Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Review: Lewis Watson, Amber Run & Andreas Moe (25/09/14)

I headed through the Underground during the buzz of rush hour towards Shepherd's Bush. Which is now in my top three venues, it was pretty easy to get to and didn't take too long. We didn't have to queue too far from the venue, and the line went down very quickly, which is always a plus!

The selection of merch was strong, with plenty of Lewis Watson t-shirts, a beanie, EPs, an Amber Run t-shirt and poster and Andreas Moe EPs. All reasonably priced as well, so I treated myself to a new Lewis t-shirt.

I found a decent spot in the standing area, with a clear view and it wasn't too crowded either (until later on when I had a couple of tall people stand in front of me - I'm quite short... the view ended up being a little less clear than before...)


Andreas Moe started the evening off with a chilled solo set. The last time I saw him was supporting Gabrielle Aplin at Koko in 2013, with a band, so it was great to see him stripped back with a guitar and a stomp box.
His set was comprised of old and new tracks, he started with slower songs with a chilled vibe, focusing on guitar and brilliant vocals. There was one song, which unfortunately I don't know the name of, that had a stunning guitar intro and great beat to it, which was a highlight of his set. He then played 'Ocean', the title track from his latest EP, more upbeat than the others previous to it, the audience got involved with this one and Andreas toyed with varying volumes throughout the track.
He then played a new track 'Step Down For Me', which started with stunning guitar and got the crowd clapping again. Andreas finished with my favourite song of his, 'This Year', the title track from his second EP. He allowed the track to grow throughout and the audience enjoyed this one, joining in with the lyrics and clapping along. A great and memorable track to finish on.



Amber Run were the other support for the evening. I had only heard one of their songs prior to the gig, 'I Found', which is the track they started their set with. It was incredibly atmospheric and the beat and synth finished the track off perfectly. 'Pilot' was next in their set list, I really enjoyed the drum beat forcing everyone to move and clap along. This track reminded me a little of Keane, vocally and instrumentally with the guitars. They then performed 'Hurricane' and a new track, both had strong guitar riffs and beats they played with tempo and volume in each, which added to the overall sound. They finished their set off with a couple of songs including 'Noah' and 'Spark', all of which were made of strong beats, guitar riffs, brilliant lyrics, vocals and builds and diminishing volumes. 


During the wait (that was bordering too long) for Lewis, I calmed down after two girls claiming they loved the support acts but sang songs by completely different artists and messed around throughout their sets moved further forward. 


Lewis' band (Adam, Austen and Rokhsan - who are all brilliant musicians too) began the eerie intro to 'Stones Around The Sun', one of my favourite songs by the 21 year old singer-songwriter. It's a track that grows and was a great way to start the set off. He then played 'Holding On' and 'Sink or Swim', both were exceptional. 'LA Song' was next, a demo from his debut album, the intro vocals and guitar build into an atmospheric track with stunning harmonies and a rockier finish. Lewis sang two older tracks, 'What About Today?' and 'Windows', the crowd sang along and seemed to enjoy. Rokhsan joined Lewis for a cover of 'The Peaks' and a stripped back performance of 'Halo', which is a lump in the throat and wipe the tears kind of track, beautiful and stunning. 
Lewis went on to play 'Stay', 'Nothing At All' and 'Ghost', all we brilliant. After that came a strong performance of 'Outgrow', with his brother and sister joining in from the balcony, which added so much more meaning. He finished with 'Castle Street', 'Into The Wild' and a new one - which I think is called 'End of the World. All three got the crowd clapping and singing back to him. 
Then there was the encore - out of this world! He came into the standing area and sang 'Made Up Love Song #43' unplugged. Absolutely fantastic! 


Overall, it was a brilliant night, full of amazing music from extraordinary musicians. Definitely suggest going to see all of them live - you won't be disappointed! 


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Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Conflicts: Dropping unsigned artists from in-store playlists... (09/09/14)

Recently, the Co-Op dropped unsigned artists from their in-store playlist after staff complaints, but were they right to do that?

Personally, I enjoy going into a shop and not having to listen to the usual chart tracks, which have already been played on the radio on the way to the shop... I'm not too sure whether I'd prefer to listen to songs that are already murdered by radio over and over again whilst I worked or less heard of songs, that I only heard at work.

I can't fathom why employees complained about unsigned artists being played in the shop, surely it's the same as signed artists being played on repeat? I'm not sure I'd complain, and surely there was a reason Co-Op, used their music in the first place?

