ALBUM REVIEW: Boys Noize – 'Mayday'

Most people are unaware of Germany’s big techno scene and thus, are probably also unaware of Alex Ridha, aka Boys Noize. The Berlin-based producer started out in 2007 with his album Oi Oi Oi, ruthlessly banging brute electro beats in German club kids’ ears. By now, Boys Noize is among the most well-known techno DJs in the world, having collaborated with Skrillex as a duo called Dogblood, and played in sold out venues like Fabric. Boys Noize introduced me to techno with his 2009 club-tune ‘Jeffer’ and soon I found myself on my first ever rave with Boys Noize headlining. That’s why Boys Noize holds a special nostalgic feeling for me and it worried me when new song ‘Starchild’, featuring lyrics by singer Poliça, was released 2 months ago on his YouTube channel.

The first released song from his new album Mayday sounded more like Disclosure and other commercialised electronic music in the charts (not that I don’t like Disclosure, but in my opinion techno should feature less lyrics and more hard bass). But my anxiety that another of my favourite electronic artists had turned mainstream was unfounded and I was positively surprised to find that Mayday opens with 3 really convincing tracks. All of them are dark and vicious tracks a la Boys Noize style, that belong perfectly into a sweaty, flickering underground club, clanking the bass between the crowd. I can’t deny that the next song ‘Rock the Bells’ is captivating, but sampling Run DMC’s ‘Peter Piper’? Missy Elliot already did that back in 2002, so I immediately had the word unoriginal in my mind.

‘Euphoria’ and ‘2 Live’ both feature memorable melodies, but the songs take too much time to actually start and I was immensely annoyed by the added pop lyrics as the track would have worked better on its own. After this point the album comes to a long haul, because nothing really seems to happen. The tracks are not distinctively weak, but quiet repetitive and similar sounding. The next-to-last song ‘Hardkotzen’ I had to skip, because it was simply inaudible and gave me horrible headaches, which I guess because of the song title, was Boys Noize’s intention (‘Hardkotzen’ translated means ‘Vomiting harshly’).  The last track ‘Birthday’ stands out because of its rap lines by Hudson Mohawke und Spank Rock and bubblegum-pop beats, which is why at the end I’m still not sure if I really liked the song or absolutely hate it.

Whereas the album started out by surprising me with confetti tracks, Mayday dropped in the middle because of solid, but not really grandiose and innovative tracks, that are too repetitive. Boys Noize is missing something in these new tracks, most notably the spirit and ambition from his previous work.

Review by Carolin Wolfsdorf

 

GIG REVIEW: Majid Jordan @ Heaven Club, 30/05/16

Canadian R&B duo Majid Jordan started their European tour with a sold out event at the popular night club Heaven in London, in which they showed how amazing they were in both their performance and crow pleasing aura. This was clearly shown in their ability to keep fans moving, cheering and active for the time they were on stage (even with a range of female clothing being launched at them, much to this reporter’s surprise.)

Perhaps the most interesting factor of the event was the musical duo taking musical cues not just from the R&B scene but elements from trance, soul and reggae. With a hint of newretrowave design (with regards to the background), it created a very unique musical backdrop that plays to the strengths of Jordan Ullman’s producing skills and Majid Al Maskati’s lyrical skill. As such, there was an interesting mix of some very different style of music, along with Majid’s ability to keep the crowd active throughout the performance. This not just with the skill of the crowd singing, but also by their willingness to record the event, clap when required and even request an encore to end the night.

Perhaps the only flaw I could have is that at certain points Majid seemed to a bit reserved, but this may have been due to technical difficulties or just nerves for this first night on his European tour. However, these were minor issues that would not significantly take away from an amazing event showcasing perhaps some of the most interesting musicians to come out of the R&B scene for some time. The next stop on their tour is Manchester on the 31st of May, followed by Paris on the 2nd. Nevertheless, if this show was any indication of the duo’s skill then the following events will only get better and could truly bring an interesting and unique style of R&B.

