Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Cher Lloyd - 'X Factor Better when I was in it'

I love the media! (i.e. tabloid journalism) NOT!

1st it was their utter twisting of what Jeremy Clarkson said (see previous post) and now they are doing the same to Cher Lloyd.

For those that don't watch X Factor uk. She came runner up last year to Matt Cardle and has arguably had a more successful career so far since.

This is not about whether or not I like Cher or her music or anything like that (I don't)

This is about is how the media make a story out of absolutely nothing yet again and get it spread into almost every tabloid out there when it is not at all true.

The headline on MSN, Daily Mail, List, Female first, Metro, Unrealitytv, 4 music, Usspost, Heatworld and loads more states 'Cher Lloyd snubs this year XFactor saying 'It was much better last year when I was in it ''

Er, NO she did not!!!!

She said ' I don't think this years XFactor is particularly better than last years'
With no mention of herself whatsoever.

That is Completely different to 'It was better when I was in it' !

I posted this on on two of the above mentioned websites and guess what, within an hour of me posting the comments were REMOVED.

Tabloid MEDIA! Arghhhh

(Thats why I never read papers or watch the news other than the local paper ... )

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Funny CV review

Well, thought I would share this one as it's amusing and vaguely music / entertainment related as you will see!

I saw a Job advertised and in order to apply for it I had to upload my cv to a job site ( having made sure I unchecked any boxes allowing sharing to other sites). They obviously ignored this totally because I got a 'thank you for registering / sending your cv to us' from 4 other jobsites and a phone call from an agency wanting to sign me up.

As well as the above, I also got an email saying than you for sending us your CV for a free review (huh????!!! when was that?! I did not!)
'We will thoroughly examine your CV and send you afree appraisal within 24 hours.' Okkkkaaaaaayy.

So they did; I quote:  Thank you for requesting a FREE CV review from **Total-CVs**. We have given your CV a thorough appraisal..........

........and I got 6/10 layout, 6/10 content and 7/10 Language. (With very non specific generic comments about each, Which did not consider the profession the cv was aimed at in any way, for which their comments are actually WRONG)

Hmm I thought. I know it's not perfect but I was disappointed with my score as it's taken lots of years to get it about right. (not that teachers/lecturers need cv's much - it's all done by long winded repetitive appllication forms!)

So I had an idea.

I made up a new hotmail account and invented a person, based on David Walliams, who I called David Williamson.

I made a fake address and post code and phone number that don't exist. Anywhere.


I headed it properly but in each heading had things like:

'TV superstar'
'comic relief'
'massive tv personality'
as seen on TV
and wembly
and in the thames

about half a page long, badly written, loads of typos and no real information of any use.

So, after they gave it a 'thorough appraisal'...

I got an identical score, identical email, identical comment, ended the same of my 'real' one with: please send us lots of cash and we will do it properly for you.

So... the moral is, even David Walliams can't write CV's :-)
or: next time you write a CV, pretend to be someone else!....

er no, thats not it,

the moral is; people BLATENTLY LIE on websites , even seemingly professional ones and somehow get away with it. I'm sure it's actually not acceptable / illegal to advertise that you are going to do something and then don't. Isn't that called Lying? I thought there was a law against that in business?



Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Clarkson Effect

I am getting totally pissed off with the comments online about supporting Clarksons view on public sector workers (shoot them and their kids)
and also the opposite, about people angry at him for saying it.
heres the truth people

It's the freaking MEDIA!!!

He was on the show for an hour and the 20 minutes previous to the comment he was supporting the public sector. He said it as a 'Clarkson ism' i.e. he was BORED and was trying to be funny. OK it was a bit OTT but it was a freaking JOKE. He was bored with the boring politicians on the show and after sooo long he threw that in to liven things up. ( it worked!!)

So sad people on MSN who actually think he was serious need to go down the pub and get a grip on reality. What a bunch of sad idiots this country has become if you can't see past the shallow media bullshit thats gone on around this pointless story. and they banned him for a bbc QI because of this ! mad mad mad.

 I am a teacher / lecturer (with kids) and it shocked and annoyed me a bit but i looked up the truth! its not hard to do! get a grip and stop reacting before you find out what happened before you just overreact and exagerate other peoples comments. The media are having a laff with this one. deliberately. and lots of you are sucked right into it. !

