Grammys, Brits & the Best of 2015

Two main music awards ceremonies have taken place this month.  The Grammy Awards saw Lady Gaga courting controversy with a tribute to the late, great David Bowie, while Adele returned to sing to the masses, once again.

The Grammys is a very American awards ceremony – the ‘Oscars of the music world’.  “Record Of The Year” was Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars. While “Song Of The Year” went to Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran.  I’m not sure what the difference between “record” and “song” of the year is, and if I’m being honest, I’m not that bothered.

Skrillex was awarded with “Best Dance /Electronic Album” while it was good to see Our Love – Caribou, Born in the Echoes – Chemical Brothers, Caracal – Disclosure and In Colour by Jamie xx all nominated.

“Best Rock Album” went to the masters of over-the-top theatrics, Muse and the “Best Alternative Music Album” winner was Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes,with nominations for Bjork, My Morning Jacket, Wilco and Tame Impala.

Tame Impala was also victorious at this week’s BRIT Awards when they won best “International Group” beating off the ubiquitous nomination in this category for U2, among others.

Coldplay was awarded best ” British Group” for the umpteenth time; and for all the hard work over the past two years working with respectable producers and artists, the reinvention of Justin Bieber as a serious artist appears to be working.  He received the “International Male Solo Artist” while Icelandic pixie Bjork won “International Female Solo Artist” for the fourth time.

If Buzzin Music were to give out awards for “best albums” of 2015 it would include:

Jamie XX – In Colour

Fourtet –  Morning / Evening

Urvanovic -Amateurs

Lorna – London’s Leaving Me

The Membranes – Dark Matter / Dark Energy

Aaron Fyfe – 10 Songs

Girl Band – Holding Hands With Jamie

Rival Consoles – Howl

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nbOnUwl3V8

Chasing The Sun: Oasis 1993 – 1997

Chasing The Sun: Oasis 1993 - 1997
Chasing The Sun: Oasis 1993 - 1997

Chasing The Sun: Oasis 1993 – 1997
11- 22 April 2014
Londonewcastle Project Space, 28 Redchurch St, London E2 7DP

Chasing The Sun: Oasis 1993 – 1997 is an exhibition of rare and iconic photographs, artefacts and memorabilia from the early years of Oasis, the most significant band to emerge from the UK in the past two decades. Chasing The Sun takes us on the band’s supercharged journey from a Manchester rehearsal studio to international rock stardom, via three landmark albums – Definitely Maybe, (What’s The Story) Morning Glory, and Be Here Now – and many legendary gigs, from London’s 100 Club to Glastonbury Festival to their era-defining two night stand at Knebworth House.

Curated by renowned photographer Lawrence Watson, who has photographed Oasis several times and worked on Noel Gallagher‘s solo album, the exhibition includes previously unseen images from the photographers who had fly-on-the-wall access to the band, including Jill Furminovsky, Paul Slattery, Tom Sheehan, Kevin Cummins, and Jamie Fry. The exhibition will also display some of the iconic instruments played on the early albums (lent by the band members themselves), vintage merchandise, artefacts from the album sleeves, plus rarely seen early audio-visual content.

Opening 20 years to the day since the release of their debut single Supersonic (released 11th April 1994), Chasing The Sun: Oasis 1993 – 1997 is the first ever exhibition dedicated entirely to Oasis.  This is an insider’s view of the band’s meteoric rise as they made rock and roll history.

The exhibition is happening in conjunction with the new Chasing The Sun album reissues, which begin with the release of Definitely Maybe on May 19th on Big Brother Recordings. Available on standard CD & digital download, Special Edition 3 x CD & digital download, 12″ vinyl LP (with digital download bundle of all bonus CD content), & Deluxe Box Set (including LP, Deluxe CD, exclusive 7″ & merchandise).

Admission is Free.  Further details can be found on the official Oasis website.

Buzzcocks @ the ME1 – Music Event One Festival, Medway

According to the Gospel of Punk, first there was The Sex Pistols & The Clash and the rest followed. The first of those bands from outside London were Buzzcocks.  They even promoted the famous Free Trade Hall Sex Pistols gig in Manchester in 1976 which spawned a plethora of bands from the small gathering that attended. Thirty-seven years later and Buzzcocks are headlining this year’s ME1 – Music Event One festival in Medway, following once more in the footsteps of Johnny Rotten who led his merry men in an assault on Rochester Castle last year with his latest incarnation of Pil.

