Monday, 27 April 2015

Feature: Michael Malarkey (27/04/15)


Born in Beirut, Lebanon, raised in Yellow Springs, Ohio and trained at LAMDA in London, Michael Malarkey is an Atlanta-based musician and actor; his versatile talent has seen him commend both stage and screen. Well known for playing Enzo in Vampire Diaries, his acting career is aggressively in the assent, he is now set on winning over audiences in both music and acting arenas. Having recently released his debut EP 'Feed The Flames' and played to his first sold-out London show at Wilton' Music Hall. He's now back for his second show in the UK, this time at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen. 

General Questions:

1. How old were you when you started getting involved in music and how? 
It was just after I graduated from high school. I was watching a school showcase with my friend Jesse Thomas and there were these kids a few years younger than us who had started a punk band and were playing some of their songs. It inspired us to start our own band, although neither of us could play any musical instruments at the time. Jesse decided he wanted to play the drums and I decided I wanted to sing. We recruited a couple other friends who could actually play their instruments and we just made it up as we went along. At our first practise, we wrote our first song - I believe it was called 'The Birds' - and that was the first time Jesse had ever played the drums and I that I had ever sang outside the shower. 
I joined another local screamo band called Shadyside a few years later and we ended up playing together for about five years. We toured a lot around the midwest and cut our album 'Later In The Past' in Nashville, before I decided to move to London to pursue my acting career. 

2. What is the most inspiring gig/concert/festival you've been to?
Leonard Cohen at the O2 in London a couple years ago. Never has a massive arena felt so intimate. He's been a huge inspiration to my songwriting over the years, but especially recently. I think I had tears in my eyes for most of the show. 

3. Who have you been listening to lately? 
I go through phases. I'm actually listening to a lot of heavy music at the moment. There's this band Code Orange that put out a beast of a record last year called 'I Am King'. So brutal. I'm also one of Rdio's influencers and make a playlist for them comprised of a lost of my favourite artists. Check them out! 

3 Questions for Michael:

1. For people that have not heard your music, how would you describe your sound in five words?
Raw, questing, autumnal, melancholic, folk. 

2. What are your top three career highlights so far and why?
My big break was playing the lead roles in a double bill of Spring Storm by Tennessee Williams and Beyond The Horizon by Eugene O'Neill, which ended up transferring to the National Theatre in London. Talk about being thrown into the fire! It was a huge learning experience for me. 
Secondly, being cast as Enzo in The Vampire Diaries. I was a little intimidated by the medium of film and TV at the time - as I had done predominantly theatre beforehand - but it's now become very second nature to me since the show has such a quick turnaround. 
As far as the music goes, gig in London last January at Wilton's Music Hall to a packed house, was a very special experience, partly because it was the first time I got to play my own songs with a full band live, but also because the venue has such a rich history and magical aura about it. 

3. What was your songwriting process for 'Through The Night And Back Again' and did it follow your usual process? 
Yes, it was initially the same. Though when we got into the studio we decided we wanted to muck about with the dynamics and add another chorus and so we ended cutting a verse. That was hard. It was actually the first time I've ever gone back to a song and changed it as I'm usually very happy with the final product. I think we felt that it was a little bit too long and same-y it's a three-chord pony, at the end of the day, although The Ramones taught me that you can do a helluva lot with three-chords. I'd actually love to put out a lo-fi Demo's Album one day. If I do, I'll stick the old version on there and you can hear the lost verse. 

Random Q:

If you could invent a chocolate bar, what would you call it and what would it be made of?
The Malarkey Bar of course. I reckon it would be comprised of Hazelnut & Chocolate Stout. Has there ever been an alcoholic chocolate bar? If not, the world is missing a trick...

