Monday, 20 December 2010

Birds In Flight Press Stuffs

I'm ashamed to be apologising for the lack of posting. I'm sorry! I'm sorrrrry! It's been a mad last few weeks, and until I'm back at home with my Uni routine back on track it's only going to get worse, so there won't be much more from me until the New Year. I'm back home in Glastonbury for Christmas, and the snow is causing havoc all over the place. Plans are going out the window; it's such a pain and the Country simply cannot cope even though it happens every year. But, a quick post now because I'm snowed in and need your help! Below are some links to various sites linked with my band, Birds In Flight. Please take some time to check them out and give us a hand! Thanks for your time, and here's wishing all my readers a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Stay safe, eat well and love lots.

Check out our ReverbNation page! Hint: Check out the press page with some quotes and please 'become a fan'.

There's a great Track Review here of Biggest Mistake taken from our EP, from Amanda Blide of LaFamous; well worth a read!

The Tunebreaker countdown has begun, so please please visit our Artist Page to vote for us and/or purchase a single.

Don't forget you can listen before you buy at our Myspace page! And please let us know what you think!

Excuse the shameless plugging but we need your help! Happy Holidays and see you in the New Year!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Birds In Flight

Hi all, please check out my band's EP which is online now on our Myspace page and our Reverbnation page.

Share it with all your friends and let us know what you think!

Thanks :)

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Bon Jovi: Youtube Salutes You!

There's a million Bon Jovi covers on Youtube; some bands, some soloists, and the rest just drunken Prayer karaoke. A lot aren't great, but some really are, I've picked out a couple of my favourites to share which are all soloists with accompaniments; you're a lot more exposed which is, I feel, much better. And of course, I wasn't going to miss the chance for a shameless plug so I've stuck mine on at the end ;)

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Mudslideslim - New Tracks

Check out the new tracks available at Mudslideslim's Myspace page now! Featured are Memory and Nightmare; Memory is a moody-acoustic driven affair, sombre yet passionate with a definitive progressive feel as the track grows and grows. It dips in all the right places when it reaches a peak, and I completely get the Radiohead and Tom Waits influences.

Nightmare is thick in texture with chunky acoustic guitar but still reflects the sombre atmosphere of Memory. I love the vocal harmonies here, in fact overall the track in general I really like; the vocal melodies really compliment the simple yet effective chord progression and the song has an almost haunting-Johnny Cash inspired feel. I'd love to experience this live with a band, perhaps some cello and more harmonies and even a harmonica to really pack the final punch.

These tracks are well worth a listen, and the album is out now. For more info, check out his Reverb Nation page and enjoy.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

(You Want To) Make A Memory - Bon Jovi cover

Here's my second attempt at uploading a Bon Jovi cover into the cyber abyss, please excuse the over-excited Budgie in the background...

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

New Artist Alert: The Spies

Both terms 'indie' and 'college rock' as ways of definining a genre hardly jump out at me as one worth much of a listen, however The Spies from Los Angeles have definitely got the sound down to a tee. Liquer from white-rimmed party cups is definitely flowing and the garage door is up, the band staring out at the teens falling about on the driveway of their suburban lives as they pound through National Pastime, an energetic track driven hard by the constant guitar riff and lyric-laden verses. I can almost see the slow-mo scenes in the video where the girls have got the hosepipe out. Anyway, I'm digressing. The music is taking me on a journey in my mind; painting a picture of what the media would have us believe downtown LA must be like. I love the bridge section as the feroicty subsides allowing some much-needed room for the vocals and guitar to breathe before it builds for one last chorus.

Also worth a listen is the short You Got Some Nerve. Slower-paced than its predecessor, the vocals here sound really cool with the underlying whistly, winding keys. It's a cool and boppy-funk kind of track in the verses before exploding into mirage of various half-time/double-time measures. It's short and sweet; perhaps a little too short, not enough seems to be explored musically in the near-three minute offering. Title-track Televolution harbours an obvious message behind a funky, chunky riff-driven backdrop and sticks well to the 'college rock' instruction on the side of the tin, whilst hinting at an older rock 'n roll feel at times. If you're a fan of this kind of music, I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

For a sample listen to the album, Televolution, check out the band's Digital Press Kit or if you prefer it the old fashioned way, head over to their Myspace page. Enjoy!

New Artist Alert: French Crops

Hailing from London, this post-punk/ska/funk outfit appeared in my inbox yesterday (not literally, that would be mental) and I wanted to share with you their infectious noise. Citing such prestigious influences that diversely range from The Specials to The Clash, this 5-piece showcase "hard hitting tunes with melodic move-your-feet guitar riffs".

A couple of tracks stuck out for me, Burden with it's dingy, progressive opening riff and rockney-heavy vocals; these guys give a flavour of The Cure/Specials/Chilis throughout with a slightly heavier edge. The Avery sounds like something straight off of the FIFA series soundtrack, with it's vocal-led melody and energetic hook; the driving semi-quavers on the hi-hats relentlessly pushing and threatening to leave everyone else behind as the lead guitar attempts to steal the limelight. This is a furiously fast track packed full to the brim. Roll of the Dice is another foot-stomper, I can't keep still listening to the rootsy-sound of new London funkpunk (you heard it here first) and am really enjoying the capability and indeed awareness displayed within their song-writing. If I could sum up our capital city in a band, I think it might be the ironically named French Crops. I see neither Parisian architecture nor fields full of vegetables ready for harvest, but the band have definitely captured the energy and bustle of London and turned it into a hard-hitting bunch of songs.

As per, check out the band's Myspace page and have a listen for yourself. And if you like what you hear, make sure you let them know!

Monday, 15 November 2010

His Name Is Tico!

Something now for not just the Bon Jovi fans, but DRUMMERS as well! Here, Tico Torres of Bon Jovi talks about the Remo heads he uses live and in the studio, and gives a mini demo at the end of the interview. For a man of very few solos and a totally underrated drummer it's quite a rare glimpse of something besides the regimented 2 and 4 of his Bon Jovi offerings.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Ellie Goulding - Your Song

Check out the video for Ellie's cover of Elton John's Your Song. It's simple but effective; the video has a real homely feel to it, and seems to show a real personal side to her, almost as if expressing how she's still human and normal since having been rocketed into fame. None of the passion is lost with her much gentler vocals, a really nice cover in all.

On the Jovi front, it's been a busy couple of weeks! I was at the cinema last night with about 20 other people to watch the New Meadowlands show; I guess there aren't many Bon Jovi fans in Southampton! It felt a bit weird clapping and singing along in a cinema, but by the end it was all good fun. A really cool show too, really showed off the band well, even though it was only ever going to be seen my diehards. The sound wasn't actually too bad in the cinema, a totally new way of watching a concert which I really enjoyed.

In the UK, Bon Jovi are the cover story for the Big Issue, priced at £1.70, with 85p going to the vendor; something I'm sure Jon is all the happier for. There's an a4 sized headshot of him inside sporting a greying beard, but of course he pulls it off.

And on the personal front, I've (Birds In Flight) got a busy next couple of weeks with gigs in Southampton that I'm of course looking forward to. We recorded last week so once it's all mixed and mastered we'll be setting up a Myspace page and I'll be able to share it with you then. For now, have a great weekend :)

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

'Bizarre' Editor slates JBJ once again

Wanted to share this with you all, I know I'm probably giving the editor what he wants by causing a fuss and should ignore people like this but it really makes me angry. In The Sun, UK newspaper today, Gordon Smart who is the editor of the entertainment page Bizarre printed this, another pointless snipe:

"Jon Bon Jovi asked me to help promote his band's new greatest hits album. I was tempted - until I saw him high-five Belle Amie [contestants] on Sunday's X Factor. It was more embarassing than One Direction's pink eye a day earlier [boy band who were made-up a little strange]. He's still Jon Nob Jovi."

