Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Themed weeks we've had on DiS in 2009 - what shall we do in 2010?





Q: What do you think of the idea of themed weeks? Which bits do and don't you like? What weeks would like to see in 2010? Which bands should takeover the site? Respond below or via this thread on the DiS music forum...


DiS Stats 
From Google Analytics from January 1st 2009 - December 29th 2009

7,586,397 Visits
3,362,056 Absolute Unique Visitors
34,194,807 Pageviews
4.51 Average Pageviews
00:06:05 Time on Site (average)


Posted via web from seaninsound's posterous

Monday, 28 December 2009

Play me. Play this. Or my Spotify playlists compiled...

This year I have mostly been making playlists. Over on the DiS site we've done a weekly Spotifriday playlist. However, these 'ere playlists come in all shapes and sizes, with various themes and wotnot. I thought compiling them in one place might be useful for anyone looking for some musical guidance or simply for anyone wanting to save time making a playlist by slinging on one of mine.

If you haven't yet installed Spotify, it's free (if you don't mind a few ads) and available most places now (Americans I think can pay to use it but I might be wrong?!). 

- My Top 40 Songs of the Year
- My Top 10 Albums of the Year (plus Grizzly Bear which isn't available)
- Drowned in Sound's Top 50 Albums of 2009 (or if that's overwhelming, try the 2 tracks-from-each sampler)
- Drowned in Sound's Albums of 2009 - longlist
- Best compilations of 2009

The Noughties
- My 123 mixtape adventure
- DrownedinSound's 00s - a long list of recommended albums
- DrownedinSound's songs of the Noughties (to be completed for our 10th Anniversary in October 2010)

- A playlist of some of my favourite songs
- Drowned in Sound Recordings (my label)
- Best of/Introduction to... Elliott Smith
- Best of/Introduction to... Kraftwerk (part of Kraftwerk week)
- Best of Fierce Panda records
- Drowned in... the year 2000
- My 15 favourite albums
- My songs of the 90s
- DrownedinShoegaze (for DiS' special shoegaze week)  
- DrownedinAltCountry (for DiS' special alt country week)
- SeaninSummer
- Drownedin... covers (created from a thread on our boards)
- The Nepture Music Prize (DiS' alternative to the Mercury nominated albums)
- Fear & Birthday (a emo/rock-filled mixtape I made for a friend's birthday)
- Drowned in I Heart Studios (an electronic mixtape I made for a friend's studio)
- Drowned in... MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
- Reading Festival - Greatest Hits
- Glastonbury 2009 - 4 preview playlists
- This is Thamesbeat Or An Ode to Eel Pie Sunsets
- DiSssmaaasss!! - festive playlist
- DiS' Hallowe'en playlist

And a few playlists I really like created or compiled by friends of mine...
- John Peel's Festive 50s compiled
- Ollie Russian's Britpop Massive
- Emily Haines' mixtape for DiS readers (which ran as part of Metric week)
- Thrash Hits' Sonisphere 2009 slaylist
- Field Day 2009
- P2K: Pitchfork's songs of 00s
- NME's albums of the 00s
- Rough Trade's albums of 2009
- Whiskas (forward russia's) 2009 favourite albums and songs 
- Christian Ward's 50 songs of 00s

If for any reason you need an invite to use Spotify email me sean [atttt] drownedinsound [dottt] com, as I have 22 left. 

So, which of your playlists should I be listening to? Share links below... for more playlists check out Spotifriday every Friday over on DrownedinSound.com.


Posted via web from seaninsound's posterous

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

DiSmas mailout: The DiSmas playlist, ATP review, Phoenix, St Vincent, Paramore...

I N _ S O U N D

Festive Greets!

Hello! So, this is our last mail out before DiS joins the nation in
passing out on the sofa in a sugar-coated coma. We will be putting a
few bits up over 'the break' (normal service resumes Jan 11th) but for
now we just wanted to bring to your attention these five things...

1. Playlist: IT'S DiSSSSMAAASSS!!!
A very Drowned in Sound 88-track Xmas Spotify playlist to get you in
the mood for 'the big day', with plenty of Sufjan Stevens and Snoop
Dogg plus Jimmy Eat World's incredible cover of 'Last Christmas',
amongst various other seasonal cuts.

2. DiS' Top 50 Albums of 2009
Phoenix, St Vincent, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Manics and F' Buttons make up
the top five... see the full 50 and tell us your top 10 here...

3. 10 Years of ATP - The DiS Review
Sunday http://drwndnsnd.com/~6EFZ9J
Saturday http://drwndnsnd.com/~8V7j21
Friday http://drwndnsnd.com/~52Sc6m
+ In Photos: 10 Years of ATP @ Butlins, Minehead http://drwndnsnd.com/~8ztHRB

4. Bands we like, tell us their albums of the year...
DiS asked a heap of acts to tell us their 'favourite five' albums of
2009, here's the latest instalment with contributions from Paramore,
of Montreal, Foals, Sky Larkin and Metric

A year in news, staff mixtapes, videos of the year and lots and lots more...

And that's yer lot, have yourself a bearable break - and don't forget
Spiced Rum with Ginger Beer is not just for Christmas!

Merry Christmas from all at DiS xo


Listen // IT'S DISSSMASSSS!!!! - a very DiS Christmas playlist

Posted via email from seaninsound's posterous

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Some of my pics for 2010 on BBC 6 Music/iPlayer for Tom Robinson

A very special edition of Fresh On The Net in which Drowned In Sound's Sean Adams, and Artrocker.com blogger Stephen Mcleod joined Tom to pick out there one's to

Tom Robinson invited me to blather about the state of new music, pick some of my tips for 2010 and suggest some tracks from below the radar acts in this opening hour of his BBC Introducing show. Tracks I picked were by Free Energy, Frightened Rabbit, Gold Panda, The Agitator, Le Shark and I think of a coupla others made it on air too.

