Thursday, 31 March 2011

why local news isn't just for local people

My local newspaper has often featured campaigns of local, and sometimes national interest.

Still raging on is the fight to save Chase Farm Hospital from closure by NHS bosses, as are controversial court cases against Enfield residents Andrew Symeou, accused of murder and held awaiting trial in Greece, and autistic computer hacker Gary McKinnon, who infiltrated the FBI and upset an awful lot of high powered Americans and is now facing extradition.

But one campaign that has been fought more recently has been within The Enfield Advertiser itself, as its own arts and entertainment section has seen its prescence within the paper drastically cut over the past couple of months.

Now, of course I have a vested interest in this, as well as writing for glasswerk and my own music blogs, I have also been a regular music contributor to The Enfield Advertiser since 2009.

I have always strived to be active within my local music scene, since back when me and a few friends put on our own club nights with ourselves DJing, as we wanted something to go to on our own doorsteps without venturing to Camden or beyond.

Since then, me and my close friends continued to DJ when a new promoter (and former Enfield Advertiser music columnist) breathed new life into the scene by putting on regular live music nights, becoming friends and fans of many local bands that graced the stage during these halcyon days of our local scene.

I have continued to follow those bands and how they have grown and splintered over the years, and when I began volunteering at a local council funded youth music project I was exposed to a whole new wave of exciting bands and artists, and met many more people, some of whom have remained good friends, along the way.

Being given the chance to write for my local paper and cover the bands I know and love was an ideal opportunity, not just for me to have my work published in a physical form but also to show support and spread awareness of a local scene, getting news of our plight, our hard work and our achievements into the homes of around 90,000 households across the borough of Enfield.

But now, just as is the case with music venues across the country, the entire entertainment section of The Enfield Advertiser is under threat, which may seem a stretch of an analogy, but I honestly believe that both have an impact on local music scenes and in turn the UK's future of music.

Sure, in this digital age we still have blogs, webzines and countless social networks, but as a medium it can become somewhat diluted and ultimately hit and miss in the grand scheme of things. And for those that still respond to a physical product, those that still read the liner notes of an album or cherish their collection of 7" singles, a printed article in a widely distributed periodical is something to be proud of, to clip out and keep, for their parents and grandparents, and even for when they themselves become parents or grandparents.

So it is a fight, not for myself, my role is purely voluntary (although jobs would be lost and strike action has been discussed), but for a local voice and for a local scene that I am extremely fond of and overwhelmingly proud of.

Mine may only be a small voice, from a small North London suburb, but I'm sure it is a voice that may be applicable and representative of small towns across the country, each with scenes that are just itching to be noticed by peers and a wider audience alike.

I was writing about music long before I become active within the Enfield Advertiser, and will continue to do so no matter what the outcome, but coming from a town that still has no real music venue despite it's ever-evolving vibrant scene and various campaigns and movements, to not lose an important aspect of our community seems to be something worth fighting for.

for more info, see previous article 'living for The Weekender' and the facebook event

Monday, 14 March 2011

Beady Eye

Beady Eye seem to be occupying a rather strange position within the music industry.

as times changed, Oasis it seems would stay the same, and the rise of Beady Eye is testament to this.

Oasis claimed an esteemed position as one of the UK's most exciting, most vital and most bankable bands during the britpop era, in a day and age when record sales hadn’t yet been severely rocked by the likes of Napster.

The love affair soured slightly when the unconceivably hyped third album, Be Here Now was released, facing a backlash from critics, and by the time Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants was released in 2000 the game had changed around them, as the whole album was leaked online ahead of its official release.

Despite these knocks, Oasis remained a well loved band right through to the very bitter end, garnering magazine covers and number 1 albums throughout their career, and accompanying tours would see them selling out stadiums across the summer.

But Oasis had become part of an old guard in the music industry, sternly sticking to the tried and tested path that had put them on the top of the heap, and so it is that the prescence of Beady Eye sees them as a band out of step with modern times.

