Royal Blood – Royal Blood

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I have been waiting for this album since first hearing Out Of The Black almost a year ago, a track which catapulted the band directly onto the airwaves of almost every radio station with immediate effect. It became impossible to miss the juggernaut of sound that is Royal Blood, with the band drawing the attention of a ridiculous number of music ‘experts’, with the likes of Planet Rock lining right up next to Radio One and Zane Lowe to sing their praises. The level of attention led to the band landing a spot on the BBC Sound Of 2014, and different festival slots across the country and the world, including the likes of Glastonbury, Download, Reading, as well as many others. The band has somehow managed to find a sound that appeals not only to die-hard rock fans but also even the mainstream to a certain extent, crossing many boundaries and drawing fans from right across the musical spectrum. One of my favourite features of the band itself is the fact that two people manage to create so much sound, without losing any melody, with so much depth and significance to it.

This promises to be one of my favourite albums of the year.

The deep, bluesy wall of sound that characterises Royal Blood’s style takes centre stage throughout this album. In fact the album explores a vast variety of different genres, however the style seems to remain constant. Moments like the opening to Figure It Out hark back to the likes of ZZ Top, for example, with the flawless merging of rock and blues into a new genre, whereas Out Of The Black opens the album in a hard, almost punk fashion. The pace of the album also varies to a large extent, with tracks like Blood Hands frequently changing speed, without losing any of the raw power this band seems to specialises in. My personal favourite from the album is the single Little Monster. The track has such a significant thump, starting so early into the track, which almost knocks you out of your seat. That chorus, too, is absolutely anthemic (I’ve got love on my fingers, lust on my tongue…) and is almost impossible to avoid singing. This beast of a track has to be one of my favourite ever rock songs. This is followed by another fantastic track called Loose Change, a song with grit, edge and passion coming together to form a masterpiece, much like the entire album to be blunt. The sheer art involved in Ten Tonne Skeleton makes it another highlight. There is not a single part of the album that I even remotely dislike, and the fact that it is a debut makes it all the more impressive.

There is not much I can say for the album, frankly it speaks for itself. It is rare that a genre which has been as thoroughly explored as rock/blues produces such a refreshing album, and the album is worth buying even just for that reason. It is such a good album, from such a good band, and is something I cannot praise enough. For me, this album will become a classic, something I hope to show future generations to prove that not everything released in our time was like Justin Bieber and One Direction, and that rock music is very much still alive and kicking.

Sunken Monkey – Party Scars

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Party Scars is the second album for Lancashire band Sunken Monkey. The band formed in the early noughties, and whilst the band has changed its line-up a few times over the years it would appear that they have found a formula that works for them. The group draws influence from a range of different punk bands, from NOFX to Rise Against to Four Year Strong, but unlike most bands claiming this, their output is far closer to the punk side of things than the ‘pop-punk’. This is not to say that their music isn’t primarily beer-fuelled fun, but I would argue it is less cheesy than most modern punk bands. They also claim not to concern themselves with ‘worrying about our image’, something many pop-punk bands are guilty of. This is not intended to have a dig at pop-punk, more trying to give an idea of the character of Sunken Monkey.

Party Scars is basically a very fun album. It is based primarily on ‘anecdotes from the band’s personal lives’, with ‘short, catchy tunes’ to back it up. This is a promise the album lives up to completely. I would say the album sounds a lot like a less Celtic version of The Dropkick Murphys, with energy and grit and honest lyrics and shouty vocals. The pace remains fairly constant throughout. My personal favourites are the first two tracks, This Town’s Too Big… and That’s What She Said (‘fuck you too..’), and the track Pissing In The Wind, a song which lends quite a lot to the style of the likes of A Day To Remember through its incorporation of metal into the mix. I also think ‘Til Death Do Us Party is the perfect way to end the album. It uses acoustic guitar very much in the style of Frank Turner, sending the album off in an almost reminiscent farewell, just like the end of a party. In fact, the album is almost sculpted into the form of a party throughout: It starts hard, fast and optimistic, throughout the middle there is a blur of messy energy, and ends in a fashion fit for the end of a brilliant night.

In all, I would describe the album as a party anthem. The energy, honesty and messiness all form the ingredients for a great party-punk record. I would argue that even the faults improve the album, after all punk was never created to be perfect. The individual tracks are also incredibly catchy, with true artistic talent behind every single second of music, not just distortion and guitar so fast that you can’t hear the music. I conclude that the album is driven by the spirit of true punk, the talent of the individuals in the band and, of course, alcohol.

