Wednesday, 27 October 2010

No Apologies - Best of the Newbies

It's official, all four new Jovi tracks have been released and, in my humble opinion, No Apologies is the best of the lot and should definitely be the lead single promoting the Greatest Hits. You can check it out here. Here's hoping they'll perform this for X Factor show in the UK on Sunday night after promising 'something special and not to be missed' in their email...we'll see. I'm also eagerly awaiting ticket prices for the UK shows that go on sale tomorrow morning, I really hope it's not another case of the band ripping off their fans. I'm not going to take any kind of stand because I obviously want to see the show, and will begrudgingly spend a lot for tickets, but I just want the best seats and hate that they're suddenly so expensive when two years back I was in the Gold Circle for £35! We're not all on the rockstar salary so here's hoping they don't punish the poor again. I'm a little disappointed at the 'stadium tour' that was seemingly on the cards and we're stuck with a Festival slot, a cricket ground and one stadium in Scotland but apparentely Take That have got all the big stadiums booked for the same period. Stupid boy bands. I can't complain, this tour has seen them play countries that haven't seen the band for decades! Either way, I'm excited but anxious, I hate refreshing ticket sites at 8 in the morning, it's always so stressful, only once they're ordered can I enjoy the thought of another live Bon Jovi show next summer.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

This Week in the Music World

So, it's shaping up to be quite the exciting week in the music world. On Monday, the latest offering from the Kings of Leon titled Come Around Sundown was released. I'm a massive fan of their previous Only By The Night, it's one of my favourite albums and I was intrigued to see the kind of stance they might take. As with quite a lot of bands, I'm not a huge fan of their early stuff but was swept along with the wave of new fans when this came out. Although Come Around Sundown has only had a few listens through it's certainly sounding better each time round. I love having new albums, when you've got so much time to listen out for new things that you didn't hear before and when you're just waiting to be taken on a journey, no idea where the band are planning to take you next. There don't seem to be any massive stand-out Sex on Fire-esque tracks (although the single, Radioactive is pretty catchy) but it's definitely a lot more chilled out and, at the same time, feels a lot more soulful and passionate. Their Nashville roots are clearly identified with such song titles as Pickup Truck and Back Down South, with a slight return to their Countrified compositions but it's definitely standing out to me as a great album for fans and non-fans alike.

Diana Vickers was one of the featured artists on the X Factor this week, which is once more causing a stir between itself and the 'real' music industry and it's fans of 'real' music. Her new single, My Wicked Heart, has come under fire for its chorus being a complete rip-off of the Chili Pepper's Under The Bridge. Although she is qouted to have admitted listening to Under The Bridge before having written the song and being worried about it sounding similar, she then decided not to bother to changing it afterall. Have a listen for yourself, but the melody for the first four lines of the chorus is uncannily similar. The Chili Peppers certainly have a case that would surely stand-up in court, and I believe they are pursuing this root. I actually quite liked her when she appeared on the X Factor as a naive 17 year old daring to be different, with her quirky stage presence and vocal style but she has obviously sold herself to fame and allowed her record company to mould her into something a lot more generic and accepted in order to sell records. The auto-tuning of her single is also far too obvious. Disappointing stuff Miss Vickers.

Diana Vickers - My Wicked Heart

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Under The Bridge

And finally, Bon Jovi are to be presented with the Global Icons Award at next month's MTV Europe Music Awards and I believe they're performing at the ceremony too. Just another one for the trophy cabinet for the band maybe, but it's still great news that they continued to be recognised and celebrated today.

So there's my two-pence for what it's worth, enjoy the rest of your week.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


This is for both fans of music and upcoming independent UK bands/solo artists! Check out Tunebreaker for your chance to enter their competition or to support emerging unsigned UK talent. Here's a brief snippet from the bands section of the site:

TuneBreaker™ is a (global) new music award aimed at emerging and truly independent artists. The TuneBreaker™ Music Award is both unique and innovative in its process (a process we cannot divulge just yet). We are not a corporate funded site looking for quick returns - we are a small team of experienced music industry people and mainly avid young music fans wanting to see a new industry of music. This award is as real and authentic as it comes.

The inaugural TuneBreaker™ Music Award commences in mid-November 2010 with the winner announced before New Year. This first award is only open to Artists and Bands that are resident in Great Britain and Ireland and is limited to a set number of entrants. Artists remember! Whilst you have to be from Great Britain and Ireland, fans can vote for you from anywhere in the world.

The actual 'competition' itself is all being kept quiet at the moment, but is soon to be revealed. In the meantime, if you're an artist then get your band signed up and if you're a lover of music make sure you do to!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Beatitudes, Live @ Soul Cellar, Southampton

I don't often feel the need to blog about a band I've seen live the night before, but I woke up this morning harbouring a desire to share with you my experience last night, and the music of a band that the world needs to just stop what they're doing and listen to. You may remember the New Artist Alert I featured on the guys back in July? That band is Beatitudes. Pronounced Bee-at-itudes, this slick and professional five piece had every foot tapping in Soul Cellar last night. Oh, and did I mention, they could probably give The Beatles a run for their money. A bold statement I'm sure you'll agree, but in a live music scene that continues to churn out the same old acts at the moment, Beatitudes were a breath of fresh air, complete with four-part vocal harmonies, fantastic rock 'n roll guitar licks and just brilliant songs. I can't urge you enough to check the guys out or, even better, catch them live, because I can't help but wonder if the right person gets wind of what these guys are doing, they're going to be huge. In an age where we look to the past when writing songs or buying clothes, Beatitudes skipped the 80's synth-revival train and waited a few more decades at the station for the classic rock 'n roll sound, whilst adding just a little sprinkle of the here and now to give their super-tight sound a real classy shimmer. Suited and booted, they are NOT a band to miss, so have a listen on their Myspace page or check them out on Facebook.
Excuse the personal plug, but they'll be supported at their next gig by my band Birds in Flight and The Sharps at The Joiners in Southampton on Friday 12th November :)

