Guessing the Reading & Leeds 2018 Headliners

by oliver butler (@notoliverbutler)

The only enjoyable thing at the start of any year is that festival line ups are now starting to break cover, like springtime buds shooting through the freshly tilled soil. As the low winter sun burns through the clouds, bands are added to line ups, either to the excited squeals of diehard fans, or audible gulps of disappointed punters who’ve bet their summer on this.

Me, you ask? After completely blowing my load at the Download headliners for different reasons, I’ve wanted to blow chunks at everything past that. Volbeat? Fucking VOLBEAT? Furthermore, with no Glastonbury to get wet and wild at this year, I am technically festival freelance and will be calling 2000Trees my home this year.

However, what say you, dear reader? Are you holding out on the Reading & Leeds lineup being announced? To help you out, I’ve put together a little list of who you might find topping the bill over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Disclaimer: The probability for each act comes down to how likely I think they are to headline, something that is entirely subjective – I believe each artist here is more than capable of headlining.

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Arctic Monkeys

Well, it just has to be, doesn’t it? Every other fucking festival in the known universe has managed to bag these suave simian songsmiths as a headliner, so for Andy Copping to miss out on these boys as headliners would the biggest musical foul-up since St. Anger. It’s been five long years since AM, and most of the Arctics have kept busy; frontman Alex Turner dicking about with Miles Kane in the Last Shadow Puppets, Matt Helders has been dicking about with Iggy Pop and Joshua Homme in Post Pop Depression, so all in all, a lot of dicking around has been done since AM and their 2014 headline slot at R&L.

With a whole plethora of festival dates announced for AM, plus constant tongue cluckings that new material is but a hair away from being released, don’t be surprised if the Monkeys take to the coveted Main Stage Sponsored by Tuborg – Liquid Soundtrack to the sound of a new album. Do bear in mind though that the boys have already confirmed their festival dates for 2018 and R&L is weirdly absent though this could merely be a case of keeping things under wraps for an announcement extravaganza. 

Probability Rating: Andy Copping never usually misses a trick, so for him to let AM slip by would be a huge surprise. 8/10

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Guns ‘n’ Roses

The last time GnR headlined the Carling Weekender, it went pretty fucking wrong, pretty fucking quickly. A waylaid Axl Rose showed up some thirty hours after stage time and then incited a riot after they cut the power on him. However, reunited with Slash & Duff, things seem to be a lot smoother, and the ‘Not In This Lifetime’ tour seems to be the show of a lifetime. Guns are already headlining Download this year, but big mad Andy knows that booking this band is a licence to print money, and big mad Axl knows that this tour is a licence to print money. It’s a match made in heaven!

Considering that many people’s festival plans have been cemented, R&L needs to bring in some big marquee names to try and get day punters coming through the door, and a line up consisting of either GnR or Arctic Monkeys, or both, could be enough to tip the scales for a lot of people.

Probability Rating: Quite high, but should still be considered an outside bet. 7/10

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Paramore

Rumour has it that we’ll see a complete mirror image of the 2014 lineup at the top, minus Blink 182, and few bands are more deserving of top billing than Paramore right now. After Laughter was a smash hit, and they’ve been wowing UK arena crowds in 2018 already, so for them to carry that momentum forwards into an August headline slot would be of no effort at all.

R&L also needs a strong, female-fronted headliner too. Too many festival lineups these days are a boys club, and to overlook such a solid headliner as Paramore would be beyond the pale, you hear me, Copping?! Beyond the pale.

Probability Rating: 2014 was a good year, Donald Trump was just a television sex pest instead of a sex pest who could nuke Korea. Good times, lads. 9/10.

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Queens of the Stone Age

Are QotSA still cancelled? Joshua Homme kicked a girl in the face which is an objective dick move, but I genuinely think he needs some help to be less of a cunt his whole life. Either way, with the rumour being that we’ll get a mirror image of 2014, QotSA are in pole position to headline the festival, instead of a co-headline spot with Paramore, and cancelled or not, Villains was a world-beater of an album.

Further to this, Queens are holding a little festival of their own in Finsbury Park, featuring them, obviously, Iggy Pop, The Hives, Run The Jewels and many more! I see a lot of promoted ads for it, so I don’t think it’s sold or selling out. The Hives though, and Iggy Pop.

Probability Rating: 2014 was a good year, we’d not yet gone full Tory, instead of a full Tory that’s likely going to drive us off a cliff. Good times, lads. 9/10

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CHVRCHES

ALL CAPS! CHVRCHES are clearly a new band, because they’ve had to resort to alternate vowels to find a new band name, but since their debvt they’ve been vnstoppable, with Lavra Mayberry’s soothing silky voice settling like fresh snow on their ethereal beats. With a new album on the horizon, it’s a risky business to promote anyone as yet untested up to the headline scene, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Get two veterans, like AM and GnR for instance as the ‘safe bets’, then give CHVRCHES the Saturday slot to let them spread their wings.

We gave Biffy & Foals the same chances in recent years, let’s move another great British band up the ranks now.

