Monday, 31 October 2011

Leona Lewis launches Talenthouse stage outfit competition


Imagine you’re a budding young fashion designer. Now imagine global megastar wearing a jaw-droppingly gorgeous dress that you’ve designed, stepping out onto a stage, the comically overblown classical refrain of X Factor ‘drama’ music playing out.

This is not just a fantasy – for one lucky winner, it could be stone cold reality. Leona will personally handpick the winning design and wear it for an upcoming promotional performance. If we were entering this competition, our nerves would be jangling with tension already.

Designs must be submitted by November 17th and the winner will be announced on the 1st December.

Oh, and just remember, the designs must be ‘animal friendly’ – when it comes to Leona, no-one wants a repeat of Harrods-gate on their hands…

Football, etc announce December tour & album release


The prospect of music inspired by football sounds pretty intriguing to us – I mean, where would we be without New Order’s World in Motion?

But 90s pop classics aside, US band Football, etc have clearly taken to the subject matter with aplomb, even naming themselves after the game (though in their case it’s the American variety, but we’ll forgive them that.)

Football, etc purvey an angular, metallic brand of rock with the added bite of an empowered female vocal line. It's the stuff of dark underground indie nights and college radio, with throwbacks to early Strokes.

The band’s debut album The Draft is available on Amazon now.

Their UK tour dates are as follows:
Dec. 28, 2011 Ipswich @ The Swan
Dec. 29, 2011 Manchester @ The Castle Hotel          
Dec. 30, 2011 Dundee @ Kage                            
Dec. 31, 2011 Edinburgh @ Banshee Labyrinth                   
Jan. 2, 2012 Leeds @ Fox and Newt                            
Jan. 3, 2012 Nottingham @ J.T Soar                           
Jan. 4, 2011 Swansea @ Mozarts                                              
Jan. 5, 2011 Exeter @ The Cavern                               
Jan. 6, 2011 Kingston @ Fighting Cocks                     
Jan. 7, 2011 Brighton @ The Albert

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Nero - Reaching Out


Up til now, Nero's sound has been thoroughly rooted in the present, helping to usher in dub-step as a genuine part of the mainstream - but with Reaching Out, they strike out on a tangent; working in acidy early 90s house sounds and switch things up with a male vocal.

At times, this potent cocktail veers towards Pendulum's brand of uber-dance, all engorged bass and glamorous sheen - for the most part though, Nero continue to do what they've been doing so well for the past few months, that is, confidence in simplicity.

After all, with the eternally popular Guetta-formula of clubland tracks looming ever-present in the charts, the relative clear-cut, more analogue sounds of Nero have a refreshing sprightliness to them. That skyscraper-szied synth riff in Me & You? Sometimes that's all you need.

Reaching Out is released on the 26th December.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Nicola Roberts - Beat of My Drum (Rock Version)


One of my favourite things about music is that sometimes, out of the blue, a track is just given a completely new lease of life - this is one of those occasions.

I've had Nicola's Beat of My Drum on my iPod pretty much all summer now, but hearing this rock version of it makes me want to knock it out on repeat all over again. In short, it's the song you already know and love, but with a load of noisy guitars shoved on top.

If you thought the original was just that little bit too short, listen up - this version is four minutes long! The mid-song break-down is extended, and considering that was one of the best bits of the original, this is obviously all kinds of amazing.

For me, Beat of My Drum kind of always had it in it for this kind of take on it - it's powerful, it's out-there, it's the kind of track you yell out at the top of your voice; whether that be at a festival, a club, or just in your bed-room. It's an outpouring of emotion, a catharsis, a purging of every angst and bad feeling that's playing on your mind that day.

Basically, Nicola + guitars = one hell of a rocking track. We like this a lot.

One Direction - Gotta Be You


Let's lay the cards on the table: One Direction love a bit of innuendo.

Right down to their band-name (who hasn't let out a cheeky LOL at Wand Erection...), the lads can't seem to escape some naughty euphemisms, and their latest single Gotta Be You takes things to new extremes.

'What a mess I made on your innocence' - This is an actual lyric in a pop song! They're pretty much talking about spunking all over a girl! Deary me!

All jokes aside though, the song is pretty decent. Previous single What Makes You Beautiful was a breezey throwback to 60s pop, riffing on the likes of the Monkees for a classic feel-good vibe. Try as you might to resist its charms, you ended up loving it regardless. And My God, talk about universal appeal - I was in a club a couple of weeks ago and the twenty-something students in there went absolutely bonkers for it.

Gotta Be You couldn't be further away from all this - it's dripping in new-found 'maturity' and sees One Direction sidling up alongside The Wanted for a bit of their cake. Close your eyes and you'd be forgiven for thinking this was actually a Wanted single - it's packing more string sections than All Time Low and ends up sounding like a bizarre medley of a Blue album track and The Verve's Bittersweet Symphony.

Personally, we still can't get over the cheekiness of that 'innocence' line - but rest assured, this is bound to be another massive No. 1 for the One Direction boys.

Gotta Be You is released on the 14th November.

Bombay Bicycle Club - How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep


Lanquid, chorusy oooohs and delicately picked guitar lines - it's like those golden last days of summer all over again.

Just as Shuffle's charm stemmed from its clever mixing of a repetitive hook and a cracking beat - Bombay Bicycle Club, cleary knowing a good idea when they hear one, walk that same route again for How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep.

Rock music has a long history of pairing together the most uneasy bedfellows. Just look at the Stone Roses, triumphantly reformed this week - their rock/dance hybrid Fools Gold is now hailed as one of the defining moments of modern music, and it's sweet to imagine that Bombay's new single is in some way a distant relative of the innovation that spawned that track.

