metric-fantasiesMetric are a four-piece indie ro

ck band who hail from Canada. They’ve been together since 1998, and have enjoyed success with such previous hits as ‘Grow up and Blow Away’ and ‘Monster Hospital.’ Their highly anticipated fourth album ‘Fantasies’ was released in Canada and America on 7th April and came to the UK on 14th April.

Having heard the name ‘Metric’ before but never having heard any of their music, I was interested to hear what at the fuss was about and luckily I wasn’t disappointed. This first album track and debut single ‘Help I’m alive’ is great and really shows off the lead singer Emily Haines’ fantastic voice which is really smooth, deep yet melodic.

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radio1weekendBBC Radio 1 has announced that 16 unsigned bands from the South West of England are being given the opportunity to perform at Radio 1’s Big Weekend Fringe which runs in the week leading up to the main weekend event in Swindon.

From Monday 4 to Thursday 7 May the Fringe takes place at four live music venues across Swindon town centre. Each venue hosts the festival for one night and four bands will play at each.

Radio 1’s Big Weekend Fringe delivers a specific focus to supporting live music in the Swindon and surrounding area.

And the best thing is – All the gigs will be free of charge. Further details can be found at

jackson-browneAt a gig like this it’s easy to be sidetracked into watching the audience rather than the band. Firstly because you want to know what the audience is for a singer-songwriter whose first hit (“Doctor My Eyes” in America) was in 1972. Secondly, you want to know if any celebrities have turned up (I saw one of the cast of “The Green Wing”). The bulk of the audience was made up of the expected forty to fifty-five age group but with a surprisingly high proportion of teens and twenties who weren’t with their parents (I even saw some on the Central Line after the gig).

Jackson Browne’s latest tour, the first in the UK for many years with a band, is in support of his latest album “Time the Conqueror” which was released last year. It’s always a difficult proposition for an artist with nearly forty years of back catalogue to introduce new material in their live set, but the obvious way of doing this is to play for two and a half hours without a support act. The mid-set interval is almost a necessity for the majority of the audience (when the Eagles played Twickenham, the queue for the toilets was longer than the queue for the bar) but I’d love to know what the musicians do in those 20 minutes. Read more

detroitsocialclub-sunshinepeopleThis single “Sunshine People” sounds like it was recorded by applying the ultimate “wall of sound” philosophy;  turn everything up to 11 and hit it as hard as you can, even the vocals.  This is great if your name’s  Phil Spector (although 4 bass players is probably at least 3 too many), but here the result is just  messy.

Inside this lumbering heavyweight is a pretty good song struggling to be let out, and a bit more subtlety and space in the mix would allow all of the good elements in the song to shine through instead of fighting with the tribal chants and drums for a fair hearing. 

The distorted guitar and thunderous bass which start the song along with the chanted “na na na” refrain dominate the song almost to the exclusion of everything else until the brief breakdown to acoustic guitar and keyboard at about the halfway point,  which adds some contrast before building back up again to the sledgehammer drums and bass driving it on to the end.

With a bit more subtlety and a bit more use of dynamics (turning down to 9 for 2 seconds doesn’t count), this song could be a mainstream contender because the hooks and the melody are there if you make the effort to dig them out. A remix by someone with an ear for radio play would do this no harm at all.

drivingbynightIt would be easy to listen to the influences on display here  (and there are many, from  early U2 to current Snow Patrol and American blue-collar rock such as Springsteen and The Hold Steady) and dismiss Driving By Night as the sum of these influences but it’s not that easy.  The band’s recorded sound has a cinematic, wide-screen feel that you would expect from a band that have been around a lot longer than these guys and ticks all the right boxes for emotive, angsty indie music.

“Promise In Youth” opens with a slow keyboard fade-in which is just beginning to sound over-long when the laser-bright, razor-sharp guitar motif cuts in creating the framework the song is built on.  The structure of the song (a gradual build-up to a breakdown about two thirds in then a build-up again to the climax of the song)  is very radio-friendly but also marks it out as a live anthem for the future.