Probability Rating: A woman?! Headlining MY festival?! It’s more likely than you think. 6/10

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Metallica

YEAHEAHEAH. As covered earlier, Copping needs some serious firepower to get people coming through the gates, and who better than 2015 headliners Metallica to add that star power? Metallica sell arenas out worldwide and could sell a day at Reading & Leeds out with the first bar of Enter Sandman. Metallica played an arena run in 2017, but haven’t headlined a UK festival since R&L in 2015.

I’d had them as surefire Download headliners this year, but as per usual, I was wrong. Metallica are metal, yes, but their uber-corporate image has allowed them to transcend the heavy metal label & become mainstream darlings. Do NOT count this band out.

Probability Rating: I’m pretty sure I’m just booking the lineup now. 6/10.

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Wolf Alice

Much like CHVRCHES, Wolf Alice are new blood, mere wolf cubs than big adult wolves, but have absolutely set the world on fire since their debut. Visions of a Life was one of the best albums of 2017, and Ellie Rowsell’s screams would gladly rock the foundations of the Main Stage Sponsored by Volkswagen – Liquid Soundtrack to its very core.

Same principal as CHVRCHES, sandwich them between two heavyweight veterans, get people along for the weekend, let them spread their wings and prove their worth on the main stage. Nobody ever got famous for being careful.

Probability Rating: It’s a good concept, getting two heavyweights, selling people into weekend tickets and give a young’un a chance, which is why it’ll probably never happen; 5/10.

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Royal Blood

Now, there IS an outside chance that could come true. Sold out arenas across the world, two hugely popular albums, Glastonbury sub-headliners, which is basically your ticket to headline any other festival, there’s no barrier to the Brighton two-piece taking the top bill.

Setlist wouldn’t be a problem, as their UK arena setlist was essentially the first two albums but slapped like all hell. You’d be an absolute sausage to rule out these boys taking the Sunday or Friday headline slot.

Probability Rating: I know you hate them, but you can’t hate them as much as Andy Copping loves money. 7/10.

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Lorde

Another outside bet, but if two juggernauts were to top the bill, rolling the dice on someone like Lorde could pay dividends. Plus, if you end up getting two male, rock headliners, getting a female pop sensation could offer balance and something other than a rock band on one of the nights. Melodrama was a huge, huge album & she headlined the Other Stage at Glastonbury last year but curiously only did a small hall/academy tour of the UK. If you’re good enough, you’re old enough is the saying, and Lorde is more than capable of taking a headline slot.

Probability Rating: Maybe this time I’ll remember to get fucking tickets. 5/10

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Chase and Status

Genuinely not the stupidest festival rumour you’ll hear this year, Chase & Status sub-headlined to Eminem in 2013, and have their new album, Tribes, just dying to be played. With a rock-heavy lineup, Chase & Status could be the tonic in the gin that this lineup needs, with international clout, an absolute armful of hits and guest stars, it’d be madness to rule out the kings of drum & bass this August.

Probability: Actually not a bad shout, well done me. 7/10

See also: Pendulum; that’s a 2/10 chance, but have that comeback clout behind them.

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Gig Review: Royal Blood @ Arena Birmingham

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

Gig day! Let’s have a checklist, yeah? Tightness in my chest? Check. Breathless and gasping for air? You bet. Adrenaline pumping as I surge through the crowd? Oh baby, you’d better believe it! However, this had nothing to do with the fact Royal Blood were playing Arena Birmingham, no, no, all these strange feelings were because my ticket was sitting on my mate’s coffee table, and I had to sprint double time to get there and back in time for the main event.

Royal Blood are a conundrum of a band. They’re a heavy-handed rock and roll outfit that even your dad will enjoy, surging to the very top of the music game: on the other hand, people seem to stick their tongue out because, well, I don’t know. This is quite bias, as you could present me a band with heavy riffs and loosely veiled innuendos about fucking as lyrics and I’d hail them as the next biggest thing, but hey, I’ll leave the technical jazz conceptual fusion to your weird mate Kevin.

 

Photo by Joseth Carter

 

However, the tens of thousands who’d shuffled into the arena loudly welcomed the band on stage, with the fuzz-tastic Lights Out kicking off proceedings. For a two-man operation, their sound and presence filled the entire stage in a barrage of lights, sound, lasers and Ben Thatcher. Despite the fact that the power duo share just a drumkit, a bass guitar and a top secret pedalboard, they created a wall of sound that shook the arena to its core. Seriously, during a much-needed Ben Thatcher drum solo, the screens were rattling under the force of his cowbell.

With just two albums under their belts, it must have been a stretch for them to construct an arena headling setlist. Nope. Again, bias speaking, but it was nothing but choice cuts. It’d be easier to list songs they didn’t include, but my policy on doing that is Don’t Tell, because that’d be Careless. But an 18 song setlist when they have two albums means that not many were left behind, but it made for a tight, flowing set that only allowed occasional gasps of air.

