Thursday, 24 September 2015

Throwback Thursday - You Me At Six - Take Off Your Colours

24th September 2015

For this week's Throwback Thursday review, we are going back to October 2008. I was young and still at college, and You Me at Six had just released their debut album Take Off Your Colours. I remember being at a huge house party in Caversham Heights, Reading, and someone claiming that some of the band members had rocked up to join the party, and I had though "wow, that's pretty cool, think I've got tickets to their Oxford show in a few weeks" but had made no effort to see if this claim was fact or fiction, not knowing how huge You Me at Six would later go on to become, all because of this album. With regards to the Oxford show, I couldn't tell you now who supported, but I do remember You Me at Six absolutely killing their set, with the crowd singing along to every song despite Take Off Your Colours only being out for a few weeks. However, if other towns were like the one I went to college in, in October 2008 this was the only record anybody was listening too.

Take Off Your Colours opens up with the fantastic 'The Truth is a Terrible Thing' which held lyrics everyone had scrawled across Facebook and MySpace (yep, that was still going strong back then). The guitar intro alone is enough to draw you in and get you hooked on every verse, with the ending setting the scene nicely for the second track 'Gossip', and for the rest of the album, with front man Josh Franceschi singing the song title over a heavy drum and guitar line.

We are going to skip ahead a few songs now to track four 'Jealous Minds Think Alike.' Opening up heavier than most of the other songs, everyone in college seemed to claim this to be their favourite song, and the chorus started to feature on several people's arms in the forms of tattoos. It also seemed to be played at every house party in every town, and I would be lying if i said I didn't sneak over to the speakers to put it on on more than one occassion!

Now I am not saying 'Save It For The Bedroom' isn't a good song, it really is an excellent track which had everything you would want in it, but it felt that every, and I mean EVERY, pop-punk band starting up in the Reading area were doing cover versions. Fair enough, some were extremely good, but most of the time it was a dreadful experience watching people trying to hit notes as Josh does on this song. Every other weekend it was being played in Reading's Face Bar, and, sadly, this lead to the song being ruined for me and many others at the time. Thankfully though, time heals all wounds, and I can happily feel the joy this song brought the first time I heard it.

"If it hurts this much, then it must be love" opens up the beautifully acoustic track 'Always Attract' which fast became  the anthem for every relationship facing difficulties, as well as for all the people who were recently single. It also has guest vocals from Josh's sister Elissa Franceschi, who's voice is simply amazing, and the sibling duet gives this album a track that tugs on the heartstrings.

Take Off Your Colours comes to a close with 'The Rumour,' one of the greatest songs You Me At Six have made to date. The ending to the song kicks in around the two minute forty mark, about half way through the song itself, and it still gives me shivers, with its build up from soft and calm, to full on power. Words don't do this song any justice, but, simply put, you will not be able to listen to it just the one time. It's a song that needs to be put on repeat a few times before going back to the start of the album and repeating the process again.

It is amazing how far You Me At Six have come in the seven years since Take Off Your Colours was released, from small venues on the release tour, to now playing sold out shows at Wembley. They have since released three more studio albums, equally as good as each other, but there hasn't been many albums around from any band that can still give me goosebumps seven years on like Take Off Your Colours does.
Tracks to check out:
- "Jealous Minds Think Alike"
- "Take Off Your Colours"
- "You've Made Your Bed (So Sleep In It)"
- "The Rumour"

Sam Muckley 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Throwback Thursday - Oasis (What's The Story) Morning Glory

Manchester is a huge city, divided into various towns and boroughs; led by different councils, split between football teams at the highest and lowest level, and home to various historic events and people. We boast one of the best schools of learning outside Oxford and Cambridge, and even produced the great Alan Turing (if you don’t know him, google him, you owe him that). However, one thing we all boast about the most is our music scene. You’ll never convince a true Manc that we aren’t responsible for some of the best bands, clubs and record labels. Look at the likes of The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Joy Division, Happy Mondays and The Charlatans and you’ve already got a playlist worthy of any road trip. The nineties also saw Manchester produce one of my favourite bands of all time; Oasis. Originally formed by a bunch of schoolmates, lead singer Liam Gallagher’s brother Noel returned from working for The Inspiral Carptets to join up, and four albums were produced between 1994 and 1998 in a successful period for the band. The album I’ve opted for this week is full of absolute tunes, and I guarantee you only need to hear the opening 5 seconds and you yell “TUUUNNNNEEEE!” and start blaring it out clutching onto your can of Carling (just me? I’m ok with it); it is, of course, (What’s The Story) Morning Glory.

