Friday, 30 November 2012

Best songs of 2012

We still have month to go (or 21 days if you believe the conspiricists aka nobheads) but I have compiled this list of some of my favourite songs of 2012. Now this is a little bias because it fit's my personal taste. Rest assured there will be no Gangnamming or One Direction fangirling in here, so here we go:


This tune by Californian indie rockers Family of the Year is exceedingly summery. It makes you want to jump up and hop out for a swim on a silk, med beach in the midst of the blazing sunlight. However, on a dank, dull night in the middle of Leicestershire this song sounds equally cheerful, brightening up any murky November night. The band themselves have had very little airplay in the UK meaning a lot of you wont know this tune, however it's a blinder and I'll certainly be looking out for the band on festival bills in 2013.


Love the Killers or not, you cannot doubt the songwriting ability of Brandon Flowers, a genius in a time when songwriting genius' hardly exist in the mainstream world. The lead single from the Las Vegas rockers latest album sticks to Flowers solid basics, very similar to 'Crossfire' off of his solo album, but equally as fantastic. The triumphant feeling to the song embraces you into a love story. A great effort from a band many question, but they still keep banging out some classics. 



Talk about Icelandic musicians and the you talk about Bjork. That was until 2012. A new band from the island famous for volcanic eruptions have emerged from the ash in the shape of 'Of Monsters and Men. Many people will be familiar with their breakthrough hit 'Little Talks' however it was the follow up named Mountain Sound that caught my ear. A folk song very similar to it's predecessor but with better vocals and an anthematic feel to it that will surely be heard a lot more around the UK in 2013. The band head over for a tour early next year, one you may not want to miss. 


And so to the first British artist and who else could I include but the incredible Mr.Bugg. A sensational year for the 18 year old from Nottingham. A number one album with his very first effort, two UK top 40 singles and touring with none other than Noel Gallagher himself, he may need to pinch himself. I could've picked any of the songs of his self titled album but I stuck with the one which has bought him most success 'Two Fingers'. You get the feeling that this guy could be the person to guide us into a new era of music. Let's hope so for the nations sake. 


The next song on the list come's from the Cincinnati four-piece Walk the Moon who enjoyed a productive year in 2012. The song 'Anna Sun' launched the band into mainstream radio fame over in the US, unfortunately like Family of the Year, British radio only seems to be interested in Americans who sing with the aid of autotune and little talent. This upbeat, stompy tune is exciting as well as fun and cleverly put together.


Imagine John Lennon crossed with Kasabian crossed with Pink Floyd and you'll come up with a song as wild as this. It is scarily harrowing how much lead singer Kevin Parker sounds like the late Beatles vocally. 'Elephant' appears from the band's second album Lonerism and is followed by an equally fantastic single named 'Feels Like We Only Go Backwards'. On their recent tour of the UK, the band were said to be overwhelmed by the support they had built on these shores, the culmination of this being them selling out the Brixton Academy in London. With a belter like this you can easily see why.


NME magazine have recently championed new, upcoming bands in an attempt to spread the word. Leading the pack are Palma Violets, Peace and Swim Deep (See next song). Peace from Birmingham have been turning many heads in 2012 with their idiosyncratic style. I could've easily chosen the song 'Follow Baby' to appear on this list but I have plumped with the lead song off of the EP 'Delicious'. Funky, Nirvana-ish and carrying substance, which most alternative British artists lack these days, 'Bloodshake' is a great song. 


As mentioned previously, there is a buzz surrounding several bands in the UK in the minute, mainly through the NME. Swim Deep are one of these bands. Indie? Yes. Revolutionary? Maybe. King City really is an exceptional musical piece. Clever lyrics, fantastic background harmonies, an all round good song oozing influence from Nirvana, is that a bad thing? Not at all. The band have spread their name by touring with the successful Spector and will look to push on in 2013. 


In a world with terrible pop acts filling our charts, it's very easy to write off Florence + The Machine as just another one of the manufactured rubbish. However, the reality couldn't be more different. Florence Welch has once again produced a great indie pop tune with the help of Paul Epworth and Calvin Harris. Let's be honest this song isn't anywhere near era- defining but it is representing the slightly more experimental type of music in a world where it doesn't get a look in. Good on you Flo. 


You can't beat a good, down to earth guitar band straight from the reality of the British streets. It's what made Oasis appealing and it's why people love the Arctic Monkeys. It's real music. No new band of 2012 is anymore real than Stoke rockers All the Young. The problem this band had is that they'd already released three of their best songs from their debut album before its release in 2011. However, lets take nothing away from this band who not enough people know of. 'The Horizon' is an anthem, nothing more, nothing less, full of spirit and emotion, a true gem. 

