Album Review: Arkells – Rally Cry
Following a relentless tour schedule earlier this year, which saw them support folk singer-songwriter Frank Turner and perform at US festival Coachella, Canadian five-piece Arkells have released their highly anticipated new album, Rally Cry.
The 10-track record opens with ‘Hand Me Downs’ – a slow burner of a song with light drums, keyboards and echoey vocals from guitarist-frontman Max Kerman.
It moves swiftly on to ‘American Screams’, treating listeners to a funky, synthesizer-driven track that sounds like something straight out of the 80’s. It’s a fun, upbeat and poppy sound, a clear highlight from an album that has many.
‘Relentless’, ‘Saturday Night’ and the politically-charged ‘People’s Champ’ are lively, energetic songs, the type Arkells excel at. These tracks take the sound of the band’s live shows and marry them with their studio sound – providing a different listening experience to their previous offering.
The album swings towards a slower, lighter tone, before ending on a scuzzy rock sound with final track ‘Don’t Be A Stranger’, which is audibly influenced by fellow rockers Cage the Elephant.
Rally Cry is a confident record from Arkells, pushing their sound in a bold new direction that demands to be heard and refuses to be forgotten.
Album Review: The Milk Carton Kids – All The Things That I Did and All The Things That I Didn’t Do
Americana folk band The Milk Carton Kids have returned with their fourth album, All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do – an epic (both in title and sound) 12 track record that’s equal parts melancholy and charming.
Opening with ‘Just Look At Us Now’, the Grammy Award nominated duo start slow and warming, with soft acoustic guitars and heartfelt lyrics soothing listeners’ ears, before segueing into the evocative and nostalgic ‘Nothing is Real’.
Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale’s simple cords and laidback country crooning are displayed perfectly in ‘Younger Years’, ‘Blindness’ and ‘You Break My Heart’, whilst ‘One More For The Road’, a colossal 10 minute 23 second long centrepiece, demonstrates the duo’s sublime synchronicity and harmonic vocals.
This is the band at its most diverse, building on the acoustic foundations they’re known for and adding more subtle layers to their music. It’s still sombre, bittersweet stuff – which can border on a little too meditative if you’re listening to the album in one sitting – but the instrumentation adds greater depth to the album as a whole.
The Milk Carton Kids have undergone some major changes – both musical and personal – since their last release in 2015, Monterey, and this album reflects those events. In Kenneth Pattengale’s own words: “We had been going around the country yet another time to do the duo show, going to the places we’d been before. There arose some sort of need for change.”
Change, as we all know, can be a liberating thing and it certainly was for The Milk Carton Kids, who’ve delivered a reflective album with a “bigger sonic palette”, asserting themselves as one of the most accomplished Americana bands on the contemporary folk scene.
Album Review: Dancehall, The Band
Recorded over two years, The Band is the 10 track debut album from London/Kent based garage-rock trio Dancehall.
The album opens with ‘KO’, a slick guitar intro instantly giving way to thunderous drums and an almost frenetic verve that ensures anyone listening is sitting up and paying attention to the music.
Debut single ‘Vs & Gs’ has the same raw energy and passion, simultaneously demonstrating the band’s feverous drive and rejection of the norm, as well as their musical influences of Sonic Youth and Fugazi.
‘Digging’ and ‘Droners’ both have that 90’s inspired punk vibe with a melancholy, hollowed-out sound and fuzzy vocals from frontman and bassist Timothy V.
The second half of the album provides something of a respite, taking a less heavy and frantic approach with ‘Burn’, ‘Virgin’ and ‘Salt’. In these tracks the trio are able to relax into themselves, letting their songs freewheel away from the sharp angular turns of the rest of the record.
With this self-released album, Dancehall leave a lasting impression. Considering the trio only formed two years ago, The Band is a solid debut that rollicks along with an energy that will make listeners yearn to see them live.
The Band is out now via Vibe/Anti-Vibe
Album Review: The Get Up Kids, Kicker EP
It’s been seven years since The Get Up Kids’ released their fifth studio album, There Are Rules (2011), and now the American rockers are back with Kicker, a four-song EP released via Big Scary Monsters.
With its thunderous drums and heavy guitars, opening track and lead single ‘Maybe‘ throws listeners back into the band’s alt-rock sound. There’s no mistaking that this is The Get Up Kids, but it feels more grown-up, reflecting the fact that the band members are no longer twenty-year-olds. They’re seasoned performers in their forties and it lends the EP a new level of maturity without losing any of that punk-rock edge.
Catchy choruses, punchy lyrics and frontman Matt Pryor’s resonating vocals continue into second track ‘Better This Way‘, whilst third track ‘I’m Sorry‘ offers a synthesizer opening that explodes into fast guitars and solid drums. It’s reminiscent of The Get Up Kids’ earlier albums, bringing to mind other nineties/noughties punk rock bands like Blink 182 and Green Day.
The EP closes on an anthemic note with ‘My Own Reflection‘, a more down-tempo track with heartfelt vocals, which lingers as the record’s highlight and shows a band that’s come full circle.
Jim Suptic, guitarist and vocalist of the group, spoke about the EP’s concept, saying: “You always look back in rose colored glasses, and I always remember when this band was really struggling and we were selling our CD collections to pay our rent and that sucked at the time, but looking back that was an amazing time, that was so much fun. There was no pressure or anything,”
Kicker comes as the band have signed a record deal with Polyvinyl and are set to release a full-length album (date TBC). They’re also due to embark on a mammoth US tour in support of the EP.
Live Review: The Rolling Stones live at the London Stadium
The Rolling Stones played the first London date of their No Filter tour last night (22 May) to a sold-out crowd.
Taking to the stage with opening track a ‘Street Fighting Man’, it was a joyous, energetic song to kick off the two-hour show.
‘It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (But I Like It)’, ‘Tumbling Dice’ and ‘Paint It Black’ followed, with audience members mesmerised by Jagger’s stage persona and snake hips, which he’s mastered over the course of the band’s career.
Before the show fans could take to social media to decide what track The Stones should play, with ‘Under My Thumb’ ultimately being chosen. It was great to hear an early Stones song, which was released in 1966 and appeared on their Aftermath album.
The band performed a number of slower songs, with ‘Fool To Cry’ and ‘Can’t Always Get What You Want’ having the 88,000 crowd singing along to every word as the sun went down over the Olympic Park.
As Jagger disappeared for a costume change, guitarist Keith Richards took to the front of the stage and performed ‘Before They Make Me Run’ and ‘Slipping Away’. Even though the band have been performing for more than 50 years, Richards still seemed shy and nervous taking the lead role for both songs.
As Jagger returned the band performed more from their back catalogue with fan favourite ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, along with ‘Miss You’ and ‘Midnight Rambler’.
The stage featured pyro flickers, a runway into the crowd for the special ‘golden circle’ ticket holders, and colossal screens of the band either side of the stage.
A Stones’ gig wouldn’t be complete without ‘Start Me Up’ and ‘Jumping Jack Flash’, which saw Jagger run up and down the runaway, putting people half the 74-year-old’s age to shame.
The two-song encore of ‘Gimme Shelter’ and ‘Satisfaction’ brought the 19 track setlist to an end, with the band proving they still have the energy and popularity that they started out with all those years ago.
Live Review: Liam Gallagher live at the London Stadium
Liam Gallagher was the first act to support The Rolling Stones on their No Filter UK tour.
Taking place at the London Stadium last night (22 May), it was the former-Oasis frontman’s first UK show after a month of touring and promotion in the US in support of his debut solo album, As You Were.
Taking to the stage in true charismatic style, the singer opened with Oasis track ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’ which got the crowd into a wild frenzy.
The 45-year-old played tracks from his recent number one album including singles ‘Wall of Glass’, ‘Greedy Soul’ and ’You Better Run’, which received a warm welcome in anticipation for the main act The Stones.
‘Morning Glory’ had audience members singing along in the sunshine to the iconic sound of the 90’s.
The singer also performed ‘Some Might Say’ and ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’, which featured former Oasis member Bonehead.
The set closed on the acoustic ’Live Forever’ – an emotional tribute to mark the one year anniversary of the Manchester Arena attack.
Before playing the song, Liam told the audience: “This is for everyone in Manchester. Sing along if you know the words.”
The frontman only played a short setlist of eight songs but packed a punch to help support one of the most successful bands the UK has ever produced.
Live Review: Manic Street Preachers live at Wembley Arena
The legendary Manic Street Preachers played Wembley Arena on Friday night (4 May) as part of the UK tour for their thirteenth studio album, Resistance is Futile.
Widely known as the Manics, the band played to a strong 10,000 crowd, opening their set with ‘International Blue’ – a bold, energetic, kickstarter of a song, before leading into ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’.
Having seen the Manics play live nearly a decade ago, when they headlined The 02 Arena and played the NME Awards Tour while receiving their Godlike Genius award, it was great to see the band still have that same energy and drive.
A highlight of the set was when the Welsh rock band performed their 2007 track ‘Your Love Alone is Not Enough’ with accompaniment from multi-instrumentalist and songwriter The Anchoress.
The trio – who formed in 1986 – played an assortment of their most popular anthems, including ‘You Stole The Sun From My Heart’, ‘The Masses Against The Classes’ and ‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’, as well as covers of Frankie Valli’s ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ and the Sex Pistols classic ‘No Feelings’.
They closed their 24 song setlist with ‘A Design For Life’, a momentous song that seemed to strike a chord with many people at the gig, who sung the lyrics back to frontman Bradfield word for word.
The Manic’s Wembley gig demonstrated that they’re not just 90’s rockers rehashing their back catalogue. With poetic songwriting and energetic live shows, this is a band that’s still going strong over thirty years later and will be for years to come too.
Album Review: Be More Kind, Frank Turner
Be More Kind is the seventh studio album from British folk singer-songwriter Frank Turner.
The thirteen-track album gets off to a strong start with opener ‘Don’t Worry‘, before going into a slow, harmonic chorus. It’s the sort of quality music we’ve come to expect from Turner but with a slightly different approach.
