Feb 232016
 

I have a theory, and please do humour me with this one… There’s something special about 3 and 5 when it comes to tracks on an album. For years I’ve noticed that tracks 3 and 5 of most albums are usually two of the best songs on an album and often track 3 is usually released as a single. This is something I’ve noticed lots of times BUT have never actually put to any test so I’m going to use my Collectorz Music Collector software again (as seen in R is for… Random) to pick out a bunch of random albums to test my theory. Let’s see if I’ve been deluding myself for years…

“Frozen (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” – Various Artists
Track 3: “For the First Time in Forever”
Track 5: “Let It Go”
Comments: Possibly not the greatest start to test my theory but track 5 was clearly the big hit from here.

“I’m Not Dead” – P!nk
Track 3: “Long Way To Happy”
Track 5: “Dear Mr. President”
Comments: Good songs but clearly disproves my theory.

“Regular Urban Survivors” – Terrorvision
Track 3: “Perseverence”
Track 5: “Hide The Dead Girl”
Comments: Yes! Track 3 was a single and 5 was a good song – although not the best.

“¡uno!” – Green Day
Track 3: “Carpe Diem”
Track 5: “Kill The DJ”
Comments: Track 5 was OK, but again another dis-proof…

“Let The Dominoes Fall” – Rancid
Track 3: “Up To No Good”
Track 5: “Disconnected”
Comments: Ooh, track 3 was released as a video (which is almost a single)!

“Hooray For Boobies” – The Bloodhound Gang
Track 3: “Mama’s Boy”
Track 5: “Mope”
Comments: My theory sucks…

“All Our Kings Are Dead” – Young Guns
Track 3: “Meter & Verse”
Track 5: “Weight Of The World”
Comments: Yeah, OK, I need to stop now.

 

My theory clearly sucks although I CAN think of a few albums where it holds true:

“Insomniac” – Green Day
Track 3: “Stuck With Me”
Track 5: “No Pride”
Comments: Both awesome tracks and track 3 was a single.

“Tragic Kingdom” – No Doubt
Track 3: “Just A Girl”
Track 5: “Different People”
Comments: Good tracks and 3 was a single.

“Life’s Not Out To Get You” – Neck Deep
Track 3: “Can’t Kick Up The Roots”
Track 5: “Gold Steps”
Comments: Track 3 was a single!

 

So, the take home point of this ridiculous theory is that you can make any theory work when you pick and choose your own data set…

May 312015
 

Back in 1995 I listened to American punk rock and American punk rock alone. Occasionally there’d be a bit of metal in there from the likes of Metallica, Megadeth or Machine Head (interesting – they all begin with ‘M’). But in general I listened to American punk rock. I was a horribly obnoxious and opinionated bastard of a teenager and simply refused to take any advice from anyone regarding most things. So when my ‘friends’ at school suggested I have a listen to ‘The Holy Bible’ by Manic Street Preachers I just refused to – because, you guessed it, it wasn’t American punk rock; why on earth would I listen to some sheep-shagging band when I could listen to the likes of Rancid or NOFX instead?

Nowadays, I’ve grown up and, while still quite opinionated, I’m not as obnoxious or narrow-minded. Note the presence of the word ‘as‘ 😉 A good friend of mine was talking about Manic Street Preachers a few weeks ago and mentioned The Holy Bible as being one of their best albums and I thought maybe I should listen to that one day… Then, as I was browsing through the £1.99 offers on Google Play Music, I spotted the 20th anniversary remastered edition for, perhaps unsurprisingly, £1.99. So I bought it. What’s the worst that could happen at that price?

holybible

Do you know what? I shouted at my 15 year old self. Metaphorically, not literally… It’s actually a cracking album and I was genuinely surprised – it’s just a shame I’m 21 years too late… There’s not a single song on it that I skip through and, while there are a few slower songs on it, most of them are actually what my 15 year old idiot self would have classed as being ‘quite punky’. There we have it, I used to be an idiot and now I’ve grown up into not quite as much of an idiot! Make the most of it, it’s not often I will admit I was wrong 😉

So, S is for being surprised at how good an album was that I rejected solely for the fact it wasn’t American punk rock.

