Thursday, 26 February 2015

F is for Festivals!

Leeds Festival 2009
So it may be a bit soon to start thinking about festivals for this year, but I've seen some of the line-ups and heard some of the rumours, and it sounds like I'm going to be spoiled for choice this Summer. Here's my pick of this year's festivals with line-ups too good to miss.

Leeds Festival 2009 30 Seconds to Mars
Reading and Leeds
I've attended Reading & Leeds four times now (Reading x1 - Leeds x3)  and I think it's about time I tried something new.
Don't get me wrong, the R&L line-up for this year definitely grabbed my attention, but not because of the headliners. In fact, as far as headliners go R&L's is pretty poor. I can't remember the last time Mumford and Sons were on the radar, and Metallica seem to be recycled year after year in the festival circuit. It should be a surprise to see a band like that on a line-up, not a guarantee. As for the Libertines, well it's pretty typical of R&L to have what I like to call a 'nostalgia band' on the cards, from The Cure back in 2012 to last year's Pearl Jam appearance. It's always risky, as there's a lot of room for disappointment with bands dragged from the history books for our sentimental pleasure, and it's not that often we come away impressed.

What intrigued me about the line-up was how the festival's rock music roots are shrinking, as new artists of the genre are sharing the stage with talent in dance, hip hop and r&b. Who could say they'd ever have expected Metallica and Kendrick Lamar to share a stage? I don't think it's an overall bad thing, but the festival is definitely becoming a mixed bag compared to what it was. 

There are some bands though that I'm over the moon about being on the line-up .Marmozets, Royal Blood, Wolf Alice, Years &Years and Slaves have been obsessions of mine ever since I mentioned them in my Sound of 2015 post, so to see them all in once place would be incredible. A festival like R&L can do wonders for bands like these, so even if I don't get to go, it will be interesting to see how they excel after performing there.

Glastonbury Festival Main Stage
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So only Foo Fighters and Lionel Richie have been confirmed so far. What a pair! It's around now that rumours start circulating, and the strongest one I've heard is Florence & the Machine, which would make sense considering her new album is to be released on the 1st June, giving everyone a good 23 days to listen hard before screaming it back. Betting has been suspended on Coldplay (you can bet on this stuff?) however Blur, Prince, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Kate Bush, Fleetwood Mac, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Depeche Mode, The Who, Rihanna, Elton John, David Bowie, Taylor Swift AND Madonna are just a few of the names being bet on to fill those headlining slots.

I'm already seeing Foo Fighters at Wembley in June, but it would still be incredible to see them in a festival environment. I would be really surprised if Florence & the Machine weren't there, and if you saw her performance back in 2010 (especially her cover of Fleetwood Mac's 'The Chain') you know she'll put on one heck of a show, and have a wardrobe to match.

Other than that, Red Hot Chilli Peppers have announced a 2015 album, whilst either Prince, Fleetwood Mac or Kate Bush would make this gal a happy festival bunny. Can you imagine over 70,000 people singing Wuthering Heights?

Download Festival Main Stage
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I am ecstatic about the Download lineup. It's a festival I've always said I need to do, and I know if I went this year I'd have seen some classics. I know that Slipknot and Muse are epic performers, and KISS and Motley Crue would be so much fun (LOVE GUUUUUUNNN!!)
I've been wanting to see A Day to Remember ever since I was 18, and I'm so happy they're on the main stage too.
As for Slash featuring Miles Kennedy and the Conspirators, I've heard amazing things about their performance and Guns n Roses covers. I saw Guns n Roses (minus Slash) at R&L, and they were god awful. People were leaving the main stage in droves, so it would be awesome to see Slash do the music some justice.
I've seen Enter Shikari 8 times now so I'm not hard pushed to see them, but it is nice to see them at Download, as they're always at R&L. Seeing them once more can't hurt though right?
For me though, the cherry on top is Marilyn Manson. I adore that guy and everything he touches is gold as far as I'm concerned so it would be glorious to see him live. I would probably loose my ability to function.

T in the Park Festival Main Stage
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T in the Park 
Yay for Fatboy Slim. His tunes make up a lot of my Summer playlist so it would be the epitome of Summer to see him at a festival.  With Rudimental, Alt-J and Jamie T, this fest is oozing Summer. Considering it's taking place in July too, it's like Summerception. Summer songs creating Summer vibes in Summer. All that's missing is a pitcher of Pimms and some sun burn.

