Feature: Do You MP3?

Hi guys, I have a question for you: Do You MP3?

The other day I was performing some long overdue maintenance on my PC when it occurred to me that the 70-80GB worth of MP3s I have on my hard drive haven’t been touched now for quite some time. A quick peruse of my programs showed that Winamp (my long-time MP3 program of choice) wasn’t even installed on my latest OS install, something I had done some months previous.

I wondered at that point what I should do with them. Should I leave them on one of my drives taking up valuable space that could be used for more useful data like educational videos [Editor’s note: “educational vids” indeed… ahem], or should I pop them into offline storage? Another thought occurred – would it really be a big deal if I deleted them altogether?

It was the fierce protection of my MP3 collection that got me making backups in the first place, a process that I have long gotten out of the habit of, and this leads me to the nub of the matter:

Is the humble MP3 already a dying format? We’ve all been there – I’m sure if many of us went up into our lofts and garages we would find VHS cassettes or (if you’re an early adopter) Betamax tapes, we’ll find old C90s, minidiscs, and maybe even the odd 8-track. Do any of us still have the devices on which to play them? I would say in most cases probably not, so why do we hold onto them? Is it the aesthetic value? Is it habit or is it a strange notion of duty for all the pleasure they gave us?


118 Spotisfaction Wednesday – 19th September 2010 – Mike Sheldrick

It’s a hectic day here, so this playlist is a bit late, apologies. But what a playlist it is from Mike Sheldrick today. Keep the submissions coming, we love hearing them and letting them be heard. Here’s Mike’s blurb for his playlist Road Trip.

Mike Says:

And hello again, my friends. And in this episode, its all about turning the volume up to eleven, windows down and sunroof open. Yes, folks its time for a great Spotisfaction Road Trip. So without much further ado lets fill up, and get rolling.

And off we go, with the epicness of Mr Meatloaf (or at least a tribute). Nothing better to get the spirits up than a classic rock anthem. The rest of our journey will continue in very much the same vain as we carry on on our Road to Hell. We get a bit dancey with Hey Boy, Hey Girl and Insomnia, intense enough to keep our motors engaged. And so onto our little sing-a-long section. There comes at time, on every journey, for reflection, with that in mind, the always pleasant ”˜On Your Way”™ will soothe the soul.

We carry on our little trip with a few tracks with a bit more energy to keep us going. With the exciting riffs from the Aliens and the Foo Fighters, you may end up needing to check the speedo. Sadly I could not find The Arcade Fire version of Keep the Car Running, but I found the next best thing. A cover that I feel best represents this finger tapper. And of course, all good trips must come to an end, and I think a nice way to conclude our mini excursion would be with the poetic genius of Drive by Incubus. Have a safe trip everyone, and send us a postcard!


News: Counter Culture

London’s 4-month multi-arts festival Counter Culture finally opened its doors for launch night on Friday to a capacity crowd and a guest appearance by the one-and-only Suggs.

Held in a pop-up venue (formely Jacks but now happily Counter Culture for the next 4 months) under London Bridge, the project held a first class night featuring performances from A.Human, Viva City and Man Like Me (joined by the aforementioned Suggs) and The Subs. In the second room were DJ sets from Sunday Girl, Anti Chris, Hatesy, The Invisible, Rotating Leslie and RightClickSaveAs, the place was busy until the early hours of the morning and the organisers can be immensely pleased that the project kicked off with such success. I’ll include some photos from launch night once they’ve been published.

The party continued on Saturday with the Counter Culture house DJs, and on Sunday was the first weekly film night, with a free showing of Withnail & I (whilst supping White Russians and eating the free nibbles). Sundays will, from next week, by hosted by Short & Sweet, showing short films, music videos and animations from a range of known and unknown directors.


Article: Musical Genres… Good, Bad or Ugly?

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There are an awful lot of musical genres in the world, but are they A) a useful tool designed to guide people towards a band or artist that they will like; B) a constrictive framework that means bands get tagged with a label that they cannot shake off regardless of how much they try; or C) an outdated irrelevance that helps no one because of the sheer volume of different genres on offer?

Here’s my opinion, and please do feel free to disagree with me in the comments section.

