Think back to a time when you were in a hot and crowded room, drenched in the familiar odour of inexpensive beer from a stranger’s cup and beads of sweat that slowly edged down your back. Remember the way that your T-shirt stuck to you as you bounced up and down in unison with the rest of the room, with your fellow music fanatics, not a single frown to be seen. Reminisce about that blissful buzz, that now very distant but beguiling buzz that rang around the room as the music rang in your ears. Every day I find myself and many others waking up and wishing that that feeling of unmitigated joy had followed all of us into 2020.
2020 has instead overseen the injurious introduction of the world with the COVID-19 crisis. At this point, the ever embittering coronavirus is an ordeal of astronomical magnitude that we’re collectively, all too familiar with. The pandemic has taken its toll physically, mentally (not to mention economically) on pretty much every last one of us, and just when we thought it had ever so slightly loosened its unrelenting grip on our lives I am reluctant to tell you that now it poses a new threat; it threatens to cull culture.
Given the transmission of the virus is heightened by the gathering of large groups, music venues up and down the country have been forced to shut their doors to dwindle the rate of infection. From March the 16th, mass gatherings involving more than 500 people have been banned by the UK government to ensure the safety and to maintain the health of the population. World-renowned music festivals such as Glastonbury which was due to celebrate the momentous occasion of its 50th birthday this year have also been postponed to 2021. Glastonbury organisers Michael and Emily Eavis fear that if the festival was unable to go ahead in 2021, they could be at imminent risk of bankruptcy. So what I want to ask is, if even the most distinguished organisations and events in the music business are potentially at risk, how do smaller establishments in the industry plan to keep their heads above water during these tumultuous times?
Reportedly, there are 556 grassroots music venues in the UK at direct risk of permanent closure. Not a minor temporary closure, a permanent one. In recent years, the rise of streaming giants such as Spotify and Apple Music has already put these smaller cultural hubs at considerable risk. Streaming has become us music lover’s predominant form of musical consumption and with the unfair payment of artists by these huge companies, less known and upcoming musicians have become heavily reliant on touring and playing gigs to generate adequate revenue to live off. Of late, the untimely entrance of the world health crisis has undoubtedly exacerbated what was already a difficult situation for many upcoming artists.
Recently, the sense of despondency in the music industry has only escalated. Unfortunately, whilst social distancing can somewhat successfully be carried out in places like pubs, restaurants, and shops it would be simply impossible to aptly apply the same rules and regulations to a concert venue where everybody is stood shoulder to shoulder. Due to this, music venues are unable to open their doors until the risk of contracting corona virus has drastically decreased or preferably, been entirely eliminated. This is an unfortunate reality as, according to the Music Venue Trust, the live music industry in the UK produces £5.2 billion for the UK economy and a further £2.7 billion in export revenue, however, 90% of venues and festivals are currently facing the petrifying prospect of permanent closure due to the loss in business throughout the lockdown.
Nevertheless, all is not lost. We can be reunited with our fellow music fanatics and that euphoric buzz that we’re so desperately holding out for once again. The Music Venue Trust has made an urgent plea for as many people as humanly possible to donate to save grassroots music venues up and down the country. In total, they need £50 million to ensure the security of the grassroots music sector and to protect the thousands upon thousands of jobs involved in the industry. We must act now before something that is integral to our culture is gone for good.
Live music is something practically intrinsic to my life and indisputably the lives of many others, it helps everyday people to forget the inevitable stress, annoyance, and upset of everyday life, even if just for an hour or two. It’s something that despite the political disputes, prejudice, and discrimination that continues beyond the walls of a concert venue, brings human beings closer together. Music is a fundamental part of our society, of our culture, because it helps us to forget the shitshow that is being performed daily, by our world leaders, by the people who are supposed to have our best interests at heart but simultaneously fail to protect the most vulnerable people in society. Music stays with us through the rough and the smooth which is why the industry can’t afford to fail, we owe it to ourselves to refuse it’s collapse because ultimately, our well being is more dependent on that buzz than we realise.
On the 1st of February we were lucky enough to have seen Blossoms perform an intimate acoustic set live at Rough Trade East in London. The show commemorated the release of the band’s latest album, Foolish Loving Spaces. The band treated us to the new album (bar My Vacant Days) and even took a request at the end, finishing the set with a crowd favourite: There’s A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls). From the excitement in the queue to the appreciation from the band when signing our albums, the evening was overall pretty incredible!