Review by Syed Aadil Ali

TRANSVIOLET: "Seeing the World Not As It Is, But How It Could Be"

Among a wave of young artists writing songs which not only represent entertainment, but also a defiant statement that their generation is as aspirational and determined as any other previously, US electropop quartet Transviolet stand out not only for their brilliant music but also the message behind it. Sarah McTaggart (vocals), Judah McCarthy (guitar), Michael Panek (bass) and Jon Garcia (drums) were in the midst of their first headline tour of the UK when Insanity Radio caught up with them. At the Boston Music Rooms in London, we met to talk about their music, “millenials”, and their plans for the summer festival season and beyond.

Insanity Radio: How has your tour been going so far?

Sarah: Amazing! It’s our first headline run in the UK, so we didn’t know what to expect, but a lot of the kids we met on the Twenty One Pilots tour have been coming to these shows and it’s been fun.

Insanity: So far, what have you found are the main differences between touring in America and here in Europe and the UK?

Sarah: You guys have a lot of stairs.

Mike: The drives are much shorter.

Judah: Yeah, it’s easier to get from venue to venue. Also, most venues and clubs here allow younger kids in, which we’re very appreciative of as a large number of our fans are younger. We prefer having younger kids in the room ‘cause they’re crazier, louder and get the older cool kids to get into it too.

Insanity: How have you found the difference between playing as a support, as with Twenty One Pilots, and stepping up to play your own headline shows?

Sarah: I think as a support act, the people there are usually there for the headliner, which is great ‘cause you’re making new fans, but the pro of being a headliner is that the crowd are there for you and are singing your songs back to you.

Judah: When the people in the room are singing at the same volume as the music coming from the stage, that’s awesome.

Insanity: You’ve got a four-track EP out right now, what is your favourite song on it to perform live?

Sarah, Jon and Judah together: “Night Vision”.

Mike: For me, “Bloodstream”’s pretty fun.

Judah: Yeah, we’ve been opening our set with “Bloodstream” and it’s a cool dark, heavy way to start the set.

Sarah: And we’ve added a new intro to it, which is pretty awesome.

Insanity: Nice! So when you write songs, do you think about how you’re going to play them live?

 Mike: I hadn’t, but now I’m starting to.

Judah: On our record, and with all the songs we’ve written, I record as much guitar as possible so it’s impossible to play live.

Sarah: There are normally about seven layers.

Judah: I can’t recreate it, so I have to write something new to play live!

Insanity: When you’re writing songs, do you tend to start with one musical idea, or a lyric; how does your songwriting process work, in effect?

Sarah: I think it’s different every time, sometimes I’ll come in with vocals over piano chords, ask the guys what they think about it and start adding things. But sometimes it’s the opposite, one of the guys, who all produce now, will come in with a track and ask what we think about it, so then I start writing vocals over that. It’s different every time.

Insanity: The lyrics to Girls Your Age” struck me as very emotional and interesting, did that come from a personal story?

Sarah: Definitely, it’s my personal coming of age story, talking about the first time I was in love, or thought I was. It’s about being young and a bit naïve, and being in love with somebody older, and looking back trying to understand those feelings now that I’m older. It’s kind of a cliché, the younger girl falls for the older guy and she’s manipulated, but I don’t know if I was manipulated or who was manipulating whom. I couldn’t work out fully what the story was, so I wrote the song to try and figure it out myself.

Insanity: The other standout song on the EP is “New Bohemia”. It’s a very positive way of presenting young people which is rare in the media, was that a conscious decision?

Sarah: Yeah, I was looking for a way to describe our generation as I saw it, because there is a stigma about our generation that everybody’s entitled and lazy, and we have no game plan for the future, but I don’t think that’s the case – I think there are a lot of young people who are intelligent and resourceful and want to change the world for the better.

Insanity: British media right now seems to have an obsession with the term “millenials”…

Sarah: Yeah it’s the same in the States. It has a really negative connotation attached to it. I feel like we’ve been handed a timebomb, told to suck it up and stopped whining.

