Young Guns are one of those bands that can’t seem to do any wrong. Talent seems to ooze out of every aspect of them and sometimes it’s easy to forget that their new album is only their second.
It isn’t often you hear electro genres mix with the metal genre, but when you do it sounds something like Enter Shikari. The band has recently released their third studio album ‘A Flash Flood of Colour’ and it is as politically charged as ever. It is full of chunky metal riffs and beats from various genres including dubstep and electronica. Usually you wouldn’t expect these to mix very well, and on paper I wouldn’t consider this music that good; but there is something special about this band. Maybe it is their passion for music, which can be seen in the energy they put into their songs. Perhaps it is their meaningful lyrics that question our society and the governments that run it. Whatever it is it works for them and music fans are grateful for it.
Since The Black Keys arrival in 2001 the music scene has been gifted with something new and refreshing. If the saying ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ applied anywhere, then it would apply here, as they have to stuck to what they are good at and built around it. Releasing their seventh studio album El Camino at the end of 2011, these guys have flooded their listeners ears with dirty guitar riffs, distorted vocals and whiskey fuelled songs that we have all become familiar with.
2011 has been a strange but wonderful year for music. We have seen the musical world take a far more dark and gritty turn, with some artists pushing it to the limit with what the say and talk about in their music. Here is a list of the albums I have rated the best.
X Factor finalist Olly Murs is back with his sophmore album, and it's easy to say that he is back with style. Having already released a hit record the previous year, he has definitely returned with something to rival it.
Having been around for more than a decade Coldplay have become one of the most successful bands on the planet, in that time they have released four astonishing albums that have set the bench mark for British alternative rock.
After spending nearly two decades in Oasis it is hard to imagine Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds debut album ‘Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ sounding any different to Oasis or being anywhere near as good. To my pleasant surprise it was. The record contains ten short sweet tracks of that classic Brit-Pop sound, which pushed Noel into the superstar fame, with a modern touch to it.
Whilst being recorded, it was said that some of the songs on the album had the potential to be as big as Oasis’ big hits. After listening to tracks such as ‘Stop All The Clocks’ which is one of the strongest tracks on the album it is easy to see why this statement had been made; it has the potential, with the right exposure, to be as big of a hit as ‘Wonderwall’ was. The record itself still has a very strong sounding resemblance to Oasis, there is something about it however that makes it it’s own, separate from Noel’s past projects. It is full of catchy riffs, memorable lyrics and good composure that makes up good music.
The key element to the CD is the range of instruments used during the songs, there is this constant build up during the verses which leads to this sort of explosion on the chorus making them very powerful and easy to remember. The main negative unfortunately, which is probably the biggest negative in todays music in general is the length of the album, it does feel slightly too short, and it leaves you wanting to hear more.
If you are a fan of Oasis or any Brit-Pop than I would recommend you give this album a listen. It is also a CD to have in your music collection as this is the first release Noel has made since his departure from one of the biggest bands on the planet, Oasis.
Ben Howard was once referred to as so unique that he will make you feel like he is the original troubadour. Whilst that may be a hugely sweeping statement, I find it hard to argue with, he seems to almost be an upbeat Nick Drake. Having released two EP’s already gaining an ever growing fan base his debut album ‘Every Kingdom’ was greeted with high anticipation. It was no surprise that the CD was truly fantastic, everything from the soulful voice, which has a very distinct sound and I feel makes the album, to the lyrics on tracks like ‘Old Pine’. The song that really leapt out at me in front of all other songs in ‘Black Flies’, there is something about its slow slightly dark feel that completely hypnotizes you.
Technically the CD matches up to its expectations as well, bringing that finger picking folk sound to the songs and the way the album has been composed truly does give the whole album a completely original and unique sound. It isn’t too often in songs where you can clearly hear every single instrument being used but you can with this, which is just another plus.
There are no real negatives to this album. There are several songs on the record which have been on EP’s; but those songs have been altered slightly adding a new element to them.
I would definitely recommend you give this album a listen if acoustic music is your thing, and even if it isn’t you will most likely be pleasantly surprised. This really is one of the greater releases of the year and is not one to be missed.
Ed Sheeran is without a doubt one of the most hyped UK artists around at the moment; with the recent release of his debut album ‘+’ there was some serious expectations to live up to.
