Category Archives: Music

Review: Morrissey – Spent the Day in Bed

Last Tuesday Morrissey, somewhat spontaneously, if you ignore the non-descriptive tweet the day before, released his first single in three years. The single received it’s first play, unfortunately, on Chris Evan’s (ugh) BBC Radio 2 morning show at around ten past eight. The track was titled ‘Spent The Day In Bed’ and is the first of, hopefully, a selection of singles preceding the release of his forthcoming album ‘Low In High School’ on November 17th.

I know this review is coming over a week after the track’s first play but this is a conscious decision from me both because college and travel means I have little time to write and because my obsession with each modern Morrissey work only really happens after I am truly familiar with it, in fact it took me four listens to unabashedly adore ‘Ringleader Of The Tormentors’ and hold it as one of the master’s finest works which, of course, I now do. That isn’t to say I wasn’t fully committed to listening to ‘Spent The Day In Bed’, by the end of the day I had listened to the track on repeat around 20-25 times and knew every lyric by heart. Sad, I know but train journeys are long and Morrissey’s voice is much more beautiful than the indistinctive chatter and clang of the national rail. Equally as beautiful, it turns out, is this song which remains an utter treat from start to finish. 

Opening with a chimy keyboard riff that continues throughout, it’s clear very suddenly that this is a deeply produced and somewhat upbeat track instrumentally, even if the lyrics aren’t directly optimistic themselves. Bouncing, rhythmic beats proceed from off-kilter opening and soon Morrissey’s vocals fall over the top, rising and dropping in time with the instrumentals provided. 

(Above) The cover of Morrissey’s upcoming album
As expected, and always seems to be the case with Mozza’s output, the poetic lyrics are the star of the show here. When elaborated on, the title and refrain of this track take on a much more tender and gentle meaning, ultimately transforming a song many assumed to be dour into an almost uncharacteristically chirpy anthem of self-care. Framed within the fantastic chorus decrying partisan paranoia pushing is a myriad of politically charged soundbites promising warmth and kindness from Britain’s favourite curmudgeon. 

“No bus, no boss, no rain, no train// No emasculation, no castration”

This wonderful refrain is what ultimately concludes Morrissey’s enigmatic endeavour into self-love but, most importantly, is a conclusion to the subtle yet tightly strung political comment running through the entire track. Not one to hide his stances on political and moral issues, Morrissey’s new album promises to be as political as any other albums he has worked on including ‘The Queen Is Dead’ and ‘World Peace is None of Your Business.’ Boasting a front cover emblazoned with the image of a child brandishing a pick-axe and a picket sign declaring that we ‘Axe The Monarchy’ and featuring tracks such as “Israel” and “Who Will Protect Us From The Police”, it’s safe to assume this won’t be the most radical track on the album however this lack of outwardly topical comments is in and of itself a political comment. As mentioned above, Morrissey’s insistence on avoiding the news and seeming disappointment that all of his dreams “are perfectly legal” follow a smug opening phrase that he may relax in bed whilst “the workers stay enslaved”, however I would argue that, rather than truly smug, in the context of this track and the freedom from societal chains that is preached in the later verses, this is much more an image of disgust with the modern, oppressive systems. In regards to the somewhat vague comments on the legality of dreams, the image conjures up comments from previous works of Morrissey discussing the criminalisation of homosexuality, and so in my own, somewhat warped, interpretation I can’t help but feel that this day spent in bed is also somewhat of a reflective day pondering Queer British heritage. And of course, when discussing modern politics, we can not, although we may try, avoid the subject of Trump. Morrissey himself has made no subject of his disdain with the Republican president, bringing his band out in ‘Fuck Trump’ shirts and manipulating some Smiths classics into anti-Trump protest songs whilst the media have also done very little to avoid his presence, splattering his orange face across every website and news bulletin for the last 12 months. And so, ‘Stop Watching The News’ can only feel like a direct attack against the centrist apocalyptic coverage being spewed since the beginning of the American presidential election, and Morrissey is aware we’ll make this connection and that is exactly why he sings it the way he does and at the time he does.

Ultimately, this is another Morrissey track. Another peer into the mind of a troubled genius reflecting on the world around him and articulating what we’ve all wanted to for so long. This is also a rather delicate turn from Morrissey both in gentler lyrics, highlighting his worries about the wellbeing of his friends, and instrumentally in which a playful organ backs a catchy selection of repetitive and soothing riffs. We waited three years for this and, of course, it was worth it. 

Year Of The Girl

Even though I’m a girl, I’ll admit I’ve never really found myself listening to many female musicians. I’ve always had massive respect for the likes of Blondie, Stevie Nicks, Patti Smith, The Pretenders and Siouxsie and The Banshees, but they’ve never really been amongst my favourite artists. Up until this year, almost every musician on my Spotify ‘recently played artists’ were men. It wasn’t a conscious decision, I just hadn’t found the one.

