Top 10 albums of the year

10. Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Getaway

Kiedis and Co are certified rock legends and 2016 saw the release of their 11th studio album, which was a huge step up from their disappointing 2011 release ‘I’m with you’. In tracks like ‘Goodbye Angels’ and ‘Dark Necessities’ we get the funk aesthetic that we crave from such a prestigious band, if you haven’t already go check out the album, especially those tunes.

9. The Wytches – All Your Happy Life

Back with their second full length LP, the Wytches have diversified their sound and created a ghostly new record full of shrieking melodies and fascinating instrumentation. Tracks like ‘C-Side’ and ‘Ghost House’ are my personal favourites; seeing the new material live was a madness too.

8. Eagulls – Ullages

An anagram of the band’s name, ‘Ullages’ is an album that would be sinful to not listen to all the way through, it is a modern take on some 90s classic indie and truly develops their own sound, if it wasn’t unique enough already. Go listen to ‘Lemontrees’ and ‘Skipping’.

7. Kaytanada – 99.9%

This is one of the best albums I have ever heard from the mind of a self-confessed ‘Producer’. On the strongest debut LP of the year, Celestin shows he is much more than what he is labelled as, he is a true artist and one of the most important figures currently in world hip hop. Listen to ‘Drive Me Crazy’ and ‘Got It Good’.

6. Glass Animals – How to be a human being

Bringing even more tropical vibes to the world, Glass Animals second LP was highly anticipated and it didn’t fail to impress. Based around true stories that Dave Bayley heard from strangers he got talking to last year, the album exposes the realities of life in a way only Glass Animals could. Listen to ‘Pork Soda’ and ‘Youth’.

5. Flume – Skin

Harley Streten’s second album has proved he is one of the most gifted and intriguing electronic artists to have emerged from the broad landscape of electronic music. Collaborations with Vince Staples, Vic Mensa and even Beck shows just how versatile he can be in his production, check out ‘Helix’ and ‘Smoke and Retribution’.

4. Jamie T – Trick

An alternative idol, Jamie Treays released his latest LP back in September. Full of future classics, ‘Trick’ is a grittier album than the cleanliness of ‘Carry On The Grudge’, it truly establishes the rapper-songwriter-producer as a one man genre and thankfully he still hasn’t left the talent he possesses with his sampling. Go check out ‘Tinfoil Boy’ and ‘Solomon Eagle’.

3. Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition

The Detroit born mentalist that is Danny Brown dropped the most ambitious and experimental album I believe he ever has this year. Inspired by everything from Joy Division to Rage Against The Machine, this LP isn’t for the faint hearted but is one of the most important releases in modern rap, listen to ‘When It Rain’ and ‘Pneumonia’.

2. Skepta – Konnichiwa

2016 saw many album releases from the grime greats, whether it was Giggs or Kano but since its discharge, there hasn’t been a day gone by where I haven’t listened or heard a song from ‘Konnichiwa’. It was definitely one of the most anticipated British albums of the year and Skepta did not disappoint, as he rarely does. Just listen to the whole thing.

1. Slaves – Take Control

If you know me well then you are probably thinking this is the most cliché number 1 I could have chosen but the roar punk energy of Slaves is something that no one can get near to at the moment. Produced by Mike D and perfected by Isaac and Laurie, it is an album of nothing but straight up punk bangers. Features from the likes of Baxter Dury just tops the record for me and makes ‘Take Control’ slightly more versatile than what ‘Are You Satisfied?’ was, you have to check out this album, buy it for yourself and everyone this christmas.

Flume releases new EP ‘Skin Companion’

To coincide with his latest album ‘Skin’, Flume is now debuting 4 new songs all in a similar vein to the material on his release earlier this year. Rich in punchy synths, beautiful, howling vocals and samples of an endless list of peculiar instruments, The tracks could have easily made the cut for his second album; but this just shows how strong of a record ‘Skin’ was.


My favourite tune from the EP has to be ‘Heater’, a song using similar synth patterns to innocence; the climatic build and crashing blend of electronic instrumentation makes it one of the best songs Harley has produced this year. Flume is one of the most important electronic artists of the decade and is constantly changing the way we perceive ‘EDM’ music, go and check out his new material below.

