Lemmy

On February 18th, 1991, I had the privilege of seeing Motorhead live, at the Portsmouth Guildhall, on the ‘1916’ tour. Back then, at most rock gigs there was a crush against the barrier, a mosh pit, people jumping and then the static part where people just stood, tapped their feet or banged their heads.

But not at Motorhead.

At Motorhead, nobody stood still. There was no room for a mosh pit because the sea of people ebbed and flowed in great surges, moving as one. The crowd reflected Lemmy and his music; all or nothing, relentless, unforgiving – but together. It was an amazing and strangely moving night that I will never forget.

There was always something about Lemmy. From the position of his microphone to the way he wore his hat. Maybe it was the facial hair, or the gravelly voice, or maybe just the way he dressed – there was something cool, yet somehow unrelenting about the man. You could see it when he was on stage; you could see it from brooding looks in the pages of magazines and you could even see it on film with his cameo in ‘Hardware’.

Lemmy commanded respect, end of story.

R.I.P

5 Great Songs From 2015

There’s been a great deal written here and elsewhere about the best albums of 2015, but in this day and age, more often than not, it is the individual tune that has the greater impact. Albums don’t always get listened to in their entirety – unless of course you happen to be a music critic, which is probably why we bang on about them and make so many lists – so in celebration of the humble single and the killer album track here are five great songs from 2015.

The Echo and The Always were an amazing discovery this year and this track pretty much encapsulates what they are all about. I didn’t actually give ‘Capable Of’ much credit on first listen, there are other more immediate tracks on the album, but it has grown on me and repeated listens have revealed more and more.

I fell in love with Wolf Alice in the middle of 2015 and have been playing them to death ever since. ‘Your Love’s Whore’ was the track that did it for me, don’t know why really, just something about it gets me every time.

‘My Terracotta Heart’ is so wrapped in the history of Blur, and particularly the relationship between Damon and Graham, that it has a significance way beyond the norm. Anyone who loves this band cannot fail to be touched by its stark beauty.

Dave Gahan‘s album with Soulsavers had a tremendous impact on me this year, no song more so than ‘Tempted’. This is a quite sublime performance that gives me goosebumps.

IMHO, ‘Gunga Din’ is quite simply the best thing The Libertines have ever done. Lyrically, it is fantastic, musically, it nails it, but most importantly it has that little extra “I don’t know what” that great tracks need. Killer.

The Best Records of 2015 (IMHO) – Part 3

Going through other end of year lists and also reading reviews from other publications, I can’t help but feel that there is a tendency to celebrate the technically proficient, the groundbreaking or the daring, with little emphasis on how music actually makes you feel, which is surely the most important thing, no? I mean there are things in life that you fall in love with totally illogically, it’s not important how technically good it is, sometimes it’s simply how that thing, person or piece of music makes you feel. Anyway, my so called best records of the year are not necessarily the most technically brilliant, but each and every one of them moved me one way or another. Here’s the third and final part.

Girl Band – Holding Hands With Jamie
Luckily, Girl Band manage to combine daring with emotion; their music spoke to me in ways I can barely begin to express. Sublime.

Wolf Alice – My Love is Cool
A constant on my headphones since July, this is an album of great songs about friends and lovers with a very cool indie/pop/rock vibe. Its highly listenable, easily relatable and even the filler is killer.

British IBM – Psychopaths Dream in Black and White
A fairly simplistic easy going record with beautiful swathes of cello that turn it into a soothing feast of aural delight. Lovely.

Sam Duckworth – Amazing Grace
A deceptively deep album underpinned by subtle atmospheric touches beneath the folky acoustics; it’s a bit like running into an old friend and being greeted with the warmest of hugs.

Haybaby – Sleepy Kids
Haybaby have a hard edged indie sound described as sludge pop and slop rock, whatever they may be, and they make a mighty fine racket. I absolutely adore their album – buy it!

The Libertines – Anthems for Doomed Youth
Contains song of the year in ‘Gunga Din’ plus a host of other top moments like ‘Barbarians’ and ‘Iceman’. It’s lyrically sharp, musically vibrant and has just the slightest hint of music hall charm. Comeback of the year.

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
Obvious choice I know, but it’s really good; you don’t get eleven Grammy nominations by chance you know. This is the kind of direction hip-hop has been begging for, a little less bling and a lot more substance and with killer tunes like ‘i’, ‘King Kunta’ and ‘Alright’ Kendrick is the Negus right now.

Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love
Quite simply a great album. The veteran Riot Grrls came back with slice after slice of hook filled punk fuelled badass tunes. Every track a winner.

What’s that? Put them in order! Really? You´re sure?
Ok, go on then; counting down from twenty to one here are the top twenty records of the year in my humble opinion.

20 Luna Sol – Blood Moon
19 Blind Wives – Recovery positions
18 The British IBM – Psychopaths Dream in Black and White
17 Romans – – = +
16 Sam Duckworth – Amazing Grace
15 Girl Band – Holding Hands With Jamie
14 Of Allies – Fragments
13 The Libertines – Anthems for Doomed Youth
12 Iron Maiden – Book of Souls
11 Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
10 Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love
9 Halestorm – Into the Wild Life
8 Haybaby – Sleepy kids
7 Blur – The Magic Whip
6 Placebo – Unplugged
5 Public Enemy – Live from Metropolis
4 D’Angelo – Black Messiah
3 The Echo and the Always – And After That The Dark
2 Dave Gahan & Soulsavers – Angels and Ghosts
1 Wolf Alice – My Love is Cool

So there you have it! Part one of the list is here:
https://hardpresseded.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/the-best-records-of-2015-imho/
and part 2 here:
https://hardpresseded.wordpress.com/2015/12/09/the-best-records-of-2015-imho-part-2/

Roll on 2016!

Top 10 Christmas Songs

This is a potential credibility killer, but my guiltiest of guilty pleasures is Christmas music. I guess it’s a nostalgia thing; some of the happiest memories of my childhood are from Christmases – all the rules were suspended, the limits were relaxed and there was a kind of warm glow about everything, oh and we got presents! So Christmas for me really felt kind of magical as a kid, but nowadays, living in a tropical country where its like high summer at Christmas time, there is always this slight disconnection for me in regard to the festive season. Therefore, the music (and the food, obviously!) has become an essential component of the year’s end celebrations, helping conjure up those fuzzy feelings of nostalgia and comfort.
My top ten Christmas tunes.

10) Sister Winter -Tracey Thorn
Tracey made a Christmas album a few years back which basically sums up this nostalgic longing for our childhood Christmases and being English it borders on the melancholy, managing to criticize and celebrate simultaneously. Sister Winter is a quite lovely lesson in song writing.

9) Merry Xmas Everybody – Slade
I know, it’s pretty damn awful because we have heard it so many times, but try doing Christmas without it. “Iiiiiiiittttts Chrrrrrrriiissstmaaaaaaaas!”

8) Stop the Cavalry – Jona Lewie
As kids my brother and I always loved this song, it was probably our favorite on my Mum’s Christmas mix tape (back when mix tapes really were tapes). I guess it was something about the soaring melody contradicting the downbeat longing so wonderfully.

7) Last Christmas
To be honest I never particularly liked the original and my brother and I invented our own alternative lyrics involving such childish delights as farts and poos, but that’s another story; my inner heavy metal child didn’t have much truck for such schmaltz. However, as a mature, ahem, adult I have come to recognize the true pop genius of this song. I’m still no lover of the original but covers by the likes of Manic Street Preachers and Jamelia opened my eyes to the melodic perfection of this pop classic. This version by Florence is spine tingling.

6) All I Want For Christmas – Mariah Carey 
As I was compiling this list I realized that it was almost exclusively British and actually quite serious, but there is one sickly sweet totally pop track that I love and it’s Mariah. Diva.

5) Do They Know It’s Christmas – Band Aid
One of the most significant records in history and the story behind it and the subsequent Live Aid shows, as well as the song’s legacy, is really quite compelling and resonant until today.

4) The Power of Love – Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Technically not a Christmas track, but was appropriated as such after being Christmas number one with its nativity video, and in typically English fashion it is dark and beautiful in equal measure.

3) I Believe in Father Christmas – Greg Lake
Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer fame came up with quite a sublime track that even U2 have covered. Again, it’s actually quite serious in its shattering of illusions, but there’s a lovely Christmasness to the melody of the horns that compliments the dark tone to the lyric.

2) Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Tom Jones with Cerys Matthews
It’s just so bombastic with those big band horns and it has Tom Jones on it! I mean, come on, what’s not to like?

1) Fairytale of New York – The Pogues with Kirsty Maccoll
I could actually write an entire article just about this song; the story behind it is not only fascinating, but quite moving in regards to the death of Kirsty Maccoll. The documentary on it makes for mesmerizing viewing and is highly recommended (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUSNzqqLFT0). Regardless of the song’s story though, it is an extremely accomplished piece of work with beautiful layers of textured instrumentation and Shane Macgowan, who was born on Christmas day, at his inimitable best.

