Franz Ferdinand

I'd heard about Franz Ferdinand before, but hadn't heard the music. So I got hold of the album and it's excellent! Kinda New Wave in a way, a bit Stranglers or Clash even. Energetic, witty, intelligent and fun.

Think I might see if I can get tickets to their gig at The Astoria...

As a side note, if you're starting a band in roughly the same style and want to get some gigs the easy way, try calling your band Gavrillo Princip and you'll no doubt land the support gigs for Franz Ferdinand.

Warp does digital music right

One of my fave record labels, Warp Records has just launched their digital downloadable music site, Bleep. At last, someone has done it right!

Have a look at this little exerpt from the EULA:
You shall be authorized to store as unlimited copies of the Product on any media, provided that these copies are for personal non-commercial use only. The Product or copies of the Product may not be resold or streamed either for profit or non-profit use,
You shall be entitled to export, burn or copy Products solely for personal, noncommercial use.

Brilliant! Their prices aren't particularly cheap though. Lower than the CD prices, but not much. For example, the new Broadcast album is £6.99. Not exactly cheap! Sure, Amazon are charging £10.99, but you'd think the costs of digital distribution would be much lower...

Still, the quality should be good and it's nice to see someone trusting users. I'm off to get that Broadcast album!

Jean Grae: The Bootleg of the Bootleg EP

I've followed the career of Jean Grae since her collaborations with The Herbaliser (as "What What") back in 1997. Since then she's changed names, crews and producers, making her very difficult to track from outside New York. Just try finding "What What" on Google...

Jean Grae is one of the most talented, intelligent and varied rappers I've yet encountered. Her rhyming is always lyrical, frequently darkly humorous and incredibly intelligent.

Anyway, her best release yet came out last year. The Bootleg of the Bootleg EP finally marries her brilliant vocal style with good production. Her collaborations with The Herbaliser hinted at this brilliance. Her work with Natural Resource and her previous album, Attack of the Attacking Things, lacked coherent and clear backing tunes to her always awesome vocals.

So if you like underground hip-hop with a bit of intelligence, go out and buy this.

Spearhead gig

Holly and I went to see Spearhead last night. As usual, an excellent gig. Spearhead are one of the best bands you can see live, but it's kinda hard to recommend their uniformly cheesy and dull albums. Michael Franti is such a natural performer and the vibe at their gigs are always amazing.

This is the third time I've seen them and every time it's just amazing. Once was even at Glastonbury. Mmmmm

If you see a Spearhead gig coming up, I couldn't recommend it more highly.

New musical discoveries

I've just discovered some new, and re-discovered some old, music worth passing on.

Ellen Allien has been around for years but I've only recently discovered her music. She has an excellent mix on her site. A nice range of interesting new techno. Always interesting stuff coming from Berlin.

This has also got me interested in some other artists on her label, Bpitch Control. Sascha Funke is good, and there's a great compilation called Gemeinsam. If you like interesting and varied techno, well worth checking out this label.

The Berlin connection reminded me of the early days of MFS Records in the early days of trance. Back then, the trance coming out of Germany was a revelation. When it was all happening, just about every release on this label was gold. A huge and lively scene grew around this style of music in Sydney, sparking off into numerous other sub-genres of music and opening up trance as the mega phenomenon it became.

Alchemists of Sound

I just saw an amazing documentary about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, the creators of spooky soundtracks for BBC programming. Anyone who grew up in the seventies remembers the scary sound effects and haunting theme song of Doctor Who.

The doco charts the history of the workshop, its prolific output, the incredibly tedious but wonderfully creative work they did with tape loops, the amazing music and some of the incredibly talented people working there.

It's called Alchemists of Sound and was on BBC Four and will be repeated over the next few days. I imagine it'll make it to Australia soon enough. Keep an eye on the tv schedules.