Next up is ‘1933‘ – an upbeat and catchy track that’s the perfect song to get any festival crowd going. It was also the first single released from the album earlier this year, marking the Hampshire born singer’s return.
Turner has said the main influences on the album include Soft Cell, New Order and The Cure, with ‘Little Changes’, ‘Make America Great Again’ and ‘There She Is’ demonstrating a new musical direction for him. Its lighter tones, melancholic choruses and prominent synthesizers also mark a departure from his former projects.
Yet the highlight of the album is ‘21st Century Survival Blues’, which has an indie inspired feel with its catchy guitars, thunderous drums and distinctive vocals.
“I wanted to try and get out of my comfort zone and do something different”, Turner said, and he’s achieved that with Be More Kind, which feels like a perfectly timed release that still retains that summery, festival feel.
The album is out on 4 May through Xtra Mile Recordings.
10 albums to look forward to in 2018
Following on from Culturefly’s best of 2017 list, we take a look at some of the most anticipated rock, indie, electronic and hip-hop albums being released in 2018.
Fall Out Boy, Mania (19 January)
Kicking 2018 off in style, American band Fall Out Boy will release their seventh studio album Mania. Tracks ‘Young and Menace’ and ‘Champion’ have given a taster of what to expect from the rock four-piece, proving they’re still a great contender for one of the best rock bands around today.
Arctic Monkeys, TBA (Date TBA)
Good news Arctic Monkey fans! The band is back in the studio. Bad news, there’s no official confirmation but bassist Nick O’Malley has confirmed that the band are recording music. It will be their first release since 2013’s AM.
The 1975, Music For Cars (Date TBA)
Music for Cars is the upcoming album from Manchester rockers The 1975. Although there’s no official release date, it will be an EP album following their second studio release, the epically titled I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It. The band have been teasing fans with Instagram audio clips of what to expect from the record.
Franz Ferdinand, Always Ascending (9 February)
Scottish band Franz Ferdinand return with new studio album Always Ascending, as well as a new line-up since the departure of guitarist Nick McCarthy. Earlier this year the band released the title track and lead single, and you can expect to hear more music from their upcoming album when they play dates on their world tour.
Julian Casablancas & the Voidz, TBA (Date TBA)
Julian Casablancas’ side band is expected to release the follow up to their underrated debut album, Tyranny, at some point in 2018. Expect scuzzy guitar, electro synthesizers and distant vocals from Casablancas.
The Vaccines, TBA (Date TBA)
‘Let Me Take You Surfing in the Sky’ and ‘Your Love Is My Favourite Band’ were both new tracks played by The Vaccines as part of their summer gigs. This new material has a punchy, energetic and catchy sound, with The Vaccines sticking to their trademark style, carrying on from their 2015 album English Graffiti. Hopefully we’ll hear more new songs when the band plays a small UK tour in April ’18.
MGMT, Little Dark Age (Date TBA)
Following a break after their third album in 2013, MGMT return with a darker, edgier sound. In October 2017 the American duo announced Little Dark Age as being the name of their forthcoming album and lead single. Expect the unexpected from this release, with tracks ‘When You Die’ and ‘Me & Michael’ having a more experimental sound.
The Prodigy, TBA (Date DTA)
No album title and no official release date has been announced from the iconic dance trio The Prodigy but here’s hoping for new material when they headline festivals We Are Electric and Festival Les Déferlantes Sud de France in the summer.
Major Lazer, Music is the Weapon (Date TBA)
Major Lazer’s long-awaited fourth studio album, Music is the Weapon, is another one with no official release date but the trio have confirmed collaborations with Ariana Grande, The Weeknd and Travis Scott. Keep your eyes and ears open for this.
Cardi B, TBA (Date TBA)
American rapper Cardi B will release her debut album at some point in 2018. The as yet unnamed, yet hotly anticipated record is certainly keeping fans waiting, but in the meantime you can listen to tracks ‘Bodak Yellow’ and ‘No Limit’.
Albums of 2017
This year I have contributed my two favourite albums to Culturefly’s best albums of 2017 feature. Here is what I chose:
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built the Moon?
The third studio album from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds saw the frontman take a different approach, resulting in one of his best musical offerings yet. From the psychedelic and eerie instrumental opener ‘Fort Knox’ to the more poppy Vaccines inspired ‘Holy Mountains’ – this album introduced listeners to a softer, more subtle sound from Gallagher, taking away the hard persona fans have grown accustomed to. Who Built The Moon is Gallagher’s most ambitious solo record and it’s one that gets better with every listen.
Kasabian – For Crying Out Loud
Kasabian’s sixth album is a punchy, confident sound, delivering songs that range from raucous and arrogant – like opening track ‘Ill Ray (The King)’ – to the softer, more melancholy ‘You’re In Love with a Psycho’, which highlights guitarist Serge Pizzarno’s hypnotic guitar. However, it’s ‘Bless This Acid House’ that feels like a future indie anthem and radio favourite with its catchy chorus and harmonic melodies. For Crying Out Loud is the epitome of British rock music, marking a triumphant return from the Leicester born lads.
Album Review: Noel’s Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built The Moon?
Who Built the Moon is the third release from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and it sees the band take a different direction with their sound, shaking off any Oasis similarities.
‘Fort Knox’ kick-starts the album with its instrumental intro and echoing vocals reminiscent of The Chemical Brothers’ 90’s track ‘Setting Sun’, which Gallagher had guest vocals on. The track’s heavy bass and punchy sound eases listeners into the 11-track album.
Released in early October, ‘Holy Mountain‘ was the first single taken from the album and it’s also the most surprising – and probably the least likely – track on the album that you’d associate with Gallagher. It’s a catchy, upbeat and poppy sound with influences from Bowie and The Vaccines to – dare I even mention – a hint of Ricky Martin.
‘Keep on Reaching’ and ‘She Taught Me How to Fly’ feel more like classic Gallagher songs, writing about love, hope and opportunities, whereas ‘It’s a Beautiful World’ is a subtle yet mesmeric track that lingers in the memory long after it’s finished playing. The soft sounds of the guitar with Gallagher’s distinctive voice are a particular album highlight, showing off what the singer-songwriter does best.
Bringing a little 60’s inspired flavour, ‘Black and White Sunshine’ feels more in tune with The Beatles era, with catchy melodies and slick tones. There’s plenty of variety and experimenting with different sounds here and it works a treat.
Who Built the Moon marks some of his best produced songs since Gallagher’s early Oasis days. It’ll keep long-time fans happy, whilst appealing to a new generation of listeners at the same time.
Live Music Review: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Last night, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds played London’s York Hall as part of an Apple Music documentary for his upcoming studio album Who Built The Moon.
The gig was a balloted ticket system with only 1200 lucky fans given the opportunity to see the former Oasis member in such an intimate venue.
Playing an hour-long set, Gallagher kicked off proceedings with leading single ‘Holy Mountain’ which is a fast-paced, vivacious track from the singer-songwriter. The frontman debuted three new tracks from the upcoming album including ‘It’s A Beautiful World’ and ‘Black & White Sunshine’, which have a subtler, more soulful sound compared to the two previous albums.
As well as playing new tracks, Gallagher also treated fans to Oasis classics including ‘Little By Little’, ‘Half The World Away’, a beautiful acoustic version of ‘Champagne Supernova’ and a faultless ‘Don’t look Back In Anger’, which the crowd sung every word to, overpowering the boxing club venue.
The memorable set ended with ‘In the Heat of the Moment’, ‘Riverman’ and ‘AKA..What a Life’, leaving the audience wanting more from Gallagher. It was particularly great – not to mention a novel experience – to attend a gig that had a no phone zone. Without the audience being able to catch every minute of the concert through a phone, attendees were able to enjoy the live event, living in the moment for a single night.
The exclusive documentary, entitled On the Record: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds — Who Built The Moon?, is due for release on Apple Music from November 24.
Live Review: Camden Rocks Festival 2017
The one-day rock festival that is Camden Rocks took place over the weekend (3 June) and it was a momentous triumph, boasting a strong line-up of 250 bands that was arguably the best to date.
The festival – now in its sixth year, four of which we’ve been lucky enough to attend – certainly didn’t disappoint. Glorious sunshine, an eclectic line up and happy festival-goers made this year’s music event one to remember.
Once we’d collected our wristbands, we hopped next door to Underworld to catch four-piece band Turbowolf. I managed to see the band two years ago at Camden’s Barfly where frontman Chris Georgiadis captured the audience’s attention from the get-go with his enthusiastic performance. This year was no different.
The only bad thing about a festival that takes place across a single day is that there are inevitably line-up clashes. We therefore decided to cut Turbowolf’s set short and head over to KOKO, where one of our top five bands of the festival, Reverend and The Makers, were performing.
It was the band’s second time at the festival and they played plenty of tracks that fans wanted to hear including ‘Bassline’, ‘Open Your Window’ and ‘She Said She Loved Me’. The band’s distinctive frontman, Jon McClure, got audiences hyped for the following acts with attendees jumping, singing and bouncing along to the catchy tracks. A highlight of the gig was when the band played their 2007 track, ‘Heavyweight Champion of the World’, which delivered a nice dose of nostalgia for anyone who’s been following the band for a while.
Indie music fans were treated to a stellar KOKO line-up, which included not only Carl Barat & the Jackals and The Coral, but also Camden Rocks 2017 headliners, Feeder. Many people remember Merseyside band, The Coral, from the noughties but they’re still a great band. They played well-known tracks ‘In the Morning’ and ‘Pass it On’, with dedicated fans singing along to every word and getting the place warmed up for the most anticipated headline slot.
Welsh rockers Feeder took to the stage and lived up to their reputation as a brilliant live band, opening up with ‘Universe of Life’. The set mainly featured their earlier material (which nobody seemed to be complaining about about) and saw the band play as if it was their last ever performance. As expected, ‘Buck Rogers’ got the biggest reaction, with over-excited audience members throwing cups and singing at the top of their lungs.
Like previous years, Camden Rocks Festival 2017 was a huge success and delivered something for everyone. Until next year fellow rockers!
