Friday, 30 September 2011

Lady Antebellum - Own The Night

Own The Night was released in the US last week to staggering sales figures - 347,000 copies in one week. Wow! When you remember that the group have six Grammy awards under their belt though, the hype and acclaim around them seems completely justified.

We Owned The Night is surprisingly upbeat for such a sombre title - a real jumpy, springy track. It's good to see the band kicking the album off with a proper upbeat number the first of many signs that this is a band unwilling to sit on their laurels.

Even by second track Just A Kiss you can tell Own The Night is an infinitinely more confident, well-rounded affair than Need You Now was. The production is big, glossy - but doesn't ever cheapen their sound. The tracks still feel authentic, genuine. If anything, this new, slicker Lady Antebellum seems in a better position to put out epic ballads like this. The guitar work sounds a lot cleaner, and the strings are applied liberally across the LP.

On the whole, the album feels like its moved the band closer to pop sensibilities and further from their country roots. They've not concreted over the country sound, merely re-rendered it under a pop paint job. It's in achieving the right balance that affirms Own The Night's quality as a consistent body of work.

Every track is suffused by a buoyed up, cinematic portrayal of romance it - of course, if you go to buy a Lady Antebellum CD, chances are that's probably what you want/expect. One thing that does come as a surprise is Friday Night; a sprightly, Bon Jovi-esque bit of 'real rock'.

When You Were Mine is the real highlight of the album and also sees it at its most pop. It's the kind of track UK girl-group Wonderland would have killed for to have on their album (they who covered Need You Now and were set to release it as a single before they were swiftly axed by their label).

The funky groove and rosy, full-bodied choruses of Singing Me Home almost verges into Beautiful South territory while Wanted You More is the album at its most epic and cinematic, but also its most experimental, with lovely little piano flourishes. As the record comes to a close, we see an impression of a band clearly not content to merely wheel out twelve tracks of identical crowd-pleasers, there is a real sense of ambition.

It's time for the UK to wake up to just how good Lady Antebellum are.

Own The Night is released on the 3rd October and can be pre-ordered here.

Trailer Trash Tracys - Wish You Were Red / Engelhardt's Arizona

For London four piece Trailer Trash Tracys, their new double A side single is a two-in-one chance to show exactly what they're all about.

First up, Wish You Were Red: big metallic slabs of guitar recall post-punk's glory days and the song's vocals echo out, diembodied and atmospheric. It's slow, methodic stuff, but always involving. As the band pick out a low-fi guitar solo, you have a clear image of the sound they want to create - it's almost half art installation in its gritty, expansive blankness.

Of the two tracks, Engelhardt's Arizona is definitely the better - here, the guitars are pushed through the effects filter, transforming them into a kind of quasi-synth. The bass pulls in all directions, underpinning a mirage-like wash of psychadelic sound. The band seem more at home here, lost in their dizzying maze of sonic experimentation.

The band release their debut album in January on Double Six/Domino records.

Wish You Were Red / Engelhardt's Arizona is released on the 31st October

Trailer Trash Tracys - Engelhardt's Arizona by DominoRecordCo

Benjamin Francis Leftwich - Shine

When it comes to a glorious one-two of folky campfire tunes to warm the soul, you don't get much better than Benjamin Francis Leftwich and his singles Shine and Atlas Hands.

Shine bases its foundations on spidery, uber-precise guitar playing; it's a real musicians song yet also manages to boast the most radio-friendly of choruses. It feels airy and fresh, like that unbeatable feeling of an ice cold drink on a sweltering summer's day (perfect for this week then!)

Leftwich's tracks are short, both Shine and Atlas Hands clock in at under three minutes, but what this allows is a more intense connection with the listener - that esteemed quality of making it seem like Leftwich is singing to you, and only you.

There's a gorgeous bit of personal poetry going in Atlas Hands,  'I will remember your face, because I'm still in love with that place. When the stars are the only things we share, you'd be there'.

Now, if that doesn't win someone round romantically, I don't know what will. Atlas Hands feels beautiful tender and heartfelt - so often singer-songwriters go big on the bluster and big, dumb cliches to hammer their message home, Leftwich just leans back and lets his honest feelings do the talking.

