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:

Facebook & Twitter
🙂

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Tracks I’ve Been Loving (6 month catch up!)

If you’re a regular visitor to my blog you know the drill by now, but just in case…

Tracks I’m Loving is a regular segment of mine where I post little mini-reviews on songs that I’ve been addicted to over the previous month. Now, the last time I did one of these was back in March *falls off chair in shock* so, because I’ve got six months to catch up on, there will be a few more than normal but I’ll try and keep them short and sweet. With that being said, let’s get into it…

William Beckett – Compromising Me

For those of you who were into with the pop-punk scene when it exploded in 2007, this name may be familiar to you. Yes, since their disbandment in 2011, ex-The Academy Is frontman has been going it alone as a solo artist.

But if you’re expecting to hear more of the same, you might be a little disappointed. That’s not to say this material is bad, far from it, it’s just different.

Taken from his debut solo EP, 2012’s ‘Walk The Talk’, Compromising Me is bold and assertive, with the accompaniment taking on an almost dreamy quality. The chorus is where the song really hits its stride; its jaunty vibe and bucket loads of defiance make for an explosive hook that will have crowds screaming along in no time (and it does… I’ve seen it.)

It always puts a smile on my face and it’s one of those songs that you can’t help but want to sing along to. Come on everybody, ‘I don’t, I don’t care what you’re saying about me, no I don’t care…’

*Tracks I’ve also been loving: Just You Wait.

 

Ellie Goulding – Beating Heart

Ellie Goulding has done it again.

I first heard this track when I went to see Divergent (Goulding has several tracks included on the soundtrack) and I was instantly intrigued by it. It starts off with quite a haunting sound, but still has that synthy, dance-like undertone that the majority of her songs possess.

Goulding’s slightly accented soprano vocals are flawless as always, she switches between the higher and lower notes of her range effortlessly, adding to the beauty of the track.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Ellie Goulding’s album Halcyon Days recently, and I love her voice; I find the fact that she sings with a slight accent really intriguing because it’s almost like you don’t know what she’s going to do next. One thing’s for sure, her music is always bursting with emotion; and this song certainly packs a punch.

*Tracks I’ve also been loving: Anything Could Happen/Burn/How Long Will I Love You.


Sam Smith – Stay With Me

What can I even say about this? The third single from British singer/songwriter Sam Smith’s debut album ‘The Lonely Hour’, Stay With Me, is a pop ballad drenched in soul and oozing emotion.

The song is an ode to unrequited love and, as such, you can almost feel the yearning and want throughout. Smith’s honey-voiced vocals drizzle over the piano accompaniment switching between the higher and lower notes with ease, always sounding well rounded and packed with soul.

With a few already under his belt, this song reached number one in both the UK and US charts and it’s easy to see why. Smith is fast becoming one of my personal favourite vocalists.

 

Sam Smith – Latch (Acoustic)

I couldn’t not give this track its own entry because it’s one that’s really come to mean a lot to me over the last few months.

I stumbled across this version online one night when good friend of mine and I were talking about the original, and because we all know I’m a sucker for different arrangements of songs I gave it a listen – and instantly fell in love.

The dance beat of the Disclosure version has been replaced by a piano and strings, allowing the lyrics to shine through rather than be overpowered. This also heightens the sentiment – giving it more of a heart-felt, comforting feel – and enables it to really come into its own as a love song.

Sam Smith’s vocals are, as always, unrivalled; his soulful tone perfectly connecting with, and conveying, the emotion of the track.

Captivating from the beginning to long after its ended; it’s a beautiful song that you can’t help but love (my friend and I are living proof of this as we made it our song for that very reason.)

 

Demi Lovato – I really Don’t Care

If you’ve read any of my previous ‘Tracks…’ posts, then you know I love me some Demi Lovato – and this is another song to add to the list.

Its jaunty opening is infectious from the get-go; the synthy dance beat giving a carefree and positive vibe to what is – at its core – a break up song. Demi’s vocals are – as always – impeccable, strong and full of emotion; with such conviction that you can hear in every word.

It’s a song that is making the best of a bad situation; instead of pining over the end of a relationship the rose coloured glasses have come off and you realise that things weren’t as perfect as you thought.

Empowering and motivational; it’s a massive two fingers up to THAT ex, “you can take your words and all your lies, I really don’t care.”