It's that age-old desire to let loose, to just... dance...

Beats and blisters, guitar strings and late nights - How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep, the epitome of an indie club night if ever there was one.

How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep is released on the 26th December.

Chase & Status - Flashing Lights (featuring Sub Focus & Takura)


Chase & Status are at their best at two extremes. On one hand, the unstoppable power of punchy dub-step anthems like Let You Go - and then on the other, the more subtle, spook-pop of stuff like Time.

Flashing Lights then, is something of a middle-ground, and benefits from the production duo bringing the best of both camps to the table. It's eerie, darkly satisfying and come the immense breakdown in the track's last minute, possessed of a metallic, industrial intensity of terrifying proportions.

The opening even harks back to 2008 and Chase & Status's epic Pieces, the masterpiece that was to hint at the success that would shortly come to them.

Not many acts can get away with releasing seven or so singles from one album, but Chase & Status have undoubtedly proven that they are deserving of such a luxury.

Flashing Lights is released on the 21st November.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Kasabian - Re-Wired


Of all the assorted bands to launch from the swirling maelstrom that was the 2004 UK music scene into the bright spotlights of fame, Kasabian always struck me as the most consistent, the most aware of their craft and the continual creation of songs so replete in mass-appeal that there was never really any doubt they'd ever fade.

Until now, that is. Re-Wired is a sort of first, anxious stumble into that dangerous slope of 'the average' - something Kasabian for so long made a career out of being the polar opposite to. When all around them cloned indie groups were penning the same old drawn-out tunes, Kasabian were infinitely bigger, bolder.

There's a touch of U2's Achtung Baby album to the rough, industrial-scale percussion and the scratchy guitars. Kasabian have always been ones for interesting, involving sonic landscapes, and Re-Wired is certainly not one to break tradition. But the sense of indelible choruses that made that album such a classic, and which previously marked out the stepping stones of Kasabian's discography (Club Foot, LSF, Fire...) - they're gone.

With the Stone Roses reformed - one of Kasabian's most hallowed of idols and influences - the pressure is on. Days Are Forgotten - with its Morricone styled majesty - proved the band definitely still 'had it', so why such a faltering here?

Re-Wired is released on the 21st of November.

Nicki Minaj - I'm The Best


As much as the public and the Top 40 charts might love their Nicki Minaj in her most perky, poppy incarnations (Fly, Superbass), it's in her more outre, rap-heavy moments that we really see her most truthful to herself.

Indeed, it is tracks like I'm The Best that are most representative of Pink Friday as a whole - they're feisty, brawling slabs of spit-gunned raps and machined beats. This is Nicki going in hard, and she's not one to compromise with a half-hearted, lazy response. You, the listener, are in her sights.

I'm The Best wears its inflated boasts of ego plainly on its sleeve, and while this would rub prodigiously in a whole host of other US Hip-Hop artists, Nicki has the sensibilities and quirk to ensure it's always delivered with just the right hint of irony.

The result? Another stylish, swagged-up cut from the girl who's star can only burn brighter and brighter right now.

I'm The Best is released on the 5th December.

Parade preview new album track 'Weatherman'


It's one of our favourites from Parade's debut album - Weatherman!

Hard-core Parade fans will have heard the track performed acoustically at exclusive events like the Clean & Clear show in Hoxton, but the full studio version sees the track taking a decidedly R&B tilt.

What we love most about it though are the reedy 80s synths, and if you listen especially carefully, you'll even be able to hear actual raindrops. On the scale of song name/sound effects meta-relationships, this ranks pretty high for us.

Foo Fighters - These Days


Sometimes you find a song that you'd swear on your dinner that you've heard before. The latest single from Foo Fighters - These Days - is one such song.

In a pic n mix of some of the bands best moments from the past decade, its greatest merit is what can only be called a recycling of rock hooks. After all, why use a good song idea when you can go back and use it again?

Times Like These... one of These Days? They all amount to the same end result, in the same way that two and two can only ever equal four.

In other bands, it would be so easy to level the finger of tired self-plagiarising, but in the case of the Foos - the band (Grohl in particular), have constructed such a loveable image of everyone's favourite rock band, we're all there to forgive them for releasing a song like this.

The simple truth? The Foos just do this stuff so damn well.

These Days is released on the 12th December.

Kids In Glass Houses - Not In This World



Not In This World is in many ways a checklist of things you'd expect from Kids In Glass Houses: Football stadium-esque chants, a full-tilt chorus that seems fresh-poured from the end of a whisky bottle, and suitable amounts of guitar-shredding.

For me, it's not one of the best tracks on In Gold Blood - that honour falls to the more refined, melodious songs like The Florist or Fire - but its capturing of that Kids In Glass Houses essence makes it an obvious candidate as a single choice.

Just as the band have always deftly toed the line between the NME and Kerrang crowds, Not In This World is the encapsulation of that union they've striked out for with ever increasing accuracy on each of their LPs.

If songs like this make me miss the more care-free New Wave stylings of Dirt, it's only a temporary nostalgia, for as much as the likes of Matters At All had instant pop appeal, Kids In Glass Houses have made their new, grittier sound stick just as well. Rocking up in the scuffed jeans and leathers of In Gold Blood, it's now more than ever that they feel most at home.

Not In This World is available to download on iTunes now.

[Official Video] Oh My! - Dirty Dancer


It's basically one of the best pop videos we've seen all year, actually, make that the last two years. Yup, it's Oh My! bursting onto the scene with their first official single release - Dirty Dancer.

In a masterclass of that old adage 'simplicity works best', the Oh My! girls Alex and Jade give us three minutes of the street-smart attitude that we love them so much for.

Bright, colourful, and packing a blinder of a dance routine, it's pretty much everything we want in a music video.

