Corey Taylor: In The Studio Singing “Snuff”
Some great footage from their recent album.
The third in a series of essays on what I may (or may not) have learned from music. The previous essay can be found here.
Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight
A few nights (and a fair few drinks) ago a few of us from the office pondered the inevitable hypothetical question: If you could only listen to one genre of music, what would it be?
I say hypothetical because any self respecting lover of music has more than one field of interest. Those who like hip-hop are probably partial to a bit of R&B (not racist at all), whilst I am convinced that there are people out there who own both James Blunt and Kings Of Leon albums (housewives from middle England is my guess).
The responses around the table were interesting, some specific (Alternate Rock 1991-1994) others wide ranging (World Music) and one from a bloke who was obviously taking the piss (Jungle). I chose Soul, a selection that did not surprise anyone at all. My love of soul music knows no bounds (There ain’t no mountain high enough you could say) but I wondered about the flipside to the discussion: What if there was no such thing as soul music? What would I choose instead?
That was a dill of a pickle.
A few nights (and a fair few drinks) later, the answer hit me: alt.country.
I realise that in hindsight selecting it as my backup was a bold move as I know almost nothing about alt.country. What was it? Does such a thing still exist (if in fact it ever did) and if so, what is out there to listen to?
Why didn’t I just say College Rock 1992 – 1997? That way I could prattle on about the genius of the first Gin Blossoms album.
So before I ventured into the deep unknown I decided it was best to take stock of what I already owned in this mysterious genre. That wasn’t a great deal either.
Are you sure you don’t want to hear about my correlation between New Miserable Experience and my teenage years? Perhaps another time then.
Due to my age and location in the world, the term alt.country first hit me in the Summer of 2000 when Heartbreaker by Ryan Adams was released. I promptly ignored that album for a variety of reasons, a few of which were:
– anyone who has a name like that is asking for trouble
– any album that starts with an in studio argument about a Morrissey song receives an automatic disqualification.
Soon after, the final release by Ryan’s former band Whiskeytown finally saw the light of day. So on a miserable Sunday afternoon as I flew solo in the record store, I threw on Pneumonia. My sole motivation was that James Iha was a guest on the record and anything tenuously linked to the Pumpkins couldn’t be all bad.
By half way through ‘Don’t Wanna Know Why‘ I was hooked.
It was country music that I could finally understand. Sure it had its pop moments (the Iha co-write ‘Don’t Be Sad’ is simply angelic) but overall it was country for those that couldn’t care less about Shania Twain and her bastardisation of the genre. To boot, the press I had read about Adams alluded to the fact he wasn’t exactly a poster boy in Nashville. That made it even better.
I humbly went back to Heartbreaker, fell in love with ‘Come Pick Me Up’ and have consumed everything he has released since (rightly or wrongly) including his weekly singles from his new digital record label PAX AM.
These days, Ryan’s music barely resembles alt.country. The same could be said for Whiskeytown. They only released 3 albums but with each one they sounded less and less like a country band. Compare ‘Too Drunk To Dream’ from their debut Faithless Street to something like the Herman’s Hermits pastiche of ‘Mirror Mirror’ off Pneumonia and you begin to wonder if it is the same band. Considering the majority of Whiskeytown’s original members had quit or were fired has a lot to do with it but perhaps it is an inherent trait with a lot of alt.country acts?
Over the course of their tenure, Minnesota band The Jayhawks drifted away from their alt.country roots (1992s Hollywood Town Hall is a must) to a more pop feel (see 2000s Smile) before returning to their classic sound on Rainy Day Music. Wilco on the other hand were a band that came from alt.country legends Uncle Tupelo and from an early stage frontman Jeff Tweedy began to distance his new band from the genre.
So it seems that on the surface of things I hitched my cart to the wrong horse. Any band who had any say in the history of alt.country didn’t stick around for very long. Heck even the Godfather of the genre, Gram Parsons, only put out two solo albums (the 2nd posthumously) before overdosing in 1973.
A few words on Gram Parsons, those two albums are pretty indispensable. Without them then Ryan would’ve stuck to punk music, a swathe of bands would never have been and more importantly, the wonderfully talented Emmylou Harris may not have made it to the big time. Her vocal contributions to those records should not be underestimated and her standing set the scene for her first ‘proper’ album Pieces Of The Sky a year later.
