Rad bands at SXSW



South By Southwest is back this year, the music conference held in Austin Texas provides the industry with a look into a lot of new bands that may feature in the up coming year, a long with lots of industry experts giving their two cents about new media, social trends and the future of the music industry.

Now if you are one of the lucky 300,000 estimated people going to SXSW then lucky you, I hope you had a sick time and make sure you catch Andrew WK and party hard. But if like me you will be sitting at home not attending the busy festival here is my list of bands to check out after SXSW is over.

The 1975. Manchester, UK.

Currently enjoying an heavy rotation on my ipod. The band are on some big bills at SXSW, playing on the ASCAP showcase will defiantly increase their American fan base. The band have been on tour with Two Door Cinema Club in Europe and will only be stopping off at SXSW for a two day stint on their US tour (who just stops of at SXSW?!?). Their music is a combination of indie rock music and heavy synthesisers, they have two EP’s out at the moment, a third call ‘Music For Car’s’ that just dropped and a debut album to be announced soon. Big things to come from The 1975.

Frightened Rabbit. Glasgow Scotland.

I don’t know what it is but i just love Scottish bands, they seem to have it, what ever it is for me. Frightened Rabbit played at last years SXSW at the Scottish show case with bands like Twin Atlantic and Admiral Fallow. They are a band who seem to be doing everything right at the moment, the new album ‘Pedestrian Verse’ has been getting good reviews across the board and they are shooting off in the states. For some fun innocent Scottish rock check these guys out.

Bestfriends. Chicago Il

A electro duo who are the text book definition of DIY. The dudes, recorded, produced, mixed and mastered their debut self titled EP last year and directed two music videos. The multi instrumentalists toured around North America with pop acts mainly, and with a live band and live keys playing the synth hooks they put on an impressive live show. I feel that this band could have the potential to write a summer hit sometime soon and we all love ourselves a guilty pleasure.

Billy Woods. Washington D.C.

A hard hitting rapper who has spent most of his life living in Africa and the West indies, he calls DC his home but now works and lives in New York. He came out with a hard hitting album last year called ‘History Will Absorb Me’, with songs about corruption, rap, depression, slavery and his many homes. Even though it was hard hitting and at some points hard to listen to the album gained lots of praise all across the board and his new full length is expected in May.

The Geeks. Seoul, South Korea.

Remember when hardcore wasn’t popular and they actually cared about what they sang? If you enjoy that kinda hardcore its all the rage in Asia at the moment. The Geeks are a great example of the rising K/J/V/T Rock. Fast songs about everything from live to death and everything in the middle. Their debut EP distributed world wide by Townhall Records helped the western world hear this band and they where soon dubbed as one of the most sincere hardcore bands out there. The Geeks are to Asia what Youth Of Today was to America.

See Beyonce for a Grand or Buy a Lion.

It took Beyonce 12 minutes to sell out her UK leg of her world tour. For 12 minutes the internet became a frantic frenzy where people aggressively refreshed and frantically attempted to put their account details into pay pal before their time ran out. It was how I imagen Jesus to be when he magically appears but only to people willing to pay on ticket master, mass chaos basically.

BUT! Dont worry if you didn’t get tickets and still have your families gold you can still get tickets. Thats right, this is one of the things I can’t stand about ticketing agencies, you can buy tickets and 100 times more than you should and would have paid at the time of release. At the present time you can now purchase a general admission standing ticket for a cool £1,600.50 (with added p&p charges still to be applied). Over £1,000 to see Beyonce, now don’t get me wrong she is amazing at what she does but she ain’t worth that much. Its day light robbery on a mass scale and no one seems to be doing anything about it.

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So baring this in mind there are three things you can do,

1. Accept that on your terrible retail slave wage you are not going to see Beyonce this time around.

2. Pay £922.90 for row 111 and bring some binoculars otherwise you wont see Beyonce.


Almost be able to buy a Lion, On supajam.com you can find a well crafted list of things you could buy or do for less then a Beyonce ticket, and to be honest with you they are all better. The list includes

– Building a stone bake oven

– Spending £100 on gigs every month for a year

– Buying a hot tub and then fill it up with Jelly.

– Become a wrestler.

Other things you could do include, going to every major european festival this summer (Reading & Leeds, Download, Benicassim and others) get a really terrible season ticket at Arsenal, live in London for a day or two, take your mum zorbing in Spain or just take all your friends on holiday to Poland and go skiing.

But all joking aside this second hand ticketing needs to stop, its killing the live sector and raping our banks, the only way to stop this is to report sites like this and dont fucking pay over a grand to see Beyonce. Go to your local venue and see sick bands for under a tenner. Job done.

Christian Dubstep is Kinda a Big Thing.

