The Kooks- Best Of… So Far (Album Review)

The Kooks released a greatest hits record, Best Of… So Far, on the 19th May 2017, in support of their May 2017 greatest hits tour and Autumn/Winter UK arena tour. The album cements what makes the Brighton band and their infectious late 00’s indie-rock music so loveable, with a perfect blend of golden oldies spanning their impressive ten year career (including ‘Na√Įve’ and ‘She Moves in Her Own Way’), as well as brand new tracks, including the latest single ‘Be Who You Are’.

The albums with the band’s biggest hit ‘Naive’, which creates a buzz. The hits sound as good as ever, with iconic indie tracks such as ‘Shine On’, ‘She Moves in Her Own Way’ and ‘Ooh La’ making the album. The album is a nostalgic dive into the band’s back catalogue, which is pretty respectable as they’ve been around for over 10 years. The band are the soundtrack of many people’s teenage years or childhood, so it’s nice to have all the songs you’ve loved over the years in one place (and there are many).

The album also features brand new songs, including the huge, optimistic ‘Be Who You Are’ and ‘Broken Vow’, which is all about the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church. ‘Be Who You Are’ sounds similar to the band’s original material (which was the aim) and it’s unbelievably upbeat, catchy and optimistic. It also sounds pretty good live!

Overall, the album is an obvious choice for any fan of The Kooks or anyone who’s ever like ‘that song’ of theirs because I strongly believed you’d know loads of them and not know why. They’ve got some absolute bangers.

The Kooks- Best Of… So Far (Album Review)

The Kooks, Alexandra Palace (13/05/2017)

The Kooks played to a sold out crowd at London’s prestigious Alexandra Palace, on the 13th May 2017, on the final night of their sold out UK tour. The band were supported by Fickle Friends and Clean Cut Kid. The Kooks played a mix of new and old songs, as it was meant to be a greatest hits tour. They played a staggering 25 songs in total.

The band opened with ‘Eddie’s Gun’ from their first album, Inside In / Inside Out, which was released in 2006 (10 years ago!!) In total they sung 10 songs from their classic debut album, which were favourite amongst fans. The crowd went wild when songs like ‘She Moves in Her Own Way’ (which they joked was their “only hit”) and ‘Ooh La’ were played.

The band debuted two new songs from their greatest hits album, which came out in late May. They’ve been playing ‘Be Who You Are’ and ‘Broken Vow’ on this tour, both of which translated well live and didn’t distract too much from the band’s performance of hits (a good choice when they could quite easily have overwhelmed everyone with unknown new tracks and really artsy B-Sides).

They played handfuls of songs from all of their albums (with it being a greatest hits tour and that and 10 years since the release of their debut), including ‘Bad Habit’ and ‘Down’, from their 2014 album, Listen,¬†and ‘Always Where I Want To Be’ and ‘Sway’, from their 2008 album Konk. They also played ‘Pull Me In’, an initial EP B-Side that never saw the light as an album track. The band left the stage having played Junk of the Heart (Happy) (from their 2011 album of the same name)¬†to a buzzing sold-out Alexandra Palace audience, who all sang and danced along (and even started a few unexpected moshpits).

The band played a three song encore. They played ‘Around Town’, the huge ‘Shine On’ and the band’s biggest hit and undeniable mammoth indie anthem ‘Na√Įve’, which was the highlight of the night for me. The crowd went wild for this song and confetti rained from the sky over a sea of excited concert goers. The night was a triumphant success.

The band then went on to play across Europe with Blossoms and are set to tour with the DMAs across the UK on another greatest hits tour at the end of the year, which, I’m sure, will be just as much fun.

The Kooks, Alexandra Palace (13/05/2017)

BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend Hull Recommendations 2017

BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend marks the beginning of festival season for me and has been a significant event on the music industry calendar for years. Its star studded line-up features some of the hottest, hugest and perhaps even most exclusive artists and bands that the music industry has to offer, as well as a whole host of up and coming bands championed by BBC Introducing. Typically the artists found on the bill are those who get played on Radio 1, but, with an ever expanding audience and increasing interest in what would once have been hailed “niche” genres, the line up now crosses multiple genres and appeals to the masses, with grime becoming a big part of the two-day festival.

