Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Celtic Connections

January 22, 2008

I have been to Accordion Hell. It was marvellous.

So, I’m up in Glasgow for a couple of days, to see some gigs at Celtic Connections, what is possibly the biggest celebration of traditional music still going in the UK. It’s around 3 weeks long with hundreds of acts all over the city. Sadly, due to workload and things like inconveniently having to graduate, I’m going to miss seeing my favourite acts playing here (Shooglenifty, Peatbog Faeries, Colin McIntire (or Mull Historical Society to you) and the secret GOD of Scottish song writing Michael Mara) but next year I intend to remedy this. OH do I intend to remedy this.

Anyway, enough about me, back to what I was watching last night. Keeping with the sense of humour all the best trad musicians have about the scene, as an antidote to Sunday’s ‘Harp Heaven’, last night there was a show called ‘Accordion Hell’, celebrating… well, the infamous accordion. The musicians were full into the theme and were all bedecked with little devil horns and plenty of damnation jokes. We were treated to 8 mind-blowingly talented accordion players, accompanied by a rather good drummer and an excellent guitarist (who also was an honorary accordion demon for one tune that he had written.) The range of tunes spanned from the bright and high-energy to the beautiful, delicate and moody, to the downright funky. All of it played with style, humour and skill. I think one reason most people hate the instrument is they’ve never heard it in the hands of someone who really knows how to work it, and haven’t seen what an amazing, rich sound one person with a squeezebox can make happen. When the cords and complex melodies get layered up it’s hard to accept it’s just one instrument doing it, and some of the intricate and blisteringly fast finger work that was going on in the concert was just staggering. (Though that’s something else people who have never much been in the folk scene get to see. Sure, some of it can be lacklustre, but we’ve also got some of the most technically brilliant musicians playing in this scene and the level of skill it takes to pull off some of the things they can do is hugely under-estimated.)

So yes, Accordion Hell was fantastic and renewed my appreciation for those can take an instrument used for so much evil and mediocrity and use it for the forces and good and awesome. Brilliant.

Some quicky music reviews

January 6, 2008

I like music. I like it a lot. so here’s some short reviews of some of the things I’ve been listening to lately.

‘Hey Hey My My Yo Yo’ Junior Senior
Got on the recommendation of a friend and positive memories of that music video for Move Your Feet with all the pixel art. Anyway, the band is Danish the the album is full of pure hippyhoppy pop FLUFF that is far more infectious than it should be. Really, it’s silly and sugary and unashamedly cheesy and the result is a very fun record who’s opening track, ‘Hip Hop a Lula’ I can’t stop playing and I don’t know why. My version also came with the ep ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’ that is also pretty good with a standout opening tune. It’s all very happy and great stuff unless you want to take it too seriously.

‘In Rainbows’ Radiohead
At what should be at the other end of the spectrum, at bloody last the new Radiohead album is in the shops. Ignoring the very interesting hype from before with the pay-what-you-like download fun, I wanted a CD so I waited. Now, as one of those odd people who actually liked Kid A (but that’s because it was the last one I heard so I was ready for it) I don’t mind the weirder directions that Thom Yorke has been taking the band, but… I think In Rainbows has benefited hugely from Thom making his solo album before it. If Hail to the Theif was a little bit of a return to normal after the band had got Kid A/Amnesiac out of their system, In Rainbows is even more so. It’s a bit less tortured as well, but it’s not a complete step backwards either. The results of their experiments shine through all of it, but at the same time there are great tunes going on too. And guitars! Yay! Anyway, I like this one a lot, and absolutely adore the track ‘Jigsaw Falling Into Place.’ Good stuff. Now hopefully they won’t make us wait like 3 years for the next one.

‘Hey Venus!’ Super Furry Animals
I could be lazy here and go ‘It’s SFA, of course it’s good’. Because it is. It’s a little more normal guitar pop than Lovekraft but it still has the usual quirks and charm you’d expect from them. (Especially shown in the opening tracks, the first of which is about itself being a Gateway Song to the rest of the album, and the second opening with the spoken lines ‘This song is based on a true story. Which would be fine, if it wasn’t autobiographical’). I do have to admit that none of the songs have yet beaten my fave SFA tracks from other albums, but they are growing on me and some of them are catchy as hell. It doesn’t really push the envolope or anything but it doesn’t need to because it’s still good and gives you pretty much what you want in a Super Furry Animals album. Which would be slightly odd but catchy songs mixing pop and rock sounds and great harmonies with fun synthy twiddles and interesting production. Lovely.

Anyone else been listening to anything interesting?