Dubstep, that annoying thing a people in america apparently like, if you aren’t too busy listening to your skrillex’s and your drapers you might be aware of the hundreds of sub genres in dubstep. Every time a magazine or popular figure in the industry tries to write this genre off another new sound and direction appears, the fact that anything could constitute a dubstep drop however makes this an exciting and ever growing genre. But you wouldn’t think that a genre bult up around sub drops atmospheric build ups and a drug culture  would relate to christians. Fear not because christian dubstep is here to stay Hallelujah!

Here is a select few of some of the so called rising stars in this genre.

Download Sold Its Soul Again.

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This week saw Download festival announce a bunch of new acts that will be playing this years rock/metal spectacular, after the slightly obvious headliners where announce I was hoping to more up and coming or established rock and metal bands on the bill this year bands like Touche Amore, La Dispute, Devil Sold his Soul and other bands on that scale and even bands that are relatively new to the scene but still kicking ass, but it seems that Download has sold its soul to the prestige bands and their labels. The promoters where ‘Excited to announce’ bands such as Korn, Papa Roach, Alice in Chains and other god awful bands that should in my opinion be at home enjoying the royalty checks they get from PRS when their songs are used in Asian commercials. Now there is a spin on this that I may have not looked at, yes this is amazing that the metal and rock genre’s are this loyal to their heritage bands and acts that have been going for many years, but if thats your view why bother booking any other bands than the 10-20 stadium rock acts, where is kiss you may ask, and also where is the new and innovative bands to prop up the genre when these headliners eventually call it a day?

I think my main beef with this festival is you see bands such as Architects and Parkway Drive are 4th on the main stage, bands that have toured the world to an extent greater this early on in their careers and they are given a half an hour slot, true you’ll hear banger after banger but they are making way for a 50 year old who will most likely come with a new dreary album that will not even make its money back for the label. Yes im talking about you Alice.

I can see the festival announcing some great bands in the coming months, but they will be on small side tents that just wont justify booking them. Im sure if you are thinking of going you will have a great time, especially as Download has risen its ticket price for the 6th year in a row to accomodate for these prestige bands, but check out some of the bands in the smaller tents, because they are the bands that will evidently carry the metal and rock genres for years to come when the ‘big guns’ pack it in. So have a good time and don’t fuck around in the mud.

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Hello I am a PC / Windows device / New Music Platform.

So what we get from this video is that Windows thinks,

1. Music experiences are fragmented

2. People juggle apps and services

3 And managing music is now hard.

4. That they are not creating an Apple version yet.

So basically how you go about solving this problem is you jump ship on all your other apps be that Spotify, Deezer or Apple and head over to windows. This not sorting the problem, Windows have just offered another service that is only ‘fragmenting’ the market more. Now it does look nice, but it does look a lot like New Myspace at points.

After I watched the video I came up with a few pros and cons that I think anyone who is interested in this should be aware of,


1. Xbox Music is free for any existing Xbox users, thats nice of them.

2. It is an all in one device for music, you can discover music and new bands or artists via the Smart DJ or Artist Radio, learn to love them with unlimited streaming for the first 6 months of your subscription and then you can purchase the music in the Xbox Music Store. So if you fancy having an entirely digital music library or already have one of the Windows 8 devices then this should excite you.

3. Smart DJ allows the user to have a playlist of related content to whom ever they are listening to at the time. This can incude video as well, this is good but kinda feels like LastFM.


1. Its Windows, thats just not cool. Plus when was the last time Windows released something and rushed it into circulation before they had fully finished programming and all that? Windows 7 and Vista. Excuse me if im a bit sceptical. This restricts lots of people who do not use Windows, if the system is good then you will have to purchase Windows and I do not think this will be that revolutionary. It would be nice to seem Windows open it up for Mac and Linux app.

2. I do not feel its anything new. It sounds exactly like Spotify, you can take the music with you on tablets and your phone. Exactly like Spotify and its because of that I can’t see lots of people flocking to the new service.

3. The unlimited skips, yeah thats limited. Limited to 10 hours per month for 6 months. Read the small print kids.

4. Finally each application that you need to have an entirely cloud based service costs, the xbox (if you don’t have one), the app for your tablet unless it is a Windows tablet and the phone app on android unless its a Windows phone. This service however comes free with Windows devices unlike Spotify.

So make of it what you will. Will this be the new Spotify, I don’t think so, I am a Mac after all.

New Myspace or an old Deadspace.

There is no beating around the bush, from what ever angle you look at the new Myspace it is a very nice looking interface. Big visuals and new swipe to discover more functions give the new Myspace all the characteristics of a fancy web design package. It could be said that Myspace is back, but the question is would we all care if it was Tom’s new Myspace and not Justin’s revolution?

