Music Journalism- Gig and Album Reviews Assignment 1
Blossoms Birmingham 02 Gig Review
The Boys are bringing the 70’s back
Blossoms gig at the 02 academy Birmingham on the 29th March opened up to a fantastic crowd of people. Cabbage a young Manc band opened and supported the group throughout their UK tour. Their rough rock and punk tones livened up the crowd making everyone ready for what was about to come.
The crowds were patiently waiting for the Stockport lads to come on stage; lights turning darker on comes Kayne West’s ‘Black Skinhead’ to open for the boys. Heavier beats and fast changing lights build up that craving anticipation. The smoothly walk out on stage with their long hair and 1970’s quirks. The guitars start to flicker and a quick strumming on the strings rolled into At Most a Kiss. The lyrics “I wrote to fear, to disappear, at most a kiss” has the crowd roaring back in excitement at one of the most recognisable songs off their first album.
Then ‘Texia’ trundled out with its funky keyboard tones played by Myles Kellock. Everyone started to form a crowd in the middle and jumping higher to the sweetness of Tom’s lyrics ‘I’m running out of the dark, with you”. ‘Blow’ followed with its dreary tones of the weary guitar. The hot and sweaty 02 academy was filled to the sides with numerous amounts of people. The next few tracks that followed was getaway and smashed pianos’ which received a huge welcoming from the crowd as people roared the words back. Tom hollers to the crowd “You alright Birmingham?” Picking up his white guitar, Tom goes into ‘Smoke’, another uplifting song that couldn’t keep the crowd still. The tune of rhythm of the drums keeps elevating the young to mosh. Smoke is the third song off their extended tracks which was released after their first album. The Extended Tracks has 10 tracks which are lot a smoother and slower with some unusual elements give us that individuality of Blossoms as a band. In 2016 Blossoms were named on BBC Radio 1’s new music list, and finished the year with the best- selling debut album.
‘Across the Moor’ is a song off their debut album with R&B tones from inspiration of the likes of Drake and then hints of indie band Arctic Monkey’s. This is something a lot of rock and indie bands are doing in today’s music. The front singer, Tom has so much confidence throughout this song. The way he walks around the stage with a sense of swag; his stage presence is very much Alex Turner esc. A few songs passed such as ‘Honey Sweet’, ’Fourteen’ and ‘Blown Rose’.
Charlie, Josh, Joe and Myles exit the stage to leave Tom with his acoustic guitar. He starts strumming to the humming sound of ‘My Favourite Room’. Tom asks the crowd if they’ve been heartbroken recently. To the reply of a young girl in the crowd “yes”. Tom sings the song by replacing some of the words with Abbie. The song finished and turned into a cover of Oasis’s ‘Half the World Away’ and then into Wham’s Last Christmas which the whole crowd was singing back. Tom happily laughs and shouts “This is the one crowd that’s gone the longest with singing Wham”. Tom departs the stage with a round of applause and the odd wolf whistle.
The lads come out for the encore and play Cut Me and I’ll Bleed, Polka Dot Bones and Deep Grass. The last song of the night is the bands most well-known song: ‘Charlemagne’. The crowd immersed themselves into the music and were absolutely mad for it!
Declan McKenna Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home single review
Declan McKenna is from a world full of alienation
Declan McKenna is an up and coming artist with winning the likes of the Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talents Competition in 2015, and playing on television shows such as Jools Holland in a flouncy dress and make up on his cheeks.
The many political and equality issues he is fighting can be seen through of all his live performances. His single ‘Isombard’ first got some air time on FIFA’17. His live eccentricity is what makes you want to sing along to all of his songs and ‘Kids Don’t Wanna Go Home’ is one where you can’t stop.
The Brighton lad penciled the lyrics to ‘Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’ after the Paris Attacks. Declan McKenna bursts with frustration against the terrorism by demonstrating the political awareness from the youth of today. The anger contrasting with the uplifting rhythm of his electric guitar gives it an ultimate feeling of empowerment. This is definitely Declan’s most influential song to date with challenging topics of suicide, transgender, politics and poverty throughout all of his work. He particularly speaks the word of this generation. This song brilliantly captures the sounds of children; making the heart felt words seem close to home for a twenty year old like me.