Insanity: What’s cool about “New Bohemia” is that it expresses that everybody is individual, in contrast to the idea of “millenials” putting a blanket term on people with real differences.

Sarah: It labels everyone in the same way, as if we’re all just sitting here chanting Drake lyrics and drinking or something. Not all millenials are the same.

Insanity: In summer you’re coming back for Reading & Leeds Festivals, have you done any big festivals in Europe before?

Jon: We just played our first festival, but we didn’t know it was going to be a festival.

Judah: Until we got there we had no idea what it was!

Sarah: When we got there it was fun. It was called “Les Nuits”.

Judah: (Struggling with French pronunciation). It was “The Nights”, anyway, in… French? Anyway, it was awesome, a great country to play in.

Insanity: Do you know much about Reading & Leeds, or the lineup?

Judah: We’ve been asking around since we got here.

Sarah: Everyone tells us to wear shoes we don’t mind getting messed up.

Judah: We’re playing quite a few festivals this summer, and I don’t want to know too much about the lineup ahead of time ‘cause at any festival we do play, there’s so many bands that we want to see but there’s no time. You show up, play your set, do promo and press and then you leave.

Jon: I know we’re playing the same day as Red Hot Chili Peppers so I’m looking forward to that.

Sarah: Isn’t Die Antwoord playing? I want to see them if there’s any way, they put on quite a show.

Judah: I know the lineup’s incredible, I remember looking through it and thinking “oh my god!”… it’s stacked.

Insanity: Are you planning on putting out any new music before then?

Sarah: Probably not… it’s not up to us, we have music finished and ready to go, we’re ready to put it out when everyone else is.

Judah: We’re sitting on a trigger just waiting for the word.

Insanity: If there were any festival or venue in the world you haven’t played yet that you could, what would you pick?

Mike: Red Rocks is what Judah would say.

Judah: Well that’s a venue, but Glastonbury is the top of my bucket list. We’re also playing Governor’s Ball in the States this year, which is a big one for me. There’s so many…

Sarah: Coachella!

Jon: Coachella would be cool ‘cause it’s so close to all our friends in California; it’s where they all go.

Mike: I know which one I want to play, it’s one in Alabama called Hangout Festival, it’s on the beach and every stage is literally right on the water.

Judah: I’d like to do a tour like Lollapalooza, I know they have one in South America now, and I think they have one in Germany as well. All the festivals!

Insanity: You’ve toured America and you’ve been over here in Europe and the UK, where else in the world would you like to head to next?

Judah: Asia, Japan…

Sarah: I’d like to do Asia because it’s so culturally different to us.

Jon: Australia as well…

Mike: Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Kuwait… all the good ones!

Judah: Mike’s on tour by himself there! (jokingly) North Korea?

Insanity: So one final question: for someone unfamiliar with Transviolet, how would you sum up what your band represents?

Laura: Seeing the world not how it is, but how it could be.

Judah: Yeah, that’s good.

Mike: That’s the headline.

(Interview conducted by Michael Bird.)

Check out our gig review of Transviolet at the Boston Music Rooms. The band’s self-titled EP is out now.

GIG REVIEW: Transviolet @ Boston Music Rooms, 18/05/16

2016 has been a ludicrously exciting year for new music, and one of the bands at the very forefront of that are Transviolet. Having only released four songs to the world so far, they’ve already attracted an ever-expanding hardcore fanbase, many of whom were won over on their recent tour with Twenty One Pilots. As brilliant as their debut self-titled EP was, there’s no acid test quite like your first UK headline tour. Insanity caught Transviolet at a sold out show at London’s Boston Music Rooms, and they certainly did not disappoint.

Before that, though, the capacity crowd got a more than welcome taster of the talents of London’s own Miamigo. Drawing elements from The 1975 and The Killers and throwing them into a blender with 80s new wave textures and an intangible additional spice, the four-piece were consistently impressive over the course of their 30 minutes on stage. If anything, the set got better as it went on, building from fun electro-indie that entertained, but rarely excited, into more unusual sounds. The bluesy strut of “Forever” was particularly striking, with a chorus that shifted time signature so effortlessly it was barely noticeable. Ending their set with the intriguingly left-field minimalism of “Hard to Love”, Miamigo made more than a few friends among Transviolet’s fans.