For 5 years between 2003 and 2008 I was a DJ (in the loosest sense of the word) in several different drinking establishments throughout Aberystwyth. I played largely alternative music – rock, punk, ska, metal etc. – but I also worked every Friday night in a dingy (and very sticky) night club called Y Bae (or The Bay for those who do not live in Wales). This, unfortunately, meant I had to dabble in the dark arts, or “popular music” as it is also known. I played all sorts of music from Girls Aloud to Cradle Of Filth. Requests are an unavoidable hazard of the job and quite often, rather than asking for a particular track or artist, the customer would ask for a whole genre of music. This led to the night when someone asked me for “Funky House”. I still to this day have no idea what Funky House is. I can’t name an act that fits into this genre, but the most ridiculous thing about the whole situation was neither could the guy making the request. Turns out in the end he wanted something like Pendulum which I am fairly sure is classed as Drum and Bass, but who even knows any more and this is where the problem lies. There are so many different genres that, for the most part, people don’t know what they mean, and as such they are of little help at all.

Playlists Reviews

Feature: Classics Collected

Hi everyone and welcome to another edition of Classics Collected, where we at Spotisfaction continue our work as Music Time Lords going backwards this time instead of forwards. The SpoTardis this week has stopped on the year 1994 and all our albums (with 1 cheeky exception) were released in what turned out to be a very succesful year for those of you who love to rock, and love the sound of good guitar music!

Apologies to those looking for our usual mix of musical diversity – I’m afraid this list stems from a recent jump through old albums and a conversation with some colleagues. Originally this list was going to include the excellent Ten by Pearl Jam and following a chat with some friends (and some divided opinion on its greatness) I wanted to make a classic list that started with Ten and then had some other albums to compare it to in order to seal the deal once and for all. In searching for good albums of the age it quickly appeared that a number of truly great albums of the genre(s) were released in 1994 and in fact 1994 was a real golden age.

Weezer ”“ Weezer – aka The Blue Album. As debuts go this record really ticks all the boxes. At the time it was pretty original in terms of sound, and there certainly weren’t many similar acts. It spawned a couple of hit singles to get it into the mainstream consciousness, and in this writers opinion is still their finest work despite the many great albums which have followed it. If nothing else, this release should be remembered for the Happy Day’s inspired video for Buddy Holly and the Guitar Hero mainstay, My Name Is Jonas.

Green Day ”“ Dookie – Whilst not their first album, it was certainly the first album that gained them any serious attention and made them MTV darlings of the age thanks to the anthemic Basket Case (which also happened to have a great video). At the time I was very into the “extreme sports” scene and this record seemed to be on constant play at parks, tracks and events across the land. In many ways this was their peak, more refined than its excellent predecessor (Kerplunk) and the next couple of follow ups were strong but never quite as complete.


117 Spotisfaction Monday – 27th September 2010 – Marc Williams

Morning folks. I trust you all had a lovely weekend? Not an awful lot to report this fine Monday morning, to be honest, other than to remind you that CounterCulture is still ongoing and would still love to see you. Also, although I had a fairly manic weekend, but this EP has really chilled me out today so I thoroughly recommend you check it out.

Today’s playlist is by Marc Williams, and has the distinction of being the first playlist to feature a certain ornithological piece. I’m pretty sure everyone has heard by now, but if not this should make amends.

As always, let us know what you think of today’s playlist in the comments section. We love your feedback, and it helps us shape future content too. Win/win, really.

Finally, if you’d like to make your own Spotify playlist for us, we’d love to feature it. Just send us an email, or sign up for an account on the sidebar to the left and follow the submission guidelines above.

Love, etc.

Marc Says:

One of the best things about Spotify for me is how easy it is to discover new music. Not only new bands but stuff I wasn’t so familiar with. This playlist is all about this with a few old favourites thrown in for good measure.


News: What’s On – Gloucestershire Music Festivals

Those of us around the Gloucestershire area have a feast of music to choose from this weekend with two music festivals happening simultaneously.

In Cheltenham, the Frog and Fiddle pub is hosting Frog-Fest. Last year this was a one day event but this year for the first time they’ve decided to make a weekend of it. Starting with an opening gig tonight, the weekend will see two full days of gigs both in the Frog and Fiddle’s barn stage and on a new acoustic stage outside (hopefully the weather will stay away, then). Over the weekend Frog-Fest presents a host of local talent and some bands from a bit further afield, including Jim Lockey and The Solemn Sun, Midnight Mile, Rookie/Error, Orchid Fever, Brown Torpedo and Emmett Brown.

Meanwhile, over in Gloucester at the Guildhall there is the Underground Festival. This is a new music festival featuring emerging and unsigned bands from all over the country. Boasting three stages on both Saturday and Sunday the line up includes The Joy Formidable, Pulled Apart By Horses, Morning Parade, Tubelord, The Xcerts, Little Fish and Wild Palms.

