Later With Jools Holland.. 20th May.

Now this was quite a varied episode. there were some outstanding points that made me smile and reassured me in the future of music, and some that bored me almost to tears. So let us start off with the latter as it’s easier to talk about things you dislike.

Obviously, The Strokes. Seriously. Why are people still liking this hideous sound that screams LANDFILL INDIE? The Strokes seem to fall into the same category of groups like Razorlight and Kings Of Leon, although I think I despise these two more than The Strokes. The lead singer needs to learn to enunciate – do his lyrics mean nothing to him? What’s the point in having words if you don’t let anyone hear them? Also, they all need haircuts and they dress like twats. Their music bores me, it sounds like background filler. The first song was kind of catchy but it didn’t inspire me to listen to anything else by them. 5/10 at best. Probably more 4.

Now. Someone a little more interesting maybe.. Staff Benda Bilili. These chaps were rather interesting. I believe they were all polio sufferers from the Congo (I’m resisting using the phrase “Congo cripples” – I’m assuming it’s fantastically un-PC but the alliteration was too good to waste), and they churned out some pretty groovy tunes. I would like to see it in its original context as I don’t know if it seemed quite right in a BBC studio, but I did enjoy it. Apparently they’re a “street group” who play primarily rumba but they also range into trad rhythm and blues and reggae. That might give you an idea of what they sounded like. They had some strange instruments that I didn’t recognise that made outstanding sounds. These guys were pretty good. 6/10?

Charlie Haden Quartet West – Oh dreary dreary couldn’t give a toss about this jazz. Even free jazz is more exciting than this. Although that is the worst form of jazz ever. This jazz was so laid back that it might fall asleep had it not been plugged in. If indeed it was that. It would not be out-of-place in an early Richard Curtis film.. The most nauseating part of this was the lyrics – they were so obvious I was able to guess the next line. Gershwin, big band or crooner jazz – that’s what jazz should be about.4/10, possibly 3.

Wild Beasts – These chaps were better than when I saw them at Glastonbury – I suspect the heat and the John Peel Stage were something to do with the enjoyment – but they still aren’t amazing as some people I know think they are. They are better than The Strokes, of that I am sure. I think their first song was best, it had that sort of odd dreamy distant quality that would be perfect for the penultimate scene of a film where the main protagonist is belting down the motorway in order to reclaim whatever he’s lost during the course of the film (usually a female). The second song was weaker – it should have crescendo-ed into something – and the third I already knew. 6/10 methinks. Yes there is a little more to it than the usual “indie”, but only a little.

Seasick Steve – Yes, definitely, end of. Everyone else loves him too. Probably because he’s something completely different but not terrible. Usually people try to be different but so different they go completely off the scale and look retarded. Like contemporary dancers. This chap has style and originality, and clearly doesn’t care that much about what he looks like (like The Strokes do). Steve seemed to be playing something that looked like a homemade banjo. And he was playing it slide.. This just improves in ten-fold. It appeared to be three oldish rockers having a jam and churning out better material than people who try to be amazing and new and, worst of all, cool. Seasick Steve is way cooler than.. (I don’t want to use The Strokes as an example again, but they are quite easy to stereotype etc). 8/10 I think.

The Burns Unit – This initially sounds like a horrible name, but it turns out that it’s Robert Burns, not the third-degree type. This ensemble met on a song-writing course called Burns Song I think, as a result there’s a lot of traditional in it. I think it’s classed as folk, although this is an exceptionally vague title. They came across, in music and appearance, as a slightly (only slightly) modernised version of the people dad used to see in folk clubs in the 70s in Chichester. I absolutely loved the first song, called ‘Send Them Kids To War’, and thought the second was slightly weaker but still pretty good. Am definitely going to listen to the album 9/10 I think, especially their first number.

Also, The Monkees (or what’s left of them) were featured, in interview and mini-jam form, and were outstanding. They were funny, still very good at performing, and completely insane. Easily the best and most entertaining oldies on the show so far. Next week, I believe Blondie have been mentioned, amongst others, so god knows what’s going to happen. It could be interesting.

