Music Monday – Volume Forty Eight

1) James Bay – Need The Sun To Break

Beautiful song from James’ début album ‘The Chaos and The Calm’.

2) James Bay – Hold Back The River

It took me longer than most to recognise how great this song is but I’m there now! Love how the song builds and James’ vocal performance is incredible.

3) Simply Red – Fake (Single Mix)

The album version of this is great too but the single mix is more club friendly. Great song.

4) Stereophonics – Maybe Tomorrow

Such a soulful, great song which always reminds me of the summer. Love Kelly Jones’ raspy vocals and there’s something quite haunting about this beautiful song.

5) Circa Waves – Talking Out Loud

Another awesome song from Circa Waves’ incredible début album. Powerful and irresistibly catchy chorus and I love the chords in the verses too.

6) New Radicals – Someday We’ll Know

Best known for their song ‘You Get What You Give’, this was the follow up single before Gregg Alexander terminated his band to focus on producing and writing for other artists. This was later covered by legendary duo Daryl Hall & Jon Oates. Sweet acoustic-based song. Love this.

7) Adam Levine – Lost Stars

Gorgeous song from the ‘Begin Again’ soundtrack sung by Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine and written by Gregg Alexander. Many will only know this track through The Voice UK winner Stevie McCrorie but the original really is worth a listen.

8) Semisonic – Secret Smile

One of the best pop hits from the 90’s. Just an awesome song.

9) Robbie Williams – Me and My Monkey

Paranoia-infused, bizarre and humorous, this is one of Robbie’s best songs of his career, an album track from ‘Escapology’. Upon its release, critical response to this track was mainly of confusion but most interpretations consider this a metaphor for Robbie’s dual personality when sober and high/drunk. It’s clever and Rob’s storytelling is just amazing.

10) Robbie Williams – Handsome Man

A self-parody by Robbie, this is an awesome song ridiculing his own fame and success. Witty lyrics as always and a catchy and explosive chorus too.

Will Young – Love Revolution Single Review

Will-Young-Love-Revolution-2015-1200x1200It’s been four long years since Will Young released his last album, the synthpop and electronica infused ‘Echoes’. It was a departure from Young’s previous work, replacing the downtempo pop ballads with funky bass lines, punchy percussion and dreamy electronica. The album was a huge success both with critical response and its commercial performance. Despite this, it was only lead single ‘Jealousy’ that was a hit, the rest of the singles each stumbling into the top 100 but never into the top 40.

Three years after previous single ‘I Just Want a Lover’, Will Young is now back with his new single ‘Love Revolution’, a catchy pop number reminiscent of the Motown golden era. Its all stomping percussion, flamboyant hand claps, sweeping strings and tinny guitars. Young lifts lyrics directly from huge dance hit ‘Loneliness’ by Tomcraft, declaring that ‘Happiness is to feel loneliness’.

It’s fun, it’s old school and it’s destined to be a Top 10  hit.

Circa Waves – Young Chasers Album Review

CW_YCA_SLEEVE-1024x1024Every now and then, the release of a new album affirms the UK’s continuing affection of the indie scene. Liverpool’s Circa Waves are the latest act to do just this with their début album ‘Young Chasers’. It’s fun, it’s uplifting and a great album, one which will no doubt be the sound blaring from many teenagers’ tinny, portable speakers at the park this summer. A throwback to the indie scene a decade ago, it’s influenced by Arctic Monkeys, Razorlight and the Libertines; an album of youth, enthralling love and boozy Friday nights. Whilst most of the album documents the vertiginous, infinite moments of adolescence, occasionally, frontman Kieran Shudall’s contemplations capture the transition from adolescence to adulthood, professing trepidations such as “I’m a little too young with not enough time”. Refreshingly, producer Dan Grech-Marguerat avoids frolicking around with computer generated sounds and instead focusses on the recording of the band itself, their two guitars, bass and drums.

Part of the album’s success lies in its length. ‘Young Chasers’ avoids being presumptuous and clocks in at forty minutes in length with many of the tracks being just two minutes long. This keeps the album succinct in nature and avoids becoming monotonous.

What ‘Young Chasers’ lacks in innovation, it makes up for in charm and charisma. It’s a fun, festival fuelled album and a very enjoyable listen.

 

 

Music Monday – Volume Forty-Seven

1) Circa Waves – T Shirt Weather

Catchy, summery indie fun. Love this band at the moment and I love this song. Great to listen to in the Spring sunshine.

2) Circa Waves – My Love

Staying loyal to their fun sound, this song is a little more ballad-y and I love the chord progression in this. Probably my favourite from the album. Great tune.

[Only decent version on YouTube at the moment]

3) Circa Waves – Deserve This

Another slightly slower track from the band’s début album. Pretty little song with a gorgeous soft chorus.

