The 1975 live at the O2 Arena Review

The 1975 are currently on their sold out UK Arena tour, their biggest to date, and I got to catch their show on Saturday 19th of January. It was very good.

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After great support sets from Dirty Hit alumni No Rome and Pale Waves, The 1975 took to the stage to a ridiculously loud, and excited o2 Arena that was packed to the brim. As soon as that big screen lit up the crowd were relentlessly noisy through till the last song. Kicking things off with a double helping from their latest album ‘Give Yourself A Try’ and ‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’ were received as if they were greatest hits.

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Each song had it’s own amazing set of visuals, with the stage morphing and transforming; at one point Matty entered the screen and it became a phone, and a treadmill was in use for a few of the songs alongside massive floating cube screens and some really great backing dancers who added an extra level of spectacle to the show.

The visuals were stunning at times, making the show seem even larger in spectacle than it already was. Opening act No Rome returned for the stage for his recent track that featured The 1975 and even that had got a full visual treatment, dancers and all.

The 1975 played a varied selection of tracks from their 3 albums and a few from their earlier EPs, even being brave enough to play the ambient ‘How To Draw/Petrichor’ from their latest.

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This was a massive show, with amazing visuals and it’s inspiring to see a relatively new band shoot up to this level of production without losing their personality.

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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

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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 

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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

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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

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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

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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 

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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

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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

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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.

 

 

 

 

The Good, The Bad & The Queen – Merrie Land review

It has been 11 years since the last album by The Good, The Bad & The Queen, and a lot has changed since then. Thankfully TGTB&TQ have not, and are as on the ball as they were back in 2007. 

Title track and opener ‘Merrie Land’ sets a haunting scene of a picturesque but broken Britain that is worth fighting for while at the same time asking if it’s worth the bother, with Albarn sounding already defeated.  ‘Gun To The Head’ is an album highlight for me, sounding like Parklife-era Blur mixed with Madness with its chanty chorus and oompa beat, but the melancholy undertone is still present despite the upbeat brass. 

‘The Last Man To Leave’ is one of the most inventive, intense and simply brilliant tracks on the album, and that Damon has ever done; Damon’s vocals sounding like a crazed preacher shouting about not wanting to leave and ‘liking the bed we’ve made to lie in’ while still carrying real, heartbreaking emotion.

The whole album plays out like a sad but hopeful love letter to the UK. The lyrics to ‘Nineteen Seventeen’ perhaps most directly hint at Brexit woes; ‘I see myself moving backwards in time today from a place we can’t remain … My heart is heavy because it looks just like my home.’ with other tracks referring to lines on maps and Windrush.

While this may seem a bit too in your face and preachy when written down, rest assured the whole project has that beautiful sad echo throughout it that only Damon at his best can bring, with his truly great songwriting helped come to life even further by the stellar line-up of Paul Simonon on Bass, Tony Allen on Drums and Simon Tong on guitar.

A few songs do sound very similar to each other and a bit one-note, with ‘The Great Fire’ being a bit of a low point for me, but these tracks are in the minority and the album still flows fairly well.

The themes in this album will hit home for those in the UK at the moment, but the messages of drifting apart and regret leave a lot to the imagination, and the meticulously crafted songs can be enjoyed by anyone. This is the perfect album for 2018.

98%

Track Review: Pozi – KCTMO

KCTMO is the debut single from new London band Pozi, written during the aftermath of the Grenfell tower fire.

The track itself is a brutally honest, open-hearted encounter of what it was like to be near Grenfell at the time, and the anger Vocalist & Drummer Toby Burroughs felt; with lyrics like ‘Deadly damages are due’ Pozi aren’t holding back. Good.

Sonically, the track comes in somewhere halfway between the Maccabees and The Streets. ‘KCTMO’ has an irresistible bassline and a pounding drumbeat that really grab your attention, and the haunting violin that creeps in throughout keeps you hooked.

Very promising stuff for a debut single.

83%

Pozi have 2 upcoming London shows:

31 Oct – London, The Curtain Hotel (PRAH Halloween Party)
27 Nov – London, Moth Club

Kagoule – Strange Entertainment Review

The Nottingham three piece’s second effort sees them grow in confidence and scale, with ‘Strange Entertainment’ being a confident, varied album. Every track on the album is different in pace and tone, but it still flows really well and feels like one coherent piece.

Opener and album highlight ‘Egg Hunt’ starts off with just vocals and bass before developing into a really groovy track with a great, catchy jangly riff that hasnt left my head in a few days.

