Sunday, 3 January 2016

TIPS FOR 2016


Let’s face it, you’re going to be reading a hell of a lot of ‘Tips for 2016’ features, heck, I’ll even be part-responsible for some of them. Many will include the same names over and over again, whether that’s because of sheep following sheep or the sign of incredibly talented acts, is down to you to decide. That’s why, I want you to read this post as more of a, “They may not make it big but you should 100% give them a listen anyway” guide. So, here you go, a long list of acts who all deserve your attention in 2016. 

Crooks
Once a hidden gem of the hardcore world, Crooks have developed and adjusted their sound substantially within the past twelve months, dropping one of the most standout albums of the year with ‘Are We All the Same Distance Apart’. Gutsy screams and erratic riffs are less present compared with the early work and instead you hear spine chilling vocals, raw and emotional songwriting with an intensity that’ll take your breath away. I cannot sing their praises enough and with a support slot alongside Cohered and Cambria and Glassjaw in the near future, things are only going to get bigger and better for Crooks. 



Boston Manor

These chaps crept their way into my life almost exactly a year ago after interviewing them on the January ’15 Moose Blood tour. Since then I’ve watched them play shows with As It Is, This Wild Life and Creeper, sweat their guts out at the Summer Festivals and establish themselves as one of the most exciting acts in pop-punk with a major signing to Pure Noise Records. 2016 will only see Boston Manor grow even more, and I for one am cheering them on because hell, they deserve it. 



Wallflower

British emo at its finest. I managed to catch Wallflower recently and I was genuinely surprised at how bloody brilliant they are as a live band. Sure, they're not doing anything overly new or groundbreaking but their grunge influences, moody persona and knack for crafting a melancholic masterpiece is what grabs your attention.


A Will Away

These Connecticut emo-punks are a recent addition to my record collection, and their EP ‘Bliss’ is currently on a constant rotation. There’s no denying that there has been a surge of emo-influenced bands since Moose Blood hit the scene, but these guys tug on heartstrings with pop sensibilities and a Jimmy Eat World-esque aura. Tracks such as ‘Ten or Eleven’ and ‘Be Easy’ have already got me lusting after hazy summer days and I cannot wait to hear what is to come from these guys in 2016. 



Zoax

All you need to do is watch Zoax live to understand why they are utterly fantastic, and with their debut album out sometime within the next 12 months, shit’s about to drop. 



KYKO

I begun working with KYKO in the very early stages of his career, when his debut single ‘Animals’ was taking the Soundcloud world by storm. His debut EP of the same title was released in the spring and gained him a lot of recognition, and having signed with independent UK label LAB records in the latter part of the year, 2016 will see the young songwriter flourish. If you adore the sounds of Saint Raymond and The 1975, KYKO will be right up your street. 



Jack Garratt

If there’s one man who EVERYONE will be talking about next year, it’s Jack Garratt. He’s already nabbed the gong for the BRITS Critics Choice Award, making the BBC Sound of 2015 long list (which he’ll probably win) and has sold out all of his headline London shows thus far as well as recently joining Mumford and Sons at the O2 recently. With a voice to melt butter and a beard to make men envious, Garratt’s technological skills will see him go far in 2016. 



The Beach

Remember when Ben Howard was nothing but a chill surfer from the shores of Devon, who created outstandingly beautiful music with just his voice and an acoustic guitar? Say hello to The Beach, a young solo artist who’ll get your emotions all up in a tangle. Since Mr Howard wondered down a path filled with dark and electric melodies, the UK has been somewhat lacking in unique and soulful male acoustic artists (and no, Ed Sheeran doesn’t count), and The Beach most definitely fits the bill. Stick on ‘Home’ and wind down with a candle or two. 



The Gospel Youth

I’m totally allowed to be biased here, because, well, it’s my blog. I’ve been working alongside The Gospel Youth since the first half of 2015 and although sometimes they make me mad, I could not have more faith in this small group of guys. All of them are incredibly talented musicians, Sam’s voice is soulful and powerful while Julian makes magic happen with his songwriting, producing and overall work on each and every song. 2015 was only the beginning for The Gospel Youth and I could not be more proud and excited to see what is ahead. 



Fatherson

It’s a fact that Scotland produces the best music, with Twin Atlantic, Prides and The Proclaimers all calling it their home. However, a personal favourite of mine is Fatherson, a trio from the delights of Glasgow. Their debut album ‘I Am An Island’ still frequents my record player over a year since its release and vocalist Ross Leighton’s vocals are one of few that can send shivers up my spine. Having signed to Easy Life Records recently and with new material and a UK tour on the way, 2016 looks to be a magnificent year for Fatherson.  