You can follow Tom Robinson on Twitter here http://twitter.com/Freshnet

Posted via web from seaninsound's posterous

Saturday, 19 December 2009

DiS names WOLFGANG AMADEUS PHOENIX the album of 2009 | press release


DrownedinSound.com has revealed its top 50 albums of the year and the list is topped by sophisto-pop Frenchmen Phoenix.

On hearing they topped the list, the band had this to say:

'merci drowned in sound for the gold medal! 
We are very proud to be on top of your list.
Merry Xmas to you all and happy 2010!

The top 20 is a follows:

1) Phoenix Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
St. Vincent Actor 
Yeah Yeah Yeahs It's Blitz! 
Manic Street Preachers Journal for Plague Lovers 
F**ck Buttons Tarot Sport 
Grizzly Bear Veckatimest 
Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavillion
Wild Beasts Two Dancers
Fever Ray Fever Ray
Paramore brand new eyes 
Bat for Lashes Two Suns
Arctic Monkeys Humbug
The Horrors Primary Colours 
PJ Harvey & John Parish A Woman a Man Walked By 
Dirty Projectors Bitte Orca   
Memory Tapes Seek Magic 
Metric Fantasies 
The Veils Sun Gangs
The Phantom Band Checkmate Savage 
Raekwon Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II 

For the full top 50 and to hear a Spotify playlist of all the albums click here:


Posted via email from seaninsound's posterous

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Goodbye Teletext and a fond farewell to Planet Sound

In a parting message, Manic Street Preachers' Nicky Wire paid tribute to Planet Sound by saying: "I love the feel of books and records, and I loved the feel of the remote control to give me information."

Sad times. Teletext is no more.

I used to flick on Planet Sound every day after school to find out if anything interesting had happened in music or whether my email fanzine (which I used to print out and send in) had been covered. Big up John Earls, who did a fantastic job running it for nearly a decade.

Posted via web from seaninsound's posterous

Monday, 14 December 2009

All my Sunday Times Culture columns from this year

12 articles:

Article(s) missing? If you notice an article is missing, click here

One more 'festive' column to come on Sunday but a few people have asked if I could compile these and just discovered that Journalisted does it for me.

Posted via web from seaninsound's posterous

Facebook | The campaign to get Sufjan Stevens Get Behind Me Santa into the Xmas charts

I've started this campaign. Hope you'll get involved.

Posted via web from seaninsound's posterous

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Wanted: Ruby on Rails Web Developer

Drowned in Sound, the UK's leading independent music website, is looking to employ a world class web developer.

Over the past decade we've built a vast resource of information and opinion but we could, and should, be doing a better job to share what we've got. We want to make it much easier to explore our site and by doing so, turn more people on to more great music.

Entering our 10th year, we have a new vision for what we wish to deliver to our 350k+ readers. We have enhancements we wish to complete and changes we'd like to make to our award-winning site and need a highly capable web developer to take things forward. The primary focus will be improving the experience and site functionality for our large community of irreverent music enthusiasts.

Key Responsibilities:
- Working with Drowned in Sound's founder and editorial team to improve the display of content and simplify CMS
- Liaising with our freelance designers on the implementation of a new and improved UI
- Debugging, improving data management and optimising pages
- Reliably delivering new features to a faultless standard.
- Developing new ideas
- Integrating DiS with various established and start-up partners
- Implementing special campaigns, such as site takeover

The idea candidate will be:
- A fan of 'alternative'/'indie' music
- Highly self-motivated, independent worker
- Able to meet deadlines and be focused on execution under pressure
- Resourceful
- A good communicator
- Logical, methodical and have an attention to detail
- A good manager of time and expectations
- Time flexible and willing to help with any urgent issues out of hours

Knowledge requirements:
- HTML / CSS / Javascript (Prototype/Scriptaculous)
- Ruby on Rails
- Nginx / Haproxy / Thin
- Linux

Additionally, experience using MusicBrainz would be preferable but isn't a necessity. Location isn't a major issue but an ability to take weekly meetings in London and to be easily contactable is preferred. Salary and length of contract is flexible and negotiable depending on experience. The ideal candidate would be available full-time for a minimum of 2 months from January 7th

To apply, please send your CV to to jobs@drownedinsound.com. Please include in the body of the email links to recent work and highlighting any relevant projects. If you have any current commitments please stipulate, the role can be flexible for the perfect person.

Please note, there are no other vacancies currently at Drowned in Sound.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

100+ Songs of the Noughties - A Mixtape Adventure

This is a playlist of my songs of the Noughties, as a prelude to DiS' end-of-decade coverage in 2010 (we're 10 years old, so it's 10 years of DiS, as well as the decade, etc) and just thought, seeing as every other magazine editor is throwing out their best of the decade stuff now, this might serve as an alternative reminder of some other stuff that came out and hopefully reveal a few things you might have missed/forgotten about. CLICK HERE to listen to the Spotify playlist. 

Please note: Some things weren't available on Spotify and you'll need to take 30s to install the free software from Spotify.com to hear it. It's a work-in-progress and I'll keep adding to it as time goes by and make some kinda ordered-by-how-much-I-likes-it list at a later date and will of course, offer some insight and commentary, in due course. 

