Westfield’s Music Cube

This is an interesting new take on music in public spaces. Westfield shopping centres in London and Stratford will be unveiling soundproof glass Music Cube’s which will host gigs throughout the second half of October. Customers will be able to listen in through supplied Sennheiser headphones while the floor underneath them will vibrate as if they are in a normal live venue.

The first artist will be MNEK while the rest of the bill is open for voting on Facebook. Each 30 minute show will be streamed online too, as well as through Westfield’s WiFi network (perhaps for if they run out of headphone?)

Sure it’s reminiscent of Silent Disco, but bringing music into new spaces in innovative ways is always good with us.


John Peel Record Boxes

So the John Peel Archive have been adding Peel Sessions for a while, but we’ve been waiting pretty eagerly for the beginning of the promised digitisation project of Peel’s fabled record collection, and now it has begun. Interestingly, the Archive have chosen to do this in a way that is as informative as it is entertaining. By bringing in guests to select records from the collection that they love, and that resonate with their life, the Archive hopes to explore the cultural context of the collection and the music contained within it.

It’s a wonderfully accessible project. Peel’s own record sleeves have been photographed, words put together both by the Archive and by their guest contributor, and Peel’s vinyl has been digitised so you can hear what it’s all about. Even better, you can read it all if you’re dipping in and out or you can take 25 minutes to watch a video with the contributor and follow their journey through the collection. It’s a great way to keep discovering new music and the stories behind the music. Which is the way it should be, we reckon.

The first of the contributors is Joe Boyd, record producer and the man who booked Dylan for Newport Folk Festival in 1965 when he infamously went electric. It’s a great tour of 60s and 70s Rock and Folk, and well worth spending some time with whether you’ve read Boyd’s much lauded book ‘White Bicycles’ or not.

The shows are titled ‘Record Boxes’, and an initial run of six have been compiled. The eventual aim for the Archive is to have thousands of Record Boxes compiled by the public as a sort of people’s musical history. It sounds fantastic and we can’t wait to see who the other guests are and what musical treats are in store next.

Make sure to check it out.


Beast of Burden

Why is it that Mick Jagger is as famous for his lips as he is for his singing and songwriting? Some would argue it’s because he’s not released a decent album since Goats Head Soup way back in 1973. We’d suggest it’s because some rather strange Stones fans have created a rather weird thing around those lips. Sure, it’s their emblem in many ways, but is that any excuse to start naming long extinct Egyptian pigs with a “highly innervated muzzle with mobile and tactile lips” after the man? Afterall, it comes as a surprise to many that he isn’t a mummy or some other form of re-animated corpse when they see him performing in stadiums around the world.

That Egyptian pig, also described as like a skinny hippo, has been named Jaggermeryx naiad. Tempted as we were to delve into Photoshop to see what a Mick Jagger pig would look like, we reckon that’s best left to the imagination.


Tears of a Clown

New research from Japan suggests that happy music has a stronger impact on our emotions than sad lyrics. Researchers took two songs that were musically upbeat and in a major key, attributes commonly associated with happy music. Both songs featured lyrical themes that were sad; one showed adolescent angst, while the second showed a sense of heartbreak and regret. Further, one track was in the Swedish language while the other was in Spanish; the assumption being that the Japanese students participating in the study would not understand the lyrics when first played.

The students were played the music, given the translated lyrics on paper, then played the music again with the written lyrics. Their response showed that they were as happy even with the lyrics as without, however they were less happy when left with the lyrics alone. The researchers have suggested that the happy music offset the sadness contained in the lyrics. Of course, anyone who’s a fan of late 70s UK Ska could tell you that. While The Specials were perhaps the masters of sad songs with happy music, this one by The Beat is perhaps our favourite…


Kevin Shields Production Scholarship

As someone who rather infamously cost Creation records £250,000 in studio and production fees in the making of the now classic album Loveless, Kevin Shields is used to paying big money for production. Now he’s doing it again, and the money could be yours if you fancy studying for a BA (Hons) in Music Production at BIMM in Dublin. Shields is currently offering a scholarship to one lucky student for three years of fees worth €5,950 per year. That’s some good going.

With production credits ranging from his own My Bloody Valentine releases, through Primal Scream, Dinosaur Jr, Dot Allison, and his work with Patti Smith, he’s certainly a man who knows a bit about production. That makes this scholarship a pretty big tick of approval for the BIMM course, and a bit of a coup for them to have his name attached to it.