Broadside

By far, one of the most underrated pop-punk bands of 2015, more people need to pay attention to Broadside. Their debut album ‘Old Bones’ has left me in a whirlwind of pop-punk meets hardcore riffs for months and I have no intention of calming down whenever I put the record on. If A Day To Remember and State Champs were to have some form of musical baby, then Broadside would be the end result and if that’s not enough to convince you to listen then I don’t know what is. 



Rory Indiana

Big, beefy and from Brighton (F yeah alliteration!). Rory Indiana have got that enticing Arcane Roots vibe, destroying your ear drums with mind blowing riffs, while retaining a sort of indie swagger and English charm. Expect new material from these young lads very soon and trust me when I say it’ll blow your bloody socks off. 



Faux

Being biased again but whatevs. If you like your indie-math-pop then Faux will tickle your pickle. Recent single ‘Swimmingly’ has racked up a whopping 10,000+ views on YouTube and that’s just the beginning of what’s to come. The new EP will be a treat for fans of Foals, The Xcerts and the like and will undoubtedly put them on everyone’s radar. 



Youth Club

There’s no denying that pop music has had a large influence on my music choices the past year, and Youth Club’s jingling melodies make it impossible to be sad when listening to them. Supported by LAB Records and with recognised nods from BBC introducing and the indie blogs, these guys deserve a place on your summer soundtrack. I dare you to listen to their songs and not dance, GO ON, I DARE YA.  



Walking On Cars

Another one for you folk/indie lovers. Irish bred Walking On Cars grabbed my attention with debut single 'Hand In Hand' last year, and each release since was warmed my soul that little bit more. I finally managed to catch them live at Reading Festival in the summer and they did not disappoint. With their debut album due for release at the end of January, I for one can't wait to let the grainy, yet soothing vocals of Patrick Sheehy whirl around my mind while the twinkling piano melodies fill me with joy. 


Authors

We’ve all been waiting for a band to come along with a vocalist that can match the angelic tones of Jonny Craig, just y’know, without the massive ego and idiocy. Welcome Authors, from Birmingham, this alternative outfit have got a huge amount of power in their songs and although small have the talent to really make something of themselves. New single ‘Terminal’ is just a small taster of what is to come from the band and I eagerly await the next instalment. 




Think I missed someone off this list? Let me know! 

*Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/428897564488586426/

Sunday, 28 June 2015

How to survive Festival Season 2015


Hello again World,

It's been a while, but to say life got a bit mad is an understatement. But, with summer finally making its way over, I've found myself dreaming of long nights spent on the beach and weekends spent in fields soaking up the Festival atmosphere, cider in one hand and the other raised in the air or wrapped around a friend as we sing a long to our favourite bands.

Festival season is my favourite time of year (aside from Christmas and my birthday, because presents, duh), as it's a time when I get to spend many a weekend away from 'the real world' and surrounded by those I don't often see due to life commitments.

I'd like to call myself a bit of a Festival expert now, having attended the likes of Reading, 2000 Trees, Bestival and many others since the ripe old age of 18 (that's six years FYI). I've attended both as a paying customer and for work purposes and although Festivals vary in style, size and atmosphere I've picked up a few tips and tricks along the way.

So, without further or do (that's an odd saying isn't it?) here's my guide to surviving Festivals this summer.

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Step One: Choose your Festival + know your crowd

If like me, the thought of going on a lads/girls holiday to Zante or Magaluf sends a shiver up your spine, you're probably going to want to avoid V Festival, Parklife and the like. I went to WILD LIFE festival recently and although (most) of the music was great, the crowd and general atmosphere was just not for me.

Bigger isn't always necessarily better either. I love Reading Festival, don't get me wrong, but my favourite UK Festival will always be 2000 Trees. It's a 5,000 capacity music paradise set in the Gloucestershire countryside. The line-up alone makes me gooey-eyed every year, but add to that the warm, friendly atmosphere, superb food & drink and the fact you can get from main stage to tent in under fifteen minutes makes it a winner for me.

So make sure you shop around for what suits you best. For family friendly, try Blissfields or Camp Bestival. For the hottest new acts check out Barn on the Farm, Green Man or Festival No.6. There's a Festival out there for every type of person, you've just gotta find the right one.

