Top 10 Albums of 2016
2016 has seen vinyl albums sore, great new artists emerge and a great loss of musical talent in the industry.
The Last Shadow Puppets – Everything you’ve Come to Expect
An 8 year wait marks a return for duo the Last Shadow Puppets offering Everything you’ve Come to Expect and my number one in the top 10 of 2016. Aviation is charming and seductive being described as psychedelic pop hooking the listening from the get go. Miracle Aligner, Everything you’ve Come to Expect and Bad Habits all have lyrics and roll of the tongue song titles with its smart production of James Ford with a simple yet effective sound.
Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
Kanye’s latest album has received a lot of media attention since its release in February this year and will probably be featured on numerus top 10 albums of 2016 lists. Often West’s person is often overlooked by his music but this is nevertheless a personal top 3 album of 2016. Singles Famous and Fade demonstrate West’s versatility as an artist pushing creative boundaries with reports earlier this year of him scrapping the entire album because he wasn’t happy with the sound – and it was definitely worth the wait. I Love Kanye is a mocking, tongue n’ cheek track to all the people who believe Kanye’s bad persona in the press. The album can be overlooked but is definitely a grower need to have a few listens to understand the great Life of Pablo.
Kings of Leon – Walls
Waste A Moment kicks of Kings of Leon’s 7th studio album demonstrating the admiration for the Tennessee band. The track is a slick, confident sounds from the boys with a repetitive chorus. Over, Muchacho and Conversation Piece show band’s subtle indie side with tier acoustic guitar, raw vocals and laid back melancholy sound.
Two Door Cinema Club – Gameshow
The 3rd studio album from Irish trio is an electron, 80’s inspired sound. Are We Ready? (Wreck) is a fun, poppy track marking a welcoming return to the band. Released in October the album saw great reviews and an album perfect to get you through the winter blues. Highlights of the album include Bad Decisions, Gameshow and Good Morning showcasing their versatility as a band.
Jack Garratt – Phase
Jack Garratt’s Phase is a creative, unique and beautiful debut album from the Buckingham born singer songwriter. Breathe Life has an influence of Foals and The Maccabees with his delicate vocals, vibrant sounds and energetic chorus. Weathered is a heartfelt track with its symphonic sounds and acoustic guitars making it a great laid back track to listen to on a lazy Sunday.
Drake – Views
2016 has been Drake’s year. Views, his 7th studio album, marked big tracks such as One Dance, Hotline Bling and Too Good saw a global audience push Drake onto a new level of credibility as a rapper. Highlight of the album is Controlla the slow intro flowing beautifully with Drake’s smooth vocals as an artist.
Bloc Party – Hymns
Released in January Hymns by Bloc Party is my 8th choice in my top 10 albums of 2016. The Love Within is the opener of a 15 track album. Quirky, poetic and electro choruses is one of my favourite tracks of the year with no track sounding like this at the moment. The band marks a different direction for the four piece band with frontman Kele’s vocals is powerful and passionate making it a memorable track.
Beyoncé, – Lemonade
Lemonade is Beyoncé’s 6th studio album and second visual released in April 2016. Exclusive to Tidal, Beyoncé’s Lemonade saw Hold Up, a reggae influence showcasing another side of Beyoncé’s musical roots. The creativity in sound and production has evolved since her 2003 debut release Crazy in Love.
Catfish And The Bottlemen – The Ride
The Ride, Catfish and the Bottlemen’s release, didn’t have the dreaded difficult 2nd album syndrome being a firm favourite amongst fans in2016. Opening track 7 is a classic indie track with fast bridges, slow chorus and a great live track. Twice and Soundcheck are fast-paced with its thunderous drums, scuzzy guitars and confident vocals from frontman Van McCann.
Jake Bugg – On my One
On my One the third release from 22 year old songwriter Jake Bugg. A solemn, dark opening track On my One is hauntingly beautiful. Bugg’s acoustic guitar and strong vocals prove his raw talent and frank lyrics. Gimme the Love is a fast spoken, driven track with scuzzy guitars and flippant symbols reminiscent of Bugg’s early tracks Lighting Bolt which had the same vibrant energy.
Live Review: Jack Whitehall live at Soho Theatre
Jack Whitehall played at London’s Soho Theatre, on Saturday, in preparation of his upcoming UK arena tour ‘At Large’ in February 2017. Making his own personal announcement and welcoming himself to the stage, Whitehall played to an intimate 140 seater capacity venue.
Opening up his set by recalling his recent trip to the U.S. and telling us how he tried to break America only for his efforts to be thwarted by continual misfortune. Whitehall was off to a great start and continued by regaling us with his excitement in seeing a fellow passenger watching his DVD while up in the air. Nonetheless the comedian’s proud moment was ruined, as the person in question, turned off his DVD after 5 minutes instead choosing to watch the in-flight entertainment.
Hotels were the next topic of focus as Jack explained how he had to switch hotels while on tour. He actively showed how he loved staying away from home because of the “hotel freebies” he received. Listing many of the “freebies” he had gained while on tour that included a surprise which he pulled out of his back pocket to the astonishment of audience members.
No topics were left unturned by the comedian as he was just as happy ripping into A League of their Own co-stars Freddie Flintoff and Jamie Rednapp as he was talking about his recent experience on the Royal Variety show and his brief encounter with Prince Harry. Whitehall demonstrated affection towards the royal family member and how he would love to see the prince in charge of the country, even if it was only for a week.
A highlight of the set included how the comedian experienced his first Muslim wedding and touching on taboo subjects of how they do not drink at the ceremony. Whitehall described how this led to an encounter with an 8 year old child in saving the day in playing a game of “would you rather?”. The comedic style Whitehall projects through his engaging and charismatic persona is conveyed to the audience and it’s easy to see why he is one of the popular comedians, personalities and panellists on the TV in recent years.