Dirty Dancer is released on the 7th November.

The Saturdays - Faster


Remember Wiley's Wearing My Rolex? Even now, those first few bars of toe-trembling grimey synth-hook are enough to catapult us back to memories of messy shot-filled Uni nights out.

This is basically what  the opening to The Saturdays' new track Faster sounds like. Paired with airy, disembodied vocals, it makes a fitting partner for Notorious, which it follows on the On Your Radar track line-up.

It's somewhat of a deceptive start though, it's not long before the song is soaring up into a trance-athon chorus of epic proportions.

Where All Fired Up begun, Faster follows; a pristine, futuristic vision of the new dance-orientated Saturdays. It's an exciting move for the girls and is bound to translate superbly to the stage come their Winter tour.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The Saturdays - The Way You Watch Me


The Saturdays new album - On Your Radar - pretty much the pop event of the year. And if the hype and tension wasn't already enough, those Saturday girls have come up with an ingenious method to drip feed us eager fans the new songs one-by-one.

Enter the On Your Radar Unlocker! Complete with percentages so you can see just how much longer you'll have to wait till the next installment of pop magic.

First up amongst the new songs is The Way You Watch Me, potentially the closest the Sats have sounded like Girls Aloud to date. Complete with snazzy New Wave guitar riffs, it's a kind of lighter, more carefree Forever Is Over.

For those that thought the album would be solely dance-based in the vein of Notorious and All Fired Up, The Way You Watch Me colours the mix considerably and it's exciting to see The Sats exploring new sounds when it'd be all too easy to play things safe and familiar. The track also stars Travie McCoy for added rap 'ooomph'.

Bring on the next few tracks we say!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

[Cover Art] Nicole Scherzinger - Killer Love Deluxe Edition


Three words: Hot Hot Hot.

The simplest and best way to describe how we feel about the cover art for the deluxe edition of Nicole Scherzinger's album.

Killer Love is pretty much one of our favourite pop records of the year and this new cover makes us love it even more.

What we're most excited about though is that one of the new tracks on the album is Nicole's cover of James Bond theme song Tomorrow Never Dies. And anyone that knows us knows that that's our favourite James Bond film/song ever - so we've got high hopes.

The deluxe version of Killer Love is out on the 14th November.

Matt Cardle - Glimpses of something good


It's a rare occasion that every single song on an album is bad. And as much as it would give the detractors of Matt Cardle (myself included) great pleasure to say that the X Factor winner's album is one such record, the truth is that even amidst the indulgent, strained thing of mediocrity that his debut is, there's actually a couple of really good tracks on there.

The best, for me, is Stars & Lovers. Yes, it sounds like a Keane rip-off - but that's also its saving grace, because quite frankly, Keane are brilliant. The chord changes are strong, the chorus uplifting, and most importantly, it feels 'alive' - so unlike the tired nature that suffuses so much of Matt's album.

There's also Starlight - God knows why they didn't choose this as the lead single as it's miles better than Run For Your Life. It seems the draw of a big name songwriter (Gary Barlow) presented a far more attractive prospect to Matt's label, but in all reality, Starlight is a far stronger track. At its best, it's Coldplay-esque, driven by a rhythmic string section.

I hear Starlight is already lined up as the second single from the album, and it's a wise move - Matt may find he actually wins himself a few new fans with this one. Who knows, in a parallel universe, his album may even have been as consistently good as this all the way though - but for the time being, the search for a make X Factor solo star of that calibre still eludes us.

Only time will tell what becomes of Matt Cardle - but it's reassuring that in songs like Stars & Lovers, there is at least some merit to him.

Matt Cardle's album Letters is available to download on iTunes now.

Monarchy - You Don't Want To Dance With Me (Deep Space Acoustic Version)


Super-hip electro-pop track transformed into a classy piano torch-song? Can't be done, you say? Think again.

The Deep Space Acoustic Version of Monarchy's You Don't Want To Dance With Me is achingly beautiful, taking the song from the heart of the dancefloor to the dreamy post-club comedown.

If anything, Britt Love and the Monarchy lads' voices gel even better here and there's a touch of smoky 30s Jazz clubs to this version - And did I mention that you can download it for free from Soundcloud? Basically, there's no reason not to get it.

You Don't Want To Dance With Me is released on the 31st October.

You Don't Want To Dance With Me (Feat. Britt Love) - Deep Space Acoustic Version by Monarchy

Rebecca Ferguson - Nothing's Real But Love (Acoustic Version)


More from one of our favourite X Factor stars - It's Rebecca Ferguson with her long awaited debut single Nothing's Real But Love.

What we like most about Rebecca is that she's the contestant that doesn't need any gimmicks, she doesn't have to hide behind a flamboyant persona or over-produced backing tracks - and never is this proved more true than on this gorgeous stripped back acoustic version of the song.

Nothing's Real But Love is released on the 28th November.

Fanfair - The Vaccine (Acoustic Version)


For the latest in the series of Fanfair's cheery acoustic versions, they take things right back to the start with a new version of the first song they ever recorded together.

If you've not heard The Vaccine before, it's a deliciously flirty number, all cheeky innuendo and bluesy guitar.

After all, it's hard not to like a song featuring a chorus of: 'we're loving daily fixes of your intravenous kisses'.

If after watching this, you find you've caught the Fanfair bug too, your next port of call should definitely be the girls' website - http://www.fanfairmusic.com/ - where you can listen to more of their tracks.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Rebecca Ferguson - Nothing's Real But Love


For the discerning pop picker, Rebecca Ferguson was always the real one to watch in last year's X Factor. While eventual winner Matt Cardle was busy making claims about his credibility, we were all being won over by jaw-droppingly amazing performances like Rebecca's take on this Eurythmics classic...