Ive seen comments from 'jeremy is a hero ' public sector people are so up themselves and gold pensions etc to jeremy is a twat for saying that, how dare he. Both views are so WRONG!

public sector have had pensions FROZEN for 10 years, and the next 2. then get 1%! ( inflation is 5!) and its been like that since 1970.
In effect , just taking that on board, public sector pay is HALF what it was in 1970
And people who have worked there all their life have just effectively had their pensions cut by HALF. with no choice in the matter.
A lecturer friend of mine worked it out that for 1 teacher, over their career they are effectively half a MILLION pounds worse off.
so for 2 of us athats a MILLION pounds worse off
how would you like that?
last year, was going to get a measly 10k pension. this year we are now not going to get one at all! cause we cant get a full time job and therefore new rule means we dont qualify.
so we get NOTHING
state pension gets 5% increase. public sector dont get that cause they paid into ( by force) the pension they HAVE to pay into. which they now have cut in half or not get at all.
is that fair?

Get a grip people and grow up . i am sick of how pathetic this country has become when we cant be arsed to see the truth and just fall into the media trap and dont bother actually thinking about anything.

While i'm at it. I've heard parents slagging teachers off for the strike. ERM ITS NOT JUST TEACHERS its all public sector. the media yet again focus on teachers casue they effect the majority day to day. and its the 1st strike for YEARS. anyone else can strike and no one gives a shit. teachers do it , reluctlantly ( and btw most actually went to work that day to get pay and keep up with the work load) and the country slags them all off. They DID NOT WANT TO STRIKE. they HAD NO CHOICE.The ones that striked had to look after their kids like the rest of you. and unpaid. (lost almost 3 dyas pay as well, not 1 cause of the way pay is worked out)
they are overworked and underpaid. not visa versa and like i said before . they are effectively on half the pay they were on 30 years ago, work twice as hard for less pay.

holidays all year? lazy? NOOOOOO
most have kids you know!
they suffer too on strikes
they cannot choose holidays like the rest of you
only in expensive summer  hols, cannot take any other days, stuck with kids like everyone else.
the pay is meant to reflect the fact they have a little more holiday . its called SALARY
and most poele have 6 weeks plus bank holidays etc anywas. teacher get about 10 weeks. big freaking DEAL!!!!
and thats only the 50% who are actually contracted full time. the rest are private / lecturers/ supply etc who get paid PER HOUR WORKED.

Anything else needs sorting out?
shut up !

Kicks england in the ass and yells WAKE UP

need help? got a problem. call the A team / DV team ;-)


Thursday, 1 December 2011

Is music Dead?

"Is music dead?"

As a music lecturer, I often pose students questions like this to instigate vibrant discussion and research for a thesis or presentation.These are of course, many different ways to approach such a question, much of which would be based on personal opinion and musical preferences, but must be backed up by references and examples as appropriate set against the presented criteria. There is nothing worse that a short, shoddy report based on bad research that is haphazard and not supported by evidence or research in any way.

I decided to takle this question myself as if I was a student being asked to present their carefully researched and referenced assignment to the modern day learning environment.

I looked deeply into examining the current music sales and chart statistics compared to five, ten and twenty years ago.
I looked at the attitude of the public and how they appreciate music in a modern society,
I looked at how music has become a commodity and an ondistry based on finance rather than artistry and talent.
I looked at how music is presented in the moden market of mass media including television and radio.
I examined deep within the industry itself, how music is recorded and produced and how the artist may or may not have lost control and freedom
I looked at as many genres as I could and investigated in depth the similarities and differences between them.
I looked at music historically and ethnically and how this was a relevant factor in the modern day society of multicultural diversity.
I made realms of notes and citations, I interviewed people directly involved in the industry including performers and writers and producers.
I eventually produced my final thesis based on all of the intense research I had conducted.

My thesis based on the assignment brief to summarise all of the research I did and then presented  in a coherent fashion and in less than 10,000 words was thus:

* "NO"

*Please feel free to use this in any assignment work you may have, please remember to reference the author and give due respect and lots of cash for my efforts. Thank you. ©DV 2011

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

'Enjoy the silence' and 'The life of a crafty pebble'

Enjoy the silence? ..
Thought I'd better post something here as I havn't for quite some time.
Things tend to get in the way!

I've been working on a new project at -  (the site isn't really open yet, It's in early stages). Just a little art 'n' craft idea. I used to paint lead soldiers (sold in Harrods btw) and thought I'd try it out on making personalised pebbles. It takes time to get these things set up (and to make them!) I've made a few trial versions and now just about have all I need to set up and open up on Ebay and the pebblecraft web site. Take a look and check beck soon if you like hand crafted gifts and art :-) Nice Christmas and Birthday gifts! (As the web site / shop not open yet, just reply / mail me if you are interested , will see what I can do)

Musically: I've been thinking about how to follow up 'Whittlesey girls' . Not easy to decide but have made a start on a parody cover of Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode.

