Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Charlotte Hatherley on piracygate

Former Ash guitarist Charlotte Hatherley, now a successful solo artist in her own right, has given TMM her views on the file sharing debate.

It’s a particularly vital question to ask Hatherley, who is about to release her third solo album, New Worlds, on her own label, Little Sister Records.

“It should have been dealt with a long time ago. Record labels don’t know what the fuck they’re dealing with. Fuck the labels, it’s the artists who need to make money. I’m all for fucking record labels,” she told us. “I don’t expect to make any money from record sales, the only way to do it is to tour. It’s getting to the stage where only rich kids can afford to make music, there’s so many BRIT school, middle-class artists at the moment.

“I’m lucky in that I can play guitar for other people [Hatherley sets off a UK tour with Bat For Lashes tomorrow] and I can sell directly from my website. Kids need to realise [when they illegally download music] that they’re depriving artists of making a living. There’s no way some bands can survive. It’s quite bleak in so many ways.

“But cutting off internet connections isn’t the answer.”

The full interview with Charlotte, in which she talks to TMM about playing guitar for Bat For Lashes, her new album New Worlds and leaving Ash, will be on the site soon.

This article was written for TMM.

Charlotte Hatherley - Alexander (Little Sister Records)

Hitting 30 is terrifying for most people. But some revel in growing older and becoming more mature. And it seems that ex-Ash guitarist Charlotte Hatherley is one of those such people.

The revelation from her former bandmates that they asked her to leave, rather than her choosing to quit, will have come as a surprise to many people. But Hatherley was never likely to let a minor thing like effectively being sacked stop her.

'Alexander' is the second single from her third solo release New Worlds, an atmospheric record that puts her at the pinnacle of British female alt-poppers. Her previous two albums were confused in style, but Hatherley seems to have finally struck a balance.

'Alexander' is charmingly gentle and swirling to start, with haunting piano underlying Hatherley's honeyed toned. Later, there's the trademark Hatherley angular, hooky guitar lines complementing her barked vocal of "You're innocent, you're innocent", making a rather super single that deserves to win her many more new fans.

And even better than that, she's moved away from the Kate Bush comparisons that were threatening to overshadow her solo work by playing guitar on tour. Now there's a better candidate to take over Bush's weird-pop crown in Bat For Lashes, Hatherley can concentrate on her own thing. And it sounds like there's a lot more to come.

Rating: 4/5

This review was written for Daily Music Guide.

Thom Yorke puts new band together, announces L.A. shows

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has announced a pair of shows in Los Angeles and has completed the line-up of his band for the gigs.

Yorke has enlisted the services of Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, R.E.M. collaborator Joey Waronker and multi-instrumentalist Mauro Refosco as well as long-term Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich.

“In the past couple of weeks I’ve been getting a band together for fun to play ‘The Eraser’ stuff live and the new songs etc, to see if it could work!” the singer wrote on Radiohead’s Dead Air Space blog. The post was accompanied by a picture of the five musicians, all sporting a worrying amount of facial hair.

He added: “We don’t really have a name and the set will not be very long cuz… well… we haven’t got that much material yet! But come and check it out if you are in the area.”

The band, who are expected to play new compositions that may end up as Radiohead songs, will play the Orpheum Theatre on October 4 and 5. It is not yet known whether they will play any gigs in the UK.

This article was written for TMM.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Chapman Family epic tour in offing

The hottest band from Middlesbrough since…well…er..anyway, a great new band from Middlesbrough, the Chapman Family, will tour extensively from next month in support of a new single.

Virgins will be released on October 19 and the band will support the single with a massive six-week jaunt from the beginning of next month, starting in Stockton-on-Tees, working all the way around the country, before finishing off with a homecoming show at Middlesbrough’s Empire on November 14. If they survive that long.

Those tour dates (all 28 of them, we counted) in full, there’s bound to be one near you:

02 Stockton-on-Tees, Kubar
03 Liverpool, Academy 2
05 Derby, Rockhouse (Club NME)
06 York, The Duchess
07 Manchester, Ruby Lounge
09 London, KOKO (Club NME)
10 Leeds, Met Uni
11 Hull, The Lamp
12 Coventry, Kasbah
15 Newcastle, Cluny
14 Sheffield, The Plug
16 Stoke, Sugarmill
17 Preston, Mad Ferret
18 Wrexham, Central Station
28 Brighton, Engine Rooms
29 London, Barfly (XFM Night)
30 Bristol, Start The Bus
31 Oxford, Bullingdon

02 Cardiff, Barfly
03 Southampton, Hamptons
04 Guildford, Boiler Room
05 Winchester, The Railway
06 Wimbledon, The Watershed
07 Reading, Plug ‘N’ Play
08 Harlow, Club Quartroz
12 Edinburgh, Sneaky Petes
13 Glasgow, King Tuts
14 Middlesbrough, The Empire

Tickets aren’t much more than a fiver for most shows, and are available now, from here.

This article was written for TMM.

Lily and Dizzee to share arena shows

The other day we ran a story suggesting Lily Allen was about to quit music and this morning the Smile singer has announced a pair of joint-headline arena gigs with Dizzee Rascal in the Spring.

Whether the two shows are a final ‘Goodbye’ from Allen to her fans or not remains to be seen, while they represent an epochal moment in the stratospheric rise of Dizzee Rascal into the mainstream.

Lily and Dizzee (We just love typing that, it rhymes so well) praised each other in a statement released to accompany the announcement of the gigs.

“I’m really looking forward to playing these special shows – I’m a massive fan of what Dizzee does,” Allen said, while Dizzee commented: “Lily and I have both worked well in the past so it’s no doubt these shows will be nights to remember.”

The shows will take place at Manchester’s MEN Arena on March 5, and London’s O2 two nights later. Tickets are on sale next Friday (October 9) at 9am.

This article was written for TMM.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Spurs 5-0 Burnley

Four goals from Robbie Keane condemned Burnley to a fourth straight away defeat of the season, with Tottenham Hotspur running out clear and deserved 5-0 winners at White Hart Lane.

All the pre-match talk focussed on the renewed match-up between David Nugent and Harry Redknapp, but the former Portsmouth striker was reduced to feeding off scraps for the entire afternoon as Spurs' attackers ran riot in the second half.

It could have all been different though, as Steven Fletcher had an equalising goal chalked off for Burnley, looking to have been onside before finishing smoothly past Carlo Cudicini.

But minutes later Spurs broke and Jermaine Jenas' deflected a crucial second goal past Burnley goalkeeper Brian Jensen to effectively rule the game over as a contest before half-time.

Keane had given the hosts the lead from the penalty spot twenty minutes in after Andre Bikey clumsily and unnecessarily brought down Jermain Defoe. The Irishman sent Jensen the wrong way, and that gave him the confidence to add three more goals in the second half.

Burnley started the second half brightly but couldn't get the goal to get back in the game, Robbie Blake missing the Clarets' best chance as he hit the post after Cudicini dropped a cross.

And Spurs soon found their scoring boots again. Aaron Lennon burts down the flank before pulling back an intelligent cross to Keane, who swept the ball impressively into the top corner.

It was four not long after, as Keane raced on to Huddlestone's lofted ball from defence before driving the ball left-footed into the bottom corner.

And the rout was complete when Keane scored his fourth of the afternoon through Jense's legs and in off the post.

This article was written for FansOnline Burnley.

Jambothejourno seeks work: Part 6

It's only taken four months since finishing uni — but I've got an interview. It's for a trainee reporter job at the wonderfully named Congleton Chronicle. After the despondence of my last entry, I really feel like I've made positive progress in the past couple of weeks and this is my reward for my hard work.

The interview is next Wednesday morning and I'm already swotting up on Congleton and its surrounding area, researching the newspaper, its staff and its owners and generally trying to absorb as much information about the place as I possibly can.

I'm not counting my chickens before they're hatched though. I'm working on an application for the BBC's Journalism Trainee Scheme, which seems to be the sort of thing people like me should be going for. It's open to anyone without a degree in broadcast journalism, and best of all, it's a paid position, spanning a whole year while you are trained to BBC standard.

I have experience of broadcasting through student radio, albeit mostly in a guest/expert role rather than as a presenter or a producer but I never had any formal training in using the equipment or writing specifically for a broadcast audience.

The application requires me to answer various scenario questions about how I would handle various situations. Most of them focus on how I would react to being given a task on my own I couldn't complete without assistance. But rather than it being a simple multiple-choice style test, it asks you to rate various actions from 1 (very ineffective) to 4 (very effective).

There are also three questions that give me the opportunity to sell myself and my skills, and the final part of the application asks me to critique either a television or a radio news bulletin. The deadline is two weeks away so I plan to spend lots of time on it before sending it away.

Rejection duly came from the Isle of Man job I wrote about in my last update, but I'm still firing off new applications, trying to tailor my CV and covering letter for each one as I go. The latest lucky publications to be pestered by me are The Press in York, the Times & Star in Cumbria, Kent on Sunday, the Brighton Argus and intriguingly, the Grimsby Telegraph, who are advertising the same trainee sports reporter/sub-editor role as they were at the start of the summer.

Also, I booked my driving theory test for next week as I get closer to being ready for my practical test. Hopefully by the end of October I'll have a full driving license and I'll be a more attractive proposition for employers.

