Mary and Joseph being turned away from a Premier Inn by Lenny Henry
As requested by Jon Grubb
Mary and Joseph being turned away from a Premier Inn by Lenny Henry
As requested by Jon Grubb
Every month I write a short post with some of the music that I’ve been into during that month. Here is November’s jam…
I’m really late to the party with this band but stumbled across their new song ‘Sick of It’ on YouTube a month or so ago, streamed their album ‘Rise’ and then ordered the deluxe edition.
It arrive a couple of weeks back and is an incredible rock album which I’ve been playing constantly. There’s not a single bad track on the album and the mix of male and female vocals is really nice for a heavy rock album.
Five Iron Frenzy
Two years ago I pledged to help Five Iron Frenzy record their first new record since they broke up 10 years ago…two weeks ago I got to download their new album ‘Engine of a Million Plots’ and a few days ago the CD arrived (along with the blue ‘Five Iron Frenzy’ comb!).
The new record has a feel similar to their Electric Boogalo album and is a really good album which stays true to the band at the same time as showing growth (and better production)
Katy Perry is one of my guilty pleasures, her album ‘Teenage Dream’ is an incredible pop album and only really has one track on I don’t like (Peacock).
Katy’s new album ‘Prism’ is one which I’ve eagerly anticipated and have spent a while listening to it this month. Whereas ‘Teenage Dream’ was instantly likeable ‘Prism’ is a grower and takes a bit of getting into.
Prism feels more grown up and doesn’t blast you with the amount of ‘pop-hits’ that ‘Teenage Dream’ did but is still a good album which I’ve been really enjoying.
Have A Listen
Here’s a little YouTube playlist I’ve put together of some of the songs I’ve been enjoying
A few months back I got the opportunity to help out the mobile network giffgaff in the run up to them launching handsets (aka phones!).
This means that over the last couple of months they’ve sent me 7 smartphones ranging from £100 to £600 and I’ve spent some time messing around with them and recorded a short video review before sending them back.
It’s been really fun to do something a little bit different and try out different phones (although my iPhone still remains my favourite)
A couple of days ago handsets went live on the giffgaff website along with the reviews I and a few others did.
You can check out giffgaff handsets here.
(If you’d like to join giffgaff and use this link to order a sim card you’ll get £5 free credit when you activate/top it up for the 1st time)
10 years ago today (although technically the 17th November 2003) I know exactly what I did. It was a Monday and on my way back from sixth form I went via Tesco to pick up Blink-182’s new album (pictured right).
To this day their self-titled album remains one of my favourite albums. As a whole it flows together perfectly and is as much a piece of art as music in the way it’s produced and constructed.
I don’t think there is a single track on the album I don’t like (although it did take some getting used to…mostly because is was a massive step away from the energetic pop-punk of their previous albums). Whilst primarily being a rock record it’s also quite diverse especially with the addition of ‘The Fallen Interlude’ in the middle of the album and with the more laid back sound on ‘I Miss You’.
To this day it’s still an album I listen to fairly regularly and probably one of the few that I don’t skip tracks on. I think Mark Hoppus’ tweet from earlier today sums this post up nicely
A couple of years ago I went to Leeds Festival for the first time and I thought I knew what to expect, after all I had been to Greenbelt Festival the previous year and so I expected some mud, masses of tents and port-a-loo’s.
However before I went a friend told me a story of a girl at Leeds festival who’d gone to use the toilets (which were a set of seats over a pit in the ground). This girl had then dropped her bag in the toilet, tried to get it out and then ended up falling into several days of Leeds festival excrement!
So feeling slightly more wary, thankful I wasn’t camping and prepared for the worst I headed off to Leeds Festival…being prepared for the worst really didn’t help!
A port-a-loo makes the Leeds Festival toilets look fancy. The majority of them are simply a set of tudor style holes place over the ground with a door…there isn’t really a good experience to be had on the festival site however one particularly bad cubicle choice came about 6pm during the 2nd or 3rd day of the festival whereby upon entering one of these hole-above-ground cubicles I was greeted by what I can only describe as the world’s worst aim…someone previously had managed to poo on the side of the seat and just left it…nice.
Basically by the third day of the festival the whole site smells of a toilet, some people (men and women) give up on the loos and find the side of a tent, fence or empty drink cup to pee in.
So why am I sharing these grim stories?
Well…I chose to go to Leeds festival (and have been back since) but certainly wouldn’t want to live like it all time time.
The reality is that for many people across the world they have no choice. Many people across the world don’t have toilets and Water Aid reckon that people without toilets consumer 10g of faecal matter per day! (Eugh!)
No access to toilets means that germs are spread and that often water isn’t safe to drink causing a child to die from water related diseases every 40 seconds.
Water Aid are running World Toilet Day on the 19th November to raise awareness of this and just £2 a month can give one person clean water. So please support this fantastic cause and help save lives!
Vlog: I also made this post into a vlog. You can watch it here
Once or twice a week on Facebook someone I know (not the same person) posts some kind of shared warning to the wider world.