So I thought I'd share how I sort of go about starting these ideas and how to technically and musically go about them. (Not the same as making an original track - I'll share that one another time)

Whittlesey girls was meant to be a one off. I have never done a cover before, ever. (though all my songs could be called semi-parodies maybe!).
It caught the imagination ( and humour) of the local wildlife and was put on the front page of the Cambs times, played on Indie Cambridge radio and also on BBC radio Cambs/Peterborough so I was caught short with my trousers down!  So I basically panicked, had some beer and then did nothing at all for a couple of weeks. Having come back to it I sat and thought of random songs, old and new, different styles, that could fit a local lyric in some way. The only real criteria being that they had to be well known songs as thats sort of the point.
I have a list of around 20 I put together including Prince  Purple rain (Your a pain) and The sun always shines on tv / Eastrea) by Aha
I may well use some of the others later but decided on DM as the lyric will work for March town ... and the file I got to work with was reasonably good.

Which brings me on to how to cheat a little - For a cover version you don't necessarily have to write everything in completely form scratch. There are many free midi files out there unrestricted to use. So I grabbed some of those and choose the best out of about 6 versions.
I put these in Logic and then have to spend ages tweaking the notes, choosing instruments and editing a lot . (Infact the Pet Shop Boys track I did in the end probably would have been easier to do from scratch the original midi file was so BAD !)
I prefer Logic for editing midi files in this way, it's a lot easier and more powerful than on my PC using reaper.  I prefer the pc/reaper for original / creative stuff and for audio due to size / interface / connections.

There is no easy way to do it other than a good ear, patience and a nice bank of instruments to trawl through ( making good choices and being prepared to change your mind a lot!)

The drums are always hard to get right. I tend to use two or three different kits to get the sounds how I like them. (In my original tracks I often do this too)
I also try and change a few things deliberately so it sounds new and fresh and not just an outdated identical copy of the original.

The ending and opening always need a lot of work. adding extra parts and layers to make it start strong and stand out.
the end of midi files are usually terrible and just sound like the band died.
then the lyrics... well they neeed work too.... so far.... the basic idea....

All I ever wanted, all I ever needed , is here, in March town
Wisbech is so unnecessary, it can only do harm......
or; other towns are unnecessary, they, don't know how to farm ;-)

(well, I've already annoyed Eastrea and Whittlesey, may as well take out Wisbech while I'm at it. )
(I'll be lynched everyime I go anywhere at this rate)

So there you go, some insight into my crazy musical processes.

On my 4th album; well I havn't done much more there to finalise it but it Is pretty much done. I have been re-mixing/producing some of the tracks such as Hereward the Wake ( the violin was too thin at the start and end, forgot to pre-amp it in recording - cat dying effect!)

not 100% decided on track or order but pretty much.
not decided on album title at all
not thought about cover / art / production at all yet
hopefully done by new year all being well.
Depending how much beer gets consumed of the holiday period ;-)

previous albums are here:

I've started really yawning at the XFactor incase you were wondering. Still half watching it but It's just gone a bit damp and squidgy in my opinion.

Same about Freddie Star on I'm a celebrity :-( Didn't look well enough to have been there in 1st place. But now Pat Sharpe (minus hair) and Sinitta (minus any talent) ? Nightmares of my teenage musical life return to tv ! arghhhhh!

till next time
-Ant / DV

Monday, 3 October 2011

The X Factor UK 2011 - Louis finally lost his marbles

After last nights show (2nd October) , which was rather bizarre to say the least, I feel I must add my own comments on the decisions made.

First of all, I am not going to go much into my opinion on whether or not the show is valid , good , bad, ruining the industry, pushing unprepared people into the limelight, is it light entertainment or serious career changing, etc etc.  Just look at msn's comments if you want to read 1000's of people giving their annoying boring yawnworthy opinions on that. To be honest, If you watch the show enough to make sensible comment, then you are watching the show and Simon is happy! So why are you still watching it if you don't agree and it annoys you that much?! Either that or you havn't watched it enough to comment anyway. If the X Factor isn't valid then neither are many other shows like reality shows / quiz shows / dragons den etc etc... I agree, it will rarely make a long term pop star, though it has on occassion, but it has changed the lives of lucky (talented?) few, sometimes for the better. Remember the media twist and exaggerate stories around it, a lot.

(To be fair, half the comments on msn are complaining and whingeing about the point of the show and the other half totally agree with what I am about to say here ...)

