The Best albums of 2019 (so far)

-We’re about halfway through the year now, and already we have had a lot of amazing albums. Here are my faves from 2019 so far (in no particular order)

Little Simz – Grey Area 

Grey Area is one of the most focused, brilliantly produced albums I’ve heard in a long time, never mind this year. Simz brings the sharpest wit and brilliant delivery throughout every track. This will be VERY hard to beat this year.

Self Esteem – Compliments Please 

Rebecca Lucy Taylor previously of Slow Club comes through with banger after banger on her debut solo effort, with unapologetic, honest lyrics paired with great melody, harmonies and production.

The Japanese House – Good At Falling 

Slick, groove-filled indie-pop bangers are the flavour of the day from Amber Bain on this polished, thoughtful album with introspective lyrics about a tough breakup, with each track telling a personal story.

Vampire Weekend – Father Of The Bride 

The New York outfit return after far too long with a vibrant, summery album with features from the likes of Danielle from Haim and Steve Lacy. Good to know that they haven’t lost it after the big break, with tracks like Harmony Hall and Sunflower being amongst their most memorable to date.

Lizzo – Cuz I Love You 

There was a lot of hype and anticipation for Lizzo’s debut album with killer singles  ‘Juice’ and ‘Boys’ leading up to its release. She delivered on the hype and then some, delivering one of the strongest debuts of the year.

Mark Ronson – Late Night Feelings 

Mark’s last album, 2015’s jubilant and funky ‘Uptown Special’ was his most successful to date, and I was wondering what he would do to follow it up. According to Mark, ‘Late Night Feelings’ is an album of ‘Sad Bangers’, and it’s hard to argue with him honestly, with killer collabs with Camila Cabello, King Princess, Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys all bringing the sad party vibes.

Tyler, The Creator – IGOR 

IGOR is Tyler’s best album to date; Introspective, cohesive and creatively produced with heartfelt tracks over some great beats and carefully selected and curated features that all actually bring their own energy to their respective tracks.

Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? 

Perhaps the most anticipated debut of the year, Billie pulled through on ‘When We All Fall Asleep…’ with a brilliant, creative, dark pop album.

Ariana Grande – Thank U, Next 

Coming less than a year after her last album, I wasn’t expecting too much from Thank U, Next, but this is Ariana’s best album to date and perfectly encapsulates the year she has had.

James Blake – Assume Form 

‘Assume Form’ is a brilliantly written and produced, introspective record from James, with his most solid collection on tunes to date and some great features.

Sigrid – Sucker Punch

A shining, soaring debut album from Sigrid who delivers pop banger after pop banger with really strong vocal performances throughout. A new pop star with real personality and talent.

Slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain 

One of the most poignant albums of the year also manages to be one of the most unique albums, with Slowthai’s personality shining through on every track with ‘Nothing Great About Britain’ being amazingly produced with sharp and witty bars equally balanced with poetic, story telling verses.

Anderson.Paak – Ventura 

Continuing his run of great projects, Anderson followed up the amazing ‘Oxnard’ with the equally great ‘Ventura’, with great features from the likes of Andre 3000 and Smokey Robinson, Anderson still manages to shine through and continue to be on the top of his game.

Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising 

‘Titanic Rising’ may be the prettiest sounding album of the year so far, with every track being produced beautifully and Natalie’s vocals sounding otherworldly all the way through the album.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Who to watch at Tramlines 2019

Tramlines 2019 is just over a week away, and a wide variety of acts are going to be hitting Hillsborough Park in Sheffield on 19th-21st July! Here are my Top 5 picks for each day of the weekend.

Friday

Manic Street Preachers – 6:30pm, Main Stage

The Iconic Welsh band will bring their anthemic indie classics to the Main Stage on Friday Evening. Not to be missed.

Two Door Cinema Club – 8:15pm, Main Stage

The Northern Irish Indie icons will be headlining the Friday night of Tramlines, bringing tracks from their latest album ‘False Alarm’ alongside their biggest hits to Hillsborough Park.

The Seamonsters – 4:15pm, Leadmill Stage

The Seamonsters are one of the fastest rising bands in Sheffield at the moment, and will surely rise up the Tramlines line-up in years to come, so catch them here while you can.

Circa Waves – 5:15pm, Main Stage

Circa Waves will being their summery brand of indie rock to the Tramlines Main Stage on Friday evening.

