You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

"Your mother's heart is bursting for me, as we sit by her impressive tree, her heart is open but mine it is torn, for her first-born. It's Christmas and you're boring me." Slow Club – It's Christmas And You're Boring Me

Monday, 17 December 2012

Alternative Christmas

Bored of all the Christmas music standards, blaring out on every advert, sullying every shopping trip and pouring from every passing pair of headphones? As always, there is another way.

So, for those like me who want to tell Wham and Wizzard to wind their necks in and who wish Jingle Bells would jog on, here are 5 alternative Christmas songs. Take 15 and enjoy, from the fervently festive to the beautifully miserable.

I also can't speak highly enough of the rest of this - Slow Club – Christmas Thanks For Nothing EP.

Thursday, 13 December 2012


2012 is almost over, and, with the world about to end, I thought it was time I told you all what music I've liked this year, so we can all die happy and content. These are the albums that have soundtracked my year. They have moved me – some have picked me up, some have dragged me down, some have literally made me move – but all have played their part in my year in some way. As always, personal opinion this, music is subjective that, blah blah blah. Feedback is welcome as long as it's good.

1. Sharon Van Etten – Tramp
2. Grimes – Visions
3. Poliça – Give You the Ghost
4. The Maccabees – Given to the Wild
5. Jack White – Blunderbuss
6. Bat for Lashes – The Haunted Man
7. Richard Hawley – Standing at the Sky’s Edge
8. Jessie Ware – Devotion
9. Beach House – Bloom
10. The xx – Coexist

Honorable mentions to:

Chromatics – Kill for Love
Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory
Crystal Castles – III
DIIV – Oshin
Egyptian Hip Hop – Good Don’t Sleep
Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…
Friends – Manifest!
Iamamiwhoami – Kin
Japandroids – Celebration Rock
John Talabot – Fin
Kindness – World, You Need a Change of Mind
Lower Dens – Nootropics
Lucy Rose – Like I Used To
The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know
Toy – Toy
Tribes – Baby

And, because 'tis the season of giving, here is a Spotify playlist of (most of) the songs I have particularly enjoyed this year. If you don't like at least some of it I will eat my hat*.

I've also seen some great live music this year, with highlights including Radiohead's amazing gig in October, finally seeing The Horrors in May, finally seeing Jack White front and centre in July, and Echo and the Bunnymen at Moseley Folk in August, not to mention some amazing support acts, with Daughter, Toy, First Aid Kit and Caribou springing to mind. 

Here's to next year, which promises to be another great year for music, including my first Glastonbury festival!

*I don't own any hats so therefore will not keep this promise

Friday, 2 November 2012

Mercury musings

Every year it feels like all I do is bitch and moan about the Mercury prize, and sadly this year is no different.

This year’s nominations drew nothing more than a groan and a shrug when announced, but it's the same gripe that rears its head again. What is the point of this award?

While the last two winning albums may have deserved the award, they didn’t really need the recognition, which I thought was the point of the whole process. If this is just another award for Britain’s best album then, with all due respect, should Roller Trio and Sam Lee really be in the top 12?

This award seems to have literally no purpose. It doesn’t recognise obscure music often enough to make that the point, and it won’t make the rest of the nominations sell millions. With a thousand blogs, radio stations and music services like Spotify making recommendations, do we even need awards like this to draw our attention to what we already know?

And for those who do still go out and buy the winning album each year, will Alt-J really make them excited about British music in 2012?

Everyone who will enjoy Alt-J most likely knew them by now. They were already the darlings of NME, the Guardian and Radio 1, and the pre-awards favourites. I like The Maccabees and Richard Hawley, but again what would the point be?

Maybe I’m just being arsey because Alt-J are a band I find it very difficult to get excited about. They leave me cold at every listen, because when you take away the trying-to-be-weird-on-purpose vocals, this album has nothing different to offer. There is worse stuff out there true, but that’s just my personal opinion.

However, I feel that someone like Jessie Ware – admittedly well known in the already mentioned circles – could have a real impact on the charts, bringing some talent and soul back to mainstream pop. She hopefully will anyway, but the award could have served a purpose if she had been given it. And she can sing. Rant over.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Cocteau Twins - Sugar Hiccup

Having vaguely been aware of Cocteau Twins, in particular Liz Fraser for her work with Massive Attack and Craig Armstrong, for a while, I finally gave them a listen recently, and one song in particular grabbed me and has dominated my listening ever since. Despite its lack of lyrical content, whenever I listen to Sugar Hiccup I find myself transported somewhere else, with its dreamy, ethereal swirling guitars and heavenly vocals soothing and drenching my ears in loveliness. Like all good things, it’s addictive, and I’ll admit that several times I have played this song on repeat for up to and over an hour. The definition of dream pop, this truly mesmerising piece of music is instantly one of my favourite songs.

"He pulled the mirrors off his Cadillac 'cause he doesn't like it looking like he looks back." - Tame Impala - Elephant

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Benjamin Francis Leftwich

It’s almost 18 months since Benjamin Francis Leftwich released his debut album, but last night (17 October) he brought a fresh Snowstorm to Birmingham’s Irish Centre.

For whatever reason, some music just works better in the cold, grey months of the British autumn and winter. And, as his album’s wintery title may suggest, Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm benefitted from being performed on a dark and chilly October evening.

Like the precipitation he so often writes of, Ben is a magnetic figure on stage, easily creating a palpable atmosphere with his warm guitar sounds and breathy, enduring vocals. His presence draws a hushed response during songs and rapturous applause in between, with cries of love and lust from the audience a regular occurrence.

Playing the entire album, the gig had a great balance between the stripped down sound of Ben playing solo, and the fuller sound that his band created around him.

Highlights included a full-band version of Stole You Away, featuring moody slide guitar and a bluesy solo, an extended version of Don’t Go Slow, which built from quiet into a rousing crescendo, and closer Atlas Hands, which was played completely unplugged and drew one of the softest and sweetest singalongs of any gig I’ve been to.

Alongside the songs from his long player, Ben also played Hole in My Hand and Maps from the A Million Miles Out EP, previewed two new songs from the forthcoming In The Open EP, and even found time for a slow and delicate cover of Arcade Fire’s Rebellion (Lies).

The new songs - the EP’s title track In The Open and Manchester Snow, which Ben reveals has a rather risqué story behind its title, involving 23 rendezvous’ with a Manchester girl in the space of one week - sound great live and point towards a fuller sound Ben is creating.

