Jammin’ In July: My Musical Alphabet

Greetings readers,

Today I’m taking inspiration from fellow music-blogger Daria, from The Music Wonderland, who created her own musical alphabet. I thought it was a great way to share your favourite artists, so I asked if I could upload my own version and she said yes. So, I’ve combed my ITunes, album collection, and previous blogs to bring you my favourite artists for each letter of the alphabet – complete with some throwbacks in there too.

(There are a few gaps towards the end though, sorry!)

 

A – Against The Current

One of my favourite bands at the moment, New Yorkers Against The Current also dropped one of my favourite albums of 2016 with their debut release, ‘In Our Bones’. They have a lot of different elements to their sound, from danceable pop-driven tracks to dark, brooding rock vibes, which all combine to make something undeniably addictive.

To see my review of ATC’s debut album ‘In Our Bones’, click here.

 

B – Bring Me The Horizon

BMTH have been around since my early teens but, admittedly, I have only really gotten into their music recently. Whilst I liked the rough and raw screamo sound of previous releases, I couldn’t listen to it for too long; I couldn’t understand the lyrics, I couldn’t sing along, it just didn’t hit me in the same way that bands like Bullet For My Valentine did at the time, with their darkly twisted debut album ‘The Poison’. However, with their newest release ‘That’s The Spirit’ came a new sound that I’m totally into. Gone are the undecipherable lyrics and discordant arrangements, to be replaced by a melodic stadium-rock vibe. Their trademark ferocity is still there, but has evolved into something different – a change for the better in my opinion.

To see my review of Bring Me The Horizon’s newest release ‘That’s The Spirit’, click here.

 

C – Cassadee Pope

If you were into the pop-punk scene in early 2007 when the female fronted era exploded, then you may recognise ex Hey Monday front woman Cassadee Pope. Having been a fan of the band since their formation in 2008, I was crushed when they decided to go on hiatus with only one album to their name – 2008’s ‘Hold On Tight’. Following their short-lived time as a band, I was beyond intrigued when I found that Pope went on to become a contestant on The Voice USA; following her journey through the competition, which ultimately saw her crowned the winner. She has since released her debut album ‘Frame By Frame’, which reached #1 in the US Country music chart.

To see my article on Cassadee Pope following her win on The Voice USA, click here.

 

D – Demi Lovato

Quite simply, I absolutely adore Demi Lovato. From her musical ability and captivating power-house vocals, to her confidence to speak candidly about her personal struggles, I think that she is someone to be admired.

For more about why I like Demi Lovato, and why she is #1 on my ‘Top 10 Interview Wish-List, click here.

 

E – Ed Sheeran

Simply put? Ed Sheeran is amazing. I truly believe that he is one of the biggest icons of my generation. He has gone from strength to strength within the industry over the years, not just with his own albums but working behind the scenes on hits for other artists, including Justin Bieber, Major Lazer and One Direction. Everything he has done, to this day, has been absolute fire; with one chart hit after another. And, since the release of his newest album ‘Divide’, 2017 has so far been another massive year for our favourite red-head – already having made history by occupying both the #1 and #2 spot in the charts with ‘comeback’ singles ‘Shape Of You’ and ‘Castle On The Hill’ respectively. He gets better and better with each album.

To see my review of ‘Shape Of You’ and ‘Castle On The Hill’, click here.

 

F – Francheschi (Elissa)

I’ve been a fan of Elissa Franceschi’s music since my late teens. Introduced to her after she did guest vocals on You Me At Six track ‘Always Attract’, I then went on to check out her solo music – and fell in love. The soulful songstress has a beautifully delicate, yet powerful, quality to her vocals and her music is always mesmerising; full of honesty and overflowing with poignancy. She is currently on a musical hiatus, as she has been for the last few years, but there have been some little signs online that could hint at a possible return to music soon – here’s hoping! It’s been far too long.

To see my review of Elissa Franceschi’s EP ‘Devoid of Rue’, click here.

 

G – Green Day

One of my first favourite bands back when I first discovered rock music, Green Day were a huge part of the soundtrack to my early teens. Admittedly, I don’t listen to them nowadays, but there will always be a special place in my heart for them.