But what the genre lacks in terms of output is more than made up for in quality artists. Those listed above are a mere starting point and as such there are many fine musicians not mentioned including Drive-By Truckers, Patty Griffin, Gillian Welch and Australia’s own The Gin Club to name a few.
However at this moment in time I can only take alt.country in small doses. There are more songs about hurt than there are about love. And whilst heartbreak is also a recurring theme for soul music, there is hope running through a lot of it. Alt.country doesn’t have one of these and without such will always remain in second place.
And there is no shame in that.
I am not going to Splendour this year, but if you are lucky enough to have got your paws on a ticket, then I reckon you will be either super-happy with the second line-up announcement, or completely underwhelmed.
If (like me) you remember the halcyon days of the Hacienda, Madchester, flared jeans and fishing hats, then you will be dancing in the street at the prospect of the Happy Mondays coming to Australia with all the pills, thrills and bellyaches that their arrival promises.
If you can’t remember the late 80s, (and I would assume the majority of Splendour devotees fall into this category), then there is nothing earth-shattering about this announcement. Doves are a solid if uninspiring festival band, so the other two highlights would be Architecture in Helsinki and Bridezilla who are both worth a walk across a field for.
Here is the second line-up in full:
Happy Mondays (in their ONLY Australian show), Doves, Architecture In Helsinki, You Am I, The Beautiful Girls, Downsyde & Drapht, Kisschasy, Little Red, Bluejuice, Children Collide, Miami Horror Live, Art vs. Science, Paul Dempsey, Dappled Cities, Dananananaykroyd, Holly Throsby, Bridezilla and Deya Dova
I have just seen the words that I really didn’t want to – “in their ONLY Australian show“.
Surely if those cheeky northern monkeys are coming all the way over from England they will do more than one show? Bez and Shaun will want to see much more of this beautiful country and all that is has to offer, even if they have forgotten all about it by the time they get on board the flight home…
There was a song on the hit parades back in the 70s or 80s called ‘Difficult for you easy for me’. Can someone please tell me who sang it. Jack Henson and his orchestra has a track with the same title on his Ballroom dancing record but it doesn’t sound like the same tune and it has no lyrics
Warp Records is an English record label that has been at the forefront of electronic music for 20 years. The label has been home to many of the greatest exponents of IDM (Intelligent Dance Music – an off-putting, but descriptive name for the genre) such as Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Autechre, (Chris) Clark and Boards of Canada.
To celebrate their 20th birthday, they are releasing a beautifully-packaged box-set comprised of cover art, vinyl and CD compilations later this year. And when I say beautifully packaged, I mean “beautifully packaged in a 10 inch square slipcase wrapped in charcoal Buckram embossed paper with tipped-on gloss-laminated cover photograph, designed by YES, photographed by Dan Holdsworth.”
Full details from the website as follows. I will be pre-ordering mine from Bleep.com as soon as they get the matching T-shirts back in stock!
Warp20 (1989-2009) The Complete Catalogue: 192 page book
10” square, 192 page full-colour, perfect-bound book. The complete-ist’s dream – a catalogue of artwork of every Warp release from its inception in 1989 to August 2009. Includes artwork from over 400 sleeves including work by the Designers Republic, Julian House, Build, Universal Everything and Kim Hiorthøy amongst others. Foreword by Warp co-founder Steve Beckett. Black un-coated board cover with debossed and foiled typography.
Warp20 (Chosen): Double CD album
The definitive best of Warp on 2 x CDs. Ten songs chosen by you (Warp20.net), ten songs chosen by Warp co-founder Steve Beckett. Packaged in deluxe case-bound 10” folder, exclusive to this box set. Your personal messages and memories from Warp20.net featured on pullout poster.
Warp20 (Recreated): Double CD album
2 x CDs featuring twenty brand new cover versions of Warp songs by Warp artists past and present; including tracks by Autechre, Harmonic 313, Jamie Lidell, Plaid, Clark, Maximo Park, Leila, Seefeel, Luke Vibert and more… Packaged in deluxe case-bound 10” folder exclusive to this box set.
