ONE SENTENCE REVIEWS: Enter Shikari – "Redshift"

We got our music team to review “Redshift”, the new single from electro-rock fusion mavericks Enter Shikari, using only one sentence each! Listen to the song below, and see whom you agree with!

Halina Hayre – “Good catchy composition of music; however, the vocals get drowned within the music.”

Georgia Johnson – “Catchy chorus, but can’t say I haven’t heard anything like it before!”

Hanne Saeveras – “A nice summery tune to help endure the cold.”

Max Lawson – “Warm vocals and an electric sound make for a catchy song.”

Carolin Wolfsdorf – “Really generic, but I think I could get into it.”

Kiran Hayre – “I quite like the lyrics, they’re bittersweet and inspiring and I enjoyed the different paces in tempo and intensity.”

Zoe Stanton – “Highly emotional, electric, catchy.”

Emily Dixon – “As with most Enter Shikari songs, it’s amazing until the unneeded screaming.”

Julia Khlyzova – “Something to listen to while riding a bike in the mountains.”

Alice Copeland – “Not really my thing, didn’t like it.”

Adam Hitchen – “Feels like they’ve lost their fire a bit, a good (but subdued and radio-friendly) song.”

Tara El Kashef – “It sounds like a song you can play while driving but don’t need to get into.”

Cheylea Hopkinson – “I’d probably download it on a whim and never listen again.”

Thomas Gibbens – “It is like drum ‘n’ bass tried to be deep, but didn’t work for me, although I can understand the appeal.”

Ludivine Le Bon – “Nice sound that puts you in a good mood.”

Sophie Shapter – “Bit too ‘Panic! at the Disco’ for me, but it’s catchy!”

Tanmaiyii Rao – “It’s alright, nothing exceptional, quite mainstream.”

Michael Bird – “More mature but less exciting than prior material, this is an anthemic, streamlined song perfectly suited for the big venues they’re about to tour.”

A Look Back On 2013 Part II

Continuing onward with our retrospect of the best our Music Team thought 2013 had to offer!

Peace- “In Love” – Ceri-Ann Hughes2013PEACEINLOVE600G140213

When asked to write about my album of the year there was only one which popped into my head straight away, so ‘hold onto your headlights’. I’d been a huge fan of Peace since they started as a band and the ‘Delicious’ EP had just confirmed this – ‘In Love’ was the perfect opportunity for Peace to show us what they could do – and they didn’t disappoint.

Frankly, ‘In Love’ is an absolute masterpiece both recorded and live. I saw Peace at the tiny venue of The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch and I’ve never seen such brilliance – the riffs in ‘Higher Than the Sun’ seriously kicked off the small (but crazy) crowd and demonstrated that this album should be one of many for the Birmingham band.

A personal favourite on the album has to be ‘Float Forever’ – it’s chilled out vibe and lyrics really do show how the lads know how to write a really excellent song. Harry Koisser and co. follow this beauty up with the much-loved ‘Wraith’ – a song which currently holds an embarrassingly high play count on my iTunes library and which takes a slight detour from the ever-expected guitar riffs which Peace so often give us in tracks such as ‘Follow Baby’. Could the album be ordered in a better manner? Probably not.

If you’ve not heard this album yet, I can’t stress to you how much it is a must-listen (honestly, it was released in March and I still can’t get enough of it!). ‘In Love’ is the best album of the year in my eyes and Peace are 100% the best live band around at the minute. What more could you wish for?

