Friday, 19 April 2019

NEW MUSIC EAR'S PERSONAL PLAYLISTS - "PRINCE" PART 1

A NEW FEATURE ON NEW MUSIC EAR.  THE PLAYLISTS ON MY IPOD FEATURE LOTS OF VARIOUS ARTISTS SO I THOUGHT I WOULD SHARE MY PLAYLISTS WITH YOU.  HOPE YOU SEE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITES!

PRINCE



PLAYLIST PART 1


We start the playlist off from the debut album, released in 1978, "For You".  The first album to have the words that all songs were "produced, arranged, composed, and performed by Prince".  The man played all the insruments and sung all the vocals.  Amazing for someone so young.  I chose 3 tracks from this album for my playlist, the R n' B/Soul naughtiness of "Soft And Wet", the intense searing guitar driven rocker "I'm Yours" and the epic disco funk of "Just As Long As We're Together".  "I'm Yours" made me realise early that this man was a serious guitarist.




Hot on the heels of the debut came the second album in 1979, entitled simply "Prince".  Disappointed with "For You"'s lack of recognition he rushed out a follow up which was more diverse.  A much more polished album I chose 5 tracks from the 9 on the album.  The sublime big hit "I Wanna Be Your Lover" is here along with another single, "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?".  Such is the problem that Prince released lesser songs but still miles ahead of their time I had to choose very carefully.  I included the manic rocker "Bambi" and the lovely soft ballad "With You".  The final song is one everybody has heard, although by Chaka Khan, this is the original "I Feel For You".



For Prince's third album in 1980, the lyrics were more raunchy yet the abum was more critically acclaimed.  I chose four tracks from this set including the light Disco Funk title track and the song later given to Cyndi Lauper for her debut album, "When You Were Mine".   The 70s Disco inspired "Uptown" is also included as is the infamous "Head" which is all about seduction by oral sex.  Prince's sexual lyrics were later to become more noticed a couple of albums down the line!



1981 brought the next album, the 4th in four years, entitled "Controversy".  It was a much more socially aware album than the previous three.  Personally I don't like to hear music stars being political too much, as music is supposed to free us from that.  I chose 3 tracks from the album including the 7 minute epic electronic Disco Funk of the title track.  The other two tracks are the manic "Sexuality" and the fans' favourite dance track "Let's Work".



"1999" came in 1982 and was a tour de force in Prince's career, it got him noticed big time on MTV and in the U.S. although mega stardom would come two years later.  The album has 11 tracks and I chose 8 for the playlist, such is the brilliance of this album.  The fantastic title track, the pumping "Little Red Corvette" and quickstep dance number "Delirious" are all here.  The rather naughty and delicious "Lady Cab Driver" is included as well as the gorgeous ballad "Free".  The atmospheric, effects laden "Automatic" and the funky "Let's Pretend We're Married" are selected with another 8 minute epic, "D.M.S.R.", a sing along dance number.



The album made Prince a global icon, "Purple Rain" was released two years after "1999" and what an album it was! Every non-fan knows "Purple Rain", the guitar solos at the end always gave me a tear and even more so now the man is no more.  The most passionate and tear jerking "crying" guitar solo ever.  The other singles are obviously here, "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy".  The duet with Apollonia Kotero, "Take Me With U" is included as is the cutesy but dark "I Would Die 4 U".  The playful but true "Baby, I'm A Star" and the "bit of everything" style of "Computer Blue" completes the set.  A mega album, but I wish non-fans would actually note another song when they say "I'm a fan of Prince, I love "Purple Rain".  So annoying for us real fans, there's much more to the man!



When "Around The World In A Day" came in 1985, everybody expecting "Purple Rain 2" were going to be disappointed.  A bare bones album and a little psychedelic, it was far away from the mega selling predecessor.  This is what us fans loved about Prince, you had no idea what as coming next, to the public and critics this was a huge curve ball.  I loved all the singles, "Raspberry Beret", "Paisley Park" and "Pop Life", all very different in style but with that unusual Prince experimentation.  I added "America" with its pumping beat and the beautiful ballad "The Ladder".



I AM SURE MANY FANS WILL BE DEBATING THE INCLUSIONS AND THE TRACKS NOT INCLUDED, BUT I HOPE YOU FOUND THIS PLAYLIST INTERESTING, CHECK BACK FOR MORE ON NEW MUSIC EAR!