May 052015
 

I’m going back to a straight forward music post this time. I considered writing about the bands Rancid or the Ramones but thought that’d be too obvious. I considered discussing ‘rock’ as a genre and all its many and varied sub-genres but decided that could end up taking months. I considered writing about the NOFX album ‘Ribbed’ but remembered it’s one of my least favourite of theirs. I considered creating a rhapsody (“An instrumental composition of irregular form often incorporating improvisation”) but decided I’m not talented enough for something like that and, anyway, that would have been a bit too random…

Random! That’s it! I then decided I would pick 5 random albums from my collection and write a short bit about them. Because ‘random’ begins with an ‘R’ (in case you hadn’t spotted that…).

So I fired up my Music Collector software and hit CTRL+R 5 times to pick 5 random albums to write about. I have no idea how this is going to turn out…

 

“Everything Is Wrong” – Moby
1995

I’m quite glad this was the first random album that was given! Back in ‘B is for… Basket‘ I admitted to having once loved dance music and, oh, how things have changed! ‘Everything Is Wrong’ is a bit of a mixture of genres with a few rock tracks, a few instrumentals and a few dance songs. Considering the title, it’s actually quite a joyful album too and it’s one of the few ‘dance’-style albums I can still listen to without having to turn it off after a few seconds… I think my affinity to this album is a mixture of the music itself and the fact that 1995 was when my musical tastes were being honed and it just brings back some interesting memories.

 

“For The Glory” – The O.C. Supertones
2012

The O.C. Supertones are a Christian ska-punk band from Orange County, California. They disbanded at the end of 2005 after 15 years of service. In 2012 they announced they were getting back together to record a new album which would be funded via Kickstarter. As one of my favourite bands I was quite excited about this and promptly backed their campaign. It reached the target and got recorded so I was a little bit excited to say the least! I got a digital download a few weeks before release while I waited for the physical CD to arrive. It’s a great album – towards the end of their career they had more of a rock sound with less ska but ‘For The Glory’ was very ska-based. I have to say, though, that when the CD arrived I was a little bit annoyed. It was actually released through BEC Recordings (their old record label) – so people like me funded it all but then the record label made the money from it… It sort of went against the whole point of crowd-funding in my opinion… Still, it’s a good album!

 

“Let The Dominoes Fall” – Rancid
2009

Rancid have been a big part of my musical history although it has to be said that this isn’t one of their best albums. It’s a far more poppier sound than their previous albums but still has a definite punk-rock feel to it. Before it’s release I watched a lot of ‘making of’ webisodes about it and I think that explains the sound. All the songs were written and rehearsed on acoustic guitars before being finalised and recorded with the usual distortion and effects. This makes quite a big difference to the sound of the songs, they just don’t sound as aggressive… I did like how they included a CD with acoustic versions of most of the songs. These sound really good though, probably because they were written like that initially. It’s a decent album, but if you like your punk to be more aggressive then go back a few albums and maybe give this one a miss.

 

“We’re Outta Here” – Ramones
1997

This album is a live recording of their 2,263rd concert – it was also their last. It’s a great set with all the songs you’d expect but with the added bonus of some great special guests. Former bassist Dee Dee Ramone joins them on one song and Tim Armstrong & Lars Frederiksen (from Rancid) sing and play on 3 songs. Other special guests include Lemmy (Motorhead), Chris Cornell & Ben Shepherd (Soundgarden) and Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam). It also features Mini-MaFt’s favourite: ‘Spider-Man’ :D. After three: 1, 2, 3 – Hey Ho, Let’s Go!

 

“A Vs. Monkey Kong” – A
1999

It was Jim (bassist for SM3) who first got me listening to the band A. He played me a selection of their songs, which I really quite liked. However, like the Foo Fighters, they have some great songs but no great albums… ‘A Vs. Monkey Kong’ is no different – there are some great songs on here such as ‘Monkey Kong’, ‘Old Folks’ and ‘I Love Lake Tahoe’ – but other than those, it’s all a bit meh. Having said that, I’ve seen them live a few times (supporting The Offspring (2001), Distortion Festival (2002), supporting Bowling For Soup (2011)) and they’ve been great – mainly because they play a ‘best of’ set. So the few good songs from each album does make a great gig. So, good songs but poor album. Having said that, ‘I Love Lake Tahoe’ will always remind me of the laugh me, Scru’ and Jim would have every Thursday night at The Sugarhouse in Lancaster 😀

 Posted by at 6:22 pm
May 052015
 

11 months ago I started a theme of blog posts for the “A-Z of Music” as a way to get me back into regular blogging. The initial plan was to just write about a different artist or album…

Oh sod it, you know what? Read my last post: Q is for… Questioning – there’s no point in me explaining it all again!