Electrelane – Film Music
Arctic Monkeys – 505
Six by Seven – I O U Love
The Postal Service – Such Great Heights
At the Drive-In – One Armed Scissor
The Shins – Sleeping Lessons
The Stills – Still In Love Song
Franz Ferdinand – Darts of Pleasure
LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends
Friendly Fires – Paris
Blonde Redhead – The Dress
PJ Harvey – A Placed Called Home
M83 – Don't Save Us From The Fames
TV on the Radio – Staring At The Sun
The Cooper Temple Clause – Let's Kill Music
Metric – Monster Hospital
LCD Soundsystem – Losing My Edge
Peaches – Fuck The Pain Away
The Kills – No Wow
Justice – Waters Of Nazareth
The Rapture – House Of Jealous Lovers
Crystal Castles – Vanished
CSS – Alala
The Knife – Heartbeats
Phoenix – Too Young
Tarwater – Stone
Cut Copy – Out There On The Ice
Hot Hot Heat – Talk To Me, Dance With Me
Blood Red Shoes – You Bring Me Down
The Long Blondes – Giddy Stratospheres
Maxïmo Park – Apply Some Pressure - Original Demo Version
Les Savy Fav – The Sweet Descends
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Y Control
Liars – Mr Your On Fire Mr
Death From Above 1979 – Romantic Rights
These New Puritans – Swords Of Truth
No Age – Everybody's Down
Interpol – PDA
Idlewild – Listen To What You've Got
The Walkmen – The Rat
Gwen Stefani – What You Waiting For?
Lady Gaga – Poker Face
OutKast – Hey Ya! - Radio Mix/Club Mix
Missy Elliott – Get Ur Freak On - LP Version
Jay-Z – 99 Problems
Buck 65 – Le 65isme
The Streets – Let's Push Things Forward
Justin Timberlake – Cry Me A River
The Faint – Paranoiattack
The Rapture – Olio
The (International) Noise Conspiracy – Smash It Up!
Primal Scream – Swastika Eyes - Jagz Kooner Mix
Panic! At the Disco – I Write Sins Not Tragedies
Jimmy Eat World – Sweetness
Paramore – crushcrushcrush
Lostprophets – Shinobi Vs. Dragon Ninja
Minus The Bear – Pachuca Sunrise
I Was A Cub Scout – Pink Squares
Destiny's Child – Independent Women Part I
Gnarls Barkley – Crazy
Lykke Li – I'm Good, I'm Gone
Feist – I Feel It All
Girls Aloud – Je Ne Parle Pas Francais
Yann Tiersen – L'autre Valse D'Amélie
Youthmovies – The Naughtiest Girl Is A Monitor
Battles – Atlas
Foals – Balloons
The Icarus Line – Slayer
The Mars Volta – Drunkship Of Lanterns
Radiohead – Idioteque
Patrick Wolf – A Boy Like Me
Regina Spektor – Us
Kate Nash – Nicest Thing
Gemma Hayes – Tear In My Side
The Cribs – Be Safe
Bloc Party – The Pioneers
Pretty Girls Make Graves – This Is Our Emergency
Sonic Youth – Incinerate
Midlake – Roscoe
Muse – Butterflies and Hurricanes
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – We Call Upon The Author
Manic Street Preachers – Jackie Collins Existential Question Time
Deftones – Digital Bath - LP Version
Biffy Clyro – 57
Forward Russia – Twelve
Rival Schools – Used For Glue
The Blood Brothers – Set Fire to the Face on Fire
Marilyn Manson – Disposable Teens - Album Version (Edited)
Queens Of The Stone Age – Lightning Song
Death Cab for Cutie – I Will Possess Your Heart
The Maccabees – No Kind Words - Single Version
Sufjan Stevens – Come On Feel The Illinoise!
Björk – It's Not Up To You - Live - Vespertine World Tour
The National – Squalor Victoria
Beirut – Postcards From Italy
Jeniferever – From Across The Sea
Explosions In The Sky – Magic Hours
Sigur Rós – Staralfur
Four Tet – She Moves She
Gang Gang Dance – House Jam
Panda Bear – Bro's
Bright Eyes – Poison Oak
Broken Social Scene – Anthems For a Seventeen Year-Old Girl
Hauschka – Blue Bicycle
Elbow – Grace Under Pressure
The Veils – The Tide That Left And Never Came Back
Mystery Jets – You Can't Fool Me Dennis - New Single Version
Frightened Rabbit – I Feel Better
Modest Mouse – Float On
The Dandy Warhols – Get Off
Nine Inch Nails – The Hand That Feeds - DFA Remix
Ratatat – Wildcat
Beck – Lost Cause
Grizzly Bear – On a Neck, On a Spit
The Radio Dept. – 1995
Jamie T – If You Got The Money
Cat Power – Free
Les Incompétents – Escapades
Gonzales – Dot - Instrumental

CLICK HERE to listen to this Spotify playlist. 

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Best Tracks of 2009... Or rather, my favourites, your favourites and this year-end listopocalypse!

Somewhere, not far from this blog, lists are being made and totals are being totted up. They're being double-checked and ratified... 

It's coming to that moleskin Almanac time of year again. A time when everything has to be wrapped in a ribbon and buried in a capsule of time to ensure the world of music can take stock and move on. The overlooked all year, will remain overlooked (unless the publication in question focuses on the overlooked), with a few palatable concessions. Mixtapes and playlists are being woven together with such anal detail that you'd think a song following a song could cure ear Aids. Then, when the best albums and tracks have been sprinkled with corked wine, it's time to list the acts who will be bigger than bejeezus in 2010...Oh and this year's a rollover and you'll also be bombarded with end of decade lists too (sorry!).

Who will top the lists? Who will care? Oh, yeah, the people who rely on these lists to pick their festival bills and book acts for TV shows, they will care. As will those clueless types at brands, wanting to be on trend with their client's chequebooks. That's before noting how these lists also become a reference point for those who contribute to them. This is why lists are dangerous, because they oxygenate the flames of hype, whilst cementing what you probably already knew if you were paying attention and what you probably would find out about anyway, if you weren't. Yet, so much time is given over to these lists and so much fuss is made of their 'importance', yet they're utterly flawed!

Oh to be able to step back and see it as the ramshackle folly that it really is - a marketing exercise. A cynical manipulation of "this is who we are, this is what we stand for." Or, if you're not in the media a "this is who I am, this is how coolandjustlikeyou I am, aren't I?" list. Thankfully, this time of year we're so blinded by the Christmas lights and collectively ensnared by the capitalist buy-some-shit values of 'the holidays' that it's hard to snarl at the year-end window displays which'll be coming to a new Firefox tab near you, soon.

