Later with Jools Holland – 20th September 2011

Oh hello Bland City, it’s the Beige Train pulling through. What’s that? Enough dull culture already? You won’t mind some more then.

This week’s edition of Jools was pretty flat, it has to be said. Which is a great shame as I was anticipating the return of the series for a while.

To be fair, we started off with Snow Patrol. Does it get any more mundane than this? Maybe I just don’t “get” them or something, but why are they so successful? Is it because they represent, so very well, bland indie rock? I suppose they had reasonably catchy tunes, but it was nothing interesting. This must be music for people who just have it on in the background.  It’s hard to work out if they’re actually enjoying themselves. It is, I think, the most inoffensive, banal crap I’ve heard on this for a while (like the Michael McIntyre of the music world), but at least the middle-aged mums will love it. Sad days.

The Duke Spirit. I’ve been told to like this band for quite a while by my brother, but somehow it’s never really quite caught on. On the plus side, they had an awful lot more life than Snow Patrol. Not that I mean to compare (haha). They came across as a little arrogant I think, only seeming to care about their performance with little appreciation of the audience or their surroundings. As soon as their music started, they burst into life and their songs did have a reasonable amount of vivacity, but the lyrics were pretty dreadful and as a band they seemed pretty trite. They are neither Nirvana nor Hole, but seemed to very much want to be. The lead singer annoyed me way to much to focus on much else.

Little Dragon. This was my favourite thing so far, non-pretentious and pretty genuine. They looked like they actually wanted to play too, which is always nice. In any other context, you probably would hear it on the radio and think “oh, that’s a nice song”, but on Jools, it was a relief to have something that was both good and enjoyable. That said, their songs did sound pretty similar I think, but I would not object to hearing them again, unlike Snow Patrol.

Trombone Shorty – this was an awful lot of fun. Much more inspiring and far less bland than anything previous, and I’m a huge believer that brass ensemble (WHEN IT’S NOT FREE JAZZ, I SAID ENSEMBLE) is one of the best sounds in the world. It says, most of the time, “hello, dance to me”, which automatically makes the music more enjoyable. I wager Mr Shorty himself would be a little irksome to work with, and it probably only seemed really good as it was thrown into the mix of this beige episode, but I did actually enjoy this. Genuinely. *shock*

Emeli Sande – Erm.. Ok? I did not like her voice one bit. Reminded me far too much of all the singers that made music in the 90s. The sort that would be deemed “RNB” I think. The second song was better than the first, but I’m still very dubious about this bird. Technically speaking, she probably did have a good voice, but nothing about this was to my taste I don’t think. A shame.

Roy Harper – The “legend” for this week came in the form of a (very old) man and guitar, and it was better than anything in the episode so far. He was rather captivating for just having a guitar. He played the mildly controversially named ‘I Hate the White Man’, but then it could have been worse. The lyrics were much better than anything else, and I found his voice sounded like David Bowie’s, but in this case he could actually sing very well. Bowie can just about sing, and only because he has a very characteristic style. This was easily the best thing this week.

So a pretty low episode to start the series off, but I wait in hope of next week. Mostly hope that I’ll be pleasantly surprised as I already know the line-up. Get it together Jools.


Later With Jools Holland.. Friday 15th April.

This wasn’t the best edition of Jools I’ve ever seen, but there was still some merit to it. It was quite diverse, that is certainly true. Let us get down to business. I’d like to go with the extremity sandwich from last week but nothing really pissed me off (an improvement, surely), and nothing jumped out at me. So I’ll just run through them.

Cee-Lo Green– I’m very aware that this man looks like a bouncer and a pimp at the same time. He can sing though, so that’s a bonus. I was slightly confused by his all-female band, especially considering they seemed to be half-commited to playing their instruments. But I guess.. He’s a good song writer, I guess. I think he is? He features way to much on Jools, but he seems like a nice enough fellow, and good at entertaining. And he’s invaded all the radio channels that matter, so I’m going with the idea that he’s good. It was a good performance too. I wouldn’t go out of my way to listen to him though.

Gregory Porter – This guy was wearing the most bizarre headdress, which somehow seemed to work with the rest of his very formal and respectable attire, and although he only did one song, I thought it was rather good. Very good voice and performance. That said, there isn’t much else to talk about here. It was a positive of the show though.

