FRESH VID: Mac DeMarco Befriends Death On ‘One Another’

By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

Jizz-jazz pioneer Mac DeMarco is no stranger to the, well, strange. While he may have got a lot more serious and mature on his latest album This Old Dog (review here), his latest music video for One Another shows that he’s still got a funny bone. Hyped up as a “fish out of water, buddy flick“, the Canadian rocker finds himself befriending none other than death itself with whom he has a great bond with but one major setback: they can look but cannot touch. The video, directed and written by Pierce McGarry even has its very own twist that I won’t spoil here, just go watch it down below. With hot reviews such as “Man the chemistry between the two leads is palpable on screen”  by a Professional Reviewer, DeMarco has his Oscar Bait ready.

 


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ALBUM REVIEW: THIS OLD DOG by MAC DEMARCO

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

It’s easy to forget the dual nature of Canadian singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco: the smoking-like-a-chimney, drumstick in the ass quirky man-child has accumulated quite the fanbase over the duration of his career, falling in love with his smooth attempts at slacker rock, grated over with that trademark ape dinky charm. That’s not to insinuate that DeMarco has never crafted a serious track in his life, the underrated mini-album Another One explored love from multiple perspectives and Salad Days‘ emotive little gem ‘Let My Baby Stay‘ was a standout upon its release, but this mature songwriting always seems to be overshadowed by either some of his more experimental work or eccentric online and irl persona. 

On this topic of sensible songwriting, Mac seems to be finally setting into adulthood having just turned 27 last month, something he approached in classic fashion by announcing he was gonna be a father which shocked his now internet icon mother Agnes. Hell, he’s already bought his first house, a necessity after sharing his address at the end of My House By The Water (“a couple thousand people came to visit: we made a lot of coffee”).With this all in mind, it’s no surprise that fourth LP This Old Dog is his most mature to date, allowing some serious lyricism and songwriting to shine through, making for what is arguably his best work yet.

 

Don’t fret about having another white guy making another half-arsed political album about why Trump is bad and technology = not good though. As you’d expect from a slacker rock champion, DeMarco doesn’t really fret about this kind of area, not because he doesn’t care but because he doesn’t want to stick his nose in where it doesn’t belong. After all, we’re talking about the same guy who, after being asked about the fear of nuclear war, replied with “hopefully nuclear war doesn’t happen, that would really blow ass“, the closest we’ll ever get to a political opinion from the jizz-jazz pioneer.

Instead of looking outwards, Mac keeps his focus on himself and those around him which leads to some of the darkest subject matter he’s ever covered. With the album being lead by a single titled ‘My Old Man‘, it’s no surprise that This Old Dog touches on the topic of fatherhood though more the lack thereof. It’s so subtle though that you’d be forgiven for not realising it sooner though: on the aforementioned opener, our 20-a-day protagonist strums away while nervously observing that “I’m seeing more of my old man in me”, preceded by an uh oh which makes far more sense when you’re made aware that his dad was an alcoholic and addict of whom he knows very little about. My Old Man manages to scope out two vistas of the DeMarco music landscape, the “cracking a cold one with the boys” sunshine relaxing and the introspective mesmerisation, and merge them both together seamlessly.

This narrative comes to its conclusion on, well, the conlcluding track ‘Watching Him Fade Away’, a far more on the nose single which is the most stripped back song both in terms of instrumentals and subtlety: DeMarco has said this would be his equivalent of an acoustic album but lone synthesised pianos fuel this track, leaving the lyrics to fully shine and steal the spotlight. Weirdly enough though, Mac never gets truly soppy on this subject, outright saying “the thought of him no longer being around, well, sure it would be sad but not really different“. It would be easy enough to make some cheesy farewell to his father but with the album either exploring his actions, like on ‘Moonlight On The River’, or ones similar via Mac‘s stories, the heartache ofStill Beating, it thematically makes more sense to wrap the album up with a shrug of the shoulders rather than a grandiose weeping song.

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There’s more to This Old Dog than just being torn apart about being sad or indifferent to a parent dying. Via the trodden father route, DeMarco manages to explore this quarter-life style crisis, worrying about the present and future when having his focus shifted at the past: he may be a goofy character but This Old Dog sees Mac become very harsh with himself, criticising his appearance via the third person and comparing himself to someone he politely described as being “a piece of shit”.

The shortest track on the whole album yet possibly the most moving, Sister is another minamilstic song though one that acts as more of a tribute, in this case for Mac‘s half-sister Holly. Whether it be the seemingly intentionally eerie strumming or the emotion christened opening lines of “turns out not every dog has his day”, the track helps bring out a dark side to Mac‘s music that has always been brewing but has now been made fit for consumption.

Anyone who hasn’t been able to get on board with the acoustic musings of Canada’s sweetheart will probably not be converted: many of the foundations that DeMarco has built since 2 are still in sight though much of what’s been built on them are precisely built albeit bare in design. For an album solely lead, recorded and engineered by one man, This Old Dog does enough sonically to keep interest peaked though thematically and lyrically is where it shines. It’s still very much the same stoner demeanor that has made Mac such a star but covering more serious themes allows him to keep both camps satisfied.

It could soundtrack another alcohol fueled campfire gathering with some of its trademark stylings, just don’t be surprised if you end up a bit existential. 

8.5/10

Favourite album so far, Mac is back! Really love it and will be recommending it to lots! 8/10 – Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)


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GR8 MUSIC M8: January 2017

A new segment where I’ll be taking a look at any albums, EPs and singles that were my favourites of the past month. Want something reviewed? Let me know via twitter.

