÷ by Ed Sheeran

This is Ed Sheeran’s third studio album, and I think it is his best album yet! It brings a certain Irish vibe to it, which relates to him because of his Irish heritage. In my opinion, this album really captures the meaning of life. For example: “Castle on the Hill” is written as a story of his life growing up, which gives us- the listeners- an insight into him as a person. Some of the songs aren’t ones you might dance to in a club, but they have real emotion and are very well written and you can hear all of them in the way Sheeran portrays them.

If you want to test your carpool karaoke skills, songs like “Galway Girl” and “Shape of You” are the perfect tunes to belt out while in the car, giving off an upbeat and happy vibe- also very catchy! For me, Ed Sheeran is the best artist out there because he has that style that makes him stand out from the crowd. His music sends a message to people, that touches them and inspires them, that says you can achieve your dreams and be a success.

I can’t wait to see what else he has in store for us in the future!

You can get Ed’s new album on Spotify, Amazon and iTunes.

One Sentence Review: Slide – Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean and Migos

The latest Calvin Harris single is another hit, this time on the R&B/Hip-Hop charts. The hot track features that of the talented Frank Ocean, and rappers Quavo and Offset from the hip-hop group Migos. Will it be such a success with our music team? Read on to see what they had to say…

Rachael: “Mellow, nice jammy vibes.”

Gemma: “Love the vibe and when the bass drops. Yaas!”

Leah: “Obsessed. Best Calvin song since ‘Acceptable in the 80s’.”

Megan: “The song is catchy and has an interesting beat, would probably listen again.”

James: “A nice old school vibe to this groovy banger.”

Charlotte: “Big transition in the middle, summery and bright!”

Halina: “Very summery and light but not a fan.”

Laura: “Calvin going back to the mellow tunes he began with, and anything Frank Ocean does is Pure Gold.”

Emma: “Really good throwback disco vibe with a sweet bass line.”

Madeline: “Awesome jazzy intro that shows much of a banger this is.”

Joe: “Great vocals and strong feature from Migos, beat however, is bland and unadventurous.”

Noelle: “Good bass line. The kind of song you walk from A to B to. Would go on my monthly favourites.”

Harrison: “A solid groove. A floor-filler for sure.”

Kate: “The perfect funky tune you need at your pre-predrinks (around the time you’re deciding what colour lipstick to wear).”

Helen: “A sunny and funky time to help hurry summer back into your life!”

By The Music Team.

CONCERT REVIEW: TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB

Two Door Cinema Club 

Irish born Two Door Cinema Club closed their UK tour with two sold out events at Alexandra Palace in north London. The atmosphere throughout the evening was not only incredible but also sustained, which was clearly aided by the work of the support acts; Circa Waves and Sundara Karma. Each support act offered something different for the crowd, from their newest tunes to their most popular hits. Circa Waves performance of T-Shirt Weather particularly got the crowd going ready for the main event.

Following the support acts was a brief break in the performance schedule until the black stage curtain dropped to reveal a set with fabulous lighting and technology that highly resembled the Gameshow album cover. Two Door Cinema Club clearly brought a fresh, but familiar, summer sound to a cold February evening. Playing a range of songs across their three albums, Two Door Cinema Club’s confidence and energy added to create an absolutely fantastic performance which allowed the crowd to become familiar with, and even grow to love, the catchy and uplifting melodies. The bands sheer talent, accurate vocals and charisma created an electric concert experience that is bound to wow people as we enter the 2017 festival season. Altogether, it was one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen.

Review by: Ophelia King

ALBUM REVIEW: PROCESS – SAMPHA

Process – Sampha 

“The album that finally reveals a superstar.”

Sampha is one of those ‘behind the scenes’ people that not everyone has heard of and yet most would recognise his music. When an artist collaborates on projects with people as prominent as Drake, Kanye West, and Frank Ocean, it sets a standard. As a listener, you can only expect something truly great when approaching this album, and as a big fan of this music style, I was not disappointed.

His new album “Process” kicks off with “Plastic 100°C”, a track in which you can hear the meticulous work and craft in every layer. It sets the mood for the entire of the album – soft sounding electronic music with emotional vocals and originality. “Plastic 100°C” is followed immediately by “Blood on Me”, the first single of the album. The almost zombie-like backing vocals and soft piano accompaniment carries the calm feeling and mood set in the beginning, but the vocals become desperate in contrast – this works fantastically. You hear these desperate kinds of vocals again on the track “Under” which is one of my personal favourites.