In a previous edition, he printed this which I highlighted on this blog:

"Jon Bon Jovi wins a new gong - Nob of the Year. There's no physical award for this, the leather-clad gimp is not worth £12.50 for the frame. Jon Nob Jovi told the Bizarre team that his five nights at London's O2 in 2010 should always be referred to as a residency, not a five-night run. I won't be going to any of his five-night run because he is yesterday's man, his music is dull and he stole his haircut from Lassie."

It's totally pointless and childish; what annoys me is that Gordon Smart is the editor of a page where he pretentiously claims everything in new music or fashion was his idea, or he predicted certain trends would happen. In these pages where he is forever licking the boots of Z-list manufactured popstars, many in fact spawned from the X Factor, he has the audacity to slate such a fine and respectable rockstar who has been in this industry for 27 years, and has since ploughed so much time, effort and money into charity. He is deserved of his time spent in the music industry, yet doesn't sit at home counting his millions but actually gets his hands dirty, helps people in need. Gordon Smart picked on him for literally no reason, it wasn't a provoked attack, and I just basically wanted to share this with Jovination and all fans of this great band. You can disregard it or you can join with me on Twitter asking why he continues to lay into Jon like this. His tag is @goagsieman and his column is a waste of printed space, full of pretentious opinions and not nearly enough 'real music'. As someone who has already attacked him on Twitter said, is he going to be remembered in 25 years? I think not.

Bon Jovi LIVE - One Night Only

I'm still buzzing. I'm still buzzing. Still in shock and awe. Tonight I went to the ITV studios in London along with my girlfriend, as I was lucky enough to win tickets to the intimate filming of this show for ITV. It airs on Saturday night here in the UK at 10.30, and includes a tour of Jon's home and his pub along with interviewing slots. There can't have been more than 200 people in the audience, and I was within arms reach of Jon and Richie when they came down the short catwalk on the stage and did an acoustic section. This included an Elvis cover of That's Alright Mama, When We Were Beautiful (harrowingly wonderful) and Prayer acoustic, which included Jon messing up the second line and starting again. But this summed up the whole mood of the gig; it was so laid back with Jon making jokes and silly faces inbetween songs, but the band were totally on the money when performing, as you'd expect. I feel so privelaged to have been part of something so intimate and to have been so close to Jon and Richie, and I urge to watch the show live or online when it airs, because it was a great gig. When We Were Beautiful and new single What Do You Got had both never been played in the UK either so this made it extra special. When I was walking into the studio, you could hear the band sound-checking What Do You Got, and, on leaving at the end, Obie O' Brien was walking down the corridor, so I jumped at the chance to shake his hand and tell him how great the show was! The set was short, maybe 8-10 songs but it was a fantastic night and, if I'm lucky, I'll spot myself on TV on Saturday :) Just wanted to share with you such an incredible experience.

Bon Jovi's stint on the X Factor on Saturday night was cool, if a little odd. They performed Livin on a Prayer, although the contestants joined them for the choruses which turned the classic anthem into a bit of a drunken karaoke singalong, although was still good fun. Next Thursday I'll be at my local cinema along with Jovination across the globe to watch the screening of The Circle Tour show which I can't wait for; it's a great month to be a Bon Jovi fan!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

No Apologies - Best of the Newbies

It's official, all four new Jovi tracks have been released and, in my humble opinion, No Apologies is the best of the lot and should definitely be the lead single promoting the Greatest Hits. You can check it out here. Here's hoping they'll perform this for X Factor show in the UK on Sunday night after promising 'something special and not to be missed' in their email...we'll see. I'm also eagerly awaiting ticket prices for the UK shows that go on sale tomorrow morning, I really hope it's not another case of the band ripping off their fans. I'm not going to take any kind of stand because I obviously want to see the show, and will begrudgingly spend a lot for tickets, but I just want the best seats and hate that they're suddenly so expensive when two years back I was in the Gold Circle for £35! We're not all on the rockstar salary so here's hoping they don't punish the poor again. I'm a little disappointed at the 'stadium tour' that was seemingly on the cards and we're stuck with a Festival slot, a cricket ground and one stadium in Scotland but apparentely Take That have got all the big stadiums booked for the same period. Stupid boy bands. I can't complain, this tour has seen them play countries that haven't seen the band for decades! Either way, I'm excited but anxious, I hate refreshing ticket sites at 8 in the morning, it's always so stressful, only once they're ordered can I enjoy the thought of another live Bon Jovi show next summer.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

This Week in the Music World

So, it's shaping up to be quite the exciting week in the music world. On Monday, the latest offering from the Kings of Leon titled Come Around Sundown was released. I'm a massive fan of their previous Only By The Night, it's one of my favourite albums and I was intrigued to see the kind of stance they might take. As with quite a lot of bands, I'm not a huge fan of their early stuff but was swept along with the wave of new fans when this came out. Although Come Around Sundown has only had a few listens through it's certainly sounding better each time round. I love having new albums, when you've got so much time to listen out for new things that you didn't hear before and when you're just waiting to be taken on a journey, no idea where the band are planning to take you next. There don't seem to be any massive stand-out Sex on Fire-esque tracks (although the single, Radioactive is pretty catchy) but it's definitely a lot more chilled out and, at the same time, feels a lot more soulful and passionate. Their Nashville roots are clearly identified with such song titles as Pickup Truck and Back Down South, with a slight return to their Countrified compositions but it's definitely standing out to me as a great album for fans and non-fans alike.

Diana Vickers was one of the featured artists on the X Factor this week, which is once more causing a stir between itself and the 'real' music industry and it's fans of 'real' music. Her new single, My Wicked Heart, has come under fire for its chorus being a complete rip-off of the Chili Pepper's Under The Bridge. Although she is qouted to have admitted listening to Under The Bridge before having written the song and being worried about it sounding similar, she then decided not to bother to changing it afterall. Have a listen for yourself, but the melody for the first four lines of the chorus is uncannily similar. The Chili Peppers certainly have a case that would surely stand-up in court, and I believe they are pursuing this root. I actually quite liked her when she appeared on the X Factor as a naive 17 year old daring to be different, with her quirky stage presence and vocal style but she has obviously sold herself to fame and allowed her record company to mould her into something a lot more generic and accepted in order to sell records. The auto-tuning of her single is also far too obvious. Disappointing stuff Miss Vickers.

Diana Vickers - My Wicked Heart

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Under The Bridge

And finally, Bon Jovi are to be presented with the Global Icons Award at next month's MTV Europe Music Awards and I believe they're performing at the ceremony too. Just another one for the trophy cabinet for the band maybe, but it's still great news that they continued to be recognised and celebrated today.

So there's my two-pence for what it's worth, enjoy the rest of your week.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


This is for both fans of music and upcoming independent UK bands/solo artists! Check out Tunebreaker for your chance to enter their competition or to support emerging unsigned UK talent. Here's a brief snippet from the bands section of the site:

TuneBreaker™ is a (global) new music award aimed at emerging and truly independent artists. The TuneBreaker™ Music Award is both unique and innovative in its process (a process we cannot divulge just yet). We are not a corporate funded site looking for quick returns - we are a small team of experienced music industry people and mainly avid young music fans wanting to see a new industry of music. This award is as real and authentic as it comes.

The inaugural TuneBreaker™ Music Award commences in mid-November 2010 with the winner announced before New Year. This first award is only open to Artists and Bands that are resident in Great Britain and Ireland and is limited to a set number of entrants. Artists remember! Whilst you have to be from Great Britain and Ireland, fans can vote for you from anywhere in the world.