If you happen to get hold of this scholarship we’d like to wish you good luck. Though we would suggest you don’t take Kevin’s release schedules as a useful guide to success…


New Music September

 

Steven James Adams – House Music (State 51)
As former singer of the Broken Family Band, Adams gained no small amount of acclaim across a fairly prolific few years. Now gone solo he’s producing delicate and affecting songs that come from the home and the heart. That means there are no pre-programmed four-on-the-floors here (don’t let that title fool you), but instead acoustic guitars and a strong sense of Indie songwriting. Reminding us of both Steve Mason and the Beautiful South this is an enjoyable record perfectly suited to the oncoming of autumn. Check out ‘Tears of Happiness’ here.

Teleman – Breakfast (Moshi Moshi)
To all intents and purposes Teleman are a Pete-less Pete and the Pirates. In losing a front man, they’ve also lost a certain ramshackle nature and have gone on to replace it with a polished sense of classic Indie song craft. While that tends to run closest to 90s Brit-Pop, it also filters a long history of lightly arch, melodic, guitar Pop, taking in many of the same 60s influences as Pulp or American contemporaries Vampire Weekend. It’s perhaps no surprise to find Bernard Butler on production duties ensuring vocals are crisp and choruses snap. Check out ’23 Floors Up’ here.

Basement Jaxx – Junto (PIAS)
There’s a certain nostalgic vibe for 90s House running across genres at the moment, so it’s no surprise that this latest from Basement Jaxx follows suit. As far as Grime-y look backs go, it’s better than most, no doubt because these guys were actually in the clubs rather than listening to the radio under their bed sheets at the time. As we’ve come to expect with Jaxx albums, Junto is full of uptempo Dance that has one eye on current trends and the other firmly on the charts. ‘We Are Not Alone’, featuring Meleka, is as classic Basement Jaxx as they come. Check it out here.

Sinkane – Mean Love (City Slang)
It’s rare we come across such a disparate and leftfield collection of influences and styles in one package. Even rarer for that package to be as coherent as this. These mid-tempo compositions flit between Soul, R&B, Country, and Electronica, while retaining an Afro-funk sense of rhythm. There’s a heavy dose of nostalgia running throughout this enigma of an album, and not since The Clash were in their heyday has such a muddled sound of 60s America been so entertaining. First single ‘How We Be’ is a wonderful exemplar of the personable yet worldly vibe just waiting to be discovered. Check it out here.

Jungle – Jungle (XL)
If you’ve caught yourself wondering what that cool Indie R&B you’ve been hearing all summer is, there’s a good chance the answer is Jungle. Filled with warmth and groove, this is a hook laden album with a focus more on the functions of Pop than on the styles that have influenced it. Nowhere is this more true than on ‘Son of a Gun’, which is just off-kilter enough to feel timelessly modern rather than hollow and uncanny. It’s a fine line to walk, but when you can cultivate soul filled vibes like these, the end result will always be in your favour. Check out single ‘Busy Earnin’ here.

Erland and the Carnival – Closing Time (Full Time Hobby)
While some may remember this pair from their recent album as the Magnetic North, this third outing as Erland and the Carnival returns to an acoustic Indie fold, while retaining a sense of Folk phrasing and storytelling. With marked differences between tracks, the band state diverse influences including Jon Hopkins and Kurt Vile, it’s testament to their songwriting that this is a coherent and engaging listen throughout. Perhaps that’s down to the Folk bent, which engenders a feeling of respect for a good story well told. While Paul Weller’s contribution on ‘Quiet Love’ is largely forgettable, the light psychedelic touches  on ‘I am Joan’ are a highlight. Listen to ‘Quiet Love’ here.

Catfish and the Bottlemen – Catfish and the Bottlemen EP (Communion)
Hot off the festival circuit, this four-piece from Llandudno have been doing some serious touring of late. It seems to be paying off too, as their lightly quirky name can now be found attracting attention in the national press as well as your local gig listings. Don’t let that name fool you though, there’s no Americana or slide guitar on show here, instead this is classic Indie rock packed full of choruses that are sure to keep venues across the country bouncing well beyond the summer season. With singles like these, you can expect to hear them all over the radio too. Check out ‘Homesick’ here.