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

Albums

Run The Jewels – RTJ3

“We’re in sync so much now, after two records and several tours – and this new one felt like we hit that point in the Rocky training montage when he’s just killing shit,” said El-P in an interview with The Guardian and RTJ3 very much feels like the point where both him and Killer Mike have managed to catch the chicken. Showing sincerity, awareness, and aggression all at once, RTJ are the epitome of every liberal’s worst nightmare: they’re an answer to the intolerance that has infected America since its birth and do not give a fuck who disagrees. Their music is sure to be the soundtrack to the revolution and what a fucking soundtrack that is.

FULL REVIEW HERE

10/10

Code Orange – Forever *

Having had no prior knowledge of Code Orange or any previous interest in metalcore, it came as a total surprise to me that Forever would be one of the first music gems of 2017. Managing to balance off the hardcore punk sound that appears on the vast majority of these tracks by dipping their toes into some alt-rock waters as heard on Bleeding In The BlurForever is a true tour de force, putting aside any worries fans may have had after the act moved onto a major label. If there were any doubts about Code Orange being on their best form then Forever puts them all to rest, under a tsunami of sheer fury.

9/10

The XX – I See You

While there are many changes that are apparent on I See You, what’s utterly remarkable and something that should be commended is the fact that The XX are simultaneously pushing themselves out of their comfort zone while staying true to their humble roots. The sampling on display and subsequent alterations to the sound make it feel like an R&B album more than an alt rock one but the emotional voices that manage to project both passion and insecurities feel so quintessentially XX. There are tracks that feel like they could have been ripped straight off of their debut like ‘Performance’ while others like ‘Dangerous’ and ‘On Hold’ feel like they’ve landed from a parallel universe where the band are far less timid.

FULL REVIEW HERE

8/10

Wiley – Godfather *

Even though he may hit out with the threat of retiring as frequently as Donald Trump tweets out a potential World War 3 catalyst, Wiley has still continued to make music and Godfather may be his magnum opus. Most members of the public no doubt know of the grime artist via his chart hits such as Rolex and Heatwave but it does the artist a complete disservice not to recognise the impact he has had on the genre, being there from practically the beginning and surviving both the boom, death and subsequent revival of Grime. Featuring some of the darkest production to appear on a grime record in quite some time, Wiley offers up a variety of different sounds as well as some amusing and hard-hitting lyricism. Speakerboxx may very well be 2017’s Shutdown as it packs in an Arabic sounding flute, which feels like it was taken straight out of Banjo and Kazooie’s Gobi’s Valley, alongside a dominating and intimidating Wiley who chats about his youth selling drugs while comparing himself to the Bob Marley of Grime. With an output and influence as huge as Wiley’s, it really says something when an album such as Godfather can do him justice.

9/10

Japandroids – Near To The Wild Heart Of Life *

While it may not be as groundbreaking or solid as their past releases, Japandroids have avoided falling into the pitfall that many bands do after taking a break of half a decade away with their third record Near To The Wild Heart Of Life. There are some obvious complaints: there’s a clear lack of witty lyricism from King and it feels far too polished, not a granule of grit to be found. That’s not to say that what is on display isn’t ambitious as the American punk act do all they can to push themselves out their comfort zone and bring new life to a genre many have said is stagnant. Dig beneath the surface and you may find the rock record that you’ll be comparing every subsequent release this year to.

7/10


EPs

David Bowie – No Plan *

Ever wondered what it would sound like if David Bowie had written a James Bond theme tune? Then look no further than No Plan, an EP that marks what would have been the artist’s 70th birthday. Featuring the aforementioned Bond-esque Killing A Little Time as well as the beautiful title track, No Plan manages to display all different facets of Bowie’s musicianship, reassuring all that his legacy will live on.

9/10

Cabbage – Young, Dumb And Full Of… *

Acting as a compilation of all the band’s work thus far, Young, Dumb And Full Off…demonstrates the prowess and sheer energy that Manchester rock outfit Cabbage possess this early in their career. Not just a release full of sad romantic songs about girls, Cabbage touch upon a wide array of political and social matters such as the monarchy, NHS, Austerity and a certain tangerine president with whimsy and appeal, making Cabbage not only one of the most exciting bands in the UK but one of the most aware too.

8/10

Boosegumps – on the way to meet you*

While certain seconds on this EP would give you the feeling that this Heeyoon fronted project had been recorded in a bedroom then swiftly left in the loft for a few years, this only adds to the utter enchantment on the way to meet you offers. Concluding track Happy embodies this EP’s message, with the lines “I am so positive/ I am so happy/ I tell myself every day/ I’m starting to believe me,” being both relaxing and resonant. Lasting only a brief few minutes, Boosegumps EP is very much like its artwork: alluring, soft and calming, full to the brim with positivity.

8/10


Singles

Sleaford Mods – BHS 

With their follow up to Key Markets set to drop in March, Sleaford Mods dropped another tease as to what to expect from English Tapas. BHS, which is clearly in reference to the now defunct UK chain of stores, takes a stab at the 1% and offers the politically aware alternative that Fat White Family constantly slated various other indie rock acts for. On top of that, the rather stripped back drum machine and guitars gives the track the serious vibe needed to carry the duo’s message across and does so wonderfully.

FKA Twigs – Trust In Me

It may have only appeared in the latest Nike ad for what feels like a few seconds but it’s truly a testament to FKA Twigs that this brief amount of time is all she needs to make an impact. While details on her upcoming album are scarce, if the vocals are as beautiful as they are here and the instrumentals just as jarring, unsettling yet alluring then it’ll no doubt be one of the best releases of the year.

Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

Father John Misty’s latest eponymous cut off his upcoming third LP Pure Comedy is a relatively simple piano ballad that holds no punches when discussing its subject matter, delivering some particularly beautiful and thought provoking lines like only Misty can. With 2016 being infamous to say the least, it’s a relief to see that something can come of it and Pure Comedy is sure to be one of many pieces of art that stands as a reflection of what has been and a glimmer of hope of what is to come.

Joey Bada$$ – Land Of The Free

Dropping around the time of President Trump’s inauguration, Joey BadA$$ has undoubtedly provided the best political track of the year so far which touches upon topics of mass incarceration and racism, delivered witfully such as the line on his first verse “Two A’s, Three K’s in AmeriKKKa”. Finish that off with some killer production from Kirk Knight and you have yourself a track that cannot be slept on. 

Mac DeMarco – My Old Man

Making sure to leave fans with more than enough music to keep them content until the album’s release in a few months time, DeMarco dropped the reflective title track My Old Man. While not as stripped back as This Old Dog, My Old Man incorporates some simple synths that, in the context of the album’s concept, shine through as utterly delightful, showing that less can indeed be more. The lyrics, which are usually DeMarco’s strong point, are as touching and introspective as always, in no small part due to the different way he went about writing this album.


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So far, so good? New Mac DeMarco tracks REVIEWED

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

Having appeased the appetite of hungry fans with his Another One mini album in 2015, Mac DeMarco has announced details for his course. This Old Dog, the peculiar lo-fi rocker’s follow up to 2014’s critically lauded Salad Days, is set to drop on May 5th via Captured Records and DeMarco has already stated that his fourth full-lengthLP will represent a new approach to his sound. “The majority of this album is acoustic guitar, synthesizer, some drum machine, and one song is electric guitar. So this is a new thing for me” said DeMarco in a statement, before adding that “this is my acoustic album, but it’s not really an acoustic album at all. That’s just what it feels like, mostly. I’m Italian, so I guess this is an Italian rock record.

This is most clear on the title track which channels the raw feeling DeMarco demonstrated on his sophomore record as well as some love drenched lyrics delivered in a way that only he can. While it may not be breaking any new ground, This Old Dog is still a delightfully chilled and solid piece of slacker rock which displays much of what DeMarco hinted at in his statement.

Making sure to leave fans with more than enough music to keep them content until the album’s release in a few months time, DeMarco dropped the reflective opener My Old Man. While not as stripped back as This Old Dog, My Old Man incorporates some simple synths that, in the context of the album’s concept, shine through as utterly delightful, showing that less can indeed be more. The lyrics, which are usually DeMarco’s strong point, are as touching and introspective as always, in no small part due to the different way he went about writing this album, saying in his statement:

Usually I just write, record, and put it out; no problem. But this time, I wrote them and they sat. When that happens, you really get to know the songs. It was a different vibe.

While his music prior to This Old Dog never resisted the urge to pack as much drum machine and synths as humanly possible, DeMarco’s resistance to overloading his tracks, as well as taking more time to let his tracks settle, arguably allows for his most mature work to date. Until his new album drops in May, it’s pure speculation as to how he’ll manage to keep fans entertained over the duration of 11 other songs but if these offerings are anything to go by, there’ll be no need to worry.

Mac DeMarco will perform two London show at O2 Academy Brixton on May 30 and May 31, and has also just announced new shows at Newcastle Academy on August 29 and Edinburgh Usher Hall on August 30.


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MOST ANTICIPATED ALBUMS OF 2017

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

Welcome to the very first post on blinkclyro.com in 2017! Feeling hungover? Full of regret already? Don’t worry, you’ve got the next 365 days to make things even worse.

Having had the month of December to reminisce about the best and worst of the last year in music, it’s now time to get aboard the hype train as we take a look at what albums we, more specifically I, are most psyched about hearing in 2017. As always, my choices are purely subjective and there’ll no doubt be a few albums from my list last year making an appearance seeing as some artists actually want to take time with their music? What a bunch of selfish assholes. Anyway, let’s get this show on the road…

Run The Jewels – RTJ3

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ETA: Out Now (STREAMING) / 13th Janaury (PHYSICAL)

Let’s start off with what is undoubtedly going to end up being an album of the year contender: Run The Jewels 3. Whilst technically it did drop in 2016, it was originally slated for a 2017 release and the physical release is set to come out in just over a weeks time so its inclusion is more than deserved, especially since so far RTJ3 is the most polished and politcally charged record the hip hop duo has dropped. Don’t Get Captured manages to approach topics of genrification and police brutality exceptionally with EL-P and Killer Mike’s expert storytelling and flow being displayed. With RTJ2 being my favourite album of 2014, expect RTJ3 to be on repeat for the duration of 2017.

Kanye West – Turbo Grafx 16

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Kanye West attends Kanye West Yeezy Season 3 at Madison Square Garden on February 11, 2016 in New

ETA: TBA

When you have the late, great Lou Reed praising you then you must be doing something right and the ever egotistical Kanye West looks set to continue his golden run with his new gaming inspired record Turbo Grafx 16

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With the record set to feature sampling from the likes of No More Heroes and Super Mario Galaxy in addition to hosting appearances from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper and Young Thug, Kanye may be set to deliver the oddest record of 2017.

The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody

Image result for oczy mlody flaming lipsETA: 13th January 

Despite their recent collaboration with Miley Cyrus being one of the worst listens of 2015, The Flaming Lips seem set to return to the glory days of 2002 with their upcoming record Oczy Mlody. Lead vocalist Wayne Coyne described the record as sounding like a drug and second single How is the embodiment of this, sounding like a vapourwave acid trip that reaches the airy heights that the band have previously achieved on Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. Any album being built up as “Syd Barrett meets ASAP Rocky and they get trapped in a fairy tale from the future” is one worth being on the radar of anyone with even a tiny incling of interest in music.