The show was especially relaxed and the interaction with the crowd further illuminated the friendly, down to earth nature of the band. It was also great seeing their tour manager, Wolfie, getting involved on stage by playing percussion! Looking around mid-performance, it was clear to see how much love there already is for this new album.
The signing process was particularly memorable due to the chattiness of the band (as well as Joe’s infectious laugh). It was heartwarming to see the genuine appreciation they have for their fans.
As third albums go, Blossoms have created something spectacular. It’s an incredible display of their talent and cultivates the genre-bending versatility of the band. We’re looking forward to the tour and can’t wait to see where this new album will take them.
Back in May 2019, The Amazons released their second album, Future Dust. Over 7 months later, we’ve been lucky enough to have an expanded edition of the album.
The expanded version includes 3 new releases:
-Heart Of Darkness
Heart Of Darkness
Since its release, we’ve been listening to Heart Of Darkness nonstop. It has an extremely fiery attitude, with an immediate and high energy dynamic right from the start. It’s a fitting outlet to expand the album and its universe through. Incorporating previous track titles into the lyrics, such as End Of Wonder, it really does feel like a vital part of the grand finale and the closing of the Future Dust era.
The vocals really stand out in this track, especially in the verse, as they have quite an emotive demeanor. When building up to the guitar solo at the end of the track, we hear an almost growing of strength and power within the vocals which charges the energy of the song. The bass line is an unsung hero within the track, not only complimenting the rest of the instrumentation but also adding to the dynamic with confidence. Overall, the musical makeup of Heart Of Darkness really is impressive and most certainly combines to create a pretty great song.
Howlin is brazen, the instrumentation is audacious and the lyrics have a sort of parallelism to them. They appear rather intrepid at first, and yet there is an air of tenderness as a result of their contents, its delivery creates an entirely different narrative to the story they verbally contain.
To expand on its instrumentation, Howlin has an assertive stance which is vital for a good rock track. The drums, whilst not being overpowering, generate the robustness needed to maintain an atmosphere of vigor. In other words, their pounding beats really do power the track forward.
In addition, the guitar riffs are a key element to the basis of the song, not only accompanying the vocals but also strengthening the punch the song has, with its rich aura making it extremely memorable.
We’ d highly recommend seeing them live if you get the chance, they most certainly do put on a great show. Check out their live show dates and venues here: https://theamazons.co.uk/#live
2019 has been a busy year for the music industry. There’s been a healthy emergence of new artists and we’ve all been able to enjoy the exciting expansion of songs and albums released.
Here, in no particular order, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite albums and songs that have been released throughout 2019.
My Honest Face – Inhaler
Throughout 2019, Dublin band Inhaler have been touring, writing and producing some incredible songs. Lucky for us, back in May we were greeted with the release of ‘My Honest Face’, an incredibly lively track that has since shown the power it has. From the vocals to the guitars, the bass to the drums, this single is incredibly well structured in a way that combines to create something that can only be described as a proper good tune.
It has the airiness expected of an Indie rock band with hints of 80s-Esque influence, illuminating how the band’s influences (Echo And The Bunnymen for example) have helped shape their tracks. These combinations of styles also show how versatile they are as they manage to combine genres, creating a unique sound. Another strength of My Honest Face is its live delivery and ability to fill the room with energy. The atmosphere becomes electric as soon as the song begins and is a renowned crowd favourite for starting mosh pits. It’s an extremely strong track that we value very highly.
Your Girlfriend – Blossoms
Your Girlfriend is the latest single to be released by Stockport’s finest, Blossoms. It follows the unusually comical narrative of falling in love with a friend’s girlfriend. It’s this unique take on a love song, and the witty humour included in the lyrics, that makes ‘Your Girlfriend’ really stand out. It’s a fun listen and one that is sure to be stuck in your head for the next week or so after!
The bass line creates a rather groovy feel and the drums add to the liveliness of the single. And we can’t ignore the incredibly catchy use of the slide guitar, what more could you want from a song? It’s most certainly unique and proves the versatility Blossoms have when experimenting with new sounds. Their new album, Foolish Loving Spaces, will be dropping on the 31st of January and we can’t wait!
Hypersonic Missiles – Sam Fender
Named Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac’s hottest record of the year, Hypersonic Missiles has taken the world by storm. The first track on the album, also sharing the same name, it lays the groundworks for what the rest of the album has to offer.
