Monthly Archives: December 2011

Why 2012 will be an amazing year for music


The Rainmaker explains why 2012 is going to be an incredible year for music.

After the look back at the best albums from 2011 I’m gonna look a forward. In a year with no glastonbury and the potential end of the world, it might seem strange to say that 2012 is going to be amazing. But it will be. And here’s why.

Pulp led the way for band reunions1. So many great bands are reuniting

There has been an explosion of awesome bands announcing that they are now reforming. it started innocently, with Pulp reuniting and playing a spot at Glastonbury and then headlining Reading/Leeds festival. They were incredible and blew many minds (including my own) and clearly some other bands were paying very close attention. Specifically, The Stone Roses. The seminal northern band announced a number of dates for 2012 and many middle-aged ex-madchester dads went nuts for tickets. Another legendary northern band joined the others when New Order announced they would reform to play some gigs but without iconic bassist Peter Hook who is now left to grumpily declare it “like Queen without Freddie Mercury”.

What’s that world? You want some bands a bit bigger? You want some bands that have completely changed the music world? Oh yeh, those happened to, ladies and gentlemen Black Sabbath and the Beach Boys are both reuniting to play some gigs in 2012. I don’t think I need to push how significant both bands have been in shaping the musical world, and while my co-author may not approve of the former, he is definitely whitening his underwear following the Beach Boys news.

And then we come to my personal favourite re-unification of the last months. The Afghan Whigs have announced that they will reform to play a festival next year. For those who don’t know, they were one of the most underrated bands of the Grunge era, combining a sleazy hard rock sound with some killer grungey tunes. Allow youtube and an impossibly young Jon Stewart to demonstrate…

So all these amazing bands will be touring and making amazing music, and just generally reminding everyone of just how awesome music can be when it’s made by the right people. And speaking of touring…

THIS JUST IN – Literally as I type this I’ve just heard that BLUR ARE REUNITING to play at the Brit awards. Now I don’t know the length of this reunion but considering that Damon just terminated Gorillaz I think it’s fair to start giggling with joy and rocking out to Song 2 again.

Oh and I forgot The Shins. They rock.

2. Living legends will be touring

...Lotus Flower...

Enough about all those silly reunions you say? Well how about a tour from ‘probably-the-best-band-currently-making-music’ Radiohead. That’s right the age defining icons will be starting a tour of arenas in 2012, giving people the chance they finally need to see one of the greatest bands of all-time play somewhere actually near them and not just a surprise one at glasto.

Add that to the fact that half of grunges ‘Big 4’ and my two favourite Grunge bands (Nirvana not included due to reasons relating to death) Pearl Jam and Soundgarden are going to be touring next year. These bands are amazing, and combined with the Afghan Whigs and the general existence of Alice In Chains, have the chance to make 2012 the year Grunge’s dead corpse became reanimated and began wandering the earth, screaming things about ‘my libido’ and ‘jalapenos’ at millions of disgruntled teenagers. Here is a newly released song by Soundgarden for those who haven’t witnessed the awesome.

Oh yeah and barely-living legends Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen will be making their way to the Isle of Wight in the summer. If you’re wondering why there arent more newer bands in this section it’s because, frankly, they are always touring. But it is fair to expect gigs from The Vaccines, Tune-Yards and all those new but still good bands you can hear on BBC 6music.

3. New Albums = New Awesome

Guess who’s in the studio? That’s right, Radiohead. I won’t dwell on the amazingness of that because I’ve already ranted enough but lets just say you can pretty much include all of the above artists that reunited because like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, they’re working on some new stuff. To save time here is just a list of people who have delared that they will actually, no bullshit, release an album next year.

  • Paul McCartney
  • Beach Boys
  • Foo Fighters
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • The Shins
  • Rodrigo y Gabriela
  • Metallica
  • Muse
  • Lana Del Rey
  • Mark Lanegan
  • Dry the River

And finally how can I forget the winners of my best album of 2011 list, Tom Williams and the Boat are currently raising funds to release their second album via a fan payment site called PledgeMusic, which you can see here, and go and give them money so I can hear their new record sooner please!

I’m pretty sure that should be enough for you. As its only fair to leave with a song, here’s my favourite song by The Shins, as their record is the one I’m most looking forward to.

