Sponsored Swim Blog #1

I have decided to do a sponsored swim.

Yes, really.  Me, Sarah Harrison… doing exercise…for charity… who’d have thought it, eh?

Earlier on this year I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I’ll be honest, it was bloody awful news.

I promised myself that some good had to come out of it, and decided that when I got better I’d try and raise some money for Crohn’s and Colitis UK – a cracking charity that works to improve the lives of people living with IBD through raising awareness and funding vital research.

Now I’m on the road to recovery, this time has finally come.

I did toy with the idea of doing a bake sale.

cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I swiftly changed my mind.

I saw a poster for the Aspire Channel Swim, where people swim the distance of the channel – some 22 miles – over 12 weeks to raise money for people with spinal cord injuries.

“That’s it!” I thought – brilliant idea – I’ll do that, but put my own twist on it – I’ll do it to raise money for Crohn’s and Colitis UK.

So that’s what I’m going to do. From the 29th September to the 22nd December I’ll be attempting to swim a grand total of 22 miles. That’s 35,405.568 metres, to be exact. I’m tired just thinking about it.

Now, I know what you might be thinking. ‘Hang on Harrison, what’s this got to do with music?’… ‘This is primarily a music blog, after all.’ Well, I’ll tell you how. For each entry I’ll also be talking about the music that I’ve been listening to that week; music that has inspired, energised, relaxed and motivated, music that has intrigued, moved and captivated me, music that has made me just want to get up and shake my booty. There’s going to be some corkers, so keep your eyes peeled.

Whilst training (yes, I’ve been training, try not to collapse out of shock) I was thinking about what I could pin to this post.  Stealing an idea (Channel swim) and changing it and making it my own (doing it for a different charity), made me think about songs where the artists have done the same – artists that have taken a song and covered, remixed or reworked it, and as a result, made it just that little bit better.

So here are a few favourites…

Corner Shop (Norman Cook Remix) – Brimful of Asha

A massive hit back in the late 90’s – would I go so far as naming it a classic? I think I might.  Norman Cook got a hold of this distinctly average tune (which was originally released back in ‘97 and got to an embarrassing number 60 in the charts) and the rest, as they say, is history.

Jimi Hendrix Experience – All Along The Watchtower (originally Bob Dylan)

To quote the mighty Bob himself:

“Hendrix had such talent, he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them. He found things that other people wouldn’t think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I took license with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day.”

Well said, that man.

(And speaking of Bob Dylan, he has recently released an album of previously unreleased tracks called The Bootleg Series, Vol 10 – Another Self Portrait and it’s full of little jems – including a version of traditional English folk ballad ‘Pretty Saro’, which is well worth a listen)

Notorious B.I.G. (Ratatat Remix) – Party and Bullsh*t

Unlike Corner Shop and Hendrix, you may well not have heard this one. It’s a cheeky little triumph of a remix by NYC duo Ratatat… so just listen to it, please? You won’t be disappointed. And if you are, I can refund you the full 3 minutes and 57 seconds by clicking here.

Baron Von Alias – The A Team (originally Ed Sheeran)

You may think it’s not a difficult task to better an Ed Sheeran track, and you’d probably be right. North Eastern gent Baron Von Alias has shaken this up well and truly… who’d have thought an Ed Sheeran song could sound Street?! Top hats off to you, Mr. Von Alias.

Daughter – Get Lucky (originally Daft Punk)

Yes, ok, so maybe this doesn’t top the 70’s inspired funky disco grooves of the original, but it is a beautiful interpretation none the less; Elena Tonra’s fragile voice and otherwise sparse instrumentation, which is so very typical of Daughter, completely flip this song on its head – and it’s gorgeous for it.

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The Vinyl Revival

The nostalgia, the tactility, the art work; we all love vinyl. We just can’t help it.

Vinyl records possess a crackly warmth and sound quality that is as of yet unrivaled, even by its CD and digital counterparts. In this age of downloads, many may have thought that this would in turn mean the death of the vinyl. But in 2011, vinyl sales were the highest they have been in six whole years, and Record Store Day has helped raise awareness and restore vinyl sales figures.

Record Store Day is the one day of the year that all independent record stores unite together to celebrate just how wonderful music is. Record labels release special vinyls and CD’s and music fanatics queue with fervour to get a hold of them. And not only that, the stores themselves celebrate by putting on live performances, meet and greets and DJ sets, amongst other more zany activities.This years Record Store Day is taking place on the 21st April, and there’s plenty happening…You can visit the Record Store Day official website to find out more here.

I spoke to Marty, the rather lovely coffee-drinking owner of Hot Rats, an independent record store in Sunderland, about why he thinks it is important to be involved with this day, and why vinyls have become so popular. Listen to us having a natter here:

One special release for Record Store Day is this little corker. In my eyes Soulwax can do no wrong; Neither can Arcade Fire. So this track, originally by the latter and remixed by the former, is definitely my cup of tea:

Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Soulwax Remix):

Be it a cynical marketing scheme from record labels or worthy endeavour to support independently owned record shops, Record Store Day is capturing the hearts and minds of all music lovers. Long live independent record stores. Long live the vinyl.

tGotR x

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.