When I first listened to the album I wasn’t that impressed, it seemed like he had given up some of his quirky style to get the album made, and also a lot of the tracks on the record were already well known, so it seemed to lack anything that new and exciting. On the second listen however I was blown away. The vocals on tracks such as ‘Give Me Love’ are comparable to those of Damien Rice and the lyrics in ‘Kiss Me’ are some of the most poetic songs I’ve ever listened to and stood out as my favourite on the album. What I liked most about the album was the fact that even though there are tracks that have been floating around for a while he has completely reinvented the songs to make them brand new ‘U.N.I.’ and ‘Wake Me Up’ are just a few examples. This man has the poetic ability and guitar skills of Jason Mraz, whilst creating love ballads that can relate to listeners of all ages.
However he isn’t a one themed musician, he covers varying subject matter from love songs, to up beat songs to the more serious ‘The A Team’ telling the story of a young homeless girl who was pushed into prostitution, he even does a version of the old Irish folk song ‘The Parting Glass’.
If you are a fan of the acoustic troubadour then this is definitely an album for you. He is your traditional acoustic singer/songwriter with a twist.
Off to university and thought this was an apt song by Brandon Boyd, to see me on my way…
"It takes courage and control, but you start by letting go"
The song deals with a common theme that Brandon Boyd often talks about, (both in song and in interviews) which is allowing yourself to live a life of expression and freedom of fear of how others might judge you. It can be easy to let this fear control every aspect of your life, from the petty things like how you dress, to more major decisions like what you do for a living or where you live. Without even realizing it, many people make these decisions based on what they feel is expected of them rather than what they may have done if no one judged them.
check it out...
Marmalade Sky are a four piece British rock band from Bristol, their newest EP is quite rightly titled ‘British Boy’. Whilst the band is unsigned, anyone who takes the time to listen to them will be greeted with true great British rock and roll with influences such as The Rolling Stones and The Who.
Alex Clare is a musician based in London; he recently released his debut album ‘Lateness Of The Hour’. The record is a bag full of surprises, containing soulful voice comparable to the likes of John Legend and James Morrison, he also presents some pretty deep lyrics that will touch the listeners. However all this is shrouded with generic dubstep beats, which have become all too common to today’s music listeners. Now this isn’t to say that there is something wrong with dubstep as a genre, but this kind of feels like an attempt to grab extra fans, which is a shame as this album had some real potential.
The Vaccines are the latest craze in the ever-increasing British indie music scene. The release of their debut album What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? was welcomed to widespread acclaim, reaching number four in the UK album charts, not bad for a band that released their CD only ten months after forming.
The band claims to have many musical influences, such as 50s rock ’n’ roll and C86, and have also had comparisons drawn with the likes of The Ramones. These different musical styles can really be heard throughout the different tracks. One rather strong point on the record is the vocal ability of lead singer Justin Young, who not only has one of the most distinctive voices in the industry at present, but is also slightly reminiscent of White Lies lead singer Harry McVeigh.
The album itself is a prime of example of good indie rock, full of catchy guitar jingles and dark lyrics all strung together with an upbeat tempo. However it shouldn’t be treated as yet another commercial indie record. It is well thought out, and what make The Vaccines really special is that they don’t rely on just a single aspect of the band’s skills to make it worth listening to. Instead, each song switches its strongest point from good, meaningful lyrics, such as the song “Post Break-Up Sex,” which shows the bands more hard-hitting emotional side, with lyrics that many who have had break-ups can relate to, to the fast-paced, rhythmic song “Nørgaard,” which shows the airy classic indie talents the band possess and will get stuck in your head for days on end. This is one big positive about the record—the rich amount of variety the CD contains. It really separates the band from the rest. No two tracks are quite identical and will evoke a different emotion in their listeners.
PJ Harvey is a well known English Singer/Songwriter, a veteran in the music scene making her professional debut in the 1990’s. Harvey has been known for changing sound with each new album she releases as to not repeat herself twice. Her newest eighth studio album ‘Let England Shake’ is no exception; we see a very unique idea for an album, one that can only be described as courageous with an artist that has a big following.
The album, which was recorded over a five week period in a church giving a slightly airy feel to it, entered the UK album charts at #8. Harvey sticks with one main theme throughout the CD and that is the sense of ‘English Pride’.