Whitehall’s set was a strong first work in progress show and one of the best preview’s I have seen in recent years. The Whitehall’s set was confident from start to finish with not much material not needing alteration for the mammoth ‘At Large’ arena tour that is ahead of him.
Live Review: Florence & the Machine, Live at Hyde Park
Florence and the Machine marked a triumphant return to London with a sold out performance at British Summer Time, in Hyde Park on Saturday 2 July 2016. Upon making her entrance to the stage Florence promised a magical set with a homecoming gig in support of her successful 3rd album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful.
Making a gracious entrance to the stage Florence and the band open with ‘What the Water Gave Me’, a dark and eerie start to a 16 song set spanning her 3 #1 records.
Ship to Wreck lightened the mood with Florence owning the stage and being one of the most prominent frontwomen of this generation. Her charismatic and energetic persona is fully showcased as she runs across the stage frantically making the crowd sing along with her.
Queen of Peace featured an extended outro with dancers joining Florence on stage with the singer-songwriter herself taking part in the choreography.
Highlight of the set was What Kind of Man. The dark and heavy sound filled Hyde Park with ease and demonstrated Florence’s creativity and evolvement as an artist willingness to push boundaries, we’re all reminded why she’s become so popular on both sides of the Atlantic.
The visual projection of her Odyssey project (which she worked on with director Vincent Haycock) were played in the background over the course of her performance and it really helped being the stage to life. The performance across the set was special and powerful watching Florence live up to her Glastonbury headline performance last year. The frontwoman kept the audiences energy at a high throughout her set and didn’t dampen the mood with the rain and mud.
Album Review: Play it Again Sam (PIAS) Alternative Spirit
When you think of the words alternative spirit you think -upbeat, raucous indie-pop music and that’s exactly what this new PIAS compilation album provides. The album consists of 39 tracks from artists such as Roisin Murphy, Basement Jaxx and Fleet Foxes.
Alt-J‘s Left ‘Hand Free’ is a fun opening track with its catchy hooks and upbeat melodies – a perfect intro that leads into The Black Keys track ‘Tighten Up’ which is one of the compilations many highlights. With a raw, blues sound it’s everything you’d want (and expect) from a Black Keys track.
One of the more guitar heavy tracks comes courtesy of Bloc Party and their contribution ‘3×3’. Its hard-hitting vocal and frantic playing remind us just how good their album ‘Four’ (which the song was featured on) was.
‘The Last Garrison’ is one of Enter Shikiri’s most popular tracks and the loud and boisterous track is a great pick me in the album and cannot help but want to head bang along to the track. The album takes a different musical turn with Irish trio Two Door Cinema Club and their 2010 track ‘Undercover Martyn’, its upbeat, poppy sound makes it a great summer track and fitting for a festival sunset with a beer in hand.
Overall the compilation album gives something for everyone demonstrating the talent the label have released over the years. It’s nice to be able to reminisce over some of the older songs as well as hearing upcoming bands to look out for.
Live Review: We are Fstvl 2016
There can be no better way to spend your bank holiday weekend than being at a music festival. We Are Fstvl took place on 28 and 29 May 2016 at Upminster, London bringing a glimpse of British summertime to the Airfield of Dreams.
On a day filled with acts and artists from upcoming to acts to those who have been DJing for decades, the day was predominantly owned by the legendary DJ that is Fatboy Slim. The successful dance producer’s career spanning set included reworked tracks such as Praise You. Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim’s stage presence kept the audience alive the addition of fire machines, a confetti blaster and smiley face blow up balls all added to the atmosphere.
Track Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat saw the volume turned up playing Calvin Harris’ remix of the song whilst 1997 release Renegade Master brought the old school dance to the We are Fstvl attendees. Fatboy Slim’s DJ sets leave no song unturned with The Sugarhill Gang’s Apache (Jump On It) just one of the many additions. The set marked the end of day one and left the audience with high expectations set for the Sunday.
The second part of the festival saw Craig David presents TS5 bring his chart topping success to We Are Fstvl. Craig mixed tracks as well as singing both covers and his own releases including recent 2015 success When the Baseline Drops featuring Big Narstie. Tracks such as TLC 1999 release No Scrubs which got the audience singing along on a Sunday afternoon as well as Rihanna’s recent release Work was covered brilliantly vocally from the garage artist. Craig played throwback track 7 Days from his 2000 release Born to Do it which gave the singer recognition with his versatility mixing old school with R&B.
DJ Snake’s was the warmup act for Steve Angello and his set was a little uninspired, it often felt messy and didn’t manage to reach the levels of Tchami who got the crowd into a frenzy as the sun was about to set. The French DJ played critical acclaimed track Promesses which received a great reaction from the festival goers being one of the highlights across the weekend.
Radio 1 and high profile DJ Danny Howard took to the main stage showing off his dance DJ credentials to a sell-out crowd. Danny Howard is a complete natural and kept the audience’s energy levels up with new and recent releases.
Headliner Steve Angello closed the main stage with a set which can only be described as magical. As one third of one of the biggest dance supergroups of all time Angello lived up to the headliner performance and expectation; pyrotechnics, lighting and fireworks all helped him close a successful weekend at We are Fstvl.
Top 10 Acts To See At We Are Fstvl 2016
We are Fstvl 2016 is set to the biggest line up yet with over 200 acts announced across 16 stages.
The two day festival takes place at the Airfield of Dreams, London on 28-29 May. With too many acts to choose from we have narrowed it down to our top 10 recommendations from the line-up.
No dance festival line up would be the same without mentioning legendary DJ Fatboy Slim. Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim will return to We are Fstvl headlining the main stage on Saturday. Spanning two decades with a back catalogue of hits including -Rockafella Skank, Right Here, Right Now and Praise You a chance to see the producer live is a must.
