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The Sad Song Co: Blog

Nigel Powell: Attack the Blog!

Bloggin' the Shuffle! #1

Thursday 14th March, 2013

This is the original reason that it occurred to me to start blogging. I'd find myself on the tourbus with my iPod on having memories and thoughts triggered as shuffle offered up various tidbits that I wouldn't have put on of my own accord. So I'm going to give that a go at translating it to blog form, hopefully with some Spotify or other links to listen to what I'm listening to. I'll do my best to avoid it all being "I like this because...", although I think that is an inevitability from time to time. And the other important thing is this:

I'm aware my music listening has become somewhat atrophied. I think this is somewhat a currency of ageing - I don't have the appetite to assimilate new music that I once did, or the time to go looking for it. And also the thrill of discovery has somewhat gone with cynicism; my analytical brain, the bit of me that has got used to making sure I can play what I'm hearing pretty much straight out in case I get called for a session, looks at the 'how' and the 'why' and the structure and arrangement and does drain the untrammelled joy of surprise.

But I want you people to make suggestions for me, down there in the comments. It lets me know when there's a new comment so I always see them, and given that you're going to be discovering what's on my iTunes (my aren't we plugging evil mulitnational Apple© today) you can recommend some other things that you think I might like. No links allowed down there, but don't worry, I'll find anything you suggest.

Surely enough preamble, please lord say that's enough. Let's begin the shuffle...

Wrathchild - Iron Maiden (Killers)
buy from iTunes  listen on Spotify

Wow, what a way to start. This speaks to me about school days and wearing all denim. My denim jacket had myriad patches on the back, my hair was shoulder length (the most I could get away with as an eleven year old at school), I even briefly wore cowboy boots. I remember my favourite band, IQ, didn't have patches so I got my mum to embroider their logo onto the jacket. She was a saint. That didn't last though. My brother bought into the culture even deeper, with leather trousers and studded belts. I love this kind of rock.

Advice To A Lover - Unbelievable Truth (sorrythankyou)
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There is a fair amount of music that I've made on my iTunes. It keeps it together and available. I guess it's kind of onanistic, but hey, sue me. This period makes me sad. I produced our second album amidst not inconsiderable bad vibes from our (major) record company, and I fucked it up. Not royally, but the paranoia and low self-esteem took a toll that dripped over the album like tar. But in the long run, I still feel proud. I was in a band with my two best friends in the world and we made good music and had some success and pleased some people. I'll put aside my negative feelings and let the positivity flow.

The One I Love (live from McCabe's guitar shop) - R.E.M.
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Scratchy bootleg-quality b-side. I don't feel I've ever been constrained by technical requirements. I like to record things well, and I like the sound quality to be the best possible, but I have a deep belief that it's a long way from vital. Spirit, a great song, belief, a performance are all so much more important than which microphone you used on the snare, or whether you mix it on an SSL or a Neve. But then again like much of my life it's a duality, because I can obsess over mix minutiae and microphone placement as well as anyone. Everything in moderation. If the technical aspects delay performance or vibe, you're doing it wrong.

Mirror, Mirror - Dr Dog (Dr Dog)

Was given a copy of this record a couple of years ago by, I think, our friend Chris Trovero in LA (he worked for Epitaph at the time, but he's much more than that). Haven't listened to it that much, but everytime it comes up on shuffle it reminds me that I really should give it more time. I'm going to stop typing and listen to this one.

Always By Your Side (demo) - Andy Yorke
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More stuff that involves me. No comment. Except for noting that Andy is a wonderful human being.

I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) - Genesis - Platinum Collection
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After stuff I've done the next biggest subsection on my iTunes (and therefore stuff that will come up statistically more often) is Genesis, or Genesis related stuff. Everyone needs an obsession I guess, and Genesis is mine. Particularly I have loads of live bootlegs, and I guess that's a particular aspect of them that informs me and what I do now. They were pretty much always better live than they were on record. It didn't make the records bad at all, but there was an extra vitality live that they never caught (maybe on Genesis and Abacab). I feel the same about the albums I'm making at the moment. They're not perfect. They capture how we are now, and then we go out and play it much better live. I'm proud to be part of the band that I play with at the moment. Seriously.

I think that will probably do for my first foray into this kind of blog. If anyone is curious I am going to continue posting Puritan (my autobiography, which has been described as "shorter than a novel, longer than a pamphlet") but I would like to add relevant photos to it, and certainly for the first few chapters all those pictures of me as a little whippersnapper are stored at home, so until I can get back there and scan some in (April 9th I think we're home) it's going to be on hold.