Shine is released on the 7th November.

Benjamin Francis Leftwich - Shine by Dirty Hit

Lady Gaga to give Marry The Night single release

In another case of a popstar going for a baffling single choice, Lady Gaga has announced that Marry The Night will be the next single to be taken from her Born This Way album.

Personally, I'd have much preferred the brilliant Hair or Schiebe. Marry The Night is in many ways just an Edge Of Glory pt. 2 - an extension of the same amped up American Springsteen pop throwback Gaga seems head over heels in love with at the moment.

With its twinkly synths and machine-like beats, it seems a little formulaic from the woman that's continually portrayed as the saviour of pop. Whereas something like Schiebe feels genuinely innovative, Marry The Night just feels like she's treading water.

In other news, Gaga is releasing a  USB edition of Born This Way. I bought a USB edition of Kylie's X album a few years ago and they are pretty nifty little things, certainly a worthy little nic-nac to add to anyone's music collection. You can order your copy from Gaga's official store here.

The Saturdays, On Your Radar with new single My Heart Takes Over

8.15 yesterday morning saw the lovely Mollie King taking to Radio 1 to premiere the eagerly awaited new Saturdays single. An early start, but totally worth it - My Heart Takes Over is a gorgeous, wintery mid-tempo ballad.

It's the kind of single that a lot of fans felt the band needed, the kind of track that could land them that all important X Factor performance slot, and maybe, just possibly, that Number One that they've been aiming at for so long. They certainly deserve one after all the work they've put in over the past few years.

The track taps into that kind of Bruno Mars, beat centric vein of balladry, adding in an epic chorus and my personal favourite bit of the song: Rochelle's vocodered middle-eight part which seems to positively float on the swooshing backing synths. Properly gorgeous.

What's more, we now know that The Saturdays new album will be called On Your Radar, after Una's brilliant outro lines in previous single All Fired Up. We know we'll certainly be keeping the Sats girls on our radar. The album sounds like it will be bursting with top pop tunes; there's a collab with Travie McCoy and producers include Space Cowboy, Steve Mac, Brian Higgins and David Eriksen.

My Heart Takes Over is released on the 13th November, with On Your Radar following the next week on the 21st November.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

IC1s - Levitate

If you're of a certain age, the music of The Libertines and Dirty Pretty Things will without a doubt be part of the soundtrack of your youth. And that's a fact, whether you were an indie kid or a pop lover, avoiding the indelible melodies of their radio hits was pretty much impossible - the hooks of these songs are ingrained into your past as much as school and college.

These days, drummer Gary Powell - of above bands, has branched out into exciting new projects. There's inventive DJ duo London Guns, and also his record label 25 Hour Convenience Store.

It's on this label that we find the new release from the IC1s - Levitate is a powerful, gritty guitar track that harks back to the glory days of Brit-pop. It feels traditional in a wonderfully nostalgic sense, but also packs that contemporary edge, the drive to keep it afloat in the waters of the current music scene.

Levitate is available to download now.

Frixion - Under The Influence

When it comes to launching your new single, racking up 150,000+ hits on YouTube is a good indicator that things are heading in the right direction. Boy-band Frixion bring a fun blend of radio-friendly pop and glossy suited and booted looks with their track Under The Influence, they've got a nice throwback feel to the pop groups of old too.

After all, with JLS, One Direction and The Wanted all grabbing Number One records this year, boy-bands seem to be the real flavour of the moment. And you'd want a piece of the action, wouldn't you?

The band - comprised of Neil, Johnny and David - can add a heap of impressive support slots to their credentials; they've previously opened for the likes of Jessie J, Tinchy Stryder, N Dubz and Olly Murs among others.

Under The Influence seems to fit effortlessly amongst the tunes of these contemporaries - it checks all the boxes, riding on a fizzy mix of treated vocals and clubby beats. The single cover presents an urban, aspirational image to match their sound too - iconic London landmarks and a flashy car, the city that awaits their arrival - the single, the gateway to future success.

Under The Influence is released on the 10th October.

The Saturdays reveal My Heart Takes Over single cover!