I'd like to hear your opinions... Were Co-Op right to drop unsigned artists from their in-store playlists? Why would the employees complain? Are unsigned artists any different from signed artists?

Check It Out!

Chart: Superheroes - The Script

'Superheroes' is a track by Irish pop rock band, The Script and has been released from their fourth studio album 'No Sound Without Silence'. The song was written for 'the unsung heroes in the world' and has a similar tone lyrically to their previous song 'Hall of Fame' and Katy Perry's 'Firework' and musically to Coldplay's 'Paradise'. It's doing well in the charts, peaking at #1 in the iTunes UK Singles Chart and #1 in the Irish Singles Chart. 



Live Performance: Medley - Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj

Performing at the VMAs, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj and Jessie J, this medley fuses all their tracks together rather well. 'Break Free' is first, a track by Ariana Grande, the second single from her second studio album 'My Everything'. Next is 'Anaconda', the controversial track by Nicki Minaj, from her fourth studio album 'The Pinkprint' and finishing with 'Bang Bang' featuring Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj, being released as the lead single from Jessie's upcoming album 'Sweet Talker', all tracks have peaked in the Top 5 of the US Billboard Hot 100. 


Cover: Stay With Me - FKA twigs

'Stay With Me' is originally by Sam Smith from his debut album 'In The Lonely Hour' and peaked at #1 in the UK Singles Chart. However, here it is covered in an incredible and unique way by English singer/songwriter FKA twigs... Enjoy! 


Youtube: Chasing The Sun - Kirsty Lowless

Kirsty is an unsigned artist with a stunning voice. Here she is covering Hilary Duff's 'Chasing The Sun', she uploads covers regularly and you'll find some originals in the mix too. Definitely one to spend an evening chilling to and discovering highlights in her music. 


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Saturday, 6 September 2014

Review: Ben Montague, Charlie Grant & Sarah-Jayne (04/09/14)

I aim to go to a 'random gig' every year, to go see a headline act I've not really listened to before. This year I've heard Ben's name mentioned a lot and decided he'd be the artist to go and see! 



However, first to the stage to support Ben was 18-year old Sarah-Jayne Riedel, her set included stunning and unique covers of 'Angels of Harlem', originally by U2 and Coldplay's 'Yellow'. Both were incredible, I preferred the cover of 'Yellow', mainly because it was a song I knew well and she completely took the original and spun it around, with guitar and strong harsher vocals than the usual melodic, sleepy ballad. Sarah-Jayne's originals are also incredible, all showcasing her strong vocals and range, they were all catchy and got the audience tapping their feet and interested. 'Something New' and 'One In A Million' stood out as brilliant tracks lyrically and musically, 'One In A Million' starts off quite Ben Howardesque with the guitar and grows into a great song, Sarah-Jayne is definitely talented and reminds me of early Shannon Saunders... 



Up next was Charlie Grant, he seemed incredibly nervous, and I later found out he was as he doesn't usually have his own solo set, BUT I thought he did a brilliant set, and had no need to be nervous. Songs that stood out from him were 'Can't Be Friends', which was reminiscent of Newton Faulkner musically but had it's own twist lyrically. 'Pulling Out Fires' was also a great track, with a chilled vibe and really nice guitar, and another highlight for me was 'In Safe Hands', which is pretty much a ballad, it's a honest and lovely track. I really enjoyed his set, and I'm really looking forward to hearing more from him! 



Ben came on stage alongside Charlie as backing and his performances stand out from others I've seen this year. His set started off with 'Another Hard Fall', a song with an upbeat tempo and guitar and smooth vocals. Ben's set included 'Rainy Day', 'Jennifer', 'Haunted', 'My Father Said', 'Wait Of Love', 'Love Like Stars' amongst other originals. All of which, showcased his clear vocals, penmanship and musicality, his vocals were reminiscent of Bryan Adams (and someone else I still can't put my finger on), whilst his guitar playing echoes Ben Howard and Daughter at times. There were upbeat, catchy tracks and there was slower ballad with incredible and well held notes. Ben has a brilliant humour and stage presence which was shown throughout the evening and it created more of a chilled atmosphere for the gig, unlike a lot of gigs, which people stick to the set list and barely interact with the audience. This led Ben to do a couple of covers between his originals, 'Pokerface', 'Use Somebody' and 'Angels', which were all great fun, 'Pokerface' stood out as an unique cover but the rest were just as brilliant. 
One thing (amongst many other things) I enjoyed about Ben's set was that the audience got to see him really showcase himself, musically and personally. Musically because he didn't just play guitar, he played piano as well, and he told us a bit about some of the songs, which is always a nice touch. Personally, because throughout the evening his personality shone across, with jokes and interactions allowing the audience to choose if he did a cover or an original and he stayed around at the end to meet people. 


