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THE MACCABEES – GIVEN TO THE WILD PREVIEW

 

 

 

This may give you the impression that the decision on how good the new Maccabees album is going to be has already been made. Perhaps, it has something to do with the release of two astounding songs and a appearance on BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge. The first release, Pelican sees The Maccabees sound growing, becoming much more epic without being detrimental to their past sound. Similar to the number one album of 2011 from Bombay Bicycle Club. They haven’t lost their roots with any of the releases so far, which many will be glad to hear, particularly in the more subtle Feel To Follow (although the second half of the track is so far from subtle – another epic wall of guitars). The Live Lounge performance of Child is what really made me take notice of this release early – three and a half minutes of beautiful calm before the massive storming crescendo of vocals (rather than the guitar based Feel To Follow) If your going to listen to any, please  make it Child – actually scrap that listen to them all and then buy the album next Monday.

Pelican: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rcp8SE_FxBg&ob=av2n

Feel To Follow: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQfYNHyFZ_0&ob=av2n

Pelican (BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3xLEdeefvs&feature=related

Child (BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0UOfM-rMtU&feature=related

It has to be said that it’s looking very unlikely that The Maccabees are going to fall into the weak third album trap after hearing these. It will be very shocking if the rest of this record is not up to the same standard. Is an epic career defining album looming? It certainly seems likely. At very least the world has gained three extremely beautiful songs.

Due: 9th January 2012

The Maccabees

Oscar B. Wilson

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An Introduction To Film Soundtracks.

Owning just four film soundtracks on CD and a further one on mp3, some may believe I cannot possibly be well versed enough in film music to publish my opinions in any kind of authoritative way, especially a virtually anonymous post on a website. However this is merely because one must rigorously evaluate a film soundtrack before paying the extortionate high-street prices for the aforementioned genre. This is because film soundtracks run the gauntlet of having dud tracks or tracks that simply do not fit, for simplicity I will choose to cite the song Walking Song by Meredith Monk on the soundtrack to The Big Lebowski, which happens to be one of the soundtracks I own. Some may argue the song echoes the bizarre nature of the film however I would counter that the song is simply irrelevant as the rest of the soundtrack reflects the eccentric nature of the film, for example the extraordinary cover of The Eagles’ Hotel California by Franco-Spanish flamenco band Gipsy Kings who graced the cinema world recently with their charming cover of You’ve Got A Friend In Me for Toy Story 3.

I would argue that the criteria of success for a film soundtrack is far broader than that of a regular album because, despite running the risk of dud tracks, the selection is far more likely to triumph, for example the David Dobkin film Fred Clause, which suffers from what can only be described as Terrible-As-Usual-Christmas-Film-Syndrome, a disease that plagues the cinemas every year like a particularly nasty strain of Ebola. Fred Clause however has one stand-out scene that isn’t blighted by symptoms such as soppy discharge or bleeding ears due to the banality and predictability of the dialogue. A man teaches a dwarf to dance in order to impress a beautiful woman, an unsurprisingly idiotic scene though it isn’t unfunny and the song chosen lifts the scene out of what could have been an uncomfortable situation. For some reason Beast Of Burden by The Rolling Stones strikes the balance between being beautiful enough to make the scene ironically funny but having the signature Rolling Stones rock-blues beat to drive the pace of the scene along in a way that sets the scene above the rest of the film. Especially the final scenes in which dwarves watch family’s open presents that the dwarves themselves admitted the families did not want on a giant snow globe that can see into any house on the planet, I won’t discuss the implications of this in light of the fact that real people do ask others for products from Ann Summers for Christmas. What really makes this scene almost painful to watch is the hideous selection of Silent Night on the soundtrack. Now I am an enormous fan of the carol, especially preceding Tom Waits’ Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis during his set on the Old Grey Whistle Test in the late 1970s – yes that is a plug, go and watch it on YouTube- however this mournfully slow version is simply so out of place in what is essentially an exultant scene that it makes me think they were just trying to work a carol into the film for the sake of it, which never makes for a good piece of cinema.