For her debut single, Rebecca has taken the direction many assumed she would - classy 60s style retro pop; smooth, soulful - so far, so Duffy...

Of course, Rebecca's appeal is that her voice feels infinitely more authentic than the likes of Duffy and assorted other acts pursuing the same style. The sheer effortlessness that she tackled each and every track on the X Factor with, it was clear right from the start that Rebecca was the real thing, not another case of style over substance.

And for those that like their Rebecca with a bit more BPM to it, the Logistics mix is rather good - transforming the track - via a cracking drum n' bass beat - into the disco-stormer us fans always knew she was capable of making.

Nothing's Real But Love is released on the 27th November. Rebecca's album can be pre-ordered on HMV here.

'Nothings Real But Love' Logistics Remix by Rebecca Ferguson

Tinie Tempah's official after-party: At Proud2


On the 4th November, there's only one place to be, and that's Proud2. After his massive gig at London's O2 Arena, man of the moment Tinie Tempah will be bringing all the action to the new venue.

With him comes a whole host of brilliant acts, including a DJ set from Chase & Status and a live PA from Labrinth.

In a venue as intimate as this, things are pretty much sure to 'go off', as they say. Basically, it's a guaranteed epic night out. And considering it only costs 15 quid, a very reasonably priced one at that too.

Ms Dynamite and Redlight will also be making an appearance, all part of the special one-off 'Do Not Disturb' event.

Take That to release Progress Live album


Who could say no to more Take That in their lives? Personally, we were absolutely addicted to the trailer of Take That's live DVD - recorded on their staggeringly massive Progress tour.

These days though, your average music consumer wants more than just the DVD - they want that ever-lasting memento of the live show on their iTunes and MP3 player too, so they can listen to it again and again and again...

Good job Barlow and the boys are releasing a CD of the show too then, a week after the DVD release. Just look at the cover art above, so many people! Here's the full tracklisting:

Rule The World

Greatest Day

Hold Up A Light

Patience

Shine

Let Me Entertain You

Rock DJ

Come Undone

Feel

Angels

The Flood

SOS

Underground Machine

Kidz

Pretty Things

When They Were Young Medley

Back For Good

Pray

Love Love

Never Forget

No Regrets/Relight My Fire

Eight Letters

Feist - The Bad In Each Other


As the lead track on Feist's new album Metals, the brilliant The Bad In Each Other has the some might say unenviable task of setting the tone for the next 40 minutes or so of music. And that it does very well indeed, revolving around a windblown, Southern guitar hook.

Like the rest of Metals, the song is the eptiome of earthy, organic roughness - Imagine blasted, sandy vistas straight out of a 60s Western. That is Feist's charm - the juxtaposition of that almost sinister intensity with the ethereal sweetness of her vocals.

Taking to the esteemed Later With Jools Holland, Feist performed a great live version of the track that you can view HERE.

Feist's album Metals is available to download on iTunes now.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Nicole Scherzinger premieres Try With Me video



Nicole Scherzinger is one of our biggest pop crushes right now and we're just as much in love with her brilliant new track Try With Me as we are with the woman herself.

The official video for the track has just been unveiled and we think you'll agree Nicole looks amazing in it! She even gets to play piano in the middle of a waterfall - talk about unique locations for everyday past-times!

And speaking of videos - we've just seen that Nicole has over 131 million views on YouTube. She's a popular lady, that's for sure!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Parade - Track-By-Track album review


