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Times have been tough lately.

I’m 64 years old now, and there just isn’t the same demand for wildlife paintings and woodcuts as there was when I was 25.  Income has been scarce and I’ve had some close calls with paying the bills.  Many times these past few months have I considered hanging myself in the garage, but I can’t work up the courage, so I sit and paint pathetic, morbid little pictures depicting death and suffering.  My daughter thinks I might actually be able to make more money selling those than my wildlife pictures but they are too private for anything like that.  They strike me as being a bit too modern, which goes against the principles I’ve always stood for with my paintings.  I started painting wildlife scenes because they are essentially timeless; a picture of two ducks swimming in a pond could be set in 1915 or 2013 without being explicitly modern or old.  I pledge allegiance to no period in time.  The only concession I’ve made to the modern age was hiring someone to make a website advertising my work.  My daughter posted the link all over the Internet, and there was a small spike in business for a little while, but eventually things settled back into a rut.

So imagine my surprise when a young man by the name of Chris Brown sent me an email asking me to paint the cover to his new album.  I had never heard of him before and immediately…

It has recently come to my attention that not only do some of you people have lives outside of Sputnik but that there is an entire new phenomenon in this earth known as “blogging.”

Apparently there are individuals who see fit to condense their thoughts on music into chunks of less than a thousand words (daft, I know) – perhaps with the aid of media devices such as video – and see fit to do so on this strange new “blogging” format. In the spirit of  togetherness, I have decided to recognise this trend and compile a list of staff and user blogs. We may even add a blogroll at some point.

Please feel free to link to your blog down below and I’ll do my best to add you to the list. Unless I don’t like you. In which case, futch ya.

Staff Blogs:

Tyler Munro - Tyler Munro // Twitter
Tyler Fisher - The Unpopulist // Twitter
Dave De Sylvia –  Too Famous To Get Fully Dressed // Twitter
Keelan H., Kiran S. et al. – Trust Me, I’m a Doctor
Rudy Klapper – Klap4Music // Twitter

User Blogs:

Marksellsuswallets - Turkey Leg
Qwe, chambered89 & Co. - Looser Than Loose
Rasputin: Slays For Days
Crysis - Ghosts of Saturn
Liledman – Musings of Eddie
Atavanhalen – Yes, We’ve Got a Video
Conradtao –…

It’s difficult to get a handle on Frank Turner’s solo career.

He’s released three full-length albums (and is about to release a fourth), but even right after Love, Ire & Song came out, he was a folk hero, an emotional icon with all the requisite traits:  honesty, longing, anger, and an acoustic guitar.  This was all with good reason.  Although his solo career blossomed in the wake of post-hardcore band Million Dead’s demise, he was more than your typical ideological punk singer turned folk artist right from the start.  His songs didn’t feel like acoustic versions of Million Dead songs, and even when he recorded the occasional cover of a Million Dead song, such as “Smiling At Strangers On Trains,” he was able to turn them into completely different works.  He was so good that many of the people who started listening to him after Love, Ire & Song didn’t even realize that he was the same skinny kid from Million Dead.

However, his endeavors as of late haven’t received the acclaim that his earlier works did.  Most recently, his Rock & Roll EP received criticism and even whispers that Turner was running out of ideas and becoming lazy with his songwriting.  Judging the EP critically is difficult because it’s hard to tell whether he really was trying his hardest or if the songs were written with the sole intent of serving the theme of “rock ‘n’ roll.”  The latter would seem to be the case, judging by the aesthetics…

I’ll drop some further notes on this in the morning, but for now I’ll invite you all to tune in to the live broadcast of the sixth annual Choice Music Prize (the Irish Mercury Prize/Polaris/Triple J awards) ceremony.

The show has already been in progress for a little over an hour, with Halves and Fight Like Apes having already completed their sets. James Vincent McMorrow is performing as I speak and the rest of the nominees, with the exception of Imelda May who’s otherwise engaged, will take to the stage as the night progresses.