And, having semi-successfully managed The Music Magazine (I didn't break it), a friend's online webzine, while he was away on holiday for a week, he made me his news editor. So that's keeping me busy as I source stories, drum up new contributors for the site, commission pieces and continue to write and upload articles.

Finally, I've been asked to speak about my time looking for work at the Guardian's London Graduate Fair next month, after one of the organisers saw my pieces for this site. I'll be appearing at the Media Moves: broadcast, digital and print journalism session alongside ex-Heat editor Julian Linley (as if I'm not enough of a draw for attendees). Although it's exciting, and I'm truly honoured to have been asked, I'm a bit nervous about speaking to an audience, and I need to buy a new shirt! This is going to be a really big thing for me and hopefully I'll be able to do some networking while I'm there and get some writing commissions off the back of it.

This article was written for the Guardian.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Spurs v Burnley match preview

Burnley travel to the scene of their Carling Cup semi-final capitulation still looking for their first goals and points on the road this season to face a Spurs team that have made an impressive start to the campaign.

The Clarets have been rocked by the news that both Chris McCann and Martin Paterson will miss three months of action through knee injuries, but are boosted by Brian Jensen's dead leg not being as bad as first feared. Jensen has a good chance of facing Spurs, but should certainly be back for Burnley's next home game next Saturday against Birmingham.

Steven Caldwell is back in full training but he will have to wait for Clarke Carlisle or Andre Bikey to be unavailable to get his chance to reclaim the captaincy. Temporary skipper Graham Alexander has found his place under question of late but an improved display in the win over Sunderland, coupled with McCann's enforced absence, means he will hold on to his place, with Joey Gudjonsson likely to be McCann's replacement.

David Nugent is a certainty to replace Paterson up front, and Coyle may reshuffle his attacking options further with Chris Eagles and Fernando Guerrero both impressive at Barnsley despite Burnley's exit, and Robbie Blake and Steven Fletcher struggling to get into matches on the road.

A crushing 5-1 win at Deepdale over Preston by Spurs' second string in midweek gives Harry Redknapp a pleasing selection headache. Peter Crouch scored a hat-trick and it would be no surprise to see him return to the team at the expense of Robbie Keane. Jermain Defoe is likely to hold on to his spot as he looks to build on his six goals so far.

Redknapp may replace Gomes in goal with Cudicini and Sebastian Bassong will start in the heart of the back four. Much will depend on the fitness of Ledley King, with Redknapp hopeful his captain will be fit, although a hamstring injury is likely to keep him out. Spurs will also be without Jonathan Woodgate and Giovani Dos Santos, while Luka Modric will be lucky to play again this season after breaking his leg a few weeks ago. Redknapp will have to rejig his defence, with Hutton a possibility to come in at right-back with Vedran Corluka shuffling across to centre-back.

Tom Huddlestone has finally made a midfield spot his own this season and he will continue his partnership with Jermaine Jenas, with Aaron Lennon providing midfield width. Wilson Palocios will offer bite in the centre of the park.

The match up will spark memories of that famous Carling Cup tie, where Burnley completed a stunning comeback to win 3-0 in 90 minutes at Turf Moor to level the score on aggregate. But the Carling Cup rules dictate away goals do not come into play until after extra-time, and Roman Pavyluchenko struck to break Burnley's hearts with a winning goal just a minute and a half time from the final whistle, with Defoe adding undeserved gloss to the scoreline with another late goal.

That painful denial of a trip to Wembley spurred the Clarets on to make the play-off final and ultimately gain promotion to the Premier League, but they will still be looking for revenge over a Spurs team who were incredibly fortunate to make the final of the competition.

Having won their opening four matches of the league season Spurs have stumbled of late with defeats to Chelsea and Manchester United, but they will look at the visit of Burnley as an excellent chance to get back to winning ways. And despite those two losses, Spurs have been one of the more impressive teams in the Premier League this season and a home win is fully expected.

Spurs' pacy attack will be far too much for a Burnley team yet to find their feet away from home, but a goal might at least be forthcoming for the Clarets, which would be a helpful boost ahead of their next away trip down the M65 to Ewood Park.

Prediction: Tottenham 3-1 Burnley.

This article was written for FansOnline Burnley.

Injuries take gloss off Sunderland win

Although a third successive home win in the Premier League arrived on Saturday when two David Nugent goals sealed a 3-1 win over Sunderland, it’s not been a good week for Burnley FC.

First we learned that Chris McCann would miss three months of action after damaging knee ligaments during the game, then we crashed out of the Carling Cup at Oakwell, where we haven’t won in over 75 years, and Martin Paterson also tore his knee cartilage in the game and he too will miss three months of action. Out of a cup competition to lower league opposition and two crucial members of the first team out until Christmas. Great stuff. Fortunately goalkeeper Brian Jensen, stretchered off in the first half at Barnsley as Paterson was, looks like he’ll be fit for the next match.

There’s also rising discontent at the way the local police are handling the upcoming match with Blackburn Rovers. Burnley fans will only be allowed on to the game if they travel on official coaches from Turf Moor, meaning dozens of exiled Clarets will have to travel past Ewood, to get on an antiquated coach, sit inside Ewood for three hours before kick-off, be locked in for at least an hour after the game, sit on the coach for hours in traffic to get back to Burnley, to then drive back along the M65, past Blackburn, to get home. It’s an absolute farce.

7000 Burnley fans made their own way to Ewood the last time played them and there was no trouble. The police are over-reacting to the Cockney idiots that wrecked the West Ham-Millwall match a few weeks ago. Many Clarets, including myself, will be put off attending the match because of the draconian measures. It’s a lot of hassle to go to when you can watch the match in your own front room on telly, or go to the pub.

Some fans are even proposing walking to the match in protest, possibly raising money for Accrington Stanley in the process. It would be fantastic to see Burnley and Blackburn fans walking hand-in-hand (well, maybe not that far) to Ewood. It’d be a real two fingers up to the police who seem to think treating us all like criminals will ensure the event passes without trouble.

Hopefully we will pick up our first away goal and point at Spurs on Saturday, but it’ll be a big ask after their impressive start to the season. Their attack is pacy and that’s the type of play we generally struggle against. Chris McCann will be a huge miss for us. He’s been virtually ever-present for the last three seasons and has developed into a highly influential midfielder. Whoever takes his place has big shoes to fill.

But with Nugent likely to step into the side, we have a new talisman, and a fresh brightness and sharpness about our play when he gets involved.

This article was written for FansOnline Burnley.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Lily Allen to quit music?

Lily Allen has threatened to quit music.

In news that will please anyone forced to listen to Radio One all day, the pop princess says that she has “no plans to make another album” when her contract with EMI comes to an end. Both of the singer’s albums so far have gone to Number One.

On a blog post that has now been taken down, Allen added: “I don’t (at this point) stand to profit from legislation. Except future purchases of previously recorded material (which wont be much).

A spokesperson confirmed that the blog post was written by Allen, but denied that she will quit music. They said: “She is not quitting pop music.” Which seems pretty emphatic to us.

Allen has found herself in the news lately over her controversial views on the filesharing debate, with many condemning her for her opinion, but with others coming out in defence of her.

It remains to be seen whether Allen’s UK tour at the end of the year will be her swansong as a musician, but it is thought that she wants to go into acting, following her father, Keith.

This article was written for TMM.

Paterson out for three months

Martin Paterson has torn the cartilege in his knee, meaning he will miss three months of action.

The striker twisted his knee off the ball in Tuesday night's defeat at Barnsley, and may now not be available until the new year.

An operation on the knee last night confirmed the damage.

"We were hoping he had just nicked it, which would have been two to four weeks, but it's the worst-case scenario and coming on the back of the news of young Chris McCann it's a body blow for both the players, first and foremost," manager Owen Coyle told Sky Sports News.

"That's my concern. It's not great news when your young players, who I believe are top players, get injuries and our thoughts are with the players.

"It will be hard for them to take, but we will make sure they get the best rehabilitation and support system in place and I do know they will both come back bigger and stronger and better players for the football club.

"They are both young players who have been terrific since I have been at the club and both of them have got a big role to play when they come back."

Paterson and McCann will now both be absent from first team duties for at least two months each, leaving Burnley with a big hole in their squad. However, their absence will give players such as Steven Thompson, Jay Rodriguez, Joey Gudjonsson and Kevin McDonald a chance to taste Premier League action.

The dead leg suffered by Brian Jensen at Bransley is not expected to keep him out long-term, and the giant goalkeeper may even be available for Saturday's trip to Spurs.

This article was written for FansOnline Burnley.

Girls: Album

There’s something charmingly honest about Californian duo Girls that disarms most possible criticisms. The pair freely admit being on pills for most of the recording process of the record (tellingly, the band’s website, listed on their MySpace page, points straight to a drugs website. The band do not have their own website). They are happy to tell stories about their chequered past, both in interviews and in their songs, and they evidently wear their broken hearts on their sleeves. It’s often painful listening to their lovelorn tales.

Life has been eventful for Christopher Owens (writes and plays the songs) and Chet White (does whizzy production stuff). Owens was born into and brought up in a cult – a real one, none of this pretendy, take a few drugs and lark about ones – and only escaped, to Texas, when he was 16. There, he rebelled. It took being rescued by a millionaire philanthropist – yes, really - to save Owens from an almost certain drugs-related death. Moving to San Francisco calmed him down, but a nasty break-up knocked him back and gave him lots of songwriting material. Many of the tracks on Girls’ cleverly titled début, Album (take that, search engines!), tell the tales of this split. After that, he met White, a fellow slacker, and the pair started making music together. The rest, as they, say, is history.

