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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Artists I’d Like to See Live In 2017

Greetings readers,

It’s nearly the end of January; we’re a month into 2017 already! I hope you’ve all had a great start to the year and that you’re keeping up your new year’s resolutions (if you made any!)

If you’ve been following my blog for a while then you may remember that I did a post like this in 2015 as part of my ‘Journaling In January’ series, where I listed the artists I’d like to see that year, followed by a separate list compiling the artists I’d like to see again. I thought it’d be nice to make it an annual thing to see how my choices evolve, if any become staple and crop up more than once, and who I do actually manage to see live over the next 12 months.

I felt it unnecessary to split the list into two parts this time but, some of these artists I have seen before, so I’ll include links to any previous live reviews where applicable. So, before I ramble on too much, here are the artists I’d like to see live in 2017 – not in any particular order because trying to pick would take me far too long.

 

The Summer Set

The Summer Set at the Electric Ballroom

The Summer Set at the Electric Ballroom

I included The Summer Set in last year’s ‘Band’s I’d Like to See’ post, and my reasons for featuring them haven’t changed much. I feel as though my previous explanation perfectly sums up why I want to continue to see them live when they visit the UK and why I encourage anyone who hasn’t seen them live to do the same. As I said in my previous review:

If you’ve read my blog before then this Arizona based quintet don’t really need any introduction, as you’ll know that I’ve seen them a fair few times already. And there is one very simple reason for that: They put on an awesome show. Every single time I’ve seen The Summer Set live it’s been an insanely fun pop/punk party that nobody wants to end. Their energy is infectious and their set electrifying; with plenty of opportunities to jump around like a loon, as well as poignant moments that you can’t help but get caught up in. One thing’s for sure, they put everything they have into that moment and it always makes for a killer performance.

I’ve previously seen The Summer Set live a number of times, whenever they do a UK tour I try to get tickets as their live show is always insane.

Click here to see my most recent live review of the band at Portsmouth’s Wedgewood Rooms, on the UK leg of their ‘Stories For Monday’ tour.
Click here to see my review of their newest album ‘Stories For Monday’.
Click here to see my live review of The Summer Set from back in 2014, with support from Paradise Fears & William Beckett.

 

Set It Off

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With Set It Off’s Cody Carson after their show at London’s Electric Ballroom

The last, and only, time I saw Set It Off was in 2013 when I got invited to interview them after their London show at Camden’s Electric Ballroom, supporting Aussie quintet Tonight Alive. Admittedly I hadn’t listened to their music before that night, so I was going in totally blind, and I wasn’t disappointed. After immediately buying their debut album ‘Cinematics’ from the merch table that night, Set It Off quickly became a firm favourite of mine.

Since then they’ve released follow-up record ‘Duality’, and their newest offering ‘Upside Down’ dropped in October this year. After following the progression of their albums over the years, it’s clear that their dark, orchestral pop-rock sound has evolved into something lighter and increasingly more pop-driven. Personally, I would like to see how that translates into their live set-up – as I know their performances to be quite chaotic and very befitting of a typical rock show – so it’d be interesting to see how this shift in genre correlates.

I’ve also included Set It Off in quite a few posts over the last year so, if you’re interested in those, please check them out if you’d like to:

Click here to see why I included the four-piece in my ‘Band’s I’d Like to See Again in 2015’.
Click here to see my review of the band’s sophomore album Duality.
Click here to see my Q&A with Set It Off’s Cody Carson at Camden’s Electric Ballroom.
Click here to see my review of the band’s debut album Cinematics.

 

Against The Current

I only got into Against The Current’s music in mid-2016, but I became a huge fan pretty quickly. I’d seen some of their cover videos on YouTube – often featuring other unsigned artists such as Alex Goot and Max – but I didn’t get around to listening to their original music until more recently. However, I’m so glad I did because I absolutely love it. I reviewed their debut studio album ‘In Our Bones’ as part of my ‘Jammin’ In July’ series, and as I said: ‘the band are quickly making a name for themselves and…look set to take the music world by storm’.

I’ve since seen a lot of live footage of the band (thanks to YouTube) and it looks as though they put on a great show full of energy and fun. Chrissy Costanza’s vocals also sound just as amazing live as they do on record, as evidenced by their unofficial video for ‘Young and Relentless’ – which sees them play their way through the busy streets of London – as well as the above video from A-Sides on YouTube. After missing them on their last visit to the UK in September 2016, I’m crossing my fingers that I can get tickets for their upcoming tour in March.

Click here to see my review of ATC’s debut album ‘In Our Bones’.
Click here to see my review of the band’s cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘I Really Really Like You’ featuring pop solo artist, Max.

