A Pause For Writing

I’d like to take a moment out of writing about music, and instead write about writing. More specifically grammar.

Now, I know my humble blog is full of grammatical errors. I try my best to make sure my posts are all present and correct, but it’s just not that easy to tell where you’ve gone wrong. It’s like a bad smell. I can tell it’s there, but I just can’t pin point the source.

Despite my own failings, I do dislike bad grammar. Especially grammar that’s bad on purpose (I’m looking at you Hip-Hop), but despite that there is never any excuse for being the Grammar Gestapo.

I’m sure we’ve all come across these people. They are the sort that think that use of the wrong word, or a misplaced apostrophe gives them the right to hound the author and insult him.

There is just no getting away from the Grammar Gestapo. They have infiltrated your workplace, your family, and even the Internet.

I was on Twitter for a while, and could not believe the amount of people who would get rather rude and abusive on the misuse of your and you’re. Come on, there is only 140 characters to play with!

Let’s make a stand against these people. English is a confusing language, and there is a big difference between being unfamiliar with the rules of communication and being intelligent.

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So Long Astoria

I read an article in the paper the other day about the fate of the site that once housed London’s Astoria music venue. Read the article for yourself here (yeah I read the Financial Times. I’m still punk though).

The Charing Cross Astoria theatre in London’s West-End housed the Astoria and Mean Fiddler music venues, which formed a large part of my youth. The building was demolished in 2009 for the building of Crossrail, the new underground railway.

Here’s a picture!
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Because if this, the article brought back many happy memories, and of course, tugged at the heartstrings.

Growing up in one of the capital’s many suburbs, the Astoria was just 35 minutes on the tube from my parents house. This meant that I was lucky enough to see many great bands there.

This led to a well practiced gig routine that my friends and I developed: School, tube, change out of uniform on the tube, McDonalds in the queue, go in, mosh, go home sweaty.

One such time I was when I saw Hot Hot Heat with a few friends. Whilst the headliners were cool, we were all blown away by the support, a completely unknown band called Franz Ferdinand. We met the leader singer outside the venue afterwards, who signed my tube travel card. A month later the band had exploded into the mainstream.

Another time I saw the All American Rejects, who, let’s be honest, are not a great band. I went purely in pursuit of trying to win my ex girlfriend back. I’ll point out now that I was 15 years old at the time.

Needless to say, my romantic endeavours were not successful. My frustrations boiled to the surface when the lead singer staged dived into the crowd directly in front of me. I then did what all other romantically challenged teenage boys would do. I wrestled the singer for his microphone. I’m still proud of the fact that I made him miss several lines during their hit song “Swing Swing”.

Of course there can only be one song fitting for such a trip down memory lane. That is of course, So Long Astoria by The Ataris. I saw the Ataris at the Astoria Theatre, and actually got with girl who I was pursuing at the All American Rejects gig. We dated for a few months until she broke my heart, as you do when your fifteen. I still can’t listen to this song because it reminds of that time. Happy days!

 

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Introducing – Ryan’s Hope

One of my favourite album’s right now is Apocalypse In Increments by Ryan’s Hope.

If you haven’t heard of them, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. These guys, old hands of the Chicago scene, were once signed to Punk News Records (the short lived record label by the veteran website) through which they released Apocalypse.

That was back in 2006. Since then they broke up, formed The Reganomics (boo!), and, more recently, got Ryan’s Hope back together (yay!).

They have a few other albums, but given that they aren’t well known outside of the Joliet/Chicago area, these can be a little tricky to get hold of.

This is a great shame, they deserve to be a full-time touring band, up there with Billy Talent, Cancer Bats, or other bands that blur the line between Metal, and Pop-Punk.

Let’s hope that now they are playing as Ryan’s Hope once again they will achieve the success they deserve.

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Spotify or YouTube? FIGHT!

I often include links to songs on YouTube in posts, but I’m well aware that sometimes this doesn’t always work, especially if you reading this on what google have decided is a mobile device.

