Blossoms – Cool Like You

After exploding onto the scene in 2016 with a banger-filled debut, Blossoms captured the hearts of so many people. They were the most exciting new band for months, and it was understandable why. They have such an exciting energy about them and a really unique sound to set it off.

Having now established themselves, their follow up feels like it’s come around so quickly. “Cool Like You” is like an extension of their first album (which is generally how a second album works, I guess). Difficult second album? WHERE? “Cool Like You” has just stuck two fingers up to that stereotype.

It’s delicious indie pop with a nice dusting of 80s synths – honestly has anything ever sounded better to you? The song embodying this new twist is “Unfaithful”, which on first listen reminded me of “Tainted Love”. I fully realise that this is unlikely to be everyone’s first comparison, but there was just something about it and I still can’t place it now, just a general vibe.

If it isn’t glaringly obvious, I can’t get enough 80s (give me shoulder pads and legwarmers and I’m good to go). When I heard the title track I was bloody overjoyed. Now, bear with me, it kind of sounds like New Order covering Abba, now this may seem like a strange combo, but goddamn it works.

My intent isn’t to make this album out to be some kind of cheese-fest. Accompanying these heavily retro feeling songs are some properly heartfelt moments. However, I feel like the synth-packed upbeat formula that they seem to be following can at times eclipse how vulnerable, sweet and intelligent their lyrics are. Tom Ogden truly can write a bloody song.

Listening to the acoustic versions of songs like “Stranger Still” and “Between The Eyes”, it becomes obvious that these songs have so much more potential than they’re being given credit for on the actual album. The lyrics are painfully relatable “When I check my phone, it’s always for you” has got to be a feeling that everyone knows. “Stranger Still” has become a song filled with false positivity and it could have been pure art. It’s good, it just could have been amazing. It just feels like a shame that they seem to have followed a formula to get radio plays when anyone would be head over heels for the acoustic version.

This album is still fabulous, it’s a welcome return to form for Blossoms, They’re clearly such  a talented band. I can only hope the records keep coming.

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Isaac Gracie – isaac gracie

Starting by simply making and releasing songs from his bedroom, Isaac Gracie has absolutely smashed this debut, filled with heart, soul and everything you could ever want.

What’s most impressive about this album is the way in which he has managed to keep the intimacy and core emotions of his earlier recordings, just polishing them for a somewhat fresher feeling. A lot of his earlier songs have been re-imagined for this album, most notably “last words”. This regret-filled-melancholic song was his first release and was what brought him an influx of fans along with interest from several record labels. This interest was not misplaced, his ep releases have proven this time and time again. It was obvious even from his first song that he has a real talent for writing, wondering “how did I get here, and can I get back?”, a song of confusion and regret.

This whole record is utterly beautiful. It’s summery, sweet music and the inclusion of songs like “running on empty” and “the death of you & i” has crushed any ideas that our boy Isaac is a one trick pony. He can do more than just emotional music – though he does it so well. The latter of these songs seems to be the most surprising inclusion on the album. I’d never listened to this song (when the EP came out, I basically listened to “silhouettes of you” on repeat).  It’s such a huge song, it portrays anger and sadness and feels like it’s getting out the frustration of something that’s out of your control. Mourning the loss of a relationship, after such a powerful beginning it tapers off to an absolute groove of a song.

Isaac’s voice is genuinely addictive to listen to, there’s a quality to it that I really can’t get enough of. It’s so smooth and lovely and calming. I just want to wrap it up and put it in my pocket and carry it with me everywhere I go – I realise what I’ve just described is any kind of portable music device.

“reverie” is completely the perfect end to this stunning album, I think it’s elevated above the other songs for some reason. His vocals really come through on this, and as a song it’s so honest and candid.

I genuinely love this album, and he’s just at the start of his career, so it’s going to be immensely exciting to find out how he evolves as an artist. This first album has clearly been his whole life in the making, so it’ll be interesting to hear how his sound develops throughout the next chapter of his life.

Isaac Gracie // Rescue Rooms // 18.04.18

30546527_390270961442161_555974507_oBLIMEY, this was without a doubt one of the most magical performances I’ve ever seen. It honestly felt like a dream, it’s hard to describe how special it felt. It felt like the start of something really, really special. The first day real of sun this year and the beauty of the day was just enhanced by this evening.

