Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Song Of The Day: This Charming Man

I've had 'This Charming Man' by The Smiths on repeat all afternoon. I usually have an aversion to 80's music, but this band is different, they're indie rockers, not exactly the kind of 80's music one hears when the local radio station decides to have "Back to the Fab 80's " weekend. Anyway, 'This Charming Man' is a true classic, it makes me feel like getting up and dancing around my house whilst trying- unsuccessfully- to imitate Morrissey's distinctive vocals. 

Death Cab For Cutie have an awesome cover of this song, though I'm pretty sure they're saying "on two bicycles on the hillside" as opposed to the original "puncture bicycle on the hillside". Or maybe there's just something wrong with my hearing... 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

How I Became A Fangirl, Part Three: Pure Love

Over the past year and a half, I’ve become completely embedded in The Killers’ fan community: The Victims. I’ve gotten to know amazing people that share my interests. I’ve sat up late at night, or woken up early in the morning to live stream a performance, I’ve listened to most UK radio stations through my computer to hear live sessions or interviews, I’ve posted on forums, I’ve experience the Countdown, I’ve been part of the spasm that takes place every time they tweet. It’s extremely heartwarming to think that four people that most Victims have never met can unite us just through their music. Just the thought that they are together somewhere in the world making music, is enough to make our days happy. When the fact that they’re playing anywhere in the world makes you happy, even if you can’t go, when just the smallest mention of them can bring a smile to an otherwise troubled face.  Being a true fan is not something you can achieve by buying a band’s CD, going to a concert, or reading their Wikipedia page. Being a true fan is a constant devotion to the band you love, it involves, time, effort and an undying interest and commitment. Being a fan of The Killers doesn’t mean you know the names of the band members, or the titles of the band’s albums! To me, being a true fan is knowing that “BF”, “BFlow” and “Beef” all refer to the same person, knowing why 621 is significant, knowing why Mark At The Airport jokes are funny, knowing that Ronnie is Unstoppable or knowing what Godfrey is. If you’re a fan, you know who Handsome Rob is, and you’ve checked out his new band. You know that Ray is the new Ted, you know who Jeremy Bates is, and you’d recognize Tommy Marth a mile away. All that aside, being a fan is about loving the band: people may ask how you can love people you don’t know…I can’t explain it, but I can say with 100% certainty that what the Victims feel for Brandon, Mark, Dave and Ronnie is nothing if not love. If I ever got to meet them and could only say one thing, I wouldn’t tell them that I love their music, that they’re beautiful, or that they’re my inspiration. I’d tell them to never stop doing what they’re doing, because by doing it, they’ve brought happiness to the lives of so many people that may otherwise not have had it. To people who may have been sad, they’ve brought a smile; to those who were lost, they’ve brought direction; to those who were too shy, they’ve given a voice; and to those who were too scared to be themselves, they’ve given courage. When you consider that all of this is possible simply through music, it is impossible to deny its power.  So, when you need a release from your troublesome mind, when you need to believe that everything will be alright, when you feel as though you’re losing touch, for reasons unknown, and when you close my eyes and see the place where you used to live, join me in smiling like you mean it, because, my dear Favourite Band In The World, I don’t shine if you don’t shine. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Post Break-Up Sex, Anyone?

Before you get any ideas, I’m referring to a song, as usual. Indie Rockers, The Vaccines, have been making a name for themselves with their extremely catchy single ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ which did very well on the UK charts, especially considering the fact that they aren’t a mainstream act that sings about taking one’s clothes off on the dancefloor. I’ve had The Vaccines’ album ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’ for a couple of weeks now, but only gave it a thorough listen today, when I decided that I hate almost everything else on my computer. I love the album, and it is definitely being crowned as my latest Pick Of The Week, I have listened to nothing but this album the entire day. Several of the songs are quite upbeat, none of them want to slit your wrists, and by listening to these guys, you get to at least listen to something that’s made it onto the radio whilst still maintaining your mentality of Too Indie To Live. Bi-winning, I’d say.

My favourite tracks are the vibrant ‘Nørgaard’, slower ‘Wetsuit’ and ‘All In White’ which contains the fascinating line “I was always wrong, and you all in white”. Love love love. I just wouldn’t suggest putting up a Facebook status saying “I love post break-up sex!”. It could get awkward. Just saying. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Progressing, Stagnating, Or Selling Out: What Did Coldplay DO?