 

You Me At Six

You Me At Six have been one of my favourite bands since I was 17 and, now in my mid 20’s, the amount of times I’ve seen them live is well into double figures – and for good reason. With headline shows at The 02 and Wembley Arena under their belts, as well as a whole host of others, the Brit rockers have come long way since their beginning in 2005.

Now they find themselves at the forefront of British rock music, gaining recognition from the mainstream, receiving airplay from the likes of Radio One and reaching number one in the mid-week charts. They never disappoint with their live show, it’s always a whirlwind of energy and fun, and I have nothing but fond memories of seeing them. The last time I saw them was in 2012 and I think that seriously needs to be rectified.

Click here to see my live review of the YMAS at London’s Brixton Academy, on the ‘Sinners Never Sleep’ tour in 2012.
Click here to see my review of the band’s most recent album ‘Cavalier Youth’.

 

Ed Sheeran

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, I’m guessing you know who Ed Sheeran is. Named the biggest selling artist of 2014 – scooping numerous awards and playing multiple sell-out shows at Wembley Arena – Sheeran took some time away from the limelight in 2016, using the year to work on new material and to re-charge.

After catching his stunning live performances at The BBC Music Awards and The Brits, to name a few, and having watched his live DVD ‘Jumpers For Goalposts’, I’d love to experience his live show. He’s one of the few mainstream artists I’d pay good money to go and see.

Click here to see my dual review of Sheeran’s newest singles ‘Shape of You’ and ‘Castle On The Hill’.
Click here to see my album review of his previous offering ‘X’.
Click here to find out why I also included Sheeran in my ‘Artist’s I’d Like to See in 2015’.

 

Stevie P & Sketch

A video still from Stevie P & Sketch’s debut offering ‘Everything (Pt 2)’

Again, if you’re familiar with my little corner of the internet, then this rap/rock duo should need absolutely no introduction as I feel like I’ve been banging on about them over the course of this year. Stevie P and Sketch (the latter of whom you may also recognise from E4’s Tattoo Fixers) have dropped some great tracks this year including, beaut rap ballad ‘Street Lights’ and abruptly raw number ‘Nightmares’.

I have absolutely no idea if the guys are planning on – or even able to – fit any live performances into their busy schedules but I’d love to see it happen, mainly for the fact that they never cease to surprise me. Each time they unveil a new track they seem to add in new elements that leave you wondering what else they’re going to work into their sound, almost drip feeding it to us. As a result it definitely makes you want to hear more to see where they’re going to take it next.

As well as wanting to hear more of their stuff, I’d also like to see their on-stage personas for myself and how that correlates with the music (if you’ve seen any of their music videos you’ll know what I mean.) I just think it’d be interesting, in the best possible sense, and you’d get to hear some great music – bonus.

As I said before, I’ve featured the guys in a few previous blog posts so, if you’re interested in those, please see the list below and have a read if you’d like to.

Click here for my review of Sketch and Stevie P’s debut track ‘Everything Part 2’.
click here to see my review of their follow-up single ‘Street Lights’.
click here to find out why the duo are #3 on my ‘Top 10 Interviews Wish List’.
click here to read my original article on ‘Tattoo Fixers’.
click here for my follow-up article on spin-off show, ‘Tattoo Fixers On Holiday’.
And, if you’re interested, click here to check out my blog about getting tattooed by Sketch at his studio in November last year.

 

Talia Mar

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© Skins Elliott Photography

I became aware of singer-songwriter – and beauty/lifestyle vlogger – Talia Mar’s music when I saw her perform at a showcase event I went to back in November, known as ‘Musique LDN’. Because of the sheer volume of names on the bill each act only played 2-3 songs each, so it was a bit difficult to get a proper feel for the artists, however, I was immediately struck by Talia’s performance and really enjoyed her set on the day.

Since then I’ve checked out (and totally fell in love with) her debut release ‘Stolen’, which is entirely self-produced. I also did a review of the song in early December, and gave it an honourable mention in my ‘Tracks of the Month’. I’d love to see Talia Mar live because she has a great voice, to hear more of her material, and to just get more of a feel for who she is as an artist.

Click here to see my review of the ‘Musique’ event where I saw Talia Mar perform.
Click here to see my review of her debut offering, ‘Stolen’.

 

And that’s about it. Are there any bands/artists that you’d love to see this year? Who are your absolute staples that you know are sure to put on an amazing show every time? Feel free to let me know in a comment 🙂 .

 

As always, thank you for reading! If you like what I do here and you want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, be sure to come and join me on:

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Ed Sheeran – Shape Of You and Castle On The Hill (Dual Single Review)

Ed Sheeran makes his long awaited return to the music industry, releasing not one but two new songs.

ed-sheeran-castle-on-the-hill-shape-of-you-promo-art

You heard it right folks, Ed Sheeran is back. After previously announcing that he would be taking a break from the limelight in December 2016, using social media to say that he was “buggering off for a bit”, we’ve heard hide nor hair of our favourite red-head ever since. However, it seems to all be for good reason, as he made a sensational return to music this month with a double single release.

