Alternative music reviews

February 25, 2007

Rooftop Sex Plunge

Filed under: ramblings — @ 9:23 pm Comments (0)

It was the late ’80s in Manchester. I was raining. Two blokes met in a pub in Manchester through mutual friends. If the leather jackets and penchant for black t-shirts didn’t give away similar interests then as soon as music came up a connection was made. At some point both revealed that they played a bit of music. Since one played guitar and sung (although never in public – and I mean not ever in front of anyone) and the other played bass, a jam session was born.

Over the previous year the singer had written a few songs and these were gradually introduced into the proceedings. The band (a drum machine joined as the third member) even got a name: Rooftop Sex Plunge (taken from a headline in one of the snippets in the Manchester Evening News about the number of people killed in Turkey falling to their death after sex on the roof).

We did two albums worth of material. After the unreleased first album we were about ready to play live but family commitments meant that never happened.

So any band who wants to get revenge on me can review my musical efforts. There are just two songs on our MySpace page but more will follow as we get a tape transcribed to MP3s. Be gentle…

Rooftop Sex Plunge

December 24, 2006

Cool Noise Best of 2006

Filed under: ramblings — @ 11:32 am Comments (3)

For my older sister’s Christmas present this year I made up a CD of some of my favourite tracks of the year. The reason I say ‘some’ is that I have to take someone else’s taste into consideration and can’t indulge myself completely.

Here is the track list:

Phideaux-You And Me Against A World Of Pain
Scaramanga Six – Vesuvius
Modern American Science – Aim Steady Fire
Revolution74 – Send Home All The Rockstars
SUB-ROSA – I’m Right, You’re Dead
OMR – Clean And Tidy
Num – Feathers In My Bed
Lo Ego – Suffered A Loss
Revolution74 – Not That Kind
Seven Years On – Nails
The Distants – Falling Apart
The Ghosts – Hoodoo Voodoo
The Reverse – In A Cage, Under The Ground
The Studiofix – The Latter Years

There are loads of omissions e.g. Pitch Black Dream where I still can’t single out just one track from a wonderful album. I also have broken the rules because it is meant to be one track per band and yet I couldn’t resist putting two Revolution74 songs on – they have impressed me so much.

Lastly, you may see I haven’t mentioned Fell City Girl in this list. Did I really not like them that much? In fact, I included the two Fell City Girl promos (February Snow and Swim) in the parcel as part of the present.

December 1, 2006

Quiet Times

Filed under: ramblings — @ 1:39 am Comments (1)

I am being very quiet at the moment. I have some tax matters and Christmas presents and other stuff to sort out. I’m still listening and loving Mr G and Rich and Death In Public.

I did buy NME last week for the free cover CD with a view to reviewing it. Sadly, it was a great disappointment and not worth listening to. I realise again that the bands that have sent me CDs are not just good self promoters but are mostly really good bands.

November 15, 2006

Winding Down

Filed under: ramblings — @ 12:45 am Comments (0)

I did an alternative review of The Great Leap by Phideaux over on Blogcritics. It was nice to get a bit of a conversation going on the comments section with some smart people. The review was also syndicated to some other websites so I feel I have done justice to Phideaux’s wonderful music. Even nicer is that I have done it for someone I regard as a friend without compromising my demand for musical and artistic integrity.

I think that is the last of my BlogCritics reviews and if you check my Submissions page you will see that A Cool Noise is going to stop reviewing soon. I intend to finish off my current review pile (plus the Revolution 74 CD in the post!) by the end of the year. I expect I will do some soppy posts around the new year looking back over the past four years. Beyond that, I don’t know. The website will continue but the future posts are likely to be just my ramblings.

I do have a few other projects in mind but also I want to be able to listen to all of the music I have been sent over the years like a normal human being and be able to say ‘brilliant’ or ‘shite’ rather than analyse it further.

October 27, 2006

A Night Off

Filed under: ramblings — @ 11:09 pm Comments (1)

No reviewing tonight. Much too much going on in my life to think about music. I need to think about other things and try and reduce tension enough so that I can sleep ready for a busy day. Been pretty much the same for the last few nights. Just thought I’d note what I turn to, to relax me.

It’s at times like these I turn to music that comforts me. Strangely enough I have been listening over the past nights to a recent submission Let’s Start A Fight by Death In Public. You can probably imagine from the title that this isn’t really a ‘relaxing’ record but I am finding it pretty special and it feels a bit like an old friend already. I did some listening to The Resonance Association last night but I’m sure Daniel will be quite pleased if I say that I found it a bit too dark for my current mood.

