Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Linkin Park - Rolling In The Deep (Adele cover)

Everyone seems to have had a crack at Adele's super-hit Rolling In The Deep at the moment, so it seems only right that Linkin Park should get round to doing a version of their own.

Perhaps not the most obvious choice of group, but they do a fair job of it. A lot of the response I've seen on Twitter has been rather negative, but to be honest, the cover is what it is. It's a simple acoustic take on a popular track - there's always going to be those that disapprove, but then that goes for pretty much all cover versions.

With Chester Bennington doing a fine job as ever on vocal duties and Mike Shinoda playing guitar, the group performed the track at a German fan club event.

Linkin Park's current single Iridescent, taken from the soundtrack of the new Transformers movie, is available to download from iTunes now.

Twenty Twenty - Move It

Last week we told you about Twenty Twenty's track Get Down, part of the soundtrack to the Horrid Henry movie - however, today sees the lads announcing the release of an upcoming completely-new track.

Entitled Move It, the track doesn't feature on the band's album Small Talk and is the product of a hectic schedule of writing and recording the group have been engaged in since the release of the album.

Get Down, Move It... Sure sounds like Twenty Twenty like keeping active. We can't wait to hear the track!

Move It is released on the 22nd August.

(Movie Review) Transformers - Dark of the Moon

Disappointment. That bitter taste in the mouth at experiencing something so much worse than you had hoped for. As the latest Transformers movie trundled into its closing fifteen minute, that's all I could really feel - proper head in your hands disappointment.

Dazzling special effects and an eye-watering budget, all these fell by the wayside when faced up to the facts that as much as I wanted it to be, this is simply not a good movie. In a year when we've had such brilliance as X Men: First Class, the level of big Hollywood blockbusters has been set so high that simply chucking a load of explosions and cool robots at the audience isn't enough.

Pretty much every bit of dialogue in the film is cringe-inducing, packed full of cliches and guff about 'All I ever wanted to do was save Cybertron...' - it sounds more like the stuff of kids' playground antics than the script of a big bucks sci-fi film.

The jokes are poor and feel incredibly forced, characters talk over each-other in what feels like a desperate attempt to pump some sense of emotion in, and the dialogue at its worst moments feels like a first-draft run-through rather than a finished product.

Yes, this was never going to be a stellar bit of film-making, and my expectations weren't exactly high after being equally let down by the previous two films in the series - but I didn't expect such a disappointment three times running. Dark of the Moon is by no means awful,  but I haven't watched a film that was such a chore to get through as this for a long time.

All things considered, the big female star Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is surprisingly alright, in an exceedingly hot sort of way. She pouts a lot and speaks in an incongrously posh British accent, but manages to be much better than Megan Fox ever was - though that's not exactly a hard thing to do.

Her malevolent boss, played by Patrick Dempsey, is rather good too - but aside from this, none of the cast - leading man Shia LaBeouf included - particularly stand out at all. They become merely enablers to push the movie on to the next big effects sequence. And it's here where the film falls down so far - you can't construct a film just from bangs and battles, recent flop Skyline was proof of that.

I didn't feel like I cared for any of the characters, worsened by the fact the cast was so ridiculously large and unweildy - interchangeable soldier and government types being wheeled in and out at the drop of a hat.

The only two times I felt genuinely wowed by the film was the opening introductory material - where historical footage of the Apollo 11 mission is spliced in - and the dramatic motorway battle/chase sequence. These two moments felt like the kind of movie I wanted to see, they were big, dramatic, stirring. Worth the price of the ticket? Perhaps, but any good they did for the film felt erased by having to wade through the prodigious bulk of everything else.

More an excersise in commercialism than film (there are some absolutely hilarious product placements - so brazen and in your face you'll laugh), Dark of the Moon comes as a real shame - because at its heart still lies the design classic that are the Transformers themselves. You just wish they had been put to better use.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Foster The People - Pumped Up Kicks

Summery and incredibly catchy - what two better qualities could you want in a song this time of year? Bringing the sunshine over from California, Foster The People have been turning heads with their brilliant single Pumped Up Kicks.

Charting in America, the UK, Australia and pretty much everywhere else you care to mention, its appeal is universal.

Channeling much of the same psychadelic indie-pop dreamyness that made us flock to MGMT and Empire of the Sun so readily, Foster The People make a more than ample job at honing in on the sound of 'now'.

Amazon are currently offering a free download of the Hood Internet mix of the track, so what are you waiting for? Go get it!

Pumped Up Kicks and the band's album Torches are available to download from iTunes now.

Kids In Glass Houses - Gold Blood / Animals

Kids In Glass Houses are back - and boy are they sounding good. It's always a sign of supreme confidence when you launch your new album with it's own mini-site, and that's exactly what the band have done for their new LP In Gold Blood.

The record's first taster track Gold Blood was initially offered as a free download - the song sees the band taking on a far rougher, gritty sound than the New Wave-inspired gloss-pop of Dirt. Feedback screeches over guitar hooks that pickaxe their way into the senses while the chorus sees the band heading more towards the territory of fellow Welsh rockers Lostprophets.

And if Gold Blood is good, Animals is even better. Last Monday Zane Lowe played the track as his 'Hottest Record' . Thundering guitar lines and a big chorus to rival anything off the band's last two albums, Animals looks set to be a big live favourite - it's also the perfect track to announce with a bang that they're back.

If you weren't lured in by their previous material, this will be the one that really gets you - whereas the band's past singles could at times come across as fey and innocent, this new Kids In Glass Houses has been there and done it all; now they're back, dirty and bruised and with the passion set to boil.

The band described their new album as a game-changer, and if these two tracks are anything to go by, it looks a fair bet.

The new, re-invisioned Kids In Glass Houses see the band entering their adrenaline fuelled adolescent stage - wild and packing a formdible punch, it's a stage in their development we have every intention of riding with.

Gold Blood is available to download from iTunes now. The album In Gold Blood is released on the 15th August with Animals preceding it, the week before.

The Lancashire Hotpots - Achtung Gravy

You just can't beat the British for their sense of humour - and The Lancashire Hotpots sees that wonderful comic capability in fine health as they deliver their 5th studio album Achtung Gravy.