As he is on Twitter, Ben appears a very down to earth guy on stage, constantly thanking fans for coming out and the venue for having him. Following him on Twitter is a must if you want to learn more about modern life on the road, he is often found asking after a spare washing machine or shower, and personally thanking fans – myself included – that have tweeted about buying tickets or enjoying the album.

And as Ben mentions some of his recent tours, it seems he has been on tour constantly for a long time now. But still filling venues after several lengthy tours with the album is an indicator of its lingering impact, and his fans appear as dedicated as he is.

With the new EP - to be released next month - offering a glimpse into what is next, this talented young Yorkshireman is continuing to brew up a storm.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Tame Impala - Elephant

Tame Impala are a band I’ve heard mentioned a lot over the last couple of years, and heard songs by, but never really nailed down much about them, until recently. It may just be a coincidence, but their new Beatles-esque album Lonerism has coincided with my own in-depth discovery of the fab four. Obviously I knew who The Beatles were and knew their singles, but only recently have I taken the time to discover their albums, and I’m glad I did.

Anyway, every review of Lonerism can’t help but make comparisons with The Beatles because singer Kevin Parker’s voice is so similar to that of John Lennon, admittedly not a bad person to sound like. Add  that to the psychedelic rock sound that he has developed with the band, and the video, and you may just forget just who you’re listening to. This song was the first single from the album released back in July. Enjoy.

Sunday, 7 October 2012


It’s safe to say these are exciting times for Radiohead fans. Beginning with The King of Limbs, their eighth studio album nonchalantly announced and released in the space of a week in February 2011, the band are currently enjoying a productive purple patch, culminating last night in their first proper UK show for four years.

After casting off the shackles of traditional releases from 2007’s ground-breaking In Rainbows onwards, the band seem to have found a new lease of life, using their independence to release a string of material in the wake of the brilliant but somewhat brief TKOL album, as well as debuting a number of new songs live.

This influx of new material, including the double singles Supercollider/The Butcher and Staircase/The Daily Mail, and the unreleased Identikit, Cut A Hole and Skirting The Surface, has shown the UK’s passion for one of its most influential bands is a fervent as ever, with fever pitch reached this week with their first full UK tour since 2008.

While there may have been some grumblings about the fleeting length of the tour and the venues chosen, the tour’s first show last night at Manchester’s MEN Arena was everything the fans wanted, and more.

Those who were lucky enough to catch their secret gig at 2011’s Glastonbury aside, it was the first live outing for many TKOL songs in the UK, and they proved a revelation, finding their perfect home in the vast arena. Opener Lotus Flower effortlessly filled the open space, with punchy bass and entrancing drumming at its heart, it sounded truly anthemic and immediately set the tone for the whole evening.

Soon followed by Bloom, the swirling and offbeat album opener, the sweet and soaring Separator, and the frantic and intense Feral and Morning Mr Magpie, each demonstrated the extreme opposites that the album is made of and made for an exciting live show.

But, for me, the TKOL song that most demonstrated the perfect shift to the live arena was Give Up the Ghost, which was truly remarkable in the flesh. Coming as part of the second encore, with only Thom and Johnny onstage, loops of Thom’s vocals were built up, layering a rich, mesmerising sound that rang out and lingered long in the memory.

Other new material also included The Daily Mail, another high point, always surprising with its shift from falsetto ballad into rocking anthem, and brand new song Full Stop, which was musically similar to Jigsaw Falling into Place from In Rainbows, but a bit more distorted and synthy.

Radiohead’s epic Manchester gig on the In Rainbows tour of 2008 was probably the closest to a perfect gig I’ve ever seen, thanks to a perfectly balanced set list. Often painted as a difficult band who shun their biggest songs live, they did quite the opposite, playing a diverse and exciting set.

This was again the case last night, as the aforementioned new songs were surrounded and separated by an eclectic collection from their back catalogue. Airbag’s famous chords ripped through the room in only the second song, soon followed by the poles apart Myxomatosis and The Gloaming.

After These Are My Twisted Words, a free download from 2009, the mood was lulled with the hypnotic Pyramid Song and Nude, the beginning of a very well-received In Rainbows section also featuring a furious version of Weird Fishes/Arpeggi and wonderful percussion on Reckoner.

As the first set drew to a close, the big guns were brought out, with There There, The National Anthem and Paranoid Android all increasing the volume and intensity, sending the crowd into rapture.

The first encore began with You and Whose Army?, before an ‘old, really old’ one according to Thom, Planet Telex being the only song from their first two albums to be played. The first encore ended with an atmospheric version of the always devastating How to Disappear Completely – the high point of the entire gig for me.

The second encore continued the brooding sound, with Give up the Ghost followed by a long and haunting version of Everything in its Right Place, which saw the band depart the stage at various stages, each receiving a standing ovation as they did. But that wasn’t it, and they all returned for a final fraught burst of Idioteque, leaving the crowd truly stunned as the house lights came on.

On top of the near perfect set list, the physical set was also outstanding, with a dozen screens that shifted, rotated, rose and lowered above the band to provide a glimpse at each member, while huge walls of LED lighting morphed from one colour to another, reflecting and adding to the moody, smoky atmosphere.

As for the band themselves, they are completely at ease on stage. The day before his 44th birthday – for which he was sung Happy Birthday by the audience - Thom was in a playful mood, joking around, introducing himself as Lady Gaga, and dancing like no one was watching.

The rest of the band, featuring touring second drummer Clive Deamer, were effortless. Coming and going when necessary, switching between instruments seamlessly, enjoying themselves immensely - they are all great to watch.

As the band approach the 20th anniversary of their debut album in February 2013, they remain, in many eyes, the UK’s most innovative and important band. On recent evidence, last night included, that shows no sign of changing.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Lucy Rose - Like I Used To

I first heard Lucy Rose on the title track of Bombay Bicycle Club’s sophomore, acoustic-folk album Flaws. Her delicate backing vocal, and how perfectly it intertwined with that of Bombay’s Jack Steadman, made it the album’s standout song, and I immediately wanted to know who this lingering and evocative voice belonged to.

Two years later, Lucy Rose has come a long way. The release and success of debut album Like I Used To last week is another landmark for her, and a testament to patience and hard work.

At a young age she moved to London from my own Warwickshire, a brave first step in making a name for herself. And, while others may have rushed into releasing something based on the exposure her part-time role as a part of Bombay has brought over the last two years, Lucy has taken it one song at a time, maturing and honing her solo craft at intimate venues across the country whilst also gracing arena and festival stages with the band. All the while building her back catalogue and growing, both lyrically and musically.

