Album Review: All Time Low – Future Hearts

All Time Low are currently hot property, having played all of the major arenas across the UK alongside You Me AT Six. The release of their latest and sixth album Future Hearts will therefore need to be strong enough to match this new found popularity.

The album kicks off well enough with an opening song titled Satellite lead by strong drum rhythms of Rian Dawson and a prominent bass from Zack Merrick. The tone is heavier and more subdued than the usual ATL delivery, resulting in a memorable opener. Whilst the Instrumentation is similar to their previous releases the combination of solid drum and bass is a strength running through the whole album.

The second track Kicking & Screaming is the classic All Time Low sound we expect– a characteristic solid gold pop-punk stand-out track that showcase Alex Gaskarth’s vocal to the full and which is guaranteed to be an instant hit with the fans.

Kids in the Dark and Runaway also follow the All Time Low tried and trusted formula; Kids in the Dark is a stand-out emo-rock track with a sing-a-long anthemic chorus. Runaway, although full of catchy hooks, is rather unremarkable and disappointingly flat, failing to deliver the same punch.

The standout songs of this album are Dancing With a Wolf and Missing You both showing how the band have grown up and are moving away from their teenage beginnings.

Dancing With a Wolf delivers a much darker but buoyant dance-rock track  than is usually associated with All Time Low. Amped up electric guitars and a driving bass produce a memorable and catchy performance.

Future Hearts highlights a departure from the classic pop-punk formula with the introduction of a number of slower songs of slower songs such as Missing You. This delivers a completely different sound – an acoustic track with guitar and ukulele and lyrics that are delivering a poignant message. The simple string accompaniment emphasises the strong vocals and again shows thatAll Time Low are growing up.

All Time Low invitation to a number of  guest vocalists unfortunately doesn’t quite live up to the expectations. Mark Hoppus (Blink 182) features on Tidal Waves during the second verse, but his vocals lack the impact that you would expect, although the chorus is memorable.

The second invited artist Joel Madden (Good Charlotte) makes an appearance in Bail Me Out This, unfortunately, comes across as a filler track and is disappointingly bland  despite Madden trading off verses and choruses throughout with Alex.

An attempt at an arena-style rock ballad with Edge of Tonight despite an attempt at a catchy chorus is surprisingly lacking and somewhat bland.

The closing track however Old Scars/Future Hearts is a return to All Time Low at their best –  full of energy throughout.

Overall  Future Hearts, produced by John Feldmann, provides a consistent sound – a mix of light ballads and bass-driven anthems, interspersed with some catchy tunes and provides a definite development from Dirty Work with its more grown up vibe that may take some getting used to.

It is not their best collection of songs but most are as good as what they have done before. Lyrically the songs do not stand out but the vocals of Alex Gaskarth are on point and the harmonies superb. The album is however fun – but more ambitious in scope and with a bit more studio polish than their previous releases.

Written By: Lindsy Stott

Slam Dunk 2015

SDF15-poster-3 (1)2015 is the year You Me At Six take over Slam Dunk festival, one of the most anticipated headline artists in years.

You Me At Six will be joined by a huge variety of artists including Taking Back Sunday, PRVIS, We Are The Ocean, Gallows, Don Broco, Neck Deep, Lower Than Atlantis, While She Sleeps and a whole heap more.

Festival dates and venues

* Saturday, May 23

Slam Dunk Festival North: Leeds University.

* Sunday, May 24

Slam Dunk Festival South: The Forum Hertfordshire, Hatfield.

* Monday, May 25

Slam Dunk Festival Midlands: Wolverhampton Civic.

Tickets are priced at £37, and £39 with after-show party across all sites.

For a full list of ticket outlets for all shows, visit the Slam Dunk website at www.slamdunkmusic.com

Written By: Samantha Stott

Album Review: James Bay – Chaos And The Calm

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James Bay – the winner of this year’s Brits critics’ choice award and the BBC Sound Of 2015 title ahead of the release of his debut album; for many this was first time they had heard this name. His surprisingly quick rise to fame has been ruthlessly efficient, driven by a shrewd management team who have succeeded in casting this young 22 year old into such a prominent position that he is bound to receive some pretty sharp criticism that would dent many a confidence.

Bay possesses a rasping voice, that also draws comparison to both James Morrison and Paulo Nutini. His hit single from last year Hold Back the River received plenty of airplay and has also been covered in the Live Lounge – praise indeed – by Ella Henderson.

He is an accomplished guitarist, and the album Chaos And The Calm is full of solid guitar-led pop tunes. The opening track, Craving is a catchy number that belies the message within, the upbeat tempo clashing with the songs lyrics that depict a frustrated artist confined within the routines of his hometown.