Warp20 (Unheard): Triple 10” Vinyl
Secret treasures newly rediscovered from the Warp vaults. Unheard and rare tracks by Boards of Canada, Autechre, Broadcast, Elecktroids and others cut to 3 x 10” vinyl. Housed in uncoated card sleeves with debossed typography. Vinyl exclusive to Warp20 (Box Set).
Warp20 (Elemental): CD album
Specially-commissioned hour long piece by re-edit master Osymyso, made from sections, samples, and fragments of Warp music from the last 20 years. Exclusive to Warp20 (Box Set) and packaged in deluxe case bound 10” folder.
Warp20 (Infinite): Double 10” Vinyl
2 x 10” vinyl cuts of hand-picked locked-groove loops from Warp tracks. Four sides of loops for mixing fun. Exclusive to Warp20 (Box Set) and housed in uncoated card sleeves with debossed covers.
And you thought festival season was over….
Sydney Opera House will be the place to be at the end of May & beginning of June as Brian Eno, composer, performer, producer & writer arrives on these shores as curator of the inaugural Luminous festival.
The Opera House is selling Multipack tickets (buy tickets to 3 events save 15%, buy 4 save 20%), and the real difficulty I had was getting my shortlist down to that number. The full line-up can be seen on the festival website, but highlights for me are as follows.
Battles on 30 & 31 May
Whatever math rock is, they invented it. Their first full-length album was incredible, incorporating many layers with staggering complexity, but the live show blows you away. Worth seeing for the front-of-stage drummer, John Lanier (previously in Helmet) and his 8-foot high cymbal set-up.
Ladytron & Pivot 3 June
Ladytron have been around for a good few years now, but still make exciting, fresh-sounding Electro. Good to see on their own, but the clincher is the support act Pivot, (Warp label-mates of Battles) who essentially make this a double-header. These local instrumentalists came out of nowhere last year, but have been gaining steady ground since, and were a fine warm-up band for Sigur Ros at the Hordern in July.
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry 11 June
His involvement in the development of the dub and reggae movements is well-known, and his influence on music as a whole cannot be underestimated. This performance with producer Adrian Sherwood, could arguably be the highlight of highlights.
Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 12 June
Seun Kuti is the youngest son of the late Fela Kuti who, with his band Nigeria 70 (later named Africa 70) fused jazz, funk and African-style musical aspects to create Afrobeat. Seun Kuti took over the later band Egypt 80 at the age of 15 at the time of his father’s death and has been at the forefront of the movement ever since.
Pure Scenius 14 June
I didn’t really have any idea how extraordinary this was going to be until I rang up to get tickets. The lady I spoke to in the Box Office explained it as 3 improvised performances in one evening, with 2 breaks. In the breaks, they will get feedback on the previous section, and work that feedback in to the following one.
‘They’ are Brian Eno, performing for the first time in Australia, Karl Hyde of Underworld, Leo Abrahams, Jon Hopkins and the Necks. Behind the scenes Toby Vogel will be doing what he does with Underworld, projecting images on to huge screens. This could and should be an awe-inspiring way to end the Festival.
This is my first post on this site, and I thought I’d take the opportunity to say hello and share a little YouTube video that has become one of my all-time favourites! I’m sure most of you have already seen it doing the rounds on the Internet over the past year or so…but for those who haven’t – get amongst it!
Cheers and look forward to getting more involved in this cool site. :)
“But what we will miss, when our entire culture is sold through one big chain-store shopping mall called Borderstones, is the stuff that floats to the surface on a bubble of personal enthusiasm.” – Nick Hornby
Sometime in the late 90s my good friend Bill had this crazy notion about wanting to open a record store. I say crazy for a few reasons. By the end of the century, the music retail landscape (in Australia) was dominated by HMV, Sanity and JB Hi-Fi, big companies with more buying power than some Pacific Nations. Also, a pesky little thing called Napster was just about to hit the Internet, forever changing the way we would consume music. To top it off, Bill was a Deputy Principal of a High School and in his mid-forties. His entire retail experience consisted of a part time job as a supermarket cashier before he went to teacher’s college.
Despite all this, his notion (nay his dream) became a reality and on the 1st of March 1999, Atlantis Music opened. I know this because before I became a corporate fat cat I worked in the store with Bill. The two of us along with my flatmate and great friend Chad (to complete the triumvirate) worked tirelessly for weeks on end in those first months of 1999 to get the store ready for opening day. To say we winged a lot of it is understating the gravity of the situation.