The XX – I See You
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ETA: January 13th

Being indie darlings since their mercury prize winning debut record dropped in 2009, The XX’s third album I See You has been a long time coming with nearly five years passing since we last heard anything from them. While previously being apprehensive about the band becoming stagnant, it’s a relief to see Jamie XX being given more creative control after his dazzling 2015 record In Colour which is shown masterfully on lead single On Hold, having the classic Jamie XX sampling expertise with Hall and Oate’s I Can’t Go For That making an appearance. With the band stating that I See You will have a more distinctive sound and a more positive, open and “expansive” concept than the previous two albums, it’s hard not to get a bit excited about the band’s triumphant return. 

The Orwells – Terrible Human Beings

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ETA: February 17th 

While other garage and punk bands such as FIDLAR seem content with spitting lines about drugs and drink at the moment, American rock outfit The Orwells seem to be using their third LP Terrible Human Beings as a maturity stepping stone.  “The whole cute, punk, beer thing—it’s so uncool now,” vocalist Mario Cuomo said in an interview to Spin. “There’s nothing cute about getting head in the back of some parked truck. You know?”. Buddy seems to be the only track that touches on their immature former selves with singles such as Double Feature showing signs of a band who are ready to make their mark this time around, this time not puke related.

Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life

ETA: January 27th 

Much like the XX, Canadian rock act Japandroids have been kept fans waiting for nearly half a decade with their unique part classic rock, part punk sound finally making a return on Near to the Wild Heart of Life. 2012’s Celebration Rock is one of the most cohesive records of the decade so far alongside Joyce Manor’s discography and the title track seems to be contiuning this trend while tweaking the formula slightly. Singer Brian King has cemented the excitement for many, saying:

The idea of what intensity means is evolving. It doesn’t necessarily mean screaming or jumping around or flailing about or being really loud or playing really fast. In some ways, we’re approaching this like it’s our very first record. We’re removing all the self-imposed rules that led to the songs and the sound of our whole career up until now. When you do that, you can try anything.

Mac DeMarco’s New LP

ETA: TBA

While information on the new LP by the oddball that is Mac DeMarco is relatively thin, its existence has been confirmed with the man himself going onto instagram to say “that’s a wrap motherfucker!”. We haven’t heard a full length piece of work by the canadian artist since his 2014 record Salad Days with only Another One managing to satisfy fan’s cravings. Expect warbled choruses and capoed guitars a plenty when it inevitably drops.

The National’s Untitled New Album

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ETA: TBA

Having been relatively quiet since 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me, Ameircan rock outfit The National have been busy further disecting and rearranging their sound for LP7. Frontman Matt Berninger has stated that it’ll be a huge departure from their last record with reports saying that the band are set to go electronic. Speaking to NME, Berninger said: 

We could probably crank out a great National record in a weekend, but none of us are interested in following up with another record that sounds like ‘Trouble Will Find Me’. That record was a great accomplishment and I’m so proud of it. A lot of songs are going in completely different directions. But that’s a really fun place to be. We’re in the middle of the wilderness, in a rainforest full of really fun noises.

Gorillaz LP4

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ETA: TBA

What better way to finish off this list than with a record many have been eagerly anticipating since 2010. Gorillaz are arguably one of the best bands to come out the UK in the noughties and the Damon Albarn lead project is rumoured to have finished their fourth LP in late october. Not much else is known about the album thoug Gorillaz are yet to disappoint and something tells me that the animated outfit will continue their golden run come LP4’s release.


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Mac DeMarco and MGMT Cooking Up Something Good?

The rumour mill is spinning once again – this time concerning the possible collaboration of indie rock sweethearts MGMT and Mac DeMarco.

Thankfully there’s some substance to this story as pictures have surfaced of the duo and Salad Days star working together in the former’s home studio, weirdly enough the same place that MGMT have been working for the past few months.

This follows the announcement by the band that they were planning to release new music in 2016 so whether this hints at DeMarco having an appearance on that record or having a full blown LP with one another is yet to be seen.

DeMarco has been on a roll as of late, releasing Salad Days and Another One in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Recently he released fan favourite demo ROLLIN LIKE A DUMMY along with the kind words “Tu amor me inspira, tu ternura me conmueve y tus besos me enloquecen”, meaning “Your love inspires me, your tenderness moves me and your kisses drive me crazy.”

~

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Top 10 Gigs Of 2015

With 2015 over, here are the best gigs Glasgow had to offer last year, showcasing the variety the city has to offer!

Top 25 Albums Of 2015

It’s time.

List season. It’s odd how something with such a boring name could cause heated debate amongst many, though that’s nothing new for the internet. So as I’ve always done since 2013, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite albums of the past 12 months, ranging from heavy rock to pop to grime to rap, there’ll no doubt be something here for you. Disagree with me? Well you could always contribute to my Best of 2015 post which is coming next Thursday, just message me on Twitter or Facebook and you’ll be sorted!

I hope you enjoy this list which took far too much time to make than I’m proud to admit. So put the pitchforks down for now and let’s dive in.

25. At. Long. Last. ASAP – A$AP Rocky

ASAP

Following up his 2013 debut Long Live ASAP, Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky gets even more experimental on this sophomore album. While there’s significantly less chart gems present than his last outing, the same charm and production value can be felt on every track.

