The semi-new 100b, plus The Blueskins

A while ago, I talked about some changes I wanted to make here. To paraphrase myself: I talked about how I pretty much suck at writing about new bands and how I’d ultimately decided not to do that anymore. But I’ve been doing this little blog, for whatever reasons, for longer than I’d care to admit. I do wonder from time to time if, honestly, the sensible thing to do is to just pull the plug, but I just love geeking out about music too much – I can’t bring myself to do it. This is really my only outlet for what is, perhaps, my very favorite thing in the world. Even if I’m just babbling to myself, it gives my scattered affection a little focus.

But not really – we’ve always wanted to write about anything we liked, but that makes it impossible to pin anything down. When I finally said to myself, it’s do or die time, I knew that deciding to ‘do’ had to include narrowing myself to something I would properly enjoy writing about.

You’ll notice, perhaps, that I’ve updated the 100b header just a touch, to reflect my new focus. I eventually realized that what I love doing most is researching music stuff that has come as a surprise to me. Yes, I know that’s oddly specific – for example, my post about Mike Nesmith was fascinating to research. I started out just wanting to know what songs he’d written and discovered a whole list of achievements I’d never have guessed. My Shel Silverstein post followed the same basic path. Which made me realize that what I really love doing most is discovering those little bits that history let fall by the wayside. Sure, there are some people out there who know about them, but most of us have no idea.

I once read an article where Jack White said that, generally, the stuff that’s popular is the best stuff, that there’s usually a reason that bands end up in the bargain bin. I used to agree, and I still do think he had a basic point – popular stuff is very often popular for a reason (even Katy Perry is catchy as hell while we’re loathing her very existence). But what he (and I) weren’t thinking about was all those treasures that haven’t just been forgotten but were never noticed in the first place? Mike Nesmith made amazing albums that a few people loved, but were mostly ignored just because he was a Monkee. Those albums really don’t belong in the bargain bin, but most people don’t even know to look for them. I love looking for them.

That doesn’t mean 100b will only write about old music – sometimes I’ll want to point out an album from the more recent past that was unfairly ignored. But it does mean I will not write about anything new – for music to be considered ‘ignored’, it’d have to be at least, say, five-ish years old. Anything newer and there’s still a chance it’ll break out on its own. But even without profiling brand new bands, I hope people will stop by and find some music they didn’t know about before, that I’m able to give a little new life to something that has remained in the shadows for too long.

On that note, I’d like to briefly mention a band called The Blueskins to kick things off. You probably remember their debut album Word Of Mouth from way back in 2004 – or at least the lead single, “Change Your Mind”, which was featured in a Lynx ad in the UK. That was a pretty great album, a frantic indie-blues-rock affair, and “Change Your Mind” was a fantastic single. It felt like it was tripping over itself to be heard. But then The Blueskins kind of just stalled – they always seemed to be working on a follow-up, but instead formally broke up in 2008. Bummer.

For whatever reason, Word Of Mouth kind of went nowhere, but it deserved better. The Blueskins were definitely a band with promise – Tamboosh and I even went to see them play back then and they rocked out, even if the crowd was pretty small. It’s a shame they weren’t appreciated then, but I do see that Ryan Spendlove (Blueskins lead vocalist) released a solo album, Fables, earlier this year. I haven’t been able to hear the whole thing yet, but it sounds like it’s got good potential. A little more laid back than his previous band’s efforts, but there’s still some Blueskins wildness in there.

Get Word of Mouth at Amazon and Fables at emusic. And I do hope you’ll stick around to rediscover some forgotten music with me.

Coming soon to 100b: Big Changes

If you stop by here frequently – or, heck, even if you stop by infrequently – you may have noticed that I have a difficult time updating regularly. We used to be really good about that, with a rotating schedule that made sure we got new content up pretty damn often. But with just me left of our little team, my partners having moved on to bigger and better ventures, and a dwindling sense of why I’m actually writing this blog, it’s been tricky. Don’t get me wrong, I love 100b. But there’s something I’ve been thinking in the back of my mind for a while that I finally admitted to myself recently:

I don’t really enjoy writing about new bands that much.