Bay clearly knows how to write lyrics and tracks such as Scars, Move Together and Let It Go expose his vulnerability, youth and the woes of broken relationships.

When We Were On Fire introduces a pleasant funk vibe

Best Fake Smile shows a grittier edge and hints at a rock vibe that is perhaps being hidden.

James Bay has come along way since his busking days in Brighton – this experience undoubtedly provided the building bricks for honing his ability to connect with the public and he will undoubtedly have the festival scene well and truly in his hands this year.

Although critiqued as ‘ androgyne’ and ‘run of the mill’ this album will sell. His music may be seen to be middle of the road, but his delivery of soft rock belies tougher influences that are clearly lying just below the surface; the interest in this newcomer and the attention that he is generating may ignite his confidence to expose this deeper rockier side and challenge him to develop the talents that he clearly does possess.

This first album is catchy and heartwarming. Let’s not knock him back at the start of his career but see what develops as this could well be the start of something big!

Track Listing:

Craving

Hold back the river

Let It Go

If You Ever want to be in love

Best Fake Smile

When we were on Fire

Move Together

Scars

Collide

Get Out while you can

Need The Sun to break

Incomplete

Written By: Lindsy Stott

Live Review: Young Guns – The Haunt, Brighton – 2nd April 2015

Young Guns, the main event of the evening at The Haunt, marked a return to Brighton after a three year hiatus. Opening up with latest single I Want Out, the room was soon a mass of eager fans, who sang along with gusto to last September’s single release.

The engaging vocals of Frontman Gustav Wood excelled from the outset and he enthusiastically led Young Guns though a strong 14 piece set that included songs from their past two albums and soon to be released third album Ones and Zeros. Drummer Ben Jolliffe set the tone, providing a constant rhythm and hard rock beats, generating a sound that  is considerably harder live than on any of their recordings.

Each song was big and bold with one hook-laden anthem after another. The likes of Dearly Departed, Rising Up and monumental set closer Bones had fans in full vocal flow.

The quintet proved that despite having a break from playing shows recently they’ve not forgotten their performing skills although there were times that the set was not as tightly performed as in previous years, though this did not seem to matter to the raucous crowd who applauded and cheered fervently though-out.

It was an intense set that provided an energy that engaged the crowd, even allowing for a fervent mosh pit despite the compact surroundings. Performing older unexpected tracks such as Stitches ensured that the quintet appealed to fans old and new.
Young Guns have been away but have clearly not been forgotten and seem keen to stamp their mark on the music scene again this year. Their third album Ones and Zeros will be released on June 8, 2015

  Setlist

1    I Want Out

2 Dearly Departed

3 Rising Up

4 Stitches

5 You Are Not

6 Towers (On My Way)

7 Crystal Clear

8 After the War

9 Elements

10 Daylight

11 Everything Ends

12 Weight of the World

13 Speaking in Tongues

14 Bones

Written By: Lindsy Stott

Live Review – Blitz Kids – The Haunt, Brighton – 2nd April 2015

 

With a sold out show and an eager crowd it was up to Blitz Kids to kick off the night in the small and compact venue of The Haunt. This engaging quartet immediately drew the support of the lively crowd, opening with ‘Run for Cover’ and followed by ‘Sometimes’ – both guaranteed crowd pleasers!

Joe James, who possesses vocals that are both melodious and incredibly powerful had the crowd singing-along, generating an atmosphere filled with an energy and passion.

The inclusion of ‘Disaster Chapters’ and ‘Desert Storm’ in the set, both B sides from previous single releases were enthusiastically welcomed by the bands hardcore fans – both singles too good not to be brought back out again!

The tight musicianship of this band cannot be faulted, and strong vocal support from Jono Yates and Nic Montgomery added depth and strength to an engaging and professional set. The anthemic ‘All I Want’ saw Joe James bounding around the stage with the crowd providing a rousing vocal chorus.

Since the release of second album ‘The Good Youth’ the quartet have not stopped with numerous appearances across the UK. Since Slam dunk 2014 they have supported The Marmosets and Young Guns, and have also just returned from the USA after appearing at SXSW.

The faultless performance of the 9 piece set and the rousing reception received at The Haunt shows that Blitz Kids are one of the best British rock bands on the scene and their success looks set to continue, hopefully with their own, deserved headline tour later this year. If you get the chance to see Blitz Kids do not hesitate – you really will not be disappointed!

