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Gig Review: ¡Forward, Russia! @ Manchester Academy 3, 27th April 2008

After a couple of years out of the limelight it must feel to ¡Forward, Russia! that they’re starting all over again. The last time we saw them it was in front of a healthy crowd in the Academy 2; just over a year later the Academy 3 was barely even half full.

With Johnny Foreigner stuck in Amsterdam it was left to The ABC Club to fill their support slot at short notice, and they did a fine, fine job. Their excellent six song set had me thinking of a collision between The Smiths and The Strokes; not a high-speed collision by any means, more like a fender bender, as the band were almost too laid back and impassive for comfort. However, there were plenty of clever guitar arrangements and dexterous Rourkesque basslines, though the band’s trump card is undoubtedly the striking vocals of Zandra Klievens, whose voice couples the nonchalant drawl of Julian Casablancas with Morrissey’s muted yodelling, in female form. Definitely a band to watch out for.

I’d heard of Grammatics before, but not actually heard them. They were fine – great musicians and the singer has a wonderful voice – but the songs lost their focus as the set wore on and began to elicit more proggy tendencies, leaving us thinking that in a couple of years time, Grammatics may well have fully completed their transformation into Muse.

The relatively small showing for ¡Forward, Russia! did nothing to dim the band’s enthusiasm. The great energy and intensity of their performance remained intact and the crowd responded with a highly animated mosh pit and plenty of crowd surfing and stage diving, some of it the highly dangerous knees first variety that had guitarist Whiskas remonstrating with the offenders. However, the sound mix was appalling: it sounded like the PA’s speaker cones had been stuffed with cotton wool and then submerged in a large tank of sludge. For a band whose music is all sharp edges and thunderous rhythms this had a huge bearing on my enjoyment of the gig.

Also on the downside, I’ve only heard the new album a couple of times and I’m distinctly underwhelmed by it. It certainly doesn’t fire on all cylinders like its predecessor, and it definitely gets a bit too proggy from time to time. I think that if I am going to like it then its going to take a while. With much of the set taken up by foggy renditions of the new material, I spent most of the gig completely impassive to what was going on on stage and in the crowd, “A Prospector Can Dream” the only new song that managed to raise the pulse a little, though the closing “Spanish Triangles” sounded much better than I remember it on record. The oldies they played were great, despite the sound, and included most of my favourites, with “Twelve” and “Nineteen” bringing back memories of previous glorious gigs. This was, however, the least fun I’ve had at a ¡Forward, Russia! gig. Hopefully the album is a bit of a grower and the band will get back to playing bigger venues over the next few months

¡Forward, Russia! – Nineteen

¡Forward, Russia!- A Prospector Can Dream

Posted by The Ledge on 6th May 2008 at 11:00 pm | comments (1)
File under forward russia,Gig Reviews,grammatics,Lists,manchester academy 3,mp3,Random comment,Reviews,the abc club.

Beth Ditto really needs to get over herself and see a doctor

Now, we’re not usually ones to comment on nonsense in the gossip columns here at Indie Cred, but a story I read this morning on Teletext really got me seething. Beth Ditto has apparently issued a press release thanking Keira Knightley for saying she has an “amazing body.” Now the irony of that strange celebrity pairing aside, I have, frankly, reached breaking point for being showered with a one-trick pony of a singer constantly drawing attention to herself by making it all about her weight.

The first I heard of The Gossip was at ATP two years ago where I had a couple of people tell me I should watch their set. They praised her amazing vocals, her stage presence, the fire behind the music, the merging of indie and retro electro sounds, of the sheer danceability and catchiness of the band’s sound. Not once did anybody mention her weight. In fact, the only person who mentioned Beth Ditto’s weight that day was Beth Ditto – when she apologised for being constantly out of breath and having to keep stopping for long breaks because her weight made it hard for her to keep up the pace.

A year later and The Gossip were everywhere with their mediocre teen anthem “Standing in the Way of Control” and suddenly Beth Ditto is in the media not talking about the band and the music she writes, but constantly talking about her weight and how people should see her as beautiful. Now, pardon me, but it seems to me that Miss Ditto seems to constantly go on about her body shape because she seems to need some reassurance that it’s ok to be morbidly obese, and she needs to know that her fans don’t mind the fact that she can’t perform as well as she should because she’s just too damned fat.