Later With Jools Holland.. 13th May.

Back by (apparent!) popular demand, here is a Jools review from last Friday’s episode. I hadn’t actually watched it until today, as I have work hideous early on Saturdays and there was no BenchLad to watch it with. However, it was definitely worth it as it turned out to be quite an episode. Which is a bonus as it would seem I should be more positive/open minded when it comes to music..

So, let us get going. Gappy Ranks. Comedy name, although probably shouldn’t be judging if it is his actually name. It would seem he also produces under the name of Jacob Lee Williams. Could it be more different. Anyway, mr reggae man he was. Not sure if I actually like reggae.. I mean it’s good, and it sounds perfect for the summer (thus, apt timing), but this did sound like everything else I’d been exposed to of that genre before hand. And why must he preach?! Yes, Jools is great, yes life can be pretty good, but shut up! He also mentioned Bob Marley twice at least in one song, which I thought was a retarded thing to do as it just reminded the audience of how much better he was than you. I am not a fan of the “I love everything” based lyrics with reggae. Why must they do this so much? Is it the weed? Am I stereotyping? Should I be more open and think “you know what, it’s nice someone appreciates life”? Either way, this was not for me. I think if I knew him he’d get so annoying I’d disconnect his microphone. Ps. No dreads – what’s up with this?

Randy Newman – So as not to swing on with another negative note, let’s talk about someone awesome! I didn’t know much about this man, but turns out he’s written an awful lot of stuff for an awful lot of people and they should be pretty grateful. He was very funny in his interview (SLIGHTLY better interviews this week Jools, but keep working on it yes?), pointing out that he “couldn’t sing as well as Brian Wilson” *cough* amongst other blatant sarcasms. His two songs were also good, especially lyrics-wise, and I think I much prefer one man and his piano to one man and his guitar. This was a hit for me.

Brian Wilson – Most definitely a miss. This was possibly the most cringe-worthy thing I’ve seen on Jools. He did two Beach Boys songs, and one Gershwin number. Which was odd. There was no new material here! He wasn’t even using his legendary status to churn out mindless drivel, he was just recreating, badly, some stuff that was much better back then. He really can’t sing anymore (my first thoughts were “alcohol” or “stroke”, turns out it’s been this way for quite some years..), and needed his backing band to cover this up and achieve some harmonies. It was outstandingly painful. And could someone please tell him not to recreate the past? The Gershwin number was bizarre, not as good as the original, and sort of sounded either like a 1950s Four Lads version of it, or like Rent-A-Mob had just invaded the studio. Mr Wilson, your days are over.

Warpaint – First thoughts were – girl band? Really? I am extremely dubious.. But they turned out to be one of my favourite things on here. Wikipedia sites them as “experimental art rock” which makes them sound so much more pretentious than they actually are. This was really rather good, very enjoyable, and I might even listen to their entire album on Sunday (only day off..). I liked the slightly minimalist sound too it, though it wasn’t minimalist like that tosser James Blake, only from not creating too much of a blast of sound with their instruments. Shoegazey voices (well I thought so anyway), not very conventional and I actually enjoyed it. It must be good.

Alison Krauss and Union Station – When I first heard of this new album, I thought it was another collaboration, but apparently they’ve been doing stuff for years. I LOVE THIS BIRD. She is ubiquitous yet awesome – how has she managed that? The crowd seemed to love her too. The sound of the songs is also perfect for the summer (like mr reggae man), but so much better. More like what you’d want after a picnic or for a road trip, instead of a reggae party etc. The thing is, I thought it wasn’t cool to like country music? Not that I’ve actually ever abided by that, I will fully admit that I am rather a fan of what I’ve heard. This bird has the voice, the music and the looks – why is she not our favourite pop star? She even writes her own material and plays her own instruments for crying out loud!