Matt Maltese was the start of an extremely fashionable night. Boy turned up in a suit and a graphic tee, honestly iconic. If I was pushed to describe his style I would say that it’s groovy but sad. Like his lyrics are completely gorgeous, but a bit depressing but overall, it’s got a good vibe. I actually remember listening to him a while ago when he released “Even if It’s a Lie” (a song I still really enjoy), but he has somewhat matured since then and his music has developed into something newer and different. I feel like he is pretty well summarised in his Twitter bio – “Brexitpop” – it says it all really. He seems to have a pretty dry and somewhat dark sense of humour, which to be honest just makes him even better. His debut album “Bad Contestant” is released June 1st, and I thoroughly recommend that everyone goes and listens to it as soon as it drops, plz and thank u.

30772519_390271121442145_1565335191_oRight, so first things first Isaac Gracie induced extreme clothing envy in me, like really bad. Seriously, that red shirt/red trousers combo?? L-O-V-E. 10/10 fashion choice Mr Gracie. There was a proper element of theatricality to him, he’s a Such a talented performer. I actually could have watched him for hours, but sadly I have a life so that would never have been ideal for anyone. Anyway, aesthetically speaking, completely lovely boy.

This is his debut album tour, and already he’s mesmerising on stage. It was impossible to take my eyes off him. It’s not like he was doing some super polished, in-depth choreography or something (although that would be pretty wild), he was just captivating. Obviously, Isaac has a bloody brilliant voice, anyone with a half decent set of ears could tell you that, but that’s not all. His songs are so utterly gorgeous. They’re tender, his lyrics are so carefully, lovingly and poetically crafted that they’re a joy to listen to.

30825355_390270851442172_2040177120_oBecause I’m a woman who is in touch with her emotions (read: slightly emotionally unstable) I cried (which I wasn’t expecting to do) when he played “Love (ain t always so good)”, maybe it was hay fever to be fair sunny day and all that. It was just so beautiful but sad live, I think it was all just a bit much. I also bloody love the new side of him that “The Death of You & I” has brought out in him. It’s nice to hear this more groovy upbeat sound.

The whole night, his voice never faltered once. It’s no wonder that people so often draw comparisons between him and legends of folk-rock like Nick Cave or Jeff Buckley. It’s easy to see where these come from he has a similar, calming, sweet voice, but I think it’s unfair to compare him to other people so readily. I would say Isaac is a talent in his own right.

30550139_390270891442168_504680179_oDespite seeming still and serious on stage, he has these moments of extreme humility where he apologises for everything (having injured his hand, having a drink etc) and having a giggle at himself. I got the impression that he’s a bit of a weirdo which I completely adore, and us weirdos gotta support each other. He seemed to be in disbelief that so many people loved his music and kept saying how mad it was that so many people had turned out to see him. I don’t think it’s that surprising, he’s so talented and such a showman that people will always want to support him. Thank you for such a wonderful night.

Fenne Lily – On Hold

Fenne Lily on holdThis debut is a treat for all the senses – mostly the ears, but what you do in your free time is your choice, innit. From start to finish it’s a journey of beautiful melancholy seemingly fuelled by a deeper frustration.

Having released her first single “Top to Toe” in 2016 this album has come at the perfect time and features all 6 of her other previously released singles as well as several new songs which people are sure to eat up. There feels like there’s a level of catharsis to her music. It seems like a way of releasing the pain of heartbreak and feelings of unease that often come as a part of life, and she does it so beautifully that they become completely delightful to listen to.

It’s hard to pick specific moments on an album that’s full of songs that feel poignant and are quite frankly heart wrenching listen to at points. Early on she repeats the line “Please don’t leave” on the track “Three Oh Nine”, expressing feelings of loneliness and rejection that you can’t help but feels sympathy towards her for.

For me, the stand out track is “The Hand You Deal”. I think her voice really soars and stands out with the backing of a more stripped back acoustic backing. I just genuinely think it’s a beautiful song. Something else I love about this album is the low-fi rawness of it, it makes it feel more personal in a way. I love the use of more rock-influenced guitar against her delicate vocals, which makes for a really interesting and fresh sound.

Fenne exposes a level of vulnerability and rawness that makes her music and songwriting really stand out. Nothing feels manufactured or artificial. This is what I think sets her apart from a lot of other singer-songwriters at the moment, I am always in awe of people who can put feelings into words as perfectly as Fenne Lily manages to on this stunning debut. There’s clearly more to come, and it’s going to be interesting to see what she does next and where she goes.

George Ezra // Rock City // 02.04.18

A sold-out Rock City is never a disappointment, and this was no exception. This whole night was spectacular from start to finish, top Job Mr Ezra.

