Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Happy Christmas!

First of all, a Happy Christmas to you all. It has been so long since I posted here, I'm not sure anyone will read this but Happy Christmas anyway!

For the last few years I have posted a special Advent version of Free Download Friday offering links to free festive music on the four Fridays before Christmas. This year, I managed two Free Download Fridays and no Advent downloads. Sorry. I did, however, collect a few good freebies, so I offer them here as a Christmas present.

1) Joe Bonamassa
Another year, and another Christmas download from Joe. Perhaps not as strong as previous offerings (no longer available, but you can read about them in my previous post) but a new track from Mr Bonamassa is always worth a listen. You can download it from his website in exchange for enduring a particularly bizarre web page!

2) Hayseed Dixie
Thanks to my colleague, Mr Mosh, for this link... I posted a video of Hayseed Dixie back in 2009 but they have never featured in this blog as a free download. But just in time for Christmas, they posted links on their facebook page to two Christmas tracksWhite Trash Xmas is good and well worth a listen but Misty Wonderland Hop is outstanding! Download it now and put it on repeat for the rest of Christmas - you'll thank me later.

3) Roadrunner Records
At a time when free downloads are becoming harder to find, it's great to see that Roadrunner Records is still making tracks available on a semi-regular basis. This year, it looks like the main free download (well, the one featured on the front page of the UK site) is No Presents For Christmas from King Diamond. After a deceptively traditional start, it soon launches into its full metal glory! As well as the this track, they have also "re-released" Black Stone Cherry's Santa Claus Is Back In Town which is outrageously good! The sweartastic X-M@$ from Corey Taylor is also available for free but I'll leave you to find that one yourself. (This is a family friendly blog after all!) Finally, while looking around to see what else is available, I found a track from 2012 that I obviously missed last year that is still available for download: Royal Republic have an acoustic cover of Chris Rea's classic Driving Home For Christmas. The sound quality is a bit tinny but it is still a good track.

4)  For everyone else
I realise that the three sets of download above will not be to everyone's taste, so here are a few alternatives where hopefully there will be something for everyone.

  • CBC's Twelve Days Of Christmas: thirteen tracks to choose from. I like The Little Drummer Boy from Walk Off The Earth and I Believe In Father Christmas from Moist but my favourite by a long stretch is the boogie-woogie piano version of Winter Wonderland from Michael Kaeshammer (see video below). 
  • Paste Holiday Sampler 2013: Fourteen tracks in this one. My favourite is Children Go Where I Send Thee from Nick Lowe but I like the submissions from Otis Redding, Little Hurricane and The Last Bison too.
  • Classical guitar - Craig Ogden: A beautiful version of Deck The Halls.

That's it for this year. Merry Christmas and, in the words of Tiny Tim: God bless us every one!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Free Download Friday #136; Roadrunner Records at Download

After a very long gap, and after my first post in ages on Thursday, I decided it was long past time for a new Free Download Friday.

So, here is another download from the ever reliable Roadrunner Records. As they have done for the last couple of years, they have released a free sampler album with a track from each of their acts that are playing Download this year.

It's brilliant idea, as I've remarked before, and I don't understand why more labels don't do this. Festivals have oodles of bands and it can't be easy to decide who you want to see. So, putting out a sampler to let people who are unfamiliar with your roster hear what your acts are like is a no-brainer. If they like what they hear, they are more likely to go and hear!

The tracks and artists on offer are as follows:
  1. Absolute Zero - Stone Sour
  2. Black Tongue - Mastodon
  3. Bruane Brenn - Kvelertak
  4. Witchtripper - Down
  5. Live It Up - Airbourne
  6. Anastasia - Slash
  7. White Trash Millionaire - Black Stone Cherry
  8. In Due Time - Killswitch Engage
  9. Ghost Walking - Lamb Of God
  10. Chaos Lives In Everything (feat. Skrillex) - Korn
Ten tracks for free. Welcome back to Free Download Friday!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Rush - Clockwork Angels Tour

It's been far too long since I updated this blog but I cannot let the Rush concert in Glasgow last Thursday go by without comment.

Rush, SECC Glasgow, 30 May 2013 by DavidDMuir
Rush, SECC Glasgow, 30 May 2013,
a photo by DavidDMuir on Flickr.
Let's get the obvious out the way first. it was awesome!