This year’s BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend is being held in Hull, at Hull’s Burton Constable Hall, on the 27th and 28th May 2017. The bank holiday weekend event is fully sold out now, with 50,000 tickets up for grabs across the two days, however Radio 1 have been running competitions to win the last few tickets. The event, as usual, will be streamed online, played live on BBC Radio 1 and the red button, and highlights will be shown on BBC 4 and on the BBC iPlayer. This year’s event is headlined by US pop sensation Katy Perry (who will also play Glastonbury Festival next month) on Saturday and BST headliners and alternative icons Kings of Leon. The festival is free ( apart from a very small booking fee)- yes, that’s right, FREE- and is currently Europe’s largest free festival, with some of the most successful artists in the world filling out the huge line-up. This is extraordinary in itself (especially when you look at the line up).

I was lucky enough to attend last year, on the Sunday, in Exeter and it truly is a world class festival. It was a gloriously hot weekend in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK I’ve ever had the privilege to visit. The sets are the perfect length of time- probably around half an hour per artist, with an hour for the headliner, meaning the bands really only play the hits (with is good when the line-up is so diverse)- and there’s backing dancers and confetti galore! It set me up for festival season perfectly. Not only is Radio One’s Big Weekend a FREE event (and last year I was lucky enough that I got to see some of my favourite artists perform, let alone Coldplay, who I went on to spend over ¬£70 trying to get tickets for at Wembley and saw again at Glastonbury), it also showcases some of the UK’s most wonderful places by bringing world class music to somewhere that doesn’t get much live music. It’s professionally curated and managed and is a brilliant family day out. You’d be a fool to miss it if you ever got the chance to attend.

This year’s line up is jam packed full of headliner worthy artists, spanning three stages- the Main Stage, the newly named ‘Where It Begins’ Stage and, of course, the famous BBC Introducing Stage (which even features some returning acts from the prestigious alumni). This year is set to be unmissable with artists from Biffy Clyro to Little Mix to Kasabian and Lorde all set to perform at the event over the weekend. I’m lucky enough to be attending on the Sunday again this year and I truly cannot wait.

Here are my weekend recommendations:

SATURDAY

Katy Perry (Main Stage headliner)– Pop-princess Katy Perry brings her bubblegum pop hit fuelled back catalogue to Hull for what promises to be an unforgettable headline set.

Biffy Clyro (Main Stage)– Scotland’s undeniable rock God’s are returning to Big Weekend, having headlined the In New Music We Trust Stage last year, in Exeter. Their set is obviously going to be brilliant, if their co-headline slot at Reading Festival last year is anything to go by. The band will surely play all the hits- from “Mountains” to “Bubbles” to the anthemic classic that is “Many of Horror”- as well as a whole host of songs from their latest album, Ellipsis.

Imagine Dragons (Main Stage)– If you haven’t seen an Imagine Dragons live set you’re missing out. The atmosphere- especially at an outdoor event- is not comparable to anything. The atmospheric drumming live in their hit single ‘Radioactive’ is phenomenal and never fails to excite a crowd. Their live sets are encapsulating and engaging.

Kasabian (Main Stage)– Reading Festival 2017 headliners are set to perform the Hull event amongst a whole host of equally as huge artists. Kasabian’s expansive back catalogue- spanning over 10 years- is sure to provide the weekend’s biggest sing-a-longs, not to mention their brilliant later releases, such as ‘I’m in Love With a Psycho’.

Lorde (Main Stage)– New Zealand’s finest talent Lorde is back and better than ever. The ‘Royals’ singer has released her first new music since 2013’s stunning Pure Heroine. Lorde has matured over the last few years and her songs are more sophisticated and catchy than ever. She’s set to steal the show at Big Weekend, especially after seeing¬†her own Coachella earlier this year.

Zara Larsson (Main Stage)– She’s been part¬†of the last year’s biggest and best collaborations, from ‘Symphony’ with Clean Bandit to ‘Girls Like’ with Tinie Tempah and even had one of the biggest songs of last summer with ‘Lush Life’. She’s one of pop’s most exciting up and coming artists.

Haim (Where it Begins)– Haim are well and truly back- having cancelled a load of festival performances last summer in order to finish their new record. The band have recently released the new single ‘Want You Back’, as a follow up from 2013’s Days Are Gone.

Lana Del Rey (Where it Begins)– Lana Del Rey isn’t as common a UK festival find as many of the artists on this list. This rare appearance is set to be something special, as the ‘Video Games’¬†singer gets ready to release her latest album, Lust For Life, which is due out in July.

Rag ‘N’ Bone Man (Where it Begins)– I’ve been saying it for the last year now, but if you haven’t seen Rag ‘N’ Bone Man you’re most definitely missing out. The 2017 Brits British Breakthrough Artist award winner (which was voted by BBC Radio 1 listeners) has a phenomenal, almost gospel voice that can draw crowds of thousands in. I expect Rag ‘N’ Bone Man will pull out all the hits of his debut album, Human, including the title track, which is sure to be a memorable sing-a-long moment.

