It has been a fair while since I have put finger to key; to write about music....
There are two (unflinching) reasons for this. For one, I have been introverted by work transition, financial difficulties and personal ups and downs: all things music reviewing-related have taken a back seat. It is the minor key of a major symphony: a lack of inspiration. Not so much from me (I have been writing my own stuff quite expeditiously and unabated); the lack of inspiration comes from others. As much as I enjoyed trying to find new acts and artists- in a hope to give them some spotlight- after a while the creative stagnation, lack of originality and over-familiarity become too much of a burden. It became quite laborious to find new things to say about the emperor's new clothes; to be sagacious and effusive about musicians; many of whom were saying the same thing as dozens of their contemporaries. It is easy to become jaded and fatigued (whilst reviewing music). With the birth of new acts (seemingly) running parallel to the growth in human population, sifting through the seas of sounds does become arduous. I am always filled with admiration each time I see a new act enter the scene. It is a brave thing to do, and- considering what a fickle and unpredictable mistress the music industry can be- something that I envy (more on that a bit later). My bane and primary malady emanated from a deep-set and troubling realisation: there was precious (little) spark. Sure, many made a noise; created electricity; kept the senses primed, but when it was all over: where was the memory? The mind and body may have been (briefly stimulated) but the lingering sensation was oft one of quasi-afterglow: not a cherished and unforgettable memory. It is true that the last decade has introduced very few plaudits: no contenders for the greatest album, song, band or a act of all-time (with a few exceptions). It was the roaring '90s which saw the last real and relevant wave of fascination and majesty. Since then, there has been the odd masterpiece; a few good men and great women; a novella of pointed lyrics- but very few sounds have stuck in my mind. My last blog post examined the lack of huge ambition in the music industry (http://musicmusingsandsuch.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/new-music-the-death-of-grand-ambition/). I theorised that there has been scant purveyance of mind-blowing and gravity-defying music: too few attempts at grand multi-part epics; far too many simple and uncomplicated songs. It is simultaneously depressing and prescient that my favourite album was created in 1994; my all-time favourite song was pressed in 2003; my favourite singer died in 1991, and the band whom I admire the most disbanded in 1970. The '00s have unveiled a paradigm shift away from adventurous originality and variegated and polemic invigoration, and towards a consecrated and immobile predictability. I have postulated- and will continue to speculate- as to the reasons why behind the how; the where between the when of how things have ended up how they have. The bottom line is this, though: the ambition and daring is not there... not that I've heard. A single song- in its most homogenised and spendable form boils down to three core components: the lyrics; the music and the voice. There are boxes within the headings; sub-headings within the bullet points, and a checklist within the checklist that has been unfulfilled and under-examined for too long now. Perhaps I am over-simplifying and displaying some naivety and fecklessness. I do- however- feel that the catalyst for a resurgence; a sea change towards divinity is not out of reach (far from it, in fact). With a wealth of consumer finance, talent and potentiality, it is simply a matter of time before a revelation occurs. If one were to examine the three pillars of a song's architecture, it is easy to see how (and where) changes can be made; re-appropriations can be formed- and how music's somewhat inconsistent name can earn back its reputation...
"Without music, life would be a mistake."
This is an element of song writing and composing that is overlooked. It has been the established guard that has created the biggest splashes when it comes to stunning musicianship. The likes of Queens of the Stone Age have upped their game and come up with some of their strongest moves; acts such as Laura Marling and The National have continued their Di Maggio-like winning streak; deftly cranking up the quality meter (all the way) to 11. Many new bands and solo acts overlook the importance of writing encompassing and surprising music: something that excites, seduces and surprises. I have heard a few solo acts whom have had a decent voice; yet their strengths are outweighed by lazy and uninspired songs: the chief culprit has been one dimensional compositions. It is not a case of cramming every instrument, genre, style and sensation into every song- far from it. The thing that amazed me about the recent releases from Queens, Marling and The National was not the consistency; it was more to do with the quality. Between those three acts, over two dozen albums have been pressed; yet their ability to confound, supersede and shock is inspiring. It may be asking a lot to expect that level of consistency from all new music; yet it is surprising that there is not the ambition to rival the greatest acts around: how many brand new music acts go in that hard and passionate? I cannot name one single album or song that has left me drooling and grinning (except for tracks by the aforementioned). I have a lot of nerve saying this (as my songs are on paper at the moment, rather than on tape), but it can be as simple as an original and intriguing song title. When I was writing my not-yet-released-or-recorded-or-started album, the most important step was this: strike memorable note. Get the band name right. Make the album title compelling. Make sure the song titles were largely unique, and interesting. I was hoping that just by having the track listing (see below), fascination and wondering would be elicited...
