Day 3

As I write this, I’m on what feels like my 500th can of energy juice this week. Since starting this diet (if you even want to call it that), I’ve found myself feeling tired far more easily than I used to which for college nights is great. No more nights spent watching countless YouTube videos and getting half an hour sleep.

That is until you actually need energy for something.

Today I’m off to a concert in Glasgow, arguably the best place to perform in the whole of the UK, not just Scotland. Anyone who has been to the barrowlands knows there is a certain atmosphere and sound that only it can provide, with some of my favourite concerts occurring there. I’m seeing indie band Peace along with local rockers Echo Valley and I couldn’t be more excited. Well I would if I didn’t want to fall asleep every ten minutes.

I realise this is most likely down to poor planning and that it is possible to feel energised without the need of red bull and any other artificial items. For the time being though, I’m just praying to God that if I die due to it, that I die in a wave of tie dye tshirts while Bloodshake plays in the background.

What a way to go.

Day 2: The Walking Diet

Very few things genuinely terrify me. Not trying to make myself seem like a hard man, seeing as I’m the total opposite, but I can only list a few things I know would properly scare the fuck out of me. A zombie apocalypse would be one of them.

You might be thinking what this has to do with my vegetarian trial but hear me out. So I was at the hospital today for an undisclosed reason and so had to have the routine thing done I.e get blood pressure and pulse rate checked, lie back on a cold as fuck bed with a revealing coat on.

Anyone who has saw the extremely popular AMC show The Walking Dead will know of the opening scene of the pilot episode. Protagonist Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma in a run down hospital while still plugged into an IV and probably smelling like an alleyway in Glasgow.

This pretty much leads on to my point of even mentioning a zombie apocoplaypse. As I sat there, slowly freezing to death, one thing hit my mind: what if I end up like Rick Grimes? Obviously without the awful beard but faced with the same situation: totally alone in a world that’s been properly savaged by an apocalyptic epidemic.

So why does all of this have to do with being vegetarian? I dunno. Probably quite shite to not eat meat during a fight for your life kind of deal.

Day 1

Where to start…

I think anyone whose career or hobby revolves around writing has struck a period of confusion known as writer’s block: not being able to think of what to write. Recently I’d been suffering the same thing, coming up with ideas but never actually forming anything with them which lead to more frustration and lead to more half thought ideas which lead t- you get the picture. On top of this I’m recently just out of a relationship which adds to the stress but somehow out of all of this, clarity eventually occurred.

So I’m going to be vegetarian for a week.

Right there was no real context to that decision but let me explain. The idea popped into my head last week when some ironic beef occurred when a vegan compared the meat industry to the holocaust which unsurprisingly caused a huge backlash for the guy. After venting about how annoyed I was by it, the idea came to me: have I ever tried to go without the likes of bacon in my life? The short answer? No. Long answer? Fuck no. When I realised this, something clicked. With all the stress that I had experienced in the past couple of weeks with college and personal issues, I felt like I had to challenge myself which made me come to this decision plus I thought it would be quite interesting. The first day was nowhere near as difficult as I expected as I discovered a new favourite food: quorn. I’ll leave that to further entries during the week though since I’ll be going to concerts and other events during the week, meaning I can experience how difficult it can really be. I’ll make a promise now that I won’t grow a Kanye ego about it since I don’t need to scare off the few people that can actually tolerate me.

And before you think what I’m doing is odd, just remember there are people on the internet that identify as wardrobes. So yeah.

Favourite Album Covers (Part 1?)

Album covers were originally just flimsy bits of paper to try and protect the shiny goods underneath but they have since evolved into something that musicians can use for their artistic expression. Although many artists tend to go for a bland picture of themselves with an equally as bland background, some musicians have produced some iconic and fantastic artwork. Just so my list doesn’t come across as too bias I’m going to only put one album cover per artist, also this is just some of my favourites so if you don’t agree or don’t see any of your favourites then just drop a message in my ask.

