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Why Live Lounge Month 2017 Is The Best Live Lounge Month Yet

Aaah, September. Big month, September. School starts again, first dashes of Autumn and of course, Live Lounge Month on Radio 1.

The last one there probably doesn’t relate to as many people’s lives as the others do but hey, it does mean something to the dedicated listeners of BBC Radio 1 – some of whom may have been listening since Day One, way back in 1967.

And that very anniversary is getting brilliantly celebrated this month through the medium of the ever-so intimate Radio 1 Live Lounge, these days curated by bubbly mid-morning presenter, Clara Amfo.

All bands and artists selected this month are asked to play their new single, an older classic of theirs and a cover of a popular track from the last fifty years. This, as you can imagine, opens up many doors indeed.

We’ve had The Foo Fighters unleash the almighty power of rock with an AC/DC cover from their LA studios, The Killers blend 2017 single, ‘The Man’ with Bowie classic, ‘Fame’, (mainly due to the not too dissimilar beat and time signature) and Wolf Alice beautifully deliver a haunting rendition of Green Day sing-along, ‘Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)’.

As well as excellent Live Lounges from Radio 1 favourites, The xx and Stormzy; we’re sure there’ll be plenty more to enjoy before the end of the month is upon us.

Now, gotta go and catch up. Jay-Z’s to watch. Na-nite.

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Posted by on September 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Two Of The Best With Two Of The Best

Good afternoon, happy Saturday!

So you always get those times in a calendar year where no good albums at all come out, and then you get those times where so many great, brilliant records come out and you’re absolutely bombarded! The latter is definitely happening at the moment in music I feel, not forgetting also that we are building up to the winner of this year’s prestigious Mercury Music prize being announced.

We start with Queens of the Stone Age. Coolest rock band on the planet? Possibly behind Foo Fighters you may argue. Anyway, they’ve just released their seventh studio album titled ‘Villains’. There’s no doubt that it would have taken a massive record with many top quality songs to even be spoken in the same breath as sixth colossus, ‘…Like Clockwork’, but it’s certainly up there.

Smooth, silky, sexy, even boppy to some degree; ‘Villains’ is full of heavy guitar-driven behemoths of songs such as ‘The Evil Has Landed’ and ‘Domesticated Animals’. Synths are even included, as lead single ‘The Way You Used To Do’ fuses Californian distortion with drops of electro. The whole record is dark, but also feel-good. Really great listen.

Secondly, we come to one of my favourite bands, currently and of all time; LCD Soundsystem. ‘American Dream’ has only been in stores for around twenty-eight hours at the time of writing this blog post. It’s been purchased and I’m listening to it right now. Wow, it is phenomenal. I’m probably biased because I adore all the albums and still to this day they hold a top five place in my best gigs ever – but it’s fantastic.

With so much inspiration from 70’s and 80’s retro groups and electro, James Murphy has planned and tirelessly worked hard on every track. He’s documented some of the production of the album on social media and you can really sense that LCD have gone back to some of their roots from the self-titled debut era. ‘Tonite’ must be a throwback to old-school funk-soul electronica. ‘Emotional Haircut’ is loud, bombastic and barbaric, similar to how ‘Movement’ was on the debut; and it doesn’t matter how long closer ‘Black Screen’ may be, it’s hypnotic and scintillating.

This is a band whose musicianship is hugely underrated in my opinion, and are live performers like no other. Every album is a masterpiece, ‘American Dream’ being the latest to the collection.

Cheers, have a great weekend. Keep listening!

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

The Weekly Escape

Evening all.

So as I wrote about a few weeks ago now, I’m officially ‘back behind the mic’. I’ve started presenting and producing a regular music show once more on my local community radio station, Sine FM, (Sundays at 6pm if you’re interested).

I wanted to start doing the show for a variety of reasons:

  1. I’ve missed radio. It’s been a year since I did some hospital radio, that which I didn’t get much out of, and it hooks you in once you’re into the routine. You start listening to more radio in general, especially the station you’re part of. It’s like a family you don’t see much at all, but you know you’re all part of the same fish tank so to speak, it’s literally got community written all over it.
  2. I need it for the CV. After doing a degree in Radio Production, you really would think that I may have found a job in radio, but as of yet I haven’t (typically in this day and age). Therefore, I figured I’d need to have something written on the CV so as to make me look interested still, which of course I very much am. SOMEONE EMPLOY ME.
  3. Lastly, it’s something to look forward to every weekend. Sometimes when you’re in a job, you have weekends where you just really can’t be arsed because you’re so tired and you lounge around watching sitcoms and eating doritos… (remind you of anyone?) I desperately try to utilise my weekends anyway and I knew that this show would give me something to strive towards every week, even if it is just an hour on air, playing music, with only potentially a few listeners. That’s something I can happily accept, because it makes me feel great. At the moment, I feel like I’m reaching a crossroads in my personal and social life, and this show and what comes with it is the beautiful form of escapism I crave for weekly. I know from now on in that I’ll just be looking forward to Sunday at 6. I’m able to play the music I’m listening to and enjoying, to people whom will appreciate it and support my passion. What can’t you love about that?

