A Musical Letter To Myself At Eleven and Three Quarters
Being eleven is a weird stage. You’ve just come out of primary school on top of the world, ruling the roost, sitting on benches, stamping your authority on other smaller kids. You have come, seen and conquered primary school. But it all changes when you start your new ‘big school’ and end up on the floor again at the front - the complete bottom of the pile in secondary school. You’re not yet a teenager, but you find everything below you too immature and everything above you too complex. It’s a odd time being stuck in the middle.
What was I like at 12?
We’re now in 2004 territory in my musical memory box. Meander back at my last post here if you haven’t been following. I was still a tomboy. I was still a nerd. I had not yet come to terms with going to a girls school. I did not like my short skirt. Avril Lavigne was my idol. My classic look was baggy jeans (complete with chains, which I put on when my mum wasn’t around) and various grungy looking tshirts. I wanted to be a grunger. I was desperate to be cool. I was an angry, angsty pre-teen.
I’ll set the scene so you can remember the world was like. Everyone in Year 7 got a coloured ipod mini for Christmas 2003 which was promptly stolen by older kids on the way home. Britney got married in Vegas for 40 something days. The Darkness and Dido were winning BRIT awards. There was uproar when Brian McFadden left Westlife. McFly become the youngest band to debut at number one. Destiny Fulfilled became an early morning staple in our Year 8 form room. Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below wins the Grammy for Album of The Year. It really was a simpler time for Hip Hop and R&B - will.i.am was less annoying and wrote great pop songs. The charts was still a place of variety and so taste-wise, I chop and change between pop, soft rock and R&B.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I grew up and still live in a very religious household. Getting to age twelve meant that my access to music was still restricted, but my tastes were changing again and my mum was wary of this impending conflict. The Sunday afternoon radio listening had switched from Capital to Xfm. I had my first experience with Nirvana. I loved it, and I secretly longed to be allowed to listen to “the devil’s music”. I will touch on this in a later post.
So I started with small steps, trying to manoeuvre my way into becoming a part of the rock and roll dream. I was a huge Busted fan. Busted were radio friendly and mum friendly and thus I happily received their debut as a tenth birthday present. Hindsight is a beautiful thing and so I can look back now and tut and shake my head at my choice but I can honestly see why I was so fascinated by it. Average looking guys playing music that appealed to my teenage wannabe self. Busted were clearly influenced by bands like Green Day and I went looking for bootleg versions of Basket Case that I could download using our dial up.
I remember asking my mum to buy me Avril Lavigne Sk8r Boi (such terrible text spelling/faux speak, I’m actually cringing here) at a car boot sale and I held my breath as she gave the cd the once over, and handed me the 50p to pay the smiling lady. I actually re-listened to Lavigne’s Let Go album recently and I could see why she was so disappointed with its sound. It is a decent pop album, but only Losing Grip makes her metal influences more apparent - there are shades of Korn and System of A Down particularly.
Pop punk and nu metal was big business way back then. But it was a shortlived phase. Remember: OPM, Limp Bizkit, Alien Ant Farm, Puddle of Mudd, Papa Roach, Reel Big Fish, The Offspring, Slipknot, Evanescence, P.O.D, Linkin Park? Most of these bands soundtracked me playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, FIFA or bus journeys home standing next to older kids. I discovered quite a few artists via playing on my PlayStation Naughty by Nature, Bad Religion, Mos Def, Korn, Fatboy Slim. They all slipped through the PlayStation music ban net.
After this run in with pop punk and nu metal, I finally discovered my first two new ‘real’ indie bands: Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand. I read about Bloc Party in the News Shopper. I have searched in vain to find that article, it could be possible that I dreamt it but I went into school the next day and searched for Bloc Party on the Windows Media Player Song Search function (as an aside: does that still exist? I’m guessing that it doesn’t). I was supposed to be doing some sort of Excel spreadsheet or typing away on Mavis Beacon but I put my headphones on and I was greeted with the 3 minutes of sonic bliss in the form of ‘She’s Hearing Voices’. It was put on repeat for the rest of the lesson.
