewis, known as "The Killer", stamping his feet and shaking is blond locks above the piano. Jerry Lee Lewis was one of the early pioneer of rock'n'roll music:

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Playlist one!

Here's a little selection of small, independent bands mainly from the UK. A mix of alternative, garage, punk.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

What makes a good festival?

1- The weather
Warm if possible. Blue sky and sun. No to mud and rain. Stop pretending you're having fun. Alcohol was the only way to make you forget this terrible weather and now we make fun out of you.
The less you carry stuff the lighter the dance move, the easier the body contact and the better reaching the front of the stage without feeling like stepping into an overcrowded and angry train station. Also, while you're high on something, your super duper waterproof jacket could end up missing. At least when it's sunny, you'll just loose a flip flop but that's ok, because wandering barefoot on dry land feels fucking great. When body travels light, mind does too.

2- The size
Small. Because small makes you feel cosy and relaxed.
Bye to the bouncers shouting at you because you're standing next to the VIP corner. Small festival save your time and allows you to wander around without getting lost. No corporate-looking festival booklet leashed around your neck with an infinite list of stages and time slots. We're here to enjoy music and have fun right? Since when festival has become an airport terminal? The band hasn't even finished playing that you've already your eyes on the next one. 30mn set, ticked. Changeover. Walking to the next stage, adding up an extra 10mn...
Small gives you enough time to see each bands and hang out with your friends.
Small means you don't have to worry about the signal you've lost on your phone and the friends you've lost between food stall 2, toilet cubicle 20, stage 5 and cider bar 15 because in a small festival, you'll see them every where, anywhere, standing on the corner of the stage, having a chat with this amazing band you bumped into last night and who was offering you some poppers on the beach and you could offer them to play boules in the following afternoon.

3- The line-up
Pressure and high expectation given to the purveyor of eargasm, the highly skilled, well organised festival managers, booking agents, promoters. They better be open minded, eclectic in their choice of music and must have excellent taste.
A good intuition is helpful. Which bands would fit this type of festival? It's kinda similar to writting a storyline, finding the right bands is like communicating the right message to the right people. Much effort and organisational skills needed for tailoring something good.

4- The performance
A festival needs musicians that can give you a little more than 5 very neat tracks. We are not in school listening to our teacher's multiplication tables.
Improvisation, positive attitude and charisma on stage are essential. So I guess, it's their ability to communicate something and exchange with the crowd. Don't let them fall asleep.

4- The people
A good crowd depends on the elements stated above. Weather, size, soundsystem, line-up and great performance that make us connect all together... and also the fun, flexible, music lovers friends. Let the magic happens!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

"Let it happen" again and again.

I've got my ears stuck on Tame Impala's new single with lots of euphoria, like an octopus covering your tuba mask and agitating his tentacles, stealing the fun of your holiday trip. The Australians are back with a track that is about 7'50" long. It ends while your mind is still hanging from above the algae. I kinda wished this was going on forever and now I want more.

"Let it happen" is an introduction to Tame Impala's new album which will be released sometime this year and is following the critically acclaimed album "Lonerism". 3 years after "Lonerism", it sounds like they are taking a different and exciting direction with an emphasis on electronic and repetitive rhythms, a much more straight forward sound which slightly differs from their previous materials where the guitars were producing some interesting, experimental almost organic stuff with the use of the pedals, fuzzing the space with sonic sound.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

12 hits wonder

Flora And Zephyr, 1875, detail, William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Delicate chords and seductive melodies, sleek composition and minimal production... The London duo Oh Wonder has a collection of enchanting, addictive love songs. They will release their first album (a collection of 12 songs) in September and will play at the ICA London on the 16th of September. Until then, they are releasing one track each month. I'm curious to see where this album is going to lead. I have the feeling that they will be heard quite a lot in a couple of months time... Until then, I'm inviting you to enjoy these tracks and perhaps go and see them at the ICA which will be intimate and cosy:

Friday, 6 March 2015

All night, afloat

"Michael A Grammar" is the title of a song from the band Broadcast.
It's also the name of a band itself but to avoid confusion with their pals London Grammar, I'm going to give you a bit more details about them.
Signed under the Mancunian label Melodic Records, it's the kind of band that I don't want to share with anyone, like when you choose a meal that has some strange ingredients in a restaurant but it turns out super tasty and you want to keep it all for yourself. Sometimes (but rarely) I discover a band and I feel like I won the lottery. Michael A Grammar is certainly a winning bet.
I discovered them last year with their debut album but haven't had a chance to see them live yet. Their sound is quite specific to a certain era (post-punk, shoe gaze, psychedelic...) but like a pasta bolognese recipe, Michael A Grammar has nailed an authentic sound and they do it with style.
The drum roll along with excited crescendo, upbeat snares. Sometimes, the guitar venture alone in a hazy, fuzzy and distorted world and the subtle bass settles everything together. The sound slowly unfolds like a smoke in a bright and airy room which gives a sense of plenitude.
Have a listen to the first track "Upside Down":

"Don't Wake Me" finishes up the album:
If you enjoyed this, I would recommend (in no particular order): Joy Division, the Stone Roses, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Tame Impala, My Bloody Valentine...

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

A palace, in the middle of a bucolic countryside field

The cold Winter is dragging, your hands are as dry as the corner of your feet and there's not much happening outside so you start observing the naked trees and counting the few plastic bags that are hanging above them.
They kinda look like lonely sails on skinny masts...
We're wanting for fun time gigs and outdoor festivals action aren't we? While we're waiting, let's just sit back, close our eyes and imagine that Spring is coming along with Palace.
This London based quatuor makes me want to lie on the fresh grass, while smelling blossoming flowers. Cheesy yeah, what's wrong with a bit of tenderness?
They released a beautiful EP called "Lost in the night" under Beatnik which is a collective that focuses on designing beautiful artworks for various bands/artists signed and managed under their own independent record label.
Palace, with their slow-tempo tracks, drifts me away when I feel overloaded. It's bluesy and has a delicate touch of folk.
Ocean Deep


Monday, 2 March 2015

Kaleidoscopic sounds

Neon Indian's music is like bumping into care bears in a psychedelic dream saturated with fluorescent colours. You don't know what's going on, it's hazy but rather pleasing.

They are aiming to release a new album this year. I discovered them back in 2011 with "Polish Girl" and "Fallout" from their second album "Era Extraña".

"Fallout" is such an underrated track, some sort of hybrid between Jesus & Mary Chain and Chromatics :