Feature: Gig Rig

Afternoon guys and gals, it’s Friday again which means it’s time for the fortnightly lowdown on forthcoming gigs. November is shaping up quite nicely for live music ”“ so far I’ve got tickets to see !!!, LCD Soundsystem/Hot Chip and Sleigh Bells, all of which should be pretty awesome.

Here’s my highlights of the new gig listings this week:

Fear Factory are predominantly an industrial metal band, who formed in the late 80s but then decided to go their separate ways in 2006 to work on individual projects. They have since re-formed, releasing their seventh studio album, Mechanize (not on Spotify yet :( ), earlier this year and will be playing a handful of UK gigs in December.

American indie rockers Band of Horses, whose 2010 album, Infinite Arms, is absolutely sublime will be hitting stages in the UK in January/February time next year.

If you fancy something a little more upbeat and live in the Bristol area, then you can catch Penguin Prison at Start the Bus in November or Metronomy at Thekla in January.



131 Spotisfaction Friday – 29th October 2010 – Dave Christensen

I’m not sure if it’s WordPress being annoying, me failing, or people not refreshing their browsers before editing stuff (*cough*), but for some reason today’s post reverted back to it’s pre-edit version and we lost all the changes. So here, again, is Dave Christensen with his “2009” playlist. Thanks, fella.

Hopefully this now works!

Dave C Says:

Ahhh 2009, that was a good year, wasn”™t it? Nostalgia ain”™t what it used to be…

We have two great features on Spotisfaction ”“ Tomorrow”™s Sounds Today and Classics Collected. The first tries to introduce us to a new selection of albums with some clever connection. The other forces us to “blow the dust off some records” that we might not have heard for a while or might have missed. ‘Why is there no middle ground?’ I think, while I struggle to find a niche for myself as a new contributor here. Well, maybe I”™ve found it, or maybe this is just a single playlist. Yeah, it”™s just a playlist.

So, I made a massive playlist of albums that were released in 2009 and that I listened to loads last year, but not much since. Then I listened to the lot and narrowed it down to an appropriately sized playlist. I think these are some great tracks from mostly brilliant albums (not Phrazes For The Young, that was awful). I hope you enjoy it. If not, make your own damn 2009 playlist. It took bloody ages.



Live: Levellers Present Levelling the Land Live

Every now and then something happens to remind you that you aren”™t as young as you used to be (and I”™m not talking about the hangover I had this weekend, here). The first thing that made me feel old was earlier this year when I found out Marathon hadn”™t been called Marathon for 20 years! (for younger readers Marathon is the old name for Snickers). The latest thing that reminded me of the passing of the years was Levellers announcing they were on tour again next year. Now, you may ask why such an announcement would make me feel old? Well, the reason is that this tour for Levellers is to mark the 20th anniversary of their album Levelling the Land, and the first ever concert I attended was on the original tour for that album all those years ago.

Levellers, and indeed Levelling the Land, mark a special point in my music growth. Not only was this my first gig, but Levellers were one of the first bands that I introduced to my older brother rather than the other way round. Since then I have, of course, gone on to develop my own music tastes, but this album marked one of the first steps on my journey of musical discovery.


Review: Bob Dylan – The Witmark Demos 1962-1964

I want to admit from the start that I am a big Dylan fan and that he is one of my favourite artists of all time. I was already a devotee when I first got Spotify, but my love for him grew as I was able to listen to any and all of his huge back catalogue and wasn”™t restricted to the 7 or so albums I already owned. Then a terrible thing happened. He disappeared from Spotify. Possibly never to return.

This has led to my developing hatred of Bob. I still love the music, but the man seems ridiculous and irritating. I don”™t understand why he removed his music from Spotify and other similar services. How much is he worth? Does he really fear reduced album sales, as a result of music streaming, and therefore a reduced income? Apparently he doesn”™t like big screens at the sides of the stage at gigs because of the opportunity it gives people to record his concerts, which presumably would stop them buying DVDs or possibly even stop them from going to the concerts. Finally there is this Bootleg Series, which seems like a way to sell more albums without any more work. Maybe I”™m a cynic.


130 Spotisfaction Wednesday – 27th October 2010 – Kev Atkinson

Afternoon all. Sorry for the website outage this morning – our provider had a bit of a hiccup (they managed to lose an entire datacentre, bless ’em), so we were out for most of the morning. Back now, though (uh, obviously otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this…), so apologies for the delay to the playlist today.

We’re running a little short on playlists at the moment – if you have an idea for a concept; if you have a story you’d like to tell with music; or if you just want to chuck a bunch of random tracks into Spotify, please send them our way and we’ll publish them.

