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Monday, 25 February 2013

Johnny Marr - The Messenger. Wish he'd sent a telegram

Its been an interesting few weeks, finding lots of exciting unsigned bands. Stay reading over the next few weeks (and hopefully a lot longer) and we will certainly introduce you to some of them.

Today though, Im going to attempt to bring together a wide range of confused thoughts. Boyish excitement, trepidation, memories of long time companion, and a fear of what might be different (suppose thats trepidation LOL)

Anyway. This Indie Dunes instalment isn't about an unsigned band. Could possibly be closest to the brief I was given at the start of Indie Dunes. "Steve, just write about old stuff, that would be great". Well I think that was a rouse, one I'm quite happy to be blindsided on. But none the less a swindle.

My musical hero releases a new album in a couple days and I've been contemplating this post for a long time. I wasn't going to write it, then i was, on/off again relationship similar to a peaceful middle east solution. Lots of meandering thoughts and inward contemplation of those meanderings "Would anybody actually want to read it." That was until my good friend @Glenmish posted a link to an NME Song story on Twitter. Then it didn't matter, I had to write it for my own good and you must suffer it until you get bored ;o)

Even now I'm resolute to write this post I find myself fighting and struggling over each word. You can't write about someone that musical is a God to me and just waffle (yes this is me not waffling by waffling). I'm not even sure I can legitimately claim him to be my hero. I have no musical ability whatsoever, I cannot to begin to comprehend the thought process behind creating the songs he wrote. Even after watching the link from NME, I still have no idea, and strangely enough, I don't think he did, it just popped into his head. He has the talent to play, unfortunately I do not and although imitation is the greatest form of flattery, I don't think copyright lawyers would take that as a legitimate argument. Guitar in my hand, Id find my copying his tunes

He wrote in such a way that connected so deeply to me. Even sitting here now, in my lunch break listening to his most celebrated work, I am welling up with emotion, because these tunes mean so very very much. That's one of a powerful gift.

For anyone not aware I am a Smiths fanatic. One may assume that means Morrissey is my almighty music God, however it is the man that split the Smiths up that I hold up so high.

So yes, trepidation is the prefect way to describe the release of Johnny Marr and his "The Messenger" album on the 25th February It's been 13 years since Boomslang was released. Johnny's, first foray into being the front man in a band (The Healers). 13 years since feeling less than satisfied and wondering what the hell. Obviously the musical landscape has changed a little bit since then and Mr Marr hasn't sat around idle. He has spread his wings wide and been part of the change, playing and helping craft the tracks of bands such as Modest Mouse and The Cribs.

The Smiths to me were the prefect band. Even through the personality conflicts and politics that engulfed them, the craft of writing a prefect song shone through. Each part magnificently blended into the other, yet told its own story. Andy's bass-lines are a prefect example of this. Morrissey was perfection as the front man, with the emotive lyrics and a cynical personality. But the voice that always connected to my heart was the melody and beautiful tune being created from strings and fingers.

Three of my most loved Smiths songs were written off by Moz because he felt he neither could write lyrics for them or weren't good enough. These tracks were Oscillate Wildly, the Draize Train and the tune that launched Bryan Ferry Bête Noire album. The Right Stuff was a huge track but it was the Smiths Money Changes Everything originally.

Anyway I could waffle about the Smiths forever and one day I might. But I'll give you sufficient warning when it is nearing. Signing off for now.

Release day arrives.

I first heard about the impending release of THE MESSENGER late last year. But rumours were floating around most of 2012. There was an amazing rush of excitement when I heard the release date. Then that flood of fear happened. What if it tarnishes everything I hold dear. I held off listening to the title track and first single for days. Like a little kid peaking at a scary scene though his fingers spread wide across his eyes.

Now the album has been released, I still am peaking out from behind my protective screen. Trouble is I wish I didn't have to. I feel exposed, even behind it. It's hard to write about the castle walls crumbling down around your hero. My first listen was memorable for all the wrong listens. Firstly I was hanging out laundry, so rock n roll blogger lifestyle innit'. Having to sit down to take in the my horror. By track 4 I had messaged Fishy claiming "I don't think Ive cringed so much listening to an album for a long time"

From the opening cords you know you are in for the rockier side of Johnny's playing. From the 'get go' something is missing. Took me a few listens to work it out (yes Ive had to listen a number of times, dedication huh) It might be me wearing my ultra Smiths teeshirt and badges. But the rhythm section is just totally vacant. They add nothing to the tune. Then the singing" starts. My first reaction is REALLY SURELY NOT. The lyrics are quite juvenile and then a "wooooo" slips out from Johnny's lips. That's when I had to sit down (plus I hate pegging and pairing socks)

Johnny singing reminds me in places of Bono. No tune!!  But then I think. "This ever stopped Bono, so why am I being so critical". But to be honest, it's hard not to be.