The aim of the store was simple: give the customer more than what any other music retail business could offer – outstanding customer service. No I know that is part and parcel of anyone trying to sell you something but we could never compete on the same playing field financially. Money can buy you as many CDs to stock the shelves as you desire, it could not buy you the personalised service we were offering. Any album in the world? We were prepared to track the ends of the earth to find it. Our slogan was simple: Your search is over…You’ve found Atlantis Music.
Sure, we stocked the pop princesses, but we aimed to cover much more ground than the current play lists of the Austereo Network. A decent range of back catalogue? Yes. Second hand? We had it. Vinyl? 7, 12, even 10 inch? Sure thing. 78’s? We had so many we could have sold them by the pound. Old sheet music? Enough to wallpaper a studio apartment.
And that was just the tip of the iceberg. We haven’t even discussed memorabilia, original movie posters or our specially made record cleaner (otherwise known as the blue goo).
The range of stock was one thing but to establish a long lasting relationship was the key. We wanted a regular customer to enter the store, be greeted by their first name and engage in robust discussion about the affairs of the world. When they enquired about the new one by ‘so and so’ we wanted to have it on the new release shelf or, better still, to produce a copy from behind the counter and say, “we ordered one specifically for you”. Did this always occur? Of course not, but you bet your ass we kept aiming for that perfect customer experience.
I clocked out after 8 and a half years (Chad not long after), ready for new challenges that would lay ahead. Yet I can honestly say I enjoyed waking up every day and going to work in the store. Who wouldn’t enjoy listening and discussing music for 8 hours a day? My time there is full of so many great stories and larks but the one I always remember, which occurred in the first few months there, was when a middle aged man got a bit shouty at me over the song “Cat’s In The Cradle”. He swore black and blue it was on the album Tea For The Tillerman by Cat Stevens and was a little more than agitated that a 20 year old kid was telling him that Cat Stevens never sang it and if the man was so sure then to prove it.
I even offered him a copy of Verities & Balderdash by Harry Chapin (which contains the song he was after) to purchase.
I guess there was no pleasing some people.
I am proud to say that last month, Atlantis Music celebrated a decade in the business. Pretty phenomenal you must admit in this current state of not only music retail but global economic misery as well. It is a testament to Bill’s vision that the store is still a success whilst many of his contemporaries are sadly shutting their doors for good.
In a few days time we celebrate Record Store Day, a recent creation designed to highlight the unique culture of the independently owned record store. Whilst I understand the push for a lot of the music business to go digital, I hope deep down that there is always a place for the record store in our lives.
Now that I am the customer and no longer the retailer, a customer continually searching for new music, I mean that more than ever.
It’s hard not to be a little overcome in the presence of afrobeat originator Tony Allen.
After all, Brian Eno has described him as “perhaps the greatest drummer who has ever lived.” Since the early sixties he’s been a pioneering force in contemporary African music, and his influence can be heard across a broad spectrum of musical styles. I asked Tony what first inspired him to pick up the drum sticks.
“I wanted to create my own style of music. God gave me a gift, and I followed my own path.”
He pauses to reflect for a moment, and adds “I always wanted to be different than other drummers, that’s why I’ve never tried to do anything else than afrobeat.”
Afrobeat was borne of an aim to provide social commentary on the inequalities inherent in African society. As a part of Fela Kuti’s Africa ’70, Allen was a foundational force in its development. He is quick to note that the problems afrobeat confronts are not exclusive to the continent, and in fact much of the drive behind the movement was motivated by struggles overseas.
“The social problems are not concentrated in Africa. Don’t forget that Fela had to go to the USA in 1969, meeting with the US black people to start to realize his Africanism.. As soon as we came back from the states, he started his fight against the governments and the dictature.”
A thoughtful expression crosses his faces as he muses “One sometimes has to move away from his own country to be completely aware of his home.”
Rather than adopt the same style of protest that his American contemporaries were developing, Allen states that he was always drawn to create something unique.
“I always wanted to sound different than U.S. jazz or hip hop artists. I hoped that maybe this alternative music vision would be able to effect someting in our society.”