Ok, back to the point....
Has Louis gone completely insane? Was he trying to do another 'Wagner?' I mean Goldie?? over Sammi?
In the girls group -  I agreed with putting Janet through as in my opinion she has the most talent and unique voice.... but how could they dump Jade, who they all were moved to tears by her in the earlier shows and was 2nd favourite to win ??? The other choices that got through are 'forgettable.' Who are they?.. I could not tell you without looking it up! Oh, I just did, I still don't remember them..!

And in the boys group; putting through the bottom flasher (Frankie) who can't sing much but has a boyish haircut and a tattoo on his bum,  over John Wilding, obviously 100 times a better singer, who just needs some serious image and style tips.(He looked like he just stepped out of Happy Days)

and although Johnny at least appears humerous, humble and a nice guy (It seems) Can he really sing? Would you want to buy his records? Great in Panto with a wig , but No1? hmmm

Come on X - Factor - Do you think most people are that shallow and naive that they want to hear a poser with little or no talent sing over a 'normal' person with an amazing voice? I know which one I'd choose to listen to. Or am I missing the point and X Factor is actually not about singing, but a quick way to make childrens' TV presenters, or chat show celebs? (Ollie Murs anyone? ... Actually, he's not too bad, but you get the point!)

They have even repeatedly on the show during audition stages said they need a true pop star - a great singer and great personality. So why are they letting mad , (unfunny) commedians through who can't sing?

The choices were Bizarre to say the least

Thank god Goldie withdrew.....for the second time!?  ( they didn't explain why.... very odd indeed)
I mean, she'd get booed off stage at a local kareoke club.
Maybe she knows and thought, "enough is enough, Iv'e done with being laughed at.... ?". 
Who knows.

This sums up the whole show:

Louis Walsh about : Kitty Brucknell

"You can definitely sing, you're a very passionate girl, I can tell that - but I think you'd be a nightmare to work with. You're through to live shows."

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Subculture - Stop Modernists ft. Chris Lowe (Pet Shop Boys) (New Order Cover)

Apparently this has been out a while but I admit I have neglected the psb web site for a while ( sorry Neil!)
Any true psb fan ( and New Order fan) would go WOW to know of this song. Chris is doing full vocals , yes sung vocals on a New order track, 'subculture' , produced by Swiss DJ's /producers ' Stop modernists'. Wow!
The PSB's have a close connection with New order, musically and historically. They of course collaborated with ' electronic' , consisting of Neil, Johnny Marr and Bernard Sumner in the 90's.
Chris famously has rarely done vocals except for the odd well placed line or lesser know vocal in  some tracks (shopping, paninaro, we all feel better in the dark etc)

This is a tough one for me to judge. I love PSB, (I've met Neil) and I love New Order, (  I've chatted to Peter Hook online) but  I know nothing about the Stop Modernists.  More importantly, I love the classic track ' subculture' by New order. One of its clever features was the very slightly out of time bass line that gave it that unusual disjointed hard edge associated with Manchester indie music at the time. It's got that angst of teenage life in the 80's , from the brilliant album 'Low Life'.  A very, very, New Order track from a very very New Order album. I remember playing this as a teen really loud in my bedroom. I had the white box cassette album with the cool semi see through plastic postcards! I still have it.

The only way i can review this track is to do it in 3 stages

stage 1: OMG! Chris doing a New Order track! Brilliant. Love it!
stage 2: Hmmm, It's not as good as the original
stage 3: Actually, Chris is so good on it,  it's very good!

I think the music could have been more detailed, sorry Stop Modernists. It is a great groove but it's not got the depth of the original, but then again, that leaves room for Chris to take the track totally over and make it his. (maybe deliberately?) So I am at odds on how to judge it really!

Chris is the perfect person to do a cover of this song, no doubt about that. He has a charisma and edge that totally justifies it. I can't think of anyone better to do it. His voice is not a singers voice, yet he proves here he can sing in tune and with a great tone too. His best vocal yet, but he has a hidden emotion behind it.  It's more than what you get on face value, which is what the PSB ( and New order to some degree) do so well.

No score yet , as I am still considering it.. will see how it ages with a few more plays ( I'm on +20 so far), 10 for Chris though!

Plus 20 plays?! must be good then ! well worth a listen.


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Reaper v4 visual updates (free DAW)

Recently I updated my version of Reaper (3.78) up to the latest version (4.0) which has now already been updated to v.4.02 with a couple of small tweaks.

