Friday, 17 November 2017

Last Week's Releases Today: Wus Dis?

Long time no see. I've missed this. And us. And you.
A rare occasion where I've actually made it the whole way through my mega NMF playlist and managed to pick out some gems hiding amongst that awful Eminem and Beyonce collab and premature Christmas songs.

bülow - Not A Love Song

Oh yeah, it's one of those not love songs but actually it is. Gotcha. I've sussed it. Detective achievement unlocked. bülow is 17 years old and from The Netherlands. Damaged Vol. 1, the three track EP from which 'Not A Love Song' is taken is her first release of all time which is quite baffling actually because the tracks on it are impeccable. 'Not A Love Song' is the standout, however. It's fresh, it's honest and it's polished. bülow is a star in the making.

Dance à la Plage - Wanna Move Like You

Dance à la Plage have been a band for aaages, right? In some ways it doesn't even show. Maybe this happy guitar strumming indie-pop isn't the most popular genre right now, but if everyone was writing songs as catchy as 'Wanna Move Like You' it surely would be. This track is simple, for sure, but it does the job so well adding anything else to the pot would surely ruin it. I've no idea what this band are up to at the moment but I can only hope there's more of this.

Ernest K. - Trouble Wth Us

Being a rapper and also singing well is something that I think a lot of people who try to do that fail at. Ernest K. is not one of those people. 'Trouble With Us' is the opening track from the Nashville based artist's debut self-titled EP. It's important to note that this track isn't by any stretch groundbreaking but it surely must be a sign of good things to come. Take that and combine it with the fact that all three songs on this release sound completely different, and it's fair to say Ernest K. might be one to keep an eye on.

Kim Petras - Slow It Down

Kim Petras' vocals sound like a mixture between Tove Lo's and Charli XCX's. Before the Google search I literally just performed I had no idea who she was but I'm a big fan of disassociating music with the people performing/writing it. There's a lot of Dr Luke affiliation here but if there is the capacity to ignore all of that, 'Slow It Down' is a bop.

Petit Biscuit feat Lido - Problems

Petit Biscuit is a genuinely terrible stage name but I have the capacity to look past that if you're creating songs that sound like this. The French producer has teamed up with Norwegian artist Lido on 'Problems', taken from Petit Biscuit's recently released debut album. I don't have any idea what the lyrics in this song are about, especially during the pre-chorus - something about hi-hats and pineapples? It doesn't matter at all though, really, because the track sounds so nice and Lido's vocals work so effortlessly.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Lune - L$D

Hi friends, I've been quiet lately, which is totally fine because I'm not overwhelmed by the notion of writing and blogging at the moment but I think it's important to sing something's praises when you think that something is really good. That's how I feel about Lune's cover of A$AP Rocky's 'L$D'. I'm a tremendous fan of covers as it is, you can view my Undeniably The Best Covers Ever playlist here, but there are some things in particular about covers that I like the most and Lune pretty much ticks those boxes.

I don't know anything about Lune, I can't even decide if the Twitter account I think is her is actually her or not. But things I do know are that her real name is Linnéa Martinsson and she's Swedish. Shock! Something good is from Sweden. Anyway, this cover, right, is of a pretty bland track as far as A$AP Rocky's catalogue goes, like, I guess it's nice for hip hop artists to do something different but the original version of 'L$D' is pretty beige. And that's what makes Lune's version so mesmerising. She's taken a song that is pretty inconsequential in its original form and actually made it into a love song without really changing much about it. I'm also very against the altering of song lyric pronouns for the purpose of a cover and I absolutely adore how genuine Lune sounds when she's singing about this girl. Obviously I have no knowledge of her sexual preferences but as someone (classic me) who fell briefly in love with a girl I met for three days last weekend, I'm finding 'L$D' painfully relatable.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Some of June's Releases Today

In an extremely sad and upsetting state of affairs, my Last Week's Releases Today post from last week literally disappeared as I was adding in the formatting on Friday morning. So I'm not sure at this point how much of that I'll re-write but I guess we'll soon see.

By far my favourite albums from the week before last were Hey Monday's debut From The Outside and Broadside's sophomore album Paradise. I absolutely hated Lorde's Melodrama and I'm finding it hard to fathom how and why people think it's so excellent. I mean, maybe I just need to give it more time but that's literally the last thing I want to give it. The Big Boi and Portugal. The Man albums were both extremely disappointing. The Terror Jr album is everything you'd expect a second Terror Jr album to be and it's not overwhelmingly good. The ol' Nickelback album is a real gem though, I enjoyed that, and you should too.

Last week was possibly the slowest music week ever so there's not much to report apart from the new album from Captain We're Sinking, that's good. Imagine Dragons' Evolve was a surprise hit and VERITE's debut had some good pop cuts on it too.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Hot Singles In Your Area #1: FTSE, FARR, Janine

Well... this is new. AND HILARIOUS. We all know I don't actually enjoy writing so here we have a simple way for me to tell you about songs that are good by artists who are also good in an easily digestible and succinct manner. I used to do something similar last year but it wasn't half as witty as the title is now.

FTSE feat Shola Ama and Donae'o - Work U Out

Upon seeing Shola Ama's name alongside any track there's a pretty pre-conceived notion (for me, at least) of what that song is going to sound like. I was therefore surprised given Sam Manville AKA FTSE's previous works but also intrigued given said previous works. Manville in his FTSE guise alone has seamlessly transitioned between different pop and electronic sub-genres that it should really come as no shock that he's able to pull off this garage-esque track. I definitely don't believe it's something that an artist like FTSE strives for, but this is possibly the most commercially viable track that he's put his name to. Donea'o's verses are extremely tolerable on 'Work U Out', which is a pleasant surprise in itself too. Also, very strong summer vibe. Would recommend for literally right now.

FARR - Blades

This was a Bastien Rayno recommendation. I think I'd quite like a soundbite like off of MySpace songs that bands didn't want people ripping that just says "A Bastien Recommendation" every time one of these songs happens. I read somewhere that FARR are from London but that is not strictly true; in fact the duo are split across the Atlantic, which given their sound with a typical American R&B style vocal blended with sleek UK grounded production makes a lot of sense. 'Blades' is the pair's second single and it's far darker and weightier than their debut 'Down', but it definitely gives FARR an edge over their peers. This songs also has an absolutely stellar middle eight that breaks all the rules by not leading into a final chorus.