I'm not going to give a blow by blow description of the downfall of my hero But there are a few moments worth sharing

But the second track is a humorous story (for me anyway). Starts off with a Muse sounding riff but then the singing kicking in <Rolls eyes>. I didn't catch the name of the track. It would have saved me a lot of embarrassment.

I'm sitting there looking at the half full basket of laundry puzzled at Mr Marr singing about pointy nipples "I want the high-beam" Scratching my head thinking "Interesting way of describing a way of turning someone on". This could possibly be the residual effect of my adventures into writing poems in the style known as "misinterpreted everyday events" and it could rival "born to be a lion". But I digress, thankfully it was "I want the heartbeat" such an easy mistake.

After multiple listens the title track "The Messenger" isn't a bad track, it's listenable and semi enjoyable. I really like the music in New Town Velocity, it's got a similar sound to the days of Electronic. I just wish Bernie was singing.

This is an extremely difficult album for me to listen to. It's impossible for me not to compare it to previous releases not just from The Smiths, but also Electronic, even Marrs work with Matt Johnson in The The. That might be a flaw on my behalf. But it's an honest assessment. The man can obviously write guitar music.

Reading some of Marrs statements in the press, he has said (paraphrasing now) "I want it to seem effortless, for my old fans" Well it does seem effortless Johnny, you know your craft, but this it smells of Also, he states "I have written songs in the past with others peoples voice in mind", be it Ryan from Cribs, Isaac (Modest Mouse), Bernie, Matt or Moz. Distinctive talented singers in their field. Unfortunately The Messenger is written with his voice in mind, they are weak, like his singing and lyrical prowess

If you are a young new person starting to delve into the world of music, beginning to read music publications, expanding your field of vision in a musical sense. You are going to see Johnny Marr "God" status plastered all over NME and the internet blogs. You might then seek out The Messenger and think "REALLY". This album is not an accurate reflection of Johnny Marrs undoubted standing as a guitar God. In the other reviews I've read about "The Messenger" I hear them lauding Johnnys guitar skills, these are in there, smart cleverly placed riffs and licks. But its all hidden behind what is obviously wrong for much of the album.

I can't recommend this album but everyone must make their own mind up. Music and what you want and need  from a song are all totally subjective.

I'm a huge Marr fan. I said at the beginning of this post "I didn't want anything to tarnish my hero or my feelings" and I can say in all honesty it hasn't but I'm disappointed. I've listened to lots of "The Smiths", "Electronic" and "The The" today and every riff, chord and finally track brought back that feeling of security and being home with my mates.
Because Johnny has "Godlike" status it seems to me that people are afriad to say its a dodgy album. And it is a dodgy album, in my eyes. This is not JM first attempt at it. It was "Johnny Marr and The Healers" this seems to be forgotten even by JM. Boomslang was a disappointment, after discussions with a good friend he pointed out that Marr has also needed collaboration for his music. The release of both his "Solo" projects show what his subconscious has probably been telling him. You are the main man, not the front man. 

If I can add an insightful comment from my 8 yr old daughter, she was listening to the album while I typed away. "That sounds terrible Dad, but I guess someone might like it" She obviously doesn't have my flare for waffle. From the mouths of children generally comes honesty.

This has been a hard post for me to write. But what I find myself thinking is a very positive and encouraging thought. Maybe it's just a new perspective I've started observing the musical landscape with. There is so much raw untapped talent out there ATM. It's like a volcano ready to erupt. Do we need an effortless/easy albums for dedicated fans? Or do we want to be excited and re-energised to buy a disc or download from something new and fresh

Maybe it's time for the legends to start mentoring and producing these fledging bands instead of putting themselves out in the firing line with a lot to lose.


Friday, 15 February 2013

Not even Eric thought the birds following the trawler were Crystal Seagulls

I'm a serious music listener. By this I don't mean I'M SERIOUS and everyone else are a
bunch of try hard amateurs. I'd never think that. I mean even in the lightest of music, I
always try to place a serious connection. Like a lyric or sound that brings back a memory.
It's not a deliberate quirk, its just developed.

To be honest sometimes it's a quirk that has stopped my enjoyment of music. Every
tune turns on an emotion. Feelings the need to flee and hide. I think one of the most
annoying times in mine and Fishys friendship was during one of these times when I just
stopped listening to music for many months.