The promise of imminent new material has slowly been drip-fed to us – again through social media – in the first instance with Sheeran changing his public display picture to nothing more than a plain blue square, leaving fans asking ‘but what does it mean?.’ Since then, Sheeran has dropped a host of teasers online, the first of which being on New Year’s Day; a short video of him waving to the camera and holding up a sign saying ‘new music coming Friday!!.’ Following that, Sheeran has unveiled a series of promotional video clips and images in the week leading up to the release.

Taken from his upcoming studio album ‘÷’ – carrying on the numerical theme of his previous full-lengths – Sheeran surprised everyone with the double release including tracks, ‘Shape Of You’ and ‘Castle On The Hill’. It’s fair to say that while the two are very different, both undoubtedly share that distinctive je ne sais quoi that belongs only to Ed Sheeran.

‘Shape Of You’ is an upbeat track with a breezy, Jamaican, dance-hall vibe. It’s sexy, with lyrics like ‘Boy, let’s not talk too much, grab on my waist and put that body on me, and an overall sound that you can really groove to. The harmonies throughout the chorus show Sheeran’s range beautifully, while also adding texture. This definitely wouldn’t be out of place blaring full-blast in a club – despite the song’s opening line.

In contrast, ‘Castle On The Hill’ has more of a straight-up rock feel. Opening with an electric guitar riff, the song is a nostalgic account of childhood, innocence and fond memories. This is demonstrated through, both the romantic feel of the lyrics (I know I’ve grown, but I can’t wait to go home/ I’m on my way, driving at 90 down these country lanes) and the ebb and flow of the instrumental. The swelling, epic-sounding chorus was made to fill every corner of an arena and also has major inspirational vibes. It’s testament to the fact that no matter who you are, what your job is, or how old you get, there really is no place like home.

Personally, I love both of these songs. I can’t stop listening to either of them and my favourite is constantly changing; I don’t think it’s actually possible to pick one. I for one, am glad Ed Sheeran is finally out of musical hibernation – please don’t leave us for so long next time.

 

What do you think of the new tracks ‘Shape Of You’ and ‘Castle On The Hill’? Do you have a favourite? Feel free to let me know in a comment :).

 

 

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My Top 10 Interview Wish-List

Greetings readers,

Today’s post is one that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I originally planned to upload it as a video, but that proved to be a bit of a faff, so I decided to write it instead and…well, here we are.

I’ve always said that interviewing is my favourite aspect of what I do; it’s always exciting for me to interview an artist because I’m just little ol’ me who started a blog at university, I don’t have the added benefit of an established magazine behind me, it is just me. As a result, there are people I’d love to interview that I’ll probably never get the chance to, so I thought I’d compile a Top 10 wish-list of my dream interviewees.

Firstly though, I’d like to talk a bit about my interview style and what inspired my particular approach. The reason I interview anyone is because I admire their work, so when I get the opportunity to talk to an artist my goal is to make them feel as comfortable as possible. By doing this the interview becomes more conversational, which makes for a better experience; let’s face it, uber-formal, stilted interviews aren’t a comfortable watch, or read, and you’re less likely to get the best responses.

I watch a lot of interviews and the person that always sticks in my mind is Ellen DeGeneres. If you watch The Ellen Show, you’ll know that it looks like a hugely fun environment – from being in the audience to being a guest – and you can tell that there’s a genuine admiration or friendship between Ellen and the majority of her interviewees. The fact that the likes of Taylor Swift and Gwen Stefani have been on the show multiple times is testament to the warm and welcoming environment Ellen creates, and it always makes for a great watch. This down-to-earth, semi-informal, atmosphere is what I try to achieve with my own interviews.

‘So who’s in your Top 10?’ I hear you ask… continue reading to find out.

 

#1 Demi Lovato

I think Demi Lovato is an extremely inspiring young woman. I’ve reviewed many of her songs on this blog and I think, musically, she’s a powerhouse. Outside of her music, Lovato has been very vocal in regards to her struggles with mental health, including discovering she was bi-polar and conquering an eating disorder. She has since spoken out about the controversy’s that have surrounded her and has chosen to become a positive influence to others, stating that she wants to be the difference for people who think they have to look, or be, a certain way to be considered cool. I watched an MTV documentary on Lovato, ‘Staying Strong’, which gave an insight into her struggles and treatment, and it moved me to tears at points. I think often we forget that people in the public eye are just that – people, and it takes a strong person to be able to admit so publicly that they have done things they aren’t proud of, and change their ways. It’s for these reasons, and more, that I’d love to talk to Demi Lovato about her career, life, aspirations for the future and everything in between.

Click here to see my review of Lovato’s single ‘Confident.’