The actual 'competition' itself is all being kept quiet at the moment, but is soon to be revealed. In the meantime, if you're an artist then get your band signed up and if you're a lover of music make sure you do to!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Beatitudes, Live @ Soul Cellar, Southampton

I don't often feel the need to blog about a band I've seen live the night before, but I woke up this morning harbouring a desire to share with you my experience last night, and the music of a band that the world needs to just stop what they're doing and listen to. You may remember the New Artist Alert I featured on the guys back in July? That band is Beatitudes. Pronounced Bee-at-itudes, this slick and professional five piece had every foot tapping in Soul Cellar last night. Oh, and did I mention, they could probably give The Beatles a run for their money. A bold statement I'm sure you'll agree, but in a live music scene that continues to churn out the same old acts at the moment, Beatitudes were a breath of fresh air, complete with four-part vocal harmonies, fantastic rock 'n roll guitar licks and just brilliant songs. I can't urge you enough to check the guys out or, even better, catch them live, because I can't help but wonder if the right person gets wind of what these guys are doing, they're going to be huge. In an age where we look to the past when writing songs or buying clothes, Beatitudes skipped the 80's synth-revival train and waited a few more decades at the station for the classic rock 'n roll sound, whilst adding just a little sprinkle of the here and now to give their super-tight sound a real classy shimmer. Suited and booted, they are NOT a band to miss, so have a listen on their Myspace page or check them out on Facebook.
Excuse the personal plug, but they'll be supported at their next gig by my band Birds in Flight and The Sharps at The Joiners in Southampton on Friday 12th November :)

Friday, 1 October 2010

These Days: A Personal Reflection To My Favourite Album

Inspiration has been a little thin on the ground recently, so I apologise for the lack of posting although I'll blame it for now on having started back at uni this week. However, in the meantime, I wanted to do a little feature on my favourite Bon Jovi album, and probably the fans' favourite too: These Days. This album had always been my favourite, even before discovering it was generally considered the band's best offering by casual fans and die-hards alike. It's now 15 years old which is quite unbelievable, but I guess all classic albums stand the test of time, whether they were written to or not. It was always a special one for Bon Jovi, as it reflected the real maturing of the band as song-writers, and also signficantly was their final studio release until they all got their hair cut and burst into the new millenium five years later with chart-friendly It's My Life from Crush, sparking a whole new generation of fans (including this one). It was also the first album since the departure of Alec John Such, the band's original bass player, to be replaced by 'session player' Hugh 'Huge' McDonald, although I don't know anyone that doesn't consider him an actual member of the band. There's a really nice moment in the 1995 Live in London tour DVD where Jon excitedly announces that the album has 'knocked Michael Jackson off the top spot' of the album charts, and did particularly well in the UK with 4 top-ten singles. I wanted to feature a few highlights for me from the album, so here goes...

Track 1, Hey God, is definitely an attention-grabber. You might expect the title-track to be the crowning feature, but the sultry piano intro doesn't catch your ears as much as Jon's spoken "OK we ready?" with a snap of Tico's drumsticks followed by his reply, "Just about" and Jon's final "Let's go" before Richie's huge opening riff kicks off the album. Before I'd grasped the concept of 'characters within songwriting' I always wondered, when I was a lot younger I'm hasten to add, how Jon could really be asking "Hey God, do you ever think about me?", considering the band's global success. Shedding my naive thoughts along with my tender years, I later understood the grasp of creating characters rather than Jon singing from a first-person perspective.

Track 2, Something For The Pain has been making a comeback recently which is nice to see; I think anything performed from These Days is appreciated by Jovi fans and the winding, lyric-heavy breakdown is perfect, whilst track 3, This Ain't A Love Song, broke the boundaries of the usual Jovi love-songs, although still managed to make its mark as a ballad.

At Track 4 we reach the title track, and it's definitely a highlight on the album. The heartfelt verses mixed with the uplifting choruses find the perfect balance of emotions; whilst it still maintains itself as a piano-based ballad, it's definitely got the foundation of a classic rock stadium song. For the Lost Highway tour, Richie took to singing lead vocals for These Days (as featured below) and I just remember being totally blown away hearing his soulful voice gracing such a fantastic song. The intricate differences in phrasing and the slight nuances as compared to Jon's vocals gave the song a whole new feel, and I'm still undecided as to which I actually prefer.

And how about an acoustic version?

My favourite part in track 5, Lie To Me, is as the second verse comes in, and Richie sings two lines of backing vocals in response to Jon: "I don't wanna die no more". It's always stood out as a highlight of the album and I'm not sure why really as it seems quite insignificant, maybe it's just the beautiful tone of Richie's vocals. Track 6, Damned, is a real funky dirty groovy number, and includes one of my favourite ever Richie solos which has really got to be felt to be appreciated.

Track 7, My Guitar Lies Bleeding In My Arms, is another interesting lyric almost in the same vain as This Ain't A Love Song; "I can't write a love song/The way I feel today/And I can't sing no song of hope/I got nothing to say". It's always one of very few live videos I've found where there are more than one obvious mistake, as you'll see in the video below. Whether it's problems with sound onstage I don't know, or maybe it was just a bad omen Richie brought when putting his hair in a ponytail, either way they deal with it well and get through the song unscathed, except for a few definite 'stink-eyes' shot about the stage!

Track 8 sees Jon's first solo writing contribution on the album, (It's Hard) Letting You Go which I love to sing and play myself. It fits so perfectly within the darkened feeling of the album, and is also nice to hear a Jovi song not in 4/4. Hearts Breaking Even at track 9 has always been in the shadows for me, but possibly because I know that the next track is my favourite ever Bon Jovi song. Something To Believe In was my favourite song from the first time I heard Richie's "Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!", which set off the feeling for the track that I can't quite explain; a somewhat misty, brazen feel. It's again so dark and moody but has this great funky bridge section which almost sounds out of place but isn't, and also showcases a fantastic note held by Jon for what seems like forever before a raspy, yelpy scream ends it which has never been recreated live with the same effect. And the solo, especially the extended live version, is amazing.

The last few tracks of the album wind it up wonderfully; If That's What It Takes filling the last thumping spot whilst Diamond Ring is dripping with romanticism, conjuring images of dark, smokey rooms lit only by candlelight. And finally, Bitter Wine caps off Bon Jovi's greatest, darkest and most heartfelt creation to date. It's, of course, a classic album to be left off of all 'classic album' lists and snubbed by Rolling Stone or Q Magazine, but it'll always be mine, and the fan's, favourite ever offering, and that's got to be worth more to the band than any countdown or opinion poll.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Amelie: The Soundtrack

I feel inspired to write a short piece just sharing the most beautiful soundtrack to a wonderful film. Amelie is a fantastic piece of French cinema, possibly the most popular and accepted of my generation, and I've included a couple of tracks below that really hold their own without playing second fiddle to the scenary you're supposed to be concentrating on, or the characters you're supposed to be watching. I hope you enjoy them, and if you haven't seen the film I urge you to do so. The fact that it's in French with subtitles puts a lot of people off, but you get used to it and besides, it's so well shot and indeed crafted you find youself often not taking notice of the words at all but instead getting lost among the alien tongue.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

EP Review: The Sharps - Midnight State

Drawing inspiration as far between Bruce Springsteen and Jimi Hendrix and described by Norwich Playhouse as "One of Norfolk's most exciting bands", The Sharps are an energetic 4-piece pop-rock outfit who describe their music as "combining solid driving rhythms and riffs with catchy and melodic tunes and harmonies". Fresh out of the studio after having recorded their latest EP, Midnight State, the boys last night officially released the CD in Norwich with an EP launch show. I've had a listen to the 3-track offering, and include my usual track-by-track guide below.

1/Midnight State - This honed and polished song sits proudly as the title track to the EP, and rightfully deserves its crowning spot. The driving rhythm section push alongside occasional funky stabs of guitar whilst the vocals are confident and strong throughout the verse. When pushed, and I'm not sure they'll particularly like the comparison, the vocals remind me of Danny Jones from McFly but that's not necessarily a bad thing! The chorus is fantastic; sloshing hi-hats and a great riff as the vocals keep everything grounded and really get my foot tapping. A definite highlight of the song for me is syncopated alternate-panning guitars after the first chorus, leading into a slight solo break before dropping into the second verse, where backing vocals are explored and help to build the song further still. This band sound brilliant; really tight and totally aware of how to construct a song and I'm sure their live show reflects this. The solo is cool although short-lived and the break-down section has a great relaxed feel to it whilst the energetic tempo is maintained well throughout. If there's one song that sums up the band this is it, definitely worth a listen.