With such a long history, I ask Tony whether he feels afrobeat might have lost some of its political urgency. I wonder whether it is still as politically charged.
“As long as African people will suffer of many diseases, there will always be artists fighting for them.”
His influence on popular music cannot be understated. The past twenty years have seen him collaborate with many big name artists. It would seem he has a soft spot for Blur and Gorillaz front man Damon Albarn.
(As Albarn does for him. The 2000 Blur single ‘Music Is My Radar’ is a tribute to Allen, the song ending with Albarn repeating the phrase “Tony Allen got me dancing.”)
“My aim has always been to fuse afrobeat with other styles of music and to spread it all over the world. I love to experience my drumming with others, like my different collaborations with Damon Albarn.”
His work with Albarn has included drumming on The Good, The Bad and The Queen album released in 2007, and he assures me there will be more to come from the pair, among other works.
“I am currently working with Damon Albarn on a new album project with other guests. I am also involved in Africa Express, a series of events promoting African music. We’ve had some hectic shows at Glastonbury, Liverpool, Lagos and Kinshasa, and there’s more to come in 2009.”
The world of music has changed a lot since Allen first taught himself to drum, but he remains optimistic about the industry as a whole. Whatever some might say about music losing some of its soul, it remains essential to him.
“It is vital for me. I don’t care what people may say about it.”
Allen shows no signs of retiring as time goes on, with his many collaborations in the works as well as a new album ready for release.
“My new album “Secret agent” will be released next June under World Circuit Records. But I won’t play my new album in this Australian tour.. next time for sure!”
Allen tours Australia in March. For info, head over here.
Musicfeeds - Tighter than a nun’s schedule!
Martin Martini is not a normal musician. Normally if a musician were to tell me that they went over to England recently with the sole purpose of finding a drag queen who picks up one hundred dollar bills with her asshole, I might be a little turned off. Normally I would. When Martin Martini explained this, however, it seemed strangely appropriate. Turns out he never found the drag queen, and he didn’t really like the country either.
“England’s a fuckin’ terrible place to play. I didn’t enjoy it at all. We went to Berlin afterwards and that was really fun. We holidayed in Berlin though, we didn’t play there.”
Everyone I know who’s been to England seems to share one major bone of contention; the cost of everything over there. Martin felt the tug on his hip pocket too.
“We lost a lot of money, put it that way. Even though people really loved what we were doing, we lost a shitload of money. The response was fantastic.”
Since then Mr. Martini has been rocking the socks off of adoring crowds in Adelaide, garnering five star reviews in the local papers to boot. He’s accompanied over there by an eclectic mix of complete strangers.
“They flew over some dude, some guy from the UK who’s two hundred kilos, and black and he dresses up in Lycra and does drag. They’ve got Paul Kapsis in the show as well and they’ve got this really cute blonde girl that kinda looks like Marilyn Monroe from Ireland who sings songs on the uke so it’s sorta all these people I don’t really know thrown into this tent to just sorta do whatever we want really.”
The option to do whatever he wants in these solo performances has prompted Martin to begin incorporating a rather obscure talent. Having learnt to tap dance from his mother as a young boy, he has decided to work it in to his live show through “a sort of a rap song accompanied by my feet.” Again, not something I would expect from a normal musician, but Martin Martini might very well have broken that mould.
“It’s a little bit weird. I’ve got a pair of dunlop volleys and I just chucked some metal plates on the bottom of those and I tap dance in those.”
Martin’s last recorded work was a dark, powerfully ominous affair. He explains that it was reflective of his experiences at the time.
“Yeah, that album, I dunno man, I was in a pretty bad place there. I was pretty sad and this woman fucked me up a bit. Then I drank too much and I got behind the wheel of a car and I fell asleep and then I went to court. Things were going down hill quick. I think it was a wake up call.”
He’s “out the other end now” and is working on a record that’s romantic again. It seems We’re All Just Monkeys was a learning experience, but not one that he wants to replay. The songs have been omitted from more recent performances, replaced by new and perhaps more uplifting fare, ready for his upcoming visit to Sydney.
“I just cut those songs out now. We’re playing a whole new set now that doesn’t really consist of the Monkeys album. We’ve pretty much got a heap of new material that we’ve been doing and I don’t think Sydney have heard much of it so this is pretty much the last time I’ll be coming to Sydney before we lay down a new album.”