*Tracks I’ve also been loving: Give Me Love (Ed Sheeran Cover)

 

Nico & Vinz – Am I Wrong?

This is another song that my ‘latch-loving’ friend introduced me to; he asked me one night if I’d heard it and I hadn’t so, again, curiosity got the better of me and I went a-looking for it online.

Hailing from Oslow, Norway, the duo – made up of Nico Sereba and Vincent Dery – have already topped both the Scandinavian and UK charts with this track, having made its way across the airwaves since its original release as a digital download in 2013.

The song has a relatively chilled, slightly dreamy vibe, with inspirational lyrics about love and forming your own identity. It opens with a haunting soprano refrain of ‘ooh’s – a motif that reappears throughout the song – and there are also other instrumental elements in there that give a nod towards their African background.

It’s a great song that’s easy to listen to and has a positive underlying message.

 

Elissa Francheschi – Neon Lights

I first heard this song when Elissa posted a ‘bloopers’ video for it on YouTube and even though it was tongue in cheek and full of ‘mistakes’, I really liked the song and was itching to get my hands on the full version… and last month I finally got my wish.

Taken from her newest offering ‘Chemicals’, Neon Lights is everything you’d expect from Elissa Franceschi in the best possible sense. It’s a happy and nostalgic song about friendship and growing up, “go and escape, see what awaits you.”

Accompanied only by a piano there is room for everything to truly shine rather than be lost in an elaborate arrangement, from the instrumental, to the lyrics and Franceschi’s – as always – beautifully delicate, yet powerful, vocals.

With tracks like these it makes you wonder why she’s not a major mainstream artist; she sure as hell deserves to be.

**If you’d like to see my review of Franceschi’s previous EP ‘Deviod of Rue’ click here, and if you’d like to read either of our interviews click here (for my other site Music Is Love) and here.

 

Sleeping With Sirens – If You Can’t Hang

I’ve got to be completely honest, this song crept up on me in a huge way. I listened to it a year or so ago and I didn’t really think anything of it, but Sleeping With Sirens are a pretty big name in the rock world at the moment so I started to wonder if I was missing something and decided to give them a second chance. I listened to the song again and I did quite like it; then I found myself wanting to hear it every day and I was hooked.

The opening is slightly reminiscent of Black Mamba by The Academy Is, that is until the guitars crash through and give the track more of a hardcore feel, but arguably one of the most striking elements here is Kellin Quinn’s instantly identifiable vocals. Possessing a leggero tenor range, Quinn’s unique vocal sound is like Marmite; you either love it or hate it.

As well as this, the song has an insanely addictive bridge (“If you can’t hang then there’s the door baby” – I dare you not to sing along) which acts as a build up to the explosive yet melodic chorus. It just goes to show that you can’t always judge a song upon first listen.

 

Clean Bandit ft. Jess Glynne – Rather Be

If you haven’t heard this song, where have you been?!

This UK based electro-pop foursome produced one of, if not the, summer anthem of 2014. Combining elements of classical music with a synth-pop dance beat and Jess Glynne’s stong Adele-style vocals, the track has a fun, carefree vibe perfect for blasting in the summer sunshine.

After receiving the accolade of Hottest Record In The World on Zane Lowe’s weekly Radio One segment, the song went on to spend 4 weeks atop the UK charts and also become the fastest selling single of 2014 after its release – and it’s easy to see, or hear, why.

 

Bastille – Things We Lost In The Fire

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGR4U7W1dZU

I’ve been rediscovering my love for Brit indie-rockers Bastille lately – I included their track Pompeii in a previous ‘Tracks…’ post – and this just seems to be the song that I’m always gravitating towards.

Taken from their number one debut album ‘Bad Blood’, released just last year, Things We Lost In The Fire has quite a sombre feel to it in both the overarching tone and lyrics. However, the jaunty instrumental provides a funky contrast making it danceable, injecting a sense of fun and showing that it’s not all doom and gloom.

I also personally really enjoy Dan Smith’s vocal style; it’s one that kind of creeps up on me every time I hear it and reaffirms my fondness for the band.

 

As well as these 10 tracks, I’ve also been listening to a lot of You Me At Six’s ‘Cavalier Youth’ and Set It Off’s ‘Cinematics’ during my morning commute.