One third of one of the biggest super group’s Swedish House Mafia, Steve Angello closes the festival on Sunday. For a DJ, who has played gigs around the world from Madison Square Garden to Las Vegas’ Jewel Nightclub, seeing Angello live will be a treat for festival goers in a rare London festival appearance.
DJ Fresh will bring his raw and unique live show to the Airfield of Dreams this year. Known for his collaborations with the likes of Rita Ora, Ella Eyre and Ms Dynamite, DJ Fresh has become an influential figure in the drum’n’bass music scene.
The Grammy nominated producer will see him keep the energy levels high before Steve Angello headlines the main stage. Working recently on two Lady Gaga releases we can expect a live performance that we won’t forget in a hurry. DJ Snake has seen him experiment and push the dance genre in recent years with a different direction of sound.
Most recently known for their work with Calvin Harris; with the worldwide smash of ‘How Deep Is Your Love’, Disciples have already made quite a name for themselves. Their track Remedy, which was released last year, became an underground hit for the 3 piece and since has seen them enjoy mainstream success with their retro sound.
The French DJ will bring his unique live shows to the main stage on Sunday’s line up. Gaining support from the likes of Diplo, Skrillex and Dillion Francis -Tchami has become an overnight success thanks to his remix of Janet Jackson’s ‘Go Deep’. Since then the track has led him to DJ across the world remixing some of today’s most popular songs.
MK aka Marc Kinchen has had an unbelievable 18 months. The DJ has gained vast attention and airplay by adding his touch to some of the biggest summer tracks including -Lana Del Rey, Chris Malinchak and Sam Smith to name a few. Headlining the 3rd stage MK will see him undoubtedly remix more of our favourite tracks ready to get the festival season into full swing.
Hannah Wants has truly earned her live credentials -being a self-taught DJ. A special guest on the 3rd, before MK headlines, Hannah Wants bring her unique and relentless live energy to We are Fstvl this year.
The UK’s very own Shadow Child plays as part of Sunday’s line up. Simon Neale has been performing as Shadow Child, since 2012, he has notably released a vast collection of singles including Climbin which is a perfect summer track.
The Berlin born DJ has seen him make his mark across the dance world in recent years. Tracks such as Pushing On caught everyone’s attention due to its catchy, upbeat hooks; it’s a great track to see live. While Dollar recently released techno track Watch Me Work; unexpectedly taking a different direction in sound.
Local London lad Sub Focus will play the Favela Fiesta zone of the festival site. Releasing music since 2003, Sub Focus has had a number of successful singles, many of which have touched on many different genres including: electronic, dubstep and drum’n’bass. Sub Focus will no doubt offer a crowd-pleaser of a set and deliver something for everyone.
Final Ticket Release For We AreFstvl 2016
Winner of Best New Festival and Best International -We are Fstvl returns for a 4th year with a final batch of tickets released.
The festival, which takes place on bank holiday weekend 28-29 May, will see a queueing system in place this weekend for a chance to grab tickets and join 50,000 other festival goers. Due to high demand there is a limited amount of final day tickets for Saturday have been released while Sunday door tickets are now on sale.
Armand Van Helden, Henrik Schwarz and Hold Youth are the latest additions to the electronic and dance festival. The acts will join some of the biggest Dj’s in the world with the likes of Fatboy Slim, DJ Philip George and Steven Angello at the London festival held at the Airfield of Dreams, Upminster.
We Are Fstvl 2016 kicks off the UK’s summer festival season with over 200 DJ’s and acts set to play across 16 stages deciding who too see this year will be tough plan ahead to avoid those stage clashes of your must see acts. This year’s festival will be bigger and better and will see new stylised arenas and structure across the site. There are five different zones featured at the site including Ancient Realm, Favela Fiesta and Island Hideaway separating the acts and stages.
Saturday will see Fatboy Slim, aka Norman Cook, return to the 2 day festival headlining the main stage. The English DJ recently collaborated with actor and DJ Idris Elba with a track titled ‘The Road Less Travelled’ for Elba’s latest cinema release Bastille Day. The iconic DJ will play tracks from his decade spanning back catalogue.
Heading the Sunday will be Greek-Swedish DJ Steve Angello playing tracks from his recent release Wild Youth. The Swedish House member will most likely mix tracks from his former super group which will no doubt send festival goers into a frenzy.
VIP tickets for We are Fstvl are available offering private stage performances from Roger Sanchez, Amine Edge & DANCE and Todd Terry in a more up close and personal area and see play live. The VIP also includes a chance to indulge in the award-winning cocktail bars and hot tubs for those who are harder at surviving at a music festival
Album Review: Phase -Jack Garratt
Winner of the Critics’ Choice category at this year’s Brit Awards, BBC Sound Poll of 2016 and shortlisted for MTV’s Brand New 2016. Jack Garratt has a received a great amount of expectation to live up to with his debut album Phase.
Coalesce (Synesthesia Pt II) is a gentle opening to the album with a fade in of Garratt’s subtle vocals. The track is the first of many surprises featured on Phase with the exploding of an electronic chorus thrown in the proceedings.
The Brit has rightly earned the aforementioned recognition, as shown with tracks like Breathe Life which features catchy beats with its keys and percussion helping make the song come alive. The positive and upbeat lyrics against Garratt’s soft vocals are pop perfection.
Far Cry is a beautiful track with a gentle piano introduction against a rollercoaster of genres – including pop, blues and electronic. The emotive vocals from the 24 year old feel personal discussing love and relationships.
A personal highlight is Weathered. The raw, harmonic single features breathy vocals elevating the track to another level. The sensitivity is prominent with ‘And if I never let you go, will you keep me young’. The lyrics feel as if Garratt’s heart and soul is poured into the song.
