Kaiser Chiefs – Coming Home

ImageAside from the fact Ricky Wilson has somehow transformed himself from a slightly overweight, mostly uncool lead singer into a handsome and much less annoying (but still fairly arrogant) ‘star’ of The Voice, I still sort of wanted not to like this single. Not least because of the aforementioned somewhat desperate attempt to cling into any sort of career by appearing on reality TV (see Kylie, Cheryl for examples) but 14 year old me still remembers the day my excitement was shattered when I met Kaiser Chiefs and was absolutely disappointed when it turned out Wilson was nothing more than an arrogant singer that had already gotten too big for his boots. 

That said and although Coming Home, if nothing else, it is ridiculously catchy.  Although it may not be a game changer for the band, the track will perfectly fill a headline spot as the closing song at a festival this summer and even in his new found judging fame, Wilson has never shied from his Leeds roots. Coming Home does feel like he is doing just that. Yes, the track itself is no cooler than any of it’s predecessors but it does get stuck in your head and I actually don’t think I mind it being there. There isn’t a drastic difference between Coming Home and singles like Ruby in the way of structure; both spend a little too long repeating the chorus and less time on the versus which are have the potential to be the best parts were they allowed to blossom a little more.

While Wilson’s abilities as a front man have never been doubted, he isn’t the strongest lyricist but he delivers the versus’ perfectly before the chorus kicks in which unfortunately has been tad over worked; I know he doesn’t necessarily claim to have the best voice but it sounds like he is trying to force an air of rock n’ roll to the track and Kaiser Chiefs have never screamed effortless to me. 

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t listened to it every day this week on my way to work but that’s partly because it’s on a playsuit I can’t be bothered to change and hey, James Arthur’s on the list so who am I to judge?! That said, he is a mega babe now so I wouldn’t mind meeting again if he was to prove 14 year old me wrong…

‘Coming Home’ is officially released March 31 as the first official single to be lifted from their forthcoming new album Education, Education, Education & War.

 

Fatherson – I Like Not Knowing

ImageScottish beauties Fatherson (then Energy!) first caught my attention in April 2009 when I reviewed their debut EP. It is probably an understatement to say that I fell in love with them immediately and just short of two years later I found myself reviewing their sold out gig at King Tut’s Summer Nights in July 2011. Even in that short space of time Fatherson had made an impact and I remember standing at that gig, feeling like I had found something special; a sort of special I wanted everyone to appreciate but also a sort of special I wanted to keep all to myself.

Now, two and a half years on from that moment Fatherson are making waves again with the release of their new single ‘I Like Not Knowing‘ and the announcement of their debut album ‘I Am An Island.’

I Am An Island‘ is set to be released on 7th April and if the new single is anything to go by, you should be absolutely excited about what is to come. Much in the same fashion as their most recent work, ‘I Like Not Knowing‘ is a punchy little number with a gloriously catchy chorus. Sod the chorus though, this single will have you singing by the time the first verse is over because as always Ross Leighton’s lyrics are not only written to perfection but sung so graciously. Up tempo, feisty drumming and some scratchy, yet anthemic guitar back him to create a beautifully formed single that I just cannot wait to see played live.

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I just know this time, (yeah, I have said it every time, but I am right this time) this is the start of something. I will begrudgingly share them with you now, but I will always remind you I was there in 2009 because there is still a part of me that wants them all to myself…

You can listen to Fatherson’s new single on Soundcloud here.
Don’t miss out on this golden oldie though.

Photo: Emily Wylde

Arctic Monkeys – AM Review

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It is hard to comprehend that AM is the fifth studio album from Arctic Monkeys. Was it really so long ago that they burst on to the scene with that single? Even harder to comprehend though is how fucking good is it. From start to finish AM is a masterpiece from a band that have not so much matured but become full fledged artists in their own right. So they grew up a little, experienced more but AM proves that Arctic Monkeys can do what the hell they want now – they’re still experimenting, fine-tuning but they no longer need to be defined by a genre, nor do they really need anyone’s approval because they already made it.

The twelve tracks recorded at Sage & Sound Recording in Los Angeles and Rancho De La Luna in Joshua Tree, California feature guest appearances from Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme, Elvis Costello’s drummer Pete Thomas and lyrics from poet legend John Cooper-Clark (I mean, need I say more or are you already away grabbing a copy…)? From start to finish it is a seamless journey through parties, sex, lust, late nights, bad decisions and frustration – all brilliantly illustrated by Turner’s mind-fuckingly sharp lyrics.