 

24. Purpose – Justin Bieber

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Time for all those awfully spelt insults and memes we made about biebs to disappear. He is back and with a totally transformed sound as those who once slated him are now praising him as tracks like Sorry are pop perfection. While his vocals might be a bit lackluster and too safe, the influence Kanye, Skrillex and co. have had on the lad has paid off.

23. Back On Top – The Front Bottoms

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While Talon Of The Hawk felt like a AAA version of The Front Bottoms’ self loathing lyric fueled sound, Back On Top feels like the beginning of a new chapter for the band. Historic Cemetery just screams Weezer and other tracks like Cough It Out are as catchy as a cold (albeit more enjoyable). A near flawless amalgamation of emo & pop-punk.

22. Every Open Eye – CHVRCHES 

CHVRCHES

There’s no denying that CHVRCHES are one of the best new bands to come out in quite a while, breathing new life into the synth pop genre and yet again reiterating how vibrant the Glasgow music scene is. Every Open Eye is like the Empire Strikes Back for the band: more gritty, more epic but faithful to what made the band what they are.

21. For All My Sisters – The Cribs

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West Yorkshire band The Cribs might have hit out with their best album yet, full of the indie punk greatness that put them on the radar in the first place. See Pink Snow for a chaotic crescendo closer that results in another classic album for the band’s discography.

 

20. Currents – Tame Impala

tame-impala-currents

Despite constantly being compared to the likes of Radiohead for their album rock genius, Tame Impala somehow manage to merge frontman Kevin Parker’s uncontrollable love of pop and their trademark psychedelic sound to craft something truly special. A breakup album disguised as a feel good, funky gem, Currents is only as good as the sum of its parts and those parts are undeniably brilliant.

19. Sometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit – Courtney Barnett

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Courtney Barnett has proved time and time again why she deserves to be put on a pedestal, despite what she might say on Pedestrian At Best. Sometimes I Sit.. has an unprecedented charm to it and is insanely listenable. Absolutely exceptional.

 

 

18. Art Angels – Grimes

grimes-art-angels-album-stream-listen

As abnormally appealing as they come, Grimes returns with a record which is far more pop orientated than anything she’s ever made before yet it still retains all her trademark characteristics. California is a radio friendly hit that never verges into sell-out territory. She may have scrapped an entire album before this but when the replacement sounds this good, we’re not losing any sleep.

17. Cherry Bomb – Tyler The Creator

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While the ever controversial Tyler may have had a bad 2015 (OFWGKTA is no more, fall out with best pal Earl Sweatshirt, banned from UK), he can end the year knowing his latest album is arguably his best yet. A Frankenstein’s monster of sorts, Cherry Bomb fuses Tyler’s influencers (N.E.R.D, Stevie Wonder) and his own own dubious rap style to make a distorted masterpiece.

16. Another One – Mac DeMarco

Another-One-Mac-DeMarco

It really is testament to how talented Mac DeMarco is that a mini album manages to stand above full LPs. In his own words, Another One is about “different kinds of facets of being in love, being out of love, wanting love, not wanting love”. This concept never grows tiresome over the record’s eight track length and further refines his already sublime laid back sound.

15. Happy People – Peace 

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Peace know what they are: floppy haired indie royalty, just like Arctic Monkeys before them. They’re not ashamed of this in the slightest though as they embrace this wholeheartedly. Happy People has exactly what you’d expect from the guys who brought you bloodshake as well as some even heavier tracks like I’m A Girl, showing the band are still as capable as ever to fire out some more indie-rock gems.

14. What Went Down – Foals

Foals (1)

It’s hard to recall an album this year that has managed to balance balls to the wall heavy rock and cordial little tracks all on the one LP. Foals have proven yet again that it’s not in their DNA to make a bad album.

 

13. Are You Satisfied – Slaves

81rIWd69XNL._SL1417_The debut album is often a record which most bands would play it safe on to be more approachable by the public. This isn’t the case for Kent punk duo Slaves who showcase their silliness on Feed The Mantaray while also trying to get their message across of “doing something with your lives” to listeners. Regardless if they succeed in doing so, the boys manage to stand out from every two piece band around at the moment, no small feat at all.

12. The Mindsweep – Enter Shikari

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2015 was undoubtedly one of the most important years for UK politics and no band knows and represents this better than Enter Shikari. From the feedback heavy track Anaesthetist dealing with the privatisation of the NHS to the unsubtly commentary on the corruption of bankers on Bank Of England, the band make their voice well and truly heard and it’s never sounded so good.

11. If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late – Drake

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For a man who is worth millions, if not billions, Drake’s latest album is surprisingly minimalistic in comparison to other rapper’s records. However, this surprise release benefits from this, managing to hit out with the anthems you’d expect from Drizzy while managing to be retrospective. A man that can’t be stopped.

 

10. Too – FIDLAR

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Los Angeles band FIDLAR love drugs (despite just getting out of rehab), drinking and self loathing. They lay all their cards out on the table so that they and the listeners can get down to business and have a good time. Wouldn’t you know it, they do exactly that. Heavily inspired by the 90’s teen angst bands like blink-182, Too is a 42 minute record that is all about having fun and provides just that. Simple yet amazing.

9. My Love Is Cool – Wolf Alice

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Is it any surprise that Wolf Alice are the biggest new act of 2015? The band have built up a hype hurricane since their very first EP which hasn’t been helped by the likes of NME naming them a “band that will change your life” and being nominated for multiple awards. Thankfully this hasn’t derailed the band who deliver a record bursting with heart and grunge-lite sound. One of the greatest debuts of the past decade.