'Feed The Flames' EP Review:

The five track EP opens with the first single from the release, 'Through The Night and Back Again'. It holds a lovely melody and tone and highlights Michael's country and folk infused vocals as he sings his picturesque lyrics. 'Feed The Flames' is next and starts simpler, just guitar and vocals, this song resembles a lullaby or campfire song and I'm sure it would leave a venue silent, focusing on Michael's talent, this is a stunning song and I think it's my favourite from the EP, with layered vocals, guitars and strings, perfection. The upbeat and intense track 'Everything's Burned', this has a haunting quality to it and would fit as a villain's song in a kids film. This song would be brilliant fun live and I'm sure opens a lot of audience participation. 'Lost and Sound' offers a beautiful guitar intro, with a heavy folk sound throughout and honest lyrics from Michael this is another poetically written song, both musically and lyrically. The EP finishes with 'The Bells Still Ring', another honest and heartfelt song, with stunning guitar intertwined with Michael's words and vocals. 
This EP's track list is in the perfect order to listen all through and hear the spectrum of Michael's music, as well as his influences and is a brilliant debut EP, looking forward to hearing more music from him in the future! 


See Michael Live:
28th April: Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London (tickets here)
1st May: Barboza, Seattle
2nd May: Media Club, Vancouver
22nd May: La China, Paris
11th July: Hotel Utah, San Francisco
12th July: Bootleg HiFi, LA
13th July: Soda Bar, San Diego

Michael's Links:
'Later In The Past' Documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdW8VRzwklk
Website: https://www.musicglue.com/michael-malarkey-official/

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Friday, 24 April 2015

Feature: Lucy Spraggan (24/04/15)


Lucy Spraggan is an acoustic folk-pop singer/songwriter and returns this year with her first single 'Unsinkable' from her third album 'We Are' as well as a full UK and Ireland tour. After being a part of X Factor in 2012, Lucy's single 'Last Night' reached #1 in the UK Singles Chart and her second album 'Join The Club' reached #7 in the UK Albums Chart. She has recently toured the UK as part of the Young Voices Tour, performing five nights at London's O2 Arena, along with five small UK headline dates (which sold out in 9 minutes). 23-year-old Lucy is now getting ready to release her new music, recorded in London and featuring 12 tracks, it's a good 'un!

General Questions:

1. How old were you when you started getting involved in music and how?
I was 10 when I got my first guitar, my Mum bought it from a charity shop and I loved it. My brother was great at the guitar and I suppose I always wanted to be as good as my brother. He's still far better at the guitar than me. Songwriting came next, and it was like writing a diary for me. 

2. What is the most inspiring gig/concert/festival you've been to?
I saw Sting and The Philharmonic Orchestra in New Orleans in 2010. It was the most breathtaking and flawless performance I'd ever seen. I cried all the way through. 

3. Who have you been listening to lately?
At the moment I love Andrew Duhon, Watsky and George The Poet. 

3 Questions for Lucy:

1. What three countries would you most like to tour and why?
America - I love America, I always have. The music that comes from there is good for the soul! 
Australia - I have never been but have met a lot of Australians; safe to say I loved them all.
Germany - I've heard the songwriting scene in Germany is incredible, I'd love to go and see for myself.

2. Who influences you musically and what inspires your lyrics?
I think all music you listen to has some kind of impact on what you write. I hear songs on the radio and if I love the sound I'll find out who they are and listen to their record, it's great to take bits and pieces sonically from things you like.
Lyrically, it could be anything at all. I wrote a song about a super hero whose alter ego was a chav... So I suppose it's whatever pops into my head!

3. What process did you go through creating 'Unsinkable'?
I got the idea for 'Unsinkable' while walking to a writing session. It started spitting and I thought about how easy it is to feel like the water is gathering around you, I thought 'we are unsinkable'. I walked into the session and we went from there, the lyrics are very personal to me.

Random Q:

If you were to open a venue, where would it be and what would the opening event be?
I think it would be up north, probably Manchester, I would have ate from all over the country who wanted to show case their original music, no covers, no pretentiousness!

