Music Blogging for dummies

I've been blogging for a while, I have been lucky enough to see my work published on various sites and I know how important it is to have clear and compelling content. I thought I'd put together some key tips for new bloggers to follow and hopefully lead to a happy and successful blogging career.

Don't plagerise - this might seem like an obvious one but remember, the Internet is a clever and unforgiving place. The music blog network is a close knit one, stab a blogger in the back and ye shall feel their wrath. Sure, by all means get inspiration for subject (artists and bands) but don't be that blogger that was 'too tired' to be creative.

On the note BE CREATIVE. Don't regurgitate a press release. Tell a story and keep your audience wanting more. In that same vein, don't write 50 words and expect to blow someone's mind.

Don't over-complicate - at the end of the day, you are trying to say "hey! listen to this amazing new band". You don't need to invent the words newest and most intricate vocabulary, it's likely to turn people off. It's about getting the balance of conversational, friendly and informative.

Try to use the piece to promote a record release or an up-coming tour. There's nothing more infuriating than reading about a band and not knowing when their debut single drops. Remember, only a small proportion of your audience will navigate from your page to find that artist. Spoon feeding is necessary. In other words, do the ground work.

As well as promoting the music, promote your blog. This is perhaps the most obvious one. Get yourself on Twitter and tweet a link to your newest piece mentioning the artist and/or record label. You never know where it may lead. You may hear nothing back, it may be retweeted by the artist, better still you might get followed by the artist and/or record label. You may then get hints and tip offs of new music, and then the cycle starts all over again.

Doe Paoro - Slow to Love

This piece was originally written for Eclectically Challenged

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, and if like me you chose to ignore the day and listen to My Bloody Valentine on repeat good on you! What you may want to consider instead is purchasing Doe Paoro‘s debut album Slow To Love, which is released on the same day. I like the record company’s thinking there.

You may presume that being released on Valentine’s Day means it’s a collection of love songs, well there is a romantic notion to them but with a bit of grit and truth bolstering up the track listing. Her fascinating vocal is inspired by her study of Lhamo. Lhamo is Tibetan Opera. It may sound like an odd or unusual concept but it makes her music totally mesmerizing. Her oddness can be seen in the video for standout track Born Whole, not odd in a Gaga way but odd in a Kate Bush way, slightly eccentric. Blindfolded she weaves her way through the wilderness following the guide of a rope. But what this slow paced, relatively static video does is focus your attention on the content of the song.

Her voice has several qualities comparable to that of PJ Harvey, the Tibetan vibe gives her height to vocal reach which comes across as slightly creepy. While her American accent could easily break into an M.I.A style ghetto tone but instead she reigns it in to intensify the ‘ghost soul’ genre she is devoted to.

Introducing Jodie Marie

This post was originally written for Eclectically Challenged

You’ll all be familiar with the expression ‘right time, right place’ well Jodie Marie is the proof in the pudding. If the pudding was a saying and the saying was the one I’ve just mentioned.

Anyway, on with the story. Jodie is from Narbeth in Pembrokeshire and being from such a small place all the locals knew of the sixteen year old with the gorgeous, caramel smooth voice. Most likely if she’d decided to up sticks and head onto the nation’s favourite singing contest (a la Janet Devlin) the whole of Narbeth would have rallied round, hosted bake sales at the local church. Luckily for Jodie she didn’t need to enter a competition. Instead the father of a record label owner, was in town staying in a local B&B. That record label turned out to be Transgressive, an Indie label with signings from bands such as Two Door Cinema Club and Foals.

When the B&B owner overheard that the chap was connected to the music industry she mentioned that she had a plumber in and the plumber’s daughter had a lovely voice. Well I guess you know the rest of the story and the yellow brick road that started to unfurl before Jodie Marie’s eyes and here we are with a growing discography.

I Got You is her latest release and although it may conjure up images of Sonny and Cher fear not, the only cover this lady saw fit to triumph was Bob Dylan’s Forever Young. I Got You is beautifully soulful and her vocal sounds like that of a mature 30 something rather than a twenty year old. There are elements of soul, jazz, pop and indie in her offering which emphasises the strong influences her generation have grown up on. It’s content is simple and it’s a modern day love song, similar to something Adele would have written in her early days. Easy to relate to and even easier to sing. Just totally blissful.

I Got You is available to download from iTunes now.

The Arcadian Kicks - You Play the Girl

This post was originally written for Eclectically Challenged

A Tribe Called Quest once asked “Can I kick it?” and the answer was a resounding yes. This next band is all about kicking it, from their name, to their ethereally energetic sound. But don’t get confused, they’re about as hip hop as a pair of clogs.