The Amazons (Where it Begins)– The Amazons release their self-titled debut album the day before they conquer the Where it Begins stage (26/05/17). The Amazons are a band who have been supported by the BBC since the beginning and also made it onto my bands to keep an eye on in 2017 list.

Two Door Cinema Club (Where it Begins)– Two Door Cinema Club sing all the songs. Their sets are full of songs that you undoubtedly know, but don’t know how or why (and they’re bloody brilliant live). Their set promises to be huge, with songs from their impressive back catalogue of indie classics. You’d be daft to miss them play on a stage as small and exclusive as the Where it Begins stage; they could quite easily be headlining!

You Me At Six (Where it Begins)– Ahhh, You Me At Six. I listened to a lot of You Me At Six when I was in my early teens and it was a brilliant time of my life. The band knows how to push and play with the genre of pop-punk to create massive pop-rock records that are infectiously catchy and brilliant. They’ve just released their fifth record- Night People– which is full of bangers.

Declan McKenna (BBC Introducing)– Declan McKenna is returning to the BBC Introducing stage for a one-off return treat. He’s set to dazzle the audience with songs such as ‘Brazil’ and ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’ ahead of his debut album release, What Do You Think About The Car?, which is due out in July. This could be your last chance to catch the indie-rock king that is Declan McKenna before he becomes huge and continues to play increasingly large stages over the festival season.

Superfood (BBC Introducing)– Superfooood. They’ve been around for a while and have put out some brilliant records over the last few years, but it’s finally becoming real for the band. They’ve signed to Dirty Hit Records- who are the record label of Wolf Alice, The 1975 and The Japanese House- and are starting to release new music and, with the help of BBC Introducing, they’re set to make a comeback to remember. Superfood could easily play the bigger stages, so seeing them play the BBC Introducing stage is a treat.

SUNDAY

Kings of Leon (Main Stage)– ¬†Kings of Leon headline the Main Stage on the Sunday of the festival. The band will play hits from their 14 year+ career, hopefully including the likes of ‘Sex on Fire’ and ‘Use Somebody’, as well as songs from their hugely successful latest album Walls, which was released last year. It promises to be big.

Bastille (Main Stage)– ¬†Bastille played the festival last year and they were one of the acts people talked about for ages. Their first album- Bad Blood– is full of memorable, sing-a-long classics and it’ll be great to hear some of their 2016 latest album- Wild World– at the festival. Bastille have been touring a world tour, which saw them play nights at the O2 Arena.

Clean Bandit (Main Stage)– Clean Bandit could wheel out the special guests, due to their many collaborations with huge artists, which could potentially be exciting. I always end up in weird places watching Clean Bandit and I don’t know how or why but they’ve always been a treat. They’re brilliant live.

Little Mix (Main Stage)– Little Mix are opening the Main Stage on the Sunday. They’re set to bring a healthy helping of guilty pleasure, girl-band hits to the party to get it underway. The band- undeniably- have some absolute bangers and I’m fully expecting fellow Sunday performer Stormzy to join the band for their latest single, ‘Power’. Watch this space!

Shawn Mendes (Main Stage)– Shawn Mendes is another guilty pleasure, gloriously unapologetic pop act. He’s on a UK tour and this set in Hull is set to impress the pop hungry crowd. It’s hard to forget the catchy choruses and hooks of songs like Stitches and Mercy.

Stormzy (Main Stage)– Stormzy played the event last year and was undoubtebly one of the most talked about acts of the event, along with fellow grime artist Skepta. As grime continues to make waves in the music world, it’s especially significant that artists like Stormzy are getting the chance to dazzle such mainstream audiences on hugely accessible platforms. He will no doubt be talked about a lot this year again.

The Chainsmokers (Main Stage)- They’ve come along way since the “lemme take a selfie” days back in the Flappy Bird days of early 2014 (a time best forgotten). They’re responsible for some of the biggest collaborations of the last year, including ‘Something Just Like This’ with last year’s headliner Coldplay, which was debuted at the Brit Awards this year.

Royal Blood (Where it Begins headliner)– ¬†Royal Blood are back with the first new music since their phenomenal self-titled album was released in 2014. Again, their music is probably something you’d recognise, even if you didn’t know they sung it. The Brighton duo are already huge and this set is set to be very special and I, for one, can’t wait.