This measured approach has given the album an accessibility, with five singles already released and two early tracks included. Middle of The Bed, Night Bus and Bikes were three of the first songs of hers I loved back in 2010, and they are here pretty much as they were, avoiding the fate of so many demos that are tampered with too much by the time they make it onto an album.

But alongside the familiar, there are also nine new songs to make up a thorough and confident debut. Other singles Scar, Red Face and Lines are joined by standout tracks Shiver, Don’t You Worry and Be Alright.

Across the album, her guitar work is delightful, with intricate and delicate picking mixed with bigger and bolder sounds. And her songs aren’t restricted by typically acoustic structures, with tempo and volume changes throughout giving her room to manoeuvre and keeping things lively and stimulating.

It is her vocals however that are the heart and soul of the record, with her tender voice bringing the stories she sings to life. She tells tales of broken relationships and dark souls, but her voice is uplifting enough to ensure they never become too heavy or difficult.

While many reviews of Lucy focus on the tea and the jam – which no doubt add to the charm factor - this is an album worthy of attention for the music alone. Appropriately released in autumn, this lovely album will no doubt warm and soothe during the winter months ahead.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The xx - Coexist

What did you exxpect?
The xx do not owe us anything. That is something to keep in mind when listening to Coexist, their long-awaited second long player.
The strange, often complex relationship between band and fan is not one based on the owing or paying of debts. Expectation is the problem of the listener, not the band. But, when you wait three years after releasing a masterpiece, you may be asking for trouble.
That being said, as a single, standalone piece of art, Coexist is another mesmerising collection of songs, easily up there with their debut, maybe even surpassing it.
The building blocks that made that debut so special are all laid out once again, while experience has enabled producer and band member Jamie Smith to bring them together more seemlessly than ever. The trippy beats that slip in and out, the subtle and enchanting sounds that rise and fall and shift and morph with each listen, the juxtaposition of the cold, sparse arrangements with the warm, intimate lyrical content. The breathy and wondrous dual vocals. Atmospheric, hypnotic, elusive, lush - it’s all here.
This is in many ways an album that no other band could make. Sunset is up there with anything on xx and possibly the best ever combination of everything they do so well, Angels is a Romy laying herself truly bare for the first time in devastating fashion, while Oliver gets his chance on Fiction. And Jamie Smith brings in those delightful steel pans from his solo work on Reunion. After five back-to-back listens (which in no way seems a chore), a flaw is yet to be found in its 37 minutes.
And is that what causes the slight niggling feeling that comes with this album? Have they played it safe?
That is one of a number of interesting questions that this album raises. Second album this and that, the fact their Mercury win came a whole year after the first album’s release, for better or worse, gave them time, whilst simultaneously removing one pressure - finding success - and replacing it with another - replicating it.
Sure, they have had things to deal with. Coming to terms with the mainstream success and excessive touring, losing a band member. But, they still sound like the same amazing band that made that album in 2009. So why has this album, a consolidation rather than a progression, taken three years to produce?
A Kid A-style game-changer on only their second release would be too much to expect some might say. And they’ve created a sound that has brought the oh-so-rare combination of being unique, credible and popular, so why walk away from it?
But the feeling remains of what could have been? What more are they capable of? What can we expect from them next?
After waiting three years, the niggling lingers long after listening, like a soaring xx guitar. Angels was such a brave first single that it hinted at a complete disregard for expectation. Maybe by album three, they will follow through. Till then, we have a consistently beautiful piece to sooth and satiate us. What more could we expect?

Monday, 3 September 2012

Moseley Folk Festival 2012

I attended Moseley Folk Festival for the second time on Friday (31 August), which just happened to be my birthday. My ticket turned out to be an awesome present to myself, as a wonderful mix of live music, decent-ish weather and real ale made it another memorable day.

Kicking things off were Abigail Washburn and Kai Welch, natives of southern US musical hub Nashville, Tennessee. Abigail’s beautiful vocals combined with her banjo playing and Kai’s multi-instrumental backing provided a soothing start to the day. But it was by no means a down-the-line set, with Abigail in particular an entertaining figure. She impressed with several songs sung in Chinese, a bit of dancing, some fascinating back stories and many humorous comments.

Next up on the Main Stage, and bringing a rather more eccentric feel to the day were Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny. With painted faces and bright costumes, they brought the same spirit that has seen debut album Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose receive heavy radio play and an appearance on Jools Holland earlier in 2012. Their inter-band banter and energy was perfect for their afternoon slot, with Beth’s opening gambit including asking the audience if they had had a bowel movement yet that day.

But Beth isn’t just kooky, she has an brilliantly unique voice and is backed by an energetic and talented band. Her entertaining set was fun-filled and ended with her getting audience members on stage to dance with her and the band. This song is a particular favourite.

Switching to the Lunar Stage, Laura J Martin continued the alternative mood with an intriguing set that combined Kate Bush-esque vocals, Native American noises, loops, mandolin, and jazz flute that Ron Burgundy would be proud of. With her debut album, entitled The Hangman Tree, released earlier this year, she is a talent to watch out for.

The slightly bizarre had become the norm by now and was continued by The Destroyers, a 15-piece rag tag bunch from just down the road. An anarchic set of gypsy punk saw instruments thrown and juggled as much as they were played. Their frenzied early-evening performance brought renewed vigour to the day and the party was in full flow throughout their riotous hour on stage.

In comparison, the once-similarly eclectic Guillemots followed with a rather subdued but no less enjoyable gig. With the backdrop of a setting sun, an emergency bass player filling in and Fyfe Dangerfield rooted to a grand piano, they played a chilled show featuring some stripped-back versions of songs from their back catalogue.

Dangerfield, a Moseley native, still possesses a captivating voice, even if it was somewhat strange to see him so tranquil, but a set featuring a number of old favourites was a perfect precursor to the main event.

The whole day had been building to Echo & The Bunnymen, a band I’d been aware of for ages but only come to really like recently. I was excited to see them live for the first time, which set me apart from most of the crowd, largely made up of long-time devotees.

Compere Janice Long excitedly took to the stage to announce their arrival, revealing that singer Ian McCulloch used to be her neighbour, and even babysat for her son once upon a time. Her genuine and long-standing excitement for the band was reflected in the crowd when she asked how many of them had seen Echo at a famous Birmingham Odeon gig in 1984, which many had done.