Arguably the best of those lyrics feature on ‘Arabella,’ “Arabella’s got some interstellagator skin boots/And a helter-skelter around her little finger and I ride it endlessly.” The whole track rolls off Turner’s tongue effortlessly at quite a pace and over perhaps the heaviest sound on the album. ‘I Want It All’ reminisces the past and Turner shows off his vocal ability as he hit some higher notes.

While opener ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ harks back to some of Monkeys earlier material, slower tracks such as ‘No.1 Party Anthem’ and ‘Mad Sounds’ could have been plucked from Turner’s own Submarine album. Both showcase Turner’s voice like never before.

‘Fireside’ is a definite stand out favourite. Catchy as anything it rattles on perfectly over bouncy drums before the darker, ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’ drags you on a journey through a rough night out, fuelled by booze, drugs and a rocky relationship. All of which is somehow beautifully juxtaposed over Matt Helder’s hip-hop influenced drums.

‘Snap Out Of It’ is an upbeat little number; light-hearted it is a refresher mood changer which leads perfectly on to another jiggly number, ‘Knee Socks.’ Closing track, the glam-rock influenced and gloomy, ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ – taken from a John Cooper-Clark poem – stomps along and winds down the LP to a close. These may not be Turner’s lyrics but putting such a track on the album proves his confidence – he didn’t write it but he could and he will because I am pretty sure the best it still yet to come.

This is not a typical fifth album from a band struggling to clutch the last straws of a career; this is Arctic Monkeys making their own rules, proving themselves yet again and this is n’t even them peaking their career. The release of ‘R U Mine?’ may have hinted at great things when it was released but it didn’t quite prepare me for the tour de force that is AM. Arctic Monkeys don’t even need a fanfare when they release anything anymore, they know they’re good and so do we.

Go listen for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

Autumn/Winter 2013 Essentials

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1. TARTAN This season’s ultimate essential. Whether you rock it in a dress, a skirt, a pair of bold trousers and just add a dash with a scarf, tartan is literally everywhere this Autumn/Winter. Choose a print that suits your skin tone – you don’t always have to go for fiery reds so experiment with print and colours!

2. FEDORA Last year the bowler hat stole the headlines but this year the fedora is making an appearance. Practical and stylish, this seasons easy-to-wear hat will keep your head toasty in the cold too.

3. LEATHER High shine PVC is the one this year but I cannot bring myself to even contemplate wearing it (too many Cher connotations, maybe?). However, the trusty leather biker will never go out of fashion; throw one on over pretty much anything to complete an outfit, keep warm and look sweet.

4. SOCKS A tad vague perhaps but socks are one of my absolute fave winter essentials – especially this year as chunky cut out boots are key to the winter wardrobe. Wear frilly ones with boots or brogues for a gorgeous day time look and then add some glitz with glittery ones for an dressier look in the evening.

5. ORANGE NAILS It’s all about orange nails this season – lucky for us all shades are in so there is guaranteed to be a colour to suit your skin tone perfectly. Plus, it will brighten up those dark days a little.

6. DARK RED LIPS Every winter. Without. Fail. Be extra careful when choosing your shade though as dark shades are sometimes tricky to pull off.

7. FLUFFY JUMPERS Perfect with a tartan skirt, the 90s style super soft jumper is back. Cosy, warm, ridiculously cuddly and amazing with pretty much anything. Try a cropped one with short sleeves for a grungier, evening look.

8. BABY PINK Super girly and easy to wear. Embrace your inner girly girl with a delicate skirt and rock it up with a leather skirt.

9. TURTLE NECKS Another piece that is screaming 90s, the turtle neck comes in loads of shapes, styles and colours and most are cheap and cheerful. Plus, they go with pretty much anything and can be casual day wear or dressed up for drinks.

10. CHUNKY BOOTS An all year round favourite for me anyway, winter is the time to embrace the chunky boots. Go for a heel for an evening look and Dr Martens for a more casual day time look. Don’t be afraid to embrace you inner grunge and try a girly dress with them – and don’t forget your sparkly socks!

