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Arcane Roots, Black Peaks & Gallery Circus // Live Review @ Portland Arms, Cambridge

Riffs: The Portland Arms probably hasn’t seen as many gurn-inducing riffs as it did on Thursday night for a very long time. Arcane Roots are currently on their biggest tour ever, appropriately dubbed the ‘megataurus rex’, and came to Cambridge with support from the equally eminent Black Peaks and Gallery Circus.

Despite the fairly sparse crowd, Gallery Circus opened with hugely endearing vigour, and quickly exploded into a remarkable set. The Geordie twins made the stage look inadequate, frantically jittering from one corner to the other, while thoroughly unpredictable and intriguing sounds blasted from the brothers’ respective weapons. Literally stand-up drumming twinned with futuristic rock n’ roll-esque guitar riffs made for a captivating show that intensified exponentially. The beaming pair announced their departure with one final show of their almost unparalleled on-stage chemistry, the final song featuring – not for the first time – their mastery of the stop/start antics that so many would find near impossible.

Image courtesy of Jonathan Dadds

Black Peaks have experienced something of a meteoric rise of late, and are making several festival appearances this summer, which will only improve their chances of blowing the heads off as many people as possible. Head-banging is nigh on impossible to avoid while watching these guys. Gargantuan bass lines command the sound, while brutally powerful drums, furiously heavy guitar and a scream that makes Roger Daltry sound like a gurgling baby, make for a colossal show. New song ‘Set In Stone’ is particularly impressive, with front-man Will Gardner ominously staring above our heads before erupting into another almost overwhelmingly deafening scream. The inescapable prowess of these Brighton boys is astonishing during their closing track and main single ‘Glass Built Castles’. If you want to witness god-like power in musical form, go and see these guys, you won’t regret it.

Image courtesy of Sophia Groves @SophiaAGroves

As Arcane Roots take the stage in front of a now adequately warmed up crowd, the realisation that the quality of the evening can still get better is a heavenly one. Starting off with the first single from their 2013 album ‘Blood & Chemistry’, ‘Slow’ is an instantly recognisable opener that immerses you in their complex and intense sound from the very first chord. Despite it’s evident intricacy, the performance is flawless, and we are quickly escorted into ‘Sacred Shapes’. Immaculate pinch harmonics bring a well-deserved smile to lead-guitarist and vocalist Andrew Groves, who was clearly having an awful lot of fun, and his ensuing burst of rock-fuelled energy transfers that fun into the already gleeful audience.

Image courtesy of Carla Mundy @CarlaMundy

‘Over and Over’ comes next, their most recent release from last year, the crowd bounces along with it’s massively sing-a-longable chorus and infectious verse riff, exhibiting the Surrey three piece’s song writing ability brilliantly. A modest build up leads into ‘Energy Is Never Lost, Just Redirected’, the opening track from ‘Blood and Chemistry’, and is followed by another bafflingly energetic yet faultless performance. Those of us in the room who have waited patiently over the last year were excited to say the least by the next track, a new song entitled ‘Leaving’ that will be on their next record due out this September. Featuring typically divine riffs, and some quite ridiculously huge soaring vocals, this song goes down as well as the band could have hoped, and left us all wishing away the months between now and September.

Image courtesy of Sophia Groves @SophiaAGroves

A mesmerising delay-guitar interlude makes way for ‘Resolve’, which is then followed appreciably by ‘Left Fire’ stalwart ‘Million Dollar Question’, which is closed out with something reminiscent of a Muse post-‘Stockholm Syndrome’ riff extravaganza. A rare slower moment is brought on by the intro to ‘Hell and High Water’, which exhibits some of the skill and raw power of stand in Jack Wrench (In Dynamics), who is replacing usual drummer Daryl Atkins. Another new song ‘If Nothing Breaks Us, Nothing Moves’ – due to be released as a single in the coming weeks – arrives next. Groves humbly announces how much he’s enjoying himself – “it feels like I’m playing to family” – before unleashing this provocatively catchy tune that begs the audience to bounce along. The unmistakable drum and bass combination of ‘You Are’ tragically signals the final song of the set, with Adam Burton’s perhaps sometimes overlooked bass virtuosity taking centre stage. The haunting guitar tapping of this songs’ intro is just magical, and is one of many reasons why this song is such a fan favourite. The baying crowd bellows out the final few lines with Groves before the last big chords are played and the night is done.

The musical ability on show was just awe-inspiring. All three of these bands deserve recognition far beyond that which they are receiving currently, and I sincerely hope that more people are at some point in their lives privileged enough to be able to see any or all of them with their own eyes.