It contains strong undertones of patriotism; with one of the titles itself named England. You really do get this sense of English pride from the album, without the pretentious ‘we are better than everyone’ attitude. The artist claimed she researched historical conflicts whilst creating the record, this influence is made very clear by tracks such as ‘The Glorious’ with bugles playing in the intro. On the whole it seems to give off a slightly more upbeat and less folksy Laura Marling ‘I Speak Because I Can’ vibe. On the downside the album does start to get a bit repetitive as it nears the middle, and transcends from an individual and bold CD of Glorious England into one long list of why England is good.
Samuel Bazan is an unsigned singer/songwriter from Olympia, WA; now living locally in NoHo, who recently recorded his debut album ‘Slow Down’. With many unsigned artists who release their first album, wonderful things can’t really be expected, but Samuel does a very good job of bridging the gap between amateur and quality, recording some catchy alternative rock tracks on the record.
The album, which was self-produced by Samuel, is full of well thought out love songs, with a vocal style and lyrics that will remind his listeners of a young Rob Thomas and guitar skills that are Santana-esque. Some stand out tracks on the CD are ‘Tell Me’ and ‘Forgiveness’ which I think set the general feel of the record. One thing that really stood out above the rest was the lyrics. There are no sound effects or pretentious ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ that you find in so many pop songs; just a man and his words with a good firm musical beat to back him up.
Samuel has certainly made a very solid album and the passion and hard work that has been put into making it can be felt. With more coverage he could have the potential to revive what seemed like a forgotten market in the industry, and with talent like that it is hard to imagine why this guy isn’t signed.
I urge everyone to give this Samuel Bazan a listen, just click the link below:
Benjamin Francis Leftwich is a twenty one year old English Singer-Songwriter from York. His debut album ‘Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm’ hit shelves recently. Whilst this studio album may be the first time a lot of listeners have heard his music, many will feel familiar with it as he is very reminiscent of the late Elliott Smith.
The main strengths of the album are the lyrics, they aren’t just commercial pop songs - they're enchanting heartfelt poems and each track tells a story. Comparisons could be drawn with Damien Rice with the way he makes the listener feel as if they are being allowed to share his personal thoughts.
The new track ‘Holla’ is collaboration between UK artist Priscilla Angelique and US rapper Major D. The song is very unique in its own sense adding something new to the seemingly plastic and repetitive dubstep scene.
What makes the track so enjoyable is the fusion of different influences that make up the song; the dark and grimey bassline/dubstep beats blended with the fast paced West Coast Hip-Hop lyrics. They have taken two very different genres and made them flow surprisingly well. The use of synth sounds are also a nice addition to dress up the music. It isn’t just the sound of the music that makes it good, but the vocals themselves which are very fresh. Priscilla Angelique has that Ms. Dynamite ‘Fire’ feel about her and Major D has a distinct voice and sounds like the track was made for him. This song is perfect addition to your playlist on for a night out and would fill any dancefloor.
They say the sophomore slump is an uphill battle; these words have never been truer than with the release of Reading based band ‘Pete & the Pirates’ new album ‘A Thousand Pictures’. After the critical reception of their first album, great things were expected from the indie boys, but it seems that they have failed to deliver results.
Technically the album can’t be faulted; it contains everything that a good British indie album should have, depressing subject matter and the upbeat sound to go with it. For some reason however, it just has no spark. Perhaps it the way that the record feels like nothing new, just extra songs left off their old album. The band has seemed to have made literally no progression since their last album. Don’t get me wrong though, it is a good listen, but it lacks drive and gets boring and repetitive within a few songs.
Every now and then you come across a band that once you’ve heard once you are instantly a fan of their music. GSPT are definitely one of those bands. I had the pleasure of hearing this band live last New Year’s Eve, and since then I’ve been hooked on them.
GSPT have blended alternative & Hip-Hop very well to produce a completely unique sound and are able to collect many different types of fans. All that mix of different sounds have paid off because they have really created something special in their mixtape ‘A Band Apart’ and it’s hard to think why they aren’t internationally known.
Artist: The King Blues Album: Punk & Poetry Location: London
The King Blues are one of the, if not the most, underrated bands of current time. With a unique blend of Punk, Ska, a set of raw vocals and some of the most thought provoking lyrics you are likely to find, they have all the ingredients to be a terrible band, but instead they have pulled it off and created some of the best music I have ever heard. They are back with their third album ‘Punk & Poetry’ and have comeback hard. Tracks such as ‘We Are F****** Angry’ shows the society questioning, anarchist side of the band that fans have grown to love; whilst songs like ‘Headbutt’ show their lighter playful side. The King Blues are one of the few bands that are continuing to evolve in their music and their lyrics, and deserve way more credit than they get. This album is a must for any music fan, anarchist or anyone who generally questions the government. Go out and by it now, you won’t be disappointed.