Alt J (Where it Begins)– Alt-J’s incredibly atmospheric, ambient music is coming for Hull on Sunday afternoon. It’ll be great to finally hear songs such as ‘3WW’ and ‘Cold Blood’ played live, nestled between the songs that made they the band they are today. Here’s praying for Ellie Rowsell from Wolf Alice to join them for 3WW.

Christine and the Queens (Where it Begins)– I’m told she’s unmissable. 2016’s Chaleur Humaine¬†was one of 2016’s big albums and her dancing is something to behold. The French performer’s incredible stage presence and brilliant songs are set to make this set something to remember.

Twin Atlantic (Where it Begins)– Twin Atlantic are undoubtedly one of the greatest bands that I’ve ever seen live (and the most down to earth, lovely band that I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet). The Scottish band are Sunday’s answer to the magnificent Biffy Clryo and they’re set to tear the Where it Begins stage up with huge rock riffs and loud lyrics. They’re something else live. It’ll be great hearing songs from their latest album, GLA, live, finally.

Circa Waves (Where it Begins)– Circa Waves are another great indie-rock band. Their sun-kissed sounding, glorious first album,¬†Young Chasers,¬†could soundtrack the perfect sunny Sunday, whilst their brilliant latest album- Different Creatures– brings a slightly heavier vibe. Here’s hoping for ‘T-Shirt Weather’.

Blossoms (Where it Begins)– No festival would be complete without Stockport’s finest export Blossoms. Blossoms bring their continuing tour to Hull to play songs from their debut album, Blossoms, as well as songs from its extended edition, which was released late last year. The band played a triumphant set as a returning guest on the BBC Introducing stage last year, which was brilliant, so this is set to be a treat.

Pale Waves (BBC Introducing)– ¬†Pale Waves are label mates with the likes of Wolf Alice and The 1975. Their new music is The 1975 produced, too. What more could ¬†you want? They’re about to hit the big time, so catch them playing intimate stages whilst you can!

The Big Moon (BBC Introducing)– The Big Moon return to the BBC Introducing Stage after the release of their debut album, Love in the 4th Dimension, which was released earlier this year. The band have been championed by Huw Stephens for years.

Of course, there’s so many other huge artists playing across the weekend who I haven’t named here- including Anne-Marie and Mura Masa- but these are my picks. You can check out the whole line up on the BBC Radio 1 website (https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/eppp6q) and it’s useful for more information if you’re going. You can keep up with the event via their Facebook page or via Twitter (@BBCR1). Below I have linked their own playlist of artists playing across the weekend for you to get hyped about, or pretend you’re there to, if you’re not going.

If you’re going I hope you have a great weekend and have a brilliant time. Let’s hope the summery weather holds like last year!

 

 

 

 

 

BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend Hull Recommendations 2017

April 2017- What I’m Listening To

April was full of music surprises all set for summer.

George Ezra’s been popping up on festival annoucements ever since they’ve started releasing them late last year and he’s finally announced a UK tour, but shhhh it’s a secret. The nine night tour, which spans across late May and early June, visits some of the UK’s most obscure, intimate venues, with dates in places¬†such as Exeter, Barnstaple and Bath. The tour’s fully sold out now, but I’m sure it’ll be brilliant.

The Kooks played two very intimate shows in Brighton on the 8th April 2017, ahead of their sold out UK “best of” tour (in support of their upcoming greatest hits album). The band played two sold out shows: a matinee show at The Prince Albert (under 14s) at 1pm and a later show at The Haunt at 7:30pm. Tickets were made exclusively available from Resident Records, in Brighton, on the morning of the concerts, for ¬£11. Brighton is deemed the home for the Kooks, with the band forming there over ten years ago. Three of the four members attended BIMM Brighton. The shows were huge and a great way to start a month of touring across the UK and Europe.

America’s prestigious Coachella Festival took place from the 14th to the 16th April 2017 and a week later from the 21st to the 23rd April 2017. It was headlined by Radiohead (who struggled to overcome technical issues during their set), Lady Gaga (who replaced pregnant Beyonce, who has been confirmed for next year) and Kendrick Lamar. Artists, such as Lorde, Bon Iver and The XX, played to huge crowds across the weekend. I managed to catch some of Blossoms’ set via the Coachella live stream YouTube page, on weekend one. Their set was impressively brilliant from the Stockport lads, who dazzled a transatlantic audience. It’s strange to see Blossoms play to smaller audiences, having seen them sell out UK tours and play to big festival audiences, but it’s brilliant to see a band as good as Blossoms getting global recognition.