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I was an avid user for many years of the ‘old’ Myspace or Myspace Classic as its referred to now. At one stage it claimed to have over 100 million users and well over 10 million artists from major label acts right down to pub bands. The one problem about it was that it was like hunting for a needle in a forest. Do you remember the annoying designs and the constant adverts, even when Myspace came with a design change a few years back, and also do you remember the people that would charge sometimes over £100 for a bespoke design for your bands Myspace. Myspace had gone crazy and obsolete as our 21st century knight in shining armour came in the form of Facebook, offering clarity and simplicity and I wouldn’t hesitate to say that it changed social media for ever.

So now Myspace is back what do you get for your email address and / or Facebook information? You get a page that looks really nice, even though it has a hint of Pintrest, Tumblr and Facebook and also it has the same scroll as Windows 8. Its a one stop shop apparently, you get a large display picture of what ever you want, and this is my first problem, it requires the highest resolution of all social networks, now if you dont have these then your pictures will looks off and not so bright.

Mashable said ‘Like most social sites today, MySpace calls for both a profile picture and a cover photo. The cover pic, however, has a minimum size of 1,024 x 768 — probably the most high-res requirement for a cover photo that exists.’

A lot of sources say that this is a very user friendly site, I tend to disagree, it is all well and good with basic information but when it comes to uploading music or videos thats an entirely different problem. You can upload songs and videos with ease but after they are complete they sit in the ‘back of house’ area known as your Library it is then next to impossible to move your song to your page, this can be very frustrating especially if you are an artist. But once you and uploaded and re uploaded for about a an hour it somehow works. Its all about finding the very obscure little buttons that look like this,

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These buttons are the key to everything, publishing your music on your page, creating mixes and so forth, but really they couldn’t have thought of something more obscure to find.

With using the new Myspace you may reach a point where the service runs slow, or freezes, this seems to be the norm, it will cut you out of any uploading process you are in or any page alterations. But dont panic, because new Myspace doesn’t offer any save functions or anything like that you will just have to start all over again.

I found the discover section of Myspace to be a rip off, its Spotify’s and Groovesharks love child fostered by JT. Its also very hard to search for anyone thats not a major label artist, this might just be because there are not a lot of unsigned acts signed up yet or because your search is based upon how many times other people have listened to an artist. So you will never get away from JT, Niki M and 1D. So really new Myspace still hasn’t solved a problem, you still have to sift through artists hoping to find a gem.

After all that, im not 100% sold on new Myspace, I still feel that it will be used especially by industry folk as its just another site for them to look at bands and artists and see how many fans you are connected too. It would be stupid for an artist not to be on all available social media sites, cause at the end of the day you don’t know who’s looking and listening to your music.

I have been working on one for my band, have a look and judge for yourself if its worth signing up. (new.myspace.com/dialsofficial)

Contemporary Classical.

It must be me, but this cold, frosty bleak weather makes me want to listen to classical music. It seems to go well with the falling snow. Just me? I don’t know if you have noticed or are aware but Classical music seems to be getting a contemporary twist to it. I’ve been a fan of one such composer Olafur Arnalds for a few years now ever since he appeared in a film called ‘Press Pause Play.’ (embedded bellow and also featuring Moby, good old Moby). He speaks in this film about his music and how he enjoys making classical music with a twist but with this how it is sometimes hard for him and other composers to get press on a wider scale because he is seen as ‘too’ new wave and experimental by the classical editors and to how his music is too classical by publications like the NME. If you are aware of Olafur Arnalds you will know and understand that he is a classical composer but he uses drum machines and beats to add fluidity.

I really enjoy this style of music and I think in 2013 its going to gain a wider recognition especially as it was spoken about on such sites as Drowned in Sound and Pitchfork a lot in 2012, and as key trend setter and most recognised name by the mainstream Olafur Arnalds has signed to Mercury Classics from Erased Tapes Records to release his new album For Now I Am Winter. Bellow are some other names worth checking out.

– The Album Leaf (USA, Sub Pop)

– Max Richter (Especially his album Infra. Germany, Fat Cat Recordings)

– Johann Johannsson (Iceland, All self releases apart from his movie compositions)

– Nils Frahm (Germany, Erased Tapes)

– Helios / Keith Kenniff (USA, Type)

Drowned In Sound have been talking about Olafur’s new album For Now I Am Winter. I am really looking forward to this and the progression of the classical genre.

If only I had taken those free Piano lessons rather than Drums.

Its Not over Until His Masters Voice Sings.

Twos years in the making its with a heavy heart we say goodbye to HMV. No really, im glad. For years HMV has tried, they said they where bringing vinyl back, there was even reports earlier this year that they would start stocking cassette tapes for people who wanted to purchase those ‘nostalgia’ albums. Now here is the problem, this is from a BBC report this morning.

