Montag, April 06, 2009

free music

instead of a writing a review of a popular band with a music company deal, this time I want to direct you to the opposite end of the musical spectrum: free music. creative commons (cc) music.

if you are familiar with the concept of creative commons, you may know that it is described as "free - as in free speech, not as in free beer."

a few days ago a website called the free music archive has been launched that distributes music produced under creative commons licenses. these licenses act as an alternative to copyright. as an artist, you can publish your art from one of a selection of cc licenses to make sure consumers can do more with it than simply consume it. the most restrictive of the cc licenses allows anyone to redistribute the work. this is exactly what is supposed to happen on the free music archive.
but a lot of artists use licenses that are even less restrictive. some allow you derivative works, like remixing or using the music as a background track for your own film. on the free music archive, you can browse the music by the licenses they have been published under, which lets you know exactly what you can do with the song.

if you need music for any project you are involved with, the free music archive probably is the easiest way to find it. and dont think it is just cheesy keyboard music. I simply clicked on the pop button and had a look at the songs available on the first page that came up - I already found some artists names I am familiar with. and dont forget: if the license allows it, you dont have to use the whole song. you can just use a drum intro or an a capella part.

these license things may sound strange when youu read about them for the first time. you may even wonder why they chose the free in the name. well, thats because this time, it does not only mean free speech. it also means free beer.

now go and explore it! here is the link

Mittwoch, Februar 18, 2009

gigomania 2009

gigomania 2009 has started, I'm having a little break after the first round of gigs. It's time to reconsider and review.

The first one in a long row was Roisin Murphy, seen at Huxley's, Berlin on 13th November 2008. If you've seen her solo or in the old Moloko days, you may know: Roisin is a tiger on stage. she is the only artist I know who does not need a support act to heat up the crowd from the very first moment. she is the only one if seen in years who takes stagediving seriously. And I must admit, for me it was the first time I did not see a gig, but a show - meaning choreography, costumes and video instalments. All of which Roisin would not actually need, because she herself was the most interesting thing to watch, not her clothes and hats.

support act: none

audience: approx. 1000. gay fashionistas (almost exclusively) and lesbians

visuals: video art, costumes, two background singern + a band

performance: singing so incredibly fine that for parts of the gig I was not sure if this was playback or not

movements: from revised dances to stagediving, plus a tiny assistens running up and down the stage to catch the items roisin would have to trough around during her performance

venue: looks like an old theatre, wooden floor on the second made me feel uncomfortable about solidity, drinks price average to high

highlight: I touched Roisin.

next on my list was Oasis, who played the Arena Berlin on Sunday, 18th January 2009. I must admit there is not much to write about. The whole thing was a disappointment for me. I had bought the tickets months before, so I went, even though I had a fever. Now a gig is a good gig if I can dance or jump around, I need interaction, with the band or the crowd and I need to somehow vent my feelings by screaming or singing along. What I do not need is to stand in a corner, high on medicine, unable to move and sipping orange juice.
What happened on that gig? apparently, Liam Gallagher went off stage in the middle of I'm outta time because he could not sing the high notes, apparently Noel Gallagher did barely move at all, apparently they played The Masterplan (which I love) and so on, but I would not swear on that, because I do only vaguely remember.

support act: The Twisted Wheel, who played a smaller (much smaller) gig at the privatclub the day before. That was probably great, because they are a good band, but at the Arena nobody really paid attention.

audience: approx. 5000. From ordinary guys with bad boring haircuts to over-dressed britpop guys with even worse haircuts to young girls with too tight tops to girlfriends who just tagged along.

visuals: four screens only about half of the audience could see because the venue was to large and, and which were not really used to capture what was going on on stage.

performance: a couple of old hits + the good new songs, a high-profile band and a nervous singer

movements: Noel - none, Liam - too much

venue: so large it felt uncomfortable - how can the crowd feel united in the songs when it is that big. in fact it was so big I did not even hear the "so sally could wait"-chants at my end of the venue.

highlight: 5000 people - and Fran Healy walking right past me.

