Review: Bring Me The Horizon, O2 Academy, Glasgow – November 24th 2015

2015 is undeniably the biggest year for Sheffield band Bring Me The Horizon, in no small part to their latest album That’s The Spirit which reached number two in the UK album charts after they ditched their old metalcore sound for a less aggressive rock approach. After a dramatic change to the band’s dynamic on 2013 album Sempiternal, this alteration to appeal to a wider group of music fans was inevitable and has ultimately paid off with arguably the best album of their career (you can read my thoughts about it here).

So what better way to celebrate a huge career by putting on some of the biggest shows of your career. Oli Sykes and Co. started off their UK tour in none other than Glasgow, more specifically the O2 Academy which somehow managed to accommodate the gigantic number of fans that filled up so much of the street that there had to be security to manage the flood of enthusiastic fans.

I suppose it was foreshadowing to have the security on show though as the night was full of death walls and mosh pitting that would have even a veteran bouncer quivering in his short sleeved shirt. Opening song on That’s The Spirit Doomed conveniently opened the set as an LED screen behind reacted in real time to what was happening, be it the heartfelt lyrics or the blaring synths that rocked the venue to its core.

The band didn’t left up as Happy Song had the night’s first incident of anarchy as fans bashed one another to one of the best breakdowns witnessed at a concert, only stopping to catch a breath near the last few seconds to chant the name of their latest album. There was also True Friends that appeared on the set list, showcasing an orchestra orientated backing track as the band jumped in unison throughout the song, no doubt down to the band’s daily workout routine that they revealed in last week’s NME.

    

Also revealed in that same interview was the band’s love of gaming that helps fill in the time between gigs. This love could also be felt when a barrage of old tracks were played, specifically Shadow Moses which references the location off the game Metal Gear Solid as well featuring a similar vocal arrangement to a track featured off the game’s soundtrack. The audience screaming “this is Sempiternal” was a spine chilling experience as you felt the second hand pain of the mosh pitting anarchy that ensued.

There was also Sleepwalking that featured a minimalistic yet haunting opening that carried throughout the performance, accomapnied by some glimpses of the band’s earlier sound which made older fans feel nostalgic, especially when Chelsea Smile made an appearance.

  
 The performance itself was utterly flawless, showing that Bring Me The Horizon have managed to convince those who once criticised them as being generic while still staying true to their roots. The only gripe I have, which if you follow me on social media you’ll know already, is the fans themselves who had their phones oht throughout the entire gig, tainting what was an amazing performance by having to witness it through an iPhone 5 screen.

A few years back I would have called you stupid for saying Bring Me The Horizon were potential headliners but after Tuesday’s performance, they’ve proved that they’re in a league of their own. Don’t be surprised if you see them rocking the top of a festival line up sometime soon.

CHVRCHES – Every Open Eye review

You’d think with the overwhelming success of their debut album that Scottish act CHVRCHES would be on their way to spend tons on a new studio to further expand their sound. You’d also think that there was no way an album as simple yet deep as Every Open Eye was recorded in a flat in Glasgow but you’d be wrong. It’s not like we had gazillions of pounds,” said keyboardist Martin Doherty “but there was money there, and rather than blowing it all on a fancier studio or putting it in the pocket of some famous producer, we decided to invest it.”

There’s something amazing about that but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t strike me as a bit worrying as, in the same interview with NME, Doherty said “the only thing we can do to keep winning is not change a single thing.” Does that mean we’d get the same sound that was refreshing back when the band emerged but now has been copied by countless artists since?

To put a long story short; no. Rather than drastically change their sound into something that’s unidentifiable, CHVRCHES have managed to tweak and arguably improve their sound, making a new sound that’s no doubt going to influence other artists just like 2013’s Bones Of What Make You Believe did to the likes of Taylor Swift.

Not that anyone should be surprised. As soon as Leave A Trace was released as the first single of Every Open Eye, it was clear to all that they were onto something just as remarkable as their debut. A tame Lauren Mayberry keeps her cool while singing about those they’ve met who have “took so much for someone so kind” before breaking into an anger-filled chorus accompanied by pinning synths and relentless drumming. It’s no surprise that they’ve described this as their fight song as it’s a track that definitely gets the adrenaline flowing.

