Friday, 26 November 2010

Saturday, 30 October 2010


This is the Westerns section at the Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch visitor centre.
What strook me was the selection of DVDs on sale; two categories - DVDs and Western DVDs.
And no, I'm not taking the piss with the name. Google it.

A Year in the Life.

I've been inspired to take on a project. A pretty simple project, though still a challenge to complete without error. I'm going to capture and post a different image every day for a year. 365 days, 365 photographs. Starting now.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

10. Liam Frost - We Ain't Got No Money, Honey, But We Got Rain

I was introduced to Liam Frost this year by a close friend of mine. She may seem a little overly-fond of him, but with valid reason, I've discovered! I first encountered his debut album, Show Me How The Spectres Dance (2006), which he recorded and released with his band The Slowdown Family. Now though, he's gone solo, and his maturity as a song writer is clearly evident in We Ain't Got No Money. Lyrically, Frost is outstanding. Musically, his sense of key and cadence stand out from most singer-songwriters also currently breaking into the mainstream.
The album opens with the single 'Held Tightly In Your Fist', immediately showing off his talent for words. Like a few tracks on the album, lyrical content often doesn't match the music. A seemingly joyous affair may be hiding a gloomy, morbid story in its midst. This is a feature that's kept with Frost since his debut, though things sound to have cheered up somewhat.
My favourite track off the album is Skylark Avenue, recorded using only vocals and distorted electric guitar, giving some sense of raw purity to the song and the depths of it's meaning. Frost also performs a duet with singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright on Your Hand in Mine, a collaboration with Ed Harcourt.
Seeing him perform a solo gig at the Leaf Tearooms in Liverpool this April, I was literally given a front row seat to an outstanding performance by man and guitar. The dapper musician gives his all in each and every beat played, pouring his heart and soul into every note. The over-shot set timings was more than worth the run for the last train home, but we didn't leave before nabbing our dear Liam's setlist...
I was personally told at Summer Sundae 2010 by Frost himself that he is currently working with a new band that he's formed. He has one final solo show in Manchester in September, after which he will be turning all his attention to the as-of-yet un-named band. Looking forward to whatever next comes our way from this handsome Mancunian.

Monday, 23 August 2010

11. Alexisonfire - Old Crows, Young Cardinals

I'd been waiting what seemed a long, LONG time for this. Alexisonfire are close to my favourite band, pipped to the post only by Brand New. Their 2006 work Crisis is by far one of my favourite albums, so there was a lot to live up to with this release.
Old Crows, Young Cardinals
has been described by the band as a musical history of Alexisonfire. It tells the story of the early days through to the present in a high-tempo, aggressive post-hardcore chronology. First track 'Old Crows' boasts the chorus "We are not the kids we used to be, stop wishing for yesterday", the band telling how they've matured both in body and in their music. 'Sons of Privilege' is a straight up hate-America song, the couldn't-care-less line "It's time to justify your pride" ringing clearly through the end of the song. By far my favourite track from the album is 'Born and Raised', a fast-paced four-minute scream-along relating to the breakthrough of the band from St. Catherine's, Canada. The song really allows all the members to show off their individual talents, what with Dallas Green's lead riffs and vocals, George taking a new approach to his screaming, and the intricate drum lines from Ratbeard. The rhythm and bass guitars also let rip, setting the pace for the rest of the album.
Easily one of my favourite new releases from 2009, and probably my favourite Alexisonfire recording.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

12. PJ Harvey - Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea

To me, PJ Harvey has always been one of those names you hear so much about, but never actually give any attention to. This is the first (and so far, only) PJ record I've listened to. My first encounter was in the cafe where I work. One of the chefs, Joe, has a collection of literally thousands of CDs, and would usually bring in one of his huge CD wallets on shift. We both share a fairly similar taste in music, and on discussion he discovered I'd never heard anything by PJ. Immediately, he leafed through his wallet and pulled out Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, whacked it on and cranked up the volume.
Not really knowing what to expect, the initial punchy guitar/synth riff impacted hard, setting the line for the rest of the album. At Beautiful Feeling I thought my ears were playing tricks with me, thinking I could hear Thom Yorke with backing vocals.. The suspicion was proven on This Mess We're In, where the pair duet throughout. This added an edge of brilliance to the album for me. I've always been a huge fan of Radiohead and Thom Yorke, and have great admiration of his vocal abilities. Together they make quite a pair!
Written during her emigration from Dorset to New York, the album tells the story of her move between two completely different cultures of life. Her new experiences of city living and their contrasts to the Dorset countryside become clear through the record, capturing the excitement of starting a new life and the heartache of leaving one behind. An enticing grunge work from start to finish, definitely one of my top new discoveries from the past!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