Not much more than a week later I felt way better and had the kind of a gig I am looking for. Little Man Tate played a show at the Magnet Club, Berlin on Monday, 26th January 2009. I was a bit uncertain about how the audience would receive them, because they are such an apparently British band. I never know if this is maybe misunderstood by the Germans. Indeed, the people who made the party were a couple of British fans in the first row. They were eager to shout and interact with the band, so I just mixed with them and danced and sang along.
They played a couple of new songs which I had not heard before. So it took a while until the hits were played, but the new stuff is pretty nice, too. Apart from that, LMT must be one of the nicest bands ever, because they encouraged the whole audience to come and chat with them after the gig and go have a drink with them. They are very much the kind of lads you'd like to be friends with.

support act: I was told it was a terrible Berlin band, but i got no clue because i spent the time drinking beer in a pub near the venue.

audience: approx. 50. the Brits in the first three rows, behind them a mixed crowd, from young girls to old farts.

visuals: all band members wore black leather shoes. you can't miss the little details when there is no light show going on.

performance: Jon Windle kept on insisting his voice was coarse, but really he sang quite well!

movements: me - a lot!

venue: very small, intimate, laid back on a Monday evening

highlights: Fran Healy is a friend of the band and was there. 50 people, but this time I did not see him. lesson learned.

Read the next gig date and calculate why this post is called gigomania - it was only Saturday that I went out again. A lovely bunch of people from Manchester called The Whip performed at Knaack Klub, Berlin on Saturday, 31st January 2009. The last time the played Berlin was about a year ago, and back then, there was virtually no one there. But over the last year, they built up quite a fan base in Germany and I 've read a few articles about them in music mags. The Whip are rising and their time will come.

support act: I think they were the support, or at least the first band in a row of two.

audience: approx. 200. party people.

performance: good singing, good drumming

movements: They really tried this "clap along" thing. It only worked sometimes. The audience was greatin the end but a bit shy at the beginning.

venue: it's got a bar and a pedestal at the side so everyone can see. but there is a pillar in front of the stage.

highlights: Fee drumming and drinking beer at the same time.

The last one so far is Travis. After selling out the Kesselhaus in no time at all, their gig on Friday, 6th February was relocated to the Huxley's, which they eventually sold out, too. We keep in mind: singer moves to Berlin + is married to a German + new record released + he appears in every magazine and radio show talking about berlin = Berlin goes all crazy about him.
Seeing Travis live has been on my list for a long time. When they came back, I felt 16 again, and I was surprised their new songs could touch me as much as the old ones did back then. However, at the gig I realised I did not want to share that with the audience. I mean the band was great. And nice. And they made a good show for the masses. But I did not feel like mass pogo, especially not if you have to explain what pogo is first. So if you got the chance, go and see Travis, they are good. But not for me on that day.

support act: Some boring band who tried to look and sound indie

audience: approx. 1000. secretaries with their boyfriends, who usually never go to gigs , snuggling throughout the show

performance: They know how to play their instruments!

movements: Singer: lots of jumping, bass player: lots of posing, guitar player: lots of bending

venue: The toilet attendant does want you money, but you can get free candy from her, too!

highlights: Fran Healy, and everyone saw him!

Mittwoch, Juli 30, 2008

Mystery Jets: Two Doors Down

such a brilliant 80s parody I am a bit worried it's actually not a parody:

Mittwoch, Juli 02, 2008

some of the scariest...

... so-called artists were found on this myspace page today.
There's no need telling you what page this is, but the friends list is extraordinary, don't you agree? It comprises a variety of "artists", but somehow they all seem to be clones. Here are the white people making black music for white people, and the black people performing the white people's black music for white people. Here are white people claiming to be just like black people, and the whites love it. It is all artificial, synthetic, fake, and I don't even mean the imposters only.

On the other hand, I bet you can hum a tune for nearly every one of these pictures and wont get it our of your head for hours.

It's a sad artificial white imposter world of music..

Freitag, April 18, 2008

The Whip @ Magnet, Berlin

The Whip
are a four-piece electro band from Manchester, and one of the sweet memories of my time in the city. I saw them live there about a year ago, at a time when in all of Germany, no one had heard of them yet. Now they are the next big thing (if you wanna call it that way) and you can hear them on the radio and read about them in music mags. With their debut album X Marks Destination released very recently, it was time for them to tour the Continent for the first time ever. I very much looked forward to seeing them, as nostalgic feelings for my time in Manchester keep growing and growing and I think the music is fucking awesome.

I recently started to learn playing the drums and one of the things I learned to play is the thrilling beat of their single Trash. It sounds very simple, but is hard to play because you have to be absolutely exact. I mean, everything has to be in sync, even more than with any other drum pattern I have worked on so far. I decided to make a little research project out of the gig. I wanted to watch the drummer Fiona as much as possible, to learn something from her. It looks like what she does is hard work. She does not seem to stop playing the bass drum at all, and it is all very straight-forward, energetic, like a computer. In fact, she must be a human drum machine!