I’ve questioned myself a few times about if it’s appropriate to post what I’ve ended up writing – when your head’s a bit all over the place then the stream of conciousness becomes a rather large, random delta of conciousness! Some things are just too personal and I don’t think they will ever be public. These have been consigned to my private memoirs, for my eyes only.

I never made this public but at the time, my marriage had been coming to an end (it had been for some time actually) and I ended up using these posts as a form of therapy – alongside a tonne of private stuff that will stay private. It did it’s job and the posts just kinda stopped…

Almost a year on, I’m in a much better place emotionally and mentally and it’s time to carry on with the A-Z posts… I just wanted to explain the long gap. Tonight I’ll carry on with the ‘R’ post…

So, QR (a made-up letter that comes between Q and R) is for explaining why it’s taken me so long to carry on with my A-Z of Music.

 Posted by at 11:29 am
Jul 092014
 

This post might not end up particularly musical but it is, at least, about my ‘A-Z of Music‘ series. About 3 weeks ago I decided to get back into blogging and decided that an A to Z of musical posts would give me a common theme to ease me back in gently. My initial plan was to go through the alphabet and simply talk about songs, albums or artists that I liked. The first few posts did, pretty much, follow this initial plan.

Source: Wrong Hands

Source: Wrong Hands

When I write I often go off on a bit of a tangent; one of my first blogs was described as being “an ongoing stream of consciousness” in a review. I think for these A-Z posts I’ve managed to stay quite focused within each post, but the overall feel of the posts has become somewhat tangential. What were supposed to be simple posts about music that I like have become a mixture of reminiscing posts and quite deep, personal outpourings.

The times where there has been a longer gap between posts can usually be explained by the fact I shelved and rewrote quite a number of them. I don’t know if you sense the personal depth of some of these posts but to me, they have been difficult to write and have often involved a lot of soul-searching. I’ve mentioned previously that I usually keep myself to myself and how my lyrics are often my voice – I suppose now I could say the same for this blog being my voice.

I’ve questioned myself a few times about if it’s appropriate to post what I’ve ended up writing – when your head’s a bit all over the place then the stream of conciousness becomes a rather large, random delta of conciousness! Some things are just too personal and I don’t think they will ever be public. These have been consigned to my private memoirs, for my eyes only.

So even though my initial plan for this series of blog posts has changed, I’m still glad I’ve come so far with it. Music is a large part of my life, perhaps larger than I’d realised before taking on this project. It has invoked so many emotions and been a useful form of therapy for me – particularly those posts that didn’t get published.

Maybe one day I’ll share them. Or maybe I’ll come back to them and decide that they served their purpose when they were written and I don’t need to dwell on the past. Who knows…?

Through every trial
My soul will sing
No turning back
I’ve been set free
“Christ Is Enough” – Hillsong

So, Q is for questioning how much of my musical journey I’ll be making public.

 Posted by at 12:33 am
Jul 082014
 

Generally I’m a relatively shy, quiet person and I’ll (usually) keep myself to myself. But stick a guitar and microphone in front of me and that shyness gets blown out the window. Over the years I’ve played in a number of bands and groups, joined in at countless jam nights, entertained kids at nursery and parent/toddler groups and had many drunken laughs doing bad karaoke. Random fact: my karaoke song of choice was usually ‘Walking on Sunshine’ – but only if they had a pitchshifter and could lower it 2 semi-tones from A to G; otherwise I just couldn’t get that high.

Regardless of where I am or what I’m playing there’s something I love about playing live music. I’ve already mentioned how I love hearing live music in my ‘K is for… Kicking‘ post and that love and passion extends to playing live too. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is, perhaps it’s the freedom I feel from doing something that makes other people happy or, maybe more importantly (albeit selfish?) making me happy. Or perhaps it’s that my guitar is a shield, and whether I’m on stage strumming away like a lunatic and yelling out some garbled lyrics or I’m warbling nursery rhymes gently to a bunch of pre-schoolers, I feel safe. Like nothing can touch me regardless of how I’m feeling.

image

It’s probably both, if I’m honest. In doing these A-Z posts, and in particular the ‘I is for… Is‘, I have spent a lot of time looking at my song-writing and the events surrounding their lyrical content and musical style. I find it far easier to express my feelings through songs than I do just in talking normally – like I said, I’m actually pretty shy and quiet most of the time. That’s the ‘freedom’ part – I can make myself happy by emptying my head into song lyrics; a permanent record for that moment in my life, a sporadic musical diary. Another part of the freedom is that if I change my mind about a song’s lyrical content then, as an artist, I can just pretend it was all from a stranger’s perspective and not my own personal experience. I don’t think I’ve ever done that though. In fact, I’m 100% certain and have always stuck by my lyrics/life – warts and all.