 

#2 Alex DeLeon

If you’ve read my blog before then you’ll definitely recognise this name. Alex DeLeon is the lead vocalist of The Cab – a band I was fortunate enough to interview back in 2012, via email, after contacting their manager. However, DeLeon has recently unveiled a brand new solo project under the moniker Bohnes. Having released a number of singles it’s clear that the singer’s newest venture is a world away from the pop-rock sounds of The Cab, favouring a more synth based, pop/dance sound. So, does this mean an uncertain future for the band? It’d be great to sit down with DeLeon to chat about this new project, the status of the band, and what he has coming up.

Click here to see my review of DeLeon’s debut single as Bohnes, ‘Guns and Roses.’

 

#3 Sketch & Stevie P

If you’re a fan of E4’s hugely popular TV show ‘Tattoo Fixers’ then you’ll already be familiar with half of this duo. Let’s be honest, I feel like I could talk to Sketch about tattooing (and a mutual love of Sloths) for ages, but outside of his work in tattooing, he also makes music. I first became aware of this after stumbling across a 30 second clip of a song called ‘I Walk With’, featuring Stevie P, that the tattooist shared on Twitter. With its heavy rock sound, complete with raw scream vocals, it came across as very Bring Me The Horizon-esque; I definitely wanted to hear the full track. Following this, the lads released a song called ‘Everything (Part 2)’, and what I was met with totally caught me off guard; it was rap, totally not what I was expecting. However, the song is undeniably beautiful, and you’d have to be made of stone not to be moved by it.

Five months on, the guys have yet to release a follow-up but have teased that new single ‘Street Lights’ is in the pipeline. Stevie has said via Twitter that the duo are currently facing ‘a few minor issues,’ and Sketch has also previously tweeted that he’s unable to release music at the moment, so there are obviously bigger things at play here. Having said that, it’d be great to chat to the pair about their music at some point and see what they have planned. I bet they’d be a really interesting pair to have a chat with too.

I’d also just like to say that I know ‘Tattoo Fixers’ has been getting a lot of negative press over the last few weeks, mainly over how the show is made, allegations of plagiarism concerning designs, and its implications on the tattooing industry as a whole. These aren’t things that I feel qualified to comment on, however, I can say that as a viewer I really enjoy the show and I like each of the artist’s different styles (I’ve actually emailed both Sketch and Alice about possibly getting pieces done by them.) Personally, I’d love to hang out on-set for a day to see for myself how things are done, so I could say from experience ‘this is what goes on’.

Click here to see my review of ‘Everything (Part 2)’.

 

#4 Vicky Pattison

I don’t know about you, but having never watched Geordie Shore, I had no idea who Vicky Pattison was until she appeared on last year’s ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.’ However, I see that as a good thing because I had no preconceived notions of her going in; as I’ve said elsewhere in this post, it’s all too easy to judge someone based on their media coverage. I thought she was absolutely brilliant, hilarious and a lovely, down-to-earth girl. She gave an interview on Loose Women following winning ‘I’m A Celeb’, and I was even more struck by how eloquent and candid she was. Again, it takes a strong person to hold their hands up and admit their wrong-doings and I have a lot of respect for her for doing that and changing her ways  – and with it the public’s perception of her. I think she’d be great fun to talk to about how she, and her career, have grown since Geordie Shore (and I daresay she’d be brilliant company on a night out as well!)

 

#5 Zoe Sugg & Gabriella Lindley

If you don’t know who Zoe Sugg and Gabriella Lindley (AKA Zoella and Velvet Gh0st) are, then to you I ask, where have you been? The two are huge hits on YouTube, with their beauty tips as well as follow-me-around style videos, having racked up millions of subscribers between them. One of the first videos I saw of Zoe’s was one about dealing with anxiety, and I had huge admiration for her taking on that subject because it takes guts to discuss that sort of thing so publicly. Similarly, Gabriella is also very candid and open about her struggles with the same issues, and knowing that both the girls suffer with anxiety is one of the reasons why I’d like to interview them together. I feel like they’d be more comfortable because they’d have each other for support, rather than it being a one-on-one situation which might make them feel more pressure – which totally isn’t what I’m going for. I watch both the girls’ videos regularly and I love their personalities and the way they come across onscreen, so it’d be awesome to chat to them about their internet presence and being in the public eye. Gabriella has also started posting covers among her video content, click here to check out my review of her most recent cover of Ariana Grande’s ‘Leave Me Lonely’, featuring fellow YouTuber Hobbie Stuart.