When he sings “I guess it’s just bad advice for someone so upstanding; so maybe just ask them twice or be a bit demanding” He creates this feeling around charismatic leaders who give reasons for hate in the world. Kid’s Don’t Wanna Come Home provides this representation of the change and attitudes between the kids from the noughties and the difference between the people born in the 1940’s. He shows that passion for change of who we accept in the world.
‘Kids Don’t’ Wanna Come Home’ is of McKenna’s extreme pop, mainstream records with the light chanting of the kids and loving sounds of his soft voice but exaggeration in the words for the frustration of the ideologies of the people in our society. He fights for equality and fairness. He wants the old generation to understand what we see and not what they do because we have moved on from previous generations. His work profanely states this.
His debut album ‘What Do You Think about the Car?’ is due to be released the 21st July 2017 with limited edition vinyl on sale. The album is set out shine all of his previous singles and give us a feel for him as an artist and to progress as a something more. Declan McKenna is definitely one to keep an eye out in future his rich guitar tones and eye for detail.
You’ll definitely want to buy this record if indie, guitar music that talks about the struggles in our society is your thing. The record doesn’t displease, it informs and makes you have fun. It’s the new generation of Punk!
The Strypes Vinyl Review
21st Century ‘Pog Rock’ Kings are back
The Strypes are Cavan’s best young band and seen as the best Rhythm and Blues Band to come around for years. They have had huge support from the likes of Alice Cooper, Bob Geldof, Noel Gallagher and Elton John. Their influences are from the likes of Buddy Holly, Ray Charles and The Blues Brothers. They are also influenced by the Pog Rock of the 1970’s and the Punk scene from late 1970’s with likes of Dr. Feel Good, The Clash and Buzzcocks. The Strypes came around big in 2013 and supported the likes of Arctic Monkeys on their UK& Ireland Tour and also The Stone Roses on their return to the road. The lads have been a bit quiet in the past few years with division between them and the label, EMI.
This new record from the four young Irish lads shows them doing their thing for charity again, this time it is for CANTEEN Ireland by producing a limited 7” vinyl. All proceeds from this record will go to the chosen charity which brings support groups together for young people between the ages of 12 and 25 years who have or have had cancer – the only support group in Ireland specifically for young people with cancer. Ireland has a huge problem with lack of funding for programs that support people get back on their feet after fighting an illness and finding that place to encourage people to get back in to a normal daily routine. The Strypes have put a lot of gigs on in the past for charities and supporting some of the biggest charity gigs which has huge names on the line up.
This record sees lads immersing themselves back into their roots by covering Nick Lowe’s version of (What’s so funny bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.
The opening, hits with those jumping guitar rhythms and bass, lead vocalist Ross Farrelly bringing those raw harmonies in right from the first word. The video from the single sees the boys in action playing the song in reverse roles which is a normal humour side that we always see from their eccentric style. The other record is Down at the Radio Tron by Stefan Murphy; one of the lads friends from back home in Ireland. Ross’s voice has more grit and sharpness on this record it gives it more of a powerful sound to it. Josh McClorey’s guitar skills are impeccable as ever with the way his hand just glides down the neck so easily covering every little bit.
Is this record giving us a taste of their upcoming album? I think so, it’s the voice of Ross Farrelly which has changed into soft tones, hinting at the Americanised voice for effect. The electricity the band has when they’re together is a beautiful site and even on this record you can feel it!
Dua Lipa- New Rules
Women power is kicking back at men
Dua Lipa’s new rules is one the most powerful and influential songs of the moment. Inspiring young women to follow their own rules and stick to them when it comes to men. Recently the song went viral on Twitter, racking up an eleven thousand favourites with young girls from all over the world showing support and respect for one another. The live acoustic version is a one off beauty which shows the raw, natural talent of a young British female artist coming up in the ranks. The lyrics to New Rules may be inspired by her recent split with her on/off boyfriend Isaac Carew who is a model and part time chef. The most powerful line in the song recognises the crappy behave of her ex “You know he’s only calling ’cause he’s drunk and alone”. Their relationship was all over social media with Isaac making everyone aware of it globally. However this split has seen Dua Lipa rise to stardom within the UK and making a statement for herself a supportive feminist.
