Archive for the “Articles and Blogs” Category

I’ve been enjoying BLDGBLOG recently. This is Pete’s fault, as it’s his mentioning of it at some point that led to me subscribing. Recent posts have contained some truly beautiful ideas, including tactile maps, and a ship that was deliberately frozen into the Arctic ice.

This led directly to a sketch for a possible song entitled ‘Last Sunlight’ that I might, possibly finish at some point. Possibly.

Last Sunlight

The lyrics can be seen over at my brand new little site www.tomslatter.co.uk.

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The last couple of days have consisted of nothing but web design, and I am rather knackered.

To get me through this marathon bout of webigami, I have taken inspiration from several sources:-

1. Bandcamp, Soundcloud and the Portability of Music

This is a post by Steve Lawson, solo bass player extraordinaire. In it he talks about bandcamp and how a great a tool it is.

You upload your tunes in CD-quality audio format, and then they make all the different resolutions of file that people might want, and let you decide what to do with them, which ones to charge for, how to licence the music, and then redesign the page. The results are then embeddable, sharable and sellable. It’s brilliant. If you’re selling MP3s online, you need BandCamp. Simple As.

He’s right, it’s great, and so I have been uploading Comrade Robot music to it and I’m pretty impressed so far.

Here is some of Mr Lawson’s music:

2. Ben Walker’s Website

I interviewed Ben for my songwriting website a while ago, and I’ve been consistently impressed with how well he does the internet. He knows all about how twitter should work, and his site is attractive and easy to use. I also think his songs are great, and really funny.

Here’s his latest album, which claims not to be one.

3. Matt Stevens’ Echo

Another indie musician who does the internet well, and who makes great music. Matt clearly listens to a lot fo the same guitarists as me. In particular I can hear a lot of Robert Fripp in his playing, which can only be a good thing. Listening to his stuff has also given me a hankering to go and buy a looping pedal at some point…

Here’s some music:



Quantcast

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Labels need artists more than artists need labels. Without artists, labels would just be releasing shiny plastic discs with no sound on them

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Last Thursday we played a gig at the White Hart pub near Whitechapel. We were last and had the not unusual experience of playing to a largely empty pub as most of the previous acts and their friends/fans left before we started playing, or halfway through. We were left only with the people who had come to see us, who are lovely, but aren’t that numerous.

We did get to play to some new people, but I have to admit the experience left me a little frustrated. We’ve played quite a few gigs on the acoustic circuit in London, with several promoters and even with the best of them, there is a theme:

  • The acts are all treated as individual mini-shows, rather than the whole night being a show
  • Promoters tally up how many fans each act brings along, and if you’re very lucky you might bring enough people to earn your train fare for the night.
  • Before the gig happens it is almost impossible to find the other acts online. Last gig we played after Mercy who has a great voice and was very enjoyable, another act called Branded Number 1 who I still can’t find on the internet, and some great acts in the open mic before the main show. I would have liked to hear their stuff before the gig, but even in this internet age there seem to be very few acts doing the internet thing even vaguely right.

The upshot is that half the people on these gigs never play to anyone new, and might as well have invited their friends to their front room and performed there.

This all leaves me thinking we should try doing things a little differently and find ways to encourage co-operation between acts. This may involve my pursuading Pete that we should start promoting or co-promoting our own gigs.

Name!

Also, we’re thinking of changing our name, as the well known On a Friday once did. Not sure what to yet, but what with the new album complete, it seems time for a reset on what we’re doing.

More soon, so watch this space.

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Via The Daily Stuff Report:

…it doesn’t seem like a stretch to see this bad boy crush his patients in half! Is this how the robot uprising will begin?

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Via a post on the blog A Modern Girl’s Guide to the Apocalypse, I learn of the Zombie Emergency Kit.

This, of course, is a vital accessory and I shall be purchasing several to be placed strategically around my flat, and place of work. I agree absolutely with Miss Famine’s sentiment:

We all know about fire safety, and earthquake kits to store in your car, and bunkers for BOTH tornadoes and nuclear fall out. But now it’s time to step it up. I’m making it my personal mission to get one or more of these Zombie Emergency Kits installed in every home and public building.