The latter have also just released their follow up album Duality and have premiered a handful of new tracks from the album online, including lead single Why Worry, NME (No More Excuses), and Tomorrow, featuring Mayday Parade vocalist Jason Lancaster. So, there will be an upcoming review of that album as a whole, which is why I didn’t feel the need to include certain tracks in this post.

If you made it this far, well done and thank you for reading – I’ve really enjoyed writing this post after such a long time and I’ve got so many ideas for posts that I want to upload soon so watch this space.

Happy New Year: Thank You’s and Here’s To 2014!

Hey everyone,

Here’s another slightly overdue blog post for you. Again, ideally I wanted to get this posted on New Year’s Day but things just got away from me. But, as it is the new year I just wanted to take a moment to talk about my highlights of 2013 and say thank you to the people who made those experiences possible.

In all honesty blogging took a backseat this year, I was in my last year of university and so all my time and energy was focused on that. January to February saw me working on my dissertation, and February through to April I was working on my final major project (which I’ll talk a bit about later in this post.) I graduated from university in June and by the end of May right through to the beginning of September I was enjoying some long overdue chill-out time, without the little voice in my head saying ‘you should be doing this, you should be doing that’, so as a result I didn’t post as much this year.

However, during the summer and at the tail end of this year, I’ve done some things and had some great opportunities that I’m really thankful  for.

I went to some amazing gigs, particularly The Summer Set on their first ever UK headlining tour in May, Room 94 on their sell-out UK tour in April, and Set It Off during their stint supporting Aussie Pop/rockers Tonight Alive in October.

These gigs were all standout to me for a host of different reasons, which I can’t really explain fully because it’s more to do with the experience and the atmosphere, and it’s hard to convey how being in a live environment truly feels unless you’ve experienced it. The excitement, the anticipation, the mutual appreciation and – as cheesy as it sounds – the love in the room.

The Summer Set always deliver a knockout show and it was their first ever UK headliner. The crowd lapped it up and the atmosphere in the room was nothing short of electric. It was one big party no body wanted to end.

Click to see the review

Click to see the review

Likewise with Room 94, their shows are always bursting with energy and fun, but it was Set It Off that caught me completely off guard. Like I said in my ‘Top 3 Albums of 2013’, I’d never listened to them before so I didn’t really have any expectations going into this show. But OH. MY. GOSH, it completely knocked me for six. Their live show was/is immense, energetic as hell, chaotic and really fun!
At shows I’m not usually in the crowd or the pit, and in this instance I was. It was really great to be in the thick of it and see everyone around you – as well as the people onstage – really feeling it.

The show its self was very theatrical, and the music lends its self to that 100%. There were also some memorable moments that have stayed with me. For instance, before playing their song ‘Dream Catcher’, vocalist Cody Carson gave this really heartfelt and inspirational speech before asking the audience to shout ‘I am not alone’. This intro and the audience’s reaction, the feeling in the room during that moment, had me in tears. This is a band that I would tell everyone to go and see for themselves, because it is truly something to be experienced. Now whenever I listen to the album it takes me back to that night, how much fun I had, and it always puts a huge smile on my face.

I also got to do a quick interview with Cody that night, and he was such a sweetheart about it considering that we had to stand outside the venue in the cold. Despite that, it was a lot of fun, he was really down-to-earth and easy to talk to, and we laughed pretty much the entire time. I really hope that I get to speak to him, and Set It Off, again in the future.

screenshots

Click to see our interview

Speaking of interviews, after a year of trying, I finally got to interview pop/rock party animals Room 94. Yes, it took a year of tweeting, emailing, I even chatted to, singer, Kieran Lemon about it being a possibility when I met them at shows. But you know what they say, if at first you don’t succeed…. And at long last my persistence paid off and I finally got through to management.

Despite some initial confusion when I turned up, everything was fine, and it was probably the most fun I’ve had doing an interview to date. The lads are such characters and they were really lovely. The whole thing was pretty hilarious really, I’d interview them again in a heartbeat.

Click to see the interview

Click to see the interview

Aside from this, I also created a start-up online magazine called ‘Music Is Love’ as part of my final major project for university. I’m not going to go into detail about the site because I’ve talked about it in the past, but I did want to mention it because in doing so I got to talk to some artists that I really admire. Some that I’ve spoken to before, like Elissa Franceschi, and others that I haven’t, like Austin Nivarel and Versaemerge’s Blake Harnage.

