Friday, 29 October 2010

The Q Awards and Pitchfork

The Q Awards took place in London earlier this week, ushering the beginning of the end in the year of music for 2010. Soon music-based websites, newspapers, bloggers, radio presenters, DJs and record shops will all be compiling their end of year lists. It’s fair to say this unfortunately for the most part is an exercise in the art of conforming to one’s audience. While I appreciate the angle, genre or subculture a magazine or website is trying to represent is important - and that it reflects their readership and possible existence - it is often almost painstakingly obvious what will be included on their respective lists.

Take the American online giant, for example. We know that within their top 10 albums of the year 2010 will be the following: two or three albums from established indie/alternative favourites (Sufjan Stevens, Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem); two or three more albums from relatively unknown acts and innovative newcomers (The XX, No Age,  Best Coast); one or two records from respected and popular R & B and Hip Hop Acts (Big Boi, Mos Def); one from a respected pop act (Robyn); and, finally, one or two records from the obscure side of electronica (Caribou, Mount Kimbie).

I’m not suggesting for a minute that the acts mentioned releases aren’t of high quality. Many of them I own and have enjoyed immensely. However, each year presents us with the same scenario. Pitchfork aim to identify key trends in the market and the changing demographics of the music world to suggest to us all what is worth listening to and what isn’t. While I’m sure they want to remain popular and an established reference point for music fans across the world, their underlying motive is maximising traffic. More traffic means more clicks on the hundreds of advertisements splashed across their pages. More clicks, more revenue. More revenue, more money. More money, more power. More power to aim to control the tastes of its target audience of mainly 16-35 years who historically have purchased more music than any other age group. The power now stretches to its own music festival and collaboration with the excellent All Tomorrow’s Parties festival.

When you attempt to read a Pitchfork review (which could essentially be a promotional sales pitch), make sure you have a dictionary handy so you can try and make sense (sometimes it’s impossible) to decipher what the fuck they are on about. If the BBC music reviews have a faint unpleasant smell, Pitchfork reviews stink to high heaven of the most disgusting and foul smelling dogshit you’ve ever been unfortunate to come across. They are also quite unique in the marks they give reviews. Why a proper mark out of 10 is not a good enough guide of how good they think they records are is beyond me. No, no, no. They have to use 8.3 or 9.2 or 6.5 or 5.4 (or 100000000.0 if it was the new Radiohead record). Selling advertising, bad maths and dogshit. Pitchfork in a nutshell.

Speaking of shit has reminded me to discuss the Q Awards, which was originally my intention for this entire post. They quite unbelievably sprung a surprise by awarding their best album prize to the fantastic High Violet by the National. This was a welcome award for one of my favourite bands of the past 5-6 years and thoroughly deserved. Not surprisingly, this was where the positive results of the night began and ended. Kasbian are apparently the best act in the world today. FUCK ME.

Other awards went to established industry turd such as Paolo Nutini, Mark Ronson and Mumford and Sons. My highlight of the awards winners list is surprisingly not the National but the award of track of the year. The winner was ‘You Got the Love’ by Florence and the Machine. How an awful cover of a once great song was the best track of the year is quite unbelievable. The original was a beautiful mid-80s disco groove with a beautiful vocal from a soul and disco legend. This ‘winning’ version is just unlistenable fronted by an industry creation with an average voice who fails, even though many makeup artists, fashion designers, hairdressers have tried their best, to look attractive. We know the original track has been played and reworked to death over the past 20 odd years, so I thought why was it necessary to choose this track as the track of year?

I then decided to look at the rest of the nominations. Now I saw the judges’ dilemma. They were all decidedly average and with the majority of them a rehash of what has been done better before (click to see the full list). Choosing the best out of this lot must be like choosing a portaloo on the last day of a three-day Rock Festival. You all know they are pretty shit, some smelling of shit and some having more shit on them and around them than others. But you take a punt and hopefully pick the right one. However there isn’t a right one. They’re all horrible and disgusting and choosing one makes you realise that it’s best to not bother in the first place. If you can’t go to a clean toilet or pick a good song you may just as well foul yourself. It’s probably a more pleasant experience than listening to any of their choices for tracks of the year.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Football Biscuits

"I've talked to the manager and the owners and they've convinced me this is where I belong." Let me give you a rough translation. “I talked to the manager and the owners and they wilted to mine and my representative’s demands and as a result I’m considerably richer than I was before”.      