Now, certainly nobody should be judged on their appearance. We shouldn’t buy records because someone is attractive or unattractive and weight should never be an issue in whether somebody can sell records or write songs or, hell, run for public office, become an astro-physicist, etc. What all of this body image nonsense that comes out of Beth Ditto’s mouth ignores is that the issue with weight – whether you have too much of it or not enough – is health. We don’t find obesity unattractive because we’re anti-fat, we naturally find it unattractive because somebody who is morbidly obese is more likely to have health problems and die young from those health problems and, quite frankly, that is in itself highly unattractive.

The fact of the matter is that Beth Ditto already has trouble doing her job to the highest possible level because of her weight so no matter how many times she tells members of the press that “fat is beautiful” and it’s some sort of media conspiracy to say otherwise, she is simply wrong. I’m not talking about being a few pounds overweight or struggling to keep to the perfect size 10, I’m talking about someone who clearly struggles to perform on stage because she’s carrying so many extra pounds around that she gets out of breath easily. The media saying she’s beautiful and praising her body image is frankly just as bad as the media pointing to a stick insect like Keira Knightley and saying that should be some sort of beauty ideal (frankly their weight shouldn’t be a major issue in the media at all, but hey ho). A person at either weight is going to feel vile most of the time and have associated health issues.

Now all this nonsense about how the media should promote an atmosphere which makes young girls think it is ok to be so overweight as to be unhealthy so they don’t feel ugly aside (personally, I’d rather be skull-crushingly ugly than suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes and be prone to all sorts of cancers and other nasty illnesses), the remark that really pissed me off was Miss Ditto saying “I don’t judge women for feeling they have to be thin, because they’re conditioned their whole lives to ‘hate yourself, hate yourself, hate yourself’. I judge the world for being so anti-female.”

Now excuse me, but what?

The whole world is anti-female because magazines have a bad tendency of showcasing unhealthily skinny models?

Ok, yes, telling young girls that they have to be ridiculously thin is wrong, and saying that women should aim to be the ideal size 10 is idiotic because we’re all differently sized and shaped. But how does this make the world anti-female, and how does this amount to conditioning women to hate themselves?

Women are universally worshipped in art, in literature, in music. According to Greek mythology, two countries fought an all-out war over a woman. All around me all my life I have always been told that being a woman should not stop me from achieving anything I wanted, and never once did any of this come down to my weight or appearance.

The fact that girls want to look pretty and want to emulate their heroes has nothing to do with society as a whole having it in for its women or forcing them to starve themselves to meet some vile idea of beauty. Surely the problem is more that we give far too much space in the media for vapid “celebrities” and we suggest that girls should strive to be famous rather than striving to make the world a better place. The problem is that we are making the wrong people role models for our children by equating visibility in the media with greatness.

Beth Ditto, in my mind, is doing just as much harm as any vastly underweight celebrity by telling girls that they should be focussing on body image and by suggesting that it’s ok to be unhealthy and that society has it in for them and by also focussing on these same vapid, useless celebrities instead of the types women they should be trying to emulate.

Surely a strong female role model should be encouraging impressionable young women that they can be however they want to be so long as they don’t sell themselves short or settle for less either by thinking they have to accept their body shape if it stops them from feeling healthy and doing things that they want to do or by allowing anybody to tell them that something is out of their reach simply because they are female. We should be encouraging young women to strive for more than five minutes on the news or a story in a tabloid. We should be telling these girls that their appearance is not important, that what they do for the world they live in is key; that having a snapshot in a magazine is hardly an achievement when they could be working to educate people, to save their lives, to find cures for diseases, create great works of art, invent things that will make people’s lives better, work towards peace, towards helping end poverty or any of these great ideals which drive society forward, not hold it down by keeping it engaged in a pointless debate about whether some moderately-talented singer should be on the cover of some useless music magazine simply because she has an unhealthy diet.

