Wednesday, 19 April 2017

VIDEO PREMIERE: Hard Times

Paramore are back with some new musical magic for our ears in the form of 80s inspired electronic rock and I'm absolutely here for it, but we'll get to that. Check out the new video first...




I'll try and keep this short because I could go on about this for a while. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from "Hard Times" as the first single from the new record After Laughter (out on the 12th of May). With Zac's return I did expect a bit of influence from his current project HalfNoise. However I'd be lying if I didn't say that a large part of me was hoping that they'd return to their earlier, angsty rock sound, but I wasn't surprised or disappointed when I heard something similar to their poppier self-titled sound. The new visual is a blessing on the eyes - it was beautiful to see Zac behind that kit for the first time in a long time and once again Hayley's vocals are without fault, unmistakable and a very welcomed sound after four years since their last release. All in all, the song is well written and super catchy, it just missed that je ne sais quoi for me. If it's anything to go by, I don't think that this record will top Brand New Eyes in my opinion, but it definitely has the potential to surpass my feelings on the self-titled. Time will tell...

Monday, 10 April 2017

Gig Review: Welcome To Wonderland (Little Simz + Friends)

When I made the list of shows I had coming up this year, this one alongside the few summer festivals I have coming up (stay tuned) were at the very top. Little Simz continues to blow me away, musically and just in general as a human being. Boasting two independently released albums, a plethora of features/collaborations, and just twenty three years of age; she's now here to blow London of its feet with her own mini-festival. Mind boggling doesn't even cut it!

First up for me was Tiffany Gouché. I had a listen to her record Pillow Talk before going. Her sensual jazzy vibes definitely peaked my interest on that and watching her perform firmly cemented that interest. As it was one of the earlier performances, at first she came on stage to a noisy crowd, chatting amongst themselves but once she started singing, she quickly captured the room's attention. Despite minor technical difficulties, Tiffany managed to play a set that I'm sure stayed fresh in people's minds long after the evening was over.

Next up, Sipprell. Probably the newcomer that I was most excited to see. After checking out her EP Letter D and her single "Journey" I was 100% sold. If you don't know her yet, please don't hesitate to check out her stuff. Lovely, lovely voice. The only shame about this performance was that because of where the stage was placed, it was hard to get a good view if you weren't right at the front and it was also hard to hear everything as the surrounding sounds interfered. A real shame, but the parts of the set I did catch were impressive and I'm very sure I'll be seeing her around in the future.

Afterwards, up on the same stage, were Space Age. Anyone who knows about Little Simz and her crew, knows that their talents are most certainly not restricted to music. The collective also showcased own-brand clothing for sale on the night, and although the space in the Roundhouse wasn't the biggest to work with for a multi-stage mini-fest, they used the space well. Despite the issues I had with the staging, they really showed that the phrase "iron sharpens iron" is true. You can tell that as a collective (Simz included) they all came up together and although each creatively different, each shone the same light.

Back to the main stage to post up for Mick Jenkins. What a guy! By the time his set finished up I was really thinking "Man, if I didn't know any better I could've thought this was his headline show" - if only I realised what was to come. As expected he played jams from his latest record The Healing Component. I shouldn't have been surprised at how many people knew his songs and the lyrics but seeing him take over the room like that, made me have a much higher appreciation for not just his music but also for him as a performer. If you're not already familiar with his work I would definitely recommend checking him out. He's over on UK/EU shores quite a few times this summer so if you're heading to a summer festival, be sure to look out for his name.

Now - Little Simz. I was not ready!!! After watching her at Reading Fest last year performing with just a DJ, in front of about 50/60 people the juxtaposition of seeing her kitted out with a full band playing to thousands of people hanging onto her every word, every movement. It was a complete 180. Playing songs mostly from her latest release Stillness In Wonderland, Simbi was enjoying each song just as much as we were. Of course it wouldn't be a Simz show without an appearance from some friends - Space Age popped up on stage to drop some more bars, and during her hit "King Of Hearts" leading onto "Dead Body" we welcomed to the stage Chip, Ghetts, Stormzy and then Kano. The crowd was absolutely beside themselves! The word "reload" was being thrown around all over the place! This evening lit a fire under everybody in attendance. Particularly creatives - after speaking to a few people afterwards, many said that this show gave them an extra spurt of energy, inspiration and hope. Little Simz, smashed it and the maddest thing is, I don't even think that's half of what she has to bring to the table. All I can say is watch this space very, very closely.

Overall rating - 9/10


Here are some pictures from the night... 




Saturday, 8 April 2017

Gig Review: Princess Nokia

I'd been excited for this show from the minute I booked the ticket. As soon as we got into the venue the vibes were heavy - so many beautiful people, so many great auras. It just felt like we were a huge collective... maybe it's because it was only my second show of the year, or maybe because it had been so long since I went to a show to watch a female lead, but something about the vibe at this show was different.

