Advertisements

Archive

Monthly Archives: July 2012

I’m currently getting ridiculously excited about a certain release, which is on the horizon. Dan’s band Playground, who I have whored on this blog before, are getting closer to releasing their first EP. It’s titled Worse Things Happen and will feature five tracks, Outrun, Creepy Creeper, Worse Things Happen At Sea, Storyteller and Leeroy. They will also be releasing a single called Devils with a B-side, Too Tired.

Obviously I have the personal connection to them and will religiously declare my love for them but they are building up a fanbase locally and indeed, gaining the support of other upcoming bands they’ve played with. They have now reached the semi finals of Surface Festival and will be playing at The O2 Academy in Islington, in order to make it through to the regional showcase.

Here’s the teaser, which was unleashed tonight and I’ll be reviewing the full EP, when it becomes available!

Playground would appreciate it if you could text “South 5170” to 64343 for just £1 a message (UK only). It would help them get through their semi-final of Surface Festival and into the regional showcase, which for a very new band would be a massive achievement. Like them at www.facebook.com/playusloud, tweet them your love at www.twitter.com/playusloud and listen to them live at http://www.youtube.com/playusloud !

Advertisements

After seeing them live a couple of weeks ago and being head over heels in love with their new EP We’ve Come Too Far To Live In The Past, I was incredibly excited to get to ask Hearts Under Fire a few questions. They’ve just finished a mini tour of the UK playing in Liverpool, Wickerman Festival in Scotland and Redfest on their home soil in Surrey, as well as the London show I went to but like the complete fangirl I am, I sent them an e-mail and they were more than happy to talk to me. Four down-to-earth girls, who are living their dream, make up the best alternative girlband around -Hearts Under Fire…

How did the band start?

Lexi: The band started in my bedroom a long time ago, around 2004/2005. We just wanted to play music we loved.

Who are your musical influences?

Lexi: For this band, it would be Alkaline Trio.
Kat: Blink-182, The Barbs, The Fight, Jimmy Eat World, Sum 41, AFI, Motörhead , Sweet Morning Oblivion, so many more.
Nicky: The Gaslight Anthem, Springsteen, Alkaline Trio, Green Day -just to name a couple.
Mary: Prince, Every Time I Die, I Am The Avalanche, Living With Lions, Iron Chic, Judy Garland. Pretty much everything I’ve ever listened to has influenced me in some way.

What’s your favourite track from the new EP and why?

Lexi: Blindfolds – I love everything about it.
Kat: Really hard. I guess You Are: Convenience as it’s the most fun to play live cos its really FAST.
Nicky: I would agree that’s my favourite to play live. I think my overall favourite is Mark My Words as it’s a bit different to what we normally do and I love the melodies and harmonies.
Mary: I like We’ve Come Too Far To Live In The Past because it has a lot of meaning behind it and I feel that the chorus is very uplifting.

What has been the biggest achievement as a band to date?

Lexi: Playing Download & Sonisphere 2010.
Kat: Recording and releasing this EP. Playing Islington Academy was great, as I’ve seen some of my favourite bands like Spinnerette and Paramore play that stage. Wickerman Festival was my first proper festival. Our biggest achievements are still to come.
Nicky: I think Download was the one for me but in our current line up Islington Academy, ridiculous tour bus and a sick new EP!
Mary: I’d have to say Download. Playing a festival that is a lot of people’s dream and we got to do it.

Are there any other upcoming bands we should check out?

Lexi: I’m sure you’ve all heard of them already -Deaf Havana. Also, a band called Legend In Japan we played with them the other day & they were siiiick.
Kat: Grim Dylan, Maid of Ace, ISPYSTRANGERS, Sweet Morning Oblivion.
Nicky: Real Adventures, Circles.
Mary: All of the above haha.

Do you still get scared before a show?

Lexi: I always get a hype.
Kat: Each and every time. I’m secretly a cowardy pants when it comes to shows. I shake with nerves like a tiny frightened dog. I think that if you ever stop getting nervous before you play there is something wrong.
Nicky: Yes, all the time. I agree if you dont feel nervous you’re too comfortable.
Mary: Definitely. I feel you need the nerves to play a good show. That’s what gives you the adrenaline to go out and play and awesome show.

How many tattoos do you have collectively?

Lexi: Too many and probably too lazy to count. A lot.
Kat: I have 7.
Nicky: I have 7.
Mary: I have 12.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in HUF?