 

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard share new track ‘Rattlesnake’

Pioneering the new wave of psychedelic rock, King Gizzard have released yet another song; it’s getting hard to keep up with all of their new material. In fact the Aussie boys claim that they will be releasing five albums in 2017 alone, how? I have no idea; singer Stu Mackenzie reckons he will “lose my mind by the end of the year” and if he doesn’t then I would be very impressed.

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As for the tune itself, it is 8 minutes of scuzzy bass lines, restless rhythms and even the occasional harmonica. I managed to catch their set at Latitude a couple of years back and it was one of the maddest sets I’ve seen to date, the members had to be crammed on the stage but that didn’t stop them from creating a dusty rout. Mackenzie and co have also released an unbelievably trippy music video to coincide with the psychedelia of the song so you can check that out below.

You can preorder King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s 9th studio album ‘Flying Microtonal Banana’ here

LISTEN: Rat Boy’s new single ‘Lovers Law’ is Annie Mac’s hottest record.

Featuring on the set list of his latest tour, Jordan Cardy’s new Gorillaz-esque single has just had its first ever official spin. The DJs at Radio 1 have been supporting Rat Boy ever since the release of his first mixtape, titled ‘The Mixtape’, and this song is sure to enhance the Chelmsford born boy’s loyal following.

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The track is in the vain of everything from The Talking Heads to The Human League, any project of Damon Albarn’s, who is proving to be a big influence on Jordan’s music, and even The Streets. It is an unbelievably captivating and addictive song; the direction Cardy is going in is hard to fault, his tracks are more hip hop and synth based but still stay true to his indie roots that got him the recognition he deserves. Personally I think this is one of his best tunes yet: rich in jangly melodies, guitar hooks and unusual samples; the clip features a short interview with himself and Liam, his bassist, so go and give it a listen.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04ddwy0/player

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Watch: Rejjie Snow releases music video for ‘Pink Beetle’

Released shortly after his previous single ‘D.R.U.G.S’ Rejjie Snow is back with a vid for his latest track ‘Pink Beetle’, and it’s a gory one. Fitting halloween perfectly, the visuals show Snow having a bit of a weird, and extremely painful, dental appointment. Once again the Dublin born rapper has matched the creativity of his music with the video to go with it, all of his content makes for an extremely intriguing watch and this one is no different.

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The track itself is a blissful 3 minutes of hip hop, rich in hooks of pianos and snare drums. The beat is infectious, as are the vocals on the chorus, and of course Rejjie absolutely kills it with his trade mark flow and soothing voice. Produced by ‘Rahki’, the song is just a snippet of how incredible Snow’s up coming album could potentially be; the producer has worked with the likes of ‘Kendrick Lamar’ and ‘School Boy Q’ and so if Rejjie and Rahki can replicate the work of these two artists then we are really in for a treat.

Watch the video below and go buy the new single.

Forever Cult air new track ‘See Thru’

Signed to ‘Clue records’, Forever Cult are a three piece hailing from Leeds known for creating a grungy racket. Their sound could be likened to the sludgy tendencies of Eagulls, they share the same thumping basslines and crunching guitar riffs so if you are a fan of their fellow Leeds mates then you will love these lads.

‘See Thru’ follows the release of single ‘Tunnel Vision’, which has a quirky music video where the band make a corner, of what looks like a living room, into a makeshift tropical beach. You can see what I mean down below. The fuzzy/tonal guitar riffs reminded me of the band Nai Harvest, who have unfortunately called it a day,  so if you liked the Sheffield duo you should be checking out Forever Cult.

Tearing their way through tours and festivals, the outfit’s new song will go down a treat at future gigs and cause even more mayhem than their shows have been recently. Lead singer Kieran screeches ‘It’s not my problem’ in a thunderous chorus; heavy in trembling drums and their signature guitar tone. ‘See Thru’ will only be available on cassette so if you like the song, and want a hard copy, you will be lucky to grab one but give the tune a listen below. It’s well worth it.

The band are also going on tour this November:

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Album Review: Atomised – Virtual Strangers

‘Atomised’ is the project of a Cambridge based band,  featuring singer/song writer Andrew Ashworth and fellow song writer/guitarists Paul Ambrose and Greg Reid. Featuring  a DIY aesthetic that has been lacking recently in the music industry, ‘Virtual Strangers’ is an LP rich in emotion and blends of guitars from a spectrum of genres.