Exciting pop news alert! The title of the new The Saturdays single has been confirmed as My Heart Takes Over - just look at the gorgeous cover art above! The girls are all in white striking identical poses - a striking image for what we are sure is another bit of pop brilliance from the girls.

The song gets its first play on Radio 1 at 8.15 tomorrow morning, no excuses for not listening! - the CD release of the track comes accompanied by new b-side So Sorry!

Rochelle had this to say of the track:

"Shooting our new video this week...:)  haha...SO EXCITED for you guys to see/hear its a power ballad yayyyyyyyyyyy...."

Beyonce - Countdown

We all know how monumentally successful Beyonce's Single Ladies turned out to be, and with Countdown - the third single from B's new album - she tries to recreate a little of that magic.

Countdown taps into all the same beat-heavy foundations that Single Ladies does but switches out the heavy synths for a more brass-powered feel. Big horn stabs punctuate the track, as do a number of actual 'countdowns'.

Personally, I'd rather have seen the brilliant End Of Time released as the next single, or the epic 1+1 finally getting a proper single release. But pop music is littered with baffling single choices like these, although perhaps nothing quite as baffling as one of the lyrics in Countdown: 'grind the pony girl'

Countdown is released on the 30th October.

Fenech Soler release Golden Sun as free download

In need of a Wednesday fix of all round synth goodness? Fenech Soler are giving away their rather brilliant track Golden Sun on NME's website here.

The song originally featured on the band's self-titled debut album, released last year. It's a far cry from the more laid-back vibes of the beautiful Stop and Stare, instead opting for filthy electro bass and fast hooks.

The band play London's iconic KOKO tonight (28th September)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Dappy announces exclusive fan tour pre-sale

Everyone's loving a bit of N-Dubz's Dappy at the moment. Just as his bandmate Tulisa is riding high on the X Factor, Dappy himself has nabbed himself a Number One record with No Regrets. Hurrah!

Tickets for his upcoming December tour go on sale tomorrow (28th September) at 9am, so if you want to book some, better set that alarm clock!

The tour dates are as follows:

December 2011

09 Norwich, UEA
10 Birmingham, Institute
11 Manchester, Academy
12 Sheffield, Plug
13 Liverpool, O2 Academy
15 Glasgow, ABC
16 Bristol, O2 Academy
17 Oxford, O2 Academy
18 Cambridge, Junction
19 London, Indigo2

Lisa Hannigan announces tour dates for Passenger album

How do you go about following up a platinum-selling, Mercury nominated album? Well, if single Knots is anything to go by, Lisa Hannigan's new album should put all sophomore record fears away for good.

Knots is brilliant in a dark, folky, seductive kind of way, with a compelling, stylish video to match. Hannigan is the kind of artist that really knows the key to pairing a sense of art and music together, something that feeds through to every aspect of her persona as a singer.

Her upcoming tour dates are as follows:

November 19                   Birmingham                      St Pauls
November 20                   Norwich                              Arts Centre
November 21                   York                                      Duchess
November 23                   Glasgow                              Oran Mor
November 25                   Salford                                 St Phillips Church
November 27                   Bristol                                  St Georges
November 28                   Brighton                              Komedia
November 30             London                                Shepherds Bush Empire

New album Passenger is released on the 10th October and can be pre-ordered here.

Wonderland release break-up statement

We all kind of knew it had happened, but that doesn't stop it being a sad day for fans of girl-group Wonderland.

The band released this statement on their official Facebook page earlier today:

Dear Wonderland Army, Firstly we would like to say sorry you haven't heard from us in a while. As some of you may know already we have parted ways with Mercury Records. We have taken the past few weeks to consider our future as a band. After a lot of thinking and talking we have decided that we will no longer continue as Wonderland. We feel we have given it all we have and we could not take it any further. We want to say a massive thank you to all our fans for the love and support they have shown us over the 3 years we have been together. We really feel we had an amazing time and it will be something we remember for the rest of our lives. Thank you all once again, All our love, Wonderland

Charlie Simpson to release Cemetery as new single

70,000 downloads in one week - an impressive figure for Charlie Simpson's Cemetery when it received the honour of being chosen as iTunes' single of the week.