 

Anyway, I don’t mean to go deep, but it happens sometimes. Cheers for reading. Joe x

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

My First Glastonbury

Phew. So I’ve just about recovered and feel fairly human again after getting back from my first Glastonbury Festival yesterday afternoon, (Monday 26th June 2017).

What a festival, what a weekend. We arrived very tired and very dreary-eyed on Wednesday morning in the stupidly early hours and started queuing, with a bit of a kip thrown in too, ready to get in through the gates at 8am. After setting up camp on what MUST have been the hottest day of the year so far, it was time to spend the next two days exploring the magnificence and weird wonders of the festival. I really was taken aback and overwhelmed at how big the site was, and how much stuff was going on. It’s true what people say; you can easily not see any bands and still have an incredible time at Glastonbury!

From the Circus Fields to Shangri-La to the Stone Circle, the walk around the site is something to behold. One of the first things I saw on Thursday was a bearded man sipping a cup of tea outside one of the stalls in the Hippie Fields absolutely starkers! I’ve heard of hanging out at Glastonbury but that was taking it a bit far…

But who cares? It’s Glastonbury. Anything goes. And anything did go. I spent Thursday night raving with my Uncle at the Glade where we experienced The Orb going through their seminal album, ‘The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld’ and then saw nearly thirteen hours of live music on Friday.

My feet absolutely murdered by the end of the day but I can safely say that I saw one of my favourite ever bands, Radiohead, right up close and it was so worth it. After shedding a tear to second song, ‘Lucky’, they ran through tracks from ‘The Bends’, ‘OK Computer’, ‘Hail To The Thief’ and ‘In Rainbows’ most notably. The set has had its mixed reviews but it didn’t stop me enjoying it nonetheless. The most special moment had to be the continuous rapture from us all in the crowd of ‘For a minute there, I lost myself’ after they played last track, ‘Karma Police’.

Saturday was being taken a bit easier until the mighty Foo Fighters took to the Pyramid Stage and played a hit-packed set, with a couple of Queen classics thrown in there. Forever the crowd pleasers! Fireworks were shot up in the air after ‘Everlong’ was blasted out and then it was time to hit the Unfairground, which is, well, just bloody bizarre. I can safely say before that evening that I’d never stepped into a club where the entrance was a huge mouth, or acknowledged the Madchester legend that is Bez from the Happy Mondays. It was an interesting and top night that concluded in a slow walk back to camp with a massive bowl of nachos. Beautiful.

I felt pretty Glastonbury-ed out by Sunday morning, so the decision to chill out and watch a few bands at the John Peel stage was a good one. Real Estate, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes all smashed it before it took me what felt like a year to navigate my way out of the John Peel area back to the Pyramid for Chic. Word had been brewing all day about The Killers playing a secret set and it was all true, so it’s safe to say that it was bloody packed when I was trying to leave. While we’re on this subject, can I just say that I think it’s great that Glastonbury do these secret sets – it really gets everyone excited and it seems to intertwine well with the magic of the place and what it can spice up – but bloody hell, if you’re going to book The Killers, put them on the Pyramid! Not only did it take me forever to get out and step over all the waiting bodies, but there was a sea of people being cordoned off who wouldn’t have even got in to see Brandon Flowers strutting his stuff on the screen, let alone the stage itself. Madness in my opinion. But as I said earlier, anything goes at Glasto.

An early night was had after another little tear at Biffy Clyro and we left the site at about 7am on Monday morning with zero queues, thank God! Very tired, very disorientated, but so, so worth it. Thank you Glastonbury, thank you so bloody much.

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Back Behind The Mic

Evening all. Gosh, it’s been half a year since I’ve blogged. I’m eating my words all the time, a bit like a politician. Very topical, eh?