Their blistering set lasted an hour and a half, relentlessly featuring hit after hit with minimal fuss in between. Highlights included traditional opener Rescue, Do It Clean, Seven Seas, Bring On The Dancing Horses, The Cutter and The Killing Moon. Over 30 years after their debut album was released, the band still sounded amazing, demonstrating a longevity few of their contempories have managed.

A perfect set to end a great day of eclectic live music. I will no doubt be there again next year. Thank you Moseley!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Anticipating an austere autumn

As the frankly pathetic summer we’ve had nears its equally pathetic end, it isn’t all bad news. The lack of sun has meant a lack of (or need for) distinctly summery releases. But, an autumn of falling leaves, dark evenings and, if it’s possible, even more rain will soon provide an appropriately bleak background for the most anticipated releases of the coming months.

Whether it’s just my taste or not, it seems to be the autumn of the delicate and heart-breaking female vocalist. And I love nothing more than a pretty voice singing something miserable.

The xx have unveiled the first two songs from their long awaited second album, set to be released on 10 September. Angels, the album opener, is a typically sparse affair, built solely around Romy Madley Croft’s beautiful vocals. It’s a brave move by the band to release such a subtle song as their first new music in three years, especially with the mainstream success their debut went on to have after its Mercury win. But it has certainly rekindled my love for them.

Natasha Khan aka Bat for Lashes also returns, with her third album The Haunted Man released on 15 October. She debuted much of the album at a one off gig in July, and a fan-recorded video of one song went particularly viral. Lucky for us that song, Laura, became the album’s first single. A piano ballad in the same vein as Sad Eyes and The Bat’s Mouth from her debut, it is a devastating piece of music, with Natasha’s lyrics offering support to a friend lost in today’s celebrity culture. Hopes are high for the album after her two near-perfect releases to date.

Last but not least, an artist that I have written a lot about on this blog over the last year has released a new song, as their debut album draws ever nearer.

Daughter, a three piece led by vocalist Elena Tonra, have to date released two stunning EPs and embarked on several tours supporting artists such as Ben Howard and Benjamin Francis Leftwich. This week they announced the release of Smother, a new song that has been recorded at Abbey Road in the sessions for their album, alongside their first US tour and largest UK headline show to date. Smother itself is another affecting number of atmospheric guitars and melancholy lyrics. Released on 1 October, it will hopefully be soon followed by an album.

Monday, 13 August 2012

A hard act to follow

Why trying to top the greatest show on earth with a second rate pop concert was a bit futile

I’d never seen an Olympic closing ceremony before last night (I hadn’t seen an opening one until two weeks ago either) and therefore I have no idea what one should be like.

I also remain unconvinced about the need for one, I enjoy a party as much as anyone, but it seems to me that trying to top the greatest show on earth with a pop concert is a bit futile.

I’ll ignore the fact that I felt confused by the randomness and lack of context throughout last night, and instead focus on the music that featured in ‘A Symphony of British Music’, which was billed as a celebration of the best British music from the last 50 years.

Unfortunately, this ceremony didn’t deliver on that. And it slowly came to light throughout the evening that our most talented performers were, rather unfortunately, deceased, not receptive of this kind of event or just absent.

The music that wasn’t played live and was used to soundtrack other proceedings - Lennon, Kate Bush, Bowie, Freddie Mercury - put the people that were available to shame, as the same old faces were pulled out again and the new faces showed that modern British pop music is in poor health. Where were our world conquerors, Adele and Coldplay?

The whole evening seemed unorganised (disappointing after the smoothness of the Games themselves), plagued by these strange decisions, awkward gaps, repetition, and bizarre song choices.

Was having nothing bands like Kaiser Chiefs and Ed Sheeran covering The Who (who were actually in the stadium at the time) and Pink Floyd good enough for the closing ceremony of the Olympics? Did it appeal to fans of either the coverers or coverees? I doubt Ed Sheeran fans know much Pink Floyd or understood the album cover reference. I doubt Pink Floyd fans had heard of Sheeran before last night. If you can’t get the real thing, don’t bother. And shame on you, Nick Mason.

The Spice Girls seemed to be the main event for many in the build up, so why did they only get one and a half songs? Why give Emili Sande and Jessie J (who never seems to leave our screens) more prominence?

Why did George Michael get two songs, and did anyone even know what his second song was? I’m not sure he even did. Annie Lennox (for some reason in a pirate ship) picked a fairly random song too.

Could Queen not have done ‘We Are The Champions’ rather than the standard ‘We Will Rock You’, we were at the Olympics after all. Why not have Spandau out to do ‘Gold’, another missed trick.

Liam over Noel? Fat Boy Slim? The Who rather than The Rolling Stones? I could go on, but it’s all subjective.

I suppose my final gripe would be the obvious miming of most acts. While logistically it may have made sense, this was supposed to be a celebration of music.

But it’s not all bad, there were some highlights. Ray Davies still sounding good 45 years after writing the greatest London song there is. Elbow proving majestic as the athletes entered. Russell Brand bringing some bizarre ‘Wonka-meets-Walrus’ psychedelia. Eric Idle pratting around and successfully keeping the ‘Life’s a piece of shit’ line in there. The Who closing with My Generation.

Add those moments to the stadium, torch and fireworks once again proving spectacular, the athletes and volunteers clearly enjoying themselves and maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. Worthy of a bronze, but not a patch on the Games themselves.

Friday, 13 July 2012


Hate To Say I Told You So

After playing The HivesHate To Say I Told You So yesterday (12 June), Radcliffe and Maconie on 6 Music discussed how the band were never likely to make it big, because bands with gimmicks never do.

Stuart said they were never likely to achieve the five-star reviews Jack White is currently enjoying, comparing them as The Hives and The White Stripes came onto the scene around the same time.

In reply to Stuart’s assertion, I tweeted him to point out that The White Stripes clearly had gimmicks of their own, with both the sibling ‘story’ and the red, white and black uniform outfits.

You can hear Mark and Stuart acknowledging my tweet on air below (apologies for the strange beach noises Mark chooses to play in the middle) and it got me thinking, do bands with gimmicks ever make it big?

The brother/sister White Stripes tale is still brought up, even now that Jack White is an all-conquering solo artist, but how important has that story and the subsequent reaction to the truth been to his career?

It seems to be a trade off. While some bands can become huge directly through their gimmick, they will likely never been taken seriously, as Stuart said. However, would they swap that for the possible obscurity that having no gimmick could have left them with? I doubt it.