Worry and The Love You’ve Given – both released as singles – has helped propel Garratt’s career into the mainstream reaching number 3 on the UK album charts. Worry is catchy and versatile likewise to The Love You’ve Given showcasing the songwriters unique ability to experiment in sound.
Phase showcases Garratt’s pure talent as a multi-instrumentalist, playing all instruments featured on the album. As well as the production, mixing and vocals Garratt’s impressive skills proves he is a man of many talents. The mixture of genres with an electronic sound incorporated with soft soul, Garratt’s experimentation has pushed the creative boundaries in music for 2016.
Jake Bugg, Live at the Village Underground
Jake Bugg made a live return playing Shoreditch’s Village Underground in a series of London compass shows. On My One made a dark and moody start to a 13 song set from the 22 year old. The track pinpoints Bugg’s loneliness and relentless touring while being on the road. The frank lyrics showcase Bugg’s great ability as a songwriter since his self-titled debut release in 2012.
The first half of the set saw a slower pace with Simple as This, Country Song and A Song About Love fitting for the cathedral’esque setting. The singer’s vocal is raw and easily reaches the back of the venue.
A highlight of the performance was new single Gimme the Love. The song received a great reception from the audience with its quick-paced and fast lyrics it’s juxtaposed from On My One (also featuring on Bugg third studio album released June this year.) Gimmie The Love is a confident and cocky sound from the Nottingham born singer sounding in true form of Bugg’s signature style.
The first of four London shows, the musician kept audience interaction at a minimal with no stopping between tracks. Towards the end of the set saw firm favourites Slumville Sunrise and Two Fingers played proving why Bugg has become one of the most aspiring young musicians the UK has ever produced.
Live Review: Rudimental, ive at the o2 Arena
Rudimental played what felt like a homecoming show to a sold out O2 Arena on 3 March. The four-piece kicked off the first leg of their UK tour in support of their 2nd studio album We the Generation. Lead single Never Let You Go – which is somewhat of a slow starter – emerges into a traditional, upbeat Rudimental chorus that the crowd were more than happy to embrace.
Few people might know that Rudimental actually co-wrote Ed Sheeran’s single Bloodstream (with Sheeran and Gary Lightbody), and their live adaptation – though not featuring Ed Sheeran himself – did not dampen the joyful atmosphere; the East London musicians’ raw energy was more than enough to hold up their live show.
The band’s stage presence could rival fellow world class musicians who have been in the game much longer than these relatively new boys, and this is all helped by a host of guest vocalists and proficient band members all filling the stage.
Rudimental burst onto the scene in 2012 with debut album Home. Since then, the four members have gone on to work with the likes of Emeli Sande, Foxes and Becky Hill, propelling drum’n’bass into the mainstream charts. A standout point of the gig was the group’s biggest single to date Feel The Love which deservedly reached number 1 in the UK charts with its intense vocals from John Newman.
Finishing the set was the anthemic Waiting All Night; a fitting way to close the performance to a 20,000 strong crowd. Confetti cannons and the jubilant echo of sing-a-longs as Rudimental left the venue served to prove just how they have managed to sell out arenas across the UK in such a short time.
Live Review: The Chainsmokers, Live at Heaven
The Chainsmokers took to London’s Heaven as part of their European tour to liven up a mundane Wednesday evening.
The set saw tracks taken from their 2015 debut EP Bouquet playing -Waterbed, Until You Were Gone and Roses. All the songs Chainsmokers played went down well, Roses was a particularly memorable part of the show, the slower beat with a catchy and fun chorus created something different to rest of the set and quite in contrast to the up-tempo Until You Were Gone which would fit into any Ibiza club at the moment.
The New York duo consisting of Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall sees an experimental take on electro house. Recent releases such as Don’t Let Me Down (which features singer Daya) is a soft track, the delicate vocal and a relaxed melody pushes the music genre in a different direction from the American DJ’s.
With its 80’s influences, heavy synth and nostalgic sounds of electro, Split (originally recorded and performed with renowned DJ Tiesto) was a highlight of the gig. The stage presence of the DJ’s did not go unnoticed with stage projections and smoke cannons helping to close the 90 minute strong set. Fan favourite Kanye saw gig goers sing and bounce along in unison. Their energetic, upbeat and enchanting performance was prominent throughout the whole set making them an in-demand act to see live.
Album Review: SIA, This is Acting
The latest album from Sia – This is Acting is a follow up to her successful 2014 album 1000 Forms of Fear and her 7th studio release. This is Acting is a self-written album by the Australian singer and consists of twelve tracks, some of which the singer wrote for the likes of Rhianna but were turned down, knowing this it might leave some listener feeling that This Is Acting is a second hand record with the tracks being released for the sake of it, however there are still some great moments.
Opening track Bird Set Free showcases Sia’s empowering vocal, the soft, angelic keys in the intro entice us in before imploding into a dramatic chorus elevate Bird Set Free. Toning down the album is Alive, which is a mediocre track and unfortunately doesn’t live up to the song title. Only Sia’s confident vocals help savour the song but there’s not enough vibrancy or creativity pouring out of the track for it to be considered memorable.
Move Your Body and Cheap Thrills aid the energetic production of This is Acting with the fast, catchy beat being fitting for a nightclub. Move Your Body lives up to the track title with influence of latino music.
Sia has only become prominent in the music industry in recent years with her personality is being showcased through her tracks, this is a theme noticeable on a few particular tracks including: Unstoppable, Broken Glass and Space Between which are confident and empowering numbers from the 40 year old songwriter.
Sweet Design is experimental track and feels a little misplaced, but on the whole it’s fast and fun and it’s always healthy to see a musician pushing their boundaries.
