12 July 2007

Lost in the fire - is your digital music collection safe?

Came across this article on nme.com about how many music collectors who have switched to digital downloads instead of cds may have a serious problem if their beloved computer or Ipod goes up in smoke or otherwise gets lost.

Seems like many insurance companies haven't adapted to the new world of digitalised music and the fact that large music collections now only exist digitally instead of physically. And the few that do will probably look closely at any major claim coming from someone having lost thousands of songs. And how do you document how much money you've spent on downloads? Who really keeps track of this?

I'm still a fan of cds so the issue is not real to me just yet. But how about you? Where would you be if all of a sudden your computer got lost in the fire?

Le Mec

New album from The Cure - Could this, then, be the return to form?

The Cure are back with a new album in October. A double album even.

A long-time Cure fan, I can't help being fairly relaxed about this. The last couple of albums from the band have been far from exciting so the odds are against them pulling out a stunner this time. However, the word on the street is that the album will be more upbeat and a return to their previous sound - a bit like 1987's 'Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me'.

Were this to be the case, I would certainly rate the new album as a crucial release this autumn. But let's look beyond the hearsay and just wait and see what we get.

Le Mec

8 July 2007

Alanis' humps

You may already have seen Alanis Morissette's take on the Black Eyed Peas hit 'My Humps'.

The great thing about this piece is how, while you're watching it and long after, i rises as a very pointy comment on pop music today and how focus has shifted from the music to everything else (including humps).

It's been a while since Alanis released anything interesting. This one she got just right!

Le Mec

When simple music video concepts really work!

30-some years into the age of music videos, it's always great when you see something new, innovating or just plain funny.

The video for OK Go's 'Here It Goes Again' probably falls in the last category. The concept is simple: a 3-minute choreographed tread mill dance. Sounds simple but these guys pull it off in an amazing way.

Who says you need to spend a million bucks to make a great video....

Le Mec

7 July 2007

Uninspiring benefit concerts

I don't know about you but I am finding the current stream of benefit concerts rather uninspiring and definitely not worth the attention from an artistic point of view. I'm not attacking the purpose of supporting important causes, such as Live Earth promoting awareness about the current climatic situation. What I'm saying is that I am finding it really difficult to mount any form of excitement over the performances at these events.

I've been watching the events 'Concert For Diana' and 'Live Earth' and am really disappointed by the number of pale performances lacking nerve and real commitment. It may be because the shows take place in full daylight but it seems very difficult for most artists to really get into the groove and deliver a performance worthy of the noble cause they are supporting.

Maybe inflation has set in and the number of these kinds of events are just too high. I for one have lost quite a bit of the fascination and will never again discover the sheer goosebumps of anticipation I experienced back in 1985 with Live Aid. The prospect of gathering so many great artists was simply unbelievable. And the performances also seemed to be more heartfelt. At least compared with today.

I for one will not be marking my calendar and vigurously defend the event against something more interesting when the next 'fantastic' event comes along.

Le Mec

4 July 2007

Upcoming wonder boys

Their myspace site say they are unsigned. I can’t understand how this can be true. No wonder the decline of the record industry, when they leave such talent out...

The band I’m talking about is DE CAPULET from Arizona. Band members Jakob Johnson and Benn Mendelsohn are some of the most talented musicians i’ve heard in a long time. They describe their music as “...a fusion of The Beatles, The Shins, Counting Crows, and even Death Cab for Cutie...” and “...indie rock you can dance to...”.

Unfortunately I haven’t found a way to buy any of their music. Please tell me if you know where! Until then I have to be content with daily visits to DE CAPULET myspace site, where you’ll find five f...... amazing songs.

Visit http://www.myspace.com/decapulet

…or take a look at the video “Love at a High Speed”



Remastered re-issues: Re-invention or rip-off?

I admit it: I am a music collector, which means I am in the target group whenever great albums get remastered and re-issued. I am part of the group of people who may just buy the album once more to get the new and improved version.

Now, some would say that it's just a rip-off by the record companies and that it's a smart and sneaky way to blow new life into old and burried material. Well, I can understand this point of view if you're not really that interested in the little (sometimes big) improvements in how the old release sounds when it's been through the remastering process. Or if it means a higher price for the new version. However, most often the new version just replaces the old and usually at the same price (at least after a little while). So I don't see too many drawbacks for the normal consumer. For the collector it may be a different issue if you then can't resist re-newing the entire catalogue of for example Rolling Stones (honestly, who would want to...?). That can be a costly affair. And I guess that, ultimately, this is what pays for the remastering (I'm sure Mr. Record Label has done the math).