'We Are' (album) Review:
There isn't one song on Lucy's new album that I dislike; I can listen to it for a fair few hours without needing to press the skip button, that is some feat. 
The album starts with '23', a steady intro that builds into a track full of guitar, drums and strong vocals, slowing down to a stripped back section allowing the listener to focus on the lyrics. Upbeat track 'London Bound' comes next, can imagine this one being great live, with moments set for audiences to sing along and clapping, and seems very folk inspired. The first single from the album 'Unsinkable' slowly layers up to become an emotive and powerful track, both musically and lyrically, that would get everyone singing - or at least humming- along.
'In This Church' is another upbeat song, with elements of rock intertwined with layers of a bass drum beat that will get your foot stomping and guitars underlining Lucy's vocals. My favourite song from the album is probably 'The Postman', it offers a hopeful tune, but tells a sad story. This is one of those songs that highlights Lucy's skill at writing not just great songs, but specifically brilliant story-telling lyrics. I also enjoy the added sounds of pencil scribbles rain and thunder; if you liked 'Tea and Toast' this will be a song for you.
'I Don't Know' and 'Broken Bones' are upbeat, catchy songs, both with cleverly written lyrics and layered melodies and vocals. 'IOU' is also incredibly upbeat, fast and catchy, however, it cuts to stripped back moments and then Caribbean infused sections. As the album comes to a close, the last few songs start becoming slower; 'Coming Down' is incredibly stripped back, with honest lyrics and showing Lucy's range, which is often unfortunately overlooked by her rap-like tone in vocals. The piano and strings in this song offer a vulnerable side to Lucy and her music. 'Until I've Lived My Life' summarises Lucy's music the best I feel, mixing fast-paced intertwined with stripped back moments, whilst these back honest lyrics and strong vocals. 'Uninspired' and 'Paper Cuts' finish the album on a melancholy note. With emotive words, piano and strings, both these songs are stunning musically. 'Paper Cuts' stands out in a similar way to 'The Postman', a story told, showcasing Lucy's talent to group together a string of words and make them into subtly captivating stories.
Yet another brilliant album from Lucy and all songs I can imagine being amazing live, either to get the audience singing, clapping and dancing along, or to make them silent in awe of her ability to write wonderful music.


See Lucy Live:
1st May: Limelight 2, Belfast
2nd May: Roisin Dubh, Galway
3rd May: Whelan's, Dublin
5th May (5pm): hmv Birmingham Bullring
6th May (6pm): hmv Oxford Street 363
7th May: Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh
8th May: Garage, Glasgow
9th May: Riverside, Newcastle
11th May: Waterfront, Norwich
12th May: Beckett Uni, Leeds
14th May: Academy 2, Manchester (SOLD OUT)
15th May: East Village Arts Club, Liverpool
16th May: Library, Birmingham (SOLD OUT)
17th May: Motion, Bristol
19th May: Globe, Cardiff
20th May: Lemongrove, Exeter
21st May: Engine Rooms, Southampton
22nd May: Heaven. London
23rd May: Leadmill, Sheffield (SOLD OUT)

Lucy's Links:

Check It Out!

Chart: See You Again - Wiz Khalifa & Charlie Puth

This song is by American rapper Wiz Khalifa and American singer/songwriter Charlie Puth, contributing songwriting, vocals and piano throughout the song. It's featured in 'Furious 7', as a final tribute to Paul Walker, who died in a car crash in November 2013. The song holds the record for most-streamed track in a single day on Spotify, as well as the record for most streams in a single week in 26 countries; it's a huge international success, reaching #1 in 17 countries around the world. 



Live Performance: Play - Fickle Friends

Fickle Friends are a British five-piece, 80's new wave pop band. Natti, Sam, Harry, Chris and Jack come from Brighton but are now branching out to people's ears all over the country via their UK Tour (tickets), as well as around the world, I'm sure. They've released four singles, 'Play' was their second - and one of my favourites - but they've recently released 'Could Be Wrong', which is just as great!



Cover: Inside Out - Justin Vernon

Justin is best known as the frontman of indie folk band, Bon Iver, however he is also a member of Volcano Choir, The Shouting Matches and Gayngs. Recently, he's been focusing on his producing, namely The Staves' 'If I Was' album. Here he is covering American indie rock band Spoon's 'Inside Out', the original can be found on their eight studio album 'They Want My Soul', which was released last year. 