Starting off with ‘Hello’ (genius), Noel has a line, “it’s good to be back” and, based on this track, we were all happy to have them back (sidenote, 5/6 year old me loved listening to this because Liam swore! HE SWORE!). Then we fly into ‘Roll With It’, which starts off with a proper strum on the guitar, making you fully aware that about to hear heaven through your stereo. Third on the album, and bane of my life at university, is cult classic ‘Wonderwall.’ Now, don’t get me wrong, I used to adore this tune, but it has been over played to the max, like, I’m talking ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ levels (IT’S NOT JOY DIVISION’S ONLY TRACK); every open mic night, every house party where there happens to be a guitar lying around, every jamming session and every lad who is learning to play, all have this quote in common: “anyway, here’s Wonderwall.” I’ve managed to avoid it for a while, mostly by leaving our SU abruptly, or staring at the bloke with a guitar as he notices my Man City top and reassesses the situation. That is, until I visited Sam down south and suddenly an entire bar in Henley are singing it to me, with a dedication from the artist for good measure! Oh and yes, I joined in. I blame the tequila.

Track four is my dad’s favourite song, and the track I phoned him during at Noel’s gig a couple of years back, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger.’ Strangely, this is the only time on the album where Noel takes centre stage, and he doesn’t disappoint. With his Beatles inspired video and music, this is definitely one to belt out around midnight at your cousins wedding.  Skipping ahead a little, we have ‘Some Might Say’, a track us Blues like to relate to, culminating in a flag that travels to games bearing the lyrics “some might say we will find a brighter day” and we finally have done! ‘Cast No Shadow’ and ‘She’s Electric’ are in complete contrast with each other, but both loved by the fans. ‘Morning Glory’ is probably my favourite track from the album; the start up to it still gives me goosebumps. It’s my alarm tone and my darts walk-on music so that should tell you how much I love it. The album is beautifully rounded off by the fantastic ‘Champagne Supernova’, which makes no sense when written down, but makes perfect sense to the millions of people who have referenced it on a night out. Noel even did an interview where he questioned his own lyric saying, “how can you slowly walk down the hall faster than a cannonball?” Well I have no idea Mr G, but I’m certainly glad you thought it possible at one point. Noel’s guitar solo is so beautiful it’s haunting (someone once told me it made them wee! I doubt she was being literal, but it’s certainly a glowing review), and it certainly ends this truly brilliant album on a well deserved high note.

6 out of 5 from me!

Tracks to check out:

Mike Bray x

Monday, 14 September 2015

Bring Me The Horizon - That's The Spirit

14th September 2015

On the 11th of this month, Bring Me The Horizon released their fifth studio album That's the Spirit, and my initial reaction was "this is unbelievable!" Three days of constant listening later and that opinion has yet to be changed. However, Bring Me The Horizon have gone in a slightly different direction with this album, with the addition of more electro and trance sounds, but still maintaining the heavy riffs and aggressive vocals of the Bring Me The Horizon of old.
The album starts up with the fantastic 'Doomed,' which I played to a friend of mine who is not into the hardcore scene. His thoughts were that, at the start, it sounded similar to Justin Bieber. Now take this how you will, but I have to agree with him! It may seem like a backhanded compliment, but realistically it shows the true levels of singing talent that Oli Sykes has to offer, switching with ease from beautifully melodic to full of fire, and this is a theme that continues throughout That's the Spirit.
Next up on the album is a string of three singles released during the run up to That's the Spirit, starting with 'Happy Song' which features cheerleader chants before erupting into classic Bring Me The Horizon that we know and love from Sempiternal. This is followed by the insane 'Throne,' giving hardcore an injection of electro music that just works brilliantly. Once again, this is a golden Bring Me The Horizon track to get you on your feet and moving, full of energy with a fantastic drop which will guarantee one hell of a mosh pit at live performances.
Halfway through That's the Spirit, we are treated, again, to the new Bring Me The Horizon sound that was introduced at the start with 'Doomed,' this time with the unusually calm 'Follow You' which is once again a showcase of Sykes' vocal talents, as well as featuring some of the more heartfelt lyrics of the album so far. The strange fusion of genres continues, with the next song 'What You Need' sounding like an indie-pop song, yet still holding its integrity as a heavy rock hit thanks to the down tuned guitars and an awesome riff towards the end.
For the people who got their hands on the deluxe version of Sempiternal, 8th track 'Run' is somewhat of a mix of 'Join the Club' and 'Deathbeds.' Fuelled full of emotion and power, it has the ability to be a tearjerker, but at the same time has enough structure to it to move stadiums. There is something brilliant behind 'Run;' something that is difficult to put a finger on, but it should quite easily feature on anybody's "best of..." compilation. Why it wasn't released as a single too is still a bit of a mystery, as it is one of the best songs on the whole album.
We now move on to the closing stages of That's the Spirit and, with it, to my favourite song of the record: 'Blasphemy.' It has everything a great Bring Me The Horizon song should have, from harsh to melodic vocals, calm sections to outright headbang heavy ones, and throughout the track there's a riff that is both oddly uplifting and melancholic at the same time. A masterpiece of a song that has all the qualities to silence any skeptics of the album.
As 'Blasphemy' fades away, That's the Spirit could have easily ended in a silencing grace. However, there is one last song, and with 'Oh No' we are brought back to the new Bring Me The Horizon direction that features throughout the album. The music is upbeat, has a summer feel to it, and could easily find its way on to a DJ's set list at a club night, but then the lyrics juxtapose all of this brilliantly with their downcast tone. It all fits together perfectly, even if it does confuse the emotions.
I can see why older Bring Me The Horizon fans might feel slightly dissatisfied with That's the Spirit as it is a very different album to 2006's Count Your Blessings. However, music is constantly changing with the times, and Bring Me The Horizon have matured as a band a great deal in the nine years since Count Your Blessings, and that is clearly evident with That's the Spirit. I for one one am already in love with this album; it has got everything any good album should have, and a hell of a lot more! 
Track to check out:
- "Throne"
- "Run"
- "Blasphemy"

