Interview – Dan Croll

With his new album ‘Emerging Adulthood,’ released on 21st July, I had the privilege of having a phone interview with Dan Croll to talk about the release of the album and his most recent single Bad Boy, inspired by the common phase of wanting to be a bad boy but it ‘just never worked out.’ We talked inspirations, processes, his ‘organic, alternative angle’ of pop and how music wasn’t always his plan.

Your new album is released in 3 days, how are you feeling about it?

I think… all of the emotions. I’m very proud of it, I’m very excited about getting it out, quite nervous about it too, but yeah I think mainly just excited though.

What can we expect from your album?

I think, compared to the first album, it’s a lot more straight to the point, I think it’s a bit more immediate. The way that it was recorded was kind of like a high intensity environment so I think that comes across in the album quite a bit as well.

Your album is called ‘Emerging Adulthood,’ does that name give us a suggestion of the themes of the songs or anything like that?

Yeah, well the name came from a book that I was reading, I guess it was kind of like a research paper almost, where it was talking about people who, are now more than ever they’ve got an endless amount of opportunities, unlimited resources, and people leave college or university and now they can do whatever they want; they can talk to people on the other side of the world, they can travel, and technology is so much more accessible. I think that’s really exciting for some people, but I think other people find it quite overwhelming, I think I maybe found it a little bit overwhelming too. So I think the album is about assessing options and trying to find the right route to take and trying to find a bit of confidence.

Did you feel like that when you left university?

Yeah, I think I felt it then because music was such a new thing for me. I’ve always kind of felt a little bit on the back-foot, a little bit amateur because my close friends and then other artists and bands you know a lot of them have been doing this since like ‘oh I’ve been playing guitar and writing songs since I was eight,’ whereas for me I was seventeen/ eighteen and I went straight into a music institute and then before long was out of the music institute and into the industry and so it’s very new. Also after the first album I kind of hit a few personal hurdles and so I was assessing whether I could do another album, and how I should do it, and where I should go and stuff like that so I had a lot of moments where I felt like that.

Music wasn’t always your plan then?

No music was quite a late plan for me. My main focus was sport, was rugby, and I was playing that all of my life up until about seventeen when I broke my leg and it all ended quite abruptly and couldn’t really get back into it and yeah so I was like well I do a bit of music so I guess I’ll go for that.

So what was the first song you ever wrote?

The first song I ever wrote was a song called ‘Marion’ which I think is on Youtube somewhere, but yeah that’s the first track I wrote.

Was that when you were at uni?

Ah no that was when I was about eighteen, seventeen/ eighteen.

When did you start writing this album?

I wrote it not long after we finished the first album, so maybe it was 2015 maybe, so I’ve had it for a while, I just hit a few hurdles along the way which really delayed it, and so yeah it’s quite strange to think that actually I wrote it quite a long time ago. I definitely want to do a third album a lot quicker.

What’s your song writing process?

My process I think is maybe a little bit different to others, I think a lot of people tend to write lyrics first, or a melody, stuff like that but I actually always start with the rhythm, with the drums. I find it really hard to work on songs if I don’t feel like they’ve got a strong foundation so I’ll usually spend a lot of time trying to find the right tempo, the right beat, the right drums, percussion, stuff like that, and then I’ll build it from the ground up rather than the top down.

How would you describe your music to someone who might not have heard it before?

Ummmm… pop haha. It’s quite simply pop but I think from more of a kind of organic, alternative angle than what’s in the Top 20.

What were your inspirations music wise?

My inspiration mainly came from my mum who played a lot of big song writers, I think mainly American song writers strangely, a lot of Paul Simon, Burt Bacharach, Brian Wilson, The Beach Boys, Michael Jackson, and then others like ABBA and people like that, the big ones.

What are you listening to right now?

At the moment I’ve been listening to The Lemon Twigs, Bedouine umm yeah I think that’s it. I’ve been so buried up to my neck in my own music that I’m not listening to a great deal of new stuff at the moment.