If the ecstasy among many of those fans when the headliners took the stage is anything to go by, then they won’t be in venues as intimate as the Boston Music Rooms for long. “Bloodstream” is a genius choice of opener; the dark, pulsating synths of its recorded version bolstered live by heavier guitars and bass. Transviolet’s music as a whole is meatier and more “rock” in a live environment, and all four of the band members throw themselves into every crescendo without slipping out of the tight structure of the songs. Many good bands are full of energy, but great ones are made up of characters. Vocalist Sarah McTaggart is a captivating presence, assuming the role of mesmeric rock star but ensuring the focus is always on her chameleonic, stunning voice.

What’s also very reassuring about the band’s live performance is that they are very much a band, rather than a vehicle for their singer, and each musician plays an integral role in how the songs are recreated live, whether it’s Judah McCarthy’s varied guitar lines, the pumping bass undercurrent from Mike Panek or the great balance between sampled and full-on rock drums provided by Jon Garcia. Those songs are, without fail, excellent. Inevitably it’s the already released tracks that get the biggest reactions, but unreleased gems like the dreamy “Astronaut” make the imminent prospect of a full-length Transviolet album tantalising. “New Bohemia” is predictably rousing, while it’s obvious why “Night Vision” is almost unanimously designated the band’s favourite song to perform live, as its chorus hits harder and soars higher each time it bursts out of the speakers. The best is left until last, an encore performance of “Girls Your Age” that perfectly captures the dark electronic magic of its recorded version and sends the crowd home very happy indeed.

Transviolet’s show proves not only that they can recreate their songs in a live environment to a standard that equals, and at times even betters, the EP performances, but also that they have a catalogue of material at least as good that’s ready to be unleashed on the world. The band return to the UK this summer for the Reading & Leeds festivals, and if you happen to be going then they’re a part of the lineup you do not want to miss.

Review by Michael Bird

Check out our interview of Transviolet here. The band’s self-titled EP is out now.

ALBUM REVIEW: Radiohead – 'A Moon Shaped Pool'

Radiohead did it again and completely blew me away with their new album. After 5 years of over and over listening to The King of Limbs (2011) and other Radiohead masterpieces, A Moon Shaped Pool, their 9th studio album dropped on the 8th of May. After locking myself into a dark room for several days in order to fully enjoy and let the album grow on me, I finally feel confident about writing a review worthy of the album.

A Moon Shaped Pool is introduced with its first released single ‘Burn The Witch’ which starts with a glimmering guitar and Thom Yorke’s dream like voice, letting you drift into another dimension, higher and higher, the more sharp the violins and guitar become. This dream though escalates into a shivery nightmare in the last seconds and Yorke’s voice and its instruments literally pierce through your head in horror. A masterpiece which sets the atmosphere for the following songs. The next song’s title ‘Daydreaming’ perfectly describes its tone, transporting you onto a summer grass field with Yorke’s melancholic voice shimmering in the background. This daydream though doesn’t turn into a nightmare,  but rather stays continuously dreamy and fantastic, ending with electronic sounds metaphorically letting you carry on trance like into Radiohead’s next song ‘Decks Dark’. The dreamy atmosphere is kept through the piano theme but mixed with choir voices rising up mid song, but is finally broken when the drums and bass kick in, transforming the song into a chilled rock song. ‘Desert Island Disk’ is among the less distinctive numbers (I hate myself for writing that). The song is clear and comprehensible, with less decorative bells and pianos in the background, making it more ordinary and less memorable.