 

#6 Taylor Swift

As I said in my previous review of Swift’s fifth studio album, 1989: ‘whatever your opinion of the darling of pop music, you can’t deny that Taylor Swift is slaying the industry at the moment.’ From taking on the likes of Apple and Spotify, she seems to be everywhere. I’ve been a fan of Swift’s since the early days of ‘Love Story’ back in 2008, and since then we’ve seen her grow into the artist that she is today who looks set to take over the world. As with the majority of people in the public eye, everyone has an opinion on Swift, be it positive or negative there will always be one, and I think it would be great to be able to have an opinion based off of actual personal experience rather than media sensationalism.

Click here to see my review of Swift’s album ‘1989.’

 

#7 Ed Sheeran

There is one simple reason for this pick: I love Ed Sheeran. From his magnificent music to his endearingly down-to-earth nature, he comes across as a genuinely nice guy – and those are always the best kinds of people. He has said things in previous interviews that I whole-heartedly agree with, and his passion for what he does is undeniable. Sheeran is currently taking a break from social media, but has said that he’ll be back in the autumn with a brand-new album. It would be absolutely amazing to be one of the first to speak to him about his new music and what makes it “the best thing [he has] made thus far.”

Click here to see my review of Sheeran’s most recent album ‘X.’

 

#8 Simon Cowell

I know this will seem like a controversial choice, but that’s exactly my reasoning. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll know who Simon Cowell is and, whether you love him or loathe him, everyone has their own opinion of the music mogul. It’s safe to say that the majority of these opinions will be based on media perception and what we read – unless you’re a close personal friend of Mr. Cowell that is. Personally, I like to judge people based on my own experience of them as opposed to hearsay, (remember the old saying ‘don’t believe everything you read’?) and I would just love the chance to talk to Simon Cowell about the industry, and discover for myself what the big man in music is actually like.

 

#9 Gerard Way

The My Chemical Romance frontman was a huge inspiration to me growing up, aside from the fact that I loved the band’s music, I watched a lot of interviews with Way and I was always struck by his way with words. He would always put his points across eloquently and with such honesty; which I think is what gained him the unwavering respect of a generation of music fans, including me. A lot of people took Way to their hearts and revered him, almost like a hero, and I am proud to say that I grew up in a time when the band existed. They had their fair share of negative attention, but I have nothing but fond memories of their music and being inspired by them. I’m so glad I got to see them live before they split; it’d be a dream come true to catch up with Gerard Way and chat about his career after MCR and what he is up to at the moment.

 

#10 You Me At Six

Again, my teenage self wouldn’t be happy if this Surrey-based quintet didn’t make an appearance. You Me At Six have been one of my favourite bands since I was 17 and, now in my 20s, I feel as though I’ve grown up with them and their music. They have yet to make an album that I dislike, and they always put on a killer live show; I’ve seen them play 10 times and the last time I went I felt like one of the oldest people in the room (long gone are the days of me wearing brightly coloured fishnets, a tutu and home-made t-shirts.) Being that YMAS are one of my longest standing favourite bands it’d be great to speak to them about their career to date, and what their next move is.

Click here to see my live review of You Me At Six at Brixton Academy.

 

And there you have it, there are some artists I’ve interviewed before that I’d love to follow-up with, but for this list I decided to just include those that I’d probably have no chance of ever interviewing.

Who would be your dream person to interview? Are there any from my list that you wouldn’t mind having a good ol’ chin-wag with? Feel free to let me know in a comment :).

 

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My Top 5 Albums of 2015

Hello again, (as you can probably tell from the title) I’m going to share my Top 5 Albums of 2015 with you.

Now, if you’re a regular reader of my blog then you may notice that I have done full reviews of all-but-one of the following records. Be that as it may, I couldn’t not include them as these are all albums that were like the sound of 2015 to me. While some of them were released before 2015, I personally discovered them all during the course of the year and each of them really stuck out to me. (Please note: The albums are in order of my earliest to most recent finds.)

 

#1 Ed Sheeran – X

ed sheeran x album cover

I was given a copy of ‘X’ for Christmas 2014, and upon receiving it I listened to it every day for pretty much six months. On the whole ‘X’ is a fantastic album that demonstrates Sheeran’s ability to capture his listeners entirely…every song is packed with emotion and demands your attention. I love the seamless mix of the hip-hop and acoustic sound, and no song disappoints – there are some absolute gems here that need to be heard. I’d recommend it to everyone.

To see the full review click here.

 

#2 Taylor Swift – 1989

1989 cover

Whatever your opinion of pop music’s darling, there’s no denying that Taylor Swift is slaying the music industry at the moment. I’ve been a fan of Swift’s music since the early days of ‘Love Story,’ and it’s awesome to see how far she’s come as an artist – deservedly so. I realise she is a little bit like Marmite; some people love her and some people love to hate her, but personally I think ‘1989’ marks a totally new stage in her career. It’s clear that Swift has found her place within the industry and is comfortable in her own skin – and she has every right to be.

To see the full review click here.