Death of the Sweetheart - 'Marriage: The Beautiful Revenge'
Black Majesty Blues- 6:19
Ultraviolet Robot- 4:24
Emma Cool and the Boston Dance Party- 5:20
I Fall To Pieces- 5:13 *
Six-Figure Surname- 1:54
In The Word of the King- 3:23
We Have Seen Better Days- 4:16
Last To The Trigger, First One To Shoot- 3:30
The Uptalk Epidemic- 5:11
Vanity Mirror- 8:02
Barring one cover version (I Fall To Pieces), the idea was to have a selection of songs that covered huge swathes of ground, but above all, stuck out. Track names were inspired by friends (The Uptalk Epidemic); rejected song titles from another band (Ultraviolet Robot) and a fevered and surreal dream (Emma Cool and the Boston Dance Party). When you hit upon an unusual song title, oddly, the musical ambition becomes bigger and bolder. I have come across some great song titles from various different acts; yet there is an over-reliance to phone it in: choose the mundane and the predictable, in the hope that it will not alienate too many people. I think that one of the secrets to longevity and future-demand is a diverse sonic palette. If you take a band like Radiohead, think how much ground was covered on albums such as Kid A and OK Computer! From one song to the next, there is such a wealth of land covered. I feel that so many new acts are instilled with fear and anxiety. Due to the huge influx of new artists, combined with a small and finite budget; there seems to be trepidations to push the envelope. For bands, there is perhaps more scope to make some noise, yet there seems to be hesitation. Even with guitar, bass and drum, a myriad of moves and directions can be summoned. Some new bands such as The Strypes (stupid band name aside) have employed elements of '60s pop and punk; combined it with something modern and fresh, to create a more impressive whole. I guess the first song, debut E.P. and initial album are- as well as being the most never-wracking- are also the most important. As crucial as it is not create a unique 'sound' and identity, as well as be original; it is even more crucial to make a huge mark. And the plain fact of the matter is this: if you don't make bold moves with regards to the music, you won't be remembered in years to come; you won't inspire legions. One of the reasons why I went into a music reviewing hiatus, was the fact that so many solo acts and bands sounded so similar. A lot of bands were ripping off other (well-known) groups; whilst a great deal of solo artists came across as dull, ordinary and unspectacular. There are notable exceptions to name, but most of the most stunning acts were European or from the U.S. With regards to the U.K. swathes, too many limitations were evident. It does not cost a huge fortune to employ a string quartet; use a range of guitars; throw in some ghostly church organ; maybe mix some blues and classic elements together? I am not sure where the exact problem lies. It could be that the sheer overpopulated music scene is subjugating genuine pioneers. It may be that there is a need to replicate what is considered 'popular' or 'fashionable'. It might be something as simple as a lack of ambition and talent; yet I doubt it. I just feel that the reason that most acts show little range and ambition is that they are scared they will fail. Whilst it is imperative to hone your sound, and make impressions (in order to be in demand), the price of fulfilling of the market need comes at the expense of bravery and innovation. Who the hell cares about what the general public want? The likes of One Direction and Justin Bieber command more respect and patronage than credible and wonderful bands. The charts are a redundant insult, and the vast majority of the music-buying public are fickle and uneducated. If I had a pound for every time someone said they are "too young to remember..." I'd be crapping banks. I'd said 90% of modern music; and by that I mean 'mainstream' stuff is insipid and homogenised. If you have to work three jobs to be able to afford an orchestra; if you have to sell your own blood to be able to create a phenomenal epic, then why wouldn't you! Music is like the perfect partner: someone and something that keeps you awake, you'd do anything for, sacrifice yourself for; knowing that the rewards and sense of comfort and safety was worth it. If people stopped giving a damn what people thought and what critics want; rebelled against the charts and the verminous boy band/crappy pop scene mould that seems to be an incurable ill, then something wonderful will happen. Imagine what it was like in the '90s. With the likes of Oasis and Blur battling it out, each creating anthem after anthem; a dance wave that was genuinely gobsmacking; acts such as Jeff Buckley and Britpop darlings causing your average muso to salivate and ejaculate at the faintest string or note, it begs the question: isn't it essential that lessons be learned? There is a need now more than ever, to recapitulate the feverdream decade; to make this generation proud and inspired...and it doesn't take much. Listen to a wide range of (stunning) music; don't be afraid to try and equal them; get the song titles right and original, and more than anything remember: a phenomenal song begins with a phenomenal composition. So stop playing it safe, and take a risk. By all means stick with guitar, bass and drums; but be bold and daring. If you do, then a new wave of peerless music will be created, and more importantly something much-needed will happen: the sappy, retched boy bands and mainstream core will dissipate (along with their irritating and moronic fan base) and music will once and for all belong to the worthy: isn't that what we all want?!
