High Five…

High Fidelity is one of my favourite films, and the book is pretty good too.  I remember the book being bought for me by a very good friend, who was amazed that I had not yet read it, what with me being a music fan and all that.  You will (and I highly recommend it), have to watch the film to get the main theme, however one of the sub-themes are lists, and in particular music lists. These include “Top five side one, track ones” or “Top five angry songs about women” etc.  Incidentally, Jack Black’s performance is brilliant to watch in the film. The main character is played by John Cusack, and he gives the rules when making a perfect Mixtape. Now depending on your age, you may not know what a Mixtape is?  Well the digital equivalent of a Mixtape is a playlist, curated for someone, or for an event such as a party.  A Mixtape is the cassette tape equivalent (remember those?), where each track has meaning to the author of the tape, and if skilfully done, it reveals and conveys its meaning, its code, to those that eventually get to listen to it. These are great, and I have made many in my time, both for parties and for the odd girlfriend (and I’ve had some odd girlfriends).  However, it is hard to be original, and a playlist is just that, a list of songs following some order.  It has a start, and an end, and one track naturally follows another.  Many of today’s music streaming services allow you to randomise your playlist, however, if you are following the rules when making a perfect mixtape, it will not have the same [...]

You’ve got to love music..

I'm told I'm old and definitely not ‘on-trend’, unlike my daughters and wife, who so clearly are! Why is it then, even though I have not bought and I’m never likely to buy from www.boohoo.com, that every time I hear Rae Morris, I'm reminded of them? Two reasons I think, firstly it's a great track and they play it on Radio 2. Secondly, I've seen the advertisement several times (for some reason), and the tune has stuck with me. Whilst I doubt that the ad has hit its target market with me, it so clearly connects. BooHoo are doing very well and as an Internet only company, this is no mean feat. The 'WeAreFree' ad and the video featuring Rae Morris is promoting the clothes and the style around summer music festivals, and is a superb example of music being both meaningful and authentically matching the brand story. If you watch the ad you will see that the tune fits, perfectly communicating a clear emotional story that helps people feel the brand and the story that Boohoo tell. You've got to love music and how it makes us feel... clever isn’t it!   Paul Stead Managing Director

Record Store Day 2015

I, like many other music fans will be standing outside an independent record store (in my case Rapture Records in Witney) this Saturday at 8am clutching a shopping list of "wants" and "needs" in my sweaty hands. Yes its that time of year again for Record Store Day UK - a fantastic day out for music fans and an opportunity to support the shops that have soldiered on through this century of downloads. The main event is the exclusive vinyl and CD releases that go on sale for that day only. Most shops worth their salt go the extra mile and lay on various promotional events throughout the day that include live performances, meet & greets with artists, DJs, in-store quizzes and much more. It really is a fantastic day out - only marred by the fact that the one record you desperately want is selling on ebay within minutes of release at three times the price. The organisers have tried to stop that happening as much as possible but realistically you're always going to get mercenary people sniffing out ways for an easy profit but let's just not let them spoil what is otherwise a superb event across the country. For the exclusive product list and stores participating go to http://recordstoreday.co.uk/ Personally I'll be going for the !!! 12", Amorphous Androgynous double LP (last year's release was immense!!), Roxy Music 10", Grace Jones/Larry Levan 12", ace new band Jagaara 7" and the Soul Jazz Records Presents Down Beat Special 7" box set. Check out Jagaara Record Store Day release "In the Dark" - they are set to be huge and will be playing numerous festivals over the Summer including The Great Escape, Bestival and [...]

Don’t Drenge and drive – unless you’re driving a tank

I was listening to 6 Music a few mornings ago (as I usually do when driving) when: "We Can Do What We Want" by Drenge came on and snapped me to attention. I'd heard the track several times before but this time it grabbed me by the lapels and screamed in my face and the message seemed to be: attack! The volume level went up and my foot went down and for the next four minutes or so, I drove too fast while dementedly banging my fist on the steering wheel. The music made me behave badly and feel good at the same time. In fact it made me feel that being bad was good. It may have been the combination of the snarly vocal, punchy lyrics and aggressive pace that had woken a dormant spirit of rebellion and brought out the old Punk in me. Whatever it was, it felt like a demand for action, a call to arms. This made me think that that the trigger for this response could be something that goes back further than my formative years and that perhaps something more primal was stirred. It's not by chance that soldiers and warriors have, throughout history, gone into battle accompanied by music. From ancient rhythmic chants through to modern day soldiers blasting out rock and rap: music has been used to raise spirits and levels of aggression. Fortunately I didn't attack the road or the steering wheel without some restraint but the feeling of raised aggression and energy (the buzz) stayed with me in a positive way, giving me a bit of extra drive for the whole day. We take it for granted that music can affect mood and behavior [...]

Our ‘Music Journey’!

While my reading list may not be everyone's cup of tea, one recent fascinating read was "The Sonic Boom : How Sound Transforms the We We Think, Feel, and Buy" (Joel Beckerman, Tyler Gray, Houghton Miffin £17.83). Obviously the use of music and sound is my business so this is of great interest and whilst I never know what I'm going to get out of this type of book until I've finished reading, this one lead me on a serendipitous route to the understanding of sound signatures and the use of sound. Music makes me happy, even happier on Tuesday when I have a 45 minute car journey with my 11 year old daughter Ruby (it's my job to pick her up from an activity). This, she has decided, is our 'Music Journey'. I pick the tracks to play her, these are always vintage and based on her previous "likes." They are eclectic to say the least as her taste is wide and varied, ranging from Billy Preston 'Billy's Bag' to Santana 'Soul Sacrifice' with the connection being the Hammond organ with the distinct sound of the Leslie speaker. As an 11 year old this music is new to her and I can tell by her reactions very quickly if I've hit the spot. These are described as a 'Sonic Boom' moment in the book, the music is so powerful for Ruby that what we play is the experience rather than the journey itself, an experience becoming a memory because of the music we listen to. This is one of the themes of the book - that in a retail environment using right music can help transform a business by communicating a clear emotional story [...]

Kanye West at Glastonbury. Yeezy Does It!

Seeing that the fuss earlier this week about whether or not Kanye West is "Worthy" to headline Glastonbury Festival this Summer has been blown out of all proportion with petitions being started to replace him with a "rock band", I feel as someone who's regularly been to the festival better placed to comment - more so than the guy who started the petition who's never actually been! The obvious course of action to people threatening to forego their tickets because of this choice is to "Go and see what's on at any of the other dozens of stages". One of the best Saturday night's I ever spent at Glastonbury was when Coldplay were gracing the main stage in 2002. Now I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than see them, so off we went to the Circus Field followed by the crazy world of Lost Vagueness and then dancing the night away in the Miniscule of Sound - the smallest club in the world (free tequila on entry!). What a night! Totally unexpected and totally unplanned. Surely one of the best things about any music festival is the fact that you get to see bands that you wouldn't normally buy a ticket for. I went to Wireless last year with Kanye West headlining. Now I'd never given much time to him or his music but can honestly say it was the best show i saw all year. Tough, uncompromising, hypnotic electronic music with Kanye totally on top of his game. Now, everybody that I say that to who wasn't there looks at me as if to say "yeeaaaah ok" but trust me - give him a go if you're lucky enough to have a ticket [...]