The Hives’ gimmick wasn’t a particularly strong or unusual one. Wearing matching, often smart, outfits has been done by hundred of bands. I wouldn’t say it did The Hives any good or any harm. The reason they didn’t become as big as The White Stripes is that they are simply not as talented.

So which gimmicks have worked, or at least been the most infamous?

One band Mark and Stuart discussed, and perhaps the most famous gimmick in music history, is Kiss’ make up. Their made up faces have inspired a line of merchandise that far outweighs their musical output and, while they are considered a joke by many, they managed to set themselves apart in a genre as expansive as a pair of leather trousers.

Likewise, Gorillaz are at then end of the day a fairly average alternative band (except for On Melancholy Hill, which is extraordinary). But, by being the world’s first mainstream virtual band, they were at once distinctive and attention grabbing. But have they ever been any more?

OK Go revived their career somewhat with their clever, but gimmicky, homemade videos, winning a Grammy and a load more fans in the process. The attention soon faded though.

My favourite band Radiohead have also demonstrated a few gimmicks in recent times, with the name your own price scheme for the In Rainbows release and The Universal Sigh newspaper that coincided with The King of Limbs. Whether they are gimmicks or genuine attempts to be innovative and interesting is up for debate. Either way, when you have a back catalogue like theirs, you can pretty much do what you want, and both were considered a success.

And maybe that’s the point, if you’re music is good, you can do what you want. If it isn’t, while you can do things to get more attention, you will never be a better band.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Autoheart - The Sailor Song

My 60th, and current, Jam is The Sailor Song, which has a rather strange history. Originally released as the debut single of The Gadsdens in 2009, it received rave reviews, being championed by Q, The Guardian and The Telegraph, as well as airplay on Radio 2 and 6 Music. In 2011, having released no further music, The Gadsdens became Autoheart, and still the wait for more music as blindingly beautiful as this song goes on. I heard this recently through its ongoing exposure on 6 Music, and it has quickly cemented itself as one of my favourite songs. While half of me is thankful for such a song, the other half desperately longs for more from this clearly talented band. Still, it won't be easy to top this.


After posting a link to this blog on Twitter yesterday, I received the following lovely response from Autoheart, and it's good news, with an album completed and on the way soon. The guys were even nice enough to give me a RT :)

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Tom Williams and The Boat

I was admittedly late to get on board with Tom Williams and The Boat, when excellent single and title track of their second album Teenage Blood landed earlier in 2012.

Their new single Too Young recently made the A list on 6 Music and is a perfectly pacey and perky three minutes of angsty pop-rock, despite its realistic subject matter. Containing Tom’s compelling vocals and buoyant guitar lines throughout, the song is also perfectly complemented by an excellent animated video.

After making Too Young my latest jam, effectively my favourite song of the moment, Tom tweeted me to say thanks, and even graciously agreed to a quick interview for Something for the CV.

CV: So Tom, this interview came about after you contacted a fan, and you’ve said before the more bands can interact with their fans the better, so where do you draw the line?

TW: It doesn't have to be a constant, 'Just sat down on the loo' approach, it's just that there are some bands that obviously have their labels running their Facebook and Twitter feeds. I find that pretty unacceptable, kind of abhorrent, I mean how much do you care about what you do?

CV: Does it remove the elusive mysticism and folklore that many of your own musical idols (Dylan, Springsteen) have? Is that even possible to have in the digital age?

TW: I think you can still muster that if your material is strong enough, but I know what you mean, it's a trade off. Springsteen was always the Blue Collar storyteller and so did trade off his 'accessibility' to an extent, but obviously this was way before the age of social media. Dylan, Zeppelin, all the opposite... Mustering an air of mystique is one thing, and being so absent from your own work that people forget you're there, is potentially a different part of the same side of the coin.

CV: You used PledgeMusic to fund your album, was that the best way for you to keep your fans involved as much as possible? Do you think Bob or Bruce would have used it in their early days?

TW: I think Dylan wouldn't but I think Bruce might have, or at least I think fans would presume he would, whichever is more important. I loved the experience, and the guys at Pledge are really genuinely enthused and excited about what they do. I think it massively benefited us, and made the whole album campaign very special indeed.

"There are some bands that obviously have their labels running their Facebook and Twitter feeds. I find that pretty unacceptable, kind of abhorrent."

CV: On to the new single Too Young, which contains the line 'I think we're too young, to really know what's going on', do you think that applies to bands, including your own?

TW: Not so much for bands no, often I think the younger the better! There's a certain disregard for influences when you're younger which is so refreshing. I think nowadays, and it's something central to Pledge, bands need to really know how to do everything themselves and that includes booking gigs, designing websites, making t-shirts, duplicating CDs, recording music, syncing mailing lists, communicating with fans and a million other things. It requires an entrepreneurial and intuitive spirit to drag yourself above the rest.

CV: Finally, you’re from Tunbridge Wells, recently chosen for the Grayson Perry C4 documentary as the best place to learn about the middle classes, do fans and critics have a preconceived notion about you based on where you come from?

TW: I'm not sure, and if they do I certainly don't take much notice! Tunbridge Wells has the fantastic Tunbridge Wells Forum, which actually just won the NME Best UK Small Venue award. The venue has always struggled for the sake of local bands having somewhere to play a loud rock show. There are plenty of loungey, acoustic type venues about but the Forum is one of a kind, and having toured the UK in similarly sized venues, we're very lucky indeed to have it.

I played my first gig at the Forum and the guys there put me in the studio for the first time aged 19, so they've helped massively. They also helped fund the vinyl run for the first album 'Too Slow', so I really can't thank them enough.

Tom Williams and The Boat are playing a number of festival dates over the summer, and album Teenage Blood is available now.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Jack White

I’d seen Jack White live before last night but, in some ways, didn’t feel like I truly had.

It began with having tickets for the ill-fated final White Stripes UK tour in 2007, cancelled due to Meg White’s acute anxiety. I've since seen The Raconteurs from great distant in a fairly muted mid-afternoon main stage slot at Reading Festival, and have twice seen Jack plays drums in The Dead Weather. 

But I’ve longed to see him front and centre, axe in hand as he was meant to be. News of his solo album was a welcome break amid fears he was losing his identity through his endless collaborating and his roles as producer/record label owner/gun for hire. It also presented the best opportunity in a number of years to see Jack White live. 

Set lists from his show at the HMV Forum in April and his American tour in May also suggested a perfect blend of solo, Stripes, Raconteurs and Dead Weather material. Almost a greatest hits set.