Zombies are dear to both my heart and Pete’s, and while we sing of dancing with them, we are aware of the dangers. That’s why I shall also be acquiring a Zombie Defense Station, a far more serious bit of kit:

Geekologie tells me that this is the latest in Zombie Defense Equipment.

I certainly wouldn’t deny these wise words:

Seriously folks, you just never know when you might have to go all Resident Evil on a gang of undead humans hellbent on having you for dinner.

There are clearly a great many sensible people out there, preparing and helping others prepare for the coming showdown with the shuffling undead hordes. This brings me some small measure of comfort.

Our Zombie Song – Just Sleeping

As you begin your plans and preparations, I shall leave you with our Zombie song, ‘Just Sleeping’:

Download Just Sleeping

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Via the Richard Dawkins Website. Thanks, Dawkins.

Thawkins

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There have been a lot of people talking recently about the death of the album. So many, there’s even an article on the subject in the Christian Science Monitor (Christians and science? What?).

Personally, I find this distressing because I listen to albums, as albums. I like them! Pearl Jam’s Ten, Mansun’s Six, Bowie’s Outside, Dream Theater’s Awake, Metallica’s Master of Puppets, all of these are amongst my favourite albums, and I have always listened to them as a complete work.

My favourite works of popular music all fit together as roughly forty minutes to an hour’s worth of coherent music. I like them that way, and as an artistic statement, I don’t see that anything’s changed.

Business Case?

I don’t know about the business case, though it seems to me that there are differing views on this. Scott Perry of the New Music Tipsheet says they make financial sense, Bob Lefsetz says they don’t.

But I’m a fan!

What I do know is that there are plenty of us out there, the real music fans, who don’t just listen to the hits. I’ve never listened to music radio, I don’t see what it’s for at all. First you have DJs, as if the concept of someone stupider than me babbling crap between songs could be entertaining, but worst of all you only get the latest single or biggest hit from any given band, invariable with the beginning and ending cut off.

Useless. Pointless. You hear the hook, but it doesn’t hook you in, because we’ve changed to the next song.

The point of the hook is to get you interested enough to put the effort in and discover the larger work. Having a random pop hook stuck in your head, knowing forty such random hooks, is not what being a fan is about. The fan is the person who puts on their headphones, lays on their bed and listening to every note beginning to end, losing themselves in the music. The fan is the person who lets go of seconds and minutes in favour of beats and bars, so that an hour of their time isn’t an hour at all, but a space of time and emotion totally dictated by the music.

I don’t want to do that for a catchy riff and three goes round the chorus. I want the mix of pace, the build, the development of a larger work.

Something very similar happens with the live set. Any musican will tell you that playing live is less about the individual songs and more about the mixture of pace, key and emotion to create a space in time. Albums do that too. I don’t want to lose it, and I don’t see why we should.

Organising principles.

Steven Hodson tells me ‘the majority of musicians still only produce one or two good songs per CD’. CDs have always been full of filler, with countless bands managing a decent single or two, and then hours of crap. Does that invalidate the album as an artistic concept? No more than a bad tv series invalidates the notion of a tv season as an artistic statement. Sure, there are crap albums, I own shelves of them, but I don’t see what that has to do with the artistic merits of the form.

To be fair, the first article I read on the subject only said albums might end as an organising princple, and Steven Hodson in the above article says albums will stay if ‘musicians provide enough value for fans so that they are willing to pay for an album’.

Albums were never the only organising principle. The live concert is an organising principle, as are listener generated ideas like the mixtape and the playlist. I will even grudingly admit that playlists chosen by DJs might be acceptable to some people. And yes, the internet is opening up new possibilities in terms of regular updates, more frequent smaller collections. Even singles have a place for those that like them, though I never have.

Just don’t tell me albums are dead, because I love them, and I’d rather a few more were made.

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I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

I  regularly listen to the Bugle podcast, and last week John Oliver sang a version of ‘Holding out for a Hero’, albeit with lyrics changed to reflect Bill Clinton’s recent exploits in North Korea.

It seemed a reasonable use of my time, having nothing to do but await the inevitable and firey doom that will surely soon come to us all, to add a backing to Mr Oliver’s vocal rendition.

You see, I love Jim Steinman. I love his songs beyond reason.

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It ain’t so bad, it ain’t so bad.

Download Dance, dance, dance.

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