First up DJ-ing the night was LSDXOXO. I've never been the biggest fan of having DJs as support acts where the main act isn't also a DJ if I'm honest, but like I said, this night was different. The tracks he played slowly started grabbing my attention as people milled about finding their spots, then  I found myself bopping my head, and before long my friends and I were shacking out as he played banger after banger. It wasn't even the kind of set where you could guess the next few tracks just by listening to the bpm - every few songs he was hitting us with the unexpected. One minute we're getting down to Migos then the next we were throwing up arms and belting out Evanescence. Doors opened at 7; Princess Nokia didn't come on until around 9:30 and to be honest the crowd was entertained pretty much the entire time. 100% would love to catch a set again.

When Princess Nokia stepped on stage it seemed like everything just sped up. Before I knew it surprisingly she'd already charged through her biggest hits "Tomboy"and "Kitana" and my friends and I were left trying to recollect and to catch our breath. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't completely caught up but also a little sceptical about what she would now finish with. Silly me I guess - by the time the show was coming to an end she'd already won hearts and minds. Don't be fooled by her small silhouette; Ms Destiny boasts an overwhelming presence, on stage and off. This could've been a living room or an arena and her presence would have filled it all the same. As she made her way through tracks from her most recent release 1992, she managed to bring the crowd further into her world, speaking on her upbringing, heritage and even hair woes, and after talking to some people after the show it was obvious that energies were high all round. Everyone saw something that they could relate to at that show, whether it came from Nokia herself, or just from seeing themselves represented in the crowd at a rap show, everybody felt like they belonged to something even if only for those few hours. A true testament to the way Destiny prides herself on creating safe spaces for her audiences (women and women of colour in particular). I will most definitely be seeing her again in the future I'm sure and needless to say, I'm buzzing for whatever she drops next. It was a real celebration. 

Overall Rating - 8.5/10


Here are some pictures from the night...





Thursday, 6 April 2017

PSA: REBRAND

First things first, apologies! You might have noticed that I haven't updated the blog in quite a few months and if you don't already follow along on Instagram and/or Twitter, then you won't know that it's because I'm coming to the final stages of my degree and so have been busy with coursework, exams, etc... But there is some good news!!

Despite the blog posts being few and far between, I haven't been completely dormant these past few months. I'm in the middle of working on a blog rebrand, so finally a change of background (I know, I know), finally a new logo, and all that good stuff! With a fresh start I want to start with fresh posts so leading up to the rebrand, I'll get those belated gig reviews up and a couple of other things that I've had opinions about over the past few weeks, before coming in with new gig reviews, festival reviews (because Lord knows the line-ups this year are absolutely mindboggling and I just couldn't stay away!), some new features and a few other new surprises before the year comes to an end.

Thanks to those who've been bearing with me. University should be done and dusted by the end of next month so all I'll say is watch this space until then!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Music News

It's been a long time since I've dedicated a post to music news, especially with Instagram around, but there's been a ridiculous amount of musical gems popping up over the past few weeks! So I thought, as a belated Valentine's Day treat I'd give you some new music to listen to for the rest of the month.

LITTLE DRAGON NEW MUSIC VIDEO "HIGH"
So very, very smooth. It's a breath of fresh air having new Little Dragon music in my life. As always this track is coated with their signature soulful sound with the added hazy undertones; it's got me buzzing for their next record. Nabuma Rubberband was a quality, classic record but if "High" is anything to go by, then Little Dragon haven't stopped growing, and the next record will be memorable to say the least.


THE STAVES NEW MUSIC VIDEO "TIRED AS FUCK"
I have to say I was a little surprised at this title coming from The Staves, but also super excited to see whether it brought with it a bit of a new sound. In regards to the video and the song, I love the minimalist feel to it. Those three part harmonies will never, ever get old to me. Not so much a new sound to it but the electric guitar definitely brings a fresher feel and a harder edge to it. "Tired As Fuck" is definitely a new favourite of mine.


SiR NEW MUSIC VIDEO "ALL IN MY HEAD"
I hadn't heard much about SiR up until recently with him featuring on Isaiah Rashad's and Little Simz's records, and after finding out that he was part of TDE he had my full attention. As soon as the beat kicked in on this track I thought of Anderson .Paak. That soulful bass has run throughout so many of my recent favourite songs, and I think it's time to add "All In My Head" to that list.