The shift in attitude has also seen him concentrate on some athletic aspirations. He’s “fuckin’ obsessed with running” in an interesting experiment at reconciling his physical and mental well being. It’s a move that he hopes will make him a more prolific writer.
“That’s why I’m running, I’m trying to get fitter at writing. To be honest it’s not working yet, but it’s only early days. I’m steadily writing. I still write a song a week but I’m not writing enough. I want to write one every day.”
Most people wouldn’t make the connection between those two pursuits so readily, but Martin Martini isn’t like most people. I guess that’s what makes him so compelling on and off the stage.
For more info, head over to Martin’s myspace page.
Musicfeeds – Tighter than a nun’s schedule!
So, in the last couple of days, that old music machine Gudinski has been working overtime pulling together a hastily arranged benefit concert for the survivors of the recent Victorian bushfires, which have been dubbed “Black Saturday”.
Old Mickey G has outdone himself this time and managed to reverse some never-ever-agains that most had thought banished to the annals of music history.
Bands reuniting for the gig include Midnight Oil (resplendant with the Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett), Icehouse, Hunters and Collectors (so much for all those desperates who fought tooth and nail to get into Selinas in ’98) and Split Enz from over the ditch.
The second in a series of essays on what I may (or may not) have learned from music. The first essay can be found here.
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
The most common criticism of my music collection (apart from the fact that I own, and still champion, little known Mancunian outfit Haven to no success) is that I don’t own any albums by The Beatles.
I think the thing that perturbs said critics even more is my assertion that I have little desire to own any of their music. As someone who possesses Oasis and Crowded House albums (for whom neither would be around without the Fab Four), I must qualify my remarks.
Pound for pound they are the best singles band ever. Irrefutably. However I don’t need to own any of their music because their legacy is so ingrained in popular culture. Being in possession of Rubber Soul isn’t going to change my outlook on a damn thing. I know that concept is difficult for a lot of people to grasp, especially for those that are aware I have Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants in my collection, but there it is. The point being I get The Beatles, I just don’t need to get The Beatles.
Now that we have identified the Scouse elephant in the room let’s move on to the real reason we are here: You must be open to any band being able to charm the pants off you. In fact you don’t have a choice for that is their aim. Sure, you can have negative preconceptions about an act but be prepared to succumb at a moments notice.
Case in point for me: The Smiths
For years I ignored them. I cared not for the sulky music they peddled and even less about Steven Patrick Morrissey. As far as I was concerned, the pasty faced sooks that adored their music could have The Smiths all to themselves. I’ll stick to something a little more upbeat and a little less pretentious thank you very much.
I can’t recall exactly when I changed my tune but it was late in the piece. I am 28 now, so it must have been in my teens when I first heard of The Smiths (and subsequently hating them in one fell swoop). When I came around the entry point was definitely Johnny Marr and the three bands I have already mentioned (that aren’t The Beatles) are the ones to thank for that.
Oasis had always spoken highly of Johnny Marr in interviews (he eventually played on the Heathen Chemistry album), he formed part of Neil Finn’s all-star ‘7 Worlds Collide’ project and is it turned out, he was the one that discovered Haven (proving that even if the rest of the world didn’t catch on to Haven that at least myself and Johnny have the same taste in music).
With that many coincidences it made sense to re-appraise my view on The Smiths. Second time around, with a wisened head on my shoulders, I began to appreciate the droll humour in Morrissey’s lyrics and how that contrasted with Marr’s brilliant jangly guitar sound. Tunes like ‘The Boy With The Thorn In His Side’ and ‘Panic’ represented everything I loved about pop music. Suddenly I could hear their sound coming out of my Pete Yorn and Ryan Adams records and I realised that I had always liked them, I just didn’t know it.
I still think Moz is a bit of a twat but I am willing to concede that I was wrong about The Smiths and whilst I haven’t invested fully in their back catalogue (and may never do) I have broken through the invisible barrier from cynic to listener.
There are many bands that are still to win me over. The Cure definitely fit the bill and I have never understood the attraction to The Doors either. But I am at least open to the possibility of it all making sense one day. The same can be said for acts that I love but others may despise. I can understand not wanting to be seduced by Jeff Buckley or Led Zeppelin or Al Green (actually I can’t understand anyone not loving Al Green).
