Thursday, 25 February 2010

Chew Lips - Sneaky Petes Edinburgh 27 Jan 2010

A version of this review is also published in The Journal.

The show opened with Leith based outfit My Tiny Robots, appropriate to the electro-disco genre of the other bands in name alone. The band gave a rather awkward and self-conscious performance, switching between instruments at every opportunity: including guitars, bass, synth, drums, trumpet, melodica, maracas and ukulele. Unfortunately they seemed to think a variety in instrumentation could make up for their lack of performance skills. Only their lead singer had the charm and charisma to warrant the audience’s attention.

Conversely, every member of Glasgow four-piece Boycotts was a well oiled indie-disco machine. The female vocals had the toughness of alternative rock, without being angry or angsty, and were backed by very snappy high-hat beats on the drums, overdriven, fidgety guitar, and disco-funk rhythms on the bass. The songs are designed to get the heart pumping and the foot tapping, and succeeded.

By the time London based Chew Lips (picture by Edmund Fraser) came on stage, Edinburgh’s smallest venue was packed sardine-style. The band is made up of lead singer girl, Tigs, centre stage, flanked by her two musical lads: Will Sanderson and James Watkins. The drums and most of the bass is pre-programmed and sequenced. The boys play synthesisers most of the set, sounding very 8-bit and glitchy, but will sometimes pick up a guitar or bass to add some buzz. Tigs’s vocal parts are poppy like Little Boots or recent Kylie Minogue.

More than any other instrument, the use of drums can affect the on-stage energy of a band, and although programmed drums blend well with synthetic music, the atmosphere ultimately suffers without having someone banging the kit. Fortunately, that’s the only area where the band lacked energy. The singer skipped happily to cyber-bleeps, while the boys convulsed to the beat like they were receiving very well timed miniature electric shocks.

The stand-out song from the set was ‘Salt Air’, whose uplifting melody is a refreshing in contrast to the dance-punk claustrophobia of the rest of the set.

 Myke Hall

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Orange Slice Records Interview

As an apology for getting too smashed to remember his last gig that I was supposed to be reviewing (and possibly drunkenly hitting on his girlfriend), asks Dan some intimate questions about Orange Slice Records, running an events promotion company, and the music scene.

Myke Hall

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Blackbody Vol II - The Lava Experiments

Blackbody Vol II is a collection of lackadaisical trip-hop for 5 am on a Sunday morning. As the titles implies, it is the second installment of a triptych of EPs by Glasgow three-piece The Lava Experiments. Indistinct, distant vocals can sometimes seem like the ballads of an exhausted world-weary traveler by a campfire, and other times the chanting of monks echoing from the dark ages. Indeed the music seems to inspire metaphor contrivation. The songs are usually formed with programmed drumbeats, Moog or Moog-like synthesizers, rich bass and sometimes gentle guitar.

The opening track, Piecing Memories Together, falls flat compared to its successors, over-repeating a guitar riff and a three note synth line that is so simple it’s almost childish. Unusual, then, that the band have chosen to follow up the release of Blackbody Vol II with an EP of remixes of this track. Perhaps the band saw that the song had the most potential to be improved upon.

Luckily, the following tracks, Sun Flies, River Shape and Ring to the Dark Place are a dramatic improvement with the hypnotic quality of well-crafted progressive trance. The drum beats are active but not obnoxious, and produced to sound unimposing. Album closer The Release even brings an element of rock and roll to the mix, with a distorted guitar riff and a muscley electric bassline.

Overall, Blackbody Vol II is good music to have in your collection to have for when the right mood strikes (even if it is at 5 am). Although you might have to skip to the second track.
Myke Hall

Thursday, 11 February 2010

News: Music Blogocide 2010

The past few days have seen the deletion of several well known music blogs from the Internet, including Pop Tarts, Masala, I Rock Cleveland, To Die By Your Side, It's a Rap and Living Ears. All were hosted on Google's Blogger service, as is

Blogger have been enforcing violations of the USA's Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a law set up to implement regulations on digital media file sharing set down by the World Intellectual Property Organisation, and chose to delete the blogs entirely.

However, many of these blogs were working with record label or artist approval for all the songs they published, and were not given proper explanations of which songs were in violation of this act, or how to prove their innocence. Google simply told them they were in violation of Blogger's Terms of Service and left it at that.

It should be noted at this point, that no matter where the blog claims to be based, if it is hosted on Blogger it is subject to US law, as Google is a US company and the Blogger servers are in the USA. Its not totally clear whether Blogger is enforcing this law themselves, or if they are receiving complaints from an unnamed regulatory authority.

Google/Blogger, or whoever has been making DMCA complaints to them, seems to be operating separately to the wishes of record labels. Indeed, many bloggers are encouraged to share tracks by record labels and promotions companies, especially for lesser known, up and coming or independent label artists, music blogs are a cost-free way to share new tracks with music lovers who may never have heard the band otherwise.

I Rock Cleveland had received four previous DMCA complaints for songs that they had received record label permission to publish. For at least the last two years every song they published came from the record label, the artist, or a promotions company acting on their behalf.

Masala focused on obscure genres like kuduro, Japanese dancehall and funk carioca, music that wouldn't have had any affiliation with major record labels and artists that were usually glad of the publicity. Now they have no idea which of hundreds of songs posted got them in trouble, and claim to have received only one warning from Blogger before their four years of archives were erased. They questioned which tracks were in violation of the law and never got any response.

South African psychedelic rockers BLK JKS even received a DMCA complaint for posting their own song on their own blog.

Having received complaints about the way they were handling DMCA complaints last year, Blogger announced on their own blog that their policy was to warn bloggers by email and in their dashboard, and move the offending posts to 'Draft' status, so that they could be fixed, and copy the complaint to for archiving. But if the bloggers are to be believed, they have not kept their promise.

Pop Tarts and Living Ears have already bounced back, able to recover most of their articles from archives, and have moved to Blogger's rival blogging service, Wordpress.

The two biggest music blogs on Blogger, Gorilla vs Bear and My Old Kentucky Home, remain online for now.

Yesterday, Blogger have restated their policy, and given instructions of how to make a DMCA counter-complaint, but is this too late, as several blogs are already gone?

Update 19 May 2010: Music Blogocide strikes closer to home with Scottish music blog The Pop Cop.

Myke Hall