Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Spotlight: Shiners (24/02/15)

Shiners grew up at the height of Britpop, with their parents' New Wave records on repeat. Although still learning to talk at the time, it had a lasting effect; the impact of these genres has created the sound that Shiners dub 'Britwave'. Having just supported Movie in London, their new track has been shared and it's one to listen to again and again!

'Karma (Is Coming To Get You)' Review:

This new track from Shiners is refreshing, yet you can still hear the influences of Britpop and New Wave music which they bring together to create BritWave. The guitars are reminiscent of 70s pop rock, such as The Kinks, with a steady beat, solid vocals and observational lyrics abut the modern world, coming together to create a wonderful sound that anyone should listen to.

Karma (Is Coming To Get You) - Shiners (link)

Shiners' Links:

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Chart: The Nights - Avicii

This is the latest track from Swedish DJ and music producer, Avicii, featuring vocals by American singer/songwriter Nicholas 'RAS' Furlong. 'The Nights' was featured on the FIAF 15 soundtrack and released as part of a four-track EP 'The Days/Nights' at the start of December (2014) and re-released as a single on 11th January (2015) in the UK and has peaked at #6 in the UK Singles Chart. 

Live Performance: British Weather - Decade

This live performance is from just under a year ago and Decade have grown so much since then, music and they've just announced their playing at Download Festival this year. 'British Weather' is one of the more popular tracks from their debut album 'Good Luck', which received a lot of positive reviews. 

Cover: Roxanne - Royal Blood

Royal Blood have risen to success over the past year and here's a recent cover they did of The Police's 'Roxanne'. This track was originally released on 7th April 1978 and peaked at #12 in the UK Singles Chart, even though it didn't become a Top 10 Single, it holds a place in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and made it's way into the Grammy's Hall of Fame. 

YouTube: It's About Time - Light You Up

Light You Up are another band that have blown up in the last few months and recently released their debut album 'All We've Ever Known'. Having been featured as a band to watch in 2015 by Rock Sound and much more media attention, their supporter count is growing. Enjoy! 

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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Spotlight: Molly's Dolls (17/02/15)

Spreading across two generations of the Heaton family, Molly's Dolls, consists of Chris Heaton (bass), his son Charlie (drummer), daughter Levi (guitar) and brother Trevor (guitar and vocals). Molly's Dolls comes together in the down time of Charlie and Levi's acting work (Charlie stars alongside Anna Friel in the forthcoming film 'Urban & The Shed Crew', whilst Levi has played supporting roles alongside Brenda Blethyn). Their creations come to life at Trevor's London studio 'The Gun Factory', former residents include The Horrors, and the first fruits of Molly's Dolls times at The Gun Factory can be heard in their new release, 'Fear of God', from a forthcoming mini-album set for release in the next few months... 

'Fear of God' Review:

This track has a steady beat and focuses on the guitars and bass, all working together alongside each other particularly well. The guitar also picks up on the vocals, highlighting the lyrics and pushing them together throughout the song. The video is also one of those simple music videos, which goes hand in hand with the the track. Overall, it's a brilliant song, reminiscent of Bombay Bicycle Club and some classic 80s and 90s guitary tracks. It also paves the way for their mini-album and if this track's anything to go by, it should be a great collection of songs. (Also, good luck getting this one out of your head, bet you can't stop humming along to it!) 

Molly's Dolls Links:

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Chart: Love Me Like You Do - Ellie Goulding

This song was recorded by Ellie Goulding and released on 7th January (2015) as the second single from the soundtrack to Fifty Shades of Grey. I'm not a fan of the idea or the hype around the books/film, but the soundtrack is out of this world! It's in the Top 10 in 16 different countries, including being #1 in the UK Singles Chart. 

Live Performance: Take Me To Church/I Put A Spell On You - Hozier & Annie Lennox

The Grammy's are always a great showcase of music, (even if the awards don't show that...), BUT the live performances are always a step up compared to others. This just squeezes my favourite performance of the evening. Combining Hozier 'Take Me To Church', which has been in the charts for 29 consecutive weeks (which will grow to a even longer time, I'm sure!)  and smoothly moving into Annie Lennox's cover of 'I Put A Spell On You', made popular by Nina Simone. 

Cover: Thinking Out Loud/I'm Not The Only One - Sam Tsui & Casey Breves

(It seems to be a week for mashups...) Casey and Sam's voices compliment each others' voices so so so well! 'Thinking Out Loud' and 'I'm Not The Only One' were both big hits for multi-nominated British artists, Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith. Enjoy this one, I've been left speechless. 

YouTube: Skinny Blues - Jeremy Loops

Jeremy is a brilliant musician based in Cape Town, South Africa, with a refreshingly energetic and passionate view towards music, specifically folk music. He often layers up his sounds using a loop pedal to create an easy-to-singalong to sound that echoes influences from folk, reggae, hip-hop and jazz. (He's also part of GreenPop, an inspiring project, which you can find out more about here.