Saturday, 13 April 2019

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - INDIE ROCK BAND "CLEAN CUT KID"

Clean Cut Kid are a quartet from Liverpool, I've seen their music described as "soulful pop ballads washed in Mersey water".  I'm not sure if this was the band's own description but it is very apt.  The band first caught my ears as they were soon to release their debut album, "Felt".  I heard the single "Vitamin C", an atmospheric, raw track with elements of Electronic and Pop Punk with a catchy little chorus like an old 70s Folk hippie anthem.  I knew I wanted to hear more.


Other songs I liked from the first album include "Runaway", laden with harmonies and U2-like Rock guitars complete with chants and catchy lyrics and "Pick Me Up", a brilliant rip-roaring catchy foot tapper which gives a good feeling of what the band are all about.


The group seem a bit wacky on the whole, and the music is experimental and unusual.  There are catchy hooks and melodies within the songs that will reach inside your brain and hang a while.  There are many elements to their music including Indie, Rock, Electronica, Folk, Pop Punk and melodies akin to the likes of Fleetwood Mac on the light Rock side.


Their latest album is out now entitled "Painwave", and contains the brilliant songs "Emily" and "I Don't Like You But I Love You". Catch these guys live around the UK now, a refreshing brand of music that is much needed at the moment in these stale and boring chart music we are fed with.



Wednesday, 10 April 2019

THEME ARTICLE - "GAME OF THRONES' NOBLE HOUSES AND THEIR SOUNDTRACKS"

Game of Thrones has been captivating audiences around the globe.  At the time of writing this we await the final series.  I thought it woud be a nice idea to honour this awesome show with the brilliant soundtracks that accompany each house of Westeros. (Note:Apologies if any facts are wrong, I am just a normal fan of the show, if any die hard fans want to let me know of any errors please do so) :)

GAME OF THRONES


NOBLE HOUSES AND THEIR SOUNDTRACKS


HOUSE TARGARYEN

 
Originally from Valyria on the Essos continent, House Targaryen conquered the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.  They ruled for 300 years with the use of dragons. The coat of arms is a red three-headed dragon on black, and the motto is “Fire and Blood.” The rule of the Targaryens ended when Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark led a rebellion to depose King Aerys ("The Mad King"), during which the king was slain by the "Kingslayer" Jaime Lannister. Later, Robert took the Iron Throne, and Aerys’s surviving two children (Daenerys and Viserys) were exiled to Essos.





HOUSE STARK



Seated in Winterfell, House Stark is the lead house of the northern lands of Westeros. House Stark ruled as Kings of the North for thousands of years before the Targaryens came to power and conquered the Seven Kingdoms. The Starks were made Lords of Winterfell and Wardens of the North. The motto is “Winter Is Coming,” and the coat of arms is a gray direwolf on a white background. House Stark is known for its honorable devotion to duty.




HOUSE LANNISTER


House Lannister is seated at Casterly Rock in the Westerlands, where it ruled the West until the Targaryens invaded and conquered the Seven Kingdoms. The Lannisters were made Wardens of the West afterwards. The Lannisters are the richest family in Westeros because of the gold mines located on their lands. Tywin Lannister, head of the house, served as Hand of the King under King Aerys II Targaryen, until Robert Baratheon deposed the Targaryens. House Lannister’s coat of arms is a gold lion on a red background, and its motto is “Hear Me Roar!”




HOUSE BARATHEON


House Baratheon is the lead house of the Stormlands and the youngest of the noble houses. King Robert is head of the house, though he lives in King’s Landing. The official seat of the house is in Storm’s End, and the youngest Baratheon brother, Renly, is Lord of Storm’s End. The middle Baratheon brother, Stannis, is Lord of Dragonstone, which is a secondary seat for the house. House Baratheon’s coat of arms is a black stag on a bright yellow background, and its motto is “Ours Is the Fury.”





HOUSE GREYJOY


Seated in Pyke in the Iron Islands, House Greyjoy became Lords Paramount of the Iron Islands after the Targaryens conquered Westeros. Ten years before Game of Thrones begins, Lord Balon Greyjoy led a failed rebellion against King Robert, after which Lord Balon had to give his youngest son, Theon, to the Starks as a hostage to live in Winterfell in order to retain control of the Iron Islands. House Greyjoy’s coat of arms is a golden kraken on black, and its motto is “We Do Not Sow.”

