Friday, 26 July 2013

Festival Tickets - Are You Really Getting Value For Money?

At Musical-Things, we love to get your brains ticking by sharing stimulating articles with you on all sorts of musical topics. So this Friday, in lieu of our usual New Music Friday post, we wanted to share with you an intriguing study by Mike from NerdWallet that will get you wondering whether those tickets you managed to nab for the hottest summer festivals were value for money or simply more money that they were worth. Read on...

Study: Dance Fans save $310.93 on a ticket to Lollapalooza

The big American music festivals set you back as much as $200, $300 or sometimes even $400. Is that a fair price?

In a recent article, NerdWallet answered that question for dance-music fans. If you’re into artists like Major Lazer, Azealia Banks, Hot Chip and more, are you getting you’re money’s worth?
For some festivals, the answer is yes, especially at Lollapalooza, where electronica fans get a $545.93 value – $310.93 more than what you pay for a three-day pass.

For more detail on NerdWallet’s analysis, check out the full study on their website.

What we think.

The fact that all the featured festivals are US-based does not rule out the same being the case for those taking place in UK. So next time, before you join that never-ending digital queue for the latest festival tickets, why not do a bit of research and see if it is really as good a deal as it seems...

Do you think that you are getting your money's worth when purchasing festival tickets? Share your experiences and let us know by commenting below.

Friday, 19 July 2013

New Music Friday - 'Catch A Fire'

This week’s New Music Friday is a bit different – it’s new music in old music. Last weekend we popped along to Royal Festival Hall at London’s Southbank Centre for ‘Catch a Fire’, a re-imagining of Bob Marley and the Wailers amazing album of the same name. Read on…


This sensational new orchestral interpretation of Bob Marley and the Wailers' groundbreaking and iconic album features Jazz Jamaica All Stars, the Urban Soul Orchestra, special guest Brinsley Forde (Aswad) and a 240-voice Voicelab choir.

Originally released in 1973, Catch A Fire announced the arrival of Jamaica's first global superstar, and this melodic, dynamic and heart-lifting musical tribute makes the flames burn even brighter.

Toured in 2012 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Jamaican Independence, the show was a sell-out at Southbank Centre last October. The show is co-produced by Dune Music in association with Tomorrow's Warriors.
Photo and words credit - Southbank Centre

What we think.

‘Catch a Fire’ effortlessly reignited our love of reggae and of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh music. Jason Yarde’s stimulating arrangements completely captured the listeners' mind whilst keeping the essence of the songs present and strong. The vocals were faultless, Forde was the perfect person to take centre stage with his sweet, rustic tone and fantastic reggae delivery.

Favourite moments:

Catch a Fire – musically, it was the arrangement of this song that really blew our mind. The second song in their first set, it really set the tone for the rest of the show. Our favourite moment of the song (and a definite contender for favourite of the show) had to be when the piece literally caught on fire! Starting in the strings section of the Urban Soul Orchestra, a flurry of free improvisation took over, one player at a time, until the musical fire had spread to the whole ensemble. With the bass and drums keeping the original rhythm and bass melody and everyone else going crazy on top, the sound was truly amazing! This is the perfect example of Yarde’s creativity in integrating the name of the piece in the music, adding a new element, which perfectly fit in with the essence of the song.

Stir it up – With one of the most easily recognisable intros of Bob’s music, there was no doubt in the audience’s mind when the skank guitar came in. But nothing could beat the moment when the bass, or in this case the double bass, came in with that famous riff – the audience literally went crazy. Gary Crosby on the electric double bass was a total legend as he lyrically took us through all of the fantastic reggae bass riffs we've come to know so well. If you have never heard reggae bass played on a double bass (as we hadn't done until the show) then it is really a must! The resonance and extra dimension that the double bass brings to the melodies is a sound like no other and completely cemented our bass line obsession even more.

Overall, it was such a pleasure to be able to enjoy great music in a great venue and by amazing musicians. The contrast between ‘Catch a Fire’ and the concerts on the Southbank’s usual programme made it all the more fun. It almost felt like we'd broken in and were having a massive party, of course with dancing mandatory! Here’s hoping that it will be back again next year, so that more people can experience the magic that is ‘Catch a Fire.’

Did you make it down to the Southbank on Saturday? What do you think of this interpretation of Bob's music? Let us know by commenting below.

Friday, 12 July 2013

New Music Friday! - Ciaran McCarthy

Welcome to the weekend! The weather forecasters are predicting that a heatwave is coming soon, so we thought that it was our duty to provide you with some appropriate music, well in advance, for when it arrives. This week's offering is courtesy of a very talented producer from Ireland - here's introducing Ciaran McCarthy. Read on...