And so, with a critically lauded solo album to add to his back catalogue and the intriguing possibility of which backing band he would use, Jack White took to the stage at the Hammersmith Apollo last night (22 June) as a genuinely exciting prospect.

The first question was answered when The Peacocks, Jack’s all female backing band, took to the stage. Six strong (drums, double bass, pedal steel, fiddle, organ/piano and backing vocals), they create a semi circle around the stage and build for Jack’s arrival with a flurry of noise.

Jack casually walks on, barely reacting to absolute hysteria of the crowd and immediately rips into the raucous Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground. When he stands still, which isn’t often, he is lit from the front, casting a thirty-foot shadow on the back of the stage that is a fairly accurate representation of his now towering stature.

Three Blunderbuss songs follow, kicking off with opening track Missing Pieces before singles Sixteen Saltines and Love Interruption, the latter of which sees backing singer Ruby Amanfu seductively sharing Jack’s mic front and centre. Her excellent vocals are a feature of the gig, giving Jack time to throw himself around with abandon.

From the get go, the other Peacock most prominent is drummer Carla Azar. Situated at the front of one end of the semi-circle, on Jack’s right hand side, she is the antithesis of Meg White, brilliantly quickening and complicating every song, making use of her entire kit with constant frantic beats.

Four songs in he stops momentarily to ask 'Are you awake now London?', the screaming replies have barely died down before he rips into Hotel Yorba, perhaps the best example of the way his new band have taken White Stripes songs and evolved them. With added fiddle and pedal steel guitar, Yorba becomes a stomping hoedown of a song that has people out of their seats and literally dancing in the aisles.

After seven frenzied songs and barely a breath, Jack puts down his guitar and takes to the piano to play a country section featuring Guess I Should Go To Sleep and a Hank Williams cover.

White Stripes numbers I’m Slowly Turning Into You and an evolved Ball and Biscuit close the first set, with Jack bouncing around his semicircle of support before casting his guitar down in a howl of feedback. He strides off stage to get a few moments of recovery before the energetic encore.

He arrives back on stage flanked by his Peacocks and after warming his fingers and fret up again bursts into Freedom at 21, the current single from Blunderbuss.

He hisses 'You still awake London?' before introducing The Peacocks, revealing its the debut show of the double bassist. Said Peacock then gets the gig going again with the recognisable bass intro of The Raconteurs' Steady, As She Goes. A highlight of the set, it is quickened and slowed several times, extended and punctured by two blistering solos.

Throughout the gig, Jack demonstrates why he is without doubt one of the world's best players. He wails, shreds, plucks and coaxes every possible sound out of his instrument and doesn’t miss a chance to do so.

The encore is eased a touch with Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy and We're Going To Be Friends, which has the cute feel of the final slow number at a school disco with Jack's soft vocals and dimmed lights.

By the final flurry of songs, which include Stripes favourites My Doorbell and the unofficial anthem of Euro 2012 Seven Nation Army, I’ve pretty much run out of superlatives, so don’t even try to describe them. Needless to the say the gig finishes with a bang.

It was a sad day when The White Stripes confirmed they would not be returning in 2010 for those who had never seen them live, but last night’s performance went some way to softening the blow.

Support on the night came from First Aid Kit, the latest band off Sweden’s conveyor belt of cool, though until they speak you could be forgiven for thinking they hail from the American south.

Their brand of country folk was perfectly pitched to set the scene for Jack, and their set of songs from second album A Lion’s Roar was short, sweet and hugely enjoyable. The best way I could describe them would be as a female Fleet Foxes, in that they create beautiful harmonies and outstanding volume for just two sisters.

Friday, 15 June 2012

2012 so far…

I’ve seen many comments on blogs and Twitter recently to say that 2012 hasn’t been a vintage year for music. Now I know these comments come out around this time every year, but I still felt like having a look back at what the first six months of 2012 has had to offer.

The year got off to a good start with The Maccabees’ brilliant album, Given to the Wild. Their expanded ambitions and soaring sounds catapulted their album into the charts and was an immediate contender for end-of-year lists. Chairlift’s Something was also released, containing one of my favourite songs of the year so far.

February saw the release of two mesmerising albums from contrasting solo females, namely Grimes’ Visions and Sharon Van Etten’s Tramp. While worlds apart, both brought critical acclaim and attention to talented individuals released their fourth and third albums respectively.

In April, Jack White’s first solo record since The White Stripes (just kidding Meg) dropped, and it was his best in years. While I was a big fan of The Dead Weather’s first album, it’s great to have Jack back where he belongs, front and centre, axe in hand. His mix of blues, rock and country was a joy from start to finish, and I’m excited to say I’m seeing it live next Friday (22 June).

May saw dreamy soundscapes courtesy of Beach House, Poliça and Sigur Rós to delight and soothe. It also saw a new record from Richard Hawley, who brought a distinctly heavier sound than on his previous solo albums. His distorted psychedelia was unexpected but brilliant none the less.

And while Best Coast’s The Only Place, also released in May, drew some lukewarm reviews, it’s a superbly simple slice of breezy surf pop. Its lack of complexity is intended, and shouldn’t be used as a negative.

Even this week alone has seen exciting new albums released by Friends and Crocodiles, and new songs debuted live by Bat for Lashes.

And that’s just the albums, there have many dozens of brilliant songs from new bands yet to release albums, most of which you can find on my Jams.

With new releases from The xx, Bat for Lashes and hopefully a return to form from Bloc Party to look forward to in coming months, 2012 seems like a pretty good year for music to me.

2012 albums to check out
  • Beach House – Bloom
  • Best Coast – The Only Place
  • Chairlift – Something
  • Crocodiles – Endless Flowers
  • Friends – Manifest!
  • Grimes – Visions
  • Jack White – Blunderbuss
  • Poliça – Give You the Ghost
  • Richard Hawley – Standing at the Sky’s Edge
  • Santigold - Master of My Make Believe
  • Sharon Van Etten – Tramp
  • The Shins –  Port of Morrow
  • Tanlines – Mixed Emotions

Friday, 1 June 2012

Jubilee songs

Enthusiastic about the Jubilee? Thought not. Enthusiastic about a four-day weekend? Thought so. So grab your bunting, your union jack paper plates and your mask of her maj, and enjoy these Jubilee-appropriate songs. They are all right regal affairs, though not all are as positive about our beloved Queen as supermarket adverts would have you believe we all are. I couldn't actually find any like that. Be sure to check out the Mystery Jets vid too, featuring Lizzie herself. Carry on subjects.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

The Horrors & TOY

Going into a gig with high expectations can sometimes prove to be a bad thing, however, when a band produce a towering performance that dwarfs your anticipation by comparison, there can be a certain satisfaction to sit alongside your enjoyment of the gig itself.