When How Did We Get So Dark? came out, I stuck my tongue out and chuntered on about second album syndrome. But this ugly duckling has become my most favourite swan in 2017, with Hook Line & Sinker, Where Are You Now?, Sleep, Hole in Your Heart absolutely stealing the show on Saturday evening. But the growth has been absolutely amazing, when I saw them in the Wolverhampton Civic back at the start of 2015 and it felt like Mike Kerr hid himself in his guitar, fully focusing on on the show. At the latter half of 2017, he is at one with his guitar, silkily moving up and down the fretboard whilst taking some time out to have a chat with the audience. There’s the rock ‘n’ roll cocksureness, but the disbelief that two lads from Brighton have made it this far.

 

Photo by Joeseth Carter.

 

What made this show extra special, including the fact that this is their biggest show to date, was the whole production value of it all. The flashing lights, the way laser showered the band, locking them in a strobelight prison of their own creation, the moving screen literally bringing the roof down and the hip swinging backing singers, giving the wall of sound that bit of extra oomph whilst giving a familiar air of that rock ‘n’ roll ooh la la. The growth & evolution of Royal Blood has been massive, from relative heavy unknowns to a global phenomenon, but they’ve grown into it without any kind of fuss.

I’d also like to pause it here, before we go to the explosive, creamy finale to yet again lecture you about moshpit etiquette, as it seems to be a ‘mainstream’ activity these days. First things first, it’s pretty simple: prepare to get knocked about a bit, and always pick up your fallen comrade. Don’t trample all over some poor fucker on the floor or come and shake everyone’s hand with a white hoodie draped over your shoulders warning about “elbows”. You’re in a mosh pit, you dull fuck. Second, there’s a time and a place, don’t just open it up because a new song is starting, open on the build-up, get stuck in on the drop. Third, if you’re gonna stand filming the mosh pit, don’t be shocked when you get driven into the middle of things – time waits for no mosh.

Right. Yeah. There.

The set was a mix of old classics and new favourites, with Little Monster, Come On Over, Loose Change, Figure It Out and Ten Tonne Skeleton sending the crowd into near frenzy. Brand new for twenty seventeen is something every RB fan has been waiting for; a Ben Thatcher drum solo. Also, he crowd surfed & took his hat off and I swear to fucking god I was shocked to see that there was hair under his hat. I assumed it was wires and motherboards. But from the first fuzz of Lights Out to the insanity of the extended Out of the Black finale, Royal Blood were at the very top of their game, pausing only momentarily to drink in the fact that most of Birmingham had showed up to say hello. There was also a tribute to Malcom Young, who had sadly passed on that day, with the boys blasting a bit of Back in Black for Birmingham.

It’s hard to see where Royal Blood go from here. Their appeal is stratospheric & their riffs are devastatingly powerful, even in the vast cavern of an arena. However, the betting man in me says that they’re only going to go up.

Ending the show, Mike Kerr said he hoped we all got laid, and well Mike, I’m still waiting.

Great gig though.

FESTIVAL REVIEW – Gettin’ Glastönbutlered

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

The key thing you need to take into consideration with Glastonbury is that it is not your common garden music festival. I mean, first of all, it’s actually a ‘Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts’, which is true, because no matter where you go in those trillion square acres of Somerset countryside, there is always something weird and wonderful going on.

Whilst yer da was at home complaining about how Jeremy Corbyn and Ed Sheeran was on his telly with 6,000 other available channels, there were a million other things happening. People were indulging themselves in ancient cultures, sampling some of the world’s hottest and most loved musical and artistic acts, and slightly overweight music writers were permanently sipping beer as they thought of what they were actually going to say about Glastonbury.

https://twitter.com/notoliverbutler/status/877657321886896129

Sorry to disappoint you, but there’s no perfect way to describe it. As soon as you sweep through the sleepy village of Pilton, Somerset, you’re greeted by sights that would put Disneyland to shame, and it really is Disneyland for grownups. There’s so much whimsy, magic and wonder as you stroll about Farmer Eavis’ Gigantic Farm of Banter, and the view at night from the hill on which the Glastonbury sign sits is unparalleled.

In every sense of the matter, this festival is huge, and the big name bands are merely just a side show. If you spend an entire Glastonbury weekend just watching bands, then buddy, you done fucked up.

However, my job for this website is literally writing about bands, so let’s talk about that, shall we?

Thursday

Old Dirty Brasstards

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ga25UP2Lt8

Ooooooooh I’m drunk, and these boys are the perfect accompaniment to any decent session. The tweed-clad army of lads play up-tempo covers of some of your favourite pop and rock songs, opening 2017’s set with a beautiful rendition of QotSA’s No One Knows, followed by Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, and of course, for the stars of Friday’s show, a cover of Radiohead’s Paranoid Android, all expertly communicated through the jovial means of brass and percussion. Without hyperbole, if these boys played a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night, there’s every chance I’d have sacked one of the headliners off to see them. The Brasstards are the perfect feel good start to a weekend of quality music.

10/10

BANDS SEEN: 1

BEERS DRANK: Got a bit hazy around twenty. Went to Pimp My Fries, then strolling around the legendary South East Corner, on the hunt for some good times. Threw up. A lot.