8. Life’s Not Out To Get You – Neck Deep

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Pop punk has had its own sort of renaissance this year with Knuckle Puck mixing the emo sound of American Football with the appeal a genre like this brings. Neck Deep have filled the converse of blink-182 with an album that is full of the same polish and emotion as Enema Of The State. A band that are worth keeping your eye on.

7. Positive Songs For Negative People – Frank Turner

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You’ll struggle to find a solo artist with the same raw passion as Frank Turner. After constructing a record about heartbreak that was enough to make the toughest person feel second hand remorse, PSFNP does exactly what it says on the tin. Any self professed cynic will find themselves drawn in by the snarling guitars and folk rock genius of certain tracks, showing that Frank is arguably the most talented Turner in the business.

6. The Powers That B – Death Grips

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Sacramento experimental hip hop band Death Grips are…weird to say the least. This statement proves to be the most true when listening to Jenny Death, the second half of TPTB, which came out of fucking nowhere in traditional Death Grips fashion. It serves as a reminder to why many fell in love with the band: pure uncut anarchy with the staple MC Ride delivery. Although it isn’t as tremendous as The Money Store, it’s the perfect combination of rap and rock, especially on tracks like On GP.

5. Integrity > – JME

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Just like pop punk, Grime witnessed a second wind this year, solidified by artists like Skepta breaking into the charts and a flamethrower extravaganza at the Brits when many artists from the genre joined Kanye on stage. While it may not have topped charts, JME’s latest record is the best record in the genre since Boy In Da Corner. Independently released, JME preaches about keyboard warriors, veganism and his disinterest in others opinions. Over the 16 tracks and countless video game references, it’s painfully clear that JME is loving what he’s doing, not having to answer to a boss and in the process he’s stumbled upon one of the most refreshing albums of the year.

4. Get To Heaven – Everything Everything

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Bare with me here. Yes, if you had asked me a few years ago if I would ever enjoy an Everything Everything album I would probably have laughed you off. However, the Manchester act aren’t regarded as genre defying for nothing and their latest release is proof of that. Full to the brim with infectious pop and insanely danceable tracks, Get To Heaven is unlike anything to come out this year. It has political commentary so well hidden by its 60’s beats and weirdly catchy alarm clock samples that even if they were stripped away, the album as a whole would still stand on its own. Imaginative and unique, Get To Heaven can be three genres at once but still be described with one word: exhilarating.

3. That’s The Spirit – Bring Me The Horizon

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After a brutal history with the drug Ketamine, Oli Sykes says he came out of Rehab feeling like he didn’t want to scream anymore, he wanted to “sing from the fucking rooftops”. Just as Sykes overcame his addiction, so to have Bring Me The Horizon overcame the troubles that most bands face when changing their sound. Although hardcore fans who have been there since their metalcore days may be disappointed about the transition, there is no denying the layered and evolved synths and atmosphere that come in hand with them are on an such a level of quality that it’s hard to think of a band that does it as well as them. Without a doubt, the best rock album of 2015.

2. In Colour – Jamie XX

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It’s hard to fault Jamie Smith when it comes to his skills as a producer. Many felt like working with The XX was limiting his range, musically, and whilst members of the band make appearances throughout, In Colour not only stands on its own two legs, it stands out as an absolute juggernaut of a record. 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.

 

And the best album of the year is…

To Pimp A Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar

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What else was it going to be? Let’s all confess for a minute: we were all worried. How on earth could Kendrick Lamar top the move-esque masterpiece that was Good Kid m.A.A.d city? We were anxious as fuck but once To Pimp A Butterfly dropped out of nowhere, all those worries were laid to rest.

Criticise me if you wish but Lamar is the new king of rap as his scope reaches a ginormous scale you’d expect from a firearm. Showing the rage of Kanye (Blacker The Berry), romantic nature of Drake (Complexion) and the unpredictableness that only Lamar himself can provide, TPAB could have been a lame, safe follow up. Instead it tackles integrated racism in America, staying true to yourself by turning down stardom and…talking to Tupac. Seriously though, Kendrick is a man who knows where he stands in the music world. He knows he’s one of the biggest artists in the world and he uses this position for good, asking for gangs to reconcile, calling out rappers for being shams and telling the listener to love themselves.

There’s not much I can say about To Pimp A Butterfly that hasn’t been said already but what I can say is this: it’s not only the best album of 2015, it’s arguably the best album to come out this century.

Big love, Liam x

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Rewind: Best Of 2014

2014. What a year. It may have the blockbuster nature of 2013 but that’s what made it all the better as new artists that were previously unknown to the masses made a name for themselves with some of the most impressive records in their retrospective genres. That’s not to say that there wasn’t any big names releasing albums this year. If 2013 was a AAA film directed by Tarantino then 2014 was a Zach Braff film with Bill Murray and who could deny the appeal of both of them.
Albums
  1. Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright In The End

1996. 5 Californian boys in an alt rock band write what’s been hailed as one of the greatest albums of the 90’s. The band in question is Weezer and for the past decade or so they’ve suffered from the success of Pinkerton. With every new release, fans are expecting a worthy successor to the album and are regularly disappointed but this was all changed with the release of Everything Will Be Alright In The End. Featuring some of the best songs that the band has produced in recent memory, arguably their whole career, EWBAITE is an apology letter to the fans and one that makes it hard not to forgive Rivers Cuomo and co.
  1. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
“I feel sort of weathered and beat down and grown up all of a sudden. I’ve always had some kind of plateau that I wanted to reach, and now I just can’t see the next one.This is how Canadian musician Mac DeMarco felt after his extensive touring that lasted over a year and you can really hear it. Salad Days , recorded in DeMarco’s apartment, is laid back and relaxing, drawing you in with unwinding melodies like Let My Baby Stay and Blue Boy. It’ll be a hard feat to find any other album that can calm and entertain you as much as this psychedelic pop beauty.
  1. Aphex Twin – Syro

2014 wasn’t just the year of the up and coming, as proved by the return of this borderline insane genius. Announcing his return by flying a small blimp over London carrying the trademark Aphex logo, master of ambience Richard D. James came out of nowhere to clinch the bronze with an album full of a sound that is brand spanking new yet quintessentially Aphex Twin. Starting off with what is arguably the best song of the year, Syro manages to captivate its audience from beginning to end with lovely minimalistic piano solo aisatsana [102] delivering an amazing end to an amazing album.