Lexi: I expect I’d be playing drums somewhere.. anywhere. But I have always wanted to join the circus!
Kat: I would still be playing in another band and doing music. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. At the careers guidance session when I was 15, the lady asked me what I wanted to do, and I said to play in my band and go on tour. She dismissed it and made me take a test which said my ideal job would be a dog groomer… I don’t like dogs. I feel that out of all the bands I’ve been in over the years that I’ve finally found a place where I fit perfectly. Mary, Nicky and Lexi are SO dedicated and passionate. We work really hard as a team and all share the same dream and goals. I’m very lucky that they decided to have me in their band. There is no drama, no selfish behavior, no drugs and no bullshit.
Nicky: I like to think I would be doing something in music. It’s all I’ve ever wanted, since I was 13 years old and first listened to a cassette tape of Green Day’s ‘Warning’. So I think in one way or another, I would have followed music but nothing would compare to being in this band. The only other thing ironically that I do like is animals. I may have taken Kat’s dog grooming job!
Mary: I don’t think I’d be doing much hahaha. If anything I think I’d be studying English Lit somewhere. It’s my second love but I wouldn’t have the life I have now, I wouldn’t have the friends I have or the life experiences. I’d be a completely different person.

And with that, I look forward to more releases from the band, their next London show and to catching up with them again!

TITLE: Power and Control
BAND: Marina and the Diamonds
LABEL: 679 Records
RELEASED: July 23rd 2012

It would appear everyone has jumped on the Fifty Shades of Grey bandwagon. The Welsh singer released her new single from the hit album Electra Heart and it’s incredibly seductive with a dance beat to back it up. It’s not as strong as her biggest hits but it’s still a good toe-tapping tune.

Electra Heart reached number one in the UK album chart and rave reviews from critics. With a trendy, pop sound, it’s an album that will appear to everyone. From what I’ve heard of it, Power and Control isn’t the best track on it and is a bit too Lady Gaga for Marina.

The song sees Marina take on the role of female dominant and at a time where everyone is Christian Grey mad, the video makes everyone sit up and watch. Power and control are clearly the two main notions and the track in fact takes it beyond the sexual aspect and into the gender roles within the relationship. It’s incredibly empowering to watch a young woman control her lover and belittle him with lyrics such as “you may be good looking but you’re not a piece of art”.

It’s quirky, dark and incredibly naughty but Marina’s voice takes on a slight hip-hop tone. A lot more originality could have been thrown in because it could just as easily be a Gaga or even a Katy Perry track. No doubt about the fact the chorus will stick around your ears for a while but it’s nothing new. For anyone still reeling from the literary craze, the video will be a great watch!

TITLE: Come Together
BAND: Arctic Monkeys
LABEL: Sony
RELEASED: July 27th 2012

If, like the rest of the world, you watched the Olympic opening ceremony here in London last night, then you’ll probably have seen Arctic Monkeys’ cover of The Beatles classic Come Together. A rather spectacular night all round and with the Monkeys showcasing the very best of British indie and paying tribute to possibly the most famous British rock band ever.

The band have now finished their run of shows in the US with The Black Keys and are now working on their next album. The Record Store Day release of R U Mine? and Electricity are glimpses of what’s to come and we can expect a bit more of the dark, mysterious retro sound. To return to home soil at an event as monumentous as the Olympics was always going to be a big ask but as experienced showmen, Arctic Monkeys came back and put on a hell of a show.

A brooding bassline and resonating vocals from the band saw a modern version of the track take shape. With lights down and an eerie cobalt blue surrounding the stadium, the performance carried a simple but somehow haunting aura. Alex Turner has a voice that bounces off the ear and you really register the meaning of each word.

Clearly, the song was chosen as a classic British song about unity and the meeting of 60s rock ‘n’ roll and its contemporary counterpart. The Olympic Games are about coming together to celebrate sport and as the ceremony demonstrated, it was a union of music and culture too. The spiritual element of the angels was a nod to the strength and power of Olympians and indeed, the whole performance was incredibly well directed.

Live streams of the performance have largely been taken down from the internet due to copyright infringement but I have managed to find a grainy, poor quality recording.

Luckily, the band did record a studio version of the track, which you can listen to here.

TITLE: Run Right Back
BAND: The Black Keys
LABEL: Nonesuch
RELEASED: July 23rd 2012

Originally released as the B-side to the album’s first single Lonely Boy, Run Right Back is another sleek retro single from the Ohio duo, whose last single Dead and Gone was reviewed a few months ago. Taken from the same album El Camino, which has seen huge success since its release in December. 1950s/60s America seems to be a popular musical trend at the moment and with an album centred around it, it’s no wonder recent Black Keys material has seen a lot of radio airplay.

A whining guitar introduces the smokey tones and underlying bass with the catchy chorus preceding the drawling riff, which becomes a recurring motif. You can just see the girls with their beehives and mini-skirts jiving to it in some backstreet American bar. No, it’s not a lot different from the last single but that’s because the whole album is set very much in this time period.

Going back to the 50s could be considered a pretty hipster thing to do but The Black Keys are simply taking the label of indie which they’ve somehow acquired, turned it around and sent it back where it came from. This is a band who want to do something new with every album, meaning creativity is constantly flowing. In a world where we have so much to complain about, why not travel back to a time when everything could be solved with a little boogie?

Steady rhythms and blues influences power the song through time and space into the 21st century and as a mark of its journey, it’s got elements of every era in between. It’s one of those tracks that you just instantly love, due to its ability to make you smile from the get-go. A simple song of love and being addicted to a lover, whether they’re good for us or not, is something we can all relate to.

