Archive for November, 2009

The Baddest Blues Band (ever!) ?

Posted in Music Reviews on 2009/11/27 by sturgeonmusic

Driving In The Rain is the latest CD from rock fuelled blues six-piece The Baddest Blues Band (ever!), and they certainly present this image well. The album, which features 15 tracks, for me brings back some routes of blues music that I have not heard recently. The classic sound of a rotary organ underneath a harmonica solo section can go a long way, not to mention the bands solid rhythm section.

Songs such as “Driving In The Rain” and “Buck” are strong evidence of the bands ability to write classic bluesy tones and grooves, whilst “You’re Not Alone” is slower and more ballad like. This kind of diversity in song writing adds more character to an album, especially one so routed in the classic blues sound.

This is a very well rounded album, which is able to combine rock and blues elements with great guitar ability. You can really tell this band understand each other, and perfectly complement the vocal talent of lead singer Zoë Schwarz who, in the midst of their strong sound puts the perfect cherry on top.

(Check this review out in this months Blues In Britain Magazine!)

3D The Future?

Posted in Features on 2009/11/24 by sturgeonmusic

You may have noticed Channel 4’s latest effort to reign in the viewers, 3D week. Its an interesting idea but one that I approached cautiously, thinking is certainly nothing like the 3D experiences you get in cinemas, or in the IMAX.

This was correct, though I was pleasantly surprised – picking up a pair of free 3D glasses from Tesco myself and friends sat down to give it a test run, and see what everyone was raving about. Darren Brown’s Trick Of The Mind was the show we managed to catch, and to our amazement – it worked!

For those of you that didn’t see it, you were told when 3D was available via a pair of glasses popping up in the bottom left hand corner. Obviously 3D was not available for the entire show, as older clips were not produced with the 3D technology required. Though for a home TV experience, its certainly up there in terms of entertainment. It got me thinking, is this the next step in viewing broadcasts at home?

The cinema experience is still something special, once your passed the ‘freaky’ stage of 3D’s unfamiliarity. Though I feel like it could be the next big thing for home entertainment, these 3D weeks could become more frequent, and I have to say if you missed it – give it a go the next time its broadcast. Its an eye-opener for sure, but no doubt in a few years time we may have caught up with some of those 3D ideas in Back To The Future, hopefully not the shark though…

Epic Theatre

Posted in Features on 2009/11/21 by sturgeonmusic

I experienced something amazing today, something so fresh, so entertaining and so innovative that I hardly have words to describe it (though ill try for the sake of blogging!). It was held at the Lyceum Theatre in London, and was probably the most stunning visual experience I have ever seen on stage.

The Lion King Musical has now been running for 10 years, and its taken me this long to get some tickets (thanks to my girlfriend)! Without a doubt, this is one not to be missed – everything about the show is just perfect, the music, the sets, the cast and especially the puppets. Puppets you say? Yes – lots of them. Creator Julie Taymor has done a fantastic job at re-creating the films iconic characters and transforming them into a west-end best seller. Each cast member represents a different animal, whether its full on body suits, birds on sticks or lioness heads as hats. Check out the attached pictures below for your viewing pleasure (if you haven’t yet seen it).

The music itself is also amazing, African themes mixed with all the classic songs from the original Disney film add to the stunning effort gone into this production, and there are also a couple of new tracks to boot. Its a huge task, turning such a legendary film into a theatrical production, but it’s definitely worked out great. Every cast member delivers a memorable performance and portrays each character with the appropriate flare and passion.

I’ll just point out that I am no Theatre buff, however I do know when something is uniquely special. The Lion King certainly is, and if you haven’t yet experienced its emotional, picturesque and heart-warming adaptation then you are certainly missing out – I certainly was all this time!

Go check out the sneak preview – http://www2.disney.co.uk/MusicalTheatre/TheLionKing/home/index.jsp

‘High Times’

Posted in Music Reviews on 2009/11/20 by sturgeonmusic

High times??  It surely was, if only I wasn’t a metal head in my younger years I may have discovered this music a lot earlier than I did, and recently I’ve got firmly into this bands music. Funk routes, Jazz progressions, electro keys, disco drums, vocal harmonies – this band had it all (the stuff that doesn’t appear in the charts much these days).

Its Jamiroquai, and putting all opinions people may have of the bands front man J.K. aside, this band was pure gold. Their collection ‘High Times: Singles 1992 – 2006’ marks the bands most successful years and also contains some of the best songs they ever wrote. Some people might find this genre out-dated, but its far from it. The blend of all the elements mentioned earlier was something rather special, and created a relaxing yet funky sound that would fill the dancefloors.

Songs such as ‘Emergency On Planet Earth’ and ‘Deeper Underground’ show off the bands funk routes, and features bass lines that are remarkably difficult – yet at the same time are deep in the groove of the song itself. For you Jazz fans out there, ‘Space Cowboy’ is a great option – featuring odd chord progressions and relaxing synth.

You can pick up a brand-new copy of the CD on Play.com for around £5, though some go for under £2 on the new and used option – either way its a great bargain. Christmas wish list? Maybe – but only if your willing to try something new, though there’s a lot this band can offer.

Careers In Danger?