I am convinced Indie Dunes was a ploy to kick me out of one of these phases. It certainly

Saying this though. One style of music is always there to make me feel happy. Much to
some people's disgust lol. I'm going to delve into a review on this sometime soon.

But in the words of Aragon "but not on this day"

Today is about a band that has me made feel and think FEEEEK IT Lets have some fun.

This post has a interesting history before it starts. Well.......This is how it started

"Hey Fishie, New band just followed on Twitter"

"Cool, who"

"Oh Glass Budgies, let me check.......ohhh lol close Crystal Seagulls"

"oh I think I've got them on my phone, cool"

Thought in Steves head "FFS one day I might find a band before she does......"

"Well just because they are in your phone doesn't mean we are blogging, I'm off to listen.... Back soon" TBH I was quite feeking grumpy lol.

About 5 mins later and a couple of tweets to the lads I was back to Fishie saying.
Ohhhhhhh I have a post brewing lol. I could sense a tsunami heading towards me from
the eye rolling in UEA

The Crystal Seagulls, to sound completely condescending, a bunch of baby faced assassins
ready to jump and slaughter the music industry in the very near future. If this doesn't
happen I'll be asking serious questions of the music industry.

With a vibe and maturity securely riveted in the classic sounds and bands of the British
Isles, infectious guitars, fun addictive bass section that marries perfectly to the lyrics.
It's easy to hear the greats of the 90s that have influenced these lads from London. Oasis,
Blur and the Libertines. Blend this with ageless legends like The Jam, Kinks and the
Stones and you have a mixture that will get the foot tapping and a smile appearing on your

On first hearing the EP Crystal Seagulls I instantly thought these lads are plum for an Indie
Dunes Q&A I was right (I generally am). The lads accepted the invitation in a flash. So
lets get into that and let the boys tell us about the music in their own words answering my
Deep Probing musical industry type questions

Take a deep breath, lets swoop on the discarded hotdog and chip at the beach with the
Crystal Seagulls

1. G'day Lads, lets get started. Most important of all, this post cant go ahead if
the answer isn't answered correctly. You guys are London based, any Arsenal

Ben does...well he claims he does. Im a big West Brom fan, Jimbo supports United but
he’s from London so that doesn’t count ever and Els supports his legs because his legs
support him..

So, Ben hasn't got a lot going for him at the moment, a drummer and an
Arsenal Fan. His parents must be very proud ;) Noting the other teams you are
obviously all a bit soft. I like Els. He seems switched on

2. So that's set the tone, now we just need to clarify that your answers are
your true honest answers? Because after hearing your track Ups and Downs,
we don't want your answers influenced with you lads trying to keep girlfriends
happy with mature responses

Don’t worry I wont let the ol’ ball and chain anywhere near this I promise.

3. Did you consider lying on your profile and saying you were from Manchester
for instant success and admiration?

We did consider that but soon realised its not the early 90’s anymore. I’m currently trying to befriend any member of One Direction, piece it, and then sell a kiss and tell story to the papers coz I’m a crazy slut like that and get proper rich and famous off it and release a fragrance.

Mm hmmmmmm well ok then.

4. Tell us about where the name came from, conjures images of Precious

Jimbo said it one day when we were thinking of names, he said it and we all said “yep”.

Nice to see you had an in-depth discussion on the whys and wherefores. Why
banter when Yep cuts the crap and you can get back to making cool tunes.

5. If you ever change your name would you consider Fragile Gannets or The Stained
Glass Albatross

Gannets are greedy as fuck!

6. Musical heroes, who inspired you create such a great sound (serious
question, got to be at least one)

Jay from 5ive.

7. If you could draft in an outside expert to help tweak your sound, how
would you choose (and don't say George Feeking Martin or worse still, Andy

Jay from 5ive.

8. Lads you created a rich full honest sound, yet you are still young......weeeee
babbies in fact, I'm old enough to be your Dad!!! So I must ask this question.
You are careful, aren't you? when you play these jigs....ummmm with the
groupsters, that's what they are called aren't they, lad.....? (I said this in a
broad Yorkshire accent for some reason...)

We in this band wouldn't know any of that life because we exclusively deal in inter-band physical relations, it helps smooth the writing process.

9. Second and last Dad question, When you gonna grow up and get a real job?
Or in other words what do you get up to away from the band?

3 of us are still educating ourselves at various institutions and the other is a full time fudge packer at the local fudge packery.

I want the name of the Fudge Packer!!!!!!!

Stunned silence from all members for at least 30 seconds.

10. I notice Ben "the drummer" is the only one not credited with vocals, just cant be arsed, as drumming is hard enough or mics just to expensive? 

Nah he’s just too busy looking all sexy for the laydeez.

