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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Another philosophical one this week, although this one comes with a light-hearted approach. It’s something that will undoubtedly bring up the opposite and get us thinking about dark times when we’ve needed to answer this very question. So, once again I invite you to leave your response in a comment!

What do you find to be the single best reason to continue living another day?

For me, it’s the simple things. Remembering how loved I am by my friends and family. The fact that I have a wonderful boyfriend who I know I’ll spend the rest of my life with. Just reminding myself how lucky I am to have these things in my life helps me realise that life is worth living, even through some really horrible times. Doing this really lifts my mood and makes me realise how truly beautiful life is.

As this question says “the single best reason”, I guess I should stop there but that does not a blog post make. Other little things that make me realise the value of life is knowing that I’m still young and my life has barely begun. Just thinking about all the adventures I’m yet to go on, the milestones I’m yet to reach really blows my mind and makes me excited for the future.

Regular readers of AskAlex will know that I do have very dark days and times where I feel like life is too hard for me. However, remembering my unfulfilled dreams and all those who would miss me if I was gone really helps me see that life is probably one of the best gifts ever given to us. Yes it’s difficult and complicated a lot of the time but we have to counterbalance it with all of the wonderful little things that same life is also filled with.

 

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I can hardly believe that this is the 30th AskAlex. I know I say that at every milestone but it really is amazing how time flies and how much happens in your life. Today will be another downbeat post because once again, I’ve picked a downbeat topic but it does have tinges of light, so stay tuned!

How do you cope with loneliness?

The short answer is that I don’t cope very well. I don’t like being on my own for long periods of time and when I am, I do get very depressed. My lack of motivation in that state means I can never get much work done even when I’ve got lots to do. In fact, long term loneliness is one of my biggest fears and because of this, I do rely on other people to cheer me up a lot of the time.

One way I can deal with it is to read. Being able to open a book and enter a world that isn’t anything like my own stops me being lonely. Suddenly, there are characters next to me and I’m involved in their lives but not immersed in their problems, which often makes me feel so much better. Watching fantasy films and TV shows such as Supernatural and Doctor Who also help with it because they’re so far from reality that I forget my problems for the hour.

I think everyone has different ways of coping it and loneliness is something that affects everyone in different ways. For me, loneliness knocks my self-esteem cause it makes me feel unwanted. I know that that says a lot about my character and the way I feel and therefore, I try my best to stay positive when I’m lonely. I think of all the good things in my life and it does normally cause the negative feelings to pass. Learning to cope with it is important and it’s something that I’m working on every day.

 

marathonepTITLE: Dusk To Dawn
BAND: Marathon
LABEL: Unsigned
RELEASED: November 29th 2013

French trio Marathon are an energetic creative rock outlet whose instrumental talent is undeniable. I’m not the biggest fan of instrumental rock as I love songs that are full of poetic words but I can appreciate when that effort is thrown into the instruments and done well. Fusing rock and electronica with quirky rhythms, Marathon’s new EP Dusk To Dawn is an eclectic mix of sounds.

Beginning with Angels and its rolling drums, it gets off to a promising start. A simple guitar produces resonating feedback as an ethereal vocal drifts over the top. The offbeat rhythm makes it kooky and very trendy, while the vocal dips into a darker tone on the chorus. The bass has a techno feel and it evolves into a lovely atmospheric retro track which is equal parts rock and techno. The repetition really hammers home the atmosphere but I did find myself wishing it would pick up and change a little.

marathonObscene is next and the lyrics are very thin on the ground. Slow staccato plucking introduces the quirky indie style before a thick French accent juts in with “already drunk” intermittently. The song trudges along with scratching guitars and a dark bass. There is a punk influence on the vocals that have a possessed feel. Their talents are exercised at the end with the tricky guitar trips at the end.

Another instrumental led track is Nothing. A running drum, bouncing techno bass and electronic riffs make up the funky rhythm. The tricks and twists within the soundscape are very impressive but the few vocals that are there are shouted, which doesn’t have a particular nice effect. Plenty of moshpit riffs mean that Nothing is again all about the instruments and how well Marathon control them.