The expectation I had for seeing The Horrors live has built massively since the last time I saw them, in a tent at Reading Festival in the heady days of 2007. In the near five years since, the shouty, riotous goth-punks with strange names have evolved into carefully considered, sophisticated shoegaze gods, releasing two albums worthy of modern classic status.

Having finally seen them live again last night at Birmingham’s HMV Institute, I can confirm that, while the band I saw in 2007 and the one that blew me away last night are almost incomparable, that is in no way a bad thing.

And, almost a year on from releasing third album Skying and after touring the globe non-stop for five months in 2011, as well as a jaunt supporting Florence earlier this year, the band could be forgiven for going through the motions on this tour. However, they did anything but. This performance was a clear signal of a band that have honed their craft; technically brilliant and refined but still intense and thrilling. 

Of course having two amazing albums to choose songs from is an excellent foundation for any gig, but like all truly great bands, they took great songs and injected them with added vitality and edge, making them an entirely different prospect live.

The production of their third album took away the scuzz of their earlier work, putting it in Simple Minds territory rather than the My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain sound of Primary Colours, but onstage the scuzz is brought back in full force and smacks you in the chest from the get go. The thumping bass drum, synth line and synchronised strobe lights that begin Mirror’s Image grab you and you’re not let go for an hour and a half. Playing a set entirely from their second and third albums, the quality never drops even for a moment.

And each member of the five piece play their part in delivering a near-perfect set. Each song is built on a consistently exciting rhythm section, courtesy of drummer Joe Spurgeon and bassist Rhys Webb, whose roles are brought to the fore in the live arena. The drums pound and the bass punches, with everything else layered on top.

Tall and dark, Faris is an imposing figure on stage, looming over his mic stand and the audience below. His voice, whether brooding or booming, is distinguishable from all other sounds, filling the air and soaring to the rafters. He is one of the best frontmen British indie currently has to offer without doubt.

When not singing, he still headbangs and throws himself around with abandon, at odds with Rhys Webb who calmly bounces alongside him. They are flanked by guitarist Joshua Hayward and keyboard player Tom Cowan, who are reserved throughout, delicately tempting weird and wonderful sounds from their respective instruments.

That is until half way through 10-minute finale Moving Further Away, when Josh lets loose with a unhinged solo, flinging himself around and creating a frenzy of feedback and distortion The Velvet Underground would be proud of.

Highlights for me would be the anthemic Sea Within A Sea and Still Life ending the first set, the riotous Who Can Say and I Can See Through You shaking the building after the ominous opening and the extended finale, in particular Joshua’s crazy solo.

Support on the night came from TOY, a band born from the ashes of Joe Lean & the Jing Jang Jong in 2010 and not too dissimilar from the band they were supporting. With an endorsement from Rhys Webb and two great singles released so far, I was excited to see what they could bring. Any band with the skill and guts to release a debut single that clocks in at just under 8 minutes is worthy of attention.

And they certainly grabbed their slot by the throat, with 6 songs comprising blistering drums, soaring synths and a wall of fuzzy guitars, the highlight being aforementioned debut single Left Myself Behind.

Largely backlit and hidden behind hair, there are clear comparisons to be made between TOY and The Horrors, and while they are still raw, they played their half an hour set with minimal fuss and maximum intensity, their lengthy soundscapes leaving a lasting impression. Ones to watch for 2012 and beyond.

On a final note, it seemed poignant on reflection that 32 years on from the date of Ian Curtis’ suicide, his influence was stamped all over this gig. Can either of these bands leave a legacy like his? Who can say.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Holiday songs

I’m going on holiday tomorrow, and as it’s only in England, the weather isn’t gonna be great. But it doesn’t matter because I still have music, and these are all songs that either bring the sun with them or remind me of when we used to have summers.

The Drums’ Let’s Go Surfing is such a simple and infectious song, it’s one I can’t help but be cheered by everytime I hear it, and it's essential for a beach holiday. Same goes for Vampire Weekend’s upbeat Holiday. Bringing something different as always, The Pixies’ Holiday Song has a great riff and vintage Black Francis vocals to kickstart any roadtrip, while The Maccabees’ Went Away with its soaring melodies should be the anthem of summer 2012, if we get one. And finally, the title track and lead single from Best Coast’s new album, The Only Place. A sunsoaked love song to California and, though I'm not going to California, where I’m going does have the ocean and the waves too, so it'll do for me.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Great voices

While a great riff or drumbeat may be the first thing to grab the attention in a song, it’s
a voice that will keep me coming back. There is something ethereal about a great voice, something that’s tied to destiny or fate or whatever, but some people are given voices
that are meant to be shared.

From the beautiful and emotive to the powerful and cool, these are my five favourite voices. There are plenty more I love, but on this particular day, these five are the tops.

My number one was easy, Jeff Buckley. Jeff’s voice had an incredible range, from soulful power to a delicate warble; it was both heartbreaking and life affirming. It is indeed a tragedy that he only recorded one album, but what an album, and what a voice.

My next voice was greatly influenced by Buckley, but Thom Yorke has also had the longevity to demonstrate a number of distinctive styles, from the Buckley-esque Bends falsetto through to the lower-register almost rap on Hail To The Thief songs, such as Myxomatosis, and everything in between.

Stevie Nicks’ voice is all about power and distinction; her voice is special because there isn’t anything else like it. Similarly, Lou Reed’s voice brings an ice cool attitude despite
not being a typical voice.

Lastly, Harriet Wheeler of The Sundays has a voice so sweet it’s like having another kind
of sundae poured into your ears. I often listen to her vocal at the end of this track over and over. Need I say more?

Friday, 11 May 2012

Tanlines – Brothers

Another band off Brooklyn’s seemingly never-ending cool band production belt, Tanlines
are Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm, and they fit into the synth pop bracket, as most of my favourite new music does these days. Named after the studio it was recorded in, this song’s crashing waves of synths, pulsing bass and thumping percussion provide a blissful background for the brilliantly downcast vocal. And the video showcases the multi-instrumentalism behind this talented new band. See an interactive version of the video, allowing you to move the camera, here.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Almost Famous

By now it’s pretty obvious that I love music, and I love musicians, but I also love films, and anything that manages to tick all three boxes is right up my street. So here, in the first of a series of posts, I will discuss my favourite music films, some may be about music and some may just feature great music.