Girls are a schizophrenic band. One moment they’re crooning modern Beach Boys lullabies (Lust For Life) and the next they’re creating epic yet somehow sparse soundscapes of ice cool next-to-nothingness (stand out track Hellhole Ratrace).

Opening track Lust For Life is a contender for single of the year, Owens playing with the idea of homosexuality in the opening line: “Oh, I wish I had a boyfriend / I wish I had a loving man in my life”. The juxtaposition of the jaunty guitar lines and Owens’ upbeat vocals with the oh-so-sad lyrics combine magnificently, and the song rushes past before it’s barely started, “ba ba ba” backing vocals transporting you to an LA beach. In truth, it could do with another verse-chorus repeat at the end to pad it out, but as it is, its two and a half minutes of angst-filled joy stick in the mind for most of the rest of the record.

“I know I’ve made mistakes / but I’m asking you to give me a break,” pleads Owens on next track Laura, one of a handful of songs on Album that could represent musical love letters to his former lover. And the heartbreak just keeps on coming. Weirdly, it makes you feel better about your own lost and unrequited loves, as they can’t possibly have been as brutal as the one that inspired this record. Or maybe Owens’ soul is just too open. It’s an honour to be allowed a peek inside his heart.

Jangly guitars lie over most tracks, adding to the Beach Boys comparison, but it’s really the humanity contained in these twelve songs that make the similarity between the two bands clear. Although I’m pretty sure the Beach Boys never wrote a song with a title as provocative and sweary as Big Bad Mean Mother Fucker.

They’re capable of going all shoegazey and JAMCish when the mood takes them though. Epic centrepiece Hellhole Ratrace takes the efforts of Glasvegas and the Big Pink to create a similar sound and makes them look really rather silly, such is the quality of Girls’ songwriting.

If you like the faux-bohemianism of MGMT, you’ll love this even more. It all adds up to one of the year’s most immersive début albums.

This review was written for TMM.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Charlotte Hatherley: New Worlds

It’s pretty fair to say that Charlotte Hatherley has achieved a lot. Having bolstered Ash’s line-up to a foursome while she was still at school, she stayed with them for almost nine years until leaving at the start of 2006 to pursue other projects. At the time it was thought it was Hatherley’s decision to leave, but since the ‘amicable’ split, it has been revealed that the three original members had asked her to leave. The true reason behind the split is still shrouded in mystery.

On the basis of this, Hatherley’s third album, it could be that Tim Wheeler and co. were simply scared of her upstaging them. New Worlds is a record that has a very definite sheen of quality all over it. Gone all the rough edges of her début Grey Will Fade, and the sound is a huge leap forward from the lo-fi and somewhat dreary and unformed follow-up The Deep Blue. Playing live with Bat For Lashes has certainly helped Hatherley develop her own sound; New Worlds is the album of a woman sure of herself and ready to move forward in her career. Plus, playing with someone with such obvious pretentions to Kate Bush’s throne has helped Hatherley distance herself from the comparisons between herself and Bush.

Hatherley is surprisingly still just 30 – she seems to have been around forever – but instead of having a major panic and an early midlife crisis (as I plan to when I hit the big 3-0), she’s created one of the finest British alt-pop records of the year. It’s bright, shiny and bold, with Hatherley’s often throaty vocals clearly having been worked on by the guitarist. Now her voice is sweet and sugary, but still with enough variation to be punch when it’s needed, as on first single White, and possible next single Full Circle, which contains one of the dirtiest, fuzziest basslines of the year so far.

The instrument of choice for most of the album is, of course, still the guitar, with Hatherley not stepping out of her comfort zone too much. iTunes refuses to give the album a genre, labelling it ‘unclassifiable’ but in reality the record is unashamedly poppy. Hatherley remembers her way around a gigantic hook well from her days with Ash, although she uses them sparingly rather than drowning the often subtle music in them. It’s good to see her stick to her guns instead of going down the obvious electro route popularised by Pixie La Boots, or whoever is in vogue this week.

Hatherley has for the first time found her quality control button as well. The album doesn’t sag in the middle, due to an excellent running order that fills the the mid-section of the record with short sharp tracks that pass well before their welcome is outstayed. Only towards the end of the ten tracks does attention wander, but in today’s now now now gimme gimme gimme generation, that in itself is a triumph. And the sudden end to closing track Wrong Notes leaves you wanting more.

New Worlds is an exciting step for one of Britain’s brightest talents. Up next for Hatherley: cracking the mainstream.

This review was written for TMM.

Paterson to undergo knee op

Burnley FC's medical team have been quick to react to Martin Paterson's knee injury in last night's Carling Cup exit at Barnsley, with the striker set to undergo an exploratory operation tonight to assess the extent of the damage.

Another long-term injury, after Chris McCann was ruled out for two months with media ligament damage, would be a huge blow to the Clarets after a promising start that has seen them win three of their opening six matches in the Premier League.

However, David Nugent's double in Saturday's win over Sunderland would cushion the blow if Paterson was to be ruled out for any lengthy period of time, and Jay Rodriguez and Steven Thompson, who was absent from the Barnsley match with a bug, are both also waiting in the wings for their first chances of the season to impress.

Meanwhile, it is thought that the dead leg suffered by Brian Jensen at Oakwell is not serious, and manager Owen Coyle is hopeful his goalkeeper will be available for Saturday's trip to Spurs.

He told the official club website:"As we thought, Brian suffered a dead leg and I am hopeful he could be fit for the weekend.

"But the news on Martin Paterson is a little worse. He has tweaked a cartilage and will undergo an operation tonight (Wednesday), at which point we will know further how long he will be sidelined for."

This article was written for FansOnline Burnley.

Barnsley 3-2 Burnley

Burnley crashed out of the Carling Cup on a disastrous evening at Oakwell that saw Martin Paterson and Brian Jensen stretchered off injured and their Roses rivals Barnsley go through to the fourth round after a 3-2 win.

The Clarets made several changes from Saturday's 3-1 win over Sunderland with Kevin McDonald and Joey Gudjonsson competing in midfield for the right to replace the injured Chris McCann for Saturday's trip to Tottenham Hotspur, and Richard Eckersley, Christian Kalvenes, Chris Eagles and Fernando Guerrero all coming in to the starting eleven.

But it was Steven Fletcher, the goal hero from the previous round at Hartlepool, who opened the scoring as he finished powerfully from 18 yards. Barnsley struck back immediately though, Jon Macken bundling home after Iain Hume had headed against the woodwork.

Paterson and Jensen were both taken off on stretchers before Anderson de Silva thumped Barnsley ahead from 25 yards just before half-time.

Burnley replaced Richard Eckersley with Michael Duff at the break and pulled level minutes into the second half. Barnsley couldn't cope with Guerrero's mazy run and the Ecuadorian slid a cross in for Eagles to tap in the equaliser.

But Hugo Colace headed home de Silva's cross with fifteen minutes to go to seal a Premier League scalp for Barnsley and to knock Burnley out of the competition they almost reached the final of last season.

This article was written for FansOnline Burnley.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Big Pink to ‘out-Muse Muse’

The Big Pink say they play to ‘out-Muse Muse’ when they support the Devon trio on their November arena tour.

The London duo, whose debut album A Brief History Of Love we thoroughly enjoyed, will play six giant gigs with the current album chart-toppers.

“I remember seeing Muse when I was way, way younger and I’m pretty sure Coldplay were supporting and look what happened to them,” Milo Cordell told NME.COM.

We have never played somewhere so big in our lives, we are pretty freaked out by it. It’s a long way from playing what we’re used to, but we are psyched and are going to try to out-Muse Muse.

Tickets are sold out for the gigs, but you can catch the Big Pink on their own headline tour next month.

This article was written for TMM.

Dizzee Rascal: ‘Shakespeare is violent’

The always entertaining Dizzee Rascal has given an interview to BBC Radio 5 Live in which he lambasts people who criticise rap music over its apparently violent undertones.

The 2003 Mercury Music Prize winner said: “I’ve seen Macbeth and it’s about killing and witches and all that. Shakespeare is in the curriculum and it’s violent! You can talk about rappers being responsible but at the end of the day they are trying to entertain. It’s about the artistry that rap is about.”

Dizzee, real name Dylan Mills, also defended himself over the infamous interview on BBC’s Newsnight programme (see video below). He said: “I was happy with it. Some other people were not happy with it, but I was all right with it.

Mills also spoke of the resentment he feels others have of his success, claiming: “I know my roots but I fly, I’m not a tree by the way, so, I don’t have to stay planted in the ground. I do what I want. The whole thing about the grime scene and me selling out, well, OK, I don’t make music that sounds like it did seven years ago but kids today do and a lot of them are doing what I was doing six years ago so haven’t I left something positive behind?”

Dizzee Rascal’s fourth album Tongue N’ Cheek, containing the smash hit singles Dance Wiv Me, Bonkers and Holiday, is out now.

This article was written for TMM.

Foo Fighters to release Greatest Hits

Foo Fighters have announced details of a best of compilation to be released this Winter.

Arguably America’s finest singles rock band over their 14-year career, the band are well due a collection of their singles. The record will be released November 2.

It will feature two new songs, Wheels and Word Forward. Wheels, a typically jaunty and meaty slab of riffy rock, will be released as a single next week (September 29).