29995831_384146562054601_306584842_o.jpgLily Moore has been supporting George (this is how I’m going to refer to him from now on – get used to it) on this tour, and she is bloody brilliant. Lily is such a little presence on stage but as soon as she starts singing people shut up and listen. She has one of the most phenomenal voices I’ve ever heard, and I can’t get over it. Lily is bound to do amazing things over the next year or so, and I’m excited to see what else she has to come.

 

 

Oh George, oh George, oh George. I would like to make it clear now that I had such a fab time that this is bound to end up sounding dead cringe – but we are going with it. He put on a show and a half and played a mix of his older and newer songs. I was hoping to hear “Did You Hear the Rain?” but I won’t hold it against him because I had such a good time. George has a voice that’s so yummy. It’s deep, sweet and just even more lovely live than you could imagine from listening to his recorded work.30070131_384143772054880_719839681_o

Seeing these songs live made me realise that I do really enjoy and love his work. There wasn’t a song that I felt indifferent to or one I felt let down by. I gotta say hearing “Barcelona” felt special. It’s probably my favourite song of his, it’s a love song that isn’t over the top. It’s sweet, and tender and just, blimey it’s lovely. From the new album, “Savior” was a clear highlight for me, it just stands out because it feels so different for him in the best way possible.

The whole show was done beautifully, it was clear that so much thought went into it. The lighting, his band and just everything worked together. It was honestly one of the most cohesive shows I’ve seen in a long time. Talking of his band, they were insanely good and were the cherry on top of the night for me. He took time between every song and gave it context and explanation, which I just loved so so much, whether it was explaining that “Budapest” actually has nothing to do with the city at all, or about realising that no one has a clue what they’re doing in their day to day lives and we’re all just muddling  through, which is what he sings about in “Pretty Shining People”. He’s quite content to have a laugh at himself on stage and it’s completely charming, talking about his concepts for the three music videos for songs on “Staying at Tamara’s” that were released before the album – wearing the worst suit possible and getting progressively drunker. It’s also worth noting that his lil dance moves were so cute and just added to the whole experience.29994655_384145725388018_1591007466_o

George gave such a joy-filled night, and I am so grateful. It’s clear that he’s talented, his songs are thoughtful, sweet and emotional. It’s more than that though, he’s got an overwhelmingly positive energy, which makes him come across as such a kind, lovely person (kind of like if Winnie the Pooh and Paddington bear had a child). I get this vibe that he’s always nice to waiting staff and he loves a peppermint tea and a fig roll. On stage, he seems so at ease and like he just belongs there. I like to believe that he’s having as good of a time as the people watching him are. That’s another thing, the guy appeals to bloody everyone, the crowd was so diverse, it is just an ode to how hard he works and how much he deserves it.

29994356_384145832054674_606580160_oAfter releasing an album as positive as “Staying At Tamara’s”, it was obviously going to be a lovely night, but he knocked it out of the park. I had an amazing time, and I’m sure he’s going to have a fantastic year, this record is so set up for festivals this summer too. He’s bound to just go from strength to strength, and I would completely recommend anyone taking up the chance to go and see him. Thank you, George.

 

 

 

George Ezra – Staying at Tamara’s

Staying at Tamara'sOh George, how I’ve waited for this album and I can honestly say this ode to escape was worth the wait – 4 years feels excessive but if that’s what it took to make this, I’m happy. Having released “Wanted on Voyage” in 2014, “Staying at Tamara’s” feels like its older, cooler sibling, with a name coming from the woman who owned the Airbnb in Barcelona where he wrote the album. In a welcome return to form, Ezra delivers a record filled with sunny positivity, it’s uplifting in comparison to his somewhat-brooding earlier work.

The overall sound of this album feels more mature, but it’s unrelentingly happy in a way that’s irresistible. He completely understands what makes a song that people want to listen to. His songs all build to an utterly infectious chorus, the most prominent of which I would say is “Shotgun”, I haven’t been able to get out of my head in days, but there’s no complaining from me because there are worse things to have stuck in your head.

The album opens with the stunning “Pretty Shining People” which I’d say is basically the perfect opener, it sets the tone for the start of the album, starting with slightly weary lyrics but reassuring the listener with words of encouragement “Hey pretty smiling people, we’re alright together”. The album seems to build to an apex at “Paradise”, it’s loud, powerful and it feels special when you’re listening.

Everyone knows by now that George Ezra has an incredible voice, it’s delicious and smooth and deep and my gosh it’s just lovely. His voice is really shown off on the gorgeous “Hold My Girl” which with its thoughtful lyrics and relatively stripped-back sound is sure to become a favourite amongst fans. As a whole, the album takes you on a journey starting with being happy in the face of uncertainty, something everyone needs at this point in time, through to the slower, calmer tracks towards the end of the record.