The art of parody, as simple as it might seem at times, is a very precise thing. Looks pretty easy right? Just throw together a couple of witty reposts and make it slightly relevant to current affairs? The trick is of course finding those crucial ingredients to elicit that key reponse - those deep, rumbling belly laughs that show you've worked your magic yet again.

The Lancashire Hotpots are clear pros - a career this long and illustrious proof of that. At its heart, parody in this format still revolves around good, quality songwriting, and that's here on Achtung Gravy for sure. And to be honest, the band have got me right there - before the first track has even started - with that title.

You can just imagine Bono twitching in frustration at the wryness of it all. As the man himself and his merry group of musicians took to the Pyramid stage at Glasto, the Lancashire Hotpots were simultaneously playing the Croissant Neuf stage. A neat little bit of union if ever there was one.

With their folky charms and endearing Northern accents, I'd dare anyone with a full functioning sense of humour not to at the very least break into a smile at the likes of You Could Get Hit By A Bus Tomorrow.

My personal favourite has to be album opener Mek Us A Brew, an anthem to all things 'oop North', if you will. In a hilarious assault on 'creamy lattes', this track takes on a more Brit-pop inspired sound, harking back to the likes of Wonderstuff or The Charlatans at their most poppy.

The accents, the Lulz; it's all here. You feel like the album has been cooked up in some rural pub; glass of ale in one hand, guitar in the other, rather than being spawned from any traditional recording process - and in this instance, that bears countless dividends.

With The Guardian proclaiming the band 'masters of parody' and a whole heap of other lovely praise surrounding them, Achtung Gravy is the sound of a group riding the wave of success, feet standing steady on the finest of comedy boards. Only in Britain could you have something so cheerily funny as the Lancashire Hotpots, and you can chalk that up as another point on the list of what makes this country so great.

Achtung Gravy is available to download from iTunes now.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Josh Osho - Redemption Days

One track you'll want to keep your eyes on in the coming weeks is Josh Osho's Redemption Days - a smooth, soulful anthem that seems to soar on an appetite of hope and radiance.

Hailing from South London, Osho actually went to the same school as me (though I didn't know him personally). With a full-on gospel choir, and a thoroughly modern production sheen, Osho is lent a helping hand by Amy Winehouse collaborator Ghostface Killer.

There's a cool Britain/America parallel going on in the track's video between the two men and further projects the theme of unity and togetherness the song's sublime chorus strings itself around.

In a year where Aloe Blacc floats out of every passing car stereo, Osho is the kind of singer who could easily stand as our own British answer to the I Need A Dollar vocalist.

Redemption Days is released on the 1st August.

Kyoto Drive - So Much Alive / Chapters

Though their name might suggest a fashionable avenue in Japan, Kyoto Drive hold far more ties to the English Midlands, where they hail from.

With a number of live dates coming up in August, including at the hallowed Camden Barfly, their new double A-side single sees them delivering an energetic, punchy bit of pop punk.

With hard riffs and precise percussion, the band channel the sound of contemporaries like Kids In Glass Houses to impressive effect - So Much Alive is an all out summer rock anthem, resounding to a chorus of 'I've got this feeling, I'm awake but it feels like dreaming'.

It's big, bold, catchy material and has already seen Kyoto Drive catching the attention of Kerrang! With the flip side of the single, Chapters, delivering a similarly thrilling shot of adrenaline to the system, this release marks a strong, thoroughly modern-sounding step up the ladder for the group.

So Much Alive and Chapters are available to download from iTunes now.

Three headliners at Glasto, one true winner...

What can be said about Beyonce's Glastonbury set that hasn't already been said? Sometimes the simplest of descriptions is all that's needed. Simply: WOW.

You need only have looked across Twitter to see the social networking site dissolve in an ecstacy of awe at Beyonce. Pop fans, rock fans, all were united in their appreciation of the veritable Godess that walked out on stage to play to 175,000 people that night. Fan or non-fan, the sheer spectacle of Beyonce's set won everyone over - a unifying feat like no other.

U2's set two nights before was excellent - choc-a-bloc with hits from their best album, Achtung Baby. The sound quality was top-notch and Bono gave an empassioned delivery that served as a firm reminder that the Irish rockers are still very much 'with-it'. It was exactly the kind of performance you expect and hope for from one of the most experienced bands out there.

Likewise, Coldplay were on fine form; like U2, delivering a reassured confident set. All the big hits, a smattering of customary new material - it went down a treat with the crowd, including a certain Jay-Z and Beyonce who we saw cutely dancing away in the pit between the stage and the audience. Even mega-stars need some time to kick back and rock out.

But Beyonce had to be the true winner. As the woman herself pointed out in her intro VT, she was the first solo female to headline the festival's main stage - an achievement that cannot be understated. And just like her partner Jay-Z had done before her, she proved that Glastonbury is not just the domain of 'rock'. Something as immense and all-inclusive as Glastonbury should be a place for performers of all kind, and Beyonce came to hammer that fact home like her life depended on it.

An all-female backing band, impossibly skilled dancers and a jaw-dropping powerhouse vocal from Beyonce herself, emotions were running high as she pulled her set to a close with the tear-jerking Halo. Stepping down from the stage to touch the hand's of the front row, here you saw the very definition of a modern star.

In a set which made every track an event, a 'moment' that you simply couldn't tear your eyes away from, it was this final, towering performance which summed up what a landmark this night stood as. Or put simply, just WOW.

(In a neat little feature for this year, iTunes has put some of the Glasto performances up for download - including the amazing Irreplaceable. Seeing every single one of that crowd shouting 'TO THE LEFT' at the top of their voices was rather special.)

New releases round-up - 27th June 2011

Beyonce - 4

After watching Beyonce's breathtaking Glastonbury set last night, I don't think anyone can deny the sheer formidable force of nature she represents as a pop artist. With her new album 4 containing such winners as Run The World (Girls) and my personal favourite 1+1, while it may not have received the best of critical receptions, it still stands as a firm considered chapter in Beyonce's musical career.


Coldplay - Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall

And now something from those other Glastonbury headliners, Coldplay. The single has attracted a fair bit of flac for it's apparent sampling of a classic dance track, but for me, it's little quirks like this that have kept Coldplay interesting through all these years. Well over a decade now since they went stratospheric with Yellow, it's reassuring to know they remain something we can forever still count on.