And now for some strong, female music to wash that rant down:

Sonic Youth – Swimsuit Issue

PJ Harvey – 50ft Queenie

Echobelly – Give Her a Gun

Posted by JustHipper on 20th December 2007 at 1:05 pm | comments (112)
File under female singers,Random comment,Rant.

News: The 2007 Manchester Blog Awards

It’s not music specifically, it’s local bloggerati fun and games, but The Manchizzle is now taking nominations for the 2007 Manchester Blog awards, to be held at the same time The Decemberists are playing in Liverpool. Boo! Hiss!

Seriously though, it’s great to see local bloggers supporting each other and if you’re in the area and not otherwise engaged watching a really great band over in Liverpool, you should first nominate your favourite music blog and then make plans to attend the ceremony and watch and cheer as a more deserving blog wins the category.

Posted by JustHipper on 6th August 2007 at 8:50 pm | comments (3)
File under News,Random comment.

Oldness comes with a smile…

old old old

Things seem to have ground to a halt around here. It’s not that we’ve run out of gigs to review – we’ve got a huge backlog – it’s just that both of us have been suffering from a serious lack of motivation. JustHipper has a decent excuse: she started a new job last month and it’s longer hours and a much longer drive so she’s exhausted most of the time. I, on the other hand, had the dubious distinction of turning forty a couple of weeks ago and I can’t say I enjoyed it very much.

Turning thirty was something I did quite enjoy. I felt that I’d drifted through my twenties waiting for my life to get started and I knew on my thirtieth birthday that the next decade would be infinitely better. Just over six months later I met JustHipper and the next ten years were the best of my life, our 4th wedding anniversary the day after my birthday was a considerable consolation. But at forty I’m starting to feel old, conscious of the likelihood that I’ve passed the halfway line on the great football pitch of life. I spent the first week of my forties initiating a program of home improvements, getting people in to install a new garden fence, replace the garage roof, cut down trees. I’m slowing down, settling in, taking stock. I think I’m starting to enjoy gardening. If only it would stop raining.

Despite my disappointment at reaching such a grand old age (not that I had much choice) I can’t really think of a better year to be born than 1967, from a musical point of view at least. There can’t be many people around who have had the good fortune to see live the likes of The Jam, The Smiths, R.E.M. (in their 80s heyday), The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, My Bloody Valentine, The Go-Betweens, The Triffids, Pixies, Nirvana, Galaxie 500, Ride, The Field Mice, Stereolab, Radiohead, Neil Young and more recently The Hold Steady, Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene and, er, Pixies. If I stopped going to gigs now I could look back on my gig-going life with a great satisfaction, R.E.M. at the Gallery in 1984 and the Pixies/Throwing Muses double header at the Manchester International in 1988 are the only two gigs I can think of that I really regret missing out on. I won’t stop though – I can’t. On more than one occasion I found myself in a tent at a festival standing next to the great John Peel watching someone like Hefner or The Delgados. If John Peel could attend gigs in his sixties then there’s no reason why I, or anyone else, can’t.

I’ve felt old at gigs before: as long ago as 1995 I found myself surrounded by small children, seemingly no older than twelve, at the much missed Duchess Of York in Leeds waiting for Feeder to take the stage. Moments after they had I was making my way back to the bar, head bowed, wearing the majority of my pint of Tetleys over my Sonic Youth t-shirt. I’ve never forgiven Feeder for that. At a CSS gig earlier this year I stood among people my own age: parents of the screaming teenagers at the front.

Hopefully normal service on this blog will resume fairly soon, not that we ever had anything you could call “normal service”. I’m almost over my mini mid-life crisis. I’m off to Fopp with a spring in my step for a bit of musical retail therapy. Bugger.

The Clean – Getting Older

Red House Painters – 24 (Only Mark Kozelek could be this miserable about turning 24)

Green On Red – Time Ain’t Nothing

The Jam – When You’re Young

Posted by The Ledge on 30th June 2007 at 4:25 pm | comments (16)
File under mp3,News,Random comment.