 



HOUSE TYRELL


House Tyrell is the principle house in the Reach and is seated in Highgarden. The Targaryens made the Tyrells Lords of Highgarden after the king of the Reach was killed. The women of House Tyrell are known to be clever leaders, which is apparent in Margaery Tyrell’s rise to become Renly Baratheon’s wife, then betrothed to Joffrey after Renly’s death. House Tyrell’s coat of arms is a golden rose on a green background, and its motto is “Growing Strong.”

 



HOUSE TULLY


House Tully is seated at Riverrun in the Riverlands. Catelyn Stark and Lysa Arryn are the daughters of Hoster Tully, the Lord of Riverrun. House Tully’s coat of arms is a silver trout on blue and red stripes, and its motto is “Family, Duty, Honor.”

 



HOUSE OF ARRYN


House Arryn is the principle house in the Vale and is seated in a small castle called the Eyrie, which is located at the top of a mountain. Jon Arryn, the head of the house, served King Robert as Hand of the King; Jon was poisoned shortly before Game of Thrones begins, which prompts Robert to ask Ned Stark to become Hand of the King. Now, Jon’s only son Robert is Lord of the Eyrie, with his mother Lysa acting as regent. House Arryn’s coat of arms is white moon and falcon on blue, and its motto is “As High as Honor.”

HOUSE MARTELL
Seated at Sunspear Castle in Dorne, House Martell resisted conquest by the Targaryens and was allowed to remain sovereign; in fact, Dorne was the only kingdom that maintained its independence during the Targaryen conquest. House Martell supported the Targaryens during Robert Baratheon’s rebellion, but ended up swearing fealty to Robert after he took the Iron Throne. House Martell isolated itself from the other houses because of their anger and resentment of the Lannisters. Its coat of arms is a gold spear piercing a red sun on a gold background, and its motto is “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.”









Monday, 8 April 2019

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - ALTERNATIVE INDIE ROCK BAND "WHITE DENIM"

White Denim are a four piece Alternative Indie Rock band from Texas, USA.  Their music is a unique blend of various genres that grab at the senses on first intriguing listen.  The band's influences are quite eclectic if their music is anything to go by.  There are hints of 60s Psychedelia, Classic Rock of the 70s and 80s Rock and Electronica.  I'm surprised this band aren't globally everywhere as their brand of weird and creative Rock is quite unusual.


I first caught the band on the YouTube video for The song "Pretty Green", in a hilarious and crazy video, the song is incredibly catchy, with hints of 70s Rock and almost ZZ Top Blues and also a hint of 90s Grunge.  Its such a great song and got my attention to find out more about this band who obviously have a sense of humour as well as immense talent!


After several albums I have found much to admire from these guys.  Some of my favourites include  "New Coat" which is a bouncy, cute little number reminiscent of The Cardigans or late 80s/early 90s pure Pop (from the album "Last Day Of Summer") and a hybrid of The Doors and The Kinks arises on "Drug" (from the album "D").  I also love the Classic Rock of "Holda You (I'm Psycho)", the 80s Rock of "Real Deal Momma" and the weirdly wonderful T-Rex/The Sweet combination on "There's A Brain In My Head" from the album "Stiff".


Following fast on the heels of their 2018 album, "Performance" comes "Side Effects", out March 2019.  Includes the latest single, "Reversed Mirror".  Check these Texan rockers out, there really is something for everyone!






Sunday, 7 April 2019

NEW MUSIC EAR'S PERSONAL PLAYLISTS - "BILLY IDOL"

A NEW FEATURE ON NEW MUSIC EAR.  THE PLAYLISTS ON MY IPOD FEATURE LOTS OF VARIOUS ARTISTS SO I THOUGHT I WOULD SHARE MY PLAYLISTS WITH YOU.  HOPE YOU SEE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITES!

BILLY IDOL


PLAYLIST


From Billy's debut solo album I chose 8 out of the 10 tracks, such is the class of this album.  It was raw and only a slight move away from his Generation X days.  Included here is the single "Hot In The City" and the re-worked Generation X song "Dancing With Myself" (this appeared on the CD reissue in 1983).  The single "White Wedding" will feature later in all its full version glory.  The African drum sounding "Love Calling" is here as well as the sneering but emotive ballad, "Its So Cruel".  There are 3 old Punk style tracks in "Dead On Arrival", "Shooting Stars" and "Nobodys' Business".  I also have the much rockier "Hole In The Wall" to finish the set. 



