Archive for May, 2011

Check Out Episode Three Of BAMM Insights

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BAMM Insights – Episode 3 by

In this episode of BAMM Insights, Aidan and Christopher present highlights from a fascinating chat with Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson (the author of ‘Free’, the grounding point for the ‘freemium’ business model). The subject is ‘Diginomics’ – what you can expect to pay for stuff in a fractured digital era. Remember: we’ll be putting an episode on the blog every week, or you can mix and match the whole series right here.

BAMM UK: Under The Covers

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BAMM UK is a regular opinion piece from our London-based correspondent. This week: Under The Covers …

We recently published a light-hearted look at 10 of the craziest album covers in history – but near the top of that article, there was a serious point that deserves some elaboration. The general gist of it was this: in an era of ever-increasing digital sales and an ongoing slump in the physical format trade, is the notion of the ‘album cover’ even relevant anymore?

Factory Records co-founder and legendary designer Peter Saville is soon to launch a retrospective entitled ‘Total’, which comprises of his hugely influential Joy Division and New Order cover artwork. It’s pretty much set in stone that the cover for Unknown Pleasures – which represents the radio transmission of a dying star – is a modern classic, perfectly encapsulating the tone and feel of the music within, as well as standing as an impressive construct in its own right. Did this cover inspire people to pick up the album without prior familiarity as to its contents? Very probably.

There are hundreds of other classic album covers – we don’t need to list them here, but let’s assume that your collection contains several of them. A quick scan of the overall cultural consensus, however, reveals that the ‘golden age’ for such iconic covers lies in a twenty-year stretch between 1965 and 1985. Sure, there are more ‘recent’ cultural staples like Nevermind or Is This It, but the era of gatefold vinyl seems to have the artistic edge.

So: what exactly constitutes ‘album artwork’ these days? There’s the traditional CD cover, but even the best specimens from last year hardly merit ‘legendary’ status. If artwork now simply consists of a tiny image on an iPod screen, for example, then its cutural influence must surely be on the wane.

Perhaps what needs to be examined is how artwork can progress. It’s part of the new remit of the physical format: it must offer something that the download/streaming version of an album simply can’t. Box-sets have this covered to some extent – they’re almost like museum exhibits, great little conversation pieces that can be propped up by the stereo. But how can the single album fare?

As mentioned, in purely physical terms it boils down to the ‘must-have’ factor … but even that narrows down album artwork to a more specialised, hardcore fanbase who would will be willing to put up with the hassle of a physical format if it offered them something unique. This, however, is working on the assumption that the ‘artwork’ must be physical. Who knows – in ten years time, the average home stereo set-up could project holographic sleeve notes into the air, and surely it’s a matter of months before a major artist releases a ‘new’ variant of artwork for a portable device (say, a randomised algorithym which creates a different image every time the album is accessed, thereby making each and every listen a truly unique experience).

The correlation between music and visual artwork is long-entrenched, and – much to the benefit of popular culture – is here to stay for a long time yet. The interesting question is: what form will it take next, now that the dominant method of distribution is on its last legs?

Watch Icarus by Trash80 on BAMM TV

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You know that old Game Boy you have stashed away in the attic? Chances are you didn’t know that – with the addition of clever tracking software – it was capable of producing killer soundscapes like the one above. Timothy Lamb – otherwise known as Trash80 – is something of a pioneer in the field of Game Boy music, and his development of the prosound mod for the device has allowed many others to crack open their outdated Nintendo device in a tuneful manner. Are any of them producing stuff as awesome as ‘Icarus’, an exclusive BAMM performance of which you can watch today? Very probably not. With music like this, we suspect Mario would enjoy gobbling those ‘special’ mushrooms even more …

Watch Count On This by The Frail on BAMM TV

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As band names go, The Frail is hardly an accurate one – this SF-based three-piece are anything but, what with having topped one million MySpace plays and enjoyed MTV exposure. Not that that matters when the music is as good as this, as our BAMM SXSW showcase audience found out for themselves. Now we’re giving you the chance to check out The Frail’s great blend of danceable indie-pop with an exclusive performance of ‘Count On This’, also available as part of our totally free SXSW playlist.

The Friday List: The 10 Craziest Album Covers

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Time once again for BAMM’s regular Friday list of curiosities to keep you talking over the weekend. This week: the ten craziest album covers you’ll ever see …

In an age where physical music formats are on the decline, the album cover just isn’t as important as it used to be. Sure, it’s a nice bonus if the digital image on your device is a pretty one, but these days the music is generally left to speak for itself.

