Musical matters

Thanks to the wife Skypeing friends in the UK, when I came to use Harold this evening, I found the chunky Skype headset still plugged in. Bonus.
Whilst I look pretty daft beneath said headset (but there’s no-one here to see me anyway), it provides surprisingly good sound quality and since I don’t get as much chance to listen to decent music as loudly as I would like to, I’m taking the opportunity to get reacquainted with Koosh’s favourite man, Jared Leto, and his 30 Seconds to Mars cronies.

This in turn brings back memories of My Cokefest and that in turn reminded me of Koosh’s heartfelt plea to her readers to not join the Facebook group concerned with objecting to those local residents who complained about the noise of this years event. Still with me?
I was going to show you that post, but she’s deleted it. Shame.

My wife, 5 months pregnant and a self-confessed hater of “shouty music” spent 12 hours in the burning African sun that day, listening solely to “shouty music” and humouring me as Matt Bellamy dissolved me into a quivering jelly of raw emotion.  Such is love. Unconditional love. (Me and the wife, not me and Matt.)

Or so I thought.

It turns out that there was (at least) one condition. A biggie. And yes, in exactly a fortnight’s time I will be at Grand West Arena watching (and – sadly – listening to) James Blunt. Through gritted teeth, I admit that it could be worse. But not even my wife, despite her bizarre musical tastes, would stoop so low as Sicky Dion or we wouldn’t be married.
“Are you a Sicky Dion fan?” was usually my second question to any eligible young lady, right after “So, do you come here often?”. Best to get those awkward and embarrassing things out of the way as soon as possible.
So there you have it. James Blunt. I wonder if I can sneak my iPod in?

Meanwhile, I’m sat here waiting for my download of MGMT’s brilliant Oracular Spactacular to complete. Specifically the Flaming Lips/Polyphonic Spree-esque Time to Pretend with its übercatchy keyboard riff. Here, in a Fleet of Worlds stylee, is the video for your perusal. Enjoy.  
youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVnRzEjpUmE

P.S. If you have 102MB of bandwidth to spare (i.e you’re not in South Africa), a hi-res copy of this video is available here (right click/save target as). Awesome.

How did I miss Richard Hawley?

One of the most difficult things about emigrating is keeping up with things back home. Sure, you want to embrace the new lifestyle and the culture of your new home, but that doesn’t mean that you should completely lose touch with the land of your birth.

And thus, when I find myself watching Sky News and finding out about a musician I’ve never heard of – the surprise nominee for the Best Solo Male at the upcoming BRIT Awards – and he’s from Sheffield, I know I’m letting it slip a bit.

Richard Hawley is 41 years old* and has been working in music for years as a session musician for the likes of REM, Gwen Stafani, Nancy Sinatra, All Saints and Arctic Monkeys.
His first solo album came out in 2000 – long before I left the UK, but he’s achieved little commercial success. His albums to date have all had a Sheffield reference to them, including his 2007 offering Lady’s Bridge, promoted by the release of special edition Henderson’s Relish bottles. Too cool.

But it was his comments on Sheffield’s steel industry that made me laugh. He, like me, gets a little depressed and nostalgic when he goes to Kelham Island Museum. As he points out:

Working in Sheffield’s steel industry was a job that had dignity.
Can you see there being Call Centre Museums in 30 years time?

“Look, that’s where your dad plugged ‘is phone in”
“I can remember, me laptop used t’ sit rate ‘ere”

No, because those jobs don’t have dignity. No-one wants to remember them.  

As for the music – Roy Orbison meets Jarvis Cocker, Morrissey and Nick Cave. Perhaps a little Country/Folky/Pub Crooner for some, but it’s worth a listen anyway. Plenty to watch and listen to on YouTube.

I won’t mention his taste in football clubs. He has none.

* so getting on a bit… (P.S. Hi Ant! *grin*)