Friday, 30 September 2011

Howling (dumb)bells

The only problem with going away to a fantastic conference and staying up late each night talking science (and nonsense) is that you're knackered when you get home.

Add to that a few vet visits with a sick cat (now better, thankfully), a pile of stuff that has piled up in my absence, and a touch of old-fashioned laziness, and the result is a shameful lack of gym visits since my return.

After a last minute abort the previous night (so tired!), I finally dragged my lazy arse to the gym last night. It turns out that a week of eating lots of food and drinking lots of beer doesn't make you fitter. Who'd have known?

Fortunately, I'm not here today to dwell on my gym skills but rather my gym music. This time, I was listening exclusively to "Howling Bells". I don't know much about them, to be honest, so I won't attempt a biography or anything here. (That's what Wikipedia's for, right?) In fact, I only discovered them yesterday but so far I like what I hear.

The music is good gym music as it's fairly up-beat but is also at that mid-range pitch that copes quite well with background noise. I think it will do well in the car for the same reason. The vocals remind me of a cross between Kate Bush, Natalie Imbruglia and Lilly Allen; quite varied in style but always good. Well worth a listen, in any case.

My "Howling Bells" experience is also a great endorsement for making tracks available for free download. I discovered them through a freebie track on one of my favourite music sites, 7digital. The track was "The Loudest Engine" from the album of the same name. I liked it so much that I looked them up on another favourite music site, emusic, had a quick preview listen and downloaded a couple of albums ("Howling Bells" and "The Loudest Engine".) If it hadn't been for the free track, I probably would have never even listened to them and they'd be two album sales and one fan-in-the-making down!

(I say "album sales", although "album downloads" might be more accurate. With emusic, you pay a set amount each month and get a set amount of downloads. I assume the downloaded artists still get their cut, though. It generally works out cheaper than downloading tracks or albums from iTunes, play.com or 7digital. They don't have a complete catalogue but I have found some of my favourite musical discoveries through emusic, including Rage, The White Stripes, Slash's Snakepit, The Qemists, Black Country Communion, Gomez and others. If you have eclectic tastes and download buy a fair amount of new music each month, I definitely recommend it. You can even sign up for a free trial, which gives you a bunch of downloads and then cancel before having to pay. If anyone does want to check out emusic, though, let me know and I can invite you. I think I/we get some extra free tracks that way, which is nice.)

Location:Southampton, UK

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