If all this sounds obvious so far, that's because it is. Oddly, the discontent is isolated and quiet because it's hard to dissent about what a music blog or magazine has to say, when the airwaves are riddled with seasonal novelty and pop music swimming in an inch deep mainstream. You can leave comments but in the grand scheme of things, you, me and mardy columnists, we all know these lists are predetermined nonsense.

I wish I could believe that a year will end without the muddled but prevailing 'popular things are popular' mentality. I wish, just for a moment, that a few influential publications would sidestep their PR relationships and the "well, we already said this..." and "we can't forget that after we did a cover feature with them," ass-coverings. I wish these charts mined the depths of people's passions, rather than were mindful of the audience gap which results in a liberal peppering of pandering to the predictable choices. Yawn.

Instead of people people telling you why one album is important, huddles of staff members pick lists and totals are totted up - no-one's personal favourite album of the year ever making the top 5 or getting the time to shine that they believe it deserves (else Panda Bear woulda topped the 2007 DiS list). And even the lists staff members submitted probably made concessions for weighted, political, democracy-blurring reasons. I know this because I've done this taken this tactical low-rad when submitting my lists. This is why, last year, despite previous year's democratically voted charts, the DiS year-end list wasn't totted up but approximated and influenced by patterns pulsating from people's year-end lists - kinda like an inversion of how American political parties pick a candidate and then leave it up to everyone else to pick a president, only with me dictating the winners. It wasn't perfect but looking back at the list now, it doesn't seem too silly. It reflects who our audience are and the readers we'd like to appeal to if they only first hear of us by our end of year list - which looking at our stats, is about 400% the average number of people that read an article, so these lists are fairly important in the grand scheme of our business. This year, I'll be running things similarly but also presenting every staff members end of year list and as of Monday, every user of the site can make their own list and rate every record, so we're have the best rated album of the year, as well as a staff list, come mid-December.

No-one ever really talks about why they don't like end of year lists (although Hipster Runoff did a damn fine job of ridiculing them), I guess because you're not really allowed to say you don't believe in the fundamentals of democracy, unless you want to appear as some tormented dictator-in-waiting. But then, when it comes to music, things shouldn't be measured by how agreeable they are. Words like palatable and "quite nice" are the enemy of music (music journalism, especially), yet year end lists seem to reflect little more than this. There's nothing worse than something that is so mediocre that the largest possible swathe of people can agree upon - when did MOR become middle of the superhighway? Middling, what a horrible word, who wants to find out what is average? [See also: the success of Coldplay. Although I'd love to believe in a meritocracy where things that are good, get big!]

Music is, has always been and should forever be about individuals. Not just renegades and pop puppets but people so exceptional they stand out and connect, and in doing so, find an army of people willing to defend (ideally, to the death) why what they've created means so much, to all of those it offends. Music is a divisive art-form and should be all about personal connections manifesting as a undeniable passion that can't be reduced to a broad brushtroke 'list'. Yet, it seems in a way, technology has made us retreat into our little trenches with glowing screens and tinny speakers which has left us craving a sense of collectivism whilst searching for self-definition. I've never really understood why some people like music purely for its unifying capabilities - it all feels like falling in line, become enslaved to our similarities and abilities to fit in. [Although I really love songs that are universal, so I'm a contrary bastard at the best of times but admitting as much weakens this 'argument'].

Music should be about opinions that don't attempt to scale and define the impossible "What is the best?" question. Because to answer it, requires the ability to define how this 'best' was quantified and most media doesn't have room or the attention spans for much more than "it just is" (this is why I don't particularly like the Brits and the Mercury Music Prize, especially in an age of such transparency, given the impact they wield. Maybe it's moreso their impact I don't like...).  And why does 'best' now just seem to be the success of marketing? And by marketing I don't mean billboards and Editor's Google street map, but the 'positioning' of acts so that their relative merits become a forgone conclusion, especially with tip lists. It's all about the lineage at the foundations and the undersell of expectations. The investment in playing every relevant international festival but playing all of them smaller, earlier, to ensure bigger crowds. The artist associations via street tours or family ties or syncing; the hook, the strap-on party-line, the teeth-sinker. I dunno why people argue that it's about the music or how good you are live, when last year's big tip La Roux didn't play her first gig 'til the February and her people had only let people doing the tipping hear the first two singles?! At least with the year-end lists people have the benefit of hearing the albums, in the context of other albums but obviously not every has the ability to hear every album before making an informed judgment, blah, blah, blah....

Surely the results of these lists are the antithesis of why people get or got involved in music in the first place? Maybe to be able to infect them is why some people get involved in the first place and invest their lives in the music they believe in (pretty much why I released the Kaisers first single). Perhaps, in an age of public charts like Last.fm and Hypem.com, which can measure things in more quantifiable ways, the end of year lists and January tip lists have lost their importance anyway. Maybe it's only media and the hardcore audiences sites/mags already have who care and will never be please, any of the time. Yet, the influence these things wield, ends up infecting the populace in the long-term, so it pays to be influential (lolz), even if it's only upon the minds of an intelligentsia. 

It seems the only thing we can all agree upon (or at least that I can agree with myself) is that, on aggregate, whatever list it is, it doesn't represent anything that's truly 'the best'. Perhaps these lists are little more than symptomatic evidence of what's wrong with the entire system and yet, rather ironically, they're also reflective of what's truly happening in media. Personally, I think it's interesting the difference a few passionate voices can make in a sea of indifference. It'll warm my cockles that amongst every list, there are many a few surprises and a few records which I hadn't taken the time to check out, so they're not without use.

Ultimately, there's only one real winner and that's the perpetual loop of success, fueled as much by marketing as the nice, agreeable, universally sound, 'quite good' qualities of the music.

Anyway, without further ado...