Friday

Oh God. Is it possible to be this hungover? I can just about move my body and that’s to poke my head out of the tent pod’s little window to retch the last of my pimped fries up. Damn you Pimp My Fries. This Friday at Glastonbury is going to suck even more as in the evening, Radiohead, Lorde, Sleaford Mods, Dizzee Rascal AND Clean Bandit all clash. Fuck this festival and the sheer amount of quality musicians on offer.

Nothing But Thieves

They’re nonces, Jim.

Royal Blood

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8AuiZ0O6Qg

Here’s another hot-as-bollocks band with a second album that’s come out in 2017, which, at first was a bit disappointing, but has grown on me, with live performances of Where Are You Now?, Lights Out, Hook Line and Sinker and Hole In Your Heart strengthening the love for How Did We Get So Dark? 

But it just wouldn’t be a Royal Blood set without jams like Figure it Out, Little Monster, and the almighty Out of the Black closing the set, with a massive cock tease as sticksman Ben Thatcher went into the crowd just before the final riff, only for the camera to pan to LARS FUCKING ULRICH FROM FUCKING METALLICA, maybe nodding to the fact that Lars took over the drums once before whilst Ben got closer to the crowd. However, it wasn’t meant to be, but Christ almighty, what a set!

8/10

The XX

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhZTexVqRCI

I’ll level with you here. I watched these guys from my chair back at the tent which overlooks the Pyramid, because I couldn’t face standing up for a few hours waiting for Thom Yorke and His Gaggle of Weird Lads to show up. But having never really given them the time of day before, they were very impressive, and their airy, synthy sound was the perfect relaxer for a man with a devastating hangover. However, I did have a can. Lovely.

Look, if you’re looking for someone who spent his weekend sober, whilst sticking religously to his itinerary, trying to review as many bands as he could, you’ve come to the wrong place.

7/10 

Radiohead

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGFg0FN2yBU

Bucket list band time here gang. Ever since I got my pubescent paws on a copy of OK Computer and The Bends whilst only really knowing the words to Creep, I’ve wanted to see this band, but in my heart of hearts, I knew they’d disappoint me because of how much I wanted this.

The first bar of Daydreaming and there was zero possible way that Radiohead could disappoint me tonight. I was stood around the WORST people, including a group of LadBible fanatics doing keys of MD, a man in slacks and a fleece taking photos of EVERYTHING, a couple who wouldn’t stop fucking kissing and literally Your Dad singing every word of every song but sulking through Creep.

However, the set was perfect, the notable highlight being the eerie silence during Exit Music (For a Film), turning that song from a 10/10 to a 20/10. Songs such as Ful Stop, Weird Fishes, Lotus Flower, Bodysnatchers and Nude made an appearance because I’m Thom fucking Yorke mate. A friend commented that they’ve got to play Pyramid Song because they’re on the Pyramid Stage, and they did! But probably not for that reason, probably because I’m Thom fucking Yorke mate.

Whilst some bands stick to their vanilla setlists to please all palettes, I can’t even work out what flavour this set was. Aged pistachio or something. But when you get Fake Plastic Trees and Karma Police as some of the final accents, it can be whatever flavour you want it to be. Truly one of the best sets I’ve ever seen. Ever.

10/10

BEERS DRANK: Two! Two!

BANDS SEEN: Four. Ish. 

Saturday

Fresh as a daisy mate. Fresh. As. A. Daisy. I’ve probably had 10 hours sleep, and I’m ready to have halloumi for breakfast. I think I had halloumi. Really it’s hard to work out what happened and when, but one thing I can tell you for definite is that Saturday started with…

Jools Holland and His Rhythm and Blues Orchestra

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6naZMWemDs

No word of a lie, there were fewer bands I was more excited to see this weekend. When he’s not walking backwards in a studio introducing bands, he’s an accomplished blues pianist, bringing boogie to all the land, and with his full orchestra, oh my, it’s a party!

Jools and his guests played a variety of covers, getting an early afternoon audience up and ready, pumping them full of feel good, including a joyful cover of Enjoy Yourself by The Specials, and an appearance from my favourite, the Queen herself, Ruby Turner.

One thing I would recommend is getting tickets to go and see this man. You won’t have a better evening, I guarantee.

9/10

Craiiig David

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuUZh81B27I

Re-rewind, when I run back to the tent for more beers!

Straight off the bat, Craiiig David was a delight to see, playing a mix of orignal garage, soul and R&B classics, plus a few covers and a TS5 DJ set. It also led to the theory that Bo’ Selecta! did actually ruin Craiiig David‘s life, in that when introducing the stone cold banger that is Rise and Fall, he spoke about coming through adversity and how writing music helped him get through some tough times. Bo’ Selecta! came out in 2002, Rise and Fall came out in 2003. Your honour, no further questions.

But needless to say, Craiiig David had the last laugh, as he’s had a number one album, a UK wide arena tour, played the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury whilst Avid Merrion being about as funny as a haemmorhoid being Keith Lemon. So who won that round? Ya boi Craig did.

8/10

Jeremy Corbyn

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVGFi8balOM

“WOAAAAH JEREMY CORBYN! I don’t give a fuck about him, I voted UKIP” – those lads doing MDMA behind me at Radiohead.

