Monday, 29 August 2011

How to be a Rock DJ

So I've never been able to find a guide to being a rock DJ. All the guides out there focus on dance music, the technicalities of beat-matching and the artistry of live mixing. They are great and informative but it made it look like Rock DJing is easy or somehow invalid as there was nothing on the subject. After 15 years of learning the art of Rock DJing I can say that isn't the case, so I decided to write a guide. It's on wikihow, so anyone else can help improve it (cause I don't even pretend to be the authority on the subject). If you could pass the details of it on to anyone who is either thinking about becoming a rock DJ, or who is a rock Dj and can help add to it, that would be great.

Setlist - 26/08/11

As played at the rather excellent Psycho Candy, possibly the best alternative music club in Cambridge.

9pm - 10pm
So What – The Anti-Nowhere League
People are Garbage – Anal Babes
Die when you Die – GG Allin
Hobbit Motherfuckers – Turbonegro
Electroglide in Blue – Guana Batz
Big Brother Muscle – Screaming Blue Messiahs
Escape Ferocity – Man or Astroman?
Pipeline – Anthrax
Surfin on the Planet Zorch – The Meteors
Let’s Get Fucked Up – The Cramps
Gothic Surf-a-Rama – The Vampire Beach Babes
Gates of Heaven – Batmobile
A Hard-Earned Thirst Needs a Big Cold Beer, But I Drink to Get Pissed – T.I.S.M.
Summer Time – Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
Steal my Sunshine – Len
Hey Ya – Lorene Drive
Encore/Numb – Jay-Z & Linkin Park
Don’t Trust Me – 3OH!3

12pm - 1am
The Only Living Boy in New Cross – Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine
Kill Your Television – Ned’s Atomic Dustbin
Just a Day – Feeder
Pretend we’re Dead – L7
On a Rope – Rocket From The Crypt
Self-Esteem – The Offspring
DJ DJ – The Transplants
Na Na Na – My Chemical Romance
Feel Good hit of the Summer – Queens Of The Stone Age
Run to the Hills – Iron Maiden
Just Say Words – Paradise Lost
Smart Dressed Man – ZZ Top
Smooth Criminal – Alien Ant Farm
The Power – H-Blockx
Crazy – Mushroomhead
All my Best Friends are Metalheads – Less Than Jake
The Impression That I Get – The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Three new finds

First up we have The Detroit Cobras, a covers band who do a mean bit of garage rock with that tang of a modern twist. I'm not normally a fan of an all covers band, unless its doing something outragious like the Gimmie Gimmies, but this has so much style to it and anything that can help bring back that proto-punk rock-and-roll-gone-bad sound is fine in my books.

Following that we have a (possibly leaked) track from the upcoming Steel Panther album. As ever the Panther's continue to produce parodies of 80's glam metal that are so close to the bone that you will never be sure if they stole it off a Motley Crue out-take or not. The first listen will have you laughing along at the outrageous posturing audacity, the second will have you singing along as the urge to join in on the joke gets too big to suppress...

And finally we have Stephen "Thundercat" Bruner finally getting around to releasing a solo album in the form of "The Golden Age of Apocalypse". Yes folks, it's final proof that after conquering the world as the bass with the mighty Suicidal Tendencies the only logical next step is to release a near perfect space-jazz / soul-fusion album.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Bad Brains

What happens if you take the energy of Punk, the musicality of fusion-jazz, and spirituality of reggae with just a sprig of soul singing thrown in for good measure? Well the answers is Bad Brains, and they have been ripping things up for the last 24 years whilst influencing bands such as Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the Deftones. They have also been bringing racial unity/indifference to the hardcore punk scene by being on of the first black bands to play it fast, loud, and aggressive. And, because these guys have a lot on their plate, they also helped put the aggression into rap with H.R., their energetic back-flipping frontman, spitting out lyrics at a velocity that is still barley touched these days.

An important band, to say the least, but the fact that you quite possibly haven't heard of them has more to do with them being almost utterly uncommercial in outlook, and H.R. being utterly bug-house crazy (but then again he encouraged Ian MacKaye to invent Straight Edge and Henry Rollins to become a singer so he can't be all that bad) and quitting the band every 5 minutes. To say they have had a very stop/start approach to their music making is an understatement but 8 albums later and they are still going strong, producing records that continue to be as musically diverse as from the day they started.