 

Bastille- “Bad Blood” – Roshni KariBastille - BAD BLOOD ALBUM SLEEVEa

March of this year saw the release of Bad Blood – Bastille’s epic breakthrough album; yet after listening to this series of tracks that honestly seemed to make my ears smile, it can safely be said that the words ‘Bad’ and ‘Bastille’ do not belong in the same sentence. The London based quartet’s fourth single, ‘Pompeii’, released a month in advance due to popular demand, gave a sensational glimpse of what we could expect to hear from the rest of the album. Not only did it earn its deserved place at number one in Ireland and Scotland and number two in the overall UK top 40 charts, for most of us (as well as die-hard indie and rock alternative fans), it will forever be remembered as the song of the summer ’13 – which had us shamelessly singing along to the famously infectious chorus whilst sitting carefree in the grass with the breeze running through our hair. Their third single, ‘Flaws’, which showed a more sensitive side to the band, brought them overwhelming popularity in Belgium and Scotland, whilst still maintaining the indie folk/rock element that attracted such huge swathes of people in the first case, and transformed them into avid listeners. Frontman Dan Smith’s distinctive and instantly recognisable voice teamed Bastille’s signature catchy and whimsical lyrics arguably makes ‘Laura Palmer’ one of their best tracks yet; a feel-good song perfect for lazy days in the sun, contemplating life with a mug of tea and plate-fulls of biscuits, or just celebrating a truly great night. Either way, Bad Blood’s contribution to this year’s charts has been immense and I for one, am certainly addicted to them.

A Look Back On 2013 Part I

The nights are long, dark and cold, the airwaves are being filled by The Pogues and Slade in an endless swirling of christmas nostalgia and, as the year draws to it’s end, we here at Insanity HQ begin to look back on what has been a fantastic year in music. Of course, it’s not done yet, but for now the Music Team shall be guiding you through their picks of the best albums of the year. Dive in!

 

Michael Bird- Bring Me The Horizon “Sempiternal”

bring me the horizon

 

In an exciting year for rock music as a whole, Sheffield’s finest soared to the top of the heap with their stunning fourth album.  Ripping apart the idea of what a heavy metal band could and couldn’t be, Bring Me the Horizon freely incorporated elements of electronica, pop and ambient soundscapes into their ferocious hard rock sound, forming an album unlike anything else released this year, or indeed ever. Frontman Oli Sykes said he wanted BMTH to be “the metal band for people that don’t like metal” – indeed, you don’t need to be a fan of heavy music to appreciate Sempiternal.

Songs like “Sleepwalking” and “Go to Hell, for Heaven’s Sake” have massive hooks that rival anything on a pop smash hit, while slow-burning album highlights “And the Snakes Start to Sing” and “Hospital for Souls” are closer to atmospheric film soundtracks than anything you could call metal. On the other hand, those seeking their fix of heavy riffs will also find much to enjoy here. “Shadow Moses” fuses an arena-ready chorus with huge grooves perfect for the mosh pit, and “Antivist” is even more intense, a profanity-laced refrain perfectly matching the musical ferocity.

 

If any band are prepared to lead the charge for heavy music out of the underground and into the mainstream, it’s Bring Me the Horizon, and Sempiternal is proof that they’re going nowhere any time soon. Regardless of whether you’d typically listen to metal, give this album a try – you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.

 Recommended Tracks: “Shadow Moses”, “And the Snakes Start to Sing”

Michelle Archer- The Civil Wars “The Civil Wars”

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Grammy award winning duo Joy Williams and John Paul White experienced incredibly well deserved success from their debut album ‘Barton Hollow’ in 2011. Their second self-titled album ‘The Civil Wars’ was released earlier in August this year. It is truly unfortunate however that names can be self-fulfilling, as the duo is experiencing its very own civil war.  Williams stated to Rolling Stones that “over time, creative tension can breed personal tension and then personal tension ca

n breed creative tension. … In my opinion, that’s sort of how we found ourselves in [this] conundrum.” This means that it’s very much ‘up in the air’ as to whether they will go back on tour again, or if indeed we shall ever see a third album. One can only hope! Nevertheless, this album is certainly my pick for album of the year. Why? Because it is so diverse, and not a cliché of the country genre it is supposed to represent. Their voices blend so effortlessly together you would have thought they had known each other all their lives; it’s just magical. So without further ado, here are track reviews of my highlights from the album;

Same Old Same Old: Williams stated that “if you want to know what happened to the band, listen to the album.” ‘Same Old Same Old’ probably represents their internal troubles the most from the album. That being said this is definitely a song for those with relationship troubles! Aside from that, there is a gorgeous acoustic guitar to accompany the heart-breaking lyrics.