Janine - Unstable

I'm always a little cautious of artists using just their first name as their stage name. Where will I find you? How will I find you? How do I know you are you? Well, I sent a link to Janine's new single 'Unstable' to Matthew (you know, this guy) who informed me that Janine used to perform under the name Janine and the Mixtape. My smugness then quadrupled when I found a comment from renowned blog Disco Naïveté from four years ago saying that they didn't think Janine was "in it for much". Imagine hearing this new single now and being that wrong about a person. 'Unstable' is absolutely everything I love about a female pop/RnB singer/songwriter. Everything. Emotion, attitude, relatability, and a sultry as fuck contrasting middle eight section. Yes. Please. Slay me. Janine.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Last Fortnight's Releases Today: Sisters Are Doing That

It's Wednesday evening and I'm as curious as you are as to whether there will actually be a post below this come Friday. In quite a peculiar twist of fate, ladies are showing their superiority not only in UK Parliament this week (shout out to The Gal, Diane), but also this month's releases thus far have been dominated by females. And the stuff they're churning out is good too.

As you're aware by now, The Library:

I didn't particularly like Allie X pre-'That's So Us' but that really won me over and CollXtion II is a good listen overall with 'Casanova' being an extreme highlight. Amongst an ocean of singles and 17 tracks I was extremely skeptical about Dua Lipa but this album by and large is super fun. It's been such a long time in the making that everybody had every right to think it would be an underwhelming slog but that's not the case at all. If there are any further singles from it, which I don't doubt there will be, 'New Rules' has got to be up there. Another album that I forced myself to have an open mind for was Halsey's hopeless fountain kingdom, and I'm glad I did because some of these tracks, 'Walls Could Talk' and 'Bad At Love' in particular, pack a lot more punch than anything did on the first album. When you look past how pretentious everything about Halsey is, there does seem to be some light at the end of the tunnel.

In stark contrast we have Katy Perry who has churned out an absolute waste of a record. I thought I liked three songs on Witness but it's rapidly transpiring that 'Roulette' is the only track on there worth re-vising. I was really looking forward to RIVRS The Berlin Mixtape based on the two singles 'Man Of My Dreams' and 'Bad Karma' but unfortunately that too did not live up to expectations. Bea Miller released a new EP called chapter two: red. I listened to it once and decided two of the songs were okay but I literally don't have time for "okay" this month, you know? I have found the lead single from the latest Major Lazer EP, 'Know No Better', featuring Travis Scott (...), Camila Cabello (eye-roll), and Quavo (kill me), surprisingly enjoyable. The rest of the EP was a bit "typical Major Lazer" and I was not interested. Both the Marlene EP and the SZA album took me quite a while to get through but I've still picked out some of the good ones from there so all is not lost.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Underrated: Big Boi - Mic Jack

Let me tell you a lil something about Big Boi: He out here creating hits and none of y'all pay any damn attention every single time. It's a heartbreaking state of affairs that I am straight up over. Obviously we're all familiar with Big Boi's output during the Outkast era, especially during the Speakerboxxx/The Love Below cycle, most notably on 'The Way You Move' and his verse on'Roses'. But even with the high profile attention that those tracks garnered, 'Hey Ya!' was (and is still) such an astronomical international success that Big Boi's works almost got left behind.

Fast-forward to 2010 and 17 year old me is at a stage in my life where I am heavily invested in predicting the next big hit. That was back in a time where things could be anticipated long before tracks were actually released physically and/or digitally. It was also a time when I was becoming extremely invested in Radio 1 specialist shows. There was this new single from Outkast's Big Boi and I'm not sure I've ever heard Zane Lowe back something as hard as he backed 'Shutterbug'. And I was with him. "This is it", I thought. "A summer smash like no other." It wasn't. It did peak at number 13 in the UK singles chart which I was surprised to learn the other day, but it deserved so much more. But here we are, seven years on and things don't really seem to have changed much for Big Boi.

Back in April Big Boi released a pair of new singles to launch the campaign for his forthcoming album, Boomiverse, scheduled for release this week. Now, you see, I don't believe in releasing more than one single at a time because I think it makes the campaign messy and both songs are never going to be equal amounts successful, however, 'Kill Jill' and 'Mic Jack' (title-wise at least) go hand in hand. These two tracks are pretty drastically different in terms of sound though, whilst 'Kill Jill' featuring Jeezy and Killer Mike takes a more straight up rap/hip hop route, 'Mic Jack' is a second chance at that summer smash. Or at least, it was. With Adam Levine on the chorus and unnamed female vocalist all over the outro, this is Big Boi doing possibly his best pop effort ever. But this song has been out for two months now and ain't nobody giving a fuck, which is something I find quite appalling. "Out the oven 'cause we never microwavin'". Why are you sleeping on this, universe? I don't understand. Justice for Big Boi and the Boomiverse era immediately. I will say that I'm fairly upset that the outro is just cut from the video version of the song, but it's legitimately one of the highlights. Also why isn't this female vocalist credited? There is no reason for her to be anonymous in this day and age.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Emily Vaughn - Mood

(I know this has been knocking around for a little while now but I've been busy doing nothing.)

Emily Vaughn first appeared in the Blogosphere two years ago with her debut single 'Hollow'. At the time I was very impressed with the 19 year old's first track and I claimed that she had "the pop formula sussed". Whilst that definitely wasn't untrue in 2015, if released now 'Hollow' probably wouldn't stand a chance amongst other rising female pop types. The other two singles released between then and now, 'Better Off' and 'Think Twice' are equally good pop but not groundbreaking, which to be honest, had me a little worried... but fear not, Vaughn is back and better than ever for 2017.

In fact, 'Mood' is not only the best song to eye-roll to so far this year, but also the best song to side-eye scowl to. Those two things are very important to me, especially when having to deal with fuckboys in a similar vein to the scenario laid out in the track's lyrics. The problem is, it's June 2017 and I'm really over the word "sassy" but if we can pretend that it didn't become the overused internet term that it is... it's very much what I'd like to describe 'Mood' as, and it really hits the ground running. There's something about solitary finger clicking that screams attitude and control and domination, which is actually nuts that all of those things come from a snap. And from then on through the next three minutes the attitude is relentless. Has anybody ever been as over an ex as Emily Vaughn is right now? I think not.