It was a stroke of genius featuring folk-sensations First Aid Kit. “Saviour” offers something different and explores a side to his music that we haven’t really seen before. Now, when I say this just bear in mind that I LOVE GEORGE EZRA, but it’s nice to see someone not wrapped up in the idea of being cool, he’s pretty calm with who he is, and the idea that whilst his music appeals to everyone, it’s especially loved by mum’s – he’s a very mum friendly guy, old George. I love that, and that alone makes him pretty cool I think.

This is a completely delightful album, filled with dreamy happiness. Listening to this can’t help but put a smile on your face no matter what mood you’re in. “Staying at Tamara’s” is ready to go out into the world and impress huge crowds, and I want everyone to appreciate how fab George Ezra is.

Only The Poets

Reading-based Only The Poets released their new single “Dead Young” today (which means everyone should listen, buy, love it etc). With a sound somewhere between The 1975 and Sundara Karma, their catchy, energetic melodies feel like they’d be pretty irresistible to everyone. They kindly agreed to answer a few questions I had for them -because they’re real life angels – as I thought it might be a bit more interesting to hear from the band themselves. Well, here’s what singer Tommy had to say:

How did you all meet?

So me and Roo, the bassist, had been friends for a long time and in separate projects and when they came to an end we starting jamming so that’s how we started. Charlie and Jules knew each other well from similar situations and just through networking, we became the line up we are today!

When did you know that you wanted to make music?

I mean I’ve always been a huge lover of music from a young age. I started writing my own songs at 16 and growing up through adulthood is when I knew I didn’t want to do anything other than perform

As a band does your music taste influence the type of music you make?
We all appreciate and love some of the same but also different artists. Whether it be soloists or bands. Diverse music influence from each of us helps create the unique sound we are after! 
If you could play anywhere, what would your dream gig be?
I know we would all love to go overseas. I think I speak on behalf of us all when I say Coachella is any bands dream to play. We’ve all spoken of our love of the states! Would be unbelievable to take this around the world, that’s the dream. 
How would you describe your sound?
Heavily inspired by 90’s Brit-pop I feel our sound is energetic indie pop. We love hard hitting choruses and hooks and melody. 
Finally, which bands/artists have made you excited recently?
Recently for me, Circa Waves have become a favourite of mine. ‘Fire That Burns’ when I heard that I was blown away and haven’t stopped listening since. I’m also loving The Wombats new stuff and Two Door. 
Keep up to date with the band on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and be sure to give “Dead Young” a listen ASAP because I can guarantee that it won’t be a decision you regret.

Tom Grennan // Rock City // 24.03.18

29405472_380779575724633_863142034_oHaving now packed out what would generally be considered to be the holy trinity of Nottingham venues (The Bodega, Rescue Rooms and Rock City), Tom Grennan returned to make it clear that he’s here for total domination.

29633342_380780139057910_1564122318_o.jpgThe first support act was Zuzu, who was simply equipped with her guitar on stage. She seemed like such a tiny presence, but her voice more than made up for it. Her vocals soared, and she just generally seemed pretty cool. I can only imagine that she’d be insane with a whole band behind her too. So I’d be excited to see what else she has to offer.

Ten Tonnes was the second support and I was so grateful because I’d been dying to see him live for what feels like ages. I bloody love him and think he’s fab. He seems effortlessly cool and his joy-filled-indie-rock really hits the spot. He’s starting to make a name for himself having also supported the likes of Rat Boy and Stereophonics this year, and is already announcing a stream of festival appearances, for what I assume is going to be a very busy summer. He’s a talented performer, with a sick voice – which goes without saying – but he’s29632686_380779939057930_67425086_o also a talented songwriter, making his songs addictive to listen to. He has an understanding of what makes songs good and interesting to listen to, which makes all his music fantastic.

Then came Tom Grennan. It’s a testament to him that he sold out Rock City. Without releasing an album. That just doesn’t happen! It’s not the way it works. It’s insane, which is probably how you could describe Mr Grennan’s rise over the past year. I’ve seen him a few times now, and every time he’s grown into a bigger and better performer. I think his popularity is in part due to the kind of person he is. Of course, his songs are great – that’s why people eat them up and can’t get enough – but he’s infectiously happy and positive, there seems to be a level of disbelief at the sheer volume of success he’s having. His humbleness and genuine gratefulness is something I hope never leaves him because it’s a joy to see, to be honest.