So this is my shoutout to 2017 – the year that changed it all for me. I don’t know whether the girls have had a particularly good year in 2017, or whether it’s just taken me this long to properly hear the music they’re making. I know they’ve always been out there, but 2017 seems to be the year that I’ve finally tuned into them.

Lana Del Rey was the first female artist to really grab my attention when she dropped Born To Die back in 2012, serving nihilism, hedonism, self-loathing and feminine melancholia in a sort of hip-hop-punk package. Something about her persona and talent made a lasting impression, not only on me, but on the music scene in general. For me, she’s sustained her well-deserved reputation, culminating in this year’s Lust For Life album. Whilst, for me, it still doesn’t top Born To Die or Ultraviolence, this is perhaps her most accomplished album yet, with an exciting array of musicians featuring, including the aforementioned Stevie Nicks, as well as A$AP Rocky, The Weeknd and Sean Ono Lennon. Not only this, but Del Rey landed herself a magnificent ELLE UK cover and spread and whipped up excitement over shows in London, Liverpool and Glasgow. In short, 2017 has seen Lana Del Rey rocket ever higher.

A year later than Del Rey’s debut, 2013 saw the release of Haim’s Days Are Gone, an album which made its way into my summer playlist and into the pages of NME regularly. However, this year’s Something To Tell You has been the real showstopper, perhaps as a result of an agonisingly long 4-year wait for the group to return. Already with a reputation as one of the most exciting live acts around at the moment, Haim certainly have not disappointed this year, with an explosive headline set on the NME stage at Reading and Leeds. Even though I haven’t seen them live, watching their Reading set on the TV was proof enough to me that they deserve their reputation, and that 2017 has treated them well, with a second log of crowd-pleasing tunes, an eager and adoring audience, and a confetti cannon finale. This year their singles have even become an almost regular feature on Radio 1. However, my personal favourite Haim moment of 2017 has got to be their incredible cover of Shania Twain’s That Don’t Impress Me Much on Triple J’s Like A Version. 

Like Haim, Lorde also released her debut album Pure Heroine in 2013. Unlike Haim, Lorde wasn’t really on my radar until she came back this year with Melodrama – an album I really can’t speak highly enough of. I’d heard Royals back then (who hadn’t?) but I feel like I, personally, wasn’t ready for it. It’s not until I heard Melodrama this year that I decided to listen to Pure Heroine, this time with full appreciation. A captivating performer, talented songwriter, and pals with the late David Bowie, Lorde is one of the girls I’m championing this year as she continues to enjoy commercial success without compromising on her quirky individualism, in terms of fashion, performance and personality (see her recent performance at the VMA’s despite having the flu). However, there’s definitely something different about 2017 Lorde compared to 2013. The musical direction, the haircut, I don’t know what it is, but, to me, 2017 seems to be the year that Lorde has flourished most so far, breaking into my psyche at long last and doing it for the girls.

Even on a smaller scale, 2017 seems to have blessed us with an array of talented gals, with Wolf Alice coming back at us with some new tunes, and Fickle Friends continuing to  tour and work on their much-anticipated debut album. From the small tents to the headline stage, the gals have really been gearing up this year.

So, has 2017 been the year of the girl, or have I just been deaf all these years? Who is the queen of the scene at the moment? And, most importantly, who has dropped the best album of 2017: Lorde, Haim or Lana?

Harriet x

Introducing Winstons Awake

Winstons Awake are a Cornish Grunge/Indie duo based around Truro. Members Robin Owen (Guitar and vocals) and Malcolm Shead (Drums) manage to fill their live performances with energy and passion. As for their music, the mix of powerful vocals, outstanding solos, and tune you can’t help but dance, this band could have a future few can match. With inspiration from such famous bands as smashing pumpkins, Blind Melon and White Denim, it would hardly be surprising if this band becomes one of the leaders in the British grunge scene in just a few years. small bands like this are proof that the classic style of rock can never die, merely change its look and lay in wait for the right band to come about.

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Check out their social media and

http://www.winstonsawake.co.uk

http://www.winstonsawake.bandcamp.com

http://www.soundcloud.com/winstonsawake

Facebook and Instagram @winstonsawake

Also, don’t forget to check out Robins Solo work below \/ \/ \/

http://www.romusic.co.uk

http://www.robinowen.bandcamp.com

If you have any questions my social media links will be below.

Twitter: Sundani_Karma

Instagram: Sundani_Karma

Snapchat: Sundani_Karmaxz

youtube: Sundani Karma

Basically sundani karma everywhere. on youtube, I will be updating and adding videos from the festival and any gigs I go to in the future so keep an eye out.