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Step Two: Tents and Camping

  • Double skin, always. (Not that kind you filthy buggers). Always make sure you buy a double skinned tent. This is Britian, it will rain and a single skin tent won't last five minutes in a downpour and everything inside will get soaked. Double skins are a little more difficult to erect, (I'm really not helping myself here am I?) but the extra effort will pay off when you're dry and snug while your mates are ringing out their sleeping bags and shivering in their damp clothes. 
  • Bring a pillow. Your neck will definitely thank you for it and no, using your backpack instead is not a good idea. 
  • Rollmats. Because sleeping on the ground for three days is going to leave your back in agony. Double up for extra cushiony comfort. 
  • Location is important. Don't be that guy who pitches their tent as close to the arena as possible, right on the walkway. Unless you don't actually plan on getting any sleep. Find a spot big enough for you and all your mates to camp together that is close enough to the toilets for the morning dash, but that is far enough away so your not getting a waft of toilet for the entire weekend. 
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Step Three: What to pack

Clothing
Remember you're there for a weekend, not a fortnight, keep it simple. 
  • Pair of jeans / one dress / 2-3 tops or vests
  • Warm layers for the evening i.e jumpers/cardigans - you WILL need these
  • Leggings/Trackies and a tshirt to sleep in. A baggy band tee will be ideal for this, but make sure you do change into different clothes to sleep in otherwise you'll struggle to keep warm overnight. 
  • Wooly hat. Because believe it or not, it's actually really cold at night when you're sleeping outside and a wooly hat will keep your head all snuggly and warm. 
  • A pair of boots or wellies. Personally I prefer my Doc Marten boots, just make sure they're waterproof and you don't mind them getting dirty. Also, don't wear wellies if it's 25 degrees just because of 'Festival fasion', your feet will melt. 
  • A pair of trainers. Again, ones you don't mind getting a bit dirty. You're going to be on your feet for a LONG time, make sure your footwear is comfortable and leave the sandals at home. 
  • A coat, or at least one of those really attractive pac-a-mac things because nobody likes to be soggy. 
Wash kit
  • Babywipes and dry shampoo will be your best friends. 
  • Packet tissues, because loo roll is like gold. 
  • Suncream. You'll be outside 90% of the time so protect yo'self!
  • Toothbrush & Toothpaste. (Also pack an old plastic cup to wash your mouth out after)
  • Plasters. Because wellies give you blisters worthy of Satan. 
  • Paracetamol & berrocca. Because hangovers. 
  • Tampons/Sanitary Towels. You never know when that bitch is going to appear. 
  • Condoms. In case you really do fancy some awkward, sweaty tent fun. 
  • Moisturiser. Preferably one with SPF in it to keep your face feeling fresh all weekend. 
  • Hand sanitiser. Everything you touch will be dirty, so keep this on you at all times. Wash your hands where possible as often as you can. 
  • Hair bands, clips etc. You'll need these come day three and your hair is looking a little worse for wear. 
  • Deoderant. You're not washing for three days, you're going to smell. 
Food & Drink
I know some people that will bring a weeks worth of food shopping with them to Festivals, and then I know people that bring nothing and spend a ridiculous amount of money on food at the Festival. These are both terrible ideas. 
  • Water. Water, water, water. Drink lots of water. Bring with you a 2L bottle (or two if you can carry them) and keep them full over the weekend. You'll get dehydrated and alcohol will only make it worse. 
  • Cereal bars, crisps, small snacks. Chuck them in your bag during the day and they'll keep your tummy happy until dinner time. 
  • Save approximately £8 a day for a hot meal in the evenings. Festival food is expensive but you owe yourself at least one good meal a day to keep you going. 
  • Breakfast. Personally, if I don't eat in the mornings I feel really sick so I buy a multipack of juice boxes and some tear & share brioche to munch on while my friends and I go over the events that happened the night before. 
  • Alcohol. Duh. Most Festivals don't allow glass so stock up on hip flasks or decant your spirits into plastic bottles. 
This should really be all you need, forget trying to cook a can of smartprice baked beans or a pot noodle. Ain't nobody got time for that. 