Biffy Clyro - Revolutions: Live At Wembley

When it comes to consistency and solidarity, Biffy Clyro are another prime candidate - this year seeing their status boosted by a whole heap of 'Britain's Best Live Band' accolades sent their way. And now you can experience their fabled live experience for yourself with this package, a handy collection of the band's greatest hits sung from that most hallowed of venues. Fan or not, the success of the band's last two albums is undeniable.


Snoop Dogg - Boom

A little guilty pleasure here, simply for the fact it reminds me so much of The Saturdays If This Is Love. In case you haven't guessed, yes, Snoop Dogg's new single also samples Yazoo's Situation. A surprisingly fizzy and sprightly move for the rapper, it nevertheless makes for a strong follow-up to dance-athon track Sweat.


Saturday, 25 June 2011

INTERVIEW - Rise To Remain

Rise To Remain are the UK’s hottest new metal band, already racking up acclaim from Kerrang! And Metal Hammer who both awarded them their ‘Best New Band’ accolade. After a series of EP releases and blistering festival sets, September sees the band releasing their debut album – they have also just announced a 20 date UK headline tour. I caught up with the band’s vocalist Austin Dickinson to get the low-down on all things Rise To Remain.
You recently supported Funeral For A Friend on tour – did you have any favourite cities that you played to?
It’s really hard to decide as we’ve had so many great shows everywhere; Manchester, Wakefield, London, you name it! It’s just brilliant because there’s all the normal places where you know everyone will always be totally up for it – like Manchester is a kick-ass city, there’s always a party happening! But then we get to go to places that we wouldn’t normally visit, Penrith for example – going to somewhere like that and getting a great reaction, that’s a whole different kettle of fish - people go nuts for you and it’s like, ‘WOW!’
You guys also recently played Download - how does the experience of playing the smaller venues compare to festivals?
At small shows you’ve got say 400 of your fans going bat-shit crazy. When you play a festival, you’ll have those 400 guys, they’ll be there; but they’ll be surrounded by like a couple-thousand people who might not necessarily have heard of you or checked you out otherwise. It’s a great platform to be able to play to a lot of new potential fans.
And was that also your thinking with releasing your EP with Metal Hammer magazine, getting more new people on board?
People just download most of their music these days, so I’d rather just give it to them and see what they think. That was our first proper introduction, we’d done a couple of EPs before then but we’d only sold them at shows. That was the main idea behind that – it being a kind of introductory release - and we were very happy Metal Hammer magazine were on board with it. They’ve started to do those free releases a lot more recently – the most recent The Defiled album for example - who are a great band by the way. It’s a brilliant way to just get people hearing your stuff.
You’re now signed to a major label, EMI – does that feel like a very different aspect to releasing your music?
To be honest, not really, as EMI have everyone’s best interests at heart. In this case we did everything in the reverse way, we actually signed to the label after we had our album mastered and finished. The whole reason we wanted to do that was that we didn’t want a situation where we had a label telling us what to do. EMI just did the complete opposite - as soon as they heard we were looking for a label, they got excited. We were just chatting away and they showed the same enthusiasm in the record that we did; that’s so rare in a record label these days, especially a label as monolithic as EMI. We just can’t wait for the album to be out and for everyone to hear it.
And what kind of stuff can we expect from the album?
Gnarly guitars, gnarly dudes, rad sounds. Fast, heavy, big choruses - we tried to mix things up a lot on the album. It’s definitely diverse, listen to our track The Serpent and you’ll have a rough idea of what the album is about. To be honest, we don’t want people getting bored halfway through our songs – I’ve heard bands before where some tracks are just six minutes of self-indulgent shred, and it’s like, it sounds ok for the first three minutes, but then it’s kinda boring. We want to keep changing things up, keep things interesting, keep people satisfied.
I think that’s always the true test, if their albums are consistent from start to end – that’s what you want to hear.
Yeah! I have the same problem with a lot of metal releases as they tend to stagnate by track six. It’s a shame as there are a lot of amazing bands out there who might just fall short on a record. We just wanted to make a foolproof album that just has song after song that keeps your attention.
With so many bands around, does it ever feel quite competitive, that you need to be doing your own thing to stand out?
That’s the music industry for you, mate. It’s always like that, but at the same time, the people you’re ‘competing’ with are also your best friends. We’ve toured with bands like Korn, Trivium, and we just all really get along. There’s definitely a kind of camaraderie that comes from being a musician. You tend to all get together, have a bit of fun, say ‘Hey, let’s get some beers!’ and so on...
Some of these bands you’ve toured with have been around for years, have they shared any of their experiences with you?
I lost my voice on day a while back and I remember Matt Heafy from Trivium saying ‘Have you been drinking much water?’ and I was like ‘No more or less than usual.’ ‘Ok piece of advice,’ said Matt ‘Don’t stop drinking water until what’s coming out is the same colour as what’s going in.’ Thanks! Too much information, but thanks! Shit like that happens all the time, there’s always advice you can pick up on. When you’re touring with bands like Funeral For A Friend that have been so iconic in the world of post-hardcore and metal, the lessons you can learn from just watching them on stage and talking to them are infinite.
Do you feel the music industry is kind of moving away from the whole ‘we were discovered on MySpace’ thing now?
Well, I mean, that kind of thing has happened - like the classic story of a girl singing in a tube station, and then all of a sudden she’s headlining Wembley. It’ll always be there, but at the end of the day, it’s just technology advancing. Everything will just converge into one black box eventually - It’s gonna wipe your arse, play your favourite songs and call your wife when you’re coming home.  I dunno, I don’t know where the next step is. It’s funny you mention it as me and the Funeral For A Friend boys were having this exact conversation the other day, what’s the next step? – I’m not sure we can give away our plans just yet, it’s top secret, but yeah, we’ve got plans...
I guess that’s kind of the core of the matter – that it’s just another platform you can use to get your music out there, but you can’t rely on it entirely.
The thing about the internet is that we can stay up to date with our fans, we can get feedback, upload live videos on YouTube, keep track of how everyone’s doing – it’s cool to chat to fans, show our appreciation. They’re the guys that keep us on tour. If I ever see a fan wearing one of our t-shirts or something I’ll go up to them and give them a hi-five.
That’s the power of music isn’t it, that it can just touch so many people. It’s always there, whether they’re driving down the road, or going shopping.
Completely. And it’s important to respect that, especially to acknowledge our position. People appreciate our tunes, and they appreciate it even more when you go out and say thank you.
Rise To Remain’s latest single Nothing Left is available to download now. The band’s debut album City of Vultures is released on the 5th September.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Roger Sanchez - Worldwide

The name Roger Sanchez comes as a symbol of quality, an assured safe bet when it comes to dance music. And in the year that his landmark No. 1 single Another Chance reaches its 10th birthday, it's as good as time as any to revisit the club supremo.