MY Pick For Top 5 Acts of Boardmasters

Disclaimer. Acts of all genres, popularity, and fame have been considered. These are my top picks and mine only. I have also ignored the headliners as everyone knows Two Door, Alt-J, Jamiroquai, slaves, Jake Bugg and the like will have had insane sets.

5. Will Joseph Cook

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Will Joseph Cook played the main stage at 14:15 on the Friday and for me was one of the first acts I saw on the weekend. His energy, vibrant music and charisma on stage made him one of my favorite acts of the weekend. If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t yet heard of Will Joseph Cook. be sure to check him out on youtube and Spotify.

4. Loyle Carner

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If you’ve been anywhere near the rap/ indie scene this year you’ve certainly heard this name before. This contemporary hip-hop artist from south London tackles difficult subjects with his smooth rhymes. The beats combined with his voice are bound to get you dancing. If you have any appreciation of rap then this artist is for you.

3. Winstons Awake

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That’s right, time for a small act. This Truro based duo blow me away with their live energy and attitude towards the music they were making. Their passion reflected in their music. With band members Robbin Owen (vocals/guitar) and Malcolm Shead (drums). This rocking duo is bringing old-fashioned grunge into the modern era and throwing around a bit of indie and folk while they’re at it. be sure to check them out on youtube along with Robbin’s solo ep as well. you might just find something you like.

2. Tom Grennan / The Amazons

These two acts were both incredible and impossible to split up since they performed one after the other at the festival.

Tom Grennan

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A man with a band backing him and his powerful vocals all the way and stopping at nothing to throw out tune after tune. This man will be staying on the festival circuit for a long time and I have no doubt in a few years we could see him headlining.

The Amazons

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I’m sure everyone heard the fuss when this band released their debut album just a few months ago. There was a lot of hype around it, and rightfully so. Their amazing album has just released the floodgates on this bands potential to perform live as well.

1. Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls

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If you’ve been to a festival in the last 8 years you’ve probably heard of Frank Turner and with good reason. With such incredible songs as “Get Better”, “I Still Believe” and “recovery” (shown in the video). His Punk attitude combined with a rock/Indie folk sound makes him very distinctive. With having seen nearly 500 different musicians live I know a good show when I see one, and I have got to say few come close to the dedicated, energetic crowd he seems to draw in. I don’t think it was possible to not to dance. Frank Turner has played over 2000 shows and his positivity, energy, and love for his music combined with having fun on stage was enough to make him my number one (nonheadliner) for Boardmasters 2017

This has been my BM 2017 countdown. I hope this opened your eyes to new music.

If you have any questions my social media links will be below.

Twitter: Sundani_Karma

Instagram: Sundani_Karma

Snapchat: Sundani_Karmaxz

youtube: Sundani Karma

Basically sundani karma everywhere. on youtube, I will be updating and adding videos from the festival and any gigs I go to in the future so keep an eye out.

 

NEW MUSIC: CARLOS DANGER takes us on a trip back to the 80s with Neon Daydreams EP

CARLOS DANGER is the latest project by Sam Butcher who takes us on a journey back to the 80s in an attempt to go all in on the sound of 80s pop.

Setting off with his debut release, Carlos’ Neon Daydreams EP has a combination of upbeat tracks as well as other more mellow ones. With this guise being part of a group project named The Taurus; Neon Daydreams aims to be a prologue for this next project.

Bouncy Balls sets the EP off and belongs back in the realms of the Mario Kart 64 soundtrack. Made up of groovy beats and retro sound effects the track gives off a (literally) bouncy and vibrant feel. Track 3, Puppy Love is just as upbeat and similarly belongs on the tracklist of an 80s computer game.

Demarco-esque Blue comes second on the EP and is just over 3 minutes of shoe-gaze psychedelia giving listeners a ride back to the late 80s.

Palm Tree Passion has a funky sound to it with a slightly western edge in parts. As  Butcher’s personal favourite on the EP, he told us:

“I was trying to emulate an 80s cop show/movie theme tune like Miama Vice or Beverly Hills Cop”

Redbone is the final track on the EP which is a cover of the Childish Gambino tune by the same name, a different take on the track, which Butcher described to us as “almost vaporwavey”.

You can stream the EP on Soundcloud:

Sam Butcher has also been involved in other projects including playing lead guitar for indie-rock band Mirror Gorillas & releasing a solo EP back in 2016, find him on social media below:

Twitter

Who To See At Boardmasters

The summeriest festival of them all, Boardmasters offers a Cornish take on the usual mud-crusted fest vibes, offering not just music, but also surfing competitions, laid back campfire jam sessions and even morning beach yoga. However, don’t let this host of other activities distract you from what is set to be an impressive line-up of acts.

