Q Awards 2013

Hopefully you enjoyed our countdown to this year’s Q Awards, and perhaps also the ceremony itself, with its nods to… well, let’s not reveal that quite yet. The ceremony took place last night, and as always held a few surprises.

Al Murray was on hand to present this year’s winners at Grosvenor House:

Q Best New Act presented by Mahiki

Nominees:

  • Jake Bugg
  • Disclosure
  • Valerie June
  • Jaguar Ma
  • Laura Mvula
  • Tom Odell
  • TOY
  • Palma Violets

Winner: Jake Bugg

Q Best Track

Nominees:

  • Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know?
  • David Bowie – Where Are We Now?
  • Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams – Get Lucky
  • Ellie Goulding – Burn
  • Robin Thicke feat. TI and Pharrell – Blurred Lines

Winner: Arctic Monkeys

Q Poet Laureate

Winner: John Cooper Clarke

Q Spirit of Independence

Winner: Belle and Sebastian

Q Best Event

Nominees:

  • David Bowie (V&A)
  • The Killers (Wembley Stadium / The Garage)
  • Kraftwerk (Tate Modern)
  • The Rolling Stones (Hyde Park)
  • Glastonbury Festival
  • Latitude Festival

Winner: Glastonbury Festival

Q Best Video powered by Alcatel

  • Beady Eye – Shine a Light
  • David Bowie – The Stars (Are Out Tonight)
  • Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams – Get Lucky
  • Manic Street Preachers – Show Me the Wonder
  • Vampire Weekend – Diane Young

Winner: Manic Street Preachers

Q Classic Album

Winner: Happy Mondays – Bummed

Q Idol

Winner: Robbie Williams

Q Best Live Act

Nominees:

  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Foals
  • Mumford and Sons
  • Muse
  • The Stone Roses

Winner: Foals

Q Best Album presented by Bose

Nominees:

  • David Bowie – The Next Day
  • Biffy Clyro – Opposites
  • Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
  • Foals – Holy Fire
  • Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

Winner: Biffy Clyro

Q Icon

Winner: Suede

Q Best Solo presented by Citroen

Presented by Tinie Tempah. Nominees:

  • David Bowie
  • Jake Bugg
  • Ellie Goulding
  • John Grant
  • Laura Marling

Winner: Ellie Goulding

Q Best Act in the World Today presented by Planet Rock

Nominees:

  • Arctic Monkeys
  • David Bowie
  • Biffy Clyro
  • Foals
  • Vampire Weekend

Winner: Vampire Weekend

Q Classic Songwriter

Winner: Chrissie Hynde

Outstanding Contribution to Music

Winner: Pet Shop Boys

Vevo’s coverage has lots of bad jokes about “queuing.”

That’s right! Another enormous win for PSB at the Q Awards, just ten years after winning the Q Inspiration award. David Bowie made the headlines for apparently being “snubbed,” (BBC News and some rather obsessed coverage from Buzzfeed) just because everyone else thinks he should win stuff this year (he won Q Inspiration in 1995).

Q’s own coverage, with audio snippets, is here.

Live – September 2013

Here are your live highlights in the next month or two:

The Orb

With dates coming up in the USA, the UK, and eventually France over the next few months, it must be fascinating to see them live.

Full list of dates on Songkick

múm

The experimental Icelandic group are taking in the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Iceland, and the UK over the next few months.

Full list of dates on Songkick

808 State

Straight out of 1989, but with a whole slew of albums behind them, some of which are really rather good too. Over the next few months you can catch them at festivals and supporting the Happy Mondays around the UK.

Full list of dates on Songkick

De/Vision

Depeche Mode-imitators or not, they’ve been responsible for some pretty excellent tracks. Catch them live across Germany through the Autumn.

Full list of dates on Songkick

Roni Size

It would be fascinating to know what to expect from Roni Size live, so if you can, head to see him across the USA through October and November.

Full list of dates on Songkick

 

 

Trance Atlantic Air Waves – The Energy of Sound

Fifteen years ago this week saw the release of the first real Enigma side project in a long time. Made up of Enigma‘s Michael Cretu and his long-time production collaborator Jens Gad, it is ostensibly a cover version album. However, unlike normal albums of this kind, it’s actually pretty good.

The first track is Lucifer, originally performed by The Alan Parsons Project in 1979. The portamento and guitar leads swell over what is, really, what sounds like a fairly typical Enigma backing track of the period. In a good way.

Second is a cover of Harold Faltermeyer‘s Axel F (1984), now with added samples of someone saying “Give me a big beat,” and another one which you’ll have heard before in The Happy Mondays‘s Hallelujah. Famously, Michael Cretu claims that he doesn’t actually listen to much contemporary music, and that does show sometimes, but this is still a pretty banging track.

Exactly what events led to this collaboration is difficult to fathom. The Enigma project was between albums, with the last album of the original trilogy Le Roi est Mort, Vive le Roi! having come out a couple of years earlier and the follow-up The Screen Behind the Mirror not due until two years later. Cretu’s wife Sandra wasn’t recording at this time either, so perhaps this was just a stopgap, or maybe it was just a bit of fun. The first single Magic Fly had come out the previous year, and was followed by Chase and Crockett’s Theme over the following months.

The great version of Crockett’s Theme is the next track in fact, originally performed by Jan Hammer in 1986. The vast majority of tracks are excellent – they’re all old synth instrumentals, which are rightly regarded as classics by the world at large. This one is particularly good, with bouncy drum lines and a massive synth lead.

