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Below, comedians Mario Cantone, Sherri Shepherd and Jackie Hoffman read excerpts from Destiny’s Child 2002 autobiography, Soul Survivors.

No further explanation needed, really.

I post this slightly poor-quality recording of ‘Suspect Device’ from an Ulster Television broadcast in 1978 not because it’s a particularly good representation of the song – in fact, it does very little justice to one of the best punk songs ever written – but purely because it challenges the myth of what “punk,” in its earliest form, stood for.

Here we see a decent-sized crowd of disaffected Northern Irish youths kitted out in the usual punk clobber – ripped shirts, shredded jeans, leather jackets and even the odd dog collar – and seemingly united in their desire not to be seen showing any form of emotion. You’ll notice a trio of lads jumping around in euphoria towards the middle of the video – rest assured they were not representative of the crowd and were soon removed from the venue.

It’s worth considering the context in which bands like Stiff Like Fingers and the Undertones entered the music scene: groups like the Sex Pistols and the Clash may have been infuriated by the extent to which their mummies didn’t pay enough attention to them, but these groups of Catholic Irish teenagers experienced real hardship and oppression on a daily basis, and they made a conscious choice to break the mould by fighting back with their music rather than guns and improvised explosives.

The lasting legacy of these groups’ music was to unite thousands of middle class teens from across the religious divide would unite against a bitterly unfair regime –…

A recent New York Times profile of Brooklyn resident David, creator of the Pitchfork Reviews Reviews blog, gives an interesting insight into the online sub-culture that has sprung up in opposition to the influence of the internet’s most far-reaching music reviews site.

Early each weekday morning, the indie music Web site Pitchfork posts five new album reviews. Hours later a 22-year-old reader named David downloads them onto his BlackBerry, reads them on his way to work and muscles out a rambling but surprisingly fluid response using his phone’s MemoPad function: no links, no capital letters at the start of sentences, just adrenalized response.

In essence, what David does is turn the tables on Pitchfork: each weekday, he reads every new review on the site, comments upon it and assigns it a score on a scale of 0.0 to 10.0. Instead of “Best New Music,” he gives an award for “Worst New Review.” As far as satire goes, it’s only marginally more subtle than the Scary Movie series, but it is effective nonetheless. Furthermore, it’s the ideal subject matter for a shockingly impersonal medium like tumblr, where small communities choose to blog about each other’s posts rather than having actual upfront discussions.

It’s not so much ironic as it was inevitable that Pitchfork would reach this position. It was originally created as a counterweight to the hegemonic power of traditional media (your Rolling Stones and, yes, your New York Timeses), and any fule…

Earlier this week, we offered Sputnik users the chance to win a copy of the new Converge single, ‘On My Shield,’ which is currently only available at the merch table on the band’s European tour.

The way the original post was worded, it appeared that the contest was in some way endorsed by the band. This was a failure on our part and we apologise for any confusion caused. I personally attended a date on the band’s tour earlier this week and bought the record myself to give away as a “thank you” to the community for all that you contribute to this place.

On Thursday, we were contacted by the band’s label, Deathwish Inc., and asked to take the contest down. We opened a dialogue with Converge singer Jacob Bannon in an attempt to reach a compromise but were told in no uncertain terms that Converge/Deathwish are to retain full control of all contests. In hindsight, we should have asked the band for their approval in advance, but we have been left in no doubt that no permission would have been granted had we done so.

I am prepared to take full responsibility for this as it was my haste that caused the situation, and Deathwish/Jacob Bannon were fully within their right to tell me to go fuck myself. Which they did.

Once again, sorry guys.

We would hate to leave you guys shorthanded, though, so the competition will go ahead as scheduled with one minor alteration –…

Ladies and gentlemen.

It is with a great deal of sadness that Sputnikmusic.com will cease to exist as of this month. Online media is well and truly dead, folks, and Sputnikmusic has to move with the times. However, we are excited to announce a brand new venture in the exciting world of print journalism: from July 31, Sputnikmusic will be available exclusively as a supplement with the Saturday edition of the Daily Mirror.

Well, not really.

But were confirmation ever needed that silly season had well and truly begun, it crashed through the ceiling on Monday with vuvuzelas blazing when Prince declared the internet (yes, the whole thing) to be “over” in an interview with the aforementioned British redtop. He said: “The internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it.”