The Vaccines

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A personal favourite band of mine who I’ve had the pleasure of seeing both at a gig in Leicester and at T in the Park in 2012. Despite me no longer being an exuberant young teenager with a penchant for feelgood indie pop, as well as the departure of drummer Pete Robertson, these are a band I’m excited to see live again after so many years. Still enthusiastic and energetic, The Vaccines seem, to me, to be the perfect band to headline a festival like Boardmasters, with catchy summer tunes such as Wetsuit and If You Wanna guaranteed to get the crowd going. If you’re headed to Boardmasters and have never seen these guys live, re-familiarise yourself with their work and get ready for a treat.

Two Door Cinema Club

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Despite their best efforts, NME never managed to whip up an Oasis v. Blur style rivalry between Two Door and The Vaccines, as both of these bands will be sharing the stage at Boardmasters. Equal to The Vaccines in terms of pop-fuelled hits and punchy debut albums, one thing I can not compare is their styles as live artists, having never seen TDCC live before. In many ways, I’m more excited to see these live than The Vaccines after having missed my chance in my younger years. For a festival that promises a summer of alternative music seen through the Aden Instagram filter, Boardmasters is certainly delivering on the line-up, with TDCC’s Sun and Undercover Martyn sure to put the crowd into a beachy trance.

Jake Bugg

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Providing the festival with some much-needed folk-rock and melancholia is the immeasurably talented Jake Bugg. Although he seems to have slipped off the ‘indie radar’ since his acclaimed debut at the tender age of 18, it’s irrefutable that he’s an artist with plenty of growth left in him, and an impressive discography with which to fill his set. Having seen him tour his debut album, I know that his style as a live performer is worlds away from the energy of The Vaccines, but is no less compelling. What Doesn’t Kill You and Lightning Bolt will certainly please the crowd, whilst if Broken gets an airing down in Cornwall, I’m certain we will be in tears by the end.

The Amazons

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Relative new kids on the block compared to the other artists listed, The Amazons have been stirring up excitement these last 12 months as they establish themselves as another band with a heavier sound, following loosely in the footsteps of other artists such as Royal Blood, Catfish and the Bottlemen and The Hunna. Heavier than the likes of The Vaccines and TDCC and more high octane than Jake Bugg, The Amazons are another band I’m looking forward to seeing live for the first time, with their songs Junk Food Forever and Black Magic having found their way onto a couple of my Spotify playlists. Judging by their steadily growing popularity, their Boardmasters set could be a busy affair.

See you at Boardmasters!

Harriet xx

Disclaimer: I own none of the pictures featured.

What the World Was Waiting For: The flaws and merits of The Roses return

18th October 2011. ‘This is a live resurrection that we’ve invited you to, so you better be careful.’ This flippant comment from Ian Brown on the date of the official reunion of The Stone Roses would go on to capture the spirit, mentality and excitement of the nation’s most prominent musical dream. 

Since 1989, the world has been a very different place for the British and lovers of their music. The drab, dull nature of our tiny Island was manipulated by the luscious loops of John Squire, the lyrical lexicon of Ian Brown, the loose licks of Gary Mounfield and the labyrinthine lynchpin that was Alan Wren in such a way that our culture has never quite recovered. And so you can only begin to imagine the elation that filled the air upon hearing this band were back for more and had promised new music! So why is it that six years later so many fans of the band seem disappointed with what this reunion has provided us with? I’m going to try and discuss in this article the many merits and odd flaw that have arose from the return of the greatest band of this century. 

Following the press conference given to officially announce this return the band embarked on a world tour hitting their key locations of Ireland, Japan and of course, Manchester where the band’s two huge dates at Heaton Park sold 150,000 tickets in 11 minutes prompting a third date to be added. However before any of this happened, The Stone Roses announced a surprise gig at Warrington Parr Hall exclusive only to fans who brought band merchandise. This deeply intimate gig in front of 1,000 joyous and dedicated fans is some of the most exciting live stuff of the reunion and was documented expertly by Shane Meadows in ‘Made of Stone’ which for my money is reason enough for the band’s second coming. Meadows’ work in regards to all of that film is perfect but it is most visibly tender when he and his camera crew stand outside the Warrington venue and interview many of these very fans whose stories and emotions fill every inch of whatever size screen you can see this film on. 

And from there the band went from strength to strength, Heaton Park was a success comparable only to Spike Island, Coachella saw the band on top form even if the crowd were bemused and even the music press were enamoured with the greatest hit sets the band had been touring with. Following this a selection of dates at The Etihad Stadium were announced, one of which was my first time seeing The Roses, and once again these tickets sold out incredibly quickly however what truly shook up the world happened one month and three days before the first concert took place. The Stone Roses finally blessed us all with new music. 