Can I also give praise to the dance routine section of the video during the middle (not sure if it's) eight please, because I love that.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Last Month's Releases Today: Just Another Manic May

Hello everybody, I thought it would be a really good idea to try and go to four festivals in five weeks alongside a full time job (which I've just passed my probation on btw, hello, I'm a fully fledged member of Domino Records (technically Double Six Rights Management but #yolo) now!) and attempted to preview a load of stuff. All of that has been way time consuming so this has fallen by the way-side. I actually haven't posted on here since pre-TGE and although it wasn't all that long ago, it feels like an age.

Running through everything good and bad I've listened to over the past four weeks seems like a ridiculous and boring idea, so here is my May Library and some highlights from the recent period.

I spoke about the Airling album last time I did this, you can read that here, and it has fast become one of my favourite records of the year so far. I was very much looking to Christopher's new album but it is such a hot mess for the most part that I'm glad I'm not actually writing more than this about it. I very much have got back in to skater punk via the new Gnarwolves album, to the point where I might even commit to seeing them live some time soon. My good ol' Twitter mate JMR released his new EP Boyish, which is essentially an album in terms of length, and it might take a couple of listens to get the feel of it but it's worth the effort. I really wanted to like more of the Paramore album than I did but I just don't think they nail the pop stuff as well as they think they do. And finally, my Queen, Mabel McVey put our her first EP Bedroom a couple of weeks ago and now we can all listen to 'Talk About Forever' comfortably.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Great Escape Festival 2017 Clashless Guide - Part Three: Saturday

Check out Thursday's Clashless Guide here
And Friday's Clashless Guide here

I realised after Thursday's post went live that I did a really terrible thing that I wanted to avoid. That  thing was leaving out any information about whose showcase is whose. But as consistency is key and also as I have literally no time to edit anything I've done, I'm just going to ignore it's a thing that happened. I wanted to highlight this, but I also wanted to sweep it under the carpet and it's ended up as a bit of rambling. Let's awkwardly scuttle on with Part Three then, eh?

Current weather report: The pictures make it look alright, just pretty cloudy, but definitely don't rule out the possibility of showers. It'll feel warm in the sun, so at least that's something. (BBC Weather literally says that, don't @ me.)

Saturday is a little thin on the ground, I don't know why, it just always seems to be that way. But when you take into consideration that the city will be busier overall anyway, and therefore getting between venues and into them is likely to take a little longer, it's probably not a bad thing. An early start again and again it's up at the Brighthelm Centre for Big Scary Monsters/Alcopop's showcase openers Happy Accidents at 12:30. They're pretty different to any other recommendations so far this week, an indie punk trio with a super summery vibe. Stick around there for Kamikaze Girls at 13:30 or grab some lunch, obviously I'd recommend Bagelman but have a stroll and go wherever the wind takes you.

Be back up at The Hope And Ruin at 14:30 for WIIHAMB favourites and Brighton natives Kudu Blue. I bet you won't believe lead singer Clementine's voice isn't a sample... because I couldn't. Then it's down to One Church at 15:30 for my favourite new artiste of the last year or two, Léks Rivers. Rivers bends and melds genres, like very few other artists at the same point in their career, to create guitar based hip hop meets RnB and jazz that just has to be witnessed live. Then hop on down to Jubilee Square to see Jerry Williams at 16:30. I won't bother explaining for the (?? what the hell.. thousand and oneth? thousand and first? bloody hell.) time why you should see her, but do, it'll be fun.

Dinner suggestion: I can't believe I've made it this far without mentioning the one and only La Choza, which is where you should definitely go if you refuse to actually follow this guide. If you are following it though, you need to be quick and a speedier Mexican option is a burrito from Tortilla on West Street.

It's gonna get real messy for Saturday night. I'm referring to this guide, but maybe I'm referring to both you and myself as well... time will tell. Providing the calm before the storm is Raheem Bakere Upstairs at Patterns at 17:45. Think Gallant-like sultry R&B. Sit (stand) back and relax before this gets manic. It's once again time for a Go Your Own Way segment, but this time so extreme we're going to need separate paragraphs.

Route One
This is a route that I am committing to for numerous reasons but mostly because you're just in one venue, The Arch. First up at 18:45 is Will Heard. I'm still a bit bitter about the time he politely asked me to remove a blog post about him because "industry", but at the same time I still can't wait to start a pit to 'I Better Love You'. I'm also intrigued as to whether he performs any of his million collaborations live. Next up at 19:45 is little talked about Norwegian popstar-to-be Julie Bergan. I personally can not wait to throw down during her 2016 banger of a single 'Arigato'. The final artiste for this run, and the one I'm most excited to see over the whole weekend, George Maple at 20:45. Maple has been making super sexy pop songs with an electronic edge since day one. She's set to release her debut album at some point this year so hopefully we'll hear some new cuts from that this weekend.

Route Two
For this route you can take a leasurely stroll up to Green Door Store (there's not much I'd recommend in between) for Joe Hertz at 19:15. Joe Hertz makes some of the best electronic/RnB crossover jams we've heard over the last few years and I can guarantee that collaborator James Vickery will be making appearance during his set, so I can only assume there may be some other guests too. What you really need afterwards is a friend on the ground, someone to let you know how busy it is down on the seafront because you really want to catch explosive Danish trio Off Bloom at Coalition at 20:15. But alternatively, staying at Green Door Store for pop duo Frank Gamble also at 20:15 is a very feasible option. Then, if you think you can make it, head to the end of the pier for  quirky as fuck indie quintet Bad Sounds at 21:00 at Horatio's.

Regardless of the route you took you'll want to head back down to the seafront and get in to Coalition early for Skott, who takes the stage at 22:15. The eretheral Swedish vocalist has just been announced as the main support for MØ on her massive headline tour at the end of the year, so catch Skott in small venues whilst you can. Afterwards, take a break, you've really earned it over the past three days but do try and make time for Midlands based rapper Stefflon Don at 23:30 at Vevo's Wagner Hall

That's all for this year. It's been a wild ride. I'll be at most things I've mentioned over the last three days so if you see me, let's have a beer. Check out @WIIHAMB on Twitter because that is probably where I will be. Peace.