 

#3 Rogue Re Vera – Don’t Bet On It, Kid

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‘Don’t Bet On It, Kid’ – the debut offering from New York based four-piece Rogue Re Vera – is a well rounded EP that works to showcase not only the band’s sound, but the diversity of it. Full of addictive tracks with insane hooks, the melodies are stunning and the lyrics, and vocals, are always brimming with passion and conviction. Whether it’s ballsy and raw or stripped-back and heartfelt, both are captivating – albeit in totally different ways. It’s clear that Rogue Re Vera are a force to be reckoned with.

To see the full review click here.

 

#4 Snowblind – Snowblind

Snowblind

As I’ve said in previous posts, Snowblind are a band I discovered whilst in Spain towards the end of the summer. I caught their set in a local bar and, after a brief chat with their vocalist, I was passed a copy of their debut self-titled offering – and the rest, as they say, is history. The album has fast become a firm favourite, as has the band. It’s definitely a case of ‘all killer, no filler’, each song bursting at the seams with emotion and passion that seems invariably deep rooted. With such a compelling sound not one track is flimsy or one-dimensional, it makes you wonder why these guys are not mainstream artists – I could definitely see them on the main stage at Reading Festival.

To see the full review click here.

 

#5 Bring Me The Horizon – That’s The Spirit

BMTH album cover

My most recent favourite; I’ve always known of Bring Me The Horizon but I couldn’t really deal with their hardcore/screamo sound of the early days, so my liking of their newer music kind of crept up on me. A far cry from their 2006 debut ‘Count Your Blessings’, ‘That’s The Spirit’ see’s BMTH shift away from their metalcore roots in favour of a more melodic, electronic sound. But die-hard fans need not fear, their trademark aggressive sound is still intact, complete with the gravelly, growl-like vocal tones from Mr. Sykes (but the upside is that you can actually understand it these days.) The result? An awesome album with some pretty anthemic tracks.

Keep an eye out for a full review of ‘That’s the Spirit’ in the next few weeks.

So, there you have it. What do you think of my Top 5 Albums of 2015? Do you agree with my choices? Are there any other albums you’ve been loving that I haven’t included? Feel free to let me know in a comment – I’m always on the lookout for new music.

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Up Next:

Tracks of the Month (January)

Jammin’ In July: The VMAs Nominations Are Up (+ Who I’d Vote For!)

Hi everyone,

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the entertainment news, or the highly publicised Twitter spat between Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift, then chances are you’ve seen that the nominations for the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) were unveiled early last week.

Leading the nominations is pop music’s darling Taylor Swift – who is up for nine awards including Video of The Year and Best Female – and hot on her heels is Brit singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran, who is up for six awards including Best Male and Best Cinematography for Thinking Out Loud.

Other notable nominations include Beyoncé with five – going head to head with Swift and Sheeran for Video of the Year – as well as Best Female Video for her track 7/11. Dynamic duo Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars are also nominated for five awards, for their much-loved number one hit Uptown Funk.

Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth are up for Best Hip Hop video with See you again – the poignant tribute to Fast and Furious actor Paul Walker – and VMA newbies Walk The Moon are up for Best Rock Video, alongside rock royalty Fall Out Boy.

It has also been announced that Miley Cyrus will be hosting this year’s awards, which many may think a controversial choice after THAT performance with Robin Thicke in 2013, so I’m excited to see what kooky antics will ensue.

So, seeing as I think the nominations are an alright bunch this year, I thought it’d be fun to tell you who I’d vote for and why. I’ve listed the nominations in full so you can see the competition, and maybe tell me in a comment who you’d vote for.

 

VIDEO OF THE YEAR

Beyoncé – “7/11″

Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud”

Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Bad Blood”

Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk”

Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”

My winner:

Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk”

Uptown Funk wins this category for me, hands down, because it’s so full of life. It has a zesty old-school quality – the choreography is reminiscent of something The Jackson Five would’ve done back in the day – but it’s been brought forward and somewhat modernised without losing it’s retro coolness. Likewise, the ending (in the New York night club kind of setting) with the neon lights and the smoke has a very 80’s feel that’s just cool. It’s quirky, it’s fun and it doesn’t take its self too seriously (Mars’ and Ronsons’ hair salon moment, I’m looking at you here.)

 

BEST MALE VIDEO

Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud”

Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk”

Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”

The Weeknd – “Earned It”

Nick Jonas – “Chains”

My winner:

Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud”

I chose Thinking Out Loud because, when you watch it, you can see how much work Sheeran must’ve put in to perfect that dance; he didn’t just stand with a microphone and lip-sync while someone danced around him, he learned the routine and danced with her. I think it’s an incredible, beautiful, romantic video and personally I just prefer it.

