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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Album Reviews

Something I might not have mentioned is that I write for the student newspaper, Space. I’m part of the music section and each month, write a review on a new album that has just been released. This week, I’ve got to review Jake Bugg’s second LP, ‘Shangri-La’ and email it to the head of music at Space. I thought I’d take the time to upload my other reviews that I’ve already done this academic year. First up is King’s of Leon’s ‘Mechanical Bull’ followed by Arcade Fire’s ‘Reflektor’. Enjoy. 

 

Mechanical Bull

Kings of Leon

For fans of: Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Killers, Kasabian

After their three-year departure from releasing records and a slight Oasis-like, (but not as Mancunian or violent) spat at each other, one of the world’s biggest bands release their sixth album in a decade. Kings of Leon’s ‘Mechanical Bull’ has kept the ‘is it coincidental anymore’ theme of the five syllabic title. Album opener ‘Supersoaker’ straight away gets the listener’s attention, with a blistering chord sequence, sounding like a future classic in the band’s live setlist.

 

After two more crowd-pleasing definites from ‘Rock City’ and ‘Don’t Matter’, arguably the most emotional song on the record changes the dynamic completely. ‘Beautiful War’ is one of the more heart-wrenching numbers, grappling the listener into a transfixed state. Interestingly enough, this song was written in the same week as monster hit, ‘Use Somebody’, and you can tell, and you can hear that Caleb Followill, suggestively, was attempting to write the perfect rock song, and with those two songs amalgamated together, it pretty much is just that.

 

Stand-out song on the record, ‘Temple’ features some of the more dexterous lyrics. ‘The dance floor’s a temptress’ can be perceived in all sorts of ways, thus opening up the listener’s mind inventively. The rest of the majority of the album is littered with what one might call ‘epic’, Snow Patrol/Coldplay-esque pieces of music from the likes of ‘Tonight’ and ‘Coming Back Again’, giving the album a feel of raw instrumentality, not too overly-produced, with that Kings of Leon vibe that is so recognisable now in the music wilderness. All-in-all, it’s yet another flawless record from a band that aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

 

And now…

 

Reflektor

Arcade Fire

For fans of: Mumford & Sons, David Bowie, LCD Soundsystem

It’s the bands that start with A this year that seem to be leading the biggest returns to music fans. First it was Arctic Monkeys and now it’s Arcade Fire. Reflektor has not just been an album, far from it. It’s been a promotional campaign, an item of secretive, subtle design and a spoofy celebrity-filled romp. All of 2013 has been leading up to this epic double album, which doesn’t fail to deliver.

Longest lead single of an album maybe ever at seven minutes and thirty-three seconds, ‘Reflektor’ kicks off the journey. If you could hypothetically imagine chucking music genres in a fruit bowl and mixing Haitian rara, soul, jazz, funk, indie and latin then you get this song. It leads nicely into ‘We exist’, which is marginally reflective of the band’s style heard on second LP, ‘Neon Bible’. A church organ is distinctive and fans of the band will know that ‘Neon Bible’ was recorded in a Church.

A psychedelic sound has never been explored too much in AF’s music, until now. Let’s just say it sounds like it was recorded in a sewer, but ironically has been excellently produced. Talking of production, former LCD Soundsystem frontman, James Murphy essentially was the Rick Rubin of this operation and it’s fair to say his own work as a producer has had a wonderfully-scaping effect on the finished product, thus making the quality impeccable.

An emotional record will always feature emotional lyrics. In final song ‘Supersymmetry’, lead singer Win Butler cries ‘I know you’re living in my mind, it’s not the same as being alive’. These lyrics are literally suggestive of the whole idea behind Reflektor. Reflektor has become a business model, been created and has formed another chapter in Arcade Fire’s flawless back-catalogue.

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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

My Love Of Student Radio

I love radio, but since coming to University, I have grown to adoring student radio even more than other platforms of radio broadcast. Here at the University of Gloucestershire, we have Tone Radio, who broadcast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, just like any other radio station really. We have some real characters on it who can experiment freely, take risks and can just do whatever the hell they want to to some extent. Take my coursemate Dan, for example. He started his own show last night after hours of preparation and pulled it off excellently. His programme, ‘Saturday Night Slaughter’ is based on dark and morbid and sometimes grotesque concepts, which features packages such as ‘Serial Killer of the week’ and ‘Favourite Murder Weapons’, but always disclaims them well of not reflecting himself or Tone’s attitude towards such horrors. What I do love about it though is that it’s development. It’s development from degrading student chart shows and awful quizzes. It is post-watershed yes but it’s something different, a breath of fresh air and encapsulating to listen to. You didn’t really know what was going to come next. I had an insider view as I was with him a few hours before he went on air but I was still surprised of some of the content he came out with.

