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This is the blog of 'angry_cellist', the fictional creation of Dury Loveridge.

It does not, nor should it be perceived to, represent the views of its author, his friends, colleagues or employers.


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Music Month: Day 4: ‘Coconut Records’

Today’s new music exploration was, for, a trip to LA. Coconut Records, had a good start in life – not many people can get Zooey Deschanel and Kirsten Dunst to guest on their first album.

It’s Ben Folds with a more modern edge. Piano-driven, the songs have the nice sing-along chorus and an end of summer feel. There’s some nice Glockenspiel, and some melting chord changes. Lovely.


Music Month: Day 2: Part 2 – Radical Face

Sound familiar? Probably – bet you can’t remember the advert it was on. I can’t.

Anyway, there’s more to Radical Face than that.

As Wikipedia puts it (so it must be right):

Radical Face is a musical act consisting of Ben Cooper (born c.1982), a resident of Jacksonville, Florida, who also makes up one-half of Electric President and Iron Orchestraand one third of Mother’s Basement. The name Radical Face was chosen after seeing it on a flyer. He later found out it was a plastic surgery flyer saying ‘Radical Face-Lift’ with the word ‘lift’ ripped off.[1]

Proving every act has a nice story behind it. But there’s more than a catchy hook. Check out this nice video.



Music Month Day 3: Part 1 – ‘Cake’

It’s sort of a two-for-one day today. Why? Because this first band, it turns out, is actually quite old.

An ‘Alternative Rock’ band, from Sacramento Calif., Cake have all the ingredients of a nice rock outfit that started out back in the nineties, with the added decoration of several Letterman appearances.

Catchy, but not too cliche-laden, I was taken by the first video, promoting the second…



Music Month: Day 2, “Of Monsters and Men”

Disclaimer: I really like Iceland. I like the landscape, the food, the atmosphere… Everything not associated with the UK frozen food specialist in fact.

So, Of Monsters and Men, what’s not to like. They’re Icelandic, there’s quite a few of them in the band (and, for the record, any band with a trumpeter in it has to be good).

They’ve got some nice videos, and if music invoking wide-open spaces is your thing, it’s perfect.



Music Month: Day 1: ‘The Decemberists’

Let’s be clear from the outset, I really like what I’d call ‘American Coffee Shop Music’. To be filed on this playlist, you need a few stock ingredients: 1) A sense of humour, 2) Some jingly guitar, 3) a sing-along chorus, 4) an uplifting feel, and a bit of a song where it calms down and builds up. Optional flavourings include using some orchestral instruments and some great videos.

The Decemberists have all of this in spades.

If you check out their Wiki entry, it sets the mood perfectly:

On their website, the group claim that their official drink is Orangina, that they love the video-game Bioshock and “adore” the bands Norfolk & WesternExplosions In The SkyThe Postal ServiceThe Long WintersDeath Cab for CutieDokkenTychoEl Ten ElevenThe Shins,The Octopus ProjectElectrelaneCamera ObscuraClearlakeThe ThermalsModest MouseSwords and Earlimart. The band’s official biography, keeping up their reputation for grandiloquence, also describes how they met in a Turkish bath. A footnote following the biography claims, “The Decemberists travel exclusively by Dr. Herring’s Brand Dirigible Balloons.” Colin Meloy has listed Anne BriggsNic Jones, and Shirley Collins – who led the 1960s British folk revival – as major influences on The Hazards of Love. Meloy has also confessed a “slavish love” for Morrissey, one of his principal influences.[2] The band has also cited their liking for Siouxsie and the Banshees,[3] and the pop tunes of R.E.M. and XTC. The band also draws inspiration from British and Irish folk music.

If you like Belle and Sebastian, you’ll like this. Actually, forget that, if you like music you’ll like this.

Below are two videos that instantly caught my attention.

So that’s day 1’s listening sorted. It’s going to be a good month.




