Friday, 29 May 2009

Free Download Friday #12: The Trews

The Trews are a band that followed me on Twitter so I went to have a look at them on Twitter. From Twitter I went to their YouTube page, then to MySpace and finally to their official site. When I checked them out, I was impressed.

Their Twitter feed wasn't exactly enthralling but it did take me to the video for their new single: I Can't Stop Laughing. Enjoyably noisy guitars from the brothers MacDonald and Colin MacDonald, the vocalist, has a suitably gruff edge to his voice that sounds great. The drummer was good too (although I'm not sure about the hat). In fact, the band are all good. They work well together and seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves in this video. I must admit a slight bias to bands that look like they enjoy what they do - much better than bands that take themselves too seriously. As long as the music is seriously good, I'd rather watch a band having fun. Anyway, here's the video:

I especially like the comedy piper and the character drunk tapping the girl on the arm. :-)

Since I liked the video, I found my way to The Trews website where there are two tracks available for download.

The first track for download is Long Way From Freedom which is a track that didn't quite make it onto their new album. It's good though not outstanding, but I gave it three stars on my iPod making it as good as many tracks that have made it onto albums! I hope it's an indication of the quality of the album if this one wasn't good enough to make the cut!

The second track that can be downloaded from their site is Montebello Park from their Den of Thieves album - and it's a belter. I've already given it a good few plays and I think it's the kind of track I'll grow to like even more as I become more familiar with it.

Apparently they are fairly well known in their native Canada but I hope they make a big impact here in the UK too. I will definitely keep an eye on them.

My only problem is the dodgy graphic on the Twitter page and their new album!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

A friend's bands

My wife's friend is in a band... well two bands. Almost by accident, I came across her videos on YouTube. First up is Miss The Occupier.

I saw this band live in April last year and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Somehow, we've never been able to get back to see them again... maybe soon. She has a distinctive vocal style, the lyrics of the songs are often impressive and she's a great bass player to boot.

The second band she is in is called Peter Parker:

I've not see this band live yet but I hope to put that right soon. Certainly I like the sound of this track.

If you like what you hear, head over to iTunes where you can currently buy some Miss The Occupier tracks. And if you like Peter Parker, wait until the 6th of July when they will be releasing Swallow The Rockets.

P.S. I don't get why is MySpace so popular with bands. I don't think I've seen a site yet that isn't pig ugly! How much effort would it take to set up a group blog or a Ning? Not a lot and the results would be so much better. {Rant mode off!} :-)

P.P.S. I should have made the link to the 17 Seconds blog clearer since it was that blog that led me to the Peter Parker video.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Free Download Friday #11: Official Bootlegs

I know that some bands officially sanction concert bootlegs (notably the Grateful Dead). Others tolerate it unofficially and some make them available commercially (e.g. The Music site sells soundboard recordings from Peter Gabriel and The Who). I wish more artists made official bootlegs of their concerts available. I would much rather pay for a recording of a concert as a memento than pay a ridiculous amount for a rip-off tour programme or an official t-shirt.

There are a few sites that make official bootlegs available for download and today's (belated) Free Download Friday features Nugs. There are concerts from a bucket load of bands (including The Black Crowes, Kings of Leon and Metallica) for download that can be purchased from However, they also have a stash of free downloads.

The band I want to feature here is Gov't Mule who currently have seven concerts available for free download from Nugs. My daughter's guitar teacher used to have a sheet outside his shop that claimed the difference between rock musicians and blues musicians was that rock musicians try to perform an exact replica of their album tracks every night while blues musicians try to make every night unique. While they have a southern rock feel, Gov't Mule probably falls into the latter category!

I haven't downloaded all the concerts but the first one I went for was the Beacon Theater shows from the 30th and 31st of December 2002. It should give you a good idea of what they are all about.

Let me know if you have any other recommendations from the Nugs free stash.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

We 7 Responds

I wrote New Music on We7 a few days ago. Interestingly, Steve Purdham, the CEO of We7, stopped by and left a comment. His response is worth a look.

What do you think about what he said? How would you respond to his response?

