June 2016- What I’m Listening To

June- the month of new releases, reunions and festivals.

Let’s start with the rather unexpected comeback from The Strokes. At the end of May, Julian Casablancas (lead singer of The Strokes) debuted a new track, “Oblivius”, on his SiriusXM radio show. The new track came after an announcement that The Strokes would release an EP called the ‘Future Present Past EP’, on the 3rd June, which would be their first release since ‘Comedown Machine’, three years ago. The EP was released on the 3rd June and featured three tracks: ‘Oblivius’, ‘Drag Queen’ and ‘Threat of Joy’. They played the Governors Ball festival in New York City on the 3rd June. Their new material is edgy and effortlessly cool. It’s guitar laced classic indie rock and I love it. I can’t wait to hear more of what the band will release over the next few months.

June didn’t disappoint on the album release front either, with releases from artists and bands like Tom Odell, Spring King and Jake Bugg. Tom Odell’s stunning follow up album was the perfect reinvention of classic Odell. Whilst he still manages to get the piano in many of the songs, Odell is less dependant on the piano and ventures away from the keys throughout the album. “Wrong Crowd” is a bold move, but it works and he sounds great (“exquisite” even, if you ask my dad). The same can be said for Jake Bugg’s third album, “On My One”. “On My One” is an eclectic mix of old, country laced classics intertwined with many an upbeat anthem, a ballad or two and, surprisingly, a rap, which is perhaps best forgotten. It’s one of my favourite Jake Bugg albums and I can’t wait to see him on tour in November. Spring King, too, have released an album. “Tell Me If You Like To” was released on the 10th June. Its raucous, raw sound, with hints of Palma Violets, makes it an interesting, yet thrilling, listen.

Bastille are also back. The band released “Good Grief” on the 16th June and also announced that they are set to release an album, ‘Wild World’, on September 9th this year. The album follows their debut album,”Bad Blood”, which was released three years ago (in 2013), and will be followed up by a UK arena tour, where the band are set to play huge areas like The O2 in London, as well as a huge string of festival sets. “Good Grief” is infuriatingly catchy. It’s an incredible track which has been stuck in my head since its release. If the rest of the album is anything like this then we’re in for a treat!

As if this wasn’t enough, Jamie T has released a song, too. On the 29th June 2016 Jamie T unveiled latest single “Tinfoil Boy” from his  upcoming album, “Trick”, released on September 2nd. The album has a set of supporting concert dates, too, which sees Jamie T (whose real name is Jamie Treays) play three nights at the O2 Academy Brixton. “Tinfoil Boy” is quite vocal for T, but it has huge echoey lines and hooks reminiscent of earlier material. I can’t wait to hear what else he has to release.

Following a weird stint playing undercover comeback shows as a band billed as “a tribute to Two Door Cinema Club”, Two Door Cinema Club have debuted a new song called “Gameshow” (which was not played at any of the comeback shows) and another new song, and upcoming single, called “Are We Ready? (Wreck)”. The single is from their upcoming album ‘Gameshow’, released October 14th. “Are We Ready? (Wreck)” is a song I find very exciting. It’s upbeat and refreshing, with hints of classic Two Door Cinema Club. The sung “na na na na…” bit reminds me of Fall Out Boy’s “Centuries”, if you wanted a very distanced comparison, and I can imagine huge crowds singing back the lyrics (are we ready? Hold it steady).

On the first of June, The 1975, once again, hit us with a cryptic clues and a countdown. The band announced that they would play their biggest ever show in December this year, but, frustratingly, kept the location secret. Many speculated a date at London’s prestigious O2 Arena and they were spot on. The 1975 will play, to a sold out arena, The O2 Arena on the 16th December 2016. They promise to include “expanded visuals and a brand new set list including songs that have never been played live” and noted that their performance is “constantly evolving” and will “fuse art and technology to create a unique live experience”. I am beyond excited to see how this will play out. The band latterly released arena dates encasing this one in December, which includes another date at The O2 Arena. The 1975 also released the cinematically stunning video for “Somebody Else”. I’d love to delve into and explore the video further, but overall it’s a sympathetically shot video with brilliant and clever nods to past videos. It’s quickly cut, honest and clever. I like it.

In June, for my birthday (19th June), I saw Coldplay at Wembley Stadium. Coldplay are a live band who never get boring. It’s amazing how after constant touring they can still put on fascinating, encapsulating and almost perfect performances, which are never short of the odd, well handled hick up. The band genuinely seem to be having the time of their lives and looked genuinely grateful that people were still out and supporting their band. They managed to entertain a crowd which easily spanned three generations. They were incredible.