Overall, This is Acting feels like a rushed album, Sia’s undeniable raw vocal talent is captured here and there are a few standout moments but the overall song writing doesn’t see the Australian at her very best.
Album Review: Cage The Elephant -Tell Me I’m Pretty
Cage The Elephants recent release Tell Me I’m Pretty is an evolvement for the Kentucky band – with production from The Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach.
Auberbach’s influence across the album is prominent from the get go with opening track -Cry Baby. Scuzzy guitars and blues inspired the track feels as if Auerbach is producing a Black Keys album revolutionising the original 5 piece band’s sound. A hypnotic vocal from frontman Matthew Shultz elevates the track giving its raw edge in whichCage The Elephant still obtain in their 4th studio album.
First single to be taken from the LP is Mess Around, marking their return to the music scene. Catchy, fun and upbeat, Mess Around will sure set to be a highlight across festivals this summer.
Sweetie Little Jean begins with a slower pace before leading into a fast chorus of drum roles which showcase their versatility as a band. They’ve certainly come a long way since their self-titled debut album in 2008. Notably the album shows a subtler side to the band with the acoustic guitars used in How Are You True; mark a true standout point from the album, portraying a vulnerable yet angelic side to the production.
Overall Tell Me I’m Pretty is a confident album from Cage The Elephant. Auerbach’s strong production helps freshen the band both musically and lyrically making Cage The Elephant more creative as a 5 piece. However, some tracks (including Punchin’ Bag) leave little to the imagination and could leave listeners feeling as though there is too much Black Keys inspiration.
Live Review: Galantis at Heaven
London nightclub ‘Heaven’ recently played host to international DJ’s Galantis catching them in an intimate performance of the 1600 capacity venue.
The Swedish electronic duo (Christian Karlsson of Miike Snow and Linus Eklow of Style of Eye) proved they could get a crowd going no matter the audience as part of their European tour in support of their debut album Pharmacy, released last June.
Tracks that really stood out in the live environment were Forever Tonight and Gold Dust; initially starting with a slower pace before building the crowd into a frenzy. The atmosphere of the gig was lively especially for a Wednesday evening with the gig goers bouncing along to every track. This was only encouraged by the DJ’s who were jumping of the decks, waving flags and bouncing along in sync with the audience.
Remixes of Jess Glyne, The Weeknd and Drake’s Hotline Bling were nestled in the set accompanied by background projection of Drake’s recent mainstream dance. Galantis pushed the boundaries interlinking genres of dance, pop and indie by including the likes of Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes.
Mainstream hit Peanut Butter Jelly got the crowd in a singalong with its upbeat hooks and catchy tones. Nevertheless Runaway (You & I) saw a momentous close and a fitting way to end the DJ’s set as the track earned Galantis international success in 2014.
Best albums of 2016
A round up of my 3 favourite albums of the year – including Kanye West, Drake and Kings of Leon.
Kanye West -The Life of Pablo
The Life of Pablo marks the return of American rapper Kayne West. Often overlooked in the music industry and the media due to his controversial persona, West’s seventh studio album pushes boundaries that other artists at the same stage in their careers struggle to do. ‘Famous’ and ‘Fade’ prove West’s creativity, style and diversity as an artist, but no song on this album sounds the same, with the highlight being ‘I Love Kanye’, a tongue-in-cheek track that plays up to the negative press he constantly receives. It takes a few listens to understand The Life of Pablo but it’ll grow on you.
2016 was Drake’s year. He certainly made his mark on the music world with tracks such as ‘One Dance’, ‘Hotline Bling’ and ‘Too Good’, all taken from his fourth studio album, Views. The songs dominated the UK and worldwide charts, pushing Drake into the spotlight and elevating him to success as a rapper. Each track on the Canadian artist’s album is consistently good – keeping with the sound we’re familiar with – but the highlight has to be ‘Controlla’, with its slow introduction, subtle chorus and smooth vocals from Drake himself.
Kings of Leon- Walls
A firm favourite amongst indie fans is Kings of Leon’s 2016 offering, Walls. An acronym for ‘We Are Like Love Songs’, Kings of Leon’s seventh studio album showcases that they still have what it takes to be a festival headlining band. Album opener ‘Waste a Moment’ has a slick, confident sound (aided by frontman Caleb Followill’s vocals), which continues throughout the entire record. Yet the highlights of the album are ‘Over’ and ‘Conversation Piece’ which deliver a more subtle sound from the Tennessee boys with acoustic guitars, raw vocals and heartfelt lyrics. This album proves that after sixteen years the band still has plenty to offer.
3 Albums to get you through Autumn
Dig out your gloves and scarves because autumn is upon us: the season for bonfires, fireworks and crunching leaves. The autumnal weather inevitably signals not only a change in our wardrobes, but also our listening habits – no longer are we yearning for sunny, beach-themed tracks. Instead, our playlists are filled with strong indie beats, low-key piano and warm, soothing vocals. I’ve selected 3 of my favourite recently released albums that will charge you through autumn and into December with a smile on your face.
Kings of Leon – Walls (Released: 14 Oct)
Kings of Leon’s seventh studio album, Walls, is a great return for the Nashville boys, going back to their roots of raw guitar music.
Kicking off proceedings is the thundering lead single, ‘Waste A Moment’, with its punchy sing-along choruses reminiscent of 2008’s ‘Use Somebody’ – this is alternative music at its best. While the entire album is worthy of repeat listens, ‘Reverend’ is a standout point, taking a slower pace with powerful vocals from frontman Caleb Followill and impressive guitar rhythms allowing the music to do the talking.
Unlike previous offerings, Walls has a much more relaxed feel with ‘Conversation Piece’, ‘Wild’ and ‘Muchacho’ having a soft, subtle sound that will please Kings of Leon fans new and old alike.