‘Ful Stop’, a song that Radiohead played in their live performances in 2012 for the first time, was massively enhanced for the record. The live version suffered from its echoing sound mixing it into a chaotic blur of beats, whereas the new studio version with its threatening bass and wafting synthesiser builds up, claustrophobic and oppressive, marking the album’s height and a cut for the first part’s dream. ‘Glass Eyes’ then starts with less (positive) chaos in the background, being a very regular (a word that doesn’t describe Radiohead at all) quiet song, with its violins and piano. ‘Identikit’ is first a fairly tidy song with its rhythmic guitars and drums accompanied by Yorke’s smoothing voice, echoing in the background. But the ordinary is broken midway through a choir and later again by a guitar solo by Johnny Greenwood, which more sounds like a Nokia ringtone from the early 2000s (I also hate myself for writing that). This song is the first where I think that Radiohead would have been better off to keep to the simple. The next song is one of my favourites on A Moon Shaped Pool as ‘The Numbers’ embodies Radiohead’s artistic diversity in just over 5 minutes, starting off as a Jazz influenced piano dominated number, transferring into an atmospheric and room filling state of trance and over to a melancholic ballad accompanied by violins escalating in a emotional breakdown, setting me off rollercoaster of feelings.

Thankfully ‘Present Tense’ brought me out of the hole of emotions by being more uplifting again, letting you sway along to the melodic guitars and mysterious choir. ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier…‘s course feels similar to the album’s title, slowly closing the circular Moon Shaped Pool of light dreams and oppressive nightmares filled with emotions of fear, hope and melancholy. The album is perfected by ‘True Love Waits’, which was first played back in 1995 by Yorke with his acoustic guitar. Now, the song seems to be in his final version, finalising A Moon Shaped Pool after 21 years, because true love waits. The song stands at the end of the album as a summary of the evolution of Radiohead, clearly separated in its theme with less intrusive instruments and just pure uncovered beauty.

A Moon Shaped Pool is an album that is united by hustle in the background, the combination of bells, pianos, guitars, drums and synthesiser, creating the most melodic and quiet album of Radiohead’s career. The album stands for the uniqueness of its creators, but at the same time as a sequel to its predecessor. At the end of the emotional rollercoaster, I realise that I didn’t pay attention to any of the lyrics, but to be honest, Yorke could sing about bringing out the garbage and his voice would still put me in trance into fantasy world, creating the wildest pictures in my head (even though Radiohead’s lyrics are always full of meaning and poetic genius).

Review by Carolin Wolfsdorf

ONE SENTENCE REVIEWS: letlive. – "Reluctantly Dead"

Guess who’s back, back again – it’s One Sentence Reviews! Check out what the music team thought of the new single from soul punks letlive.

Carolin Wolfsdorf – “Very generic rock, but alright to listen to.”

Molly Pearson – “I’m not quite sure what to think – I feel like I want to like it as I enjoy this genre of music but maybe the song is one that needs to grown on people.”

Katie Gamble – “Not bad, a little bit funky for this kind of genre.”

Thomas Gibbens – “Sounds fun, but a bit repetitive.”

Zoe Stanton – “A catchy tune but sounds similar to many songs of this genre; great to listen to to get you in a good mood.”

Young Kuk Noh – “Sounds very repetitive and quite generic, which is to be expected in this saturated genre of music; some variation would have been nice, but they played it safe.”

Sophie Shapter – “If you like Linkin Park, you’ll like this; catchy, punchy chorus, give it a listen!”

Alice Copeland – “Really liked the guitar vibes but felt the guy was shouting a little too much.”

Michael Bird – “Surprisingly straightforward from this band, Jason’s vocals are fantastic but the song lacks the energy typical to the group’s material.”

ONE SENTENCE REVIEWS: The Strumbellas – "Spirits"

One Sentence Reviews is back, and this time the Insanity Radio music team are turning their attention to “Spirits”, by The Strumbellas. Listen to the track and see if you agree with our team!

Sam Barker: “An entirely predictable, but nonetheless enjoyable soft rock song that wins out due to the immediate singalong nature of the chorus, the charm of the lead singers vocals, and the brilliant hats sported by everyone in the music video.”

Kiran Hayre: “A cliche but nice song, the chorus is memorable however, I feel like the singing and music is detached from each other and it’s slightly jarring.”