A quartet of brilliant compositions:
Strawberry Fields Forever (1967)- The Beatles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9r4mJ3aEhHo
Stairway To Heaven (1971)- Led Zeppelin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pPvNqOb6RA
Unfinished Sympathy (1991)- Massive Attack: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nc1SdL3_Xmg
To Build A Home (2007)- The Cinematic Orchestra: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QB0ordd2nOI
"I still don't belong to anyone - I am mine"
Lyrics are my dream girl. The woman at the back of my mind, whom makes me smile and keeps me awake at night. The one that can blow my away with a smile and will never disappoint me. It is a lust and fascination that few people I know, share. A good friend, wonderful woman, and one of the finest human beings I know shares the passion. She is someone who recites, shares and is in love with a brilliant lyric: it is one of the main reasons why I admire her so much. In a larger sense, the lack of this phenomenon is troubling. In the music world there are some notable wordsmiths such as Alex Turner: a man whom has a consistency for quote-worthy lines, memorable snapshots and stunning poetic works. When you think of the greatest lyricists, you may head to the shores of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Morrissey, Neil Young, John Lennon and Joni Mitchell. Over the last couple of decades, artists as diverse of Bjork and Pixies have offered up some rather fascinating and impressive sets of lyrics. Whilst the former can weave tales of innocence, beautiful landscapes and childlike fascination; the latter have a knack for the darker side of life: inbreeding, rape, murder, hatred and repression. Neither act alienates or confuses: both inspire legions of adoring fans and are synonymous with brilliance and originality. I am not sure what percentage of modern songs are written about love, but I am going to say that it is a vast majority. Every song or side of love is new: every human being has a different experience, with a different person; from the perspective of a unique mind. And whilst that is an axiomatic truth, the more worrying truth is this: how many songs do you ever quotes lines from? Historically there are going to be a lot, but recently: how many bands and solo artists inspire your mind and take your breath with their penmanship? I adore Matt Berninger's ability to make the morose and depressive beautiful. He is a man whom dishes out tales of love and longing and imbues them with vast intelligence, wit and fascination; such as:
"Famous angels never come through England England gets the ones you never need I'm in a Los Angeles cathedral Minor singing airheads sing for me"-
England (High Violet)
"Karen, put me in a chair, fuck me and make me a drink I've lost direction and I'm past my peak"
- Karen (Alligator)
"Jo I'll always think of you As the kind of child who knew This was never gonna last"
- Sea of Love (Trouble Will Find Me)
Over the course of six albums, The National's lyricist has peaked a mountain of adversity, trouble and anxiety; and he keeps climbing, determined to conquer the insurmountable. In my mind, he is in the top three modern lyricists. The other two would be Laura Marling and Alex Turner. Below are my favourite two examples for the two- each lyric demonstrates why they are so ahead of their peers:
"Late into the evening They would take each other screaming Looking darkly to the back of her eyes A careless beast was bleating"-
Salinas (A Creature I Don't Know)
"He greets me with kisses When good days deceive him And sometimes with scorn And sometimes I believe him"
- My Manic And I (Alas, I Cannot Swim)
"Fake Tales of San Francisco Echo through the room More point to a wedding disco Without a bride or groom"-
Fake Tales of San Francisco (Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not)
"In my imagination you're waiting lying on your side, With your hands between your thighs"
- 505 (Favourite Worst Nightmare)