Ending on Alright, I felt it is a bit of a weak ending. Quirky fuzzy plucking and calm vocals kick it off as it becomes a nice chill out track. Soft drums and twinkling plucks from the guitar joins the electronic bass. It’s very repetitive and therefore quite dull. Electronic slides towards the end came too little too late for me and I was disappointed that the EP had dragged more and more as it went on.

Dusk To Dawn is great for fans of instrumental electronic rock. Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of instrumental music but I will never pass up Marathon’s talents as musicians. The EP shows their skills off perfectly and they’ve managed to create music that would be lovely background noise. However, there just wasn’t enough depth or story in it for me.

Big Skies is made up of three South Londoners who moved to Berlin and became a high-energy pop-rock band. Meeting a drummer later on completed their band and they went on to write playful melodies and some big hooks. Halo is a song full of impressive riffs and a distinctive vocal that is not dissimilar to that of The Big Pink and The Enemy. If you love epic quirky notes and plenty of energetic instrumentals, Big Skies are definitely a band for you. Watch the Halo video below!

theriflesalbumTITLE: The Hardest Place To Find Me
BAND: The Rifles
LABEL: Cooking Vinyl
RELEASED: November 27th 2013

Londoners The Rifles are no newbies to the scene, as the release of their latest album None The Wiser, which is released on January 20th marks the ten year anniversary since their first live show. With as much experience in the industry as these guys, you can guarantee that the support behind them is huge. They’ve established a sound that is still relevant today and they appear to have evolved with the times. None The Wiser is their fourth album and sees the quartet move from their earlier powerpop sound to a laid-back indie that reflects their coming-of-age and maturity.

The Hardest Place To Find Me begins with a chilled Americana riff and upbeat soft rhythm before the vocals arrive. A simple, gentle melody characterises it as it tells a story of a narrator who is struggling to make sense of who he is and connect with his own heart. Feelings of confusion are at the forefront of the lyrics and this is often common in younger bands. It’s interesting that a band who are so grown up still suffer with these emotions and is actually quite educational to the young listener. It seems to say “Hey kid, you don’t know how you feel? Neither do we”.

theriflesAs it is so easy-to-relate to, it’s a very addictive and uplifting track. Too many indie bands put out pretentious music that moans about trivial things. However The Hardest Place To Find Me is a song with a lot of depth told in a poetic way. With fans such as Oasis and Paul Weller, The Rifles are clearly doing something right! On staying together for so long, singer Joel Stoker says:

“It’s our fanbase that has kept us going, totally. We can still play to like, a couple of thousand people in London, and all around the country. We’re almost like a cult band: to our fans we’re “their” band.”

Have a listen to The Hardest Place To Find Me below!

 

droptheactepTITLE: When The Going Gets Tough
BAND: Drop The Act
LABEL: Unsigned
RELEASED: November 16th 2013

Pennsylvania pop-punk outfit Drop The Act recently sent me their latest EP to review and I was so excited to sink my teeth into it. Prizing high energy over everything, they’re a band who offer their bands something more than classic pop-punk. Harnessing both the light and the dark of human life, their music touches on real emotions and issues that their young audience relates to. Formed in 2012, the five-piece have since been bringing joy at their live shows and through their vlogs where they update their fans on recent shenanigans and gig dates.

When The Going Gets Tough is an EP that is undeniably pop-punk but it doesn’t include the typical content that the genre deals with. Drop The Act are not New Found Glory or Blink 182 impersonators. Singer Matt Priscilla has a very unique voice that translates so well and he brings the beautiful innocence to the sound. It begins with Hometown Zero with rhythmic drums and Matt’s melodic vocals. He isn’t whining like so many pop-punk frontmen do but relating the lyrics in a soulful manner. The melody is catchy and upbeat with the occasional passionate backing chants interjecting. It’s a positive song that really uplifts the listener.

droptheactI’m Not A Gentleman, I’m A Sellout begins with a falling mechanical guitar and strong drums. Matt’s voice gives us the pretty sing-a-long melody on top of the loud drums. It’s youthful and energetic despite being about the breakdown of a relationship. The catchy hook of “cry on, cry on for me” really resonates with you and drives the song as it drifts into the midpoint of the EP.