– Mariah Carey –

The Best Records of 2015 (IMHO) Part 2

While thinking back on the records I’ve most enjoyed this year, it became obvious that I listen to rather a lot of rock. No shit! Not exactly a shock I know, given that I write for an alternative rock website and run one which, while embracing all kinds of music, has a heavy indie/rock slant. However, a lot of the hard rock/metal that I’ve been getting into as a result has not always been mainstream. Obviously, some things are unavoidably so, but having reviewed, shouted out and interviewed some very small bands I have inevitably played their records over and over, and, would you believe, their music stands up and has made a fan of me. So here goes the hard rocking releases I’ve most enjoyed this year.

Romans – – = + (Less is More)
Despite not being the best production wise, due to the cost of studio time and needing to record live, I really got into Romans’ hook laden riff heavy tunes. For a part-time band confined to the pub circuit they have made a very likeable record with a good positive vibe.

Halestorm – Into The Wild Life
I fell in love with this album quite recently and have had it on heavy rotation ever since. This is what hard rock should be about, badass riffing, wailing solos and immaculate full on vocals from the superb Lzzy Hale.

Iron Maiden – Book of Souls
OK, so Iron Maiden took Iron Maiden to the nth degree with the epic scale of this album, but its the best thing they’ve done since Seventh Son. They certainly sound reinvigorated and ‘Souls’ makes for an enjoyable listen with some really fresh and exciting moments.

Of Allies – Fragments EP
I have played their EP to death since I first reviewed it back in May and will readily admit to having a bit of a soft spot for the band, but that’s only because they are really rather good. Coolly delivered, hard edged and just radio-friendly enough, ‘Fragments’ ticks all the boxes.

Luna Sol – Blood Moon
This was another pleasant surprise that I got to review a few months back. These sinister tales of Rocky Mountain life are given hard stoner rock treatment at the hands of David Angstrom – heavy ass bass lines, blistering guitar breaks and hard driving riffage. Good record. Fucked up video.

Blind Wives – Recovery Positions EP
This was another EP that got a lot of extra plays when I came to interview the band, which is also part-time, but no less accomplished. Recovery Positions has some interesting well constructed tracks; there’s a strong indie/punk influence to their sound, but there are some good heavy riffs, and in Luke Pickering they have a versatile front man who plays some cool guitar and can sure carry a tune.

Part One of my favourite records this year can be seen right here: https://hardpresseded.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/the-best-records-of-2015-imho/
And if you search through the interviews section down in the categories you can find out more about Of Allies, Romans and Blind Wives.

The Best Records of 2015 (IMHO)

I’ve already done a top ten albums of 2015 over at http://www.alreadyheard.com and, to be honest, was not entirely happy with it. I felt like I should include stuff that I had rated highly under review, whilst also excluding some things that weren’t really A.H material. Anyway, the entire music media has gone all end of year, ranking and rating their favourite records, and I can’t help but feel that more often than not it’s an exercise in “I’ve got better taste than you” and they put what is critically acclaimed and what is cool to like, rather than what they actually enjoy. So, what I’ve decided to do is put together a bunch of stuff that I’ve really enjoyed this past year, in no particular order, by way of shout out to the artists who have made my listening life so cool this year. Here goes part one:

Public Enemy – Live from Metropolis
For any band, whatever the genre, this is a lesson in live performance. Chuck D, Flavor Flav, DJ Lord etc quite simply kill it from beginning to end.

The Echo and The Always – And After That The Dark…
Reviewed this for Already Heard and fell in love with it on first listen. It’s jam packed with surprises and there is not a duff tune on the record – sublime vocals, textured layers and killer hooks. This band will be everywhere in 2016.

Placebo – Unplugged
I love Placebo. I love this record, it shows another dimension to the band, every version is sublime and the special guests are just that, special.

D’Angelo – Black Messiah
Technically from 2014 but only because the release date was anticipated to coincide with Ferguson, due to the politically charged nature to some of the songs, like ‘The Charade’. Damn, this is one fine record, multiple listens revealed more and more depth to the beautifully constructed songs – basically its a ‘What’s Going On?’ for the 21st Century.

Dave Gahan & Soulsavers – Angels and Ghosts
Another album of gorgeous depth and texture that has a definite soundtrack feel to it, whilst also being hauntingly dark and moody.

