Music Mondays #2 – Mother Mooch

And here we are again! As detailed in my original post on the topic, every Monday I’m going to highlight an independent artist that I think deserves a bit of promotion and internet love. There will be a bit of blurb on each artist, links to where you can find them online, and my picks for an essential album and single track that you should check out even if you try nothing else. Hopefully I’ll make them sound interesting enough that you’ll click the link and show them some support or share their work with your own social network of choice. Let’s get stuck in to #2…

Mother Mooch

I’ve seen a lot of different genres thrown around to describe this Dublin-based band – fuzz rock, psychedelic rock, desert rock, doom-grunge – but I think the fact that they are a little bit different is why I keep going back to their album up every now and then. So, how would I describe them? If you were to imagine a female-fronted cross between Queens Of A Stone Age, Monster Magnet and Black Sabbath you’d probably be in the right ballpark, and damn it’s a really fun ballpark to be in. The band themselves clearly have a strong idea of what they want to be, and there’s plenty of variation in their debut album to keep you engaged and be pretty broadly appealing. Album opener The Tempest is a combination of moody grunge and balls-out desert rock, all fuzzy guitars and attitude and – while this isn’t the album for fans of shredding – whether grinding out thick grunge riffs on Misery Hill or providing clean, moody atmospheric hooks on tracks like Into The Water the guitar work here is always bold and effective. The tight rhythm section drives the whole thing along, the vocals are full and drip with character and attitude, the lyrics are full of dark themes – it’s a rich, heady mix which everyone should try once. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this band goes. Check them out!

Links, glorious links!  You can find the band at mothermooch.com, and you can listen to and purchase their songs at their Bandcamp site.

Essential Album – This is pretty easy as at the time of writing they only have one full album out, Nocturnes, but it’s really good. You should listen to it.

Essential Track – Into The Water is probably the album’s standout earworm with it’s strong hook, but my personal pick is Misery Hill – a thick slice of Monster Magnet-style psychedelic rock.

 

Do you have a favourite independent artist that you think I should listen to? Drop a note in the comments and let me know, I don’t promise to use them all but I promise I’ll listen to every single one of them.

Music Mondays #1 – James PM Phillips

So, what happens when you announce you’ll be doing a weekly blog? You immediately catch a virus that knocks you on your arse for a couple of weeks meaning you totally fail to post, silly! Apologies for that. In order to get back on track for being ill recently, and to make this inaugural post a bit special, today I’ll be posting two entries to catch us up.

As detailed in my original post on the topic, every Monday I’m going to highlight an independent artist that I think deserves a bit of promotion and internet love. There will be a bit of blurb on each artist, links to where you can find them online, and my picks for an essential album and single track that you should check out even if you try nothing else. Hopefully I’ll make them sound interesting enough that you’ll click the link and show them some support or share their work with your own social network of choice. Let’s start with…

James PM Phillips

Full disclosure, I’ve known James for many years. Does this make me biased? Maybe, but I’ve never worked on any of his music and I’m not on commission so I think I’m safe. That said, James makes fantastic and intelligent folk music which is worth your time. An accomplished multi-instrumentalist and a great singer, for me his ability to tell wonderful, evocative stories through his music really elevates it. Songs like She Said, Four Years, and Mary paint compelling, and often incomplete, portraits of melancholy characters that resist the urge to give too much information, leaving it up to the listener to fill in the blanks. These contrast with the heartfelt first-person narratives of tracks like Ring Of Flowers or Give Me Wings, but which are no less poetic in their execution. Fans of unusual guitar tunings and poetic lyrics would do well to give James a listen.

In addition to all of this, James dedicates an enormous amount of time and energy to giving opportunities and exposure to other independent and young acts through running various gig nights and open mic nights. People like this keep independent music alive and kicking, and that helps to make him exactly the sort of person that deserves to be opening this blog.

Links, glorious links! – James is on Facebook, and you can listen to and purchase his work at his Bandcamp site.