Today’s playlist comes from Kev Atkinson and is entitled “The A-Z”. Brilliant concept, and a very enjoyable playlist. Thanks fella!


Kev Says:

As a little side project on my personal blog I”™ve been creating a series of playlists with artists starting with the letter A and working my way towards Z. When I started on this project I quickly hit upon the problem of what to do with bands that began with “The”, did I ignore the “The” or did they all count as Ts? Well the decision I made was to discount any artist beginning with “The” and create a separate playlist for them. Once I started on this idea I took it one step further; could I do a complete playlist of artists beginning with The and then the following words going from A to Z? Well I came close and thanks to James for coming up with an I as I was completely stumped by that one.



Feature: The Death of the Festival Headliner

So, another year of festivals completed. Having attended Reading along with a host of smaller local festivals, and having read about and seen the TV coverage of Glastonbury, I was left with the feeling that maybe the notion of the true ‘headliner’ at such events has had its day – either that or maybe this just wasn’t the year for it.

I’ll start with Reading as thats the biggest festival I attended this year, with the three headliners being Guns ‘n’ Roses, Arcade Fire and Blink-182.

On first inspection, only one of these leapt out a bona fide show stopper, which to me is what being headliner is all about; something that will draw people in whether the casual music listener or the die-hard fan, and that was Guns ‘n’ Roses. And, despite all the stories surrounding the band that really should be known as ‘Axl & Co’, things had seemed promising, with reports of a very talented group of musicians playing a bunch of undeniably classic songs, along with some stuff from the recent album Chinese Democracy.

Sadly when the band eventually hit the stage (an hour and half late – thanks Axl!), though the music was there, it was one of the most heartless displays of rock ‘n’ roll I have ever witnessed. This was just compounded by the crowd’s reaction; hearing 80,000 people boo is quite a sound, and sadly many, myself included, were left majorly dissatisfied by the Friday headliners.

So, I thought to myself, that wasn’t so good, but Blink-182 should be a fun, upbeat crowd-pleaser on Sunday.

Maybe I came to this show with rose-tinted specs having attended my first Reading festival in 2000 with the express purpose of seeing Blink, but I don’t think my disappointment can be put down solely to fanciful memories.

While bassist Mark and drummer Travis were both on fine form, the band and the show were let down disastrously by Tom De Longe. Whether he was actually out of his tree, or just acting it, was unclear. And it really didn’t matter, as either way his performance was abysmal. It felt like watching a member of an under-rehearsed teenage band playing their first show. Maybe this was intended as charm to remind us they were a ‘punk’ band in their heyday, but if it was, it sadly didn’t work.

So another headliner and another disappointment.

Features Playlists

Feature: Classics Collected

Hello and welcome to another edition of Classics Collected, where we at Spotisfaction Towers go all Time Team on you and dig up some classic record relics (and Dave would make a good Tony Robinson).

Presented to the experts for valuation this week (purely for insurance purposes, naturally) are a nice mix of styles from Rock through Hip-Hop and Dance to the Tarzan and Jane of Jungle. I’m sure each one will come back from auction as a bobby dazzler and we hope you enjoy them too. As always, make good use of our comments system, let us know our hits and misses and if you have any suggestions for future editions, be they albums, artists or themes, then let us know!

Stereophonics ”“ Word Gets Around – Deluxe Edition – Our first choice this week is an album I’ve long known that I would be including at some stage, but my hand has been forced by its recent re-issue (or at least re-inclusion to Spotify) as a deluxe edition. With many of our choices, the albums represent a great deal to those of us, and indeed to those of you who were of a certain age at a certain time. This album in itself represents a great piece of songwriting, let alone as a debut, with each song expertly spinning its own tale of life. Its impact to my social scene at the time was huge and, as a result, this album and its follow-up will always have a special place in my heart.

Ocean Colour Scene ”“ Moseley Shoals – This album was chosen as it had a similar impact to the above at the time of its release. Helped a little by heavy use on the popular show TFI Friday I’m sure, and spawing a large number of songs, this was a massive commercial breakthrough for the group. It started a miniature mod revolution on the back of it and, for a few summers, you didn’t have to go far to find coverage of Ocean Colour Scene.

DJ Shadow ”“ Endtroducing… – This artist has a massive heritage in the hip-hop production scene and has worked with more artists over his career than I’ve had pointless arguments on internet forums. This was an important breakthrough album for DJ Shadow and as a piece of musical work created almost entirely on samples and loops, it inspired a massive number of bedroom breakbeat Beethovens.


129 Spotisfaction Monday – 25th October 2010 – James TAE

Goood moorning Spotisfactionnn, gooood moorning eeverybody.