So your single ‘Bad Boy’ has already been released, where did the inspiration for that come from?

Once I’d done the album I was reflecting a lot on moments leading up to now and there’s a phase that I think is quite common with a lot of people, where they kind of have this rebellious phase. I think mine and my friends were around high school where it’s a common phase of either you want to go out with a bad boy/ bad girl or you wanted to be the bad boy/ bad girl, the stereotypical American High School kind of bad boy. But it just never worked out. And the song is just about being confident in your own skin and not needing to do that.

The music video for that, and you’ve also released a couple of other videos for tracks off your new album, who comes up with the ideas for your music videos?

Most of them have been me, with a couple of exceptions, I always like to be as involved as possible with music videos but at the same time things just get so busy that you’ve got to just hand it over to someone else.

They’re all so interesting though as well, like the ones from your last album, with the green screen for ‘In/Out’

Yeah haha that was a pretty low budget video.

It was great, I like that one a lot! Do you enjoy making them?

Truthfully? Not particularly. They’re really tough things to do you know? You wanna get your message across, you wanna get everything across in the right way but there’s so many ways to do it and yeah it’s quite a stressful thing that I don’t particularly look forward to music videos that often, but usually once they’re done and they’re out I feel a lot more confident about them.

Since your first album do you think your style has changed?

I think so, I think it’s stepped away a little bit from the more acoustic to the more electronic, but I think just the process in the production has changed the most. That first album was recorded in an old school gym with just me and my mates, begged and borrowed equipment and I guess a little bit DIY, but a very fun way of doing it. But then the second album has gone the complete opposite way where it’s been just me writing it all and I play all the instruments on the album and we recorded it in a very clean, polished, professional studio in Atlanta, and so it’s been quite a different process, but I kind of like that, I wanted to go the opposite way for this one.

Did you enjoy one process more than the other?

I think equally because they’re both just very different and hopefully the next one will be different as well, I think I’m quite… I don’t know what the word… I guess impatient or I guess I kind of bore easily so I want things to continuously change as much as possible, so it’s all exciting.

Are you looking forward to touring your new album?

Yes, really excited to get back out on the road! Especially we’ve got an American tour coming up in September and then we’re looking at a European and UK tour after that, so yeah I’m really looking forward to that.

Do you have a most memorable moment from one of your gigs?

Ah they’re all pretty memorable, there’s a lot of amazing venues out there and the fans a lot of them stay, but a lot of them are new as well and yeah just all really cool.

Dan’s album is released on the 21st July (THIS FRIDAY!!) so get excited and find it on Spotify, iTunes and www.dancroll.com 

 

ALBUM REVIEW: Tom Odell – 'Wrong Crowd'

Tom Odell’s ‘Wrong Crowd’ Album Review


There was a lot of excitement in the rise up to Tom Odell’s new album ‘Wrong Crowd’. Prior to the release, Tom teased his fans with the slow reveal of some of his albums’ hits, such as ‘Wrong Crowd’, ‘Here I am’, ‘Magnetised’ – songs which, like so many others, made me remember just how talented he is. His first debut album back in 2013, ‘Long Way Down’, made it into the Official Chart. In the interim, his few, but powerful tracks, have had a positive response from listeners.

Three years on, ’Wrong Crowd’, released on June 10th 2016, delivers a rather depressing set of songs of heartbreak and misery – yet its catchy rhythm and lyrics, makes you want to hear more. His influence of Elton John really shines through – powerful piano riffs and new percussion-based beats, brings a new vibe to his music – different from previous releases. This development has benefitted his material considerably, by creating something quite different from the usual chart numbers.

Odell’s sold-out shows, titled ‘No Bad Days Tour’, begun on the 20th of April 2016 in London, and he will continue to perform in multiple festivals this summer, such as ‘T In The Park’ in July.