2/Pull Me Out - The bass takes centre stage as it begins the song alone, before being joined by a great funky wah-wah guitar. The verse is equally as strong and energetic as its predecessor and a chorus that I can't really compare to any other sound. I love the feel when the guitar drops out leaving the drums and vocals to primarily carry the groove and the syncopated rhythm explored after this is sure to get the crowd moving. If the band are to be credited for anything, it's surely got to be their song-writing. Another great solo, this time with a little help from a Cry Baby, wails out before we're back around for another final chorus, where you can't fail to notice the driving distorted guitar and soaing ooh's in the backing vocals before finishing up on a vocal note that's sitting right at the top of the tree; this guy's range is great and again only adds to the band's sound.

3/Is He A Fool - This band is all about the lead guitar; the lead lines are ingenious and add years onto the tender age of the musician, displaying a talent that sounds so professional. I get a bit of a Chili Pepper's feel with this final track, with a great sounding chord progression used in the verses and a driving yet ballad-feel in the choruses. The solo break before the second verse made me smile, it just sounds that good! The falsetto vocals and supportive backing vocals really strengthen the minimal choruses and I love the sweeping cuts after the second chorus in the following section. It's been threatening to burst out since the first few seconds and this song definitely needs to release the lead guitar along a long, winding road which, to round off the song and indeed the EP, it does. My only criticism is of the very last note that the guitar slides to at the end of the solo as it sounds slightly brash and was seemingly already resolved but nonetheless this EP is a great showcase to a brilliantly tight and imaginative young band.

I urge to have a listen for yourself to the Midnight State EP, either by visiting the band's Facebook page or their Myspace page where you can also check out their latest gigs. Although hailing from Norfolk, they are in fact situated all-over the Country so are sure to be playing near you soon!

Friday, 10 September 2010

New Artist Alert: All About Flux

All About Flux are a great young pop-punk band from the South West, with loads of gigging and recording experience all over the UK. Check out their awesome video of their first release, On That Night; catchy and lots of fun I'm sure you'll agree!

For more info on the band, check out their website here!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Greatest Hits Sleeve

Bon Jovi released the sleeve for their Greatest Hits CD via Facebook today, plus an interesting picture of Jon and model Michelle Alves sporting the design on her top. Tonight promises the release of the double-CD track-listing. It's a cool cover and definitely suits the 'greatest hits' feel; a real classic colour scheme although I've always been a fan of the more complicated heart and dagger graphic over the simplified, cartoony one used below.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

New Artist Alert: Amy Heffernan

Currently living in Alberta, Canada, Amy Heffernan started out her musical life as a drummer. She has since switched the sticks for her great sounding vocals; one that I've recently been indulging myself with. Her self-titled debut EP was written whilst living in South LA, whilst her latest offering - a full album titled 'Being Awesome' - was written in sunny California. Heffernan cites Robyn, Juliet and the Romantiques and Lady Gaga as inspirations to her; the latter offered an honorary nod to the tune of a Just Dance cover on the album. The vocals displayed here are confident, with hints of both a raw-folkish feel and a strong pop influence; it's definitely well worth a listen.

The title track, Being Awesome, is a punchy, upbeat pop/rock number and leads the album well. The vocals sound quite different which I like, not your stereotypical sound but something that really needs to be heard first hand to be appreciated. The chorus maintains the song's overall punch with a radio-friendly undertone and a well built structure. The song doesn't allow much chance to subside; its relentless drive is infectious and powerful, constantly maintaining the listener's interest. Even the breakdown/bridge section holds onto the 'four-to-the-floor' foot-tapping groove before bursting into an uplifting modulation (that's a key change to any non-musos!) for a final go round the chorus. It's got quite a Pink feel to it but I get the Lady Gaga reference in there too. Overall a really strong pop/rock tune.

Another stand-out track on the album is 'Used To Be A Light'. With a cool palm-muted guitar pattern and driving hi-hat groove, Heffernan's vocals sound fantastic over the first verse. The chorus is once more full-on and catchy, but it's definitely in the verses that the vocals stand out for what they really are; it's a slightly more intimate side Heffernan is letting us see. The breakdown is also great for this; her band sound fab and the vocal performances on the album really set this off as an overall great listen for fans of anything from the female pop and rock acts of today. She's definitely a versatile and widely-appealling artist.

To check out Amy Heffernan's digital press kit, and to have a sample listen to the album and her debut EP, click here or, alternatively, check out her Myspace page for a tour date near you.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

My Bon Jovi Cover

I decided to do a cover and post it on Youtube. It's of Bon Jovi's (It's Hard) Letting You Go. It's not something I've done before; although I often enjoy singing and playing a bit of guitar I've never thrown it into the cyber abyss, as it were. Nevertheless, your thoughts and comments are welcome :)

Monday, 30 August 2010

Am I A Music Snob?!

I feel a little worried. A little weird, and slightly strange. I just don't seem to get it like everyone else apparentely totally is. Let me explain. Last night, I watched the Reading and Leeds highlights. This seems to be an annual thing, because I remember exhibiting the same feelings almost exactly one year ago when I saw the footage of the Arctic Monkeys and just remember thinking 'what the hell has happened to these guys?!'

The highlights that were aired last night was of bands that are obviously popular right now, but want I don't understand is, well exactly that; what is popular right now. Bands like The Drums; they just seem to be all about the image, of the band as a whole and of the musicians individually but, and this is just my opinion, the music sounds awful. Just like it was an after-thought; 'well we've got the image, now maybe we could try writing a song?'

Disappointment was also on the cards, for of the 'comeback' acts that were performing at the festivals (2 out of the 3 headliners infact) I was gutted at the overall performances. I used to love Guns n Roses but, and to be fair, Axl Rose has still got an alright-sounding voice, he could barely finish a single line without losing the last few syllables to general out-of-breathness. And obviously the rest of the line-up was made up of session players; the drummer seeming to be more of an R&B performer rather than a heavy metal tyrant. And of Blink 182, I was dumbfounded at the sheer state of Tom Delonge's voice; I mean, he never was the world's greatest singer, and I only heard 'I miss you', but his vocals were absolutely awful, just so broken and screechy and all over the place, generally out of key. Why did these bands feel the need to cash-in on a comeback? Why not quit while you're at the top of your game, leaving the lasting memories of your legacies of when you were at your best. If Bon Jovi came back in ten years time, as Jon Bon Jovi and session players, him out of breath and having put on weight, squeezing into a leather shirt and cowboy hat, I wouldn't go anywhere near it. In fact, I'd be gutted.

In short, I am worried I am becoming a music snob. I saw a great performance from Paramore, and have only heard good things of Mumford & Sons. I like to think I have a diverse taste in music; there are very few styles or even sub-genres that I dislike, but the point is, I know what I like, and it just doesn't seem to be what everyone else likes. I don't claim to be a fan of the purely avant-garde and obscure, and obviously the bands I do like have decent enough fanbases, but I don't know many of the artists that are in the charts because it's all the same regurgitated dance crap and I just can't stand the new-wave of 80s inspired synth bands and the image-mongrels cluttering up the festival circuits. Again, this is just my opinion (and, upon re-reading, a seemingly angry one at that!) and I don't want to offend fans of all the new stuff that's going on. At the end of the day at least they're out there making a living and I can only dream of one day following in their footsteps. I can only hope that, when I do, I make enough of an impact as bands such as Green Day, Bon Jovi, The Stones, etc; enabling me to span across generations, and through the changing tides, remaining strong and constant and still apparent when everything else around me is changing. One can only hope.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Album Review: Good Morning Milo - Through The Chaos & Clatter (Part Two)

Glad to see you're back for more, I knew you couldn't get enough of California's hottest six-piece right now! Here's part two of Good Morning Milo's album review, Through The Chaos Clatter.