‘All For One’ was the first of the new material released and was first played on Radio 1 just before 8 PM 12 May 2016, almost five years since the band reformed. I, as so many others were, was listening intently to the radio, ear pressed to the speaker waiting for what was thought to never happen. To avoid any excess noise, I laid on my bathroom floor next to my radio with my phone recording so that I would be able to listen to the track multiple times even if there had been a delay before the track was put online. The track erupted into the band’s back catalogue as it would later erupt from the speakers of stadiums across the country. The track has been criticised for its simplicity and lack of weight and yet I feel that as an anthemic ode to unity, it is bright, bubbly and brash. It is certainly a weak track when placed against the other masterworks the band have produced in their time but nevertheless it is still a Roses track through and through and it certainly satiated, momentarily, the fans need for new music. 

Next was ‘Beautiful Thing’, a track released nearly a month later at Midnight on the ninth of June. I, once again, went to great lengths to hear the song properly staying up all night and listening to the track enough times to know all of the lyrics before I went to bed that night. It seems I wasn’t alone as this 7 minute epic went on to receive much greater critical acclaim and fan acceptance than ‘All For One.’ Fans and critics alike praised the more psychedelic nature of the track, the more sprawling lyrical content and the general complexity the band put forward. 

Overall, the tweets following the release of each track and posts on the band’s fan site suggest that I wasn’t alone in my obsession with hearing each track and that most fans seemed to at least mildly enjoy both tracks, however many old-school fans voiced disappointment with the material and even addressed fears that the band may swap some classics for these new tracks on their live setlist. In truth only ‘All For One’ would land onto the setlist making it’s live debut on June 7 2016 at another surprise, smaller gig this time in Halifax. ‘Beautiful Thing’ would remain unperformed aside from Ian singing it’s chorus along with 52,000 other fans at The Roses final gig at Hampden Park. 

There is one event I have deliberately avoided mentioning when writing this piece and that is the infamous ‘Reni leaves stage incident.’ On June 12 2012 the group played their third ever gig as a reformed band, a Music Hall in Amsterdam. During the concert Reni’s earpiece had been giving him trouble and interference lead to him struggling to play and so when the band left stage for an encore Reni ditched the performance leaving the band drummer-less and unable to go on. Ian relayed this information to the crowd in a deliberately antagonistic way and even went as far as calling Reni a “cunt”. This incident inflamed age old rumours regarding Ian and Reni’s dislike for one another, rumours that would later return as the band’s split seemed imminent. Whilst hardly the death of the reunion that the music press had described it as, it becomes painfully obvious that this highlighted what would become a growing divide between two of the band’s most divisive members.

Arguably the most important element, and the element that has truly cemented this reunion as the most important musical event of the last decade is the healing of the rift between generations of baggy-clad ravers. The Roses first defined a generation in the nineties when the loose hippies celebrating acid and the ‘second summer of love’ flocked to Spike Island and created a sea of bucket hats, an aroma of pot and an event that lives on in mythology. Amongst these were The Gallagher Brothers whose floppy hair and flared jeans kept the spirit of early 90’s subculture rolling and when the World’s cameras were pointed at Oasis during the height of their powers, the pair waxed poetic about Ian Brown and Co, specifically ‘Sally Cinnamon’ and in doing so turned a whole load of Britpop teenagers onto The Stone Roses. This sequence of inspiration, acknowledgment and revival would keep going in the years between their breakup and would create a stream of fans who grew younger and younger. And yet something special happened with this reunion. Every gig was a spectacle, every kid into indie music put a lemon in their social media usernames, bucket hats were back and parents, children, aunties, uncles, brothers and sisters all became one and The Stone Roses fan-base grew ever more diverse. Suddenly it was cool to raid your parents wardrobe and go to gigs with them wearing matching bucket hats, it was cool to share CDs and I honestly believe The Roses are a great point of connection between me and my parents as well families up and down the country. The Stone Roses preached and practiced what no other band ever could. One love.

And then it was over. Following two shows at Leeds First Direct Arena, rumours began to fly about The Roses split following a supposed leak sharing news that Hampden Park was to be the band’s last ever gig. Soon after, fans began to post pictures from signings telling us that the band themselves had confirmed this was it for The Roses and before long it seemed set in stone. After an amazing gig at Hampden Park Ian dropped the final comment that solidified to so many the conclusion of the band: “Don’t be sad that it’s over, be happy it happened”. This was it, arena tours, new tracks and generational crossovers finished with a single line. However the lack of official announcement following this obvious finale begs the question, is this just another hiatus? Could there be a third coming?