 

H – Hobbie Stuart

Honey-voiced heart-throb Hobbie Stuart, is a pop singer-songwriter and vlogger. Having built an online following via YouTube over the last six years, Stuart uploads both cover videos and original material to his channel. His smooth, r’n’b-tinged vocals seem to be able to wrap themselves around any song; leaving their own stamp on existing tracks and giving life to his own songs. Having seen him play a short set in Brighton, where he also turned on the town’s Christmas lights, it’s fair to say that he’s just as good live as he is on record – a rare quality nowadays. As well as his hypnotising vocals, Stewart’s hilariously candid personality also comes across in his vlogs, making them even more entertaining. You just can’t help but love him, really.

To check out my initial ‘One to Watch’ on Hobbie Stuart, click here.

For my live review of Stuart’s short set at Brighton’s Christmas light’s switch on, click here.

 

I – Issues

I discovered this metalcore six-piece after recommendation from a friend of mine, and I’m so glad I gave them a listen. Their thrashing yet melodic sound draws on a multitude of different genres, from heavy rock to electronic, and even some R&B. There is a brutal heaviness running through every track, which is lifted by honey-voiced vocalist Tyler Carter’s melodic tone as it drizzles over the gravelly sounds of Michael Bohn’s aggressive screams. This provides a great contrast and incorporating elements of other genres also brings something different to the table, keeping things interesting.

To see my introductory ‘One To Watch’ on Issues, click here.

 

J – Justin Timberlake

Sorry, I’m not sorry. Justin Timberlake is up there with some of the best male vocalists in the pop scene. From the curly-haired kid in boyband Nsync to the suave pin-up that girls fantasize over, JT and his music continue to stand the test of time – his smooth brand of r’n’b drenched pop still winning hearts, and awards, worldwide.

 

K – Kelly Clarkson

Again, another artist whose vocals continue to always cause a stir in the pop charts, fifteen years after she became the first ever winner of American Idol. Kelly Clarkson has an amazing voice; strong, bold and powerful, both on and off record. The majority of her music centres on themes such as heart-break, self-empowerment and independence, much of which really speaks to me. Her second studio album ‘Breakaway’ was a big part of the soundtrack to my early teens, with its pop-rock sound and dark undertones.

 

L – Luke Pickett

Luke Pickett is an artist that, I don’t think, gets as much recognition as he should. I discovered Pickett’s music 10 years ago, thanks to my friend using his track ‘Empty Corridors’ as her profile song on Myspace – remember those days?! I fell in love with it and soon became addicted to other songs such as ‘Going Down With This Ship’, ‘Dream Love Cure’ and ‘Cruel Love’. I even came close to interviewing him for this blog at the very beginning, after emailing his management, but somehow it fell through. I still go back and listen to those old songs from time to time, and I’m always keeping an eye on his new stuff. With his level of talent, impeccable, addictive vocals and ability to craft a captivating, poignant song, I can’t understand how he’s not a mainstream artist!

 

M – My Chemical Romance

The mouth-piece for an entire musical movement, and responsible for starting a conversation about the misunderstanding of subcultures, My Chemical Romance became the voice of a generation of misfit teens and in the process became revered; seen almost like heroes. Their music spoke to so many people (including myself) and created a community. Over the years, and the many colours/styles of Gerard Way’s hair, they created so many iconic moments that will always be remembered. I’m so glad I got to see them live before they split; it still hurts my heart a little that they’re not together anymore.

 

N – Nirvana

Another band that I, admittedly, don’t listen to anymore, but who influenced my music tastes back in the day. When I started listening to rock music in my mid-teens, Nirvana were a band that I inevitably came across; I say inevitably because you can’t have not heard of them if you’re into rock, I mean everybody knows who Kurt Cobain is, right? I loved the overall vibe of their music, (I used to be into the heavier stuff!) Kurt’s gruff and gravelly vocals, and I’ve always been interested in their/his compelling story. It’s not at all surprising to me that their music continues to influence musicians and have an effect on people, to this day.

 

O – Out Of Sight

Having disbanded quite a few years ago, you might think it’s weird that I chose to include pop-punk band Out Of Sight. However, after seeing them supporting You Me At Six live back in 2009, they were a band that left a lasting impression and I loved their music. Luckily, when I did work experience for Kerrang! that same year, I was given a copy of their demo CD by Katie P after I told her how much I liked them. To this day, I’m still so thankful to her for that because, if she hadn’t, their music would be 100% lost to me – and I’m so glad that it isn’t. I still listen to it from time to time and it never fails to put a smile on my face.

 

P – Panic! At The Disco

Another band that were a big part of the 2007 explosion of ‘emo’/pop-punk artists in the rock scene, you couldn’t not like Panic! At The Disco. Their single ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ is now a cult favourite among people of that era – there was a time when everyone was singing along to that chorus!. Over the years they’ve headlined the likes of Reading Festival and gained national airplay on Radio One, and continue to sell out arenas to this day.

