Mumford And Sons – Babel

If you were to ask any member of the public a few years ago if a band dressed like they worked on a farm and performed folk music would become internationally recognisable, you’d be ridiculed but that’s exactly what has happen with Mumford & Sons. Their 2009 debut was a surprise and up to now is still an indie gem full of foot stomping anthems that many songwriters dream about making so it’s no surprise that the build up to Mumford’s new album was full of both excitement as well as anxiety. It can be said that most of these worries can be put to rest as Babel has delivered the goods.

Whereas their debut started off with the chilling Sigh No More before venturing off into The Cave and Winter Winds, Mumford are very much aware of where they are in the media’s attention as a refreshing, energetic band and so start off with Babel, a track that’ll be on their setlist at gigs and festivals for years to come which is followed up Whispers In The Dark, a song full of beautiful lyrics and a classic chorus that will have fans of the band shouting and screaming during it from the top of their lungs. It’s at this point in the album that you would expect things to die down into something a bit slow but with the confidence that the band are showing, they belt out hit after hit showing that they’ve not lost the same charisma that have made the band instantly recognisable. So what can be wrong with something full of enthralling tracks that are admirable and brilliant? Well the problem with Babel is it seeming a little too safe which can be argued as being exactly what fans wanted but it almost seems like there’s something Mumford are holding back on and they may just be waiting for their third album which is currently in development to showcase this but this may leave some fans feeling a little let down but with tracks like Lover Of The Light and Hopeless Wanderer, they’ll hardly be complaining. 

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Babel is proof that Mumford & Sons deserve to be in the position that they’re at in the music world and the charisma that they portray in both of their albums is best to be experienced live. Babel’s only downfall is the fact that it plays it safe and many like myself would like to see them experiment with their sound to show progression that would make their mark on the music world. Babel is proof that they’re well on their way to do so.

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Kanye West – Yeezus

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Now this is an odd one. No matter what your opinion on Kanye might be, he’s not one to be pigeon-holed, be it 808’s & Heartbreak which was controversial for the musician drifting away from rapping or his recent album which even after listening to it multiple times is hard to come up with a proper opinion.

After the release of 2010’s critically acclaimed My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, it’s hard to think what the egotistical Mr West could possibly come up with this time around. If your guess was sick beats, rapping about croissants and a cameo from Daft Punk then kudos to you because that’s what West has delivered and at first listen, it’s an odd album to say the least. Whereas most of his albums had a focus on certain subjects such as The College Dropout, Yeezus seems confused, sometimes focusing on the issue of racism but this issue often seems ignored by West himself when he raps on certain out of place tracks such as I’m In It. While this is a downside, the sound of Yeezus is so refreshing and as many people have said before, like it’s from the year 3000. Yeezus, musical wise, is darker than it’s predecessors and combines different styles such as acid house, chicago drill and more which gives it a unique sound that helps the album stand out.

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Kanye is in a pretty stressful position with the media paying an awful lot of attention on him after his disputes with members of the paparazzi as well as his partner Kim Kardashian which may have cause the short comings of Yeezus but as it stands, Yeezus is a solid album that’s only downfall is it’s loss of identity, something that’s been the reason for the success of West during his whole career.

blink-182 – Greatest Hits

The term “pop punk” is thrown around quite a lot nowadays, usually assigned to bands such as All Time Low, Paramore and Fall Out Boy and is successful for presenting punk rock with a whole new twist on it. Even though now nearly any new bands nowadays can be classified as being pop punk, one pop punk that have been around since the start and celebrated their 21st anniversary on Friday are blink 182.

Now blink-182 aren’t unheard of as they’ve had success both commercially and critically, being well known for the energy and charisma that thrives in their albums as well as their live performances. Greatest Hits was released during the hiatus of blink-182, a hiatus many fans and critics thought would never end and who could blame them. Tom DeLonge was already having mild success with his band Angels and Airwaves and Mark Hoppus was also working on various musical projects such as +44 with fellow bandmate Travis Barker who, in my opinion, is one of the most talented drummers in music right now, expanding his talents to different genres outside of the genre he had conquered with blink-182. Enough with the reminiscing now, with blink-182 back with an altered style which is fresh and still as great as ever, it’s time to look back at their greatest hits. I couldn’t have picked a better track list if I’m being honest, as the selection on this album contains tracks from the early days with Scott Raynor on albums such as Buddha and obviously ones from Enema Of The State where he was replaced with Barker and blink began to experience major commercial success. Of course there is the obvious choices such as All The Small Things that’ll have you chanting “nananananananananana” over and over again and Carousel that lets you reminisce on the early days of blink and back on a younger Tom DeLonge’s odd vocals. As well as that, there’s also the dark Adam’s Song which is chilling even now and Stay Together For The Kids, two songs that show that blink weren’t only about dick and mum jokes but about the hard times of adolescence and life itself. I Miss You and First Date are both good choices as they show another well known problem of adolescence, romance. The latter represents more of the awkward guy’s version of a date with the paranoia of screwing it up and so makes it a very relatable song with a very cheesy, romantic chorus.

Negatives? The only problem I have with this album is the absence of certain tracks that shows the humorous side of blink which would make for a slightly better compilation album but the tracks that are on the episode can’t be argued with. After listening to it more than I’m glad to admit, I still have no issues with any of the tracks on this album.

At the end of the day, blink-182 will be many things to many people, not all of these things positive as is the case with every band. Ignoring that fact though, every fan of the punk genre, no matter what their preference is should listen to this album. For fans of the pop punk genre, it’s a must buy as it not only shows why blink-182 are successful but how the genre as a whole was born. Plug in your headphones, turn up the volume, play and enjoy.