Next up is Dance with the Devil, an odd choice given that the original, a 1973 hit for Cozy Powell is largely a drum solo. It works pretty well, but it’s probably the weakest track on what is actually a very strong album. Then the fifth track is the softer and more Enigma sounding Addiction Day, led by a brilliant morphing portamento sound. It’s also one of a couple of exceptions on this album, being a new track written by Jens Gad rather than a cover.

A long take on Ecama‘s 1978 hit Magic Fly follows, now with added samples saying, “I said shut up,” which isn’t too charming. It does sound a little dated now, fifteen years on (remember, in the case of this track, it was only twenty years old when the album was released) but it’s good nonetheless. This is the Wonderland Mix, and without having heard the “original” it’s difficult to know how they actually compare, but it’s a strong lead single.

Chase, also originally performed in 1978 by Hansjörg (better known as Giorgio) Moroder, is up next. It’s a much more atmospheric track than the original, although again it isn’t exactly contemporary, even for the late 1990s – the remixes done a couple of years later for Giorgio’s remix project are much more lively. It is good though – the atmosphere suits it, and it’s another great track.

There are then two more Gad/Cretu originals: Twelve After Midnight and L-42. Although obviously otherwise unknown, both fit in perfectly alongside their more esteemed neighbours, driven again by strong synth leads and sampled spoken vocals. L-42 could even have easily squeezed onto the previous Enigma album and fitted perfectly.

The final track covers Evangelos “Vangelis” Papathanassiou’s 1976 hit Pulstar. More of an extrapolation than a direct cover, it follows a similar pattern to the other pieces – the original melody is accompanied by spoken samples and lots of big synth backing. That description may not do it justice, and just so we’re clear, it is, of course, excellent.

Looking from the distance, both of fifteen years, and from not really knowing its history, Trance Atlantic Air Waves is an odd side-project, but although dated now it’s a good album, and a worthwhile look back at a handful of instrumental synth masterpieces from the preceding thirty years.

To my surprise, you can actually find this album on iTunes, here.

Record Store Day 2013

There’s something rather exciting about Record Store Day – loads of your favourite bands start throwing out obscure releases on bizarre formats. Not downloads, but real, tangible formats.

There’s also something rather disappointing about the whole thing. Of all of the releases I’ve heard about and wanted on Record Store Day, I’ve never actually seen a single one of them. Partly because I’ve always been out of the country every year so far, but partly also because I have a sneaking suspicion that what happens is that it’s actually a day for private dealers and too-keen collectors to swamp record shops and buy all the good stuff out. Anything worth having will be up on eBay within the day. Which seems to slightly defeat the object to me.

In fact, the only release from previous years that I remember having seen is the cassette version of Goldfrapp‘s last album Head First – which is a brilliant idea, but the knowledge that I’d never actually listen to it was what stopped me from buying it at that point.

Anyway, this year’s Record Store Day is this Saturday, and I’m actually going to be in the UK this time, so we’ll see if I can keep hold of my wallet while it happens. Here are some of the highlights of the releases that I spotted:

  • Bent – From the Vaults 1998-2007 (unknown format, 500 copies)
  • Booka Shade – Black Out: White Noise EP (12″)
  • David Bowie – Drive-In Saturday Night (7″ picture disc, 3000 copies), The Stars Are Out Tonight (7″ white vinyl, 5000 copies) and 1965 (7″)
  • Calexico – Spiritoso (LP, 2200 copies)
  • CaribouStart Breaking My Heart (LP), Up in Flames (LP) and The Milk of Human Kindness (LP)
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Animal X (7″ picture disc, 2500 copies)
  • Cut Copy – Bright Like Neon Love (12″, 4000 copies)
  • Duran Duran – Is There Something I Should Know? (7″)
  • Brian EnoNicholas Jaar x Grizzly Bear (10″, 2000 copies)
  • Frankie Goes to HollywoodThe Eye Has It (7″ shaped picture disc)
  • Garbage – Because the Night (10″, 5000 copies)
  • The Human League – Don’t You Want Me (12″)
  • Inspiral Carpets – Fix Your Smile (7″)
  • Junior Boys – Even Truer Remix EP (12″, 400 copies, “regional”)
  • MGMT – Alien Days (cassette single, 2000 copies)
  • Moby feat. Mark Lanegan – The Lonely Night (7″)
  • Mike Oldfield – Theme from Tubular Bells (7″)
  • Pink Floyd – See Emily Play (7″, 5000 copies)
  • Röyksopp – Ice Machine (10″)
  • Sigur Rós – Ágætis byrjun (12″, 982 copies, “regional”) and Hvarf / Heim (double LP)
  • The XX – Jamie XX Edits (12″, 1600 copies)
  • Various Artists – Astralwerks 20/20 (seven 7″ box set, including rare and unreleased tracks by KraftwerkAirThe Chemical Brothers and others, 100 copies, “regional”)
  • Various Artists – Factory Records – Communications 1978-1992 (10″ or 12″ including tracks by Joy DivisionNew OrderDurutti Column and Happy Mondays, 1000 copies)
  • Various Artists – Music from the Motion Picture Drive (LP picture disc of the excellent album with tracks by Kavinsky and Cliff Martinez, 1000 copies, US only)

Which should be more than enough to keep you busy. I’ve no idea what “regional” means. Thanks to the New Vinyl blog for helping with information about the releases. The full list is here for the USA and here for the UK.