Dua Lipa has many shows for the rest of the upcoming year with her UK tour about to kick off in Brighton on the 5th of October. You can also see her in Manchester, Glasgow and Birmingham. To see more of her tour dates visit: http://dualipa.com/live/
NAO- Bad Blood
Funky, R&B and Soul Girl
‘Bad Blood’ a track from Nao’s debut album, tell us of the heartache of hiding from a broken relationship. Her soulful, silky, rich voice makes you feel the pain in the lyrics. The drop of the beats gives us the image of the drama. From the style of this track you can see the way Neo Jessica Joshua collaborates with the likes of Disclosure and Jungle. This great track will definitely be the start of something great for NAO.
The darkness of this song is something female artists like to represent within their works. They don’t want to come across as soft and feminine. It is as if they are proving to men especially that we are tough, rebellious and aren’t afraid to step up to the plate to tell people how it is. Even though NAO keeps within the style of R&B it is easy to recognise that her feminist attitudes derive from other modern day artist like Kate Nash, Lorde, Grimes and Peaches. These women let their lyrics do the talking of their songs but for NAO I feel like she does both. The strength of the track not only enables you to enjoy it but it also makes you think.
If NAO keeps working on those big collaborations, in the future I definitely think that we will be seeing her in big places. The Grammys may just be her place to pluck up a storm.
Music Journalism: Think Piece Assignment
The oppression of women at music events is on the rise
Festival season is just about to close with new music and tours about to start for the autumn period. Live gigs will be on the rise in the next coming months; with live concerts it’s a freefall with open arms giving us time to appreciate the music and culture but many female goers are feeling they are having less fun and more to worry about with the rise of sexual harassment. This sickening abuse on young women is something that needs to be discussed at length; especially by music venues and security.
Sexual assault on young girls has been highlighted a lot recently, mostly on social media; as young girls feel that they have a voice to be heard online specifically as it allows these powerful stories to go viral. The importance of getting these stories heard is so that citizens have a place to be heard in the digital age. These stories frequently go viral because of the severity of the case or it is takes place at a large event with huge press and celebrity presence.
The latest issue surrounding sexual attacks on women is at a music concerts; lately there has been a rise in the amount of assaults on young girls at gigs which have been recorded to the police or news organisations. Sexual assault happens all the time to many women throughout the world; they are subjected to barbaric behaviour in a world that still can behave as though we are still in the 18th Century. Women’s right’s need to be recognised as important as men’s; the lack of discussion and attempt to fix these situations from happening again is unethical and immoral.
The first major story which brought this issue to light was in October 2015 when a young girl called Hannah Camilleri was sexual assaulted at a Peace Gig. A man attempted to put his hands down the tights of the young girl whilst she was at the front barriers watching the band. After this Harrisson Koisker the front man of Peace spoke on Twitter about how horrified he was on this occasion. Since this was brought to light the front man has also done many things to get more artists to recognise the situation and to call it out at live event. Bands and artists that have spoken up about the troubling issues are Peace, Drenge, Frank Turner and many more. BBC recently aired a local programme, Inside Out; it is set around the West Midlands area. This particular episode of Inside Out had a powerful segment about the sexual assault and harassment that young girls are facing at concerts, festivals etc. The programme sheds darkness on the way this makes the musicians feel, talks to Peace singer Harrisson Koisker. He talks about the lack of help and authority from security companies that are taking care of the public at gig venues across the country.
From this situation many more girls were speaking out about the times they have been sexual harassed or assaulted at a music concert. From these terrible stories come some great and noble charities which support women and men who face assault. One nameable charity is Girls Against (GirlsAgainst, 2015) which they formed after Hannah’s sexual assault nightmare. The four girls who make up this supportive group is Hannah, Ava, Anna, Anni and Bea. You can find Girls Against on social media platforms like Twitter or on their own website. They frequently tour festivals with their own little stalls that are set up to raise awareness and to help if you feel like this may have happened to you.