Anyway, I'm a sucker for these new releases and I have a hard time not wanting the new offering, knowing that the one I've got may now be inferior sound-wise. Even though the sonic improvements may be hard to hear. So more than once, I've been through a process, like snakes, of shedding my skin and face-lifting the collection of favourite artists. I just love it when new life is breathed into old material. I mean, most 80's albums sound much better and more dynamic in their remastered form. Who does not want that?

I know there are those who prefer the sound of the original release, which is often a bit more dusty and analog (at least for many 70's albums). Not me. As long as more clarity, dynamic and focus is brought to the soundscape, I'm all for it.

So bring on the remasters. If the album still holds it own, I'll probably end up buying it once more.

Le Mec

Affair with French pop

I have had a love affair with French pop music going for the last 15 years. I know a lot of really bad music comes out of France, but they do also make very special pop music, which contains that very special French flavour and sensual element. That's when things become interesting.

I've been particularly following artists Mylène Farmer, Zazie, Jean-Jacques Goldman and Francis Cabrel. Where the first two are female pop with a twist, the last two are singer-songwriters or troubadours. All are characterised by a very atmospheric and very French flavour. J'aime beacoup!

Take a highly recommended tour:

Mylène Farmer: California

Zazie: Des Rails

Jean-Jacques Goldman: Sache Que Je

Francis Cabrel: Je t'aimais, je t'aime, je t'aimerai

Le Mec

2 July 2007

rodrigo y gabriela rules!

Who the f... are they. Well take a breath and spare a few minutes to hear their music. I’m sure they’ll convince you of their potential.

“Rodrigo y Gabriela” (Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero) are a mexican acoustic guitar duo, who plays – as described by The Evening Standard – (acoustic) “Latin Metal”!

They met while playing in trash metal band "Tierra Acida" back home in Mexico City. But very soon they found out that their was no future for this kind of music in Mexico. So they travelled to Dublin, where they finally got success.

Their self-titled album “rodrigo y gabriela” (2006) entered the Irish Albums Charts at #1, leaving - among others - Arctic Monkeys debut album behind.

The album was re-issued in the spring of 2007, where it was highly acclaimed by music magazines; “The MOST exciting acoustic act in the world” (Acoustic Magazine), “A storm of an album” (Word), One of the best guitar albums in ages; one of the best discs this year” (Billboard) and “This music is the sound of passion as interpreted by and spoken for in a new rock & roll language” (All Music Guide).

Recenly they have supported Muse at the new Webley Stadium (June 16, 2007).

Well.., visit their myspace site or the bands own website. You won’t be disappointed.



Music to look out for this autumn

As always, the summer is pretty slow when it comes to new album releases. People are away enjoying the summer and record companies are holding out for the autumn with the release of new material.

This usually means that the end of the summer marks an interesting time for new music and this year's no different.

On my list of albums to look out for, I've got quite a few albums from established artists who will again grace us with new music.

First and foremost, DURAN DURAN are lining up 'Red Carpet Massacre', an album containing collaboration with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake. I'm sensing it'll be a less guitar-driven album but am hugely looking forward to their collaboration with the hottest pair in dance pop right now. This simply cannot go wrong!

Swedish indie rockers KENT also return with the follow-up to their brilliant 'Du & Jag Döden'. Over the years, this band has steadily grown into a personal favourite of mine and I am expecting more melancholic guitar-based indie pop with that special Scandinavian mystique layered around great melodic anthems.

One of the revelations of 2006 were Danish synth rockers SPLEEN UNITED. Their new material has already been previewed at a couple of shows and critics are saying that it's even better than their debut 'Godspeed Into The Mainstream'. If this is actually the case, doom and gloom will once again sound ever so sweet.

Staying in Denmark, TV-2, the essence of being Danish, will once again shower us with '80s flavoured pop songs commenting on Danish life. It's a bit odd praising a band, which most foreigners will no doubt have a hard time understanding, but nevertheless their upcoming album will be an essential release for me this autumn.

The same can be said for the solo debut from Del Amitri frontman JUSTIN CURRIE. While we wait and see if the Del Amitri break is permanent or not, it will be good to get another doze of his bittersweet pop hymns. Hear some of them on his MySpace page.

Legendary westcoast rockers THE EAGLES are rumoured to be lining up an October release for their long-awaited album. Besides 'Chinese Democracy' from Guns N' Roses, there's probably not an album, which has been spoken more about and looked forward to. Having heard some of their recent stuff, however, there's also a certain risk that this will be a huge let-down. I hope they will come across less patriotic American and more like the old Eagles...

Trance heroes CHICANE release 'Somersault' on 23 July, which should make for a great summer soundtrack. They are still the bearers of one of the greatest trance albums ever ('Behind The Sun').

Finally, UK indie newcomers HARD-FI are back with their second album. I thought the first one was packed with great indie pop and a real grower, so I'm sure the second will be worth checking out.

All of the above are looking like October/November releases.

Stay tuned for more recommendations.

Le Mec