A good film soundtrack usually means that one can listen to it with great pleasure without watching the film, or that it fits the film seamlessly, or even in some cases that it is set against the mood of the film to great effect, a perfect example being Stealers Wheel classic Stuck In The Middle With You during the famous scene of grotesque torture in Tarantino’s gem Reservoir Dogs. Tarantino himself is famous for his command of music in his films and the Pulp Fiction soundtrack is another of the film soundtracks I own.

Pulp Fiction has arguably the greatest soundtrack of any film ever made adhering to all the success criteria Tarantino uses songs that one can listen to while relaxing in the bath and songs that one can dance the night away to, as Uma Thurman and John Travolta do in another of cinema’s most wonderful scenes. As the pair pull out dance moves that harken back to Travolta’s earlier career in musical cinema, I think I need not cite examples, the wonderful choice of Chuck Berry’s You Never Can Tell plays on the soundtrack. This blending of tunes that both fit the film wonderfully but are so listenable outside the context of it are why the soundtrack is so perfect.


   Of course, the opening moments of the film would not be so memorable if it were not for the inclusion of Miserlou a song with strange Greek and Serbian origins. Set alongside the freeze-frame of  two would-be armed thieves raising their guns in the diner they are about to ransack the song is perfect, it sets off the film with an electric vitality and makes the bold credits far more interesting. Miserlou does suffer in my opinion however because of it’s repetitive and heavily distorted, modern sound which, when listening to it on the CD, has the same effect that I imagine being strapped into a chair in an empty warehouse and having Woody Woodpecker sit on your chest and peck directly into your cerebral cortex would. This said however the  track on the CD is  particularly pleasing because the recording includes a short amount of Tarantino’s rich dialogue before the song actually begins. Snippets of machine-gun dialogue are peppered around the soundtrack like the bullets of the hand-cannon that miss Vincent and Jules by inches in a particularly sharp scene, these add to the intoxicating effect of the soundtrack.

   Though I realise I might be bloviating perpetually on Tarantino but he simply is a master of film soundtracks, I have already mentioned two of his films that adhere to all the criteria of a successful film soundtrack and I haven’t even time to make a significant dent in the man audacious enough to include Morricone music in his own faux Western cum revenge B movies Kill Bill. It is important however to make a lasting plea to the reader to go and buy the Collectors Edition of the Pulp Fiction soundtrack if it is only for the sixteen minute long interview with the director on how he listens to his records to inspire his films. Perhaps with that rationale he has hit on pure soundtrack gold and for anyone who loves music and film he is certainly a man to study intently.

That is not to say however that the only soundtracks worth listening to are those of Tarantino films, I would be out of a job rather quickly if I was only to talk about the music of his seven full films, especially as I have already talked about the essence of why his soundtracks are so perfect. No the world of film music is far more complex than Tarantino; Scorsese for example is far more prolific and I would say he has done far more for film music and music in general than Tarantino ever will or could. However discussing the music of the greatest film director of all time shall have to wait for another review, that is supposing the powers that be at Coda don’t balk at my entry and I am never seen again, you never know I might meet the same fate as Chris Tucker in Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. Hm, I wonder which song was playing at that moment… I can’t recall…I’m sure it was superb though.

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BEST ALBUMS OF 2011

This is only going to be a short list, twenty of the best releases of 2011 – containing a very strong top five of the universally critically acclaimed mercury prize winning P J Harvey album; to the pretty much unknown fourth placers Cashier Number 9 with their belfast “baggy” music in the form of debut To The Death Of Fun; on to the infamous WU LYF’s Go Tell Fire To The Mountain; with The Horrors’ epic being very unlucky to have missed out on the top spot and been released in the same year as the flawless second electric record from Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind Of Fix, an unquestionably clear record of the year.