I myself have just started doing another show. As well as continuing with The Sam & Joe Show every week, today I began another programme of only one hour based on new and alternative music, benefitting myself more than anything. It shows the freedom that we’re allowed to have, that we won’t have if the miracle happens and we end up getting a job at the BBC. So I would advise any students out there who are interested in radio, or do a radio/media course to do it, try something different and if you like it and it works, roll with it. Student radio is nothing but a platform for trial and error for budding young broadcasters.

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Finally Someone Speaks Out

I read something today that enlightened me and gave me hope to a certain extent. Kings of Leon have said that pop music, and I quote, is ‘making the world a bad place’. They refer to it as ‘not even music anymore’ and bassist Jared Followill has said that he physically cannot watch pop shows as they make him cringe, mostly due to the fact that it’s all visual nowadays and is all about Britney Spear’s ripping her clothes off as quick as possible.

I personally am so glad that a massive band, arguably one of the biggest in the world, loved by millions in their own right have publicly spoken out about this subject that’s coincidentally, been going round in my head for a good few weeks now. The whole aesthetic of pop is now fully artificial, with just the visuality mattering only, thus making the Internet arguably the biggest source to find new music. If we look at Youtube, a fantastic website that is hurdled with content, it holds an obvious but still valid example. ‘What does the fox say?’, done by that German guy, I’m not even going to bother typing his name because he quite frankly doesn’t deserve the right, has already racked up over 230 million views, which is just bloody ridiculous and in comparison, Arctic Monkey’s full set at Glastonbury this year has only received 227 THOUSAND views. There must be something wrong with the world, well we know there is, it’s pretty damn evident from this statistic there that is. Yes, it may be ‘funny’ to listen to and it may be ‘hilarious’ to imitate but people are forgetting that this crap costs money, it litters the music store shelves and dominates radioplay. Ultimately, it ruins the industry. I can’t blame the artist because he’s just doing what he wants and I’ve got respect for that, but it doesn’t mean he’s talented, because he’s not. Just because someone brings out a smash hit, it does not make them a talented musician. In fact, I cannot remember the last time that a genuinely talented musician got to number one in the charts. If anyone would like to answer me on that, feel free! However, a filter, or something, must be put in place in order to save the industry.

It’s development, and I understand that but it’s poor and demeaning development. It’s the kind of development that someone who watches Big Brother on Channel 5 and laughs at Keith fucking Lemon would set out to achieve. People with lower IQs clearly and with a very little understanding of what the term, good music, means, are buying the songs that become popular and therefore won’t be able to escape.

What needs to be done is for more bands like Kings of Leon to come out and be honest about what they think of the current state of the industry and we will have to ‘develop’ from there.  

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Is It Irony?

OK, so I thought I’d best actually write something on this blog and in the last week, what’s really taken my interest is the new Lily Allen song. After 3 years of not releasing anything and in my memory, the last song she was featured on was her collaboration with Professor Green who has since released another album, Lily comes out with a raunchy video that’s taken to Youtube like a dog with a bone, spawning over 5 million hits already. The song, ‘Hard out here’ confuses me incredibly. It is much different to the likes of ‘The Fear’ and ‘Smile’ and includes lyrics such as ‘it’s hard out here for a bitch’ with slut drops galore and twerks aplenty. I have read that it is done to mock the ‘Blurred Lines’ video, of course, by Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams, but it sounds pretty damn serious to me, and there’s no doubt that it’ll shoot up to number one later on today in the charts. 

Also, in other music news, I’d like to reflect upon the recent announcements of the Download festival. Download Fest 2014 will welcome headliners Avenged Sevenfold, Linkin Park (who will play their debut album ‘Hybrid Theory’ in full) and Aerosmith to close the weekend. This is such  a massive disappointment for me as I went last year and had a wail of a time, seeing some fantastic bands, and I’ve got to say that Slipknot was possibly my gig of my life. However, that is the problem with metal, it has its limitations. One year, you’ll have a brilliant line-up come out and then the next, it will be more than awful. I can’t see the appeal of the three bands that have been announced myself as I think their time is up and we need to move on from that. The other bands supporting are Rob Zombie, Alter Bridge and Fall Out Boy, which still, isn’t much of an improvement. 

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

I’m back, I’m back on the scene, it’s Buck Blogg

After a few months out, I’ve realised that I might quite like to start blogging about music and radio specifically, rather than my life in general, I don’t want things to get too personal at all. This will also tie in with the fact that I will be starting to present three hours of radio every week on our student station (for the University of Gloucestershire), Tone Radio, and also the fact that I study Radio Production at Uni (if not already mentioned in the past).

It might not be a daily thing but if I’m listening to something different or interesting, I’ll definitely crank up the blog on my lovely new laptop that I’m extremely happy with.

Cheers!

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2013 in Uncategorized