While music is *shock* for your ears to enjoy, it was only a matter of time before it branched into a medium that could stimulate most, though maybe not all of your senses (only Spy Kids 4D can offer you that).
It’s been almost four decades since the first music video aired on MTV in 1979, aptly titled Video Killed The Radio Star by The Buggles, but since then, we’ve been blessed with experimental, haunting and evoking pieces of visual spectacle that have only gone to add to our enjoyment of certain music. Here are just five of these pieces, chose by none other than the writers of this very site – enjoy.
Oblivion is pretty simple in comparison to Grimes’ other more theatrical, character-based music videos. But somehow delivers the strongest message. Grimes puts herself in male-dominated spaces, reclaiming her body after sexual assault. Although such an intense topic, she manages to bridge the gap between her and the men in the video.
She breaks down the intimidating reputation sports arenas and male locker rooms have, as well as flipping the male-gaze on its head. The start shows her cautiously navigating unfamiliar places but the video ends with her standing tall amongst her male counterparts.
Gregor Farquharson (@grgratlntc): Lost Little Boys by Fatherson
The way this video follows two best friends dealing with the loss of one of their wives is beautiful – it shows the fun the three always had and the heartache of the man who’s lost his lover.
The feeling when we find out the best friend had an affair with the wife tears apart the viewer but when the two come together at the end and makeup, the emotion felt is unreal. Put together with a strong song, this music video is a real treat to watch.
Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro): Come To Daddy by Aphex Twin
While the videos so far have been about evoking empowerment or sadness, there’s one feeling we haven’t quick chatted about yet.
Seeing as it’s appeared on various “100 Scariest Moments of TV” lists, it should be no surprise that this one is a bit creepy. Filmed in the same estate that Stanley Kubrick’s classic A Clockwork Orange was, the video includes a gang of small children with Richard D James’ face wreaking havoc while an evil spirit emerges who’s face is very much nightmare worthy. Watch this one with the lights off.
The video for one of the NYC trio’s biggest hits really speaks for itself. The Beastie Boys took a much different approach to their videos in comparison to some of the more glamorous productions that became popular in the 90s. With that being said, the videos of the Beastie Boys were often just as extravagant, but took a less serious approach and implemented their unique style just as they had done with their music.
The video sees basically comes off as an 80s-cop movie, with plenty of moustaches and bad special effects. As their popularity increased, their music video budget seemed to stay the same as the video for Sabotage looks like a video made by the class clowns of a film class. This all plays into the Beastie Boys charm and makes for one of the funniest and most memorable music videos from the 90s.
Will Sexton (@willshesleeps): Sweetheart What Have You Done To Us by Keaton Henson
Keaton’s haunting musicianship alone is always enough to bring you to tears but the sheer vulnerability and simplicity of this music video bring it to a new level. The spacey guitar and vocals compliment the image of the open sea and staring straight into Henson’s eyes aren’t easy considering the pain and anguish expressed in the lyrics.
However, the climax of the song where it physically gets too much for the musician and he walks off set is hard to watch without feeling something at the very least. Whether it was scripted or not (knowing about his chronic stage fright and anxiety issues we would presume not) it doesn’t matter as the closing scene of him crying offset breaks your heart.
For those amongst us who enjoy the sound, smell, sight and sheer eye-watering expense of vinyl, Record Store Day is pretty much our musical Christmas, not least because vast sums of money will be spent on gifts, all of them for ourselves. However, with the sheer volume of releases, re-releases and special editions on offer, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees, so we’ve assembled some of our finest vinyl collectors to give you their hot picks for RSD ’18.
Not to be confused with the indie-pop outfit that share the same name, Twin Peaks is easily one of the finest pieces of entertainment to grace us and while it may have changed over the past couple of decades, its quality is consistent. This includes its score and soundtrack which range from flourishes of cheesy soap opera romance to borderline nightmarish remixes of classic tracks, all adding to the formula that makes Twin Peaks such a stunning piece of art.
Sufjan Stevens – Mystery of Love EP
While its title song may have been “done dirty” at the Oscars according to some people, there’s no denying Sufjan Stevens crafted one of 2017’s most beautiful songs for an equally mesmerising film. Call Me By Your Name wasn’t a film that relied on its soundtrack but it was one that was vastly improved by its gorgeous music which all comes to the tracks featured on this EP. If you’re maybe in the mood for something a bit different from your usual rock affair then this will be right up your street.
Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy (Mirror to Mirror)
The original version of one of 2018’s best albums (so far), the 2011 version of Will “Massive Furry” Toledo’s best album is a brilliant insight into how a songwriters’ style can change as they do as people. Some of the lyrics are different, some of the breakdowns are different, the whole mood of the album has changed in 7 years, and I just think it’ll be cool to hear the original on a beautiful, heavy piece of vinyl mate, ok?
Florence + The Machine – “Sky Full of Song”/”New York Poem (for Polly)”
Really hope someone will be able to pick up this gorgeous new single from Florence + The Machine (AS I’M WORKING THE WHOLE WEEKEND NOO!)*. Lovely new art-pop single from Florence and co. Love the ethereal, stripped back sound and it’s nice to hear something fresh from the band, being the first piece of music in 2 years since the gorgeous How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. What is more interesting is the new single is backed by Florence’s first recorded poem! Coming from her first book Useless Magic (released 5th of July), New York Poem (for Polly) will be a very interesting listen!
What’s not to love about one of contemporary rock’s greatest bands releasing a Record Store Day exclusive vinyl, documenting their 2017 performance of arguably their most important album front to back?
Anyone who’s managed to catch The National performing tracks from Boxer live, either in concert or on YouTube, will know not only the added energy they bring to certain songs – such as Squalor Victoria or mistaken for strangers – but the deft touch of dynamics and tension the group tweak for some of their biggest numbers (see: Fake Empire and Slow Show). Also, it has a cool as shit reworking of the original album’s cover art. Gimme… NOW.