This is looking like a good little festival with a great line up promoting smaller bands so I hope that it does well and returns next year.

Tickets are still available for both events on a daily basis or for weekend passes. Further details are available, with complete lineups and times, from the websites for each event (just click the links above).

If you’re attending any of them, let us know – a few Spotisfaction staffers will be in attendance at each, so come say hello.


116 Spotisfaction Friday – 24th September 2010 – James Battin

Afternoon, kids. I’ll keep it brief since things are a little busy behind the scenes today. If anyone is out and about this weekend (and why wouldn’t you be, what with CounterCulture‘s launch, Frogfest and Underground Festival?), let us know what you’re up to.

Today’s playlist is by staff-member James Battin (aka Battinski) and is entitled Rhythm and Blues Friday.

Have a lovely weekend,

James Says:

Hi Guys,

I thought it about time I got in the playlist groove again and what better day than a Friday? Everyone’s on the wind-down anyway, so I know you’ll all listen to this as opposed to doing some work ;)

My picks this playlist are a mix of funk, soul, rhythm and blues. I’ve tried to mix some classics with some more modern interpretations just to keep it fresh and hopefully its not all too dark – I don’t want to bring you down on a Friday, but the core of my musical roots is around the blues genre in its various forms so I’d like to bring some great music to as wide an audience as possible.

All the tunes are great examples of the artists and I hope if you like them you’ll explore some back catalogues, as pretty much every artist below has a very rich back catalogue of great music be it Detroit garage blues, Motown soul or Mississippi Delta blues

Peace , Love and Music


Review: Interpol – Interpol

Subconsciously, the first listening of a new album by one of your favourite bands might instill a feeling of anxiety, leaving you longing for a rehash of earlier material to satisfy your original love for the band. Fans of the New York based indie rock outfit Interpol may do just this, having 2007’s critically disappointing Our Love To Admire fresh in their ears. Thankfully, as is often the case with Interpol, this new offering continues to surprise, impress and mesmerise the more you listen to it.

Ok, so in terms of sound, Interpol isn’t far removed from it’s predecessors; a heavy consistent rhythm section coupled with shimmering guitars, and covered with smirking vocals. But, despite giving the band an identity, this signature sound has been updated in places. For example, in ‘Always Malaise (The Man I Am)’, the conventional Interpol set-up is challenged by the shifting mood and rhythm carried over by the layering of harmonies. The band appear to have also branched out and dabbled with piano effects and electronics to achieve a fresh sound. These new effects give the track, and indeed the album as a whole, a lighter tone, albeit with heavier lyrics.


News: My Chemical Romance

So this video was brought to my attention today. It appears My Chemical Romance are releasing a new album, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. No official news as to when yet, although internet rumour tells me November 22nd (who in their right mind believes internet rumour, though?).

MCR appear to have taken a slightly new direction in their artistic style; gone is the gothic style military look of old and in comes a brand new live-action comic book style. Whether or not this will change the musical style in any way is an entirely different story, though. I’m still not completely sure if I like My Chemical Romance as their last album was spoilt for me by far too much radio play. Looking forward to giving them another go.

From what we’ve heard of new track, ‘Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)’ which was premiered on Zane Lowe’s BBC1 show yesterday, I think this album could be a fun one.

Hit the link for their teaser trailer for Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.


Review: Les Savy Fav – Root For Ruin

Les Savy Fav, then. It’s been 15 years since this hugely influential yet often overlooked art-rock/post-hardcore band formed, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that they may now, like other similarly-aged bands, be phoning in their records. I had the same initial concern, especially since 2007’s Let’s Stay Friends saw the band’s greatest work to date, embellishing their hardcore roots with a growing maturity they had discovered in the 6 year hiatus since Go Forth in 2001. Surely things must have gone down-hill since then?

The band get straight to work in dismissing these claims, with frontman Tim Harrington screaming “we’ve still got our appetite” on album opener, Appetites. I’m unsure as to whether this track is a statement of intent or a wakeup call to themselves, but it’s hugely exciting, driving and vicious and really sets the tone for the rest of the album. The guitar work by Seth Jabour and Andrew Reuland on this track is simply mesmerising. The intelligence in writing such complimentary yet challenging guitar hooks is evident, and it seems as though their apparent one-upmanship is the driving force behind the band, each colourful layer adding hugely to the overall asthetic of the track. This continues into the jackhammer punch that is Dirty Knails, a track that reminds me of Future of the Left – fitting, really, since that band count Les Savy Fav as one of their prime influences.