Recently reported, a festival in Sweden, Bravalla has had to cancel its follow up in 2018 due to one count of rape and numerous reports of sexual assault. The festivals press team said “Words cannot describe how incredibly sad we are about this, and we most seriously regret and condemn this.” (BBC, 2017) It is quite sad to think that a music event feels they cannot manage the safety and protect women. Something like this is not the first to happen this year at music events. The amount reports of sexual assault in particularly is worrying when music concerts and festivals are filled with groups of young females. I think females need to be ensured that a venue or a particular festival has regulations set in place to combat the problem otherwise it just becomes an unsafe environment which many musicians do not feel happy to be involved with.
Another charity Safe Gigs 4 Women supported an additional case online with the Polish band Decapitated being accused of gang raping a fan who joined them on their tour bus after a show. What is shocking is that someone of a higher status than that young girl would use that power to commit rape. The band have abused that young girl’s rights and this is not setting any standards for their ‘fans’. Safe Gigs 4 Women forcefully stated that “Anyone who dares comment: ‘but they went on the tour bus’ going on a band’s tour bus DOES NOT equal consent.” (Twitter, 2015) The charity are forcefully trying to demonstrate that people can abuse their power. Many issues of this in the world go on but young women should be able to feel like they can trust the people they look up to. It is disgraceful that these types of horrific stories are true.
The crisis that is upon gig goers is becoming very well known to the music world. Musicians are all in for supporting its audiences so that they are feeling safe when enjoying themselves at gigs or concerts. However the brutality of this problem is that the government within the UK can’t really do anything about the issue due to it being a lack of authority by security companies. Women really deserve to feel comfortable in their own bodies when they are out in public but to be able to set themselves free at concerts. Worrying about whether a man is going to sexual attack or grope them should be the last thing on their mind.
- BBC (2017) Swedish music festival is cancelled in 2018 after rape and sexual assault claim. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/40477791/swedish-music-festival-is-cancelled-in-2018-after-rape-and-sexual-assault-claims
(Accessed: 29th August 2017)
- GirlsAgainst (2015) Available at: http://girlsagainst.tumblr.com/faq (Accessed: 7th July 2017)
- Twitter (2015) @SAFEGIGS4WOMEN. Available at: https://twitter.com/safegigs4women/status/908020014820806657
(Accessed: 14th September 2017)
Music Journalism – Interview of Bryony Williams Assignment 1
Bryony Williams: The Feminist and Artist
Sitting in the depths of a scruffy student pub, I caught up with Bryony Williams. A self-confessed feminist and an activist of gay pride!
Bryony is a British female artist from Wolverhampton who seeks to find herself through the art of writing. Bryony at just age 20 has already been established in the music industry; Field Harmonics.
Q. You used to be in a duo with Rob Glover: Field Harmonics. Is this something that you are staying away from at the moment or is this more for you to learn about yourself as an artist?
A. “I’d agree in that this is more of a personal journey for me. To learn and test myself, and to also hopefully meet some useful people along the way. I want to experience it all for myself, although I know I can’t do everything by myself.”
Q. So Bryony tell me what you been up to this summer?
A. “Well, over the summer I stopped performing live so I could focus on recording my second collective of songs and it’s been a little whirlwind in my brain ever since the notion started. I’ve gone back and forth on what I want to create, skipping from the idea of EP to album to single releases… Either way I have been working on a selection of 5 songs with my producer Matt Pinfield at his home studio in Wolverhampton. I’m also in the midst of curating a music video for my next single. I haven’t ever taken on such a job of directing or producing a music video single-handedly. But once I solidify a small team, I can hopefully bounce my ideas to them and get creative support and direction before I lose my mind!”
Q. It sounds like you’re working up a storm to get to the nitty gritty aspects of the music industry. On your social media accounts represent yourself as someone who is an artist and a feminist. I was wondering if this is something you’re going to reflect in your new video?