Full tracklisting for the album, titled Greatest Hits, is as follows:

All My Life
Best Of You
The Pretender
My Hero
Learn To Fly
Times Like These
Monkey Wrench’
Big Me
Long Road To Ruin
This is a Call
Skin and Bones
Word Forward
Everlong (acoustic)

Obviously fans will own all the tracks except the new ones, and non-fans can listen to all the old ones on Spotify, but hey, it’ll be a good CD for the car, no?

This article was written for TMM.

Barnsley v Burnley match preview

Burnley were boosted this week by the return of skipper Steve Caldwell to training, but as one Claret left the tratement table, another finds himself confined to it.

Chris McCann will be out of action for at least two months with knee ligament damage, and that means Joey Gudjonsson and Kevin McDonald will scrap for his place in the team at Barnsley tonight. David Nugent is cup-tied after appearing in an earlier round of the competition for parent club Portsmouth, but Michael Duff will inch closer to a retun to the first team with another start.

Owen Coyle will be keen to progress in the competition after last year's run, but he is unlikely to risk important first team players such as Brian Jensen, Clarke Carlisle, Graham Alexander and Robbie Blake. Steven Fletcher scored twice from the bench against Hartlepool in the last round and he may be given the chance to add to his tally with a rare start up front. Martin Paterson could be given another chance to prove himself with Nugent likely to take his place for Saturday's trip to Tottenham, or Coyle could give a run out to Steven Thompson or Jay Rodriguez.

Fernando Guerrero is expected to make another start on the left flank as he closes in on his debut start, and Chris Eagles might be given a chance to sharpen up his fitness.

Coyle might well totally replace the back five from Saturday's win over Sunderland, with three of his summer signings still yet to make an appearance in a league match: David Edgar, Richard Eckersley and Brian Easton. Diego Penny is expected to start in goal while Christian Kalvenes, absent from first team action since the opening day defeat at Stoke, may get a game at left back.

Barnsley have former Burnley forward Andy Gray cup tied as well as Nathan Doyle, and Daniel Bogdanovic, Jamal Campbell-Ryce and Emil Halfredsson are all likely to miss out through injury. Bogdanovic has scored all three of Barnsley's goals in this year's competition so far and he would be a big miss for Mark Robins' team.

The Yorkshiremen have made a poor start to this season, lying in the relegation zone with just five points from their opening eight games. However, four of those points have come from their last two games as their form looks to turn a corner.

Barnsley have former Preston man Jon Macken in their ranks but the striker is without a goal so far this season.

An away win seems inevitable, but Barnsley had a famous cup run under previous boss Simon Davey, and they will be keen to add Burnley to their list of recent Premier League scalps. But Burnley's second string know that this is their chance to impress manager Owen Coyle and they should be too good for a side who look likely to be relegated this season unless they improve markedly.

Prediction: Barnsley 1-3 Burnley

This article was written for FansOnline Burnley.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Who should write the England 2010 World Cup song?

So, the other week, Fabio Capello and his men completed qualifying for next summer’s football World Cup in South Africa with a simple win over Croatia. And now the uninteresting bit (qualifying for the thing) is out of the way, we can look forward to the World Cup Finals, the best part of which, of course, are the football songs.

Embrace did the last official offering with the turgid World At Your Feet, and the Enemy are the first band to throw their hat into the ring, with lead singer Tom Clarke telling the Sun: “I’d like to get Peter Crouch to rap. We’d let him to his robot dance too. I reckon Wayne Rooney could be an angry rapper. We’d do it just so we could say, ‘We’ve recorded the official England song’.”

Valiant reasons indeed from the Coventry band…

Obviously a Three Lions re-re-re-re-release is inevitable and Keef Allen might be persuaded to reform Fat Les with Alex James of Blur, but who else might be in contention? Noel Gallagher might see it as an ideal opportunity to launch his solo career. Or Liam might get his remaining bandmates together and release something new as Oasis. Elbow know their way around a big chorus and could be tempted to give it a go.

Or there could be someone less obvious. Morrissey could put the murmurings of him being a racist to bed at last by becoming a figurehead for English football fans. Radiohead could do something typically uplifting and perfect for terrace-chanting. Girls Aloud could team up with Xenomania to record a pop opus that would blast away the opposition.

What would you like to see become England’s official World Cup song? Let us know below.

This article was written for The Music Magazine.

McCann out until Christmas

Burnley fans feared the worst when Chris McCann limped off following a challenge from Sunderland defender Michael Turner in Saturday's 3-1 victory over the Black Cats, and scans have shown that they were correct to be worried.

McCann has damaged the medial ligaments in his knee, meaning it will be at least two months before he can play again, with him unlikely to be available until Christmas.

The news is a blow to Owen Coyle, who has built his midfield around the young Irishman since his arrival at the club two years ago.

Coyle told the club's official website: "It's fair to say that Chris has suffered a bad injury and I would expect a minimum of two to three months.

"He has damaged his medial ligament and it will certainly be a couple of months before he is back. It's very unfortunate and a body blow for Chris. That's where my thoughts are because whenever he has been available he has been in my team.

"I think the world of him, both as a player and a lad and the good thing is he is at such a young age that he will come back better and stronger for it."

McCann's injury opens the door for Joey Gudjonsson and Kevin McDonald to stake their claims for regular first team football, and they may both be given their chance to shine in tomorrow night's third round Carling Cup clash with Roses rivals Barnsley at Oakwell.

This article was written for FansOnline Burnley.

Burnley 3-1 Sunderland

David Nugent's brace from the bench completed a 3-1 win for Burnley, stretching their run of home wins to nine, and lifting them into the top half of the Premier League.

First he fired a bullet header past Craig Gordon after a flowing Burnley move, and with just minutes to play he sealed the points with a delicious left-footed curling effort from eighteen yards into the top corner.

Sunderland had been the better side until Owen Coyle swapped Steven Fletcher and Martin Paterson for Chris Eagles and Nugent, while Steve Bruce's changes opened up acres of space for Wade Elliott to exploit fully.

The visitors started the better side, as Darren Bent and Fraizer Campbell both stretched a Burnley back four that had conceded seven goals in their previous two matches. But against the run of play the hosts got a slice of luck. Elliott ran clear down the channel and into the area, but Anton Ferdinand brought his run to an end by clattering him unnecessarily to the ground. Referee Chris Foy had no hesitation in giving the penalty on the advice of his linesman and Graham Alexander stepped up to smash the penalty straight down the middle.

Burnley enjoyed their best spell of the half after the goal, but an injury to Chris McCann meant a change of shape interrupted their flow as Joey Gudjonsson came on. And they switched off just before half-time to allow the Black Cats to equalise.

Tyrone Mears did everything right in showing Andy Reid inside onto his weaker right foot, but no tackle was forthcoming from any Clarets defender, and Reid slipped the ball through the gap between static Burnley defenders Clarke Carlisle and Andre Bikey for Darren Bent, who did what Rooney, Owen, Berbatov, Saha and Jo couldn't do at Turf Moor, in lifting the ball over Brian Jensen in the Burnley goal to carry on his hot streak for his new club.

The goal shocked the home fans, who hadn't seen their team concede at Turf Moor since March. But they rallied at the break and grew into the second half, playing some sparkling football. Nugent's introduction provided an extra cutting edge and he started the move that led to Burnley's second goal. He cushioned a header down to Chris Eagles who made progress down the flank before laying the ball back to Tyrone Mears. Mears played Elliott in and his cross was pin-perfect for Nugent to crash home his first Burnley goal, on his home debut.

The closest Bruce's team came to a leveller was when Lorik Cana floated a header just over the bar, and even Kenwyne Jones couldn't provide the spark to spur them on after his introduction.

And Burnley put the game away when Michael Turner stood off Nugent after a rampaging run from Elliott through the middle, the former England international starting the celebrations early with a great finish across Gordon.

The win is Burnley's third of the season already as they continue to prove the critics wrong. Away from home they looked like lost boys against Chelsea and Liverpool, but at home, in front of 18,000 vociferous Lancastrians, they are a different proposition. They moved the ball swiftly and looked dangerous every time they attacked a nervy Sunderland defence. And at the back, bar the shaky defending for the Sunderland goal, Carlisle and Bikey repelled everything Bruce's men could come up with.

In contrast, Sunderland looked a different side to the team that thrashed Hull 4-1 last week, and Bruce will be forced into making changes for their next game. But Burnley look on, with hope rather than fear of their first forays into the Premier League.

This article was written for FansOnline Burnley.

Sam Isaac - Bears

Sam Isaac has obviously been listening to Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. The similarities between Sam Duckworth and namesake Isaac are almost endless. They both have a desperate, yearning quality to their voice, and rely on jaunty, bouncy melodies to help them get their points across. But whereas Duckworth’s clumsy political mantras led to him calling his debut Confessions of a Bohemian Teenager, Isaac could have easily called his debut Confessions of a Comfortably Well-off and Actually Quite Uninteresting Yoof With Not That Much To Say.

There’s nothing offensively bad about Bears, it’s just that there’s nothing exciting or original present in it. Parts are lifted straight from Duckworth’s material, from Snow Patrol, from Frank Turner, and from pretty much any emo-ish male singer-songwriter you can think of.

It’s an album to listen to on a Sunday afternoon, lazing around in bed with your partner (who, like you, doesn’t like music all that much, but will listen to it because it’s the done thing, yah?) reading the papers. Probably the Telegraph.