Robbie Robertson – Who is this man? Is this a case of “old rockers don’t die, they just turn to country music”? It was bland, I’m not going to lie – I was pretty unimpressed and uninspired with this. Background music. And I really couldn’t tell the difference between each song. Apparently it was a good performance though? Oh well, it passed me by completely. And his band looked so bored too..

Josh T Pearson – Oh I’ve heard so much about this man.. He’s definitely a grower, he doesn’t jump out at you right away. Well not at me anyway. I find this man is all about the lyrics. And although his accent drive me up the wall, it does suit the style very well. I would like to state that he’s better at guitar than Jimi Hendrix. I’ve been exposed/told to listen to this man a little too much, so it’s kind of put me off of him, but give it time methinks. I think I’m seeing him later in the year anyway, so I should probably get going on it. A melancholy person, but this seems to be a heartbroken person anyway. It’s not going to be too cheerful is it. Epic beard though.

Seun Kuti with Egypt 80 – Enjoyable stuff, but not exactly too different from his Afrobeat counterparts ie. the rest of his family. Mr Fela (Daddy Afrobeat) Kuti makes his songs good but too long, and Femi (brother) makes his songs good and the right length. Seun is not that good but a goof length. So really I’m saying that Femi is the best one here, and Seun just didn’t quite cut it this time. But I do like the sound of the Afrobeat so it was better than most.

Bootsy Collins – ONLY PLAYED ONE TINY BIT OF BASS WITH JOOLS ON PIANO?! What the hell man?! But he did have the most awesome sunglasses on. They were stars. AND aviators. Coolest dude ever. A little eccentric though.

Glasvegas – Erm.. Second song was better than the first, but it was all a bit showy and attitudey – which really hacks me off. The second song sounded pretty good though, but again it didn’t inspire me fantastically and I wouldn’t go out of my way to listen much again. They should probably focus more on creative innovative music instead of sitting out when all the bands play together at the start of the show.

Next week – Fleet Foxes, k.d. lang (who?) and Hugh Laurie will (hopefully) be entertaining us.. Could be an interesting one.

Song Of The Day #31.

Elbow – Open Arms

Still can’t decide whether I actually like this band or whether I just really like a few songs, and I’ve never really listened to them much before this album. However, this song is fantastic, in an epic, emotional sort of way, and so far I haven’t found a limit of how many times to listen to it in a day. Have a play and then maybe try the rest of the album ‘Build A Rocket Boys!’, which I think is what I should be doing too..

A Study Of A Pilton Field.

In a dilemma about what to see at Glasto? Clashfinder confused you even further? There’s plenty you WANT to see, but it’s physically impossible to see EVERYTHING? (A great shame).

Well worry no further, for here are my recommendations for Glastonbury 2010, including the big and the small, what to avoid, the unmissable, and the “go and see if you have bugger all else to do”. The latter being a dismal prospect as there should always be something to do on Worthy Farm.

(Dear lord, I am so excited)

Since the music starts (sort of) on Thursday, let us, too, start there. Having said that, there are minimal acts, therefore a very small proportion are actually good, so I give you Beardyman.

A beatboxer with a wicked sense of humour, how could you not want to see him? Hopefully he’ll come in full kitchen regalia, including wig. He’s performing on the WOW! stage at around the 8 o’clock. Miss him and you’ll have to watch Boy George afterwards. Unlucky. Also on Thursday, Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs are starting things off, at 1pm on the Pyramid Stage. Yes really. Not hugely known for their variance from song to song, they categorise themselves as “skunk” – a fusion of punk and skiffle. They are, however, a lot of fun, and a good way to start your Thursday at Glastonbury off. Try after an incredible breakfast from Veggie Heaven, just next to the Other Stage.

Friday – This is where it starts to get really interesting. And messy. We are all, of course, ecstatic that U2 are no longer performing – I thought they pulled out because they suck (therefore no one would go to see them), but apparently it’s to do with Bono’s health or something else that no one cares about. As a replacement, we have the wonderful Gorillaz, who I thought were just a small side project. But no, they are EPIC. This will be an epic performance, including many guests and potentially Damon Albarn crying again, although the latter is probably unlikely. Have a peek at their performance on Jools Holland, and if you’re poor, their latest album (+backcatalogue) resides on Spotify.