Jungle – Jungle

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Jungle are one of those projects which incorporates so much more character, more than simply music into their existence. Very little is known about the group, only that it comprises of two individuals, T and J who grew up together as neighbours in West London, and who initially met through Pokémon cards. This level of mystery adds a certain level of depth to their appeal, harking back to the likes of Daft Punk and the early days of the Gorillaz. A large amount of the attention given to the band can be credited to their incredible music videos, featuring various different styles of dancing. The video for The Heat features two incredibly in-sync and perfectly timed roller-skaters, Platoon features 6 year old B-girl Terra break-dancing and Busy Earnin’ features the dancing of an entire crew. The quirky nature of both their videos and their music, in addition to their secretive and cryptic nature, seems almost destined to bring the group fame, who achieved the prestigious BBC Sound of 2014 alongside the likes of Sam Smith and Ella Eyre at the end of 2013. They may have succeeded to date, however I’m not sure how they’ll be able to keep in the shadows after their debut release, as it will doubtless only attract more attention to the act.

I love the feel-good attitude of this album. The one track which is anything but thoroughly uplifting is Drops. Despite having 12 songs on the album, it amasses to only 39 minutes in length, with the tracks seeming to merge into one another. It is an album in its truest form, designed to be listened to as an album. If you are willing to give it your attention, listen to it in full in one sitting, it is so much the better this way. The groove of the album can transform any mood to fit the music, regardless of time or location, however I think that July is the perfect time for the album, and it reminds me of walking in the summer dusk.

There are a few outliers however, drawing my attention to them yet more that the rest of the release. Busy Earnin’ and The Heat are my personal favourites, however Lemonade Lake with its sweet and indulgent atmosphere almost feels like how I imagine walking into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory would be like, or a candy-cane filled bubblegum dream. When the album does slow down a little in Drops, it does so extremely well, with a very catchy chorus and enthralling, drowsy music. Despite this, as I said above, there is very little fault with the album, as it merges into a single body of continuous, cheerful music. It manages to stay diverse and varied without changing mood too frequently or even changing style.

This album is definitely worth your time, listen to it in full and appreciate it. In my opinion it is a rare great, one which I hope will stand the test of time. The style of the music is completely original, and I genuinely hop it receives the kind of commercial success it deserves.

Will And The People – Interview

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Will Rendle is the creative engine, lead singer and main songwriter behind the group Will and the People. I am privileged to say I have had the opportunity to interview him.

The group was founded in 2007 and since then have released two albums, Will and the People and Friends, the group are also currently working on a third album which is set for release in September 2014. The feel-good attitude of much of the band’s output has brought widespread attention since the release of their first album. Will is very much, as the name suggests, the driving force behind the band, writing the majority of the band’s output and leading the group despite regular changes to the band line-up in the early years, before finding consistency in 2009. The band have performed across the globe, achieving international fame, particularly in the Netherlands, and have performed before the likes of Jamie Cullum, The Vaccines and Green Day, amongst many others. The third album, Whistleblower, comes out in Autumn and will be one well worth keeping an eye out for.

How are you doing?
Recovering! I’m sat on a large pillow in the shape of a flower that ended up in our tour-bus after Glastonbury… I lost one of Jamies’ Dr Martins there so I think it was meant to be an apology tool… The things we do when we are out of it. . poor pillow owner. I’ll give it back if you ask me to!!

Have you been busy so far this summer?
It depends what you mean by busy… but by our standards we are about to enter a rather hectic period of constant travelling and playing shows and doing radio stuff and blah bloo blah…. I think they just call it going on tour… but it really is so much more than that!

What festivals might we be able to catch you at?
Kendall calling, Llarma tree festival, Boom Town Fair…. And a load of European ones as well! Best to just go here http://www.willandthepeople.com and find out I never have a clue what we are doing to be honest!

The date you have set for the release of your new album, Whistleblower, is September this year, how long has it taken to get to this stage?
This record has taken a year and a half to make… we went into the studio at the beginning of 2013… it was just a question of feeling like something was missing… up until now it was always about releasing something for the sake of it.. so we had something to sell at gigs… This time we have been thinking about it carrying us to the next phase of our career… wherever that may be.. to be honest there is always more one wants to do with recording music.. it can always be better.. there comes a point when you have to say enough is enough… Thriller (Michael Jackson) was recorded 12 times though! They really set the bar with that one..

Can you tell us anything about it or would you rather keep it all secret until its release?
It’s our best one yet… no doubt.

Many comment on your unique style, but how would you classify your own music?
I have absolutely no idea at this point… when I write a song I have an idea of how I want it to sound and it’s often very expressive for me… we don’t conform to one sound/style so it really is an open canvas for us…

Who would you say are your influences?
Most stuff…. Everything from Bob Marley to The Pixies…. We all really like adventurous, kooky music … like supertramp. and the doors, David Bowie.. current bands like ALT J and Whitest boy alive are also awesome… there is so much great music about nowadays… I like Hermitude and Caribou and James Blake… and have a soft-spot for uplifting trance music when driving very fast… Beakbot are awesome… very French.

