My 20 Favourite Records of 2010

2010 has been, for me at least, a bumper year for new music. I think it’s safe to say that I’ve bought more albums released this year than I have in any year for well over a decade. This is a very good thing. That a lot of them were bought direct from the artist is also a very good thing.

Here’s a list of my 20 favourites – not any preference order, that would be futile, and subject to change at a moment’s notice (they’re alphabetical by artist).

Suffice to say, I recommend all of them, with the obvious caveat that if the are from within a style that would otherwise be something you’d avoid like the plague, proceed with caution…

Bandcamp embeds provided where possible… Continue reading “My 20 Favourite Records of 2010”

Added Extras For The New Live Album…

Just in case your preference is for my solo stuff, please feel free to grab the solo tunes off of ‘live so far‘ to add to the brand new live album – you can pay whatever you think it’s all worth for the live album, then download the others without paying – no need to do 4 transactions:

…this way you also get two versions of The Kindness Of Strangers… feel free to pick a fave 🙂

And, while you’re at it, feel free to add your favourites from Soundcloud – most of those tunes are demo recordings, some of which may surface on albums in the future, but there’s no reason why you can can’t add them to your own compilation of favourites…

Alternatively, you can download both albums, and enjoy the songs with Lobelia and the collaborations with Neil Alexander and Todd Reynolds. But you’re a grown up, do whatever makes you happy… 😉

Ten Years On: Live In London – Brand New Live Recording!

It’s out! I’ve been talking for the last week on Twitter and Facebook about mixing the recording of my solo set from last week’s London gig with Michael Manring, at Round Midnight, and here it is:

In addition to the tracks listed in the player, there’s one ‘hidden’ track that you only get with the full album download. And as always, you’re welcome to pay whatever you think it’s worth for the download. Have a listen, see what you think. Continue reading “Ten Years On: Live In London – Brand New Live Recording!”

6 Years Since The Death Of John Peel

John Peel past away 6 years ago today.

I miss him more than any other person that I never met. I’ve written many, many times about the live-changing impact he had on me, growing up in Berwick Upon Tweed, pre-internet, starved of pretty much all other access to boundary-less music.

So to celebrate, here are a few albums I think you should hear – great music, by great people.

Honour the memory of John Peel by hearing something brand new today: Continue reading “6 Years Since The Death Of John Peel”

Music Is Worthless Part 2 – a Response to Jeff Schmidt

This post started out as a comment on my previous post, in reply to one from Jeff Schmidt. But it’s too long for that, so it’s now its own post.

Here’s Jeff’s comment:

4 years ago – I could have said this exact thing -probably word for word.

Today – not so much.

If I was on the cutting edge of music market thinking then, maybe I’m on the cutting edge now with the complete opposite opinion. Is the tide is turning that much? I think so.

Pay what you want is a cop out.

Stand up for your work and put a value on it. Continue reading “Music Is Worthless Part 2 – a Response to Jeff Schmidt”

Music Is Worthless

The BBC have an article today, in which they report on Rob Dickins, former head of Warner Music UK, saying that albums should cost a £1.

It’s a fairly radical step, and there’s some merit in what he says, as a response to currently-illegal downloading, within a fixed price market.

However, what’s missing from this is the simple fact that music is worthless. ‘Music’ as in noises that fit within the ‘organised sound’ definition that most of us recognise as music, has no inherent value at all. All the value is contextual. It can be invested, it can be enhanced, it can even be manufactured counter to any previously measured notions of ‘quality’ with a particular idiom, but it’s not innate. Noise is not a saleable commodity. Continue reading “Music Is Worthless”

50,000 Tweets – A Love Story

Tonight, I clocked up my 50,000th tweet. It looked like this:

It’s no secret that I REALLY dig Twitter. It solved a whole lot of online communication questions for me when I found it. I cut back on my posting on forums, and eventually even deleted the forum on my own site in favour of encouraging the regular posters there to head over to Twitter and talk in a more democratic environment.

I loved the fact that I was no longer stuck in a subject-specific space, or one where I people had to sign up to be in my gang before joining the conversation. It’s not my conversation, after all, it’s a global free-for-all.

Except it isn’t. I mean, technically it is, but actually the only bit of Twitter that concerns me at all is the people I follow and the people who follow me. And occasionally the people who tweet using a hashtag I happen to be following.

I am, as the 50K Tweets would suggest, a power-user. I document my life in this way. I use it to:

  • Talk with my audience in a way that has replaced my email list,
  • Talk with musicians in way that has replaced myspace,
  • Talk with my family in a way that has replaced email,
  • Talk with my colleagues in Amplified in a way that has replaced wikis
  • Talk with anyone who’s interested in a way that’s replaced chatrooms/generic forums.