Becki, Sat 16th March 2013, 02:57:00 PM
Personally, I'd recommend Porcupine Tree for any sort of new exploration into music. They're more of a prog rock band than anything else, but they have a lot of varied ideas and songs accross a massive span of albums. If you're looking for somewhere to start, Lightbulb Sun is a personal favourite, holding many songs that link me back to my childhood, closely followed by In Absentia and Deadwing. I've only been lucky enough to see them twice in my life (2005 and 2011), and unfortunately they're no longer together. I will openly admit that their last album (The Incident) was a little more disappointing than I'd expected, but anything before that, I would totally recommend. Each album is totally different, and there are a lot of longer tracks which really vary in pace and lyric content. A lot of it is instrumental. You may have already heard of these but if you haven't, give them a go - and I really hope you find something you like within them. Wilson (vocals/guitar) had a sideproject for a while called Blackfield - its similar stuff but I wasn't as keen...
Wendy, Saratoga Springs, NY, Fri 15th March 2013, 01:17:49 AM
Nigel, my obsession is Springsteen (for reference, I went to 17 of his shows in 2012, and only 5 Frank Turner shows), so I can't help mentioning him here. Most people who tell me that they don't like his music say that it's because he sounds like he's screaming all the time, so I usually recommend some of the quieter songs. So....give Blood Brothers, The Last Carnival, Straight Time, Shut Out the Light, and When You're Alone a try.
Sarah, Thu 14th March 2013, 10:12:17 PM
Having seen shuffled songs and being unable to think of something along the lines of what has come up, I am going to recommend my favourite album of 2013
Sarah, Thu 14th March 2013
*makes mental note not to hit return to make paragraphs* Anyway, my favourite album is Wolf's Law by Joy Formidable. Its one of those albums where there isn't a bad song on there and it is hard to pick your favourite song. Maw Maw Song just edges it as my favourite track probably because it has a gong on it. Their first album strayed into shoegaze territory but this one has a lot more rock to it. They are also fantastic live, one of the best live bands I've seen in a while. Whilst I'm recommending stuff, I have seen the Sleeping Souls tweeting about The Staves, no idea if it was you or not, but whoever it was should check out The Cornshed Sisters for similar lovely harmonies.
erica, Thu 14th March 2013, 08:44:21 PM
did you listen anything about "the national"? they´re so much great, really, their second album is very very advisable, and my favorite these days is a Franco-Argentine artist named pablo krantz, if you like French music, you have to listen him, its incredibly spectacular his voice and his lyrics. hope you have an amazing day. =)
Bella, Thu 14th March 2013, 08:43:57 PM
David Kuckhermann - amazing percussionist (sp?) worth listening to even if you don't like the sound, just to watch his technique! he opened for Dead Can Dance on thier rencent tour and also played with them during thier set. His timing and speed with hand drums is just stunning. Look on youtube for his Riq solo and Hang solo and let me know what you think. Speaking of DCD - look up a song called Rakim on youtube by a user called Lucem2 - Lisa is playing is the Yangqin, a Chinese Hammered Dulcimer. Its a wonderful song and in this users video you can see her hands as she plays. Lisa has a stunning, ethreal voice.
Russ, Thu 14th March 2013, 08:35:44 PM
My 16yo son has got me into all sorts of new under the radar bands. I'm older than you and can still assimilate it so your problem is probably more like music overload as you do it for a day job, unlike me. I hate recommending music as it is so subjective but I do think that Lower Than Atlantis are quite good, and for a stage show Don Broco are excellent. There is a young lady singer songwriter called Madi Lane of Dear Prudence who is also superb, check out her acoustic rendition of Kiss and Break Up. There's a 4 piece from Oxford called Dive Dive that are awesome too, haven't heard much from them recently....
Ben, Thu 14th March 2013, 06:03:20 PM
The comment box has no love for the humble apostrophe! I also wanted to say that I haven't seen the word untrammeled since I last went to see a Shakespeare play about a million years ago....
Ben, Thu 14th March 2013, 06:00:23 PM
