Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Current free music offers! Ke$ha, Hannah Montana and more!

There’s a great range of free music available to download freely as part of various offers online at the moment!
You’ve got Ke$ha’s new single We R Who We R available here when you sign up to her mailing list.
Then here on Amazon you’ve got a whole host of free tracks including songs by Hannah Montana, Swedish House Mafia, OMD and Magnetic Man. Brilliant stuff!

Take That - The Flood

Every so often a song comes along that quite literally picks you up off your feet and blows you away. There are some songs that are just ‘that’ good. And for me, Take That’s new single – the first from their 6th studio album – is one such song. Walking down the street, this song comes up on your iPod, and my God does it leave an impact. From its subtle beginnings it builds and builds, layer upon layer, to an immensely powerful crescendo.
Of course, it’d be unfair not to mention the significance of Robbie Williams’ return to the band, this is after all the band’s first single with him since his return to the group. Robbie doesn’t fail to make his presence immediately felt, adding a much needed grit to the band’s sound. Post-comeback Take That were always highly skilled at pumping out glossy, melodic guitar-edged slabs of modern pop, but with Robbie’s return on The Flood, they now reach a new level of epicness, something the brilliant accompanying video marks out perfectly.
Featuring the band in a beautifully shot rowing race down the river Thames, it feels as quintessentially British as the band itself. By the time we see the reunited fivesome making their way past London’s famous landmarks and on out into the sea, we have a perfect visual metaphor for the song’s message of triumph in the face of adversity. Quite literally ‘holding back the flood’.
And so we have Take That, returning once again, stronger than ever. With each new album since their return they have presented themselves as more glossy, more meaningful, more driven. No wonder then they set the charts alight with colossal record sales, blasting the Christmas market apart with numbers other acts can only ever dream of. And with The Flood, every single inch of that success is justified – it really is a truly magical record.
Out 15th November

Monday, 18 October 2010

The Wanted - Made

iTunes are offering a great track from The Wanted’s debut album (which is fantastic by the way) as a free download this week and it is well worth getting your hands on. Those that think they know what the band is all about based on their first two singles will find Made refreshingly different.
Featuring a more guitar based vibe; it showcases the band’s more ‘indie’ side, coming surprisingly close to sounding like a more poppy, glossed-up version of Bloc Party at times, something that can be said for a number of tracks from the album. With husky, delicate vocals and an infectious chorus, it’s tracks like this that help make their debut LP so consistent and a standout as one of the best pop releases of the year.
Download the track from iTunes here.

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Sister Marie Says

I’ve been listening to OMD’s brilliant new album History of Modern a fair bit recently, so I was rather excited to hear there’ll be a second single taken from it, coming out next month! Sister Marie Says is classic OMD, a massive synth hook propelling a track that could have come straight out of the band’s 80s heyday. And for that, the song works a treat. The band have always excelled at blending catchy melodies with quirky, witty lyrics, and this track doesn’t disappoint.
For me, it doesn’t quite reach the joyous anthemic qualities that the album’s lead single If You Want It boasted, but it’s a more than solid contribution to OMD’s stellar discography. Oooh, and the prospect of new b-sides and remixes is always rather exciting too.
Out 15th November

