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.

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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.