The Futureheads – 8pm, Leadmill Stage

Sunderland legends The Futureheads are back! Catch them closing the Leadmill Stage on Friday with their punky, riff-filled set.

Saturday

Miles Kane – 4:30pm, Main Stage

One half of The Last Shadow Puppets and an Indie icon in his own right, Miles will be hitting the Main Stage on Saturday afternoon.

Reverend and the Makers – 5:45pm, Main Stage

Reverend and The Makers are Sheffield legends at this point. Their Tramlines set last year was pure madness and drew an enormous crowd, expect more of the same this year.

Johnny Marr – 7pm, Main Stage

It’s Johnny Fuckin Marr.

Anteros – 2:30pm, T’Other Stage

Upcoming indie-pop four piece Anteros recently released their debut album ‘When we Land’ and will be bringing it’s anthemic indie bops to T’other Stage on Saturday Afternoon/

The Japanese House – 7:15pm, Library Stage

A set filled with smooth, groovy indie pop is what to expect from The Japanese House, closing the Library Stage on Saturday night.

Sunday

Happy Mondays – 1:30pm, Main Stage

90s Icons Happy Mondays will be taking to the Main stage as special guests on Sunday afternoon.

Lewis Capaldi – 4:45pm, Main Stage

One of the biggest names in Pop right now, Lewis will be bringing his ballads and bops to the Main Stage on Sunday afternoon.

Doves – 7:45pm, T’Other Stage

Another indie reunion comes from Doves, who will be headlining T’Other stage on Sunday night.

Guest Singer – 2:45pm, Library Stage

Jake Cope aka Guest Singer is a real rising name in indie pop, and will bring his polished tunes to the Library stage on Sunday afternoon.

Nile Rodgers & Chic – 7:45pm, Main Stage

Nile Rodgers has potentially played on more hit songs than anybody else in history so this is not a set to be missed, with Nile and Chic bringing the weekend to a close in style.

 

 

 

Venue Talk: Orla Gartland on Vicar Street, Dublin

I spoke to Orla Gartland about her fave live music venue, and she chose Vicar Street in Dublin. Check out her latest single ‘Why Am I Like This?’ below, and then keep reading to find out about Vicar Street.

Why is Vicar Street your favourite?

“It’s the perfect room – wide and not long, big enough to feel exciting, small enough to feel intimate.” “As well as music they host a lot of comedians & podcast events – it’s a really versatile space.”

Have you ever played there before?

“Not yet but I will next month!”                                                                                                    “I’ll be supporting my friend dodie there on Paddy’s day (!) and the day after, so 17th & 18th. I’m so excited to finally get up on that stage & also to bring the band ‘round my city after the show.”

Who else have you seen there?

“Wallis Bird, Villagers, Hudson Taylor, Glen Hansard, Lisa Hannigan. Also the live show for a podcast called ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno’ – which everyone needs to listen to.”

Vicar Street Facts

  • The Venue Opened in 1998
  • Acts such as Bob Dylan, Lana Del Rey, Bombay Bicycle Club, Ed Sheeran and First Aid Kit have all played at Vicar Street in the past.
  • Erasure and Neil Young have recorded live material from Vicar Street.
  • The venue has upcoming shows from dodie with Orla Gartland, Sharon Van Etten and Stereolab.

Go to Vicar Street’s website for all info on the venue, and check out Orla on Twitter and Instagram.

Info and tickets for all of Orla’s upcoming shows are here.

Venue Talk: Polo on Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

I spoke to Leeds based trio Doe about their favourite live venue, which is Leeds’ Brudenell Social Club. They recently released catchy new single ‘On My End’; read why they like the Brudenell so much below!

Why do you like it so much?

Intimate, pretension free atmosphere with the best sound, the best selection of up and coming music and a great selection of beer.  Always has a friendly and engaged crowd, and its universally considered one of the best venues in the country. 

Have you ever played there?

Yes, we’ve played there a few times, always a treat. Leeds is our home town and we’ve had the chance to support some incredible bands there, plus host a few of our own shows. There is a new, second room there now too, which sounds just about as good. Although you can’t beat the Brudenell main room…
Who else have you seen there?
We have seen a great selection of bands there, a few of our favourites being Porches, Japanese Breakfast, Mitski and Big Thief.
 