[Not available on YouTube]

4) The 1975 – So Far (It’s Alright)

Still an absolute tune. Slightly repetitive, maybe but I love the feel of this track. So catchy.

5) Will Young – Love Revolution

SO glad Will’s back. Wasn’t sure about this at first but it grows on me more with every listen and it’s a great song. Looking forward to the album.

6) The Weeknd – Earned it

I’d heard this a fair but but hadn’t put 2 and 2 together to realise it was this song by The Weeknd that everyone keeps talking about. Dramatic, powerful and a great song. The 50 Shades soundtrack is definitely worth a listen. Awesome selection of music.

7) Brandon Flowers – Can’t deny my love

There’s something rather ambient and 80’s about this with its sweeping synths, tribal drums and squeaky guitars. Good song.

8) Lawson – I Got You

Whilst one of my favourite bands, their new single ‘Roads’ doesn’t do anything for me. After discovering this new song as a live performance on YouTube, my hope and faith in this band was restored, however. Catchy, uplifting and loyal to their sound. Awesome track.

9) One Direction/Zayn Malik – I Won’t Mind

There is still much confusion on if this is Zayn’s solo material or a demo for one of Zayn’s songs that would have been on One Direction’s ‘Four’ album. Whoever this song belongs to, the demo that has appeared online is stunning. Raw and simplistic as a demo should be, I just really, really love this.

10) The Japanese House – Still

Smooth.

Music Monday – Volume Forty Six

1) Simply Red – Say You Love Me

One of their best yet most underrated songs. Mick Hucknall is a musical genius. Gorgeous ballad from the fantastic ‘Blue’ album with soulful vocals, soft guitar strums and predominant piano chords throughout.

2) Simply Red – To be free

A great feel-good song also from the 1998 ‘Blue’ album. Great song with thoughtful lyrics.

3) Simply Red – You’ve Got It

Love, love, LOVE this song. Another underrated single by the band, this time from 1989’s ‘A New Flame Album’. Co-written with legendary soul writer Lamont Dozier, this soulful ballad has the same feel as his songs written in the ’60’s but with Simply Red’s 80’s sound blended in. Mick Hucknall and Lamont Dozier was a winning combination. Mick Hucknall’s stunning vocals really shine on this track. Love the interesting chords too.

4) Simply Red – Your Eyes

Yep, I’ve been having a Simply Red week… 1999’s ‘Love and the Russian Winter’ was more or less a commercial failure, a shame when it’s such an adventurous and fantastic album. It’s my favourite Simply Red album infused with a more computerised/electro sound. ‘Your Eyes’ was the lead single. A smooth R&B/Pop love song, it’s an awesome song. Mick Hucknall sure knows how to write a great love song. Should have faired much better in the charts.

5) Taylor Swift – Style

One of her best singles to date, I’ve loved this since the release of her ‘1989’ album and am so glad she’s released this as a single. Catchy with great production and fantastic Swifty lyrics, it’s awesome.

6) One Direction – You & I

Months later and the departure of Zayn Malik made me return to my obsession with this song. I love the lyrics, I love the vocal performance of each of the boys but most of all, I love how the song builds. Particularly in the single version, percussion doesn’t enter the song until after the first chorus and the song ends in a mesmerising climax after the second chorus in which wailing guitars, heavy drums and Zayn Malik’s gorgeous falsetto kick in. Beautiful song.

7) Michael Jackson – Ghosts

A catchy new jack swing number from 1999’s ‘Blood on the Dancefloor’ album, the paranoia in the lyrics and that crazy drum beat makes it an awesome song.

8) John Mayer – In Repair

A rather long but great song from John’s 2005 ‘Continuum’ album, I love this. Lyrically, it’s about being in a state of repair – getting back to being yourself again, something I am more than able to relate to.

9) Annie Lennox – No More I Love You’s

A song originally by 80’s New Wave group ‘The Lover Speaks’, covered by Annie Lennox on her second solo album ‘Medusa’. The original is a dark indie song but Lennox truly made the song what it is. Her pop version released in 1995 became a massive hit and added an extra depth missing from the original. Her vocal performance is incredible (as always), Stephen Lipson’s production is on point and it’s just a beautiful song, one of my all time favourites.

10) Favela – Easy Yoke

A song I found on a Spotify playlist last year that I rediscovered recently. Love the chords, love the chilled-out vibe of this and the meaningful lyrics. It’s a shame this song isn’t known by more because it’s beautiful and catchy at the same time.

Music Monday – Volume Forty Five

1) Circa Waves – Fossils

Cannot get enough of this right now. So, so catchy with a massive chorus. Love the chord progression too.

2) The Script – Man on a Wire

One of their best singles to date, ‘Man on a Wire’ is a powerful, emotive song. So glad The Script have released it as a single.

