Tag Archives: Music

When Love and Hate Collide: MySpace

Remember MySpace? I guess it was one of the first really mainstream social networking sites… remember, it was all big and fluffy and exciting a couple of years back, everyone who was anyone was flocking there. And then along came Facebook, and Twitter, and a whole range of other sites, and suddenly MySpace was “like, so last year”, and lots of people stopped caring.

Myspace
Myspace” by moyix.

The benefits

I’m still on MySpace, but I can’t say that I’m an active participant. My page essentially acts as a placeholder, provides a link over here to my primary blog, and acts as a way of keeping in touch with a small group of folks who I know over there. If someone searches for me on MySpace, they’ll find at least one way to contact me, and hopefully find my “main” web presences.

I also find that MySpace, along with Last.FM, is one of my key “music networks”. I have discovered a number of new artists through MySpace – particularly Alex Cornish who is increasingly beginning to break through into the mainstream in the UK (looking forward to his London gig in a couple of weeks’ time). I’ve also connected with smaller bands and found more obscure (to the UK) artists I’ve been following for a while. I believe that MySpace is an interesting way for artists to release music, get themselves known, and interact with fans.

The way the music thing has generally worked is that I’ve found and “friended” an artist, and then explored their connections and sampled their music on the site. In a couple of cases other musicians have introduced themselves to me as “friends of xxx” artist that I like, and again I’ve usually at least visited their page to check them out. I’ve bought at least 2 albums by unsigned or minor artists that way, but conversely in other cases I’ve also decided that no, I still really don’t like hip-hop and not bothered with the musician that has tried to friend me.

There’s an iPhone application now, and I guess that has helped me to keep up with the status of folks on there and what they are doing, too. It has rekindled my interest a little.

The annoyances

A couple of things really are not great, though.

First, there’s a the perennial make-your-eyes-bleed-its-so-horrible design of MySpace pages. They really are awful, and although the refreshed header and button design introduced this year makes it a little cleaner, the majority of MySpace pages still look as though a 5 year old has plastered the most gaudy advert they can find onto a computer screen and then scribbled on it with crayon. There’s also the language and slang used by the majority of regular users WHO FINK THAT SHOUTING MAKES U KULER LOL (you get the point).

Today I received 3 emails from a guy who was trying to promote his MySpace profile and music. There were a few annoyances here… firstly he was using some automated mailing list thing to spam me, not using MySpace at all… secondly he sent me THREE of the darned emails, one of which contained the HTML code for a Flash player of his music, which I assume he thought would play directly in my mail… and again, there was that lack of grammar or spelling that characterises certain MySpace users.

Reader, on receipt of the third email, I took a look at the guy’s site.

Not my kind of music, to be perfectly honest. So I sent him a mail on MySpace asking him not to spam, and explaining that although I’m sure he’s a great guy, sending me repeated messages about himself was not going to encourage me to either listen, or tell others to listen – quite the opposite in fact.

The response?

not spam if ya aint sellin nothing, Sry Your pissed off over email, try Being born in poverty and haveing to become somthing with no help, if you got that many that just means im doing my job

*sigh* Well that’s another MySpace user blocked, then…

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Alex Cornish at the Troubadour

This will be a first, I’ve not written a gig review before… bear with me…

Background

Somewhere around late summer last year I started listening to the Song by Toad podcast (aka the Toadcast). It’s a brilliant, weekly(ish) compilation of new music, or other random-but-strung-together-by-a-theme music, hosted by Matthew Young. Although Matthew is obviously far more informed and knowledgeable about music than I am – he actually goes to gigs and writes about music exclusively on his blog, whereas I write about anything that comes to hand – it seems as though we have a roughly similar taste and background… although I toyed around with metal and heavy rock in my later years at school, I was pretty much an indie kid at university and have been into a lot of guitar stuff ever since.

One of the first artists I discovered via the Toadcast was Alex Cornish, who was featured in Toadcast #5. I think I downloaded a track straight after listening to the podcast, and bought Alex’s album immediately after it was released on iTunes… in fact I remember exchanging emails with Alex at the time, I was travelling and wanted to get the album on download whereas he we encouraging me to get the CD, which to be honest I should have done. I’ve been following his MySpace ever since. Loved the album and had been hoping to catch him live, so when I saw he was going to be in London playing as part of Curious Generation at the Troubadour, I jumped at the chance to go along.

The venue

We’ve established that I’m not a regular gig-goer, and I’d never been to the Troubadour before. The website describes the venue as “the last 50s coffee house in Earls Court”, which sounded promising from the start. Basically it’s a coffee house / bar / restaurant upstairs with a small cellar for live music and poetry reading underneath. I stumbled in down the wrong staircase behind one of the bands, with the result that I arrived before the doors officially opened and was assumed to be part of someone’s entourage – kind of weird but I don’t think they minded my honest mistake too much. For reference, the way in to the cellar is right at the back of the coffee house! The cellar is an intimate venue – I don’t think there could have been more than a hundred or so people, and the music filled the space pretty nicely. I’d definitely go to other sets at the Troubadour in future.