The concept behind Music Event One is simple – pay for one ticket to a day of music in several locations in and around the Rochester Medway ME1 postcode.  Throughout the day local bands played well known music venues the Eagle Tavern, Nags Head, Ye Arrow & Man Of Kent – before Buzzcocks headlined the main event at the Casino Rooms supported by Chris Pope’s The Chords, Dexters and local hero Prisoners-cum-Prime Movers-cum-Forefathers frontman Graham Day, with a new name for a familiar beat combo – Simon ‘Wolf’ Howard on drums, Alan Crockford on bass and Graham Day on guitar and vocals blasting out psychedelic-singed garage rock to an enthusiastic audience.

Graham Day & the Forefathers @ the ME1 – Music Event One Festival, Medway
Graham Day & the Forefathers @ the ME1 – Music Event One Festival

The Casino Rooms is best known as a club venue playing various strains of commercial dance music.  I don’t know of any other rock music gigs held there and was impressed with the size of the main room, thinking it would be a great place to have regular gig nights in the heart of the Medway Towns. But as soon as Graham Day & the Forefathers began their set it was apparent the sound was far from perfect. Everything seemed muffled, like a big ball of fluff was caught under the stylus of a long playing record of a gramophone-cum-sideboard. The band played on regardless to the applause of the crowd around the front of the stage who weren’t going to let it spoil their enjoyment.  Though my thoughts were shared by fans and members of the band alike, who told me the on-stage monitors were giving them a similar poor experience.

Buzzcocks @ the ME1 – Music Event One Festival, Medway
Buzzcocks @ the ME1 – Music Event One Festival, Medway

The crowd swelled slightly for the arrival of Buzzcocks but sadly the room looked less than half-full.  No pussyfooting around, they launched straight into Boredom. The crowd applauded and a small moshpit of forty-something’s began to relive their youth. Good spirits, great songs but sad to say, the sound remained appalling.  Several times the music, vocals or both dropped out.  But the band played on, lead by the enthusiastic, lively Steve Diggle and the somewhat more subdued but happy Pete Shelley. The two original members shared lead vocals and guitar duties along with smiles and interaction with their fans as they blasted through classic songs at breakneck Ramones speed.  Ever Fallen in Love, Harmony in my Head, Noise Annoys, Love You More… the set list seemed endless.

Steve Diggle has aged well with his hair dye and Pete Townsend windmills, he jumped around the stage while Pete Shelley with his grey hair and Cheshire cat smile kept rooted to the spot.  I couldn’t help thinking he needed a pint of whatever Diggle was drinking!

After the Buzzcocks, the Tap n Tin & Function Rooms offered more for those who wanted to dance the night away. Over 25 bands and DJs played in and around Rochester High Street – all for the price of £22.50.

Two years in and I really respect what the organisers of Music Event One are trying to achieve. The population of the Medway Towns, its musical heritage and the students at the local college and universities should make it a hot bed for bigger music gigs and events with top headliners.  But it appears they are still facing a certain level of apathy, which is nothing new. Last August the same promoters arranged The Cribs to play at the Function Rooms as a low-key warm-up to festival appearances.  It was a sell-out and a great success. The crowd was noticeably much younger and very enthusiastic. Maybe more bands like this and at a time which doesn’t clash with other music events is the only way that ME1 festival will survive and sell enough tickets in future.

It was great to see Buzzcocks.  Shame the sound let them and everyone who paid to see them, down.

American Express and Somerset House team up for Summer Series

As one of London’s principal cultural hubs, it is not unusual to see crowds flocking to Somerset House all year round. However, this year the neo classical, central London landmark will be boasting more than fountains and outdoor film screenings. Together with credit card provider American Express, Somerset House has put on a month of shows in their stunning courtyard that will culminate with a dance extravaganza from South London’s own Basement Jaxx.

The stunning architecture of Somerset House and the forgivingly warm July temperatures in the capital are enough on their own to provide a memorable summer evening, but when you couple this with performances from truly amazing musical artists, you have a genuinely unforgettable experience on your hands.