INTERVIEW - Nathan Sykes from The Wanted

Hi Nathan! You and the band are all in your teens or early 20s, how did it feel having your single All Time Low get to Number 1 at such a young age?
It was crazy because we’re all fairly young and it just came from nowhere. We didn’t expect to get a number one at all; we’d have loved to have even just got top 40. The single kept going up and up on iTunes and held out through the week. It’s just crazy for all of us because we’ve been working so hard over the past year and didn’t know if it was going to pay off.
And do you still get a buzz when you hear your songs on the radio?
Definitely! We just got off a flight from America, got in the car and one of the first songs that came on was our new single Heart Vacancy. We were like ‘We’re on the radio! Turn it up, turn it up!’ So yeah, we do still go a bit mad whenever our songs come on the radio, and we probably still will do for the next ten years ha!
Your new single Heart Vacancy has got quite a different feel from All Time Low. What’s the song about?
I think it’s just about you trying to convince a girl that’s been hurt by someone that you’re not going to do the same to her. It’s basically a love song, but it’s got a good beat to it too. It’s a completely different side of us from All Time Low.
And what can we expect from the album? You’ve worked with people like Guy Chambers and Taio Cruz on it haven’t you?
Yeah we have! It’s really cool because we’ve all got different influences; we wrote about 50% of the album so we’ve all put our different backgrounds and musical influences on it. There’s one track that’s a very stripped back ballad; just piano and strings, and then there’s a few quite rocky ones too.
So you felt like you were in safe hands with these experienced songwriters then?
Yeah! We walked into the studio and were like ‘There’s Guy Chambers!’ It was quite scary for the first few days; he’s got a really dry sense of humour. Like we’ll be in the studio singing and he’ll lean in and go ‘That was... nearly there’ haha! But it’s been great working with these people, like most artists won’t ever get the opportunity to work with people this experienced in their whole career and we got to work with them on our first album so it’s pretty amazing!
As a boyband you have all these girls following you around everywhere, what’s that like?
We’re not complaining about it, not at all! We’re loving it!
With the music industry at the moment there’s all this focus on the internet – sites like Twitter and YouTube – do you feel this is a good thing?
We didn’t have any kind of instant success like some people do from the X Factor or anything so we had to really put in the groundwork, especially as it’s really hard to build a fanbase these days. So it’s great to be able to go on Twitter and talk to the fans; really communicate with them. It’s about keeping a good relationship with people who like your music and getting feedback too! We have a thing we do called ‘Wanted Wednesday’ where we post a video every Wednesday of what we’ve been up to that week and it lets all the fans know what we’ve been doing and lets them get to know our personalities which is really cool. So I think the internet side of things is definitely really important!
What’s great about you as a band is that you all feel very relaxed together – just five lads hanging out together having fun.  When you first got together you all shared a house together didn’t you?
That’s what people like about us; we’re all best mates and when we’re not working together we’re chilling together. We’ll just be watching the football or having a beer, something like that. We’re all really tight and that really helps when we’re writing music because we all know each other really well, so we know what sort of song will suit which person.
So is it quite daunting then to take that tight bond and then go out and perform to 80,000 people or so at Twickenham Stadium when you did the Help for Heroes charity concert?
I think it’d be worse if you went out there on your own but I know I’ve got the other boys there with me so I’m usually alright. For some reason I don’t get as nervous as everyone else. I think that’s the best thing though, all this hard work we’re putting in and getting opportunities to do stuff like that. It was an absolute pleasure doing that gig because it’s for such a great charity.
You work with Brian Friedman on your choreography and at that gig you came onstage bursting from a giant box before pulling out smoke flares; is it important to have that visual aspect to a performance too?
I think so yeah! It was like the first massive production we’d done and we were quite worried we’d get part of it wrong, like break our hand on the box or something ha! It was quite crazy but it’s definitely something we look forward to because it just gives you that extra boost of adrenaline.
So could we see this kind of thing expanded into a tour once your album is out?
Hopefully! If people want to come see us then we’re happy to tour! So that’s going to be really exciting and hopefully we can put on a really good show for them. We’ll be working really hard to give the fans something extra than what they’re getting on the album.
Recently you and the guys have been appearing in the style sections of quite a few magazines, did you expect this kind of focus on your ‘look’ when you entered the industry?
I think there’s that extra kind of emphasis on what you wear but we don’t go out there with the aim to stick to a certain image. We just wear what we normally wear on a day to day basis. We’ll just go into our wardrobe and pick out a few things and then wear that for a gig or whatever. Obviously we have a stylist to give us a bit of advice now and then but that’s it really.
At the moment there’s only really you and JLS in the boyband market so do you think this gives you a lot of freedom to do your own thing?
I think so yeah! It’s quite open at the moment; obviously there’s JLS doing their thing – and doing it really well – but they’ve got more of an R&B feel to them. We’re just going to keep on doing our own thing and hope people enjoy it.
And to finish off, if you had to describe The Wanted in just three words, what would those three words be?
Oooh! Hmmm.... ‘Pretty Mental People’! Haha!