In the end you can have all the negative opinions you want but somewhere there will be a band (or the legacy of a band) trying valiantly to win you over. Be prepared because they may well succeed.
An amazing video from an equally amazing band: The Butterfly Effect. Both conceptually and visually this is a beautiful piece. Read the full story
From Jye Smith (Founder, TMB) and producer of Sonixtrip:
January 15, 2009: Progressive hard rock band Sonixtrip have released their first EP entitled Act I: Every Horizon. The full 5 track EP – which includes the full version of Push – is available for purchase. A free copy of the EP is available online (mp3, FLAC). See the photos from the EP launch.
Guest post by Laura Hamilton:
Electro-pop is big at the moment. Huge in fact. And although a lot of it seems to be coming out of Oz, there’s some movement on the other side of the Indian Ocean we should be paying attention to, and that movement has been created by a totally unique, self-styled new kid on the block called Jax Panik.
Hailing from Cape Town, South Africa, Jax’s (real name Jacobus Johannes Van Heerden) recent rise to fame is an incredible story, an inspiration to those wanting to get out there and make a name for themselves in the music industry while remaining independent.
Jax was born in 1983, the year of SH-101 synthesizers and Duran Duran. While other kids were blowing stuff up, he took up gymnastics and learned to play the trombone, joining his first band in high school and going on to jam in various groups throughout university, regularly switching from guitarist to bassist to keyboardist (and everything in between!). After gaining a tertiary degree in Visual Communication and working as a copywriter and freelance illustrator Jax became restless with the 9 to 5 drill. He decided to buy some cheap software and hit the recording and programming road solo. Jax Panik was born!
His signature sound is a sexy mix of pop, rock, and electro, with catchy hooks, clever lyrics, and sing-along choruses. It’s got heart, and loads of dance appeal, and you can certainly hear where his inspiration comes from.
“When I was growing up I got all this great music from my dad – Queen, van Halen, and a bunch of other keyboard-meets-guitar kinda bands. I discovered Talking Heads, Dead or Alive, New Order, Devo, Depech Mode, and so many other classics as I went along. It seems to me that 80’s pop and rock acts were more into having a good time than standing around and looking cool. That sort of thing just seems more honest than most of what’s going on in the charts today”.
”Stuff like Fischerspooner, Postal Service, Ladytron, The Faint, and Chikinki totally blew my mind in my late teens. Nowadays I’ve opened myself up to pretty much anything and everything when it comes to electronic music. At the moment I’m really enjoying stuff like Anoraak, Grafton Primary, Digitalism, Crystal Castles, Boys Noize, Goose, Justice, Sebastian, MSTRKRFT, M83…the list goes on. But I’m still the biggest sucker for good old commercial soft pop – I can totally get down to something like Metro Station!”
The most interesting thing about this musician is that he started out performing online only, something not many bands have chosen to do but in this digital-crazed era has proven to be a smart choice. “Keeping everything virtual means I can work with a flexible medium that offers new and exciting possibilities, and also connects you to a global community” Jax explains.
His wacky video performances can be seen on his website and various online community pages and have also been featured at various live events in South Africa including the launch party for renowned South African music website Speakerbox.co.za. Since the success of his first single, Cigarettes & Cinnamon, this completely independent artist has gone from strength to strength and is starting to branch out from the online world. He’s been featured in many of SA’s top publications and TV shows, and his music is gaining popularity on a host of local radio stations, including reaching number 1 on several popular radio station charts across the country.
2008 was a big year for Jax Panik, with 2009 set to be much bigger. Coming from out of nowhere, Jax has been labelled “the new messiah of the online-only music universe” and an “indie dance-pop svengali” by speakerbox.co.za. He enjoys thousands of views and fans on Facebook, Youtube, and Myspace and was recently nominated for the 2008 MTV Africa’s Listeners Choice Award.
Jax Panik’s highly anticipated, independently produced debut album, appropriately titled Cigarettes & Cinnamon, has just been released in South Africa. Check out his released singles and quirky video performances at these links and stay tuned for more cool tracks, behind the scenes info, new performance vids, and much much more…
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