The Arcadian Kicks are a young band from the outskirts of Birmingham, who are co-managed by none other than Jon Brookes of The Charlatans – not a bad fan to have. The mixed five-some introduce an array of sounds, influences and hit on bands such as Fleetwood Mac, The Kills and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I know, a total mix – which shows that the kids that met and formed at school definitely did their homework. From Over & Over which is a softer more mellow track to their new single You Play The Girl which is fiery, fierce and down right ferocious. The Blondie-esque tune is no doubt a dance floor filler, with it’s guitar ladened, with a vixen vocal. It’s a total Indie love fest.

You Play The Girl is vivacious, demanding and slightly seedy. Which is available as a free download on the band’s Facebook. That’s the kind of behaviour that you would normally need to pay to see.


Saint Saviour - Suukei EP Review

This post was originally written for Eclectically Challenged

The hugely gifted and totally underestimated lady who has been described previously as having “incredible precision” in her vocal talents is set to release her new EP Suukei tomorrow (3rd October).

Saint Saviour is the wondrous silky smooth, soul warming, heart tickling vocal of Becky Jones. The lady behind SS was formally linked to (now laid to rest) electro outfit the RGBs and most recently held harmonies with Groove Armada (post ‘Shaking That Ass). Lending her pitch perfect presence to their grammy-nominated 2011 album Black Light.

Now out on her own, she’s created her second EP Suukei which boasts four glimmeringly gorgeous tracks, each so fantastically unique in their content. Crafted in a golden thread, so tightly spun further enforcing her ability to bring precision in spades. Her journey from Anatomy EP has clearly been a vast one of brilliance. She seems some what more refined. A bit like a fine wine.

Red Sun dazzles as the opener. With a heavily middle eastern inspired sound to it, it eases you in quite peacefully. Until we’re awoken by the bright beaming vocal. This track is worlds apart from previous works including Women Scorned.

Stand out track Here In Me is a twisty turny type song, mellow and delightful. With a masterpiece of a video to boot. Her wistful voice whispers right into the tiniest, darkest part of your soul, sending tingles up and down the spine. Just splendid.

Some Things Change is hauntingly ethereal, and thought provoking. On the first listen, I found myself contemplating and wondering into my hear and now, my past and future still yet to come. Now that’s a real skill to encompass so effortlessly into a piece of music.

Covers are a challenge, some fall at the first hurdle. When I hear the Live Lounge on Radio 1 I often cringe and squirm at the sound of those limping to the finish line. We all know how amazingly well Ellie Goulding covered Your Song and did wonders for John Lewis and their romantic ad campaign. And we all know Skinny Love for Birdy’s cover, although Bon Iver’s original is still stands as one of my all time favourites. SS has put her pitch perfect and creative spin on Kate Bush’s Army Dreamers. Due to my own ignorance I wasn’t aware of this track. Becky has provided a non-intrusive, masterful rendition of a song that could and possibly should be hers.

MS MR - Ash Tree Lane

This post was originally written for Eclectically Challenged.

I’ve found Florence Welch with an American twang. It’s true I’ve found a new Flo, residing in New York city. I would like to overwhelm you with information on MS MR but unfortunately little in known about this coupling. Possibly because they are still fairly young fry in this ocean we call the music industry. Or, the business-savvy side of me screams “PR stunt”.

Either way they’ve proven that a need for visual identity stems from the wealth of the greedy and it’s not altogether necessary when you have vocals as delightfully delicious as the Ms in this partnership. In the grandiose Ash Tree Lane we are struck almost instantly by female, yet not overly feminine vocal. Like a witches cauldron, there is something persistently bubbling under the surface. The drop comes with frantic piano keys built up with incredible intensity, this teamed with the elongated ooing gives us something almost cinematic.

Of course the video more than emphasises this. We are greeted with old cinema reels, Alice wondering into that mysterious land, an unknown which is indicative of the American Dream, highlighted through other film clips. A video with poignancy. An artist trying to do much more than talk about bringing swagger back. For this reason alone I’m in.

Ghost Eye - Phantom Mountain

This post was originally written for Eclectically Challenged

The ultimate key to an artist’s initial success, I feel is mystique. A guise which is perfectly planted so that intrigue is built and engulfs them like a veil when eventually it comes to a thirst quenching head. When second, third and (hopefully) more releases come do we then turn our backs because the anticipation is no more?

This next band are all about the mystery with Myspace profile pictures of characterless female body parts and videos with moody enigmatic types giving us all but a glimpse of possible band members. They are all either hideously unattractive or trying to say “open your ears and go shut you eyes”.

Ghost Eyes deliver the type of warm, middle eastern hip hop that requires a certain amount of eye closure, stimulating concentration but not enough to stop you from moving, typing, talking or what- have-you. In parts they have a Massive Attack element to their style with the dark cultural fusion of hip hop beats, haunting Asian chimes and a sitar guitar thrown in for good measure. Mix that all together with some kids chanting or possibly singing and you get debut single Phantom Mountain. With vocals similar to that of Andrew Wyatt of Miike Snow, there’s a total range of elements to this track which need a great deal of attention from the ears. In form Ghost Eyes frolic in a rare and precise detail which is often hard to emulate