Music In Time's Links:
Twitter: @musicintimeblog

Friday, 13 February 2015

Review: Rae Morris & Fryars (11/02/15)

On Wednesday, I headed to Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth (Southsea). It was a fairly easy venue to get to and there was a signpost pointing you in the right direction (which always makes the process of finding a venue easier).
There was a small queue but the doors opened promptly at 8pm, I found the security helpful and friendly – much appreciated when they can do their job without interrogating you!
A variety of people of different ages slowly filled the standing area, showing Rae (and Fryars’) music appeals to a diverse group of people. There was a fairly long wait before Fryars came on, which was only a shame because I was excited to see him.

Fryars came on stage and started with a ‘Yo!’ his opening song was a perfect summary of his music. A brilliant combination of  keys, guitar, a beat, his unique vocals and a chilled vibe that builds into electronic wonderfulness.
Next Fryars and his band performed ‘The Power’, a great song, with a rockier tone than some others but still quite steady. Again, there was a brilliant set up of guitar, drums, synths and vocals and the lyrics stood out on this one. The rest of the set was a cycle of chilled drumbeats, synths, mesmerising vocals and seriously awesome guitar. Including ‘On Your Own’, which stood out lyrically, ‘Can’t Stop Loving You’, which highlighted the skill of the guitarist, ‘Prettiest Ones Fly Highest’ which had elements that reminded me of Justin Timberlake and Bombay Bicycle Club, a weird but wonderful concept. They finished the set off with ‘Cool Like Me’, one of his most popular tracks, and I can totally understand why!

After a little pause of music, Rae came on stage to a big cheer, the clock ticking of ‘Skin’ started and her set was off to a superb start. ‘Grow’ was next, one of my favourite songs and seeing it live with added backing vocals and harmonies, was something special, and the whistling just finished it off perfectly. After, came ‘This Time’, Rae and her band created a brilliant atmosphere for this song, again the harmonies were on point and the steady drum beat added to that.
Title track of her debut album ‘Unguarded’ was next, the layers were built up and everything worked so well together. ‘Closer’ was just as great, with percussion, keys and bass standing out, a lot of people sung along to this one and it is definitely one of Rae’s more catchy songs – I had it stuck in my head for the near two hour journey home!
The set was slowed down again with ‘Don’t Go’, it was a very stripped back performance, allowing you to focus on the lyrics and vocals even more than previous songs and was stunning.
‘For You’ is another stunning song, with incredible vocals and harmonies presenting the lyrics (the cymbal builds were also impressive live…) 
Fryars joined Rae on stage for a performance of ‘Cold’, which was full of synths, beats, great harmonies and was a generally brilliant song that a lot of people sang along to.
‘Do You Even Know’ came next, yet again another brilliant song, which reminded me a little of Kiesza at times. This one got most people moving their feet and singing along to the chorus.

Rae stepped out from behind the keyboard/piano and started the final section of the set with ‘Morne Fortune’, her vocals and the keys accompanied each other so well, as well as the drums and bass, at times this song reminds me of Coldplay.
Then ‘Up Again’, another favourite song of mine that Rae features on with Clean Bandit. The synths and slightly slower beat creates such an atmosphere, this one was another song that the audience loved, with most singing along highlighting the lyrics.
She ‘finished’ the set off with ‘Love Again’, another upbeat catchy song showing her bands skills with each instrument as well as Rae’s vocals and songwriting ability.
Rae’s encore included ‘Not Knowing’, a slower and mellow song and concluded her whole set with ‘Under The Shadows’, the most recent single from her album.

Overall, Rae was incredible, she has stunning vocals, with an incredible range that seem so effortless. A brilliant band backing her and I’d just like to give major credit to Daisy the drummer. It was also refreshing to see all musicians on stage enjoying themselves and giving a fantastic performance, if you get the chance, go see Rae live, the gig is now in my Top 3 and I feel like I haven’t done it justice in my write up mainly because it left me speechless. I really hope this is Rae’s year!

Fryars' Links:

Rae Morris' Links:

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Feature: Jonas & Jane (10/02/15)

Jonas and Jane are an acoustic harmony duo from Surrey, England. 2014 was a pretty big year for them, having paired up in Spring after meeting on the gig circuit, as front singers of two separate bands. They discovered a mutual love of harmonies and country/folk music, they formed a musical act of their own. Jonas and Jane started playing local venues and recording their own material, leading to slots at Weyfest and Guilfest, seven consecutive shows in Texas (on their own mini tour), recording with Jack Saunders AND finishing the year with an EP to be released.

General Questions:

1. How old were you when you started getting involved in music and how?

Jonas: I started playing guitar when I was 12.
Jane: I started singing publicly at secondary school concerts at the age of 15 but started violin at the age of 8.