9/Safe - I love the guitar work at the beginning of the song, it's a really nice progression with a great chilled-out feel as the drums drop in. As the vocals enter, so too does a gentle piano-arpeggio slightly behind the mix in a really suited place. It's a really passionate feeling song, as believable vocals perform alongisde a strong guitar part and you can't help but taking notice of the lyrics. The chorus is obvious and simple, but this is why it's perfect. The commerical-sound is one a lot of bands try to get away from but, at the end of the day, radio stations aren't going to play your music if their listeners won't like it. The guitar solo sounded a little wimpy; the idea was great but the execution not so, the sound just needed to be a lot fuller. The acoustic guitar section really highlights the talent in the vocals before we're back around for one last chorus, although the outro sounded a little unecessary again; ending on either just the chorus or returning to the original guitar part from the beginning would have worked, but I wasn't sure about the drums and electric guitar dropping in for just one bar. However, a really nice song overall.

10/Loving Without Argument - The drums hint at a shuffle feel to track ten, although fall in with a straight beat as the song starts up. It's a really grooving track and I love the feel of the chorus; the driving rhythm section alongside the high-pitched guitar riff really pushes it along. The shuffle feel is revisited in the latter half of the song; whilst the structure of this song is a little unorthodox but that's by no means a negative observation. It feels as if a lot of musical ideas have been bunched together and, although they don't necessarily sound out of place, it might have sounded slightly more convincing had they taken a leaf out of Green Day's book and bore in mind Jesus of Suburbia; making the song longer to accommodate the sections better, and perhaps revisiting more of them to add a feeling a continuity.

11/Waiting - This song takes a little while to kick in, with the drums and guitar parts sounding a little sparse for the first minute and counting, before the chorus comes around. At this point, it turns into a good song; a riff-driven number that exploits a lot of the band's usual trends; high energy, strong vocals and a believeable performance. I like the piano arpeggio section as the song breaks down before coming back in with a great-sounding guitar solo; it just sounds a lot fuller than it has done previously. The songs are definitely very imaginative and well thought-out by Good Morning Milo; they're well crafted and it shows.

12/Battle For The Nice Guy - From the very first second my feet and head are tapping along in unison; it's a great opening gambit. The verses are built with acoustic guitar and a moderate pace, and I like the electric guitar's outbursts. It's another big sing-along chorus and, therefore, another sure crowd pleaser. The breakdown is simply vocals with a hi-hat keeping time and it's all that's needed; it's a simple song with an effective hook and cool ideals.

13/Mr Robot Man - I love the synth intro, it's someting different again from the band that don't like to get too comfortable with one particular sound or idea and that's great. This song sounds really strong and something I could completely imagine on the radio or flicking through the rock video-channels. The electro hints with the synths and seldom with the vocal effects give it that little something extra and lift it up above your average rock song. In fact I think it almost sounds like a movie sound-track; I really like this song. The drums and indeed entire structure of the song are imaginative and the vocal performance is flawless. It feels like it's a lot longer than four minutes long, perhaps because so many ideas are packed in, and this song acts really well in picking up the very slight lull 3/4 of the way through the album.

14/Sunshine - I'm parcticularly keen to listen out for this track, not least of all because it's the very final track, the last offering, the final goodbye, but because it's been flagged as a 'suggested' song to listen to. So, is it going to sum up the band's sound as a whole and capture all of the many positives I've discovered along my journey with Good Morning Milo? At first, the characteristic energy isn't apparent but there's always room for that later. When the vocals come in I realise it's a clever and heart-felt part-cover of the lullaby 'You Are My Sunshine'. The vocals are, once more, perfect here; if there's been a constant throughout this album it's definitely the talent that the vocals produce. I feel that, when the full-band come in, I'd have preferred a surprise sudden impact rather than a little hint as the drums build up. It's grown into a really strong little song that encapsulates the album wonderfully; it's displayed the band's subtlety, passion, energy and reservedness in one fell swoop whilst showcasing the distinguishing vocals for what they are. It is actually the perfect end to a fantastic album that isn't necessarily without opinonated flaws, but is generally a great showcase for a fantastic sounding band with a bright future ahead of them. I'll be keeping my eyes and ears open for sure.

Although there are no published tour dates yet, and seemingly no plans to come to England in the near future, the band are working on getting back out on the road. I really get the feeling that this band are all about their fans, and that they really are the reason they're doing this.

You can have a preview of all the songs featured in both posts here and be sure to check out the band's Myspace page for the latest info on tour dates. Go forth and enjoy!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Album Review: Good Morning Milo - Through The Chaos & Clatter (Part One)

Good Morning Milo are a fresh and exciting new band from San Diego, CA. They are an "an upbeat group of musicians that write songs about combating the obstacles in our lives that prevent our happiness" and I've recently been wrapping my ears around their infectious tunes. Their latest album, Through The Chaos Clatter has found its way into my playlist and below, as per, you can check out my track-by-track review. Be sure to stay tuned for Part two where I'll delve into the latter half of the album.

1/Pickup Lines - I love the first track of an album. The anticipation is mounting as iTunes figures everything out in 0s and 1s; my fingers poised at the keyboard and waiting. I think every album should start with drums, as Pickup Lines does here. It's energetic, it grabs you and really makes me want to listen. The guitar intro plays around a progressive riff-based kick with long changes in between the chords, before the initial hook of the song drops in on the lead guitar line. I feel this is shaping up to be a musical introduction, before the real album begins. It's a cool trend to follow and could be 'their thing'; starting each album and even live show with a musical opener.

2/Win Her - The segue is flawless as Win Her comes in unnoticed. On top of the band now stabbing away with the same chord progression - held in check with a punchy snare - the lead vocals burst in and the album is really underway. I like the confident feel that the vocals produce; an assured style that boasts hints of Country when it really lets loose. The song has really grown since the chorus hit; each musician straying away from their regimented intros and off exploring their own musical paths. It was great to pick out the synth in the second verse and hear it sticking around for the second chorus; the song is still building and the chorus has a great hook, whilst the overall feel of the song captures a great enthusiasm for music in general. I don't often like dual-layered guitar lines but it works in the breakdown section, as the drums and bass furiously build behind them. The solo feels short lived but this song is definitely about the chorus. As the breakdown builds before the final chorus the drums sound a little sloppy, just trailing behind the rest of the band but once the last chorus does come back around they catch up no problem. At exactly three and a half minutes, I love the ending, rounding off my first real encounter with the band.

3/Settling - This a really upbeat, frenzied and full-on pop/rock number. The dual-layered vocals idea is used again here and continues to work perfectly, as the verses build on top of great-sounding guitar parts that really showcase the song-writing capabilities of this band. It's a really commercial sounding song and the chorus has a great laid-back feel with the vocal melodies whilst maintaining the energy of the verses. The falsetto vocals sound just as strong as the initial range which is important; often a falsetto vocal can sound noticeably weaker. The bridge section isn't the strongest part of the song but works well as a link before the last chorus, which is bigger than its predecessors with the noticable inclusion of the synth in the mix. The fade-out definitely adds to the 'radio-friendly' feel of the track and is the perfect ending.

4/To Kill A Songbird - I love the funky solo groove at the beginning of this track and the acoustic guitar part works really well alongside as the track builds to the first verse. The disco-feel pre-chorus has a cool feel and although musically the song is quite busy with quick funky drums, picky guitar and fast-paced vocals it all seems to gel together well. The vocals themselves have a slight Brandon Boyd feel and the bridge section feels a lot more thought-out; once more the harmonies in the vocals are obviously well-considered. The sparse glockenspiel part sounds slighty atonal; I'm sure it's written with the home key in mind but I'm not keen on its placement in this particular song, it sounds like more of an after-thought. The choruses are really strong and I can imagine this being a real crowd-rousing number. I wasn't so sure of the outro section, the guitar-riff sounded a little amateurish and generally unnecessary whilst I thought it would have been better just ending on the final chorus.

5/Number One Killer - I like the feel the drums go for in this song, but feel they needed to be boosted a little more in the mix to stand up on their own, to make up for the lack of a sloshing hi-hat and the snare itself sounded a little dry. The groove though lends itself to the song well and it's nice to hear a drummer exploring and daring to be a little different rather than settling with the same feel for every song. The guitar work is simple but effective, and the choruses build well in two seperate parts and my head is definitely nodding along with the more metal-inspired guitar work. This song carries on the Incubus feel in my opinion, although I didn't like the melisma in the elongated vocal line halfway though the track; it would have sounded stronger had the vocalist just held the note without wavering. The piano really stands its ground after the solo section and is a welcome inclusion, once more displaying the song-writing abilities of the group and their understanding of song structures. The outro is really nice, as everything falls away leaving the drums easing off as the vocals and piano round off the song. A really nice touch and I've really enjoyed this song.