Still never know which way Glastonbury leans. Whilst it’s an inherently left leaning festival in that it used to be a CND festival, it is chock full of Tories, and when they try to mosh, they endager the lives of everybody in that pit. That being said, worst you could do is give them a head injury and create a Lib Dem front bencher.

Oh yeah, Jeremy Corbyn.

It was a rapturous reception for the Labour party leader, with the field surrounding the Pyramid packed to the rafters (there are no rafters in fields, but fuck you) for his address, stirring the souls of every person in that field, giving a lucky young boy named Michael Eavis a signed copy of the Labour manifesto. Well jel. Whilst he was preaching to the many converted, undoubtedly there were a few who couldn’t help but be enthused by his message.

1 billion/10

Run the Jewels

Image result for run the jewels glastonbury 2017

Another tent special. Good guys, good sound, good message.

7/10

Liam Gallagher

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xo_GcOsp4k

Oh my God. This guy is literally Your Dad. He’s in his anorak, trying to sing Oasis coverOH it’s Liam Gallagher. If you were at that gig, please let me know if you were also there, purely for him to say “Oh and by the way, this is my brother Noel“.

In defence of the lesser of the two evils, sound quality plagued the Other Stage for the entire weekend, but the sound quality was still dire, as an anaemic crowd tried to pretend they gave a shit about Wall of Glass. Sure he played Rock n Roll Star, Morning Glory and Slide Away, plus an emotional rendition of Don’t Look Back In Anger, but there was little substance to this set, making the fact I ran out of cans even more upsetting. Jesus.

4/10

Katy Perry

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5vp6usKX_Y

Caught the last bar of Roar, because it takes 9 years to walk anywhere ¯\_()_/¯

The National

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBg9xysCYwU

Mad how Jurgen Klopp manages Liverpool and also fronts The National. Top boy all round. Being honest, I’ve got little to no interest in The National and couldn’t work out why they were sub headlining Saturday but the Eaviseseseseses are absolute r/madlads, so you’ve just gotta ROLL WITH IT, GEDDIT?! Oh wait, Liam Gallagher was the last act.

Yeah these guys sounded pretty good, and drew a decent crowd, but I can’t say I’d ever listen to them again.

7/10

Foo Fighters

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2ER7ChXX6s

The more I think about it, the more I realise Foo Fighters is a ridiculous name for one of the world’s biggest bands, but Dave Grohl could start a band named All My Fans Are Cunts and I’d still lap up every note.

Two years ago I was pencilled in to see the Foos twice in two weeks, once at Wembley, and once at Glastonbury, until Dave selfishly broke his leg. Bastard. So this, in many ways, was a redemption gig. Opening the set with Times Like These, dedicated to Florence from Florence and the Machine, who performed the same song two years ago in their headline slot, you knew it was gonna be a good’un.

The thing about Dave Grohl, much like Thom Yorke, means that little to no fucks are given about setlist content. Which is why cats like Cold Day in the Sun, Wheels and Skin and Bones were thrown in amongst the pigeons of All My Life, The Pretender and Monkey WrenchSonic Highways hit Something from Nothing also seems to be a setlist mainstay these days, which is good, because it’s a high-grade banger, along with medium-grade banger Congregation. Brand new banger Run also got a… wait for it! Run out!

The negative points on this report card? No guests. I’ve seen these guys perform motherfucking Under Pressure with goddamn John Paul Jones and christing Roger Taylor before, but there were no special guests this time. But a cover of Under Pressure performed with Taylor Hawkins doing the vocals so that counts, I guess?

The high point of this set? The Everlong ending. Because quite frankly, if anything could ever be that way forever, if anything could ever be that good again, my word.

10/10

BANDS SEEN: Seven. Ish.

BEERS DRANK: So many. At least thirty. Ended up at a silent disco and a communal sleeping tent that honked of incense. N.B. It was a communal sleeping tent, and not an invasion of someone’s tent. 

Sunday

Hungover as fuck, gotta go load the car, so the first band I saw today was in the late afternoon and it was…

Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2oqXN06ffE

He’d be the first to admit it, but Frank Carter is a bona fide madman, and his Sunday teatime slot with The Rattlesnake just adds to that theory. Clad with pink hair, white jeans and a sheer white shirt, the punktastic prince angrily wrangled his way through Sunday afternoon, stopping to throw an entire bottle of piss back in the face of a lad who threw piss at him first during Juggernaut. A madman. A legend. An idol. Tried to start a circle pit through the whole of the tent. Killers fans weren’t having it. Mugs,

The beauty of a Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes set is that you’re guaranteed hits, and with Snake Eyes, Jackal, I Hate You and Lullaby being charmed out the snake basket, it was business as usual from an energetic and enthusing set. Another particular highlight was getting a girls-only crowdsurf during I thiiiiiink it was Devil Inside Me, threatening to decapitate any handsy male who tried groping them, stating that we are all equal, to which the Andy Dick looking motherfucker creepily rubbed his hands together when the subject of groping young women came up, and sulked when Frank said that we were all equal. I hope you do get decapitated, pal.