Alex Cornish

Alex CornishThe overall sound of Alex’s album is a bit low-key and acoustic (which, in case you hadn’t guessed, I like). The difference here was that I’d not heard the tracks performed with a full band before, and I have to say that some of them were transformed. For example, one of my least-favourite tracks on the album is “Scotland the Brave”, but having heard it performed live my opinion has changed completely. In fact every track was superb. I was grinning like a mad thing throughout most of the set, and carried on grinning afterwards. It was an excellent gig. If you have a chance to see him on his current tour, I suggest you take it. Apparently the next gig in London is sold out already.

Chatting to Alex afterwards, it sounds like the next album is coming along well and that there is going to be a bigger sound now that he has the band together. We got a preview of one of the tracks, “Look Out” (prompting much excitement from my section of the audience since Alex’s friends have heard it before), and frankly I’m looking forward to hearing more.

Snippets of Alex Cornish

I’m told that Alex is “a talented footballer and an incredibly nice guy”. Well I can’t validate his footballing skills, but I do agree that he’s a tremendous guy. As a sidenote, it’s a bit of a weird experience when you and the artist recognise each other from MySpace! Very cool though. And it’s strange what can happen when you hand out Moo cards and take notes in a Moleskine notebook – apparently people think you’re “the press” or “a proper journalist”. Hardly, but thanks πŸ™‚

Apologies for the poor-quality pictures, I wish I’d taken the DSLR rather than a compact.

Joker’s Daughter; Rosie and the Goldbug

Rosie and the Goldbug

It would be utterly unfair not to mention the other bands who were on on Tuesday night, since I enjoyed them too.

Joker’s Daughter kicked off proceedings. They were an acoustic pair who played some really beautiful, haunting folksy tunes. The venue was still sufficiently quiet to make them stand out, too – I think later in the evening as it got busier, they might have struggled to make an impact. I need to check them out in more detail, as I really liked the music.

Snippets of Joker’s Daughter

The third band of the evening, Rosie and the Goldbug, were seriously entertaining. I can’t quite figure out their influences… at times the sound was Tori Amos (“Soldier Boy”), at times nearly Blondie, and the look (glittering minidress and peacock feather) was reminiscent of Moloko. Some fantastic banter in between the tracks, and a lot of energy. Thundering bass and piano, and the lead singer kept demanding “more vocals” from the engineer! Another band I’ll be exploring some more.

Snippets of Rosie and the Goldbug

I wasn’t able to stay for the last artist, Ryan Scott, so I can’t comment. If anyone who was there has anything to add, please let me know what I missed!

The company

Met some fantastic folks, most of whom knew Alex already. I hope I didn’t come across as some kind of MySpace stalker πŸ™‚

Now, if you want so read what a proper music blogger thinks about Alex Cornish, instead of the inane and under-informed ramblings of a random enthusiastic fan, go and read Matthew’s review of Monday’s gig in Edinburgh. You’ll also find a few samples of Alex’s music there, and on his MySpace page. And once you’ve done that, go get his album Until the Traffic Stops, from iTunes or Amazon or your vendor of choice (eMusic have his singles, but not the album). Do it!

Excellent gig

This is a bit of a placeholder / early warning for a blog post I intend to write, but don’t have time for right now – I’m going to write up the gig I went to last night at the Troubadour club in London. For now, check out Alex Cornish on MySpace πŸ™‚

More to follow later! And great to meet the folks who were there.

Can the Internet "make" Christmas No 1?

I noticed that Darren blogged about the effort in one of the Last.FM groups to try to get Lucky Soul’s ‘Lips Are Unhappy’ to Christmas number one, in order to prevent a seemingly-inevitable Simon Cowell-created reality TV sub-Stock/Aitken/Waterman pop crap last minute release making it, as would usually be the case.

Last night I was listening to the always-excellent Song By Toad podcastepisode 16, the Birthday podcast, and let me say Happy Birthday to Matthew (aka Mr Toad) while I’m here – and it turns out that there’s also another online campaign to create a Christmas number one. This one is Malcolm Middleton’s ‘We’re All Going To Die’, which seems an unlikely title for song to listen to during a period of peace and joy, but I can see the wry humour.

The thing that particularly interests me about both of these campaigns is whether the Internet has the power to beat mass market television at this point. Last.FM has a loyal following… and probably more than the music blogs who are pushing Malcolm Middleton… but I’ll be interested to see whether either can beat out the TV-anointed tune, whatever it turns out to be (see, I don’t actually watch the shows which tend to create them), even in this age when downloads do count towards singles sales.

Me? I’ve pre-ordered Lucky Soul and joined the Malcolm Middleton Facebook group.

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Where have I been?

Have I been a bit quiet? That’s because I’ve been here:

Playing in the river In Wisla

And enjoying sights like these:

View from Skrzyczne

And also spending time with our nephew:

Beniamin's eyes

More photos on Flickr, as usual.

Last week I did about 1000km of driving in Poland – the first time I’d driven on the β€œwrong” side of the road, too. Bit of an unfortunate start to the break, since I managed to leave Ola’s passport at home. Still, it all came together in the end.

Whilst away I also (finally!) read most of The Long Tail, and all of a really great, fun and highly readable book called the The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear, which I thoroughly recommend.

I also explored a bunch of interesting new music on the iPod via the Song by Toad podcast, which is worth a listen. Episode 8 is stuffed with new music which I love (Emmy the Great, Monkey Swallows the Universe), Episode 5 has some other cool stuff (Alex Cornish, Thunderegg), and Episode 6 is just hilarious.

Back to it. Service to be resumed shortly.

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