Two Door Cinema Club – Gameshow (Released: 14 Oct)
Two Door Cinema Club released their third studio album at the beginning of October and it proved to be their best offering yet, with plenty of catchy pop melodies to keep toes tapping way into November.
‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’ sets the tone for the album and features everything you could want from an opening track – it’s fun, original and great to bounce along to. Yet it’s ‘Bad Decisions’ that resonates after the album ends, with an 80’s inspired feel complete with synthesizes and electric keys.
Overall the album takes a different approach to previous records from the band, showing their willingness to experiment in style and creativity.
Empire of the Sun – Two Vines (Released: 28 Oct)
Although autumn is in full swing, that’s no reason to ditch all the sunny-themed albums. Two Vines, released by Aussie two-piece Empire of the Sun, is an upbeat record that will keep you feeling summery going into the winter months, and beyond.
Track highlights include ‘To Her Door’, ‘First Crush’ and ‘Lend Me Some Light’, which all tone down the overall pace of the album, often feeling like you’re listening to an entirely different band. However, the album’s standout song is ‘Ride’, which is fun, catchy and memorable – the perfect single release.
Combining everything that’s good about the band’s latest release, ‘Digital Life’ is an enigmatic track featuring high falsettos and electric keys – something you can listen to over and over again. And that’s the beauty of this album – it gets better with each play.
EP Review: Changing, Harry Pane
Harry Pane’s four track EP, Changing, is a solemn and emotional release from the London singer-songwriter.
The opening title track is simple and honest, the acoustic guitar and sincere vocals melding perfectly as Pane reminisces about his relationship with his father.
Then there’s the soothing instrumental intro of second track Ghosts,which leads into a rousing song that exudes raw, Americana vibes.
Karma’s Prey indicates the singer’s downbeat yet hopeful approach of what’s yet to come, whilst the final track, Cold Light of Day, takes a change of pace with a heavy blues inspired feel. It’s upbeat and rustic, showcasing Pane’s versatility as a musician and singer.
If these four songs are an indication of Harry Pane’s songwriting talents, we can expect bright things for him in the future.
The Changing EP is out now and available to download on iTunes.
MVOTW- Closer, Kelvin Jones
This week’s music video of the week selection comes from rising star Kelvin Jones with Closer, a poppy song that perfectly reflects the summer weather.
The track features a short, snappy video that sees the 21-year-old musician take centre stage of the concept, as well as crafting the video himself. It’s fast-paced and inventive, switching between black & white and colour as it moves through an era-spanning narrative of two people growing closer.
Directed by collaborator Joe Connor, the video sees Kelvin and a female companion re-enacting scenes from old movies before moving on to 90s hip-hop vids and a modern day photo-shoot.
This is the singer-songwriter’s brand new single and is set to be a hit with its soft acoustic guitar against sweet, harmonic vocals. After supporting the likes James Morrison, Izzy Bizu and Hannah Trigwell in concert, Kelvin Jones will be playing live across Europe this summer including dates in London and the UK.
- 09 July – Germany, Bonn, Rockaue Festival
- 10 July – UK, Cornbury Festival
- 02 Sep – UK, Portmeirion, Festival Number 6
- 07 Oct – Netherlands, Amsterdam, Upstairs @ Paradiso
- 08 Oct – Belgium, Leuven, The Depot
- 10 Oct – Germany, Cologne, Luxor
- 11 Oct – Germany, Hamburg, Terrace Hill
- 12 Oct – Germany, Berlin, Musik & Frieden
- 13 Oct – Germany, Munich, Strom
- 14 Oct – Austria, Vienna, B72
- 15 Oct – Austria, Linz, Posthof
- 17 Oct – Switzerland, Zurich, Mascotte
- 18 Oct – Germany, Weinheim, Cafe Central
- 19 Oct – France, Paris, Le Pop Up du Label
- 20 Oct – UK, London, The Barfly
Album Review: Wild Things, Ladyhawke
Ladyhawke – aka Pip Brown – returns with her third studio album, Wild Things, once again demonstrating her great talent as a singer-songwriter.
A Love Story is a lively opening track from the one-woman pop artist. The synthesizers make the song come alive with its electro feel against Ladyhawke’s soft vocals.
Second track, The River, takes a slightly slower pace but is nevertheless a catchy and fun track, very much in keeping with the album’s upbeat tone. On the other end of the scale, the title track is a beautiful, relaxing song with a slightly melancholy feel juxtaposed against the song title and album name. With its almost church-like synth intro, it’s a particular highlight on the album.
Chills and Golden Girl are classic poppy tracks that showcase Ladyhawke’s evolvement as an artist since her 2008 debut album and Paris is Burning days.
Being heavily influenced by the 80s, Hillside Avenue and Wonderland suit the female singer’s vocals perfectly, whilstDangerous ends the album on a high with its punchy, catchy hooks.
Overall, Ladyhawke’s latest output is creative, fun and definitely worth the wait.
Camden Rocks Festival 2016 Review
This year’s Camden Rocks Festival saw over 200 bands come together to play across 20 venues around Camden, marking the start of the summer festival season. The one-day event, now in its fifth year, had attendees chaotically running around to catch as many bands as possible, whilst also soaking up the rare sunshine and general excited buzz in Camden.
Proud hosted a gig for The Graveltones, a band who have a residency at the festival and were playing for the third consecutive year running; I had to see the band again to make it a hat-trick performance. The duo are heavily blues inspired with an added edge of rock and roll, drawing comparisons to The Black Keys and The White Stripes. The Graveltones’ enthusiasm shone through their thirty-minute set, with frontman Jimmy O giving it his all in the small setting. Catch Me On The Fly in particular oozed sophistication and a sultry sound from the band – who are currently based in London.