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Top 5 Albums of 2011


The Rainmaker’s top 5 albums of 2011

After my co-author, the Dedicated Apeman opened the blog slagging off our blog name and declaring ‘some things are just shit’, I thought I’d begin my section of the blog on a more happy note. First off the blog name is AWESOME and that’s a fact. The combined power of Tom Waits and a music related quote might just be too much for some people to take… Also I will be writing under the name The Rainmaker and its not a fusion of some kinks songs, its just one, admittedly a tad weird, song.

Anyway, seeing as it’s basically the end of the year now, here is a list of my top 5 albums of the year.

5 – Tom Waits – Bad As Me

BAD AS ME

This year saw a new release from the legendary Tom Waits, his last collection of all new songs being 2004’s Real Gone. This album, however, is as good as anything he put out back in his heyday of Small Change or Blue Valentine. In many ways this is an accessible introduction to everything he has done previously. Tracks like Face To The Highway and Back In The Crowd (*coughcough*) recall his early ballads, while the raucous album opener Chicago and the storming Hell Broke Luce are as good as any of his songs on Bone Machine or Rain Dogs. This is Tom Waits at his best and it is impossible for anyone not to like it. If it can be criticised as nothing new then that is merely testament to the inventiveness of one of the greatest songwriters of all time, that such a radical album can be called ‘normal’. Here’s the title track, and potential best song on the album.

4 – PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

LET ENGLAND SHAKEPJ Harvey is a bit of a legend herself, having played gigs on the same bill as Nirvana, inspirng artists like Florence and the Machine and with a stubborn refusal to conform to any genre from grunge to americana to soft piano songs. This album is another massive change-up. Recorded in a church in Dorset, and with lyrics inspired by conficts from World War One to the Iraq war, this is an incredibly deep and yest beautiful look at issues like nationalism, identity and, mainly, war. But don’t let this scare you off. This is no prog-rock 5 hour epic. Instead the songs are perfectly formed and flow brilliantly. Yes, it may take a lot of listens before it really ‘clicks’ with you, but the end result is so unbelievably worth it that this is undeniably one of the greatest albums she’s ever released and by winning the Mercury Music Award proved that this is definitely one of the best albums of 2011. Here is the performance that turned me on to this album, on later with Jools.

3 – Cage The Elephant – Thank You Happy Birthday

Cage The Elephant followed up their awesome first album with a radical shift in direction. Where they had drawn on Led Zeppelin and Foo Fighters for that album, here they’re channeling the rawer alternative sound of The Pixies or Dinosaur Jr. It’s a rawer, angrier album than before, but not without their trademark sense of humour. Songs like Indie Kidz and Sabertooth Tiger take the piss very effectively, but this album hits greatness with the deeper and heavier songs. Who can resist the power of Aberdeen or 1st track Always Something? This is a band and an album that restores faith in the power and the quality of true rock music, and live, they certainly live up to their recordings, even bringing in Dave fucking Grohl to play drums for them when their drummer got ill. The best song on the album is undoubtedly the first single Shake Me Down, the only song I know with TWO videos that are both incredible. While I think you should also watch the first one they made, the second ‘official’ one is slightly better so here it is…

2 – tUnE-yArDs – W H O K I L L

Yes, that’s a very strangely spelt album. It has funny capitals on the band name and inexplicable spaces in the album title. Weirdly, it’s actually quite suitable. Tune-Yards ispretty much the work of one woman, Merrill Garbus, but the sound she makes is mind-blowing. It’s a fusion of African rhythms and percussion, funk basslines, outrageous brass, lilting ukelele and some of the most impressive singing you will ever hear. This would be good enough alone, but she combines this incredible music with fantastic witty, honest and cutting lyrics, riffing on patriotism, race, body image, being a ‘gangsta’ and and even rioting across the course of the record. This is the type of record that Friendly Fires would dream of being able to make. It’s diffiult to express how amazing this album really is without sounding like a massive pillock, so I’ll leave it up to the lead single off the album to try and persuade you of the awesomeness that this album contains.

I would love to leave it there but this is also an artist that needs to be seen to be believed so here’s a song performed completely live.