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

SHIELDS - Kaleidoscope

          Ask for a the name of an artist from Newcastle and the first answer you'll probably get is the talentless disgrace that is Cheryl Cole. Well now, the city has a new band it can be truly proud of in the form of the fantastic Shields. The Synth-pop group released their brilliant debut EP Kaleidoscope this week to many positive reviews and these are fully deserved. From the first hearings of their taking on SBTRKT's Pharaoh's  this band are here to excite and this is exactly what they do. The bands influences include Everything Everything and Metronomy and it's obvious to see their effect in Shields' music.
           The first song taken from Kaleidoscope is called 'Mezzanine', a  pop tune with catchy riffs and excellent vocal harmonies. Music that sticks in your head from the start is usually good music and this is no exception. This song is not too deep, it's fun and it's fresh, features that many new alternative music severely lacks as the indie/alternative revolution tries to gain momentum away from manufactured, x-factor based garbage that we currently have to put up with on our radio stations. While the song itself is a piece of art, the video for the song is also the work of creative geniuses. You can see the video below, believe you me, you'll probably think it's cute as well as amazing to match the song. 

        'Miserly', the second song on the EP is equally as magic vocally and instrumentally as Mezzanine. This song has attitude though and a bit more punch to it and could easily be heard in the early hours of a slowed-down party with it's disco sounds. 'Turning corners', my least favourite song personally on the EP however, it's more a case of the least greatest of the great songs on the record. It's still a brilliant song with an excellent input of piano for many periods of the song. 'Silhouette', a slower song which is a little more serious than the rest of the tracks that can be heard in terms of vocal tones and lyrics. I love it though and again it's a song that is not hard to remember for all of the good reasons. 'Momentum' is the aptly named final track from Kaleidoscope, something that the band are building a lot of. I can see this band making it big, not everybody enjoys big, anthematic, guitar riffs anymore when they look for a new alternative band to like. So if that's you, Shields are great for you. As I earlier said this band is fun and fresh. An exceptional example of what you can achieve with a bit of creativity and a different approach to music. Definetly watch out for SHIELDS in the future.

Follow them on twitter: 



Friday, 2 November 2012

Live: The Cribs

        If you've only just introduced yourself into the mad world that is Cribs fandom, then welcome to the party, you are well overdue. One of the most unappreciated British bands of the 21st century, the brothers from Wakefield this year released their fifth album to fantastic reviews from the media, with many stating them as 'back to their good, old best'.
        The lads rocked up to the fantastic O2 academy in Leicester and treated their raucous, often insane fans to one heck of a show. Cheetahs, a band made up of Americans and a backing guitarist/vocalist from Leicester opened up the bill, to at this stage, a small crowd, however they impressed with some upbeat, feet-stomping, pure rock n roll. Main support act Mazes were next and despite the odd bit of mysterious behaviour from the frontman, such as him falling backwards and almost knocking himself out on an amp, this band also satisfied an audience, so eager for the main show.
        The moment came and as Kiss' famous ballad, 'God gave rock and roll to you' boomed out, the Jarman's walked out to a wall of noise, most of the fans adoring Ryan, who responded by lobbing a half drunk glass of coke into the crowd. Setting the tone with the simple, punkish 'Come On Be A No-One', one of the bands finest moments, not only from their latest album, but also of their 10 year history. Other crowd-pleasers such as 'Our Bovine Public' and 'We Share the Same Skies' got the tempo in the room at almost maximum level. Then a few songs in, a rather comical version of 'Third Outing' was performed by Ryan. The song, a firm favourite from the debut album had it's first live play in years and evidently so. Ryan improvising for the second half of the song, lyrics and chords simultaneously, bought an ounce of humour to the rocking crowd.

        Song's like 'I'm a Realist' and 'Mirror Kisses' are always likely to get any crowd going, Cribs fans or not. A personal favourite on the night was the superb 'Another Number' a song which possibly has the catchiest riff of all time. If you've never listened to it, take my word, it seriously does. Need I say 'Be Safe', was amazing, the American narration just builds up into a huge ball of anger that is released with the momentous chorus that sent the crowd into raptures, many vocal chords would have been damaged at that point, of that I am fairly certain. After Ryan explained that the Cribs dont do encores, that was probably the signal that this was their encore, 'Hey Scenesters', 'Men's Needs' and 'We Were Aborted', firm fans favourites although disappointing that the band left out the marvellous, head-banging 'Don't You Wanna Be Relevant' after taking it to a crowd vote between that and 'We Were Aborted'. 'The Wrong Way to be', the Cribs most underrated tune and the dramatic 'City of Bugs' concluded precedings, not before drummer Ross preceded to stamp on his drums and Ryan conflicted almost fatal damage to the poor microphone. The more subdued brother, Gary stayed calmer to restore some sense of normality to a room transformed into a world of pure Yorkshire Indie/Punk/Garage Rock, whatever you want to call it. An awesome gig, an awesome set of siblings, an awesome crowd and an awesome night out.