Saturday Clashless Recap
12:30-13:00 - Happy Accidents - Brighthelm Centre
14:30-15:00 - Kudu Blue - The Hope and Ruin
15:30-16:00 - Leks Rivers - One Church
16:30-17:00 - Jerry Williams - Jubilee Square
17:45-18:15 - Raheem Bakere - Patterns Upstairs
18:45-21:15 - Will Heard, Julie Bergan, George Maple - The Arch (Route One)
19:15-19:45 - Joe Hertz - Green Door Store (Route Two)
20:15-20:45 - Off Bloom - Coalition / Frank Gamble - Green Door Store (Route Two)
21:00-21:30 - Bad Sounds - Horatio's (Route Two)
22:15-22:45 - Skott - Coalition
23:30-00:00 - Stefflon Don - Wagner Hall

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The Great Escape Festival 2017 Clashless Guide - Part Two: Friday

Check out WIIHAMB's Clashless Guide to Thursday here.

Welcome back. First thing today I'd like to give a serious amount of praise to is The Great Escape app which you can download here for iOS and here for Android. Not only is it the smoothest running festival app I've handled, it offers everything up on an easy to digest platter in the most seamless way. My current favourite feature is if you've linked the app to your Facebook account and then scroll down to the bottom of an artist page, it shows you whether your friends have also added that artist to their schedule. So simple yet so effective. Shout out to you The Great Escape. Also, it'll have all the details of pop up/secret sets throughout the weekend. Never forget TGE 2014 when we went to the SeaLife Centre for free.

Current Weather Report: Sunny spells and scattered showers, these sometimes heavy, prolonged and thundery. EXCELLENT! Definitely bring a cagoule. I, for one, am thrilled at any opportunity to sport my festival raincoat - see you in the pit.

Starting as early as 12:30 could be an optimistic attempt but we'll give it a shot. This lunchtime slot will be filled by London three piece Sälen at Wagner Hall. It's not quite clear what Vevo are doing this year; typically they have acoustic sets during the day and then full band sets in the evening but there's no real specification for 2017. Check Sälen out anyway, it's bound to be weird. Grab a Bagelman and then head to Queens Hotel for Paigey Cakey at 13:45. Paigey Cakey used to be in Waterloo Road a few years ago (you know, when it was on) but now she's a rapper. In fact, a couple of her latest singles include her singing as well, which offers up a pretty nice dynamic in her tracks. I'm intrigued to see how she fares live.

You then have ten minutes to make it over to Latest Music Bar for Baby Queens at 14:15. Despite a truly not good band name, the five-piece make super soulful RnB/pop crossover music with stellar harmonies. At 15:20 up at Green Door Store Harrison Brome, creator of my favourite song of 2017 with the word "pussy" in the first verse, is doing songs and for literally that reason alone we should all go and watch him. The final stop this afternoon is somebody I could not care less about but I know you all want to see, Sigrid. I would assume this is going to be busy so it's probably worth heading down to Wagner Hall long before Sigrid takes the stage at 16:30 to guarantee yourself a spot. Obviously I'll be there because I am intrigued, and friends who haven't seen her live keep telling me how great she is live, and it's not fair to have an opinion on something until you've tried it. So there we are.

Dinner Suggestion: Just an hour for dinner today so pop into Franco Manca. The London sites are always very keen to turf you out as quickly as possibly so I'd expect the Brighton contigent to do the same. Super cheap super good sourdough pizza. You can't go wrong.

Once again our evening starts back up at the Unitarian Church, today with Matt Woods at 18:00. I don't know why I thought Matt Woods was American, but he's not, he's very much originally from Cornwall now living in London. He creates this super atmospheric RnB pop that I should typically hate but I don't, so there we go. Serial TGE performers The Age Of LUNA are back again for 2017 having released their new EP Coco last week and take to the stage Upstairs at Patterns at 18:45. Don't stick around for too long though because WIIHAMB favourite Dan Caplen is on at 19:15 at Coalition. I first saw Dan live at TGE last year and he was a clear standout from the entire weekend. I'm under the impression he's performing new material at the moment, which will most likely be worth seeing. Then hang around at Coalition for Raye at 20:15. With her own EP, mixtape, and features on chart topping songs from Jax Jones and Jonas Blue, It will be busy for Raye so being in the venue early is a must.

It's Go Your Own Way round two tonight, once again between 21:00 and 22:30. Luckily all of the venues are in the same direction so if anything is at capacity darting to plan B is simple enough. I would recommend first heading straight to Wagner Hall in an attempt to catch Ider at 21:00, especially if you opted not to see them on Thursday. But as discussed, the pair and Dagny who follows them at 22:00 are very sought after so the Vevo venue is likely to reach capacity. Also bear in mind that once you're inside the Vevo area, you may still have to queue to get in to the actual Hall. Last year there was a screen outside which was really cool but also remember the whole thundery showers thing. If you can't make it inside Superfood play The East Wing just across the road at 21:30, which will be cool or you can check out Strong Asian Mothers at Sticky Mike's Frog Bar at 21:15 which will probably be sweaty.

Opting for either of the latter two bands means being able to squeeze Ama Lou into your schedule, also at Sticky Mike's, at 22:15. Ama Lou's tracks are quite heavily based on electronic elements but have a pop edge too. Afterwards it's back across town to Latest Music Bar for Alice Jemima at 23:00. Her blend of acoustic/folk and electronic/pop, and the recent release of her debut album will no doubt make for an interesting live show. If you fancy running down to Coalition afterwards to catch what you can of Shy Luv from 23:30 that's definitely an option. Hang there or find a pub you can attempt to grab a table in and get some beers in before Friday's closer Krrum at 01:30 at The Hope and Ruin, who will undoubtedly bring the late night party vibes.

Friday Clashless Recap
12:30-13:00 - Sälen - Wagner Hall
13:45-14:05 - Paigey Cakey - Queen's Hotel
14:15-14:45 - Baby Queens - Latest Music Bar
15:20-15:40 - Harrison Brome - Green Door Store
16:30-17:00 - Sigrid - Wagner Hall
18:00-18:30 - Matt Woods - Unitarian Church
18:45-19:15 - The Age of LUNA - Patterns Upstairs
19:15-19:45 - Dan Caplen - Coalition
20:15-20:45 - Raye - Coalition
21:00-21:30 - Ider - Wagner Hall --> 22:00:22:30 - Dagny - Wagner Hall
21:15-21:45 - Strong Asian Mothers - Sticky Mike's / 21:30-22:15 - Superfood - The East Wing
22:15-22:45 - Ama Lou - Sticky Mike's Frog Bar
23:00-23:30 - Alice Jemima - Latest Music Bar
23:30-00:00 - Shy Luv - Coalition
01:30-02:00 - Krrum - The Hope and Ruin

Get pumped for the final instalment this time tomorrow.

