Clairo – Immunity Album review

‘Immunity’ was an album with a lot riding on it. Since 2017 viral hit ‘Pretty Girl’ and equally hype-gathering EP ‘Diary 001’ the following year, Claire Cottrill aka Clairo has had all eyes on her, with many assuming she would just be another bedroom pop indie star who would quickly fade away. This album completely disproves that.

Production on the album comes from Claire herself and ex-Vampire Weekend mastermind Rostam, who definitely leaves VW esque fingerprints behind, especially on the track ‘Impossible’, but this style of production works perfectly for Claire. Each song sounds fuller and richer than her previous more lo-fi efforts but still manages to focus in mainly on Claire’s lyrics and central melodies, making sure nothing is lost in over-production. I don’t want to patronise her and say it’s ‘good for her age’ but at 20 years old to be this skilled at songwriting is no small feat.

‘North’ is a high point on the album, it’s focused grooves and snappy melody combined with Claire’s crystal clear vocals making for a really memorable track. The lyric ‘I never let anybody in, but somehow you got under my skin’ summing up the album perfectly; ‘Immunity’ is the story of Clairo opening up about her past experiences, and each track is written in such a way that it’s as if you’re listening to an old friend, or reading a diary of their highest and lowest points.

‘Sofia’ is another album highlight, starting off as a fairly chill indie banger reminiscent of Amber Arcades or Alvvays before bursting into this gritty, groovy distorted guitar riff that takes the track to another level. The layers of vocals and instruments towards the end just show how meticulously this was put together. The whole album sounds so smooth and effortless but the more you listen, the more complex you realise it is.

Closing track ‘I Wouldn’t Ask You’ is an almost 7 minute long track, and it’s pretty much in 2 halves, starting off very intimate and slow with Claire & a Children’s choir over a gentle piano backing before a cascade of synths and drum loops come in almost like her mind has cleared from that gloomy period, with the choir now literally singing ‘we’ll be alright’.

‘Immunity’ is a beautiful, comforting album that I feel that I, and many others, will come back to time and time again.

95%

 

 

 

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New Release Roundup 2nd August 2019

Elbow – Dexter & Sinister: Manchester’s nicest band return with, as is usual for them, a nearly 7 minute long track. However, ‘Dexter & Sinister’ sees Elbow going back to the sound of their earlier albums whilst also sounding reinvigorated; Guy’s standard lovely vocals are paired with an instrumental that sounds spacious and cinematic but also a great deal of urgency, with the track’s long run time zooming by. 90%

Foals – Black Bull: This is the first track revealed from the second album of Foals’ ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost’ double album and they aren’t playing around. It’s an absolute banger, and one of the best tracks Foals have ever released. Heavy, angry and precise, this is what rock music needs right now. Very excited for this album. 97%

Ariana Grande & Social House – Boyfriend: Ariana continues her streak of great releases with this new single with help from her Thank u, Next co-writers Social House. ‘Boyfriend’ sees Ari and Social House both deliver very smooth vocals over an almost electro swing instrumental, with a catchy hook and great chemistry between everyone on the track. Will Ari release a bad song any time soon? Hope not. 93%
Haim – Summer Girl: The first new track from Haim since 2017’s ‘Something To Tell You’, ‘Summer Girl’ is a very chill, jazzy and aptly summery number which has an insanely catchy ‘do do do do’ based chorus that is very hard to shake from your head. Very pleasant indeed. 90%

Brockhampton – I Been Born Again: The world’s greatest boyband™ drop yet more new music, with ‘I Been Born Again’ being a straight up rap banger. As is usually the case, each member of the group brings a great verse to the track. This gives me more Saturation vibes than Iridescence so there’s no real telling where they will go next. 80%

Newmoon – Collide Into Me: ‘Collide Into Me’ is a rather lovely piece of dreamy indie-pop from Belgian band ‘Newmoon’. This is the first track to be revealed from upcoming album ‘Nothing Hurts Forever’, coming out in October. Can’t wait. 83%

Raye – Love Me Again: This new single from Raye is unfortunately a bit forgettable. It’s nice enough but doesn’t stand out from the crowd at all and sounds a bit like a bad Sam Smith song. 50%

Tove Lo ft Alma – Bad As The Boys: This sounds like a reject Marina & The Diamonds song & sounds like so many other tracks out there at the moment. Very forgettable. 20%
Mermaidens – Millenia: This is the second track to be released from Mermaidens’ upcoming album Look Me In the Eye, out September 6th, and it’s a great shoegazey, gloomy, groovy tune with captivating vocals and a really addictive drum beat. 80%

The S.L.P. – The Youngest Gary: Another great tune from Serge Kasabian’s upcoming solo project! ‘The Youngest Gary’ is a more synth-driven track than the previous 2 releases but it’s still got that trademark Serge groove and his unique vocals work really well here. Looking forward to this album a lot. 75%

Ava Max – Freaking Me Out: ‘Freaking Me Out’ is a solid, v catchy pop bop from Ava here with a really great vocal performance. 69%

Husky Loops – I Think You’re Wonderful: This is really horrible. The sample/hook on this is really abrasive to listen to and the verses sound over-sentimental. Sounds like Imagine Dragons and Lukas Graham at the same time. 5%

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tramlines Festival 2019 Review

2019 was the second time that Tramlines took place in it’s new home at Hillsborough Park. Last year was a big celebration for Sheffield’s festival and I was worried that this year’s event wouldn’t have the same party atmosphere as the 10th Anniversary. I needn’t have worried.