Wayne Rooney has signed a new five-year contract with Manchester United. This is only three days after his manager Alex Ferguson’s impassioned press conference stating Rooney wanted to leave the club. This ridiculous turnaround is indicative of the absurdity football reaches these days in the press. Only one week ago, the tumultuous sale of Liverpool Football Club was concluded. We were subjected to around the clock bollocks consisting of on location reporting outside courts, training grounds and stadiums; legal experts proving how clever they are; and club ‘legends’ asking to display their ability to have both an opinion and an arsehole. Sky Sports News as ever has been at the forefront of this coverage now reminding everyone who is paying attention that ‘you can get all the latest’ in shiny HD. Why it’s necessary to watch someone reporting possible eventualities from the possible location at the time when it will possibly be concluded in HD, is beyond me. A couple of months back when Sky Sports News was removed from freeview, people were in uproar as they would now have to concentrate for more than 30 seconds when turning on their television; or alternatively engage in lifeless conversation that they previously could have avoided. They must be thanking the person responsible for that decision as they can now instead avoid furore surrounding earth shattering BREAKING SPORTS NEWS such as Frank Lampard has shaved his chest, John Terry’s Dad is now dealing heroin or Wayne Rooney has consumed a cupcake. On location reporting breaking news has been with us for a while now and has been appropriately savaged by others for its ridiculousness. The breaking news training ground reports from Sky always seem to focus on the individual’s car and how it’s being driven away like they’re giving them marks out of ten for swerve, acceleration and whether or not they were able to run over any reporters from the BBC.
    Upon the launch of Sky Sports News HD, we were invited to log on to their website and download the podcast to catch ‘exclusive behind the scenes footage’ of them doing….? Anyway, I refused to waste my time with that but I was fortunate to see some behind the scenes footage during a recent visit from boxers David Haye and Audley Harrison. As the boxers walked through the corridors to the studio I noticed that the pictures of all the presenters lined the walls. It was like a really shit hall of fame where really plain faced boring bellends in black suits and blonde tarts with adequate cleavage and gloss were awarded for conforming to the channel's image as self-important and relevant.  Georgie Thompson is probably the presenter that irks me the most. She’s clearly king bitch of shit mountain. Her voice swirls round unfortunate people’s heads all day like a nagging step mum reminding you to keep bang to up date with all the latest bullshit. Mike Wedderburn is the bloke I presume gets on most viewers nerves. His little morning jokes and ad-libs are excruciating and have often resulted in me shouting FUCK OFF at the TV at 7am resulting in me spilling my cornflakes all over the floor and probably waking up my neighbours.
    For many viewers, Sky Sports News is unavoidable. When you get home from a long day at work, you turn on the television and it feels like the default setting is set to the channel. If you sit down in front of the TV at a couple of minutes past the hour or past the half hour, you will inevitably turn on Sky Sports News or another news channel. You’ve already missed the start of an interesting documentary about nature on Discovery and you can’t really handle watching an old episode of Top Gear on Dave, so you bang on the sports news and wait until the next half hour rolls in. But then you are enticed by what’s coming up and think ‘I’ll just watch the headlines’. Then you find yourself back in the same scenario watching the same stories yet again, missing something actually worth watching and getting Georgie Thompson’s annoyingly deep voice swirling around your head.  Freeview has taken all this nonsense and pain away for many of us. For the rest with Sky or digital boxes, the hell continues, but at least it’s in HD I guess.                    

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Howard Johnson-Let's Take Time Out

More classic 80s disco funk soul for you, this time from Howard Johnson. Looks like he's applied some Soulglo to that barnet. A great find that I discovered on a recent Hit and Quit It Podcast from Recloose & Frank Booker.

Howard Johnson-Let's Take Time Out

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Pépé Bradock-Path of Most Resistance

Cuts, Cuts, Cuts, Cunts. In light of Gideon's announcement that we really are all fucked, I'd thought I'd attempt to put a smile back on people's faces in the form of Pepe Bradock's mesmerising tune from 2009, 'Path of Most Resistance'. If that doesn't do enough, one of the cracking B-sides is also below.

Pepe Bradock-Path of Most Resistance

Pepe Bradock-CU @ Minna & Lafayette

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Joy Division

Last couple of days have been a bit bleak to say the least. The weather is now seriously turning into shite, the mornings are darker and the days shorter. The dark will take over when the clocks change in a couple of weeks. Bugger. Therefore that gives me plently of excuse to post some Mancunian/Salfordian melancholy in the form of Joy Division. Every now and then I have to listen to almost everything of theirs solid for at least a two or three of days. Old habits die hard.

Leaders of Men

From Safety to Where

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Colonel Abrams - Trapped

Absolute classic from Colonel Abrams, went down particularly well at the first Binary Party. Announcements on the way about the next one soon. The full length 12" version is below. 

Colonel Abrams-Trapped

Friday, 15 October 2010

Tiger & Woods-Deflowered

I've recently started contributing for Manchester-based blog newsicmoos. Check it: -

Bonus beauty of a track from Tiger & Woods for the weekend below where i'll be working and you will be partying.

Tiger & Woods-Deflowered

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Deetron Feat. Seth Troxler-Sing

Well that its. After the Indian summer over the last few days, the weather looks like its finally turned for this year. The leaves are starting to line the streets. Streetsweepers show dismay at the kids who kick the piles of leaves on their way home from school and when the pissed blokes do the same after a night at the pub. It's grey, turning cold and the summer is looking like a distant memory. This deep summer jam might improve your mood. Deetron Feat. Seth Troxler. 'Sing' was a one of my mid-summer highlights. Take me back to Ibiza please.

