Friday, 28 April 2017

Last Week's Releases Today: It's While She Sleeps' World...

...We just live in it. I think this will be my last update for April, months are tricky but I guess I make the rules around here.

Albums and EPs Released Last Week:

Adrijana - Faser Although I have listened to entirely non-English language releases before (see: Babymetal), I've definitely never enjoyed one as much as I'm enjoying this debut release from Swedish singer Adrijana. If anything, it affirms that good pop music has no bounds. The only track I don't like on here is 'Amere' which was released as a full on proper single despite being by far the worst song; I am perplexed. I'd really like to hope that it's only a couple of years before Adrijana is releasing English language material for the masses - although obviously that's totally not something someone should have to do but hey, that's the world we live in! 6/7 tracks added to library.

Amy Shark - Night Thinker I have found absolutely nothing redeeming about this EP and even more frustratingly than that, I can't work out what it is that I hate about it so much. I reckon Shark's voice is quite plain and uninteresting and that's probably the first hurdle. I'm annoyed that the lyrics throughout 'Adore' are quite relatable because I just don't think I could bare listening to this song again. I'm even more annoyed that I didn't make notes during my first listen to this EP and I'm having to endure it again. I actually quite like the over-produced backing vocal on 'Weekends'... and on 'Worst Girl' too. Okay, so I lied about the whole "nothing redeeming" thing but still these perks are extremely minor. 'Blood Brothers' is The Pop Song on here and I do actually really want to like it... but there's something so unappealing that I can not shake about Amy Shark. No tracks added to library.

Blackbear - digital druglord Forgive me, but I'm struggling to understand what's going on with Blackbear at the moment considering just last month we received a full mansionz album, Blackbear's extremely sub-par project with Mike Posner, and now we have a solo record too. I can't work out whether this album is actually far better than the mansionz one was, or whether I'm just relieved that Mike Posner does not feature on it for even a second. Tracks like 'i miss the old u' and 'do re mi' lead me to believe that Matthew Musto has recently had a pretty rough experience with a female partner but as songwriting goes, 'do re mi' is pretty fucking great. 4/10 tracks added to library.

COIN - How Will You Know If You Never Try Never have I been more shocked to learn that an indie band was not from the north of England as I was when discovering this about COIN. Do they even use the word "coin" in America?! I'm honestly so bewildered that COIN are from Nashville that I can't find the words to even start telling you about how good this album is. I have no idea what their debut full-length sounded like, but they've definitely perfected indie-pop-rock on this record. I'd like to point you in the direction of 'Feeling' mostly - I wish every indie band wrote songs like this. 6/11 tracks added to library.

David Dallas - Hood Country Club We're all well aware of my current infatuation with Sydney based hip hop groups but this week has thrown up Auckland based rapper David Dallas. Hood Country Club is Dallas' fourth album and at the ripe age of 34, he definitely knows what he's doing. The first three tracks on this record are absolute bangers especially 'Fit In', but the album takes a far less mainstream route from there onwards, which I found a little strange. Something I've taken a lot more notice of and learnt to appreciate is mixed race artists talking about exactly that, and it's something Dallas references a few times throughout Hood Country Club in relevant and intelligent ways. 7/13 tracks added to library.

While She Sleeps - You Are We This is the new and might I say groundbreaking third album from Sheffield metalcore/punk five-piece While She Sleeps. I've been trying to explain on Twitter this week that this album is a great starter pack for anybody who wants to "get in to" metal. Every song is huge, every chorus is massive, it picks up and slows down the pace at perfect intervals. This is an exceptional record. Not on is this album impeccable, they are an excellent live band. They're on the most wild UK tour at the moment; if that hasn't reached you yet, make sure you reach it. The whole damn thing added to library.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Live At Leeds Clashless Guide 2017

Hi there, please, if you will, give a warm welcome to the early return of The Clashless Guide, which returns prematurely in 2017 for Live At Leeds. Are you stoked? You should be. The only difference is that I've only ever been to Leeds once before and when I was there I visited The Cockpit... which no longer exists, so I guess this is kind of (well, it is) a rookie's Clashlss Guide to Live At Leeds. A large factor in this guide, however, is the existence of The Great Escape. A lot of the line-up crosses over and that's something I've tried my best to take into account.