The news we’ve all been waiting for is finally here… Declan McKenna is set to release his debut album- called What Do You Think About The Car? –¬†which is set for release on the 21st July. The album is set to feature some of McKenna’s finest songs so far, including 2014’s ‘Brazil’, latest single ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’ and ‘Isombard’, as well as some brand new tracks. This could potentially be one of the year’s biggest records and I can’t wait to hear it. McKenna sets off on another UK tour in May, before playing a whole host of festivals.

Royal Blood have released details of their second album, How Did We Get So Dark?, which is due out on the 16th June 2017. The Brighton duo also premiered lead single ‘Lights Out’ this month.

Paramore have finally released details of their fifth album, After Laughter, which is set for release on the 12th May. The band announced lead single ‘Hard Times’ (which is heavily 80s influenced and a bold new direction for the band, which feels like a more mature, developed version of parts of 2013’s Paramore), closely followed by the release of another new song, ‘Told You So’, as well as details of a (now sold-out) June 2017 UK tour-¬†Tour One-¬†with the album details. The band’s new line up consists of Hayley Williams, Taylor York and rejoined member Zac Farro, having lost bassist Jeremy Davis in December 2015. I can’t wait for this release. Paramore are still one of my favourite bands ever and I love how their style constantly evolves into something more sophisticated than the albums that come before it.

The Sherlocks, too, are finally set to release their debut album, ¬†Live For The Moment, on the 18th August 2017. The Sherlocks are a band who I’ve been following for the last couple of years now, so this new has been a long time coming. The Manchester band featured on my list of bands to look out for in 2016¬†and I think it’s finally their time to shine.

Haim are back with the brilliant new song ‘Want You Back’. It’s chilled out and feels very summery and I think it’ll be a staple of festival season 2017. It’s nice to have the Haim sisters back again finally; it’s been a while!

The prestigious Ivor Novello Award nominations were announced in April. It’s an award ceremony which focuses on songwriting and has seen nominations for artists and writers including Blaine Harrison and Henry Harrison (Mystery Jets- ‘Telomere’), Adele Adkins and Tobias Jesso Jr (Adele- ‘When We Were Young’) and Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion and Chris Martin (Coldplay- ‘Hymn For The Weekend’ and ‘Adventure of a Life

Reading Festival released a mammoth line up update early this month. Artists such as Liam Gallagher, VANT, Blaenavon and Declan McKenna being added to the already brilliant line up. The festival is shaping up nicely and I can’t wait to be back at the Festival in August. The event is being headlined by Kasabian, Eminem and Muse and runs from the 25th-27th August 2017, which is, as always, bank holiday weekend.

Glastonbury continued to make line up announcements throughout April. Arguably most notably, the festival has announced the Field of Avalon Stage line up, with artists such as Busted, Birdy and Scouting For Girls being added to the already star studded bill. As well as this, Josh Barry won this year’s Emerging Talent Competition and will also perform at the festival. He beat a whole host of brilliant up and coming, unsigned artists, including Lucas & King, Silences and Young Yizzy. Previous winners of the competition include the incredible Declan McKenna. The event, which runs from the 22nd to 26th June, is headlined by Radiohead, the Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran.

Latitude Festival made another huge announcement this month. The bumper announcement includes artists including Mystery Jets, The Coral, Leon Bridges and Jesus Mary Chain.¬†Katherine Jenkins is also set to perform a special lakeside performance on the Sunday and it’s set to be magical. The festival is held between the 13th and 16th of July, in Suffolk, and is headlined by The 1975, Mumford and Sons and Fleet Foxes, .

In other festival news, Radio 1’s Big Weekend- which is due to be held in Hull on Saturday 27th May and Sunday 28th May-¬†has released its full two day line up. The event is being headlined by Katy Perry and Kings of Leon, with Plan B and Royal Blood set to headline the ‘Where it Begins’ Stage respectively. Artists including Biffy Clyro, Kasabian, Blossoms, The Amazons, You Me At Six, Lorde, Two Door Cinema Club and Alt-J have also been announced to play the event.

Record Store Day 2017 was held on the 22nd April internationally. The annual event saw thousands of music fans scramble for limited edition records by the likes of Bastille, David Bowie and Blossoms. However, as frequently seen in the music industry, limited edition records- once sold out in stores- were appearing across the internet for a grossly heightened price. The day was overall a triumphant success though.

In other news, The 1975 are set to release their third album entitled¬†Music For Cars¬†at some point in 2018. That’s something to look forward to.

This month I have been listening to a lot of Alt-J (because I have been doing a lot of A-Level coursework and Alt-J is perfectly ambient, especially good for revising), Tom Grennan (who is definitely someone to look out for because he’s brilliant), Paramore, Rat Boy (‘Revolution’ is their best yet) and I’ve been rediscovering Wolf Alice and Gorillaz. Pale Waves and The Night Caf√© are two to keep an eye on too.