Deetron Feat. Seth Troxler-Sing

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Theo Parrish-Chemistry

More Theo. Was going to eat humble pie and head off to the Warehouse Project for one night only to catch him yet again. More of a dubstep and future beats (whatever the christ that means) vibe to the night but the beauty about his DJ sets they can consist of all sorts. However, it's of course 'now sold out'. Bloody students with their 'music'.

Theo Parrish-Chemistry

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Dirty Beats

The Warehouse Project’s stranglehold on Manchester is sucking the life out of the city’s more independent club scene.

It’s that time of year again. Students and their teary-eyed parents in cities across the country are clogging up supermarket aisles looking for new pots and pans, flyers litter the street and grown men and women are walking round dressed up as pizza boxes promoting what will ultimately become regrettable take away purchases.
Freshers’ week is here. And this seven-day celebration of drinks promotions and debauchery is taken to new levels in Manchester, as close to 100,000 students take to the city’s rain-soaked streets. This may signal the end of summer, but it also marks the beginning of a new season in music.
A plethora of gigs and club nights have been announced over recent weeks, bringing the best in national and international bands to Mancunia. This, of course, also marks the return of the Warehouse Project - that inescapable juggernaut of clubbing and live music that runs from September right up to the New Year.
Now in its fifth year, the success of the beneath-the-streets venue is unquestionable, with clubbers and music fans travelling from far and wide to experience a wide selection of nights crammed with every relevant - and not so relevant - DJ.
The Warehouse Project’s national recognition and high-profile sponsors generate vital income for the city’s tourist purse, and the venue’s acclaim has resulted in it being labelled the ‘Fabric of the north’ in some circles. However, it’s not been without its problems.
Excessive drink prices and long queues for the bar/toilets were an initial concern, and for the most part this has been rectified. Heavy-handed security is often a problem at large venues, and events and the Warehouse Project has been no different.
With electronic music being invariably tied to the use of illegal drugs, the overt presence of bouncers and club officials is perhaps a necessary evil that is here to stay. However, it is the Warehouse Projects’ last entry rule that often irks punters. In an effort to maximise its profits and increase its stranglehold on the city, the Warehouse Project often sets the last entry at 11pm.
For most people, the clubbing experience always involves the ritual pre-venue activities of bar hopping or drinks at home with friends. Often both.
The promotion that Warehouse Project receives (and conducts itself) dwarfs that of any event of its kind in Manchester. Events can sell out quickly, especially those with the more mainstream acts. This inevitably leads to touts getting their hands on tickets, leaving true fans with no other option than to pay for tickets with heavy mark ups.
The Warehouse Project has been pro-active in attempting to eradicate this problem. However, as it remains more ‘event’ than club night, punters are more at ease to spend more than necessary - be it on more drinks as they’re forced to get in early or on a ticket from an illicit source.
Regardless of these judgements, my main criticism of the Warehouse Project is less obvious and, if I’m honest, more personal and selfish. What frustrates me is the monopoly it holds on the Manchester club scene. Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic nights on in Manchester, with excellent line ups such as Cutloose, Content, Fingerprint and Wigflex. However, as the Warehouse Project is such a big draw, excellent artists will visit Manchester just to play there, with no other visit to a more suitable venue. I can’t imagine hearing Fred P play in the main room; it just wouldn’t work.
Here are a few examples from the 2010 WHP run: Henrik Schwarz, Tensnake, Metro Area, Moderat. Although these few artists may have played the city before, on this occasion they’re lumped in as part of an event that costs double the amount people would usually pay to see them. This marginalises the true fans who should be watching these artists in smaller venues at a more traditional club night.
Instead, if they’re fortunate enough to obtain a ticket they have the pleasure of paying more for their entrance and are forced to enter the club early to sample the delights of what is essentially an underground car park.
While either the night before or after an event - or on another weekend - the artists won’t visit Manchester as they’re already playing the Warehouse Project event. They will instead be in Liverpool, Leeds or Sheffield. In addition to this, nights may find booking certain artists difficult as it may clash with a Warehouse Project event that would appeal to similar taste. New club nights and even venues themselves are often reduced to a limited shelf life.
Some events are already sold out, and now with student loans dropping into grateful student bank accounts, many more will follow suit.
Over the last few years, going to open air concerts, gigs and music festivals has become a ‘thing’ to be seen to do. Now it’s happened to clubbing in my fair city. Give me a dingy small club any day or, alternatively, take me to Fabric or reopen the Music Box. The Warehouse Project’s now famous slogan reads: “For Twelve weeks, this city is ours.” No doubt.

Ryan Kelsey
September 2010

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Binary Party

It's almost upon us. Binary New Year is but a few days away. The first of many parties me and a few friends are putting on in Manchester, we start off in Arcadia in the Northern Quarter on Saturday for a celebration of digitalism, and it's FREE. 101010. 10-10-10. Expect to hear electronic music across the board as a few of us (including me) will be mucking in to DJ throughout the night. The next party is already in the planning, but before that get down to this. Directions here. For a snippet of what I'll be playing, get on the track below.

Connie-Rock Me (Dub Version)