I'd say that starting off with the venue furthest away is a good logistical decision. I don't know but I'd assume Brundell Social Club suffers like Concorde2 does at The Great Escape in terms of being so far away that no one can be bothered to walk the distance to show up. Regardless, that's where our day begins, with Lisbon at 13:30. Lisbon are an indie/pop/rock amalgamation three-(previously four)piece from The North, Newcastle to be more specific. Prior to now Lisbon were making catchy indie banger type songs like 2016 singles 'Vice' and 'Shark' but they've done a quite a drastic "change of direction" thing on their new single 'Tyler'. Lisbon's current run of shows is pretty much the first time we'll get to preview this new sound and how it integrates within their back catalogue. A solid way to kick things off, I reckon.

Rushing sucks, so you have until 15:00 to get back down in to town for Australian duo Kllo at Headrow House. Kllo make this really muted quite atmospheric feeling electro-pop that is very reminiscent of cuts from Bonobo's recent album, who, it just so happens, they are supporting for a date on his Australian headline tour. They've also sold out their London headline date on the run up to Live At Leeds, so they're undoubtedly worth checking out.

You could see Airways at 15:00 too but Leeds Beckett SU is further from The Wardrobe Bar where you definitely need to be at 15:30 to see Joel Baker. Nottingham by London singer/rapper/songwriter Joel Baker's been working hard for a good few years now and has never really received the attention he deserves. Last January, Baker released a mixtape called Bran Flakes Volume 1 and it's honestly very good. Joel Baker is honestly very good and he pulls off casual lyricism and diverse vocal styles (singing and talking with rhythm that I probably wouldn't go as far as to call it rapping) pretty effortlessly live.

Here's where things start getting messy, right? Because I'd like to urge you to see Kovic at 16:00 but there's no way you're getting over to The Chapel in time. Instead, pop in to Belgrave Music Hall for Anna Straker at 16:00 instead. Straker is the first artist I've mentioned who does also play The Great Escape next month but she plays primetime on Friday night and that's bound to be clash central.  The 19 year old London musician/producer makes super fun dance-around-the-kitchen-worthy electro-pop that no doubt translates in to a live setting too. It's at this point that I'd recommend you do something about eating. There are a bunch of places offering discounts and free stuff with Live At Leeds wristbands; unfortunately this has been posted in gif form (*infinite eye-roll*) on the LaL socials and is therefore quite tricky to read... hopefully clearer details will materialise over the next few days.

Now you're re-fueled we're about to implement some fairly controversial plans. First we'll head to Leeds Beckett University Union for Clay at 17:30. Clay is a terrible band name, so much so that I thought I didn't like Clay purely off the back of assuming they were "just another indie band". I was incorrect, and I don't want to urge them to change their name... but I'd definitely happily suggest that as an option. Anyway, Clay are apparently "re-inventing the modern perception of a 'band'", which seems like a pretty big task to me. Whilst they work on that they also make quite interesting pop tinged indie rock.

The spanner in these particular works is that Clay are from Leeds and that means their set and this venue will most likely be very busy. Try getting in anyway. If you do get in, great work, solid shout, stay there, I'll grab you in a sec. If it's looking unlikely run back down to Belgrave Music Hall for Ider. Female duo Ider are everyone's favourite hype act right now, so this will also be busy but they don't start until 18:00 so give it a go. The pair's vocal harmonies live are insane and their personalities on stage are extremely likable. They are playing The Great Escape though, so don't worry if you don't make it down.

For those of you I left at Belgrave Music Hall, stick around for Ekkah at 18:30. Ekkah are one of my absolute favourite acts to see live for so many reasons but mostly due to the duo's synchronised dance routines. The pair's music is the best kind of 80's inspired synth pop that's so bubbly and fun standing still is quite simply not at option. Along with Joel Baker, I'd say Ekkah are not to be missed on Saturday. Following this, it's a quick sprint down to Headrow House for Zach Said at 19:30. Zach Said has recently signed to "hot Sony Label" Insanity and also supported Anderson .Paak in London mere weeks ago! His straight up soulful R&B is quite different to anything else I've noted in this Guide so for that alone broaden your horizons and check him out.

