Tuesday, 30 April 2013

-Music Videos on my Mind- The Smoking Trees’ “Persuaded Rendezvous”

The Smoking Trees comprises of two guys called Sir Psych and L.A AL who are based over in Los Angeles, making the kind of psychedelic pop records the region is renowned for.
Even though this track is distinctly Californian, they are signed to a British independent record label called Ample Play, a company that’s co-owned by Cornershop’s very own Tjinder Singh and Ben Ayres.
The Smoking Trees’ title pretty much tells you everything one may expect from group using clich├ęd recreational drug euphemisms for a band name, though, that doesn’t negate the enjoyably nonchalant summer fumes vibes this tune gives off. Therefore, it’s such a shame the music video is so much less imaginative than the actual sounds created. One guesses the recession has dented the pockets everyone, including those of clever stoners making cool music.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

-Music Videos on my Mind- Findlay’s “Off & On”

Manchester is God’s gift to music. As a city, nowhere on Earth compares to it, producing legendary bands after bands, forever inspiring music lovers the world over.
Manchester is also one of the most depressing and downtrodden places in Britain, renowned for its poverty, danger and crime.
Findlay is a 21-year-old girl hailing from Manchester, and totally sums up everything that is fascinatingly complex about the city. Her bluesy voice is aggressively dirty and tender, also being both soulful and with a sense of purpose. Meshed with rhythms to get people dancing, Findlay might be the act that gets kids back into guitar music, though; unfortunately, the current pop zeitgeist still seems very much stacked against her.
At a time when rock ’n’ roll seems dead in the Britain, along comes this song to prick-up ears and promote a sense of optimism that the future of good music is perhaps in the hands of talented white girls with guitars.
If music video doesn’t convince you, download the song for free and listen repeatedly until it does.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

-Music Videos on my Mind- Charles Bradley’s “Strictly Reserved for You”

Charles Bradley is the embodiment of the American Dream, even though most Americans probably don’t even know of him.
Born in Florida in 1948, Bradley was abandoned by his mother and raised by grandparents. His mother, who he never met until after the age of eight, eventually reclaimed him and moved to New York. His unhappy home life led to him running away and sleeping rough for years until he eventually found a job as a chef in Maine which lasted a decade; after which he hitchhiked west to spend a further twenty years working odd jobs to make ends meet.
Despite Bradley’s inauspicious formative years, he cites his big sister taking him to the Apollo Theatre in 1962 where a James Brown performance dazzled him into wanting to be like the icon. He has spent his life performing in local clubs as a James Brown impersonator, hoping that his own talents may outshine the mimicry routine he had been pigeonholed in to.
They say everything happens for a reason. Even though it is easy to dismiss Bradley’s act as outdated, camp and pastiche, his voice is something else. This is a man whose time is now, and it’s a reminder of what natural talent truly is. Whereas Bradley may have just been another ephemeral soul singer had he found success fifty years ago, in this day and age he is nothing short of timeless.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Music Videos of Innocence and of Experience

In light of an earlier post concerning the torpid state of pop music being made by youngsters and middle-aged producers that continue to pedal out vapid chart songs (think Taylor Swift et al), it has become apparent that we haven’t had a proper generational shift in over a decade.
Generational shifts are sociologically very important. Kids and the things they get up tothe clothes they wear, movies they watch, language they use and the music they listen toshould be specific to their era of adolescence and ought to be very much viewed with suspicion by elders. Nowadays it is not uncommon for kids and their parents to watch the same reality television shows, read the same books, use the same slang (bling!) and listen to the same records. This is a disappointing reality and at odds with the way things have been for the last fifty years. Who can forget James Dean accusing his elders of tearing him apart in the 1950s, or The Breakfast Club pinning all its depression on parental figures in the 1980s, yet this current generation has no snarling animosity to the very group they traditionally rebelled against: adults.
The Millennium Generation consists of people born between the late 1970s and mid-1990s, which probably encapsulates most of those reading this blog, has been bereft of generational angst the way its predecessors were. They have grown up in an era where nihilism and aimlessness have not been defining characteristics, not in the way it was for beatniks in the ‘50s, punks in the ‘70s, or slackers in the early ‘90s.
Times have changed and it’s not surprising that the occurrences of recognisable generational shifts, which materialised in post-war Europe and America when greater affluence and detached nuclear family living became standard, have now pretty much vanished. The post-war way of life put money into youth cultures and enabled them to create independent collective identities.  The Millennium Generation is potentially the first group of people that are more dependent on their parents for financial/ emotional support even into early adulthood, perhaps having to engage in intergenerational living in order to make ends meet. In that sense it’s no wonder the Millennium Generation has failed make its cultural mark on history. It hasn’t had the money or space to find itself, and has been further stifled by new methods of parenting where mums and dads want to be their child’s best friends instead of authoritarian figures. Who knows, but you can’t help feeling that this generation has really missed out on not having had its moment in the spotlight.
Before we lose all hope, below are two new music videos from emerging talents that showcase this generation’s ability to counter conventions and produce material of admirable originality.
FOXYGEN’S SAN FRANCISCO
This band consists of a bunch of 22-year-olds (same age as Taylor Swift) that have taken their love of ‘60s psychedelic pop tunes and irksome Wes Anderson movies to another level. San Francisco is their new song which both satirises a love of all things retro while also honouring it in an honest way. Its tongue may be firmly in cheek but there is no doubting their passion for everything that has inspired them. It’s a lovely song.

SOAP&SKIN’S SUGARBREAD
Anja Plaschg is a 22-year-old Austrian musician (also the same age as Taylor Swift), but her output is the antithesis of most of the music her generation is celebrated for. In fact, Plaschg is an entirely different beast, where the very look of her provokes unease. Sugarbread is her new song and video, but a word of warning is needed. While the video doesn’t feature anything egregiously brutal, the way it is edited and spliced together with stock footage from various European silent films and documentaries makes the viewer believe they’re witnessing something more unpleasant than what it actually is. It’s a massively powerful artistic piece, and the experimental nature of the music further heightens discomfort levels. It’s a frighteningly good construction, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re of nervous disposition then perhaps you ought to skip it completely, but gosh, will you be missing out on something exceptional.