Saturday, 27 February 2010

Free Download Friday #47: We Are The Fallen

We Are The Fallen are a new(ish) band and I like what I've heard from them so far. Their only problem is, they are a band who will find it difficult to escape their past. If you don't know where they've come from, listen and see what you think. If you do know their history, pretend you don't and try to listen to them without prejudging.

In exchange for signing up to their mailing list, you can download an acoustic version of Bury Me Alive. This, however, is not a stripped back, unplugged version, but is a full on, string heavy production. I like it!

If you want to hear what they sound like in full on rock mode, their official YouTube channel has a video of them performing the same song live:

{Sorry I'm late again, I'll try to be better next week.}

So what do you think? Do you want to hear more?

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Music for TeachMeet

Details of TeachMeet Student Edition - Glasgow 2010 have just been posted on the TeachMeet Wiki. Not an obvious topic for a music blog you might think but last year I started a Spotify list of educationally relevant tunes, e.g. School's Outby Alice Cooper and ABCby Jackson 5.

I was looking to extend the list for this year's TeachMeet and school related puns seemed to be one way forward. So far I have come up with the following:
  • Welcome To The Blackboard Jungle - Guns n' Roses
  • Let It A Be C - The Beatles
  • Getting Belter - The Mammas and The Papas
  • Teach Out And Touch - Dianna Ross
Now, you have to be able to better than that!

Friday, 19 February 2010

Free Download Friday #46: Joe Bonamassa

I think Joe Bonamassa is one of the greatest Blues guitarists working today. And he produces new albums with alarming regularity... at least it's alarming for my bank balance. :-)

Joe has a new album out on the 22nd of March called Black Rock and he has made a track from it available as a free download. The track is called Blue And Evil and it is a belter!

The track seems well named as right from the opening acoustic section, it sounds dark and brooding with an interesting Eastern sounding influence too. A good slice of Blues that becomes heavier and rockier as it gets under way. Sections remind me of a Led Zeppelin riff - and that's a good thing!

If the rest of the album is half as good, it will be a must buy for all Blues and Classic Rock fans.

The download can be accessed from Joe's website where there is a fairly obvious link at the top of the current newsletter. Following the link will take you to the site's store where the track is on sale for 99 cents. But panic not, add it to your cart and then Continue to the Checkout. On this page, you will see the track still listed as costing 99¢ but under the table is a box where you can enter a "promo code". Enter the code from the newsletter, i.e. BNE2010, click Update and then Checkout. All being well, you will see a 99¢ discount has been applied.

Download and enjoy!

Go to the newsletter, follow the link, choose to buy the track and enter the promo code to get track for free.

P. S. After you download the track, they send you another email with a link to a 30 second clip of another track from the album.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

When Musical Worlds Collide #5

There has been a bit of a fuss recently because Mary J Blige has recorded a cover of Stairway To Heaven. (See for example Circle of Fits - where Seano is clearly a bit miffed, so his language is not entirely safe for work!) To be fair to MJB, she did recruit a few people for the recording that ought to have been able to bring some rock kudos to the project, however, I haven't heard her version yet, so I will reserve judgement... while fearing the worst.

As a result of reporting the news of Mary's meddling with a classic, a couple of sites have compiled a list of rock crossover projects that I'm going to plunder for this post. :-) Unlike previous When Musical Worlds Collide posts, this one will feature collisions that I am far from impressed with!

First, Classic Rock magazine had a news item titled: Ten Pop/Rock Crossovers That Worked – Or Didn’t! However, from their comments, it is clear that they think most didn't! Honourable mentions are given to Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen on Beat It. However they are less than impressed with Metallica and Mariah Carey.

Next Rock Radio had two items counting down the ten worst cover versions: Worst-Ever Cover Versions 1-5 and Worst-Ever Cover Versions 6-10. Of the ten they list, I'd like to offer the following two as the worst of the worst covers. First is Shakira's Back in Black:

Stunning isn't it? She is completely incomprehensible at times and why she is prancing about barefoot isn't entirely clear. I especially like the bit where she shouts "Everybody..." at her bemused audience.

I have a long standing problem with Celine Dion. I once complained to a music store about the way they organised their CDs. I told them in no uncertain terms that I do not consider Celine Dion to be Easy Listening. (Thanks to Arnold Brown for this joke!) It is almost too easy therefore to dislike Celine Dion's version of You Shook Me All Night Long:

The air guitar at the start and the attempt at a duck walk are utterly cringeworthy.