Redinho – Redinho (Number)
The long awaited debut from Redinho finally arrives and the wait has been worth it. The cross pollination of R&B, Electro, Hip Hop and House has resulted in many fine records in the past, but also a fair few duds. Mention the addition of a Talkbox and normally alarm bells would be ringing but, while OTT in some hands, here it serves to meld those soulful vocals into constant conversation with the beats around them. Those beats are as inviting as they come too, sucking the listener into an electronic harmony worth basking in. Check out ‘Playing With Fire’ here.


James Murphy plays Tennis

Or ‘Daft Punk Are Playing Tennis at My House’? Either way, James Murphy has done it again. Not content with soundtracking the NY Subway system, he’s now building music from US Open tennis matches. All in all it’s simply a showcase (Read: advertisement) for US Open sponsors IBM, but in amongst it are some simplistic, yet interesting, ambient soundscapes. They tend towards the delicate, and are generally pretty sparse, but if you like the (digitally recreated) sound of fractured 60s synths then this might well be worth ten minutes of your time. Here’s Andy Murray’s first round match for a taster.

In time, Murphy will remix his favourite sounds into 14 tracks which the cynic’s in us are sure will be on release in time for Record Store Day next year. Find out more about that, here.


Dimensions

We love putting great music into amazing venues, and we’re not the only one’s. Over in Croatia, Boiler Room have teamed up with Dimensions Festival to stream performances by Darkside, Caribou, Nils Frahm, and Kwabs at the festival opening tonight. Those are some pretty good artists, but we’re particularly excited because it’s all in a 2000 year old Roman Amphitheater.

While we’re disappointed we won’t be able to check it out in person, the fact that it’s streaming from 6pm (GMT) means that we’re pretty excited about getting even a brief sniff of the atmosphere.


The risks of fame

Ah to be a Rock star; fame, glamour, money. Unless of course your name is Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots. After a lengthy career marked by band splits, failed reunions, drug use, and being sued by your former bandmates, it’s perhaps unsurprising to police when they arrest you for shoplifting and possession of crystal meth. A month later and you’re still in the slammer, unable to make $95,000 in bail.

What happens then, when you post a video online refuting the fact that you’re languishing in an LA jail cell?

 

The answer, it seems, is the Beverly Hills Police start a proper investigation into who it is still sitting in their jail…

On Saturday, July 26, 2014, at approximately 9:34 a.m., the Beverly Hills Police Department received a call of a shoplift that had just occurred at the Rite Aid in the 400 Block of N. Bedford Drive. Police units ultimately arrested a suspect for that crime. Upon arrest, the suspect identified himself as former Stone Temple Pilots band member Scott Weiland. The suspect was taken into custody for Burglary (459 P.C.) and Possession of a Controlled Substance (11377 H & S Code).

On Thursday, August 21, 2014, Beverly Hills Police discovered through an FBI Fingerprint Return that the subject arrested was not Scott Weiland. The fingerprint return positively identified the individual as Jason Michael Hurley (44 years of age). Beverly Hills Police will be requesting an additional criminal filing on Hurley for 148.9 (a) P.C. – Furnishing False Information to a Peace Officer. Records will be updated to properly reflect this information.

 

Not so long ago Weiland was upset about being replaced in Stone Temple Pilots by Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington. Does everybody secretly want to be Scott Weiland? Perhaps he should take it as an opportunity and start monetising the apparent desire to impersonate him with a series of ‘cut-out-and-keep’ masks.


Need a Power Up?

Congratulations! You’ve managed to get through Monday morning. Does it feel like it’s taken its toll already? Wish you could feel more powerful? Then listen to some heavy bass.

According to a study carried out at Northwestern University, bass heavy music will make you feel more powerful. The study was originally conceived after the researchers observed athletes listening to music before competing. Using samples of ‘powerful’ music they manipulated bass levels +/- 15dB, with respondents favouring the higher bass register, somewhat unsurprisingly.

‘Powerful’ Songs Used
We Will Rock You – Queen
Get Ready For This – 2Unlimited
In Da Club – 50 Cent

We’re left a little perplexed by the choice of songs the researchers sampled from, and by the research itself. Whilst they’ve clearly distinguished Bass as a recurrent factor across genre, we see no mention of Tempo, nor Dynamic range; both factors we’d like to see investigated. With that in mind, please consider this a call for any Psychologists, Musicologists or bored Creative Writing students to do some digging for us. We’d do it ourselves, but ‘foregone conclusion’ already exists in our vocabulary.

Here’s a seriously bass-heavy cover of Queen’s We Will Rock You by noise rock’s great Melt-Banana.