As one of the standout tracks from his debut solo album Young Pilgrim, the singer is now giving the track a full release; accompanied by a selection of new material.
The full tracklisting is as follows:

1. Cemetery (Radio Edit)
2. Cemetery (Acoustic)
3. Re-Stacks (Bon Iver cover)
4. When We Were Lions (Acoustic Re-mix)
5. (I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight (Radio 2 Session)

Two brilliant choices of cover song and an acoustic version, something the rustic, farm-boy feel of Cemetery lends itself to very well.

Next week marks a number of exciting chances to catch Charlie live: ITV2 will be broadcasting footage of his performance at the Digital Music Awards at 10pm on the 3rd October. And if you fancy getting up close and personal, he's playing St Pancras Station at 6.30pm on the 6th.

Charlie hits the road soon too with his UK tour:

September 28th London - Oxjam 2011 
October 19th  Bristol - Ansom Rooms 
October 20th Wolverhampton - Slade Rooms 
October 21st Norwich - Waterfront 
October 23rd   Glasgow - Garage 
October 24th Leeds - Cockpit 
October 26th Manchester - Academy 2 
October 27th London - Islington Academy 
October 28th Brighton - Concorde 2

Cemetery is released on the 31st October.

Tom Moriarty - Life's A Mystery

You wouldn't catch many people ditching a high flying central London City job to try their luck in the increasingly fickle music industry, but that's exactly what singer-songwriter Tom Moriarty did. A braver man than most, then.

His dramatic change of career is ingrained in new single Life's A Mystery, the video showing Moriarty attired in leathers and long hair - a fitting look for his gravelly vocals. There's something of the old rock greats - Paul Weller and Steve Winwood - to his voice, and it lends a touching authenticity to his music.

Life's A Mystery has been picking up praise across the board with Radio 2 and Guitarist magazine in particular singing its praises. Indeed, BBC London's Robert Elms went as far as to call Moriarty a 'pearl amongst oysters', and there's definitely that notion of having stumbled across a real hidden talent on first hearing the singer's record.

In an age of chart hits dripping in an overload of gloss and production sheen, Moriarty offers an impressive stripped-back alternative.

Life's A Mystery is out now and is available to download from Amazon here.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Will Young - Come On

Sometimes, an artist will just get it bang on the money with their next single choice. This is the case for Mr. Will Young, who's gone for his delightful cover of Kish Mauve's Come On as the follow up to Jealousy.

Half of Will's album Echoes is penned by the electro-pop group (who, if you remember, also gave us Kylie Minogue's brilliant 2 Hearts) and just with Jealousy, there's both the instant appeal of the song's hooks, but also a kind of gradual dawning of just how beautiful and true the lyrics really are.

With his Echoes album, Will has hit on the real sentiment that lies at the heart of each and every one of us.

As Come On launches into its chorus, the song feels like its been locked up in Will's heart ever since he won Pop Idol - it positively bursts out from him, full of emotion and some rather nice vocodered ad libs (note to George Michael, this is what your cover of True Faith should have sounded like)

Take That hit their stride when they turned to dreamy synth-pop, and so too has Will Young. There's much to be said to pairing a voice as soulful and relaxed as Will's to the futuristic electro-scapes that populate his album. There's a crisp, crystalline quality to the production that exudes such luxury, you get a real sense of both the song and album being a real 'premium' product.

Come On is released on the 21st November.

(Video) Kelly Clarkson - Mr. Know It All

When it comes to Kelly Clarkson, most of us know her for her jaw-droppingly amazing anthems Since U Been Gone and My Life Would Suck Without You. You know, those amazing up-tempo stormers that everyone seems to love, even if they're the kind of kid that wears skinny jeans every day and usually listens to the Arctic Monkeys.

Kelly Clarkson has made a career out of sewing together a great voice, great looks and a formidable blend of pop and rock - her tracks - apart from that shaky blip when she went all emo - have by and large continued the large wealth of public affection for the star where many of her contemporaries have slipped away into obscurity.

New single Mr. Know It All steps things down a notch, keeping things moving at a nice little mid-tempo stroll as opposed to the full-throttle sprint of her past chart hits. What it does highlight though is the importance of a great melody, one which is allowed to really shine through in the track's simplicity.