More often than not these warnings tell you that your world is a little bit more dangerous and that (essentially) you can trust no-one!
Yesterday was an example of this when someone re-posted a letter from lock company Chubb warning people not to flash their car lights at other cars without their lights on as this is part of a gang initiation. In this gang initiation the new member is challenged to drive without their lights and instructed to chase the first car to flash them and then kill those in the car.
That’s a pretty scary thing to read about especially as I’m one of those people who will flash those without lights.
At least it would be scary if it were true.
A quick type into Google and this letter is revealed to be a scam that has been circulating in one way, shape or form from as early as 2005.
Somewhere along the lines we seem to have decided that if it’s in Facebook it must be true.
Whether it’s fake Apple pages encouraging people to ‘repost this picture to win all these opened iPads’ (for the record Apple do refurbished iPads and so can do plenty with opened boxes!), letters warning people about pulling over in their cars, Facebook privacy rule scams or the the previously mentioned flashing driver scam people seem to just repost these things without thinking
Whilst I appreciate my friend’s efforts to warn me of the dangers out there in the big wide world I’d rather they did a brief bit of research first rather than sharing complete nonsense with me that is simply designed to scare people.
Not everything you see on Facebook is true
This site is a good place to check for scams (although some of the site seem pretty far fetched)
Last month I started a new monthly series whereby at the end of the month I shall post a few of my musical highlights. As I said in September these posts won’t always be new music but music I’ve really enjoyed this month.
So here are October’s jams…
I’ve probably mentioned Mat kearney before but received his latest album ‘Young Love’ for my birthday (the album itself came out over a year ago).
Mat writes acoustic pop kind-of-music which is nice and chilled out. He is a Christian and so some of his music reflects his faith whilst other songs simply reflect whatever has been on his mind at the time of writing.
I highly recommend giving him a listen (I’ve made a playlist of some of October’s jams at the end of this post)
Itch was the lead singer of the King Blues until they broke up last year. His solo music takes more of a hip-hop approach but Itch continues to deliver pretty solid lyrics filled with passion.
His latest song ‘Homeless Romantic’ came out a couple of weeks back and it has a fantastic feel about it…in particular a really heavy drum beat going on throughout.
Itch has also released a couple of free E.Ps via his website (warning he does swear quite a lot)
Finally for this month a recommendation of a musician I actually know. John Galea is a friend of friends and currently lives in London making music. John’s latest E.P. ‘Under Attack’ came out in September and is probably best described as dance pop.
The CD of ‘Under Attack’ arrived earlier this month and that meant it spent some time in my car. The E.P. has some good tracks going on with strong beats and powerful melodies (John has a great voice).
Here is a YouTube playlist of the artists I’ve mentioned in this post.
Now and again I take photos. Generally speaking they tend to be of places & objects rather than people (some of the ones that fit end up as website banners).
A couple of days ago we ended up at the Bubble Car Museum on the outskirts of Boston (Lincolnshire). Whilst it didn’t take that long to go round it was quite interesting and I got a few photos. Here’s the ones I like the most.
All my photos can be found on my flickr
Ten years ago I won tickets to see Bowling for Soup play in Norwich with support from Simple Plan. It was the first gig I ever went to and I loved it!
Since then I’ve seen Bowling for Soup live a few times and have always been impressed by them and so when they announced their farewell tour earlier this year I had go to!
Bowling for Soup played an impressive set spanning songs from their entire career and playing for over 2 hours…they also reassured fans that they would still be playing festivals in the UK and so whilst it was farewell it wasn’t quite!
One of the things that have always impressed me about BFS live is that Jarat’s voice is just as good live as on their albums and as a band they’re pretty tight (even when they stop for cocktail breaks during songs!).
I’ve seen loads of bands live including Green Day, The Foo Fighters and The Cure and I still don’t think any of them put on a show quite like Bowling for Soup.
Their tour is still going for another week so if there’s tickets left (Sheffield was sold out on Thursday) then you can still go and see them…you won’t be
An incredible 2 hours+ set from Bowling for Soup in Sheffield tonight
Festival Angels Leeds Promo Video - On my Leeds festival posts towards the end of August I mentioned that I’d been filming a promo video for Festival Angels during the festival. That video is now live and here it is!
Last week I had a major operating system crash (You can read a couple of incredibly geeky posts on said crash here and here). The result of this was a day when I needed to do all my work from my iPad and so using a VGA adaptor I hooked my iPad mini up to my external monitor and paired my bluetooth keyboard with it.
This got me thinking because I know a few people who have wondered if they could use a laptop instead of a tablet and after spending a day using mine I don’t think I could.
The tricky bits…
I like built in keyboard on my iPad and use it quite a lot and this was the first time I’d hooked up a real keyboard to it and it was easy to do and did make typing text documents and e-mails nice and easy however little things like arrow keys to scroll in a webpage didn’t work.