In a move that’ll shock absolutely no one, my hot pick for RSD ’18 is a reissue of Motorhead’s 1993 album Bastards under the guise of Death or Glory. If anyone’s interested, which they’re not, ‘Head were, as ‘Head do, having some trouble with their record company, and the family-friendly titled album was only largely released in Germany, and in the rest of the world, you couldn’t even steal it. A real shame considering it was one of the best, if not the best, albums they’ve ever produced.
Sure you’ve got Motorhead by numbers tracks like Burner and Born to Raise Hell, but Bastards had a wider range and more emotional depth with songs like Lost in the Ozone and Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me, a harrowing song about the horrors of child abuse. A must listen for the most seasons of Motorhead fans, or for anyone who wants a crash course in the band’s range & depth.
Motorhead – Heroes
Heroes was something that came out of the blue, more than a year after Lemmy’s tragic passing. The final word had been growled; no new Motorhead or “lost” recordings. Then seemingly out of nowhere came this emotional, expertly done cover of Bowie’s Heroes. Not too detached from the original that it’s a hatchet job, but retains that Motorhead magic. It then formed part of a covers album, which featured the band covering some of their favourite songs, including a, dare I say it, better than original cover of Metallica’s Whiplash.
Side B features a “live” version of Heroes, featuring the most angelic of voices, the Wacken Open Air Festival choir. Lovely stuff.
Raw emotion and wearing your heart on your sleeve in music can be very much a make or break for some bands. You can miss the mark slightly or, in The Wonder Years’ case, you can execute it expertly and continue to impress with hard-hitting, gorgeous lyricism that will never get old. One of the most impressive and consistently evolving pop-punk/alternative rock bands in recent times returns with their sixth album Sister Cities, an album whose opening riffs and drums sends goosebumps down your spine straight off the bat. Strap yourself in for a whirlwind tour of the past couple years of frontman and singer Dan Campbell’s life.
The album as a whole is very much based on travel, the effects of touring and being away from friends and family for a prolonged amount of time. Campbell himself even states that this album was “a record about distance, or maybe how little the distance matters anymore. It’s a record about how big we all thought it all was, and how much closer to everyone we really are.” The writing process included Campbell keeping a journal throughout their 2015 world tour and circling the most important and stand-out moments, which eventually became the songs you hear today.
Business gets underway on an incredibly strong note with the heart-wrenching Raining in Kyoto, a song written about Campbell’s late grandfather who sadly passed away while they were on tour; a song subject that, even on paper, is heartbreaking. The lyrics are something that you can never mention enough when it comes to The Wonder Years because the band have perfected this transparent songwriting when you can really feel and can almost see the emotion on Campbell’s face while recording the vocals. What makes this song so evocative is that this subject of ‘being away on tour while someone important to you is hurting/ill’ has been approached as a fear of Campbell’s already in the song Dismantling Summer from their 2013 album The Greatest Generation, which only adds to the sorrow. It’s this transparency that really ranks this band highly in the scene they’re in. It’s relatable to some and everyone who hears Campbell singing at the VERY least feels empathy.
On the other side of evoking emotion, Flowers Where Your Face Should Be (Considered You In January [Part 2] from their 2015 album No Closer To Heaven) is about Campbell’s now-wife and about preparing for their wedding day. It was influenced by seeing some blue Hydrangeas on tour, resulting in the most impressively affecting writing he has ever done. Aided by some incredibly soft instrumentation, it builds up to be one of the most romantic pieces of work they have put out. It’s a nice emotion shift from the other heavier songs. Some of the lyrics are nostalgic and sad, creating a lovely contradiction within the song itself, finally building up into that last line sung mostly in gorgeous falsetto: “I’m gonna marry you underneath driftwood from Crescent City”, a link to the arch that Campbell built himself for his own wedding. Having light and dark sides is very important for albums of this timbre.
The instrumentation is mostly the same compared to their older albums; however, there have been some defining genre changing moments, further solidifying their sound into alt-rock. These changes include some spacey electronic bass on the intro to their (not-technically official) second single Pyramids of Salt, which adds an element of eeriness. It could do with a little perfection, though – it’s pretty much a one-off throughout the record, so it feels like it sticks out a bit. That being said, on Flower Where Your Face Should Be they’ve utilised some different guitar pedals that haven’t featured much previously, which is refreshing to hear.
Two tracks that dictate a shift in subject matter are When the Blue Finally Came and We Look Like Lightning. When the Blue Finally Came is written about a moment on tour when the band went cliff diving in Sydney, Australia. It’s such a simple subject matter but somehow becomes a breath of fresh air in the album, while the instrumental relief relaxes you. In comparison to this ode to the exciting rush and celebration of life, We Look Like Lightning is written about the fears of death while flying in planes. The Wonder Years as a band flew on up to 40 flights around the world supporting their last album cycle in one year, so Campbell writes about the increasing chance of the plane crashing and “what song you’d wanna die to”. Still very much connected to the overall theme of traveling and touring these two juxtaposing song subjects add to the overall space that this album was born in.
Very specific highlights of this album also include the chords changes and vocal performance in the chorus of The Ghosts of Right Now, a song which is interpreted as being about wanting to spend time with the people you’re no longer able to, whether it be because of them passing or just not being around. The “wanting to see how the light collects in the high desert heat” is so specific and evoking. The second highlight is the connection of the soft and spacious When the Blue Finally Came to The Orange Grove. The transitionis so seamless; like the calm before the storm. While WTBFC celebrates the feeling of enjoying somewhere new and exciting, The Orange Grove is the feeling of yearning for places you know and wanting to be back in time with the people you used to be around. The third and final of these highlights is the chorus of Sister Cities, the massive title track and lead single of the album. It is the song that will be screamed back at the band in live performances and the raw power from the vocals is another home run for The Wonder Years.