For British girl group Parade, it’s all in the name. When I first interviewed the band earlier this year, I described to them how their name conjured up the image of a marching band type procession traipsing down the road, trailing a banner of brilliant pop colours amidst a world of grey identikit stars who pursue trends like their life depended on it. Parade are something refreshingly different, five incredibly down to earth, street-smart girls who came with the looks and the tunes to win a nation of music-lovers around.
Debut single Louder did exactly that. From its beginnings on the Rimmel adverts through to it landing a place in the UK Top 10, it set the agenda loud and clear – Parade had arrived. Along with its follow-up, Perfume, Louder mined a vein of sleek, modern R&B-laced pop that played to all tastes. A little bit of this, a little bit of that; the girls were just right for this age of instant-access audience gratification – forget The X Factor and its public votes, Parade were right there, leading the charge on Twitter, chatting with fans and getting feedback on exactly what their next move should be. Here was a band that were evolving right in front of the public eye – an exciting new group for the Internet age.
What of their self-titled debut album then? Alongside the confident duo of singles, Ticking On It stands out as an obvious highlight - pop at its most pure. It might be nearly winter now, but this track’s sun-kissed vibes and calypso rhythms can make us believe the last hints of summer are still hanging around for a while yet. With its snazzy little horn riffs and slab bass, this is good old fashioned pop, the way it should be done. The vocals are light, carefree; the voices of genuine goodtime girls instead of sexed-up pop puppets.
Like You feels like a close cousin to Ticking On It, more sunny vibes and party grooves; the middle eight is brilliant. A track devoted to finding the right boy and all the things this ideal man will do, it underpins the core Parade ethic: the band work because their songs speak out to their target audience. There’s not a teen girl out there who won’t have felt these feelings, and for them, Parade are the role models, the aspiration to get out there and be whatever you want to be, do whatever you want to do.
Just A Girl strikes out for a kind of limbo between Beyonce’s forceful, empowered anthems and the soulful Supremes style retro-pop that’s all the rage at the moment. It’s a mix that really gels together and gives Parade what could quite easily be a toasty Christmas hit. You can practically imagine the jingle bells on this track already.
Looking again to the big US stars, Knock On My Door is fizzy light-hearted stuff that could slot effortlessly onto a Rihanna or Katy Perry album. Of course, with Parade, the track – like all the album – is given an unmistakeably British sheen. It’s playful, coquettish, always there with a cocked eyebrow or a wink. Parade never take themselves too seriously, and the freedom and fun that affords them comes through time and time again in the songs.
Mr Right Now is another Katy-esque track, bringing the guitars out in force for a super-cheeky innuendo-laden number. With a chanty ‘all I want is Boys! Boys! Boys!’ chorus, the song also boasts what is already my favourite ‘naughty’ lyric of the year: ‘you think you’re such a sex pistol / you want to fire off a missile’ - Oooerrr indeed!
Stars, with its hypersonic trancey synth riff, is properly amazing. Oh, and the girls even rap on it - Did you know they’ve even got their own theme song? The fans have been raving about this song ever since they heard a snippet of it on the album mini mix and you can hardly blame them, it’s a real all-out club banger. Stars is one of those instant ‘my god this is the one’ tracks. ‘We’re looking like stars in here,’ sing Parade, hitting on that feeling of rocking up in a club, feeling absolutely on top of the world - Nothing anyone says is going to dent that rock solid confidence, not tonight.
Next up are the super glossy mid-tempo R&B jams that are Shoes, Pretty Ugly and Yes You Are. Both are at heart classic ‘stand up for womanhood’ anthems, retail therapy in musical form. Those pick yourself up and dust yourself down moments, a call to turn things around with an immovable positive attitude. Parade don’t give you a chance to be sad, upset or down – if you’re with them, you’re having fun: Fact. And that sounds pretty good by us. Weatherman is of much the same shape, throwing a lovely 80s riff into the pot too.
These four tracks are the meat and gravy of Parade’s debut album, the foundations from which a pop career is built – this is their sound, their stamp. In a world where Sugababes members change every few years and bands are dropped from their labels at a moment’s notice, establishing that unique place for yourself in the market is crucial, and in the consistency and togetherness of their album, Parade have certainly achieved that.
The full studio version of Rokstar on here sounds totally different from the acoustic piano version we’ve had for so long - it’s transformed into a massive beat-heavy ballad. I’m talking Jordin Sparks No Air type stuff here. It’s dramatic, passionate; everything you’d want from an epic lighters-in-the-air pop moment. I don’t think it can quite replace the shivers-down-the-spine feeling I felt when I first saw the girls perform the live version with Bianca playing piano, but it’s great to see the track given new life in this format.
For me though, it’s final track Rollercoaster that stands as the strongest statement on Parade’s debut. It’s sure-fire single material; upbeat, sexy, and riding on a filthy synth bassline – the vocals are pumped through all kinds of distortion, racing to keep up with the relentless pace of the track. Teasing, catching; the girls have all bases covered here and by the time it gets to the laser-tastic sci-fi middle eight you’re lost, bewitched, whatever you want to call it – just watch the YouTube video of the band performing the Rollercoaster dance routine and you’ll know what I mean.

Kids in Glass Houses to support You Me At Six


How's this for a bit of rock-based value for money - Kids in Glass Houses and You Me At Six, all in one gig. The two bands are heading out on tour together in March and April next year, so you can be sure of one pretty amazing night, whichever date you head to.

In Gold Blood and Sinners Never Sleep were two of my favourite rock albums this year, Kids in Glass Houses' effort in particular lending itself to a new gritty sound that seems crying out to be unleashed in a live environment.

The full list of dates is as follows:

March
Sat 17   Leicester          O2 Academy Leicester
Sun 18   Nottingham         Rock City    
Tue 20   Bournemouth        O2 Academy     
Wed 21   Yeovil             Westland Centre    
Fri 23   Cardiff            The Great Hall 
Sat 24   Liverpool          University 
Sun 25   Newcastle          Academy 
Tue 27   Glasgow            SECC Hall 3
Wed 28   Manchester         O2 Manchester Apollo
April
Sun 1    Birmingham         Ballroom 
Mon 2    London             O2 Academy Brixton   

Monday, 17 October 2011

Parade premiere new album track 'Shoes'!


Parade's self-titled LP is one of our most eagerly awaited records of 2011 and the girls have treated us to a preview clip of one of the tracks - Shoes!

What's more, remember the super-cool animated video for the Parade album mini-mix earlier this year? Well they've done another one for Shoes, featuring, appropriately enough... lots of shoes!

Shoes goes for a smooth R&B vibe in line with Parade's hit single Perfume, we think it's great!

Parade's album is out on the 14th November. Pre-order your copy on HMV here.

Oh My! - Dirty Dancer [Preview]


There's one pop chorus we can absolutely 100% guarantee will be stuck in your heard all the way till the end of the 2011, and that's Oh My's first official single release - Dirty Dancer!

With its nod to Patrick Swayze, bratty vocals and an absolutely cracking beat, we're tipping this feisty twosome for big things. Of all the new pop acts launching this year, none of them have set the blogosphere and Twitter alight quite as much as Oh My! Everyone loves them!

Dirty Dancer is released on the 7th November and the video - which the girls have filmed already - is coming your way very soon!

Have a listen to a clip of the track on Oh My!'s Tumblr page here.

Nicole Scherzinger announces new single Try With Me


For me, Killer Love was one of the albums of the year. Whatever people wanted to say about Nicole and her new role on the US X Factor, the sheer quality of all-out pop tracks on the record was unbeatable in terms of making you want to head straight out on the tiles and dance the night away.

In one swoop, Nicole had created her very own Club Banger Nation. Her ode to 'just a few more shots...' was so unadulterated in its love of free pleasure and goodtimes that it blasted away any vestiges of studied, wannabe tastemaking in favour of simple fun and bare-boned enjoyment.