Next month is a month full of releases, from Paramore to The Amazons. I’m also off to see The Kooks and to Radio 1’s Big Weekend, in Hull. It should be great.

 

 

 

April 2017- What I’m Listening To

Paramore- After Laughter (Album Review)

Paramore (finally) released their 5th studio album, After Laughter, on the 12th May 2017, via Fueled By Ramen. The band announced the¬†record release details last month, alongside a string of UK/European June/July tour dates (later releasing ‘Tour One’ dates in the States, as well as a handful of forthcoming summer festival announcements), as well as their comeback single, ‘Hard Times’. The band went on to release ‘Told You So’ before the record came out. The album was produced by Justin Meldal-Johnsen and the band’s guitarist, Taylor York.

After Laughter is the follow up to 2013’s phenomenal self-titled record. Paramore¬†seemed to be the band’s comeback record, having been knocked back by the uncertainty of losing the Farro brothers in 2010. It was- and still confidently remains- a stunningly eclectic record filled with more styles of music than you can imagine. It had everything from huuuuge bubble-gum pop hits, glorious ukulele interludes, gospel choirs and¬†heartbreak songs that were tender enough to destroy the toughest of hearts. It felt ballsy and empowering. No, it wasn’t anything remotely like All We Know is Falling¬†and, no, we didn’t see the second coming of 2007’s pop-punk anthem ‘Misery Business’, but what we got was something more mature, something that shouldn’t have worked but miraculously did. It wasn’t the record people had been waiting for- it was better. It got a UK number 1 album and won a ‘Best Rock Song’ Grammy (for ‘Ain’t it Fun’.) The band went on to re-release the album in its extended deluxe form, in 2014. The album felt as if Paramore were where they’d longed to be for years. It was optimistic and the outcome was bigger than anyone could’ve expected. It felt like a “we are Paramore” statement.

Everything was going so well. The band were the biggest they’d ever been. They’d toured the world, began stepping up to headliner position at huge, globally recognised festivals (co-headlining Reading and Leeds Festival in 2014 with Queens of the Stone Age is a personal highlight), they’d won a Grammy and were about to embark on their second sold-out¬†Parahoy!¬†trip when in 2017 bassist Jeremy Davis announced his departure from the band. This news shook the fan base and was something no one had seen coming.

A fifth album wasn’t looking likely, yet the band- tangled in a tricky law suit with their departed bassist- decided to continue, as two. They’d signed up ex-drummer, Zac Farro, to play on the album before officially asking him to join the band again, which he accepted, and from it we have After Laughter.

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After Laughter opens with lead single ‘Hard Times’, which draws on the trials and tribulations of the last few years. It’s an obvious comeback single, with fans knowing what has happened since the self-titled release. It’s 80s influenced, synthy and pop-fuelled. More importantly, it’s entirely optimistic in tune, yet alarmingly deep and sad in lyric (a sentiment which runs throughout the record).

Then it leads into ‘Rose-Coloured Boy’, a song which has echoes of ‘Fast in My Car’. You can’t help but want to dance to the infectiously groovy upbeat 80s melody, despite the sombre lyrics.

‘Told You So’ is another brilliant track, exemplified by Williams’s (lead singer) stunning vocal. The vocals, of course, still ring true of the albums they’ve released prior to After Laughter.

‘Forgiveness’ feels honest and authentic. It’s something the band have had to do a lot over the years, especially over the last few. It’s slower and showcases Williams’s mature vocals.

‘Fake Happy’ starts off slow and acoustic, before kicking back into the electronic keyboard lead, melodic- funky even- 80s vibe. It has a chorus you can imagine arenas singing back. This is similar with the bubble-gum, cheery ‘Pool’ and ‘Grudges’ (along with its catchy bridge).

’26’ is the most stunning acoustic track. It doesn’t feel like ‘the obligatory slow song’, it feels introspective, whilst feeling hopeful and somewhat optimistic, as if Williams is directly guiding us (in a ‘Hate to See Your Heartbreak’ sort of way).

‘Caught in the Middle’ is a brilliant alt-pop song. It’s chorus is undeniably- albeit rather infuriatingly- catchy, whilst still feeling deeply sombre¬†in lyric. The bridge is also a sight¬†to behold, again, with lyrics you can imagine large crowds singing- ” I don’t need no help. I can sabotage me by myself. Don’t need no one else. I can sabotage me by myself.”