6/Feel The Crash - I think the piano player has staked a big claim for his place in the band, as he kicks off Feel The Crash, accompanying a really nice, heart-felt vocal. The cello is the perfect addition as the second verse comes around, the vocals now displaying more a Plain White Tees tone. It's really nice to take a step back from the full-on energetic numbers this band writes so well with a beautiful piano ballad.

7/The Proposal - An interesting intro greets me at the half-way point of the album. It blends into chugging electric guitar and a real electro drone before kicking into a great big riff laden, open hi-hat explosion complete with dual-guitars leading into...

8/Engaged - ...another cool segue as track 8 bursts in. The energy of the band are certainly back from the bar, joining the singer who's been here since the start and they're ready to go again. The sections of songs are often fast-paced, and so the subtle hints of the half-time feels every so often work really well to neutralise this and give the respective tracks a well-rounded feel. I like the syncopated disco grooves used; the song is a bit of a mix of styles which is great, it certainly doesn't feel odd or over the top. There's a lot of angst and passion in the solo section which really comes across strongly to the listener and I love the synth role as it comes in just after, once more building the final stages of the song. The best way to describe the song is, I think, organised chaos.

Be sure to stay tuned and check back soon for Part 2 of the review!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Dear Mr President

Don't quite know why I felt the need to do an anti-Bush post. It might not be your thing and that's cool, but individually these are all great songs with great messages.

Pink/Dear Mr President

Bon Jovi/Have A Nice Day

Green Day/American Idiot

Sheryl Crow/God Bless This Mess

Monday, 16 August 2010

EP Review: The City Calls - Dirty Tricks

The City Calls are a cool, fresh pop-punk band from Southampton. I caught them supporting Army of Freshman recently and have to say their set was brilliant; extremely tight and professional stuff. I got in touch and got my hands on their latest EP entitled Dirty Tricks, for which you can read a track-by-track review of below.

Track 1/Heroics - An explosion of noise grabs me like the start of any EP should do and makes way for a cool guitar/pulsating-kick drum intro. The arrangement and overall feel reminds me of the All American Rejects, whilst the vocals have a Patrick Stump tinge to them. I like the feel of the distant lead vocal lines hiding at the back of the mix giving the verse a little more as it's otherwise quite sparse with minimal guitars and grooving drums. Already the tightness of the band's song-writing and overall musicality is striking; the chorus is precise and punchy and the presence of the bass in the second verse is definitely welcomed. It's a cleverly built arrangement and the introductions of new parts layered within each new section is cool. The drum sound is great in the breakdown section; often big cymbal parts can sound washy and overpowering but the mix is spot on. I thought my iTunes had skipped on after a sudden end to the song, but was caught out when the chorus came back in, after the sound of a radio tuning! A cool and fun pop-punk song.

Track 2/It's Your Fault - The instant hook of the backing vocals in this song takes me back to the live show; it's a great thing when the whole band are singing and really filling out a song and it works perfectly here. Straight into the verse and the backing vocals are further explored, harmonising with single phrases which support the lead vocals well. It's a great singalong chorus and perfect for new and old fans alike. The rhythm section holds the verses down as the guitar builds throughout but I wasn't keen on the solo harmonic guitar lines before the second chorus; they downplayed the song a little for my liking. The breakdown/middle 8 section is really grooving though; it showcases the drums well and has a great feel to it. Definitely a crowd pleaser.

Track 3/Flaunt It - The All American Rejects feel is still apparent, now with a touch of Panic! At The Disco, although I never got into pop-punk massively so my knowledge is quite general. Having said that, I can certainly appreciate a hard-working band who know exactly where they're going in terms of the sound they create and The City Calls are definitely that band. Flaunt It is another great example of that, with big energetic drums, great vocal harmonies and cool guitar work. Within the context of an EP, the track blends in a bit but it's certainly nice to hear a guitar solo, especially one that dares to last longer than four bars. The chorus is strong and the ending surprising yet clever.

Track 4/Those Eyes - With a name as such and this position on the EP, I'm almost expecting more of a ballad here before the final song packs the knock-out punch. This is the anticipation I feel as the song is loading up anyway, but the opening riff doesn't set the scene I had in mind. I really like the feel of the pre-choruses though and I think it's as close as I'm going to get to a 'ballad' from a pop-punk band. The chorus sounds great; definitely a compromising mix of pop-punk punch with the calmer feel I felt I needed and the vocals sound great here. The breakdown is another great vocal showcase as the bass and kick-drum tie the song down; a song that's threatening to break free into an explosive solo...which is exactly what it does so there's a big tick from me in the listener's point of view. The half-time final chorus is once again expected but that's not a bad thing; it's important to give the listener what they want and sometimes an obvious twist is the best bet.

Track 5/Get Away(acoustic) - Aside step the walls of noise and crashing cymbals, the big riffs and pumping bass. This is a side I didn't experience at the live show and it's a welcome feel at the end of the EP. The acoustic guitar work is really nice and although it's still feels as if written as a pop-punk song, it works great as an acoustic number. Once again the backing vocals really take the song into new territory, they provide that little something extra that really make the song. I find myself listening, I mean really listening, not just part-listening, part-thinking, part-typing and realise that a good chunk of the song has passed without me thinking much apart from just enjoying the composition. It's unexpected yet welcomed and, in my opinion, the perfect end to a fantastic EP that showcases a band brimming with talent and energy. Definitely a name to watch!

The City Calls have, of course, got a Myspace page which I urge you to visit to check out their upcoming shows and have a listen to them yourself. You can check out Heroics, plus an acoustic version of It's Your Fault and a preview of the entire Dirty Tricks EP. Enjoy, and try and catch a live show soon :)

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

EP Review: The Joe Public - This Army

The Joe Public's latest release comes in the form of 5-track EP This Army. A swanky little cardboard case with some cool graphics adds to their growing professional image and reputation, and the EP certainly doesn't disappoint on the audio side either. And let's face it, that's the most important part. Hopefully you've already got yourself a copy, but if not, here's hoping my track by track review below will ensure your next few clicks are along to the iTunes store to order it for yourself!

Track 1/This Army - It's the title track, so I want to be shaken up and made to listen. I'm a drummer; it's a drum fill that introduces the EP. Cool, I'm already interested. It's an easy-going riff-driven intro that leads nicely into the first verse. I get the feeling that the track is better live, as the vocals sound a little distant from the rest of the band almost, but as soon as the chorus kicks in Jake Meeking's vocal talent is displayed in all its glory. The bass and drums really drive the verses which are cleverly layered; dropping in hints of guitar before the chorus kicks in once more and I love the little drop into the bridge section/solo. It's incredibly minimal before the chorus is back once more; I'm not sure if, as the listener, it was perfect or if I was really crying out for something bigger, longer, just a bit more mental. A few more listens will, I'm sure, satisfy my hunch, and the half-time outro is cool.

Track 2/Elements - Layers is the key theme here at the moment as far as I'm concerned; the intro is once more built up as the verse strips back but it's definitely a tried and tested method and certainly works well. The vocals here are beautiful, almost haunting, and the guitar work in general is superb; really nice picky riffs, one behind the other with a mixture of acute sliding notes and volume sweeps which really set the mood for the track. The chorus doesn't hit me as hard as others have done but this is perfect; sometimes easing into the chorus is just what the song calls for and that's definitely the case with Elements. I had to listen through to the solo twice; once more it's short and although it starts off as you might expect there's an almost atonal movement in the latter part which, although musically-speaking doesn't clash, somehow feels like it does to me as a listener. But then again, I'm just a listener and not a guitar player. Feeding back into the next part is a nice little showcase of the band's song-writing abilities and the final chorus is equally pleasant and transporting. I really like this song and again, can't wait to hear the live version.