What was the first gig you ever went to?
In Eastbourne – Bedouin Sound-clash supporting the ordinary boys…. I went to see Bedouin and missed my train waiting to get my hat signed by the singer… the gig blew my mind and everything went out the window… I was so fucking impressed I still remember it like it was yesterday…

Also, where do you get influence from when you write music?
It varies a lot… normally it’s something I think about which blossoms into a full fledged idea… normally I have two or three things running about at any one time… It’s just like a diary I suppose… some sort of release…

Talk to us about Baggy Trouser Music, I understand it’s your own label?
That’s right, I started it the day I was dropped by Sony BMG… It kind of seemed like the obvious thing to do. But it’s a longer roadf that’s for sure… to me that longevity is what its all about…

What would you say its mission statement is as a label?
To release music that stands the test of time, and give artists the freedom to blossom and not feel like a cog in a machine… so they can reach their full potential. And to become very successful at doing so..

How many bruises did you get filming Shakey Ground?
We all fell well when we did… somehow no one broke anything…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsNdWrinKpU

What’s the song you’ve had most fun with, in terms of writing, recording, performing, filming a video for, etc.?
Probably Trustworthy rock on our new album.. it was written on Bondi Beach in Australia when we were on tour… and then we threw an all night party (which went on a lot longer) to make the video… you can see it in our eyes we had been awake for a while… it was just pure rock and roll to be honest… moments like that are when you think… how the fuck did I end up here! Where the fuck am I? Actually I don’t care just give me another one.

Are you touring to celebrate the release of the new album in autumn? And if so, do you plan to stop off at Exeter?
I don’t know… but I should… but I don’t… I already told you that didn’t i… we actually did play in a venue called Mama Stones belonging to Joss Stone… but got banned for life for reason I wont go into… so we wont be there… but I am sure there are other places to play no!!???

Are there any questions you always wish you’d be asked?
Do I make you horny baby!? Well…. DO I…. ?? That one always gets me…

Knytro – The Griffin EP

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The name is actually an acronym, standing for Knowledge Navigated by Yesterdays, Truth, Respect and Originality. This should give some insight into the complexity of this ambitious, driven and talented individual. Born in London, as a boy Knytro moved to the home of some of the greatest rap artists of all time. Shortly after, he moved to Orlando, ‘O Town’, where he grew up and still lives today. Despite initially wishing to be an archaeologist, or scientist, Knytro’s sights have very much changed. His new goal is thoroughly uncompromising and perhaps optimistic, now wishing to be one of the greats of hip-hop. Don’t doubt his ability to achieve it though. He has worked his way up through small, intimate, sweaty venues until he finally caught the attention of MTA Records and Chase & Status. They even featured him on their latest album, Brand New Machine. He will continue to climb his way up ‘the ladder of history’, and in 5 years he hopes to be a ‘worldwide hip-hop icon’, and I wish him every success. He is appearing at festivals across the UK throughout the summer, on bills alongside The Game, Public Enemy and Snoop Dogg, so maybe his end game isn’t that far out of reach.

The Griffin ‘not only stands for the truth, he guards it’ and is intended to represent Knytro himself as a symbol, ‘Born as a Lion, Raised as an Eagle’ forming a kind of tagline for the artist. The EP also acts as a kind of representative for the artist, giving fans and potential fans a kind of taster of the talent possessed by him. Every song is commendable in its own right. Capone is aggressive, even dark, with some of the greatest lyrics I’ve heard in too long. Guinness is a personal favourite for the artist, with deep emotional meanings for him, I would also argue that it has the best production, verging on psychedelic. Ms. Cola is relaxing and soothing, a really pleasant track that I could listen to all day, wish more than a nod of acknowledgement to the world of boom-bap hip hop. My favourite is My Motive. It sums the artist up well, with a heavy drum beat and soothing production, a catchy and repetitive chorus and immaculate lyrics throughout. The flow is untouchable, the artist couldn’t hope for a better song as a sample of his ability.

The EP is basically fantastic. I can’t imagine any hip-hop purists coming forth and suggesting that this release is anything less. If you don’t know Knytro yet, you will. He’s coming.

Cerebral Ballzy – Jaded & Faded

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Cerebral Ballzy have been hailed as the new kings of punk, real punk, since their 2011 self-titled debut, an album which landed the band festival slots and tours across the globe, in turn drawing attention to the group for their uncompromising and riotous live performances. One individual attracted to the character of this five-piece punk rock machine was Julian Casablancas of The Strokes and Cult Records, under whom the band have gone on to release this album. This has led to a subtle change in the tone of the output of the group, with an apparent intention to bring ‘more melody, more ideas, more thought’ to the table for this release. That said, punk rock and hardcore still very much take the centre stage, they haven’t changed too much.