My Albums of the Year (listen on Spotify)
1. Paramore brand new eyes
2. Phoenix Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
3. Metric Fantasies
4. St Vincent Actor
5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs It's Blitz!
6. Manic St Preachers Journal for Plague Lovers
7. Grizzly Bear Vecktamist
8. Idlewild Post-Electric Blues
9. The Veils Sun Gangs
10. Arctic Monkeys Humbug

My Songs of the Year

Or as a Spotify playlist.

My Tips for 2010
This is what I sent to BBC Sound of 2010 this week... although I also wrote this for Sunday Times Culture about these kinda tip lists.
1. Free Energy - tracks on Hype Machine
2. James Mercer (The Shins) & Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) http://www.brokenbells.com/
3. Joy Orbison - tracks on Hype Machine

(explanations to follow at a later date on DiS)

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Live is not THAT alive?! A few gut reactions and general observations ...RE: The graph the record industry doesn’t want you to see.

RE: Do music artists fare better in a world with illegal file-sharing?

I think this is a great graph but a very flawed piece of evidence. A few gut reactions and general observations... 

1. Festivals Are Bad... I'm pretty sure the rise of festivals means a hugely disproportionate rise of "revenue" (this is not profit) to the industry. The problem with this is that rather than significantly more funds going to more artists - because by my reckoning approx 30% of acts on festival bills get about £50 to play (at the smaller 'urban' festivals, this is more like 70-80%) - there's simply more money going to a few headliners, who ironically are often cannibalizing their own headline arena show earnings for that year, in the hope more people will want to relive the experience next time they tour.

If anything, I think festivals are having a negative impact on the average gig attendance across the year too. Dunno about you but I'd rather see 10 gigs of bands I like for £100 than see four or five 30min un-soundchecked sets and a headliner at a festival for £150+. Yet, who within the festival industries core demographic (those under the age of 23) has that kinda money after saving or splashing out on festival tickets? And for that matter, how many bands who are about this kind age have this kinda of money to invest in themselves? I do not wanna live in a world of trust fund kids and cynical, market-savvy bands like Vampire Weekend and The Drums. I double-dare any band to reveal how much they've spent on their 'hobby' with hopes of it being a career, and if they can share how £50 covers four guys food for a day, let alone a youth hostel and petrol or godforbid van hire, then I'll eat my iMac.

2. What about the Kate Bush-like artists who don't play live? Or genres which are so niche they only make sense to put on shows in a few major cities? It seems you need to be a global niche band like No Age or Yacht and gig 300 nights of the year, just to make ends meet - how many niche bands "go global"?

3. What about the £500-700 per day it costs to have a semi-professional band on the road until they get to Scala/Shepherd's Bush Empire level in London or 400ish+ people in other cities, when they might break-even. Who's factoring for that £10-20k+ investment of 'tour support', not to mention the unquantifiable 'investment' for rehearsal rooms and bands having to live for 2-3 years until they can fill 1000 capacity venues at £12-15 ticket prices in about 10 major cities? Certainly not labels like mine, not any more. And not a lot of the majors, from what I'm hearing - least of all when it comes to investing in being a support band on a European tour, where the band are being paid £50-100 per night to 'cut their teeth' playing to a disinterested room, with poor sound and little-to-no lights. This essentially means that the live industry has no-one (apart from maybe a few large management companies) investing in its future, yet no-one seems particularly scared by the fact that the live acts who do get catapulted onto the mainstream, haven't come through any tributaries and by and large are rubbish live and therefore a reason for the average punter to question seeing the act again or taking repeated risks on new music.

If the live music industries product is bad but its revenues are meant to be a salvation to the rest of the business, why isn't there big news story after big news story about a boom in the live music industry? Does this short-term blip have a future? Why is no-one publicly worrying about this? Why, as someone who doesn't work in the live industry does this SCARE THE SHIT OUTTA ME?

4. Is live music, below a certain level, really very healthy? Where's the cut off point when you're alright and can stop using up your holiday days at a job you hate to hit the road? I wonder, if they're really honest, what percent of bands in DiS' albums of the year list work full-time jobs but also I wonder how many bands think they can't 'work' and be in a band if they're 'taking it seriously'?

Put it another way, never before have I had more emails, a few days before gigs, from worried promoters that gigs are not gonna sell half the venue, let alone sell it out and can we run a competition to give away tickets. The size of some of these acts is worryingly bigger than you'd think. I'm getting about 3-5 emails like this per day direct from promoters, every day - plus another 5 emails like it from PR companies. To put that into context, it's often the only time I get personal emails from PR companies (of which there about 300+, with about 3 staff at each, working 10+ records each per quarter = inbox hell!), most of whom think 'PR' is spamming as many people as possible with press releases about bands even the savviest music fan are only vaguely aware of.  These are PR companies paid by record labels to promote records for anything between £500-2000 per month, who have record companies worried the gig is going to be so empty that it'll reflect badly on them and in reviews upon the artist. These people don't send me flustered emails like this about the 'records'. When the record labels are worried that a revenue stream - one which most of them have no involvement in - is suffering, surely this is symptomatic of something being incredibly wrong in the live industry?

5. The above graph is a good but possibly as misleading as including sales of iPods in the recorded music revenue pot because all signs I've seen recently is that live music is in freefall (the article itself does state its flaws, to be fair). For every Bon Jovi, Beyonce and Muse tour, there isn't a day goes by when there's isn't talk of venues closing or being bought up by conglomerations.

Caveat: These are just reactions, would be curious what people who work in the live industry or bands have to say about some of my broad brushstroke statements as this isn't really my field of expertise and would love to read further research or hear evidence of how right or wrong I am on any of the above topics.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The trouble with super-fans/social media and music...

"In a world in which musicians are encouraged, if not forced, to cater exclusively to their most passionate followers, likewise a world in which music fans listen exclusively to music most passionately loved, we lose this important but overlooked capacity to connect. The world shrinks. Something about being human is lost."

"I suspect many musicians will be unhappy when they find that time and energy that once could be devoted to writing and performing must now be deflected into other endeavours and activities that may have little to do with music."