Sam Muckley

Saturday, 12 September 2015

The Hi There Tour - Best Years//WSTR - 10/9/15

12th September 2015

Thursday night, I found myself upstairs above The Garage venue in Islington, waiting for the London stint of the 'Hi There Tour' to begin. It was small, hot, and dark, but it was the perfect size to see two bands I have been raving about for weeks; Best Years and WSTR.
First on to start the night was Larkhill, and before Thursday I had my reservations about this band, having only heard one of their songs prior to the night. However, these reservations quickly disappeared as soon as they started playing. They jumped into life for the small crowd that had started to gather with a mix of songs that were hard to place into any specific genre. One minute it was pure punk at its finest, next it was pop-punk, and every now and then came a sense of jazz guitar work. It was interesting to say the least, but more importantly, it set the tone for what was to be a fantastic night out. 3/5
The second act of the night were Homebound, and they brought their A game straight from the off, as they tried to encourage the crowd to get involved and warmed up for the headliners. Sadly though, this was a difficult crowd who seemed uninterested in moving around, and that was a real shame as Homebound played a killer set that could easily see them headline their own tour in the not so distant future, even with a minor technical hiccup that was no fault of theirs. 3/5
The brilliant Best Years entered onto the stage next, and this time the crowd did as they were told, moving a lot closer to the action. It was loud, there were people (attempting) to crowd surf, and a couple of fans even got to help out with the chorus on a few songs. It was starting to look like Best Years were bringing this quiet crowd out of their shell. Then they started playing a cover of Good Charlotte's 'The Anthem' and it is safe to say EVERYONE in the room sang along, it was an incredible thing to see from a crowd that had been relatively static until this point. 4/5
Finally it was time for the headline act, and there was definitely a buzz of anticipation waiting for WSTR. When they came onto the stage, they brought with them a sea of beach balls (seriously, it was like they had raided Argos before the show), which really set the tone for what was going to be an extremely fun and exciting end to the show. As WSTR started to play, the pit opened up. However, this was no ordinary pit! No moshing occurred, the space was cleared for some football antics involving the beach balls! As the show carried on, my friend took a beach ball to the back of her head, earning herself a shout out from the band, who seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the events unfolding in front of them. Sadly though, after playing an amazing set, the show had come to an end, but I could have easily watched WSTR play through the whole gig again. They put on an unbelievable performance, and I look forward to their next outing in London, which I hope comes a lot sooner than later. 5/5

Sam Muckley

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Thowback Thursday - Blink-182 - Greatest Hits

