Thursday, December 11, 2008

Google mail offering SMS Text Messaging

Official Gmail Blog: SMS Text Messaging for chat

The Egodeity has laboured long and hard to get his casual computer using accomplices to defer to his enlightened technological advances. 'Switch to Apple', 'use Firefox', 'everybody uses Facebook now', and for a long time 'get a Gmail account'. Sometimes financial issues would halt his conversions, other times it would be fear of the unknown. Most often it was just laziness, with most people just content with struggling with what they've got.

Now though, Gmail is offering a truly spectular update - one that is surely newsworthy (in the youth-orientated radio stations' "...and finally" sort of way) - free SMS from within webmail. At GBP0.10 per text message the best offer in Britain, and more and more people getting web-based phones, this update gives the consumer a nice little pin to prick at the cell phone companies with, given their unchallenged oligopical extortion over the last decade or so.

Unfortunately, Google retains it's almost self-defeating Amero-centricity, and is only rolling the service out in the United States. They have a few little in-jokes, such as all texts eminate from the l33tish 406 area code (Goo if you look at it right), but once a number is assigned to a particular address, it is assigned permanently and indivually to that address, so it can be saved as a phone number on a friend's phone. Particularly nifty. However, it does raise the spectre that they will run out of numbers to assign very quickly.

Anyway, the egodeity looks forward to this rolling out to these shores, and will plug it like a fiend until he converts SOMEone to the magesty that is Google's web-based mail service.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Of Montreal - Koko. 16 October, 2008

First off, I want to express my disgust at the venue itself, Koko. The building itself is beautiful, and maintains an intimacy that some venues lose, but the running of it was incredibly frustrating.
A tin of beer was £3.60, and was still warm and flat, and barely filled half the disposable pint tumbler it was served in.

Now to the music. The remaining support band, Eugene McGuinness (the other band pulled out because the singer had pneumonia), were sub-Kooks indie, and didn't really compliment the originality of the headliners. In fact they were boring. In between the band's sets, the in house DJ was more interested in showing off how eclectic his record collection was than trying to embrace the mood of the audience.

So it was with great relief that of Montreal took to the stage, carrying on Alice Cooper's philosophy that the performer must entertain the audience. A motley collection of be-costumed dancers paraded the stage throughout the show, involving tigers fighting birds, Kevin Barnes being stripped and doused in red paint, as if being prepared for a human sacrifice by bald, silver-headed cultists.

The set involved two half hour segments of uninterrupted music, with not even intervals to check the setlist, although most of the songs were from the as-yet-unreleased Skeletal Lamping, and thus were unfamiliar to most of the crowd (myself included). The crowd was fully into the gig though, as evidenced by the mosh-lite pits forming during Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse.

Very little dialogue was entered into by the band, but when it was, the guitarist tongue-in-cheek admitted to wanking off to the image of own sister. It's these little moments that made the gig so unique (for me anyway).

The encore was a triumph as well, finishing off with a surprise inclusion (although I personally was in on the secret, having read this) of Smells Like Teen Spirit. That went down a storm and rounded off one of the best gigs I have ever been to. I'm just pissed off I forgot to bring my camera.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Death Cab for Cutie, Brixton Academy, July 17, 2008 - review

Death Cab for Cutie, originally uploaded by macca7174.

This is the first time I've really been disappointed by a gig I was looking forward, but it was not fault of the band, or the sound guys, or the bouncers, or any of the usual let-downers - it was the despicably static crowd that attended the event. No doubt, I later attributed, down to the fact that I felt like one of the older people there - by a good six to eight years. I'm 22.

The band were actually brilliant, with a newly de-specled Ben Gibbard sporting a new Jack White-a-like haircut, and jumping around manically, frantically trying to inject some energy into the crowd - to little avail.

The set-list couldn't be faulted either, with them playing songs from throughout their career, and I was expecting when the newer ones kicked in, the crowd might consider moving a little, so I could sneak a few rows forward toward the front. Dream on, James.