Every song on this album deserves its spotlight, which is the most powerful thing about this album. The Wonder Years have been on some serious journeys over the last two years and Campbell is able to take you on those journeys with them so easily through his incredible lyricism and storytelling. The absolute pinnacle of the album comes in the form of the end track The Ocean Grew Hands To Hold Me. You’ve been on this adventure with the band and finally pull up to the last, incredibly emotional track which explores the idea that all of the people you have ever met and made a connection with are an ‘ocean’; an ocean that you wish you could drown yourself in when you feel cut off and far away from home. After the final slamming of drums and aggressive strumming of guitars, you feel complete empathy. An excellent piece of work. Congratulations, boys.
It’s not often you’ll find a gig review that starts off with the writer in question stressing how nervous he is yet here we are: I was nervous about tonight’s gig. Each to their own but I enjoy looking up setlists before I see bands in order to get super hyped, in addition to stopping myself getting disappointed when one of the deeper cuts I adore no doubt gets left out, inadvertently tainting the night.
So seeing Bon Iver was even more of a Russian roulette: the long-awaited first night they played in London this year (their first English gig since 2012) Bon Iver played their whole new album start to finish in one set, had an interval and then some big hits. The second night was their self-titled second album, an interval and, again, a handful of big hits. Yet nothing was the same order or guaranteed to be played, the only pattern was them going through their discography backwards, (hell they didn’t even play Skinny Love on the first night). So my favourite band of all time could actually not play some of my favourite songs and I could go home heartbroken.
Turns out I had no reason to be worried.
Bon Iver’s gig last night was, to put it simply, an utterly perfect piece of live music that I’ve ever seen. Everyone in the band was on point from start to finish but the gorgeous drumming and brass section definitely deserves to be commended for how impressive they were. Opening with Flume from their debut For Emma, Forever Ago, there was a sudden complete silence to let Justin Vernon fully unfold on stage to the sold-out Apollo theatre. The sound mixing was perfect, his voice soaring above and through the rafters, especially the chorus which went completely through me and I stood in awe and tears.
Yet, somehow, the gig got even better: Bon Iver decided to play tracks from all their albums and, more importantly, Blood Bank EP, further cementing the point about the alt-rock outfit cycling back through their catalogue. The moment Beach Baby started was when I really transcended, ultimately coming down to the importance the song holds for me and has done for years so seeing that performed as beautifully as it was made it all the better. A speech about love followed it up making it all the more hard-hitting.
Unsuspecting gems came in the forms of the songs __45___, with the most gorgeous saxophone solo, Woods where Vernon really showed off his electronic technical ability with his vocoder and looping and Wolves (Act I and II) with the most epic, goosebumps ending of the whole show. Strobe lights, massive drums hits and raw emotion.
After waiting for 7 years to see my favourite band, I can finally say I’ve seen Bon Iver. The best musical experience. As the gig wound to an end, the band played 22 (OVER SOON), and through my last set of tears, I really felt that yes, the gig was over way too soon.
Despite making repeated appearances on the band’s setlists, The Lick serves as the embodiment of this band’s ability to send a message with attitude and authority.
Appearing on their wittingly titled debut Songs of Praise, Shame don’t so much take shots at the current state of British lad rock as much as they spray their entire catalog of reserve but rage tinged lyrics at the unnamed culprits – along with a colossal hook that most bands would give their right arm to be able to pull off, The Lick serves as a highlight to what is sure to be an underrated gem of a record in 2018.
Woes – Real World
On the back of a huge 2017, Woes are ready to throw everything at 2018. Catchy chorus and huge riffs, Real World is a modern pop-punk classic. It shows what Woes can do, and how serious about the genre the boys are.
Car Seat Headrest – Nervous Young Inhumans
Dissatisfied with his 2011 lo-fi masterpiece Twin Fantasy, Will Toledo sought to update his internet-famous juvenilia after signing with Matador Records in 2015. This week saw the release of a reworked Nervous Young Inhumans, in which CSH retrofit the track’s muffled din into a hi-fi dance-punk mini-crisis.
Touching on Toledo’s formerly maladroit cursive, a tryst in the uncanny valley, and the great axiom “Art gets what it wants and gets what it deserves,” the updated Inhumans finds new verve in an old fan favorite.
Lil Peep & Marshmello – Spotlight
Released posthumously, Lil Peep and Marshmello recorded a song before his tragic passing. Two fast up and coming artists sound incredibly bittersweet on this track and it’s a reminder that Lil Peep was someone to watch. It’s excellent that it was released as it serves as a solid reminder of how Lil Peep was progressing. RIP Lil Peep.
David Byrne – Everybody’s Coming To My House
Co-written with long-time collaborator Brian Eno as well as features from the likes of Sampha, the first cut off Talking Heads frontman David Byrne‘s upcoming solo LP is enough to have you drooling at the mouth: with a seductive saxophone acting as the foundations for his vocals to bounce and pounce around, Everybody’s Coming to My House is a tasty sample of what’s to come.
Soccer Mommy – Your Dog
After a delightful LP last year, American singer-songwriter soccer mommy stays true to her “chill but kinda sad” mantra with new single Your Dog. Appearing on new album Clean, this track is anything but with some warped guitars leading the song alongside some disdain heavy lyrics from Sophie herself. We were left optimistic about her future after Collection and if this single is any indication, Clean will be another solid effort from the up and comer.
A band that has gone through some style changes over the course of their career, from pop-punk to pop to alternative-rock, Australian act Tonight Alive have sprung back onto the scene with the new album Underworld. Does it does succeed to please, especially fans of their older sound? Or have they lost track of what they’re going for?
Yes and no – Underworld is another push into Tonight Alive finding their own sound. After establishing themselves as a pop-punk from their first couple of releases, it really feels like the band has finally found something to call theirs. This album sounds more confident and is, on the whole, a more solid release which is evident from the album opener Book of Love. Explosive, it sets a real tone for the rest of the record, with punchy guitars and an underlining electronic feel with synths and other electronic noise coming from deeper in the mix.