You then have an half an hour to casually make your way all the way back over to Brundell Social Club for 20:30 for the first mighty Danish trio of the evening, Off Bloom. With their custom made branded outfits and lead singer Mette's confident attitude, Off Bloom pull off amazing live shows made for headlining venues far larger than they're playing at the moment. It's a non-stop electronic whirlwind from the moment they step on stage, and if you thought singles 'Falcon Eye' and 'Love To Hate It' sound big on record, they sound huge in the flesh too.

Afterwards, head back in to town to catch another Danish trio, Chinah, at Belgrave Music Hall at 22:00. I can't workout how three people are able to set a tone, create a mood and flawlessly pull off their songs as well as Chinah do but they never ever disappoint live. This is one of the first times we get to see the band in the UK since the release of their second EP Hints, so I'd advise you not to miss it. Both of these three-piece's do play The Great Escape next month, but once again Off Bloom clash with everybody on the Saturday night, and it's a fairly similar story for Chinah on the Thursday night.

Finally, stick around at Belgrave Music Hall for Sinead Harnett at 23:00. Harnett has collaborated with some of the the UK's best "dance" acts including Rudimental, Disclosure, and Snakehips but now it's time for her solo material to take the floor. Her smooth take on pop/electro/R&B is just the right about of vibe to bring your night to a close where live music is concerned. And just like that we've reached the end... but what's a post without a playlist?! So here that is:

Obviously don't forget to check back here for some thoughts and feelings in the wake of Live At Leeds, and also in a couple of weeks for your Clashless Guide to The Great Escape 2017.

A Quick Recap
1330-1400: Lisbon - Brundell Social Club
1500-1530: Kllo - Headrow House
1530-1600: Joel Baker - The Wardrobe Bar
1600-1630: Anna Straker - Belgrave Music Hall
1730-1800: Clay Leeds Beckett Uni Union Stage 1
1830-1900: Ekkah Leeds Beckett Uni Union Stage 1
1900-1930: Zach Said - Headrow House
2030-2100: Off Bloom - Brundell Social Club
2200-2230: Chinah - Belgrave Music Hall
2300-2345: Sinead Harnett - Belgrave Music Hall

Other Artists Not Playing The Great Escape Who I'd Also Recommend Seeing
1300-1330: Casey Lowry - The Wardrobe
1500-1530: Airways - Leeds Beckett Uni Union Stage 2
1600-1630: Kovic - The Chapel
1800-1830: The Night Cafe - Nation of Shopkeepers
2045-2145: Jagwar Ma - Leeds Beckett Uni Union Stage 1
2100-2130: The Academic - The Lending Rooms
2200-2230: Adian Coker - The Faversham

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Amir Miles - Bad Habits

Hi hi everybody, it's been a little while since one of these, huh? That's meant that I've essentially culled quite a few songs that I wanted to give individual posts to, and I've also grouped a couple together and hopefully they will go out at some point this week. I wrote those sentences on Sunday night... it's now Tuesday evening and this is the first from anybody has heard from me. Newsflash: Nobody is shocked.

My first track to start this new Spring era is from a guysI had quite literally never heard of prior to this track appearing wherever it appeared. Amir Miles is a 21 year old self-professed "independent alternative R&B artist" obviously from America. I haven't seen anybody else I know talking about his single 'Bad Habits' either, which I thought was strange because this is a very good yet straightforward RnB/pop song. I personally really like songs that are just about normal standard things without the overuse of metaphors. 'Bad Habits' does this really well, summed up in the chorus where Amir Miles basically sleeps with the girl he's having relations with's friend whilst she does the same to him just so that they get a reaction out of each other.

Miles claims that he has new music coming soon and it's "bigger than 'Bad Habits'". That's a pretty hefty statement considering how good this song is but I'm willing to put faith in it. Sidenote: This artwork is really cool.