…and by ‘talk with’ I mean all the myriad forms of communication that go on there – chat, debate, encourage, learn from, teach, swap links, post news… anything that’ll fit in 140 characters.

    It’s clearly an open, messy, FUN way of communicating that I love. I don’t have to keep track of loads of different websites – I do have 10 different twitter accounts, but most of them lie dormant at the moment. SoloBassSteve is where pretty much everything happens, and for some unknown reason there are (currently) 4836 people who have seen fit to follow me. Some may be spammers, but I’ve blocked and deleted AT LEAST 3 times as many followers as I’ve allowed to stay. Any spam accounts I cleared out… I’ve definitely had well in excess of 12-13,000 follow notifications, I just didn’t want either a misleading amount of followers, or to leave those accounts without some registering a ‘spam’ click next to them…

    But, in the last 3 years, most of the good things that have happened for Lobelia and I have happened through Twitter.

    • We’ve met some of our best friends
    • We’ve planned tours
    • We’ve organised recordings
    • We gleaned information
    • We had support and congratulations on the birth of our baby
    • We shared our holidays
    • We found people to help us move house
    • and We had LOADS of work, new listeners, and – crucially – amazing people willing to talk about what we do as musicians time and time again.

    I spend a lot – most – of my time on Twitter talking about other people’s music, encouraging and connection musicians to eachother, helping people get their heads around this brave, heady new disintermediated world we’re in. I’m trying to model the way I think the distruptive awesome internet of the future should work. Cos the future is now. We’re in it, it’s great, and Twitter is quite possibly THE game changer.

    Youtube was big, Myspace was big. WordPress was big. Bandcamp is HUGE. Soundcloud is awesome. But as the glue that makes all of them workable, manageable and connected, Twitter for me is THE killer app. The reason the internets was invented.

    So, 50 Thousand Tweets on, I’m still all about it. Here, if you’re interested, is my twitter-list of people I chat to, day in, day out: The Awesome Squad.

    -o0o-

    This evening someone asked me (on Twitter) which was the classic Steve Lawson album. So I asked my friends (on Twitter) to answer. So far the answer has come back, overwhelmingly, Grace And Gratitude. Which is fitting. Because I’m hugely grateful for all the good things that have happened through the amazing people I’m connected to on there. Please have a listen, and feel free to download it – don’t feel obliged to pay for it, but if you want to pay whatever you think it’s worth, that would also be hugely appreciated:

    Exploring Different Models For Creativity: Slow Food/Infrablab compared.

    Aside from the fact that I’m REALLY proud of the music on both albums, the biggest kick I’ve had out of the Slow Food/Infrablab project with Trip Wamsley has been the ability to so accurately contrast the differences and similarities in the methodology, practice and outcome of our music making.

    Here they are, side by side, have a listen:

    It’s rare that you get the indulgence of doing two records under identical technical constraints, as a ‘test case’ for those methodologies. Which made the experience of playing with Trip even more enjoyable than it would’ve been if we’d just been doing an album the old fashioned way with, y’know, written songs and shit… Continue reading “Exploring Different Models For Creativity: Slow Food/Infrablab compared.”

    Slow Food, Track By Track, Pt 4 – Imaginary Robot Ninja Assistant

    You can download Imaginary Robot Ninja Assistant here, and the whole Slow Food album here.

    Who doesn’t have an imaginary robot ninja assistant? Fixing stuff, being awesome, ass-kicking when needed, and, uhm, assisting…

    When I finally get my real Robot Ninja Assistant, it will sing like this track.

    And I’d understand every word it sang.

    This is how all robots should sing.

    It’s a love song.

    Nowhere near as dark as it sounds to us.

    Robot harmony is different, y’see, not based on dodgy fudged physics. Theirs is the essence of rock ‘n’ roll.

    And ninjas.

    The main loop on this is, I think, me looping some of Trip’s weird noises. I don’t actually join in til about half way through. Quality weirdness 🙂

    Great New Album From She Makes War

    OK, I’m going to interrupt my ‘track by track’ breakdown of my own new album to tell you about a GREAT record by my lovely friend Laura Kidd, AKA She Makes War.

    Here it is, in its entirety, on bandcamp (naturally) – hit play while you’re reading this (and then hit the ‘buy’ button when you’ve finished):

    Laura is a true renaissance woman – singer/songwriter/producer/videographer/session bassist/blogger/social tech ninja/web designer… A huge skill set, all of which has come into play on the process of making the album and telling stories around it. Continue reading “Great New Album From She Makes War”