My interest in Sanchez had actually been piqued recently by rumours he was working on new material with Girls Aloud's Sarah Harding - for the time being though, let's focus on his new single, Worldwide.

Sanchez's recent mixes of the likes of Depeche Mode have been towering constructions; throbbing tribal anthems that throb with a dark primal alive-ness. And Worldwide follows along the same lines, also working in sweaty, energetic hip-hop influences.

It seems only right that a track entitled Worldwide would bear such an electric stamp of sonic influences, and it's a good fit - the track feels genuinely exciting; flipping between sounds and rhythms at the drop of a hat. The bass is real buzz-saw stuff, juddering right into your bones, propelling the track onwards in an almost machine-like fashion.

Definitely one for all those jetting off to Ibiza this summer to pop on their iPods before they go.

Worldwide is available to download from iTunes now.

Lanterns On The Lake - You're Almost There

Newcastle six-piece Lanterns On The Lake know all about making their numbers count - it shows in their music, right down to every last piece of the artistic wonderment that is their track You're Almost There.

Listening to them is almost more like observing a masterpiece of fine art than a record in a way. There are so many details, so many aspects and layers to their work that it's hard to decide what is more involving - the grandosity of their music as a whole, or the intricacy of each individual part.

Pinned on a tear-jerking, sorrowful piano hook, You're Almost There is about as atmospheric a track as you get these days. Elusive and ever shape-shifting, it coils and spirals down and down into a shadowy realm of wintery melodies and yearning, enchanting female vocals.

As the track slowly draws to a close, violins sigh as if they're some weary animal heading for hibernation - it's a beautifully natural sound that the band manage to capture; an essence that is as much about themselves as it seems to stem from the bleakness of their Northern roots.

Even their name, Lanterns On The Lake, is so instrinsicly poetic, so expressive in its singularity. It's an image, and it's a sound - and a very wonderful one at that.

You're Almost There is available as a free download from Soundcloud here. The band's debut album Gracious Tide, Take Me Home is released on the 19th September.

Lanterns On The Lake - You're Almost There by Bella Union

Dry The River - No Rest

There's been a lot of buzz surrounding Dry The River of late. Fans of the likes of Fleet Foxes and Noah & The Whale will love their folky, delicate charm - a real rapturous collection of softness and melody sewn together with proper tenderness.

Previous single Deadheads with a beautiful, languid ballad of emotions writ large in lush swathes of guitar and piano. From hushed beginnings it erupted into a sprawling, passionate creature that seemed to be bursting to be let loose on the summer festivals.

And it's there you'll find tha band as they take to Glastonbury this weekend, including a Saturday set on the esteemed John Peel stage.

New track No Rest follows much the same lines as Deadheads; again fuelled on a formula of incredibly fragile openings slowly building into a far more complex creation. What really strikes me most is the way lead singer Peter Liddle's voice can, at a moment, suddenly transform into this fully fledged soaring eagle of a thing as he cries 'I loved you in the best way possible', emploring the recipient of the song's message to just listen, to understand.

It's powerful stuff, and quite rightly, has been driving up much praise for the band from the likes of the NME. These guys are definitely ones to keep an eye out for.

No Rest is available to download from iTunes now.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

INTERVIEW - Dionne Bromfield

This week sees up and coming songstress Dionne Bromfield releasing her new single Foolin', the follow up to massive airplay hit Yeah Right. Aged just 15, she's already bagged herself a record deal on Amy Winehouse's Lioness label as well as a slot presenting The Friday Download show on the CBBC channel. With so much talent on show, we thought it'd be only right to catch up with her for a quick chat.

You’ve performed at some of the biggest arenas in the country like the MEN and the O2, do you prefer big venues like this or smaller, more intimate settings?
I like both. I like intimate because it’s nice to be able to connect with the audience a little bit more and it’s nice and cosy. Then again, I like playing big arenas because to be able to say I played there is really cool and I get to connect with even more people! Tricky question!

Do you get nervous before you go on stage?
Oh yeah, I think everyone gets nervous. But a little nerves is good, you know you’re alive!

How does it feel being so young in the music industry? Is it easy dealing with people much older than you?
Sometimes it’s difficult because you just want to muck about. Sometimes I’m like ‘c’mon, I’m a teenager, give me a break!’ Haha! I’m lucky, my mum is always with me and it’s nice to have someone there who I know is looking after me and guiding me.

Do you think you’ve grown up since working on this album?
I have changed a lot. I signed my first album deal when I was 12 so it was a big step, it’s a big job and you have to mature. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing, I’m so used to working with adults now. I don’t class myself as an adult  but I have that mentality because I can’t act like a kid and get on people’s nerves. I have to have that maturity.

You’re currently presenting The Friday Download show on CBBC – did presenting come naturally to you and how different does it feel from performing? 
To be honest, when I went for the audition I didn’t think I’d get it at all. There were loads of other actresses there that had been on all these BBC shows. I was thinking I definitely wouldn’t get it. I did my audition,  forgot about it, and I was kinda like wow, when I got the part. I couldn’t believe it, I was over the moon. Even my mum was like have you got the wrong person?

It’s exciting to know that when you go to do something that is totally out of the box , totally didn’t see myself being able to do it, that someone looks at you and thinks you have the skills to give it a shot.  It was nice to be acknowledged in that way, I love being a presenter.

Were you prepared for the great success of your single Yeah Right? What feelings went through your mind when you first heard it on the radio?
When I first heard it I was over the moon, I couldn’t believe it. And when it got so much hype as it did I was like this is my song and when we finished Yeah Right, I didn’t think it would be a hit. I think I doubted myself a little bit, I thought it wouldn’t do that well, but it did , I’m amazed by it. No wait to see how people react to my new single Foolin’.