13. Manchester Orchestra - Mean Everything to Nothing

Long awaited, this album was one of those I was really looking forward last year. After the Atlanta, Georgia band's debut album I'm Like A Virgin Losing A Child in 2006, I had seen them perform twice each in Manchester and at Leeds Festival. These live shows gave a lot of promise for this album, with much more pronounced guitars, heavier, more complex drums and nice beefy bass lines.
I received my pre-ordered copy in the post a day before release, and not a single lecture was attended. There is certainly a lot of maturity being shown from the first album. Lyrically, Andy Hull is growing ever more potent. There are far fewer (if any) sombre, morose entries than I'm Like A Virgin Losing A Child, replaced with clearly defined, punchy riffs and catchy phrases and melodies. A fantastic album, and I feel this may still be early days for this fine band!
Highlights: Shake it Out, Tony the Tiger, In My Teeth, Pride and I Can Feel a Hot One.

Friday, 20 August 2010

14. The King Blues - Save the World, Get the Girl

Again, this album wasn't exactly new to me last year, but it was certainly a regular player on the iPod. This is the first record I encountered from the acoustic ska-punk outfit, and it took hold of me from the off. I remember racking up over 500 plays within the first week of having it.
One thing I couldn't, and still really can't get over, is how small a following The King Blues seem to have. When I was first getting into this album, there was only one other person I knew who'd even heard of them, never mind liked them. I had trouble for a while trying to find someone to come with me to see them live at Wrexham's Central Station, a small venue with a couple hundred capacity or so. I'm SO glad I managed to find a gig buddy though, it was a gig I'm very glad I didn't miss, what with another LP to add to the collection and a signed set-list!
This outing was more than enough encouragement to book in another trip to see them in Manchester's Academy 2 in April (yesterday, as I'm writing this). I must say, I'm looking forward to this year's release of Punk and Poetry after some of the previews from these two gigs.
The lyrical powers that Jonny 'Itch' Fox brings forward through The King Blues are often highly politically and resistance related, and at other times take form as deep, meaningful love songs. This political side is shown without question in 'What If Punk Never Happened', the final track on this album, and 'Underneath this Lamppost Light' and 'Out of Luck' proving his love song writing skills. Overall one hell of a listen whether it be the first or thousandth time through.

"If music be the food of Love...

Then I'm a fat romantic slob." What more can I say...

My top 15 albums of 2009.

A bit late, I know, but last year was a fantastic year for new music - or music that was new to me. This list doesn't necessarily include just albums that were released in 2009, but albums I discovered. Some I'd been waiting for with bated breath for a long time, some I was introduced to through acquaintances, and some I'd forgotten about and were brought back into my life. I've also loosely used the term '2009'. I've been working on-and-off on this since April, so I'll say it's more based around the last 12 months or so from when I started.

I noticed when reading through how big a post I had in the making... To make it easier, I'll release one album at a time :)

Right, here goes:

No particular order (except maybe 5-1)

15. glassJAw - Worship and Tribute

Released in 2002, their second and final full-length (for now), it was a few years later when I first encountered glassJAw. I was only just discovering the hardcore genres, Brand New's Deja Entendu being some of the heavier stuff I was listening to at the time. This was the period where I was starting to find my own way in music taste, largely thanks to and the introduction of internet which let me download a song in under an hour.
It was through listening to Head Automatica and looking into Daryl Palumbo's history that I stumbled on glassJAw. I couldn't get into them at all to begin with; there was no sense to be seen through the dropped-D distortion and screaming, a high speed pile-up of guitars, drums and sore throats - utter chaos compared to what I had ever listened to before. Luckily though, my well-trained musical ear was able to sieve out the different parts to the composition; to hear the melodies behind the driving drums and bass riffs - and it was awesome.
Seeing them perform in January of this year was a phenomenal experience. This is the main reason Worship and Tribute is on this list. Had I not gone to see them it would probably have been another of those albums that were just part of a phase I'd gone through once upon a time, but their energetic live set, and such cult following even years after their several-year hiatus, gave me so much more admiration for them as a band than I had ever given them before.
Also listen to: "You Think You're John Fucking Lennon"

Monday, 9 August 2010

A New Chapter

I think I'm going to write a short story. I think it'll be a first-person narative. I think I have a plot and a main character. I think it's going to be set across the bredth of North Wales. I think it's going to involve a sheep farmer at some point. I think there will be a distanced maiden, a drug circulation, and ever-watchfull wildlife. I think I have the patience to see it through. I think I may struggle for motivation though. I think I'm gonna just give up now. I think...