Hope you’re all well. London is both sunny and absolutely freezing at the moment, I think it’s going to be another iced-over winter. I’m looking forward to the days when I don’t have to come to work because of it. Then I can work on playlists all day, which is why we’re all here, right? Of course, you don’t want to hear from me all the time, and truth be told neither do most people here at the site, so make sure you get your best (and worst) playlists submitted to us. Check the Submission Guide on how to do so. Keep those playlists a-comin’!

My playlist today is entitled Poets Union, and it’s a collection of songs featuring my favourite verses, lines, spits and flows. You might look at the list and think that there are some dubious choices, but hopefully I present here an appreciable bunch of lyrics and performances. By way of a blurb, I think I’ll quote a favourite line or two from each of the songs. You can just leave this here and listen to the playlist, or read on for these snippets from the songs.

Take it easy


Preview: RightClickSaveAs

The last decade has been pretty good for indie music. The Strokes quintessential Is This It, released in 2001, wrestled control of rock music from the excesses of nu metal in the 90s, providing a taught, stripped-back lo-fi sound that reinvigorated indie music and set the ball rolling for bands like Interpol, The National, Kings of Leon, Razorlight, Bloc Party and many others in the subsequent years.

In the middle of the decade, bands like Interpol and The Killers integrated influences from the 80s – the formative decade for many artists today. Combined with the flourishing electro scene under Justice, Erol Alkan, Simian Mobile Disco and others, indie’s final integration with dance music was completed with Hot Chip’s The Warning in 2006, and the Klaxons’ Myths of The Near Future in January 2007. Since then, electro has been king, with artists like Friendly Fires finding their electronic side the more fruitful of their parent influences. So, ever wondered what glitchy electro-pop would sound like if it was done by just one man and his acoustic guitar? The answer is RightClickSaveAs.


Review: The Rural Alberta Advantage – Hometowns

With a name like The Rural Alberta Advantage and a début album called Hometowns you would be forgiven for expecting a folk/country band singing wistful indie folk tunes about where they grew up. However, although this Toronto-based three piece do sing songs about their home towns whilst playing acoustic instruments, this is not your typical country album.

Though there are some undeniably country influences on the album, what really makes it stand out are the drums. Paul Banwatt’s drumming is incessant and energetic and on many of the songs is at the centre of the mix, leading the songs in a way you don’t often hear.

But it’s not all about the drums, as they are wonderfully arranged alongside quirky synthesizers and twangy acoustic guitar, and these elements superbly accompany the rasping delivery of the heartfelt lyrics by Nils Edenloff.

There is an intensity and energy present throughout the album, whether it is in the fervent drumming on tracks like The Dethbridge in Lethbridge or in the absorbing, deeply personal, lyrics that regularly touch on the topics of love, loss and the feelings of broken-heartedness. Even when the tempo slows on tracks like The Air or Sleep All Day you can still feel the passion within the music, and in fact perhaps even more so.


128 Spotisfaction Friday – 22nd October 2010 – Paul ‘Fozz’ Foster

Morning kids. Got a pretty feature-packed day for you today which hopefully explains why the playlist is ever-so-slightly earlier than normal. Some good news to kick off with: Spotisfaction HQ is getting crowded these days as we’ve had a couple of newbies join our staff ranks – say hi to Dave Christensen, Rob Tite and Tom Girard. Look out for stuff from these fine chaps in the near future. We’re always looking for more content, just so you know, so get in touch if you want to join our illustrious ranks and write for Spotisfaction.

In other news, James TAE keeps stealing the biscuits, and Kev smells distressingly of booze – thank God it’s the weekend and I can get out of here! In the build up to escape-time, today’s playlist by Paul “Fozz” Foster is, frankly, stuffed full of relentless energy and has gotten me completely pumped up for the weekend. I’m sat here listening to The Bloody Beetroots and dancing around like a loon. Wahsomes, kudos to you Fozz.

Catch you next week, amigos.

Fozz Says:

There’s no particular theme to this playlist, it’s just a bunch of tracks that have caught my attention over the last few weeks. It does work best listened to at high volume though, at the risk of irritating your neighbours/housemates/parents.

I absolutely love each track for various different reasons so it’s hard to pick any stand-outs, I just hope you enjoy listening to them as much as I have.


Review: 3 Daft Monkeys – The Antiquated & The Arcane

Tim Ashton, Athene Roberts and Jamie Waters, otherwise known as 3 Daft Monkeys, have been working on their blend of Balkan, Celtic, reggae, Spanish, punk-infused folk for more than a decade now. They are, in a sense, the UK’s answer to the also superb American folk trio Nickel Creek, but though equally adept at crafting a heady mix of influences into folk songs, the 3 Daft Monkeys are also known for their ferocious and uplifting live shows.

