Drum Samples and Artistic Usage

We could sit here all day and bemoan the lack of good drum samples in the charts and the amount of good bands that never made it. Belfast’s Blues are the sort of band that will never make it as big as say Coldplay or Travis. No, they are far more interesting then that. They have the potential to become as important as the Verve or Starsailor, bands that people really listen to. First of all we shall mention ‘Lazy’. What a bloody marvellous song. “Everybody thinks I’m lazy/ but I just love my bed a little too much” Such simple lyrics yet so appealing. Isn’t that how every person in the western world feels every morning?

coldplay drums

‘Beautiful Lies’ is a solid opener and really gets going when the Peter Pratt’s strong, rolling bass-line kicks in to will Collie Stewart’s intimate vocal on and on as the wall of melodic sound ascends into the stratosphere and is joined by some wonderful lead guitar and vinyl scratching from Paul Trimble. ‘Not Around’ serves the listener up a delightful taste of the bands eclecticism starting out as a distant cousin of Neil Young’s I am a Child’ and finishing as a drive time, feel good pop-song which would be a great single. So far so good then.

It is on track five however that we are really treated to something quite special indeed, ‘Soul Song‘. Now hearing this song without knowing who it was you would swear it was Jeff Buckley crooning a classic Otis Redding standard. Its incredible and will become the bands classic. ‘Freedom’ is a wonderful strum along with some wonderful chord changes and delightful ivory tinkling. Maybe it wasn’t intentional and maybe it was but these guys influences have concocted a mix of some credible pop, country, jazz and ‘Lonely Friend’ is tinged with Kurt Cobain’s grunge drum sample style, yet again showcasing the band versatility.

The band are excellent players but not showmen and ‘Streetlife’ is an example of this as they prefer to play around Stewart’s singing, drawing you into the song rather then towards any particular aspect of the instrumentation. Again the Jeff Buckley influence is apparent. ‘Make Me Mine’, ‘ It isn’t How’ and ‘7th Sun’ play out the album out on a resounding note leaving the listener wanting more and reaching for the play button again.You’ll like Blues and once you’ve heard the album in full you’ll go back to it again and again. Isn’t that what a good pop record is about? Great melody, great drum samples and the sweet sound of panning drums. However the song are too unconventional to be pigeon-holed as pop and great things should be expected from this band in the future.

Blues may not be a name familiar to most, but this Irish rock-pop outfit has been steadily gaining popularity across the UK over the past few years. Led by the smooth and folksy vocals of Collie Stewart, Blues has been featured steadily on television and radio shows across British Isles. Through Native Records, the band have released their first wide-release CD, the self-produced “Bluessville”.


Bluessville’s strongest attribute is the almost dizzying amount of genre experimentation it incorporates while maintaining an acoustic rock-pop feel nearly from start to finish. “Lonely Friend” takes a decidedly U2-esque approach in its instrumentation, while “Motion” combines elements the 50’s era pop ballad with blues guitar. “Lazy” is perhaps the only complete deviation on Bluessville, offering a soulful jazz ballad with a soothing atmosphere to match the lackadaisical theme of the lyrics.

Nearly all of the songs contain DJ scratching, which while is in itself is nothing new for modern rock albums, is rarely incorporated into a sound this mellow. Atmospheric sounds and strange Sci-Fi speech samples are occasionally layered on top of the guitar or at the beginning of a track. By the same token, Blues seamlessly blends these electronically-charged sounds with the far more traditional harmonica and slide.

While most of the songs on the album rank from being lightly amusing to infectious, Bluessville’s opening tracks (“Beautiful Lies” and “Not Around” are most likely to win Blues international attention. Both songs have that sing-along quality suitable for radio play while retaining the experimental elements (e.g. the scratching) that distinguish Blues from the masses.

While the album may not appeal to rock purists, Bluessville’s experimentation and light incorporation of electronic and hip hop influences is sure to win many fans in a music world where genres are becoming increasingly hard to define.

On sale in stores throughout the UK, Bluessville is available internationally via Amazon UK, Virgin Megastores online and Pinnacle entertainment. Alternatively you can visit the band’s website (http://www.Bluessville.com) for purchase information and tour dates.

The gloom and darkness of the 1980s and ’90s drum samples are lifting in a veil of glorious new pop music – music that rejects the nihilism and narcissism of punk and grunge, music that actually celebrates beauty, exults in melody, that luxuriates in harmony.

Another exhibit of the revival of beautiful music is Northern Ireland’s Blues.