'You don't know a thing about me...' sings Kelly in the track's chorus - well, there's one thing that we do know, that this is another brilliant pop song from Miss Clarkson.

Mr. Know It All is released on the 23rd October. Kelly's new album Strong is available to pre-order here.

Francis Pope - Turnout

Hoxton lad Francis Pope is packing quite a punch on his new single Turnout, the track is bursting with tight raps, big bass and lots of attitude.

The song features as the title track to the movie of the same name, out on DVD now. The film also features Plan B himself, Ben Drew, following up on previous film appearances in the likes of Adulthood and Harry Brown.

Francis Pope spent his formative years dueling in school-yard rap battles, and there's much of that rough and ready bite present in his music. His EP Don't Sweat The Small Stuff is released in November and takes an active stance against the Hoxton hipsters that now populate Pope's home turf.

The Turnout DVD can be purchased on Amazon here.

(Preview) Erasure - Tomorrow's World

Courtesy of the lovely people at the Guardian, we're now all able to listen to a stream of Erasure's new album in its entirety! First impressions? It's really very good.

When I heard debut single When I Start To Break It All Down, I was skeptical. It seemed overly bouncy, lacking in the complexity and skill that normally makes Erasure singles such a joy to listen to. It felt cheery and happy, sure, but that classic Erasure dynamism and spark didn't seem quite there.

My fears were allayed immediately on listening to the first few tracks of Tomorrow's World though. Indeed, When I Start seems to stand on it's own, half-way through the album. The other tracks feel far more like what you might expect Erasure would be making at this point in their career - it's brilliantly crafted synth-pop of the highest order.

In many ways, it's a real natural progression from their previous album, Light At The End Of The World, but with a more clinical, precise sheen - that's down to Frankmusik's involvement as producer.

His influence on the album comes to a peak in the sublime A Whole Lotta Love Run Riot - it's the duo's most fanatically up-tempo disco number in ages. Pairing Erasure's experience and passion with Frankmusik's modern sensibilities meets its perfect match here, and what's more, there are a good deal more tracks in this vein on the album too - Then I Go Twisting is another standout.

When it comes to making great pop music, Erasure have rarely disappointed, and Tomorrow's World undoubtedly stands as another accomplished effort in their immense back catalogue. Sonically, it's got everything you'd want from an Erasure album, but most crucially, it has that new edge - the new body-work trim on a flash sportscar - that keeps things interesting.

Tomorrow's World is released on the 3rd October and can be pre-ordered here.

Listen to the album stream HERE.

Patrick Wolf heads out on Autumn tour

Here at TotallyVivid, we loved Patrick Wolf's single House, which the immensely talented singer-songwriter released earlier this year.

It heralded in a new wave of praise and enthusiasm for the man who so many felt deserved far more recognition for what he was doing.

With his latest album Lupercalia breaching the Top 40 and being received with pretty much universal praise, Wolf has a lot to be happy about. He heads out on tour this October and November:

Sat 22nd Edinburgh Liquid Room
Sun 23rd          Speakeasy, Belfast
Mon 24th          Academy, Dublin
Wed 26th         Manchester Ritz  
Thu 27th              Leeds Cockpit  
Fri 28th             Sheffield Foundry  
Sun 30th          Cardiff Millennium Music Hall  
Mon 31st           Oxford O2 Academy 2  
Tue 1st    Bournemouth The Old Firestation  
Thurs 3rd         Brighton Komedia  
Fri 4th               London Roundhouse

Pixie Lott - What Do You Take Me For (feat. Pusha T)

As I discussed in a previous blog entry, when Pixie Lott wants to be really good, she can be so good. But unfortunately, her new single What Do You Take Me For is not one of those moments.

The general feeling is that it's the sound of a popstar running out of steam before they've even really got going - Pixie's debut album was littered with genuine pop gems, but this new single does not sound like the kind of thing she should be pushing as the lead-in single to front a new album.

In this hyper competitive age, it's just not good enough. Pixie casts off the dancing shoes she so eagerly donned on All About Tonight and takes a turn down the R&B route, even including that all time favourite gimmick; the featured rapper. In this instance, Pusha T (he featured on Kanye West's latest album).

