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Recycling?

Musical plagiarism or just influence?

This is a subject i’ve wanted to write about for a long time now but i’ve only just found the time to get down to it tonight. The song that made me decide to finally commit to this post was Owl City’s “Fireflies”. I heard it on the radio at work and although i find myself humming along to its undoubted catchiness i still can’t get the fact that he’s ripped off The Postal Service out my head. First time i heard it i actually thought it was a new Postal Service song. He even makes himself sound like Ben Gibbard through extensive autotuner and compression use. Yet i had to laugh when i read an interview with him in which he stated that he had only ever really heard a few Postal Service songs before and that they hadn’t really “caught his ear”.

Here’s the section:

“I’ve become more of a fan (of The Postal Service)  having started Owl City, actually. I had some friends in high school that would have it playing in their cars and stuff. It was cool, but it never really caught my ear. It’s kind of ironic, looking back at it, because a lot of people do relate the two projects. I can totally see it now, but I didn’t really then, for what it’s worth.”

Hmmm…..sorry Owl City but i get a pungent waft of bullshit when i read that.

VIDEO: Owl City – Fireflies

VIDEO: The Postal Service – Such Great Heights

But i’m not picking on or singling out Adam Young for being influenced by The Postal Service. All i’m saying, all i’m asking is how does it come across? Is it plagiarism or coincidental influence/inspiration?

Some of my favourite bands have been hugely influenced by others to the point of almost sounding like them so i’m not saying it’s a bad thing, don’t get the wrong idea. Interpol clearly listened to Joy Divison. A Place To Bury Strangers obviously owned some My Bloody Valentine records. Josh Homme grew up with Black Sabbath and Black Flag. Boards of Canada have heard Brian Eno. I could go on. Put it this way if there was no Jesus and Mary Chain there’d be no BRMC and if it wasn’t for The Cramps or The Birthday Party i’d imagine Eighties Matchbox would sound a bit different. So it is a GOOD thing to be influenced.

MP3: Jesus and Mary Chain – Degenerate

MP3: Black Rebel Motorcylce Club – Whatever Happened To My Rock N Roll

MP3: The Birthday Party – Release The Bats

MP3: Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster – Morning Has Broken

Without a shadow of a doubt one of the hardest things to do in music is create a truly original sound. There’s that much music around that it’s nearly impossible to create a song that cannot be compared to another band or another song. Personally i feel that bands are now labelled as “the new insert famous band name here” too much, there’s nothing wrong with comparisons but it get’s a bit boring when every week some new band are being labelled as the new Sex Pistols, the new Oasis, the new Green Day or the new Babylon Zoo. Ok, forget that last one. In fact forget them all, i’m not a fan of any of the bands i mentioned, they’re just the first famous-ish ones that popped up. I have in fact been guilty of labelling bands once or twice myself to be honest. On this very blog actually, i believe i said Japandroids could be the new Death From Above 1979 but i did state that i also don’t like labelling bands.

“….Make no mistake, these guys have the potential to be the new Death From Above 1979. Although to be honest i don’t like comparing bands to each other, it’s not fair on either so instead i’ll just say the Japandroids sound like they might be influenced by DFA and it’s a badge they seem to wear with pride.”

But that’s going slightly off subject. This is about the plagiarism/influence debate not labelling bands. So back to it, here’s a few examples of apparent plagiarism. Some are obvious, some are slightly similar.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs vs Love and Rockets

The Accused: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Gold Lion

The Original: Love and Rockets – No New Tale To Tell

Hockey vs anything by Tom Petty (this was a suggestion by Emma)

The Accused: Hockey – Song Away

The Original: Tom Petty in general

Elastica vs Wire

The Accused: Elastica – Connection

The Original: Wire – Three Girl Rhumba

Green Day vs The Kinks

The Accused: Green Day – Warning

The Original: The Kinks – Picturebook

Nirvana vs Killing Joke vs The Damned

The Accused: Nirvana – Come As You Are

The Other Accused: Killing Joke – Eighties

The Original: The Damned – Life Goes On

Couldn’t find an embeddable (is that a word Kempy?) video for this one so here’s the MP3

MP3: The Damned – Life Goes On

So it can be everything from drum beats to chord progression and rhythms to vocal delivery, it’s more or less all been done before by someone somewhere. That’s not to say there’s nothing original left but it is does make for a good debate on similarity, comparisons and the old age debate of a blatant rip off. And what does it tell us about music today? Has it really all been done? Or is that unknown chord still out there waiting to be found?

I mean, bands take influences on board, of course they do. If you grow up listening to certain music and then you yourself begin to play music, of course you’re going to have taken something from the music you love. The chances are that the band you love and are influenced by have themselves been influenced by someone else. It’s an endless line of influence, a knock on effect, a domino effect, musical dominoes if you like.