It’s gentle and melodic and contains bits you can sing along to and bits you can nod your head along with and bits you could even have a bit of a boogie to. But it is undoubtedly a record you’re unlikely to recommend to friends (not cool ones anyway) and liking Sam Isaac is never going to be something to shout from the rooftops.

But it’s pleasant enough. Music like this never hurt anybody, never did anything to offend anyone, but it just doesn’t inspire, it doesn’t excite, it doesn’t make you think, “Wow, I want to be like him”, which all good music should. Annoyingly, the best track present (‘Fire, Fire’) opens up with a direct rip off of Snow Patrol’s ‘You’re All I Have’, which ruins it from the very beginning, even if it is ever so slightly catchier than the other tracks on the album.

And it’s samey. I’d like to hear Isaac give something different a bash, have a go at a big rocky track, or a slow, mournful ballad, rather than just aiming straight down the middle of the road, which, incidentally, is a really quite dull road with no twists or turns or accidents or low-flying aeroplanes on it, in fact, with nothing on it to distinguish it from millions of other roads out there.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve genuinely enjoyed Bears the few listens I’ve given to it. But I can’t imagine any time in the future where I think to myself, “Ooh, yeah, I really fancy listening to Sam Isaac”. It’s just going to be too easy to wipe him from my mind. He’s so forgettable I can’t picture his face five minutes after looking him up, and his music isn’t memorable enough to make a lasting impact.

This review was written for Muso's Guide.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Burnley v Sunderland match preview

Owen Coyle must decide whether or not to change his eleven after two heavy defeats at Chelsea and Liverpool.

He has Michael Duff available for the first time this season, but the defence is likely to remain unchanged with any changes taking place further up the pitch, and Duff may not even force his way into the squad.

Wade Elliott, Graham Alexander and Martin Paterson are probably the three most vulnerable players after some thoroughly ordinary performances, with Chris Eagles, David Nugent and Kevin McDonald all pushing hard for their first starts in the league of the season.

Coyle is still without his skipper, with former Sunderland man Steven Caldwell still inching towards a full recovery from his groin injury.

Sunderland have problems in goal with both Marton Fulop and Craig Gordon carrying knocks, but one of them, probably Gordon, will be fit enough to start the match. Lee Cattermole is the only other doubt from the Black Cats' first team.

Darren Bent has started the season on fire for his new employers with four league goals already, and he is the man the Clarets back line must keep quiet if they are to keep up their incredible home record at Turf Moor. Burnley have won their last eight at home, only losing at the ground twice this year, and not conceding a goal since March. Kenwyne Jones will provide an aerial threat, partnering Bent up front.

Lorik Cana has made an impressive start in midfield for Sunderland and if Cattermole does miss out he will be under pressure to have a good game in the middle of the park, without adding to his three yellow cards so far this season. The Black Cats have a wealth of options in midfield, with Andy Reid, Kieran Richardson and Steed Malbranque all capable of playing either out wide or in the middle.

Defensively, new Cats boss Steve Bruce - who spent four years on Burnley's books as a youngster, he revealed this week - has strengthened extensively this season, although both John Mensah and Paulo Da Silva are yet to break into the first team. Hull's Michael Turner was the main addition, and he will partner Anton Ferdinand at the heart of the Mackem back line, with former Burnley loanee Phil Bardsley and George McCartney the men likely to start at full-back in a basic 4-4-2 formation.

Burnley may rejig their team, but Coyle is expected to stick with the 4-5-1 shape that has garnered his team a 100% record from their first two home games this season. Sunderland have one win, at Bolton, and one defeat, at Stoke, on the road this season, and they will be looking to build on their finest start to a Premier League campaign in years.

Burnley are the lowest scorers in the division so far, but they have made use of their goals, with Robbie Blake netting the winner against Manchester United and Wade Elliott bagging the goal that sunk Everton. If Burnley do win tomorrow in front of the SKY Sports cameras, they will become the first Premier League team to win their oprning three home games of the season since Blackburn Rovers, of all teams, 17 years ago.

Matches between the two have been memorable in recent years, with Stan Ternent marking his last game in charge of Burnley in front of conga-ing Sunderland fans, and Burnley putting up a gallant fight as Sunderland won 3-2 in a pulsating Stadium of Light fixture to take a giant stride towards promotion two years ago.

A point would suit both teams as they look to consolidate strong starts to the season, but Sunderland could have too much firepower for the Clarets, with Bent likely to continue his hot streak.

Prediction: Burnley 1-2 Sunderland

This article was written for FansOnline Burnley.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Girls to tour next month

Californian duo Girls are to spend next month converting the UK masses to their wondrous brand of summery yet dark pop rock.

We like them a lot.We reckon they’re a modern Beach Boys, with twinges of fellow loved-by-TMM bands the XX and the Big Pink. In short – pretty bloody brilliant.

Those tour dates in full:

09 Nottingham, Bodega Social Club
10 Liverpool, Korova
11 Manchester, Night & Day
13 Glasgow, Captain’s Rest
14 Edinburgh, Sneaky Pete’s
15 Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
16 Bristol, The Cooler
17 Birmingham, Academy 3
19 Brighton, The Albert
20 London, Hoxton Bar & Kitchen
21 Tunbridge Wells, Forum
23 Cardiff, SWN Festival

Tickets are from here and are just six of your English pounds for the non-London dates. £6! That’s a bargain if ever there was one. See you down the front.

The band also play the Lexington in that London town next Monday (21 September) with an instore at the Rough Trade East shop the following day. You’ll be able to buy the band’s tremendous debut record Album a week before release at the Rough Trade East show. To whet your appetite, you can watch the video for their stonking single Lust for Life here.

This article was written for TMM.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Burnley: Glad to be back home

The disappointing thing about the 4-0 battering we took at the hands of Liverpool was less the scoreline, and more how utterly inept our performance was. Defensively we were very shaky, we offered nothing going forward, and the midfield barely completed a pass all afternoon. Although defeats, and heavy defeats at that, were somewhat expected at Chelsea and Liverpool, the manner of our capitulation in both games is slightly worrying.

But with the opening five games out of the way, we can look forward to a run of games that is much more attractive. Six points is a tremendous return so far and there are plenty of winnable matches on the horizon. Four of our next six matches are at Turf Moor, where we have only lost twice this year, and a trip to fierce local rivals Blackburn Rovers is a match we can pick up a result from, too.

There are concerns, though. Goals will be a premium for many teams this season but our haul of just two strikes so far is paltry, and neither Steven Fletcher nor Martin Paterson, the two players we hoped would get the goals to keep us up, look like being anything near prolific.

But we have to look at the positives. We’re well placed in the table, and have an excellent chance of getting to around the 15 point mark by the end of next month. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t beat at least two of Sunderland, Birmingham, Wigan and Hull in the next few weeks.

Owen Coyle has showed a typical reluctance to change his team so far, and that could cost us in the long run. Only twelve players have started in the league so far this season. Our squad is much larger now, and the quality is relatively deep. We must start to utilise our resources effectively.

Away from home, our 4-5-1 shape hasn’t looked like yielding any positive results, albeit at three of the hardest grounds to go to in the league. I’d like to see us experiment with a new formation in next week’s Carling Cup tie at Barnsley. 4-4-2 could be the way to get more players involved in our attacks and to give us a chance of getting a foothold in matches on the road.

But first we have our first early kick off of the season in Saturday’s lunchtime match with Sunderland at Turf Moor. I spent the last three years in Sunderland at University, and saw the team play on a handful of occasions. Steve Bruce seems to have added quality as well as bite to their midfield in the form of Lorik Cana and Lee Cattermole, and Darren Bent has started in good goalscoring form.

But I think they’re still wobbly away from the Stadium of Light and we have a decent chance of picking up at least a point.

The players will be glad to get back in front of their own fans after three weeks away, and Coyle will be quick to remind them of their terrific recent form at the Turf. We laid the foundations for the fortress with unexpected wins over Manchester United and Everton, now we must build on them with a string of home wins over the coming weeks.

This article was written for Fanzone TimesOnline.

Vampire Weekend give second album details

New York art-rock band Vampire Weekend have announced details of their upcoming second album, but don’t get your diaries out just yet, it’s not out until next year.

The follow up to last year’s Gold-selling eponymous debut will be called, intiguingly, Contra, and it will be released via XL Recordings on January 11. Expect more African rhythms and jerky, addictive hooks.

The tracklisting will be:

1. Horchata
2. White Sky
3. Holiday
4. California English
5. Taxi Cab
6. Run
7. Cousins
8. Giving Up The Gun
9. Diplomat’s Son
10. I Think Ur A Contra

This article was written for TMM.

Lofty Heights - Eye Contact

Californian Greg Griffin has missed the boat with his Lofty Heights project somewhat. Debut single ‘Eye Contact’ is a golden slice of summery folk-pop, but with September rumbling on, summer’s time has gone.

It’s unfortunately scheduled, but that doesn’t stop it being one of the feel-good tracks of the year. Griffin’s vocals are honeyed and sweet without being sickly, and the “weeeee-wooooooo” backing noises don’t get irritating, as you might expect them to.

‘Eye Contact’ clocks in just over the three minute mark, pretty much perfect length for a short, sharp pop song, but you can’t help but wonder if the track’s appeal might become dimmed as the nights draw in and the days are filled with drizzle.