 

Q – Queen

Not a band that I listen to regularly, but Queen is an absolute classic – there’s no doubt about it. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, ‘I Want To Break Free’… everyone knows at least one of their songs, and they’re great to dance to!

 

R – Room 94

I discovered Room 94 thanks to Twitter back in 2012, and they quickly went on to become one of my favourite bands at the time. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you may know that I tried for an entire year to get an interview with the boys and, after meeting them at multiple shows, luckily got that chance at the Brighton date of their 2013 ‘Three Brothers and One Kit’ summer tour. It’s still one of the most fun interviews I’ve ever done and they’re really lovely and funny guys – I’d interview them again in a heartbeat!

To see my interview with Room 94, click here.

 

S – Set It Off

This Floridian foursome have been one of my favourite bands for a few years, after discovering them when I was invited to interview them at a show. I’d never listened to them, or seen them live, but their stage presence and show changed that irrevocably. So taken was I that I went straight to their merch desk after their set and bought their debut – and at the time, only – album ‘Cinematics’, which I listened to in its entirety for months. I’ve kept up to date with their releases ever since, and seen their sound evolve from dark and twisted orchestral pop-rock, to something lighter and increasingly pop-based, all whilst retaining that certain Set It Off something.

To see my review of Set It Off’s second album ‘Duality’ click here.
I’ve also done short reviews of a handful of their songs from newest album ‘Upside Down’. To see those, click here (Uncontainable), here (Something New) and here (Crutch).

 

T – The Summer Set

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, then you’ll know that The Summer Set are one of my Top 5 favourite bands ever! I try to see them live every time they come to the UK and each time is always more fun than the last; they never fail to put on an amazing show, it’s like a party that nobody wants to end. I love their unique brand of inspirational, poignant, summery, feel good pop-rock, made even more distinctive by Brian Dales’ original vocal tone. I’ve bought every album they’ve ever released and their music just gets better and better over the years. Their newest release ‘Stories For Monday’ was one of my top albums of last year and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next!

I’ve actually been lucky enough to chat to John Gomez, Jess Bowen and Brian Dales on separate occasions and they’re all lovely (the latter I even managed to interview before a show at Kingston Peel, despite him being a little worse for wear!)

To see my review of the band’s newest album ‘Stories For Monday’, click here.
And, to see my review of the last time I saw them live, at Portsmouth’s Wedgewood Rooms, click here.

U – —–

 

V – Versaemerge

Another great band that, sadly, aren’t together in this format currently, Versaemerge were part of the second wave of the pop-punk/emo scene. When the likes of Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco were established they paved the way for similar bands to breakout, one of them being Versaemerge. After being signed by the front-running label of the era, Fuelled By Ramen, Versaemerge released their debut – and sadly only – album ‘Fixed At Zero’. Over the years they battled a lot of obstacles, including significant line-up changes, as well as the long wait between releases. By the time a second album looked to be forming it came with a change of sound, gone was the dark melodic rock, in favour of an electronic vibe; times and the scene had changed. Shortly after, remaining members, Sierra Kusterbeck and Blake Harnage decided to reinvent themselves as Versa, an entirely new entity. However, the status of the band is unclear as no new material has been released, and vocalist Sierra now fronts new musical project ‘Neaux’. One thing’s for sure, I hope they revive Versa at some point because I’d be so sad if they just faded away.

As a female, Sierra was one of my main inspirations of that time, and while I was at university I was actually lucky enough to interview Blake Harnage for an article I was working on about fan-funding. To see that article, click here.

 

W – Waltzz

A young aspiring rapper that reached out to me for a review back in 2015, Waltzz is now a name that you’ll definitely be familiar with if you follow my blog regularly. Full of passion and unrivalled drive, Waltzz – real name Liam Stewart – is an artist that I really admire. From his music (and his passion for it) to the overall message he tries to convey, he is definitely worth checking out. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting him and he’s a really great, down to earth guy too – which is always a plus!

To see my review of Waltzz’s most recent single ‘I’m Alright’, click here.

 

X – —-

 

Y – You Me At Six

You Me At Six have been one of my favourite bands since I was seventeen and, now in my mid-twenties, they still are. Over the years I’ve seen them grow with their music and, in turn, I have grown up with it. So many of their songs serve as a reminder of many different events and happenings, and I have nothing but fond memories of seeing them live – all 10+ times! They have yet to make an album that I dislike, and my only hope is that they continue making music for a long time yet!