Blur – The Magic Whip
Could’ve been awful, but in true Blur fashion it was well thought out and everything about it feels right. ‘Terracotta Heart’ is, quite frankly, one of the most beautiful things they’ve ever done.

Scott Weiland

Scott Weiland
I used to have a friend called ‘Ewok’, I no longer remember his real name, if I ever actually knew it, but I, and well, pretty much everyone, knew him as such – he really, and I mean really looked like an Ewok! Anyway, I’d dropped round his house one day and he would not shut the fuck up about the new Stone Temple Pilots album, ‘Purple`. I knew about STP but had never given them much love; I’d been into grunge since the ground floor – having seen Alice in Chains back when they supported Megadeth; Pearl Jam‘s first UK appearance; Nirvana at Reading? Yep. I was there. So for me STP were imposters riding the wave, a kinda commercial grunge lite.

Then I heard ‘Purple’.

Damn, what a fine album that was and still is – it stands the test of time, every track a killer. Then I got hold of a twelve inch single of ‘Plush’ one day when I was out hunting vinyl. When I flipped it over to play the b-side – unplugged versions of ‘Plush’ and ‘Sex Type Thing’ – I had one of those beautiful music moments when you uncover a real treasure.

I’d like to say I went on to become a mega Stone Temple Pilots fan and that Velvet Revolver were a dream come true, but I didn’t and they weren’t. I don’t really know why, I guess there was just too much else going on and maybe VR just didn’t have the songs, whatever, it doesn’t really matter.

A man has died. A talented man with rock star charisma and one of the most incredible voices in rock. I cannot and will not pass judgement on the man, just as I won’t put him up as a hero. What I will do is give thanks for the incredible pieces of music that affected me so profoundly all those years ago and that are still a part of my life until today. Now, I guess I’ll go find that MTV Unplugged set in full on YouTube.

R.I.P Scott Weiland

Eight Killer Placebo Moments

Placebo were formed in 1994 after a chance meeting on a London tube platform between Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal, who had both previously attended the American International School in Luxembourg. Their first album was released in 1996 and in celebration of its twentieth anniversary the boys are doing a number of retrospective projects including the recent MTV Unplugged set of primarily early material. As such, it seems like as good a time as any to celebrate the work of one of my favourite alternative rock bands.

Born in the midst of Britpop and inaccurately labelled as such, Placebo have always trodden their own path, often in the face of senseless criticism, and have succeeded in amassing a consistently high quality body of work. Placebo albums are a bit like Denzil Washington‘s films, never bad.

Although ostensibly a British band, Brian was born in Belgium to an itinerant Scottish Mother and American Father, while Stefan, despite being born to Swedish parents in Sweden, also moved around a fair bit before settling in London. For me, this is one of the principal reasons for Placebo never quite fitting in, they have a multi-cultural background and a kind of rootlessness that enables them to play by their own rules.

Their sound is very much their own, not only down to Brian’s distinctive vocal, but also instrumentally; their hard edged alt rock sound, owing as much to Wedding Present as to Marc Bolan, never plays it safe and they are also not afraid to explore more atmospheric airs, regularly incorporating piano and strings. I’ve had the privilege of seeing them live just the once, at Reading in 2000, and although they put in a great performance, I had the distinct impression that headliners, the Stereophonics, were worried and made sure their volume was turned down.

Anyway, here’s a handful of songs celebrating the awesomeness of this criminally underrated band of outsiders who despite bucking trends and media hostility have managed to sell in excess of eleven million records – count em!

‘Nancy Boy’ was the first Placebo song I ever heard and in the post grunge comfort zone of overblown Britpop it was refreshingly loud and crunchy, yet had just enough pop sensibility to nag its way into my unconscious. Love the guitar sound on this version from Later with Jools.

Placebo were unaffected by “difficult second album” syndrome; following up the top 5 success of their debut with a dark brooding slab of hard edged intensity. The title track of ‘Without You I’m Nothing’ (see below), ‘Pure Morning’ and ‘Every You, Every Me’ are the obvious killer cuts from the album, but ‘Brick Shithouse’ is as hard as it’s title and ‘Scared of Girls’ has a groove vaguely reminiscent of early Cult. Check out this badass version of ‘Scared of Girls’ from their debut headline show at Brixton Academy back in 98. The action starts at about 3’50.

‘Without You I’m Nothing’ is an epically dark ballad that is superbly intense in it’s own right, but as a duet with David Bowie could not have had a better compliment paid to it.