It would be a shame though. ‘Eye Contact’ is a glorious start, and Griffin is certainly worth keeping an eye on.

This review was written for Muso's Guide.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

David Gray: Draw The Line

David Gray was previously known as classic Radio 2 fodder, a harmless singer-songwriter with vaguely catchy melodies and a nice line in occasionally memorable lyrical couplets. He is of course best known for a song about a sci-fi series, and enjoyed his best period of success a good few years ago. He is now in his 40s and wears only beige clothes.

But what’s this? Draw The Line is David Gray 2.0 – all grooving psychedelic funk and acid house jam sessions, Radiohead-like repeated drum loops and yelped vocals, creating a feeling of utter ecstasy as he pushes the boundaries of music to the extreme, with one of the finest records ever made.

Did I have you going for a while there? Surprise surprise, it sounds the same as every David Gray record. Sweeping strings complement carefully plucked guitar and plodding piano and Gray’s monotonous, tuneless, meaningless warbling. It’s such a lack of progression I was halfway through his previous album before I even realised Draw The Line had finished.

If you listen to this by choice, you should have your ears taken away. You don’t deserve them.

This review was written for TMM.

Beatlemania usurped by Vera Lynn

And so it turned out to be one of the biggest anticlimaxes of the year. The Beatles’ back catalogue, released, re-mastered and with new stickers on the front, was expected to dominate this week’s album charts. But it wasn’t to be, as another blast from the past outshone them.

Although a quartet of records by the Fab Four broke into the top ten, the top spot went to Forces’ Sweetheart Vera Lynn, with her latest Best Of collection, named after her most famous song, We’ll Meet Again.

The Beatles didn’t even get the highest new entry, which went to Jamie T’s sophomore release Kings & Queens, entering the chart at 2. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was the highest selling Beatles album, followed by Abbey Road, Revolver and Rubber Soul.

The new Cribs album Ignore the Ignorant acted as the meat in the Beatles’ sandwich, and David Guetta and Arctic Monkeys made up the top ten, charting at 3 and 4 respectively, in both albums’ third week of release.

Turns out masses of free advertising from the BBC didn’t make that much difference after all.

This article was written for TMM.

Coyle must consider a reshuffle

Although there's no reason to panic after the wholly expected pair of away defeats to Liverpool and Chelsea, there are lessons we can learn about the way we set the team up away from home.

In the two home matches so far, 4-5-1 has worked a treat. Chris McCann and Wade Elliott have both got forward enough to support the lone striker Martin Paterson, and Robbie Blake and Steven Fletcher have seen plenty of the ball on the flanks. Graham Alexander, in the holding role, has had relatively quiet afternoons, allowing him to collect the ball from the back four and distribute it freely.

But away from home, the gap between midfield and attack is vast. On the rare occasions we've had possession in the last two matches we've wasted it; partly due to poor passing, but more because we've had a lack of options. Elliott has rarely managed to find a Claret shirt, McCann has had no room to run with the ball, and Graham Alexander has found himself overrun with a lack of protection from the other midfielders. Blake and Fletcher have been pushed deep inside their own half, acting as secondary full-backs instead of as attacking threats.

We shouldn't read too much in to the results - Chelsea and Liverpool will be two of the top three for certain come May - but we do need to amend our gameplan ever so slightly next time we play away from home.

It's clear that the wide men aren't getting involved enough up the pitch. And neither are they protecting the defenders behind them enough. Therefore, we require either a change of personnel to more mobile players such as Guerrero and Eagles, who will get up and down the flank better, or, if we are insisting on sticking to 4-5-1, play with the wingers pushed up, and with a striker that can win flick ons to them.

I'm a huge fan of Graham Alexander, but I can't see how we can keep building a team around him against much superior opposition. For two of Liverpool's goals he was tracking the runner, but was never going to have enough pace to get back and make a challenge. Reverting to 4-4-2 and dropping Alexander may leave the defence more exposed, but it would also give us much more support in attack when we do have the football.

There are also nagging concerns about Martin Paterson. He's still goalless in seven appearances for club and country this season, and on Saturday missed another decent chance, although he worked Pepe Reina with two long-range efforts later in the game. Unfortunately the ball does not stick when it goes up to Pato. He's not strong enough to hold off Premier League defenders or quick enough to turn them. And we saw last season how much more effective he is playing alongside a bigger striker.

Steven Thompson is an intriguing option. Although his presence in the eleven tends to encourage the long, hopeful ball forward, his close control is good, and he showed promising signs of a previously untapped reservoir of goals towards the end of last season. nBut the addition of Fletcher in the summer, and now Nugent, seems to have knocked him out of Owen Coyle's thinking.

Coyle's loyalty to the players who were central to our promotion last term is admirable, but you fear unless he considers a change of shape or personnel on the road, many more afternoons chasing shadows may well be on the cards.

This article was written for FansOnline Burnley.

Doves, Florence and Dizzee head first Electric Proms announcements

This year’s BBC Electric Proms will feature headline performances from Dizzee Rascal and Doves.

The October series of shows kicks off with London rapper Rascal performing with a live band and a 16-piece orchestra at the Camden Roundhouse venue on October 21.

The following night sees Manchester rock band Doves play with London’s Bulgarian Choir, and American soul artists Smokey Robinson completes the initial announcements, performing at the venue on October 24.

A new initiative called BBC’s New Music Shorts will invite filmmakers to submit ideas to accompany performances by Metronomy and Florence and the Machine.

Tickets for the shows go on sale at 8am tomorrow morning (Wednesday 16 September).

This article was written for TMM.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Liverpool 4-0 Burnley

Yossi Benayoun fired a superb hat-trick to show his goalkeeper Pepe Reina that Liverpool are title contenders after all, in a comfortable 4-0 win over a poor Burnley team.

Reina had commented pre-match that Liverpool wouldn't win the league this season, and Benayoun in particular seemed intent on proving him wrong, with three goals and a further finish disallowed incorrectly for offside.

The game followed a similar pattern to Burnley's 3-0 defeat at Chelsea two weeks ago. The Clarets started brightly and again Martin Paterson had a good chance to put them ahead after ten minutes, but under pressure from Jamie Carragher, the striker couldn't find the corner, slotting just wide.

And as the first half went on, the more Liverpool dominated, with Benayoun opening the scoring just before the half hour. Burnley stood off him, and the Israeli turned Graham Alexander brilliantly on the edge of the area before placing his shot across Brian Jensen in the Burnley goal.

That goal acted as a wake-up call for Burnley, who then ejoyed their brightest period of the match. Paterson had two good long-range efforts well saved by Reina, before he was cynically blocked off in the area. At Turf Moor, the penalty award may have come, but it was never likely to at Anfield, despite it being an worthwhile shout.

And from a Burnley corner, Liverpool broke and put the game away just before half-time. Benayoun found room 25 yards from goal and hit a vicious, swirling shot that Jensen couldn't hold, and Dirk Kuyt was on hand to tap in the rebound. The Dane made amends for his error moments later though, diving full length to tip over Steven Gerrard's piledriver.

And it was Gerrard who destroyed any lingering hopes of a fight-back with a surging run through the heart of Burnley's back four, before squaring unselfishly despite close attention from Alexander, for the unmarked Benayoun to add his second of the game, and Liverpool's third. The former West Ham man had a third goal wrongly ruled out for offside before completing his hat-trick, finishing well from 12 yards from Andriy Voronin's good pass, after referee Lee Mason had inadvertently deflected a Burnley pass to a Liverpool player.

Burnley were a shadow of the side that completed a home double of wins over Manchester United and Everton, and they are still without a goal or a point in three away games in the Premier League. In contrast, Liverpool's season is just getting going, and they will be hopeful that this easy victory sets them up to take enough points off the lesser teams in the division - their achilles heel last season - to be in the mix come May.

This report was written for FansOnline Burnley.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Biffy Clyro announce new album details

Scottish post-rockers Biffy Clyro have announced details of their upcoming album release, as well as a preceding single.

Only Revolutions will be released on November 9, with single The Captain, a typically memorable and melodic yet crunchy rocker with “HIT” stamped all over it, available two weeks earlier.

Previous album Puzzle garnered huge critical success and launched Biffy into the mainstream. Only Revolutions, produced by Garth Richardson, should secure them as one of Brtain’s biggest and best rock bands. It will contain previous single That Golden Rule, and, surprisingly, last-year’s stand alone release M0untains, which charted at 5, becoming the band’s biggest ever hit.

The band head out on tour with Manchester Orchestra at the end of October.

This article was written for TMM.

Liverpool v Burnley match preview

The Clarets travel to Anfield with no fresh injury concerns from the international break, with Michael Duff and Steven Caldwell both inching close to returns, and David Nugent added to the squad on loan from Portsmouth.

Liverpool-born Nugent will be hoping to be included in the eleven after a promising debut in Tuesday's 4-0 victory over Accrington Stanley, but Owen Coyle is likely to stick with the same team that struggled to cope with a wonderful Chelsea performance two weeks ago.

Martin Paterson has struggled this season, with no goals yet in the league and a string of chances missed in two appeances for Northern Ireland in the break, but Coyle will give him another chance to prove himself. Local lad Jay Rodriguez may have forced himself into the squad with two well-taken goals against Stanley, but the addition of Nugent to the squad means he will find his opportunities this season limited.