Anyway, for the first time in what felt like forever yesterday, I pre-recorded a radio show, and I can confirm that it felt really bloody amazing. It really was such a joy just to chill out for an hour, enjoy some carefully-selected tunes and talk about them. That’s what I initially went into radio to do, and that’s what I endeavour to do once more for the foreseeable – be the 14 year-old Joe in some ways.

I’ve got in touch with my old community radio station, Sine FM, and shared interest to start doing a show again, just like the old times; before I could vote, drink, drive or basically do anything remotely adult.

The reign of freedom that the presenters have when choosing the content of their shows and/or the music has always been the most refreshing thing about Sine. Since the stations’ expansion into other areas of Doncaster, the attitude is still the same. Laidback, free reign, to an extent of course. It’s brilliant though, it’s certainly the approach that more community stations ought to adhere to. I personally can’t wait to get stuck in again.

I’ve already had some feedback on the show I pre-recorded yesterday, so that will be worked on. In the meantime, I’m going to go away and collate some good tunes. Keep those fingers on the dial. Cheers.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

My Top 10 Albums Of 2016

RIGHT. So, here we go. That time of year again. All the other ‘albums of the year’ lists have been written and released. Most of them wrong in my opinion… *cough* NME *cough*

I really don’t need to say anything more about that, but they more or less recommended me to my local GP upon coming across my Twitter reaction to their No. 1 position. Read this article and scroll three-quarters of the way down the page for more information if you’re interested – http://www.nme.com/blogs/nme-blogs/readers-best-reactions-nmes-albums-year-2016-1873931

Alright, let’s crack on.

 

10) Jack White – ‘Acoustic Recordings: 1998 – 2016’

Image result for acoustic recordings jack white

Number 10 is a compilation album! It’s unusual that I would include a comp in my annual list but this one is an exception. Comprising of unplugged ditties from The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and White’s solo work; this double LP spans through eighteen years of wonderfully crafted songwriting from one of modern music’s most loved guitarists. Stand-out moment, ‘Carolina Drama’ tells us about Billy and his junkie family when they get involved in a bloody brawl with a priest. This is one of many brilliant little stories that White has managed to pick out of his brain over the last two decades. ‘Acoustic Recordings’ is lovely to listen to in front of a roaring fire, give it a try.

 

9) David Bowie – ‘Blackstar’

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Oh God, please don’t get me going. I can’t believe that it’s been nearly a year since Bowie left us, and this was his final hurrah, for now anyway. We all know about his sad death and this is how he said goodbye. It is a fantastic goodbye as well. With only seven songs on the record, ‘Blackstar’ portrays Bowie at his arty best; with influences of jazz, minimalism, experimental and guitar music all mixed up in one big blender of genius. The lyrics, ‘look up here, I’m in heaven’ are already infamous, and hit every Bowie fans’ heart on listening. It’s just such a shame that we’ll never get to see him perform these great songs, rest in peace to one of the greatest musicians that’s ever lived.

 

8) James Blake – ‘The Colour In Anything’

Image result for james blake the colour in anything

This year has irritated me in a way because so many great albums have been completely forgotten about and overshadowed by utter crap like Beyonce and Kanye bloody West. I mean, really? Listen to ‘The Life Of Pablo’ and tell me what you REALLY think. Anyway, this is one of those albums that’s been swept under the carpet. Preceding his excellent Glastonbury performance in June, headlining the West Holts Stage on the Saturday; fans could own the songs written by James Blake that pleased them so much on that night in Pilton, in the form of ‘The Colour In Anything’. At 76 minutes long, it’s a stupendously long album, full of beautiful moments as well as head-nodding moments with discordant time signatures. It’s very much worth spins a-plenty though. The artwork is also awesome, shout-out to Quentin Blake for taking me back to my childhood when looking through the album sleeve!

 

7) Iggy Pop – ‘Post Pop Depression’

Image result for iggy pop post pop depression

This is undoubtedly the coolest and sexist album to grace my list this year. The indefinable, sensual, waxwork-like character of rock and roll that is Iggy Pop came back with a bang in 2016 after being away from the limelight for long enough, and he wasn’t messing about. With members of Queens Of The Stone Age and Arctic Monkeys to band him up, we were guaranteed to get something remarkable. ‘Post Pop Depression’ is an incredible jaunt through pouncing riffs and songs of prowess, with some insanely witty lyrics throw in. On ‘Paraguay’, Iggy screams in anger about the digital age, shrieking, ‘You take your motherfucking laptop, and just shove it into your goddam foul mouth’. This is an issue that musicians seem to be addressing more, and about time too. No-one does it like Iggy, though. An absolute must-own.