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Nordic Giants // A Séance Of Dark Delusions – Review

Live shows don’t come more spectacular, immersive and awe-inspiring than when Nordic Giants take the stage. Their performances have been captivating fans across the continent for a while now, and the release of their first full length record is sure to stir a great deal of excitement among those who know just what these guys are capable of. Nordic Giants’ unique and inventive sound lends itself to a phenomenal live show, but how will ‘A Séance Of Dark Delusions’ compare when they have already set the bar so high?

‘Elysian Skies’ opens the record, and is immediately recognisable to those who have heard anything from Nordic Giants before. Their use of drawn out atmospheric synth and string sounds combine with heavenly vocals to mesmerise the listener into a splendid state of calm and curiosity about what they have got in store. Building slowly, introducing some brilliantly synced brass, before disappearing into silence, the opener sets the scene gloriously.

Our curiosity is somewhat satisfied when ‘Evolve Or Perish’ commences. Elegant noise plays in the background of some empirical electronic sounds, before Nordic Giants’ characteristic soaring piano comes into play along with burgeoning drums, immediately showing that their live sound can be converted on to a record and still have the same goose-bump inducing effect. A brief interlude for a poignant sample of a speech – perfectly resonating with the tracks title – eventually plays along with the instrumental backing to fully engage the listener on all fronts.

Image courtesy of http://musicalmathematics.co.uk/

Rapture‘ introduces the first of a number of featured artists on the album, with Beth Cannon’s delicate voice adding further depth to a slightly more vibrant track than the last, which marches on with crashing snare-symbol combinations. Layered vocals race unrelentingly right through till the end, before track four commences with intriguing and captivating echoes. ‘Give Flight To The Imagination’ featuring more guest vocals from Freyja, is a gentle atmospheric number, bringing the tempo and tone of the album down dramatically from its forceful beginnings.

This slower pace does not last however, as we are again thrown into the majestic ambience of Nordic Giants’ vivid sound on ‘Dissolve’. This time a male voice can be heard via Saturday Sun, though it materialises in a similarly angelic style to the previous vocals. They accompany a sound of real vigour and prowess, with a slower tempo contributing towards a fierce and heavy tone; while always maintaining the trademark four-stroke piano riff throughout. ‘Illuminate’ uses an interesting new stimulus to keep things fresh, steering the record clear of any potential monotony expertly. Plucked sounds flirt with pulsating vocals, before an imposing burst breaches the middle of the track. Further interesting electronic sounds persist along with the lyric-less vocals, until another distinctive piano led burst, gaining volume and intensity before another abrupt end.

Nordic Giants

A very rare photo that I actually took myself at ArcTanGent Festival 2014

‘Futures Dark’ featuring Nadine Wild Palmer is yet another Nordic Giants barnstormer. If you didn’t know what Nordic Giants sounded like before now, you certainly won’t forget them for a long time after this mammoth four minutes. The short penultimate track ‘Black Folds’ again builds slowly and persistently, until the spine tingling brass echoes audible inspiration as only brass can do in this thoroughly satisfying short piece.

Closing with a seven minute titan, ‘A Thousand Lost Dreams’ builds excruciatingly, quietening down just as you feel like you can’t take the suspense any longer. Exploding into colossal life after what feels like an eternity, tearing through the suspense into something biblical. Apocalyptic roars of pure Nordic Giants perfection engulf the listener and finalise what has been a truly astonishing séance. No doubt this track, and album as a whole will be phenomenal to see live, with their ingenious use of relatively basic instruments, unparalleled use of the visual arts, and unmistakable attire, Nordic Giants will simply never disappoint.

A Séance Of Dark Delusions is released in the UK on 04/05/2015

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Vessels // Dilate – Review

Listening to music featuring little or no traditional instruments can prove understandably challenging for many, with some perhaps immediately disregarding it as background music, or losing patience with an apparent lack of substance, or reward for the perpetual build. Progressive electronica is fairly easy to promote to the die hard fans, but infinitely more difficult to make accessible to the masses. Whether Vessels intend to attempt this with their new record ‘Dilate’ remains to be seen, but I’d wager I’ll be hard pressed to use the words ‘generic’ or ‘predictable’ when describing it.

Eight quite lengthy tracks are introduced by ‘Vertical’, with looped percussion and distant bass sounds gently guiding us into the first thirty seconds of the record, before the bass intensifies and it’s melody carries us along for a while. Building magnificently slowly, chopping helicopter-like sounds brew ominously until a hugely nod-able beat bears down, eventually making way for some starry blends that take over for the close out of the song. Following on seamlessly into ‘Elliptic’, where bass is once again the driving force, yet beautifully controlled and far from overpowering. Repetitive sounding hooks are ever-present, but are kept fresh brilliantly through the constant addition of new elements, percussion especially during this track, while the beat remains un-phased by it’s changeable compatriots in sound.

