Restore The Music UK: Battle of the Bands 2019

I’ve always considered music as a business & as my career.

My parents considered music as an extracurricular academic pursuit; something to give a university application or specialist med/law CV a little humanity.

However over my past years with Restore The Music UK, the passionate & inspirational music teachers & students have reminded me that music is so much more than just a means to an end.

Social, motor, and communication skills, neural plasticity, collaboration, a reason to attend school, self-determination, confidence… and simply finding joy in life: all delivered by music education.

Therefore it is a great honour to not only be involved with Restore The Music UK’s annual Battle of the Bands… but to also sit on the competition judging panel, witnessing musical talent from the furthest corners of London.

That being said, it doesn’t really matter who wins these competitions. It doesn’t matter if the students go on to be professional musicians and sell platinum records, or whether music classes are simply the reason they stay in school and complete their GCSCs. What matters is that 30,000 lives have been improved (so far). Plenty more where that came from.

Huge thanks to Crater and John Williams Photography for capturing the day. More info at Restore The Music UK.

Best of 2018

Albums

  1. DMA’s – For Now
  2. Fucked Up – Dose Your Dreams
  3. Bob Moses – Battle Lines
  4. A Perfect Circle – Eat The Elephant
  5. Django Django – Marble Skies
  6. Black Peaks – All That Divides
  7. MNEK – Language
  8. Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar
  9. Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer
  10. Khurangbin – Con Todo El Mundo
  11. Architects – Holy Hell
  12. IDLES – Joy As An Act Of Resistance

Tracks

  1. Death Cab For Cutie – I Dreamt We Spoke Again
  2. Fucked Up – Accelerate
  3. Black Futures – Trance
  4. Kamasi Washington – Show Us The Way
  5. Troye Sivan – My My My!
  6. Abbe May – Bitchcraft
  7. Architects – Death Is Not Defeat
  8. Hookworms – Negative Space
  9. My Brightest Diamond – Champagne
  10. The Presets + DMA’s – Are You Here?
  11. SZA + Kendrick Lamar – All The Stars
  12. The Decemberists – For Once In My Life

Gigs

  1. DMA’s – Kentish Town Forum – Dec 17
  2. All Points East (Justice / YYY’s / Chromeo / LCD Soundsystem) – Victoria Park – May 25-27
  3. David Byrne – Hammersmith Apollo – Jun 19
  4. Bloc Party – Alexandra Palace – Oct 25
  5. Nine Inch Nails – Royal Albert Hall – Jun 24
  6. Black Futures – Electrowerkz, Angel – Jun 26
  7. DMA’s + Kasabian – Princes Gardens, Edinburgh – Aug 18
  8. A Perfect Circle – Brixton Academy – June 13
  9. Everything Everything + Sundara Karma – Alexandra Palace – Mar 10
  10. Justin Timberlake – Roundhouse – Feb 22
  11. The Human League – Hammersmith Apollo – Dec 8

Stop Making Sense (pt ✌️)

So we ALL know Stop Making Sense is the greatest live show ever caught on film. I share a passion for it with Sundara Karma, who’s incredible live ambition is derived from the 1984 show.

This year I was fortunate enough to see Stop Making Sense’s sequel “American Utopia” twice in London. David Byrne even performed a subdued 2018 version of his classic lamp dance to new track “Doing The Right Thing”.

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Cheers and tears to the greatest song ever written: “Naive Melody”.

Everything Everything – Night of the Long Knives

Everything Everything’s “A Fever Dream” is without a doubt one of my favourite projects I’ve had the pleasure to work on. I am definitely a fan girl.

I first saw EE in 2011 in Dublin after they released their debut album “Man Alive”, and was immediately blown away by their glitchy production and cacophonic wall of sound. It was only later, upon investigating their lyrics that it became clear the band’s thematic influences are wide-ranging and academic.

Case in point, “Night of the Long Knives”, the spectacularly heady and ominous 4th single from “A Fever Dream”. It tackles the Nazi “Blood Purge” of 1934.

Also known as Operation Hummingbird, The Blood Purge or the Röhm Purge, The Night of the Long Knives was a purge in Nazi Germany from June 30 to July 2, 1934, when Adolf Hitler carried out a series of political extrajudicial executions to consolidate his power in Germany. At least 85 people died during the purge, although the final death toll may have been in the hundreds, with high estimates running from 700 to 1,000. More than a thousand perceived opponents were arrested. The event was a turning point for the German government, establishing Hitler as the supreme administrator of justice of the German people, as he put it in his July 13 speech to the Reichstag.

Read more about The Night of the Long Knives ➡️here⬅️

Bob Moses – Days Gone By

This deliciously elegant vinyl sleeve belongs to the debut album from Canadian electronic duo Bob Moses, Days Gone By. Released in September 2015 (and added to my Best of 2015 list), the limited edition is pressed on beautiful 180gsm silver vinyl.

Doesn’t it just scream Joy Division!? The music however, is quite the opposite: warm, soft, sensual vocals, crooned over a combination of deep house and delicate rhythms – there is still an austere Isolation on this album. I’d love to know who is responsible for this sleek design work, however there is as little information about the artwork as there is about the duo themselves.

Despite their talent and a deal with purveyor of essential ear candy Domino Records, they are still relatively unknown and punching/playing venues far below their weight. Fortunately for us, that means tickets are till cheap. Very excited to see them at Oval Space in London on March 3. More dates on their website.