I also had the freedom – and time – to come up with, research, and write some interesting features that engaged me as a writer and put me in touch with certain people who I now consider friends. Such as, the breakdown of the divide between the artist and the audience, and the decline of the live music scene. (click to see each article.)  Even though it was a lot of work, I’m very pleased with the website and proud of how it turned out.

So really, I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who was involved in any way, whether it be the band members themselves, the managers or the PR reps. Particularly, in regards to interviews because without people agreeing to do interviews, or agreeing to let me interview their artists I wouldn’t get to do it, and the fact that I do means a lot to me because this is what I love. So thank you.

I want to get back into the habit of blogging, at least, twice a week in 2014 and catch up on the ideas for posts that I have accumulating in a list on my desktop. I’ll be doing a few more discussion type blogs as well, because writing reviews and interviews can get tiring when you’re constantly re-drafting and trying to make sure everything is polished and professional. Sometimes it’s just nice to sit down and say what’s on your mind. That being said, I also want to start writing more features because it’s something new to get your teeth into, and I enjoyed doing them for Music Is Love because it got me talking to different people and doing something a little different.

Also, I want to continue and complete my weekly ‘Throwback Thursday’ series that I started back in August, charting the evolution of my music taste. I started it with the intention to post every Thursday in the hope that it would get me blogging more regularly again, but things just got in the way. As I said, I’ve got a lot of ideas for posts backed up on my computer so I don’t know when I’ll pick this back up, but I will.

So there we have it. If you’ve made it this far, well done. 🙂 I know this blog was quite long and rambly but I don’t get to say a proper thank you often, and seeing as it’s the new year I thought it was fitting to do so, and to show that I don’t take these opportunities for granted.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you all have a fantastic 2014. 🙂

Top 3 Albums of 2013.

Hey everyone,

Sorry for the delay on this, I originally wanted to have it posted on the 30th, but I’m sure you can appreciate it was pretty hectic being new year and all.
But as the title suggests, I’m going to be sharing with you my top 3 albums of 2013, because 5 is too many and who can pick just one?!

I was also thinking of doing a ‘Top 10 Singles’ post but, considering that I do ‘Tracks I’m Loving’ posts throughout the year, I didn’t really see much point as it’s essentially the same thing.

 

The Summer Set – Legendary

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Legendary is the third full-length album from pop-rockers The Summer Set. The Arizona based five piece released their newest offering on April 15th in the UK, nearly two years after their sophomore album Everything’s Fine.

Legendary saw the quintet go back to their roots, bringing back the pop-rock party that we first fell in love with them for, with insanely addictive tracks like ‘Boomerang’, ‘Lightning In A Bottle’ and the cheekily named, ‘Fuck You Over’.

However, there is still a good mix of tempos and emotions here. From the inspirational ‘Maybe Tonight’ and ‘Someday’, to title track ‘Legendary’, a heartfelt song about the realisation that you’ve lost your way and you’re trying to find it, complete with How I Met Your Mother and Peter Pan references.

“I just wanna be legendary, yeah we all wanna be legendary to somebody.” Well I’d say that The Summer Set are legendary to quite a few somebodies.

Check out my previous review of ‘Maybe Tonight’ HERE

 

 

Elissa Franceschi – Devoid Of Rue

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I’m not going to go into too much detail as to why I chose this EP as, if you follow my blog at all, you may remember that I did a more in-depth, track by track review back in August shortly after its release.

With that in mind, there’s not much more I can say about it without repeating myself, so if you’d like to know why this EP made it into my ‘Top 3 Albums of 2013’ click HERE.

The review received a lot of positive feedback, with Elissa herself calling it “wonderful.”

 

 

Set It Off – Cinematics

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Again, if you follow my blog at all, then you may remember that I got the chance to interview Set It Off frontman Cody Carson back in October, after their set at The Electric Ballroom in Camden supporting Tonight Alive.

I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard any of Set It Off’s music before that night, but as soon as their set was over, I pretty much raced over to the merch table and bought the album. It showcases the band’s orchestral pop/rock brilliantly – and you’re definitely getting your money’s worth – with 16 killer tracks including the acoustic version of their poignant, inspiring track ‘Dream Catcher’, and a Mira remix of ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead’.

There’s a heavy theatrical element running through this album too, with Cody Carson’s heavily expressive vocals, and concept tracks like ‘Partners In Crime’ telling stories. ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead’ sounds like a monologue, complete with a chilling nursery rhyme intro and creepy maniacal laughs.