However, for the first few songs I was not concentrating on watching her drumming at all. Instead, I was dancing wildy, jumping up and down and enjoying the music just as the rest of the audience did (they were not at all as lame and hesitating as a berlin crowd in front of an unknown band is usually). A few years ago I was listening to electronin music extensively and I had thought it was time to go out dancing to electronic music again soon. However, I despise the typically electronic dj sets you usally get, because I know there will always be music I think is absolutely shit, silly and not worth dancing to. Not with The Whip! I was enjoying every single minute, every single beat - the ones I watched carefully and the ones I moved my body to.

The gig was over with no encore after 45 minutes, but what else can a band do than play their reportoire, which naturally isn't that extensive after they've just released one single album. I bought the cd afterwards from their very nice bass player Nathan, and so should you! It was a marvellous evening.

Dienstag, April 08, 2008

Mike Long

Who's that boy? That you dream of?

The one with the exquisite taste in music? Who knows good tunes from original sixties band The Creation to eighties power punk X-Ray Spex to the very recent Robyn?

never heard of any of these? who's this guy who can also give you sixties Beatles, eighties Michael Jackson or rather contemporary The Knife?

Who is this guy who appreciates a sweet soul ballad just as much as a laid-back reggae rhythm or an old funk classic? Punk is on his list just as much as Kraut music or, of course, cock rock - I mean satire.

Who's the guy dancing to each of this classic tunes, with a uniqueness that makes any average white-guys-can't-dance white guy have a little crush on him.

Who he is? He's Mike Long. He's gonna be a star!

Mittwoch, März 19, 2008

Flight Of The Conchords

Here's to funny things happening in music recently. Flight Of The Conchords is a musical comedy duo from New Zealand and they got their own tv show, too! But I'll spare you (or rather me) reciting biographical details and trivia I could only copy from other websites (obligatory link #1: the homepage; obligatory link #2: wikipedia; obligatory link #3: myspace). and give you something to see first and then my thoughts afterwards.

If You're into it

Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros

Inner City Pressure

Business Time

Inner City Pressure is not bad, eh? You can tell it is a total rip off of The Pet Shop Boys, but yet it is such a unique song. The sound is so much the same but they did not just add different lyrics to a familiar melody.

What fascinates me about Flight Of The Conchords is that at first I thought how clever they were not forming an ordinary band, but making a comedy thing out of it. That way they are not limited to one style of music and they do not have fixed roles (like who plays what instrument etc.). Although their live shows are with acoustic guitars only (at least as far as I have seen on youtube), they can play all sorts of music in the show - quoting music history from ragga to hiphop to french pop to electronic music to folk, from David Bowie to Pet Shop Boys to Sisqo and so on. Then I wondered whether this meant they weren't so clever at all, because basically when you use a musical style and just copy it for your own song, then there is a lot of work that has been done for you already. But if you listened to the songs closely, you should object now - of course. What makes each song remarkable different from any music it was inspired by is how the two guys use lyrics to comment on their inspiration, to ironically over-emphasice and ridicule what was at no point meant to be funny by the original artists - hence the comedy aspect.

"you know you're not in high finance
considering second-hand underpants"

is what the Pet Shop Boys would never have added to their description of the lifes of young rebelious west end boys.

Same goes for rapping the obligatory hate rhyme:

"Other rappers dis me
Say my rhymes are sissy.
Why? Why? Why?
Why exactly?
What? Why?
Be more constructive with your feedback, please. Why?"

and If You're Into It is just thoughts of a boy - a boy nobody ever told when to stop!

"If you want me to
I could hang 'round with you
If I only knew
That's what you're into.
You and him
Him and you
If that's what
You're into
Him hanging 'round
Around you
You're hanging 'round
Yeah, you're there too.


Then on our next date
Well, you could bring your roommate
I don't know if Stu is keen to
But if you want we could double-team you
How about you
And two dudes?
Him, you and Stu
In the nude
Being lewd with two dudes with food
Well, that's if Stu's into it, too"

It's soo well done how all the sounds of the vowels correspond with each other.
This is very you can see how much lyrics with music and poetry have in common - the sound has to project the meaning. The way they do it shows they are not only good lyricists, but also fantastic musician. This is very clever, musically and lyrically!

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