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Music of 2006

I cheated last year and did my gig retrospective for 2006 as I went along. 28 gigs, 1 festival, 2 Whitby Gothic Weekends and a college ball added up to 108 different bands. I think the Dears gig at the ICA might just pip the post to being the best.

Here after some archaelogy of that page, ripped tracks, Amazon orders and my memory is the music I bought or was given last year, though I can't pick a favourite yet:

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Total: 87 albums, 7 singles, 2 EPs.


The Sound of 2006

The BBC have talked to 100s of critics and DJs and asked them what their favourite new music is, and put together a list of who they think will be the sound of this year. They've written a bit about each of them, and included a link to a full track by each artist. See the BBC article for more details. Anyway I thought I'd have a listen and tell you what I think about each of them.

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Overall if this is the best they can come up with for this year it's not going to be all that exciting. But I suspect they're wrong.

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Whatever happened to my rock and roll?

quick BRMC review: great music, very well opened with a solo acoustic number, and then another one that the others came in and sang on the last chorus of. Some rocking tracks from the old album that really got the crowd jumping. But they didn't really engage all that well with some of the quieter stuff, and the gaps between the tracks were a bit long, which made the whole thing a bit bitty.

The mini-mosh-pit was fun, and the last quiet number was beautiful, but they *really* need to work on quicker changes, even if it's the vast array of instruments they all play which make it hard work.

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Still Magic

I saw the Magic Numbers play at Glastonbury. In a crowded tent named in John Peel's honour which was almost worshipping the ground they walked on. The more they smiled the more the crowd cheered and the happier they got. It's a moment that will probably live with me forever and with that in mind it was hard to imagine they could ever live up to my hopes in seeing them again, but they did.

A smaller crowd, a smaller room, but they filled it with their music. Their simple formula of guitar, bass, drums, assorted percussion and three voices seems to work every time. Playing song after song from their eponymous album you kept feeling like they had to have run out, until they played another and you went "ooh" again remembering how good it was. In amongst them they threw a couple of new tracks, including a lovely acoustic solo from Michelle which will apparently be the B side of their next single, and their contribution to the Warchild album. And they managed to keep the pace varied, with an assortment which included a glockenspiel duet of all things.

They opened the encore with another acoustic number, this time a Beyonce cover, managing at once to be hilarious and beautiful. It was followed by one of their singles and then they got the crowd to sing along to Wheels on Fire. It's always impressive when a crowd can sing well, and they did, even managing to make the slow ending work. A finale of a rousing number made everyone jump and clap and dance along. The crowd yelled itself hoarse, as the band left the stage still grinning. And I'm still grinning too.

Right now I don't believe in cynicism. A feeling I hope will last.

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Editors / We Are Scientists / Cinematics @ The Junction, Cambridge, 5/10/2005

The Junction is a great little venue. It holds somewhere around 800 people, in a room which is wider than it is long, which means you're always close to the stage. With a small crowd this makes it feel very empty, but this was a sell-out gig, and deservedly so.

We arrived to find Cinematics already on stage, playing some nice little indie pop songs. The bass seemed to lead the sound, and it worked well, though that may just have been the mix. The lead vocalist was confident, though I preferred the smoother deeper voice of the guitarist's backing. They were a good opener, though I don't see them taking off unless they develop something more of an individual style.

This was not a problem suffered by the main support, New York three-piece We Are Scientists. The sound was really great, with all three of them taking vocal parts, and a distinctive guitar sound which was a joy to listen to. The two singles Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt and The Great Escape went down a storm, and had the crowd singing along. Definitely one who'll be going far.

Finally it was time for Editors, who were an instant hit. The singer, skinny almost to the point of being gaunt, had the most incredible intensity, and yet dropped into a friendly relaxed tone between tracks. He was the only one of the band to sing, but had the voice to carry it off and rest of the band didn't simply fade into the background. They had a great mix of songs with much more variety of style than one listen to their album had led me to expect. The whole was accompanied by a great lightshow which made the most of the small space and the white backdrop, with some excellent use of shadow.

As if this wasn't enough the band took a short break after the gig finished, then headed into town to The Soul Tree, to do a DJ set at Club Goo. You couldn't have asked for a much better selection of indie tracks to dance to. They seemed to be having a whale of a time behind the DJ booth and we had a great time too. All in all a fabulous night out.

This review submitted as is to Vic's show as part of 6music's reading festical


Re-writing reviews

As part of 6 Music's Reading festival, we want you to send your reviews to Vic McGlynn.

You can write a review (up to 400 words) on one (or more) of the following subjects:

1. Gigs. Send us a review of the most recent gig you've been to...

So says 6music's webpage, so I thought I'd have a go at editing the review of the Junction Fiver which I posted last week. Hard work to pare it down so far and still talk about all 5 bands. Anyway, since I expect they won't publish it, here it is:

Junction Fiver, The Junction, Cambridge, 22/09/2005

First up was Niccokick from Sweden, followed by Alazarin from Holland. Neither of them really clicked with the audience. Perhaps because it was so small in a large room. Both 5 pieces featuring keyboards as well as guitars Niccokick had a more indie rock sound, with Alazarin having a sound reminiscent of Mogwai or Boards of Canada.

Next were Skip the Rush, also from Holland. They immediately impressed since what they had which the others lacked was presence. The lead singer had a style reminiscent a little of Jarvis Cocker, and unencumbered by a guitar he wandered round the stage, leapt off to sing over the barrier at us, jumped back up and tripped over the monitors and sat there feet in the air carrying on singing as if it were intentional. The music was in an indie-pop-rock style with vocals reminscent of Brian Molko: a comparison which has apparently been made before. They were remarkably able to cope with mishaps: as the mic got tangled up, the bass came unplugged, then the guitar, and the high-hat fell over all in the space of one track - at all points at least three of them were in control and the music was remarkably little interrupted. I'll be watching out for them in future.

Next were the Broken Family Band, known as one of the UK's best alt-country outfits, and based in Cambridge. They played a mix of old and newer songs in a crowd pleasing set. Though with crowd of locals it would have been hard not to. These guys were well worth the fiver on their own.

Unfortunately at this point much of the audience headed home, leaving very few for Moussevingt - an unusual 3 piece from Luxembourg. They combined angelically confident voices with rock guitar and bleepy electro-stuff. Their first track was the most ambitious: a cover of "My Funny Valentine". The vocals were haunting, but it felt as if all the components were at odds with each other, rather than working together. By the last track things were sounding much more polished though and I suspect with a lot more practice they could be excellent.

Overall it was a good night, though sadly let down by having such a small audience in a large room, which rather spoiled the atmosphere.