A post in which I attempt to reaffirm my faith in popular music

Before I went on hiatus* I posted this little post about The Voice.

Did you believe it? No, me neither really. The world is full of music, but if you turn on the radio in the UK you get the same 24 songs on rotation. They’re nearly all backed by Simon Cowell or someone similar. They are all based on the same principles: smiley teeth, 120bpm kick beat, something ‘ethnic’, colourful video, and autotune to make up for the shortcomings.

So, instead of moaning I fixed it – I’ve dumped the UK stations, and have been listening online to US and Canadian radio. This proves two things: 1) Canadians really like their stadium rock hair-bands, and 2) There’s still a lot of great music out there, you just have to work for it.

So here’s the experiment…

This month, every day I’m going to surf around on Spotify, and pick a new band to listen to. I’m not claiming I’ll find some great untapped source of musical elixir, but it may just reaffirm my faith that there’s still a lot of *new* music out there.
And, it’ll all be filed here for me to look back at (and help me remember them when I buy their wares on iTunes.
*For hiatus, feel free to read ‘couldn’t be bothered to write’, ‘was swallowed by a wave of facebook ice-bucket challenges’, or ‘just got busy’. Personally, I wanted to put ‘sabbatical’.

Hello? Is this thing still working…? Anyone…? Beuller?



Wow, 6 months away from this thing *brushes the dust off*

So, with Facebook trying to cram endless videos of people covering themselves in ice (when a large number of people on the planet don’t have access to water) in between photos of cats and statuses about ‘baby’s first burp’…* I’m temporarily seeking refuge here again.

*If I know you, and you have recently posted a video of your cat watching you do the ice-bucket challenging as your baby burps in the background, please don’t take this personally!




Why ‘The Voice’ shows us not to be worried about music

You know that moment when you’re in the supermarket, staring at the cold meat fridge. In front of you are an array of meats. In theory, they’re all the same substance (insert your own horse-lasagne joke here). Ham is ham, chicken is chicken, salami is a little bit weird, and chorizo is something you buy to keep at the back of the fridge. But I digress. You know the meat is all the same, but you select the nicest looking version don’t you? I mean, in emergencies wafer thin ham is great, but the stuff that looks like Boxing Day dinner is what you really want.

And it’s the same with singing and pop music. You see, there’s an awful lot of wafer thin ham in the charts. There’s also some chorizo (think of that Dire Straits or Chris de Burgh cd you have, but never listen to). All of those thin, over-processed voices singing songs written for them in dimly lit rooms full of chain-smoking monkeys working away on typewriters. I won’t name them. Oh, okay; Katy Perry, Peter Andre, Lady Gaga, Jessie J…

People buy this stuff, otherwise it wouldn’t be made, but this is where The Voice comes in. Every Saturday night families sit around watching a dozen or more singers giving a rendition of 90 seconds of a well-known pop song. Yes, for some it’s a personality contest, but it’s hard to ignore the premise we’re judging their voices. People are actually sitting around talking about ‘pitchy’ vocals, how someone didn’t ‘bring anything to the song’ (whatever that means), how another person’s voice is thin, and another’s too strong.

And here’s the hope: Some of this will carry across into radio playlists and iTunes sales. If this rubs-off on the public at large, they’ll start taking notice of how over processed Perry’s Roar is, or how thin Jessie J’s voice is. And tastes will go somewhere again. What’s more, we’re searching for something different – if you’ve spent more than 30 minutes listening to the radio, you’ll know what I mean when I say there’s an awful lot of wafer-thin ham about at the moment.

Even if I’m wrong, there’s still a massive positive. A 90 minute programme tonight contained everything from Dionne Warwick to the Kaiser Chiefs, Nina Simone to Bob Marley. It’s a life reaffirming moment to be shown each week just how much great music is out there. And what’s more, everyone’s jumping up and down to it. Everyone is smiling. It’s bringing everyone together as they remember an amazing song which had fallen out of memory (like that chorizo at the back of the fridge). When you rediscover it, it’s good. At a time when everyone is talking about how music is dead, and no one is interested anymore, it’s a great thing to see.