For the best tracks of 2011: https://codamusicblog.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/best-tracks-of-2011/

The complete top ten follows:

1. Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind Of Fix

File:Bombay bicycyle club a different kind of fix.jpg

The unrivaled stand out release of the year, shocking topping the brilliance of Bombay’s first album I Had The Blues. A pop record full of beats and nods to The Stone Roses brand of psychedelia. The infusions of guitar based indie and melodic folk makes it Bombay Bicycle Club’s offering clearly a record of its time. You cannot go without listening to this record.

Review Link: https://codamusicblog.wordpress.com/2011/09/30/bombay-bicycle-club-a-different-kind-of-fix-review-and-download-links/

Top Tracks: Take The Right One, How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep, What You Want and Your Eyes.

2. The Horrors – Skying

How have The Horrors reached this point with an unlistenable first album to their third, Skying – a masterpiece and force of nature which although not entirely ground-breaking stylistically is a beautifully created record. The themes of oceans and expanse resonate through an album without a faulty song on it.

Review Link: https://codamusicblog.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/the-horrors-skying-review/

Top Tracks: Still Life, You Said and Moving Further Away.

3. WU LYF – Go Tell Fire To The Mountain

Don’t think for a second that WU LYF are all about the mystery of their image because this album is euphoric undecipherable sound-scapes. They brought something very different to the tale with the success of the contrasting elements of screaming savage vocals and clean poppy instrumentals gives WU LYF a memorising signature sound.

Review Link: https://codamusicblog.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/wu-lyf-%E2%80%93-go-tell-fire-to-the-mountain-review/

Top Tracks: Heavy Pop, Such A Sad Puppy Dog, 14 Crowns For Me And All My Friends and L Y F.

4. Cashier Number 9 – To The Death Of Fun

Cashier Number 9 haven’y caught many people attention this year, with their top youtube video only reaching 40,000 hits – and god knows why not. They have a really accessible sound and make joyful jangling guitar music which sounds so perfect prticularly well done the three tracks mentioned below.

Please Note: Due to the opening of Codamusic being half way through the year, not all of these albums have been reviewd.

Top Tracks: Oh Pity, The Lighthouse Will Lead You Out and Make You Feel Better.

5. P J Harvey – Let England Shake

As mentioned earlier, the universally critically acclaimed mercury prize winning Let England Shake truly deserves such prefixes. It is an beautifully executed politically based  album about the war and ruin which which have caused. The love for a great nation, or what used to be a great nation – not that the album’s beauty can only be realized with this theme. Every song is brilliant so don’t just listen to the tracks below.

Top Tracks: Bitter Branches, The Last Living Rose and Written On The Forehead.

6. Arctic Monkeys – Suck It And See

A return to form from the Arctic Monkeys, with a mature album that is listenable and also lyrically brilliant. It’s not the Arctic Monkeys of old, but really no one in their right mind would want that after listening to this. And one belter of a closing track:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9U1r38di-8 (Number 1 on the Best Tracks Of 2011 list as it happens)

Review Link: https://codamusicblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/arctic-monkeys-suck-it-and-see-review/

Top Tracks: That’s Where Your Wrong, The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala and Reckless Serenade.

7. I Break Horses – Hearts

The first overseas album, from Sweden’s I Break Horses whose electronic shoe-gaze pop is one of this years highlights. A trance-inducing cascade of electronic music, which really seems to have a soul. An under the radar album of other worldly majesty.

Top Tracks: Winter Beats, Pulse and Wired.

8. S.C.U.M. – Again Into Eyes

S.C.U.M., a post-punk outfit who say their music is the manifestation of repressed lust. Their debut album takes influence and mood from Joy Division – a must listen for any post-punk devotee. Although its of a particular taste, the darkness of the music really comes through as euphoria rather than depression.

Top Tracks: Whitechapel, Amber Hands, Cast Into Seasons and Faith Unfolds.

9. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Having assumed the worst after the Beady Eye’s flop, Noel pleasantly surprised with this collection of tracks. If you never liked Oasis these aren’t for you as they are nothing new but if you did, its blood good stuff. If only he had spent a few more minutes thinking of a better name, lets be honest it shouldn’t take long.