Also on Friday, may I recommend Hot Chip (their new album is WINNING), Seth Lakeman (I LOVE HIM, on at Croissant Neuf), Simian Mobile Disco and Boys Noize. This last chap is a German electro DJ, and awesome. He’s on last thing on Dance West, just after Simian, and definitely worth exploring.

Saturday – Muse suck so no one’s going to see them. It seems it’ll all be happening on what they are this year calling “West Holts”, which is in fact the Jazz World stage. Let’s just call it Jazz World. Everyone KNOWS it as Jazz World. It might not all be jazz, but at least it says “stuff here may be controversial”. Anyway, George Clinton is bringing his two bands, Parliament and Funkadelic, to it that evening, and although they seem to get a groove on and stick to the same melody/rhythm/tune for the next five minutes, it will still be much more fun than “I have to be so bloody epic all the time” Muse.

Also for Saturday… Seasick Steve is on the Pyramid, though I’d rather see him in some ranch in the middle of America I think (should be good though!). Devendra Banhart could be an option if there’s nothing else to see, along with Jerry Dammers Spatial AKA Orchestra – both on West Holts. Which means pint of strawberry cider at the same time. The Unthanks turn up on the Avalon Stage (very folky, very good), and and and – the band I am most excited about for Saturday – The National! On for a mere hour on t’Other Stage, they should suitably sap all the happiness from you, and leave you with a mellow, realistic look on the world for a few moments after. And then The Cribs take over (I AM NOT RECOMMENDING THESE WAKEFIELD WEIRDOS) and you shall be shaken back to reality, and will run far, far away from the Other Stage.

Sunday – As has previously been said, you can see Stevie, but he will not be seeing you. There’s even been a somewhat impractical suggestion of braille flags so there’s a chance he can get on-board with the waving flag vibe. Though it may be impractical, the suggestion did tickle me somewhat. Anyway, Stevie Wonder is to be the highlight of Sunday (he’s just too cool to miss, surely?), along with Faithless just before him. A few hours in front of the Pyramid Stage means time for wedges and pint, and you can get your groove on some electronica before singing along with everyone else to ‘Isn’t She Lovely?’ with Mr Wonder.

Sunday also includes LCD Soundsystem, Rodrigo Y Gabriela and Grizzly Bear for your enjoyment, although most of them clash (told you it got messy), and you DO have to weigh up which is better to see based on value for money, how regularly they perform, if you will ever see them again, and if it’s worth missing one of the other bands.  A great shame.

Generally speaking, the idea seems to be to avoid the main stages unless there’s something AWESOME on (as they get hideously busy and don’t seem to offer good quality music), look for the smaller things, have a handful of Definites, some Maybes, and use the rest of the time to experience something you’ve never done before.

You Need To Watch This.

Hello, this is good musical education. Watch the second song ‘Burning Hell’, from just after 4 minutes in, as the first song is just average really.

I know it’s Tom Jones and he’s usually only good for comic purposes but THIS IS AMAZING. The simpleness of the whole set up makes this number, along with the slide guitar and the 70-year old (therefore finely tuned) pipes of Mr Jones. This is good music.

Later With Jools Holland – 21st May.

This week’s Jools was something of a disappointment. Which is a shame as it’s usually awesome, but most, if not all, of the musicians were so dull it left me wanting to scream “SOMEONE do SOMETHING a LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT why don’t you?” at the television screen. The episode featured Alicia Keys (oh I remember her…), Yeasayer, White Rabbits (who?), Jeff Beck (ohh..), The Creole Choir Of Cuba and Macy Gray (I remember her too. Though don’t want to).