Central Park Buildings

Dug out an old pic from Central Park…


Why string quartets could be the new rock n roll

The world is full of aspiring secondary school rock bands. Look at the timetable of school instrumental lessons and the list of guitarists and drummers will outflank those playing violin by a margin of at least 3-1. In the words of Thom Yorke, ‘anyone can play guitar’. But to be honest, he might have been more accurate to have made Radiohead’s debut single ‘everyone wants to play guitar’.

So what is it about rockstars and bands that make them so appealing? I can think of two immediate reasons…

Identifying with your idols:
Elvis Presley, Mama Cass, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain all died unusual deaths. They lived fast, they died young / eating-a-sandwich / on-the-toilet. They were free spirits, they made their own rules, they forged their own paths. Or else they lived the life of the Romantic hero, suffering under the wait of their genius until they shoot themselves in the head in the loftspace above their garage. They are the perfect role models for teens trying to find their place in the world.

I used to teach in a classroom with a large poster of Cobain next to the whiteboard (reader above a certain age, note the change from black to white – I suspect there will be a change to ‘board-of-no-colour’ soon for pc reasons…). There to inspire young people to find their own voice through music, for all the right reasons. A quick walk around a music department after hours will show you this is best done by playing Nirvana songs over and over in the pursuit of authentic grunginess.

The thing is, classical music has its heroes too. Putting aside the 70% or so who died of syphillis (an obvious connection to the life-fast die-young motto), there are the troubled martyrs. Enrique Granados missed a boat from the US to Spain, and ended up going to England. Enroute to France his ferry was torpedoed by a German U-boat. Anton von-Weburn went outside for a cigar without noting the time, and was shot by a Nazi sniper for breaking curfew – surely a cooler way to die than eating a burger sitting on the toilet?

It’s a small group activity:
I’ll declare something now: I too played in a school band. It was fun. You get together with a group of your mates, find a room, play a cd and then recreate that sound with your instruments. You play the verse a few times to get the timing right. You rehearse the instrumental break and the middle-eight to within an inch of its life. And why? So you can record it and put it onto MySpace (if you’re reading this a year or so after the day of writing – ‘MySpace’ was a website for musicians that was once successful before Facebook started). If you get it really good, you play it in a school concert, or as part of a band night somewhere else. You play alongside groups of your peers and there’s a clear line of success.

The thing is, you can get this in classical music too. Think of school music and you think of the school orchestra, unless you’re a government education advisor in which case you think of whole-class music or ‘wider opportunities’. In any case these are large-scale activities and for most people the choices are a) practicing in a room on your own, or b) practicing in a room with 100 other musicians playing music someone else has chosen in the way they dictate, and not being allowed to talk.

A suggestion:
Why not encourage less large-scale music-making and more small-scale. There, I said it.

The music’s out there – for free (whereas guitar tab books are £12 each). You can play it over and over on Spotify without the need to look for dodgy music downloads. Ultimately the experience is the same – you and a few of your mates in a room, play a cd and recreate that sound with your instruments. Rehease the opening theme, and then rehearse the development to within an inch of its life. And why? So you can record it and put it onto MySpace, or whatever. If you get really good, you play it in a school concert. Then find a local church – they’ll give you somewhere much nicer to play than the rock geeks who I guarantee will end up in a dark and smelly hole somewhere. And most importantly, it’s something you’ve achieved. You can make a good living out of it too, trust me!

I’ll doubtless be proven wrong, but most activities for young musicians involve large ensembles. Maybe, just maybe, some musicians would be more inspired playing music in small groups. Perhaps with less teacher-led learning.

So there you have it. Weburn’s string quartet – the Nirvana track of years ago. No? Nevermind.