It seems only right then that she should be allowed the indulgence of one of those lovely deluxe editions everyone seems to be bringing out these days, accompanied by new Nervo-penned single Try With Me. Considering the dance duo have previously provided tracks for the likes of Ke$ha and Kylie, the pop pedigree is set high. A demo of the track surfaced earlier this week, setting pop fans every chattering about just how good it all sounded.

In terms of Nicole's album, Try With Me falls closest in line with Enrique duet Heartbeat; it's driven by that same sultry, rhythmic pulse. There's that relentless, wave-like surging of synths, washing up against Nicole's powerhouse vocals. This is the kind of song that sounds from the out like a Number One hit, a fitting follow up to Don't Hold Your Breath.

Try With Me is released on the 30th October - the deluxe version of Killer Love also features new tracks Trust Me I Lie and Tomorrow Never Dies.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Track-by-track preview of The Wanted's Battleground


As is customary these days, iTunes offers a tantalising preview of new albums before their release date - and with a minute and a half available of each track, you can get a far more real perception of what the album's like than the short 30 second previews of the past.

So what is the new The Wanted album like. Starting with the title and cover, all bloodstained red skies and the lads looking moody, the tone is obviously set up for a far more sombre, serious outing than their first album. And while that obviously doesn't hold true for the full throttle party anthems Lightning and Glad You Came, the newfound maturity on Battleground is undeniable. The Wanted have always positioned themselves as the boyband with grit, and it's a look that suits them well.

Aside from the singles that we've already heard (how amazing is Lightning?! I seriously dream of pop choruses this good all year round), Warzone starts off as classic Wanted ballad material, accentuated by nice little orchestral touches. It's big, sweeping, emotional stuff that suddenly launches into a mid-tempo dubstep style affair. It's an interesting mix of sounds that shows straight away that the band are looking to push their sound to more experimental areas.

Next up, Invincible - for me, this is the real highlight of the album. A kind of Gold Forever part. 2, the bonkers Ibiza synths rocket from left to right as the boys sing some rather amusing school related lyrics... 'please don't tell the principle.' It's the kind of thing you imagine Frankmusik might pull off, if he produced tracks for boybands.

Last To Know is another ballad, again, packing an absolutely massive sense of scale - church organs and towering beats can't help to shake off the feel of this track as being rather predictable though. Sure, it'll have the band's teen fans in floods at live shows, but on the album, aside from the nice production (a running theme throughout the album, it's all super-glossy), it falls flat.

I'll Be Your Strength is one of the most interesting tracks on Battleground - it's fascinatingly minimal, all trembling piano chords and subdued bass. This is the kind of ballad you actually want to hear from the band, something that feels genuinely innovative and emotive. More like this please, lads.

I had high hopes for Dianne Warren-penned song Rocket, and on hearing it, I'm left of two minds. It's one of the stronger tracks on the album, but not as majestically brilliant as I hoped for. It's a filmic, mid-tempo number - again very beat-heavy with lots of sci-fi bleepiness and some nice 'ahhhh-ahhhh-ahhh' vocal hooks. Could quite easily end up as a single.

I Want It All is The Wanted going acoustic - another ballad (there seems to be quite a lot of them on here, doesn't it). Compared to the relentless pace of the band's first album, moments like this fall just over the boring line, and it's a shame because at its best moments, this song sounds like a lost demo off a Keane album or something.

The Weekend is a East-17 House Of Love style rave-up, and while the pulsing synth bursts are enjoyable, it's a real dance-track-by-numbers, lacking the energy and fun of Invincible. A bit of a let down, all things considered.

Lie To Me is a pleasingly good late-album track, striking a kind of confident middle ground between Take That and Coldplay, it's The Wanted's very own Rule The World, with just the right rock flavours to keep things interesting. Like this one a lot.

So, all in all, not a bad showing for Wanted album Number Two - it's certainly a different feel from their debut. Certainly more ballads than I expected, but then, I suppose that can be forgiven seeing as the band have given us three of the best dance-pop tracks of the year in the three singles they've already released from Battleground. More mature, better produced, and on the whole showing real signs of progress, Battleground is definitely the sound of a band here to stay.

Listen to the previews of Battleground and pre-order the album on iTunes.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Bombay Bicycle Club - Lights Out Words Gone


If Shuffle saw Bombay Bicyle Club at their most effervescent and joyous, new single Lights Out Words Gone shows what they can do when the brief is a clear one of pure relaxation. After all, with their latest album titled A Different Kind Of Fix, the prospect of varied pleasures seems an obvious one.

The track really revels in a gorgeous trippy feel. Summer might be on its way out, but Lights Out Words Gone feels like exactly the kind of song you want on when you're chilling by the pool with a cocktail in hand. Tapping in to the same kind of tropical, breezy vibe Friendly Fires constructed their Pala album around, the song oozes late-night chill out sensuality.

With the trademark bounce of Bombay Bicyle Club's guitars given something a new wave sheen here, the song positively glistens. Three albums in and the band are properly hitting their stride.

Lights Out Words Gone is released on the 17th October.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Erasure announce Be With You as 2nd Tomorrow's World single


Following up on previous single When I Start to (Break It All Down) and a very respectable chart placing of 29 for their Tomorrow's World album, Erasure have revealed that the second track to be taken from the record will be Be With You.

The single release will be made available on CD and as a download package, including an exclusive new b-side and a number of remixes. Exciting stuff!

And how good does the cover art look - continuing the theme of CGI body parts for this album campaign, there's a massive pair of lungs with a load of colourful dragonflies and birds bursting out of it. An everyday occurrence round our way.

Parade perform the complete Rollercoaster dance routine!


If anyone's in any doubt of how good girl-group Parade are as dancers, point them in the direction of this video.