I could recite on and on from these holy trinity, but my point is made: a terrific lyric can elevate a song to sainthood. I began writing poetry when I was 10; I was published by aged 16 and have a notebook filled with lines and lyrics; like some sort of huge geek, and you know what: nothing gives me purer pleasure than writing lyrics. There seems to be a correlation between depression and loneliness and lyrical majesty (perhaps Alex Turner is the exception). If you look at the likes of Dylan, Cohen and Morrissey; each of these folks have suffered and gone without sex, love, happiness and satisfaction for large chunks of their life. Break-ups, pain and suicidality has inspired some beautiful and mesmeric lines. I am not suggesting that those well-adjusted, happy or fulfilled cannot pen a line- far from it, in fact. It just seems to be a trend and observation, as most of the greatest lyrics- and as you can see from the above- do not resolve around depression, hate or emptiness: the tormented mind digs deep to introduce something striking and bold. The greatest poets, writers and philosopher's of all-time could be considered insular, lonely and depressed. From my perspective, when you have no arms to wrap around you; few truly contended days, and an upsetting inability to be able to 'fit in' and be a 'normal person', the brain buckles down and the words come out. In a way, lyrics and poetry are a way of communicating where conversation fails: a way of getting out your most honest thoughts and purest emotions without becoming too vulnerable. Music is a sociability that brings greatest rewards for the shy, upset and reclusive. We inferior beasts yearn for love and passion and to wake up with a smile on our face; too few good days arrive and too many dark thoughts creep into our mind. We are people; we are brave and this is how we communicate. I am not comparing myself with the greats (the nerve would be galling!); yet I get things off of my chest and disguise my pain through lyrics; and I wouldn't have it any other way. Too few modern idols pay attention to the vitality of a superb lyric. It is the soul of a song, and get the words right, and you can pretty much win any heart or mind. There is precious little to recommend about today's crop of lyricists. If you subtract the likes of Marling, Berninger, Turner and the much-admired stalwarts of the golden pen: how many other greats can you name? The blank page can be a terrifying place, but is also an opportunity to create something spectacular. As vital as it is to be adventurous with regards to composition; making sure that the words are precise and memorable is of equal importance. There seems to be too many clichés; far too many unspectacular thoughts and half-finished intention. I am always keen to seek out a great writer, and feel that if there were more great lyricists, then more would be inspired to make music and let their inner most desires, demons and witticisms come to life. I have been searching my own annals and notebooks for three personal (if not my best work) examples. They are not my sharpest observations, but examples that make me smile:
"From the dust of the letter scented in lilac dew/The sun touched your face to fool the moon/Well fate's just a word that lovers blame/When the god of music stops playing too soon" - Minnesota
"I got a Christmas card from the city morgue in July/Talking of the weather and enquiring about my health"- Six-Figure Surname
"I'm the murderer in the romantic comedy/The mime artist in the film of the great war/The extra in the lavish musical/Prophet in the epic story of the lord/You can laugh at my condition/If you think it makes you tall/Although my scream is never heard/My silence says it all" - Last To The Trigger, First One To Shoot
"My dying words were the same as my very first" - Vanity Mirror
"It doesn't take a cardiologist/To know that abandoned ships will rust" - Infamy As Child
"You want the kind of love your mother used to love/A common muse for the chosen few/I'm a wallflower in The Tower of Babel/So how could you ever know how much I need you?" - Infamy As Child
A foursome of lyrical awesome:
Tangled Up In Blue (1975)- Bob Dylan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZN4GcOOSfuA
Hallelujah (1994) Jeff Buckley (comp. Leonard Cohen): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIw0ewEsNHs
My Manic And I (2008) Laura Marling: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92QkdzlxeGs
England (2010) The National: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Hl6GnmvMMA
"He who sings scares away his woes."