‘Echo In’ alters the tone slightly with a more soothing bass sound, contrasted by a solid drum beat, meticulously built around a sharp snare. Enchanting melodies are layered upon a bubbling background, which lasts throughout this relatively short track, although given the overlapping merging of tracks, song length doesn’t really play a part in an album that is evidently designed to be listened to from start to finish. Vocals are heard clearly for the first time on ‘As You Are’, and play a seminal role in this subdued dream of a track, although the percussion backing once again provides something else for the listener to think about.

Intriguing futuristic sounds beckon is into track five ‘Attica’, which features a much bigger sound than has been heard before. Intense synth builds at an oddly enticing rate, and there is no pronounced ‘drop’ like you may find in other similar tracks, instead you simply find yourself soaring through huge sounds almost without you realising. ‘On Monos’ catches a breath before breaking back into a thudding drum beat while almost incomprehensible vocals echo sporadically. The very occasional use of vocals reminds us these sounds are made by human beings, not by some superior AI from the future.

Back to the basic bass and beats for ‘Glass Lake’, making way for a raving mid-section that could effortlessly get a room full of revellers moving, though it really would need to be very loud indeed, as it just doesn’t pack the same punch when listening at a regular volume. The final track ‘On Your Own Ten Toes’ then starts in much the same way as the others, though one can’t help but hope for something spectacular to close out a hugely enjoyable record. The humming bass acts as an ominous, yet upbeat foundation, while a quickly fluctuating sparkle of sound leads the way for the beat that follows. ‘Vessels’ likely never intended on this track reaching the size of the sounds heard on ‘Attica’, but I for one would have enjoyed perhaps something a little more spectacular to close out what is a fascinatingly modern record.

The sound of this record could potentially be described as something of a relay race of sound, with different elements and features taking their turn, then passing each track on to a different hook to carry for a while. It is executed extremely well, never becoming difficult to follow and always giving the listener something new to engage with, without ever becoming overwhelmed with too many different things going on.

Dilate is out Monday 02/03/2015

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Kodaline // Coming Up For Air – Review

Irish 4-piece Kodaline release their all important second album ‘Coming Up For Air’, which brings with it the unenviable task of bettering their breakthrough record ‘In A Perfect World’, an album that saw them gain widespread popularity in an increasingly difficult musical climate.

The opening track and lead single from the album ‘Honest’, gets things off to a prompt start, and immediately introduces us to the echoing synth sounds and “wooaah’s” that play a vital role in the composition of this record. Huge synth bass carries the poignant chorus, with Steve Garrigan asking “Is it in you to be honest?” Switching between relatively intense sounds and more solemn vocal parts makes this opening track an engaging and effortlessly catchy start. ‘The One’ follows on pleasantly with a gentle introduction featuring piano and Garrigan’s reflective vocals. This shamelessly gushing love song is made all the more enjoyable by well controlled strings and inventive synth sounds skulking behind the echoing guitars.

‘Auto Pilot’ begins with gentle percussion, followed by subtle guitar, smooth vocals and some sensitive harmonies. The percussive backing remains throughout, while the vocals build and the backing choir adds satisfying depth to what is instrumentally a relatively simple song. The alarming guitar and synth sounds wake us up promptly in ‘Human Again’. “I got a pain in my heart and a pain in my chest, I wanna be human again” rings out over a contrastingly upbeat sound, powered by a stamping snare drum. Raising the vocals an octave further emphasises the desire for positive change that screams from this track. ‘Unclear’ almost sounds like it’s been recorded underwater, with only whispering vocals and bass guiding us initially, before the ever present ‘wooaah’s’ again come into play. The choir of young voices is brilliantly used to once again hammer us into an unavoidably positive mood.

The sixth track, which bares an immense resemblance to Coldplay’s ‘Hurts Like Heaven’, features yet more wooing along with simple but hugely effective guitar riffs that explode into Garrigan’s “coming alive!”. Altering the riffs slightly each time keeps the track fresh and interesting, and staunchly maintains the records obdurately optimistic feel. ‘Lost’ is a track that wouldn’t be out of place on a recent ‘Muse’ album, with futuristic sounds fluctuating behind the rest of the track, in a similar vein to the heavily adjusted guitars that play a key role in the following track ‘Ready’. Very simple structurally, but effortlessly catchy, the piercing high notes towards the end of the song work surprisingly well and make up for the regrettably lazy lyrics of the chorus.

