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.

Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour

Sam Smith - In The Lonely Hour

By now Sam Smith is basically a household name, an impressive feat at only 22. His work on Disclosure’s Latch and Naughty Boy’s number one single, La La La, forced him into the public spotlight, earning him the winner’s spot on the BBC’s Sound of 2014 poll. Since then he has followed up with the singles Stay With Me and the incredibly catchy Money On My Mind, the opening track of the album, both of which have kept him well within the pop music spotlight in the run up to his album’s release. The record entered the chart at number one, immediately overtaking the Coldplay album Ghost Stories. The inspiration for the album came from ‘a guy I fell in love with’, in much the same way as Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange was about a relationship with another man. He describes his sexuality as a ‘non-issue’, which I have respect for, and he has also stated that he has never been in a relationship, but has felt unrequited love on numerous occasions, making the album’s name highly appropriate. We can tell, even before listening, that this album will fit into the same kind of category as Adele’s 21, a tough album to be compared with to say the least.

Have no misconceptions, this is a very lonely album. So lonely, in fact, that Money On My Mind is the only track not about love for another person, and even that is about love, but for music. I stand by the fact that this would have a more thorough message if he had released the single for free, and hadn’t made a load of money from saying that his career isn’t monetarily focussed, but that’s his decision and it’s still a very good song. The theme of the record does get a little tired after a while, and despite the use of different genres within the album, (such as the funk/disco in Restart, which was produced by Zane Lowe) it gets a bit samey and even mopey after a while. I feel that, had he focussed on the different aspects of the emotion he describes, such as the frustration and anger, for example, the body of music would be more of a living piece of art than it is. This does not detract at all from the incredible talent this man possesses, and how good he sounds on every track on the album. The acoustic version of Latch clearly displays this, as do Life Support and I’ve Told You Now, the former of which feels more passionate than other tracks on the album. Leave Your Lover is another track I enjoyed, as was I’m Not The Only One, a track which uses strings and piano to create a much larger and more orchestral sound, as opposed the kind of drum-beat focus of the rest of the tracks.

Overall the album is very easy to listen to, and is an extremely good pop-music release. I am pleased with it generally speaking, but I think there could be a lot more passion and emotion, to complement the clear talent of this individual. It is worth buying, but don’t expect it to be the best thing you’ll ever hear.

Pro Era – The Shift

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Almost all of my favourite rap artists are from the east coast, more specifically New York. It has produced not only some of the greatest independent rappers of all time, such as the Notorious B.I.G., JAY Z, Nas, Action Bronson, and so many more, but has also produced the majority of the best rap collectives ever to grace our ears, such as the A$AP Mob and the legendary Wu Tang Clan, it is almost natural, therefore, for Pro Era to emerge as a result of this melting pot of rap music influence. In a group like this there will always be individual leaders which drive the group into the spotlight, A$AP Mob have A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg, Odd Future have Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt, and Joey Bada$$ and Capital STEEZ were initially supposed to fulfil this role. However, tragically, on Christmas Eve of 2012, aged 19, STEEZ committed suicide. Since then Joey Bada$$ has more than made up for his absence, with the whole group coming up together as a unit. Their style stands out from almost all modern hip hop through their complex and incredibly sophisticated vocabulary, and their ‘old school’ boom bap production, where the likes of A$AP and JAY Z have moved on to more electronic styles. Listening to freestyles and tracks by the whole group simply displays the fact that every single individual associated with this collective is as good as the next. It is a hugely impressive talent base and every new release is something I look forward to.

The production on the EP takes the stage for me. Having just said that the group tends to stick to more classical hip hop styles, the production on this EP is much more electronic, however the boom bap is still there, but it is used more as a compliment. Kirk Knight really flexes here, providing the production for the first track, Extortion, and on the fourth track, On My Life. Other production is provided by Backpack on Hail Razor, Rocka-Mouth on Come Come, and by co-founding member Powers Pleasant on Butterflies, one of the iconic tracks in which almost all of the members showcase their abilities on a track roughly 10 minutes long, displaying the abilities of each individual involved in the collective. Butterflies, undoubtedly, takes it for me as the best track of the EP, which is probably unfair as it is almost three times the length of the other tracks, but the atmosphere is calm and communal, the kind of track which reminds the listener about what this genre is actually about. Come Come is also good, if a little more intense, but frankly I don’t think I can flaw this EP. Just listen to it as a body of a music and simply appreciate the raw talent displayed here.