Facts About The Brudenell:

  • The Social club was established December 8th, 1913
  • Kaiser Chiefs, Franz Ferdinand, The Cribs, Four Tet and The Fall have all played at the Social Club.
  • It is a community ‘non profitmaking’ venue, that holds charitable status.
  • Photography, Film and even Origami groups meet up at the Brudenell.

The Social Club have upcoming shows from Andy Burrows, Queen Zee, Doe, She Drew The Gun and The Orielles. Visit http://www.brudenellsocialclub.co.uk/whats-on to see all of their upcoming events!

Best Music Videos of 2018

2018 was another great year for music videos. Here are my favourites from the past 12 months (In alphabetical order)

Anderson Paak – Bubblin

A funny, well directed video set to the stand-out track from Anderson’s ‘Oxnard’ album shows what could happen if you find a broken cash machine.

Ariana Grande – God Is A Woman

Ariana’s ‘Sweetener’ was one of the best pop albums of the year, and the video for ‘God Is A Woman’ is one of the most visually stunning of the year.

Ariana Grande – No Tears Left To Cry

The video for ‘No Tears’ encapsulates the carefree message of the song perfectly, and helped to set the mood for Ariana’s comeback.

A$AP Rocky – A$AP Forever

The video for A$AP Forever is full of simple, but effective visual effects that pair with the Moby sampling track perfectly.

Billie Eilish – When The Party’s Over

Another example of simple but effective is this video for Billie Eilish’s ‘When the Party’s Over’ – with the black goop providing stunning imagery.

Blossoms – There’s A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls)

The Stockport lads bring ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ esque antics to Japan in this video, and crack out some great dance moves along the way.

Charli XCX & Troye Sivan – 1999

Charli and Troye take it back in this funny 90’s homage backed with one of the catchiest pop tracks of the year.

Childish Gambino – This Is America

One of the most instantly iconic videos of the year, ‘This is America’ is Donald Glover at his best.

Christine and The Queens – Girlfriend

Christine is back with this slick, well directed video with an effortless looking dance routine.

Father John Misty – Mr.Tillman

Mr.Tillman himself stars in this surreal, hilarious video for the best track from his latest album.

Gorillaz – Humility

A fun, summery video starring Jack Black perfectly fits the happy, inspirational ‘Humility’.

The Internet – Roll (Burbank Funk)

A simple, but well shot, smooth and groovy video for ‘Roll (Burbank Funk) fits it perfectly.

Janelle Monae – Make Me Feel

One of the best videos by a mile this year, Janelle at her best is bursting with creativity and talent.

Kali Uchis – After The Storm ft. Tyler, The Creator

A brilliantly creative, bizarre video starring Kali and Tyler makes the great ‘After The Storm’ even more memorable.

Kero Kero Bonito – Only Acting

Kero Kero Bonito usually have really creative videos, and this is no different, with its home video quality adding to the concept.

Little Simz – Offence

This snappy, nicely shot video for ‘Offence’ really captures Simz’ personality, and fits the song perfectly.

The Orielles – Blue Suitcase (Disco Wrist)

Northern Soul dancing aplenty in the video to one of the Grooviest tracks of the year™

Panic! At The Disco – High Hopes

Brendon Urie walks up a Skyscraper.

Troye Sivan – Dance To This ft. Ariana Grande

Troye and Ariana bring great outfits and show off their chemistry to this simple but lovely video.

Twenty One Pilots – Jumpsuit

A song as dramatic and tense as Jumpsuit already sounded like it was should a movie, and this video brings that level of production to it.

Tyler, The Creator ft. Kali Uchis – See You Again

Tyler and Kali strike again with a visually stunning video for ‘See You Again’.

The 1975- It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)

This is basically Matty starring in a short film, and shows just how creative the 1975 are being at the moment.

The 25 Best of Albums 2018

25. Hayley Kiyoko – Expectations

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The debut album from Hayley was one of the strongest pop releases of the year – with consistently good tracks and a really coherent, flowing tracklist and clean, shimmery production.

24. Spring King – A Better Life

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Sadly now confirmed to be the last Spring King album, A Better Life is more of what made their first record great but with amped up production and more variety and experience in the songwriting, making for a great indie-rock record.

23. Chvrches – Love Is Dead

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Now on their 3rd album, Chvrches returned with their poppiest album yet, showing they can still knock out some really strong synth-pop bangers with strong melodies and catchy hooks.

22. Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really FeelImage result for courtney barnett - tell me how you really feel

Courtney again proves herself to be one of the best singer-songwriters in the world (definitely the best in Australia) with this album, with witty poignant tracks and great guitar hooks abundant.

21. Panic! At The Disco – Pray For The Wicked

Image result for panic at the disco - pray for the wicked cover

Brendon Urie and co returned with an album full of massive hits with a big band flavour; brass and strings aplenty make this album feel like the biggest production they have ever had. The album almost sounds like a greatest hits collection with the amount of big singles on show.

20. MGMT – Little Dark Age

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The title track was one of the best songs to come out of 2017, and the rest of the album followed suit; quirky synth-pop tunes with lots of character and great melodies make this one of the catchiest albums of the year, and the relatable and relevant lyrics make it a great project, and revitalised MGMT.

19. Father John Misty – God’s Favourite Customer

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Following on from last year’s Pure Comedy was always going to be difficult, and while GFC doesn’t quite match up to the conceptual heights of the last album, this is still a brilliant collection of moody, witty tracks with the likes of Mr.Tillman showing Josh’s songwriting at its very best.

18. Brockhampton – iridescence 

Image result for brockhampton iridescence

One of the strongest rap albums of the year, iridescence shows that Brockhampton are here to stay and really aren’t messing around. A varied but still coherent project that showcases all of the members of the best boyband on the planet.

17. Nick J D Hodgson – Tell Your Friends

Image result for Nick J D Hodgson - Tell Your Friends

The debut solo project from Ex-Kaiser Chief Nick is a brilliant first effort with a selection of tracks that showcase just how good of a songwriter he is, with tracks like ‘Tomorrow I Love You’ sounding like it could have been a hit in any of the past few decades.

16. Twenty One Pilots – Trench

Image result for twenty one pilots trench

Coming through with their strongest album yet both lyrically and sonically, Top have made a really thematically strong, coherent pop/rock/rap album and have perfected the sound that they have carved out for themselves over the past few years.

15. David Byrne – American Utopia

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With American Utopia, David Byrne has proved that he is as on the ball as he ever was, with hard hitting relevant themes matched to catchy, funky tracks full of his trademark wit and charm such as ‘Everybody’s Coming To My House’ and ‘Dog’s Mind’.

14. Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears 

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Electro Duo Let’s Eat Grandma have really come through on their second album with a brilliantly produced project full of expansive, erratic but focused electronic pop songs. ‘Falling Into Me’ is an album highlight, it being an amazing progressive banger.

13. The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

Image result for the 1975 - a brief inquiry into online relationships

A really varied, well produced album with a multitude of influences used to deliver clever and relevant social commentary about the state of the world with references to mental health, immigration and social media is the best project from Matty Healy and co so far by far, and it’s great.

12. Ariana Grande – Sweetener 

Image result for Ariana Grande - Sweetener

Ariana really showed just how good she can be on Sweetener. The singles dropped from the album were consistently bettering the last, and the album did not dissapoint with amazing production from Pharrell on tracks like ‘R.E.M’ and those singles like ‘God is a Woman’ and ‘No Tears Left To Cry’ showcasing her amazing vocals and just general talent.

11. Pale Waves – My Mind Makes Noises

Image result for pale waves - my mind makes noises

Manchester goth-pop group Pale Waves have had one of the fastest rises in indie in recent years, and their debut album is testament to why they have shot up. Great, catchy songs with hard-hitting honest lyrics and 80’s inspired production and melodies that still manage to sound modern and cutting edge are bound to gain popularity. And it’s well deserved.

10. Gorillaz – The Now Now

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Much more focused than 2017’s ‘Humanz’ album, ‘The Now Now’ is the best Gorillaz project in a long time, with tracks like ‘Tranz’ and ‘Hollywood’ (which has a great feature from Snoop Dogg) showing Damon can still write a great pop banger, and ‘Souk Eye’ being one of the most beautiful songs he has ever written.

9. Anderson. Paak -Oxnard

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A really smooth, catchy funky album from Andy here is a late entry into this list, but with glistening tracks like ‘Tints’ with Kendrick and the amazing flows and production shown on tracks like ‘Who R U?’ means this is Anderson’s finest album so far, and one of the best of the year.