2. What is the most inspiring gig/concert/festival you've been to?
Jonas: The Eagles at the O2, 2014
Jane: Angus and Julia Stone live at Wilton's Music Hall, 2014

3. Who have you been listening to lately? 
Jonas: The Eagles, Osbourne Brothers, Tony Rice
Jane: The Eagles, The Stray Birds

3 Questions for Jonas & Jane:

1. Having toured Texas last year, what was your highlight and why?

Playing McGonigels Mucky Duck, there was an awesome crowd and it was a great stage.

2. What is your usual songwriting process (e.g. harmonies, melody etc.)?
We tend to start with the melody on an instrument and then add in lyrics and add in the harmonies last.

3. What is your favourite track from the EP and why?
Jonas: 'Take Me Away' because I tried to make my guitar sound like a pedal steel guitar.
Jane: 'When I'm With You' because it's the one I'm most proud of lyrically.

Random Q:

If you were on a desert island, what three items would you wish for?

Jonas: a boat, a life jacket and a pair of oars.
Jane: a guitar, spaghetti and Jonas.

Jonas and Jane EP Review:
Their debut EP opens with 'Well, This Time' which is full of harmonies and presents a mellow and relaxed vibe which is also seen when they perform this track live.  
'When I'm With You' is the next track, which is the upbeat song on the EP, it has a cheeky feel to both the lyrics and melody, however it also slows down for a section to produce the signature style of Jonas and Jane.  The penultimate song is 'Take Me Away' which is my favourite track off the EP, the opening guitar is reminiscent of Passenger and you can hear the influence of Texan music throughout and again as in all their songs the harmonies and lyrics are on point.  The EP finishes with 'We All Know' the lyrics and music create imagery allowing the listener to picture a scene, the overall raw sound is refreshing.  
Overall this EP produces well crafted lyrics, melody & harmonies.  It has camp fire and summer barbecue vibes and the instrumental works alongside the vocals incredibly well.

Jonas and Jane's Links:

Check It Out!

Chart: Cool Kids - Echosmith

'Cool Kids' is the catchy track from indie pop/rock band, Echosmith, from their debut studio album 'Talking Dreams'. It was originally released on 31st May 2013 as iTunes' single of the week and has slowly gained listeners from all over the world, but is currently sat at #17 in the UK Singles Chart and I'm quite surprised it hasn't got any further... 

Live Performance: Mother & Father - Broods

Broods are an 'electropop' musical duo from New Zealand, but here's a stripped back live performance of the track. 'Mother & Father' was released as their lead single from their debut studio album on 19th June 2014, unfortunately their music hasn't got as much recognition as I feel it deserves... 

Cover: Rolling Stone - George The Poet & JP Cooper

This track was originally by The Weeknd, from their first compilation album, Trilogy, which was released on 9th November 2012, which gained a lot of positive reviews. George The Poet and JP Cooper, work so well together to create an acoustic cover that stays in your mind as a song to listen to a lot. 

YouTube: Arrow - Louisa Wendorff

'Arrow' became #1 in Billboard's Heatseeker Chart and #2 in the iTunes singer/songwriter chart. Louisa gained a lot of interest after her mash up of 'Blank Space/Style' cover video with Devin hit over 17 million views and she has a new song on it's way to release very soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that... 

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Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Feature: Jennie Abrahamson (03/02/15)

Jennie Abrahamson spent a few years finding her musical ground in different bands and touring as a musician with other artists, but has now decided to go solo. Since her last album 'The Sound of Your Beating Heart', she has been touring Europe with her own music and as part of Ane Brun's band. Most recently Jennie has supported and sung alongside Peter Gabriel as well as being nominated as the Swedish Pop Artist of the Year at the Gaffa Awards. She now arrives with her first official UK single release 'The War', with her forthcoming album 'Gemini Gemini' on its way soon!

General Questions:

1. How old were you when you started getting involved in music and how?

I was born into a musical family and had music around all the time as a child, so it was just a natural thing. I never thought of music as being an optional career choice, not because it was forced upon me in any way but it was so natural to me. Music was what I was. I nagged my parents to get piano lessons and started my classical training at 5 years of age, and then I started bands in my teens, and on it went. 

2. What is the most inspiring gig/concert/festival you've been to?

Oh, hard to say! I guess different things inspire in different ways at different times. Being taken to my first really big show by my older sister when I was a kid - we saw the U2 Zoo TV Tour - was really something. Up until that day, I didn't know a musical show could be all that. And then, in a state of being quite tired of the music business and questioning my career choice, I saw two gigs within a week that completely swept me off my feet and reminded me why I'm in this - the MUSIC. The first was a festival gig with Bj├Ârk and her Icelandic choir and percussionist Manuel Delago, the second was The Manganiyar Seduction, an incredible show with 43 Indian muslim musicians that played Womad UK. 

