Archive | January, 2008

Bands from far away – come to the UK !

23 Jan
The world of the internet has opened up may newer resources for discovering bands. Simply google a few of your favourites and following links can often lead to new band ideas (not via the amazon.co.uk recommendations though, which whilst interesting to one or two degrees generally ends up recommending everyone would like “the killers” and whatever is in the charts that week).

But now I’ve followed the links, surfed some “MP3 blogs” – blogs like mine that track free download tracks of new bands, such as http://www.thecatbirdseat.com, read some indie review sites like http://www.pitchforkrecords.com, seen what others are listening to via their last.Fm profiles and maybe even played with some web2.0 music players such as the computer game like theSixtyOne. And from all this I now have a selection of bands I want to hear more from… but without the required level of fame, they don’t want to play in the UK yet… because they are still fairly small bands.

This makes me more aware than usual of the gulf between bands who “have made it” and “are trying to make it”. There doesn’t appear to be a smooth curve, or gentle steps up those rungs. People have herd mentalities as my girlfriend’s father often tells me, and with musical taste it is true. Not that this is a band thing, it helps define our “tribe” when we are young and gives us common interests at work and means we can go to cheap nightclubs and gleefully dance to shameful music, because we all know the songs and can dance to them together. But freeing yourself from the cycle really offers rewards – only then are you really into “music” for music alone, and it’s a shocking world of discovering what quality works of music are relatively unheard outside of a few towns, despite the music being wildly more fun, accessible and tuneful than more famous artists of there genre.

But I digress from what was to be a “list post” – bands that should come to the UK, and until then, deserve your support 🙂

Belguim – Hooverphonic, dEUS
Australia – Howling Bells, Little Birdy
USA – Jonathan Coulton, Over the Rhine

Well, that’s all I can think of. But anyone spotting UK gigs by these bands should contract me at the usual address !

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Second xmas

21 Jan

Xmas comes but one a year… unless you bugger off around the planet for that special day, and come back a few days afterwards. In which case you get… Second Xmas !!! This joyous occasion was special for Mimi and I as we got to show off our little flat to my family as well as exchange presents for a second time of the year. And of course it’s all about what we got other people or what they got us, as all the other pressies had been swapped already.

Let me catch myself there and assure all readers that the joy is definitely in the GIVING and not the receiving. The picture taken here was we full of joy at all the giving I had done, and certainly not just in the receiving of my new awesome Wii game.

Back from the future (+11 GMT)

14 Jan
I’m back from Australia, but must admit the “wonderment” of being on the other side of the world didn’t come through as it did with the round the world travels. Mostly this is probably due to us not actually leaving the city of Melbourne – most of the trip was devoted to seeing friends and Mimi’s family, and where it wasn’t, it was devoted to sitting about doing blissful, sweet nothing (well, playing games on my new PSP, which pretty much equates to the same thing).

It was great meeting the aunts, uncles and cousins who up until know had been merely a character in a couple of anecdotes. It was also particularly nice to meet up with old workmates and friends from my last time over there. And finally it was great to play a lot of Guitar Hero and drink plenty of Aussie beer. I also got a chance to play through all of Half-life : Portal, which I now declare to be the best game made for the PC since, I dunno, Doom ?

So now back at work and pushing through some new years resolutions type stuff. Trying to push back hard on the weight and fitness again – last year got me almost two stone lighter, but those were the two easy stones I think ! Really hoping to battle my way down to 17 stone the start of this year. Fortunatley, my exercise regime has evolved now, such that I have cycling to work (2-3 times a week), the gym (trying for twice a week, but…), yoga on Tuesdays and practice runs at the weekend when Jon and I are both available. Hopefully by the time the 10K run in May comes around, I’ll be in a good place.

Along with the yoga, I signed up for a brief creative writing course. Hopefully out of this I can develop a few writing ideas I’ve had rattling around for a while, and at least “give it a go”. The only failure is not trying 😉 Simliarly, a stand-up comedy course I finally took is beckoning me to trying out a stand up gig just the once. Not sure I’m advertising that one just yet though.