For those that don't know, Reaper is a free to use, fully functional music workstation, similar to that of Logic (mac only) and cubase etc. The main difference being is that they kindly give you the full fully working version, totally unlimited for free. The only catch being that if you use it commercially in any way then you need to pay the appropriate busines licence (still very reasonable) .
I am going to give a quick overview of the main page to show some of the visual updates that have been made since v3.
There are a whole load of technical and functional improvements (key updates listed below) But I am focussing on the basic visual improvements of the user interface / main page.

Previously you could add colour to the tracks but the basic feel of the program was dark green / grey and black. lots of black. ( grim reaper...) All very well but it was a bit depressing to look at, and very angular and square.
The new version still retains some of its trademark darkness and black but used more carefully and everything is now just a bit more funky and curvy.
Think of it as comparing windows 7 to windows 95 or a new ford focus to a model T
its a bit like death has discovered neon lights and disco for the first time

This is the tool box, previously 95% grey on black, now all neon. The same icons are there but they have been updates to be clearer and curvier.

 The track control bus is lighter and clearer, slightly redesigned. You can of course still change the size and placement of most panels.

One of the nice features they have kept is the manual or random colouring of tracks to keep things clear  and organized  (and prettier). They also have now added a whole bunch of nice icons you can add to each track to label the instrument or input being used. This is now really easy to do.

 The transport bar is pretty much the same as before but again can be removed or docked

 The master mix and track mixer panel is one of the more obvious updates. It is so much clearer and brighter with easy access to the main functions. The record button being very easy to hit now. ( I never bothered with it in the previous version, I used the button record on the track fader)

I really like how they have visually improved v4 over v3. It is not just to make it look nicer, it actually improves the clarity of the whole main screen immensely.
It feels like you are almost using a real hardware desk as its so clear.

Automation (Trim) is also a lot easier to find and use.

A massive improvement
check the program out here:

Main updates for V4
  • Dockers and toolbars: Multiple dockers, freely dockable in main window or floatable (up to 16 separate dockers/toolbars)
  • Envelope editing: Support for copying envelope points with the mouse
  • Media Explorer: Scroll and zoom the media peaks preview)
  • MIDI editing: Set user-definable scales and chords in the MIDI editor for drawing and editing notes
  • Mouse modifier customization: Assign any action (including custom actions) to mouse click or double-click in most contexts
  • Multichannel support: Allow choosing greater than 2 channels of sequential inputs, monitoring inputs
  • Multichannel support: Multichannel track meters
  • Project Bay: Manage, preview, search, replace project source media, media items, and FX
  • ReaSurround: Multi-channel surround panner with support for any number of input channels and speakers
  • Theme layout support: Fully themeable UI, allowing repositioning/removal/addition of UI elements
  • Track pan improvements: Track stereo width controls and envelopes
  • Video: performance improvements, support for sequencing still images

 PS , I previously had the 'small business' license for v2.00 up to v3.99.
 This is currently only $60 for the new version
I will get this if I release any music for sale through v4+.
The software is totally free for home use but if you sell any of your work for profit / business you must get this license. :-)

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

'21' by Adele

21 by Adele.
My wife likes listening to Adele (single) after work so it must be good ;-)
I hope to get hold of a copy and will review it soon if possible.

If you have it / have heard it, please send me your views on it

Soundtrack for 'The most incredible thing' by The Pet Shop Boys

Review of the Soundtrack album for The most incredible thing by the Pet Shop Boys.

First of all let me make two things clear. 1) I am a massive PSB fan and have almost everything they released. 2) I went to see the show a couple of months ago as a treat for myself and my wife. We went to the final night with the best seats and saw Neil and stood next to  David Walliams having a drink at the interval. We loved the show, the venue (Sadler's Wells), the music and the whole visual experience.

As a show and a modern combination of Art, Film, Dance/Ballet and music it was perfect, and thats my slight problem with the CD. The music is great but it was never designed to work alone. Their previous soundrack album Battleship Potemkin was for a silent film so had to portray a lot more of the story and as an album works fairly well on its own without the film. Much of this latest cd however is lost without the visuals and story telling that went on onstage.  There are some very nice moments musically such as the upbeat Ten Commandments and The one moment you hear Neil sing in a pastiche pop song of the show which was really fun too see. There are great Eastern Blok influences in the music and some nice quiet moments too. Some of the music reminded me of Stravinsky in its complex rhythmical, almost atonal and never quite resolving nature. The music is great and up to its usual original and unique standard but is missing the rest of the experience. I would suggest waiting until it becomes availble on DVD, however as the show was so successful it is to be re-run next year, you may have to wait a while yet for it to be available. The music and orchestration are fantastic. Go see the show!

I want to give this album more but it is rather lost without the live experience, I give it 6/10 as a cd.