To read my review of You Me At Six’s latest album ‘Night People’, click here.

 

Z – —-

 

And there you have it – if you got this far, to you I give the biggest of high-fives. I hope that I inspired you to give some of these artists a try, if you’ve not heard of them. What did you think of my choices? If you’ve got any recommendations for the letters I missed feel free to let me know in a comment.

As always, thank you for reading! I’m uploading twice a week throughout July so, If you like what I do here and you want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, feel free to come and join me on:

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Tracks of the Month – June

Hi everyone,

I’m a little late with posting June’s ‘Tracks of the Month’, and that is simply because I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to upload it. So, I thought I’d kick off this year’s ‘Jammin’ In July’ with a look back at the previous month and some of the songs that have (and still continue to) dominate my stereo.

 

Talia Mar – The Voices Are Me

Posted in honour of ‘Mental Health Awareness Month’ back in May, ‘The Voices Are Me’ is an extremely poignant piano-led track, born out of singer-songwriter Talia Mar’s desire to speak out about mental health through her YouTube channel. However, as she says in the video, she couldn’t find the right words to say so she wrote the song instead and, in my opinion, couldn’t have said it better. As someone who suffers/has suffered from anxiety, I can really relate to this track on a personal level; I feel as though some of the phrases were written straight out of my head, making it really moving to listen to. Personally, I feel that it perfectly describes how anxiety can make you feel, and I encourage everyone to really listen to the lyrics and take it in. Mar’s vocals are impeccable as always, and the contrasting quiet/loud dynamic of the verses and the chorus are a perfect fit for the vibe of the song. It also shows off her range brilliantly, the flawless quality of both the higher and lower notes creating an undeniably beautiful effect.

This song touches me so much that I can’t help but tear up (cry like a baby!) every time I hear it, and I can only commend and profusely thank Talia Mar for releasing this online. I hope that it helps people, whether that be finding comfort in dealing with your own issues or helping a friend or relative understand what someone else in their life is going through. It’s a beautiful song.

 

Tom Cochran – Life is a highway

You can thank The Summer Set’s Brian Dales for this one. If you follow him on Instagram you’ll know that he posts a daily Instagram story of himself miming along to the chorus line of this classic rock song in various settings. After a week or so of waking up and seeing said Instagram stories first thing in the morning, it’s really hard not to have it stuck in your head all day! But, with its upbeat, feel-good, summery vibe I’m not complaining.

 

Anne-Marie ft. Ed Sheeran – Ciao adios

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, is there anything that Ed Sheeran can’t make sound infinitely better? It appears not, as he comes together with R’n’B/Pop singer-songwriter Anne-Marie for this acoustic version of her song, ‘Ciao Adios’. Filmed on tour, in the dressing room before a show, the stripped-back vibe allows both the vocals and lyrics to shine even more; highlighting the pitch-perfect harmonies and Anne-Marie’s ability to switch between her lower and higher register with ease. The little looks and laughs between the pair throughout the video present an endearing quality and works to draw listeners in – and the addition of the tongue-in-cheek ‘you mug’, never fails to make me smile. 🙂

 

Charlie Puth – Attention

The lead single from Charlie Puth’s upcoming second album ‘Voice Notes’, ‘Attention’ is an addictive R’n’B/Pop song that, I imagine, a lot of people can relate to. The elements of funk in the arrangement work to create something that you can really groove to, and the lyrics are dripping with sassy vibes. Puth’s vocals are stellar as always; contrasting his main, deeper vocal line with a higher chorus and falsetto accents throughout, giving the track more depth. Full of charisma, it’s a song that you can’t help but be charmed by – and let’s face it, I’m sure everyone’s got at least one ex-whatever that they’d like to sing this to.

 

Bruno Mars – 24k Magic

I know I’m super late to the party with this one but…better late than never right? I mean come on who can’t sing-along to that chorus? The lead single from Mars’s album of the same name, 24K Magic is drenched in a funk/disco vibe set to Mars’s smooth R’n’B vocals. It’s a feel good track that doesn’t take its self too seriously, and the infectious beat also makes it impossible to sit still while listening to it – I dare you to try. C’mon everyone…put your pinky rings up the moon! 🙂

 

As always, thank you for reading! I hope I inspired you to give these songs a listen. In case you didn’t know, I’ll be posting twice a week this month as part of my ‘Jammin’ In July’ series, so if you like what I do here and want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, feel free to come and join me on:

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Here We Go Again: ‘Jammin’ In July’ 2017

Hola readers,

This month I’ve decided to bring back a series that I started on my blog two years ago, known as ‘Jammin’ In July’.