News: Dreadzone Tour

British Dub-Electronica institution Dreadzone are about to embark on a huge 27-date UK tour this Winter in support of their Eye On The Horizon album, released earlier this year.

Starting at The Button Factory, Dublin, on Wednesday 29 September, the band are on the road for nearly 3 months, ending at The Duchess, York on Sunday 12 December.  Along the way they’ll be visiting all four corners of the UK, including Edinburgh, Exeter, Norwich, Birmingham and London.

Still a phenomenal live experience after 15 years, if Dreadzone are playing near you, we recommend you go and see them. For the first leg of the tour they will be supported by Reading-based roots-dubstep collective Engine-Earz Experiment (6 Oct – 14 Nov), and then for the second leg by experimental dub duo She Is Danger. Tickets are now on sale, full listing below.


115 Spotisfaction Wednesday – 22nd September 2010 – Woody Whyte

Hey kids. Happy hump day for those labouring away at work. In my opinion, Wednesday is the perfect time to start planning your weekend, so if you’ve not yet sorted your plans for world domination, get yourself to CounterCulture‘s opening weekend under the capital’s London Bridge Station. It looks, frankly, intense – Friday night kicks off with live sets by The Subs and Man Like Me, along with DJ sets by The Whip, Sunday Girl, RightClickSaveAs and many other acts. The following 98 days are shaping up to be equally as awesome. I fully encourage you to give them some love.

Today’s playlist is by staff member Woody Whyte. He’s a bit ashamed of this playlist, and in the interest of being open and honest I’m also a bit ashamed to say I quite enjoyed it…


Woody Says:

Rarely does anyone in the world think to themselves “Hmmm, I wonder what happened to Ashanti?”. However, one afternoon procrastinating in my room avoiding writing my dissertation, I experienced this dreaded thought. It bought back memories from when I was 11/12 going to an under 18s disco at a seedy nightclub, bump ‘n’ grindin’ somewhat inappropriately for my age along to many of the tunes in this here playlist. What dark times we (ok, I) was living in. But for a bit of nostalgia (and because I love public humiliation) I decided to make a playlist about it.

I decided to go solely for American female R’n’B singers and rappers from around ’95 till ’05 although that might be a few odd ones in there. Stand outs have to be Aaliyah or Kelis. These songs bring back many memories; the sticky dance floor, punch-ups every week and the smell of teenagers throwing up in the corners, *sigh* those were the days. Eventually the night got closed down and I discovered Muse and Less Than Jake, although I suspect a majority of the clientele didn’t move on. This will either make your skin crawl or you’ll laugh your face off. I do hope it’s the latter.


Review: Cheltenham Underground, Slak

The Cheltenham Underground have a reputation for putting on interesting music nights. Not having any preconceptions or limitations as to style or genre, you are never quite sure what to expect on one of their shows except that it will be a good night with some great music.

And so, after a summer break the Cheltenham Underground returned, and where else could they put on the show but their spiritual home of Slak in Cheltenham?

First on to the stage, or at least the area of floor designated as the stage, was Johnny5thWheel. A mixture of traditional folk with more modern stylings, Johnny often plays with his roving band TheCowards but this evening he treated us to a solo set. A quirky sound with an odd lyrical and vocal style – something akin to The Decemberists deciding to play Monty Python songs – led to an interesting if uninspiring set. When the most memorable part of the performance is the singer”™s moustache (which was so impressive a Victorian villain would be proud) it’s not a good sign.


Review: Muse, Wembley Stadium

Following the commercial success of The Resistance late last year, Muse recently returned to the stadium circuit. Their two closing sets on the UK leg of this tour hit England”™s capital, with a packed out Wembley Stadium.

Walking into the stadium early to embrace the day and catch the warm-up acts, one could be forgiven for questioning what might be in store later on. The almost overstated stage dominated the temporary pitch – its strange angular design stood tall, proud and suggestive, generating a warm sense of intrigue. The sun began to set, and the lights came up. The rapturous roar of the crowd bellowed and echoed around the arena, and Muse kicked-off their 2 hour set with the explosive ”˜Uprising”™. With the volume turned up waaaay past eleven and approaching obnoxiously loud, the instant energy generated from the excitable crowd felt as if it would blow the roof off. Though the volume was overwhelming, the sound of every single note, drum kick, guitar pluck or vocal line was lovingly tweaked to create a sound as pristine and perfect as a fully mastered studio release. Moving effortlessly into ”˜Super Massive Black Hole”™, It was clear from the off that this was a set to be remembered.