And would we even want it? It has become a point of contention for fans of the band, across fan pages and forums as to whether it all lived up to the hype. Whether the band that we never thought could have reformed ever should have done. And in conclusion I think so. This reunion has offered me and the rest of my generation the chance we never had, the opportunity to see The Stone Roses live, to be a part of the cultural phenomenon that you can’t put into words, to feel the spirituality of The Roses. The band were always on top form performing setlists of golden material and releasing two songs, both of which are excellent for seemingly juxtaposed reasons, one a rollicking call for peace, the other a slower jam questioning the psychedelia of relationships and society. I have seen it argued that this was a nostalgia trip, a chance for fans to hear their favourite tracks and nothing more but I then ask: in this age of political turmoil and oppression, what could be more uplifting than the chance for so many of us to share in our celebration of something we love? And this return has given us that, it has provided us with unity in a time where that seems so far away and has brought us all together in a way nobody but The Stone Roses can and whether they continue or not their music is forever immortal. 

Review: Arcade Fire – Everything Now

Arcade Fire, master of the modern concept album, have returned with their first record in four years and in typically untypical fashion, the album’s lead singles and promotion promised a new direction sonically for the band. Marketed using the bizarre methods of fabricating fake reviews, band news and even whole companies, all of which were basic and disappointing satire from such a bold and seemingly intelligent band, the album has been the subject of much discussion. This discussion was furthered fuelled by the lead singles which, in coincidental unison with The Killers, highlighted a new groove and disco based sound for the band commonly associated with existential indie guitar rock. 
The album begins in strong but unusual fashion with a continuation of ‘Everything Now’ a record that follows its own continuation. The titular track however is an optimistic, bounce-infused look to space complete with the band’s trademark nostalgia. 
The darker following track, ‘Signs of Life’ promises an atmospheric yet still funk-heavy tone elaborated upon in tracks such as ‘Electric Blue’ and ‘Good God Damn.’ These tracks whilst certainly well-realised are disappointing and add nothing of great value to the album, each of them serving only to slow down the album and they all isolate themselves from the catchier nature of the overall album which isn’t necessarily an issue however the boredom that these tracks inspire mean that, aside from ‘Signs of Life’ these songs would be better used as b-sides or on a darker album the band may go on to produce. 
These two tracks are also responsible for the album’s biggest flaw: that from track 7, ‘Infinite Content’ to track 10, ‘Put Your Money on Me’, the album is incessantly uninspired and dull. The album’s satire, which is more minimal than other critics may suggest, is present deeply on these tracks whose lyrics of technology and voids filled by visual information reeks of Baby-Boomer’s ‘criticisms’ of modern technology in that they seem baseless and in fact say very little about the many problems that our advance in modern technology has caused. Also within this drought of entertainment is ‘infinite_content’ which is an acoustic version of the album’s most painfully cringeworthy track ‘Infinite Content’ whose lyrics say little of the target of its critique. Despite the fact that the Abba comparisons are boring and somewhat exaggerated the groove-based ‘Put Your Money on Me’ is the catchy and enjoyable homage to the Swedish four piece that finally lifts us from the album’s driest patch.
However, of course, the influences are obvious and yet they pale in comparison to the returning motifs of the band themselves. Lyrics of suburban boredom and desperate pleas for escapism are old-hat to the Butlers at this point and yet the lyrics here are as beautiful and reflective as ever blending the surreal and the crushingly benign in a way that captures great longing. Other lyrics this time around however often concern self-esteem or a lack thereof, this is most obvious and notable in the fourth, and best, track of the album ‘Creature Comforts’ in which the wonderful line ‘stand in the mirror and wait for the feedback’ is sung many times or is seen I n the quiet, conclusive ballad of the album ‘We Don’t Deserve Love’ in which the band beg the listener to tell your boyfriend you love his song’. Both of these tracks are beautiful, powerhouse hits of inner turmoil and pain rendered through the disco style of the entire album. However, in a surprising turn, many of the band’s other lyrics here are cloying and obvious such as the sickly pining of ‘Peter Pan’ or the boredom inspiring mess that is ‘Electric Blue’. These lyrics are scattered sparingly across the record and so fail to drag down the overall impressive prose here but the lyrics are still unappealing and a symptom of the album’s overall issues. 
As mentioned above, the record winds down with the slow, emotive ‘We Don’t Deserve Love’ which is a long, winding six and a half minute confession of confusion and self-destructing emotions and relationships. This is the album’s most complex track complete with cryptic lyrics and a beat that lacks the pop-sensibilities of the band’s earlier work on this album. Following this is the closing track of the album which is another continuation of ‘Everything Now’ and the shorter track completes the melancholic tone set by the prior track and ends the record in a way that is both emotionally sound and links the beginning and end of the album creating an illusion that the album lives in a continuous loop. 
Overall the band’s foray into disco works sporadically and enhances the album only on the opening, anthemic such as ‘Chemistry’ and the titular track itself. The tracks composition and lyrical accompaniment are also the weakest Arcade Fire have ever been, beginning with a slew of enjoyable yet forgettable hits before slowly fading into a chain of mediocrity and then concluding by coming down into beautiful yet underdeveloped hit of ‘We Don’t Deserve Love’. Despite flourishes of brilliance, mainly ‘Creature Comforts’ this is a weak, unbalanced album chained to a sound that inhibits Arcade Fire and clearly lead to the birth of some of the most uninteresting and basic tracks in their career. 

