Jade Bird, by Mick Clarke

According to definition, a troubadour was a composer and performer of Old Occitan lyric poetry during the High Middle Ages (1100–1350). Since the word troubadour is etymologically masculine, a female troubadour is usually called a trobairitz.

So, it seems that the male appropriation of all things music began back in medieval times. …

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A few years ago, I read an interview with Brett Andersen from Suede, in which he said something along these lines: all successful artists have followed a similar journey, comprising four stages: the struggle, the stratospheric rise, the crash, and then the renaissance.

I’ve always been fascinated by the creative process, especially as it evolves over time. I’m not so interested in the forensics of creativity in the moment — to me a lot of that is beyond analysis. I find Song Exploder mildly entertaining…

The Cure ‘black crow gif’ by Lina Moon

Oh Glastonbury. Cancelled again. One begins to wonder whether…no, no, no. Let’s not go there. Glastonbury will return in 2022 as part of the ‘new roaring 20s’, when the virus lifts and we can all celebrate humanity once again: connection. In real life connection.

The recent news about Glastonbury’s enforced 2nd year of hiatus had me drifting in thought back to summer 2019 — surfing from stage to stage (VIP areas only), getting close up to the action. Drink in hand and with access to gourmet food options left and right, Glastonbury is always a joy when it’s really ‘Hamtonbury’…

Every year without fail, I make December an all Christmas songs affair. Never before December 1st of course, and never after the 26th, but for every minute in between, it is Christmas music in my house (and my car and on my headphones). This will absolutely include the minor 1984 Queen hit ‘Thank God It’s Christmas’, which takes on a new meaning in 2020 when you listen to the lyrics (“it’s been a long hard year”). …

The pandemic-induced lockdown created a listening boom for traditional radio, along with an uptick in the streaming of more comforting genres (classical, easy listening, soul) with catalogue music enjoying another wave of popularity around the world. With long hours working from home, I for one bought into both of these trends, listening to far more radio than I have for years. I also returned to catalogue and made the discovery that streaming services really don’t do catalogue that well at all.

But, by the time the ‘second wave arrived’ I found that I had become suddenly bored of the radio…

October 29, 2020

It’s funny, just a few weeks ago I was imagining that someone could, and should, make a documentary film about Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy. Somehow, I hadn’t spotted that Emer Reynolds had done just that and that the trailer for the film was first put out there in the summer of 2020. How did I ever miss that? Blame the strange times. And so here I am, on a rare night out and a very special occasion — just down the road in Esher at the Everyman Cinema. …

According to a growing community of audiophiles, we are all being short-changed by the current wave of digital music. Since the first appearance of the MP3 in the late 90s, we have never looked back in terms of music’s abundance and availability, yet in the glut, we traded off access to the music with how that music itself sounds. But are we on the verge of a new wave of music industry growth centred on putting audio quality to rights?

As Franck Lebouchard, CEO of high-end speaker maker Devialet put it recently to Sifted.

Back when we used to attend live shows (it’s coming back, don’t worry, eventually, I hope) how often did you find yourself at a gig and wonder why the people at the back or next to you seem to be spending more time talking (loudly, so as to be heard above the actual music) than listening? Many fans go to gigs for more social needs I guess, but it has always baffled me that you wouldn’t want to simply drink in the performance. …

By Mick Clarke

I was just up in Dundee, Scotland, where I found myself stopping off for a few moments at a record shop (Assai Records, 33 and 1/3rd Union Street, nice address). Browsing vinyl (even in the age of COVID19) is still one of the best experiences in music, and most of what you hear is in your head. One of the records that tempted me was Invisible Touch by Genesis. It was released in 1986 — it came right from the core of the decade that really changed pop. I hadn’t appreciated this, but side one of Invisible Touch contains just…

I remember when Beats first launched it’s pre Apple-Music service back in 2014. The vernacular was very much about human curation over algorithms — giving Spotify a preemptive poke in the eye. Jimmy Iovine’s favourite saying of the time was “What song comes next is as important as what song is playing now.”

What did come next was that Spotify launched the world’s first recommendation feature to actually get good customer reviews. ‘Discover Weekly’ was based on the fairly established algorithmic principle of collaborative filtering, but drew on enough consumption data and Spotify’s vast music library that it worked superbly…

The Lost Art Of Listening

Brought to you by the Song Sommelier.

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