The Wanted’s new single ‘Heart Vacancy’ is out now, followed by their debut album out 25th October.

INTERVIEW - Frankie Sandford from The Saturdays

Hiya Frankie!
Your new album Wordshaker has just come out - I was wondering, to kick things off, in what ways do you think it’s different from your first album?
Well... I hate it when bands say ‘oh, we’ve grown up’, but I think it is a little bit of an older sound.  You can still tell it’s us, but whereas before we were kind of ‘becoming’ the Saturdays, now we are them, and we know what kind of sound we want.   I think you can kind of tell that from the album – what we’re all about. All the songs are like a bigger sound, bigger choruses, catchy.  We’re really happy with it.
You do a lot of stuff for your fans in terms of signings, competitions and videos on your website.  Do you think it’s important to stay in touch with the fans like that?
Definitely!  From when we first started out, I think that’s kind of been one of the main reasons for how successful we’ve been.  People actually know who we are and fans feel like they can actually talk to us.  Especially nowadays with everything being internet based, it’s really important to keep that up.  It’s nice for fans as they feel like they get to talk to us, and it’s nice for us as well as we get to see what they think.
According to your press release, you’ve possibly got your eyes on international success, is that something which is important to you as a band, aiming for other markets?
Yes, definitely.  We’ve always wanted to do really well and try and aim to be as good as we can. For us, we really want to make sure we make our mark on the UK because it’s where we’re all from.  But equally, it’s nice for a band to go international and do well.  We’ve always said from the start, world domination!  We hope eventually we’ll be as big as we are here in other countries.
So, what’s an average day as a member of The Saturdays like?  What do you usually get up to?
Every day is different!  If we’ve got a single out, it’s hectic – we’ll fit four TV shows in to one day.  It doesn’t sound like much, but those days can be quite long.  On a day like that that, it’s pretty mental - We’re always nagging to fit in lunchtime!  It’s good though, we like being busy.
Have you got used to coping with fame then?  Paparazzi and stuff like that.
We don’t really see ourselves as famous really. I can still walk down the street and no-one will notice me, so it’s quite nice I can kind of get the best of both worlds.  With the paparazzi we only really get it when we’re on a night out all together or when we’re at a gig or something.  They can be pretty hardcore and sometimes it can get a bit much, but they’re not following us home yet or anything so I don’t think we’ve got too much to complain about.
Now, the big question all the fans want to know – have you got a new tour lined up?
We’re not sure yet, we’re hoping maybe next year we’ll have a tour at some point.
They want a DVD of it too!
If we ever get to do an arena tour then we’ll probably do a DVD.  We want a DVD too, we want to be able to watch it!
So what bands/singers are you liking at the moment then?
I really like Kids In Glass Houses – And Paramore!  They’re my favourite band!
So you’re a bit of a rock chick then eh?