3. Who have you been listening to lately?

I've listened a lot to the latest The War on Drugs album, it was really the number 1 on my 2014 top list. Also quite a lot of Blood Orange and Arcade Fire. And Swedish colleagues of course, Jonathan Johansson, especially worth mentioning. 

3 Questions for Jennie:

1. Name your favourite venue that you've performed in and why?

In Stockholm there's a beautiful venue right by the amusement park called Cirkus. I like it because it's a pretty big venue but it feels intimate, and has some sort of magic to it. Also; I got to play Red Rocks amphitheatre up in the mountains outside of Denver Colorado when supporting Peter Gabriel in 2012. That was maybe the coolest venue I've seen.

2. What inspires your lyrics and who influences you musically?
I remember using the catchphrase fine music/good books/bad people, and it's still not too far off from the truth. I think I write about whatever is on my heart at the time, or things that are happening around me - big or small. I'm very influenced by all the music my big sister played me as a child - like Eurythmics or Peter Gabriel, I still think in a bit of an '80s way when I produce music (big sounds, few layers). Then of course, I've picked up a lot of different influences along the way to adulthood and onwards, going through different musical phases. But I always come back to the '80s.

3. What process did you go through creating 'The War'? 
'The War' was actually the first song written for the album. I was filled with ideas around this lyrical theme after taking some classes in gender science and feminism at the university, and starting up a period of writing I need to make sure, first and foremost, that I have fun. I kind of need to find my way back to that childish attitude towards creating - that it's playful. So, I started out with playing around with a drum beat, and then wrote the whole song over that, melody and lyrics. After that I added strings and bass, and that was it. What ended up on the album sounds pretty much like my first demo of it, just that we replaced my software sound with real instruments.

Random Q:

1. A lyric/quote you live by?

It changes over time. But at a time when I was questioning if a music career really was a wise choice, I heard Jim Carey - of all people! - holding a commencement speech to a bunch of graduates. The bottom line was 'You can fail at what you don't want to do, so why not take a change of doing what you love'. That's something I've kept in mind since then.

'The War' Single Review:

This single is incredibly ethereal and atmospheric and I particularly like the underlaying beat throughout, which almost has a tribal feel to it. The synths also add to the track, alongside the layered vocals and as the song goes along, the layers of sounds build and the track ends with nearly haunting vocals. This track reminds me of St. Vincent, Lykke Li and Bjork and I'd definitely put Jennie up there in one of my favourite artists of this year so far and I'm now super excited for her forthcoming album! 

Jennie's Links:

Check It Out!

Chart: FourFiveSeconds - Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney

Released on 24th January (2015), 'FourFiveSeconds' is a song recorded by singer Rihanna, rapper Kanye West and musician Paul McCartney. It is the lead single from Rihanna's upcoming eighth studio album and comes after a previous collab between Kanye and Paul, 'Only One'. 'FourFiveSeconds' is a pop song but with strong country and folk influences and is doing well in the UK Singles Chart, peaking at #5. 

Live Performance: Genesis - Grimes

If you've heard of Grimes, the Canadian producer, artist, musician, singer/songwriter AND music video director, you've probably heard of her via her single 'Oblivion', which is one of her most successful releases to date, however this song came before and was the first single from Grimes' third studio album, 'Visions', which if you haven't listened to, really is worth it! 'Genesis' was released back in January 2012 and is still one of my favourite songs of hers now and I feel this live performance really does it justice, it's a long worth but totally worth watching and listening to! I promise! 

Cover: Problem - Hozier

'Problem' was a huge hit for Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea, considering it was a Top 10 single in loads of countries, as well as #1 in the UK Singles Chart and #2 in the US Billboard Hot 100. Here is Hozier, one of my favourite artists of 2014, covering it for the live lounge last week and boy does he cover it! Not only does he rock it up a little, he adds his Hozier stamp on the track with his live set up and a pretty nifty guitar solo and instrumental section in the middle... Enjoy! 

Classic: That'll Be The Day - Buddy Holly & The Crickets

Today is known as 'The Day The Music Died' and as Buddy Holly was a huge part of my soundtrack to growing up, I felt it was unfair not to give a nod to him today. Of course, it wasn't only Buddy Holly that died in the plane crash, Ritchie Valens, J.P. 'The Big Bopper' Richardson and the pilot, Roger Peterson were also killed. I feel it's important to remember that Buddy Holly was 22, The Big Bopper was 28 and Ritchie was only 17, they all offered so much to the world of music at such a young age, luckily enough for their music to live on throughout the years. 'That'll Be The Day' was a huge hit, becoming #1 in the US Billboard Hot 100 and #1 in the UK Singles Chart. But there's only so much that can live on and unfortunately, 55 years ago today, will always be known as the day the music died. 

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