Obviously no June post would be complete without mentioning the formidable Glastonbury Festival. There’s nothing I love more than spending the weekend covered in mud with good people, good music and good tasting (yet probably not healthy) food. The festival was headlined by Muse, Adele and Coldplay, with the Sunday tea-time legends slot going to Jeff Lynne’s ELO (who have just released a one off date at Wembley Stadium on the 24th June 2017). Other acts across the weekend included Tom Odell, Wolf Alice, Madness and Jess Glynne. It was an incredible weekend and I could go on about it for ages. You can catch up on the blog posts here!

Other notable festivals from June 2016 included Shoreham’s Wildlife Festival, headlined by Disclosure and Rudimental, and The Isle of Wight festival, which both looked incredible.

This month’s playlist includes songs from artists I saw at Glastonbury, new releases from this month and some golden oldies. It also includes artists like Christine and the Queen, who I have been listening to a lot this month, as I’m baffled by her incredible talent. There’s also a bit of Viola Beach (having seen Coldplay’s emotional Glastonbury tribute) and Adele, of course.

 

 

 

 

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June 2016- What I’m Listening To

Glastonbury Festival 2016- Sunday 26th June 2016

This is the fourth and final Glastonbury Festival 2016 blog post! You can find the introduction here, Friday’s post here and Saturday’s highlights here. All of the sets mentioned across the blog posts are still available to (re)live on the BBC iPlayer for the next few weeks too.

The Sunday of this year’s Glastonbury Festival was headlined by firm favourites Coldplay, their fourth headline set at Worthy Farm. The legends slot went to none other than Jeff Lynne’s ELO and other notable acts across the day included Bear’s Den, Years & Years, Catfish and the Bottlemen and Beck.

Mystery Jets have been around years, so it’s unsurprising that they walked out on stage to an overflowing tent full of fans of all ages. They stated that one of the best shows they’ve ever played happened at Glastonbury festival and this came close to beating it. This show was in support of their latest album “Curve Of The Earth”, released this year. They played songs such as “Bombay Blue” and “Telomere” from it, but the firm fan favourites still remain as “Two Doors Down” and “Young Love”, both of which are from 2008’s “Twenty One”. Their set was brilliant and the band seemed to have just as much fun as the fans did!

This year’s Sunday tea time legends slot was filled by Jeff Lynne’s ELO. They’ve just done a UK arena tour and have recently announced, off of the back of Glastonbury, a huge one off show at London’s prestigious Wembley Stadium. The band played songs from their impressive back catalogue which spans over 40 years. The band played songs such as “Evil Woman”, “Don’t Bring Me Down” and “Livin’ Thing”, which the audience enjoyed. They played with an operatic back up singer, who sang at various points of the set. The highlight of the set, obviously, was the hugely popular and influential “Mr Blue Sky”. Whilst the set was mostly lost on me, just hearing ELO play “Mr Blue Sky” made my weekend. The song is one which was played frequently throughout my childhood and it’s a song I love so much. The sky, however, was far from blue as it drizzled throughout the set, but our rain ponchos were (which sort of made up for it, I suppose).

Years & Years are one of the most current and progressive bands on the scene. Their music, dance infused, was perfect for the for a dull and drizzly afternoon, which was brightened by Olly Alexander’s (lead singer) unapologetically bright rainbow coloured outfit and tassley jacket. They played songs from their brilliant first album “Communion”, which was released last year, including “Take Shelter”, “Eyes Wide Shut”, “King” and “Desire”. There was also a cover or ‘mash-up’ of Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” and Drake’s “Hotline Bling”. This set comes almost exactly a year after the first time they played Glastonbury, on the John Peel Stage. They’re gradually working their way up the festival line up. The band performed on the weekend of gay pride. Olly Alexander did an inspirational and clearly emotional speech about his sexuality and the problems and fears he faces with it. He opened with “I am gay, very gay” and suggested we all “shove a rainbow in fear’s face”.  The band walked off stage to rainbow confetti, having been joined by dancers for the final two songs.

The best time I’ve ever seen Catfish and the Bottlemen was at Glastonbury last year. I’ve seen them a few times since and never have they lived up to the time they played Glastonbury. This year they returned to Worthy Farm with a Brit Award (for Best British Breakthrough Artist) and a new UK number one album, for “The Ride”, which was released in May. The band seem to step up a notch when they play Glastonbury, as though they’re out to win fans (and their set did just that). The band cleverly curated the perfect setlist by infusing songs off of their stunning debut album, “The Balcony”, with songs from their latest album, “The Ride”.  They played songs, such as “Kathleen”, “Pacifier” and “Cocoon”, from their debut album and seamlessly intertwined them with songs like “Soundcheck”, “Anything” and, latest single, “7”. Like usual, they opened the set with “Homesick”, the first song off of “The Balcony”, and closed with “Tyrants”, the closing song from “The Balcony”.Van McCann (lead singer) is an incredible front man and expresses the true gratitude the band have for being able to play festivals like these. Catfish know how to effortlessly pull of a huge set like this and cement their right to play at the festival. I wouldn’t be surprised, given a few more years and albums, if they were soon able to headline festivals like this.