Your new album is called Good For The Soul, what else is good for the soul?
Going to concerts and watching other people perform. Anything to do with music. I guess doing school work is good for the soul in the long run! oh, and ice cream!! I think my album is going to be good for your soul!

Foolin' is available to download on iTunes now. Dionne's album Good For The Soul is released on the 4th July, with offering 1,000 exclusive signed copies of the CD.

WOW! It's a new Cher Lloyd photoshoot

Now this is more like it! I'm still feel the effects of dissapointment experienced on first hearing Cher Lloyd's debut single Swagger Jagger, and having listened to it further since then, it hasn't done much to grow on me either.

This dazzling new photoshoot is something to get excited about though. Cher looks hot, she looks trendy, and most importantly, she looks cool.

This is the kind of thing I envisioned when Cher won the X Factor, and if she'd come out with a thoroughly amazing song in conjunction with this photoshoot she'd be my new favourite popstar, without a doubt. But there lies the problem, the complete mismatch in her image and her music.

It's a shame almost, because he image is bang on. That's why we fell in love with her on X Factor after all. But any 'cool' she managed to acrue on the show or through brilliant photoshoots like this is instantly eliminated by the annoyingness of Swagger Jagger - as much as I wish I could love the track, I just can't.

I'm willing to hold out on the jury when it comes to Cher though - I have hope in her. You see, when someone like her has potential, it doesn't really go away, it's just sometimes masked behind a whole heap of other stuff.

So, for the time being, I'm hoping Swagger Jagger is just a momentary blip, and that in time Cher will grow into the full package we all imagined she'd be when we first saw her on our tellies.

Tatiana - Been A Fool

It's been a long time since we had a properly decent James Bond theme. And while Polish star Tatiana's latest single Been A Fool isn't actually one, it sounds like it could easily take that accolade.

Shimmering and sashying around like a dancer in a late night jazz club, it's a record of pure class. With an opening verse that brings to mind Amy Winehouse's classic You Know I'm No Good, the brass section bouys up Tatiana's big, sonorous voice - a Shirley Bassey-esque delivery that fits the retro sounds of the record like a glove.

With fellow European singers like Caro Emerald doing exceedingly well in the British album charts of late, Tatiana could quite easily be the next - and Been A Fool is certainly the kind of track to do it with.

Where debut single Spider Web was subtle and skeletal in its straight-line pop beauty, Been A Fool is bold and ambitious; a thing of glorious decadence.

Been A Fool is released on the 22nd August.

Twenty Twenty - Get Down

If ever a song was the very essence of youth, Twenty Twenty's Get Down is it. Very much a product of the big, anthemic choruses of American pop-punk, its choruses seem ready-made for teen movie soundtracks.

It's apt then that the track will feature as part of the new Horrid Henry movie. Now, I've had my ears out for news regarding this film for a while now, mainly because it has the delightful Kimberley Walsh from Girls Aloud starring in it, but it's exciting to know that Get Down will be part of the soundtrack too.

Summer always seems to be flooded with these 'As featured in...' tracks, the songs serving as a mutually beneficial promotional companion to the films themselves. Records by Take That and Linkin Park have already recently served in this capacity, fronting up big blockbuster releases - X Men and Transformers respectively.

In Twenty Twenty and Horrid Henry though, we have something that feels more authentic. For starters, Get Down actually sounds summery, the kind of song you can imagine playing over the car radio as you zip round to your mates house for an afternoon BBQ.

A tale of young love, the chorus of 'Let's stop pretending and drop the small talk now' is all about those summer whirlwind romances, that moment when we're swept off our feet by our emotions; when 'our heart stops beating', as the band puts it.

Who knows, maybe Get Down will be the soundtrack for your summer romance this year? In the mean time, make sure you download the band's debut album - it's very good.

Horrid Henry, the movie is out in cinemas on the 29th July. Get Down is available to download from iTunes now.

Wonderland - Nothing Moves Me Anymore

To us long-time Wonderland fans, Nothing Moves Me Anymore is like an old friend. The band initially offered the track as a free download from their website, back in the infancy of their album campaign, before they'd even released their first single.

Later, the track cropped up on their taster EP in the form of an acoustic version (all this back when the track was still caled just Nothing Moves Me).

And now, announced as the third official single from the band's debut album, we see them breathing new life into it, unveiling it to a whole host of new potential fans. And those fans are clearly out there - while the band's singles may not have set the charts alight, their album made a very respactable No. 8 in the Album Charts.

Now, the phrase 'Oh, they're an album-artist' has always been bandied about with a kind of disdain, but in reality, it's nothing to be sniffed at. The fact is, some acts simply sell better with their albums than they do with their singles - and Wonderland are one such act.

Is it down to their sound? Or down to their audience? Truth be told, it's a combination of the both, and Nothing Moves Me Anymore is exactly the kind of track that caters to that audience.

Lush, sprawling pop-rock ballad, it has that same gleam of maturity that for me made the girls' album what it was. The track breathes with a kind of world-weary sigh that tells of someone tired of heartbreak and being let down time and time again; 'I've never felt this empty before' they sing on the chorus, telling of hearts 'as cold as stone.'

It's a bleak picture, but one that the Wonderland girls paint with such shimmering beauty. That's their charm, the emotion of their voices coming good in injecting a track like this with such effervescence.

In the past few weeks since the band's album came out, I've seen more and more people clocking on to what exactly Wonderland are about, and if anything, Nothing Moves Me Anymore is the track to help achieve that. A real slow-burning grower if ever there was one, it makes sure to pay its dividends when it does eventually click.

Nothing Moves Me Anymore is released on the 14th August.

(Video) Britney Spears - I Wanna Go

There comes a point in every major popstar's career where their fame and engagement with the press is in danger of eclipsing their music itself. And in situations like this, a timely reminded of why they reached this esteemed position in the first place is always handy - and what better way to do that than having a laugh at fame and the press itself?

Britney's always been one to throw a dash of comedy across her music videos - who can forget the immortal Titanic references of 'I thought the old lady dropped it in the ocean?' in Oops!... I Did It Again. It's moments like these that serve to prove why Britney deserves every bit of the remarkable longevity her career has enjoyed.

To think that it's getting on for 15 years now since her first single out, you can only marvel that she's still here, still breaking boundaries, still sending herself up in videos like this - and most importantly, we're still loving it. The sign of a truly great popstar.