I guess so!  I went to see Green Day recently.  I’ve always liked them but never been to see them.  People we’re going mental about them and I went and watched them and they were amazing!
You’ve got your new single Ego coming out on December 14th and you get a lot of Christmas songs re-entering the charts around that time - Do you have a favourite Christmas song?
I really like them all.  Mariah Carey is an obvious one I guess.  Aww, I love Christmas songs!
We’ve got Halloween coming up too! – What would be your ideal Halloween outfit for a party?
Well, it’s Vanessa’s birthday today, so we’re all going out for it tomorrow and its fancy dress and I haven’t got an outfit yet!
Mollie’s got her Baywatch outfit hasn’t she?
Yeah, she’s being Baywatch.  Me and Dougie were thinking of going as the twins from X Factor!  But I don’t know where I’m going to get a shiny red jacket from.
So, as this interview is for the student newspaper, say if you went to university, what kind of subject do you think you’d do?
Well, I was going to go to uni at one point and I was thinking of doing Music Management. I thought for myself it would be good to know what someone’s meant to be doing, and one day I’d quite like to be a manager... when nobody wants me anymore ha!
Now, students of course love their drink.  What’s your alcoholic drink of choice if you’re going out?
I’m a massive lightweight so I don’t really drink much, but I always have rosé with lemonade, that’s about it.  Or Baileys, but that’s not really a ‘night out’ drink.
So, you and all the girls use Twitter a lot.  What do you think is its main appeal?  Why has it got so big this year?
I think it’s because it’s kind of like an instant update on what your favourite people are doing.  I follow Hayley Williams from Paramore and I mainly read hers.  I mean, it’s weird... why do you really want to know what they’re doing? - It’s quite interesting in a way!  But I’m not really sure quite what it is about it, haven’t figured it out yet ha!
Last year you and the girls had a guest role in Hollyoaks Later, can you see any other acting roles coming up?
I dunno... I hope not!  I mean, i’m not an actress, i’m in a band, and there’s a reason for that.  I find it quite embarrassing.  It’s bad enough doing a video and having to repeat yourself, but having to say your lines 20 times is a bit of a killer.
This is a bit of a random one!  If you could date any female celeb, who would it be?
Megan Fox!  And Angelina Jolie – don’t even have to think about it!
For me it’d be Cheryl Cole every time.
Aww, you gotta love Chezza!
Do you get tempted by fast food a lot? When you’re out on the road and stuff I’m guessing you do.
Oh yes!  It’s terrible!  I love a takeaway.  McDonald’s is like one of those things, you really fancy it and then you have it and you feel like absolute crap.  It’s not cool.  But I do love fast food.
If you’re going out with your mates, what would you say are the key ingredients to a good night out?
I always think if you really organise the night it isn’t as good.  I think it’s one of those things than can really go either way.  You can either be really not in the mood to go out, and then you go out and have a great night – or you can just go out and have the worst time ever.  I think as well, if you’re with a good group of people it doesn’t really matter where you go, you’re with people you know you’re going to have a laugh with.

