Friday, 28 October 2011

Samsung Omnia 7 - Phone Review

Right then time for a phone review. I have owned the Samsung Omnia 7 for long enough to deliver an honest verdict, and that's what you'll get.

Perhaps it is somewhat fitting, today it was reported that Samsung has overtaken Apple in the highly competitive smartphone manufacturing market.  Anyway, the Omnia 7 utilizes the highly attractive Windows Phone 7 interface, which personally I highly approve of. The interaction feels silky smooth, the button areas are perfectly sized on the main screen, and the slightly offset positioning works very well both functionally and aesthetically. The theme itself is pretty much everywhere you look in terms of apps, which themselves appear to be limited in quantity but not quality for WP7 handsets.

The phone itself is a little too large for my liking, it's not quite small enough for you to be able to reach any button without shuffling it in your palm, which will often result in a drop. I'm not joking here, the polished metal back of the phone is ridiculously slippery, making the handset an absolute nightmare to keep a grip on. I eventually dropped mine one too many times and cracked the (expensive) 4" glass screen rather badly. I've been informed it will cost £100 to repair. If you intend to purchase an Omnia 7 do yourself a favour; DO NOT let friends hold it, they will drop it, 100% guaranteed.

Speaking of the screen, it's a damn good one. The 4" high contrast AMOLED touch display looks fantastic from every angle and at the time of release was the leader of the pack in terms of visuals. It's 5.0 camera, although very prone to shake (anti-shake mode is available) , is solid and should be more than sufficient for the majority of owners.

In summary, The Samsung Omnia 7 is a great handset and generally an enjoyable experience. Browsing is a breeze, and the speaker sound quality is good compared to the iPhone and other such competitors. The apps are indeed limited currently, and it is a nightmare to keep a hold of but if you get yourself a case you have a fantastic piece of kit in your hands. Now about that £100 repair...

If you have any further questions don't hesitate to ask via comments.


Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Wombats - This Modern Glitch - My Take

'Indie Landfill' is a term often associated with Liverpudlian three-piece The Wombats.

Bands commonly classified as this genre include The Pigeon Detectives, The View, The Kooks and Scouting for Girls. The bands are characterised by a softer, less aggressive sound than earlier bands (compare with The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys). - Wikipedia

But whether you classify them into that group or not now appears to be irrelevant, after an even catchier, even more fun follow up to A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation was released earlier this year. The deliciously fetching past guitar parts in the style of Moving To New York and Let's Dance to Joy Division are almost completely absent in favour of some fantastic new synth melodies and bass driven tracks.

It speaks volumes that the label has allowed 6 single releases from the album so far. That's funding 6 videos and single pressings as well as the Radio 1 air-play fees. This implies that the label has some serious faith in the tracks themselves, and their chances of selling.

Tokyo (Vampires and Wolves) was the first track to surface and upon first listen it was clear the album was to take a new direction. Track 1 of the album however is ‘Our Perfect Disease’ which introduces a quite danceable side to the Wombat’s music which becomes a recurring theme throughout the album. Jump In To The Fog is somewhat minimalist yet very effective, 6 notes on a synth make up the entire main melody of the song, yet it has a rough and aggressive distortion guitar finale. Anti-D takes a little look over the shoulder taking inspiration from Blur and The Verve in this string-laden ballad, it’s at this point you begin to realise the darker themes for the record.

Almost every song on the album has an enjoyable and strangely uplifting take on a negative theme, that’s a little refreshing and must be recognised. Such was my satisfaction with the album that I went to see them live last month and truth be told it was the most enjoyable gig I’ve had the pleasure of attending. The guys put on a real party for us all and I’m confident there was no one in the room who didn’t thoroughly enjoy the night. The personal highlight for me was the performance of  my album favourite ‘1996’. I urge you check that song out if you need an introduction.

The Wombats will almost never be taken seriously. Singer and songwriter Matt Murphy is a clever chap and capable of writing good tunes, but none of them will ever be virtuoso musicians or song writers that touch the masses. By throwing out fun , danceable indie rock tunes they stick to their best qualities, and put smiles on faces.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


This is going to be something of a departure from my usual posts.

On Monday night I went to my first foam party in a club in Oxford. It started pretty slowly but by the end it was pretty crazy, the whole foam out of a cannon at people dancing thing is ridiculous fun. The thing is, the people who care how they are dancing stop caring because you're knee deep in bubbles any way, it ends up like a close range snowball fight disco blur. Everyone generally has a great time and there is way more interaction between people who don't know each other. I highly recommend trying something like this at your local venue, but prepare to freeze your ass off when you leave!

I'm interesting to hear about some interesting parties and party formats you've been to, so don't hesitate to drop a comment.


Friday, 14 October 2011

Foster The People - Torches - My Take

I'm not entirely sure how the LA trio emerged into radioplay in the U.S., but for us in the UK it is likely we all share a similar story. Radio 1 is playing, it's about 2pm and Greg James, despite being a talented DJ, has little choice but to play the commercial club garbage that Radio 1 are paid to play. He announces his record of the week as Foster The People - Pumped Up Kicks enthusiastically and proceeds to play it. The gentle playful bass line is catchier than anything played all day, these are musicians playing actual instruments for a change. The chorus hook is even more addictive and the song goes down a treat.