Ciaran McCarthy aka Suburban Dream is Irish producer from Kildare who has been releasing material since 2008. In that time he has garnered support Mixmaster Morris, Kid Loco, Nick Warren and radio stations such as Kiss FM, Chill London, Soma and Chilltrax. H ee has also been lucky enough to remix for Kid Loco. Kid Loco's latest release "Trip Hop Classics Vol 2" will feature a previous release of Ciaran's called "Wandering Around."

Suburban Dream Recordings was founded by Ciaran in late 2007, aiming to focus on quality chilled electronic music, from downtempo and ambient to more electro-acoustic sounds. Bucking the trends, Ciaran proclaims that the label "ignores current fads, sticking to making music that is honest, heartfelt and motivated only by love." This latest release is from Ciaran himself under the name he shares with the label, Suburban Dream. The project has released a number of singles, receiving support from the likes of Mixmaster Morris, Ben Mynott (Big Chill), Kid Loco and broadcasters like Soma FM and Chilltrax. Suburban Dream releases works through Parklane Recordings, iLabel, Lushgroove, and Bonzai Elemental but also continues to work with his namesake imprint.

What we think.

Ciaran’s music is effortlessly listenable with the right blend of funky rhythms, a strong bass line and cool production capturing the listener’s interest. His current track, ‘Not Who You Said,’ demonstrates the freshness that Ciaran brings to the music scene through his fun manipulation of vocals layered on top of a chilled instrumental with an up-tempo house beat.

Starting of with a strong bass drum beat, Ciaran quickly and quirkily introduces other percussive sounds into the mix. This includes the little vocal ‘yip’ which, appearing with its delay, is a perfect example of Ciaran’s fun take on rhythm. The introduction of the long held synth notes, addictive bass riff and the succeeding repeated 3-note melody make up much of the melodic and harmonic content of the piece, though later the vocals come in creating another dimension which Ciaran produces smoothly and with stereo mixing to match.

‘Not Who You Said’ is headphone, car stereo and club PA music. It is designed to be heard anywhere and in any context. This is what makes it perfect for the summer season. This track and others from Suburban Dream have an effortless coolness to them. This could come from the urban influences that can be heard in the rhythms Ciaran uses, particularly in the drums and percussion where hints of hip hop are definitely present. His use of piano sounds often carry a jazz vibe but the emphasis is definitely on the improvisational nature and the freedom that it invokes in its more structured environment. His beats are overly catchy and it is difficult to avoid nodding along even in sections when it doesn’t seem obvious or natural to do so.

Ciaran’s success comes largely from his retention of a fundamental fact of popular music – music is meant to be enjoyed. Ciaran ensures that the listener fully enjoys his musical offering by creating something that is so catchy that it’s difficult not too find yourself submitting to the repeat button. Chill out music with a hip hop twist, Ciaran’s music is addictive and Suburban Dream is definitely an addition that everyone needs to add to their collection. Check out ‘Not Who You Said’ below...

‘Not Who You Said’ is out on 16th July. More music and info on Ciaran can be found on his website, Soundcloud, Bandcamp and don't forget to follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Are you feeling the summer music vibes? What device will you be listening to Ciaran on? Let us know by commenting below.

Friday, 5 July 2013

New Music Friday! - Guest Post: Classical Music For You

We have got an extra special treat for you this week to mark the first Friday of July! Our feature today is a guest post from classical music blogger Arnaud Wiehe from the fantastic He's going to talk about a new CD that takes four hundred year old music, recomposed by a living composer, to create a modern sound world that we can't wait for you to hear - here's Max Richter's recomposed Vivaldi Four Seasons. Read on...
Vivaldi Four Seasons Recomposed Max Richter Daniel Hope

I featured the very popular Vivaldi The Four Seasons in a previous post. Despite the Four Seasons being more than four hundred years old, it is one of the most famous pieces of classical music ever written and most people know it. In this recording it is given a 2012 modern treatment and facelift. The movements and timings are almost identical to the original version, which makes the piece instantly familiar, yet still new at the same time. 

Daniel Hope, the violinist on this recording, is a fellow South African, born in Durban. He plays these pieces with crisp precision, excitement and vision. In short, he is incredible in these pieces.

The following quote by the composer, Max Richter, aptly summarises my feelings about this work. "The piece is pretty radical. I've probably thrown away three quarters of the notes, but I've kept the gestures, shapes, textures and dynamics of Vivaldi"-Max Richter.

In short, I am truly excited by and in awe of this achievement. This piece demands to be heard.

Links to the recording:

Recomposed By Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons - Max Richter US Store
Recomposed By Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons - Max Richter, Andre de Ridder & Konzerthaus Kammerorchester Berlin UK Store

If you need any more convincing, then watch this short documentary with comments from the composer and performers.

So what do you think? Do you prefer this interpretation? Let us know by commenting below and don't forget to check out more stimulating posts from Arnaud at