10th September 2015

Of course Blink-182 had to be covered for a Throwback Thursday review, but how could one album be picked over any of the others? With all of Blink's albums filled to the brim with greatness, we'll rewind back to 2005 and their Greatest Hits, a collection of the cream of the crop. As the name suggests, the greatest hits that Blink had to offer!
In February of 2005, Blink-182 had announced an "indefinite hiatus." In other words, they broke up, and the pop-punk world mourned for what could have been an end to an era. Then, in October of the same year, we were treated by the good folks over at Geffen Records to the swansong that was Greatest Hits. Back to back hit, placed in a perfect order, opening up with the amazing 'Carousel' (Cheshire Cat version though, not Buddha), and ending with (UK Version) a BBC1 session of 'Go', and seeing as this could have been the last album Blink released (at the time the tension between the Barker-Hoppus camp and the DeLonge one were similar to the Cold War), it was completely justifiable to listen to Greatest Hits on repeat, night and day, all week long. There may have been other albums released in the following months, but they were OTHER bands. They weren't Blink, and that's all that mattered at the time.
For me, personally, 2005 was a strange year. I'd turned 13 and so had begun the emotional trauma that was the teenage years of secondary school. As well as this, 2005 was also the year my parents divorced, followed by the arguments that this brings to any household. Blink-182 and their Greatest Hits was the perfect remedy, the ideal medicine for a teenager at this time, dotted with tracks covering all the bases that any teenager has to deal with, for anyone that feels like an outsider. There was always a Blink song for it.
Jumping forward a few months now to May 2006, and Tom DeLonge's new band Angels & Airwaves released their debut album We Don't Need to Whisper, and, I think I speak for a lot of people here, I was going to boycott this album, this band. With the feud between Barker-Hoppus and DeLonge starting to feel like on its own, this felt like the new equivalent of meeting your dad's new girlfriend, time to crank the volume of Greatest Hits up a little louder. Looking back, it seems silly to boycott Angels & Airwaves for so long, they were and still are an amazing band! But hey, that's teenagers for you!
Obviously years later Blink-182 did reunite for 2011's Neighborhoods, bringing with it a maturity to the band, a trait DeLonge seemed to have brought with him from Angels & Airwaves, before the inevitable second break up. In that time between break up and reconcile however, it was all Greatest Hits (of course the other albums feature too, how could they not!). Other bands made appearances, and some questionable genre choices were made, but none of them had anything on Blink.
It's now 2015 and almost exactly 10 years have past since Greatest Hits came out. The music scene has changed a lot; pop-punk has matured as a genre with more serious lyrics involved, no more songs about receiving blow jobs or the neighbour Bob doing the dirty with a dog. Yes, it has changed a lot in 10 years, but at the same time it hasn't. Blink still speaks to a lot of people, they never really left our hearts, and Greatest Hits still has a permanent home in my car's CD player. 
Tracks to check out:
It's Blink-182, go check out every song!

Sam Muckley

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Man Overboard - Heavy Love

9th September 2015

Man Overboard have been around for a few years now, and Heavy Love is the New Jersey, emo-pop quintet's latest addition to the genre, taking us back to how the emo scene use to be, before all the black guy-liner and eye-covering hair (think Death Cab for Cutie, or really any band 'The O.C's Seth Cohen was in to). Heavy Love is no exception to this, and it comes as somewhat of a refreshing taste away from modern emo bands who mostly seem to be trying to emulate kings of the scene Fall Out Boy or My Chemical Romance. The album comes across as both calm, even peaceful, but at the same time full of life, and, for some reason, gives me the urge to go on a long, lonesome drive through Canada's forests or along the Californian seafront. Don't get me wrong though, there is still plenty of songs on this record to wave that long hair around in a mosh pit to, with third track 'Reality Check' giving a subtle hint towards what Man Overboard might be like if they had gone for a full pop-punk sound instead, 'Cliffhanger' has a small nod towards screamo with its backing vocals, and 'Invisible' provides the shout-your-heart-out sing-along lyrics every emo band worth their salt needs on an album. 
I really can not put my finger on Heavy Love. I like it, and I would encourage anyone to go buy it. But at the same time, if I were to see it played live, it would have to be a last day of the festival, opening up the main stage kind of deal; sitting down in a field nursing a hangover with a beer type of event.
Tracks to check out:
- "Borderline"
- "Reality Check"
- "The Note"
- "Invisible"

Sam Muckley

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Homebound - Permanence

8th September 2015

Hailing from Farnham, Surrey, Homebound have been gracing the scene for a couple of years now, and released their EP Permanence in July of this year via Failure by Design Records, and it is truly exceptional! Everything on this EP just fits together perfectly; all the instruments and vocals compliment each other flawlessly, and at no point does anything feel out of place, with all the tracks eloquently rolling into the next, giving a real sense of easy listening. Some critics may want to argue that the vocals sound strained and Americanised, but, in my opinion at least, this works well for Homebound, giving Permanence something extra, more edge. The lyrics on each and every song are also a showcase in writing talent from this relatively new band, treating us to what is (hopefully) a great deal more to come in the near future.
Tracks to check out:
- "Grounded"
- "Cave In"

Sam Muckley