My mum had noted differences in my behaviour and the clothes I was wearing and kept warning me that my new found love would have to go, it was probably soundtracking my descent into hell where all the rebellious teenagers went. Despite this, I bought Franz Ferdinand’s eponymous debut album solely on the strength of hearing Take Me Out one day - and it was my first real ‘guitar’ album, the one with all the tunes that girls could dance to. During my first listen, the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami occurred. I silently shat myself. Bad things were happening because I was secretly listening to guitar music. Realising, I couldn’t stop the forces of nature, I held my nerve with my new found lover. I bought the NME with Franz Ferdinand on the cover, and Alex Kapranos and Kele became my new musical heroes; they were angular, full of tunes and cool.
I was originally going to call this post ‘In Possible Defence of One Direction fans’ but I decided not to. Everyone is moaning that guitar music is dead but I see the problem as this: there’s no gateway drug (ie. band) to get young teens into glamourous rock and roll. Paramore are too much of a proper band, 5 Seconds of Summer (or whatever clean cut YouTube star is flavour of the week), Peace and Swim Deep are far too hipster-ish for your average eleven year old. We need Busted back. We need songs from average looking guys with guitars, singing about the future and breasts with just enough tongue in cheek to get you wondering about the world but the sort of CD that you can sneak past your mother. Artists who can lead kids down the right garden path; aspiring to the myth of teenage life in comparison to the hormone fulled, spotty, and confusing time that being a teenager truly is. This might be slightly hyperbolic but if I hadn’t bought that first Busted album who knows if I would be playing guitar right now….
This post is dedicated to my twelve year old self and to every Busted fan still in mourning.
Check out the playlist, it hopefully is a representative of what I would have been listening to around 2003-4.
#nme #one direction #nirvana #avril lavigne #grunge #xfm #capital #2004 #year 3000 #bloc party #alex kapranos #franz ferdinand #she's hearing voices #steve lamacq #five seconds of summer #busted #losing grip #tony hawks #pro skater 2 #paramore #OPM #limp bizkit #alien ant farm #the offspring #P.O.D #evanescence #mos def #bad religion #FIFA #korn
DOPE OF THE DAY
Disclosure - White Noise (Peace Live Lounge Late Cover) (by BBC Radio 1)
Yes, we are twenty minutes into the day and I’ve already found something worth posting about. Well reworked cover of one of my favourite tunes of 2013 - by one of my most liked bands. Match made in funk heaven.
DOPE OF THE DAY
Ben Hauke - Oz, Prepared Phonograph
More trippy hip hop beats from the banging Ben Hauke. This 2 minutes of crackly, sample heavy classic hippity hop comes from POP beats : http://bjaminmusic.bandcamp.com/album/pop-beats
#SoundCloud #BENHAUKE #Prepared #experimental #prepared #hiphopinstrumentals
gig review: splashh + popstrangers
EXAMS ARE FINALLY OVER and I’ve just landed back in Nottingham so I can finally relax. So I’m on the sofa in our flat writing this review of Splashh and Popstrangers at the Chameleon. It was my first time there, it’s quite a cool place, I will probably try and go a bit more now I know it’s disguised on top of a card shop.
Never have I ever been so enthralled by a support band that I hadn’t heard before. Whilst their stage presence was lacking and the crowd’s enthusiasm may have been feigned due in part to a lack of familiarity. Popstrangers were nonetheless impressive: full of fuzzy, discordant, grunge tunes. Check out Heaven below which has probably one of the best verse-chorus structures and chords that I’ve heard all year.
Despite the album pushback and a few technical problems, the crowd are all ears and allow Splashh to take them on a ride through their tuneful slacker-pop. Whilst Splashh’s tunes are in a similar vein to their fellow countrymen, Popstrangers, the extra guitarist and synths add whole new layers and textures to their tunes.
