Paramore, The O2 Arena, 12/01/2018

On the 12th January 2018 Paramore played the O2 Arena, in London, as part of their Tour Three UK tour. The band were supported by long term friends MeWithoutYou.

The band last played The O2 in 2010 and have since shifted in sound and faces. They’ve won Grammy’s, lost members and put out two CDs, but it’s taken 8 years for them to come back as self-confident and happy as they did this time. Tour Three came off of the back of their fully sold-out Summer 2017 shows, which saw the band conquer an incredible, yet intimate sold out night at The Royal Albert Hall, in London. The band have definitely filled into their new material. They brought their spectacular musical catalogue and staging to London, with optimism by the bucket load.

Paramore opened the night- met with a roar of applause from the packed out crowd- with the gloriously up-beat, pop hit, ‘Hard Times’, which was the band’s comeback single last year. They intertwined it with a snippet of Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’, a band which Paramore draw reference to quite often. This prepared the audience for the highlights from their latest album, which were sewn between reworked hits from their previous four albums.

The band don’t dwell on a lot of their old material, with tracks from their first couple of albums phasing out over the last few tours. Those left in were successfully reworked to mirror their change in line-up and increasingly positive and comfortable presence. ‘Hard Times’ flows seamlessly into Brand New Eyes’ ‘Ignorance’- sung into a megaphone- and the bubble-gum pop hit ‘Still Into You’, with ‘Grow Up’ also receiving a makeover as it was peppered with a snippet of SZA’s ’20 Something’. Having said that, tradition still remained as Hayley Williams invited a lucky seated fan to join her on stage for ‘Misery Business’, par for the course.

Of course,¬†After Laughter took centre stage. The band rattled through songs from the album, performing each with perfect precision. Williams let MeWithoutYou’s Adam Weiss take the reins for their track ‘No Friend’, whilst Taylor York, Zac Farro and co. had a chance to show off their incredible instrument playing. The band closed the show with their latest single ‘Rose Coloured Boy’, which saw the audience fully won over. Their encore also saw drummer Zac Farro play ‘French Class’, one of his band HalfNoise’s tracks, similar to what they did on the last tour. It worked really well and was very refreshing to hear.

What struck me most, as a fan who has been following them for nearly 8 years now, was how comfortable the band sounded. The band’s sound and stage presence finally felt relaxed and happy and, as a result, the fans seemed to respond to it more positively. It was the ultimate dance party and enough to keep any fan happy. They spend so much time as a band building their fan base to feel like a family and that was definitely reflected in the atmosphere on the night. As Hayley Williams said, between new and old tracks, “we’re not who we were when we were 15. We won’t judge you by how you were then, so we hope you don’t judge us”. I can’t wait to see what Paramore do next and I, for one, will follow it.

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Paramore, The O2 Arena, 12/01/2018

2017

Ahhh, 2017. I don’t quite know where to begin! In a world of Brexit talks and Trump’s tweets, music lead the way for unity. From the tragic terror attack at the Manchester Arena after the Ariana Grande concert in May, which sparked international unity and created the “One Love Manchester” movement, to the rise in musicians speaking out about ‘taboo’ subjects, it really has been a big year for artists and fans alike.¬†Ed Sheeran rewrote the chart rules (literally) and couldn’t be escaped and there were plenty of leading ladies who made their way firmly into the top spots this year too, with Dua Lipa becoming the first female British solo artist to top the charts with her single ‘New Rules’ since Adele in 2015. Oh, and there was a Glass Animals inspired pineapple ban at Reading and Leeds Festival.

Personally, I’ve had my ups and downs this year. Musically it’s been absolutely incredible though! I muddled my way through A-Level exams- with the help, exclusively, of Alt-J- passed my driving test and somehow ended up touring the UK for two months, in what was the most incredible and exciting experience of my life so far. I was incredibly lucky this year to see¬†167 different live music sets (through a mixture of festival sets, concerts, support acts etc), go to two weekend festivals, three day festivals and 12 concerts (excluding the many Happy Mondays gigs I saw and including four incredible Banquet Record shows).