David vs. Goliath – the Net Radio Version

Thanks to Pitchfork for running a story about the possible demise of net radio. As it stands right now, royalties for internet radio stations in the U.S. are set to rise in mid-July to such an exorbitant rate that only the big companies will be able to afford to pay, putting the little indies, the stations that introduce us all to the great and the unusual and the new, out of business.

This is yet another example of the corporate music industry not understanding that it is slowly killing itself. If small radio stations prosper then people hear records they wouldn’t otherwise hear and they maybe go out and buy them. If these stations die off, then people aren’t going to turn to the big corporate stations, they’re going to start downloading more tracks and once they’ve downloaded them are probably less likely to buy the CDs.

In any case, it’s a travesty because it’s the small indies who set the trends and who turn us on to the best stuff. So, go register your disapproval with and help them keep the rates at their current level.

Posted by JustHipper on 21st May 2007 at 8:13 pm | comments (6)
File under News,Random comment.

The Big Indie Credential Autumn Clear-Out

Well you may have noticed, all three of you, that things have been a little slow on the Indie Credential front of late. Our last post was over a month ago and the last gig we reviewed took place over two months ago (if you don’t count JustHipper’s Hidden Cameras review that she put up earlier today). We’ve been to plenty of gigs since Voxtrot but we admit we took our eye off the ball somewhat. That’s all about to change, hopefully, with a new site design, the addition of downloadable mp3s and a new resolution to get gig reviews up within three days of the gig. Hmmm, we’ll see….

In the meantime, and for our own archiving purposes if nothing else, here’s a brief round-up of the gigs we failed to blog.

My Morning Jacket at Manchester Academy 2Way back on August 23rd we went to see My Morning Jacket at Manchester Academy 2 and they were utterly magnificent. It had been a long wait to see them again after they canceled their 2005 UK tour when Jim James was recovering from a bout of pneumonia. James and his extraordinary voice were in rude health at the Academy 2 and the band more than made up for their long absence with a blistering set that took in almost all of their excellent Z album as well as a few classics like the twin guitar rampage of “One Big Holiday”, the spine-tingling loveliness of “The Way That He Sings” and majestic closer “Mahgeetah”. New guitarist Carl Broemel is a more than welcome addition to the MMJ ranks and new keyboard player Bo Koster is no slouch either. The Z material sounded stunning and with the amps turned up to 11 the band made the recorded versions sound positively twee.

A couple of days later we caught The Aliens at the Night & Day and they were awful; a shambolic mess of styles, none of them any good. 70s cock rock rubbed shoulders with dire attempts to replicate the Beta Band’s electro-folk excellence and there was even a misguided stab at Nick Cave style piano balladry. There were interminable gaps between songs as equipment broke down, guitars were tuned up, band members pissed about, and the crowd, sizeable and enthusiastic though it was, didn’t help matters by being full of dicks, like the drunk guy who pushed his way to the front and pissed off just about everyone in his vicinity (JustHipper mentions this here); or the guy in front of me who was so obsessed with people chatting during the songs (even though the level of chatter wasn’t too bad) that he spent most of the gig looking over his shoulder, scowling at and shushing people, which ended in a big argument with the guy behind me who continued to wind him up throughout the show, much to my amusement. Three members of The Aliens used to be in The Beta Band. It is now fairly obvious to us where the talent in that band lay. The night wasn’t a total loss as earlier we had enjoyed Canadians Born Ruffians‘ angular indie pop and the excellent Leeds band iLiKETRAiNS who, if you like the idea of a post-rock Tindersticks, then you’ll love.

Broken Social Scene at Liverpool Academy 2Two Liverpool gigs in two nights followed. We were surprised to find that Broken Social Scene were playing the tiny Academy 2 on 30th August when we were expecting them to be on in the main hall. They just about managed to fit on stage and put in yet another excellent performance with Lisa Lobsinger again on female vocal duties as she was at their amazing Manchester Academy 2 gig back in February. Though this gig wasn’t quite up to the same standards due mainly to the sound limitations of the venue it was still a real pleasure to see the band so up close and personal.

