Author Archives: Nico

Christmas No.1: Cage Against the Machine?

John Cage was an avant-garde composer from the US who believed that every type of music, from classical to blues to pop, was of equal worth. In 1952 Cage wrote 4’33” and revelled in the controversy it created. His most famous orchestral piece, 4’33”, is a three-movement composition consisting of 273 seconds of silence.

John Cage

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Grinderman, Leeds University Refectory, 27th September 2010

The aural equivalent to being spat on, support act The Hunter Gracchus subject a bemused audience to 15 minutes of improvised white noise. This consists of electric guitar and violin feedback, a dying saxophone and the old cliché, a wailing woman; if you’re planning on butchering your family with a pick axe and want some appropriate music to do it to, this band is for you.

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Glastonbury 2010…..

tUnE-yArDs, the brainchild of the clearly unhinged but super-talented Merrill Garbus, opened my Glastonbury 2010 (Rolf Harris doing ‘Stairway To Heaven’ doesn’t count) on the West Holt Stage early on Friday afternoon, with a set of songs from debut album ‘Bird-Brains’. In contrast to the lo-fi sound of the album, recorded solely by Garbus using a sound recorder, a full band complete with 3 drummers, including Garbus herself, meant that the tribal energy of the songs broke through. Driven by a kind of afro-beat rhythm that builds and builds on top of Garbus’ distinctive chanting and yodelling, this all came together to form a sound that’s brilliantly smart and stupidly brilliant, exemplified in ‘Sunlight’.

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Spotify knows you still listen to Limp Bizkit and now so does everyone else.

Snooping on each other is common ground nowadays, blessed as we are with the ability to know what our friends/siblings/that weird guy from primary school are all doing every minute of everyday thanks to Facebook. Now Spotify has opened up the realm of snooping to epic and potentially humiliating proportions with its new ‘social’ feature, purpose built to let us pass judgement on our friend’s music tastes. Jonathan from Spotify optimistically tells us its designed to allow users to share music between each other. Pah. It’s much more about being able to discover that that friend you have, who purports to listen only to neurofunk, darkcore and nitzhonot (which for those of you that don’t know, is a crossover between Goa trance and uplifting trance that emerged during the mid-late 1990s in Israel*) quite clearly thinks the new album of Lady Gaga remixes is pretty great.


*I didn’t make this up, it has its own wikipedia page

The curse of the blogger

Hello, my name is Nico Franks, and, for fans of irony, this blog post, intended as a first-foray into music criticism, puts to you that the thousands of internet blogs devoted to finding new music (like this one) are killing music criticism. The days of paying the seasoned rock critic for their opinion are over, because all we need do now is enter the blogosphere to find out what anyone thinks about a new band, gig or album. Is this tidal wave of free-criticism shining a light on the cream of the crop, helping us choose only the best and most worthy bands to listen to, or is it creating a whirlwind of undeserved hype around new bands?

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