I first heard Carina Round a few years ago when a promo company sent me her album The Disconnection. It’s an album with some brilliant tracks. Think Patti Smith/PJ Harvey. The track Lacuna is one of my favourite songs ever. I don’t relate to the story of the lyrics with lines like “There is a lot to be said for this morbid self attention, the problem lies in this external obsession” since I have barely any awareness of the external. Spot the man who did Psychology A Level and had the most extreme Introversion score on the Eysenck Personality Test. But I just love the coolness of the song and the lyrical conceits used. Of course, there are bound to be lines I can relate to (with a chuckle) like “You’re just looking for an excuse to call yourself a Fuck Up”.

I often turn to Josh Ritter and the song Wings. It is just the most romantic Americana taking the context of the days of building railroads. If you love The Partisan then you love this song as well. But in this story telling of the blasting of rocks he elevates everything by ‘underneath their jackets she saw wings’. Such flights of romantic fantasy delivered in the seriousness of an historical tale. A little bit of magic. I have also picked out a few Richard Buckner albums but finding songs that draw me in is more difficult than I imagined. I’m after a quick fix so I turn to Jim White and 10 Miles To Go On A 9 Mile Road – a man who writes and plays some great songs. I just wish I could find his Christmas song (mentioned in Drowning In A Well Of Sadness) but I’m sure that would finish me off.

What have I found out today? I’ve found that I return to Alt-Country when I need to. it’s not my first love but it has become very important in my personal psyche. But in the end (or should I say “In The End”), I finish off the night with Peter Hammill. I would never play this to anyone, never try to explain why it has value. You have either been there or you haven’t. I was surprised to meet some young Prog fans at the Van Der Graaf concert in Manchester last year. It seems the Secret Cabal is not so secret after all.

October 25, 2006

Why MySpace works for bands

Filed under: myspace,ramblings — @ 11:31 pm Comments (2)

When I recommend a band, I just want my readers to get to hear their music. It’s difficult to try to describe music in words so I always regard my writing as just a springboard to try and get some interest. That interest, hopefully, is expressed by someone clicking on the band website link I put at the bottom of the article. In the past that link would be the band’s official website but nowadays it will always be to the MySpace site. The reason is simple, MySpace has a single page for each band with the music set to stream immediately. It is easy to select any of the four tracks normally available and the band’s own blurb is in the same place.

Most bands seem to end up with a fancy Flash-based site for their ‘official website’ – it looks pretty and allows them to express their individuality. But it seems every band wants a new navigation scheme. When I know and like a band then I might be prepared to click on the spinning cat to get to their music (the wonderful Don’s Mobile Barbers in that example). But most of the time it is a band I have just recently heard and I really don’t have the time or the patience to figure out how I can actually hear what they sound like.

MySpace has become the best music site on the web, bar none. Just about every band I hear has a MySpace page – tonight I heard Frank Rapture on the Friday Session and I could check them out further by searching MySpace. A recent flyer for a gig at the Herdsman in Hereford listed four bands and below each band was their MySpace address. Increasingly I am seeing lesser known bands’ official sites just redirecting to their MySpace page. I was behind a van on the M6 the other day coming back from Manchester and a finger had etched ‘www.myspace.com/eventhieves‘ in the dirt on the rear door so I visited the page when I got back home.

It is far from perfect. The MySpace player does seem to have problems playing songs quite often. Also, I have recently gone to add King Furnace and MyOwnFlag as MySpace friends but found they were already friends – I obviously hadn’t picked up how good they were from my first listen when they added me. Another example is The October Game, whose album so impressed me but I didn’t feel that the four tracks on MySpace did them justice. There is no substitute for listening to an set of tracks ordered by the artist to lead you on a journey. But as a simple way of both promoting and discovering new music, it is a phenomenal tool.

October 22, 2006

Violins

Filed under: ramblings — @ 9:34 pm Comments (0)

I have always had a thing about violins (and can I include violas in that as well, please). The violin was the first instrument I wanted to learn how to play even though circumstances led me to the guitar years later. In the early 70s ‘Strings’ were associated with old-fashioned 60s pop. But the example of Darryl Way of Curved Air showed how solo violin could integrate with a Rock band and add a romaticism that took a song to new heights. And at the same time my head became hard-wired to the sonic possibilities of Rock music by listening to John Cale on Viola. Black Angel’s Death Song and Venus In Furs from The Velvet Underground’s first album remain as seminal pieces of music that I hear echoes in so many bands I have loved such as Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine.

So I have been captured by String Driven Thing, King Of The Slums, Van Der Graaf’s second incarnation, King Crimson’s Lark Tongues In Aspic, and Berio’s Sequenza VI for Viola. Those references are pretty much in the past, but I always keep an ear out for anything violin/viola related. Now I find myself with a three CDs from bands that feature a violin and I am in my element. Reviews will follow in the next few days.

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