The promising signs persuaded me to investigate their upcoming album further, and what I found was more of the same. Mark Foster and his people have a keen eye for a catchy melody, with every song on Torches, whether it be an entire chorus or a little flash of brilliance, there is evidence of this. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here though, there are people out there calling Torches unique, to which they are incorrect; Many places on Torches have been passed through before by MGMT and Vampire Weekend amongst others. Foster's style being similar to VanWyngarden's proves to be a little more than coincidental.

Let's look at some tracks then, the trio of top tier songs upon the first listens are Pumped Up Kicks, Helena Beat, and Houdini. The latter of which I believe to be the best on the album for a little while. Don't Stop, Waste and I Would Do Anything For You all have great choruses at least. Life on the Nickel and Miss You are the weaker tracks on the album with noticeably less appeal to most. That said there isn't really a 'bad' song on the album per se.

They saved the best until last though, the final track Warrant is an absolute gem which will almost certainly get no radio play. The Disney meets Brian Eno introduction is faded to swelling, flickering drums before finding an uplifting bass line, which is eventually met by an equally boosting piano, it really does put a smile on your face in the right circumstance. Mark delivers his most sincere message yet to close what I believe to be one of the albums of the year.

Thanks for reading, I'd love to hear your views on this album in the comments.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

It is worth noting that I'll be posting up a review of this album within the next couple of days. Apologies for my slow updates I've been doing university work amongst other commitments. Stay tuned for my take on one of the albums of the year so far.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Why The Music Industry Is How It is

In your heart of hearts you all know the reason. The reason why no one can get recording contracts except the likes of Jessie J, Kesha and [insert generic popstar who can barely sing]. Even when contracts are handed out these days, the majority are what is called a '360 deal'.

The 360 deal is all encompassing, the traditional deal involved giving the artist an advance to record an album, then the company taking most of the proceeds from sales and the artist taking a significant chunk of live performance revenue. This is no longer the case, the 360 deal again sees an advance and expenses for recording an album, but the record company then takes most of everything. Album sales? Check. Live performances? Check. Television and film royalties? Check. The average pop star is likely to make less than 20p per CD sale in 2011.

The reason for all this is of course is illegal music downloading. Pretty much everyone does it, that's a given. The record companies have no money because no one is buying records any more. They have to aim specifically for artists who tailor to the target audience (the minority purchasing records). That minority is in fact the youngest of the teenagers (who were invented in the 50s specifically to purchase records). Kid hears catchy song without any depth, kid likes song because it's aimed at their age group, kid asks parents to buy CD. Game over.

It used to be different. People used to buy records, everyone did, and that allowed some of the money to go elsewhere. There used to be Michael Jackson, Led Zep, Queen, Elton John all making tonnes of cash which was filtered through the companies, some of which would be re-invested to develop rising artists. Record companies were prepared to risk money on artists like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns n Roses and Metallica. Even up to the days of Eminem, Linkin Park and Muse. Now they need guaranteed returns on their investments without question, so Jessie J and Kesha is what we get until people start buying music again. It's up to us really, it's a shame free is infinitely more attractive than £10.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Endtroducing 2

Music that speaks to the soul is not what you expect to find, but it is indeed what you get with Endtroducing.

I swear I just heard a wookie over a breakbeat. The range of sampling in the record is so diverse and so creative that you have no idea what to expect next. Shadow has not just created a piece of art with this record, but an environment, a universe of it's own. Merely a collection of notes can invoke emotions and feelings, granted, but the real talent here is how Shadow can make the listener feel through the use of sampling, there is no 'I've heard this before' or 'This sounds familiar' whatsoever; the record is completely unique, ground-breaking and ahead of it's time, some may need reminding this was released in the mid 90's where every other teenager wasn't sitting in their bedroom with some production and sequencing software at hand.

Saturday, 8 October 2011


I've just embarked on the journey of listening to DJ Shadow's Endtroducing.

So far I have been exposed to a clever intro piece, a haunting piano floating under and over fast, but well spaced and not entirely in your face drumming, and a flanging wah-ing guitar section creeping in and out. I'm in no position to give a true opinion on this album and won't be for a few more listens, but it's completely blowing me away. This sounds fantastic on an overcast Saturday lunch time, making me wonder what would be the perfect environment for listening to such a record.

Go away and listen to some of this if you haven't, I'll enjoy discussing it at a later date.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Good evening friends,

As you might expect this will be used for several things. I'm happy to review albums, movies and games, and  will be posting personal updates too. I guess it's worth mentioning that my goal in life is to become an audio engineer and or producer, with other music related projects intertwined.

Currently experience the drastic change of going from full time work to full time education. More free time, much less cash.

That will do for this evening, I promise to post more interesting discussions in the coming days.

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