Friday, 1 October 2010

These Days: A Personal Reflection To My Favourite Album

Inspiration has been a little thin on the ground recently, so I apologise for the lack of posting although I'll blame it for now on having started back at uni this week. However, in the meantime, I wanted to do a little feature on my favourite Bon Jovi album, and probably the fans' favourite too: These Days. This album had always been my favourite, even before discovering it was generally considered the band's best offering by casual fans and die-hards alike. It's now 15 years old which is quite unbelievable, but I guess all classic albums stand the test of time, whether they were written to or not. It was always a special one for Bon Jovi, as it reflected the real maturing of the band as song-writers, and also signficantly was their final studio release until they all got their hair cut and burst into the new millenium five years later with chart-friendly It's My Life from Crush, sparking a whole new generation of fans (including this one). It was also the first album since the departure of Alec John Such, the band's original bass player, to be replaced by 'session player' Hugh 'Huge' McDonald, although I don't know anyone that doesn't consider him an actual member of the band. There's a really nice moment in the 1995 Live in London tour DVD where Jon excitedly announces that the album has 'knocked Michael Jackson off the top spot' of the album charts, and did particularly well in the UK with 4 top-ten singles. I wanted to feature a few highlights for me from the album, so here goes...

Track 1, Hey God, is definitely an attention-grabber. You might expect the title-track to be the crowning feature, but the sultry piano intro doesn't catch your ears as much as Jon's spoken "OK we ready?" with a snap of Tico's drumsticks followed by his reply, "Just about" and Jon's final "Let's go" before Richie's huge opening riff kicks off the album. Before I'd grasped the concept of 'characters within songwriting' I always wondered, when I was a lot younger I'm hasten to add, how Jon could really be asking "Hey God, do you ever think about me?", considering the band's global success. Shedding my naive thoughts along with my tender years, I later understood the grasp of creating characters rather than Jon singing from a first-person perspective.

Track 2, Something For The Pain has been making a comeback recently which is nice to see; I think anything performed from These Days is appreciated by Jovi fans and the winding, lyric-heavy breakdown is perfect, whilst track 3, This Ain't A Love Song, broke the boundaries of the usual Jovi love-songs, although still managed to make its mark as a ballad.

At Track 4 we reach the title track, and it's definitely a highlight on the album. The heartfelt verses mixed with the uplifting choruses find the perfect balance of emotions; whilst it still maintains itself as a piano-based ballad, it's definitely got the foundation of a classic rock stadium song. For the Lost Highway tour, Richie took to singing lead vocals for These Days (as featured below) and I just remember being totally blown away hearing his soulful voice gracing such a fantastic song. The intricate differences in phrasing and the slight nuances as compared to Jon's vocals gave the song a whole new feel, and I'm still undecided as to which I actually prefer.

And how about an acoustic version?

My favourite part in track 5, Lie To Me, is as the second verse comes in, and Richie sings two lines of backing vocals in response to Jon: "I don't wanna die no more". It's always stood out as a highlight of the album and I'm not sure why really as it seems quite insignificant, maybe it's just the beautiful tone of Richie's vocals. Track 6, Damned, is a real funky dirty groovy number, and includes one of my favourite ever Richie solos which has really got to be felt to be appreciated.

Track 7, My Guitar Lies Bleeding In My Arms, is another interesting lyric almost in the same vain as This Ain't A Love Song; "I can't write a love song/The way I feel today/And I can't sing no song of hope/I got nothing to say". It's always one of very few live videos I've found where there are more than one obvious mistake, as you'll see in the video below. Whether it's problems with sound onstage I don't know, or maybe it was just a bad omen Richie brought when putting his hair in a ponytail, either way they deal with it well and get through the song unscathed, except for a few definite 'stink-eyes' shot about the stage!

Track 8 sees Jon's first solo writing contribution on the album, (It's Hard) Letting You Go which I love to sing and play myself. It fits so perfectly within the darkened feeling of the album, and is also nice to hear a Jovi song not in 4/4. Hearts Breaking Even at track 9 has always been in the shadows for me, but possibly because I know that the next track is my favourite ever Bon Jovi song. Something To Believe In was my favourite song from the first time I heard Richie's "Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!", which set off the feeling for the track that I can't quite explain; a somewhat misty, brazen feel. It's again so dark and moody but has this great funky bridge section which almost sounds out of place but isn't, and also showcases a fantastic note held by Jon for what seems like forever before a raspy, yelpy scream ends it which has never been recreated live with the same effect. And the solo, especially the extended live version, is amazing.

The last few tracks of the album wind it up wonderfully; If That's What It Takes filling the last thumping spot whilst Diamond Ring is dripping with romanticism, conjuring images of dark, smokey rooms lit only by candlelight. And finally, Bitter Wine caps off Bon Jovi's greatest, darkest and most heartfelt creation to date. It's, of course, a classic album to be left off of all 'classic album' lists and snubbed by Rolling Stone or Q Magazine, but it'll always be mine, and the fan's, favourite ever offering, and that's got to be worth more to the band than any countdown or opinion poll.