Lyrics have always been the forefront of Tonight Alive and something that Jenna McDougall has always prided herself with, allowing a great deal of transparency to be shown via her words and managing to express both the distresses and triumphs in her life. The song Temple (the first single from the Underworld) is a good example of this where McDougall is singing about her “body being a temple” and the idea of being out-of-control with her life, but being able to come back from it. It’s this honesty that allows the band to come off as more well-meaning than artificial.
Something that Underworld does quite well is keeping the energy up throughout. The emotional imagery from the lyrics is well accompanied by the bright instrumentation. Songs like For You, Burning On and My Underworld (which has an interesting feature from Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour fame)exemplify this and really show that Tonight Alive can be affectionate with their delivery without losing the audience’s attention. McDougall brings that energy down fully however on the song Looking For Heaven, where she’s given the opportunity to show off her impressive pipes, whether it’s in front of a full band, or in this case, just a piano.
Tonight Alive aren’t alone in the transformation from pop-punk and trying to broaden their horizons; bands like The Wonder Years and You Me At Six have also made the transition from pop-punk to alternative rock very successfully. Pop-punk is considered quite a restricted genre and it’s nice to hear bands who have found a sound they work well with and develop it, exactly as Tonight Alive do on this album. Female fronted pop-punk/alt-rock bands have always had a problem with constantly being compared to Paramore, an act who have themselves evolved into something more than their origins, so to see Tonight Alive continue the trend is refreshing.
Most of the songs are quite predictable in nature but a couple of the tracks on the album surprise you, whether because of an interesting drum pattern or new instrument tone/instrument. If there’s one major downfall of this album, however, it’s the predictability. The lyrical content is rich and the mixing is much better on this album but you can guess where Underworld is going to go next. The Corey Taylor feature on the last track is a nice addition but doesn’t add too much to the track other than a male voice and harmony, and with his name on the track, you presume it would come with some power but it’s sold short.
Despite this, Underworld is still an all-around strong effort: Jenna’s vocals are always a pleasure to hear and sound better than ever. There are some exceptional tracks to be found on herelike Disappear (featuring Lyn Gunn from PVRIS fame), Crack My Heart and The Other which will hopefully be added to their performances as they would sound excellent in the rawness of a live show. It’s a very cohesive album and the style is very well grounded and translated well across all the tracks, even if the journey itself doesn’t majorly surprise you.
All in all, Underworld is definitely worth a listen if you’re into alternative-rock. You can hear that lead singles from the albums such as Temple will become big anthems for fans of the band. It’s a strong start to the year and hopefully the start of some more excellent music in 2018.
Christmas is coming, and the goose is getting fat, we’ve had a fantastic year in music, and Morrissey’s still a fucking twat.
Despite the fact it’s been a scintillating year in the music industry, everyone here at Blinkclyro is salivating at the chops, begging for more in 2018. So we tasked our finest writers (that’s all of them) to write a letter to that nice man who lives at the North Pole, asking him for some musical gifts in the new year.
Those who failed to write letters will receive a copy of Divide by Ed Sheeran and will be forced to watch hours of Liam Gallagher footage, A Clockwork Orange style.
“I would like double the amount of albums King Gizz managed this year. 4 (5?) just isn’t enough and I wanna hear them do a doom metal album. Some new Sigur Ros material would be lovely too, and could you throw in a Courtney Barnett / Kurt Vile UK tour while you’re at it! Please, could you also make Ed Sheeran go away, just for a year, I’m beggingyou.” – Rory McArthur (@rorymeep)
I would like some new stuff from Chance the Rapper and The Wytches. It would also be great if Sky Ferreira could make a musical comeback and if someone could tell Weezer it’s not 1996. PS. I would also like to join Brockhampton, Thanks! x” – Isabella McHardy (@isabellmchardy)
“Well, the same as every year, I want a White Stripes reunion, but that’s not happening anytime soon so I’ll settle for new La Roux and Drenge albums please and thanks, Santa! x” – Ethan Woodford (@human_dis4ster)
” I would like a new Biffy Clyro album where half of it doesn’t sound like Hanson doing a Biffy Clyro impression. I’d also like Kanye West to release at least some of the collaboration’s he’s teased. Kanye with Young Thug, Lil Uzi Vert and Kendrick sounds lovely and I’ve done the washing all year Santa PLEASE” – Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh)
“Hey, Santa: Really excited to see what Frank Ocean has to offer considering he said “you’re gonna love 2018”, would love some more surprises from artists I haven’t heard before bringing out albums that I love and also albums being released by some of my all time favs like Bring Me The Horizon and MIKA!” – Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)
I’d like the new Father John Misty LP nearly as much as I want the press cycle where he bullies just about every journalist in music. CRJ following up the best pop album (and b-sides collection) of our times wouldn’t go amiss either, and, if I’m not being too greedy, a few reminders throughout the year that Frank Ocean still exists.” – Andrew Barr (@weeandreww)
“Dear Santa, some new material from Danny Brown would be quality! Also, hope to see The National finally recording a studio version of Rylan. Please though, for the love of god, somebody put LG in the bin. Cheers x” – Kieran Cannon (@kiercannon)
“For the bland white boy house/techno scene in Glasgow to become more interesting and inclusive: give us diverse lineups but like also maybe Gabber yaaas” – Liam Toner (@tonerliam)
“For LCD Soundsystem to do a Brockhampton and drop 3 masterpieces in one year, and for Eminem to retire to his slippers and anger management classes.” – Josh Adams (@jxshadams)
“For Kanye West to get his finger out and give us that Turbo Grafx 16 LP he’s been promising. A new Death Grips LP will make me a very happy boy: as would the swift death of boring Lad Rock – cheers big man” – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)
“I would like to see a Muse album that isn’t complete garbage, an Ozzy Osbourne Birmingham gig and maybe some lost Motörhead tracks, I’ve been a good boy! But more than anything, I want Lemmy to rise from the dead.” – Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)
We can confirm to Santa that all of our writers have been very good boys & girls this year, so we’re confident that all these musical wishes will appear under our trees, on our radars, and turned into quality content for your viewing pleasure.