Here are three of my biggest musical highlights:

1) I got to see Paramore play on my 18th Birthday. Paramore are my favourite band ever, and they have been for the last goodness knows how long. Somehow, after weeks of trying, I managed to get tickets to the sold out gig, whilst sat on the bus with a massive stomach ache (the things you remember, eh?). The day itself was absolutely incredible and the atmosphere was truly buzzing. They played a venue far smaller than they’re capable of, which made it feel really intimate, and the crowd sang along- loudly- word for word. It felt like the most triumphant welcome back for the band and made my birthday the best yet.

2) I had my mind sufficiently blown by Haim at Reading Festival. This year was my fourth Reading Festival and somehow I ended up winning VIP tickets. I’ve been going for years and have been lucky enough to see some of the most exciting live sets, but nothing else has been as awe-inspiring as Haim’s closing set on the NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage this year. The band played what felt like the quickest, most fun set ever, with dancing interludes, an abundance of crowd interaction and the most incredible drumming to close the set- not to mention Este’s bass face! It was the first time I’d seen the trio and it definitely won’t be my last.

3) By far the biggest highlight of the year was Lorde’s Glastonbury debut. In fact, in many ways it ruined my Glastonbury as everything else didn’t seem quite as good after that. In my eyes, she could’ve headlined. Lorde played the Other Stage on the one week “birthday” of Melodrama’s release. She opened by teasing the crowd with an orchestral version of ‘Green Light’, before playing a mixture of tracks from her both her albums.¬† The highlight of the set for me though was ‘The Louvre’, which she introduced by talking about “crushes” and the “rush” you get from them. She then sat on the side of the stage- to be closer to the fans- and sang ‘Liability’, which she told the audience was about “not feeling as though you’re good enough”. The set felt special. It was a real spectacle, with dancers in tilting glass boxes and huge graphics projected onto large screens, but one which didn’t feel too brash or gimmicky. It was absolutely breathtaking.

In other news, it was a year of politics too, with the line between artist and political stance becoming increasingly blurred. From snap elections to “youthquakes” to “OOOOHHH JEREMY COOOORBYNNN” being shouted at almost every music event this year, it’s been an exciting year of political unrest. This, along with other global events (Trump, climate change etc), has inspired a wave of new music, with the likes of VANT and Declan McKenna leading the way. It’s been exciting to follow. It would be crazy not to mention the thousands of people who flocked to see Jeremy Corbyn speak at Glastonbury Festival. It felt like some sort of revolution was stirring.

By far the most exciting thing I’ve done this year is tour for a couple of months with the Happy Mondays selling their merchandise. I got to meet and work with some of the most incredible, creative and inspiring people ever, which was absolutely crazy. It was a brilliant experience. As well as this, I got to see a lot of the country and visit a whole load of exciting venues, in cities such as Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow. I also got to see first hand how hard the security guards work in order to keep everyone safe and that, in itself, deserves some credit.

This year I listened to A LOT of Declan McKenna. I started the year off by listening- like every other person on Earth- to a tonne of Ed Sheeran. He was simultaneously the only person I wanted to listen to and the last person I wanted to listen to. It sounds dramatic, but no one could escape Sheeran’s grasp… I distinctly remember working one Saturday morning and listening to his latest album, Divide, on repeat for four and a half hours.¬†I also kick started the year with a bit of Sundara Karma and Blaenavon, both of which released triumphant debut albums this year. Lorde soundtracked my summer though, along with Anne-Marie, Little Mix, Clean Bandit, Haim, Glass Animals and Dua Lipa. In the Autumn I was obsessed by Wolf Alice, Blondie and Marika Hackman, whose album I’m¬†Not Your Man was one of the best released this year. Recently I’ve been loving Rex Orange County’s “Best Friend” and a whole load of other up and coming artists. I’m so excited to see what 2018 brings for them.

So, what’s to come? This blog is going to undertake a big makeover at some point. I’ve got SO much planned, which I’m really excited to share. I’m looking forward to seeing lots of up and coming artists release their debut albums, to going to many festivals and concerts and to seeing what the year brings in terms of comebacks.

Thank you for reading this blog. I know I’ve not been so good at blogging over the last couple of months, but I’m going to change that.