Top Tracks: Stop The Clocks, If I Had A Gun and (I Wanna Live In A Dream In My) Record Machine.

10. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Unknown Mortal Orchestra

The best of this years influx of brilliant American lo-fi psychedelic rock which includes Smith Westerns and Moon Duo. Trippy, drug distorted vocals and direct punchy guitar. UMO’s debut is also very accessible and relatively easy listening for what it is, making it one of the coolest albums of 2011.

Best Tracks: Ffunny Ffrends, How Can U Luv Me, Biocycle and Thought Ballune.

11. White Lies – Ritual

12. Metronomy – The English Riviera

13. The Crookes – Chasing After Ghosts

14. Yuck – Yuck

15. Glasvegas – Euphoric /// Heartbeat \\\

16. Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde

17. Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials

18. The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From The Vaccines

19. Moon Duo – Mazes

20.The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar

Disagree? Missed any of yours? Pray Tell.

Please note that these are not the opinions of the whole codamusic team but of one man.

Oscar B. Wilson

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THE STONE ROSES: RECURRECTED

The Stone Roses have officially reformed – this cannot be missed even if you think that a legacy should be left alone – it probably should to keep the myth alive for those of us how are under the age of forty. But they have given pretty good reasons to reunite; money problems?, the current state of music today “boring, bland and corporate with nobody saying anything”, and that they are one of the greatest bands of all time – with their debut album widely considered the greatest album of all time.

After years of speculation the moment that has been equally dreaded and wished for at the same time has finally come. The original lineup of Ian Brown, John Squire, Mani and Reni announced today (18/10/2011) that they are to play two homecoming gigs at Heaton Park, Manchester on the 29th and 30th of June 2012 before beginning a world tour.

Tickets released at 9:30am on October 21st (THIS FRIDAY) for the first two shows. See The Stone Roses website for more information:

http://www.thestoneroses.org/

The second greatest band of all time, must show that this is not a legacy killer but an epic encapsulation of the magic that is oh so clear on there recordings and must have been even more so back in Manchester during 1989. Everyone has to agree of their brilliance, it’s just whether or not they still have it because it would be disastrous personally, let alone for the group if it did not work out. But they were so great the first time around, who says that they will not be great again, besides they have got a year to rehearse.

A Year in which our anticipation and therefore expectations will be building and building – can they match them, or even top them altogether. There is nothing for it but to wait. Leaving you with a few of their own words: This is the one, I’ve waited for.

Best Five Tracks From The Masterpiece – The Stone Roses (1989):

  1. This Is The One
  2. I Am The Resurrection
  3. Waterfall
  4. I Wanna Be Adored
  5. Shoot Me Down
Other Noteworthy Tracks:
  1. Fool’s Gold – Single and Turns Into Stone (1989)
  2. Love Spreads – Second Coming (1994)
  3. Elephant Stone – Single and Turns Into Stone(1990)
  4. So Young – Single and Garage Flower (1985)
  5. Made Of Stone – The Stone Roses (1989)
Oscar B. Wilson

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Velociraptor! – Kasabian

Following the 2009 success of West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Kasabian released their fourth studio album in September this year. It was always going to be difficult for them to produce a good follow up to WRPLA, but they definitely succeeded and produced an album which was a step up.

The album is packed of catchy melodies, memorable guitar riffs and are likely to be massive hits; and if the rumors of them headlining Reading/ Leeds Festival next year turn out to be true, they will be fantastically received by the crowd. The song Switchblade Smiles was the first song to be released by the group, providing a hint of what the new album was going to be like; and Days are Forgotten was the first available single to come from the new album, even making an appearance in the UK top 40 which is such a rarity for rock/ indie artists these days.

Velociraptor! works well as an album because of how the songs flow into one another, and also function independently. This makes the album a good starting point for new fans, and also an album that can be listened to in its entirety. There album is a reminder of the Brit-pop era, with similarities being found between Blur, Oasis, and Pulp. There is definitely the guitar influence from these bands, but with added strings and  orchestral melodies clearly heard in Acid Turkish Bath: mirroring the moves of Blur and the Verve.