The explosive nature found on this track isn’t just limited to one song. Clearest Blue could easily have been a recently discovered Depeche Mode song with a synth riff taking more than enough from their popular single Just Can’t Get Enough. Accompanied by some great, catchy lyrics such as “holding to a hope you’ll undermine,never to be reversed”, the song stands out as one of the best on the album.

It’s not all loud synths and aggression though. In fact a lot of the album manages to keep quite calm and collected which might disappoint those who were fans of their energetic tracks like Lies and We Sink from their previous release but that doesn’t mean that the tracks that take their place aren’t worthy of filling in their boots.

In fact some of the best tracks on Every Open Eye are the more timid tracks like High Enough To Carry You Over with Doherty taking the helm of singing. With various loops and soft sounding synths scattered around, it’s the closest thing resembling Under The Tide and acts more like a stagnant wave than a barrage of water but this is one of the moments where CHVRCHES feel like, well, CHVRCHES. Every member brings something to the table and it feels like what a proper band are meant to feel like: a collection of vital members rather than just Lauren Mayberry and two blokes making sounds on a keyboard.

It’s not easy to follow up your debut album. Regardless if it was the best thing ever created in the history of music or forgettable rubbish, everyone has their attention solely on you to see what you’ll do to fix or improve what you’ve already created. With every eye open and focused on CHVRCHES, they’ve made it well worth the wait and there’s no doubt that, when mixed with their previous tracks, the band will put on a show like no other.

So what are your thoughts on Every Eye Open? Love it? Hate it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below since I’d love to see what you thought of it. Also don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @blinkclyro for some more fanboying.

Jamie XX – In Colour review

The XX are without a doubt one of the most divisive bands to come out in the last 5 years. Ever since they came onto the scene in 2010 with their eponymous titled debut album  and managed to beat big name artists like Biffy Clyro and Foals for the prestigious Mercury Prize award, they’ve managed to split opinions right down the centre. Some call their music simple yet creative whilst others cast it off as nothing but coffee shop music but there’s something that both sides can agree on and that’s Jamie XX.

jamie-xx-web

The 26 year old, whose real name is Jamie Smith, is hard to fault when it comes to his skills as a producer and remix artist. To many it seemed like his work with his main band The XX was limiting his range since, as lovely as the stripped back sound of both their debut album and follow up Coexist was, 2011 remix album We’re New Here showed how much potential the London born lad had. With an expert blend of various styles, even managing to pull of the Marmite sound of Dubstep, the sheer range of XX’s abilities were fascinating to anyone wise enough to give the album a listen to when it came out.

Now with 2 albums with his main band under his belt alongside his remix album, Jamie XX should surely feel ready to face the challenges that this hype he has accumulated over the past few years will have set up for him. Although there had been singles released and sprinkled about the place in the months preceding In Colour’s release this week, I managed to wait and experience this album just yesterday. Any worries anyone had can be  confidently laid to rest.

jamie-xx-2-rizlab (1)

Icelandic musician Bjork once said that if there’s no soul in electronic music that it’s because nobody put it there and this is something that Jamie XX had liked the sound of in an interview with factmag but in his full length solo debut album he’s managed to defy such a statement. As soon as Gosh, the opening track to In Colour, starts up, you can tell you’ve just stuck on something that’s about to change your opinion on electronic music. Although he has over 5 years experience in this industry, XX approaches this single with the enthusiasm of someone who’s just picked up their very first synthesiser. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh/ Easy, easy/ All it down, all it down are hardly mind blowing lyrics but that’s not XX’s aim: his music has always been simple but at the same time music that you could listen to over and over again and pick out something new in the track that you love. The lyrics themselves are pulled from an unaired episode of the BBC 1 DJ Program One In The Jungle which is very fitting for the track and sets the bar for the quality of the music to come on the rest of the LP.