Track 3/Riffola - With a name like this, I'm not sure whether to expect a stagnent opening riff that is very much the basis of the song or...not perhaps. In actual fact twenty seconds of dark, flangy guitar work parts to a broken snare fill into a huge opening section; the cymbals are really washy and dull, in fact the entire sound of the kit is as if a lo-fi compressor has been dropped from a great height, giving the effect of hearing the drummer play along in the next room which happens to be made of very thick glass. It's a great feel and really compliments the sound that the band are attempting to establish. Anyway, back to the song, the drums are now back in the room and the bright hi-hats married with the swampy bass create a really nice rhythmic-atmosphere. It's an interesting choice to put an instrumental on an album, let alone a five-track EP and I can feel it's place seems most at home leading into a track onstage. That's not to say, however, it isn't suited for the EP because I think it definitely works. As a piece of music it's dark yet clever and I like it.

Track 4/Heightened - A contrasting fun and funky riff opens up after a little sampled something (an unidentifiable female voice?) which pulls up the whole mood of the EP and I feel myself sitting up and really listening again. The melody of the riff is almost Indian and wouldn't sound out of place if played on a sitar, exploring some strange fusion of Eastern and Western musical cultures. The drums are driving along in the verse with short stabs of low bass and strong vocals. They're short and re-visit the main riff often...but I'm fooled, second time round they take a left turn and lead me down a winding guitar-laden path...and then the riff's back in. It's clever and interesting, provably not predictable which is important. The bass then takes a more prominent position, the stabbing notes a lot higher up the neck and, therefore, more sonically audible which again adds to the layering affect the band seem to have perfected. I love the backing vocals feeding the lead vocals towards the end and the big finish; it's a great and masterminded ending.

Track 5/Take It Back (Bonus Track) - The final track kicks a great Muse-feeling verse with driving bass/guitar riff before the lead guitar hints back to the original riff leaving the bass chugging along on its own. The vocals are once more strong and believeable and my head's nodding more to this one than it has done previously. The track just sounds great, there's no other way to describe it really. The riffs pack a great rhythmic punch along with the drums throughout and the vocals really do sound special. Midway through the momentum momentarily drops but I'm not left lost for long; the chorus is back and is as big as ever. I wasn't expecting the winding, half-time solo section but I love the level of the guitar in the mix, it's perfect. The double-chorus at the end and the final hints of the great riff really top the track and indeed the EP as a whole off brilliantly; it's a cool ending and I want to go straight back to track one.

Don't forget to check out The Joe Public for yourself on their Myspace page or have a listen to the EP for yourself at their ReverbNation page. But please make sure if you do go and have a free listen that you support new and upcoming music and buy yourself a copy from the iTunes store and even get along to a show near you! Enjoy :)

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

New Tracks from The Joe Public

The Joe Public's latest EP This Army has been released on iTunes, and you can listen to the tracks on their Reverb Nation page.

I'll of course feature a review of the EP in its entirety soon :)

Monday, 9 August 2010

The Internet: A Blessing or a Curse?

I've felt inspired recently to write an article about the one thing us bloggers would be lost without: The Internet. Without this medium, we'd have no means with which to express ourselves and post our thoughts and opinions into the unknown, counting on strangers to read and, hopefully, agree with us. People are now able to make a living based just on maintaing a successful blog, with the help of advertising revenue and many others gain free tickets/clothes/event invites in exchange for posting their opinions about said freebies. But the internet is often regarded as a bit of blessing in disguise for musicians and music fans. Or is it?

It is documented now that CD sales have been overtaken by the sales of digital downloads, sparking fears that the death of the CD is nigh. For me, this would be tragic. I'm all about holding the physical representation in my hand, reading the lyrics and looking at photos in the booklet, putting my sound system on and enjoying the music as it's meant to be heard; not through tiny headphones that cut all the top and bottom end of the mix out or aloud on my mobile so it's just a tinny, poppy mess. Artist revenue is also taking a bashing; such readily available music means the pirates strike and steal, because illegally downloading an album somehow doesn't seem as serious as walking into HMV and nicking one from there. But it's exactly the same. I know music fans and even musicians who still illegally download music which really angers me; you're literally depriving like-minded people of their musical income, and I'm sure if you were famous you'd hate to have your music stolen. On the flip side to this of course is the promotion that sites like Myspace allow upcoming bands who would otherwise never be able to get their music heard, and the giving away of music (think Prince or Radiohead for instance) whose careers rely solely on the income from ticket sales and merchandise.

It's a tricky one. Some people follow the philosophy that if they're stealing from an established artist, in their head it's OK but if they're unsigned then they will happily pay for their music. Bon Jovi have certainly had a hell of a lot of my money over the years, and are still re-releasing albums with a few bonus tracks and new artwork to make us hardcore fans feel the need to buy their entire back catalogue over again. But at the same time, I'd still feel bad for stealing from them. As a musician myself, without Myspace I'd have to rely solely on word of mouth when my new band starts gigging in the coming months; building a fanbase and creating a following in my city and this is of course how it used to be. Seemingly it has come full circle and the way to now get noticed is to once more gig the hell out of London and other large cities before being spotted by an A&R rep. Well that's the idea anyway.

There's certainly a lot of downsides for the musicians themselves, but how about the fans? All of a sudden, there is an encyclopedia of music at our fingertips. We can listen to hundreds of new bands everyday, we can have our browsing habits monitored so that next time we care to shop at Amazon, they've reccommended some artists we might like based on what we were looking at last time. And most importantly, musicians are no longer untouchable anymore. You can follow Ellie Goulding on Twitter, tag her in an update and she might reply. You've made a connection, and Hayley Williams from Paramore and John Mayer and even Bon Jovi are at it too; artists are now more accessible than ever thanks to the internet. For fans, being even one tiny step closer to your favourite artists is great, but actually socialising with them? Unheard of! Suddenly it's not just the upcoming artists interacting with their fans, it's those at the top of the food chain as well and whether it's day-to-day chat or opinons saught on new material or even promoting gigs directly to the consumer, it's perfect for musicians and fans alike.

Without the internet, our world would be a very different place. If the internet died an irriversible death today, the world would be doomed. We rely on it individually, companies and businesses rely on it, everything and everyone relies on the internet in one way or another. For music, it's easy for artists to knock it and claim it has destroyed the music industry as we know it, but nothing's been destroyed; it's merely changed. As a musician, I know generating an income is harder than ever, let alone getting a record company to notice me; but the fact that I can network with potential fans and throw my music into the abyss, enabling hundreds or thousands of people to stumble across it and listen to me; amazing. As a fan, to think that artists I love are reading what I have to say and even sometimes responding, connecting with me as a person; amazing. So all in all, in my opinion, this technological revolution ain't all that bad.

What do you think? Has the internet helped the music industry or left it floundering for life and unable to compete? Leave me a comment and share your thoughts with the cyber world!

Saturday, 31 July 2010

New Artist Alert: SJ

For the second installment of my 'Uni Friends Specials' of my New Artist features, meet SJ; a singer/song-writer from Cambridge who's first offering, 'Lost in the Dark', is ready for you to hear. It's a cool electro-pop tune which display's SJ's great vocals and song-writing skills. It's rich with samples mixed with cool electric guitar riffs sitting just below the mix in the choruses and it's here that SJ's vocal talent is really exercised as she opens up. The modulation towards the end is the icing on the cake; lifting the song into it's final phase with a sudden abrupt end that catches you off guard and still leaves your feet tapping.

You can also hear the acoustic version for this song which, for me personally, showcases SJ's talents even more; her vocals are sublime here and it really gives the lyrics a new meaning. This is definitely my favourite version.

SJ is from Cambridge but is also at University in Southampton currently. You can listen to her songs for yourself on her Myspace page, where she cites her influences as The Eagles, Beyonce, Norah Jones, Coldplay and Queen.

Friday, 30 July 2010

This Army The Joe Public Summer Tour!