Whoever you are (as long as you’re not a Nazi), whatever you believe (as long as you’re not a Nazi) and whatever you listen to (as long as you’re not a Nazi who listens to Catfish), we wish you a very Merry Christmas, happy holidays and a musical New Year!
It’s finally here: no, not Christmas, list season BAYBEE! A culmination of all the good, and bad, that the year has had to offer, we’re kicking things off with some positive content about the live shows that the team loved every second of.
Before we get into each team member’s choice, let’s have a glance at some of the honourable mentions that deserve a shoutout…
The Vegan Leather @ TRNSMT
At a festival with some of the biggest names in music, it goes to show how utterly impressive this Paisley art-rock outfit were at the debut entry of TRNSMT. “Talking Heads meets Yeah Yeah Yeahs meet LCD-Soundsystem” is the only way we managed to describe their sound yet that still doesn’t do The Vegan Leather justice: if you’re lucky enough to have New Years free from work then be sure to boogie on down to see this foursome kill it at King Tuts.
If our accolade of “Best Band At Tenement Trail 2017“, a prestigious award depending on who you ask, wasn’t enough to do SWAY‘s performance at Nice N Sleazy justice then let this be your final telling off. Presenting a beautiful blend of indie rock finesse with shoegaze and pop influences, the Paisley act put on an amazing show featuring great tunes, inflatable footballs and a bloody nose (#PrayForDanDrennan).
Hot off the back of providing one of the best sophomore releases of the decade, lovely London lot Wolf Alice treated their Glasgow fans to not one but two shows at the iconic Barrowlands venue. Playing a healthy dose of the old and the new, along with some golden oldies like Blush, the indie rock outfit show that they deserve every morsel of hype they’ve accumulated over the past few years.
I hadn’t heard of them before but a friend suggested we go see Strange Bones – it was by far my favourite performance of the festival and ultimately the entire year. They played the tiny Jack Daniel’s Jack Rocks tent on the Sunday and it was perfect. They played with such an infectious energy, I couldn’t stop smiling the whole set.
The entire tent was jumping up and down and yelling even if they didn’t know the words. They were probably one of the heaviest bands at the festival but they still managed to pull in such an enthusiastic crowd. The band were crowd surfing and running into the audience throughout the show but no one got tired of it. It was the first gig I had been to in a while where I felt completely ecstatic. After their set, I couldn’t wait to get home so I could go through their discography.
Disappointingly, their EP’s don’t live up to how they perform live, but I would still go see them again just for the atmosphere and the ‘Theresa is a Terrorist’ t-shirts.
They say good things come in threes. Wise men. Amigos. So on and so forth. For this ridiculously intimate show; it was American emo icons that arrived as a magnificent trio. Heading to Camden’s Underworld via stunning performances at this year’s Slam Dunk Festival came Citizen and Turnover; ‘supported’ by Sorority Noise.
What made this an incredible line-up was the enthusiasm shared by bands towards other bands, fans to bands and even bands to fans. Splitting the set times evenly, no band took the limelight, however, Sorority Noise were first up to get things going. With third LP, You’re Not as _____ as You Think released earlier this year, it was the first time many fans had heard tracks such as Car and No Halo; Cameron Boucher even recited Manchester Orchestra’s I Can Feel a Hot One ahead of No Halo. These new, heartfelt ballads combined with golden older tracks, e.g Nolsey and Using, made Sorority Noise the perfect opener.
Turnover were next up and thankfully, and I am sure fellow fans will agree, they decided to play a set full of classics rather than cramming their set full of Good Nature tracks. Peripheral Vision dominated the setlist with the crowd singing along to everything from Cutting My Fingers Off to the iconic Dizzy on the Comedown. A mellow atmosphere greeted the Virginia outfit, who took it in their stride to engage in a chilled out yet passionate vibe.
‘Headlining’ for the evening were Ohio/Michigan alt-rockers Citizen. Brutally belting out The Summer instantly showed what was about to unfold. The highlight of the set was How Does it Feel? purely because the dark, moody atmosphere perfectly complemented the pitch black surrounding of the Underworld. Giving Yellow Love and Cement air-time before The Night I Drove Alone closed their slot, Citizen gave a stunning performance to cap off an amazing night of bands from across the pond.
To conclude, good things do come in threes, and this line-up does nothing but emphasise that fact.
In a year where I finally saw some of my all-time favourite bands (Radiohead, The Libertines) as well as seeing some old friends again (Wolf Alice, Basement), every gig stuck out in my mind but none more so than the Gorillaz‘s massive show at the Hydro.
Having been desperate to see them for years, it was such a joy to hear some of my favourite songs sung back by thousands of people in unison. Damon Albarn was in top form, a massive smile barely leaving his face except when he was stood at the edge of the stage trying to look menacing during Clint Eastwood. It’s commendable a man of his talent and success is still so humbled by fans singing his lyrics and his constant gratitude to his many guests and backing band members made for a wholesome sight.
Speaking of his guests, they only added to the spectacle, from De La Soul to the show-stealing Vince Staples, each guest injected even more energy to the atmosphere and by midway through the set, the entire crowd was bouncing,
A truly mesmerising gig that had me smiling for the rest of the night after, Damon Albarn and his friends deserve the crown of best live show of the year.
Ryan Martin (@ryanmartin182) – Childish Gambino @ Radio City Music Hall
Seeing Childish Gambino co-headline an event at Radio City Music Hall with Dave Chappelle was truly something special but after his announcement earlier this summer that he would be retiring after his next album, it truly made the concert something to be cherished forever.