Yuck played the 500 capacity venue Dingwalls, with their laid back attitude exuding over Camden. Forgotten indie track Get Away was a highlight from their set, with its subtle, melancholy Sonic Youth influence and heavy bass overpowering the music hot spot in the best of ways.
Camden as a whole was vibrant with a great atmosphere and the great British summer arrived just in time for the festival. There was tremendous hype surrounding Young Guns, who played the 9:45pm time slot and lived up to the great expectations. The general buzz from the crowd built up the band’s set, as they played latest single Bulletproof. It was charismatic and fun with a confident sound.
Carl Barat & The Jackals played before headliners The Cribs, with a venue full of hard-core fans. Carl Barat headlined the established Camden Rocks festival in 2009 with fellow band The Libertines, and this time around fans were hoping to catch a surprise guest appearance from one of the members. Sadly it was a no show but that didn’t dampen the crowd’s festival spirit.
Barat is a great songwriter with positive, lyrically strong skills; his song Glory Days is the epitome of what Camden Rocks is all about – bringing rock, metal, indie and punk all together for one day. He also played A Storm Is Coming, which took the gig down to a slower pace, toning down the atmosphere but still managing to keep the audience engaged and in awe of the frontman.
Headlining Camden Rocks 2016 was the trio of brothers The Cribs, who played the packed out Electric Ballroom. For The Cribs’ followers it was a chance to see the band up close and personal, with a set spanning their back catalogue. The Cribs last played the Ballroom last year in support of their last album, but this was their first time playing the Camden Rocks Festival, making a refreshing change for the attendees and organisers.
The band played Mirror Kisses, which is an early Cribs song with scuzzy guitar riffs and a gnarly sound that showcases their development as a band – their sound evolving from indie-punk to indie-pop. The track got the crowd into a frenzy as they bounced along and sung the lyrics back to the Wakefield band.
As the band’s most mainstream and successful track to date, Men’s Needs got the crowd into a small mosh pit, whilst Come On, Be a No One and Cheat on Me showcased their rawness and carefree attitude. The highlight of the set was Burning For No One, which is taken from their recent studio album For All My Sisters, released last year. The track is a fun, upbeat and punchy indie-pop song that’s perfect for a festival headline set. As a devoted The Cribs fan, it was a treat to see the band play together again; having not seen them perform for 4 years, I’d forgotten how great they are live.
Every year, for a single day, a variety of rock acts come together to play across Camden but with The Cribs headlining, this year’s line-up felt more adventurous and proved the organisers aren’t afraid of taking risks and expanding their audience. Camden Rocks lived up to its title, making it the best music line-up to date.
TOP 5 Acts to See at Camden Rocks Festival 2016
Camden Rocks 2016 is set to be the biggest festival yet with over 200 of the most exciting rock bands playing live across 20 venues on June 4.
The final festival line-up and stage times from across the day have just been announced. Headlining this year’s festivities are The Cribs, and with appearances from up and coming acts as well as established bands, there really is something for everyone. Here are our top picks from the day’s mammoth line-up.
Headlining this year’s event is Wakefield’s very own The Cribs. Formed in 2002, the band have released several albums over the years, with the recent 2015 release, For All My Sisters, being their 6th studio al
bum. The Cribs are renowned for their spectacular live shows, with Camden Rocks attendees set to be blown away by the chaotic atmosphere. The Cribs will be playing the maximum capacity venue Electric Ballroom at 9:15PM.
Carl Barat & The Jackals
Playing before headliners The Cribs at 7:45PM, Carl Barat has made a few appearances over the years at the festival. This year he returns with side project The Jackals, having released their debut album in 2015. Barat never fails to keep the fans happy, so expect to see something special and probably a few surprises along the way.
London rock group Yuck bring their raw energy to the Barfly at 8:15PM. Having formed in 2009 and released their self-titled debut in 2011, the band soon became a firm favourite. Their raucous sound is influenced by Sonic Youth and last year’s Camden Rocks headliners Bullet for My Valentine.
Indie 4 piece Johnny Foreigner play the Dublin Castle at 11:15PM, bringing their indie/rock edge to this year’s line-up. The band, who hail from Birmingham, have released 6 albums to date and are expected to play tracks from their forthcoming album, Mono No Aware, on Saturday.
Alt-rock band Young Guns will play tracks in support of their 3rd studio album and 2015 release Ones & Zeros. The Buckinghamshire lads bring their fun and unique live show to Dingwalls at 9:45PM. Expect to be bouncing along to their indie tracks, as well as a chance to catch an acoustic, subtle side to the band’s set.
If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed from Camden Rocks 2016, it’s a bloody good time. There will be plenty of running around to the various venues around Camden and there will always be a great band to go and see throughout the day. Tickets for the festival and after parties can be purchased here.
Catfish & the Bottlemen Announce UK Tour Dates
Welsh four piece Catfish and the Bottlemen have announced a small seven-date UK tour for this November.
The announcement comes in anticipation of their second studio album, The Ride, which is released this Friday (3 June). The Bottlemen’s debut album, The Balcony, was released in 2014 and sold over 250,000 copies, while their new release is set to hit the top spot in the UK album charts in the following week.
Catfish and the Bottlemen have been relentlessly gigging recently, making an appearance at Radio 1’s Big Weekend and playing the main stage as well as headlining their first live festival at Liverpool’s Sound City.
The band have previewed tracks such a 7 and Soundcheck, giving a taster of what The Ride will be like, with the rockers set to play the album in full during their live shows this Winter.
Kicking off the UK tour is Derby on 5 November before ending in Coventry on 17 Nov, while the band will also be playing their biggest London show to date at the SSE Arena Wembley. Dates go on sale this Friday with pre-sale on Wednesday.
Latest Additions to Camden Rocks Line Up
Returning for its 5th year, Camden Rocks 2016 is set to be the biggest yet with even more acts being announced to play on Saturday 4th June.
