Piano Day: a celebration of the 88-key instrument by Nils Frahm

Old piano, Jun 26, 2011, by Jorn Idzerda (1000x563)There is an inescapable bliss to piano music. Be it a piano concerto from one of the classical masters or a modern composition, the instrument brings warmth and colour to expression.

Today, March 29, 2015, is the inaugural Piano Day. It’s not likely to be widely recognised yet, but if German composer and creator, Nils Frahm, has his way, that could soon change.

The pianist said he was looking for a significant day to release his new album, Solo. But rather than spring for a surprise release – which is becoming more and more common, especially in popular music – he decided to create his own holiday. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Hans Island – Let Me Be

Hans Island - Let Me Be (750x422)It’s got to be the air or their unique way of life, because I’ve not heard a Nordic singer in the last 12 months who’s been anything short of mesmerising: Björk, Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon, , First Aid Kit, Say Lou Lou, and not to mention the returning Neneh Cherry, to name just a few. Continue reading

Blur – The Magic Whip first impressions

Blur - Graham Coxon, Damon Albarn, Mode, London, Mar 20, 2015, by HelDavies, 01 (1280x720)On Friday, March 20, 2015, Blur played the entirety of The Magic Whip, the band’s first new album as a four-piece in over 10 years, for fans, competition winners and selected media at Mode, London.

A one-time video stream of the concert was broadcast tonight, so I thought I’d scribble down some impressions as I watched it. This is a summary of those impressions. Continue reading

Singer-songwriter: the label of authenticity that’s lost all meaning

Jake Bugg, Brussels, Apr 30, 2012, by Kmeron / Vincent Philbert, 01 (2048x2394)What goes through your head when you hear the term: singer-songwriter? Is your mind filled with images of ginger-haired Ed Sheeran, innocent Nina Nesbitt and boyish-looking George Ezra? Or perhaps passionate Laura Marling, the watchful Bob Dylan or a smiling Carole King?

All of these musicians are frequently described as singer-songwriters. But the degree to which they are responsible for the creation of their songs – in other words, songwriting – is where the real distinction lies. Continue reading

Chic ft Nile Rodgers @ Roundhouse, London

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Chic, Nile Rodgers, Roundhouse, London, Mar 21, 2015, 01, by Aaron Lee (3264x1836)The secret to any good concert is not to peak too soon. But, in the case of Nile Rodgers and his crew of Chic enlistees, at their second Roundhouse show in two days, the vibe just kept on going. Continue reading

Choice Cuts: Chic – Real People

Atlantic Records, 1980
Chic - Nile Rodgers at Sonar 2014, Jun 14, 2014, by scannerFM (1000x563)The first total solar eclipse in the UK since 1999 took place on Friday. A significant event, I’m sure you’ll agree. And this rare celestial event will now be even more significant in the history of music, for it marks the release of Chic’s ‘I’ll Be There’, the first single from Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards’s defining dance group for 23 years.

So what better time to (re)introduce you to, Real People, Chic’s fourth LP, an album of exceptional sonic grooves and lyrical quality that goes largely overlooked, thanks to changing music tastes at the tail end of the 1970s. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Chic – I’ll Be There (ft. Nile Rodgers)

Chic - I'll Be There, single artwork (1425x802)Coinciding with Friday’s solar eclipse and the spring equinox, Chic returned with their first new material in 23 years in the form of ‘I’ll Be There’. Nile Rodgers, one half of the songwriting genii behind the likes of ‘Le Freak’ and ‘Everybody Dance’, is the only member of the original group alive today. He’s in the UK now for a series of live shows to celebrate the release of the new single, which also precedes an upcoming long player of unreleased Chic material – something which Rodgers’ describes as the reason for the band’s unexpected return. Continue reading

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel review: laughs that delight regardless of age

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, press photo 02, by Fox Searchlight/PR/Laurie Sparham (1062x597)The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel isn’t a film targeted at the more-than-catered-for 20-something with plenty of free time on their hands. In fact, you’d be right to be suspicious if anybody under the age of 30 told you this film – the sequel to a 2012 sleeper hit about a group of kindly, mature ladies and gents, living out their twilight years in an Indian hotel – was on their must-see list.

So how did I end up seeing this film, when under different circumstances, I would have opted for It Follows, Selma or even Shaun the Sheep? Quite simply, my grandmother requested I accompany her to see a film at the cinema, and, naturally, she left the choosing of the film up to her web-literate grandson, who in turn looked to see what grandmother-appropriate films were showing.

That’s how I ended up choosing to see comedy-drama, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, yesterday evening. And, you know what? It’s not bad. As light and somewhat predictable as the story is, the characters and plotlines here are entertaining and will delight most of those old enough to feel their youth is fading or behind them. Continue reading