Monday, 15 May 2017

The Great Escape 2017 Clashless Guide - Part One: Thursday

It's back. The mighty Great Escape Festival, and the even mightier Clashless Guide. It's an event. This is quite possibly the least prepared I have ever been for TGE so please bear with the frantic nature of these posts over the next three days. You all know the deal by now, I give you a clash-free schedule to the three day festival in Brighton complete with spots to eat and weather reports. There is one thing that I would like to stress before we get started and that is that the clashes are relentless this year, and this is by far the most difficult guide(s) I've ever had to put together.

Current Weather Report: Occasional sunshine and showers throughout the day, with temperatures between 10 and 14 degrees Celsius. Yeah, you're probably going to need a cagoule this weekend.

Why not get things started early? Like, as early as possible. First on the agenda is fairly new kid on the block Sonny at 13:00 at One Church. Sonny puts a pop and almost country sounding spin on the whole singer/songwriter thing that's quite exciting. You can then make the swift walk over to the Brighthelm Centre for the great live Scottish pop-rock band fronted by a rapper, The LaFontaines, at 13:30. After a bit of a break, head back down to One Church for Gabrielle Aplin at 15:30. There is a misconception about Gabrielle Aplin that she still makes wispy music a la That John Lewis ad and that's not the case at all. It’s at this point that I would like to emphasise that I’ve never attended a set in a church at TGE or in my life, so two in the first afternoon is something pretty ~out there~ for me to be recommending. The final stop before dinner is Liv Dawson at Vevo’s Wagner Hall at 16:30. It's always nice to admire what Vevo do with the place every year, and seeing it in the daylight to the backdrop of Liv Dawson's dulcet tones seems like a good plan.

Dinner Suggestion: This may well be the longest dinner slot available this weekend so make the most of it. My friend and Brighton resident Emma has recommended The Prince George pub on Trafalgar Street who have the most wild all vegetarian menu with a load of Mexican inspired dishes, it looks lit.

After a refuel, take yourself back to church, the Unitarian Church to be specific, for Folly Rae at 18:30. Folly Rae describes her sound as "hippy electric", which doesn't sound overly appealing, but I promise it is. Afterwards, stroll down to the seafront to Shooshh for Australian pop artiste Betty Who at 19:30. It’s important at these events to see artists from the other side of the world because you just never know how long it’ll be before they return, and Betty Who just released her second album so it'll be nice to hear the bangers from that. Although, in contradiction to my advice, next on the agenda is UK based singer/songwriter Carys Selvey at 20:15 Upstairs at Patterns. Selvey has only released one single thus far but me ol' mate Matthew gave her a rave review from Live At Leeds, so one to get behind early, I'd say.

Welcome to the first of at least a couple Go Your Own Way segments. 21:00-22:00 on Thursday is absolute chaos and I've narrowed things down to three options. The one that makes the most logistical sense is Ider downstairs at Patterns at 21:30. There are some backstairs in Patterns that should make the journey between the two floors fairly simple and avoid any type of queueing to re-enter situation that may occur because I would hazard a guess that this show will be very busy. Another show likely to reach capacity is Finnish not-your-typical-popstar Alma at The Arch at 21:15. This is the only show Alma plays in Brighton over The Great Escape but if you want to make it inside I'd suggest darting straight to the seafront from Patterns after Carys Selvey. My final suggestion for this hour is Dublin trio Hare Squead at 21:30 at Shooshh. It's easy to get stuck watching endless pop people and indie bands at TGE and Hare Squead provide a welcome change of pace, a combination of pop and hip hop, and they'd no doubt be huge if they were based in London.

Now that Concorde2 has been omitted from the festival’s core venues, The Old Market becomes the worst venue to have to get to, which essentially means you won’t be able to get over there to see Ray Blk at 22:00 without taking a fair amount of time out of this schedule to do so. I would therefore avoid this. If you missed The LaFontaines at lunchtime, check them out at 22:15 at Latest Music Bar, otherwise go where the wind takes you for a little while but not too long. Fickle Friends play The East Wing at 23:15 and you'll want to get over there early because no doubt everybody will be trying to see the hotly tipped Brighton quintet on their home turf. The final selection for Thursday is Little Cub who I am now contractually obliged to recommend. The indie trio play The Arch at 00:30.

Thursday Clashless Recap
13:00-13:20 - Sonny - One Church
13:30-14:00 - The LaFontaines - Brighthelm Centre
15:00-15:30 - Gabrielle Aplin - One Church
16:30-17:00 - Liv Dawson - Wagner Hall
18:30-19:00 - Folly Rae - Unitarian Church
19:30-20:00 - Betty Who - Shooshh
20:15-20:45 - Carys Selvey - Patterns Upstairs
21:15-21:45 - Alma - The Arch
21:30-22:00 - Ider - Patterns Downstairs / 21:30-22:00 - Hare Squead - Shooshh
(22:15-22:45 - The LaFontaines - Latest Music Bar)
23:00-23:45 - Fickle Friends - The East Wing
00:30-01:00 - Little Cub - The Arch

Catch you back here tomorrow for your guide to Friday.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

A Cocktail Guide to CloseUp Festival 2017

We are in the midst of showcase festival season and I completely sympathise with how overwhelming these testing times can be. However, there is one festival on the horizon that looks to be providing a pretty stress free experience. Making the move from Winchester to The Big Smoke, the second CloseUp Festival takes place this Saturday (13th May) at Hoxton's Square Bar and Kitchen. So let me emphasise the ease of this event: it's central, the lineup is phenomenal, and tickets are dirt cheap. The day sells itself really but just in case you're still not quite convinced I've put together a guide of some of the acts playing along with the drinks you might like to consume as you're watching them. (You see, Hoxton Square Bar has quite the cocktail menu.)