Posted in Features on 2009/11/11 by sturgeonmusic

billboard

There’s an interesting phenomenon around these days, something which may very well endanger the future of any media journalist (yes including us music writers)! They are known as ‘Citizen Journalists’ – everyday people that can report the news from anywhere, anyhow.

This is all down to technology, we have been looking at this topic in one of my lectures and I feel it to be one of the biggest debates going. Will it damage our careers as journalists? Or will it boost our news gathering techniques? Its a tough one to call – if anyone has a camera phone and happens to be in the moment of an event, then there is nothing stopping them reporting the incident, sending the picture off to a news corporation and hitting the big bucks.

Its certainly an attractive concept, and if you think about it – anyone can write blogs as well, essentially their own magazine articles and features. Which links back to my point of technology, gone are the days where the reporters did all the work – everyday people can now have just as much control. Did you know there’s even a department in the BBC dedicated to surfing the web for stories? – Yes that does include Twitter!

In my opinion, its a good and a bad thing. Good because I believe anyone should be able to report the news, and its also a great way to share information in this digital age. Bad because it not only de-values our jobs as a journalist, but also means that some of our traditional reporting practices may go out of the window.

Its surely a matter of opinion, but I doubt anyone’s complaining if they manage to sell a small jpeg from their phone for £200!

DJ Hero is here!

Posted in Features on 2009/11/10 by sturgeonmusic

DJ-Hero

Wow. That’s pretty much how you can sum up the latest effort from FreeStyleGames, which brings together all the elements we love from Guitar Hero and incorporates them into a fresh perspective. I finally got my chance to play DJ Hero on Sunday (forgetting any worries of early morning lectures) and I have to say that I was completely blown away. In the era of the modern DJ, its not at all far from the real thing either.

Let’s start with an overview – with just over 100 tracks to choose from there is certainly more variety to this ‘Hero’, and the game is still based around its red, green and blue buttons. The turn-table style controller connects via wireless to your console, and is essentially set out the same as any real set of decks. Buttons for timing are located on the fully movable deck itself, and on the left features a fader, effects modulator, star power button and the regular controls.

There’s no doubt you wont be able to put this game down once you start your first set in campaign mode, there are a wide range of DJ’s to choose from and each come with their own unlockable decks, clothes and headphones. The game can also be set to play all of the unlocked songs without being controlled, and with many of the mixes being 5 star quality – its great for a house party.

Before you ask, yes it does really make you feel like a DJ, and in some ways takes you back to the old routes which I believe have now been lost. These days its all about who plays the best ‘Urban Licks’ – whatever that means, the days of scratching and live vinyl mixing are unfortunately gone in today’s club culture. This game feature’s Grandmaster Flash, so hopefully it will convince people to look at how good DJ’s used to be!

Sure you can play samples over the tracks, “Sound of the DJ, DJ” being one of them – but why do such an annoying thing? Scratching, fading – this game has it all, so let’s bring back the real disk jockey culture! (This is a great place to start)

‘The Kings Of My iTunes’

Posted in Features on 2009/11/06 by sturgeonmusic

kings-of-leon-rolling-stone-cover

Right now there is only one band dominating my iTunes collection, 3 brothers and their cousin from Nashville Tennessee, whose recent album launched them into success that many people can only dream of. Yes its Kings Of Leon, and I felt it only right to features them in today’s post. I will be writing about their 4 albums as a whole song writing collective, however if you haven’t already check them all out.

Few other bands have evolved such a sound that brings together most elements of ‘popular’ mainstream music and exploration of different tones from their instruments. If you search through my blog you will eventually find a piece I wrote on Jared Followill, the youngest brother and bass player from the band – and he is just one reason as to why their sound could be referred to as legendary.

Take the lyrics for instance, Caleb seems to ignore the ‘norm’ for his richly religious home up-bringing and focuses on such issues as pregnancy out of wed-lock  (Knocked Up) and drunken tales of night life (My Party). There is also a clear evolution in their music, Youth & Young Manhood was recorded at their home on simple equipment – and whilst lacking the mainstream qualities was at the end of the day, well crafted and written rock music (with hints of Nashville Blues).

With Aha Shake Heartbreak the band began to develop their distinct sound, and also gave birth to one of their most popular songs (The Bucket). Elements of their first album were still evident, for instance the sound of the drums was still lacking some mixing. These were only minor things however, the album is a true feel-good piece (minus Milk – with its slow minor chords) and began to get the band noticed by the public.

Because Of The Times was the next album to be released, and the difference was severely noticeable. The band began to sound more confident, and now had the backing of professional mixers when writing material. Many of their big festival tunes were exposed in this release, take for instance Fans, On Call and Charmer – all powerful songs that stand out from the mainstream yet remain successful (Also, all featuring stand-out bass work from Jared). Ragoo also displayed the bands versatility with its reggae routes and chord progressions.

Now comes what I truly feel to be their final developed sound,  though many people will disagree. Hardcore fans prefer the bands rough n’ ready sound from their first two albums, however as a whole I do believe Only By The Night to be their best effort so far. Each song keeps you wanting more and its hard to put this album down once Closer kicks into Crawl, and then of course – Sex On Fire & Use Somebody. Every instrument stands out to the point of soloist, however they all blend together perfectly to create spacey, heavy and relaxed sounds.

They might be the top of my iTunes right now, but probably not yours – so get on it!