11. Which track out of the 3 listed would you like to put your own Crystal
Seagulls onto and make it something new.

Elvis- Viva Las Vegas
Barry Manilow - Cococabana
Cliff Richard - Wire for Sound

I’d probably have to say cococabana so I could serenade my nan, she’d check that. "Wired for sound" is a club banger thou still.

12. Final Question......You are the Crystal Seagulls, There is a bag of chips. Who is gonna be the first in and hog them, and who is the one with the gammy foot waiting for the dregs. Ohhhhh actually that could also apply to the jigs/groupster Dad question, but lets just keep it at the chips.

As with every problem this band ever encounters i’d of course encourage some form of naked mud wrestle. But then obviously unknown to us mid wrestle a greedy little fucking gannet would swoop in on the blind side and eat them all.

13 Oh I forgot. Deal sealer for Fishy Xbox or Playstation...

Xbox all day!!!

So there we go.

If you learned Sweet FA about the Crystal Seagulls love of music and their will to succeed
from that QandA, welcome to the club. ;) What does stand out like the proverbial dog
balls is that these lads are into having a laugh and they are going to let you hear how serious they are by letting the tunes speak for themselves.

As an older music blogger living in Australia the QandA stimulated my desire to find out who the hell Jay was and what kind of band 5ive were. After research I can safely say they got bugger all chance of getting him to help out. THANKFULLY

The EP has three quality tracks all highlighting the lads skills and understanding of what
makes people want to listen. Starting off with Play Dead the perfect opening track for a
young band. It grabs you from the opening chord and doesn't let you go.

2nd track its slows down with the Oasis styled "Yours for as long as you keep me"

The final track and probably my favourite of the 3 is "Ups and Downs" An upbeat track
which teleports me back to the excitement I felt when I first heard the bootlegged Arctics
album. It's rocky, it's bouncy and its bloody great played loud driving home after a shite

The lads have been actively gigging in these last few weeks. Coming soon is a show with
previously Indie Dunes blogged band The Bedroom Hour (being on here didn't harm then
at all, not positive it advance the cause either though lol) 

Unfortunately the Indie Dunes bus doesn't stop near the venues so we are hoping to read some positive reviews from all new devotees of this fantastic new talent.

Suppose I better wrap up, I've crapped on a bit today.

The Crystal Seagulls might look like a group of baby faced assassins. But they have the
brief to blow your head and socks off with quality songs that will be replayed, loudly and frequently on any device you listen to music on!!

Stalk Options:


Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Online Festival Presents - Indievidual - First of Many

The shortened darker days of a northern hemisphere winter, where snow covers the fields (and everything else for that matter). A brown salted icy slush sits at the side of the road. It doesn't seem plausible, never mind appealing going away from the comfort of your own warm inviting home and heading towards the wide open spaces of the countryside. As the night closes in, the front door pushed and locked closed, it would be easy to feel a sense of seclusion, maybe isolation if you are home alone.

Yet if you are reading this, music is obviously a friend of yours, something there to kept the seclusion and loneliness of winter at bay. Thoughts might even be turning to those most fabulous times that lay ahead in the summer months (or hrs, if you live in the UK) commonly referred to as Festival Season WoooooHoooooooooo. A quick search on the internet at some of the talent parading on the big stages can lead to a racing heart and numbers rolling in a downward spiral from the electronic banking page.

Here enters Why wait for summer!! What a great concept and it's an idea that seems to be working, attracting the bright sparks in the music industry that dance around like a firework in the dark sky. Too many times talented, good young new bands flash on the scene and disappear because there are too few places to get maximum exposure to an excited passionate audience. Working in tandem with Hourglass Recordings the Online Festival is achieving a place to go.

Hourglass are a new independent record label whose mission it is to discover, develop and ultimately market the amazing new talent that is out there. Specifically talent that has the special unique qualities that today’s extremely demanding and challenging music market requires; real passion, energy, drive, a professional edge and above all, the ability to create great original music.

It's great to hear the philosophy of the main players behind this idea, it's refreshing and here it is in their own words:

"We aim to give our artists a first step on the music ladder and offer them our help and support in releasing their music to a worldwide audience as well as helping them reach their full potential and building up the brand that they can be. Our short term contracts are ideal for new bands, musicians or producers who are looking to sign to a label but are afraid to commit long term to somebody new for the first time. We will be looking at offering single or E.P deals to artists to enable them the backing of a label but without the shackles of a lengthy contract. We hope to become a stepping stone label for members and help them on their way to a successful career in the music industry".

All interested singers/songwriters, new bands, DJ`s, producers, rappers and rockers please register to to share your music with the world. Create a profile page and then upload your songs, mixes and live tracks. Add pictures and videos or live gig footage and share information about upcoming releases, gigs or events.