Tattoos, Gauges and Ripped Jeans is introduced with staccato guitar growls and steady drums. The focus is very much on the vocals and the story they’re telling. A tale of recklessness and being unfaithful to someone just because you’re in the mood is tapping into something that a lot of young, hormone-ridden teens understand, so it really indicates the audience they’re targeting. A tricksy instrumental is the backbone of the music with rumbling riffs and running drum. There are pretty metallic riffs interspersed with it too to give it some light and shade.

My favourite track is Stay Close. It’s very much an up-to-date pop song and the delivery and melody could just as easily be a boyband song. The sentiment behind it is beautiful and it’s clearly a story of true love. The bouncing dark guitar backs a verse about reckless behaviour whilst young but the lyrics then evolve into a wonderful love song that really warms the heart. If you love a bit of gooeyness, I highly recommend giving Stay Close a listen.

In a similar vein is Sunsets And Silhouettes, which is introduced by soft guitar ripples. Matt’s melancholy vocals gently breathe the words of this pretty ballad that has so much emotion poured into it. During the second half, it kicks up a notch when the drums enter and it takes on a catchy melody whilst retaining the feeling. Towards the end is a whining guitar solo which performs tricks as it blasts through the ending of the track which leaves you with a resonating chorus.

Ending on Would You Like To Eat My Candy Paw, it finishes on a fierce note. Grinding metal guitars drive through the beginning and the pop-punk vocals tell tales of breaks from reality and the journey of self-discovery. Halfway through comes electronic bounces from a guitar which are a bit of a curveball to the rest of the EP. Up until now, they’ve come across as a traditional pop-punk band and this is the only glimpse at something else to their sound. Matt’s voice retains its innocent tone and together with the darkness instilled in the instruments, we’re reminded that this beautiful voice is masking a lot of dark thoughts and feelings.

Drop The Act are a pop-punk band who are slightly leaning towards the side of pop. They don’t have that typical nasal vocal or tinny riffs. They swap this for a voice with soul and a darker twist on their guitars. If you love the sound of a slightly more grown-up pop-punk band with the energy and subject matter of teens, Drop The Act are definitely the ones to check out.

I am by no means a guru on any subject but this week’s question really got me thinking and I realised I had quite a lot to say. Obviously everyone’s experiences are different and so I think everyone would have different suggestions and it’s something that we need to consider every now and then in order to improve ourselves as people and partners.

What is something you think everyone should know about being in a relationship?

Being in a long-term relationship can be a rollercoaster. Obviously there are going to be highs and lows but on the whole, it should be fun and comfortable. That is stating the obvious but it’s something that I think some people forget. Repeatedly going back to someone who makes you sad more often than they make you smile is never going to be beneficial to either of you, so see break ups as a blessing and move on with someone better suited.

Hypocrisy is often another flaw in relationships. Never berate your partner for something and then go and do the same thing yourself. Associating with friends outside of the relationship is a common trigger for this and jealousy gets nobody anywhere. Allow your partner the freedom they need and understand that you don’t have to be joined at the hip constantly. If they started getting twitchy when you wanted to socialise with your platonic friends, wouldn’t it get on your nerves?

Another thing I’ve learnt after five years of a relationship is compromise. You’re not always going to agree on everything but finding a healthy balance is so important. Considering the other person’s wants and needs is everything and goes a long way towards both partners’ happiness. It’s all about loving the other person’s quirks and the differences between the two of you as much as what you have in common.

Trust as the basis of the relationship is said by everyone but it really is the key to a lasting romance. If there’s no trust, you’ll end up resenting each other and going crazy trying to keep tabs on them. Just let them breathe, remember that they’ve chosen to be with you and if you really can’t trust them then it’s probably best to call time on the relationship.