Dust to Dust: This song is soon to be used in the new film adaptation of ‘Carrie’. Fun fact for all you film buffs! This song is gorgeous defined, with such a chilling and peaceful tone, which makes this song brilliant for any wind down Sunday.

 

 

Matt La Faci- Foals “Holy Fire”

Foals-Holy-Fire-Review1

Let’s be honest, guitar music does not matter anymore. Guitar bands are irrelevant. For a long time the most important, innovative and compelling work has been done by groups who eschew the six strings for the computer keys, so how is it that Foals, undoubtedly profiteers of the noughties indie -boom, have made without doubt the best album of the year. One word: progress. And not just progress for progress sake, they have made an album with big tunes that sounds fresh, harks to the past as well as staring the future unflinchingly in the eye. An album with songs on the radio as well as deep cuts that are truly fulfilling listens. We all know how effortlessly catchy ‘My Number’ is and no one can deny the chemical reaction that occurs during the drop in ‘Inhaler’, but equally as good are album tracks such as the slow burner ‘Milk and Black Spiders’ and underrated single ‘Out of the Woods’. Cynics would counter this thesis by declaring that Holy Fire, whilst progressive, is still not as progressive as some of their contemporaries, like fellow Mercury award nominee and eventual winner James Blake, but really this is a tired concept in an age where everything has been done before. Everything. The simple rule that music should follow, be good. And Holy Fire, from top to bottom is the goodest.

 

 

Part II on it’s way soon! If you’d like to write one then go ahead and send them onto [email protected]!

 

Live Review: Bombino @ Southbank Centre, London

Live Review: Bombino

at the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, London | October 25th, 2013

 

Bombino is the stage nickname of acclaimed Tuareg blues guitarist Omara Moctar. Hailing from Niger, the musician put out a record earlier this year that was produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys untitled “Nomad”. The influence of Auerbach’s fuzz-rock can be heard clearly on the album and has lead to US and European concert tours and major festival appearances over this year. With the recent success and popularity of other bands like Tinariwen and Tamikrest, the future is promising for more Tuareg musicians like Bombino.

The first thing to notice as I took my seat was the huge variation of people in the audience. Sitting around me were several shaggy-haired university students, a French photographer and there were even some (probably) retired couples around the room. It goes to show how the music we were seeing was not aimed at a commercial ‘target audience’. When making the record, I imagine they weren’t expecting this range of success.

With no support act, Bombino took to the stage and began with a slow burning, acoustic guitar driven first fifteen minutes. The guitar playing was still noticeably good (as could be derived from the cheering through solo sections) but the seated players weren’t quite the explosion of energy I had expected. It was a more brooding and spiritual start than I had thought. Furthermore, the group would play a two minute eastern styled ‘drone-jam’ (think the last five minutes of “Whipping Post” from The Allman BrothersAt Fillmore East” live album) in between almost every song, which kept the audience drawn in and the atmosphere almost daydream-like.

Then, about mid-set, Bombino switched to an electric guitar while the percussionist now became a rhythm guitar player. It was around this point where the band really knocked things into gear, playing tracks from “Nomad” to which the crowd were clearly and vocally responsive. “Ça va?” he asked, “Excellente!” we replied. Within ten minutes most of the room were up on their feet, the speed and attack of the band increasing with every song. I have to admit, I did feel a little sorry for the poor one or two elderly members of the audience who were still seated in the front section while it rapidly became the center of the ‘drunk-uni-student’ crowd. Never mind, after a second they were up and grooving themselves.

The crowd were really roaring now and you could see the band were feeling it. The body language and style of their playing became ferocious as they hammered through the standout tracks from “Nomad” in last quarter of the show. After a wild final frenzy of desert-blues, Bombino smiled with a loud “Merci!”, before embracing his bandmates and then all leaving the stage together. We all knew he wasn’t finished yet though…

The mass cheering continued and before you could look away the band were flying out again. The sense of excitement and energy for both us and the players was palpable in the room as the drummer restarted. “Fast! Fast! Fast!” were the instructions from Bombino to the band as the encore roared away into a dark and driving ska jam. All too soon the music exploded into a finish and the exhausted band took a final bow before lights up. This was the end. As the players exited the stage, Bombino himself stuck around for a while after the show for photos and autographs. Hendrix of the Sahara has arrived.