Friday

Kicking things off for Tramlines for me was Sheffield’s finest young indie band, The Seamonsters.

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As is tradition, The Seamonsters got even better than the last time I saw them, with their irresistible indie pop constantly growing in quality and scale surely they will rise up the festival stage ranks in the years to come.

Next it was over to the Main Stage for the first time of the weekend for Circa Waves.

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Drawing the first smoke bombs of the weekend, Circa Waves played a very tight set with big hits like ‘T-Shirt Weather’ really getting the festival into full swing.

After Circa Waves was the penultimate act of the day, Manic Street Preachers.

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The Manics brought out all of the hits, starting off with the massive Motorcycle Emptiness which immediately made everyone forget about the torrential rain that threatened to ruin Hillsborough Park’s day.

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With a surprisingly great ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ cover and newer hits like ‘International Blue’ amongst classics like ‘Everything Must Go’, MSP played a career spanning, crowd pleasing set.

Closing the Leadmill stage on Friday were Sunderland’s finest, The Futureheads.

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The Futureheads were one of my most anticipated acts of the weekend, having missed them the first time around I was very excited to see them now that they were back playing live again. They did not disappoint, playing an incredibly tight set of indie-punk, and drawing a massive, eager crowd for the tent who ate up tracks like ‘Decent Days and Nights’ and their iconic Kate Bush cover ‘Hounds of Love’

Saturday

First up for me on Saturday were Sheffield locals Oddity Road.

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Pulling a big crowd early in the day, Oddity Road were on top form bringing indie rock banger after banger to Hillsborough Park.

After Oddity Road, I ventured over to the Leadmill stage to see some of the comedy acts! The comedy lineup for Saturday was international, with Thomas Green and Dan Muggleton both being from Australia, and Reginald D Hunter being American. As with last year. the Leadmill Comedy selection was perfect, with the tent being packed all afternoon.

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After Reg had finished, it was over to T’Other stage for Anteros, who played a great set of shimmery indie-pop.

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Main Stage for an evening of indie madness. Miles Kane took to the stage adorned in glitter and went straight into the blistering ‘Inhaler’.

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After Miles, Sheffield indie icons Reverend & The Makers, as expected, stormed the Main Stage and drew an enormous, excitable crowd.

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Smoke bombs in abundance, Rev and Co bounced through all of their biggest hits with one of the most crowd-pleasing sets of the weekend.

The nice one from The Smiths was up next.

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Johnny Marr very kindly cranked out a few massive Smiths hits alongside his new solo material, with the likes of ‘Easy Money’ going down just as well as ‘This Charming Man’ with a very happy Tramlines crowd.

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Closing the day were indie heavyweights the Courteeners, who brought with them one of the hypest crowds Tramlines has ever seen.

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Manchester’s second Liam and co played a stellar set of Indie Bangers and really proved why they deserved that top spot on the bill. If anyone was ever in doubt.

Sunday

The final day of Sheffield’s Biggest Party got underway with a party, created by none other than Happy Mondays.

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Opening the day with a big hit of 90’s nostalgia could have been a big cheesey mess, but the Mondays proved they still have it, playing a very tight hit filled set and Shaun tried his best to ‘keep things PG this early in the day’.

Guest Singer was up next on the Library Stage.

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One of the acts that BBC Introducing had selected to play at the festival, Guest Singer was one of my highlights of the weekend, with ‘New Experience’ being an absolute banger.

Back to the main stage for 90’s indie stalwarts Sleeper now.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from Sleeper, but they really impressed me with a great, energetic set of classic indie-rock tunes that still sounded fresh. Always good to see a band enjoying playing as much as the crowd enjoy watching!

Next up was Lewis Capaldi.

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Unsurprisingly, Lewis drew the biggest crowd of the weekend, and the lad was on top form both musically and comically, with a really strong voice and stage presence matched with the sharp wit of a genuine stand-up comedian, this could quickly become an intimate gig for Lewis.

Over to the Leadmill stage for the last time of the weekend next for Good Cop Bad Cop.

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A Sheffield supergroup of sorts, GCBC played a blinder of a set, with material from their debut album sounding amazing live, and an incredible cover of The Human League’s Love Action went down a treat.