 

6) Skepta – ‘Konnichiwa’

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2016 has without a doubt been the year of grime. It’s owned the clubs, it’s owned the charts and it is dominating UK culture as we know it. Grime’s current poster-boy, Skepta, on receiving the Mercury Music Prize for his fourth solo effort, ‘Konnichiwa’, was a clear recognition of that. That aside however, ‘Konnichiwa’ is a great piece of work. It exploits Skepta’s London roots as well as his new friends from across the pond, including a certain Pharell Williams. I’m not sure any party this year has been without at least one of ‘Shutdown’, ‘That’s Not Me’ or ‘Man’. This is grime’s most important record since ‘Boy In Da Corner’. It’s officially come up out of the basements, and onto the Radio 1 A-list thanks to ‘Konnichiwa’. Incredibly story when you think about it.

 

5) Deftones – ‘Gore’

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We’re getting to the business end of the list now, and at Number Five, it’s one of metals’ most exciting and daring bands; the one and only Deftones. ‘Gore’ is the eighth studio album released by the band, and the first since former bassist, Chi Cheng, sadly died after going into a cardiac arrest in 2013. And if anything, Cheng’s death inspired the rest of the band to make one of their finest records to date. Full of ideas and innovation as always, the LP ranges from the shocking blast of ‘Doomed User’ to the heart-wrenching balladry of ‘Hearts/Wires’. After seeing some of these songs live in the pouring rain in the East Midlands in June, they seemed even more poignant. I’m also really looking forward to their Wembley Arena gig in May. Long live the might of Deftones.

 

4) DIIV – ‘Is The Is Are’

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To say the least, it’s been a turbulent few years for DIIV’s frontman, Zachary Cole Smith, since the release of breakthrough debut record, ‘Oshin’ in 2012. Himself and partner, Sky Ferreira, a successful solo artist in her own right, have been arrested on grounds of drug possession and driving under the influence. They’ve also faced battling respective heroin addictions and spent time in rehab. We were honestly probably lucky to hear the new hour-long album from DIIV all the way back in February, and I’m so glad we did. Touching heavily on the addictive lifestyle of Smith, some of the most startling lyrics are heard in tracks like ‘Mire (Grant’s Song)’. ‘I was high, but now I feel low, my own private, I dunno’ whispers Zachary. ‘Is The Is Are’ is a massive, dream-indie-pop soundscape of the past four years of Smith’s life, and it’s one you can get beautifully lost in.

 

3) Frank Ocean – ‘Blonde’

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There is only one Frank Ocean, only one person like him in the whole universe. After what felt like twenty years of delaying this stupidly anticipated album; he goes and releases it exclusively on Apple Music, just days after teasing the world with his visual album, ‘Endless’, which was able to stream on the same service. I eventually heard it when it became available to stream on Spotify, and I was blown away. You know what I love most about this album though? It’s not the dreaminess of it, or the incredibly mesmeric vocals that Frank exploits hugely throughout… it’s actually the hope that one day I’ll be able to physically buy the album and listen to it on my stereo, therefore experiencing it yet again in a different light. I feel like you have to listen to ‘Blonde’ at least ten times to even start to get a grip on just how stunning it is. The man has clearly had ideas pouring out of him since ‘Channel Orange’. ‘Facebook Story’ is my personal highlight. It’s a big middle finger to the digital age, dawning the realisation that people take social media far too seriously, causing the downfall of genuine relationships. This album has cemented Ocean’s status as one of the greatest modern musicians on the planet, he’s simply in a different league.

 

2) Savages – ‘Adore Life’

Image result for savages adore life

It’s not been a particularly grand year for concept albums, but this is by far the best of the few we’ve had. The coolest ladies in town, Savages, released ‘Adore Life’ way back in January. One of the most relatable of the year, this album is one about love, lust and desperation. ‘Is it human to adore life’ is the powerful message that rings through on stand-out moment, ‘Adore’, a five-minute crescendo of ear-splattering guitar playing from Gemma Thompson, who plays the best she ever has on this fine record. Great to listen to in a dark and gloomy room, this is a phenomenally dynamic LP from a band who can’t do any wrong and are keeping post-punk alive and kicking. With albums like this, they’ll easily be headlining festivals in the next five years. Keep it up, girls.

 

1) Radiohead – ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’

Image result for a moon shaped pool

OKAY, I KNOW. I just couldn’t resist! My Number 1 album of 2016 is, without a shadow of a doubt, Radiohead’s ninth studio effort, ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’.

