Alternative music reviews

February 26, 2008


Filed under: ramblings — @ 12:49 am Comments (0)

I am not a fan of massed “strings” in rock music but I do love the use of a violin, viola, or cello. This stretches back to first hearing the Velvet Underground and Mr John Cale, and numerous other bands since. There are many ways to use bowed instruments – from the drone of Tony Conrad to a melodic foil to the vocals. But my favourite use of a stringed instrument is when it maintains some of the harshness of a bow scraping against the strings and uses the dynamic range. There are two particularly fine examples of this virtuosity on the Oxford scene at the moment.

The Cogwheel Dogs are a duo consisting of Rebecca Mosley on guitar and vocals and Tom Parnell on Cello. Originally gigging under Rebecca’s name, you can hear from the interplay between the Cello and the vocals why they are now presenting themselves as a band. The Cello adds a certain radicalism to the music to take it into ‘left field’ and away from any folk roots that may have been showing. Intense and interesting are two words that spring to mind.

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Cress (clip)

Joe Allen is a young singer-songwriter at Oxford Brooks University who has teamed up with Angharad Jenkins on violin. He has a penchant for melancholic songs and a very fine voice. The violin adds Pathos to the songs that would just be strummed and sung otherwise. My heartstrings are tugged enough by his delivery but when you add the emotional intensity of the violin to the music, I just gasp in admiration.

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Chase (clip)

February 25, 2008


Filed under: ramblings — @ 11:02 pm Comments (0)

Avebury Records are a small record company in California who have released recordings by the stunning Studiofix and Fallopian amongst others. How did they find bands like these? Well, they went out to a lot of gigs of course.

Something they do that I just love, is blog on MySpace about they bands they go and see. Even better is that they post videos of the bands in this blog so you get a taste of the music and the atmosphere. So if you like live music and new bands subscribe to the blog on MySpace. If you are a MySpace conscientious objector then you can just get the videos by going to their YouTube channel and subscribing there.

Following their adventures is almost like having a life.

February 1, 2008

What I Did In My Holidays Part 1

Filed under: boxing,ramblings,the studiofix — @ 2:35 pm Comments (0)

Normally, as soon as I finish writing a review of a submitted CD, I cast it towards the wall of CDs next to the bed. It has to fend for itself from then on, either snuggling up to fellow unsigned items or attempting to infiltrate the alt-country that dominates my post-vinyl years. The CD’s destiny is to lie there gathering dust and being squashed below all the other CDs that follow.

Given that I suddenly had some time, I began to listen to the past five years of CDs. More recently I even bought an external drive and started to convert my music to MP3 as well as adding a very cheap MP3 player to the car. I now carry a half Gig of selected tracks around with me.

What did I learn? I learnt that the music I have been listening to and reviewing is just as good as anything else I have in my collection. I can mix Scud Mountain Boys and Drunk with The Reverse and Things In Herds and it all equally brilliant and inspiring. As a side effect of this confirmation I also realised that it is not the quality of the music that leads to a band being signed/unsigned famous/unknown. I have no idea what does make that difference but it probably includes a large slice of luck (“that was lucky” said a spectator to Gary Player as he holed a long put. “Yes, ” said Player, “and the more I practice the luckier I get”).

In all of this walking down memory lane, I returned to two albums that sound even better after a little time away from them. repeated listens (out of choice and not duty) now mean I can place them into my personal “Greatest classic albums of all time, ever” list. I think its just a coincidence that both bands are from Los Angeles.

The Studiofix Will Change Your Life (2006). The Studiofix play music that is Indie Rock/Funk/Soul and bring together musical elements from the 60s onwards. Mind you, you could make anything sound good when you are fronted with a girl who can sing like Paco.

Way Down East by Boxing (2003). Sadly split up now. Boxing produced an album of bewilderingly quirky and twisted Indie music that can years later still surprise and energise.

November 2, 2007

Things In Herds Video

Filed under: ramblings — @ 11:28 pm Comments (0)

Just in case I’m sounding like a Little Fish fansite I will remind you of the brilliance of Brighton’s Things In Herds. This is a previously unseen video of Always Disappear from the I can Walking and Dancing album that they have just put up on YouTube. It’s a hand drawn cartoon to one of their heart-wrenching songs.

There are also some mp3s available for download on

October 6, 2007

Little Fish

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I don’t want to get too attached to Little Fish because I am sure that they will shortly leave my world of unsigned bands, self-produced CDs and wondrous small labels. Anyone in Oxford or London can catch them in a small intimate venue soon – but don’t hesitate because the secret is out and even Gary Barlow (yes, that one, the musical talent from Take That) has heard and recognised he is in the presence of something special.

Little Fish

May 22, 2007

Wave Goodbye, Say Hello

Filed under: ramblings — @ 12:05 pm Comments (0)

Some of you may have noticed that my link to “Alternative Rock Review” has disappeared. This was a fine site written by Nick Collings devoted to his reviews of alt rock releases and featuring a lot of Promo reviews. Sadly, Nick has decided to close the site completely (he had stopped taking new submissions more than a year ago). The relentless nature of one man reviewing had taken its toll on him in much the same way as with me.

The good news is that Nick has allowed me to incorporate his Promo reviews into Cool Noise. I am adding a few every day and they can be found by searching for Nick Collings

March 4, 2007

A Clear Out

Filed under: nostalgia,ramblings — @ 10:16 pm Comments (3)

I have spent the past week clearing out my old house. I came across three big boxes of records covering the 70s to the 90s. Now, the problem is that I really don’t have much space where I am living now (just one room) and I already have a lot of records there (and CDs and computers). I was planning to take the records anyway but suddenly this morning I decided to have a serious clear out and to only take the records I couldn’t live without.

Firstly, I chose to keep all of the 7″ singes + most of the 12″ – they were conveniently in one box anyway. Out of the two boxes (about 150 records) I only picked these out:

Lovers Of Today – The Only Ones
Crazy About Love – Wire
IV Songs – In Camera
Tristan et Iseult – Christian Vander
Peel Sessions – The Only Ones
I Suppose – Puressence
The Stooges – The Stooges
Fun House – The Stooges

I challenge anyone to find a connection between that lot.

I drove down the Tip struggling with my conscience. There were plenty of records that are just not available on CD and probably never will be. I had serious regrets about all of my Foetus records and also (surprisingly myself) my Sidi Bou Said.

I feel awful.

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