9/10

The Killers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRF0q6z60hc

Best part about where we camp is that we can hear about four stages clearly. I heard The Killers. In this same time period, I had violent diarrhoea. Go figure.

Chic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2khokvlf_Y

I also heard funktastic disco legends Chic from our tent, which was much, MUCH better, for am I of the opinion that there are few finer guitarists in this world than Nile Rodgers. This set delivered by the bucketload, featuring, Everybody DanceGood TimesLe Freak, fucking He’s the Greatest Dancer, Let’s Dance, GET FUCKING LUCKY, and Good Times. Also featuring a funk off between Nile Rodgers and Jerry Barnes. Jesus Christ.

9/10

Biffy Clyro

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlPt8C5Fnxk

First things first. Biffy should have headline before Sheeran. They’ve got greater pedigree, more albums, more prowess and more fucking everything than someone playing a small guitar. There. I said it. Although someone leaving Chic was saying “I hate Biffy Clyro, he(?)’s shit, ooh, Courteeners are on”. Confusing.

But then again, Biffy were a wildcard. I’d have never painted a band of their demeanour as Glastonbury sub-headliners but they made sure that they secured themselves a second invitation. Definite 2019/20 headliners.

The set was a mix of old and new, opening with Wolves of Winter and ending with Stingin’ Belle,whist throwing Who’s Got A Match?Bubbles, Medicine, Re-Arrange and Animal Style in between those two delicious slices of bread. Also they threw in Puzzle album track 9/15ths because why not? It’s fucking brilliant.

Seriously though, Biffy delivered in a big way, and proved their worth as certified festival headliners.

9/10

Boy Better Know

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_BzqnpyVM8

My relationship with BBK is strained at best. Whilst I remember the days before JME and Skepta had albums and were world renown, I just can’t seem to enjoy a live set, and neither did Glastonbury, as barely anybody showed up. To be honest, the only song I really recognised was That’s Not Me, leading me to realise I’m quite behind on the times with BBK, but will forever remember playing songs like Serious and Doin’ It Again on repeat. Sometimes, the past is best left in the past.

6/10, I guess.

WEEKEND VERDICT

Yet again, this magical festival met my expectations and exceeded them. I had a fantastic weekend with quite literally, all my friends, having a laugh, getting drunk and mooching around the numerous exciting and interesting areas, sights, sounds and indeed, smells, this festival has to offer. Sure I could’ve spent my weekend religiously seeing a lot of bands, but there’s no fucking fun in in that. I could’ve been up, bright and breezy to see someone I’ve never heard of who might be alright, but I’d be on my own, or I could’ve gone for a greasy breakfast and had a few cans with my friends.

What I’m trying to say is that music is beautiful, it’s wonderful and it’s lifesaving, but it’s meaningless if I can’t enjoy it with my pals. They’re the real headliners of any festival, and the highlight of any set. I had a fucking great weekend and had gotten my money’s worth by Wednesday evening, because we were all having a laugh together.

So here’s my final review:

My Pals

A great set from the 14-piece roast-and-booze ensemble, notable highlights including Broken Chairs, Stone Colding Beers, Dancing to Bassline Junkie in the Tent and of course, Saturday Night Piss Up. Could never ask for more from an act.

14/10


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Top 20 Tracks of 2017 (So Far)

While the end of year lists tend to give albums the most significance, these records are nothing but the sum of their parts which, in this case, is the songs. It doesn’t matter what the purpose of these tracks are, some are deep layered entities while others are just straight up lovable bangers, all that needs to be considered is that these songs have made 2017 one of the most exciting and interesting years of music that many of us can recall. Without further ado, let us go down the list of all the singles that we’ve had on loop and may or may not have been signing in the shower every morning for the past few months.

20. Royal Blood – Lights Out

While the album this track appeared on didn’t go down a treat with us, it’s undeniable that Lights Out hit a chord with one or two members of the blinkclyro team. It has all the traits that made Royal Blood one of the surprise big acts when they dropped their debut back in 2014 – that’s really all that needs to be said.

19. I Don’t Wanna Waste My Time by Joji 

No one was really expecting the mind behind the disgusting and ludicrous Filthy Frank to hit out with one of the most beautiful tracks of 2017 but Joji has went and surprised not only us but a lot of the music community.

REVIEW HERE

18. Manchester Orchestra – The Gold

An artist exploring two themes (heartbreak and family qualms) that have been done to death in an intriguing way (using the metaphor of mining work) isn’t something we expected to see pop up on this list but when the band in question is Manchester Orchestra, we really can’t complain.

17. Amber Mark – Lose My Cool

With Amber herself commenting on this track representing the stage of anger in the grieving process, Lose My Cool delivers this catchy yet simple production that lets the lyrics be the star while giving your ears something lovely to relax onto as well. A lot can be happening at once but considering the reaction of  bottling feelings up in this sort of situation, it couldn’t be more perfect.

16. The Kite String Tangle – Selfish

With a stylistic and extravagant use of synths and beats on display, The Kite String Tangle’s return seems to stand out even more with the recent surge of humility and stripping back. Transparent lyrics give the track an extra edge, helping it to differentiate itself from the countless others artists in the IDM genre. 