3) Joni Mitchell – A Case of You (Both Sides Now version)

A great song in its own right, Joni gives her classic hit the jazz treatment and it’s absolutely magical. Taken from her jazz concept album on which she covers classic jazz songs and arranges two of her best songs in a jazz style, this is just gorgeous.  Joni’s raspy vocals, stunning strings and the laid-back nature of it make it effortlessly beautiful.

4) Stateless – Bloodstream

A haunting, fantastic track.

5) Elbow – asleep in the back

An absolutely stunning waltz-like ballad from the band’s 2001 album of the same name. It’s soft, gentle and beautiful with minimal fuss. The piano arpeggios, gospel organ and gentle guitar strums along with Guy Garvey’s warm voice.

6) Elbow – Great Expectations

Another beautiful ballad by Elbow.

7) John Mayer – Belief

One of the greatest and most powerful songs ever written, in my opinion. John Mayer can do no wrong, musically. The fierce guitar, powerful drum pattern  and thoughtful lyrics make this an incredible song. The last minute always sends shivers up my spine.

8) John Mayer – Vultures

Another powerful song by Mr Mayer. Love that outro with the repetition of ‘Don’t give up, give up’.

9) Jeff Buckley – Everybody Here Wants You

Upon discovering this song, I felt a strange sense of de ja vu. It seemed so familiar but I can’t put my finger on where I heard it before. So soft and in true Jeff Buckley style, this is a wonderful, soulful song.

10) Mark Owen – Clementine

One of the best solo records by a Take That member ever, this is SO underrated. It’s cool, almost indie-pop with an irresistibly catchy chorus. SO good.

The Brit Awards 2015

The Brits 2015 were an interesting affair. The Brits has always had a particular aura about it which makes nobody take it particularly seriously in contrast to the US equivalent The Grammy Awards. The Grammy’s involves artists and celebrities dressing up for the occasion and sitting attentively waiting with bated breath to see who has won each prestigious award. Talented musicians you would never have paired perform together and it’s a celebratory, sophisticated evening. The Brits on the other hand tends to be rather more… British. It’s a drunken catastrophe which never appears to be able to run smoothly without controversy. They couldn’t be anymore different, aside from the fact they are both music award shows. That said, I love both because they are on opposite ends of the spectrum and are both always an entertaining watch.

Ant and Dec replaced previous host James Corden as presenters of this year’s ceremony. Whereas James had a natural wit and enthusiasm for music, for Ant and Dec, it didn’t come as naturally. It was a little bit forced and ended up as bit of a Circus act for me. Whilst they had grown on me by the end, I did miss Mr Corden very much.

As far as performers go, I can’t fault it. It was an incredible line-up with some of the best artists around. That said, the quality of some of the performances leaved a lot to be desired.

Taylor Swift gave a rather seductive but a little flat, vocally, performance of massive hit ‘Blank Space’. She appeared to pick and choose which parts of the song she sung, miming badly from time to time and then singing other parts. It was an enjoyable performance but perhaps not the explosive opening performance to the Brits everyone was hoping for. She would have been better performing a little later in the show.

Four-time Grammy Award Winner Sam Smith gave a classy performance of latest single ‘Lay Me Down’, accompanied by a gorgeous string piece section. It was a lovely performance and his vocals shone as always. Royal Blood took to the stage to perform an explosive rendition of ‘Figure It Out’ – not really my thing but the other performers made up for it.

edThen, the performance of the night for me was Mr Ed Sheeran. Ed did his one-man-band routine using his guitar and loop pedal. He performed latest single, the haunting ‘Bloodtstream’ in front of a visual background of a type of time lapse. It was clever, it was raw, it was gripping. By the time Sheeran growled ‘Tell me when it kicks in’ in the final couple of minutes of the performance, everyone was won over.

Then we were subjected to Mr Arrogant himself, Kanye West who leapt around the stage with more bounce than a child on a space hopper. West was introduced by wife Kim Kardashian which simply added insult to injury and took to the stage to perform new single ‘All Day’. Unfortunately, it appears that he didn’t get the memo about use of language on the Brits as every other word screamed into the microphone was ‘n*****’. The poor sound engineer had his work cut out as he was forced to hit ‘mute’ every two seconds and viewers back home were met with 30 seconds of the song once all the expletives and offensive language had been muted. The sound engineer did a fine job although a couple of bits of offensive language did manage to fall through the net. The facial expressions of the celebrities in attendance perhaps said it all. Taylor Swift looked rather stunned by the performance, as were many of us back home. It was just so full on, so unnecessarily aggressive and it was just rather odd. One was rather grateful when Mr West and his entourage left the stage and the rather less threatening Ant & Dec returned.