‘Deloitte will keep HMV’s 239 stores in the UK and the Republic of Ireland open while it assesses the prospects for the business and seeks potential buyers.’ (BBC, 15.01.13). Report.

I feel like we are holding on to the high street version of dead wood. I don’t feel HMV cared any more, a friend who used to work their said that they don’t really care about music, they tell you to focus on shifting iPads and headphones. Isn’t that crazy! The UK’s biggest, oldest and most well known music store trains its staff to shift iPads rather music! This is the problem I have with wide spread music retail. Independent stores in this country sell the music and love the music. HMV failed at that first and I believe crucial hurdle. Take this as a case study if you will. When you buy anything from Banquet Records in Kingston even if its a CD, record, poster or gig ticket you get a personalised hand written thank you and recommendation on what else you might like to buy in the future. In HMV you can’t even hold a decent conversation about what to buy with some staff members, they don’t care about the latest Into it, Over it record, they want to meet targets and shift 1,000 units of the lastest machine driven Xfactor cover so Simon can enjoy living in LA (Ok so maybe I went off on one there, but i’ve been informed by friends who work there thats its about targets of charted music). This is just one indie, and you have hundreds in the UK with clearly defined USP’s that are going to profit form this.

There are still underline factors that lead to this news story, the fact that HMV struggled to compete with online services like Amazon and Play and they sold off their live division to repay debts. But then why are the independents doing so well? Because in my opinion they care. That caring is not a new business model or idea its simply people who love music, wouldn’t that be a better way to sell music?

So what will happen now? I think HMV’s debts will be sold to some over seas multi national bank that specialises in trading debt. No, seriously I feel that HMV will survive like a roach. They wil be bailed out right in time for christmas ’13. But for a short time the indies might see a rise in sales, they might even be happy to see HMV go. But for the gen pop with 2.5 children a dog and a house in the burbs, HMV going wont matter, they will just continue to buying music on iTunes and amazon. But on the flip side, this leaves a massive hole in the industry that will need to be filled. Will we see a venture by a record label? Will one of the independents move into the mass market? Maybe like a heritage artists Tower Records will come back for one last try. Only time will tell.

Albums The Came Out Last Year.

Its come to my attention that I failed to announce unto the world what my favourite albums of last year where, because we all as humans love lists. Shopping lists, to-do lists and even top 10 lists. So to satisfy your hunger and need for a good list here is my top 10 releases of last year (2012) with a special insight into the aptly crowned ‘Connor P Laws’s super favourite bestist album ever in the year 2012’.


My favourite album of 2012 was Floral Green by Title Fight. This being the Pennsylvanian band’s second full length released via Side One Dummy Records. Now to be honest with you I wasn’t too keen on their first release. I felt that I missed the boat on Shed.
The thing I love about this album though is that it conveys so many different influences and styles in eleven tracks, the song  Secret Society makes you want to jump around and drink beer with your friends while songs like Lefty and Head In The Ceiling Fan make you want to sit down and really listen. Its an album that flows very nicely. You only have to listen to it once to feel a heavy 90’s influence on this album, I feel like its 1999 when im listening to this album. I love how this album didn’t expect anything and there wasn’t a large PR/press/marketing plot around it, it was recorded, minimal marketing and then it was out to the people. Simple really.

The rest of the top ten are in no order but with a quick summary of the album and related them to a football team. I guess if you know your football you may understand it.

– Basement Colourmeinkindness. Final release from an amazing UK band, said exactly what I feel they wanted it to say but they are now gone. (QPR)

– Japandriods Celebration Rock. A rock album with all the charm of a sweaty venue, recorded on a show string and still amazing to listen to. (Everton)

– Now, Now Threads. Deep, dark, sometimes depressing but still really good, but still they are really good for their age. The only way to have american indie rock in my opinion. (Arsenal)

– Sigur Ros Valtari. This album is so emotional and powerful and the tension in some songs will kill you. (Liverpool)

– Bruce Springsteen Wreking Ball. I mean come on the guy is 63 and has released 17 albums, he wont go away and im glad he is a talisman for the music industry (Chelsea)

– Deftones Koi No Yokan. The album still didn’t feature Chi but it continues the amazing vex of Deftones. Song to song this is a banger. (Man United)

– Kendric Lamar Good Kid mAAd City. Solid hip hop album, the stories in this are detailed and from the heart, but still you are just showing off about dre. But even the songs without dre on are bloody good (Norwich)

– Architects Daybreaker. I remember listening to this album in a very cloudy room, no one spoke and just listened. Its brutal and beautiful at the same time, straight up metal album. (Swansea)

– Alabama Shakes, Boys and Girls. For the bands first album they didn’t half make themselves known world wide. Some of the vocals still give me chills and the dirty blues always gets love from me. I get the feeling they will be constant and around for a while yet. (Stoke)