Acoustic guitar is used prominently for the first time on track nine ‘Better’, which is a turning point in the album, moving from relentless positivity to inconsolable sorrow in the blink of an eye. “It doesn’t feel right” saps the good feeling that has been built up for the duration of the album thus far, but gloriously delivered vocals in the chorus rouse this impossibly beautiful track into something of a show piece, with building strings accompanying the vocals superbly. “Cause it’s making me worse” aptly brings the song to an end, and leaves the listener wondering what an earth happened between tracks eight and nine to warrant such pristine melancholia. Mercifully though, spotting the title of the next track will settle the bottom lip of any potentially blubbering listeners. ‘Everything Works Out In The End’ is a contemplative track which returns to a positive tone, with soothing vocal accompaniment and prominent piano helping to build us back up again.

The penultimate track cracks off suddenly, with some ‘ooing’, and what may well be a kazoo in the mix. “Nobody’s gonna carry you” is a fitting lyric in this uplifting and motivating song that utilises a huge array of different instruments. ‘Love Will Set You Free’ closes out the record perfectly, persevering with the reflective tone “This ain’t no sad song, life has to go on”. The piano, drums and acoustic guitar are fortified with brass and a large choir of woah-ers, all while Garrigan majestically serenades us into a delightfully happy place.

‘Coming Up For Air’ then is a record that will likely satisfy those listeners who have wanted something new from the alt-rock/pop scene. It’s hugely accessible lyrics, uplifting and – for the most part – positive tone, combined with the modern feel of the album make it difficult to dislike, and with heavenly tracks like ‘Better’, I can see them outdoing their first release with ease.

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Lonely The Brave, Sam Duckworth & Bloody Knees – Live Review

Cambridge may not have as diverse a musical heritage as other towns and cities across the UK, but that doesn’t mean it can’t make you feel like a proud father of five (despite being a resident for barely 6 months) when it’s most exciting sons ‘Lonely The Brave’ return home to show off their prowess that was nurtured in Cambridge not so long ago. Anticipation was in the air, anticipation for what was inevitably going to be an exceptional night, and one that Cambridge could feel rightly chuffed about.

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Bloody Knees

Lonely The Brave may have established themselves as Cambridge’s most well supported act on the scene at the moment, but Bloody Knees are without question the most exciting new act to come out of Cambridge since LTB themselves, and were a no brainer to open for them this evening. Grunge at it’s modern finest comes billowing from the stage along with the rasping vocals and thunderous drums that only intensify as their set progresses.

‘Bones’ is a particularly tight number that forced at least a nod out of the majority of the crowd, and was followed shortly thereafter by ‘Never Change’, the slowest song of their set by someway, and in my opinion the strongest. Vast growling guitar sounds and perfectly matched vocals made this a real spine tingling spectacle, worthy of the almost stunned applause it garnered from the now transfixed audience. ‘Stitches’ is another barnstormer, and the title of their latest record released earlier this year. “I’m covered in blood, but at least I’m having fun” is a snippet gifted to us in amongst the largely fuzzy lyrics, but this takes nothing away from the appropriately volatile delivery of the vocals from Brad Griffiths.

Sam Duckworth

Taking on the unenviable task of filling the gap between two Cambridge favourites was ex ‘Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly’ frontman Sam Duckworth. His mix of straight talking lyrics and impressive acoustic guitar work was a drastic contrast to the aforementioned grunge extravaganza, and as a result struggled to captivate the audience. Every song was clearly sung from the heart, but the fact that it was his well informed and delivered political rant on immigration and tax evasion that received the biggest cheer of the set proved that this audience were more than ready for their homecoming headliners.

Lonely The Brave

Come 9:30, the Junction was utterly rammed with expectant friends and fans, and come the lowering of the lights, the noise must have reassured any fears the band might have had that no one would turn up to witness their return to where it all began. ‘Call Of Horses’ is a pucker choice for an opener, easing us into their sound perfectly. Beckoned on by guitarist Mark Trotter, the crowd obligingly joins in with the incredibly singalong-able ‘Trick of the Light’, and even by the second song of the set you feel they have shown exactly why they evoked such excitement and expectation on their return to Cambridge.

Despite Trotters apparent confidence on stage, the band as a whole don’t emanate confidence in the same way that ‘Bloody Knees’ or many other bands on the scene seem to, particularly vocalist David Jakes, who often stands side on to the audience, slightly hunched over, clutching the front of his t shirt with an odd sort of gurn on his face. It’s unique and actually refreshing, especially when compared to the vast majority of frontmen who harass the audience into joining them in song. That said, what’s also refreshing is just how impeccably powerful and magnificently controlled his voice is, sounding if anything even better live than on ‘The Days War’, their album from which all but a couple of the nights set is taken from.