A.“The context of the song which will be the single kind of wraps up a majority of what this summer has succumbed to. It’s basically about my fears/worries of the future… ‘What after uni? Will I land a decent job? Where do I go next?’ kind of thing. So the video (which will more than likely change throughout the production) starts with me and a band behind me playing in a melancholy style to an attentive but sort of blank small audience. That initial scene I think is portraying how I can come across in real life on stage… little, maybe nervous, precious, powerful yet quiet despite being center stage. And during my performances I like tinkering with the crowd once I have their full attention… to bring the music as quiet as possible and to be able to hear a pin drop in the room… to toy with them slightly. So it’s kind of the representation of me being a little cheeky devil yet innocent and sweet. The rest of the video will explore my worries as a first person narrative but we’ll see what that takes on board closer to the project”.
Being a feminist is the thing of the moment and not only because it may seem fashionable but it’s the way of thinking and behaving for many young females. The tone of sex, feminism and sexuality is what Bryony wants audiences to see. The feeling of making the atmosphere dark and feeling uncomfortable allows her to let people question themselves.
The idea that Bryony is at university and tackling these life issues can explain with the thoughts that is provoking her to write these songs. I think many young people will level with Bryony because it’s hard not knowing where you are going; especially being young and holding on to that teenage angst. Bryony is pleasant and very truthful about what her work means to her. The singer/ song writer is very open to her fans on what issues she is facing. The connectivity is something feminists, male and female, can start to relate to.
Q. In terms of your lyrics does they ever express your sexuality or express any of your feminist views?
A. “The current songs I’m recording definitely show a turning point in my songwriting when I compare them to my first EP release. It still continues with a dark theme which I feel will always underlie with my lyrics. But it has moved away from connections with the outdoors, nature, wanderlust, and instead towards the notions of feminism and sexuality and experiences from different narratives. For example, one song I’m working on called ‘Hypnosis’ takes on a couple of narratives to begin with, and can be interpreted as a lovers tiff. However the song resolves into a real impactful description to me… as it describes a manipulative man who chooses to cheat and take advantage of vulnerable situations. This song comes from my own personal experiences and I feel it speaks for all females because that is a situation which most if not all females face in their life at any time. Because the lyrics can be quite vague, it’s because the narrative is coming from me who has accepted and in turn has simply had to numb that memory out so it’s as if it’s coming from a sedated area within myself. I also wrote a song called ‘Bleed’ which I put on YouTube a while ago. I wouldn’t say it’s a huge milestone in my portfolio but I just wanted to write something that might make some people uncomfortable and to take pleasure in that. It’s all important to me because my song lyrics reflect me. And I’ve certainly grown since my ‘Wanderlust’ EP and it’s time to voice that.”
From a young Bryony in Field Harmonics it is easy to see the growth of her ideas and the way she is establishing herself.
Q. From the 5 songs you have written is there any artist which has influenced your current music? Have you been listening to a particular artist that has stemmed your ideas?
A. “Over the past few months I’ve been really into the female rockers who have and are paving the way and expanding our territory in female music. To name drop a few: Courtney Barnett, Jen Cloher, Chastity Belt, Alvvways, Hazel English, Peaness, Charlotte Carpenter, Laura Marling, Joni Mitchell and K D Lang. They all bring something different, of course. But I feel my music surely takes in some of those artistic ideas subconsciously. If I go out purposely seeking influence though, it usually comes from reading books or watching a film. Something that directly moves me or gives me a subject to consider and work upon.”
Audiences are going to love how Bryony Williams is a well-rounded artist. The fact she likes to work on all aspects of her music identity is quite quirky but reminds us of artists such as David Bowie who was so successful for putting his original spin on his works.
Q. Regarding the future of your music, when do you expect to release the 5 new songs you have been working on this year?
A. “I suppose once they’re done really! Haha. I reckon by the time recording is done… I’ve designed the artwork… sorted out online distribution i.e. Spotify, iTunes. And then also PR! I’m feeling like the start of 2018 will be the ideal date. Feb/March. Though I will presumably release a couple of songs along the way.”
Bryony Williams seems to have her head screwed on when it comes to knowing who she is but from speaking to the beautiful, young artist it is easy to see that she’s unsure of the path she wants to take. Maybe in a few years Bryony will know straight where she’s heading.
By Lily Fitzsimons