SEVDALIZA NEW MUSIC VIDEO "AMANDINE INSENSIBLE"
A shamefully fairly recent discovery for me - Sevadaliza has the potential to be a serious gamechanger and we have the pleasure coming into contact with her right now. Honestly, true artist. This new video for "Amandine Insensible" shows just that. Simple but mesmirising. The instrumental on this song reminded me of some of James Blake's material too.


CHAPEL NEW MUSIC VIDEO "FOOL'S GOLD"
I've been interested in Chapel ever since I found out that Kortney Grinwis was the drummer and when they dropped "Fool's Gold" it was my first chance to properly listen to their material. I love what I'm hearing on this single! The video is neither here nor there for me but it's a great song. Now that they're under Rise Records, I'm expecting something pretty exciting for their next release.


GRIMES FEAT. JANELLE MONAE NEW MUSIC VIDEO "VENUS FLY"
I'm not sure what I was expecting sound-wise from this collaboration but as soon as I saw Grimes and Janelle Monae in the same sentence I knew that aesthically this would be unforgettable. After watching, I stand by that 100% - this video is phenomenal. On the first few watches it was impossible to take my eyes off of it. In terms of the song, at first it was a little bit take-it-or-leave-it for me, but with the video so ingrained in my mind, I couldn't help but find the song there too.


WILD BEASTS NEW MUSIC VIDEO "ALPHA FEMALE" 
Okay! Again this is a video that I can get behind. I love this theme, I love these visuals. After listening to Wild Beasts' record Boy King last year I can't say that "Alpha Female" stuck out as a main highlight for me back then but after hearing it alongside this visual I might be listening a little bit differently from now on.


M.I.A. NEW SINGLE "P.O.W.A" 
After being dormant for quite a while now M.I.A. is back with this new release and I have to say, I'm not all that impressed. As a single it's really just not the most enjoyable in my opinion. The video definitely boosts its memorability - after all M.I.A. has always had a way with visuals but I just needed "P.O.W.A" to bring an audio to match and it did not in this case.


MAC DEMARCO NEW SINGLE "THIS OLD DOG"
Old man Mac - it's been a while. "This Old Dog" is the title track from his new album dropping on the 5th of May. This peaceful, Sunday afternoon, summer stroll track took me back to summer 2013 where I was listening to things like Bibio, Darwin Deez, Delphic, etc... It would have fit in perfectly back then and I have no doubts that this new album will be featured heavily in my summer 2017.


ARCANE ROOTS NEW MUSIC VIDEO "CURTAINS" 
This video for "Curtains" has actually been out for a while now and the single since last year but I had to say something about it because I like the song so much and the video is just as compelling. The video left me pretty speechless after first watch if I'm honest. It was almost exactly what I'd pictured (except, better) after listening to the single so many times before. Arcane Roots are not a band to overlook right now I'm telling you.


GRAMMY'S IN GENERAL... 
Well I'm sure by now everyone's heard about the Grammy's and all the "scandalous" events and wardrobe malfunctions. Aside from that - the performances. I'm just going to come out and say it - Beyoncé, Beyoncé, Beyoncé, wow. What a goddess. Chance the Rapper, again with a soulful and inspiring performance. To name drop a few others - Metallica and Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, ATCQ and Anderson .Paak, and Adele. All amongst stand out performances across the night. What a spectacle.


That's not even the half of it for music news over the past couple of weeks but it's just a few standouts and things that I found particularly exciting to tide you over into March. Keep your eyes peeled for more musical goodness over the rest of the month.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Album Review: Process

Well, you know what they say, "good things come to those who wait" and that could not be truer of Sampha's debut. I'd like to say that I was cautiously optimistic on first listen but mostly I was just itching to have it on repeat. This came to us on a day of music release mayhem and it's made a point to standout...


1. Plastic 100°C
Out of the non-singles, this song is my current favourite. Sampha has one of the most distinct voices around at the moment and whilst rising to the top; when his voice chimes in on this track, the sound just washes over you. I remember thinking, "this is a song that I could wake up to for years to come". Every time I hear this, it sounds like a new beginning. Talk about starting as you mean to go on... 

2. Blood On Me
Prior to listening, this was my favourite single and one of my favourite songs and videos released last year. Now, having listened to it in the context of the album, more than ever, the feeling still stands. As familiar as it sounded, it was given a new lease of life on the album and although I didn't think that I could - I love it even more. So intricate and so simple.
 
3. Kora Sings 
I would love to hear a Hiatus Kaiyote remix of this one actually. The instrumental wins this song hands down for me; I was just immersed in the way that the beat transitions. So many influences held together with Sampha's signature sound. Strong track and early standout for me.
 
4. (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano
After listening to Sampha's Dual EP over the last 3/4 years, as soon as I heard the opening chords on this single it brought me back to those six tracks and how much they made me appreciate piano-centric music. Hearing his vocals on this song I could feel every word he sang, and finding out that he wrote this album and in particular this song, shortly after his mother died; only made me adore it even more. 
 