However, don't get me wrong. If a song is good, it should be able to cope with people covering it in unusual ways. If an artist tries to bring something different to a cover, drawing on their strengths rather than trying to copy the original, it can work. That's why I particularly dislike the two shown above. They make the mistake of trying to rock it up like AC/DC instead of doing what they do best (what ever that may be). Therefore, I disagree with at least one of the covers on Rock Radio list:

I think Tori Amos has at least tried to do something different with the track - to do it in her style rather than Nirvana's. And I'm in two minds about Westlife doing More Than Words. It's not my cup of tea at all but they've done with it what Westlife do - they've made it safe and mum friendly.

In conclusion, I think we rock fans can get a bit precious about things. I don't believe that Stairway to Heaven is such a classic that it should never be touched. As long as the person covering it brings something new and interesting to the table, I don't see why they shouldn't give it a go. As Exhibit A, I offer you Rodrigo y Gabriela:

And as Exhibit B, Rolf Harris:

"All together now..." :-)

  1. What, in your opinion, are the best and worst rock cover versions ever?
  2. Am I wrong about Stairway To Heaven? Should it remain untouched?

Friday, 12 February 2010

Free Download Friday #45: Peter Gabriel

I gave the link to the Download To Donate album a couple of weeks ago (see Free Download Friday #43: Music for Relief - Haiti Earthquake). If you didn't download it then, go back and have a look fright this minute! Since I first announced it, they have added four new tracks, so it's even more worthwhile now - especially since all money donated is going to Haiti Earthquake relief.

At the time I raved about Peter Gabriel's track. Since then I've been listening to the New Moon podcasts where he talks about the projects and plays snippets from the album. It sounds great and I'm looking forward to getting it and the follow up where the people he has covered will return the favour and do something with one of his tracks.

Having whet my appetite with the podcasts, I was even more pleased to see news that The Guardian is previewing the whole album online. Brilliant.

And if that wasn't good enough, they are also offering one track as a free download.

So, if you want to get Flume by Bon Iver, head over there now and download it while you can.

The comments on the Guardian page make interesting reading. Most, like me, really like what he has done but a significant minority clearly don't get it and just complain how depressing it sounds.

So where do you fall? Are you in the "Gabriel's a Genius" camp or to you tend more towards the "Peter: it's all a bit Painful" side of things?

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Warner Music goes backwards!

I was extremely disappointed to hear that Warner Music is going to stop licensing their music to free streaming services. How bizarre!

Bugs Bunny
Originally uploaded by Mreh
The BBC report says: Warner retreats from free music streaming. I think an extended quote would helpfully illustrate their thinking.
"Free streaming services are clearly not net positive for the industry and as far as Warner Music is concerned will not be licensed.

The 'get all your music you want for free, and then maybe with a few bells and whistles we can move you to a premium price' strategy is not the kind of approach to business that we will be supporting in the future."

What approach does he support then? The one that almost drove the record industry into the ground? I thought that the music industry was beginning to get it's head round the way the digital world worked and were at least starting to see the potential in making a little money on each transaction from a lot of music (in the digital world) rather than making a lot of money from a little music (in the world of CDs). I can't make up my mind if they are burying their heads in the sand or running about like headless chickens.

Also, what on earth does "net positive" mean? Is that "net"as in net profits or "net" as in Internet? Either way, the statement doesn't quite make sense to me.

I get a bit more confused as I read down the article. It seems that Edgar Bronfman Jr from Warner music is happier with paid subscription services; it is advertising generated revenue models that he seems to dislike. Is that because with an up front subscription payment, they will get a slice of the money just for making their music available whereas the advertising supported model depends on people actually listening to their music? This is not a rhetorical question. I am genuinely unsclear about why he favours the subscription model (other than because he somehow thinks it will generate more money).

XFM, reporting on the same story said Mr Bronfman, "...doubted their [i.e. free streaming services - DM] ability to provide a sustainable alternative to how the industry works currently." This implies the current business model currently works!

What do you think? Advertising supported music more or less works for radio stations, why wouldn't it work for music streaming?

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Dommin Acoustic Set Review

This is a long overdue review of the secret Dommin acoustic set I saw last week (see Rock Radio Win for details). I've already posted a bit of this response on the Dommin website but thought it was worth cross-posting here and expanding slightly.

Dommin live
Originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
As I said in the Rock Radio Win post, at first I didn't have any confirmation that I had won, other than hearing my name on the radio. No text. No phone call. Just a name. However, I needn't have worried because, as Billy Rankin said when he announced the winners, Lisa contacted me on Friday to tell me the time and location of the performance. It was to be in The Box in Sauchiehall Street. (I know a joke about Sauchiehall Street... but it's so bad, I probably shouldn't tell it.) I'd never been to The Box before but it turned out to be a wee narrow room with a stage at the entrance end that was just perfect for the type of gig Dommin put on.

