Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Preview: Jamie Cullum, Japan, 2006

Being a jazz musician is a mixed blessing. You get to be cool, but, in return, you are expected to remain underappreciated and known only to a few musical cognoscenti. If you ever get to the point of being famous enough to be recognized outside a smoky jazz club, then you have basically blown it.

Since hitting the big time in 2003 with Twentysomething, an album of covers that made him the biggest selling UK jazz artist of all time, the 26-year-old singer and multi instrumentalist, has been labeled a "Sinatra in Sneakers" and "the David Beckham of Jazz." Comparisons with legendary crooner Frank Sinatra and the current captain of the England football team might not seem so negative, but the connotation of these terms is that Cullum is jazz-lite being packaged for a bunch of kids who know nothing about it, and, in the case of the Beckham comparison, superficial and overrated.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

MTV Japan’s Local Globalization Awards


It's generally agreed that the first MTV Japan awards held at Yurakucho's International Forum in late May [2002] were less than a perfect success. Scheduled for a 7pm kick-off, the show started half an hour late, possibly because of a sudden torrential downpour. Just like the early stages of the World Cup, many of the seats remained unfilled, while some of the guests who did turn up could be seen nodding off in the lengthy pauses that dragged proceedings out by one and a half hours to finish well after midnight.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Album Review: White Trash, "White Trash"

This is the first offering from New York quartet WHITE TRASH, and if you like your metal funked up then this is the album for you.

Kicking off with Apple Pie the band ease us thru thirteen tracks including the sassy Po' White Trash, and the excellent Backstage Pass which shows the band at its best, proving that they have their finger on the pulse of what's going on in music right now.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Interview: Harry Cody, Shotgun Messiah


This month sees the release of SHOTGUN MESSIAH's second album, the aptly titled Second Coming, and a mighty fine record it is at that. Originally from Sweden, the band re-located to the States after being signed by Relativity Records. Their first album, simply called Shotgun Messiah was then re-mixed and re-released to great critical acclaim. But then the vocalist Zinny J. Zan left the band for time-honoured 'musical differences,' to be replaced by the band's bass player Tim Skold! Guitarist Harry Cody takes up the story.

"Well, I met Tim back in '83/84, I think. He was the local weirdo on the scene together with me, and, I dunno, we just drifted together. We needed musicians, so in '85 we found Stixx, our drummer, and started playing Metal covers and stuff. In late '85 we started writing our own songs and since then we've been trying to find the right singer. It really didn't gel until we had Tim try out the vocals. It really clicked."

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Self-Loathing Whiteys of Rock (1): John Densmore

"Baby, you can't light my fire unless you're Black (or Joe Cocker)"

One of the great myths that the 60s counter culture — which is, of course, now the mainstream culture — was that of the "soulful" Black singer and the "soulless" White singer. According to this myth, only Black singers could ever get in touch with the "deep soul" of the cosmos and express the pain, passion, and profundity of the human condition in song, with occasional exceptions merely proving the rule.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Revenge Recommends: "Second Skin" by The Chameleons

The bass rumble and chiming, echoey guitars of Manchester post-punkers the Chameleons captured in the band's glory days in 1984 at the Camden Palace, followed by a short product placement for Ribena.

Preview: Tina Egan

Irish-born vocalist Tina Egan in conjunction with songwriter/ producer Brian Marshall has written more than an album's worth of tunes, four of which feature on a demo tape currently kicking around the business.

Album Review: Iron Maiden, "The Final Frontier"

You could never accuse Iron Maiden of selling out. So loyal are they to their roots and riff structures that they've taken the meat of their origins and developed it into a symphony of staggering conceptual brilliance.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Album Review: Simple Minds, "Big Music"

Ever since their fledgling days in late 70's Glasgow, Simple Minds have always had a restless quality at the heart of their music. In the post-punk musical landscape of that era, it was the propulsive bass lines of Derek Forbes that dominated their off-kilter but curiously engaging mix of avant-garde krautrock that soon bloomed into the shimmering, transcendant romanticism of New Gold Dream, which in turn led to the thunderous, harder edged clatter of Sparkle In The Rain, and culminated in their commercial peak, with the polished glamour of the arena-friendly rock of Once Upon A Time.

Big Music, their 16th album, draws a lot upon their past glories, but for the most part does so wisely and effectively, sometimes with stunning aplomb. They embrace their past whilst looking ahead, and this alchemy of sound and attitude has arguably created their best album in 30 years.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Preview: Ornette Coleman, Japan, 2006

Some jazz legends have a big impact at the time, but as the years pass their influence gradually diminishes until it is forgotten. This is not the case with alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman, coming to Japan for his first series of concerts here in 20 years. In that time his influence has continued to grow, not only within jazz, but also among avant rock musicians, including the likes of Mars Volta, Japan's own Date Course Pentagon Royal, and even the mighty Radiohead.