He went on: “They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.” From the man who brought us such classics as ‘1999,’ ‘I Would Die 4 U,’ 3121 and ‘Nothing Compares 2 U,’ this is indeed a withering assessment of numbers. Perhaps more crucially, it represents the end of an era, not for online music, but for Prince’s association with a platform that he very much helped to mold in its infant state. Back in 1998, Prince became the first high-profile artist to sell an album…

For all the criticism Blink-182 copped in the 90s for their supposed lack of punk credentials, they walked the walk when it truly mattered. Tom Delonge went mad in his castle, flew off on a coke-binge and produced three of the worst albums in major label history, Travis Barker died in a plane crash before coming back to life and Mark Hoppus hung around at the skate park. They were, essentially, Motley Crue for 9-year-olds.

What, then, of Jedward? Twins John and Edward Grimes, too, embody the true spirit of punk. Look at the evidence: 1) impossibly shit, spiky hair; 2) ugly co-ordinated outfits; 3) complete lack of musical ability; 4) impossibly shit, spiky hair. They have, quite simply, invented a whole new genre of karaoke – fans have all the fun of listening to tone deaf amateurs without the hassle of being drunk or being around moderately interesting people.

Here’s Jedward putting their uniquely punk slant on blink-182’s ‘All The Small Things’:

As part of our blanket coverage of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa (see Nick Butler’s excellent World Cup Sounds series exploring the native musics of the competing countries), we will be rolling out a new vuvuzela-themed design later this week.

We’re still ironing out the various kinks in the new design, but feel free to browse the Beta version in the meantime and let us know your thoughts.

Most people think of English as a grim shower of dullards who wouldn’t know fun if it invaded their country and brutalised its beleagured people for 800 years. And they’d be right.

Ocasionally, the English do come up with something completely amazing and it’s all we can do not to stand up and applaud.

One was hospitalised and three more have been taken in for questioning following a water fight in London’s Hyde Park that involved over 1,500 people and lasted for eight hours. The water fight was organised via Facebook and comes in the midst of a seasonal heatwave that has given rise to a unprecedented phenomenon among British youth known as a “natural tan.”

Police were so concerned by the gathering that a riot squad was summoned, while busy neighbouring thoroughfare Oxford Street was shut down completely. The assembled warriors responded in characteristic fashion by spraying police with water guns, raining them with water bombs and drunkenly trying to punch them. Thankfully, some Irish patsy caught the entire clash on video – enjoy.

In a tenuous attempt to link this awesome event to music, here’s a video of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band performing London Calling in Hyde Park last summer:

Sputnik regulars may be aware that, for the past few months, producers of hit Fox musical drama Glee have been holding open auditions for the planned second and third series of the show, which will go into production later this year.

Much like American Idol, which in later series saw more and more professional singers audition alongside the plebs, the public audition format has done little to deter established actors from throwing their hat in the ring.

Mitch Hewer is a reasonably well-known actor in the UK, having starred in two series of the cult show Skins and the one-and-only season of nauseating High School Musical knock-off Britannia High. Here’s Mitch’s audition tape, in which he performs Bill Withers’ ‘Lean On Me.’

Aside from the general awkwardness of performing a great song to a mediocre click track ina warehouse, Mitch is obviously, to paraphrase Randy Jackson, a bit pitchy, dawg. In a more general sense, he’s just an unremarkable singer who compensates for his obvious flaws with boyish good looks and bulging biceps. Which means he’ll probably wind up replacing Finn.

Before watching the following clip of Rick K. and the Allnighters performing ZZ Top’s ‘Sharp Dressed Man,’ it’s important to bear in mind two things:

1. The singer (Rick K., I presume) is inarguably the least endearing and least charismatic frontman in wedding band history. If this group secured a gig on-board a cruise ship – and, make no mistake, that is their tragic fantasy – he would be thrown overboard within first sight of shark-infested waters.

2. While sparkly jackets and headsets might suggest both a sense of humour and an intention to move around, nothing could be further from the truth. Rick and the Allnighters transform one of the all-time classic boogie rock songs into a dirge so dull even the Melvins wouldn’t touch it. Even when they try to be fun, they’re not. In other words, if these guys are all-nighters, then you might want to consider going to bed before 11.

So why watch it then?

Struggle through the introduction and the first few bars of music, and you’ll see why. This may just be the smoking gun argument for gay marriage that nobody can ever deny. Gay marriage = more marriage, and more marriage = more of this guy.

Christy Moore once sang: “For all of our languages, we can’t communicate.” A cultured man is Christy, but he never quite reckoned for Eurovision.

To those with the misfortune to have grown up outside Europe, the Eurovision Song Contest must appear like some curious oddity, a routine quirk of a continent in which nude beaches are tolerated, excessive body hair is celebrated and the frustrated majority has reluctantly given up on the task of destroying the French, though not through lack of trying. For Europeans, however, Eurovision is one of those rare cultural events that transcends not just language and territorial boundaries, but generations too. Some countries resolve conflicts with war, diplomacy, or both; Europeans long ago resolved to settle their differences with an annual sing and dance-off. It’s just one of those things.