1983 saw the release of "Rebel Yell", the album that made Billy absolutely huge in the USA and a bona fide Rock starThis abum was more accomplished and polished than the debut.  I have included all the famous singles, the barnstorming title track, the lush and dark "Eyes Without A Face", "Catch My Fall" and the Electro Rock of "Flesh For Fantasy".  Added to these I include the manic Punk rocker "(Do Not) Stand In The Shadows" and one of my favourites, the epic anthemic Rock of "Blue Highway".



The first compilation of Billy Idol in between the second and third studio albums came in 1985.  The mixes on all the tracks were immense but I had to choose the Downtown Mix of "Mony Mony" and obviously the awesome Shotgun Mix of the classic "White Wedding (Parts 1 and 2)", an 8 minute plus masterpiece!



In 1986 came Billy's third album, "Whiplash Smile", I was a little disappointed at first after the magnificence of the first two albums.  The songs seemed a little unoriginal to me apart from the four singles.  I absolutely loved "To Be A Lover", doing his best Elvis Presley impression and it was pure Rock 'N Roll.  Along with this track I added the sublime "Sweet Sixteen" and atmospheric "Don't Need A Gun".  The final track I chose was the rockin' "Soul Standing By".



4 years passed until the next release, but in 1990 "Charmed Life" brought Billy back to his best, original immense guitar Rock.  The Classic Idol sound was there on the fabulous "Cradle Of Love" and his take on The Doors' "L.A. Woman" was awesome.  The slower tempo but amazing production on the third single "Prodigal Blues" is similar to Simple Minds' style and it is one of Billy's best for me.  The almost Blues Rock sound of "Love Unchained" and the Aerosmith manic hard rocker "Trouble With The Sweet Stuff" complete this album's contribution.



The fifth studio album, "Cyberpunk" came in 1993.  Although this was a more computer involved project, using Billy's awareness of cyberculture and technology it had some great tracks.  "Shock To The System" was a pulsating first single from the album and the epic effects laden cover of Lou Reed's "Heroin" is class.  The 80s style "Venus" and "Then The Night Comes" and the brilliant Electronic Rock of "Mother Dawn" complete my choices.



After 12 years the follow up to "Cyberpunk" appeared in 2005 entitled "Devil's Playground".  The stand out tracks for me are the Classic Rock of "Sherri", the Rock 'N Roll sea shanty Blues style of "Lady Do Or Die" and the 60s influenced track "Cherie".  "Scream" was the first single I didn't included in the playlist, it just didn't sound new to me.



"The Very Best of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself" appeared in 2008 and including new tracks, one was the blistering "Speed" from the movie soundtrack and it made it on to my playlist.  The fantastic "John Wayne" is also included from this album.



The most recent album by Billy Idol is "Kings & Queens Of The Underground", released in 2014.  This album reminded me of the rocker I remember from the 80s.  Some great tracks on this album which is why I had to choose 5.  The single "Can't Break Me Down" is a modern rocker like some of the "new" alternative bands in the late 90s and 00s.  The other single from this album, "Save Me Now" is a great anthemic rocker and couldn't be ignored.  The title track reminds me of late 60s and early 70s Rock, with this I include the hard Punk rocker "Whiskey And Pills" and "Nothing To Fear".




 I AM SURE MANY FANS WILL BE DEBATING THE INCLUSIONS AND THE TRACKS NOT INCLUDED, BUT I HOPE YOU FOUND THIS PLAYLIST INTERESTING, CHECK BACK FOR MORE ON NEW MUSIC EAR!

Thursday, 4 April 2019

THEME ARTICLE - "HOW 5 SCOTTISH BANDS SAVED THE END OF THE 80s FOR ME"

The end of the 80s from '87 onwards became all too stale, with Stock, Aitken and Waterman's Hit Factory and Acid House clogging up the charts with the same old sounds over and over.  It was a disappointing end of a decade that gave so much variety in styles and genres.  Almost every style of music made an impact in that decade.  It also gave new life to the "veterans" such as David Bowie, Elton John and Rod Stewart.  It gave us new movements such as Goth and New Romantic mixing with the 70s Disco, Ska and Punk.  No other decade gave so much to music.