Overall, a really enjoyable evening, and all the artists are incredibly talented and worth keeping your eyes and ears peeled for! 

Ben's Links:


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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Spotlight: In-Flight Safety (02/09/14)


In-Flight Safety are a melodic indie rock band from Nova Scotia, Canada. Familiar with SXSW, NXNE, The Great Escape and BBC Radio Sessions, their music is being enjoyed in growing areas of the world. Their music has also been used in film and TV; notably 'Vampire Diaries' and 'The Office US'. They have exciting releases coming up: 'Animals' is their forthcoming single from their upcoming album 'Conversationalist', which will be released later this month, alongside a tour around Canada, Germany and England. 


'Conversationalist' Review:

This album is brilliant from track one to the end, I wouldn't say there is one song that I want to skip. 'Conversationalist' starts with a short intro, which is instrumental and creates a great atmosphere. Throughout the rest of the LP, there is a good collection of guitar riffs, drum beats and vocals, all accompanying each other very well. There are also more chilled tracks, 'Caution Horses' and 'Crowd' mixed with songs that grow and build into catchy upbeat tunes 'Destroy' and 'Fight Night'. Highlights of the album for me are the lead single 'Animals' and 'Stockholm'. The band's sound is unique but also seems reminiscent of Young The Giant - definitely not a bad thing! 



Tour Dates:

SEP 5, 2014     FISHBONES,CHARLOTTETOWN,CANADA
SEP 6, 2014     CAPITAL,FREDERICTON,CANADA
SEP 9, 2014     RIVOLI,TORONTO,CANADA
SEP 10, 2014   CAFE DEKCUF,OTTAWA,CANADA
SEP 11, 2014   ESCO,MONTREAL,CANADA
SEP 12, 2014   TIDE&BOAR,MONCTON,CANADA
SEP 13, 2014   ALBUM LAUNCH PARTY! DETAILS SOON. HALIFAX,CANADA
SEP 18, 2014   REEPERBAHN FESTIVAL,HAMBURG,GERMANY
SEP 19, 2014   REEPERBAHN FESTIVAL,HAMBURG,GERMANY
SEP 20, 2014   REEPERBAHN FESTIVAL,HAMBURG,GERMANY
SEP 24, 2014   BEDROOM BAR,LONDON,UK
SEP 25, 2014   THE ACE HOTEL,LONDON,UK
SEP 26, 2014   THE NEST,LONDON,UK
SEP 27, 2014   BUNGALOWS AND BEARS,SHEFFIELD,UK
SEP 29, 2014   OPORTO,LEEDS,UK

In-Flight Safety's Links:

'Conversationalist' (iTunes): https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/conversationalist/id907536764
Website: http://www.inflightsafety.ca
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/inflightsafety
Twitter: https://twitter.com/InFlight_Safety
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/inflightsafetymusic
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/inflightsafety

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Chart: Shake It Off - Taylor Swift


This is the latest single from Taylor Swift, the American artist, being released as the first single from her forthcoming fifth studio album '1989'. It's a catchy uptempo track and moving slightly away from Swift's usual genre of country pop, the music video has caused a lot of controversy, but it's leading the way in the charts, peaking at #4 in the UK Singles Chart and #1 in the US Billboard Hot 100. 



Live Performance: Chandelier - Sia

Chandelier has been a massive hit for Sia, doing really well in charts all over the world. This track is the lead single from her sixth album '100 Forms of Fear' (which may I add is one of the best albums I've heard this year). This is the live performance that I found most powerful, vocally and performance wise - however, the performances on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Late Night With Seth Myers, were both brilliant adaptations, but here is Sia performing 'Chandelier' live on The Ellen DeGeneres Show recreating the music video. 



Cover: Problem - Pentatonix

Pentatonix are one of the most popular Youtube acapella groups and they have surpassed their previous videos with this incredible cover of Ariana Grande and Iggy Azaela's 'Problem', which is another track that did very well in the charts, this video shows how you really don't need instruments or loads of technology to create an well-layered track, enjoy! 



Classic: Hotel California - The Eagles

'Hotel Califronia' was released as a single in February 1977, the title track from The Eagle's album of the same name. Many people of have covered and parodied the well-known song including Marilyn Manson and Frank Ocean, and the album peaked at #2 in the UK Albums Chart #1 in the US Billboard 200. 



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