‘Kings of the Mountain’ is a track that deserves even more recognition than it is likely to get, with my other half stating “I could totally hear that song in the charts if it had a dance-y backing”, a statement which I can’t help but agree with (but think would be a tragedy and discredit to the band if it happened), and one that could easily apply to their entire discography. Soaring vocals and guitar work in perfect harmony to seduce the audience into a comfortable state of ecstasy, ready for an alluringly slow rendition of ‘Islands’, and then thrust into their most lively offering ‘Black Saucers’. Even the more elderly members of an incredibly diverse audience found themselves compelled into movement.

The set managed to maintain it’s intensity and authenticity with ease, thanks in no small part to the array of exceptionally well written songs that were immaculately performed by 5 men who can only be destined for even greater things. Leaving their two biggest crowd pleasers till the end, ‘Backroads’ goes down an absolute storm, with Jakes’ “I’ll be the sky and you’ll be the bird” proposal being raucously roared back at him. ‘The Blue, The Green’ finishes the set in bloody brilliant fashion, Jakes tears apart huge vocals before the climax, when Brad Griffiths reappears to leap into the crowd for a great big Cambridge love-in.

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Decade, Light You Up, Hey Vanity, Standing Like Statues – Live Review

The music scene in Cambridge may not be quite as burgeoning as in other towns and cities around the country, but if this show taught me anything, it’s that scene strength makes no difference to how much one man can enjoy a gig.

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I was greeted by this endearing poster on my arrival, and was pleasantly surprised to see an extra band added to the bill. 4 bloody bands in one night for £9 (kept my coat with me like the shrewd economically aware genius that I am), get the fuck, in.

Standing Like Statues

Having only lived in Cambridge for a few months, I was eager to see what the locals had to offer. Though not hugely experienced, SLS held their own extremely well, particularly given some hideously frustrating and prolonged technical issues. Once these were out of the way however, their ability shone through. Frontman Jamie Wiltshire’s performance was particularly top notch, powering out lyrics with visible passion, accompanied by Beth Dalton, who is something of a pioneer given how few female band members you see around the circuit.

Hey Vanity

Next up was Hey Vanity, who I was particularly keen to see following their reformation from post-hardcore outfit Fei Comodo. The tightness of these boys was a real treat, as was the flawless stubble sprouting from all 4 chins. HV really set the standard, not just performance wise, but the atmosphere they created in the room made it all the more enjoyable. Exuding friendliness, and evoking some dusty old memories of Ace Ventura with their modest inter-song chat, I found myself grinning the whole way through. ‘Broken Artist’ was a personal highlight, as this well written track kicks off with a nod-worthy little riff which perseveres throughout, leaving you craving whatever else they have in their arsenal of finely crafted tunes. We were then informed by vocalist and guitarist Marc Halls that they would be playing a couple of new tracks, and these served to further improve my (and hopefully everyone else in the rooms) opinion of these immensely talented gentlemen.

Light You Up

I mentioned the impressive passion coming out of Standing Like Statues’ frontman, but I’m afraid he was trumped by Tom Napier, who wouldn’t have been out of place fronting Guns N’ Roses with his on, and mostly off stage antics. Jumping about like it was his last ever show, you have to admire his enthusiasm. Taking nothing away from the band, the songs were solid and very listenable, and they were (as was a delightful theme of the night) clearly enjoying themselves. The last song saw some crowd participation when Beth from SLS was invited on stage to roar out the final chorus, and the audience was rewarded with a very sincere thanks for watching.

Decade

The headliners of the night were Decade, a band I’d seen this summer at 2000 Trees festival, and was keen to see again as they were immediately likeable. With an awkwardly expert approach to proceedings, it’s wall to wall catchy classics, from the boppy brilliance of ‘Brainfreeze’ to the tormented and terrific ‘I Don’t Care’. Minor technical difficulties took nothing away from their show of skills, and we were given a lesson in how to entertain an audience without flailing about on stage like a daddy long-legs searching for it’s purpose in life. The crowd interaction cemented this show as probably the friendliest I’ve ever been to, it was just so bloody nice. Finishing off with exactly the same vigour that accompanied the first song, the pleasingly dense crowd was evidently having as good a time as I was, and the band left the stage looking rightly chuffed. I defy anyone to walk away from a Decade show and not have at least one of their songs welded to the forefront of their mind, they really are tremendously infectious and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

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Nicki Minaj’s Arse – A Lamentable Role Model

Listening to Radio 1 is often an arduous and unpleasant task for a man with such stubborn and pretentious music tastes, but my respect for the channel was inflated yesterday morning by Nick Grimshaw’s unsubtle slating of Nicki Minaj.