Artist: Chipmunk Album: Transition Location: London
Chipmunk, one of the king pins of Grime is back with his new album ‘Transition’; and what a transition it is indeed. Little Chip Diddy Chip has grown into an international, chart topping rap star, but is it a good change for his music? I think the answer is yes and no. He is with no question a very talented artist and has created another album of hits and catchy songs, such as the anthem ‘Champion’ featuring Chris Brown; but the switch to mainstream seems to have taken away some of the more grittier sounds and lyrics that made chipmunk great and unique. For new fans it is a change that will not be noticed or cared about, but for some of the older fans it is an obvious change and one that probably won’t be favoured, as he is just becoming like every other Urban artist out there. However, this is still a very good album with some prominent artists featuring on the tracks, and definitely worth a listen. I just hope Chipmunk doesn’t forget his roots and start to cater for a mainly American audience.
Atrist: Katy B Album: On A Mission Location: London
I like to think I have a wide music taste and I’ll admit Katy B’s singles before the release of her debut album ‘On A Mission’ were pretty good. She mixed powerful female vocals and dubstep beats perfectly. When I downloaded her CD, I was expecting something new and upbeat but when I listened to it I felt that she is a bit of a one trick pony. Her track ‘Broken Record’ sums up her album very well, it is just blends into the same noise, which becomes very repetitive and boring quickly. I’m not saying she doesn’t have talent, her wide range of vocal chords and soulful voice shouldn’t go unnoticed but it’s as if she got praise of her singles, and stuck to that sound with no variation. I would defiantly give this album two thumbs down, and wouldn’t recommend purchasing it, unless you are a DJ and looking for some good beats to play. Besides that though you are just wasting money.
White Lies are one of those rare bands that sound like no one else out there and never leave you bored. Naturally when I first heard they were releasing a new album I was extremely excited. On my first listen of ‘Ritual’ however it was a different story. It seemed that the band had simply produced a new album that sounded more or less exactly the same as their last one and hadn’t evolved as artists. When I gave it a second listen though it grew on me quite a bit. White Lies have kept their original sound, which is what make them great. They have dug deeper into their emotions than before and pulled out something much more lyrically sound than their debut album. ‘Ritual’ is another prime example of how truly talented the British music scene really is, and the unique vocals of Harry McVeigh will leave you playing their music over and over.
When Bobby Long released his debut album ‘A Winter Tale’ I don’t think many people expected it to be this good. The 24 year old from West England will remind his listeners of an early Bob Dylan. Bobby generated popularity after writing the song ‘Let It Sign’ for friend and actor Rob Pattison to perform in the twilight film. Long has continued to produce musical gold and has captured the true essence of folk perfectly on his first album. He is one of the few artists that don’t get the recognition that they deserve.
Artist: Jessie J Album: Who Are You Location: London
Jessie J exceeds expectations with her debut album ‘Who You Are’. Mixing a blend of pop, urban and soul into one album obviously paid off as it earned her the number two spot on the UK album charts on its release. She shows that she is not just another pop singer, but a talented singer capable of a wide range of vocals.
Artist: Skepta Album: Doin' It Again Location: London
Skepta, who is arguably one of the most influential MC’s on the grime scene, has come back hard with his third studio album “Doin’ It Again’.
The CD was released on Boy Better Know Records, which Skepta is a co-founder of along side grime artist and brother JME. Before its official release four singles from the album were available, all of which made there way into the UK top 40.
London's 02 Arena was packed with celebrities and fans alike (although the tickets were a hefty price of around $140), for the Brit Awards, 2011. Host, James Corden, was at times a bumbling presenter who seemed to be out of his depth on this occasion, often appearing nervous and his timing left a lot to be desired.
Cee Lo Green was on form when he performed Forget You but let's not forget the part where he nearly went head first into the audience after he tripped on (and actually ripped) the dress of Paloma Faith. But all in all it was an entertaining evening with no great surprises, other than that one.
Drum & Bass icons Chase & Status return with their long awaited second studio album ‘No More Idols’. The duo has definitely evolved their sounds creating a more mature and fuller album; featuring an army of big talent in the UK music scene, from new artists such as ‘Clare Maguire’ to established acts such as ‘Plan B’ and also international star ‘Cee Lo Green’.