American singer-songwriter Beck played the tricky slot before Coldplay on the Pyramid Stage. Throughout the weekend we had questioned who he was and how capable he was of filling such a huge slot when none of us could name anything he’d done, but Beck is one of those artists who, when they begin to play, you seem to know every single song of. The set was mad, energetic and full of surprises. He played songs such as “Loser” (which, shamefully, I knew from Glee), “Sexx Laws” and “Dreams”. He even managed an encore of “Where It’s At/ One Foot In The Grave”. The set was something you had to see to believe. It was odd, but brilliant.

Coldplay headlined Glastonbury for the forth time this year. They play off the back of the release of their latest album, “A Head Full of Dreams”, and a sold out stadium tour, which featured four sold out shows at Wembley Stadium. The band brought their huge production to Worthy Farm, with over 100,000 ‘xylobands’ distributed throughout the day for the crowd. Despite the huge number of bands given out, I never managed to find one (which I’m still gutted about and, yes, it did dampen the set for me, as I didn’t feel as involved from a purely aesthetic view). The band played songs spanning their impressive seven album collection. It was a nostalgic set, especially as they played songs such as “Fix You”, “Yellow” and “A Sky Full Of Stars”, all of which were incredibly emotional. The band played many songs from “A Head Full Of Dreams”, too, including the title track to open (following a controversial Charlie Chaplin speech), “Hymn For The Weekend” and “Adventure Of A Lifetime”, where Chris Martin (lead singer) encouraged everyone to “get down” despite the mud and jump up together on the count of three. The band played “Everglow”, but had to restart as Martin’s piano was out of tune. They ended the song by playing a clip of Muhammad Ali, another highly emotional tribute.

At this point, I’d like to talk about something beyond incredible that Coldplay did. I had heard speculation of a Viola Beach tribute taking place during the set prior to the festival. I was unsure about this at first, thinking they were just “jumping on the band wagon” to look respectable. I was not, however, expecting them to do what they did. The band began talking about when they first played the festival on what is now know as the John Peel Stage and how they were thankful for the incredible new music which passes through the festival and that year every year. They went on to tell of how sad they were of hearing the deaths of the formidable up and coming band Viola Beach and how they were sad that they were never given the chance to do something like headline the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. The band then said they would like to let Viola Beach have the opportunity to headline Glastonbury and let a recording of their song “Boys That Sing” play on a huge LED screen at the centre of the stage. The band joined in to finish the song at the end. It was extremely moving and I did, admittedly, cry throughout. Viola Beach were an incredible talented band, who, no doubt, would’ve gone on to play at the festival countless times. What Coldplay did was incredibly special (they said they would usually have done a Bowie tribute at this point) and exemplified the type of attitude we need towards new music. I was amazed and moved by this.

The set was jam packed full of amazing surprises. The band played an extended five song encore. They usually take a request from those in the audience and this time was no different, however they took a request from Mr Glastonbury, Michael Eavis, himself. They asked him which band he would like to headline and he said “The Bee Gees”. Barry Gibb joined Coldplay on stage to play two songs, “To Love Somebody” and “Stayin’ Alive”. The whole crowd sing along to “Stayin’ Alive” was quite something and the atmosphere was second to none, which doesn’t necessarily come across through the recordings. They then played “A Sky Full Of Stars” to falling star confetti and, finally, “Up & Up”, with Martin’s children Apple and Moses singing backing vocals. Martin stopped just before the end and said he wanted to continue playing. Eavis joined him on stage to sing a wonderful cover of “My Way”. This was, again, quite emotional and fun. It was brilliant and embodied the family spirit of Glastonbury. I’m sure it would have been lost on many of those watching at home, but Michael Eavis is a key and foundational part of the festival, obviously, and this was nothing but special to see. His performance was slightly better than the time he sang “Happy Birthday” with Stevie Wonder. “Up&Up” was reprised before the end and that concluded a stunning set and overwhelmingly brilliant weekend.

Coldplay are a band who know how to play festival and big venues. I hope this is the fourth of many more Glastonbury headline sets as their production and songs are a firm favourite on the farm with the Eavis’ and audience alike. They had to battle with the brilliant Jake Bugg and Grimes on the other stages.

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Glastonbury Festival 2016- Sunday 26th June 2016