Top 10 Albums

After hours of debating (with myself) and endless switching and swapping it’s done. So, here goes: the almost nearly impossible task of choosing my favourite album of all time. It will, without doubt, have changed in a few weeks time, maybe even next week or tomorrow but for now, this is it.

While I thought I’d be endlessly thinking of brilliant albums that would definitely be fighting for a place in the top ten, I came to realise the opposite; that as much as I like certain bands there are some that couldn’t get the album just right. David Bowie immediately comes to mind when the favourite artists topic arrises but no matter which album I listen to I always find my self skipping tracks. My favourite Bowie tracks are hidden amongst the soundtrack to The Labyrinth but they are few and far between cinematic instrumentals. I was also certain that The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen and Dylan would make an appearance but while I may have had The Killing Moon and Lay Lady Lay on repeat for the probably the last five years of my life, I could not justify the including the whole LP.

The albums I have eventually chosen are those I can listen to on repeat, from track one until the end. They are the albums that I find myself going back to year after year and they are the albums that make me feel happy and sad, cynical and optimistic and the albums that I can walk down to the street to, feeling like I am in a film or like my life is so dramatic is deserves a soundtrack (I know).

Despite Fleetwood Mac releasing Rumours twenty four years before I was even born it has crept in at number ten. For the most part my list is contemporary music but Rumours is such a brilliant mix love songs and love songs tend to stay relevant. Ditto with my number seven and The Queen Is Dead. Morrissey may be a depressing sod but The Smiths get those twisted love songs spot on. The Editors fall in to that same category with their epic, atmospheric and almost cinematic tracks on The Back Room and For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver (the one who took himself away to live in a cabin for a few months and write this masterpiece) is one of those albums that just flows seamlessly whether it’s on really loud or in the background. It is tremendously good if you have a long train journey or a lot to think about. re:stacks is my personal favourite for this type of activity.

When I’m not feeling so thoughtful or sorry for myself I retreat back the my earlier teenage days when gigs and train travel was a whole new world to me. I didn’t manage to make room for The Cribs. Even though the were an integral to this part of my life I don’t find myself listening to them so much today as I do Maximo Park and Yeah Yeah Yeah’s. A Certain Trigger is the album I always go back to. I still know what song comes next and it still makes me dance around my room as does Karen O and her gorgeous pop songs. If only I had room for all three albums but alas, I went with their debut, Fever To Tell, when Karen is at her best spangly rock and roll goddess stage as she screams ‘Rich.’ 

For anyone who knows me, even a little bit, the next album is an obvious one. Yes, it’s good old Florence and her Machine. Lungs is full of twisted songs (all covered by a soft female voice, if Slipknot were to sing this album it’d be a different story) about wanting to cut another girl’s heart out on account that she’s made our Flo’ cry and wanting to get so drunk you die. Sometimes I think we’ve all felt a bit like that, no? Just me then. Anyway, it’s been at least once a week for the last year and a half and it gets me dancing, even in public and that’s a rarity. 

The Scots making an appearance at number two and eight. Frightened Rabbit have three brilliant albums all brimming with meaningful love songs, break up songs and songs about snake shaped door stoppers but it was their second album that made my list. Midnight Organ Fight is genius; a favourite track being ‘Heads Roll Off’ which begins ‘Jesus was just a Spanish boy’s name/How did one man get so much fame?’ We Were Promised Jetpacks only have the one album but boy, it’s good. It is a strong mix of heartfelt meaningful and somewhat power vocals set over an ambient background or strings and piano before crashing into heavy drumming a guitar. These Four Walls could have been at number one.

However, Art Brut’s Bang Bang Rock and Roll is the top of the list. Singer Eddie Argos writes about his life in love in which he seems comically unsuccessful, his life in music and mix tapes and his life growing up. It’s the lyrics that are the genius in this album, and every album Art Brut released. ‘Bad Weekend’ was the song that summed up my snobbish NME attitude I once donned, ‘Haven’t read the NME in so long/ Don’t know what genre we belong /Popular culture no longer applies to me.’  Every song on the album sums up some part of life whether it’s falling in love with ‘Emily Kane,’ trying to understand ‘Mordern Art’ or just having a ‘Good Weekend’ while watching your little bother discover rock and roll for the first time.