‘It’s Not My Day’ is another fave off the album it being one of the heavier moments on Strange Entertainment, with very strong vocals from Lucy over a slow but punky backing, with brilliant creative drum patterns on this track.

Monsieur Automaton is another great track, and another change of pace with this being perhaps the fastest track on the album, and I love the harmonised vocals on the verses a lot here. Closer ‘Strange Was the Time’ is another growing, progressive track that shows off just how good the trio are musically.

With great production, variety and just banging songs throughout this is exactly the album Kagoule needed to make, and they pulled it off.

80%

Kagoule have some upcoming UK tour dates:

Oct 31st – Leeds – Wharf Chambers
Nov 01st – Manchester – The Eagle Inn
Nov 02nd – Liverpool – EBGB’s
Nov 03rd – Nottingham – Rescue Rooms
Nov 07th – Margate – Tom Thumb Theatre
Nov 08th – Brighton – Prince Albert
Nov 09th – Portsmouth – The Loft
Nov 10th – Southampton – Heartbreakers
Nov 11th – Bristol – Rough Trade
Nov 19th – London – Moth Club

New Release Roundup 26th October 18

Singles:

Self Esteem- Rollout: The strongest track from Rebecca LT so far in my opinion. A great hypnotic melody with great harmonies over a great, funky percussion track. Very promising for a debut full length. 90%

Ian Brown – First World Problems: It’s good to have the monkey man back, with a new solo album coming next year. This new track is a groovy number, and Ian’s voice sounds on top form. Very exciting. 84%

Razorlight – Carry Yourself: A fairly pleasant, non threatening indie tune from Razorlight here, its not bad at all but it would fit in perfectly in a sofa sale advert or the opening of a cookery show. 70%

Lauren Jauregui – Expectations: A smooth, soulful slow jam from Lauren J here that really showcases her strong vocals; showing real emotion and passion while maintaining good control. Gooood. 80%

Bring Me The Horizon ft. Dani Filth – Wonderful Life: The second single from BMTH’s upcoming ‘amo’ album is another top tune. A bit heavier than Mantra, but just as catchy and not too over the top. Dani puts in a good feature too. 81%

Mumford & Sons – If I Say: This would be an alright, subtle growing track but Marcus’ voice is so grating, especially when its the focus of the track. Nah. 30%

Gerard Way – Baby You’re a Haunted House: This new track from emo king Gerard Way is a glam rock esque rock banger. It’s My Chemical Romance meets The Sweet, and its not bad at all. 80%

Cardi B – Money: Not a fan of this one at all. Usually Cardi has some funny bars that show she is still down to earth but this just seems like a big brag-fest. 20%

Albums:

Peter Raeburn – Note To Self: A lovely, thoughtful collection of songs from Peter here. Sounding somewhere inbetween Fleet Foxes and I am Kloot, ‘Note To Self’ has great, stripped back production. ‘Never Gone’ is an album highlight for me, with haunting harmonies throughout. 80%

 

 

Kero Kero Bonito – Time ‘n’ Place Review

Time ‘n’ Place is the second studio album from experimental British 3 piece Kero Kero Bonito, who on their debut EP ‘Intro Bonito’ and subsequent first album proved themselves to be one of the most exciting, inventive new groups around. Drawing from a wide range of influences, ‘Bonito Generation’ was a bright, colourful record.

Based on the opening track ‘Outside’, it is clear that KKB have not just made a ‘Bonito Generation 2’, with it being more guitar based and instantly heavier than most things on their debut. Don’t worry, the band’s charm is still here in abundance on Time ‘n’ Place, with KKB developing their sound while not losing any of what made them great the first time around.

‘Time Today’ is an early album highlight, with Sarah happily singing about how she has a day to herself. The album continues very strongly into ‘Only Acting’ which details how Sarah feels while performing live over a nice pop-punky backing, that brilliantly self destructs towards the end.

The whole album is just as strong, most songs telling specific, on the nose stories over innovative beats and utilising Sarah’s unique vocal style perfectly, with ‘Dump’ being a nice little story about a rubbish dump, and ‘Dear Future Self’ being a letter to future self.

Closing track ‘Rest Stop’ begins sounding like the end credit music to an old Sega game like Nights or Alex Kidd before exploding into what is essentially a few minutes of noise music with Sarah faintly singing in the background before fading out to just Sarah. Odd, but it works. Good.

93%

You can buy Time ‘n’ Place here, or stream it below.