The only song that elicited a response from the crowd that suggested they weren't all mannequins, or the Children of the Damned, was, understandably, I Will Follow You Into The Dark. While Ben played the song faultlessly, the crowd sang along in full flow, and it actually felt more like I was in a public gathering enjoying Death Cab's music, not a wake.

The band did express an appreciation for the crowd, but I feel it was more out of manners, than a genuine expression of gratitude. Or maybe they were appreciative of a crowd that did take the effort to listen intently - in which case, my jumping and singing was completely out of place, and unwelcome. Or all their gigs are like this, which I would find soul destroying as a band member.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Yndi Halda and Olufur Arnulds at the Barbican - review

So now Yndi have played what is unquestionably the biggest gig of their career so far - which is surely about to kick into gear given that all five members are now able to commit themselves to being in the same place at the same time for most of the foreseeable future. Even though their were the support act, they showed an ambition that suggests that that is not a role they will be reveling in for long.

Of the new song, it was a departure of sorts, but not one that could be immediately mistaken for anyone but Yndi, and James has now upped his instrumental repotoire to include the piano. The song was not titled, and was only one of two songs not lifted from their debut album, Enjoy Eternal Bliss, which may be considered a disappointment, given that James has stated on record that they are looking to expand their music from that era, which was written when they were "children".

However, the songs that we are all familiar with were all there, and it may have been a bit of a tightrope walk to proceed without them. Dash and Blast was the opener, and was the surprise of the night, with a chorus of vocalists taking to the stage (clumsily if one was being particularly harsh), to chant the closing coda's da-da "barks" (as the band has facetiously referred to them).

There was a full on light show choreographed with the music, illustrating the aforementioned ambition, and James (standing at my side of the stage) was on full form, jumping around, posing like a true hair metal guitar hero of the eighties, albeit with more musical integrity.

Olufar Arnalds was the headliner, and to be honest, was disappointing. His piano playing accompanied by the string quartet was intriguing and produced some undeniably beautiful music, but I couldn't shake the feeling that he was a one trick pony. Only the coda of one song branched out to include a considerably distinctive section during his whole set. If he can expand his sound more, it would be more palatable sitting through one hour plus of it.

Update (July 18, 2008): The band have since informed me that The new song (which is in the video) is entitled This Very Flight, and what had previously been entitled Pinch of Lynch, is now La Lumiere Lit.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bobby McGee's and Dufus to share a stage!!

In what is the best news of the day so far (in a day that will later include a trip to the Barbican to see Yndi), it has transpired that the Egodeist favourites, Dufus and The Bobby McGee's are to play on the same bill.

Hosted by Human Error on Monday 30th June, the event is taking place in The George Tavern, Whitechapel (373 Commercial Road, E1 0LA to avoid confusion with all the other George Taverns in London). Other acts on the lineup include Baron Bum Blood and Old Bamboo.

Also, even in these crunchy credit times, the ticket price, at £4, is unlikely to stir the cockles of many investment bankers (at least for now).

Buy tickets from

Check back tomorrow for a review (and possibly pics) of the Yndi Halda gig

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Meet Me in St. Louis R.I.P.

While doing my Foundation year at Surrey Institute of Art and Design (now known as the University College for the Creative Arts), one of my classmates was Ollie from the highly thought of post hardcore band, Meet Me in St. Louis. Their debut album, Variations on Swing was lauded across the board, as this poster illustrates:

However, their success was short-lived, and they announced their split last month. In a sort of parting tribute, I have uploaded two of their singles from their first E.P., And With the Right Kind of Eyes, You Can Almost See the High Water Mark, That Place Where the Wave Finally Broke and Rolled Back (named for the famous quote from the Hunter S Thompson book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas). Marvel, and get a glimpse at how greta they could have become.