Her illogical and frightening popularity is perhaps the worst thing to happen to women since the Spice Girls called it a day. This is largely down to her flamboyantly sexual lyrics and excessively erotic videos that can be doing absolutely no good for the young women of today who will unfortunately see her as a role model.

So I have decided that because I am as qualified to comment on her lyrics as she is to influence the youth of today, I would take a closer look at her latest single entitled ‘Anaconda’. Rest assured reptile lovers, this song is unlikely to be a tribute to the large limbless beast you all know and love.

Watching the video, you’d be for forgiven for thinking this was some sort of nightmare aimed at any women with even a shred of pride in their gender, but no, this is serious. The video also seems to have very little to do with the subject matter of the song itself. Two major themes can be taken from the song; Miss Minaj’s pride in her “big fat ass”, which I can’t see too much of a problem with, for now at least. The other theme however raises some issues, as it seems to be describing Miss Minaj’s sexual attraction towards murderous drug dealers.

To start, we are greeted with the notion that someone in the possession of an ‘anaconda’ has no interest in a ‘hun’ who hasn’t got ‘buns’. Literally, this can only mean gentlemen who may or may not be supernaturally well-endowed are only interested in women with a large posterior. A huge generalisation at the very least, not mentioning the immediate body issues that this simple opening verse raises. So, off to a questionable start.

The first verse spat by Miss Minaj is an eloquent summary of her admiration for a young man named Troy. I see little reason not to assume young Troy is lucky enough to be a proud owner of an ‘anaconda’ given that the entire first verse is about him and his lucrative lifestyle of drug dealing, which allows him to purchase gifts for Miss Minaj that the regular Grass Snake owner could only dream of. The verse then gets a bit silly when drug fuelled murder is threatened. Take from that what you will kids.

This leads on nastily to the chorus, which, in true Nicki Minaj style, is entirely based around sex and her confidence in how unconventionally attractive her plastic backside makes her. Finishing with the poetic line “Dun duh dun dun dun dun dun”; we glide into the second verse after some light-hearted drivel from Sir Mix-a-Lot, and an ear strangling few lines depicting a jealous competitor exclaiming their forgivable disgust at Miss Minaj’s rear (I may well run out of arse synonyms very soon).

Something's not quite right here

Something’s not quite right here

The second verse is a pleasant mixture of the first verse and chorus, a shamelessly sexual description of another drug dealing acquaintance. When describing our new friend Michael, Miss Minaj doesn’t feel the need to continue with the serpent imagery, but instead moves on to towers to describe his colossal manhood. “Dick bigger than a tower, I ain’t talking bout Eiffels”, so we can narrow it down to being bigger than any form of tower, but no bigger than the Eiffel tower. Doesn’t narrow it down all that much but we get the message. The rest of the verse really is such gibberish I won’t be wasting my time looking into it, but the basic jist of it is he deals some cocaine then compares her sexual organs to Romaine lettuce.

Following the second chorus our ears are lovingly invited to listen to some of Miss Minaj’s trademark maniacal laughter and nonsensical rambling. She dedicates the song to her “bitches with a fat ass in the fucking club”; which is blunt but not THAT offensive, however following this up with “fuck those skinny bitches in the club” really does cement her as an unparalleled hindrance to the women of the world.

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Rock? Pop? Does it matter? Not at all, but I’m going to say it anyway

Last week I read this article on the BBC website claiming rock music had overtaken pop music in the UK album chart. My immediate thought was that this seems unlikely, but I’ll read it and see if this bold and broad statement has any weight.

“Rod Stewart’s ‘Time’ was the best-selling album to be classified as rock by the Official Charts Company, followed by Arctic Monkeys and Bastille”

Got to be classified as something right? Just makes things a bit easier. But where do you draw the line? And who gets to draw it? Is it fair for Rod Stewart to be in the same classification as Behemoth, who are the current number 37 in the Rock & Metal album chart? I’d argue that Rod Stewart’s music is far more similar to the likes of James Blunt, who finds himself in the top 20 of the pop album charts. My point is, I think, that genres are so crazily difficult to categorise accurately that statements such as “rock overtakes pop” are drastically too broad and vague to be considered accurate, and are frankly better off just being ignored.

The charts are something I struggle to take seriously, as you probably know, and I’m somewhat out of touch, but I think it’s worth pointing out that the music in the charts doesn’t even come CLOSE to covering the illimitable array of music that is out there that doesn’t receive the same publicity, and perhaps as a result does not appeal to as many people.