Read more of the article on Culturefly
Album Review: For All Ours Sins, Sounds of the Sirens
For All Our Sins is the engaging and upbeat debut album from female acoustic-pop duo Sounds of the Sirens.
Album opener ‘Smokescreen’ is a captivating track that grabs the listener’s attention from the get go, before leading into the soft acoustic sounds of ‘Mr Wilson’. The beautiful, subtle vocals against a melancholy backing provide the perfect track to listen to on a chilled-out Sunday afternoon.
‘Together Alone’ and ‘In This Time’ are passionate, foot stomping songs, which bring a vibrancy and energy to the 11 track album. With tracks like these, it’s hardly surprising that the duo have received high-raise from the likes of Chris Evans, who invited them to perform alongside U2 and Take That on TFI Friday last year.
The album’s seventh track, ‘Cross Our Hearts’ lowers the tone, allowing Abbe Martin and Hannah Wood’s voices to really shine. Its heartfelt lyrics make this track the true highlight of the album, demonstrating the Exeter two-piece’s great potential in the folk scene.
Given that it’s currently Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, ‘The Voices’ seems particularly pertinent, as it supports the #itaffectsme campaign which the duo are advocating as both musicians and teachers to the younger generation.
Following the release of their new album, Sounds of the Sirens are embarking on a small UK tour in May and June, as well as playing at festivals including Oceanfest, Jimmy’s Festival and their biggest show to date at Glastonbury.
For All Our Sins is a debut album to listen to on a sunny afternoon and one you can easily immerse yourself in. It’s out now via DMF Records.
Read more of the album review on Culturefly
Live Review: Kasabian, Live at The 02 Kentish Town Forum (20th April 2017)
The O2 Forum Kentish Town is tonight’s venue for the third and final London show as part of the Kasabian‘s intimate UK tour in preparation for the band’s 6th studio album ‘For Cryin Out Loud’, released on April 28. Opening with the track ‘Comeback Kid,’ one of twelve songs featured on the highly anticipated album, marks a gentle way to start what we all know will turn out to be a raucous Thursday night gig.
Crowd pleasers ‘Bumblebee’, ‘Underdog’ and ‘Eez-Eh’ follow sending the sold out 2300 capacity venue into a frenzy. Frontman Tom Meighan and guitarist Sergio Pizzorno true friendship is demonstrated throughout the gig and their love for performing together is still very much evident.
New single ‘You’re In Love With A Psycho’ receives a warm welcome showcasing Kasabian are back where they belong with fans already singing along. The set takes a slower turn with guitarist Pizzorno taking to the centre stage with ‘La Fee Verte’ and ‘Treat’ which both show their appreciation for the singer songwriter.
An encore consisting of ‘Stevie’, ‘Vlad the Impaler’ (which saw a cameo appearance from comedian and new Bake Off star Noel Fielding) and ‘Fire’ left audiences members on a high chanting as they exited the North London venue.
Kasabian’s set list was 17 songs strong but their back catalogue is of such size and stature that it would’ve been easy for them to take it up to 20! No doubt their upcoming album will contain at least a few numbers that will join the ranks of their previous singles. One thing is for sure, their hits that include ‘Shoot the Runner’, ‘Club Foot’ and ‘L.S.F’ left fans (on this particular evening) wanting more.
Read more of the live review on Contact Music.
Album Review: Shake off your Troubles, The Little Kicks
The 10 LP album has a versatile yet intriguing sound from Scottish four piece The Little Kicks. Opening track Theme is a 2 and a half minute instrumental track preparing listeners to take a journey full of genres and musical influences the band have adapted to make something of their own.
Sing About Something has infectious guitars, funky keys and high pitched falsetto vocals being reminiscent of indie electronica heroes Joy Division. It’s a slow yet memorable track with its hauntingly yet beautifully vocals. Don’t Get Mad, Get Even juxtaposes the previous track as it’s far more of a chilled, laid back song; it has light drums and soft guitars before leading into an upbeat chorus.
Let’s Get Lost Together is true alternative track on the EP album. Catchy hooks and light-hearted melodies make it a fun, innocent and poppy and has bags of radio playlist potential. While Bang The Drum Slowly is raucous and oozes confidence from the Aberdeenshire band having only formed in 2009, this a personal highlight of the record as it has eclectic keys and synths which demonstrate the band’s creativity.
You and Someone Like Me utinises a long intro which appeared to draw influence from the 80’s video games, the hollowed vocals of the frontman fits brilliantly together with hints of scuzzy guitars making it a great 1st single released from Shake Off Your Troubles.
Before We Were Friends marks the end of the album with soft distant strings. Overall, the album demonstrates The Little Kicks potential as a band not wanting to define their music by one genre. While there is versatility, the album can be hit and miss and often leaves listeners wanting something a little more punchy.
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.
Album Review: The Life of Pablo, Kanye West
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.
Album Review: Views, Drake
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.
Album Review: Walls, Kings of Leon
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.
Album review: Gameshow, Two Door Cinema Club
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.
Album Review: Two Vines, Empire of the Sun
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.
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.
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.
Camden Rocks Festival 2016
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 trackGet 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, whilstCome On, Be a No One and Cheat on Me showcased their rawness and carefree attitude. The highlight of the set wasBurning 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.
Live Review: We are Fstvl 2016
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.
Album Review: Cloud Nine, Kygo
Kygo‘s debut Cloud Nine was released this week, sadly not quite living up to the high expectations of his chart releases. The Intro is a 2 minute, instrumental track featuring soft keys giving a slight introduction to the momentous 15 track album.
Read more at Contact Music: http://www.contactmusic.com/kygo/music/kygo-cloud-nine-album-review
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.
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.
Read more at http://www.contactmusic.com/jack-garratt/music/jack-garratt-phase-album-review#Uv40grLz0IZLmPaC.99
Live Review: 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, Live at the 02 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: Lost Dawn -Fever
Fever is an upbeat and effortless second album with great confidence from Cornwall three-piece Lost Dawn.
Opening track, Electrify, is a throwback to 70’s rock with catchy hooks and hypnotic vocals from frontman Stanley Duke. A mix of pop and rock with hints of The Clash, it’s a perfect way to open up the six track record.
Naked Lunch picks up the pace with heavier bass, faster drums and rapid guitar, showcasing the band’s ability to up the tempo without losing their signature sound.
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
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 which Cage 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.
Top Albums of 2015
Recapping my favorite albums of the past year.
10. Drake – If You’re Reading This Then You’re Too Late
Making an impromptu release of his 4th studio album Drake made a return proving why he is one of the most in demand rappers. Highlights of the album include opening track Legend -which features a long instrumental introduction with background vocals giving a harmonic feel to the track. Track Energy sees keys help make the track come alive with the Canadian rapper pushing himself as an artist and pushing the boundaries in the rap industry.
9. The Libertines – Anthems for Doomed Youth
Released in September The Libertines marked a return to the music scene following their 2004 self-titled album. A decade on the band proves their songwriting skills never went away with tracks such Gunga Din a racous, fun indie track making fans of The Libertines feels as if they never went away. Athems for Doomed Youth is a softer album from a band who is constanlty in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Heart of the Matter is a highlight of the album catchy, light and will become a firm favorite when the band play summer festival next year.
8. The Weeknd – Beauty Behind The Madness
One of the most talked about artists of the year – yet his 2nd studio album. The second difficult album syndrome did not affect Abel Tesfaye aka The Weeknd. The fourteen track album sees a rollercoaster of emotions with an underlying of the album featuring – sex, drugs and relationships. The subtle vocal of the 25 year old against an eerie music production propels the songwriter as one of the most distinctive artists this year.
7. Foals – What Went Down
The band themselves was quoted saying it was their heaviest and darkest album to date and they were certainly not wrong. What Went Down sees the band progress, being their 4th studio album and their best yet. Tracks such as What Went Down is a brash, confident sound from the band working with producer James Ford who has worked with the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Last Shadow Puppets this clearly shines through. Mountain at my Gates marks the band’s evolvement from the early days of Cassius with a maturer sound.
6. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
Released back in March To Pimp A Butterfly received praise from fans and critics alike from the Compton rapper. The album sees a much lighter tone with Lamar experimenting with rap, jazz and funk being incorporated into his third studio album and take different track to his ‘Swimming Pools (Drank) and Rigamortis days . Leading single from the album ‘i’ is a catchy and diverse showing off Lamar’s unique style as a rapper.
5. Florence and the Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Making her return to the spotlight following a year gap Florence returned with a bold, dark third album. Proving she still has what it takes to be a great songwriter, front woman and performer Florence came back with an array of spellbinding singles – What Kind of Man, St Jude, Ship to Wreck to name a few. The tracks marked as ‘Odysseys’ sees the album come in chapters of released singles and videos.
4. Muse -Drones
Their 7th studio album yet Muse still prove what it takes to bring rock to the masses. Comeback track Psycho was true signature style of the Devon trio -with high falsetto’s, scuzzy guitars and thunderous drums.
3. Wolf Alice – My Love is Cool
The debut album My Love is Cool from the North London four piece brought gritty rock back to the mainstream. Frontwoman’s Ellie Roswell’s versatility in voices tones from vulnerability to self-assured help make the album and band a standout point of 2015. Highlights of the albums include scuzzy track Giant Peach – which takes listeners back to the 90’s American grunge scene and You’re A Germ – a subtle introduction before carnage of a chorus kicks in.
2. Disclosure – Caracal
The second album from Disclosure sees an array of collaborations from the likes of The Weeknd, Kwabs and Lion Babe. However artists such as Lorde -who collaborates on track Magnets is a standout point of the album her subtle yet vulnerable vocals fit perfectly against the beat. Gregory Porter gets the recognition he rightly deserves bringing his smooth vocals to Holding On and taking the track to another level. Jaded and Good Intentions can be expected to firm favorites amongst dance fans with fun, catchy beats.