The tracklist for Wrong Crowd is as follows:

1. Wrong Crowd
2. Magnetised
3. Concrete
4. Constellations
5. Sparrow
6. Still Getting Used to Being On My Own
7. Silhouette
8. Jealousy
9. Daddy
10. Here I Am
11. Somehow

(Listen/Buy on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon*)

Each song seems to give a different feel; some good in exploiting his incredible vocals, some more attributed for energetic live performances (which got him spotted in the first place). One of the great things about the new, innovative album, is that a large majority of the tracks are ‘hit-worthy’ – in that they become well-known, whether making it to the charts, or simply having air-time. I believe that in Odell not rushing into producing music for label requirements or financial reasons, instead, draws passion and a heart-felt approach into every word and the overall sound; really reflecting on his success and influence as a young artist.

Ever since he released his first album, he has been climbing up the ladder to recognition and success, and I will patiently sit in the corner waiting for his next release, as this album will adequately ‘feed my thirst’ of his music till the next album.

*Tickets and Merchandise available on his website: http://www.tomodell.com

ALBUM REVIEW: Netsky – '3'

Originally published on inthemeantime.me.uk

When it comes to the drum and bass scene, the first artist that usually comes to mind for me is either Sigma or Netsky. But as this title suggests, this is not a review of Sigma, today I’ve decided to review the highly anticipated third album by Netsky.

For me, I only got to know about Netsky after the start of the new year when I heard ‘Rio’ which features Digital Farm Animals. The chilled out vibes and the slower tempo, combined with the DnB made for a quaint mix which I personally liked, a lot. It was not until I discovered ‘Work It Out’ which also featured Digital Farm Animals, that I actually became a fan of his music. It was certainly a departure from my usual tropical house and cheese vibe, but I liked it.

Three Tracklist:

  1. Thunder feat. Emeli Sande
  2. Work it Out feat. Digital Farm Animals
  3. Rio feat. Digital Farm Animals
  4. Leave it Alone feat. Saint Raymond
  5. Who Knows feat. Paije
  6. Go 2
  7. High Alert feat. Sara Hartman
  8. TNT feat. Dave 1 from Chromeo
  9. Stay Up With Me feat. Arlissa
  10. Forget What You Look Like feat. Lowell
  11. Bird of Paradise
  12. Jauz X Netsky – Higher

I’ll try not to talk about every song..

To kick things off, Netsky partners up with Emeli Sande to produce ‘Thunder’. Starting with a string based instrumental introduction, it was an immediate cue for me to continue listening. In fact it became one of my favourite songs on the entire album. Emeli’s vocals were perfect for this song. I was glad to see that ‘Work it Out’ and ‘Rio’ were on this album because they were the first songs that made me a fan and so to see them on his third studio album made smile. ‘Leave it Alone’ was an interesting song which I found to be very funky in its approach. The backing vocals reminded me of ‘Higher’ by Sigma, but when the beat came in after the intro, I knew I’d like this song, and it certainly did not disappoint. But what surprised me the most was the next song. ‘Who Knows’ was certainly a surprising package. The mellow vibes along with the combination of string instruments and Paije’s vocals (which reminded me of John Newman) made for a beautiful song. ‘TNT’ was a departure from Netsky’s usual vibe. It was funky, it was something that I really got into. I think the vocals by Chromeo assisted in adding a certain degree of funkiness. No complaints though, I really like Chromeo as an artist and so to see them back is a welcome thing to see.

Whilst looking for music, I’ve been gathering lots of songs which I’ve found to be chilled in its approach, and I found a new songs to add to my list in ‘Who Knows’ and ‘Bird of Paradise’. In ‘Bird of Paradise’, the beautiful mixture of ambient noises, string instruments and piano, juxtaposed with the drum and bass beat makes for a wonderful combination.