Meet Me in St Louis - I am Champagne and You Are Shit.mp3
Meet Me in St Louis - The Kid Who Got His Ear Slapped By the Druggist.mp3

Buy Meet Me... from their Myspace.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

James Yuill - White Crow mp3

I caught James Yuill at a record label showcase about two or three years ago, in Whitechapel, on the lineup with Catherine Anne Davies. At the time he was mixing his acoustic set with Aphex Twin-like samples from a laptop he had by his side, so when I purchased his cd, I was slightly miffed by the fact that this sampling innovation was the exception (on the hidden track), while the rest of the songs were him and his guitar for the most part.
However, the album (The Vanilla Disc) was actually great, and has been eating up my iPod space for ages. I sporadically checked back to see what he was up to in the intervening period, but not much was materialising (it didn't occur to me to join the mailing list - d'uh), so when I randomly checked back today, I was greeted with a whole newly designed web site, along with the news that he released a new album - in January 2007. According to his site, he was even invited along for a BBC Radio 1 session, and had a slot at the 1 Big Weekend (video and pics from BBC website).
Well, as the blogs have noted, now he has got a new single out, No Surprise (link to Rough Trade online Shop), released as a vinyl (no good to me, I need to settle into a house long enough to justify the purchase of a turntable...), and limited to 500 copies - although it's unclear how many are left.

The mp3 I am providing is from his first album, and its a gorgeous song, White Crow, more typical of his early works than the new folktronica direction he has taken since. Listen out for more of him in the near future, and I intend to keep on top of news of him in coming weeks, so watch this space.

MP3: James Yuill - White Crow.mp3
Buy James from his website shop

Saturday, May 10, 2008

New Bobby McGee's song

The upcoming Indietracks Festival in Derby is setting up to announce it's headliners on May 11, but until then, their blog has been interviewing their other acts, including perennial Egodeity favourites, The Bobby McGee's. I've actually been a bit slow off the mark with this one, since the interview was conducted in March, but it was the first one they had done. and I've been busy.

Among the revelations from the discussion with Jimmy, is that he was a former cage fighter (!), and El has designed clothes for Heather Mills(-McCartney).

The site also has an mp3 from the band, called Not whole, 1/2 of something. Among the notable aspects of the song - about being "sick of being single" - is that the percussion is provided by Lego, and instead of El singing, it is Jimmy's 10-year-old ukulele student providing co-vocals, as well as uke duties. The pupil (named as a Louis) is unlikely to be performing the song live, and it doesn't take much to envisage El's childlike singing taking his place.

Buy Bobby's at Cherryade Music
Buy Indietracks tickets from their Official Website

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Catherine Anne Davies - Long Year mp3

Catherine Anne Davies
Originally uploaded by macca7174
Catherine Ann Davies is making a lot of waves around the London music scene. Currently the Emerging Artist in Residence in the South Bank Centre, she has also made an appearance on Nitin Sawhney records. She has recently announced her first "proper headline show" (tickets can be purchased here and here) at the Bush Hall, London on August 7th. With a debut album in the pipeline, here's a sample of this gothic-voiced songstress, with one of her earlier numbers [Link removed at the request of the artist - May 2014].

buy Catherine from her Official Site and Rough Trade

Friday, April 04, 2008

Yndi Halda announce new gigs.

Fresh off the grapevine, Yndi Halda has today announced plans to perform new songs at a gig in the Barbican centre on the 20th of June.

Also on the lineup is Ólafur Arnalds, the Icelandic ambience specialist.

Details are sketchy so far, but tickets can be purchased now from the Barbican website for £10/£15/£20.

James has also told me that they are planning to record the new album during summer, and are currently writing the new tracks. Can't wait.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

David Cronenberg's Wife - Runaway Pram mp3

David Cronenberg's Wife
Originally uploaded by macca7174
David Cronenberg's Wife are one of the most active bands on the London antifolk scene at the moment, and with a new album on the way, here is a taste of what you can expect from this morbidly fascinating three-piece.

mp3 David Cronenberg's Wife - Runaway Pram.mp3

Buy DCW from their website

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dufus - How I Whistle mp3

Originally uploaded by macca7174
Dufus have been around for over ten years now, and have toured with literally dozens of members. Their 12th (!) album, King Astronaut was released in December 07, and this is one of the lead tracks from it.