Anyway, enough from me. here's something from the band themselves!

Monday, 8 August 2011

Swagger Jagger isn't actually that terrible

It shocks me to say this but Swagger Jagger, the current UK number 1 selling single and spawn of the X-Factor music defecating machine, isn't actually as terrible as many people are making out. This is not to say that it is great piece of music by any description, I hardly expect it to be remembered in a years time, but after having listened to it a number of times I just can't find anything to class it as outstandingly terrible or the apex of pre-fab commercial Pop tastelessness. It is, at best/worst, just a wee bit naff.

Yes, it does have a large section of fake "urban"* hip-hop and excessive posturing egotistical rhetoric but this is delivered in such an over-the-top & cartoonish manner that to consider it pretentious would be like complaining that Billy Piper's "Because we want to" is a disrespectful pastiche of Public Enemy. It is a bit naff, but it's naff in the way that teenage female pop fans eat up, and it is also accompanied by a perfectly acceptable Euro style dance track where Cher Lloyd clearly demonstrates that she can actually sing. Were the dance section to have been released by itself (possibly without the X-Factor connections) it would be a perfectly respectable disco floor-filler. I actually think that the producers deciding to glue the two sections together means that they are willing to try something different and potentially interesting which I have to applaud them for, even if the end result is somewhat disappointing.

So why the backlash against this? Whilst some of it has to be the ongoing "death to the X-Factor" sentiment from the comments and abuse I have seen online (mostly on her youtube video) a lot of it falls down to snobbery and band-wagon jumping. The snobbery is in the form of people constantly referring to her as a "chav", which I can neither confirm nor deny due to not being bothered to know anything about her beyond the very basics. Hurm... not the best reason to dislike someone's music, however it's the X-Factor so where the projected-personality ends and the actual musical performance starts is a very difficult thing to say. But I still don't think it a great reason to dislike someone's music as it is rejection on the grounds of prejudice of background, rather than them just having been involved in something a bit weak and dribbly.

The band-wagon jumping comes from the repeated comparisons to "Friday" by the truly talentless (and possibly delusional) Rebecca Black. Now let me make this very clear: this song is in no way as bad as Friday. It is not as formulaic, it is not as inane, it is not as badly produced, it is not as badly performed, and it is not as mind slammingly offensively pointless. This is like watching slapping a five-year old so hard that they look kind of put out and then claiming to have watched the greatest fighter since Muhammed Ali, imo because the UK desperately wants to have something trendy and exciting to hate. However whislt Friday is terrible this is just a bit crap.

So, please, do not think is an endorsement of this tune as listening to it is a waste of three and a half minutes of your life and the criticism of listless bland corporate formulated music is something that I heartily encourage. But try and keep a sense of perspective in these things or you will use all your bile and venom against something that is mealy limp & disappointing that has managed to get into the singles chart (a chart that is getting more and more meaningless as the serious music purchaser focuses on albums, and is notoriously dominated by novelty pop chintz aimed at the teen  & pre-teen Pop market) and have nothing left for when something truly, apolitically awful comes along.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Voidstate - something interesting this way comes

What happens if you take some euro-style power metal, add in a touch of electro & techno experimentation, and then garnish with a singer who shows that a good vocal range doesn't have to mean constant warbling*? Well the answer is Voidstate, and they are rather very good.
Currently three tracks of theirs are available to listen to online and they are all very worth a listen to. Opener "Whole" presents a diverse soundscape, starting with a blend of choral-strings & trance and then throwing in some driving rock guitars and drumbbeats, that is easy on the ears but never dull or drab. "I am" is a more traditional thumper which lets them show off more of the power side of their sound, and "Again" keeps up the tempo but adds in more experimentation with the backing electronics. All through is the blend of beauty and power that avoids this excess of screamy metal without missing out a chance to embolden the listener as you sing along. Think of it as the operatic styling of Nightwish blended in with Enter Shikar's willingness to play with modern influences and you wouldn't be far off, though as it's very much it's own beast you will still get some nice surprises from it.

So invest the 10 minutes needed to listen to all of their tracks and let an exciting (and curiously unsigned) band  enter into your day. I am confident you'll find it worth it.

*Yes Tarja Turunen, I am looking at you.