Songs worth a listen to from the album include (not in any order):

1. Velociraptor!

2. Let’s Roll Just Like We Used To

3. Days are Forgotten:

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An Introduction to…Dubstar

Sarah Blackwood first encountered Chris Wilkie and Steve Hillier in a pub up in Gateshead, where they sat, drank, and, amongst other things, discussed and appreciated the Smiths. Wilkie and Hillier needed a decent singer for their group, and Sarah, as the story goes, had been brought to their attention due to her then boyfriend leaving one of demo tapes at Hillier’s flat.

‘The Joans’ had formed after one or two of Chris’s bands had gone under, and while finding something to do in the meantime, he met Steve while he was DJing at the ‘Walkers’ nightclub. Chris struck up a conversation, and the subject turned to forming a band.

‘It turned out he’d had similar aspirations of his own, sitting in his bedroom in Jesmond, wanting to be a singer.’ remembers Chris of this first meeting. ‘He said he played the guitar a bit which disappointed me because I knew that I was a good guitarist and I thought that the guitar would be my bag. But he was also a programmer – playing keyboards – because he’d had to make his own demos at home. So he invited me over to his place to listen to what he’d been doing.’ (1)

Chris had been playing guitar since he was 6, and, like so many other budding musicians of the time, had been influenced by Johnny Marr (just as a certain Noel Gallagher had been). Marr and co had such an influence on Wilkie that the band name that him and Steve eventually chose was modelled on ‘The Smiths’ – ‘The Joans’ – an average name carrying on the simple ethos. The name was eventually changed due to concerns of being mis-labelled as another indie rock group.

After hearing that demo tape (which happened to be ‘Sunday Morning’ by The Velvet Underground (2) by Sarah, she was recruited as their lead vocalist. They recorded a few demos with the support of their now manager Graeme Robinson, of who’s attention the group first came to after he witnessed one of their shows in early 1994.

Their big break came through when one of these demos found it’s way into the hands of Andy Ross, the boss of record label Food Records. He was so enlivened by the band that he promptly met with them in Newcastle and signed them to the label. It wasn’t as if this was a hobby, start-up label either; ‘Blur’ was also one of their signings. For the young Sarah Blackwood, this was overwhelming; ‘I kept thinking either I had sold my soul or done something very very good in a previous life’ she recalls. (2)

They recorded their first album in a studio near Bath with Steven Hague, who was fresh from recording Blur’s ‘To The End’ and New Order’s ‘Republic.’ The eventual end product, the 11 track ‘Disgraceful’ (along with it’s controversial cover art, seen below, which was banned by Woolworths due to bearing a resemblance to certain part of the female anatomy) was released in October 1995 on Food Records, who by now had been absorbed into record giant EMI.

The album eventually yielded four singles, quite an achievement for a debut. ‘Stars’ and ‘Anywhere’ loitered around the bottom end of the top 40, but it was ‘Not So Manic Now’ that got the band finally noticed, achieving an entry position of 18th.

What followed was the usual run around of TV shows, festivals, and concerts. Their Reading and Top of the Pops appearances that year helped expose them to a further audience.

A follow up came in 1997, reordered this time in Stephen Hague’s own studio in New York, entitled ‘Goodbye,’ and was met with praise.This was supposed to be their big entrance to the US, paving the way for a tour, but due to corporate mergers, their album was not high on the promoter’s to-do list, and the tour never materialized. However a small UK tour was undertaken, including an appearance at one of the wettest Glastonburys to date. The band played a great rendition of ‘Stars,’ with Sarah’s vocals right on, and Chris looking as cool as hell on stage right with his guitar. The performance can be seen here.

Sessions for their third album occupied most of 1998, although hardly anything came from them, with relationships within the outfit beginning to show cracks from the pressures of touring and songwriting. After a short break however, by 1999, along with a new producer, the album eventually got recorded, finally released in August 2000 entitled ‘Make it Better.’