Phew, I said it, what a relief – even though it’s only about 78% true. I do like finding wonderful, secret treasures that are new to me. I’ve discovered some really fantastic – and now dearly loved – bands through mails sent here, and I’d be so sad to see that go. On the other hand, any music blogger will tell you that it’s almost impossible to keep up with the mail. 100b is just a small blip in the music blogosphere, but even I can’t listen to and assess half of what comes in. I do my best to screen and I hope I’ve caught the stuff I’d want to have heard most, but there’s no way to do any better. I was, I have to admit, starting to feel burdened by the inbox – as if I never had time to write any posts because I was forever trying to keep the mail under control.

There have been some serious rewards in there, and I do enjoy getting someone’s name out that I feel deserves and needs the attention. What I really don’t enjoy, as it turns out, is the feeling that I have to get to the newest and coolest bands first or else I might as well not bother. Because, let’s face it, I’m never going to get there first. I just can’t compete, and, honestly, I don’t write that sort of newest-hippest-band post very well anyway. I either like them, in which case someone’s long since already written it better, or I don’t like them and I really can’t be bothered wasting my time on something I don’t like. It took me over five years to realize, but that whole scene is just not for me.

But I do love music, more than almost anything, and I do love writing about it. I’ve been thinking for months now about what angle I do really enjoy writing from: I thought about my favorite posts, which bands I liked writing about most, which read as most personal and enthusiastic … and I finally figured out what direction to take. It might be a while before I get there – there’s a small pile of backed up post drafts and intriguing emails to get through first – but I wanted to get the ball rolling a wee bit now.

Mostly because – new bands, pretty please listen here – if you send an email this way, and it is dated after, say, this coming weekend (June 26th), I absolutely will not write a post about it. My new focus will, by its very definition, exclude writing about new music. I do really, really wish I could do better by the hopeful new bands that pass this way, but I just can’t anymore and never really could anyway. If you send mail after this weekend-ish, I will try to read it and promote anything I think is good via Twitter. I can’t promise anything more than that and if that means you don’t want to risk your music getting lost in the interwebs, I totally understand. I hope I’ll hear about you some other way.

So there we go. I’m pretty excited about the changes I’ll be making – even if the readership is tiny or gets even tinier, I think I will enjoy writing for it more, and I expect it will show. Enthusiastic writers write enthusiastic posts, right? I hope mine will be infectious.

David Bowie – Changes

Cornershop and The Double ‘O’ Groove Of, featuring Bubbley Kaur

Cornershop

It’s no secret that I love Cornershop. Yeah, I say I’m a big fan of a lot of bands, and it’s always true, but this is special. Like on equal footing with how I feel about the Beatles. One of those rare, one-in-a-million bands whose music you love so much it almost makes you feel a little sick to your stomach.

Me and Cornershop go way back. In fact, I remember the day – like most people, I got into the band via “Brimful of Asha”, just as it was turning into a monster single, and it was my night out with my friends for my 18th birthday. A little silly on the bus ride home, my friends and I couldn’t stop singing the ‘on a 45’ bit of that song, it being the only part we really knew yet. It didn’t take long for me to get myself When I Was Born For The 7th Time and, as they say, I’ve never looked back. I would pledge my undying love to Cornershop’s music (erm, if I had to for some reason), so 8 pounds seems like nothing.

Cornershop is asking us, their listeners, to pledge as little as 8 pounds to get a minimum of a pre-order of the new album they’re working on with – my heart just stopped a little – Bubbley Kaur. She of the magical single “Topknot”, one of my most beloved songs of all time. In fact, this new album seems to be based around the amazing results of that recording, finally turning it into a full-length LP. For 8 pounds you’ll get yourself the album and the knowledge that you had a little part in making it happen. For more money, you’ll get more stuff, but the list of possibilities is pretty fun to look through so I’ll let you check it out yourself.

This pledging / investing-in-the-making-of-albums isn’t really brand spanking new; I’ve seen similar offers by other bands. It’s a really interesting thing going on, releasing bands from big labels who don’t seem to give much of a crap about the bands they represent nor the listeners who pay for the music. Wouldn’t you much rather give your money directly to a band you care about and have a wee hand in helping get an album made? Cornershop is the first band to do this that I do feel that strongly about, and I will definitely be making my pledge asap, – how about you? There’s only 27 days remaining so have a think about how great it will be to hear Cornershop and The Double ‘O’ Groove Of for the first time and get pledging.