What Do You Take Me For sounds dated, like something off Natasha Bedingfield's first album. That might have been all very well and good in 2005, but hearing Pixie's track on the radio now, it feels slow, ungainly.

When I first heard All About Tonight, I was equally unimpressed - although the track did grow on me eventually, albeit only when I heard the gorgeous acoustic version. Maybe that'll be the trick here too?

What Do You Take Me For is released on the 6th November. Pixie's new album Young Foolish Happy can be pre-ordered here.

(Video) Dionne Bromfield - Ouch

You've got to admire Dionne Bromfield - despite everything that's happened over the past few months with Amy Winehouse, she's soldiering on with her album campaign, gearing up to release new single Ouch in conjunction with new movie Demons Never Die.

The film boasts an interesting cast list, starring the likes of Luther actor Idris Elba as well as X Factor judge Tulisa.

Ouch always was one of the highlights of Dionne's youthful, energetic collection of retro-pop, Good For The Soul, and it's great to see the singer getting out there again, doing her thing. If anything, pop needs a star like Dionne to bring together the young and old in mutual appreciation of a great talent.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Sugababes - Freedom

How time can change your views on a song... When I first heard the Sugababes' Freedom ages ago, a little snippet of it soundtracking a Nokia advert, I thought it was lazy, tacky; a quick jumping on the dubstep bandwagon.

But seeing the 'babes play the track live at Sainsbury's Super Saturday, sandwiched as it was amongst the band's unparralled pop back catalogue, it felt like it deserved its place there. Like quite a few other tracks, it's one of those songs that needs to be heard in a live setting to be appreciated for all it is. The chorus is every bit as epic as you'd hope for from a Sugababes single, and seems almost even more poignant now that Freedom looks like it might be the beginning of the end for the group.

'So raise your hand, one fist in the air' - could you have any better anthem to standing strong against adversity? And against all odds, the Sugababes are still here. Say what you will about Freedom being released as a free download to avoid the shame of a poor chart placing, but that doesn't take away from the track's quality. Freedom might be playing to the most simple of formulas, but My God has it been done well.

Even the single cover seems steeped in the kind of tired sadness of a band that has gone through so many changes, so many twists and turns in the spotlights of the media gaze. It's there in their eyes.

As for the dubstep breakdown? Is it an attempt to claw out some credibility and 'hit' potential from the current musical trends? Perhaps, but what seemed at first rather tacky now just sounds like a dance breakdown that's an awful lot of fun. And sometimes that's all you need. Because not only is Freedom a fantastic pop song, but it's a reminder of every moment, every instant when the Sugababes confirmed their position as one of the best pop groups around.

You can download Freedom for free on Amazon now.

The Overtones - Second Last Chance

The Overtones are an odd group to pigeon-hole. On one hand the male vocal group have a kind of classy, retro-tinged adult pop sheen to them; a band with a sleek image sure to fire them straight into the hearts of housewives across the country.

But on the other hand, they feel far more in line with boybands of ten years ago, slotting neatly alongside your Blue's and your Westlife's.

Their new single Second Last Chance - one of three new songs from the platinum edition of their debut album - is the epitome of this. The chorus is spot on; a classic, instant pop hook accompanied by nice little harmonies - the trouble is that it sounds dated, and not in a good way.

The production feels cheap and tacky, all karaoke track instruments - cheap organs, cheap brass. It's a kind of ready-made boyband pop for the ITV reality show generation. Fitting then, that the group have previously served as the house band on ITV's Dancing On Ice.

Superficial presentation aside though, Second Last Chance is a satisfactory stab at a solid retro pop track; which of course seem to have become all the rage of late. Girls Aloud's The Promise, Adele's Rolling In The Deep - all have previously mined deep the sounds and trends of the past.

Second Last Chance is released on the 10th October - The platinum version of Good Ol' Fashioned Love is released a week later and can be pre-ordered here.

Parade cover Ed Sheeran's 'The A Team'!

You can always count on the Parade girls to turn out a great little acoustic cover version of some of the biggest chart hits around at the moment. Carefree, laid-back, gorgeous harmonies - these are the essential ingredients of a Parade cover.