Obviously this is great for the bands, but let's look at this from an Indie Dunes perspective. We are far away from those green grassy fields. We are from the sandy dunes, it's not just baron of green things, its devoid of these mass gatherings of talent. Fishie, lives in more of a talent desert than Toon. He at least gets a few one day events full of established and emerging bands. I'm sure the Indie Dunes team are not alone in feeling a little empty and "left out" when all the festivals are filling the booking sheets.

So certain parts of the body get a tingle when you also read that it's all about getting people involved, not just the bands. also want music fans and festival goers who enjoy their music, to share their thoughts and opinions with other like-minded people. You can sign up now for free and share your musical knowledge and tastes with our community. Members can also create a member page and then upload or share your favorite music and vids with other members. Review your last gig or discuss future festival line ups. Just like in tent cities and streets of porta loo's everyone is welcome to mix and mingle.

The first release to come from the Online Festival and Hourglass Recordings collaboration is "Indievidual" a compilation of donated tunes showcasing the exciting talent just waiting for a break. Well they got it!!! A great collection of the of tracks, highlighting perfectly the diversity within the online festival. Fishie took time out to ask @daveyhub a few things about the CD and the festivals plans for the future:

The tunes have been donated by the bands - from this I assume that the proceeds from the sales are intended for something else, not going back to the bands?

The bands/ musicians have kindly donated their songs to us and they are all members of anyway. The deal is we sell the album at a reduced price , around £5 depending on the online store, and the proceeds will be split 50/50 between the new record label Hourglass recordings and website. This way we get funds towards the upkeep/ improvement of the festival website as we have no other income streams at the minute and also we get funds towards the label which will ultimately go back to helping the new bands & musicians who sign to us.

The name of the compilation is Indievidual - will it include urban and dance compilations, too?

I was going to cover all genres under the name Indievidual but I got sent in so many decent guitar based songs I've decided to keep Indievidual as indie/rock/acoustic. I am already putting together Vol 2 which should be released in a couple of weeks. I will also be looking after our dance / urban community with a new compilation called Ultrasonic . Vol 1 is nearly ready too. It made sense to try and keep them apart but still cover different aspects of each type of music if you know what I mean.

Is the online festival going to step out of the virtual and into some muddy fields, tents n all? :)

Well we are still in our infancy as website/label but my dream is to one day have a proper real life festival. Or even just get our own stage at a more established festival would be good. I know we have enough members to fill a good size stage over a weekend. I am looking at putting on a one day event around the end of May ( prob the bank holiday sun ) involving bands / musicians from the website in a 500 capacity venue. Early days yet but we will keep people informed through our website.

Leaving the cyber fields (profile pages) of the and heading back to the great things about the festival season. Well this is from our limited point of view, you might not agree and that's good...Leave a comment HINT HINT. It's great to see the "Headliner Act" but I always get the biggest buzz seeing that "unknown" act on a back / small stage that blows you away and you need to hear more. That's the key factor for Iindie Dunes that keep us coming back, it's that cure for the "I need to hear more" craving.

We are not going to give an in-depth review of the CD, but at the bottom of post you will see a couple of songs that made our ears prick up and take notice, and should wet your ear's appetite to hear the rest of the compilation. I suppose the biggest compliment we have for "Indievidual" is that it has introduced us to a number of bands that we are hoping to feature on Indie Dunes in the near future. So stay tuned!!

Featured bands:

Mama Roux - Fire
Alexander Vann - I will be the air
Lisa Redford - Reminders
Orphan Boy - Letter for Annie
Velocets - Naked
The Vindickers - Buddy song
Transition, Baby! - Manners are wasted on you
Crystal Seagulls - Ups and downs
The Relics - Been down to the bottom
Sonnic Image - Sunday Sofa Sisters
The Revival - Katie
Stolen Heaven - Decent Shoes
Tomlin Leckie - Earthwaker
We came from the sea - dog dog dog
Cherry Head Cherry Heart - The Illusionist

You can grab the CD on iTunes, in the meantime, feast your ears on these:

Register and become part of the Online Festival collective here:
Checkout Hourglass Recordings here:

For more reviews of the Indievidual, read on here:
Ralph's review
Rock'n'Roll In My Soul's review

Spread the word, support indie bands! x

TICP - Volume 5 - Sadly the last one

IndieTernational - Germany

IndieTernational - India

Grab It: Cross Wires #supportindie

IndieTernational - Greece

IndieTernational - Italy

Debut: Blockhouse Bay #supportindie


IndieTernational - Finland