Blues’s debut CD, “Bluessville,” is an utterly luscious celebration of beautiful music. From the hook-laden melodies in nearly every song to the lush-pile harmonies and wall-of-sound arrangements, this is as accessible an album as you’re going to hear.

One supposes there is no contemporary Irish rock band uninfluenced by U2 or Van Morrision, any more than you could find an American band untouched by Chuck Berry or the Beach Boys. And so both those influences are here, along with similarities to the Cranberries and the Corrs. Other younger, hipper critics are comparing them to Coldplay.

But here’s the thing: Blues is its own animal.

Lead singer Collie has a fully developed vocal style, his own sound. While its reminiscent of other successful singers, it’s not a rip-off or imitation. The guitar players, Richard and Stephen Stewart, have their own thing, too – a dramatic, larger-than-life style that hearkens to Queen’s Brian May with perhaps less flourish and touch more tasteful restraint.

But mostly the magic of their drum sounds comes down to their songs, which are all instantly familiar, like an old friend you’ve only just met. For the socially hypersensitive, it ought perhaps be pointed out that appreciating beauty and light does not mean a band is uncritical. Blues’s songs feature smart, insightful lyrics that tackle serious subjects.

They’re just wrapped in a very decadent aural package.

Is Blues a New Classic for Brit-Rock Fans?

The album feels more like a story than a rock album. As each track unfolds, we see new flavors and new sounds. As a whole, Blues demonstrates a beautifully eclectic sound; incorporating turntables and harmonicas into the same song has never been a popular trend, however Collie and Trimble pull it off beautifully. This eclecticism has its limit though, as is seen in tracks like “Lazy”—a lounge-style tune in which Trimble’s scratches sound a bit out of place—but such mishaps are easily overlooked due to the otherwise flawless incorporation of the decks in songs like “Make Me Mine.” Their stylistic diversity is clearly seen in songs such as “Soul Song,” (which recalls the brightest of U2 in their “Rattle and Hum” days), or “It Isn’t How,” in which, the band even finds a way to incorporate an accordion into Rock and Roll.


Throughout the disc Pratt’s powerful bass-lines drive the sound home, especially in “Butterfly.” The dominance of the Pratt’s work also provides even the most raucous of the bands songs with a jazzy, pensive feel.

“Streetlife” is a perfect example of the bands ability to totally control the mood of a song. It’s less than perfect lyric writing is redeemed by the tightness of the bands performance. The lyrics are reflected beautifully by the pensive euphony of the Stewarts guitars and not only the lyrics, but also the music depicts the loneliness of a solitary walk home on an abandoned street. Other tracks like “Not Around” reveal Blues’s ability to produce beautiful sounds with driving guitars while not losing that wonderfully pensive sound that permeates their music.

Blues could easily become one of the most unique sounds in one of the most polluted styles of the modern music world. All of the elements are there, and potential is seeping out of every note they play. It is hard to say if they reach that full potential with Bluessville, although I assure you that after a few listens you will not be able to get “Not Around” or “Freedom” out of your head. It will be interesting to see where the band goes from here though, with this good of a release, and this much potential, the pressure is on for the future of Blues. All in all, Bluessville is an excellent album from a brilliant band, and a disc that will definitely frequent my CD player.

The roots of Blues and Drum & Bass

Blues drums have been around in one form or another for the past seven years, formed by guitar playing brothers Richard and Stephen Stewart. But it is really only the past three years that has seen the bands sound evolve to what it is today. Unique, mature and confident song writing, fuelled by a diverse range of influences has lead to a catalogue of songs that could happily sit in a number of genres.

drumsIn that time the band have built up a reputation as a compelling live act, with a series of very successful gigs across England, Ireland and Scotland. A reputation reinforced by appearances on UK and Irish television and radio shows.

Collie Stewart’s smooth and soulful vocals are an instantly recognisable strength of the bands sound. The rest of the band creating just the right atmosphere for his beautiful melodies, whether it’s the haunting, reflective ambience of “Streetlife”, the sparkling folk strains of “Freedom” or the pulsing rhythms of “Lonely Friend” and “Butterfly”.

In recent times there have been collaborations with other musicians, artists, sculptors and film directors on a number of projects. The most notable of these being with film student and director Simon Miller to create the award winning short film/music video “Lazy”.

Their self financed, and self produced, full length album “Bluesville” is on release across the UK from September 2003, available from Virgin Megastores and Amazon online retailers.

Not resting on their laurels, the band are currently arranging a series of gigs across the country to promote the album and work has begun on a new batch of songs with a view to recording a second album.

Blues, drum samples and their music will be around for some time to come…