‘Plasticine’ – love it. Rocks hard from start to finish. “Don’t forget to be the way you are.”

‘Protect me/Protege Moi’ finds Brian at his wonderfully pretentious best.

‘Battle for the Sun’ is one of the more unusual Placebo tracks, but the building intensity and insistent vocal give it a defiant urgency.

Back in December of 2008 Placebo played a unique semi acoustic set at the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia at the beginning of the ‘Battle for the Sun’ tour. The 40m showcase is really something special with its atmospheric vibe; check out this mesmerizing version of Meds with a superb performance from the new boy on drums at the time, Steve Forrest.

Placebo has never shied away from doing a cover and ‘Sleeping with Ghosts’ saw them bring an album’s worth of B-sides and one offs together for a bonus disc that included songs by artists as diverse as Kate Bush and Darts. Their version of Where Is My Mind by the Pixies is so damn good that even Black Francis (A.K.A Frank Black) came out at the legendary Paris show to play on it. I actually get goosebumps from head to toe when I watch this.

Check out the trailer for the MTV Unplugged show here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVGrqoOxT4o

Rock in Rio – Literally

Despite having lived in Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro, for the last thirteen years, I will readily admit to not being the most assiduous follower of the Brazilian music scene. There is some stuff that I really like, a whole load of stuff that I steer well clear of and a gaping black hole in between. Basically, I use the excuse that I just don’t have the time, but the simple fact is that I mostly prefer English language music, which is a little short-sighted of me. However, as recent experience has highlighted how difficult the music industry has become for new bands in England nowadays, it got me wondering about the situation here, so I decided it was high time I found out what was going on. In fact, I didn’t have to look very far; between ex-students, good friends, friends and relatives of other students and a handful of acquaintances I suddenly had access to a whole host of local bands, perfect for comparing the grass roots scene here with what goes on back home.

Primarily, I wanted to know about the difficulties faced by upcoming bands in Rio de Janeiro and the unanimous response was that outside of the Lapa district in Rio, there is a distinct lack of venues with high quality sound and an appropriate infrastructure. Personally, I put this down to a lack of pub culture, no sweaty beer soaked backrooms or spit and sawdust venues here, but the complex legal system and, at times, lack of adherence to is also a factor. Throw in the fact that if you can actually find a place to play, getting paid for it is a mission in itself, because not only are gigs badly paid, it is also par for the course for venue owners/promoters to pay late – we are talking weeks or months – no musicians union backing here. Also, according to Alexandre Daumerie of the “On The Rock” project, “That’s when they don’t ask you to play for free, which many unknown bands will often do just to show their work and get the exposure”.

In fact, the basic consensus is that there is not much money to be made unless you are playing covers of popular music or are willing to sweat blood for your art, and even then you won’t get paid what you deserve and you’ll have the demands of promoters to contend with. One reputable promotor that I spoke to, Vitor Da Cunha Gomes of A Conspiração Produções e Eventos, who moonlights as the bassist in metal core group Ambstract, goes as far as to suggest that to get on a relatively interesting bill “you have to sell a pornographic number of tickets for the event promoter, and the bands that do so are not always top quality (cover bands etc), so the event ends up full of poor bands that bring down the level.” Vitor’s company goes against the flow by only inviting bands with their seal of approval, with good material and marketing, and that are supportive of the local scene.

The proliferation of covers acts and the willingness of bars to book them as an attraction, also means that even bands with a strong local following are battling for space in the market. João Paulo Barreira of Barcamundi goes a little further still, citing “a lack of incentives for independent culture on the part of public organs, as well as a certain disinterest of the majority of the public for original music or for that not endorsed by mass media.”

This lack of interest on the part of the public could be a reflection of the dynamic of the class system here. In England basically you have a working class spectrum, so any given venue can pull people in democratically, whereas here you have a working class chasm between the haves and have nots, which is reflected in the public frequenting certain venues. The paradox here is that the bands making alternative, indie or rock tend to be from middle class backgrounds but don’t have access to middle class venues. Ok, so I admit that this is something of a sweeping generalization, but the point is that the structure and tastes of society here is a far more complex issue than in the UK.

Eduardo Marcolino of progressive rockers Anxtrongoes deeper into the issue of apathy on the part of the public: “many people are satisfied with free online material and don’t bother going to shows. Besides, almost nobody pays for an album anymore, making recording even more costly as it doesn’t generate much return.” Sound familiar English bands?