Here's the poster for the 'This Army' summer tour of the fantastic The Joe Public. Be sure to check out a show!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

New Artist Alert: Beatitudes

With just one track online currently, I'm hoping this is the sign of things to come from the young band 'Beatitudes'. It's a cheeky yet infectious acoustic guitar intro supplemented nicely by the cool vocals; I like the melodies explored here and there's hints of Paolo Nutini and James Morrison. I was expecting a few snare stabs before the full band came in so I'm definitely looking forward to hearing more tracks because this must just be an acoustic song. It's nothing short of great though; really nice chord progressions matched with strong vocals do enough to set the song apart from every other singer/songwriter act; this sounds fresh and professional, definitely sure of itself and confident which is why it stands out.
Beatitudes hail from Southampton and describe themselves as "A fusion of Soul, Dance, R'n'B, Rock and all that Jazz...Music for people that LOVE music" and have a few shows lined up for the future:

30th July/Drift in the City Bar/Portsmouth
31st July/Joiners/Southampton
29th Aug/The Brook/Southampton
15th Sept/Soul Cellar/Southampton

You can have a listen to 'Danielle' for yourself and check out their upcoming shows on the band's Myspace page.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

I'm back!

It's so good to be home. I had a fantastic and very relaxing two weeks away on the Norfolk Broads, but am certainly looking forward to settling back into familiarities; not least of all the comfort of my own bed!

So just a quick post to say that I'm back and will very soon be back into the swing of launching some new music your way!

If you've got Twitter, you can follow me @samborakid


Saturday, 10 July 2010

Off on my holidays...

When you read this, I will be en-route to Norfolk (incidentally where I lived between the ages of 3 and 8) heading towards the Norfolk Broads for a 2-week canal boat holiday! I can't wait to just chill out without responsibilities and thinking about work, although I obviously now won't be able to post for a couple of weeks.

I'll be back soon!

Monday, 5 July 2010

'Live Before You Die' Bon Jovi Blog Contest

To my readers: Bon Jovi are holding a fantastic competition which enables one lucky blogger the chance to win 2 tickets to the final show of the US leg of the tour in Chicago. All you have to do is blog about your ideal show...this is my entry!

Jet-lagged and bleary-eyed, I step off the plane in Chicago. It was a long flight from but I'm buzzing because in less than twelve hours I'll be taken to the soaring heights of Jovi heaven once more. I've never been to Chicago, I muse to myself as I scour the luggage carousel for my Heart and Dagger suitcase. Outside the airport, I'm waiting with my girlfriend but I won't get a chance to 'flag down a cab' like they do in the movies; I've just spotted our private car which takes us to our fancy hotel. I'd never be able to afford this kind of luxury. It's OK; Jon's paying tonight.

Fast forward a few hours. Bags have been strewn on the bed, I've wolfed down my complimentary dinner and am eager to get to Soldier Field to be at one with the Jovi nation; feel welcomed and safe amongst those like me, virgins seeking their first Bon Jovi highs and veterans expecting great things since the O2 set-lists were published online, hoping tonight will be as special as it always is. Or maybe even just a bit more.

Everyone's smiling. Happy faces queueing, I catch tinny drones of Bad Name playing from a mobile phone and a distant singalong of Prayer is attracting a lot of attention. The merchandise tent is being set-up nearby and it's really starting to sink in. I'm actually here! I see the sleeping bags and throwaway pillows; I've been there before. But tonight I'm in the pit, escorted to the front by Obie himself just before showtime. The crowds will part for Sir Obie so it won't be a problem getting to the barrier.

This crowd is well and truly pumped, the atmosphere is fantastic and the weather couldn't be better. We're upstairs now, watching through a large window as the drones of fans pour into the venue; excitedly patient and trying not to push as we're sat comfortably in the VIP suite with other eager competition winners. I feel as nervous as Jon must have done back in Sayreville at his first ever show. I know what's coming next; I can't contain my nervous energy as I swig over and over again from the cold bottle of beer before my girlfriend assures me it's empty and has been for a while now. But I didn't quite hear what she said. Tico just strolled in. My mind has gone blank. Do I talk about rudiments and paradiddles? Ask him about his swing? I don't even play golf. Here is the physical representation of why I took up playing drums all those years ago and I feel like a starstruck teenager. Well, I guess that's what I am. Coolly he saunters over, shaking hands and signing autographs and I somehow manage to string a few words together. Decidely humiliated yet too grateful to care as he moves on to someone else, I spot Richie, Hugh, Dave and Jon. It's like some kind of mad dream. Richie looks taller than in pictures, his eyes so warm and friendly; Dave's hands look weathered and I imagine them spanning his keys or penning a symphony; Hugh looks just like one of them, so comfortable with his brothers, maybe they'll let him do some PR for the next album; and Jon tops it all off, his million-dollar smile lighting up the room as the ardent fans flock towards him. I'll play it cool, let him come to me. I can't. I feel like a teenage-girl. Who cares. I just want to shake his hand. But they don't stay long, it's nearly show-time.

Cheers Obie! I call, what a legend! We couldn't be closer; Jon's famous white mic-stand is stood waiting as patiently as the thousands of fans in the arena right in front of me. Suddenly the PA system trails off and the lights go down. I join in with the screams, fighting back the tears as the band come onto the stage, Jon swaggering on slightly behind as he lights up the room once more with a huge grin before launching into the opening song; Dave's blistering keyboard intro. I wasn't even alive when they wrote this song.

We Weren't Born To Follow
Born To Be My Baby
Something For The Pain
Superman Tonight
Edge of a Broken Heart
Save a Prayer
It's My Life
Story of My Life
I Believe
Work For The Working Man
In These Arms
Harlem Rain (Richie vox)
Any Other Day
Silent Night
Wild is the Wind
Bad Name
I'd Die For You
Have A Nice Day
I'll Be There For You (Dave vox)
The Fire Inside (Acoustic)
Nobody's Hero (Acoustic)
Edge of a Broken Heart
Shot Through The Heart
We Got It Going On
Love's The Only Rule

The segues between the songs are flawless; the musicianship representing the honed art of nearly thirty years' hard graft. Each subtle nod and telling glance; Tico, Richie, Dave, Hugh and Bobby hanging on to Jon's every slight movement; a tell-tale sign of where this runaway train is going next. The crowd are stomping their feet, cheering, screaming, chanting. The lights are still down but once again Dave leads the way; his piano intro once more lifting the screams to a near-deafening level, having crept onstage unseen.

Encore 1:
These Days

The anthem has been played; Jon swiped Richie's cowboy hat as the crowd sang the first verse and chorus to Wanted. Waving goodbye, the band bows graciously at the edge of the stage. I'm within arms reach of the entire band's feet. Tico passes me a stick with a wink, I'll never let this go. The most amazing night of my life. The emotion took me somewhere I've never been before; this band that taught me how to love and feel have taken me on a near-3 hour rollercoaster and I can't believe it's over. As Jon's tight denim jacket disappears from view, I can't help thinking the house-lights should be up by now. People have already started filtering towards the exits. But there are tribal drums. The deep resonating toms sweep the floor and pound hard into the chest of every single person in this room, as it erupts with deafening screams once more. I can't believe they're playing my favourite song. Richie's Hey Hey Hey Hey! chants fill the arena and I'm fighting back the lump in my throat once more.

Encore 2:
Something To Believe In
Dry County

As I'm escorted back to my hotel, I wonder if I'll ever get that high again. Still grasping Tico's stick and the fireworks ringing in my ears, I think back to how close to Jon I was, how I could see the whites of his eyes, every nuance of passion in his face, looking across to Richie's timeless expressions as his fingers graced the fretboard of his beautiful guitars, Tico's mouth-playing as he pounds along relentlessly, the world's most underestimated drummer, Dave's stolen waves to people in the pit and Hughie's collected, content smile as he sits back on his effortless bass-lines. I didn't sleep at all that night. On the plane home the next day, I relived the concert again and again in my head, oblivious to the flight attendants offering peanuts and my girlfriend sleeping soundly as she rested on my shoulder. The greatest band in history just played the greatest show of their careers, and I was front and centre.