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’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. 😀

Tracks I was Loving (March – April)

Justin Timberlake – Mirrors

 

Justin Timberlake is back. And this song is a tremendous example of his undeniable talent; proof that he is more than just another shiny pop star. After a four year break from the music scene JT is back with his new album The 2020 Experience, and Mirrors, the second single from the album is a reminder of what he does best. It’s a smooth and poignant love song brimming with emotion. It’s a track that has depth and soul and shows the reason for the longevity of Timberlake’s career. The vocals are a flawless, gliding effortlessly through the lower and higher notes, sounding fluid and utterly mesmerizing. It feels as though this is what we’ve been missing for so long, without perhaps even realising it, but once you listen to this song it definitely feels as though a thirst has been well and truly quenched.

 

The Lumineers – Ho Hey

 

Jumping on the recently popular folk-rock band wagon that has proved very successful for acts like Mumford and Sons and Of Monsters and Men, Colorado based five-some The Lumineers  are also proving to be a big hit with the mainstream. The first single from their debut album shows why. Their first top 5 hit in the US and top 10 in the UK, is a sweet and melodic track. Simple in style, there isn’t much going on; but that needn’t be a bad thing. The lack of complexity doesn’t over complicate the song and let’s it breathe, the result being that it can really shine as opposed to being a thumping assault on the senses. The Ho hey chant is sharp but catchy, with the drums accenting it, and will have audiences shouting along in unison.  The chorus is mellow and soothing and will no doubt lend to it being a massive summer hit on the festival circuit.       

 

Bastille – Pompeii

 

The fourth single from their number one debut album Bad Blood, London-based indie-synth pop quartet Bastille’s track Pompeii is funky, cheery and somewhat haunting. The opening ‘Eh eh oh’ tribal-esque chant is catchy and gives the song an arena-worthy anthemic feel. The lyrics and vocal style are simple, no-frills affairs that give the track more of a punch; it doesn’t need to decorate itself in octave jumping licks and warbling, it’s powerful as it is. The chorus is infectiously bright, and despite the contrasting lyrics like, “how am I going to be an optimist about this?” It’s a hopeful and uplifting track that will never fail to put a smile on your face. And after debuting on Radio One and gaining many airplays since, it doesn’t seem that the band have much to be pessimistic about either.

 

Bruno Mars – When I was your man

 

This sombre track shows that you don’t need a fancy production or countless computerised layers and effects to make great music. Sometimes there is power in simplicity. The second single from Mars’ newest album Unorthodox Jukebox, this melancholic ballad is stripped back and smooth. The accompaniment, comprising of just a piano, feels like a step back in time and lets Mars’ effortless and, as always, impeccable vocals, and the tender lyrics take centre stage. It doesn’t need anything else. There is an enchanting quality in its simplicity; a delicateness that makes you sit-up and pay attention from the moment you hit play. The lack of smoke and mirrors adds to the song’s beauty and showcases the absolute purity of Bruno Mars’ talent. The gentle piano and the pure emotion of the vocals flow together in harmony, and whilst ratcheting up the power at points, the latter never sounds forced. Romanticising the regret after a separation the track is an improbable love song, full of heart and soul and is, as we have come to expect from Bruno Mars: absolutely flawless.

 

The 1975 – Chocolate

 

The 1975 are an emerging alt rock band hailing from Manchester UK.  The band have released three EPs and have gained national airplay after landing the support of both Radio One’s Huw Stevens and Zane Lowe. Their 2013 offering Music For Cars see’s the completion of their EP trilogy, and lead single Chocolate is animated and bouncy with jaunty guitars and a great melody that will no doubt induce head bobbing and a mass clap-along from its listeners in no time. The playful energy and sparkle of this track adds to its catchiness and lends to it being a fun, upbeat ride of indie-pop music despite the lyrics painting a somewhat contrasting picture of outlaws who have “guns hidden under our petticoats.” Nonetheless, it’s a great song that will surely be a massive summer hit, and if this is a sign of things to come 2013 could be a very big year for The 1975.

 

Gabrielle Aplin – Panic Chord

 

Twenty year old Gabrielle Aplin became a chart smash after she sound-tracked last year’s John Lewis Christmas ad with her cover of The Power of Love. Aplin had built up an online following after posting cover videos of popular chart tracks on YouTube. Since her mainstream exposure, she has toured with the likes of Ed Sheeran and played her own sold out shows at London venues like Koko. Panic Chord is the third single from her debut album English Rain, and it’s a little bit more folky than her previous singles but it definitely works, though it does take a few listens to get used to. It’s a bittersweet track about doubts and unrequited love, ‘this meant more to you than it did to me’, which makes it relatable. Aplin’s vocals are melodic and dainty, but she also proves that she can amp up the power; never losing control of her voice. The vocals are just shy of haunting against the sunny sounding chords of the verses, and the chorus is really catchy despite the apologetic vibe to the lyrics. An all round bittersweet but great song, we’d definitely recommend it.

 

Taylor Swift – 22

 

After selling over a million copies in its first week of release, Taylor Swift’s fourth album Red became the fastest selling album in over a decade. The fourth single from the album, 22 see’s Swift well and truly cross over into pop territory. It’s a fun-filled pop smash that is about nothing else but having a good time. This playful track shows hints of conflicting emotions ‘we’re happy, free, confused, and lonely in the best way’ but is ultimately carefree; an anthem for the joys of youth. It’s refreshing amongst all the songs about love and heartbreak, and it’s brilliant. Judging by the success of her previous singles Swift shows no signs of stopping anytime soon, and she can now add another great song to her catalogue of hits.