So, not exactly an inspiring line-up so much. Presumably I shouldn’t have expected so much…

So. Alicia Keys. I thought… she was ok. She had some ‘catchy’ songs (not a fan of that expression), but most seemed a little tacky – almost ranging into the Lionel Richie scale of things – especially in lyric content. ‘Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart’? *vomit* Can’t people sing about a different subject for once? She appears to have turned from a meek piano player into a soul queen of sorts, except it wasn’t soul and she isn’t a queen – just giving the impression of being one. A good performance though I suppose – she looked like she was enjoying it – but she was wearing what looked like a dustbin liner and neck-breaking heels. Odd combination. This seems like the sort of music that middle-aged housewives might listen to – like the female version of Jack Johnson/Michael Buble/Jamie Cullum/James Blunt (sorry Ed have I just named all your favourite artists?) – and I wasn’t very inspired. Try again Miss Keys.

Yeasayer – I am confused by this band. I can’t work out if they’re good or bad, or whether I like them or not. My brother would probably state that I’m being moronic and that they were the best band around at the moment, especially considering “they haven’t even reached the peak of their musical career”, but I’m still dubious. It is definitely odd. It sounds good to the ear – it doesn’t make them bleed – but is it too easy to listen to to have sticking power for the future? They played ‘Ambling Alp’ first – a good tune but the lyrics are so cliché and tacky – and god knows what they were wearing. Good performance – good live – though you got the impression that they had all come together because they answered an advert in the New York Times, not because they were childhood friends or something. It pains me to say so but I think they were the best thing on this week. And the lead singer needs his non-mic-holding hand cut off. Stop waving it around.

Macy Gray – WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOUR VOICE? Musically, quite boring and generic I suppose. Not that interesting at all really. Is a giant. Literally, not metaphorically. Looked so bored when being interviewed. Must have been hammered when being interviewed, but then I remind myself, so is Jools. Now that makes for a very boring interview, unless you’re one of the drunken parties.Ask her about MUSIC, Jools, not food.  Sounded like a pretentious idiot when she said “I wanted to make a commercial album, but I’m not good at conformity”. How ironic considering how commercial it was. I am not interested.

Jeff Beck – Possibly the least dynamic character ever on Jools Holland. And he didn’t even write the song he played – a cover of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’. That really aggrivated me – it’s not like it hasn’t been done before – and it wasn’t even a good cover (too slow, too slow). I wondered if he was playing it to coincide with the ending of the BBC’s talent search for the next Dorothy. At 65, Jeff Beck should be wearing something with sleeves. I would have prefered to see the 1960s black and white footage that was played of him over and over again instead of having to watch him now. I don’t even like the Yardbirds that much.

(You see my point about it being a disappointment?)

White Rabbits – OH COME ON SOMEONE BRANCH OUT A LITTLE BIT! Please?! I’d rather listen to experimental music more than this indie landfill rubbish that doesn’t ever vary the bloody programme. On the plus side, they had some good drum beats, can write a good melody and were enthusiastic in their performance, but I’m looking for something different! And they need better grammar – ‘They Done Wrong/We Done Wrong’, I am afraid, makes no sense. They HAVE done wrong, we HAVE done wrong. Yes? Yes. I am disappointed that their song titles make for more interesting writing than their music.

Creole Choir Of Cuba – Despite their excellent costumes, their energy and what seemed like genuine happiness, and their alliteration-based name, these people, too, were a disappointment. They sang well, but were just a choir. I thought they might be a bit weird, possibly eccentric, maybe even… quirky *shock*, but they were none of these and were another set of musicians to add to the “I’m Not Bothered By” pile. If you can sing that well, why not do something with it? Bring lions and adders on to the stage, make it an epic opera – anything – just branch out from the regular.

Jools, your show is usually a hive of diversity. This week was exceptionally dull. Get some better musicians. Better ones than the ones you have lined up for next week – MGMT, Corinne Bailey Rae, Crystal Castles, Tom Jones, Metric and Vampire Weekend. *sigh*.

Later With Jools Holland – 7th May.

This was much less of a painful episode than I thought it was going to be – on the surface, grunge ‘queen’ Courtney Love, cat-strangler Joanna Newsom, and should-have-retired-years-ago Iggy Pop and Ozzy Osbourne isn’t exactly an inspiring or appealing line up. However, I actually enjoyed this week’s Jools.

As well as Hole, Mumford and Sons and Miss Newsom, Jools also had Lissie (who? She was good though), Angelique Kidjo and Ian Hunter. It was a mixed bag, but one that lends itself extremely well to a good review. So!