Closing the Tramlines weekend were Nile Rodgers & Chic.

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Some acts play a ‘greatest hits’ set at festivals, and a few of these big hitters really get a crowd moving. Nile & Chic played a set of pretty much the greatest hits of all time. Energy filled from the get-go, Chic were incredibly joyous for every single song, and the crowd matched that energy throughout. A perfect festival headliner.

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Tramlines did it again. It really is Sheffield’s biggest party, and everyone there just seems so happy and excited all the time; everyone in Hillsborough Park has an amazing time. Bring on next year.

98%

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.

 

 

 

New Release Roundup: 17th May 2019

S.L.P. ft. Little Simz- Favourites: This is the first song to come out of this new project from Kasabian’s Serge and it sounds like a mix of ‘Empire’ era Kasabian and early Gorillaz; with an infectious groove throughout and the raw energy that Serge usually provides giving this track a massive sound. As usual, Little Simz shines on her verse and she matches the vibe of the track perfectly. 92% 

Biffy Clyro – Balance Not Symmetry: The Biff are back and sound the most energetic they have in a long time. ‘Balance Not Symmetry’ is a perfect mix of old, heavy Biffy and their newer stuff. This is apparently a song from an upcoming soundtrack to a film of the same name. It’s going to have a belter of a soundtrack then. 95%

Charli XCX and Lizzo – Blame It On Your Love: Charli proves again that she is one of the most consistent voices in pop on ‘Blame It On Your Love’. A rework of ‘Track 10’ from her Pop 2 Mixtape but with added Lizzo (who, of course, smashes it), this is a straight up pop banger. I expected a bit more from the two of them but can’t really complain. 85%

Kim Petras- Sweet Spot: ‘Sweet Spot’ sounds like if Daft Punk and Kylie collabed in about 2006; this is pure dance-pop at its best. This continues the run of great singles that Kim has had over the past few weeks, and if they carry on like this then her album is going to be rather good. 90%

Two Door Cinema Club – Satellite:  The beginning of this new track from TDCC sounds like the lads doing an impression of The Human League, but it soon expands into a shimmery discoy chorus. It’s standard Two Door stuff but with more of a new-wave twist than usual, and I think it works. 80%

Lana Del Rey – Doin’ Time: A nice, chill cover of the Sublime song isn’t what I expected from Lana, and I’m not sure we really need it, but it’s actually really well produced and the melody really suits her voice so, fair enough. 75%

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Black Star Dancing: A slow, groovy number from Noel and the lads. It’s a bit of a grower, but it continues Noel’s experimental phase and his run of releasing some goood tunes. 75%

Snowblood – Into Your Heart: A really catchy song from Dani here; the lyrics are a bit repetitive but the instrumental has a really funky synth line. Simple but effective is the name of the game on ‘Into Your Heart’. 80%

The Black Keys – Go:  It’s certainly The Black Keys! It’s good, but its exactly what you would imagine it to sound like. Very advert friendly and toe-tappy. 60%

 

 

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu Movie Review

The vast majority, if not all video game movies, are awful. Luckily, all it took was a little detective work to fix that.

Detective Pikachu centres around Tim Goodman, a miserable young lad (which is fair enough because his dad has just died in a horrific accident) who discovers a talking Pikachu in his late father’s apartment. It quickly becomes apparent that not all is as it seems, and Tim and Pikachu team up with local reporter Lucy to crack the case.

The majority of the movie takes place in and around Ryme City, a city where humans and Pokémon live in harmony. The way that director Rob Letterman has built this world is really convincing, with the ways that the Pokémon interact with their humans and engage in society is really charming and adds to the immersion, making you really feel like this could be the real world, or at least a version of it that you’d probably want to live in.

The movie is visually stunning, from all the little details and Easter eggs that will please long-time fans of the games in Ryme City to the beautiful outdoor scenery, this is a video game movie that not only has a good plot, but also looks great. The realistic Pokémon may have looked jarring in the trailers when they were first revealed, but in this world they really do work, with the designs of Psyduck and Bulbasaur looking exceptionally good.

Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

The casting of Ryan Reynolds as Detective Pikachu turned a few heads when it was first announced, but his brand of humour is perfect for this movie, and the chemistry between him and Justice Smith who plays Tim feels genuine and charming, even though he is talking to a Pikachu at the end of the day. Kathryn Newton does a great job as Lucy, and Bill Nighy as Howard Clifford, the visionary mind who created Ryme City, is another great choice.

Kathryn Newton in Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

Ryan Reynolds, Kathryn Newton, and Justice Smith in Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

Detective Pikachu should catch (haha) the attention of all fans of Pokémon, and should be a fun movie for anyone who even has a very passing knowledge of the franchise. Very easily the best game to movie adaptation ever made, and I’d welcome a whole series of films set in this world.

85%