I want to share music with as many of you as possible, so now Spotify links can now be included in WordPress I may give that a go over YouTube.

How does that work for people? I’m in Merry England, where Spotify is very popular, but I know it isn’t available everywhere. If you have any preference or any other solutions to this problem please let me know!

Here is an example:

The Offspring – All I Want

or

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I love reading. And I love free stuff. So I love this guy for giving us all those free ebooks. Whadaguy!

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Keep It Simple vs Making It Interesting

With my intentions of becoming a singer-songwriter, and the recovery of my acoustic guitar from the clutches of my parents house, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to acoustic guitar based songs.

Whenever I listen to my iPod or see a band, I’m always listening out for what makes their music good or bad and how I can use this to make my own songs better. What I have been doing a lot of lately is trying to figure out the structure of acoustic songs.

With pop, rock and punk this is something I figured out a while ago. It goes; intro, verse (often palm muted), chorus, verse, chorus, middle eighth, chorus, chorus – or some variation of this. But with acoustic songs the structures can be all over the place, and moreover, when I’m writing, I’m not sure which riffs would be best suited for a chorus or verse etc.

This feeling was further compounded when I went to the see Revival Tour recently.

The Revival Tour is a fantastic touring showcase of mostly american punk band members who have solo singer songwriter projects. Orchestrated by Chuck Ragan (of Hot Water Music fame). I had the pleasure of seeing Dan Adriano (Alkaline Trio), Brian Fallon (Gaslight Anthem) and Dave Hause (The Loved Ones).

What immediately struck me when seeing Dave Hause on stage that what he was playing were really simple open chords with some pretty basic strumming. Every chord was there to act as a platform for the vocals.

On further listening to other songs that I love, I realised that great songs don’t have to be complicated. I don’t have to write some complex mathcore folk tune. New rule; keep it simple and focus on writing a good song.

This idea is quickly shattered every time I listen to Frank Turner, who has some really difficult pieces. Then I don’t know what to think.

I should be finding all this freedom in songwriting liberating. Instead I just get a little confused.

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Rise Against – A Love Letter

I love Rise Against. So many of their songs compete to be my favourite. What I love about their music is that it is so full of strength. It motivates me, it keeps me going. They are my spinach to my Popeye.

Here are a few of my favourite Rise Against tunes, and why I love them.

Architects
The opening riff rings out like an alarm bell calling for your attention. Quickly followed by what only can be described as the band furiously punching their instruments. Calm. Quickly shattered by the band launch head first into the verse, where Tim McIlrath asks, nay, demands, “Are there no fighters left here any more? Are we the generation we’ve been waiting for?”.

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Endgame – 2011

Give It All
Lyrically this is by no means Rise Against’s most articulate, or even most political song, but the muted strums and screaming of the verse contrasted with the poppy hooks of the chorus, turn an average song into something special.

This track never ever fails to lift me. I listen to this before sitting exams, before going into important meetings, when I’m down and when I feel that I’m veering off course. Like some marvellous medicine, it always works.

Siren Song Of The Counter Culture – 2004

Hero Of War
The first time I heard this track, the opening verse sent shivers down my spine. There is something so chilling and so striking about the clearness of just a voice and a acoustic guitar

That is of course, the desired effect. To grab you, and make you think twice about Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts with Western involvement. You don’t have to agree with the band and their message, but you do have to think.

Appeal To Reason – 2008

Built To Last
This is not a Rise Against song, but rather a cover of the punk legends, Sick Of It All.

Kicking off with a machine gun drum-roll intro, setting the pace for the next two minutes and fifty three seconds. The song does not relent for the entirety of the track. Speed and power.

When I’m running half marathons, I have this one timed to come on at the twelve mile point, with one mile to go. You should see me. Like Usain Bolt on Speed.

The Suffer and The Witness (Bonus Track) – 2006

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