Eurovision (not what you think) – Discuss

I was out of the country for The Eurovision Song contest.  This annual musical fiesta used to be a staple of my childhood, but it’s been years since I watched it all the way through.  I don’t have the attention span or patience for a programme of that length often offering mostly dodgy tunes.  When I did used to watch it regulalry, I was fascinated by the difference in musical styles and fashions; what I thought was dreadful would be amazing to a Belgian.  I also used to love cackling along as Terry Wogan giggled his way through the presentation.   It’s not been the same for me since he stopped doing it.  Baa humbug – what a miserablist I can be!

While Eurovision was going on, I was in Mallorca.  The bars played a mixture of music I recognised from my daughter’s chart playlist and Europop my ears had never heard before and wasn’t at all offensive.  On the plane home I flicked through SleazyJet’s in-flight magazine and came across an article titled “How To Be Bigger Than Björk” I wasn’t about to let that one pass without reading it.  The article is an interview with Icelandic musician, Ásgeir and describes his sound as a mix between Ben Howard and James Blake – so far so good.  I had a listen once I was home and over my cycling fatigue.  It’s really quite lovely; the journalist’s description is pretty accurate, I would also add a hint of Mumford and Sons too.  I can’t say he’ll be a permanent feature of my playlists yet it was an interesting discovery.

It made me realise there must be hundreds of artists doing well in their own nations and territories of Europe that are relatively unknown to listeners outside their homeland.  Don’t get me wrong, I know and love plenty of European bands and musicians – because they are played on UK radio.  I tend not to seek out musical gems unless it’s made known to me first or recommended by a friend.  Call it ignorance or laziness – I also don’t have the time.  That’s where you come in!  I want you to tell me about European gems you’ve come across that deserve a wider audience outside their homeland.

Yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to fill in the gaps in my musical knowledge. What can you tell me about all this and who else should I be tracking down?

Wilson Wednesday – Jimmie Wilson

So the Eurovision Song Contest has been and gone for another year, and Portugal have taken out the prize for the first time in their history. Congratulations to them, especially for doing it with a song fully in Portugese rather than taking the more common path of pandering to the international audiences and singing in English.

Anyway, I can’t say I religiously watched the telecast of the event, but I did catch some bits and pieces along the way, and I might have to quietly admit to enjoying it. Not so much the quality of the music, which I will tactfully say is “variable at best”, but as a spectacle it’s a bit of harmless fun and often good for a laugh. I still don’t understand what my home country is doing there though (did I miss that geography lesson at school?)

Continue reading

Wilson Wednesday – the Wilson Pickers

So we return to normal programming this week, but can I just say thank you to everyone who said nice things last week. I appreciate your support and well wishes. I am doing ok, although now battling a mildish case of bronchitis – I think the stress of everything must have caught up with me.

Anyway though, onto Wilson Wednesday. The beauty of writing a column such as this one is that as well as revisiting bands in your own music collection, it can force you to explore some other music that you have been meaning to, but just haven’t got around it.

As those of you that still frequent the Guardian RR and/or the Song Bar, will know that I always enjoy a good pun and will often have a go at trying to come up with some good ones at topic’s end. Most of the time I fail, but occasionally I manage to get a gem.

Continue reading

Femtronica vs Mentronica



Luke’s Label Lowdown Part 1 – L.I.E.S. Records

I know it’s not the done thing to use your real name on these blog things, but I couldn’t resist the lure of the alliteration.

When I wrote my last post about the demise of Load records I realised just how much I buy and listen to music according to record label, much more so than genre or even artist.

So, with this in mind I thought I’d start a sporadic series to highlight some of my favourite labels – keeping it firmly underground of course.

I’ll start with my most recent crush: L.I.E.S. Records.

L.I.E.S. stands for Long Island Electrical Systems and they are a fairly new label that started in 2010 and is run out of Brooklyn, NY by an artist called Ron Morelli (the reason I found out about the label was because Ron Morelli put out some records on another favourite label of mine Hospital Productions, which will no doubt feature in a future post). They deal mainly in….well, I’m not sure of the exact genre label, but it’s basically electronic music that is left of field, but not in an ambient way that you might expect when you hear the phrase “leftfield electronic music”. It’s leans more towards techno and house music, with a strong emphasis on drum programming (an amazing skill, IMHO), but is definitely not the usual kind of obvious, euphoric rhythms that you might associate with house and techno.

Anyway, enough of me badly explaining what it isn’t – here are a few tracks. There were a couple I wanted to include but couldn’t find on Youtube, but I’m sure you get the idea:

NGLY – Jessica Abre Los Ojos

Two Dogs in a House – Scream in the Night

Steve Moore – Zero Point Field

Inhalants – Weed Etiquette

Tzusing – King of Hosts

Wilson Wednesday – Michael Wilson

You need to allow me to be a bit self indulgent with this week’s Wilson Wednesday, as it has not been a regular week. My Dad passed away on April 21st, and yesterday we held his funeral service. I wanted to choose the music for the funeral, which I did. Choice one was an easy one to make – You’ll Never Walk Alone, the Gerry and the Pacemakers version. Dad liked Gerry and the Pacemakers a lot, and I have always thought that Gerry sung the best version of this song that I knew. We walked his coffin out of the chapel to this. (apologies to the Liverpudlian here who sometimes hangs around here that can’t take to Gerry at all.)

The opening song, although possibly not something I would necessarily associate with Dad, came about because of something my four year old boys said. When he was in hospital, they wanted to come in and sing him I Can Sing a Rainbow, so I thought that would make a fitting introduction to the service. I spent ages listening to different version of the song from Delta Goodrem, to Peggy Lee, to Cilla Black, but I settled on Andy Williams version.

We got Dad’s four grandkids to stand up the front. My boys know all the actions to the song, which I think represent how to say the colours in sign language, but they got a bit of stagefright and couldn’t perform on the day. That’s OK, it wasn’t an easy day.

Continue reading