Here, the feisty fivesome work through the complete routine for fan-favourite Rollercoaster, which I'm very pleased to see has been given a place on their album's tracklisting.

Those of you who remember the girls performing the track on tour will know how incredible it is - full on dance-pop brilliance. Personally, we can't wait to hear the full version on the album! Bring it on!

Parade's album is out on the 14th Novemember and can be pre-ordered on Amazon now.

-rp- - We Fly


A song - quite literally written on the road. This is the story behind new single We Fly from Hampshire band -rp-, the track tacking shape over a ten day hitch-hike across the UK.

They say the thrill of the journey breeds creativity, and not only did the song itself spring from this spot of impromptu travelling, but also the accompanying video - put together from footage of over 100 people they met along the way.

The first thing that springs to mind is a more meaty version of Scouting for Girls. It's that same brand of melodic piano pop, but as the guitars kick in and the song properly gets going, it's clear the band have considerably more heft than the aforementioned Radio 1 darlings.

-rp- play the Camden Barfly on the 19th November and We Fly is released on the 6th November.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds [Album Review]


With Liam Gallagher’s poorly conceived Beady Eye project already slipping away from the public consciousness on a slippery slope of mediocre sales and even worse chart positions (the less said about that dreary Reading & Leeds set the better), the baton falls to Noel – the man traditionally hailed as the more talented of the brothers. That said, the penchant for bonkers band names clearly runs in the family, first Beady Eye, now Noel Gallagher’s... High Flying Birds...
Birds aside, this album’s high flying ambitions are writ all over it. Opener Everybody's On The Run is Noel at his very best, cut free from the limitations of his former band to truly indulge as both songwriter and solo musician. The result is a far richer, more involving level of production than Oasis ever really entertained – with lush, sweeping strings, the song rides on a Bond Theme-esque level of cinematic scope.
Dream On is pure Oasis throwback, revelling in the kind of retro stompy piano chords that worked so well in The Importance of Being Idle. The trouble is, here, Dream On sounds like the tired leftovers – the dregs that have been left swilling around Noel’s brain for rather too long. Of course, with a man of such considerable talents as Noel, even here, the weaker points on High Flying Birds are still more than a match for any of the young upstart bands who all wish for a fraction of the success Oasis had. Noel Gallagher, the original prince of Brit-pop, and still the best.
Truth be told, the album’s greatest asset – sounding like Oasis – is also its greatest problem. There’s not a dud track on here, but equally, a great deal of the record, tracks like If I Had A Gun and Record Machine are nothing we haven’t already heard before a hundred times. Where High Flying Birds really shines is on gems like the horn-riffing fun of Soldier Boys And Jesus Freaks and the stately elegance of Stop The Clocks. There’s a beauty in these songs, a soaring sense of some part of Noel’s spirit, trapped away inside him, finally set free.
The most fascinating moment here though is without a doubt lead single What A Life. Eschewing everything else on the record, the song jumps into a psychedelic mix of groove-driven beats and relentless piano chords – it’s not quite Noel Gallagher-does-house-music, but it’s getting on for that. Fellow Manc legend Ian Brown has made a career out of penning weird, wonderful tracks like this and it’s refreshing to see Noel walking the same path; unafraid to push the boundaries – something which proved the downfall of Liam’s stale, unadventurous Beady Eye project.
What’s even more promising is that High Flying Birds is just the start. Not one to rest on his laurels, Noel has already recorded an accompanying album, a collaboration with electronica outfit Amorphous Androgynous (try saying that one when you’ve had a few beers). The group previously transformed the Oasis single Falling Down into a 22 minute exploration into the very limits of sonic innovation, so things look promising.
Situated at the heart of High Flying Birds, What A Life serves as the appetite-whetter, so to speak, the budding shoots that hint at the experimentation yet to come - that moment we’ve all been waiting for when Noel will once again blossom into the flower of British songwriting perfection that over the past two decades has given some of the greatest songs of all time.
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds album is available to pre-order on Amazon now.

The Horrors debut I Can See Through You video


Switching things up a gear from the sombre, stately Still Life, The Horrors have premiered the video for their post-punk inspired stormer I Can See Through You.

With all manner of psychedelic colour and spacey effects, the White Rabbit directed video makes for a suitability surreal accompaniment to one of the best tracks from the band's Skying album.

The group also took to the esteemed Later With Jools Holland to play the track live - watch the performance here.

Enter Shikari - Sssnakepit


You know Enter Shikari, the metal band that blended dangerously loud guitars with bonkers trance synths in a recipe for guaranteed mayhem. Tales of their gigs and the apocalyptic scenes that unfolded at them was the stuff of legend and in something of a rarity for metal bands these days, their records charted respectably too.

As such, it was surely only a matter of time before they got on the dubstep scene, and with a load of dirty raps thrown in for good measure, Sssnakepit is every bit as grimy as its venom-infested name suggests.

The first single from new album A Flash Of Colour, the single feels confident, assured in its ample playing to both crowds - whether you're a dance-head or rocker, the track is primed to push your buttons. Something that the band have proved time and time again they're very good at. Mosh-pits around the country, get ready...

Sssnakepit is available to download on iTunes now.

Rise Against announce November UK tour dates


Coming straight from touring with the Foo Fighters, Rise Against show no sign of wanting to slow down, heading back on the road this November for ten UK dates. Accompanying them will be Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello and Polar Bear Club.