take thatTake That were rather bizarrely booked to perform despite not being nominated for an award which failed to make any sense to most people. Why book a massive band and therefore recognise their continued relevance yet not nominate them for an award? Still, the band performed an explosive version of new single ‘Let In The Sun’. It’s a powerful track with house/dance beats, fierce guitar strums and empowering lyrics. The three-piece were dressed fantastically for the occasion and each performed on their instruments – Barlow on keyboard, Donald on drums and Owen on guitar. Whilst Barlow was always known for performing on his keyboard, the other two members performing instruments has been more of a Take That Mark II thing and it’s great to see. The lights, confetti, backing dancers, silky smooth harmonies all combined to make an electrifying performance. Mr Barlow did get his lyrics slightly muddled ‘Want you to see the next step a day at a time’ but it’s easily done and it’s unlikely anybody noticed. Particularly when keyboard warriors were quick to vilify the performance. It’s unfortunate they appear to not have such a place in the public’s hearts anymore since the tax scandal and Jason Orange’s departure. I personally really enjoyed the performance.

George Ezra took to the stage to perform massive hit ‘Budapest’ and did a wonderful job. He has such a rich tone to his voice that makes him sound wise beyond his years. It’s still a great song even now after it’s over exposure on radio. Paloma Faith performed the fantastic ‘Only Love Can Hurt Like This’ before Madonna appeared…
I’m sure there’s not one person who is unaware of why Madonna was (and continues to be four days later) the talk of the Brit Awards. All evening, we were reminded by Ant & Dec that we had Madge’s performance to look forward to and that it had been twenty years since her last visit to the awards ceremony. Fair enough, I guess. Twenty years is a long time and there’s no denying Madonna is a global superstar. The unfortunate thing is she became the talk of the ceremony for all the wrong reasons. Because less than a minute into the song, Madonna took a tumble down a set of stairs onto _81279916_ef45fb6a-58e0-4296-bf5d-ef72ca358f3bher back. Apparently her cape was tied too tight and she could not undo it in time for one of her dancers to whip it off her, causing her to fall backwards. Social media responded in an amusing manner. For me personally, I was more concerned than amused. I must admit, I do often find humour in other people tripping or falling over but with Madonna, it just looked so painful. It wasn’t just a trip or stumble. She fell flat onto her back with quite an impact. Viewers at home were met with a thud and an audible ‘Oohh’ from those in attendance at the ceremony. After several seconds, Madonna carried on and managed to finish her performance, reinforcing the pro she is. I didn’t particularly enjoy the song or the performance and I do think the quality of Madonna’s music has deteriorated over the years but I still think she was wonderful to be able to finish the performance. She looked visually shaken and was a little flat vocally from that point onwards but who can blame her?! I did enjoy the response on social media, however. Lots of rather hilarious vines and memes surfaced soon after the incident. Perhaps it was a sign to Madonna that she should quit pretending she is in her twenties and to act and dress her age. 

Sam_Smith_second_awardAs for the awards themselves, I mostly agreed. British Male contained lots of very talented musicians and was therefore tricky to call. Very glad Ed Sheeran won, however. He has had a massive year with an amazing act. He deserves every single bit of his success. Like-wise, I’m glad he won Album of the Year. Paloma Faith was right to win British Female as her talent continues to amaze me. Her excessively long speech didn’t, however but I can forgive her because as she said, who knows if she’ll ever be in that position again? I thought British Group should have gone to Coldplay or One Direction but the fellows from Royal Blood seemed like humble, appreciative guys so I can live with that. International group was an odd category but was right to go to the Foo Fighters. It was odd Sam Smith won British Breakthrough considering it feels he has been around forever but still rightly deserved. It’s a shame George Ezra didn’t win anything considering his talent but he was very humble about it and still has a long career in front of him to win many awards. He seemed grateful even just for the nomination.

I disagreed with British Single. ‘Uptown Funk’ is a catchy number and has been a massive song. But there’s been plenty of other better singles in the past year more worthy. Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ was a sweet affair with beautiful lyrics whilst Ella Henderson’s ‘Ghost’ was a massive hit. Sam Smith’s ‘Stay with Me’ would also have been more worthy. Pharrell Williams won International Male and rightly so. What a couple of years he’s had! Taylor Swift won International Female which again, I agreed with. ‘1989’ is an awesome album. Brit’s Global Success was won by Sam Smith which was well deserved whilst Best Video was won by One Direction for ‘You and I’. Ed’s video for ‘Thinking out Loud’ would also have been worthy of a win but I do agree with One Direction’s win. I know many criticised the video for not being anything out of the ordinary but sometimes simplicity is best. I loved the special effects by direction Ben Winston and it’s a lovely video well matched to a beautiful song.

It was an enjoyable watch this year, made all the more entertaining with it’s controversial moments. Let’s face it, The Brits wouldn’t be The Brits without controversy! I am looking forward to next year’s ceremony.