Earl Sweatshirt – Doris

Is it worth the hype? 

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Nowadays, thanks to social media giants like Soundcloud and Youtube, it’s easier than ever for up and coming artists to gain attention from the public, One good example of this would be the famous (infamous?) Odd Future, most commonly known as OFWGKTA, a hip hop collective group from California led by rapper Tyler The Creator who’s controversial albeit entertaining behaviour gained the group a lot of attention for the right and wrong reasons. One of the most promising members from Odd Future is Earl Sweatshirt who gained praise for his self titled debut mix-tape which showed his potential and showed that he may be able to live up to the claim made by his ‘big brother’ Tyler who generated the initial buzz of hype. Unfortunately following the release of his mix-tape, he was sent to a boarding school in Samoa by his mother until he was 18, leaving many fans questioning what had happened and led to the creation of the Free Earl campaign. It’s no wonder that on his arrival, fans were anticipating the new material from a more talented and mature Earl, hoping that he could live up to the buzz being generated about him. So does Doris prove Earl’s potential?

Before I listened to Doris, I listened to Earl so that I could compare it to his newest piece of work to see if the time away spent in Samoa had damaged or improved Earl’s work. Sweatshirt himself admitted that he would never be able to better his track Earl so I went in with low expectations but I came out being more than happy with what I had listened to, more so than I had been with my personal favourite contender for rap album of the year Yeezus. It has to be said that the production value on this album is up to the standards you’d expect from an Odd Future release though many tracks excel due to the eerie vibe that they generate and create a great atmosphere. Earl himself has lived up to most of his potential with his flow still not disappointing and coming out with many memorable lines. Unlike Earl which was the work of a young and upcoming artist which still holds up to this day, Doris is a more personal album which can be seen on the track Burgundy where he briefly talks of his now deceased grandma and on Chum where he raps about how his Father’s departure from his life has had an effect on him. The cameos on this album are unsurprising and vary from dissapointing to amazing apart from Vince Staples who is on standout form on the tracks Hive and Centurion and is by far the best guest on this album. Other guests include Frank Ocean who features on the song Sunday and Tyler The Creator on Sasquatch though this track seems like something that could have been on Wolf as it gives off more of a Tyler vibe than an Earl one which is by no means a bad thing but on a debut album, Earl should be trying to be creating a unique charisma on Doris, which thankfully it does have, though the track itself is decent enough.

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Doris shows that Sweatshirt has realised how far shock value can get you in this genre and has not only matured in his lyrics but also in his production value which shows on the tracks that he has produced and certifies himself as a force to be reckoned with and that he has a bright future ahead of him.

Biffy Clyro concert review

With the stage set, support act City and Colour thank the crowd and tell them to enjoy the rest of the night. It’s clear though from the chants of “Mon The Biffy” that the audience are already doing so and as bare-chested front-man Simon Neil appears on stage followed by band-mates James and Ben Johnston, the arena erupts into a deafening roar of applause and cheering that doesn’t settle down for the duration of the band’s two hour performance.

And for good reasons as well. The Scottish rock trio managed to gain a loyal fan-base during their first three defiantly alternative albums that have stuck by them. As well as this, there are the fans who discovered the band after the boys came across a classic stadium rock formula that has served them well with some top 40 singles in addition to their number 1 album Opposites. Some have called the band sell outs, most likely caused by X Factor winner Matt Cardle’s cover of their ballad Many of Horror but any band that’s decided to perform in a packed arena rather than a gloomy club has faced this issue at least once in their lifetime.

Despite all the mainstream success, the boys prove that they haven’t strayed away from their roots. “If anyone’s still sitting, get off your arse, this is a rock ‘n’ roll show!” snarls a sweat ridden Simon Neil who acts as an example to the crowd as he clamours over equipment and puts on such a strong vocal performance that it seems that his vessels might burst at any moment with his consistent throaty shouting.

It’s not just Simon who was showing his worth though. Ben Johnston gave a tremendous performance on drums, his skilful bombardments on the drum kit seemed like child’s play to him and left fans in awe. Brother James provided back up vocals, another set of throat vessels to be wary of, and gave a stellar display on bass guitar which proves that he’s one of the best bassists Britain has to offer.

The backbone of every concert though is the setlist and Biffy’s was sublime. Nei’ls rough voice from the many nights of touring still managed to come across as sincere on some of the more emotional tracks such as Black Chandelier, a song about lost love that strikes a chord with the crowd as they sing along word for word. These calm moments are far and few between, the majority of the night spent moshpitting along to a whole heap of monumental tracks such as the rarely played “A Day Of..” and “Glitter and Trauma”.

Just like any rock band that are worth their money, Biffy also had other stage props that were utilised well during their gig. Whether it was the obvious yet wonderful use of a bubble machine during, you guessed it, “Bubbles” or the flurry of blue and white confetti during the illustrious closer “Mountains”, none of them were distractions and all helped to add to the experience. Some other honourable mentions are the screens that, during the chorus of “Sounds Like Balloons”, displayed the innards of a human body with blood pumping as Simon sings “the sand at the core of our bones”. Again, this doesn’t distract from the song but adds to it instead.

There’s been many that have doubted the band’s ability to perform at a headliner level of quality, the clear example being Nine Inch Nail’s front man Trent Reznor. “We’ll show you exactly who the fuck we are and why Biffy Clyro belong above Nine Inch Nails.” said Simon Neil during an interview with Q magazine. After tonight’s performance, the band has shown that they’re a world class act that are a force to be reckoned with.