Isle of Wight Festival Main Stage
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Isle of Wight Festival
FLEETWOOD FRICKING MAC! I'm sorry, but I'm quite happy to leave it there with this one. I mean, yeah it would be pretty awesome to see The Prodigy (whose new track is perfection btw) and Pharrell Williams and The Black Keys, but I could quite happily make do with Fleetwood Mac. I grew up with them as a kid and to this day I'm still not sick of their sound. Considering I'm named after Stevie Nicks too, it would only be right for me to see my name buddy (in a non-stalker way). 


Thursday, 22 January 2015

The Sound of 2015 - Who to Look Out For!

The one thing I love about the New Year is all the new talent that will be uncovered. Last year we were blessed with George Ezra, Sam Smith, Ella Eyre and FKA Twigs. Each blessed with their own sound, they've ruled the airwaves and have soared to great heights, so what can we expect for 2015?

Well I've put together a little shortlist of some of the artists who have really come into their own recently. Whether they're supporting some of the names above, or going viral on Youtube, these guys are going to get your attention one way or another.

George the Poet
 His spoken word style uses haunting lyrics that are brutally relevant. Each of his songs on his EP 'The Chicken and the Egg' are part of one big story. After listening to one song, you're left wanting to listen to the next just to find out what happens. 

Wolf Alice 
Delicate breathy vocals contrast with riotous shrieks in this grunge mix of thrash and punk. 

She supported George Ezra back in March, and if you love a bit of George, you'll wanna check her out. Her angelic vocals bring a serenity to what is a chilled mixture of  folk and soul. Bridie Monds - Watson is only 18, but is channeling the thoughts of the disparate youth in a stunning way. 

James Bay
'Hold Back the River' is everywhere right now AND he's supporting Taylor Swift on her upcoming tour AND he won the Critic's Choice prize at the Brit Awards. His raspy voice brings atmosphere, power and emotion to the fore, placing himself in an ever-growing movement of one-man bands armed with only their voices and a guitar. 

He's predicted to win the Mercury Prize this year and features on the Mobo Newcomer shortlist.His velvety vocals are sensuous and brooding, and his sounds are a combination of gospel, electronica, and soul, with the odd guitar riff thrown in. 

Aleksandra Denton uses synths and beats to create dewy yet hypnotically beautiful Summer sounds, and teams them with her own breathy vocals. . The kind of music you want playing in the car with the windows down on a cool summer's eve. 

With their song 'The Hunter' featured on Radio 1 as Zane's Hottest Record, this duo have already marked their territory.  When played among the usual suspects of a Radio 1 playlist, they stand out like a sore thumb, and that's how I first came across them. It was so refreshing to hear something so gritty on a commercial music station, and Greg James' reaction summed it up: 'Finally someone with something to say.'

Sunset Sons
The grit and twang of Kings of Leon's Caleb Followhill, but with a chilled, folky-funk.

Years and Years
I can seriously see these following in the footsteps of Disclosure and Clean Bandit, and completely owning dancefloors everywhere this summer. Angelic, soulful vocals with 90s R&B beats . 

Tove Lo 
You've definitely heard her, you probably just don't know it. Featuring on Alesso's 'Heroes (We Could Be)' and the latest Hunger Games soundtrack, her gritty rasp is making ears prick up everywhere. Her debut single 'Habits' was released 18 months ago, but has only just worked its way into the charts. I'm actually willing to make a bet that you recognize it! 

A sweet voice that packs a poppy, dance-floor punch. She's cute as a button but has a quirky, cool-girl edge. 

The synth-pop genre seems pretty saturated at the moment, and it's pretty hard to find something that really stands out. Making it onto Urban Outfitter's playlist, their unobtrusive climb has them down as a newcomer to watch. Their delicate fusion of hip-hop beats and dreamy vocals make for juicy feel-good tunes. 

For me to like a female-fronted band, that voice has to have some oomph. Some depth. Something you can mime to whilst looking like you have a serious attitude problem. The Marmozets are making a name for themselves in rock music. Zane Lowe loves them, and now so do I. Melody, sweetness and rage are mixed together to give you something intricate and meaningful, but also something you can rock your arse off to. 

The Aquadolls
Take the 1950s 'Beach Boys' melody and throw in the sultry, psychadelic voice of Melissa Brooks and you've got some tunes that will make you wanna pack your bag and go on an American Road trip in a vintage Cadillac. 

La Roux 
Yes we all know La Roux, but she disappeared off the face of the earth for a while and we thought it was all over. But she's back with a nostalgic 80s vibe that you can't help but tap your feet to. 

Can punk be exotic? YES! These ladies from Madrid sprinkle their dulcet tones with flowers and childish melodies. They'll make you desperate for Summer! 