 

 

 

2017

Album of the Year 2017

2017  was a year which saw the release of many massive albums, many of which challenged and changed the way we view music. The year was dominated by huge chart topping albums by globally recognised artists, like Stormzy and Ed Sheeran, many of which opened up the listener to a more intimate, sensitive side of the artist, by tackling so-called ‘taboo’ topics, such as mental health. There was also the return of politically loaded records, which were birthed from the political and social upheaval of the last few years, and we saw a whole host of women take the reins in the album charts with hugely deserved hit albums. It’s no surprise this year’s top five albums were the hardest to choose yet.

Here’s my top five:

5) DUMB BLOOD– VANT

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was when I heard VANT’s debut album, DUMB BLOOD, for the first time all the way back in February. Pre-release the album already boasted a plethora of successful, punchy statement singles, including ‘FLY-BY ALIEN’, ‘PARKING LOT’ and ‘KARMA SEEKER’. The album- which was released on the hugely successful and influential major record label Parlophone– takes on current world events (such as war and climate change), the band’s shared frustrations about God and peace and, crucially, voices a ‘lost’ generation through a major platform. The album itself has an almost revolutionary punk feel, whilst remaining true to its indie-rock, guitar roots. It feels like a statement. Sadly, this will be the last album from the London based band, as they announced their indefinite hiatus later on in the year, but this is definitely one of the greatest things to have come out of 2017.

4) Visions of a Life– Wolf Alice

The second album is often said to be a tricky one, especially when your debut album gained you a Mercury Prize nomination and a Grammy nod, but Wolf Alice returned blas√© about any of that. The album’s raucous lead single, ‘Yuk Foo’, thoroughly cemented their return, with its shouted lyrics and self-assured sentiment. Wolf Alice finally seemed comfortable with their sound, and didn’t really care if you didn’t. They went onto release the far from cheesy love song ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’ and effortlessly cool ‘Beautifully Unconventional’ before the album’s full release, which exemplified their versatility. Their sound felt more sophisticated and polished than ever before, yet as experimental as ever. Songs like ‘Formidable Cool’, ‘Planet Hunter’ and ‘Space and Time’, which shows glimmer of a 1980s Blondie within it, are stand alone hits, which sit nicely within their already brilliant back catalogue too.

3) After Laughter– Paramore

I don’t think many people were expecting Paramore’s return so soon. The band had lost bassist Jeremy Davis, were caught in the midst of a fierce legal battle and lead singer Hayley Williams had been going through hard times of her own. But right from the heart of the flames, rose an After Laughter shaped Phoenix, which couldn’t have been any more triumphant. Ex-drummer Zac Farro rejoined the band and they managed to put together a bold 12 track album- produced by guitarist Taylor York and previous collaborator Justin Meldal-Johnsen. The lead single ‘Hard Times’ was a huge upbeat, 80s influenced, guilt free ‘pop’ song- a far cry from the days of Riot! and All We Know if Falling. So what though? The album is mostly upbeat, but outlines the struggles of the last few years, of love and loss, of mental health struggles and the strain of fame, with a melancholic undertone. It feels intimate and comfortable, as opposed to the experimental nature of 2013’s self-titled sensation, Paramore. Songs like ‘Caught in the Middle’, ‘Rose-Coloured Boy’ and ‘Fake Happy’ are songs you want to belt out in the car, in the shower, at huge sold-out concerts. Music can unite people and I think this album brought the band closer to the fans. Paramore have really regenerated themselves in a way which sees them bare all to the listener. It would’ve been very easy for Paramore to give up and yet from the turmoil came this gem of an album.