Richard Hawley graced the courtyard with his sultry love songs and baritone voice earlier in the month in front of a sold out crowd and to rave reviews, something that has become a regular occurrence at Summer Series. American rockers, Band of Horses also turned the courtyard into a chapel of stirring melodies with their epic brand of Carolina rock. Later in the month the young superstar on the rise, Tom Odell will be breaking hearts with his breath-taking song writing talent and performing ability, after this Goldfrapp will fill the courtyard out with their electronic melodies and the inimitable vocal style of Alison Goldfrapp.

To cap it all off, on Sunday 21st July, Basement Jaxx will be bringing their chart-topping dance music to Somerset House as well as the unmistakable party vibes of their fans, eager to hear classics such as ‘Romeo’ as well as the globally famous remixes and award winning singles from past albums. Fans can also look forward to new material from their forthcoming album, including ‘Return 2 the Wild‘, which is available for download and in stores now.

If you’re not one of the lucky few to have got their hands on a ticket for this sold out show, do not despair as the hosts of this hugely successful series of shows, American Express, will be offering a live stream of the entire show at their website. So don’t miss out!

Buzzcocks Headline ME1 – Music Event One 2013

Buzzcocks headline Music Event One
Buzzcocks headline Music Event One

Music Event One returns to Medway with pioneering punk band Buzzcocks.  Support comes from local garage pop hero and ex-The Prisoners front-man Graham Day (& The Forefathers), young contemporary upstarts Dexters, and one of the leading lights of the late 1970’s Mod revival, The Chords.

Buzzcocks – Harmony In My Head
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrafPlgQlME

Following performances last year from the likes of PiL, The Wedding Present & Subway Sect, the ME1 Music Festival  returns with its one ticket entry / multi-venue annual event.  This year the participating venues will include the Casino Rooms, The Royal Function Rooms & The Tap n Tin as well as a host of small venues in and around the ME1 postcode of Rochester, Medway in Kent.

ME One ticket gains entry to all venues priced £22.50.

Main stage: 4pm-10pm
Buzzcocks
Graham Day & The Forefathers
Dexters
Chris Pope’s Chords UK

Up The Junction Stage: 10pm-3am
The Get Up
Dean Rudland (DJ)
Andy Lewis (DJ)

The Tap n Tin stage: 10pm-3am
Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs
Black Market Karma
Richard Norris (DJ)

More acts are still to be announced.  For more information visit www.musiceventone.co.uk.

Buzzcocks – Everybody’s Happy Nowadays
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNCTD185opo

There are hardly any bands performing today that genuinely deserve the adjective ‘legendary’.   Buzzcocks are one of those very few.  Their achievements are staggering: one of the original holy trinity of British punk (with the Sex Pistols and the Clash), innovators of the independent record scene and genuine punk rock superstars who have been cited as inspirational by bands as diverse as REM, Nirvana and Green Day.

Eight studio albums, over twenty singles and EPs, a constellation of compilations, covers by other bands and songs on film soundtracks and advertisements have put Buzzcocks among the top echelons of British recording artists.

Cranking out choice live cuts from four Graham Day-fronted bands, Graham Day & The Forefathers distil 30-odd years of high quality song writing, low-fi production and high energy performance to their stripped down garage-rock essence. This is how it started – and maybe how it will finish.

Graham Day
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T92qUwDMSKQ

As a band, Dexters draw on a range of sounds and influences you wouldn’t necessarily associate with a young, blue collar band, formed in 2011. Captain Beefheart and Robert Johnson are name checked, while more contemporary influences can also be seen in songs like ‘Conscience Calls’ – which tips its hat to Jamie T – and their superb, flagship tune ‘Start To Run’, a song in homage to losing touch with an old friend, which has a pulsating, breakneck urgency in the style of a bastard child spawned from a threesome with the clash, Jamie T, and The Jam after a debauched night of cocktails and high octane fun.

Dexters – Recover
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMOgw7nSZRQ

Fronted by singer/songwriter Chris Pope, The Chords were a leading light in the post-punk Mod revival between 1979-81. Their biggest commercial hit, and still a live favourite is 1980’s Maybe Tomorrow.

The Chords – Maybe Tomorrow
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhkFdlmnhrk