The Best Gigs of 2017

It’s finally here: no, not Christmas, list season BAYBEE! A culmination of all the good, and bad, that the year has had to offer, we’re kicking things off with some positive content about the live shows that the team loved every second of.

Before we get into each team member’s choice, let’s have a glance at some of the honourable mentions that deserve a shoutout…

The Vegan Leather @ TRNSMT


At a festival with some of the biggest names in music, it goes to show how utterly impressive this Paisley art-rock outfit were at the debut entry of TRNSMT. “Talking Heads meets Yeah Yeah Yeahs meet LCD-Soundsystem” is the only way we managed to describe their sound yet that still doesn’t do The Vegan Leather justice: if you’re lucky enough to have New Years free from work then be sure to boogie on down to see this foursome kill it at King Tuts.


SWAY @ Tenement Trail

Photo Courtesy of Cameron Brisbane | Twitter | Facebook
Photo Courtesy of Cameron Brisbane | Site |Facebook | Twitter

If our accolade of “Best Band At Tenement Trail 2017“, a prestigious award depending on who you ask, wasn’t enough to do SWAY‘s performance at Nice N Sleazy justice then let this be your final telling off. Presenting a beautiful blend of indie rock finesse with shoegaze and pop influences, the Paisley act put on an amazing show featuring great tunes, inflatable footballs and a bloody nose (#PrayForDanDrennan).


Wolf Alice @ Barrowlands

Photo courtesy of Jose Ramon Caamaño | Facebook | Flickr |

Hot off the back of providing one of the best sophomore releases of the decade, lovely London lot Wolf Alice treated their Glasgow fans to not one but two shows at the iconic Barrowlands venue. Playing a healthy dose of the old and the new, along with some golden oldies like Blush, the indie rock outfit show that they deserve every morsel of hype they’ve accumulated over the past few years.

And now, onto the team’s top picks…

Isabella McHardy (@isabellamchardy)Strange Bones @ TRNSMT

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I hadn’t heard of them before but a friend suggested we go see Strange Bones – it was by far my favourite performance of the festival and ultimately the entire year. They played the tiny Jack Daniel’s Jack Rocks tent on the Sunday and it was perfect. They played with such an infectious energy, I couldn’t stop smiling the whole set.

The entire tent was jumping up and down and yelling even if they didn’t know the words. They were probably one of the heaviest bands at the festival but they still managed to pull in such an enthusiastic crowd. The band were crowd surfing and running into the audience throughout the show but no one got tired of it. It was the first gig I had been to in a while where I felt completely ecstatic. After their set, I couldn’t wait to get home so I could go through their discography.

Disappointingly, their EP’s don’t live up to how they perform live, but I would still go see them again just for the atmosphere and the ‘Theresa is a Terrorist’ t-shirts.


Callum Thornhill (@calthornhill) – Sorority Noise, Turnover & Citizen @ Camden Underworld


They say good things come in threes. Wise men. Amigos. So on and so forth. For this ridiculously intimate show; it was American emo icons that arrived as a magnificent trio. Heading to Camden’s Underworld via stunning performances at this year’s Slam Dunk Festival came Citizen and Turnover; ‘supported’ by Sorority Noise.

What made this an incredible line-up was the enthusiasm shared by bands towards other bands, fans to bands and even bands to fans. Splitting the set times evenly, no band took the limelight, however, Sorority Noise were first up to get things going. With third LP, You’re Not as _____ as You Think released earlier this year, it was the first time many fans had heard tracks such as Car and No Halo; Cameron Boucher even recited Manchester Orchestra’s I Can Feel a Hot One ahead of No Halo. These new, heartfelt ballads combined with golden older tracks, e.g Nolsey and Using, made Sorority Noise the perfect opener.

Turnover were next up and thankfully, and I am sure fellow fans will agree, they decided to play a set full of classics rather than cramming their set full of Good Nature tracks. Peripheral Vision dominated the setlist with the crowd singing along to everything from Cutting My Fingers Off to the iconic Dizzy on the Comedown. A mellow atmosphere greeted the Virginia outfit, who took it in their stride to engage in a chilled out yet passionate vibe.

‘Headlining’ for the evening were Ohio/Michigan alt-rockers Citizen. Brutally belting out The Summer instantly showed what was about to unfold. The highlight of the set was How Does it Feel? purely because the dark, moody atmosphere perfectly complemented the pitch black surrounding of the Underworld. Giving Yellow Love and Cement air-time before The Night I Drove Alone closed their slot, Citizen gave a stunning performance to cap off an amazing night of bands from across the pond.

To conclude, good things do come in threes, and this line-up does nothing but emphasise that fact.

Ethan Woodford (@human_dis4ster) – Gorillaz @ Hydro, Glasgow


In a year where I finally saw some of my all-time favourite bands (Radiohead, The Libertines) as well as seeing some old friends again (Wolf Alice, Basement), every gig stuck out in my mind but none more so than the Gorillaz‘s massive show at the Hydro.

Having been desperate to see them for years, it was such a joy to hear some of my favourite songs sung back by thousands of people in unison. Damon Albarn was in top form, a massive smile barely leaving his face except when he was stood at the edge of the stage trying to look menacing during Clint Eastwood. It’s commendable a man of his talent and success is still so humbled by fans singing his lyrics and his constant gratitude to his many guests and backing band members made for a wholesome sight. 

Speaking of his guests, they only added to the spectacle, from De La Soul to the show-stealing Vince Staples, each guest injected even more energy to the atmosphere and by midway through the set, the entire crowd was bouncing,

A truly mesmerising gig that had me smiling for the rest of the night after, Damon Albarn and his friends deserve the crown of best live show of the year.

Ryan Martin (@ryanmartin182) – Childish Gambino @ Radio City Music Hall

Photo Courtesy of Bradley Robinson

Seeing Childish Gambino co-headline an event at Radio City Music Hall with Dave Chappelle was truly something special but after his announcement earlier this summer that he would be retiring after his next album, it truly made the concert something to be cherished forever.

Being a massive Donald Glover fan, I had never seen him perform live as Childish Gambino except for a small radio show festival performance where he only did his biggest hits before exiting. Gambino at Radio City Music Hall exceeded my expectations from the multi-talented performer. He performed the majority of his new album Awaken My Love with the help of a full band, backup singers, and an incredible display of lights and visuals.

Hearing AML live without the vocal effects made for an entirely new experience of the album. The album sounded fresher, more exciting and more fun live. Gambino’s performance was incredible, filled with passionate shrieks reminiscent of Prince in his prime. He showcased his dancing skills throughout the set and was all over the stage, even moonwalking at one point.

Gambino’s decision to perform most of AML with exception to 3005, Sweatpants and Sober really showed how much Gambino has matured in recent memory and how he is beginning to grow out of most of his discography. This could be a partial reason for his decision to retire the Childish Gambino moniker and will almost surely affect his future touring schedule. One thing is for sure, if Gambino stops by your area, be sure not to miss out.

Andrew Barr (@weeandreww) – Frank Ocean @ Parklife

Photos Courtesy of Parklife

Here lies the critical irony; my favourite show of the year, Frank Ocean’s surreal headline slot at Parklife festival could scarcely be considered a performance, serving as more of a glimpse into the elusive star’s psyche.

When Ocean stuttered onto the stage 40 minutes late and restarted opener Solo 3 times, it looked like his long-awaited live return could end in spectacular failure, however, Ocean managed to claw it back in a way only he could. His confidence and stage presence grew throughout the set dominated by Blonde and Endless material, and by the time he walked offstage during the Korean verse on the alt version of closer Nikes, it was clear; this wasn’t a show for everyone, but one that the many diehard Ocean fans will never forget.

Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr) – Run The Jewels & Danny Brown @ O2 Academy

Photo Courtesy of Ryan Johnston | Facebook | Site


It shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone that this gig was a highly anticipated one for myself: Run The Jewels and Danny Brown are both Album Of The Year winners, in our 2014 and 2016 lists respectively, so the prospect of seeing both acts in the one night was too good to pass up.

It was no disappointment (I mean, it’s on this list, isn’t it?) as the Detroit king of rap Danny got things underway, storming through his impressive discography with some running man dancing and what can only be described as an intimate strip show for the thousands in attendance. Tracks from his magnum opus Atrocity Exhibition got just the reaction he must have expected, provoking a wave of moshing and rapping from the enthusiastic crowd.

Not to be outdone, RTJ made their way to the stage (albeit a bit late) and from start to finish, they undoubtedly affirmed why they were a force to be reckoned with. Not only that but there was a great deal of duality on show: Killer Mike is an absolute monster when he’s on the mic but the amount of compassion and love shown between songs, from a speech about mental health to a big fuck you to groping at gigs, the man is like Sully if he had an abundance of sick bars. Don’t worry El, I haven’t forgotten about you; RTJ is a two man show after all and if it weren’t for the bounciness, crassness and sheer bragadociousness of El-P then it just wouldn’t be the same.

Danny even showed up for his verse on Hey Kids, wearing only his underwear as the O2 Academy witnessed not only Mike giving the audience a glimpse of his ass, but two of the best acts on the fucking planet: and the crowd goes…

Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh) – Gorillaz @ Hydro, Glasgow

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Photos Courtesy of Getty Images


While I was ever so slightly underwhelmed by Damon Albarn and his band of merry primates’ latest effort Humanz (DO YOU GET IT BECAUSE GORILLAZ?) I still jumped at the chance to see them live at The Hydro when the gig was announced earlier and the year. And I’ll tell you something, I’m bloody glad I did.

Gorillaz live are a different beast entirely from Gorillaz on record. There’s something of a more immediate urgency about them in a live setting, particularly in the vocals of head gorilla Damon “I Love Witches” Albarn. I’ve never seen Blur live in person, but I’ve seen my fair share of their sets from the comfort of my own computer chair and Albarn seems to turn everything up to 11 when he’s performing under the Gorillaz banner. Gone is the subdued, mild-mannered, middle-class Englishman that belts out Tender with a quiet confidence, instead he’s replaced by a grown man doing his best impression of an actual Gorilla. To put it bluntly, when Damon Albarn is in Gorillaz mode, he is a fucking nutter. He jumps around the stage with a reckless abandon, screaming in innocent concert goers in the front row like a man possessed by a pure primal force. It’s a joy to watch.

As are the rest of his band, I was blown away by how flipping CHUNKY everything sounded in a live setting. The bass was lovely and sludgy, both drummers played flawlessly and the keys were whimsical one moment and downright demonic the next. Then came the guests: Bootie Brown, Zebra Katz, Vince Staples, DE LA BLOODY SOUL were all there in the flesh and it was chuffing magnificent.

I’d wanted to see Gorillaz in some capacity for over a decade, and holy fuck me did they deliver. This ranks as not only one of my gigs of the year but genuinely one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to. So thank you, Damon and company, you bunch of fucking lunatics. We wouldn’t have you any other way.

Rory McArthur (@rorymeep) – King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard @ Albert Hall, Manchester


If you know me, this choice won’t come as a surprise; I may or may not have a little bit of a thing for this band. This was my fourth time seeing King Gizzard, but this was the first time it properly hit me how unfathomably incredible they are live. From the tried and trusted old favourites to the, at that point in the year at least, new microtonal tracks, everything went down an absolute storm with a suitably energetic crowd. The electricity inside the Albert Hall that evening was honestly breathtaking. I don’t think there’s another rock band in the world right now that can put on a show quite like Gizz. If they’d have decided to play all night long, I wouldn’t have minded one bit. 

Kieran Cannon (@kiercannon) – Protomartyr & Oh Boland @ CCA, Glasgow

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Protomartyr’s third visit to Glasgow in as many years takes place at Sauchiehall Street’s pre-eminent creative hub, the Centre for Contemporary Arts. Incidentally, this occasion marks their first time playing above ground in the city; apt, considering their meteoric rise from the underground to the forefront of contemporary post-punk, a sort of symbolism that isn’t lost on despair extraordinaire Joe Casey.

Joking that it’s a sign they’re finally moving up in the world, his self-depreciating humour is disingenuous to their cerebral yet deeply enjoyable brand of music. Turning up on stage without further ado, the band launch straight into lead single My Children. Casey’s appearance, grey-suited and formal, carries as little extravagance as his vocal delivery: barking and authoritative, the right level of Angry Da but never unintentionally bombastic. 

Audience interaction is sporadic and generally kept to a minimum, save for a few amusing exchanges; however,  such was the level of quality and electrifying atmosphere that the crowd quickly began dancing of their own volition. In contrast to the chaos of Casey’s performance, Greg Ahee’s guitar work is a controlled explosion of riffs and inventive, often unexpected chord changes complemented by a captivating dynamic between himself, bassist Scott Davidson and drummer Alex Leonard, whose stellar percussion work underpins every track, relentlessly propelling forward. While leaning fairly heavily on their latest material, Protomartyr nevertheless treated veteran fans to plenty of classics including two tracks from their oft-overlooked debut. 

Support act Oh Boland, covering the spot regrettably vacated by Sauna Youth, proved a worthy opener, commendably navigating one or two technical glitches to produce exactly the kind of high-octane introduction needed to prepare everyone for what lay ahead.

Gregor Farquharson (@grgratlntc) – The LaFontaines & The Dykeenies @ Barrowlands


Having a gig at The Barrowlands is a massive achievement for any band. Tonight, The LaFontaines were ready to unleash their chaotic, charisma filled live show to the sold-out Glasgow crowd. The buzz in the buildup to the performance was surreal, with fans everywhere eager to see the fonts once again.

The band tasked with getting the crowd ready? The recently reformed The Dykeenies. The band played a good 50 odd minute set, with highlights being Waiting for Go and Sounds Of The City. The fans were ready and The Dykeenies job was done with success and the fonts took to the stage.

Opening up with Slow Elvis and going straight into Junior Dragon, the atmosphere was something else. The bands unique sound works beautifully live and the feeling in the crowd was magical. New songs Common Problem and Hang Fire went down great with the crowd, proving the band are not just a one album wonder and that their second full length is doing wonders.

If anything, this gig proved that The LaFontaines are going to get even bigger than what they already are. If they keep up the work rate and live shows they have going, it’s a bright future for the band that are already seen as Scottish heavyweights.


Tilly O’Connor (@tilly_oconnor) – Gorillaz @ Hydro, Glasgow

Photo Courtesy of Aidan | Source

With the Autumnal gig season drawing do a close, I saw Gorillaz at the Hydro in Glasgow. As someone who normally consumes live music in dive bars, the stadium’s sheer size was daunting, even if it’s sticky floor felt like home. The crowd was full of groups of families with grownup-kids near my age. My parents got me into Gorillaz young and I credit them with playing a part in shaping my current tastes in music, visual arts and even politics. The group has always been all-encompassing, and their 29th November gig was no different.

The band rattled the room with M1 A1. This was followed by Albarn, mic in hand, asking the 13,000 strong crowd if we were the last living souls. These songs from the band’s earlier work set the tone for the rest of the show, as it would feature hits peppered with memorable album tracks. A high point for me was Dirty Harry. The live performers were accompanied by a disjointed choir of cartoon South Park-esque kids singing the chilling chorus to the delight and discomfort of all watching. The band’s alter egos played a huge part in the engulfing feeling of the show. Carrying out heists and racing games, 2-D, Murdoch, Noodle and Russell Hobs reached deeper into our collective consciousness, pulling out gleefull pockets of nostalgia, providing the perfect backdrop for the night’s music.

Along with visuals, the main band were accompanied by a vast amount of guest performers, most notably the hip-hop trio De La Soul who feature on one of the bands most famous songs – Feel Good Inc.

Hong Kong was the first encore song, and it provided the most haunting musical moment of the night. The song which plays heavily on imagery surrounding neon lights and electricity was spontaneously met with thousands upon thousands of glowing phone lights, bringing the previously black room to an eery yellow which shined down Damon Albarn’s face. Singing to us, an army of smartphone welding fans, with a wry smile “All the people in a dream, Wait for the machine” he brought the night towards its end. This scene felt stunningly fitting for a band who have continuously captured the zeitgeist. From their self-titled debut in 2001 to this year’s Humanz, the group have always painted a vivid picture of the world in the 21st century.

Will Sexton (@willshesleeps) – Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes @ O2 Academy, Bristol

Photos Courtesy of Ashlea Bea | Twitter

Now I know what you might be thinking, “ooh pick the latest gig you went too” but people who are thinking that obviously have never seen Frank Carter live. The stage presence of this man is electric all in itself and arriving on stage with an absolute roar of noise and appreciation is so magical every single time. Frank has had a bit of a tough year but you wouldn’t have ever guessed, coming back from tonsillitis and taking a small break to help recover from the incredible work he has done over the last three years which was very well respected amongst the fans.

He came back with a total bang and every song from Primary Explosive right to I Hate You were electric. Filled with moshing and inspirational speeches about girls feeling safe at gigs, mental health and just straight up appreciation of us, it was a magical night!

Dominic Cassidy (@lyre_of_apollo) – The Mountain Goats @ The Art School, Glasgow

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The Mountain Goats were awaited by the crowd with bated breath and I’d be lying if I said I was not amongst their number, in terms of the mob or the state of breath. North Carolina based folk rockers The Mountain Goats – consisting of the ever-present singer-songwriter John Darnielle and multi-instrumentalist Matt Douglas – ascend to the stage accompanied by cries of devotion from the loving Glasgow crowd. Opening with Have to Explode, the cheers and whooping give way to absolute silence. When the song ends so does the hush, the hanging silence expelled with thankful applause.

Honestly, for me the gig was a beautiful exhibition of long-crafted skill and art, showing how well playing to the crowd can be done. The innate crowd interaction from John Darnielle who was loving the little stand-up bits, made the night all the more special. If you have not seen The Mountain Goats live, I can recommend nothing more, and if you have never heard them, I would start now; on The Sunset TreeTallahassee, or Beat the Champ.


List Season Continues…






Best Tracks Of The Week (Oct 30th – Nov 5th)

Contributions from Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler), Ethan Woodford (@human_dis4ster), Sean Hannah (@shun_handsome) Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

Pinegrove – Intrepid

Unashamedly raw with an enticing, emotionally gooey centre, the latest track from alt-rock New Jersey outfit is one that feels as tight as it does evocative.

With a wide array of beautiful lyrics as well some perfectly natural performances, Intrepid is certain to nuzzle its way into Pinegrove‘s setlists as well as into the heart of anyone willing enough to risk shedding a few tears.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Spray Paint Love

We gave this song the full review treatment but for the sake of its inclusion, here’s a little line or two: a sultry, sleazy track that proves The Rattlesnakes are still full of venom. Screaming riffs coupled with Bon Scott style lyrics make for a dirty dirty.

Flood Manual – Empathy 

We’ve had some very nice things to say about the Manchester boys’ latest EP but a highlight from that release has to be Empathy: a melodic affair that feels pretty delightful with somewhat harsh guitars being pressed together with the aforementioned lovely singing to create a tasty, punky panini a la Weezer.

Keep yer eyes peeled for Flood Manual

N.E.R.D ft Rihanna – Lemon

The Pharrell Williams fronted project’s first single in seven years is a song for 2017; referencing everything from Donald Trump to memes and sampling viral videos, it’s clear the group has plenty of material to work from that they have missed over the years. While the track doesn’t seem to have a clear focus and changes topics several times, it serves well as a comeback.

Announcing its arrival with a massively catchy beat and Pharrell’s flow oozing with A Tribe Called Quest influences, Lemon is exactly what a comeback single should be. Also can Rihanna just have guest verses on everything from now on? Thanks.

Sunflower Bean – I Was A Fool

While it may not be the band’s 22, A Million transformation, Sunflower Bean has managed to craft a charming little track as they make their Mon + Pop label debut. 

“I think this song is a good example of how we’ve grown as a band, while still staying true to the band that first played together back in high school,” is what Nick Kivlin had to say about I Was A Fool and it’s hard to say he’s wrong: restrained in its production, allowing for some gorgeous vocals to take centre stage, it’s a sign of things to come and a relieving one at that.

Ought – These 3 Things

Tim Darcy spent most of 2015’s Sun Coming Down doing his best Mark E. Smith, so it should surprise no one that These 3 Things finds the American-born Canadian transplant moving on to aping Robert Smith.

An angular, 808-driven affair, These 3 Things tracks Ought shifting their influences from the abrasion of late-‘70s post-punk to the dejection of its mid-‘80s predecessor: goth. With his lyrics bordering on Yeatsian, Darcy discovers purpose at the song’s envoy: “I must remember to dance with you tonight/ I must remember I owe my heart.”

Eera – Reflection of Youth

Fervent but subdued, this closing track from EERA‘s debut is a standout, not just due to the fact it’s the most stripped back of the last. Hushed vocals and a laid back guitar are all that is left to be heard as opposed to the harsher structures she has weaved throughout her first LP offering.

While it may sound pretty light, Reflection of Youth is still utterly dazzling, making sure that listeners go out on a delicious, delicate high rather than a messy finale. 

listen to our picks via our swanky wee playlist, updated weekly:

Looking Back At… Colourmeinkindness by Basement

Five years ago today, Basement released their second album Colourmeinkindness. This release was unlike most sophomore efforts as the band had already disbanded by the time of release. Due to personal commitments, the band had decided to go on indefinite hiatus in July 2012, a few months before the release of their album. Being one of the most promising bands in the emo/grunge rock genre at the time, anticipation for the album was already high but once they had announced their split, this undoubtedly raised curiosity over whether the album would be a fitting farewell or the signs of a band at the end of their tether.

When the album finally dropped, it was already an instant classic for many fans. However, the circumstances surrounding the album then couldn’t be further to the contrary today: no longer the final album, Basement have since reformed, toured extensively, released a third album and signed to a new label, and will most definitely be looking to the future with hope. Fortunately, neither situations negate the fact that Colourmeinkindness is Basement’s crowning achievement and will likely always stand as their magnum opus.

Amidst all the chaos and drama, Colourmeinkindness still stands out on its own in a musical sense, not only as a pivotal moment in the band’s career but one of the best albums of its genre. On the Ipswich band’s debut album I Wish I Could Stay Here, they had already established themselves as a solid grunge rock band, with a heavy-hitting album with some flashes of brilliance lyrically and instrumentally. On the follow-up here, they delivered on their potential with an album that covers all the bases when it comes to everything from aggressive grunge to heartbroken emo-rock.

Listening to this album five years on, it’s still hard to think of an album since that so completely defines its genre and explores every aspect of it whilst still sounding so concise. Right from opening track Whole, Basement show their intentions to be heard with a massive opening track that doesn’t sound too dissimilar to anything from their debut, but already sounds a lot punchier and has a distinct raw aggression to it. They keep this momentum going through the next two tracks, the lead singles Covet and Spoiled, both instantly captivating tracks, especially in the case of Covet which features one of the band’s best hooks (When I’m with you, I don’t want to be with you) and shows further skills the band add to their arsenal on this album.

At this point in the album, it’s already evident that the band is at the top of their game, from the energetic drumming to Andrew Fisher’s vocals that transcend from a whisper to a growl without warning, they show they can do anything. This is further shown on the next track, Pine – a sudden change of pace, it is more laid back instrumentally allowing their lyrics to come to the fore, as Fisher admits his darkest thoughts. “Want me, I need you to want me/ I hate myself, but that’s okay“, is an example of a lyric that has lasted for these five years as one any basement fan will remember vividly, and time and time again on this album their lyrics are so simple yet so painfully relatable they can’t help but cut deeper with every listen.

Pine is a prime example of the main theme of colourmeinkindness, the acceptance of sadness. While the lyrics on this track are heartbreaking, the song is so beautiful, showing that Fisher is no longer afraid of these feelings and can talk about them without pain. Just in this short track there is so much depth to it that is rarely found on an album from its genre and for that reason, as well as many others, is why Colourmeinkindness is still relevant today.

The clear highlight on Basement’s second album is Breathe, a track that is not only the best they have ever created but maybe one of the most stunningly heart-wrenching songs ever written. Again the lyrics stand out due to their simplicity, hiding no emotion or pain, but laying it all bare in a song that details a situation almost anyone can relate to and instantly have their heart broken all over again. “Smile, like it was yesterday/ Make me believe that you’re the same” begs Fisher, as he longs for things to be as they once were, knowing that they can’t. As the song goes on to realise, Breathe details such a complex and emotionally distressing situation in such a simple, human way that the track has always stood out as something special.


As Colourmeinkindness stampedes towards its end through hard-hitting tracks such as Black and Control, Basement continue to display such a prowess in their art as the album achieves a complete mastery of its genre. Obviously, at the time when this album was assumed to be their last, it was important to go out on a high, and they most definitely managed it with Wish. Going out on a huge instrumental climax, Basement confirm their album as a true milestone achievement, an album that is easily the pinnacle of its genre in every aspect. An album that manages to explore complex feelings of self loathing and acceptance in such a simplistic manner is something to be admired and even more so for sounding as confident as it does.

Although it may not be the farewell album fans once thought it was, it still stands as Basement’s finest album, a masterpiece that will continue to inspire punk-rock outfits for years to come.

Best Tracks Of The Week (9-15/10/17)

John Keek – If & When

To say that the latest offering from John Keek has a Bon Iver vibe would be putting it lightly: sombre lines floating over beautiful piano riffs with bursts of instrumental entrancement, If + When feels like it would fit perfectly into the band’s most recent record.

Radiant and soothing with its injections of beautiful sax, this song is the perfect companion for any relaxing playlist and will no doubt help Keek nestle his way into the hearts of newcomers.

-Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – Fear Is A Forest 

Three tracks into a record predominantly comprised of understated, breezy folk rock, Fear arrives as a counterpoint to both the rest of the album and the original version of the song penned by Barnett’s wife Jen Cloher. Guest drummer Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint) provides explosive drumming to accompany the brooding guitar riffs, building up to an uplifting crescendo two-thirds of the way into the song.

Barnett’s vocals take centre stage here, adding a certain poignancy to the lyrics considering her relationship to the original songwriter; however, Vile’s backing vocals add a welcome depth. Overall, one of the standout moments of an excellent, nuanced album and a successful first-time collaboration between the two multi-talented songwriters.

-Kieran Cannon (@kiercannon)

Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Walkin In Hawkins

People may know the show for its Stephen King meets Stephen Spielberg influence or its various catchphrases but one of the crucial elements of Netflix’s surprise hit Stranger Things is its music. There’s an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to the first tease of the phenomenon’s second season OST but it’s by no means a disappointment.

The first season was fairly simple with its music and while there’s a definite similarity, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein have subtly tinkered with the dynamic to create something that feels big but familiar – much like Stranger Things itself.

-Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

Roam – While The World Keeps Spinning

Cementing itself on their sophomore album as one of the strongest tracks on offer, this belter of a track goes to show that Roam are constantly pushing boundaries to become an utter behemoth in their field.

Featuring a very catchy chorus, along with some hard-hitting riffs and drums making it a total head bop, the fun and feel good factors of While The World Keeps Spinning goes to show the progression of the UK pop-punk scene, and how it’s continuing to avoid stagnation. 

-Gregor Farquharson (@grgratlntc)

King Krule – Emergency Blimp

Not to spoil the upcoming review of his third album, second under the King Krule moniker, but Archy Marshall has delivered what may very well be his magnum opus. Emergency Blimp is undoubtedly one of the most unique songs on The Ooz, a spine-chilling song about depression that manages to evoke this further with an eerie chunk of feedback that is reminiscent of Aphex Twin’s 90’s horror single Come To Daddy.

With his trademark vocals really delivering the anguish and angst in a way many other artists would struggle to replicate, Archy has not only managed to surprise himself but those who have been there since day one.

-Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

Every Radiohead Album, Ranked From Worst To Best

When you bring up the question of “who are the best band of all time”, more often that not you’ll hear one word uttered: Radiohead. While they’re constantly memed by not only their own fans but the music community at large, their decades spanning discography is full of creative endeavours, from genre defining to genre creating. To commemorate the band’s career thus far, five radiohead fans from the site have put their heads together, voted and have had their say on the best and the worst of his discography.

Quick disclaimer: this is, like, our opinion or whatever, dude. Disagree? The comments down below will house whatever rage you’re feeling. Without further ado, let’s put everything in its right place and get into it…

9. Pablo Honey (1993)


Andrew Barr (@weeandreww): ….erm…it’s got creep I suppose?

Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh): I’d rather go through the pain of killing my da again than listen to Pablo Honey.

Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr): Straight up, not the worst album ever made. I think Radiohead fans overreact when talking about it, it’s by no means great, it’s just a bang average alt rock album.

Harry Sullivan (@radiohedge): It’s undeniable how important creep was in giving them the financial freedom to continue as a band create what they want musically. However, it’s obvious that they were still finding their feet as a band, very symbolic of immaturity (esp. the infamous mtv beach house performance).

Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster): For me, Pablo Honey is FINE, just got some duds but really just sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of their discography.

8. The King Of Limbs (2011)

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E: Right it’s really just a weird one eh, like that one time you wore that horrific jacket for months and looking back on that time in your life you’re just like “why?” this album is alright but really has no impact on radiohead sonically and just seems like a detour for them.

H: It’s a clever album but nowhere near worth the five year waiter, especially after In Rainbows.  They should have just released the last four tracks as an EP – whole LP is too short to bother with and first half is too repetitive.

L: I’ve not made my feelings of this album a secret but the fact I still dislike it in most aspects her own it on vinyl says a lot. I think where most of my dissatisfaction stems from is that it was something new but felt…bland? Or that it at least attempted to be something new but the band never followed up on it and eventually it just feels like a bump in what was previously a pretty smooth ride.

J: An incredibly weird record within the confines of their discography. they kind of regress in sound back towards what they’d already perfected in the Kid A/Amnesiac era. I do think it’s great but I don’t see why it exists for lack of a better term?? it’s got some stunners on it like Codex and Separator but then there’s tracks like Feral and Morning Mr Magpie that are kind of just meh?

E: I respect radiohead a lot for actually bothering to make this album, and perhaps after seemingly peaking on in rainbows, the only way to go was to totally immerse themselves in the unknown.

L: Jake pretty much summed it up there for me, they kind of just wanted to do what they had already perfected which I can’t fault them for as they did attempt to change it up but it’s a step back rather than forward.

7. The Bends (1995)

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L: Right off the bat: My Iron Lung, Fake Plastic Trees and High and Dry are three of my favourite songs by Radiohead so The Bends holds a special place in my heart.

A: I feel like there’s a tendency to look back on the bends with rose-tinted glasses: heard it in live sets (tracks like FPT, Street Spirit and the title track) however when I listened back to it there’s quite a few just “meh” tracks on it.

E: As said, it’s a perfectly good album but knowing what came after it feels like one of their weakest, still worth a listen.

H: Yeah, it’s ood, but still very of the era – I wouldn’t complain if any other band did it but what radiohead are renowned for is their experimentation and there is none of it here – however just and the title track are bangers.

A: However it was a massive massive step up from PH and a record they had to make to eventually make OKC, as previously stated tracks like Street Spirit, Fake Plastic Trees, My Iron Lung and the title track feel like classic Radiohead, the melancholic feel that has characterised their career was even evident on the slow burners.

J: Aye if someone is just getting into Radiohead I think this would be a decent starting point, I’d advise skipping Pablo Honey completely but that’s because I’m a bad boy. There are a fair few bangers on the Bends and all of the tracks are killer live, all in all it’s real good.

6. Amnesiac (2001)

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J: Aw I really like Amnesiac. I think it gets a bad rap. It’s got like 3 of my all time favourite Radiohead tracks on it (Pyramid Song, Knives Out, Like Spinning Plates) so i’ll always hold it in high regard.

E: A strange entry in radiohead’s discography, it really does feel like if it didn’t exist their journey as a band would still flow the same, but at the same time i think there is a lot to be enjoyed about it and if you like radiohead at this time in their career then there’s really not much to dislike.

L: Honestly a great album, the b side meme is good and all but I think that mostly stems from Radiohead trying to constantly change their sound so when they stayed even a bit similar fans got annoyed, it’s really just more of what we all loved.

H: I’d say this is where the band peaked in terms of experimenting – genuinely not a band thing I can say about it, pretty bummed that it’s this low.

A: I fucking love Amnesiac, I feel it’s so easy to forget about but it’s so worth the time it takes to get into it. Tracks like Revolving Doors are some of the most batshit crazy things the band have ever done and they deserve a place on this record.

J: That being said, none of the songs bar Packt Like Sardines maybe would have worked on Kid A imo, so it was smart of them to hold off on the tracks. It’s a really really strong record with some staggeringly weird bits thrown in.

E: You and Whose Army finds Radiohead at their most urgent though and will always be one of my favourite tracks.

A: I love that they made a record which comprises tracks as simple and beautiful as You and Whose Army and Pyramid Song and placed it alongside a track running through the different kinds of doors that exist.

J: Hunting Bears is a belter too, it’s a bit of an anomaly in their back catalogue in the sense that the songs were saved from the cutting room floor but I think it’s a banging record.

5. Kid A (2000)

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J: Kid A is a saucy little bugger of an album. It took me a long time to get into when I started properly getting into Radiohead but i’m glad I stuck with it because it is SPECIAL.

L: Admittedly it took me so long to “get” this album, especially after what had came before. Most of the appeal of it comes from imagining Thom and co going “see what we did last time? Fuck that, let’s try something else” which doesn’t automatically mean that album will be any good but oh fuck did they do it again.

E: Kid A is that album that transitioned radiohead from that band your dad likes to that band your dad used to like before they got “weird” and now your uncle loves them. Such a manic departure from what came before, but so essential once again in leading radiohead to what is to come, but somehow manages to be one of their strongest records at the same time.

A: I don’t know if I’ve ever listened to an album with such a clear atmosphere running through each track, it sounds like the cover makes it sound. It’s sparse, foreign and mechanical but in all of the best ways, and making it after OK Computer cemented Radiohead’s genius.

L: Everything In Its Right Place has and always will make me weirdly uncomfortable, everything from the peculiar instrumentals to Thom’s delivery just has you feeling some kind of way.

H: The national anthem does not belong on this album but that being said, it’s a Krautrock inspired collection of particularly creative tracks. It also arguably contains the best trio of tracks in their discography – idioteque, morning bell, motion picture. soundtrack

J: I adore the fact that they just fucked off the legacy they’d built pre-Kid A and went fucking batshit mental. it took a lot of balls to do that and the fact that it paid off as convincingly as it did is a testament to how good Radiohead truly are

4. A Moon Shaped Pool (2016)

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A: It’s not been out for long enough yet for it truly to be considered as one, but it’s going down as a Radiohead classic.

H: It’s a definite comeback but it’s still past their best imo – that being said identikit and present tense are great tracks and I fucking love them.

L: Undoubtedly the band’s most mature work thus far and easily their most emotional work to date, much like Blackstar it was a great album already but events that surfaced after its release helped it to transcend into something more than most art can ever hope to achieve.

E: The definition of a grower, each track seems to be its own a thing which actually isn’t a bad thing on this album but does maybe signal this may be their final offering but if so it will be an extremely strong farewell which still finds radiohead stretching themselves musically such as on ful stop which is so non-linear it’s a fascinating listen.

L: The band basically limit their palette to this really niche pick of colours (or sounds rather) and achieve this minimalistic beauty of a record – I feel like this with time it’ll age into something really special.

J: I find it really relaxing. tunes like Daydreaming and True Love Waits are really stunning. I often listen to AMSP to help me fall asleep, which isn’t a slight on the record at all. it just puts me in a really relaxed mindset.

A: When you think about it, you think “oh it’s a lot of slow songs with strings and drum machines” but the instrumental variation throughout the record is superb, from the urgency of tracks like Burn the Witch and Ful Stop to ethereally beautiful tracks like Daydreaming and True Love Waits.

J: it has all the characteristics of a Radiohead album but they’ve all been tweaked ever so slightly to make something really unique and special – give it 5 years and this will easily go down as another(!) classic.

3. Hail To The Thief (2003)

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L: I know no album is truly underrated since someone will always love an album but HTTT is truly underrated in the context of Radiohead’s discography.

J: It doesn’t get anywhere near the respect it deserves and it infuriates me.

H: This would be their best if it was just a bit shorter on certain tracks e.g get rid of the gloaming but considering the short period of time it was created in, it’s pretty phenomenal. 

E: I think it comes close to being radiohead’s best album, but for every moment of genius such as myxomatosis or, in my opinion their best track of all time, There, There, there’s just a dull track or a down right bad track that lets it down, and it just becomes a bit clustered and tedious but it definitely had signs of what had been looming all along and they begin to experiment even further electronically and instrumentally

L: 2+2=5, Myxomatosis and Backdrifts are the first that spring to mind when I remember this album, much like Kid A I was hesitant to listen to it but given what came before it it has that perfect mix of my favourite Radiohead album that mixes the old with the new.

J: It blew me away the first time I heard it in all honesty. it is absolutely gorgeous. songs like Sail To The Moon, Sit Down, Stand Up and Scatterbrain really let Radiohead’s ability to write beautiful pieces of music shine.

A: In all seriousness, HTTT is CRAZY underrated, by going back to a guitar sound it shows just how much Radiohead have evolved as a band and as musicians since they last made “rock” records and as a result, I prefer the heavier moments on this album to Radiohead’s heavier tracks earlier in their career. 2+2=5, Myxomatosis and There, There are all massive rock tunes but are blessed by the songwriting genius that the band had acquired

2. OK Computer (1997)

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E: Garbage 2/10

L: Ethian Woodford CANCELLED.

J: I don’t like OK Computer as much as everyone else likes OK Computer but I still think OK Computer is a classic. OK Computer.

E: Obviously joking, OK computer is what made radiohead radiohead, everything that both fans and casual listeners associate them with stems from this record and it still has an influence on alternative rock today, it really is a classic in every sense of the word.

L: The first “partrician” album I listened to when I was 15 after googling “best albums ever made”, it’s undoubtedly the most important album Radiohead have and ever will make though that shouldn’t be interpreted as best though their best song, my favourite anyway, makes an appearance.

J: Undeniably a classic, without a weak track on it in my mind, but this isn’t peak Radiohead.

H: It might be a tad overrated but the recent release of OKNOTOK cemented it as one of the greatest + most influential albums of the nineties.

L: Also I know people say it’s not a track but Fitter Happier never gets skipped, I can imagine that kind of track being even more relevant to our generation than those who listened to it upon its arrival.

A: I feel like it’s an album made by its “moments” – the 3rd verse of let down, the “rain down” section of paranoid android, the climax/crescendo of exit music, the “for a minute there, I lost myself” of karma police etc etc, there’s so many moments that blow you away on OK Computer.

J: This is also undeniably the album that kicked Radiohead onto the course to being one of the best bands in history – the jump in quality in just 3 albums is genuinely staggering, how the fuck they went from writing songs like How Do You to songs like Paranoid Android will never not baffle me.

A:  It’s not looked on fondly by all Radiohead fans but part of OK Computer’s legacy is the bands it’s inspired who set out to pretty much make OK Computer again, the likes of Muse and Coldplay.

J: Agreed Andy, so many bands try and have “moments” like that in their songs just for a live setting, but with the tracks on OK Computer the “moments” come so organically it’s stupid.

1. In Rainbows (2007)

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A: This album is a solid 10/10, the best the band have ever made and one of the best records ever made.

H: Inarguably the best – most standalone great tracks (reckoner and weird fishes/arpeggi in particular) and works perfectly start to finish – all the musical and emotional variety you need in two thirds of the length of HTTT.

E: Really once you listen to this album it’s clear what radiohead have been working towards, this album is a masterpiece, from the lyrics to the production, its everything they could possibly have hoped to achieve and for me the most underrated track is Reckoner, finds thom in a truly vulnerable state and is extremely sparse for a radiohead track and results in something beautiful.

A: I know it’s only got 10 tracks, but there’s not one lull in the 43 minutes of music, not a dud track to be seen or not even a verse or a bridge which doesn’t sound as good as it possibly could.

L: It really is a fantastic culmination of everything the band have attempted to do and succeeded with, learning from past mistakes and making an album that I honestly believe has not one weak tracking.

A: You literally only need to name the tracks and it’ll be obvious how many classics there are. Nude, Bodysnatchers, Videotape, All I Need, Jigsaw Falling Into Place and my personal favourite, Weird Fishes / Arpeggi.

J: There’s not much I can say about In Rainbows that hasn’t already been said. it is unequivocally a 10/10 record. in every way. simply stunning. Angry, sad, hopeful, pessimistic all at once. it’s just… aye. it’s immaculate.

A: It’s become a massive meme (EEEEED) but fuck me, Ed’s vocals on Weird Fishes and the way they combine with Thom’s are beautiful and creates the most calming but urgent music moment ever, absolute bliss.

J: HTTF is still a more enjoyable listen for me but this is undoubtedly their best album. Top to tail stuffed with genius. and Disk 2 is magic as well – BANGERS AND MASH BOIZ.

L: I think even the way it was released set a real trend that, while wasn’t started by Radiohead, was definitely popularised by them.

A: Yeah a massive testament to the record is how much press it’s release method got, yet the music has emerged and more than spoken for itself, which shows how genius the album actually is.





Album Review: Ghostpoet- Dark Days + Canapés

By Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster)

As referenced in the title of Ghostpoet’s fourth album, the time we are living in right now are, without a doubt, dark days. Due to this, many artists, bands and other members of the media industry have used their medium as a form of escapism whilst some have used it to rally momentum for change. However there a few that have been overwhelmed by the current state of the world and find themselves with nothing much to say other than how awful everything is, and Ghostpoet finds himself very much in that place on this bleak record.

Throughout his career, Ghostpoet has has no problem sounding unique and relevant. While his influences have always been clear, the contrast between his electronic and more recently alt-rock sound, combined with his often laid-back, spoken-word delivery, is something that is distinctly memorable and that has always been his strongest asset. However now on his fourth album, that is no longer enough as he now has to stand out amongst his own back catalogue and continue to progress musically – whilst making some strides in doing this, ultimately that is where this album slightly falls short of living up to his past work.

On 2015’s Shedding Skin, Ghostpoet transitioned almost completely away from his signature electronic sound to a more instrumentally based sound in a risk that paid off, giving that album a sense of urgency and impact that complemented his lyrics and vocal delivery. On his follow-up, here he is still sticking mostly to that sound with a few detours into earlier territory which ultimately gives the impression he was unsure himself where he wanted to go with this album. Of course since his sound has served him so well in the past, this album is by no means a misfire, it just seems out of character for Ghostpoet to not have a clear musical direction.

Thematically, this album is very bleak, with the main focus being on modern life however most of the political takes are more personal than a statement on world affairs, such as how these things affect his outlook on life more than what these events mean for the actual world itself. This is an interesting way to write about politics and the world around us without ending up having an album just like any other released at the time and this was a good move from Ghostpoet. Despite this it does at times feel as he doesn’t have that much to say this time around, with his lyrics being derivative at times such as his references to tinder “so I swiped left and figured out” that just feel a bit forced. It’s when his lyrics focus more on the feeling of hopelessness in this era that the tracks hit harder. He demonstrates this on tracks such as Immigrant Boogie and Trouble + Me and these tracks are some of the strongest.

Overall there’s not much to hate on this album but there isn’t much to love either. Fans of Ghostpoet will find a lot of enjoyment within this album but it does little to progress himself musically or lyrically and finds him perhaps playing it a bit safe. However his previous material has been so strong the elements of that still present make this album an enjoyable listen, even if it’s a predictable one.






Track Review: King Krule – Czech One

By Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster)

It has now been four years since Archy Marshall released an album under his most popular of his many monikers, King Krule, but he has signalled that the wait is almost over, with the release of this new track, Czech One.

Since his debut album however, Krule released an album under his birth name two years ago, and on A New Place 2 Drown, he departed from his signature guitar rythym and howling vocals to a more electronic and relaxed sound matched with more a laid back vocal delivery. In hindsight, whether his material as Archy Marshall was as impressive as his previous work, it was a smart choice to release it under a different name, as it wouldn’t be billed as The Sophomore Album, which many artists undoubtedly dread. This way Krule was able to delve into new sounds and ideas whilst still being able to go fresh into a second King Krule album.

After hearing the return of King Krule with this new track, it’s clear he has made the detour as Archy Marshall worthwhile. Czech One opens with a sparse piano backing track reminiscent of A New Place 2 Drown, accompanied with a similar soothing delivery, perhaps even more relaxed than before, verging on a spoken word style. Krule doesn’t hide the source of these influences, referencing that album almost by name numerous times in the first half of the track as he talks about finding “a place to hide”, “a place to moan” or “a place to write”. Perhaps this is Krule offering an explanation for his need to perform under his birth name, but either way this track announces his return as King Krule but acknowledges the importance of Archy Marshall.

Halfway through the track the piano melody dissipates into a burst of jazz-tinged sounds which incorporates Krule’s ability to slip in and out of genres so effortlessly that he demonstrated on 6 Feet Beneath The Moon. There is a lot going on in this track, perhaps too much for it to be an album track and it may more likely be a bridge connecting both his previous albums to this one, where Archy Marshall and King Krule become one.

Whatever this track may mean or foreshadow, it is definitely a good sign for things to come from Krule and he shows no desire to rest on his laurels and continues to expand musically. With an album clearly on the horizon, King Krule has heightened anticipation with this track and hopefully will deliver on its potential.






Album Review: Dizzee Rascal – Raskit

By Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster)

The career of Dizzee Rascal is a unique story. When he was just 19 he released Boy In Da Corner, which instantly became a classic, simultaneously putting grime on the map and solidifying himself as the most exciting talent working in music at the time. Boy In Da Corner was the perfect debut and, 14 years on, it still stands as the pinnacle of what grime can be.

It made Dizzee a star, earning him the Mercury Prize but as Dizzee‘s career progressed, grime as a genre failed to follow and by his fourth album he had adopted the company of heavyweights such as Calvin Harris and, in a way, it paid off, giving him four number one singles and further fame. Being as talented as he is, this stage in his career was actually better than most similar music at the time, but perhaps led him with little space to grow and this showed on his lacklustre fifth album, aptly titled The Fifth. Whilst Dizzee faded into irrelevancy, grime was making a huge comeback, presumably reminding him of what he is best at.

Regardless of his rollercoaster career, it has all led to Dizzee Rascal’s latest album Raskit. A return to grime was a risk he had to make but would either prove he is still the best grime has to offer or that the genre he had revitalised had outgrown him. Thankfully Raskit leans decisively towards the former outcome.

Not a Jessie J collaboration in sight, or any feature for that matter, Raskit showcases everything Dizzee Rascal needed to prove, both to his critics and to himself. Unlike on his debut, most of the beats are basic, allowing Dizzee‘s vocals and lyrics to stand out which would have left him vulnerable if he still wasn’t able to write witty, hard-hitting rhymes which some might have assumed given his time away from grime. However, if anything his lyrics in particular might have even improved from Boy In Da Corner. Whether he is rapping about his return to grime in Space or gunning for his rivals in The Other Side, Dizzee sounds fresh and hungry defending his name every way he can.

Sceptics may have thought Dizzee was only returning to grime because it has regained some momentum thanks to the likes of Skepta and Stormzy, and while that may be true to a certain extent, the point he makes repeatedly on this album is that he has the right simply because he is good enough, and it’s hard to argue. Where the argument falls down that he abandoned grime is that most of his contemporaries tried to replicate his success with a more mainstream sound but only Dizzee really succeeded. Dizzee Rascal has always been one step ahead until now and the one time he found himself behind everyone else, he has caught up by proving he can compete with grime’s biggest artists. Raskit has a few filler tracks but at 16 tracks, it manages to prove he has plenty to offer rather than a half arsed attempt at returning to grime that wouldn’t have been as convincing.

At its core, Raskit is essentially a statement that Dizzee Rascal can still create a competitive grime album and write clever lines, delivering them with conviction. Dizzee Rascal is versatile with fierce tracks such as Space to light and playful tracks such as She Knows What She Wants showing he has the talent that he had in 2003. Although a few tracks fade into the background and the production lacks some creativity compared to his debut, Dizzee Rascal did what he needed to do lyrically and firmly announces that he is still relevant.







ALBUM REVIEW: Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark?

By Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster)

Royal Blood were the surprise stars of 2014. Exploding into the limelight with an electric live show that was the highlight of several festivals and a debut album that sold more copies in its first week than any other debut rock album since Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds three years prior. Their sound was both familiar yet forgotten, and for many was a reminder that rock music could still be relevant. However, with only two members and a very specific set-up of a bassist/vocalist and a drummer, many were also sceptical of where the Brighton duo could go next.

Fast-forward three long years and the boys have finally returned with a follow-up to their Mercury Prize nominated debut album. Since 2014, it was obvious the band could could go two ways: re-invent themselves and continue to find ways to innovate rock music and impress fans and critics alike or to assume the loyalty of their newly amassed fan base and essentially make the same thing over again. Unfortunately, they went with the latter option and even more disappointingly, it feels as if they did so intentionally.

The album opens with the eponymous title track which ventures into familiar territory, as if it could have been a b-side to a single they released three years ago. The track however does end on a more interesting note with some haunting backing vocals that lead into a final barrage that actually serves as a decent pay-off. This pattern continues for most of the album, bar the next two tracks which are plain dull, mostly predictable Royal Blood songs with the occasional interesting production choice or variation in vocal delivery. An example of this is the falsetto Mike Kerr adopts in She’s Creeping which is evidently influenced by AM-era Arctic Monkeys.

These occasional changes in pace are welcome but perhaps only more evident because of how painfully safe the rest of the album is. Their sound which was so exciting and volatile in 2014 feels so tried and tested and it feels as if the band have made little attempt to alter themselves. As with the sophomore album of Catfish and the Bottlemen last year, it seems as if Royal Blood are content with the level of success they have attained and are happy to cash in on it rather than evolve as a band and remain relevant in the long-run. This is incredibly disappointing to see from one of the most exciting bands of a few years ago.

Another source of disappointment in How Did We Get So Dark? is the lyrical content. Very similar to their debut, there is little here that is memorable or new and sticks to familiar themes explored on their self-titled album and by the end of the album the repetitiveness really starts to become irritating. Unsurprisingly, singing about the same thing over and over again exhausts the options for lyrics and this leads to some almost laughably bad lyricisms such as “She’s got the devil on one shoulder and my other is getting colder” on Hook, Line and Sinker. This track is also hampered by Kerr’s attempt at a more talkative delivery which is just a bit embarrassing.

Not all is lost with Royal Blood, they could maybe be capable of creating another credible album, but they need to dig deeper and look at ways of developing their sound instead of exhausting the products of the sound that propelled them to fame. Easily the biggest letdown here is the band’s clear decision to rest on their laurels and not make much of an effort to do anything new. Of course, since the first album was good, there is still some enjoyment to gain from an album that is essentially the same, but by the thousandth identical tinny riff from Kerr’s bass, it becomes tiring.

So let’s hope that next time we hear from Royal Blood they are able to redeem themselves but for now they have delivered one of the most underwhelming follow-up albums in recent memory.










By Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster)

If you strike up a conversation about Arctic Monkeys with people, it will mostly lead to a discussion on Alex Turner and his recent persona, perhaps a speculation of when and if they will make another album or maybe just agreeing on how great their debut is. Even if you were to have a more in-depth discussion on their music, it seems that the primary focus is usually on Whatever People Say I Am Is What I’m Not and if it ever does deviate, it tends to swing towards their strangest album (Humbug) or their most divisive (AM). Whilst their debut more than deserves its timeless recognition, it often seems to overshadow the very thing it created.

Just teenagers when they were propelled to fame, the Sheffield foursome quickly because one of the biggest bands in the world following their debut album in 2006. Already having amassed a following of loyal fans, some may have been skeptical when a follow-up album was arriving little over a year later. Thankfully, ten years later we can look back and, if anything, be grateful that it came so soon. Favourite Worst Nightmare is the perfect blend of a second album as it has the same energy that made us love their debut so much. In addition, Alex Turner’s wit is still at large and, coupled with improved lyricism from their debut, it shows growth that fans would have hoped for. In this instance and almost every other aspect, Favourite Worst Nightmare is essentially WPSIAIWIN 2.0 but what stops it from being just a repeat, and the very fact that we are even talking about it ten years on, is that Arctic Monkeys were just that good at this point: 4 musicians at their peak just making music they enjoyed and while that sounds cliched, it is the very reason that Favourite Worst Nightmare is a classic.

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Just as WPSIAIWIN was mostly a collection of stories and observations of life in Sheffield, FWN is similar in the way most of the tracks are still observational but have a broader scope. Album opener Brianstorm is literally just about a guy the band met on tour and somehow Turner manages to turn this into one of their most iconic singles and, as on the entire album, Matt Helders drumming alone is enough to cement the album into our memories. A noticeable difference on Favourite Worst Nightmare is a stronger focus on relationships and having Turner’s attention on such matters leads to album highlights such as hilarious one-liners on Fluorescent Adolescent. However when he isn’t comparing penis sizes and referring to them as a “Mecca Dauber or a betting pencil“, Turner proves to have grown along with his bands sound as The Only Ones Who Know is an emotive track about the feeling of a new relationship that seems to make everything else seem obsolete. It is perhaps an often overlooked Arctic Monkeys song but provides a more optimistic outlook on love than usual and is yet another surprising highlight that makes Favourite Worst Nightmare as vital to Arctic Monkeys‘ discography as it is.

Although these tracks are highlights, they by no means overshadow the rest of the album and each track feels necessary. The transition from This House Is A Circus into If You Were There, Beware is memorable in its own right and the album is full of moments of pure musical enjoyment such as that. However, it is undeniable that musically Helders is the stand-out, so much so that he deserves a second mention as it’s hard to imagine this album existing without him. Fortunately, Favourite Worst Nightmare finishes as strongly as it starts with 505, a now universally adored song that Arctic Monkeys play with limitless glee at the end of every gig and with every listen, it instantly states itself as being a career defining track.

What could have been just a carbon copy of their acclaimed debut, Favourite Worst Nightmare is the perfect response, an album that feels like a natural growth that stands on its own and, even ten years, on remains a masterpiece.