As such, the influence of the internet is frighteningly similar the world over, with bands more often than not peaking at the thousand true fans level and living in the hope of going viral or getting picked up by the mass media. In the meantime it’s online marketing and social media to divulge the new material, show etc, and just like in the UK (and probably the rest of the world) Brazilian acts love the fact that they have control over how they appear to the world and how they communicate with their fans. However, João Paulo´s guitarist in Barcamundi, Leon, makes the pertinent observation that number of likes/followers can be a doubtful indicator and just because one band has 20k “fans”, while another has the faithful thousand, it doesn’t mean the first band is 20 times more popular than the other. João completes the idea by saying “It’s necessary to work, make contacts, rehearse and publicize your band in the real world, but with the help of the internet.”

Although the internet is seen by all concerned as a useful tool in terms of publicity, especially given Brazil’s highly digitalized society, being social media savvy is quite simply not enough. Why?

Two words:

Organizações Globo.

Globo is one of the most powerful media organisations in the world and its influence here in Brazil is nothing less than massive. What little space they give to music, is dedicated to the mainstream or established “alternative” acts, as well as for more traditional Brazilian styles such as Sertanejo (Country), Samba, Pagode, Axé and even Funk Carioca. Even their coverage of Rock in Rio is a little limited, with the Sunset stage (the b-stage) only shown on one of their satellite channels, which does go to redress the balance a little by also showing events like Lollapalooza, but the homegrown programmes on the music channel are very old guard. So basically if Globo is behind you or willing to give you a shot, this will open a lot of doors, as in the case of Scalene, but if you are not a media darling, which most indie and alternative acts tend not to be, otherwise they wouldn’t be called alternative, getting any media exposure outside of social networks is gonna be difficult.

OK, so Globo is by no means the only media outlet in the country, but they lead by example and most other outlets tend to follow suit, so the indie/rock/alternative scene is very much an underground one. However, according to Vitor of A Conspiração and Fabricio Figueiredo of Útero Ruídosproductions it is a thriving scene and there is a lot of talent in Rio. Both suggested that São Paulo has a better infrastructure while Rio has the better bands. When I asked about how competitive the scene was, there was agreement that, as in England, in general it tends to be one of mutual support and incentive, despite the fight for attention and the occasional envious eye on another band’s success.
Vitor: “I always like to watch the local bands and see how they are doing well, recently there’s been an enormous improvement in the quality of the bands; they’re making music that’s getting richer and more elaborate, which always makes me want to improve.”

He goes on to cite a number of interesting local bands that cover the entire rock spectrum, far too many to mention here, but I checked out as many as I could and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Menores Atos, Cervical, Lougo Mouro and the one that particularly caught my eye, Parola, who play a highly competent brand of Brazilian Hard Rock.

As for other aspects of band life, just like their British counterparts it’s a labour of love here too. Having to run a band part-time means rehearsing only once a week and long term plans remain un-ambitious, the focus being on improving and continuing to enjoy playing, whilst hopefully building a competent body of work. So, all in all being in an indie or alternative rock band in Brazil has all the difficulties of the British scene plus a whole host of structural and cultural questions thrown in for good measure.

Nevertheless, there has to be some kind of middle ground between this level of virtual obscurity and media endorsed mega stardom, and just as English bands are starting to find with forward thinking indie labels and innovative PR companies, there is life beyond the DIY circuit and outside the limited rosters of the major labels. Companies such as Útero are working like a creative hub for artists where they can gain access to expertise in production, recording and mixing, creation of audio-visual projects, fundraising and distribution.

LogoOficial

Fabricio Figueiredo explained that Útero’s vision actually goes beyond the artist; they see the lack of know-how on the local music scene as an opportunity to help stimulate and organise the market, providing a safe haven for artists to get their work produced and a focus for fans to connect with quality sounds. By coordinating the activities of studios, musicians, promoters, venues and fans they work as a catalyst for artistic projects and an opinion maker on the local scene. However, their vision goes beyond the local; the video they recorded for Rebeca Sauwen being one of the factors getting her on to The Voice.

Therefore, despite the apparent difficulties of the Brazilian music scene, it is by no means all doom and gloom, especially when you not only have talented performers, but also forward thinking individuals willing to stimulate the music industry in the name of art. Given a more sober vision of the music business, as is already being seen in the big international markets, there is no reason why we cannot form a sound middle class of music operating way above the thousand true fans level, but without the necessity to be the next big thing; whether it’s Brasil (sic) or back in the UK.