‘Go 2’ showed promise. I could just about grasp a beat to the song. But it’s not something that I would say I enjoyed. Instead lets just say that it left me confused. Some songs that didn’t seem to hit the right chord with me were ‘Stay Up With Me’ and ‘Forget What you Look Like’. With these though, they’re not necessarily bad songs. They are in fact pretty good. They have the standard vibe that you would expect of a DnB-based album. However, I feel this is one occasion where releasing instrumental versions first followed by the release of the versions with vocals as ‘remixes’ might have made me enjoy it a lot more. I can certainly get into those songs, I just think I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more if it had been released as an original mix and a separate vocal remix. Something that is commonplace in the music industry, especially when it comes to EDM.

The Verdict..

The verdict from me personally is generally positive. I’ve criticised a few songs (sort of). Just like most EDM these days, there has been a shift in what can be considered ‘mainstream’. I’ve seen DnB evolve with that shift. From liquid DnB to just full on dirty DnB, you will always find something that you will enjoy. The thing I saw with Netsky was that there weren’t moments when the quality of the album peaked or troughed. Instead, it remained consistent. His style always shone through which is what we generally expect. We want more, but we want their type of more. The only gripes I had were based on my own confusion or what I would consider to be a better way to release the tracks. This certainly does not mean that it was flawless, but putting all my little gripes to one side, I will put my hands up and say that I loved this album.

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

 

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

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 ==

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

ALBUM REVIEW: Wolfmother – 'Victorious'

Wolfmother’s latest album entitled Victorious is a strong offering which plays to the classic rock sounds of the Australian power trio whilst adding in a few new elements to create an exciting and habitual album.

The initial track titled “The Love That You Give” sets the precedent for the rest of the album with heavy guitar and bass whilst maintaining a powerful ‘thud’ from the drum section, reminding its audience of the established sound which is enjoyed by many from Wolfmother’s previous albums Wolfmother (2006) and Cosmic Egg (2009). Whilst the album remains traditional in sound, the album benefits from a large volume of musical texturing from various effects and instruments. However, the listener is never overwhelmed by its content, clearly having been influenced by the likes of Royal Blood in their approach to simplistic presence. The result of which is an album which is saturated musically and maintains a constant theme and refrain.

However, the album’s runtime at 35 minutes does leave its listeners feeling a little underwhelmed in terms of content, especially when the content is rather repetitive in terms of feel. Though on a second and third time listening the short runtime complements the overall attitude of the album, one which does not relent in its power, meaning that its listeners get a short sharp dose of classic power rock (with some lighter songs thrown in for good measure such as “Pretty Peggy”). In this context the album represents that classic freneticism found in the bands influences (the likes of Led Zeppelin, The White Stripes and Black Sabbath) justifying the potentially controversial runtime.

In summary, Victorious is an album which whilst not innovating beyond belief remains true to the roots of Wolfmother. It delivers an electrifying performance which is easily accessible due to the short runtime and its sound which fits in nicely with the modern rock tone being set by the likes of Royal Blood, Queens of the Stone Age and Arctic Monkeys.

Review by Thomas Gibbens

ALBUM REVIEW: Kanye West – 'The Life of Pablo'

These days it is not easy being a Kanye fan (especially when you love TayTay Swift as well!). On this year’s Valentine’s Day after 3 years of anticipated waiting, Kanye West’s seventh studio album The Life of Pablo was finally released. If you want to listen to it you need to subscribe to Tidal, but never mind Kanye, I was actually so relieved about the release that it didn’t really matter to me because I had already lost my belief that the album would actually ever be finished. Originally titled So Help Me God and planned for a 2014 release, only odd tracks, like ‘FourFiveSeconds’ were released rather than an album. Then it was called SWISH, than Waves which lead to the iconic Twitter feud between Kanye and Wiz Khalifa, who accused him of stealing the term ‘wavy’ from rapper Max B, who introduced it to slang vocabulary. Then finally the name was revealed and he unveiled the album cover on Twitter on 11th of February.