I shall try and keep the last step of my musical trifecta, brief. It is hard because here is a subject that I am more obsessed with than any other: the human voice. You can keep your fine breasts, killer legs and pert bottom; if a woman has a voice that is seductive, calming or sexy, I can be reduced to a quivering jelly of a man. In my mind (and in a perfect world) the woman whom shared all of my ideologies and theories about music; together with a similar musical taste; and has a gorgeous speaking (or singing) voice, would be damn-near perfect! I have always been curious by the capabilities of the human voice. Having watched endless animated comedies and having performed on a Cambridge stage many years ago; I have heard and witnessed comics adopt a host of accents and personas in order to amuse. On a base level, vocal disguise adds mystery and a certain edge to a human. It gives you the option to be someone different; somebody bolder, better and less fearful. If you extrapolate from that what you will and apply it to music, there is a similar impetrative. Many singers are shy and anxious; in actual life they may seem timid or nervous, yet singing allows a different side of them to be heard: the person whom they want to be; see themselves to be; an identity that is inaccessible in every other form. As much as I have bemoaned the lack of keen wordsmiths; a paucity of innovative composers; my biggest peeve and concern is thus: the scarcity of truly great singers. Historically- once again- there have been plenty of wonderful vocal forces- but what about today? It would be incongruous to say that there are no truly great singers today (and by that I mean new singers; not pre-existing singers whom are still performing). The likes of Adele and Amy Winehouse are- to my mind- the two greatest female singers of the past 10 years. In the modern milieu and arena there are a few brilliant singers. Male newbies such as Sam Smith and Matt Corby seem likely successors to a vacant throne. Where as demigods such as Antony Hegarty seemed to define male vocal brilliance of the late-'90s/early-'00s; today the mantle is up for grabs. I have heard few candidates whom provoke the same sort of reaction and visceral combustibility (as Hegarty). For the female market, there are a lot of pretty wonderful singers, yet few that remain long in the mind. For both men and women, there is a growing trend when it comes to singer. Whether the voice is soulful, powerful, transcendent or unique a couple of exclamation points hove into view. Even if the voice is unique and has a certain potency to it, you often wonder how long will the public react to it? The greatest singers of all time have either had a huge (emotional as well as literal) vocal range; for those whom have a comparatively-limited range (Otis Redding for example) a sheer force and power has personified their lustrous wonder. In 2013- and in fact for the past decade or so- there have been few new singers whom have- or do- posses a wide and multifaceted range, combined with an emotional conviction and unbelievable power. Sans Adele, Winehouse et al.; answer me this: can you name five singers (from the last decade) whom you can say rival the all-time greats? Perhaps it is because I adore the voice; or because I'm a borderline anal obsessive, but I can't help but wonder whether we will live to witness a vocal idol whom can rival the likes of Freddie Mercury, Jeff Buckley, Kate Bush, Marvin Gaye (or even the disreputable scumbag, Axl Rose). Great lyricists are admirable and to be applauded; bold music innovators are to be commended highly; stunning and untouchable singers deserve the secret to eternal life. My attention seems diffuse; I hear a great voice, become enraptured in its charms, only to lose interest by album number two. I crave to bear witness to an artist whom carries a gilded songbook; one whom can compose varied, wonderful melodies and possesses a towering, platinum set of pipes. The last female to do all three consistently is Bjork. She is still performing, yet one suspects that her album-making days are limited. I feel that the last male to be able to achieve this (again with unabated longevity) is Thom Yorke (of Radiohead). Bjork has the extraordinary lungs; a voice that can go from a seductive whisper to an impassioned belt. Her lyrics and music can range from imperious to romantic; giving the eager listener endless joy and fascination. Likewise Mr. Yorke has a voice that can be quivering and vulnerable; yet can transmogrify in all directions; arriving at an animalistic scream. A sharp penman, he can weave tapestries of loneliness, love and mysticism; wrapping it together with multi-layered and intricate compositions. My favourite vocalist of all-time is Freddie Mercury. His voice is a peerless and untouchable force of nature: something that is oft-admired yet never equalled. An underrated songwriter, he has managed to inspire millions, yet seems to be under-represented in terms of modern-day wannabes (maybe a good thing; I'm not sure). Jeff Buckley and Kate Bush complete the other two nominations. Bush has an ethereal and child-like tone that can overwhelm and conquer hearts and minds. Her range is phenomenal; her emotional ground vast and geographical diverse; her glorious pipes a thing of beauty. Mr. Buckley is- to my ears- the possessor of the most