8.Christine & The Queens – Chris

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What difficult second album? Chris levelled up with a collection of sleekly produced groovy pop tunes that built upon the themes of her debut in every way, becoming more confident and explicit while still maintaining that charm that drew everyone to her in the first place.

7. The Orielles – Silver Dollar Moment

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Perhaps the grooviest album of the year, Silver Dollar Moment is full of great, funky tracks with great story-telling lyrics and a real sense of fun throughout. ’48 Percent’ is one of the happiest, catchiest tracks of the year, and ‘Blue Suitcase (Disco Wrist)’ has potentially the best bassline. Nice.

6. Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

Image result for arctic monkeys tranquility base hotel & casino album cover

I’m so glad they decided to go off on one on their latest album, because it really worked. Alex took the Arctic Monkeys to the moon, with a concept album about a Hotel and Casino that proves that sometimes being as outlandish as possible does work. He did what he wanted, and it showed just how brilliant he can be.

5. Kero Kero Bonito – Time n Place

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Changing your sound after a breakout album will always be risky, but KKB made the right choice here on ‘Time n Place’, building on their original sound added even more layers to their personality, and matching the clever, upbeat tracks that tell great little stories with the more complicated production really makes this album stand out from their previous.

 

4. Teleman – Family Of Aliens

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At this point I just expect Teleman to be great, and thankfully they were. Bettering themselves yet again with their best album so far, ‘Family of Aliens’ is an album full of grooves and great melodies with really thoughtful lyrics full of heart that really get better with each listen. ‘Cactus’ is an absolute banger too.

3. Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer

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As soon as I heard ‘Make Me Feel’ from this album, I knew that Janelle was going to release one of the best projects of the year, and I was right, with ‘Dirty Computer’ being her strongest to date. The run of tracks from ‘Django Jane’ to ‘I Like That’ is incredible.

2. Kali Uchis – Isolation

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‘Isolation’ is Kali’s debut full studio album and in my opinion no other debut has shown as much promise. A cohesive, flowing album full of varied, lively tracks with great vocal performances and featured producers make ‘Isolation’ one of the strongest albums of the year.

1. The Good, The Bad & The Queen – Merrie Land 

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‘Merrie Land’ was the album that hit closest to home for me this year with its messages and themes; pairing that with the consistently brilliant songwriting from Damon Albarn and the great musicianship from the likes of Paul Simonon and Tony Allen, this album couldn’t have come at a better time.

 

 

 

 

Venue Talk: Gengahr on The Astoria

I chatted to John from Gengahr about his fave live music venue. He chose the late Astoria in London. Watch Gengahr’s video for ‘Before Sunrise’ below, then check out the interview.

“Can I choose one that no longer exists? The Astoria. Saw so many great bands there, it was the perfect size and if you found the right spot it sounded great either downstairs or upstairs.”

“You could sit down upstairs if you were knackered. Also it was twinned with the Mean Fiddler and after many years we worked out how to get downstairs to the separate venue without anyone seeing so you could get two gigs for the price of one. This was only useful once when there was a great support band downstairs and a great headline act upstairs.”

“Unfortunately I didn’t make any music anyone would want to hear before it got torn down. The gap by Tottenham Court Road station still makes me sad.”

“I got to see loads of stuff there. A lot of US rock stuff as well as U.K. Indie. I think the last gig I went to was Rancid. I saw Death Cab For Cutie and my mate fell asleep upstairs on the chairs, entirely apt for that band. Saw Biffy Clyro at there last London show before they signed to a major and changed a fair bit.

“I saw a UK band called Seafood that was great, the album ‘when do we start fighting’ is worth looking up. I saw Regina Spektor there before she got really big, I think it was the only time she had a full band and she did some truly awful dancing, probably why she sat behind the piano the rest of her career. The video for Radioheads ‘my iron lung’ is shot there (I’m pretty sure), I wish I was around for that gig.”

Venue Facts

  • The Astoria originally opened as a cinema!
  • It was sadly closed in 2009.
  • Richey Edwards had his last live performance with the Manic Street Preachers in the Astoria.
  • Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Feeder and The Cranberries all had live albums recorded at the Astoria.
  • Nirvana, The Strokes, Prince, Blur, Bowie, Madonna and Oasis all played the Astoria.

Gengahr’s second album, Where Wildness Grows, is out now (and its bloody good.) Buy it here or stream it here.