5. Take Me Inside
This was probably the least memorable song on the album for me after first listen. Although listening to it as I write this, I can say that it's good song, something about it just underwhelms me unfortunately. To me it felt a lot more like an interlude than a full length song. However, I love the way it seamlessly bleeds into the next...
  
6. Reverse Faults 
So I'll be spontaneously singing "took the breakpads out the car", for the next few weeks. The beat after this line is one of those 'close your eyes, lift your hands' kinds of beats. This track and the next might be the most different of the ten but here it fits in so, so perfectly; you almost don't notice the vibe change. This might turn out to be the dark horse that people refer to whenever you discuss the album. 

7. Under
My feelings towards this song change every time I listen to it. Occasionally it feels like a b-side, but then I listen again and it holds my attention and leaves me wanting more. Maybe after a few more listens I'll have a more committed feeling for this one.

8. Timmy's Prayer 
Here's the single that I'm waiting to listen to live. At first I didn't latch onto it as much as the general public did. Then I heard it after a while on 'Insecure' and gave it another chance. Since then, it's grown on me more. My head knows that this is probably one of the strongest songs all-round on the record, but whenever I've come back to the album, it's sadly not been near the top of my list to go to.

9. Incomplete Kisses 
Almost as soon as this track started, I had a visual in my head. A while ago I read a comment on YouTube where the person had written "this must be what colour sounds like". In a way, I feel that with this; like when you listen to a song and you imagine yourself in the video, here I see it as if watching a dream.

10. What Shouldn't I Be?  
What I think Sampha's managed to do beautifully with this album is create a clear journey. Every feeling that has brought me to this closer was vivid and distinct. Also, this is one of the most, dare I say it, exquisite songs of 2017 - and I know it's only February but I say that with the confidence that it will likely not be outdone by many. 


I think with this album I just have to remind myself that it's actually a debut record, because as a debut, it's near-on remarkable. After all of the anticipation, I have to say that I was a tiny bit disappointed with parts of the record. Some of the standouts made the "good-but-not-great" tracks easier to pick out and a little less memorable in my opinion, and I think that I prefer the first half to the second. However, this album lyrically is one of the most beautiful pieces I've come across in a while. I will definitely be returning to a lot of this for years to come, but whether or not I'll listen to it over and over again as a whole, remains to be seen. After I catch him live next month I'm sure that I'll return to the album and hear something completely different.  

Overall Rating - 8/10



Friday, 3 February 2017

Gig Review: Declan McKenna

After finding out about Declan last year on BBC's Sound of 2017 longlist I wanted to catch him as soon as possible before he blew up; so when I saw that he was playing in one of my favourite Birmingham small music venues (Hare & Hounds) it was an absolute no-brainer. It also didn't hurt to have this show start off my gigs of 2017.

Supporting on the night were Leeds-based band Clay. I'd not heard of them prior and I have to say I'm a little surprised and disappointed that I hadn't - I definitely need to do more research on new Indie bands/artists because bands like these should be all over my radar. Straight off the bat they had a sound that could easily fill up a much bigger space than they were playing and each of their personalities came through clearly on stage even before they each spoke. Great stage presence and good banter from the lead singer. In terms of music, they do Indie Pop pretty well and their live material translates way better than their studio. Most memorable track for me was "6AM", but all in all, they provided good vibes to kick off the night.

Following a great mix of tracks in the interval ranging from Madonna to ABBA to Dizzee Rascal; Declan and co stepped on stage full of confidence and quiet excitement and I couldn't help but feel like I was in a scene from the movie Sing Street (if you haven't seen it yet, do, it's an amazing watch). Now with my new knowledge of Declan McKenna, I only knew a few of his songs but my favourite beforehand was "Isombard" so in my head I was thinking "yeah, he'll probably finish with that". Before I could even finish thinking about the setlist, I was hearing the opening notes of "Isombard" drowned out by the crowd's cheers and being swept up by the leaping bodies. From that moment on, I knew I was in for a fun set. As the show went on the crowd only got more and more raucous and a clear divide was beginning to form in the room between the "young adults" and the "younger adults" but nonetheless as I teetered between the two I felt good energy across the room. By the end of the set, half of the crowd was jumping about on stage as party balloons floated around searching for flailing hands. Stand-out new listens for me were "Humungous" and "Paracetamol" - I can't remember the last time in the past couple years that I came across an indie artist Declan's age or to be honest of any age, with such ear-catching songwriting abilities. He's a true creative and I am absolutely buzzing for his debut album to drop this year.

Overall Rating - 7.5/10


Here are some pictures from the night...