So far, so Kanye, but that’s not the ending of The Life of Pablo, because Kanye wouldn’t be Kanye if he wouldn’t stir more confusion and controversy. After its release, he seems still not completely pleased with the outcome, as he announced, he would readjust different tracks, for example “Wolves” which features Frank Ocean and Caroline Shaw after the original guest vocals by Vic Mensa and Sia were removed. The album consist 80% of collaborations with guest vocals by Kendrick Lamar, Kid Cudi, Rihanna, The Weeknd, Chris Brown and more. Describing his album as a fusion of hip hop and gospel, the sound is definitely different from Kanye’s previous albums, making that clear right with the very first song “Ultralight Beam” which features a church choir and a child preaching, supported by Chance The Rapper’s soul voice. “Father Stretch My Hands Pt.1 ” will sound more familiar to Kanye fans; the second part in recognizable auto-tune voice includes personal reflection on his life including her mother’s death. The title “Famous” has already circulated widely in the media, featuring the controversial line referring to the incident at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, when Kanye interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech. I think it was the most unnecessary line on the album and I wished he would have changed it because other than that, “Famous” is one of the best tracks on The Life of Pablo, featuring Rihanna’s powerful voice in the chorus and an epic background beat, reminding me of his brilliance. “Feedback” is exactly what I expected from the album: strong powerful rap lyrics with an electronic beat that is going to stick in your head for the next two days. If you are not the most spiritual person like me, then just skip “Low Lights” because sadly no beat drops during the 2 minutes of gospel prayer.

“Highlights” starts off with a promising beat and a catchy hook, but in between it gets a bit too chaotic, with approximately 4 different auto-tune voices mixed together and after two minutes turning into a complete different song. “Freestyle 4” feels similar, as I wonder if the track is build out of several sounds and beats that Kanye didn’t use so far and just turned on his microphone while having one of his famous rants. Next we come to “I Love Kanye” which was already featured in an SNL sketch last week. Even though I totally dig the idea of it and love the self- awareness (‘What if Kanye made a song about Kanye’) and humour (‘I love you like Kanye loves Kanye’) in it (supposedly Kanye can actually laugh) I feel like the song would have actually deserved a background track. Having the a cappella track right in the middle of the album takes so much tempo out of it, which is why I think the song like it is now should have been rather placed as an intro or outro, which would have put the album in a complete different light. Continuing with “Waves”, the song reminds me again of Graduation with its pop sound, accompanied by a melancholic but also dreamy beat, a theme that continues itself in a different beat in “FML”, which stands out with its honest sounding lyrics that put me right in a thoughtful and weepy mood for the next song. Amazing. “Real Friends” is probably one of the best songs on the album; I immediately loved the song because of its lyrics in which Kanye thoughtfully reflects on himself being a good friend (shame on his cousin who stole his laptop by the way). In these moments of total honesty, his music turns himself into a human being, the bigger than life media personality seems not visible.

But this short moment disappears right away with “Wolves”, in which Kanye compares himself and his wife Kim Kardashian to Mary and Joseph, brilliantly ridiculous and a truly iconic Kanye moment. The beat is ingeniously minimalistic and dull, mixed into melancholic and rhythmic howling. “Silver Surfer Intermission” is not a song but a phone conversation between Kanye and Max B harking back to his feud with Wiz Khalifa. Max gives Kanye his blessing to be wavy, and therefore lets Khalifa look like a total fool. The music continues with “30 Hours”, which is one of the most consistent tracks on the album because of its repetitive beat and his continues rap, but at the same time it got me quite bored. He only intercuts the continuity of the song by the end when allegedly his phone rings and he answers it. “No More Parties In LA” sounds like a proper 90s hip hop track and features Kendrick Lamar, who’s in no way inferior to Kanye (that incident with his cousin and the laptop must have been a real issue if Kanye mentions it twice). Both of their rap styles are distinctive and different but at the same time complement each other brilliantly, creating a flowing track that won’t be forget soon. Again I feel improvements could have been made to the lyrics on “Fact” as the actual song is extremely powerful with its gritty beats and Kanye’s excessive voice. The Life of Pablo concludes with “Fade”, featuring a dark disco beat and again auto-tune voice. Even though you can hear that the song has been put together by many different elements, it works marvellously in combination, rounding up the album in a meaningful, creative mess.