2) What Do You Think About The Car? -Declan McKenna

There aren’t many 18 year olds who can say they’ve put out a top 20 album, played some of the world’s biggest festivals and have already been recognised for their incredible success, but Declan McKenna has certainly achieved all those things. What Do You Think About The Car? is one of the year’s most thought provoking albums. It brings up questions of world politics and challenges ideas of society through McKenna’s cleverly written, witty lyrics. The debut album features previously released singles, including the FIFA 2014 World Cup corruption inspired ‘Brazil’, ‘Isombard’, where McKenna imagines the narrative of a right wing, ‘Fox News’ style character, and ‘Paracetamol’, which focuses on the representation of transgender people in the media, as well as exciting new tracks, such as ‘Why Do You Feel So Down?’ and ‘Listen to Your Friends’, which features a cleverly written bridge. He broaches subjects with a concise sensitivity, which questions the absurdity of the world we live in. It’s very refreshing to hear. The references are often subtle, so the songs can be enjoyed plainly as good, exciting indie-rock too. Declan Mckenna seems to be leading the way in up and coming music and I’m looking forward to seeing what else comes from his success.

1) Melodrama– Lorde

Each year there seems to be an album so clearly above any other album released that year, last year it was The 1975’s cinematic second album and this year it’s Lorde’s stunning Melodrama.

When Lorde released her debut album, Pure Heroine, she was 16 years old. She sang of love and lust, as well as the struggles of being a teenager who was ‘different’. She sang with a maturity which seemed far beyond her years, in a style that crossed genres and was championed by the likes of David Bowie. The album- and its hit single ‘Royals’- won the New Zealand born singer two Grammy’s, out of four nominations. So, where do you go from there?

Lorde returned early last year, off the back of her first major heartbreak, with the album’s lead single ‘Green Light’. The song went on to be one of the summer’s biggest releases, with its gloriously feel good, upbeat dance vibe and its infectiously catchy, in-part nonsensical- or rather metaphorical- lyrics. The song created a huge buzz for the new album.

The highly anticipated Melodrama was released on June 16th 2017 in the UK and I remember rushing out to buy it the next day. We played it for the first time in the car, whilst driving down country lanes on a hot and sunny summer afternoon, and I remember feeling as though the album was special. The album opens up with ‘Green Light’, but takes us on a creative vision and artistic journey into the minds of both Lorde and her collaborator/producer Jack Antonoff (who has also worked with Taylor Swift and Pink this year). It’s an album which demands to be heard in full. It commands the respect of vinyl, a format on which it is due to be released on early next year, whilst still allowing the listener to dip in to it for a quick fix. The lyrics seem more mature than that on Pure Heroine, as if she has had to grow up over the last few years, literally in age and through the experiences she has had. They centre on heartbreak and loss, as well as growing up on the whole. Notably, ‘The Louvre’ is the album’s obvious stand out. Lorde manages to encapsulate a feeling of intense infatuation, which many can relate to, through a doting love song. The lyrics “but we’re the greatest, they’ll hang us in The Louvre, down the back, but who cares still the Louvre” are, by far, the greatest of 2017. ‘Liability’ is also extremely poignant. It focuses on self-image and introspection, which is incredibly intimate in itself. Lorde seems to focus on how she feels the world around her sees her and how she herself fits into it, whilst laying out the flaws she finds within herself. She releases her self-worth, as the song is reprised later on in the album. We grow up with her. In addition, ‘Writer in the Dark’ has an incredible undertone of Kate Bush within it, whilst the use of samples in ‘Hard Feelings/Loveless’ seems to add another dimension to the album.

Melodrama is a masterpiece.

 

Here it seems obvious to mention- despite just falling short of my top five- Ed Sheeran’s third album Divide. Any album which can hoard the top 16 of the UK singles charts (yes, that’s every single song on the album, including the deluxe bonus tracks), go double platinum immediately and outsell any other album in its first week ever, outselling the combined next 500 most popular albums that week, deserves some credit. The album- and Sheeran himself- is extraordinarily clever. There’s a song on there for every type of music fan- from dance to rap to ballads to pure pop. You literally cannot escape ‘Shape of You’ and I guarantee you that once it’s played you’ll have its catchy chorus and hook lingering in your head for hours.

Other artists to narrowly miss out on the top five were Blaenavon’s debut That’s Your Lot, Sundara Karma’s Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect, Marika Hackman’s I’m Not Your Man, Stormzy’s Gang Signs and Prayer, Will Joseph Cook’s Sweet Dreamer, Superfood’s Bambino, Dua Lipa’s self titled debut, Dua Lipa, amongst others.