Today FM DJ Paul McLoone will be interviewing the performers between sets and chairman Tony Clayton-Lea of the Irish Times will announce the winner at around 10.45 GMT. And Morrissey is there! You can read some of my more detailed thoughts on this year’s prize here.

A full list of nominees can be seen here:

Adebisi Shank – This is the Second Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank
The Cast of Cheers Chariot
Cathy Davey - The Nameless
Fight Like Apes – The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner
Halves – It Goes, It Goes (Forever and Ever)
Imelda May – Mayhem
James Vincent McMorrow – Early in the Morning
O Emperor – Hither Thither
Two Door Cinema Club Tourist History
Villagers Becoming a Jackal

Previous winners include Jape, the Divine Comedy, Super Extra Bonus Party and Julie Feeney. Adrian Crowley won the 2009 gong.

I’ll let this video speak for itself, however, for reference I suggest you listen to the original track before listening to the orchestrated transposition of “Jane Doe.”  The maker of the video used a program called Symphobia to create this: needless to say, it sounds incredible.

While I’m at it, an 8-bit version of “Jane Doe”

Amid all the excitement generated by Odd Future pair Tyler, the Creator and Hodgy Beats’ show-stealing appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, nobody seems to have noticed that they sold out.

Not that there’s anything expressly wrong with that – it’s just interesting to note when a group that have built their reputation on the uncontrolled, self-consciously offensive speech abandon that schema at the first offer of a plush TV spot. With little or no material in their armoury that would be deemed suitable for network television, Tyler and Hodgy took to the NBC stage with an altered version of new single ‘Sandwitches,’ minus the four f-words contained in the first line and numerous instances thereafter.

In spite of Tyler’s liberating use of the entire set during his performance and an unusual diversion involving a gnome, the duo’s performance was notable for how tame it was in comparison to the group’s deliberately provocative material. Tyler’s debut mixtape, 2009’s hugely promising Bastard, runs the gamut of hip hop clichés from misogyny, homophobia and rape fantasies right through the trite devotion to his mom. The beats are simplistic and undeniably raw, but there’s an obtuse sense of melody on tracks like ‘Odd Toddlers,’ ‘French!’ and ‘Bastard’ that hint at the potential of this 19-year-old, husky-voiced artist.

The concept of a hip hop collective is one that is alien to most rock critics who are wedded to the ideal of the nuclear four- and five-piece rock band, but the…

‘Twas not Bieber Fever that did for the young lad, but an old-fashioned torrent of bullets courtesy of CSI Nick Stokes. A real music snob that guy.

I’ve listened to a lot of mashups in my day. Normally they are party tracks that take a popular club beat and superimpose the vocals of a top 40 track of the moment ala Girl Talk or sometimes they tend to dig a little bit deeper to give us something like last year’s Kids and Explosions or the noted Jay Z/Linkin Park collaboration, but every once and a while I’ll stumble upon a mashup that truly leaves me floored. Four Tet’s mash up of Nas’ “It Ain’t Hard to Tell” with Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s “Sleep” is simply mesmerizing. The ebb and flow of Nas’ rhymes and the gentle swell of strings that build and build come together so flawlessly that it was almost as if they were made for each other.

This has been everywhere on the Internet today, but for those who, for some reason, have missed out on what will almost certainly end up as a defining moment for hip-hop in 2011, then watch the video below. Unbelievably, OF manages to scare the fuck out of old white people in middle America, make Fallon watchable (and even sorta cool), and make Mos Def go totally insane, in less than four minutes. These guys are so totally gonna blow up like crazy. Swaaaaaaag

There’s a lot of great sites out there offering interesting, artistic and often unique videos of the artists you love talking, creating and playing music. Here are some you should definitely know about:

La Blogotheque: Take Away Shows

I’ll say this straight away: The Take Away Shows series produces some of the most consistently incredible videos of any of the sites I’ll post in this blog. Started in 2006 as an expansion of La Blogotheque, director Mathieu Saura (under the pseudonym Vincent Moon) began filming one-take videos of artists playing songs in completely regular settings (someone’s apartment, taking a walk down the road, on a park lawn) and often stripped down and/or acoustic. He has since gone on to film music documentaries for The National, R.E.M. and Beirut amongst others, but it’s his Take Away project that really shines, having now produced over 120 videos.