This wasn’t the case in years gone by, however. An eye-catching cover could make or break a record – and this necessity created some undeniable classics. Pop culture is all the richer for the masterpieces that adorned Sgt Peppers, Electric Ladyland, The Queen Is Dead, Repeater, OK Computer and so on. But what about those more … ahem … ‘unique’ specimens? Let’s take a look at the 10 craziest albums covers in history …

10. ‘Mr Love Pants’ – Ian Dury And The Blockheads

Hey, don’t mind me, I’m just a dog hanging out on a beach. In my pants.

9. ‘Ringo The 4th’ – Ringo Starr

Ringo tries to escape the shadow of The Beatles by threatening everyone with a big sword and kidnapping ladies.

8. ‘Julie’s Sixteenth Birthday’ – John Bult

Implication is everything, John.

7. ‘My Beauty’ – Kevin Rowland

Erm … yeah, I’m just trying something out, y’know?

6. ‘The Miracle’ – Queen


5. ‘Yesterday And Today’ – The Beatles

The loveable mop-tops decide to … well, do whatever the hell this is.

4. ‘On Through The Night ‘ – Def Leppard

For God’s sake, Harold, another wrong turn! Just look where the Earth is now!

3. ‘Windowlicker’ – Aphex Twin

Yeah, so it’s technically an EP, but it’s so crazy we had to include it.

2. ‘All My Friends Are Dead’ – Freddie Gage

Hey, Freddie! It’s party time! Erm … Freddie? Freddie …?

1. ‘Keep The Fire’ – Kenny Loggins

“Look, I’ve come all the way past the pyramid, the meteors and the rainbow to get here, so you’d damn well better take it, okay?”

Watch Nicki Bluhm And The Gramblers on BAMM TV

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A trip to Texas wouldn’t be complete without taking in some alt-country sounds (and if a bit of soulful rock can be thrown into the mix, then that’s all the better). Nicki Bluhm And The Gramblers were more than happy to step up to the plate at our recent SXSW showcase, wowing the audience with a live performance of the laid-back ‘Toby’s Song’. They’re just one of the acts on our totally free downloadable SXSW playlist, by the way.

Appwatch: LaDiDa

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Music production apps generally fall into two camps: there’s the stuff for the professionals to really get their teeth into, and the stuff that’s just plain fun. LaDiDa is certainly part of the latter group – which is not to say that it isn’t a clever, technically ambitious and very entertaining piece of tech.

LaDiDa acts as a ‘reverse-karaoke’ engineer. Simply sing into your phone – no matter how dreadfully off-key you may be – and LaDiDa will construct a brand new song around your warbling. If you have a good singing voice to begin with, the results will actually sound quite impressive (and point towards a further evolution of this app/idea as something for professional musicians to utilise). For the rest of us, it’s a fun party piece. It’s brought to you by the folks at Khush, who explain things further in the demo vid below:

Check Out The New Best Of BAMM Podcast

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The Bob Podcast #5: “Guitar Solos” by

Another week, another episode
of the mighty Best Of BAMM (BOB) Podcast. We know, we know, we’re linking you up a day later than usual, but as they say (whoever ‘they’ may be) good things are well worth waiting for.

This time around, Phil, Brock and Zach are sifting through the archives to dig out their favourite guitar solos. Hear exclusive stuff from The Stone Foxes, The Blank Tapes, Shaun Cromwell, Ha Ha Tonka, Hollerado and The Moondoggies.

Watch Still by Great Lake Swimmers at BAMM TV

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So many people wanted to see Great Lake Swimmers at our SXSW showcase that the queue itself could have stretched across a couple of lakes. Nevertheless, it would have been worth the long watery wait, as this Toronto-based folk-rock group are more than capable of putting on a great show. One particular highlight was the wistful ‘Still’, taken from their fourth studio album ‘Lost Channels’. Check it out above.

Watch ‘1-2-3 Go’ by HOTTUB on BAMMTV

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If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll already be familiar with the wonderfully insane stylings of HOTTUB. If you were to put Northern State, The Go Team and Le Tigre into a blender … well, you’d be arrested. But before you got arrested, you’d have created something that sounds a little like this crazily intense Oakland three-piece. We’re throwing another of their raucous SXSW performances your way today – this time in the shape of the hyperkinetic ‘1-2-3 Go’.