Essential Album Tea And Hangovers. This EP has best production quality, some of my favourite writing and I think James knocked the vocals on this album out of the park.

Essential Track – I have huge soft spots for Love You and Give Me Wings, but if you can only check out one track, I would recommend Ring Of Flowers.

 

Do you have a favourite independent artist that you think I should listen to? Drop a note in the comments and let me know, I don’t promise to use them all but I promise I’ll listen to every single one of them.

Independent Music Mondays

“It’s never been cheaper and easier to make music. It’s never been cheaper and easier to distribute music. It’s never been harder to get people to pay for it.”

This is something that’s been on my mind for a little while now, for a variety of reasons. Being the type of guy who hangs out with independant musicians who don’t have label packing or huge fanbases, this sort of conversation comes up a lot. Income from downloads from services like Amazon and iTunes are down, streaming services pay artists basically nothing, and music venues and studios are offering less opportunities to artists than they used to. Just like many small business owners/self employed people, it is lean times for a lot of artists. Sure, there are innovative ways to make a living if you are a smart business person, but not all talented musicians are also great at business, marketing, production or the many other things involved in being a musician today.

But instead of moaning about it, let’s try (in our own small way) to do something about it.

The internet is a great tool for making people aware of artists you’ve never heard of. The more people who see a link, the more people will click the link, and the more people will find a new artist they like. So, every Monday for the rest of 2017, I will be using this blog to promote an independent artist. Not someone with a million subscribers already, but someone who I think is creating interesting work and deserves a little bit of your attention. There’ll be links to where you can listen to (and buy) their music, and all I’m asking people to do is check the artist out. Some I hope you’ll like and some you won’t, but if you like what you hear, buy a song or two. Leave some feedback on their site. Maybe tell your friends. Our support is what enables these artists to continue to make the music we enjoy.

So, that’s the plan for Mondays. We’ll see how it goes. If you have any suggestions for artists you’d like to see featured, or ones that you just think I might to listen to, post a comment below with the details. At the very least I promise to check them out. 🙂

Ghost

Back when I started mucking about with recording as a teenager one of my inspirations was a little-remembered and, in my view, underrated US alternative rock act called Live. They first made it big with an album called Throwing Copper in 1994 which got a lot of repeat play in my bedroom as a teenager. But while their 1997 album, Secret Samadhi, was less commercially successful I actually think it’s far stronger musically with it’s touches of Southern Gothic and sweeping strings. One of the tracks, Ghost, really jumped out at me and I recorded a simple guitar version by myself using very basic equipment. Fifteen years later when I wanted to find a simple song I knew well to experiment with, Ghost came to mind.

I set aside a weekend to do all the recording. Originally I intended to just do a straight remake, keeping the very simple two guitar arrangement I had before but as the day went on I added bass, then drums, then MORE drums, guitars and MORE GUITARS. I used my Ibanez S540 on this rather than the strat. It gives such a rich tone and takes distortion really really well. Before I knew it I’d gone to a sort of 90s alt rock place without really planning it. However, like Ring Of Fire, after working a lot on folk music this is much more my cup of tea.

The slightly backwards recording approach wasn’t ideal really – it did throw up a few minor timing glitches here and there. I threw virtual amps and effects rigs on everything other than the main drum kit using Line 6′s Pod Farm 2. I really like working with virtual amps and effects, the ability to tweak settings in the mix is invaluable – especially if you don’t have a concrete idea of how you want things to sound at the start.

Really pleased with the sounds of the rhythm section on this. The kit is sounding really good and I’m getting back into playing shape. I’m pleased with the bass sound in particular too as I find my bass sounds to be something I need to work on (partly because I have an inexpensive bass guitar!)

The timing issues made for a fun editing challenge though, and over the course of a week or so I was able to get this out.

Enjoy.

Dedications, that’s what you need.

Hello world, it’s been a while.