Jerry Williams

Miss Williams was actually the inspiration for this totally original piece of content given that her name features in the name of my personal favourite of the venue's cocktails. Jerry Williams headlines CloseUp's acoustic stage and honestly it's the kind of platform that she was born for. She released her third EP at the end of last year, and the five tracks encapsulate every aspect of her music making personality perfectly. 'Velcro' is a particular highlight, and as Williams usually performs it as just her and a guitar, no doubt it'll sound exceptional on Saturday.

Recommended drink: Very Cherry Jerry - it's a no-brainer


The festival's latest lineup addition is my favourite London based self-titled band. This will be the quartet's third time playing live in Hoxton in the last eight months so they will undoubtedly be right at home on the CloseUp festival stage. Fours have just released their second single of the year and arguably (although, I don't know who would contest it) their best song to date, 'Stella'. Hopefully bringing the sun from their recent band holiday to Shoreditch, Fours' summery pop songs are the perfect way to brighten up your afternoon.

Recommended drink: It would be a Stella if it were on offer, alas, it's going to have to be Earl of Jamaica - think summer, and rum, and the sun, and holidays

Glass Peaks

I'm currently finding Glass Peaks' songs very endearing but I'm struggling to pinpoint exactly why. The band are a "melancholic alt-pop" trio from Kent, but I don't think alt-pop quite does what they do much justice, they seem a bit... deeper than that. They claim that two of their influences are Joy Division and Foals, and to be honest, that's kind of what their new single 'Home' sounds like a mixture between. Glass Peaks are playing the main stage this weekend, and I'm quite intrigued about what they'll sound like live.

Recommended drink: Based solely on one Facebook post Glass Peaks seem hyped about Jagermeister being in conjunction with this event. I hear there's a Jager cocktail happening... opt for one of those.

Martin Luke Brown

I've never seen Martin Luke Brown live, which is almost criminal actually, it's just never worked out... until now! Brown will be playing the acoustic stage on Saturday, which, akin to Jerry Williams, will no doubt work in his favour. The singer's more recent releases, 'Shadow & Light' and '65 Roses' are far more stripped back than his debut EP and the collaboration he released with Sody last year. Although he's one of those artists with vocals so strong any setting will probably work for him.

Recommended drink: Whisk Me Away - something straight up to sip as you're serenaded


Where better to conclude than with the main attraction, Saturday's main stage headliners, Ekkah. In the hotly contested UK female duo category, Ekkah are definitely one of my favourites. Their sound and aesthetic quite literally sparkle, setting the tone perfectly for their 80s infused synth pop. As I say every time I mention this pair, they're so fun to watch because of their low-key dance routines and solid pop harmonies. A perfect way to end the evening.

Recommended drink: Lavender Vida Loca - it sounds pretty sophisticated and in terms of wanting a blue drink for eighties throwback purposes, this is the closest we're gonna get

Other acts playing this wild all-dayer: Kyko, Model Aeroplanes, The Bulletproof Bomb (I read that this band were from Croydon. I looked at a picture of them and didn't recognise any of them. They're actually from Sutton. Sutton is not Croydon. Can't believe someone would literally feed me fake news in such a manner.), Marsicans, How's Harry (No question mark... which makes me even more concerned for Harry's welfare.), JAKL, Sasha Brown

You can buy tickets on Dice, Dice is really good, literally don't bother buying tickets anywhere else. They're £13 which is so criminally cheap for an entire day of music in central London. Come on! Grab em here.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Kudu Blue - Shaded

Hi Kudu Blue, bet you thought I'd forgotten about you, didn't you? Well, I wouldn't dare. Kudu Blue are a (now) four-piece band from Brighton. I can't quite recall how I first stumbled across them last year, and yeah sure, I could go back and have a look at my post about their single 'Vicinity' but I'm totally not about cutting corners like that. Also, if I had, what would I have written here? Anyway, after a three song string of singles last year the quartet have done a similar thing for 2017 but they've smushed the three new songs together and called it an EP. It's all the rage. Although, three tracks of less than 30 minutes don't actually constitute as an EP when it comes to online music store style guides, so technically this is, as JoJo attempted to coin, a tringle... but let's not get bogged down in semantics.

'Sugar Lemz' is Shaded's opener. "Lemz" is the kind of word that makes me feel a bit uneasy so I kind of just pretend that's not what this song is called. I think Kudu Blue sound a lot less like "a band" on this EP and much more like... "a project", and 'Sugar Lemz' almost throws you in at the deep end with that notion. I've had six weeks or so to mull this track over and I've decided that it would actually fit better as an interlude type situation on a longer release rather than A Single. Either way, it's cool in terms of giving us a taste of a "different side" to Kudu Blue.

But 'Drink Alone' is really what I've been waiting for. It's a big emotional RnB/pop banger that builds upon the singles the band were releasing during 2016. Something about the introduction is strangely reminiscent of the sea... is this intentional because Kudu Blue live near the sea or am I doing the classic GCSE English teacher thing of reading way too far into things? Who knows. We're all well aware that I am a fan of relatable songs, and 'Drink Alone' is just that. Pining after someone and not wanting to have to drink on your own. We've all been there, right? This one is my favourite.

I'd like to, at this point, mention how good Clementine's vocals are throughout this entire EP, and also the production and overall feel of these three tracks is pretty flawless. These things shine through on final track 'Enemy'. 'Enemy' builds in this super subtle and effortless way, which is quite an exciting thing to pull off considering Kudu Blue record and produce everything themselves in their home studio. This band are just really good, you know?

Kudu Blue are playing The Great Escape next week, on Saturday afternoon which is a stark contrast to the 2 A.M. slot they played last year. It'll be a great time.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Last Week's Releases Today: May The Fortunes Be With You

This is late, are you even surprised anymore? Thought not. I've decided to start May now. Not sure why, I just have, okay? Okay. There's a lot of Australian stuff going on this week. It was unintentional but music from Aus and New Zealand is so good at the moment... with the harsh exception of one of the releases below.