In 2018, I’m looking forward to album releases by Fickle Friends, The Vaccines, The Wombats, The 1975 (with Music For Cars), and Arctic Monkeys. I’m saying Arctic Monkeys will resurface between September and November… Unless they’re feeling friendly and want to headline a summer festival- then they’ll be back by May! Who know’s what’ll make it onto this list in the next year, but I do know that I’m excited about what’s to come.

Album of the Year 2017

Paramore, The Royal Albert Hall (19/06/2017)

Paramore played a sold out show at The Royal Albert Hall, in London, on the 19th June 2017, as part of the first leg of their global Tour One tour, in support of their latest album After Laughter, which was released in May. The band were supported by a band called Bleached.

Paramore played a set which felt intimate, despite the venue being filled. It felt like the band were playing comeback shows to a room full of friends. The band opened with ‘Told You So’, from their latest album,¬†whilst the expectant fans swarmed towards the stage ignoring the all-seating layout.¬†The crowd sang the band’s latest songs- including ‘Fake Happy’, ‘Rose Coloured Boy’ and ‘Caught in the Middle’- word for word, as if they had been setlist staples for years. The band seemed happy and comfortable- the happiest they’ve seemed in a long time- and the band seemed relaxed. It’s their first tour since Zac Farro rejoined the band and the stripped back, no fuss stage layout- with an impressive light display- seemed to complement the band’s choice of setlist.

The band threw in a stunning cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Everywhere’, which showed off the versatility of lead singer Hayley Williams’ voice. The band explained how they’d listened to it a lot during the recording of their latest album. It was a refreshing song choice for a once pop-punk band.

The mix of covers and new tracks peppered into a heap of older tracks, straying from their newer sound. The band played songs from their five album deep back catalogue, including the hit ‘Still Into You’ and Grammy Award winning single ‘Ain’t it Fun’, from their 2013 self-titled album, as well as ‘That’s What You Get’, from their 10 year old album Riot, and ‘Brick By Boring Brick’ from Brand New Eyes. The band didn’t play any songs from their debut album- All We Know is Falling– on this tour, which is understandable as they’re spoilt for choice with popular hits and fan favourites from their other albums.

The band invited fans up to sing Misery Business with them, as they have done for the last few years. The atmosphere is always especially buzzing throughout this part of the set, as fans eagerly anticipate being picked and lucky fans dance around the stage with Williams and co.

Paramore played a three song encore, including a HalfNoise track- ‘Scooby’s in the Back’- from their The Velvet Face EP. Half Noise are Paramore drummer Zac Farro’s other band. This was incredibly well received. They also played ‘Foregiveness’, before ending with their latest single ‘Hard Times’, which felt like a triumphant ending to an immensely successful gig.

This show felt like a special warm up show, teasing something huge that’s to come. It was an absolute treat. The band could’ve sold out venues twice the size or easily played three nights in a row, yet this felt exclusive. I can’t wait to see what they do next because I, for one, will be there.

Paramore, The Royal Albert Hall (19/06/2017)

May 2017- What I’m Listening To

Firstly, I’d like to open this post with something tragically sad that I wish I didn’t have to talk about- the horrific terrorist attack on Manchester Arena. The terrorist attack on the Manchester Arena happened on the 22nd May 2017, after an Ariana Grande concert, and the death toll stands at 22, with many others injured and still in hospital. The youngest victim was 9. Many parents collecting their children were injured, as well as many (young) concert goers. Ariana Grande has offered a HUGE amount of support for the victims though and even managed to arrange (or rather be the crucial figure head of) a One Love Manchester¬†benefit concert, with some of the biggest names in the music industry, which raised millions, within weeks of the event. It didn’t stop her, which it quite easily could have. I think it’s important to talk about these sorts of things because we have to get on with our daily lives in the same ways as we did before and because they’re tragically sad and need to be talked about. What really struck me was that it was just young kids enjoying music, something which I strongly believe we should all do and expose our children to (it’s a beautiful thing). It’s the fact that these children would’ve gone to see their favourite pop star, perhaps on their own or with their wonderful families (I have so much time for parents who take their kids to see things, regardless of whether or not they actually like it), at a place where they clearly felt safe and how they were met with terror and lifelong fear. It’s the blatant attack on a culture full of compassion, love and acceptance. It really hit me when I saw Little Mix at Radio One’s Big Weekend. There were children everywhere, with their (albeit less enthusiastic) parents, singing their hearts out and dancing to their childhood heroes, the ones they look up to. It was quite magical and to think someone would go about trying to destroy the innocence of this is truly heart breaking. I hear security is being stepped up, but of course this can’t be undone. We just can’t let it stop us.