The other singles from the album are “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano” and “Timmy’s Prayer”. The former is in a somewhat classic singer-songwriter style, often making references to the artist’s mother and of course the piano, a feature you pick up on when you listen some of the other tracks. Its simplicity and raw emotion I think is what has made this track his most popular single. In general, the vocals aren’t the kind that will wow you, but they fit the songs perfectly, and meld with the rest of the musical elements to produce a stunning sound.

Overall, this album is written to be heard as one story, and I recommend setting time aside to listen to it. From beginning to end, Sampha provides an assured ‘just listen to my story’, and you can’t help but do so. The album is also very mellow, to the point where I fell asleep to it several times, which is certainly no bad thing. The regular references to his mother and various health and emotional issues are an artistic expression of a need to heal and recover. And what better way to do so than through music?

 

Review by Cheylea Hopkinson 

SINGLE REVIEW: HUMAN – RAG'N'BONE MAN

Human – Rag’n’bone Man 

When I first heard the single ‘Human’ by Rag’n’Bone Man (aka Rory Graham), I knew I had to listen to the album the second it dropped. I’m not one to listen to the charts usually, but I found “Human” while browsing the top 100 song playlist on YouTube last year and was hooked from the start. It’s a song that stands out, from the man with a voice you’d never expect – a single with a relatable hook and a standout track amongst the seemingly endless club songs which dominate the charts. The album is going to be amazing, right?

When a label releases an album online, they usually provide a description to give you an idea of what to expect. ‘Human’ is no exception: “Armed with his deep-canyon vibrato, raw emotion and some colossal choruses, Rory Graham takes his big moment. Your starting place is, of course, the title track.” The starting place is the title track for sure. . . but that’s where it kind of stops.

I hate to say it. Maybe my expectations were too high, but even as I write I am listening to the album again, and still don’t remember most of the tracks from my last listen. When I loaded it up I was excited, expecting to discover more tracks like ‘Human’ that I could listen to over and over. I couldn’t help but compare to when I first listened to James Bay’s album “Chaos and the Calm” with similar expectations after his single, “Hold Back the River.” “Chaos and the Calm” did not disappoint. When I listened to the album there were many other tracks I now love too, like “Craving” and “Best Fake Smile”. But with “Human” it just didn’t happen. The bar had been set and then was never even close to being touched.

Armed with his deep-canyon vibrato indeed, Graham’s voice is the only thing carrying this album aside from its title track. Another potentially notable track is “Love You Any Less” which has a few unique sounds in its backing, making it stand out somewhat from the rest. There’s also “Die Easy”, a song in solo a cappella which makes for a nice change in pacing on the album. But just these from a total of 19 tracks? It doesn’t look terribly good.

There’s one thing that cannot be argued, however, and that is the amazing vocals. If you enjoy just solid music with good vocals, then this album is for you. It is a perfectly fine album with some decent tracks, but it’s just not what it could be. It starts with its best track and then from there you’re just always a little disappointed.

Returning to James Bay’s “Chaos and the Calm”, I think these two albums are easily compared. With another talented male singer and a viral track everyone knows the words to, you would expect “Human” to achieve a similar feel. This is true in that both albums are more of a collection of singles rather than a cohesive ‘album story’; however, the difference is that all the songs on “Chaos and the Calm” stand out on their own – there’s diversity and memorability to all of them. “Human” just doesn’t achieve that, missing the mark by inches. There is so much potential there but the overall product is generic and vapid, something that I can only blame on laziness and too much reliance on the strength of Graham’s voice.

I am disappointed but remain hopeful. Maybe after another few listens songs will start to grab my attention – there are a lot of tracks to get through. I can see Rag’n’Bone Man growing and growing and only getting better. With the success of “Human”, I hope that he spends more time in developing the musical sound to truly produce something stunning and original with the next album. Have a listen yourself and make your own opinion!

 

Review by: Cheylea Hopkinson 

Head Under Water

Better Than Never – Head Under Water 

Fox Records

Oxford pop-punk six-piece, Better Than Never, released their new EP, ‘Head Under Water’ at the end of last year. It was the second EP they released in 2016, following ‘Homemade Hero’ which came out at the start of the year.

Opening track ‘126’ is a short melodic intro that gives a flavour of what is to come. The EP then swiftly progresses into ‘Learning To Swim’ which opens with vocalist Will Keating singing the EP’s title “she keeps my head under water”. The band succinctly use this track to showcase their ability to combine upbeat, catchy music with lyrics that aren’t quite so happy-go-lucky, a feature that spans the entirety of the EP.