Darklands Retrospective and Review: The perfect angst album? 

The 80’s were the age of angst and the rightful birth place of teenage culture admitting that it’s horrible to be a teenager. Despite some rather obvious outliers, Rebel Without a Cause, The Ramones and others, teenage culture before the 80’s mostly consisted of Americana-esque ideas regarding freedom, love and optimism and yet with bands like The Smiths storming the charts and films like The Breakfast Club filling multiplexes it seemed that a new decade had ushered in a new era of teenage honesty. Bands like The Smiths and The Housemartins also pioneered what would go on to become indie music categorised by these lyrics of teenage trouble and yet in the cultural conversation of inspiration, originality and lyrical connection, I feel that one band, and one album in particular, are often left behind, that is The Jesus and Mary Chain and their seminal album ‘Darklands’.
Released at the conclusion of summer thirty years ago, ‘Darklands’ reached number 5 in the U.K album chart and signalled a new popularity to the band previously branded ‘The New Sex Pistols.’ This comparison applied to the band for their risqué lyrics and raucous live shows felt shallow as the music press, finally, began to catch onto the lustful angst in the band’s lyrics and instrumentation. The band’s melding of lyrical poetry, gothic imagery and vulnerable anger reached a heightened crescendo in this album of balladic sadness and the pain of being a teenager reflected through existential horrors. 

The record opens with the titular track, in which Will Reid professes he has ‘gone to the Darkland’ itself to talk and rhyme with his ‘chaotic soul’, these opening lyrics seem to suggest that this entire record is a place for the Reid brothers to vent, discuss and reflect on their innermost selves. These lyrics are backed by a heavy, flowing riff that instantly creates the distinctive sound that goes on to populate the rest record, a riff that continues steadily and peaks at a chorus of deep longing in which Reid sings that he ‘wants to go’ in one of the album’s more vocally conventional moments. Following this ‘Deep One Perfect Morning’ seems to describe the morning after a decadent night in which one’s ‘thoughts turn backwards’ and ‘screws turn into my mind’. This source material also allows the band to create the first major mood change as the record jumps from the depression and need for escapism to the youthful dawn following one such night of escape. It’s a feeling shared by teenagers across the country every weekend and this softer tone is elaborated upon when Jim Reid describes the ‘moon and all the stars’ in a line that no matter how wonderful could still be ripped from the diary of any besotted teenager. 

This major-key shift continues into the band’s first directly romantic track ‘Happy When It Rains’. The lyrics of two lovers connecting over shared misery is a moment of pre-emo romantic melancholy most evident in the track’s title itself. ‘Down on Me’ immediately translates this inner turmoil into the rough bounce of a track preoccupied with ideas that would go on to be clichés in teen literature such as Jim Reid admitting that he can ‘fake a smile’. While these lyrics may now seem over-used and under-developed, in the context in which they are used and the tight instrumentation behind them means that you understand why these tropes have become so commonplace. 

The deeply downbeat ‘Nine Million Rainy Days’ serves as the midpoint for the album and whereas ‘Happy When It Rains’ described the building of a relationship signified by rain, this track with its spacious instrumentation and lyrics of rain as a symbol of heartbreak seems to suggest a breakdown of that very same relationship. ‘April Skies’ is next and boasts the album’s catchiest drum beat which is impressive as a drum machine was used in place of Gillespie following his split from the band, ‘April Skies’ is also another song that perfectly captures the mid-point of passion and sadness in a series of sensational riffs and prose describing another toxic relationship. 


‘Fall’ is the most overtly sexual track on this album using deliberately provocative imagery such as people on their knees and people falling onto one another to balance the equally dark lyrics of someone falling into a depressive episode all whilst a tight, frantic bass-line overplays the shortest and most energetic track here. This sexuality is both furthered and dismissed in ‘Cherry Came Too’: a Beach-Boy’s-esque tribute to a girl who stirs something in Jim Reid, whether this is sensual or not is never described however the bouncing verses that collide into a joyous chorus suggest a far more innocent reading. 