Albums and EPs Released Last Week:

Airling - Hard to Sleep, Easy to Dream This is good eh? Pretty sure this is on the verge of things I'm not typically supposed to like but Airling perfectly hits the genre mark between catchy pop and more ambient electronic. Hannah Shepherd uses featured artiste Tom Iansek's contrasting vocals just the right amount too, which does give the album a bit more of an edge than it would have it was just her. I've listened to this album a stupid amount of times in the space of 24 hours and as a result it has replaced RKCB's debut EP as my album to journey home being sad to. A soundtrack. In particular I adore 'Bloodshot Blue', the lyrics are poignant, the tone is just right and the pre-chorus is to die for. This record is stunning. 9/14 tracks added to library.

BLISS N ESO - Off The Grid You know I've raved about Australian hip hop this year right? Well after all of that, I've been slapped in the face with the new not good BLISS N ESO album. Everything that was exciting and innovative and current about Thundamentals, Spit Syndicate and Horrorshow feels like it's been omitted from this record. The most baffling thing are the guest features. What is the identity of Mario? Surely this isn't 'Let Me Love You' Mario? And I'll be damned if I can take Watsky even remotely seriously post-The Project U podcast. Surely no one in Australia is buying into this, right? The strangest thing is that they do touch on some actual relevant topics like we hear on 'Dopamine' and 'Devil On My Shoulder', but their delivery is so insincere it's hard to emotionally invest in. There's a line on 'Great Escape' that describes how they've been in the rap game for ten years "before the internet and chat rooms". Oz isn't that far behind the rest of the world, is it? No tracks added to library.

Cashmere Cat - 9 This is Cashmere Cat's debut album and it is flat out not what I was expecting, especially given the singles on the lead up. (Although in saying that, 'Throw Myself A Party' hasn't actually made it on to the record.) I guess in a way one should be grateful that it's not just one long pop song but on the flip side... the majority of this record is wishy washy electronic nonsense with the big name features going to waste more often than not. The SOPHIE collaboration on '9 (After Coachella)' is nigh on unbearable, both The Weeknd and Francis and the Lights are insignificant on 'Wild Love', and Ariana Grande's vocals amount to very little on 'Quit'. You have to wait until the album's final three tracks for what I really wanted from 9 and two of those songs we've already heard. No tracks added to library.

Fortunes. - Undressed Who are Fortunes.? Where have they come from? Because this is a release that has made me genuinely excited about music in 2017. I have a vague recollection of listening to their previous EP Jacket but I think I had some fairly mixed feelings about it. Undress, however, is undoubtedly excellent. Something that Tom Aspaul brought my attention to during the first episode of The Middle Eight Podcast was men openly singing about men. I guess it's just something I never really paid attention to beforehand but it's a really refreshing thing to hear and there's a lot of it going on on Undress. This EP is also just the right amount of quirky and off the wall to still be pretty easy listening but possesses depth that you wouldn't get on your bog-standard electronic/RnB/pop release. The whole EP added to library.

Gorillaz - Humanz Is this what all Gorillaz projects sound like? I can't recall them being quite so heavy on the features in previous cycles but this definitely seems like overkill. It's really at the point where I'm not sure who Gorillaz are or what they're actually making because there is so much focus on other artists on Humanz. To be honest, Anthony Fantano's review of this album is probably the best one you need - not that these are reviews, but you get my drift. On a first listen I didn't hate a lot of this album, but going back over it, I don't really care that much for any of it either. Like, do I want to hear any of this again? Not particularly... 2/26 songs added to library. Yep, 26.

JMSN - Whatever Makes U Happy I'm a little unsure how I feel about JMSN releasing so much music in quick succession... it doesn't feel right, you know? Almost too good to be true, maybe. But in saying that I think I prefer this shorter album to the "full-length" that he put out last summer. It's actually a bit weird writing so much praise for a singular man so often but JMSN's vocals are never not flawless, and it's difficult to tire of his jazz tinged RnB sound. 6/8 tracks added to library.

Sandro Cavazza - Sandro Cavazza These vocals got me shook. Surprise, he's Swedish! This is Sandro Cavazza's debut EP and it's very good but I honestly can't describe, other than his extraordinary vocals what sets it apart from other singer/songwriter releases of a similar ilk... but something does. Cavazza has already done vocals on tracks for Avicii and Lost Frequencies so it's surely only a matter of time before he gets his big break and these four tracks will definitely give him a helping hand. 'So Much Better' is very good in particular, and Lord does this have some real sync potential. 3/4 tracks added to library.

Monday, 1 May 2017

DJ Cassidy feat Grace and Lil Yachty - Honor

DJ Cassidy, he's a singles man. You remember DJ Cassidy's previous singles, right? No? Really? Let me give you a quick recap, a refresher course if you will. Cassidy's debut was 2014's 'Calling All Hearts' - a Robin Thicke and Jessie J cash grab collaboration. It charted at #6 in the UK, which is to be expected given the shit show that the general public seem to put on at all times. This song is not good. The follow up, released in the same year, was 'Make The World Go Round' featuring R. Kelly - an artist whose music people definitely don't care about in the 2010's. It sounds just like part two of the last song, and is therefore not good. That was the last I'd heard of DJ Cassidy, but it appears he's released two more singles over the last two years! First there was 'Future Is Mine' with Chormeo (and later a version with added Wale), but it'll come as no surprise that this is the same song again! His most recent effort prior to now was a track for HBO series Vinyl, the song being a collaboration with Jess Glynne, Alex Newell, and Nile Rodgers. You're expecting a banger right? Wrong. It's just a Chic tinged edition of that same song from Cassidy's last three releases.

So I know what you're thinking, this guy has released four underwhelming similar sounding songs, can he really be fifth time lucky? Well, the answer is yes. Yes he can. Although, I say this but I'm not sure how down to DJ Cassidy that is because honestly, Grace is the star of this show. In terms of instrumentation 'Honor' is stripped back right up until the first chorus, and even after that, it's still the Australian vocalist doing the majority of the work. Grace's voice is packed with attitude on every word she sings and it really shows on 'Honor'. In fact, it shines through so much that I am lost on why so much of her debut album felt... muted in comparison. The other featured artist to be found on 'Honor' is Lil Yachty, who is very hit or miss when it comes to collaborations but he gets it just right on this track. I can't work out whether that is down to this song appearing (and possibly being written for) The Get Down Part II or that's just happens to be a coincidence, either way, it doesn't really matter.