Biffy Clyro – The Vertigo Of Bliss

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With erotic titled tracks like “Toys,Toys,Toys,Choke,Toys,Toys,Toys”, it should be no surprise that the cover, which was created by prolific comic book writer and artist Manera, for the cult Scottish rock band’s second album was equally as erotic and controversial.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz

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A testament to how simplicity can be equally as cool, the New York band’s cover for their critically acclaimed third album is egg-cellent.

Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures

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It wouldn’t be an artwork list without mentioning one of the most iconic album covers of all time, one that features neither the artist’s name or the album name. Undoubtedly cool as well as simple, the set of successive pulses are from the first pulsar ever discovered,PSR B1919+21.

The Strokes – Is This It?

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Even on their debut, the New York band manage to cement their place as one of the coolest bands around. If it wasn’t their music, haircuts or names that done it then it had to be the album cover, one that’s become an all time classic and is instantly recognisable.

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

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EMI have stated that after Atom Heart Mother’s artwork that they knew working with the band would be difficult to work with. Although their previous album Dark Side Of The Moon’s front cover is far more recognisable, Pink Floyd’s artwork for their ninth album is equally as impressive. The image of two men having a handshake whilst one’s on fire is one that any music fan will recognise.

Nirvana – In Utero

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Cobain reportedly wanted to call Nirvana’s follow up album to Nevermind “I Hate Myself And I Want To Die” but thankfully bandmate Novosellic convinced him to change it. Although it would have made for some very odd artwork, In Utero still managed to have some equally as absurd artwork with a toned down title. It might not have the same cult status as Nevermind’s but In Utero still has one of the most odd yet captivating pieces of artwork for an album.

The Horrors – Luminous review

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If I were to point out one aspect that The Horrors seem to excel at, it would have to be reinvention. When their debut Strange House emerged onto the scene, the Gothic sound of it that reeked of Robert Smith’s aura was laughed off by many music fans at the time however these same people immediately regretted doing so once their follow up Primary Colours appeared and was universally lauded by critics and fans alike, appearing with the bands brand new sound that lead many to compare their transformation to the likes of Primal Scream. The Essex boys have placed the technicolour psychedelia sound they’ve been perfecting from previous releases onto the operating table and have meddled with it for their fourth record Luminous and you’d be wrong to say they haven’t done so with some brilliant results.

Case in point? Take the track I See You, the first single the band showcased on Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 show, which radiates a sparkling disco sound that is dangerously close of echoing Simple Minds work. It would be a sure fire single if it weren’t for the track’s long run time but with an energetic 3 minute outro, no one’s complaining. In And Out Sight is another stand out track which features an intro Kavinsky wouldn’t mind adopting and has the pleasure of preceding Jealous Sun which features a strong bass throughout and showcases the band’s ability to shift from different tones throughout this record. Kudos to First Day Of Spring which, although may sound like a lost track from Skying, still fits in incredibly well into the album and sounds fantastic as well as emphasizing frontman Faris Badwan’s voice which has enough uniqueness to allow it to stand out.

If there’s any complaints that can be made it’s that some tracks can sound slightly similar though the same musical palette that the album draws its tracks from helps to create a nice flow which also highlights when the band are entering dark territory with it though this solely comes down to the listener’s perspective. In addition to this, Luminous gives off the vibe that the band are playing it a bit too safe. Even though there has been some slight changes to the sound, there haven’t been enough radical ones to help it feel entirely fresh.

When The Horrors aim for a sound, they more or less do well with it. Luminous, like Skying, shows that the band are capable of doing well with this psychedelic sound. The record’s 51 minute long length has some indie gems that’ll no doubt please fans of the band as well as new listeners. Let’s just hope next time the boys shake up their sound a bit more rather than let it settle.