As an aspiring music journalist, there is an obvious place to start. Almost Famous.

The story is that of William Miller, a 15-year-old aspiring journo who meets a band at a gig in 1973 and winds up going on tour with them working for Rolling Stone magazine.

I dream of being the kid from Almost Famous on a nightly basis. The film’s Writer and Director, Cameron Crowe, actually was the kid in the film, well, a version of him. In real life he became Rolling Stone’s youngest ever contributor and for his first job went on tour with The Allman Brothers, where the film’s story comes from.

The near-fatal plane crash scene really took place when he was on board a plane with The Who. And he’s now a successful Director. If that isn’t it enough to make anyone insane with jealousy then I don’t know what is.

The film itself is near perfection, capturing the atmosphere of a time when rock music was truly exciting, and giving a great, albeit exaggerated, view of how music journalism was, which, sadly, is quite different to how it is now, as Laura Snapes referenced in her interview last year. It also has one of my favourite ever quotes about being an obsessive music fan.

“They don't even know what it is to be a fan. Y'know? To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts.”

The performances are memorable, the music is obviously great, and the writing is funny and poignant. The Tiny Dancer sing-along and plane crash scenes in particular are some of my favourite ever film moments.

It also has serious messages about idols and hero worship, something we are all often guilty of when it comes to music.

As a film about my passion, music journalism, it is unrivalled. And visions of my own Tiny Dancer sing-along with a ragtag bunch on a tour bus driving across the American mid-west get me through most days, though I like to imagine it’s Jack White, Alison Mosshart, Win Butler, Laura Marling, Grimes and a surprisingly chipper Thom Yorke singing along with me. It could happen.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Craft Spells – Your Tomb

This perfectly short slice of retro indie pop comes from California four-piece Craft Spells. The entwining twinkly synths and lo-fi guitars contrasting with the brilliantly unassuming and distant vocals create a sound that I find compelling. It has a similar 80s feeling that bands such as The Drums, Wild Nothing and Crystal Stilts have been channelling to great success. From the album Idle Labour, released this time last year, I may have missed the boat somewhat, but it's better late than never.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Short songs

This list is really a catch 22 situation. These songs are all brilliantly short and sweet, so I often wish they were longer, but is their greatness tied to their length? Would the spark be gone if they were a more standard length? Would they become just another song that starts well and loses its way? We will never know, but one can dream.

A short song has to create a lasting impression, and the best way is to burst out of the blocks and go for the jugular, maintain that intensity and generally be loud, energetic and riotous. Burn hot and fast and end rudely and abruptly. So, we’ve got a title track from The Vines that kickstarted one of the best albums of the noughties, some sweary punk from Be Your Own Pet, a noisy effort from The Kills, a great blast of surf pop from Beast Coast, and of course one from THE band for short songs, The Ramones.

Friday, 27 April 2012

The Smiths reunion

We want the one we can’t have

Yesterday (26 April) saw fresh speculation that The Smiths had cast aside their famous differences and were set to reform for a tour later this year. It was quickly quashed by Johnny Marr and Mike Joyce, who are probably more reliable sources on the matter than
the crappy website that ran the original story.

Despite the story originating from a clearly BS article, which contained no evidence, sources or even information really, this latest round of rumours were still enough to be picked up by all the obvious names, NME, Q, Pitchfork, The Times etc. before the same sites posted follow ups dismissing the rumours.

It led to The Smiths trending on Twitter and the usual reactions to these now all too
familiar rumours. Many were horrified, many were hopeful, most were sarcastic.

It is however indicative of our interest in reformations and reunions that woolly at best speculation can still make an impact online. It’s become simply a quick and easy way to stir the pot and gain a fair few hits, both by the original website and the subsequent big boys. And yet we still bite.

I love The Smiths and I love the fact they are one of an ever-decreasing number of bands that refuse to reform. I hope they don’t. Plus, Morrissey walked off stage ten minutes into the gig the only time I’ve been to see him, so I can never take a tour announcement from him completely seriously.

I think there is a definite element of wanting what you can’t have in reunions, which is
what makes The Smiths perhaps the last big name. We know they won't and that makes us want it more. But how many bands are better the second time round? Actually manage to release new material? Most of the people who want this reunion probably wouldn’t even
get to experience it, as was the case with The Stone Roses reunion this summer.

I have seen a few reformed bands though, and so I know first-hand that it’s a mixed bag. 
It depends on what sort of band they were, when they split, why they split, the reason for reuniting and a whole load of other factors.

I saw Smashing Pumpkins (well, Billy and Jimmy before even Jimmy left) at Reading
in ’07, when they were good, and on an arena tour the following year, when they ruined everything. Billy reformed because the Smashing Pumpkins name drew a bigger crowd
than he could, but it soon became just another solo ego trip.

I saw The Libertines, also at Reading, in ‘10, who, while only doing two performances in total, were excellent. They made it through the set without fighting each other and the songs sounded great live for those of us who had missed out first time around. I’d say it
was a success but it didn’t do a lot for their legacy or lead to anything else so was it worth all the fuss?

I also saw Rage Against The Machine, again at Reading, in ’08 and it was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. They returned with renewed energy and had lost none of their relevance or potency. They found new targets and reached a new generation. A success but again it hasn’t really gone anywhere since.

Could the same be said of The Smiths? Would they have an impact beyond their own bank balances? Obviously, there are arguments for and against.

"I would rather eat my own testicles than reform The Smiths, and that's saying something for a vegetarian," Morrissey, 2006.

The backdrop of an unpopular conservative government and a country in recession makes it sound almost appropriate, but aren’t protest songs for angry young men? Plus isn’t there something ironic about a band reforming and earning millions of pounds while playing anti-establishment songs? I've seen Dylan live and frankly, though I still love him, wish I hadn't. I'm sure plenty of Sex Pistols fans feel the same after their several reunions.

Morrissey told Uncut in 2006, "I would rather eat my own testicles than reform The Smiths, and that's saying something for a vegetarian." Do we want a Morrissey that goes back on that? While I don’t agree with a lot of what he says, that's who he is and I don't want to change that.

While I don't blame anyone for taking the money, wouldn’t it really tarnish The Smiths' legacy and go against what they stood for? We want the one we can’t have, but be
careful what you wish for.

I’m happy with their back catalogue the way it is. I think they are right not to reform and many agree, including the four most important people. So, as Q Magazine appropriately tweeted, ‘Thanks for playing ‘The Smiths aren’t reuniting game’ we’ll see you next time’.