‘On The Wall’ follows and draws the album back into thoughtful contemplation as a head-banging drum beat and smooth bass-line frame lyrics of growing up and looking back. The track also holds a haunting quality as references of time, hour glasses and ‘grains of sand’ suggest an inevitability to the passing of time. The album concludes gently with the melodic and acoustic ‘About You’ which also holds the final reference to rain describing lovers who live ‘in the pouring rain’ and there being ‘something warm about the rain’. The positive conclusion of this common thread ends the album with a delicate optimism, yet one still enriched with The Jesus and Mary Chain’s singular lyrical and musical approach. 

As an album complete, ‘Darklands’ is a balanced, heavy record of highs and lows, connections and breakups, angst and joy. The teenage experience may never be referenced directly and yet it wasn’t in the works of The Smiths either, what makes this such an applicable record to the early years of adulthood is it’s references to common themes of love, pain and awkward loneliness. This may be an under-appreciated and under-recognised piece of youthful anxiety and yet that may be down to the spiky and rough personal moments blended into the broad ideas here. This is the coming of age album that could only be made by The Jesus and Mary Chain. 

Live Review: 2000 Trees Festival 2017

Independent music festival, 2000 Trees, was set in the rolling hills of the Cotswolds between the 6th and 9th July 2017. 

The weekend was an eventful one to say the least. Sun, cider and good music filled both the days and the nights, accompanied by the campsite antics only a festival can offer. Aside from the fantastic bands, the chants of ‘oh Jerermy Corbyn’ could be heard repeatedly as festival goers enjoyed one of the best up and coming festivals around.

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Thursday allowed the chance to hear headliners Mallory Knox. The quintet from Cambridgeshire certainly packed the Cave stage, as the audience well as truly embraced the ‘shout at the moon’ attitude. As I arrived late into the evening, I missed most of the other acts, however I did manage to catch a glimpse of Young Guns as they disappeared off stage.

Friday delivered more sunshine, sweat and most importantly, quality music. Deaf Havana have been one of my favourite bands for a while now, and their set-list certainly did not disappoint. Having left the song choices down to a Facebook poll, many older ‘classics’ were performed, particularly from their album ‘Fools and Worthless Liars’. One of the best moments for me, as I am sure it was for a lot of other people, was when frontman James Veck-Gilodi broke into the legendary ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ by Oasis, after their song ‘Nicotine and Alcohol’ was incorrectly named on the poll.

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The Wonder Years – the band I was most excited to see at 2000 Trees – played next. The crowd was raring to go and instantly pits opened up for the pop-punk tunes. They delivered, in my opinion, a fantastic set-list, with songs spanning across all their albums.

Due to the incredible heat on Friday, I spent much of the day in the acoustic forest sessions. Here, James Veck-Gilodi performed prior to Deaf Havana’s main slot. Frank Carter also played a great acoustic performance, ending on ‘I Hate You’ – undoubtedly my favourite song by the infamous Rattlesnakes.

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Another notable mention from Friday is Ducking Punches who had the privilege of opening the main stage. Despite a heavy Thursday night, a large crowd arrived to support the 5-piece. A special mention goes out to Dan Allen for delivering a particularly moving speech concerning mental health before playing ‘Six Years’.

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Saturday delivered yet more sunshine, cider and more unusually, a wedding (that I had been invited to at some point on the Thursday evening)!

Saturday’s array of bands topped off the weekend. Gnarwolves, Lower Than Atlantis and Slaves were my highlights of the day, but others such as Fizzy Blood and Get Inuit certainly added to that final day buzz. Slaves ended the main-stage music in such a manner that involved the whole crowd moshing and moving to every song, previously knowing them or not.

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What deserves a special shout out is the seriously good Silent Disco that went on between 11.30pm and 3.00am on Friday and Saturday night, across two stages. The Main Stage delivered a pop soundtrack to dance along to, or so I am informed, as I spent my 7 hours at The Cave. Here the headphones blared out a mixture of metal, pop-punk and rock; anything from Slipknot to Panic! At The Disco, to Limp Bizkit and New Found Glory!

There was no denying that the sauna-like tents or ridiculous sunburn hurt, but honestly, the sun provided a much needed change from the normal damp and dreary weather found at British festivals.

2000 Trees delivered a spectacular variety of talent; both new and old. The friendly staff, safe environment and unrivalled line-up has well as truly convinced me, a first time 2000 Trees attendee, to return in 2018 (I have already got my ticket!).

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2018 tickets can be brought here.

 

Written by Harriet / @yellowdaffodilx