The night after we were at the Korova Bar in Liverpool to see Tapes ‘n Tapes. The Korova is tiny and was packed out, hot and sticky. It was another great gig however with geeky electro indie popsters To My Boy opening proceedings followed by Liverpool’s own sleazy art rockers Hot Club De Paris who impressed us very much with their superb close harmonies and tawdry tales of inner city debauchery. Tapes were on fine form, much better than when we’d seen them last supporting You Say Party! We Say Die! at the Music Box. It helped that they got to play a full set this time including a couple of promising newies. They certainly seem to have benefited from their incessant touring and seemed tighter and more energised than at the Music Box. On this showing it was easy to see why all the US bloggers were getting themselves in a tizzy over this band at the start of the year.

Swedish popsters Love Is All were next. They played the Roadhouse on September 16th. JustHipper had bought their album a few weeks before but I hadn’t got round to listening to it. I listened to nothing else for the next week after an exhilarating performance; their spiky pop punk and the screechy vocals of singer Josephine Olausson bringing to mind defunct Scottish oddballs Life Without Buildings.

Finally, I went alone to see Mogwai at the Academy on 24th September, JustHipper not being too enamoured of the whole post rock thing. It must have been around 6 years since I last saw Mogwai and it didn’t take long for me to realise how much I’d missed them. It was a formidable performance, the dense, layered sound of their recordings brilliantly reproduced in live setting. The set spanned their whole career from early tracks like “Summer” and an incredible “Helicon 1” through to a new track from the Zidane soundtrack played in the encore. The highlights were the back-to-back renditions of “Hunted By A Freak” and “Ratts Of The Capital” with Barry Burns’ brilliant vocoder work bringing that extra dimension to the sound, and the closing euphoric rockfest of “We’re No Here”. What struck me most about the performance was the absence of any of their signature longer tracks such as “Like Herod” and “Mogwai Fear Satan”. This was very much for the better as it made for a much more varied set that I had previously been used to all those years ago.

Posted by The Ledge on 25th October 2006 at 9:51 pm | comments (12)
File under Random comment.

Gig-Goer of the Week, Part 4

So, tonight we’ve been to see The Boy Least Likely To at the Academy 3. Per usual, the proper review is forthcoming, this really needs saying instead.

Now, I’ve said it a few times, but I’m tiny. At gigs I have a hard time finding a place to see. Tonight was a bumper night because I found a spot near the front but not right at the front (which is always better) behind and to the left of a group of 3 teenage girls, 2 of whom were almost as small as me. They were stood where they were because there were small females in their line of vision to the stage as well. On the other side of them were two women, also quite small in stature. For me this is the greatest thing that can happen at a gig – finding myself in a clump of friendly, small females who understand my predicament and who are going to be friendly and polite and will enjoy themselves and not talk through the whole performance. Yay.

So, about 2 minutes before the band come on this woman elbows up beside me, trying to get in the small gap between me and the young girls. So, I moved half an inch, just in an attempt to assert where I’m standing. So she takes this as a cue to elbow me a few times. I love it, really, people who rock up just as the band come on, push their way to the front and cause everyone to be uncomfortable and lose their view. When this woman realised I was not moving for her she stepped back a bit. I thought I was safe. Ha.

About a song and a half into the set this woman and her boyfriend decided to move, so they shoved past me quite roughly, past the girls in front of me and down into the front/middle of the crowd. They were promptly ejected as they’d pushed in where there was no space. So they thought it would be okay to move to in front of the girls in front of me and they got shouted at by the crowd around them more. Then they tried to stop in front of me, and got shoved again, shouted at by me and the girls. So they ended up between me and The Ledge, who’d been stood behind me. I got a few more elbows before the woman realised I really was not moving for her and she shifted to be behind the two women on the other side of the girls. Then the boyfriend tapped me on the shoulder and said “I’m sorry.” I gave him a look which I think expressed exactly what I was thinking about his apology – he should not have done anything to warrant having to make it. He then leaned in to The Ledge and tried to justify his behavior only to be told that The Ledge was on my side and that I had a good reason for being annoyed as this sort of thing happens all too often to me. This is the point at which one of the women they were stood behind left for a couple of minutes to go to the bar.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, somebody, but if someone leaves their spot at a not full show (any show really, but there was space here) and their friend stays, it’s polite to assume they’re coming back and will want to come back to where they were. I mean, why would you not let them do that?