So, this time we see the girls sitting down in a park with their guitarist, with the remains of what looks like a picnic around them (plus some rather nice cushions) - their cover of choice this time? Ed Sheeran's The A Team.

Now, I'll be the first to admit I'm not a big fan of Ed Sheeran - in particular this track - but Parade's cover is absolutely gorgeous, one of their best versions to date. The song is one of those that seems to inherently benefit from a female vocal and the nice little adlibs and harmonies just seem to bring out a real tenderness in the track.

Beautiful stuff as always girls!

Sarah Blasko - Cinema Songs / Xanadu

Aussie singer Sarah Blasko has hit on something of a goldmine with her new EP Cinema Songs - transforming classic movie soundtrack hits into delicate, folky piano ballads, she's managed to create something of real beauty and worth in the process.

Speaking of what inspired her to go about this project, Blasko says 'These are some of my favourite songs from musicals and films. Some less 'cool' than others, I'm afraid, but I love them all the same'.

And there lies the real warmth and depth of this EP - this is an intensely personal selection, driven by all the same impulses of when we might carefully handpick a playlist for a friend. Also, the re-envisioning of the tracks creates a levelling of the field, and this scattered collection of tracks from across time and cinema feels like a genuine whole.

Indeed, the title Cinema Songs seems particularly apt - these versions feel almost more filmic than the originals - but maybe that says more about the current taste for this kind of stripped back cover version on TV ads.

Blasko's voice is like a rosier, more full-bodied Ellie Goulding - perfect for the coming Autumn months. Xanadu is the definite highlight of the EP and is being released as single, having already recieved airplay from the likes of Radio 2.

Cinema Songs is released on the 3rd October.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Why we love FasionistA's new The Saturdays Magnetism Nail Lacquer!

So, as London Fashion Week winds down and the UK capital returns to its usual self, there's one super-cool product that's caught our eye amongst all the other goings-on in the blog coverage of the week.

Chances are, you're wondering what magnets have got to do with nail polish - well, allow us to explain. Here's how the product works:

1. You start by shaking the bottle of polish to activate the magnetic qualities.

2. Next, apply one layer of the varnish to your nails and allow it to dry. Then apply a second layer.

3. Hover the special Nail Magnet over your nails (about 8 seconds each should do) while the lacquer is still wet. Be careful not to touch your nails with the magnet!

4. Admire the gorgeous results!

The Magnetism Nail Lacquer is priced at £6 per bottle, the Nail Magnet costs £3. The range launches in October and we think the Magnetised style will be a real trend this year!

Check out the video below for more info on just how this exciting new beauty product works:

Friday, 23 September 2011

The Saturdays official annual - Coming soon!

How brilliant is this, an actual The Saturdays annual!

Now, I don't know about you, but we always bought annuals every year and absolutely loved them. And then, when we worked in a shop and had to put them out on the shelves, we loved looking at them all then too.

There's just something about an annual dedicated to your favourite popstar/sports team etc. that brings out the real inner fan in you - oh, and they make great stocking-filler presents too!

We can't wait to see what's inside The Saturdays one!

The Saturdays Official Annual 2012 is published by Century Books and is available to buy now!

Monarchy - You Don’t Want to Dance With Me (feat. Britt Love)

Sleek, sultry, stylish - Monarchy's latest video is the perfect fit for its accompanying track. After the hip electro-pop duo hitched up with former Mini Viva girl Britt Love for Lovebox Festival earlier this year, they've combined forces again on You Don't Want To Dance With Me, and the results are rather special.

Clinical and clean in the precision of its hummed vocals and slow, methodic groove, the song taps with ease into a rich seam of funky groove. YDWTDWM is the post-club come-down, the soundtrack to that moment when the lights go down and the night slips away.

In the world of pop, matching style with substance has always been a tricky game, but here Monarchy have it spot on. And above all, it's just great to have new material from Britt - we saw her live at the Hoxton Pony a few months ago and her solo material is shaping up to be absolutely brilliant.

If you're liking what you're hearing, make sure you grab the free download of the Bondax Remix of the track here.