Then comes ‘Dreamland Ain’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be’, another track themed around negative things in life and the difficulties in picking yourself back up. Following this, the EP takes quite a dramatic turn with ‘Forty Eight’ which sees Better Than Never delving into the world of metalcore and incorporating some of its elements in a track that mixes aggressiveness with soft vocals. Finally, ‘Lowhill Lane’ is a slower track that nicely wraps the EP up.

Overall, ‘Head Under Water’ neatly showcases the range of skill that Better Than Never possess and shows their growth as a band, as well as being a fun EP to listen to.

By Yasmeen Frasso 

GIG REVIEW: L.A. SPRING

L.A. SPRING

Location: Camden Assembly, great venue; fairly small but a cool space to see live music, with groovy lighting to enhance all the bands onstage.

Support Acts:

Temple of Anyone:

“Really great sound; two vocalists with varying tones and styles but merge together for intense, funky, headbanger songs, especially in the instrumental breaks. Great start to the evening!” – Georgia

“One of the greatest surprises when going to concerts is discovering new artists through the support act lineup. Temple of Anyone truly are a mesmerising and captivating band that pull you in through their emotional drawing of stories, powerful vocals and flowing melodies.” – Isobel

EditSelect:

“Not a great follow-up to the previous band, wasn’t entirely sure on the genre they were trying to achieve, but certainly felt they were trying too hard! Some catchy songs but sometimes overwhelming.” – Georgia

“Although this band had great potential, there were elements that needed work. That being said, there were some memorable guitar riffs that got the crowd going.” – Isobel

Main Act, L.A. Spring:

“The 3-part indie-pop band L.A. Spring bring a summer sound of energy and catchy tunes that just don’t leave your head. Whether it’s lead singer James’ northern accent, or their memorable melodies and lyrics, the band really bring an energetic professionalism and most of all confident presence and performance to their music. And with support bands EditSelect and Temple of Anyone, the atmosphere was as equally alive as it was chilled. Everyone knew everyone, and all the acts played powerful performances. ” – Isobel

“Very cool looking band with a refreshing sound; the lead singer’s northern accent is definitely one of the perks and unique selling points – brings it home. Lead singer knew how to work the crowd, instantly got everyone to the front and generally owned the stage in his silver bomber jacket. A tropical-synth sensation, I’d say!” – Georgia

ONE SENTENCE REVIEW: 'ESCAPE' BY KEHLANI

Escape, by Kehlani

Kehlani is an American singer-songwriter from California. At the young age of 21 years, she’s already been a finalist on America’s Got Talent in a group ‘Poplyfe’, as well as being nominated last year for the Best Urban Contemporary Album Grammy Award. With her debut album ‘SweetSexySavage’ released back at the end of January, it seems Kehlani is going places!

Kate: “JoJo throwback”

Laura: “”Updated version of the best 00’s R’n’B ballads.”

Molly: “Enjoyed it but the pre-chorus is a bit of a let down”

Megan: “I like her voice, she sounds like JoJo and it has a nice 2000s sound.”

Will: “Sounds pretty normal to me.”

James: “Very naughties-like. Nostalgic.”

Emma: “Enjoy the more related slow pace, yet feels indistinguishable amongst ‘chart-like’ music.”

Charlotte: “Love her voice!”

Leah: “Kehlani can do no wrong, this is proof!”

Helen: “With smooth vocals, relaxing acoustic guitar and an RnB beat, Escape is guaranteed to chill you out.”

Elliot: “Typical chart song; not very unique.”

Maddalena: “Love the artist – catchy song, but not my favourite.”

Harrison: “Smooth and sultry, yet a little forgettable.”

Wade: “I didn’t like it at first, but after hearing it three times in a row, it’s grown on me…”

 

http://kehlanimusic.com/sweetsexysavage/

EP REVIEW: DIONYSIA – THE BREACH

EP Review – The Breach by Dionysia

 

The latest EP by Dionysia kicks off with strong guitar riffs from the track “Glory”, a solid opening to the rest of the album. The song has powerful vocals and is directed at someone who gave the narrator “nothing” – by the end of the song, the narrator returns the favour. The vocals are interspersed with inventive guitar melodies that combine to set the mood of an upbeat, belty EP. The second track “Zombie” is a real ear catcher with its post-chorus Saxophone melodies. Although personally I am a little tired of the use of the Zombies trope in TV and music, the chorus is very catchy and easy to listen to.

It is however the haunting start to the third track “Maybe I”, followed by some heavy electric guitar, that really demonstrates the bands versatility. The song seems to describe the current state of society, and the artists view on how to deal with it, making this song the ultimate loud sing-along.