Seth, the mainstay of the group (who also has four solo albums in that time), has indicated that Dufus will probably be slowed down in the next few years, so he can care for his new daughter. We wish him all the best, and hope he can return at some stage with more great Dufus material!

Mp3: Dufus - How I Whistle

Buy Dufus from Iron Man records and their website.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Bobby McGee's - 'Bambi Eyes' and 'Audrey Tatou'

The Bobby McGee's
Originally uploaded by macca7174
The Bobby McGee's are probably my favourite unsigned band. They affiliate themselves with the London/Brighton Antifolk movements, and play darkly humourous songs of psychotic domestic (un?)bliss.

They also have a mischievous take on instrumentation - a cello being the only 'traditional' instrument on show, amid the toy-looking ukeleles and melodicas.

These are two of their better songs, Bambi Eyes, and Audrey Tatou/Albert Camus.

MP3: Bobby McGee's - Bambi Eyes.mp3
MP3: Bobby McGee's - Audrey Tatou/Albert Camus.mp3

buy Bobby's at Cherryade Records

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Yndi Halda - Pinch of Lynch live mp3 " thing ever"

Thanks to Fruitier Than Thou for the live recording. I used Switch to convert his wma to mp3.

Zipped Mp3: Yndi Halda - Pinch of Lynch (live) (no pass req'd) - right-click, then select Save Target As (or similar, depending on Browser).

This is a recording from Yndi's November 2007 show in the Luminaire, London. It was their last gig in England of 2007 before they began writing a new album. The track ends with the infamous "That was the best thing ever" rant from the audience.

Buy Yndi from Big Scary Monsters records.
Official site

Update (8 April 2008): The band has asked me to say that this is a work in progress and that the song is not completed yet.

Update 2 (12 April 2008): some people have reported that the file was not downloading. I apologise for this, it was completely my fault, and I thank people that let me know. I have now rectified the situation, and put the file in a zip folder. Unfortunately I've also had to shave off the crowd noises to bring the file size down a bit, so you can't hear the " thing ever" rant. Sorry.

Monday, February 18, 2008

2008 Antifolk Winter Festival

I arrived just in time to see the tail end of Suzy Almond's performance, but I was encouraged by what I heard. She has a good voice, and articulates everyday life nicely.

Next up was a young guy, Stuart James, who had to rush off to go to a birthday party, apparently. His style was very rhythmic spoken word - I hesitate to use the word rap, but that's basically what it was - played over an acoustic guitar hook. Unfortunately, I was having difficulty hearing most of the words, but I think he was discussing political issues. The formula grew a bit thin after a few songs, but the guy has forged his own sound, and with a bit of development, he could definately be one to look out for.

Immediately taking over the stage was The Bobby McGee's, decorating the mic stand in fluffy things, and toilet signs, and planting their plethora of instruments in the very limited space. Their first act was to start recklessly hurling lollipops and toy soldiers into the gleeing audience, and party bangers, which they instructed to the patrons to save for the end.

The first thing that struck me since the last time I seen them is a lineup change. Gone was the cellist (which adds a lot of depth to certain songs), replaced by a saxophone player. I'm not sure if this was just a temporary arrangement, because the band often does gigs with differing lineups, including just Jimmy solo.

Another major difference was the makeup was ditched in favour of matching maroon suits (Victorian sailors? My fashion history is hazy). (OK - this was the first thing that struck, but I wanted to appear as if I'm only interested in the music, not the cheesy gimmicks).

Jimmy opened the show with a micro puppet show - a small rabbit teddy quoting the lyrics to Jar Jar Binks. The songs were hilarious of course, and meticulously delivered, despite a few false starts by the new saxophonist when she was handed the melodica.

The noticeable crowd-swelling on the floor suggested they were one of the more anticipated bands (they were who I was there to see), and if work commitments didn't summons them back to Brighton, I'm sure they would have fitted in well towards the top of the bill.