All in all, I have to admit that this album caused me headaches; it is not an album you can easily listen to on a daily basis. It took me a while until I actually had built an opinion because it constantly balanced between mess and masterpiece. The Life of Pablo varies from highly experimental tracks to truthfully composed songs and powerful lyrics and is as far away from the consistent and constructed Yeezus as you could imagine. Kanye West already built up a legacy and this album and its surrounding controversy will definitely increase his status as one of the most influential musicians of our time. I’m sure that in 40 years, Kanye will reveal his Twitter rants as purely artistic and meaningful, who knows. I would give the album 25 out of 10 because as Einstein said, “organisation is the last refuge of a tired mind”.

Review by Carolin Wolfsdorf

ALBUM REVIEW: Wiz Khalifa – 'Khalifa'

As I sat down to listen to Wiz Khalifa’s new offering I decidedly told myself “I must listen with an open mind”, this was a wise decision as the self-titled Khalifa soon began to enrage my inner critic and in some sense my political conscience.

This album, to me, is extremely monotonous and fraught with boring and repetitive tracks (not even soliciting the use of the word song). I truly believe that the backing tracks were mainly a result of someone (or something) falling upon a drum track, and thus a Wiz Khalifa song was born. Musically, the album is mind-numbing and tiresome warranting physical spasms of frustration.

Lyrically these tracks are terrible with the themes and politics being all over the place. The fact that many of them begin with a physical groan by Khalifa himself reflected my attitude towards his lyrics. He seems to have a Freudian neurosis with the ideals of drugs, money and violence so much so that his somewhat righteous message of black liberation is drowned out. In particular, the track “Zoney’” shifts dramatically from drug references to a child’s voice saying, “I love you daddy”.

However, the aspects of Khalifa that truly enrage me are the rare demonstrations of musical talent, in particular the 30 seconds or so of piano at the end of “BTS”. Above all, the track “Call Waiting” is a brilliant blend of blues, motown, funk, and jazz reminding me of Chicago blues. “Call Waiting” is musically saturated with various instruments which were clearly recorded in a studio (in contrast to the electronic fluff contained within the rest of the album) which blend together well creating a fantastic groove. What is more “Call Waiting” is absent of obscenities and seems to have a discernible and meaningful theme running throughout the song, something which is a welcome addition when compared to the rest of the album.

“Call Waiting” infuriated me beyond belief as it demonstrates a clear ability and talent, something which is absent in the rest of the obscenity filled album. In summary, I believe that Khalifa is a disaster that seems to have been created as filler for one song, and is largely devoid of musical talent and frankly an insult to any listener.

Review by Thomas Gibbens

ALBUM REVIEW: Bloc Party – 'Hymns'

Bloc Party are back with a new album after 4 years. It’s clear that the band’s style has changed since their debut album Silent Alarm was released in 2005. The new album Hymns has a different feel to it, with one of the singles from the album “The Good News” being described by NME as “One of the most conventionally ‘rock’ songs Bloc Party have ever done.” It’s a bit more Blur than Bloc Party, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and this shift is probably unsurprising considering the band lost two of the original band and gained two new members since 2013.

There is also a curious religious theme running through the album. For a start, the album name Hymns already suggests this, followed by the second track “Only He Can Heal Me” which has strong gospel-like backing singers underlying it. However, lead singer Kele Okereke denied that the album title had any reference to some kind of religious epiphany within the band earlier this year.

Nevertheless, “The Love Within” still has that Bloc Party dancey vibe with Kele’s unique voice and lyrics over a synthy and catchy tune, similar to the hit 2007 single “Flux”.

Overall, it’s a different kind of Bloc Party. More rocky and less catchy, but they still cling to their interesting lyrics and alternative sounds. Long-term fans of the indie band may be slightly disappointed by the changes, but it’s definitely likable for both new and old Bloc Party followers.

Review by Sophie Shapter