Disclaimer: I’m a HUGE Coldplay fan, I still love Maroon 5, and although it doesn’t sound like it, I actually adore Owl City.

Forget the critics, forget the general public, forget reviewers from publications such as NME, who like nothing better than to take everyone but a select few down a few notches…it seems that sometimes the most scathing of words can come from a band’s very own, hopelessly devoted fans. Some fans seem to think that they have some kind of control over bands, that their opinions are the only valid ones, and that bands should never change styles.

Chart-toppers, Coldplay recently released the second single from their upcoming album ‘Mylo Xyloto’, and the song seems to have had what can only be described as a polarizing effect on fans: you either love it or hate it, there’s no in between. The song, ‘Paradise’ is apparently the first sign of the band selling out, in other words starting to make music that may produce great sales, but isn’t that of the Coldplay that their fans know and love. But surely no one was expecting the band to release something along the lines of ‘The Scientist: Part ii’ ? It is perfectly normal for a band to move forward and to experiment with new and different sounds for each of their albums. If they don’t they risk becoming boring, stagnant, and thus their album sales are sure to plummet, they will fade into obscurity, and in a few years time, nobody will even remember that they existed. Imagine if this happened to Coldplay. Surely this idea is more horrifying than anything else? I offer Owl City as an example of an artist not progressing. Adam Young’s project’s latest album ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ is packed with catchy tunes, and cute songs that are fun to sing along to, but they’re almost indistinguishable from previous album ‘Ocean Eyes’ and indeed from songs on Owl City’s first two albums, ‘Of June’ and ‘Maybe I’m Dreaming’. I mean, how much longer can Adam continue to write songs about the sea, plants, beaches, and dreaming, without it becoming boring? Especially if he doesn’t even change up his beats a bit.

There is, however, a fine line between progressing and in fact selling out. Maroon 5 were one of my favourite bands for about six years, but in my own humble opinion, they have sold out and gone commercial, and I’m not impressed. In the case of Coldplay, even though they are developing, their new songs are still identifiable as ‘Coldplay songs’. The end of ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’ could practically be the beginning of ‘In My Place’, and there’s no denying that only Coldplay would come up with some of the lyrics found in ‘Paradise’, such as “the wheel breaks the butterfly”. Add that to the fact that they’re still into the “oooo-ooooo-ooooo” ‘s, and one realizes that fans have absolutely nothing to worry about at all. Maroon 5, on the other hand, have left all semblances of those jazzy vibes I loved so much behind, and replaced them with dance tunes. Sigh, there I go, being one of those controlling fans that I dislike so much. You just can’t win, can you?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

East Coast Radio Durban Day 2011

Sunday the 11th of September dawned bright and sunny in beautiful KZN, and I was off to East Coast Radio’s Durban Day, for the first time ever. Somehow I’d always missed this mini-festival before due to it being during term, but not this time.  So off we went to the stunning Moses Mabhida Stadium to watch acts such as Watershed, Elvis Blue and Freshlyground.

The first performer was Capetonian Farryl Perkis, the only act that I was not really familiar with, but I was impressed by his very chilled, calm performance, and the crowd clearly enjoyed him. The Arrows were up next, but first I undertook a little creeping mission for my first round of celeb photo’s of the day. I had a photo with hip-hop star HHP, and then with Farryl himself, whom I informed that I was moving to Cape Town next year. He said he’d see me there. Ah, he probably just says that to everyone…

The Arrows got the audience on their feet with their upbeat, dancey vibes, and songs which were clearly familiar to Durbanites- their home crowd. Having seen this band before, I was expecting their usual repertoire which includes a drumming/dance-off between drummer Christie and lead vocalist Pam. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the set thoroughly. As soon as the girls left the stage, I went creeping for a photo. I managed one with Pam, and told her that I’d seen them open for The Script in June.