 


 

Paramore have released their new album (finally)! It’s the band’s first album since the 2013 self-titled album and since bassist Jeremy Davis’ departure and ex-drummer Zac Farro’s return. It’s a stunning blend of old and new and feels more perfected and polished than their other albums. Their genre certainty feels assured and confident. They’ve definitely matured and are undoubtably on the top of their game. The album’s called After Laughter and was released on the 12th May. I thoroughly recommend you check it out (or read my review of it here). ¬†They’ve also announced their third ‘Parahoy’ cruise, which sets sail from the 6th to the 10th April 2018, on a cruise around the Bahamas. It’s set to be huge and they’re set to welcome some of the biggest, most exciting names in the music industry on it too.

Glastonbury Festival have announced the famous Shangri La’s 2017 line-up this month. The line up features names from Rat Boy, Napalm Death and Gentleman’s Dub Club across eight stages. The stunningly artistic, themed area (which features artwork by the likes of Stanley Donwood) has welcomed a brand new area this year- the Earache Express- which is dedicated to metal music, a first for the festival! This joins the newly added, 2016 addition, women only venue ‘The Sisterhood’ in the area. You can’t forget to mention the stunningly immersive 360 experience of the gas tower either, which features 360 degree screens around a permanent gas tower structure, where many DJs play throughout the festival, including DJ Yoda.

Glastonbury also released their full line up this month, where names like Liam Gallagher joined the bill. The festival runs from the 22nd to the 26th June 2017, at Worthy Farm, Pilton.

Haim have released their latest single, ‘Want You Back’. The single is a brilliant blend of pure pop, with hints of the classic alternative vibe that made them famous. It’s a significant follow up single and makes me eager for their new album, Something to Tell You, which is due out in July (07/07/2017).

90s band Black Grape have announced their first album in 20 years, Pop Voodoo. It was initially due for release on the 7th July, but has been pushed back due to mixing delays. The album features the newly released songs ‘Everything You Know is Wrong’ and ‘Nine Lives’. The album gets political in lyric, so is crucial to our current (volatile) political climate. It’s set to be huge.

Wolf Alice have been sending our cryptic postcards to unsuspecting fans with lyrics on the back. These mysterious ‘clues’ are hopefully an indication of new music!

Blossoms have released a huge new song with Chase and Status called ‘The Moment’. It’s a blend of Blossoms’ glorious indie-rock, with a clear Chase and Status touch. Perhaps this collaboration was unsurprising as a follow up to their 2016 collaboration with Slaves on ‘Control’.

Sundara Karma have also announced that they are re-releasing their debut album, Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect, which originally came on in January this year. ‘Explore’ is the first new single to be released, joining two other new tracks on the re-release, which is out on the 7th July. I can’t wait!

Soundgarden’s front man Chris Cornell sadly died this month, at the age of 52, on the 18th May. The news is tragic, but his will undoubtedly live on.

Next mont is set to be massive. There’s Wildlife Festival, Paramore at the Royal Albert Hall and, of course, Glastonbury. There’s even a new release from the mystical Lorde. I can’t wait!

This month’s playlist features Liam Gallagher’s new single ‘Wall of Glass’, Blondie and The Courteeners, as well as Alt-J’s stunning new song ‘3WW’ (which I’ve had on repeat) and a throwback to Mystery Jet’s stunning Radlands hit ‘Greatest Hits’ (another on repeat track). There’s also Biffy Clyro, Dan Auerbach, The Kooks and The Magic Gang’s new track.

 

 

 

 

 

May 2017- What I’m Listening To

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)