Umphrey’s McGee

My favourite band at the moment, Umphrey’s McGee. These guys know how to play them guitars.

And what’s more they release every live show on mp3 (or FLAC, if you’re so inclined). They play a LOT of live shows. Different set lists every night, some awesome covers.

As a good introduction, I’d recommend picking up their Class of 2010 album, a fan-selected collection of their best live tracks of that year.

Or, if you like, subscribe to their podcast. Ninety minutes of fabulous free music every month. And a lot of podcast back episodes to catch up on!

Spotify, new music and Mumford & Sons

I spotted this on the Guardian website earlier:

New Mumford & Sons album Babel is fastest seller of 2012 in UK and US. Band also smash Spotify streaming record, confounding critics of the service

via The Guardian

It raises a couple of interesting thoughts.

Firstly, Spotify.

I know a fair few people and musicians who refuse to use Spotify, on the basis that it devalues music, and that they (in the case of the musicians and bands) get a pitiful amount of money per play on Spotify and how it’s eating into music sales etc etc.

For me, Spotify is a fabulous tool for finding new music. I’ll browse around, have a listen, and if I like it, I’ll buy it. Not necessarily through Spotify, and not from iTunes – a long-held dislike for their insistence that if I buy something on iTunes, I can’t listen to it on whatever device I like. Grrr.

I’ve bought a ton of music as a direct result of finding music on Spotify. Long may it continue.

The second point is sheer bafflement at the amount of Mumford & Sons vitriol in the comments. Now, I quite like their particular blend of guitar/banjo/folk-laden tunes. And the criticism that this album is too much like their last album just makes me think so what? I rather liked their last album. If they want to carry on making that sort of music, good luck to them.

And if you don’t like that sort of music, as the majority of commenters on that piece seem to, then the answer is simple.

Listen to something else.

Have a browse around Spotify. They’ve got loads.

Just remember: if you find something you like, buy it, ok?

house concerts: @solobasssteve

I had an interesting night last night. It all started with an email from my friend and ex-boss Jon, several months ago, telling me that I was going to a house concert on 6th May to see a guy called Steve Lawson, aka @solobasssteve on twitter.

“Righto,” says I. “What’s a house concert?”

Turns out the deal is this: The musician organises with someone to play a gig at their house. Guests rock up on a sort-of invite basis, make a donation towards costs, the owner of the house provides drinks & nibbles and the musician plays some music.

Sounds like a plan. I’m in. I’ve checked out Steve’s website, listened to some tunes. It’s all good stuff.

May 6th duly rolls around and 8pm finds Jon and myself at a lovely house down a tiny cobbled street in Burley. We’re greeted by the owner’s daughter who we suggest is on bouncer duty, which she finds very funny, especially as everyone else who turns up asks her exactly the same question. Jon and I plump for tea rather than booze on account of having to drive, find our seats and have a chat with various other guests – there were about 15-16 people altogether, most of whom appeared to know each other – friends, neighbours etc.

Steve Lawson was there, along with the lovely Lobelia (@lobelia) and the ultra-cute Baby Flapjack, who had been taking extra cute pills in preparation.

Lots of funky music, weird and wonderful looping (with added Flapjack vocals adding that certain je ne sais quoi to proceedings) and songs from Lobelia made for a very enjoyable couple of hours.

Our hosts were wonderful, the guests were interesting and the music superb.

If you ever get a chance to go to a house concert, especially one featuring Steve Lawson, I’d highly recommend it.