Soundcloud: Feathers & Wax - Vicktor Taiwò

This is the single from Vicktor Taiwò's debut EP 'Juno', due to be released digitally on 16th June (2015). The EP follows the release of 'Digital Kids' and 'Paradise Island' last year, both of which are on the EP, all five tracks form his forthcoming release are brilliant and has a cinematic feel to it, you can tell Vicktor is a visual person. Beautifully written. 



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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Feature: GUN (21/04/15)


MTV's very first EMA winners, Glaswegian five piece Gun are back with their latest album release, 'Frantic'. Having played alongside The Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Simple Minds, Bryan Adams and Deff Leppard; and with critically acclaimed albums, singles and awards, he band decided to call it a day in 1996. They reformed in 2012, with the commended 'Break The Silence' album and went down a storm at Download Festival. Three years later, Dante, Jools, Paul and Johnny are still going strong and creating and sharing their brilliant music. I caught up with Dante Gizzi for a Q&A recently, here's his answers, to my questions. 

General Questions:

1. How old were you when you started getting involved in music and how?
I began listening to music through my parents. I would listen to their old LPs. They were so into old Neapolitan Folk music, my Mum was also a huge Frank Sinatra fan and my Dad loved old blues stuff, especially Fats Domino. Blueberry Hill and Young At Heart would be blasting throughout the house on the weekends. It was just something that you could feel that you could feel that brought the whole family together even when there were tough times it gave us a sense of hope and lifted our spirits. I love that music can do that. 

2. What is the most inspiring gig/concert/festival you've been to? 
I remember watching a live concert on the old grey whistle test of Prince on the Purple Rain Tour in Syracuse. I quickly thumbed around on the VCR to record it. I just knew it was going to be something special. I watched the show every night religiously for months as I was utterly blown away by the performance. The songs, the charisma, the playing, was just just mesmerising. I kind of knew that this was just something I had to get into. 

3. Who have you been listening to lately? 
There's a lot of stuff I've been listening to but at the moment I'm mostly listening to Alabama Shakes Kygo Phoenix TV on the Radio. 

3 Questions for GUN:

1. How did your name 'GUN' come about?
I remember we were having a discussion with our management at the time and I can remember that we were all in agreement that it had to be something that was simple that could be easily pronounced in any language but at the same time sounded tough. We went through a whole lot of name and I'm not quite sure who came up with it, but once it was said we thought 'yeah that's it'. 

2. Which song do you enjoy performing live the most and why?
That's a hard one. I think playing any of the new material from 'Frantic' seems amazing and I reckon that is just natural as it's fresh, which makes it exciting to perform. My favourite song to play live is my least favourite song to play live. I know that doesn't make much sense but 'Inside Out' is a song we've played many times and in rehearsals it can seem rather dull but it's an entirely different beast when we play it in front of an audience. It just seems to come to life and it's energy definitely gets the fans going. 

3. What song from your album 'Frantic' did you enjoy creating the most and why?
I think the title track 'Frantic' was my favourite to create. I remember Jools coming into the studio with this string idea almost arpeggiator like and when he started putting the chords round it, I could feel this song had something amazing to it. I had a rough idea of the melody so I told him to go away and come back later as I wanted to just immerse myself in this creation. The song was finished late that afternoon and you know when you've got a great feeling about something when the hairs on your arm stand up. 

Random Q:

If you could change anything in the band's history, would you change anything and if so, what would it be?
I think when we won our MTV award in Berlin for best cover version, I wish I could remember it better. I was so drunk. We flew in on the day of the ceremony I can't stand flying so had far too much to drink to try and settle my nerves and when we arrived I got so wasted what with the champagne reception and they kept handing out these spirit miniature bottles throughout the proceedings. I lost our award for a bit. I shouted at John Deacon (Queen) as he was trying to help me when I was locked in the toilets throwing up, oh and being arrested with Ian Astbury for urinating at the Bradenburg Gate. Yeah guess you could say there's a lot of things I would change that night. 