I first saw them in concert in 1978 at the Glasgow Apollo for the Farewell To Kings tour and I often cite that as my favourite gig ever but I think Thursday's concert may well knock the '78 concert off the top spot. Why do I say that? Was it the light show? Was it the back projection? Was it the fireworks? Certainly, the shows have become more spectacular as the years have gone by, and the current show is possibly their most pyrotechnic yet, but explosions alone do not a great show make...

With Rush concerts, it's always been about the musicianship... at least, that's what it's been for me. Every time I see them live, I am astonished at how faithfully the three of them reproduce the sounds from their studio albums in a concert setting. Can I say that again? Three of them. On stage. Live! No studio trickery for support. Just three outstanding musicians working together to produce something that many bands twice their size (and nowadays half their age) would struggle to match! But what made this tour special was, not only did we have at least ninety minutes of the three of them working wonders by triggering samples and playing synthesisers with what ever spare limb wasn't already involved in playing their "main" instrument, we also had about an hour of Rush playing along with a string section. And the Clockwork Angels String Ensemble did what I would have said was impossible; they made Rush sound even better than usual!

The set list is embedded below:

As you can see, The Clockwork Angels String Ensemble played for most of the second set, which is where Rush played almost the whole of the Clockwork Angels album, but they also played along with Dreamline, Red Sector A and YYZ. Now, YYZ in particular, I have heard them play live umpteen times but I don't think it has ever sounded better than it did last week with the string ensemble rocking it up behind Rush.

Final Thoughts
As I sat in the SECC waiting for the concert to begin feeling stupidly excited, I thought back to my first Rush gig where I felt just as stupidly excited. What is it about Rush that can make a fat fifty year old man feel like a teenager again? What ever it is, long may it continue!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Academic Research

I did consider seeking funding for Rock related research some time ago (see Hazardous headbanging!) but as usual I didn't go any further than the, "Wouldn't it be a good idea..." stage.

But there is clearly research money out there for those who are willing to bid for it. See for example the wonderful Moshers, Heavy Metal and Emergent Behavior report on the MIT Technology Review site.

In the unlikely event that readers of this blog are unfamiliar with the concept of mosh pits, someone has helpfully defined some rules:

I like the way he describes some mosh pits as "Fight Club with a soundtrack!". (The first rule of Fight Club prevents me from explaining this if you don't get it already.) See also How To Survive A Mosh Pit.

So what do you think? What research idea could I pitch that will convince someone to fund me to attend concerts? If you come up with a winning idea, I am willing to give you a co-author credit on the paper!

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Fun On Friday #135: Rock Candy Funk Party

This is a bit different from other Fun on Friday and I don't think Funky Friday is likely to become a regular feature but here is another free download from Mr Joe Bonamassa.

A visit to the Rock Candy Funk Party web page, a like on facebook and the track is yours to download. Check out the video if you're in two minds:

Really like the drumming and interesting to hear Joe strut his funky stuff. What do you think?

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

New Year Resolution

My musical New Year Resolution this year is essentially the same as last year's. Let me explain...

272/365: Apple of my eyePod by DavidDMuir
272/365: Apple of my eyePod,
a photo by DavidDMuir on Flickr.
Last year, as I copied my collection of Christmas music onto my iPod, I noticed I had 3.5 days worth of seasonal songs. (A figure that prompted one of my fourth years to question why so much since most of it was rubbish!) I also saw that I had just over 52 days worth of music altogether in iTunes. This made me think: "Fifty-two days worth of music and fifty-two weeks in a year. I could do a day a week and listen to my entire iTune library in a year." Of course, a bit of basic arithmetic would have made me realise that there was no way I would manage to listen to 3.5 hours of music a day, seven days a week, but I didn't do the calculations and beginning with A for AC/DC on January first I started to work my way through my music collection.

Now, I knew I wouldn't stick strictly to alphabetical order (for example I jumped to J for Joe Bonamassa prior to going to see him in concert) and sometimes I'd just be in the mood for a particular album/artist, but I still hoped to get a good bit through the alphabet before the end of the year.

I got to D for Dire Straits!

So my resolution this year is to try to get to J or K before the end of 2013. I'll keep you posted.