The above is the concise crux of this illuminating blog post, which has managed to articulate a lot of what I've been thinking lately.

The piece touches on a lot of hot air to do with this idea of "1000 true fans" (essentially, 1000 people all paying £50-100 a year on one band = sustainable career), flaws in the economics of small fanbases, how digitalisation is really cannibalizing the music biz, the dangers surrounding the evangelism of the Imogen Heap school of marketing/investing your life in social media for minimal return-on-time-invested. Plus it explores the issues to do with making music intended for a small audience (see also: my dislike of nofi) and mentions the ballsack-lickingly shoddy music that comes from artists being led massively by the expectations a cluster of (sycophantic/psychotic) fans.

But mostly, it's about how all this talk of a new dawn of "fan engagement" has ignored or simply forgotten that the most important fans of a band and of music in general, aren't the diehards but the casual 5CDs-and-a-festival-ticket-a-year consumers. In losing focus of the bigger picture, we're in danger of disengaging the masses and in doing so, we're likely to be pulling the plug on funds which feed the machine and the oxygen the ecosystem of music needs to survive.

He also says one thing I keep repeating, regarding a sense of patronage rather than consuming:
"I am much happier when I feel as if I'm pushing money to my favorite artists rather than having it pulled out of me."
Well worth a read. http://fingertipsmusic.blogspot.com/

Thursday, 15 October 2009

To all PRs, Labels, Bands, etc... who POST us CDs and things...

In case you did not get this email and still have incorrect information for us!

URGENT: Please remove "1 Junction Mews" and "1 Chilworth Mews" from your database.


Apologies for the mass email and that this is fifth time I've contacted some of you but I really-really need you to update your contact database for DrownedinSound, theQuietus, theLipster and Thrash Hits and remove the (above) address you're currently using.

About 7months ago we moved out of our office and have been unable to set-up mail forwarding. Our former landlord is threatening legal action as the attached full sack of post is how much I'm receiving and throwing away every fortnight - most of which is either irrelevant to what we cover or we're getting via other means.

Many of you are still sending mail to theLipster which closed earlier this year. Some of you are sending packages 5+ times to members of DrownedinSound staff who were made redundant a year+ ago. All of this is a huge waste of your funds and terrible for the enviroment (personally I prefer to receive ALL MUSIC DIGITALLY).

If you wish to send promo material to ThrashHits.com contact raz AT thrashhits.com, if you wish to send things to TheQuietus.com contact luke AT thequietus.com

If you wish to send ALBUMS for review on DrownedinSound.com please contact our part-time albums editor andrzej AT drownedinsound.com

If you wish to send SINGLES for DrownedinSound.com's weekly singles column, please contact music AT wendyroby.com (she prefers mp3s)

In your database is antiquated, please ensure all of the following names of former DiS members of full-time staff are removed from your database:

Drowned in Sound
- Mike Diver
- Colin Roberts
- Alex Denney
- Gareth Dobson
- Kev Kharas
- Sam Strang
- Jude Rogers
- Rebecca Nicholson

Many thanks

Sean AT drownedinsound.com

Monday, 5 October 2009

...of the decade #1 - The Shins 'Phantom Limb'

Part one of my shuffled series of my favourite things of the Noughties.

Nominee for Best Lyrics

Foals in winter coats
White girls of the north
File past one five and one
They are the fabled lambs of Sunday ham
The EHS norm

And they could float above the grass
In circles if they tried
A latent power I know they hide
To keep some hope alive
That a girl like I could ever try
Could ever try

So we just skirt the hallway sides
A phantom and a fly
Follow the lines and wonder why
There's no connection

A week of rolling eyes
And cheap shots from the trite
And we're off to Nemarca's porch again
Another afternoon of the goat-head tunes
And pilfered booze

We wander through her mama's house
The milk from a window lights
Family portrait circa '95
This is that foreign land with the sprayed-on tans
And it all feels fine
Be it silk or slime

So when they tap our Monday heads
To zombie-walk in our stead
This town seems hardly worth the time
And we'll no longer memorize or rhyme
Too far along in our climb
Stepping over what now towers to the sky
With no connection

So when they tap our Sunday heads
To zombie-walk in our stead
This town seems hardly worth our time
And we'll no longer memorize or rhyme
Too far along in our crime
Stepping over what now towers to the sky
With no connection

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Top 10 Albums of 2009?!

Seems a bit early but I've already been asked for my top 10 albums of the year. Here's the 10 I just gave, in no particular order:

Top 10
Metric - Fantasies
St Vincent - Actor
Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus
Idlewild - Post-Electric Blues
Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!
Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse, David Lynch, etc - Dark Night of the Soul Paramore - brand new eyes
Manic Street Preachers - Journal for Plague Lovers
The Veils - Sun Gangs

Still need to investigate a heap of records (loads of suggestions on here I've not heard yet) and still plenty more stuff to be released over the next 6 weeks (pretty much from mid-November albums don't get released cus of christmas nonsense/priorities).

Saturday, 26 September 2009

The Year 2000 as a Spotify playlist

Did this for DiS yesterday here: http://drownedinsound.com/in_depth/4137961-year-2000-a-playlist-of-songs-wot-soundtracked-the-launch-of-dis

Nine years ago this week, my life was a complete and utter mess. After a couple of years running a music fanzine via email, I'd finally stumbled across a tech-whiz and a wonderful world of people who loved music as much as I did, who all really liked the idea of teaming up to share their love and knowledge of music. Frantic instant messenger conversations and excited emails were being flung around following a get together at Reading 2000 with some of the founding contributors to DiS, ensuring that as many of our ideas as possible would be part of the new site.

The name had been decided upon and as anyone whose ever started a band knows, coming up with a name pre-empts everything else. I came up with it because I liked the repetition of the ow-nd noises, the acronym, the imagery of being lost in and buried by crowd surfers and sound waves. And it was a helluva lot better than SoundSurfer, MouseEars, TheIndiependent and other first attempts to come up with a title. A dodgy logo of a mouse in headphones surfing was put together and a theme involving bubbles was agreed upon.