This means that throughout the month of July I’ll be attempting to post twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, ending with (hopefully) 9 uploads. As I’ve said before, Summer is always a busy time on the music scene, so I thought it’d be fitting to bring back this series – and I really enjoyed it last year.

I’ve loosely planned the posts already, however, depending on what crops up throughout the month things may be subject to change. I’ve tried to include a mix of reviews, articles and chatty blogs so hopefully there’s something for everyone 🙂 . You can check out the full list below.

(As the posts go live I’ll add the hyperlinks so you can just click on each entry to see it.)

 

COMING UP:

  • Tracks of the month
  • My musical alphabet
  • Tuesday Chats: Is blogging a hobby or my job?
  • Talia Mar ‘Tough Decisions’ EP Review
  • Tuesday Chats: My Favourite band
  • Live Music: What Really Matters?
  • The word Fan-girl and why I hate it
  • Goodbye to ‘Jammin’ In July’

 

As always thank you for reading, and be sure to check back on Thursday for my June ‘Tracks of the Month’!

 

If you like what I do here and you want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, throughout July and beyond, feel free to come and join me on:

Facebook / Twitter

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Loose Women Meets Calendar Girls

Hi everyone,

I hope you’re all doing really well and taking advantage of the lovely, sunny weather.

Today I’m posting a piece I wrote back in May, all about body confidence and the Loose Women ‘My Body, My Story’ campaign. I had hoped to upload this a lot earlier and I can only apologise for that – I’ve been so busy! However, seeing as we’re in the middle of summer and the bikinis are coming out in force, I still feel it’s relevant and, as a wider issue, it’s worth talking about regardless. Enjoy!

 

Loose Women Meets Calendar Girls

The stars of ITV’s daytime panel show ‘Loose Women’ lose their clothes for an inspiring body confidence campaign.

How many of us look in the mirror and only see the things we’d like to change? How many of us, when flicking through a magazine, or watching TV, see a model or celebrity and think ‘I wish I had their [insert favoured body part/physical feature here]? Personally, I think far too many of us do, and apparently I’m not the only one.

As we find ourselves in the throes of bikini season, instead of hiding our bodies away, the combination of heat and sun inspires us to dare to bare – and that’s exactly what the ladies of ITV1’s ‘Loose Women’ did. In a bid to inspire ladies of all ages, shapes and sizes, the ‘My Body, My Story’ campaign saw all the ‘Loose Women’ panellists – from Janet Street Porter to Katie Price – strip down to swimsuits and bare everything, scars and all, for an incredibly inspiring photoshoot.

Shot by – rock royalty turned photographer – Bryan Adams, the resulting campaign is a powerfully untouched image of the ladies smiling, laughing and exuding confidence. No filters, no airbrushing, no editing; nor is it needed. These are real women with real bodies, and they’re all beautiful.

During an especially dedicated ‘body confidence’ edition of the lunchtime panel show – aired on May 2nd 2017 – the ladies made reference to recently released images of Kim Kardashian’s trademark behind, which was shown to be full of dimples and cellulite. Kardashian’s reply? ‘I’m just sitting here on the beach with my flawless body.’ As Janet Street-Porter pointed out during the live broadcast, this shows that Kardashian seems to have a good sense of humour about the situation as she, assumedly, accepts that she isn’t perfect and this is the real her. Fellow panellist Andrea McLean also pointed out that the pictures created some uproar amongst the general public.

*NEWS FLASH* people get cellulite, people gain weight, people get stretch marks, people have scars. As you get older your bum is going to sag, your boobs are going to droop – that’s life. I think all too often people forget that celebrities are just that: people. Just because they’re in the public eye with their faces splashed all over magazines, they aren’t suddenly immune to the effects of ageing.

On a personal level, I have a close friend who is absolutely beautiful inside and out, who is also very conscious of her looks and her weight – and she really needn’t be. As I’m sure is true for all of us, she carried a bit more weight during her teens, but by no means anything to worry about. But, after a – quite frankly – ludicrous comment from an ex-boyfriend, she decided to change how she looked. Nowadays she’s super active; goes to the gym, does pole fitness and ariel hooping – and judging by the videos has a core of absolute steel. However, that one comment still haunts her, and she once told me that when she looks in the mirror she never feels or sees herself as attractive; and that absolutely broke my heart. Sadly though, I think this perception of self is true in a lot of cases.