Melodic, dreamy and uplifting, the tone of the album makes for easy listening with intriguing lyrics subtly emphasising the pain of living in the ‘modern world’. ‘Tinselhead’ stresses this immediately through mixtures of rhythmic minor chords and infectious lead guitar riffs; the lyrics in the chorus are pretty catchy too as Ashworth mourns “this is real life” over his band.

Although it sets up the album well, the first track is not my favourite cut from the LP; the evident mainstream indie influences in ‘Slipping On Tightropes’ really stick with you. The orchestral elements complement the acoustic guitar, making the song flow effortlessly, whilst helping you to remain intrigued by the instrumental elements of the track. A distinctive feature of the album is its reference to space and extraterrestrial themes, the delay on the guitar in the concluding track arouses a psychedelic feeling and with lines like “the stars aline” you cannot help but feel this way.

Not knowing what to expect, I went to Atomised’s most recent gig in the upstairs of a local pub. The six members were crammed at the front of the room, playing to a congested crowd of mixed ages, but this just shows how versatile a record ‘Virtual Strangers’ is. The variation in instrumentation is why the record is so entrancing, but sometimes it seems as if certain layers of the music are thrown into the album to make the LP sound more complex, when really less would seem more in terms of the way many of the tracks pan out. The use of the trumpets in ‘No More Secrets’ doesn’t necessarily add to the song and thus it sounds a little over-produced. However the trumpets work in  a different way on ‘Virtual Strangers’, the title track of the album, where the brass instruments create an ironic sense of social triumph that Ashworth often states is lacking in today’s World.

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Originally, after my first play of the album, the drum patterns felt all too comparable throughout the record and thus the tempo was initially very similar. Listening to the album again I found that in tracks like ‘Impossible World’ Ashworth and Co proved me wrong. This song is certainly one of the most intriguing, the female vocals set a different tone to the record and harmonise with the piano to amplify a more mystical atmosphere than any of the other songs.

This album deserves more success than it is receiving now, you can listen to my favourite track ‘Slipping On Tightropes’ here:

 

 

Massive Attack: Ritual Spirit Review

To say I was excited about this EP would be a huge understatement, 6 years waiting to hear new material from a band is too long; especially when the group is as good as Massive Attack. The Trip Hop outfit have been around for a while, pioneering the 90’s Bristol scene since the release of their first album in 1991, their dramatically atmospheric dynamics are always intriguing, often failing to feature a chorus and preferring lavish orchestral arrangements.

The EP starts off with the track ‘Dead Editors’ and features the fantastic Hip Hop artist Roots Manuva. The sinister baseline and percussion is like a drug, incredibly addictive and hugely complimentary of Manuva’s dark lyrics. Massive Attack then move on to a song that is more to their classic sound, it features Azekel and carries on the slow tempo of the EP. In 2010 Grant Marshall rejoined the group and vowed to “bring back the black to Massive Attack” which he evidently has in this album as it sounds like one long, infectious tribal dance.

One of my favourite features on the album is Young Fathers, an electro pop group from Scotland who, in the past 3 years, have toured relentlessly, released 2 albums and won a Mercury: not bad if you ask me. The cut they feature on is called ‘Voodoo In My Blood’ and it sounds as if Young Fathers had a say on the instrumentation too; it’s fair to say that the mix of the two artists couldn’t have worked any better. The album ends in style with Tricky  being the last to have vocals on the record. The lyrics are undeniably devilish and it’s a real throw back to the days of ‘Blue Lines’ when Tricky was still in the band.

This is an EP you must check out, it’s easily the best record to drop so far this year.

Rating: 9/10 (Would have been 10/10 but it wasn’t long enough)

If you like this then you’ll love this…

4 reasons why Glastonbury shouldn’t have booked Coldplay

It was revealed yesterday that Coldplay, the kings of gold standard average music, are set to headline the Sunday slot at Worthy Farm. I think this is a lazy and predictable decision for the following reasons.

1) Coldplay have headlined the festival 3 times already.