15. Sampha – (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano

Without even considering the tearful story behind the track, this was the last song Sampha played to his mother and was fitting performed at her funeral, Sampha uses nothing but the piano, his voice and a handful of near silent beats to deliver one of the greatest ballads not only of this year, but of this decade.

REVIEW HERE

14. Pronto Mama – Bottom Feeder 

Any of the 13 tracks that appear on Scottish rockers Pronto Mama‘s debut LP could appear on this list though it just so happens that it’s the intro track that we’ve happened to choose. Visceral lyrics, varied instrumentals and one of the best vocal performances you’ll hear all year, it’s the perfect way to introduce yourself to the Glasgow act.

REVIEW HERE

13. Sorority Noise – Disappeared 

Euphorically upbeat, yet meshing perfectly with the lyrical themes of mourning and death, Sorority Noise exercise their impeccable ability to approach a variety of situations in a way that only they can. Much like many of the tracks on YNA_AYT, Disappeared is gone as fast as it appears yet leaves an imprint in the few minutes its around.

REVIEW HERE

12. Father John Misty – Total Entertainment Forever 

Starting off with one of the best yet weirdest lyrics ever conceived (Bedding Taylor Swift/
Every night inside the Oculus Rift/
After mister and the missus finish dinner and the dishes), Father John Misty makes his mark right out the gate on Total Entertainment Forever, one that he definitely cemented on his recent LP Pure Comedy. Full of social commentary about technology and more, the track proves to be a witty, funny but equally smart song: something that, in this age of turmoil and tyranny, is definitely needed.

REVIEW HERE

11. The National – The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness 

The final refrain of System, “I can’t explain it any other, any other way”, sees Berninger stretched to the limits of his vocal capacity, similar to his end-of-performance outbursts on stage. If any of this is a reliable indicator, Sleep Well Beast, the band’s upcoming LP, threatens to be their best recording yet.

REVIEW HERE

10. Radiohead – I Promise

Both one of the oldest and most recent tracks from Radiohead, the song is one of three previously unreleased from OK Computer, I Promise easily nests itself into the band’s discography with Yorke’s haunting vocal performance and stripped back instrumentals. It’s a track full to the brim with devotion, leading to one of the band’s most romantic songs to date – whether or not that was Yorke and co’s intention.

9. Alt J – In Cold Blood

Channelling a lot of what has made the band’s past releases so great, In Cold Blood is brash, sleek and beautiful all at the same time with an unshakable familiarity to Alt J‘s sophomore LP. It’s just one taste of the unique cohesion of their various pop styles that Relaxer does so well.

REVIEW HERE

8. Wolf Alice – Yuk Foo

Venturing into mostly new territory vocally, Rowsell is known for the occasional scream on tracks such as Giant Peach, but on Yuk Foo, she is all out aggressive; the track relies on her to pull off the sentiment of frustration and she nails it. Wolf Alice deliver one of the most frustration fuelled songs of the year – the band may finally be shaking off the indie rock label for a more punk heavy one and we couldn’t be happier.

REVIEW HERE

7. Stormzy – Big For Your Boots

The best grime track on Stormzy‘s debut LP is lead single Big For Your Boots, which opens with a sample guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. This precedes the chorus which crashes in with Stormzy reminding any challengers that he has size 12 feet and “your face ain’t big for my boot” with a lightning-quick flow in the verses guaranteed to send festival crowds into raptures.

REVIEW HERE

6. King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – The Lord Of Lightning vs Balrog

You would think with the band’s ambitious feat to release four to five albums in 2017 alone that King Gizzard would run out of ideas or fuel by now. Lead single for Murder of the Universe titled Lord of Lighting is enough to put those worries to rest, delivering the most insane song of the band’s career so far, referencing past releases not only by name but style as well.

5. Remo Drive – Yer Killin’ Me

Instrumentation from the intro of this Remo Drive track is reminiscent of bands like Gnarwolves or a heavier The Front Bottoms, the middle of the song sounds like it was influenced by Foals, the end sounding NOTHING like the rest of the song and vocal lines influences from bands like FIDLAR. However, the song still breaks down to be an emo anthem in the end: there aren’t many bands who could throw all of that into an album, let alone one song, but make it sound so effortless and downright beautiful.

REVIEW HERE

4. Frank Ocean – Chanel

Even though Chanel is suspected to have been written post-Blonde it still plays with the same themes, a lack of conventional ‘verse-chorus-verse’ song writing (with the exception of returning lyrics and motifs) and lush instrumentation. The most interesting part about this song is that even thought it was written within a year of the release of Blonde, it feels like it wouldn’t fit on the last album. The song from the start is a beautiful mix of piano, bass and jazz-influenced percussion, (drums and percussion being absent for the majority of Blonde, showing a progression in instrumentation).