Doja Cat
Remember when Azaelia Banks released '212', and we were all wishing we could be that effortlessly cool? Well I hate to break it too you, but we've got to go through that all over again with Doja Cat. Her R&B beats are so fashionable and on-point you want to walk down a runway in your finest with them blaring in the background. 

Purity Ring
I've loved Purity Ring for a while now. There's just no one like them. You only need to listen to 30 seconds of their album 'Fineshrine' and you'll be mesmerized. Even if it's not your thing, I guarantee you'll be intrigued by the macabre lyrics that are sung with a Cheshire Cat smile and backed by layers of sexy, circus-esque sounds. 

Royal Blood
Radio 1 have been playing Royal Blood constantly for the last two months now, and I can't get enough. Posters of their album smother the London Underground, and they're set to support the Foo Fighters on their next UK tour (which I've got tickets for!!!!!!) Their sound echoes that of Wolfmother, and each song has guts and power. They've already burst onto the scene, but I can definitely see them sticking around. 

Benjamin Clementine 
If Nina Simone was a guy, this is what it would sound like. The vocals grip you more than anything else, and you feel enveloped in a poem. The first time I listened to Cornerstone, I was transfixed. I daren't move for fear of interrupting such hypnotizing sounds.

Marika Hackman
This ex-Burberry model and friend of Cara Delevigne has taken up making folky pop-music. Following in the footsteps of Daughter, Hackman's folk is adult. All grown-up . There's nothing kitsch about her music. It's packed with raw, intense emotion and enchanting vocals. 

They've been on The Jool's Holland Show - that in itself should speak volumes. These French-Cuban sisters are masters of percussion. Inspired by chants brought to Cuba from Nigeria, they combine the ancient and the modern and the result will give you goosebumps. 

Petite Meller 
French. Adorable. High Pitch. Colourful. I think these four things sum up Petite Meller pretty well. Her sense of style gives Lady Gaga a run for her money, however don't be fooled into thinking she's just a generic cutesy pop chic. There's something very artistic and well thought out about her music. She's kind of like Yolandi Visser's (Die Antwoord) angelic alter-ego. 

Only Real
The trends of the 90s are coming back with full force, and not just in fashion. Only Real are a hark back to the days of Brit Pop. With a voice echoing that of Jamie T, he sings of youth culture in West London. Despite the grunge vibes, there's something feel-good about Only Real that's reminiscent of Summer, festivals, and an ice cold beer. 

Rayleigh Ritchie
You don't need to watch his videos to know he does a bit of acting on the side. You may know him as Grey Worm from Game of Thrones. This is an actor-turned-musician story with no tackiness attached. Elegant piano and ghostly strings meet with powerful beats and gutsy lyrics to create something gritty and passionate. 

Josef Salvat
People are calling him the next 'Gotye', and I can understand why. Atmospheric melodies and choral vocals work in layers to create songs you want to dissect. His cover of Rihanna's 'Diamonds' is hauntingly beautiful. 

Ryn Weaver
A girl with backing from Jessie Ware, Hayley Williams and Charlie XCX is destined for success. But it would be success well earned. Her track 'OctoHate' went viral on Soundcloud back in June with its addictive synth-pop and Weaver's emotive vocals. 

Panda Bear - Noah Lennox experiments with sounds that would usually make your ears bleed and makes them melodic. Yes the result sounds like something from another planet is trying to contact us, but it's actually quite beautiful. 


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Blogmas Day 24: Alternative Xmas Playlist

I love the atmosphere of Christmas, I really do. It's a holiday where your senses are alive with the sights, the smells, the tastes and of course the sounds. 

For me, I'm getting a little bit tired of hearing the same Christmas songs year on year. I find it really sad that for as long as I can remember, the Christmas No.1 spot has been dominated by X Factor garbage, with no one even trying to bring something new to the table (and no, the new Band Aid song doesn't count). 

However, the lack of new Christmas material doesn't mean we have to sit listening Slade on repeat. 

Here's a selection of some of my favourite Christmas songs that don't quite fit the cliche Christmas mold, but help me get in the festive mood all the same. 

Carol of the Bells (Rout Remix)

Amy Winehouse - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause

Blink 182 - I Won't Be Home for Christmas 

The Killers - Don't Shoot Me Santa

Julian Casablancas - I Wish It Was Christmas Today

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - All I Want For Christmas 

Bruce Springstein - Santa Clause is Coming to Town

Florence & the Machine - Last Christmas

The Futureheads - Christmas was Better in the 80s

The Crookes - It's Just Not Christmas Without You

The Wombats - Is This Christmas?

Fall Out Boy - What's This?

The Ramones - Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)

My Chemical Romance - All I Want for Christmas is You