Archive for October, 2009

October 31, 2009

Morrissey scare adds a healthy dose of interest

After Morrissey collapsed at Swindon leisure centre last weekend with breathing difficulties, it seemed that the former Smiths man may have to finally slow down and take a pause from his recent touring frenzy. The last few years has seen him unleash countless albums – although many are compilations or reissues – and commit to a constant touring regime. So much so that Morrissey of late had become a bit too ubiquitous – spreading himself thin and turning off all but the partisan fan.
That was until last week when Morrissey collapsed in Swindon – sounds like one of his song titles.   Many could see this as the start of a new chapter – reclining into the Hollywood hills and returning to the reclusive lifestyle that served him well for the good part of a decade.

Much to everyone’s surprise he reappeared just 2 days later at The Royal Albert Hall to continue his tour. An incredibly quick recovery for someone who was too unwell to stand up just 2 days before!   It can only be one of three things:  he has marvellous powers of recuperation, he will battle on for the sake of his fans and honour their loyalty, or he felt his diminishing concert sales and media interest were on the wane and needed a shot in the arm.   The fact that he joked about his Swindon collapse at the Albert Hall suggests Morrissey’s self-obssession could have led him to engineer such a madcap stunt.  Surely not?  No one would crave publicity that much, would they?   The poor reviews from the Royal Albert Hall performance offer contrary opinion.

October 28, 2009

The new wave maps out its progression

With the decade of the noughties hurtling towards its conclusion it’s now that every music journalist, critic and record exec will look back and trace the musical path of the last ten years, with the return of the art-rock – synth infused – punk ethos of new wave under considerable discussion.   Since it returned to our shores it has engulfed every popular music genre with its thirst for groove and its desire to surprise.

The real beauty of this burgeoning scene is its ability to hijack other sounds and perfectly integrate them into its evolving palate.    New wave could be tenuously linked to the late 60s with experimental outfits like the Silver Apples – sonic scientists & musical magpies in search of the ultimate spaced-out groove.   Although the real birth of the new wave movement is commonly associated with the late 70s to early eighties and beyond, with bands such as Talking Heads, Television and Blondie.

The recent plethora of bands tagged with the new wave sound has featured a diverse range of acts that straddle many popular musical genres – including pop, indie, dance and even folk.    Many of the current artists owe much of the recent divergence to James Murphy and his DFA label – who led the way forward with a hybrid sound of punk, electro, rave and funk at the beginning of the decade.  Many of the current crop of new wave artists have melded their own particular detached influences into the present zeitgeist of synth-based pop to recreate a constantly evolving montage, which categorizes the core essence of New Wave music.

Following the new wave template for synth based hybridisation is Maps: aka – James Chapman.   Performing at Cargo in London on Monday night, with his touring partner August, the sheer scale of influences, sonic exhilaration and underlying groove highlighted the adventurous nature of  new wave.  Many of the songs were played from his latest album – ‘Turning the mind’ – an album of cathartic symphonies about healing the soul and psyche.   There were many influences on display, most notably the melancholic  drone of Spiritualized mixed with the euphoric washes of the shoegazing period, set closer ‘Valium in the sunshine‘ converged this sound to dizzying effect.    Songs like ‘Let go of the fear‘ and ‘Love will come‘ displayed more of a dance floor vibe – all heavy synths and lifting beats.

Maps showcased the progressive and adaptable charm of new wave – with the ability to reinterpret the synth -based sound to incorporate new influences and tastes in the world of electro, house and shoegaze while charting out a new course of discovery.

October 9, 2009

Reading Festival in trouble as Glastonbury sells out

The fate of our two most beloved and iconic festivals couldn’t have had a more contrasting week with the fortunes of Reading going up in a puff of smoke!
The last few weeks has seen Reading festival face accusations of poor sound quality, fire-related safety problems and now a fine for breaching the health and safety rules in a separate incident back in 2006, involving power lines, a crane and a couple of electrified workers!

Anyone can see when visiting the Reading site that it is mis-managed and poorly staffed.   Having 80,000, mostly adolescents, running around fuelled by alcohol and testostorone inducing hard rock, committing mayhem with no apparent supervision or regulation is like a lighted keg waiting to explode!  How has it got to this?  We are now in an age of state control CCTV, health and safety overload, bureaucratic – red tape – regulatory officialdom, where everything has to be insured and accountable!  Just look at the high security standards strangulating Glastonbury now and one can only beggar belief when examining Reading’s apparent regulatory carte blanche.  

Festival Republic has  interests firmly in both festivals with an ever increasing stake in Glastonbury.  So it is probably a combination of contrasting councils and the personalised atttention to detail that Eavis brings to his own festival.  Although surely the wealth of experience that Melvin Benn and Festival Republic possess with festival logistics is about as vast and knowledgable as it is humanly possible – they practically run most of our major events including Latitude and now the Big Chill?    It was also Benn who Eavis turned to in his darkest hour of need back in 2001 to help save the festival from over-zealous council safety regulations.  Glastonbury was comprimised but ultimately saved from extinction with the new super fence and an increased security presence.  At the end of this decade of festival blow out it is now Reading that requires the help of considered and compromised planning!  With Glastonbury selling out astonishingly 9 months before the farm gates open it confidently strides into the next decade revitalised, leaving its nearest rival to wait for the smoke to clear.