The ‘safety’ part is probably more difficult to put into writing. But I’ll try anyway. In ‘G is for… Gift‘ I mentioned how I use music to lift my spirits and get me through difficult times. The same goes for playing. When I play my guitar and sing it can be an escape from reality – which itself is only temporary. But if I play the right song, one of my own or maybe a worship song, then it becomes my shield and whatever I’m going through at that moment often just becomes a smaller issue, particularly in the grand scheme of things. Not always, but often.

Music is full of emotion. And my emotions lead me to play music.

So, P is for ‘playing music’.

 Posted by at 6:19 pm
Jul 042014
 

The Offspring have been a staple part of my musical diet for nearly 2 decades. They’re a band that have changed enough that they don’t get boring but not so much that you don’t recognise them anymore.

I’ve followed them through their steady rise in popularity, from smaller venues to playing sold out arena shows in front of 15,000 people. This was around 1999 with their number 2 song ‘Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)’ throwing them into the public eye. Random fact: they were pipped to the number 1 spot that week by Terrorvision’s ‘Tequila’.

Unlike their counter parts Green Day, The Offspring never stayed as a stadium band and, while they are still making awesome music, they play to much smaller crowds. And I like the fact they’ve continued doing what they love even when their popularity rapidly decreased.

image

Although their official name is ‘The Offspring’, their 1994 album, Smash, was branded without the definite article, just ‘Offspring’ – I’ve never found out why…

So O is for ‘Offspring’ with their album ‘Smash’

 Posted by at 6:05 pm
Jul 032014
 

I never got to see Nirvana before Kurt blew his brains out just before my 14th birthday. In fact I only started to listen to them a few months before that fateful day. But their seminal album, ‘Nevermind’, is one that I still listen to on a regular basis.

image

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what gives it such longevity, there are probably a lot of better albums out there too. I suppose part of it is the fact there will never be any more music from Nirvana – OK, we had that random track back in 2002, but I mean a full album.

I always loved the rawness of Kurt’s vocals, he had such a naturally gravelly voice and could switch so easily from gentle lullaby to full-on yelling. Even on stage his range was impressive. From what I understand he was a really humble man too. When Nirvana invited The Buzzcocks to tour with them they regularly swapped places so Nirvana would open the set and let The Buzzcocks headline.

But back to ‘Nevermind’… There’s a good range of songs on there; the punky ‘Breed’ and ‘Territorial Pissings’, the chart-friendly rock of ‘Come As You Are’ and ‘Lithium’ and the quieter ‘Polly’ and ‘Something In The Way’.

It’s a timeless album. Even after 23 years it sounds really fresh and alive with emotion. It’s like a great friend – I might not see it for a while, but when we’re back together it’s like nothing ever changed.

So, N is for ‘Nevermind’ by Nirvana.

 Posted by at 6:54 pm
Jul 012014
 

Love it or hate it, Facebook is here to stay. Well, it is for now at least! They recently hit the news with their emotional manipulation experiments but that’s not what this post is about, well, not quite anyway. When you post a status you have the option of saying how you’re feeling:

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 13.12.46

So I decided for ‘M’ I will use the first 25 Facebook emotions and give the name of a song that I would play to match the mood/emotion. It might be the style of music or the lyrics that form the link, you’ll have to work it out for yourself (or just ask me…). Here we go:

Happy
“Just A Girl” – No Doubt

Excited
“Heard That Sound”- MxPx

Sad
“You’re Dead” – Alkaline Trio

Tired
“I Miss You” – Blink 182

Annoyed
“Playing God” – Paramore

Loved
“You Are My King (Amazing Love)” – Newsboys

Wonderful
“Every Time You Touch Me” – Moby

Blessed
“Fall Back Down” – Rancid

Great
“Something In The World Today” – Rancid

Meh
“Nowhere” – Therapy?