Monday, 8 October 2012

Violins and Tambourines

      And so the mighty Stereophonics are back with the first taste of their 8th album. After the lack of commercial mainstream success of their previous album 'Keep Calm and Carry on' the men from the valleys need to hit back hard and this snippet shows that they may be on the right track. Lead singer Kelly Jones has stated now for some time he would like to delve into film production and hence the idea of this album being a concept album, something that maybe different, but as proven by Pink Floyd and to a lesser extent Coldplay, the concept album can be a success. 
      So at 12.15PM on their official twitter feed, the band (or more specifically Kelly) tweeted:
'I've loved film and music ever since I was a kid. Here's an appetiser of film and new music from our 8th album:  KJ x'. 
       So onto the song 'Violins and Tambourines', a very catchy, typical phonics early 2000's riff hits you. Kelly's vocal are very mellowed for his usual booming standards early on in the song, however this kind of strikes you of as a theme song to a film right away. The action scene type instrumental is prototypical of what is wanted from this upcoming album and once again underlines why Kelly Jones is not only one of the most underrated, but also proves he is an extremely intelligent and talented songwriter. Then the final *crash* hits you like a channel cargo ship. Inspiring vocals, crunching lyrics, simply breathtaking. While this song will not gain the Phonics thousands of new fans, it will however cement their place among the great rock bands of the era.
       But what about the 'film' part of this song. Well it fits well with the lyrics and music. It features a man at the start who seems lost in his own mad world before he dives into a pool chased by the woman of his dreams. However, the lady becomes trapped in the water, the music tempo increases, the feeling is embraced, next though we go back to man on dry land murdering a poor person. The video shows us that we may have to wait until we see some more action from the band to understand it, however, this is not a bad return from a band who have a point to prove!

Check out the song below: 

Song rating: 7.5/10

Thursday, 27 September 2012


       For fans of Vampire Weekend or foals. There's a new band on the bill and they're more local than you thought. Their musical style doesn't reflect a band from the centre of Birmingham. But they are. As a guardian journalist wrote, it's 'as though Wu Lyf's frontman had suddenly hijacked Vampire Weekend'. Alternative is not a label, it's a true fact about this band.

      On the 9th September they released the fantastic extended play named Delicious, funnily enough if this band were a food, delicious would be a good adjective to describe them by. The first of the four tracks on the EP is Ocean's Eye, which involves a gentle verse with the delicate tones from Harrison Koisser being backed up by the industrious instrument playing before launching into the almost ballad like chorus in comparison to the rest of their music. Next comes the remastered Bloodshake, a song that early fans of the band will know as 'Bblood'. Personally I enjoy the tribal sounding drumming in this song, as well as the fascinating lyrics with the main chorus lines of 'We spit blood at the sun, we spit blood in ocean. This song holds a fair bit of emotion in which you can enravell yourself into after a few listens and start to understand the sheer brilliance of what this band are about. California Daze again holds a lot of emotion within vocals, bass and lyrics. This is before it launches into a relaxing, funky sound as the song evolves. ''Forget and forgive there's a place you can live' is a truly spine-tingling line in the context of this masterpiece. Finally 1998 (Delicious), a 9 minute epic, 'an interesting take on a trance classic' says a BBC 6Radio presenter. This classic being Binary Finary's 1998. Now in all lazy honesty, I've only became familiar of this original through Peace, but hey I'm not complaining, not a song to liven you up in the morning, but that's not what this band aim to do. 

      With the decline of any sort of guitar music being in the mainstream in modern culture, something needs to happen. I'm not saying this band are the answer as screaming, brainwashed 12 year old girls will rather listen to specially written pop trash from 5 chino w******. However, this band can be part of a rebellion. Sticking two fingers up to the majority, maybe, just maybe this band can be part of the indie revolution. Give them a listen and see what your mind tells you...