29527380_380777599058164_1103515597_oGrennan can put on a bloody show, and at this point, it seems effortless. He’s dancing and bouncing all over the stage, interacting with the crowd and generally having a great time. On that note, it was one of the most diverse crowds I’ve seen in Nottingham, there wasn’t a dominating gender or age, which just goes to show that his music appeals to everyone, which is only gonna serve him well.

I love Tom’s music, but I love it 1000 times more live. The boy has some pipes, I really cannot fault his voice at all – seriously, the voice of an actual angel. There’s no arguing with that, it’s just a fact, but when it’s live his music has a slightly undone, rawness to it that you don’t get from his immaculate studio recordings, which just levels it up for me and makes it sparkle. Grennan’s band are also all talented performer’s in their own rights and having a team of individuals like that supporting him on stage really makes the whole night.29633801_380778285724762_1573790194_o

Grennan has such a great energy and positive aura that supporting him feels like second nature, people genuinely want him to do well. I’m excited to hear the album as a whole, all the new songs sound great – “Run In The Rain” is probably my favourite at the moment. I wanted to hear more of his older songs too, but I mean if I had my way he would have just stood there and sang everything he’d ever written, so I can’t really complain. Plus, I’m probably just bitter because “Sweet Hallelujah” is my favourite.

The night as a whole was 10/10. He knows how to deliver and this means I have 29633173_380778542391403_1878906168_o.jpgno doubt that he’s going to go far. I can honestly say that I wish him all the luck in the world for his inevitable rise to the top (not that he needs it, let’s be honest). Good luck Mr Grennan.

5 Songs for This Week 20.03.18

Guess who’s been down a procrastination hole for the last 4 days? If you guessed me you’d be right. I have honestly spent the last three hours reading Shakespeare conspiracy theories, that no one can actually have answers to at all, but now I know a lot more than I used to about Sir Frances Bacon, so I’ll leave you to decide if it was actually a waste of time.

GIRLI – Play It Cool

Girli nails it yet again. Staying true to her often brutally honest, tongue-in-cheek style she tackles the ever-relatable issue of liking someone who doesn’t like you back. “Play It Cool” is immensely catchy, and positive despite being a somewhat depressing overall theme – but I guess life’s gotta go on hasn’t it.

Martin Luke Brown – Grit Your Teeth

I’m sorry but when did MLB start cracking out a series of solid bangers??? I must have missed that memo, but my god am I here for it. This is honestly such a bop, I had to fight not to start like dancing to it on my way home the other day, which would have actually greatly improved an otherwise dull 4-hour journey. Anyway, this is a solid song and is well worth a listen for anybody.

Amber Run – The Weight

In true Amber Run style, this is completely gorgeous. It relies heavily on vocals, so it’s a good job that this song didn’t need much else, the harmonies are delicious and as per Joe’s voice is stunning. A superb single and hopefully is just a taste of things soon to come from the band.

IDER – Body Love

Yet more tasty harmonies here. This track is a delight to listen to, it’s dreamy but fun and catchy. More Mellow than their other songs, but to me this song, in particular, made me pay attention to this duo. There’s honestly nothing not to like about this, and you’d be silly not to listen right now.

Jabbawoki – Femme Fatale

Corr, this is well groovy. I can’t really get enough of it, it’s just such a cool song, and I wanna be cool too, and listening to this will make that happen, right? It’s short and sweet, and with a catchy bassline and strong vocals, quite frankly, what’s not to like?

 

The Magic Gang – The Magic Gang

The Magic GangAfter releasing a steady stream of EPs and countless live shows after over the past few years, The Magic Gang have finally answered people’s prayers and given us the sunshine-saturated album we’ve all been looking for. Featuring a combination of songs that already have a place in any fan’s heart, and newer ones too, this album really is an ode to their well-polished sound.

This album shows how sure of themselves and comfortable they are together as a band, for me their hard work has paid off in producing such a brilliant album full of delicate, sweet vocals contrasting with strong guitars and percussion. The timing of this album feels perfect, it’s just in time to soundtrack my summer and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

A change of pace for an otherwise pretty optimistic album comes in the form of “Take Care”, where a heavy piano focus starts and it’s really lovely to hear, and for me proves that they aren’t only capable of one thing. Taking on a break-up song that seems almost bizarrely sweet and tender.

Throughout this record their 60s influence becomes especially apparent – maybe I was just super ignorant when I was listening to their Eps, which is entirely possible. It’s 60s inspired but doesn’t feel stale or outdated. It’s a fresh, new twist on guitar-heavy music, in a time when this kind of music can often be overlooked, it’s great to see them sticking to their roots of just making great music that they clearly love.

I can honestly recommend that everyone gives this album a listen, it’s packed with lovely songs that are too good to miss.