1. Blur – The Magic Whip
Their first album in 12 years Blur’s comeback had high expectations and certainly lived up to them. Making it straight back to the top of the charts it felt as if the four piece never went away with their cheeky, fun and carefree songs. Opening track Lonesome Street is a classic Blur track – with cheeky lyrics, upbeat guitars and a slick bass help take listeners back to where it all began. Lonesome Street eases listeners into the album which shows a change of direction for the four piece band with the longest gap between two Blur albums -with the last album Think Tank released in 2003.Tracks such as Go Out, – a raw, gritty yet scuzzy sound from Blur. The track showcases their versatility against tracks such as My Terracotta Heart – a personal song about the relationship between frontman Damon Albarn and guitarist Graham Coxon.
Culturefly’s Best Albums of 2015
Culturefly have featured my 2 favorite albums from 2015 on their best album list. The year saw great debuts to long-awaited returns from massive bands and artists. Both albums I chose fitted in one of those categories -including the debut from Wolf Alice and the return of Blur as a 4-piece.
Wolf Alice- My Love is Cool
My Love is Cool by North London four piece Wolf Alice was released last summer, and it’s been getting moreand more recognition since then. ‘Giant Peach’ helped make Wolf Alice well-known, proving they’ve got what it takes to be a successful young band on both sides of the Atlantic, while still having fun at the same time. The track is a raucous and confident introduction which sounds as if it’s performed by a much older, more experienced band. The vulnerability in tracks such as ‘Bros’ and ‘You’re a Germ’, with front woman Ellie Rowell’s soft, delicate vocals, has a grunge influence that will take listeners back to the 90’s when the genre was at the forefront of the music scene. Scuzzy guitars and head banging choruses help make this album the standout of 2015.
Blur-The Magic Whip
Recorded in Hong Kong and London, The Magic Whip is the 8th studio album from Blur. The opening track, ‘Lonesome Street’, is classic Blur with its cheeky lyrics, upbeat guitars and a slick bass. The track eases listeners into an album that shows a change of direction for the four-piece band. With the chimes and keys in the introduction, ‘Pyongyang’ feels true to the Hong Kong recording. However, the highlight of the album is ‘Go Out’, a track more reminiscent of previous Blur songs like ‘Beetlebum’ and ‘Song 2’. The Magic Whip is a beautifully produced record, showcasing the band’s transition from 90’s kids to mature adults.
Live Review: Disclosure at Alexandra Palace
Alexandra Palace played returning host to Disclosure, in the second of a three night run for the electronic dance duo.
White Noise opened the set and immediately threw the sold out 7,300 capacity audience into a frenzy, proving why it’s one of the Lawrence brothers’ ‘favourite venues to play’.
In support of latest album Caracal – released in September this year – tracks such as Jaded, Magnets and Nocturnalwere performed, though the highlights of the gig came when the band played songs from their debut album, Settle.F for You and When A Fire Starts to Burn received a great reception, showing just how hard it is to live up to the great debut album.
Bang That brought some Ibiza spirit to London with the entire audience dancing in sync to an understated track from the latest deluxe version of the album.
The night was packed with special guests – with Eliza Doolittle, Kwabs and Lion Babe making appearances throughout the night. However, guest Brandon Riley – who most of the audience hadn’t heard of beforehand – came on for the encore of Moving Mountains. Riley blew the audience away with his stunning vocal range, making quite the impression during his three-minute appearance.
The duo closed their set with Latch, the song that features Sam Smith and made the brothers prominent to the mainstream charts. With such a stunning venue, fans were able to truly appreciate Disclosure’s music, proving how the Surrey born brothers can turn their hands to pretty much anything and make a successful dance track.
An epic 21 song set saw The Vaccines play their 3rd and final show of the year at London’s Brixton Academy. Kicking off the proceedings was Handsome, a cheeky introduction to a four piece who have continually developed and become better with age.
The UK tour, which is in support of their third studio album English Graffiti, has seen the London band tour relentlessly since its release in May this year. Tracks such as Dream Lover, 20/20 and Give Me A Sign, were met by a great reception from fans and show their versatility as a band. The Vaccines are great for mixing their upbeat indie tracks with their softer, loved up side. Their maturity and confidence shines through in English Graffiti and on stage, a far cry from their debut album What Did You Expect? Which -although an incredibly enjoyable album – felt a little like the 4 guys were in a rabbit in headlights situation; those days are long gone.
Frontman Justin Young gets the audience singing, bouncing and hands in the air. This gig marks a career highlight for the band and it’s clear they’re very appreciative of their 3 night run at the iconic London venue.
For the most part, The Vaccines played a courageous set full of fast and upbeat songs including Blow It Up and Bad Mood. Halfway through the gig the band took the pace down a little and offered the crowd a few of their slower numbers including (All Afternoon) In Love and Give Me A Sign. A highlight was haunting track All in White, which saw the audience sing in unison creating an eerie atmosphere with the spotlight featured on the band members.
Bursting into All My Heart – an upbeat, energetic track- sees Newman back to his signature style. Something Special takes a slower pace during the intro of the song showcasing the 25 year olds distinctive vocals before leading into an electro synthesizer chorus.
Notably one thing gathered from listening to the album is it would be a great to live listen. Tracks Lights Down and Never Give It Up are itching to be toured with dramatic strings, vibrant vocals and can’t help yourself but dance along to the catchy melodies. Leading single Come And Get It, which was released October 16th, is a standout point on the album. The pop melodies and catchy hooks helped bring Newman back into the charts following his phenomenal success with debut album Tribute.
A great collaboration in Tiring Game, with legendary RnB singer Charlie Wilson, sees Newman overshadowed with Wilson helping to make the track come alive. Both vocals fit perfectly in the pop, soul track.
Tracks Give You My Love and Killing are slow burners – hard to get into within the first few listens. Overall the second album from Newman gets off to a great start with an energised performance from pop soul prince. However there is not much of an evolvement towards the end of the album with mediocre tracks We All Get Lonely leaving listeners disappointed to what is otherwise a great first half of an album.
EofE will be releasing their highly anticipated self-titled album on October 9, and with their bold and raucous sound, it’s a debut that’s sure to gain the band a lot more followers.
The five-piece black country band’s opening track, Get Caught, starts off as it means to go on – with confidence. It’s a guitar heavy song with pounding drums that showcases exactly what’s yet to come from the hotly tipped breakthrough band; lots of head banging noise, booming vocals and foot stomping beats.
Wake Up and Bridges follow suit, continuing the fast pace and delivering explosive choruses that demand to be sung along to in large arenas with massive crowds.
Taking a slight breather from the thunderous rock of previous tracks, Save The Night has a more commercial sound, whilst the verses on Waiting for Olivia slow things down and reveal a hidden softness to frontman Tom Harris’ incredible vocals.
The gentle and melodious intro of Lifeboat offers a small respite from the album’s intensity, lulling listeners into thinking that they might be in for a slower song to mark the halfway point, but EofE refuse to relent for very long and soon those roaring choruses are back. The mix of catchy melodies and heartfelt lyrics continues against the backdrop of pounding rock, with Only Get Better, Y.O.U and Ruins maintaining energy and enthusiasm right until the end.
With their debut album, EofE have displayed a fierce and explosive talent that will rival the more mainstream British rock bands on the music scene. Having played a number of festivals over the summer, now we wait for the band to start their next tour of the UK. We’ll be first in line for tickets.
Lead track ‘Ocean Drive‘ is a majestic beginning with a more mature sound from the British producer, kicking off proceedings with an 80s disco pop feel.
There’s a definite change in direction coming through, there’s your typical mainstream Duke Dumont tracks, mixed in with tracks like ‘Robert Talking‘ featuring 80s singer Robert Owens. The seven minute song is fun yet suave, Owens’ singing adding a sexy tone to the track, and the funky guitars and light beats are reminiscent of Daft Punk’s mega hit ‘Get Lucky’. Perfect for the Ibiza closing parties.
‘Melt‘ is another new turn; soulful vocals and a house groove add to the slower pace, demonstrating Dumont’s ability to be versatile. It’s a great track to wind down to and a far cry from mainstream hit ‘Need U 100%’.
Final track ‘Won’t Look Back‘ was a worldwide chart favourite upon its release and remains a festival staple. Propelling Dumont as a top producer and DJ, and featuring the astonishing vocals from Yolanda Quartey, the song puts the Duke in Duke Dumont.
Part 1 of the EP collection gives fans of Dumont a versatile sound, with ‘Melt’ being the firm highlight.
Opening track ‘Real Life‘ features subtle vocals from 25-year-old Abel Tesfaye (aka The Weeknd) with a backdrop of dramatic keys easing listeners into the 14 track album. ‘Losers‘ follows, with a beautiful intro, taking a slower pace before exploding into an upbeat chorus. The track is a clear highlight with its unexpected brass instrumentation making it come alive.
‘Tell Your Friends‘ features a similar narration to the first two tracks with a dark look into relationships and drugs, and the Canadian’s sedate vocals help to create some eerie imagery. Produced by outspoken rapper Kanye West, with lyrics that don’t reject that media persona (‘I’m that n**ga with the hair/singing ’bout popping pills, f**king b**ches, living life so trill’), he certainly had an influence; never being one to shy away from frank lyrics.
‘The Hills‘, which was released as a single in May, sees some dark production. The synths and hypnotic vocals help juxtapose the grim reality of relationships with The Weeknd’s emotional side in tracks ‘Acquainted‘ and ‘As You Are‘. Both tracks are tender love songs that feel somewhat misplaced and stand out a little too jarringly.
Worldwide summer hit ‘Can’t Feel My Face‘ is a disco inspired track co-written by Max Martin with catchy hooks and an upbeat melody. The groovy beat against the a stark lyrical story of drug use is another example of contrast, but it’s a classic tune with an edge of Michael Jackson.
The Weeknd demanded more attention earlier this year with ‘Earned It‘ being featured on ’50 Shades of Grey’. The angelic tones against an orchestral backdrop have no doubt propelled him to a wider audience.
‘Beauty Behind The Madness’ pushes the boundaries in music, experimenting and mixing genres, so much so that the themes of sex, drugs and love are overlooked. It’s a great listen from beginning to end even in spite of a couple of less than brilliant tracks interrupting the flow. Nevertheless it showcases the talent of this very unique artist and will no doubt up his fanbase, which he rightly deserves.