But, amongst the tunefully chaotic numbers that are sure to get crowds moving – like ‘Plastic Promises’ and ‘Kill The Lights’ – there are also some extremely heartfelt and captivating songs in the form of, the aforementioned, ‘Dream Catcher’ and ‘Dad’s Song’, an emotional tribute to Carson’s father who passed away in 2008 after battling cancer.

It really is a fantastic album, and it lends its self to performance due to the theatricality weaving through it.
Check out my interview with vocalist Cody Carson HERE.)

 

  • Demi Lovato’s latest album ‘Demi’ just missed out on inclusion, as I have been addicted to a few of the singles from the album in the last few weeks, but as it was so close to the end of the year these albums have been in my life for longer. 🙂

 

UP NEXT:

  • 2013 Thank you’s + on to 2014
  • One To Watch: Issues

Tracks I’m Loving, Let’s Play Catch Up.

Hey everyone. So I’ll be honest this blog is going back a couple of months, but because I’m so sick of being behind with these ‘Tracks I’m Loving’ posts I’m using this one to get up to speed *thumbs up*.

The reason I tend to get behind is because when I like something, I’m one of these people who can listen to it non stop for weeks and weeks, which is exactly what I’ve been doing. So this post will be a little bit different, in terms of less video content, as a lot of the tracks are ones that I’ve mentioned in previous posts or are pretty well-known.

Along with a couple of new additions, I’ve been listening to a lot of The Summer Set’s newest album Legendary, and I had Room 94’s Superstar, and Robbie Coles’ Hey Summer on repeat for a while. (Feel free to check out my reviews of both singles HERE and HERE respectively.)

I also really got back into The Script – particularly Hall Of Fame and If You Could See Me Now – after being completely addicted to The Voice, and All Time Low after digging out their live session EP. I love hearing live versions of tracks, in particular here I liked the differences in vocal tones and the energy of the band vibing off each other, Jack Barratt’s playful little interjections also give it a relaxed feel. I also really dig Time-Bomb, Somewhere In Neverland and Backseat Serenade, which features guest vocals from Ex-Hey Monday front-woman and The Voice USA winner, Cassadee Pope.

 

If you’re a regular follower of my blog, then you may also know that I did a pretty hefty review of Elissa Franceschi’s newest EP Devoid Of Rue a while back. The feedback I got from that was great, Elissa tweeted me and said she thought it was “wonderful” and shared it on both her Twitter and Facebook pages. I was so grateful and pleased that she liked it, and it was pretty awesome for me considering that I’m a really big fan of her music. So it’s pretty much a given that I was hooked on that for a while.

Click to see my review

Click to see my review

There was also a period, particularly after THAT performance/reunion at The VMA’s, that I was listening to a lot of old school ‘Nsync and Justin Timberlake. (Prepare for the fan-girl moment here!)

 

I mean come on! his vocals are stunning as ever, and he’s undeniably an amazing performer, plus ‘N Sync…tour please! I also fell in love with a few tracks from Timberlake’s new album – namely Suit & Tie, Take Back The Night and Dress On – all of which are smooth and effortless.

Speaking of smooth and effortless vocals, Robin Thicke’s another one worth noting. I know there’s been a lot of controversy and whatever else surrounding his chart hit Blurred Lines, but personally I like the song. It is abundantly clear that Thicke is an astounding vocalist, positively sleek and drenched in soul, with a tone that oozes seductiveness. I watched a video of him from Radio One’s Live Lounge and was struck by how at ease he was, projecting and hitting every note perfectly without breaking a sweat.

 

Lastly, partly due to her inclusion on The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones soundtrack and simply because I think she’s amazingly talented, I’ve re-discovered my love for Demi Lovato. I watched her Stay Strong documentary that has been shown on MTV and it really struck a chord with me. In a previous ‘Tracks…’ post I mentioned how I was in complete awe of her song Skyscraper, so I decided to dig out some of the older tracks, in particular Fix A Heart, Give Your Heart A Break, and my personal favourite Believe In Me.

 

I’ve also been listening to her newer singles like Made In The USA, and the fiercely romantic Heart by Heart which, as said, features on the City Of Bones soundtrack.