Hot Chip, Bernard Sumner & Hot City - Didn't Know What Love Was

Quirky electronic hit-makers Hot Chip and New Order frontman Bernard Sumner - from the opening bars of this track (an exclusive free download from converseblog.com), you know it’s a combo made in heaven.

Trippy piano chords and retro synths abound in this dancey slice of pop joy that could have come straight out of the early 90s. Sumner’s vocals gel perfectly with Hot Chip’s and the chorus is insanely catchy, transporting you away to drink laced neon nights and the glamour of the dancefloor.

Didn’t Know What Love Was is easily a contender for the best thing Hot Chip have put their name to and equally, it’s refreshing to see such a musical icon as Sumner fitting in so effortlessly with a new musical generation. He’s certainly lost none of the spark that saw him propell New Order to the upper reaches of the charts time and time again in the 80s and 90s. Oh, and did we forget to mention that this track is free to download? Definitely one to get your hands on.

Out now

The Saturdays - Headlines

Do you know what I love about The Saturdays? They’re fun. Anyone who’s seen their recent ITV2 documentary series will understand the sheer sense of enthusiasm and happiness that seems to infuse everything Rochelle, Mollie, Frankie, Una and Vanessa do. And that includes their music. So, when the time came for the girls to release their third album, you’d be inclined to expect a glossy collection of life affirming, joyous pop anthems. And with Headlines, that is exactly what you get.
Where the album succeeds is that it is in fact a kind of greatest hits/new studio album blend. Previous hits like the rocky Forever Is Over and hands in the air glory of Ego meet with a smattering of new tracks to ensure a snappy finished product – what Headlines lacks in length, it more than makes up for in quality. Consistency is a rare thing for an album to pull off, but here The Saturdays have achieved it, and in many ways the album’s shortness ensures your attention right from end to start.
Lead single Missing You is insanely good, Frankie’s trippy autotuned intro leading into a track that is as much dancefloor stormer as it is a heart-aching story of love. If it’s epic you want, then Died In Your Eyes has it in bucketloads. A ballad of colossal proportions; the chorus is deliriously uplifting, the girls’ vocals shining over soaring piano chords before the song erupts into a full-on singalong chant that is simply made for stadiums.
A tweaked version of One Shot, a standout track from their previous album rounds off the album and if there’s any song to sum up The Saturdays in three and a half minutes of pop perfection, it’s this one. In a world of music that is increasingly fickle and ever-changing, The Saturdays have more than made their mark, putting down their stamp with yet another album chock full of brilliant pop tracks and immense choruses. These girls are definitely here to stay.
Out now

Summer memories of a favourite album...

It’s safe to say that New Order’s ‘Republic’ is in my top 10 favourite albums of all time. A couple of years ago I went on holiday to the south of France and this was one of the few albums I had on my iPod. On those long, lazy summer days, I listened to it again and again and it never grew old or boring.

Fantastically consistent, it more than deserves the Number 1 chart placing it achieved back in 1993 and sees the band striking the perfect balance between the rock/dance fusion that came to define them. Brilliant production values, well crafted lyrics and unforgettable melodies - Republic has it all. Maybe it’s the album cover itself with its image of a gloriously hot tropical beach juxtaposed against a raging fire, or maybe its the delicate lightness of the tracks themselves, but every time I listen to the album now I’m taken back to that summer of a few years ago.

The best music will always be the music that comes to mean something to you in some form or other, and for me, this album, and the lead single Regret in particular, does that more than most. And for that, it’ll always hold a special place in my heart.

Love Amongst Ruin - Love Amongst Ruin

Love Amongst Ruin, AKA Steve Hewitt from Placebo’s new band.  We all remember Placebo; those dark, angsty rockers that delighted us in the late 90s with gems like Nancy Boy and Pure Morning.  Amongst their tracks there was always a slick, modern gloss of cool lacquered over a beating heart that hinted at something much more grim and mysterious.  And so it’s only natural that Hewitt’s new efforts channel many of the same feelings and sounds.
The band’s self-titled debut album has a gritty dirtiness to it, the foreboding wash of a grey rainy day, perhaps showcased best on the sprawling seven minute long Come On Say It.  Fans of bands like The XX and The Cure will find plenty to love in the expansive and, at times, frightening soundscapes on offer here.  Whispered vocals and delicate, trembling guitar work echoes into the listener’s ears, beckoning you in - a crooked finger of promise that hints at the pleasure repeat listens will reward you with.  It’s a call you are powerless to resist.
Love Amongst Ruin are more than just another rock band, they represent a vision; a portrait of raw feeling captured in a collection of songs that as you explore further into the album manifests itself as a dramatic mix of textures and flavours.  The aforementioned down-tempo tracks stand side by side with frantic, energetic numbers.  There’s a keen sense of melody too, really shining across on the single Home in particular as a throbbing bassline builds into a snarled, anthemic chorus.  Album opener So Sad(Fade) is another definite highlight.  It’s moments like these where the band really hit their stride; coming across like a smart, polished, yet utterly sinister cousin of Nine Inch Nails or 30 Seconds to Mars.
This is not a happy album; it is one of desolation, passion and anger. But through all these emotions there always comes the consistency of excellent production values and the sound of a band that is utterly sure in themselves about what they want to create.  The result is highly refreshing in that nothing feels rushed – there are no songs here that feel like they’ve been shoved on the LP just to make up the running time.  There is none of that stagnant quality that can plague so many rock albums. Instead we have pure quality, a band with a vision and the skills to achieve it.
Out now