 

ALBUM REVIEW: TURN BLUE – THE BLACK KEYS

The Black Keys aren’t exactly new to the music scene. In their career that has spanned 13 years, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have released 7 albums that have gathered praise from critics and rock fans alike, most notably their 2010 release Brothers which brought the duo a lot of commercial success as they were now a grammy winning household name. Have the Ohio boys managed to continue their golden run with Turn Blue or has the success finally came to a halt?

One thing that you can rely the Black Keys delivering the goods on is production values and Turn Blue isn’t any different. Co-Producer Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton returns to lend a helping hand after assisting on El Camino and Brothers and his involvement really shows, managing to use the band’s blues rock canvas and fine stroking every detail that adds to the artistic brilliance of this album. This isn’t just a one man effort like it may have been back when the band started off as Auerbach and Carney are well regarded producers themselves with Dan assisting the likes of Lana Del Rey while Patrick has helped with lower profile bands like The Sheepdogs. You’d expect too many producers meddling with the sound to spoilt it but it does just the opposite.

After 8 albums, you’d expect Auerbach and Carney’s quality song-writing and talent to slip somewhat but you’d be wrong. The title track manages to highlight Auerbach’s falsetto voice’s finesse which prowls after Carney’s pitter patter drums which help to create a song that’s large in scale and one that needs to be listened through earphones, as advised by the duo, to really experience every fine detail that it captivates. Fever, the record’s first single, has an almost cyborg sounding background noise at the start and the rest of the track is just as interesting, showing the duo’s funkiness and an organ melody that once you’ve heard, you’ll fall in love with instantly. In Time features some ghostly vocals that are weirdly seductive sounding at the same time, as if Patrick Swayze somehow made his way onto the track. One of Turn Blue’s highlights has to be opening track Weight Of Love that has an intro so reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s Speak To Me/ Breathe that you can see the 70’s influence escaping from your earphones. At 7 minutes long, it ‘s dangerously close to overstaying it’s welcome but its absence would definitely be one that would be missed.

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Other critics, I’m looking at you NME, might complain that Turn Blue isn’t like the band’s previous outings but when an alteration of the formula sounds as funky, psychedelic and overall amazing as Black Key’s latest record is, is that really a bad thing? The duo’s golden run is still continuing and at this rate, it’ll be one to make Dorothy herself jealous.

Paolo Nutini – Caustic Love review

Paolo Nutini is a hard one to pigeon hole. While most artists find a sound that serves them well and stick to it for album after album, the Paisley born singer song-writer continues to delve into different genres in each of his album releases with his debut These Streets containing a nice blend of Pop and Rock whilst his follow up Sunny Side Up expertly blended R&B and Ska like a Kenwood smoothie maker. After a five year hiatus though, has he managed to keep this trend and quality up?Image

The answer? Of course he has. All you have to do is listen to Iron Sky, one of the album’s finest tracks which is a beautiful blend of both soul and raw compassion that highlights Nutini’s trademark raspy voice that never ceases to amaze you throughout the album’s 13 track duration. Opening track Scream (Funk My Life Up) is an upbeat, funk infused song reminiscent of the sound of James Brown whilst Numpty mixes it up with a more frisky sound and a chorus that’ll inscribe itself into your head after a few listens.

However, where Caustic Love really shines is when Nutini infuses this amazing soul sounds with personal lyrics which he delivers in an apologetic sound. Point in case? The track One Day, which follows up the interlude every RnB album needs, has Paolo saying all the corners of our pictures are a long time afraid, they still symbolize what you mean to me”, showcasing his ability to tap into the deep emotional reserves that allow this track to stand out. The closing track Someone Like You is another example of these lyrics with a much simpler sound which makes for a peaceful and nonchalant conclusion.Image

Some may lump Nutini unknowingly alongside other artists like James Blunt and James Morrison just because he plays guitar and sings. With Caustic Love, Nutini showcases talent that is unparalleled to any other solo artist in Britain today and one that’s bound to develop and improve after each successive record. So sit back, put your earphones on and enjoy the soulful sound that’ll transport you to the 80’s, no DeLorean needed.