 

BEST FEMALE VIDEO

Beyoncé – “7/11″

Taylor Swift – “Blank Space”

Nicki Minaj – “Anaconda”

Sia – “Elastic Heart”

Ellie Goulding – “Love Me Like You Do”

My winner:

Taylor Swift – “Blank Space”

I know that Taylor Swift is up for a lot of awards this year, but you can’t deny that this video is extremely polished and well put together. It’s picturesque from the get-go, from the locations to the costumes, there’s a sense of old-school glamour and lavishness to the whole thing. It has a dream-like, fantasy quality throughout whilst still having a clear narrative and sense of story; demonstrating the lighter and darker sides to a relationship. It’s for this reason that I chose it as my winner for Best Female Video.

 

BEST HIP HOP VIDEO

Fetty Wap – “Trap Queen”

Nicki Minaj – “Anaconda”

Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”

Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth – “See You Again”

Big Sean ft. E-40 – “I Don’t F–k With You”

My winner:

Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth – “See You Again”

Again, a very beautiful and picturesque video with some gorgeous view shots and sunset backdrops. There’s a good mix of performance and film footage, with a lot of shots of the late Paul Walker, making it very poignant and moving to watch.

 

BEST POP VIDEO

Beyoncé – “7/11″

Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud”

Taylor Swift – “Blank Space”

Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk”

Maroon 5 – “Sugar”

My winner:

Maroon 5 – “Sugar”

I love the whole ‘wedding crashers’ element to this, I think it’s a really original idea for a music video and they seem to have pulled it off very well. The surprise on people’s faces is brilliant to watch; from the chef in the kitchen as the band walk through, to one stunned bride who drops an F-bomb.  The feel good vibe is infectious – you can’t help but smile when you watch it.

 

BEST ROCK VIDEO

Hozier – “Take Me To Church”

Fall Out Boy – “Uma Thurman”

Florence + the Machine – “Ship To Wreck”

Walk the Moon – “Shut Up and Dance”

Arctic Monkeys – “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”

My winner:

Fall Out Boy – “Uma Thurman”

The concept for this video is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. It centres on a fan winning a contest to be the band’s assistant for the day, but with no ‘ordinary’ tasks. Between walking a zebra, flying in a wind tunnel, playing paintball with Pete Wentz against Brendon Urie (P!ATD) and Brian Dales (The Summer Set), and covering Patrick in chicks and bunnies, it’s original, wildly inventive and a little bit bizarre. Looks like it was a lot of fun to be a part of!

 

ARTIST TO WATCH

Fetty Wap – “Trap Queen”

Vance Joy – “Riptide”

George Ezra – “Budapest”

James Bay – “Hold Back The River”

FKA Twigs – “Pendulum”

My winner(s):

George Ezra – “Budapest” 

Or, James Bay – “Hold Back The River”

Quite honestly I couldn’t choose between these two artists, I love both these tracks. Visually I think Ezra’s has more going on in the video, but I’d be happy for either of them to win.

 

BEST COLLABORATION

Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Bad Blood”

Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk”

Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth – “See You Again”

Ariana Grande & The Weeknd – “Love Me Harder”

Jessie J + Ariana Grande + Nicki Minaj – “Bang Bang”

My winner:

Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk”

Again, this one was a no-brainer for me. Click here to see my previous review of the track.

 

VIDEO WITH A SOCIAL MESSAGE

Jennifer Hudson – “I Still Love You”

Colbie Caillat – “Try”

Big Sean ft. Kanye West and John Legend – “One Man Can Change the World”

Rihanna – “American Oxygen”

Wale – “The White Shoes”

My winner: ?!

To be honest, I’m really undecided on this category – which would you vote for?

 

BEST ART DIRECTION

Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Bad Blood” (Charles Infante)

Snoop Dogg – “So Many Pros” (Jason Fijal)

Jack White – “Would You Fight For My Love” (Jeff Peterson)

The Chemical Brothers – “Go” (Michel Gondry)

Skrillex & Diplo – “Where Are U Now” with Justin Bieber (Brewer)

My winner:

Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Bad Blood” (Charles Infante)

Another no-brainer in my opinion; the art direction in this video is fantastic. The concept really ties in with the superhero/villain genre, which is hugely popular at the moment, and it’s executed flawlessly. It’s high-end, glossy and has a very cinematic ‘movie-trailer’ feel to it.

 

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY

Beyoncé – “7/11″ (Beyoncé, Chris Grant, Additional choreography: Gabriel Valenciano)

OK Go – “I Won’t Let You Down” (OK Go, air:man and Mori Harano)

Chet Faker – “Gold” (Ryan Heffington)

Ed Sheeran – “Don’t” (Nappy Tabs)

Flying Lotus ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Never Catch Me” (Keone and Mari Madrid)

My winner:

Ed Sheeran – “Don’t” (Nappy Tabs)

I love this style of choreography and it doesn’t look an easy thing to master. The whole routine is very slick and really well stylised; some of things the dancer does with his body completely baffles me at times.