By all accounts, the band went down a treat at Reading & Leeds this year, so these dates aren't to be missed:

 2-Nov-11 Nottingham Rock City 
 3-Nov-11 Leeds O2 Academy 
 4-Nov-11 Glasgow O2 Academy 
 5-Nov-11 Manchester O2 Apollo 
 7-Nov-11 Birmingham O2 Academy 
 8-Nov-11 Newcastle O2 Academy 
 9-Nov-11 London Brixton Academy 
 10-Nov-11 Norwich UEA 
 12-Nov-11 Bristol O2 Academy 
 13-Nov-11 Southampton Guildhall

The band's album End Game is available to download on iTunes now.

White Lies to support 30 Seconds to Mars in France


Two great bands for the price of one? Don't mind if we do! The ace White Lies will be opening for 30 Seconds To Mars on their upcoming French tour dates.

The full set of dates can be seen below:

12th Nov – France, Paris, Zenith
13th Nov – France, Nantes, Zenith
15th Nov – France, Bordeaux, La Medoquine
16th Nov – France, Toulouse, Le Phare
18th Nov – France, Lille, Zenith
19th Nov – France, Amneville, Le Galaxie
20th Nov – France, Lyon, Transbordeur
22nd Nov – France, Montpellier, Zenith
23rd Nov – France, Marseille, Le Dome

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

One to watch... Leigh Learmont


In the stormy, ever-changing waters of the music industry, it's fair to say that girl-band Wonderland were culled before their time. With a Top 10 album under their belt and numerous TV appearances, the decision to let the band go by their record label seemed very hasty, putting a short, sharp end to what seemed the promising beginnings of a bright new pop hope.

The industry is littered with the remains of dissolved groups and the varying successes of their members. Just ask S Club 7. In terms of Wonderland, it seems more prevalent than ever to keep tabs on what the five girls get up to - after all, it's easy to forget that this wasn't just a band putting out music, it was five people, five careers. In this increasingly corporate world, it's important to remember the human element.

One member of the group in particular has already shown she's keen not to rest on her laurels. The super-gorgeous Leigh Learmont has already signed up with Assets modelling agency, putting out a breathtakingly stunning shoot of racy pics - talk about taking phwoar to whole new levels...

She's also apparently in talks with Irish TV Channel TG4. The popstar-turned-TV-star is a path oft-trodden, but one that quite often results in refreshing success stories. The re-invigorating career change we all contemplate at times, so to speak.

Speaking to Irish paper the Herald, Leigh said "I'm having some me time at the moment," and going by how hectic and stressful the Wonderland split must have been, we don't blame her.

In their prime, Wonderland were nominated as Best Band and Breakthrough Artist at the Glamour Women of the Year and BT Digital Music Awards respectively. Who knows, in a few years' time, Leigh might just be nabbing some high profile awards of her own. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

Liam Blake - Gypsy Fireflies


Liam Blake's Gypsy Fireflies is one of those beautiful tracks that really sneaks up on you, all the more attractive a listening prospect because it dispenses with bluster and ego in exchange for the merits and simplicity of a great melody.

Hushed, tender, Gypsy Fireflies is acoustic at its very best. No tired cover versions or lazy campfire ditties, just gorgeous songwriting.

Gypsy Fireflies and the album You and Other Stories are available to download from iTunes now.

Twin Atlantic - Make A Beast Of Myself


For Scottish rockers Twin Atlantic, previous single Edit Me saw them at the full extent of that feiry roughness that all up and coming bands go through at one point; howling guitars and a rough and ready feel, the track felt like it had been banged out with blood and sweat from a filthy basement flat. What it did represent was an exercise in rawness, and if ever a band was capable of putting that rawness to good use, it's Twin Atlantic.

The changes to the band's sound clearly audible in Make A Beast Of Myself are plain to see. Infinitely more glossy, the band now position themselves halfway between Biffy Clyro and a kind of throwback to the Lostprophets glory days. Fear not though, the sledgehammer guitars are still present, but now handcuffed to a proper chorus. It's like the sensation of trying on your first suit and tie, you'll never forget that feeling of how it instantly makes you look that little bit smarter and more refined.

Radio 1's Huw Stephens in particular has made a point of championing Twin Atlantic, and Make A Beast Of Myself  makes a genuine case for their validity. The UK is crying out for decent guitar bands at the moment, and Twin Atlantic could very well be 'that' band to capture the imagination of the public as a whole. Watch this space, my bets are that these guys will be all over the festival circuit next year.

Make A Beast Of Myself is available to download on iTunes now.

Wild Beasts - Reach A Bit Further


Wild Beasts' third album Smother was greeted upon release by the kind of rapturous acclaim reserved for only a select few LPs every year. It was clear that this was a real cream of the crop moment, that rare moment of real genius where a band's talents come together in that magic formula of creativity that results in a classic record.

With its keening falsetto vocals, new single Reach A Bit Further makes for an enticing introduction to the band's sound. A New Romantic-esque ballad of carnal love, it feels velvety and utterly irresistible. If those M&S food adverts could create their own song, this would be it.

The intensity, the sticky closeness of the lush, involving soundscapes - Reach A Bit Further is that perfect dream you wish you could never wake up from. The lyrics are beautifully intangible too, tripping into each-other in a captivating cascade of sensual power.

Reach A Bit Further is released on the 14th November.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

(Official Video) Sunday Girl - Love U More



It's been a good day for pop videos. First The Saturdays with their Icelandic-based romp in My Heart Takes Over, and now Sunday Girl's effortlessly stylish Love U More. Oh, and speaking of The Saturdays, it looks like Jade might have borrowed their luminously bright pink lipstick for her video too.

Listening to Love U More is like stepping into the TARDIS, instantly you're back in some heaving late 90s discotheque raving away to some blisteringly amazing trance anthem - and Sunday Girl's recapturing of this has to be applauded.

Her album is set for release in early 2012, which excites us a lot - previous single Stop Hey was equally fantastic.

Love U More is released on the 30th October.