NewMusicBlog #1

“the end is nigh” Tom Vek, A Chore (2011)

As I sat in the bath, musing about what the chuff to write for the first New Music Podcast blog, a familiar sound filled my ears. I’d done it again. I’d left the TV on and the 6 o’clock news was blasting out – I’m deaf at the age of 24 due to too many raves in my student days which, depressingly, seem like a lifetime ago.  My mother’s disappointed face emerges in my head, wagging her finger at me with her age-old warning…

“Don’t waste electricity! You’re burning the pennies!”

At this moment I don’t care – I’m warm for the first time all day – my flat has turned into a scene from frozen planet recently (minus the mauled seals, obviously). And anyway, it’s the pounds I’m fussed about.

But the sound skulks back into focus, bringing unwelcome headlines of economic uncertainty, EU collapse and potential war. I’m far from surprised.

On the stroke of midnight but a few weeks ago, through an alcohol-induced mist, we were thrust coldly and unavoidably into a new year, but not just any old year; The year the Mayan calendar ends. The year the world finally goes entirely to pot. The year of….  ARMEGEDON. It’s here. 2012.

Hang on. Isn’t this supposed to be a blog about new music n’ that?
I’m getting there – indulge me a little longer, music enthusiast.

I’m not one who really has a strong political viewpoints – could harp on all day about how corrupt I believe the system to be, but Countdown is on in 45 minutes so I’ll resist. Usually I’m of a cheery, positive disposition. Usually, simple pleasures such as a bowl of warm sweet porridge in the morning would keep me feeling content and smiley all day long.  But this year, I feel a shift – A sense of impending doom – something not even cracking out the Quaker Oats can rectify. The economy is grim, and everyone’s feeling it.

The indication is that it’s going to be bleak and difficult for many, apocalypse or no apocalypse. We need music that will stop the four horsemen in their tracks, and either reduce them to tears with melancholy, or blow their immortal socks off. I think I may have an answer for each of these in, what I believe, are two outstanding artists to watch this year.

Number one comes in the shape of The Lake Poets, aka Martin Longstaff, who creates beautiful and haunting music which is heavily influenced by his home town of Sunderland. He has the ability to mesmerise audiences with his stunning voice and personal subject matters.  ‘City By The Sea’ will be released in April this year as his debut, so hopefully you will be hearing more of this very talented young man… Here is a link to my personal favourite track, ‘Friends’.

Moving to the second – the eccentric, lolloping sounds of La Shark is perfect feel good music that gets feet tapping and (dare I say it) hips wiggling. I found out about these guys in late 2010 after debut single ‘A Weapon’ found its way to my ears due to a series of  fortunate events. However my favourite is latest offering ‘Magazine Cover’ – it doesn’t take itself too seriously and is just a delight. The Debut album rumoured for 2012 is bound to be a tonic to this dark year ahead.

These two should whet your appetite for the year ahead and keep you going for now. I know I’m certainly feeling better already. I think it’s time to turn off the news, grab some porridge and turn on the music player, don’t you?

tGotR x

Archive: Official Secrets Act

Back in April 2009, I was lucky enough to sit down and have a chat with the lovely Official Secrets Act chaps. We laughed, we played snake on a retro Nokia, we got covered in red wine. Here is the article I wrote. N’uff said.

Welcome to Britain. Manchester to be exact. Four young, respectable gentlemen collectively calling themselves Official Secrets Act, weep into ‘Up the Bracket’, bawling ‘Why, Docherty, why?!’ Of late they have been wondering where those days of sheer British musical purity have gone. They have seen the state of indie. And they want out.

‘Don’t you ever want to escape?’ enquires front-man Tom fervently. They certainly do. Where to you ask? Bavaria, of course. And how? By ‘digging three tunnels called Tom, Dick and Harry,’… obviously.

Never to be ruled by social convention, OSA defiantly stand unaltered by expectation or commercialism. Instead they choose to be driven by a passion for writing good old fashioned ‘honest’ music. ‘Indie music is so fucking boring,’ Tom stresses, ‘it’s become embarrassing.’

Hailed as the creators of ‘New British Escapism’, Official Secrets Act strive to capture everything endearing that this island has to offer. ‘We like to add that eccentric British-ness to things.’ Explains drummer Alex (fashioning a very British wax-jacket), ‘We are just embracing everything this place has to offer and cherishing it.’

Their debut album, ‘Understanding Electricity’ with its tangled guitar driven tones, may at first be mistaken as part of the embarrassing brand they gallantly fight against. Listen closer and you start to understand what they are all about: Enthusiastic patriotism and silvery motif drapes pulsating beats and bass lines, united with lush sound scapes and euphonious violins. ‘We just decided there were no rules.’ Tom candidly adds, ‘we just wanted to make the album we wanted at that moment.’

Being perceptive and insightful, OSA have a deep rooted personal philosophy of responsibility that spills over to their music. ‘Every decision you make does have wider consequences.’ Explains Tom, ‘It’s like the Chaos Theory’.

Fed up of the media demonisation of England and Disillusioned Britain alongside their lust for pride in where they come from is their driving force.

’You’ve got a lot of reasons to feel pretty shit about yourself if you’re a young adult in England. So I guess we are angry about that and we are writing about how to find a way to feel proud of where we come from.’

Looks like OSA are on a quest to save us all. Best of British.