Next up was a duo who were making their debut performance - Thee Assassins. They have an image of a Dickensian lawyer (the late 19th century seems to be well represented). I'm not sure how well they fitted in to the gig, but they acknowledged their appreciation at being hosted for the first time.

David Cronenberg's Wife personally encouraged me to stick around to hear Simon Breed - and I have to say, I was most impressed. He has a very bluesy voice, and writes some great tunes. I intend to keep tabs on on him in the future.

Unfortunately, time caught up with me, so the last band I saw was The Sways. They take a lot of influence from Dufus it would seem, keeping it on the lighter side. They are definately more marketable than Dufus (and I don't mean that in a derogatory way to either party), and will also be on my watchlist for the foreseeable future.

I had been slightly miffed when I saw the lineup as I walked in, because I had only heard of the Bobby's, but as is often the case with these, I was introduced to some new artists I'll keep tabs on to see how they progress. The first Antifolk fest I went to (Spring 06) had a large selection of CDs at the front door of all the artists - a feature that was notable by its absence on Saturday. The individuals did invite you to ask them if you wanted a CD, but I missed a few of the ones I wanted.

Friday, January 18, 2008

John Williams is overrated - here's why

John Williams is a veteran of film composing, and if you are in any way influenced by pop culture from the last thirty years, you can probably hum at least one (more likely five or six) of his compositions because they are so ubiquitous. Therefore, my (unqualified, I'll admit) opinion that he is overrated is sure to cut to the bone of some of his more rabid followers.

As far I am concerned, of all his scores, there are only two or three that stick out as works of brilliance, over the rest of his decidedly average output (for a film composer that is-he isn't as sickeningly average as some of the scum masquerading as 'indie' that makes up the pop charts these days-cf. The Kooks, Razorlight, The View).

When he first broke through (with an young Steven Speilberg, whose career mirrors Williams' exactly), he made a massive impact on film scoring with Jaws. A minimalist cello-led number that sent shivers up the spine of the biggest audience cinema had seen until that point. It won the full round of awards (Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe, Grammy) and has, rightly, become an iconic piece of music in its own right.

However, since then, he has largely stuck to formula - particularly when teamed up with Spielberg for a overblown popcorn epic comedy-adventure - a catchy motif of about six bars or so, backed up by a full orchestra, with swelling brass and string sections:
  • Star Wars (both trilogies)
  • Indiana Jones
  • Jurassic Park
  • E. T. (for which he, perversely, won the full round of awards again)
  • Hook
  • Superman
  • Home Alone
  • Harry Potter
Whenever he didn't use this formula, he reverted to the formulaic concept for the genre he was writing for (military drums in JFK, Saving Private Ryan and Born on the Fourth of July, stereotypical jigs in Far and Away) - not exactly pushing the boundaries.
It is unfair to single out Williams for this discrepancy - it is commonplace in Hollywood composers by such as Howard Shore, Hans Zimmer and James Horner.

His best composition, arguably, was the violin score for Schindler's List, showing that, like Spielberg, when he wants to make a serious contribution to the art of film, he can be brilliant - but he is content with churning out the formulae.

Compare him to other composers, who haven't got as much mass recognition. My personal favourites are Danny Elfman (The Simpsons theme tune, Edwards Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, Nightmare Before Christmas), Alf Clausen (composed the music and songs for each of the 400+ Simpsons episodes, and was criminal overlooked for Hans Zimmer for the Simpsons Movie), Ennio Morricone , Bernard Herrman (Taxi Driver, Psycho), Lalo Schiffrin (although some of his 80s stuff hasn't stood the test of time well-at least he was trying something new, unlike Williams), Thomas Newman (American Beauty, Six Feet Under theme).
Individual films have brilliant scores also (which, naturally, weren't even nominated for Oscars) include The Shining, Requiem for a Dream - both of which pushed new bounds, utilizing a small number of instruments - and Ry Cooder's solo guitar in Paris, Texas. Sometimes, as Williams might want to acknowledge, less is more...