Being a massive Donald Glover fan, I had never seen him perform live as Childish Gambino except for a small radio show festival performance where he only did his biggest hits before exiting. Gambino at Radio City Music Hall exceeded my expectations from the multi-talented performer. He performed the majority of his new album Awaken My Love with the help of a full band, backup singers, and an incredible display of lights and visuals.
Hearing AML live without the vocal effects made for an entirely new experience of the album. The album sounded fresher, more exciting and more fun live. Gambino’s performance was incredible, filled with passionate shrieks reminiscent of Prince in his prime. He showcased his dancing skills throughout the set and was all over the stage, even moonwalking at one point.
Gambino’s decision to perform most of AML with exception to 3005, Sweatpants and Sober really showed how much Gambino has matured in recent memory and how he is beginning to grow out of most of his discography. This could be a partial reason for his decision to retire the Childish Gambino moniker and will almost surely affect his future touring schedule. One thing is for sure, if Gambino stops by your area, be sure not to miss out.
Here lies the critical irony; my favourite show of the year, Frank Ocean’s surreal headline slot at Parklife festival could scarcely be considered a performance, serving as more of a glimpse into the elusive star’s psyche.
When Ocean stuttered onto the stage 40 minutes late and restarted opener Solo 3 times, it looked like his long-awaited live return could end in spectacular failure, however, Ocean managed to claw it back in a way only he could. His confidence and stage presence grew throughout the set dominated by Blonde and Endless material, and by the time he walked offstage during the Korean verse on the alt version of closer Nikes, it was clear; this wasn’t a show for everyone, but one that the many diehard Ocean fans will never forget.
Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr) – Run The Jewels & Danny Brown @ O2 Academy
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone that this gig was a highly anticipated one for myself: Run The Jewels and Danny Brown are both Album Of The Year winners, in our 2014 and 2016 lists respectively, so the prospect of seeing both acts in the one night was too good to pass up.
It was no disappointment (I mean, it’s on this list, isn’t it?) as the Detroit king of rap Danny got things underway, storming through his impressive discography with some running man dancing and what can only be described as an intimate strip show for the thousands in attendance. Tracks from his magnum opus Atrocity Exhibition got just the reaction he must have expected, provoking a wave of moshing and rapping from the enthusiastic crowd.
Not to be outdone, RTJ made their way to the stage (albeit a bit late) and from start to finish, they undoubtedly affirmed why they were a force to be reckoned with. Not only that but there was a great deal of duality on show: Killer Mike is an absolute monster when he’s on the mic but the amount of compassion and love shown between songs, from a speech about mental health to a big fuck you to groping at gigs, the man is like Sully if he had an abundance of sick bars. Don’t worry El, I haven’t forgotten about you; RTJ is a two man show after all and if it weren’t for the bounciness, crassness and sheer bragadociousness of El-P then it just wouldn’t be the same.
Danny even showed up for his verse on Hey Kids, wearing only his underwear as the O2 Academy witnessed not only Mike giving the audience a glimpse of his ass, but two of the best acts on the fucking planet: and the crowd goes…
While I was ever so slightly underwhelmed by Damon Albarn and his band of merry primates’ latest effort Humanz (DO YOU GET IT BECAUSE GORILLAZ?) I still jumped at the chance to see them live at The Hydro when the gig was announced earlier and the year. And I’ll tell you something, I’m bloody glad I did.
Gorillaz live are a different beast entirely from Gorillaz on record. There’s something of a more immediate urgency about them in a live setting, particularly in the vocals of head gorilla Damon “I Love Witches” Albarn. I’ve never seen Blur live in person, but I’ve seen my fair share of their sets from the comfort of my own computer chair and Albarn seems to turn everything up to 11 when he’s performing under the Gorillaz banner. Gone is the subdued, mild-mannered, middle-class Englishman that belts out Tender with a quiet confidence, instead he’s replaced by a grown man doing his best impression of an actual Gorilla. To put it bluntly, when Damon Albarn is in Gorillaz mode, he is a fucking nutter. He jumps around the stage with a reckless abandon, screaming in innocent concert goers in the front row like a man possessed by a pure primal force. It’s a joy to watch.
As are the rest of his band, I was blown away by how flipping CHUNKY everything sounded in a live setting. The bass was lovely and sludgy, both drummers played flawlessly and the keys were whimsical one moment and downright demonic the next. Then came the guests: Bootie Brown, Zebra Katz, Vince Staples, DE LA BLOODY SOUL were all there in the flesh and it was chuffing magnificent.
I’d wanted to see Gorillaz in some capacity for over a decade, and holy fuck me did they deliver. This ranks as not only one of my gigs of the year but genuinely one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to. So thank you, Damon and company, you bunch of fucking lunatics. We wouldn’t have you any other way.
Rory McArthur (@rorymeep) – King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard @ Albert Hall, Manchester
If you know me, this choice won’t come as a surprise; I may or may not have a little bit of a thing for this band. This was my fourth time seeing King Gizzard, but this was the first time it properly hit me how unfathomably incredible they are live. From the tried and trusted old favourites to the, at that point in the year at least, new microtonal tracks, everything went down an absolute storm with a suitably energetic crowd. The electricity inside the Albert Hall that evening was honestly breathtaking. I don’t think there’s another rock band in the world right now that can put on a show quite like Gizz. If they’d have decided to play all night long, I wouldn’t have minded one bit.
Protomartyr’s third visit to Glasgow in as many years takes place at Sauchiehall Street’s pre-eminent creative hub, the Centre for Contemporary Arts. Incidentally, this occasion marks their first time playing above ground in the city; apt, considering their meteoric rise from the underground to the forefront of contemporary post-punk, a sort of symbolism that isn’t lost on despair extraordinaire Joe Casey.