The song’s title was influenced by a news article surrounding the formidable and disconcerting weapons that can reportedly travel at five times the speed of sound. Narrating the song, we have a character loosely based on Sam himself, who despite all the political turmoil and worldwide devastation, has a prodigious lust for life. The song features a beautifully integrated saxophone solo (special shout out to the amazing Johnny ‘Bluehat’ Davis) and a driving beat which pushes the song forward to finish with a resplendent and instrumentally colourful finale.
Hypersonic missiles has proved a hit amongst Fender fans at gigs, bringing people together as what feels somewhat like an awe-inspiring community.
Boys In The Better Land – FONTAINES D.C.
Hailing from Ireland, post-punk band FONTAINES D.C have had an amazing year in 2019. Boys In The Better Land is their third and final single to be released in 2019 from Dogrel. It’s a lively track that captures perfectly the signature style of FONTAINES D.C. and has proven to be a crowd favourite at live shows.
The instrumental makeup of Boys In The Better Land is gritty, with a fierce tom snare beat accompanied by the powerfully delivered vocals of Grian Chatten. The guitars are vital and are what makes Boys In the Better Land such a signature piece of music. The riffs are well structured but without losing any sense of freedom, keeping them real and sounding amazing. Also, the use of the tambourine is a prominent feature of the track, being present from the intro and throughout it combines with the drums to maintain the high energy feel the song has. Finally, the bass line is suited perfectly to the structure of the song. It provides a sense of depth as well as being a strong underlying vessle of liveliness. Boys In The Better Land is an exceptional single
It Might Be Time – Tame Impala
It might be time is the third single to be released by Tame Impala in 2019. The drums are too good to ignore, their gritty, distorted beats accompanied by the incredible use of synths combine to create a track pounding with energy. And of course, the lyrics and vocals are perfectly suited to the song’s style. The emotions conveyed in such a high energy track is impressive, showing how the vocals aren’t overpowered by the rest of the instrumentation and the message hasn’t been lost.
It’s an extremely memorable experience listening to it might be time due to the sheer presence it has. From the artwork to the song’s storyline, it is an exceptional single. It has already given us a teaser of The Slow Rush, Tame Impala’s third studio album which will be released on the 14th of February 2020.
Don’t Cling To Life – The Murder Capital
Released in July, Don’t Cling To Life marked the last single to drop from The Murder Capital’s exceptional debut album When I Have Fears. Heavily emphasized by the music video and frequently described by the band themselves, Don’t Cling To Life is a celebration of death. This rather somber influence, however, requires attentive listening to grasp fully. As a result, it is an extremely powerful song, bringing about a chaotic reassurance, and highly charged and energetic piece of art.
Musically, the track is skillfully crafted. Featuring rich guitar riffs, impressive bass lines and drum kept beats, the thematic influence is present in all parts of the instrumentation. There is an air of darkness surrounding Don’t Cling To Life however it’s not overpowering, instead, it makes it far more emotive and hard to ignore. It has a great presence in its own right and its live delivery is exceptional.
Lo/Hi – The Black Keys
Lo/Hi really is a song that screams “Let’s Rock”. The dynamic is proportionally perfect, allowing a strong build-up within the chorus to help propel the song forward. Instrumentation wise, the single has everything you could want, dirty guitars, signature vocals, and a groovy rhythm created by the garage rock styled drums. And we can’t ignore the guitar solo which really tops it all off. It has a persona of absolute swagger.
It’s a refreshingly stylish and has infectious amounts of energy, making it stand out from a lot of singles. It has the power to carry a sort of leather jacket and motorbike vision whilst carrying a completely different story within the lyrics, one that is far more melancholic. This ability to create two completely different stories within one song is extremely hard to balance and they really have got it just right. Overall, it’s a skillfully crafted track and one that has proven to be nothing but a huge success.
British Bombs – Declan McKenna
The 16th of August marked the released of British Bombs, the latest single by Declan McKenna. It is politically driven with its main lyrical subject matter focusing on the outrage of war and the corruption presented in modern-day politics. However, the song’s made up of an upbeat and rather happy sound.
His contrast between lyrics and instrumental style is extremely powerful. It doesn’t just carry a message but also comes together to form a skillfully crafted, high energy track. It captures perfectly the ignorance present in many towards very relevant issues that must be addressed, it’s a good example of an artist increasing awareness and making a difference through their music. We’d highly recommend giving it a listen.
Dogrel – FONTAINES D.C.
Dogrel is the debut album from Irish band FONTAINES D.C.. Full of powerful lyrics accompanied by an incredibly sculpted array of guitar, bass lines and drums , it resonates with those who listen to it. The energy throughout the album is captivating, with each song comes a new take on the state of modern life and the gritty truth regarding the functionality of politics.
Since it’s release back in April, it has had immense success and rightly so. Winning the title of Rough trade’s album of the year as well as a nomination for the 2019 mercury prize, Dogrel has proven itself as an extremely valued album.
Future Dust – The Amazons
Future Dust, released back in May, is the second album from The Amazons. It has 10 songs, all with their own narrative and a reprise of 25. Each song is explosive with energy, the powerful beat of the drums mixed with gritty vocals and infectious bass lines, it’s hard to ignore.
Making appearances at festivals (such as Reading and Leeds) and persuing the Future Dust headline tour, The Amazons have allowed us to see how the album translates into live performances, and it’s most certainly something you wouldn’t want to miss. One song that stands out, in particular, is the stage version of black magic, which traditionally ends the set. The room becomes electric as soon as the familiar introduction starts and it really is a physical representation of going out with a bang. Future Dust is most certainly a successful album and rightly so, musically it has everything you could want in an album and we can’t wait to see what The Amazons have lined up for us next.
When I Have Fears – The Murder Capital
The Murder Capital have taken 2019 by storm with a variety of live performances to the release of their incredible debut album, it has been a good year for the Irish band. When I Have Fears is a prime example of an exceptional debut album. With such a variety of tracks, themes and compositions, it’s a display of the band’s versatility.
For example, the dark and brooding weight of Slowdance I is incredibly powerful. With it being such a slow song, the emotions and individual uses of each instrument resonate. This is counteracted by the energy exerted in More Is Less for example, which has a denser texture of sounds playing at once as well as louder sounding vocals. Contrasts such as this illuminate The Murder Capital’s ability to maintain a distinct and recognizable sound without losing the uniqueness of each track. It’s a great album and a strong start to their musical collective.
Hypersonic Missiles – Sam Fender
Where to start? Finding the right words to convey our utter adoration for this album has been nothing short of a challenge. The album itself paints a picture of the raw and bitter truth, it writes a story so stark, representing the anguishes endured by thousands, if not millions of people all over. Fender’s great gift is this irrefutable ability to observe the actions and patterns of thought of everyone, “from the people to the Queen.” Most vitally, the album in a Springsteen-esque fashion, sticks up for the little guy, backing those backed into a corner, the most vulnerable in our society.
Interestingly, the Saxophone is integral to the album, featured in the songs ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ and ‘The Borders,’ again another nod to Fender’s hero and musical icon The Boss. The musical similarity between Springsteen and Fender is uncanny, but despite this, Sam Fender is very much individual with ideas of his own, bringing contemporary phenomenality to every piece of music and addressing more current issues associated with 21st-century inventions such as social media. He does so, with such compelling yet harrowing vocals that transfix the listener. Perhaps one of the best debut albums released ever (a rather bold statement, but one we’re willing to make) we seriously urge you to give the inevitably timeless album a listen if you haven’t already.
The Balance – Catfish And The Bottlemen
Released in April, the balance is the third album from Catfish And The Bottlemen, and what an album it is. Featuring songs such as longshot and 2all, the album has received a great amount of positive feedback and radio coverage. As well as it’s singles having a great deal of success, the entire album illuminates the band’s ability to create consistent energy, proven perfectly by their live performances throughout the year.
It has a sleek composition of guitar solos, punchy bass lines, drums that carry each song forward and some great vocals. In addition, the lyrics are clever and well structured, keeping a strong sense of understanding and inclusiveness in each track as their stories unfold. Overall, The Balance is a great album that has provided us with some incredible songs.
Why Me? Why Not. – Liam Gallagher
We have yet again been reunited with that familiar Mancunian twang of the practically biblical, rock and roll legend, Liam Gallagher. We say reunited because in many ways listening to this album felt like coming home ; Gallagher is fully aware that his audience knows what they like and likes what they know. Nevertheless, Gallagher’s second album as a solo artist gives us an exclusive look at Liam’s slightly more sensitive and moderate persona (featuring tracks like ‘Once’) than the usual wayward swagger that we’ve grown accustomed to.