Many Things released their debut album, Burn Together, on September 4, taking listeners on a voyage into the quirky and surreal.
Opening track Holy Fire is a slow starter with soft keys and subtle vocals to ease you in. A faster pace kicks in halfway through, with synths giving an edge to the first of eleven tracks on the album. It’s a powerful beginning, one that instantly makes the listener sit up and take note.
Dear One follows with strong vocals from frontman Michael Tomlinson, catchy melodies and an infectious 80’s feel. It’s the perfect track for pop lovers and a particular highlight on the album.
Tracks like Alpha Romeo, Burn Together and Chains give a fresh and lively flavour to the bold collection of songs, successfully taking listeners right back to their youth.
I Won’t Run Away on Love has a dramatic, sci-fi style opening but it feels misplaced and out of tune with the rest of the track list. Thankfully, Some Things Last Forever brings back that pure pop sound that Many Things excels at, combining catchy guitars and melodies to great effect.
With a long instrumental intro and an almost distant feeling, What We Are is the perfect song to close the album. As a listener you need to be open-minded before playing Burn Together; Many Things push boundaries in terms of experimenting with music and bringing back the good old genre of electro pop. It’s certainly not for everyone but it’s an enjoyable debut from a promising band that you can expect to hear good things from in the future.
Album Review: VHS- X Ambassadors
Made up of 13 tracks with 7 interludes, VHS is a personal and family orientated album featuring home family tape recordings. ‘Renegades’, the second single taken from the album, is a soft track lead by an acoustic guitar, allowing the subtle tones and melodies to ease listeners into the album. Since its release the track has received great attention and radio air play in the UK & US and recently in topped the Hot AC chart in America.
The first half of the album showcases a slower and gentler side to the Brooklyn based band, this is epitomised with the track ‘Unsteady’ which features dramatic keys and a heart-warming feel – overall and showcasing lead singer Sam Harris ’emotive vocals.
‘Hang On’ takes a different musical approach with a catchy and upbeat sound and furthermore showcases the versatility and confidence of the group. If it’s not already noted for a single, ‘Gorgeous’ should most certainly be a track the band release as an A-side. It’s pure pop and has a similar feel to Nick Jonas’ (rather impressive) recent pop it ‘Jealous’ with edgy keys and distant vocals from Harris.
X Ambassadors feature imaginative collaborations for their debut album with Imagine Dragons featuring on track Fear and two tracks alongside Jamie N Commons. ‘Low Life’ and ‘Jungle’ in which Commons both features, are stand-out moments and it’s plain to see why the four piece has become so prominent on both sides of the Atlantic – even garnering a remix featuring hip hop giant Jay-Z.
This is a great start to X Ambassadors career and was worth the wait proving their style is unlike any other US bands of the moment. X Ambassadors debut album VHS is a confident and solid start which demonstrates a potentially strong start to their musical career.
Official Site –
Wireless Festival 2015 Review
New Look Wireless Festival drew to a close last weekend, with over 70 acts performing across 3 stages, all in celebration of their 10th birthday.
Duke Dumont played a packed out tent and got Wireless Festival off to a great start. Playing mainstream house tracks such as The Giver, Need U and Won’t Look Back got the audience in an upbeat mood for the rest of the day’s line up.
Kicking off proceedings on the Friday was ASAP Rocky, who performed tracks including Goldie and Excuse Me. The performance was uninspiring and lacked engagement with the audience, leaving festival goers in anticipation for headliner Drake.
Drake took to the stage, after cancelling last year’s headline appearance due to illness, and was definitely worth the wait being a standout 90 minute performance. The Canadian rapper was appreciative of the Wireless crowd claiming London was his ‘second home’ before being joined by local MC Skepta for track Shutdown.
Drake’s fast paced set, which included a whopping 31 tracks, took a slower pace halfway through the set with Hold On, We’re Going Home, How Bout Now and Take Care giving the audience a chance to sing louder than the music.
Highlights of Drake’s set included 0 to 100 and Started from the Bottom, which got the audience into a frenzy rapping in sync with the 28 year old. A remix of My Way provided a treat for Drake fans with his enthusiasm and creativity being brought to main stage and marking the end for the first of three days.
Day 2 of the weekend saw Avicii headline the day’s line up. The 25 year old was placed on a colour changing cube, bringing his worldwide DJ credentials to Finsbury Park. Performing tracks from his 2013 debut album True, including Levels and Hey Brother, gave the chance for festival goers to dance in the beautiful sunshine by bringing Ibiza to London.
However a particular highlight from the set was Wake Me Up, the song which brought Avicii to everyone’s attention and probably the reason why the Swedish producer was headlining Saturday’s line up. The atmosphere of the first few seconds of the track energized the audience as one of the best dance tracks produced this decade.
Albeit festival attendees would agree American rapper Kendrick Lamar dominated day 2 of the line-up and was a personal highlight from across the weekend with an ambitious set. Lamar’s first UK appearance since the release of his number one third studio album To Pimp A Butterfly received a great response from fans and festival goers, reaching the number 1 spot back in March. The 28 year old’s set featured a mini movie rolling as a backdrop with Lamar and his live band providing some hope for today’s line up, which had been otherwise been uninspiring. Highlights of Lamar’s set included favourite tracks B***h Don’t Kill My Vibe, Swimming Pools (Drank) and I; a set that worked brilliantly live with his raw energy carrying the audience throughout.
Despite a great start, the rest of the weekend most marred by myriad problems. Security at the festival was outnumbered when on Friday outsiders broke into the festival and invaded Lethal Bizzle’s headline set at the Re-wired stage, and on Saturday, a few hundred non-paying ticket holders rushed the main entrance of the site forcing the festival to shut down. Therefore no ticketholders, press or VIP guests were allowed to enter the festival. The final day of New Look Wireless festival saw more controversy with Nicki Minaj arriving 2 hours late, thereby shortening headliner David Guetta‘s set.Minaj left little to the imagination with her skimpy outfit choice but overall the 32 year old’s personality shone through on stage. The female American rapper was appreciative of her fans, showing love heart symbols following her late arrival, and performing a hit packed set including Super Bass, Anaconda and her recent duet with David Guetta Hey Mama.
Final act across the weekend David Guetta took to the stage giving a short yet sharp performance sending the Wireless Festival out with a bang. The 47 year old French DJ’s raw energy is still present and his enthusiasm for music and performing is still at the forefront.
Overall, Wireless festival marked their 10th birthday with a sold out weekend, beautiful weather and a great line up, bringing hip hop, rap and dance music to Finsbury Park. Avid Wireless festival goers are already counting down to what next year has to bring.
Album Review: Before We Forgot How to Dream: SOAK
SOAK’s debut Before We Forgot How to Dream is an exquisite melancholy fourteen track album.
My Brain, which is a beautiful instrumental start to the album, sees SOAK aka Birdie Monds-Watson showcase the opening narrative of his formative years of growing up in Northern Ireland. The minute long track is a segway into the album and track B a noBody. The use of electric guitars accompanied by a strings section is perfect for a relaxed Sunday with SOAK’s chalky vocals taking centre stage of B a noBody.
Tracks such as Blud and Sea Creatures, which were both released as singles from the album, are receiving wide attention and air play on radio’s making a name for the 19 year old in a short amount of time. Both tracks showcase SOAK’s talent for music and in particular how remarkable her song writing skills are writing tracks respectively as a 14/15 year old. Blud, which sees SOAK herself showcase a hidden talent of drumming on the track is beautifully written and will be played across more of this summer through radio’s and festivals gaining the recognition it rightly deserves. Sea Creatures is catchy and fun track displaying personal teenage thoughts of the time with “The Stars and the moon remind me of you” and how SOAK’s vulnerability comes through.
A Dream to Fly is another instrumental track marking halfway through the album and seeing a different second sound and approach to the poignant Before We Forgot How to Dream.
24 Windowed House has a heavenly guitar with soft melancholy vocals being a highlight track from the album. They are noticeable comparisons to fellow folk singer Laura Marling however the openness and song topics are comparable to US blues singer Valerie June who discusses main topic of song writing are family.
Garden is the most fast-paced track from the album with heart-felt lyrics such as ‘Waste my time on you” and a personal insight into the 19 year olds complex teenage feelings of arguments and growing up in Northern Ireland. Track Shovels sees SOAK’s spiritual style of music come to live getting mesmerised listening to the acoustic guitar.
Before We Forget How to Dream is a stunning debut album and signals great things to come for the Londonderry born musician. The narrative of the album has a distinctive beginning, middle and end with the short instrumental tracks and If Everyone is Someone-No Everyone is Everyone marking a close of noticeable fresh talent in the UK.
Before We Forget How to Dream is available through Rough Trade Records and is available now.
EP Review: The Winter Brave -The Hand You Never Seem to Lend
Hailing from the US, The Winter Brave formed in 2007 gaining worldwide recognition following a fan Q&A from Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl when the two piece band were praised. And no wonder: ‘The Hand You Never Seem to Lend EP‘ is a confident and raucous sound from the two piece alternative duo The Winter Brave.
‘As You Once Were‘, is catchy and memorable start to the five track mini album, with its thunderous and haunting vocals from Jake Scarpino. The track is a perfect way to open the EP with its slick guitars and punchy sound showcasing what to expect from the Boston band.
Single ‘You Got It‘, which is set be released on July 28, has a festival sound with a memorable and sing-along chorus of “oh oh oh” bringing some deserved attention to the band and their incredible sound as a two piece.
‘Taken‘, which is the slowest track featured on ‘The Hand You Never Seem to Lend’, has a melancholy sound displaying The Winter Brave’s vulnerable side. It demonstrations the band’s experimentation and potential with its downbeat, heartfelt lyrics.
Final track ‘Away‘ is the definite highlight from the EP and is a brilliant rock track. Passionate vocals and scuzzy guitars help close an overall well-produced mini album, giving us high expectations of what is to come from The Winter Brave.
The Winter Brave’s enthusiasm is there but not enough momentum to sustain the listener’s attention throughout the whole EP. ‘Meet You There’ sounds too similar to ‘Taken’, slower-paced but less memorable and with a simple yet uninviting tone.