The album totals roughly 26 minutes of run-time which, despite being 7 minutes and only one song longer than their first album, is a very short album. Songs like Lonely In America, only 3 minutes in length, feel extremely long. This is down to the speed of tracks like Speed Wobbles, managing to pack a ridiculous amount of music into only a minute. The album is as energetic and punchy as the first, however the promised melody is definitely present. For example, tracks like Fake I.D. open with incredible riffs before kicking into all out brutality. Although this results in the loss of some of the genuine feeling of their previous releases, it does improve the band’s style of music in terms of being genuinely good to listen to, in my opinion. Honor Titus’ voice is highly iconic, and forms one of the factors separating the group from other contenders in the punk rock game at the moment.

Fake I.D. is one of my favourites on the album, alongside Parade Of Idiots and Another Day. The skate-punk attitude makes the album pretty ideal listening for the summer, with thrashy punk vibes but more meaning and arguably more depth than pop-punk, while remaining relatively cheerful/ballzy.

There are a few criticisms of the album, however, for example some argue that the addition of melody has resulted in a loss of genuine feeling and some of the energy. The band are maturing out of their angsty teenage years, a stage which compliments this genre so well, but I would argue that they are not losing out as a result. For example, the change of focus from manic speed and intensity toward a melody is a solid move for the band, as this way they simply add to their sound to change as they change as individuals. However certain tracks, such as Better In Leather, do float a little too close to the inspirations behind the band, particularly The Ramones.

The album is strong, additions to the sound allow the sound to live on through changes to individual lifestyles of the artists. The music is good, and despite not being as much about anger and other, more distinctly teenage, emotions it is still very good, very fast and very raw skate-punk.

Skrillex Eden Sessions – Eden Project 25th June 2014

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This is the second time I have been to an Eden Sessions event at the Eden Project, in Cornwall, however this is the first time that my family and I have taken the whole day to explore the biomes and the gardens surrounding them prior to the evening’s performance. It really does make for an incredible day and night out together, and if you do intend to attend any events there in the future I thoroughly recommend that you spend the day appreciating Eden itself beforehand. It is an amazing project with an even better cause, constantly looking to expand and improve itself, working around the world on various causes at any given time. Not only this, but it creates an awe-inspiring venue. Eden Sessions are run throughout the months of June and July each year on a stage in the gardens, with the biomes forming a breathtaking backdrop, which seems especially fitting for Skrillex’s space-themed new album. In an ideal world I would hold every music event here; I love it as a venue.

Chris Lorenzo opened his set to virtually no one, bar the diehard Skrillex fans who had literally sat at the gate since 12, and the people sat around the edge of the amphitheatre enjoying the last of the sunlight. The music was pretty ideal for relaxing into the evening prior to the chaos that would be to come. He brought all kinds of house to the table, and introduced the evening well as the crowd began to slowly build.

If you think nothing genuinely new can be created under the name of house music, listen to Tchami. House has been, some would argue, overdone so far this year, however it never ceases to amaze me what people can do to a genre. Tchami is one of these people. He manages to find a space in the genre never before explored, and manages to exploit it unbelievably successfully. Not only this, but he opened with Gangster’s Paradise by Coolio, obviously winning brownie points immediately. He also incorporated Bonkers by Dizzee Rascal into his set, which was awesome. It does surprise me that an artist as diverse as Skrillex would stick to one genre for his support acts, however this is not a complaint. Tchami’s set was just good, very good. Seriously, listen to him.

For Skrillex, the stage set was extremely toned down. This was made up for with the graphics in the background, which can only have been taken directly from a very intense trip. I will say no more about that, other than that it was very surreal, again not in any way a complaint. The set itself was as chaotic as I’d hoped, and had as little regard for genre as I’d hoped. He played everything I’d expected and then some, with variations on old alongside the freshest of his new music from his album Recess, in amongst tracks from those on his label and his friends. He was exactly as good as I thought and hoped, despite playing to a very surprisingly small crowd.

Since we’re discussing the crowd, it is only appropriate to criticise (my only real criticism) the militant bro-ship of about 20% of the crowd. There were enough shirtless, amped up dickheads desperate to display their masculinity without a proper knowledge of how to mosh properly for almost every pit to turn into a fight. Also it has never been ‘one more tune’ to call for an encore. I know it’s a petty criticism but it really annoyed me.

In all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable event, celebrated by people from all walks of life, from really intense Skrillex fans of 9 years old to old rockers and old stoners. This is something that I have always appreciated about this artist, his ability to send absolutely anyone completely bezerk. I was thoroughly impressed by this event and I enjoyed it greatly. I was fully satisfied by the performance, and definitely recommend that you take any opportunity to see the man at work over the summer.