'Frantic' Album Review:

It's really refreshing to hear an album from a 'rock' band with different sub-genres of rock, influencing their sound. Their latest album 'Frantic' has hints of classic rock, country, rock 'n' roll etc. throughout intertwined between each track. Opening song 'Let It Shine' and 'Hold Your Head Up' both remind me of T.Rex but still offer differing components. 'Let It Shine' has a 70's rock feel, with great guitar and vocals perfect to sing along to; whereas, 'Hold Your Head Up' is a steadier track with a solid beat and guitar, great for clapping along to and can imagine it being great live. 
The first single from the album 'Labour of Life' holds a catchy drum beat and guitar riffs with impressive guitar sections scattered throughout the middle. 'Big City' is another solid song from the album with their usual guitar, drum and strong vocal set up. 'Beautiful Smile' and 'Seraphina' are classic rock songs. 'One Wrong Turn' starts slower and allows you to focus on the honesty of the lyrics from the band and still builds into a strong chorus. There seems to be a country influence on the tracks 'Our Time' and 'Never Knew What I Had' and it really works with GUN's sound. Both are steady tracks, again allowing the listener to focus on the lyrics as well as pick up on the intricacy of the guitars and steadily worked out drums. 
A contrast to the last couple of mentioned songs, is their second single and title track from the album 'Frantic', which is bloody brilliant! The name suits the song so well, cleverly structured layers and speed give the impression of franticness backing a calmer approach to the lyrics and vocals. I've had this album on repeat and if you're into rock, of any kind, this album's for you! 


Live Dates (2015):
22nd May - Bearded Theory Festival
29th May - The Islington, London
30th May - Camden Rocks Festival
29th Sep - Temple, Birmingham
30th Sep - Waterfront Studio, Norwich
3rd Oct - Corporation, Sheffield
4th Oct - Academy 2, Leicester
5th Oct - Arts Club, Liverpool
7th Oct - Academy 2, Dublin
8th Oct - Limelight, Belfast
13th Oct - Duchess, York
14th Oct - The Fleece, Bristol
15th Oct - The Junction, Plymouth
16th Oct - Talking Heads, Southampton

(Tickets go on sale 9am, Friday 1st May, via their website)

GUN's Links:

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Friday, 17 April 2015

Feature: Stacey Solomon (17/04/15)


Six years after she burst onto the scene via X Factor in 2009, Stacey Solomon is now set to release her long awaited debut album 'Shy'. Since coming third on X Factor, Stacey has spent her time bringing up her young children, winning I'm A Celebrity in 2010 and recently competing in The Jump. Still only 25, Stacey has already seen success in TV and music, with her debut album being release this year, 2015 also sees her release a fragrance and publish her first novel. 


General Questions:


1. How old were you when you started getting involved in music and how?

I have always loved music and singing. It is just part of me.

2. What is the most inspiring gig/concert/festival you've been to?

Oh wow! That would be impossible to say. I have been lucky with everything I have seen.

3. What have you been listening to lately?

My kids and I have been singing 'Uptown Funk' lots.

3 Questions for Stacey:


1. Lyrically and musically, the tracks on your album are mature, soulful and honest, where do you gain inspiration and influences from?

From my every day life. Everything influences you when you are writing a song. I was so nervous when I first went into the recording studio, but when I started to write, it just came out naturally. On an upbeat day, I would write an inspirational and uplifting song. On a day when I was a bit low, it would get reflective and very personal. It was like the best therapy session ever.

2. What is your favourite track from your forthcoming album and why?

I absolutely love 'I Hope You're Happy'. I remember writing that song so clearly with Mike City. It was such a personal song for me and it says everything I wanted to say. I am so happy with it and so excited for people to hear it.

3. What process did you go through creating 'Shy', musically and visually?

I waited for a record label to offer me a deal where I could what I wanted to creatively. I knew I had things I wanted to say that I couldn't on just a covers album. I was lucky that I was offered a deal that allowed me to take my time and learn to write and record in my own way. I just had to think about how I was feeling and what I most wanted to share. Then the songs just came naturally. When I was offered songs by other writers, I just had to see whether they fitted with that I wanted to say. I also knew I wasted to include the covers of 'Gravity' and 'I Walk The Line' as they are two songs that mean so much to me.