The Best of Camden Rocks 2015
God DamnGod Damn played two sets at Camden Rocks, with a show at the Electric Ballroom earlier in the day. I was lucky enough to catch the band as a surprise unannounced act at the intimate The Barfly. Consisting of Thom Edward on guitar/vocals and Ash Weaver on drums, God Damn is a band with bags of potential and clear Black Sabbath/The Pixies influences.Highlight of the Set: Where the Wind Blows is snarly and atmospheric, drawing comparisons to Royal Blood with its relentless heavy rock.
Indie-pop band Jaws formed in 2012 and they caught my attention at Camden Rocks with their modern take on grunge. They’re a relatively young band eager to make a statement and their performance at Dingwalls has hopefully gained them some more fans.
Highlight of the Set: With hazy guitars and a grungy nostalgic sound, Bad Company made Jaws stand out from a lot of the other bands on show.
Following The Graveltones’ first set of the day (they played at the Jazz Café at 4pm), the band performed at The Barfly for a memorable evening slot. Delivering slick guitars and thunderous drums, this is a band that deserves even more recognition than it’s received so far. If there’s one thing that you can commend Jimmy O and Mikey Sorbello on, it’s their ability to produce loads of glorious noise.
Highlight of the Set: The Graveltones played dance-along tracks Forget About The Trouble and Bang Bang, but it was Catch Me On The Fly that saw the bluesy Australian duo shine.
The final highlight of the festival was another set at The Barfly, this time from Turbowolf, who had a lot to live up to after The Graveltones’ rollicking gig. Thankfully the band more than rose to the challenge, pulling in a sizeable audience despite clashing with the likes of Bullet For My Valentine. Returning to Camden Rocks for another year, the Bristol band took control of the stage with bags of charisma and showmanship.
Highlight of the Set: From the head-banging Ancient Snake, to the less heavy Nine Lives, to firm favouriteRabbits Foot, Turbowolf’s entire set-list was the main musical highlight of the day.
Another year and another roaring success, Camden Rocks remains the most rock ‘n’ roll one-day event on the UK music calendar.
Radio 1’s Big Weekend -Saturday Review
BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend is Europe’s biggest free festival, having previously brought the likes of Jay Z to Hackney in 2012, Paramore to Londonderry in 2013 and Pharrell Williams to Glasgow in 2014. This year Earlham Park in Norwich played host to the stellar 2015 line-up.
The Vaccines kicked off the first of many live acts for the day, opening with the fast paced Teenage Icon, taken from the band’s second studio album. Playing the main stage, they also performed more of their indie hits including Post Break-up Sex and I Always Knew, before closing with Norgaard. Their 30-minute set was the perfect way to get the audience in the festival mood; The Vaccines always leave crowds wanting more.Snoop Dogg played the In New Music We Trust stage, with the hip hop legend treating fans in the tent to songs from his back catalogue. Much to the audience’s delight, he also showed support for the local city by wearing a Norwich City football shirt.
The next band to play the main stage was US band Fall Out Boy, who were performing Big Weekend for the first time. Proving to be a particular highlight of the day, Fall Out Boy are a true fan band – playing their vast back catalogue, interacting in between songs and showing an appreciation for the people who had turned out to watch them perform.
Hits including Sugar, We’re Goin Down and Dance Dance were welcomed by the Radio 1 audience following Fall Out Boy’s recent hiatus, though the main highlight was Thnks fr the Mmrs. Raucous yet dark, Fall Out Boy still perform the track with such enthusiasm that it’s hard to believe the song was released back in 2007. They certainly reignited the UK’s love for the band, while potentially gaining some new fans amongst the crowd.
In between the main acts there were fun fair rides to keep people entertained and delicious food from around the world to indulge in. There was also a chance to catch artists on the smaller stages. Glimpses of Ella Eyre, Charli XCX and Circa Waves provided something for everyone at the festival, each artist pulling in a substantial crowd.
French superstar David Guetta returned to the festival for the fifth time, showcasing his world-class DJ skills to the audience, spinning tracks from his first release in 2002. Guetta played songs such as Shot Me Down andDangerous, bringing a bit of Vegas to Norwich and living up to his global status. The DJ’s impressive stage productions featured comic inspired backgrounds and pyrotechnics, sending the audience into a frenzy as the sun set on the Saturday evening.
Following Guetta, and prior to headliners Muse, Florence and the Machine graced the main stage with an acoustic set. The prominent news coverage of front woman Florence Welch’s broken foot didn’t go unnoticed as she was assisted onto the stage by another band member. She was apologetic for not giving a full performance but instead opted for a rather stripped back set for the 25,000 strong crowd. The harmonic What the Water Gave Me began proceedings, leading into Calvin Harris’ Sweet Nothing, which Welch sings on.
Welch previewed Ship to Wreck and What Kind of Man from her new album, and closed with old favourite Dog Days Are Over. Even the stripped back approach couldn’t dampen spirits, with Florence and the Machine going down an absolute treat with fans.
The almighty Muse closed day one of Radio 1’s Big Weekend with an hour-long set. The Devon trio opened withReaper, which is featured on their upcoming seventh album, Drones. The band’s stage background was in keeping with the new album, with CCTV style cameras being featured on each band member.
The rollicking Supermassive Black Hole and Time is Running Out energised the audience after what had been a long day of music, food and drink. They closed with the epic Knights of Cydonia, which showed exactly why Muse remain one of the most in demand live bands.
There couldn’t have been a better way to end the first day of BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend, with Norwich putting on a great show for music lovers across the UK.
Live Music Review: Femme at The Lexington
Femme graced The Lexington stage last night to launch her brand new single, SOS, which we featured as our music video of the week a few weeks ago.
Following on from a line-up that included Grace Savage and Ronika, the feisty and fashionable pop star performed the track to the sold-out venue, accompanied by two backing dancers.
The atmosphere was surprisingly lively and energetic for a mid-week gig, with Femme’s upbeat stage presence and endless enthusiasm keeping the audience engaged throughout her short but sweet 30-minute set.
The stage was an explosion of colour; the gold backdrop, sequin outfits and pink cheerleader pom-poms showcasing Femme’s fun attitude and innate creativity when it comes to design and putting on a show.
Femme introduced SOS as “what we are all here for tonight” and the single received a great reaction from the London crowd. The track combines retro pop sounds with a futuristic feel through the use of electro pop synths.
Femme is starting out as she means to go on and last night’s gig was a great display of what she has to offer the music world. Hopefully this is the start of a glittering career for the bold British singer-songwriter.
SOS is released through ZTT on May 4.
Live Music Review: Royal Blood at Brixton Academy
Not a band to waste time, they went straight into first track Hole – a B side to Little Monster – which was a courageous song to open with as only hard-core Royal Blood followers would be aware of the track. Despite this, the duo delivered with the raw, confident sound of frontman Mike Kerr’s slick bass guitar and menacing vocals, so it didn’t seem to matter that not everyone in the audience knew the song.
The fast paced Little Monster featured halfway through the gig, hyping the audience into a bigger frenzy. The duo didn’t pause for breath, performing hit after hit from their debut album and maintaining the rollicking rock and roll energy that’s made them so popular. It’s amazing that such a vast sound can be produced with just two musicians and instruments, and Royal Blood had the audience enthralled.
The sold out show saw firm favourites Ten Tonne Skeleton, Come On Over and Loose Change become sing-along songs, giving the gig a warm and welcoming homecoming vibe. You Can Be So Cruel and Blood Handssaw Kerr’s impressive bass guitar skills come alive and it’s on tracks like these that you can really appreciate Royal Blood’s sheer talent.
For a band that only formed in 2013, they’ve come a long way since playing to a room which Kerr states had a “washing machine in”. Seeing Royal Blood only three weeks prior to Brixton at Camden’s KOKO, I knew what to expect from the set list but the show was yet another boisterous triumph for the band.
Live Music Review: Royal Blood at KOKO, Camden
Last night Royal Blood kicked off Brits Week 2015 by playing a sold out show at London’s KOKO.
A lengthy stage entrance saw the rock duo get straight into their self-titled debut album with Come On Over. The recognisable intro of frontman Mike Kerr’s slick bass guitar got the crowd into frenzy and when You Can Be So Cruel was played – which happens to be my favourite song from the album – I couldn’t help but jump along to the track.
When the band performed You Want Me, the B-side to Come On Over, it was the first time I’d heard the song and it’s not a typical Royal Blood track. Less heavy and more indie but still fitting within the set-list, You Want Me brought the tempo down for a less fast-paced atmosphere to mark the halfway point of the gig.
The Brighton band featured on Culturefly’s best albums of 2014 and they’re already tipped for future headlining slots and stadiums. Being able to see Royal Blood play in a mere 1400 capacity was a pure treat for fans. Better Strangers, Blood Hands and Loose Change showed the duo’s versatility, determination and uniqueness; they’re bringing rock music back to the UK, and they’re doing it with style.
The band are up for three nominations at this year’s prestigious Brit Awards, with last night’s ticket proceeds going to War Child. My highlight of the gig was Little Monster which, with its catchy hooks and thrashing drums, echoed through the London venue with the audience singing along in sync to Kerr’s every word.
It was a short but punchy set which left the audience wanting more, but sadly there was no encore from the rock two-piece. When your ears rings from the loudness of the speakers, you know it’s been a good gig. I look forward to seeing Royal Blood again in less than a month with their biggest London show to date at Brixton Academy. See you there!
Live Music Review: Kaiser Chiefs at the 02 Arena
Last night the Kaiser Chiefs played the London leg of their arena tour at the O2.
Taking to the stage through the mist and opening with Factory Gates – a track taken from their last studio albumEducation, Education, Education & War – the Kaiser Chiefs started their show with a raw, lively energy which didn’t fade until the end.
The gig featured hit after hit with fans singing along to tracks such as Everyday I Love You Less and Less, Never Miss a Beat and Coming Home. Ricky Wilson proved that he’s one of the best frontmen in the country at present, by getting the audience to participate, sing along and chant the band’s name throughout the gig. When it came to Everything is Average Nowadays, Wilson jumped into the audience, allowing fans to get up close and personal with The Voice judge.