beautiful male voice since...well, anyone. Songs such as Hallelujah, Corpus Christi Carol and Dido's Lament demonstrate just how heart-stopping his voice can be. Yet he was also the owner of a voice that could knock you down with its power; have you leaning into the stereo to be in the studio with him, and a twisted tongue that can turn a straight, tattooed, butch bruiser of a man into a sighing, swooning post-coital woman- cigarette in mouth, stains of the bed sheets. If you look at the 'All-time Greatest Singers' lists; consistencies are to be found. The likes of Mercury, Buckley, Bush, Axl Rose, Robert Plant, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Elvis etc. are to be found. Some polls include modern idols such as Amy Winehouse; older gods such as Roy Orbison, Chris Cornell and Paul McCartney. I scan the electronic pages looking for a modern example (between the year 2000-today), yet come away disappointed. Modern talent shows compound the problem. Presided over by vapid judges whom parade desperate fame-hunting morons, each copycatting an existing singer; none of them worth their weight in horse manure. Their nauseating sob stories and talentless minds brainwash an audience (mostly young women between 11-18) that this is the epitome of the modern-day singer: this is the best we can hope for, Perhaps there are- again- legends-in-waiting that can extinguish my cynicism: writing songs as I speak, ready to unleash their firestorm voices onto the waiting public- I may be a little too hopeful. There is so much potential and possibility that a singer can achieve and proffer. There is too much focus on having a 'singular and unique' voice- something that is a signature sound- that there are limitations and an inbuilt obsolescence. Why can't a singer have a voice that is capable of operatic glory; Grunge rawness; seductive beauty and all-conquering elasticity? Again, I think it is fear (as opposed to a lack of talent) that is negating this drought. On a planet where seven million humans call home, surely there is at least one human being that can allay my reticence, and dispel a large and unwieldy public dissatisfaction? It would be arrogant of me to say I could be that one: the who-gives-a-crap purveyor whom stretches their voice in all directions, regardless of what people will think and how it will be perceived. I can say, however, that I have that ambition. I feel that getting the music side of things right- being a restless composer capable of endless shades and styles- is paramount and the biggest first step. Someone who can get some original song titles together; songs that posses lines of grace, wit, raw emotion, vast intelligence (not in the same song necessarily, but over the course of an album for example) will be ahead of the game. Throw in the third and final facet of vocal prowess: an instrument that can do and say anything- in order to match the associative lyrical and musical imperialism, and you have yourself a solution. It is not that far-fetched to think that if one new artist could achieve this (I can name no new artist whom truly achieves this), this could inspire a wave of a followers to do likewise; and before you know what, the barrel-scrapers and here-for-the-hell-of-itsers (sic.) are relegated and buried, and a retrograde phenomenon is born: a new '90s for the 21st century. I have a list of all the things I want to do with my voice- and can do now. Attached to existing singers, the list below is something I want to disseminate over the course of an album: not in a copycat way, but take the elements from the singers and pull them together. I see the voice as a paint colour chart; as a cocktail list. My speaking voice is okay, I guess. Deep, convincing and- I have been told a few times- sensual. If I translate that to music then it comes across as rather directionless; pleasant enough, yes, but not a world-beater. I have such an ambition when it comes to words and music, that the voice has to be, not just an equal; but better. On a paint chart you have hundreds of different names for colours; yellow, blues, greens and reds given unique and weird names. It is amazing to think how many variations one can choose for something as simple and basic as paint. In the same way, cocktail menus have a similar charm and mystery. All sorts of innuendo-laden, bizarre and eye-catching names are given to various alcoholic brews; a menu filled with flavoursome-cum-decorative allure. I think every singer should aim as high as possible. By identifying what your voice is capable of, you can push and stretch it; build it up and make it as varied as possible. If you can achieve a great deal with the voice it causes a chain reaction: the musical palette adapts and matches the ambition, creating a wealth of diverse and wonderful songs; the words range greatly too: soulful and romantic lust mingles with raw-throated belt; pin-sharp falsetto cohabits with feminine beauty and tenderness. Why would anyone not want to?
Male pop/rock: Jeff Buckley, Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson, Tim Buckley, Tom Waits, Roy Orbison, Hayden Thorpe, Thom Yorke, Josh Homme, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jim Morrison, Roger Daltrey, Sam Smith, Matt Corby, Matt Bellamy.
Male Grunge/heavy metal: Robert Plant, Ron Halford, Axl Rose, Chris Cornell, Frank Black, Ian Gillian.