1 – Tom Williams and the Boat – Too Slow

And so we come to my favourite album of 2011, and I’m guessing (unless you’re one of the friends who lets me rant about music at you) you’ve never heard of the band or the album (or any of the songs for that matter). In fact, I’m fairly sure that putting an album by an unsigned band that no one has ever heard of makes me punch-in-the-face-worthy and facing severe accusations of being a hipster. But this album, man… this album…

Musically it sits somewhere between Arcade Fire and acoustic Radiohead: guitar driven but with violin woven throughout, with a rhythm section of drums, bass and piano perfectly holding it all together. But lyrically is where the album really shines, lying somewhere between Bob Dylan and Nick Cave. Tom writes with a fusion of ironic self-mockery and incredibly touching honesty and frankness that never grates. A particular favourite of mine is the song Wouldn’t Women Be Sweet that varies from obvious piss-taking (“Met you in a bar in 2003 / we started going out immediately / thought it would be fun, thought it would be easy / didn’t realise you were a maniac.”) and yet hits a surprisingly deep emotional climax (“You’ll make some other man’s life a misery / but I don’t care as long as it’s not me.”) Many of the songs are stories, from the bleak unemployed parable that is title track Too Slow to the tale of the mistaken suicide bomber in Voicemail (how many other artists have ever written about terrorists?), but no two songs run the same way.

This album can be as nasty as it can be tender from the smooth and poetic Denmark to the angry and storming See My Evil. Here are two songs from the record, that I hope can cover exactly what this band is capable of. The first is the first song of theirs I ever heard, Concentrate, that only struck me two weeks after I had last heard it on BBC 6music, and the second is the second song I heard, after I googled what little I could remember from hearing them before in an attempt to find out who it was who wrote Concentrate.

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Some things are just shit.


Some things are just shit.                                              

 By the dedicated Apeman 

Why, hello there. Welcome to my section of the blog “put me back in the crowd”. I would like to begin by explaining a couple of things about this blog, I am not a fan of the name of It, it wasn’t my choice, I think it’s stupid, I think it’s boring, but it is a Tom Waits quote, and Tom Waits is cool. I wanted it to be called the dedicated apeman. While you may be somewhat bewildered by this and think I have some weird fetish for apes, well think again. It is actually a combination of two Kinks songs, “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” and “Apeman” which incidentally if you’ve never heard, listen to them now, you won’t regret it. I thought this was rather clever and funny, but other people seem to think otherwise… anyway, I’ve managed to squeeze it in by writing under the pseudo of “the dedicated apeman” so I am relatively content.  And that’s that, swings and roundabouts as they say.

Right. I will begin.

There are certain situations which arise, where songs are covered in such a way that they should never be covered again. Now, this is not musically speaking, if someone does an incredible cover musically of the song, it can still be covered again, but only if someone thinks they can bring a new perspective to it. For example, while many say “All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan is uncoverable due to the incredible Jimi Hendrix version, I disagree. There is still more that could be brought to the song, a really bluesy version I think would bring something new to it, that would be pretty cool, actually.

It is not musical talent which deems something uncoverable, but it is the situation, the legacy and the emotion in a song, which does this. This is why Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt” was the definitive version, and why Leona Lewis covering it, is completely ridiculous and, an insult to Johnny Cash’s memory.

Johnny Cash sung the song “Hurt” as he faced death; it is almost a goodbye to life, and his love (June Carter), who would die soon after watching the video which was recorded alongside the song. It is the last performance of a musical legend, and you can hear him pour everything he has left to give into and when he sings “what have I become, my sweetest friend?” in his rich, yet broken voice, is hard to listen to, without shedding a tear.

This song, should never have been covered again. Simple as that, and yet, Leona Lewis covered it. What the fuck?! I mean, I don’t like to swear, but what the ACTUAL FUCK. Her version is emotionally bland, terribly produced and void of any originality.  And yet, what makes me really angry is that if you look on YouTube, people defend her.  Saying that , “people can like what they like” and that “it’s all subjective anyway”. Subjective, my arse.

I’m sick of all this subjective nonsense.  Leona Lewis’s version of “Hurt” has absolutely nothing on the Johnny Cash version, and that’s not just my preference, it was in every single way, better. And yet people claim, that it is a subjective opinion, NO.

Johnny Cash’s version was well produced, well arranged and incredibly well performed. Leona Lewis’s was none of these, and while people are saying things like, “she can’t ruin the song, the other versions are still there” they are missing the point. Leona Lewis has taken away from Johnny Cash’s version simply by singing it, and forever will the two now be compared.

People who listen to this awful music do need to actually the face facts. Sure, they can listen to it if they want, but they can’t defend it, saying it’s just as good as other things simply because they like it. Because, it’s not. Some things are just shit.