It’s been almost two years since the band supported Bon Jovi at British Summer Time Festival and things have certainly changed in that short time. The band lost drummer Nick Hodgson and gained the brilliant Vijay Mistry, who has given a noticeable enthusiasm and energy back to the band who have been pushing their live shows to a new level.
The highlight of the gig was when the band played My Life, a track that showcases their sheer talent and potential. As fan favourites and two of the Kaiser Chiefs’ most well known songs, Ruby and I Predict a Riotcouldn’t be omitted from the set-list and it’s safe to say they still have the ability to get people moving.
Before the Kaisers came back for an encore, a mock video was played featuring Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl giving his ‘words of encouragement’ pep talk before the band played the final three tracks of the gig. The band’s new song, Falling Awake, proves that the band are continuing to evolve and push their sound with a more creative and experimental approach.
The O2 gig marked a significant night for the band, who are currently celebrating the anniversary of a decade since their debut album. Closing with Oh My God – their first single way back in 2004 – the band ended their London gig on a high note. The Kaiser Chiefs have always been good live but this performance exceeded any expectations I had. This is a band you must see live to fully appreciate.
Live Music Review: The Vaccines at the Village Underground
Last night The Vaccines played a storming set at The Village Underground in Shoreditch. The intimate, sold out show marked the return of the indie band, as they announced the release of their third studio album, English Graffiti. Tickets were limited with a fan lottery system in place and I was one of the lucky ones fortunate enough to see the four-piece preview their new material.
The band opened with Blow It Up, an underrated track from their back catalogue. The slower song led intoTeenage Icon, which is featured on the 2012 album Come of Age and is a typical Vaccine song full of light-heartedness, fun and a punchy kick.
The band previewed Want You So Bad, which frontman Justin Young stated “was the sexist The Vaccines were gonna get”. The melancholy mood of the track lowered the tone of the gig, fitting in with the theme of the venue and its up-close and personal small capacity. The track showcases The Vaccines’ versatility; here’s hoping it will be released as a single.
Young and co. relied heavily on material from their debut album, with tracks Wrekin Bar (Ra Ra Ra), If You Wanna and Post Break-Up Sex providing the raucous and raw sound that the band are known for. The Vaccines know exactly what their fans want and they totally deliver.
Towards the end of the gig, the band played their brand new single, Handsome. Despite the video only being released earlier this week, the fast-paced track received a positive reception from the crowd.
The Vaccines provided everything you would expect from a Vaccines gig: a cool manner with a raw edge, marking their territory on the music scene once more.
Culturefly’s 13 Best Albums of 2014
My two albums picks have been featured on Culturefly’s best albums of the year.
Royal Blood -Royal Blood
My outstanding album of the year is Royal Blood’s self-titled debut. As the recipient of the BBC’s Sound of 2013, Royal Blood gained a lot of media attention for being a rock band in the mainstream music world. The hype is completely warranted though, as the band provides a young and refreshing approach to the often inactive rock genre. As well as this being my favourite album of the year, Royal Blood’s Little Monster serves as my favourite track of 2014, with its ambitious and confident sound. This album is mature, memorable, raw and intense; it’ll send a chill down your spine. Generating such a raucous sound is quite an achievement for such a young band, and this is just the beginning for the ambitious rock duo.
Kasabian – 48:13
Kasabian’s 48.13 album was a particular highlight in music this year. Released in early June, it was the Leicester band’s fifth studio album and it saw them push the psychedelic rock genre to a whole new level. From the short and eerie opening track, Shiva, to the mellower final song on the album, S.P.S, there’s never any doubt about the quality of Kasabian’s music. The album’s influences range from Led Zepplin to Kanye West, and there’s a real sense of creativity and experimentation that shines through, ensuring that 48.13 has become a firm favourite with both fans and critics alike. It doesn’t sound like anything Kasabian have done before and, more importantly, it’s unlike anything else currently in the charts.
Live Music Review: Robbie Boyd at the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen
The Hoxton Sq Bar & Kitchen played host to singer-songwriter Robbie Boyd last night, and it was a treat for fans and new listeners alike.
Boyd has previously played other sold-out London shows at The Borderline, The Barfly and Bush Hall, but there was something about the intimacy of this small capacity venue that lent itself to Boyd’s folky sound.
Making a low-key entrance and opening with I Won’t Let You Go, Boyd eased his audience into the gig with his slow and heartfelt vocals, which brought to mind Mumford and Sons.
Less Than Friends continued the easy listening and therapeutic mood of the gig and had people waving their hands, enjoying the tranquil tone of the track.
Boyd’s new single, Brave, was supposed to be released in early December but the singer explained that he “hadn’t got round to it” and promised that it would be released soon. With its positive and feel-good lyrics, the song received a great response from the audience.
The highlight of the gig, however, was the uplifting Spring Generation, which sounded like early Frank Turner material.
Watching Boyd’s passion for his music and warmness towards the audience, it’s not difficult to see why he’s garnered a loyal yet low-key following.
With next year’s festival season to look forward to, we expect to hear much more from Robbie Boyd as we head into 2015.
Live Music Review: DJ Snoopadelic Performs at London’s 02 Indigo
Last night saw DJ Snoopadelic, aka Snoop Dogg, bring the West Coast to the South East at the O2 Indigo in London
Snoop performed as a DJ at last night’s official Musicalize website launch party. The singer, songwriter and actor might have been in the industry for over 20 years but he’s lost none of the talent and cool factor that made him so popular to begin with.
Snoop opened up with The Next Episode – which he collaborated on with Dr Dre in 2000 – and it was a treat for all the hip-hop fans at the venue. At the end of the track, Snoopadelic asked the audience ‘Who in here smokes weed?’ in relation to the famous line “smoking weed everyday” in the song, as the man himself was seen lighting up at the same time.
The 43 year old’s stage presence was laid back, his go-with-the-flow approach showing his appreciation towards his fans and the love for the music he was playing. Tracks including Jay Z/Kanye West’s Ni**as in Paris, 2Pac’sCalifornia Love, and 50 Cent’s In Da Club were particular highlights on the night, showcasing a lively hip-hop back catalogue and giving fans exactly what they wanted.
The audience members were fully immersed in the gig, dancing along to the Cali born rapper’s DJ set and creating a brilliant atmosphere for a Tuesday night in London. Whatever alias he goes by, Snoop sure knows how to please his fans.
Live Music Review: Pharrell Williams at the 02 Arena
Anticipation and excitement was in the air as the crowd waited for international superstar Pharrell Williams to take to the stage at the O2 Arena on Friday night (October 10).
Playing his last date in London, Pharrell opened his set with Come Get It Bae, taken from his latest solo studio album, Girl. Minus Miley Cyrus, an energetic and dancing mood filled the arena, as the audience was treated to hit after hit from the US star’s back catalogue.
Showcasing his most recent solo work, as well as tracks from his time in N.E.R.D and collaborations with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Daft Punk and Robin Thicke, Pharrell catered for every member of the audience.
Williams’ stage presence was matched by his backing dancers, who were introduced by the man himself and given their own segment of the show. It was easy to see from their performances that everyone on stage appreciated the 20,000 strong crowd, with Williams stating that UK fans have played a “strong part in his career”.
Highlights of the gig were surprise renditions of Nelly’s Hot in Here, Daft Punk’s Get Lucky – where everyone sang in unison – and closing track Happy, where confetti shot into the crowd to mark the end a momentous gig.
If you ever have the chance to get to a Pharrell Williams gig, you should.
Live Music Review: Magners Original Sessions
It was 28 degrees and the sun was shining on the typical laidback Shoreditch atmosphere. A couple of strawberry ciders later and the Magners Original Sessions were underway. Held at the Vibe Bar in the heart of East London’s Brick Lane, it was a fitting venue to hold live music and reveal up-and-coming talent.
Magners showcased some great cabaret in-between acts, including hula hooping, which saw gig-goers getting free lessons in the popular 50’s craze. People were enjoying themselves, showcasing their hidden talent and flexibility, whilst reliving their childhood. As well as a DJ playing a versatile selection of music – from the likes of David Bowie to The Black Keys – there seemed to be something for everyone. Every wristband holder received a card with a popular party game such as Jenga, Spin the Bottle or Twister on. People then had to interact and match their card with others to receive a free Magners cider. It was a great way to meet new people in a friendly atmosphere.
With our upfront seats we had a full view of the stage and when 4:30pm arrived, Essex band Longy started their set. The band, who had just come from Huntington’s Secret Garden Party festival, opened with Promise To My People. Frontman Longy captured the audience’s attention with his solo performance and his gritty voice syncing brilliantly with his acoustic guitar. In between songs the band partook in audience interaction and got involved with the festival atmosphere.
The second track, TV and Magazines, which was released as a single from Longy’s forthcoming EP, saw the band’s trumpet player enter through the middle of the crowd to take centre stage. The track’s lyrics were quite soft and poetic, allowing the brass instrument to add definition to the song. Longy’s voice was both emotive and gravely, showing feelings and passion in his performance. His style reminded me of Scottish singer Paolo Nutini, in particular his ability to captivate the audience through both his voice and performance.
The full band took to the stage on the third track, Love Schizophrenia, giving a more raucous and brash presence to the Magners Session. The instruments took over the lively city bar and the speakers were turned up to eleven, making East London’s residents aware of the five-piece band.
The closing track, Victoria, was a fitting song to close the 30-minute set. Catchy, upbeat and memorable, the track seemed like a great summer festival song.
Longy are a band who aim to leave their audience wanting more. Their ‘Who is Longy?’ campaign took off because they wanted to be a band who aren’t just about image. They let their music do the talking and already have a large following. If all their gigs are this enjoyable, they should be gaining fans by the day.
Magners promised great music, tasty food and a unique experience, and they delivered. The Original Session provided a variety of music demonstrating different genres coming together on one stage. Next stop on the Magners tour is Glasgow on Aug 2nd – if you love live music, you won’t want to miss it.