I only discovered about three years ago that what i thought was part of one of the best Queens of the Stone Age drum intros ever is in fact copied straight from a Black Flag song. One of the opening drum segments of “Song For The Dead” and the intro to “Slip It In” are pretty much identical. Queens of the Stone Age actually came out and stated that the intro to “Song For The Dead” is in fact an homage to Black Flag. All together now….Awwwww, bless.

MP3: Queens of the Stone Age – A Song for the Dead

MP3: Black Flag – Slip It In

I, myself have questioned what i come up with when writing tracks or making music. I constantly find that i tell myself “oh you can’t have that at the breakdown bit, it sounds too much like QOTSA” or “you can’t use that intro, it sounds like a Mogwai rip off”. Just the other week i wrote a song that i thought sounded too much like something Boards of Canada would compose, i kept it in mind anyway and called it “Bored Of Canada”. It sounds a little bit like this one by the reclusive legends…

MP3: Boards Of Canada – Julie and Candy

So the whole thing i’m getting it here with this post is..

When does influence become plagiarism? Or does it all? Is it mere coincidence?

It’s a subject that is and always will be open to debate.

Opinions welcome.

Also, feel free to leave any other songs you believe to be plagiarised. I’d like to here what others think.

S.I.T Wolf X

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9999 Problems (and a mix ain’t one)

Woke up really early yesterday morning, couldn’t get back to sleep so decided to fuck about with a Jay Z instrumental track i had and use some of the random acapellas i had lying around to make an interesting piece of bootleg material. The resulting piece of bashed up glitchness that emerged pleasantly surprised me. This is just a rough demo version, like i said i put it together in the early hours of a sunday morning (probably whilst still under the influence of alcohol). It only took about an hour tops to make this version but i’m going to redo it and maybe add some more acapellas and maybe even some different beats.

MP3: Someones In The Wolf – 9999 Problems (rough version)

Someones In The Wolf 9999 Problems

Mash-up details:

Instrumentation: Jay Z

Acapellas: (in no specific order) Queens of the Stone Age, Radiohead, Muse, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Nine Inch Nails, The Killers, Bon Jovi (yes,….. Bon Jovi)

Feel free to download the track from here or if you just wanna listen to it and listen to a few other tracks i’ve done head over to http://www.myspace.com/someonesinthewolf

*Photography and artwork credit for the 9999 Problems cover goes to Aiobfan O’Hara*

S.I.T Wolf  X

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True Love Waits and The Weight of True Love

broken heart

I know its Valentines Day tomorrow  and i don’t want to dampen the mood for people but seen as today is Friday the 13th i’ve decided to put a post up for those that are unlucky in love. Songs for people that have experienced broken hearts, for people that have broke hearts themselves (everybody has) and for the lots of people who will spend Valentines Day alone this year.

The first bunch of songs are ones of loss, hurt and memories. The usual suspects like Jeff Buckley and Bon Iver are in there but there’s a few others that i thought would fit in quite nice. I’m not Coldplays biggest fan but even i can’t deny “The Scientist” is a touching ode to lost love. The Twilight Singers went for an orchestral background and a boy/girl conversation type song on “Number Nine”.  Whereas “No One’s Gonna Love You” by Band of Horses and “Maps” by the YYY’s are more stripped back but no less haunting. The Postal Service also go for the boy/girl conversation point of view on the ethereal “Nothing Better” whislt managing to keep their trademark bleepy sound. Mystery Jets, Chairlift and Bloc Party bring an indie touch to the mix with tales of bruised love (literally) and broken dreams . Frightened Rabbit’s song about “getting your hole” (as they so delicately put it) offers something a bit more awkward and an altogether different outlook on finding love or thinking you’ve found love. And then there’s the classic break up song by Fleetwood Mac. “Go Your Own Way” was written and recorded just after band members Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks broke up and the tension and emotion is clear for all to hear as they share vocal duties.

MP3s
Jeff Buckley – Last Goodbye
Bon Iver – Skinny Love
Coldplay – The Scientist
The Twilight Singers (feat Mark Lanegan) – Number Nine
Band Of Horses – No One’s Gonna Love You
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Maps
Mystery Jets – Flakes
Chairlift – Bruises
Bloc Party – I Still Remember
Frightened Rabbit – Keep Yourself Warm
Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way

hmed_brokenheart
The next trio of songs are the polar opposite of the ones above. Instead of  getting you down or making you feel sorry for yourself these songs might make you feel better about a break up. From the slightly sarcastic and provoking “I Never Wanted You” by Headphones, right though to the pretty blatant “fuck you” blasts from The Avalanches and McAlmont & Butler.

MP3s
Headphones – I Never Wanted You
The Avalanches – Since I Left You
McAlmont & Butler – Yes

The last song doesn’t really need any description. One of the most simple but moving songs ever. Probably something to do with the fact that Thom Yorkes vocals still sound so fragile when he sings live.

MP3: Radiohead – True Love Waits (live)

hearts on hands

And thats it for my first real post. Don’t worry they won’t all be this doomy and gloomy. It just happens to be one of those days today.

Kali Nichta

S.I.T Wolf   x

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