The sampling on this record has to be praised as it’s very difficult to take a piece of music and warp and use it in such a way that it pleases not only first time listeners but those who have memories with the sample in question. Sleep Sound, which starts off with a ring that’ll probably make you jump up to check the phone, samples Four Freshmen’s It’s A Blue World, a track that is mesmerising by itself with its beautiful harmony. Jamie acknowledges this and knows what he’s working with, delicately editing the piece and letting it float about in ambience and airy synth sounds.

rizlab-jamiexx-quayola_08

Although the sound is the star on this album, it would be a crime not to give some credit to the wonderful vocal performances. SeeSaw has Jamie reunited with fellow bandmate Romy, her soft spoken and beautiful voice clicking in to place with the equally as gentle sound provided on the track. The sound is almost up in the air which is also fitting seeing as the subject of the song is heartbreak, a topic that Jamie’s band have not been afraid to touch upon in the past. The uncertainty of the person in the song’s future as she watches a past loved one experience happiness is something that the listener can relate to, whether it be something happening to them personally or if they themselves feel uncertain about what Jamie will throw at them next. I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) is probably this track to the latter. Featuring rapper Young Thug and PopCaan, the reggae reminiscent track is a change of pace from the rest of the album yet doesn’t seem to out of place. In Colour traverses through different genres and sounds but although the thought of these three artist collaborating sounds awful initially, the result is the two rappers providing the required energy while still keeping themselves grounded.

Jamie_InCol_Cover_4000_020315_935bcd22-857f-4f34-8147-459668cdecdb

2015 has been a great year for certain genres, especially Hip-Hop with the likes of Kendrick, Drake and Death Grips helping to revitalise a genre many thought was going to grow stale. The brilliant thing about In Colour is how difficult it is to pigeon hole. It’s been described by some reviewers as a rave album and some tracks like the aforementioned Gosh could imply that it is such an album. However each track can be interpreted in so many and the term “electronic” is so vague that it’s almost insulting. Whether you think it’s a rave album, a techno one or even a semi reggae one for some reason, you’re both right and wrong. One thing is for sure though and that’s that you’ll definitely be in the latter if you decide to give this album a skip.

If you’re part of a band or are an individual artist then don’t hesistate to contact me below so I can check out your music etc. ☺
Twitter
Facebook

Chvrches – The Bones Of What You Believe

image

Now this album could have gone horribly wrong. Chvrches could have produced a bland album with repetitive and dull songs and been a total let down from the potential they had shown on their previous EP’s as well the hype they had accumulated on the music scene.Thankfully this is not the case with The Bones Of What You Believe being an exceptionally refreshing piece of music from the three-piece Glaswegian band.

        Instead of rambling through the tracks that are on offer on this album, I’ll just give a few favourites of mine on TBOWYB. The second track We Sink has a ridiculously catchy chorus and shows off the great talent of Iain Cook and Martin Doherty who have selected a great pallete of sounds with Lauren Mayberry’s voice gracefully fitting in and never feeling out of place. Gun, the following track which previously has been on its self titled EP, retains the same traits as the preceding track which creates a strong introduction for the album. Tether goes in a different direction by replacing the vibrant beats with more calming bursts of synthesizers with Mayberry providing a calm and confident vocal performance over it which nearer the end becomes likes the previous tracks in the best way possible by introducing the vibrant beats yet again, creating a stand out track which is very much enjoyable. Under The Tide allows a change of vocals which is a welcome change with a lovely production value. Recover is a favourite of mine and is the first track I heard from the band a few months ago and still holds up now with Mayberry’s confident voice fluttering over the resonant and vivid beats which is sure to be the band’s concert gem like The Captain is for Biffy Clyro.

image

The album is by no means a perfect one. Some tracks can feel a bit half hearted and many might feel that the album can feel repetitive at times. However, it does take a lot of guts to release debut album from a band that are relatively new to the majority of the public at the same time as bands from the same genre (MGMT) and popular bands from other genres (Arctic Monkeys) are releasing their albums and thankfully, the band’s unique voice provided by Lauren Mayberry with special kudos to the other two members of the band Ian Cook and Martin Doherty ,who handle the synthesizers for the tracks on this band like any experienced musician would, make this a top notch debut album and gives Chvrches a very promising future.