Rights for sale and forthcoming Russian bots. Grass roots music in the current period.

Why selling off musical copyrights makes a terrible situation even worse. Plus, fun with Russian bots.

I haven’t released any music since the 30th of October, 2020. That’s not to say that I haven’t been making music in the intervening time, but in the world of evidence-based existence via social media, it would appear that I have done absolutely nowt since then, musically speaking anyway.

This dearth of social media self-promotion, in addition to a consistently low Spotify listenership (shout out to ye local 142 people worldwide!), means that algorithmically I don’t exist any longer.

In this topsy-turvy world full of inherent contradiction, my lack of ‘being’ on the world wide web would probably lead to even less public interest regarding the music that I have already made, given that I am not promoting anything, or even revisiting back catalogues. I haven’t sent anything to any playlist or radio for a long while, and other than to check the inbox for this here review site, I would have assumed that I would be getting little in terms of direct communication.

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Ronan Keating – Voice of the Revolution

In the wake of a non-touring future courtesy of the UK government, the unlikely figure of Ronan Keating has become my voice of the revolution.

I have been playing music professionally since 2018, casually for 25 years before that, and listening to it all my life. Both my parents are musicians, in addition to various uncles, aunts, cousins etc. A proper musical family, but not as cool or commercially successful as the Jackson 5 or The Beach Boys. Anyway, to say that I have been immersed in music my entire life would not be an understatement, indeed it is the truth of the matter. From a young age, reluctantly I might add, I have been completely bathed in music.

To say this bathing was diverse, would be stretching the truth a little, being as it was heavily centred round classical music. From my philistine’s point of view, under the term ‘classical‘ I lump together the following: early music, baroque, surrealism, Benjamin Britten (whatever that is), opera, John Cage and that, shitey musicals from the 1930s, chamber music, and all associated offshoots. Basically, that is to say, all music that lasted longer than three minutes and sometimes had no words. Oh what tonic to the ears and attention span of a millennial adolescent!

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Gefahrgeist – Nukular

Nukular, by Gefahrgeist. A post-apocalyptic vision of live music (unless you live on the Isle of Man).

I like the way that music amplifies (no pun intended) and provides a window onto society, allowing future generations the opportunity to gauge the mood of times gone by. Should we make it to 30 years from now, no doubt future generations of android-children will look back on this period and think,

“Wow, that was a shite year.”

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Bigg Taj vs Spee Six Nine – If You With Me

Scottish musical culture transcends language and history, from Hebridean Gaelic to Indian rhythms, through to the frank wordsmith that is Spee Six Nine. This is, for me, a fuller picture of contemporary Scotland.

The teacher told us to shut up and listen, glaring over the top of the electric piano, harpsichord setting, his eyes alive with a total obsessiveness of a man unused to not being listened too. He’d wire into fugues by Bach or variations by Mozart, occasionally adding his own unbearable falsetto voice to the clunky, same-y melodies that we would listen to in stony silence. Then we would be lectured on how one fella in 18th century Germany influenced another in 19th century Austria or vice versa. Variation #12 Opus 32. Music by numbers.

The Gaelic part of the course was equally as tenuous, as if the SQA in all their desire to make Scottish culture as monochrome and one-dimensional as possible, sought to somehow find the relevance of the traditional Puirt à beul (mouth music), or Òrain Luaidh (Waulking Songs) in suburban Edinburgh. Though we were spared the grey days of falsetto-heavy baroque and classical, the historical and cultural significance of Gaelic culture sadly fell on deaf ears. That is until in an act of academic sabotage, our once demur teacher broke rank and put on ‘Chanter’ by Martyn Bennett, and in one moment of glory that only exposure to music can provide, the world of sampling was thrown open to me.

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A Man’s a Man for a’ that – Robert Burns

Why we study Orwell but not Burns. An ill-informed rant from an ill-informed ranter.

Note: The following is a personal take on Robert Burns’ work with reference to collective action and an egalitarian future. If you don’t agree with it, then please vent all frustrations towards your nearest haggis.