Top 10 Controversial Music Videos

Ever since Video Killed The Radio Star debuted on MTV over 30 years ago, music videos have became a huge canvas for artists to express their creativity but just in the same way that violent movies rile up the media and parents, so to can certain music videos. Some are odd yet creative while others are just plain weird and this list serves up mainly the latter.

Nirvana – Heart Shaped Box

It wouldn’t be a music controversy list without Nirvana now, would it? The first single off the band’s record In Utero came along with a music video that would be sure to creep out some of their mass following that they had accumulated thanks to their previous album Nevermind. Twisted Wizard of Oz imagery, crucifixion and a girl donning Klu-Klux Klan attire were all present in this video that received some surprising positive feedback from critics and helped the band to win two MTV Music Video Awards that year.

Pearl Jam – Jeremy

It’s hard to believe that the ever popular and influential Pearl Jam were relatively unknown at one point but in 1992 that was exactly the case. Their debut Ten was a slow mover but their third single Jeremy managed to gain a lot of attention due to the accompanying music video. Filmed by Mark Pellington, the powerful video is notoriously known for its re-enactment of an incident where a schoolboy shot himself in front of his class which led to the swift removal of the scene though blood can still be seen on the classmates clothes. The public attention that the video gained helped Pearl Jam to become mainstream rock stars overnight and the band haven’t looked back on it.

Eminem – Stan

Eminem isn’t one to shy away from controversy. Be it his sometimes violent, sexist and homophobic lyrics or being blamed for the suicide of a teenager, the rapper never seems to be out of the public eye. This wasn’t any different with the music video Stan which tells the tale of a deranged fan who commits suicide and was plagued with heavy censorship due to the violent language and scenes though this didn’t stop it becoming one of the best known music videos or one of Slim Shady’s best selling tracks.

Marilyn Manson – (s)AINT

Often called the most violent and controversial music video of them all, it should be no surprise that the artist in question is none other than heavy metal musician Marilyn Manson who’s been blamed by the media for inspiring the events of the Columbian High School Massacre due to his violent lyrics. Although the media clearly tried to use him as a scapegoat in this incident, the music video for his song (s)AINT was so violent and controversial that it was never broadcasted, most likely due to its dark, bloody and sex filled scenes that make up the video. These scenes include Manson self harming, masturbating and taking heroin.

MIA – Born Free

Possibly the most odd video on this list, the accompanying short film for the British rapper’s single Born Free depicts a genocide against Red Haired people and barely lasted a day on Youtube. Although it’s still available on some sites, it’s still pretty harrowing to see scenes reminiscent of the holocaust in a music video.

The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up

You could probably guess that this would be on the list from the title alone. Featuring scenes of drug taking, sex with hookers and female violence, it’s no surprise that this received backlash from feminists and was initially banned from TV though demand by fans saw MTV start to air the video late at night.

Korn – A.D.I.D.A.S

Seeing as the title stands for All Day I Dream About Sex, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that this one features some eyebrow raising scenes. This video full of vulgar lyrics contains post mortem pictures of the lead singer in woman’s clothes and body-bag dancing with no sports advertisement.

Tool – Prison Sex

Although it might be a relief to hear there’s no soap dropping scenes, this video for the band’s debut single is still incredibly creepy. The plot revolves around a white humanoid, almost robot like doll who goes catatonic when confronted by a larger black humanoid who proceeds to fondle him with a paintbrush. MTV quickly removed the video after a few viewings due to the symbolism of child abuse though the art direction was still applauded by critics.

Aphex Twin – Come To Daddy

Seeing as it’s appeared on various “100 Scariest Moments of TV” lists, it should be no surprise that this one is a bit creepy. Filmed in the same estate that Stanley Kubrick’s classic A Clockwork Orange was, the video includes a gang of small children with Richard D James’ face wreaking havoc while an evil spirit emerges who’s face is very much nightmare worthy.