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Prog Rock Favourites

Classic Rock Presents Prog magazine asked its readers to choose their five favourite prog rock albums. This is the message I sent them:

How can I possibly choose a favourite prog album? - It's too hard and if you ask me tomorrow you'd get a different answer. :-)

I'll give it a go anyway...

Originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
1) Rush - Snakes And Arrows
That the number one choice was going to be Rush was not in doubt but which one to choose? I almost went for A Farewell To Kings - the album that introduced me to Rush many (many) years ago. However, it was the word, the concept, Progressive that swung me to Snakes And Arrows. Here's a band that's been together 35 years but are still producing new and exciting albums. Some reviewers were a bit sniffy about the Snakes tour - complaining that they didn't do enough old stuff and too much from the new album. Numpties! Rush were not doing a reunion nostalgia tour. They were touring their new album. An album they were excited about and wanted to play for their fans. Now that's what I call Prog!

2) Genesis - Selling England By The Pound
Genesis with Gabriel. I could have gone for the obvious and chosen The Lamb but "I Know What I Like In Your Wardrobe" was one of the first singles I bought and this remains one of my all time favourite albums.

3) Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
Again, perhaps not the obvious choice. Why not Dark Side or The Wall? It was tricky but I still remember getting this album with the plastic cover, the stickers and the poster... and then I played it... It still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Brilliant.

4) Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos
Wanted to include some new bands and Dream Theater were an obvious choice. A band that understands their prog roots but delivers with a Metal edge and a rock swagger.

5) Porcupine Tree - Fear Of A Blank Planet
Alex Lifeson plays on one of the tracks. That was reason enough for me to check out this album (see 1 above!). I then went backwards through much of their back catalogue to discover the progression of a truly Progressive band.

So there's five. No Marillion? No Yes? No... There are so many that should have been there but you only let me choose five!

I don't expect many (any?) of my choices will end up in the top ten but today, that's my top five. What would you go for?

Friday, 15 May 2009

Free Download Friday #10: Sponsorship - The Way Ahead?

Following my recent We7 post (New Music on We7) I've been thinking about different models for distributing music. Despite We7's failure to make the advertising supported model of free downloads work, my suspicion is that advertising, in some form or another will continue to grow in importance.

It's already happening to an extent. For example, I mentioned newspaper distribution deals in the We7 post but you also see it in sponsorship deals for concert tours and recently I've come across a few sponsored download sites.

Today I'll mention Feed the Beat - Taco Bell's "Virtual Music Music Fest". Taco Bell doesn't have much of a presence in the UK but I think they are a fast food chain. (Anyone from the USA want to confirm?) It looks like they had some sort of online vote and are currently offering three tracks from the winners as free downloads:
  • Fireflight - Unbreakable
  • Hit The Lights - Pulse
  • Thousand Foot Krutch - Bring Me To Life
I assume that Taco Bell is paying the artists/record companies something for the privileged of offering these tracks for download. I think my favourite is Bring Me To Life but check them out and let me know what you think. Also, advertising supported music distribution - is it really the way ahead?

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

New Music on We7

I liked the original concept behind We7 where you could download tracks with a short advert at the start but a month later, you had the option to download an advert free version. They stopped doing that some time ago and when I asked why, they made the excuse that very few people took advantage of the advert free download so they had decided to discontinue it. I didn't believe that reason then and I still think it's a daft excuse now. I think it's much more likely that they just couldn't get the record companies to buy into the model. Bah!

Now that they've lost this unique selling point, I must admit that I've more or less stopped listening to music on We7. For streamed music I now tend to use Spotify (which has a better interface and more of the music I want to listen to) or (which has a good, established community of users).

However, I've stayed on We7's mailing list and follow their Twitter posts and so noticed a recent development. They have been advertisong that you can listen to new music on We7 before it is available to buy. For example, you can listen to the new Green Day album, in its entirety on We7 just now (prior to its official release) and they've teamed up with the Gruniad to let you listen to Jarvis Cocker's new album (again, prior to its release).