It was an exciting time and one which led, in part, to the site you see before you. We had no real clue what we were doing and had very few reference points (Livejournal and Diarylandwere the closest things to blogs and there weren't really any communities or music websites to speak of) but between us we had enough enthusiasm to make something happen for the music we were passionate about.

And, of course, 2000 was a great year for music. In fact, I'd go as far as saying 2000 is one of the most important years for music and one which never really gets the credit it deserves. The mainstream was terrible (Atomic Kitten, Darude and Billie Piper?!). Grunge was dead, Brit Pop was well and truly over over and dance music had gone into some grotesque spiral. SoCal punk had run its course with Blink-182, GreenDay and Offspring all reaching their pinnacle but whilst they reached their biggest audiences, they delivered some of the worst albums of their careers. Nu Metal acts like Limp Bizkit, Slipknot and Incubus were riding high, and Mtv2 was at its peak. All of which might, understandably, make you want to wretch 'n' hurl but - and this is a big but - for anyone delving a little deeper (by reading mags or exploring P2P sites), the search was truly rewarded.

It's hard to know precisely why so much great inventive pop and experimental music landed upon our shores in the year 2000. Perhaps it was the post-Napster success of mainstream alternative combined with the back catalogue sales which afforded various A&R men and independent labels to take bigger risks. Maybe it was the pre-Y2K optimism, with hope for the future, within which a lot of the year's finest were written and recorded. Personally, I like to think that it was a combination of all of this, as well as every great record that broke through forcing peers to work that bit harder to better what they were doing. Bands were making good on their promise, consolidating the goodwill and breaking through, and the impact of it on a coming of age generation - of both fans and musicians - was incredibly inspirational.

This 30-song playlist might not be what everyone involved in DiS at the time was listening to but all of these songs meant a lot to me at the time and most of them mean even more to me now. Admittedly, a lot of what I wanted to put on this playlist wasn't available on Spotify (notably Bright Eyes' Fevers & Mirrors), so apologies if it seems a bit obvious, especially given hindsight. But anyway, without further ado, I'd like you all to raise a glass and say 'Year 2000, thank you for the music.' Cheers.

Spotifriday: Drowned in 2000 (listen)

Mansun 'I Can Only Disappoint U'
Sigur Rós 'Svefn-g-englar'
Nine Inch Nails 'Slipping Away'
OutKast 'B.O.B.'
Radiohead 'Idioteque (BBC Radio One Evening Session - 15/11/00)'
Phoenix 'Too Young'
Primal Scream 'Swastika Eyes (edit)'
Daft Punk 'One More Time (radio edit)'
The (International) Noise Conspiracy 'The Subversive Sound'
At the Drive-In 'Pattern Against User'
Queens Of The Stone Age 'The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret'
The Smashing Pumpkins 'The Everlasting Gaze'
Idlewild 'Listen to What You've Got'
Grandaddy 'The Crystal Lake'
PJ Harvey 'This Mess We're In'
Explosions In The Sky 'Magic Hours'
Deftones 'Teenager'
Elliott Smith 'Can't Make a Sound'
Cat Power '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction'
Six by Seven 'My Life Is an Accident'
Doves 'The Cedar Room'
Ed Harcourt 'Apple of My Eve'
Coldplay 'We Never Change'
The Dandy Warhols 'Sleep'
Erykah Badu 'Green Eyes'
Destiny's Child 'Say My Name'
Blackalicious 'A to G'
Wu-Tang Clan 'Gravel Pit'
Dr. Dre 'Still D.R.E. - Explicit Version'
Dead Prez 'Hip Hop (feat. Dead Prez)'

Listen: Drowned in 2000

my blog as a word cloud

Wordle: seaninsound

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Muse, Reading & Leeds, Radiohead, Spotify and loads more on DiS at the moment

A quick update from DiS about what's on our site at the moment but firstly, if you haven't already, become a fan of DiS on facebook and follow DiS on Twitter or for a full feed of the site on Twitter click this link

MUSE reveal "floating cube" stage show details http://drwndnsnd.com/~40yso

Ninety songs of The Noughties - DiS Editor's Picks (P2K Alternative) http://drwndnsnd.com/~148kCt + loads more Spotify playlists here

Off to Reading or Leeds Festival this weekend? Find all our preview coverage here

CLUES (featuring members of Arcade Fire and ex-Unicorns guys) get ready to tour, release free and exclusive mp3 http://drwndnsnd.com/~IQrRy

RADIOHEAD - Kid A, Amnesiac, Hail to the Thief new editions assessed http://drwndnsnd.com/~13AkAn

V Festival In Photos: KATY PERRY & LILY ALLEN also In Photos

IDLEWILD set official release date for Post-Electric Blues, include two bonus tracks http://drwndnsnd.com/~L7e4p

Arctic Monkeys - Humbug
Mew - No More Stories...
Mos Def - The Ecstatic
The XX - XX
The Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away


Thursday, 20 August 2009

The new Idlewild biog wot I writ



When the coke-shrivelled testicles of Brit-pop were still in full-swing, Idlewild were dropping out of art school and ingesting Fugazi, Superchunk "...and all those small bands on American indie-rock labels." A few gigs, a few seven inch singles and then in 1998 they released their 'Captain' mini album via Steve Lamacq's Deceptive label (at the time home to Elastica) before signing to Food Records (then home to Blur). Then, when every new British band from Coldplay to Badly Drawn Boy trotted around with an acoustic guitar, they delivered their debut full-length of erratic punk rock, 'Hope Is Important'.

Yet, just when it seemed like their time to crossover, the yanks with their bloated Nu Metal and skinny-jeaned New York cool hijacked the agenda and Idlewild were lost at sea making melodic rock with Scottish accents. Then, when rock-with-regional accents (Arctic Monkeys, Lily, Nash, et al.) was all the rage, their front-man moved to New York and took time out to make traditional folk albums ('My Secret Is My Silence', 'Ballad of the Books' and 'Before the Ruin') - which maybe is but probably isn't quite as Great Jones Street as it sounds.