Arctic Monkeys – First off, I despise the hype around this band. It’s kind of like the hype around Kings Of Leon, except more understandable because the Arctic Monkeys are actually good. However, scrap away the layers of hype and you’re left with what is now a very accomplished band. This wave of material I found was much improved from the first, although the initial stuff was still good. The songs on here seemed more aggressive and raw, and the song writing seemed to have developed more too. Which is definitely a good thing. SO much better this time around, I might actually take an interest in this band now.

So there you have it, two misses and four hits – far better than the usual – and next week (well in about five/six hours actually), we have The Strokes (oh. great), Seasick Steve (oh great!), The Monkees (what, really?!) and Wild Beasts (oh come on now..). It could be great or it could be dire. And I’ll review it sooner this time too. Promise.

Later With Jools Holland.. 6th May.

Ahh!  We are late! There’s already another episode out.. However, instead of ignoring it and skipping it, it was too good. There are too many things to say. MY GOD some of it was so bloody funny. But who to talk about first?!

Obviously, R Kelly. Sweet Jesus this was quite a performance. Remarkable, really. All I really know about this chap is that he did a sort of hilarious/dreadful song entitled ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ which turned up on one of the ‘Now’ CDs back in the 90s (I think). That, and the infamous HipHopera, featuring a midget. I mean come on. So what was one to expect this evening? Whatever it was, it was remarkable. He sort of came across as the male ‘soul’ version of Mariah Carey, voice-wise, and was about as believable as bloody Father Christmas. He was literally impossible to take seriously. “Either he has a tremendous sense of irony, or none at all. I fear it’s the latter,” commented BenchLad as we watched. His first number was so over the top it might as well have been the only thing he did, but the second song was much more toned down. Can’t remember the third. And everyone seemed to love it! He just kept going on and on. I don’t even know how to categorise his music. I don’t think there’s much point in saying anything except for “You’ll believe it when you see it, and maybe not even then.” R Kelly is one helluva strange man.

As a result, Adele was very much overshadowed because of him. Which is unusual as she usually has the loudest voice there. She was good – I think I might actually like this pop star? I mean I wouldn’t go out of my way to listen to her (or buy her music), but if she turns up on the radio, she doesn’t offend me. I think I may have some small quantities of respect for her? More so than the other flashes of female pop stars we see nowadays anyway. Easily the best thing about this bird is her voice. Again, not sure how to categorise (I guess R Kelly is R and B? I just don’t know), but she’s not as nauseating as, for example, Jessie J. Urgh.

Young The Giant. Erm..  “alternative rock”. Yeah, not bad. It sounded pretty good, but the main guy looked like he believed in what he was doing so much that if it had been any more, he would have drawn blood from whacking the tambourine against his chest. A gesture that as it happened, was completely pointless as I couldn’t even begin to distinguish it from all the other elements. Listenable to though, nothing too awful really. it seemed like only them and their mums cared enough to give them the motivation to “make it” though. Bless. Such enthusiasm for so little.

James Blake. Oh give it a rest you boring tosser. I mean why did you think this would be good live?! This was so dull! Apparently there were THREE ELEMENTS to this performance except I could barely hear the keys that James Blake was playing.. Minimalism is not my favourite thing, and I don’t think this benefitted from being live, but it’s unlikely I’ll be delving in any time soon. Except – isn’t everyone raving about him? Isn’t he everywhere? .. WHY?! Like most hyped up fad, I am not interested and it’ll pass pretty soon. I could do this.

Metronomy I felt a little sorry for, as they had to follow the first R Kelly song. After which it was a bit sort of “What? Did he really just do that..? Oh god lord he DID. And.. Oh.. Who the hell are these guys? Hmm..” It wasn’t too bad though, they clearly believed in their music and weren’t being idiots about it. Which is quite unusual in a modern band really. I did quite like it, although it didn’t really stand out (unlike Mr Kelly) This was most definitely electronic music, of which I’m usually a fan, so I didn’t find this too offensive. A good performance given how much they had to stand up to, but nothing fantastically special.