  1. Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow
Fans of Bombay Bicycle Club can relax knowing that the boys have cemented themselves as one of the best in the current wave of British indie bands with such a tremendous album, infusing everything from synth pop to RnB that transfer to their live performances seamlessly. It’s odd to think how a band could create a record that has every single track bringing something new or tremendous to the table but Bombay Bicycle Club have managed it and from the looks of things, it’s not set to be the last time.
1. Run The Jewels – RTJ2
Hip Hop was a dominating force last year with Drake, Kanye, Tyler The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt and A$AP Rocky just a small slice of what the genre had to offer. However no album last year could prepare you for what Run The Jewels have to offer. You need proof? Take Blockbuster Night Part 1, a song true to its name as Killer Mike and El-P rap over a Godzilla-like beat, rap’s equivalent to the Jaws theme tune. Every track is dark and fresh, I could honestly write page after page on why I love this abum. I’ll save you all the earache and just tell you to go pick up Run The Jewels 2, it’s in a whole fucking league of its own.
4.Sun Kil Moon – Benji
Mark Kolezek, love him or hate him, is undoubtedly one of the best songwriters of all time. And Benji (his 6th record under the Sun Kil Moon moniker) has cemented that claim. Benji isn’t an easy ride, but it’s a vital one. All of the album’s 11 tracks are heartbreakingly sad, from album opener Clarissa (which tells of one of Kolezek’s relatives who died in a freak fire at the age of 25) to closer Ben’s My Friend (Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie being the Ben in question), each and every song paints a vivid picture of a man who doesn’t truly know how to express himself outside of his music. Look past the public beefs and media bullshit and lose yourself in the mind of the 21st century’s finest solo artist.
3. La Roux – Trouble in Paradise
If you’d have told me that the girl who sang Bulletproof would one day write one of my favourite pop albums of all time I would have laughed right in your face, yet here we are. Trouble in Paradise is a pop masterpiece. It’s 9 tracks are nothing short of pop-funk brilliance and I urge anyone and everyone to listen to it as soon as possible if you haven’t. The departure of founding member (and Elly Jackson’s former boyfriend) Ben Langmaid was, at the risk of sounding like a dick, the best thing that could have happened to La Roux from a creative standpoint. It gave Jackson more freedom to experiment with funk, afro-pop and Caribbean sounds, and these influences compliment Jackson’s voice greatly. Songs like Kiss and Not Tell and Sexoteque will instantly put a smile on your face, and remind me of Prince at the height of his powers. In short, this album is absolutely essential.
2. The Xcerts – There is Only You
Ah, the Xcerts. Hailing from my hometown, I couldn’t help but feel a wee twinge of pride when listening to their latest LP “There Is Only You”. This record is an absolute monster. It’s relentlessly catchy (I can say with complete honesty I get at least one song from the album stuck in my head a day, and I’m still not sick of it) but underneath the catchiness lies real lyrical heart. Songs like Pop Song and Kick It, while feverishly memorable, are truly sad at their core. This, from an outsider’s perspective, sounds like the album the Xcerts have always wanted to make. Heavy, poppy, sad, brilliant.
1. Taylor Swift – 1989/The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants to be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave
I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t pick between these two albums. I tried, so hard to make a call and I just couldn’t. They’re both the best albums of the artists’ respective careers and they’re both absolutely stunningly brilliant. Content-wise, however, these albums couldn’t be any more different from each other.
Taylor Swift has perfected the art of the pop song. She’s 100% the best pop star of the 21st century, and she may well end up being the biggest pop star ever. Songs like I Know Places and Blank Space solidify this, some of the best pop songs to come out in YEARS. I could have used any song on the album to make that point thought: from start to finish it is nothing short of pop perfection.
Now onto the Twilight Sad, the polar opposite to Swift’s bubblegum sweetness. The Twilight Sad are gritty, raw. Their songs have no happy endings, and they couldn’t give a fuck. There’s more heart and sadness poured into this album than there is in all the album’s released this year put together. From the devastating Drown So I Can Watch to album closer Sometimes I Wish I Could Fall Asleep and all the songs before and after, you’re grabbed by the throat and taken on a journey. It’s not an easy album to listen to, it’s a harder album to truly enjoy, but it is crucial to listen to.
Favourite albums of 2014:
FKA twigs-LP1
Although Britain can boast about its electronic success stories like James Blake, Jai Paul and Jamie XX, female artists in the genre are few and far between. However this year, Tahliah Debrett Barnett, aka FKA twigs, served the U.K (and the rest of the world) a plate of female electronic goodness with her debut album LP1. The album is an absolute beauty, combining experimental pop, R&B/hip hop beats, and layered whispery vocals to create an original, almost angelic sound. LP1 undoubtedly features the newest sounds I’ve heard in British music in a while and is definitely the coolest, most weirdly seductive release this year.
Favourite track: Give Up
Nicki Minaj-The Pinkprint
Nicki Minaj is easily one of the most hard working women in mainstream hip hop at the moment. Throughout 2014 she created buzz for the follow up to Roman Reloaded, releasing single after single, controversial video after controversial video and presenting the MTV EMAs. After all the hype I was worried that The Pinkprint wouldn’t live up to my expectations, but if anything, it exceeded them. Minaj is no one trick pony. The record is full of variety, going from emotional looks into her past, sultry duets with the likes of Beyonce and Ariana Grande, heart breaking ballads, pop bangers and impressive examples of her sheer rap talent. Trash talking Nicki is old news. The Pinkprint is fierce, fantastic; and makes her numerous skills absolutely undeniable.
Favourite track: Feeling Myself
Warpaint-Warpaint
Warpaint are talented ladies. As impressed as I may have been with their debut “The Fool”, this follow up is so, so much more mature and developed. With production and mixing assistance from the likes of Flood and Nigel Godrich, and a new band line up, it seems Warpaint has truly allowed the girls to find their sound. As the songs were written mostly during jamming sessions the record has a raw, experimental feel to it, and as expected the vocals feature heart stopping harmonies that are hauntingly atmospheric. Alongside the indie dream pop vibes there are also aspects of shoe-gaze, electronic music, and most notably hip hop and R&B which gives the album a feel of originality. It’s a stunning release that can be left on repeat and still somehow manage to leave the listener fascinated.
Favourite track: Biggy
Sonic Highways by Foo Fighters
Foo Fighters’ eighth studio album received mixed reviews but you can’t deny they’ve still got it. The theory behind Sonic Highways- recording each song in a different city- flaunts the creative ideas of the band. Using the influences of each location, each track is distinctive but the classic Foo’s clash of guitars and strong vocals is still recognisable.
Most of the mere 8 songs are on point and carry a punch, making up for the limited length. As a stand-alone album, the music is more important than the concept, but the Sonic Highways documentary provides a deeper insight into the record.
Listen by The Kooks
From the first time hearing Listen, it felt like a world away from The Kooks’ earlier albums. They’ve gone in a completely different direction, experimenting with a variety of ideas. No more indie rock, although the guitars are still there, disguised under layers of funk, tambourines and claps. If you don’t want to sing along then you’re not listening properly. Each track is individual, standing out from the others, making their fourth album the most diverse one yet. Their older fans may not like the big change but some may be pleasantly surprised by this fun, upbeat release.
There Is Only You by The Xcerts
You can’t help but keep coming back to this album. The Xcerts put so much passion into their music and There Is Only You is no different. Blending rock with a small amount of pop, they’ve found the perfect balance of not-too-heavy but still rough enough. Even from the first listen, the songs leap out and don’t all mix into one. Catchy? Definitely. And the elegant title track is an unusual but beautiful finish. Touring recently with fellow Scottish band Twin Atlantic helped to boost their popularity along with this energy-filled album.
Royal Blood by Royal Blood
You only need to listen to this to see why Royal Blood have become so popular in such a short space of time. This self-titled debut has propelled their career- going from small shows to supporting Foo Fighters next year. It’s incredible how full and heavy the sound is for just bass and drums. Every song is epic in its own way, whether it’s for the pounding drum beat or the killer riffs. This album is filled to the brim with energy and it would be amazing to see them play live for it to come to life.