REVIEW HERE

3. Francis & The Lights feat. Chance The Rapper – May I Have This Dance?

Remember during the intro when we mentioned that some tracks are just straight up tunes that don’t need analysis to shine? Well, here’s the track that inspired that: sounding like something straight out of a Disney Movie outro, May I Have This Dance is one of the purest songs to drop all year with one deliciously wholesome verse by none other than Chance The Rapper.

2. Lorde – Green Light

One thing that should always subtly remain with you when listening to Lorde‘s music is her age, and what she’s achieved by it. Around the age of 13/14, she was laying the groundwork for her debut album, Pure Heroine, and by the age of 16, she smashed into the face of the earth, becoming an instant success. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Green Light is an utter tune.

The chorus has a dancy, nineties feel as she’ll “get [her] things, but [she] can’t let go”, before segueing back into the sombre, minimalist piano beat as Lorde sometimes “wakes up in a different bed, too”, with the lyrical theme subtly, maturely and perfectly covering the protagonist’s heartbreak & the route to mending that patching up that poorly ticker.

Closing out with a beautiful, yet simplistic synth-style solo with the energetic choral backing vocals weaving in between it, Green Light offers a frank and honest account of a break-up, with the partying that comes as part and parcel of setting yourself right with a maturity, depth and energy that only someone like Lorde can offer you.

REVIEW HERE

1.Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Comparing yourself to a religious symbol is usually bound to result in you becoming an infamous figure. If you need an example then just take a look at Kanye‘s Rolling Stone Cover where he not so subtly recreated the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Unsurprisingly this made Mr West public enemy number one in the eyes of many Christians, something which has continued when he repeatedly announces himself as a god.

So as Kendrick Lamar donned pope robes for the music video accompanying new single Humble, his second track in the space of a week following The Heart Part 4, you would have expected him to maybe take a second to reconsider his attire. Throughout this track, though, Kendrick isn’t concerned with the thoughts of others as we get an abundance of braggadocious bars that the Compton rapper hasn’t really channeled since his second studio album Good Kid, m.A.A.d city. 

Accompanied by the punchiest 808 bass line you’ll hear this year along with a catchy piano riff, this is the first witnessing of Kendrick‘s departure of the jazz-fuelled sound that can be found all over To Pimp A Butterfly and untitled.unmastered. Not only this but the lyrics seem to channel a lot more of the narrative that carried the aforementioned Good Kid, m.A.A.d city with Kendrick spouting lines about his youth surrounded by gang affiliations and cheap grub before he begins to brag about money and sex with one of the wittiest albeit cheesiest lines of the year so far (parmesan where my accountant lives).

While some may feel a bit light changed by DAMN., though not us, Humble cements Kendrick as not only the greatest rapper of the 21st century but a serious contestant for the GOAT title.


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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.

3/10


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Track Review: Hook, Line and Sinker by Royal Blood

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

Coming back after their meteoric rise up the UK’s musical mountain with their eponymous 2014 debut, Brighton decibel enthusiasts Royal Blood are back with their second single, Hook, Line, and Sinker, which will be part of their new album, How Did We Get So Dark?

Hook, Line, and Sinker is an old-ish Royal Blood song, debuted at their appearance at Leed Festival 2015, this bluesy ear rogering was already popular with fans, and a full-frontal studio release lives up to the hype that this song promised.

There are two schools of thought with this song that make it incredibly listenable: the first is the heavy, driving, bluesy sound coming from Mike Kerr‘s Magical Bass Guitar™ that reminds you of guitar riffs from a bygone era. Of course, it’d be unwise to draw comparisons, but the simplistic, yet aggressive hook that this song begins with is enough to knock you out of your trousers. One of the heaviest songs produced in Royal Blood‘s short-yet-massive (ooer missus) career, it’s a dirty, gritty ride the whole way through, with you needing a cigarette afterward.

The second is the lyrical flow of this song. The way “Then she drags me by one finger, to her lips hook, like and sinker, honey I’m a sucker when you linger” is a stonker of a line, and is highly relatable to anyone who’s ever found themselves addicted to the beautiful poison. You know this person’s no good for you, but yes, boom, they drag you back in, no matter how hard you try to escape, hook, line and… yeah, sinker. The whole lyrical makeup of this song is brilliant, and likely stems from Kerr and Thatcher ‘leading normal lives’ off the back of their white-hot debut album cycle.

It’d be foolish to draw any comparisons at the risk of looking like a complete fool, but the sound of this track really has a classic feel to it. Not in a ‘yer da still can’t name another band apart from Pink Floyd when complaining about music‘ sort of way, but in a way that it’s a brutally simple concept that really works with a heavy-but-not-too-heavy bluesy overdrive, with modern finishes.

Whilst many are quick to stick their tongues out at the thought of Royal Blood, it’s their brutal simplicity and lyrical relevance that makes them so popular. Whilst the two tracks to give a flavour of How Did We Get So Dark? are more complex and deeper than their relatives on Royal Blood, it’s still the aggressive simplicity and easily digestible lyrical content that makes Royal Blood the hitmakers. Sometimes, you don’t want something deep, meaningful and special, you just want a bit of rough that’s easy to get through and leaves you feeling satisfied at the end. Which is what these two are so good at.

9/10


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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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