Composed

Who says streaming is just for kids?

Composed is a classy-as-hell classical music streaming service built for grown-ups by grown-ups. It takes advantage of the entirely unique metadata structure of classical music and presents the relevant content… the way it should be presented. It filters out the bazillion amateur recordings on all other DSPs* and focuses on the greatest premiere artist recordings available. It’s curated by classical music experts but it’s not snooty or niche. In short, it’s an absolute joy to use and it’s sexy as hell.

I’m incredibly proud to be an integral part of this project. We launched Composed earlier this year in conjunction with ClassicFM (the world’s largest classical radio station) as the exclusive digital home of the ClassicFM Hall of Fame countdown. This involved a surprisingly pleasant 4 day long weekend in the Global Radio Leicester Sqr offices watching our analytics go apeshi*t in realtime each time the service was announced on-air, whilst we updated the contents within the service every hour. I may have designed some packshots for Final Fantasy game scores during this period.

We (UMG UK / Decca Classics / Deutsche Grammafon) built the service with London/NYC digital innovation agency Made By Many who I’m glad to say are shit hot at what they do. Now Composed’s own very talented developers manage the product.

* Most classical is Public Domain, so any Joe Blo with Garageband can record & digitally release their own version murdering Nessun Dorma.

Leftfield

Here is Leftfield opening their set at Kentish Town Forum with Bad Radio (the heavy one ft TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe on vocals). Although a very simple lightshow, it did a great job of referencing the current album Alternative Light Source‘s artwork.

Also… Kraftwerk #justsayin

It isn’t exactly John Williams level photography… but screw it, I was too busy dancing like a maniac to the Phat Planet bass. John, who had been in the photo pit the previous night had warned me about the bone-shattering bass. Did I mention the bass? #BASS #MASSIVEBASS

Incongruously enough, the duo walked on stage to Talking Heads Once In A Lifetime. Surely this was the house selection on random rather than a conscious choice from Neil & Paul? Regardless, the punters soaked it up and sang along to their heart’s content. This may or may not have had anything to do with the copious amount of drugs I witnessed people take at this gig. The sheer quantity of MDMA-saturated sweat that I was showered with by face-chewing shirtless ex-ravers (now middle aged estate-agents) was enough to keep me off paracetamol for a decade.

TV on the Radio – Young Liars

Arguably my favourite band ever, TV on the Radio – responsible for my favourite EP, Young Liars – performed at Oslo in Hackney this evening. It was a true highlight of the year.

Live, the band are always more frenzied and frantic than their music truly deserves. However the recorded versions capture the true intention: Young Liars & Staring At The Sun are hymns of tranquility meditative calm, a slow pendulum of distortion fuzz – and should be played with such reverence. They feel like an enveloping codeine buzz; a warm pins & needles on your lips.

I have returned to this EP, time and time again in difficult moments in my life; locking myself inside a blanket of warm vibration, away from whatever crumbiness existed outside. The name of this site, Calmer Than Cream, is buried in the lyrics below.

Thus my hopes were raised when I noted Nick Zinner entering the venue, as he is responsible for the lush extended fuzz-laden, EP version intro of Staring… It would promise a true rendition. Please jump on stage, please…

Sadly Nick remained in the audience. Nonetheless it was an incredible gig. Thank you for this tonight. Thank you. Thank you.

Young Liars

My mast ain’t so sturdy
My head is at half
I’m searching the clouds for the score

My lady avails herself
Of marked down freedom
Forever cashed out to no more

She put the blam in the blame
Bullets bearing the name
Of each tigress who’s left you a tooth
Save the skins for a pelt
And the rest for a belt
That can’t open
No nothing
Can’t open
No nothing

Young liars
Thank you for taking my hands

Well it’s cold and it’s quiet
And cobblestone cold in here
Fucking for fear of not wanting
To fear again
Lonely is all we are
Lovely so far
But my heart’s still a marble
In an empty jelly jar

Someday suppose that my
Curious nervousness
Spills into prescience
Clairvoyant consciousness
I will be calmer than cream
Making maps out of your dreams

But will psychic ability
Clinch the nativity
Or simply diminish the flinch

Oh young liars
Thank you for taking my hands

And burying them deep
In the world’s wet womb
Where no one can heed their commands

Except young liars

Voice string trombone
Pull me forward onward
To the sea

Abbey Road Studios: A Day In The Life

As a 14 year old student, my history teacher sat our entire school year down on the floor of our largest classroom, switched off the lights, told us to close our eyes, & blasted out A Day In The Life from The Beatles ‘ St Peppers… on a crumby classroom boombox. My tiny young mind was blown.

16 years later, I’m in Studio II at Abbey Road with work: The Beatles in Mono vinyl remasters playback. It’s on a £300K sound system & I have a beer in hand. Next to me is the weathered old Challen upright piano used on Magical Mystery Tour & The White Album. In front of me are a glamorous elderly couple very much in love, nodding vigorously & nearly in tears. Up front are Ken Scott (the original recording engineer who started working on those albums when he was 16) and the lovely Sean Magee who remastered them. Various tracks across the catalogue are played back, all sounding spectacularly warm & heavy – Helter Skelter in particular… but the most important is the Sgt Peppers reprise into A Day In The Life.