Hear Tjinder and Ben tell you all about it themselves, and find out more about the pledge options over at PledgeMusic – and remind yourself how amazing this band has always been below.

Cornershop – Good Shit

Happy Birthday, Tamboosh!

Happy Birthday, Tamboosh!

‘Nuff said, really – we loves you, Tamboosh! I hope you have a wonderful birthday and, I promise, cupcakes for my best friend asap.

Happy Birthday!

Can’t find nothing on the radio? Yo – turn to that station.

I’m sure if any of you are in the UK, or tuned in to UK-based music news at all, you’ll have heard about the threatened closure of the BBC’s 6music digital radio station. I was hugely disappointed when the closure plan was announced back in March, having just recently started to get back into listening to radio. I used to listen to 6music online, a little every day, to find out what was new, but I’d gotten out of the habit and it took a couple of years to get it back.

(Which is, of course, when the proposed closure was announced. Figures.)

It’s funny that it took me so long to get back to listening to the radio, especially since aDawgg had spent most of that time trying to convince me I needed to listen to the radio more. (He’s a big radio fan and is always trying to spread the love.) But now that I think about it, I’ve been a radio listener through most of my life, and that blip without was actually pretty unusual. I remember listening to Casey Kasem present the Top 40 on Sunday mornings, and even taping favorite songs from the radio for mixes. Remember making radio mix tapes? No, probably not, actually – I bet a lot of you are too young for that. Sigh. Trust me, it was great – it took a lot of patience and sometimes you had to do recon the week before so you knew when to get ready for the real taping, but it was totally worth it when you wanted those favorite songs but had only so much allowance money to go around.

Anyway, I learned what was popular in Europe by listening to Dutch radio when I moved to Holland as a teenager. And then I listened to 6music online once I got into more alternative music during university and wanted a place to hear what was new. Not too much has changed – other than a few trusted bloggers, there’s nowhere else to easily hear new singles, find out about new releases, hear favorite tracks that – let’s face it – I’m never going to hear elsewhere. At least, I don’t know anywhere else I’m likely to hear De La Soul’s “Me Myself and I” and Dan Sartain’s new, not-yet-released single on the same show.

What a big fat bummer it would be if the 6music closure went through. I can’t even say how disappointed I would be. I think my recent return to radio listening is mainly responsible for the frenaissance I’ve been having with music in general – I’d been a dip but lately, I can’t get enough. I’ve been eating up new singles and new releases and I have to thank 6music for giving me to the chance to hear new stuff and remind me of what I’d been missing.

There’s a bunch of things we listeners can do to help out, but I’m later than late to mention this, so I’m just going to point you over to our friend Joe at Music From A Green Window who already wrote a post linking to all the different places to check out. I’ll also point you to the Save BBC 6 Music blog, with another list of places to read and write about this issue. The BBC will make their final decision about the fate of 6music on the 25th of May, so there’s still some time to get your opinion heard. And definitely, definitely take some time to listen to the station itself and remind yourself, like I did, how enjoyable good radio can be.

R.E.M. ft KRS-One – Radio Song
The Futureheads – Radio Heart
Ramones – Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio?

One, Two, Um, Threet, Yes, Now We Tweet

Twitter

So, it took Twitter more than a year to batter us into submission. We did our luddite anti-next-big-thing best, but we finally broke down and joined the Twitterati.

Since we wanted to find a low impact way to keep 100b content fresh and stay more involved in blogging, micro-blogging just seemed the way to go. We should be able to more easily and quickly comment about the music submitted to us, stay on top of events, share our thoughts about music and some other stuff, and, generally, just have more fun. With Twitter so damned easy to use the barrier of sharing really should be so much lower now.

But, wait, we will still be blogging here, as well. All the things you have come to enjoy about 100b will remain as they are. The longer and more involved posts will be right here where you always found them. And they will keep on coming.

Stick around. We haven’t gone anywhere!

Do you want cake on your birthday?

Credit where it’s due, the Tamboosh dug up this hilarious little tune for our aDawgg’s big day today, and she done good. These is some seriously Funky Birthday Jamz.

Happy Birthday, Dawgg!

Flo Rida – Birthday