Carolin Wolfsdorf: “Really enjoyable and catchy song, perfect car tune!”

Alice Copeland: “Some summery vibes, kind of a balance of Kodaline and Twenty One Pilots, somewhat forgettable/generic.”

Max Lawson: “An uninspiring but enjoyable song whose chorus encourages you to don the weird hat and participate!”

Tanyel Mustafa: “It could work as background music – maybe; a standard indie pop song that’s too standard to be memorable.”

Thomas Gibbens: “Far too generic and simple to truly gain the attention of the listener.”

Emily Dixon: “I’ve never heard these guys before but I thoroughly enjoyed this song, even though it sounds like they’re shouting….”

Joséphine Kcihc: “Fit for a compilation video of ‘things your wacky friend did at a festival that one time’, The Strumbellas’ ‘Spirits’ comes off as bland and chichéd (yes that is intentional), redeeming itself only when the guitar riff and drum beat come together in the chorus.”

Molly Pearson: “Whilst I appreciated how to the music built, I am sadly not an a fan of how the vocals built up to shouting, I thought it was a bit of a shame as his singing voice is so pretty – emasculation not intended!”

Michael Bird: “An intriguing balance of genres, the song embraces the ridiculousness of its over-the-top chorus and is all the better for it.”

Cheylea Hopkinson: “Sounds like something off a Microsoft advert, I should feel uplifted but I just don’t.”

Laura Shipp: “I wasn’t expecting to be a fan of this, but the more I listened to it the more it grew on me. I think it sounds weirdly summery despite the slightly dark video!”

Grace McCabe: “The repetitive chorus and catchy melody has made it impossible to get out of my head; this is an oddly great upbeat song for a bad day, singing about beating your inner demons but to a happy tune.”

Zoe Shapter: “The chorus is a bit too repetitive, however it is also catchy and easy to sing along to; a good song and lyrics for when you need a pick-me-up, however I don’t think the tune is memorable enough to make it big.”

ALBUM REVIEW: Lukas Graham

You’ve probably heard “7 Years” a million times by now. Its huge success came almost out of nowhere, and is all the more surprising considering how intimate and heartfelt a song it is, constantly warping the lyrics of its chorus and avoiding the showiness that modern pop appears to require as a prerequisite. What’s obvious is that it came from the heart of Lukas Graham, the Danish vocalist of a group who confusingly use the name of their singer. On this self-titled album, it is the emotional commitment put into the material, alongside clear nous for songwriting, which comes up trumps.

The blend is best demonstrated on “Take the World by Storm” and “You’re Not There”, which kick the tempo up a bit but retain the theme of triumph through adversity. Lukas Graham is an easy album to like, as the man himself is a highly relatable figure and the songs are very easy to listen to. There are a plethora of ballads, all of which work effectively. “Happy Home” and “What Happened to Perfect” are beautiful odes to family and lost love respectively; “Better Than Yourself” is a darker tale of a friend whose life went in the wrong direction, its cascading piano driving a captivating performance. As with most good pop albums, there are a variety of sounds and instruments woven into each song with the occasional gimmick thrown in for good measure. “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me” works well as a shuffling jazz number, and though the children’s choir on “Mama Said” is more grating they do help to lift the chorus melody.

Perhaps the most clever trick is how the songs here manage to sound both timeless and very much suited to the modern day, whether it’s a dab of OneRepublic synth or an elemental soul influence that could just of readily have been plucked from Stevie Wonder as it could Adele. There’s even a gospel choir roped in for stirring closer “Funeral”, which could be the closest thing this generation gets to Queen’s “Somebody to Love”. It doesn’t detract from Graham’s own strength as a singer, and though he can get somewhat whiney in the upper reaches of his range he suits the emotional content of the music. He, and the band as a whole only make one major slip-up on the terrible “Strip No More”, a misguided attempt at tongue-in-cheek debauchery that single-handedly kills a lot of the goodwill that Lukas Graham had built up to that point.