The 90s pretty much passed me by, I had my old favourites from the 80s that were still making records but not getting into the charts.  There were Scottish bands around from the 80s such as the awesome Simple Minds and Big Country but I want to focus on the 5 new bands that first appeared around 1987 and carried me through the music doldrums into the 90s.  Each of these bands had a "live" like feel to their records, listen on headphones and you would swear you were in the studio with them.  A clear sound, brilliant melodies and the lyrics meant something.

TEXAS


Texas made joyous, guitar twanging, soulful music.  Sharleen Spiteri's voice was just heaven sent, effortless vocals and powerful and emotive.  Although the music was like American Country Pop, it surprised people that they were actually Scottish and not Texas natives! The song that got me hooked was the lush "I Don't Need A Lover" which prompted me instantly to buy the debut long player, "Southside".  Although arriving in 1989 just when the charts were pretty abysmal Texas were like a quick slap on the head that music could still be great again.



DEL AMITRI


Del Amitri, fronted by the gravel voiced Justin Currie were a brilliant band.  I caught them from their second album after they changed their lineup and sound in 1989.  The album was "Waking Hours" which contained the massive hit "Nothing Ever Happens".  The song that first caught my ears though was "Kiss This Thing Goodbye", such a pure sound and like Rock Pop but with a Folk vibe.  Justin's lyrics have always been thought provoking and emotive and the sound with harmonicas and strings were just fantastic.


HUE AND CRY


Pat and Greg Kane brought a brand of sophisticated Pop to the late 80s.  The single "Labour Of Love" was a classy, uptempo number that became their biggest ever hit.  This was the track that listened to constantly until I found the debut album, "Seduced And Abandoned".  Pat's soulful voice sounded even better on later tracks such as  "Looking For Linda".  This was something I hadn't heard before, in 1987 I needed this to rescue my thirst looking for new excellent music.



DEACON BLUE


One of my mates tipped me off about this band, lending me the debut album in 1987 called "Raintown".  I absolutely loved them and ended up seeing them live about 4 times in the space of six months.  "Dignity", "Chocolate Girl", "When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring)" were all quirky but soulful songs that seemed to life the spirits and optimisim of the listener.  Lead vocalist Ricky Ross had a great Rock voice when it suited but also Soul and Blues, his co-vocalist Lorraine McIntosh gave beautiful harmonies and together it was a dream.  The band gave amazing, energetic live performances too!

THE PROCLAIMERS


Charlie and Craig Reid gave us a completely new sound in 1987.  Acoustic Celtic Folk Rock is the best description I can give.  After Gerry Rafferty produced the song "Letter From America" the boys never looked back.  Of course they went on to make the most memorable song, "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)".  It was an amazing sound they had, usually Scottish and Welsh singers and some Irish too take to an American vocal, hding their accents.  The Proclaimers kept their accents which gave their songs more depth.  The harmonies that Craig and Charlie made were amazing and the feel good vibe they evoked within their songs was just class.


Thanks to these 5 bands for keeping me sane during the "low" years of the late 80s and early 90s!





Tuesday, 2 April 2019

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - ALTERNATIVE POP ARTIST "ANNA MADSEN"

Currently residing in Keene, New Hampshire, this talented singer-songwriter conjures up dream like images with her atmospheric light alternative pop music.  Her first full length album "Efflorescence" was an impressive debut when it appeared in 2016.


On first listen to the song "Palm Reader" I sense a little Tori Amos, a little Enya, a little Suzanne Vega which is an unusual mix but it works, throw in the odd little Kate Bush vocal and this is what you have.  The album is a really nice listen, theres always an emotional, passionate vocal sometimes accompanied by piano, guitars, drum loops and various other musical backing that gives a rich, dreamy sound that draws you into a kind of mystical world.


Anna is a very talented lady, outside her music project she is also a photographer and actress.  The film "Granite Orpheus", which is scheduled for release this year has an acting credit for her and the soundtrack features two of her tracks including "Palm Reader", which was the title track from her first E.P.


Since I first discovered the music of Anna Madsen a few years ago she has since released a follow up album called "Whisper" in 2017 and has a new single coming soon called "Black Tears".  Lots more to come from this lady in all art forms it seems.