Apparently when you think you are the most important people in the gig and everyone should move for you is when.

Oh yes, first they tried to not let this girl back in where she had been stood. Then they decided to start screaming at her. All I could hear was “Move out of my way” and a few expletives. And the sound of shouting. And these two nice women trying to say that this couple needed to shut up and let them watch the gig, they weren’t moving cause they’d been there first. Which seemed fair to me. But this couple disagreed and spent a few minutes shouting at them about it, thereby nearly causing a fight and disrupting the gig for everyone in the vicinity. And it meant we missed the throwing of cake.

So here’s this week’s gig etiquette lesson:
You do not have a right to stand anywhere in particular. If someone is there before you, they do not have to move and you should not try to make them move just so you can see. If you want to be at the front arrive early. If you want to stand in front of someone smaller than you, be polite and ask them if it’s a problem. Don’t just barge in. And never assume that just because someone’s walked off and left their friends that they are not coming back.

Posted by JustHipper on 30th April 2006 at 11:05 pm | comments (2)
File under Gig-goer of the Week,Random comment.

Gig-Goer of the Week, Part 3

Ahh Morrissey. The lovely lovely Morrissey. We saw him last night on the opening night of the tour at the Lowry in Salford. More on that later as it will be easier to review it in tandem with the Leeds gig tomorrow night. This space is all about the Morrissey fans.

Now, I have no beef with Morrissey fans. In fact, I rather love being around other Morrissey fans. Mainly because people who aren’t Morrissey fans really don’t get it. They don’t get it so much that they think Morrissey lyrics are depressing. They are tasteless fools, the lot of them. Morrissey fans, however, on the whole are a clever lot. And every single one feels a very strong personal connection to just about every song that ever came from his pen. Last night, although I didn’t attempt to test my theory, I am fairly certain that everybody in the room pretty much knew every song he played or might have played.

So, why is there always one fucktard (or two) who thinks they are a bigger fan than everyone else in the room, that getting to see him is more important to them than anyone else in the room, and wants everyone in the room, including good old Moz himself, to know it. Why as well does this person, or in this case people, always seem to think that despite being, quite literally, one row of seats from the top of a very large, very tall theatre, despite it being dark, Morrissey having a giant spotlight in his face and there being, oh, a couple thousand other places to look, that if they waved frantically for 80 minutes he might actually see them, point them out and wave back?

Now it might seem that I was fixated on this couple when I should have been watching the Mozfather, but that’s not actually the case. They were, in fact, completely and wholly blocking my view when the gig started. Luckily there were no seats directly behind me so I moved up a row and stood behind my chair, and they were still obscuring my view. Mainly because they had big heads which they had pressed together, but also because of the manic arm-waving. And the fact they kept trying to tango. And they were banging into the people on either side of them. I was waiting for a fight to break out, they were that exuberant in their dancing. They were not in exactly the best location for a maniacal crazy-person dance. And they were probably 25-30 years too old to avoid looking like total fools.

So yeah, middle-aged couple, trying to wave to Morrissey from the top row of the Lowry, dancing and banging into people in a seated venue. Yes yes, we all got it, they were fans. But if they weren’t fans, why would they have been there? So what exactly did they think they were proving to the world?

So kids, this week’s gig etiquette tip:
If you’re at a gig, people assume you’re a fan of the band or artist. You don’t need to prove how much you like them, especially if it nearly starts a fight.

Posted by JustHipper on 19th April 2006 at 8:50 pm | comments (0)
File under Gig-goer of the Week,Random comment.

XFM Manchester: An Apology

We at The Indie Credential do hereby apologise for a post that went up a couple of weeks ago that suggested that with the launch of XFM Manchester our great city might be getting the radio station that its rich heritage of alternative music deserves. Oasis, Coldplay, Richard Ashcroft, Oasis again, Corinne David Gray, U2? We were sooo wrong. Sorry.

