Tag Archives: pop culture

Six good things that happened in 2016

Last year wasn’t great, but don’t let that overshadow the revitalisation we saw in the indie music scene.

To say last year was a weird one would be, well, an understatement.  It’s hard to talk about the year past without jumping on the ‘that’s so 2016’ bandwagon, but in terms of inconceivable political victories and mind numbing celebrity deaths it is hard not to.

After all, this was the year Trump came to power and the year Britain voted to leave the European Union. It’s the year which bowed down to ‘social media influencers,’ inciting them as role models and provided them with their own Netflix series; it’s also the year a silverback gorilla was killed which fuelled the fire for increased ‘meme culture’ and ridiculous hashtags. 2016 also saw T in the Park announce it was, after 21 years, ‘taking a break’ and the Oscars had a slight race issue when a grand total of zero black actors were nominated.

However, with all that in mind, it is important to highlight that last year wasn’t a complete down and out. In fact, in terms of indie music, 2016 actually produced some of the best comebacks, new albums and live performances for decades.

So just in time for the beginning of a new year, we’ve counted down the good things to happen in 2016 from an indie music perspective, completed in the spirit of Auld Lang Syne.

1.      Firstly, The 1975 bestowed their ‘difficult second album’ upon the world which propelled the Manchester lads to worldwide critical acclaim and a UK arena tour. The band famously promoted their album with a string of pink neon storyboards of song titles from the tail end of 2015 until its actual release date. From there; they have went from strength to strength; with headline festival slots and sold out performances both in Europe and across the pond in America. They have become quite simply the band of the year with I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it winning the Q award for best album.

2.      The Stone Roses returned with an admittedly underwhelming new song, but that’s not the point; they’re back. The veterans hadn’t released any new music in over twenty years so this was a huge deal for Roses fans and music in general. Their first release ‘All for one’ only has a mere 59 words in it, however, those words are intended to demonstrate the unity they have with each other; a metaphorical ‘water under the bridge’ to the years where they didn’t record or perform together.

The Roses, went on to release a second new track ‘Beautiful thing’ which was met with a higher critical acclaim, however, it was their captivating live performances in Manchester and T in the Park that they would most likely be remembered. In September they released tickets to their UK stadium tour; which predictably sold out in hours and only stands as proof that the desire for lemon tasting music is still as high as it was in 1994 when the boys left us.

3.      The Courteeners finally received the credit they deserve and were awarded with an arena tour for their new album Mapping the rendezvous, which peaked at number four in the official album charts. The lads set every festival they played over the summer alight, and Liam’s famous: “Every single one of ya’s” during Not Nineteen Forever has become somewhat of a cult following in itself.

4.      Blossoms, well, blossomed. Last year the boys’ self entitled album was the best-selling debut album of 2016 and they became a true force to be reckoned with in the music scene. Their lead single ‘Charlemagne’ became an indie classic and the boys can only be excited for what they have set their selves up for this year.

5.      Catfish and the Bottlemen released their second album and subsequently travelled on tour to promote it. The album included the new classics ‘7’ and ‘Soundcheck’; the record also provided the people of Glasgow with an anthem dedicated to their home city; which naturally went down an absolute treat in their gig at the SECC.

6.      Finally, Jake Bugg returned after two years out of the limelight with his third studio album On My One. The Nottingham star brought out singles ‘Gimme the love’ and ‘On my One’ during the summer to a welcomed reception by fans, he also performed at many festivals; including T in the park where he surprised the crowd by bringing out Red Hot Chilli Peppers drummer, Chad Smith, to play Slumville Sunrise.

Follow me on twitter @bdoncook

 

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Apple Music

As you probably know, Apple have recently laid down the gauntlet to Spotify and other music streaming services, with Apple Music. On this app you can download any music you want onto your phone. I don’t know about you, but I jumped at the chance to get my 3 month free trial on this app. What stuck out to me was the fact you could immediately turn off the ‘automatic renewal’ of it, meaning you wouldn’t even have to worry about it in 3 months time, unless you want to continue your membership.

It allows you to explore new music for free, and perhaps even rediscover old artists that you haven’t listened to in a while. This is possible with the ‘For You’ section of it. It also has ready made playlists for activities such as working out, chilling out and even for holidaying. 

There is a  ‘follow’ option, where you can follow and connect with your favourite artists. This means you will see when artists are releasing new content, where to get tickets for their tours, or even simply just see what they have been doing with their day.

For me, Apple Music has allowed me to discover artists that are going to be at a festival I will be attending in August this year, discover other bands/artists of the genres I like, and allowed me to listen more to the sorts of genres I wouldn’t have even considered listening to a few weeks ago. Some of the tracks I have found include:

1. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison

Released: 1967

Possibly being one of Van Morrison’s most well known songs worldwide, this song is an absolute classic. Listening to it is a big nostalgia trip for me, because it’s been in my life since virtually the day I was born.

2. Hollywood (feat. Penguin Prison) – RAC

Released: 2012

This song is new to me, I came across this track listening to the ‘alternative’ radio on apple music. I had never really listened to this before, so hearing this song then made me have a look at the full album, Strangers which was released in 2014. This band are an electronic genre which is something I would never usually listen to, so it was nice to discover something different to listen to.

3. James Bay – If You Ever Want To Be In Love

Released: 2015

James Bay has probably been the Sam Smith of 2015. He has released big hits such as Let it Go and Hold Back the River, and his fanbase is ever increasing. Over the year he has played festivals such as Glastonbury, Radio 1s Big Weekend and even T in the Park.

As for the song, I discovered this track after downloading the full album Chaos and the Calm on Apple Music. Unlike Let it Go which is quite slow and calming, If You Ever Want To Be In Love gives across an almost rock feel. Although this isn’t one of the major tracks off the album, it definitely fits well amongst other tracks included, and in some ways after listening to this album, I believe it could be seen that James Bay has really done something for everyone.

After they released the iPhone, apple knocked many dominant mobile phone companies around at the time completely out of the industry, and they’re now one of the leading mobile phone companies in the world. Will Apple Music do the same? Or is £9.99 a month still too much for people to be paying when it’s available for free if you really want to get it?