Around the 25th of January every year at school we would do a Burns poem, usually a last ditch effort of guilt-ridden tokenism for my Scottish school in which ‘English’ literature at exam level gave no mention to a man who is revered as a national bard. Though things may have changed, I assure you that back in the golden age of 2005, Burns was unavailable to us.

Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an’ a’ that;
The coward-slave, we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that.
Our toils obscure an’ a’ that,
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The Man’s the gowd for a’ that.

In an age in which schooling has come to propagate the merits of capitalism and individualism, the idea of status as a result of money or possessions being inferior to the simple human existence, is downright subversive in the eyes of many for whom privilege is status. The line being that the superiority and inherent good in mankind won’t get you on any graduate trainee schemes and it certainly isn’t worth any UCAS points.

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This Will Change – Felix and the Sunsets

Telling people from outside of Scotland that you are Scottish is always a fine line to be walked. Though, mercifully, the reaction to Scottishness, or Caledonianity or whatever is usually positive worldwide, there always remains this glint in the eye of the listener, this somewhat romanticised vision that in order to divulge my national identity, one in which I had to travel through the glens, evading redcoats, playing soulful laments on my pipes, before being able to explain my clan history to some bonnie maiden etc.

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Trolled by Garbage and an actor off Desperate Scousewives

In today’s article, we look at how corporate individualism has championed over collective creativity and support in the music industry. Plus, Rab C. Nesbitt.

Catchy titles never were my thing…

I am going to start this article with The Proclaimers, a band that I personally think are worth 1000 times more than their classic 1988 global mega anthem, ‘I’m Gonna Be’. For me as a fan of lyrics that focus on the issues at the heart of modern Scottish life, the album ‘Sunshine on Leith’ is in my top 3 of Scottish albums from back in yon day (Scared to Dance by Skids and Steeltown by Big Country being my other contenders). Anyway, the twins’ story of how their music made it mainstream seems simple if Wikipedia is to be believed; a demo alongside Kevin Rowland of ‘Come on Eileen’ fame that ended up with another established indie group, The Housemartins, and then bang the cycle of creativity began. It shouldn’t really be that surprising that collaboration between established artists and emerging ones led to the success of this iconic band, but to me, it seemed just that. Surprising.

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Pictures of Islands – CS Buchan

Country and Northeastern

‘It doesn’t matter, you shouldn’t care’

Pictures of Islands – CS Buchan

I’ve only been to Aberdeen once. It was a dose of the predictable and unpredictable in equal measure. Predictable as a gritty 0 – 0 scoreline was mercifully brought to a close at the permafrost, uncovered away end at Pittodrie, unpredictable in that the subsequent voracity of the night out resulted in me puking on the Scotrail service back south and getting out at Arbroath, 2 stops early, to avoid owning up to my heinous deeds. I feel pretty poor about it even today, the misery that it must have caused fellow travellers and staff that day, a day already marred by the slate grey sky and the prices of Scotland’s inefficient, privatised rail network.

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Bill Oddy – Stanley Odd

Poetry in Scotland holds this sort of mythical status, mythical enough indeed for a bunch of geezers to get dressed up in the ‘Shortbread-tin/ Brigadoon Scottish’ way and recite lines to a piece of offal every January 25th ‘aw in the name eh the bard eh?

For an Ayrshire farming lad to elevate himself into the national consciousness through tricks of the tongue, observational humour, and still-relevant use of ‘how Scottish people actually talk’ shows how much we value poetry in this country. Got to say that these values were somewhat lost during the educational years, when Higher English resolutely missed the point about how poetry has extreme relevance, both in its observational qualities as well as its phenomenal use of ‘that which which sets us apart from the cat videos’, language.

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Blog the Second

‘Got a feeling ’21 is gonna be a good year’

So goes the refrain from The Who‘s seminal 1969 album, ‘Tommy‘. The track in question is simply titled 1921. Since the end of this guff year, this tune, or at least the main motif from it has been rattling round my head like the broken action of a stricken snare drum, carrying with it something that hasn’t been seen for a wee while in the world of independent music; hope. ‘It’s hope Jim, but not as we know it’.

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