Big love, Liam x

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Review: Mac DeMarco @ O2 ABC – 7th September

Mac DeMarco is a bit of a weird yet charming character if you didn’t know already. If he isn’t tagging “camel pussy warehouse” as his  location on Instagram posts then he’s paying fans 69 cent for covers of his songs or telling them his address at the end of his albums.

The atmosphere was calm to start off with, nothing outright weird or obscure. Little did anyone know that this was the calm before the storm as Mac came on stage to a roar of applause and screams as he went straight to business and hit out with The Way You’d Love Her. As he gets the crowd swaying and jumping about while singing along, you’d forget he’s been on tour for months now yet still finding the energy to roam around the stage as if it was his own.

In fact, forget what I said about crowd, it’s a sea of folk wearing dungarees and Viceroy caps. People outside the venue were asking for tickets to the sold out show, not wanting to miss out on such an event. For someone’s whose music has only recently been played on British radio stations, it’s an achievement that DeMarco has been able to pull a crowd of any size on the same night as the Scotland vs Germany game, let alone a sell out show.

He didn’t let leave fans underwhelmed though as he evenly spaced out his discography throughout the set list. From Salad Days to 2 back to recent album Another One, DeMarco seamlessly transitioned from one track to the other, keeping the crowd on their toes at all times anticipating what was coming next.

It wasn’t a safe set list though even for the most dedicated members of the crowd. Four tracks in, the famous opening chords for Under The Bridge are played from our gaptooth Canadian friend as he lets out a smile and sets off a singalong on a scale that makes you wonder how the ABC was still standing in one piece afterwards. There was also a cover of Metallica’s Enter Sandman, a staple of his tour, that closed the set and in the best way possible.


Most artists fail or at least stumble when it comes to going from album to live performances. Either the vocals aren’t nearly as good or the performance isn’t up to scratch. Mac’s cigarette inflicted voice still has a charm that’s unlike anyone around right now and his antics on stage, whether it be him lunging as if he was a gym instructor or crowd surfing, kept the crowd entertained and off their phones, something many acts fail to do.

It’s very rare that a gig has a massive effect on you long after you’ve let which isn’t early symptoms of tinnitus but Mac DeMarco proved that he’s in a league of his own. Not only has he came out with one of the best albums of the year but he’s gave one of the performances the O2 ABC has ever witnessed.

Not bad for a guy who started writing songs for a joke.