Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Records on Repeat

Music gives soul to the world.

Gruff earthy vocals with clashing messy instrumentals:

Destroyer - Dream Lover

What happens when you put the bassist from The Strokes with some girls from The Like, well, this cool little tune:

The Summer Moon - Happenin'

I adore Florence, but wasn't particularly amazed by her last single 'Ship to Wreck', from her recently released 3rd album, HOWEVER, this song puts her back on the top spot:

Florence & the machine - Delilah

Monday, 25 May 2015

Gig Review: Django Django, Manchester Cathedral, 23rd May 2015

I've only ever stepped into a Cathedral before as part of a school trip, where I learnt how to do calligraphy. (Unfortunately my handwriting hasn't stayed as neat) This time though I was visiting Manchester Cathedral for some live music, perhaps a little different to the organ and choir that you may expect in such a building.

I was there for a Django Django gig (it's what God would have wanted) and so for a night of first's, this was to be the first time I would see this band live, something I'd intended to do since 2012 when their debut album was released.

It may have taken me 3 years, but it turned out it was worth the wait. Manchester Cathedral was an impressive choice of location, the high ceilings, the stained glass windows, the cold stone walls.

The first support act - Hot Vestry were pretty decent starting the show with some electro 80s sounds that got people dancing about or swaying at the very least; they were followed by Roller Trio an instrumental band that were undeniably very talented musicians - the saxophonist in particular was incredible, however, after a few songs I actually started to get a bit bored and moved away from te stage and headed to the 'stand' where they were serving beers and ciders from a big ice bucket. For some reason, they don't have fully functioning bars in cathedrals. I was (as much as I hate to say this) kind of glad when their set was over.

Nevertheless, despite what I felt may have been a slightly poor choice for a second support act I was very excited for Django Django to take to the stage, and they were brilliant. They played a variety of tracks from their two albums - not one weak, even though the stuff from their first is still my favourite, the light show as much as the bands performance made the whole evening seem even more unique. However, their impressive choice of visuals did come at a cost, when during 'Waveforms' the power actually blew, the crowd dedicated to the cause carried on singing the vocals for a while after (while me and a few others believed this to be a planned part of the act! It wasn't) after a short while they began the song again only for the power to blow again(!), this time all the lights went out... half an hour later without a word from anyone.. the band reappeared on stage, 'less lights this time' and performed the track for the third time, and yes third time lucky the system held out. The rest of the set was fun and the band didn't let it effect their performance, but, a part of me had started to lose some enthusiasm from waiting around for so long and it had killed my vibe a little. Maybe God wasn't happy about the booze and music after all.

But although there may have been a few glitches, Django Django did wow live, they are without a doubt at their best in front of a crowd, I may have enjoyed listening to them in many a location, place and time, but seeing them live made me realise that that's what brings their music to life.

Luckily, I will be catching them again at End of the Road festival in September (maybe you should too) - I just hope they don't blow the power system there. Kaboom.

In the meantime, here's 'Waveforms':

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Records on Repeat

It's been a long time since I posted my Record on Repeat, so instead of the usual 3, here's 5 or 6 instead:

Alessia Cara - Here

Edgy pop from this 18 yr old

Tame Impala - Eventually

Proving that indie can be exciting and funky

Moses Sumney - Seeds

Twisted folkyness (yep, folkyness)

Wild Beasts - Woebegone Wanders II

A secondary outtake from one of my favourite albums last yr - 'Present Tense'

Jamie XX (feat. Romy) - Loud Places

Superb dance track with the mellow ghostly XX vocals

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Gig Review: Nick Mulvey, Albert Hall - Manchester, 23rd March 2015

On a Monday night you don't want the smell of vomit, you obviously don't want that smell on any night, however, on a Monday somehow it seems worse. The fact I was at the Albert Hall and could smell vomit was just a clear sign that an eager 15 yr old had drunk a bit too much Carling for one night and at £4 a can had probably spent a bit too much pocket money too. Thankfully one of the poor staff came to clear it up and soon bleach filled our nostrils instead.