Other tracks appear to focus more on the ruptured relationship between Liam and his brother Noel. “Act like you don’t remember, you said we’d live forever.” These lyrics from the second track, ‘One of Us,’ describe the vexation and disconsolation experienced by Liam that his older brother decided to break up Oasis back in 2009. Liam’s partner Debbie Gwyther, has suggested that he misses Noel, sparking rumours that perhaps the two brothers might reunite, even for just a few tour dates. Either way, with or without Noel, Liam has assuredly proved himself a worthy solo artist with this sophisticated and sublime album and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
Jade Bird – Jade Bird
Releasing her self titled debut album in April, Jade Bird is the only female solo artist to make our list in 2019. The singer’s first album exhibits her fiery and idiosyncratic vocals with tunes such as ‘I Get No Joy’ and ‘Uh Huh’ but also offers some more tender and melodic tunes with the inclusion of the songs ’17’ and ‘If I die’ to the LP. Her voice, whilst still intense and resonant in these softer songs, instils an underlying sense of fragility, captivating such tenuousness of emotion. If heartache itself requested a soundtrack, this album would almost certainly fit the bill.
The truth is, it couldn’t have been more necessary for us to comment on how triumphant this album is. It’s balanced blend of solemnity but also aggravation is so professionally orchestrated, especially for a twenty two year old artist so fresh to the music industry. This release is a true success in our books and hopefully yours too; Jade Bird is unequivocally set to become a firm favourite amongst indie rock listeners.
What’s Inside Is More Than Just Ham – FEET
After it’s anticipated release back in October, What’s Inside Is More Than Just Ham has had great success, and rightly so. Transitioning from genre to genre whilst creating a lighthearted air of silliness, it’s most certainly unique.
Each track is exploding with energy and an extreme array of subject matter, the entire album is a fun listen, creating a snapshot into the weird and wonderful. It’s admirably random and captivates perfectly what FEET are all about. The musical structure is also very strong, each part of the instrumentation is fitted perfectly to each song, ensuring a consistent dynamic which allows the energy to be maintained. We’d strongly recommend giving it a listen.
ARTISTS TO WATCH
With an ever growing collection of talented artists, the music industry is full of up and coming bands who are starting to make their presence known. We thought we’d share with you some of our favourite bands and singers who we believe will take 2020 by storm. We’d highly recommend checking them out!
Set to release their debut album in 2020, Inhaler is a band to watch. With an already incredible collection of singles and success regarding their recent tour, we strongly believe the new year will be a big year for the Dublin four-piece. They’ve already announced performances for festivals, such as Neighbourhood weekender, so we’d recommend checking them out and watching them live if you get the chance. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.
Having recently finished touring their debut album, What’s Inside is More Than Just Ham, FEET have shown great promise for the new year. With a distinct style and great sense of energy in their music, their uniqueness is admirable. You can see FEET next year supporting Inhaler on their next tour or at festivals such as Live At Leeds. We’d strongly recommend giving them a listen.
2019 has been a great year for Alfie Templeman, not only has he released a collection of songs that have received great positive feedback, but he’s also supported acts such as Sports Team and Inhaler on their recent tours. He creates an incredibly energetic atmosphere in his live performances and his music is versatile, we’d recommend giving it a listen. Sure to be releasing new tracks and making future live appearances, we’re excited to see what 2020 will bring for Alfie Templeman.
After seeing them ope for Inhaler back in October, we’ve been keeping up to date with Apre’s shenanigans ever since. They put on an incredibly energetic live show, with songs such as ‘All Yours’ and ‘5 to 5’ being some of our favourites to see live. Their music has an indie-pop sound which is refreshing. Each track is unique, with all their lyrics containing universal narratives, they’ve most certainly found their sound. Achieving a signature style, their songs are especially chilled out and yet they still manage to achieve a strong sense of energy throughout each track.
Apre will soon be venturing on a headline tour so we’d highly recommend heading down to one of their gigs!
Throughout 2019, we’ve been lucky enough to see The Mysterines at both festivals, such as Reading, and at gigs like BBC Introducing. They’ve also recently supported The Amazons as part of the Future Dust tour, allowing their sound to be heard all across the country.
In their live shows, they radiate energy, attracting crowds and getting the room moving. It has been great seeing their progression throughout the year, releasing both an EP and now their latest single ‘Who’s Your Girl’. Their music is a powerful combination of striking vocals and strong bass lines accompanied by well-structured drums. They’re a refreshing addition to the rock genre. Their first headline tour is taking place in February and we’re sure 2020 is going to be a good year for The Mysterines.