Random Q:


What has been your favourite experience since X Factor and why?

I have loved every experience. I could not choose. I have been so lucky with everything.

'Shy' Review:


Stacey's debut album has definitely been worth the wait. The album opens with title track and first single 'Shy', co-written with Rita Ora and released earlier this week, it's soulful and welcomes the listener into the album well. 'Breath Away' follows with vocals and melody reminiscent of Amy Winehouse. Stepping down in tempo 'Gravity' and 'Only You Will Do' offer a slow, steady and soulful feel, with stunning vocals and lyrics to go alongside. 

Back to upbeat, uplifting and catchy melodies and vocals with 'The Way We Was' and 'I Hope You're Happy'. The latter track especially has one of those powerful 'I can do anything now' tones to it, a good way to start your week for sure. Slowing down again to steady and sincere songs, 'Perfect You' and 'Dream In Blue'. Personally, I feel 'Perfect You' is a stronger song with more emotion running through it, however, both songs offer honest lyrics highlighted by the tone of both songs. Next is 'My Big Mistake', which you can tell has influences of Lily Allen's co-writing with a hint of Caribbean influencing the underlying melody. The penultimate track 'Too Late To Love Me Now' is again slow, the storytelling lyrics create an emotive layer for the song. Finishing on an upbeat cover of Johnny Cash's 'I Walk The Line', this is a perfect summer sing-along tune with layered harmonies, highlighting Stacey's bubbly personality and approach to life. 

From beginning to end, it's a showcase of Stacey's talent and sound which she has waited to form herself, with influences and inspirations not only from the past six years, but also before. With a theme of love running throughout the album, there is a mixture of genres pulled together, well; and with sincere lyrics and emotive and powerful vocals, this album is one to be listened to again and again. Make sure you pre-order the album, released on Monday (20th April 2015), it's one you won't want to miss.




Stacey's Links:

HMV Tour Dates:
20 Apr, 1pm – hmv Glasgow Braehead
20 Apr, 5pm – hmv Edinburgh Princes St
21 Apr, 1pm – hmv Metrocentre Gateshead
21 Apr, 5pm – hmv Darlington
22 Apr, 1pm – hmv Liverpool One
22 Apr, 5.30pm – hmv Trafford Centre
23 Apr, 1pm – hmv Colchester
23 Apr, 5pm – hmv Chelmsford

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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Feature: Sarah-Jayne (14/04/15)


Sarah-Jayne is a young and talented singer/songwriter from Surrey, England. She has been uploading covers and originals to her YouTube channel and Soundcloud page for over a year and has also released an EP called 'Sunshine'. Having played at venues such as Proud Camden, Boston Music Room (London) and The Boileroom supporting Ben Montague, as well as filming a session with 'Ont Sofa and currently writing new material, the future is looking incredibly bright for Sarah-Jayne.

General Questions:

1. How old were you when you started getting involved in music and how?

I started playing the guitar when I was eight years old. I watched the School of Rock and absolutely loved it... When I was 10 I realised I could sing and then a year later started writing my own songs.

2. What is the most inspiring gig/concert/festival you've been to and why?

The most inspiring concert I've been to is The 1975 concert at Brixton Academy in 2014. They put on an amazing show by just doing what they love, and it really was all about the music. It gave me such a huge adrenaline rush and really inspired me to follow my dreams as a musician. I felt like they had such an incredible connection to the songs and the audience too, which always helps of course.

3. Who have you been listening to lately?

At the moment, I've been listening to a lot to Little Comets, The Kooks and Vampire Weekend.

3 Questions for You:


1. What is your favourite song to perform live and why?

My favourite song to perform live at the moment is called 'Leather Coat'. This is because I feel like it can relate to a time in the audience's life. With this song I like to single people out, I guess you could say I kind of sing the song about them and to them. It can create a different type of connection with that particular audience member, I feel like it makes the performance more personal. It also has different dynamics which allows me to show off a bit, which is fun too.