Then there’s ‘Idle Worship’, which feels similar to songs like ‘Anklebiters’. It’s significant within the album. It feels strong and ballsy, as if to get a point across. It feels honest. ‘Idle Worship’ is about the fabricated relationship between fan and singer. It outlines how Williams feels as though she shouldn’t be idolised and hailed as a hero, something which is a main sentiment in ‘No Friend’- the only Paramore track not to feature Hayley Williams as the main singer.

‘Idle Worship’ seamlessly flows into ‘No Friend’, as if its three-and-a-half minute spoken word is an outro to the previous song. The song is performed by Aaron Weiss, from mewithoutYou, and has a spoken word introduction verse before turning poetic and overlaid by drums and guitar. When you listen closely you can hear the echoes of ‘Idle Worship’- “I’d hate to let you down, so I’ll let the waters rise and drown my dull reflection in the na√Įve expectation in your eye” and “You see a flood-lit form. I see a shirt design. I’m no savior of yours and you’re no friend of mine” – as well as plenty of references to Paramore’s expansive back catalogue- “we’ll do our riot! dance”, “burning their houses down” (Let The Flames Begin), “Another black top town” (Franklin), “God knows no one needs more misguided ghosts” (Looking up and Misguided Ghosts), “that’s what I get when I let ambition win again” (That’s What You Get)- and even a reference to their band name- “another misspelled band” (Paramore derives from the French word, ‘Paramour’, which means secret lover).

The album ends with the slow paced ‘Tell Me How’, which is piano lead. The song is about Williams losing friends- including previous band members- over time, yet it ends optimistically (“I can still believe”). It’s one of my favourite songs on the album.

Overall the album is brilliant. It seems clear and defined in its genre, yet totally different to anything else the band have ever put out. There’s not the variety of Paramore, but whether or not that’s a bad thing I don’t know, however only time will tell if the album can have the sort of legacy the others have had- namely the self-titled. Each album has a unique selling point about it and this one’s is definitely its cool 80s feel.¬†Each of their albums feels more mature and this one seems the most mature yet.

I think fans seem to trust Paramore more now after the self-titled album, in which they covered a multitude of genres and still managed to pull it off. Yes, they’ve lost fans (mainly those who loved the pop-punk fuelled earlier albums, such as All We Know is Falling and Riot!) along the way, but they’ve gained many along the way in reaching a more mainstream audience. They’re the benchmark for every female fronted alternative/pop-punk band ever, whether or not that’s a good or bad thing is up to you to decide for yourself.

Paramore- After Laughter (Album Review)

Blaenavon- That’s Your Lot (Album Review)

Blaenavon released their stunning debut album,¬†That’s Your Lot,¬†on the 7th April 2017, on Transgressive Records. It’s 59 minutes long and every second is a beauty.

Blaenavon’s debut album is one I’ve been looking forward to for months. The band seem to bring out such beautifully crafted songs, which are effortlessly easy to listen to. They’re a band you want to fall in and out of love with and their album is one that I wish I could listen to again for the first time in its entirety and savour every minute. It’s difficult to prise the best songs out because it works so well, so coherently together. The band also featured on my list of bands and artists to keep an eye on in 2017.

The album begins with the melodic ‘Take Care’. Its sentiment is significant and sets up the album perfectly as a bold, five minute long start. There’s no ‘filler’ intro song, which bands seem pretty into doing at the moment. Having said that, there’s no filler anywhere on the album. Everything feels intentional.

The album is laced with huge singles and previously released songs. In fact, what I loved most about the album was that I already knew and loved half of the songs on the record because they’d already released them prior to the record’s actual release (like a greatest hits of what they’ve done before- yet there’s no ‘Hell is in Your Head’, which makes me sad). ‘Let’s Pray’ followed by ‘Orthodox Man’ followed by ‘My Bark is Your Bite’ is a pretty strong line up. ‘Let’s Pray’ is melancholically beautiful, whereas ‘Orthodox Man’ is undoubtably one of the strongest songs on the album and could easily be a classic indie anthem given time and popularity increase (seriously, if you do only listen to one song from the album then let it be this one because it’ll win you over and make you totally smitten and undeniably infatuated with the band). It’s gloriously upbeat, infectiously catchy¬†and, overall, just a stunningly written and composed piece of music.

‘Lonely Side’ is another strong contender for the greatest song on the album though. It’s feels really ‘cool’, if you will, and has this chilled out indie rock vibe.

It’s followed by the short, piano accompanied ‘Let Me See What Happens Next’. The song is sung and played by Ben Gregory (lead singer) and you can hear how great Gregory’s vocals really are. It breaks the album up and leads us into the second half, which features plenty of deep cut tracks and longer songs.