This is only Driving By Night’s  third single but they have the assurance of a band that have been around forever.  Towards the end of the song, there’s an awful lot going on but the production is so clean that it every addition increases the power rather than adding clutter to the song. 

Definitely one to hear live and I’m really interested in hearing the album now. Check out their MySpace.

Ian Black’s single ‘Alone’ is probably best described as ‘light pop’. The lyrics, however provide an edge to the music which means that I wouldn’t be surprised to hear such a track on the soundtrack to an episode of ‘Skins’ or any such television drama. 

Considering the track is based on the issue of being ‘alone’, it is still very upbeat and positive. This is immediately heard from the opening where the track starts in a style similar to that of McFly or Busted with a very bouncy with an engaging beat. 

The lyrics really complement the music and neither would be as effective without the other, nor would it be as pleasing on the ears themselves. 

The lyrics talk about relationships and dreams as well as being alone and also being left alone. They hint towards a traumatic type of experience, surrounding the issue of being alone which eventually draws the track to the solo voice that gradually and steadily draws back to the original template and tempo of the song. 

It could be that Ian Black is attempting to replicate aspects of life itself, that there are ups and downs but the main thing is just to get on and live through it. Whatever his message, this is a highly addictive song, which deserves to be listened to, at least once.

WARNING: Audioslave and Soundgarden fans should head for the door as soon as possible, because this is not going to be what you’re expecting. ‘Part Of Me’ is a dream pop/R&B single off Chris Cornell’s new album ‘SCREAM’’, co-recorded with record producer turned clothing designer Timothy ‘Timbaland’ Mosley. I’ll just wait a moment for the aforementioned fans to leave…

What I am not so subtly saying here is that Chris has taken a huge leap of faith on this single, and indeed the album as a whole. Let’s get one thing straight though, first of all the vocals in this single are absolutely terrific, harmonic yet powerful – true Chris calibre stuff. The lyrics however… not so much, in fact make that everything else, not so much. Some of the world’s greatest artists have jumped ship from one genre to another and been welcomed with open arms, but few have ever had the fan base and respect that Chris Cornell had prior to this single. Read more

I think it’s time for Lady Gaga to swagger off the dance floor and make way for the next big thing. La Roux, is tipped to be one of the artists to watch on the music scene throughout 2009.

Her single ‘In for the Kill’ may read as a suitable James Bond theme tune, but is in fact a great new dance floor hit that is sure to get clubbers moving across the country.

Having listened to the single, it’s easy to see what the hype is all about. ‘In for the Kill’ has a strong pulsating, electronic beat that firstly pulls the listener in and then drags them (seductively) along at a fast pace. It encourages you to get up and dance.

The lyrics are sexy and the song bounces along at a nice steady tempo. The subtle use of rhymes and the melody make it easy to hum along to.

Despite the regular beat, the track does manage to throw a surprise; just when it appears to be coming to an end, the song switches to a slower, anthem-like style, before returning to the beat from the opening. The instrumental version is even better if you just feel like dancing till you drop!

The hit machine of the 1980’s (and a bit beyond) meets the hit machine of the Noughties (the Xenomania production team who work with Girls Aloud and Sugababes) and what’s the result?  No surprises – it’s a hit.  The main lyrical theme of the song is an update of The Beatles “Can’t Buy Me Love” 45 years down the line; it doesn’t matter how many possessions you have, they’re worth nothing if you don’t have  love.  It’s a long way from: “I’ve got the brains, you’ve got the looks, let’s make lots of money.”

The first obvious Xenomania influence is in the opening verse, underpinned by a signature shuffle tempo which is displaced in the chorus by a four to the floor bassline taking the song back to more familiar Pet Shop Boys territory.  The second major influence is the use of the call and response chorus which is a regular Xenomania device rarely used by the Pet Shop Boys (“Left To My Own Devices” is a possible exception).  These techniques update the Pet Shop Boys undoubted songwriting talents to appeal to a 2009 audience while retaining the laconic lyrical style which has always been their trademark. Read more