Liam Gallagher must have been heavy-handedly coerced into allowing Bring The Light to be made available as a free download, having been expectedly outspoken on the subject in the past.

It was this first taste of the new band that reverberated around the internet and saw interest sparked as the track spread like wildfire and whether reactions were positive or negative were un-important , after gossip and speculation the second coming of Liam Gallagher had arrived, further tracks were teased out throughout the winter, with videos posted to youtube for Four Letter Word and The Roller, accompanied by a couple of low-key 7” releases.

Despite being this country's most scrutinised ‘new’ band, Beady Eye seem to have faced incredibly mixed reactions, they have still graced magazine covers and sold out shows, but radio hardly seem to have warmed to them, limiting exposure to newer audiences, and The Roller only scraped into the top 40 at number 31, yet only 2 weeks later the debut album crashed into the charts at a highly respectable number 3, placed only behind Adele and Jessie J.

Feedback on the album seems to have been overwhelmingly positive from most quarters, and those presuming the band would flounder without the songwriting and guidance of Noel Gallagher, had obviously been paying little attention to Oasis’ latter output, as Andy Bell and Gem Archers contributions had already been notable, and Liam’s growing talent has advanced in leaps and bounds since he penned the simple (and often mocked) Little James for Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants.

Time will tell if Beady Eye can lay claim to the kind of devotion that had Oasis heralded as rock royalty and saw summer stadium tours become massive events in their own rights, with a supporting cast of bands that resembled a mini-festival. Their talent, their passion and their commitment is not in question at all, but if they can jump straight back in where Oasis left off and be accepted as natural successors without falling back on Oasis’ rich back catalogue is yet to be seen.

The album is unlikely to convert any nay-sayers that had no interest in Oasis but with a legion of die-hard Liam acolytes still standing firm, I'm certain Beady Eye have hardly noticed.

Beady Eye - Bring The Light
from the album Different Gear, Still Speeding

read my album review for Beady Eye's 'Different Gear, Still Speeding' on

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The Fetts

some bands are formed out of mutual interest or a common bond that has brought it's members together.

the big question then, is how far do you see this thing through?

while the majority of local acts will knock together a number of demo recordings for their myspace and be content to play the occasional gig once in a while, there are also those that take it all a little bit more seriously.

The Fetts are one such band that have seen fit to give fans something solid and substantial to fill shelf space with, releasing their debut album, Transitions, last month and holding a couple of intimate gigs to celebrate this milestone with their true fans, launching the album with a gig in Hertford, swiftly followed by a recent turn at Enfield's own Bar Form.

the band, formed in 2008, have been passing out free CDs at gigs for a while now, serving as a taster for those that like what they have seen live, but now the entire album can now be ordered by those wishing to dig a bit deeper.

so what can you expect from debut, Transitions?

in a previous live review i noted that the band's sound was firmly rooted in 90's rock and the album delivers a substantial return on influential investments in the post-Cobain glory days when bands were making waves in a musical landscape reshaped by the invention of grunge, channeling the rootsy and raw music that still kept an eye and thoughts on lucrative arena touring.

This skewed Americana served up via North London fuses Counting Crows with Feeder in a slowburning melodic rock sound that reflects the high standards the band must have surely set themselves when recording this self-funded album at St Alban's Unsigned Studios.

The result is an album that grows more rewarding with each listen, particularly during the latter part of the longplayer where my personal highlights, Turning Point and I'm Not A Machine, come into play at the half-way mark and kick everything up a gear, not backing down until the accomplished album is brought to a close with the powerful, I Must Be Blind.

And when the album went on sale exclusively through Zavvi, dedicated fans soon helped place it at the top of their pre-order chart throughout January and early February, ahead of highly anticipated albums from Chase and Status and Beady Eye, proving that the three piece must be garnering something of a cult following already.

The Fetts - Not A Machine