In the fourteen years since their inception, Idlewild may never have been the fashionable flash in the pan people wanted them to be but then, who wants to 'fit in' anyway? Unlike most modern bands they've been able to develop into the tamed beast that purrs like James Dean's Harley. They have toured and toured, found fans, picked up gold and silver sales discs, scored top 10 singles, released a Best Of and a B-Sides collection, not to mention finding themselves atop various year-end lists either of side of Atlantic, across Europe, in Japan and pretty much everywhere else in the known universe (approx). Meanwhile, front man, Roddy Woomble, moved from New York back to Glasgow then to the Scottish inner hebrides where he sits beside a coal scuttle writing newspaper columns, as well as a regular column for a hill-walking & backpacking magazine. It might not sound like a perfect storm but put it altogether and you have a great British rock band, in a very interesting place at a very perculiar time.

Now, whilst digital divas and earnest bearded American men in plaid shirts are running amok, Idlewild are releasing 'Post-Electric Blues' an indie-rock album of Boss-like bombast, flecked with 70s synths and dashes of brass. It's an album that leaps from Fleetwood Mac epic folk/rock/pop peaks into joyous Loch-side sing-a-longs. It's the sound of a deft and defiant band (completed by Rod Jones on guitar, backing vocals, keyboards; Colin Newton on drums, percussion; Allan Stewart on guitar and Gareth Russell on bass), exploring soundscapes whilst finding hooks and generally, genuinely and quite clearly, having a fookin good time.

"Album opener 'Younger than America' was the first track we wrote for the album," says Roddy. "The idea for the lyrics came from a spate watching Westerns - Simple stories of justice and courage set at the 'frontier'. It sounds the way it does because we're all big fans of Neil Young & Crazy horse. After we'd written the song I though the record might turn into a American sounding piece of classic rock, but It didn't turn out that way really, especially after writing 'Readers and Writers'. The record went in
whatever direction it chose to".

"I wanted to have a more off the cuff feel to the record, with the words especially," declares Roddy and there's a definite sense of anything goes which produces a volatile warmth to the record. It's a balmy heat that comes from a meeting of punk rock at a crossroads with folk. Don't get me wrong, this isn't some kinda mashed-up black-eyed beans and bratwurst genre-dump, it's just a rock record with a heart of strings, xylophones, hand-claps, trumpets, hammond organs and big nihilistic grins.

Rock, be it punk rock, folk-rock, stadium rock or indie-rock, certainly had an influence: "Rod is obsessed with... I mean, he really loves Bruce Springsteen! We all love bands like Wilco, Pavement and Pearl Jam - we loved touring with them (PJ), they're a great rock band. Some people think people think Pearl Jam are the uncoolest band in world, some people absolutely live by them, and they just do what they do, lots of bands say they do that but they're affected by things." Remind you of anyone? (A: See above)

Lyrically, the punk-rock sloganeering of their earlier work has become a mixture of poignant observational small-world imagery and universal ponder-neering. This isn't all textural wilderness-gazing or woe is me Morrissey-like rambling. There are a few wry lyrics because "sometimes you need some daft lines in there," explains Roddy, "I don't that think it's possible to have a rock song where every line is perfect, I don't think that's the point of rock music."

He continues: "The album title is not entirely serious and befits the whole record which has a playfulness to it. I suppose I'm trying to imagine a new genre for this post-modern world". So it's not a reference to Dylan plugging in a electric guitar at Newport Folk Festival then? "No, I didn't think about that, although everyone says I listen to too much Dylan and old Jazz. I guess it has a sort of Dylan quality to it but it's moreso because Post-Digital Blues didn't feel right."

Shortly after the release of 2007's 'Make Another World', the Sanctuary Group went into administration and Idlewild became an unsigned band. Instead of chasing a deal, the band took a leap of faith and asked their fans to pre-order the album. "We got the budget for the record down to a bare minimum" explains Roddy. "We knew we could make a record if only a thousand people pre-ordered it, but we had no idea how it'd go. Our last record 'Make Another World' sold about 40,000 copies, even though the record label effectively [Sanctuary] closed down just after it was released." The result of the experiment was a triumph, with over 3000 of their web-savvy tribe embracing the 2.0 record funding model.

Whilst they waited for the record to be written and recorded, members of their fanclub-like online community saw and heard work-in-progress snippets of 'Post-Electric Blues': "The fans of the band were part of this album and were entitled to see the songs being written and to feel a part of them," beams Roddy. "They paid for them to be recorded after all. In today's musical world when everything has to be available and instant and people get bored quickly (far too quickly in my opinion) this album was our attempt to get with the times. I suppose the album title reflects this. We all really like and appreciate the fact the fans paid for us to make this album and that all their names are inside of it."

Written in Scotland and recorded in Wales (and Scotland). Clearly, this was an album made to play live, as Roddy explains: "Most bands now make their living through concerts, and we're no exception, so records have to be tailored that way. With 'The Remote Part and 'Warnings...' we were writing songs that would sound good on the radio (and live, but the radio was more important - so we were told). There are a million new bands on the radio waves, or digital waves, now so it's more important to us how we will sound good through a PA system in a club and that we can play and sing it all!" Although, he concedes: "That said, it'd be lovely to have a hit."

Bringing things full circle, Roddy concludes: "I guess we've never really fitted into anything. When we got our punk rock guitars out everyone was talking about acoustic guitars and vice-versa. The nearly men, the underdogs, never as big as they should have been, these things come up all the time but..." he takes a pause to sip some tea "... I don't really know what the rush is. I really love bands with long careers. I feel like we've only just started and I'm hoping we've got another 20 good years left in us

Sean Adams

August 2009

For more information, please contact JOOLZ at COOKING VINYL:

Related Posts with Thumbnails