When I arrived at the venue, there were about half a dozen people already there and we stood outside in the freezing cold for a while waiting for the doors to open. We didn't have to wait long though before they started to let us in. The problem was my pal Tom had a bit of trouble finding a parking space, so I got to the front, checked my name was on the list, but then had to wait outside for Tom to arrive. I saw pretty much everyone as they went in and, although I was worried that I'd be much older than Dommin's usual audience, that wasn't a problem for this event. (Probably says more about the demographic of Rock Radio listeners than it does about Dommin!) The Rock Radio people have posted some pictures of the event, one of which will give you an idea of the make up of the audience! (I'm the numpty in the t-shirt at the front of that photo.)

Kristofer Dommin wrote a bit on their night in Glasgow on the band's website. He said:
"The audience seemed to really enjoy it. I always feel like the acoustic performances are something special."
Speaking as one of the 30 or so people lucky enough to be invited to the acoustic set, I can confirm that it was indeed "something special"! Clearly he was worried about his voice but as far as I'm concerned he sounded great - perfect for the small venue. I loved the informal nature of it all. For example, Kristofer's reaction when he realised he hadn't plugged in his guitar for the first song, or the banter as Konstantine wrestled with the keyboard before they could start Dark Holiday. Brilliant! And it was great to speak to them afterwards. (Although the lady from Roadrunner was clearly worried that we weren't going to let them get away!)

There was a bloke who was there with a boy of about 14 (father and son I assume - see the Rock Radio photo and draw your own conclusions). My pal Tom pointed out the look on the boy's face as he walked out the venue clutching the signed card - he couldn't have looked more chuffed! Clearly a satisfied fan and the event probably confirmed him as a lifelong supporter of the band.

It was such a great night, it seems petty to make two complaints... but I'm going to do it anyway. :-) First, it was too short and second, it was a shame the bass player and drummer couldn't be there too. It should be clear therefore, since they are my only complaints, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

I've posted a few photos from the event on Flickr and Rock Radio had published a few of theirs. (The last four of the Rock Radio photos are mine, - which is brilliant!)

I'm looking forward to the UK release of Dommin's album.Have you checked them out yet?

Friday, 5 February 2010

Free Download Friday #44: Dommin

I thoroughly enjoyed the Dommin acoustic set on Tuesday (see Rock Radio Win for details) and I really meant to have a review posted before now... maybe next week. :-)

Dark Holiday
Originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
It seemed appropriate therefore to link to the Roadrunner Records' site where they are currently offering Tonight as a free download. It's a love song... of sorts... I think... but with a dark and brooding under-current.

That's the only Dommin track I can find for free download but they are currently streaming other tracks from the forthcoming album. (Well, it's forthcoming in the UK; it's already out in the USA.) So you can stream:
  • Love Is Gone: The title track from the album which is apparently about lost love... but does he protest too much?
  • Dark Holiday: Dommin said at the acoustic gig that it was a Doors inspired number which I can't say I'd noticed before but I can see it now. I think this one is interesting because the tune is almost jolly but the lyrics are really dark. Probably my favourite.
  • Honestly: Pain, angst, lost love... they are not described as a Goth band for nothing. :-)
Kristofer's vocal style really reminded me of someone else but I couldn't work out who... is he a bit like David Sylvian from Japan? Have a listen to Ghosts and tell me what you think.

While you are looking at Roadrunner Records' artists, you might just have time to download Get Busy Living from Airbourne... but it's only available for 24 hours, so you'll have to be quick.

Tonight by Dommin
Get Busy Living by Airbourne (if you're quick)

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Official Name Change

After the previous post, comments from readers and a minimal amount of thought. I've decided to change the name of this blog. I made a temporary change earlier in the week (see Music Musing: What's in a name?) when I decided I couldn't stand Music Musings any longer. Thanks to a suggestion from Amanda, I've now decided to go with Feedback.

Not only is this the name of an albumby Rush (the greatest band in the world) but it has connections with the noisy rock music that I like and also suggests the importance of comments to a blog, which is something that I would like to work on here.

So what do you think? Feedback. A good choice?

Monday, 1 February 2010

Music Musing: What's in a name?

I was never entirely happy with the name of this blog. Music Musing always sounded a bit twee. My problem is, I couldn't come up with anything better at the time.

Axl Argentina 92
Originally uploaded by Cuenta Chiste
Against my better judgement, I decided to change the name. Goodness know what this will do to subscribers, feed readers etc. but I decided to go with it anyway. Unfortunately, the best I still can't come up anything better. I've gone for Muir's Music Blog at the moment, but I'm hoping on of the two or three people who read this blog can come up with something better... assuming you can still find it with he new name.

So what do you think? What should I call this blog?

P.S. Is the link between the picture and the title of this post too obscure?