For a start the band have headlined the festival on an average of every 4-5 years since 2002. Of course this isn’t Coldplay’s fault as the Eavis family are the ones booking the band but this surely shows a lack of imagination and thought going into arguably the World’s biggest festival, at this moment in time. Glastonbury is meant to showcase a variety of musical talent and by resorting to Coldplay as the first announced headliners they have truly contradicted the image of their festival. Who actually sat down and said that it would be a great idea to have Coldplay coming to Glastonbury for a seventh time and the fourth time as a headliner?

2) Coldplay are playing 4 Wembley Stadium dates this summer.

Coldplay have a massive summer ahead of them. With a huge tour that covers three major continents, their true fans from the U.K could catch them at one of their seven major stadium dates. So why did Emily and Michael Evis feel the need to book them when they will be performing to 532,000 fans this summer in England and Scotland alone? It will just be the same set over and over again and yes they may have a couple of guest appearances but who from? Beyonce and Rihanna? Haven’t we seen enough of this celebrity culture forced upon us music fans?

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3) WE NEED NEW HEADLINERS

Coldplay headlining Glastonbury annoys me as there are so many spectacular bands that would equally step up and perform a spine tingling, hair raising and headline worthy performance. Look at Massive Attack for example, a long with Portishead, they were the pioneers of the Bristol Trip-Hop scene and have just released a stunning ep featuring the likes of Tricky, Young Fathers and Roots Manuva. With many other great albums under their belt it is about time that Glasto were brave enough to give bands like Massive Attack the chance to make a name for themselves on the highest of international platforms. How is modern music going to evolve if festivals don’t give a variety of bands the chance to headline? Franz Ferdinand are another great example of an outfit that could create a brilliant performance, especially as they are just as big as the likes of Kasabian and would undoubtedly give a better performance than Chris Martin and co.

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4) Coldplay are nothing but mediocre

If I could compare the booking of Coldplay to anything then it would be like going to a service station with your family wanting a McDonalds but getting a cold sandwich from WH Smiths. Or alternatively going to get some biscuits from the cupboard and seeing digestives instead of custard creams, it’s nothing but a disappointment. Coldplay’s target audience are 30-40 year olds who want to stay current and act like they have musical interests when really they have none at all. People say that your music taste represents your personality and this is worrying considering how many people seem to say they like Coldplay. They will perform a set that critics will say they love but have seen time and time again over the past 14 years, they’ll be nothing special but offer a near satisfactory set that viewers will fall asleep to after 15 minutes and wake up for ‘Paradise’ as an encore.

It’s a shame that Coldplay are the first booking for this year’s Glastonbury but it seems to have satisfied some festival goers; we are just going to have to hope for a better Friday and Saturday night booking. Maybe the Eavis family need to go back to their roots and think about why they started this festival in the first place?

R.I.P Viola Beach

Today brought the tragic news that up and coming indie band Viola Beach had died in a car crash whilst in Sweden. Hailing from Liverpool, the group were meant to be touring with bands like Blossoms this year and playing gigs in the Brighton Concorde and even the BBC Introducing stage at SXSW, all potentially defining moments for the boys.

It came as a shock to the world of music and many bands have left their condolences for their friends and family: Peace, The Courteeners and Jack Garratt all took to twitter to pay their respect. As well as the band, their tour manager Craig Tarry was in the car that fell 80 feet off a bridge and into the canal. It is devastating to hear of such a tragedy especially as we have lost the likes of David Bowie, Lemmy and Glenn Frey in the past month. The band from Warrington released an ep last month featuring the tracks ‘Boys That Sing’ and ‘Like A Fool’, two very catchy songs and both great follow ups to their debut single ‘Swings and Waterslides’. These songs were not the only signals of their coming success – they were praised regularly from Radio 1 and DJs like Huw Stephens who highlighted the 4 piece as one of the rising stars to watch out for in 2016. This recognition then lead to the band recording a session in the famous Maida Vale studios in November 2015.

The band had just played a music festival in Sweden called ‘Where’s The Music’ in Norrköping and Psykofant, a 5 piece punk outfit, hailed their set: John Hugo said “they gave an amazing final performance”. Compared to the likes of The Beatles, there is no doubt that Viola Beach had a huge career ahead of them and although they’re lost, the band will never be forgotten among Liverpool’s thriving indie scene.

Respect goes out to the family and friends of Kris Leonard, 19, River Reeves, 19, Jack Dakin, 24, 27-year-old Tomas Lowe and Craig Tarry, 32.