 

Anyways, that’s it for now and if you’ve made it this far into the post, thanks for reading! I’ll be resuming my 2-3 posts a week schedule this week. I’ve got a (finally!) up to date ‘Tracks I’m Loving’ post coming for ya, and some reviews on some really great bands that I can’t wait to get started on. 😀

Elissa Franceschi – Devoid Of Rue

After a two year break following the release of her third studio album ‘Into the Light’, London based songstress Elissa Franceschi is back with her newest offering ‘Devoid Of Rue’. After building up a significant online following via social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, this five track EP was funded entirely by a pledge music campaign, an online scheme that see’s fans getting involved in the funding of musical projects.*

Elissa Franceschi

Within three months Elissa had surpassed the 100% goal and reached 119%. “It’s very special to think that it’s being funded by the fans.” She said during an interview for my online magazine Music Is Love, “I thought it was going to fail, I was at about 30% for the first 2 months, then I gave it a massive push and it just went nuts.”**

And it’s easy to see, or rather hear, why. There is no denying that Franceschi is an extremely talented artist, her delicate yet powerful piano-driven pop music has seen her land a performance at the London Olympic park on the Emerging Icons stage, sell out her EP launch show at London’s Notting Hill Arts Centre and gain national air play on Radio One, after her single ‘Salt’ was voted track of the week, surpassing the likes of Beyoncé and Justin Bieber.

 

Speaking of ‘Devoid Of Rue’ Elissa says, “content wise, they are stories from a girl who, simply put, was a little bit broken for a while, but she came out the other side.” So it’s clear that this record is a very personal one, and in true Elissa fashion all the songs are hopeful, powerful, and have emotion in spades.

Opening track ‘All These Days’ is empowering from the get-go, with lyrics like “time to dry those tears, I am done with this.” The gentle opening allows the bridge – with its steady burst of drums – to build up to the chorus, which crashes through with its uplifting melody and bucket-loads of optimism that will leave listeners with a smile on their face long after the song is finished. It shows that, even in the midst of a difficult situation, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Next up is ‘Oceans’, a much slower and sombre affair. Brimming with sentiment, the raw emotion is almost palpable throughout. It perfectly captures the emotional turmoil that comes with being in the thick of a heartbreak, and will no doubt elicit a strong emotional reaction from anyone who listens to it.

In contrast ‘Outside My Body’ is cheeky, playful, and flirtatious. Arguably the most up-tempo track we’ve heard from Elissa until now, the song has an almost jazzy feel to it, and shows that she isn’t just all about the ballads. It’s also one of the first songs where you can hear the changes Elissa has undergone musically, namely, now having a band behind her. There is definitely a party vibe running throughout this track, though the theme of heartbreak still lingers, the dark undertones expressed by lyrics such as: “I’m looking for some temporary magic, I know the fairytales don’t last.” But overall it’s fun and, I expect, great to experience live.

Penultimate track ‘Chasing Something’ slows things down again and embodies the beginnings of accepting a break up, much like a moment of clarity after all the pain and confusion has somewhat subsided. Similarly, final track ‘Dust’ centers around letting go and moving forward, which can be seen through lyrics such as, “you can’t say that I didn’t try, I guess I just had to say goodbye.” Elissa’s smooth and powerful vocals accentuate the emotion of the track beautifully, and the track its-self ties everything together brilliantly and works to bring the theme of the EP to a close.

Personally I really love and enjoy this record, and even though the running theme is love and heartbreak, that doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom. It’s stark in its realism which makes each track poignant, beautiful and extremely relatable. When I last spoke to Elissa she said, “I hope [the EP] sounds epic and at the same time incredibly intimate.” And I for one think she’s done exactly that.

So, what’s next in camp Franceschi? I hear you ask. Well Elissa has just announced a six date Autumn tour, see banner below for venues and cities, and has also been confirmed as a Headline act for ‘Underground Festival’ in September.

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All of Elissa’s tracks, including ‘Devoid Of Rue’, are available for download from ITunes.

*I wrote an article on fan-funding and similar schemes for my online magazine. Click HERE if you want to check it out, it’s the first long feature: ‘With A Little Help From My Friends.’

**If you’d like to see my previous interviews with Elissa, click HERE for our 2011 interview ahead of the release of ‘Into The Light’, and click HERE for the interview we did on ‘Devoid of Rue’ and the Pledge Music scheme, for my online magazine Music Is Love.