Sick
“Caffeine Bomb” – The Wildhearts

Bored
“Longview” – Green Day

Determined
“You Are My All In All” – The Insyderz

Angry
“Surfacing” – Slipknot

Sleepy
“Baker Street” – Gerry Rafferty

Awesome
“Let Us Hear Your Voice” – Pennywise

Amused
“The Death of Barry The Roofer With Vertigo” – The Toy Dolls

Hopeful
“The Impression That I Get” – The Mighty Might Bosstones

Irritated
“Just Breathe” – Demon Hunter

Confused
“Days Go By” – The Offspring

Proud
“Just A Man” – The O.C. Supertones

Down
“The Ballad” – Millencolin

Special
“This Is Our God” – Hillsong

Relaxed
“Kai Rohan” – Dave Brons

Depressed
“The Hero Dies In This One” – The Ataris

So, M is for “My Songs” which, if I did this again next week, would probably be totally different!

 Posted by at 6:20 pm
Jun 302014
 

Following on from my last post about live music, here’s a list of all the bands I’ve seen live. It’s taken a while and a lot of remembering but I think this is pretty exhaustive. Although I have a feeling I’ve missed a few from festivals or support bands…

Davey Havoc (A.F.I.) - Leeds Festival 2009

Davey Havoc (A.F.I.) – Leeds Festival 2009

So, here’s a list of the bands I’ve seen live:

3 Storeys High
4ft Fingers
999
A
A Man Down
Adicts, The
A.F.I.
Amen
…And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead
Anti Nowhere League
Apartment 26
Art’s Got A Gun
Big D & The Kids Table
Blink 182
Bloc Party
B.O.B.
Bombshell Rocks
Bouncing Souls
Bowling For Soup
Brigade
Broadway’s Not Ready
Business, The
Butterfinger
Caffeine
Capdown
Captain Everything
Cay
Cephas
Chas & Dave
Chewy
Chucky NoStars
Clutch
co.uk
D:Generation
Damned, The
Daphne and Celeste
Darkness, The
Dead Pets, The
Delirious?
Demon Hunter
Dickies, The
Dillinger Escape Plan, The
Dropkick Murphy’s
Dude Fish
Dum Dums
Electric Six
empirenation
English Dogs
Face to Face
Feable Weiner
Feds, The
Feeder
Fenix TX
Fight, The
Fightstar
Finch
Fineapple
Fire Fly
Five Knuckle
fivemiledrive
Flatliners, The
Foo Fighters
Free For All
Fun
Gallows
Gaslight Anthem, The
Gen
Good Charlotte
Good Riddance
Graveltrapp
Green Day
Guttermouth
HedPE
Hoggboy
Human Targets, The
Hundred Reasons
I Am The Avalanche
Icarus
Idlewild
Iggy Pop
In Case Of Fire
InMe
Janus Stark
Jellys, The
Jesse James
Joy Rider
Kids In Glass Houses
King Prawn
Leadtheway
Less Than Jake
Limp Bizkit
Linkin Park
Living End, The
Lonely The Brave
LostProphets
Lunachicks
Mad Caddies
Madcap
Matches, The
Mest
Midget
Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The
Mr Dogg
MySpoon
MxPx
My Awesome Compilation
Nerf Herder
New Found Glory
ninepoundnote
NOFX
Not Katies
Offspring, The
Papa Roach
Paramore
Peter And The Test Tube Babies
Phinius Gage
Pink Torpedo’s, The
Pitchshifter
Placebo
Plastic Letters Band
Prodigy, The
Puddle of Mudd
Rage Against The Machine
Raging Speedhorn
Rancid
Reel Big Fish
Rico
Rival Schools
Riverdales, The
Rotunda
Rufio
Sham 69
Sick On The Bus
Skatch
Skindred
Slaughter and The Dogs
Slipknot
Sloppy Seconds
Snap Her
Snapcase
Snuff
Sounds of Salvation
Sparta
Splodgenessabounds
Sprung Monkey
[spunge]
Start, The
Starting Line, The
Stiff Little Fingers
Stretch Armstrong
Sugarcult
Sum 41
Teeth, The
Terrorgruppe
Terrorvision
Therapy?
Toast
UB40
Uncle Brian
US Bombs
Utah Saints
Vanilla Pod
Wailers, The
Waving At Strangers
Wildhearts, The
With One Last Breath
Yeah Yeah Yeahs

So, L is for all the bands I’ve seen live over the years up and down the country.

 Posted by at 7:10 pm