I grew up in the era when size ‘0’ models were very much a thing and being thin was considered the stereotypical image of beauty. This is something I now know can be very damaging as it’s an unrealistic representation which effects impressionable young people. Singer-songwriter Demi Lovato is an advocate for body positivity who has been very vocal about the effect that this kind of thing had on her growing up; stating in interviews that she wants to see a change and be a healthier role model for young people.

Over the years, I do think we’ve seen an increase in curvy, buxom media personalities, and that the attitude is now more geared towards being healthy. As long as you’re healthy and happy you don’t need to be stick thin and airbrushed to perfection. Be proud. Accept your figure. Wear your scars like a badge of honour.

I once saw a quote online which read: “you’ll never look like the girl in the magazine. The girl in the magazine doesn’t even look like the girl in the magazine.” I think that really hits the nail on the head regarding this subject, as it lays plainly the struggle to achieve some impossible image of perfection often presented to us. This is why the Loose Women ‘My Body, My Story’ campaign is even more powerful as it’s challenging that common perception; they’re standing up and saying ‘We’re real women and this is us; unashamedly, unabashedly, us. We’re beautiful too. ’ And that is something to be admired.

It’s one photograph but it holds such an inspiring message, and I think with it being summer and the bikinis coming out of hibernation, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I hope the campaign encourages more people to stop worrying about what others think and to be confident with their bodies. After all, you only get one body, be kind to yourself and love it.

Blake Shelton – Based on a True Story Album Review (Music Is Love Throwback)

Hola readers,

I hope you’re all doing well. As we’re right in the throes of summer; indulging in the warmer, longer days and ice-creams (well I am anyway!) I thought I’d share this #throwback of a review with you. This artist has been a big chunk of my summer soundtrack since I discovered him a few years ago, and his music just makes me think of sunny days and holidays.

I first discovered award-winning country singer/songwriter Blake Shelton’s music back in 2012 thanks to the US version of The Voice. I watched the show for two seasons, the first of which featured Juliet Simms (ex Automatic Loveletter) as a contestant – who went on to be one of the final two – and the second saw ex-Hey Monday front woman Cassadee Pope win the hearts of the nation and be crowned winner, under Shelton’s tutorage.

Being that Shelton was the only artist on the judging panel that I hadn’t heard of – the line up at the time being completed by Maroon 5 vocalist Adam Levine, R’n’B singer/songwriter Cee Lo Green and pop powerhouse Christina Aguilera – I was instantly curious to check out his music. And I wasn’t disappointed with what I found.

From the summer sunshine vibe of ‘Honey Bee’, and the somber, sultry feel of ‘Drink On It’, to injecting his alluring country drawl into Dave Barnes’ ‘God Gave Me You’, it’s clear that Shelton’s distinctive vocals are strong, bold and somewhat seductive. It’s no surprise that his work is revered within the country music industry – I instantly fell in love.

Another thing that immediately struck me about Shelton, is his ability to connect with the music and tell a story in an amazingly moving way. You can see this in multiple tracks of his including, romantic love stories ‘Over’ and ‘Austin’, as well as ‘Over You’; a track Shelton co-wrote with his ex-wife Miranda Lambert about the death of his brother – which she lends her vocals to. The song was also covered by ex-Hey Monday frontwoman Cassadee Pope during her time on NBC’s The Voice, which I’ve featured in a previous blog post.

I was going to include them in a ‘Tracks I’m Loving’ at the time, but the more songs I discovered I thought it could come across a bit artist-heavy. So, I decided to save them for a ‘One to Watch’, However, I didn’t think that was quite fitting as Shelton is an established artist in his own right as opposed to up-and-coming.

With his album ‘Based On A True Story’ on the horizon at the time, I jumped straight on ITunes and downloaded it. I then went on to review the album for a university project. At the time I didn’t see the point in duplicating posts across both sites, especially since I was trying to promote them both separately. However, I’ve since had to make the decision to close my other site (you can read about the reason for that here) so I thought uploading it here was way overdue.

 

 

Blake Shelton: Based On A True Story (Album Review)

bs-album-cover

American country artist Blake Shelton released his new album ‘Based on a True Story’ in March this year. Lead single ‘Sure Be Cool If You Did’ reached number one on the country airplay chart after being premiered on New Year’s Day, and was released on ITunes in January.