2. If you could duet with anyone, dead or live, who would it be?

If I was to duet with an artist it would definitely be between Matty Healy and Ed Sheeran. I wouldn't know how to choose between them as they're both so talented and both so different.

3. Where do you gather inspiration for songwriting and what is your usual writing process?

My writing process is probably a bit of a strange one... It always differs. Sometimes I can just pick up the guitar and the song appears out of nowhere. Other times I'll be thinking of a melody in my head and then try and figure out the music to go with it. Lyrically, I relate a lot to my own life, as I think that's what makes a song real.

Random Q:


A TV show you wish was still on air?

If there was one TV show I wish was still on air, it would have to be The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Makes me laugh every time I watch it...


Sarah-Jayne's Links:

Check It Out!

Chart: Ship To Wreck - Florence and the Machine

Maybe this is cheating, but this track was released nearly a week ago and if it doesn't gradually climb the charts, I really will be surprised. This is the third single from their third studio album 'How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful', which is set to be released on 29th May (2015). The overall sound and lyrics of this album are just as good as the previous two, so hopefully they'll do just as well in the charts too.


Live Performance: Cry No More - Vaults

Barney, Ben and Blythe make up electropop trio, Vaults, their song 'One More Night' was featured on the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack and they have recently supported Everything Everything on their Spring tour. This is a live performance of their track 'Cry No More' for Vevo Dscvr. 


Cover: Hold On We're Going Home - Lykke Li

Swedish indie/dream pop, singer-songwriter Lykke Li recently covered Drake's 'Hold On We're Going Home'. The original was a hit when released in August 2013, being in the Top 10 in multiple countries charts and Lykke Li offers a dreamy, haunting and ethereal approach to the song in this video. Stunning. 


YouTube: Novels - Rusty Clanton & Dodie Clark

Rusty is currently living in Nashville, TN, Dodie is currently living in London, UK and travelling the world with friends as well as music. They both got together in a corridor to film this stunning version of Rusty's original 'Novels'. (Please go check them both out on YouTube etc. 'cos they're both bloody brilliant!) 


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photo source

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Feature: Little Comets (07/04/15)


Indie rock trio, Little Comets, are living proof that hard work and good songs can get an independent band to break the Top 20. After releasing a trilogy of EPs over the past year, they have just released their highly anticipated third album 'Hope Is Just A State Of Mind'. Strong radio support from Steve Lamacq (6Music) and Huw Stephens (BBC Radio 1) and a popular UK tour shows 2015 is going to be a huge year for Rob, Michael and Matt and hopefully the start of something even bigger.

General Questions:

1. How old were you when you started getting involved in music and how?

I was about eight when I started to play the violin - someone came into our school and asked if anyone would like to learn a musical instrument. I volunteered and after they'd done a test to make sure I wasn't tonally challenged, let me have a go. I started going to a little orchestra on a Saturday morning and that was it really. When I was a bit older I started to play the piano and eventually the guitar.
My Dad used to write songs in the house as a hobby so when me and Mickey would play together we would try to emulate him by making up our own little tunes.

2. What is the most inspiring gig/concert/festival you've been to?
Erm... That is a hard question... I went to see Kate Rusby in Hexham once and she was pretty immense, watching an Orchestra in the Sage Gateshead is special, going to see the Lightning Seeds at Newcastle City Hall was great as one of my first gigs, and then just wondering round Latitude taking it all in was a nice experience too - lots and lots of different ones I suppose.

3. Who have you been listening to lately?
Just loads of vinyl - Radiohead, The Bends, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Cat Stevens, Carole King. Anything really!

3 Questions for Rob:

1. Out of all your tracks, which are you favourite five and why?

Haha, this is a truly impossible question: they are all our babies and when we wrote them they were all our favourites so it would be wrong to pick out different songs - I would feel like I was letting my earlier self down. I always prefer the later stuff but I think that is just conditioning.