Goodness me, where do I even begin? I should probably begin by saying that it’s incredible that after twenty (plus) years, Thom Yorke and company can release some of their finest ever work; keeping their whole discography so consistently different, thought-provoking and imaginative. ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ came out after more teases than Kanye West and Frank Ocean on the tube with masks on, with a political message more than anything.

The ‘Burn The Witch’ video was released to the world just before Great Britain decided to leave the European Union. Produced in stop-motion animation, this video, according to writer Mark Hogan, ‘reflects the rhetoric of family values used by right-wing politicians such as Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen and members of the UK Independence Party’. Funny, that. Cherished with wonderful orchestration that was mostly directed by Jonny Greenwood (guitarist) and Nigel Godrich (producer), this track gives life to a body of work that doesn’t come around too often. The second track, ‘Daydreaming’, is something I too have to mention. This is a six-minute stop-traffic moment that is beautiful, eerie, pulsating, demonic, lazy and dreamy, all at the same time. I’ve listened to this song at 6 in the morning when getting up to go to work, and at 6 in the morning when I’ve got in from a night out. It works anywhere and everywhere, and is probably my song of the year.

What’s most incredible about ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ is that, even after I’ve been praising it as I have above, I don’t believe it’s their best album. It’s not even their second best. For me, this album only just falls behind ‘OK Computer’ and ‘In Rainbows’. That is staggering when you listen to the album and think about it. Radiohead are just one of those bands. They’re never going to get boring because they’re never going to run out of ideas or ambition. People probably think their music is boring, but I see the bigger picture. This year, I’ve seen one of the biggest and best bands of our time release an album that will stay with me forever. Seeing them perform these songs at Glastonbury in June is going to be magical for me, I’m literally counting down the days! Thank you Radiohead, thank you so bloody much.

 

 

Well, that’s it. I think I’ve wittered on enough now. Hope you enjoyed the post. Tell me if you agree or disagree, and what your favourite albums of 2016 are. See you next year folks, keep listening!

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

The New Norm

Woah, it’s certainly been a while since I’ve written anything on here. Truth be told, I did mean to write about the whole Fabric saga, but thankfully this blog post will relate to that in some ways.

So I had a little bit of a gig bender this weekend, beginning with travelling to Blackpool on Friday to see the awesomeness of the Chemical Brothers deliver some block-rockin’ beats to the Empress Ballroom, then straight into Sheffield to watch Bobby Gillepsie and the rest of the Primal Scream lot play a brilliant set of feel-good classics and new, more electronic-inspired numbers. A bit of a ’90s gig bender really!

All I wanted to write about really was what seems to be the norm in music venues and clubs all across the country; hard drug-taking, and a lot of it at that. In Blackpool, I was a bit taken aback at one point to find that some older bloke than me who looked like an accountant attempting to relive his youth, offered me some chewing gum. Now, for those who might not be as familiar with the effects of ecstasy, the chemicals in MDMA cause people to ‘gurn’, meaning that their jaws swing, sometimes uncontrollably, from side to side. You know when someone’s gurning basically, and I’m led to believe that chewing gum helps ecstasy users to resist biting the insides of their mouths or gums, and therefore not damaging their mouths as much.

I can quite honestly say that I did not partake in the consuming of MDMA at the Chemical Brothers gig,  nor any drug for that matter, so I’m not sure why my accountant friend presumed I was high.

I’ll tell you why, it’s because I was thoroughly enjoying myself and bouncing up and down and dancing just as much as the people in that crowd who were in fact on drugs. And you know why? Because I’m a music fan. I was out with my good friend seeing a DJ duo I’d always longed to see live. In 2016, it now seems to be the norm to take a copious amount of narcotics in music venues, clubs, and even pubs to some degree. Therefore, you’re an unusual part of the experience if you’re not delving into that world through choice.

That’s pretty much my conclusion on the matter. When my accountant friend offered me some Wrigley’s, it got me thinking about the state of the live music and nightlife culture in the UK. People for whatever reason need to accessorise these experiences, whether it be through Class A drugs or getting your phone out and spending an hour on Snapchat rather than actually physically enjoying yourself with your mates. The same can be said for alcohol however, and we’re definitely all guilty of that. Swings and roundabouts possibly? As for the technology aspect of it, that’s a whole different conversation altogether, one which I can’t get into, otherwise I’d be sat here all night typing. It is deeply fascinating though, as well as hugely worrying at the same time.

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2016 in Uncategorized