Sophie says: Sorry about the wait on this review! I know the EP was released a while ago now but this EP carries a lot of significance to me personally, in that I can hugely relate to it. So it was important to me that I had enough distance to write about it from a journalistic stand-point for the blog and not just gush about it, because the tracks did inspire strong reactions from me (Oceans in particular made me cry the first time I heard it!) I think it’s great when people can relate to music but I didn’t want my journalistic opinion to be overshadowed because, it really is a fantastic EP. But don’t take my word for it! Go and give it a listen and see for yourself.

Tracks I was Loving (June edition)

So here’s another Tracks I’m Loving catch up, here are the tracks that I couldn’t get enough of throughout late May – June.

Demi Lovato – Heart Attack

 

This song speaks to me on a personal level, which is my main reason for loving it so much. I can really identify with it lyrically and relate to the message of the song. The track its self has quite an abrupt feel to it and is a step in more of an edgy direction, but still stays within the pop realm. Demi’s vocals are spot on in terms of conveying the emotion of the lyrics, as well as showcasing her powerful range. It’s not an easy song to sing, and I think Demi does a great job.

 

Passenger – Let Her Go

 

The second single from Passenger’s debut album, ‘Let Her Go’ was a massive chart hit. Reaching number 2 in the UK and number 1 in a host of other countries, this folky, guitar driven ballad is gentle and beautiful in its simplicity. The delicate instrumental allows the distinctive vocals and poetic lyrics to take centre stage here, “you only need the light when it’s burning low, only miss the sun when it starts to snow, only know you love her when you let her go.” It’s a poignant song that will undoubtedly make you feel something.

 

Leighton Meester – A Little Bit Stronger

 

Ok, so I have Becky from Blogs Of A Bookaholic to thank for this one. I’m a huge fan of country music and I’m so glad she introduced me to this song. It’s a  track about believing in yourself and your inner strength in the face of pain. Meester’s vocals are great at conveying the emotion of the song, switching between soft and powerful effortlessly, and the lyrics are inspirational and empowering. Even if you’re not such a fan of ‘country’ music I’d strongly recommend giving this song a chance, the message and ethos of it renders the genre almost irrelevant, it could just as easily be a pop crossover track that you’d typically hear from the likes of Taylor Swift. It’s another one of those tracks that I can relate to personally, and I’m sure a lot of other people can. “I’m telling myself I’ll be okay, even on my weakest days, I get a little bit stronger.”

 

Daft Punk – Get Lucky

 

Simply put this is a great party song perfect for blasting in the summer sunshine, and with such a repetitively catchy chorus, I dare you not to sing along.

 

Action Item – Learn to Fly

 

I’d never heard of these guys until I saw them supporting The Summer Set at KCLSU in May, (click HERE for review) but they put on a great show and their sunshiney pop/rock fun was infectious. After seeing them live I decided to check out their stuff online, and this song didn’t disappoint. With an insanely catchy chorus and Brian Cag’s sleek and smooth vocals, you can see why they’ve already got support slots with the likes of Selena Gomez and Boys Like Girls under their belts. Produced by Nick Jonas, the recorded version of the song is definitely more geared towards the pop end of the spectrum but that needn’t be, and in this case isn’t, a bad thing. A great slice of upbeat, summery pop music.
I’m also loving their track ‘Last Day of Summer’.

 

For Our Hero – Young Wolves (ft. Alex DeLeon)

 

I came across this song completely by chance, but I’m so glad I did because I really like it. While the lyrics are a bit weak at times, “got a mouth like a motel, body like a bus route”, these Aussie pop-rockers definitely know how to write a good hook. The verses act as a great build up, the track has an awesome bridge, and the crashing chorus is so addictive – lyrically and musically – that it somewhat makes up for what the earlier lyrics lack. Alex DeLeon of The Cab also makes a guest appearance during the middle-eight, and his smooth, fluid, note-perfect vocals are a great fit. So, despite some of the lyrics letting it down slightly, that can almost be forgiven as it is a pretty great song that you’ll no doubt want to hear again, I know I did.

 

I’ve also been listening to Elissa franceschi’s newest EP ‘Devoid of Rue’ a lot recently, you can check it out on Soundcloud, (link below) and it’s also available from ITunes. Full review coming soon.

(https://soundcloud.com/#elissafranceschi/sets/elissa-franceschi-devoid-of-1)