“Woolly definition”

It would appear Mark Savage, a BBC news entertainment reporter, agrees with me to an extent, as he claims that “Rock’s resurgence is helped by the Chart Company’s rather woolly definition – which includes Mumford and Sons (surely a folk-pop band) and Rod Stewart (better suited to the MOR category)”. Woolly is an interesting term, but I’d take it a step further and just describe their whole definition process as irrelevant and meaningless. If you’re going to cram anything with even a faint murmur of a guitar sound into the ‘rock’ genre, I say don’t bother. It’s as useful as a marine biologist comparing red fish to blue fish, when there are 35 million different sub-types of each.

I’m not saying “oh that’s not rock music, that’s just shitty old pop”; as easy as that would be, I certainly don’t have the right to make such a spunky claim, but I also don’t feel anyone else really does, apart from the artists themselves. But even then, if Katy Perry decided to claim she was a pig metal artist, well that would just be outrageous and fantastic, but she clearly isn’t, so there has to be a line somewhere. Either way genres exist, whether they can be categorically defined or not, and are an unavoidable aspect of music.

Both the BBC article, and the Chart Company’s genre’s are in my opinion complacent and inattentive. If I was in a self proclaimed metal band, and found myself sandwiched in the ‘rock’ charts between Rod Stewart and some other has-been with a marriage repertoire comparable to Henry VIII, I’d be pretty pissed off.

Should these two be classified as the same genre? Listen for yourself

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The Top 10. An Analysis Of The Pretentious Kind (part 2)

As was evident in part 1, I didn’t have the stamina to get through the whole of the top 10 in one go, so I split it in half, and here’s the second for you to waste time reading. These are the 5 most popular songs in the UK right now, let’s see how much respect for the population I lose (or gain, let’s not be too pessimistic (definitely lose)) over the next few songs.

5. Katy B – Crying For No Reason

This is a comparatively good song. The piano backing gives solid foundations to a reasonably well written and interesting song, that doesn’t follow the same formula of verse, build up, drop, chorus that a worrying majority of popular songs seem to stick to. Lyrically it’s simplicity done well, and is probably easy to relate to if you find yourself crying at things like standing on a woodlouse, waving goodbye to someone you’ll definitely see later that day, dropping toast butter-side down, mistyping the word ‘ok’, losing an eyelash… the possibilities are endless. Good work.

4. Gorgon City & MNEK – Ready For Your Love

Another mindless classic. This song was actually something of a guilty pleasure before I considered it properly. Painfully predictable and uninspiring lyrics, featuring a completely irrelevant astrological observation at the beginning of the breakdown, lend themselves to this song being a hit for any zombie in a dank and depressing nightclub. If you manage anything more than a slow sway to this poor excuse for a house tune, you’re trying too hard, and you know you are.

3. Pharrell Williams – Happy

I don’t know where he’s come from, but Pharrell Williams has managed to go from moderately successful beginnings, to basically being the king of pop music. He’s always there, sometimes with nice harmless songs such as this, but more often with quite unnervingly popular songs such as ‘Blurred Lines’, which miraculously got away with being a blatant display of male chauvinism. His domination is similar to that of Sebastian Vettel in Formula 1. Yeah well done mate, you’ve got to number one with a little help from mountains of cash and electronic equipment you pretend to know how to use, AGAIN, lend me a tenner you clever bastard. Admittedly though this is a nice song, almost impossible to dislike, as hard as I’m trying.

2. Will.I.Am – Feelin’ Myself (ft. Miley Cyrus, French Montana & Whiz Kalifa)

Where, the fuck, do I begin. Will.I.Am has written the two worst songs I have ever heard, and this perverse cacophony of immeasurable hogwash has made it a trio of abhorrent sounds coming from that parasitic wart claiming to be an ‘artist’. This ‘song’ has literally made me a little bit angry. Do people really enjoy such thoughtless and hollow drivel? It pains me to inform you that this is about Mr Am being present in a nightclub and flashing his unjustifiable wealth around, in an evidently successful attempt to impress Miley Cyrus and these other two cretinous oafs who have turned up. As if this wasn’t cocky enough, he persists to tell us about the love affair he has with his reflection, proclaiming he is “da shit”. You are “da shit” that is clogging up the airwaves with your contemptible sound which only serves to highlight your grotesque lack of integrity. I could go on for hours, but I’ll save it for another time. This heinous excuse for a piece of music makes me seriously fear for the people who enjoy it.

1. Clean Bandit – Rather be (ft. Jess Glynne)

The number one then, does it deserve to be? Let’s put it this way, if Will.I.Am is deserving of number two, even the sound of John Prescott masturbating deserves to be number one. This song though is actually quite interesting. A reasonably complex electronic backing and excellent vocals provide welcome relief from the aforementioned abomination which I can’t let go. The video is fun, and again quite interesting, which I like. But I’ll tell you what I don’t like, Will.I.Am. What a class A cunt he really is.

