Contrary to the thrust of technological advancement and the desperate and relentless drive further into the whirlpool of “digital revolution” I went out and bought a portable CD player over Christmas.
My CD collection has been gathering dust for some time now, and there’s still hundreds of tracks that haven’t been converted to MP3, and probably never will be. So I’ve plugged it into my iPod dock and it has opened up a whole new world of old music.
My iTunes library has started to stagnate a bit of late, and I must admit the new version seems a bit, well, average.
Besides which, there’s nothing like pulling the sellophane wrapper off a new CD, snapping out the disc and poring over the inlay card and sleeve art while listening to the album in full.
I think it’s an identity thing, and I’m starting to feel that the more I digitise my music collection, the less of an identity it has, and the less of a connection I make with it.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing like cycling to work with the iPod on shuffle, or working in the garden with 6Music or Youtube playing on the mobile phone.
But I despair at times that I have to switch from Spotify to iTunes to Soundcloud to Youtube to CD to Facebook to email to vinyl when I could just grab a CD from the pile and put it on.
And so, this year, I hope to re-acquaint myself with the CD format and start listening to albums in full again.
To kick it off, the new album by Arnside three-piece Gritty Britain was hand delivered by the band’s bassist Colin Salter, and if that’s not direct connection, I don’t know what is.
I immediately felt a duty, but more importantly a desire, to listen to it, pay attention, and appreciate it as an individually created product full of the metaphorical blood, sweat and tears.
Gritty Britain first performed together at Solfest in 2011 and have been gigging around the district throughout 2012, including a slot after The Lancashire Hotpots at Lancaster Music Festival in October.
Tom Heywood, 33, on guitar and vocals, Col Salter, 42, on bass and vocals, and Andrew Slater, 25, on drums have created a 12 track collection full of musings and observations about the seedier side of modern day British life.
Good For Nothing, which was recorded at Shireshead Studios in Forton by Mick Armistead in September, and released on December 17, certainly isn’t for the faint hearted and comes with a parental advisory warning.
Bassist Col said: “It’s a concept album and it came about naturally.
“A lot of people that we thought would like it aren’t so keen, but people we thought would be put off actually love it.
“We played in Manchester at the Royal Exchange and there were about 100 elderly people in the audience, and they were all totally engaged and all laughing their heads off. At the end a little old lady came over and said she hadn’t laughed so much in a long time, she couldn’t wait to hear what was going to come next.”
The album is extremely vocal led, the music simple, and with songs like Beer Goggle Eyes, Light Fingered Larry, Swingers Paradise and My Missus Caught me Watching Porno, you’ve got a pretty good idea what you’re going to get from the off.
There are definitely comparisons to be made to the Arctic Monkeys, the cheeky viewpoints and the situation comedy, and the stories about life on the streets and in the pubs of Britain on a weekend night.
“We’ve had that about the Arctic Monkeys, and also comparisons to Mike Harding,” said Col.
“I think it’s probably down to the northern accent but we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
“We started off as a four piece called Rumour Has It, but it didn’t work out for various reasons, and when we got Slater on board we found it worked really well as a three piece.
“The “this town” referred to in the songs can be applied to anywhere.
“People can relate to it wherever they’re from I think.”
The band now hopes to take their sound further afield, and are planning gigs across the North West, with the first single from the album expected to be Chinese Whispers.
The album sleeve in itself is a nice bit of work too, again, it’s great to have the physical copy, which will shortly find itself between Green Day and Groove Armada on the CD shelf.
Col added: “We didn’t want to overproduce the album, we wanted it to sound how we sound live and I think we’ve acheived that.
“We want to get out and gig now.
“We’ve already got enough material for another album, but at the moment we’re concentrating on getting this one out.”
Gritty Britain perform next at The Variety Bar in Preston on January 19, followed by a gig at The Fighting Cocks in Arnside on February 16.