Minimalism is something The Black Keys have always done well and indeed, they’ve gained their big breakthrough tracks through simplicity and arty deliverance. Run Right Back is no exception to this rule and it’s another hit for them.

So, ideastap.com relaunched their brief The Columnist this week and the following article is my pitch for it. Tell me what you think!

One literary trend that has survived through centuries is that of the romance and namely, the romantic hero. From chivalry to selflessness, these men had it all and in turn, their actions have driven silly women like me to fashion warped ideas of how a man should be. These men have always been troubled, haunted by their pasts and in need of a strong, resilient woman to tame them. However, we have now reached the stage where we’re saying goodbye to the Darcys and Heathcliffs of old and hello to a new kind of Byronic hero. A kind with demons and desires on a whole new level. We have now entered the age of the dangerous lovers.

Turning over the new bestseller, adorned with smart grey neckwear, the blurb read:

“When literature student Anastasia Steele interviews successful entrepreneur Christian Grey, she finds him very attractive and deeply intimidating… Ana discovers more about her own desires and the dark secrets Grey keeps hidden away”.

At this point, I was a final year literature student myself, looking for a new romantic novel that didn’t venture into supernatural ridiculousness. Had I known beforehand that the Fifty Shades series had Twilight fan-fiction origins, I probably would never have picked it up but I admit that the hundred or so words on the back sold it to me.

At first, Ana seemed like a nice girl and what’s more, relatable. In fact, I liked her enough to ignore the badly written text and excessive use of words such as “wayward”. Enter Christian Grey, a beautiful Adonis, whose perfection began to worry me.  I was sure I’d read a similar description about a teenage vampire, two years ago and my heart sank.

As Christian’s “dark secrets” emerged and the book launched into a BDSM manual, the reason the trilogy has been rocking horny female worlds came to me. Yes, it is outrageously sexy but in all honesty, I think a degree of coherent realism has been sacrificed in order to achieve it. Maybe I’m wrong and Ana really is so consumed by this man to consider signing herself away to his complete control but earlier foundations set her up to be a feisty young woman, who I wouldn’t imagine to crumble so easily. Gone is the virginal student and almost instantly, she becomes a quivering sexual slave. Call me a loveless cynic but is anyone really that perfect and powerful? Oh, wait… isn’t Edward Cullen?

Of course, Hollywood have leapt on it already and speculation about the obligatory film of Fifty Shades is already circulating. Emma Watson is the new favourite to play Ana with Alexander Skarsgard, Alex Pettyfer and Ian Somerholder all linked to the role of Christian. Of course, it will have to be a bevy of gorgeous people indulging in the raw filth that has graced the pages. In fact, the ingredients for both a dressed-up-but-still-definitely-a-porno and the classic “Oh, but I want more from this perfect man” are there, so there’s no telling which version will dominate.

One thing that has to be handed to Ms E.L James, as it does to Stephenie Meyer, is that she has managed to create a mass literary frenzy, despite being no Jane Austen herself. For creative writing students, who have studied the do’s and don’ts, it’s devastating news but fall in love with a vampire or controlling businessman and you might just get over it. Not that any real-life, self-respecting young woman would. It’s all just a mad fantasy, right?

TITLE: Unity
BAND: Shinedown
LABEL: Atlantic
RELEASED: July 23rd 2012

Anyone remember the massive hit Second Chance back in 2008? Shinedown’s subsequent efforts haven’t had as much mainstream success but they released a new album Amaryllis in March. Unity is the second song to be set free from the record and it’s a great rock anthem.

The Florida band have a slight Nickelback to their sound with a little more edge. A classic rock sound and an image which places them firmly in the alternative genre, Shinedown really don’t get the credit they deserve. Maybe there is an 80s Bon Jovi feel to them but their melodic rock is certainly very much in the present.

After donating their track I’m Alive, which is also on Amaryllis. to the soundtrack of this summer’s box office smash The Avengers, the release of Unity is the band getting back to them. A gentle chime begins the song, which is quickly joined by the metallic guitars and then the vocal layer enters with a catchy chorus and Dave Grohl style melody from Brent Smith. Screaming guitar solos accompanied by the ever-present chime and a drum heartbeat make it a song that you’ll be singing long after it’s ended.

The title suggests that the song is about sticking together and powering through the dark times and indeed, the spoken word prologue- “We will not fall because we have each other. We will not fall because we are brothers. We will not fall because we have love. We will not fall because we will rise above” are clearly lines written by a band who grit their teeth in the face of adversity and simply play a good show. Having had a few line-up changes and not as much recognition as they’d like, it’s sincere and poignant. As a spoken intro to the song, it’s left hanging for the entirety of the song and it’s a message that certainly sinks in. Shinedown are a unity who will not be beaten.

If you love tough, rock ballads, then you’ll be a Shinedown fan. They’ve been described as heavy metal in the past but there’s no growling or screaming going on here, just rolling guitars and gentle, passionate vocals.