Vomit aside, the Albert Hall (as I have mentioned before) is my favourite gig venue in Manchester, this time I had what I think is the prime spot - the balcony directly facing the stage, it provided the perfect view of the whole place and straight in my eyeline stood 30 year old Mulvey.  Originally part of Portico Quartet until 2011 when he started his solo career - Nick Mulvey is an exceptionally talented guitar player, even non-fans couldn't argue with that, it just so happens he is a talented lyricist and vocalist too.

There are a few acoustic male solo artists around that he made be compared to such as Ben Howard or Jose Gonzalez and there are similarities, however, this is mainly just because he's a guy with a guitar, his songs are still distinct and his vocals different from any other he may be compared with.

His 'Fever to the Form' EP is what got me hooked in and when I first heard his track 'Nitrous' on 6Music last year I loved it, especially because it sampled Olive - 'You're not alone', since then he has released his album 'First Mind', which received a Mercury nomination and has seen him confirm his place in the UK charts as well as approval by the music people of the UK.

Live, I can assure you he's truly brilliant, his set gave me the warm and fuzzy feeling that only brilliant live music can give me, there was so much emotion and passion in each song, on stage with his live band it made the whole hall come alive, but on his own, spotlight shining, just his soulful voice and classic guitar, he produced a wave of chills. Hearing the crowd singing back to him, was almost choir-like and made it even more special. His cover of Drake's 'I'm coming home' was a nice surprise, nevertheless, my favourite performances came with 'Fever to the Form', 'First Mind' and most of all 'I don't want to go home' - a song that tells a tale of love at Glastonbury.

I really do think the Albert Hall makes any artist and any gig seem a hundred times better, but Nick Mulvey made me fall in love with the place even more.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Records on Repeat

Chromatics - I can never be myself when you're around

electro pop, messy synths, echoing and breathy vocals - memersing.

Jenny Hval - That battle is over

Showing something so simple can be so powerful. Slightly Moloko-esque but slower and weirder.

Major Lazer - Lean On
(feat: MO)

More great female vocals on this party dance track, get yourself in the groove.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Records on Repeat

There's always a bit of bias here and there in life and sometimes there can be bias in music too; so, it may seem when I recommend this EP that that's all it is - bias...It most definitely isn't. These songs may be written and produced by someone that's pretty important to me, but, that doesn't alter the fact that they are wonderful:

'Sirens, Swimming' is my number one. 

And what's even better is that you can actually download them for free. Give your ears a treat..x

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Records on Repeat

The Weather Station - Way it is, Way it could be

Gentle & folky, perfect listening for a Sunday morning.

Hot Chip - Hurache Lights 

Hot Chip are back and this makes for the perfect dance disco track.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi-Love

Sounds like a remix, but an amazing one. Sweet keys and funky drums.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Gig Review: The War on Drugs - Albert Hall, Manchester - 19th February 2015.

I turned the rock n' roll age of 27 this week, and what better way to see in the start of your birthday celebrations than with a gig?! I also love the Albert Hall in Manchester it is definitely one of the best gig venues about - the converted Chapel Hall is grand with it's lovely stained glass windows and high ceilings, it really does need to be experienced to be appreciated fully.

The first song I heard from The War on Drugs I didn't really like, I listened to the first minute and dismissed it as boring, but then a few weeks later I decided I probably hadn't given them enough chance - they do sound like a mixture of Bruce Springsteen, Dire Straits and Future Islands with a sprinkling of Bob Dylan here and there, but that definitely doesn't make them boring. I admit my initial quick judgment was wrong.

The band are from Philadelphia and have been releasing albums since 2008, however, it was only at the beginning of 2014 when I first discovered their music just after the band released their most recent album 'Lost in the Dream'.

At the Albert Hall it was packed out - for the 2nd night in a row - two sell out gigs back to back in Manchester for our American friends and unsurprisingly so, the performance was stunning. To look at the crowd you may think the fans were unenthusiastic when really most people were almost frozen to the spot in awe of the music being performed for them.

Songs like 'Suffering' and 'Eyes to the wind' were particularly beautiful, but the more uptempo songs like 'Red Eyes' did get everyone going - specifically a guy next to me who definitely had some of the best 'embarrassing uncle at a wedding' dance moves I have seen in a very long time. It was great though to see people of all ages appreciating music together - this band would please the dads, the middle aged and the youngsters who are only just dipping their toes into the indie-rock world.