Da Shit

There we go then, that was fun. This brief snapshot of popular music has suggested to me that although there are clearly some talented people there, they are being forced to pander to the will of the masses, who just want to listen to something that requires no thought or proper engagement. As long as there is a beat and some easy to remember words to slur at each other, people will enjoy it, which I think is a complete waste. If people enjoy listening to this sort of stuff, that’s fine, I just wish they would spend a minute or two thinking about it. Music has SO much more to offer than this lot. Think about it

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The Top 10. An Analysis Of The Pretentious Kind (Part 1)

I know I’m not alone in feeling completely left behind by the ‘Top 10’ chart. There was a time not long ago when I could reel off the top 10, perhaps even the top 20 just from memory. I’d like to say this is because I just had lots more spare time on my hands back in 2001, but I fear that is nowhere near true. Instead my tastes, and the tastes of the masses have changed, though for the latter, the overly simple term ‘change’ is arguably not the correct way to describe the drastic musical shift that shapes the charts year after year (I’ll try to clear that one up another time).

So I thought it might be fun and enlightening to listen to the top 10 as it is right now this minute. Modern music is one of very few areas of popular culture that I actually have a strong opinion on, and though I will try my best to be positive and open-minded, I can’t promise I’ll refrain from tearing whoever is responsible for a song I don’t like a new fuck.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/chart/singles

10. Jason Derulo – Trumpets

When an artist’s career peaks 3 seconds into his first release because of the way he said his own name,  you can’t blame him for becoming lazy with his lyrics. Mr Derulo decides to refer us to someone else’s songs, rather than thinking of his own lyrical assessment of the songs subject matter. Flattering for Kanye West, Katy Perry and Coldplay I’m sure… Come on JD, at least have a go, it doesn’t even have to rhyme. As for the ‘instrumentation’, it all sounds suspiciously like no real instruments were used during the recording of this song. I feel my point is proven by the final chord being the Windows 3.1/95/98 ‘Tada’.

9. Beyonce – Drunk In Love (ft. Jay Z)

I have a huge amount of respect for Beyonce. In my opinion she is the most talented female entertainer on the planet. Jay Z, phenomenally successful man, excellent rapper, but this song just makes me wonder, surely I’m not the only one who doesn’t particularly want to know about their drunken private lives? The simplistic beat is great, but leaves no escape from the onslaught of personal information hurled at us, with little or no attempt at a metaphor that would usually make songs of this ilk far more acceptable. Fair enough Jay Z’s verse probably does have plenty of meaning behind it, but I’m struggling to work out what else “your breastases is my breakfast” can really represent. A bit more subtlety and this could be neat.

8. Avicii – Hey Brother

As much as I want to hate it for being pretty boring and generic, I can’t deny this songs likeability. Frustratingly catchy lyrics, a simple and infectious melody (this is something I really need to get used to) add up to a song that’s very easy to mindlessly listen to. If in 30 years anyone has any clue who Avicii was, I’d be very surprised. But fair play, he’s hopped on the grossly overloaded bandwagon driven unrelentingly by David Guetta and isn’t harming anyone. High praise indeed.

7. Neon Jungle – Braveheart

Struggling with this one. I don’t get it at all. Erm ok, the first verse makes use of a new grammatical trend I’ve noticed. “I’m on that…” is used in several sentences that if said in normal conversation wouldn’t make any fucking sense at all. “Hey, what are you wearing tonight? Any idea what time you’ll be staying out till?” “I’m on that ripped jeans cigarette, I’m on that 3am bizarre”, “Ok thanks, see you later”. Tragically I have a bad feeling this will go the same way as the previously incorrect use of the term “literally” and actually become the norm, just because so many people say it, and have subsequently forgotten how this sort of sentence is supposed to be put together. That’s the best I can do, I’ve bored myself there.

6. Pitbull – Timber (ft. Ke$ha)

I’ve tried to be positive, really I have, but my patience is wearing thin. Pitbull has displayed his unparalleled genius via this songs awe-inspiring link between the word “down”, and the term “timber”, known popularly as the word lumberjacks would shout as a felled tree plummeted down to the ground. There’s the link, just there. That’s it. Right there. Brilliant. The song itself, I’ve pretty much already heard it 3 times today, and it’s had a different name each time, it’s boring. This song is utter horse shit. I’m going to stop now as I’m annoying myself.

This has been an interesting exercise, I’ll attempt the top 5 in the very near future

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