Chris Eagles will be hoping for a first league start of the season after playing well in the Stanley win, but he will again have to settle for an appearance from the substitutes' bench.

Liverpool have problems in midfield after the international matches, with Javier Mascherano and Alberto Aquilani likely to miss out. That means Lucas Leiva will start in midfield, with Steven Gerrard asked to play a more withdrawn role than of late, dropping into the midfield instead of playing off Fernando Torres. Torres has had a difficult start to the campaign but he will look at the match as a chance to get some goals on the board. Dirk Kuyt may partner him with Yossi Benayoun or Albert Riera supporting from the flank.

In defence, Daniel Agger is still out with a back injury, and Fabio Aurelio may also miss out, with Emiliano Insua to come in to deputise. Benitez will have to choose between Kyrgiakos and Skrtel to partner Carragher at centre-back.

One of the hosts' biggest attacking threats will be the rampaging runs of England international Glen Johnson from full-back. The former Chelsea player already has two goals this season.

Rafa Benitez has bad memories of facing Burnley after the Clarets knocked his Liverpool team out of the FA Cup in his first season at the club in 2005, after Djimi Traore's comical own goal handed Steve Cotterill's side a 1-0 win at Turf Moor.

But Burnley are without a goal or a point in two Premier League games this season, and another defeat is expected, although Liverpool have conceded first in three of their four league games so far, and Burnley have won both games in which they have netted.

Liverpool are likely to have too much for the still-learning Burnley, with a similar result to the Stamford Bridge scoreline the likeliest result.

Prediction: Liverpool 3-0 Burnley.

This article was written for Fansonline Burnley.

Burnley: Accrington Stanley collapse is sad to see

Accrington Stanley's unpaid £300,000 tax bill, and the threat of the club being shut down if they fail to pay it, is a sad wake up call for Clarets fans.

Only this summer it was revealed that Burnley had to renegotiate transfer payments throughout last season as we simply couldn't afford to pay otherwise. Promotion did more than grant us a season in the spotlight, it secured our club's future for many years to come.

Stanley haven't been so lucky. But of course it's nothing new. The current incarnation of the club is its third, and unless the way the club is run is changed in future, and the people of the town get behind the failing team, it too will go under.

There's no doubt mistakes have been made by those previously in charge. Promotion back to the Football League in 2006 was lauded, and rightly so, as the club dreamed of future success. But their corner of East Lancashire is small, and the town is stuck between Blackburn and Burnley, who of course now both host Premier League teams. In all honesty, it seems unlikely that the town's people can sustain a Football League club, and in desperation to hold on to their status, they have spent beyond their means.

It used to be no surprise to see Clarets and Rovers fans mixing at Stanley on weekends when their own teams were not playing at home. But the credit crunch, coupled with Stanley asking for £15 admission these days, has meant that this is much less common, thus depriving the club of crucial walk-up fans.

The town has simply not managed to get behind its club in times of need. Stanley have regularly played matches on Friday nights to try and tempt Rovers and Clarets fans back to the Crown Ground, but the efforts have not paid off.

Burnley boss Owen Coyle's gesture to put out a Burnley team to play Stanley in a friendly at Turf Moor with all proceeds going to the stricken club was admirable, but you can't help but wonder what happens the next time Stanley are short of a few bob. They cannot keep relying on the fans of other clubs to bail them out of trouble. Stanley host Darlington on Friday night, and it's crucial that the people of Accrington go along to support their club.

The match itself was a good run-out for our squad players. Young striker Jay Rodriguez reminded Coyle of his talents with a well taken brace, and on-loan winger Fernando Guerrero also scored a good goal from a fine move. Chris Eagles, Richard Eckersley, Brian Easton and Kevin McDonald staked their claims for places in the first XI with solid performances but David Nugent, as expected, looked rusty, missing a handful of chances.

This article was written for Fanzone TimesOnline.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Futureheads to headline new North East festival

Sunderland’s finest indie-rock heroes the Futureheads will perform alongside a string of other North East bands at a new festival to be launched in Sunderland next month.

Split festival will take place at Ashbrooke Sports Club in Sunderland on Sunday October 4.

As well as the Futureheads, Field Muse and B>E>A>K will perform at the bash, with Frankie And The Heartstrings, Penetration and Sea Of Glass as further support.

As if that’s not enough, the PR bumf informs us that there will also be “a cornucopia of other festival treats including magicians, stilt walkers, fire eaters, comedians, face painters and fireworks”. Wowzers. Sounds great!

Richard Amundsen of B>E>A>K helped to organise the festival. He said: “Nothing really happens in Sunderland like this and it’s the time of the year where people often look for something different to do.”

Tickets are £19.50 (with under 8s admitted for nowt, so take the kids) and are available from a variety of North East venues including Ashbrooke Sports Club, Hot Rats Records, SUN FM, Sunderland Echo, RPM Newcastle and also from here.

More details on the event can be found at its website.

This article was written for TMM.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Arctic Monkeys: Humbug

Arctic Monkeys are living proof that you can’t judge a book by its cover, to mix a metaphor. Four skinny white blokes from Yorkshire, with one of the worst band names in recent memory, the Sheffield group could have easily turned out to be another Milburn (remember them? Thought not). Putting a scruffy, stubbly geezer smoking a fag on their debut album cover only served to back up any stereotypical thoughts about the foursome.

Question marks were then raised when Favourite Worst Nightmare, their follow-up to the hugely successful Whatever You Say I Am, That’s What I Am Not, struggled to live up to its groundbreaking predecessor.

However, looking back, Favourite Worst Nightmare was just a stepping stone to something much bigger, and much better. For the second time in four years, critics will be falling over themselves to declare Arctic Monkeys to be the defining British band of the decade. And I’m not about to buck that particular trend.

With hindsight, the turning point for the band was when founder member Andy Nicholson grew tired of the touring schedule and the fame that came with being an Arctic Monkey before leaving the band. The band took the opportunity to replace Nicholson with a meatier and darker bass player in the shape of Nick O’Malley, and Humbug is the sound of that decision coming to fruition where on Favourite Worst Nightmare the pieces of the jigsaw were still being taken out of the box and checked, never mind being slotted together.

As usual, the more memorable songs come in the form of ballads, strange for a group quickly enforcing their reputation as Britain’s greatest current rock band. Cornerstone is the latest from the Monkeys’ production line of memorable modern love songs, telling the tale of singer and main lyricist Alex Turner’s attempts to rid himself of his obsessional mooching over an ex-girlfriend by trying to get off with similar looking ladies. He also continues his fine form of getting brilliant words into choruses with the sublime ‘elongated’. And the closing couple of lines: “she said I’m really not supposed to but yes / you can call me anything you want” are genuinely heart-rending.

Secret Door is, for the first few listens at least, superior to Cornerstone, but while Cornerstone’s appeal grows as you read and interpret the lyrics, Secret Door’s fades. Lyrically, Humbug is by far AM’s most obtuse offering yet. Many of the tracks are so wordy they are unsingalongable (yep, I just made that up), which may disappoint fans used to the terrace anthems of the first two albums. But realistically, Turner had to move away from the ‘lads-on-the-piss’ theme of his earlier musings, and besides which, musically is where Humbug really excels, despite Turner’s excellent spelling lesson on Dangerous Animals.

Much has been made of the involvement of a certain Josh Homme of Queens Of The Stone Age, as the Monkeys strived for the rock sound that had so far eluded them. But rather than Homme taking over some of the knob-twiddling duties from Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford, the change in sound is due to the the fact that they’ve taken some time to think about what exactly they wanted to do next. Favourite Worst Nightmare was solid enough to set them up to take a brave step and Humbug is it. Even Crying Lightning, the lead single, does not shout out “HUGE HIT” – indeed its failure to break the top ten probably came as a relief to the band – but as a collection of songs, Humbug fits together far slicker than its predecessors.

It’s terrifically paced, bringing up the heat when it’s needed, and calming it down at just the right moments too. And by God does it grow on you. Humbug won’t reward you for sporadic listens, it won’t be helpful to dip in and out of, and listening on shuffle will just confuse and baffle. But Humbug takes Arctic Monkeys into the kind of territory their peers have struggled to cross into.

Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand and Kaiser Chiefs have all stuttered with their third albums, but Humbug contains none of the doubt or hesitancy of those bands’ recent work. Arctic Monkeys are too sure of themselves, too confident of their talents, and just too damn good to make the same mistakes.

Humbug may not be an obvious choice when the end of year top ten lists come up, but it does confirm Arctic Monkeys as by far the leading British band of their time.

This review was written for TMM.

Scotland set to leave out Clarets pair

Steven Fletcher and Graham Alexander both played well in Scotland's 2-0 weekend win over Macedonia, but an injury to goalscorer James McFadden has led to manager George Burley shuffling his pack for tonight's win-or-bust game against the Netherlands at Hampden Park.

The Clarets duo will both be dropped to the bench, according to the BBC, in order to allow Steven Naismith and Shaun Maloney to come in on the wings. Alexander will be replaced by either Paul Hartley or Gary Caldwell, who returns from suspension for the game. His brother Steven, Burnley's third Scotland player, is still not fit enough to be involved.

Elsewhere, an injury to Kyle Lafferty has opened the door for Martin Paterson to start for Northern Ireland at Windsor Park, despite missing two good chances from the bench in Poland on Saturday. Group leaders Slovakia are the visitors to Belfast and a victory for Northern Ireland would give them an excellent chance of qualifying for the play-offs at least.