The most difficult thing of all was operating the iPad and moving between apps. I know you can get up voice control etc but it was a bit long winded (so I didn’t) which meant reach over the desk every so often to change apps.
The easy bits…
I found that I actually had a pretty productive day. The effort of changing apps meant that switching to check Facebook/Twitter didn’t happen.
I also found that iCloud made it easy to save documents knowing I could get them back on my laptop later on (although I’m still not sure I completely trust cloud storage!).
So could a tablet replace a laptop?
For the average computer user who wants to browse the web, check e-mail and occasionally create word documents then the answer is yes. The only issue would be storage amounts so you’d need a tablet with more storage or stream your media through Spotify, Netflix etc.
For anyone who wants to do something more then the answer is no. I find it far easier to work on a laptop (but do love my iPad) especially for advanced things like music production and video editing.
I suspect in the future more people will use tablets with households having 1 laptop rather than individual ones…not sure I’m ready to switch yet!
How To Talk Like A Christian - Today’s new video from Blimey Cow amused me, some of it doesn’t quite translate to British Christians (although perhaps more of it does in mega-churches). It makes some interesting points about talking in jargon!
This blog is part of a 13 week series where I’m writing about the meanings of the songs on my album ‘Thirteen Months’ which came out in April.
‘Dead & Buried’ has the biggest (and longest) introduction to a song that I’ve ever done (even as an acoustic demo the introduction was similar). When I wrote it I knew it would be the final song on the album because both musically and lyrically it bookends the album nicely.
The song as a whole is reflective. When I started writing ‘Thirteen Months’ I told myself I wanted to write the most honest music I had ever written and so in doing that (as you’ve read throughout the last 13 weeks of posts) I’ve revisited insecurities, past events and expressed things which have literally only ever been expressed in these songs.
As a consequence of this it often means when I play Jo a song I get asked what it’s about or why there are never songs about her but other people (I don’t really have an answer).
‘Dead & Buried’ is about moving on from the songs on the album, telling the story of me and Jo and looking back on our time together.
Musically the song is meant to be big. The drums, guitar, keys and bass are all meant to make the song feel incredibly full and punchy (and I think I achieved that). The solo that comes in after the bridge is my favourite part of the whole album because the clean solo and distorted guitar seem to compliment each other and take the song to a real high.
That’s it…Thirteen posts about the 13 tracks I wrote, recorded and produced for ‘Thirteen Months’. In writing these posts I basically sat and listened to the entire album for the first time in a few months and I’m still incredibly proud of how it sounds. I feel like it’s a big step on from ‘Escape This Town’ and has some good songs on it.
Thank you for indulging me these blog posts!
Have A Listen Below
Oh…one more thing.
Thirteen seconds after ‘Dead and Buried’ finishes (see what I did there?) a sneaky hidden track appears. Musically it reminds me of the ‘Ever Passing Moment’ era of ‘MxPx’ with it’s simple rock guitar and punchy drums.
The title comes from the idea that punk was originally to do with standing up for something. The dictionary says that the original punk movement was characterised by ‘anti-establishment slogans’.
Lyrically it’s simply about the injustice of politicians cutting things for the poor when often they sit in big expenses-paid houses with no idea of the lives their decisions have an impact on (I should also add that the use of the word riot isn’t meant to refer to a violent protect like we saw in the UK a couple of years ago but about the idea of standing up for something).
Alongside the fresh new look here on the blog I thought I’d start doing a monthly music post. I’ve done a ‘top albums of the year’ post for the last few years and have occasionally posted on bands but never done anything more regular.
So here we go with the first of my monthly jam posts. These posts won’t just be new music but music I’ve really been into this month and would like to share (I’ll limit to 3 a month!).
A few months back Paramore did a ‘Still Into You’ covers contest and Haley Klinkhammer was one of the finalists. I followed the link on her YouTube and came across her two E.Ps.
The best way to describe Haley’s music is probably acoustic pop/rock. This last week in particular I’ve had both her E.Ps on repeat and I really like them. (My CD of her newest E.P. even has a lovely person message from Haley too!)
You can check out Haley’s music here (or stream below)
Candy Hearts band are a pop-punk band with a female vocalist. They’ve released a couple of albums and an E.P. I’ve been listening to them for a while but have rediscovered their E.P ‘The Best Ways To Disappear’ again these last couple of weeks plus their ‘Miles & Interstates’ single which includes a nice acoustic cover of The Descendants song ‘Nothing With You’
Check them out here (or stream below)
Bring Me The Horizon
Finally for September’s jam is the band ‘Bring Me The Horizon’. BMTH were my Leeds Festival discovery and compared to the above musicians probably show the range of my music taste. BMTH are a metal band from Sheffield and their latest release ‘Sempiternal’ is really good (warning: they swear a lot…although the song I’ve linked below is clean).
Sempiternal is probably the album I’ve played the most and loudest in the car this month!
So that’s September’s jam…feel free to recommend music to me…I always like finding new things to listen to.