The band, instead of doing what every true fan would hate, and begrudgingly carrying on for the sake of a large paycheck, called it a day and agreed an amicable split in 2000, thereby retaining their dignity and image without it being blighted by infighting, and break-up horror stories. The band continued to sell however, with a ‘Best of’ compilation released in 2004.

That was, however, not the end. After a couple of false starts, the band came together to produce a charity single for Amnesty International. This reinvigorated the band, now, in August 2011, their new album ‘United States of Being’ is now at the mixing stage, with a larger audience awaiting their return.

So what of their actual music? Well, it is difficult to sum up. They span dance, pop, dream pop, and alternative rock. In particular, their earlier releases are defined by melodic vocals, atmospheric and dreamy keyboards, and ethereal guitars. ‘Stars’ and ‘The Day I See You Again’ are laden with beautiful chord progressions, and ‘The Self Same Thing’ bears all the hallmarks of a classic pop/rock song. Lyrics are, according to Wilkie, based on real life experiences, are lucid enough to give an idea while at the same time not being obviously blatant, as well as inviting further discussion as to their meaning. Subjects such as Sexual equality through to elderly abuse, as well as tales of collapsing relationships are all covered within the songs. Sputnikmusic sum up ‘Disgraceful’ as ‘Wonderful ‘The Smiths’ aping synth pop,’ (3) which is true. In some places, for example on ‘Anywhere’ it is Johnny Marr’s guitar plus keyboards.

It is the sort of music that screams summers of the nineties, providing large elements of dance and indie pop from the era. Stephen Hague also brings his electronic touch to their sound, having experienced and influenced the likes of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and the Pet Shop Boys in his time.

Dubstar are a very underrated group, having never broken through in the States, and while they had their time in the UK, they are not as well remembered as they should have been. However, release of their new album is set to bring them back into the spotlight, heralding a new era for this band.

Dubstar: Left to Right: Steve Hillier, Sarah Blackwood, Chris Wilkie

Recommended Listening: Stars and No More Talk and The Day I See You Again

Recommended Albums: ‘Disgraceful’ and ‘The Best of Dubstar.’

Sources:

  1. http://sidsmith.blogspot.com/2007/04/dubstar.html
  2. http://www.eblackwood.com/index.php/dubstar
  3. http://musicianforums.com/review/33654/Dubstar-Disgraceful/

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Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill


Lauryn Hill is an American recording artist, perhaps known for her work in the Fugees or her amazing solo career. (Or perhaps for being in Sister Act 2, or marrying Bob Marley’s son or having a really cool afro and dreads). However you may have heard of her, one thing is certain, she is an extremely talented musician – as evidenced by her 1999 Grammy success. She became the first woman to be nominated in 10 categories in one night and the first woman to win five awards in one night. She won Album of the Year (beating even Madonna’s critically acclaimed Ray of Light), Best R&B Album, Best R&B Song, Best R&B Female Vocal Performance and Best New Artist.

Her voice is seemingly effortlessly stunning, but more than that, it’s emotive and heartfelt. Her lyrics sound true and hit you hard. To compare her to Beyoncé: Yes, B may have a good voice but she keeps churning out manufactured toot (Who Run the World is just dire considering how talented she is). Also when you listen to someone else with just a good voice it’s easy to not listen to their message. But Lauryn Hill keeps you listening with her rich, deliberate vocals – making sure her messages about love, hardship and faith strike you.

The whole album has a cool, old-skool ish kind of vibe or mood and it was only broken by a horrible advert on my Spotify account in which The Wanted asked me if I knew a future Olympic flame bearer (I don’t).There’s an interesting theme of education; where in between tracks there’s a scene in a classroom with a man and a group of young girls, one of them being Lauryn, where they talk about various things. One such thing is love; some of them are really quite nice.Songs to listen to if you can’t be bothered with the whole album:
Lost Ones
Doo Wop (that thing) – the video for this is pretty cool too
Forgive Them Father
Tell Him

Give it a listen folks.

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by | August 22, 2011 · 8:27 am