Camden Rocks 2014 Review
Camden Rocks is a festival known for its liveliness and eccentricity. The one-day festival – which is in its third year – saw over 200 bands perform across 20 venues. Attending the festival for the first time, I was both excited and apprehensive of what to expect, with the festival claiming it to be ‘Most Rock ‘n’ Roll festival all-dayer of the year’, and it certainly lived up to that statement. The World’s End held wristband collections, with the British tradition of long queues taking place, expanding round the pub and leaving festival goers restricted until the live music.
The first live band I saw was Shiva and the Hazards. Having formed in late 2012, I’d heard great things about the Melbourne/London based band and wanted
to catch them live to see what they had to offer. Upon arrival, frontman Doug Hind immediately captured the audience’s attention through his charisma and swagger – adopting the style of Liam Gallagher. The gig, held at Proud, had a relaxed feel, as if you were watching a band in your living room, with attendees watching from sofas. It could almost have been an audition for the band, creating a juxtaposition of intimacy and vitality. Audition or not, Shiva played great tracks including their debut single East India Empress, which was kept for the end of their set. The track, which was produced by Chris Potter – who has worked with the likes of The Verve and Richard Ashcroft, featured long guitar riffs showcasing their talent and hunger for music. The song revealed a range of influences, with slick guitars and hoarse vocals making it instantly suitable for radio stations such as XFM or BBC 6 Music. The confidence Shiva and the Hazards had as they played to an audience who were relatively new to their music made them a memorable introduction to the festival.
Crowds gathered outside Underworld with excitement and eagerness to catch punk rock band The Howling live.Their new single, Possessed, which is set to be taken from their debut album The Big Smoke and Mirrors later this year, is heavy metal combined with beats and synthesizers. As with every song, the band gave an energetic performance with fans head banging and jumping around in unison. The Howling have achieved a vast following in a relatively short amount of time, and their passion and determination came through in rebellious track Champion. The frontman, nicknamed ‘Blacky’, had great stage presence as he kept control of the audience whilst loosing himself in the music. The short 30-minute set certainly left the audience wanting more from the punk rock band.
Previewing tracks from every band at Camden Rocks, I was excited to hear blues band The Graveltones playing at the iconic Jazz Café. Being a massive fan of blues, it was great to see the rawness of the two-piece band playing at a predominantly heavy metal and rock festival. Formed in 2011, the band played tracks from their well-received debut album, Don’t Wait Down. The album, which was released in May last year, has been heavily promoted with the band already halfway through their European tour.The highlight of the gig was The Graveltones’ performance of Forget About the Trouble, showcasing their love of playing live by making use of every single space on the small stage. With a heavy drum beat and slick guitars, instant comparisons to The White Stripes and The Black Keys were made. However, The Graveltones made their mark with frontman Jimmy O’s charisma and charm, not to mention the audience interaction between songs.
Festival goers of Camden Rocks had the tough decision of which headliner to see at the one day event. Bands including The Subways, Get Cape.Wear Cape.Fly and Hacktavist were all performing and overlapping each other’s sets. However, I decided to see Sheffield band Reverend and the Makers, after they won me over in 2012 at the iconic Camden Roundhouse. Fans were elated to see the indie favourites in the small capacity venue of Camden’s Proud. Firm favourites of the gig were the opening track, Bassline, and my personal favourite, Heavyweight Champion of the World, which got the crowd going and the floor shaking. Reverend and the Makers are a force to be reckoned with, so it’s no wonder they were headlining such a great festival.
Twelve hours later and the festival was over. Only the Camden Rocks after party was left, with The Virginmary’s hosting a special celebration, leaving the music festival extraverts to carry on and do what they do best. Camden Crawl exceeded my expectations and it’s fair to say that Camden is the perfect place for live music due to the diversity and eccentricity of the people. Bands of all genres, who are going through different stages of their career, were given a chance to be experimental without being judged or booed. Crowds at the event adapted to the different bands and immersed themselves in the music, resulting in a brilliant atmosphere which kick-started the long summer of festivals ahead.
Live Music Review: Kasabian at London’s 02 Brixton Academy
Last night saw Kasabian play the first show of a five-night residency at London’s iconic O2 Academy Brixton.
As we entered the Academy there was a clock counting down to the arrival of the Leicester band. The room filled with excitement as the clock hit zero, the audience fell silent and the venue dropped into darkness.
Before the band had even hit the stage, Bumblebee had begun, kick-starting the gig and sending the audience into a frenzy. Shoot the Runner, Underdog and Where Did All the Love Go? followed shortly after, to the delight of the crowd.
The five-piece band relied heavily on tracks from their recent album, 48:13, which is their fifth studio album. Tracks such as Clouds, Eez-eh and Stevie proved to be popular with fans, while Treat lived up to its title as the band played an extended version of the song.
At the gig’s halfway mark, the band toned down their set with Bow, Thick as Thieves and Goodbye Kiss, which allowed the singing audience to be heard over the music
There was a lot of love and appreciation for guitarist and main songwriter Serge Pizzorno who encouraged his chanting fans to go crazy by teasing them and stating ‘Tuesday was on the phone’.
There was a lot of hype surrounding Kasabian’s UK tour, with many music-lovers stating that they’re one of the best live bands in the country today. They certainly lived up to this praise, putting on a hit packed set that most bands would be jealous of.
Tracks like Switchblade Smiles, Fire and Empire caused a raucous atmosphere, with a mosh pit developing and items of clothing being thrown into the air. The band returned to the stage for an encore, which included Vlad the Impaler but sadly saw no appearance from comedian Noel Fielding, who featured in the band’s video and made a special guest appearance during their Glastonbury headline set.
The final track of the evening was momentous: a cover of Fatboy Slim’s 1998 hit Praise You. The song saw Tom Meighan sing without any backing music before going on to sing L.S.F.
For a set lasting nearly 2 hours, this was certainly a gig to remember. Kasabian really are a band at the top of their game, a band that any newcomer artists should aspire to be like.
Kasabian will be playing the rest of their Brixton Academy shows until Saturday, with their tour ending in Sheffield on December 13.
Live Music Review: Echosmith at The Barfly, Camden
Camden’s Barfly played host to LA band Echosmith last night, as they performed a sold-out gig to excited fans.
The venue was packed and the atmosphere was lively as the four-piece band took to the stage. Opening trackCome Together really got the crowd bouncing and singing along with its fast paced intro and catchy melodies. This song was made for radio airplay; it’s unsurprising then, that it’s already attracted 1.9 million views on YouTube, and counting.
Before playing the second track there was a quick introduction of the band members including front woman Sydney, Jamie on guitar, Noah on bass and 15-year-old drummer Graham. The Californian band have sold out numerous headline tours in the US – but this was their first time playing in the UK, with Sydney stating they were “happy” to be in London.
The next track to be performed was Talking Dreams, which is also the name of their debut album – which will be released in the UK on December 29. It didn’t take long for the audience to start clapping in time with the enchanting front woman. The band’s youthful enthusiasm was infectious, their charisma and passion permeating through the London venue.
Safest Place showcased Sydney’s vocals, which conjure noticeable comparisons to Paramore’s Hayley Williams. The song’s lyrics revealed the band’s poetic and imaginative side, while also displaying a level of maturity found in more established artists such as Joy Division, The Killers and The Smiths.
Track list highlights of the night included the acoustic Tell Her You Love Her, which slowed down the pace and provided a well-needed breather, while Cool Kids was the complete opposite, showing the band’s versatility and range.
Having already achieved mainstream success with Cool Kids in the US, the quartet are now making a name for themselves here in the UK. Being so young, Echosmith still have a long way to go before they develop a sound that’s totally their own, but they’re certainly an exciting band to keep on your musical radar.
Live Music Review: The Ting Tings at XOYO, London
The Ting Tings have returned to the live music scene – after a three-year break – with their gig at the refurbished nightclub, XOYO London.
Taking to the stage at 9.45PM, the band introduced their set with upbeat retro track, Wrong Club. Front woman Katie White performed a slow and acoustic opening, setting the mood for the audience before breaking out into a fast pace and hyping the music-lovers into a frenzy.
Following Wrong Club, the band went on to perform their latest single, Do It Again, taken from their new album, Supercritical, which was released on 27 October and has already received praise from fans and critics alike.
Despite the band’s current disco influenced sound, they relied heavily on music from their 2007 debut album, We Started Nothing, with tracks such as Great DJ, Fruit Machine and Shut Up and Let Me Go proving to be just as popular as they’ve ever been. The highlight of the night was the band playing an extended version of That’s Not My Name, which the audience sung along to at the top of their lungs.
White admitted that she was nervous because it was the ‘first night of the tour’ but she put on a great performance, showing that The Ting Tings are back on fine form. The band ended the gig with an encore, performing a cover version of Janet Jackson’s 1993 hit The Way Love Goes, and it was an unexpected but perfect end to the night.
Live Music Review:Kongos at Hoxton Square Bar
Playing at London’s Hoxton Square Bar on Thursday (23) night was South African band Kongos, who showed the sold-out audience exactly why they’ve become so popular over the last few months.
Kongos, who are made up of brothers Johnny, Jesse, Daniel and Dylan, had the mixed-age audience waiting in anticipation for their on-stage arrival. When they finally took to the stage at 9.30pm, there was no grand entrance, only a need to get on with the gig and start playing their music. This is usually the mark of a good band; they don’t need a fancy arrival to get a crowd on their feet.
The lively and upbeat Hey I Don’t Know opened the set and got the audience energized and in a sing-a-long mood, which lasted the duration. The loudness and intimacy of the gig was a treat for fans, with the band already having over 100,000 likes on Facebook.
Highlights of the gig included Sex on the Radio and the hugely popular Come With Me Now, with it’s punchy and raw sound.
Prior to the Hoxton gig, Kongos had played at London’s 02 Arena on the previous night, supporting US band One Republic. This surely marks a transition for Kongos in terms of playing to a huge crowd at a renowned venue, and if the success of their recent gigs is anything to go by, we can expect to see a lot more of the band in the near future.
For those who are yet to experience Kongos live, their debut album, Lunatic, is out now.