You Don't Want To Dance With Me is released on the 24th October.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Amity Affliction to tour this Autumn

When someone says to you 'Australia' and 'rock band', you'd be inclined to think first of those legends, AC/DC. But there's a bunch of new kids making waves on the scene, and they go by the name of The Amity Affliction.

Signed to Roadrunner Records, their album Youngbloods has already gone Top 10 in their home country of Australia. It's released over here in the UK on the 24th October.

Speaking about their new deal, frontman Joel Birch said: "Signing to Roadrunner worldwide is almost beyond a dream come true, because there's no way any of us would have ever dreamed of being able to achieve something this monumental."

You can catch the band on tour supporting Funeral For A Friend on these dates:

22-Oct              London @ Facedown
23-Oct              Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall
24-Oct              Glasgow QMU
25-Oct              Newcastle Academy  
27-Oct              Nottingham Rock City
28-Oct              Manchester Academy
29-Oct              Bristol Academy
30-Oct              London Roundhouse

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Nicola Roberts performs Metronomy collab 'I' exclusively for NME

Could Nicola Roberts get any more amazing? She's been charming the nation this week with a host of TV appearances and interviews, yet she's still  found time to give us fans this brilliant live performance of I (surely the shortest track name ever, right?)

I is the first of two Metronomy collabs Nicola recorded for her album Cinderella's Eyes, which we reviewed yesterday.

Nicola looks like she's having an awesome time singing the track and she even slips a cheeky swear word into the track. Feisty!

You can watch Nicola's live performance of the track HERE.

Sunday Girl - Love U More

It's been quite a week for Sunday Girl fans - first we get her brilliant collab with Martin Solveig, and now her long awaited next single-proper, the follow-up to the sublime Stop Hey.

New track Love U More is a cover of Sunscreem's 1992 dance hit. Steps even had a bash at the track...

Sunday Girl's version is of course, very good - it's the kind of super-uplifting trance number that hardened club fanatic's dream over when they think back to the golden days of their youth. Jade's voice suits the track perfectly, she's got the gift of that wonderful hushed, sultry quality to her vocals.

Could this be the song to finally push Sunday Girl to the masses? We certainly hope so! The UK's been crying out for a big, proper homegrown club hit like this amidst all the US indentikit productions of late.

Love U More is released on the 30th October.

Sunday Girl - Love U More by Sunday Girl

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Matt Cardle - Letters [Album Previews]

As is the norm for X Factor winners these days, Matt Cardle has wisely taken a year out to record his debut album, and now we have our first taste of what it all sounds like, courtesy of iTunes.

Part of me had been previously inclined to think that album would be a lot rockier than Matt's 'taster' winner's single When We Collide, but the truth is that everything else on the record fits neatly alongside it.

The closest comparison is of course Take That - after all, Matt worked with TT head-honcho Gary Barlow himself on Run For Your Life. It's solid, dependable pop - track after track. And while it may be a little more earnest and weighty than previous X Factor branded material, it still falls chiefly into the category of glossed up Christmassy ballads.

What it sounds like Matt has tried to do here is - track by track - reference as many of his contemporaries  as possible: Stereophonics (All For Nothing), Keane (Stars & Lovers), James Blunt (Amazing), James Morrison (Faithless) - Matt turns his hand to turning out his best impressions of all of them. The emphasis seems forever on the creation of a 'big' sound, tear-jerking ballads that allow Matt to put across that grittier side of his voice that served to make him a favourite on the show last year.

Of course, the danger is that so much of the album sounds too similar. Put through the filter or Matt himself, all those influences and contemporaries merge into one anonymous wedge of sound. The album might be consistent, but it also falls prey of having too few standout moments.

That's not to say it has none though - Starlight makes for a strong opening to the album, a kind of Rule The World style bit of epic emotion-tugging pop. Surely a future single.

Beat of a Breaking Heart is the only true highlight though, and also the only genuinely individual moment on the album. Here, Matt finally sounds like he's doing his own thing. It's a gorgeous, minimalist ballad - orchestral strings swelling to a cinematic crescendo.

More like this in the future please Matt!

Letters is available to pre-order on iTunes now.