12 May 2008

It's all so quiet...

This week, and some of next possibly, I'm going to be working on getting Musical Chairs off blogger and onto its own domain name. Subsequently, posts may dry up a bit whilst I focus on all of this. Be assured though that my gig reviews will still be posted as soon as the gig has finished and all that. But yes, in case you wonder why the posts aren't as regular, there's your reason.

Ultimately, I think it will be worth it and it will lead to a much better website for the user (i.e. YOU!). See you on the other side folks, and enjoy the sunshine outside.

9 May 2008

British Sea Power save Guilfest

I thought that the Sunday at Guilfest was looking pretty dire for a long time. A tribute act headlining and Cerys Matthews making an appearance made me want to vomit. But one band has saved the day from being a disaster:

British Sea Power

I've been a fan of these guys for a while and really liked their 2005 album, Open Season. The beautiful, atmospheric and dreamy soundscapes with quirky yet charming lyrics made it a fantastic listen. I do like their current album, Do You Like Rock Music?, but I prefer the former. Their live shows have always been ones to watch and I look forward to them not only appearing at Guilfest, but also headlining the second stage.

Guilfest is part of something I'm dubbing a Trio Of Festivals over one weekend in July - Wireless, Redfest and Guilfest. Expect mass coverage on each festival as I see a wide variety of acts. Some good, some bad, and some really dodgy local talent courtesy of Guilfest.


Early Muse demo surfaces

Of all the music that's been released this week, the most intriguing has to be, by far, an early set of Muse demos. These nuggets of gold were recorded in 1996/1997 at Newton Abbey, and showcase their early grunge-like roots and Matt's hysterical iffy vocals. There are some never before heard Muse songs like Falling With The Crowd and Boredom, an early version of Showbiz album track Sober and some b-sides from the Showbiz-era like Ashamed and Jimmy Kane. There's no way that any of this material would give clues as to the Muse that currently are a monstrous force to be reckoned with in 2008, but, if you're a big fan, this is worth a listen purely for the fact that this is the earliest original recordings of the Teignmouth trio available.

The demos are available to download from Muse fansite, Muse Live.


7 May 2008

Coldplay - Viva La Vida

The title track from Viva La Vida has hit the Internet via pre-orders for the upcoming album on iTunes. And do you know something? It's brilliant. This is not the same band that was yearning on previous albums, and certainly not the same band from the stinker that was X&Y. Energetic strings amongst a thumping bass drum. Some of Chris Martin's better and more imaginative lyrics including the exclamatory "long live the king." It's official - Coldplay have turned optimistic. And all the better for it - this song has renewed my eager anticipation for the album and confirmed my fears that Violet Hill really is a weak choice as the first proper single.


One third of 2008

This year has already been one of considerable entertainment in many forms. As we are now, quite stunningly, already a third of a way through 2008, this is a good to take stock and share my highlights of the year, this far.

Radiohead played their smallest gig for the best part of a decade at 93 Feet East
The Cribs teamed up with Johnny Marr
Nine Inch Nails released not one but two albums
Muse released HAARP and played a show that was arguably better than HAARP at the Royal Albert Hall
The Astoria faces an uncertain future
The Cure played for eternity at Wembley Arena
65daysofstatic played a blinder of a set at the Indig02
I bought a rare Feeder vinyl
Portishead released the darkest single of 2008 so far
A pig got lost in the Coachella desert

And there is still more to come for the rest of the year. Along with the gigs listed on the right hand side of the blog, Musical Chairs will be moving out of Blogger and getting a place of its own! Hopefully that will be at some point at June.


6 May 2008

Odds & Ends for 6th May 2008

Other bits and pieces from this sunshine-filled/hayfever ridden day, depending on what suits you the most.

Radiohead kicked off their world tour last night in West Palm Beach, Florida. If the setlist they did last night is an indication of their upcoming tour then Victoria Park could be as triumphant as I wished it to be and a whole lot more. Nearly all of In Rainbows was played along with Bangers & Mash off the discbox CD, a lot of material from OK Computer and a smattering of material from OK Computer and The Bends, including the surprise return of Bulletproof...I Wish I Was. Full report of last night is on At Ease and they'll be doing live updates for the rest of the tour, providing the site doesn't break down. Wherever they go there will always be one texting like a mad man/woman.

Coldplay are about to embark on a 'major marketing strategy' later this month in the run up to their upcoming 4th album, Viva La Vida. This is according to manager Dave Holmes. He also adds that it will be 'pretty significant'. What could it be? An ARG similar to the Year Zero experience? Who knows. What is also planned is a release of material from the Viva La Vida sessions that didn't make the album (ala Radiohead...not the first time either).