Neither is it a mean feat for a folk band to have been as successful, not least because they have insisted on doing it without ever signing to a label. They have avoided mainstream attention and have committed to extensive touring and the hard work that goes along with it. It’s no surprise, then, to see their music developing with a bredth and maturity not often allowed in an industry that has grown used to bands, at the pressure of their labels, pumping out albums every 18 months.


Review: Ben Folds & Nick Hornby – Lonely Avenue

Back in 2002, English novelist Nick Hornby published a collection of 31 short essays documenting how different songs have influenced his life. 31 Songs is a fascinating read; very well written, offering the reader a unique insight into the mind of a music lover and how his love of music can carry him through any hardship. Amongst the tracks chosen by Hornby to describe his life was Smoke by the alternative indie rock trio Ben Folds Five, which held the most resonance in the collection due to the subtle lyrical connotations depicting the breakdown of marriage. This appreciation fused a friendship between Hornby and Folds, resulting finally in 2010 with their collaboration, Lonely Avenue.

The album contains eleven tracks with all lyrical content written by Nick Hornby and all music performed by Ben Folds. This inspired marriage instantly gives the collection an intelligent narrative, enforced with a strong piano-led musicality, turning each song into a beautifully crafted short story. This quality can be found throughout the album, especially in the bitter-sweet ‘Picture Window’, the soulful character portrait of ‘Practical Amanda’ and the tale of childhood innocence in ‘Claire’s Ninth’, which was actually Hornby’s first ever short story. The most striking track on the album is ‘Doc Pomus’; a driving melody and rhythm referencing the 1960s songwriter, whose story provides this collaboration’s namesake.


126 Spotisfaction Wednesday – 20th October 2010 – Simon Mogg

So, another Wednesday. I think Monday gets a bad rep, to be honest – all weekdays are pretty crap, not just Monday. And on that lovely note, happy birthday to contributor Ben Mercer! Love!

Anyway… Today’s playlist is by Simon Mogg and is entitled “The West Wing”. I’ll be honest, I never really watched it. I may need to bug you for the box sets…


Moggy Says:

There have been seven seasons of The West Wing. I’ve watched them all… a lot. I love everything about it. I think all elements of the show are of tremendous quality and that includes the choice of music. Other than W.G. Snuffy Walden’s incidental music, they pick a mixed selection of tracks to complement the episode that they are included in. Many tracks are very emotive, some very strange but most are just very good. Here is a playlist of some of the best from all seven seasons, in order.

The Yo-Yo Ma cello piece is absolutely beautiful. I very much like the tone of the cello. The Dire Straits track used at the end of season two really swells the mood of the season finale and helps create a dramatic climax. Tori Amos‘s very breathy version of ‘I don’t like Mondays’ is coupled with a storyline about a bomb in a school and adds a haunting feeling that can bring a tear to the eye. I could talk at length about the rest of the tracks as well but it would be dull for all of those who don’t know the show. I will just leave you with this advice: even if you skip the rest of the playlist, at least listen to Massive Attack, Steve Miller Band and the two Chopin piano pieces they are all brilliant in their own way.

Hit the link for info on which tracks came from which seasons.


Review: A Genuine Freakshow – Oftentimes

Every now and then you come across a band that you think is truly something special, and this is exactly what happened earlier this year when I saw A Genuine Freakshow at the Frog and Fiddle in Cheltenham. It was a quiet night and the small crowd didn’t do justice to the quality of music on offer that evening.

Since then I have managed to see A Genuine Freakshow live once more at 2000 Trees festival, where, for me, they were one of the best acts of the entire weekend. However, as brilliant as they are live, when it comes to studio versions of their music we’ve had to settle with repeatedly listening to the four tracks available from their website. And so it was with bated breath that I awaited the release of A Genuine Freakshow’s début album, Oftentimes.

This seven piece from Reading add cello, violin and trumpet to the more traditional rock four piece and have influences that include Mogwai, Mew and Sigur Ros, all of which could lead you to think that Oftentimes would be a pure post-rock offering. But while these influences do inspire some post-rock tendencies, A Genuine Freakshow have a lot more to offer.

Tim Sutcliffe’s falsetto vocals and melancholy lyrics complement the grandiose feeling to the songs. The inclusion of the ‘classical’ instruments adds layers to create an overall sound of almost epic proportions that is very much at home in the post-rock genre. However, these tendencies are tempered by more technical pop stylings to create some unpredictable song structures and a sound that is fairly unique.