As part of the Femme Fatale album, I Wanna Go was just a strong cut from what remains one of Britney's most consistent records. But now, with full video in tow (and what a video it is!), it genuinely feels like an event in its own right - something every single should ideally do. A single is a page in the book that is every musician's career, and with I Wanna Go, Britney is making sure as hell that we remember this page.

The opening scenes of the press conference where Britney dismisses rumours from the press are hilarious, and it's refreshing to see Britney capable of having a laugh at the level of mass hysteria that still surrounds her. If we think that only a few years ago this was the same woman who was driven to shaving off her hair by this same intrusion into her life, it makes for a strong symbol of defiance.

Equally, the action shots of Britney astride a car, knocking evil Terminator-style paps down with a microphone are brilliant. Better still, Britney looks absolutely incredible in every shot - every bit of this video is a taster for what we can expect on her tour, so consider our appetites well and truly whetted.

In a nutshell, I Wanna Go is an exercise in fun - something at which it gets spot on. Britney is the popstar we go to when we let our inhibitions down and just want to dance. When the end of the week comes and we hit the town, drinks in hand, Britney is there, soundtracking our journey into a world beyond the humdrum of ordinary-ness that surrounds us. And in I Wanna Go, we have the visual equivalent - the freedom to break the boundaries and defeat those obstacles that forever throwthemselves in our path.

I Wanna Go is released on the 7th August.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Nadine Coyle - Sweetest High

A new single for a new, American album campaign - and with it, a new sound... of sorts. A hefty slice of Eurodance wouldn't perhaps be the first port of call for everyone looking to break into the States, but then again, the dance market has exploded over there in recent years - just look at what the likes of J Lo and Chris Brown are doing.

Nadine's powerhouse vocals remain largely unchanged from her Insatiable album, though perhaps this time round there's more of a raw, 'live-ness' to them. Nadine sounds less confined, more like she's actually having fun singing the track. And on a song called Sweetest High, you imagine fun would be central to that experience.

Hectic, bouncy, packing an irresistible synth riff; Sweetest High spills from the definition of summer anthem. All in all, it sounds like an intriguing move for her and we wait with baited breath to hear more from Nadine 2.0...

Nadine Coyle - Sweetest High by FreedomDevelopment

The Pierces - It Will Not Be Forgotten

Songs about love prevailing in the face of adversity are as old as the hills. But to gild those emotions of determination and passion defying hardship with real beauty; well, it takes a band like The Pierces to do that.

As the fourth single from The Pierces' breathtakingly good album You & I, It Will Not Be Forgotten stands as another link in the chain of consistency that has made this record such a joy to experience.

'Baby where'd you go, did you sail away over some distant ocean' sing the girls in the track's enchanting chorus - if ever music could take on the form of pure, untapped magic, then this is surely the sound of it. There's something in The Pierces' divine Abba-esque harmonies that helps transcend their songs to another level of prettiness.

It Will Not Be Forgotten positively sparkles with charm - its lush, layered production coming as sheen of comfort to senses worn rough by the ardour of everyday life. This is a song of tranquility and peace, a ballad to stand up there with the very best.

With You & I debuting straight at No. 4 in the UK albums chart, it's reassuring to see the general public finally taking to The Pierces - It's been a long journey for them, You & I being the fourth LP in a career that stretches all the way back to 2000.

Fitting then that July will see them opening for Coldplay at London's Roundhouse as part of the iTunes festival. It was Coldplay's Guy Berryman after all that put his stamp to You & I; many of the tracks being recorded in the Coldplay studio too.

It Will Not Be Forgotten is released on the 8th August.

The Saturdays cover Aloe Blac's I Need A Dollar & Mann's Buzzin' for Radio 1's Live Lounge

Wowza! It's fair to say Radio 1's Live Lounge is usually something of a mixed bag, throwing up as many dodgy cover versions as it does inspired ones.

But The Saturdays' mash-up cover of Aloe Blac's I Need A Dollar & Mann's Buzzin' was without a doubt one of the best performances I've heard on the show in its long history.

Smooth, soulful and showing off the girls' harmonies to their very best, the track sounded thoroughly professional - a genuinely excellent performance that holds proper merit in its own right.

With Una playing guitar too, they without a doubt left their individual stamp on the track.

The girls also treated us to a lovely acoustic version of their latest single Notorious and talked about *that* Twitter beef with Example as well as their December tour and Mollie's love of Wimbledon.

(You can now watch a video of the girls performing Notorious on the Radio 1 site too)

Milk Maid - Yucca

Being awarded the prestige of NME's No 1 Radar Buzz band is a good place to start for any album campaign, and for ex Nine Black Alps bassist Martin Cohen, that's exactly the position his new band Milk Maid stand in.

It's a strong position, and one the band make clear to capitalise on with their full length debut Yucca. Almost drowning in the fuzz of lo-fi production, perhaps the most surprising element is the album's tendency towards pop hooks. Lead single Not Me and the 60s inspired charm of Dead Wrong resound with a real determination, one that those hooks propels into the album's greatest strength.

For the most part, Yucca plays out to march-like beats and a thoroughly grungy, dirty guitar throb that sounds as if its being piped in from the stereo of a battered old Ford Cortina. Recorded in Cohen's flat, Yucca holds that singular aspect to it - a pure envisionment of what the band stand for. Although, clearly in this case, 'pure' means drenched in distortion.

That said, a smattering of the softer moments on the album stand out as some of the best work here - like the lovely little acoustic dittie Same As What. It's moments like this that Cohen's songwriting talents are really allowed to shine through. Precise and delicate in their trembling intimacy, these songs act as a gateway to the urban landscapes of the band's youth - the grey concrete and tarmac mass.

If anything, Yucca is an album that always reassures in its solidity - nothing is ever done in half measures. In the squealing guitar solos of Back Of Your Knees, it bludgeons its way into our senses - a physical wall of towering reverb.

And then comes the more languid, dark lyricism of Can't You See and Someone You Thought You'd Forgot - here we see the real squalor of the streets that surround us all, the tracks squeezed by the tedium and claustrophobia of modern life. Tight and compressed, rough and ready, Yucca is an album that finds new meaning in the viscerality of lo-fi.

Yucca is available to download from iTunes now.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Films Of Colour - Capital

Films Of Colour piqued my interest a while ago, debut single Actions driving up a real buzz across the radio-scape, with even the esteemed Steve Lamacq singing the band's praises.