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Flying Lotus ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Never Catch Me” (Larkin Sieple)

Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud” (Daniel Pearl)

Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Bad Blood” (Christopher Probst)

FKA Twigs – “Two Weeks” (Justin Brown)

Alt-J – “Left Hand Free” (Mike Simpson)

My winner:

Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Bad Blood” (Christopher Probst)

As I mentioned previously, Bad Blood has a very cinematic feel to it. It’s so slick and high-quality that it’s almost as if you’re watching a mini-movie trailer – so a bit of a given that I’d choose it as my winner for ‘Best Cinematography.’

 

BEST DIRECTION

Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Bad Blood” (Joseph Kahn)

Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk” (Bruno Mars and Cameron Duddy)

Kendrick Lamar – “Alright” (Colin Tilley & The Little Homies)

Hozier – “Take Me To Church” (Brendan Canty and Conal Thomson of Feel Good Lost)

Childish Gambino – “Sober” (Hiro Murai)

My winner(s):

Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Bad Blood” (Joseph Kahn)

Or, Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk” (Bruno Mars and Cameron Duddy)

Again, I couldn’t choose between these two, pretty much for the same reason that I picked them for Best Art Direction and Video of The Year, respectively.

 

BEST EDITING

Beyoncé – “7/11″ (Beyoncé, Ed Burke, Jonathan Wing)

Ed Sheeran – “Don’t” (Jacquelyn London)

Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Bad Blood” (Chancler Haynes at Cosmo Street)

A$AP Rocky – “L$D” (Dexter Navy)

Skrillex & Diplo “Where Are U Now” with Justin Bieber (Brewer)

My winner:  

Ed Sheeran – “Don’t” (Jacquelyn London)

 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Bad Blood” (Ingenuity Studios)

FKA Twigs – “Two Weeks” (Gloria FX, Tomash Kuzmytskyi, and Max Chyzhevskyy)

Childish Gambino – “Telegraph Ave.” (Gloria FX)

Skrillex & Diplo “Where Are U Now” with Justin Bieber (Brewer)

Tyler, The Creator – “F****** Young/Death Camp” (Gloria FX)

My winner:

Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Bad Blood” (Ingenuity Studios)

 

And there you have it. What do you think of my choices? Would you vote differently? I always find it interesting to compare opinions as everybody is different so, as I said, feel free to leave a comment and tell me who you’d vote for.

Ed Sheeran: ‘X’ Album Review

I think it’s fair to say that this certain red-headed singer/songwriter needs no introduction, because I’m pretty sure that no matter where you live, you’ve heard of Ed Sheeran – unless you’ve been living under a rock, that is.

ed sheeran x album cover

Nearly three years after the release of his debut offering ‘+’, hotly anticipated follow-up, ‘X’, topped the album charts on both sides of the Atlantic in its first week of release, and earned its self a Brit Award for ‘British Album of the Year’ – and it’s easy to see, or hear, why.

Featuring no less than five hit singles, ‘X’ opens with gentle, acoustic ballad ‘One’. The delicate instrumental, and emotionality of the song conveyed in the vocals and lyrics, really sets the tone for the entire album. The song also brilliantly demonstrates Sheeran’s range, as he flips between his chest and head voice, with beautiful results. Following track ‘I’m a Mess’ picks up the pace a little bit and continues to highlight the incredible power of the vocals.

However, Sheeran quickly proves he isn’t just all about the ballads with tracks like – his first UK number one single – ‘Sing.’ Co-written with and produced by Pharrell Williams, the song demonstrates the Hip-Hop flair seen in previous works like ‘You Need Me I Don’t Need You.’ This vibe also carries throughout the record in numbers such as ‘Runaway’, ‘Don’t’, and ‘Bloodstream,’ alongside his signature acoustic/pop sound.

Lyrically, a prominent theme throughout the album is that of love and relationships – the good and the bad – ranging from family and platonic love, to romance. This is demonstrated in softer tracks like ‘Tenerife Sea’ – with its ‘I’m so in love’ refrain – the dreamy, charming vibe of ‘Thinking Out Loud’ – which Sheeran himself previously pegged as the ‘walking down the aisle’ song – and album closer ‘Afire Love’, a fiercely poignant song detailing his grandfather’s lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease, and the beauty of the love that his grandparents shared.

As a whole ‘X’ is a fantastic album that demonstrates Sheeran’s ability to capture his listeners entirely, not just through his stellar vocals, but through his ability to write amazing songs that have substance and tell a story. There is a good balance of up-tempo tracks and ballads, and every song is packed with emotion and demands your attention. I love the seamless mix of the hip-hop and acoustic sound, and no song disappoints – there are some absolute gems here that need to be heard. I’d recommend it to everyone.

 

Favourite Tracks:
One / Don’t / Nina / Runaway / Afire Love