Musically, too, Eurovision has remained remarkably constant through the years. The break-up of the Eastern Bloc in the early 90s increased two-fold the number of countries entering the contest (as a rule of thumb, a country doesn’t officially exist until its football team has been formally ratified by UEFA; entry to Eurovision is the logical next step, and only then it can think about drawing up a constitution). Far from bringing a diverse range of new styles to the competition, the addition of all these new states has had the effect of freezing Eurovision in time, and the synth-heavy pop-rock that dominated Europe in the mid-nineties remains the contest’s dominant currency. Before, almost…

When Ronnie Drew died in the summer of 2008, having lost a two-year battle with throat cancer, his death was greeted with the kind of pomp and reverence usually reserved for a military hero – the Irish President and Prime Minister issued statements of condolence within hours, and streets were lined as his funeral procession came to a halt in Greystones, Co. Wicklow. At his funeral, it was telling that, of all the songs and poems that were cited, none was as poignant as the excerpt from a lament to Brendan Behan: Words have no meaning now, silence is master, laughter and songs bow.”

Behan was a child of old Dublin, born shortly after independence to a  family of revolutionaries. His father fought in the War of Independence and his maternal uncle wrote the national anthem, which persists to this day and graphically recounts an ambush attack on a troop of British soldiers in Ireland. Infused by that same spirit, at the age of 16 Behan joined the IRA (Irish Republican Army) and went on a rogue mission to England to blow up the Liverpool docks. He was caught and placed in a youth prison for three years, whereupon he wrote his memoir, The Borstal Boy; years later, he would write his defining work, the play The Quare Fellow, and had his brother Dominic, himself an ex-convict, write a haunting ballad to open the work.

The track is usually performed a capella with a single lead vocalist, in this…

Belfast’s finest vocal-averse rock troupe And So I Watch You From Afar stepped into the Music Maker in Dublin city centre a couple of weeks back to record the first “Intervention” in association with our friends at State magazine.

The concept of State Intervention is simple: impromptu gigs are arranged in diffuse spots around the city, from music shops and bars to parks and street corners. The featured act is announced on the morning of the gig via Facebook and Twitter, and the whole gig is professionally shot and plastered up all over the internet for the whole world to squeeze and poke and do all sorts of deranged shit to.

And So I Watch You From Afar – ‘S Is For Salamander / Set Guitars To Kill’

It seems I’m making something of a habit of posting whimsical, folksy music from the north of Ireland.

A couple of weeks back, I blogged ‘You’ve Been Released,’ the new single from London-based Sligo musicians Yngve & the Innocent. This week, I’m focusing on Belfast four-piece John, Shelly and the Creatures – who, by happy coincidence, will support Yngve & Co. at their record launch in Dublin on April 23. Don’t you just love it when a good plan comes together?

Today’s Track of the Day, ‘Long May You Reign,’ was the group’s debut single, and was buoyed by a prominent appearance in the Discover Northern Ireland tourism advertisements across the UK and Ireland these past months. ‘Long May You Reign’ is the driving force behind the band’s one and only album, Dinosaur, which was released back in March of this year, and  is the perfect showcase for the group’s ethereal brand of folk, blues and rock n’ roll. Frontman Walter’s layered, hushed vocals are reminiscent of Elliott Smith, while the song’s earthy acoustic guitar, prickly piano and crazed slide licks recall ’70s singer-songwriters of the Harry Nilsson and Jackson Browne ilk.

John, Shelly and the Creatures – ‘Long May You Reign’

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Regular Ellen viewers can skip to the next paragraph – you’ll already know all about the latest sensation to break from the burgeoning Irish showband scene. Everybody else, allow me to introduce you to Crystal Swing, East Cork’s answer to the Carter Family and, as of  a few hours ago, the most successful singing group in Irish music history.

The mother-daughter-son group (Dad is the sound engineer) consists of mother Mary Murray-Burke, daughter Dervla and son Derek. The trio have been on a rapid incline since the release of their album The Best Years of Our Lives in 2009. A performance video of ‘He Drinks Tequila,’ an old American country tune from the ’70s, from a local TV broadcast was picked up by Irish drag queen Panti, and from there the local music media. Their story soon became the thing of internet legend, earning the group an appearance on Ireland’s equivalent of the Late Show, the, err, Late Late Show, as well as a number of other national talk shows. From there, they were discovered by the white people’s answer to Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, and featured on her St. Paddy’s Day special.

Smitten, Ellen vowed to have the band appear live on the show, and on April 12 her wish became a reality. And aside from perhaps the most lengthy and shameless plug for a hard liquor company in US network TV history, Crystal Schwing’s appearance on Ellen was an unqualified…

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