Joking that it’s a sign they’re finally moving up in the world, his self-depreciating humour is disingenuous to their cerebral yet deeply enjoyable brand of music. Turning up on stage without further ado, the band launch straight into lead single My Children. Casey’s appearance, grey-suited and formal, carries as little extravagance as his vocal delivery: barking and authoritative, the right level of Angry Da but never unintentionally bombastic.
Audience interaction is sporadic and generally kept to a minimum, save for a few amusing exchanges; however, such was the level of quality and electrifying atmosphere that the crowd quickly began dancing of their own volition. In contrast to the chaos of Casey’s performance, Greg Ahee’s guitar work is a controlled explosion of riffs and inventive, often unexpected chord changes complemented by a captivating dynamic between himself, bassist Scott Davidson and drummer Alex Leonard, whose stellar percussion work underpins every track, relentlessly propelling forward. While leaning fairly heavily on their latest material, Protomartyr nevertheless treated veteran fans to plenty of classics including two tracks from their oft-overlooked debut.
Support act Oh Boland, covering the spot regrettably vacated by Sauna Youth, proved a worthy opener, commendably navigating one or two technical glitches to produce exactly the kind of high-octane introduction needed to prepare everyone for what lay ahead.
Gregor Farquharson (@grgratlntc) – The LaFontaines & The Dykeenies @ Barrowlands
Having a gig at The Barrowlands is a massive achievement for any band. Tonight, The LaFontaines were ready to unleash their chaotic, charisma filled live show to the sold-out Glasgow crowd. The buzz in the buildup to the performance was surreal, with fans everywhere eager to see the fonts once again.
The band tasked with getting the crowd ready? The recently reformed The Dykeenies. The band played a good 50 odd minute set, with highlights being Waiting for Go and Sounds Of The City. The fans were ready and The Dykeenies job was done with success and the fonts took to the stage.
Opening up with Slow Elvis and going straight into Junior Dragon, the atmosphere was something else. The bands unique sound works beautifully live and the feeling in the crowd was magical. New songs Common Problem and Hang Fire went down great with the crowd, proving the band are not just a one album wonder and that their second full length is doing wonders.
If anything, this gig proved that The LaFontaines are going to get even bigger than what they already are. If they keep up the work rate and live shows they have going, it’s a bright future for the band that are already seen as Scottish heavyweights.
With the Autumnal gig season drawing do a close, I saw Gorillaz at the Hydro in Glasgow. As someone who normally consumes live music in dive bars, the stadium’s sheer size was daunting, even if it’s sticky floor felt like home. The crowd was full of groups of families with grownup-kids near my age. My parents got me into Gorillaz young and I credit them with playing a part in shaping my current tastes in music, visual arts and even politics. The group has always been all-encompassing, and their 29th November gig was no different.
The band rattled the room with M1 A1. This was followed by Albarn, mic in hand, asking the 13,000 strong crowd if we were the last living souls. These songs from the band’s earlier work set the tone for the rest of the show, as it would feature hits peppered with memorable album tracks. A high point for me was Dirty Harry. The live performers were accompanied by a disjointed choir of cartoon South Park-esque kids singing the chilling chorus to the delight and discomfort of all watching. The band’s alter egos played a huge part in the engulfing feeling of the show. Carrying out heists and racing games, 2-D, Murdoch, Noodle and Russell Hobs reached deeper into our collective consciousness, pulling out gleefull pockets of nostalgia, providing the perfect backdrop for the night’s music.
Along with visuals, the main band were accompanied by a vast amount of guest performers, most notably the hip-hop trio De La Soul who feature on one of the bands most famous songs – Feel Good Inc.
Hong Kong was the first encore song, and it provided the most haunting musical moment of the night. The song which plays heavily on imagery surrounding neon lights and electricity was spontaneously met with thousands upon thousands of glowing phone lights, bringing the previously black room to an eery yellow which shined down Damon Albarn’s face. Singing to us, an army of smartphone welding fans, with a wry smile “All the people in a dream, Wait for the machine” he brought the night towards its end. This scene felt stunningly fitting for a band who have continuously captured the zeitgeist. From their self-titled debut in 2001 to this year’s Humanz, the group have always painted a vivid picture of the world in the 21st century.
Will Sexton (@willshesleeps) – Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes @ O2 Academy, Bristol
Now I know what you might be thinking, “ooh pick the latest gig you went too” but people who are thinking that obviously have never seen Frank Carter live. The stage presence of this man is electric all in itself and arriving on stage with an absolute roar of noise and appreciation is so magical every single time. Frank has had a bit of a tough year but you wouldn’t have ever guessed, coming back from tonsillitis and taking a small break to help recover from the incredible work he has done over the last three years which was very well respected amongst the fans.
He came back with a total bang and every song from Primary Explosive right to I Hate You were electric. Filled with moshing and inspirational speeches about girls feeling safe at gigs, mental health and just straight up appreciation of us, it was a magical night!
Dominic Cassidy (@lyre_of_apollo) – The Mountain Goats @ The Art School, Glasgow
The Mountain Goats were awaited by the crowd with bated breath and I’d be lying if I said I was not amongst their number, in terms of the mob or the state of breath. North Carolina based folk rockers The Mountain Goats – consisting of the ever-present singer-songwriter John Darnielle and multi-instrumentalist Matt Douglas – ascend to the stage accompanied by cries of devotion from the loving Glasgow crowd. Opening with Have to Explode, the cheers and whooping give way to absolute silence. When the song ends so does the hush, the hanging silence expelled with thankful applause.
Honestly, for me the gig was a beautiful exhibition of long-crafted skill and art, showing how well playing to the crowd can be done. The innate crowd interaction from John Darnielle who was loving the little stand-up bits, made the night all the more special. If you have not seen The Mountain Goats live, I can recommend nothing more, and if you have never heard them, I would start now; on The Sunset Tree, Tallahassee, or Beat the Champ.