Mariza. Yes. Very much. The most diverse thing on this week, this Latin American version of Annie Lennox was very pleasing to me. Apparently she was born in Mozambique and her genre is “fado” (anyone heard of this?), and annoyingly, being the Token World Act this week, she only had one song. But it was traditional and not at all modern – but how different is it compared to all the other music from Portugal? (Apparently Fado is traditional Portuguese music) Not that I mind about that now as I’m not exactly up on this. So this was probably my favourite thing.. Odd how I like both electronic music and traditional.

And a matter of days before the next episode, upon which I believe there are a few decent-looking people. Alas there is to be no BenchLad to watch it with *cries*, but I shall review it nonetheless..

Later With Jools Holland.. Friday 29th April.

So, Royal Wedding aside, what else was happening on television? That said, I did very much enjoy the Wedding, both broadcast by the media and the celebrations thereafter, but I’m here to review the latest in music, both innovative and mainstream. I’m pretty sure you can’t be innovative AND mainstream, but I may be wrong.

Right. PJ Harvey. Or “Peej” as she’s also known. This is a hideous but amusing abbreviation. Her music was very good. This has been an artist I’ve avoided for sometime, mainly because of the slightly eccentric aura surrounding her and the fact she seems to scream “ALTERNATIVE!” at me at every turn. But this was very good, although I have no idea how to categorise it. “Alternative” seems a good fit. She had the most bizarre headdress on – it looked like she’d just killed a crow or something – but, despite the fact she would look totally at home with the hippies at Glastonbury, I enjoyed this performance. Further exploration will occur – apparently there’s a recent album which everyone’s raving about. Listening shall commence!

Lykke Li – The drums here were very good. It’s hard to tell whether this bird is “alternative” or “pop” or whether she bridges the gap in between. I’m also not sure whether I actually like her music, although I definitely preferred the first and last song – the middle one was a little weak compared to the others. Although that might just be because I know these songs. Whichever way, there’s an opportunity to go and see her at End of the Road, although I suspect there may be a better offer. I don’t think I’d go out of my way to see the performance but it was still perfectly listenable to here.

The Unthanks – Hello! These people have outstanding voices, and I actually knew that before I saw them on here. They’re all sort of sweet and gentle and you can imagine them running around in flowery dresses, picking apples and washing their hair in streams. They would be Bernard Black’s Autumn Girl, if such a thing were to ever exist. The music fits that description too by the by, unobtrusive and delicate, except now I can’t really remember any of it. Does this mean it’s a grower? Even though I liked it straight away anyway? That said, I feel the same about Seth Lakeman. His music does that too. Anyway, excellent performance. Would go and see indeed.

Ron Sexsmith – who? I believe this chap sand whilst Jools played, and then did a song solo a little while after. They left little to no impression on me, except that the amount of emotion in his voice was less than my interest in him. That said, he could still sing well. Ish. I am somewhat sick of the “man and his guitar” act. No one does anything with it anymore, mainly because it’s actually quite limited.. Unless you’re fantastically talented

Ed Sheeran – Oh look! Another man with his guitar! Less talented than Ron it would seem, so there was even less interest here. I’m not sure why it is that these people think they can do any better, or create any more interest, than the one before them. Would much rather watch Joanna Newsom than this. Yes really.

Avery Sunshine – This week’s “token World Music act” came in the form of this bird who played a soul-jazz-fuck thing, which was pretty good really. Nothing particularly fantastic, nothing that made me go “WOW!” but still reasonably enjoyable. At least it was different from the men with guitars.. I have seen better acts fill this weekly slot, however. It was nice to have such a female-fronted show though, increased by Ms Avery. If that is indeed her name.

Next week is looking exceedingly thin – Adele (that exceptionally popular song of hers, ‘Someone Like You’, although once excellent, is now driving me up the wall), R Kelly (back with another opera about midgets..?), with Metronomy, Young the Giant, James Blake and Mariza.. Who indeed. Someone surprise me please.