For 30 or so odd minutes, Splashh’s psychedelic swirling guitars, Sasha’s drawling and yelping and the understated, bright basslines and drums transport the crowd far away; moving through envelopes of noise and melody. Sasha tells the crowd before their last song that they’ll try and make it as long as they can and the extended version of Need It is a testament to their sound. For 7 minutes, the layers of reverbed guitars and dreamy lyrics and melodies unfold, unravel and decay slowly until the song is down to its bare groove bones; the dedicated bass and drums. For all its build ups and breakdowns, Need It is a brilliant sonic journey; promising signs for the album, Comfort.
#popstrangers #the chameleon #nottingham #splashh #london #new zealand #australia #grunge #fuzz #psychedelic #slacker #comfort #heaven
gig review: alt - j
Exams are holding me back unfortunately, so I won’t have time to write a proper review up. So here’s my photos from the Alt-J gig that I went to earlier this month. An Awesome Wave was truly awesome. Enjoy!
#alt-j #rock city #nottingham #breezeblocks #midskanking natty #an awesome wave
DOPE OF THE DAY
Moonchild - Be Free (DJ Jazzy Jeff Remix)
Came across this whilst trawling through Twitter on a revision break. I’m a major remix fan and this one is no exception. So dope.
#SoundCloud #thisismoonchild #Neo-Soul #JazzyJeff #Moonchild #Amber
I’m procrastinating from reading about the China’s economic landscape.
I’ve been writing lots of new songs recently and I’m finally getting over that whole shy thing and actually recording them. Hold tight, summer will be FULL OF MUSIC.
#SoundCloud #thenattster #Acoustic
DOPE OF THE DAY
Ghostpoet - Fader Mix
I think I’m starting to have a bit of thing for Ghostpoet. He may even be my ideal man.
His new album is lush, trippy syncopated beats and his rhythmic lyric delivery which he describes as ‘mumbling’. It’s all quite endearing stuff really for all its quirks: clicks, jitters, skips, jazz chords and afrobeat checks and slurs about The Thames and dim sum.
So I’m gonna chillout and listen to this mix, which 5:03 in, is sounding awesome.
#SoundCloud #The FADER #ghostpoet #fader
gig review: darwin deez
I have to apologise people - my posts are probably going to get weirdly sporadic as I have exams coming up, so I will hit periods of high productivity or procrastination followed by nothing. I really am sorry and I apologise in advance. I have too many outlets and ideas and as such this has taken a bit of a backseat. This apology is just a warning and/or formality, who knows if anyone reads this blog!
As for Darwin Deez, it was a great show. The crowd was young but energetic. I’m not sure how I really felt about support act San Cisco particularly as one of their songs was about being a stalker but the crowd around me seemed to enjoy it.
Darwin was everything I had hoped for and more. Not only he was a great dancer, he is a very mean guitar player - an under appreciated quality now days. His band joined in his little dance skits - one of which I managed to record but YouTube also succeed in ruining the clarity/quality of. Excellent.
I wasn’t surprised by the fact that the songs from the first album, interspersed between breakdancing and songs from SFIP, got the warmest receptions. Radar Detector was a messy, singalong affair, Constellations was perky as ever and Bad Day has the crowd all wishing some ‘My Name is Earl’ type bad luck in unison. It is only the punky, shredding You Can’t Be My Girl and jangly, upbeat (800) Human that meet the same applause and reaction as his first album’s work. His guitar work shimmered all the way through, however, particularly on All In The Wrist (which is slow burner, band swaying wail out) and Redshift which closes the night with a bang.
#darwin deez #rock city #songs for imaginative people #radar detector #san cisco #redshift #whip my hair #willow smith #thenattster #natheadrules #my name is earl #bad day #you can't be my girl #constellations #all in the wrist #(800) human
DOPE OF THE DAY
Tame Impala cover OutKast’s ‘Prototype’ for Like A Version
I’m not gonna lie - I was late to the Tame Impala hype. But one day I gave Lonerism a listen and it truly is magical.
Therefore covering Outkast’s psychedelic tune ‘Prototype’ totally works for them. So dope.
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