I thought this was interesting for a couple of reasons. One is the tie in with a national newspaper. Papers have been giving away music CDs (and films on DVD for that matter) for a while now. By distributing through a site like We7, the paper can get the kudos (and I assume they hope extra sales) that come from giving away music without all the hassle and expense of packaging and distributing those pesky little silver disks. Papers seem desperate to attract younger readers which has produced some strange bedfellows (e.g. the Daily Mail giving away a Prince CD). So perhaps another reason electronic distribution appears attractive to the papers is they assume "the young things are doing it already" and so, by providing a streaming music service, they hope to be seen as hip and trendy. (The fact that I use a phrase like "hip and trendy" shows how far out of touch I am, so the last point may be nonsense.)

The second reason I think it's interesting is the change in business model it implies for We7. I guess the record companies like it because they don't have to give away something (i.e. a CD) that fans can keep and do with as they will. The companies can let fans (and potential fans) hear new material for free but can still reasonably expect that people who like what they hear will spend some money to buy it. In other words, We7 has gone from an innovate new way to deliver music to fans (while making money for record companies) to a glorified advertising mechanism for record company product. This makes me sad.

However, perhaps I'm being unfair. Certainly my daughters say that I am now officially a GOM (a Grumpy Old Man) so maybe that's too cynical a view. We7 have to make money somehow if they want to say in the business of giving access to a wide range of free, streamed music. If this allows them to keep growing and developing so that they can go back to more innovative distribution methods in the future, maybe its worth it.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Twitter: Take 2

I posted a few days ago about music related users of Twitter (Musical Twitters). Following this post a number of bands sent me messages and/or started following my Tweets. Good on them! This shows an understanding of how the whole Twitter thing works and deserves to be rewarded. So here they are listed below. They are not all my cup of tea and I haven't followed all of them in return but I felt they deserved to be noted somewhere for their effort. :-)

4Hours: These chaps were the first off the mark and sent me a message that linked me to their website. I like their site. Good visual identity and smart logo. They describe themselves as a "funk rock trio". I must admit to being partial to trios (in particular Rush). I think the fact that there are only three musicians means there is no room for passengers - everyone has to pull their weight.

thelostofficial: These guys (or this guy?) was next to get in touch - again giving a website where you can hear samples of their/his music. The MySpace account lists Rush as an influence which is a good sign. :-)

Then some people started following my Twitter updates:

soundzeroband: Theses guys claim Led Zeppelin as an influence. Check out their website for more details. (And note - another trio!)

rock_music_: Not a band but a campaign. However they seem to be using Twitter to post music news.

And last (for the moment) but not least:

theauroraprjct: A progressive band from Holland who describe themselves as sounding like Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree - impressive role models! They link to a website where you can find out more about them and hear some of their stuff. They deserve a special mention for a tweet that links to a free download of a track, Photonic Reunion, and for sending me a message to say thank you for following them. They suggested I review their music which I intend to do in a future post (and future tweets of course).

So well done to all these chaps for being on the Twitter ball. Any other groups want to reveal their Twitter presence?

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Dream Theater Competition

I told you about the free download of the Dream Theater track in I know it's not Friday.... It was only available from the Roadrunner Records site for twenty-four hours but last night I got an email encouraging me to pass it on. They are want everyone who gets a copy of the track to add a pin to a map saying where they live. Everyone who puts a pin in the map is entered into a competition to win CDs and other goodies. They say:

To enter the competition click on the image below and pin where in the UK you're from. Then help spread some ‘Black Clouds & Silver Linings’ by sending the track to as many of your friends and asking them to add their location/details as well.

We will then put all the people that have “pinned” the map into a prize draw.
So if you missed the twenty-four hour download period but want a copy. Let me know and I'll send you the track. And if you want to enter a competition to win a bucket load of prizes, go to the map and add your pin.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Virtual Concert Lighter

Just saw this on the Classic Rock Magazine site:

An iPhone App that turns your phone into a virtual lighter. :-) So, if you want to wave your lighter in the air at the next concert you attend remember- safety first!