Male soul: Prince, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Smokey Robinson, James Brown, Antony Hegarty. Male miscellaneous: Captain Beefheart, Pavarotti, Howlin' Wolf, Screamin' Jay Hawkins.
Female pop/rock: Kate Bush, Eva Cassidy, Bjork.
Female soul: Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin.
Female miscellaneous: Yma Sumac, Claire Torry.
Other: Between 900-950 other voices/singers (male and female).
Octaves (estimate): 5-6
3+1, of singing fun:
These Arms of Mine (1962)- Otis Redding: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqVrNK4uiB4
The Great Gig In The Sky (1973)- Pink Floyd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeWavBBeVmE
The Show Must Go On (1991)- Queen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ADh8Fs3YdU
Human Behaviour (1993)- Bjork: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDbPYoaAiyc
The aim of this blog was not to showcase any of my wild claims and over-ambition (I'm negotiating here); moreover it is to show what needs to happen in order for progression to occur in music. Stagnation and insipidness are bywords for a majority of new music. A band or solo artist may posses a charm, a sense of immediacy and a fascination; yet after a while those initial plus points equate to immobility and predictability. There is so much disposability and fickleness within the industry that I would love to see someone (or many) come along whom can rival the greats: those whom have the potential to last for years and years; get inside your head and wet the tongue. Music need not be complicated. A song boils down to the three pillars of music, lyrics and voice. There is a lot of mobility and potential within these spheres, yet the ability to be able to succinctly dominate all three is not as hard as one might imagine. Listening to music that you would normally not do so; trying to do something different with your voice; taking pen to paper and writing down each line that comes to mind (however small) are all vital and admirable necessities. Away from the legends and established greats, the new music scene is awash with pretenders and hard-working musicians- whom have to share stage space and airtime with some rather loathsome cockroaches. The lists of the greatest singers, lyricists, musicians, bands; solo artists, songs and lines are dominated by older acts. You get a fair deal of late-'90s/early-'00s examples- if you are really lucky you may get some relatively-current entries too. That said, there is still a dominance of '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s acts; little has changed over the past 10 years. Check out the lists and search your mind and C.D. collection and I dare you to defy me. A few modern artists can fascinate- I have mentioned the likes of Q.O.T.S.A., Marling and The National- but my record collection is largely composed of your Queen, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Radiohead, Kate Bush and Nina Simones: music that never disappoints and remains timeless. I have reviewed- in these very pages- some incredible new acts: ranging from Swedish disco-electronic acts; U.S. rock acts and home-grown brilliance. I am in regular contact with a lot of brilliant new U.K. acts, all of whom I am hopeful will dominate the music scene in 2014. My disappointment is not aimed towards them- not even for a single second. They are acts giving me renewed hope; I guess my depression is aimed towards the great majority: the music that you and I hear on a daily basis. I am annoyed at myself that I have not put voice to tape and proved my own self-worth: although I have obstacles, and trust me, I will get there soon enough! I am 30 years old now, and have been song writing for 12 years (or so). I still do not think I have hit my peak, and constantly work to hone my lyrics to make them as staggering and inspiring as possible. Many people get lyrics tattooed onto their bodies: I want someone to do that with one of my lines/songs. I cannot compose or play music (or read or write it); yet keep compositions, riffs and melodies in my brain; my ambitions are hugely over-the-top yet it is not something I am going to sublimate and temporise. My voice is- as well as being bizarre and strange- something I want to keep as it is: varied and a strange child. I will not stop and be content until the first album I release is something that is as a result of blood, tears, sweet, pain and endless endeavour. I think every artist and new act needs to come in that hard; to aim for the all-time greats (in terms of the greatest songs, albums and voices etc.): not be content to do what is expected, but to aim for what is uncommon. I'll end my rant and thesis, but I hope that it gets through to someone at least. I love music more than anything in the world, and have a knot in my stomach: I think I may live to see the day where all of the all-time greats have passed, and in their place are comparative minnows. I hope it is just the wet weather talking, but only time will tell! I am hoping to return to reviewing very soon, but feel compelled to work on my own material; try to figure a way I can summon the money, band mates, confidence and determination to realise my long-held dreams and ambitions...
Personally... I cannot wait to join the (overcrowded) scene.