‘Alice Come Home’, ‘I Will Be The World’ and ‘Prague ’99’ all feature incredible instrumentals and really show just how polished the album really is. They’re all strong songs, but work perfectly well supported by one another. ¬†The band show off their incredible talent in a way which is effortless to listen to. ‘Swans’ is the longest song on the album and stands at a mighty 8 minutes long. It’s unapologetically deep cut and fits perfectly into the latter half of album.

‘That’s Your Lot’ is the final song on the record (I’d assume because that really is your lot). The lyrics are hauntingly poignant, which is something the band do very well. It’s triumphant and ends in a euphony of guitar and drum, before Gregory declares “that’s your lot” and is really is, sadly.

It feels like Blaenavon have really given their all to this album. There’s no ‘token’ song. Each song is beautifully crafted and deservingly necessary. You can’t really choose a highlight because every song is intentional and has a significance within the album and every song is brilliant in its own way. You’d be a fool not to check them out. They’re one of the greatest (relatively) undiscovered indie gems and I’m sure they’re onto something good.

Blaenavon- That’s Your Lot (Album Review)

Blossoms, Brighton Dome (23/03/2017)

Blossoms played the Brighton Dome on the 23rd March 2017, as part of the 2017 NME Awards Tour, supported by Stockport’s Rory Wynne and the (in)famously outspoken Cabbage. The band played a brilliant set featuring songs off of their self-titled debut album and rereleased extended edition.

The band walked on stage- all dressed in white shirts- to a roar of applause. Blossoms don’t disappoint, as they continually prove by playing to huge audiences both nationally and internationally. The band opened with ‘At Most a Kiss’, from their debut album Blossoms, which was released last summer. This was a good opener because the audience knew it. The audience particularly enjoyed hearing songs from their debut album and sang along word for word, whilst dancing (with the odd mosh-pit… No, I’m not sure how you mosh to Blossoms). The atmosphere was buzzing. They played most of the songs from their debut album- including the single ‘Honey Sweet’, ‘Get Away’ and ‘Blown Rose’- as well as some b-sides.

Of course, no Blossoms performance would be complete without “slowing it down” for the acoustic ‘My Favourite Room’, whereby Tom Ogden (lead single) asks if anyone has¬†“been dumped” recently and dedicates the song to them. The first time I saw them do this was at Reading Festival and I can’t listen to the song without imagining “me, Martha and Jamie in my favourite room” (not me, but Ogden), then again at the O2 Kentish Town Forum, with yet another estranged couple. You’d have thought the novelty would’ve worn off by now and yet I find myself eagerly awaiting Ogden’s search for his next heartbroken teen. Then you have the ending of the song, which, again, I find myself waiting for. ‘My Favourite Room’ leads seamlessly into Babybird’s ‘You’re Gorgeous’, then into Oasis’s ‘Half the World Away’ and- weirdly- Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’, which the audience loved.

Late last year Blossoms (“from Stockport”) re-released their debut album with a sparkly, gold “extended edition” featuring all the b-sides from their previous EPs, hence why they’ve gone on tour again. The band played a handful of these tracks- including ‘Across the Moore’, ‘Polka Dot Bones’ and ‘Madeleine’. This proved a treat for those who had been following them from the beginning, which seems like a long time ago now. It’s exciting getting to hear these songs played again as the band’s sets get longer.

“ABBA won the Eurovision song contest in this very building” Ogden said when the band came on to perform a short encore. The band ended with ¬†‘Deep Grass’ and then ‘Charlemagne’. A man kept asking me whether or not they’d played ‘Charlemagne’ yet, it’s become their ‘big’ song. There’s something undeniably catchy and anthemic, especially live. I love the added “Joe looks like Jon Snow” bits that you only get when you hear it live.

I’ve been lucky enough to see Blossoms multiple times over the last year (and lucky enough to see them grow and become more popular) and they’ve never disappointed. Yes, the setlist has been more or less the same (give or take the odd b-side) each time I’ve seen them, no, that’s not a bad thing. The band continue to gain popularity and each time they play they play to bigger sold-out audiences of loyal and new fans. Their production gets bigger everytime, too. More lights. They continue to give class, memorable performances and they clearly now how to put on a good show. They’re dedicated, hard working and clearly love what they’re doing.

The band play Coachella in April (and tour the states) and they’re set to play a whole host of UK festivals this year, including Reading and Leeds and Glastonbury Festival.

 

Blossoms, Brighton Dome (23/03/2017)