Hole. Never got into these peoples really, mainly as I don’t like the sound, partly as Nirvana, and therefore Hole, appear to be something of a “year 9 default band”, and my suspicions were pretty much confirmed at this performance. The second song on the Friday night edition was much better, with good lyrics and it actually sounded a little different from the one before, but I didn’t find anything hugely appealing in their music. Courtney Love looks like someone’s mum – that confused me – I know she IS one, but you’d expect her more to be doing the school run and cooking supper for everyone instead of wearing shoes that could actually break your neck. The trouble with this band is that the controversy surrounding them (esp. since the reformation) (Courtney Love and Larkin boy? Really?!) seems to be more interesting than their music. Oh dear.

Mumford and Sons – Heard so much about these people, usually with the “you’ll really like them!” recommendation, and this is pretty much the first time I’d listened. It’s alright really. Not too bad – I’d probably go and see them live if it wasn’t too much effort (ie. when they play at Glasto, if there’s nothing else on, I’ll probably be there). Most of their songs seemed to start all the same – a bad point – but usually went off on its own tangent after the intro was over. I can see why they could be controversial and disliked – they do appeared modern pretentious folk (FOLK SHOULD NOT BE PRETENTIOUS! JESUS!), and all dress like they live in Hobbiton, but having said they, they have made some very listenable-to music. Possible summer music. Their sound does not offend my ears, and this is quite a rare thing really. They did have quite a gentle, ambling sound though, and this didn’t really match the intense enthusiasm thrown into the mix, especially by the keyboard player. Who would have been bleeding from the forehead had their set gone on any longer.

Interviews with Iggy and Ozzy – this needs a mention, as, aside from never really being interested in who Jools interviews, he should not be interviewing someone who can’t really string two sentences together (Mr Osbourne), as this leads to someone who can’t ask the right questions trying to get answers from someone who can’t really talk, and I am not in the least bit intrigued by someone who dances around on a purple-themed insurance advert with his top off when he should be at home smoking a pipe and wearing a dressing gown at his age. It’s a sad thing I know Iggy Pop for that more than anything else. Blasted modern culture.

Joanna Newsom – now this one was an interesting one indeed. I was expecting to be screaming at the television to drown out her voice, but it wasn’t so bad this time. I was made to do contemporary dance to her album ‘The Milk-Eyed Mender’, and surely just the idea of that is enough to put anyone off? Her main downfall is producing some lovely music, but ruining the whole thing by her infuriating voice. Her ‘untrainable’ (her words), child-like wail. However, it appears to have balanced itself out a little, and I could actually appreciate her music and her harp playing. I am an advocate of musicians who don’t play the guitar currently (it seems so cliché…), and the harp is something of a beautiful instrument. Good work Newsom, I was actually impressed. I still wouldn’t consider buying your triple album though.

Ian Hunter – Urgh. Give it a rest. Retire. I’m not bothered. I don’t even really like Mott The Hoople. I was bored by this man and this music, and found the most interesting about the whole performance was that his haircut hadn’t changed in 30 years. Big wow.

Angelique Kidjo – Now she was cool. Really! I was very impressed – the music here had some clear African roots going on (some traditional instruments flying around somewhere I think, drums and beats and so on), but had a Western contemporary layer to it as well, and they looked like they were having so much fun. Very pleasant to the ear, and with some awesome dancing, this was a very good performance. I would indeed consider going to see her and her band. Go Kidjo!

Lissie – She only had one song! This was disappointing as I would have liked to have seen/heard more of her, but what she did was quite incredible. The one song she sung, ‘Oh Mississippi’, was one of those heartfelt country numbers that would probably have you slitting your wrists by the end if you listened to the lyrics properly, but wow! Her voice! So powerful from such a small person. I kind of wanted her to play the piano too, but she and Jools made a good team. And either she’s special needs or was really, really drunk as she didn’t seem in control of her limbs during the song, but that didn’t seem to matter as it was one of those voices that as soon as it starts singing, everyone listens. Marvellous stuff 🙂

Next week looks awesome – LCD Soundsystem AND lovely lovelies THE NATIONAL. I am so excited.