Please give them a listen, and make sure you give them more than a minute of your time:

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Gig Review: Elbow, Manchester Apollo, 6th February 2015

Elbow - I feel like they've been around forever, not like that annoying cold you can't shake off, but more like that warm cosy jumper you have worn every winter for the past 10 years. When I hear their music, when I hear Guy Garvey's voice, I feel that comfort and contentment.

This gig would be the 4th time I'd seen Elbow live, the first time was at my first ever festival, I was a keen 16 year old then and spent a solid 4 hours at the front of the stage, unable to drink in case I needed a wee and had to give up my prime spot! Now a little less dedicated to being a front rower at gigs, I'm happy as long as I've got a decent viewing spot and am not being dry humped by the person squeezed in behind me.

Six albums in and their talent shows no signs of fading, their sound is distinct - Garvey's vocals instantly recognisable on any song and some of their anthems make for some of the best British records of the past decade: 'A Day Like This', 'Grounds for Divorce', 'Lippy Kids' but a few to mention, these 3 unsurprisingly made it into their set at the Apollo. The Apollo in Manchester is a brilliant venue - the sloped floor a dream for anyone under 6ft as most of the time it means you can still see the stage - and the place is big enough to feel like you're part of something and small enough that you don't feel lost.

So despite this, having seen Elbow a few times before, this was my first time in Manchester - there's always something a bit special about seeing a band in their hometown, you can feel the shared pride between the band and the audience - a mutual understanding of what the city means to them. And you could certainly feel that in the atmosphere as Elbow took to the stage on Friday 6th February in Manchester.

Guy Garvey loved us and we loved him - every song they played sounded amazing and felt amazing to witness, the only odd choice was part of their encore - 'Birds', which in my opinion isn't the greatest track, so probably could have been scrapped from the set, but that slight grumble aside,  finishing on 'My Sad Captains' (arguably their best song to date) from their latest studio album was just right.

Garvey's humour and wit added to the shows charm - he joked about being reviewed in the MEN for the performance the night before and the writer describing him as a sociology teacher, he shouted "I'm too fucking mad and bad to be a teacher" we lapped it up, laughing along, putty in the palm of this sociology teacher's hands.

Highlights for me, as well as the obvious big hitters, were 'The Bones of You' and 'Switching Off'  - two gorgeous songs. They've got the British melancholy spot on, in the instruments, in the vocals and the lyrics are a poetry that entwines eloquence with street talk - there could be wording about the beauty of the world and getting pissed up in Salford all at once and somehow it works and it will continue to work, because the music is great and the fans are dedicated, especially the Northerners (of which I am an now an honorary one).

Switching Off -  x

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Gig Review: King Creosote - Manchester Academy, 27/01/15

King Creosote has over forty albums, forty! That's incredible. Although I imagine when you make forty albums at least a few might be a bit rubbish. Overall though, the songs and albums I have listened to are not that, quite the opposite - they are pretty lovely.

His latest album 'From Scotland with Love' was released in 2014 and it is truly gorgeous.

I only know a few of his songs well, well enough to be able to sing along too, but unlike for other artists or for other gigs when this can make me feel like a bit of a fraud fan, this didn't, it felt relaxed, comfortable, a captive audience not shouting or dancing about, but listening and engaging with the music. He's actually quite funny too, which was nice, and he seemed just like a guy you'd meet in the pub and have a chat about your dislike for the rainy weather and drink a few double whiskeys together.

On stage at the Manchester Academy 3 (a venue a bit like a school hall) he was joined  by a violinist, keyboardist, backing vocals, guitar, drums, chello, double bass - he basically had a full (but very small) orchestra there and it brought the place to life. Most of his songs are melancholy, gentle and full of emotion - matching his emotive voice greatly and turning them into wonders with the live band.

As far as singer-songwriters go he's up there with the best and I'm not sure he realises it, and that kind of makes it all the more special.

My new favourite song is 'Kirby Grips', which unfrotuntaely I cannot provide any links to, as I can't locate in on the usual youtube/soundcloud/spotify places, it features on an EP called 'On this Island' that was released last year. It's probably worth purchasing the EP for that song alone.

So, instead here's a great one from his latest album: