Thursday, 27 December 2012

'The Early Nineties Were Easier' - Bands 1,2 & 3 : The Stuffies, The Poppies & The Joneses #TENWE‏

I know it's stating the bleeding obvious but every music fan has a particular era of music that they're fondest of. Even though I love the 1960s I wasn't around to live the experience. My favourite era for music therefore has to be the early 90s. I was definitely there for that one.

Why does it mean so much to me? Well, as you're asking - between 1990 and 1994 I went to my first live gig (The Macc Lads, who won't be featured in this series as I went along due to peer pressure more than anything else. I still had a good time mind, and it's not a bad first gig to go to, I just think they're a bit pants now), attended my first festival (Reading 1992 which was headlined by a band I'll be talking about in more detail in a bit) and started Uni (in Salford which meant I had easy access to the many crackin' Indie clubs in Manchester). It was a fucking great, and much easier, time (hence the title of the series).

This series will be covering bands that I, and others, loved in that era. I'll also be compiling a Spotify playlist to run alongside it featuring songs from each of the bands included.

To kick the series off, I thought I'd talk about 3 bands who I saw play live on the same bill at the Shepherd's Bush Empire only last Wednesday - The Wonder Stuff, Pop Will Itself and Jesus Jones. It was a crackin' gig which brought back some fond memories and here's why :

The Wonder Stuff

For a few years The Stuffies were my favourite band on the planet and from the recent gig I can see why. They just have so many good songs and I was surprised that I remembered the words to so many after 20 odd years. Even though they only have one original member left they still sound amazing and in Miles Hunt they still have a frontman who can work the crowd and charm the pants off them as well. In Erica Nockalls they have one amazing fiddle player as well.

I've lost count of how many times I've seen them live now, my first being Brixton Academy in 1991 followed by their headline slot at Reading a year later. I've seen Miles play solo and Erica and him also played Hertford a few years ago. They never have disappointed.

The song I'm adding to the playlist is 'Don't let me down gently' as it was the first song I heard of theirs (on the ITV Chart Show if you must know).  Here they are playing it on Top of the Pops if you want to have a butchers :

Pop Will Eat Itself

I'd never seen The Poppies live, prior to Wednesday, and even though only one original member remains they still entertained on the night and got the crowd going.

My fondest memory of P.W.E.I. in those days, however, was when some friends and I walked down our local high street when we were younger, topless in the pouring rain singing the line 'Is Everybody Happy?' from the song 'Bulletproof' out loud, over and over again. Okay, so maybe it was a bit of a twatty thing to do, and we all could've caught colds, but we were 17 (some were 18 so should've known better) and they were good times which I very much doubt will ever be repeated (I got away with it in Essex when I was younger but I think my family and the rest of Hertford would disown me if I tried it now).

The song I'm therefore adding to the playlist is that one.  If you want to watch the original line up play it live, here it is -

Jesus Jones

Last Wednesday a dream of mine came true, I saw Jesus Jones play live for the first time. I first got into them when, while watching The Wonder Stuff on the ITV Chart Show (as mentioned above) it popped up on screen that they had recently been seen 'freaking out at a Jesus Jones gig'. Endorsed by my favourite band at the time, I ended up rushing out to buy their album 'Liquidizer' on cassette at Our Price with my pocket money.

As soon as I heard the opening song 'Move Mountains' it blew me away. By that point the only band who had really nailed the Indie rock / dance crossover was The Shamen and Jesus Jones took it up a notch.

That album still sounds so fresh today and I really think if it was released now it would be huge. They were brilliant live as well and in Mike Edwards they have one of the nicest frontmen ever produced. He hasn't aged a bit either and my wife was definitely swooning while we were watching them. He is a very beautiful man.

I'll definitely be listening to 'Liquidizer' again soon and it's 'Move Mountains' that makes it onto the playlist. Here it is on You Tube if you want to have a listen :

So there you have it, if you're a fan of the above bands and you missed the tour, they'll be doing it all again next year so don't worry.  I highly recommend you go, you won't regret it.

If anyone reading this was also a fan of this era, and has a particular band they'd like to write about, then please comment below or tweet me @sessionbloggers and I'll publish your post on the blog.

As an added incentive, you even get to choose what song by that band goes on the playlist - how cool is that?! Well, it's quite cool anyway. If you want to have a listen to what's on it so far, the link is here - The Early Nineties Were Easier #TENWE

Thanks for reading and until next time, take care.

Thanks for having me.

Simon S.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

'The Yuletide 24 2012' Part 2 (Session Bloggers' Songs of the Year)

So there we have it, my songs of the year have been revealed. For those of you who have been following my daily tweets on twitter ('hi mum'), you'll already know who made the shortlist.  For those who didn't, well this is your lucky day!  Without further ado here is the final list from 24 to 1 and, as a bit of added value you even get a bit of commentary, plus a You Tube video, for numbers 5 to 1 - I spoil you sooooo much sometimes, don't I?!

Oh, and if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, I've got another little treat for you (please don't get too excited, it is a bit rubbish).

Anyway, here we go :

24. 'Hold On' by Alabama Shakes
23. 'Forget' by Lianne La Havas
22. 'Mind Control' by Friends
21. 'California Daze' by Peace
20. 'Feel to Follow' by The Maccabees
19. 'Hail Bop' by Django Django
18. 'The Daily Mail' by Radiohead
17. 'Because I know that I can' by Andy Burrows
16. 'The Road' by Simple Kid
15. 'Cough Cough' by Everything Everything
14. 'Freedom at 21' by Jack White
13. 'When your garden's overgrown' by Paul Weller
12. 'Five Seconds' by Twin Shadow
11. 'Leonard' by Sharon Van Etten
10. 'Comeback Kid' by Sleigh Bells
9. 'United' by Sean Bones
8.'Jostle' by Breton
7. 'Seek it' by Richard Hawley
6. 'Inhaler' by Foals

5. 'That's Alright' by Kindness

First of all I'd just like to say that the band Trouble Funk should also be credited for this beauty as it samples one of their songs.  I know they're reading this so I didn't want to disappoint them, or open myself up to any potential legal proceedings, by not mentioning them. To be honest it could have either been this song or 'House' by Kindness that I chose for my top 5 but, do you know what swung it?  Play the song below and listen to how it kicks in at 1 minute and 8 seconds.  It is one of the best 'kicking in bits' to a song that I've heard this year, maybe ever and for that, I salute you Mr. Kindness.

Anyway, decide for yourself and listen here -

4. 'Under the Westway' by Blur

This was a great return to form for one of my favourite ever bands.  It was a similar case with Radiohead's 'The Daily Mail' which is up there with the best bits from their last album.  Anyway, this song is just a beauty and, being about London, it always reminds me of the Olympics and what a bloody great year it's been working and living in London (well, I live 15 miles north of it to be exact but who's splitting hairs?)

I'm sure you've all heard it anyway but, if not, put on your Team GB attire and have a listen here -

3. 'Forever' by Haim

Haim were a breath of fresh air this year and this song is just brilliant.  I started the year thinking that Friends could become one of my favourite bands and then Haim came along and pulled the rug from under their feet (in a nice way though, I'm sure) - even though they are similar sounding, there's just something about Haim which I love.

Am very very excited about their album next year, if you haven't heard them yet, you have to listen to this beauty immediately -

2. 'Black White & Blue' by Ladyhawke

This song was very nearly my number one, I just love it so much and couldn't stop listening to it when it first came out.  It's definitely one of the catchiest songs of the year and I'm really surprised that this and the album didn't do better, especially in the end of year polls as they are both corkers. Okay, there's one bit that sounds a bit like 'Tragedy' by The Bee Gees (maybe even the Steps version) but why does that matter?  All the best songs sound like something else, don't they?! 

Anyway, if you haven't heard it, listen here and be prepared to fall in love with a truly amazing song -

1. 'Lightning Bolt' by Jake Bugg

I know Ladyhawke came very close, and I nearly did a joint first prize but thought that would be a cop out, but at the end of the day Jake Bugg is a worthy winner.

When I first heard this it blew me away and it proves, as I've said all along, that not all the best songs have to sound like something else. Ahem.

Anyway, before I leave you with this lovely lad's video, I'd like to thank the fabulous blogger @KateTakes5 for introducing me to Jake Bugg many months ago.  Without her Ladyhawke may have won and Jake would never have fulfilled his lifetime ambition of becoming my song of the year.  I did tweet him, asking him how it felt winning such an accolade, when it was announced the other day but he declined to comment, think he was too choked up to speak to be honest.

I'm sure you've all heard it but if you fancy listening to it again, here it is -

So, that's it.  Agree / disagree?  Shocked by the lack of Alt-J, Tame Impala and Palma Violets?  I think they're all great bands, with some great songs released this year, but they just didn't do it for me as much as the beauties above did I'm afraid.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Before you go, I've put all of the songs into a Spotify playlist for you to listen to here - The Yuletide 24 - 2012 (that's the treat I was talking about above, if you didn't realise. Like I said earlier, it is a bit of a rubbish treat, especially as 'Inhaler' by Foals isn't on Spotify yet - they have to spoil everything, don't they?!)

Until next time, take care.

Thanks for having me.

Simon S.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

5 Bands to fall in love with in 2013

I love 'ones to watch' lists as I love discovering new music.  My old band, Pre-historic Wife, were never on any 'ones to watch' lists as, to be quite honest, we were shit.

But here at Session Bloggers it's not just brand new musicians that we like to shout about, we also like to raise our glasses to those who might be one or two albums in and haven't quite had their lucky break yet.  Some of the bands below have appeared on other music blog / magazine lists as, we agree, they are fucking great.  But there are a couple of bands below whose time we believe has come and we'd like to share them with you in case you haven't heard them before.

So, without further ado, and in no particular order, here are 5 Bands for you to fall in love with in 2013 - and even if you don't fall in love with them, we'd be happy with a 'I've become quite fond of'...