Sharing a whole new side of himself, Shamir is back with his 3rd album Revelations. Right from the start, you can tell the difference in direction with the style of his music. From the bright, eclectic electro-pop to the lo-fi and raw. It’s not been an easy journey for Shamir, being dropped from his record label and unfortunately dealing with some personal demons, which is shown through this more personal and intimate addition to his discography.
Instantly from listening to the first track, Games you can tell that Shamir was in a different place when he wrote this album, drawing a likeness to more underground lo-fi artists with the small instrumentation of the electric piano. Fast lyrics and wordplay have been a big feature of his older music, and while there is no difference in the quality of lyrics, there is in speed and density. The dissonance played throughout the track, maybe for artistic style, is unsettling and not entirely enjoyable, however it’s a memorable start nonetheless.
Revelations does get better, though, and feels like the most drawn back Shamir album yet. Lyrics on the song 90’s Kids might be relatable for a lot of people at this age, where adults ask so much of you and expect full co-operation and not much reciprocation. Musically the song is more spacious than the first two tracks, maybe coming from a different part of Shamir, where the song feels more confident than it does vulnerable, being a stand-up and ‘fuck you’ to the people he is referring to.
The smooth transition between the songs Cloudy and Float is very pleasant to the point of being unnoticeable. In direct relation to the song titles, both songs make you feel like you’re ‘floating’ with airy instrumentation and their very drawn-back style. The lyrics in Cloudy approach the concept of stress and stress killing you. Also touching upon loving everyone as equals: “Because when you die you end up having all the sameproblems,“which is incredibly true. Float is both a confident punch and a vulnerable cry for help. Shamir doesn’t want to have to lose what he wants because of other people and doesn’t want to be “left behind” because of someone else’s beliefs. The “finish line” might be a metaphor for equality and let’s hope we aren’t far off of it.
Minimalism within Shamir’s music has always been quite a strong point, creating something catching that you can really enjoy but with half the instruments than your regular album. That’s not lost here at all, but it’s somehow a different type of minimalism. The messages in this album don’t need a massive layer of synth this time around and they don’t need fast lyrics. The songs in this album really embrace more of Shamir’s influences which are deep-rooted in Country and Rock.
The album as a whole doesn’t feel overly cohesive, regardless of the individual songs. Maybe in mirror image to how Shamir feels, being broken and thrown about by record companies and being centered upon by media for him being queer and black, neither of which should affect the standard or reception of music. However, the social pressure of such issues are reflected in this album and it’s nice to hear that, through the song Blooming he is “too strong to just lay down and die.” The album cover feels like it’s a message in itself. The closed eyes and mouth represent Shamir’s feeling he is stuck inside a stereotype and can’t be a human being. Straight Boy perfectly shows this, where Shamir shares vague experiences of having insecurities of other people taken out on him which is completely unfair.
Revelations starts oddly and kind of just… finishes. The messages shared and troubles expressed will resonate with listeners, especially big fans of Shamir, and it’s nice he is enjoying taking on the producer role as well as the singing and writing, but the album doesn’t feel entirely complete. People who were fans of Shamir’s debut Rachet will be slightly shocked with the change of pace and instrumentation, but it’s still an interesting listen. Revelations feels like a sudden outburst of feeling rather than a long thought, which is effective but not fully gripping.
Very strong lyrically and melodically, the latest album from Citizen is their darkest and most solemn yet. The grunge band from Ohio really shine through the darkness with their latest addition to their discography – regardless of the wordier lyricism, you can still imagine crowds screaming the words to all the songs at one of their concerts.
The album itself is overall moody. It’s moody because it feels like a cathartic release. It feels more mature though the pop-punk/post-hardcore elements aren’t lost entirely, proven on the almost scream-like singing from the chorus of Jet. The album opener really sets the mood of the album which explores a lot of self doubt, some of the lyrics that best explore this theme go: “All of our ears to the floorboards / My eyes are falling everywhere / I know who is in the backyard / But who’s that living in our home?”, playing with the idea that we pay so much attention to others and what their doing that we lose sight on the ones closest to us and even ourselves.
Mat Kerekes sings about being on the receiving end of the lack of attention in Ugly Luck, talking about how he feels like “a fly on the wall” and being isolated enough that crowds don’t bother him. This can also be interpreted as the fame he found through the band isn’t what he wants or needs. This is also displayed in the song Fever Days: “Room of many bodies, still no one that I could talk to / A million faces here, but I can only pick out a few”. This is certainly a record that displays sometimes the deep psychological damage fame can really do.
The instrumentation from the rest of the band on As You Please is more low-key and melodic than other releases from Citizen in the past. Possibly following the nature of the lyrics, they explore a different style of grunge, a more ‘emo’ approach with slower tempos, more piano and layered vocals. This is all very well displayed in the slow-burner Discrete Routine. The theme of watching people and following other people’s lives is apparent here also which drives this album.
However, with the lyrics on As You Please have more of an ‘outsider’ and ‘isolated’ viewpoint, the album feels intimate. Citizen have nailed the balance between sharing stories and problems but also letting you into a world that may have been shut off from the rest of the world for a long time. Depression and mentally straining illnesses are getting a lot more understood worldwide and sharing experiences or feelings for other people to relate to it something that music does so well. Whether it’s dancing around in your room to your favorite songs or balling your eyes out at songs that you relate to so much it hurts.
Where Kerekes sings about how he feels like he “can’t give anything” and how he only feels like a “fleeting thought” is a brilliant example of where he really is giving something to the world. People will be able to relate to these songs and could mean a lot to someone. Coming hand in hand with the fear of the fame he might be feeling it’s a dangerous combo, but still positive.
What’s so beautiful about music is that it is thought provoking and pushes you to analyse and go deeper than the surface level. This album does exactly that and through analysis you can relate deeper and deeper. Chorus’ and melodies will stick with you for days after listening and it’s then do you realise it’s an album you do really enjoy. Citizen really feel like they’re progressing and it feels like they’re going to progress into something greater still. A band to seriously watch out for.