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Step Four: Essential Tips
  • Portable charger. It's 2015 for christ's sake, why don't you already have one?
  • Don't spend the whole time at your campsite drinking. You paid a lot of money to be here, go explore and discover some new music!
  • Don't go too mad. I'm not one to judge, but if you shove enough drugs up your nose and drink an entire crate in one evening, you're probably going to make a complete tit of yourself and forget everything you saw that day. What's the point? 
  • Don't hold your poop in. I know the toilets are gross but just try not too look. Your stomach will hate you if you try and keep it all in.  
  • Head to clashfinder and print off a timetable before you go, that way you don't have to pay a tenner for a lanyard and you can make a rough plan of what bands you can see. 
  • Bring enough cash with you, but not too much. The average cost of a full Festival weekend is £200, but you can totally do it cheaper than that. £100 is a comfortable number, although to be honest I usually survive on about £60. Don't bring anything more than £200, because if you lose that you'll kick yourself. Remember to always keep it on you in a safe place, which isn't easy for thieves to get to, because unfortunately yes there are people out there to knick your stuff at Festivals. 
  • Finally, have fun. Don't plan your days down to the minute, embrace the atmosphere and do some exploring, there's always something going on to enjoy. Forget about work and make the most of your weekend away! 
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And that's it! Your guide to surviving Festivals this summer, if you have any other tips throw them my way and if you're at 2000 Trees or Reading this year come say hello! 

All images taken from: http://www.twothousandtreesfestival.co.uk/

Monday, 2 February 2015

Let's all stop being dicks to each other at shows


I fear this blog is starting to become a place to rant about everything, but hey something happened at a show and it really pissed me off.

Saturday night I headed down to my favourite local haunt to watch a band that I've been admiring and promoting for well over a year now, I was super stoked and well prepared to have a brilliant evening. I was also working this show, and by that I mean I was interviewing one of the bands on the bill and reviewing the entire show.

The venue in which the show took place is fairly small, it's a basement venue that can hold 200 people at maximum capacity, and this was a sold out show. The stage isn't all that large and visibility can be limited unless you're fairly near the front. Now, remember I am working this show, so really I need to try and get a decent view of what's going on - it wouldn't be much of a review if I stood at the back unable to see anything. I wouldn't have been able to see the lights decorating the drumkit or the stage invasion that happened at the end of the set. I also understand that when a venue is as small as this, it can be annoying when you have people pushing through, bags bashing around and having your toes stepped on is never enjoyable, but in a venue like this it's gonna happen.

So there I am, trying to push my way through to the front section of the crowd, hand in hand with my friend (also a big fan of the band), some let us through kindly, others were a little stubborn so sometimes you just gotta push. Whenever I find myself in the situation of trying to push past people I always make the effort to say "excuse me" and "thank you" as I make my way through, I've found it calms peoples annoyances and hey, manners don't cost a thing.

Then I feel a big old push on my back and I fall forward, (by this point I'm at a suitable place in the crowd to see the stage, a few rows from the front), I regain myself and brush it off. I feel another push, I fall forward. I turn around expecting to see some douchebag teenager thinking it's funny to shove me around just because I'm either A) a girl or B) they're annoyed I pushed past. Instead, I'm shocked and a little disappointed to be met with a very moody faced man, who is at a guess in his mid-thirties, surrounded by three middle-aged women also looking very annoyed. He flicks his hand in my face and angrily tells me to "go on, go forward". For one I cannot actually get any further forward and also, I'm sorry what? Are you really that angry that someone has pushed infront of you? Have you ever been to a gig before? Are you just an arsehole?

I didn't retaliate well, infact I'm fairly certain I told him to "fuck off", but that's what happens when you continually push me because you're a little pissed I've gotten infront of you. I turned back to face the stage, ignoring him because I didn't want this to get messy. He pushed me again. I turned to face him again, I refrained from swearing at him, or you know, punching him square in the face which is what I would have liked to have done. The women at this point are also trying to get involved and are shouting something at me. I shout at them to just stop it, my angry face is on and I repeat myself a good few times before they eventually stop and I can go back to my business.

What I can't understand is why they all thought this was acceptable behaviour? Okay yes, I pushed infront of them, my bag may have bashed them on my way past, I may have accidentally knocked them. But you're at a rock show that is sold out, you're gonna get people pushing around. I've seen similar behaviour from teenagers who think it's funny, but full grown adults? Come on now, that's just petty and you look like an absolute jerk.

My point here is, we all need to stop acting like arseholes to each other at shows. We're all there for the exact same reason, because we love the bands, we all want to see them and have a great night. There's no need to be rude, there's no need to have a go at someone pushing infront of you. If you're the one squeezing to the front, remember to say please and thank you as you pass and if you're really against being knocked around when you're adamant about standing at the front, just fuck off to the back, we don't need you here ruining our party.