2013 has so far been an appalling year in practically every way, and without exaggeration just the worst time of my life. So much so that it’s taken me until nearly the end of August to really get back to being able to breath and think clearly.

However those who have been paying attention at the back may remember we talked in this post about an album release for this year. Not only did we make an album in my (totally unbiased) view we made a HELL of an album. We dipped a whole bundle of well-crafted fantasy folk tunes into a strange brew of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkle, Fleetwood Mac, Clannad, Levellers, punk, funk, folk and rock and pulled out something a bit unexpected.

Jamie Wakefield’s Hit & Mist came out this past weekend, and promptly sold it’s entire first printing run in just four days. … Whaaaaaat UP?!?

There will be another print run, and further copies can be obtained from the public Facebook page for the album launch. I believe Jamie will also be looking at the possibility of digital downloads in the future. Personally it’s still bizarre for me to hold in your hand some sounds you made in your back bedroom… and then give it to someone else… and they give you money for it. And when you see lots of people doing it… Mind. Blown.

What I never got any space to do was to put my own little comments and thoughts down about the whole project. So…

THANK YOU

To everyone who bought the album, especially the preorderers. You keep independant music alive.

To all the musicians and singers who came in on their free time and gave it their all; especially those whose contributions ended up getting cut in whole or in part and took it with such good grace. You allow me to do what I love.

To Ronnie and Paul, who back when it started helped me mess about with tape machines in the living room – who knew?

To all the musicians who ever supported me, taught me, inspired me, or drove me to be better just so I could kick your ass.

To Char, for not understanding but being incredibly amazing anyway.

To Dan, Simon and Gwen who were there when it mattered.

To my dad, who showed me what music was and who never got to hear how it all turned out. I hope you would have liked it.

And of course, to Jamie; for his patience, for believing me a long 18 months ago when I said I could do this, and for providing such wonderful tales and tunes. For real.

Living the bloody dream, people.

Coming in 2013

Eh, I’ve been neglecting this blog (and indeed music in general) recently. No excuses, just been busy with real work etc etc. However I do have a new project to announce here: I am currently working with Jamie Wakefield to produce his first solo album, Hit & Mist, which will be released in 2013.

For those who don’t know Jamie personally, you might remember him from the two tracks he penned for Visions Of A Dragon, widely regarded as two of the highlights of the project. I’ve already been listening to rough demos to the material and there’s some really great writing in there. All we have to do now is deliver a great sound!

In order to help us make this album, you can pre-order a special edition of the album, with an accompanying book of lyrics and artwork, from Jamie here.

I hope this will not be the only project I can announce soon, but for now, that’s all folks. 🙂

Ring Of Fire

I’ve had this idea for a cover kicking around in my head for weeks now, and it’s been really bugging me. I was supposed to be doing other things tonight but for some reason I had to get this down instead. This afternoon someone said to me “what music would you rather be doing?” after a couple of folk projects on the trot. This is much closer to what I’d rather be doing!

The drums were built in Native Instruments Studio Drummer using the Garage kit. I’ve never used the Garage kit before on anything because I find it the worst of the Studio Drummer kits. It has a rough quality, which to be fair is what they designed it for, and that was exactly what I was after for once.

Ever since I worked on Blood & Honour for Bría McAllister I’ve been using Line 6’s Pod Farm 2 for a lot of virtual guitar amplification, so that’s what I went straight to for the bass and rhythm guitar tracks. Some classic 60s bass amp action, along with a variation on The Ramones guitar sound for the wide-panned rhythm guitars. I used the Brit J-800 amp head A LOT on this track.

The vocals went on next, with some overdriven distortion from the preamp and a touch of slappy reverb. Finally, messing around with lead riffs. It’s actually quite a long time since I recorded any electric guitar, and my Fender Strat had some quite nasty old strings on it. Pretty pleased with the results anyway though! More judicious use of Pod Farm here for distortion and amp modelling.

A bit of volume automation, and jobs a good ‘un. Short, nasty little recording but I kinda like it.