Free Download of California Daze:

Most like: Vampire Weekend, Foals, WU LYF

Friday, 14 September 2012

Noel Gallagher in Nottingham 10/09/2012

       As I walked out of the Capital FM arena on Monday night a man, who had clearly sampled the venues alcoholic drinks many times throughout the night, thrust his arms around me and said "That was f*cking incredible". He was most certainly correct. Despite being a massive fan of Noel I was slightly disappointed after the gig I had previously seen him at this year at the NIA. The Oasis legend seemed not quite at his magnificent best and this was matched by the reaction of the crowd. However there were no problems this time around.
       Support came in the shape of old Blur foe Graham Coxon. Clearly some of the past times had been forgotten between Noel and the Axeman from Colchester. However, this wasn't transferred into the crowd. Only a handful of the capacity seemed to enjoy Mr Coxon, who tore away heavily and energetically at his guitar but as often said, he never quite mastered the frontman role usually taken by Damon Albarn. As well as this the sound in the arena was atrocious, leaving me fairly concerned that this would occur for the Noel.

       And so to the main man himself, cheered onto the stage by the raucous crowd, he soon sprung into the now synonymous opening number of 'It's good to be free'. The first really spine-tingling moment of the night came next though with 'Everybody's on the run', the line "You can't fight the feeeeeeeeeeeeeling" is a personal favourite from the album and really gets the crowd going live. That mixed with the impressive Crouch End chorus choir led to a real spectacle with the choir being fantastic all night. Crowd favourites from the new album proved to be 'If I had a gun' and 'What a life' with the former getting a massive singalong, another pair of classic songs produced by the Chief. It was also fantastic to hear some old Oasis favourites as well 'D'yer wanna be a spaceman' especially. By the time the encore came around the place was in raptures and the final pair of songs, arguably Noel's most well known of his own vocals, 'little by little' and 'Dont look back in anger' almost blew the roof off with everybody singing along, arms aloft. The banter Noel had with the now notorious man with the hat also added to the brilliance of the night, which overall was fantastic. Mr Gallagher, you are a genius.

Setlist: (Its good) To be free, Everybody's on the Run, Dream On, If I Had a Gun, The Good Rebel, The Death of You and Me, Freaky Teeth, Supersonic, D'yer Wanna be a Spaceman, Record Machine, What a Life, Talk Tonight, Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks, Broken Arrow, Half the World Away, (Stranded on) The Wrong Beach, Let the Lord Shine a Light on Me, Whatever, Little by Little, Dont Look Back in Anger.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Heartbreaks

      This week The Heartbreaks have released their latest single called Polly. It is at this stage I see as appropriate to review this stunning band from the western reaches of Lancashire in the seaside town of Morecambe.
          The four piece indie band were formed in 2009 consisting of vocalist Matthew Whitehouse, lead guitarist Ryan Wallace, bassist Chris Deakin and drummer Joseph Kondras. With the look of the Smiths and a familiar indie pop sound this band are very easy to listen to and also display a high level of energy in their music, something distinctly lacking in modern British Indie music, take the Vaccines and Spector for example. The band are something of a household name when it comes to supporting more well known bands and you may have caught them supporting Hurts, Carl Barat, the View and Morrissey, who is said to be a very big fan.
        After releasing several EP's the band finally released their debut album Fun Times on May 7th of this year. The album is based around stories of their home town, something that works well in debut albums, as seen famously in the Stereophonics debut album; 'Word Gets Around'. This is embodied in the first verse of the first track on the album Liar, My Dear:  'the rainfall in Morecambe embitters me, it fucks my hair and stings my cheeks'. In the business this would be known as keeping it real. My favourite song on the album is the extremely catchy track Delay, Delay. Fast and enthusiastic this song is very friendly on the ears and the mind and deserves to be the lead single on the album. Many bands have been accused of creating many 'filler' songs for albums, no such problems here, each of the ten songs included on the album are incredibly well written and performed by the band and you get the indication that they know what they're doing when it comes to producing high-quality tunes. And then we come to the latest single Polly. A frustrated local love story, probably, a brilliant song, most definetly. If there was any justice in the world, this band would be huge. But as we know musical talent doesn't get recognised as much this day and age. Had this of been 2002, when the indie music boom occurred, this album would've received a lot more attention. It is the sort of album to restore your pride that excellent bands are still out there when it comes to producing guitar music. For now, I'm sure the people of Morecambe are very proud to have their own hometown band flying the flag for them, as I'm sure the band are vice-versa. The Heartbreaks are definetly a band for the future.

Tracks to download: Polly, Delay Delay, Save Our Souls