Updated: May 31, 2021
#BrokenRecord has caught my eye recently. Tim Gray from Gomez has been leading the charge against Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer by simply highlighting the utter absurdity of expecting artists to repay their advances on the pittance they earn from streaming sites. Part time Uber drivers seem rich in comparison.
Remember, the band only get 15-20% of the piss poor royalty, as the label gets the lion's share. Live gigs have dried up due to Covid and Brexit laws have screwed all the UK artists from touring in Europe. I think the term cluster fuck would aptly describe the situation.
Platforms are now adding tipping options, so fans can send artists money. How about a payment system that is fair? FFS
The CEO of Spotify is making a bid to buy Arsenal FC - ahem, who's getting paid too much?
So having planted that deeply depressing seed, I'd like to lead you once again down the merry garden path towards Bandcamp. A space where wonderful flowers bloom and you can buy direct from source.
The budget is €50, which is about the price of a cheap car tyre, a lady's haircut, 5 Ryanair flights to Belarus (they all end up there) or a bottle of 2010 Gros Noré (utterly recommended).
This blog is aimed at changing focus. Obviously streaming is easy and cheap, and most of these platforms herald themselves as the saviours that rescued music from the pirates. The skull & crossbones may have been lowered but it's still a band of cut-throats that are running the show. You've been pressed ganged and the musicians are being looted.
What a delightfully cheery way to start this post.
So, jump onboard the good ship Bandcamp and set sail on the high seas of great music.
The treasure is properly divided and everyone gets a gold coin or two.
If you buy an artist's album from Bandcamp, it's around the financial equivalent of you streaming their music every day for 3 years. (Just thought I'd throw that in to lighten the mood).
Without further digression I present my choices for June.
Couple of months ago I was convincing everyone that original albums are the way forward and compilations are just crappy Best Ofs. I'd like to say wholeheartedly that it was a bodysnatcher talking and they were simply trying to sway you towards the dark side. Honestly, what kind of crazy mofo would slate a decent compilation?
I have defeated the alien beast and the planet is back on its true axis.
Contradicting myself? Never.
Guts second Straight From The Decks is just as entertaining as the first and a fine addition to any music collection. Impress your friends with music from some very far flung corners of the Earth. Deeply gorgeous, tropical and wonderful.
Some of you may be familiar with Shuggy Otis and his Californian pysche rock from the 70s, so you'll be happy to know that a rather interesting cover version has popped up from the Night Owls.
The shipping cost from USA is a bit prohibitive for the vinyl version, but the digital is yours for a steal.
Let's face it. You can't find buried treasure with an algorithm map.
Staying Stateside, here's an album from Patrick Sullivan, aka P-Sol.
As the title suggests it's a laid back collection of beats & pieces from the New York DJ that has been around the block several times. Not his first rodeo.
It's sample based music that reflects this year perfectly. What I love are the short tracks that just slap you in the face. His experience as a DJ shines through and there are plenty of different flavours to taste. Beautifully layered and composed. There's a Sunshine Anderson edit included in the package. Bonus!
As my DJ sets are starting at 5pm these days (curfew in France), I've been listening to tons of chill out/ambient albums. It's not easy to make slow music - there's no room for mistakes or purple patches. Simon Mills from Bent has been churning out some real gems and I urge you to check out all his releases. The one I'm currently drawn to is Location 2.
It has a beautiful quirk and the production is masterful. It's dreamy, retrospective and modern all wrapped in a fluffy bundle of studio excellence. Getting good radio play, so you may hear this elsewhere. I'm obviously not the music guru I pretend to be.
Quick trip to the Pound Shop. Hard to resist a bargain.
Jazz rooted West African music performed by a band called Kokoroko - just rolls off the tongue.
Released last year on Brownswood - Giles Peterson's label.
Might not be brand new, but it's a worthy edition to a decent collection.
Eight piece band, led by brass melodies and some fine choral work. Might take a few listens to feel comfortable with this one. Worth being patient.
Sauco is a veteran DJ from the Canary Islands. I've been playing his edits in my disco sets for many years. Lovely to see him throw out a couple of original pieces on the superbly named Citizens of Vice label, run by a very nice chap called Warren Mann. Another Brit living in the cultural sanctuary of France.
This EP is yacht rock, slo grooves, Balearic, downtempo NuDisco - call it what you want; it's sumptuous and will bring sunshine to even the wettest of days.
The remixes on this EP are fabulous, as are the original tracks. No fillers, just killers.
NERD ALERT - Comes in 24bit for sound system clarity.
In 1973 The Mighty Tom Cats put out Cheeba Cheeba, which I often play in my Blaxploitation moments. It's a song about good weed, and never fails to make me smile. The original was written by Paul & Ann Winley and came out on their own little label. If you come across this rare nugget on 7" vinyl expect to pay about €100. Here's the good news - the very talented and non stop remix machine, Diego Lelli, aka Lego Edit, has done a modern reinterpretation of this funky biscuit. It's fatter, faster and there's a drop which makes you wonder if the song has finished - spoiler alert, it hasn't. Totally inspired and well produced. This will be in my box for years to come.
Bit of fun now. Two pairs of twins have formed a Japanese girl band. They've been churning out tracks for TV shows and animations with great success. Now, here comes their debut album. I love the fact it's also on cassette.
They sing in English, so it's accessible.
Great videos if you're not sold on a bit of disposable pop. Might change your mind.
The musicianship is very good; as a band they're super tight, and there's a naive sense of playfulness to this recording.
This is unadulterated pop. My twins have been playing their Dua Lipa album on heavy rotation on the living room turntable, so I'm fighting back with Japanese pulp culture.
I wish I'd called our girls Yana & Kana or Yuuki & Yuna.
Have a listen. I can hear the divorce lawyer knocking at the door.
Finally, I'm going to spend my last few coins on a field recording of rain in La Réunion. The French colony near Madagascar.
I've been interested, of late, in decent outdoor recordings and this one is better than most BBC Sound Effects etc...
Clean, traffic free, street recordings from stupid o'clock. Hats off for the pure diligence and sense of purpose. It takes a special kind of man to stand in a rain storm with a ridiculously expensive microphone, night after night, hoping that the night bus has broken down or the joy riders are elsewhere.
Eskimos have many different words for snow flakes. I expect this guy has a similar vocabulary range for rain drops.
Might help insomniacs or inspire me to watch the weather forecast more attentively.
My straight jacket feels a bit tight. Why is the door locked?
Next month sees guest author Tim Aldous - presenter of the Burnt Toast radio show (1BTN), take the reigns and drive this blog into the stratosphere.
Please share and support musicians and songwriters together.