Determined to justify the buzz, follow up track Capital is the definition of a 'stormer' if ever there was one. Bleepy video-game synths play into riotious, sprawling guitar lines remiscent of Muse. Capital is all about the scope and scale, the sheer imensity of sound being crammed into its four minute duration.

It's the kind of track you can already envision as a firm live favourite - fitting then that it's already positioned as the band's gig opener. Chaneling a dark intensity that the likes of Editors have done so well in the past, Capital makes for a powerful, pacy introduction to new converts to the band's cause.

Capital is released on the 25th July.

Let's just establish this - Britney looks HOT

With pop lovers everywhere eagerly awaiting the debut of Britney's I Wanna Go video - the third single release from her Femme Fatale album - we've been having a look at these rather stunning promotional photos doing the rounds at the moment.

This is from the same 'happy' photoshoot that was earlier revealed as the single's cover art - we have to say we far prefer this particular shot of Miss Spears. She's working the eyes, working the hair... in other words, looking totally hot.

Erasure announce Tomorrow's World album

Don't worry - it's not related to 'that' TV show in any way. But yes, the new Erasure album is called Tomorrow's World and the band announced a selection of rather exciting details regarding the new record on their website today along with a heap of North American tour dates.

The duo's first studio release since 2007's Light At The End Of The World, Tomorrow's World is due out in the Autumn and will be produced by Frankmusik. This instantly makes it amazing. Having remixed the likes of the Pet Shop Boys, Lady Gaga and Ellie Goulding, it's far to say Frankmusik has the seal of approval when it comes to working with the very best in electronic music.

The album was recorded in New York and London with keyboard whiz Vince Clarke adding an authentic touch to the record with his selection of analog synths. This is something I've always been a big fan of - Erasure's sound has always remained unmistakeably 'them' despite changing musical trends around them. There's a dinstinct bounce to Erasure tracks, a tactile responsiveness that comes from that analog quality.

The US tour dates accompanying the album release are as follows:


31 - Tampa, FL. The Ritz Ybor


2 - Orlando, FL. House of Blues / 3 - Atlanta, GA. Center Stage / 4 - Asheville, NC. Orange Peel / 6 & 7 - Washington, DC. 9:30 Club / 8 - Philadelphia, PA. Theatre of Living Arts / 10 - Boston, MA. House of Blues. 11 - Toronto, ON. Sound Academy / 13 & 14 - New York, NY. Terminal 5 / 16 - Chicago, IL. Congress Theatre / 17 - Chicago, IL. Congress Theatre / 18 - Milwaukee, WI. Pabst Theater / 20 - Indianapolis, IN. The Vogue Theatre / 21 - St. Louis, MO. The Pageant / 23 - Austin, TX. ACL Live / 24 - Houston, TX. Verizon Wirless Theatre. 25 - Dallas, TX. House of Blues / 27 - Denver, CO. Ogden Theater / 28 - Salt Lake City, UT. Kingsbury Hall / 30 - Las Vegas, NV. The Palms Concert Theater


1 - Los Angeles, CA. Hollywood Palladium / 2 - San Diego, CA. House of Blues / 4 - Oakland, CA. Fox Theatre / 5. Portland, OR. Crystal Ballroom / 6 - Seattle, WA. Neptune

New releases round-up - 20th June 2011

Soundgirl - Don't Know Why

The first single proper from fesity new threesome Soundgirl, Don't Know Why is the kind of ingenious urban-tinted pop track that everyone wishes the Sugababes were still making. These girls are ones to keep an eye on.


Parade - Perfume

One of the hottest new groups on the scene, Parade follow up debut Top 10 hit Louder with this deliciously catchy slice of R&B tinged pop.  A real summer anthem if ever there was them, Perfume feels wonderfully British, and with its chanty chorus vocals, it’s one holiday essential you definitely need to buy before jetting off on your holidays.


Hard-Fi - Good For Nothing

Hard-Fi have been away for a while - but they sure announce their return with a bang on Good For Nothing. With it's Jay-Z inspired guitar riffs and rough, angled Stone Roses delivery, it's good old-fashioned Brit-rock - we like. A lot.


Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia

Previous album The Bachelor was met with mixed reviews, but Wolf's latest effort sees a triumphant return to the pop sensibilities he showcased on The Magic Position. A new, refined, more comfortable sound sees the enigmatic musician at his very best.


Parade - Bringing the noise @ Westfield and GAY

This week sees the release of Parade's brilliant second single Perfume and to celebrate, the band took to the stage at GAY dressed as school-girls. And if that wasn't enough, they rocked up at Westfield the next day to sign copies of their new CD as well as perform again.

With brightly coloured banners trailing down from the upper levels of the shopping centre, the band delighted fans with a six-song set including Chris Brown cover Yeah X3, Louder, Perfume, Ticking On It, Rokstar and an acapella version of Lady Gaga's Born This Way.

Shoppers definitely liked what they heard, taking a break from lightening their wallets to crowd the balconies overlooking the stage while the girls performed - rapturous bouts of applause greeting every track.

With slick dance routines, killer vocals and some lovely piano from band member Bianca, the day resounded with the professionalism and fun we've come to expect from the band.

With Perfume already surging into the iTunes top 50, the track looks set to follow in the footsteps of Louder and become another smash hit for the girls.

Perfume is out now and can be downloaded from Amazon here.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Saturdays - Not That Kinda Girl

The Saturdays have a record of delivering amazing b-sides - always a sign of a truly great pop group. And Not That Kinda Girl (the b-side to Notorious) does much to continue that trend.

Grinding electro basslines and dub-step influences worked into the track too, it's a classy slice of dancefloor magic.

There's lots of flirty, teasing lyrics too - The Sats girls making it plain that they're in charge here - 'I'm gonna break your heart, tear it up cos that's the way I work' and 'No one-man-woman, I'm free to roam, I'll blow you kisses down the telephone'.

If this is a b-side, we can only speculate in awe at the kind of sheer amazingness that might be on offer on The Saturdays' new album, out later this year.

Nerina Pallot live at St. Pancras Station - The Station Sessions

Of all the places you could conceivably hold a gig, there's something undeniably charming and oh so British about having it in a station.