Setlist

1 Run for Cover

2 Sometimes

3 Keep Swinging

4 Desert Storm

5 Disaster Chapters

6 Sold My Soul

7 All I Want Is Everything

8 On My Own

9 Perfect

Written By: Lindsy Stott

Album Review: The Maine – American Candy

The-Maine-American-Candy

The Maine – the enduring American rock band from Tempe, Arizona that formed in January 2007 and who have now released their fifth studio album, American Candy (March 31, 2015)

The Maine could so easily been lost in the ageing plethora of american pop-punk bands but their last two albums have seen them forge their own, definitive Americana-style path with an indie-rock twist which has succeeded in maintaining the support of their fans as well as attracting many new listeners along the way.

This winning formula is clearly evident with their fifth album American Candy which displays another consistently strong bunch of songs to add to their rapidly growing collection but sees The Maine developing and adapting their sound further into a mature and substantial pop-rock album.

There are musical influences stretching back to the 1970’s, marking a departure from the brooding melancholy sounds of their last album Forever Halloween which featured a heavier and darker alt -rock vibe.

American Candy showcases the high energy pop punk anthems about love and youth and is a lighter, Summer album – clearly evident in the opening track Miles Away. The Maine acknowledge that they are no longer the twenty one year olds they were when they released Black and White in 2010, and the loss of the overused four-chord guitar riffs show that this band has grown up.

English Girls is pure, professional pop-rock that will have you dancing around the room. Another Night On Mars contrasts this perfectly with it’s piano-led overtones.

In the album’s second track Same Suit, Different Tie, it’ is evident that even the band recognise their transition but maintain that they have remained true to their roots throughout their career progressions.

The Maine ridicule authority in My Hair making clear that they are going to do whatever the hell they please, and the whole album portrays the band’s ‘We don’t give a f***’ attitude.

American Candy is another stage of The Maine’s musical evolution. They successfully maintain the playful energy that their hardcore fans love but have created a mature album and if you’re looking for a solid collection of unique pop rock anthems then look no further than this

Many fans will say that this is undoubtedly The Maine’s finest album to date. It may fall under the radar as their records so often do, but American Candy is a fantastic album that deserves to be heard and heralded this Summer. It is affirmation that The Maine never left, and have no intention of doing so anytime soon, and above all, The Maine have proved with this release that they can still kick ass–and that they kick it pretty damn hard!!

Track Listing

Miles Away

Same Suit, Different Tie

My Hair

English Girls

24 Floors

Diet Soda Society

Am I Pretty?

(Un)Lost

American Candy

Another Night On Mars

Written By: Lindsy Stott

Live Review: Tokio Hotel – Islington Assembly Hall – 6th March

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For the first time in 5 years Tokio Hotel took to the stage in London, with a career spanning over 10 years their show at Islington Assembly Halls is the smallest of their current tour, the ‘feel it all’ tour, but it was hard to realise with the electric atmosphere in the room.

The show began with a spectacular projected lights show followed by Bill Kaulits (lead singer) gracing the stage in a flamboyant gold cape and matching crown, claiming the stage as his own.

From start to finish the show show was packed with energy and enthusiasm from both the band and the fans, who could not have been more excited to be there, many having travelled from the likes of France and the bands home country of Germany.

Throughout Bill changed his outfit a variety of times, from gold plated trousers to flamboyant white shirt with flared sleeves and everything in between. Giving chances for his bandmates, Tom Kaulitz (Bills twin), Bass, and Georg Listing, Drums, to show off their own musical talents as the battled it out in a drum solo.

VIP fans joined the band on the small stage for Kings of Suburbia, which added to the energy that was already creating an incredible atmostphere within the room.

The band slowed things down allowing enthusiastic crowd to catch their breath, with an acoustic rendition of Rescue Me, which was very well received by the crowd who sang every word back, which were followed by Invaded and Run Run Run. Things slowly picked up again for the remainder or the set.

Heart Get No Sleep saw Bill fire a CO2 gun above the crowd, making it snow, before heading back to his mic to finish the show.

The set came to a close with the German hit Durch Den Monsun and Great Day,

It may have been a while since they last graced a UK stage but they certainly staked their place as one of, if not the, best live German band around.

SETLIST

We Found Us

Girl Got a Gun

Darkside of the Sun

Covered in Gold

Feel It All

Louder Than Love

Never Let You Down

Noise

Kings of Suburbia (with fans on stage)

Invaded

Run, Run, Run

Rescue Me

Automatic

Screamin’

Stormy Weather

Masquerade

The Heart Get No Sleep

Encore:

Love Who Loves You Back

Durch den Monsun

Great Day

Written By: Samantha Stott

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