2. What has been your favourite/best musical experience so far?
Again, that is tough - to try and consolidate the last seven years and pick a zenith, I mean: it is impossible. We've been fortunate enough to do lots of things which we'd never believed - from hearing our songs on the radio to touring in different countries, to playing lovely gigs in our town, to having people like Steve Lamacq say positive things about our music, to seeing people singing words back, or send emails to let us know that our songs have helped them through tough times. I could not possibly single anything out.

3. What process did you go through writing and producing 'Hope Is Just A State Of Mind' and was it any different to previous releases? 
It was pretty similar to the second album. The first album was written in a rehearsal room with a drummer - we wanted to capitalise on the energy of the situation so didn't interfere with structure too much.
The songs were completed there and then - if we reached a brick wall we'd just keep going until the problem was solved. Then we recorded the song later and the production was focused on refining the parts we'd written live - retaining the energy but giving a little more order.
After the first album our drummer Mark left the band and so me and Mickey went back to writing together in a bedroom. We found that we could be far more flexible - if we wanted to make a change we didn't have to explain it, it would just be made. Mickey would drive the melody whilst I'd sort out the rhythm.
Also, if we reached a problem we could just work on the soundscape and start to record what we had - so it always felt like we were moving forwards. Doing it this way the production and writing really became interlinked. Percussively, Mickey would write down the drum parts around the guitar and so that made the songs sound a little strange as Mickey is not a drummer.
We carried this process into the third album, the only changes in sound therefore come from the fact that this album reflects a different period in our lives rather than as a result of a change in approach.

Random Q:

A lyric/quote you live by?

I don't...

'Hope Is Just A State Of Mind' Review:

Little Comets' third album summarises their sound and message so well. Catchy guitar riffs, head nodding beats, vocals perfect for any tone of song and lyrics that focus on challenging topics and make you think. 

One thing I will always praise Little Comets for are their incredibly well written lyrics, for me, music really can tell a story and Little Comets are my go-to for fighting that argument, they're honest, clever and they really do hit a chord when listening to them, so if you're going to listen to this album or any of their songs, please do look into the stories and messages behind them.

It opens with 'My Boy William', introducing the album slowly but surely and builds in the catchy Little Comets trademark drums and guitars, with personal touches of home recordings it leaves an honest and hopeful tone to start with. 
'B&B', 'The Gift of Sound' and 'Formula' follow, all again with memorable guitars riffs and drums to get stuck in your head and melodies you'll be singing for days after. 


The previously released 'Little Italy', 'The Daily Grind' and 'Salt' (one of my favourites) are grouped together in the middle of the album. Two upbeat melodius songs sandwiching a slower, stunning song. 'The Daily Grind' offers a stripped back, softer side of Little Comets' music, which throughout the album you do get glimpses of but not to the extent shown in this track. 



'Effetism', 'Wherewithal', 'Fundamental Little Things' and 'Don't Fool Yourself' start bringing the album to a close, just how it opened with skippy overlapping guitars, drum beats and vocals all coming together really flipping well! (If you weren't a fan of Little Comets, you'd probably find the album repetitive at this point, however, if you like Little Comets, you'll pick up on the uniqueness of each song between lyrics, guitar, drum and bass lines intertwining.)


The album finishes with one of my favourite songs of theirs, 'The Blur, The Line and The Thickest of Onions', I first heard this as all the hype around 'Blurred Lines' was coming about and fell in love with the structure of the song as well as the lyrics, even if it wasn't meant to link to that as much as I felt it did. Overall, a brilliant album and one that I highly recommend listening to all the way through, great for the summer and they're bloody brilliant live as well (so if you ever hear they're on tour near you, be sure to grab a ticket or two!) 

Little Comets' Links:
'Hope Is Just A State Of Mind' (physical)http://www.thesmallestlabel.com
'Hope Is Just A State Of Mind' (iTunes)https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/hope-is-just-a-state-of-mind
Website: http://www.littlecomets.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/littlecomets
Twitter: https://twitter.com/littlecomets
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/littlecomets
Blog (info on lyrics etc.)http://www.littlecomets.com/news/

Thanks for reading! 


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