And at St. Pancras, you really have the creme de la creme of stations. There, in the high vaulted Eurostar terminal, the delightful Nerina Pallot's voice could truly soar, enchanting every one of the commuters rushing through.

Set up on a tiny stage with a string quartet arrayed behind her, a sizeable huddle of people grouped around, listening as she delivered a selection of tracks from her soon-to-be Top 10 album Year Of The Wolf as well as a few old favourites like Sophia.

There was a real immediacy to the gig, something we were all too readily reminded of as the station announcer boomed out over the tannoy, wittering on about left-luggage. Nerina, bless her heart, carried on, wonderfully composed and charming for the gig's entire hour long duration.

Sipping from a glass of wine, she addressed the audience in both English and French; a lovely reminder of the gateway to the European continent we were all standing in - St. Pancras International indeed.

Much as Nerina's new album is a meeting of the old and new, so to is the station itself, archaic brickwork  and iron facing up to glass and boutique snack bars. A meeting of worlds, a melting pot of countless people, and right in the middle - holding everyone's attention - Nerina herself.

'Hi restaurant people!' she announced, waving cheerily up at the diners on the balcony above the stage. At another point, she told how her track History Boys always made her emotional - so much so that she had been moved to tears earlier in the week when she performed it - yet sing it she did, and beautifully.

In this place of frantic busyness, there was there for a moment, an instant of intense personal connection. And that, in a way, is what these Station Sessions are about - the audience so close to the performers they can see the whites of their eyes. All the usual technical complexities of a gig stripped away, just quality music at its very best.

Year Of The Wolf is available to purchase now.

(Video) Friendly Fires - Hawaiian Air

I've had Friendly Fires' sublime Pala album on non-stop repeat all week, and one thing that strikes me every time I surrender to its heady rush of synths and soaring vocals, is just how 'pop' it is.

The thing is, Friendly Fires came very much from the stable of Radio 1 supported indie acts, but hearing them now, they feel infinitely more glossy, more confident, and fundamentally better because of it.

And that's never more true than on new single Hawaiian Air. A fitting follow-up to the equally catchy Live Those Days Tonight, like its predecessor, it benefits from a truly crystalline chorus; one that catches every inch of the tropical, summery kaleidoscope of emotion and colour that Pala represents.

And with adverts for the video splashed all over video service Vevo at the moment, this looks set to swiftly become another firm favourite - I'm rather envious of anyone seeing these guys live over the next few months - 2011 is without a doubt their year.

Total Football @ The Barbican

"If our plays have a common theme, you could say it is identity," says the programme for Total Football, the latest production from theatre company Ridiculusmus. And it's a theme that holds incredibly true here, Total Football acting as a wonderfully inventive commentary on modern British life.

And despite the play being called Total Football, in many ways, it is not so much a production specifically about football, but more specifically, the part the sport plays in the lives of those involved with it - right from the top executives to the humble fans. As the play puts it at one point, it brings everyone together in one big 'tribe'.

Total Football centres around the head of an Olympic committee responsible for putting together a British football team for the 2012 competition and his attempts to convey the passion of the game to his football illiterate sub-ordinate. Cue much humour over misunderstanding of the offside rule and who exactly, Wayne Rooney, is.

Fundamentally, it's a play about race, diversity, and everything in between - even finding time to cover the hapless sub-ordinate's infertility and marriage problems. Indeed, for a comedy, it's here that we see the humour at its blackest. There's a melancholy to some of the scenes that speaks for every fractious part of modern life.

On the whole though, the play remains distinctly upbeat and fast-paced - genuinely firing off a gag-a-minute. Situated in the Babican's stark Pit theatre, the audience was small but intimate; in stitches throughout the performance.

The small setting at times also lent the play the nature of a TV sketch show - the players walked on and off from a series of bright yellow doors on either side of a bland office. Everything we see takes place within these three small walls - us, the audience, acting as the fourth wall. As if to reinforce the utter normal-ness of the setting, the harsh fluorescent glow of the overhead lights flickered from time to time.

And this wasn't the only marked manipulation of light in the show - in most theatre performances, even with the lights down fully, there's still a dim ambient glow by which you can make out your immediate surroundings. But in Total Football, 'lights down' meant a complete, total, pitch black; thus allowing props to be dragged and thrown on stage in the middle of the non-stop performance.

Weighing in at 70 minutes with no interval, the speed and snappiness of the play felt very much in the vein of the football matches it dealt with. At one particularly effective moment, the lights flick on just for a few seconds, and we see a football bouncing slowly on stage - solitary and alone. It's a surprisingly chilling moment.

Total Football often seems to paint Britain as a heavily itemised culture - we see a foreign cleaner reading up on his UK citizenship test (the book is then promptly ripped up), or a football itself (at one point nearly kicked into the audience). The notion that comes across is of a material, but incredibly disposable world - it also helps to convey just how much of a 'physical' play Total Football is.

This culminates in the play's most shocking development, where the stage completely destroys itself, collapsing inwards with an immense bang, rush of air and explosion of swirling paper. It's a real visual spectacle and one that amusingly had numerous audience members crying out in surprise.

Coming at the moment where the play's two key characters lose their jobs, the aftermath of this destructive incident sees them sat under an umbrella, fishing, cans of Carling by their side. Just with football itself, this image becomes another utterly British representation of life. But instead of the cause for celebration and togetherness the two executives are so keen for the Great British football team to symbolise, the two men are now left completely alone and desolate.

"Are you laughing or crying? I can't tell" says one, reaching out his fishing pole to prod his colleague's shoulder. Turning to face him, the other replies "Did you just try to comfort me with a fishing rod?" - These lines make for an incredibly touching yet altogether bleak ending to the play, a perfect summary of the awkwardness the British individual is so often characterised as possessing.

As the two men speculate over the apparent benefits of lobotomising themselves so they can't comprehend the future, it is left with us, the audience to look forward to 2012, and all that it might hold for Britain. Total Football stands as a wonderfully funny and thoroughly modern stance on what exactly 'Britishness' is - and all this from a cast of precisely two men, Jon Haynes and David Woods.

Indeed, it is their capacity to embody a multitude of diverse characters from which so much of the enjoyment here stems from. A play of identity, but also one of the differences that separate each and every one of us as individuals, Total Football is an exciting, thought-provoking slice of contemporary drama.