His eighth studio album is an authentic country album, complete with that trademark drawl that sounds like drizzling honey; smooth and effortless. With the playful chant ‘red red red red red red redneck’, album opener ‘Boys Round Here’ has a beat that you can’t help but bob your head to, and tracks like ‘Small Town Big Time’ are a full on ride of infectious fun; vibrant, jaunty and carefree, though the effects on Shelton’s vocals are unnecessary.

Throughout there are also moments of sentimentality, with slower romantic tracks like ‘Doin’ What She Likes’, ‘Mine Would Be You’, and the nostalgic trip down memory lane, ‘Granddaddy’s Gun’.

Shelton’s bold twang sounds like emotion oozing out of every pore and the intimacy and warmth that comes off of these songs is almost palpable. It’s a great mix of lively, dynamic songs and heartfelt stories, and is an excellent country album. If you’re not someone who’s usually a fan of country music, give it a try, you may surprise yourself.

 

As always, thanks for reading. Do you like Blake Shelton or are you Country music fan in general? Feel free to let me know in a comment. If you’d like to keep up to date with my upcoming posts come and join me on:

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Music is Love: One Love Manchester

Benefit concert ‘One Love Manchester’ proves that music brings people together in the wake of recent terror attacks in the UK.

Hey everyone,

I’ve been a little bit quiet lately, but if you follow me on my social media then you’ll know that I, like many others, tuned into BBC One’s coverage of the ‘One Love Manchester’ benefit concert on Sunday June 4th. Held at Old Trafford Cricket Ground, thousands of fans gathered at the charity event organised by pop singer Ariana Grande, to honour and raise funds for victims of the recent terror attack which took place after one of her shows in the city, killing 22 people and injuring hundreds more.

Being a music lover, I find solace and comfort in my favourite songs and will never be able to describe the feeling that can only come from truly connecting with a track, and being able to relate to someone else’s words on such a deep level. By extension, going to gigs is a way of celebrating and experiencing the joy and atmosphere that only a live show can bring. As I sat watching ‘One Love Manchester’ the poignancy of the whole event really hit me, even through my TV screen – and you’d only have to glance at Twitter to see that I wasn’t the only one.

I see concerts as a place of magic, of community, of belonging. There’s always the sense that, whatever you’re going through is left at the door and for those few hours, nothing else matters. Nothing but the music and the atmosphere that surrounds you. Coming together with total strangers but being united in the fact that you all believe in something, you all believe in this. ‘One Love Manchester’ really embodied that spirit, and showed that hate and fear will never overpower it.

Katy Perry’s words at One Love Manchester

There was a sense of strength and resilience at the core of the whole show; the artists playing tracks with powerful, inspirational vibes. From Robbie Williams’ moving renditions of ‘Strong’ and classic track ‘Angels’, to Katy Perry’s sassy performance of ‘Part of Me’, the message was clear: we will not be beaten. We will not be afraid.

Headliner Ariana Grande shared the stage with many of the other acts involved, including coming together with Miley Cyrus for a duet of Crowded House track ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’, as well as joining forces with Coldplay to wow the audience with a heartfelt cover of popular Oasis number, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger.’

The 23 year old starlet also joined The Black Eyed Peas onstage for a performance of their 2003 number one single ‘Where Is The Love’. Upon its release the song topped the charts in 13 countries – including the UK where it occupied the number one spot for seven weeks – and is the epitome of the reason for the entire event. Lyrically, it addresses mindless acts of terrorism and asks, where is the love and compassion we should have for each other as human beings; making it as relevant now as it was back then.

Throughout every single act – including the likes of Little Mix, Niall Horan, Pharrell Williams, and Liam Gallagher – the 50,000 strong crowd sang, danced, and cried along to every single word. Many of the artists gave heartfelt speeches and were also overcome with emotion during their sets, none more so than Grande herself. As the night drew to a close, the young talent welcomed all the artists to the stage and thanked them for being involved, before launching into a heart-wrenching performance of her track ‘One Last Time’ – giving a goosebumps-inducing meaning to the song.

I have a huge amount of respect for Ariana Grande for organising the event and to all the artists who took part in some way, the entire concert overflowed with emotion and the love hung thick in the air – whether you were there or watching at home. Grande ended the night with a powerful version of ‘Over The Rainbow’, a beautiful moment that saw her become tearful. As she thanked and told the audience she loved them, it was evident that she herself is still deeply affected by what happened two weeks ago, but her spirit in organising the show and carrying on in spite of that is undisputedly endearing.