Free Download Friday #9: Turtlehead covers Overkill

Today's download is from a band you may not have heard of because Turtlehead are a band that "lasted about 30 minutes". :-)

The download is a cover of Overkill by Motörhead and comes from the blog of one of the chaps who host Talking Metal. Why should you be interested in a cover by a band you've never heard of and that you'll probably never see again? If I tell you who is in the band, perhaps that will pique your interest:
Mark Strigl (Host from Talking Metal) – Guitar
John Ostronomy (Host from Talking Metal) – Guitar
Frank Bello (Anthrax) – Bass
Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth (Overkill, The Cursed) – Vocals
Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) – Drums
If you skipped over it, go back and check the drummer again. :-) Mike is on fire in this track. This is a live recording and he just powers through it. Bobby Ellsworth bows out exhausted after the second or third reprise :-) however Frank Bello manages to keep up with Mike (with perhaps one stumble) and it feels like everyone is hanging on for grim death as Mr Portnoy drags them in his wake. Everybody's game is lifted. A thoroughly enjoyable romp!

You can read a bit more about the Overkill cover in the Mark's blog entry or you can check out the video from the session on YouTube.

Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Musical Twitters

It has taken me some time to come to terms with Twitter. It seems such a daft concept ("The messaging system we didn't know we needed until we had it." - Biz Stone), it is full of banalities ("Just had a banana and some chocolate. Everything right with the world again !" - Jonathon Ross) and yet, I find it strangely compelling ("I think I need to think it out again!" - David Muir).

I now (reluctantly) find it an extremely useful educational resource and it is occasionally fun. Recently, I have started to follow some music Twitter users. I thought I'd share some of the people I've started following and see if anyone has any suggestions about other people I should add.

First a few artists and bands:

Joe Bonamassa
: Current tweet is about Eric Clapton and Paul Jones joining him at the Albert Hall gig. How brilliant would it have been to be there?

Chris Cornell
: Not as rock 'n' roll as I'd hoped he might be but what a voice... still following him but he's under review. :-)

Trent Reznor: News, info, fun... I like. :-)

Razorlight: A bit basic. Another one that's under review.

Stereophonics: I am in two minds about the Stereophonics as a band. I have most of their CDs but don't choose to listen to them too often. Odd. However, their Twitter feed has loads of photos and gives a good insight into what they are up to.

The Reasoning: One of a number of sprog prog bands I'm beginning to get into. However, the Twitter feed is a bit too "I had cornflakes for breakfast..." for my taste. Yet another that's under review.

Slash: Slash on American Idol... I can't get my head around that. A bit basic on the Tweet front but I'm sticking with him.

Finally, and more briefly, some magazines, radio shows and music Twitterers I follow: Classic Rock Magazine, Classic Rock Presnts Prog, Rock Radio (good station but Tweets haven't really settled down yet), Talking Metal and Afront (a Spotify blogger).

That's a few of the music related Twitter users I follow. Who have I missed that is worth following?

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

I know it's not Friday...

Download a full track, A Rite Of Passage, from the new Dream Theater album. (And have a snigger at Mike's blue beard while you are there.)

This one only lasts 24 hours (less now because it's already about halfway through) so go... now!

Friday, 1 May 2009

Free Download Friday #8: Duff McKagan's Loaded

I wasn't sure what I was going to do for my first Free Music Friday since I had to stop posting to make time for study. Also, as I've already mentioned, Jeff set the bar pretty high, so I wanted to re-start with something that was good. I think I've managed both quality and quantity!

Originally uploaded by Samuca Matata
Last night as I was mowing the lawn, I was listening to the latest Classic Rock Podcast. Among other things, they had an interview with Duff McKagan (of Guns n' Roses and Velvet Revolver fame). He seemed like a good chap... well apart from some gratuitous naughtiness - his is the only bit that needs a parental advisory. :-) ...But apart from that, he seems like a good chap. For instance he said some good things about Axl Rose and how he was always open to lyrical and musical ideas from the band. Also, he refused to be drawn into slagging off Scott Weiland which I thought was impressive.

What prompted this post though was news of one of his (many) side projects - Duff McKagan's Loaded. They have recently released a new album (which is available for download to subscribers to eMusic) but the previous album, Dark Days, is available as a free download. That's the whole album! For free. Excellent!

It's a very good rock album with a strong opening track in Seattlehead which really growls along (I do like a growly guitar). Another stand out is the title track, Dark Days. It's a belter - as menacing and brooding as the name suggests.

Do you like rock music? Then give it a go!

P.S. I was quite please with this download but when I went to check, as usual Jeff got there before me! Maybe one week I'll find something he hasn't already posted. :-)