January – A Brief Musical Guide

January is not exactly known as the most fruitful of months and predictably it’s taken a some time for 2015 to warm up, music-wise of course.  Below you will find a selection of musical goings-on from January.  Thanks for reading.

Sleater-Kinney Return After 10 Years

Garage rock band Sleater-Kinney‘s last album was released way back in 2005 and it wasn’t certain whether we’d ever see the band return.  ‘The Woods‘ would have been a fitting finale for the band and I urge you to seek out this classic album.  In the years since, the band members have kept themselves busy in their adopted town of Portland – Janet Weiss lent her pummeling drums to Stephen Malkmus‘ band The Jicks whilst guitarist-singer Carrie Brownstein has forged an acting career.

There’s something very exciting about SK’s trademark guitar interplay and it’s not often that we’re treated to such exciting playing.  One thing you should know about the band’s brand of rock music – there’s no bass guitar involved.  With this restriction, the band have had to learn how to fill the sound in clever ways.  New album ‘No Cities To Love‘ is packed with plenty of examples of the Sleater-Kinney’s exciting musical chemistry.  ‘No Anthems‘ is truly a fantastic song – weird, jagged and boasting an anthemic chorus (how ironic).  An early contender for best garage-rock album of the year?  You betcha!  Listen above to the single ‘A New Wave‘.

The BBC Announces Their ‘Sound of 2015′

BBC List

I made a promise to myself to only concern this blog with positive thoughts on music.  If you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything at all, are the words I wrote by.  Yet the BBC seem intent on winding me up with their recent ‘Sound of 2015‘ list and after a year of writing I feel compelled to bare my teeth.

If Spotify represents the ‘last desperate fart of a corpse‘ (Thom Yorke’s words on the music industry), then the acts that made the Sound of 2015 ‘longlist’ are the general smell of rot that lingers in 2015.  Very few acts that made the Sound of 2015 list can be considered a break from the homogenised nature of major label music in the 2010s.  Rather like the BBC’s Later…with Jools Holland television show, the Sound of 2015 is a dismal reflection of what the ‘taste-makers’ at the top of the tree have deemed important for us to listen to.  For me it only serves to highlight how little relevance this dinosaur industry has in the age of the internet.  Spoon feeding music to the public is becoming more and more difficult thanks to the unlimited choice available on the internet.

Confusingly, the criteria of how to be selected for the ‘long list’ seems unclear.  The artists and bands are for the most part English, yet there’s a band from France and 2 American songwriters thrown in there too.  We get all the usual characters of the music industry appearing in the list: the edgy singer-songwriter (James Bay), the edgy rapper (George the Poet) and token rock band (Wolf Alice).  Elsewhere, Slaves are the musical equivalent of a cheap knock-off from China, brought in hastily to capitalise on the (baffling) success of fellow rock-duo Royal Blood.  They’re a knock-off version of the kind of band that was last considered ‘edgy’ in 2003.

Without knowledge of how they arrived at the decision, the beeb selected synth pop band Years & Years to ‘win’ the envious accolade of being the ‘Sound of 2015′.  This trio from London make the kind of tragic 90s dance music that could be mistaken for a Everything But The Girl, if it wasn’t for the strained attempts of ‘singing’ from frontman Olly Alexander.  The band’s reaction to their growing success seems a little too muted, like they’ve always expected to get the kind of opportunities they’re enjoying.

The list is essentially the sound of Shit Britain in 2015.  Just like Sam Smith‘s voice on the desperate ‘Money On My Mind‘ became synomynous with the crudness of life last year, so this fella in Years & Years’ voice will soon be the sound belched from our masters in 2015.  Be warned.

Additionally:  January also saw another dull class-based debate rage following James Blunt‘s fierce response to claims by a Labour MP Christ Bryant MP that his privileged background allowed him to enter the music industry.  It exposed Blunt as someone very concerned with his upbringing and also just how boring all talk on this subject is.  I’ll say no more.

Silver Jews Tease With Suggestions Of A Reunion

Silver Jews

…and it turned out to be nothing of the sort.

Original band member Bob Nastanovich, after passing through Nashville on work, posted this deliberately sensationalist photo of himself, singer David Berman and drummer Brian Kotzur hanging out in mid-January.  Following excited internet mutterings, Berman was obliged to quash the excitement surrounding his old friend’s mischievous behaviour by assuring the world that no reunion was in the works.  “[He] tried to scotch my J.D. Salinger setup”, Berman told Nashville Scene in an email.  Oh well.  Anyhow, the fond memory of Silver Jews, one of the most enigmatic bands of the 90s, is probably best kept in tact.


…and that’s it i’m afraid.  Much of January has been taken up by my involvement in a ‘Fallathon‘.  More on this to follow…

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