There is absolutely no denying the poignancy of the show as a whole, and of live music in general. To be so wrapped up in a song, to be able to scream the words at the top of your lungs because it means so much to you; and then to hear hundreds of other people doing the exact same thing, for the same reason is an amazingly moving feeling. The beautifully haunting sound of all the voices blending into one is truly something to be experienced and, in this particular incidence, knowing the reasons behind One Love Manchester: paying tribute to those who were lost or injured in the attack, you couldn’t not be moved by it.

Did you catch ‘One Love Manchester’ on BBC One last Sunday? What did you think of the show? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. 🙂

Tracks of the Month – March/April

Hola readers,

I hope you’re all doing really well; today I’m going to share my tracks of the month with you. The eagle-eyed among you may’ve noticed that I didn’t post one of these last month, and that is for two main reasons:

#1. Most of what I was listening to I’d already done previous reviews on, and…
#2. Let’s be honest, after its release on March 3rd, Ed Sheeran’s new album Divide was pretty much all I was listening to for weeks afterwards. (I’ve just been so busy that I haven’t had the chance to review it yet!)

There have been a few songs that fell through the cracks over the last few months though, so I’ll include them too and go from the less, to the more recent tracks.

 

Little Mix – Touch (Ed Sheeran Cover)

As part of Radio One’s Live Lounge session, man of the moment, Ed Sheeran turned his attention to Little Mix’s ‘Touch’, taken from their new album ‘Glory Days’. Released online on Feb 21st, Sheeran’s acoustic-sounding cover also includes some soulful backing vocals; the stripped back arrangement giving the track a whole different – much more raw – feel. Seriously, is there anything this man can’t make sound infinitely better?

 

Stevie P, Sketch and Jack Holding

(Also) way back in late February, Rap/rock duo Stevie P & Sketch dropped a rough phone recording of an – as yet untitled – track on Sketch’s YouTube channel ‘Sketch TV’. Along with fellow singer-songwriter Jack Holding on guitar (as well as providing backing vocals) the trio jam out the song in a really raw, acoustic kind of way – even down to Sketch getting a beat going on his shoe! As is their style, the verses comprise of back and forth rap vocals, while the chorus incorporates some beautifully haunting vocal harmonies. The stripped back arrangement gives it a certain charm whilst adding even more of a sense of honesty; it doesn’t need to hide behind complex instrumentals, it makes an impact –perhaps even more so – without.

*I know it’s not a full track or official single or anything but I did just want to give it an honourable mention as it is beautiful.

To see my reviews of Stevie & Sketch’s previous tracks, click here.

 

Katherine McNamara – Chatter

Released three years ago as part of the soundtrack to Cartoon Network original movie Contest, ‘Chatter’, is the theme tune for any school underdog, outcast or ‘weird kid’. Sung by actress Katherine McNamara (Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Shadowhunters), who also stars in the film, the song is almost like a helping hand letting you know that someone is listening. It’s an insanely catchy slice of pop, featuring some brilliantly encouraging lyrics (“words only hurt when you let them matter, don’t let them matter, it’s only chatter,”) and is definitely one of those songs that I wish fifteen year old me could’ve known.

 

Talia Mar – In The Day

After seeing upcoming singer-songwriter Talia Mar live, and reviewing her debut single ‘Stolen’, at the tail-end of last year I’ve been curious to hear more of her material. And, as luck would have it, the emerging talent unveiled follow-up single ‘In The Day’ online in late March. The self-produced electro-R&B track tells the story of what it’s like being the ‘other woman’ in a relationship, complete with a brooding vibe drenched in shadowy undertones – giving it an almost haunting quality. Mar’s powerhouse vocals are faultless throughout; the track really showcases her range as she glides through bold lower notes and drops in her pitch-perfect falsetto to accent certain phrases, giving it a really beautiful sound overall. If you follow her on social media at all then you’ll know that Mar is also gearing up to release her – as yet untitled – EP soon, so I’m really interested to get my hands on that and hear more of her songs. If they’re anything like the ones she’s dropped so far, the EP’s going to be absolute fire.

To see my review of Talia Mar’s debut single Stolen, click here.

 

Another song I’ve been listening to a lot is this acoustic version of ‘Eyelids’ by American trio PVRIS – or Paris to you and me. I’m not going to say too much about it as I included the full version of the song in my Jan/Feb ‘Tracks of the Month’ but, again, I did want to give it an honourable mention as I absolutely love it.

 

As always, thank you for reading! I hope I inspired you to give these songs a listen, if you haven’t already, and if you like what I do here and want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, feel free to come and join me on:

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🙂