  1.  Art Brut – Bang Bang Rock & Roll (2007)
  2.  We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls (2009)
  3.  Florence and the Machine – Lungs (2009)
  4.  Maximo Park – A Certain Trigger (2005)
  5.  Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago (2008)
  6.  Editors – The Back Room (2005)
  7.  The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead (1984)
  8. Frightened Rabbit – Midnight Organ Fight (2008)
  9. Yeah Yeah Yeah’s – Fever To Tell (2003)
  10.  Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1977)

Russell Brand: Messiah Complex Live

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“I’ve not been in our country for years so I’m feeling a little disoriented.” 

It is no wonder Brand is feeling a tad disorientated as he walks out on stage to a sold out Manchester Apollo – this is his first live stand-up tour since 2009s Scandalous and since then he has travelled the world, married an American pop-star, spoken in the House of Commons, become a Hollywood actor, divorced the American pop-star and been in trouble with the press more times than he even could count on two hands… not that he’d care to. From the get go though, it is obvious from the crowd’s reaction just how far he has come from ‘the slightly annoying, floppy haired dude’ from Big Brother’s Big Mouth and although he has been away for four years, Manchester are sure glad to have him back.

As he grazes the audience with his sexual prowess (much to the delight of the females and one overly enthusiastic male who jumps on him and refuses to let go) Brand steps away from his celebrity status momentarily. Fumbling his way around the audience, despite the theatre’s vast space and wooden nature, he manages to connect the room; we’re all friends now and Russell is a mere mortal like the rest of us. It is soon clear that Brand won’t be censoring himself tonight either as he speaks to a girl named Rebecca in the audience and then proceeds to sit on her lap, driving her electric wheelchair and crashing it. His quick wit, perfectly set up against the relaxed atmosphere, prevails though as the audience burst into laughter and he fires into a ‘shit, that could have been worst than the Hugo Boss/Nazi scandal’ joke.

The show centres around fame and status, communism and the hyperbole of brands and advertising (how dare Dr Pepper state their drink is ‘unbelievably satisfying’? It is a mere drink that is at most ‘quite nice.’) Light-boxes of four famous leaders don the stage; Gandhi, Che Guevara, Malcolm X and Jesus. These are Brand’s chosen examples to explain how ridiculous it is that today our idols are celebrities and not influential leaders, yet he effortlessly compares himself to his chosen four whilst simultaneously taking the mick out of himself for his pure hypocrisy – after all why would he hate fame when it gave him a ‘tumble dryer of tits and money.’

The shows moves at an incredibly quick pace. It is full of fancy words and ‘clever stuff’ which he occasionally apologies for but just when you’re about to switch off because it’s all getting a little like a lecture, he cracks a crude joke and returns to bounding about the stage miming a joke about an orgasm, his rocky marriage or Ronald McDonald’s cock.

Messiah Complex is so smoothly crafted that I went away feeling like it was almost too much to take in. I had definitely been watching Brand on stage for an hour and a half but the pace and complexity of the show made it feel like it was over in a flash. I must have taken something in though because I left with the strong opinion that communism sucks and I very much wanted to sleep with him.

I don’t know how he does it, albeit the latter may be purely the leather trousers.

Good Juju: Current Obsession

JujuAhh, summer is here! That initial excitement of escaping the winter blues soon wears off though as my annual realisation that I am very slightly ginger, will probably never get a natural tan, will get very hot, bothered and burnt and should probably shave my legs and paint my toe nails rears its ugly head (in the rare occasion that we might actually get some proper sun). However, this year Juju are doing a real good job of convincing me that summer is fun and that I actually, probably do need about 10 new pairs of shoes…

The 90′s are back! A phrase I never imagined I would say with such utter delight as, to be frank, I looked absolutely appauling in the 90′s but my wonky teeth and freckles were more to blame than the clothes. One childhood favourite though, was the Juju jelly shoe and guess who’s back!

There are infinite reasons to love the jelly shoe and here are my top five so if you aren’t convinced already, you should be by the end – hey if they can make me like summer they must be pretty good, huh?

1. They come in a huge range of colours (including the super cool clear glittery ones you probably used to have!)

2. They come in an even bigger range of styles from heels to flats, smart to casual and sandals to wellies…

3. They are really, really comfy – especially in hot weather as the plastic stretches with your foot.

4. There is a style to go with pretty much anything.

5. They’re fucking awesome.

UK Stocklists: Urban Outfitters, ASOS, Office, New Look.