Meanwhile, Andre Bikey will hope to force his way into the Cameroon team for their crunch game at home to Gabon in Group A of African qualifying. The Clarets' new defender would make his 16th appearance for his country if selected.

Good luck to all the Burnley players in international action tonight.

This article was written for FansOnline Burnley.

The Cribs: Ignore The Ignorant

What do you do when your indieness is in danger of affecting your ability to cross over successfully into the mainstream? What do you do when your famously rough sound is in need of a polish up? What do you do when you’re running out of ideas for the guitar-bass-drums combo?

Well, if you’re the Cribs, you sign up Johnny Marr. Reams of words have been written about the former Smiths guitarist joining the band, with the consensus seeming to be that he must be suffering a midlife-crisis to want to join the Wakefield punksters, and that his presence has stunted the band’s DIY ethics.

The band are of course not averse to bringing in surprising fresh blood – Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand produced their last record, Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever – but the inclusion of Marr as a full-time member has raised eyebrows across the world of indie.

But if you look past the obvious and peer deep into the depths of Ignore The Ignorant, you find that it’s a change that is for the most part, a very good thing for all parties.

Despite their dominance in their field, the band’s sound was growing tired, and they were due taking a risk. Marr’s presence has a steadying effect on them, with crashing punk-rock evolving into melodic indie tunage throughout the record.

Lead single Cheat On Me is probably the best indication of the new direction, a gigantic chorus, backed by chirpy, sharp guitar from Marr. Marr’s lines and ideas stand out all too clearly, with Ryan’s guitar simply keeping time, rather than providing the angled riffs of the first three albums. The development gives the singer the chance to actually sing, and it comes as a surprise how melodic his voice is when he puts his mind to it. We’ve grown used to Ryan’s vocals being delivered in yelps or screams or shouts or screeches, whereas on Ignore The Ignorant, we hear him caress his words out much more carefully.

It’s not all great though. The album fades terribly; with a handful of dire, dull ballads clouding what was previously shaping up to be one of the best British records of the year. Fortunately, the sheer brilliance of the first half of the album more than makes up for its later failures. We Were Aborted rhymes “masturbation” with “fellation” (amazing), City Of Bugs goes all epic and Dovesish (amazing) and Hari Kari is the band at their best (yep, amazing).

The danger was that this new found maturity would dim the band’s vitality, that decamping to LA to record the album with Nick Launey would render them impotent and unimportant. But in moving away from the bedroom project, lo-fi sound, the brothers have carved themselves out a new opening, a new position in the higher echelons of modern British rock music. At the peak of their powers, the Cribs are exactly the type of band that inspire kids to pick up guitars and form their own bands. And if the youngsters learn from the Cribs’ liberal, punk stylings too, then all the better.

Ignore The Ignorant opens doors for the Cribs. No longer will they be pigeonholed as part-timers, relying on tabloid exploits such as Ryan’s back injury at the NME Awards, to garner media attention. It might not be a record that will be fondly remembered for years to come compared to its predecessors, but it will be thought of as the first in a long line of albums made by the Cribs/Marr partnership, a pairing that looks like becoming ever more fruitful as the foursome grow together as a band.

This review was written for TMM.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Arctic Monkeys announce winter arena tour

Arctic Monkeys will embrace their step up to the big time with a tour of huge arenas in November.

The Sheffield rockers, who today celebrate the start of their second week atop the album charts with their third record, Humbug (which we adore), will begin in lucky Liverpool on Friday 13 November before wrapping up the tour in Dublin two weeks later.

The tour is set to be an indication of big the band can get. Other bands have turned to arenas as they look to expand their live sound, and then struggled for somewhere to go next. It will be interesting to see how Arctic Monkeys cope with the step up.

The dates in full:


13 LIVERPOOL, Echo Arena
16 NEWCASTLE, MetroRadio Arena
18 LONDON, Wembley Arena
22 NOTTINGHAM, Trent FM Arena
25 BELFAST, The Odyssey
26 DUBLIN, The O2

This article was written for TMM.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Jambothejourno seeks work: Part 5

After the blind hope that was the deluge of applications I submitted throughout August, the arrival of September has been a depressing realisation of the summer's passing. It's now three months since I finished my degree, and I'm no nearer to finding full-time work as a journalist. I've applied for around 25 jobs, had only one interview, and received only two or three rejection letters.

I'm starting to think I might be kidding myself that I'm in the right industry. Clearly, something is stopping employers from wanting to give me a job, although I'm lost as to what it could be. I have a decent amount of experience through work placements, I relished taking on projects during my degree, and I have four NCTJ industry standard qualifications, including shorthand, already under my belt, as well as my degree. However, I did hear that the Yorkshire Post job I applied for a couple of months ago had over 250 other people going for it.

As if to compound my misery, in the last fortnight or so there has been a distinct drying up of entry-level journalism posts coming up. One particular website sourcethatjob.com has just five listings – with none of them paid. It's pretty grim reading.

The local press is no happier a hunting ground either. The regional daily paper didn't have a single job listing in it this morning, and the twice-weekly town paper is down to around a third of a page on jobs each issue. And almost all of those are for carers or cleaners or factory packers.

A friend of mine who had been unlucky with redundancies over the last eighteen months or so, and has been in and out of work, recommended I sign on, but with the part-time bar work I'm doing I would only be eligible for around £10 a week support, depending on my shifts. And, for some reason, applying for Jobseekers' Allowance feels like admitting that I'm incapable of getting myself a job. Which of course I am, but I don't think I'm ready to admit it by taking that step yet.

There is one job I'm applying for – at the Isle of Man newspaper group. Leaving the country might seem a bit of an extreme reaction but I loved the place when I visited on holiday as a teenager. Rather than just e-mailing my CV and a covering letter in like most other jobs, I had to fill in an application form, although this is mostly just transferring sections from my CV onto the page.

Consequently, I've spent hours and hours researching the island and the company, as well as tweaking my supporting documentation note, to see if there's anything I can tell them to make me stand out. I've wanted every job I've gone for, give or take a couple of hit-and-hope type applications, but I really, really want this one. And if nothing comes of it, I genuinely don't know what I'm going to do next. Without wanting to sound too melodramatic, it feels like this is last chance saloon territory.

This piece was written for the Guardian.

Offset festival completes line-up

Clinic, Metronomy and Wild Beasts have been added to the line-up for this weekend’s Offset festival, in Hainault Forest, just outside that London town.

Wild Beasts will headline the Clash stage on Sunday night, while Clinic will perform before headliners the Horrors on the same evening. Metronomy headline the second stage on Saturday night.

Tickets are still available for the artrock event, from See, at a bargainous £55 for the weekend, with camping included.

Other bands on the bill include the Futureheads, the Slits, Future of the Left, the Chapman Family, The XX and Bombay Bicycle Club.

This piece was written for TMM.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Burnley: David Nugent move was a huge surprise

I honestly thought we'd done our deals. I couldn't see anyone leaving and I didn't think we'd be able to bring anyone in either. Hull's Daniel Cousin was the one the papers were linking us to, but that one was never likely once Benjani turned down a move to Humberside.

But Owen Coyle pulled a rabbit out of the hat in the form of a 24-year-old England international (and goal scorer). It's easy to forget that David Nugent picked up an international cap, scoring a stolen tap in on his one and only appearance against Andorra. This was before his move to Portsmouth though, where his career has stalled somewhat.

Nugent always looked a class above at Preston North End in the Championship, but his credentials at the top level were always going to be in doubt. He's not particularly quick, strong or prolific. But he is creative and a good finisher. I'd compare him to David Healy, in that he's not really had a fair crack at the Premier League whip. I imagine he will be a regular starter for us, so it will be interesting to see how he copes with the adjustment.

We almost signed Nugent from Bury a few years back, but he chose to go to North End instead. That makes him the third former North Ender in our squad, and he joins Graham Alexander as an ex-Lilywhite that turned us down earlier in his career. If he's half as successful as Alexander, we'll have made a cracking signing.

It's low risk for us too, signing him on a six-month loan. If he's doing well, we can sort out a permanent deal in the January transfer window, but if he struggles, we can get rid and replace him with someone else.

We saw on Saturday how tough goals are going to be to score away from home. Chelsea outclassed us in every department with one of the best displays of fluid attacking football I've ever seen. The midfield diamond sparkled, but the full backs were most impressive, bombing up and down the flanks, causing all sorts of problems for the men charged with tracking the runners inside. If it had been another team on the end of the hiding they dished out, I would have felt honoured to have seen it.

But despite the relative ease of the match for Chelsea, we could and should have led early on, and then who knows what could have happened. Martin Paterson missed a glorious chance just ten minutes in, and the match could have taken on a completely new complexion had he not pulled his shot wide.

We seem to have learned our lesson from the slack marking at set pieces at Stoke that cost us, but we must also start burying our chances, especially on the road. We won't get many. It's Anfield next for the Clarets, after an international break we'll hopefully come through unscathed.

It's never made any sense to me to have managers rushing around sorting deals the day before two weeks off, and it would be a disaster for us if Steven Fletcher or Martin Paterson came back from duty with an injury. But Liverpool are more likely to have someone pick up a knock playing for their country than us! They've looked shaky so far, the complete opposite to Chelsea's assured displays, and if we perform to our best, we could come up with another shock result.

This piece was written for Fanzone TimesOnline.