Some Oasis demos for their long-awaited 6th album have been leaked onto the net. Three of them have been sneaking around and one that I've listened to is Nothing On Me. What can I say? It's Oasis. The same Oasis guitar sounds, the same Liam Gallagher sneer...same old same old. Can't say I'm quivering in excitement.


Variable Pricing...what the hell is it?

Warners Music Group are trying a new tactic to erase all memories of a torrid few years financially (just like the other majors) - something known as 'variable pricing'. A deal with Digonex Technologies, a company based in Indiana who have been pushing this idea for some time, will allow the major label to pilot a program for the albums it releases digitally. Details are a bit wishy-washy and it's not really known whether or not major artists on the label will take part. What is being promised though is that consumers will have an affect on the way albums are priced.

One question remains though - what is the true definition of variable pricing in this context? It basically means that the prices of songs/albums could change frequently dependent on consumer behaviours in order for the company to find what is being described as the 'sweet spot'. This includes things like how long the music has been available for, what the demand is for it and so forth. But even whilst typing this out, I keep thinking to myself 'this really isn't going to be that different from the way music is priced at the moment.'

Even though this is a very experimental idea and aspects of it could change, I don't think this could ever work in a mass retail sense. For one, iTunes, 7 Digital, Napster and so forth will not want to change their standard charges for albums, since they have their own principals when it comes to business. That and there's also the age old problem of stopping illegal downloaders, which it won't.


Interview with The John Steel Singers

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you'll have probably seen my post bigging up The John Steel Singers from Brisbane, Australia. If you liked what you heard then you'll be pleased to hear that today, which is appropriately sunny and hot and all summer-like, we have an interview with them for you to read. Topics for discussion include their band name, the influence of Triple J and why the music scene down under is so damn good right now.
Max: Perhaps the most unoriginal first question in an interview ever - how on Earth did you decide on a name like The John Steel Singers?

John Steel Singers: It came to Tim in a dream, apparently he had been watching a lot of Starsky and Hutch and had a dream about being in a detective duo with a guy called John Steel, John was a mixture of all the great crime fighting figures of the 80's. Chuck Norris's hat, Tom Selleck's moustache etc. He also had the mane of a wild stallion and a penchant for Cubans and carrots. And a great singing voice. Tim has some disturbingly erotic dreams.

M: What music did you grow up listening to and made you want to be in a band?

JSS: My father has a horrible collection of M.O.R. Country Rock records. Thankfully I didn't absorb too much of that because I was always disgusted by it.

M: You've been compared with an eclectic bunch of musicians - from Johnny Cash to The Beach Boys. Do you find it odd and/or flattering to be compared to such historical artists?

JSS: Both for sure, the Beach Boys are a favourite of everyone in the band so to be compared to them, although it seems highly inconceivable to me, is flattering as hell.

M: You're heading out on a Triple J-associated tour (The Flying High Tour). How much does the backing by Triple J really help a band like yours?

JSS: It has been really awesome… The support they have given us from our earlier demos has taken us from nobodies to well…occasionally known bodies. It is quite amazing just to have the Triple J drum logo on our tour posters.

M: What other touring plans do you have after The Flying High Tour? Is there any ambition to play gigs overseas?

JSS: Hells yeah!! If all goes to plan then we'll hopefully make it off this god forsaken land sometime next year… But its just in dream format at the moment, no formal plans have been made… We'll be spending the rest of the year touring around our beautiful country and doing our best to not have regular jobs.

M: I understand you've just re-released your EP as a mini-album in Australia. Are they any plans for a full-length LP?

JSS: Hells yeah!! The super secret plan is for another EP in a couple of months and then a full release closer to the end of year… But that's super secret so this email will self destruct 10 seconds after being read in full… Of course if you just skip one word then the self destruct beacon wont be activated… But that's super secret so this sentence will self destruct 10 seconds after being read in full… But if you skip one word then disaster will be diverted.

M: How would you best describe the music scene in Australia at the moment and what bands would you recommend?

JSS: The music scene is joyous… since spell check didn't flag that word I'm assuming that its real so I'm sticking with it.. some great local bands are Cloud Control who we are doing the Flying High tour with and also Yves Klein Blue who hail from Brisbane as well. A Sydney band called Richard In Your Mind have released an album full of wonderful psychedelic tunes and if you happen upon a Cuthbert And The Nightwalkers song you are guaranteed to grin like a fool.
You can listen to tracks from their mini-album, The Beagle And The Dove, on their MySpace.


5 May 2008

A footnote

Some of the comments I get are downright bizzare, especially lately with some of my album review posts. I've had a few posts with links to download the album on such sites like Rapidshare (which happens to be the most popular and shitty file-sharing site in the universe). What I found even more funny today was that someone decided that even though The Slip is a free album download, I could download it through a file-sharing site.

God bless the Internet.