it must be interesting to have stuff you've produced come up on Spotify once in a while. Your story of Unbelievable Truth's album kinda reminded me of an old Mojo magazine interview with REM where they mentioned Fables of the Reconstruction as an album they felt they kinda screwed up the production on, were unhappy with the result and for years viewed it as something less than the desired result. Turns out it was one of their most classic albums, particularly tracks like Driver 8, Maps and Legend and Life and How to Live It. Bill Berry was one of my strong influences growing up because although his playing always sounded kinda stiff he really came into his own on the late 80's albums. His feel was incredible even though it wasn't particularly technical. They were (and are) my obsession band from teenage years and made by far the biggest impression on me. Other stuff that I think you might enjoy (or at least the I enjoy) and that you're probably already well aware of. Deathcab for Cutie: Tracks: 'You are a Tourist', 'Grapevine Fires', 'Brothers on a Hotel Bed'. The drummer for these guys is seriously creative and can take a simple beat and add something to it that takes him above and beyond your average player. To say he drives the band is an understatement and the songs are fantastic. Ryan Adams' album 'Love is Hell'. It's kind of his tribute to Thom Yorke. The track 'Shadowlands' has the best guitar solo I've ever heard. Whiskeytown. Country with attitude. Listed to 'Sit & Listen to the Rain' or 'Easy Hearts'. Great driving music. I've got into country a bit recently, well, sorta countryish-ish and have been blown away by The Civil Wars and Peter Bradley Adams. Listen to his album 'Leavetaking' for some superb songwriting and production. The Shins track 'Bait and Switch' which is just a blast to play, very retro. The Iain Archer tracks 'Pressure Drop', 'Summer Jets' and 'The Canal Song' which has one of a weirder videos out there. Monkeys.....that's all I'll say. Lastly a local (to St. Albans, UK) band called The Autumnkind. Try the track 'The Shipping Forecast' for a HUGE drum sound. You'll find 'em on iTunes or Spotify.
Tyrone , Thu 14th March 2013, 05:36:42 PM
Hidden Orchestra. Not sure if you've heard of them. Essentially they're a jazz quartet who incorporate lements of jazz, classical, rock, hip-hop and electronica. But with the added twist of two duelling drummers. Check out 'Flight' and 'Vorka' from the alum 'Archipelago'.
Alice, Thu 14th March 2013, 05:36:10 PM
Hal by Hal. You might have already heard it. I'm pretty sure it's my favourite album ever. It never gets old.
Sally, Thu 14th March 2013, 05:06:52 PM
Crap! Hit enter by accident, so it posted long before I was finished... Anyway. I listen to a lot of My Chemical Romance. I know they divide opinion so you may not like them (judge me all you like!). But if you're going to check them out, I have a few suggestions. I suggest starting with their second album; Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. Particularly the songs 'I'm Not Okay (I Promise)', 'Helena', 'Thank You For The Venom', 'Give 'em Hell, Kid', 'Cemetery Drive' and 'Hang 'Em High' (The whole album is brilliant, though!). Then from there the choice is really yours. From their first album (I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love) I suggest 'Our Lady Of Sorrows', 'Headfirst For Halos', 'Skylines and Turnstiles' and 'Early Sunsets Over Monroeville' (a slower song, but I love it). Then; The Black Parade. Serious contender to my favourite album. I love every song, really. But a good place to start would be 'Welcome To The Black Parade' and 'Famous Last Words'. But if you're going to listen to The Black Parade, I suggest listening to it the whole way through, there's a narrative through the album. From their fourth album, Danger Days: The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys, definitely start with 'Na Na Na', 'Sing', 'The Kids From Yesterday', 'Save Yourself, I'll Hold Them Back' and 'Summertime'. Then we come to the Conventional Weapons releases. A set of 5 singles and B-sides recorded between The Black Parade and Danger Days, but not released until the end of last year and into this one. There's no real order to them, but my personal favourite was Number 3, 'The World Is Ugly' and 'The Light Behind Your Eyes'. But slower, calmer songs, but both incredible. If you look for these on iTunes, search 'My Chemical Romance Number (whichever one you want to find - there are 5)' then it should bring them up. All the songs I've suggested are on YouTube, I think. I also ask, that if you do listen to any of the songs I've suggested, please try not to judge them on anything you may have heard in the media about MCR. I know not all of it is positive, and most of it isn't true. They are, in my opinion, a brilliant band. I also suggest, if you listen to Welcome To The Black Parade (listen to a recorded version first - the video is great!), find a live recording if you can. It's worth it just to hear all the screaming from the crowd at the first note! So there you have it. A selection of some of my favourite songs! I hope you find something you like in all of those! :)
Sally, Thu 14th March 2013, 04:41:12 PM
I'm totally rubbish at recommending stuff, so I'll tell you what I'm listening to.

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