By Joe Burns

Album Review: Eminem "The Marshall Mathers LP II"

Eminem – “The Marshall Mathers LP 2”

eminem

Shady’s back, back again, and after the success of 2010’s return to form album “Recovery” he’s confident enough to title his latest release as a sequel to what most consider his masterpiece, “The Marshall Mathers LP”. Fans expecting a return to the violent, take-no-prisoners Eminem of that record will be disappointed, as instead this is an aural portrait of the man who got to the top, fell from grace and has now finally clawed back his reputation to be regarded as a legend of the genre. This album is very much what Eminem’s about circa 2013, and it’s all the better for it.

Nonetheless, there are a few throwbacks to the old school Em that fans will appreciate – opener ‘Bad Guy’ may as well be a sequel to classic hit ‘Stan’, sharing the same building sense of tension and emotional catharsis. ‘Rap God’, meanwhile, sees Eminem show the rest of the rap scene exactly how it’s done in a way he hasn’t in years, at one point spitting 97 words within 15 seconds. The flip side of this is that occasionally “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” feels somewhat juvenile, particularly on the Beastie Boys-esque ‘Berzerk’, but the old-style songs offer a nice point of contrast and are often strong.

We mostly get to experience the same, more human side of Marshall Mathers that we’ve seen on his more recent albums, and while these moments are less consistent in terms of quality, they feel more sincere than songs where Eminem’s trying to be the same Slim Shady as a decade ago. ‘Headlights’ shows exactly how far he’s come, apologising to his mother for earlier offenses in what is probably the most mature song he’s created to date, and ‘Survival’ is a pop rock/rap crossover smash as massive as any on “Recovery”. Sadly there are also notable low points, including a Rihanna feature on ‘The Monster’ that comes nowhere near to the quality of past collaboration ‘Love the Way You Lie’.

The album ends on a dark, defiant note with ‘Evil Twin’, and the last few lines are the ones that hit hardest, as Eminem finally faces up to the fact that he and his ultra-violent alter-ego Slim Shady are in fact one and the same. This juxtaposition and subsequent acceptance of both his past and present musical and lyrical styles is an effective summary of “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” as a whole. While it won’t be remembered as a classic in the same way its namesake will, it’s nonetheless an interesting and occasionally great collection of songs forming an intriguing, if inconsistent album.

Recommended Tracks: “Rap God”, “Headlights”

By Michael Bird

Review: Pentatonix

Pentatonix Stock ImagePentatonix

So you liked Pitch Perfect? Glee is your favourite TV show, and you want to marry all of The Warblers…especially Blaine? Well honestly, these examples of a capella talents are a mere speck compared to the sheer awesomeness of this a capella group from Texas; Pentatonix (see their happy little faces below)

And you know what? They have every right to be happy! After winning the third season of the hit American TV show “The Sing-Off”, winning a snazzy $200,000 and a recording contract with Sony, this group has been raking in the success. Their video “Evolution of Music – Pentatonix” went viral on YouTube, and currently has over 20 million views…pretty impressive. If you haven’t already seen it I avidly suggest (and by that I mean I solemnly order!) that you watch it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lExW80sXsHs . If you have already seen it then just watch it again, and remind yourself of how incredible it is. The band is currently wrapping up their second album, ‘PTX, Vol.2’ which includes a brilliant cover of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Can’t Hold Us”. For just £5.99 on Itunes you can’t go wrong really. Failing that, check out some of their other fantastic covers on YouTube and fall in love with this incredibly talented band.

Top Tracks: Thrift Shop (cover), Evolution of Music, Royals (cover)

You’ll like them if you like: Pitch Perfect, Glee, covers of famous pop songs, Royal Holloway’s own Absolute Harmony.
Written By Michelle Archer