For No One

For No One is a relatively new site that I don’t know anything about but they’ve put out six sessions so far and they’ve all been brilliant.

Titus Andronicus | FOR NO ONE from FOR NO ONE on Vimeo.


Yeah, yeah, yeah, you guys can rip on the Fork all you want but the .tv side of the site compiles some of the best music videos out there. From the Daytripping sessions with artists like Bon Iver and The Black Keys, to the Tunnelvision live series, and not least of all, the Special Presentation videos featuring…

Sometimes history is hard, you guys. I mean big history. Like, Hegelian sized history. History that spans across entire civilizations and generations. It’s hard for us because sometimes that historical meta-narrative is forever just out of each. There are moments, though, when we are thrown a little bone by the gods; we are given a fragment in time that simply defines a generation, nay, an entire civilization. Roman antiquity had Caligula naming his horse as his consul, Early Modern Europe had the Defenestration of Prague, The Victorian Period… was just depressing, and the 1990’s had Sockem Boppers with arguably the greatest commercial jingle of all time.

But what about our generation? Where’s our summarizing event? Sure, some might argue it’s Radiohead’s Kid A in long, pretentious, essayist reviews. Others might even claim this war, or that war, or the internet, or other such fads. I will not mince words: these are all horribly inaccurate. I know these suggestions are inaccurate because I myself have seen the very moment that defines our generation.

It has a little bit of everything: fat men breakdancing, rastlin’, grown men in silly costumes, historical inaccuracy, hypnosis, hillbillies, borderline mental deficiency, music that isn’t even from our generation, overzealous commentators. In so many words, this is our generation in a nutshell. A glorious, glorious nutshell.

Roland Barthes theorized that there are two types of text: the text of pleasure and the text of bliss. The text of pleasure is simply that which washes over you in an aesthetically pleasing manner; the text of bliss, however, forces you to question your very…

British film composer John Barry died of a heart attack on Sunday aged 77.

Barry was best known as the creator of the music for the James Bond film, including the famous Bond Theme, although he was the recipient of no fewer than five Academy Awards: two for Born Free (best original score and bestoriginal song) and best original score for Dancing with Wolves, Out of Africa and the Lion in Winter. Other notable scores and soundtracks included Midnight Cowboy, Goldfinger and From Russia with Love.

Barry is survived by four children and three ex-wives.

Brazil is a pretty lax place.You can get away with a lot of things most of the time: looting, mugging, rape, murder… even mullets are allowable. You can even form a four-piece rock band to play outdated mid-tempo rock at what appears to be some sort of outdoor festival for people who have no room for a proper stage.

But Lord help you if you screw up the guitar solo while the singer is backstage combing over his bald patch. You have been warned.

It is often said of Kurt Cobain, the late Nirvana singer, that he wasn’t half as good a musician in life as he became after he died. Much the same could now be said for Mark Knopfler who, while not dead, has suffered a fate far more damaging to a musician’s spirit: censorship.

Knopfler, whose popularity peaked at the dawn of MTV era as frontman of rock band Dire Straits, has seen his previously unheralded lyrical ability upgraded in some quarters to that of a master satirist in light of a Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) ruling on his band’s 1985 hit ‘Money for Nothing. The CBSC, the Canuck equivalent of the United States’ FCC, informed the nation’s radio stations that in future broadcasting the unedited recording of the track, which features repeated use of an offensive term aimed at homosexuals, would be considered a violation of the its Code of Ethics. In short: don’t play it.

The prohibition came about in response to a complaint from a member of the public – a 21-year-old gay woman from Newfoundland – who heard the full unedited version broadcast on regional classic rock station CHOZ-FM. The song contains the word “faggot” three times in quick succession, spoken from the perspective of a character voiced by Knopfler. The track was heavily criticised at the time of its release for vague implications of racism and sexism, though the CBSC’s edict relates only to the actual wording of the song.

The issue quickly gained…

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