The established music festival will see London pop band Yuck, power-rock group Black Spider, Californian punk piece Zebrahead and Nottingham’s Heck perform across the 20 venues.
The announcement comes as We Are The Ocean and Escape the Fate are no longer able to perform due to tour scheduling issues. Speaking of the cancellation, Escape the Fate stated: “We’ve looked into every possible solution we could think of, but to no avail. We’re sorry for this inconvenience to our fans and the organisers.”
The line-up will see indie, metal and rock come together for one day with acts such as The Cribs, Carl Barat & the Jackals, Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols) and Billy Bragg playing live.
Tickets for the event are priced at £35 plus booking fees and are available here.
Live Review: Muse, Live at the o2 Arena
Muse played their third sold out show of a five night residency at the 02 Arena in London on Tuesday.
Angelic and harmonic track Drones opened up proceedings with its slower pace building the audience’s energy before exploding into a guitar heavy set list. The title track is in support of their latest 7th studio album, which was released last summer.
The 3-piece band played several tracks from Drones including Pyscho, Mercy and Dead Inside. The tracks played from the album feel as if they’re festival songs – bold, energetic and anthemic; fans are definitely in for a treat when Muse headline Glastonbury this summer for the third time.
Psycho, which is the lead single from Drones, propelled Muse back into the spotlight after a 3-year break since the release of last album, The 2nd Law. The latest album feels more poppy than previous releases with catchy hooks and lighter guitar melodies.
Reapers was a highlight from the set with its fast-paced, slick guitars showcasing frontman Matt Bellamy’s impressive rock skills. For a band that has been together for over two decades, choosing a set list must be a hard task. However, Muse showcased songs from across their back catalogue, playing Sunburn from their debut albumShowbiz, which was released in 1999.
Throwback tracks such as Supermassive Black Hole, Hysteria and Starlight also saw attendees sing louder than the music. Halfway through the show shifted to a slower pace with the band playing Map of the Problematique, which allowed Bellamy’s vocals to take centre stage.
Muse have evolved not only musically but also in their stage design, with a revolving 360 view of the stage pushing boundaries in their live shows. There’s no expense spared as the band delivered mesmerizing flying drones, pyrotechnics and inflatable balloons into the crowd. It’s an experience fans won’t forget in a hurry.
The encore of an extended harmonica version of Knights of Cydonia closed the show, which nobody wanted to end. Bold and energetic, the band’s enthusiasm was still apparent at the end of a 2-hour set. Knights of Cydonia was a fitting way to end the show, with fans singing as they left the arena, proving that Muse still have what to takes to be the most in demand rock band in the world.
MVOTW: Nebraska, Lucy Rose
Our music video of the week selection comes from English singer-songwriter Lucy Rose with her poignant track Nebraska.
The video stars EastEnders actor Danny Dyer, who diverts from the usual tough man persona we see on screen to send a positive message to music lovers. The lyrics of the track reflect the video’s theme about stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something, or being someone, that makes you happy.
Rose and Dyer’s collaboration came about through social media, when the soap star reached out on Twitter. Talking about his involvement, Dyer said: “I think it’s such a moving piece of work. I’m beyond proud to be part of it. I’ve always believed that people should be who they wanna be, regardless of race or gender.”
Starring alongside Dyer in the video are some of Rose’s past musical collaborators including Ghostpoet, Rae Morris, Slaves and Kimberly Anne.
Nebraska is taken from the artist’s second studio album, Work It Out, which is out now. A separate Nebraska EP will be released on March 18 featuring 7 remixes from the likes of IDRIS, Public Service Broadcasting and The Half Earth.
MVOTW: Chasing Ghosts, Passion Falls
The harmonic Chasing Ghosts from Passion Falls is this week’s music video to help ignite the post Valentine’s love.
Created by Russian animator Andrey Shushkov, the track narrates a love story cut from the short ‘The Invention of Love’.
The subtle tones of the guitar, mellow keys and soft vocals from Jonny Holland will give listeners goose bumps with its heartfelt melody.
Chasing Ghosts is the second single to be taken from the Manchester four-piece’s debut EP, The Greatest Adventure.
The EP is available from 19 February through MUK Records, followed by a special EP release show in the band’s hometown of Manchester on the 27 February.
The title track and Aguila take things down a notch with a slower groove and less frantic sound. The controlled softness of Aguila is the perfect ending to what is otherwise an energetic mini album.
Great production values and an assured approach that still manages to sound experimental gives the impression of a band that’s been around much longer than they actually have.
With just six tracks, Lost Dawn have improved upon their last effort and demonstrated what they have to offer for the future. Bring on the full-length album.
Fever is out on 5 February 2016 via Easy Action
MVOTW: Ten Thousand, Emillie & Ogden
Our selection for music video of the week – Emilie & Ogden’s Ten Thousand – will successfully wave goodbye to those January blues.
The Pierre-Alexandre Girard directed video starts and ends in monotone, with colour shots in the middle and a rustic environment to give a reflective feel. The narrative is fitting for the track with its subtle, harmonic tones.
Emilie & Ogden, better known as Canadian born singer-songwriter Emilie Kahn, brings a unique sound to Ten Thousandwith her angelic harp. The track features on the singer’s debut album 10,000, which she wrote all the lyrics and music for.
In support of the album Emilie is embarking on her first UK headline tour with dates in Manchester and London.
EMILIE & OGDEN UK TOUR DATES 2016:
- 1st March 2016 Leeds UK @ Brudenell Games Room
- 2nd March 2016 Manchester UK @ The Castle Hotel
- 3rd March 2016 London UK @ Waiting Room
- 4th March 2016 Bristol UK @ Louisiana
- For more on Emilie & Ogden click here.