The whole EP itself has very alternative vibes, with a twinge of country and blues. It’s the sort of thing I would listen to loudly through headphones and sing along to (likely very badly!). The instrumentation is always interesting and the songs have a variety of lead instruments, such as piano, guitar and sax.
The EP was released the 2nd August 2016, so I was a little slow to discover it. There are 8 total tracks, and the vocals throughout are raw with clear opinions. Dionysia know who they are and are here to show it. Looking forward to the full album!

Written by Cheylea Hopkinson

ONE SENTENCE REVIEW: 'SATISFACTION' – THE BAY RAYS

Satisfaction, by The Bay Rays

The garage punk/rock trio ‘The Bay Rays’ are definitely ones to watch. Originating from Kent, the band have already achieved so much, such as supporting The Slaves on tour and even playing at Glastonbury in 2016, and their success doesn’t stop there! With lots of support from BBC introducing, and an ever-expanding fanbase elevated by their passionate and incredible live shows, the group never fail to perform. 

What the music team had to say…

“Explosive and electric, truly uplifting.”

“A loose yourself dance kind of song.”

“A high-octane indie stomper, perfect for road trips or solo hairbrush-and-mirror sessions!”

“Poppy and upbeat, and keeps the foot tapping without losing your attention.”

“A good song to play when on a long car journey.”

“Cool intro, but not sure if it satisfies me.”

“Genre spaning indie with a clear pop influence.”

“Interesting, electric mix of instruments.”

“This song WILL get stuck in your head, but in a good way.”

“I like it, it has a kind of old school vibe to it! Nice.”

“Sounds like old Kings of Leon and a generic indie group had a baby! Good song though!”

“A catchy indie-esque song that makes you want to dance and clap along.”

Check out the track here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14brRjV-ENc

ONE SENTENCE REVIEW: 'HERSIDE STORY' – HARE SQUEAD

Herside Story, by Hare Squead


The new hip-hop trio from Ireland, recently released their latest track ‘Herside Story’, for all those reminiscing summer. Although they may attract an audience with an ‘acquired taste’, as evidenced below, they nonetheless are moving up in the music world, and after supporting Dua Lipa, could 2017 twice as good?

Halina: “The song has some quirky beats but generally it’s a bit of a weird song, not really a clubby song or an easy listening song; it has no genre.”

Beth: “Not a fan at all: I started to understand what he was saying about halfway through and I think the weird video sums up the strange vibe completely.”

Megan: “The singer is trying to sound too much like Drake’s music style in my opinion.”

Fab: “Not my thing but there are definitely some decent similarities to Drake in there!”

Wade: It’s very confusing. It’s the same problem I have with Jason Derulo and Chris Brown. They both sound exactly the same. And this dude sounds like Drake.”

Josh: “The type of song you want to chill and relax to – has a ‘spaced out’ feel to it.”

Gemma: “I like the beat, but not much of the effects on the vocals. It’s a good tune to nod your head to though.”

Kate: “The kind of song that plays in Tommy’s at the beginning of an SU night.”

Aysha: “It’s hard to understand what the lyrics are even saying – but I don’t think you’re missing out on much if you can’t.”

Adam: “Definitely not my thing – it sounds too light somehow – not enough bass, the mix is really off and let’s not get started on the level of originality in the song.”

Maddalena: “I have mixed feelings about it. I think the singer kills the muse base.”

Noelle: “It sounds a bit like the composer went: ‘I want to make chill beats and all that’ and the vocalist went ‘Nah, I want to rap and say random things and sound like I’m trying to finish my sentence before someone cuts me off really hard’, ad the result was this.”

Elliot: “Too much going on with the vocals, and slightly too sped up.”


Check out Hare Squead’s track here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXVJTRXgCCg

ONE SENTENCE REVIEW: 'HALLUCINATING' – ELOHIM

Hallucinating, by Elohim


The upcoming electro-pop artist from L.A, Elohim (‘God’ in Hebrew), brings a very unique style of music to the table. With a warm, intoxicating feel of synth-pop, dreamy vocals and electric beats, ‘Hallucinating’ brings a rollercoaster of imaginings. 

Wade: “I like it!!”

Eamoun: “Very summery, perhaps it will keep us all warm this winter..?”

Dulcie: “Good rhythm paired with a catchy melody.”

Megan: “Cool beat, she has a nice young voice, it is very unique and has a distinct feel to any other song.”

Laura: “Perfect slice of sweet fuzzy pop that makes me severely miss summer.”

Elliot: “Funky, tribal, energetic!”

Gemma:  “Interesting combination of classic and digital instruments. Like the idea of computerised voices.”


Check out Elohim’s Hallucinating on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uH6e6PnEhFk