1. Cashier No. 9

This was the band I fell in love with in 2012 so I'm hoping they'll make you equally as happy in 2013.  Their album 'To the Death of Fun' is an absolute corker and, even though it was released in 2011, it's my most played album this year. 

I love them so much that I once tweeted 'I love @cashierno9 and I want to have their babies'. They never replied and I don't blame them. I just hope I get to see them live before they take that restraining order out on me.

I eagerly await their new album next year but, for the time being, here is the song - 'Oh Pity' - that first got me into them. Go on, have a listen, you know you want to -

2. Haim

This band has probably appeared in every music blog and music mag's 'one to watch' lists for next year.  You probably already know everything there is to know about them so I want bang on. 

Instead, have a listen here and decide for yourself if you might fall in love with them next year. This is their brilliant new song 'Don't Save Me' -

3. Sean Bones

Sean (can I call you, Sean?) is the only solo artist to appear in my list.  He's another example of an artist who has released a couple of albums already but just needs a lucky break to push him into the big time.  His album 'Buzzards Boy' was released earlier this year and, if you like Vampire Weekend, you should check him out as I think you might like him.

The album is brilliant, very summery, and quite similar to Cashier No. 9.  The song that got me into him though is below and is called 'United'. It isn't on the album but was released in the Autumn and has something to do with a popular pair of trainers, not quite sure what though -

4. Peace

Peace are another band who have been championed by the music press recently and rightly so.  I have a feeling though that they may live in the Palma Violets' shadow for a bit in 2013.  But that's not a bad thing, is it?  Let them soak up the pressure and hype and then sneak up behind them and take their crown when they're not looking (in case they beat you up).

They've only had a couple of releases so far but this is my favourite - 'California Daze' - it's an absolute beauty. I do like what they've done to that melon as well -

5. Temples

Do you know what, this lot are already shaping up to be my favourite band of 2013?! It will probably end up being Cashier No. 9 again to be honest but, if not, this lot could be a close second.

From what I've heard already they are heavily influenced by the 60s, which I love, and they sound a bit like The Bees or Love, which is not a bad thing at all as they are both great bands.

But, we shall see, what do I know anyway?  Again, please decide for yourself - here's 'Shelter Song' for your listening pleasure -

So, they're my tips and now it's over to you - which bands do you think you and other people will fall in love with next year?  Would be great to hear your thoughts.

Until next time, take care.

Thanks for having me.

Simon S.

Friday, 30 November 2012

'The Yuletide 24 2012' Part 1 (Session Bloggers' Songs of the Year)

In my past blogging life I used to collate a list of my favourite 24 songs of the year. It was called The Yuletide 24 in homage to the late, great John Peel's Festive 50.

The reason there are only 24 songs included is because I once wrote a blog post stating that, for various reasons, 24 songs was the optimum number of songs to put on a playlist. I'm not going to bore you with that stuff now though.

Anyway, as of tomorrow, seeing as it's the 1st December, I will be counting down this year's Yuletide 24 daily on twitter until on Christmas Eve, my favourite song of the year will be announced. Please follow me on there - @sessionblogger - if you want to watch the daily drama, the shocks and the triumphs unfold and also if you want to find out whether the Marcus Collins version of 'Seven Nation Army' made the final cut.  Oh, and the hashtag will be #Yuletide24 if you miss a day, which I know you won't.

Just to tickle your tastebuds, the Top 5 in 2011 were :

5. 'Walking far from home' by Iron & Wine
4. 'Video Games' by Lana Del Rey
3. 'If you wanna' by The Vaccines
2. 'How it ended' by The Drums
1. 'Lights Out, Words Gone' by Bombay Bicycle Club

The full 2012 list will be uploaded on the blog at the end of December.  That will also be the green light for you all to start verbally abusing me for my poor choices.  In the meantime, I'd love to hear which songs have floated your boat this year - even if it's Marcus Collins, please don't be shy.

Until next time, take care.

Thanks for having me.

Simon S.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Coming soon...

The release date of the new collaborative Music Blog 'Session Bloggers' has yet to be confirmed. If you want a rough estimate of timings, please think along the lines of 'Second Coming' rather than 'In Rainbows'.

In the meantime though, here is a taster of what will be appearing on the Blog over the next 39 years :

Obscure Album Reviews

Track by track reviews of albums from Next Big Things who never really made it, One Hit Wonders & Eurovision Song Contest entrants amongst others. If you've got another obscure theme you'd like to write an album review for, we'd love to hear about it.

Muso Wrestling

Two music lovers go head to head on a certain topic - one agrees, one disagrees and there can only be one winner. We'd probably let them both win in the end though as we're nice like that.

"Why I fucking love..."

Music lovers talking about their music passions, no matter how guilty they are.

And, with your help, much, much more...

If you'd like to write a post for 'Session Bloggers' in the future then please don't hesitate to comment below or Tweet me at @sessionbloggers

We look forward to hearing from you

Loads of love

Simon S.