And now we can’t even get the superior XFM London on DAB anymore. Damnation!

Posted by The Ledge on 24th March 2006 at 6:15 pm | comments (8)
File under Random comment.

Hopes for 2006

As we’ve yet to attend our first gig of the new year or buy any new CDs (no, we’ve not bothered with the Strokes album for the time being), I suppose now is as good a time as any to reflect on the music I’m most looking forward to in the next 12 months.

So far there’s an impressive list of future releases. By far the ones that pique my interest the most are new offerings from current favourite The Shins, Morrissey‘s Ringleader of the Tormentors and the rumoured solo offering from Brett Anderson co-written with Fred Ball and possibly featuring an appearance by Richard Hawley. I’m also looking forward to hearing new releases from Belle & Sebastian, Neko Case, Calexico, The Dears, Jarvis Cocker and The Secret Machines. Not to mention the live CD/DVD from Eels. It should be a bumper year as these are only the ones I know about, and that from bands I already love.

Here at Indie Cred HQ we’re also already getting geared up for festival season. I know January (actually, December) seems a bit early, but a Shins-curated day at All Tomorrow’s Parties featuring in one afternoon not only The Shins, but also The Decemberists and The New Pornographers sounded like the best way to spend a day either of us could think of. We’ve never been to ATP before because we’ve never had friends willing (or, more to the point, able) to go with us so it would have been too pricey. Finally you can buy tickets in pairs and share a chalet with strangers. Daunting, perhaps, but so is sharing a field with loads of drunken teenagers prone to rioting and that always works out in the end too. Which brings us to Leeds Festival. I’d love to say this year that I spent a whole day in the New Bands tent. It probably won’t happen as there’s always too much going on across every stage, but it would be interesting. We’ll see.

We’ve also started ticket-buying for the next couple of months. I’m especially looking forward to seeing Nick Cave, Death Cab for Cutie, Calexico and Iron & Wine and Broken Social Scene. We’re also waiting in anticipation of Morrissey announcing that 4-night Manchester residency we’ve heard talk of as well as some proper tours from those bands releasing new albums. I’d love to see some more great up-and-coming bands and look forward to seeing more of the likes of Nephew and Forward Russia, amongst others.

Now is also that point where I can settle in with all the CDs I didn’t get to know very well last year. I’ve promised myself to give the proper time and attention to a number of CDs I liked on first listen but haven’t spent a lot of time with: Wolf Parade, Elbow, The National, Sufjan Stevens, Stars, Broken Social Scene, Iron & Wine, Calexico & Iron & Wine, Okkervil River and Andrew Bird. That’s already a long list and probably means I’ll be doing the same thing this time next year with 2006’s records. I’ve yet to acquire copies of the second Rogue Wave album and the most recent New Pornographers CD. Both were on my Christmas list but nobody saw fit to buy me any CDs this year. Not even The Ledge. Oh well.

I’ve also decided that it’s ridiculous that in our CD collection I can count on one hand the albums we own that were made prior to 1976 (unless you count Ledge’s impressive collection of Neil Young and Leonard Cohen CDs). My mission for 2006 is to start looking backwards a bit at some records that influenced the bands I love and try and improve my musical knowledge. So far we’ve started with David Bowie, and I am getting used to his voice, which is what kept me from listening to him in the past. Next up: Bert Jansch, Bob Dylan (that voice thing again!) and The Small Faces. It’s a tall order, but I figure if I superglue my iRiver to my person and just wear headphones all the time, it will all become part of my subconscious.

As for the wishlist for the blog, we’re still working on a design. The Ledge is fast becoming a CSS supremo and I’m pushing him on the issues of web standards, SEO and both accessible and usable design so at some point we’re going to launch a spiffy new redesign which should be (mostly) squeaky clean and lovely on any browser or device. We are also going to get some MP3 content up on the site for your listening pleasure.

So here’s to a industrious and glorious musical 2006!

Posted by JustHipper on 8th January 2006 at 2:20 pm | comments (5)
File under Random comment.