The final thing I'd like to praise is 'Honor's music video. Directed by photographer Sasha Samsonova who has worked extensively with Kylie Jenner and also directed the clip for Gallant's 'Talking To Myself', she has got the tone and DJ Cassidy's signature colour blocking spot on. In fact, the colours used between each scene are incredibly vibrant and the theme is so succinctly conveyed from room to room. It's beautiful. I hope this is a hit, and there's something you probably didn't think you'd hear me say at the start of this post.

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.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Last Week's Releases Today: Easter Fallout

It'll come as no surprise to anybody that I didn't get around to a LWRT post last week, but at the same time I wasn't particularly impressed with any of the albums from that Friday so here we are, another bumper edition of this wholly unnecessary feature I keep trying to make happen. Apologies for how Wall Of Text this post is too - still haven't quite figured that one out.

Albums and an EP Released Last Week:

Allan Kingdom - Lines I loved Allan Kingdom's Northern Lights project that he released at the start of 2016 so naturally I was expecting big things from his proper debut album. Overall, it's pretty much a disappointment. Kingdom seems to have dumbed down his material lyrically and his unique vocals and rapping style is far less apparent throughout. We do get a bit of this on opener 'Perfection' but unfortunately it doesn't last. There's really nothing endearing about this record and given Allan Kingdom's potential, it's a real shame. 4/14 tracks added to library.

Bishop Briggs - Bishop Briggs I've never really listened to Bishop Briggs before but it's fairly rapidly apparent that although the music she does is not something I like, she's very good at what she does. She bridges between indie singer/songwriter and alternative pop star which makes for quite an interesting bunch of songs. 'The Way I Do' and earlier single 'Wild Horses' are the standouts for me. If Bishop Briggs is pushed in the right places to the right audiences she could very well be huge. 2/6 tracks added to library.

Blood Youth - Beyond Repair Blood Youth were one of my tips for this year, I think in essence they're one of the best new heavy bands the UK has to offer... but this album is exactly what I didn't want from them. Firstly, I'm quite stumped on the production quality throughout the record because their EPs (at the time at least) sounded really polished, but this sounds like the quartet have reverted back to square one, which is really confusing. I mean, that snare sound from the word go in opener 'Making Waves' is pretty offensive. Whilst this album has received rave reviews from some rock publications, it just does metal "alright" and definitely does not re-invent the wheel. 2/10 tracks added to library.

Cold War Kids - LA DIVINE Cold War Kids are one of those bands I've been low key into for the last ten years but I've never really properly invested in. Well, that's changed upon the lead up to their sixth studio (?!) album. Although at times the tracklisting seems a little peculiar - 'Can We Hang On?' as the second track? - I really enjoyed this album. It's exciting to hear a band this far into their career still able to create a body of work that is this inventive and well-paced. I would very much be up for seeing this band live at some point in the near future. 7/14 tracks added to library.

Joey Bada$$ - All Amerikkkan Bada$$ - Joey Badass is one of those rappers who I know is good but so often he does hip hop in such a straight up 90s inspired manner that I find it hard to connect with. I'm a fan of the more pop tinged tracks on this album like 'TEMPTATION' and 'For My People'. Joey Badas$$ takes a very political standpoint for much of this record but it's done in a really digestable manner whereby it doesn't feel as though he's preaching the changes he desires on you, the listener. By way of that, a lot of the lyrics in these tracks stand out, for example, "Still got the last names of our slave owners" on 'LAND OF THE FREE', and "No I'm not a chicken, I never listen to FOX News" on 'SUPER PREDATOR'. Although it's not "for me", this is my second favourite hip hop album of the fortnight. 4/12 tracks added to library.

John Mayer - The Search For Everything I'm still quite taken aback that I've found John Mayer material that I like, but that hasn't stopped me from being highly confused about the state of The Search For Everything's release strategy. The first eight tracks were released across two four-track EPs and then the final four were plonked on the end of the album's release. I'll let it slide this time but if everybody could refrain from this in the future, that would be desirable. The acoustic slow croony songs on here are terrible, but the more upbeat pop songs are very good. 4/12 tracks added to library.

Kendrick Lamar - DAMN. I don't deal particularly well with Kendrick Lamar's music. I also don't deal particularly well with concept albums of hidden themes and clever shit like that, so going in to DAMN. I knew I wasn't going to feel the same about it at a lot of other people instantly did. In fact, the first third of the album I dismissed entirely on first listen. In a similar vein to Joey Bada$$, Kendrick does a lot of music that has very little pop sensibility to it and I find that quite tough to connect with. Honestly I'm just not the least bit fussed about ever having to hear any of these songs again, although I guess I enjoyed 'LOVE.'. No tracks added to library.

The Maine - Lovely Little Lonely The new and sixth studio album from The Maine is a peculiar affair for a myriad of reasons, most notably is that it isn't bad at all. I guess The Maine were kind of like the LANY of 2008, and in that respect, it's quite impressive that they've matured just the right amount to make a decent pop rock album almost ten years later. In addition to that, this record absolutely flies by, and 34 minutes feels more like 3-4 minutes. I can't imagine many people will pay attention to the existence of this release, but you have nothing to lose in doing so. 5/12 tracks added to library.

Spit Syndicate - One Good Shirt Had Us All Fly 2017: The year I fell in love with Sydney based hip hop projects. This is Spit Syndicate's fourth album (kind of... not including their mixtapes or One Day  (their crew) projects). The thing about this kind of hip hop coming out of Australia is that these artists know exactly how to balance fun tracks like 'Inhibitions' with songs that have a genuine political stance like 'Not In My Name'. This is undoubtedly my favourite album of the month, I'd say. 9/12 tracks added to library.

Tinie Tempah - Youth Sure, we may not have had a proper album from Tinie Tempah for four years, but was anybody really asking for a 17 track record from the guy? Pretty sure we weren't, but it's what we've received. Tinie Tempah is just not an album artist, is he? There are also points, 'Holy Moly' in particular, where I'm like "... does Tinie Tempah reckon he's a credible rapper?" but then there are tracks like 'Girls Like' and 'Not Letting Go' which are undeniably huge pop songs. It's almost impressive how hit or miss the tracks are on Youth because there's pretty much no in between. I don't think I'm even mad about nigh on every song having at least one featured artist, that seems to make sense for an artist like Tinie Tempah but it's emphasised more by the unnecessary length of the album as a whole. 4/17 tracks added to library.