It’s a striking nadir to an otherwise consistently very good international debut. Lukas Graham won’t win any awards for originality but any time spent in their company will be highly enjoyable. The band succeeds at tackling both punch-the-sky pop and thoughtful balladry, and has presented a very good case to be listened to beyond the entry point of “7 Years”.

== Review by Michael Bird ==

GIG REVIEW: Walking On Cars @ KOKO, 18/03/16

The day after St Patrick’s Day seemed an apt opportunity to partake in some Irish alternative rock courtesy of up-and-coming quintet Walking on Cars at the beautiful KOKO venue in Camden.

Gigs such as this one always promise a great opportunity to view a band up close and let you embrace the sound in a room where the artist is literally metres away. After the talented support act John Joseph Brill – a man with magnificent hair and a voice to match, delivering a brave solo performance – the anticipation for the headliner was building as the venue packed out. This was a sell-out event, and I was soon about to learn why. Rumour had it that Walking on Cars comprised of five friendly and down-to-earth people. I’d certainly only heard praise for their music and, having played a few tracks on my radio show in the past, I was looking forward to their live performance.

The set was full of enthusiasm and energy; you could see they really enjoyed playing for the crowd. As they took us through the tracks of their debut album Everything This Way it was clear that this gig would not disappoint. As far as performance goes, it was spot on. Evidently great musicians, the band had a full sound and  with impressive lighting to match, there was much to enjoy. Although it was a young crowd, it was great to see some older fans really loving the experience and proving that Walking on Cars create music that isn’t restricted to a certain age group. The band excelled at audience interaction, receiving a great response from everyone in the form of clapping along or joining in with parts of the chorus. There was something rather beautiful about the moment when the whole room was singing “hallelujah”, as part of their track “Two Stones”.

Of course, there was no doubt that the crowd would want an encore, and Walking on Cars didn’t let us down there either. Patrick gave a superb solo performance on keyboard, which was followed by a couple of extra songs from the whole band, ending with the addictive track “Speeding Cars” – the latest single to be given an impressive video. Overall, I was completely won over by this band, the show and the venue. I definitely recommend that you check out their new album Everything This Way and certainly consider seeing them live! Watch this space – I’m expecting good things to come from this group.

Review by Laura Webber

ALBUM REVIEW: Kendrick Lamar – 'untitled unmastered'

It’s not even Easter but nevertheless King Kendrick has thrown untitled unmastered out into the world with 8 untitled demo tracks that didn’t make it onto his 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly, ‘Pimp, Pimp, Hooray’! The album continues its political and psychological themes, making it clear that Lamar wants to move more than booties in a club.

This years Grammys saw one of the best performances of the last decade: in chains, Kendrick Lamar walked in a jail outfit to the microphone. With a dark expression on his face, he rapped The Blacker The Berry and Alright, concluding with a then-unknown track. For his moving and almost obsessed performance the startled audiences responded with a standing ovation. What makes this more bizarre is the fact that Lamar denunciated the same greedy music industry that now applauses him. Once again Lamar predicts true what he so often denounces: the message of his music is quickly forgotten in the Grammy atmosphere. But because of the performance, Lebron James himself called on Kendrick via Twitter to publish what have been previously unreleased tracks. Et voilà: less than a week later, we have untitled unmastered, a deep insight into his creative process.

Lamar again tells stories about religion and spirituality, the institutionalised oppression of black people in the US and Kendrick’s personal contradiction between the glory of the acclaimed rap superstars and the hard reality on the streets of his hometown Compton. With its sober observation about grievance and Lamar’s brutally honest self-reflection, untitled unmastered is more than a simple bonus track album.  “Untitled 05 |. 09.21.2014“, a psychological description of a man broken by alcohol, justice and self hate, is the album’s height with its stoic bass and arbitrary jazz sound paired with the contrasts of voices between Lamar, Jay Rock and Terrence “Punch“ Henderson. “Untitled 02 |. 06.23.2014″ varies every second in voice and flow, describing Lamar’s brilliance perfectly to combine the most contradictions with each other and still create coherence.