Aaaaand next up was Mr. Elvis Blue. Cue just a tiny fangirl scream when he walked on stage. Of course, the guy was brilliant on Idols, but the fact is that he is even better in real life. He is an absolute rocker, the stage is where the man belongs. His voice sounded perfect, even though we later found out that he was actually so sick that he’d been in hospital the night before, but had still managed to perform the show, when many people would have pulled out. Elvis’ cover of “Hallelujah” had me positively squealing with delight, I hadn’t expected it at all, and he pulled off a real rock version of the classic song. What disappointed me was that so few people knew the words. So here’s my advice to you: before you see Elvis Blue live, learn the words to “Hallelujah”! Not even all 7248392753489 verses that Leonard Cohen wrote, just two will do! When Elvis left the stage, I was off to accomplish my main objective: get a photo with him. Of course, this would have been a lot easier if I had not been surrounded by about a million ten-year-olds who wanted exactly the same thing. Sigh. Someone put an age restriction of concerts, please! (Let’s just forget, for now, that I went to my first concert when I was nine…) Anyway, I did manage to get a photo with Mr. Blue, real name Jan Hoogendyk, and he even signed my arm in permanent marker. Winning.

Next up was Lloyd Cele, the runner up on the Elvis’ season of Idols SA. Form Idols, I knew that he was talented, but Lloyd’s cover of One Republic’s hit ‘Apologize’ left me in shocked silence: this man really knows how to rock! After Lloyd came HHP, who had the crowd going absolutely crazy and singing along happily, as “make the circle bigger, make the circle bigger, make the circle bigger” resounded throughout the park.

After HHP, I decided that I needed a barrier slot for the last two acts: Watershed and Freshlyground. Attaining the barrier was almost too easy. Durban people are clearly not used to concerts, and by this time it was late afternoon, and they were fading fast. I simply made my way forward, and stole people’s places as they ducked out for a sit down before Watershed started. Watershed were brilliant of course, I had last seen them almost three years ago, and I’d always wanted to see them again, but the opportunity had never presented itself until now. I gave an absolute squeal of delight when frontman Craig Hinds declared that they were going to play ‘Southern Cross’, which, although a cover, is my favourite Watershed song by far. And it was beautiful. The band also performed my second favourite ‘Close My Eyes’, and of course, their biggest hit, ‘Indigo Girl’. As soon as Craig sat down at his keyboard, I shouted “INDIGO GIRL!”. I’m getting rather good at predicting setlists.

The closing act was Freshlyground, whom I had never seen live before, and they absolutely blew me away, they were without a doubt the highlight of the day. They just have the vibe of a band that has been playing together for so long that everything is perfectly natural on stage. All I can say is “wow”. The way they dance, the rhythm, the way they connect with their audience, and the fact that they clearly love what they do made for an unforgettable performance. There was not a single person in that audience who was not dancing and singing along to song such as “Doo Be Doo” and “I’d Like”. The final song they performed was ‘Waka Waka’- the recorded version of which is sung with Shakira- and I’ve decided that Shakira’s version of the song should be outlawed; Freshlyground’s version is the only one that should be allowed to exist. It mattered very little whether or not anyone knew what “tsaminaminaehehwakawakaeheh” meant, or even what language was, everyone from the two-year-old baby in his mother’s arms, to the 50-year-old white man, the 16-year-old Indian girl, and the 47-year-old white woman was clapping in time to the music. What an epic ending to an epic day.

South African talent is overlooked so quickly and easily, but Durban Day really demonstrated the amount of talent possessed by our local artists. Every single one of these acts are good enough to go international if they so choose, the chorus of ‘Waka Waka’ rang true yesterday, this really is time for Africa. The power of music never fails to astound me; I witnessed an older lady make her way through the crowd of youngsters to ask HHP if she could hug him, because she is such a fan of his music. In the words of my mother, as we left the venue “if politicians turned to music, they could unite the country”. Truer words were never spoken. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Time Travelling Back to 2000

Last night I was at a friend's house, and sometime during the night I heard an extremely familiar song: "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips. I started to smile uncontrollably as I thought back to the days when I heard that song every single day for weeks and weeks on end. In early 2000, a friend and I performed this song in our elementary school talent show, and even 11 years later, every single time I hear the song, it take me back to practicing it in her living room, whilst our mothers watched and assisted us. Why we chose this specific song, I will never know, but some of the lyrics really are quite inspirational: "don't you know, things can change, things will go your way if you hold on for one more day". Whatever challenges we face in life, we can overcome by standing up for ourselves and just breaking free from the chains that hold us back.