Smashing Pumpkins – Try, Try, Try

The band had a very different approach to this video which only featured lead singer Corgan sitting in a chair while the video showed a sad tale about two homeless drug addicts who are soon to be parents. The video juxtaposes the upbeat music with graphic footage of a drug overdose, prostitution, and larceny and although there is a brief happy perfect family segment, this soon takes an extreme turn for the worst. No matter what ending you see, the video is still chilling and extremely moving.

Foster The People – Supermodel review

Hype is a double-edged sword. Bands like The Strokes have suffered from receiving an extreme amount of acclaim in the early part of their careers which results in unrealistic expectations for future releases. Mark Foster declared that he had “created a monster” when reflecting back on Foster The People’s smash hit Pumped Up Kicks. For a song that has a dark plot about a high school kid who guns down his classmates, it sold over five million copies and made the band a household name. Unfortunately the never ending airplay meant that many people eventually got aggravated by the song and didn’t check out the band’s debutTorches.

                     The LA band’s second album replaces the bright and care free nature that could cause sunburn from their debut with something a bit more toned down. Pseudolgia Fantasy is a good example of this which shows Foster’s chirpy voice layered over a psychedelic sound that descends into white-noise chaos. Lead single ‘Coming of Age’ is one of the stronger tracks on offer which shows off a variety of resonate synths and harmonies that’ll be welcome addition to the band’s setlist on their inevitable future tours. Last but by no means least ‘Best Friend’ is the best track on offer, something that wouldn’t go amiss on Torches, but what’s most impressive is its masterful blend of falsettos, guitars and bass that are all reminiscent of bands like the Bee Gees that, in addition to the production values, help the track to truly shine.

                                                                                   Unfortunately the whole album isn’t as much fun the whole way through. Tracks like Goats In Trees feel slightly out of place and are pretty much unforgettable. Unfortunately this makes up most of the latter half of the album and makes Supermodel feel pretty anti-climatic.

The second album has proved to be difficult for various bands and those who have produced sugary sweet indie debuts like The Ting Tings have stumbled up and disappointed when it comes to this task. Although Supermodel isn’t Foster The People’s equivalent to Total Life Forever, it’s still a good album in its own right.

Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow

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It’s odd to think that five years ago “I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose” was released and made music lovers aware of four boys who were not just an alternative to the Arctic Monkeys who dominated the indie rock scene at the time but were an act that had a lot of potential to make it big in the genre. With the help of “So Long, See You Tomorrow”, the band have not only utilised their potential but have made the transition from polite and shy newcomers to a band that radiating with confidence and stylish flare.

 

Bombay Bicycle Club are not a band that sticks to the one sound (their back catalogue consists of blues, folk and pop) so it shouldn’t be a surprise that this album isn’t an exception to this trend. Home By Now is an RnB infused track with a layer of extravagant vocals from lead singer Jack Steadman, who’s travels abroad have been a factor in helping the band to find a sound that is worth sticking to, and provides a stellar vocal performance throughout this record.If you think that RnB is an odd sound for BBC to be sampling then just wait around for a few tracks and you’ll come across Feel, a track that’s intro wouldn’t go amiss in a Bollywood film, that sounds as strange as it does brilliant.

 

Despite all the new tweaks to their ever changing music formula, BBC have more success with tracks that have a subtle pop sound to them. Take for example the first single off the album Carry Me that features a massive sing-along chorus that will be sure to make an appearance during the band’s upcoming tour and any upcoming that the band, hopefully, will be attending. Luna also shares these same traits, propelled by female vocals and a relaxed beat that help to make it one of the best tracks on offer.


Whilst we all wait apprehensively for Steadman to don a quiff and leather jacket (we’ve all seen what confidence can do to a frontman), fans of the band can relax knowing that the boys have cemented themselves as one of the best in the current wave of British indie bands.