Songs like “Untitled 03 |. 05.28.2013” offer a finished sound but didn’t make the cut for To Pimp a Butterfly, for obvious reasons. Kendrick meets four people from different cultures” they all offer advice on how to best deal with wealth and fame. The Asian wants to meditate; the Indian wants land; the black man wants ‘girls’; the white, representing the music industry wants maximum profit. Unfortunately the song doesn’t offer a deeper meaning besides these stereotypes. According to the description, “Untitled 07 | 2014-2016” was worked on for several years and consists out of three different track sketches. In between, Kendrick’s crew can be heard laughing and talking, which makes the track more of a jam session than a finished song. But that doesn’t take its effect as a feeling of tension builds up if you get the feeling of looking a true master over his shoulder during his work.

Freed from the conventional forms of the music industry, Kendrick Lamar drifts away casually in his creativity finding new inspiration.  The album has a real impact: at the end, you don’t even know what to say, because everything has already been said by Kendrick Lamar. Nothing would do justice to his creative energy, brilliantly packed social criticism and musical importance for the industry.

Review by Carolin Wolfsdorf

ALBUM REVIEW: Låpsley – 'Long Way Home'

If you’re after some soothing electronic beats with an ambient feel and stunning vocals then have a listen to Long Way Home, the long anticipated debut album by Låpsley. After winning the ‘One to Watch’ prize at Merseyside’s GIT Awards in April 2014, Låpsley really has been exactly that.

The album starts with “Heartless”, a song that starts off quiet and builds in layers before finally stripping down for a melodic piano section coupled with her altered vocals. The song really sets up the whole album, demonstrating many of the signature features that are found throughout. Piano, electronic sounds, altered voice and interesting and quirky backing vocals tying everything together.

Featured on the album are 4 singles previously released and one new one, “Falling Short” and “Hurt Me” being the two to chart. The latter is my personal favourite of the singles, the desperate vocals always giving me chills and it has the kind of sound you need to listen to with both headphones in, turned all the way up. The latest single “Love is Blind” I would say is arguably the most different of all the songs on the album, with an almost gospel choir feel to it with the simple drumbeat and the backing vocals in the chorus. Despite this there is still all the classic Låpsley features that you would expect, it’s also certainly a far more developed song than “Falling Short” for instance.

Another notable track is “Tell Me the Truth” a haunting mix of Låpsley and altered versions of her voice. What makes this stand out over the other tracks is the use of the deeper voice mixed with one of a higher tone in the chorus. This draws more attention to the powerful lyrics, creating a kind of emphasis and sound that you can rarely experience.

The album itself is a really cool collection of songs that put you in a relaxed state, without being predictable and boring. That being said, I find I cannot listen to this album over and over again without other music in between, it needs something to break it up occasionally.

In conclusion, Long Way Home is a fantastic debut album and it is clear Låpsley has come a long way in only two years. It is the kind of album that you can put on in the background and just have a chill session, or put it on whilst going for a long drive in the middle of the night. A must have for anyone looking for something fresh, interesting and chill.

Review by Cheylea Hopkinson

ONE SENTENCE REVIEWS: Years & Years – "Desire" (feat. Tove Lo)

This week’s One Sentence Reviews comes from a reimagined version of an old Insanity favourite. Years & Years have brought out a new version of early single “Desire” with additional vocals from the brilliant Tove Lo, and we at the Insanity music team thought we’d have our say on the reimagining!

Katie Gamble: “Quite catchy and dancy.”

Molly Pearson: “The song is is not bad, I would listen to it once maybe but it is my desire that it wouldn’t get played again!”

Michael Bird: “Interesting update of a fun, enjoyable track that the band have since eclipsed with more recent material.”

Julia Khlyzova: “High quality disco goodness!”

Jess Temple: “Feel-good summer party vibes!”

Thomas Gibbens – “Why do you have to punish me with autotune?!”

Zoe Stanton – “Catchy, upbeat and uplifting: sounds like a typical Years & Years tune.”