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.